Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Make It Homemade: Donuts

I've been wanting to make my own donuts for months, but in general, I really dislike deep fat frying. It just grosses me out for some reason.  But when I saw this recipe for chocolate donuts, I had to try them. The sour cream and coffee as ingredients had me intrigued.  I substituted cocoa powder for the bittersweet chocolate (3 Tablespoons of powder and 1 Tablespoon of oil/butter for every 1 oz or 1 square of chocolate) and fried them in coconut oil. 

These donuts on their own are not overly sweet, which I appreciated. I can't handle a lot of sweetness! I used this glaze , which added just the right touch and made them  just sweet enough. I substituted honey for the corn syrup in the glaze recipe and it worked wonderfully!

I really liked these donuts, but I did something wrong because they were very dense, almost like a heavy cake. I may have overworked dough (I mis-read the instructions on adding the flour mixture). I definitely need to try again and use a lighter hand. Or I may have not fried them enough or fried them too long. I'm not really sure! But I still recommend the recipe for a fun treat.

And you can use the leftover glaze to dip strawberries in -- my husband's fine idea!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day to the Men in My Life

I have three very special "Dads" in my life and I so enjoy celebrating them every Father's Day.

My Dad: One of the funniest, most tender hearted men I know. You will always be the first man in my life!

My Father-in-law: I don't get to spend enough time with you, living states away. But you raised a boy into an amazing man and I thank you for pouring your life in to raising my husband!

My Husband: You amaze me. I respect you for all that you do for our family. You provide for us. You take care of us. You cook, clean, do laundry, change diapers (even cloth ones!), vacuum, and keep the house tidy -- and you do it all after working with over 200 teenagers all day. You build Megablock castles, play the knight in shining armor, read countless books, wrestle on the floor, spend countless hours outside playing, and encourage bath time water wars. I couldn't do this without you and someday our kids are going to know, beyond a doubt, how blessed they are to have you as their father! Don't ever stop fighting!

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Urban Garden: Update

My tomatoes continue to hang in there despite unseasonably warm weather. I am very much enjoying tending to these little plants and watching them grow. There are many little yellow flowers on both plants and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they actually turn in to tomatoes! My brother in law in a master gardener and he assures me those flowers will turn in to tomatoes.

Yesterday I noticed that one little tomato was turning from green... to RED! An actual real red tomato growing in MY desert back yard! I really don't care if this is the only tomato that makes it (I set my expectations REALLY low on this whole gardening thing), I grew a tomato in the desert and that gives me immense joy.

We also added a composter to the back yard.  I was really looking forward to it, but honestly, it's been a major pain. It's hot here and the compost dries out.  I added a bag of compost to get us started (we don't have dirt here in the desert so I need something to throw in there) and I think I need another bag because it's hard to keep my food scraps covered (and thus the fruit flies at bay).  I'll keep plugging away with it, but right now it annoys me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Crafty Summer

One of the big challenges for any parent at home all summer long with kids is how to keep them engaged. While I believe that kids need to learn how to be bored and how to deal with it, I also like to have a few "tricks" up my sleeve. I also happen to love pretty much any type of craft so for me, summer is prime time to roll up our sleeves and get to crafting! For the past few months I have been collecting crafty ideas appropriate for the pre-school and the "tween" crowd to keep us busy this summer.

Paper Quilling: After reading this post at Out of the Crayon Box, I decided that quilling was a must try for this summer. Jane used quilling with an after school club of 4th and 5th graders and they loved it so I'm hoping our future 5ht grader will love it, too! I've had this kit sitting on a shelf for over a month and I'm dying to break it open! But I primarily purchased it for the tween in the house so I'm still waiting! I'm thinking these Father's Day cards might be our first project.

Peg Dolls: This post at Skip to My Lou peaked my interest in wooden peg dolls. Definitely something both the pre-schooler and the tween can do. But this post of fairy dolls pushed me to order some supplies. I'm thinking the tween and I can work up a set for the pre-schooler's birthday in July! I am not very talented in the painting department, but thankfully our future 5th grader is!

Beading:  This idea came from a Jo-Anns sales flyer. This is as easy as it gets. I bought a box of beads and some stretchy stuff to put them on. The pre-schooler and I have already made a few bracelets and had a great time doing it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Make It Homemade: Corned Beef Hash

One of the only reasons I can ever think of to go out to eat for breakfast is so I can have corned beef hash. I LOVE that stuff! If you have an Original Pancake House around, they have THE BEST corned beef hash (and it comes with the best latkes!). I wanted to try making my own hash so when corned beef went on sale this past March, I stocked up.

This hash is chunky -- not fine like the restaurant. I think I need to chop it up more (thankfully, I have plenty leftover to fiddle with). But it is still yummy and so filling that we skipped right over lunch the day we had it for breakfast.

Homemade Corned Beef Hash
1 pack of corned beef
6 potatoes (or however many will fit in the bottom of your slow cooker)
1 onion, chopped

Wash potatoes and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place corned beef on top. Cook on low overnight or until done (mine cooked for about 7-8 hours). Take corned beef and potatoes out of slow cooker and dice into small pieces (whatever size you want). Saute onion in large frying pan until translucent (use oil or butter as needed). Add in corned beef and potatoes and allow to fry until browned.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm Still Here!

As we headed in to summer I was so excited because I'd actually have time to dedicate to blogging! I've had time all right, but I spent last week doing not much but relaxing and regrouping getting used to our new slower schedule. I've also been reading a lot more than usual, which has been a nice change of pace. I'm usually too exhausted at the end of the day to be able to focus!

I am hoping to get in more posts, but no promises! The pool at the Y is just too tempting!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fun Websites

I mentioned that I've been reading Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck. I checked it out of the library, but I'm thinking of purchasing the book. It is a great resource when you need to clean or take care of a household issue. In the back of the book Sandbeck has a Bibliography of great environmentally friendly resources that I thought I'd share.

Real Milk Paint Co.: Milk based (no kidding!) paint that is non-toxic, organic, and environmentally friendly. It looks like a gallon runs around $46. It comes in powder form and you just mix it with water.

Lehman's: This is an old-time country store! They seem to carry just about everything from clothespins to toys. It's a fun website to peruse!You can also subscribe to their printed catalog and an email newsletter.

The Vermont Country Store: Similar to Lehman's. They have reusable dryer sheets! I also saw Maggie's Soap Nuts available on their site. Check out the "Tried and True" and "Brands from the Past" links!

Snow Drift Farm: They sell supplies for soapmaking, aromatherapy and perfumes. I've been interested in making my own soap so it was interesting to see what they offer.

From Nature With Love: Another site for making your own soap and goodies!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Freezing and Storing Broth

I've posted before about making my own broths. After trial and error I found that freezing my broth in plastic Ball jelly containers worked really well. Each container holds just under 1 cup of broth (close enough for me!). Storing the containers in the freezer, however, was problematic. The containers themselves took up a lot of space and would crack if they fell out of the freezer. And if I needed to make more broth, my containers were otherwise occupied!

A few months ago it dawned on me that I could freeze the broth in the containers and then remove the frozen broth and put it into a Ziploc. I run the frozen containers under warm water just until the broth loosens so I can remove the chunk. My containers are free and there is more room in the freezer, which definitely works for me!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Container Gardening: Tomatoes

There it is. My first attempt at gardening.  I have recently been yearning to grow my own fruit and veggies, but an unfinished back yard and a fear of spending a lot of money to end up with nothing to show for it has kept me from trying out my green thumb.  I have absolutely NO gardening experience.  My mother-in-law was quite the plant lover and my husband inherited that love, but with small kids and pets, plants have not been a big part of our life. Until now!

A few weeks ago we planted 2 containers (the same ones the tomatoes are in) with vincas because Home Depot had them on sale and told us they are "heat hardy".  When I saw that tomatoes were on sale over Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to toss aside all my doubts and just go for it!

So here they are -- two "patio tomato" plants.  I am afraid that we are growing these WAY too late in the season and that the heat of July will kill them.  I was told that our seasons are short so we have to plant 90 days or less plants. These are 70 day -- so here's hoping they survive!

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