Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Moonshine

We adore Tasha Tudor's little book, Pumpkin Moonshine.

So, this year, we made our own pumpkin moonshine (jack o' lantern).

First, the plan.

Then cutting and scraping.

The final light up on the porch just could not be captured on film.  It was too dusky outside with the glowing orange pumpkin moonshine.  Plus, the delighted children and the smoky, chilly air.  All perfect together. 

Later, Ben tried to explain the project on the phone to Aunt Mel and she said to me in disbelief, "you're making MOONSHINE?!"  Regional idioms are fun to play with!

We saved the seeds, and Genevieve patiently picked them out of the membranes. I followed the directions in More with Less to end up with a crunchy roasted snack. A few days later, a farmer at market told me she just roasts the seeds without boiling them first. Ah. An even simpler method. Good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Repotting the Ancestral Jade

When my grandmother died a number of years ago, she left a lot of beloved, flourishing houseplants.  I have two of them:  a Wandering Jew and a baby jade plant.  My sister got the mother plant (at least 2 feet across and 3 feet high before it got frail) and we can only guess at its age.  We have worried and fussed over our grandmother's jade plant, with much less success than she did.

After a sunny summer on the balcony, my jade was outgrowing its pot and splaying dangerously.

Now, almost two weeks post-repotting, I think it will be okay. Worry. Fuss fuss.

I loved my grandmother dearly and she died before I came into my own as a homemaker, before my children were born.  Tending her plants, sewing, and using up leftovers keeps me close to her.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You heard of ants on a log, right?  Banana smeared with peanut butter with raisins perched on top.
Well, this is ants on a log with butterflies (popcorn).

This is Genevieve's creation:  fish in the ocean (apple).

Another Genevieve creation.

Truly, most of the time, I hand the children half an apple each and shoo them outside.  I put peanut butter on it if I'm feeling tolerant of mess or they have a while to wait until dinner.

What do you give your kids for snacks?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Show and Tell


And tell:

I have opened an etsy shop (oh my word!).  Come visit and let me know what you think.  I've never tried to market myself or my wares before. . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday Dinner: German Pork Chops (and a New Dress!)

put pork chops and homemade sauerkraut (a gift from Rebecca) in fridge to thaw
sew G's dress
Sunday morning
layer chops and kraut with apples,onions, caraway seed - set on timed bake
wash and prick potatoes; put in covered casserole with some butter and salt; also in oven
re-sew G's elastic cuff (refrain from swearing in front of the children)

Sunday noon
set table
mash potatoes
grate carrots and dress; pile on lettuce leaves
set out horseradish pickles

Now, more importantly, Genevieve has a new Sunday dress.  I realized she had no winter dressy clothes Saturday night as I was trying to lay out clothes for the morning.  I mean, I sort of realized she had nothing, but all of a sudden I had to finish the dress I had leisurely cut out and laid aside a week ago.

Fueled by horseradish pickles, guacamole chips, and Ghirardelli dark chocolate with orange and almond, I finished that dress.  At midnight.  Full moon.  And I made all the dumb mistakes you can make on a dress, but I fixed most of them.  The lace at the wrists still has black thread showing (I'm going to fix that. . .sometime).  The neckline still has an oopsie tuck.  On straight seams, the plaids don't match  (it's not very obvious).  I also lost elastic down its casing no less than four times. 

On Sunday morning, after Genevieve had put on the dress and started eating her Cinnamon Flop,  the elastic in one of the wrists snapped from its casing.  Grimly, I whipped out my sewing machine and fixed it.  Again.  And marched off in triumph to church. 

Am I going to make more Sunday dresses?  We'll see.   I am going to sew a pinafore for this one, in any case. (pattern, fabric and lace all from Mrs. R)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hand Washing

Recently I bought a bottle of Woolite for handwashing delicates.  It's always expensive.  Then it occurred to me that I could ask you - maybe there's a better/cheaper detergent I'm missing.  What do you use?

Friday, October 22, 2010

School Morning Breakfasts

Baked Eggs (from 1954 Joy of Cooking)

6:30am  grease ramekins, break an egg in each, top with cheese, glug of cream
6:35 am  eggs in oven at 350; hop in shower
7 am dressed, showered, eggs done.  Get the children up!
7:10 am make toast and coffee
8 am hopefully everyone is fed and dressed - leave for preschool

Refrigerator Bran Muffins (I use the More with Less recipe)

Same timeframe as the baked eggs - however, you can store a giant batch of muffin batter in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.  So you get the warm house (important on nippy fall mornings before the furnace is Officially On), scent of baking muffins, and nutritious breakfast all for the price of mixing up a batch!  Thanks to PunkRizz for the idea.

  We like ours with applesauce and a slice of cheese on the side.  They're sweet enough that we eat them with no spreads and my children haven't noticed.  In fact, Ben calls them cupcakes. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Miss Manners at Book Club

My choice for book club recently:  Miss Manners' Guide to Domestic Tranquility by Judith Martin (one of her shorter books at 372 pages). 

Miss Manners replying to a question on getting relatives to help with the dishes. . .

One should also factor in that relatives come in three generations. If yours are a generation older than you, the most you can do is to say, "Oh dear, I'm exhausted, but I hate to leave the dishes." If they are your own generation, you may say, "Do you want to wash or dry? (Modern version: "Scrape or load?") If they are younger, i.e., your children, you should say (not ask) pleasantly, "How about giving me a hand," as you point at the kitchen on your way out of it.

Miss Manners commenting on tidiness:

She does know that the notion that messiness is a warm and endearing trait, while orderliness freakish, enjoys amazing  success.  Even people who truly love order commonly refer disparagingly to their own good habits.
Such a fascinating discussion I forgot to knit.  But I did remember to eat my slice of Jewish Apple Cake, provided by Sue (I just provided the house and the coffee).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Greek Pesto

My supper notebook reminded me of this Sunday dinner from last fall:

oiled baked potatoes
Greek pesto (oregano, garlic, olive oil, salt)
caprese salad
gingerbread with lemon sauce and a little spoonful of plain yogurt

So good together, so balanced, so easy, that I did it again.

make lemon sauce
make Greek pesto

Sunday morning:
set potatoes on timed bake
get gingerbread from freezer to thaw

Sunday noon:

make caprese salad (I made it fast by just chopping and mixing the ingredients)
set table

This was actually Sunday dinner from two weeks ago.  Yesterday, our good friends Rachel and Peter were the host family and they invited us for dinner.  They served taco salad with a plethora of fixin's and cheesecake (made with local chevre!) with home-frozen sour cherries.  Lovely.  And very clever for a crowd-pleasing, vegetarian-option, easy to make dinner.

What did you eat for dinner yesterday?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Belt for a Little Boy

Ben cannot keep his pants up around his skinny middle.  I got him a pleather belt, but it's annoying to unbuckle for potty training, you know?  I have my eye out for suspenders.  In the meantime, I suddenly realized I could make a belt with those simple metal D-rings.  I got a belt at the thrift store and cut off the ugly webbing.

Two layers of vehicle-sprinkled twill, two inner layers of flannel (three broken sewing machine needles until I figured out the right foot and needle), machine quilted a few wavy red lines.

Ben loves it.  We love it because it's easy to tighten and loosen.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cocoons for Supper

Genevieve took one look at the spring rolls I slapped together and called them cocoons.  Obviously, because she has been watching the fat green caterpillars in our parsley, waiting and waiting for them to make a cocoon.  We've been sacrificing our parsley for a month now to what we hope are monarch caterpillars, but we have yet to see a cocoon. 

Supper:  spring rolls filled with roast turkey, bean thread noodles, shredded carrot, cucumber, and Thai basil. . . .dipped in hoisin sauce. . .with soy-glazed sweet potatoes on the side

Soy-Glazed Sweet Potatoes (recipe from Rebecca)

In a baking pan with sides, large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer, place:
3 large sweet potatoes, chopped

Mix together:
1 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. mirin or sweet sherry
2 Tbs. minced garlic
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1/4 c. water

Pour over the sweet potatoes.  Cover.  Bake at 400 until nearly done - approximately 30 -40 minutes.  At some point, put a handful of sesame seeds on a tray and pop them in the oven to toast (10ish minutes).  Remove the lid and stir and baste the sweet potatoes.  Return, uncovered, to the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Laundry, Every Day

When I made my weekly routine, I put laundry down every day.  I don't divide it into washing, folding, or
ironing, but I have a few stratagems to keep me mentally free.  Usually on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I wash a lot.  Inbetween longer jobs, I fold and put away clothes, sometimes only for 5 minutes at a time (it's a very interruptable, flexible task).  Usually Thursday or Friday, I do the little bit of ironing that has accumulated.  Saturdays are for washing bedding only, no clothes.  This way, I can usually manage to not have baskets of clean laundry clogging the corners the whole weekend.

I don't usually wash more than three loads in a day, and frequently only one or two.  In general, I do about ten loads a week, including sheets and towels.  On days when I'm worried about afternoon rain or have a morning commitment, I wash a load or two the night before and set it by the back door to hang up on the line first thing in the morning.

Since I line dry my laundry, I have to go by the weather, but as long as I'm making a little progress on the laundry daily, then I know I'm on track.  I enjoy doing the laundry - feeling the fabric, smelling the fresh air outside and then the freshness of the fabric. . .so pleasing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grocery Shopping, Urban-style

We have a farmer's market downtown, two blocks away (one of the reasons we bought our house). 

When I was pregnant, I shopped for a stroller based on my market shopping needs.  It needed to be sturdy with plenty of storage.  Rain protection was a bonus.

We bought this Dreamer Design jogging stroller from a city friend and I am amazed at how much storage it has - pockets in the hood, pouch and water bottle pockets on the back of the seat, and a big basket under the seat.  I also hang stuff on stroller hooks.  The rain shield zips in and out of the hood - so nifty.

Here's a recent market haul, a little on the small side, but I go past market frequently because of taking Genevieve to preschool, so it is easy to pick up more groceries as needed.

Another day, a raft of leafy vegetables.  My neighbor admired my "plants" and looked startled when I explained that it was food.

The stroller fork snapped a few weeks back, and I was scratching my head about market shopping (ok, actually, I was wailing as if the world had ended and then shopping for a new stroller when Ben is two-and-a-half and getting big enough to walk all the time) and my patient, clever husband fixed it with J-B Weld.  Their tagline is "don't scrap it  - J-B Weld it!"  Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making Sunday Dinner for Mystery Guests

I've explained before our church's practice of host families.
Well, yesterday, we were the host family.  I did not feel comfortable taking photos, but I so adore photos with posts that I submit, instead, Genevieve making a jungle gym where there is none in our passage way (photos by my husband).

the menu:

green salad with peppers, radishes, carrots, cukes
blood orange sorbet
ANZAC Biscuits


-make ciabatta, using this recipe (it's essentially New York Times No-Knead bread)
-thaw ricotta
-make ANZAC Biscuits


make pasta
make lasagne, freeze
fetch sorbet
put board in table

Sunday morning
wash and chop lettuce - spin and then refrigerate in salad spinner
chop up salad veggies and put in salad bowl in fridge
put frozen lasagnes on time bake

Sunday noon
put olives in a bowl
set table
make vinaigrette
combine and toss the salad
warm the ciabatta in the hot oven

This is the third time we've been host family and here is what I've learned:

Stick with familiar dishes - ones that I am confident making, that are generally liked.

Make a vegetarian meal.

Do as much as possible before Sunday noon.

Make an effort to relax and focus on the guests - the good food and clean house are supposed to aid the fellowship, not be an end in themselves.