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Cookies and Mashed Potatoes

I read a wonderful article in the June 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping this week. It was all about making vegetables more palatable and had a catchy title that would definitely appeal to my family, “Learn to Love the Veggies You Hate.” Of course, they would probably more likely appreciate something like, “How to Keep Your Mom from Fixing Vegetables EVER” but so far that one hasn’t made it to the major magazines.

sarah's french toast

Sarah finishes up the last of the Baked French Toast from Tuesday.

Now I like most vegetables but they managed to pick a few that don’t even make it to my “hey, let’s try this” list. To be fair (ie put myself in a better light) two of the veggies are favorites and eaten almost daily in our house.

I’m an adventuresome soul and always ready to experiment on my family with new, healthy, weird concoctions (they love me for this, I assure you) so I determined to try out one of Good Housekeeping’s veggie recipes. To be safe I started with something that looked down right acceptable: Broccoli Gratin. It has broccoli (something we already eat regularly) and potatoes. How can you go wrong? I figure I’ll ease them into these slowly and then hit them with one of the others like Shredded Beets with Celery and Dates (oh yeah, that’s gonna go over well here).

Broccoli Gratin

1 pound broccoli florets
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in chunks
2 cups water
Pinch ground nutmeg (I omitted this)
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Boil potatoes and broccoli until tender (17 to 20 minutes)
Drain vegetables, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Mash veggies, adding some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Stir in nutmeg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper.
In shallow baking dish, spread vegetable mixture; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until Parmesan is browned.

I did have to make some adjustments to the recipe. I didn’t have any Yukon Gold potatoes. I cut up a small bag of red potatoes to use then changed my mind. I ended up drizzling them with Olive Oil, salt and fresh Parmesan and baking them in the oven. I decided to use instant mashed potatoes instead. I cooked the broccoli (didn’t measure) in water with some salt and butter until soft (and mushy, I mean very tender). I saved the liquid and pureed the broccoli in the food processor. I added some milk and a little more butter to the water and mixed up some instant mashed potatoes. I stirred in some sharp cheddar cheese (couldn’t resist) and then added the broccoli. I put the whole mixture into a Coring Ware dish, topped with fresh Parmesan and popped it into the oven with the roasting red potatoes.


It was delicious! Everyone liked it (well, everyone who likes mashed potatoes). It would also work, I think, with cooked cauliflower (although don’t tell my family or they’ll start to get suspicious). Tim thought it was a fairly painless way to eat broccoli. Joshua wasn’t sure about it as he couldn’t tell how many potatoes and how much broccoli he was eating. I think he likes his food separated out. It’s just proper, potatoes should be on one side and veggies the other with meat in the center. :)

On another, sweeter note, I made some yummy carrot cookies for an after dinner treat. It was so healthy I didn’t even charge the kids for a dessert point.

I LOVE this cookbook!! It’s one of my current favorites. If you like to bake and get excited about wheat germ, lecithin granules, and soy flour and recipes that unabashedly use these type of “exotic” ingredients, then you simply HAVE to check out this book or one of the author’s other selections.


The Smart Baking Cookbook: Muffins, Cookies, Biscuits and Breads by Jane Kinderlehrer

A friend introduced me to the author’s books, Smart Cookies and Smart Muffins. I found the Smart Baking Cookbook at the library. It has a collection of the muffins, cookies, and bread recipes all in one. I’ve gone to several times to buy the book but keep resisting (I mean, library rentals go for 3 weeks so I have time). Tim and I are a serious budget these days so there isn’t a lot of extra money available for “frivolous spending.” Still, I do have some anniversary money kicking around and definitely MUST own this book. We have Amazon Prime this year which means all of our Amazon shipping is FREE (if it is an Amazon sold item and not through another seller). How tempting is that??

Tonight I made:

Golden Carrot Molasses Gems

1/3 cup vegetable oil (preferably olive)
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated raw carrots
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tbs bran
2 tbs rice polish or soy flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup rolled oats

In food processor, blender, or mixing bowl, combine oil, molasses, egg and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add carrots and blend.

Combine wheat flour, wheat germ, bran, rice polish or soy flour, baking pwdr, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and milk powder.

Add to carrot mixture. Blend briefly. Stir in raisins and oats.

Bake 350 of 12 to 15 minutes.

carrot cookies

These were delicious! The kids all loved them. One thing I especially appreciate about the author is all the additional information she incorporates in her recipes. She gives tips on when and what to serve with the goodies, what kind of nutritional value is emphasized in each recipe, and so on.

I did have to make a list and buy some things not normally found in my pantry. Most everything was found in the bulk food section of one of our local grocery stores so it wasn’t too difficult.

There you have it. Two new recipes to try and one book recommendation. Enjoy.

Project 365 – Day 158

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P365 – Day 102 Webkinz Hit Our House

The children have a new obsession – Webkinz. They heard about this new, exciting entertainment from some friends. It’s as if Beanie Babies married a computer programmer (a gamer, no less). You buy one of many adorable stuffed animals and with it (on it’s sacred tag) comes a code number. This number allows you to log on to the webkinz website and create a world for your pet. You play the games in order to earn money (realistic, I must say, that’s what we all know Tim is doing at work – playing games on his laptop). With the money you buy furnishings and other things for your pet. I’ll have to see if Daniel and Rachel will post a blog about their newfound fun.

daniel and david

I thought this sounded like a fun new game but didn’t give it much thought beyond that as we do not have ANY money in our budget these days for more stuffed animals (even if they do come with cool computer/web access). Lo and behold, we had visitors to our house and what were they hiding behind their backs? Not one but TWO Webkinz animals. One for Daniel and Rachel! Wow! What a huge gift! Thank you, Julee and girls. You are too kind.

So now Rachel and Daniel are extremely motivated to clean their rooms and do other chores as well as finish their school in record time, all in order to get time on the computer. Rachel told me, “I guess I won’t be a chip horder any more, Mom, with this fun game to play.” Joshua, who is NOT a stuffed animal lover and generally eschews these type of childish interests, has been seen helping Daniel with his pet for long periods of time. No doubt just doing a little consulting work on the side, I’m sure he isn’t really interested in the games. :)

Anyone else in on this craze? I felt vaguely comforted when the women’s ministry’s director of our church came over yesterday and immediately recognized the Webkinz game page. “Oh, do you guys have Webkinz?” She then launched into a long description of one aspect of the game. No doubt, like Joshua, she’s just “helping” her kids play. Nice to see people being so considerate. Lol!


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Some fun blog links

Some fun posts I’ve read this week on friends’ blogs:

*Best souvenir from a homecoming military dh – De’Etta (aka Burka Babe)

*Weirdest Cat Art (Is this for real??) – Don’t Try This At Home

*College Reflections – Rachel (one of my awesome W&M roommates)

*Decorating the home for Easter – Emily

*More Inspiring Easter decorating with Emily

*Travels around England with Betty the stuffed duck – Romany

*Photography book review – Kristine

*Lots of pictures of a great trip to Disney – Cynthia

*10 Requirements for Surgery – Ginger

*Night with the Moody Chorale – Carl

That’s just a little of what I’ve been reading lately. It’s a wonder I have any time to blog at all. But then I just let the children clean the house so I have plenty of time to sit around and browse blogs.

Share some of your favorite blogs in the comments section! Remember, 72 million blogs and counting.


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P365 – Day 81 (Rubbing Fish)

That’s a catchy title! Sure to draw in the crowds. It’s sort of sad what a girl will do to get more readers for her blog. :) Since I’m determined not to disappoint, I’ll open with this great picture.

rachel's fish

A SHS loopie friend (from my Yahoo homeschooling e-mail group) has a wonderful business that she and her family run called, Hands and Hearts. They sell educational toys and games, history materials, books, crafts and so on. One of their treasures is a line of history kits.

far east kit

I LOVE books and can read to the children for hours. I am NOT, however, good at providing hands-on activities. Thankfully there are co-ops and people like Kate who want to help the unskilled among us.

Since we are using Sonlight’s Eastern Hemisphere this year for our history, Bible and reading curriculum, the Ancient Far East kit seemed a perfect fit. Today our project of choice was printing a fish. This kit contains an actual preserved gray perch (fish) that you use to create a gyotaku print on real rice paper. The gyotaku link has some amazing prints, ours are a little (ahem) more basic.

gloves required

The instructions carefully describe exactly what you do, beginning with Wash the Fish. This was probably the most intense part of the whole adventure. It’s pretty much all mellow, easy and downhill after you’ve taken a dead fish, held it in your hands (albeit gloved) and washed it. Remember, we are BOOK people not Actually-Go-Out-and-Do-It people so, although we’ve read many tales of exciting (and gross) adventures, we have led a fairly tame life.

Daniel (of course, need I say more) was elected to handle the Dead Fish Bath. He did a great job, to the admiration and appreciation of his followers.

fish washing

One hand is bare! He touched the fish, he touched the fish! Ewww! Mommy, Daniel touched a dead fish!

Dan handles the fish!

Notice the intensity with which everyone watches Daniel. He is definitely the star of the moment!

Thanks, Dan!

Next things were laid out and the paint readied.
ready supplies


The children worked carefully to brush the water/paint mixture on the fish scales. Joshua was our “instructor” for the day. He read directions, supervised the application of paint, and did several of the actual rubbings. I’m barely needed for the project as all. Of course, I was needed to take 50 pictures. I obliged with hardly any complaining.

here we go

I kept the fish around for several days, hoping we could dissect it (him?), but I’m afraid I must have very strange homeschooled children, not a single one of them was interested in slicing that little guy open. There was no strange odor to the fish so I can’t understand why they didn’t leap at the opportunity.

final product

The final product! Colorful fish prints.

A squeamish bunch perhaps? How are they going to handle biology in the upcoming years? More importantly, how are they going to become rich and famous doctors and support me in my old age?


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P365 – Day 72 (Rambling w/pictures)

It turns out when you stay home and actually spend some time homeschooling, an incredible amount of learning goes on. Hmmm. I’m going to have to ponder this a bit more. I went to the store for a few groceries but otherwise, spent the rest of the day focused on the children and school. Perhaps it is the contrast from yesterday’s busyness that makes today seem so productive. Or maybe it was our utter lack of progress Monday that spurred on our productivity today, whatever the cause I was very pleased with all we accomplished.

three boys

Look at these boys, eagerly poring over a computer screen. No doubt they are working on math drills or spelling words. Oh, wait, that’s Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. Oops, not school at all. Not pictured in the background is Tim fighting scoundrels on his Pirates game. Definitely a computer moment for the men folk.

David did his table work (Horizons math, Explode the Code, and Italics) and then sat down for an hour of reading with me (and Sarah). Points for doing school with the little ones. I love the Bible study/devotional book we are going through these days. It’s called My ABC Bible Verses – Hiding God’s Word in my Heart by Susan Hunt. Each letter of the alphabet has a Bible verse and a short story applying the scripture. The discussion section has you recite the verse three times and then go back and review the previous verses. Tonight David and Sarah went over the verses with Tim and were able to remember almost all of them. Definite points for children actually remembering something from school. Double points for scripture memory. We’ll have to keep working on the whole application thing.

abc book

Rachel and I checked math lessons. More homeschooling teacher points. Joshua and I caught up (well, tried anyway) on dictation tests. Loss of points since we are very behind and didn’t finish both quizzes. Daniel and I worked on our China log. No points as this should be done every day and we missed yesterday. We read two (long – I know this because the kids tell me, in dismayed voices, how many verses in each chapter) chapters of the Gospel John as well as Chapter 13 of Proverbs. Points for scripture. Double points for extra passages are canceled out by the fact that these are chapters we should have read over the weekend. We read several books on China and pulled out the Ancient China Treasure Chest. Points for hands on activities. Don’t we sound like a model homeschool!

Does anyone else keep score in their head like this?

By the end of it all, Rachel was begging for a break and Daniel had already slipped off to see the end of David and Sarah’s movie. Since they were watching Barbie Fairytopia, you know he was desperate. Ah, it was still good day with lots of homeschooling teacher points.

Too bad it ended with Sarah and Rachel both getting sick.

flushed cheeks SArahsarah reads

I don’t know if Sarah felt unwell or if she just sat down to read and Daniel decided to set her up with a cozy little reading nook. Whatever the case, she ended up with this snuggly spot and fell asleep by dinner time. Sleeping in the middle of the day is NEVER normal for my bunch of rowdy, rabble rousers.

rachel on the couchrachel

Rachel ate a little dinner and rallied thanks to some meds. She came down around 11 pm, asking for a water bottle. She looked flushed and felt feverish so I presume the meds have worn off. I don’t think she’s going to be up for a piano lesson tomorrow morning. Did I mention that we have been incredibly healthy, as a family, for the past six months, maybe year? Tim and I are praying for a quick recovery for the girls and protection for the rest of the family. We’re greedy that way.

Rapid change of topics (hence the ‘rambling’ title).

Joshua and David have this wonderful friendship. I love to watch them together. They wrestle and fly paper airplanes and read books on Big Blue. Lately they have been slipping outside for Swing Ball and storytelling. Joshua is weaving, for David, an elaborate tale of several kings and their exploits. I don’t know the details except for a few names I overheard, Fred and Schmedlap (sp?) and something about a chicken. The stories and game usually come to a halt when I come outside. Obviously I’m the “wrong kind” of audience for Joshua’s stories. So I content myself with looking out the window. I watch them laugh and play together and marvel at the special bond between brothers.

joshua and david

One day he might catch up to you in height, Joshua. Watch out!

david swingsjoshua swings

Just another piece of our crazy, precious life. As Tim often says, “This is the BEST family in the world.” With no offense intended to the rest of the population, I’m inclined to agree with him.


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