Creamy fall goodness

I first came across the idea of clafoutis on some random blog a couple years ago and immediately embraced them.  A basic oven custard of eggs, cream and fruit. I mean seriously, eggs and cream…what’s not to like?  They are probably one of the simplest real food desserts to make, and with hardly any sweetener and all that protein, in my mind  they top out the list of “sweets” that should be made regularly.  The perfect pick-me-up for a nursing mama, full of good fat to help enrich your milk supply.  So yeah, can you tell I like them?!  I’ve experimented with them quite a bit over the last couple years and had several winners.  But until last night I had never even thought of making a pumpkin one…which is crazy since they have the same basic ingredients as pumpkin pie filling.  Duh!  And oh. my. word.  I cannot believe I waited this long to try this variation.  So yummy!  Better than pumpkin pie, in my opinion, and since I love pumpkin pie, that’s saying a lot.  Plus you don’t have to fiddle with a crust, which is always a good thing in my book since I hate making pie crust.  Alright…I’ll quit gushing and post the recipe…

Pumpkin Clafouti

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together about a cup of cream, five eggs, a good bit of vanilla, a small handful of brown sugar, about a cup or so of pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add several handfuls of flour and whisk thoroughly. Pour into a pie pan and bake at 350 degrees until the center is set (about an hour).  Allow to cool some before eating.  The flavor does improve when refrigerated and eaten the next day, if you can wait that long.

Of counting gifts and perfectionism

So, this gift list is a day “late”.  However, unlike other late lists, it’s not because we were traveling or internet-less.  We were home all day yesterday and I even had time in the evening to type it up.  But I didn’t want to.  Because you see, I have this problem and it’s called perfectionism.

Back when I only had one baby (and he took two solid naps a day) and life was less crazy, I was able to write down my gifts throughout the day, as they happened.  But now, especially lately, a whole week will go by and my gift journal will remain unopened.  But not because the gifts aren’t there…they are in abundance.  And I’ll still notice them and rejoice in them, and think to myself that I should jot them down.  But that usually doesn’t end up happening and that’s okay.  The important thing is that I noticed them.  But then, Sunday night or Monday morning rolls around and I want to write up my post.  But instead of just writing down the gifts that pop into my head, I freak out and rack my brain, trying to remember every single one, and write them down in chronological order.  Because if I don’t remember every single one and get it down in order, then the list will supposedly be “incomplete”, etc., etc.  As you can imagine, for a tired mommy brain, it just doesn’t happen.  And so I get frustrated.  Not exactly the thankfulness I was going for with counting my gifts.

And so I’m learning and trying to let go of that.  Trying to realize and remember that I don’t need to record every single gift that comes down from the Father of lights (James 1:17).  The important thing is to notice them and thank my Father for them.  And if I get around to recording them, then good…if not, it doesn’t really matter.  And if nothing is recorded for a week, that’s okay too.  I’ll just remember what I can and share those with others, knowing that my gifts are more than I can count.  And I am thankful.

1831. What a great team my husband and I make.

1832. Going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with Aaron’s family.

1833. Cedar’s delight at getting to touch starfish.

1834. Nursing Genoa in the dark of a secluded corner of one of the exhibits.

1835. The versatility of the Ergo (from baby to toddler).

1836. Chasing Cedar around the kids’ aquarium area.

1837. Cedar’s delighted “Mama!” when he saw something particularly fascinating.

1838. Sitting outside in the sun by the ocean with Genoa sleeping in the Ergo.

1839. Clam chowder in a bread bowl.

1840. Home days to recover from previous days with no naps.

1841. Cedar’s utter enjoyment of “helping water” (i.e. playing in the dishwater).

1842. How easily soapy water cleans up.

1843. Cedar’s “working hard!”.

1844. Looking forward to our weekly at-home date night.

1845. A simple bouquet of two roses and a sunflower from my love.

1846. Genoa in her little jeans and too-short-sundress-turned-tunic over a onesie.

1847. The kids and I helping Aaron clean up his job site.

1848. A dish I randomly invented and threw together turning out just as yummy as I thought it would.

1849. My drying rack.

1850. A package from MoreThanAlive.

1851. New essential oils.

1852. Learning to seek the Father’s will above my own.

1853. A phone call that changes everything and renews anticipation.

1854. Prayer.

1855. How my mom helps me put things in perspective.

1856. Learning to love unselfishly.

1857. Amazing nursing camis.

1858. Eating Ghirardelli chocolate chips off a lid.

1859. My babies modeling their New Zealand wool winter hats.

1860. How much Cedar loves doing his farm animal puzzle.

1861. My love playing with our babies.

1862. Warm Moroccan yumminess.

1863. Chatting with a new friend about food and cloth diapers and life.

1864. Dry rice to help a toddler-drowned phone.

1865. Learning to let go of my perfectionism (again!).

The delicious mingling of ethnicities

When we ordered our quarter of a grassfed cow, about half of it was ground beef.  It’s really good ground beef, but it’s been stretching my cooking repertoire as I try to figure out new ways to incorporate this form of meat into our meals.  So last night, I tried something new…and I think it’ll be something I do again.  I randomly wanted to make something with polenta (which, before last night, I had actually never made before), and got the basic idea from a polenta sausage casserole in one of my cookbooks.  I substituted a meat sauce for the sausage and Moroccan sounded good so that’s how I spiced it.  Topped with mozzarella cheese, it kind of resembled a lasagna.  So, this dish is kind of a blending of  Italian and Moroccan…two amazing cuisines in my opinion and it definitely worked!

Moroccan Beef and Polenta

Place three cups of milk, a good-sized chunk of butter, some salt and sugar in medium-sized saucepan.  On medium-low heat, bring to just below a simmer and add one cup of polenta meal in a steady stream, whisking continuously.  Lower heat and stir with a wooden spoon until it has thickened considerably (the polenta should leave the sides of the pan as you stir it).  Remove from heat and stir in some grated Asiago cheese.  Let cool slightly and then pour into a buttered 9×13 and set aside.  (Or, if you end up getting distracted and forgetting about it until it has cooled a lot and is a lumpy mass, it does end up smoothing out very well with a buttered spatula!)   Roughly chop several small onions and a head of garlic and place in a large cast iron skillet with your ground beef (I used two pounds and it ended up making enough sauce to freeze a little for later).  Cook on medium-high heat until beef is mostly browned.  Season generously with salt, pepper, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and curry powder.  Add a slightly-drained 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and a 6 oz. can of tomato paste.   Stir until mixed together thoroughly and remove from heat.  Top polenta with sauce (depending on how meaty you want it, you can set aside some to use for later).  Top sauce with lots of grated mozzarella.  Bake at 375 until browned and bubbly.  Let stand for at least ten minutes before serving.

The idol on the bathroom counter

If you ever come to visit us, and use our bathroom, you’ll notice that we have two different soap dispensers next to the sink.  One contains Dr. Bronner’s lavender liquid soap, and the other, antibacterial SoftSoap. A little strange to have two, but those soap dispensers actually represent a big victory for me spiritually.  Let me explain…

After I got married, one of the many things I was very excited about was having my own house and keeping it the way I wanted to.  Between living in my parent’s house to regularly cleaning for several different families to working as a mother’s helper in two different places to living with my in-laws for awhile before getting married…I’d experienced my share of different households.  And in all of those, I saw things I liked and things I didn’t like.  And I came away with very decided opinions (and much anticipation) as to how I was going to run my own household.

One of the big things I wanted was to go all-natural in regard to cleaners, soaps, etc.  I was able to accomplish that pretty easily with cleaners (something that I’ve become even more adamant about now that I have littles).  With hand soap, we started out just using Dr. Bronner’s lavender liquid soap and I thought it was great.  However, my husband really likes SoftSoap and didn’t like Dr. Bronner’s as hand soap.  So he asked if I would mind if we got some antibacterial SoftSoap.  Of course, I said that would be fine, but inwardly a battle raged.  SoftSoap?!  Tops on the list of Triclosan criminals that to me epitomized the conventional way of cleaning  I wanted so badly to get away from. (Triclosan is the substance that kills germs in antibacterial soaps, lotions, etc. that, in short, is not very good for you.)  I felt like it would contaminate my perfect little “all-natural” home. Et cetera, et cetera.

But then I realized…I was being ridiculous (shocker!).  I mean, it’s soap!!  Yes, Triclosan isn’t a good thing to have much contact with, but so are many, many other things that we deal with every day.  Having antibacterial hand soap in our bathroom would not kill anyone, that’s for sure.  And yes, it supposedly “messes up” my perfect little all-natural-ness, but that’s a good thing.  Going green was obviously becoming an idol to me and so it actually needed to be messed up.  My pride over being so natural could end up hurting myself and my family much more than any amount of chemicals ever would.

So I calmed down and let go of it.  We compromised and he let me keep the dispenser of Dr. Bronner’s at the sink too (partly because, at the time, I was in the throes of morning sickness with Cedar, and the smell of SoftSoap [and a billion other things!] made me nauseous).  And every single time I fill our Mason jar dispenser with that antibacterial soap, or when I put another double package of it next to the quinoa in our Costco cart, I’m reminded again not to let my crunchiness become an idol or a source of pride.  While it’s good a thing to strive to care for my family in a natural way, idolatry and pride are much nastier “chemicals” by far.

Things I’ve learned…

I’m a couple days late in posting this, but Monday I had my first non-YLCF guest post published!  Over at Hope Road, I shared several things that I’ve learned being a mama to two littles under the age of two. The first thing was…

1. It’s probably not going to be as hard as you think it will be: When I was pregnant with Genoa, and mothering Cedar, the thought of multiplying this times two was rather intimidating. But after Genoa was born, I realized that it doesn’t actually multiply times two and being a mama to two wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Granted, this may not apply to everyone, especially if you have extra circumstances like a colicky baby, etc. But for me, and for several of my friends who also have two under two, it wasn’t nearly as hard as we thought it would be…and I think I know why. When you have your first baby, everything changes! You don’t get nearly as much sleep, you can’t do all the things you could before. So when you think of adding another child to everything, you think that the change will be as dramatic as the first since that’s all you have experience with. But when you transition from one child to two, you’re already in “kid mode”. Things have already changed from having your first so it’s just a matter of figuring out logistics of adding another little person to the mix.

Read the rest here.

Gifts in the changing of the seasons

1501. New kids’ books.

1502. The Whale and the Snail becoming a fast favourite.

1503. Watching Cedar’s imagination and memory grow.

1504. Learning patience and waiting on the Lord’s timing.

1505. Aaron finishing a fencing job going so well.

1506. “New” winter shirts…all gifts or garage-sale finds.

1507. Mushrooms.

1508. Pumpkin pie casserole.

1509. Homemade meatballs.

1510. Waking up to a light dusting of snow outside.

1511. Fires in our woodstove.

1512. A pizza party at Aaron’s parents’ house.

1513. Going bowling with Aaron’s family.

1514. Watching Cedar ride the coin-operated train at the bowling alley.

1515. Going shopping as our little family.

1516. Being able to buy so much good food.

1517. A full pantry, fridge and freezers.

1518. Genoa’s little pink shoes.

1519. Watching “Cars 2” with my love.

1520. Making breakfast sausage (with ground beef).

1521. Our new glass storage containers (Glasslock Snapware).

1522. Wearing my shirtdress over a skirt.

1523. Genoa trying to get the board books out of their basket.

1524. Napping babies.

1525. Snowy trees on distant ridgelines.

1526. Little ruffled trouser pockets.

1527. Chubby baby bottoms.

1528. Eating Chocolate Hazelnut Butter by the spoonful.

1529. Figuring out which essential oil to try next.

1530. Cheddar avocado sandwiches.


A crunchy minimalist’s guide to baby stuff – Part Four (an addendum to the addendum)

Hopefully this will be the last addition to this series…you can only have so many addendums!  In the last part of this guide, I mentioned stuff that we’ve discovered since Genoa was born and yet this particular item slipped my mind.  I’m not sure how it could have since I use it pretty regularly, but I guess I’ll just blame it on mommy brain…

Nosefrida Snotsucker (Baby Nasal Aspirator) – I can’t remember where I first heard about this, but after I got over the initial grossness mental block, it sounded like a great idea!  I have always hated using bulb syringes to clear my babies’ noses and my babies have hated it even more.  And I never could get the hang of it very well either, so they were quite ineffective, but they were the only option I knew of to clear out those little noses.  But the Snotsucker is 100 times more effective!  Basically it’s a tube, with a filter in it, that you place up against the baby’s nose and suck those little boogers out.  Yes, it initially sounds disgusting, but with the filter and the length of the tube, there is really no way that your mouth would touch the snot.  And I was just blown away by how it works so well, every single time I’ve used it.  Genoa seems to get stuffy noses more than Cedar did (not from being sick…just from boogers), so she gets “desnufflized” pretty regularly.  After I drip some expressed breastmilk in her nose to soften everything, a couple sucks on the Nosefrida and everything is clear.  I love it!  Definitely something I think every mother should have…

A crunchy minimalist’s guide to baby stuff:
Part One: 0-6 Months
Part Two: 6-12 Months
Part Three: An Addendum
Part Five: The Boba Baby Carrier
Part Six: The Travel Edition