adventure

We are leaving to take Grace to college on Friday morning.  Jacob will be coming home this weekend while we are gone, to pick up Ethan and take him back to college with him. So we are savoring the last week at home before a very busy weekend.

I’m sitting cross legged on the couch, still in my pajamas.  The kids are playing a game and Parker the dog is stretched out next to me, snoring.  Gentleman Gray is grooming himself on the end table.

We had rain in the night.  The outdoors is fresh and clean and the sun is shining bright.  I ate a piece of pie out on the porch and watched the morning birds fly about.  I saw a hummingbird chase around a titmouse and a bee sipping nectar from a flower in my garden.

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I recently made a pound cake and it turned out so good I thought I would share the recipe.  Click HERE for a yummy Vanilla Bean-Brownie Ripple Pound Cake from Southern Living.  And it used up five eggs so it was a winner in every way.  (I’m always looking for recipes that use up the eggs from our flock of 14 hens).

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I quartered some baby potatoes and fried them with an onion and some peppers.  When they were done, I made a spot for four eggs and cooked them with the lid on until they were just soft in the middle but not gooey in any way (I hate runny eggs).  It was a delicious breakfast and so easy.

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I was gazing at the monarch caterpillars when I saw Gentleman Gray trot by the window with a frog in his mouth, legs every which way.

Cats are funny.

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Ethan spent over an hour yesterday morning learning a new song on the guitar.

It was like he couldn’t stop, he was so focused.

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Why yes, she WAS singing “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?”

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Caleb got his summer reading assignment done.

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Grace and Tessa worked on a puzzle.

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Watching a movie with the kids (Lego Batman).

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The two swallowtail caterpillars finally stopped eating and began the chrysalis stage.  Instead of dangling like the monarchs do, they hang themselves under a stick using a loop of silk.

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And then, like magic, they turn into something that looks just like a stick.

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I recently got this at Goodwill.  “Five little maidens out on the green, Happier maidens never were seen.”

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legs

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I have about 10,000 peaches to take care of thanks to our one and only tree being LOADED this year!  (I made a pie yesterday).

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Grace and I finally got her college preparations done yesterday.  AND manicures and pedicures.

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*****

“The less we are attached to life, the more alive we can become.  The less we have preferences about life, the more deeply we can experience and participate in life.  This is not to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast to blueberry muffins.  It is to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast so much that I am unwilling to get out of bed unless I can have raisin toast, or that the absence of raisin toast ruins the whole day.  Embracing life may be more about tasting than it is about either raisin toast or blueberry muffins.  More about trusting one’s ability to take joy in the newness of the day and what it may bring.  More about adventure than having your own way.”

~Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. in Kitchen Table Wisdom

 

cherry bars

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The path to the chicken coop is getting easier to trudge.  With all the snow we had last week it became a little annoying to wade through it multiple times a day to check on things.  We still have snow everywhere but our footsteps have stomped away most of the snow on the way to the coop so it’s easier to walk although I do find myself getting grumpy at times.  “Why did we put it so far from the house?” “The snow is blinding me!”  “Oh I just got some in my shoe”  “I hate snow”  “Slip”  “Fall” “trip”.  I spent more time down there this morning simply because although the wind was blowing quite a bit, the sun was shining and there was an actual warmth.  I said hello to the rabbits and the chickens said hello to me.  I sat down on the feed bag and a chicken hopped on my lap.  One sat on the rabbit cage right behind me and softly pecked my hair.  They are curious birds.

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Invariably, we have a cat visitor or two, as well.  The chickens become nervous.

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They like to sink down into the hay to lay their egg and I always think to myself that they seem to enjoy the time spent waiting for it to arrive.  I watch them fuss and arrange the hay strand by strand and get as comfortable as possible.  If another hen comes too close, the one sitting makes an ugly caw  which means “Get away from me!”

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They do not fancy the snow and do not go far these days.  I prop the door open for fresh air and they hop in and out of the coop.

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A favorite egg laying spot.

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another curious cat visitor

He ended up with no where to go, so he had to back shuffle until he could jump back down.  It was cute because he stirred up dust along the way.

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Some of the hens melted down to the floor in the sleepy sunshine.  They stretched out their wings to soak in some healing rays.

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As soon as a hen was done, I took her egg and put it in my pocket.  (They would rather me let them eat them).  I have over a dozen saved in this way.  What to make?

How about Cherry Bars?

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1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 (21 oz) cans cherry pie filling

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the extracts.  Combine flour and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture just until combined.

Spread 3 cups batter into a greased 15 by 10 by 1 inch baking pan.  Spread with pie filling.  Drop the remaining batter by teaspoonfuls over filling.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until done.  Cool on a wire rack.  Combine *the glaze ingredients; drizzle over the top.  Cut into bars.  Yield: 5 dozen

*THE GLAZE
I cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 Tablespoons milk

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recipe source:  taste of home baking classics cookbook  pg 370

 

braided egg bread (life with purpose)

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

I know without a shadow of doubt that motherhood is my calling.
I remember as a teen all I wanted to be “when I grew up” was a mother.

Women can be and do so many things.  For me, for now, being a stay at home mom is what makes me feel the most content and satisfied.  For others, a feeling of utter contentment occurs as they perform their own particular gifts.  Although I am open and prayerful to doing more, (librarian?volunteer?photographer?dentist?) for now I have no other yearning or interest for anything else other than mothering these seven children of mine and tending our house and home.  Eventually these years will be over and I trust that God will lead me toward a new way of living.  I look forward to the future.

What was in my heart and soul as I mixed up bread dough with Sarah?
Joy that made me reach for the camera.  Love as I saw how big she was getting and yet she is still small enough to live in the moment.  Peace in the safety and security of knowing all my family was home.  The sun was shining, *all was well* (never taken for granted, because someone could skin a knee at any moment).  Gratitude to God for giving us our daily bread–bread for our stomachs AND our souls.

Making bread is a very humble pursuit.  Our ancestors baked bread daily and it became an endless chore for them.  It’s a treat for me, I bake bread when I want to, not because I need to, but the connection I feel with the ages makes the process satisfying.  Such humble ingredients; yeast, water, milk, butter, salt, and flour.

Whatever has happened before will happen again. Whatever has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.  Ecclesiastes 1:9

The Bible says truthfully there is nothing new under the sun.  Motherhood. Baking bread.  These things have always been and always will be, as long as the sun and moon endure.  But these humble acts are our prayer of praise to Him as He opens our hearts and makes them tender toward all our blessings.

Meaning can be found in relation to Him, thus making life here tolerable, even delightful, and making ultimate existence possible, through Jesus Christ. All those things that make life here so weary and boring can have new meaning, when you understand who God is, what Christ did and you connect yourself to the genuineness of being a child of God.”  ~Warren Berkley

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“Crack it a little harder and use BOTH your thumbs to open the egg– like a door!”

She did it with enthusiasm for each time.

We admired the deep yellow of our good eggs.

“That one is a lighter yellow.” she noticed.

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She loves the feel of sinking her hand into cool, soft, flour.

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Surrounded by smiles and color.

Making homemade bread.

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Mainly she wanted, more than anything, to eat the dough.

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She absolutely loves bread dough.

I love her.

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Letting it rise in a big big bowl.  Learning about patience.

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David wandered through to tell me that he found a special way to wash his hair in order to make it grow faster (he wants long hair).  You use eggs.  Rub them in the hair and let it stay in it for an hour.  Then rinse and condition with coconut oil.

This information solved The Mystery of why the coconut oil kept appearing out of the kitchen cupboard.  I enthusiastically felt his hair and it was amazingly soft.

He also said that rubbing your scalp induces faster hair growth.

Motherhood.  Full of gripping facts and experiences.

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Goldilocks! said the nineteen year old as he walked by.

Braids!  said the sixteen year old as she walked by.

Art in the kitchen.

Children underfoot.

Teens in the other room laughing, talking, making music.

Gratitude in my heart.

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Painting with egg.

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It’s finally done, dance!

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….slicing, buttering, placing it in their hands, watching them come back for more….

Home is the art of life….Home is where we feel at ease, where we belong, where we create surroundings that reflect our tastes and pleasures…making a home is a form of creativity open to everyone.  ~Terence Conrah

Take steps to practice joy in your daily life, and it will expand naturally.  Let joy fill your heart, and your heart will gladden your health.  Dr. Mao Shing Ni

“I practiced joy that day as I baked bread.  The children were with me, we used up eggs, the smell was wonderful, the braids of dough were fun to form, they baked up large and golden, and the taste was fantastic.  It was a  joy to slice, butter, serve and give to my loved ones.  Feeding others is a gift to the giver.”

Braided Egg Bread from allrecipes.com

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (if you buy in bulk this is 4 1/2 tsp of yeast)
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup water
5 eggs
11 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I didn’t have these)
Proof yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl.
Combine hot milk, sugar, butter, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Cool to 110 degrees.
In small bowl, slightly beat 5 eggs, then add to cooled milk mixture. Add milk mixture to yeast mixture. Add 2 cups flour and beat until smooth. Slowly add remaining flour until it forms a stiff dough. Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes (5 minutes with a bread hook). Place in a large glass or plastic bowl lightly greased. Turn dough over to grease both sides. Cover and let rise in a warm, dark place until doubled in volume, approximately 60 minutes.
Punch down, cover, and let rise again until double, approximately 30 minutes.
Punch again, and form into three parts. Form each part into a 20-inch roll. Braid rolls on a large, greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled.
Lightly beat remaining egg and brush loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for about 55 minutes until nicely browned. May be made into two regular sized loaves. Reduce baking time slightly.

recipe source:  allrecipes.com

banana cream pie

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Yesterday after a spaghetti dinner, I asked my husband if he would take me to Agway because we were out of chicken feed.  He agreed, and it was a lovely drive together.  When we arrived home, he drove the truck close to the coop and unloaded four bags of feed.  I got out with him and gathered eggs, there were so many that my pockets were full of them.  In fact, one fell out of my pocket as I stepped back in the truck and Parker the Dog ate it.  Rich drove us back up to the house and that was that.

Well, this morning I received a text from him.  On the way to work he had to make a sudden stop, and when he did, out the corner of his eye he saw something fly from the passenger seat and smash into the dash.  And what do you suppose it was?  Yep, I had lost another egg out of my pockets and left it behind in the seat to become a missile.  It broke and everything.  ha ha  (sorry honey!)

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Another fantastic way to use up an overflow of eggs is homemade pudding.

Vanilla Pudding

In a heavy medium saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3 T. cornstarch or flour.  Stir in 3 cups of milk.  Cook and stir over medium heat till bubbly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  Gradually stir 1 cup of milk mixture into 4 beaten egg yolks or 2 beaten eggs.

Add egg mixture to milk mixture in saucepan.  If using egg yolks, bring to a gentle boil; if using whole eggs, cook till nearly bubbly but do not boil.  Reduce heat.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat  Stir in 1 T butter and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Pour pudding through a fine sieve to remove any clumps.  Then pour into a cooked pie shell or a bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to touch the top and prevent a “skin”.  Chill.

Chocolate Pudding

Prepare as above except add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the sugar.  Use 2 T. cornstarch or 1/4 cup flour, 2 2/3 cups milk, and 4 eggs yolks (not whole eggs)

RECIPE SOURCE:  Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (mine is falling apart, it’s well used)

NOTE:  The part about the sieve is not in the original recipe.  But, although I am sure no one in my family would even notice a tiny clump or two, I cannot stand little tiny clumps of cooked egg and so far have not perfectly mastered the technique of cooked custard.  So I use the sieve just in case.  Also, I know I mentioned that I would be sharing recipes that used five or more eggs.   But I figured that you will want to double the recipes because homemade pudding is so nutritious and delicious.

Another NOTE:  Rich’s favorite is a pie made of vanilla pudding over a sliced banana!  I’m also going to try pouring cooled but not too solid yet pudding into a popsicle maker.

*****

David got home while I was finishing up this blog post and he showed me two Barnes and Noble gift cards that he won today at school.  The first one was given because he was the student who had read the most books this school year.  Then, he won another when his name was taken out of a raffle box.  He also told me that he looked swag today.  I said, “I do not know what that even means.” And he said, “It means I looked cool.”  This was his outfit:  jeans, a blue t-shirt, a black jacket with the sleeves rolled up, a bracelet worn on his wrist, neon green socks, and black hyperdunk sneakers.

This is the first I’ve ever heard of him even caring to look swag.

*****

Happy Friday!

hamburger dinner quiche

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Good morning friends!  I am feeling quite productive this morning.  After getting the kids off to school I got into my car and drove poor poor Gentleman Gray to the vet.  When he returns back home he will no longer be Gentleman Gray, he will be Gentle”man” Gray.  LOL  He yowled all the way to the vet but did seem soothed when he heard my voice saying, “It’s okay, kitty kitty kitty”…so I did that, a lot.

After leaving him, I went to the grocery store.  It was 8:00 in the morning and the place was quiet and nice actually.  I’m finally beginning to slow down, now that I am adjusting to life with no children during the day.  So I slowly pushed my cart all over the store and slowly made decisions about what to purchase.  It was great.  I bought a cart full and then left, bought a medium coffee from McDonalds and ate a banana on the way home.

I brought in the groceries and put things away.  Then, I made a quiche and some sausages for lunch whenever the two big boys downstairs decide to get up for the day (Jacob and Michael).

I scrubbed out the bathroom garbage can with bleach and soap water, and used Stainless Steel cleaning spray on my appliances and the trash can in the dining room.  I walked down to the coop to let out the hens and give them treats, gathered two eggs and gave one to Parker (he gets one a day), said hello to Samantha cat who stretched up on my leg for some petting, clawing me in the process.  It is already approaching 60 degrees which is wonderful for this part of the country, a fine beginning to a New England spring.

Since it’s been about a week since the last egg recipe, I thought I would share another that I made last night for the first time.  It was well received by everyone in the family ages 10 and up.  (Seth and Sarah did not like it as much).  I found the recipe at the taste of home website and adjusted it according to my desires…..

This recipe uses 8 eggs.  

 

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H a m b u r g e r   D i n n e r   Q u i c h e

1 pound ground beef
1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt (omit for lower sodium diet)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

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In a large skillet, cook the beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Meanwhile, line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes. Remove foil; bake for 5 minutes more. Set aside.
Drain beef; place in a large bowl. Add the eggs, sour cream, milk, onion, cornstarch, salt, pepper and 1 cup cheese. Pour into crust. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
If necessary, cover the edges of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand 5-10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Serve with salsa and sour cream.

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“this is good!”

“smells just like hamburger helper!”

PS, The quiche I made this morning was egg and cheese using another 8 eggs.

PSS, you are loved.  don’t forget.

cream cheese sheet cake

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eggs contain the highest quality protein you can buy
egg yolks are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of Vitamin D

~ thinkegg.com

I thought I would start a category here on the blog of recipes which use five or more eggs.  This will make a good resource for anyone out there who has a flock of chickens and is trying to use up eggs.   I’ve been keeping hens for years now and last spring I went a little overboard with ordering new chicks.  We have a flock of 20+ hens which each industriously lay one egg a day.  These fresh, beautiful eggs are like little treasures  and I love to use them up in the kitchen.  (I’m wanna be just like Bubba in Forrest Gump, only I’ll be spouting off egg facts and recipes instead of shrimp…..”goals”….)  🙂

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I made this cake last night for the first time and it was delicious.  I like sheet cakes as they are thinner than a typical cake, and more like a soft bar cookie easy to eat “out of hand”.

This is a good recipe to use if you are going to a potluck, as it makes 30 servings.

Cream Cheese Sheet Cake

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2- 1/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups cake flour

frosting:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Add flour; stir until well blended.

Pour into a greased 15 in by 10 in by 1 inch baking pan.  Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For frosting, in a small sauce pan, combine sugar and milk; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes (do not stir).  Stir in butter and chocolate chips until melted.  Remove from the heat; cool slightly.  Stir, then frost the top of the cake.