Monday, June 29, 2009

Sweet, Sweet Summertime

"Just living is not enough" said the butterfly,
"one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
- Hans Christian Andersen

We took a long weekend and did some camping at Watkins Glen. I haven't been there in about 15 years, and had forgotten how incredible it is.

We managed to avoid threatening rain and ended up with a mostly sunny, beautifully breezy weekend. We spent the hours on the playground (where Colin fell and left a pretty nasty gash between his eyes), cooking on the fire (where Evans glasses fell off - into the fire - and melted!) and of course walking the Glen (where I think all of us at one point slipped on the slick, damp limestone). It really was a wonderful, relaxing weekend.

Evan declared at one point on our hike that he "has a whole new appreciation for nature". That kid. :/

We came home to the garden beginning to bloom!

As for the vegetables - the lettuce is growing wonderfully! Everything else is coming along, slow but steady.

And a random summertime sweetness

PS - those pictures of the Glen look so much better if you click them for the large view :D

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend Review

We spent the weekend:


In the woods at Grandma and Grandpa's


Cooking daddy breakfast

Evan cooking corn on fathers day

mmmm Grilled Ribs!

Growing, picking, eating

Lettuce, started from seed, fresh from the garden - ready for eating!

Fathers Day Potluck


Sister, Holly

After breaking two ladder ball sets last year -
Kev built his own.
It's holding up well so far!!

The last soccer game till fall.
Rainy and cold!


Happy Fathers Day!!

How did you spend your weekend?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adventures in Canning

So, I've been interested in home preserving for a while. I've also been pretty intimidated by it for a while.

I got a canner for Christmas. Did lots of reading (which makes me all overwhelmed every time I read more on it!!)

We went strawberry picking over the weekend, so I figured this was a perfect time to give it a go!


So, I've read that you shouldn't use any recipes older than 1990. Because, especially in jams - they don't require canning, just the open kettle method. And that can kill you, or something. But I have a book, from later than 1990 that calls for open kettle. And a friend, who only does open kettle for jams. So I thought it can't be all bad, right?

I think that's right. But I'm a big worrier, so even though I did the open kettle (they all sealed too!) for the last two batches - I'm going to use a hot water bath from this point out. Just to be sure and all. I've already done the toxic fumes thing in the house, I'm going to try and avoid botulism.

I did some rhubarb jam a couple weeks ago, and strawberry jam on Sunday. I was a little shocked at how much sugar some recipes called for! 7 cups? Really? Blech.

I happen to have a book, it's pre-1990, but I'm trusting it cause it calls for all pressure canning or HWB (which I didn't follow) called Stocking Up. It's from the 70's and pretty much only calls for honey in the canning recipes. Sweet!

The Recipe

Honey Strawberry Jam

4 cups strawberries, mashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package powdered fruit pectin

1 1/2 cups honey

1. Mix the strawberries, lemon juice and pectin in a heavy-bottomed, stainless-steel pot.

2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the honey.

3. Return to a rolling boil and stir slowly for 10 to 12 minutes. The mixture will resemble a thick syrup when done 4. Quickly and carefully ladle jam into hot sterilized pint jars, filling to 1/4 inch from tops. Wipe rims of jars; top with lids. Screw on bands. Place jars on rack in canning kettle of hot water, adding water if necessary to bring water level to 1 inch above tops of jars. Bring water to a rolling boil; boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars carefully and cool.

From Stocking Up, 3rd Edition

ok - so SWEET is right! Yikes!

It's not bad, just very honey-ey. Honestly, I think I'll stick with sugar from now on. The honey way overpowered the fruit flavor. Maybe it was the honey. I used local from the market. Maybe I should have used something - less? Store clover honey? Dunno.

But . . .

turns out it still works wonderfully as a pancake/waffle syrup!

Heat, drizzle on homemade sour cream waffles - add fresh picked sliced strawberries and some whipped cream


Sour Cream Waffles

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter melted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
Maple syrup or jam, for serving

Heat a waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions. Lightly oil the grids. Meanwhile whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to combine and make a well in the center. Whisk the melted butter, milk, sour cream, and eggs in a medium bowl until well combined and pour into the well. Whisk just until smooth; do not over mix.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of each quadrant of the waffle iron and close the iron. Cook until the waffle is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the waffles hot, with the syrup passed on the side.

Makes twelve 4-inch waffles.

From Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family by Art Smith

So, now I've got my freezer stocked with strawberries - gave canning a go (and feel more prepared for next time!)

More adventures in home preserving to come!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Gratitude

Today I am grateful for:

Homemade popsicles and ice cream

Dough rising on the counter

Plants growing

Flexible Schedules


Summer Ale


Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I started smoking when I was about 15 or so. I don't even really know why I started. It wasn't peer pressure. None of my friends cared if I smoked or didn't. My mother did smoke, which made cigarettes accessible. I don't know. I guess it doesn't really matter, the when or why. Only that I did somehow start.

And I knew that they weren't good for me. I knew more than that - I knew they were bad for me. I couldn't plead ignorance. My generation was very well informed of all smoking risks.

I've quit here and there. During each of my pregnancies. A week here, several months there. Currently I'm running on 7 months. That's how far I made it last time before I started again. This time, we thought we would cheat those cravings - those temptations, and smoke cigars or cloves socially. But we've been finding ourselves more and more dependent on those. I've heard they're worse too. They probably are. It's not so much the physical addiction, it's the damn habit.

Sometimes I still miss it. The smell, the inhale, the feel of the cigarette in my fingers. It's seductive, that's for sure.

But mostly, I don't. I've been running again - for the first time since about the time I started smoking to begin with. It's not easy (post on that to come later) but it feels good. I don't miss smelling like smoke (I like the smell of smoking, but not the stale smell on people and things).

And more than that, I'm scared. K's grandmother died about 2 years ago from pneumonia and emphysema. She quit 30 years prior to that. 30 years. And it still killed her.

In NY we have anti-smoking commercials - and for me they are actually effective (or at least they make me think), one in particular stands out. Home videos of a woman in her early 30's. Her two very young children. She has lung cancer. Is hooked up to machines. She died. Of lung cancer. I don't think she was even 35. That scares me, it does.

I have young kids. I want more. I don't want to die from something I could have prevented. Something that I brought upon myself. Something that I chose.

Even more recently, my choice to quit has been reaffirmed. With the nice weather and barbecues and friends smoking (and lets not forget the weight gain!), my resolve has been wavering.

But on June 4th, a woman I know online, passed away from lung cancer. She was 39 and left behind two children. A daughter in her early 20's and a 12 year old daughter.

It's amazing how you get to know people online. Know their lives. How someone you only know through the Internet can make such an impact in your life.

I was not very close to Deborah Scott. We were in several forums together. But I wasn't nearly as close to her as a couple of people in the same forums were.

Her story still touched me though, and affected my life. When I quit the last time, this past November - her story did help me through. This was a woman that I talked with, saw glimpses of her life. Heard about her treatments, when the cancer spread. And she was so young. It's not just something I would have to worry about when I was 50, or 60, or 70. She was only in her mid-30's and dealing with it. I'm not that far from 30. This could be me.

She was almost always upbeat, at least in her posts. I remember before I quit, her telling me about her story on (read it here). I had forgotten about the site until today, when someone in one of the forums mentioned it. So I read it again, and I read all the stuff I had missed. It's touching, and it's scary, and it's real. If you read it, and read to the end - you'll see that she left behind a lot of medical bills and lost her life insurance. I find that horrible too - that she was fighting for medical insurance, losing her life insurance - instead of being able to focus on just getting treated.

One thing I always noticed about her - was how hard she fought. I’ve always wondered, if I ever got cancer, would I fight so hard? Would I do all those treatments and the ins and outs of hospitals? Or would I just let it take it’s course (if I knew it would eventually be terminal)? I don’t know.

But Deb fought every step of the way. She really wanted to live.

I don't know if I ever told her, that her story did make a difference. To me, at least.

Goodbye Deb.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Syracuse First!

I came across information on this at the Cookin' in the Cuse

Syracuse First--Think Local. Buy Local. Be Local.

You can read more about it at Cookin' in the Cuse, or at the Syracuse first link, but here's a little snippet:

Our primary objective is to encourage Syracuse area residents to “Think Local” when they are considering where to make purchases, to “Buy Local” whenever possible and to “Be Local” by supporting businesses that make the Syracuse area unique.

I'm pretty excited about this and wanted to share. I don't know if I'll be able to make this meeting, but it's something I look forward to following in the future.

Over the last couple of years, local eating has become something really important to me, and something I really put a fair amount of effort into doing. My attempt, or at least attempt at recording, the sustainable food challenge was a flop. I haven't been very organized lately - but that doesn't mean I'm not constantly involved in and working on continuing this challenge in and for my own life. I have been actively working on eating a local, sustainable diet on a budget for quite some time now.

I have a very small food budget, but I still believe that my food dollars are powerful. Everyone's food dollars are powerful, whether you spend 200 a month or a thousand a month. What we buy, where we shop - it says a lot about us and who we are. What we support. What we believe in.

And I believe that I can make a difference. I believe that my small contribution each month to family farms does help. That every little bit becomes more powerful down the line.

And the best part is, I'm getting so much in return. I'm learning and getting to know who grows and raises my food. That alone is worth the investment. But I also get fresh, nutritious, from the earth foods to feed my family. I get to help our local economy. I get to cut out the middle man. I get to learn and explore and understand more about where I live, what I eat and how the two are so connected.

My turn towards local foods and real foods has been an evolution over the last several years. I suspect it will continue to evolve and I will become more and more intertwined in the whole of it - the cycle, the community, the earth.

I've been loving every step of the way so far.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Craft Disaster.

So, every month Evan has to do a book project. This month, for his presentation he was doing a book in a bag. He made two clay items, a boat and a cave thing. He spent a lot of time on them and they looked awesome.

I got the brilliant idea to bake them, since I used to bake my sculpey clay things.

Set the oven to 225 - put them in. Check on them a couple minutes later. Melted. Puddles. F*ck.

Feel like an a-hole for melting his project.

Try to clean off baking sheet in sink. No good.

SUPER BRILLIANT idea to put baking sheet back in oven at 350 to burn off remainder.

Forgot clay created toxic fumes at higher temperatures. Entire kitchen fills with smoke. Pull baking sheet out.

Open all the windows. Get the kids out of the house and go for a walk. Come back. Turn into paranoid freak over toxic fumes.

Notice that clay is now ALL OVER the bottom of the oven.

:insert obscenities:

Now, not only did I just win loser mom of the year award for MELTING my sons project he worked really really hard on, two days before it was due - expose my children to toxic fumes - but now I have to try and get clay out of my oven, without creating more of those pesky fumes.

I have it soaking with vinegar and baking soda.



It seems like it's been so busy here lately, and there's so much to say - but then I try and it seems there's nothing at all.


Just some recent randoms.

K's Birthday celebration at Megs

Pig in a Pen

Soccer - more posing than playing, eh?

Bottling K's 3rd batch of homebrew. Pale Ale.