breakfast treat (brownie muffins)

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Chocolate Brownie Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl combine the first 6 ingredients.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs, milk, melted butter or oil, and vanilla.  Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Stir until just blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

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I made these muffins for the first time this morning, with Seth as my helper.  The recipe said it made a dozen but I got 48 mini-muffins so you could probably get 18-24 regular size muffins.

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We leave tomorrow to take Grace back to college and then spend a few days with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah on a weekend vacation together.  School for them starts on the 30th.

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The muffins are SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD!!!!  Make them!

 

 

raspberry vinegar

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“I’m so proud of my vinegar.”  ~Things I Never Thought I Would Say

Joanna gave me this cookbook.  I don’t remember when she gave it to me but it was published in 2012 and I simply LOVE it…the photography is luscious and lovely…and the theme, SUMMER, makes it an obvious month of July choice to pull from the shelf and look through, slowly, out on the porch in the breeze.  Yes, I persue it often at this time of year but I’ve never really tried a recipe until two weeks ago.

On Friday the 13th I found a recipe that excited me.  The date was important, as I knew with that date I wouldn’t forget “WHEN” I started the vinegar.  Friday the 13th is easy to remember.

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I’ve been picking cups and cups of wild raspberries, which are like gems, priceless gems, and the unusually generous amount this year gave me the freedom to easily sacrifice one and a half cups to make some raspberry infused vinegar.  The only downfall for me was having to wait the 2 weeks.

However, in typical busy mom fashion, after a couple days of being impatient about waiting, I completely forgot about it until today….two weeks later.

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I know the bottle isn’t very beautiful.  I couldn’t even find a mason jar.   But the bottle is BPA free, so………

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Right away, I reduced some of it in a pan on the stove in order to drizzle over cantaloupe. And while it was delicious, it looked rather like blood.

The cookbook suggests drizzling it over vanilla ice cream.  Can’t wait!

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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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a muffin morning

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“I’ll measure the flour, you can dump it in,”

“You’re good at measuring.”

“And you’re good at dumping.”

“3 Tablespoons of sugar.”

“You don’t have to mix so strenuously.”

“1 Tablespoon of baking powder.”

“Baking powder?”

“And 1 teaspoon of salt.”

“Did you already put the salt in?  I wanted to use my little teaspoon.”

“Okay, now we have to put the wet ingredients in this bowl.”

“You can crack the egg, just let me pour the milk in first.”

“A whole cup of milk.”

“I need to melt half a stick of butter.”

“The key to perfect muffins is to never over-mix the batter.”

“Repeat after me, I will never over-mix my muffin batter.”

“I will never over-mix my muffin batter.”

Good girl.

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Sarah ate all 6 of her tiny muffins and then ate one of mine.  Then Caleb and Seth each had a muffin.  Ethan came home from picking up Tessa and they ate the remaining nine muffins which meant Michael, David, Jacob, and I did not get a muffin.  (12-3=9)

“I feel so bad,” said Tessa when she realized.

“I don’t.  I’m proud of us.” said Ethan with his eyes closed contentedly.

thanksgiving preparations

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We are hosting thanksgiving dinner for our family on Thursday and this morning I began preparations.

I made the rolls…….

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let in a kitty

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kept making rolls….

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including a round pan of cinnamon rolls to be baked on Thursday morning for breakfast.

(for you, E)

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At this point, everything went into the freezer.  On thursday morning I will take the rolls out and put them in pans to rise and then bake them so they are nice and fresh for our feast day.

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next I will make a couple of

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pies, but first some

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coffee.  With

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Jake.

 

super long but I promise you will enjoy it

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On Tuesday I had to take Grace to the doctors because she was awake half the night in agony.  Turns out she had a full blown ear infection.  She stayed home from school for two days in a row because of it and is on antibiotics.

On Wednesday, Rich and I drove to Vermont to watch the very first wrestling event at Ethan’s college.  We watched him wrestle in the exhibition matches before the main event.  He lost to his opponent and then by the end of the night the varsity team ended up losing by a distant tie breaker. It was such a close competition.  The gym was packed and I loved how the refs encouraged all the young kids in the stands to come down and sit right by the mat to watch.  So, this was my favorite photo of the whole night, just because of this dear little boy who reminded me so much of Seth:

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After the meet Ethan was about to faint from hunger (slight exaggeration) and all he could do was think about food, so we took him to the college cafe and ordered two pizzas.  He wolfed down three pieces and then we got him a Ben and Jerry’s frozen yogurt to take back to his dorm room to eat in bed while watching Netflix.  Rich and I drove back home and were in bed by 1:15 in the morning.

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Moving on…..this post is actually about my son Caleb, who is rarely featured on my blog anymore because he is a little camera shy.  My early posts were pretty much all about him because he was my baby at the time.  Always a mama’s boy, always with a tender heart toward others.  Of course he has his silly side, and has made a name for himself at school and at football as “the boy who can make realistic chicken sounds.”  I’ll record it for you one of these days.

I LOVE KING ARTHUR FLOUR!!!!!!!  Caleb is in 6th grade and King Arthur FLOUR came to his school and taught the children HOW TO BAKE BREAD!!!!!  Can you even imagine?  What a blessed change from assemblies about “bullying” and “whatever social issue needs to be discussed” –not that there is anything wrong with that but you know what I mean.  They learned to bake bread!

Each child was given a fabric bag filled with goodies to take home.  Inside, there were two little bags of flour (so cute!) a flexible plastic scraper (I never knew how convenient they were!), yeast, and an instruction booklet written on a level for children to learn and understand (amusing!)

UNFORTUNATELY for Caleb, he was bit on Wednesday night on the hand.  By Thursday it had become infected and was pink and somewhat swollen.  He told me it was a scratch and as I am a “oh you’ll be fine” sort of mom, we set to work baking the bread together.

After he washed his hands with powerful soap over and over under my watchful eye.

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“Mom, the dough is like pancake batter.”

We kept adding the flour.

One cup at a time.  No mixer, just a bowl and a spoon.

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He learned at school how to use the edge of the scraper to level off the cup.

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The bag of flour was too small to fit a measuring cup inside of it so we dumped each bag into a mixing bowl.

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“Mom the dough is like cake batter now.”

He was very observant.  And you can tell he is experienced in all kinds of batter, too.  Comes from years in the kitchen with Mom.  🙂

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“Mom you stir it now, my hand hurts.”

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Here is the entire free download of recipes if you would like to try Caleb’s bread:

CALEB’s BREAD (King Arthur Flour booklet of recipes for kids)

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Naturally, because of *infection-hand* I did the kneading as well.  (Caleb didn’t touch the dough)

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The finished dough ball.

Truth be told, as I spent time with my son, I realized that his hand was worse than my original diagnosis.  So, I called the doctors and took him in to get it checked while the dough was rising in the fridge.

I was sort of apologetic at first that I didn’t wait to see if it would clear up on its own but the doctor said, “No. I am so glad you didn’t wait on this.  Always trust your gut.  I know you and you have a good gut.”  

Thanks to the mother’s gut, it was antibiotics and an excuse note to miss Football practice for Mr. C.

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For those of you who do not know yet (young moms) if you see a red streak (like what is on Caleb’s wrist) coming from the wound, you should take your child to the doctors sooner rather than later.

It was at the doctors that I learned that his “scratch” was truly a “bite”.  He didn’t want to tell me that he was bitten.

Guess who bit him?

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Therefore, hours later, after the doctors, after football practice (during which Caleb sat out), we finally baked the bread.

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Second rise, right before popping it into the oven (after removing plastic wrap, of course).

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Half the dough was used to make a loaf, the other half to make cinnamon rolls.

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This loaf was taken to school today to be donated to someone in need.

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While the rolls cooled, we naturally watched a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED show full of bready goodness for all ages: Wallis and Gromit’s of A Matter of Loaf and Death.  (it’s on amazon prime I believe)

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The cinnamon rolls were soooooooooo good!  Oh it was a gift, to “snuggie” (that’s what I say, I say, “Seth come snuggie with me.”) on the couch with Caleb and Seth to watch a nice show and then eat cinnamon rolls together right before bed.

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tired mama, but happy mama, & precious boy o’mine

By the way, I rubbed pressed garlic on his infection twice last night and by this morning it was looking much better.  Of course it could have been from the one dose of antibiotics that he had after his appointment, too.  He’ll be on it for 10 days.

Aren’t you glad it’s Friday?  I sure am!

homemade rolls made with love

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Rich’s Aunt Phyllis visited this weekend with her cousin Marie.  Rich’s Dad came, too.  They wanted to watch Grace in a play at her school.  It was such fun to attend together but my favorite part of all was when we were home again and the ladies were snuggling up on the couch reading an old old copy of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  Aunt Phyllis gave the book to Grace and it is special because her mom (Grace’s Great Great Grandma) used to read it to her children at bedtime.  And from this very copy Aunt Phyllis and Marie each read a chapter aloud to the girls.  On Sarah Joy’s lap is a quilt that was given to her Great Grandma which she kept on her lap during her last years.  It was made by another relative.  Aren’t relatives the best, the most inspiring of all?  I love all the women in my family, both in my own family and the family I married in to.  I feel very blessed by all the stories, sewing, quilting, crafting, working, mothering, beauty, books, baking, and so on……that I learned from my sisters, cousins, aunts, Mom, and grandmas.  All so uniquely special and dear.

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I look into their faces and see my self, and own children, in them.

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Rich is hosting an off site meeting today for work and as always, I am making homemade rolls for our sandwiches.  (they are rising as I type)  I don’t divide my Grandma’s recipe anymore because I can use all the dough I can get!  Last night I mixed up the dough and put half in the refrigerator for today’s rolls, and formed the rest into a big pan of cinnamon rolls.  After all, it was a holiday, it was Halloween!  I baked in the kitchen while Davy made clam chowder and Rich took the three youngest children out trick or treating.  We had Harry Potter going on TV and there were a roomful of teen-sized kids in the basement having their own party.

I posted the photo of the completed rolls on FB and Instagram and several of my dear friends requested the recipe.

My Grandma (her name was Mary) used to bake these rolls by the hundreds…she was well known for them in our church and in her home for the holidays.  She in turn passed the bread baking art down to her daughters–my mom Cindy makes amazing bread on a weekly basis and I’ve shared several of her recipes here on my blog already.  She is a most amazing baker and I’m thankful she is just a phone call or text away to answer my questions and eventually answer questions for my girls, as well.  The Mama/Grandma hotline!  So blessed.

Isn’t family wonderful?  I know yours is, too!

ROLLS

3-4 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. salt
1/2 cup butter
3 cups water-divided
2 T yeast or 2 packages
2 eggs
close to 5 lb bag of flour

Mix 1 cup of warm water with the yeast and set aside.  Heat milk, sugar, salt, and butter until dissolved–let cool.  Add 2 cups cold water to mixture.  Add the 2 cold eggs to the milk mixture.  Combine the yeast mixture with the milk mixture.  Add enough flour till the right consistency.  (Approximately 5 lbs).
Knead dough till smooth on a flour surface.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.  Let rise for about 2 hours (until doubled in size).  Punch down dough-knead-then shape rolls or roll out for sweet rolls.
Place rolls in a greased pan and cover and let rise till doubled– about half an hour.
Bake at 350 for 24-25 minutes, till golden brown and rolls sound hollow when tapped.
Makes about 3-4 dozen dinner rolls and a 9 by 13 plan of sweet rolls.

(note:  children LOVE to watch the process!!  Sarah Joy eats a bit of the dough raw–she loves it!)

SWEET ROLL ADDITIONS

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:  2 cups sugar   3 T cinnamon   1 stick melted butter

Roll dough to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  Pour on melted butter and spread to edges.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.  Roll up and slice about inch thick with a sharp knife.  Place in well greased pan or into pan with caramel nut topping mixture spread in the bottom.  Let rise for 1/2 to 1 hour and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes

(note: raw cinnamon roll dough is even better!  you can rub it around in the butter left behind on the counter!  My dad loves to do this.)

CARAMEL Nut TOPPING  1/2 cup melted butter    1/2 cup brown sugar    1/2 cup chopped nuts

Thank you to my Aunt Colleen for sharing this recipe and making sure it is in the recipe files of all our families!  You are wonderful.  

NOTE-I use my kitchen aid mixture to knead the dough and then finish it off on the counter because I do like to get my hands on it during part of the process.  It’s so soft and warm….good to work with.

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THIS IS MY HUSBAND’S GRANDMOTHER!  Her name was Sarah Lillian but everyone called her Lillian.  Aunt Phyllis shared this 1980’s newspaper clipping with us.  It is from when Grandma was working in a school cafeteria (the very same school Rich and I and all our relatives attended)  These were the days when children actually ate some HOMEMADE foods, like these big homemade peanut butter cookies (800 of them baked at once).   I love the details in this picture and I know these ladies loved working together.  They made biscuits, apple crisp, and so many other delicious foods for the children.

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My kitchen, where I think of all the women in my family as I work.

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Dedicated to mamas, grandmas, and aunts everywhere.

You make a difference wherever you are, even long after you’re gone.

You are loved.

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!