Tuesday, March 29, 2011

incubation and anticipation

there are unborn babies at my house. eighteen to be exact. eggs. being held at a temperature of 100 degrees for three weeks. everyone is very excited. even andy, who was not completely sold on the idea, is anticipating the hatchings. their unexpected arrival last thursday afternoon sent me into a whirlwind of last minute preparations. one friend brought over her incubator just before another arrived with the fertilized eggs. the first eight hours were spent fussing with the thermostat...not self-regulating. i was a bit paranoid after consistently swinigng from 100 to110 that i was going to kill all of the chicks before the weekend was over and have to crawl back to my friend and ask for more eggs. by lunchtime, i had gotten up the confidence to put the eggs into the incubator. we left to go rollerskating with friends, me a little anxious about what i would find when we returned. the temperature was holding at 100 at 5:30pm. i left for the basketball game with andy, praying the eggs would still be fine when we got home. they have stayed at 100 since i put them in the incubator! hurray! (and phew!) every 8 to 12 hours they are turned, all X's up or all O's up. andy had the kids design coops the other day...which means they drew pictures and had lots of ideas, but he will still build it the way he wants to. :) we're plotting backyard locations for early summer. with almost one week under our belt, we are nearly a third of the way until we hear the peep-peep of our new chickens! there are so many things to do and learn before they push their way out of their shells.

a little bit of mary

this month, mary lost her second tooth, had her sixth birthday, danced in a ballet show, went on a special shopping trip with grandma, and then, last night she cut a ponytail holder out of her hair necessitating a major haircut. this is my child who did NOT want to cut her hair this summer when kirby was ready to donate her hair. the same child who refused to cut her hair when i donated mine in fall. the same child who did not want even a trim from aunt jamie at christmas. mary wanted to grow her hair to the floor and dye it red so she could look like ariel. her reaction last night after i discovered the pile of hair she had lost to remove the rubberband was terrible sadness. she did not want me to cut her hair. her fate did, however, sink in over night and she was ready this morning...perhaps you could even say she was excited. at the very least, there was no complaining and were no tears when i got out the chair and weilded the shears.

six eggs for her sixth birthday breakfast

she's growing up. there is less screaming (finally). there is more dancing and singing. there are a LOT more pictures. andy said last night, "of all the kids, i have no idea what mary will be when she grows up." i guess we will wait and see...   :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

what the kitchen used to be

 what the kitchen looked like the day before we moved in...

200-lb microwave + non-functioning dishwasher = 1 waste of space island

vintage stove that i loved until only one burner was left working

original sink

some other shots of the kitchen over the years, to show off the nasty carpet, peeling paint, and other wonderful features...

last major meal made in the old kitchen...thanksgiving 2010

stay tuned for final pictures. three of the four concrete countertops are in place, the subway tile on three walls is done, and within the next two weeks everything should be done. there have been some pictures on facebook in the past months, so i'll wait and post all the rest when it's officially finished! :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

just call me mrs. fancy pants

after altering a dress, making (and eating) mac and cheese, and going rollerskating, i raced home to change clothes and head out to a trailblazers game with andy. he had been invited by his plant manager to watch the game in the company's executive suite. sweet. my lovely friend charity had graciously taken our kids. the whole night was quite an experience. i don't think i've been to a basketball game since my sister camye played in the state tournament her senior year of high school, so we'll just say it's been a while. i felt very fancy when the elevator operator asked which floor we were going to and we got to say "suite level, please." thankfully there was food in the suite because we had run out of time to eat and had gone straight to the stadium. the whole atmosphere was exciting...and what a night to be at the rose garden! the game was back and forth all night. at the end i was sure they were going into overtime when, with .9 (yes, that is POINT nine) seconds left the trailblazers scored two points to win the game. all viewed from the comfort of the PCC box. not bad for my first NBA game. spoiled. rotten. needless to say, if they invite us back we will be there with bells on.  :)

baked mac and cheese

whilst without stove, my neighbor colleen brought us dinner. her baked mac and cheese was very good, and after receiving the recipe this week i made it the same day it arrived in my email. per the new york times recipe the noodles went in uncooked, removing one step from my normal mac and cheese. the resulting dish was so yummy that i think i will be making it as often as my arm has strength to grate two pounds of cheese. :) of course, i changed a few things AND made the recipe bigger (who wants to make an 8x8 pan of mac and cheese???).

baked macaroni and cheese

2 C cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 C milk (not skim)
1 onion, chopped
2 t dry mustard (i used deli-style brown mustard)
pinch cayenne (i did not have this)
pinch nutmeg (i did have this)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 lbs sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (i used 1 lb mild cheddar, and 1 lb vintage white cheddar...hand shredded)
1 lb elbow pasta, uncooked
4 T butter
preheat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in center of oven. butter a 9x13 baking pan.

in food processor or blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, onion, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together. reserve 1/2 - 1 cup grated cheese for topping...this will not go on top until after the first baking. in a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.

uncover pan, stir gently, dot with remaining tablespoon butter (i forgot this step and it still turned out wonderfully) and sprinkle with reserved cheese. bake uncovered 30 minutes more, until browned. let cool at least 10 minutes before serving...if you can wait that long.

it was so good. enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

orange muffins and other assorted breakfast recipes

heirloom oranges have been on sale at one of the local grocery stores, so when i bought more yesterday afternoon my mind turned to the delicious orange muffins a friend had made me this summer. i had been intrigued when sarah put the quartered orange pieces -- peel and all -- into her food processor. as we drove from colorado to oregon, i savored the leftovers that had been sent with me. the craving struck me hard this morning while sitting at jeremiah's strings class, so i shot sarah an email requesting the recipe. she replied quickly, and the muffins turned out so wonderfully that i thought i would share the recipe with all of you. if you know me at all, you know that i cannot leave a recipe the way i found it, so here is my version...reduced sugar and swapped out coconut oil for butter, since i nearly exclusively use coconut oil raw. after doubling the recipe, it looks like this:

orange muffins

4 oranges, peels on, quartered and then cut in half
2 eggs
1/2 C butter (one stick), melted

put oranges and eggs into food processor (or good blender) and let it work for 3-5 minutes. with food pro running, pour in the butter. in a mixing bowl, whisk together:

3 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt

pour wet ingredients and 1/3 C agave syrup into dry ingredients. mix with spatula and spoon into muffin tins. bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes (mine took 17 minutes). let cool slightly before serving. makes 24 muffins.

EDIT 05.06.11:
the recipe originally called for two whole oranges and the juice of the other two. i am now using all four oranges in the food processor...no juicing, just quartering. I add 1 t vanilla and (if i don't care about the extra sugar) they are really, I mean REALLY good with 1 C of mini semisweet chocolate chips.

the day after my oven returned to the kitchen, i had an itch to bake something...hey! it had been since mid-december that anything had come from my oven! as i surveyed what i had on hand, banana cake was the answer. not my mom's and aunt's floury, fluffy banana cake, wonderfully light and sweet. it is absolutely amazing that my children will still eat mine after having multiple bakings of grandma's banana cake at christmas.  :)   mine has become gluten-free and low sugar...probably naughty words in iowa (just kidding, mom). i was going to post this recipe over a week ago, but from one wifi malfunction to another, have not gotten around to doing this until today. there is a low-flour version on my old xanga site: http://erinmeschke.xanga.com/tags/recipes/. that recipe was the step between my mom's cake and the one i currently make. you could make this cake for breakfast and feel absolutely no guilt for serving it. :)

gluten-free banana cake  (makes a 10x14 pan)

2 sticks butter
1/4 C - 1/2 C sugar

cream butter and sugar...3-5 minutes. you could probably use agave syrup, but you should probably soften the butter if you substitute. then add:

6 eggs
1 T vanilla
4 - 6 bananas
1/2 C plain yogurt

mix well. then add:

3 C oatbran
2 C quick oats
2 C whole oats
1 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt

mix well. bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. you can sprinkle with powdered sugar when it's cooled, if you REALLY want to. :)

for this recipe, i use gallon ziplock bags to measure out all the dry ingredients (not sugar) for multiple batches. then when i'm ready to make the cake all i have to do is get the beginning of the recipe together and i can make it very quickly.

while i'm on the subject of breakfast, i may as well share one other recipe i created about two years ago...actually, the date on the paper says 04.26.08. it started out as a recipe on the back of a bob's red mill package, but morphed into this...

oat bran muffins

1 C whole wheat flour
1 C quick oats
1 C oat bran
1/2 C powdered milk
1/4 - 1/2 C brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon

whisk together dry ingredients. then add:

1 C applesauce
1/2 C milk
2 eggs
5 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla

mix, then stir in:

2 apples, diced

spoon into muffin pans. bake at 350 for 13-17 minutes.

our other breakfast favorites are over on xanga...
baked oatmeal: http://erinmeschke.xanga.com/690289558/improved-baked-oatmeal/
oatmeal pancakes: http://erinmeschke.xanga.com/694632158/oatmeal-pancakes/

breakfast really is the most important meal of the day...AND our favorite! here's to good mornings!