Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Homemade Happiness

I have a few rare minutes of quiet since Riley and Jarret went to the feed store in search of chicken feed, Jack and Molly are sleeping, and Rose is at a friend's house, so I thought I would get at least one of the many blog posts that I've been mulling over down on "paper." Whenever my good friend Kim updates her adorable and creative blog (www.pairslices.blogspot.com) I am motivated to get to mine. I think I will have time to get at least one post up before I have to get to my noodle-making for dinner, which brings me to the theme of my post - homemade!

I have to admit that I am indulging in a bit of bragging here, but I have to say that I am quite proud of my efforts to stretch our grocery budget and keep our diet healthy and local by making as much food as I can from scratch. I have also been working on that Depression-era philosophy: "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," and learning how to turn leftovers into other scrumptious entrees and desserts, like veggie soups and bread puddings. Some of my latest endeavors include:

A weekly batch of homemade bread. I make two to four loaves at a time. It's easy and so yummy! I am wearing out my kitchen-aid mixer though and have had to go with kneading by hand, which is a great upper body workout!I found a recipe for making English muffins in a cookbook my sister-in-law, Kara, recommended to me : More-with-Less Cookbook. It's wonderful and very helpful for cooking on a dime. The muffins are so pricey in the store and we love them for breakfast. They were not hard at all. You make the dough and let it rise, roll it out and cut it with a glass or a biscuit cutter, and then let them rise again:
Then you cook them in a pan for 5 minutes or so on each side. I love my cast iron!

And here they are - don't let them cook too long! Oops! But it still tasted good.

They even look like muffins from the store on the inside, after being split with a fork. (Those are our farm-fresh eggs in the background.)

I've been making butter from the cream that rises to the top of the milk we get raw from a nearby farm. Put it in the blender for about 8 minutes:

Strain the buttermilk out and press the butter with a spatula while running it under cold water:

And then put it in a nice bowl. I would love to find an antique butter mold to use.

The More with Less cookbook has some great recipes for buttermilk pancakes and biscuits, so I feel I am truly using everything to the fullest. And the food tastes so yummy! My next projects will be to work yogurt into my weekly schedule. I already have made it from time to time, but I would like to stop buying it and just eat homemade stuff. And next month Rose and I are going to learn how to make cheese at our homeschool group Little House in the Big Woods book club.

While the Molly is busy helping me in the kitchen, Rose tends Jack or helps with other chores and Riley has been helping his dad with the wood splitter. Aren't they so cute together?

Well, the timer is going off and it's time to make noodles....For dessert tonight - bread pudding, homemade ice cream, and topped with homemade hot fudge sauce. Enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Let me just run...

It occurred to me the other day that this is a phrase I should stop trying to wrap my life around. Especially since it now involves clothing at least one child - if not all four - in hats, boots, scarves, mittens, coats, and then fastening them into the car seat; making sure I have diapers and spare pants (for Molly, not me!); making sure the baby has been nursed, that I have my purse, my list and items that pertain to the errand (usually library books to be returned). So you get the idea. I can no longer "just throw on my coat and just run to the library for a minute" while dinner simmers on the stove.

I am trying very hard these days to pay attention to the clock and have a real grasp of reality with regard to time. I am one of those people who drastically overestimates the amount of things I can accomplish in a day or a week or ten minutes for that matter. I don't think this frustrates anyone more than it frustrates me, bless my husband, who is very good about showing up on time, or at least he was until he had to start bringing me with him!

I look forward to the days when I can again throw on my coat and run down to the post office or the library, but for now I choose to embrace the cumbersomeness of my life because those are some awfully cute faces framed by those pesky winter hats. One day, I'll be able to dart here and dart there and I'll be complaining that I don't have anyone for company!