Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Naked Truth

I love to bake.  I mean LOVE to bake.  Combining ingredients in order to create something sweet and tantalizing has always been a soothing process to me.  Baking, or cooking in general, is therapeutic to me.  When I have had a bad day, I usually go for a run and then bake something up.  It's just how I roll.

So when I learned that a friend from my running club was turing the big 4-0- this week I took it as a sign that I should bake a cake for the occasion.  I, however, did not have everything needed to tackle such a lofty goal.  I headed to the store and you guessed it I broke the rules again.  I bought sweetened condensed milk and a cake mix and I went to town creating the most moist, or the moistest, (there are differing opinions as to which form is the proper use of the word. So this way I have my bases covered either way) cake you have ever tasted.  It was amazing.   And I am not even a little bit sorry I broke the rules this time.  And At least there were no expired products used since it was a birthday cake.  That's how good the cake was.  Sinfully delicious!

I didn't take any pics of this particular cake, but I did have a picture of Mary Todd Lincoln's famous Pound Cake that I baked last year for book club.  It was awesome.

 Mary Todd Lincoln's Famous Almond Pound Cake March 2013
The naked cake just so there is a Nudie on here!  

Vern Out

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hot hands

My greatest success this weekend, other than not dying on the side of the road near the end of a 15 mile run, was that I used up a large Ziploc full of frozen jalapenos out of the freezer.  I am going to get to the bottom of that freezer if it kills me!  And it just might...

I had frozen the jalapenos whole at the end of last year's gardening season.  I recall clearly asking my parents if I could freeze them this way because I was inexperienced with preparing jalapenos and I had all kinds of insecurities surrounding my ability to properly prepare those spicy, little delicacies.  I was determined to pull it off though, because I always love when my mom makes them and I was feeling ambitious.  Yes, I had visions of me blissfully preparing, baking and eating them in the middle of winter when jalapenos are scarce.  I knew they would be oh so tasty.

My dad assured me that they freeze them in this manner all the time.  What he failed to mention is that when you freeze them whole with the seeds inside them, their heat index increases exponentially!  Maybe he didn't know or maybe he tried to sabotage my attempt at recreating my mother's poppers.  I don't know. But I do know that really HOT PEPPERS are the result of this freezing process.  Anyhow, I was a virgin at preparing stuffed jalapenos myself so I created a recipe with random leftover stuff from my our cupboards and fridge (for a change none of it was outdated!). I baked them carefully, with the most important special ingredient, "LOVE",  and then I sampled one to see if they were acceptable to serve at the euchre party we were hosting... 

Via @Theremina. #butts

They say a picture tells a thousand words.  Well this picture pretty well sums up my weekend and I suspect a few other guest's weekends as well!  My hands are still spicy and if I accidentally touch my eyes they tear up.  I won't even go into details of my bathroom usage this weekend that would most certainly be crossing the line.  Enough said.

PS For the record, the peppers actually did taste okay if you could get past the intense fiery heat!

Vern Out

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teethy grin

Today I am choosing to be thankful and to complain about absolutely nothing.  Nada.  And other than a grocery shopping spree with Kara yesterday (more on that shortly), I am still avoiding grocery stores like they are infested with bed bugs or as if the plague were running rampant inside their very walls. So tonight I am getting creative in the pantry or digging deep down in the freezer for dinner!  This recent surge of sheer positivity is the result of one singular phone call.  Isn't it amazing how much impact one phone call can have?

The  call that every parent dreads, but that we all likely get at some point in time that reminds us gently of what is actually important.  Yesterday I was finally curling up with Hazel to watch the Sound of Music for the gazzillionth time (for Hazel anyhow) when that call came. Yes I had just covered up with a nice warm quilt to finally relax after a very busy morning when my cell phone rang and altered the course of our day. We didn't watch the Sound of Music for the gazillioneth time, instead we ran around ensuring that Kara's needs were met. 

When the phone rang, I recognized the number as the school's so I figured someone was sick .  I didn't expect to hear, "Kara has had an accident.She is okay, but she fell. her face is cut. and there is a lot of blood so we really need you to come and check her out"  I knew that she was okay, alive, conscious even, but I wasn't sure how badly the injuries were. I didn't know if we would be rushing off to the hospital or if she would have permanent scars. And sometimes it's what you don't know that is the toughest to handle.  It really did serve as a reminder of what's important.  Family. Love. Children. Health.  These things are important.  Silly superficial and materialistic stuff is not. 

Praise the Lord that Kara's injuries were not as bad as they looked initially.  They were themselves superficial and her beautiful face will be fine with time and healing.  Today she has bruising on her chin, cuts on her bottom lip and her front teeth are still a bit wiggly, but she is going to be fine and her teeth are still inside her mouth!

Once we visited the dentist, I decided to stock up on foods that Kara might be able to eat in her damaged state.  I let her buy anything that sounded good and that was soft enough to eat without much chewing so we bought a bunch of stuff that is not part of the shopping deal.  Given the situation, I felt it was the best way to help her feel better and to make sure she had something to eat for lunch today. 

Tonight, as I already said, I got creative and since we have an abundance of farm fresh eggs I decided to do breakfast for supper.  This decision allowed me to rid the freezer of some severely outdated hashbrowns. Oh and to nourish my family and help continue the development of our digestive bacterial flora of course.  We had blueberry pancakes, mini egg sandwiches and the infamous hashbrowns.  It was a great meal and Kara was even able to eat the eggs and pancakes!
Kara poses a few weeks ago in the igloo we built!

 The seriously outdated hashbrowns were a hit!
 Yes your eyes are just fine this does read Jul 21 2013 expiration date!
Expired hashbrowns, it's what's for dinner!

Vern Out

Friday, March 14, 2014

The curse of Sam's Club

Apparently I am unable to shop at Sam's Club without completely  blowing it with the grocery challenge.  I had to go there for dogfood yesterday and suffice it to say I left with many "unacceptable" items in addition to my dog food.  On a positive note, at least I didnt forget the dog food which in my world does not go without saying!   I bought fruits, vegetables and milk which were all acceptable.  I also bought yogurt, cheese (yes it is more gouda too), chips, lunchmeat, oatmeal and nutella; none of which jive with the self inflicted rules of my grocery gig.

 Bon Appetit!  Dinner at our house is always interesting these days!
My culinary masterpiece= Hazel's Birthday Cake. 
Baked with love (and fresh ingredients) Just before the challenge started!

Now there is actually a legit reason for all of these extra "luxury" items that I bought.  I accepted a part-time job! Therefore, I will be packing more lunches for the kids so I needed to stock up on lunch supplies. The oatmeal is for breakfast because Hazel begged for it and I was weak and caved.  I also spent $10 at the dollar store on various snack items because the snack bin was nearly empty and the kids have taken apples for snack enough that they are teased by their classmates and I needed to put an end to the abuse!  Oh and I also had to stop my husband from complaining about his lunches and how they keep shrinking.  So now everyone should be happy and I can go to work with a smaller piece of luggage packed for my upcoming mommy "guilt trip".

Oh and I totally was super thankful that I cheated and bought those pizzas last time I went to Sam's Club too because I had a house full of extra kids last weekend and I used two of them to feed the masses.  So yes I curse Sam's Club and feel extremely thankful for the establishment in the same breath.  I am just a contradiction of emotions on so many levels these days.  However, I plan to stay away from Sam's Club until my thyroid pills run out again to avoid more unnecessary purchases!

PS The chickens are apparently happy about the time change and the longer days because they are now laying several eggs a day!

PPS I no longer have to walk through waist deep snow in order to care for the chickens!

PPPS I think this means spring is actually coming soon!

PPPPS I am not a meteorologist so I could totally be wrong and we could get a new fresh foot or two by day's end. 

PPPPPS if we do get another foot of snow anytime this spring, I am going on strike with the chickens this time!

Vern Out

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The anti germaphobe

I am not afraid of germs.  I am actually the anti-germaphobe. I eat germs for breakfast, lunch and dinner especially these days amidst the grocery challenge. The way I see it, each time we forget, or better yet, choose not to use hand sanitizer, I am helping to build my children's natural immune systems.  And I think that dirt and bacteria in moderation actually leads to healthier and heartier people.  There is actually scientific research that suggests this as well so I am not totally out in left field with this proclamation!

So anyhow this little food challenge with all the outdated dressings and the expired foods from the pantry (oh and 11 year old halibut) is actually helping us to not only save money, but to actually be healthier...long term at least.  Food poisoning is a short term result people, but building up a gut bacteria flora that can sustain my family's digestive health into the next decade is priceless.  The way I see it I am doing my family a favor by serving them foods of questionable bacteria count levels.  Anyhow, this little factoid is brought to you by Activia...just kidding they hate me because I can produce what they spend millions trying to replicate everyday by simply using up the ancient food in our house!

Wow!  I am so surprised we are all still alive!

This one is dedicated to my sister, Miranda.  The other anti-germaphobe in my life!  I love you and your love of dirt, poop and other sinister and bacteria laden materials.  YOU ROCK!

Vern and Hazel Out

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cheap entertainment

I am starting to believe that I was placed on this earth to serve as cheap entertainment to others.  You know to make you laugh!  God does work in mysterious ways and I think creating me is proof of that for sure!  This was my epiphany this morning.  And what led me to this moment of absolute clarity were the following random thoughts from my scattered notes the past few weeks.

I keep thinking Jeff is an extremely lucky guy.  I mean he is married to me and for the past ten years he has pretty much had a personal chef, a cleaning lady and a great mother for his children.  And I am always laughing (oftentimes at myself).  But amidst this amazing situation, he is so grumpy often... I wonder how he can possibly be grumpy, when he is married to someone like me?! how is this even happening. I dont know. It is quizzical.  Perplexing.  I must investigate this matter further...

Meanwhile, I did meet the 10 year aluminum anniversary gift requirements... twice!  We had ice cream pie in an aluminum tin (Jeff's favorite dessert) and I bought him a new 7 inch Laser ice auger and I am pretty sure the handle is aluminum or if it isn't we are going to pretend it is!  AMAZING.  Yes, I not only gave him fresh seafood that had not been frozen for over a decade (remember I splurged and got us salmon cakes at the butcher shop in Spring Lake. They were AMAZING by the way!), but I also provided two forms of aluminum in order to show my affection to him.  More proof of my "good wife" theory. 

 Icecream Pie-Jeff's Favorite Dessert in an aluminum pie tin!
 Our beautiful girls with the icecream pie!
 We snuck in a visit to the butterflies at Meijer Gardens.
Don't worry I packed sack lunches out of the pantry.
No grocery shopping required for this outing!
 The aluminum handle of the 7" Laser Ice Auger.
How Romantic am I? 
and a long sleeved t-shirt from Fish On in Nunica.
Apparently7 inches is a good size when you are talking Ice Augers!

I had a minor setback at the grocery store. This was before the self-imposed restraining order, but I just found my note about it because I take notes on random paper towels, food wrappers or scraps of paper- you know whatever is handy when I have a brilliant idea- and then I usually lose them for a few days until they resurface when I am trying to organize our house, or sort through the ridiculous volume of papers sent home from school.  That is just how I roll.  It is a highly sophisticated note taking process that I have developed.  It is patent pending by the way so don't go trying to steal it!  Most people wouldn't understand, but other unorganized mothers of three totally get it.  Anyhow the incident involved goldfish crackers and my four-year old.  Enough said on that one you can figure the rest out.  She is snacking on some goldfish right now as a matter of fact!

My mother-in-law went and surprised me at family dinner two weeks ago!  She totally pulled a "Veronica" in that she cooked a pound of pasta and combined two random jars of marinara-like sauces out of her cupboard (one of them had capers and artichokes in it though so not your "traditional" marainara situation going on) and she called it dinner.  My son loved it and actually chose it over the home-made vodka sauce with shrimp on penne that she had prepared.  Brilliant. 

The final note comes from my subbing in family dinner this past Thursday while my mother-in-law was out of town. I cooked a roast (from 2012) wrapped in bacon, mashed potatoes and all the fixings!  It received rave reviews! Check it out!

 Seriously good roast circa 2012!

See what I mean?  God is using me to entertain (and feed) others out of my existing food supply of course!
Vern out

Monday, March 3, 2014

Can't remember

I have a bunch of cool stuff to tell everyone only my notes are at home and I can't remember shit without them... seriously I am memory challenged.  I still like to blame my faulty brain, but honestly I might just be too busy and getting old because I forget stuff all the time.  Show and tell, snacks, to shower regularly.  You know a lot of important stuff.   I once went to the store to get cool whip (to clarify this was way back before the grocery shopping challenge) and came home with everything, but cool whip. I even have to keep a map in my purse that shows me the way home from various locations because otherwise I would probably be wandering aimlessly somewhere between Grand Haven and home right now because I still can't remember how to get home (just kidding on this one, but just barely).  SIGH. 

At least I am safe and sound at the library.  And at least I am still healthy and more importantly so are the kids.  So YES I totally SUCK because I make notes to help me remember important stuff I want to share and then I forgot my notes at home... and YES I need to get internet at home so that I don't need to make notes and have to try to remember to bring my notes along with this kitchen sink sized, ancient laptop to the library all the time. And I am just realizing that I totally should just type my notes on this laptop so that I cant forget them.  Duh... but then I would probably forget the laptop so that might not solve my problem...

On a happy note, my family of five survived off nothing but leftovers for the entire weekend!  This made me happy and we still have more random leftover stuff for tonight thanks in part to my sister-in-law who apparently likes to cook random stuff and give it to us!  Thanks, Kim!

And other than that not much is happening in  my world. We went out to dinner last night at the Republic  in Grand Rapids and it was delightful and I have not gone within 200 yards of a store since the incident the other day (you know the premature PMS inflicted mess) because I am scared of further failure.  Yes, I have a self-imposed restraining order on me in regards to any establishment that sells food for the next week.  If Jeff runs out of milk, he is going to need to grow up and fend for himself.

Vern Out