What a week this has been! My husband, who has been unemployed for seven months, had a week-long temporary job. I love that man dearly, but I find it hard to keep a good house with him around 24/7.
A week without him has left my house mother-in-law ready. It’s that clean.
The kitchen is scrubbed, clean (including the inside of my toaster) and completely reorganized. I feel like I have so much extra room in there now! I even tackled the top of my fridge.
I sorted through the boy’s toy baskets, tossing out all the miscellaneous “stuff” that had collected in there. Even though his baskets were suddenly much emptier, he has rediscovered all of his favourite toys and been playing with them much more often. Less is, indeed, often more.
I *coughputawaytheChristmasdecorationscough*, but we won’t talk about that. Because it’s February. And ow, my pride.
I cleaned and reorganized and tidied and cleaned some more. I have this odd desire to dance around my house now.
And the boy and I! We had so much fun.
I made a batch of playdough using a recipe a friend had given me. He played with this frequently and for nice long stretches of time, which I took full advantage of to get more cleaning done (and some web surfing…and some playdough playing…because who can resist playdoh?). I made a playdoh snowman, which the boy insisted needed a hat – so a hat was made. I give you, Cowboy Playdohman:
And Cowboy Playdohman after a few modifications done by said boy:
We played with bubbles (while Mommy washed the dishes).
We went outside! In the snow! For hours!
We walked to the produce market and picked up all sorts of wonderful fruits and veggies (and the obligatory yogurt, which the boy would eat several times a day if I let him). We tried our very first blood orange, which, though the name has always turned me off, was very good. We bought bananas, battered though they tend to be in the winter, with plans to make banana muffins in a couple days.
I hate to sound so giddy about having my darling husband out of the house for a few days – but seven months! You can’t blame a girl, really.
2 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 cup salt
2 small packages of Kool-Aid
3 tablespoons of oil
2 cups boiling water
1. Mix flour, salt, oil and kool-aid until blended
2. Add boiling water, mix with spoon until cool enough to knead, knead until colour is well mixed
3. Store in air tight container or bag in the fridge.
…and her name is Betty Crocker.
I’ve had the worst luck with cookies lately. I couldn’t figure out why – I’m not a completely inept individual, I can follow a recipe. I used to be able to make good cookies. But for months now, every time I bake them, they spread way out into flat little cookie-flavoured pancakes. It’s really no wonder we usually just eat the dough raw (yummm).
I wanted real cookies last night, so brilliant me figured it was probably time to find another recipe, since the one I was using was clearly not working for me. Fortunately, my MIL had bought me a cookbook for Christmas last year (no, I wasn’t insulted – but my husband tells me she was worried I would be!). It’s a wonderful Betty Crocker cookbook. It has so many useful things, like the basic way to cook vegetables, how to identify all sorts of different veggies and spices and whatnot, what to substitute if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, and what the problem may have been if your baking didn’t turn out quite right. So useful.
So I flipped to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, noticed that it had quite a bit more flour and one less egg than the recipe I was using (gee, you think that might have been my problem?), whipped up a batch of cookies, waited anxiously for them to finish baking…and ended up with this:
Deliciously plump chocolate chip cookies.
I won’t tell you how many of them I ate.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
2. Mix sugars, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
I have decided that this year will be the year that I learn to love fall.
I’ve never been terribly fond of it before. It’s cold and wet and chilly. The fresh berries are gone. The trees lose their leaves. Winter starts looming.
(Oh, how I detest winter.)
But no. This year I will enjoy fall. And so far I have. It was helped along by my growing interest in food and sustainability. What grows in what season? What should I look for? What are the local farmers selling now? What new in-season foods can I add to our menu? What new recipes can I try?
Last week it was apple butter and apple sauce. Nothing fancy, but I’ve never made either before so it was exciting enough for me. Tonight it was roasted butternut squash. That stuff is delicious!
I’ve also been enjoying apple cider this month. This intrigues me, as I’ve always hated apple juice. To be perfectly honest, it looks and smells like pee. Which makes me think it tastes like pee. But apple cider? YUM.
Fall also means the return of the pumpkin hat! Oh pumpkin hat, how I adore thee. (Though not nearly as much as I adore the little boy whose head you sit upon.)
Fall means carpets of leaves to wade through in the wooded area behind our house.
Why have I never properly appreciated this place before? It’s beautiful. Our own secret land to explore…
…or just to admire as we sit and contemplate.
So I’ve decided – fall isn’t so bad after all.
Perhaps next year I can work on appreciating winter too.
Peel and quarter 10 apples and place in large pot.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups apple juice
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Admire your spice rack for the umpteenth time.
Heat all ingredients to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Mash apples. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour more, stirring occasionally.
Cool for 2 hours and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (alternatively, freeze or can it). Serve with the most amazing biscuits ever. Make a mental note to thank your MIL for that Betty Crocker cookbook.
Peel and quarter 4 apples and place in crock pot.
You’ll notice mine are unpeeled. Big mistake. I’d read that they were easier to peel after they had been cooked. Again – big mistake. It didn’t even give my applesauce the nice “rosy glow” I had been promised. Next time, I peel my apples before cooking them.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Cover and cook on High for 2 hours or until apples are tender. Stir/mash/puree to desired consistency.
Store in fridge (or can it).
I’m beginning to love fall.
Next up – making pumpkin bread with that cute little pie pumpkin. Assuming I don’t change my mind and decide to make pumpkin butter instead. Or pumpkin pie. Or pumpkin cookies.
Oh, the decisions.