Barack Obama is NOT, "the lesser of two evils"

as I hear some people say. He is a great man. Who will do great things. I do not understand what people are looking for in a president. What more can you possibly want? He is not corrupt, he does not cheat on his wife, he is well educated and very intelligent. He has not run a dirty campaign, he has not squandered the money people have donated to him. He cares about the country and all the average people in it. He wants to help us all. And for all of those reasons I am, of course, voting for Barack Obama!

Another Easy Breakfast

This is my famous (not really) hash brown & egg scramble. After I plated up Beth’s breakfast this morning I took a picture and she said, “what are you doing?” To which I replied, “I’m documenting breakfast,” and she returned with, “ever since you started blogging you are so weird!”

Anyways back to the breakfast; I hate omelets! I don’t really like the way they taste, they’re a pain to make and they pretty much always look like slop when I make them. Somehow though, Dan’s turn out perfect, go figure. My solution to that is this scramble which I much prefer. Sometimes I saute onions and peppers first other times I don’t. Sometimes I add ham or sausage but usually I don’t since I don’t usually have that readily available. Then I add a bag a hash browns and I cook them until they’re done (I like to cook my hash browns with butter instead of oil or Pam.) I’ve been buying my hash browns at Whole Foods, they’re organic and don’t have any additives, which seems to be on all the potatoes in the grocery store. They’re only $2.00 a bag but I think the bag is smaller than a typical bag of hash browns. Then I scramble 6 or 7 eggs and dump them right over the hash browns, I cook that until the egg is done then I top with some type of shredded cheese. Turn the stove to low and let it sit there until the cheese is melted. This is an easy, relatively quick breakfast that the kids like and can sit on the stove for awhile after it’s done. Which is handy since the kids breakfasts seem stretch over an hour or so. Another thing I’ve found is that if I make roasted potatoes for dinner I always cook extra then the left overs can be chopped up the next morning and used for hash browns. Yum.

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Boys and guns (toy guns that is)

I have always had a strict no guns that look like guns rule. I’m OK with super soaker water guns, and guns made out of duplos, I’m OK with bow and arrows (even when the one that Thomas’ grand parents bought him for his B-day a few years ago could probably take down a deer,) I’m even OK with some explosives; Dan and the boys love fireworks and blowing up 2L bottles. But I have always drawn the line with any gun that actually looks like a gun. It wasn’t until Daniel was 15 before I let him go paint balling with some friends (from COSI, none the less.) And I have put my foot down and said no to any air soft guns, even though he is 17.5 (I think I may lose that battle soon.) Thomas loved when he could tell us it doesn’t really hurt when you get shot with an airsoft gun, without my permission he was playing at another boys house where airsoft guns are ok. His much older brother just loved that!

Last year for one of the many gift giving holidays I bought Thomas caps, no gun just the caps. I can remember when I was young laying out the roll of caps and hitting them with a rock to make a small explosion, I thought he would love it. But no all he wanted was the cap gun to go with the caps. I stood firm and said no guns. But Thomas’ b-day was this week and after 17 years of buying gifts for kids I had nothing left. No ideas. Besides another video game there just wasn’t anything that he needed or wanted, except that blasted cap gun. So today, for the first time ever, I purchased a gun, a cap gun but still a gun. I tried to stay away from anything that would be confused for a modern gun, so we went with the civil war musket replica. But then I got sucked in, it’s a slippery slope and he also picked out the calvary pistol with holster. He has been given strict rules these are not to leave our yard, they are not to be used in the videos he loves to make with his friends, they are not to be brought to other friends houses. I wonder how long it will take for that pistol to be snuck out of the house in the convenient holster that would easily be hidden under a winter coat? This was it, my last steadfast rule, the one thing that I wouldn’t bend on. It’s all down hill from here.

Baked Oatmeal

I make this recipe occasionally and while I love it, it’s easy to make and it just feels like a good way to send the kids off to school; they don’t really enjoy it, they’d rather have eggs and toast. 🙂 Irregardless I made it yesterday morning; since it had to bake I also made eggs and toast for Beth who didn’t have time to wait for it to get out of the oven. I then left to drive her to school while Daniel came home after his Columbus State class to pick up a friend that had spent the night, and head to his high school. After his class at CSCC he usually drives to his g-mas house which is right down the street from his high school to eat breakfast there. But occasionally he has to come back home to pick up a friend that has stayed over, when he does that I try to have breakfast ready so him and his friends have something to eat. But when I came home from dropping Beth off to school the baked oatmeal was still untouched. Apparently, going hungry was more desirable than the oatmeal. At least I had something to bring to geography club for our potluck lunch. It was devoured and praised and I was asked for the recipe….. well by the adults anyways. 🙂

3 cups oatmeal (any kind, I used a combination of Irish Style quick cooking & a longer cooking oatmeal; just because that’s what I had)
3/4c brown sugar
1/2c butter (I was out of butter so I used coconut oil)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt

And any fruit you like; I added dried apples, raisins and frozen blueberries, this was the first time I put blueberries in it and I really liked them. It was nice to have the juicy fruit instead of just dried fruit.

Mix everything together; pour into greased 13×9 pan
Bake at 375 for 25 min (mine took 35 min)

This is good hot for breakfast but it’s also good cold for a snack. It reminds me of an oatmeal cookie when you eat it cold.

Making Chinese Dumplings

(Bobby Flay’s dumpling)
I watched an episode of Throw Down with Bobby Flay where he made Chinese dumplings along with a restaurateur in New York. And I thought hmmm those look tasty and that looks like fun. Many hours later the dumpling were tasty but oh my that was a lot of work!

Thomas rolled out the dough for each dumpling:

While I stuffed them with the filling:

We ended up with 2 full tray’s of dumplings and some extra filling which we used to stuff won ton wraps. Those got put in the freezer for another dinner.

You fry one side of the dumpling for a few minutes than you add water to the pan, put a lid on it and let them cook for about 10 minutes while the water evaporates away. Dan thought they were very good and wanted to know why we had never made them before. I told him I’m glad he liked them but I doubt we’ll be making them again. 🙂

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First Frost

Since it was going to frost we had to pick all our peppers and basil. They don’t survive after it frosts, they just turn to brown mush. Here are the peppers we picked. The Cayenne peppers are from Clara’s yard. She had more than she could use so she passed some on to us. For some reason we didn’t have any hot pepper plants this year.

Here our are 3 remaining basil plants hanging in the living room drying. It sure makes for a fragrant living room.

Since we had so many hot peppers I decided to try my friend Sherri’s hot sauce recipe.

For the green hot sauce in my blog picture, I’ll tell you how-to, although I’ll have to just approximate the measurements, because we don’t measure — we sort of cook to taste, and ‘eyeball’ things when we prep food.

So, get out the blender and dump in your peppers. Andy used all the peppers that you saw in that photo (a few dozen), added an entire bulb of garlic (add more or less depending on how much you like garlic), 3/4 of a cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or salt to taste, we like very little salt added to food so 1 tsp will taste ok), and then 1-2 tablespoons raw unrefined cane sugar (this takes the edge off all that vinegar, making it less acidic and more flavorful).

Blend well, and pour into glass jar. Store in fridge to extend freshness (even though it has lots of vinegar to act as a good preservative, we store in fridge to keep it fresh).

One thing I would have done differently is to use my food processor instead of my blender. Since we have a vita mix I think even pulsing it is a little too powerful and it turned the sauce into more of a puree than I wanted. But the flavor is good and it is still pretty. I’m not sure how Sherri’s family goes through such a large amount of hot sauce in a week, though. They must be really hard core!

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Dan’s summer bounty part 1

Most of you know that we can tomatoes, lots and lots of tomatoes each and every year. These are all organic, from our garden using compost that we make all year long. We usually grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil, yellow squash and each year we try a few new things. This year one of our new items was eggplant. They were so pretty, however, we never really found a good way to cook them so we gave away most of them. What most of you don’t know is that Dan does almost all of our gardening, canning & freezing pretty much by himself. Sure I’m here for moral support and keeping him company but if it was left to me none of it would ever get done. Dan built the greenhouse, he starts the seeds, he tends to them then transplants them, he turns the compost, I do till the garden every year (that’s my favorite part) and I dig out all the walkways that help form our raised beds. Then we both plant all our veggies. Dan does most of the weeding and watering because even though I’m home and he’s at work I can never seem to water our gardens. Here is what we have put up so far from our garden:15 packages of corn (that actually came from the farmers market we don’t have enough space to grow corn)9 packages of sweet peppers (we’ll still have more to add, there are lots of peppers left in the garden) Here are 9 more bags of sweet peppers that we just added to the freezer Sunday.

Here is Dan’s Food Saver that he got for his b-day.

7 packages of oven dried tomatoes (this is the first year we’ve successfully dried tomatoes)

14 packages of pesto along with about 50 frozen mounds that we can add to sauces

10 quarts of dill pickles (the relish and sweet pickles are left over from last year)
and 37 quarts of tomatoes, mostly whole tomatoes but some are sauce. This is a pretty small yield of tomatoes for us, our plants seemed to have a disease this year so they didn’t do very well. In past years we have had up to 90 quarts of tomatoes.

This is what we have left in the garden:

More basil, good golly we already have enough pesto to feed half the city.

I love this plant, this is Thai basil (we have several different varieties of basil in the garden,) I believe we had about 8 basil plants before the wind storm came through. And here is a basil plant that has been taken out of the garden and put in a pot so it can grow in the greenhouse all winter long. Because we’re not going to have enough frozen basil we’ll also have fresh basil to get us through the winter. 🙂 Did I mention if anyone wants pesto let us know!

More sweet peppers; red, yellow and green. As long as it doesn’t frost they’ll keep ripening and we’ll keep picking them and freezing them.
We also have a late harvest of radishes that Dan just recently planted.
This is a huge Thyme plant that spent last winter in the green house, the summer outside in it’s pot and will be moved back to the green house this winter. I have only used it once on a lamb roast but i think Dan has made some vinegar with it and used it in some of his grilling.
And of course a fig. There are still a ton of green figs on our fig tree but not too many more of them will ripen since the days have gotten so much cooler. We did have a great harvest this year. Everyone loves to go pick fresh figs off the tree and eat them right away. They are so good. If you have never had a fresh fig make sure you come over and try one next summer! Dan also takes starts off this tree when he cuts it back each fall and pots them to share with friends. You have to baby a the fig tree, wrapping it up in the winter so it doesn’t freeze. But if you don’t mind the extra work the figs are definitely worth it!

Here’s a plate of figs from one of our summer pickings. They don’t last long, just long enough for Dan to snap a few pics. The we all gobble them up, yum!