Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ka-blooey



Right now, my kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it. It's a disaster-zone.

Currently:

~Cracked Wheat Dinner Rolls for the harvest/Reformation potluck at church tomorrow - rising

~Pickled jalapenos - waiting to be labled and put away

~Hard cider - brewing

~Cider vinegar, some awesome, some smelling vomitous, from last year - needing to be bottled/dumped accordingly

~Apple pie, also for potluck - baked

~Dishes - piling up

~Cyser "must" - waiting for more shaking to dissolve the honey

~Tomatoes - in various stages of ripeness and needing... something

~A box of buttercup squash - needing to find a place to live

~Jonah's bowl of potato salad from lunch - wasted

~A bowl of whey from draining yogurt - hanging around until I get around to dumping it on the garden

~Pecan cinnamon rolls, made by a dear friend who visited me yesterday - calling my name

~A gallon jar of raw, unfiltered honey from my next door Amish neighbors - sticky

~Two gallons of sauerkraut - fermenting

~A heaping bucket of compost - waiting for a certain boy to carry it out to the pile

~A bucket of jerusalem artichoke tubers - dug yesterday and needing to be taken to the root cellar

~Leftover Bierochs - for supper

~A cute little person in an ugly little chair - watching my every move and trying to get my attention with smiles and coos




Did I mention the mess? I'm trying to ignore it.

Sweetness

We been listening to the Kid's Folk music station on Pandora lately. As far as kid's music goes, this stuff is gold! I reallyreallyreally despise smarmy, repetitive, inane songs billed for kids. Children do not need dumbed-down music. The songs on this station are fun, silly, complex and just plain enjoyable.

Through this station I've discovered Woody Guthrie. His children's songs are really pretty great! I'm quite certain that only a father could write those kind of songs, because they just ring so true. We really like this one, and sing it to Evan all the time:







(I was a little confused about the whole "This Machine Kills Fascists" image at the beginning, until I looked him up on Wikipedia and found that he had that on his guitar. Oooookay.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Microbial Harvest




I think I've said here before that my food passion lies in fermentation. Oh, the wonders that microbes perform on ordinary food!







At any one time in my kitchen you can usually find various fermented vegetables, sourdough, many permutations of cultured milk (we're currently addicted to "greek style" goat milk yogurt), kombucha, water/juice kefir, cheese, and homebrew.





I had to buy some cabbages this year because mine did poorly in the garden. We had piles of green beans, so I lacto-pickled lots of those (literally gallons), and while those are my favorite pickle, we just couldn't do without some kraut. (Ooops, my German roots are showing... not that we ate it growing up or anything, but it must be in my blood-- kraut and beer!)

So I bought a half-dozen cabbages from a near-by farmer. Who, incidentally, I will probably not patronize again. I asked her if she sprayed her cabbages (like I didn't already know the answer...). "Yup" she answered, "everybody does." I knew that. I asked what she used. "Same stuff the organic people use." she said, curtly. "The government's always changing the organic standards. There are all kinds of sprays on organics." Grrr. She wasn't really being mean, exactly, but she was totally talking down to me. Okay, lady, I get that you have issues with organic labling, and heck, so do I. But you're not going to solve any problems by being condescending about it. I think she pretty much assumes that I was just an uninformed city-slicker who had bought into the organic hype. As it happens, I have a particular interest in agriculture (not that I know much, but I think I know a few things...). I honestly don't care if something is "organic" according to government-imposed standards, I just don't want chemicals and GMOs in my food. I'd honestly rather buy from conscientious local producers who do the best they can than from government-regulated organic producers.

Um... I probably had better arrest this rabbit-trail before I get into a tirade...

Anyway, I bought the cabbages, because it's next to impossible to get unsprayed stuff around here, and the kraut was calling to me. But I kinda wish I had engaged her on the subject (but we were in a hurry) and I probably won't go back.




Okay. Aaaaaanyhoodle.

Point is, I have lots of fermenty things going on right now.





Yesterday, Nathan and Jonah went to an Amish neighbor's cider pressing. They had a trailer-load of apples and to press in their giant press, so my guys went to procure some cider for us. For 30 bucks we got 15 gallons of fresh, raw cider, and a big box of apples. I spent the afternoon starting hard cider and vinegar.





I don't have enough airlocks for all my bottles, so I use balloons. This gives the added entertainment of watching the balloons inflate by the sheer power of yeastie beasties. As I type this, the balloons are huge, even after being vented a couple of times today. I think, though, that I'd like to get my hands on some better equipment eventually (though you can't beat this for economy! Those jugs were all free, so I've spent next to nothing on equipment.). I'm thinking I really should go over to a bucket-fermenter system, and it'd be nice to measure alcohol content as well.

I figure that in a few weeks I'll be bottling 26-28 pints of hard cider for a total cost about about $12. Maybe even $10. That is WAY cheaper than beer. And my husband is very happy with the prospect of cheap, high-quality booze.

I've got some cider in the freezer, and more in the spare fridge to deal with yet. I think I'm going to do some cider kefir and I'd like to experiment with cyser-- apple mead made by adding honey and yeast to raw cider and fermenting. Sounds yummy to me!

Needless to say, I do have fun.

Evan, however, got a little bored with all my fermenting yesterday, and konked out on the floor.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hundred

Jonah is obsessed with 100. He recently figured out how to count that high (and beyond!) and he does it daily, at least. I gave him a chart that has the numbers (in a 10x10 grid) from 1 to 100 and he played with it about half the day today.

While doing the dishes, I overheard this little exchange:

Jonah: "Daddy, when I get to be 100, you guys will have to give me 100 cupcakes!"

Daddy, laughing: "Jonah, if you live to be 100, we'll be long gone by then. And you'll be a grown man."

Jonah, stunned: "I'll be grown up?"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

After Church

They may be a bit disheveled...


...but they are boys, after all...



And they're still mighty cute in their Sunday clothes!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Swirley



Evan has a double hair swirley! Now that he's growing hair, you can actually see it!






It makes his hair stick up perpetually, like a little mini-mohawk.

Buh-buh-buh ba-yad...





It's downright adorable now, but I bet I'm gonna hate cutting his hair in a few years...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Of Things That Do Not Taste Good to Me

I have a short list of foods I do not like. Note, this is a very short list, because I love food and pretty much like everything I encounter. I've been this way since I was a child, and the foods I can't abide have also remained the same since childhood.

I don't care for celery, thought I have tried. I think it's the only vegetable I've ever tried that I just don't like. I can't seem to do anything about it. My Mom always cooked with it, and I pretty much always ate it, but only because it was part of the dish and I didn't want to be insulting by picking through my food. Now, I never buy it, grow it, or cook with it. I just don't see a reason for it's existence.

I wish I could like shrimp, because everyone seems to enjoy it so much. Here again, I've tried, and I just can't seem to get the stuff down my hatch. It won't go. It's the texture, I'm pretty sure.

I like the idea of olives, but again, no luck. They don't appeal to me. I eat them if they happen to be in something, but it's pretty much the same story as celery. Sad, I know.

Then there's the class of things I call “hoi foods”. “Hoi” because the chewing thereof makes me go “hhhhhhooooiiiiiii”. These are mainly black licorice and caraway seed.

Caraway seed is probably the most offensive food on my list of Things Which I Do Not Care For. It assaults my senses so utterly that I shudder even at the thought of it. In fact, before I knew caraway by it's flavor only and didn't even know it was a spice, I thought that the flavor came from rye because I always tasted it in rye bread. Up until just recently, I thought I abhorred rye bread, until I learned that it is usually made with caraway seed added. I found that I can greatly enjoy a good rye loaf-- without the caraway.

I tell you all this, not to make myself look like even more of a weirdo, but rather in order to relate a story that I thought of tonight while I was cooking supper.

When I was little, my family used to, on very rare occasion, order pizza from a local restaurant. This pizza joint also happened to be a "playhouse theater", which was kinda like Chuck E. Cheese, but slightly more upscale and with live entertainment. And on the very rarest of occasions, we actually got to go there, which, of course, was our day-to-day childhood dream.

We loved this place because it was just so dang much fun, though I can only imagine now how my parents dreaded the money flying out of their wallets in every direction just by entering the building. But eventually, my enthusiasm for the place was dampened because of... their pizza.

There was just something strange about that pizza. I remember the first time I encountered it. I'm not sure how old I was, 6, 7, 8? I don't know. Maybe they had just changed their sauce, or something. We were having their pizza at home and I took a bite and, oh, I remember it so vividly... I gagged, I choked. I said something tasted funny. I think my parents took this somewhat seriously because I didn't usually complain about food. But no one else tasted anything amiss. But oh, it was gross to me. There was this completely repulsive flavor and I didn't know what it was. It was just awful. I couldn't describe it because I had never encountered such a horror before. I knew it had something to do with the sauce, and I tried so hard to articulate it. I think my parents eventually decided I was just being oversensitive or something. I remember being very upset because I liked pizza so much, but I just couldn't stand this stuff. From then on, I would ask where the pizza came from, and my little child's heart would sink just a little if I heard it was from that particular place. I would resign myself to being hungry, or choke down just enough to keep my tummy from grumbling too much.

So now, as an adult, I have finally identified what it was in that sauce that so repulsed me --See, Mom and Dad? I wasn't crazy!-- because it repulses me still to this day.

It was caraway.

Who puts caraway in pizza sauce?

Shudder.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Camoflage





Do you see the babies in these pictures?







No one here but us duckies!



(The second picture was taken back in the ice age before I had a digital camera and blog. I was using this horrendous cheapo digital thing to email the occasional photos to the grandparents. Excuse the complete lack of quality. No idea why I didn't bother to take the same photo with my very good film camera as well...)

(Oh, also note that Jonah was older when he was wearing that same outfit. Evan seems to be very long-bodied and I can hardly even snap the crotch already!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Falling

It is fall.




You can tell by all the leaves everywhere.





So we took a walk to soak it all up before it's all gone.





Sometimes we danced.





But not Evan.






He rode.





I love fall.





Except when I remember that it inevitably leads to winter.






Which I don't care for.





At all.





But for now I'll enjoy the harvest.




And the sunshine.






Before it's all gone.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Indian Summer Treat

Because...


...sometimes...





...you just have to indulge.

Magic, etc.

Three months. Evan turned three months old yesterday.





We're now into that golden age of baby hood. The part where he gets happier, less fussy and focused on all his intense needs. He suddenly learns that there's a whole world out there to explore and learn about and boy, is it fun! Life isn't so scary, it's great! We have a good routine to our day, and there's lots to do.

This time is fantastic, since the fun is not yet coupled with daily efforts to take over the world. That comes later.





Of course, along with that comes teething, which we already seem to be embarking upon. Not so much fun, but everyone has to do it.

As I type this, he is lying across my lap, sucking his thumb. He learned how to get that appendage to his mouth whenever he wants it, so that's that. No binky for him, it's thumbs all the way. Everyone has dire predictions for me on this count (you can't take it away! they tell me), but such is life. On the plus side, thumb-sucking makes bed-times a cinch. When I know he's tired, I lay him down in his bed. He gives a half-hearted fuss, finds his thumb and goes to sleep. Just like that.

[ETA: I sucked on two fingers until I was like 8, and well, I turned out okay, right? Right? I mean, I'm sure my 7 year old spitty hand was gross, but my teeth are fine and I did grow out of it.]




I think I have finally adjusted as well. Like I said, routine makes a world of difference. I am an awful lot busier than I was when Jonah was this age, and I feel like I'll never catch up, but I suppose I should get used to that.

One thing I may never adjust to-- shopping with kids. Yikes, that sucks. One kid is not so bad (though I have to say that Jonah has been getting more obnoxious about it ever since he stopped riding in the cart). I'm guessing that the difficulty increases exponentially with the number of children. Thankfully, I don't do it often-- I pretty much hook up the wagon and trot on into town once a month to requisition supplies. A few days ago, I was in Meijer, both boys in tow. I don't get to shop there often but I like it so much better than Wally World, so I wanted to make the best of it. The plan was that Evan would stay asleep in his carseat, but he didn't, of course. Halfway through my list, I was ready to pull out all my hair (er, what's left of it, anyway. The only -ONLY- thing I miss about pregnancy is the hair). I really need some new socks and underwear, but how in hurk am I supposed to focus long enough to choose the proper leg cut, height, size and -egads!- color when Evan needs the cart to keep moving and Jonah needs his shoe tied and mommommomwhenarewegoingtobedone?

Oh dear. And now I've ruined a perfectly nice post by talking about underwear.

Anyway, yes, Jonah can help me shop --he loves to help find things on my list and pull things off the shelf for me-- but sometimes I just need to think thankyouverymuch.

While in the toy aisle, attempting to find the perfect, but budget-friendly, birthday gift for a friend, Evan started to scream. When I picked him up only to discover that he was a mess from a leaking diaper, I grabbed an acceptable toy, abandoned the rest of my list and headed for the nearest checkout lane (through which Evan continued to scream).

No, I didn't get any socks and underwear.

As I was saying... this time is golden. As long as we stay home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Taking Notes



Jonah: "Evan, look at the Saturn 5 rocket I built!"




Evan: "Duuuuuude."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Slurp and Squoosh



Many animal mothers come equipped with an instinctive compulsion to lick their babies all over.






When the babies are first born, this licking cleans them up and stimulates them to stand up and get moving and find some milk.







As the babies grow, the mothers can keep them clean by licking them all over regularly.






It also stimulates the baby's bodily functions.






It helps their blood circulate better...







...and aids the flow of lymph.






It even gets their digestive systems going.










I may not have to lick my baby all over every day, but I sure can't seem to stay away from those chubby cheeks... Surely there is some essential biological reason for this.

Conversational

video