Friday, July 3, 2015

Spoonless In Staunton

The past few days have been painful.  Hopefully the weather will turn around and we'll see some sunshine soon.  We tried to go peach picking yesterday but it turned out they were "between varieties"...  so we'll try again in a few weeks.  We did end up spending time with some great friends so it was a wonderful day despite the lack of spoons.

Managed to get 10 quarts of pickles and 20 quarts of beans canned this week - lack of spoons be damned.






Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  No big plans, but with any luck there will be a surprise spoon delivery and there will be much fun had by all.



The kids have started designing a new board game.  I'm really looking forward to testing this out and developing rules.  One rule that has already been offered up - parents aren't allowed to win.  At least they're still open to letting us play.


My little yogini decided to give herself a time out after having a spat with her little sister.
This is how I found her.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trying to get them to like cabbage...

Today I was able to con the children into helping me wash the van as a way to cool off.  WIN!  And then I was stung on the top of my head by a bee.  Can't win them all I suppose.

Still looking for a way to get my favorites to enjoy cabbage.  This recipe is a small victory.  Piper cleaned her plate, Jeff said it was 'meh', and Sydney wouldn't touch it.  Better than the normal response.  I thought it was pretty tasty but then again I like cabbage pretty much any way its fixed.

Roasted Cabbage Steak:

Slice head of cabbage into "steaks" about an inch thick
Put them on a baking sheet.
I chose to put Olive Garden Italian dressing and a little bit of kosher salt on these and then bake them for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Then I turned them over, put a little more dressing on them and baked them for another 20 minutes.  When they were done I topped them with a zucchini and tomato sauce concoction.

Zucchini & Tomato Sauce Concoction:

1 Onion sliced
1 large zucchini chunked
Pasta sauce - all depends on how saucy you want your concoction to end up.

Saute onion in olive oil, once it starts to brown add the zucchini and cook until it is softened.  Add pasta sauce and cook until sauce is hot.

This is a terrible picture.  I really should have picked literally
 ANY other color plate.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Spaghetti Tacos

The kids have discovered thus fallen in love with iCarly.
This can only mean one thing... spaghetti tacos for dinner!
Spaghetti tacos for EVERYONE!

Lesson learned - line your taco shell with a slice of provolone cheese to lessen the soggy factor from the past a sauce.  To be perfectly honest - this is a fun and tasty way to eat spaghetti and meatballs.  
We will be doing this again.

 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mini Vacation Pt. 2

We had a great time at Kings Dominion.  I even rode a few rides!  The one that did me in was the little tea cup type ride.  Luckily I was able to walk a semi straight line on my own afterward but had I spun around one more time I do believe the story may have ended differently.

There were very few food options for us - over priced prepackaged snack food.  The taco place we found that boasted gluten free options didn't have any practices in place to prevent cross contamination and had gluten in their taco meat.  While I am VERY glad they let us know I was of course a little disappointed to be mislead about what our options would be in the park.  Luckily we plan ahead and stayed in a hotel close enough that we could leave and come back easily for meals.  There are several hotels near by with rooms that include kitchenettes, if you are traveling with allergies I highly recommend looking into those options.

 
Soak City was the highlight
of the day as far as the kids
were concerned.

Let the canning begin!

If you're going to be stuck in a
hot kitchen you might as well
enjoy a tall glass of southern
sweet mint iced tea.
Today was the day!  Time to break out the canner and get down to business.  It was nice to be able to start with small batches rather than staring down the barrel at piles of food threatening to go bad if you look at it the wrong way.  With any luck I'll be able to stay on top of everything (yes, I realize I probably just jinxed myself).  Three quarts of beans and four quarts of pickles.  We decided to throw in a pint of zucchini pickles just to see what happens.  Looks like I'll be able to pick more beans tomorrow.


Looking forward to getting into the bees tomorrow.  It has been 9 days since I put on the honey super so it will be exciting to see their progress.

    
Kiddos are at their Mawmaw and Granddaddy's
house this evening so that means a mini vacation
for Jeff and I.  Sushi and the new cider by
Woodchuck.  I highly recommend.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Piper and the Art of French Cooking

This past winter Piper was in bed for several days with a terrible fever and achy body.  One of the things we did to pass the time together was watch episodes of Julia Child the French Chef on Amazon.  She fell in love Julia and asked for her cookbook for Christmas.  How do you say no when a 4 year old asks for Mastering the Art of French Cooking?  We have decided to start cooking our way through the book and see if we can come up with gluten free substitutes where necessary.

Eggs seemed like a pretty good place to start since she has a bit of experience working with eggs and loves to eat them.

It doesn't hurt that we have access to fresh eggs from happy chickens thanks to my grandparents.  With any luck the county we live in will get it together and we will be able to have our own chickens in the near future.

   
We had a good time with this one.  Brinner is favorite around these parts.  Next up... Omelettes? 

  

video 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Quickle Update

You guys...  just go ahead and make a jar of these.  You're welcome.

http://gfreekitchens.blogspot.com/2015/06/quickle.html



Luckily we came home to these lovelies so I can replenish
the supply.

Mini Vacation Pt. 1

"Can we go to Chuck E. Cheese's, Pllleeeeeeaaaaassssseeee."  I like to think that we are not the only ones that have heard this plea.  I had never been to a Chuck E. Cheese's but I was quite intrigued by their gluten free practices so we made that stop one on our mini vacation adventure.

 

I was not feeling well due to a new medicine I'm on (that will be a separate post) so I did not partake in the eating of the pizza.  The kiddos were very happy with the whole experience and may have been more excited about their personal pizza cutters than the skeeball machines.

The pizzas are baked and delivered in a special package so there is no chance of cross contamination.  Each pizza also comes with its very own wrapped pizza cutter.  The GF pizzas are not included in any of the Eat & Play Values and the only type available is Margherita, BUT at least you can take your kids there and let them be a part of something fun and not have to worry about them getting sick from the food.

  
  

I still think the skeeball is the best part.

 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Quickle

And it begins.

I have big plans for making enough pickles to feed a small nation this year.  Mostly because rationing the jars I made last year was an exercise in futility. I have never in my life been able to get a cucumber plant to do well so to get enough out of the first picking for a quart of quick pickles and a snack has me a lil' giddy.

I did some poking around on the internets for quick pickle recipes and I swear every single one of them called for sugar.  I hate a sweet pickle.  I don't want my pickles to even have looked at a grain of sugar.  Sooo, I decided to wing it and throw together a recipe of my own.  At this point I have zero idea how this is going to turn out so you'll have to check back to see if I ate them all or burned them with fire.

Dill Quickle:  To a quart jar add - 1tbs pickling salt, 1/2tsp dill seed, 1 clove of smashed garlic and then pack the jar with cucumber.  Fill the jar half way with white wine vinegar, fill the rest of the way with water.  Shake the jar up (with the lid on, come on now...) and then put it in the refrigerator and wait.  How long?  I don't know.  I'll let you know what I find out.


These little cuties are always up to something.  Today they were working on their very own Kitchen Small Engine Repair Shop.  Good times.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's Day Eve

My favorites had some fun art time in the sun shade.  A little while later this was all washed away by the rain but they had a great time while it lasted.  Hopefully tomorrow's weather will cooperate so they can shoot some hoops with the Father's Day basketball.

 

 
 While they were all getting their art on I tip toed through the flowers and caught a few honey bees looking for water in the bone dry bird bath.  I got some water for them and was able to grab a few shots before they flew off.  I even got lucky enough to catch one in flight.

video
The ladies seem to have recovered well from yesterdays excitement.  Here they are coming back in before the storm.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The kids and I fancy ourselves Harvard students...

Signed up for another EdX course today (currently finishing up a course on comic books).  This one is Science & Cooking and is being offered for free by Harvard. The kids are I are going to be doing the course together.  I have no idea what we'll get out of it but hopefully we'll accidentally learn a thing or two.

Dinner:  I decided to go ahead and pick the peas early so that I won't have to deal with so many right before we leave.  Sauteed them up with some broccoli, asparagus, and zucchini.  Threw in some fresh basil, pinch of kosher salt and a splash of lemon juice - not too shabby.



Also went with the easy option for protein.  We get these at Costco.  They aren't anywhere near as good as salmon cakes but for a reasonably quick meal option (25 minutes from frozen) they aren't that bad.  Speaking of Costco - anyone else feel the kick to the shin when they upped the price on the Udi's bread?  Love the larger loaves of bread though.  Too bad they aren't all that size that's what she said.  Perhaps this will be the push we need to try making bread again.

 

I didn't end up getting a picture of the finished product because I got distracted by this little lady getting herself all gussied up for no other reason than it made her happy.

 

Honey? Super!

Got the honey super added this morning.  Didn't end up taking the camera to get shots inside the hive because I had a smoker issue and well...  lets just say they bees have been happier.  Good news is that I somehow managed not to get stung and the bees seem no worse for the wear.  Found and clipped two Queen cells, saw good brood patterns, and lots of honey stored.  I'm taking these as good signs.  Every time I see a queen cell I am tempted to divide and conquer and start a new colony - haven't been brave enough yet.  Always open to hearing the experiences and opinions of others on the matter.

Here are some pictures and videos of the ladies telling me where to go after adding the super.

Enjoy!

video video

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sun Tea and Beekeeping

A day full of vacation prep, sun tea making, errand running, beekeeping, and we still managed to squeeze in time to play in the water.  Tomorrow I will be adding the first honey super to the backyard hive.  I decided to go with a 10 frame medium deep super and to stick with the black plastic foundation.  I'm planning to take the frames to someone with an extractor this year so plastic foundation seemed the best way to go.  Next year I'll try my hand at some cut comb honey.

OH yeah... I have bees now.  That happened while you were I was away.  They are super amazing wonderful creatures and I just love to watch them.  I never would have guessed that being in the middle of a bee hive with tons of buzzing while wearing a suit that makes me sweat gallons would be a relaxing, meditative activity for this little ball of anxiety.  Love this crazy life.

Here are some fun pictures from our day.  With any luck I'll be able to catch some pictures and some video at the hive tomorrow.

     

Herb Cubes

You might want to take a step back...  I'm attempting something I saw on Pinterest.  We always end up with more fresh herbs than we can use - what an awfully wonderful problem to have.  With the extra basil I'm making herb and olive oil ice cubes.  I'll have to come up with a good excuse to use one of these soon to see if its worth preserving the rest of the herbs this way.

I used kitchen shears and cut the basil up and distributed it in the ice cube tray and then topped them off with olive oil.  Put the tray in the freezer and the next morning I had herb cubes.  I chose to reuse an ice cream container to store them, hopefully that is a choice I won't regret.