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Archive for April, 2009

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

  Did I mention I am participating in a monthly baking and cooking challenge?  Oops, well now I am mentioning it.  Head over to the Daring Kitchen for more info and to join for access to the recipes.  We all are supposed to reveal on the same date, this one is a day late, though.  For some reason I am off a day…hazard of staying home so much.  Wonder how long I have been off and if I have post-dated any checks?

Most of the recipes I will alter to our way of eating (when possible.)  This one I did not.  I could have swapped out rapadura for the white sugar, found or made some sort of soaked/sprouted flour cookies for the base, figured out the chocolate or some other option, etc.  But when it got down to it cheesecake sounded good and why mess with such a good thing.  It knew it would not all be consumed by us, so it was our treat for the week.

This is a wonderful base recipe for a solid, creamy cheesecake.   I altered  (as we were encouraged to do) by adding cayenne to the crust and using chocolate graham cookies.   I made the cheesecake itself with cayenne and melted dark chocolate.  So very rich and yummy.  It baked up beautifully in a small water bath (pan triple wrapped in foil to prevent seeping.)  There was no crack on top, and it tasted best the day after baking.  I know this is common of cheesecakes, but who could resist cutting into it once it had cooled?

I took it to my parents house and we celebrated a milestone for Brie.  No more pacifier for almost a week now.  She was so excited to have a cake when CeeCee didn’t.  She still asks for the paci every now and then but there isn’t one to give her.  It went fairly smooth with only one time (so far) of her showing up with one from who knows where in her mouth.  She had started getting to where she was walking around with it all day and it was causing her to snore so much we were turning the monitor down so we could sleep.  What a big girl she has proved to be!  Of course, it’s a good excuse for extra cuddles during the day to help offset any insecurities the change may have caused.  Love celebrating milestones with my girls and passing cheesecake out to others, otherwise it would sit in my fridge and tempt me something awful.

Speaking of milestones, do not ask about potty training.  For some reason potty training twins is so hard.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but really, this is not fun. 

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CHAPTER 9:  DADDY VS. MURPHY’S LAW

Maybe it’s because I’m a guy.  Maybe it’s because I was forced to take so many math courses in school (2 short of a Mathematical Minor!  Woo-hoo!).  But for some reason, I tend to see life in percentages.  Especially daddyhood.  Percentages and war/battle terms.  For some reason, I also find myself naturally using war lingo when talking about my kids (“It’s us against them!”).  I did this with my wife a couple of times before she finally lost it and asked me why I talked about our children as if we were in a fight-to-the-death with them.  I hadn’t really noticed my rhetoric before then, but that’s why God linked me with her: She’s not afraid to point out my weaknesses.  My wife has come around a little bit, though, as a term we often use about our days is: Survival.  How was your day, dear?  I survived.  How’s it going dear (I call from work)?  I’m in survival mode here!!!  Yeah.  But I have toned down my war-talk some.  Now, how’d I get here?  Oh, yeah, percentages.  Below is just a minor list of some of the percentages/probabilities I have noticed over the few years of daddyhood I have had.

 

  • When you just sit down on the toilet, needing to take care of some business, and your wife is at the store, leaving all the kids at home with you, there is a 70% chance someone will call.
    • If someone does call, and you have children over 4 years of age, there is an 85% chance they’ll answer the phone.
    • If they do answer the phone, there’s a 50/50 shot they’ll end up at the door, wanting to hand it to you.
    • If you do take the phone, there is a 40% chance it’ll be a charity, 20% chance your spouse, 20% chance other family member/friend, 20% chance other.
  • When it’s bedtime, there will be an 80% chance your child will be hungry.  This increases by 5% for every additional child you have (4 kids=95% “I’m hungry.”).
    • If they do say, “I’m hungry,” there’s an equal percentage (95% in my case) you’ll want to scream, “Why weren’t you hungry an hour ago?!  Why’s it always hit at bedtime?!?”
  • If, after changing a diaper, you decide to blow on their belly (Why?  Because it’s there and it’s cute.), and you’re wearing glasses, 8 out of 10 times your glasses will be either knocked off your head or smashed into your face.
  • When you’re on the phone, approximately at the 2 minute mark in the conversation, there is a 99% chance you kids will suddenly become loud, unmanageable, have an overwhelming desire to find you no matter where you hide, and in general scream for no reason.
  • 7 out of 10 times, as soon as you sit on the toilet, the kids suddenly decided to fight, hit, and scream.  Okay, make it 8 out of 10.
  • 50% of the time, when you get home from work, the kids will be acting crazy and your spouse will say, “Gee dear, they were just fine until you got home.”
  • When you leave the house and forget a diaper bag, there’s at least a 70% chance someone will unload in their pants.
  • Just because your older 2 kids never pooped in the tub, does not mean there’s “no chance” your younger 2 won’t.  (A triple, maybe quadruple negative in that sentence…I apologize.  I’m so disappointed.)
    • If they do do a doo-doo in the tub, there’s a 70% chance it’ll scare them out of their wit
  • 6 out of 10 times, as soon as you tell them good night, and turn to leave their room, someone will be thirsty. 
  • When I’m home alone with the kids, it is a mathematical certainty that whatever I cook will take 2-3 times longer than my wife takes to cook it.
  • When you (I) lie down on the floor, 100% of the time your kids will want to climb on top of you.  Unfortunately, 75% of the time they’ll climb, knee, head-butt, and/or stand on your (my) groin.
  • No matter the age, they WILL splash water outside the tub while taking a bath.
  • Okay, and I can’t let the dog get away:  When you’re watching a movie or TV show and there’s only 5 minutes left, there is a 75% chance the dog will need to go out

 

Well that’s my list.  Adjust the percentages accordingly to match your kids.  Feel free to add any that I missed. 

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In light of the coming weekend forcast full of 80 degree temps and sun shinning,  I am spending the day in the kitchen.  The only housework I want to do tomorrow is the kind that hangs laundry on the line or plants flowers in the window boxes (Pansies as we have been known to get more snow.)  If it is going to be that nice in April I am going to enjoy it, darn it!

On my list today is:

  • yogurt
  • ricotta (homemade since we can’t buy any fresh here…it’s not hard)
  • sausage
  • roasting a chicken
  • a special dessert (for Mr “I’m not so into this” Trying Traditional)
  • Vietnamese meat balls
  • hardboiled eggs

This is on top of the usual homeschool, dishes (and if I accomplish all on my list, we will have lots of dishes, picking up,meals, etc.

This reminds me.  Why is it that the twins are like a tornado?  If the older two and I go around picking up, they are in the opposite rooms making a mess.   There are only 8 rooms in our entire house and while we are picking up three rooms, they are messing up at minimum two of them.  And I am not a neat freak.  I would love to have a nice, neat home, devoid of stuff, clutter, and well, more stuff.  I would love to have a decor and even more so an actual living (but that is another battle.)  What I am talking about is the general mess of four children, a three-legged dog, and two adults.  From where I sit I could reach laundry (all clean and on it’s way to being put away), dishes, four purses, pencils, erasers, cloth napkins, random socks, sippy cups, two squeaky toys, a towel, a lock for at the YMCA, books, one pen and a ruler.  This is all around my kitchen table.  Sigh.  So, when naptime hits I try to really work on the house and schooling when I feel like collapsing for an hour.

Back to my kitchen list:

So far I’ve finishe the hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and ricotta…well, almost.  The ricotta is straining and the yogurt is heating.  I started at about 10 this morning on both.  Mind you there was lunch, potty-training, and all sorts of interruptions mixed in.  The yogurt is in the dehydrator (to keep it warm) until 7 tonight.   Next is the chicken (can it really be after 2 already) followed by the sausage and meatballs.  I’m making my own sausage to avoid nitrates and processed sugars, besides it isn’t hard.  The special dessert may or may not get done today, we will have to see. 

Here is how to make raw milk yogurt and ricotta in case you are interested:

Raw Milk Yogurt

The yogurt is pretty much like the recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

  • 4 cups of raw milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (with active cultures)

That is it, only two ingredients, if only all recipes could be this way!

In a double boiler (or a heat safe bowl set over a pot of boiling water for a home-made double boiler.)  Heat milk to 110 degrees.  You want to heat it slowly.  Have a 1 quart jar ready to let your yogurt culture in with a lid that fits (always an issue around here.)  Once milk gets to 110, remove from boiling water and remove/discard/drink 2 Tbsps of hot milk, stir in a heaping tablespoon of your yogurt into the remaining milk.  Pour this into your prepared jar along with two more heaping Tbps of yogurt.  Stir really well and screw lid on tight.  Place in your dehydrator for 8 hours at around 90 degrees.  This is to maintain a warm temperature ideal for culturing all those beneficial bacteria.  Ive heard of people using warm towels and a cooler, a crock-pot, and all sorts of things.  I’ve blessed to have my handy dehydrator to do the work for me on this one.

Whole Milk Ricotta

Not necessarily a true ricotta (traditional ricotta is made from the leftover whey when making other cheeses), this is made from whole milk.   It works quite well for me, though, seeing as I would have at minimum an hour drive there and back to pick up the real deal.  The ricotta was made pretty much like this, though I used 11 cups of raw, un-skimmed Jersey milk, 1 cup of cream, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and healthy 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar.  I would type it all out, but really, why re-invent the wheel when there is so much that needs done. 

So, now that it has taken me 2 hours to write this, my ricotta is drained and very tasty thank you very much.  Time to go get that bird roasting and to season some sausage, suppose I could put it in the Kitchen Aid?

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I know I’ve mentioned before that my parent’s  own a restaurant.  In my Easter photos, the last picture was taken out front at the entry.  It is an old historic building at the center of our little town.  Before it was their restaurant it was a drug store, a department store before that with apartments above, and into it’s beginnings it housed doctor offices, a dry goods store, and various other odds and ends. 

 It has an office (where I spent many hours every week as a child, a banquet room, dining room, kitchen, store room, candy store, two rentals, a wild basement, and an even crazier upper levels.  Recently my mom and I have done most of our sewing in the office of the candy store. 

It has been host to many family events.  Baby showers, wedding showers, graduation parties, after-proms….my wedding reception.  We got married in the morning for a couple reasons; less formal, avoiding the July heat in an un-airconditioned old church, and the restaurant could open at four instead of three that day of the reception.  I threw a surprise (still not sure how I pulled it off) 30th Anniversary party for my parents there (it was lovely, I even hung my mom’s wedding dress on a dress-form at the entrance…very fun.)   Nearly every birthday is celebrated in the banquet room.  

After over 30 years in the business, my parents are selling their restaurant.  I am so glad, but a tad bit sad.  Glad because I know they are having a hard time keeping up with it all.  The cost of running a small business keeps going up with their age.  Sad because it was very much a part of my childhood and upbringing (and now my children’s as well.) 

Running your own business is hard work.  The physical labor involved in a restaurant is bigger than you might think.  My parents just can not do it anymore. 

They have been at their current location since 1985 and before that they were across the street from where they are now.  I really hope that whoever buys it realizes the heart and soul that has been poured into the place.  The art on the wall is family pieces, quilts made by my aunt, and pictures of my kids.  The recipes have been handed down through generations of both my parent’s families. 

Many have asked why Forest and I aren’t taking it over.  How do I tell them that I grew up in it, I know what kind of family life it allows and want better for my kids.?  It isn’t that we didn’t have a family life, it just was different than what we do here.  My parents worked hard at something they had a passion for and did what they could with what time they had.   My sisters and I all grew up knowing the value of hard work and have excellent people-skills as well as work ethic.  However,  I know that the problem with taking over a small business is time…something we do not have.  In order to turn a decent profit, you can not manage from the sidelines.  You have to be a part of the labor every day.  Your busiest hours are during family meals.  Holidays are the biggest days to be open sales-wise.  your days off are slated for ordering, repairs, housework/laundry, and so on.  Your days working might start at 8AM and go until 9PM.  I fear that if I were to take over the restaurant, it would take over me.  I am just not willing to give that much of me to another source besides my family and home. 

Though the income would be nice, here are the four main reasons I just can not do that:

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Easter in photos

I’ve been working on this post for a couple days and the photos are as far as I’ve gotten.  I would write along with it, but it is so lovely outside that I just don’t have time to write. Pots need planted, wash needs hung, gardens need cleared out, and I need to get a couple more photos for two

new dresses in the shop by morning!

Our Easter in Photos, 2009

Jane in her Nancy Drew dress, without the jacket it makes her look 12...someone help me!

Jane in her Nancy Drew dress, without the jacket it makes her look 12...someone help me!

Liz sports a dress I messed up and turned into a skirt.  She wears everything low, it isnt really that long on her.  Still loving that little jacket and planning on making a sundress for under it.

Liz sports a dress I messed up and turned into a skirt. She wears everything low, it isn't really that long on her. Still loving that little jacket and planning on making a sundress for under it.

The twins ended up in their Minnie Mouse dresses.  I am dying to make another one and add a cute apron on it with black ric-rac around the edges...in my free time, you know!

The twins ended up in their Minnie Mouse dresses. I am dying to make another one and add a cute apron on it with black ric-rac around the edges...in my free time, you know!

My parents did an egg hunt for them in a small park around from their restaurant.  They are seated with the girls while Forests mom and my dads mom are in the background.

My parents did an egg hunt for them in a small park around from their restaurant. They are seated with the girls while Forest's mom and my dad's mom are in the background.

The girls in front of my parents restaurant Easter Sunday.

The girls in front of my parent's restaurant Easter Sunday.

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rain, again

Don’t get me wrong, I know spring means rain.  I actually am pretty fond of a good thunderstorm.  I have two new dresses to list in the shop, though, and no good light to take pics in.  The next project is a shirt for older girls similar to the halter dress.  Who knows, perhaps I will have one done by tomorrow to add to the stack.  Here’s hoping chirpping birds and rays of sunlight wake me in the morning!

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Some days are just hard, but goodness do I love these girls!

They are all in a handmade attire.  I made the twins and mom the older girls’ outfits.

Speaking of handmade attire.  I am already out of one colorway for the knot dress.  Learn more at the iLean tab above!

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