Monday, July 25, 2011

A Legacy of Love

Several posts ago I mentioned that we had traveled to Colorado for a very special family milestone.

Husband's grandparents were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.  I have to admit that I get a little choked up just thinking about it.  They are an amazing couple and I look forward to telling my children about how their great-grandparents loved so well.

Not long ago we celebrated Grandma Great's (that's how we refer to them to our children) birthday.  Their children had arranged for an a capella group to sing.  They picked one particular song, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and it took the grandparents back to the days of their courtship.  Grandpa Great had his arm around his bride and tears came to his eyes as he thought on the days gone by and where life had taken them. It was a moment that not many would forget.

So, we fast forward to the celebration of their anniversary and the above moment is etched forever in my memory.  I dwell on it often.  My own grandparents didn't show love like this.  However, my own grandparents didn't love Jesus like this.  I shared with Husband's grandparents what it meant to watch them love Jesus well and in turn to love each other and their family well.  They, indeed, were leaving a Legacy of Love for generations to come.  Their daughters all married and have had long and prosperous marriages.  Their daughters love Jesus.  In turn, many of their grandchildren have married and are showing hearts that are turned to Christ.  While none of the great-grandchildren are quite old enough to be married hearts are tuned to Jesus has done in the life of their family.  It's an amazing thing to see and to be a small part of such a larger family.

When I see Grandma and Grandpa they are not holed up 90-somethings that are bitter at life and only deal with their spouse because they have too.  No, they still attend church, the play cards, and like to be social.  I am pretty sure they have a bigger social circle than I do at the moment.  HA HA!!  I also see a man who still very much loves and cares for his wife and a woman who respects her husband.

This is the kind of legacy that I want to leave my children, grandchildren, and great-grand children.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Foaming Soap Recipe

I like foaming soap.  I am not sure why but I do.  We use a popular name brand foaming soap when washing baby bottles or a quick scrubbing of a needed pan.  THAT gets a little expensive.  So, I searched for recipes from people who are more adventurous than I am in trying to DIY household goods.

I originally found a recipe at iDreamofClean and tried that out.  She says to use about 1/8 of a cup of regular dish soap and the rest of the foaming soap container with water.

I tired this combo and felt like it was still a little too watered-down for my taste.  So, I increased the mount of soap and it was a little better but still not exactly what I was wanting as far as a dish soap goes.  I may try increasing the soap again or I will go back to using the regular name brand recipe for bottles and the homemade stuff quick dishes, etc.  Maybe I have just become a soap snob in that respect.

However, this combo, I believe, is PERFECT for hand soap.  I read another article somewhere about using Dr. Bronner's soap for this very purpose.  Well, wouldn't you know we have a bottle of that stuff sitting around waiting to be used.  So, that will be my money saver for the week (month, and maybe the year!)  I am sure that I will need to work out the ratio a bit for that but I did read that a 4:1 ratio is good (water to soap).

I know that you can buy refillable dispensers but I really like how Method has designed their soap bottles in that a) they don't tip over very easily and b) they have the best design as far as getting all the soap out of the bottle (and that goes for their "regular" hand soap as well.)  So, I think that I will be heading to the store soon to buy some foaming soap and when they run out then out will come the Dr. Bronner's.  Yippee!

Other options to try are doing this with your little ones bath soap if they have a thing for using a lot of soap.  It will make it go a little farther if they like to play with the soap.  Miss L is one of these people so I will be trying this out with her at some point.

One thing to remember though, don't use soaps that are "creamy" as they do not infuse well with air to make the foam and will clog your dispenser.  I didn't do this but I have read about a LOT of people that have.

Have you made your own foaming soap?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ham Fried Rice

I have been meaning to post this recipe for awhile now.  By that I mean probably about two week after Easter when I made this with left over ham.  I think you could substitute the meat protein with whatever floats your boat, including tofu (blech).  Sorry if you are a tofu fan -- I am so not there.  I found the base recipe on but have made some adjustments to make it my own.

However, I did learn why sometimes when I have tried to do this recipe it always came out funny.  It was because I would use freshly cooked rice that was still warm.  The trick is to start with your rice cold.  The rice doesn't get mushy and holds the texture well.  So, there's your tip for the day.

Ham Fried Rice

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 C cold cooked rice
1 carrot chopped
1 C peas
1/4 C corn (optional - or add more if you like)
1 1/3 C diced fully cooked ham
1 tsp garlic powder (you can add more if you like)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
dash of pepper
1 dash chili pepper (as you like for your family)
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

In a skillet, cook and stir eggs in oil over medium heat until eggs are completely set.  Remove and set aside.  Add carrot, cook for a couple of minutes.  Add corn and peas.  Cook until carrots are just soft.  Toss in the rice, ham, garlic powder, ginger, pepper, and chili until heated through.  Add the soy sauce and worcestershire sauce and reserved eggs..  Stir well.  Serve immediately.

This stuff went fast in our house!  Was a hit with tiny mouths :)  

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Confession time.

I have some OLD spice in my spice rack.  I think I have a hard time with "wasting" them and throwing them away.


The reality is the fact that they are old is a waste and does nothing to help me in seasoning my food with tasteless herbs.  Ultimately, my "no waste" mantra is a waste.  A waste of time and energy to make my food taste good!

I need to go through my stash and toss what I know is waaaaayyyy old -- as in I brought this into our marriage almost five years ago and I am pretty sure I had it for quite some time before that!

I found Still Tasty as a helpful resource.  It addresses all sorts of issues on shelf life including how to and how long to keep spices among other things.

I have a spice rack like the one that is pictured above.  I think that I am going to get rid of it.  While I like that I have a few spices near my stove the heat compromises the integrity of the spices and it takes up room that I could use other wise.  While I love the family that gave it to us for our wedding I found that it's not something that really fits how I want the flow of things anymore.  I think that's okay and sentiment should not hold me in bondage!  HA HA HA!!

I read that the light can compromise spices, too.  So, I like that they will all live in my pantry.  I will need to restock some basic spices.  I have looked around to see what different places suggest as a "basic" spice to have in any spice rack.  I have my own thoughts based on what we use the most.

What are your basic spice rack must haves???

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Menu Plan Wednesday

Well, part of getting back into a routine is starting to plan meals again.  It's still a bit of a challenge as some things sounds really good to me and then other things sound super horrible.  Or they require more time in the kitchen than I care to spend right now because I am tired by that time of day.  Also, I haven't had morning sickness but rather afternoon sickness -- which has its own set of pros and cons.  Either way, I have a husband and children that need to eat.  I guess I should probably eat, too.  HA!  So, needless to say this is all very tentative.

Fish Tacos
Warm Lentil Salad with Sausage (a new recipe we are trying)
Baked Spaghetti
40 Clove Chicken w/ Mashed Potatoes
Chicken with pasta salad
Minestrone Soup
Chicken with Bulgar & Spinach

We will be spending one evening with friends so that will be fun!  I know I have put the 40 clove (garlic) Chicken on here several times before.  Honestly, it turned into my back up meal.  I have yet to make it!  I kind of put it off because I couldn't find the exact recipe I was looking for.  A friend made it for as a "welcome baby" meal and I had misplaced her recipe.  But found it!  I can hardly wait.  However, I will need Husband to help me deal with the whole chicken, though.

Yes, I know it's the middle of summer and I have planned minestrone soup.  I pulled out the recipe and it just sounded good.  It's kind of a big deal since vegetables have kind of been eradicated from our menu the last month or so because I cannot stand the smell of cooked veggies right now (an aversion that I also had while pregnant with Miss A.)  It's probably time for a good dose of veggies all around.  Not to say that we haven't had raw veggies.  ha ha!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chicken Stock

Needless to say, there are many things that some women who are expecting do not want to talk about or think about early on.  For me, one of those things really anything having to do with a whole chicken.  Then I realized that cooking that left savory smells in my house for too long was a recipe for a gag fest.  As you can see, cooking of much really did a number on my sense of smell (which is on bloodhound level) and ultimately my stomach.  However, I am glad to say that I think we are on the up and up in that area.  But there are some things that I am not really ready to return to making and unfortunately one of those things is chicken stock.

I have learned to love making my own chicken stock.  I made my first batch about a year or so ago and I think I used too much water.  It still turned out well but not as rich as I have heard from others.  Then I   ccsw1ry with leaves, etc.  However, a friend recommended to me about putting in almost withered veggies in there, too.  Like spinach or anything else that I can find in my produce bin.  However, if I know that it's going to be awhile before I make stock I will throw my veggie extras in a ziploc bag and freeze them until I am ready.  Easy-peasy.

So, I throw my chicken/turkey carcass in the crock pot, cover with veggies, add some garlic and pepper to season, a bay leaf, and enough water to cover the carcass (about 6 to 8 cups depending on the size of your crock pot.)  I turn my pot on low and set the timer for 12 hours.  Generally, I just let it go over night and we are good to go in the morning.

While Squawkfox recommends putting the stock in the fridge after straining to let the fat coagulate, my mother-in-law has a handy little tool called a fat separator.  I don't know HOW it works but I do KNOW that it gets the job done.  If you don't want to wait the eight hours for the fat to separate this will make quick work of the task for you.

For storage, I pour my chicken stock into ice cube trays and once they are frozen I pop them out and put them in a ziploc storage bag.  The cubes equal about 1 oz of liquid.  Maybe a little less.  So, when I need them I put some in a microwaveable measuring cup and melt them.  You can use a pot and stove just as easy, too.  Whatever your preference.

If for some reason you will not be able to pop your cubes out for awhile wrap them up in plastic wrap to keep them from "drying" out.  Trust me, it can and will happen.  ha!

There are other storage options but this is my preferred method so I can generally just grab what I need for easy use.

Sometimes I don't even want to think about making stock after making a meal and dealing with cleaning a chicken.  I just throw the carcass in a ziploc or other freezer safe container and freeze it until I am ready to make stock.  It just takes the pressure off to prepare the meal and then get everything together for stock.

Hopefully, I will be up for making stock again soon.  But I may stick my pot outside so as to avoid the smell in my house.  It's a good smell in general.  It's just not a good smell to my pregnant frame at this time.  Such is life.

The crock pot method made a LOVELY stock rich in color and flavor.  I no longer find myself in a quandry needing stock at the last minute and I can flavor up just about anything by using it instead of water -- stuffing, rice, bulgar, quinoa, etc.  I look forward to making some soups this winter with it, too!  YUM!!  I also get a lot more bang for my buck.  My chicken is usually about $5 -- we will get a couple of meals out of it plus more stock than I could ever buy for $5.  Gotta LOVE the savings!!  (And you have to love the reduced salt, fat, and no MSG!)

Thoughts or tips on making stock???