Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Scream

You scream, we all scream... but really it's more like polite begging in this house. "Please may we have some ice cream for dessert?" I don't often have ice cream laying around, even though there are a few ice cream containers that are recyclable with the paper, so the answer is often "no"... But not anymore.

Back at Christmas/Birthday time (they are the same time for me), my partner got me this bad baby. He even got it second hand (but in great condition) - it's perfect. However, our supply of local cream dried up somewhere around the same time that I received it, so it has only known a life of sitting in it's box in our back kitchen waiting patiently for me to acknowledge it's existence.

And yesterday, I finally used it! We just got the first batch of cream for the season and even though I should have made butter... I decided to try out ice cream instead.

I searched around for a basic vanilla ice cream recipe, something simple to start me out with... but it was hard to find a recipe without egg whites in it. I just wanted simple! Anyhow, this is what I finally ended up with and it ended up perfectly delicious:

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4c sugar

Mix ingredients together and add to ice cream maker according to the instructions of your specific maker. I mixed mine for about 20 minutes and then it was done.

I used organic raw cream, milk and sugar, but whatever you've got will work. I really did try to do this without an ice cream maker, but I don't think it's possible without some real challenges.

I look forward to making lots of delicious ice cream flavors this summer!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things to come

I was going to write last week but time slipped away from me, as it so very often does. I'm sorry. With the weather as nice as it has been, who wants to sit in front of a computer? Not me, that's for sure. I want to be outside hiking or daydreaming about things to come... because that is what spring does to me.

In spring, there is so much Possibility. You can start fresh with a garden if you didn't get around to it last year (of just failed altogether to maintain one). You can clean things off and fix things up. You can spread your wings and step outside when you feel stifled and cramped by being in doors.

You can hang your clothes on the line.
You can build a bonfire when the sun goes down and have quality time with family and friends.
You can take a walk with your family and find creatures doing their spring time stuff (even if they are a little confused about the early onset of record breaking unseasonably warm weather).
I'm not going to lie, the warm weather might be freaking me out a bit, but it certainly is enjoyable and rejuvenating. And of course, it's got me thinking.

I am thinking about my kids and what will come next for them. My oldest is getting ready to go to high school next year and we have been trying to figure out where the best place for him to go might be. I am trying to help him find ways outside of school to pursue the things that he really wants to do, specifically theater and film work. This is a whole new realm in parenting that seemed to happen so quickly, even if I have had almost 15 years to prepare for it. While some of my friends are just starting to have kids and just trying to figure out where to send there little ones to preschool, I'm in uncharted territory over here... but luckily I am finding new friendships in some of the co-parents that I've known for so many years, but just never really connected with like I can now. Now we can relate as we navigate the teenage years together. New friendships are great and definitely contribute to personal growth - I highly recommend it.

I am thinking about myself too. I am ready to get back into shape and the warm weather is my best friend since I refuse to spend money on a gym. I take a walk everyday now, and sometime even get to squeeze in a hike - this morning I hiked up Monument Mountain with a friend and laid in the sun on the rocks at the top. (So if you see me limping tomorrow, it's because my legs will be mad at me!)
I am thinking about my own schooling and where it might lead me. I am loving doing art, and surprised when I find satisfaction in forms of art that I haven't touched in 15-20 years of my life.

And of course I am continuing with my "get rid of stuff day" every Friday. We are making some dents - you'd think they were big dents if you saw what I have hauled out of here... but inside our home, it doesn't even feel like we've scraped the surface. I have donated, sold, passed on and straight up thrown out bags upon bags of "stuff". Some of it was good quality stuff too, things we've had since my oldest was a baby, sweet sentimental things... but in the end, I would rather have someone else enjoy these things and give them more life than to have them sit around unused in our overfilled home.

Well, that is enough computer use for me - I've got to hang more laundry and do some of my homework. As long as it's not raining and I'm not at work, you can find me outside in the sun!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Simple food

It's Friday again and here I am, posting. I tried so hard this week to post earlier, but life just has too much to hand me right now, so Friday it is.

And I haven't gotten rid of anything yet today, but it's only 9am, so there is plenty of time for that. For those of you on the edge of your seats wondering what might go today - I'm thinking some of the hallway pile for sure... but I think today I might dig into the secret corners of my fridge and freezer and free up some space in there. See, I have this awesome kitchen aid ice cream maker that I've been dying to use - but I got it just in time for the fresh local raw cream to stop flowing. Well, I heard a rumor that a calf has been born and I might just yet see some more of that cream, so I need to be ready. I've never used this ice cream maker, but I do know that it needs to chill in the freezer for 24 hours before use, and that requires some work if you've got a freezer like mine.

Anyway, I wanted to touch on food today. I've been trying to actively clean up my diet a bit. I spent the week not drinking coffee or alcohol and having freshly squeezed citrus juice every morning. Another thing is that I have at least one, but often two salads every day. I am also trying out beans again. Beans aren't my favorite, but I feel like I would crave less meat and cheese (my real downfall) if I ate more beans. So, this week I started with a batch of adzuki beans.
I used to cook beans from scratch all of the time, but I got burnt out on them. It's been too many years to count since I've cooked them, long enough that my kids aren't used to eating them very often at all. Adzuki beans are good to start with because you don't have to soak them... however, I don't mind a little overnight soaking. Just because I didn't trust myself to remember, I referenced this recipe, mostly because it was the first one that I came across that seemed simple enough.

Next week I think I am taking on garbanzo beans (aka chick peas).

And speaking of salad, I was so pleased when my good friend Jen from Woven Roots Farm handed me some fresh picked greens from her greenhouse the other day.
It's nice to serve food to your kids and tell them that a friend had just picked them that morning, when there is still snow outside on the ground. They were thrilled and I think ate extra in appreciation. It's good to have connections.

Lastly, the other thing that I have done already twice this week is bake macaroons. They are such a good simple sweet snack.
It's really pretty easy and I already have it down - my favorite kind of recipe because it's easy to whip up impulsively.
Let me share it with you.

Yummy Macaroons:
2 1/2 cups of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of honey
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat the honey up on low heat. Once it is easy to stir, add egg whites and coconut. Keep on low heat and stir for about 2-3 minutes until it is well mixed. Then remove from heat and add both extracts. Stir well.
Grease a baking sheet. With damp hands, take the coconut mixture and make small balls. Squeeze with your hand a few times to help hold the mixture together. Place each ball on the cookie sheet - they can be somewhat close together because they won't expand. Bake for 20 minutes.

And if you want to, you can dip them in melted chocolate once they are cooled. My daughter really wants me to do this for the next batch... we'll see.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Get rid of things day

That's it.
From now on, Friday (formally known as my day off) is now going to be known as the day that I get rid of stuff. We'll call it "get rid of things" day.

Every Friday I try to chill at home and decompress from the week, but I also try to get some stuff done around the house. I usually do some laundry, cook some food for the week, attempt to do a little homework (haha!) and occasionally, clean... but inevitably I have a break down about how much STUFF we have and how it is everywhere. It doesn't help that our living space is a tad too small for our family size, but that is no excuse. Also, my 5 year old plays all day using his amazing imagination, and he tends to build everywhere... which creates even less space in the house. Don't get me wrong, his stuff is usually pretty amazing but enough is enough!

Today it was the books (again) that did me in. Messy bookshelves make me crazy, and it's really not fair to think that a 5 year old can constantly maintain a neat anything without prompting. So we went through all of his bookcases and filled a huge cloth bag with books to take out of the house. We took some of them to the local used book store and sold them for store credit and only came home with two new books. The rest of the books will go to the book swap at our co-op so that others can take advantage of them if they want them.

After that, I started tackling some of our hallway pile. The truth is, I try to pretend that this pile isn't really there, which is not how I want to be handling it at all. The pile is the result of the big kids cleaning their room out so that they could finally get rid of their bunk bed and install the loft beds that have been waiting for them. The loft beds are great because now they have more space, but getting rid of the clutter was a huge help. However, a lot of that stuff was put in the hallway for me to deal with (clothes to give away to friends or put aside for my youngest, etc.)... and I'm certainly not holding up my end of the bargain.

But now that every Friday is going to be the day that I get rid of things, I hope to have that hallway empty soon! I think the rule will be that I have to get rid of at least one thing, but preferably one BAG of things every week. This absolutely includes physically removing the item or items from the house.

Oh man, I hope this works out!

Meanwhile back on the ranch... we finally have a little bit of winter.
And I can feel a little bit better about all of that snow gear that is taking up space in my home - we actually have a reason for it now... at least for a few days.


Hey, I know that I haven't been posting much so while I have you, let me tell you about my toothbrush. (Aren't you excited??)

There aren't a lot of toothbrushes out there that aren't plastic and don't come in plastic packaging. I have found a few - you can read about them on this blog post. In the end, I am really happy with my preserve toothbrush that comes in a mail back pack. The toothbrush itself is made from 100% recycled plastic (mostly yogurt containers and other #5 plastics that are sometimes difficult to recycle), and the packaging that it comes in is designed to be saved so that you can slip your toothbrush back in and mail it back to the company... postage paid. The used toothbrushes get ground up and turned into plastic lumber (used for picnic tables and park benches, etc.)

This is how we will be doing things from now on around here.