Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mom's Tweaking Again

If I say that I'm a "tweaker", does that tell you what decade I went to highschool?

Seriously, though, a lot of times I just can't seem to leave well-enough alone. My daughter, Sarah, says I'm a bit perfectionistic. I say, "A bit? Ya think?"

I've just been hopping around so many absolutely beautiful blogs lately, mine has begun to seem...well...dated. And a little frumpy. And maybe hokey.

And then that little voice in the back of my mind says, "Be content with such things as you have..."

Sigh. So, I'm trying to not compare all these beautiful, sleek and sophisticated blogs I'm visiting to my wanna-be site. I did, however click over to favorite everything-you-need-to-know-about-tweaking-your-blog site and discovered how to put tabs on my blog .

Click on image to visit the site!

I think I like. Do you like?

I may not have the sleekest blog on the block. That's OK.

Lord, help me to be satisfied with what I do have!

Baking Soda Biscuits...hmmmm

I make biscuits frequently -- probably twice or three times a week. When I get up too late to do a yeast bread or don't have the two dozen eggs necessary to do an "eggy breakfast" for my plebes, we have biscuits.

I should be a pro.


So, this morning I didn't get up till 7 -- lazy bum, I know. What's for breakfast? Hmm. We had a couple of kids sleep over, and I thought it'd be a nice treat for them to have biscuits with peanut butter and jam. Sounds yummy, eh?

I didn't check to make sure I had baking powder before I mixed all the other ingredients up.

Well, I'd been wanting to try an experiment using only baking soda in place of baking powder. Baking powder here is a little spendy, and I can't find any that doesn't contain aluminum sulfate. Today would be my Day of Experimental Biscuits. I figured I'd add a little vinegar to the mix so that the baking soda would poof. They did poof nicely. Actually they were quite pretty.

The first bite told me that they had turned out passable.

Halfway through the second bite, I changed my mind.

I won't say that the experiment was a total flop. The ducks are very happy. I guess they don't mind the incredibly acrid, bitter, salty taste these beautiful works of art leave in your mouth for about an hour.

My oldest son said they weren't that bad. He's sixteen. If he can get his teeth into it and swallow, he's happy.

One of the twins wanted to gift some to the milkman when he came by. I nearly tackled him as he tried to walk out of the kitchen with them.

They really were that bad. I Googled "How to Make Baking Powder". Here's the CORRECT way to do it:
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Mix well and use
Makes 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Now I know. ;^)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Invasion

I'm multi-tasking usual. With internet slightly faster than Morse Code, I try to have several things going on at once, so that I don't get too frustrated with the fact that this really neat blog I want to read still hasn't finished loading.

Right now I have four sites loading, I'm baking a pumpkin pie, simmering chili, unloading photos from my camera and writing a blog post. Not bad for a Thursday afternoon!

So, the timer on my pie beeped. I looked over to see who was in the kitchen so they could slap the thing to silence it and noticed that I have a lot of pumpkin on my counter. Pumpkin in various stages. I had to take a photo. Yes, I'm a camera addict.
In the far back, on the left over there, is the last of my super-cheap-what-a-deal pumpkins waiting its turn in the oven. On the right is the next-to-last pumpkin, which just came out of the oven as the last two pumpkin pies went in. Right in front, sitting on my trusty-rusty deep freeze, are the first of the pies to come out. They are the reason my stomach is rumbling right now...just a sec. I'll take a picture...

Isn't it purty?!

So, while I sit on my duff and wait for timers to beep and pages to load, my faithful slave, er, I mean daughter is busily doing my job...

The chili is now ready to serve and the first cooked pumpkin looks like this...

So...I'm thankful.

Thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?! I'm only mostly out of touch. I do manage to remember things like Daylight Savings Time, Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. Thank you, Facebook!

Thank you, Lord, for another beautiful day.

Thank you, Lord,
for my family.

Thank you, Lord,
for my amazing husband who, amazingly enough, has put up with me for nearly 19 years and still loves me dearly!

Thank you, Lord,
that all of my children have put You first in their lives and that I'll be seeing them forever in heaven -- even if they move to Europe in this life. For instance. Not that any of them would ever do that. Right? Sarah?

Thank you, Lord,
for all our friends and adopted family here in Mexico. For Chuy, who stopped in for a glass of water and ended up hanging out all morning and staying for lunch (which is pretty normal for us!) and is now learning all about the Thanksgiving tradition of "pay de calabaza de holowin" (that would be "pumpkin pie").

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good...para siempre es su misericordia...His mercy endures forever!!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Metal Mouths

The twins are very excited about their new braces.

Actually, they are a little less excited now than they were when they left the house on the way to the orthodontist. Braces seemed really cool until they experienced the metal-on-lip feeling that all of us old-timers remember so well. Ugh. My teeth ache with the memory.

The idea of not having vampire fangs is still very appealing to them, but reality has set in and they are now understanding what I meant when I told them that it will be a long process and not much fun.

I must say that I'm very glad we're able to get the braces taken care of. A couple of years ago, when I realized that these poor kids had inherited my dental issues, I began to pray that somehow God would provide a way to fix their teeth. God answered my prayer!!! One of our supporters gifted us the full amount necessary to do braces for both boys. WaHOO!!! Granted, the cost here is significantly less than it would be in the US, but the amount, about $900 each, was still much higher than we could ever have afforded. Just one more instance where I get to see God take care of our needs (and our wants, too, from time to time!!!).

Dios siempre es fiel!!!
God is always faithful!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday -- The MKs Dream

It's the simple things in life which make my 16 year old son smile.

Missionaries to Mexico, we cross the border to the US and where do the kids want to go?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tackle it Tuesday -- Butter is Better

The cows have come home for the winter and we once again are getting fresh milk every morning. Caleb and Jessee took off at 5:30 a.m. to go help milk our friend Ramon's cows, so I figured I should get busy skimming off the cream from yesterday's milk.

That done, my cream jar (a one-liter yogurt container) was now full. Time to make butter.Tackle it Tuesday!

I do hate to buy butter. First of all, it's expensive...and I'm a cheapskate.

Secondly, I can't buy unsalted butter here. It's not that I don't like salt in my butter -- oh no! I like salt. A lot. There's some conspiracy, though, about iodized salt here. It's all they have. Even the butter "sin sal" has flouridated (is that a word?) salt in it. I don't know about you, but I have issues with flouride. When we were little, didn't the dentist always tell us to make sure we didn't swallow the flouride? So, why are they putting it in our salt?

Anyway, enough of that soapbox. On to the task at hand...

Pictures being worth as much as they are, I've included a ton. This is a SUPER EASY process -- made easier if you own a Kitchenaid, but very doable even if you only have a hand mixer.

I start with raw milk, strain it, add a tablespoon or 2 of peroxide and let it set for a day in the fridge so the cream will come to the top. Skim off the cream, store it in a "cream jar" in the fridge. You'll need about 4 cups of cream to make about 1 1/2 cups of butter.

Ready? Let's do it. Start to finish, this took me an hour with no kids (or husband) underfoot. You can stop in the middle, so don't worry if you don't have an uninterrupted hour. (Who has an uninterrupted hour during daylight hours?)

Put the cream in the mixer bowl and add a bit of PLAIN salt (imported from the States). Today I put in about 1/8 tsp. I'd rather have it a bit bland than overdo the salt. Attach your wire whisk and turn on the mixer. I bring my Kitchenaid up to power level 6. At this point, you can watch if you want to, but it's going to be a while, so you might want to go do something write a blog post.

After a few minutes, your cream will start to expand...keep whipping!

At about 7 minutes, you'll have a wonderful, fluffy whipped cream. Keep whipping!
At about 10 minutes, the cream will start to reduce and get thicker. You're getting closer. Keep whipping!
At this point, as clumps begin to form, the liquid may splash a bit.
Why on earth did Blogger rotate this photo? No idea.Here's my solution...
Keep whipping, you're almost there!!!

When the lumps separate, turn off your mixer and get out your trusty wooden spoon.

Push all the lumps together into one ball and then strain off the buttermilk.

WARNING!: This Photo Was Posed!!! Don't try to pour the buttermilk off with one hand while balancing the strainer over a Mason jar and taking a picture with the other hand. Using two hands I still managed to make a mess.

Put your lump of butter back in your mixer bowl, grab your wooden spoon again and let's smoosh. Smoosh out all the excess buttermilk by pressing the butter against the side of the bowl and then pour it off. Pour yourself a glass of drinking water.
Pour about a half a cup or so of water over the butter and repeat the smooshing process. Dump off the expressed water. Then do that again.
And again.
The goal here is to remove all the excess buttermilk which has been trapped in air pockets inside the butter. That residue will cause the butter to spoil over time. Of course, in our family the butter doesn't last that long, so I'm not overly picky. Two rinses is usually enough for me. If I'm planning to freeze it for later use, though, I'm a little more careful.Your butter is now finished. Press it into a bowl or container lined with plastic wrap -- or a butter crock, if you happen to have one -- and stick it in the fridge.
Honey's comment this morning, "Hey! The butter doesn't have that weird aftertaste today. What's different?"

My answer: It's homemade.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

At the Top of the Hill

I refuse to say that I'm "over the hill". I prefer to say that I have reached the summit...and I'm just gonna hang out here for a while! I celebrated my 40th birthday in October. My original plan for this memorable day in my life was to invite the neighborhood and have a big fiesta. However, we got home from our fall furlough only a couple of days before and it was still really hot and humid and the house was a mess and I was fighting off a, Sarah and I each made a cheesecake, we invited our friends Braulio and Pily over to hang out for the day and the day passed quietly.

Note to self: Peanut butter cheesecake and mocha cheesecake are amazing. Both of them. Better not to make them both for the same party or you'll gain 5 pounds.

My special gift from Doug and the kids was this critter:
My grain mill!
And of course, if I got one of those, I need one of these:
A 50 pound bag of wheat!
And with both of those, I made this:
Whole wheat flour!
And then I made banana bread, but I didn't take a picture of it because we ate it too quickly! But it was really yummy!!!

Funny note: The sound of the grain mill grinding grain while clamped to the kitchen counter is almost exactly the sound of a 5.7 earthquake hitting the house. (Voice of experience.)

Happy birthday to meeeeeee!