Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cast iron cinnamon rolls! [And muffins too!]

I have been having a grand time finding, making enjoying cast iron recipes!  Because a few people asked, I thought I'd share these [somewhat] healthier versions of old favorites!  

WHOLE WHEAT CINNAMON ROLLS

 DOUGH
2.5 cups whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon 
3.5 oz melted butter
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup milk

-Whisk yolks, butter, milk
-Combined in dry ingredients 
-Mix until dough is soft
-Turn/knead on lightly floured surface
-Roll out to a 12x10 rectangle [cutting off uneven edges] 

FILLING
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp sugar [raw sugar worked beautifully!]
1 tbsp melted butter

-Mix all filling ingredients until blended
-spread evenly over dough
-I found that almost making a double batch of the filling works better to spread
 
ICING 
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbs milk

-Stir milk, 1 tbsp at a time, into powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached
-I also found that this glaze is *okay* for a quick one.  But a cream cheese glaze/icing would be better.  So use what you like.

--After spreading filling onto dough, roll up [jelly roll style] and cut into 3/4-1 inch slices.  
--lay cinnamon rolls [sides touching] into an oil/seasoned cast iron skillet [or baking dish ;)]
--Bake on 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until done.
--Drizzle icing over hot rolls, eat!



 
   WHOLE WHEAT MUFFINS
[Not in cast iron, because I don't don't have a cast iron muffin pan yet.]

2.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey or raw sugar [I love raw sugar and think it does beautifully!  But any sugar will work]
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil or applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raisins, chocolate chips, nuts or choice or filling.  Can be fully omitted.

Whisk all wet ingredients.
Combined in dry ingredients.
Dough will be thick.
Mix well.
Add in raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips.

--Spoon into greased muffin pan, about 2/3 full in each cup.
--Sprinkle top with some raw sugar and cinnamon.
--Bake on 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until done.   

 

 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bittersweet milestones: Finding me again!

Bittersweet.  That's the only term that fits it best.  Watching David and Aaron's milestones come and go as the months and years go by.  Bittersweet as the my family journey's through this thing called life, wishing many moments would last years.

Today is a bittersweet a day, a finality as a milestone has come and now gone.  For our family, early one, we did the family bed.  It worked well for us and brought about an amazing bond.  Amidst criticism and snide remarks like we were spoiling them, creating bad habits, letting them control us, not being "parent-directed" and creating dependency that would surely never end.  


For the past 4 years we have 1 then 2 then back to 1 little one in our bed.  We did the side car crib method to create more room and it was fantastic!  It kept them close, which made nursing a breeze, yet gave them and us the space we needed.


For the past 4 years I had forgotten what it was like not to have a wee one with us.  Around 2.5 years old David slowly began transitioning.  We said we'd let them do it on their own, at their own pace to ease any fears or doubts they may have.  And to continue to foster that trust with them that we had already built up.  A little over David's 3rd birthday he was mainly sleeping in his own room in his own bed.  He would come back to our bed in the middle of the night for a while.  And then by age 3.5 he was completely in his room.  


We have followed the same path with Aaron.  About 2 months ago he became interested in David's bed, wanting to take naps there and then one night falling asleep there.  We decided to see how he would do.  I said if I heard him cry I would go to him and bring him back to us.  No crying, but I was awakened by padding of little feet then a warm cuddly body.  I looked at the clock, nearly 3am.  He'd gone about 7 hours by himself.  The next night the same thing, and the one after that, and the one after that.  After about two weeks, he was fully sleeping through the night in his own space.  It was time to put up his bed too!  


So now we have a cramped boys room with 2 twin beds , and 2 happy boys who love spreading out all over the place!  Sure they still occasionally come to us, mainly when they're sick or have had a bad dream.  But for the most part, they both have made a giant leap into childhood!


And for the first time in 4.5 years we all are sleeping through the night.  Something I never really worried about anyway, and now it seems so surreal that it's here.  


And now a bittersweet milestone for me today.  Making it truly final, we disassembled our side car crib and have no more 'baby beds' in our room.  I worked this afternoon bringing back a touch of "femininity" to our room.  A lace curtain, a bookshelf with decorative books, pictures and jewelry boxes...a nice lamp.  [My mom was the wonderful one who gave me these things this morning!  She's moving and let come to pick whatever I wanted from her home.]  A fitting moment, "shopping" just for me!  To make our room "adult" again. [Although Eric probably won't be thrilled with the French lace curtain ;) ]


The funny thing is I hadn't really missed that, knew it would happen again one day.  And truly as I look back, these last 4.5 years have flown by.  I'm actually reminded of a passage from scripture:

1 Samuel 1:20-23
20 Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, "I asked God for him." 
21 When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow,  
22 Hannah didn't go. She told her husband, "After the child is weaned, I'll bring him myself and present him before God - and that's where he'll stay, for good."  
23 Elkanah said to his wife, "Do what you think is best. Stay home until you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!"


In a "spiritual" moment of prayer as I opened my bible, it literally fell open to this passage.  It was fitting at that very moment because I had just returned from a "meeting" with someone who felt like I wasn't "parenting" correctly in the site of God.  I was so hurt [not because of how I parent] because it was so out of line for a fellow believer, especially one not married and without children, to try to tell me what God thinks is best for MY life.  I knew something wasn't right about that situation.  So I went home and prayed and that's when I found this verse.  


Immediately I knew that for "this season" I was to raise my boys and when Aaron weaned, that would be the time for me to...it is hard to find the right words for this...it would be time for me to "find myself" again.


Over the next months I forgot about this verse as daily life took over.  And then when Aaron moved into his room, I was laying in bed one night looking at the side car crib, kind of in disbelief that it was all happening and I remembered that passage.  And felt a sense of peace and readiness to take the next step.  I knew my time had come.  In the last 6ish months I've been feeling a huge pull anyway to do more, to work, to begin diving into 2nd calling [helping people, my 1st being a wife/mother].  And to me that is what this verse has said to me all along.


There would be a time for everything.  At one point the children needed me solely, now as they have independence, I too am finding independence in a different way.

All things grow, move on and travel through time.  There's nothing we can do to stop it, make it slow down or speed up...instead we follow the path, we cry in the frustrating moments and still give thanks.  We rejoice in the happy moments, and give thanks.  Time is truly so fleeting.  And I am so thankful for each bittersweet milestone that has come and gone!




Myself, Aaron [at 1 day old] and David at 19 months old.  It truly just seems like yesterday Eric was taking this picture in the hospital!



Making it my own again!  Thanks mom for the wonderful things!  Our room today!! 



Our room as it looked wit the side car crib!  I highly recommend this set up for those who want to co sleep!  It's awesome, especially for 2 children.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cast Iron Love: Part Duex...Fruit & Veggie art too!

My obsession continues.  With cast iron!  I've finally begun branching out and cooking more and more in them.  And I am blown away by the results.  I've never had such easy clean-up of cookware in my life!  Why didn't I discover this art sooner. 

I made our own deep dish pizza one evening and then meatloaf, potatoes and biscuits the next.  Both were hits.  Especially the meatloaf, and especially by Eric, who said ... "This?  Is Good!  Make it more often!"  A huge compliment! ;)

As I cook with them, I do chuckle to myself and think of historical things I have read or seen and note where they travel, many times on foot, with a few staple items.  One of them being cast iron.  That certainly adds weight to the travel!  What a work out!  



Now if only I had an old wood burning stove ;)  



 









On another note, in the summer homeschooling realm, we've been learning about fruits and vegetables.  The boys have enjoyed watching time lapse videos on YouTube.  It's amazing to see them shoot up from a seed or small plant to a mature and ripe food.   What takes months, is only seconds or moments in video.  The power of modern media!


One of the projects we did was using fruits and vegetables to paint!  There is nothing like putting the easel outside, pouring the paint and letting the boys get it on the paper, themselves and the fruit.  You can't beat the modern miracle of finger paint today.  It's not like the thick staining paints of the 1970's when I was a child.  It paints beautifully, but washes so easily!

The paint "brushes" were cantaloupe, potatoes, corn on the cob, and apples.  
The results?  Beautiful and energetic art by a 3 and 4 year old!  What can I say?  Life in our small home consists of the four of us, but I love it, I wouldn't change it and I give thanks for it, for my husband and my 2 sons every.single.day :)






 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learning to be a Cast Iron cooking pioneer!!!

The cast iron skillet lay buried in my pots and pans cupboard for 3 years. Dirty, dusty and worn, I took it out one day and decided to see what all the fuss was about.  

After asking, researching and reading, I spent one day cleaning and seasoning it!  So easy really.  Give it one good scouring, put a coat of vegetable shortening or oil on it, and bake it on 450 degrees for one hour.  Turn off the stove, let it sit another hour [http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-care-seasoned-cast-iron.asp#3]  I did this several times throughout the day, gave it a few good layers.

The next day I took it for it's first test run.  I baked chicken in it.  I was impressed!  It didn't stick, it didn't burn, it browned beautifully and was moist!  And best of all, the skillet cleaned up in no time, some rinses under hot water, a wipe out with a hot water towel [no soap].  Dryed and a coat of veggie oil.

Cast Iron!  Better than any non stick skillet I have ever used or owned!  I will never turn back!!   I have become a cast iron junkie!  Upon further reading I was even more impressed to learn that if you keep it seasoned and taken care of, the can last 100 years or more!  What a great investment really.  It will certainly last my lifetime and I can pass them onto my children!


I don't even know how I came to own the first skillet.  I may have bought it at a second hand shop.  But I'm so glad I pulled it out that wonderful day!


Since then I cook most everything in it.  Eggs have never been so easy, stir fry, taco meat, sausage gravy.  Then another thing happened.  My mom said I have 3 more cast iron pieces you can have!  WHAT???  Cast iron is not "cheap" initially [at least to me anyway!]


So I acquired a wonderful griddle, another skilled and an enamel coated grill!
The griddle made awesome french toast and the grill browned up our steaks in the oven beautifully!  


And thanks to a gift card, I also was able to purchase a cast iron dutch oven!!  I'll be using it tomorrow for the first time for Hungarian goulash! 


So now I have a nice set that I look forward to using over and over, and hopefully, slowly adding to it!  Just a few more pieces that look interesting ;)


The only thing I wish is that you could make tomato based sauces.  But knowing that I can use them for about everything else, I can live with using a regular sauce pan every now and again :)


I'm also looking forward to making our first "deep dish" pizza sometime this week in the skillets!  I can't believe how very versatile they are!  


Now I just need to fulfill my fantasy of camping and cooking over an open fire with them!  Okay, I'm a dork, I've always admitted it!


Please feel free to share your cast iron stories, recipes, website referrals and love! :)


Here are some great sites I've been referring too for information and recipes!


http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/cast_iron_recipes

http://lodgemfg.com/

http://www.recipesfromscratch.com/dutch

Here's the beginning of my wonderful collection!!  2 skillets, 1 dutch oven, 1 griddle, 1 enamel coated grill.

 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Toys, toys and more toys.

For the friends that saw, liked and commented on a Facebook post tonight [Sunday], it's easy to see that I get frustrated not only by little ones who love to play but not clean AND trying to figure out what to do with toys in a small area!

I love our house, the one thing I wish we had though is either at least one BIG bedroom for the all the boys things or an additional room [even small] for nothing but a playroom!  

As it goes, we make do with what we have in life right?  Our house is about 600 sq. ft. max.  The boys room is also a computer room.  So with two twin beds [that will be bunked at a later time when they are old enough.  I believe the AAP recommends children being at least 6 years old.], a computer cabinet and small dresser there is really only a space of about one body length to walk.  So not toys in there [at least to play with!]

Where are the toys you ask?  In the the living room of course, much to my dismay!  I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that having a small space, 2 sons, a husband and myself...won't equal a neat and tidy house 99% of the time.  So I relish the evening hours when little ones are fast asleep and I'm not stepping legos or hot wheels cars, and sometimes saying words that are not too pleasant!  

David and Aaron have their fair share of toys but I don't think they are overly burdened with them.  However a few toys can look like Toys R Us in small spaces.

I'm always looking for new ways [cheaply of course] to organize, make things look tidy yet functional and a more Montessori style for the boys.


If YOU have an ideas, please post!  I'm open.  And feel free to share you storage/toy challenges as well!


Here's the boy's room [With Aaron fast asleep].  To the left of the picture which you can't see is the dresser, then the computer desk is in the nook that you can't see as well.  The little carpet area you see is literally all the room left.




And then here are shots of the living room and how we have the main group of toys/items for the boys.








Friday, July 8, 2011

Three revolutions around the sun and tipi dwelling!

It leaves me in awe as I stand at the end of the proverbial road of time and look back.  My own 40 years on this planet seem but only months.  In the midst of each year it feels long, but remembering the  years...they are too short.

Aaron's 3rd birthday has come and gone.  3 whole revolutions around the sun!  Looking back, it's but the blink of eye to me.  It truly seems like yesterday evening Eric walked across the hospital room and placed him in my arms.  I took him to my breast and thus began his life of nourishment not only physically but emotionally, spiritually and lovingly!  

To put into words what parents feel for there children is impossible.  There are truly no words this side of heaven to define the love that we feel, we breath, we give, we receive.  I always say it gives me a very small glimpse of what God must think of each one of us.  And if I can have the magnitude of love for my sons, how much MORE does the Lord have for me, for you, for us?  Amazing!

And amazing the journey has been thus far!  Frustrating moments of course.  That's a natural part of life.  But I've loved more, what I've learned from my children.  More often than not I find myself learning in the lessons I'm supposed to be teaching them and that humbles me!  

A huge part of me is sad that Aaron is our last baby.  I can no longer wear him because he is much too big.  But I fondly recall the times where he WAS curled up in my sling or ergo, against the beat of my heart.  Sleeping so contentedly, safe and knowing it!  Much to the dismay and remarks of some I do still nurse him and we are doing child-led weaning.  Though it's only at night now, it's an incredible journey that I am so thankful for.  Another milestone that we reached is that Aaron has officially and on his own just like David, transitioned into his own bed.  It was wonderful fostering that trust and closeness with our sons to have them in our room, along side of us as we all slumbered.  And it was bitter sweet as Aaron decided to sleep alone in his bed the first night.  About two weeks later he, for the most part, sleeps all night and doesn't come to me.

I realize that he's growing up and I must let him.  But I look back and realize just how brief those months and years were that we had him 'all to ourselves.'

We are so thankful for the three years that have come and we pray many more healthy years for our sons! 





TIPI time!  Oh my did the boys have the best time ever doing this!   And it was interesting instilling in them the basic concepts of the lives of the Indigenous people on a 3 and 4 year old level.  It's a great opportunity to begin filling them with compassion and appreciation for culture and diversity and struggles we all face as human beings.  

And yes because I'm a dork, they watch Dr. Quinn Medicine woman with me.  But I realized one evening while watching it, though the show itself is fiction, they have researched and interjected non-fiction information.  So David and Aaron are getting a small glimpse what life was like for those people.  They get to see tipis and the dress of the people, hear some of the songs, see the relics.  

Though our tipi is small in comparison  and definitely  not ornate, it was the love and fun that went into it that made it special.  And even more touching when the boys were excited, grabbed their blankets and said "come on mom, let's go camping!"  

I think we need to do a camping trip sometime because they would so enjoy it!