Friday, August 26, 2011

Archery Practice

Catherine and Dominic practice with bows and arrows.  Too bad all of the arrows and one of the bows have since been broken. :(

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

1st Day of School!

Here were the kids this morning, all ready for their first day of school.  As you can see, shoes and shirts are optional!

The twins at their table, ready for 1st grade!

Mr. Destructo, doing his thing.  It was amazing how quickly he went around and got into everything.  He made things rather difficult, at least until he took a morning nap.  Morning naps for Anthony are not going away for a long time.

Joseph, the pre-K student and Catherine, the big girl 2nd grader.

As you can see, we aren't doing school around the kitchen table anymore.  We have made the big move to the basement.  I've got a new desk, too, which is wonderful.  I think it is going to work out well.  It was very nice not having to move everything on and off the kitchen table. 

An Anne Milestone


Several days ago, Anne came to me and showed me that her loosest tooth was starting to bleed a little.  I encouraged her to wiggle it around and try to pull it out.  This she did, but she could not get it out.  I asked her if I could try to pull it out and she agreed.  I got a tissue, took hold of that tooth and gave a gentle yank.  Much to her surprise (and mine, too), it popped right out!  Talk about one excited little girl.  Her first baby tooth is gone!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Culinary Adventures In Watermelon

Here are some of the watermelon we have picked from our garden this summer.

So one day I went looking for watermelon recipes and I found Watermelon Pie!

It was very easy to make, required no baking, and everyone liked it.  A perfect summer dessert.  Find the recipe here.

Then the other night for dinner, I got even more adventurous:  Minced Pork and Watermelon Lettuce Wraps.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but they were pretty tasty.  The kids all ate them, even Anthony!  Find the recipe here.

Funny story:  As I was making the above dinner, the kids were sitting at the kitchen table doing some art, and I told them the ingredients as I added them in.  I got to Hoisin Sauce and the kids all yelled:  "Poison Sauce!?!"  Heh, heh, heh.  Watch out if you come to dinner at our house.  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

17 Month Old Anthony!

One of Anthony's latest things is putting on other people's belongings.  Here he is sporting a pink ball cap (on backwards, that's how he likes them) and a pair of broken sunglasses.  The kids thought this was hilarious, as did I. 

Our funny Anthony.  I don't know what he's got in his mouth, probably something he picked up off the floor.  See those two teeth breaking through on the bottom?  They've been causing me trouble for a while.

Anthony's current names for the kids:
Catherine - Ahbah
Dominic - Nuhnuh
Anne - Eeeeeee
Joseph - Zheezhee

He tells on them, too.  If they do something he thinks is wronging him, he will come to me, point back in their direction, loudly say their name (as above), and jabber on "telling" me all about it.  It's hard not to laugh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sauerkraut Making: Part Three

Our first ever batch of sauerkraut sat in the fermenting pot for 3 weeks and 2 days.  Since it had to be at a somewhat cooler temperature, we kept it in the downstairs bathroom with the door shut, which kept the room at 68 degrees.  We had read that it can get stinky making sauerkraut, but we could not smell a thing using the fermenting pot!

Here is Anne with a bowl of raw sauerkraut.  We put almost a gallon of sauerkraut straight into the fridge.

Catherine samples the sauerkraut.

The twins take a taste test.

Joseph likes it, too!  All the kids liked it fairly well.

While Anthony was taking his afternoon nap, Dan and I prepared the rest of the sauerkraut for canning.  Here is the setup.  See the lobster pot of boiling water on the turkey fryer base?  Dan figured that out when we did our first canning a couple years ago.  It fits 7 quart jars, heats up quickly, and keeps the heat out of the kitchen.

We warmed up batches of sauerkraut on the grill burner.

Then we packed it into the hot jars.

After I put on the lids and rings, Dan put the jars in the boiling water for 20 minutes.  Here are the 13 jars that this first batch made. 

One type of Reuben sandwich we made: Toasted Rye bread, Swiss cheese, Tomatoes from our garden, and our Sauerkraut.  Oh, were they good! 

We've also done sauerkraut with bacon; sauerkraut with polish sausage, fried apples and onions; and sauerkraut on hotdogs.  All of these were delicious.  And a second batch of shredded cabbage is currently sitting in the fermenting pot, turning into more yummy sauerkraut.  It tastes much better than the store-bought kind!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making Sauerkraut: Part Two

A very useful item for making sauerkraut is a fermenting pot, pictured above.  This was delivered to our house one day earlier this summer.

One night after the kids went to bed, Dan and I got to work preparing the cabbage to go into the fermenting pot.  Here is our equipment.

Some of the cabbages.

I washed them, peeled off the outer layers and cut them into quarters.  Then I cut out the cores.

Dan used the mandolin slicer set on shred to get all the cabbage shredded.  Much faster than shredding it with a knife!

Here's all the shredded cabbage, 18 heads worth.  Wow, that's a lot!

Then working in 5 pound increments, we mixed in sea salt and caraway seeds.

After letting the mixture sit for a while, Dan put it into the big pot and tamped it down with this big wooden thing he made.
Here the pot is fully loaded with 25 pounds of shredded cabbage mixed with sea salt and caraway seeds.  On top of the shredded cabbage are first a layer of cabbage leaves, then two heavy weights.  On top of those went cooled salt water that had been boiled, to cover the weights by 1-3 inches.  Then the lid went on and water was placed in the circular trough you see on top of the pot, to create a water seal so no air could get into the fermenting pot.  Then it was time to wait for fermentation.

Stay tuned for the final installment, Making Sauerkraut:  Part Three!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sauerkraut Making: Part One

To make sauerkraut, you first need lots of cabbages.  Does this look like a lot?  It's not all of them.  Dan planted 80 cabbages this year, which was a first for the Brungardt garden! 

One night the whole family went to pick some cabbages.  Daddy found some big ones and passed them to the kids, who brought them to the wagon.

Here's Dominic, taking his job seriously.

Anthony thought it was his job to get in the wagon with the cabbages and inspect each one.

Anne counts.  Seven so far, bring some more!

Okay, I think 20 cabbages should do it.

Daddy and the kids with their cabbage haul.

Say cabbage!

Then it was time to gather all the outer leaves to take them to the compost pile.  For some reason Anthony always has to get in whatever it is we are using, in this case the wheelbarrow.

The girls thought they looked like big flowers.  Catherine poses with her "bouquet."

Joseph shows off his Superman powers!

Stayed tuned for Sauerkraut Making: Part Two!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some Current Produce From The Garden

We've been picking peppers, a few tomatoes, lots of cucumbers, and some watermelon.  Our garden is like the oasis in the middle of the desert.  We went a whole month without any rain, so outside of the garden the grass is dormant and the cracks in the ground are so big that one day Anthony got his leg stuck in one and had to have help to get out.

At lunch time, I'll cut up a bunch of something and the kids will gobble it up.

I really should weigh some of the watermelon, because I bet I picked one that was at least 20 pounds.

This is often how the cucumbers get eaten.  Many times the kids eat them right in the garden.  I never knew kids could eat so many cukes! 

We've canned one batch (12 quarts) of dill pickles and I've done 10 pints of pickle relish, so we've put all those cucumbers to good use.  The squash, zucchini, and pumpkins got destroyed by squash bugs.    Hopefully the tomatoes hang in there, so I can get enough to put in the freezer.  But soon we will be eating lots of cantaloupe!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chucky Was Fun

Last weekend we started the twins' birthday fun early with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

The last time we went there we only had three kids, so none of the kids really remembered it much.

My memory was of yucky pizza, but the pizza has definitely improved.

We got 120 tokens with our meal deal and since each game costs one token, I thought we'd be there all night.

We easily made it through all the tokens, even before anyone got crabby.

I enjoyed watching the kids have a blast.

We may have started a new birthday tradition, though!