1. Last night I made chili and cornbread. It was delicious, and is now all gone. I’m kind of surprised by that, because I made something like ten pounds of chili. That happens with bananas too: however many we buy is how many we eat, immediately. It helped that Josh and Sophia came over and ate some too.

2. Speaking of Josh and Sophia, they went and got married, those crazy kids! Aren’t they lovely?

3. Today I must, simply must clean the living room and dining room floors. They are both covered with little pieces of paper from small children with scissors.

4. And make bread.

like a big pizza pie

I made pizza for dinner. I do that about twice a month, as scratch pizza is an undertaking, you see, and not one to be done lightly. Tonight I had help from this fellow here:


who looks much less ghostly in real light.

He came in as I was plopping the crust on the pan, and said “Mama is making bread. Hmmhn.”

I said, “It’s pizza.”

He said “PIZZA!” and was so overcome with excitement that he had to skip off and touch the laundry room wall, then come back.

I said, “Do you want to help me?”

He said, “Hmmhn! Help me.”

I said, “You need oil on your hands. Here is oil.” and spread the olive oil on his hands so he could help press the dough. He did so, pressing perhaps a bit too firmly, but trying so hard to do it just right. I let him do a little, then directed him to the sink while I finished. He washed his hands and dried them, with prompting, and I applied the sauce. He was watching, and deeply wanted to write in the sauce, but restrained himself. Then we did the cheese, which he did perfectly.

My favorite was the application of the pepperonis. He skittered off mid-cheese and I thought he was overwhelmed and done with the whole thing. I finished the cheese and was putting the pepperonis on when a little hand snaked in beside me and placed a slice next to mine. He had gotten a stack of them and proceeded to put them on, precisely, until there was no room for more.

We finished then, and I got on my knees to hug him. I said, “You made the pizza, Bede! You are a wonderful pizza maker!” and he smiled.

I took his picture and then we settled down to watch it bake. Now we’re going to eat it, and it will be the best pizza ever.

And that, my friends, *that’s amore*.


I’m going to bake 144 cookies today, I think. It will please the children VERY MUCH. It will not please my attempts to shave 2-3 inches off my waistular area. Can’t have everything!

Perhaps I will post pictures of the cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip, yall. NOM.

all in the family

It’s been very familial around here, which is how I like it. First of all, we were given the wonderful, amazing and almost unbelievable news that my older brother Troy’s lung cancer has done R-U-N-N-O-F-T. The hateful tumor in the upper part of his lung is gone. There is a questionable spot in one of his lymph nodes that will be biopsied and nailed with radiation if it proves “hot”, as they say. So, yes, really brilliant, fantastic news.

My niece and her children (the above brother’s oldest child) came to visit on Wednesday. Faith and Michaelie are such peas in a pod. Two smart, funny, weird kids within about a month of each other in age with the same focused interests and both homeschooled. (They both like Doctor Who, Phineas and Ferb, and the Warriors books.)

And tonight, two more of Troy’s kids came to dinner and brought their main squeezes. I made a huge pot of cauliflower-chickpea-potato curry and maaaaan was it delicious. The meal was largely silent but for the sounds of gulping, and everyone looking drugged afterward as we all regarded our distended abdomens and belched softly. So. Freaking. Good. Any time you can make eleven people happy with one meal you’ve done Very Well.

And now G-Lo the little night owl is finally compliant enough to go to sleep without yelling at me, so off we go.

update of randomness

Last November, I committed to baking all our bread and cookies. Since then, we have saved at least 25% of our former food budget each month! Go, me!

We’re in the other house now. I’ll get pictures sometime.

I’ve downloaded a few books to this netbook, with Kindle for PC. I like it very much with one problem… can’t lend the book! Going to be paper for me from now on. Didn’t Amazon have some deal where you could buy the digital rights for a few bucks extra after buying a paper copy? I might do that sometimes if I Just Couldn’t Wait.

Going to go check on dinner now. Venison, carrots, potatoes and fresh whole wheat bread. NOM.

WLH++, feeding the horde, computer upgrade

Today is Wirt L. Harris’s birthday! Happy birthday, Dad!

My friends are here and have been here since Saturday morning. The house has ten kids and four adults and it is loud and happy! We eat a lot. On Saturday we cooked three dozen eggs, two pounds of sausage, a pound of bacon, two pints of beans and about eight pounds of venison. (Saturday was to feed sixteen people since Sophia nd Josh came too.) Sunday we ate some of the Saturday leftovers and also cooked eighteen eggs, a couple pounds of ham, two five pound chickens and two pounds of broccoli, along with three loaves of bread and twelve dozen cookies. Today we made an enormous pot of venison chili, ate it all, (again, with Sophia and Josh’s help) and finished off three-fourths of the cookies and another thirteen eggs.

I have to make bread tonight so I can bake it in the morning. Yum!

In other news, my birthday is tomorrow and I have my birthday present to myself: hardware and software upgrades for my beloved Dell Mini 9. He (his name is Aristotle) got a new hard drive, new RAM and a new OS! I’ve been accruing these bits and bobs for months and got the last piece of hardware today, an external DVD drive. It was all I was waiting on and now I’m installing Windows 7. I’m very excited!

food, new house thoughts

Sean just got back from a grocery run. It’s so satisfying to suddenly have the problem of too much food in my kitchen. I feel so rich when I open the cabinet and see twelve cans of tomato paste. It’s the little things.

I’ve been planning things for the new house in my mind. The kitchen there is much larger than the kitchen here, which has five square feet of counter space. We have room for a microwave, a coffee pot and a toaster and absolutely nothing else, no room to prep cook, nothing. Standing in the new kitchen is marvelous.

I’m going to take Trixie and Gilbert over there this evening, let them see it. I’m not taking Bede until we’ve finished the flooring changes because I don’t want him to have one image in his mind and get it all confused. I don’t anticipate him having much trouble with this move (well, no more trouble than a nonautistic six year old) but why take chances. Man, I am so looking forward to NOT HAVING STAIRS. While they have rocked my glutes with no effort (woohoo!) they are so dangerous. I worry daily that someone will be angrily shoved near the top of the flight and then tumble down, down in a sickening heap. Shudder! Soon, soon.

We’re going to get vinyl plank flooring for the living/dining room. Stuff’s badass, I tell you what. I’m willing to trade natural for waterproof, inexpensive and resilient.

a visit, dinner dither, Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam

My niece and her children came to see us today. Her daughter is Faith’s age and her son is a little younger than Gloria. The lot of them get on famously. After they left I finished baking bread and apathetically wondered what to have for dinner. I’ve decided on pasta with red sauce because the kids all like it and any leftovers can still be eaten tomorrow but honestly I’m in such a rut. I need to plan meals out for the week on Sunday and be done with it.

Gilbert has been trying to say words with no vowels and he sounds like he’s speaking Klingon. Cute, lispy, five year old Klingon. Think Alexander Rozhenko.

The apathy on my part is not shared by the ravenous children who are damn tired of their mother not feeding them dinner. So long, Internets.

taco taco!

I made taco meat tonight without a little plastic packet of taco seasoning. For the first time I made my own. And dang, it was goooood. I modified a recipe from AllRecipes as follows:

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon minced dried onion
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

I used 2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix to 1 pound of meat. I also added a can of diced tomato and green chili. It’s pretty heated, but not painfully so. If you don’t add the can of tomatoes you’d want to add a half-cup or so of water. Very good! Next time a little less salt and a little more cumin. We used ground venison but I expect it would be great with pork or beef or turkey, too.

adventures in breadmaking

I made bread dough tonight. I’ve started making it at night, then putting it in the refrigerator to rise overnight. In the morning I take it out and punch it down and put it in loaf pans for a second rise and poof! Easy peasy bread.

Speaking of pans I found some I love. I had been using Pyrex loaf pans, but I only had two and two loaves of bread last a day around here. So I make three loaves worth, but the third loaf was always a problem. Sometimes I just free-formed it and baked it in an 8×8 Pyrex dish, sometimes I turned it into sixteen small round rolls in the 8×8 dish, and sometimes I put 1/3 of the dough back in the fridge to wait its turn for one of the loaf pans. The obvious solution to this problem would have been to buy another Pyrex loaf pan but I couldn’t find one shaped right. So, I bought this kind instead. It’s made by Simax, a Czech company, out of borosilicate glass, just like Pyrex. But the shape is so much better for bread, long and skinny. I make loaves that are about 25 ounces and they are perfect in these pans. I have two and I want another. Nice little discovery!

My bread recipe:

– 2.5 cups warm water
– 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 4 tablespoons oil
– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 3 cups whole wheat flour
– 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

I mix everything but the flour together in a large bowl. Then I dump in 8 cups of flour, keeping a half-cup of all-purpose back to knead with. Mix the dough in the bowl with a big wooden spoon until you just can’t, then dump it out on a table and work in that last half-cup of flour with your hands. You should knead it for ten minutes or so, it’ll get very silky and smooth. Plop it back in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning it will be very, very risen. Take it out, punch it down, and shape it into loaves and put them in oiled loaf pans. Cover them up with plastic wrap and let them rise til they’re about twice as big. Take off the wrap, put them in a 350 degree oven and bake until they’re a nice deep brown, about 40-45 minutes. Makes 3 one and a half pound loaves of bread.

Alarmingly Buttery Brown Sugar Cookies

We made these today. Bede loves rolling the little dough balls in sugar (we used red, green and white) and we have now eaten enough to be faintly ill. Oof. He got so into it though, the whole process of dough ball to sugar to sheet, and patiently waited his turn between the other kids. Good times.

Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies – Large Family Edition

5.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups butter
2.5 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
Small amount of white sugar for garnish, optional

Make sure the butter is really soft. Cream the butter and the brown sugar, then add the eggs. Add the flour a cup or two at a time, and add the baking soda and powder along the way. Roll the dough in tablespoon-sized balls, then roll in sugar if you like. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes a lot, but we ate too many to get an accurate count, sorry. 80 cookies? 90?

cookie conquerors

We baked chocolate chip cookies today with MY NEW COOKIE SCOOP WOOT and they are fan dan tastic. Gilbert helped me put them on the sheet and in true Little Red Hen fashion everyone helped eat them.

I know I keep promising pictures of mittens. I promise I’ll post some. Soon. In the meantime here is Faith holding Gloria who fell asleep in her lap with bonus Christmas tree.



food dye: why, again?

We’ve had a rough day. It may be confirmation bias showing to say what I think is the reason why: food coloring. Today, for the first time is a long time, the kids had copious amounts of your friends and mine: FDC Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5 and 6. And Gilbert and Bede were, ah, difficult to parent today.

So there’s that. Or they could be coming down with something. Or maybe they’re just Little Boys 5 and 6.

Ah, Gloria wants to nurse. Perhaps I’ll write more later. Project: Mittens 2009 is coming along nicely, for those playing along at home. I’ll get pictures tomorrow when the light is nicer.

winter preparations

I made bread today too. It’s challah, from Tabitha’s recipe, and it’s pretty much the best bread ever.

I found the boots I thought I accidentally gave to charity! Yay! They were in the War Drobe in the Spare Oom. So we had a boot-trying-on day. Faith, Gilbert, Trixie: all set. Bede: all set, good thing he doesn’t care that they’re pink. Abby: good now because my mother found her a pair for $7. Gloria is the only one left and needs her some size 8 or 9 toddler boots. I think that’s a pretty good boot day.

In other wintry prep they tried on mittens. Again, only Abby and G-Lo can’t wear last year’s model. I’m pleased to have only two pairs to knit.

But I need to knit, like, 7 hats. And it needs to SNOW, PLEASE. REAL SNOW.

pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake

So we committed to baking vs. prepackaged a while back.

First and foremost it was for money. I won’t lie. All the good stewardship intentions in the world didn’t motivate me like the bottom line of running out of the month’s food budget a week or more before we ran out of month.

A secondary reason, and almost as important, was nutrition. I’m tired of feeding the kids things that are so overprocessed they bear no resemblance to the actual food they came from. And in many cases are no longer really “food” so much as “consumable.”

And a third reason was taste! My God, homemade food is incredible. There is no comparison between the bread we make and the bread we used to buy. The bread we used to buy tastes like cardboard now.

This morning, the first thing I thought when I woke up was, “What am I going to feed the kids?” We didn’t have any bread because I was unable to bake yesterday due to being out of the house unexpectedly. I considered oatmeal with cinammon and brown sugar, then dismissed it because a.) it’s a mess and b.) several kids don’t like it and would whimper about being hungry. Same with scrambled eggs, though only one kid doesn’t like them. That might have been okay but I wasn’t too sure we’d have enough eggs (we routinely eat two dozen at a sitting.)

Instead I made pancakes. Simple, fantastic, phenomenally good pancakes. They’re quick to make, even if you don’t have a griddle.

Plaid Cookbook Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter

It’ll be lumpy. Stir til just moistened. If you stir it too much they get kinda chewy, like a thick crepe.

You want a nice hot skillet or griddle, no grease. If water sprinkled sizzles instantly, it’s hot enough. Spoon it out, turn when you see bubbles.

That doesn’t make many. I made twice that and it made enough to feed six children; Sean and I went hungry. Next time I’ll make triple (or even quadruple, if I own a nice flat griddle by then.)

So thanks to our paradigm shift of make your own we’re now making pancakes whenever we like, instead of only on birthdays. Before this I would have lazed out and given them all Pop Tarts or cold cereal.

This is better.

hey, i’m back

Took a break over the weekend. I forgot to post on Saturday and only remembered to post on Sunday at about 11:52. So.

I have finished Trixie’s grey sweater. It has secret purple armscyes! She likes it very much. I realize how useless this is without pics.

Today I made three loaves of bread and a bunch of fried chicken. MMM FRIED CHICKEN. One of the loaves is raisin cinammon brown sugar bread, made like a giant cinnamon roll. It will be consumed for breakfast tomorrow in the blink of an eye, I’m sure.

I am feeling nibbled to death by ducks in terms of feeding my children. I feel like I am constantly fixing food or drink for them. I am damn sick and tired of it and rather than continue to be resentful and angry at all of them for, God forbid, asking their MOTHER for FOOD, THE NERVE, I am going to have clear kitchen open and kitchen closed times, with water always available of course. We’ll see how that works. I expect Gilbert will flip out because he is very into Inflexibly Controlling All Situations right now. I hope the transition period is as smooth as possible. Wish me luck!

we sure eat a lot of wheat

Today we baked cookies. Many, many cookies. We’re trying to get away from buying baked goods around here. So far we’ve eliminated storebought bread and my nemesis, Pop Tarts. Up next is cookies, then crackery snacks.

Making 100 cookies with two spoons to scoop up and drop them is a real pain in the neck. I want a cookie scoop like this one. I’d love all three sizes but the middle-size one will suffice.

It’s crazy how much flour we go through with this though. When we first started about a month ago I thought that bulk flour was a bad idea for us. “How could we use fifty pounds of flour before it went bad?” I wondered. Well. Very easily, as it turns out. We use five pounds in a week on bread alone, and we aren’t up to full baking capacity yet. (We eat a loaf to a loaf and a half of bread a day on average.) By the time I’m doing all the baking it will be between seven and ten pounds a week, I’m thinking.

I have two choices: organic or local. Well, I guess I have three – also nonlocal nonorganic, but that’s not in the running. I’m leaning towards local. I’m going to call them tomorrow and get prices for their bulk flour.

a good day

Today was so nice. Our dear friends came for a visit and seeing the smiles on their faces as they ran up our sidewalk was fantastic. The kids all played and talked and Renee and I got to talk. Renee is one of those friends who really hears what you are saying. When I talk to her I feel like I have all of her attention, that she is listening to me and extrapolating meaning from my words. Not one of those people who is just waiting to talk! Tabitha you’re like that too 🙂

Then we all had lunch, turned the kids (all eight of them!) to the backyard and Renee and I made challah. Which is baking now. Mmm.

Bede was attentive and fairly calm today. It was a relief for all!