Friday, April 19, 2013

Cloth Diaper Review

 We have started potty training! It's warm enough to run around inside without pants on, which helps enormously.
So I thought this might be a good time to weigh in on the cloth diaper issue. I warn those that don't give a hoot, that is the topic for this entire post.
After reading so many great reviews we went with the BumGenius brand. I haven't tried any others so this is a pretty specific opinion, but it's a complete endorsement.
I think a major factor in my ending this experience with positive feelings is that we were fully equipped. Here's what we have:
24 diapers (newborn liners, intermediate liners, outer shell cover)
2 travel wet bags with zippers
2 trash can liners
Fabric softener-free laundry detergent

Two dozen diapers was a good amount. We washed them every other night and we always had enough to get through until they were dry. Because the covers are lined with a very thin rubber it's suggested that you don't put them in the dryer regularly because the rubber can dry and split. But maybe once a month it's good to fluff the liners so that liquid doesn't run off before absorbing.

Wet bags are essential unless you never go anywhere. When we go on trips I use them to store them until it's time to do laundry and you can't smell it. Plastic shopping bags are the classic standby but the times when I did have to use them they didn't do as a good a job.

To store the dirty diapers at home we used a swing-top trash can with a rubber coated liner. it was the perfect size and we hardly ever noticed a smell.

We also found it very important to find a very natural detergent. Don't go by they're own descriptions, you need to do research. "Country Save" has no colors, scents or fabric softeners. The colors and scents can be very irritating to baby skin. And fabric softeners are extremely counter-productive because they make the fabric less absorbent.

Hope that's helpful! I totally suggest making the investment. We've spent about a third what we would have, special detergent included, and it's much healthier for your baby's skin.
And it's cute to boot!
 

The day she turned 1, playing with cars^^


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sauted Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad (chased down with pics of tree climbing and wagons)



 The idea for this recipe came from a salad that I saw in Bon Appetit. I added some dill because I had a whole bunch left over from the cream cheese sandwiches, and used dried beans where they used canned. It was very good, and deceptively filling. I served it to my small crew with some grilled kielbasa...
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • Kosher salt
  • 1tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoonsfresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoonmayonnaise
  • tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1cup dry gigante, corona, or butter beans, covered with salted water and boiled until tender.
  • 1/2cupflat-leaf parsley leaves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves, divided
 
Place barley in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2 inches. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain; run under cold water. Set aside.


 
Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and 5 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper; set aside.

 
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower; cook, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, 10-12 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

 
Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl; add beans, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 tablespoon dill, reserved barley, and half of reserved dressing. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

 
Divide salad among bowls; drizzle remaining dressing over. Garnish with lemon zest, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1 tablespoon dill.
 
... And then we went outside to play!




 
Ready for a bath, a book, and bed.^^

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hands in Pockets

video
London has discovered her pockets.
We got to the meeting and she took her coat off, hung it up, realized that her dress didn't have any pockets and put her coat back on...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Classic Cucumber Sandwiches

There's absolutely nothing ground breaking or original about these cucumber cream cheese sandwiches.
There was a funeral today that I couldn't make it to, but I offered to make some food for the reception. When I asked what was needed I was told that they had so many sweets coming it would be really helpful if i could make some healthy finger food. For a hundred people.
 I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to make brownies. Because let's face it, when you're sad what do you want to eat? Brownies! So i couldn't think of anything to make. I knew that whatever plate of healthy food I made, what everyone really wanted to eat was the goodies. I went down the path of unusual ideas, then the path of vegetarian ideas, then the path of miniature everything. Nothing doing. Then I tried to picture what I would expect to find on a table at a funeral reception. For some reason these were a centerpiece in my imagination. I rolled with it.
 And you know, they were delicious(I swiped a couple, I was making them at 12:15pm, solidly lunchtime). They're cool and dignified, subtle and clean. And if you cut them into tiny little triangles you can have a healthy token finger food and then dive shamelessly into that brownie. I've served my purpose today. I have given a hundred people a cucumber peace of mind.
 
CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE SANDWICHES
White bread, crust cleanly removed
cream cheese with fresh dill whipped into it
peeled and thinly sliced cucumber
salt and pepper (I'm generous with the pepper)
 
I think you can figure this one out...

Kimchi Revisited

 
Non-fishy fished kimchi
 I will now review my various flavors of kimchi from last week. If you're interested in making some of this korean sauerkraut you can find the template of a recipe in a previous post untitled "What happens during during naptime - KIMCHI".

So as a quick review kimchi in mostly cabbage or napa cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and salt. Other things are added or subtracted depending on the locale and family traditions so I tried jazzing it up last week. It's now been sitting at room temperature loosely covered 7 days.
 To one jar I added extra chili flakes and a tablespoon of fish sauce, a very traditional korean way of spicing it up. To another I added two layers of preserved lemons and some cilantro leaves.
Fishy: it was surprisingly mild. The sauce was very fragrant at first, i was even worried that I might have added too much. But it seems to have mellowed into a hint of something else, more an umami effect than a slap with a herring. It was delicious stirred into a shrimp pad thai that I made from this recipe http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/04/easy-shrimp-pad-thai.html 
Lemon Cilantro: This one was much more overt. The lemon went very nicely with the fresh ginger and it pulled everything together to make it much fresher tasting. It almost tastes colder. I think I will try it with fresh lemon slices sometime to get an even brighter taste. Preserved lemons lose a little of that as they take on the salt that they're soaked in. If you get around to it before I do let me know how it goes.
I think with a lemon chicken recipe or maybe some roasted garlic/preserved lemon smashed potatoes you would be able to identify the citrus notes better than straight out of the jar. But it could also be used to brighten up some salmon, or maybe a sweet and sour asian noodle dish. It would be wonderful in a hot and sour soup. Will have to try.
barely awake, at her supervising counter post

the gourmet saturday breakfast: egg burrito with bbq, mustard, and kimchi/scambled eggys kechup top peanujelly tos

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Panacea Vegetable Soup

A wonderful sick soup full of veggies. It really warms you up and heals you fromm the inside out.

This soup recipe is from my Mom. She called it Panacea. It's probably from somewhere but I'll always think of it as one of her soups...
3 leeks sliced
1 onion sliced
6 cloves garlic chopped
4 carrots
1/4 of a butternut squash, cubed
3 summer squash
2 zukes
2 handfuls of spinach chopped a bit
1 cup of ribboned cabbage
1 tsp each thyme and oregano
1 can white beans
1 can diced tomatoes
2 quarts of stock
Saute leeks onions and garlic in 3 tbsp gently heated olive oil for 30 minutes, being careful not to let them brown (add splashes of water if needed).
Add tomatoes and stock, bring to boil and simmer 15 minutes.
Add carrots and herbs, simmer 10 min.
Throw in remaining veggies and simmer 15 min.
To serve, remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp butter.
Very good with some grated asiago on top and hot buns.
As you can see, this is a huge recipe. If I'm not sharing it I pare it down a bit otherwise we drown.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

PURPLE SHIRTS











What Happens During Naptime- Coconut Cream Pie w/ Vanilla Whipped Cream

Soundtrack ~ Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Milo Greene, and this amazing cover of the Fleetwood Mac song Silver Springs by Lykke Li. Yeah, I know, right! I didn't appreciate this song until I heard someone else do it. FleetM was admitedly before my time, but there are some seriously good lines in that song...

But you have not been lured by coconut cream to hear me talk about 70's music. Well, you kind of were... On to the pie.

This was adapted from Ashley Englishes recipe as found in her book "A Year of Pies". I made some changes because of the sweetness factor. She uses sweetened coconut but I like to have more control in this area. As it turned out, the custard was very sweet, so i was glad to have used the unsweetened stuff. I'm also a big fan of using unsweetend whipped cream that's been infused with a flavor when I make cream pies. I feel like if the pie is sweet and the cream is sweet it can get a little homogenized. But with a clean cool whipped cream with some orange zest, lavender or vanilla beans you really pick up each individual piece. Play with it and decide what you like

COCONUT CREAM PIE WITH VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM

1 basic pie crust
9 inch pie pan

1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups whole milk (raw is amazing)
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

Whipping Cream Prep:

Scrape vanilla seeds from bean and place in a large jar with the cream. Shake hard, place in fridge and forget about it for about four hours.

Place rolled out crust in pie plate and decorate edges as desired. Place on baking sheet. Prick the bottom of the crust 4 or 5 times to prevent bubbling. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill halfway with beans. Bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool.

Meanwhile, combine cornstarch sugar and salt in a sauce pan, add milk, and bring to low boil. Stir constantly. Turn heat to lowest.
Remove 1/2 cup of milk mixture and very very slowly whisk it into the egg yolks. Pour eggs back into the saucepan and which constantly 2 to 3 minutes, or until thick. Remove from heat.
Stir in the extract, coconut flakes and butter until the butter is completely combined.















Transfer custard to glass or ceramic bowl and let cool to room temp. Once cooled pour into pan and smooth with a spatula.




















Whip the infused cream and pile it on, mounding the center and covering your custard completely.
Sprinkle the toasted coconut on the top and refridge until your going to eat it. All.









Thursday, April 4, 2013

What Happens During Naptime- KIMCHI


 No, Kimchi is not an acronym. It is a Korean saurkraut that is naturally fertmented. This means that no vinegar is added, but you still end up with the tang of a pickle or, well, saurkraut. It contains probiotics which help with digestion and immune health. Who can't use more of that, right?
   So, above are the simple ingredients: Cabbage(napa cabbage, if you prefer) carrots, fresh garlic and ginger, I add chili flakes, salt, and filtered water if your tap contains chlorine. Bad, Bad, Bad, NO CHLORINATED WATER!
   Ok, here are the three basic steps of fermenting vegatables:

1.) You chop the vegetables and garlic/ginger and pound it in the bowl to bruise it. You want the juices to flow. I stumbled upon an easy way to do this. I had my stuff chopped but didn't have time to pack it that night. I wrapped the bowl and put it on my porch because my fridge was full. It got colder than expected and the freeze made the vegetables perfectly soft and juicey.

2.) Add salt to you vegetables and any spices. Mix well. (above are chili flakes, coriander, and paprika)

 
 
3.) This is the only precise part in the whole process. You can mix up the flavors, add less salt, more salt, etc. But you must end with tightly packed veggies with liquid just covering them. You may need to add a splash of water if your cabbage doesn't give off enough juice. Add some extra salt with it. The salt and the liquid will keep mold from forming while it ages for a few days. You can fold some cabbage leaves and press it in the top inch of the jar to keep the kimchi submerged, or you can just open the jar and push it back down every now and then.
 
Keep the lid on loosely and leave at room temp for a few days. Start tasting it and move it to the refridgerator when it's at tangy as you like it!


Some variations that I tried today:
 Preserved Lemons and cilantro layered into the cabbage.
 Fish sauce with extra chili (traditonal kimchi sometimes has actual fish in it and is very hot)


So check back in a week and I'll let you know how that other flavors turned out!
A friend of mine that is a kimchi fanatic adds it to her chicken soup and it is delicious. I love to put it on a fried egg sandwich and we've also used it on portobella rueben sandwiches. Amazing!
Please, if you have any questions, let me know.
Cass

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Layout

Please bear with the changing that may be taking place. I'm trying to figure out how to get one of my own pictures on the background but it hasn't worked yet.
That, and I'm a change addict...

Spring Project - Woven Fence

 I know, I am totally beating this Spring thing to death. For some reason I've had a really hard time with the cloudy days this winter and after having a beautiful weekend today's weather was like a punch to gut. We had hale. It was frozen. At 12:30 pm it was 58 degrees and at 1:45 it was cloudy, haling, and 45 degrees!
So, for the moment, permit me to live in the past.
 Every year, I clip my lilac bushes and apple trees and end up with this neat pile of perfectly straight, flexible switches. They lie there so compliant and just begging to used for something. Then a couple years ago I saw a picture of these woven fences. I gave it a go, learned a couple things on the way, and now it's an inaugeral spring project for me every year. This weekend I finished mine and planted some early morning glories underneath. And now I will stand back and wait and wait and wait and wait (it's great practice, I'm not very good at this...) for June when I can plant something else.
As you can see, this one still needs some filling in, but hopfully by July it will be barely containing a crop of technicolor zinnias. C'mon sunshine!