Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lucyism

In the car on our way to the UC, Lucy was talking about an octopus, when Tony asked, 

"Lucy, do you know why an octopus is called an octopus?"

Lucy: {Thinking} "More than one is called Octopi."

Tony: {Stunned Silence}

Lucy: Octopi, Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie.

We have been having fun here in the land of soggy rain.  I'll tell you all about the monsoon when we return.  I can't leave you without a pic, here's baby bro's first fishing trip:

I look a bit...mmm...tired.  Oh, that's because I am.
Oh-and I linked up the Rhubarb Cake with Lisa over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.
Check it out!




Friday, May 27, 2011

THE SEARCH IS OVER!

I found it!  The definitive best chocolate chip cookie.  
This is the one you want to use to impress your friends.


Now, I didn't have cake flour on hand so I sifted all-purpose flour and then measured out 1 3/4 C instead of the 2 C less 2 T the recipe calls for.  I also used milk chocolate chips, because that's what I prefer and that's what I had.  I thought the baking time looked a little long, 18-20 minutes(!), I was worried when the recipe said "brown."  To me, brown = hard, crispy cookies, however, they turned out great.  I baked them between 13-15 minutes and was nervous about the brown but man, these babies are good.  Exactly how you want a chocolate chip cookie to be, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I used Kosher salt on the outside instead of Sea salt, again, cause that's what I had, and it really adds to the flavor.  YUM!  This recipe will stay in our permanent file.  Lucy and I followed the instructions and enjoyed them while they were still warm.  I'm going to miss them when I go back on the Zone after Baby Brother arrives.  Oh-and he still doesn't have a name...and I fit into like 0.5% of my wardrobe which is super frustrating.  
I have a revolving problem here.

Recipe found in the New York Times.

We're off to UC for the weekend...see you when we get back!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rhubarb Streusel Cake


I love all desserts rhubarb.   We had giant rhubarb plants that grew behind our garage every Summer, and looking back on it, there were a lot of years that went by with nary a pie in sight.  Sad.  I didn't start to love rhubarb pie until I became an adult.  I was over at my Dad's/Grandma's place, and we made a rhubarb pie together.   I was hooked, I loved it and couldn't believe how easy it was.  After he died, I read in his journal about that day and how much he'd enjoyed it.  I'll always love rhubarb pie the best.  

I have been wanting to make this cake since last  spring and like I've said before, storms make me want to bake.  Since its been raining like crazy here, this seemed a perfect opportunity.   The original recipe includes a vanilla sauce but I didn't have evaporated milk.  I toyed with the idea of making some of my own but didn't have the patience.  Not knowing the difference, I thought the cake was wonderful; perfectly moist with a yummy, crunchy streusel top.

Cake:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for the cake. Beat in the egg. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter/sugar mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating just until moistened. Fold in the chopped rhubarb. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the batter to the edges.
In a medium bowl, combine the streusel topping ingredients, mixing them together until the mixture is coarse and combined. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
**Originally made by: Mel**

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy End-of-School!


Today was the last day of Mom School.  We meant to get together to play at the park to celebrate the end of the year but it has been pouring rain all day, so we met at one of the Mom's houses and played.   I have had such a great experience with Mom School and plan to do it again next year, even with fewer kids.  I'm so grateful to have friends who were interested in doing this and all the planning and enthusiasm they put into it.  

Thank you every one for all the fun and learning this year.  I know Lucy looked forward to it every week and always had trouble sleeping on Tuesday nights.  It's hard to believe the year is over, but bring on SUMMER!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Say "Cheese!"

Have I ever told you how hard Tony is to buy for?  He is tough.  He has expensive taste (gadgets don't come cheap!) and he saves his pocket money well to buy the things he wants.  His Love Language is not gifts.  Sometimes I take the easy way out and just add some money to whatever he's saving for or a gift card to the store where he'll get it, but the best gifts I've given him were to find things he didn't know he wanted.  A few months ago when Jen and I were at Zingerman's for lunch, I saw in their flyer that they had classes on how to make Mozzarella cheese.  Onofrios love cheese and the top on Tony's cheese list is Mozzarella.  Caprese is a Summer staple around here.  I thought it would be such a fun Father's day gift, however, due to their facilities, Zingerman's only offers the class Sept.-May.  I told Tony about my idea (if he'd mind an early Father's day gift) and he asked if I'd want to go with him for Mother's day.  It was awesome.  I won accolades for "the best gift you've ever give me," and Tony won accolades from our instructor, "most stellar cheese maker."  Big surprise, right?  

It was so much fun, extremely well organized and we came away with a lot of knowledge, confidence to make cheese at home and two big bags of cheese.


We learned to make cheese from milk, where we started simply with a gallon of cream line milk.  We also learned to make it from curd.  We ended up with, and this is not an exaggeration, the best Mozzarella cheese I've ever had.  Maybe because we made it ourselves it tasted better, but it had so much more flavor than what you get in the grocery store, I'd like to believe it truly was better.  We made Fiore di Latte, Mozzarella with Myrtle, and Burrata.


For lunch today, we made BLT's with some of our cheese.  Man alive were they yummy.




This was such a fun way to spend time together and will probably not be the last Zingerman's class we take.  I just saw they have pizza classes at the Bakehouse, and since I have recently vowed to give up making pizza at home (mine is never as good as any you can buy for less than $10.00)  I seriously want to take this one and redeem my at-home pizza.

Thanks Zingerman's! We loved it!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Zooin' it!

We went to the Zoo yesterday.
Perfect weather.
Happy Family.
Such a good day.
Here are some of my favorite pictures.
Tony took most of them, it was nice to be in some for a change.


 This fish thought Lucy would make a good snack.  It followed her as she moved around.





 I want the Nature's Neighborhood in my backyard.




 She wanted a turn being a goat.



 Pascal!


The times...how they change.

This picture makes me laugh.








LIONS!

TIGERS!

 BEARS!

 Oh my.




Click here to see the rest of the zoo pictures.

This fun weekend isn't over yet!  Today is cheese class!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Garden is in!

Well, I was worried it would rain all day and we would be planting in the rain-but hallelujah!  The sun came out just in time!

This year we have the usual Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Tomatoes (a new, promising variety) and new this year are Watermelon and Strawberries.


She did not want her picture taken.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sugar Cookies



I have some news for you.  I like to bake.
We're having a bit of a boring day today-see what qualifies as news?

I have a lot of good cookie recipes.  I have different recipes for different needs, like time requirement, involvement, ingredients, memory attached, etc.  I have both my Grandma's sugar cookie recipes.  My Dad's Mom baked a lot.  She was always making some kind of bread or cookies or pie.  I have tried to make her sugar cookies and mine are not quite as good as hers.  I'll need to practice them a bit more.  My Mom's Mom baked and cooked a lot too.  She was a fantastic cook, specializing in comfort foods, like any respectable Grandma.  Some things I can specifically remember are her sugar cookies, Sloppy Joes (which I can not stop calling Sloppy José's for some reason), potato soup and mashed potatoes.  

I'm a treat-aholic.  I love treats.  Especially sweet treats.  Especially savory treats.  Especially sweet and savory treats.  I like treats.  Can you tell this pregnancy has put a bit of a hiatus on my diet?  Anyway, Tony isn't much for sweets.  He likes pumpkin desserts, fine chocolates, some ice creams, and usually desserts with peanut butter.  Oh-and Rice Krispie Treats (from the store).  Oh, and Dove Bars.  Mmmm...anyway.  Regular old sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies, he could take them or leave them.  So, when I make cookies, I end up eating most of them.  It's not good for my bum.  Really not good.  I'm looking forward to a lot of calorie burning after baby brother is born.

So-this is my favorite sugar cookie recipe, shared with me by a good friend of mine.  I don't think she'll mind me sharing it with all of you. I decrease the recipe because it makes a lot, but like she says, they freeze well, so maybe stash away a few dozen for a cookie emergency.

Sugar Cookies

4 C flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ C shortening
1 ½ C sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 C milk
1 tsp soda dissolved in 1 T hot water
1 tsp vanilla (or almond or lemon extract)

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, shortening and sugar as you might a pie crust until pea-sized crumbles form.  Combine eggs, milk, soda/water mixture and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture until just combined.  Roll to about 1/4" thick and cut out shapes as desired.   (I usually do that with half the dough at a time).  Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies brown slightly around the edges.   Cool and frost with your favorite buttercream.  Baked cookies freeze quite well.

*When the dough is mixed, it will be quite sticky.  If it seems so sticky that I can't handle it, I'll sometimes add more flour before rolling it out.  Chilling the dough might also help, although I almost never do.  You'll probably also need to use a pretty liberal amount of flour to roll and cut out.  However, I've found that too much flour/handling can result in a tough dough.  It's a tricky balance, but I think these cookies are totally worth the mess and effort.

****

Now, after trying several frosting recipes and being disgusted with most of them (too powered sugary-blech!), I turn to where I always turn for something yummy.  You know what I'm going to say.  PW.  Here is our favorite frosting recipe from, MissyDew.  You can find the original post on Tasty Kitchen.

The Best Frosting I've Ever Had


5 T Flour
1 C Milk
1 t Vanilla
1 C Butter
1 C Granulated Sugar


Bake your favorite chocolate cake and let it cool. {or the sugar cookies listed above}
In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.


While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.


Grab a spoon and taste this wonderful goodness. If there is any left after your taste test, spread it on a cooled chocolate cake.


Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fun and Food-that's what we do here.

This week has been fun and not fun.  Tony has been down with Strep.  Ew.  
That's been the not so fun part.
Since he's been home, we've had the car more than usual, which has been fun.

On Wednesday, we had preschool where we did a little nature scavenger hunt.  One of the items on the list was an acorn.  Lucy said to me, "We need to find an acorn, so we'll need to look for an Oak tree."  I was a bit flabbergasted.  I'm not sure I remembered that acorns come from Oaks.




After preschool we went to a little commercial audition for a local business.  It was fun, Lucy did great, but I'll be really surprised if they call.  After, we went to Lucy's favorite place, Panera, and took our lunch to the park to enjoy.

"Cream cheese kiss"

Some other fun stuff we've done this week:
Blew bubbles with a friend
Had lunch with friends
Playgroup
Played with cousins
Book club (Wednesday Wars-2 thumbs up)
Passed the glucose test! Hooray.  I was worried about this one.
Found some good deals at garage sales
Had dinner with some wonderful life-long friends
Went geocaching
Finished a really good book (A Proper Pursuit)
Regional Conference

Now for the food part.  For dinner tonight I tried Mel's BBQ Chicken Braid.  It turned out really good.  I made coleslaw to go with it and that was even better on top of the braid.  Yum.  I think we'll do this for our next picnic meal.  Now because I'm the only one eating around here there is a lot left over.  I should note that I used my own French bread recipe and I used Vidalia onions instead of red, I don't care for the pungency of the red.  Wish you were here for leftovers.





Sunday, May 08, 2011

Partnership


I've been thinking about how as a mother, I wouldn't be nearly the mother I am without the amazing mothers I have followed, my own mother, my sister, my grandmothers, my mother-in-law, the countless women who have mothered me over my life, but a bit more than that, I wouldn't be the mother I am without the partner I chose.  Today, I am thankful for a husband who encourages and inspires me to continually be a better mother.  Parenting is a partnership, it's hard work, and it takes both of us to handle the challenges and is so much sweeter to share it's joys.
I partner with Tony as we partner with the Lord.  When I was going in for my back surgery in '08, and my biggest concern wasn't the surgery itself, it was being away from my daughter.  Tony gave me a blessing of comfort and in it he described the special bond between Lucy and I and how Heavenly Father loves her more than we love her.  I couldn't, and still can't, fathom that kind of love.  How could He love her more than I do?  But He does.  And if He loves her, that means He loves me.  I'm so thankful to a perfect Heavenly Father who knew that through parenting we would most learn to be like our Savior and return to Him.  
I came across this article recently, by Darla Isackson, and it's message really resonated with me.  Here is a little portion of it.
"I don’t remember the moment that it hit me. But suddenly Matthew 25:40 took on a whole new meaning—an application to mothering. You know the scripture; it’s the one where the Lord explains the best reason for treating others well, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  Because they are so busy with mundane daily tasks of family life, most mothers are famous for asking the questions that precede those profound words, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, . . . and came unto thee?” (Matthew 25: 37-39)
Yet who does all those things more consistently than mothers? They patiently give food to their hungry children--many times a day. They give them water when they are thirsty, and clothe them when they are naked--which is much more often than at bath-time for many little ones! They nurse their children through endless nights of illness, and come to them, “visit” them constantly to fill their every need. Yet mothers tend to say, “that doesn’t count,” and feel they are not doing their part when they have little time or energy to serve outside the home. All of us as mothers need to allow ourselves to feel the Savior’s appreciation for our service to His little ones, our own children.
There is so much to learn from the words, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these . . .Ye have done it unto me.” No mother can tenderly nurture her baby, or do her best to comfort an older child without meriting the Savior’s commendation for doing what He would do if He were present."
Happy Mother's Day to all the special mothers in my life and for their choice to follow Him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

20 years ago today...


I will forever be thankful to parents who lead me, guided me and showed me the way.

Monday, May 02, 2011

"Wait...you can't eat yet...I have to take a picture."


I take pictures of our food before we eat it. :)


Super yum.  You sick of hearing about how good her recipes are?  Too bad.  
I'm going to keep making them.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

My helper and Lucyisms



We got to watch Genny one day last week.  We were so excited.  Lucy wanted to help with everything.  When it came time to feed her I let Lucy take over.  She did such a great job.  Genny was a bit leary at first but when she realized the spoon kept returning she seemed okay with it.

Lucy has said some funny things lately that I want to record:

We were in the car running errands on Saturday and she was playing with her glittery bunny ears that were in her Easter basket.

She said: "How come the glitter doesn't come off?"
Me: "It's stuck on with really strong glue."
Lucy: "Like duck glue?"
Me: ???
Then I realized she meant "Duct Glue," like the tape-she knows Duct tape is really strong tape.
Me: "Yup, duck glue." :)


Lucy has been working really hard at keeping her pull-ups dry at night, she went on an 8 day dry spell, ending on Saturday morning.  She slept in Saturday which I suspect was her demise.  When she goes 14 days in a row and is ready to wear underwear to bed she gets to go to Chuck E. Cheese.  She's never been but is sure it will be the highlight of her life.  So, when she woke up wet she was disappointed, but I've been sure not to blame her or make her feel bad.  I just told her, it's alright, her body is just telling her it's not ready to wear underwear at night yet and when it is, we'll celebrate.  This morning, she woke up dry.

She said, "14 days!"
Me: "Yup, just 13 more."
Lucy: "My body's not ready for cottage cheese."