Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mourning the Morning

I wish with all my heart that I could be a morning person. In an ideal world I would wake up at 5am and perform the following routine:
-Work out while listening to the news of the day
-Take a long shower
-Enjoy a quiet breakfast of tea and toast, perhaps outdoors, and definitely with my children and husband
-Style my hair and apply my make up completely
-Complete a few household chores or a freelance project
-Leave the house promptly by 8am.

Instead, I am a sad night owl. People like me are all good intentions and snooze buttons. I usually am working and cleaning up late into the night, which leaves me the following morning:
-Wake up at 7:20
-Shower in 5 minutes
-Run around the house assembling an outfit
-If I've prepared the night before, blend up a breakfast smoothie and throw coffee in a travel thermos
-Leap out the door with wet hair, launching children and bags into the car, pulling out of the driveway by 8:20

I wish I could take a class in how to reorganize my sleep patterns so I can be a productive person before my children wake up. I hate taking time in the evenings away from my kids.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Biscuits

I'm pretty happy that Joe is in a school program not only for the education, but for the festive holiday celebrations. The Halloween party was last week and each family was tasked with a treat to bring. I signed up for vegetables, because I am a masochist.

I thought the best way to get kids to eat anything containing a vitamin or mineral on Halloween was to put it in baked-good form. So we made sweet potato biscuits shaped like pumpkins with raisin features. I thought the orangey color and sweeter taste would compete with artificial treats.

I used this recipe due to its use of whole wheat flour, but we got harder, flatter biscuits than I expected. The recipe is probably fine, but ideal conditions probably do not include a Joe "helper." They were edible and we had fun making them, so I guess that's all that matters.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Posts I've Been Meaning to Write

Ninety percent of the reasons why I haven't yet written these posts are due to photo downloading issues and nice weather. I'm sure it will rain soon and I will be forced to stay inside and futz with the camera.

-Homemade Pita Bread and Hummus
-Lettuce Soup Adventures
-Beet Cookies (Not Sponsored by Schrute Farms)
-New Garden 2012
-Owen, the Amazing

Halloween is one week from tonight and I still have to finish our costumes and find some treats to give away that won't send us all headfirst into Toddler World War. Those tasks will also probably merit a post.

Stuff I Did Tonight

Since picking up the boys from daycare/preschool and arriving home at 5:15, I have done the following tasks:

-Baked a loaf of bread
-Raked the front yard
-Cooked dinner from scratch (sauteed mushrooms & onions with steamed broccoli and bacon over rotini pasta; didn't have enough milk left for a cream sauce)
-Pureed up a batch of baby food and froze it
-Froze a bunch of bananas & chopped the peels for the compost
-Cooked a batch of vegetable soup for the freezer (cauliflower & pea shoots w/bacon & basil)

I still have a few hours worth of freelance work to be done and I'd really like to watch this week's episode of "Walking Dead" on the DVR. There are still apples and pears in the kitchen that need to be put away, as well as a bag of peppers and some kale in the fridge. The soup will have to be put into containers and frozen once it's cooled off. I want to get some chicken ready for the crockpot tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I can throw in the turnips that came in this week's CSA share, and I am putting off looking up how to prepare them.

The rest of the nightly routine requires that I gather frozen ingredients for the morning smoothie and stick the blender in the fridge to soften overnight; grind up coffee and fill the machine with water; throw my cup of soup, chunk of bread, and apple into my lunchbag; pull out baby food to thaw; and pump a bottle for the sitter in the morning.

It's 9:17pm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Work Out Wednesday - Fall!

Average this week: 9903

Besides making a concerted effort to stay in motion this week, my fall activities seem to have given me a boost. This weekend we took the boys to pick pumpkins at Butler's Orchard. I also spent some time raking leaves, though surprisingly, that didn't net very many steps on the pedometer. In order for steps to be measured, I need to take 4 strides in a row. Raking involves more sliding to the side, but at least I got some decent outdoor exercise. There is more to do this weekend, possibly while squash is roasting in the oven.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Locavore 4 Life!

I did it! I found a local producer of dairy and meats, AND they deliver AND their prices are great! I didn't have to look too hard, because they are relatives of the group that runs our CSA, South Mountain Creamery. While they are not a certified organic producer, they follow organic farming methods and are working on becoming a self-sustaining farm by using animal waste for power. I have recently read that eating local is better than eating organic if you only have those options, and I love the fact that we can go to the farm and see all the free-ranging animals!

Our first delivery arrived yesterday and we tried butter, yogurt, a whole chicken, and a lovely quart of fresh skim milk. The plain yogurt in our smoothies this morning made them taste like ice cream!

I'll let you know what we try next week!

Stone vs Sheet: Cookie Test

I conducted this test three weeks ago after a day of touring wineries in NoVa with friends: which bakes better, a baking stone or a cookie sheet? I meant to post the pictures then, but the pizza I made after the cookies were done filled the house with smoke, leading to alarms, thrown-open windows, and undercooked pizza. That craziness was blamed on too-thick pizza dough, not on baking methods.

Anyway, I made a normal chocolate chip cookie and used both a sheet and my baking stone. Here are the results:

After 1 minute:

After 6 minutes:

The final products (stone cookies on top, sheet on bottom):

The stone yielded a faster, more complete bake. Obviously, the stone preheated with the oven, so the cookies were placed onto a hot surface and instantly started cooking. While I generally prefer chewy cookies over crispy, the stone's crispiness was light and not hard.

It took much longer for the sheet cookies to cook, and the tops didn't have the same satisfying crunch as the stone cookies. I think if I had more than one stone or just wanted a dozen cookies quickly, stone is the way to go.

It is not practical for several dozens, however, because there is more spread from each cookie and you can only have one batch going at a time. Which in my house means the first batch and dough from the third will be eaten before the second is out. Also, if there are little ones around, it's not as safe to have the oven open removing individual cookies from the stone, and I do not have anywhere safe to put a whole hot stone while I transfer cookies to a rack.

So there you have it!