Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Easy Smoothies

                            Easy Smoothies

As a busy stay at home mom, I love thinking ahead and preparing for meals. Recently my daughter, Liberty, and I have been on a fruit smoothie kick for breakfast or after school snacks. I would go to the fridge, get the milk and yogurt. Get the individual bags of each frozen fruit out of the freezer. Then I remember to defrost a banana out of the freezer. Then, sometimes, I remember that I like to put a little orange juice concentrate in my smoothies-like my friend Martha does. So, back in the fridge for that. In between each of those tasks, I take each item across the kitchen to where I keep my blender.I really need to move that thing closer to the fridge. Oh yeah, then I would remember the protein powder! Dig that out and get started. By now I am exhausted and irritated. And all we wanted was to enjoy  healthy smoothie!

Today I decided to plan ahead and make smoothie bags. Here they are:

 I recently purchased frozen bags of sliced strawberries, blueberries, and peach slices from Aldi. The cheapest place ever! I also scored a huge tub of plain yogurt at Costco. And the protein powder is to keep us fuller longer. I purchased this one at Walmart. 

So, to get started on simplifying my kitchen smoothie traffic, I got out my trusty sandwich size ziplocs. I opened each one and rolled down the zipper, one turn, so I could pour stuff into them and they would stay open for me. I started with about a third of a cup of frozen blueberries. Then I added the sliced strawberries, about one third of  a cup again. Next I added about four peach slices. (Side note- I always buy a bunch of bananas, with visions in my head of my family eating all of the nutritious fruit. Then, Libby and Scott eat one each and the rest start to brown. I end up throwing them in my freezer with dreams of someday making banana bread. Today I had 10 bananas in my freezer! So I have been defrosting them enough to peel them, then adding to our smoothies!) So, I added a whole peeled banana to each bag of frozen fruit. DONE! This really only took 5 minutes to prepare all these bags. 

Now I have in my freezer, 7 bags of fruit, ready to go into smoothies. And since I freed up all that space in my brain for planning fruit for our smoothies, maybe this will be an easier process for me. I will throw a bag of fruit in the blender, along with a scoop of protein powder, a cup or so of milk and a couple tablespoons of OJ concentrate. 

Blend and enjoy! 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cooking with Shannon

Friday, I made Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls today from this site: http://www.cheekykitchen.com/2011/01/meyer-lemon-sweet-rolls.html They were so good. And really fun to make. I enjoyed a full day in the kitchen with my friend Krystal's homemade Bacon Potato soup after the rolls. I took some photos of the progress to share with all of you! I have been off the web for 3 days so most of this food has already been devoured.

the ingredients for the lemon sweet rolls
the gorgeous silky dough felt as smooth as a baby's behind
lemon zest is the best, a microplane is also the best
the dough has risen!
I rolled out the dough, poured on melted butter, lemon zest and sugar
then I rolled the dough up, pinching the seam to seal
O MY...this is my favorite picture.
there was extra butter...so I poured it over the rolls before baking
the rolls after rising
The cooked rolls, ready for the lemon cream cheese icing
I juiced the lemons then covered the rinds with water and put the bowl in the mircowave to loosen up the crusty food stuck in there.
presto clean-o
next I ran the softened lemons and some ice down my garbage disposal to clean and sharpen it
Now, back to the icing. Cream Cheese, lemon juice and powdered sugar, yummm
oh yeah....
come to momma
the damage
back to clean and dysfunctional

I hope you enjoyed my cooking. I did! I wish I could have shared one with each of you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Noodle Story

Like “Poe” on Kung Fu Panda, I too have a noodle story. I grew up living across the driveway from my Grandma Ferne. She always cooked from scratch and our family and friends loved it. Her bread, cinnamon rolls, and chicken noodles were locally famous, in my opinion anyway. At every family gathering we had to have noodles. It was an all day affair for Grandma to make them. She would boil a chicken in water, make the noodles and roll them out on the countertop in her kitchen. Grandpa Morris would sit in his chair at the table and help her roll them out and cut them or just watch to make sure she was doing it “right.” Thinking back to those days is a fond memory from my childhood.

Grandma and I weren’t great friends back then. She helped Mom and Dad raise us kids and that was hard on her and not fun for me. It was like having 2 moms. I was the oldest child and loved to torment my younger sister who was grandma’s “favorite”. I used to tell Grandma she wasn’t my mom when she tried to discipline me and I usually drove her “batty.”

However as I grew up, we grew closer. I matured and Grandma mellowed. I didn’t live in my hometown for long after I got married so I would call often and try to visit Grandma every time I came to town. I realized she was aging. She could hardly make bread and noodles anymore. Her hands hurt and her back and knees kept her from standing for long periods. I told her I wanted to learn to make her recipes so I could make them for the family reunions. I knew one day she would be gone and we’d never have Grandma’s noodles again. So she taught me and I practiced over and over. I think they get better every time I make them. Of course, I have made changes, for the best though. Grandma approves. See, she was raised without wealth. When she made noodles, the way she saw her mom do it, they just boiled a chicken in water. Well, I was staying at home with my babies at that time and watched Food Network all day. So I learned about making broth with veggies and herbs. Grandma tried my noodles one day and said, ”Wow, these are great. What did you put in there?” Recently, I tried Grandma’s noodles with homemade beef broth and was very happy with the results.

I still have my grandma and I think of her every time I cook or bake. I still call her with a food question every so often. She is so proud of me for carrying on the tradition of her cooking. A few years back for Christmas, she handwrote recipe books for all us girls in the family and it is one of my treasured possessions. I use it often and when she is gone, I will still have her handwritten love letters to cherish. I think they are like love letters, some would just say recipes. One thing you can definitely say about Ferne is that she loves her family, including this little brat.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dough, Dough...Why Do I Love Thee So?

When I hold a nice round ball of dough in my hand, it makes me feel so warm inside. Bread dough, pasta dough, playdough (just kidding)...it all makes me feel alive. It's also another one of those connections to the past for me. Bread has been handmade for years and years. It cannot be that difficult if people back then could do it without the technology we have now...

I used to be afraid of dough. Especially a yeast dough. What is that stuff? It is alive? That just sounds gross, like I'm cooking with a germ or virus! And it's so touchy. If everything's not right, it can be a baking disaster. I once heard a dear friend say, "If I get to a recipe that has yeast in the list, I just turn the page." Where does this unfounded, gripping fear come from? Maybe it's also the unknown...inexact flour measuring which depends on the weather or the "warm" water temperature required to wake the yeast, but not kill it. My grandmother baked bread and cinnamon rolls frequently. She never measured, she experienced the dough. She touched it. She never took the temperature of the water. She felt it with her fingers. That all may sound so scary, but it just takes practice! That's how she learned. And oh, it's so worth it.

See, you have to be okay with messing it up and experimenting. Someone may show you how to use yeast and make dough, but unless they let you feel it with your own hands, it will be difficult. The first time I baked Grandma's bread from her handwritten recipe, I only let the dough rise once, then put it in pans and baked it. It was like bricks! I called Grandma quite disappointed and told her what happened. She said "you didn't let it rise once you put it in the pans?" "No!" I replied. She had left that part out of the recipe. "Well you have to let it rise again" she said, quite sure of herself . How in the world was I supposed to know that? It's one of those things she has done for so long with no written recipe that it was hard for her to put the instructions into words!

Well I tried again and again and again and I have decided it is one of those things that gets easier and better every time I make it. I now use so much yeast I buy it in bulk at Sam's Club and it does not expire before I get to use it. I can make pizza, breadsticks, rolls, bread, anything I desire!!! I plead with you to use yeast if you haven't tried it. Just promise me the next time you make a dough, you'll hold that ball of yeast and flour in your hand and search yourself. Do you feel warm and cozy? Isn't it a lovely feeling?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Soul of a Cast Iron Skillet

What is this feeling I get when I use my Lodge Cast Iron skillet? I feel skilled and resourceful. Part of something bigger than just my kitchen.

I think it is a connection with women and men who cooked in cast iron on the prairie. It makes me think of my family, living in the Backbone woods of Marion County, IL. It makes me think of my grandma and her mom and so forth. I feel connected to them and I also feel connected to my food.

It may sound gross, but when a cast iron skillet is used correctly, it becomes seasoned. See, you don't wash it with soap. Just hot water. Then you dry it and oil it up real good so it doesn't rust. That makes me feel like every meal I've ever cooked in that skillet is still in it's soul. It hasn't been washed away.

Of course there are a few I'd like to wash away. It's slightly difficult to get used to cast iron. It gets really hot and stays really hot. Unlike our stainless or teflon pans. And food will stick. One morning, 5 or so years ago, I was so excited to make biscuits and gravy for some friends who spent the night. I cooked this beautiful country gravy in my cast iron skillet, feeling like a woman by a covered wagon. We plated it and dug in. The first bite was terrible. Disgusting. Revolting. Repulsive. I quickly grabbed away plates before anyone else could taste it. I had over cooked and burned the milk in the gravy. Wow, don't do that! We went to McDonald's that morning. And their biscuits and gravy left me wanting.

I eventually got the skillet out again and gave it another try. I learned to adjust the heat, keep it low and slow. And use some oil when necessary. Now I love to cook in it. Today's sausage gravy and cream biscuits turned out perfect! It gives a flavor I can't get from my new-fangled pans. And a feeling I can't get from them either. A reminder of my roots.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Here goes...

I love baking. I could bake every day. The things that stand in my way are fibromyalgia, budget, and calorie intake. I do manage to create something from the ingredients in my pantry at least a couple times a week. I made these Oreos today. They are wonderful. Especially dipped in milk.

I hope someday I can open a bakery named Sophrona's Bakery where I can share my baked goods with others. I love to make people happy with food. I love people and I love food. They are even better together. Especially with a latte.

Right now, I am a stay at home mom and I love it. My kids are 6 & 8. They take most of my energy. The rest of it goes to taking care of the house and baking. Which requires more house cleaning. My husband is finishing up a PhD and works full time. He is blowing farts on the kids tummies as I type this. They are cracking up. Especially my daughter.

I hope this is enough of a blog to start with. Especially for Anne.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

OOOH! I did it!

I actually secured a blogspot! I'm not sure when I'll start blogging...but it's started!