28 April 2010

More Scrabble

This is just a shout-out to my scrabble sistas in Vegas, you know who you are.

According to my calculations, we have had at least one game in play for about 18 weeks now. They are all as crazy about Scrabble as I am, and every game is an awesome challenge. I think it's safe to say that we're a little addicted, and perhaps wondering how or if it will ever end? I kind of hope it won't.

This is somewhat unrelated, but I posted this screen shot of our current game because it was the first time I was seeing this ad our church has on facebook right now. It is difficult to see here, but clicking on it links you to this website, where you can ask any questions you've ever had about the LDS church via live chat. There is a lot of false information out there and sometimes it is difficult to determine if what you're reading is true, so if you really do have questions, but don't necessarily want to talk face-to-face with members of the church or missionaries, this is a place to get the truth somewhat anonymously.

21 April 2010

Garden 2010: part 1

The 2010 garden is coming along nicely so far. This is the earliest I've ever had things actually growing. Usually at this time of year I'm barely planting cold-weather veggies and making my plan for May when the other things can finally be put into the ground.

Romaine and mixed greens are sprouting like crazy and in desperate need of thinning.

Also, this is my second planting of carrots, as my first planting sprouted and were quickly devoured by snails in one night. I had to learn the hard way that snails & slugs like carrot seedlings. At first I didn't blame snails, as the lettuce seedlings planted inches away were completely untouched. Apparently they prefer carrots over lettuce--kind of like my children.

There are many pea plants in all levels of maturity due to successive plantings. Hopefully this will allow for a longer pea-picking season. That is the idea, anyway.

Also, no picture yet, but Owen and I found some potatoes in the pantry that were filled with eyes, so we put them into the ground and are hoping for some beginners luck as potato farmers.

I decided to try my hand at planting a few seeds indoors this year. I've got honeydew and zucchini seeds planted and hopefully growing in time for a mid-May transplant.

And last, the grass and the baby are growing like weeds, and the former will just continue to look like a crazy jungle due to a broken mower. In addition to a broken microwave and a dryer that seems to be losing heat everyday, we're having an appliance catastrophe in our house. Love it.

14 April 2010

Shop Update: Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bags

These snack & sandwich bags have been in the works for a little while now, but I have been looking for a good, sustainable fabric to use and wanted them to be just the right size.

So this hemp, which comes in a light khaki, and a dark brown, might just be my favorite fabric I've sewn with ever. It is soft, sturdy, and unlike anything you can find in your local Joann's. Hemp fabric is sustainable because it grows quickly, therefore can be harvested and re-planted many times in a year. Also, it is naturally disease- and pest-resistant, and so requires no pesticides.

I chose to do a fold-over flap closure, which isn't being done a lot on Etsy, in an attempt to keep the velcro far away from where the crumbs tend to collect.

Limabeanhome is celebrating Earth Day with a month-long promotion: Spend $15 on reusable items during the month of April and receive free shipping AND one reusable produce bag.

13 April 2010

Fill the Freezer

Inspired by a couple of blogs I frequent, mostly this one, I decided to make a bunch of food this afternoon to fill up my freezer with meals and add-ons for the next few weeks.

Here's how it went:

Round 1: roast & shred chicken breasts for chicken noodle soup & lentil barley soup, make honey whole wheat bread dough & let it rise
Round 2: pinto beans for Henry into the pressure cooker, batter for whole wheat waffles (had a little helper to crack the eggs), brown meat for sweet & sour pork (recipe below) & latin american pork stew
Round 3: cook waffles, saute veggies & make sauce for sweet & sour pork, form bread into loaves and let it rise again, make & bake whole wheat banana muffins (recipe below),
Round 4: chop veggies & finish chicken noodle soup (dinner tonight), bake bread, package all food into bags and containers for freezing.

In between the rounds there were boys to feed, diapers to change, boy to pick up from school, naps to give, and loads of dishes to wash, but to have that much food in the freezer at the end of the afternoon was very fulfilling and also exhausting. I would definitely recommend it.

**I prefer to make my whole wheat bread into mini loaves, as opposed to large ones because I can just pull out one loaf from the freezer, slice it, and it is just the amount our family eats for one meal.
**And in case you're interested, here are the recipes as promised. I added asparagus into my sweet & sour pork instead of peppers, because it was on sale at the grocery store today.

Banana Whole Wheat Muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar (could substitute sucanat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup oats

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients, bake 350 degrees--mini-muffins, 13 minutes, large muffins, 15 mins. Yield: about 28 mini-muffins or 14 large muffins

Sweet & Sour Chicken or Pork

2-3 boneless chicken breasts or pork loin chops, cut into small pieces, seasoned well with salt and pepper
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 red or green pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small can pineapple chunks

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
1/3 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Brown seasoned meat in oil, remove from pan. Saute carrots, onions, peppers in oil with salt and pepper until barely soft, add garlic and cook one minute. Add meat back into pan and turn off heat.

In another sauce pan, combine sugar and cornstarch and whisk in water. Add oil, vinegar & soy sauce. Turn on heat and cook until thick and clear (about 3 mins), stirring continuously.

Pour sauce over veggie/meat mixture, add pineapple.

Eat right away over rice, or put into freezer container and freeze for up to 2 months.

Defrost in fridge, heat until bubbly.

08 April 2010

Recipe Linkage

Here are a few recipes I've made over the past weeks that should be shared.

**I'm trying to incorporate more fish into our weekly menus for the non-fish-loving residents of my house very gradually so as not to make them hate it more. I thought this recipe was a good way to do it. Henry and I both loved it, and everyone else ate it, but didn't love it, except Owen, who wouldn't even taste it, but that's okay with me. I used the trader joe's boneless canned salmon, added a little bit of dill, and mixed up a little tartar sauce with mayo, zucchini relish, lemon pepper and onion powder to serve on top.

**Also, made these whole wheat waffles for a weekend breakfast. I added ground up flax seed for some omega-3s, which made it nuttier and I doubled it and froze the rest to put in the toaster oven for future breakfasts--much better than an eggo, I would say.

**Tried my hand at whole wheat hamburger buns. The recipe is a little involved, but worth it and next time I will also double it and freeze the rest.

**This quick macaroni and cheese recipe will make you re-think ever buying a boxed mac-n-cheese again. It is unbelievably simple and relatively cheap and contains no processed anything. I made it with whole wheat spirals and extra sharp cheddar, but next time might try it with a mix of different stinky cheeses--asiago, parmesan and cheddar perhaps to give it even a little more bite. My boys loved this. It doesn't replace a good, homemade mac-n-cheese with a roux and some add-ins, but is a great option to make instead of the boxed variety for a quick dinner.

These last three recipes came from this recently discovered website. If you have any interest in using less refined sugar and more whole wheat flour in your baking, this woman has figured it out and has an unbelievable recipe archive. Most of her recipes call for 100 percent whole wheat flour, and she offers suggestions on ways to prepare it to make it easier to digest, and less dense.

I've only just begun to incorporate these ideas into my own baking and cooking, but hope that eventually for me it will be second nature to use all whole grains all the time.