Sunday, January 25, 2015

Potluck Review

Every so often our church has a fellowship meal after the church service. Often the food committee plans a menu so that each family has only to bring "four dozen rolls" or "4# of ham balls" (just an example). But occasionally we have "pot luck" which means "bring a hot and cold dish"  or depends on the translation "bring the best, fattening food you can possibly think up".  I ,unlike some of my family, love tasting different kinds of food.
  By the way, who brought that black crock pot full of baked beans? I need the recipe.

Since people were asking about my food I thought I'd post's not the fanciest or the fattening-est but it is Chinese food for the crock pot.

My daughter-in-law told me about this site and I tried the Mongolian Beef the other night-used ground beef instead.

Here is the recipe with the tweaks I made:

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

1 pound ground beef, (you can fry it before you put it in the crock pot, I simply thawed it when I had 6 hours to cook it. Fried it for church pot luck)

1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup soy sauce (I think it made it a bit strong ...start with 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar

Fry or thaw your ground meat, put in crock pot.  Mix the remaining ingredients, be sure to wisk in the corn starch. Pour in the crock pot. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours.  The "gravy" was a bit thick so I added water as the day went along. (This morning I added 4 cups of water  to my tripled recipe at 10 AM)  In our experience you can never have too much gravy.

Serve with rice

I made rice for pot luck too...searched the internet for recipes and those recipes had 2 cups water to 1 cup rice.....that makes mush when you are making jasmine rice.

I simply measured my washed rice* into the crock pot with my normal measurement of
 1 cup rice to 1-1/4 cup water and added a bit of salt.

I made 5 cups of rice to 6-1/4 cup water.... should've made more

Should've sprayed the crock with cooking spray too

cooked on high until for 2-1/2 hrs and then back to low (10 AM)until lunch was ready. It was plenty soft, but better than trying to make rice between end of church and "time to eat".

* You don't wash your rice? I don't always wash mine, but good Chinese mamas do. Supposedly takes off some of the starch and any impurities that might be on the rice. I only buy  jasmine rice anymore...well except for that one time I almost killed my family by buying regular Carolina rice....but let's not talk about that. Wa*mart sells it (bottom shelf below the Chinese flavorings or up a few rows under the Mexican food supplies) It's a bit more expensive but it's worth it.S*ms Club and your local Chinese food store carry the 25# bags. Put the amount of rice that you are making in a bowl, add water to cover by an inch or so....slosh the rice back and forth with your hands until the water is milky, pour off the water and do it again.  That my friends is "washed rice".

QOTD: The other Saturday I bought chicken pies for supper when DH got to the bottom of his he said "Uh Oh I shouldn't have eaten's for singles only.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Formerly a Shirt

                     When I dig through the bins at Goodwill and come across a nice shirt with good quality fabric, I don't care what size it is. If it fits one of the skinny people in my house....OK
But if it is size XXL then my mind goes to other sewing projects.    This fish shirt has been on my stash pile for quite some time and I got a sudden urge to see if I could make a jumper.
     The bodice comes from the sleeves, the skirt is the main part of the shirt...from the yoke down. 
Leave the shirt tail intact. I added some denim to the bottom of this one to lengthen it.
My photographer didn't quite follow my instructions. I wanted a good picture of the hem line...
            Then there was a shirt that Joe didn't wear very great for Shekinah

Not sure what was up with the eyes.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Rice Bags

Cleaning up my inventory aka: cleaning out corners.
  Came across my accumulation of rice bags. They are tough bags and I hate to just toss them..
but there is a limit! so I took two apart and made one BIG bag...wonder if I could get a week's supply of food in there?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

After we ate our fill of egg roll, pot-stickers, rice, cookies and ice cream, we got to the
The girls could hardly stand it today. The UPS truck and the USPS each delivered one
last package. I found all the gifts and piled them behind the sofa yesterday.
Faith and Shekinah spent their day double-checking that they were still setting there.
Parker opened his gift first cause he is the youngest. 

                        Faith got her "our Genera*ion" doll (poor man's Amer*can Girl)

                                                 the much awaited blinky scooter

                                              I put Glenda's money in a tiny little money box.

                            And dad's gift money for chickens got folded into birds, and a heart.

                                          Joe relented and decided he wants a gift afterall. Originally,
                                   he wanted to save all his Christmas money and his birthday money
                                   for a much coveted tablet (the electronic kind).
                               THEN they hauled in a BIG box and I have a DISHWASHER!
                                                                      I was surprised!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Aunt Ann's Yogurt

A couple of you asked for my yogurt recipe so here goes.   I'd advise you to read up a bit on yogurt making,(If you already know all about yogurt making and just want the recipe, read the bold print) there are some tips...such as

 "yogurt does not like to be jostled while it is becoming yogurt"

Temperature is important, get a digital or quick read thermometer.

Milk can be fresh from the farm, but non-homogenized will give you a layer of cream on the top...
 yum or yuck depends on which child gets it.

I have been using whole milk simply cause there are some frightfully skinny people in my house, but I probably should use "blue" milk for those of us who are watching our cholesterol.

I have had the best success using store -"boughten" yogurt for my starter. When I used my yogurt for the starter in the next batch, my yogurt got runny....tasted OK, but we like yogurt that can stand up for itself. That's why we use gelatin.

Oh and get containers and lids ready in advance so that you aren't scrambling around, worried that your yogurt mix is getting too cold or too warm while you find lids, containers, or counter-top space. Don't ask my how I know this.

Aunt Ann's Yogurt

2 quarts milk
place in a heavy bottom kettle

1/4 cup sugar; just let it sink to the bottom don't stir yet

Sprinkle 1-1/2 Tablespoon plain gelatin over the top of the milk
Don't stir

Heat to about 100 degrees (use the thermometer)
Now you can stir, but sure to get the sugar mixed in

Heat to 180 degrees (read up on yogurt making to understand why)
Stir occasionally while it is heating

When it has reached 180 degrees, remove from burner and set in sink with ice water or simply set on counter to allow mixture to cool to 110 degrees.
 I understand that you don't want to vary this by much cause then you add the yogurt culture. You don't want to kill those healthy little "bugs" that make yogurt so healthy for you.

While the milk is cooling prepare the culturing sister-in-law uses her oven and simply turns on the light for the keeps the oven warm enough. I found out that my oven light doesn't work, even after I put in a new bulb. So, I pulled out my big ice chest, lined it with a tablecloth (folded so half of it can fold over top of the yogurt containers), heated a pint jar of water, closed the jar and put it in the ice chest, so that it is warm for the yogurt culturing.

When milk has cooled to 110;  add 5-6 oz of plain yogurt

 I use the Greek yogurt cause it is thicker....from my reading I think you can add most any kind of plain yogurt, your end result just might be a different texture. If you read yogurt labels you can see that there are different qualities....oh and don't buy old yogurt (so local peeps Glenwood might not be the best choice)

Stir in yogurt and
 1 Tablespoon of vanilla  (optional)

After there are no lumps in your yogurt mixture and the temp is between 100 and 110 degrees, start ladling yogurt into containers  Pop 4 at a time into the ice as to not loose heat. When all the yogurt is in containers, fold the other half of the tablecloth on top. I leave the hot water jar in the ice chest, but on top of the cloth. Set the ice chest somewhere quiet, where no one will be using it for a sled, wagon, step stool or bully pulpit. After 4 hours get the yogurt out and put in fridge.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

No No! I Don't Want To!

Because of our Mennonite -ness I've always been a bit of a home maker/sewer/cooker but there are LIMITS!
Or so I thought...

When I was a teen I baked bread and fell in love with anything made with yeast and flour, BUT

you can buy good bread at the store.

Or so I thought, until I spoiled my children and my husband with home made bread.

Then it was

"Mom isn't there any bread around here? Good bread I mean."

And their thankfulness after a week or two of store-bought bread was enough to spur me on...
that and I happen to like good home made bread too!

Then it was cereal, my hubby likes to keep his sugar intake down and a large selection of low sugar boxed breakfast cereal is not readily available. He gets tired of shredded wheat and the "Mom's Best" brand of Oat Clusters is no where to be found.

So then there is granola or baked oatmeal.

THEN people started talking about their wonderful home made yogurt.

NO!  NO!  I told one person that I refuse to make it because I'm sure my children will like it then...

"mom where's the yogurt?"

That was until we went to NY and my sister-in-law had her yogurt set on the table for breakfast.

"Here Chris, taste this."

NOW I'm making yogurt....about a gallon a week.

Made out of whole milk fresh from the's quite good and economical at $3 a gallon plus the price of the "starter" yogurt

               Last night we had the Christmas program  and they all got dressed in fancy duds.

This morning my hubby asked me to stop by the store and pick up some good quality hand lotion.
"Can't have glycerine in it because of the wood."
They banned some hand lotion at his job because the wooden doors absorb it and then when the stain dept tries to stain the doors there are funny marks where the glycerine soaked into the wood first.

so off I went...Burt's Bees has a lotion without glycerine for the tune of $8.99 for 2 oz  and Watkins has a similar lotion for $7.99.

Now I'm researching lotion recipes.  I think this one looks simple and I think I can make a bunch of lotion for $9.00

Oh and I bought fabric today  at $5  a bolt you can't go far wrong.

         this one has fine little holes like a screen....not sure but maybe a pocket on a tote....landscape

Monday, December 8, 2014


Tis the month of December and wild ideas abound
Burlap flowers one Saturday morning with a friend

An outgrown t-shirt made into a 12" pillow for a friend's daughter
Dresses for the Christmas program are still in progress, wool sweaters lie in wait,
books on fleece creations on loan from the library
minutes fly while answering time wasting questions--

"Mom, how do I keep walking when I sneeze?"
"Because you heart stops beating when you sneeze."

PLEASE! when you tell my children"facts" please check  them out first!

 This bit of a science experiment made an impression...
a ping pong ball will float but a heavier one.....?
Well what do you think Shekinah?

 Get togethers with friends
good food and fellowship
and "my how you have grown!"

Shekinah will keep us young from laughing for a very long time. She will also be the fault of near-irreverence in church on too many occasions...we had the smuggled harmonica, smart remarks and a little stubborn girl who crawled under the  bench when we were sitting in the back row. We pretended we didn't know who was dancing in the aisle behind us.

Yesterday she was at it again. She was sitting beside me on the appropriate part of her anatomy for once. I glanced at her and smiled, she looked up at me adoringly and reached for my face..."here mom let me get that, you have a booger in there."
I quickly got a tissue and dabbed at my nose.
" no mom, it's still there!"

These occasions make it easy to forgive her stormy "I don't love anyone in THIS house."
and it seems she forgives me she needs to interrupt serious adult conversations with "mommy, I love you!"

oh and 2 of the kittens are back

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Twas the Day before Thanksgiving

  This quilt was delivered on Monday. Before you get any ideas, these are orders and I don't think up the color or the design. I just follow orders. Sometimes I am thankful that I can give that disclaimer, but other times I wish I had all those great ideas. The color does not show right on this picture. The sash between the "flying geese" should be a brownish gray...very old looking. The purple and "rust" are true to the real color.
   Fitting gloves on our little girl's hands poses some challenges so this year I drew around her hand and made gloves out of a felted wool sweater that I had picked up at Goodwill. She was delighted to get to use them in the snow today. I was pleased with how well the fabric kept her hands dry considering she was carrying a "pet" snowball around for about 40 minutes.
Yes for the record we had about 3" of wet snow/slush today...too wet for the snow blower to toss off the drive.

Now early to rise and to put the turkey in the oven.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thankful Post--Comedy at 11:20 PM

Last night Zeke went to a local church with the youth group and then was going on to one of the youth leader's homes for snack afterward. He was traveling on all familiar territory, so I wasn't too worried.   Ben was off in the opposite direction for a meeting.

Around 10:00 I heard someone come home, I had fallen asleep on the girls' floor so I got myself into bed. It crossed my mind that someone came home a little early (In our area 11 PM is curfew for the under 18's)  I usually can tell who came home when they crawl into bed, one of the bed creaks more than the other....hmm I believe it was Ben. Meeting must have been over a bit early.

I dozed off, at 11:20 PM Ben came into our room, "mom where is Zeke?  His car isn't here and his phone is on the desk."
Groan--he must have forgotten his phone...did he get lost?  Did he get confused on those crazy back roads? Did he even have the GPS with him?

Ben:  "I'll text the youth leader's son and ask if Zeke forgot the time."

Dad came up,  " Andrew says Zeke's brakes gave out on his car, Tim took him home a while ago."

A few moments later   "umm Zeke is sleeping in his bed."

In the morning...."yeah I sent you a text, wasn't sure if I should call at that time of the night, nothing you could do anyway."   Dad had heard the text notification, but "couldn't figure out your phone."(it is a strange phone)

Thankfully the brakes gave out just as he parked at the church and the afterward was close by so he decided to take it easy and go there. After church today dad and Zeke went to check it out...looks like the squirrels struck again, the brake line had a hole in it.

Squirrels= fuel pump twice and brake line once

We relocated about five of them, but there must have been one still waiting out there.

I also wanted to post something Zeke read at our  Thanksgiving themed mid-week church:   

Today in America we have so many things to be thankful for, but because we have so much, we take a lot of those things for granted.
 We just start thinking of them as things that we deserve, and lose the thankfulness that we should have for them. 
We are extremely blessed to live in a country that allows Christians to worship freely, but we get used to it and take it for granted. We forget that this freedom of religion is not allowed in many other countries, and Christians in other countries are risking their lives to serve God. 
We must not forget what a blessing that this is.
 We have no fear of being sent to jail for what we believe. But instead of being thankful for the persecution that we have been spared, we end up complaining about how bad the government is. The government is changing and becoming more secular, but we still have much more freedom than many other countries around us.
 Another thing that I am thankful for is the Christian heritage we have. Our traditions and our Mennonite culture are not things to forget about and I am thankful for them because many other people just don't have that type of positive culture around them. I am thankful for my parents who brought me up to love and serve God and taught me to know what I believe. 

I'm thankful for my siblings who make life interesting. I don't know if I would be able to concentrate on anything without noise in the background.

 God has also blessed us all with so many possessions. None of us are at risk of going hungry or without a house to live in. In America, we have some of the best living conditions in the world and other resources that many other people just don't have.
 I am thankful for the time that we live in where we can travel almost anywhere in the world within 24 hours, and we can communicate with other people who are thousands of miles away.

 God has blessed us so much with our possessions and our resources but we forget about them and start complaining that we don't have a new phone or a nicer car or a bigger house or whatever. Lets remember what we have and stop worrying about we don't have. 
We have a day for thanksgiving, and then the day after, we have black Friday, a day not of being content with what we have but a day to go out and buy things that we do not need.
 Thanksgiving is a good time for us to remember all of the things we have, but we should not limit it to one day; we need to remember to be thankful during the whole year.