Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Do you hear that?  Do you just ...barely...hear that sound?  Of angels singing?  I hear them.  I do!  Hallelujah!  My kids ate some real food!  The angels sing, "Do. you. see. her-kids eating fo--oo--oo---ood..."  You know - like "And He shall reign for-ever and eeehh--ver!"

I hear it.
Do you hear it, too?

Over the weekend, we saw some real success with The Everyday Food Challenge.  I made porkchops with fresh pineapple (jerk pineapple pork chops, pg.18), pineapple and black bean salsa, pg. 22 (hubby, who does not eat beans, said the black beans tasted, "...creamy.  And [the salsa was] kind of good..."!!!), and sweet-pepper rice with sausage, pg.74 (I undercooked the rice, so I won't hold that against anyone).  It was uplifting to make meals that - for the most part - were consumed without distress, duress, or coercion (never mind that my pickiest eater was gone to a friend's half the weekend...).  I think these three recipes will all be repeaters!  (The salsa, especially, was a surprising yumOH!)

And speaking of repeaters and yumOH!  I'll definitely have you all over the next time I serve banana-caramel napoleans (pg 107).  Talk about hearing the angels sing.  That dessert tasted divine!

Btw, I'm not being paid by any big, fancy, multi-million dollar cookbook author to say any of this stuff.  So, maybe it begs the question ~ why are you really doing this, Karin?  Why are you putting yourself through all of these recipes?  I'll be back to explain more tomorrow...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Judging by the Gag Factor

Anyone else determine whether or not a meal is a success based on how many times - or whether or not - your family gags?  C'mon!  Show of hands!  Anyone? Anyone?  Bueller?

Indeed, determining a method to assess the meals in the Everyday Food Challenge is ... well, challenging!  There's a perfectly good reason why I tend to go to Bread Co or make fish sticks or order pizza as a mealtime rule.  OK, aside from a) poor planning and b) poor time management - the kids eat Bread Co, fish sticks, and Domino's pizza!  Do you have any idea how many times I've spent hours in the kitchen preparing a feast fit for kings and queens only to be sentenced to throwing meat to the dog and licking the mashed potatoes off the plates myself?  Yes?  (OK, probably I'm the only who eats everybody else's potatoes...it's a waste to throw them away!  ...And I love mashed potatoes...)  But I do know other mothers lament the same troubles over getting their kids to eat healthy foods.  I return to that original question, though - anyone else determine meal success based on lack of gagging amongst the constituents?  That I need to know. 

I have some gaggers at my house.  And some amazing lolligaggers.

The first meal I made from this month's Everyday Foods was pictured on Friday: shells with roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and ricotta - a lovely blend of flavors and textures I truly thought was, although not spectacular, a savory blend of foods that tasted really quite good together.  The tastes were subdued and mixed nicely.  I served cheese bread with the pasta for lunch because once, long ago, a dietician told me to always serve a familiar favorite with an unpreferred.  Which led to me having to field 87,648 requests for more cheese bread whereas no one had even taken a single bite of pasta.  While I was on my second bowl.  *sigh*

Results of the first recipe in our challenge:
Mom:  thumbs up
Pooks: thumbs down (had to threaten to take away her opportunity to star in a Make A Wish movie to get her to eat it)
Meiners: gagged 4 times
Sashi:  "meh"
T: absent
Mr: absent (lucky man)

Good thing to know: eat this meal fresh, straight from the pot.  I gave it to Mr. the next day as a lunch of leftovers.  I found it gag-worthy at that point.  Even tried to doctor it with more cheese and some salt and pepper.  blech.  So, judging by the gag factor, probably not a repeat performance likely in this house.  But, just in case you're not scared and you'd like to give it a shot, here's a slightly modified version of the recipe:

::  shells with roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, and ricotta ::

1/4c EVOO
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2c crusty bread cut into 1/2" pieces
1# medium shells
3T chopped fresh parsley
1/2c ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 425, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  On a rimmed sheet, toss together 2T oil, cauliflower, and chickpeas.  Season with S&P.  Arrange cauliflower and chickpeas in a single layer and roast until cauliflower is tender and chickpeas are crunchy, 25m (I did not find our chickpeas to be crunchy.  Test them.  This added to the gag factor, I do have to admit.)  On another sheet, arrange bread in a single layer and toast until golden and crisp, about 10m.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Drain and return to pot.  Add cauliflower mixture, 2T oil, and parsley.  Season with S&P and toss to combine.  Serve with croutons and ricotta, then drizzle with oil.

Serves 6

Sunday, February 20, 2011

52 recipes in 28 days?

Returning, briefly, to the whole 'self-imposed logistical nightmare' of doing The Everyday Food Challenge, I'm wondering if you and I are mutually aware that there are 52 recipes in this month's Everyday Food?  Thereabouts.  I've specifically decided to complete all the recipes - not those items that Martha and her compatriots deem 'pantry worthy' or 'oooooooh you should really eat these beans...'  No, I'm talking the recipes:  1 cup of this and a dollop of that.  Now having said that, I initially determined that I would include advertisers' recipes (the full-page ads in Everyday Foods that look mysteriously(??) like Martha recipes until you read the fine print at the bottom that reads: "paid advertisement" and you realize, 'duh.'  (Isn't that eloquent?!)  Since there are only maybe 1-2 of those this month, I'm going to hold off on the decision (everybody collectively gasps).  After-all, I still have 52 others to choose from.  For 28 days.   

We budget based on Dave Ramsey's envelope system.  Our miscellaneous and grocery expenses come out of the same envelope.  Which is invariably remarkably empty usually by about Day 8-9 out of 14.  Seriously.  It is notable how well we eat from the bottom of the freezer on a regular basis.  It's a good thing I used to buy a lot of those unhealthy, nonsensicle, frozen foods.  Back before the envelope.  Which was probably 3 years ago...Does that mean I'm saying I'm cooking foods for my kids that have been sitting at the bottom of the freezer for 3 years??  What?!  No, no, no ~ I'm not saying thatExactly.... {Remember all those trips to Bread Co morning, noon, and night?  OK, OK, that was an exaggeration, too, actually...or was it...??}  Hey - at least we ate.  So anyway, 28 days = 2 envelope periods.

Last Thursday as soon as all the kids were off to school, I took my Everyday Foods magazine, my new envelope full o'cash, and I traipsed through the Walmart.  For 3 hours.  I bought the majority of the items I would need to complete the first two weeks.  Even the green veggies.  That may not have been a great idea.  {Rotten veggies}  But I wanted to set myself up to succeed from the beginning and what derails a plan to eat healthy foods at home more than not having the right supplies?  OK, maybe the whole time issue, but besides that.  Having the Food.  Food derails the food plan.  (Aha!  So it's not me after-all...)  My total bill for food at WalMart on Thursday came to $136.68.  I visited Dierberg's the next day and spent $7 more.  So, less than $150 on groceries.  For us, that's pretty good.

So, we're ready to go.  Ready to get started.  Ready to hit the ground running.  Get this show on the road.  Head 'em up and Move 'em out.  Let's get cookin' baby!

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow we'll talk food.  {I promise. *insert cheezy grin here*}

Saturday, February 19, 2011

That's Logistics!

I'm 2 days in to my Everyday Food challenge and I'm already re-reworking some of the deets.  Like my life, even this venture is a work-in-progress.  Trying to decide how I'm going to take gorgeous photos of the foods I make when we'll primarily be eating them at night (not ideal lighting conditions) - do I leave one uncooked porkchop and pineapple tonite to cook up tomorrow spot-on fresh to get that candid photo of extraordinary food in great northern-exposed light?  Or is that just absurd because cooking it tonite was enough work and mess that who would want to do it again just for one porkchop in one photo tomorrow?!  And is it a good idea to separate the two blogs?  Would it be better to house everything under one roof?  Because do you really want to click over there after you've clicked here to see that I wrote something over there and how annoying would it be to all involved for me to write here every day, "Hey I wrote a blogpost over at the cooking blog..."  Annoying.  And then from a further logistical standpoint, am I cooking the meals and posting them the same day, or do I stockpile cooking and post a day or two later to keep up?  Do you see how I tend to think of these amazingly brilliant ideas and like a flash in the pan, I chase after them in the wind only to realize retrospectively that there's a lot more to writing about my Everyday Food challenge let alone living through the Everyday Food challenge...


I'm going to have to think about this.

Maybe I'll rent Julie&Julia again. 

As if I have time with all this cooking...

See you tomorrow!  (When I'll actually be talking about the food and the challenge, not my logistical musings!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Makin' Memories

When I was a kid, we spent a week every summer in a cabin by the lake 'Makin' Memories.'  At least, that's what we called it.  This week, we stayed home and did our normal crazy busy feverishly hectic schedule and we did the same thing.  We were busy all week Makin' Memories.

 The weather - after months of crazy winter - turned gorgeous this week.  Little Bit got to try out her new bike Santa left her under the tree a few months ago.  Man alive is she getting big.  I love the way she pedals and talks.  And rationalizes getting off when the hills and valleys ahead require just a little bit more being little and letting momma lead.  And then that dog?  I do believe he is the girl's best friend.

Speaking of best friends.  These two can duke it out and minutes later be wrapped in deep conversation about Bey Blades.  Or Pokemon.  Or Legos.  Or the latest Rick Riordan novel.  I adore their relationship.  And them to the core of their being.

I'm baaaa-aaacck!  Blonde and beautiful baby!   :)

I'm starting a new personal challenge.  You can join me at the cooking blog for the next 28 days (or so) as I take the latest Everyday Foods magazine and make every recipe in it.  Yeah, I said every recipe.  Sorta like Julie Julia, only I so can't do the 365-day thing!

And this is for Sashi's one true love - James @ Hans Hedeman Surf Shop in Waikiki.  (Don't you love the concentration?!)  Shaka!!!  <3

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In pictures

Last week I didn't get the chance to link up to Frizz on Friday.  So, before it's another Friday, I thought I'd pick up last week's Fab 5...

Pookie's b/f visited Sunday.  Man did they have a great time together!  They fit more into a single afternoon than I have energy to do in a week.  They made cookies (completely solo) - and ate almost the entire batch!  They made a gaggle of those warm fuzzies all of us who grew up in the 70s made as kids (I'm so glad all that stuff is coming back around - friendship bracelets anyone?  Or what about the safety pins with beads strung on them hanging on everyone's tennis shoes...?)   They played and played and played.  I'm glad Pooks has found someone special in her class this year.

Tuesday night the twins serenaded us at their first violin concert.  For first timers, I think we were all pretty impressed with how good it sounded!  But now I've threatened them that they have to practice at least 3 times per week to even consider being in violin next year - yeah, I know.  Tiger Mom I am not - but boy howdy is it expensive to take strings in this district! 

Meiners, Meiners.  Dear sweet meiners.  He's having quite a time of it lately with testing his limits.  He  wouldn't get ready for school on time, so when eventually he was tardy, I made him sit down and write an apology to his teacher and his principal before I took him to school.  Not surprisingly, they played along and took it quite seriously.  And even more unsurprisingly, the kid hasn't been late since.  (By the way, the letter says he was late because he was playing with Sash.  Which I made him then add the part 'when I should have been getting dressed' and that he didn't listen to Mom.  Little Turkey.)

Ahh, sweet Valentine parties.  I just don't know what to think of these school parties.  Actually, I have quite a few opinions about them.  I'm just not sure I'm going to show up to the planning meetings next year.  (I say I won't, but then I always do.)  This year was tough - I planned all of Meiners' {plus both games for T AND Pooks' classes} - and I don't even stay for the party since it's my job to photograph the whole school for the PTO...  Party planning is fun, but it's also a lot of work.  And I'm not really good with the $$.  It was nice to hear Meiners' teacher say the craft was the best she'd ever seen...I'll show you that in tomorrow's Fab5! 

Thursday.  Sofa Series Concert.  $5 tickets.  Josh Wilson.  LOVE him.  The End.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

when mommy has gray hair...?

The other morning while playing, Sashi matter-of-factly told me:  "This grey-haired one is the mom.  That pretty one over there is the grandma."

I provided the perfunctory grunt as I went about making lunch.  But later?  Later when I bent down to play and realized what she'd said, I have to admit.  I was a little taken aback.  What exactly is she trying to say??

Hey - at least I've still got my driving skills.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

nine year-old genius child say what?!

The other day, I'm having a completely harmless, innocent, but meaningful conversation at my kitchen table.  I say, "What do you call those people who have so much stuff that they have to dig them out from under all of it when they die?"

From across the room a bold voice asks, "Um...Us?"


You better believe I put that kid straight to work.  (and yes, my electrolux vacuum is being held together with yellow duck tape.  Don't judge.  Oh wait.  That's the whole point of this post...)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Heart Day

I'm so proud of my Pookmeister.  In October, she was an Applebee's Star.  The restaurant chain sponsored Pook's Make A Wish trip and threw a big bash to kick off our trip.  They gave Pookie a gift card to Toys R Us and encouraged her to spend it as her heart desired.

Her heart desired to spend it all on these:

Because, as she said, of this:

And this morning she headed here:

And she learned the value of giving in the midst of receiving.  I'm pretty certain she's the coolest 9 year-old on the planet.  (Aside from her amazing twin brother.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm Friends with Ugly

Christmas 2006

I'm reading Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to SEE.  I've waited quite a while to read it, actually.  I saw it at the Christian bookstore in our area last fall in the midst of bringing home a storage unit full of unread books and useless collections o'junk.  I decided it would be best not to purchase the book but to get it from the library...cuz, you know - library fines are so much cheaper than buying the book outright...
So yesterday morning I ran over to the library after checking its availability online and found the book.  I'll be able to finish it tonite.  It's an easy read.  And it's compelling.  Not in the way A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth will be - I grabbed that one, too, since I'm a new HUGE Wicked fan.  But compelling.

I would love to adopt.  I always have had the heart to do so.  My friend recently adopted a little girl from China (I love you CherBear!).  David Platt, in his book Radical, discusses the plight and the subsequent call to believers to care for widows and orphans.  My husband read that book.  I'm not certain he shares my aspirations of adoption - yet.  I'm going to have him read this book, too. 


Mary Beth discusses how their road to adoption began.  And of course, it ultimately describes the devastating accident that took their sweet daughter Maria away from them.  But in betwixt and between all that, she discusses her faith in the midst of doubts.  And she talks about doing 'hard.'  Kind of like Shawni talks about doing hard.  Well, exactly like Shawni, actually.

And in a week when every day I receive calls from friends being forced to do 'hard,' I decided that life really can be ugly.  But I am choosing to embrace Ugly.  Because through pruning, new, healthier branches of the vine give way to better and more abundant fruit.  Because life stirs from the death of the seed, from the burnt offerings of the hillside, from the revolution of the earth to once again burst forth with Spring again.

So, around here, we'll embrace the hard.  And we'll support and lift up the friends who are walking with the ugly.  We'll join hands with him, too.  Because there is Art in walking through the ugly and emerging, strenghthened, on the other side.   And I am an Art collector.

"So God confirmed this truth yet again: I can choose to SEE His story, or I can miss it.  And I know - in the winter of our grieving and the frozen mourning of my plans that will never be and my dreams that have died - the reality is this: God's warm breath is on the move.  New life is budding...and often where I expected it the least, like right inside of me. ... Yes.  Spring is coming...."(Mary Beth Chapman in Choosing to SEE)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friday Fab 5

I admit it.  Choosing just five photos for today's link to Frizz was a challenge.  I've had 4 of my favorite people home with me all week because of the weather.  Man I love these kids!  And I absolutely love how much they love each other, as well.  We sure enjoyed our week - I'll write more on that later.  For today, enjoy these 5 favorite...

The boys' cars didn't win fastest at last weekend's Pinewood Derby, but they both won Craftsmanship in their dens.
I'm proud of all 3 of my boys!

Our blizzard didn't amount to much (the snow went north and east), but it left some pretty glitter.

I love this boy.  I grabbed this photo on the sly with a big lens.  I'm so glad I snapped it.

We gave Dad a Heartattack tonite when he came home from work.
The Baker Extraordinaire with The Birthday Boy.

It's a Sickness, Really

There is some serious baking going on over here at Chez No.6 homefront.  I'm baking things as though there were some sort of need for dozens of sweet treats and no one around to eat them (well, there are plenty of kids around, but when they eat Poptarts and Lucky Charms for breakfast and chase that with a piece of candy or a bag of Goldfish crackers for snack, who's going to let them eat peanut butter tartlets?...Who is their mother, anyway?!). 

Then along comes Pookie.  My Baker in Training.   :)  With all the snow days, we've caught up on all The Next Great Baker episodes and we're inspired!  She keeps asking me, "Do you think I'm The Next Great Baker?" in only the way that Pookie can {read: 18 times in the course of baking one 2-layer cake...}

Today we're planning to finish frosting daddy's birthday cake with vanilla bean buttercream (we're trying this one) and I'm going to try homemade bread.  With yeast and kneeding and everything.  (These kids seriously need to get back to school.  And I need to run!)  I'll keep ya posted!
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