Friday, November 9, 2012

Menu For The Coming Week

Thought I would get back to blogging with our menu for the coming week.  This will at least help me to be accountable to getting that planned.  Breakfast is almost always Get Your Own; so I just make sure that most of the items are available and then everyone can choose.  Sometimes on Saturdays I will change it up and make them pancakes or French Toast or something that takes some time.  During the week it is just easier to do this.  It also helps that my kids are big enough to get their own.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I get my own and Wee One's as well. Those days I check with A2 to see if he wants what I am fixing.  My sweet husband, gets his breakfast during the week because he blesses me by letting me sleep in longer then he needs too.

Enjoy seeing how we roll here for eating.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!


PS. I noticed some typos as I blew up the menu so please just pretend they aren't there.  Thank-you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Some like it hot!

There has been a couple requests lately for the actually salsa recipe that I use.  So I thought I would make my first post back to blogging in a while be the recipe for that salsa that I use.  My friends who use Tapestry of Grace and participate in the Secret Sister program at Christmas have had it sent to them, when I have them for my secret sister.  Rumor has it that last year's secret sister has rationed out hers to even now a couple tablespoons left in the jar in the refrigerator.  So that she and others can enjoy it throughout the year, here is the recipe.

I got this recipe from The National Center For Home Food Preservation.


Preparing and Canning Salsa

Chile Salsa II
  • 10 cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cups seeded, chopped chili peppers*
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup vinegar (5 percent)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
*A mixture of mild and hot peppers is recommended.
Read more about ingredients. Yield: 6 to 8 pints
Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.
Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.
Preparing Peppers: The peppers do not need to be peeled, but many may prefer to peel certain types. The skin of long green chiles may be tough and can be removed by heating the peppers. Usually when peppers are finely chopped, they do not need to be peeled. If you choose to peel chiles, slit each pepper along the side to allow steam to escape. Peel using one of these two methods:
  • Oven or broiler method to blister skins - Place chiles in a hot oven (400°F) or broiler for 6 to 8 minutes until skins blister.

  • Range-top method to blister skins - Cover hot burner (either gas or electric) with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

  • To peel, after blistering skins, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. (This will make peeling the peppers easier.) Cool several minutes; slip off skins. Discard seeds and chop.
Hot Pack: Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into clean, hot pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner according to the recommendations in Table 1.
Table 1. Recommended process time for Chile Salsa II in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints 15 min 20 25
The only changes you can safely make in this salsa recipe are to substitute bottled lemon juice for the vinegar and to change the amount of pepper and salt. Do not alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe.
Nutrition Information (Estimated values using Nutritionist Pro™ software)
Per 2 Tbsp: Calories 10, Total Fat 0 g, Sodium 75 mg, Fiber 0 g, Protein 0 g. 
Daily Values: Vitamin A 5%, Vitamin C 27%, Calcium 0%, Iron 1%.
Percent Daily Values based on Dietary Reference Intakes.

Adapted with permission from Salsa Recipes for Canning, PNW0395, by Val Hillers and Richard Dougherty, Washington State University. Pullman, WA: Pacific Northwest Extension Publications, 2000 revision. (National Center for Home Food Preservation, August 2004)

The revisions that I make to it are the following:  I use 5 cup of sweet bell peppers(any color) to 1 cup of jalapeno peppers.  

I also peel and chop the tomatoes-by hand, removing the seeds.  Cut the Roma in half length-wise and just run your thumb through the tomato to remove the seeds.  Then cut each half in half and into 3-4 pieces.  You want them fairly large as they break down some during the cookdown process.  Leave them overnight in the strainer so that the juice runs off of it.  You can see about the size of things in the pictures below.

For the onions and peppers I place them in the food processor and pulse it to the size we like.  Then we put it into a gallon ziploc bag overnight and poke holes in the bottom of the bag, squeezing out the juice before putting all of the ingredients into the large stockpot and adding the vinegar and salt and pepper.

Hope you enjoy this!  Have a great week!


For the onions and peppers I place them into a gallon ziploc bag overnight and poke holes in the bottom of the bag, squeezing out the juice before putting all of the ingredients into the large stockpot and adding the vinegar and salt and pepper.

Cooking down

All done and ready to rest on the table for 24 hours.  If they don't seal you can try to redo, or just open and eat it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My friend's blog

I have this really sweet friend-across the pond, as she would say.  She actually does a better job of regular posting then I've been lately.  Today, however, I'm posting here about her because she is having a give-away for this very interesting looking book and I get an extra entry for mentioning it here.  I know, it is shameful that I'm only posting right now to get a shot at this.  The schedule looks good this weekend for getting some updates in.  I've found my office, graduated A1, and am in a short down-time before the garden goes crazy(we've been watering).  I do need to work on planning A2's schedule for his junior year, but think and hope I'll be able to update and post here this weekend.  So in the meantime, head over to and see what she is up to.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Year, New Goals, New Lessons

It is truly amazing that you haven't given up on me and my ramblings yet.  Life has been throwing me many balls, some straight up, some curves, but at times too many to juggle on my own.  The thing that God has been pressing upon my stubborn, hard-headed self it that He is the one in control, not me.  I can plan and think that is how it is all going to work out for the day, week, or year and put the balls into play.  However, He has the final say in what really happens.  The changes and "interruptions" that really threw me for a loop when we first brought A1 and A2 home don't seem to throw me quite so much anymore.  The exception to that is the day or week that I forget that I'm not in control.  So after realizing that I've been learning just as much as my children since we've brought them home, just not the same lessons in history, English and math, as well as having the last two to three books studied for Sunday School be on contentment and God being in control with a few bricks falling on my head and 2x4's knocking me down; I might have finally learned this lesson.

In January, while Andy and A1 were in Puerto Rico working the winter nursery, I was able to get to my office. It had been buried for over a year with things that I couldn't seem to get to, things I planned daily to get to but didn't.  There actually was one basket that had a bunch of books that I needed to get listed to sell that had really sat there for a whole year.  The bills were being paid on time, the papers graded almost on time, just the "extra" office work was being put on the back burner.  I can now see the floor, run the little heater on my feet and have a "plan"-I use this word fairly loosely-in place for staying on top of things.

It has taken a long, long while for me to get there, but I think I've reached the bottom-no pun intended and I can only turn up. After talking this over with God, I felt compelled to let my family know that I needed them and their help. So Sunday's are blocked off.  No more working for me; I'll still cook and help with dishes, but nothing major.  I get to do fun things like relax, read for fun, take a nap, take a walk, watch a movie, play a game, and blog.  We'll see how it goes after the big admission that I can't do it all-if I get the help.  To their credit, usually if I asked for something to be done it will get done.  I just want them to look around now and see it for themselves so I don't have to continue to keep track of it in my head along with house budgets, Andy's business accounts, my Zija business accounts, things for school to do/check/prep for, who needs to be where/when, what papers need to get turned into college at what time, what we are having for breakfast/lunch/supper, where their things are at that they can't find.  I know this has to sound familiar-the long list running in your head. This time I've not put a specific time of day on jobs that I'm responsible for, except for teaching classes with the kids, I've just made a check list of what I need to accomplish for the day and what I want to accomplish for the day and what I hope to accomplish for the day to keep our house running smoothly.  When I let my family know that I needed their help, I had let them know where this list would be so they could see what I might need help with if they would happen to get done early with school or home early from work, and wonder why I don't have time in the evenings to sit with them and watch movies on Netflix or play another game of Catan.   

I'm getting excited for the new things that are coming down my path as I transition this year.  A1 graduates in June and will leave for college in the fall.  A2 is driving with his permit and in two years-that will go too fast-be graduating and leaving for college as well.  Wee One-my girlfriend's 1 year old daughter, that I watch 3 days a week, will fill part of that transition.  My new business with Zija, as a distributor, is another part of moving down this path.  My daily reminder that I'm not in control happens before I even put my feet to the floor is "Lord, you know what I have scheduled for the day, but I know that may not match up with your plans.  Help me remember that you are in control and that you have my best interest at heart."  Usually, this keeps the stress levels down as I try to only pick up and juggle the balls that He gives me for the day.  There are still some curves, but when I remember to start my day with just that little "Good Morning!" my glove is on and I can catch it and make the play; with His help, guidance and with those He has placed around me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Shot time" for allergies

It has been a slow couple of days around here, at least for A2 and I. We were scheduled to receive our allergy shots, LDA, yesterday. Something we both look forward to and for three days, A2 dreads. He doesn't always dread it, but this time was one of those times. For 24 hours before and 24 hours after getting this special allergy shot, we have to follow a very restricted diet.

A2 is allergic to about half of the foods on the list and refuses to eat the others. Think sweet potato with just sea salt, fish with just sea salt, celery chunks, lamb, ostrich. He ate them when he was little, but just is tired of it and has lost the taste for them. Neither he nor his sister will even eat sweet potato with brown sugar and marshmallows when they aren't on shot time. There was a company that made special tapioca bagels that he could eat during this time. I tried calling to order and the number was no longer any good. Looking up things on the internet yielded the same discontinued number. So the 14 year old growing boy sustained himself with glycerin water, one bite of buffalo burger(which he lost as a viable option last year by reacting to it during shots) and a couple of celery chunks. His 24 hours after is up in about 15 minutes and in his "starving" state this morning when he got out of bed, he figured out when he needed to start his rice so he could have some food. He didn't ask me to cook it for him, either, but started it all on his own. Poor baby, but in his defense, he is also going through a growth spurt and has been eating everything in the house, except the kitchen cabinets. He is also looking forward to some applesauce this afternoon as well.

I, on the other-hand, still have to wait until tomorrow to wait for my foray into regular non-allergic foods. Yes, believe it or not, I have a rice allergy and apple allergy. This makes for an interesting 3 weeks to come as my grains do not match his grains. It also makes me so very thankful for the availability of these allergy shots which allow us to eat what we want, go where we want and do things we want and need to, while they are working, without having any reactions. As a mom of 2 with allergies and allergies herself, cooking a rotation diet for 3 with no overlap in the rotations, would mean 12 different meals each day. This has been a life saver for me and for the kids too.

So while, I rest for 3 days, eating sweet potato, white potato(A2's very favorite thing in the world to eat-but allergic to), buffalo burgers, celery chunks and some cooked carrots; read books and watch netflix with A2. I will be thankful that at this time God has allowed us to be able to receive these shots that help us all so very much. He has also allowed us to be an encouragement to others just starting out on this path with their allergies. Being able to do that makes it all worth it.

A sister and brother were waiting yesterday as they had just received their first shot and they were in conversation with another young man who was being tested for allergies. They were all wondering about how well they worked and what was in store for them. We were able to let them know that the restrictions and prep they are going through are worth it. That in time getting ready for "shot time" will become routine and the diet will be old hat. The best part will be that they will feel better longer and longer between shots. Right now they have to start out at 8 weeks apart, A2 and I are at 9 months, A1 is shooting for 13-14 months this time around.

His time is up! Even now I hear humming coming from the couch next to me as the rice he cooked is being inhaled. Life moves on and he really didn't starve in the true sense, but for a growing boy, I'm know it sure felt like it. I have all kinds of fun things for him to eat the next 3 weeks. I hope I have enough as he is growing, again. I think I'll go make a potato, probably a sweet one. I just don't think it is very nice to the kids to eat their favorite things in front of them when they can't have it. The rest of the family isn't starving or deprived either. Typically, whoever isn't on "shot time" gets to go out with Andy for supper one night. Enjoy your meals for the next few weeks. We will be, just different ones than normal.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Wishes and Apologies

I again am going to have to ask for forgiveness for my inconsistent postings. I seem to go in spurts and fits of writing and really just need to put it physically on the schedule so that it will happen. I find if it isn't on there then I seem to forget that it needs to be done, unless it is in my face daily like the laundry or dishes that need washed.

I've been getting more consistent at a few things in my life: working out daily and getting my health back on track. My friends are a wonderful accountability group to help with this and an encouragement. A little bit at a time and eventually I might get there. Probably not until I get home to heaven, but I can continue to strive for it.

Supper plans are calling. Nothing big tonight, in fact, not healthy at all, unless you count the fact that the hot dogs don't have any nitrates in them. On occasion, I do digress. It usually happens when I haven't planned ahead or spent the day in the office getting caught up on regular paperwork, filing, school grading and posting of the grades and computer inbox cleaning out.

Tonight is usually homemade pizza night and movie night. However, since it is Good Friday and we have church service that should be a wonderful time this evening, the pizza and movie are both probably going to be postponed to tomorrow night. The movie still has a shot at making the screen tonight. That would depend on how much we all talk to our friends after the service tonight.

Enjoy your Easter Celebration this weekend, whether you are with extended family or just your immediate family. I am so very thankful for the sacrifice that my Heavenly Father made of His Son for my failings and sin. So humbled that Jesus would take that harsh punishment for me. I feel so loved when I think of this and full of hope and joy as I think of the day when I'll finally be able to thank them in person.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vanilla from Scratch

Apparently I've stumbled on something that is quite popular; making your own vanilla. I had just commented to Andy the other day about making our own vanilla since we go through it so fast between making ice cream from scratch every Family Movie Night and the hot carob drink I make almost daily instead of coffee. He, of course, was all for it and said to look into it. So I did what any modern day person does I went to the library and looked up vanilla in the card catalog. What??? Ummm, no, not really. Our library doesn't even have a card catalog. Do you even know or remember what a card catalog is? Anyway, I got on the internet and googled, how to make vanilla or something along that line. I found tons of websites with lots of information. Basically, it is vanilla beans and vodka put in a jar and letting it sit, easy peasy. So I ordered my beans from my normal spice company and waited for them to come. After they arrived, other things interfered with getting it done. Things like: salsa, school, green beans, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and school. I started to work on it last week while the kids were a science labs, but realized that I needed to get some things yet, namely the vodka and some gallon or half-gallon glass jars. Andy is on the road harvesting and the kids had my RAV so I waited.

Wednesday of this week for youth group, A1 got to take the big red truck, instead of my RAV, because I also needed some groceries and other things. We had been too busy with things for school that I needed to be home for in order for me to even run out. I'm sure you all understand that. The cupboards were looking like Old Mother Hubbard's. That doesn't work well at all with two teenagers in the house, one of which is a growing 13 year-old boy. So my Mom Time night was turned into errand night. I purchased 1/2 gallon ball canning jars and 1 bottle of vodka. The vodka I purchased is made from rye and is a Polish Vodka, called Sobieski. I hopped over to Wikipedia looking up vodka so I could give you a few facts. I know it is not the truest source of information, however, my Encarta is on the other computer in the office and I'm just too tired to go get it. I have to put something in here that is school like. Anyway, Wikipedia states:

Vodka may be distilled from any starch/sugar-rich plant matter; most vodka today is produced from grains such as sorghum, corn, rye or wheat. Among grain vodkas, rye and wheat vodkas are generally considered superior. Some vodka is made from potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice, sugar beets and sometimes even byproducts of oil refining or wood pulp processing. In some Central European countries like Poland some vodka is produced by just fermenting a solution of crystal sugar and yeast. In the European Union there are talks about the standardization of vodka, and the Vodka Belt countries insist that only spirits produced from grains, potato and sugar beet molasses be allowed to be branded as "vodka", following the traditional methods of production.[20][21]

Since we have a potato and gluten allergy that will keep one of us from eating this during shots, it didn't really matter which type I purchased. I will just have to remember that during the restricted time after allergy shots that not everyone can have vanilla in items. I never realized before that we probably shouldn't have been using it. Even I am still learning something new everyday.

Okay, the beans were opened and counted, much to my disappointment, there wasn't quite enough beans in my package according to 3 different sites that I looked at. So I got online and looked again. This, is a God thing. I was checking through my email that afternoon when my feed came through for Heavenly Homemakers and she had brought up making vanilla. Apparently, I just can't get away from it. Since this is a blog I like to read I thought to look up where she gets her beans from. So I followed her link and then did another search, trying to figure out if I really needed organic beans. I try to avoid pesticides in things as much as possible. My search led me here: Amadeus Vanilla Beans. This site is great!! It is loaded with information about the different types of beans and what they are like. I had also checked to see pesticide usage in vanilla growing. A lot depended on if it was wild or plantation farmed. My vote, go organic. The prices at Amadeus Vanilla Beans were awesome, so I ordered 2 pounds of the organic vanilla beans. We are going to have vanilla coming out of our ears. Possible gifts for Christmas to be given, however, it technically won't be at its best flavor in time to use it at Christmas.

So how am I making mine you wonder after that lengthy explanation. Hang on because here we go.

Before you begin any cooking project we must first discuss this, the safety of washing our hands with soap and water. Be sure to use both and scrub for the whole song of "ABC.." or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." (This is to be thought of in the tone and manner of Norm Abram of New Yankee workshop who begins every episode with first we must discuss safety, and no more important rule then these, the safety glasses) Can you tell I'm married to a woodworking guy? Guess what? I now get to listen to it even when he is on the road for work since A2 watches the show regularly. Okay, back to work.

First you will need to gather the ingredients:

1/2 gallon or 1 gallon jars that seal, if you can find amber colored it is suppose to be better for your vanilla. I just have mine put in the back of the pantry cabinet in the dark.

1.75 liters of 35-40% proof vodka- your choice of type and expense.

40 vanilla beans/per 1.75 liters of vodka(this is a half-gallon size jar)

Make sure that your jar and lids are cleaned with soapy water and rinsed well. Now comes the smelly part. Yes, smelly. While I love, love, love, did I say love, the smell of vanilla after the first initial whiff it doesn't smell so good close up. You are going to use sharp scissors to slice open each bean from one end to the other, leaving about 1/4" to 1/2" not sliced. Place the sliced beans into the jar, nothing fancy, just put them in.

After you are done slicing, do not wash your hands off because you will have lots of tiny beans on your fingers and your scissors.

Open the vodka and pour it into the jar over your fingers, rubbing them under the vodka to rinse the beans into the jar. That part is easy, the scissors are trickier. You need an extra hand, or you can just wipe the scissors of with your fingers and rinse under the vodka again.

Put the lid on the jar after all the vodka is in and place in a dark cabinet. One of the places that I was at said that you could use the vanilla as early as 4 weeks, but that it would continue to age and get better as it sits. This particular site makes theirs a little different. Fell free to go check it out. Other places side to not use it for 6 months. The other personal decision to make is to filter or not to filter. I think I'll probably take the bean pods out at 6 months, but not coffee filter out the beans themselves. The above link also suggests shaking it daily the first week and routinely after that. Guess I need to go shake my jar tonight.

I think, we'll wait at least 8 weeks for this first batch of a half gallon. The gallons that I make when the new beans come in we'll wait for 6 months on. I hate to keep buying vanilla when we have some sitting here. Now I'll know to always keep some "cooking" in the cabinet.

I still have to research jars for making gift, but I really like that idea. Google is your friend. I've peeked, but not really compared a lot yet. I thought I'd let you all choose what you want.

Have a great time making yours! I'll let you know how mine tastes in a few weeks/months. I may try not shaking some of the next batch to see what the difference is in taste. A science experiment in the making, I can see it now.