Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Updates on Baby Benjamin

Dear ones,

A few days ago, I posted a call for prayer and support for baby Ben, who was undergoing a serious spinal surgery due to achondroplasia.


His surgery went miraculously well, thanks to gifted surgeons, many prayers and much love, and a great Healer.  Hospital staff are shocked at his recovery, pain tolerance, and healing.  Thank you for participating in this great event!!

Read updates here

The medical care will continue, as will the bills (they are staying out of town at a hospital out of state, due to the limited resources in their small hometown in Montana), so to those who have been asking if they can financially support baby Ben: you can donate cash at his site or if you need superior make-up products, skin care, fragrance, or need one of these awesome makeup bags if you have no bathroom cupboards like me or go to the gym or yoga a lot, just purchase them from his mama, Beth, who is a Mary Kay beauty consultant!

Thanks to everybody for generous prayers, thoughts of love, and emotional support for this dear family!  It is helping to pave the way for what otherwise is a difficult and trying time.

Mrs H

Monday Menu with Chiffon Cake and Hurricane Sandy!

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Hurricane Sandy has visited our coastal Virginia town; as has Mr H's ship, so he is home for a few days!  Happily, as this relieves some of the concern regarding the storm.

Noms This Week

Pumpkin Ice Cream  |   I purchased a quart of pumpkin ice cream from Trader Joe's (I know ... fail on me for not being homemade!) to celebrate Mr H coming home.  If you don't want to regret this life on earth, you will go and treat yourself to this devastation of delectability.

Chiffon Cake  |   STOP.  Stop what you are doing.  Make this.  Save this recipe, pin it, bookmark it, whatever you need to do - DO NOT LOSE THIS RECIPE!!!  It is worthy of fame (and mostly devoid of nutrition, so save it for a special occasion!  Like today).  A chiffon cake is a peculiar hybrid with the airy, fluffiness of angel food cake and the rich, tender mouth-feel of pound cake.  It is an historic cake and has a well-deserved reputation for elegance and decadence.  If your tube pan doesn't have a removable bottom, see how to use it here.

Kitchen Tasks  
That most magical place ... 

Well ... |  Surprisingly little happened here this week ... With Mr H coming home and Hurricane Sandy bearing down, I guess other things were going on!

Makeshift Salsa  |  We did want some salsa; we purchased a jar at Whole Foods, then added fresh corn cut from the cob (raw), minced cilantro, and from our garden added habanero, sweet banana peppers, and chopped green tomatoes.

Vitamix  |  I made a huge batch of pesto!  Watch for the recipe - I will be reviewing it as a guest poster for Alphabet Soup.  Uses fresh or frozen basil.

Crop Circles
Welcome to my garden! Per se. 

Uprooting Tomatoes  |  We systematically cut down the tomatoes, harvesting any remaining green ones for use in the kitchen (you can use them green, or let them ripen.  I doubt if I'll let them sit long enough to ripen!  Yum!).  We did not compost them or turn the roots under, but pulled up all the roots and threw all the stalks, leaves and roots away; this is because most Virginia tomatoes suffered from blight and we did not want to let the fungus back into our soil.

Kale  |  We planted kale, a good fall and winter crop, to help clean the fungus from the soil.  We can't plant any other nightshades - peppers, eggplant, different tomatoes - in this soil next year.  However, garlic, onions, and kale will find homes in the soil.

Hurricane Sandy  |  Now that the kale is planted, it is drowning ... hopefully it survives Sandy!

Other news

Fun  |  We bought some Burt's Bees soap for the little man - he is just over four months now and has yet to feel any sort of chemical, soap or lotion on his body.

Hurricane Sandy...  |  ...visited us - all of our neighbors flooded, but our house is up on a rise.  So far, so good.  Praise the Lord!!  Thanks to all our canned goods, we don't have to worry about grocery stores running out of food.  We could easily live here for a while without ever leaving!

As I write this update, the floodwaters are steadily increasing and have reached our driveway!  Benches on the oceanfront are floating away ... cars are floating, too!!

Our street 
the surf, two blocks from our house
across the street from us

The house behind us 
Out the back driveway

Continue in prayer for New York City and other eastern seaboard areas that will be hit with Hurricane Sandy as she moves up the coast!  This storm is far from over yet!!

Mrs H
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Praying for Benjamin - URGENT!

Dear friends and prayerful family,

Our dear family members, Adam and Beth, just sent their wee son Ben into surgery, a risky procedure which  he absolutely needs to survive.

Baby Ben has achondroplasia (Dwarfism) and urgently needs corrective surgery on his spine.

It's difficult to even write about this ... no fancy words or anything, because this is a family member and the thought of their pain is too deep for me to understand.  As a new mother myself, I ache for her mom-heart at the thought of her baby going into a surgery room.  Words fail.

Please offer up prayers for this dear boy and his family.  Prayer is urgently needed.  Donate to their medical cause if you desire to support in that way.  They live in a tiny town in Montana but they are not far from the loving arms of family and friends around the world!!!


Mrs H

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Menu Deployment Edition III with Popcorn Balls!

Another week with the husband away - four lightbulbs went out, and I found cockroaches in my room three days in a row!  But we are managing to survive, as you can see!

Noms This Week
What could be more enthralling than food? 

Betty Crocker Popcorn Balls  |  Definitely not healthy but definitely super fun - a delightful indulgence!! A girl friend and I made these to munch on while watching the new Upstairs, Downstairs online (temporarily available) at PBS.org, and let's just say the popcorn balls never quite made it to the shaping stage ... we ate them right out of the mixing bowl!  Recipe below. 

Vitamix  |  I made a hot soup using vegetables and peppers from our CSA, heaped into the container, and a quart of chicken broth from the freezer, thawed.  About six minutes on high speed, and the friction cooked the soup steaming hot!  ... I made a chocolate milkshake using milk, ice cubes, vanilla extract, ice cream, and chocolate syrup!

Pilau and Samosas  |  With a friend from Kenya and a friend from Washington state, we had an African dinner night and enjoyed exotic, rich fare and girlie pillow talk late into the evening!

Espresso  |  I got an espresso pot and now I can do a lot more in a given day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Just kidding.  Reserved for special occasions like breakfast and dessert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hot Cocoa  |  It has finally started cooling down (although the occasional crisp October day will still climb to 80 degrees), and I've been enjoying the occasional mug of hot cocoa made from mix.  (I haven't made any marshmallows yet this winter, however.)

Espresso, italian style
Bagel, fried egg, cocoa
Cupcakes from an Amish bakery, scrambled eggs n onions, espresso -
having breakfast with a friend! 
Picking up some pie pumpkins, dressed in style
Milkshakes are always in season
Pilau and samosas
Kitchen Tasks

Cowshare  |  Last Monday was my turn to pick up milk for our cowshare.  The farm is about 45 miles away from where we live.  I brought the coolers back to the host family's home, and everybody participating in the cowshare was able to come to her house and pick up their bottles.

Food Auction  |  I didn't pick up anything at the food auction this week, although I did go and browse.  I talked to the grocer at the market there about ordering a Thanksgiving turkey from Polyface.  I discussed ordering pie pumpkins with a farmer there.  A friend generously gave me several later that week (!) and I picked up a few more from another farm.

Bananas  |  I finished dehydrating the bananas and filled two gallon bags.  They are currently residing in the refrigerator until I can bag them separately with the vacuum sealer and put them in the freezer.  I did not dry them rock-hard, which is why they need to be refrigerated or frozen; otherwise, they'll mold.

Apples  |  On Sunday I picked up an order of three bushels of apples (about 150 lbs).  A far cry from the 2,000 pounds we processed back home in Washington the last year Mr H was there; but it's nice to have a little taste of home.  You will probably see them appearing here on the blog again over the course of the next few weeks.

Gotta keep these rolls goin'!
At the farm, he nearly brought a kitten home with us! 
I left him in the back of the Jeep while I went to gather the bottles ... 
Came back to find he and Valentine the cat had discovered the
bag of cookies I had brought along for a snack! 
A hen came to investigate
At the market near our house, we visited the master gardeners,
whom Mr H and Little H always pepper with questions

A friend spent that night and then kept an eye on him while I went
 to an early morning yoga class!

Visiting a military family appreciation event
Crop Circles

Kale  |  Still been too lazy to put the kale in the ground ... must get moving on that! 

Betty Crocker's 1978 Cookbook Caramel Popcorn Balls 
Look away if you like healthy food ... because this ain't healthy!  It's fast and easy to whip up for movie night, if you're in the mood for munching!  

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 cups popped popcorn

Heat all but the popcorn to simmering in a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Add popcorn.  Cook, stirring constantly, until popcorn is well-coated, about 2 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Optional:  Dip hands in cold water; shape mixture into 2-inch balls.  Place on waxed paper; cool completely.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap or place in plastic bags and tie.  Makes about 6 popcorn balls.

Mrs H
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Autumn Giveaway: Slow Cooker - The Best Cookbook Ever

This giveaway is now closed - thank you to Chronicle Books, and to everybody who participated and made it so much fun!!!  Like our Facebook and never miss another giveaway! 

This is the first giveaway in a series of book giveaways - click here to see what is in the lineup!  

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  They did not pay me for my review.  As some of you know far too well, the opinions expressed herein are most definitely my own! 

Dear hungry readers,

It's that time of year again - that time of year when we have to make dinner.  a.k.a. Every day of the year.

Auntie Jessie came for a one-week visit - such fun! 
With a new little one, I still have time to make dinner - but that time is not, unfortunately, all concentrated around dinner-time, in one huge chunk.  No, no.  I have little time-slots all throughout the day.  When Mr H gets home from work at 7:30 in the evening, we head straight out the door with the jogging stroller for a tandem evening run, and come back and eat dinner.  So I find myself needing one of two things:  a) a maid who could cook for me, or b) a really sturdy, solid book on slow-cooking that would provide me with lots of recipes for a long time to come.

I'll give you a hint as to which one we chose to feature on the blog: we are NOT giving away a maid today!

It's too hot to be in the kitchen!  We need to be at the beach! Mrs H (L) and
Auntie Jessie (R) head out to take a dip in the waves
Sometimes you're just too tired to cook! 
Plumb wore out ... 
Perhaps you are in college, and you leave in the morning and get back at night hungry (please don't stop at McDonalds!).

Maybe you have kids going back to school or starting up their homeschool classes for the fall, and it would be convenient to have dinner prepared in the morning before the day gets busy.

Maybe it's hot where you live, and something that can cook on the back porch (we snaked an extension cord through the dining-room window!) sounds better than turning on the oven.

Or could be, you know somebody who needs a new book, and you want to win it for them!

Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever with more than 400 easy-to-make recipes, by Diane Phillips

What's funny is, they aren't exaggerating in the title.  This is the best slow cooker book I have ever laid my hands on, and I've laid hands on a few.

From the day I got it, I couldn't stop making recipes - my slow cooker hasn't even gone back in the cupboard yet!  The book is well-organized, cleanly laid out, and easy to read.  Divided into twelve topic chapters, including soups and chilies, casseroles, vegetable dishes, a chapter for the primary meats (fish, beef, pork, lamb, and poultry), dessert - and a most delightful chapter called Party in a Pot, which covers drinks, appetizers, dishes for entertaining ... and more devastating items.

One of my favorite features is that many of the recipes, whenever they are able, offer two cooking times: one for a low heat, and one for a high heat.  So on my organized days, I'll start the dinner in the morning and let it slow cook all day... When things are a little more hectic, I can start it in the afternoon, turn up the heat and have it slow-cook a little faster!

Great reading material for the kids

Most slow cooker books will cover the basics - white chicken chili, spaghetti sauce, beef stew, macaroni and cheese, blah blah blah.  That's great, because sometimes we just crave familiar dishes like that!  And those are all here - the artichoke dip, the snack mix, all the things we know and love about slow cookers.  But what I love about this book is that it takes things a little farther than the familiar ... Try a few of these titles on for size:

South-of-the-Border Halibut, Penne Lasagna, Vegetarian Confetti Split Pea Soup, Boneless Buffalo Chicken for Sandwiches, Potatoes Boulangerie (Mr H loved this rich, meaty dish - and I loved how quickly I assembled it and promptly forgot it until evening!), Potatoes Baked in the Crock, Spinach Parmesan Strata, Hot Fudge Upside-Down Cake, Down East Indian Pudding, Spicy Crocked Nuts, Hot Dill and Swiss Dip ... and take things up a notch with elegant dishes for entertaining like Stuffed Lamb in Ratatouille Sauce, Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Ginger Cheesecake, or Pumpkin Maple Bread Pudding!

This book will satisfy your desire for an endless variety of recipes, variations on a theme, tips and tricks to enjoy with your slow cooker!  I am thrilled with my copy, and I am doubly thrilled to be able to give away a copy to one of my wonderful readers, courtesy of Chronicle Books of San Francisco!

Enter the Giveaway!  

Step 1. Leave a comment below (use an email address that I can reach you at, providing you win!) and let us know your favorite crock-pot recipe or tip!  Winner will be selected at random.

Step 2. You know you want to ...Just for fun, Like our Facebook page so you'll always be kept up-to-date on giveaways, or share this giveaway with a friend!  Help us spread the word and share the love!  The more popular a giveaway or posting is, the more giveaways we are privileged to hold in the future ... so everybody wins!

Contest ends Wednesday, October 31 and will be promptly followed by the next book giveaway...

May the hungriest cook win!

Mrs H

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vitamix Inaugural Use: A Long-Awaited Banana Milkshake

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, visit our new blog platform at www.farmandhearth.com to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

Dear ones,

When I was growing up, Mom had a Vitamix sitting on the counter which she used frequently and often to make wicked delights such as ice cream, milkshakes, soups, cornbread.  

I remember once she made some sort of purple drink which I recall I did not exactly like; but of course, I didn't complain.  I once complained about macaroni and cheese and it didn't go well for me ("This needs more cheese," I said, to which Dad said, "You need more manners."  That's the only time I remember ever complaining about food).  

However, there was a delectable, heavenly nectar which she used to blend up in the Vitamix, the memory of which has kept me alive these long dry years of Vitamixless living.  A whiff of banana will take me rushing back to the happy sunny day in which I was sipping glass of said nectar, but I haven't been able to perfectly recreate that halcyon memory. 

Until today. 

Before Mr H left, he ordered me a Vitamix - a top-of-the-line, first-class professional-grade blender, grain grinder, nut butter pureer, ice cream maker, food processor, soup maker, kitchen dandy.  Mom's original Vitamix cookbook had disappeared, goodness knows where and when, without a trace.  Dad ordered her a new machine at the same time as Mr H purchased mine, and Mom and I both ordered used copies of the antiquated cookbook from Amazon.  

There was a Race for the Cure event near our house, and I happened to be on hand when they were trying to get rid of the leftover cut fruit.  I volunteered (of course) and they were happy and relieved to offload all of the bananas and oranges at my house!  Seven cases of bananas?  I think yes! 

Having limited freezer space, I gave away all but two of the boxes.  I loaded my dehydrator with slices, and the rest were peeled and stashed in the freezer ... for milkshakes and more.

 Banana Milkshake
The original recipe, and my modification. 

Old-Fashioned Vitamix Version (scrumptious!)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1 large banana
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 cups ice cubes

New-Fangled Version (wondrous!)
1 cup whole milk
1 large banana
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of bee pollen
2 cups ice cubes or frozen milk cubes

Put all ingredients in Vitamix, blender, or cup with immersion blender in the order listed; blend thoroughly.

Summer fresh, winter cool, 

Mrs H

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Laundry Detergent: Cloth Diaper Safe!

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, visit our new blog platform at www.farmandhearth.com to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

Dear readers and laundry washers, often one and the same, 

I have to write an update on how much we are absolutely, completely and totally loving our three-ingredient laundry detergent.  

I started making it so I would have something to wash cloth diapers in, but it very rapidly moved up in ranking and became our go-to, all-purpose laundry detergent.  

Mild, unscented, with only the bare minimum ingredients, it is hysterically cheap to make and washes stains out better than our regular detergent.  

Mmhmm, that's what I said.

We mix up a gallon batch at a time, now.

Our diapers have very faint stains (if at all).  Those of you in the diaper-washing business know that is pretty impressive!  Clothes are pristine; nothing is bogged down with detergent additives, nothing smells like detergent (or anything else, for that matter!).

If I want to add an extra punch (washing Mr H's uniforms, for instance, which come home reeking of avgas), I'll toss in a scoop of Borax.

Get the recipe here!

So fresh and so clean,

Mrs H
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