Friday, August 21, 2009

Squash Cookies (or Pumpkin)

Dan's mom sent me this recipe one time, so since I have a few squash stashed here and there, I made some the other day. With 4 little helpers. Luckily I didn't forget anything. :) And, they were really good! I think I had made them before with pumpkin, but I like them even better with squash. I'm sure zucchini would work just the same.

Squash (or Pumpkin) Cookies

2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 cups squash or pumpkin

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla

4 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

2 cups raisins

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Beat together sugar, squash, oil, and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix. Blend in raisins and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Yield: 7 dozen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not Lazy, Lazy, Not Lazy

One Saturday morning after a good rain, Dan went out to check the garden. I was in the house shredding zucchini (yay, food processor!) to put in the freezer. Meanwhile I was heating up water in a big pot on the stove so I could blanche corn and put it in the freezer. As I was finishing up the zucchini, one of the kids came in and said, "Daddy says the beans need to be picked." Inwardly, I groaned, but I turned off the stove and went out.

Now flash back to last fall when Dan was pre-ordering the seeds. I said oh, let's get green beans. Dan said, "Are you going to pick them?" Oh sure, I said. Flash forward again to this summer and the NINE rows of beans. That I have picked on multiple occasions. So here I am picking beans in the mud (and yes, they really did need to be picked) while the kids are watching and eating beans. Dan was busy picking the rest of the garden. And for the record, I got to the freezing of the corn that afternoon and Dan helped do all of it. Ooh, I just had a vision! Flash forward a few years and there I am saying, okay kids, let's go pick the beans. And I leisurely pick my row while the kids do the rest. :)

And here is that sweet little Anne, munching on a green bean. They sure do taste good right out of the garden.

Now we get to the lazy man's (or woman's) way. Last Friday, I went out to pick beans and I picked away for a while. The plants were starting to shrivel up and die in spots. Dan had the brilliant idea to just pull up all the bean plants and then pick the beans off, since they were pretty much done anyway.

So then I got to sit in my lawn chair and pick beans! The kids all had to go get their chairs and "help," but they mostly just ate them.

Back to the not lazy part. While the kids were napping, Dan and I cut off all the stems, and washed the beans. Here are most of them:
If those plastic tubs look familiar to you, they probably are. They came from the hospital, with each child's birth, you know, the tub of stuff they send home with you. They are handy with all of this produce.

Dan fired up the turkey fryer burner and blanched the beans outside. When he brought each batch in, I put it in an ice-water bath. We went through a lot of ice. Luckily, I had remembered to fill up some Cool Whip containers with water and stick them in the freezer to make extra ice.
After the beans cooled off, I drained them and then put them into freezer bags. I put a pound of green beans in each bag and we got 19 bags that day. A successful green bean harvest!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zucchini Pancakes

Okay, this one is for all of you with a little excess zucchini, who might be a smidgeon tired of the grilled or sauted style.

I found the recipe in Woman's Day and it is called Zucchini Cakes, but I told the kids they were corn cakes, as they are getting tired of zucchini.

Zucchini (Corn) Cakes

1 shredded small zucchini (I used a little over a cup)
I box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk

Microwave the shredded zucchini on medium-high for 2 minutes and let drain. Mix the zucchini, cornbread mix, egg and milk together and let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a pan (or you could use a griddle) to a medium temp. Drop heaping Tbsps. of the batter into the pan. They cook quickly so keep a close eye on them and flip when done on the first side. When brown on both sides remove to a plate and cover so they stay warm. Serve warm. It makes about 14 pancakes. We just ate them plain and everybody liked them. I definitely will use this one again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Today Should Have Been The Day

Today, August 15th, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was also supposed to have been my due date. This week especially I have been missing our little baby, realizing anew that I will never get to hold her here on this earth. But, the reunion in Heaven will be so sweet. I just have to make sure that I get there!
Here is what Dan's brother has been building for us this summer, with Dan's help. It is not finished yet, but I wanted you all to see it because it is in memory of Mary Joseph. Dan will do some landscaping around the grotto when it is finished.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

Mary Joseph, pray for us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Baptism Day, Dominic and Anne!

Here are Anne and Dominic the morning of their baptism, at 12 days old. Dominic had a big blow-out not long after this picture, and even trashed his little socks, the only clean white pair I had that would actually stay on his feet. Which is why you'll see his tiny little bare feet sticking out in the pictures to follow. He was 5# 11oz at birth (Anne was 6# 8oz), so I didn't have many clothes that fit him. I don't know why. Was I thinking he was going to be huge? Of course, it's not like I had time to do any shopping after they were born. :)

My brother, Fr. Brian, did the baptism, which was really nice. Here he is anointing Anne's head with the chrism oil.

Here is our family at the time. Catherine was just 20 months old, so we had 3 under 2 years old. Whew! That was a crazy time! Don't Dominic's feet just look tiny in this picture? And don't you just love long baptismal gowns that cover up the big Momma pooch?

Dominic is wearing the Brungardt baptism gown, which any boy that we have will wear.

Anne is wearing the gown that my mom made when Catherine was born. It will now be for any girls.
What a wonderful day that was! We thank God for Dominic and Anne, two of our precious blessings!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Small Successes - 30

1) I went from this:

To this:

To this: Nine bags of green peppers now in the freezer! In case you are wondering, I first froze them on a tray, then transferred them to the bags, so they wouldn't freeze in a big clump. And I'm not sure why some of the peppers turned purple, they taste the same as the others.

2) I tried a new recipe - Fried Cucumbers! We have an abundance of cukes and you can only eat so many of them raw. I'd make pickles, but they are too big for that.

Here's what I did:

Slice 2 cucumbers and lay them on a towel to absorb extra moisture. I peeled mine but I don't think you'd have to. Heat approx. 1/2 cup vegetable oil in frying pan to medium-high. Mix one egg with a little milk in a shallow dish and put a cup of flour mixed with salt in another dish. Dip each cucumber slice in turn first in the egg, then in the flour and place in the hot oil. Fry on each side for a couple minutes and then let cool on paper towels. They were pretty good! Definitely something different to do with cucumbers. Next time I might try some seasoned salt in with the flour or maybe a batter instead.

3) One thing new to us when we moved out to the country was our big propane tank out in the yard on the side of the house. We don't have access to natural gas, so we use propane for our heater, for the water heater, and for the stove. As you can imagine, we use a lot in the winter, but not much in the summer. Over the past year, whenever the 500 gallon tank got low, I called and a few days later the big propane truck came out and filled it up. When August rolls around, you have the opportunity to sign a contract for so many gallons at a lower, fixed rate. If you prepay. I knew the deadline was approaching, so I found our receipts from this past year (which took a little while, as my filing system still isn't in shape from our move a year ago - maybe that can be on next week's list!), from which I could calculate how many gallons we used in a year. Then this morning I sat down with the contract and realized I needed to get it in the mail today, so I took care of it, after a phone call to Dan to decide for sure how many gallons we wanted for the next year. Cross that off my list of things to do!

Go to Faith and Family Live to read more Small Successes!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Does It Say...

about your house,

when you go to visit your parents,

and the first words out of your husband's mouth when he walks in the door are,

"Wow, it is so clean in here!"

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's a Plot!

Dominic and Joseph were playing with Play-Doh and Dominic said:

"We're making cookies."

Mommy: "Can I have one?"

Dominic: "No, they're yucky. They're for the bad guys!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's a Corn Party!

This was Dan's first year growing corn and he did very well. We had two kinds of corn and each stalk had one or two ears on it. I'm not sure how many ears we had altogether (Dan could probably tell you), but it was in the hundreds.

These pictures are from the first evening that Dan picked corn. This one is a really cute picture of Dominic, who was excited to stand in between the rows. Click on it and you can see a close-up of his expression and those little dirty toes.
"Look, Daddy, the bucket is getting full!"

"Wow, look at all that corn! What are we going to do with it?"

"Okay, kids, here's what you do."

Catherine, Dominic, and Anne dug right in, but Joseph is not sure about all of this.

All shucked and ready to go:

So let's fire up the grill and get the pot going!

It's a corn party!
"Daddy, we ate all the corn. Can we pick some more?"

Another successful corn harvest:
Over the past few weeks, we've eaten a lot of "corn on the cobbage," and I've gotten twenty 3cup bags into the freezer (blanched and cut off the cob). We also decided to try freezing some on the cob, so I have about 30 whole ears in the freezer, too. And we have one sack of corn on the cob left in the fridge to eat, so it is almost done for this year. It was fun while it lasted!

Zucchini Galore

Here is a shot of one of our hauls from the garden. Every few days we get several buckets full of produce. Which is great! Except then I have to figure out what to do with it all.
Luckily, we got our new upright freezer just in time, and I went to work on a bucketful of zucchini. Here it is shredded (in the food processor) and bagged in 2 cup increments and ready for the freezer. This winter I will use it in spaghetti sauces and anything else I might want to put extra veggies into. :)

And of course, it will also get used in zucchini bread. As you can see, I just had to sample it before I even took a picture. It was good and those 2 loaves are long gone!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dominic and Anne!

Dominic and Anne turned four over the weekend and we celebrated all day yesterday! When they woke up and we said, "Happy Birthday!" they had the biggest smiles. Of course, Dominic wanted to eat cake for breakfast, but settled for opening a present after breakfast, with Joseph intently watching:A new yo-yo! (He broke the last one a while ago)

Anne was very excited to open a toy diaper bag full of goodies for her babies. As soon as she opened it, she said, "Catherine, we can share this!"

She immediately went into action and put a very large diaper on Pink Baby:

We went to Sunday morning Mass and ate donuts afterwards. When we got back home, the kids all got to watch a movie ("Popeye," chosen by Anne and Dominic, or as they call it, "Pie-Pie"), while I got lunch ready. Then, after lunch, we finally got to eat some birthday cake! Anne had a princess cake and Dominic had a robot cake. So the girls ate Anne's cake and the boys ate Dominic's cake.

Then it was time for more presents:

One more shot of Dom:
This was followed by naps, much playing with new toys, a visit from cousins with a cook-out/corn-on-the-cob party, and of course more birthday cake.
Then, at bedtime, Anne said, "Mommy, will it still be my birthday when I wake up?" I told her no, and disappointed, she said, "My birthday was too short!" Oh, but there will be lots of playing with new toys all week.
Hmm, I think I'm feeling a toy purge coming on. Shh! Don't tell the kids.

One Year Ago

One year ago from this past Saturday, we moved into this house on 8 acres. It's hard to believe it's already been one year! We asked the kids if they wanted to move back to the old house and we got a resounding, "NO!!" I think they like it here. What little kid wouldn't? They've got a huge backyard to play in, crazy paths and a clubhouse out in the big field, a bigger front yard they can actually play in without me worrying about all of the city suburb traffic whizzing by, and lots of sticks and dirt to play with (toys, too, of course :) ). We've seen lots of rabbits, turtles, deer, and all kinds of birds and bugs. Of course, some of the wildlife adventures weren't quite so grand (skunks), but still exciting.

Dan really enjoys getting outside to do work on our land, whether it be mowing, working in the garden, or building a clubhouse(to be blogged about soon, hopefully). Speaking of the garden, we are having a bountiful harvest, which is one reason why I haven't been blogging much lately.

I enjoy being able to walk outside with the kids, going for walks on our own land or just watching the kids play. It is peaceful and relaxing, and I like being able to see so much of the surrounding countryside from every direction. We still get to see our friends from town and I have long ago gotten used to driving a little farther to get groceries and other things. The sad spot of our year here was the loss of our little Mary Joseph to miscarriage, but we have the room on our land to create a memorial spot for her, which Dan and his brother have been working on this summer (to be blogged about soon, as well).

So, are we glad we moved out here?

Yes, Yes, and Yes!