in the kitchen

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For years I’ve been making dinner with children underfoot.  Isn’t it grand.  Indeed, if it isn’t a child, it’s the dog.  Or maybe even both.

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David is almost 16.  He knows if he wants some attention, he just needs to lay on the floor in the middle of the kitchen while I’m making meatloaf.

I asked him to peel potatoes.  He got frustrated because he didn’t like the peeler.  I got frustrated because he peeled them on the floor.  But he cleaned the floor when he was done.

Dinner was great.

Since the oven was already on and hot for the meatloaf, I made a chocolate cake for dessert, too.

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I baked our family favorite chocolate cake recipe and coated it with a newly found recipe for Glossy Chocolate Frosting, which tastes great with the cake.   It ends up being like a thin layer of not-too-sweet soft chocolate fudge.  And stays shiny!

Glossy Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
3 T. cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup boiling water
2 1/2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, salt and add water.  Cook until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla.  Spread on cake while hot for a glossy frosting which stays soft and smooth.  This recipe is enough for a 9 by 13 cake.

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I took the kids to the local library today.  Seth and Sarah always play a silent game of hide and seek in the library without running.  They always do this…. why don’t they sit and read books is what I want to know.

David read a book about weapons.  I recently bought him a new white t-shirt covered in dark red roses and he looks handsome in it.   He stayed by my side in the kitchen last night and at the library this morning.   He’s a great friend and son and always makes me laugh.  He tried to insult me the other day by saying, “I’m this way because of YOU.” but it just made my heart melt, as I took it as an ultimate compliment.

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Grace looked at a book about Art and I picked out two books on home decorating.  Weapons for Dave, art for Grace, and home decorating for me were all conveniently located in the same area so we sat on the floor together.  Caleb came over to us now and then to add to his pile of books which he left with me (Garfield, football)….

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I checked out the books while the children looked at charming paintings and talked to each other.

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And I thought to myself, “They love their sister.”

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I went to the farmer down the road next for some packs of nice hamburger.  I am going to make Dorito chip Salad for dinner.  Seth and Sarah know if they come in with me they can ask the farmer (or his wife) for a popsicle and they will say “yes” and cut the top off for them.

When we got home I took another cat portrait, this time Sherlock was with David, rather reluctantly.

Seth is standing here with his arm around my neck waiting for me to be done typing.  We are about to make another cake because there was only one piece left this morning and he wanted it.  However, I ate it in a weak moment (it was so good, so worth it) and I told him we could make another one.

Brittnee is happy.

Brittnee is always happy (says Seth).

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caleb’s most favorite pancakes

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The boys found me writing in my journal, still in bed, when they woke up.  They also found our big beautiful (but very shy) black cat and to our surprise, he allowed himself to be loved……..

…..while petting the cat, Caleb cleared his throat and asked, “Mom could you make pancakes this morning?  The ones with cinnamon?”  

“You mean your favorite ones that you always ask me to make?”

“Yeah.”

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Spiced Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg
1/1/4 cups buttermilk (I keep dry in the pantry and add it to milk)
2 tablespoons oil

Mix dry ingredients and in a separate bowl mix the wet, then pour wet into dry to combine.  Fry on griddle alongside sausage or bacon.  Serve with warmed maple syrup and, in my case, a sliced banana.  Yum!  Maybe they will be your favorites, now, too!

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*******

“The Swedish artist Carl Larsson made the everyday life of his wife Karin and their seven children the subject of his most famous watercolors.  Instead of idealizing everything in its place, he painted what he saw; the dog asleep on the parlor floor, cast-off slippers, a rumpled sofa scattered with newspapers.  These are the frames of a home movie shot by a doting father and an artist who focused his lens on the comforts of the real and unadorned home.”  a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life by mary randolph carter

 

jam mama (part 2)

Ten years ago almost to this very day I wrote a post on my blog which was untitled but included the words…..JAM MAMA……

“You should have seen small Grace
diving into the warm cup of jam
that I set out on the table,
with a loaf of soft white bread from the bakery.
She tore of big chunks of bread
and dipped the majority of it down
into the bright red jam. . . .
there is just nothing like that warm, strawberry taste
. . . .it’s heavenly.

She called me ‘jam-mama’.”
July 12, 2008

Ten years have come and gone……

Grace is 18 now and was at work (as a cashier downtown at the grocery store) yesterday when I walked up the road to “see if there were any raspberries left”.  I determined to really look and really pick every single good enough berry I could find.  This involved lots of bending over and looking underneath the tangle of vines and briars and taking my merry ol’ sweet time.

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I eventually came home with 6 cups.

Incidentally, these berries grow on the side of the road, free for the foraging!  I already have a gallon of them frozen in our chest freezer in the pantry.  Once they ripen, we have to go back every couple of days to pick some more until they are finally all done.  They are productive!

We have a small patch of wild raspberries over by the chicken coop, too, which the chickens love to jump up and eat off the cane.  Then they lay us the most lovely eggs out of appreciation.

The black-cap raspberries grow on the bank by our drive way and under the dead pine tree at the bottom of the yard by the pond.

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I always pick clean but you never know what little creatures may have taken a ride home with the berries.  So I dumped them out to look through them.

I put them in a pan and simmered them until they released all their juice.  I strained out the seeds, measured the juice (2 cups) and added them back to the pan with the same amount of sugar (2 cups).  Brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes and then beaten with the mixer for another 3 minutes.  Done!  So easy, so satisfying.

I was given the recipe by my very own jam mama, Cindy.

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Jacob said the jelly would taste good on “that cake you made the other day” and Ethan suggested some other baked good and I said “How about homemade biscuits?” And he said YES PLEASE.

I made a double batch of biscuits and we all ate them up right away with the homemade jelly on top.

Everywhere I looked there were children grabbing  another and another biscuit, slathering it with butter and jelly, and walking away with it………

This morning my feet are sticking to the carpet and the floor.

vanilla cake, vanilla frosting

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What a special evening our youngest had with her brothers and sister.  They played games together, and big brother Jacob made the quick trip to the grocery store in town to buy some ice cream.  He came home with strawberry, peanut butter cup, cookies and cream, and party cake ice cream.  Rich and I sat contentedly in the living room with the sounds of a full house all around us; doors opening and shutting, chatter, laughter, basketball bouncing on the driveway, footsteps walking or running, upstairs, downstairs, drinks in the kitchen, on and on, so much energy!  Soon it was time for the birthday song and cake.  Sarah watched her Dad light the candles.  She watched so intently as her siblings continued to be silly all around her.  Her face as we sang was precious to see, all sparkling eyes and big smile.  The cake was amazing.  Even Ethan agreed, and he doesn’t typically like cake.  The birthday girl was offended when I bragged, “I made it myself.” because she helped make the frosting.

Cake:

1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Oven set to 350.  Grease 9 by 13 cake pan.  Whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla in 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined.  Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until only pea-sized pieces remain.  Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Give batter final stir by hand.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and bak until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely.  recipe from Cook’s Country Cookbook  (it’s the cake part of the recipe for Lane cake).

Frosting:

1 stick butter
4 T.  milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, milk, and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until light and fluffy.  Makes enough frosting for one 9 by 13 cake.

memorial day weekend

Our morning routine has changed since the college children have come home.  Ethan and Jacob have a work-out routine that they need to do for sports this fall so Rich gets up with them early (around 5) and they go next door to our garage.  The upstairs of our garage is set up with a variety of gym equipment; everything they need for their work out each morning.  They have leg day, arm day, etc.  When Rich comes back into our bedroom to walk through to the bathroom, I wake up and go out to the living room.  My intention is to make coffee and sit with my one-year-Bible.  I like to sit and read and sip my coffee while David and Caleb get ready for school and Ethan, Jacob, and Rich get ready for work.  This is also a good time for them to come to me with complaints.

  • We are out of bananas.
  • We are out of milk, cream cheese, and bagels.  Also yogurt.
  • Jacob’s pants shrunk.
  • where is the cast iron pan?
  • where is the blender?
  • Ethan needs gas money.  Ethan cannot find his wallet.
  • Caleb needs money for school lunch.
  • I made beans yesterday, causing Rich to have to run back to the house several times during his work out.

To be fair, these didn’t come across as complaints (except the food.  David was truly annoyed about the bananas.  He ate peanut butter toast with chocolate chips and when I questioned him he said it would have been healthier with …… the bananas.)

Jacob laughed about his pants.

Ethan was cheerful about his wallet.

David almost forgot his lunch money.

I still haven’t finished my Bible portion of the day because then Seth and and Sarah woke up.

Sarah came down the stairs happy that tomorrow is her birthday.

As she walked into the kitchen with Seth I heard her say slyly, “And Mom is NOT picking you up early from school with me.”  It immediately became an argument.

When questioned, Seth told me that the other day when I asked Sarah to go to the house and get me my magazine, she had Seth do it, with the promise that “I will tell Mom to pick you up early from school on my birthday, too.”  So Seth got the magazine for her and  then she carried it the rest of the way to me, or I would have already figured this plot out.  (The child I asked to bring the magazine brought the magazine so I was not suspicious.)

That was two days ago.  In the meantime, Sarah had changed her mind.  It’s her birthday, she doesn’t want Seth to get picked up early with her.

Seth was saying one thing and Sarah was saying another.  She even pretty much lied about making the promise to Seth, I am very sorry to say.  She said, “I don’t remember saying it like that.”  hmmmmm

Rich came out of the bedroom so I asked him to be the judge.  Except the man didn’t even know that I had told Sarah I would pick her up early.  He takes school seriously and never lets the kids stay home unless they are truly sick.  So, it should not have been a surprise to me that after he got involved no one was getting picked up from school.  

I thought Sarah would be sad but she ate breakfast and perked right up.  Everyone’s happy now.

But meanwhile, through all this, Parker (our dog) had tried to steal the cat’s can of cat food (the cats get ONE can a day, the rest of the day they eat dry).  I sent Parker outside.  Sherlock ate his can and then Samantha came inside for her can.  Sammie is a really tiny female cat and Jacob stopped to cheer her on as she wolfed down her food, “Yeah, Sammie, get nice and fat!”……. and then to us, “I swear this cat only eats once a week.”  She promptly turned away from the bowl and threw up the entire can on the floor.

All this while I’m trying to read the Bible!

Sammie ran off so we let Parker back inside the house to clean up the cat’s mess.  After all, it wasn’t even digested, it was barely even chewed.  But he didn’t even see it, he took the empty can and ran downstairs.  Ethan decided he wasn’t hungry for eggs anymore.

I was hiding behind my journal on the other side of the room.

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Now everyone is gone and the house is quiet.  The dishwasher is going.  I took the silverware tray out of the drawer to wash that, too.  The vacuum is sitting in the kitchen as I have decided that today would be a good day to vacuum all the crumbs out of cupboards and drawers.  I am going to Costco soon for cream cheese, bagels, bread, butter, milk, mayo, paper towels, and yogurt.

Seth and Caleb have baseball games tonight.

The sun is out and it’s a clear, cool, and sunny morning.

*****

I did copy down one verse in my journal before putting morning Scripture reading aside:

All of us must die eventually.  Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.  But God does not just sweep life away; instead He devises ways to bring us bak when we have been separated from Him.  2 Samual 14

I LOVED THIS VERSE.

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How was your Memorial Day?  I’m thankful that Seth and Caleb were in the parade or we may have not bothered to get out the door to attend.  It’s always such a fun atmosphere in town when it’s parade day.  We dropped off the boys at the parade start and then parked the car.  We walked to the coffee shop for 1 soda (Dave), 1 apple juice (Sarah), 1 regular coffee in a mug that he returned after the parade (Rich) and 1 caramel latte (myself).  Grace didn’t want anything.

Grace went across the road to sit with Dave and Sarah.  Rich and I walked to a shop down the sidewalk a little ways and said hello to the lovely lady who owns the shop.  I picked out a little gift for a sick friend and he bought his two girls each a bracelet.  Then we joined the kids on the other side of the street, saying hello to Grace’s boyfriend’s parents on the way.

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Such dear girls.  They have been close friends (same grade in school) longer than Jacob and Brittnee have been a couple.  What I love about Brittnee is her good-natured cheerfulness.  And she can hold her own in this family, too.  For example yesterday Seth came over to say something and when he walked away she said accurately, “He’s so cute sometimes.”  and we laughed and laughed.  We’ve baked together and she and Grace are working on a garden (I have my doubts of whether it will be a success bc it’s like a mile away from the house).

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I took a photo of the garden behind us because I want to find the purple flowers which are on the left and the pink flowers on the right (growing tall out of the green leafy clump).  They are so pretty and would look just right in my flower beds.

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Seth in the parade standing close to his teammate (wearing Jays uniform).

Caleb was in the marching band playing a percussion instrument that looked like a plastic football with ridges that he had to rub with a stick.  In the video you can see at the very last second he makes eye contact with me and sort of grimace-smiles.  He will be 13 in July and is at the sad age when he leans away from me when I try to pat his shoulder, or put my arm around him or hug him or touch his cheek or make any sort of motherly contact.  He LEANS AWAY without a word of complaint.  It’s quite painful but all part of the growing up process when the boy has to teach the mom to stop with the babyish personal contact.  Motherly touches are now reserved for special occasions (severe injury, terrible sickness, at the moment of return after a long absence *or* birthdays) *or* when HE initiates.  (He does still come to me for a hug now and then in the privacy of our own home).

I had to post the video because I didn’t get any photos of him for the same reason that I didn’t touch him.  He wants no part of it.  I didn’t want to beg.

Also there are no photos of our other son, Ethan, as he was away with Tessa all day long.

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Sarah made out pretty good.  Grace and the brothers were amused that several little boys yelled, “HI SARAH” to her as they were in the parade marching and saw her on the sidewalk.  They asked who one of the boys was and she said, “You tell me!  I don’t know his name!”  She has attitude.  We don’t know what will become of her as she has had a very full life so far and she’s only 8.  The youngest child is just as interesting as the rest of them, don’t you agree?  So unique and fascinating.  A little scary.  In a good way.

Her dad calls her Sally.

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The other side of the bridge is a drop off down into the shallow stream.  Like, if he fell he WOULD have been hurt pretty bad.  But that didn’t stop him from running to jump up on the wall and walk around on it.  I try so hard to keep my mouth shut………….. most of the time I fail.  He had a big handful of Sarah’s candy in his sweatshirt pocket.   Yesterday he told us he was growing out his hair long and I said “I always wanted another daughter” just to make him laugh.  What I really wanted to say was “Please don’t”.

The beautiful brick buildings in the back are a church and the town museum.  The little road leading to the right is the entrance to a park.  I just love our town.

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Later on that day we went for a walk and Jacob found this bug.  It was like 3 inches long! It’s so pretty!

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And I saw 4 lady slippers growing on the side of the road.  These two and then another two that were about 4 feet away.

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This morning Parker the dog was wandering around with a lollipop in his mouth.  Must be Sarah left her candy lying around on the floor.

He’s currently snoring flat on his side on the couch next to me.   I think he’s relieved to have a quiet house today.   He’s an old dog now, trying to keep up with his busy family!

 

tuesday morning

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Good Morning!

The pie tasted even better this morning.  I just ate a piece for breakfast.  (more details on instagram).  Sunlight is flooding, FLOODING into the room and it’s glorious.  We’ve finally had warm springtime weather and I spent most of the afternoon yesterday outdoors.  I was looking forward to blogging but as soon as the door slammed behind the children going to school after a long spring break and I was alone in the house for the first time in forever, what did I end up doing?

C L E A N I N G

I turned on the tv and cleaned away to my hearts content asking myself who I was and why and how did I turn into this woman delighting in cleaning when she was alone in her very own nest?

And then, I read my book which is just getting good and un-put-downable, went for a brisk walk, watched the busy birds, and baked a pie.

This morning when the door slammed I grabbed my computer to blog.

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Guess what play Sarah is going to see today?  And guess who was making her laugh while I took her photo?

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*****

The Lord loves you not to-day, Christian, because of anything you are doing, or
being, or saying, or thinking, but he loves you still, because his great heart is full of
love, and it runneth over to you…….. Charles Spurgeon

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pizza dough recipe

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By what magic does my mother make her fabulous pizza?  I’ve tried for years but curiously enough, it is only recently that I feel as though there is hope for me, her eldest daughter, to follow in her footsteps.

I texted her last week to tell her I was going to make it but it wouldn’t be as good as hers and she replied, “Maybe I’ll make it too” and I said, “Then we’ll be the same.” and she said, “In spirit” and I said, “What do you set your oven to?” and she replied, “475”…..”on the lower shelf so it gets crispy on the bottom.”

Hours later, I sent her a photo of the results.

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“That looks perfect,” she wrote.

The next day she sent me a photo of the bottom of her pizza crust and it looked exactly the same.54506716276__12E75B43-9D7E-4A62-A53D-E589479F86F1

This was the point of turning for me, from hesitant frustrated pizza maker, to confident and joyful.

I had given Seth, Sarah, and Michael each a lump of dough to make their own pizzas, too.  It was the first time Michael had made a pizza.  This was last week.  When he came over again yesterday I asked them all what they wanted for dinner and he requested pizza again.  In this way I knew it had been a good experience for him.  Unfortunately I had already made it the previous night.  Michael works at a boy’s home and is going to started cooking with the boys four times a month (on Saturdays).  He started writing up a meal plan and Pizza made with Actual Dough was on the list.

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Sarah bragged that she “Ate seven pieces”.

Seth said “My stomach’s extended.”

Sarah said, “My taste buds are out.”

David and Caleb were so jolly after a tummy full of pizza that they ran around the house trying to pull each other’s, and Seth’s, pants down.

I’ve tried several recipes for pizza dough but this is the one that makes my heart sing.

Shanda’s Pizza Dough Recipe

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 T. white sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 T. olive oil
1 T. salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, let sit until creamy, about 10 minutes.  Stir in olive oil, whole wheat flour, salt, and 4 cups of bread flour into the yeast mixture.  Mix in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  (I use a kitchen aid mixer).  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  (I leave the dough in the kitchen aid mixer bowl).  Cover with a damp cloth and put in warm place to rise until doubled in volume; about 1 hour.

Deflate dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and form into rounds.  Cover the rounds and let them rest for about 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 475.  Use a rolling pin (or hands) to roll dough into the desired shape, cover it with your favorite toppings.  Place on bottom rack in oven until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
recipe source:  allrecipes.com