Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope that you have had some time to let your soul catch up with the rest of you these past few days. Being snowed in and surrounded by such beauty has really been wonderful and refreshing for us.

"Pause and be quiet, my people, because your rest will come." 2 Esdras 2:24



Right-click on letter and open in new tab to read.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cookie Recipes for the Nice and Naughty

I wanted to share with you two cookie recipes that I am using this year. One is as bad as a cookie can be and one is as healthy as a cookie can be---I list both for everyone who is like me and likes to live their nutritional life with a foot in both doors :)

Let's start with the naughty cookie recipe, shall we? I have found this to be the BEST roll out sugar cookie recipe I have ever tried/eaten.



3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick (I find the thicker option to make the softest, most wonderful cookies). Cut into shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes until bottom is lightly brown. Over baking will ruin the perfect texture!

Now, on to the nice recipe...




1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour

Stir together, butter, pb, and honey. Add egg, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix in flour. Chill dough for an hour.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness on floured surface. Cut circles using a drinking glass. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Use fingers to squeeze the circle in the middle. Place 2 pretzels at the top for antlers, 2 chocolate chips for eyes and one red hot candy for a nose.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Projects

Temperatures have dropped and a wet fall has set in. This means less clothes drying on the line outside;


which means more drying in the dryer; which means more lint in the trap; which means more fires in the fireplace.


Let me put these all together for you as I share a tip I learned from my favorite magazine, Mother Earth News.
Here is a free way to make fail-proof fire starters...really, fail proof. No matter how you stack your logs (with-in reason), these little wonders get the fire going everytime...and they are 100% recycled material making them effectively FREE!
First thing to do is to put used up candles into an old pot and melt them down.
This large one I have inthe picture ran out of wick with all of this wax left! I also received some old candles that a friend bought at an estate auction. I use a chopstick to stir and poke the wax, also to lift out the wicks that come floating to the top.
Meanwhile, get some empty egg cartons, tear off the lids, and fill each egg indent with a little bit of lint from your dryer.
When the wax is melted, pour it over the cartons.
Let them dry and cut or tear them apart. This batch that I made should last us through January.

Now all of the extra money being spent by running your dryer is made up by heating your home with wood heat. Of course, this only works if you have a fireplace or a wood stove--both very good investments.


Second tip for today.
My friend, Project Junky, posted a recipe for making your own laundry detergent at home. Her recipe was for liquid detergent. I was hesitant to try it b/c I prefer powder detergent. I like it dry so that I can come up to the washer with one arm full of clothes and I can put my soap in using just my extra arm w/out having to put down the clothes. ANYWAY, her post made me wonder if I could make powder detergent. So I found a recipe and tried it today. The recipe ratio is 2:1:1 (Bar soap:Borax:Washing Soda). This is exciting to me because it is going to save A LOT of money and I can make my laundry detergent A LOT more natural. I am using an 8oz. bar of Kiss My Face (love their soap products), Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, and 20 Mule Team Borax.

All there is to it is to grate the bar of soap finely, add the other 2 ingredients and mix...EASY! Ok, well the first step isn't incredibly fun but I did find soap a lot more pleasant to grate than cheese. Here is my beautiful new bar of soap ready to be shredded (I purchased this through my local food co-op but Target has a good selection of natural soaps).
I only used 5 ounces of my bar and came up with 4 cups.

Then I added the Borax and Washing Soda (these were purchased at Fareway).

Mix it together and wa-la. The entire process took less than 15 minutes.

Use 2 tablespoons of powder for each full load. 2 TBSP!!!!!????? What do they put in store bought soap as a filler so that you have to put in a 1/2 cup for every load?

Here's the breakdown of savings.

Kiss My Face 8oz. bar soap: $3.00
Borax 72oz: $3.00
Washing Soda 55oz: $2.50

Price per load:
Homemade: $.02
Normal dry Arm & Hammer detergent: $.10


Boo-yah. Thank you Project Junky for the inspiration.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Wonderful Recipe

Do you need another zuchinni recipe to get you through your pile of summer squash? Here is one that we found in a hiking magazine and tried last week with great success.
Here is what you need:
1 1/3 cup half-and-half (goat milk works great)
4 tbsp. butter
1 lb. cheese tortellini
1 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups zuchinni, julienned
pepper
1 tbsp. grated lemon peel

Allow half-and-half and butter to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cut your zuchinni while you bring a large pot of water to boil.

(yes, that is my child using a knife and yes, I have a social work degree)

Once the water is rolling, add zuchinni and boil for about 3 minutes. It is now time to add your tortellini right in with the zuchinni. I bought a frozen bag of it at Fareway for $3.50. The instructions on the bag said to put into boiling water and then simmer for 3 minutes--do not boil.
When tortellini floats it is done.

While cooking, make sure to grate your cheese and lemon.


Drain the tortellini/zuchinni. Toss with half-and-half, butter, cheese, and lemon until well coated.

I turned my burner back on a bit in order to get the cheese melty. Sprinkle with pepper and serve. This recipe made us a satisfying supper and left-overs for lunch the next day.



Zuchinni, zuchinni, zuchinni, zuchinni, zuchinni, zuchinni, zuchinni

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Metamorphasis

I was so excited to see a monarch caterpillar outside on our house. I intended to capture it in a jar so, perhaps, it might make a chrysallis and we could be the anxious viewers. Well, I forgot about catching it...
BUT...the next day I discovered that it had made a chrysallis right on our siding [insert picture I should have taken here].
Julianna and I got a jar and made a home inside by picking out some greens and a nice stick for the chrysallis. I carefully scraped the silk from the siding, carefully hot-glued to the sack to our stick, carefully put the stick in our jar and we started to carefully watch it.
This was a few days ago. This morning as I walked past the jar I saw this:
The chrysallis had turned black!! My fears were put to ease as I learned that this means the butterfly is fully developed and will be emerging very soon.
We waited and watched and during lunch this beautiful creature unfolded its wings.
How AMAZING!!
We put a cap of sugar water in the jar and will keep it to watch until tomorrow when it will FLY AWAY!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I think Jesus must be coming soon...


Sunflowers are supposed to follow the sun as it moves in the sky..
These just keep looking to Jerusalem all day.
Let's watch with them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rrrrunzzza

So you go to your local farmers market and you buy a cabbage. This cabbage is nothing like you see at a super market...it is 5 times bigger. It might look something like this:



What do you do with this much cabbage?????? Well, here is one of my favorite recipes...the Runza. The Runza has German-Russian origin and is a bread pocket filled with cabbage, onion, and meat.

The first step is to make some dough. Just use your favorite white bread dough recipe. The recipe I used calls for 6 cups of flour and it was enough dough to make a double batch of Runza filling.


While this rises we can get to work on the filling:
Chopped cabbage: recipe calls for 1 medium head of cabbage (how many medium heads are in a gargantuan head?...I had to do some guesswork).
One large onion chopped fine.
A few garlic cloves minced.
1 lb. of browned meat (I used 1/2 beef, 1/2 lamb)
Salt and pepper to taste (wait to taste it until it has cooked a little!).




I let my onion, garlic, and cabbage sit out on the counter the rest of the time my dough raised so that all of the good enzymes in the garlic have time to release.

After dough has doubled, punch it down and separate it into two balls. It is best to let these rest a little bit BUT...it's ok if you don't. Roll one of the balls out into a perfect square. Note my perfect square below.

Cut the perfect square into smaller squares. You can make them as big or little as you want. I normally work with my dough while I am simmering the cabbage/meat mixture.

Dump the meat and cabbage mix into a large pot and let simmer until cabbage is tender. It reduces quite a bit.

Fill each piece of dough with some filling. Fold in half and pinch around filling. Cut off excess dough. I make mine into a half-moon shape.

You will probably have more Runzas than you can eat in one sitting. Put extras in a freezer bag and store away for another day.

Put Runzas you are having for supper on a greased pan and bake in the oven until top is brown. I like to rub mine with butter about half way through baking. I also like to call Micah and have him bring me home a Coke to drink with it...your husband would do the same if you make him a Runza. HA!




I made 18 Runzas, a pizza crust to freeze, and had almost half of a cabbage left over at the end of this. That is 2 Runza suppers and 3 Runza lunches for under $9. However, having frozen, healthy meals in the freezer for busy days is PRICELESS!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Birthday Trip

I turned 27 on the 23rd. Julianna had a eye doctor's appt. in Omaha that day so we took the opportunity to do a few fun things. Basically right across the street from the doctor's office is a whole foods grocery store. OH MY GOODNESS! Will Sioux City ever get something like this? This store was huge! And what else? It was sooo busy inside!! How about weekly grocery shopping trips? Anyone?

Whole Foods for the win.

It was scorching outside so I couldn't get anything too touchy but we did get some organic crumpets, Ezekiel Pita Breads, and some Mac & Cheese. I was doubly impressed with their use of only paper bags.

Here we are in their parking lot, whole and healthy.
The IMAX theatre at Henry Doorly was doing buy one adult ticket get one free. I had never been to a 3D movie so this was pretty exciting. As we approached the zoo we encountered this:
It was the NCAA world series. LSU vs. Texas. The place was crawling with yellow and purple.

The movie was lacking substance but the 3D was really great. The people behind me may have snickered a bit when I reached my hand out to touch Africa.













For supper I had plans on going to my all-time favorite restaurant, The Macaroni Grill. This is all I found.
A sign on the door saying, "Please visit our nearest location..." in LINCOLN, NEBRASKA!!

So we found this Chinese Bistro next door and were pleasantly satisfied.

Happily, next door to this was the Cheesecake Factory. Chocolate-Kahlua-Coffee- Cheesecake on the patio after a rain?...Heaven.



On a side note-- Do you want to know how hot it was yesterday?