Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Just a popping in for a quick note to let you know what's going on our neck of the woods. The kitchen is now sporting a new color all white. It is a real change from the Italian rose that it has been for the last 6 years and I really like it. It's so much brighter and has a calmer feeling about it. The boys and I cleaned out the dressers of old tee shirts that were stained, had paint on them or were torn and all were turned over to Joseph to cut up and fill the rag bag with. They also made new 5 potholders from cotton loops and cut out 15 napkins. I made 8 new dish towels and now have 5 new dish cloths for the kitchen. I re-hung my quilt top valances in the kitchen over the french lace panels. I made the valences from a twin size quilt top that my husband had gotten from his great aunt had made a few years back. The had been packed away since the didn't matche the kitchen any longer. I also patched the knees of three pairs of Joseph's jeans for and he stitched up a vest and set of  felt boots for his Winnie the Pooh bear (the Classic, not the ugly yellow disney version) - we are reading through The World of Winnie the Pooh. He really is enjoying it and giving everyone wonderful narrations - finally. He also has gotten the writting bug. He carries around little paper notebook he made to copy down every word that he sees. Kody and Collin, well lets just say the are typical middle school boys doing what ever is required of them in the area of school work and the are done - although Kody seem to be reading more than he use to. Besides the Harry Potter set he is now reading through the Myrtars and Revolutionaries by DC Talk and of course Collin is always got some old cookbook rummaging through it. Well, I guess that about covers it for now. Here's our grub for the week.

gingerbread, applesauce, hot tea
steel cut oats with walnuts & cranberries, pumpkin cider (x2)
biscuits & gravy, peppermint tea
rice pudding, green goodness juice
boiled egg, cinnamon toast, happy honey bee tea
potato cakes with cheese, orange slices, punpkin cider

black bean quesadilla, orange slices
pumpernickel, apple grilled cheese, tomato basil soup
spaghetti with spicy peanut sauce, celery & carrot sticks
peanut butter & jelly, apple slices (x2)
veggie fried rice, pineapple
leftover broccoli potato casserole, green goodness juice

eggs in potato crousades, mixed greens salad, rye bread & Jam
Swiss steak, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans
monastery harvest soup, cheese toast
baked whiting, scalloped potatoes, roasted carrots
broccoli potato casserole, Harvard beets, oatmeal bread & jam
marmalade pork loin, roasted potatoes & carrots, steamed broccoli
spicy lentil soup, mixed greens salad, cornbread

Have a brilliantly blessed week!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter Song

Rain and wind, and wind and rain.
Will the Summer come again?
Rain on houses, on the street,
Wetting all the people's feet,
Though they run with might and main.
Rain and wind, and wind and rain.

Snow and sleet, and sleet and snow.
Will the Winter never go?
What do beggar children do
With no fire to cuddle to,
P'raps with nowhere warm to go?
Snow and sleet, and sleet and snow.

Hail and ice, and ice and hail,
Water frozen in the pail.
See the robins, brown and red,
They are waiting to be fed.
Poor dears, battling in the gale!
Hail and ice, and ice and hail.

~Katherine Mansfield~

Country Style Broccoli-Potato Casserole

from The Joy of Monastery Cooking
Serves 6-8 servings

4 medium broccoli heads
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch or all purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
bread crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil the broccoli for 8-10 minutes. Drain and then chop coarsely including the stems and set aside.

2. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes, Drain and set aside.

3. In a deep bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with the milk, stirring. Add the beaten eggs, cheese, salt and pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well.

5. Generously butter an 11x7-inch ovenproof dish. Pour the mixture into it a distribute the ingredients evenly. Cover the top lightly with bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Cut into six t eight equal portions and serve hot.

Spicy Lentil Soup

from The Joy of Monastery CookingMakes 6-8 servings

2 1/2 cups black lentils
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, cut into small dice
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 tablespoons tomato puree
4 cloves garlic, minced
11 cups vegetable stock or water
salt and cayenne
2 teaspoons paprika
1 long strip lemon zest
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6-8 tablespoon plain soy yogurt, for garnish
finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Place the lentils and rice in a bowl filled with water and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain.

2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot, them add the onions, celery, carrot, and tomatoes, and saute lightly over medium heat, stirring continually. After 4 or 5 minutes, add the tomato puree and garlic. Cook, stirring, for another minute or two.

3.Add the lentil mixture, vegetable stock or water, salt and cayenne, paprika, lemon zest, and cumin. Stir well. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Allow it to boil for about 5 minutes.

4. Lower the heat to medium-low, stir, cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for 40-45 minutes, until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Check the seasonings, remove the lemon zest, and serve the soup hot. Place 1 tablespoon of yogurt at the center of each serving, surrounded by the cilantro.

Note: I used just water, not broth and this turned out great. However, I ended up with way more serving than what was suggested. It fed my family of five and I still had enough left to freeze 3 baggies with 3 cups each in them for future lunches or dinners. When I served this I put a layer of polenta in the bottom of a bowl with sauteed spinach on top of the polenta and the lentil soup on top of the spinach. This was a hands down yummy and warming supper.

To make this into curried lential soup I simply added 1-2 teaspoons curry powder to the finished recipe, this depends on your taste really. These were the baggies that I put up for lunch to use over rice or potatoes.

Monastery Cooking

There is something so earthy, comforting, peaceful and natural about eating foods from a monastery menu. Everything is fresh, homegrown, seasonal and for the most part meatless. Last week I purchased a new cook book by one of my all time favorite authors - Brother Victor-Antoine d'Auila-Latourrette entitled The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking. Yes, it was a bit pricey, however it will more than pay for itself in the money his recipes will save me. The very first cookbook of his I ran across at the library a few years back - 12 Months of Monastery Soups. It was a true gem filled with the simplest recipes with few ingredients that most a people would have on hand. It was arranged by seasons and it was the first step in getting me to look at cooking and eating seasonally. I was in heaven - or - dare I say love?

The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking follows the venue of vegetarian cooking with beautiful photographs of the monastery, the garden and of course Brother Victor and his tasty delights. This sweet gentleman's love for God, service and food shine through in his cooking. I have never been disappointed with one of his recipes and find they are very frugal to use and are used often in my kitchen. I have already made two of the recipes this week and plan on three more for next weeks menu. The following is one of the recipes I will be cooking next week.

Eggs in Potato Crousades
Makes 4 servings

4 large Idaho potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the potatoes for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Cut a thin slice off the top of each potato. Carefully scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving intact a 1/4-inch shell.

2. Mash the scooped out potato flesh. add the butter, milk, salt and pepper, and parsley, and mix well. Place about half of this mixture into the potatoes, leaving a hollow space for the eggs.

3. Break an egg into the center of each potato and season it with salt and pepper. Use the remainder of the potato mixture to build a decorative edge on the top of the shell and around the egg. Generously butter a dish and place the potatoes in the dish. Bake for about 15 minutes. When the eggs are set, the dish is done. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Just popping in to let you know what's on the table this week. Hope you had a pleasant week. Things around here have been busy but rewarding. Joseph is into some serious birdwatching out his bed room window sketching what he sees two or three times a day. He finished up his Apple blossom Fairy book and Ant book he was making this week. The older two began a unit on Oklahoma History. They baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and 3 loaves of bread for the freezer. They also played a lot of basketball with our nice weather this week before the cold and snow moves in.

I'm in the process of recycling a beautiful white full size 100% cotton sheet I found at the thrift shop into tea towels and napkins for kitchen and a small curtain for the bathroom. I crocheted three new dish cloths and I am planing on making three more this next week. Our new family addition - Kody bought himself an Anole lizard - so we now have two birds (Tweety & Sylvester), two dogs (Martha & Grace), two cats (Mollie & Ruby), two tanks full of fish (who are nameless) and a lizard named George Washington. The gossip from hubby is that this spring he's thinking about getting chickens again. We have missed our Buttecup Ladies so much this past year.
steel cut oats with cranberries & raisins, hot tea (x2)
potato cakes with cheese, clementine, peppermint tea
toad in the hole, banana, hot tea
toast, hot cocoa
oatmeal applesauce muffins, hot cocoa (x2)

broiled open face sandwiches, dill pickles(x2)
veggie fried rice, pineapple
ramen noodles, peanut butter celery sticks,
black bean quesadillas, apple slices
baked potato with chili topping, salad
peanut butter & jelly sandwich, pears

Southwest Brunch Bake, fruit salad, biscuits & jam
venison chili, corn muffins
Corn Chowder, savory apple casserole, green salad
lemon pepper & savory talipia, wild rice & long grain rice with mushrooms and red onions, glazed carrots
pumpkin waffles with  bananas & cinnamon
Anna Morse's Lemon Chicken, seasoned rice, steamed Brussels sprouts
Spinach Rice Casserole, steamed broccoli, corn

Have a brilliantly blessed week!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Granny's Mulligan Stew

This recipe was so close to a recipe that my grandmother use to make often that she called Mulligan Stew. Simply add 1/2 pound crumbled ground beef that had been boiled in water and drained. Mash some of the potatoes to help thicken it up a bit.  A very yummy and filling dish on a cold day.

Potato Soup

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
water, enough to cover the potatoes
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon slat
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place potatoes and onions in a 3-quart saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. (you would boil your ground beef in another saucepan here also if adding to the recipe.) Lower heat and simmer for 30 or 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Mash a few of the potatoes in the pan to thicken it. (combine the drained ground beef.) Season with the salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings

Tuna Patties

I can't tell you how many of these little jewels we have eaten over the years - probably enough to keep the tuna industry in business. However, when the budget would pick up we would have salmon patties.  It has become a family favorite to have these with fried potatoes and sweet peas.

Tuna Patties
1 7 ounce can tuna, drained
1 onion, chopped
1 egg
6  saltine crackers, crushed
Dash pepper
1 teaspoon parsley
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil an mix well. Put oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Drop tuna mixture onto hot oil by Tablespoons. Fry about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.  Makes 8- 10 patties

Nooldle Kugel

2 cups medium noodles2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cook noodles about 6 minutes in boiling water. Drain. Combine the eggs, margarine, sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix well. Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish and pour in noodle mixture. Bake 40 minutes. Makes 4 servings

Blackberry Cobbler

I love blackberries, however I learned early on hubby can't stand the seeds so I would use this recipe using drained canned or fresh sliced peaches instead of the blackberries.
Blackberry Cobbler

3 cups blackberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Combine the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Pour into baking dish. Combine 1 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and baking powder in a small bowl. Cut in the shortening. Stir in the milk. Drop dough by tablespoons over the filling and bake 25 minutes or until the topping is golden. Makes 4-6 servings.

Brownies without Chocolate

1/3 cup vegetable shortening3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan. Melt the shortening in a one quart saucepan. Remove from the heat. Mix in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and raisins. Spread batter in pan and bake 30 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into squares.  Makes 16 brownies

Stuffed Peppers

4 green peppers with seeds removed1 pound cooked ground beef, drained
1 small onion, chopped, sauteed
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Boil peppers, uncovered for 3 minutes in a 3-quart saucepan., Drain. Combine cooked beef, onion, rice, salt and pepper and stuff the peppers. Place the peppers in a saucepan with a little water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over a low flame. Makes 4 servings.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Kind of Home Educators Are We?

When asking myself the question, "What kind of home educators are we?" I find myself in pit of confusion. I mean I know what works for us, however, I have never found a label for it and over the years I find there are more like us that are not. I find it truly hard to pigeon-hole educators into a single slot – Charlotte Mason, Classical, Waldorf, and Montessori or are you unschoolers or traditional text book users? We each are simply a collection of what inspires us to do our best and be our best for our children. When you first begin you try this and know it will work – right? Then you realize that maybe it's not the right fit for your child or children and you try another avenue because you are seeing that all things don't fit every child or even your own style of understanding. Over time you collect, use, discard and keep what works, thus your educational methods become a composite of various types blended together. Also there is that living life factor that truly gives shape to the true value of your children's education – dare I say it – true education isn't about papers, pencils and books – but you knew that, right? But to be honest this was an important fact that came with the years for me I didn't start out that way. It was a fact I learned by watching my boys and seeing how each of them learned and retained information the best.

One child liked Classical methods and buried himself in Greeks and Romans when he was young and now he is a true just give me the facts kind of guy. Another flourished with unschooling methods and is a genius with building and mechanical things and his ability to look at a simple machine and see what is out of place is amazing. He is also our family advocate for anything rebuild, recycle and be "Green." The youngest is a true Charlotte Mason child. He loves to be read to, draws & paints pictures of animals and plants. He has love for nature that is unending – not matter how creepy. Then there is the thread that weaves this all together for us as a family Waldorf.

It is through Waldorf that I learned to create a rhythm for our year, months, weeks and days. A true rhythm for life. It seemed to take all the loose ends over the years and weave them into a beautiful blanket that covers us with love, peace, hope and happiness. It has given us a pace of moving through our days that that lets us breathe – there is no more hurry scurry, got to get this and that done that drew us to tears in the past. It has simplified and brought true mindfulness to our lives. Each child, although their interests are varied and each learn in a different manner also learn from each other so there is a little extra thing going on every day to enrich their knowledge of the world around them. We try to live, eat, and celebrate by the seasons which has turned out to be great fun and learning experience all in itself.

If you are using the wrong method for the child you can spend all the money in the world on curriculum and they will not learn a thing and be miserable in the process. True learning happens when we like and even love that which we are learning about- it doesn't matter how I go about teaching the 3 R's just so that there is a connection made in a way that my child can understand it.

This year the Classical child enters 8th grade and wants to know more about the world globally, its cultures and missions work. The "Green" unschooler is in grade 5 and into inventors and their inventions and our little Charlotte Mason man is in grade 2 and is r learning about the plants and bugs, animals and poetry with a lap book here and there. I use to tremble at the thought of three different grades and teaching methods but now I see the calm and centered learning experience that each child has and how well they learn in having their own special world to share with the family. I see the wisdom of how learning needs to be structured for some and for others they simply need to be guided. The full potential of each child lies within himself and our (hubby & I) task is to find what they need to bring it out to share with the world. That's what kind of home educators we are.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Character of a Man

Sometimes when you are raising the next generation of young men you often wonder, "Am I doing a good job?" or you ask yourself, "Could I have done something different?" these are question every parent ask themselves at one time or another. Then one day that crossroad in a person's life appears before them – that defining moment that shows the world who they truly are. For some it may come young and for others they may be older, but all are faced with that one important turning point in life. One person may find it a challenge while another simply slide easily into home plate. Ours has always been a family who respected and cared for our elderly. It is just a fact of life like breathing air but I never considered it a character trait that could stir so much love, happiness, security and pride in a parent. My grandmother cared for her mother. My mother lived with and cared for her mother until her passing in 2004 and she also lived cared for her brother who had a stroke 10 years ago until his passing a month ago. This is where my story begins.

My mother is in her seventies. She has bone deterioration due to medication she has had to take and arthritis which makes walking difficult. She is a diabetic and an insomniac. Now for the first time in years, actually thirty something, finds herself faced with living alone. She finds being alone a difficult. So the boys often take turns spending the night with her. In 1995 we purchased the house across the street from her so that we could be near her and my grandmother should they need anything.

The boys and I would watch my grandmother during the day while mom was at work – fixing her lunch and spending the afternoons with her until my mother came home from work. It was a great learning experience for all. See my grandmother was in her eighties and was a treasure trove of stories and had a collection of nostalgic memorabilia you would not believe – it was history come to life. At that time I didn't realize the true lessons that would later define their character, nor the sense of responsibility, love, compassion, and determination that those afternoons poured into the heart of Kody.

From the first day of my uncle's passing Kody began staying the night and most of the days with my mother. Helping her with whatever she needed – vacuuming, dusting, changing the light bulbs in the ceiling fans, answering the phone because she was sleeping, cooking dinner or breakfast, washing the laundry. The kid can do most anything except when it comes to tools – Collin's an expert in that area, the kid can fix anything, so Kody calls his over for that kind of stuff. But the important thing to him is to be there. He knows she is the one who now needs help and company. They have found a great bond and rhythm to their days. Then one afternoon he comes home and asks me this --- Would it be alright if he moved in with granny, he thought she needed someone to help her and she didn't need to be alone.

She had a bedroom that had been empty since old granny passed away. (My uncle had lived in the garage apartment behind the house.) He could help her with whatever she needed around the house. Help her go to the store. He would come home in the mornings for school and go back and help her with dinner and spend the night. Collin and Joseph could each spend a night sometime during the week with him. If I needed him for anything he would be right across the street. He had given this some thought I realized as he voice all his thoughts.

So hubby and I talked it over and then talked it over with Collin and Joseph. The conservation with the other two seemed to surprise me because their concern was the same as Kody's had been - granny now needed someone to look out for her. So to make this long story a bit shorter Kody now lives across the street with my mother. He has kept true to his word about coming home each day and it has really worked out.

Tonight my I asked my husband, "How many 14 year old boys in this day and age do you think would move in and take care of their granny? Not because they were made to but because it was the thing to do – just like breathing air." He answered, "Damn few, if any at all." Then he smiled and said, "We did good."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

This last week has been filled with the last preparations of the beginnings of our new school year - we home school year round from January through December. That half a year here and the other half the following year drives me nuts! Well, the solstice saw us getting venison (deer) for the freezer and New Year's we received ducks for the freezer. Organic meat for free!! Hey, it gets me excited. My hubby's partner at work is a single young man who lives by himself and loves to hunt and fish on his off time.  Last summer he gave us a ton of fish. He even cleans and dresses out the meat for us, can't beat that. We tried buying organic meats , however our budget just couldn't handle it for very long. This has really been a blessing to us. We have found organic ground beef for a decent price actually it's only about a forty cent a pound difference. Needless to say our New Year's Dinner was changed to grilled duck breasts, sweet potato casserole and French peas (that's just a fancy name for buttered peas with a sprinkle of nutmeg in them). Our menu this week is the following~

boiled egg and cinnamon toast, happy honey bee tea
pumpkin breakfast cookies, hot cocoa (x2)
oatmeal with walnuts & golden raisins, spiced apple cider (x2)
pancakes with bananas, hot cocoa
toad in a hole, peppermint tea

macaroni & cheese, carrot sticks
black bean quesadillas
peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, apple slices (x2)
tomato basil soup, cheese toast
spaghetti with spicy peanut sauce

Pouched eggs & sauteed spinach on toast, fried potatoes & onions
Granny's Salisbury steak, rice, buttered corn, steamed Brussels sprouts
cauliflower & smoked cheese soup; smoked cheddar soup, rye bread & butter, green salad
kedgeree, crusty bread & butter
veggie pizza, garden salad
shredded beef tacos, pineapple-banana-mandarin orange salad

Have a brilliantly blessed week!

Sweet Beginnings

 Give a boy a box of this and you get a sweet beginning to the New Year.

Hope your New Year is filled with blessings of sweetness and love.