Good Bacteria?

That’s right, I’m gonna talk about bacteria. Unlike the ones the world at present is madly trying to kill with hand sanitizer, wipes and washing your hands. But about GOOD bacteria. Think of it as like some distant cousin…. but very much still family. Only using its powers of take-over for good. The warrior ninja who hugs.

Yogurt.

Milk meets friendly bacteria, Lactic Acid, whom feeds on the lactose sugar in milk. And the beautiful result- Thick white creamy spoonfuls of wonder. Yogurt.

So I figure, now with more home time for many of you with a world virus going on- what better time to learn how to make your own friendly bacteria- yogurt? You will also be helping your immune system, as yogurt is so good for you! There are MANY benefits, but one is when you have good gut flora it can help you fight off bad bacteria and make your illness go quicker.

Reason number 2….. it’s way cheaper to make it yourself. It only costs me $5.12 for milk that makes 4 yogurt containers 1kg each.

I freeze the two little ones for starter for my next batch

Reason number 3, the kids love it more! I make mine not as sour, but you can adjust its sourness by how long you leave it incubating. Look here’s my kids having it as an outdoor snack with no sweetener- only bananas!

So one of my biggest hurdles of getting behind making yogurt was that I’m a one pot kind of girl. I talk about my efficiency problems in All About Beans …. but basically I’m looking to shorten as many steps as I can, and getting-er done. So here’s how you do that.

These are the things you will need.

  • 3.25% 4L Milk (Homogenized)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (first time you will need to buy some, I used Astro Balkan style)
  • Large pot with thick bottom to it
  • Towel
  • Cookie Tray
  • Food Thermometer (I use my meat one)
  • Ladle
  • Spatula

Homemade Yogurt

  1. Take out your 1 cup of yogurt so it’s at room temp for when you use it later.
  2. Pour all your milk into the big pot on the stove at medium heat. Stir with spatula every now and then till the temperature of the milk reaches 180*F (do not skip this step).
  3. Then with the lid off, transfer pot to a sink with cold water in it. Stir the water around the pot to cool the milk. Stir the milk in the pot till it reaches 110*F- then quickly take it out. The temp drops way faster than heating it up- so pay attention!
  4. Flick your oven on for a couple mins just so it’s not cold.
  5. Ladle some of the milk out of the pot into your 1 cup of yogurt and mix them together. Then pour the mixture back into your pot of milk adding them together.
  6. Don’t stir the milk in circles. You want to mix them together with back and forth movements with your spatula. But don’t take too long, you don’t want your temp to drop below 105*F.
  7. Put the lid on. Wrap with a towel and place on a cookie tray.
  8. Slide tray in warmed oven. You can turn your oven light on if you wish. I’ve done both and found no difference.
  9. Put a note over your oven ON or BAKE button that there is yogurt in there! And wait 8 hrs. (More if you want it sourer)
  10. Take it out after 8hrs and see if it’s thick! There might be a tiny bit of whey. Don’t mix it, throw it in the fridge to cool. Then take it out cooled, ladle it into jars and enjoy!

It should be creamy and thick. If it’s not however, you could strain it in a colander with a cotton sheet square (my version of cheese cloth) in the bottom. Who knows, you might nail it the next batch😉

If you want to up the probiotics in your yogurt, you can empty a probiotic capsule and mix it in with your yogurt starter in step 4. I found this made my yogurt even thicker!

The reason the tray and the note are a good idea: No matter how much you think you will not forget that yogurt setting in the oven, one day you just might. It happened to me 😬 My hubby offered to grab my daughter from her gymnastics class and I ended up with an extra half hour before dinner. What could go better with my stove top soup but hot fresh scones? I cranked the oven to 425*F. It’s only by the grace of God and his kindness to my scattered Mom brain that I didn’t cause an oven fire. I think the oven was on for 10mins before I remembered. The tray worked as a barrier and kept the towel from flaming. The towel has a dark pot size circle to it now. Anyways, I never left myself a note because my day was going to have been too busy for baking. Just goes to show your day can change- leave a note!

Yogurt is one of those things that’s simple, but ohh so good. I find in the last few weeks of crazy (with the Corona virus) God has been reminding me to look not at the seemingly gigantic problems, but at the simple good things all around me. That when I feel my boat is being rocked, to stop looking at the waves and the storm… but realized who’s in the boat with me- Jesus. It’s so easy for me to let my eyes drift back to those waves, but I can find peace if I only keep my eyes on Him. His love never changes, He is my steadfast.

So don’t get so wrapped up in killing bad bacteria, you forget about the good 😉 And go on and try making your own.

The Story of an Unfortunate Grouse, Clever Cat, Skilled Boy, and Brave Mother

I realize my title to this story sounds somewhat like a legend. But then again, who’s to say it won’t be? Well perhaps at least one around our family table.

I also fully realize I labeled myself as “Brave” in these headlines, and that to some my awarding of this title may be misplaced. But being brave isn’t having no fear at all- it’s having a fear and yet doing it anyways. Overcoming. Or so I’ve been told. With this out of the way, I will begin my tale.

It was a bright morning. December 3rd. Snow had finally come covering all in its perfect white. The air had settled from its deep cold temper tantrum- and was pleasantly calm around -1.

The kids plodded in their boots through the fresh snow towards the chicken coop for morning chores. Elise’s nighty poking out of her winter coat, the boys hair standing every-which way from a long sleep, and our sandy-white cat bounding along the trail ahead of them.

Pails swinging, they neared the spot where the youngest had spilt a bucket of feed the week before- covered up as if the accident had never happened. They creaked open the coop and disappeared inside.

They could barely shovel their breakfasts down fast enough that morning. They were outside in their snow suits before I could even suggest school work was waiting. The morning was so charged with their excitement over the snow, I grinned and let them think they were “getting away with it”.

The house was filled with the outsides muffled laughter, kid noises and caring-ons. The yard transformed into sledding runs, snow angels, shovelled trails going every-which way and men made of snow.

Then disrupting the peace came a pounding on the glass and the kids muffled excited voices as they tried to talk to me though the window. One finally got the pane to open, ” Mom! Gus caught a grouse! You HAVE to come see!”

I tromped out to the excited boys, my daughter giving distance behind them, and my proud little fur baby (cat) rubbing between legs all proud of what he brought home.

Upon closer inspection of the bird I realized the cat had only killed it from the neck up. I honestly don’t know what gave me the idea, but out of my mouth popped “Maybe we should ask Dad if we could eat it?”

The boys had been trying to hunt grouse with their slingshots this past summer/ fall but were as of yet unsuccessful. That cat was showing them boys up if you ask me. We all knew how tasty grouse was, and here was a fresh plump one brought right to our door step.

After messaging my husband with the question “so the cat brought us a big decapitated grouse…. can we pluck and eat it?” To which replied “For sure” the next big thought came to mind. How does one pluck a grouse?

Well folks, in this day and age we are blessed with the wisdom and directions of many seasoned hunters.

On YouTube.

School for the morning took a slight survivalist turn. Turns out there is an incredible alternative to plucking grouse called Field dressing a Grouse. In a nut shell- you gab it by the feet, stand on its wings as close to its body as you can…. and pull on the feet with a steady pressure. Everything just pops off.

There is no way it’s gonna be that easy. Jonas, my 11 year old who was going to do the “field dressing”, agreed- but 100% wanted to try. It was decided to give it our best effort. By we, I mean mostly him. Im an Overcoming Squeamish Person. (Like I once was a screamer, seek cover, don’t you dare show me its DEAD- person, but….. life in the country married to a hunter doesn’t really allow for such things.)

As Jonas was yanking backwards we both thought the legs would just detach and he would end up lying in the snow on his back holding rubbery bird feet. At some point I was behind him trying to help yank his arms up without touching the bird as he gripped the feet. But he eventually got it all on his own. With a cracky sound the body slipped away and we stared in shock at the breast meat laying in the snow.

We cheered in our triumph, and my daughter shouted from the other end of the yard “did you do it?!”

Now that it LOOKED like meat, some how I was fine to touch it. I made myself fine. It’s meat woman. I helped with the cutting off of the wings. So proud of my boy and his knife skills. We thought our cat Gus might want some of his bird, so I tossed him the heart and some innards. He sniffed and walked away. The kids called him back to it, pointing and making the kissing sound we make for when we call him for treats. Gus felt like we weren’t quite understanding him, so he proceeded to bury it like a cat turd. I don’t want these stinking guts OK? And the hunter wandered off.

Well we fried that dinner up with butter, garlic and salt and had a small mouth watering feast that night as a family. We were all so pleased with the days turn of events.

One clever cat,

Skilled boy, and

Delicious grouse.

And about that brave mother?…. she later in the winter had to hold a sick rooster while he lost his head/life. And is learning that sometimes it’s not about things being gross or unpleasant. It about having the courage to do what’s necessary.

I want to be more like that. Overcome silly fears, learn new skills, be more capable, and be willing to try.

More like my adventurous go getter son.

Winter’s Acceptance

There is a fresh skiff of our first snow on the yard. And it feels like officially winter. I know there is still a week or so till it’s official, but who’s a stickler on dates when it’s clearly weathering winter out there? As much as I want to just go bask in the sun, see green leaves and growing things- winters found me and I might as well enjoy it. November in Quesnel BC has got to be one of our less sunnier months. We have incredibly green lush springs and summers, vibrant autumns, and sunny crisp white winters that, well, November’s muddy browns and greys feels noticeably lacking. I feel itchy. In deep need of beauty.

I long for the beauty the snow brings. And the light. Even though it’s nearly pitch black at 5:30pm around here, a bit of snow on the edges of the roads really helps it lighten up. It’s kinda like when your bowling and they light up the bumper lanes… ya know?

In anticipation we prepared the yard for its whitening blanket. Stowing away the toys, hunting down a missing helmet, and tucking away yard things so the yard isn’t littered with treasures come spring. No guarantees tho. Last year we had all the shovels found and accounted for by the first snow fall. Then a month in and the kids left two shovels out while playing, and it snowed a foot. I waded about the yard making tracks in the snow back and forth the next day but to no avail, we never found them till the melt.

Is this the changing of guards? Snow to stay? Or… is this the beginning of the kids rehearsing with their snow gear?

The thing is- if I look too far ahead and fixate on spring, I won’t make it. If I worry over the quantity of winter here, I won’t make it either. I just have to accept each day. Look forward to all the treats that only this season can give. Look for beauty. Not just in nature, but in people, and special times too. I love that I can trust that God’s gonna bring spring in just the right timing. He always does. And He will fill my cozy winter days with snow adventures, skating, books, fires, friendships, naps, scrumptious things for my belly, and time to craft. Because winters a gift. And it’s not going anywhere, so I might as well see it as one. And wishing it away will only make me miss out on all God has got planned for this season. I feel like wherever there is hope, there is discontent lurking on the side lines. And the choice between the two is ours.

I need to stop telling people I’m not ready for winter,

And break out my snow pants.

Dinners of Shame

We’ve all had those days where we remember were the one in charge of feeding the small helpless people of our home. That their lives require a dinner. That it can be prolonged no further.

I hear the beeper on the oven go off, and am hopeful for a minute… till I remember it’s cake. This may be just me… but I have no problem thinking of deserts, which usually happens (totally inconveniently) around dinner time. I can’t in good conscience FEED desert as dinner, so I find my self fumbling through the freezer and fridge looking for food.

The way my mind works once in this state of “What’s for dinner panic” differs, but I’ll use tonight as an example.

The freezer let’s me down. There really isn’t any good meat that I could possibly defrost in time for dinner. Hmmm… maybe some starchy filling veggies. I remember something. Lame! I was at the wrong store for potatoes ( if I’m gonna pay nearly $8 a bag they better be from Canada)… ooo what is this…. a sweet potato. K, that goes good with carrots and zucchini. A little chopping, little oil, dash of this and that. Nice! The oven is still warm from cake 😁

Into the oven.

I glance at the counter and see I also dragged out some corn on the cob I’d forgotten about. Yes. You can be cooked. Drat you’re still not meat. I examine frozen bags of random meat. Re entertaining the freezer is like going back down the isles of the grocery store. You know full well they don’t have what your looking for, but you darn well gotta find SOMETHING as a substitute. Some how I settle on 4 burger patties left over from a camping trip. I verbally thank the Lord for the presence of all my fingers- still intact- after the separation of all four said frozen patties. They were met with a large kitchen knife where they skidded and danced across the counter top before joining the roasting veggies in the oven.

I was able to put aside my dinner dilemma and phone my good friend. We laugh and chatted and talked about how it’s about that time of year when we should actually start making dinners. We hang up and somehow, this time, I don’t burn dinner. ( I recently had a whole pot of rice boil over so bad the pot was bobbing on an ocean of rice water… while my frying pan, on the other element, cooked it into burnt rice paper. I’d gotten carried away in the garden 😬.)

Back at the oven I decide its time to throw corn in the pot of boiling water.

I peek in the oven to see how the burger patties are doin.

Then bam. I look up to this.

How did those dogs get in there?

This is what results of multiple re visits to the freezer, the pickings get increasingly slimmer. But look- meat!

My daughter came into the kitchen to ask what’s for dinner as I pressed frozen wieners further into the water. “Wow, are those boiled hotdogs? Never had those before!” (Oh child but you have…) I shoo her aside and pull out the sizzling patties. Her brow creases, “Why are there burgers? ”

There is a moment of confusion. She tallies up the odd things she sees.

” Corn, veggies, boiled hotdogs and burgers…… well I like all those things!”

And we all live on-

fed for another day.

The side of me that wants to greatly impress you all with my clever cooking is dying as I write this. Because occasionally wonders emerge from my oven. But I think that’s just it. We all have days of brilliance where we wish someone besides the kids could see what we’ve done!

And… (flip side)

we all have those perfectly “interesting” days where we’re glad only the kids have seen what we’ve done.

Besides, dinner panic awakens our problem solving, quick thinking, survival skills. And everyone knows the great importance in those.

So cast aside shame when you throw food at the kids that isn’t what you hopped it would be. Just pray over that dinner,

dig in,

And don’t worry- other side of you will rise again. 😉

(Wait, 🤔 the cake had zucchini in it… it totally would have been an acceptable dinner! Ah well, there’s always breakfast.)

Run!

I don’t peticularly love running, or anything. But I do feel strongly that it is one of those things your body should not forget how to do. Meaning, I need to remind my body that it CAN run.

Ways to achieve this without “going for a run”:

Run to check the mail.

Forget something on your list, then run through the store before all your items are scanned at the checkout and people start spitting at you.

Give your kids squirt guns.

Put your toddler on a bike and point him down a hill.

Climb tall hills and remember you have dinner in the oven- run home.

Race the kids to the driveway.

Run for shelter in a storm.

Run after your spouse/ child with their forgotten lunch.

Never walk up your stairs, always jog.

Play tag at the park.

Be late.

There’s others, but you get the gist.

Don’t confuse these ways with WHY you need to know how to run. I’m getting to that.

If movies have taught us anything, we all know it’s the person at the back of the pack (the one that can’t run) that dies.

Let’s do a quick memory refresher incase you haven’t watched many films as of late.

Reasons to be sure you know how to run:

The big wave. That scene where the people all stand up at the beach holding their hands shielding their eyes looking at the massive wall of water in the distance. Then comes the yell, “RUN!” Sand is kicked up, people are screaming, umbrellas are being thrown into the air, and the water wall blocks out the sun. You better know how to run. Grab a kid or two and put your practice into action.

Or Dinosaurs. Why people in those movies feel safe with them in massive cages is beyond me. They always get out. And they always eat that dispensable character… who usually sucks at… you guessed it… running.

A great deal of time was once spent watching The Walking Dead. Do I recommend this? No, probably not. I fully blame my husband, and the catchy plot. But I still feel nervous when I see cars lined up in big lines in the summer with their belongings strapped here and there. I start thinking of exits. I start thinking zombies. Everyone knows if your unable to run, you’re zombie food, then… we’ll… a zombie- who can only ever walk fast. So yes, RUNNING is more important than speed walking. It’s life or death… and then a life of death stuck walking. So just work on that run.

“BOMB!” Is always closely followed by “RUN!” If you value limbs, which I do, you best know how to move it at a moments notice.

Wolves. There is a movie “The Grey” I unrecommend. But if you’ve seen it; well you don’t wanna be the weak runner at the back. With any predators for that matter.

Volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, fires, birds chasing you from the sky (Alfred Hitchcock), alien abductions (Alien series, X Files…), invasions, massive man eating worms that swallow you whole (Tremor videos), burning meteors, galloping bandits… oh the examples are endless!

But seriously, haven’t you found yourself on the edge of your seat begging that character to run faster?

And the danger always comes unexpectedly. You could start workin on your run ya know.

Something worth considering, just sayin.

Well, if the only thing I’ve convinced you of in all this- is the indeedly strange things I ponder and prepare for, or the odd movies I’ve seen- then here’s a practical reason to know how to run,

“Mom, I gotta go poop NOW!”

Summer Lessons

Summer is in full swing as we have been off school since the beginning of June. That’s cause we homeschool and I can entice the children to buckle down and finish so that they can be gloriously free for 3 months.

Burn the workbooks!

Turns out they don’t love freedom as much as I thought they would, and really struggled with the lack of structure to their day. I honestly have thought on more than on occasion that teaching them school is less work then sorting out their summer squabbles. But like learning to homeschool, I’m just learning how to run this summer ship and am not as experienced at it as I thought.

I really thought the kids would just play outside happily for endless hours and I have to drag their little butts in just to feed them and put them to bed. Like school day afternoons were, only now they get ALL DAY. Only turns out they are like this for only half a day and the rest of it they are sick of each other and of each others games.

Going out for half the day really helps. And summer chores. What are your favorite boredom busters for kids age 4-10? Active ones…. I have to force my kids to STOP reading and go play 😂

On a side note, these are some of the lessons and things I’ve been learning this summer:

  • 4 years is probably a bit long to leave cleaning the dangling kitchen lights.
  • Vacuuming is more entertaining with Ranger Si popping out from behind the couch with binoculars.

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  • Veggies on the grill or baked in the oven are sweet and irresistible.
  • My neighbor friend who lets the kids ALL come play for hours is irreplaceable and is sweet mercy from heaven above- God bless that woman.
  • Turns out I’m not as bad at drawing as I thought I was, I just need to take sometime.
  • Pork Tenderloins on the BBQ are mouthwatering.
  • Jonas and Sammy are running around these days with knives slung on their belt loops, multi purpose jack knives in their pockets and lighters… but they also carry their own safety kits… and I’m good with it.
  • The bat population has been threatened by White Nose Syndrome (white fungus) so….. there is a possibility we will all die by mosquitoes.
  • Elise and Jonas are now better at making pancakes and salads than me.
  • My rooster, Captain Tom, could eat me for breakfast.
  • My husbands incredible patience teaching the kids to fish tugs at my heart in so many places.

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  • Go camping with your mom, and you will hardly need to pack a thing.
  • Babies eventually turn four, but they still give cuddles and hugs.
  • I can still pull myself up onto a floating object from out of the water, and am somewhat tricky to remove from said object… keep trying kids.
  • Red is a fabulous toenail colour and this summer is no different then the rest in knowing Red is the best.
  • If I ran uphill to the outhouse every time I or Si had to go to the washroom EVERYDAY I would have a lean bod. (Theory was tested for a few short days at the cabin) ((I say bod instead of body because it sounds so cool- and my kids probably think it’s a word now….))
  • An empty fridge stresses me… but so does a really full fridge.
  • Jesus loves me a whole crazy lot- but I gotta choose to believe it and live like I do.
  • Si just turned four and plays his drums everyday. So I roughly have 5,110 days of listening to it left…. unless he’s still at home at 18.
  • Mushrooms can grow bigger than your head.

Well thanks for listening to my rambles, hope your having a fantastic summer, and don’t forget to leave me with your boredom busters… or summer dinners, could totally use those too 😜

An Age of Beauty

This may surprise you. But I have been chosen many-a-time as the subject for portraits. I think it’s my daringly romantic life style. No perhaps my authentic charm? I clearly cannot be the judge in the matter, I fear my pride may be more outspoken than my humble imperturbable self.

But I say, let the art speak for me.

Upon hearing I, their star subject, was nearing a new age (er…hem, my birthday) I found myself (yet again) attracting fine Artists in the area.

The first portrait shows not only my exquisite choice in clothing and fashionable hair accessories, but my athletic abilities as well. Specificity my balance and natural climbing dexterity.

You will notice how the above artist portrayed my hair. It’s actually quite a common occurrence that artists relish in my roof top straight cocoa hair.

Look here

And here

Do I lie? Also here…

I think I’m most often penciled in my triangular wardrobe. It brings out my figure.

Although one artist choose to draw attention to my other superb fashion choice- my shoes. And so for clarity and accentuate-ability they forgo my clothing in order to draw the viewers eyes to my feet… and my shoe like nose.

This was titled “Wearing Shoes to the Garden” with my son also wearing… shoes. I think this one shows an aspect of true living, in that my morning hair has perhaps a bit less of its normal peak.

But I’m not drawn only for my famed beauty. I’m also quite a sight to behold in action (Were you even surprised?).

You may have difficulties spotting me as battle tactics required me to use caution in standing out from my fellow comrades. Allow my acclaimed hand at a canon and renowned aim be your clue.

And so dear reader, I leave it to you to be the judge as to the WHY of my appearance in so many Art pieces.

But I find myself truly honoured, to be so loved that I am drawn, that I’m quite unaffected by your opinion.

I write this to you, the evening of my birthday were upon I find my self so incredibly blessed.

Artists, Elise D, Samuel D, Silas D, Jonas D, Pearl C.

To the Cabin

The kids and I drove out last minute, after an appointment, right around dinner time, to meet my parents at our recently purchased family cabin. Only to stay one night and drive home the next evening. We concluded some time was better than none at all.

There was so much forest, as we drove deeper into it you could feel the worlds social grip sliding away. At the cabin there was no running water or electricity- which is deliciously rustic, and puts outdated candles in their glory. Wax dripping over the edge of bottles and candle light flickering on the wall. A lantern hanging over the kitchen table that we all played a game of dominoes under in its light. We were cozy and warm with the little pot belly stove burning bright in the middle of the main room. So warm we cracked open the porch door, and took turns dancing on the deck putting on a good show for the kitchen onlookers. The wind howled and it poured rain that night. Our only night. But we were as warm as toast, the boys even threw off their pj shirts and squirmed excitedly in the bunks. And I loved sleeping next to a fire.

The next day was full of simple adventures that were beautiful and relaxing. A burn pile, discoveries, walks, lunch on the dock, and naps. The kids adored the time with their Grandparents. So even tho it was quite a bit of driving for one night and one day- that in its self was completely worth it.

The lake was still frozen, but it’s shores roared with vibrant green coniferous trees, and the sun beat down. I could picture summer. I could hear the kids jumping off the dock and floating about in inner-tubes. I settled in my mind to try to swim the lake to the other side. Standing there with dreams of summer, I felt peace. Tinged with excitement for the days to come. I found the forest and vast spaces of the wilderness and lake gave me perspective. Sometimes I get caught up in all the conversations of life, the worries of friends, and all the things I’m trying to do. But then I get away, even for a day, where it’s so quite the groans and creaks of the bony old trees fill the woods with sound. Where everything is coming back alive after seemingly dead all winter. And I remember how powerful my God of hope is. How the caretaker of the wood and water thawing and coming to life is- GOOD. That his love for us is vast, wide and deep. More so than the heights of the treed mountains or the depths of the cool lakes floor.

He’s got this.

Everything.

Life.

Lets rest in his capable care, and open our eyes to all the good things He’s doing. And even if it’s only an hour, (doesn’t have to be a day away!) maybe you can find some woods and get a fresh perspective.

Addicted to Homemade

I realized this morning (as I made two different pie fillings from scratch) what a struggle it is for me to get away from making things myself and to just buy it.

When I decide “I’m going to save myself the work this time and just buy the thing already made”, it somehow is never quite that straight forward. First of all, I have the homemade version coursing out of my taste buds and burning in my mind, so nothing on the store shelf looks, well, like it should. I start reading labels.

Note: If you are trying to make a transition from homemade to store bought NEVER read the labels!

But it can’t be helped. I’m already thinking things like how is there this much crap in here? I make this with like 4 ingredients. I could easily make this with half that amount of sugar! And what even is Acetylated Monoglycerides?

I’m drifting dangerously close to resolving to just go home and make it. I give my head a shake and scan the price of the item I’m holding. It burns me like a hot potato and I nearly drop it on the floor. What?! I could definitely make this for less… and my mind starts calculating the cost of real ingredients. Stop it! Your doing it!

And just like that, I’ve ditched the notion of buying the pre-made product and am I’m off buying the one or two ingredients I don’t already own at home. Feeling pretty stinking satisfied with myself that I’m not only going to be saving my family from evil 14 letter ingredients, but a few bucks as well. Somehow the time it was going to save me by purchasing it already made slips from my brain and is replaced with my familiar friend

Thrifty.

Closely related to Homemade.

But every now and then I survive all those steps, and just close my eyes and grasp what I need off the shelf. I try to numb the knowledge of the ingredients and prices by making it a quick grab and move right along.

This happened yesterday at the grocery store.

I’m making homemade danishes for an charity auction, and I really don’t need to make 3 pie fillings from scratch for their centres. I don’t love constant stirring over the stove, it’s too unimaginative.

Problem is- I must have literally had my eyes closed because when I got out the fillings last night it was followed by a groan. Both of the boxes not only needed things like separated eggs and milk (am I paying $4.99 for cornstarch and flavouring?), but they also came with long detailed time consuming instructions. With lots of stirring over the stove🙄! My eyes then spotted a coconut on my vanilla filling, and slid over to the products name. Coconut Pie filling. “Nooooooo!” Well, at least I have a lemon one. So why is their a lime on that box? Yep, Key Lime Pie. My husbands flipping the boxes around at the counter with a smirk and cheeky sparkle in his eye, “didn’t you even READ? It says the name right on the box…. Both of them.”

I snatch the boxes from him and mumble about them being in the vanilla section with all the other vanillas and the lime one right next to the lemon ones. And suddenly freak out wondering what on earth my canned “cherry” filling actually is. After unloading half my cupboard I’m convinced I never even put it in the cart, when I finally find it next to the beans. Thank God, It’s Cherry.

I need the other two fillings today.

So you see, even when I try to just buy pre-made, I’m busy making homemade. Because driving into town with 4 kids sounds like more work then sitting at the stove stirring (which apparently I’d be doing anyways).

Driving to get something I forgot or because I got the wrong thing is OFTEN my reason for discovering how to make something homemade and save myself a trip. (One year amid making homemade gingerbread houses, we ran right out of icing sugar to make icing, and it turns out icing sugar is just blended white sugar with cornstarch!)

And guess what?

I made lemon and blueberry filling in about an unfocused half hour and they were cheap and simple 😊

and so now

I’ll probably always have to make pie fillings, because of all above said reasons.

And they turned out pretty tasty too.

Some of the Things We Love Better Homemade:

  • Bread (for the most most part. Best dollar I’ve ever spent was my breadmaker at a thrift store. Fresh focaccia for about 10 mins of effort? Yes please.)
  • Jam (so easy to throw a little fruit in a pot- my kids even make it! We use chia seeds to thicken and only a couple Tbs sugar)
  • Muffins (we love extra fruit ones)
  • Lasagna (the more you make it the more efficient you get)
  • Cookies, cakes, pies, squares, pancakes (I do love baking, and it doesn’t have an after taste baked with pronounceable ingredients)
  • Cheese sauce ( 100s of dinners thank me for learning this)
  • Granola (not all recipes are the same, some are fantastically easy)
  • Pita pockets (entertainment for the kids, and soft and STRETCHY… not dry and crummy)
  • Dried fruit (ALWAYS better. Why are the stores coated in sugar!?)
  • Puddings and custards (a win for cornstarch)
  • Apple sauce (purée with the skins for fibre no one knows is there! Instead of sugar add cinnamon for a sweeter flavour)
  • Soup (raised on the stuff- keeping the tradition running strong)
  • Pizza ( breadmaker dough, and what-ever-our-hearts desire toppings. Yes even last nights stir fry)
  • Gravy (just the old fashioned good stuff… or organic bouillon paste)

And more.

Some things truly are easier/ better to just buy. And there is NO comparison to Campbells tomato soup. But what are some things you simply love homemade and can’t go back to bought? Do you also love some of my above list?

Blessings! And happy food making.

All About… Beans?

I buy beans, in dried form, in large bags. It’s one of those tricks you learn when you have a lot of kids and try to make food go a little further. It made me feel pretty super cooking my own beans.

If you follow the simple directions on the back of the package, your winning and things are simple and straight forward. Problem is- your suppose to soak those beans all night.

There’s really isn’t anything complicated about that. Beans, pot, LID (made that mistake once) and a lot of water (as they’re thirsty, dried up little buggers).

Except that I usually forget come night. I’m usually winding down from my shift of… using my brain.

My beans might sit dried in their store bought bags for a month as I nightly forget to soak them.

Turns out, there is a remedy to this problem. You just cook them oh-so-long and no one knows the difference.

K, well, except all who enter your home that day.

It’s like the fart that just wont quit. The kids keep entering the kitchen starting the question, “who let one?!….. oh, never mind…. BEANS.”

Yep.

Today Elise asked me if there wasn’t a perfume spray or something we could use.

I probably smelled like an armpit when I dropped and picked her up from her gymnastics class.

As well as forgetfulness, I often struggle with another problem that seems to arise whilst cooking beans. Its my Efficiency Expert Training. Or at least that’s what I call it on good days when it works well for me. Other days, like today, it appears in the form of Lazy Mans Poor Choice Shortcuts.

Have you ever read Cheaper by the Dozen? Well if you haven’t its a true story of a family with 12 kids. The Father has a JOB as an Efficiency Expert. He goes into businesses and helps them cut out useless tasks, and do things in an order that will help their business be more cost effective and efficient. Get stuff done, for less money and time. He also applies may of his skills at home with his dozen kids.

Sounding good eh?

My Mother was an Efficiency Expert. She did things like wash an army of muddy garden carrots in the washing machine. Or make a funnel out her window that went straight into her compost bin. She never sorted the cutlery, but stored it all face up in a vase so you knew what weapon your grabbing.

So I come by it honestly.

Some days it’s gloriously inventive. Impresses the socks of my impatient self. Others it’s darn right lazy and disastrous. And ends up being MORE work.

Right. Beans.

If you take the time to get out your colander, you just dump the cooked beans and boiling water into the colander in the sink. Or you scratch that step, grab your pot with large oven mitts, tilt it over the sink and pour your liquid through the perfect size slot you made by slightly sliding the lid ajar.

Then as your kid starts your vehicle for you so you can take her to gymnastics- you’ve got two minutes or you’re gonna be late. Suddenly you find yourself scooping an entire pot worth of beans out of your lunch dishes and the sink. Stupid oven mitts! Stupid sliding Not-So-Perfect crack! You draw a crowd of worried onlookers (teaching kids life lessons here) and focus on the fact everything was submerged in boiling water and is probably totally edible after a good rinse…. in the colander.

Why do I always feel like I accepted defeat when I use the colander? It feels like…… I lost and had to get a parent to come help me… sheesh maybe I need kitchen therapy.

Once your beautiful beans are cooked. Reserve what you need for the recipe (that I most likely am not going to follow, ) and then dump them on a cookie tray to freeze. They will break apart easily and can be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer and poured into any other meals as you need them later.

No don’t just freeze them from warm in a bag.

Hammering the frozen bean cluster against the counter top only draws a crowd (kids again wondering what on earth your doing) and rips the bag in more ways you thought possible. Nobody can eat THAT many beans at once. So just take my word for it.

Freeze on a flat tray and transfer. Expert speaking here.

I hope this doesn’t make you NOT want to try cooking your own beans! Honestly they are a fantastic fiber, protein… or um whatever healthy thing they are. And you can cook so many more things with them on hand. Makes chilli a heck of a lot cheaper too.

To win you back, incase I chased you away from the idea,

Here is what I’m making for dinner tonight.

Of course I don’t really follow the recipe- but it’s nice to have a starting point. I make my own seasoning, add cilantro to everything I can, 2 extra cups of beans (I have them, I might as well put them to use) and just use marble cheese that I go ahead and shred myself.

Some how I wrote a whole post on beans.

Since I have them on hand, what’s your favourite bean dish? Or just one that fills the spot, isn’t too time consuming, and has a max of two dirty pots?

Yours truly,

Efficiency Expert (in Training )