Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kitchen Hacks II

Keep the counters clean. Remember that? And how in the world do you practically do that??? Just do it! Do you rinse and stack your dishes? Well, why not just get the hot water running into the sink (if you have hot tap water), squirt in some dish detergent and make that rinsing a washing instead? Presto! The dishes are washed and can air dry in the dish rack instead of collecting on the counter top or in the sink.

I have such a good mentor in these things. Donna Goff at Mentoring Our Own is constantly reminding me how important a clean kitchen is. It is our choice to keep it clean. If we are too busy to keep up with our dishes (or laundry) we are too busy! Her kitchen rule is "Leave no trace". I'll let you interpret that.

Use a food chopper when you fry burger. It is handy to use that instead of a spatula or pancake turner, whatever you call it. Just chop and mix as the burger fries.

This tool is actually very versatile- chop onions and nuts, cut out biscuits and donuts, chop strawberries. Just use your imagination.
The crock pot is a wonderfully useful kitchen gadget. Fill it in the morning with some meat, veggies and spices and by evening your main dish is ready. Add a green salad to make a complete meal. For even more fun, put a bunch of meals in the freezer and you'll have peace of mind for a week or two.

Soak your beans before cooking them. Best done in a glass jar with some vinegar or lemon juice added. Let them set a couple days- 2 or 3- and then drain, rinse and cook them. If you've suffered from internal gas when eating beans, this should eliminate the problem. 
An hour after you put them in the jar, pick up the jar, turn it upside down and then return it to it's place. If you don't, the swelling beans will pack themselves tightly in the bottom of the jar. 

Shake garlic and eggs to peel them. Oh, but that sounds really strange. 

My daddy taught me about peeling hard-boiled eggs. After they're cooled and the water is drained off, put the lid on the kettle and shake away. Up and down. Back and forth. Not so vigorously that the eggs break but hard enough to get the shells cracked all over. The eggs will slip right out of their shells if they aren't lying in the kettle peeled already once you remove the lid. (Another tip for HB eggs is to leave them unpeeled if you want to store them for any amount of time.)

Garlic works similarly. Take a bulb in your hand, stem end against palm, root end out, and slam it on the counter top, giving good pressure with the heel of your hand. This makes the cloves fall off. Put the cloves in a big bowl and cover it with the same size bowl or one that fits tightly over it. Hold the bowls together and shake for all you're worth for twenty to sixty seconds. Check after twenty seconds and shake longer if necessary. The cloves should be lying inside, peeled when you're done. 

Till next time, happy cooking! Make it short and sweet.

Watch for Kitchen Hacks III in the future.

Monday, October 30, 2017


More was the word for Saturday, October 28. 

More ideas. Melvin cleaned off the bar which was populated with burnt matches, wax and etc from where they played with the candles and fire. He found a taper candle and then decided to bring in some holly branches. Pretty.

You may think, "Decorating for Christmas already?" No, we don't do Christmas so the boys think only of using what is available for decor.
Then the string lights that I had been gifted some time ago suddenly found a purpose. They reflect beautifully in the counter top. In the photo you see more in the counter top than otherwise.
More food from the garden. Melvin dug two sweet potato plants and came up with all this good nutrition! Why are they so cracked?
The island counter top got one more replacement of fabric and plastic. It needs a good Formica top but all in good time.
Old, cut up, worn out (nasty) top.
New fabric
New plastic
Good helper
More tomatoes from our friends made more juice for the shelves.

There were more jars than we needed so we found homes for them. 
Matthew went to the woods with his bow one more time. I snuck in behind him and grabbed a photo from the mirror while he camouflaged himself with scorched cork. He's seen deer but never gets a shot. 
How much more is in your life?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Notebooking Pages

This is a website review. (I do not get reimbursed for anything on my blog. I only give honest reviews of whatever I like!)

The search for a good way to educate children led me to Don't ask me where I first heard of this website. Several years ago they offered a lifetime membership and I bit. I've never regretted it and have often been grateful for this wonderful site.

Have you ever wondered what you learned in school? Have you wondered what to do with all the school books your mother stored for you? What about all the workbooks your children fill out? Should everything go in the trash? All that labor? Should you store it? To what purpose?

How about allowing your children to build their own memories? Make books for your shelves that are worth re-reading? Wouldn't that be a better option?

That is what we've found. Reading through textbooks where others have done all the research and are telling you what to learn is both boring and ineffective. 

Reading from the sources of information and writing your own "book" will cement information more firmly in your mind. And it will give you a beautiful book to look back through, full of memories that you created yourself.

Write down what you learn rather than being tested to see what you don't know. How would we adults function if we were constantly told that we're less than we should be because of all we don't know? 

Oh, the world is full of so much to learn. Let us give our children the joy of learning it in their own way and time! As we ourselves do.

We did a little of that at Kid's Club this year. I wish we would have done more. If we only lecture, tell stories and etc., the retention is nearly zero percent. But if a child knows she must fill out a paper with facts (written or drawn) from the evening's lesson, she will listen more carefully.

The girls are great artists. These papers come from Notebooking Pages. 

Then the thing I really, really like is their Notebooking Web-app. I designed the papers below with the app. They recapture many of the stories we went over this year.

Borders were already there and I did everything inside the borders. You can see how a child could write and pull in clip art to create pages with beautiful memories.

There are lots of free pages available at for you and your child to print off and enjoy. 

With the Web-app (which you must purchase) you can also design and make greeting cards. Or use their ready-made designs.

Be sure to listen to Debra tell how she decided to use this method of teaching her 10 children.

Get ready for fun learning with your own child(ren).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Black Bean Soup

2 quarts cooked black beans
2 cups chopped celery 
2 cups chopped onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
8 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 lbs fully cooked Polish or other sausage, chopped

In a large soup kettle saute the onions, celery and garlic in olive oil. Add all other ingredients except sausage and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sausage and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and serve with a pan of cornbread. Or whatever you want to eat with it. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Family Night

Kid's Club tonight, Men's meeting tomorrow evening, Austin's accountability group meets the next evening, the youth group have a planned activity the next evening, Stephen wants to hang out with a friend the following evening, there is a church service the next evening, then Thomas' accountability group wants to meet. 

Kid's Club follows, Stephen's accountability group meets, Thomas and I meet with a couple for counseling, Thomas has a meeting to review church documents, there is a dinner for the ladies, Thomas needs to look at a job, and the vicious cycle repeats itself over and over. (This is a random scenario.)

Where in all this rat race does a family find time to connect? We have to fight valiantly for it. So we set aside one evening a week as "Family Night". It is on the family calendar and is an appointment not to be lightly negotiated.
We all get to sit together around the table and enjoy the meal and each other. It is one time when we can sing together. Oh, the glory did roll! We just about mastered Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded at our last session.

Because of our current living situation, it is difficult to sit around the table for any meals except the evening meal. And Sunday lunch. But if someone is gone for the evening it doesn't feel like it's worth the effort it takes to get the meal on the table (a little ways from the kitchen) for the rest of the family.

My whole being cries out against the disjointed mealtime situations, but the body part of my being is often too weary to comply with the spirit of my being. A table needs to be set up or the food carried half a mile (exaggerated) every time we eat and, especially in the morning, it is all I can do to get a meal made. 

Let all these male creatures dive in and devour it after that. Sit on the couches, sit at the bar, or just stand by the kitchen sink. But I prefer contained eating where dirty plates remain on the table instead of the couch, floor or coffee table. And even more than that, I enjoy the coming together, the waiting for one another to come or to finish eating, the conversations that happen together, the cleaning up together. It's empowering rather than draining.

Can anyone relate?

What are mealtimes like at your house?

Monday, October 23, 2017

How to Clean a Coffee Mug

When my brother brought his friend from Poland to visit, we didn't know exactly what to expect. He wanted a cup of coffee in the morning and then asked for salt. Do the Polish put salt in their coffee?
 The mug was stained from coffee.
 He put salt in the cup.

 He added a bit of warm water to make a paste.
 This paste was used to clean the mug.
He used his fingers to rub the paste on the stains until they came off.
 He returned a sparkling white mug to us.
 Try it. It works!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Veggie Tales

The delicious garden produce continues into the Fall. 
Rainbow Swiss Chard
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
Genesis 1:29

Every creeping thing enjoys it too. 😃
 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
Genesis 1:30

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taco Soup Recipe

Olive oil
1 lb hamburger
1 medium to large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (green if you want more color)
1 quart canned tomato chunks and/or 1 pint salsa
1 quart cooked/canned pinto (or any mixture) beans
1 quart frozen or canned whole kernel corn
1 quart tomato juice
1 packet taco seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

In a large kettle brown the hamburger in olive oil, adding in onions and peppers midway. Allow to simmer a bit to soften the peppers. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for a half hour. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese and nacho or tortilla chips. Very versatile. We put milk in the soup if we don't have sour cream and eat it with cornbread when there are no chips. And we don't always eat cheese with it.

What's your favorite soup?

Do you enjoy soup in the Fall?