Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Dip (easy and delicious!!!)

We make this dip every New Years- it is so easy and tastes absolutely yummy.

New Year's Dip

Mix together equal amounts of: chopped sweet onions, mayonnaise, and grated swiss cheese. Spoon into a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly. Serve with plain bagel chips.
That's it.
I've had other people tell me they use different kinds of cheese- cheddar, mozzarella and it works just as well. For us swiss is our fav.

Hope you enjoy....and Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Easy to Take Elderberry

I found this at Whole Foods a few months ago. I love having these on hand for times when we are away from home or I'm out of my homemade syrup. And, if you're curious they taste really good.
They are much cheaper here than at Whole Foods. I hope everyone is healthy and enjoying the season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm impressed....

Have you tried this? For those of you who might not have it is ....instant coffee? Starbucks is now offering instant coffee? Aren't these the coffee snobs, the brew masters, the perfect cup of coffee specialists? Instant coffee just doesn't seem to fit.
But, I'm impressed. I was very skeptical and had visions of those nasty little jars of Maxwell House instant that people who don't drink coffee keep on hand for those of us that do.
Weighing in at $.83/cup this stuff is really good. Is it cheaper than brewing a pot at home?Definitely not, but if your on the run it's much cheaper than the drivethrough coffee. And, as my husband so perfectly pointed out, you know what you're getting. Starbucks quality with Starbucks taste instead of playing russian roulette at the drive through.
So...... what a wonderful Christmas idea for the coffee lover (hint, hint).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Almond Spread

Wish you could come to my house and I'd serve you some of this delicious dip. The name doesn't do the taste justice. It is a very versatile, creamy, tasty spread. I like to use this in place of mayonnaise.

Almond Spread- (compliments of From the Kitchen of Two Sisters Cookbook)
...this recipe can be used as a dip for chips, crackers, or vegetables. It can also be a spread for sandwiches or roll-ups.

3/4 cup whole, raw almonds
3/4 cup water
1- 1 1/4 cups olive oil
1 large clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a high speed blender combine the above ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
Keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Craft of the Week

Trimming a Tee:
Leftover snippets of ribbon and rickrack can make that T-shirt yours, and yours alone. Follow the curve of a neckline, the perimeter of a pocket, or the edge of a sleeve with a straight stitch, using thread that matches the trim. Easier still, use iron-on ribbon. When measuring the ribbon, add about 1/4 inch extra at each end so that raw edges can be turned in or overlapped when they're sewed.

This information and picture was taken from

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Craft of the Week

~Beach Towel Bonus~

Keep track of beach essentials -- sunscreen, novels, flip-flops -- by sinking them in a corner pocket. To make four pockets, take a sheet or a lightweight blanket and two 14-inch squares of linen or cotton. Cut each square into two triangles. Fold all edges over 1/2 inch, and press. Fold long edge of each triangle over another 1/2 inch, and sew across to hem. Pin the triangles to the corners of the blanket. Sew the short sides of the triangles to the blanket's corners, and start packing.

~this information was taken from

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Songs that touch the heart

A friend of mine posted this video on her blog a few days ago. I enjoyed it so much I thought I would share it with all of you.

Jon Schmidt is an amazing pianist and has many other songs you can listen to on his website.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I have!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Smoothies Anyone

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Smoothies- the options are endless!!
Right after I snapped this picture I thought of all the wonderful ingredients I left out. What about yogurt, kefir, etc.? Anyway, here are a few possible ingredients for your next smoothie break- frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, frozen mango, frozen pineapple, dates, ground flax seed, carob powder, spinach (promise you'll never know its in there:)) almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, ... just to name a few. Try to think of ways you can sneak really nutritious ingredients in without anyone being able to tell.

Our smoothies always begin with frozen bananas. We literally could buy a whole box of bananas just to freeze. After that it all depends on what your in the mood for. Here are some of our favorites:

Blueberry Delight
frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, spoonful of: ground flax seeds, coconut oil, and almond butter

Orange Delight
frozen bananas, naval oranges (peeled), 1/2 cup or so of yogurt. Blend really well to break up the orange pulp.

Carob Delight (tastes just like the chocolate ice cream from Wendy's)
frozen bananas, heaping spoonful of carob powder, maple syrup, ground flax seed, almond butter

Strawberry Delight
frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, frozen mango, 3-4 large spinach leaves, coconut oil.

What about you? What are some of your favorite combinations?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Craft of the Week

I thought I would start posting a weekly craft on our blog. I can post a knitting, crochet, or sewing craft. Please leave a comment and let me know which one you would prefer.

I'll start with a sewing craft since that is probably the most common skill that everyone knows but any thoughts or ideas are welcome.

Leftovers are the bane of the sewing room as well as the kitchen. But the same creativity that inspired cassoulet can save odd lengths of fabric from ragbag ignominy. One idea: Use strips of cloth or lace to trim the opening of a cotton pillowcase. A monogrammed handkerchief from a flea market can be folded diagonally and machine-stitched to a pillowcase, creating a wonderful gift for someone with the right initial.

This information was taken from

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Bake Oatmeal

I discovered this wonderful recipe while reading through a nutritional book one day and decided I'd try it. Mom and I really enjoy! We haven't tried it yet on the rest of the family so it might not be that brillant after all but why not give it a try.

So here it is:

This recipe calls for oat groats. This is the grain that you flake to get the oats. I tried the recipe with just regular old fashioned oats and it was fine so either form would work. Also the second time I made this recipe I used Irish steel cut oats which are similar to oat groats but are coarsely chopped. This worked as well so really whatever form you have available would be fine to use.
The Irish steel cut oats did give the oatmeal more of a coarse nutty texture.

2 cups oat groats or regular oats (soaked overnight in water and drained)
-you can change the amount of oats to whatever quantity you use for your family
dash of water
dash of salt
approx. 1/2 tsp vanilla
approx. 2 TB maple syrup

Mix all the ingredients into a blender/food processor and blend together on high until everything is well mixed and the oats reach desired texture.

These ingredients are extra things that you could add in in whatever amounts you like.

flax seeds
coconut butter
frozen bananas
carob or cocoa powder (I haven't tried this yet :))

Top with fresh fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon or whatever toppings you prefer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

~Our Etsy Shop~

We have created an etsy shop to sell some of our items. Please check it out and let us know what you think!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I'm on to dish towels

Since the dish clothes were so much fun I decided to try these.
Can you tell what color my next project will be?

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Monday, May 4, 2009

It was going to be a blanket, but....

Has this ever happened to you? I was almost finished with this crocheted cotton blanket (about four years ago :)) and ran out of the white cotton yarn. I mean couldn't find it anywhere. So time one thing led to another and like so many other things it was tucked away in a box to be finished some day.
Fast forward to last week as we were hosting a calligraphy class for several girls in the neighborhood and a dear talented friend was knitting away as we visited on my front porch. What a lovely dish cloth she was knitting!! I fell in love with the idea, asked her for the pattern, and promptly went in search of white cotton yarn and my long lost knitting needles. Up in the dreaded closet of unfinished projects I ran across the half completed cotton blanket- perfect.
Here's the start of a very fun, very easy knitted dish cloth. This is a wonderful pattern not only is it easy (great project for beginning knitters), but look at the lovely border knitted right into it.

O.K. - so I went a little crazy and had a ball doing it. I found dozens and dozens of patterns on line and now my half finished blanket is almost completely dish clothes. You know you can't have too many :). By the way if you have never tried these cotton dish clothes they are the best!!!

P.S. Don't get bogged down in looking at the patterns - there are literally hundreds, but get out there and make one. It's fast, easy, and you'll love it.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Homemade (sort of ) Disinfectant Spray

I've been searching for a recipe for a good effective disinfectant spray (without bleach if possible) and here's what I ran across.

Wow- how easy and I love that both vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are so cheap. I now have under my kitchen sink a spray bottle of each.

"It doesn't matter which you use first - you can spray with the vinegar then
the hydrogen peroxide, or with the hydrogen peroxide followed by the vinegar.
You won't get any lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither
is toxic to you if a small amount remains on the produce. As a bonus: The paired
sprays work exceptionally well in sanitizing counters and other food preparation
surfaces -- including wood cutting boards. In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all
Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and
surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination more effective
at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any
commercially available kitchen cleaner. "

Monday, April 20, 2009

"If I had a Bed and Breakfast I'd serve these" which Allison replied, "mom, you do!"

Well sort of, I'd rather think of it as a home that serves at least three meals and many snacks:).

By the way, if you have never tried spelt flour before this is a great one to try it on.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 Tablespoon yeast
4-5 cups flour (I used spelt)
Filling: 1/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Icing: 1/4 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoon milk
Heat milk and butter. Mix pumpkin, salt, honey, eggs and add to the milk and butter. Add yeast ( I use the Bosch mixer) and flour until it is well mixed. Turn out on a floured counter, knead a few times, and roll out to a large rectangle. For the filling brush the rectangle with 1/4 cup melted butter. Combine 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture on top and roll up the rectangle. Cut into 12-14 rolls and place on a cookie sheet to rise. Let rise for 20 minutes or put in the frig until the morning. Let rise and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. While baking mix together the icing ingredients and spread on the warms rolls. Enjoy!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Yellows and Greens

It's all her fault. Hop over to Pleasant View School House and you'll see our inspiration to make a scrap quilt. Her's are truly beautiful.

Here's our beginning

And here's the finished product:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Easy Yogurt Maker

We've been making yogurt lately. Not only is it delicious it is so much less expensive than the store bought kind.

It's really simple. All you need is: a heating pad, stainless steel bowl, thermometer, fresh milk, and plain yogurt (store bought or from a previous batch).

First I heat my milk to 150 degrees in a water bath to pasturize it ( my milk is raw). Next, I let it cool to 110 degrees. Then I add 2 T yogurt for every quart of milk, stir it in, cover, and let it sit for seven hours undisturbed on top of a heating pad on meduim heat. I also wrap some towels around the bowl to insulate it. - presto a wonderful batch of yogurt.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Suffering from the sniffles and elderberries exploding in the kitchen

Walking down the driveway this morning I noticed a huge puff of smoke coming from our pine trees. I thought what could that possibly be? And then it dawned on me - pollen! That was pollen - clouds of it. Everytime the wind would blow a huge puff of pollen was released into the air. No wonder we have the sniffles and been sneezing to beat the band. I think we have gone through a case of kleenex in two days :).
A couple of kids started to feel rather miserable so I headed to my box of herbs fresh from San Fransico Herb Company to search out dried elderberries. Here's my thinking - I'll make a huge batch of elderberry syrup and that'll head off whatever ills are looming.

I soaked the elderberries, simmered them- no problem until.... the blender. The instructions said to "puree the warm berries in a blender" so I dumped the whole batch in without a thought. One pulse later and warm elderberry juice was all over me and all over the kitchen- it was as if they just exploded. I hate I didn't take a picture, but I wasn't thinking so clearly as the time. Thankfully, my dear sweet daughter helped me clean up the mess and all my efforts bore a quart of elderberry syrup.
Turns out those with the yuckies were quickly mended and the rest of us have been faithfully taking our elderberry.
Anyway for the brave and daring- here's the recipe. (Actually it's not that difficult; however, I would amend the instuctions to puree in small batches the warm berries in a blender and we added more honey to taste)
Elderberry Syrup
2 cups dried elderberries
1 quart boiling water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
Place berries in an uncovered saucepan and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let soak overnight. The next day, simmer the berries for 30 minutes. Puree the warm berries in a blender, adding remaining ingredients as you blend. Pour the syrup into a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator.
From - Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville
Here's some interesting information on elderberries.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Solar Lights- Two Uses

We got a package of these fun solar lights from Walmart- 8 for about $20.00.

We leave them out during the day and at night they become our night lights. It's a fun cheap way to leave the lights off.

Monday, April 6, 2009

...of thinking and calves

...think, think, think. This seems to be the theme lately in our house- what can we do with what we have? How can we do it differently? Is there a way to do it better?

And I guess since cows and calves have been on the brain I was reminded of a wonderful poem I ran across a few years ago. Hope you enjoy.

The Golden Calf of Precedent
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves

But made a trail all bent
A crooked
trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred
years have fled,
And, I
infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left
behind his trail,
And thereby
hangs my moral tale.
The trail was
taken up next day,
By a lone dog that
passed that way.
And then a
wise bell-wether sheep,
Pursued the trail
o'er vale and steep;
drew the flock behind him too,
As good
bell-wethers always do.
from that day, o'er hill and glade.
those old woods a path was

And many men wound in
and out,
And dodged, and turned,
and bent about;
And uttered words of
righteous wrath,
Because 'twas
such a crooked path.
But still they
followed - do not laugh -
first migrations of that calf.
And through
this winding wood-way
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became
a lane,
that bent, and turned, and
turned again.
This crooked lane
became a road,
Where many a poor horse
with his load,
Toiled on
beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some
three miles in one.
thus a century and a half,
They trod the
footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village
And this, before men were aware,
city's crowded
And soon the central street was this,
Of a
And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the
of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout,
Followed the zigzag
calf about;
And o'er his crooked journey went,
The traffic of a
Hundred thousand men were led,
By one
calf near three
centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
lost one
hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent,
To well
established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I
ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind,
the calf-paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun,
To do what
other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in,
and forth and back,
And still their devious course
To keep the
path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred
Along which all
their lives they move.
But how the wise old
wood gods laugh,
Who saw the
first primeval calf!
Ah! many things
this tale might teach -
But I am not
ordained to preach.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life on the Farm

I confess I was embrassed to admit our failure at rabbit farming (folk,s it's not as easy as it seems), but after much reading, advice from dear friends, and perservance on Allison's part we are pleased to announce the birth of three baby rabbits!!!

Good job Allison, way to go!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Frozen Bread Dough Part II

In an earlier post on frozen bread dough I inadvertently left out the thawing procedure. It's really easy- we simply take the lump of dough out of the freezer and leave it on the counter until it completely thaws out and begins to rise. See- simple!

You can use it partially frozen, but we have had better luck when it is completely thawed. And, as a reminder we have not had good results baking it in a loaf pan. I have no idea why, but it works really good for rolls etc.

Hope it works for you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Welcome to My Kitchen

In the vein of cutting the power bill we have set up an outdoor kitchen of sorts. One of the things we realized really heated up our house during the summer months was the heat from the stove and oven. So...... what about cooking outdoors? (It's kinda like camping:))

We don't have a gas grill, but we do have a turkey fryer. We had bought this really interesting oven years ago (y2k preparation) and never used it.

I wondered if it would fit on top of the propane burner. And if it fit would it work? It has been two weeks now and almost all our baking- muffins, toast, bread, a layer cake, cookies, pizza, etc. has taken place in this oven- I love it.
Look inside- I can fit 4 large loaf pans easily.

When we aren't baking I simply remove the oven and cook with our pots and pans over the burner. All of our cooking, with the exception of crock pot dishes ,takes place on this burner. There are of course adjustments and finagling to get the meal ready at the same time, but all in all I think it's going to work.

I'm amazed at how hot dishes stay when pots are insulated. I fixed dinner one evening before we headed out to a meeting. I left about an inch of water in the bottom of a pot of cooked pasta noodles, put the lid on the pot, and wrapped towels around the pot. When we arrived home three hours later and unwrapped the pot the pasta was steaming.

How's my power bill doing? We are running about 1/2 of our normal usage which was about 100 kw hours/per day. Our goal is to keep it in the 50kw hours/per day range.

Hope we can keep it up in the middle of summer :0!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Well Done.....very well done my good and faithful one

These words echoed through my mind and heart yesterday as we stood with the White family in their time of grief.

The tiny casket, hopes dashed, dreams of life, glimpes of personality bursting forth, the excitement of awakening each day to see and the fullness of it all suddenly over. But not really "over". As we stood, sang, and prayed truth sounded forth. You see Willy was not here with us, but with Jesus- praising God. An eternal soul was birthed at conception. A soul from the parents of believers carrying the promise of ..." a God unto thee and thy seed after thee." Gen. 17:7.

Every minute of pregnancy, every thought, every prayer offered up was not in vain for the soul lives on. In a day and age when pregnancy and life is so devalued and disregarded... this mother did well. Yes, she did very well. She gave all she could- what a beautiful picture of "giving up your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable serving of God." Romans 12:1

Well done Robin- very well done!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Frozen Bread Dough

A reader asked me recently how many loaves my bread recipe makes. We weigh our dough so the loaves look better and cook evenly. We put 2 pounds of dough per bread pan and for my recipe that yields 4 loaves with sometimes a little dough left over.

Sometimes we make a little mini loaf from the extra dough. I like for my husband to take these to his work as little thank yous :). Also, if we don't need that many loaves or don't want to run the risk of the bread going bad we frequently freeze our dough. This dough makes terrific rolls, pizza dough, doughnuts, buns, etc. We have not had luck using the frozen dough for a loaf of bread. I don't know why, but it doesn't seem to rise and bake as well in a loaf pan. The rolls, buns, etc. rise and bake up beautifully.

Of course, you can always freeze the baked loaf.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap's a long story, but I ran out of laundry detergent after just being at Walmart- so frustrating especially because shopping is not just a hop, skip and a jump away.

Because we had made our laundry detergent several years ago I had all the ingredients on hand so it was basically easier for me to make it than go buy it.

In searching for recipes I ran across an abundance of them. I chose recipe #3 and the above picture shows the fruit of my labor. I'm figuring this will last at least one month- maybe more because we have a front loading washing machine.

P. S it smells wonderful - I used lavender and tea tree essential oils.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Have Any Deer Meat Left?

You may want to try this. It was really good!

Venison Meatballs

2 cups grated raw potatoes
1 tbsp. onion chopped
1/8 tsp. pepper
¼ cup milk
3 cups water
2 cups sour cream
1½ lbs. ground venison
1½ tsp. salt
1 egg
¼ cup butter
2-3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. dill seed
Combine potatoes, venison, onion, salt, pepper, egg, and milk. Shape into 1½-inch balls. Brown balls slowly in butter in large skillet. Add ½ cup water and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until done. Remove meatballs.Stir in flour and remaining water. Simmer until thick. Reduce heat. Stir in cream and dill. Add meatballs. Heat, but do not boil. Serves 8.
Note: May be cooked by alternate method – Brown meatballs; remove to casserole. Make gravy, add sour cream and dill. Pour gravy over meatballs and finish in oven.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Rather Unusual Birthday-

Not mine mind you,
but my wonderful husband!!!

Happy Birthday Honey
- (hope you enjoy your cow:))

To Soak Or Not To Soak

After nearly seventeen years of baking whole wheat bread I've recently learned about the health benefits of soaking the freshly ground flour before baking in order to produce a lighter more digestible loaf.

I had read several articles on the subject, but to be quite honest I didn't want to change a system that had worked for many years. Bread making had become automatic for me and more recently for my girls who have taken over 90% of all the baking. Gee, now I have to do something else to make my homemade healthy bread more healthy!
Oh well, I might as well give it a try. If you are interested Sue Gregg has some really good information on the subject of soaking flour and also has some tips for adapting her recipes.

I'm generally pleased with the quality and taste of the bread using this new method, but its going to take a little time to perfect the system. In a nutshell you soak freshly ground flour in water and some acidic agent (lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt etc.) for 12 hours. This mixture becomes the base for your bread. From this point I make bread as I normally do by adding the rest of the ingredients (you do have to add some non soaked flour), kneading the dough, rising, and baking.

The first loaves were a little bit doughy and the rise time took much longer because the dough was at room temperature. The next time I added less water and the same amount of flour. This time when I got ready to make bread I heated the remaining water (really hot) and added that in with the rest of the ingredients. The rise was much better. I also added more flour while the dough was kneading.

Several months later-

.... here I am months later and we love our soaked bread. I think we have made every boo boo in the book, but now our system is working smoothly.

Here's our old recipe: (we mix and knead our bread in the Bosch mixer)

6 cups very warm water
2 cups oats
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup honey
2 T salt
4 T yeast
12-14 cups flour or until the dough cleans the bowl

Mix, knead, rise and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes

This recipe made really great bread, but we much more pleased with the soaking method.

Here's the soaked recipe:

The night before we make bread- mix together 4 cups hot water, 1/4 cup yogurt, and 8-10 cups whole wheat flour. Cover and leave out on the counter until the next day.

The next day- add to yesterday's dough 2 2/3 cups very hot water, 1 cup honey and mix until the bowl of dough loosens up. Pour this mixture into the Bosch and add 2 T salt and 1/4 cup yeast. Add freshly ground flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Knead for 5 minutes, let rise, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Some of our many mistakes:
Challange- the dough after sitting out for 12 hours wasn't warm enough to get a good quick rise- Solution- use slightly hotter water than usual for the remaining water; use freshly ground flour (it's warm) and let the bread rise in a warmer oven.

Challenge- the soaking dough becomes a hard clumpy mass
Solution- add the hot water to the bowl and let it soften the mass; stir and break up the dough with a mixing spoon until it becomes stirable then pour it into the Bosch

Challenge- help the mixer is slinging wet dough all over my kitchen
Solution- soak your dough in a glass bowl and add the water, honey etc. to the bowl to soften the dough before you pour it in the mixer and turn it on. If you try to soften the dough with the dough hook on it will slosh down the outside of the bowl all over the counter making a terrible mess- (can you tell I'm experienced :))

Challenge- I'm exhausted- you mean I have to do one more thing before I go to bed.
Solution- make it part of your dinner preparation routine. Don't wait until you get ready for bed do it during the day or as part of your dinner preparation- you just won't finish it until the next day.

Challenge- Oh no I forgot about my soaking dough and it's been over 24 hours.
Solution- go ahead and make bread with it anyway. We have let ours soak for as long as 48 hours and it is even better. It has a wonderful sour dough flavor.

Good luck- let me know how yours turns out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet Your Breaker Box

For those of you who tuned in earlier we are into seeing how low we can get our power bill.

One the of the steps I mentioned was identifying those power hogs- heating and a/c systems, hot water heaters, clothes dryer, etc. While turning off lights is important we don't want to "strain at a gnat and swallow a fly". Another important step is becoming familiar with your breaker box- I hope yours is in as convenient location as ours is. If not, I'll have a suggestion for that in a minute so don't tune out :).

If your box is not labeled and major breakers identified now would be a great time to do that. Stand beside your box with a roll of masking tape and marker. Flip each breaker off and have children stationed throughout the house as you turn them on again letting you know what breakers control which switches. As you identify the switches they control label them. This may take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run. An electrician built our house and thankfully ours was marked very well, but in the ten years we have lived here we have rearranged and renamed rooms so it's always good to update your information. One other little tip- tape "on" those breakers you don't want to ever turn off. For instance we learned the hard way it was not worth it to turn off the outlet that ran our cordless phone and computer modem :).

These particular breakers are important- your hot water heater, stove/oven, freezers and/or refrigerators, and a/c system. Now because I'm home most all day and my breaker box is very convenient I can turn these breakers on and off to accelerate our savings. Yes, it is very important I remember to turn them on again. For instance we turn our hot water heater off at night and most of the day. We turn it on again in the evening to wash dishes, start the first load of laundry, and for baths. If all this jiggling of the breakers is not for you they do make an electric :( timer you can put on your hot water heater that will turn it off and on for you. We have really been amazed at the savings from this simple step. The water stays very warm even with the heater off. Of course we are entering summer so we don't need our showers to be quite so hot.

What about the other breakers? Why would I want to turn those off? As you are all aware many of our electric appliances use power even when they are off. The timer /clock on your stove and microwave, the clock on your coffee pot and on and on. If not being used why not turn them off ?- or you can unplug them.

The other reason is to help everyone think differently. Do I really need to turn that light or that switch on? Well, if I'm used to the power being off chances are I'll find another solution- maybe move to in front of the window. Gee, what a great idea!!

What about you- what great ideas are you having?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A New Perspective on Perspective

I’ve always loved the story from John 21:4 and following which talks about Peter and some other disciples fishing all night and catching nothing. The next morning a “stranger” appears on the shore and asks if they have any meat. They answer back “no” and “the stranger” tells them to cast their nets on the other side. Verse 6 says “so they cast out, and they were not able at all to draw it, for the multitude of fishes.”

One Sunday in church the question was posed, “why did the disciples follow the instruction of a stranger?” Now we all know today that that “stranger” was Jesus, but scripture tells us they didn’t yet know who the "stranger" was yet they followed his instruction anyway. Why? What would motivate a tired, empty boated bunch of fishermen to follow the command of a complete stranger? Could it have been perspective? See the fishermen were in the boat, but the “stranger” was on the shore. He had a totally different view point. He might have seen a huge school of fish. I don’t know, but I do know He always has the perspective I need in my life. I want to walk by sight He wants me to walk by faith.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What we do with slightly stale bread and end pieces

Who wants to finish that heel of yesterday's bread when a fresh loaf has just come out of the oven? So, I'll snatch up the little left over ends and heels and cube them, toss them in a zip lock bag we keep in our freezer and soon they'll become oven baked french toast.
Here's a simple recipe:

Oven Baked French Toast

Let frozen bread cubes thaw out in a 9 x 13 glass pan- maybe set them out the night before (if you forget and have to use them frozen it's no problem because they thaw out so quickly)

In a mixing bowl combine:

3-4 eggs

1- 1 1/2 cups milk

dash of vanilla flavoring

dash of cinnamon (if desired)

about 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or so until set. Remove from the oven, drizzle with pure maple syrup, and serve.

Hope you enjoy - as you can tell the ingredients are not exact, but you get the idea. Use what works for you. The amount of milk and eggs you need is based on the amount of bread cubes you have.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Simple Ways to Cut Your Power Bill

Do you know there are some simple really easy things you can do to cut your power bill? We may have gone a little overboard over here :), but if you want to learn some simple ways that you can save, read on. But.... be forewarned it gets additive. Once you see your kilowatt hours dropping you'll soon be flipping those breakers off :0.

For starters- learn how to read your power meter. This is the place to begin because once you learn to read your meter you can actually see the savings on a daily basis. Also, in Alabama our power bills have loads of good information. They detail the amount of kilowatt hours used: last billing; one month ago, and one year ago. Pay attention to the billing cycles- they differ in the number of days- so not all billing cycles are equal. We look at our meter each day at the same time to tell the amount of power used in the previous 24 hour period. How are we doing? More? Less? Don't forget to calculate how much your power company charges for a kilowatt hour by simply dividing your bill by the total number of hours used. This varies widely by state and area. Now that you know your usage and cost per hour you can see the dollars as the meter turns.

Next, identify your power hogs. What in your home uses the most power? This website has tons of information concerning power usage, kilowatt hours, and many tips on saving electricity and taking care of your electric appliances. In a nutshell here are the biggies- hot water heater, a/c, stove, oven, clothes dryer- you get the picture.

Step 3- be creative. Make simple changes like turning off the hot water heater breaker at night, putting up a clothes line, or maybe cutting off your refrigerators and freezers for a few hours. Check to see how your changes are affecting your power usage. Set a goal and see if you can stay within that goal. Make it a family fun project. We try to report each morning at breakfast how we are doing.

Why? Well, the most obvious reason is to save money. But, an even bigger issue we believe is the issue of stewardship. How well are we managing God's resources- be it money, time, material possessions or whatever He has in trusted to us for a season? Are we making the most of those resources.

Hey, if you've been doing these things all along- give yourself at pat on the back and enjoy your new found popularity- finally it's vogue to be thrifty.

Stay tuned for more tips ....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Great Little Gadget

Do you have an instant read thermometer? I think ours was under $10.00 at Walmart and it has been a real life saver. No more partially cooked bread. When in doubt remove the bread from the oven, stick in the thermometer and wait for it to reach 200 degrees. If it doesn't in just a few seconds- your bread needs a little more time in the oven. Couldn't be easier. And this is just one application -it works for many other dishes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cornbread Salad

This is one my favorite easy to make, easy to take salads. The variations are endless and I don't think I've ever had one taste bad. (I was out of sour cream when I took the picture above- it is really pretty with dollops of sour cream)

Here's the recipe I made most recently:
Cornbread Salad
1 pan cornbread (made however your family likes it- sweet, buttermilk, spicy, etc.)

1 head washed romaine lettuce torn into bite size pieces

1 pint grape tomatoes sliced

1 green pepper chopped

1 package green onions chopped

1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1-2 cups cooked corn or canned

2-3 cups cooked pinto beans or canned

2 cups cooked diced chicken

1 1/2 cups sour cream mixed with 1/2 cup salsa

extra sour cream for topping


In the bottom of a large glass bowl layer the torn romaine lettuce pushing it up the sides of the bowl to form a lettuce bowl. Next add a layer of: crumbled cornbread, chicken, pinto beans, green pepper, green onions, corn, tomatoes, and cheese. Top this with a layer of the sour cream/salsa dressing. This should take up about one third of your bowl. Begin the layers again starting with the romaine lettuce and ending with the dressing. For the last layer start with the romaine lettuce, layer the cornbread, beans, and chicken, then end with the vegetables. Top this with grated cheese. Next, alternate dollops of plain sour cream then salsa around the bowl. You can add slices of cornbread around the edges of the bowl, sliced tomatoes or whatever you have. Fresh cilantro would be wonderful, also (thanks, Jen!) and look what a gorgeous salad you have!

Make this salad fit whatever you need- the larger the bowl it can be an entire meal, or you can make a small salad to accompany your Mexican night.

substitute browned ground beef for chicken

cook the chicken or ground beef with taco seasonings and cool

leave out the meat entirely

use another type of cooked bean ex. black, kidney, white or mix the beans

leave off any of the vegetables your family doesn't like

use your imagination!

Hope you enjoy- let me know how yours turns out!