Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Weekend At Home

is a beautiful thing!

We had a visitor for the weekend, my two and a half year old niece. She certainly gave little Q a run for his money and vice versa

It was such a treat to have little hands in the garden as we started working on the driveway full of compost that came on Friday. We worked on carving out little spaces for summer barbecues and toddler safe summer fun. In the process we made big messes, small discoveries, leaf soup and mud pies. We watered plants, watered each other, broke out the bike trailer and the wheelbarrow and shovel.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Garden

Spring is soooooo here and it feels good! Here's a look at everything popping up in our garden right now. I took these pictures first thing in the morning, just after the sun came up and the dew was still on everything, by the end of the day everything was already different. It changes so quickly just as new life often does.

Friday, March 26, 2010

FO Friday

FO= Finished Object and this week mine is a little knit hat I made for Q.

This yarn is a merino wool and cotton blend and it's breezy, super soft, and cuddly. I think it'll be perfect for spring and that's pretty much as long as it will fit him for - the next couple months. Good thing I have a nephew coming this summer who will be ready for this hat by the fall.

Breakfast Of Champion Yogurt-Eaters

Yogurt is one of the only things, rather the only thing I can count on little Q eating which is why I'm so pleased to have made some ourselves instead of buying it all the time.

So here's some breakfast of fresh yogurt for you.

blueberries picked by Gma Jo last summer

maple syrup made by the students at my alma mater Rock Point School

Yum. That's a smile of approval

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Another product of visiting our local dairy Maple View Farms this past weekend was fresh fresh milk. There's nothing like buying milk when you can see the cows the milk came from playing in the field next to where you are.

I didn't manage to capture any cows in this photo but here's a picture of the farm.

I've seen a variety of homemade yogurt posts around the web and decided I would give them a try with this milk. I am amazed at how easy yogurt making is! I used a variety of sites as guides but went with this basic premise - heat the milk up (180degrees), cool it down (110 degrees), mix in some plain yogurt to start the culture and then keep the whole thing at 110 degrees for ~6 hours, put in the fridge and enjoy! The way you achieve these results can vary, you can use a cooler, a crockpot, a yogurt maker and I'm sure there are lots of other ways. Here is how I did it

I heated a half gallon of whole milk up on the stove until my cooking thermometer read 180 degrees

Then I pulled the pan off the stove and let it sit and cool until it was 110 degrees. Once it was cooled I stirred in 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt - a starter for the yogurt culture.

I poured the mix into a variety of jars I had and submerged them in the crock pot full of warm water which was on the 'keep warm' setting. I was concerned that this wouldn't keep everything at the right temperature but it was perfect.

The crockpot did a wonderful job! Me on the other hand, I could have done a much better job. I timed it so that I had to set my alarm and get up at 3am to put everything in the fridge. Oh well, it worked! I made yogurt!

Stay tuned for a breakfast post tomorrow

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Homemade Butter

I have seen lots of bloggers showing how they make butter by shaking heavy cream in a jar or even some that put it inside a ball and play kick until it's ready. It sounds like a fun thing to do with a lot of people but not something you'd do very frequently and honestly I still think of butter being a long process that people do in a churn. But last week I came across an even easier method than jar shaking - make butter in the kitchen-aid! I knew I had to try it!

All you need is heavy cream, the fresher the better (and not ultra-pasteurized). This past weekend we went to local dairy Maple View Farms and got wonderfully fresh heavy cream (and milk and ice cream, mmmmmmm).

Heavy cream into the kitchen-aid, kitchen-aid on medium/high speed and first we make whipped cream.

It was very tempting to just add a little maple syrup at this point and put this lovely whipped cream on everything in site, or just a spoon and gobble it up. But we kept on with the medium high... and it got weird. It separated into butter and buttermilk.

I let it go on for a minute or two to expel as much buttermilk as possible and then scraped it all into a bowl that was in the sink.

Running cold water over it, kneading the butter so the rest of the buttermilk could come out and I poured it all off into another container to be used elsewhere.

I decided to get creative and add some herbs to my butter, sage, oregano, garlic powder, some kosher salt and thyme.

I'm sure I'll never get that combo the same again but it was a major win. Major win, and so so easy. I highly recommend giving it a try

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have a number of things I've been wanting to blog about lately and I thought I'd start with a little series.. that I have no name for. But these next few days of posts will have a common theme. You'll see.

In my quest to simplify my life and my home in particular I've been paying close attention to the things I use a lot of or buy a lot of and rethink them - starting in the kitchen. I believe that buying in bulk and making things yourself usually saves you money and/or is more healthy. Also, ever since the little one was born my cooking has become much more simplified. Dinners are usually thrown together and my flavor combos are pretty regular - I noticed I was using a lot of the 2 spice mixes - mexican and italian. While I like those two flavors a lot I was/am sick of buying them. So I bought some spices in bulk at our health food store and made my own!

Supplies: mixing bowl, bulk spices, spoon, empty jars

obviously both mixes are highly customizable. For my italian seasoning I chose equal parts sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram

I threw a little crushed red pepper in on a whim. we like our pasta sauce with a little kick to it and that's where a lot of our italian seasoning goes.

for the mexican or taco seasoning I was a little more creative. I used this as a general guide and made ours with equal parts chili powder, cumin and paprika (~8Tbsp each) and equal parts of onion flakes (or powder) and garlic powder (~2Tbsp each) and a pinch or two of cayenne at the end

Now I have what for us is easily a 6 month supply of both seasonings and I can't wait to try them out!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Every since I threw my friend a rubbery ducky themed baby shower a few weeks ago and decorated the cupcakes with billions of peeps I've had marshmallows on the brain. I think I had had a peep one or two times in my life but when while decorating I ate one and wow, was that gross! I knew there had to be a better marshmallow and I remembered how amazing all the marshmallows that Tuesday's With Dorie did a while ago looked and so I decided to give them a try. And make them pink!

They were really quick and easy to make actually and everyone who had them was skeptical at first but after trying them said they were just like regular marshmallows. I guess that's a good thing! If I ever make them again I would definitely make them flavored in some way since they are so plain. Some melted dark chocolate stirred in would be wonderful, or maybe a little bit of strawberry puree....mmmmm

I wish I had let them sit longer before cutting them because I think I could have used cookie cutters and made some cute shapes, mine came out very 'rustic' (ie ugly) don't you think?

Here's the recipe if you'd like to give them a try


Adapted From :Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup cornstarch

¾ cup cold water

1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 ¼-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Line a rimmed baking sheet – choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high – with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 ¼ cups sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup – without stirring – until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquify it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy – don’t overbeat the and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl.Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like – into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

and here are some variations that Dorie recommends:

Raspberry Marshmallows: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies. For raspberry marshmallows, you’ll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to ¼ teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango, and passion fruit.

Cappuccino Marshmallows: Sift ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder, and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to ½ teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.

Light Chocolate Marshmallows: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to ¼ teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.

Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows: Whisk together ½ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Welcome Spring!

I cannot describe just how grateful I am to see the beginning of Spring. It has been a tumultuous winter - losing my Grandpa, moving, and lots of illness and travel in our family as well. Just typing that I want to take a sigh of relief.

There is just something about warm days, budding leaves and sweet daffodils poking through the ground that makes my heart so so happy. I don't remember much of this time last year. Well I do but my world was very very small and sacred and I don't remember doing anything besides looking into my newborns eyes and nursing and changing endless diapers. This year though, I am ready to celebrate spring!

I love all of the symbolism that spring has, new growth/fertility (inshallah!), rebirth and optimism. I'm trying to bring some of those symbols into my house along with the fresh air and sunshine so here's a peak at a few things around our house right now.

Flowers on the kitchen table

wet felted easter eggs (I'll show more of these later)

garden planning (more on this later as well)

and I gave our nature table a springtime makeover

Playsilks made by momma

sweet little bunnies by mamaroots

art by Ruth Elsasser

momma and baby fairy by Rjabinnik