Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Stories: A Little About My Dad

I have come to realize that I don't know a lot about my dad's childhood.  He doesn't talk a lot about his home life.  I think some of this stems from the fact that his dad died tragically when he was 14.  I think some of it stems from the fact that his mother was damaged as a little girl by her stepfather.  I think some of it stems from the fact that he was a little wild and doesn't want his sons or grandsons following in his footsteps.  He has some great memories, if only I can get to them.  This is what I learned this week.

He grew up on a 10 acre farm.  Though his father worked for the highway department, he also raised a few animals and planted hay as well as a huge garden and orchard.  Dad's dad and mom had been raised in Buffalo and were the first to move to the country.  The garden, which was about 100 yds by 50 yds, became a community family garden.  All of the aunts, uncles and cousins would travel out to their farm to help weed, harvest and then bottle the produce.  The women worked hard while the men sat around chewing the fat.  Their basement was lined with shelves filled with the fruits of their hard labors.

There were usually a pig or two, chickens,  a steer and a milk cow.  The milk cow's name was Girlie.  One day, the cow got out of her enclosure without the knowledge of dad's family.  A neighbor saw her and tried to catch her.  He spent hours chasing her around the fields without any success.  Finally, he went up to the house, knocked on the door and said, "Jack, your cow is out and I just can't get her back to your barn."  My grandpa smiled, walked out in the yard and yelled, "Girlie!  Come here, Girlie!"  She lifted her head, looked at him and trotted right back into the barn where he shut her into her stall. 

There was a weasel that wreaked havoc in the chicken coop.  It also used to attack the litters of kittens that the farm cats had every year.  What kittens escaped the weasel were given away.  Dad used to put all of the kittens together and the mama cats would take care of each other's offspring.

When dad went off to college, his mom sold the farm.  She lived in a single wide trailer while I was a little girl.  Later, she moved into an apartment in a retirement center.  My parents would drive by "the old stomping grounds" but it didn't sink in until recently that dad actually lived on a real, albeit small scale, farm.  I can't wait to find out more.

Are there stories in your family that have yet to be recorded?  The new year is coming, with all of those resolutions yet to be made.  Why not make a resolution to capture some of those memories before they are gone forever?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite appliances: the electric pressure cooker.  It is my favorite way to cook rice.  I can even make risotto in this and I never have to stand over the stove pouring and stirring, pouring and stirring.  I got this little baby at Target when they were clearing them out.  I didn't know what a gem I was purchasing.  I use it to cook meat, other grains, and vegetables.  It also has a wonderful entertainment factor.  There is a big gray button on top lets the steam out.  My sons all love to push that button as it cools down.  You can see some models here.

So, tonight The Comedian and The Engineer helped me make dinner.  The Engineer fizzled out after we dredged the chicken in cornstarch.  I think he was a little grossed out by the raw meat. The Comedian then took over and stayed with me all the way to serving the food.  (with his ADHD, that is a huge thing!)

The recipe:
1 1/2 pounds cubed boneless chicken
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbls cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
onions, peppers, pineapple as desired

Dredge the chicken in the cornstarch and fry in the oil

For the sauce, mix the water, sugar, ketchup and vinegar in a saucepan.  When it boils, add the cornstarch/water mixture.  Stir until it thickens. 
If you want to add the onions, peppers and/or pineapple, cook the onions and peppers first.  Add it to the sauce or serve it on the side.  Serve it all with rice.

We are back to school this week (YIPEE), so lunches won't be planned.  Really, it wasn't a bad week.  We all slept in until 6:30am, we explored the newly opened, wonderfully stocked, brand new library, we did chores, we read books, we played games, we watched movies and we relaxed.  What more can we ask from a week off from school?

Breakfast Sandwiches (sausage pattie, egg, cheese on a sesame seed bun)
Probably these Muffins
PB Toast
Donuts (found a sale and froze them!)
Cold Cereal

Pot Roast and all the trimmings
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Beans with Cornbread
Hot Dogs
BBQ chicken (in the oven) with couscous

Visit the oranizing junkie for menu monday and a southern fairytale for mouthwatering mondays and visit real life for real life mondays.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Stories: Halloweens of My Youth

I have had a hard time getting my parents to cough up some good stories of their Halloweens.  I still have another week, though, and will keep trying.  In the meantime, here are a few of my own memories.

For me, Halloween was always about dressing up.  I played dress up whenever I could as a child and Halloween was the ultimate day, because I could actually leave the house and parade around in public.  My parents blamed this on my being a Scorpio. 

Here I am as the "Queen of Hearts"  I love how my mom just cut out red construction paper hearts and pinned them on my dress.  The crown was cardboard covered with foil and hearts.

My grandmother made this wonderful bridal costume for me.  I wore it over and over until it no longer fit.  It was my favorite dress up costume. 

This is one of the few "store bought" costumes I ever had.  Usually, mom made something or I dug something out of the dress up box.

I am the one on the left.  I was wearing my mom's old band cape and an old dress she wore to a dance.  That yellow dress was another of my all time favorites.  It was all lace and poofs.

This pirate costume was a combination of normal clothes and a little make up and a bright scarf.

This was probably my most memorable Halloween, simply because I ended up not being able to pull off the costume.  I went to a church party where everyone was dressed up and then went to a friend's house where no one was.  I spent the night in the bathroom trying to look normal, but ended up looking terrible.  So much for my punk look.

Finally, this is me with my little brother in the 1980s.  I was at the age where dressing up was not cool.  He and my other brother went as clowns that year.  Mom made the costume.  I still laugh at the wig.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dry Mixes You Can Make For Your Pantry

 Here are 13 different mixes that you can make and put in jars to give away. Or.  Here are 13 different mixes you can make for yourself to put in the pantry.  Or. Here are 13 different mixes you can make and decide later where to put them. 

1. Potato Soup Mix 1-3/4 cups instant mashed potatoes 1-1/2 cups dry milk 2 Tb. instant chicken bullion 2 tsp. dried minced onion 1 tsp. dried parsley 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper 1/4 tsp. dried thyme 1/8 tsp. turmeric or curry 1-1/2 tsp. favorite seasoning salt Measure all ingredients in a canning jar or vacuum seal bag.

To Use: place 1/2 cup mix in soup bowl and add 1 cup boiling water. Stir until smooth.
Possible Variations:

Add small dehydrated potatoes or bacon bits Or small amount dehydrated broccoli or dehydrated corn or celery

2. Split Pea Tortellini Soup Mix
3 ounces dried cheese-filled tortellini (2/3 cup) 1/4 cup dried tomatoes 1/3 cup dried split green peas 1/2 cup dried chopped carrots 1 tablespoon instant chicken bouillon granules 1 tablespoon dried minced onion 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil -- crushed 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme -- crushed 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper Add a couple Table spoons Tomato Powder

Layer all ingredients in a Jar, or Vacuum Seal bag; seal & attach a tag with directions.

Attach Tag:
1 pkg mix
Add 5 cups water. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 50 minutes or until peas are tender.
(Option: Add 1 cup chopped cooked ham or sausage or add imitation bacon bits to the mix above ahead of time for bacon flavor)
Serves 4.

3. Texas Two-Step Soup Mix 1 (1.61-ounce) package brown gravy mix 2 tablespoons mild red chili powder 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried minced onion 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

10 to 12 regular-size tortilla chips, coarsely crushed 1 to 1 1/4 cups uncooked small to medium-size pasta Dehydrated corn, Dehydrated red and green bell pepper. Layer ingredients in a jar.

Instruction Tag:
Brown 1/2 pound ground beef.
In a crockpot combine the following:
Browned ground beef
Contents of jar
8 c. water
Simmer a couple hours or until macaroni is fully cooked.

4. Sun Dried Tomato & Penne Soup 2 c. penne pasta dried tomatoes dried mushrooms 1/4 c. onion flakes 1/4 c. parsley flakes 1 T dried minced garlic 1 1/2 tsp dried crushed thyme 1 1/2 tsp dried minced basil 1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper Vegetable Broth powder Salt Pepper Dried Green Beans. Combine all ingredients in lg Jar or vacuum seal Bag.

Attach Tag:
1 Jar Mix
8 cups water Good with a little sausage.
Combine all except beans in large saucepot. Soak for an hour. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer in Thermo cooker.

5. Cream of "Anything" Soup Mix 4 c. powdered milk 1 1/2 c. cornstarch 1/2 c. instant chicken bouillon granules 4 tsp. dried onion flakes 2 tsp. dried thyme 2 tsp basil - crushed dried 1 tsp. pepper Measure all ingredients into a Ziploc Bag. Shake well, transfer to vacuum seal bag, seal and store up to a year.

To Use:
1/3 C mix
1 C water
Cook over low/med heat until thickened.

Variations: add 1/2 c. minced or chopped *_________*
*Choose One*:
Onions, Mushrooms, Asparagus, Broccoli, Celery, Cooked Chicken, Diced Potatoes, Tomato, Cooked Shrimp, etc.

6. Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup 2.75-ounce pkg. Country Gravy Mix (regular or no-fat) 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules 2 teaspoons dried minced onion 2 teaspoons dried celery flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes 1/4 cup uncooked wild rice 1 cup uncooked white rice
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried mushrooms from the produce section (shiitake, chanterelle or oyster)

Attach gift tag with following directions:
Empty contents of jar into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 7 cups water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Or, place in crockpot in the morning with 7 cups of water and let it simmer all day until you get home.

7. Dreaming of a White Christmas Soup Mix 1 package (2.75 ounces) regular or no-fat country gravy mix 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules 2 tablespoons dried minced onion 2 tablespoons dried celery flakes 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes 2 1/2 to 3 cups uncooked wide egg noodles or other pasta

Gift tag directions:
Empty contents of jar into a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 8 cups water; heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium; add one 10-ounce or two 6-ounce cans cooked and chopped chicken. Cover and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.

8. Farmhouse Soup 2 tablespoons dried minced onion 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper 2 tablespoons beef bouillon flakes 1/2 cup quick cook barley 1/2 cup dried split peas 1/2 cup rice, uncooked, do not use instant 1/2 cup dry lentils 1/2 cup alphabet pasta, uncooked
1 cup flavored spiral, macaroni, uncooked ½ cup dehydrated carrots ½ cup dehydrated celery 1 cup dehydrated tomatoes ¼ cup dehydrated cabbage, 3 table spoons tomato powder.

Attach Tag:
Farmhouse Soup
1 pkg Mix
3 quarts water Boil then simmer. Add Beef ground or chunks if available.

9. Winter Bean Soup Mix 1/3 cup dried yellow split peas 1/3 cup dried green split peas
1/3 cup dried lima beans 1/3 cup dried pinto beans 1/3 cup dried kidney beans 1/3 cup dried great northern beans 1/4 cup instant minced onion 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Layer all ingredients in a 1-pint glass jar.
On gift tag put recipe for Winter Bean Soup Mix as follows:
8 cups water
Winter Bean Soup Mix and the following fresh or already have dehydarated and include in jar:
2 medium carrots, chopped (1 cup) or 2 medium stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 pounds smoked ham shanks or meaty ham bone
Heat water and Winter Bean Soup Mix to boiling in 4-quart Dutch oven. Boil 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Stir carrots and celery into bean mixture. Add ham shanks. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 2 hours or until beans are tender. Skim fat if necessary. Remove ham shanks; remove ham from bone. Trim excess fat from ham. Cut ham into 1/2-inch pieces. Stir ham into soup. Heat until hot.

10. Vegetarian Black Bean Soup Mix 3 cups black beans, sorted 3 tablespoons dehydrated onion
3 tablespoons granulated garlic 1 teaspoon crushed oregano 2 teaspoon salt 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (do not omit) Dried Cilantro Dried chopped Onion dried limeslice

Attached the following instructions on a gift tag:
Put in pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover beans with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until very well done (about 2 hours). Beans should be very soft. Add water as needed to keep beans from sticking. There should be some liquid left on beans when done.
Serve over Rice.

11. Turkey Noodle Soup Mix 1 cup Uncooked fine egg noodles 1 tablespoon instant minced onion
2 and 1/2 tablespoons chicken-flavored bouillon granules 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pepper 1/4 teaspoon dried whole thyme 1/8 teaspoon celery seeds 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 1 bay leaf Add: Dried Turkey or chicken Dried Carrot Dried Celery Dried Corn

To make the soup:
Combine soup mix, 8 cups water, in a large pot. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf

12. Minestrone Soup Mix 1/4 cup dried split peas 1/2 cup dried kidney beans 4 crumbled beef bouillon cubes 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried parsley 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper 1 cup elbow macaroni dried carrots dried celery dried onion dried corn dried tomatoes 3 Tbls. dried tomato powder
Attach Tag:
8 cups water
1 jar minestrone soup mix
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
Place water into a large stockpot. Add the minestrone soup mix and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the skin from the sausage.
In a medium skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. Add to soup.

13. Bean Soup Mix 1/4 cup dried garbanzo beans 1/4 cup dried navy beans or lima beans 1/4 cup dried red kidney beans or pinto beans 1/4 cup dried whole or split peas 3 Tablespoons minced dried onion 2 Tablespoons whole wheat berries 2 Tablespoons pearl barley 2 Tablespoons dried celery flakes 2 tsps. instant beef bouillon granules 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1 bay leaf Salt , dehydrated onion, tomato powder

Layer all ingredients.

To use:
Combine contents of package with 7 cups water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. (Or soak bean mixture in the water overnight in a covered pan.) Do not drain. Bring beans and liquid to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until beans are tender. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste. Makes 6-8 side dish servings. To make chilli add chilli powder and tomatoes, and beef if available. To make cheesy bean soup remove bay leaf, and use 4 cups water…mash a little add mild and cheese.

If you have not considered freeze dried vegetables or fruits for your pantry, here are a few links of places that sell them.
Emergency Essentials, Walton Feed, Amazon,

Visit thursday-13 for more 13 lists.
Visit Life as Mom for Frugal Friday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Apple Skillet Cake

This has got to be one of the most fatteningly delicious recipes I have made in a long, long time.  I got it off the Pioneer Woman's website.  I actually had to lower the amount of butter for which it called because my arteries couldn't stand reading about using almost 3/4 pound of butter for one cake.  As is it, I doubled the recipe, made two cakes and used an entire pound of butter and it was SOOOOO wonderful.

Apple Skillet Cake(adapted from the pioneer woman)

Topping (which is really the bottom while it bakes)
4 small tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into six equal slices
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat to make up for the gluttony of butter)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small apple, peeled, cored, and chopped finely

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 9 to 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the pan and stir around, then place apple slices, wedge side down, in the pan. Don’t pack them too tightly, but try not to leave overly large gaps. Allow this to cook over low heat while you make the cake batter.  It should boil while you are mixing the other stuff, but don't let it burn.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 1 stick of butter and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in 1 chopped apple.

Remove skillet from heat. Spoon batter over the top, then spread gently so batter is evenly distributed. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and bubbly. (Note: Put a pan under the cake to allow for drips.  I had a house filled with smoke because I didn't do this.) Allow cake to sit in skillet for five minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. If some of the topping sticks to the pan, just scoop it out and find a spot for it on the cake, it won't matter if it's not perfect.

Visit the Organizing Junkie for Menu Monday
Visit 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven for Homemaker Mondays
Visit a Southern Fairytale for Mouthwatering Mondays
This week is fall break, so we have a menu full of breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Homemade Egg McMuffins (these can be made up ahead of time and frozen)
Cold Cereal

Tuna Sandwiches
PB & J
Chicken Noodle Soup
Macaroni & Cheese

Ham Bonaparte (one of my all time favorite casseroles, will post for Tuesday)
Hamburger Stew (very frugal meal)
Pulled Pork  on Buns
Fettucine Alfredo (Realized I haven't posted this one either, so will get to it this week, too)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Stories: Halloweens of Not So Yesteryear

This month being October, I am devoting it to Halloweens past.  This week, I am sharing a few memories of my kids' Halloweens.

In 2002, I broke down and went to Costco and bought two of their plush animal costumes for The Engineer and The Comedian.  The Engineer was so upset after I put the makeup on his face.  He wouldn't say why.  A few years later when we were talking about that night, he told me that he thought the makeup was poison and that he was going to die that night because of it.  Poor little guy!  I felt so bad that he hadn't just said something that night.

 It was also the big year for Harry Potter in our house.  Both The Musician and The Thinker had to be dressed as a Hogwarts student with a lightining scar.

Over the years, the boys dressed up as Ninjas, Indians, Clowns, Animals (skunk, tiger, shark, dog), and Movie heroes.  In 2006, the whole gang dressed up as Star Wars characters. In 2007, The Comedian dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow

For the last few years, the Engineer has designed his own costume.  One year, he decided to be a mummy.  He had me wrap him with linen strips all over.  The costume wasn't designed for movement, so after about an hour at school, the strips started coming off.  By the time he came home from school, he wasn't dressed up and had a backpack full of linen.  He quickly came up with something else to wear that night.  Another year, he wanted to be one of Robin Hood's Merry Men, so he made a bow and designed another outfit.  Last year he was a nerd.  He hasn't decided what to be this year.  I just hope he decides soon, so I can gather the supplies.

Princess Pat hasn't had a lot of choice in her costumes yet.  She was only a few months old on her first Halloween and the next two years, she was a Sugar Plum Fairy. 

This year, she is going as our cat, Malcolm.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Great Bread

It is ironic and even funny that I would attempt to teach other people to make bread. For years, I was "yeast challenged." Which meant that nothing I ever baked rose more than an inch (good thing pizza crust isn't tall!!). My bread was in the same class with bricks, stones and other hard porous materials. It didn't matter, however, because there was an Orowheat bakery right down the road. They make wonderful breads, so what did I care? Then, I moved. I moved far, far away from Orowheat and urbania. I moved to a place where homemaking skills are king, I mean queen. I moved to a place where the gauntlet of bread making was thrown at my feet and the challenge was given. I had to learn to make bread or admit to being less. Less than, well, something. So. I. Did. It. 

Here is the bread I make two or three times a week.  A step by step tutorial is here.
4 1/2 cups water
1 Tbls salt
2 Tbls instant yeast
5 Tbls sugar
1/4 cup oil
10 cups flour
Combine the first five ingredients and let the yeast grow.  Add the flour and mix well.  (Note: I use a professional 6 quart Kitchenaid that does this in nothing flat.  My mom has a normal 4 quart Kitchenaid and I was actually afraid I was going to break her 20+ year old mixer making a batch of bread.  You certainly could make this by hand.)   Cover with a towel and let rise until it reaches the top of the mixing bowl.  Punch down and divide into 3 loaves.  Place in 3 greased loaf pans, cover and let rise again.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.  Brush baked loaves with butter when they come out of the oven.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack for 15.  Kroger makes great bread bags to store these in.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

13 Challenges to Having a Mentally Ill Child

The Comedian is a beautiful, smart, funny, fast as the wind little boy who is also bipolar, ADHD, and pituitary deficient.

1. When we picked him up, at age 5 weeks, he looked starved. His skin was stretched over his skull, with deep sunken eyes. He had lost pounds since his birth. He was lethargic and sleepy and hungry. Within a week of us having him, he gained over 2 pounds.

2. He had a terrible cry, almost from the beginning. It didn’t sound like a normal baby’s cry. It was a howling piercing cry. Only I could get him quiet, with a strange, bouncy, dancelike walk around the living room. Over and over and over….

3. By the time he was a year old, he was having rages. He would scream over little things. He was inconsolable. Sometimes, he’d sit on the couch and bounce his head back against the cushions unendingly.

4. As he got older, he became obsessive over his appearance. He’d literally spend an hour in the bathroom in front of the mirror combing and re-combing his hair. He wasn’t satisfied until it looked just right, even though it looked the same every time he combed it. If we forced him to get in the car, so we could get to church, school, or a doctor’s appointment on time, he would shut down. He’d stop talking, he wouldn’t move, he would walk away….

5. He walked away at malls, grocery stores, parking lots, cemeteries, amusement parks. Sometimes he ran. The only person in our family fast enough to catch him is the Musician. Thank Goodness for the Musician’s speed.

6. Reading and math were a torture for him. When I asked him to read to me, he’d start rubbing his eyes or itching his arms until they turned red. He became anxious and would shut down.

7. At the end of 2nd grade, I asked the pediatrician about ADHD. We did the Vanderbuilt study, with the teacher and both parents filling out observation forms. His behavior signified ADHD without any doubt. The doctor prescribed his favorite medication and we saw an immediate change.

8. The Comedian said he was so glad to be able to concentrate. He could get a chore done in 10 minutes instead of an hour. He began to improve a bit in school. He also started self mutilating. His arms were covered with cuts and scratches. The doctor prescribed a different medication.

9. This new med worked the same as the last, but without the scary side effects. The Comedian continued to improve in school, but he was more sullen. The boy who made jokes and remembered every conversation he’d ever had faded away.

10. Around third grade, the pediatrician finally admitted that my little boy was actually too little. On these ADHD meds, his appetite had diminished so that he was eating less and less. We started the process of getting help for his size (I’d been asking pediatricians about this since he was 3). By the time all of the tests were done, including a tortuous 5 hour blood test, the specialists said his pituitary gland was the size of a pea. The minimum level of growth hormone considered healthy was 10, he was putting out .5.

11. The rages and sullen behavior were escalating. The pediatrician finally admitted that he was out of his league and referred us to the community mental health system. We went through a long series of testing and he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Our psychiatrist put him on tiny doses of anti psychotic meds, changed his ADHD meds and also threw in an adrenaline blocker.

12. The 4 hour rages that included breaking furniture, tearing up clothing and toys, throwing rocks at the house, etc. lessened. I kept telling the psychiatrist that he was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when he went into these episodes and she’d nod her head and tell me how much better he seemed. I was frustrated to think that this was all the help we’d get.

13. Then we moved again. New doctors, new health systems. Our new pediatric endocrinologist prescribed a different growth hormone, one that is injected with a pen-like syringe with a tiny needle…so easy, so much less pain. Our new psychiatrist said bipolar and changed everything and changed our lives. My funny, smart, happy little boy is back. For the last month, we have not had any rages. Oh, there is some learned behavior that has to be modified over time, but that is nothing compared to death threats, suicide threats, violent attacks, running away, truancy, lying, screaming….I can only hope that the meds work for a long time. Everything I have read indicates that as he gets older, we will have to change his meds again and again.

Visit for other lists.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I am now living in the land of Real Mexican Food. It seems appropriate that I share with you a cheap, but delicious way of making your own red enchilada sauce. The base is not tomatoes, as might be supposed, but red chilies.

Buy a big (8oz) bag of dried red chilies (approximately 28 in a bag). Find these in the Mexican food section of your grocery store. I have found these in grocery stores all over the West. I don't know if they are available in the East, but I am betting they are.

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chilies.

Cover with boiling water in a big bowl and cover for about 30 minutes.

Remove about half of the chilies from the hot liquid and put them in a blender. Add 2 cups of the steeping liquid and blend until it becomes a thick red paste. Repeat with the remaining chilies and discard the rest of the liquid.

Now this paste will sit in your fridge for a long, long, long time. It won't mold, it won't go bad. For a 9 X 13 pan of enchiladas, you will only need 1/3 cup, so you can freeze it in small in dividual portions. An 8 oz bag makes 5 cups. So you now have the base for 15 big pans of enchiladas.

For the actual sauce:

2 Tbls flour

2 Tbls oil, fat, lard

1/3 cup red chili paste

2 cans or 4 cups chicken broth (make your own!!)

2 cloves garlic, minced/crushed

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

In a frying pan, make a roux with teh flour and oil. Add the broth and stir until smooth. Add the red chili and herbs and salt. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Proceed to make enchiladas as usual.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and the Make It From Scratch Carnival.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Basic Americanized Stir Fry

There are some wonderful recipes for stir fry out there. Although each is slightly different, there are some basic principles to making the dish that can be used across the board. You will want to have a few basic ingredients in your pantry/frige door that will allow you to make it any time you want.

First of all, you will need some soy sauce. What is the point of trying any kind of Asian food without it? I usually have Kikoman on hand because it comes in huge bottles at Costco. However, America's Test Kitchen did a taste test and it didn't win. So if you are really serious about authentic taste, you may want to check out their results. I also like sweet soy sauce and lite soy sauces, too.  Other must have ingredients are garlic, fresh ginger, corn starch, and broth. After that, you can mix and match as your fancy takes you.

Start with your protein (tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork or beef). Cut it into strips or cubes and cook it in oil on medium high heat. If you have sesame oil, add a teaspoon to your main oil to give it a better flavor. If not, oh well. Add some minced garlic to the protein when it is almost done and cook it with it ~ at least 2 cloves. If you have some ginger root, grate some of that into your meat, too. You can also cheat and use ground ginger. It won't be the same, but it will give a good flavor. (about 1 tsp). Remove the meat from your pan and set it aside in a bowl.

All sorts of vegetables go great in stir fry. Carrots, onions, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, summer squash are just a few. You can also add cans of baby corn, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts. This is a great way to use up the last of anything that may be sitting in your produce drawer. Cut the veggies up into bite sized pieces. Add a bit more oil to your pan and start stirring them. If you are using hard and soft vegetables, start with the ones that will take the longest to cook, adding the others halfway through the cooking process. I usually add 1 can of broth to my vegetables so they don't burn because I am usually still helping with homework, making other food and have my mind on twenty different things. If you do that, put a lid on the veggies, turn down the heat a bit and let them soften (we really don't like crisp vegetables in our house, so I let them get soft, but not mushy).

Now that your protein and vegetables are done, combine them in the pan. Here is where any yummy Asian type sauces come in handy. If you have oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, coconut milk, rice wine, teriyaki, "stir fry", Yoshida's or any other extra sauce combine it with the soy sauce (about 2 Tbls of each) and then add about 2-3 Tbls of corn starch. When mixed, stir it into your veg/meat/broth mixture and stir until thick and bubbly.

Serve over rice and voila: stir fry. It will be slightly different every time, but it will always be good.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Apple Pudding

This recipe originally posted on December 14, 2008. It is one of our favorite winter/fall desserts. I think I could eat an apple dessert every day of winter. Are there that many?

Apple Pudding:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled apples
Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs. Combine dry ingredients and add.

Mix in apples.

This stuff is VERY STIFF. Spread into a greased 9 X 13 pan and bake 45 minutes at 350.

Top with the following sauce:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
Boil the above 3 ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla.
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