Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow Day!

I left early to get to work on time, and the roads were a mess. It was dangerous in spots. The schools were running 2 hours late. I called Puddleglum and told him to keep the boys home. We have to drive across town for both boys' school, and it would have taken over an hour to deliver both boys. Then when I got to work, it was so slow, I got to come home early. I stopped by the store and picked up some things. When I got home Puddleglum had made a nice fire, and we played and roasted hot dogs and made smores.

Before dinner we all had another round of playing in the snow while our chicken and dumplins cooked. Then we came inside and took off all the wet snow gear and had hot chicken and dumplins. After hot baths, all three boys are now in bed!
Mama's Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

(Takes as little as an hour and a half or you could start it earlier when Baby is napping and cook on low. If you take the chicken out in the morning and put in the black stock pot with hot water, it will thaw by just after lunchtime).

Rinse one of Alan's organic whole chickens and put in red soup pot breast up. Fill with RO water until just about 2 inches of the tip of the chicken is sticking out (you don't want the pot too full so it won't boil over). Add sea salt, parsley, white pepper, and three bay leaves and bring to a boil.

Put about 2 TBSP butter in the big copper saute pan. Add about 1/2 an onion chopped and 1 or 2 chopped celery stalks (cut stock in thirds lengthwise and then chop) and 1 or 2 carrots chopped. (You could also add chopped turnip and even some garlic cloves). Sweat the veggies, then add to soup pot.

After everything comes to a good boil, lower heat to low and put cover on. You can cook on low for a few hours or keep the temp about med low at a low boil and cook for about an hour.

Remove chicken from pot and put in the copper saute pan to cool. Use a soup ladle to ladle out as much of the yellow chicken fat at the top of the soup pot while not wasting good broth. Find the bay leaves and remove. Take the mesh strainer and scoop out as much of the onion as you can (little kids don't like too much onion in their soup and you already got all the good flavor of the onion out). You could strain out some of the celery, but never remove and carrot because the boys will eat that.

When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and start getting your chicken meat. Tear into small pieces and add to the soup pot. After you've removed all the good meat (paying attention to get as much of the good dark meat), give Sasha the skin and any yucky or tough pieces of meat and pour the skimmed chicken fat over all of it for her.

Make Quick Dumplins
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c. milk (gently warmed in microwave)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter

Combine and cut in butter. Roll out on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut in 1 inch long strips. Then crosswise into about 2 inch strips.

Add one small container of organic chicken broth to the soup pot and bring to a boil. (If you are just doing soup without dumplings, add a can of corn, and make a pot of rice). If you have it, squeeze the juice of one lime into the soup pot (but no more than one- maybe even just half). Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add your chicken and reduce heat to low. Put cover on soup pot. After a few minutes, add your dumplings. Cover the pot again so the dumplings will steam and get fluffy, and cook on low heat until the dumplings are cooked through.

If you are doing Chicken Noodle Soup, add half of a 1 lb bag of egg noodles before you add your chicken. Boil for 10 minutes until the noodles are soft.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tuna Fish

I was looking at some old photos, and I saw these. Tae and Jax were probably both four or so at the time. I was trying to document some family recipes for a homemade cookbook (that never got made), and I wanted to include my recipe for Tuna Salad. This is a recipe I have come up with myself. I think it makes tuna yummy. You chop a couple of dill pickles, a couple of carrots, a fourth of an onion or so. Mix in tuna, mayo, a shot of pickle juice, a couple of big dashes of dried parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. The tuna in this picture is Chicken of the Sea albacore, but albacore has a higher mercury content than smaller tuna. We have switched to Tongal tuna over Chicken of the Sea because Tongal tuna is wild caught while I believe Chicken of the Sea is farmed, and farmed tuna has much more mercury than wild caught. You must toast the bread for these sandwiches. Serve with good chips. My tuna salad is in the same class of food as my favorite childhood sandwich- sliced dill pickle rounds and bologna with mayo. Aren't the boys so cute in this shot?!


Puddleglum has been wanting to make beignets for a while now. This morning he got everything together and started before I even got out of bed. He used this recipe from, and the beignets turned out well. They were very light and not too sweet. One batch is the perfect amount for all five of us, but I imagine it won't be too long before we'll have to make two batches.

We're not going to Sunday School. We haven't been going to Sunday School in a while. I guess we're heathens that way. We're usually just glad to make it to church on time. I often wonder how other people seem to always have it together. Probably because they don't have a blog...

Puddleglum made a big pot of coffee, and the beignets were so good. We don't have chicory coffee, but what we have was fine. I guess I could have made cafe au lait, but I like my coffee black, and any saved calories is a good thing. I've gained two pounds in the last week. Tae is my little running/workout buddy, and he really enjoys our runs. I have been lazy the last couple of weeks, and I am off my game. I need to get back in there.

I have my makeup done, but I better go get ready for church. Jon has picked out a very interesting ensemble. He picked out a dark blue t-shirt with yellow trim. He has a matching clip on tie, and a red cardigan on top. Puddleglum has just informed me we have to leave in 15 minutes. Gotta run!!!

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Rainy Sunday Morning

This morning as we were making the muffins, I kept admiring the view from our window. I know it doesn't look like much, but where we live this is as good as it gets. This picture doesn't make it look as pretty as it really is. This is the east horizon, so atleast we can watch the sunrise most mornings, even if our neighbor's brick wall is always in sight. From the street you can't see the horizon, but our house sits on a ridge so we can see above it. When the appraisal district tried to raise our appraisal value, we fought it so our taxes wouldn't go up. Puddleglum took a picture of the brick wall from the street level. The amount that they wanted to raise our home value to was ridiculous, but the photo of the wall along with a well-written letter got them to keep the value where it was before they raised it.

This week we're getting some warmer weather. I like the warm weather, but I am ready for more mornings like this. I like it when it is foggy out in our little "valley" or when it's covered in a blanket of snow. We never get blizzards, but we do get a couple of good snows every year. I am looking forward to making hot chocolate for the boys and snuggling up to a fire with Puddleglum.

Pumpkin Muffins

This morning we were trying to decide if we should make waffles or pancakes. Then I suggested we have pumpkin pancakes with the other half of the pumpkin that we used for the soup last night. Tae made a face at that. Puddleglum pulled out his favorite cookbook and asked, "how about muffins?" That sounded good.

We started with a basic muffin recipe;
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil

The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of sugar, but we substituted 3 Splenda packets and about 1/2 tablespoon sugar. To make pumpkin muffins the cookbook recommended 1/2 cup canned pumpkin and 1/4 cup chopped pecans. I decided that we should use 1 full cup pumpkin puree and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. We also added cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. This made 12 muffins.

The recipe says not to put the batter in paper muffin cups, but rather you should lightly grease your muffin pan and pour the butter directly into the pan. You bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. With our oven, 17 to 18 minutes would have been enough. They were really good, but I think they needed to be just a tad sweeter. They would have been really good with the recipe as we made them, but with a generous sprinkling of brown sugar on top. We'll do that next time. The boys liked them except that Tae picked out all the pecans and gave them to me. He choose his own clothes for church. I thought he did a good job.

Pumpkin Soup

Yesterday Puddleglum and I baked one of the pumpkins we bought with the boys at the pumpkin patch. It was a medium large pumpkin. We cut it into quarters and baked it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Then we turned off the heat, and we went to the park by our house. It is a small park that is usually pretty empty of people. It has an inline hockey court, a tennis court, a basketball court, a volleyball court, an area for baseball, a covered area with picnic tables and a nearby grill, and a small playground. It is right next to a cotton field. Puddleglum brought his roller blades and his hockey stick, and the boys brought their skates. Baby had his three wheel scooter. A few years back (before I got pregnant with Baby) I bought a pair of roller blades on sale at Target for $10. They are well-made, good skates. Then I got pregnant and couldn't use them, and then I was too big to use them. I got them out of the box, and I had so much fun with them and the boys. Puddleglum and I couple skated around the rink while we sang "Once. Twice. Three times a lady..." It was just like those old roller rink days of the late 70's/early 80's. The boys had their hockey sticks and played around. It was fun! Then we went to get ice-cream. I wasn't going to get any, but when Puddleglum asked them to put coffee ice-cream in his sundae, that sounded so good. So I had one scoop of coffee ice-cream in a cup. It was dee-li-shus.

When we got back to the house, I took the pumpkin out of the oven. Puddleglum and I peeled off the skin. Then I got the idea that we should have pumpkin soup. I put 3/4 stick of organic salted butter in our ceramic soup pot (a Le Creuset knock off that is pretty good). Then I put in 1/2 a large yellow onion chopped. When the onion was very soft, I added one 32 ounce carton of Pacific Foods organic chicken broth. When that came to a low boil, I turned down the heat and pureed it all with a hand blender. I had to keep checking the consistency with a metal spoon to make sure the onion was fully pureed. Then I put half of the baked pumpkin in the pot. I used the hand blender again to puree it all together. I used the high speed after it was all mixed. You want it to be very smooth. At this point I wanted to put in some brown sugar, but we were out. So I put maybe 1/2 tablespoon of black strap molasses (not too much). Then I stirred that up. It was very thick at this point. 1/2 a medium large pumpkin is actually A LOT of pumpkin puree- like maybe four cups atleast. I added milk until it had the consistency of a thick and hearty soup. I added maybe 1/4 cup of organic maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and a dash of sea salt. This made enough soup to feed about 12 people! I had one I Love Lucy moment when the soup started to boil, and it was so thick a big bubble made some of the soup splatter the back splash and me.

When I served it to the boys, I added more milk. For mine I added some tumeric and curry powder. It was so good but also really rich. I could only eat one bowl. I had a bowl after church today, and it is even better the next day! Baby liked it so much, he decided the spoon was too slow.