Things I Want to Eat

The first 10-ish weeks of this pregnancy haven’t been all that much craving induced (unlike the last pregnancy, where I ate nothing but cheeseburgers for 3 months).  But in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wanting nothing but deviled eggs and pastry.

As for the pastries, I’ll take any variety, please!  Doughnuts, croissants, fritters, danishes – if it’s sweet and buttery/fried I will eat it.  Yesterday I bought four danishes for Rob and I – two each.  There’s one left… who wants to guess who gets to eat it?  Yeah, that won’t be me (Yes, I ate two danishes yesterday.  I am gross.). 

But mostly, I want deviled eggs.  ALL THE TIME.  This means that I’ve been boiling a lot of eggs lately, and impatiently waiting through the chill/”meld” time that you’re *supposed* to wait after you’ve put the filling back in the eggs. 

I’ve found that it’s not actually a lot of work.  I don’t get all fancy, piping the yolk mixture back into the whites.  I just slap it in with a spoon.  Baby doesn’t care if it’s fancy, and I can’t be bothered to wash an icing bag every couple of days.  I’ve also found that if you use a little bit of forethought and turn your eggs on their sides in the carton the day before you’re going to make some deviled eggs, the yolk is much more centered in the white, which makes it easier to get the yolks out (and you’re less likely to break the side of the white where it may or may not be really thin). 

I’ve only tried this recipe so far, but I really want to try some of the others, like her horseradish one, or the “little bit devlish” one.  If you’ve never made them before (which I hadn’t, before I started craving them), there’s even a nifty “how to” guide, which takes you step by step throught the process (with pictures!).  So it’s great to find out how to get nice yellow (not grey) yolks, and has the tip about turning the eggs sideways in their cartons. 

For my personal comsumption, I only make 3 eggs at a time (I usually boil six, so I can make some more a day or two later… or that night, if the mood strikes), so I end up halving the yolk mixture.  It makes somethings a bit tricky (you have to scoop a 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar, not pour it), but I usually won’t eat 6 deviled eggs (or 12 halves) in one sitting, and I don’t love to store them. 

Well, my cooling time is almost up, so now instead of just talking about eggs, I’m going to go eat some.  Yum!

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Bits and Bites

I’m lazy and tired and have WAY too many things to do, so here’s a short list of things that you might want to know.

  • Kitten has renamed Nybbles.  She’s now called “Moses”.  Don’t ask me why, but it is what it is.  Also, Kitten has learned how to make that “pssss psss pssss” noise and rub her fingers together when she wants the cats to come to her!  It’s hilarious.  “Moses” usually ignores her, but Tych has been known to come on the occassion (depending on how much love he’s received lately). 
  • I’ve still bee knitting like I have lost my brain.  Here are some of my most current items:

I did a set of three pairs of shorties for a wonderful lady on Cloth Diaper Nation. Here they are (please excuse the terrible photography in the first picture)

RoxyRocks Shorties

RoxyRocks Shorties

RoxyRocks Shorties

I also had time to crank out a skirtie for Kitten. I really love it, even though it took nearly 12 oz of wool (that’s a lot) and a zillion hours to do!

Kitten in her new skirt

  • My site was hacked.  It was kind of funny, but I’m just grateful that they didn’t do anything malicious… like corrupting my files and such.  So I’m doing a backup again today, and trying to figure out how to change my ftp password.  It’s lame right now, so I want to make sure it’s more secure in the future.  It’s possible that they guy just hacked everyone on the server… but I’d like to be a little responsible for my own security, you know?  Anyway, I have high hopes of moving my blog hosting to our server, but Rob isn’t sure if  it will slow my blog down and such.  But if it loads in half a second or one second… does it really matter?  I assume that *most* people use a feed-reader, anyway, so they’re not really loading my site as it is. 
  • Our air conditioner is on the fritz.  Some days it works, and others NOT AT ALL.  Apparently I am now a big spoiled baby because the heat makes me CRANKY.  Which sucks.  We have a repair guy coming tomorrow, and it’s been working *ok* (but not as efficiently as I think it could be), but when you buy something new, you don’t expect it to break barely a year after you’ve bought it, you know?
  • Also broken:  My washing machine.  Although not unusable, it makes a really loud squeaking noise… some times.  I originally thought that I had destroyed it by using too much soap, but the squeaking comes and goes, and happens when the drum is pushed on (we have a front-loader).  So… I’m using it until the it squeaks all the time and then we’ll have the repair guy out to look at it.  I don’t want to use it into the ground (and then buy a snookem new one)… or do I?  I have my eye on the LG fancypants one.  But in white, because we’re not replacing our perfectly good dryer.
  • We’re on week 4 of our homeschooling, and thing seem to be going ok.  How do I judge it?  I mean, Kitten doesn’t learn and use her vocabulary word every week (seriously, how do you work “vines” into every day conversation, other than “Hey kid, go get me a glass of Wild Vines Wine out of the fridge?”), nor does she always remember the sign language sign for the week (but “cat” was a hit, and she totally knows that one!!!), but she DOES remember shapes, colours, letters and numbers.  So I guess that’s better than nothing.  This week the topic is eyes and the vocab word is “iris”, so I try to talk about “mommy’s iris’ are blue, auntie’s iris’ are brown” after explaining what an iris is (the coloured part of your eye).  We try to review our learning poster every day to help with retention, but I don’t know if what I’m doing is “right”, you know?  Regardless, it helps me to interact with her a little more and helps me to plan pointed activities, rather that just letting her play independantly all day long. 
  • We had AWFUL ammonia stink in our diapers.  Probably a mixture of detergent and mineral build-up.  I finally found some RLR locally (Sobeys!  WOOT!), so I have officially stripped all of Kitten’s diapers and they are so soft and sweet smelling now.  Hopefully I won’t have to worry about that again any time soon.  However, I’ve decided to strip our microfiber because it’s all so dingy and gets smelly fast, so there must be yuck in there still.  First I have to catch up on some regular laundry.  I am so tired of doing laundry.  ::sigh::
  • I haven’t talked about Jamie Oliver in a long time (I know, what’s wrong with me?), but I recently bought his new book “Jamie’s Food Revolution”.  It’s a recipe book where the whole idea is to learn a handful of simple but tasty recipes and to teach them to your friends.  Then your friends teach them to their friends, and so on.  That way, everyone’s learning how to cook a few great meals and eating less take-out, which is ALWAYS a good thing.  Now, some people don’t need cooking lessons (I’m looking at you, Hanna), but for the rest of us who get stuck in the same rut all the time (spagetti, pancakes, KD, that was typical around here!) it’s great to be able to plan out a week of exciting different foods.  I especially love his curries section (mmm!  Curry!) and stir frys.  If you have a chance to even just peek at the book, it’s SO PRETTY!  I think I pet it for like, four days, before I started to cook out of it. 
  • I’ve started using the Oil Cleansing Method for facial care.   I still get terrible acne and there doesn’t seem to be anything that is helping it.  Plus, I am STILL struggling to find a good moistuizer.  So, the premise of this method is that you mix castor oil (plant based, aparently magical) with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and rub it into your skin.  Then you use a very hot, wet cloth and hold it over your face, then gently swoop the oil off, rinsing the cloth a lot.  I used it last night at the sink and this morning in the shower.  The sink method works better, because you’re not sweating in the shower (or is that only me?).  I liked how smooth my face felt after, and especially how that always dry and flaky patch between my eyebrows was just normal skin (although I could still see my angry elevens).  I don’t really need to use a moisturizer after doing this, and I liked that part best of all! 🙂  I’ll let you know how it all continues, especially during the hormonal acne I get during my period! 

Anywhoodle.  I think I’m going to go knit – I have one more skirtie custom to do and then I have a break to knit my own things.  I have oh-so-many things to knit.  Like a tank top for myself, a halter dress for Kitten, my winter cowl, a church shawl for myself… Lots of things.

Nom Nom Nom

I mentioned earlier that we picked up some fish from the Farmers Market on the weekend.  I was dreaming of fish sticks, so I decided to use my Mahi Mahi steak to indulge my craving.  I’m not sure if this was a sacriligeous thing to do with a nice cut of fish, but boy howdy were they good! 

In order to get our yummy dinner, this is what I did:

1.  Cut fish steak into strips, about half an inch wide, or a little wider if you’re worried about the fish falling apart when it cooks (a few of our pieces did).

2.  Dip the fish strips into egg, then into the breading (I used 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup of coconut and 1 tbsp of seafood rub – you can use any spice mix that you think would be tasty.  The coconut added a nice exotic flavour to the fish sticks, I was really surprised at how good they were).

3.  Fry them in about 1.5″ of oil (which every kind you prefer, but I used canola because olive oil is too expensive to put into a pan that way.  If you’re really into the “Real Food” business, you’d use some sort of animal fat for this.  I’m not sure which fat would be best).  Scoop them out and store them on a rack over a plate or a cookie sheet (this lets the excess oil drip off).

Finished fishsticks

4. I was going to bake up some homemade fries but decided that I already had hot oil in my pan, why not get the maximum amount of milage out of it? After cutting up your potatoes into smallish strips, throw handfulls of them in the oil (VERY CAREFULLY!). Swish around with your tongs and then scoop them out when they are golden.

Frying the fries

Yummy Fries

5. Cut up some veggies to go with. We did carrot sticks, because if we were going to have a theme (sticks of food!) we were going to do it all the way. Wouldn’t you know? This is the only form in which Kitten will eat carrots (a great surprise to us all – carrots were an anathema to her previous to this dinner).

Mmmm... supper!

Fishsticks!

We did use our homemade ketchup here. It was tasty, but I will tell you that it doesn’t taste like Heinz. When I made it, tomatoes weren’t in season, so they didn’t taste as good as they could have, and red wine vinegar is a very strong flavour, so it kind of takes over. It’s still good… but a lot more tart than your typical store-bought stuff. I think next time I will make it in the peak of tomato season, and I will use Jamie Oliver’s recipe instead (which is much more complex, btw).

6. EAT DINNER! Kitten sure did. This is the first time that she’s ever ACTUALLY finished her supper. Usually she leaves a bit, but she totally cleaned her plate! It was amazing. Her plate (in the picture) is the small one.

Even Kitten liked it!

Final thoughts:

I think before I make this again I am going to buy a pair of silicone tipped tongs. I was so worried about my metal tongs scratching my pan that it gave me a bit of a heart attach each time I had to scoop stuff out of the pans. I think it would also be really nice to have something that cuts up fries for me, but what are the chances of that happening? I wouldn’t want to store a large machine to cut them up, so chances are I’ll just continue to chop up my potatoes.

Cost (none of this was organic, FYI):
$3 – Mahi Mahi (it was on sale)
$0.50 – Flour, coconut, spice rub
$1 – Potatoes (we buy a smallish bag, so this might be less for you)
$2 – Oil
$0.80 – Carrots

Total cost: $6.30 – So tasty and WAY cheaper than buying it all prepackaged!

Hot Dog Night

Tomorrow is hot dog night.  I love hot dog night.  We usually have french fries, hot dogs with buns and celery sticks. 

But tomorrow is going to be extra special.  Do you know why?  Because I’m going to make my own ketchup.  I know, right?  I am going to use this recipe.  I have no idea how it’s going to taste, but I am near giddy with it.  If you are lucky, I might even take pictures and blog the whole experience!

I need help, though.  I’m trying “home-made” up hot dog night.  I can make fries from potatoes (which I do!  And they are good!), and I can make some of my own condiments.  But I can’t make hot dog buns to save my life.  Not the fluffy nice Wonderbread ones like at the store.  I tried to make buns once, and they were AWFUL.  They were super hard and crusty and just not nice even in the slightest.  Does anyone have any recipes that they know are good?

Cheap Dinner

In an effort to be frugal in our grocery budget this week, I decided to look up some Hillbilly Housewife recipes, and see if I couldn’t find something tasty that wouldn’t end up costing us a lot.  I settled on Taco Rice with Beans and Flour Tortillas.

The price breakdown worked out like this:  I’ve calculated that flour costs around 15 cents per cup, based on the cup’s weight (150g), and the price of $10 for 10 kg, which is the usual price for generic flour in our grocery store.  You use 4 cups of flour, which worked out to 60 cents.  I used 1/3 cup of shorting, which worked out to around 38 cents.  I didn’t count the teaspoon or so of baking soda, because I don’t remember how much paid for the container, nor how many teaspoons are in a container (plus, the math on that kind of makes my head hurt a bit.  The rice and the spices I valued at around $2, because you use a fair amount of dehydrated minced onions.  If I could get those more cheaply in bulk, I think the cost of this meal would go down.  I spent $1.21 on a large tomato (but we think it would taste better with canned chopped tomatoes – they tend to have a stronger flavour), and $1.99 for a can of black beans.  I didn’t add in the sour cream and salsa we used for a bit of topping (for the three of us, a couple of tablespoons of salsa, and about 100 ml of sour cream).  So if you add that up, it comes out to $6.18.

We served it up in bowls, with fresh tortillas on hand for piling the rice and beans on top of, or for scooping up the rice and beans.  Either way was pretty good.  For Kitten, we gave her a tortilla and mixed sour cream into her rice, to remove some of the spice taste.  Over all, both Rob and I really enjoyed the meal, and found it filling (we had over a serving left, maybe 2?).  Kitten didn’t like the beans, but that seems to be where she’s at these days. 

Cooking the meal wasn’t too terribly difficult.  I made the tortilla shells about 3 hours before dinner.  I would recommend using parchment paper rather than waxed paper as called for.  The wax paper crumpled and tore really easily, whereas the parchment paper lasted a lot longer.  The dough was pretty easy to mix up, and had really simple ingredients… although I’ve never bought shortning before!  If anyone tries the recipe with butter or oil, let me know if it works the same.  I found rolling out the tortillas very difficult, and our tortillas ended up a lot thicker than store-bought ones.  I am quite sure that this would have been infinitely easier with a tortilla press.  Frying them in the pan was very simple, though.  I think I would make these again, but I might enlist Rob’s help for the rolling out (I was really, really tired by the end).  I put the shells in a plastic bag after they were done cooking, and they did soften up by dinner time.  You could fold them in half, but I think they would have broken if we had tried to roll them like a burrito (tucked in at the ends).  I think if they had been thinner, they would have softened even nicer.  These ones did stay nice and warm in the bag, even though they sat on the counter for 3 hours.  For the rice, I premixed the rice and the spices, and added them to the oil once it had warmed up a little bit.  I then added the water, chopped tomato and the beans.  I used a 19 oz can of black beans, which I think was just a little bit too much beans for the amount of rice.  However, I know that we got a decent amount of protein that way.  I do think that the tomato I used didn’t have a lot of flavour, so I would either use a different kind of tomato, or maybe use a can of tomatoes instead.  I think that next time I will chose whichever is cheapest (seeing as how it is no longer tomato season, I’m thinking that the can will win). 

We really enjoyed making tacos out of the meal, adding sour cream and salsa and wrapping it up in the tortilla shells.  If you want to get really crazy, you can chop up any other taco fixings and throw them on, as well.  The taco rice mixed could really be used as a cheap alternative to meat for family taco night.  If you have beef, but want to spread it a bit thinner, I think you could mix cooked ground beef into the rice after the rice has finished cooking.  Hmmm… I think I see this rice dish in our future! 

Of Calculators and Lists

I am currently reading Living on Less and Liking it More by Maxine Hancock.  There isn’t much in it that I haven’t heard before, one way or another.  However, it is a good reminder for what we should strive to be like, striving to be content rather than rich, to have love rather than things, to work together as a family rather than blaming each other for the financial woes in our lives, etc. 

She was relating a story of how one week they had no money for groceries, and very little food left in the house.  They received a small sum of money in the mail from an overpayment and a reprint of an article she had written.  They took their small amount of money to the grocery store, and spent it as wisely as they could, to get the most from what they had.  This story reminded me of our shopping trip last night.

You see, we had exactly $63 left for groceries this week.  At the beginning of the month, we spent a little more than necessary on luxury items (you know, pizza pops, cookies, that kind of stuff), as well as we had to buy a tray of beef and a tray of chicken (which was about $35 combined – meat sure does take a chunk out of the grocery fund!).  So we were left with a little less for this week.  Last night, Rob and I made a grocery list, and put on it everything we were out of or low on.  Then I pulled up the Hillybilly Housewife Low Cost Emergency Menu.  I used some of her suggestions to plan our week’s meals, but lets be honest – I don’t cook breakfast or lunch like that, so I was able to take some things off the menu and substitute it with other things.  Also, groceries cost a lot more here than they must in the States…  Flour, for example, is about $1 per kg (2.2 lbs), whereas she has it listed as $1 for 5 lbs.  I planned out our meals, added the things that we would need to our shopping list, and then looked at the list again.  I knew I had only $63 to use this week, so I had to cross off all the things that I figured that I could do without. 

It was actually a tiny bit fun to go around the grocery store and get the things that we needed for the week, and to add everything up on my calculator.  It reminded me of when I first lived on my own, and my oldest brother gave me $200 in gift certificates for a local grocery store.  I spent those gift certificates down to the penny.  I would add everything up, making sure that I got the best prices on everything.  I don’t think I’ve ever shopped so wisely as those few months with the gift certificates.  Anyway, in making sure that we knew exactly how much everything cost, we were even able to get a few things that I said that I wouldn’t (ie. butter, chocolate chips for baking).  We did sacrifice a few things (ie. I’d bake bread with the supplies I had on hand, rather than buy it), but in the end, I don’t think that any of us went without the things we needed… just the things that we wanted.  Rob didn’t buy any candy, I didn’t buy any chips or pop, and Kitten didn’t get any fancy finger foods that we really just can’t afford (and that she doesn’t need). 

I just wanted to encourage others who are finding this financial crunch time to be hard on the grocery budget to persevere, and try not to use your credit cards.  I understand how tempting it is just to put down our plastic and get the things that we’re used to.  But with a little more work, and a lot of preplanning, it’s not too hard to make do with what we can afford.  The nicest thing about paying with cash is that there is no bill the next month.  No one really wants to pay for their groceries for years on end, and why would we want to make already high grocery prices higher by paying interest on them? 

If we all share our ideas on how to save money, then each of us will have a lot of different ideas.  What are ways that you’re saving/spending money this week? 

Cinnamon Roll Heaven

Last week (or maybe the week before, I don’t know), I decided to make cinnamon rolls.  It’s one of Rob’s and my favourite treats, but something that we’ve had to cut out of our budget (you know, so we could buy milk and stuff).  I thought I would surprise Rob one day and make some at home so we could enjoy them without the monetary guilt.  I canvassed around, and my good friend sent me to Pioneer Woman.

I’m not a regular reader of Pioneer Woman.  I’m just not.  Don’t know why, but I suppose that her stuff just didn’t interest me.  So I didn’t even think to check there, even though I’ve heard lots of raves about her recipes.  So, I went over and checked, and holy cow!  Her recipe is for certain The Best Ever.  Go look at the link, I’ll wait.

Ok, you’re done?  You looked at it?  Here’s my advice on her recipe:

1.  Make sure that you use a big pot to put the dough in, don’t transfer the scalded milk over to a different bowl.  It saves time, and it works really really well just to use a giant pot.  Believe me.

2.  Don’t melt your butter all the way like she does.  If its really soft (as in, sat out for the past several hours), it will spread really well with a spatula, but more importantly, it won’t run off the edges of your dough like mine did.  I had a giant butter puddle on the counter, and it was a pain in the rump to clean up.  The people at the Professional Cinnamon Roll Place use really really soft butter, so I suggest that you do that too.

3.  I used brown sugar instead of white to spread on the rolls.  It lends more colour, plus I just like the depth of flavour in brown sugar.  You can do what you want, but I liked the brown.

4.  Roll the way that she tells you to.  Read the directions for SURE, and roll it so it’s a long roll, not a really fat roll.  I did one the long way, and one the short way, and the long roll works WAY better. 

5.  Place your rolls in your pans strategically.  If you like taller, more doughy rolls (like Cinnzeo), pack them tighter into the pan so they rise up instead of spreading out.  They won’t bake quite as thoroughly, so that will give you that chewier texture.  If you like them a bit drier and more like a bun, put them with more space in the pan.  I have to do half and half because I prefer them chewier, and Rob likes them more like bread. 

I was too lazy to make the icing (also, I didn’t have icing sugar, and they really DON’T need icing), so we ate ours plain.  In, like, a week.  We ate 30 cinnamon rolls in 1 weeks time.  We’re disgusting.  But the rolls are so, so good! 

If you want to store them, I recommend that you wrap the cooled rolls individually in cling wrap, then put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.  then you can get them out one at a time, and it protects them longer against freezer burn (not that ours were in there long enough to get freezer burn, but you know what I mean). 

We really, really loved this recipe, and I will definitely make it again!  It was so awesome. 

Cinnamon Rolls