Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Banana muffins

This is one of my favorite muffins to make, they are the sweetest in fact! Banana muffins, with or without nuts. I do not like them with nuts because soft food should not crunch, ever. Okay fine the top of homemade baked mac and cheese, this should crunch- a lot.

I mix my dry ingredients and then make a well in the center. Mix the wet ingredients separate, if you are out of eggs, add a tablespoon cornstarch to the dry and 2 tablespoons water to the wet.

I dumped the wet mix in, if you are unsure of your mix then reserve back a bit of the wet and be sure its needed. Some muffin recipes call for too much liquid and your muffins dont bake as high. Just barely fold this together-do not overmix. A few streaks of flour are fine. If you overmix, then the muffins dont turn out well. There are recipe book words for what they will do if overmixed, but basically here it is. Over mix-bad. Barely mix-yum.

I modified my recipe, I start out with a recipe book recipe and then I change it to fit my needs. The amts and ingredients are no longer the same as a recipe book. I changed the batter amounts to fit these 2 pans, I do not have 12 muffin cups in cast iron so I use this wedge pan, but as you see I need more than the regular recipe. I preheat the cast iron pans in the oven. Do not mix the wet and dry ingredients until you have your heated pans out and ready. If you are using regular muffin tins or silicone bakeware then it doesnt matter.
DO preheat the oven though regardless! Otherwise your muffin bottoms cook too quickly and they will be tough.
I put a small slice of real salted butter in each cast iron cup before I put batter in. This makes the bottoms salty and sweet at the same time!

Okay so I have shadows in my picture. My mom is a photographer, I make no such claims for myself. These come out easily after letting them sit for about 3 minutes. I use a butter knife to gently loosen along the edges if needed and then pop them out with the end of the knife. They usually will not fall out of the cast iron like they would traditional muffin tins.

These are sweet and yummy and wonderful! The top is shiny from the sugar, and its melty crunchy all at once and the insides are perfect and light with air holes and bits of mooshed banana... Oh my. I ate 8 of these. At once. Then I made more for everyone else to have some!

Here is the recipe if anyone is interested: this is for 12 muffins not my modified muffin batter.

Dry ingredients:
1.5 cups flour (dont sub more than 1/2 cup wheat)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
*add tablespoon cornstarch if you are out of eggs
-mix well

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
almost 1/4 cup oil
1 egg or 2 tablespoons water if you used cornstarch for your egg.
3/4 cup banana mooshed
-mix well

Make a well in center of your dry, quickly fold in wet. Spoon into prepared tin or cast iron pans. Bake at 400 for 20-22 min until toothpick inserted comes out clean. If your toothpick comes out wet at 20 min, try one more spot. You may have hit some mooshed banana. Let sit 3 min, remove to cooling rack, consume imediately well slathered with butter!

Simple Fare

My lighting was poor so the photo isn't great, but I love the way this looks when it first starts to boil. I throw in a few cups of dried pinto beans, some fresh garlic chopped and a large whole onion chopped, some dried red pepper, garlic and onion powder, cayenne, chili pepper and cumin. Then a half stick of real butter, a tablespoon of salt and let it come to a boil. I added the seasons a couple min after putting it on so it was near a boil and the seasons didn't sink and dissolve so I took a picture.

My kids call this poor food,-though nicer to say simple fare- beans and home-made brown bread. We eat the two together for any meal of the day, or a snack. We use a lot of pinto beans in many of our meals, we love Mexican food. I prefer to make my own beans and refried beans and we use dry beans for chili. Its cheaper and better for you, less additives.

Beans must have fat, in my opinion, to turn out well. The fat brings out the flavor, some people use lard, others use fatback or bacon. We like bacon or butter. Margarine wont do the job quite as well.

I read a article yesterday about the economy and job losses. There was a woman in the article who said she has to use a food closet now for her groceries. She was glad that she received groceries other than pinto beans one pick up day because she has 10 bags already and has no idea how to cook dry beans. It made me think of sharing my recipe! I am sure she wont be reading it... But its still a great recipe!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another installation of shoeball...

This game...

Is so much fun to watch! Being hit with the shoes accidently? Um, no. I dont enjoy it! These houseshoes we buy, they have hard bottoms!

No the floor isnt covered in toilet paper, thats scraps from diaper cutting.

The conversation is also interesting.

"Who just hit me in the ----? "
"That was me daddy but I was just getting you back for when you shot me in the crotch with your air soft gun!"
"Well I didnt get shot in the crotch." Yeah, uh me neither! Instead I ran away, far away, after capturing a few images. Just kidding I am not such a coward...

Tad turns here to see that Nathalie, the shoe hoarder has quite a stash! Next you hear, "Hey, if you are not going to play and you are just going to hide like a wienie give up some of the shoes!"

They often are laughing so hard they miss their mark. However, it has been established that my house shoes hurt the most followed up by Nathalies. We have different, heavier, bottoms on our houseshoes. Its because they are red, the color of evil!

Tad tried to take refuge on the steps, but daddy catches the shoes and throws them back so fast they hardly seem to leave the air!
All in all, another great evening.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another egg post

I found 2 eggs this morning. The one of the left is a banty egg so it is small, the one in the middle is a store bought egg size large, because our chickens dont lay enough yet and the one on the right, that is the biggest chicken egg I have ever seen! Part of the reason it looks huge is because it is too fat to sit in the cardboard egg tray.

Another photo of the same eggs, wow that egg is big! I picked it up and thought it was heavy, and then closed my fingers. With regular chicken eggs, I can make a cage around one with my fingers and my fingers just meet my thumb. This one, I couldnt come close to meeting my thumb with all fingers! I brought it to the house and Tad said, wow I am glad I didnt have to poop that out!

I made new pants for Nathalie, she wanted them looser than the previous pants. I cant say I love how this looks, my preferred look is a hint more fitted but she loves this loose fit. She can easily layer under them and she loves the stretchy waistband.

These pants are recycled pants that were Frank's years ago. I bought them for him in Germany and he says they were not very, um, masculine? That wasnt it, he called them some mean names but wore them several times to fancy events for the military.

Nathalie actually had no pants that were not patched, needing patches, or too short. This is because all of her last yr pants fit the beginning of this year so I only made a couple of new skirts and 1 pair of jeans. She promptly fell in the jeans and tore out the knee! So, we are at a place where she had to have nicer pants in order for Frank to continue being seen with her in public.

Lastly and largely unrelated, my living room floor. We are remodeling of course and all of this plus much more was in the children's bathroom. We couldnt find anything, and had nowhere to stand in there so cleaned out all trash, recyclables and tools and the bathroom is nice and neat though unfinished. These tools were part of our decor until Frank cleaned them up last night. Now only a few of them are "neatly stacked" in the corner. We still have so much work to do and will for years, there is no way we will ever have a tool free house. Which is fine with me...

Prayers please

For anyone who does pray and reads this blog, please send up prayers for my sister and her husband. He is very sick right now and she could really use the prayers.

My sisters husband had an allergic reaction to some medication and became very ill. He is at the hospital but he is in good condition now. Thanks for prayers!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One more

Only one more post without pictures. I know that everyone who reads this blog reads it for my words right? Hmmm. No. I dont like blogs without pictures, I do love to read but I love to see pictures!
So I just have to know, or at least say though no one may know, how do unschoolers learn as well as children who can read? I often wonder that. I know some unschoolers, I have known unschoolers with children as old as 10 that didnt read at all. I am not by any means criticizing these parents, I just wonder.
I havent been able to keep my children from learning. Not that I try, but often on weekends my daughter is disappointed that we dont have school. When she was 2 she was begging to "do cool too mommy." We bought her little workbooks and let her play learn. I made and bought Montessori manipulative's. Tad learned to read slowly, it was hard for him and many times involved much frustration for both of us. But once he learned, oh my! The world is open to him! He reads and reads and reads... As we drive down the interstate, he reads signs out loud, he reads boxes and shampoo bottles and every book he can find. I have to tell him now, this one isnt for you. He cant read just anything he picks up because its not all good for a 9 year old
Yesterday at the library, Nathalie picked out books she could read. She is just at the beginning of second grade reading, like Tad she learned the basics quickly then struggled with speed. Tad asked the librarian for books on guns, anything artillery or military vehicles. She found these for him and he checked them out, he came home and read and created. He used a cardboard tube, beer box, ziplock bag box and created some sort of gun that has a remote.
I truly wonder how does a 9 year old have the world available to them if they are not taught to read? What if they dont ask, what if it isnt their desire to learn to read? How does it work for unschoolers? I read to my children daily in school and every evening for our family time. I read books that Tad can and has read, Nathalie brings me books that she can read and are fluffy and irritating and we read those sometimes.
Tad reads poetry now, and literature. Nathalie can read and memorize poetry almost as fast as I can and thats fast. What if they cant read, they depend on me. Which would be fine, but there isnt enough time in the day for me to read to Tad as much as he wants to ingest.
Not all children love to read and they are not all quick learners in reading. My children were not, they have hit the spot where they can freely read though and they love it. They learn so fast they are now winning against me in geography and science games.
Anyways, just a query of mine on unschooling.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Doin' somethin' right

Yesterday my children showed me that we must be doing something right with homeschool. They have loved learning their whole lives, before they were old enough for school. Now that we do school, they do get tired of it sometimes. When they take school breaks, they are allowed to go play, do whatever they want within reason.

Yesterday they had two breaks during school and what they chose to do, was very encouraging to me. We have DVDs about the earth, Into The Blue. They are really neat DVDs, and my mom sent us an interactive game that goes with the DVDs. They used their first break to play this game, there is a corresponding puzzle that they put together as they earn the pieces by answering correctly. They know so much about the earth from these DVDs!

During second break, Tad asked to use the computer. I said sure! He called me over to ask could he click on a link in yahoo on King Tut and this started an hour long study for all 3 of us on Egypt, King Tut, mummies, and many other things! Today we have library day, and they have to check out books on earthquakes and will now choose some books on Egypt as well.

My mom sends vocabulary words as well as weekly discussion questions. She is a good writer, and writes children's stories for my kids that use very large vocab words that we write out, look up, discuss and use in sentences. Then we research mom's questions and the children do an oral report to her. We are hoping to use Skype for this, my mom is in mid move so doesn't have that capability yet. Right now we use speaker phone!

So I have to go get ready for library day, my children are practicing sign language.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our first eggs! Again.

Each child wanted a picture holding the banty egg. It is small and green! Yes some chickens lay green eggs, and some lay rainbow eggs. I dont have any of those chickens. If chickens laid money, more people would own them but then I dont think people would be as happy, as if the chickens just laid eggs! Okay no more philosophy from me today.

Frank found our first eggs, and the chickens laid them IN the right space! Thats very exciting, our chickens didnt do that in the past. We have had chickens that laid eggs, two groups of them. And yet, I couldnt keep them alive and safe and happy and all that jazz. So they were either eaten when free range, or died of sadness when they were penned. Okay fine I cant prove that they were sad. But they just died! For no reason! I fed them, I gave them clean water, I moved their coop about. But they died.
These chickens have a whole barn, and a warm insulated room with a heat lamp and just a lot more comforts. I didnt know what to do last year and couldnt have done this alone. They have a whole fenced yard to themselves, though they roam much greater areas by flying over their fence. They go home at night and in the morning they lay yummy eggs! I love the little banty eggs, wonder how that works with recipes? Add one large regular egg OR two banty eggs.

Bathroom remodel

These pictures are just thrown on here any old way, I couldnt make them understand how I wanted them lined up. This is the childrens/hall bathroom. We sometimes think it was once a bedroom by the newer 2x4s in there, to frame in the bathtub area. Its way too big to have been a bathroom in the '60's. Its truly huge, would have easily made a nursery.

These cabinets are large, there is so much unused space in here! My kids dont have much to put in them, and I am not a storing kind of person. So these are largely empty, but nice! We dont like the weird tile on the walls and will replace that with wainscotting and the walls will get new paint.

The floor will be tiled and a new toilet put in. We have 4 bathrooms. The laundry room bath and downstairs bath had very old toilets that used a lot of water to flush. We are replacing them with the more efficient toilets from the other 2 bathrooms and will put new ones in these 2. This one we already purchased. Its in the back of the van. Afterall, you dont always know when you will need a toilet when you are on the road right? This is our new tub and shower unit, we installed it yesterday.

This is what we stopped tiling for, to get this in. The tub has jets, the kids used it for the first time last night and they are in love! Tad and I care nothing for baths, we prefer a shower but now that we have this tub we may learn to like baths!

The bathrooms, being older, dont have all the things bathrooms now have. Like shut off valves and in some cases pee traps. Is that how you spell that, really??? Pee trap? Well this is what prevents odors from the drain and we hate those odors because you can only imagine what it smells like... Unless you have an older house and then its not your imagination. Ewww. We have had to destroy some drywall in this house because of pipes bursting and there was, no shut off valves... So we are putting in shut offs and will be putting in access doors in ALL bathrooms so that the water can be shut off.
There is a lot of drywall work, and repainting and tiling to be done in here. But its one more project moving along! We have had fun with these projects and I love that we can take our time, for the first time in our marriage we dont have to rush our projects.

Continued tile

This was our next step, to grout the area that we had tiled. Normally you tile a whole floor before you grout. But grout, like morter, can be mixed in small batches. We mixed a very tiny amount and started with washer and dryer area and then used up the rest. I let it cure and then sealed it, it dried and now I have a washer and dryer!

We tiled for the first time in Sc in 2004. Thats some time ago, and I wasnt professional at it taht time! I was a little nervous about starting this task alone. I cut the backerboard and laid it out, and then we put that down. Yet I was still nervous about starting/messing up the tile all alone. So we started together, but that meant waiting for the weekend as Frank has been working late. I now feel very confident about tiling alone, it isnt hard, it is just tedious. I like tile, I prefer it over any other flooring. I would do the whole house in tile if Frank would let me! Just kidding... wood floors are nice in living rooms and bedrooms.

So this job stalled to go onto the next job, we needed the kids bathroom up and running. Will blog the progress there next and yes, I know its not normal to have half remodeled rooms and move to another room. But hey, its our world right? And here, we are not in a hurry to move or sell like we were in Sc and that is so freeing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tiling so far

That is the laundry room/bathroom from 2 angles. We are tiling it, its pretty slow going because of a number of small things. We spent a day prepping the room, we moved things out and cleaned the floor and then, get this, someone used CARPET as molding! We had to rip this from the undersides of all of the cabinets you see in the laundry room and the row in the bathroom. Some drywall had to come out altogehter, all wood molding from the rest of the room removed carefully for reuse (that stuff is expensive!), and pulling up the toilet. So that was day one. We also cut a couple of pieces of backerboard. This is something that many people choose not to use, but all tiling books and sites say use it or have problems in a few years, I am happy to use it! I thought backerboard and hardiboard were the same thing but my friend Amanda says they are different. Perhaps hardi is a brand, bc our backerboard says hardi on it. We used the same thing for our tile job in Sc, its a lot like drwall only is like dry cement instead of plaster and it has the paper/carboard like outer that can be cut with a razor knife. Years ago cement board was used instead, it is heavy and harder to cut but some older professional tilers love it and swear by it! I dont want to cut that type...
I spent a day cutting almost all of the backerboard, and test fitting it. We then spent a day laying thinset morter under the backerboard and screwing it down with tile screws. Since then we have spent some evenings laying the tile. Some of the cuts are much harder than I would like, which my husband knew would occur by laying the tile diagonally. I still prefer the way it looks and it doesnt take much longer.
I will be happy when this job is done because I want my washing machine back! Washing by hand builds great muscles but I was happy with my current muscles! I didnt want to grow larger ones.

New Creations

Yes I know any kid can make stuff up, but sometimes my kids have more time to make up new creations. Tad loves his bow and arrows and he is a good shot. He makes his own targets and sets them up, and shoots at them for hours. Here was a problem though, he didnt have a good place to store the arrows, no good way to carry them when walking or stalking. So he created.

This is a sheath. It is cardboard, 3 sided and stapled together. It has a bottom but no top, and he used camo fabric to hot glue around it. He would have sewn it, but 2 of the 3 sewing machines were waiting on me to service them...

The compound bow, he and Nathalie each have one and he uses both of them. She has little interest in this. He made a strap for his sheath, and I do not know how he adhered it to the sheath but it worked.

Here he is taking a picture, which he set up with the afgan. Not sure why, does it show up better or something? I mean it is camo... He used a tape roll to secure the extra arrows. He is taking a photo with the house/kids cell to send to his best friend in Sc.
So thats all the creativity I have to show today, Nathalie is making valentines cards on her school break right now. She enjoys art and it isnt a class for her. Many of her breaks are filled cutting, drawing and gluing. She wondered why anyone would buy valentines cards, kind of like my kids wonder why people would buy milk or eggs if these things could occur on their own land?


I dont have any new pictures, but I find this one cute! My nephew, Nika, was getting around at christmas time. I wont be surprised if he is now walking! His motor skills are, well, above average right up there with his level of cuteness, I am afraid (my poor children...) he may be the cutest baby I have seen in my life! Okay fine my kids were super cute babies also, its just that, well, I mean... Well his dad is Thai. Wait, he was adopted by a Swedish family so he is Swedish but he was born in Thailand so he looks oriental though he sounds Swedish. Okay so my sister is caucasion and the blend! Oh the blend is so CUTE! He is cute and brown like a little toasted almond... Just want to squeeze him!
Back to the subject, he was climbing here, on the laundry basket that Tad was under. He was pleased by the laughing and not alarmed by the moving basket. In some photos during this couple of moments, he looked back at my sister like, "Hey! Mom, let go my overalls I have this under control!" He was so adorable... Tad was kind enough to give the camera a little waivie to let us know he was still alive!
Tad is better today, was better yesterday and oh my he was bouncy! He made up for one day of feelin' punk for sure. I dont think he sat down all day, and it was 17 deg with a windchill factor of icy cold so other than chores he didnt spend much time outdoors. So his bounce was done INDOORS. This coupled with NOT talking to his best friend made him a bit, um, well he was fun per se but I did want to kick him once or five times.
Anyways, we are laying tile, doing school, violin lessons, teeth cleaning appt for T that I must NOT miss, cooking, cleaning house and hopefully sewing today!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Making home

My poor boy child is sick, he was crabby yesterday and we didnt know why. During the night, his throat and head hurt and his stomach was sick. No vomiting, just feeling cruddy. At one point while squatting on a cold bathroom floor I asked him, do you feel sick when you are lying down? No he answers, only when I am walking. So at 2 am what possessed you to walk? Oh I woke up feeling sick. You were not laying still? Huh? Mama I feel sickly... Okay baby.

He is now awake, at nearly 10 am and is in the recliner. How do you feel baby? I ask. Poopy is his only answer. Okay then. He is flushed but no fever and he looks like microwaved death.

Nathalie however, is full of usual happiness and bounce and isnt at all sickly. So I have a day of homeschooling one, caring for the other, chores, tiling the laundry room, cooking and sewing. I hope whatever my poor boy has isnt going to be catchy! Frank has had a cold for a couple of days and I assume that is whats bothering Tad, it affected Franks head also. Made him feel stuffy and headachy and his throat was sore.

And now I am off to mix doughnut batter that must refridgerate overnight! Happy homemaking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homeschool Humor

My son's journal today, the assignment was write about anything you want.

One day, there was a blacksmith. He worked for the king. The king never gave the blacksmith a break. So one night the blacksmith snuck out and cut the king's head off.

Now I hate to psychoanalyze this, but am I the king and he the blacksmith??? Am I in mortal peril here for not giving enough breaks?

Nathalie's journal entry was slightly different.

One day a cat went to the store. First she bought her son a hat. Next she bought her daughter a doll. Then she bought herself a necklace.

I dont know what it is with the end part in all caps. Nathalie initially spelled daughter, dodr. I guess that makes sense... She spelled necklace neclis and when I corrected her she argued kindly, "No mama, not lace for her neck, a NECLIS! Like jewluhry?" I love the way she says jewelry. She spelled bought as bot and I told her that was a type of parasite so she quickly erased it and didnt argue with my new spelling. Tad mispelled very little which was because he paid attention. We think he is just a horrible speller but mostly he rushes. He will put an e where an i obviously belongs as in kell for kill. It makes no sense...

My children are on break right now. And I am letting them have 15 min MORE than normal, just in case.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cast Iron

I have posted this recipe here today, corn dog muffins. It is one batch of corn bread, mix up the dry and add chopped hot dogs (aprox 2 per batch) into the mix. Then add the egg/milk/oil and mix quickly, do not overmix. I have cooked these with egg replacer and the rise is nowhere near as good. I do recommend egg and I use whole milk as well. Cast iron is the next ingredient, I preheat my pans while I mix. Then I put a tiny slice of real butter in each little space (that I am using, I didnt use all of the triangles of the 2nd pan) and then quickly put 1/3 cup of batter in each. It sizzles and browns imediately and bakes so well! They rise high in the first couple of minutes of baking time.

I grew up using cast iron and making corn bread. However, I never made the two together. I used a cast iron skillet for a lot of foods, and we ate a lot of cornbread. Cornbread and beans, cornbread and cabbage, cornbread and molassas... Good southern food! I recently tried the cast iron for cornbread and was amazed at the difference!

These corndog muffins make a great lunch and are easy to reheat. I freeze the extras in a ziplock bag and keep them for later.