Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saying Yes Equals a Tired Mom but Happy Children.

I must say that I am not shocked, in the least by the little experiment.  We have done more in the last week than we have done in the last month.  We've been to the beach twice, 5 different parks, the library, grandma's house several times, the other grandma's house once.  We have basically been outside for the majority of the daylight hours.  My 'get out of bed' time has moved from 9:00am to somewhere between 7:00-7:45am.  My house is trashed, dishes and laundry behind, but these are some seriously happy children sitting here. 

Audge at our Picnic Lunch

When they are not bored, they are not in my ears.  Don't get me wrong, I love hearing my children talk, but the, "Mom, mom. MOMMA. Mom, mommy, Ma. Ma. Ma..." gets old REAL quick, especially when it is in surround sound! 

Does it get any better than this?

Bubbles for hours!

Moving forward, I will not say yes to their every idea, as I did this week.  I will, however, make a serious effort to less of a lazy parent.  End of story.  I'm totally pooped out and they are happy, but because they are happy, so am I. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm Going to Say... Yes!

"Yes, we can go camping this year, all six of us."

"Yes, we can eat dinner on the patio even if that means I have to move all of the chairs outside."

This is my new goal.  I am going to say, "Yes!" as often as possible to my children.  Play-doh, no problem.  Three parks today, sure!  I didn't have four babies in hopes of declining the majority of their requests.  I never imagined that.  My kids are very accustomed to my no, and that makes me a little sad.  Now, I'm not saying that I will become a martyr.  I still believe that boundries are healthy and that we ALL have choices (mom and dad included), but this is my new goal.  Give it a try with me.  Let me know how things have changed in your family.  I'm starting with a one week goal.  I will not say no unless it involves something dangerous, too expensive, or unhealthy. 

I predict that this will be difficult in the beginning.  One of the first things in the morning I tell Little L is, "No, I'm not getting out of bed [at 5:30am], and is usually followed by, "No, I really don't want to make [insert elaborate breakfast]".  Will it kill me to get out of bed and make some flippin' flap jacks?  Ask me in the morning, and I'd probably say it would, but it won't.  And, guess what?  Little L will probably be bursting with joy when I say YES, and that is part of why I wanted to be a parent! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bakk Bakk Chicken Stock

"Bakk Bakk Chicken Stock"
 I make stock every other week, it seems.  Out of this recipe, I can get one pot of soup, a few family size servings of rice cooked with half water, half stock, and a cup or two left over to freeze for a rainy day.  The difference between stock and broth is simply this; broth is generally made with the meat, while stock is made of mostly bones and maybe a few trimmings left over.  Broth is very rich and can be served alone.  I find that it is wonderful for soothing scratchy throats and is easy to consume on a queasy stomach.  I'm not so sure I would enjoy a nice cup of stock, unless there were added veggies, noodles, meat... in the form of a soup. 

You will find that there are numerous stock recipes on the web.  Everyone from Alton Brown to Jane Doe seems to think they know what is best.  To be honost, I was not pleased with the majority of recipes I came across when I started researching the benefits of stocks and various ways to make it.  I estimate that I have made stock roughly two dozen times for my family, and I am confident that my stock will please the palate. 

Without further ado...

Bakk Bakk Chicken Stock

  • One whole chicken OR leftover bones from a previous chicken meal, or a combination of both 1.5-2lbs
  • Filtered water, several quarts
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 carrots, snapped into 3" pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, snapped into 3" pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, halved or quartered, unpeeled is fine
  • 1 turnip, quartered
  • 1/2 head of garlic (or roughly 5-6 cloves), smashed, unpeeled is fine
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 10-15 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
1. Add chicken and bones to a large stock pot and cover with cold filtered water.  Add apple cider vinegar and let rest for 30+ minutes (no heat).
2. Add everything except the parsley and cook over high heat until boiling.
3. Remove any foam or scuz off the top with a mesh strainer or slatted spoon.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 24 hours.  If using a raw whole chicken, pull the chicken out after 3 hours and check to see if the meat is fully cooked.  If it is, remove the meat, break up any small bones by hand and return all fat, bones, skin and cartilage to the stock pot with the stock.  Reserve meat for other uses.  You don't want to cook the meat for the full 24 hours.  It will have terrible flavor and texture.  I've done it, and trust me, you shouldn't!  Also, if you cook for longer than 3 hours, make sure to check the water level and add as needed to prevent it from burning.
5. In the last few minutes of cooking, add in roughly chopped parley.

That wasn't so tough, right?  Let's continue...

6. Line a large strainer with cheese cloth, two layers thick and strain into a large bowl, preferably in your kitchen sink.
7. Plug kitchen sink drain and fill with cold water and ice.  If your bowl of strained stock isn't already in the sink, add it now.  We're cooling it off, guys!
8. Stir
9. Stir
10. Stir until the stock has reached room temperature.  Cover it and place it in the fridge to further cool. 
11. Wait a few hours (or overnight) and remove the cooled stock from the fridge and remove the fat, if you choose.  I have four growing kids who can use all the extra energy they can get and don't complain about fatty stock, so I usually opt for leaving it.  If your stock is gelatinous, which means,"having a jelly like consistency," you've done your job.  If it doesn't, try adding more bones or cooking for longer next time.  Non-gelatinous stock is fine to use.  I wouldn't waste it! 

Go ahead and use what you can while it's fresh, but chances are, you will have extra stock.  Freeze it in ice cube trays, silicon muffin trays or similar and pop the frozen chunks into a bag and use as needed. Check with your vet, but I'd make sure to give your left over pieces of bone and vegetables to a dog.  They will love you forever.  My understanding is that if the bone has been cooked long enough to break easily by hand, it's safe to give to your canine friend. 

Another easy variation:  Use your crock pot on high for several hours, then low for many more hours!

Enjoy, my friends!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wool Porn

Scrappy Longies, WIP, on Bulky Gaia Organic.  This is heavenly to work with.  Thank you Amy (from my July DDC) for the perfect title for this post!  Maybe you will see this and drool right along with me!   Throw these on over a kite fold flat with a Thirsties large doubler and you have diapering perfection, in my opinion, at least. 

Homemade Rice Milk- YES!

Just to tag off of my last post, the rice milk is complete.  I made one quart plain (only the recommended salt added), one quart vanilla (added 1/2tsp. pure vanilla) and one quart maple (1T. real maple syrup).  There was enough rice sludge left over to make another quart, but I decided to play around with making a smoothie.  It wasn't great.  I added some raspberry preserves in attempts of making a flavored milk first.  Meh.  Then I went from a fruit milk by added about 1/2c. fresh blueberries.  Geh.  I then added some sweetener and LOTS of ice.  Not to shabby.  I won't make the smoothie again.  I'm sure an additional quart of vanilla (C1&2's prefered rice milk variety) would go much further than this kind of creamy, not quite fruity or sweet enough frozen concoction.  Just sayin'.

Oh, and this is going to save us loads of dough!  That's always nice...

Today We Ate "Cheese".

As many of you know, C1 is allergic to milk.  It's the whey that he has a problem with and we have high hopes for him to outgrow it.  It's been 4 months since we've learned of his allergy and I won't lie, this pretty much sucks for cooking for a large family, at least I thought.  My fall back meals included "Stove-Top Mac and Cheese," "Buttermilk Soaked Chicken Nuggets" and "Bean and Cheese Burritos."  What's a mom to do?  What did *I* do?  I got pissed and served chicken and veggies for just about every meal for 2 weeks.  Let's just say that my chicken lovers are no long keen on the idea of chicken and veggies.  There goes that one.  We've tried several alternatives.  Simple flour rue sauces with Earth Balance and Almond Milk; not so great.  Vegan Cheese; yup, enough said.  We're not buying that again!

Yesterday, I came across the Vegan Reader via my friend Shana.  She blogs at and I admire her planning, cooking and frugal living skills.  She originally led me there to look at the Homemade Rice Milk recipe (which is on the stove as I type).   I'll let you know how that flies once the brew is done.  In all of my spare time (insert sarcasm), I perused through more of her site, trying to ignore a lot of the political stuff (not that I fully disagree, I just don't have any more brain space at the moment), and found her recipe for "Cheese!"  It reminded me more of hummus than cheese dip, but my C1, who is two years old exclaimed, "MY CHEESE," repeatedly, for almost 5 minutes after serving it.  This one goes in my book as a win.  Thank you!  I also love that I have found another use for all of the organic herbs growing in my back yard!  I'm interested in hearing what Big L has to say.  I presume that if I preface the dip by calling it a mock cheese, I will get a thumbs down.  If I give it to him as 'just a dip,' it may find it's self on our family dinner table weekly!