12.30.2010

We Still Believe

It struck me last night as my boys waited for daddy to get home to light some torches they "built", that they still believe in the magic of childhood. Those torches were sticks from the woods stuck in the snow pile. Nothing else. Yet they believed they would light and burn with blue sparks and fire, because they said so. Hard to fight seven year old logic, not that I do, it's impossible to make a point with that child so we simply let them believe. The sticks became rockets, became flares, became torches and then they were torches complete with story. And they would burn.

They still believe in faeries, gnomes, leprechauns, trolls, witches, heroes, villains, dwarfs and the big one, Santa. And we let them. The world is huge place with plenty of time when they're older to realize that no, those things don't exist. I'm pretty sure in fact that someone soon will get a gleeful joy from informing Union that indeed Santa is not who he thinks it is. Boy do they have another thing coming, he'll never let them hear the end of it. When he is right he is right and righteous in his beliefs.

Are they leading a sheltered life, yes. Do I care, no. It's simple, I don't thinks kids at the age of 5 should watch PG13 movies, I don't think Transformers 2 is appropriate for my sons, they don't need the newest and hottest anything. And no, nintendo/no-friend-o is not happening here why would I want to numb their brains? What they need each day is for mom and dad to be there, loving them, supporting them, showing them the way. Kids depend on a rhythm, and that each day is just about like the next. The rhythm of life is more important than a perfect GAP hoodie, the most toys or watching violent/sexual movies. They need to believe in magical things and be free to be kids. 

Why? Too soon they will find out that all is not magical, but they need to draw on the beauty that was, to lead them through to adulthood. I know my life was somewhat magical for a long time, then I ran as far and as fast away from that, only to eventually wind up giving my kids a magical life. Imagine that. Rooted in beauty I hope they will find their way back to it and continue the cycle. It's my hope.

For now we're going to be dreaming up new leprechaun traps because he's a sneaky one! And we'll listen to stories about Santa and North Polar Bear. We'll try to light blue sparkling torches because we still believe.

Peace and Love--


12.29.2010

Caramel Apple n Onions Pork chops


I remember reading about apples n' onions in Laura Ingalls Wilder books and thinking bleck! But after 40 years I finally decided perhaps I should try it, maybe they were on to something and you know what? They were! The taste of apples and onions together is a supreme combination not to be missed, if you have never had them really do give it a try. The simple addition of pork chops makes this a one pan main meal that's so fast and easy it will become a favorite in no time flat!

Caramel Apple n' Onion Pork Chops
1 TBPS cooking oil
4 thin cut pork loin chops
salt and pepper
1 sweet onion
2 honey crisp apples
2 teaspoons sugar
1 TBSP butter

heat a skillet over medium high heat
when heated add the oil
add 2 pork chops and salt and pepper them in the pan
cook a brief 3-4 minutes per side
mean while slice the apples in about 1/2 inch slices
slice onions about the same way
toss the apples with the sugar and set aside
turn the pork chops and cook 3-4 minutes or until browned and cooked through
be sure not to cook them so long they get dry and tough
remove to a platter and cover
cook the other two chops the same way
remove to the platter also
melt the butter in the hot skillet
toss onions cook and stir for about 3 minutes
then add the apples, cook and stir until the apples are just crisp tender
add the chops back cover with apples and onions, reheat for a moment if necessary
serve immediately



I've made these twice and we love them, my kids want to say bleck too but they eat them too, well because it what's in front of them. Of course we never force them to eat but we tell them they have to eat 3 bites of everything, funny thing is they ALWAYS forget that they didn't like it at first. Ahh kids.


Peace and love--

12.28.2010

Orange Cranberry Upside Down Cake



Can we all just say "ahhhh seasonal"? I mean really is there anything that screams winter more than cranberries and oranges? A tart and tangy change up to the dessert palette of Christmas desserts this cake is like a breath of fresh wintry air. Quick to make, this homemade cake over fresh raw cranberries is flavored throughout with cutie mandarin and naval oranges for an awesome orange punch. While my kids played outside in the late afternoon sun (3:00pm) I watched from inside and baked this cake and they screamed ran around and burned off their crazies. I've rarely had time alone during this Christmas vacation and I'll take what I can get, it was so refreshing. I was pleased to have them back inside with their endless questions and looking to me to provide answers.

By the time the cake was done the sun had set and the light was gone, therefore you get only semi-decent pictures that do not do this cake justice. A big thanks to Kristin at Holy Cannoli Recipes for the inspiration for this cake, her original was delightful looking!

Orange Cranberry Upside Down Cake
 --oven 350˚

3 TBSP butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 ounces fresh raw cranberries

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, you'll need the whites too
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cutie mandarin orange-zest and juice
1 naval orange-zest and juice
milk to make the liquid equal to 1/2 cup
2 egg whites

in a 9 inch cake pan melt the butter and brown sugar together
lay the cranberries over the top in an even layer, set aside
beat sugar and butter until well creamed
add the egg yolks 1 at a time and beat well after each yolk
in a small bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt together
measure the orange juice add milk to equal 1/2 cup of liquid
scrape in zest to the liquid
whisk the egg whites until frothy, set aside
add the flour and the liquid alternately to the sugar mixture
mixing quickly after each addition
add the egg whites
mix well and pour over the cranberries in the cake pan
bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean
invert on a cake plate immediately
cool and serve



Do try to keep your fingers OUT of the hot caramel mess, I can assure the burnt fingers will in no way justify the burnt tongue you will get out of the deal. My cranberries went all wonky floaty and we not an even layer on the top, er bottom(?) of the cake. Who cares it has hot caramel mess on it!

Peace and Love--


Garlic Soup with fresh Homemade Croutons

 Never thought I'd feed my family an entire head of garlic in one meal but I did tonight. No one complained, in fact it was quite delicious. I adapted the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1. While it has a distinct garlic flavor it's not overwhelmingly garlicky, it's a great soup for cold winter nights.

Garlic Soup
2 quarts water
1 head of garlic
2 quarts of water-yes 2 more
2 teaspoons salt
2 pinches of pepper
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 Tablespoons parsley
1 bay leaf
3 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons olive oil
fresh croutons-basic recipe below
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
in a 4 quart dutch oven bring the first 2 quarts of water to boil
break the garlic head into cloves but don't peel them
when the water boils add the garlic and boil for 30 seconds
remove, drain and peel
pour out the original water
and set the second 2 quarts to boil
add the garlic, seasonings and herbs
boil gently for 30 minutes
with 10 minutes left beat the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until thick
beat the oil into the yolks in a steady stream until well incorporated
 add 1 ladle full of hot soup slowly to the egg mixture and beat well
slowly pour the hot soup through a strainer into the mixing bowl stopping occasionally stir it well
serve topped with fresh croutons and shredded swiss cheese

Fresh Croutons-Oven 350˚
2 Tablespoons butter
6 cups 1 inch bread cubes
place the butter in a 9x13 pan and pop it in the oven
let it melt, pull the pan out and pour in the bread cubes
toss to coat in the butter
return pan to the oven
bake until crispy stirring every 15 minutes or so
if you want to make croutons with flavors add a bit of minced garlic, parmesan cheese or italian seasonings before baking then bake as usual
serve with soup or salad

Peace and Love--

12.26.2010

Just Another Meatless Monday #40 Vegetarian Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Hey What's For Dinner


Well that's quite a title for this simple little recipe. A simple little recipe that's very flexible depending on what you have in the way of leftovers. We had lots of potato insides leftover from a Christmas feast of potato skins (YUM!) and I wanted to use them creatively and deliciously for a simple dinner dish. Use what you have with the general recipe below, mix and match make it your own, add meat or don't, swiss or cheddar, onions or not. This is a perfect adaptable recipe to use up all kinds of leftovers, have fun.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole
 
6 cups coarsely chopped leftover potatoes
2 cups grated swiss cheese 
1 cup milk
2 cups cooked broccoli and cauliflower
3 green onions
salt and pepper to taste


preheat the oven to 350˚
lightly grease a 9x13 or similar size pan
sprinkle about a quarter of the cheese over the bottom of the pan
snip with kitchen scissors one green onion over the cheese
in a large bowl mash the potatoes with 1 cup of cheese, the milk and the cooked vegetables  
snip the rest of the onions right into the mix
taste for salt and pepper add as needed
spread in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese
bake for 45 minutes or until heated through and crispy on top


mmmm new Le Creuset bake ware courtesy of a gift certificate
Like I said this is the perfect way to use up leftovers and make a delicious meal or side dish, endless varieties. We had a fantastic little Christmas dinner with appetizers and little bites served all day long. The choices included: potato skins, fondue, thai lettuce wraps, shrimp quesadillas with mango salsa, crab puffs and a Buche de Noel. But after all the rich treats we've been enjoying I will definitely be looking forward to a New Year cleansing, anybody else? 
Why not link up your favorite vegetarian post new or old? Link up, grab the button and have fun! 











Peace and Love--





hearthandsoulgirlichef

The Penny Worthy Project





The Penny Worthy Project:
The objective of the Penny Worthy Project is undefined as of right now. It's an idea rolling around in my head begging to get out and that's why I'm starting it without a clearly defined goal. It's a link party, it's inspiration, it's thrifted Sunday, it's your Etsy store, it's your weekly craft check-in, Ebay listings, art journal posts, recipes to share, presents to make, decorating on a budget, book selling and anything else you want it to be.
It's a study in how you are making it, surviving life with or without a job, with or with out your own home. With kids without kids. With special materials or nothing at all. What inspires you? What drives you to be creative? How are creatively making your money go farther?


We had a pretty fantastic Christmas, lots of good thrifted treats were given and received. What a glorious realization that giving and getting thrifted treasures was happily accepted by all family members. We ate, drank margaritas and good beer, ate more, opened presents, played and visited. The entire holiday was laid back and relaxed and very enjoyable.

Our personal goal this year was to cut our kids expectations and subsequent overload behavior they go into by drastically reducing the number of gifts under the tree. They didn't seem to notice and actually were done opening presents when they still had a present under of the tree. We felt pretty good at their acceptance of a smaller gift amount. Santa gave them a nice train real train set to share and wooden planes to build with dad.


Other gifts included a handmade 'comet center' for our 5 year old with lots of knobs, dials to turn and a lite brite attached for tracking too! Built by dad and enhanced by brother it is AWESOME.
Handmade pajamas for each boy, a robotics kit(basically a torn apart radio and other hardware bits to tear down and rebuild) for one boy and fossil digging kit for another. Home dyed play silks and shooting stars made by me and my friend Stephanie







Books seemed to be a favorite for giving too, we all got and gave vintage books to each other.
 And my crafty husband worked really hard for a long time to complete armor for both little boys. All pop tops collected from soda drinkers.

 While we tried really hard to let everyone know we wanted to limit gifts to one per person this was only observed by part of our family. Oh well we'll just try again next year. Although with all the thrifted goodies exchanged I still think of the whole experience in cutting down as completely successful. Plus I scored an awesome box of ornaments in our Christmas Eve gift exchange.

I seriously LOVE the little clip on bird with feather tail
I did find one little treasure this week:

A REAL McCoy canister that matches my pitcher that I found last summer! 

And what's better than one McCoy canister that matches my pitcher from last year? TWO matching McCoy canisters that match my pitcher from last year. Heh.



What did you give get or find this week? I'd love to see it. Add a link and grab the button and have fun!


Peace and Love--

12.24.2010

Birchtree Buche de Noel

Merry Christmas!





This years Buche de Noel is a nod to our new Waldorf Inspired Charter School, Birchtree. I simply made a pumpkin roll, frosted it with cream cheese frosting and painted on cinnamon 'bark'. The picture doesn't do it justice but I think it turned out beautiful.


Peace and Love--


12.22.2010

It's that time of year

Oh sweet winter solstice you did not get here fast enough, I think we went a little crazy waiting on you. It has been a interminable length of time since we last walked outside free from coats, boots, mittens and hats. Oh how we miss that sweet summer freedom we so callously take for granted.



But the pendulum has swung as far as it can and we are now on the cusp of gaining precious seconds that once added up will turn our 4 hours of sunlight into 20 hours of sunlight. Slowly the days gain strength through winter to finally break free of the cold. It's a funny irony that on the first day of winter we start gaining daylight to build to winter's eventual demise. And that the exact opposite is true, once summer hits we begin losing light and heading again towards short days and long nights. A cycle in a lifetime of circles.

Solstice is a time to look within myself, find my flame and rekindle my spirit. I am here. I am strong. Cold and dark have not won, my light is burning ever bright. Where is your light? How are your drawing near to what makes you whole? I wish you peace.

Peace and Love--








12.19.2010

Just Another Meatless Monday #39 Sweet Potato Chips

Hey What's For Dinner


I can't believe Christmas is almost here and I haven't had a manic meltdown yet. YET. No, really I feel very peaceful inside which is a real change from past years. We've backed off buying lots of gifts and tried to make lots of our own crafty presents or find thrifted treasures. I'm just as excited to be doing less and it feels like more, quite a realization right there.

Last week were busy making cookies for the first grade children to decorate during their crafting party time. We made lots and lots of sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. I didn't really care for the gingerbread cookies, does anyone have a good dark spicy recipe they might point me too? I'd like to make some for our tree but so far my recipes have been losers. I have a top notch super simple sugar cookie recipe and would like a matching gingerbread man recipe. Thanks!

I made these sweet potato chips last week and they were a HIT. Honestly I need to make four potatoes worth instead of two because my kids really loved them, we barely got any. These may be a great way to get reluctant sweet potato eaters to try again.

SWEET POTATO CHIPS
2 large sweet potatoes
2 TBSP cooking oil
salt
pepper
preheat oven to 400˚
wash potatoes, dry well
slice crosswise them into 1/4 inch slices
cover two baking sheets with foil
drizzle a small amount of oil on each sheet, use a potato slice to spread it around
put the slices of potatoes in a large bowl
pour the rest of the oil on them and toss to coat
lay potato slices out on the baking sheets so they are not overlapping
sprinkle with salt and pepper
bake at 400˚ for 10 minutes then rotate pans moving the top pan to the bottom rack and vice-versa
bake another 5-8 minutes leaving the oven door open to let steam escape, if needed so the chips will be crisp
after 5-8 minutes check to see if they are done enough, at this point some of ours were crispy but some were still soft
continue baking or run each pan briefly under the broiler to crisp them up



A simple big hit with my kids and they've even asked for them again. I think these will be on our menu this week.





Also today is the LAST DAY to leave a comment on any post since Thursdays post to help fill our food bank. For every comment left we'll donate a can of food to the local food bank. And yes multiple comments are welcome, especially if they help me take down Christina who thinks she gonna get more comments than me! It's win win either way though we both donate food to the food banks. My kids love to go to the store and pick out food for kids who may not have enough to eat.
Peace and Love--

The Penny Worthy Project



The Penny Worthy Project:
The objective of the Penny Worthy Project is undefined as of right now. It's an idea rolling around in my head begging to get out and that's why I'm starting it without a clearly defined goal. It's a link party, it's inspiration, it's thrifted Sunday, it's your Etsy store, it's your weekly craft check-in, Ebay listings, art journal posts, recipes to share, presents to make, decorating on a budget, book selling and anything else you want it to be.
It's a study in how you are making it, surviving life with or without a job, with or with out your own home. With kids without kids. With special materials or nothing at all. What inspires you? What drives you to be creative? How are creatively making your money go farther?

Well it's been quite a week for us, we lived through another pretty big windstorm. The wind was clocked at 87 miles per hour, I think that's hurricane force but without the huge rainclouds and such. Actually it was clear and cold which made for 40 below windchill factor and yet schools remained open but there was indoor recces.
Another exciting event for us was a trip to the Reindeer Farm with Unions first grade class. AND. THEY. RODE. A. BUS. Which may have been the most exciting part of the whole trip. Well they did feed Rudolph who lives there and gets picked up on Christmas Eve, he may have trumped the bus.

I did not go on the trip, I had a splinter in my foot that really hurt. I could NOT get it out, neither could my husband. I had it for 4 days and it hurt SO bad I was walking on the side of my foot to avoid the splinter. Which threw my back out. It was not a pretty picture, walking on the side of my foot and leaning forward and left, all the while grimacing with each step. I'm pretty sure I was looking a LOT like Quasimodo and I felt grumpy. I finally got the splinter out, which turned out NOT to be a splinter but a sliver of glass from a jar I dropped in the kitchen. Impossible to see but there nonetheless. Oww! My foot feels great my back is still out.


This did not stop me from thrifting, nothing could. I found these darling place mats. They're hand made. All vintage Christmas cards too!











I do have more thrifted goodies to share but they are for family who might be reading this so I'll show you all next week.

I finished up a Christmas present for Unions teacher this week. I embroidered one of his first drawings from school onto the corner of a dish towel and his name as he likes to write it on another corner. I had so much fun doing this and I highly recommend it as a present for teachers. It's something they can really use! It was easy to do too. First I copied the picture with a crayon onto white paper. Then I ironed that onto a white tea towel. Only that didn't work that great it left a very faint picture so I simply drew over it with a crayon and gave it a quick swipe with the iron to set it so it wouldn't flake and crumble. I embroidered right over the top of the drawing and it wasn't visible after I was done. Here is the finished project

and then the original next to the finished project. Not a perfect replica but pretty close.



My husband has been really busy too. Check it out:


 No it doesn't come with the oak sewing machine stand and the treadle that's his I gave him a few years ago for his birthday. It's gorgeous too!

We've been selling a few notebook computers on ebay this Christmas and my husband picked one to SteamPunk and Mod out. It turned out so cool it's painted like a 1902 Singer Sewing Machine.



So that's been our lead up to the week before Christmas, how about you? Please feel free to share etsy stores, thrifted goodies, crafts, ebay scores, decorating ideas and anything inspiring you've been doing!






Peace and Love--

12.18.2010

Ahhh Christmas Break

It's a lovely feeling to know for the next two weeks there's no running to get to school on time. No,  man if I don't get up and shower RIGHT. NOW. it's just not happening. No, oh we're out of bread and fruit and carrots what will I pack for a lunch?? Just finishing Christmas presents, making cookies, hanging out with my family and enjoying life as much as possible.

Did you know there is a Lunar Eclipse on Tuesday morning/Monday night (for Alaska it's 9:30 ish) and an almost full moon? Our plans include skiing in the mountains on Monday night in the moonlight and a very quiet and lovely advent spiral on the Solstice. My oldest son, Hero will be in Kodiak visiting his dad for Christmas, we've never been apart on Christmas. I don't really know how I feel about it, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

Cans for comments is still plugging away! Leave a comment or 10 on this post or the Pumpkin Roll post and for every comment I receive we'll donate a can of food to the Salvation Army Food Bank in Palmer. I'm 'competing' (it's friendly!) with my friend Christina and she's beating me so if you wouldn't mind helping me out I'd truly appreciate it.

Come back tomorrow for The Penny Worthy Project, I'll be sharing what I made for Union's teacher this year. 

Peace and Love--

12.15.2010

Pumpkin Roll and Cans for Comments

It's that time of year again, it's time to play whomp other bloggers by collecting more comments er  uh help our town fill it's food bank by donating a can of food for every comment left on my blog. My friend Christina and I are having a friendly competition to see who will donate more cans. So help a girl out leave a comment or two, lets beat the pants off of her. Then next week my sons and I will go shopping to feed the hungry in our little town in the frozen north. Want to join in? Leave me a comment and I'll post a link to your blog and you do the same and we'll FILL the food banks the best we can, anyway.
Bloggers Participating:
ADD YOUR NAME HERE





My other friend Stephanie has this recipe she's ALWAYS talking about, Pumpkin Roll. She brought it for Thanksgiving, it was part of our dessert-athon, and she was right it is something to talk about. I think if no one was watching and it was calorie free I could possibly make myself sick eating slices of it. I finally got around to making it and it was so worth the minuscule amount of work involved. The fact that it can be kept in the freezer until served makes it even better. I was about out of powdered sugar so I used some regular granulated sugar in the frosting, it gave it this texture that was not quite gritty but not smooth. I loved it and so did my husband, I'll be making it like that from now on.

Pumpkin Roll
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin

heat oven to 375°
grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan, line with wax paper
grease and flour paper 
sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar and set asidestir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl
beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick
beat in pumpkin
stir in flour mixture
spread evenly into prepared pan
bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched
immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel
carefully peel off paper, roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end
cool on wire rack
Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth
carefully unroll cake
spread frosting over cake
reroll cake then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze
when ready to serve remove from the freezer let sit for 10 minutes then slice and serve
you can also slice the whole roll and quickly freeze slices flat on a cookie sheet, then slip them into a freezer bag for school lunch treats (or mommy snacks during "rest time")



A Pumpkin Roll would be a lovely dish to bring to any potluck or anywhere you want to impress people with your cooking prowess and look good while doing it! And AND it uses canned pumpkin which ties in perfectly with the CANS FOR COMMENTS theme of this post. So there you go canned pumpkin, cans for comments and potlucks all in one post.


Peace and Love--

12.14.2010

Posole



Hominy, pork, chiles and common spices all come together to make a soul satisfying soup that's easy to pull together in under 30 minutes. This is seriously easy and delicious and in my book a total trifecta (good, healthy and budget friendly). We were trying to go meat free this month, kind of an Advent Lent, my husband is Orthodox (and they fast for everything) but the day I picked our half of a farm raised pig that kind flew out the window. We have been lighter on meat but not meat free. I made this soup over the weekend and it was the perfect lunch for very cold, clear winter day

POSOLE--pa-SO-lay
2 pork steaks about 3/4-1 pound total weight
2 TBSP cooking oil
1/4 of medium onion-chopped
1 garlic clove minced
8 cups water or vegetable broth
1 4 ounce can of chiles-chopped or whole-mild or spicy you choose-I used mild
2 cans of hominy
1 TBSP chili pepper paste-or 1/4 cup enchilada sauce-**optional you can simply add more chili powder**
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP chili powder
more salt and pepper to taste

slice pork steaks into bite sized pieces
heat cooking oil in a dutch oven
add pork, brown pork pieces in oil for 5 minutes
then add the chopped onion, cook 5 more minutes
then add garlic, stir for 30 seconds add water
stir to deglaze the pan
add chilies, hominy, chili pepper paste if using, cumin and chili powder
bring to a boil reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so
taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed
serve hot in big bowls to the applause of your family

Peace and Love--









the cold day with the sun skipping behind the mountains