Saturday, March 27, 2010

Svedeesh puncekes. Um gesh dee bork, bork!

My family LOVES Swedish pancakes. We're not Swedish but my my uncle is, and we've learned to make his recipe over the years even though he makes them differently each time. He never goes off and actual recipe. It's a little of this and a bit of that and he goes with his intuition on how much of each ingredient. It's maddening even though there there isn't much to it. Since we didn't have him here this morning to guide us, we had to find a recipe that best matched our memory of his and change it up a bit. Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp!

You might say, well isn't it just a crepe? Actually no, but very close. A Swedish pancake calls for sugar in the recipe and a crepe usually relies on the filling to provide the sweetness, but it's pretty much the same. We like both but today we were putting in the sugar. Some recipes call for butter and others don't so this morning my mom and I had sort of a crepe off where she did hers with butter in the batter and I did mine without. I know, we're are CRAAAAZY! So, the verdict was that the ones with butter in the batter we more greasy. The only trade off is the ones w/out butter in the batter need butter in the pan for each crepe, erhum, I mean Swedish pancake. Bork bork bork!

So if you want to make these you'll need the right type of pan. Get one with at least a 8" flat bottom and non-stick is preferred.

Uncle Ron's Swedish Pancakes

3 eggs
1 1/4 C. flour
1 1/4 C. milk
1/4 Tbs. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat a pan (cast iron or an 8 inch pan) over med/high heat. Mix eggs and a cup of the milk. Add in dry ingredients. Mix quickly but not for long. Add in the rest of the milk; combine well. This should be very thin batter.

Put a pat of butter into your hot pan. Once it is melted, pour about 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Swirl around until it's thin and even. I can never get mine perfectly round so don't worry about that. Let the Swedish pancake cook for about one minute, then flip and cook on other side about one minute (typically for me it is less). Be sure to put butter in the pan each time you cook another pancake.

Roll up the pancakes and put them on a plate. Serve with lingonberry preserves, maple syrup, or your favorite topping. Personally I like them filled with preserves and butter, and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup and powdered sugar. Pared with bacon and/or sausage and you have heaven on a plate. Restraint and Swedish pancakes just don't belong together. It was hard to even put them in the same sentence. Bork, bork bork!

After polishing off a few, I decided they are my new pancake. They are just so nice and light and I think I actually prefer them to the traditional American pancake.

Um de hur de hur de hur!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Butter Bulb™


Meet my gorgeous new Butter Bulb™. This fab little piece of pottery allows me to butter my toast with style. Form and function on my counter top? Yes please! These amazing little french butter keepers are made by Barbara Dunshee and you can find your very own, one of a kind, Butter Bulb™ at her etsy shop. It was hard to choose which color, but I loved the bone white with the bright red dot because it works with the color scheme of my kitchen which has lots of white pottery and dishes, but there are a good few colors to choose from. They come in two different sizes for either one stick of butter or two.

Here's Barbara on her bulbs....

"For years I liked the French butter keeper concept but couldn't stand the look of them (especially hated the flat top lids). People would ask me to create them one since I was a ceramic artist. I would send them to potters I knew who made them. I would sometimes fiddle with designs in clay, or on paper but nothing grabbed me. Finally I came up with the interior bulb shape and it all fell into place. I love the way they feel to use, so roundy and comfy in the hand. I'm a little bit in love with them. "

Me too, Barbara, me too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not Your Grandma's Lasagna

I recently joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) against every molecule in Jon's being. This was the year that I decided to eat more vegetables, less meat and more locally, and if I'm doing it, the whole family has to, too. Hey, you cook, you choose, right? So, I figured if I got a box full of veggies every week, that would force me to have to expand on my usual recipe repertoire which doesn't usually involve a lot of vegetables. This is especially challenging when your husband doesn't eat vegetables. Ever. He claims it's because he has unusually sensitive taste buds which could be true. He's got the uncanny ability to pick out the most subtle of flavors in a meal. Ingredients most people wouldn't pick up on. Whatever.

Okay, so I what's a girl to do?

Tonight I prepared an old, reliable dish for our family, lasagna. Only, you really can't compare it to any lasagna you've ever had. It's not the traditional ricotta, mozzarella fare but give it a chance, it'll knock your socks off and it's so easy. I promise. This is my go to recipe when a friend has a baby or if someone just needs a meal. Only this time I had a bunch of kale & carrots to make use of thanks to my new CSA habit. Jon saw the pile of kale and was like, "what are you going to do with that?", & I told him he'd be better off if he didn't ask questions. To be informed is a bad thing sometimes. So when he wasn't looking, I snuck the veggies in the sauce and he was none the wiser. Sneaky.... You could probably get away with adding more carrots or whatever, but that's up to you. Tomato sauce it like the invisibly cloak for healthy stuff.

Here's the recipe.

Not Your Grandma's Lasagna

1 1/4 lbs of Italian Sausage
3 cloves of garlic, minced
about 5-7 kale or spinach leaves, pureed in food processor
1-2 large carrots shredded
1 small can of tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
course salt
12 oz egg noodles (I used "no boil" noodles)
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 bunch of scallions
8 oz of white cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Remove sausage meat from casings and saute until lightly browned in a large skillet over medium heat breaking it up as it cooks. Add garlic during the last few minutes before you add the next ingredients. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce and sugar. Fill tomato paste can with water and stir it in. Add kale and carrots. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

Boil noodles if you didn't get the "no boil" ones.

Mix sour cream, cream cheese and scallions in a small bowl. Make layers in a 9x9 casserole dish, as follows: Spread a little sauce over bottom of dish, top with a layer of noodles, then spread half of he sour cream mixture, then noodles again, then meat sauce. Repeat these steps. Top lasagna with sliced cheddar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until lasagna is bubbly and the cheese is lightly browned.

Now EAT!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills

I picked up this book not too long ago and am very excited about it. It is chock full of charming tutorials and hand drawn illustrations for everything in the home from making your own tinctures, to building a garden, to recipes for window cleaner.

Look, I know there is this cultural belief that the domestic realm is somehow less important than the public one. Which we all know is a load of crap. Sadly, because of that notion, this kind of DIY knowledge has been in the decline since the feminist movement. I'm not blaming feminist per say, but I do think that out of a lot of women's fears of being too Betty Crocker and locked in that gilded cage of housewifery, we are now a Walmart culture.
This little $5 DIY zine is for EVERYBODY! Gardening, homemaking and healing are all vital yet basic aspects of human life. I'm using it now everyday. I recommend "Make Your Place" as a read for anyone who wants to make their life a little greener and more enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bootie knitter

I can finally post about this now that the baby shower has passed. It was for a good friend of mine, Shannon, last Sunday.

First I did this hat. Adorable, right? Only issue is I made it for a baby and it would fit Jake perfectly. It fit Chloe, who's two, but was still a little roomy. Oh well. Still usable.

Then there were the booties that I wanted to go with it. Maybe I could make these fit a baby.... I should know better. I found this pattern for booties in the same book that I made the hat from, Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and they looked SO adorable. However, these booties require an unnatural ability to knit with both hands and, apparently, feet or a third arm if you have one. I haven't yet mastered knitting in the round and this pattern makes you work with three double pointed needles which made me feel like I was wrestling an octopus. So after I untangled myself, I tossed it. Cursing and crying ensued.

Find happy place, find happy place! It's all downhill from here, just so you know.

Turns out, booties are hard. Really, really hard. I seriously considered knitting the baby a scarf instead, but then quickly realized that would be a bad idea. Knitting something to wrap around a babies neck could really back fire on me... and the baby.

So, I then decided I should google "SUPER EASY, BEGINNER baby booties" to see what I could come up with. After a bit of digging I found a nice little pattern that required only minimal knitting skills which was right up my alley. I knitted away and finished one bootie. And then disaster. The husband got hold of my laptop and closed the browser and somehow erased any trace of previous sites visited. Of course, finding a needle in a haystack would have been easier than finding that website again. Note to self: BOOKMARK, BOOKMARK BOOKMARK! So I cried some more. Anyone know a one legged baby? I really hope not, but in case you do, I've got his/her bootie.

Turns out I shouldn't knit under pressure. It kind of takes away any of the meditativeness that knitting is suppose to offer.

So, I drank a few glasses of wine and tried to find that place, that happy place to begin my search again for the easy baby bootie because Jeannine has OCD and a unhealthy determination to keep a babies feet warm. Finally, I found this site! Cute right? Well, once finished I realized that I had knitted booties for a baby with unusually large, different sized feet or a three year old... The gauge was all wrong even though I went by the instructions... You may be thinking, at least it'll go with the hat, right? Ugh! How sad are these?

They aren't even the same size! I think this qualifies as a thought gift. At least the bear saved me from total baby shower shame.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Huh? Oh my. All day I looked at her and thought, "really? two? How can this be happening so fast? And then in the next breath, of course, cannot remember my life before her, as if it's been years and years. One of those incredibly hard to explain, and yet so very real parenting feelings.

The actual birthday started with cupcakes with her Emerson class pals, then a nice long nap, followed by pizza with the family and, of course, more cupcakes.

Then there was the party. Oh what a party. A fairy / pirate party, that is. Aside from the late pizza, the cupcake disaster and pinata flop, it was a lovely day. A perfectly mellow kind of day, well-suited to my little girl. Fairies (and fanciness), pirates, lots and lots of friends, and many, many balloons and fairycakes. Good times.

"cupcake disaster"

I know the feeling.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Newspaper Basket

A neighbor recently had some major surgery done and since I can sympathize, I decided a delivery of fresh eggs to him and his family were in order. Only problem was, I didn't have any nice little baskets to put them in and I really didn't feel like bringing them over in a sad little tupperware container. Then, I remembered a craft that I had seen on some craft blog not to long ago and I decided to recreate it as well as I could.... it was a newspaper basket! I loved the idea of repurposing old newspapers or magazines into something useful and I didn't feel like trucking somewhere to buy a basket. We're trying to be more frugal these days, except with shoes..... Not the shoes. Anyway, I bet you're pretty damn excited to find out how I did this, right? You can hardly contain your excitement, I know. Let me explaaaaain, sugar.

First things first, you'll need a newspaper, scissors, a stapler, some craft glue, and ribbon. The cup of coffee or tea is optional, but a really good idea. You might want to consider it.

Trim the fold from a section of your paper to release each of the individual pages.

Then, fold each page lengthwise in half, then in half again, and then again, leaving you with a strip that's about 1-1/2 inches wide.

Start weaving the pieces together as snugly as possible and as you go, you can determine the size of your bottom (your basket's bottom, that is). I just wanted a little basket for a 1/2 dozen eggs so mine was 4 strips x 4 strips.

Now you'll want to fold all the ends up and weave the remaining strips to form the sides of the basket, stapling as you go. You'll have to overlap some strips but you can simply staple those together too, or if staples are just too hideous for you persnickety people, you can try craft glue or double sided tape. Make sure all the strips are taught, this will require some patience. Trust me.

When you reach the top, fold over the end pieces and tuck the outward ones into the strip below it, then trim the inside ones and staple them down so you don't see the ugly ends.

I then decided to take some nice, colorful pages out of a Anthropologie catalogue I had laying around to form the top edge. It sort of gives it a more finished look. You could also go all out and use ribbon or more newspaper or whatever suits the look you're trying to achieve. Since I didn't have any craft glue or a sewing machine, I didn't get all crazy. I cut a catalogue page into 2" strips and folded those in half. Then I wrapped that folded strip around the top edge so it covered it both inside and out. I got kind of fancy with some ribbon I had laying around and added a bow. I thought it was a nice touch being that it was a "gift" basket.
From start to finish this took me no more than 30 minutes for my little basket.

Voila! you should now have a nice little basket for your eggs, remotes, magazines or small Terrier. You might want to go wash your hands because they're probably pretty grey by now.

breakfast conversation

Jake: Mommy, you're a Cutie Sweetie Pie. You're so cute.

Me: Thank you Jake, you are too.

Jake: No, I'm not cute, I'm a booty shaker transformer.

Me: um, okaaaay?

Jake: Have you eaten your breakfast yet?

Me: Uh, no. Not yet. I'll have it lat.......

Jake: You need to eat your breakfast sweetie pie. You need your vitamins. GO EAT YOUR BREAKFAST RIGHT NOW!

Me: Jake, please don't call me sweetie pie, I'm your Mama. I'll eat my........

Jake: I asked you to eat your breakfast and don't make me ask you AGAIN MOMMY! NOW MOMMY!

Me: hmmph, OKAY! [stomping off to make some toast. I know when to shut up and do what I'm told]

Monday, March 8, 2010

a proud day

I knit! I just finished my one of my first knitting projects, a keyhole scarf. I've got 3 going right now... This is the "Windy City Scarf" out of Stitch & Bitch and I did it with 2 skeins of Blue Sky yarn in Cumin. I'm so happy with it. My first scarf, which isn't this one, was actually my first ever experience working with the stockinette stitch and, well, is a mess so I just gave up and started the scarf above which, like I said, am very happy with. Yay me!
I've got a baby bonnet and booties in the works.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Morning

Inspired by today's post from Soule Mama, I decided to do the same. I would like to remember to do just this, savor the moments no matter how ordinary they are. To be in the moment, and not thinking forward constantly. These moments are simple yet beautiful. Best of all, when you stop to soak them in, they leave behind memories for a lifetime. I'm so Hallmark, I know. Okay, no more shmaltz... Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thanks Ladies

I had a really nice surprise when I went out to the coop today to collect Ethel's egg, there were two! Lucy has started laying them too! I should have been tipped off by the tell tale "squat" that she started doing last weekend. You know it when you see it. Instead of slinking under your hand when you try to pet them, they'll squat down, spread their wings out and lift their butt in the air and enjoy a good, rough pet. I think they think you're going to mate with them or something. I don't know... None of my books really cover it in detail, but they do say that eggs are on the horizon when your chickens start squatting.


My girls are THE BEST. Seriously, I had no idea that chickens could make me so happy. They are so friendly now and I just love how the come running over to me when I walk out to my backyard. If I sit down with a treat, they'll even jump on my lap or my shoulders to eat it. I know, I'm this close [pinching my fingers together] to being the crazy chicken lady. erhum. I've been pleasantly surprised by how curious they are and how much they like attention. Not only that, but what clowns they are. Their chicken antics are just hilarious to watch. I can't imagine life with out them.

Jon's opinion, however, is a little different. He's warming up to them, but he does get annoyed with their poop. There is a lot of it, but I don't find it any worse than if you had a dog to clean up after. Honestly, I find their poop a whole lot easier to deal with than big ol' stinky Labrador poop.

The kids love them, too. They love collecting the fresh eggs out of the nest, feeding them and being followed around by them cracks them up. They're even starting to appreciate eating the eggs. It's funny how a cheese covered egg that came from Lucy or Ethel can appeal to a child who not to long ago would rather eat his shoe.

Anyway, I can't imagine now why anyone wouldn't have chickens. With the exception, of course, if other animals or their property didn't allow for it. After initial set up cost, it's kind of ridiculous how easy and cheap raising them really is compared to what you get in return. A constant supply of FRESH EGGS! My Great grandma knew this. Heck, I bet most of you reading had a relative who had chickens at one time or another. Sadly, when the 50's suburban sprawl and industrialized farming came about, backyard poultry lost popularity. Since then it's been associated with poverty and hillbilly folk and buying eggs from the store is for some reason considered more civilized.


I'm really happy that times are changing and it seems to be making a come back with the whole "urban homestead" or "locavore" movement. Even here in Los Angeles it's becoming less of a novelty. For example, I recently joined a Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiast group which gets a bunch of us crazy chicken people together once a month for socializing and seminars.

That said, my neighbors still seem to be mystified by the whole thing. One of them actually asked me if I'd get any chicks from the eggs and I was all, "without a rooster? um no, that's not how it works", and had to basically explain the birds and bees of chickens to him. It's shocking how many people don't know how the whole reproduction thing works. I mean, it's really not all that different from us humans, or any other thing on this planet that can reproduce, with the exception of seahorses which are sort of backwards being that the male gets pregnant.... but I digress. The whole immaculate conception egg thing is actually a common misconception.

The neighbors, confusion aside, don't seem to mind them and have even offered to chicken sit when we're out of town. Actually, I have more volunteers to care for the chickens than I do for my two cats! Not really a surprise when you think about the reward.

the end.

Battle Scar

I know, I'm sorry I didn't warn you first. Gross huh? The two holes below the incision are from the chest tubes. The incision surprised me because of its location, being that the tumors were on my diaphragm.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time to Simplify

I recently read this book, "Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids" by Kim John Payne, and if there is ever a book to change and inspire me to evolve as a parent, this is it. "Too much stuff, too many choices and not enough time make kids feel anxious.", explains the author.

In this ever accelerating world of more is better, over stimulation and constant go, go, go, our children are loosing their childhood. This is the brief moment in life when children should be allowed to just be kids, not little adults worrying about the pressures and troubles of the world. These days there seems to be this pressure to follow the herd, to do what all the other parents are doing which usually involves trying to raise these "well rounded" genius kids that can "do it all". My child can speak 3 different languages, juggle, is the best player on his soccer, baseball & basketball team, marched in a anti war protest and played Mozart on the piano by the age of 5. Okay, that may be an exaggeration for most, but there are those families. Our children can't cope, and at ever increasing rates are being diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, OCD, depression and other mental issues. "We have misjudged what our children can handle and now have a whole generation of neurologically damaged and emotionally stunted human beings.".

Children need rhythm, calm and peace in their daily lives. As parents, we owe it to our children to give them those things and to protect them from the assault on their childhood innocence. It's our responsibility to filter and choose what reaches them. We need to give our children the gift of boredom. Yep, remember boredom? That thing which essentially forced us to get up and create our own entertainment or go outside? We need to give them back the skills to come up with entertainment beyond television, Wii and the computer which will, in turn, cultivate their creativity.

First thing on my list is to get some containers for storage and pack up all of my kids toys except for a few carefully chosen items. We're starting a toy rotation in the spirit of simplifying. Hell, this is sure going to make clean up time easier!