Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hearty Butternut Soup

With a few hundred pounds of squash in our basement, we have tried many variations of butternut soup, many of which got poured down the drain. The taste just wasn't there or the texture was icky, to use the girls' words. Today, I finally found a variation we all liked.

Hearty Butternut Soup

2-3 pounds butternut squash
2 small onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon majoram
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth

  1. Prepare butternut squash ahead of time by baking for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool. Then, peel and dice into chunks.
  2. In a large saucepan, saute onions, carrots, and garlic in butter until onions are translucent.
  3. Add flour, majoram, salt and pepper. Stir on medium-high heat for one minute.
  4. Add milk, stirring constantly.
  5. Stir in cubed, peeled squash.
  6. Stir in chicken broth. Reduce heat to simmer.
  7. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Normal vs Preferred

Lately, most every night our dining room table looks like this:

Between Jay's stacks to grade and my stacks to learn, we have reached epic levels of geekdom. It's exhausting, and we are ready to be done with it all. At least Jay's stacks to grade would be easier to handle if I didn't have to rely on him so much so that I could get my homework done and still work some.

Well, this weekend, Jay is at a vegetable growers conference, so I did not sign up to work. Daddy's out of town, and Mommy doesn't have to work, translates to a girls day!

We watched Mary Poppins, because Maggie just finished reading the book, and watched Little Women, because I want Katie and Maggie to read that book.

We made Boogie Shoes for Lainie and Maggie's upcoming dance performance:

We made candle holders out of old jars, Mod Podge, and tissue paper:

Maggie and I made a batch of sugar-free, cinnamon-free Sweet Potato Bars. And Katie and I made a taco casserole for supper.There was lots of dress-up, lots of books, lots of colors, and thankfully, lots of napping.

It feels like that first warm day in spring after a terribly cold winter, the kind that smells like rain and just makes you want to dance. It was a reminder of what weekends used to be like and a glimpse of what we can return to in about 6 months. It was what I needed, more than anything. And I think it's what the girls needed too.

And there is still another day to the weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beef Stew Improv

Tonight I made up a beef stew, because what better way to celebrate the first snowflakes than a big pot of stew. Because it was so, so good, and because my stew usually is edible but not delicious, and because recipes written around here get misplaced, I'm posting the recipe here (how many becauses can you get in one paragraph):

1 pound beef stew meat
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
3 T worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 bay leaf
7 potatoes, peeled and sliced thick
1/2 bag of frozen corn
2 tomatoes, peeled and chunked
  1. Saute onions and beef in olive oil until onions are translucent and beef is just browned on the edges.
  2. Add beef broth, water, carrots, worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, and liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Add corn, tomatoes, and potatoes. Simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Remove bay leaf and serve.
The best of the meal might not have been the stew, though. It was probably the cheddar biscuits Maggie made into stars and moon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Magical Autumn

Today, I woke up from a four-hour nap (after working last night 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. with an extra hour thanks to the time change) and the house was silent. I was so sure the girls were off the property that I checked to see if Jay’s truck was in the driveway. Both vehicles were there. It was a first-time event: the girls were quiet and on the property and awake.

I came down stairs, groggy, and heard giggling from the front porch. Looking out the window, I saw Natalie on the picnic bench, coloring her pumpkin with chalk. I saw Lainie coloring clouds on the porch floor. I saw a tumbleweed stuck in our patio table like a patio umbrella. And, I saw Katie waving leaves around like wings.

“Look, Mommy! It’s a FairyLand! Natalie and Lainie are the tinker fairies; they are fixing the tables. Maggie’s the decorating fairy; she’s decorating our house. And I’m the dance fairy. Watch me dance, Mommy!”

When Natalie saw me, she dropped the chalk and sprinted as fast as her chubby little legs could run, jumping for a big hug and snuggle. She smelled of fall, like cool dirt and dried leaves, which only made sense, since she spent the afternoon digging potatoes with Daddy and had a fairy wreath of leaves in her hair.

Lainie was singing as she colored, one song after another. “Twinkle Twinkle” and “B-I-N-G-O” and “Wildcat Victory” and “Bubble-Guppies”… not all her songs are traditional.

Maggie was carrying a piece of soft pipe used in one of high tunnels, but it was no longer a pipe. Now it was a majorette’s baton, a ninja’s sword, a fairy’s magic wand, and eventually a Big Sister’s weapon to clock a Little Sister.

And Katie was dancing, twirling, kicking, spinning, happy with life, no worries what anyone would say, no cares about who was looking.

I know moments like these are going by too fast, and I’m so grateful I got to experience this one.
The Fairy Land
Our uncut Jack-O-Lanterns. So glad the girls didn't ask about it; we never found time to cut them this year.