Cookies with Grandma


While I was out visiting family in Eastern Oregon, I was able to convince my grandmother to make a batch of cookies with the kids and I.  I have been making cookies at the side of my grandmother for as long as I can remember, and I enjoyed doing it as an adult while the kids helped.  She is still using the same mixing bowl, which makes me smile.

Daphne got to help measure out the ingredients.

Once the cookies made it into the oven, there was no haulting the excitement of the cousins waiting for the treats to be done.

And yes, I even got excited about the baking cookies, and I sat in front of the oven with Cyprus watching them cook to perfection.

Week 2 Orange Chicken

Week 2 takes us to the Orient for some tasty Orange chicken.
Orange Chicken:
2 oranges
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup water
1 pound chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
Hot cooked rice (to serve the chicken over)
1. Zest both oranges and set zest aside.
2. Juice oranges to measure 1/2 cup juice. Combine juice, sugar, soy sauce and cornstarch in small bowl; set aside.
3. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Whisk in water to form smooth batter. Add chicken; mix well.
4. Heat about 3 cups vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil registers 375°F on deep-fry thermometer. Shake off excess batter from 1/3 of chicken; carefully add chicken.
5. Cook about 4 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and no longer pink in center, stirring occasionally to break up pieces with spoon. Remove chicken with slotted spoon to tray lined with paper towels; drain. Repeat 2 more times with remaining chicken, reheating oil between batches.
6. Heat wok over medium-high heat until hot; add chili oil. Add orange peel, garlic and ginger; stir-fry about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant.
7. Stir cornstarch mixture; add to wok. Cook and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Return chicken to wok; mix well. Transfer to serving platter; garnish, if desired. Serve over rice.
Recipe adapted from:
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Week 1 Lasagna


I am going to post a photo as well as the recipe each week for the 52 weeks of new food.

Week 1 started with lasagna. I had never made a successful lasagna before, so I decided that I was going to give it my all and really learn how to make a good lasagna.  Luckily I nailed this one on the head.

I have adapted this recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Recipe. I have made some changes that I really liked in my own lasagna.

Meat Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 head garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pint roasted tomato sauce

Cheese Filling:
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 cup cottage cheese
2 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated

2 cups semolina flour
2 cups white flour
6 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil

1. For the meat sauce. Heat the oil in a large Duct oven over medium heat until hot and shimmering. Ad the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ground beef, ground pork, salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the meat until small pieces with a wooden spoon until the meat loses it raw color, but is not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and only rendered fat remains, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook until all liquid has evaporated and the sauce is VERY thick, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

2. Combine the ricotta, cottage cheese, egg , Parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper. Mix until combined

3. Mix the semolina, the white flour and the eggs together in a food processor or in a stand mixer. It will create a very dry dough. Add the olive oil in and mix until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and work until the dough comes together and becomes smooth. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes has passed, cut the dough into sections and roll it out using a pasta roller until it has reached the 6 or 7 thickness. These are the noodles for the lasagna.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

5. Spread the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with 1/4 cup of meat sauce. Place 1 layer of noodles on top of the meat sauce. Put 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese followed by 1/3 of the meat sauce. Repeat layering until you are out of noodles, sauce and cheese filling. Sprinkle mozzarella on the top. Spray a sheet of aluminium foil with oil and cover the lasagna.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil. Continue to bake until the cheese is spotty brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Plum Pudding


My friend Melissa made a plum pudding for our Christmas dinner. What part of lighting dessert on fire doesn’t sound like fun? The light is low, so the video quality isn’t the best, but it is worth watching. The fire stays lit for quite a while.

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Cooking Help


Daphne is a wonderful help in the kitchen.  I have learned over time that if I take the time now to show her how to really help me out doing a task, she can actually help me get things done in the future.

She loves to do the dishes, and she helps me a lot with cutting vegetables into smaller pieces using a special plastic knife I got her that keeps her from cutting herself.

I was admiring how helpful she is in the kitchen today.

I started making my own pita bread from scratch, and Daphne got really interested in helping to roll out the dough.  She is practically a pro now.

Never underestimate the help you can get in the kitchen.  It makes it so much more fun than trying to cook while the kids are doing god knows what.

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Happy Thanksiving


Hello!  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  I hope that your day has been lovely and full of joy.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite times of the year because I liked getting to help cook and eat recipes that have been in our family for generations.  After Daphne was born, Thanksgiving took on a lot more meaning for us.  We are trying to start our own family traditions for this time of the year.  During November and December it is so dark and lonely outside we can’t help but invent things to do as a family that keeps us all happy until the spring brings us more sun.

We have made the trip over to Eastern Oregon every year to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  It is always chaotic, loud and crazy.  The good news is that a person can’t get lonely or go hungry.  My grandma has hosted Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember and anyone and everyone is invited to come.  This year, 30 people came and ate and enjoyed the holiday with us.  We cooked for days to get enough food together.  When the time came, everyone enjoyed themselves and everyone got plenty to eat.

Jared and I have talked a LOT lately about what we have to be thankful for.  Even when times are rough or things are frustrating, it isn’t hard to forget all the ways that I am lucky and all the things I have to be thankful for.  I thought I’d put together a stream-of-consciousness list of things that I appreciate and am thankful for.  These are things that have touched my life the most this year:

  • Grandparents who love my kids
  • A house in the heart of wine country
  • Fresh veggies grown just for me
  • The companionship of my 4 bunnies
  • My photography talent
  • My reliable and trusty car that takes me anywhere
  • My new college diploma
  • My midwife
  • The VBAC birth of my son
  • Two nephews to spoil
  • New friendships
  • Birth of 4 babies in 1 year
  • A quiet night at my knitting group
  • My spinning mentor
  • Fun things to do with my kids
  • The best husband anyone could ever ask for
  • A sweet little girl who loves me
  • A baby to sleep with at night
  • The ability to speak and act as I please in a free country.
  • Iron Chef nights with friends
  • Births, Weddings and families to photograph
  • Pure creativity
  • Sewing and crafting everything possible
  • A family to call my own

Kitchen Help


Daphne has been helping a lot more in the kitchen lately.  I got a plastic knife that is used for chopping lettuce and gave it to her as her knife.  She has become really interested since then in helping me do food prep.  Just tonight she spent an hour chopping turnips, carrots and lettuce for dinner.  It thrilled her to no end.

Of course, she REALLY likes to help when I bake because that means that she gets to do some spoon licking, and that is the best activity of all!

Of course, clean up is not always so easy.

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Long Time No Blog


I was blogging regularly, and it kind of went out the window over the past week because things have been getting incredibly crazy around here.

Most importantly, my friend Melissa and her son Jack came to visit.  They made the decision to move away to New Hampshire about 2 years ago.  Luckily, they have found the error of their ways, and the whole family is returning back to Oregon where they belong.  She came on Thursday night and left on Monday.  She was here to look at apartments, get some moving information and show off her beautiful baby boy.  He really is adorable, and upon downloading images from the card recently, I discovered that we had taken no photos.  What a total bummer.  Daphne was interested in playing with Jack as long as he did not touch anything that belonged to her.  She can be a bit of a rat sometimes, but I think she is genuinely good at heart.

The weather was totally crazy last week being incredibly hot and humid.  It really wasn’t any fun at all.  It was supposed to storm 3 days in a row, but on Thursday we finally got hit with a big one.  Big storms are not common in this part of Oregon, and in fact thunder is a big surprise often.  I spent the afternoon with Melissa cooking and baking.  The electricity started to flicker a bit while I was trying to make dinner, which I found annoying.  Eventually, the wind just picked up from nowhere, and I watched as a neighbor’s tree snapped like a twig.  I was quick to respond by running outside to put the chickens into their house so that they didn’t freak out and try to fly away.  When I walked out the back door our trampoline had blown across the yard and bent.  It took out some garden beds with it and caused some other serious problems.  Jared and I scrambled to put the chickens in and then to take the trampoline apart so that it didn’t head through a window or blow over a fence.

The damage from the storm was felt by all.  Our farmer friends lost a greenhouse and had some major crop damage.  A lady from our spinning group had a barn blow away over two fences.  I am extremely upset to be losing the trampoline because it was one of Daphne and my favorite things to play with.  After some thought, we will work to pay off our debt this year, and we can get a new trampoline next year when the baby is big enough to enjoy it as well.  You live and you learn.  You should always anchor your trampoline in case there is a freak storm.  I am upset about losing some of the garden as well, but I feel that with some work done this weekend that we are pretty much back to where we were last week–minus a trampoline and a few melon plants.

The storm did do one good thing.  I got a REALLY great rise on my bread, and the whole wheat bread I made ended up looking more like Wonderbread with the nice mushroom looking top.

We went to go see the Lipizzaner stallions for my birthday on Thursday night after the storm.  All the roads out of Carlton were closed because of down power lines and down trees.  We ended up taking a side dirt road to Mcminnville.  Daphne and I had a total blast watching the horses.  We had gone to see them two years ago for my birthday, but it was a treat to see them again.  My mother-in-law even got away and got a chance to see the beautiful animals.

My sister called me on Friday morning to say that she was going to head up and surprise me for my birthday (I turned 25 on Saturday).  That was exciting.  We don’t get to see each other much, and I always appreciate hanging out with my nephews.

While I waited for them to come, I decided to go get Poe out and shear him.  He is on a different schedule than the other bunnies that I have, so he has been hot and hairy recently.  Here he has some hair.

Now I have taken all the prime fiber off, but I have collected some fiber for myself.

He has much less fuzz after the whole process.  He is going to be a happy bunny during our next heat spell.

It was nice to have my sister around.  Eli and Daphne seemed to have closed the age gap, and they are finding it is a lot easier to play well together.  There was very little screaming or hitting, and that was quite pleasant.

I see my future in this photo.  That future is not too far off either.

I haven’t seen Noah in almost 6 months.  He is totally adorable.  He just turned 1 year old in May, and he is a total cutie pie.

Saturday was my birthday, and I decided I was going to make my own ice cream cake.  I wanted a chocolate cake with pralines and cream ice cream in the middle.  I made the cake on Friday night.  The ice cream was made on Saturday, and I must say that I had a lot of help–in the eating process.  Daphne now knows what comes out of the ice cream core when it has been running for a while.

And when a spoon is too cumbersome, use your fingers.

Apparently I thought it was necessary to share a photo of my first Caprii Salad of the year.  It is one of my favorite foods.  The basil, tomato, mozarella and olive oil just seems to hit the spot every time.

We did spend some time out at Delphi’s Parent’s Weekend this year.  Though I am no longer a parent, it is nice to go out and hang out during this time of year because so many of the graduates that I know come back for one reason or another.  It was nice to chat with some friends I had not seen in a while.  That really kept us on our toes.

After all the company left on Monday, I was totally exhausted.  It took me a full day to sleep and rest and clean before I was able to feel partially normal.  The good news is that the list of projects I have to handle is coming quickly to a close, and the house is staying mostly clean.  I like feeling a little on top of things.

My friend Rebecca came over today for lunch.  I made a giant salad with all kinds of things in it from the fridge.  It was totally delicious.  We even managed to pick a few strawberries from the plants growing in the front yard.   They made a nice, simple dessert.

We went for a walk after lunch to enjoy the beautiful day.  Daphne went right to sleep when we got home, and I was able to spend the afternoon getting some important sewing done, which always makes me happy.

Rebecca was even kind enough to let Daphne hold her 7 week old son, Oliver for a few minutes.  Again, I see my future, but the truth is that Daphne is very sweet and kind with babies.

I am now exhausted and unable to sit at the computer for long because I have feet that swell up bigger than you can imagine.  I’ve got some other exciting posts and updates in the near future, so stay tuned and please forgive my disappearance over this very busy past week.

Today, I didn’t feel well


Ok, so this really applies to the last two days.  This weekend Jared was hit with some kind of bug that wiped him out completely on Sunday.  It made the rounds, and I finally got it on Tuesday.  Yesterday morning, I was sitting down, and I literally had NO energy to do anything.  I sat with Daphne and sang songs to her for a while, which always makes her happy.  She wasn’t interested in being too active either.  The weather is getting pretty hot here, so besides getting a bit of cleaning done and just spending time with Daphne, the morning was a total wash.

I saw a popcorn commercial a few days ago when I was hungry late at night.  Of course I went to the kitchen and made some for myself.  I love popcorn with lots of butter.  I always think that I am going to make too little, but the pot always overflows with popcorn.  It’s OK.  Daphne enjoyed the leftovers the next day.

Whenever I pull the camera out, Daphne loves to give me smiles.

Check out the dirty face!

My friend Rebecca came over during the afternoon and we went to the Nature Preserve sponsored by the Rotary Club in Mcminnville.  It is a lovely little spot to go for a walk, and it wasn’t so big that we got lost.  Rebecca has a baby that is about a month old, so the walk was nice for everyone.  Daphne loved seeing the river and the wild flowers growing everywhere.  I think it will be a place that I go back to more and more as it gets hot.

I still didn’t feel really well this morning, but I decided to put on a good face and try to do some of the usual activities that we do on Wednesdays.  I managed to make it to the grocery store, and Daphne was so helpful.  She helped me push the cart around, and she didn’t fight me at all, it was such a relief.

Even though story time is not happening for another month, we went to the library to return some books and get some more books.  Daphne was thrilled.  Of course, nothing is better than watching the hampsters run around.  They have been asleep every other time we have stopped to look at them, so she was thrilled to see them running around.

After the library, we ate a snack while playing in the park and went swimming.  Daphne was wiped out when we got home, so she ate her burrito and took a nice long nap for me.

I’ve been wanting to make something special for the past little bit.  Though I’m not craving sugary things really, I do enjoy a nice treat here and there.  I had some marscapone cheese in the fridge, so I decided to make a tiramisu.  I used a recipe from Food Network, but I altered it to have almost no sugar.  Instead of ladyfingers, I made some cookies that were whole wheat with no sugar (recipe coming soon).  I dipped the cookies in coffee instead of using ladyfingers.  It looked really good, but I haven’t had it yet because it is still setting.

I managed to sit down and completely my lovely one-size fitted diapers.  Julie and I have been working on them for some time.  I will post some photos tomorrow.  I think that I will not be able to stop, and the second I finished them I considered making some more.

Since it was so hot out, I took Daphne outside with me to do some chores.  She enjoys running around out there.  She helped me water all the rabbits and she made a nice attempt at watering the garden.  I have a lot of chores to do now that I have chickens and baby rabbits going.  Thankfully, I’ve got an appointment to butcher my chickens on Friday, and I must say that I am not one big sad about it.  They look like mindless drones to me.  I got a quick photo of them sitting in the shade this afternoon behind the fence.  Maybe you will see the same ugliness I see in them.

I decided to clean out the nesting boxes the baby rabbits were in.  I took them all out and let them play outside for a while while I did it.  You can see the size difference for sure now.  The meat rabbits are getting hair on them now though, and they will have their eyes open by the end of the weekend, so I think that they will look like rabbits soon.

Can you find 20 babies here?

The angora bunnies are getting more and more cute every day.  They look like real miniature rabbits, and it is hard to believe that 10 mintues of nursing a day has gotten them as big as they are.  Their ears stand up, and their eyes are open.  They even are getting the hopping motion down.  Though they sleep all day with no attemps to get out of the nesting box, the second I put them down outside they started to hop all over the yard, especially my little odd colored man.  I need to figure out what color this is.  It sure does have a lot of personality, and I would be sad if it exhibited the broken agouti gene.  I’m having a hard time deciding who to cull, and the faster I find out the faster I can attach or detach myself from this bunny.

The little white bunnies sure are cute though!

Of course, Daphne is helping me socialize the bunnies.  They get held and played with ALL THE TIME!

I decided that I wanted to make a really nice dinner so that I don’t hate eating food so much.  I had thawed some Sirloin steaks, so I got busy.  I made a Ceaser salad, rosemary potoato fries and steak with mushroom, leek and scallion.  It sure was tasty.  The meat is from our family ranch, and it was cooked perfectly, so nice and tendar.  Daphne had no problem getting bites of it down, which is not the case with all meats.  I sure am excited to get some Tiramisu soon to wash it all down.

I managed to sit down and spin a few rolags of Angora fiber last night while Jared sat and talked to me.  It was nice.  I plan to do the same thing again in a few moments providing that there is nothing else that needs my attention on the computer.

We Went to a Fair, Monday, May 25, 2009


Mondays are usually pretty boring around here.  It is always sad to send Jared back to work and be “on my own” even though he is on the other side of the door if I really need him.

I spent about 2 hours this morning cleaning the house.  I got the laundry sorted out and cleaned the bathrooms.  I even managed to get on my hands and knees to scrub the floor in the bathroom and the laundry room.  There are still so many little things sitting around the house that need to be put away.  As I slowly work on it, I realize that I am getting closer and closer to having the baby, and all this work is not for naught.

I finally moved into the kitchen to get some good food going to keep me energized.  I decided to make some jerky.  I have some rump roasts in the freezer from our family’s ranch.  I thawed one out this weekend so that I could get some jerky made.  After cutting it with the grain into thin slices, I got it soaking in vinegar.  According to my preserving class, soaking the meat in vinegar for 10 minutes before marinating it will help to kill any microorganisms that might survive the drying process.  I then got it in the marinade.  I will be breaking out the dehydrator again tomorrow so that I can have jerky for snacking on.  I sure hope the jerky turns out to be tasty.  It just looks like raw meat now.

After several days of dehydrating onions, I finally got them all done.  That sure was a lot of onions to dry out.  You dry them to paper like consistency.

After spending a minute or two in the food processor, I had made onion powder!

I happened to hear on the radio that that Multinomah County Fair happens on Memorial Day Weekend.  I decided that I was going to check it out on Monday if it was still going on.  I discovered that today was the last day.  It is only a 3-day fair.  Even though Multinomah County is the most populated county in the state, it is also the least agricultural.  County Fairs seem very agricultural to me, so I was unsure of what to expect.  The good news is that it was a free event, so even if it totally didn’t work out, I was only out the gas it took to get there and get back.  I invited Julie to come with me. and she accepted.

I DID have quite a bit of fun, but it was definitely my least favorite of all the fairs I have been to.  There were no livestock, ZERO.  The “rabbit show” that we saw was simply a display of many different breeds of rabbits that were sponsored by a local company.  People voted on their favorite breed.  Though I liked seeing the different breeds, one of my favorite things about county fairs is seeing youth involved in worthwhile learning actitives.  This seemed to be more centered on the rides, which I had no interested in participating in.

We did find ways to have fun.  We managed to watch the duck races, which Daphne thought were mildly interesting.

They also had a great little tent with activities like what we saw at the Agricultural Festival.  Daphne especially LOVED the corn sand box.  I have an idea to make her a sandbox so that she can play in it.  She really has been interested in the sandbox idea lately.

Daphne even got to milk a cow (no, not a real cow).

She also got a chance to do her own duck racing.

We had an awful lot of fun, but it’s not the kind of fun that I would expect from a fair.  I am looking forward to taking Daphne to the Yamhill County Fair and the Harney County Fair later this summer.

When I got home, I had chores waiting for me.  I fed the baby bunnies and fed my family (we had duck)!

The baby bunnies are doing well.  Thing 1’s babies seem to be hanging on.  As long as I keep the wound open and let it heal from the inside out, the wounded bunny seems to be doing well.  In fact, it has the most full belly of all the kits today (the little porker).  The skinny bunny is definitely still the smallest and the thinnest, but I let it nurse extra, and it never really has been lacking in food or starving.  I think that it will make it just fine as long as I keep an eye on it, it might just grow more slowly until the bunnies can eat pellets in 2 weeks.  They look cute in their nesting box.  That’s a lot of bunnies.

The Angora bunnies are a little more active these days in their nesting box.  Though, they do still spend a good amount of time asleep.  They will go out with their mama when they get more adept at hopping both out and back in to their box.  I have no need to have baby bunnies scrambling about the house when they are safe with their mama.  I estimate that I’ll move them out on Saturday.

They sure are cute with their eyes fully open and their ears up.  They are learning to hop like their mama, and it is cute to see them take their first hops.  They have been shaky on their feet until now.

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