Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Spaceship Heater, Do-it-yourself

My husband just installed our new Spaceship.... uh... I mean, heater. I've been teasing him that it looks Spaceship-esque, with all the silver tubing and the tall pipe. But I have to give a big kudos to my husband. He did all the engineering and research to get this all figured out. If it was up to me, we'd just be wearing 10 layers of clothing every day and running laps around the house to stay warm.

When we came back from deer hunting (that should be a blog post, but probably won't ever materialize...) in early November, we brought back with us his grandma's old wood-burning furnace that wasn't being used anymore. Jeff made a little house for it (see the brown metal paneling), and added the tubes and smoke stack up. The silver tube on the right guides the heat into the house, and the tube on the left vents air out. 

Jeff installed a thermostat inside the house that hooks up to the furnace outside, but we're still trying to get it regulated. The first day with it on, we were all wearing shorts around the house. ;-)

But the idea is to help us cut costs. Wood that we gather ourselves doesn't cost anything, but buying gas to heat a house that is not insulated costs a lot. And since we're not going to be able to insulate in any way, this was the best option, especially since we're not sure exactly how long we're going to be in this dwelling place. But we sure like it here, living in the country, less than five miles from the church!

This is the side that the door to the furnace is on. Yes, we'll have to come outside to put wood in the stove. But hey, anything to save a buck or several hundred. ;-)

Green Tomato Ingenuity

Once again, I seem to be behind on writing this post. I just wanted to share my experience with green tomato ingenuity.

Down here in Missour-uh, as the locals say, we usually don't get a frost until later in October, but we got one at our garden spot in early October. Even before the frost, I was picking off the green tomatoes, because they weren't really turning red on the vine, they were just going bad, so I decided to skip that step and just bring in the tomatoes!

So I estimate I had about 5 gallons worth of green tomatoes. (I didn't bring them in all at once, and I used some up before they were all in, so I'm not entirely sure, but about that much.) And since I don't like to let anything go to waste, I thought I'd try out some new recipes! Here are some links to what I tried, along with some notes.

Green Tomato Recipes

Green Tomato Salsa -- This turned out pretty well, and I followed the recipe to can it.

Green Tomato Bread -- As with everything I do, I adapted it to give the flour a "soak time" by combining the yogurt and flours (I used all freshly ground whole wheat, instead of any APF) and letting it sit overnight. And I used all sugar, no Splenda. It turned out like any other quick bread, and you could probably use your favorite zucchini bread recipe, and just sub in green tomato puree. I think it's important, though, to make sure the excess liquid gets drained off of the tomato puree.

Green Tomato Jam -- I really like how this turned out. I ended up adding several teaspoons of cinnamon, as I saw other recipes that included cooking with cinnamon sticks, but since I didn't have any I just added cinnamon. 

Green Tomato Sauce -- I think this is what I used for the sauce... it's been a while ago, and I didn't bookmark or print off the recipe. I ended up using it for pizza sauce, and it worked really well, I just didn't stir in any sour cream. Make sure you freeze what you don't use, because it's easy to forget about in the back of the fridge... just sayin'.

Green Tomato Pie -- This recipe came out of my Presidential Cookbook from 1895. Here were the instructions: 
"Take medium-sized tomatoes, pare, and cut out the stem end. Having your pie-pan lined with paste made as biscuit dough, slice the tomatoes very thin, filling the pan somewhat heaping, then grate over it a nutmeg, put in half a cup of butter, and a medium cup of sugar, if the pan is rather deep. Sprinkle a small handful of flour over all, pouring in half a cup of vinegar before adding the top crust. Bake half an hour, in a moderately hot oven, serving hot. Is good; try it."
Well, I did try it... and ended up scraping out the filling to give to our chickens and eating the crust. I think it would've been alright, had it not been for the vinegar. 

Fried Green Tomatoes -- This is something I never tried. Maybe next year. Not sure how well the boys would like it.

Pickles or Mincemeat -- Thought about these options, but since we're not big on either, I decided not to. There's only so much time!

Enoch: 10-12 months and beyond

We've reached and surpassed the ONE YEAR mark for my little Enoch. (We call him the Noch-inator.) I always look forward to hitting that 12 month milestone, because it means so much... new and more foods can be eaten, walking, more independence, weaning... Well, at least getting closer to being weaned. ;-)

What can I say... we just love this guy. I didn't do much for his 1st birthday, no cake, not even a meat cake. I made custard, which he didn't really eat. Of which I didn't take a picture. Oops. We had other things going on that day.4

He does love meat, though. As I write this in mid-November, he's working on getting all his molars. Top two have broken through, bottom two are imminent. He still crawls some, but is a pretty good walker. He plays pretty well on his own, loves dancing and bobbing his head to music. He jabbers, can make many animal sounds and knows his "mama", "dada", brothers, "bam-pa" (grampa), "Buh-buh"(Buddy the dog). I know he says other things but that's all I can think of right now.

And he's gotten a haircut. All those curls gone. But hair grows back, so we'll see if the curl stays.

Take a walk down memory lane in pictures.

10th month, or there-abouts....
July 28

Aug. 8

Aug. 9

Aug. 13

Aug. 24 -- 10 months!

11th month, or there-abouts...
Aug. 28

 Sept. 4 -- Stuck in stroller while I watch my brother shoot bow.

Sept. 13 -- Look what I can do!

Sept. 20 -- playing outside

Sept. 22 -- almost 11 months

12th month, or there-abouts....
Sept. 26 -- On top of bunkbeds

 Oct. 9

Oct. 10 -- Look what else I can do!

Oct. 13

Oct. 24, THE birthday! 

Birthday breakfast, scrambled eggs. What is this pokey thing?

He's doing his "concentration lips" as he tries to put egg on the fork.

And beyond...

Nov. 4 -- Hunting time with Grampa! He got pretty good at "cheesing" at the camera.

Nov. 9 -- Tired teddy bear

Nov. 10 -- You can really see his curls in this mini photo shoot. And yes, it really WAS warm enough for short sleeves in November!

The haircut.... Nov. 14

 See the hair on the table in the background.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Andrew is THREE!... and a cake

Andrew's birthday is Oct. 22. Ever since Judah's birthday in Sept., Andrew's birthday was a main topic of conversation. "When are we going to have Andrew's birthday?" And by "birthday" it was understood to mean "birthday cake". ;-)

When asked what kind of a birthday cake he wanted, he requested an ice cream cake! I was a little surprised, because I'm not sure where he thought of that, but hey, I was happy to oblige. There are many different recipes out there, but I received inspiration from a recipe (which I can't find anymore, so I can't give proper credit) that had a chocolate brownie crust, and then mixed peanut butter and peanuts and chocolate chunks in with the ice cream to put on top of the crust.

Since I've been staying away from chocolate for Enoch's sake, I endeavored to create a nearly chocolate-less ice cream cake. I know, life is empty without chocolate, so you'll notice the little "sprinkles" on top... that's shaved chocolate bar, and only just a little bit, for flavor.

And who would've guessed that his birthday in late October would be so warm!? We had a birthday lunch since the Dad was going to be gone that evening, and I pulled out the cake a little early to thaw, but I ended up sticking it back in the freezer a couple times so it wouldn't melt!

Ice Cream Cake, with Sourdough Bar Crust (A Non-Recipe Recipe)

  1. CRUST: The crust is adapted from this Sourdough Blondies recipe. (I can't duplicate the recipe here because of copyright issues, so you'll have to visit that site to get the recipe if you're interested.) Instead of making it immediately, I modified the recipe to include an overnight "soak time" with the starter, flour, and melted butter. And then I mixed it up the next morning, adding the rest of the ingredients (sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt, but not nuts) and baked it in my smallest springform pan, I think it was 8" diameter. If I was doing it over again, I might've done it in the 10" springform, as I felt the bars were too thick, and therefore, too chewy, especially when you're serving this essentially right out of the freezer. (However, as you read on, you'll discover I didn't have much ice cream on hand, so I chose the smaller size pan...)
  2. ICE CREAM: I took what ice cream I had left in my freezer, which was about 3/4 of a small tub of Breyer's vanilla ice cream. (Is it the quart and a half size?) If I would've had a full tub, all the better. I softened that and added to it 1/2 c. of peanut butter. Then I spread that over the cooled crust and stuck it in the freezer.
  3. TO SERVE: I took some soy-free chocolate and grated a little over the top. This is pretty rich, so don't go crazy on piece size.

 Andrew is quite a little boy. He and Judah are good playmates... when all is going well. Andrew likes to wrestle more than Judah does, so oftentimes, Andrew will initiate a wrestling match. His favorite shirt is the one he is wearing in the photo (Bass Pro Shop shirt). He is a ball of energy, and likes to pit his strength and obstinacy against me. He likes to "do things himself". His smile brightens up a room. Andrew really likes to watch me work in the kitchen, usually hoping to score a taste of whatever I'm cooking.

Here's the birthday boy!

Judah had to get in on the picture too.

Tired birthday boy.