Monday, January 3, 2011

12 New Things - and the immensely popular cheesy bread!

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Dear people of the New Year,

I love learning.  I love studying, reading, researching, and searching out things that interest me.  I think everybody can learn, no matter where they are; we first and foremost learn from the Lord, we learn from nature, we learn from living life, we learn by going out and taking classes,and we can learn in our own homes - by borrowing books from the library on things that are of interest,  looking things up online, and just plain old experimenting on our own.  I suppose, since I was home schooled, I have a little bit of the radical point of view that you can learn how to do just about anything outside of a classroom, and that the real world is the best place to learn about real world things (however, learning how to stand in line is best done in a public school - I will give them that!).

So, I am always looking to learn new things at home.  Any time I buy something in a store, see something in a catalog, eat something in a restaurant, read something on another blog, I think to myself - what would it take to do this myself?  What do I need to learn?  I read books about everything from eating raw foods to raising pigs, always trying to expand my knowledge base.

On that note - a few months ago while wandering the blogosphere, I tripped over a fun little idea on a blog that I enjoy reading from time to time.

I thought it would be cool to do in my own life, took notes, and set it aside to wait until the canning season was over; then I took it out and looked at it again and set it aside to wait until the Christmas season was over.

Now I think the time is right!

The concept is that you come up with 12 New Things that you want to learn in a year, and then you assign each item to a month.  During that month, you make the time to learn your New Thing.  In my case, I'll blog about it so you'll know what I learned, too!  These are all things I've been interested in doing for a while (some for a VERY long while!).  Splitting them into months will feel less overwhelming than looking at a long list and wondering where to start.

You can write your 12 New Things in a notebook, on a paper you hang on the wall, or on your calendar - anywhere, really!  Make it be 12 New Books, 12 New Recipes, 12 New Places to visit - be adventurous!  Learn it on your own, get your kids involved, or make it a group project or a home school event.  I would be thrilled if you would post your 12 New Things here in the comments section so I can be inspired by you!

12 New Things

Learn how to ...

January: Make tallow candles
February: Make tallow soap
March: Let my man go for nine months
April: Make yogurt
May: Watch my husband graduate boot camp
June: Make laundry detergent
July: Make natural root beer and ginger ale (Carla Emery style!)
August: Make sanitary wipes
September: Make and dry pasta
October: Make popcorn (from fresh corn)
November: Watch my husband graduate again
December: Go with the flow - who knows where we'll be by this time?

I am assigning these all to a given month as seems to suit the seasons, but I may shift them around over the course of a year as schedule permits or as the Navy orders (a year is a long time to plan ahead!).  

In the interest of learning,

Mrs H

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, 
who finds peace in his home.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Immensely Popular Cheesy Bread (bonus: very cheap to make)

No matter how much of this I make at dinner time, there is never any left over.  It is the perfect accompaniment to salads, soups, saucy pasta dishes, and pickled pig snouts!  I volunteer in hospice/home-care, and one day when I was helping an elderly woman clean her house we found this recipe in an old newspaper clipping. I wrote it down in my ever-present notebook and that evening I made it at home - it was so good that when I visited her again, since she couldn't find the recipe any more, she had me write it down on a piece of paper for her to try!

The best part about this recipe -?  It's incredibly easy, super-fast, and the recipe is easy to memorize.  I've made it at the last minute so many times, in so many homes!  It has always been snapped up instantly, even by picky eaters and self-professed mayonnaise-haters (just don't tell them until after they rave about it).

2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
Optional: 1 bunch chopped green onions
1 (unsliced) loaf French or sourdough bread, halved lengthwise (I like to use a fat, round sourdough boule)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the first four ingredients together; spread evenly on the two halves of the bread.

Bake for 20 minutes.


Try all sorts of add-ins ... minced roasted red pepper, dried tomato, chives, parsley, olives, basil, chopped bacon - let your imagination run as wild as your pantry will allow!



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