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I get so caught up in my head building the perfect post that I never post at all. So, I’ve become one of those bloggers. You know, the ones I despise? The ones that post about not posting? Blech.
So, in order to redress the wrongdoings, I’m going to start posting about anything that tickles my fancy, be it food, homeschooling, knitting, whatever, and I’m giving myself permission for the post to be not perfect.
Because done is better than perfect.
Once upon a time, twenty five or so years ago, my auntie gave me my very first chapter book.
Curling up on the old brown couch down in the cool lower level of my air conditioned 1980’s ranch-style house, I soon became absolutely lost in the life of little Laura Ingalls Wilder, who lived not so far from me, but removed by roughly a century, in 1867.
Throughout my childhood, I probably read through the entire series at least four times, so I am absolutely thrilled to begin reading LHitBW with my sons now. I remember being fascinated with with the food that Laura and her family worked so hard to grow or hunt, prepare and store for the winter. So far, that is what has caught my 5 year old’s attention too.
He is particularly interested in the beginning description of the deer smoking in the little smokehouse. So, being the ever adventurous mother and not having any hunters in the family, I tracked down a local game store. <ahref="Czimer’s
Czimer’s was a treat unto itself, as they had lots of interesting animal skulls and pelts to teach the kids about (alligator skulls, bear skins, etc…). I was able to purchase a pound of ground venison and a packet of hickory jerky cure.
Today, my eldest is feeling under the weather, so I prepped the marinade on my own. I was going to use the cure, but discovered it’s full of msg (should have checked that at the store, but I think I was too busy explaining to my youngest that the antlers mounted to the wall did not, in fact, belong to dinosaurs).
So, after a quick consultation with Google (seriously, what did we do before Google?), I magicked up my own marinade from liquid hickory smoke, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and a multitude of various and sundry spices.
Our “smoked” venison turned out just fine in the dehydrator, and I see plenty of projects related to our future literary adventures with Laura!
We’ve got worms!
First, a little music to set the mood. Go to Amazon: Dog On Fleas, Worms I’m a big fan of Kindie music (indie, folk and rock aimed at kids). I’m going to do a post soon on this, because no parent should have to suffer through The Wiggles.
Our box-o-worms finally came in the mail! It’s amazing what one can order from Amazon. My kids got busy cutting newspaper into long strips. I think Boy Wonder found this activity to be deeply satisfying. He cut strips for an hour, long after we had enough.
Side note: a two year old can and should use scissors. Look for scissors with a spring arm to pop them back open after each cut. Then let your little one loose on as much newspaper he or she can handle and get it out of their system. It’s great for motor skills.
Anyway, I digress. After cutting, I soaked the strips in water, wrung them out and lovingly created a little worm paradise inside the previously drilled box. I tucked in some carrot peels for their first meal and dumped in the worms.
Before we covered them to let them do their thing, I got my kiddos to pick up some worms. Much hilarity ensued. YouTube Video of the Wormy Cuteness I couldn’t tell if my little guy was going to cry or laugh.
I think our worms are going to be a fun ongoing science project this summer! I’ll keep you updated.
I made a loaf of the of the oatmeal date bread from the bucket of dough I mixed last night. I was so eager to tear into it hot and fresh from the oven with my coffee that I didn’t wait at all for it to cool. Lesson learned.
Zoe Francois, coauthor of “Healthy Bread in 5” lent me this very helpful tweet. “If the bread sticks to the pan, let it sit for about 10-15 min, steams out and should slide out.”. Learn from my mistakes, friends.
Today I spent a lot of time outdoors with the boys planting seeds in our “salad bowl” garden, but I still had time to get a few kitchen science projects going. First up, two batches of bread dough.
I use the wet storage bucket method, a.k.a. “Healthy Bread In Five Minutes a Day”. Today I mixed up a sweet dough, dates and oatmeal, and a savory dough, whole grain rye. Both buckets took me less than 10 minutes to prep, and now I’ll have homemade bread fresh every day for the next two weeks. If this method sounds intriguing to you, I HIGHLY recommend the book.
Then I grated up some carrots and ginger to try out my new macgyvered mason jars for fermentation. Check it out, we rigged airlocks into the lids!
I’ve been experimenting with home-fermented foods lately. I made a nice, but too salty sauerkraut using a crock and a bag of salt water. Then I tried some beet and apples in a crock with a heavy jar as a weight. Those turned out edible, after, of course, I worked up the courage to try them. So now I’m trying out the carrots in my new mason jars. If this works, it will be a lot easier than the crock. For those of you new to ferments (like me), the general idea is that fermented fruits and veg contain beneficial bacteria, just like yogurt. Our modern American diet is too “clean” and nutritionally empty; these little microbial good guys help your body run the way it was meant to.
Along the same vein, I also did kefir upkeep. Kefir is a milk culture, very similar to yogurt.
I have thriving kefir grains, but unfortunately, I’m having a tough time acquiring a taste for home brewed kefir. I’ve tried pureed strawberries and honey, blueberry jam, and plain sugar (which kind of defeats the point, right?). Anyone have any serving suggestions? I’m a big proponent of eating things because they taste good, not just because they’re good for me.
So, my friends, tell me, which of these projects do you want to hear more about? My nerdly pursuits are wide-ranging; there’s a lot of info to cover here!
Vermiculture! Either shivers of excitement or revulsion are running down your spine right now, or perhaps, as in my case, a little of both. Compost heaps are prohibited in my neighborhood (as are laundry lines, but that’s a rant for another time). Not being made of money, I can’t afford a closed roller bin for composting. Enter the lowly red worm.
Two pounds of these little babies can live in a 10 gallon box in my garage and consume a half pound of kitchen scraps A DAY. If you can stomach the thought of a colony of worms squirming their way through your refuse, then, yeah, worms are way better than a big stinky compost pile.
The best part of this whole endeavor, is that I spent a total of $10 on supplies. Here is the very helpful website that details the worm bin construction (god, what did we do before the internet?):
Needless to say, the boys were very excited.
And I got to use the big manly drill.
When explaining scientific processes to small children, I’ve found a good dose of grossness is always popular and well received, not to mention memorable. Accordingly, I explained to the boys how the worms will eat up our fruit and veggie leftovers and poop out compost for our garden, to which my eldest replied, “Yeah mom, I know! That’s what we’re pretending to do now!” with accompanying sound effects. Delightful!
So, with the bins drilled out, now all we have to do is order a few thousand worms and create the worm bedding from newspaper.
Just got a call from the campground that we were intending to go for our first RV trip of the season. It seems their septic system has had a catastrophic failure and they have to shut down the park. This does not bode well…
The inlaws invited us out to hunt for morels this afternoon. If you are unfamiliar with the morel, as i was just a short year ago, please take a moment to acquaint yourself with delicious delicious treasure of the Midwestern forest.
While morels are easy to recognize (they look like monkey brains, or what I suppose monkey brains look like), they are damn hard to find.
Fortunately, my inlaws had done some preliminary scout work, and we succeeded in finding fourteen of them. If you’ve never had them before, they have a mushroom-savory-umami-funk thing going on that is really hard to describe, but I SWEAR to you is addictively good. So good, in fact, that you will eagerly await this time of year, brave the mud, ticks, snakes (we saw two!) and bramble, in search of the little bastards.
What did we do with them, you wonder? Well, they need to be cooked before you eat them. We cut them in half (morels are always hollow), rinsed and soaked for 10 minutes in cold salty water. Then we caramelized some onions, added some butter, garlic and the morels and sautéed a few minutes longer. Then we added all of that wonderfulness to a prepped pizza dough drizzled with olive oil and za’atar (my newfound favorite middle eastern spice mix) and sprinkled it all with a little parm.
Voila! Morel pizza.
And that, my friends, is how you entertain the kids, get some quality spring outdoor time, and make a kickass dinner!
Well, hi. I’ve been debating for over a month on how to start this blog. I, of course, wanted to dazzle you with my entertaining anecdotes right off the bat. Nearly every day since creating my account, I’ve thought, “oh, I should blog about that, but I still need to do an introductory post first.”
So I’ve posted exactly nothing. Screw the intro post. You can figure out who I am as we go, like any good friendship, and I’ll just jump right in.
To make things a bit clearer, know that I’m 30, happily married to my high school sweetheart, Kyle, who is an engineer. We have two young boys of very different temperaments, which we homeschool. We also have a needy border collie/black lab named Coco, an evil-hearted falcon, I mean Quaker parrot, named Ernie. Don’t let the friendly Muppet name fool you.
I have a background in science and art, but I’m a huge linguaphile as well. In middle school, my nickname was “Dictionary”. (I welcome you grammar patrol, with open arms. Keep me on my toes.) I geek out over science fiction, Star Trek, in it’s various incarnations, in particular.
I am a “crunchy” mom and a “geek” mom. I do my “feasibility studies” (thanks for the term, Dad) and obsess a bit over everything I bring into our home. When I find something good that fits into our lifestyle, I love to share it.
As a geek, I tend to obsess over new and interesting topics. The Hubs and I are also busily mapping out our adventures in our bigass, kickass RV. Road trips are AWESOME.
So what topic would you like to hear more about? I’m bubbling over with pent-up ruminations!