Friday, October 29, 2010

Shea Butter and Aloe Extravaganza

Still going strong with the hair gel/body lotion/lip balm . . .

So I don't know why, but shea butter hair gel always turns out to be an early morning creation for me.  The kids were all (all--yes, Abigail is finally sleeping through the night!!!) still asleep, I woke up early, we were out of lotion/hair gel, and I decided that today was the day.  I can't find the original site with the recipe I used the first time, but apparently this isn't exactly a secret formula, because I found the same basic combo again easily on another site (and I don't follow their recipes anyway, I'm not a measuring kind of gal). 

You basically need shea butter, which I bought in an excessively large quantity from a somewhat dubious website that came through for me, aloe, and a drizzle of olive oil.

I dug out about a two cup solid chunk of the shea from my "bag o' shea" and put it in a small metal bowl (one that fits over my saucepan).  I filled the saucepan with about 2 inches of water and put the burner on high.  Then I set the metal bowl with the shea over top. 

I squeezed the juice out of three or four big aloe "leaves" from the plant in my kitchen.

Then I added a drizzle of olive oil and stirred briskly with a fork as the shea melted into a liquid.

I poured the blend into the jars you see above.  I use this as a lotion for myself and the kids.  I put it on Abigail if she gets diaper rash.  And Owen uses it as hair gel (it's great because it doesn't flake and build up like over the counter hair products).  My hair is too fine, so I don't usually use anything in my hair, though I've used a scant amount (left after applying to my hands) to smooth a ponytail on occasion.

I don't know if you've seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," one of the funniest movies of all time, but we use this lotion like her father in that movie uses Windex.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mom Joke


How do you know when you took too many kids to your adult doctor appointment?


When you have to explain to them at check-out that you don't have the sign-out paper because it fell in the toilet, and when they chase you out of the office to tell you that you forgot your crayons.


Avoid my doctor until those people forget me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Does it get any cuter?

OK, seriously, wow!  Is she a cutie or what?! 

(You're pretty cute, too, Owen.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot!

We've been growing jalepenos, and I have no idea what to do with them because Jesse complains that food is to hot if I just add black pepper.  If he gets a speck of actual hot pepper he does a real performance: "Too hot, too hot!" (grabs at mouth wildly, mom and dad in the background shouting, "Drink water, drink water!").

So while I can't resist growing hot peppers, I haven't been able to figure out how to use them in anything.  So they have sat and withered on my counter.  On an inspiration, I put them one on the back of my stove while the oven was in use and left it there (it gets pretty hot on the back of the stovetop when I use the oven).  It dried out.  So I put a few more back there until they were all shriveled up and dried.  Tonight for pizza night I decided to test my dream: I thought I'd make some hot pepper flakes.  I put the shriveled dry peppers in the food processer and made flakes!  Look!

The container is borrowed, the flakes are mine.

Harvesting Limas in the City

So how many urbanites could report picking lima beans last weekend?  I mentioned it in a previous post, but felt that pictures were needed to capture such a cool event from our fall.  We didn't get too many (for some reason, heat? stinkbugs?) we didn't get any crop until October.  Here's the harvest and a picture of the boys in front of the overgrown lima bean teepee in our neighbors' backyard (they offered to let us extend our garden into their yard--we split the booty).  Fun times, I still can't believe it!  Do you know how much they charge for these in the farmer's market?  I figure we grew at least $10 worth, even with most of the season being a flop.  Urban gardening . . . gotta love it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Unusual Dinner Inspiration . . . to a Seasonal Feast

I forgot to take a picture of dinner . . . but it was really rather a local seasonal veggie feast, if anyone would care to try to replicate any of it without visual stimulation.  I realize no one cooks from recipes they can't see a picture of, but I'm going to describe it anyway, and just kick myself for taking no pictures.  I mean, really, when the three and five year-old are carrying the plates and glasses (full) and silverware to the dining room table, and I'm running into that scary too-late-the-kids-will-probably-wet-the-bed dinner hour, and Owen's getting in later than usual, and the three month-old is about 15 min. past ripe for a nap, I can't imagine how I forget to photograph our food before we eat it.

The Background . . .

So we actually grew some lima beans this year in my neighbor's yard (thank you, Jean and Scott).  They watched me frantically cultivating my 1/1000 of an acre (or so) of land and offered to let me use part of their garden (their yard is about four times larger than ours).  I said, "Hmm, how about lima beans?  We could split the crop."  And lima beans it was.  My mom started the vines from seed, and we planted about five plants at the base of big poles making a teepee.

The teepee soon became covered with leaves and vine, occasionally even flowers.  But by August, we had nary a bean.  It wasn't until September that we started seeing some, but they weren't big enough to pick.  But on Sunday we finally realized the beans were big enough to pick.  So the neighors banded together for a good ol' city-dwellers bean pickin'.  We got enough for about a small pot of beans each--and there may be about that many in two weeks again.  Anyway, these beans were in very different size categories, ranging from babies to big chokey pig food (as Owen described some of them).  Jesse and I separated them into two piles and combined them with some we had bought from the farmer's market.  I was left with a small pot of big hoggy limas that I knew I couldn't just boil (well, ok, I tried to anyway out of laziness and they were gross).

The Inspiration . . .

So the inspiration for the entire meal was basically chokey lima beans.  I realized that the "big ones" were probably tasting close to the rehydrated dried ones they put in baked lima beans, a dish they sell at the local grocery store in Lancaster.  So, unable to follow a recipe to save my life, after browsing through recipes of baked lima beans and not liking any of them, I made one up:
Baked Lima Beans

Boil fresh (or overnight-soaked dried) lima beans in salty water for about 20 minutes or until soft. 
While boiling, cut up leeks or scallions (I used leeks) into thin slices.
Strain and put beans into a small casserole dish.  Add leeks.
Pour tomato sauce (homemade or store bought will work) over beans.
Add a dollop of maple syrup and stir mixture.
Bake for at least an hour.

I don't measure, but I had a small pot of beans, and I added 2 leeks and about 15 oz. of sauce and a few tablespoons of syrup.
The Spaghetti Squash

Now it so happens that I bought a spaghetti squash about a month ago, and while it looked very fall-like sitting on my counter, I thought I might just want to go ahead and cook it with the beans.  So that I threw in the oven whole, with holes poked in it, with the beans.  I will say that next time I will revert to hacking it in half and removing the seeds first and baking faces down in an inch of water like I did last time, it took too long this way.  It's really easy to remove the strands of squash with a fork and it really does look like angel hair pasta.  Hmm, maybe they should call it angel hair squash.  I salted the squash and tossed it with butter, parmesan cheese, and chives.

The Roasted Potatoes

Not too profound.  I wanted a starch.  I cut up small red and yellow potatoes in small chunks, put them in a roasting pan (uncovered), tossed them with olive oil, salt, rosemary, and a few tablespoons of water, and roasted them next to the squash and the beans.

The Main Dish . . . 

Then I thought, oh dear, I'm running out of time and I need a main meal.  Luckily, I had meatballs in the freezer.  My friend Rachel had wowed me with a meatball in barbecue sauce kind of dish, so I thought I'd wing it and try for something similar.  The meatballs were made of ground beef and cornmeal and onion and egg, and they'd been in the freezer for a good long time since I'd made extra with spaghetti some months back.  I took them out of the freezer, and put them in a small glass baking dish.  I covered them with tomato sauce.  Then I sauteed red onion and green pepper in a saucepan and mixed that in with the sauce.  Finally I sweetened it with a little maple syrup.  I put it in the oven until it heated through.

We ate all this in the dining room, the height of fancy living at my house.  The kids call it eating at a restaurant when we do it.  Sad commentary on our kitchen-centered life perhaps.  :)  It was great!  I thought I'd share it in case anyone else wants to try something similar.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pizza Night!

Seasonal pizza, here we go!  So, I've highlighted the seasonal pizza Fridays in the past as a really great way to eat local and with variety (I got my idea from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver).  With the birth of little Abigail, pizza night was abandoned.  It's returned now for the second week in a row.  Here's tonight's, play by play:

Step One:  Slice up tomatoes (while we've still got 'em) and spread over a raw pizza dough (this one is stone ground whole wheat from Trader Joe's, refrigerated section).
These were Mr. Stripey yellow tomatoes, two of the few that escaped the clutches of my squirrel arch-rival.

Step Two:  Fresh basil (still going strong in the garden)

Steps Three and Four:  Mozzarella cheese, torn and arranged; red peppers.

Step Five:  Red onions sliced as thinly as possible (sweet when baked).

Steps Six, Seven, and Eight:  Broccoli; Mushrooms.  Bake at 425 deg. for ~15 min.

Yum!  Serve!

Finally, Boys' Room is Complete!

So, finally, after much delay, we have completed the boys' bedroom.  Their room is now the beautiful sky-blue the boys wanted (thank you, Uncle Jack!), the alphabet letters are covered in contact paper and hanging on the clothesline I had envisioned (though it's cheaper, I see on the link, than when I purchased it), the boat and pictures are hanging, and their room FINALLY looks great.  It took a while for me to get the results posted, but with me, if it rains, it pours.  And since I've finally started posting again, I thought I'd put the pictures up.  Today was a good day to get pictures of it since it's actually sunny.  

How annoying.  Why are Micah's shoes on the dresser?  They would be there the one time I take a picture of it.

Go Phillies!

While I make no pretense of following the games, I know the Phillies are doing reasonably well this year.  And we have some team shirts over here and thought we'd post a good luck message:

Go Phillies!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yucky, I mean beneficial, larvae on my compost . . .

OK, so we don't have a picture because I had Owen wash them all off the outside of the compost bin before we researched it, but it turns out the largish larvae on our compost bin are probably not leeches or anything scary.  We think they are the larvae of the black soldier fly, often bought to feed to pets or to help break down compost in bins.  Wow, and to think, we got them for free . . .

It's pretty gross being green sometimes, especially when the adults of this lovely larvae are really annoying and weird looking pests we get in our windows all the time.  But I will say, our compost is doing really well!