Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches-Crock Pot

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches- Crock Pot

Last week we finally got our 1/2 a cow, which barely, just barely fits in the downstairs freezer. Next year we're getting a bigger freezer and putting it in the garage, that's just all there is to it. Anyway I'll be doing a lot of experimenting with beef this year, since pretty much all the experience I have is STRETCHING one pound of organic pasture fed ground beef into 8 hamburgers, or making meat loaf.

I had almost all of a 3 lb (?) rump roast already cooked. When I cooked it originally I seared it all over in a skillet, then baked it covered at 325 with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and browned onions for 2 hours. It was lightly pink in the center and moist.

I shredded that and stuck it in the crock pot with: a can (15 oz?) of tomato sauce an equal amount of water 3 T. lemon juice salt pepper 2T. paprika 1/2 t. cayenne 1/2 t. cumin 1 T. garlic 1 minced yellow onion 1/4 c. butter 1/4 c. ketchup 1/4 c. honey and set it on low 8 hrs.

We tried Sloppy Joes the other day, with a seasoning pack (gasp!) and thought it was kind of gross, but this was delicious. Everyone like it. Even ABCD who doesn't usually eat much at all ate THREE sandwiches and homemade coleslaw for supper, and wanted leftovers cold for lunch today. The Rising Star thinks we will see a lot of growth as our children turn from kind of scrawny little vegetarian children into BEEF-EATERS. Suddenly I'm wishing I'd ordered more roasts and less ground beef from the butcher. Oh well- next year!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Healthier half-whole wheat version if you have time to plan:

2 1/2 c. buttermilk -or 1 1/2 c. yogurt and 1 c. water
1/3 c. melted butter
2 t. sea salt
3 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. white flour
by hand or with a dough blade in the food processor
cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap -or aluminun foil -or a lid
and let sit on the counter 8 hrs

4 1/2 t. (2 packs) of yeast into
1/4 c. warm water
1/4 c honey
let sit 5 minutes til foamy
mix into the dough with the food processor until it forms a ball -or knead in by hand.

divide into 24 pieces, roll into balls, place on a big cookie sheet, cover with a damp towel and let rise 15-30 minutes.
brush with melted butter if you want to,
bake 15-20 minutes at 350.

Last minute White Bread version:

Use 2 c. milk/buttermilk/yogurt-water
6 c. white flour
don't let the flour soak in between , just let the yeast foam for 5 minutes with the honey-water and process everything together all at once.
Preferred by the boys, and delicious made into cinnamon rolls, but hardly healthy.
You choose.

Simplest Tomato Bruschetta/Past Sauce

Simplest Tomato Bruschetta/ Pasta Sauce

In a 9x13 pan dump 2 big cans of whole tomatoes (or use fresh ones if its summer), a handful of basil, a couple onions, a bunch of garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for as long as you've got at 300 degrees, or at the very least an hour for 350.
Dump it all in the food processor and whir it quickly.
When it is cold top tiny toasts with it, or toss it immediatley with hot pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
You could totally make this in the crock pot on low, and blend it up with the immersion blender, and then you'd have even less in the way of dirty dishes, and you could make a whole bunch at once.

Lamb Kebobs


1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
3 T. minced garlic
2 T. paprika
2 T. sea salt
1 T. pepper
1/4 c. lemon juice

Cut 5 pounds lamb (or steak or chicken) into kebob size smallish pieces, coat in marinade (you could put it all in a big ziploc bag) and rest in fridge several hours or overnight.

Soak 100 bamboo skewers for at least 1 hour or use metal and don't soak them at all.

Chop 6 red peppers, 3 sweet onions, 4 zucchini, 1 1/2 pounds of button mushrooms (don't chop those!) into fairly large chunks.

Make your skewers up the way you want them. Or don't use skewers, just put everything in a couple baking pans or sheets, and cook it that way. Its easier, but not as handy, and people will eat even more! Having those empty sticks on their plates helps with moderation, and everything will STILL get gobbled up.

Broil about 10 minutes. Flip after 5 minutes. I suppose you could grill them, but that is guy territory as far as I'm concerned. Too much hot exposed area for me to deal with when there are little wild children running around and wanting to help. I say grilling can be done when they're older. With Dad. If you can grill and keep your kids safe, you are amazing. Or you have a built in outdoor kitchen, too much money, and a nanny for your kids anyway, so don't worry. Go grill!

Serve over chopped lettuce.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you can do it before the hungry hordes attack!

Best Stuffed Mushrooms Ever

Best Stuffed Mushrooms Ever

In a food processor bowl grind enough toast or stale bread to make:
3/4 c. bread crumbs

then add:
stems from 2 pounds button mushrooms
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 . parsley (or 2 T. dried)
1/2 a medium onion
1 t. paprika
1 t. salt
process until fairly but not completely creamy. Scrape mixture into a frosting bag with a plain tip (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off) and fill
2 lb button mushrooms with mixture.

Just before serving broil 8-10 minutes until brown and soft.

Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade

1 can of black olives
1 1/2 c. green olives with pimentos
3 T. capers
3 T. crushed garlic (or 6 cloves)
6 T. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Dump everything in the food processor and whir 'til its all ground but not pasty.

Petite Pumpkin Pie

Petite Pumpkin Pie

2 pies worth of pie crust, rolled out and cut into biscuit size circles and fitted carefully into a mini muffin tin
whipped cream

Mix together:
2 eggs, whisked
15 oz pumpkin puree
12 oz evaporated milk
3/4 c. cane sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. cardamom

Pour carefully a tiny amount into each little crust-cup, bake 350 for 20 minutes. Repeat. Cool. Serve with a dainty dollop of whipped cream.
Men especially seem to love pumpkin pie, so if you're having a party with lots of men, or want to earn the adoration and respect of your father-in-law make a bunch!

Wicked Little Pecan Pies

Wicked Little Pecan Pies

Two pies worth of pie crust
2 c. pecans

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. corn syrup*
4 T. melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 c. cream
mix all together until it is an unbelievably sticky mess.
Roll out pie crust dough and cut with a biscuit cutter, carefully press circles of crust down into a mini muffin tin, drop three shelled pecans into each one, pour a little of the filling into each one.
Bake 350 for 20 minutes. Repeat.

*I know, I know, but I was out of Lyle's Golden Syrup which no one around here sells, that's my excuse, and besides, corn syrup TASTES so clean and sweet. And if you believe the ridiculous corn syrup lobby commercials, there's absolutely nothing to be afraid of- it's just CORN!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's Going On?

Ha, ha! We're busy. As usual.
The Rising Star has been busy getting ready for trial, writing briefs, signing people up to bring food for the church auction/supper tomorrow. I hate falling asleep before he gets home, but sometimes there's just no help for it. If I'm pregnant and responsible for two kids already all day long I just can't stay up til 2 or 3. Of course, he thinks it is ridiculous of me to even WANT to stay up, but I can't help it. Like somehow if I stand vigil he'll get home safely. What the heck am I going to do with myself when my boys are old enough to be out at night by themselves? Valium, maybe. I can't think what else would work....
I spent most of the last week freaking out about the baby- I started having contractions last Friday at this homeschool Moms group I went to, all through the night and the next day, plus throwing up and feeling awful. On Saturday night the baby dropped low, and I really had a hard time keeping it together until Wednesday when I had an appointment with my OB. She did her usual Osteopathic Maniplulative Treatments on me, which work like magic to calm everything down, get my pelvic floor in alignment and stop contractions. Then she did an ultrasound and we could see the baby's head right there, down low, but not causing any problems. So yay! She's happy, I'm happy, just trying to enjoy this pregnancy and not worry so much about all the things that could go wrong. The truth is, this time, everything is under control.
Now I have a ton of food to cook for the church auction supper. Here's the menu:
Tiny Toasts with
Hummus, Roasted Tomato Bruschetta, Olive Tapenade
Saffron Basmati Rice
Marinated Lamb and Vegetable Kebobs with Yogurt Sauce
other people are bringing veggie trays, pasta salad, a couple of other appetizers
Tiny pumpkin pies
Tiny pecan pies
French Apple Cake
Mini Cream puffs
other people are bringing cheesecakes and some other desserts.
Hot Apple Cider
someone else is in charge of wine.
Also I've been working on plans to convert the office-hall downstairs (which ends in the laundry/bathroom) into a family dressing room, with a whole wall of shelves and bins, a garment rack, tie rack, shoe racks, everything clothes-wise all in one place. I'm excited, and trying to get the Rising Star to see that $500 investment would mean a huge change for the better as far as the tidiness of our house. Clothes wouldn't even make it upstairs unless they were being worn! All the shoes downstairs instead of spilling across the living room floor. This has led me to rework, mentally, all of the rooms of the house, which is, admittedly, a little more than $500 worth of changes....
ABCD started a new block on housing through history, and is enjoying that. He also started guitar lessons a couple of weeks ago, and he likes that a lot. His teacher asked him to write down some of the music he likes, and his list included the Talking Heads, They Might Be Giants, and the Gypsy Kings. I'm glad he's still young enough to think his parents' music is cool! Uh- because it is. If only I could get him to love Lyle Lovett....
Mymy is full of energy and really delighting in pestering his brother and getting big reactions. Not so nice. 2 1/2 so much wants to be a big boy, but really, really isn't. Much to his frustration.
And mine. When is that kid going to WANT to go potty in the toilet? I'm really not excited about two bottoms to diaper all day long.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The other day we were over at our new friends' house and Mymy rediscovered the goodness of play dough. And I was inspired to make some- it had been months, since March maybe, since I'd made any, and that's practically a lifetime for a 2 year old. So he and I made play dough this morning and he played happily cutting and smashing and rolling and squeezing all the rest of the morning while ABCD tried to concentrate on schoolwork and NOT get sucked into making play dough snakes and pizzas. Here's my recipe:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 T. cream of tartar
mix together, then add:
1 c. water
1 T. oil
and cook over med-high heat stirring constantly until it forms a big ball, then dump it out to cool a little. When it is cool enough to handle add a couple drops of essential oil and a couple drops of food coloring.
This time we made lemon, peppermint, and rosemary, though ABCD thought rosemary and its "invigorating" properties was perhaps not the best choice for Mymy and that it would have made more sense to choose a "calming" oil. Oh well. It kept Mymy busy and even drew Foal in when she arrived for an early-release school day afternoon play date.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Late Autumn Circle

Late Autumn Circle 2008

Rise up O flame, by thy light shining, Bring to us beauty, vision and joy.

There's the firm earth under me, The blue sky over me,
So I stride, So I stand, And I see You too,
With the blue sky above you And the firm earth under you.

I’m in the mood for singing, hey how about you?
I’m in the mood for singing, singing along with you.
Hey, hey, what do you say? I’m in the mood for that today.
Hey, hey, what do you say? I’m in the mood for that!
Clapping, whistling, stomping, learning, smiling, singing

Right hand, left foot, meet in the middle,
Left hand, right foot, meet in the middle,
Right arm over left arm, play the fiddle.
Left hand, right foot, meet down low,
Right hand, left foot meet down low,
Left arm over right arm, pull the bow.
Reach to the right, reach to the left,
Stretch in front, stretch behind,
Look down below, what do you find?
Right hand reach out to a friend,
Left hand reach out to a friend,
Make a circle without end.
Moving to the right, in a ring,
Moving to the left, we will bring,
Our circle to the center, move inside,
Then back out again, like the tide.

A diamond or a coal?
A diamond if you please:
Who cares about a clumsy coal
Beneath the summer trees?
A diamond or a coal?
A coal, sir, if you please:
One comes to care about the coal
What time the waters freeze.

The gift of light we thankfully take
But nothing may be just alone for our sake.
The more we give light one to another
It shines and spreads love, still growing further;
Til every spark is set aflame,
And from every heart Joy proclaim.

Come Ye Thankful People, come, raise a song of harvest home:
Fruit and crops are gathered in, safe before the storms begin;
God, our Maker will provide for our needs to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise a song of harvest home.
All the world is but a field, given for a fruitful yield;
Wheat and tares together sown, Here for joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
God of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

Brave and true I will be, each good deed sets me free.
I will fight for the right, I will conquer the wrong.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


On a couple of homeschool email lists I belong to there's been a lot of talk lately about friends. A few questions keep coming up.
1~How do you deal with your children's playmates who are from families that don't share your same educational/child-rearing philosophies?
2~How much time should we allow for socializing?
3~What about our children's playmates that WE don't really like, or children whose parents we don't approve of?
4~How do you find friends for yourself (and your children) who share similar world views, philosophies, ages of children, and interests?
So I'm going to tackle these questions here. Because you're all dying to know my opinion, and I don't feel like doing laundry or dishes or anything resembling housework. And I've been thinking about the issue of FRIENDS a lot this fall. A family we never really got to know but always thought we'd get along with, and who we know shared a lot of our values moved away last week, and we miss them, or the lost opportunity, at any rate. And the boys and I have made some new friends, a large and lovely family who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome in their home even though it is clear that a lot about our religions and politics don't overlap very much.
Here goes.
1~Friends with different family philosophies. Are you kidding me? Maybe if you live in a city or community where your philosophy is the dominant one you might have this problem. Maybe. Mostly this kind of question seems to come from parents who worry about the effects of the TV world and children raised in the mainstream culture on their sheltered children and protected families. I understand the concern, but it has never been too much of a problem for us. Not as big a problem as not having any kids to play with because all your friends are in school and busy with classmate's birthday parties and school events, for instance. Kids are pretty adaptable. And even kids who have unlimited access to TV seem to like playing at a house where TV isn't an option. All kids seem to like building forts, swinging, running around being silly, and making up pretend games. And kids who aren't raised to worship pop stars and aren't given every TV show spinoff toy tend to think its pretty silly to even think about these things, let alone waste play time talking about it!
2~Time to play with others is different for every family. ABCD seems happiest to have a playdate once or twice a week, a sleepover with his best friend once a month or so, and the organized activities we do with other kids. Mymy is happiest when someone comes to play or we go somewhere else to play every single day. He's very social and loves big groups. "Who coming today?" is the question every single morning.
3~I don't let my kids play with kids I don't like. Period. The other problem, about parents, has only come up a couple of times, and is more difficult. But it seems rare to me to find children I really like and want my kids around whose parents I don't like. It seems, perhaps not too curiously, that when I find parents I don't like, their kids are usually obnoxious brats that I don't want my kids around anyway. More often there are kids who are ill-behaved whose parents I really like as friends for me, even if it seems their parenting skills aren't admirable. And that's the harder thing so far. Its hard for me to be friends with someone who doesn't seem to be devoting enough attention to their children. I usually end up feeling disdainful and start separating myself and my kids from that family. I realize this question will come up again as the kids grow older and have more say in who they play with and want to be with. But so far its my choice and there haven't been any real problems. My kids are well socialized and equally comfortable interacting with children, adults, and small animals.
4~Friends for Mom. This is the most interesting part of the question of friends to me. When we moved to this town I felt like we'd never fit in, and also that I never wanted us to. We made some friends right away, but I spent a long time waiting, hoping, to find other families just like us. Waldorf homeschool families, religiously and politically liberal, active in the community, organic farm supporting, etc.. Those families have not been found. I don't think there are any here, or if there are they're so far underground I haven't been able to find them in 7 years.
BUT... there are lots of homeschool families. And lots of the very conservative families also eat organically and eschew materialism, value outdoor, natural playtime for their children, breastfeed, wear their babies, have well mannered children and are not Disney-fied and plasticised. And when raising your children is the most important thing and so many of the child-rearing methods are the same sometimes political and religious differences aren't such a barrier as they could be without children.
There are people at the Unitarian Church, the small Friends meeting, a handful of other liberal religious groups who share a similar commitment to religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and serious, quiet religious observance. Well, not that Unitarians are always quiet, but they do respect and value every one's right to find their own way, and that is something.
There are people in the small peace groups, environmental, hiking, community and political groups that share our global concerns as well as commitment to local action and awareness.
We have a group of friends I could never invite to supper all at once, though there certainly is overlap. But we have friends to make an advent garden with, friends to invite for Day of the Dead, friends to have playdates with, friends to share homeschool art projects with, friends to work on political campaigns with, and friends to go snow-shoeing and camping with.
We spent a long time wishing we lived some place where we could find other families with more similarities, so our kids could grow up in this ideal, close knit family of friends who shared childcare and holidays and values. It hasn't happened that way. I haven't FOUND a community of like-minded people here, we've created one, sort of. Our community of friends is more like a huge complicated sort of Venn diagram, with all of these overlapping sections than the big circle of loving arms kind of community I'd once envisioned. Its okay, better than that really, we have surprised ourselves with a very rich and lovely life in a place we never intended to stay, let alone enjoy!
I never would have made all of these various, diverse friends if I hadn't purposely gone looking for them. Lots of people are too shy, too overwhelmed, too unsure of how to reach out to even try. I got over myself and started talking to people, at the grocery store, at the Y, the park. We started volunteering, with kids in tow, for all kinds of events, so people in town started seeing us doing the things we care about, and finally had something to talk to us about. I started asking for help, and to help.
I know lot of people think we're wrong about politics, can't possibly be reading the same bible they are, weird to homeschool, off-base to practice attachment parenting, freaks to not allow "educational" talking toys, awful for bringing our kids to political rallies and peace marches and community meetings, but mostly people think we're thoughtful and sincere and loving, trying our best, working really hard, and that above all we mean well. And people seem to appreciate that we stand up and speak out and do what we think is right, even when they don't agree that we ARE right. It helps that our kids are relatively well mannered, bright, and interesting to be around. These are the things that I look for in potential friends, after all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Here's alittle picture of the kids last night. Sunny is the tall one, a pirate, ABCD's oldest friend is a Ninja, ABCD is Robin Hood, and Mymy is "Not a Bunny". He is Max from the book "Where the Wild Things Are". And he doesn't want to let go of his "Candy Pumpkin" no matter what.

Waldorf Works

At least according to the standardized test ABCD recently took.
It is called the MAP test, and is a maze type test. The questions get harder if you answer correctly, and easier if you get answers wrong. It was horrible, and ABCD, who HATES getting anything wrong and has a really hard time trying things he thinks he MIGHT not be able to do perfectly had a terrible time knowing that he was getting answers wrong. He'd sit there at the computer and sigh, "Well, I guess I just have to give up and guess." The test took SIX hours, straight through, and covered reading, language arts, and math.
I've been feeling horrible for a week, making him go through this terrible experience. Well, not that the ends justify the means, or that the test results really mean anything to me as his Mom and teacher (I laughed out loud when the proctor said the test was important so that I would know "where he's at"), but it is easier to hold up a score than stop and explain all of the things you've been learning about. And my son scored in the 99th percentile in every single category, with reading and language arts covering the range of 7th-12th grades, and math solidly at 7th grade level. This is a kid who doesn't have all of his basic math facts (tables) memorized, and my husband was sure he was "behind" in math because he has to stop and figure questions out, and can't just spout off the answer. It has been one of the biggest sources of tension between us as parents. "He should know this" vs "But he understands it, and he'll memorize it when it makes sense to HIM to do so."
Oh well, pressure's off and I can relax and enjoy teaching him without worrying so much about whether I'm including enough of the stuff public school kids are doing. I have a score to hold up "See, he's learning plenty!"
Of course, my first thought when we got the scores back was "What the heck do they DO in school?" My child is bright and articulate, but he's not on track to graduate from high school at 12 or anything. He's just a normal kid whose curiosity and thirst for learning about the world hasn't been drudged out of him by a school system too over-burdened and under-inspired to teach children well. He's being given the time and experience to learn to THINK. And it works. He has the scores to prove it.