Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eleven Things

1.  The hubs and I have gotten new cell phones.  Specifically, iPhones.  Yeah, we're in love.  

2.  While I've come to like our new phones a lot (see #1), I have come to adore the "Apps" you can put on the phone.  Games.  Coupon sites.  Bible Translations.  Photo programs.   All fun.  All free.  

3. I love free.

4.  Speaking of loving free apps, my newest love is called Instagram.  Be still my soul!  Even crappy, cell phone pictures are great.  I've been taking pictures of anything I can -- and then "Instagram-ing" them.  Instagram puts filters on photos you've taken.  Basically, it changes the photo's color and some choices apply a border to the photo.  Plainly put, it can take a boring, run-of-the-mill photo and make it  look really cool!   You can choose from over 15 looks/filters.  For instance:  all the photos in this post?  Instagram, baby!

5.  I am contemplating writing a book.  Not about Instagram.  Or my new phone.  Even though I do love it.  I am contemplating writing a Christian Inspirational Fiction book.  Or at least I'm contemplating the contemplation of writing a book.

6.  For said book, I don't even know where to start.  But I do have a title for the book.

7.  No, I will not share the title with you.  But it's good.  It's really, really good.  

8.  I have been working out a ton for the last eight weeks.  I mean like walking 15ish miles in three days, and biking 12-15 miles per day for the other two days.  

9.  Unfortunately, my scale doesn't seem to understand what all the sweating is about.  Alas, no change.  (Uh, GHM?  Eat much?  Nom, nom, nom!)  The scale and I?  We are not friends.

10.  All this walking and riding has made me feel a lot less jiggle in my wiggle, and more get-up-and-go in my go-get-em.  So, I think I'll keep walking, walking, walking.  With a ride or two thrown in.  

11.  The number of days since my last post.  Eleven.  Too long.  I'll be back sooner next time.  I promise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Cookin'

(Note:  This post and the previous one are reposts from last May.   However, I thought that with strawberry season in full swing you might appreciate seeing the recipe again.  And, it also frees me up to get to my own kitchen where the strawberries are crying out to be made into delicious little loaves of Pound Cake!!  Enjoy!)

Did you guess at what was cookin' at our house?

If you guessed Fresh Strawberry Pound Cake, then you'd be correct!

Looks good, don't it?  Let's just dive right into the recipe... Picture by picture, of course!

The cast of ingredients:

First, chop your strawberries.  We have a local U Pick farm where they grow amazing berries.  TheBoy and I went and picked a bucketful for this recipe.  Well, I picked a bucketful.  TheBoy and his friends found worms, caterpillars, bugs, tractors, dirt, and more dirt.  Oh, and ate more strawberries straight off the vine than they put in the bucket.  I'm not complaining, though.  This year, I got a bucketful of ripe, red, pristine and perfect strawberries.  Not like in the past when the kids "helped" and I ended up with a bucketful of green berries, giant over ripe berries, flowers, and the occasional caterpillar!

Where was I?  Ah, yes.  Chopping strawberries. 

Of course you'll have already washed your berries.  I do that just before cutting.  Seems to keep them plump and juicy.

So, lop off the green tops and dice the berries.  Since I was making mini loaves, I cut my berries into a small dice.

Put the berries into a bowl and top them with a bit of the sugar called for in the recipe.  Stir them around a bit.  By the time you're ready to mix 'em in, they'll have created a lovely syrup that will help them stay sweet in the cake.

It definitely helps if you have an exceedingly eager, smart, and cute boy to help you in the kitchen!

Next you'll want to unwrap your softened butter and put it into your mixing bowl.  Don't die here, people.  This is a lotta buddah!  So as to soften the blow, please know that I was tripling this recipe.  Hence the copious amount of butter.

Once you've put your butter into the bowl, dump the remaining sugar onto the top.

I can hear the collective gasp, "Oh my!  Bless her little heart!  That girl is fixin' to go into a diabetic coma with all that sugah."  Relax.  Relax, my friends.  And remember that I was tripling this recipe. 

Cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy.  I have to admit that I am not a patient baker and I used to turn off the beater as soon as the butter and sugar seemed combined.  But let me tell you about "light and fluffy" my friends.  Light and fluffy is good.  Light and fluffy gives the sugar a chance to begin to dissolve in the butter.  And that, my friends, makes for better baked goods!  So, cream until light and fluffy.  You'll be glad you did!

Then add the eggs, one by one.

And stir 'em up really well.

Add the vanilla. 

And now for the science lesson next ingredient: flour. 

But I gotta 'splain something first...  I don't enjoy chemistry.  Didn't enjoy it the three or four times I took it in college.  But, I do recall being told in one of my food chemistry classes (yes, food chemistry is MUCH better than that other chemistry) that when you're baking, it's just a big scientific reaction.  I also heard a lot of blah, blah, blah in my undergrad classes, but this thing stuck with me.  I remember being told that when you're cooking, for the most part, you can guesstimate. You know, Rachael Ray style -- just throw in a handful of this and a handful of that.  However, that is not true in baking.  In baking, measurements must be precise.  And that, students, is the end of today's science lesson.

Gotta be precise, huh?  Let me tell you how I measure flour.  Well, all dry ingredients when baking.  But, for now, and for this recipe, I will show you how I measured the flour.

Get a big whoppin' heap of flour in your measuring cup.

Then, using the straight back of a butter knife, tap, tap, tap the top of the flour so that your knife is tapping along the top of the measuring cup.  This allows the flour to settle into any air pockets in the measuring cup without compacting.  Or at least that's what I tell myself.  I also really like the sound it makes!  Tap, tap, tap!  After tapping, drag your knife across the top of the flour to level it with the top of the measuring cup.  Like this:

Then, with the beaters running, add it to your mixing bowl.  I add one cup at a time, allowing each cup to be incorporated before adding the next.  Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.  And try, just try, to keep your fingers out of the batter.  Watch out for them beaters, though!

Then add your beautiful, little, chopped strawberries, including the syrup they've made for you.

Mix until just blended and then spoon into your loaf pan(s). 

The recipe I used said that the recipe could make one large loaf or four mini loaves.  Since I was tripling it, I ended up with twelve loaves.  You see, not only did you get a science lesson today but a math one, as well! 

Bake 'em in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes.  Loaves are finished when toothpick inserted in loaf comes out clean and they are golden.

Allow the loaf to cool before cutting.  While these are good when cooled, they are even better later.  Warmed up.  With a dallop of whipped cream.   And maybe a few extra berries on it.  Mmm!

So, getonouttahere.  Go pick yourselves some strawberries.  Even if you just pick 'em up at StuffMart.  And make yummy things with them.  Or just eat them out of the bucket.  Do what you'd like.  Who am I to tell you what to do with your berries?  

The recipe:


2/3 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

-- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray loaf pan(s) with Pam with flour, or grease and flour pans.
-- Chop strawberries into small bowl.  Top with a sprinkling of sugar and stir.  Set aside.
-- Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
-- Add eggs into cream/butter mixture and mix well.
-- Add vanilla and salt.  Stir.
-- With the beaters running, add flour, one cup at a time.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
-- Pour batter into loaf pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
     -- 1 hour for regular 9" x 5" loaf pan
     -- 35-40 minutes for 4 mini loaves

-- Enjoy!

**You might notice that none of my cooking gadgetry is high tech.  Most of it came from the StuffMart.  You do not need fancy-schmancy kitchen equipment to turn out yummy stuff.   However, a tripod and zoom lens might make kitchen photography a bit easier!**

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mean Ol' Momma

When the kids start misbehaving, we've implemented a new form of discipline.

Swabbing the deck.

(After reviewing this pictures, I realize that TheBoy is pretty good with a mop.  Thinking he's gonna find himself tasked with a new chore!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hidden Blessing

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

   or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 

or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, 

   or let the fish in the sea inform you. 

Which of all these does not know 

   that the hand of the LORD has done this? 

In his hand is the life of every creature 

   and the breath of all mankind."

Job 12:7-10

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Give me grace...

In two days, we'll be leaving for a long road trip that will end in smiles.  And tears.

In two days, we'll be on the other end of this boomerang shaped state, seeing family we've not seen in years.  We'll be saying hello.

And goodbye.

We'll be celebrating the 95 years of a woman who defined the term "tough old bird."  She was creative, sassy, loving, and patient beyond most.  Her humming will forever be embedded in my heart.

So, while I'm gone, please show me grace.  I'm not sure I'll get to post much here on the blog.  But I'll be back.  And I hope you'll be here when I return.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  2 Timothy 4:7

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Why Teach Spelling?


I've heard countless arguments about the "futility" of teaching Spelling to children.

"Why bother?  We have Spell-Check in every computer program and most, if not all, kids do their work on a computer."

Uh, why?

This is why:

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques for my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it to say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
It’s rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
Eye am shore your pleased two no
It’s letter perfect awl the weigh
My checker tolled me sew.

-Margo Roark
(From the book i before e (except after c) by Judy Parkinson)