Monday, September 27, 2010

Jacob Turns Three Today

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Today is my third son's third birthday. He is a very active, adventurous, little boy that loves to explore and investigate his world. He loves to sing and dance and has the heart of a Scottish Warrior; he doesn't give up or give in when he truly believes it is what he needs. Yet, he is very kind hearted and gentle and has a very generous spirit and a very sweet boy. This is a little pictorial history of Jacob's first three years.
(September 27, 2007)
Jacob joins the family.

(October 2007)
Our little Pumpkin. He was our tiny tot.

(March 2008)
Out exploring on a warm spring day.

(March 2008)
Enjoying a banana for the first time.

(September 2008)
Farmer's Market Fun in a tire pot made by Felder Rushing.

(July 2009)
Nothing better than a fresh carrot.

(August 2009)
It's just all sweetness and love.

(August 2009)
First Haircut

(May 2010)
Camping Out

(August 2010)
Exploring the U.S.S. Kidd

Happy Birthday to my little man.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Noah!

Noah's First Five Years

Today is my second son's fifth birthday. He is very excited to be five today and has a joy of life that is just so precious to watch. He is precocious, adventurous, curious and it usually leads him to trouble at some part of the day. Noah has a love for everything that is just bigger than the world, but has a roughness that only a little boy can claim...he loves frogs, bugs and mud. He is sweet, beautiful, and angelic...only while he is sleeping. This is a little pictorial history of Noah in his first five years.

(September 21, 2005)
The Day we met.

(Summer 2006)
Exploring nature even before he could walk.

(October 2007)
Loving an afternoon out in the Pumpkin Patch.

(Summer 2008)
Oh those beautiful curls.

(Later in the Summer 2008)
First haircut....

Fourth of July Tye Dye

(Summer 2010)
My boy loves his feathered friends.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Red Beans And Rice

Red Beans and Rice is one of my favorite meals to cook when the weather starts turning cool. It is good any time, but it is just one of those warm, stick to your ribs kind of meals that makes you feel cozy inside. It is also a very good vegetarian recipe, just leave out the meat products. If you want the smoke flavor that the sausage gives it add some liquid smoke.

I really like to start this meal completely from scratch with dried beans instead of canned, but for this recipe I will use the shortcut version, because that is what I had to do this time because I realized in the afternoon that I forgot to soak the beans overnight.

This recipe will feed an average family, I like to double it and have some to freeze.

1-2 tablespoons of oil to saute vegetables(butter or bacon grease are good choices)
2 onions chopped fine
1 bell pepper chopped fine
2-4 cloves of garlic to taste chopped fine
2-4 stalks of celery
1/2lb. - 1 lb of sausage depending on how meaty you want it(or none)
2-3 cans of Red Beans you can use the big or small beans or a mixture of both(we use both)
1-2 quarts of liquid for cooking the beans water or broth(chicken or vegetable)
1 can of fat free refried beans(this saves the step of mashing a portion of the beans while cooking)
Seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, or a Cajun seasoning mix
Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce are also good flavorings to add to the pot or to the bowl.

Start a pot of rice I usually cook 2 cups(uncooked) for our family. Sometimes we have leftover sometimes not...depends on how active everyone was that day.

Saute the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic in oil until tender. If you want to start with bacon grease, two strips of bacon will come in handy to start with. You can crumble and add the bacon to the beans or eat your choice.

Cut the sausage into small pieces and add to pot, cook sausage for about 5 minutes.

Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot(not the refried beans).

Add water or broth to cover the beans . At this point everything is cooked, if you are in a great hurry, you can add the can of refried beans and adjust the liquid so that you have a smooth, thickened gravy with the beans.

If you have extra time, add the liquid to the beans and let it cook on low for about 20 minutes so the flavors can come together. Add the refried beans and adjust the liquid so that the gravy is smooth and thickened. If at any point the beans and gravy get too thick just add more liquid to your liking.

Serve this over rice with a nice crusty slice of French bread to get all the gravy out of the bowl.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The New Bars of Soap

Here are the new bars ready for the curing racks.

This green marble batch is Tea Tree Oil.

These Brown bars are Chai Tea.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Harvest Season

I love this time of year. There is always one day in the year that signals it, and today was the day. There are other nice mornings, but this was that first briskly cool morning that really says fall is here. It just makes you want to start storing food for the winter...jams, jellies, canned vegetables, and my next new adventure, lacto-fermentation. I am really anxious to get some things done. Today I have several projects that I would like to complete. Lately my expectation on finishing things has been very low, but I just keep trying. I will be making a couple of new batches of soap today. These will be my seasonal fall batches. One of them will be Chai Spiced Tea, and the other will either be Pumpkin Pie Spice, or Spiced Apple Cider.

Bread needs to be made today, and if time permits, and the baby allows, I will be attempting the following:

Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
1 Head of Cabbage(8-10 Cups)
10 Juniper Berries
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup filtered water mixed with 1tsp. salt

In a clean non-metallic bowl, mix cabbage, juniper berries, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, and salt. Stir to release juices. Let is rest 10 min(or more) and stir again.

Pack into a sterilized quart jar and push down with a wooden mallet. Add filtered water with salt to the rim of the jar. Loosely cover and place on a tray to catch overflowing juice. Place in cool room for 2-3 weeks.

After bubbling stops, check container and top off with more salt water if level drops below rim. Skim any white spots or film off of the top and close jar tightly, wipe off outside of jar and store in refrigerator until you use it up.

Well, my hands are free for a few moments, so it is time to start the lye, and get the bread dough rising, maybe I will be lucky and get to chop the cabbage also....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010