Friday, November 22, 2013

Variations on Banana Bread


Banana Bread is one of those staples in every household. Everyone has their own version.
Each as good as the last. My recipe is not outstanding on it's own except for one small addition that takes it from Blah
Ta Da!!
(See what I did there. I rhymed.)

Toffee Banana Bread
(Original recipe origins unknown. I've had the index card so long that it is turning brown)
                         1 3/4 Cup AP flour                                         1 1/4 tsp baking powder
                         1/2 tsp baking soda                                       2/3 Cup sugar
                         1/3 Cup shortening                                        2 eggs
                         2 Tbsp milk                                                    1 Cup mashed banana
                         3/4 tsp salt                                                     cinnamon
                         1 Cup toffee pieces
1.  In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. 
2.  In mixer, beat sugar and shortening on high speed  until light and fluffy. Add eggs and milk, one at a time, beating till smooth after each addition. 
3. Add flour mixture and banana alternately to creamed mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. I start with the flour, then banana, then flour and end with banana. It makes my OCD happy. 
4. Fold in toffee pieces. 
5. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill 2/3 of the way up in each cup. Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in middle of muffin comes out clean. I have no set time on this. I just keep an eagle eye on them so they don't burn.                  
6. You can make this same recipe for a loaf of banana bread. Just leave out the toffee and bake in a greased pan for 60-65 min at 350 degrees.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lillie made Elsie a princess hat out of construction paper. It even had paper ribbons hanging off the back. Elsie actually wore it around for a little bit before tearing it up.


In October, my Dad's company had a picnic for the families of it's employees and two of my sisters and myself went with all 10 of our combined kids. 10 kids 8 years old and under. It was crazy. Here are some of my favorite photos of the trip.
My Dad and Elsie
Ian was obsessed with this roller coaster. He rode it over and over.
                                        Aunt Rachel was nice enough to help him out.                                        

My niece Nora in the bouncy house.

Elaina, Lillie and Ryan in the sand pit.

Later, Ian was still on the coaster.

We took a hay ride on a wagon. My sister Bekah showed
off her Glamour Photo pose. Ahh, a blast to the past. I never got
Glamour Shots but was very jealous of those who did.

They had a giant hay bale slide. You rode down on a burlap sack.
Ian was very brave and insisted on doing it by himself.

I, however, was not as brave.

We wandered thru a corn maze for what seemed like a very
long time. I was the caboose and looked out for stragglers

Sunday, November 17, 2013

nothing like a little motivation

Ian is having his 3rd birthday party this week. Nothing fancy. Just the grandparents over for dinner.
But it is a great motivation to clean the whole house this week. I hope it works out because this place needs it. We'll see. I'll post later this week and let you know how I did.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Especially Humphrey

I am going to try something today. It will survive based on your response. Do you like it or not?

I love books. All shapes, sizes and genres. I love to recommend books. So what would be more natural to add to my blog than a book review? Reading is one of my all time favorite hobbies. I specialize in fiction and children's lit. I occasionally read nonfiction but if you look at my bookshelf, it is 90% fiction. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good fairytale.

The first book I will offer up for your consideration is an old short story that I read for the first time when I was about 8. I have loved it since then and was excited when I found it for 50 cents at the used book store.  I think the thing that caught my attention back then and even now, is the title. I have always had a soft spot for the name Humphrey.

Especially Humphrey by Mina Lewiton

You can buy it on Ebay here.

A delightful romp about a young writer who buys a English sheepdog puppy to live with her in a snobby upper crust neighborhood. As is predictable, chaos ensues. The entire book is only 76 pages long. One interesting thing about it is that it does not have chapters. It is just one straight read, start to finish. I read it out loud to Lillie in one evening. Suitable for boys or girls, it would particularly appeal to any child who loves dogs of all sorts as, in the cast of characters, there appears several kinds; sheepdogs, a dachshund, a cocker spaniel, a beagle, a Dalmatian. As an adult, I appreciate the great job that Lewiton did making the characters seem alive and pulling you into the little world of Upper Burrditch. She also had some great names; Amelia Darling, Mr. Orville-Sands, Mrs. Frotherer. As a plus, the illustrations by Howard Simon (Lewiton's husband) are sweet and simple.

We rate it a 10 out of 10.

Chicken Spinach Quiche

I just love a good quiche.

For breakfast, lunch or dinner. Especially when it is full of yummy ingredients like ham, spinach, chicken, cheese, mayo (I have a slight love affair with mayonnaise), and basil (this too).

Most of all, a quiche is a one pot dish. It's almost like cooking dinner without cooking dinner. Sort of a night off, if you will.

And boy, have I needed a night off!

Chicken Spinach Quiche
(courtesy of the Grace Chapel Cookbook and Susanna Guess)
2 unbaked 9 inch pie shells                                              2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped                                       3/4 cup mayo
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese                                           3/4 cup milk
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach                          1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion                                                      1/2 tsp diced basil (I use dried)
1. Pierce pie shells with a fork and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together chicken, spinach, cheese and onion. Spoon into pie shells. I use a chopper on the chicken and onion. I have found that the smaller the pieces, the easier my kids will eat it. I also use what ever meat is on hand. Tonight was ham. We will see how it comes out. I also defrost my spinach and tear it apart with my hands before puttin it in the bowl.
3. (This part is my own brilliant thinking) Rinse out the large bowl and use it in step 4.  See! No extra bowls!
4. Stir together eggs, mayonnaise, milk, basil and pepper until smooth. Pour over chicken mixture. Now, the liquid never seems to cover the dry ingredients. Don't worry about it. It will come out just fine. Don't do what I did the first time and add more egg and milk to make more liquid. What will happen is that the quiche won't set and you have a pie pan full of goo.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
This will feed my family of 5 and leave a few slices left over for my darling man's lunch the next day. Great as a leftover. Sorry, I don't have the nutritional info on this one but with the mayo, milk and cheese, I'm going to guess it's fairly high in calories and fat. But yummy also!

As a parent, you will never be perfect. You will never do everything just right. But take heart! There sometimes come along these moments where your Mommy radar was spot on the money. If you read my last post, you know that Ian has not been himself lately. After about 3 weeks of this, it was getting frustrating and I was getting impatient. You can only take so much of a crying, whining little boy who is dissatisfied with everything.

Monday of this week, Ian was at his worst. Crying at everything. Bursting into sobs at random moments with a velocity that made me think he was in actual pain over something. But nothing was wrong that I could see. No fever. No rash. No diaper issues. Nothing I could put my finger on but in the back of my mind, I kept telling myself "This is not normal."

Monday night was epic. Up all night and crying.

Tuesday morning, I found dried fluid in his ears and that was it for me. I made an appointment with the pediatrician and took him in for a check up. And guess what?

Both of his eardrums had ruptured and he had a double ear infection. It makes my heart hurt for him just thinking about it even now. But it did make me feel wonderful that I had taken him in even thought there were no concrete signs that anything was off. Makes a Mommy feel like she did her occupation proud.

The doctor said that they had ruptured recently, probably Monday night. But this is what makes me say a prayer of thankfulness. Tuesday morning, when I noticed all the dried fluid and built up earwax, I was going to drip a little hydrogen peroxide in his ears to clean it out. I do this to my own occasionally when they get a little too waxy. But I hesitated and decided to wait till after the doctor appointment in case they could make a diagnosis by what was in his ear canal. Can you imagine the level of pain if I had poured cold peroxide onto freshly ruptured eardrums? Not to mention the possibility of post infection? I am ever so thankful to the providence that made me stop.

After 5 days of  antibiotics, he is back to his old cheerful self. It is nice to have my little man well again.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And then life happens.

You know how you make all these great plans for the month? for the week? for the day? All these grand schemes of what you will accomplish and the wonderfully healthy fresh meals you will cook every night. All the To-do list items you will slash a red marker across. "Finished! Accomplished! Done!" you will cry with vigorous gusto as you march like a conquering barbarian across the vanquished wasteland of unfinished chores.

And then life happens. Kid get sick. Ironing piles up. You run from one appointment to the next and don't have time to plan menus and cook. The dust bunnies under your couch get friendly and start multiplying like, well, like rabbits. And at some point you stop, look around you at the chaos, and exclaim "What happened?!"

I find in times like these, the best remedy is to slow down. Stop. Take a deep breath and start over.

This week has not gone as planned. I have not been as productive as I wanted to be. What I have to remember are the other things that were accomplished. For instance, I didn't sleep for more than 30 minutes Monday night. So Tuesday, I was tired, nauseous and unable to do almost anything other than survive. But the reason for my sleeplessness was worth it. Ian was running fever with a bad cough. From 11:00 pm to 5:30 am, I was curled up in his bed, nose to nose, cuddling while I scratched his back and he tried to get comfortable. Neither one of us slept but at least he was happy to have Momma there where he wanted me. Just so you don't think I am some super mom, I will quickly tell you this was NOT fun. My arms and legs kept falling asleep and since we had to be nose to nose, every time he coughed was right in my face (probably the reason my throat is sore today).  Every time I thought he drifted off, I would sneak back into my room, slide under the warm down comforter and lay my head on my pillow.

Only to hear him wind up again, crying at the top of his lungs and coughing.

It was a long night. A hard night. A night I do not wish to repeat. But then again, to have a entire night of him curled up against my chest, feel his hot breath on my cheek, have his feverish hand resting on mine and to have him whisper over and over again, "I need you Momma. I need you."

I would do it willingly again in a heartbeat. He'll only need me for such a little while.