Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is another one of my really old recipes.  Also from the Pillsbury Cookbook I received as a wedding present, and then lost on one of our many moves.  I'm including two versions of it, one plain chocolate chip and one chocolate chocolate chip.  That's right, double chocolate, baby!  I've tried others over the years, but always come back to this one.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 cup of butter.  (That's right, a whole cup.  I kind of feel like Paula Deen or Ree Drummond with this recipe.  Who uses a whole cup of butter?  It's just plain decadent.  Nevertheless, a cup of butter is called for.)  Once the butter/sugar is creamed, add one egg and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and mix well.  Add in 1 3/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Mix well.  Then stir in 1 cup of good chocolate chips, and some nuts if you're so inclined.  Drop by tablespoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.  You know your oven best, so pick the time that will work for you.  According to the recipe this should make 2 1/2 dozen cookies.  I've never made 2 1/2 dozen cookies because I live in a house with barbarian hordes that sneak in behind me and steal spoonfuls of dough when I'm distracted.  And I'm talking about the husband, not just the children.

Now for the chocolate chocolate variation.  Cut the vanilla to 1 teaspoon, and add 1/4 cup of cocoa with the sugar and butter mixture.  If you feel really fancy, add white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, it's to die for. 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This is not so much a tip as it is a confessional.  People.  Learn from my mistakes.  Do not - DO NOT - do not - (do not) let your laundry get ahead of you!  You will regret it.  If you take a load out of the dryer, for pete's sake fold it right away and put those socks right where they belong.  In the midst of a very busy gardening weekend, I processed lots of laundry.  I sorted, washed, dried.  But did I fold?  No, I did not.  And now, I am facing a herculean task, two huge piles of clean, completely wrinkled clothes waiting to be folded.  Not to mention my eighteen year old working man son of mine took a load of wet clothes out of the washer, and set them on top of the dryer, so that he could start washing his work clothes.  So there they sit, sort of dry on the top and wet in the middle, waiting for a chance to go in the dryer.  Sigh. 

I have a family of seven, one of whom does his own clothes.  Mostly.  This means I do a minimum of three loads of laundry a day, one white, one dark, and one colored.  Not to mention the days when I have extra stuff to wash, like bedding, or curtains, or the worst days of all in the laundry room, when the kids come home from camp.  Did you know that boys wear the same clothes the entire time they're at scout camp?  Their socks can stand up on their own by the end of the week.  Yet their entire pack of clothes needs to be washed because they reek of campfire and bug spray, plus all the wet gross food they jam in their pack as the week goes on.  Blech. 

 So please, dear friends, learn from my mistakes.  Take a few minutes and fold every load as it comes out of the dryer, you'll be ever so glad you did.  I'm off to dive into the mountain of socks and towels, say a prayer for me!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Don't Eat Pete

This is a fun, quick family night game.  You will need paper, pencil, ruler, and some candy or chocolate chips or other small treat.

Make a grid on the paper with pencil and ruler.  I usually make a 5 x 5 grid, 25 squares.  Place a candy (like smarties or m&m's) or chocolate chip on each square.  Designate one person as "it" and send them from the room.  Everyone else then decides on one square that is called "Pete".  "It" is called back into the room.  Ready, set, go, "it" begins to eat one candy at a time, while everyone else watches for "it" to reach out and grab "Pete".  If "it" grabs "Pete" everyone shouts "Don't Eat Pete!"  This game can be played with everyone in the family has a turn.  It's a silly game, but it sure is fun, and the little ones love to shout out the refrain when "Pete" gets picked up.  Try it for some goofy fun!

Nanny MacPhee Returns

Saturday night Scott, Jeffrey, Joshua and I curled up in the family room to watch Nanny MacPhee Returns.  I found it on sale at Blockbuster in the previously viewed section, and I really enjoyed the first one, so I thought we'd give it a try. 

To briefly sum up, the story is about a mother who is in charge of the family farm while her husband is away at war.  She has three rowdy children of her own, and is also taking care of her niece and nephew, who have left London because of the bombing.  Her brother-in-law is harrassing her to sell the farm, her children are running wild, and she works for a shopkeeper who is extremely aged and forgetful.  Into this mess arrives Nanny MacPhee, who says she has been sent by the War Office to help out. 

Nanny MacPhee comes to stay when you don't want her but need her, and leaves when you don't need her but want her.  She teaches the children five important lessons, like sharing, faith, working together, not fighting, etcetera.  There are some wonderful humorous moments, and the movie is touching but not preachy.  Emma Thompson is amazing, of course, as Nanny MacPhee, and Maggie Gyllenhall (sp?) is wonderful as the stressed out mother.  Rhys Efans is so great as the sleazy uncle, he steals the scenes he's in.  The children are all charming, and the special effects are really fun. 

My boys really liked this movie, and mentioned it again the next day how much they enjoyed it.  It does not talk down to children, and despite the magical story line, shows how real problems can be faced with courage, faith and good manners.  I would recommend this to any family.

Apple Blossom Time

One of the apple trees in our garden is blooming, and it's so beautiful!  As I was admiring the blossoms yesterday, I remembered another bit of old farmers wisdom passed on by my Uncle Rick.  Along with his "don't plant until after the full moon following Victoria Day" rule, he also has told me it's safe to plant once the apple trees are blossoming. 

I also harvested my first little bit of rhubarb last night.  Rhubarb and asparagus are the earliest crops in the garden, I think.  I recently heard from another experienced gardener that you can cut a slit in a rhubarb leaf and place it around a bean plant, kind of like a skirt.  This will protect the plant from all sorts of evils, apparently.  Rhubarb leaves are toxic, and can't be composted, so this is a good way to use some of them, instead of just throwing them out.  My beans have just been planted, and aren't up yet, so I will have to wait til later in the season to try this tip.  I'll let you know the results.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beef Barley Soup

Yesterday I made a big pot of beef barley soup for supper.  With tea biscuits.  Yum!  The weather is starting to warm up, so I'm sneaking in a few last winter type meals before it's all salads and grilled food.  I love this recipe, my friend Stacey first made it for me eleven years ago when Sarah was very sick and in the hospital.  I make it a fair amount in the winter, my oldest, Jason, is particularly fond of it.

This recipe is kind of a guesstimate, so bear with me for the measurements.  It's soup, so nothing's written in stone.

Beef Barley Soup

6-8 cups water
2-3 cubes (or spoonfuls) of beef bouillion
round steak, cut into small squares
1 onion, diced fine
1 stalk celery, diced fine
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 carrots, cut into small pieces about the size of the round steak
2 potatoes, cut into small pieces about the size of the round steak
1/4 cup pearl or pot barley
bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

As I mentioned before, chop up the onions, celery and garlic quite fine, and cut the steak, potato and carrot into uniform pieces.  I like mine cut fairly small.  Pour a little oil or a combo of oil and butter in a pan, and heat.  Add the onion, celery and garlic, and saute in the oil until translucent.  Add the meat, and cook until all the juices evaporate and the bottom of the pan begins to get a golden brown coloring.  This is very important, there's lots of flavor in the drippings stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the water, bouillion, carrots, bay leaf, barley and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover pot, and let simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours.  Half an hour before serving the soup, add the potatoes, return to a boil, reduce heat and cover again.  Check the seasoning before serving, and skim off any excess fat.  This goes great with tea biscuits and a salad.  You can use beef stock instead of bouillion as well. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rich Tea Biscuits

One of my oldest, beloved, most used cookbooks is called Muffins &More, it's a Company's Coming cookbook by Jean Pare, the third in her very large series.  Jean Pare is from Alberta, a real prairie success story.  The page that this recipe is on is dog eared, stained and parts of it got stuck together.  That's how good this recipe is.  I can always tell if a recipe is good by how trashed the page is.  I'm hard on my recipe books.

I use this recipe regularily, actually I have it memorized by now.  I use it for tea biscuits to go with soup or chili, and as a topping for chicken pot pie and other meat pies.  It's delicious.  De-li-cious. 

Here goes:

Rich Tea Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
1 cup cold milk

Put first five ingredients into bowl.  Stir thoroughly.

Cut in butter until crumbly.

Pour in milk.  Stir quickly to combine.  Dough should be soft.  Turn out on lightly floured surface.  Knead gently 8-10 times.  Roll or pat 1/2 to 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick or half the thickness you want the baked product to be.  Cut with small round cookie cutter.  Place on greased cookie sheet close together for soft sides or apart for crisp sides.  Bake in 450 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes.  Brushing biscuits with milk before baking will produce a pretty brown top.  Makes 10.

My own little changes are #1, I grate frozen butter into the flour mixture and then toss.  This is quick and easy.  #2, I always forget to buy cream of tartar, and so I never put it in.  It doesn't seem to make any difference.  #3, I also use different sized and shaped cookie cutters - square ones and round ones.  4)  When covering a meat pie, I roll out the dough rather thin, cut some slashes in it to let steam out, place the pan over it and cut off the excess.  Then I roll the dough back over the rolling pin and roll it out over the casserole.  I usually bake it for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F. 

More cleaning with vinegar

Most people think of vinegar as an ingredient in the kitchen, for baking, cooking, canning or making a great salad dressing.  When I think vinegar, I think cleaning!  I've already shared my tip for cleaning a microwave oven.  It got me to thinking about all the other things I use vinegar for. 

1.  I mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle.  I use this as a glass cleaner, and also as a disinfectant in the bathroom and kitchen.  That's right, vinegar has disinfectant properties.  Google it. 

2.  Using vinegar as a cleaner has a second purpose, vinegar is a great deodorizer.  Nasty smells will disappear when you use this as a cleaning agent.

3.  I put vinegar in my dishwater or rinsewater when I do the dishes by hand, it makes silverware and glasses sparkle.

4.  You can clean your kettle or iron or other appliances (washer or dishwasher) with vinegar, it gets the scaly build up off your kettle.  Just splash a generous amount of vinegar in the appliance, and run it through a regular cycle.

5.  Pour a quarter cup of baking soda down your kitchen sink drain, pour a couple of glugs of vinegar down behind it, slap on the sink plug and heat up your kettle.  Once the kettle is boiling, pull off the plug, the bubbling will have subsided by this time.  Pour the full kettle of boiling water down the sink, this will help your drains stay sweet.

6.  When a recipe calls for buttermilk, I add a splash of vinegar in the measuring cup before I pour in regular milk, this sours the milk. 

7.  If your hair is looking a little dull with product buildup, rinse it with vinegar in the shower.  It's amazing how your hair and sinuses will clear up.

There are lots of other uses for vinegar, I just listed the ones I use on a regular basis.  I was amazed to see some of the creative ideas  for using vinegar on the web!

Carpet Square Challenge

This is an oldy but a goody from the Family Home Evening Manual, page 311.  Your whole family will be laughing and sweating by the end of this game.

The materials you need are:

A carpet square, place mat, hand towel, or something similar for each family member.

You should do this in a room with lots of space, or in your back yard.  This is an active game.

Prepare in advance a long list of commands to shout out at the participants.  Start with simple commands and then increase the difficulty as you go along.  Remember to play to the strengths of your youngest family member, we don't want anyone getting frustrated and stomping off. 

Have each family member find their own spot.  Place the square in front of each member of the family.  Start calling out body parts to place on the carpet square.  Calling out opposites makes it more fun and challenging, i.e., Back, bottom, stomach, right hip, left hip, etcetera.  The faster you call out the body parts, the more active the game gets.  You can also mix it up by calling out two body parts at a time, i.e., right ear, left knee.  Give each family member a chance to call out the body parts as well.  Keep it simple for the little guys, especially if they're just learning the difference between left and right.  Be creative, there are lots of variations to this game.  For example, you can call out two body parts, but specify that one has to be on the floor and the other on the square.  You get the picture.  Here's a sample list of body parts:

left ear
right knee
right ear
left knee
right shoulder
left ankle
left shoulder
right ankle
right hand
left elbow
left hand
right elbow

This game can also be adapted to Simon Says. 

Have fun, this is a keeper!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why God Made Moms

My apologies for not posting a garden post or review post this week, but as some of you know Blogger was down Thursday night and Friday.  Instead of trying to keep up, I'm just going to jump in where we left off, with my Family Inspiration post for Saturday.  My good friend Colleen sent me this email, and I just have to share it with you all.  Have a great Saturday!

Why God Made Moms -

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

-She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
-Mostly to clean the house.
-To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

-He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
-Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
-God made my mom just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?

-God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
-They had to get their start from men's bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

-We're related.
-God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mom?

-My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
-I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
-They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

-His last name.
-She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?
-Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?

-My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats a lot.
-She got too old to do anything else with him.
-My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?

-Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
-Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.
-I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?

-Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
-Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
-Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
-Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?

-Mothers don't do spare time.
-To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

-On the inside she's already perfect.  OUtside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
-Diet.  You know, her hair.  I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mm, what would it be?

-She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I'd get rid of that.
-I'd make my mom smarter, then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cleaning the Microwave

Is there anything nastier than strolling into your spotless (*snort*) kitchen, opening up your microwave oven and - gasp! - discovering that some nameless entity has heated up a bowl of alphaghetti (or some other tomato based food) uncovered until the orange red sauce has splattered and cemented all over the inside of your previously immaculate (once again, *snort*) machine?  What do you do?  Round up the usual suspects and once again instruct them on the proper use of kitchen appliances?  Nah, who needs to see that glazed over look come into their eyes again? 

Just heave a big patient sigh, my friends, and do the following:

Eat a little chocolate (optional).
Get a medium sized microwaveable bowl.
Fill it with water. 
Squeeze in some lemon juice or a generous (really generous) splash of vinegar.
Place lemon water (or vinegar water) in microwave, turn on high for five minutes.
Enjoy the lovely aroma.
When the timer goes off, pull out the bowl, get a hot soapy cloth, and wipe out the inside of the microwave.

The lemon water/vinegar water cuts through the grease and crusty stuff on the inside of the microwave and makes it a snap to wipe it out.  Lots less elbow grease!  Now if someone can just tell me what contortionist moves it takes to clean the ceiling of the microwave without ending up with a wicked crick in your neck, I'd really appreciate it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

How to play One Hundred

Scott and I went to a Christmas party last year where we enjoyed spending time with our friends, eating (of course), and playing games.  We learned a new game that evening, a game called One Hundred.  

 All you need to play the game is a piece of paper for each player, one die, and one pencil. Each player gets a piece of paper, the pencil is left in the middle of the table.  The first player picks up the die and rolls it, trying to roll a six.  If that player doesn't roll a six, they pass the die to the next player, who rolls, hoping for a six.  The die is passed around the table to each player, until someone finally rolls a six.  That person then grabs the pencil and starts writing 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8... on their piece of paper.  All the other players continue to madly roll the die, until one of them rolls a six and grabs the pencil from the player writing numbers and starts writing from 1-100 on their paper.  Keep rolling the die and passing it around until someone else rolls a six, and so on, and so on, until someone finally manages to write up to 100 on their paper.  (Every time you get the pencil, just continue on from where you left off.  Don't start at one again.)

This game is rowdy and noisy, and lots of fun.  Sometimes just as you get the pencil, the very next person rolls a six and grabs it from you before you've even had a chance to write a single number down!  My family really likes to play this game and it always ends with lots of laughter and groans.  Try it, you'll like it!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day Poem

To Mommy

I love my mom
She is a bomb

She makes awesome cakes
That I don't know how she bakes

She is the best
She towers over the rest

She goes on walks with me
We like to see what we can see

Red, pink and blue make her smile
It's worth the while.

-Josh MacIntyre, age 9

Thoughts on #1 and #5

When number one was born, his room was perfectly organized and decorated and ready weeks in advance.
When number five was born, he slept in a tiny crib by my bed.

When number one was sleeping, the entire house was perfectly quiet, the ringer was turned off on the phone, and I tiptoed around the apartment.
When number five was sleeping, children ran round the house hollering, washing machines and vacuums ran, and the phone never stopped ringing.

When number one was a baby, the whole household was organized around his schedule, when he slept or ate, or when he need a bath or was playing.
When number five was a baby, he fit into the schedule of a large family, and slept and ate in between dropping kids off at the bus, picking them up after school, and running them to afterschool activities. 

When number one was a baby, everything was sterilized, including him!  If a soother dropped on the floor, it was boiled for two minutes.
When number five was a baby, if his soother dropped on the floor, it was wiped on mom's jeans and popped back in his mouth.

Number one's baby book is completed to the last page, with pictures and up to date entries.
Number five has a baby book, still in it's original packaging.

Number one to number five, with all the ones in between, are deeply loved by their mother.

Jari Love Get Ripped Review

My apologies for being late on these last few posts, it's been a busy week, and I also got to go down to Calgary to visit my Best Friend In The World, Stacey, and go to Time Out For Women.  Which was awesome, by the way.

My Friday review (yes, I know it's Sunday, Happy Mother's Day everyone!) is of a series of workout DVD's called Get Ripped.  I've been doing this series for the last two years, and I can really recommend them.  They were designed by a fitness expert from Calgary, Alberta named Jari Love.  I own the following from the series - Get Ripped 1000, Get Ripped Slim and Lean, Get Ripped To The Core, Get Extremely Ripped, and Get Ripped and Chiseled. 

Get Ripped, you say?  Seriously?  I never would have picked up this series except my friend, Caroline, went to a RS class where the instructor led them through a Ripped-style workout.  Caroline came home from the class and bought the tape, and had great results.  I noticed the difference in her, and when I asked, she told me all about the program.  So I went out and bought two of the videos, brought them home and watched them, and got a little scared.

The program is a weight lifting program, using light weights and lots of repetitions.  Lots of squats and lunges as well.  It uses compound exercises to increase the calories you are burning (for example, bicep curls combined with wide leg squats - ouch!)  Each dvd is about an hour long, taking you through a warm up, lots of groaning and sweating, and then a cool down.  Start off light and work your way up gradually, and you'll be pleased with your overall improvement in fitness and strength.

Most of the dvd's I own are from her earlier series.  They are a good overall workout, that you should do two or three times a week.  For the first three weeks I found it very difficult (let's just say I had a hard time walking up and down stairs), but after that, you feel really great.  I started doing weights because I work with seniors, and I have seen the importance of maintaining muscle mass as you age, and also the benefits of weight lifting include strong healthy bones.  Strong bones and good muscles protect you as you age, especially when it comes to falls.  I know, this is looking far into the future, but people start losing muscle mass in their late thirties or early forties.  Which is where I am, people.  Try it, I dare you!

Creative Vegetable Garden Planning

Two years ago I decided to play around with the way I planted my vegetable garden.  I designed a simple diamond pattern for our small patch, with a central diamond in the middle and then expanding outwards.  Just a lot of triangles, really.  I staked it out and used twine to map out the pattern.  This was a little excessive, but I need visual help sometimes, and it kept things straight and orderly, and helped me to keep track of where I was planting things.  As you can see from the top picture, the pattern looked really pretty when the garden was coming in!  Later on in the season it was harder to see unless you really looked closely, as the plants grew big and bushy. 

This year I am going back to this 2009 plan, on request of my oldest, Jason, who thought it was really pretty.  I look forward to seeing the little seedlings popping up in a pretty pattern.  Vegetable gardening doesn't have to be utilitarian, play around with different designs.  You don't have to plant in long straight rows, try square foot gardening or a french potager style.    Add flowers to your vegetables as well, planting nasturtiums and marigolds not only looks pretty, they help control pests in the garden.  A row of sunflowers on one side of your garden is spectacular and also acts as a wind screen later in the season.  My uncle plants his cucumbers at the foot of his sunflowers, and they climb up the sunflowers as support and are cooled by their big shady leaves.   

Try something creative in your vegetable patch, there is beauty to be found even among the beans!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread 2

  I really enjoyed the following recipe, it comes from a cookbook called From Apples To Zucchini: The Frugal Cook's Guide To An Overstocked Refrigerator And Overflowing Garden,  by Jane Marsh Dieckmann, published by McNaughton & Gunn, 1982.  If you can get your hands on a copy of this recipe book, I highly recommend it.  It is chock full of money saving frugal ideas for using up what's hiding out in the back of the fridge.  I made this on a day I had made an extra large amount of Red River Cereal for breakfast, just so I could have some leftover to try out this recipe.  It's called Hearty Breakfast Bread.

Hearty Breakfast Bread

leftover cooked cereal
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons honey
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 cups whole wheat flour
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

Combine the leftover cereal (up to 1 cup) with the milk and blend well.  Scald the mixture and cool slightly.  Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Put the honey, salt and margarine into a large bowl and pour the hot milk-cereal mixture over.  Stir well.  When lukewarm, stir in the dissolved yeast and the whole wheat flour.  Beat until smooth.  Then stir in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle.  Knead on a floured board adding more flour if necessary until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Turn once in a greased bowl and let rise ina warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.  Divide in three parts and shape into loaves.  Put in well-greased loaf pans (9x5) and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.  Bke at 375 degrees F about 35 minutes.

This bread baked up nice and high, and was fairly light for a whole wheat bread.  It wasn't as firm and dense as the honey whole wheat bread I made last week, so it was a little harder to slice.  The taste was excellent, with a nutty flavour from the Red River Cereal.  I look forward to trying it with leftover oatmeal. 

Whole Wheat Bread

In the last two days I tested some new recipes for Whole Wheat Bread.  Breadmaking is one of the most satisfying things to do in the kitchen.  I know it is a time consuming activity, but the end result is heavenly!  And really, the process of making bread involves short periods of activity between long periods of waiting, so it's kind of perfect for a busy mother.  You can work hard for ten or fifteen minutes, then come back in an hour for the next step, and so on and so forth.  Kneading the dough is a very stress releasing activity as well.   I get in a meditative kind of mood when I'm mixing and kneading, it can be very rewarding.

Yesterday I tried this following recipe.  It comes from a very old, shabby cookbook I have, called More-with-Less Cookbook, published by Herald Press, 1991.  This recipe is called Honey Whole Wheat Bread, and it turned out very well.  It made a nice, dense loaf with a dark brown color, and it slices really well.  I made toast with it this morning, and it was de-li-cious, and it held up well for making sandwiches for the lunch boxes.  (I am so tired of making school lunches, I am really looking forward to the end of June!) 

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves
375 degrees F
40-45 min.

Dissolve 2 tablespoons yeast in 1/2 cup warm water
Combine in large bowl:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon salt
Heat in saucepan until warm:
2 1/2 cups water or potato water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons oil.
Pour warm liquid over flour mixture.  Beat with electric mixer 3 minutes.  Add in dissolved yeast.  Stir in 1 additional cup whole wheat flour, and 4-4/12 cups white flour.
Knead 5 minutes, using additional white flour if necessary. Place in greased bowl, turn, let rise until double in bulk.  Punch down, divide dough in half and shape into loaves.  Place in greased 9x5 bread pans.  Cover and let rise 40-45 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes.

I added a pinch of sugar to the water I dissolved the yeast in (I always do, it helps to activate the yeast.)  I also added 1/4 cup wheat germ.  I will definitely make this bread again. 

Frozen Butter

This week's tip is a kitchen tip.  I enjoy watching Chef at Home on the Food Network.  Chef Michael Smith is from my neck of the woods, and I like his cooking without a recipe style.  I like his house too.  And the way he says ice.  (Oyce).  I say ice the same way.  Like I said, the same neck of the woods. 

Chef Michael often gives handy little short cuts and tips, and one of my favorites is using frozen butter when you're baking.  I often buy butter on sale and toss it in the deep freeze to stock pile it for the holidays when they jack the price up.  One day on one of his shows Chef Michael was making biscuits, and shared this tip.  Instead of cutting in the butter in the traditional manner, he suggested you take the measured amount of (frozen) butter and grate it into the ingredients and then toss it all together.  Presto!  This really cuts down on the work of making biscuits (or pie dough, or apple crisp).  Also, when the ice crystals in the butter melt in the oven, they create steam pockets which makes for a lighter, fluffier biscuit (or pastry).  Try it next time you need to cut in some butter, it's really a time saver.



Equipment:       deck of cards
                        Tablespoons (one less than the number of people playing)

Monday night in our house is family night!  After the supper dishes are done, we gather the children together and get ready for some family fun.  Usually we have some sort of lesson (more on that at a later date).  We always have a treat.  And we often will play a game or have some sort of activity planned.  This past Monday night we played one of our favorite card games – Spoons.  This is a card version of musical chairs.  The object of the game is to be the last man standing (figuratively).  Start off by laying the spoons in the middle of the table.  (There are seven in our family, so we laid out six spoons.)  The dealer deals four cards to each player.  The person seated on the right of the dealer is designated the trash can.  You can hold no more than five cards at a time.  The object is to get four of a kind.  The first person to get four of a kind grabs a spoon, and then everyone else tries to grab one of the remaining spoons.  To start the round, the dealer picks up a card from the deck, and if it is one that can help him towards getting four of a kind, he keeps it.  If not, he passes it to the person on the left, who then also looks at the card and decides whether to keep it or not.  The dealer keeps looking at cards, deciding to keep them or pass them on to the next player.  The trash can is in charge of keeping the cast offs in a pile.  (Try to keep the cards moving along fairly quickly to keep the pace of the game going well.)  As soon as a player has four of a kind, they grab a spoon and the mayhem starts.  The person who didn’t get a spoon is eliminated.  The dealer gathers up the cards, while the spoons (minus one) are laid on the table again.  The game is over when the last two players are finished their round.  (Hints: Some people don’t bother looking at their cards, they just keep an eagle eye on the spoons, so they can get a jump on the rest of the players.  If you’re sneaky, you can slowly reach out and grab a spoon with no one noticing for a while, this is kind of fun!  Some people sweep the spoons off the table when they reach out and grab their spoon, this causes all kinds of trouble!)