First I am going to apologize for this not being a recipe and for my not writing as often as I want. Second I am going to be completely unapologetic about what I am going to write about. I am going to be candid and most people, especially in this country, are not going to like it. Nearly one year ago my mother died. She was sick for about a year or two before that so my children will probably not remember the woman I knew especially my two younger boys. She was not my first loss and she will not be my last. I am fully aware that I and everyone I love can and will die. There I said it. We are all going to die! Even my husband when I, once again, told him we need a will asked me what happened. Nothing has to happen to understand a basic fact of life. He acted as though I just told him some horrible news. Throughout this year I have noticed a truth about this country. We like to pretend that we aren’t going to die. We like to use terms like “closure” and expect people to “move on”. When did we forget that grief has never really ends and once that connection with that person is lost you never get over it. I remember asking my father how he was doing and he said that nobody wanted to talk about it and expected him to be past it already. This was barely a month after losing his wife of 35 years. I wanted to go scream at these people. I have wanted to scream at a lot of people this year. Why are we so uncomfortable with emotions and death and grief but putting violent whores on television is just fine? When did we stop understanding what being human means? We feel intensely. We cry, we rage, we care, and we love and we feel loss. Every time I see somebody in a store shopping with their elderly mother I tear up. I wonder if they understand how precious this everyday thing is. I wonder what my mother would have looked like as an old woman. Some people make think it harsh but I am raising my children with no illusions as to death. I don’t think we need another generation of people who pretend it will never happen to them. I think we need a generation who appreciates every second that they get of life and understand that death is natural but grieving is hard. I laugh at the “steps of grief” because they are so ridiculous. Grief is sneaky and just when you think you are doing okay it sneaks up and hits you over the head. You can’t follow steps like you were programming a VCR or something you just try and make it from one day to the next. I try to live as though I might not get tomorrow but I still have hopes for the future. I almost feel sorry for my husband and others who can’t face death or haven’t had a deep loss. They just don’t understand the true beauty of life and the reality that it is not forever. I don’t get too upset over this though because I don’t really get overly angry over anything anymore. In the big picture not much more than making sure I have raised my boys right and they know how much I love them is important. When you lose someone you lose yourself and you almost have to reinvent who you are. It is especially hard for me because I look and sound just like my mom. I look in the mirror and see a younger version of her looking back at me and I am sad that she never truly thought she was beautiful. I regret living so far apart that the boys did not get to know her and my youngest will probably have no memories of her at all. I am hoping to leave my boys with few regrets but I know that is nearly impossible. At my age I don’t think my mom was thinking she only had nineteen more years and what was she going to do in that time but that is how I think now. I understand how my husband thinks I am depressed or morbid because our culture makes thinking this way taboo but I won’t change. If this post does nothing else maybe it will make you reconsider what is really important to you and maybe you will go call or hug those you love. I am going to go cuddle my boys; even the nearly 10-year-old one who is 80 pounds is getting put on my lap!
I would be untruthful if I said that going all organic and homemade was easy but I sure do feel better and my skin is looking great. I am slimmer than before without working out or dieting and my kids are way better behaved. This was never more noticeable than the day my oldest got his braces off. I caved and bought them some candy. After eating the candy they were awful! Fighting and hitting each other and being really loud and uncontrollable. Now don’t go blaming sugar folks because the cantaloupe cake, which I will give a recipe for, has a lot of sugar in it and they didn’t behave that way after eating it. Nope, has to be all the other things in that candy. Never again. Not sure what I will do about trick or treating this year. Need to think about that one. I know it seems like I have all the time in the world but really I am just an overachiever so to make things easier I premake a lot of things and freeze them. Our freezers are my saving grace. I make biscuits in a smaller than normal size in quadruple batches and then freeze them after baking. Thirty seconds in the microwave and I have an easy breakfast. When I make waffles I do a double batch and then freeze those too. Toasted in the toaster and they are way better than commercial brands and cheaper too. I baked a bunch of carrot cupcakes and mini chocolate chip muffins and froze them for the boys’ school lunches and I premade some mini turkey burgers for them too. My mom taught me to always make a weekly menu to save money at the grocery store and I always preplan the boys’ lunches also to make it easier so I am not scrambling in the morning to figure out what to feed them. I sort of despaired today when I had such a short list of items to buy and getting everything was $92. Then I looked up how much the government says that feeding a family of five generally costs and it is $182 so I guess $92, I didn’t include the cat food in this, on all organic food to get us through the week is not so bad. I love that our Kroger is putting out more of their store brand organic products every week. I like that I don’t have to make an hour long trip to go to Whole Foods just to shop for organics. Plus the store brand is much cheaper than most of what I would get at Whole Foods although I really do love shopping there. Anyhow, back to how I am making this work for the kids. To appease the four-year-old and his macaroni and cheese addiction I had to come up with a way to easily make it without having to make a sauce and pasta at a moment’s notice. I know that they make organic boxes of it but it tastes bad so I scoured the internet for ideas on freezing it and this is what I came up with. This is going to make a huge amount but you are going to freeze it in muffin tins and then you get about 40 individual, small, servings! Just warm them up and you have a meal to please any preschooler or adult!
You will need:
As many muffin tins as you have
Some nonstick spray (Kroger sells an organic store brand of this!)
2 packages (16 oz) of elbow pasta
½ cup of butter
½ cup of flour
Pinch of turmeric (if you don’t have it don’t worry it imparts slight flavor and I use it mainly for the color)
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder
2 cups of milk (warmed to at least room temp you don’t want it really cold. Microwave it if you have to)
6 cups of shredded cheese (any variety is fine you can even slice up cheese slices and throw them in)
1 15 oz jar of alfredo sauce (I could not find an organic variety at the store so I just picked one with the least number of ingredients and no odd chemicals. You do not want homemade I will explain why later)
Get two big pans and boil some water for the pasta in one and melt the butter in another. Once the butter is melted add in the seasonings and let cook just a minute then add in the flour. Stir and toast for a minute or two until it doesn’t smell so much like flour then add in your milk a little at a time. If you warmed up the milk you shouldn’t get any lumps. This is going to look really runny but trust me it will be fine. Now start adding in your cheese a cup at a time and making sure it is melted in before you add more. Once all the cheese is in add the alfredo sauce. When I read all the tips online for freezing it said that the finished product was dry when reheated so the addition of Alfredo sauce which is commercially made to stay liquid will help it to not be so dry when you reheat it. You should now have a very creamy cheese sauce. Follow package directions for the pasta and cook it just until it is tender but not falling apart then drain it and stir it into the cheese sauce. Spray your muffin cups and start spooning in and pressing down the Mac n cheese. If you need to you can store the rest in the refrigerator until the first batch is frozen. I had to do this since I only had two muffin tins.
Once it is frozen pop the Mac n cheese “muffins” out of the tins and put them into a bag or a container and store them in the freezer until you need them. If it should seem too dry you can add a teaspoon or two of milk to the “muffin” when reheating. It will probably take a few of these to satisfy an adult but they are just right for my little guy. Hope this is helpful!
Now for that cantaloupe cake recipe I promised. I don’t have any pictures because this cake never last more than 2 days around here. I found the recipe on somebody else’s blog and she got it from All Recipes website but she made it as bread. I make it as a Bundt cake and it is awesome. We had at least 16 cantaloupes this year and I cut up and froze most of them so I can just pull some out and puree it for this recipe but I made the first one with a fresh melon so either way works fine. If you don’t care of cantaloupe don’t worry because it does not really have the flavor of cantaloupe it is just really moist.
You Will Need:
Greased and floured Bundt pan
1 cup of oil
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of pureed cantaloupe
¾ teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ginger
Heat oven to 325°. Sift the dry ingredients together. Okay I have to admit here that I NEVER do this I just stir the baking powder and baking soda into the wet before adding the flour to make sure it is in there evenly and it works every time but you do what you want here. Mix sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs, and cantaloupe together then stir in the dry. Do not over mix this! Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I let mine cool then mix together powdered sugar and some lemon juice to make a glaze but it is really good plain too.
I apologize for such a gap in posts. I was on vacation with the furry boys and came back with a stomach virus. Not the type of thing that makes you want to eat or cook so I don’t have any new recipes yet. I have also been really busy with our garden. We had a very mild summer with lots of rain and the garden went crazy! We got more than 40 pounds of tomatoes, 15 cantaloupes, 5 pounds of zucchini and eggplant, 10 pounds of peppers, and I am just now bringing in the beans. I have been pickling, canning, and freezing day in and day out. While I was on vacation my husband didn’t eat chili dogs or other junk he ate fresh food and when I came back I made a commitment to eliminate all the processed food from our lives if I could. I can’t really get rid of things like crackers or fruit snacks but I can at least buy organic versions. I did try to make my own fruit snacks but they were just gross and I have enough work without making crackers. I bake my own bread, make my own pitas and tortillas, my own jam, and I am hoping I get a starter kit to try out cheesemaking. I thought about bees but with 3 boys, 3 cats, and a dog I just don’t need more living things to be responsible for so I will just keep paying for local honey. So far it is going really well and we are well on our way to having nothing processed in the house. We have a lot less trash now. I actually saw the trash collector open our can just to check if there was anything in it which made me smile. I feel better already and even though the scale says nothing has changed my clothes are looser. I haven’t gone on any diet or changed what I ate except for not eating anything I didn’t cook myself or buy organic. My husband is slimmer too and the kids are acting a lot better towards each other and seem to have more energy. I know not everyone can or wants to spend hours preparing their own food but if you can make small changes it is really worth it. I will keep you updated on how it goes and I will try to come up with more recipes once I get all this gardening done. Thanks for visiting and please look back at some of my old recipes. The one for my tortillas is in there.
If you love the sweet cream cheese and apple pie like centers of Danishes then this cake is for you. It only made it to the second day with two pieces left because my family descended upon it like locusts. This cake was going to be a banana cake to use up some bananas that the boys begged for but didn’t eat but days went by and I still did not make that cake. Trouble was I hate bananas so it was impossible to be motivated to bake a cake I wouldn’t eat. You can always look up my Banana Pudding Cupcakes if you are disappointed but you will definitely want to try this cake as some point because it is delicious!
For the cream cheese filling:
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
For the apple filling:
2 cups diced apples
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients for the cream cheese filling until it is smooth then you can refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease and flour a Bundt pan. Now take a small pan and place all the ingredients for the apple filling into it and place it over medium heat. When I say some water it is because I added about ¼ a cup at a time of water to the mixture until the apples were tender but not mushy. I recommend using a good baking apple for this. I used Gala and Granny Smith in mine but feel free to use what you like. While this cooks down you can make the cake. Once the apples are tender take this off the heat and allow to cool completely.
For the cake:
3 cups of unbleached flour, or all-purpose, or white wheat
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup apple butter
½ cup milk
Stir together your dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar until light then add your eggs one at a time. Beat the eggs in well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla and apple butter. I used apple butter that I made but unless you have a food mill, which I didn’t, I recommend you don’t drive yourself nuts and just go buy some apple butter. Stir in half the flour mixture then the milk and mix well. Add the rest of the flour and finish mixing in. If your apple filling is done and cool then you can start assembling the cake. You might want to remove the cream cheese filling from the refrigerator once the apple filling is done cooking just to give it time to soften up again. Now pour half the cake batter into your pan and then top it with the apple filling and then the cream cheese. Spread everything out evenly and then add the rest of the cake batter on top. Bake for 50-55 minutes. You can sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top if you like. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for visiting my blog!
Don’t expect me to call you; not even if you are close family. It terrifies me to the point of causing stomach upset. I was never so happy as when the internet saved me from having to order a pizza. Yes, ordering a pizza required at least an hour or two of telling myself that it would be okay. Calling somebody can take me days to do because the fear can just be too much so I think of excuses not to do it.Even texting is nerve racking for me but it is better than an actual phone call. I will write and erase a text several times. This is just part of what life with this disorder is like. I feel sorry for my kids. They bring home invitations for birthday parties or phone numbers for friends they want to go visit and I am scared to call these people. Right now in a drawer is a number for my 6-year-old’s best friend and I just can’t call that number. My husband still doesn’t get it as he is known to ask me to call in food orders or make appointments. You can’t really explain something so totally irrational. I know deep down that nothing horrible will happen if I call my dad, I love talking to him, but it still scares me.
If I missed a class in school or a day of work because I was sick I could hardly bring myself to go back. I was terrified that everyone would be staring and wondering where I had been. In college this caused me to just drop some classes and I never did graduate. I’ve never told anyone the full extent of how bad it really is for me and I am hoping that somebody else out there who has this problem will maybe see this and feel a little better. When I had to go to Texas to say goodbye to my mom I missed a day up at the school when parents go help the teachers. Never did go back to that group. There were too few people in it.
See this is the really weird part. I was in musical productions, choir, and danced in high school. I was even on the debate team doing poetry and prose. I admit the debate team gig was really hard but I knew I would never see those people again so I could do that. With the rest of it I could do it because I couldn’t see the audience or was just one of a large group and could get lost in the crowd. I told you this was irrational! So that is a small taste of what it is like to be me. Here’s hoping none of my boys end up with this.
My mother was the queen of cardboard. She made me a pizza restaurant complete with a table and a stained glass window, a play kitchen so realistic friends tried to use the sink and a mall for my fashion doll that had a French restaurant in it! I am not doing something so ambitious for my first craft posting. I am making a serving tray out of a flat shipping box. You can use any size of box you have but mine was about 19 by 14 inches.
You will need:
1 flat cardboard shipping box
Sharp craft knife
Sealant (I used a combination glue and gloss sealant like Modpodge)
Foam or regular paint brush
Time, a lot
Remove the flaps from the box and measure and mark each long side so you can cut them down by about 2 inches depending on how high your sides are.
Next you need to measure and cut out the handles on your short side.
Now get your glue and brush and glue down the flaps on the bottom of the box. Use a lot of glue because you want it to stick. Weight it down if you need to so that they stick. Then measure and cut out a piece to fill in the hole in the middle of the bottom if you have one. Glue that down.
Now add some glue to the bowl you have, I used a plastic one that I didn’t mind throwing away, then mix in small amount of water until the glue is thinned but not too watery. Start tearing your newspaper into strips then add them a few at a time to the bowl and get them damp. Don’t let them sit in the bowl too long or you will have mush. Start by adding the paper strips to the interior bottom first to help hold down all your flaps and the insert. Try and get everything as flat as possible. It will be messy so be warned! Add strips to the interior edges and then work your way up the sides making sure to reinforce your handles. Take care to have strips wrap from the interior over the sides smoothly so you have finished edges. Don’t worry about being perfect this is only your first layer. Work your way onto the back of the box and once you have the whole box covered in a single layer let it dry unside down. You may have to flip the box right side up then back again over the next few days to make sure the handles don’t warp. Once it is dry you can add the next layer of paper strips. Same procedure as last time taking care to get the interior corners and sides really smooth and the handles reinforced. Let it dry again and this time you might have to use a trick with string and clothespins. My sides were so wet they were falling out so I used two clothespins clipped to the sides and a string to pull them towards each other.
Once dry you have a decision to make. Is this going to be used as an actual serving tray or just décor? Do I want to paint this or cover it in paper? If you are going to use the try to serve things on then test it out to see if it can withstand something weighty. If it can then fine but if it can’t then you need a third layer of paper strips. I told you this takes time but it is FREE! I used a third layer and decided to add an image to the center and paint it out. Unless you are a lot better than I am at getting the strips perfectly flat then expect some bumps in the finished tray. Do not paint it until it is completely dry and then be sure to seal it too prevent water damage. Mine took about a week to make but mostly that is drying time. Hope you like my first craft post!