Sunday, June 27, 2010

quote for the week

        "Even when the war is over, we must never again be as wasteful as we have been, as the devastated countries will still be underfed. . .
 The abundance of our county is a great responsibility at the moment. No one with common sense and respect for the great art and science of 'cooperating with the earth' to make it yield it's crops in abundance, likes to see food wasted even in times of plenty. Now in a time of world hunger it becomes a crime."
                                                               ~Anne Pierce, Home Canning for Victory, 1942

We went strawberry picking this morning. For 23 dollars (and hours of slicing strawberries!) I ended up with:

4 - 8oz jars of low sugar strawberry jam
6- 8oz jars of low sugar strawberry, black raspberry, blueberry jam
1 quart jar and 1 pint jar of strawberry cordial
1 cup strawberry syrup
2 large baking sheets full of strawberries in the freezer
2 quarts of strawberries in the fridge for fresh snacking

I am exhausted. And it's hot today. I tried canning on the grill - no luck, took forever. So, we had ice cream for dinner. And my kids watched way too much t.v. And now the sink is full of my strawberry stuff. But, it's a pretty great feeling to have those jars cooling on the counter.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seasonal Eating: Black Raspberries

I've found these growing all around the edge of our woods, and into the woods. I'm in love.

 I know, I know, I posted this picture yesterday too . . .

I've gotten about a pint each of the last two days, and I've found more tucked into the woods that I need to make a path to. I have no idea how long they produce, or how much they produce - I'd love to get enough for jam.

I had no idea what to do with what I had so far though.

First, I looked at this recipe: black raspberry muffins

Then, I found this recipe: raspberry hazelnut meringue

And while they both look absolutely delicious - they just weren't calling to me. So I checked a bunch of my cookbooks, which were very surprisingly sparse in the raspberry section - including my Cooking with Berries book. I was thinking about doing a raspberry vinegar, but many of the recipes called for more berries than I had - and I still wasn't sure if I wanted to use my precious berries that way either.

I finally settled on a raspberry shrub that I found in Pantry Gourmet. I kept coming back to that recipe, so I knew it must be The One.

A shrub, as a I found out, is an old style vinegar based drink. Yes, vinegar! Seems part of the reason for the vinegar was to prevent the drink from spoiling in warmer weather.

Most times, a shrub is made with quite a bit of sugar. Luckily the recipe I found calls for honey, which ok - is still like sugar - but seems a wee bit better, especially since I'm trying to cut out white/refined sugars and foods.

"Raspberry Shrub mixed with water is a pure, delicious drink for summer; and in a country where raspberries are abundant, it is good economy to make it answer instead of Port and Catalonia wine." 
~   The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child, 1832

Raspberry Shrub
from The Pantry Gourmet by Jane Doerfer

" Use the raspberry liquid as a base for an old-fashioned raspberry cream soda. Add equal parts raspberry syrup and cream to a glass, fill it with seltzer water and stir. Taste the shrub and adjust amounts, or add 2 Tbs syrup to a glass of  seltzer."

1 quart raspberries (I, of course, used the black raspberries and had slightly under a quart)
2 cups water
1 cup honey (I used 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup white vinegar

Place the raspberries and 1 cup water in an enameled or stainless pan. Crush berries. Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat, and gently boil 5-10 minutes until berries release juices. Cool slightly.

Place berries in colander and let juices drip through, strain through a sieve or coffee filters (I just put them into a cheesecloth lined colander to begin with)  to remove any seeds and pulp.

Boil honey and remaining water for 10-15 minutes until light syrup is formed.

Stir raspberry juice and honey syrup together and boil for 1 or 2 minutes. Add vinegar and boil for 1 minute. Pour into hot, sterilized jar and seal.

Shrub will keep for several weeks in the fridge or for about 9 months in the freezer.

Recipe says it yields 3 1/4 cups - I got two jelly jars out of it 

I haven't made a drink out of it yet, as I need more seltzer. I did taste the syrup and it wasn't overly tart. I also planned on using it as a mixer for vodka, but this version looks interesting too - and I think I may try that shrub recipe next time: cocktailiana- raspberry-shrub.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Days . . .

Are anything but lazy!




Colin finished up his first season of baseball, and we rolled right into lacrosse.
Turns out they both have games on Tuesday nights at 7 - in different locations. That should be interesting. Evan had opening day last Saturday and of course I forgot my camera. I remembered for his game this week, but they canceled it due to lightening. 

Both boys are number 15 for lacrosse, which is pretty neat - but what's even cooler is that was The Husbands jersey number for years and years when he played soccer. Well, I think it's cool anyway.

It's getting to be so they always have a lacrosse stick in their hands. Which is not a bad thing - especially since where we live is so big on lacrosse.

And Evan 'graduated' from 6th grade. Oh, boy. More to come on that later. Seems every time I blink another year has gone by.


When we moved in, I knew there were some wild black raspberry bushes out back, turns out they pretty much border our woods most of the way around (and in). I wish I had enough to make jam, I'm wondering if I can transplant some of the bushes to other areas to encourage more growth - I've heard they spread pretty easily, and we have plenty of space for them to spread to, especially if it means wild, free fruit. Recipes to follow in a few days.


The garden is coming along nicely - I'm surprised everything hasn't died yet! Those flowers in the hanging basket did. I can never get those darn things to stay alive. Turns out I do pretty well with in ground stuff though, for my first real year in ground gardening - everything is still alive! I need more tomato supports and I kinda just hooked together some branches for the peas - I need to get more supports for those too . . .

 I recently learned there's an indoor skate park not far from us - might be good for rainy days. We've got plenty of land - but no good space to skate, not like when we were in the neighborhood. 

So that's a bit of what we've been up to. I'm loving my summer work schedule - it's nice to be home at dinner every night, but man it wipes me out. I usually need a 20 minute nap when I get home. Before, I got home at 9:30pm and I relaxed for just a bit before going to bed. Now, getting home at 4 it's like I still have a full day ahead of me - running around for sports, cooking dinner, cleaning etc . . . it's exhausting. I need to win the lottery so I can stay home. I guess I'd need to play the lottery for that to happen though. 
I can't believe it's the end of June already - it feels like summer's half over - though it's only just begun. I need to be very careful to not get sucked into the busy-ness of everything and to make sure I'm spending as much time as possible napping in the yard, drinking homemade rhuabarb soda (with vodka for the grown-ups!), having picnics, reading books, and maybe even braving a swimming suit this year and getting in the water!

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade."
-  Gertrude Jekyll

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fathers Day Desserts

For fathers day yesterday I experimented with variations on two common desserts.

The first is one of  my husbands (and kids!) favorites. Simple, easy, chocolate pudding pie with whipped cream and graham cracker crust.

For years I've used pre-made crust, pudding and whipped cream - yesterday I did it all from scratch. The pudding was a little firmer than I would have liked, not quite as creamy. I think I'll mess around with it and try to adjust it to a creamier texture.

Chocolate Pudding Pie

Graham Cracker Crust

1.5 cup crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar (I used sucant)

Mix all ingredients, spread into greased pie pan and up sides. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes.

Whipped Cream

I've heard that it helps to chill the bowl and beaters in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before whipping the cream. You're supposed to whip until the cream forms soft peaks - but I can never tell. I think I stopped just a little too soon in fear of over beating.

1 cup cream
3 tbs sugar
dash of vanilla (optional)

Whip 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form.

Chocolate Pudding

recipe found at recipezaar

6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch (slightly heaping)
2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

Combine all dry ingredients until all lumps are gone and blended well

Add milk and place on burner turned to high -- stir constantly until desired thickness. I stopped when it was slightly thinner than what I wanted, but once in the fridge it was more mousse-y than puddingy. I'm not sure if the better way is to stop sooner, use part cream or less cornstarch. I'll mess around with it and see what happens.

Remove from heat and add vanilla

Then of course, the pudding pie is basic - pour prepared pudding into cooled crust - cool - top with whipped cream and ganache style chocolate (recipe below)

I also made a lower carb dessert - a cheesecake tart. I had an idea of what I wanted, especially having all that homemade cream cheese on hand- then just needed a recipe to guide me. So this one is inspired from the Good Housekeeping Almond Cheesecake Tart

 My version:

Almond Cheesecake Tart. 

1 cup almond flour (or crushed blanched almonds)
1 graham cracker
3 tbs butter, melted
1 tbs xylitol

12 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup xylitol
2 large eggs (I might do 3 next time)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup sour cream (I think I'd add more next time)

Put crust mix into pie pan (I used a cake pan). You should probably press up the sides to form a secure crust, but I just pressed it into the bottom. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.

Combine cream cheese and sugar and mix well. Add rest of filling ingredients and mix until smooth.

Lower oven temp to 350.

Pour filling into prepared crust and bake for 20 minutes (I cooked mine for 25). Cool on rack.

Cover with whipped cream (recipe above) drizzle with chocolate ganache

Ganache style chocolate

4 oz chocolate, I used an 85% cocoa bar
2 tbs butter
4 tbs heavy cream

heat all ingredients in saucepan on high until it comes to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool slightly and drizzle over pudding pie and cheesecake tart.

I also tried out a few more summer time recipes that I'll be sharing this week - Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

quote for the week.

The guys who fear becoming fathers don't understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man.  The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.  
                              ~Frank Pittman, Man Enough

Friday, June 18, 2010

Adventures in Cheesemaking: Cream Cheese

I've been eating (and therefore buying) a lot of cream cheese lately. A super duper lot.

A few weeks ago I ordered the mesophilic  starter from New England Cheesemaking Supply so I could try my hand at cream cheese.

The recipe appears fool proof. Riki the cheesemaking queen says so. Over at Chickens in the Road it's declared "so easy a child could make it".

I figured it would be a breeze, and it no time I'd be whipping up my own cream cheese on a weekly basis. So I went and got myself some nice local, organic half and half and prepared to make some of what would no doubt be the most heavenly tasting cream cheese ever.

I was puttering around the kitchen, making some mozzarella and once that was finished began work on the cream cheese. It was 9 pm (oops) the cheese is supposed to set for 12 hours, which is fine, but I have to be to work at 7. Ok, so I'd just run home on lunch ( giving it 15 hours to set) and I'd hang it then. Only I got home and what was supposed to be a thick yogurt like curd was still pretty much just cream (with a layer of curd on top). Of course, being in a rush I didn't notice this until I had poured it into the colander lined with cheesecloth. Shoot. Hoping I didn't destroy it, I poured it back into the original bowl, gave it a stir, covered it and went back to work.

I spent some time popping around the internet, looking for someone who had similar troubles. Nope. All I could find was more talk about how easy it was to make. Hmph. About 6pm that night (so 21 hours later!) I decided to just go with what I had and hang it. It was definitely thicker, but I still think it may not have been quite right. Also, my house was at a pretty consistent 72 degrees for most of this time, so I don't think the temperature affected the setting.

I hung the cheese for about 15 hours and when it came out of the cheesecloth it had a frosting type texture.

A few hours in the fridge left it a pretty standard cream cheese texture, maybe slightly thicker.

I did all this last Thursday into Friday. I still haven't eaten it. It's good for two weeks, and I'm thinking I'll just make something with it. The taste (I did try it) is ok. But not heavenly. I'm not sure how to describe it. Kind of like a slightly tangy butter? I'm going to give it another shot, but I'm going to use the cheap store brand (not ultra-pasteurized though, thank you Wegmans!) half and half instead of the pricey local organic (delicious!) half and half. I'll report back on how well it goes next time.

Maybe I'll have my kids make it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

strawberry rhubarb crisp with rhubarb ice cream.

mmmm rhubarb.

This weekend I made the strawberry rhubarb crisp I mentioned the other day. So far I've tried it and Evan has tried it. Colin won't and Kevin kind of pretends it doesn't exist.

Evan likes it. It's ok. Nothing to write home about, but a quick, easy, tasty way to use some rhubarb.

Molly Katzan's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

2 pounds fresh rhubarb cut into 1" chunks
3-4 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 - 1/2 cup white sugar  ( I used a mix of xylitol and sucant to equal 1/3 cup)
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour  (I used 1 cup of almond flour)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine the rhubarb and strawberries in a 9" square pan. Sprinkle with white sugar. Mix together remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Distribute over the top of the fruit and pat firmly into place.

Bake uncovered for 35 - 40 minutes or until the top is crisp and lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, plain or a la mode.

I also got it in my head I wanted to make rhubarb ice cream. But I was feeling very lazy, and didn't want to do a custard base and also didn't want to push the rhubarb through a sieve. So as a result the ice cream is more like a frozen ygourt texture and there were some chunks of rhubarb. Also, I didn't use the full amount of rhubarb, and I threw in a couple strawberries for color. If I did it again, I'd try a custard base for a creamier texture and I'd make sure I used the whole amount of rhubarb for a fuller flavor.

Rhubarb Ice Cream

6 cups diced fresh rhubarb (I used about 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups heavy cream (I used 3 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2, cause that's what I had on hand)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring, or to get desired color (I did not use)
3 cups milk (I used whole, cream on top, milk)

In a 2 quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender. Cool thoroughly.

Combine cooled rhubarb mixture with heavy cream, vanilla, and red food coloring. Pour into a 1 gallon freezer container. Add milk, filling 2.3 full. Freeze, following ice cream freezer directions.
Makes 1 gallon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

quote for the week.

" Decide what to be and go be it. "
                                                  ~ Avett Brothers

 Sounds so easy, doesn't it?

I really want to stay home and have more babies. Maybe go to school for a nutrition degree. But somewhere along the line, I lost interest in a career. Actually, I never had much interest in one. I think I just thought I was supposed to. Being a feminist and all. No letting the man keep you down. Who really wants to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen anyway? Right?

Me. Goodness, I long for it. I don't know where this all came from. I never cared about vintage linens or cooking from scratch or wearing an apron. I certainly didn't want to be tied to a home - cooking and cleaning and being home with no adult interaction all day. But now, that's exactly what I want. Really, work is getting in the way of all the other things I need to do with my life.

Sometimes I'm envious of people who like what they do. People who have a passion and go for it. Like it's somehow not enough to just want to have babies and have a garden and take care of your family. Like it's somehow turning my back on the 'sisterhood'. I got over that idea long ago. Choice is a good thing, you know?  But I mean, the truth is that even if I do get the opportunity sometime to stay home and hang laundry on the line with a baby on my hip - someday, that baby will be all grown up. And what will I do then? I don't know. Nothing interests me enough to want to spend the next 30 years doing it. That's why I'm leaning towards going to school for nutrition. I mean -  I have an accounting degree and a business degree and I like doing that stuff, I guess. But I don't love it. I don't know that I would love being a nutritionist either (especially following the USDA guidelines) but I do know that I read about nutrition and things for fun, so I mean that's a step in the right direction anyway.

And you know, the baby on the hip thing - I long for it. The sweet smell. The perfect fit of a child on your hip with their sweet baby head nestled against you. Sigh. I mean, I need the chance to stay at home and do the at home mom thing for a while. Need to.

I heard another quote a few weeks ago something like :Sure the grass is greener on the other side, but it still has to be mowed: And that's it I guess. Say I get the chance to stay home - how long before I'm crying that it's so hard to do all the housework and take care of the kids and I need to get out of the house? I guess that no matter which side your on, you always feel a little pull somewhere else . . .

Friday, June 11, 2010


SAD. The Standard American Diet.

Highly processed foods, refined flours, refined sugars, fast foods, rancid oils.  

I've talked before about my journey with food and cooking. Yet for all the strides I've made, our diet still closely resembled a SAD diet. I think maybe it's just so ingrained in many of us, that we don't even notice it. I certainly didn't. At first glance my families diet seemed slightly above average. Local and organic foods, plenty of vegetables and fruits. Grains. And more grains. And refined flours and sugars. Oops.

I'm not a nutritionist (though I plan on going to school for just that in the next year or so) and this obviously is not a medical blog, so take anything I say here with a grain of salt (or pat of butter) - it's all purely my opinion and nothing more.

At the early part of the last century, American cookbooks were much different than what they are today. In some ways, cookbooks and recipes and meals are better today - we have a wide array of ingredients available to work with, we have appliances to make cooking quicker and easier. In other ways, those old cookbooks might have been better. For the most part they concentrate on whole ingredients. You'll rarely see recipes (receipts) calling for a can of this or a bag of that (well, I guess they didn't have freezers either!). They used lard and whole, real fats. Ingredients were often basic - probably because many things were still bought from a local farm or grown in their backyards. During the war, sugar in recipes was low due to the rationing.

I firmly believe that whole, real foods are superior to processed foods. And since last summer - that thinking has spread to include whole milk, lard, full fat cheeses. For as long as I've been moving towards a whole foods diet, I was still buying low-fat products. Why? Well, because I was trying to  lose weight, and doesn't the USDA say that a low-fat, low-cal diet is the way to go?

My first clue was (or should have been) my experiences last summer. I spent months getting up at 5am to go running before work. Dieted. Blah, blah, blah. Lost nothing. Not one little inch. At the end of the summer I started buying whole fat milks (because that's what was available at our farmers market). I stopped dieting, and I stopped running because we were moving and I was working overtime. That month, without trying, I lost 10 pounds. Yet, that barely clicked with me until a couple months ago.

I won't go on too long about my weight, because - frankly, it's boring and no one cares. But. Remember my whiny blog from last month, and how I wasn't going to weigh myself? Lies (not intentional, really!). I did weigh myself. And I did keep thinking about it. Because the next week I started atkins. Gasp! If you're like I was, you're shaking your head and muttering about how that's the stupidest diet ever. And maybe it is.

Here's what happened. One morning I was grumpy and feeling fat. So I was going to sign back up for weight watchers online.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. "
Albert Einstein

Only, I remembered a friend mentioning her success on atkins. And this friend is pretty smart and like me loves good food and good wine. So, on a whim I checked out the atkins website. What's this? They gave tons and tons of information, for free?! Weight Watchers is between 45-60 dollars for a 3 month online subscription. Well, hell. For free, I'd read about it.

And guess what? It made sense. Really, it did. Especially to me. For 7 years I've been bouncing around with calorie restriction and low fat diets, and where am I? Um, still not thin. I was surprised at the whole foods emphasis. And the truth is, I do eat  a lot of processed carbs. It's not unusual for a typical day to consist of something like toast or granola for breakfast, a wrap for lunch and a pasta and bread for dinner. I'd have fruits and veggies through out the day of course, but still. That's a lot of bread and starch. Also, we loooove potatoes, and we easily ate those 4 or 5 nights a week. What? They're good! And cheap!

So anyway, I've been doing this thing for about 10 weeks now. I've lost 12 lbs. 8 of those pounds came of in the first 2 weeks. So I'm not losing fast. Admittedly, I followed the diet perfectly the first 2 weeks, and the last few weeks not as well. I've waaaay over indulged in wine on the weekends and I had popcorn last night (which I'm not "supposed" to have yet). I don't care about losing slow though. All I care about is that I'm losing. And more importantly - I feel good. I do. I don't know how to explain it, really. I just feel better. When the kids make a comment about how I'm "not supposed" to have this or that, I remind them that I can, I'm just choosing not to. I'm still cooking breads and potatoes and things for the family, though slightly less than before. I don't think these things are evil (they are delicious), I just think we eat too many. Especially me!

Now, realistically, I'm not going to stay off bread and sugar forever. I mean, it took me 5 years to make the perfect loaf of bread. I will eat that again. And I know, I know, that's the downfall right? Whatever.

What I'm doing is no longer Atkins, it's more Atkins-inspired. The one thing I didn't like was all the mock this, fake that, splenda based foods. I'm ok with trying new things. Like cauliflower pizza crust or sporadic use of xylitol and stevia. But I'm not into constantly re-creating things that I'm not  supposed to be :ahem: choosing not to eat. I mean, why not embrace the whole, real foods that are part of the way I'm choosing to eat?

What I'm doing is just being more mindful of processed carbs and sugar. For now, I'm staying away from even whole wheat flour and experimenting with things like almond and oat flour. Eventually wheat and grains will come back - as treats. Homemade waffles with the family once a month? Sure! And with sugar, I've cut it out almost completely (which is surprisingly hard - it's in everything!) But I'll indulge from time to time, like in homemade ice cream. And I'm sure I'll be adding in honey and maple syrup soon, in small quantities.

It just makes sense to me. I'm not a farmer (though I wish I was). I sit at a desk most of the day. I simply don't need those carbohydrates.

Anyway. So that's where I am and that's what I've been doing. And I guess I'm sharing because, well, I don't know. Because if I start posting recipes with almond flour you'll know why. And I guess because I've been so astounded at how effortless it's been to drop a few pounds, and how amazing I feel eating this way.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seasonal Eating: Rhubarb

I have rhubarb I bought a week and a half ago at the market, still sitting in my fridge. I hate when I do that. I have the best intentions and then . . . nothing. It's incredibly wasteful, in so many aspects.

So, I was thinking each week or two, I'd highlight some seasonal recipes here - and maybe you could share some with me? I know, I know. I did so well with a recipe of the week. And of course I followed up with last years recipe for the strawberry rhubarb pie. What? I didn't? Oops.

Let's start fresh, okay?

Soon, I'll let you know about some changes I've been making in my diet. But for now I'll just let you know I've (mostly) cut out flour (but will be adding back in whole grains eventually), starches and sugar (with some occasional xyltiol and stevia and sucanat).

I'm not a fan of mock things. And I'll get into that later as well, but I'm ok with adjusting things to a point. Using different flours, very small amounts of "natural" sugars etc . . .

I'll probably still post delicious looking recipes containing sugar and flour, but won't be able to actually try them. I'll let you know what my family thinks. They have very interesting taste buds.

And please, please share some recipes with me, either with a link in the comments to your blog, or right in the comments. Maybe that will help keep me on track! ha!

Evan has already been asking for a strawberry rhubarb pie again, so hopefully(!) soon I'll re-post (um, first post) that recipe with some notes.

Here's what I plan on trying this week: Molly Katzens Strawbeey Rhubarb Crisp

I'll probably lower the sugar and use an oat or almond flour (probably oat . . .) I'll report back in a few days with the results.

Do you have any must have rhubarb recipes?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I have no idea what I'm doing.

This post was originally started a few weeks ago and saved as a draft. I have a few of those. I start typing about something and just can't get it out quite right. Originally this post started because I was wondering how much I've screwed up my kids already. Now I'm coming back to it because they're driving me crazy. Either way - it's the same idea. I have no idea what I'm doing.

I hope my kids make it to adulthood without too much emotional damage.

I was a young mother. I have few regrets about being a mom so young, only that there were so many things I didn't know. So many things I thought I knew, but didn't hold strong to. I made many mistakes. I still make many mistakes. I'll always make mistakes. I just hope none of them will have my sons future girlfriends musing about how much I ruined them. Unless of course, it's how I left them unable to buy something pre-packaged without checking the label, or how they compare my cooking to their girlfriends/wives. I'm ok with that. Sue me. :)

It's funny, sort of. Everyone warned me how hard being a mother would be. But it wasn't, really. It was easy, most of the time. You changed them and fed them and loved them and held them. Sometimes you screwed up, sometimes you cried with them out of tiredness or frustration or sympathy. But for the most part it was just sort of easy. It was just life and there wasn't a whole lot of time to think about how to do things or if they were the right things. I mean maybe you would, for a moment here, a night there - but with an infant and toddler you're in the thick of it. You live by the moment, mostly. Or at least I did.

When I did worry about things, it was always stuff for later. How would I handle this situation or that, when we got to it. Some of them we've already gone through. Some where not nearly as scary as I thought they'd be. Some we muddled through. But we made it out ok, with only a few scars to show for it.

I feel like now that they're older, I worry more. I worry about how much I may have messed them up already, how much I'm messing them up now, and how much I'll mess them up in the future.

I know that sounds stupid. I know we'll get through everything, same as we have. And I'll probably only mess them up a little bit, and eventually they'll forgive me and still love me anyway.

But here's the thing. I have a soon to be 12 year old. A coming of age, smart mouthed, stubborn, sulky, cranky, acting older than he is but still puts his head on my shoulder, little man.

It scares the crap out of me. Because I over think things. And worry too much. I know.

There are two things going on. One is I'm terrified of letting go. I know what I was like as a teenager, and I was a good kid compared to many kids I knew. The thought of him doing half the stuff I did worries me sick. I know I have a few years before it all really hits, but kids start earlier and earlier it seems. We've had all the big talks, but I don't think they are enough. The idea of letting go and hoping your words are enough is scary as hell.

The other thing is his attitude. He was always a spirited child. Never easy to raise, but a joy in his own ways. More and more he's - well, like a teen. He's so freaking negative and sulky and sometimes mean.

And I have no idea what I'm doing. So that's great. It's one of the most pivotal times in his life and I'm just kind of winging it.

His dad (who does not live with us) insists it's just him becoming a teen, and to just deal with it. That seems to be the (laughingly stated) consensus among all sorts of people.

And well, I sort of think that's bullshit. I understand there will be some tough and trying times, but it's no excuse for poor behavior and poor manners. Why should it be? And why the hell is it so hard to raise a decent, good mannered child?! I mean, people do it, right? There are polite kids and teens out there, yes? Tell me your secrets, please!!!

You know, we've had conversations before, where I've flat out told him that we don't have all the answers. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we don't make the best choices either. But that everything we do, even when he thinks it's unfair (and maybe sometimes it is) is what we think is best for him then. Even if he doesn't understand it, we're only doing the best that we can as parents and the best we can for him. 

This is a hard age too, because he's not quite a child, and not quite a teen. You can't give him the independence of an older child, but he needs more freedom than a younger child. He has the attitude of a hormonal teen, but I still see the need for him to let go, relax and be a kid.

I guess all those people had it almost right years ago. Raising a baby is the easy part, it's the rest of their lives that's so hard!

Monday, June 7, 2010


The past few weeks have been so full of - everything. I'm working to find the rhythm in the upcoming summer, in this new work schedule. It's coming, but slowly.

A taste of what we've been up to:

This next week is shaping up to be very busy as well. I hope to be back here more often, soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

quote for the week.

The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while and watch your answers change.
~Richard Bach

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My cat hates me.

There's no other explanation for it. She just hates me. Why else would I be cleaning smooshy cat poo from my shower at 5am this morning? And I must love her, or I would have kicked her right in her tush when she pranced in front of me while I was filling the garden and proceeded to poo (butt turned towards me, so she was sure there was no mistaking what she was up to).

She looks cute, but she's evil.

In fact, she's so evil she wouldn't she wouldn't let me get a good picture of her, to prove her cuteness.

can you spot the kitty?

She's like a freaking teenager.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

And the winner is . . .

 I used the very new and very high tech method of  writing all the names down, putting them in a bowl and having my six year old pick one.

And the winner of The Farmer and the Grill by Shannon Hayes is  . . .

 . . .

 . . .

. . .

Sara over at The Handy Hooker!

Sara, please e-mail me at with your address!

I'm already thinking I'll do another give-away when Shannons second Grassfed Gourmet book is released, so keep an eye out for that one!