Sunday, July 20, 2014

Maine Menus

Camping in Maine this week -- a place none of us have ever been, so we're very excited. Here's the plan for our food:

Monday (mostly driving):
Banana bread
Bagels, cream cheese, apples, buy chocolate milk along the way
Hot dogs, baked beans, s'mores

Butterscotch oatmeal, canned mandarin oranges
Buy lobster rolls for lunch, maybe blueberry pie
Hobo dinners, baked apples

Pancakes, applesauce, syrup
Turkey and cheddar sandwiches, apples
Omelettes, instant rice, canned green beans

Dutch oven 'almost pumpkin pie'
Pbj sandwiches, fresh fruit of some kind, string cheese
Tuna sandwiches, salad, yogurt

Instant oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs
Ham sandwiches, dried mangoes
Chilaquile casserole, zucchini

Saturday (on the road again):
Cereal, milk, canned pineapple
Hummus, bread, baby carrots, beef jerky
Spaghetti at home

I'll have to find a grocery store to buy fresh bread, milk, fruit, and veggies nearer the end of the week, along with hummus and ham, but the rest I'm preparing and packing in advance.

Cannot wait!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Leftover birthday cake ≈≈ Thai peanut noodles, blueberry crisp
Cranberry-banana muffins ≈≈ Pottage
Huevos rancheros ≈≈ Curried potatoes, zucchini with mushrooms
Strawberry muesli ≈≈ Black-eyed peas, biscuits
Raisin-date-walnut oatmeal ≈≈ Polenta pizza, green beans
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Chef's salad, popcorn with movie night
Cereal, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Chicken country captain

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Menus

Oatmeal scones, with raisins, craisins, and cinnamon chips ≈≈ Carrot soup, sourdough baguettes
Blueberry oatmeal ≈≈ Broccoli-rice casserole
Cornbread, smoothie ≈≈ Pizza, frozen vegetables
Cranberry-walnut muesli ≈≈ Black bean burritos, corn
Rice with cinnamon and sugar, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Fish sticks, carrots, herbed noodles
Pancakes and waffles with applesauce ≈≈ Curried rice pilaf
Cereal ≈≈ Tomato soup with toasted croutons, Asian chicken salad, birthday cake and ice cream

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Menus and the Kitchen Sink

'Kitchen sink' salad

I got all excited about our green salad last night -- I was just quickly dressing up leftover ingredients that I needed to clear out of my fridge, but it was one of the yummiest combinations we've had. I won't specify which items were the nearly-castoffs, because that would make you second-guess its deliciousness; but fried green tomatoes, chicken, green beans, eggs, carrots, olives, palm hearts, fresh corn, deli turkey breast, and homemade croutons work crazy well with Asian dressing, as it turns out.

Homemade Snickers (delicious) fail

And, I spent a couple of days recently working on the different layers of what were supposed to be 'snickers' bars, but without a reliable candy thermometer (I'm on my third different kind, and its calibration didn't last any longer than the others') it was, well, a little hit or miss. The caramel was too soft and the nougat too hard, yet oddly enough when I put inch-square chunks of them on a rack to drizzle chocolate over, they completely oozed through the rack before the chocolate was dry, nougat and all. So we rolled them into weird balls, and they taste incredible anyway. We're trying to make them last, but it's been difficult -- though seeing the vast quantities of cream, sugar, butter, nuts, and corn syrup that went into them helps a little bit.

So, here are the week's menu plans:

Leftovers ≈≈ 'Kitchen sink' salad
Pancake-in-the-oven, fresh blueberries ≈≈ Baked potato bar
Strawberry oatmeal ≈≈ Lasagna
Corn muffins, eggs ≈≈ Tuna sandwiches with pineapple bits
Raisin-date-walnut oatmeal ≈≈ Baked beans, hot dogs, chips and salsa, guacamole, Waldorf salad, root beer, ice cream
Cereal ≈≈ Stir fry
Fast Sunday ≈≈ Cuban black beans

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recipes Added

Meat dishes (I know, shocker!) are now included in my Little Red Hen's cookbook sidebar.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We All Have Those Days

This week has been a little different. My two oldest are away at camps, which leaves us with a new dynamic here at home, and apparently also less motivation for cooking. The other factor in my lax planning is simply that I'm very tired, between driving one of said kids to camp AAALLLLLL day Monday and then spending most of yesterday in pursuit of a DMV building that had changed locations.

So, we're especially grateful that S. made us a cake to start off our week, since that's about the only decent food we've had in the past few days.

Anyway, here it is: the week's breakfast and dinner menus.

Norwegian cake ≈≈ Grilled cheese sandwiches, canned corn
Random leftovers ≈≈ Scalloped potatoes (Underdone/crunchy with slightly moldy-tasting cheese. Yum.)
Muesli ≈≈ Tuna noodle, broccoli
Rice with cinnamon and sugar, scrambled eggs, smoothie ≈≈ Asian chicken salad
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Stir fry
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Quiche
Cereal ≈≈ Chili, cornbread

We all have those days. (Gif link)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hubbie's Project

He wanted something special today, so last night of his own initiative he looked up a recipe for 'World's Best Cake' and got going on it. 
He chose a very European, barely-sweet, but gorgeous cake where the raw batter along with a meringue topping go into the oven together.

All that remained this morning was to whip the cream and layer it in.

He was half dressed for work, but we recalled that one of our daughters wouldn't be here tonight to eat it with us, so of course it had to be our breakfast instead.
(I think he's really having fun, don't you?)

If only all Monday mornings started this time, with berries!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Menus and a Recipe

Quesadillas, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Basmati rice pilaf
Oatmeal, yogurt ≈≈ Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ White bean soup, beets, biscuits
Cracked wheat, smoothie ≈≈ Pasta salad
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Polenta pizza, mixed veggies
Oatmeal chocolate chip muffins ≈≈ Fish sticks, salad, popcorn
Cereal, fried eggs ≈≈ Baked sweet potatoes, baked beans


2 1/4 c. basmati rice
1 T. oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. frozen peas
diced green chilies, optional
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 can coconut milk
(or coconut cream, if you dare, it's amazingly rich and delicious)
1 c. water

Wash the rice well and leave it to soak in water for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a pan and begin to sauté the onion for about 2-3 minutes; then add the garlic, tomato, mushrooms, and chilies (if using) and cook another 2-3 minutes. Drain the rice and add it to the pan, along with the peas, spices, and salt. Stir gently to combine.  Add the coconut milk and water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook 15 minutes, remove from heat, and let stand (covered) for 5 more minutes before serving.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day in the Outdoors

A duplicate of the post I wrote for our family blog

We are very much a family of explorers; too often, though, mental exploring wins out (fantasy books, graphic novels, and piles of scrap-paper sketches sprawl everywhere) and S. tries but fails to get us all out for a Sunday walk. So for Father's Day, we made sure to visit one of our favorite parks, without any cajoling necessary.

It never fails once we all set aside our other activities and actually get outside that we're thrilled to kick off our shoes under the open sky. We've raised a family of little nature observers, and this trip we were particularly enjoying a whole colony of crawdads camouflaged in the bottom of the pond.

We also enjoyed the sight of a dog happily paddling around in the deepest pool. There actually was a trio of pooches there, and they seemed very friendly (though also very wet and dirty from their swim). On our return walk towards our car they were lounging on the grass and wanted to be petted, so we tried to ask the couple on the picnic blanket that had been nearby the whole time if our kids could say hello to their dogs.

They didn't really answer, though after we persisted (our girls were already petting away, but it was the principle of the thing), they made some noncommittal response. But just a minute or so later, they packed up their stuff and started walking out of the park -- no backward glance at the dogs, who didn't follow them. In fact, we finally realized, they were NOT the dogs' owners, which explained a bunch in terms of our interaction... 

After a happy interlude getting slapped by very big, wet tails, we reluctantly went our way home as well, wondering about the dogs. There was hardly anyone at the park that day, certainly no one near the animals, and we worried a little. But they were clearly well-socialized and well-fed dogs, so we knew they couldn't be strays, and tried to have faith that the little mystery would resolve itself in the end.

Thank goodness, we didn't have to worry long; as we were in the parking lot, another nice couple pulled up and asked if we had seen some dogs. There is only one private house right near the park, and they belonged there (that had, in fact, been one of our hopeful theories); I guess they snuck out for an afternoon swim.

Certainly, an enjoyable Father's Day for all!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Leftover muffins and pancakes ≈≈ Dhal Mahkani, rhubarb pie
Apple-date oatmeal ≈≈ Salmon burgers, spinach
Cracked wheat, fried eggs ≈≈ Stir-fry
Muesli ≈≈ Chilaquiles
Rice with cinnamon and sugar, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Home fries, salad
Cereal ≈≈ Spaghetti, mixed veggies
Father's Day Special (kids decorate a bagel as a face) ≈≈ Baby back ribs, spinach-artichoke dip with veggies, sour cream raisin pie

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Craft Binge

Don't look for me on Etsy anytime soon -- or ever -- but I've had some pent-up crafting desires that have finally burst out recently.

I picked up découpage and appliqué for the first time, mostly because we've been trying to use materials at hand for teacher and birthday gifts, and those have turned out to be a welcome balance of low effort vs. high fun. They've even turned out looking decent as well, which is always a bonus!

But, though by my count I've now sewed close to thirty items of clothing in my adult life, I still make constant mistakes in that hobby. Last week I bought a pattern and fabric and started sewing an adorable pair of shorts for Sage, when partway through I realized I had put the little zipper up the inner leg instead of at the waist. Yes, indeed, a daring new style statement! It was fixable, luckily.

Unluckily, since Sage is hard to size right now and pattern measurements are never intuitive for me, the finished shorts were way too small. No one in our household is ever going to be able to wear them...

Why I'm spending all this crazy time on learning new ways of tinkering with cloth and paper when I still have a rather full-time hobby of cooking from scratch and gardening, not to mention kids and housework, exercise, reading wish lists a mile long, various musical instruments, serving/volunteering, shopping/provisioning and, oh yeah, writing…!, is really beyond me.

But hey, check out Monday's goat cheese soufflé...not just a food, but an event!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Menus

Yesterday, hubby made these cornbread-cheese waffles with sriracha-maple syrup...

Choose-your-own oatmeal (i.e., plain) ≈≈ Goat cheese soufflé, salad
Hash browns, canned fruit, fried eggs ≈≈ chili, cornbread
Rice pudding ≈≈ Baked potato bar
Apple-raisin-walnut oatmeal ≈≈ Three-cheese noodle bake, spinach
French toast, applesauce, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Pizza, mixed veggies
Strawberry muffins ≈≈ Niçoise salad

Cereal ≈≈ Roast chicken, vegetables au gratin, cream biscuits
...He also did an amazing job with this raspberry-white chocolate cheesecake on my birthday.
He's on quite a roll!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Flourishing: Vitamin G

November gets all the gratitude posts -- but half a year away, we have a TON to be grateful for, and since last Sunday we had a lesson that got me thinking about the subject again, I thought I'd post:

Health and dental insurance
Cars that run reliably
Clean water that comes out of a tap, in all temperatures
Nice hand-me-down clothes
Kids who were born alive and healthy, and have stayed that way
Wonderful neighbors
Working appliances, including a dishwasher and our own washer/dryer
Public libraries

Public transportation
Chairs to sit on and beds to sleep in
Internet access
Safe area to live in
Winter being over ;)
Dedicated and kind school teachers
Being able to vote

Our cat, Holly

Thoughtful and funny friends
The earth -- mountains, rivers, meadows, oceans, clouds, the whole shebang
Moments of prayer and inspiration

The incredible affection in our home
and last but most, Mr. Wonderful (my husband) and the love and history we share

Isn't that an amazingly long, fulfilling list? Obviously it could go on further, but I am full of awe at how many of those things are vital to my flourishing that I just don't think about very often. I'm also aware of how many are out of reach even to people I know in my own community. Gratitude does that, it brings compassion and generosity, both of which I certainly always need more of.

Get some Vitamin G today!


Getting lazy, I guess...I've been a little low on motivation lately, which is probably good overall for the family's stress level since my 'high-motivation' state also means easily-frustrated.

But, we are eating this week. Here's what:

Leftover pancakes, applesauce, syrup ≈≈ Homemade mac n' cheese, salad
Choose-your-own muesli ≈≈ Hamburger stroganoff, green beans
Cream of wheat, fresh pineapple ≈≈ Pan-fried flounder, hush puppies, salad
Scones ≈≈ Caldo verde (Portuguese soup with potato, sausage, kale, and beans)
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Pizza, mixed vegetables
Cereal ≈≈ Out to eat (kids get ramen)
Fast Sunday ≈≈ French toast, bacon, applesauce, syrup

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Eggs Kristin*, garden salad
Apple-blueberry oatmeal with almonds and cream ≈≈ scalloped potatoes, spinach
Rice with cinnamon and sugar, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Minestrone
Cream of wheat, smoothie ≈≈ Goulash**, celery and cucumber sticks with dip
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Fish sticks, noodles, cooked carrots
Cranberry muffins ≈≈ Winter salad, other potluck items
Cereal ≈≈ Pancakes, applesauce, eggs

*Sunny-side up eggs over toast with a light curry-mustard béchamel sauce
**We call it goulash, but it's got lots of rice, lentils, and peas in with the hamburger and tomato rather than the usual pasta.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Pancakes, applesauce, syrup ≈≈ Navajo tacos, leftover trifle
Raisin-date-pecan oatmeal ≈≈ Thai cucumber salad, chicken with peanut sauce
Strawberry muesli ≈≈ Probiotic ramen super-galore
Cornmeal mush with syrup, smoothie ≈≈ Stir-fry
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Tuna-potato salad
Eggs, toast ≈≈ Spaghetti, frozen mixed vegetables
Cereal ≈≈ Split pea soup, salad, biscuits

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

Why is it important for Mormon women to tell their stories of faith? 
Why are our lives of import, when sometimes they just feel worn out? 

Out of all women, I think we hold our hearts most carefully in trust for our children, ourselves, and our God. We try to manage this precarious place where we believe in revelation and remain open to it, but act with determination and commitment; we give our all to others, and yet discover that on the other side, we receive an hundredfold; we find that God is pleased with both our passionate pursuit of knowledge and personal experience and also with our humble, invisible service. 

“For there is a direct relationship between how we feel about Jesus Christ and how we see ourselves. We cannot increase our devotion to the Savior without also obtaining a greater sense of purpose, identity, and conviction." (Sheri Dew) 

Then, of course, there's food...always spiritual and important, right? Especially when made with such obvious love and care by my husband.
Berry trifle
Divinely delicious huevos rancheros

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Recipes

I spent a bunch more time trying to copy over recipes to my Little Red Hen page on the sidebar. Now it includes Breads, Breakfasts, and Festive Indulgences, for now with recipes in alphabetical order. Coming next, a section of meat dishes; someday waaay in the future, maybe some photos! Enjoy.


Rice with cinnamon and sugar, scrambled eggs, fresh pears ≈≈ Vegetarian nachos
Blueberry-pecan oatmeal ≈≈ Flounder baked in cream, noodles, sunshine carrots
Cornbread, smoothie ≈≈ Curried potatoes, garden salad
Cream of Wheat ≈≈ Sushi, Black Forest cake, cookies n' cream ice cream (Ian's birthday requests)
Leftover cake ≈≈ Pizza, frozen mixed vegetables
Cereal ≈≈ Dhal Makhani
Mother's Day, so who knows exactly? There's bound to be a marvelous scrambled egg creation with lots of cheese and bacon bits á la Lucy, but beyond that I don't know.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Flourishing: Womanhood (Part II)

”Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that you are willing to take upon you the name of Christ...If you shall press forward, feasting on the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: ye shall have eternal life.”

I love those expressive phrases, ‘full purpose of heart’ and ‘real intent’. I also appreciate that my husband often calls me a ‘woman of substance’. There certainly is the outer me -- the face that smiles, the hands that work and hug, the body I feed, wash, and clothe in fairly thoughtful ways -- but what’s inside is much more thriving and enduring. My heart is nearly always full of purpose; and if I don’t have ‘real intent’, I find it extremely hard to participate in something ‘just because’. I’m not very good at acting like something is important or worthwhile if I don’t feel like it is. What that translates into is a woman who is constantly digging into life to find what will root her and her family long-term, but who’s way too serious and tends to rub people the wrong way.

It’s in my nature to avoid trends and convenience, because I often feel that they’re flimsy somehow. I also worry that I’ll set aside that ‘real intent’ without realizing it, and I wonder how frequently we mask a lack of substance with bling or with smoothly-crafted borrowed opinions. Not that I think everyone else is just faking it, but I personally feel like I have to constantly, consciously resist the slow, insidious creep of easy habits and assumptions.

So, I’m not easy to be around at times, and it really pains my heart to know that. I’ve often lamented that I wish I either were, 1) socially impaired enough not to notice the gap, or, 2) able to smooth over and pretend a little more so that I wouldn’t be so irritating or off-putting. I seem to be at the distressing junction of knowing that my habits and opinions may bother people, but feeling a deep commitment to expressing them anyway. (Believe it or not, at least I have mellowed with age. I used to be far, far worse in this respect.)

Yet, when I hear my husband tell me he loves who I am, and that I’m someone of substance, I hear also that he knows I’ve dedicated much of my potential in hidden ways to those who need it most. I hear that he has respect for my unusual thought processes and conclusions; that while he does see more clearly why people disagree or get uncomfortable, he knows the big ways he and our children have benefitted from the way I buck the trends. I know he relies on my true self, that self that is devoted and loyal; he has seen the gentle answers I’ve learned to give to those who are truly difficult, and the refining process that that has been for me. He understands my deep desire to please others in the truest, most eternal sense I can, and my sorrow and tears that my offering isn’t always accepted. In many ways, my husband has been an example of godlike qualities that I can understand and relate to; I feel so lucky to have learned from his love what my Father in Heaven’s love for me must be like.

And so, this is part of who I am: I believe that I existed before I was born, that I was willing to face difficulty and sacrifice in order to gain an eternal identity that I would never need to be ashamed of.

Also, I used to enjoy listening to a lot of Cat Stevens in college, and his song “Hard-Headed Woman” is an oddly apt companion to this essay.

I'm looking for a hard-headed woman,
One who will take me for myself,
And if I find my hard-headed woman,
I will need nobody else, no, no.

I'm looking for a hard-headed woman,
One who will make me do my best,
And if I find my hard-headed woman
I know the rest of my life will be blessed -- yes, yes, yes.

I know a lot of fancy dancers,
people who can glide you on a floor,
They move so smooth but have no answers.
When you ask "Why'd you come here for?"
"I don't know" "Why?"

I know many fine feathered friends
but their friendliness depends on how you do.
They know many sure-fired ways
to find out the one who pays
and how you do.

I'm looking for a hard-headed woman,
One who will make me feel so good,
And if I find my hard headed woman,
I know my life will be as it should -- yes, yes, yes.

I'm looking for a hard-headed woman,
One who will make me do my best,
And if I find my hard headed woman...