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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Menu Plan: February 27 - March 5

With only a week and a half before Lent is completely underway, we are eating up many treats that we won't see for some time. We're still working out way into eating completely meatless except for Sundays during Lent, so this year, we'll be observing the meat fast on Mondays and Saturdays as well as the normal Wednesday and Friday fast.

We have another countdown as well: Amira is counting down the days to her birthday. And telling us what she wants.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

Bought:

Bacon

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekly Recipes: February 26

English Muffins

So, I found this recipe online, changed it a bunch and made it a lot of different times and ways and here is what I've finally come up with and like the best.

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup softened butter + more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
cornmeal or semolina

Mix together water, milk, honey and salt. Add 2 cups flour and yeast. Mix until you have a loose batter. Cover and let rise for about an hour. Add butter and remaining flour. Mix well and let rise again for about an hour. Sprinkle in baking soda and mix well.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Roll dough out on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina until dough is about 1/2 an inch thick. Cut out with a biscuit cutter or glass to make circles. Melt butter in pan and fry until muffins and browned and puffy. Turn once and cook on the other side. Repeat until all muffins are cooked.

Eat hot or cool and eat. Split with a fork and spread with something delicious.




Blackberry Cobbler


We're not in blackberry season yet (and out here, there isn't the abundance of blackberries we had west of the Cascades), but if you have some in the freezer, you can still make this. You don't even have to thaw the berries.

12 cups blackberries
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your blackberries are - unless we froze them ourselves, I use the one cup when using frozen)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon (if you can get your hands on Ceylon cinnamon, use that)

3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
vanilla sugar to sprinkle over top

Use a huge pan. I use an 11 X 15 inch pan. I mix the berries, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon all in the pan, there is no need for another bowl.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F while you make the biscuit cobblestones for the top.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Rub butter pieces into flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with pea to lima bean sized bits of butter coated in flour dispersed throughout. Stir in buttermilk and knead slightly to form a cohesive dough. Pat out on a floured surface to about 1/2 an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut the dough into cobbles, reshaping dough as necessary, but handling as little as possible. Layer the cobbles over the blackberries and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until cobbles are browned and risen and the blackberries are bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or chantilly cream.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

FO: Amira's Socks



Amira wanted them finished by the time she was out of the shower last night. Sadly, that was not to be. However, they were finished before the night was through. This morning, when I showed her the finished socks, she immediately put them on and we took some photos. The one above is with her jeans hiked up to show off her socks. This next one was with her sitting with toes pointed, little ballerina she is.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Plan: February 20 - February 26

We are now in the weeks counting down to Lent. It's been a longer break between Christmas and Lent this year than it has been in the recent past. We're still whittling down our freezer and pantry. We're working on defrosting and reorganizing our freezers as well. We used to have an inventory of everything that was in each freezer, but let that lapse after we moved. I've been meaning to get that taken care of for a longer time than I'd care to admit. So, in the next couple weekends, we plan on tackling that, along with more work getting the garden ready. It's butchering time, too. So, things are just a little busy here.

Amira is busy counting down to her birthday, which is the second day of Lent. Her birthday is the last possible date for Ash Wednesday in any year. However, she has figured that in two years her birthday will fall on a Sunday so everyone will be able to break the fast with her. Elijah's birthday is already a feast day and there is a party scheduled for that day this year with our homeschool co-op, so he'll get that, too.

Since Rich actually has Monday off, we will be having a bigger family breakfast. He so rarely gets to eat a real breakfast anyway, let alone with us. It's usually something he packs to eat at some point at work. He's also been pretty sick with a cold this past week, so having a three day weekend to recuperate was not a bad thing. We haven't gotten a lot of the things we wanted to do finished this weekend, but all of us who were fighting the cold or who had it, got a lot of rest and fresh air.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

Bought:

Blackberries (frozen from Azure Standard)
Mozzarella
Milk

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekly Recipes: February 19

Here are two recipes that I didn't even promise! Both are simple, delicious Italian food. Both are almost entirely about good, simple ingredients and technique. Neither are difficult to make and both are absolutely heavenly.

Bolognese Sauce

This is what Chef Boyardee wishes it could be. It's what he wants to be when he grows up. The bonus is that you can make this in larger quantities and freeze the excess, so you have the benefit of the convenience while still having good, homemade food.

I got this recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I love Marcella Hazan. You can never go wrong using her recipes. I modified this very, very slightly and only to accommodate what we usually have at home. We double this recipe to feed our family.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
1 pound ground beef chuck or veal
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine (chicken broth can be used in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice
1 1/2 pounds pasta (preferably spaghetti), cooked and drained
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table

Put oil, 4 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy bottomed pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add about 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and stir.

Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the slowest simmer you can manage.

Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you might find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup water as necessary (I use the pasta water, rinsing the can of tomatoes with it before putting it in the sauce). At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side


Crab Linguine with Lemon Cream Sauce

This is my recreation of the dinner Rich and I had in Leavenworth. The restaurant very generously gave me the ingredient list and basic method and I worked out the rest to make for our anniversary. It is quick and easy to make. It is all about the ingredients. And it is delicious. This is a big treat for us, because we no longer live where crab is easily and inexpensively gotten. This serves four easily as a main course. More, if the people aren't so greedily hungry for crab.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups heavy cream (get the least pasteurized, without thickeners if you can manage it, cream)
juice and zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
1 pound Dungeness crab meat (you can use whatever crab meat you like, but we strongly prefer Dungeness)

Cook linguine in heavily salted, boiling water.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Stir in the heavy cream and heat until it bubbles a little and starts to thicken. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and juice along with the salt and pepper and stir to mix. You don't want the cream to boil or burn, so watch well, stir frequently and reduce heat if necessary.

Drain pasta and add to the pot with the lemon cream. Stir to coat. Add crab meat and mix just to heat the crab. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as you like. Serve immediately. Swoon. Use your bread to sop up the remaining sauce. Or just spoon it up like cream soup. It is that good.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Plan: February 13 - February 19

Some of our meals were changed last week with some schedule changes. We had a funeral on Saturday, so our day wasn't as free as it would have been otherwise. Friday was a very tiring day, so I switched gears to breakfast for dinner, made biscuits, hash and fried eggs because Rich so rarely gets to have breakfast with us, and he ended up with a semi-emergency that brought him home just before midnight.

Rich and I are going to get to celebrate Valentine's Day a little later this week with a crab dinner. We are always so desperate for good seafood around here, so this is a real treat for us. As St. Valentine was martyred for his work marrying Christians against the will of the emperor, it really is only a romantic holiday for married couples. The other major saints who share his feast day are Sts. Cyril and Methodius and we will be teaching on them with our children.
What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

Bought:

Corn Tortillas
Oranges
Rutabagas
Olives

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Goodness of God



I won all of this from Kat at A Good Appetite and the California Fig Advisory Board. In the package were about 12 pounds of Calmyrna and Black Mission figs, a t-shirt, a big market bag, a calendar with recipes, some promotional material, information and more recipes.

A little over a month ago, a neighbor brought over about 50 pounds each of some extra potatoes and onions he had. It's nice living in farm land.

Yesterday, our Fred Meyer rewards came which will give us about $85.27 in free groceries, plus 40% off of two items of clothing for men, women or children. Also in yesterday's mail were several coupons for diaper supplies.

I list all of these things because when we bought our big van, we decided to keep my mini-van, since I prefer driving it, instead of trading it in or selling it to buy the new van. This meant that, for the first time since we've been married, we had a loan for a car. It was a relatively small loan, but it meant an extra monthly payment nonetheless. We were determined not to get a loan, but between the uniqueness of this van (it had doors on both sides, like our minivan) and its necessity for our family and the fact that after we went to take a look and test drive, they called us with an offer that was about $6000 lower than they initially asked and which was lower than the blue book value, we decided to tighten our belts and get the loan and make an effort to pay it off as early as we can. We really don't like having debt on anything but our house, but we couldn't take trips together as a family without this van. Even to church. We would have needed to take two vehicles.

So, as we determined to buy as little as possible and use up the generous riches of our freezer and pantry, we found that God provided little extras for us anyway. We won't be buying potatoes or onions for quite a while. We have figs to last us for some time (if we don't eat them all up standing in the kitchen, because they taste so good). We also have enough rewards money that we can cover quite a bit more than we had been planning for this month's groceries without actually using our own money.

One of the great things we have learned is to look for God's blessing and provision. Here are three examples of Him blessing us with plenty while we were planning to live on less. It is a good lesson on God's generosity and grace for us and for our children.

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Menu Plan: February 6 - February 12

I actually managed to avoid buying the three things on my list last week. I'm still trying to get a hold of the folks who sell our apples and pears, but I made do with what we had and worked with what was already in our pantry or freezers. I'm going to have to make a trip to the store at the end of the week, though, to get some cheese and fresh produce for the next week and I'll be getting a few supplies when I pick up our milk.
What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

Bought:

Milk

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Weekly Recipe: February 5

Coconut Sugar Cake

I came up with this recipe after making some coconut sweet rolls and a German sugar cake. I decided to kind of merge the recipes and came up with this. We brought it to church for coffee hour once and all the youth demanded we share the recipe with their families. Once, we made it for coffee hour when my inlaws were visiting and we all ended up sick and not going to church. Rich and I ate nearly all of the two cakes ourselves that day. We saved one piece each for everyone else in the house. It is that good.

Dough:

1 cup coconut milk (not coco lopez or other sweetened, thickened coconut cream products)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried coconut flakes (I buy the Bob's Red Mill dried unsweetened coconut)
4 cups white bread flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Put in bread machine and set to dough cycle. When machine beeps, take
out the dough and divide it in half.

Grease two 9" or 10" pans (I use stoneware pans, and don't grease
them). Preheat oven to 350 F.

Roll each half of dough to fit pans. Place dough in pans and cover and
let rise for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.

Topping:

2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

With two fingers, punch deep holes all over dough. Sprinkle sugar
evenly over dough, drizzle cream evenly on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes
until tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Serve warm, or room
temperature.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Look at Me! I'm a Elf!

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