Wednesday, June 27, 2012

pork roast

The best experiments are clearly the ones that happen by necessity.

I had this pork roast in the freezer that needed to be eaten.  Now, roast in the summer is a daunting prospect, and I didn't particularly want to make pork tacos.  So I searched for a recipe I could use that might be flavorful but not too heavy.  I landed on this one from Pioneer Woman.

I had beef stock in the fridge and plenty of onions and apples, so all I got at the store was apple juice.  And then I got home.  Not apple juice at all, but white grape juice!  I sighed and shrugged and decided to just use it.  And then I opened the beef stock and it had a layer of mold on it.  Ew.  So, chicken broth had to suffice.

The result is a lighter, sweet version of the dish.  I used a liberal amount of rosemary in the mix as well, and it really does taste good.

Yay, necessity!

Monday, June 25, 2012

tomato sauce

There is a chance I may be looking to go back to work in an office full-time.  I don't think I want to talk about that prospect - there's a lot of baggage tied up in it.  But for the time being, I'm a work-at-home mom, and the "at-home" part has kept me particularly busy in the last few days.  I'm determined to try different ways of doing simple things.  I already do a lot of cooking and am easing into more baking - the kitchen is definitely where I feel most at ease.  Not just in terms of confidence, either.  The kitchen makes me feel like an adult in the way few places do, while being really familiar and comforting at the same time.  

To that end, my Susie Homemaker adventures in the last few days have more or less centered in the kitchen.

1 - Making baby food. Pears last week, this week it will be sweet potatoes. I'm thinking about making teething cookies, too, though the rice husks work for now. I'm also going to let the Padawan have banana slices, see if she prefers that to the puree.

2 - Homemade pesticide. We're growing tomatoes and squash this year (though the squash isn't doing as well as we'd hoped), and of course we now have a host of weird bugs in the garden. I want my tomatoes to survive, so I'm trying hot peppers, garlic, and water. It's steeping tonight so we'll see how it works later this week!

3 - Tomato sauce. So many tomatoes, what to do?! We're growing cherry tomatoes, which I use all the time (they make an awesome snack, especially with a little balsamic vinegar). But we have bigger tomatoes, too, which are harder for me to incorporate. So, sauce! First batch on the stove. I'm hoping to eventually have enough tomatoes to can my sauce. Mom didn't can, but she did make up batches and freeze them for later use - and she never used fresh tomatoes that I can recall, so I'm stepping out a little here. Yay me :-)

Next up, some short-term projects and long-term ones, not all kitchen-centered.

1 - Vinegar/dish soap solution for the weird grime in my tub that isn't coming up with 409 (or anything else for that matter).

2 - Sewing lessons at some point. I finally got my mom's sewing machine from my sister, and I want to learn to use it properly. 

3 - Once that's accomplished, my first project will be curtains for my dining room.  Then, I want to make some clothes for Annalise.  Mom made a lot of our dresses and even some everyday clothes when we were little, and she also made Barbie clothes occasionally.  There are a lot of other reasons I want to master the sewing machine - I have a load of adorable skirts that I don't want to get rid of, and would rather alter on my own to get more use out of them.

4 - Practice making kolaches. This is a baking skill I want to master, because I think it would be very cool to be able to do it.

I feel useful and happy when I'm doing these kinds of projects - even just cleaning my house can make me feel good (unless it's dusting - I hate dusting - or cleaning the toilet).  Something about the productivity, I guess.  Anyway, I have no intention of taking advantage of modern conveniences if they don't add value to our lives.  If I'm happier making sauce and sewing dresses, so much the better (and less expensive!).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Mom wrote a note in my baby book, saying I had my first solid food (rice cereal) at 2 months old.  I can't quite imagine what my daughter's doctor would say about this, since the "recommended" age now is 4-6 months, and she told us at Annalise's 4-month appointment that we could hold off if we weren't comfortable yet.

Well, comfortable or not, Annalise started grabbing french fries a few weeks ago, and munched on a stolen Wheat Thin yesterday.  We had decided to hold off until we could buy a high chair, which we did before heading out to the Republican state convention last week.  Today, Annalise tried "solid" baby food - basically whole grain cereal with apples.  She loved it, I'm happy to report.

Annalise after her first few bites of "real" food

It does amaze me, the difference in opinions about what is "right" for babies over time.  In truth, I was pretty against the idea of rice cereal at all, because the only reason it has become a traditional first solid is because of allergy fears.  I have met women who think it's literally the only food you can feed a baby at this age, which is just not true.  This weekend I'm breaking out the Baby Bullet my best friend got us and I'll puree bananas for Annalise to try next.  The way she gummed that Wheat Thin yesterday really had me thinking about what expectations we have about children, versus the anecdotes we always hear - my brother, for instance, was one of those kids who skipped purees altogether (and these days that's an actual trend).  I'm not going to hold back with Annalise.  If she's ready for something, she'll let us know.  This has been our way of doing things for awhile now, and all the guilt I felt when one of the "book methods" didn't work for us fled.   And my daughter is thriving to boot.

It would be wonderful to have Mom's opinion on all of this.  She had four of us, after all, and experienced a wide range of tastes, habits, and "firsts."  Thankfully, she wrote some of it down in my baby book - and I try to do the same for Annalise.