Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Steampunk Christmas Cake

I made this cake a few years ago for a family Christmas party. I really like the look of steampunk items, and wanted to combine that with a Christmas theme. As you can tell, my fondant smoothing skills are not perfect, but I really  liked the end result. Everything is edible except for the support system. Even the goggles are entirely edible. :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving has now passed us by, and the world around me has changed quickly over into Christmas mode. I want to linger back a little and share this recipe for gluten and dairy free green bean casserole for you that my family enjoys. Although it is a typical Thanksgiving dish, it could be good for Christmas too, if you want to serve it then as well.

2 lbs. fresh green beans
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup earth balance vegan butter or similar alternative
1/4 cup cornstarch, plus another 1/4 cup cornstarch, separated
2 cans coconut milk
1 onion, cut into half-rings
1/2 lb. bacon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Snap and prepare green beans (a great kid job). Start bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, carefully drop in green beans and boil until fully cooked, but not overdone. Strain and allow to cool slightly.

At the same time, saute the mushrooms and set aside. Cook the bacon in the same pan, then set it aside as well. While the bacon is cooking, seperate the half-rings of onion and toss with cornstarch. Shake off the excess, and place the onion rings, a few at a time, into the bacon grease left after you took the bacon from the pan. Cook until browned and place aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter alternative over medium heat, and then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of cornstarch. Stir  the butter and cornstarch mixture for a minute, and then pour in the coconut milk. Simmer the sauce mix, stirring frequently with a whisk and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

When the sauce has thickened, pour it over the green beans in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms and combine. Pour into a 9x13 inch pan and top with the onions and bacon.

Cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes to heat thoroughly before serving.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

It is nearing 11:00 here, and the kids are all nestled into their beds. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, and I hope you did too. We ended up having a Thanksgiving at home with just me, Brady, and our kids. While I do enjoy seeing all my extended family most years, it was very nice to spend the day with Brady and the kids. I was on my feet most of the day in the kitchen, and by the time dinner was nearly finished I was getting quite tired of it, but everything turned out wonderful. Brady prepared the ham on the Trauger smoker, along with some Jerusalem artichokes that he harvested today, and I prepared mashed potatoes and gravy, baked sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls, and pumpkin pie. It was all from scratch, completely gluten and dairy free, and delicious. We did not have a turkey, but opted for a ham. For some reason, ever since my pregnancy with Princess, the smell of turkey is very unappealing to me, so I had no problem at all eating ham for my Thanksgiving dinner.

I did a lot of thinking about all that I am thankful for while I cooked and washed dishes today. Even though the meal took me a very long time to prepare, I could not help but think how much longer and more difficult it could have been. For one thing, I am thankful that I have a home with a sink and a faucet that instantly brings water (hot or cold!) right into my kitchen without me having to haul it in.

So on this day of thanks, I tried to not only be thankful for my husband and children, but for all the messes that they bring as well. I am thankful for the dirty dishes, because they mean that we have been able to feed our children and ourselves. I am thankful for the ever present laundry, because it means everyone has enough clothing to keep them warm. I am thankful for the constant scattering of books and toys in my home, because it means my children are here and they are safe, and that we have a home to live in.  Some days, I do find it very hard to be thankful for these things, so it helps to take a step back and really appreciate the wonderful life I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Early Christmas!

Today the UPS man brought two great packages to our doorstep today. First, my early Christmas present from Brady arrived. And what was my Christmas present you might ask? A spinning wheel!!! I have been researching what wheel I wanted for a while now, and had it narrowed down to two choices; either the Kromski Sonata, or the Schacht Ladybug. Both seemed like really great wheels. Brady made the hard decision for me, and ordered a Sonata in mahogany finish. It is beautiful. The setup was really easy, especially with my little super helper, Squirt. He was so excited about the whole thing, that when I was trying to practice spinning, I kept feeling a little foot slide up next to mine on the treadle. He also got to go to the yarn store with me today to pick out some fiber to practice with. He is quite well-versed on many things yarny, that one. It cracks me up sometimes.

I did spend some time spinning after getting it set up, and although I need practice, the wheel handles wonderfully. Spike even tried his hand at it for a while and thought it was quite fun.

It was pretty late in the evening when I finally thought I should take some pictures, but I did it anyway, just so you can see how lovely it is. I just need to think of a name for her now...

The Sonata is a fold-able wheel, which was a feature that really attracted me to it. It comes with a bag of really good quality, that is nicely padded for toting the spinning wheel around.  It is shaped like a really large backpack.
Brady purchased this wheel from Paradise Fibers, and we are very pleased with their service. With the purchase of a Kromski Sonata, they do offer one of several extras to be added to your package. Brady picked the fast flyer for me, which is exactly what I would have picked for myself. What an awesome hubby I have. 

The second neat package that arrived today was our Scentsy consultant starter kit. Squirt and Princess had a very fun time smelling all of the testers that came today. Princess declared that she thought Happy Birthday was the best fragrance. I will write more on the start kit here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Bento

Today is the only day any of my children will be heading to the homeschool supplement charter school that they attend. That is a big name for it, but it is the best way I can think to describe it. Since it is Thanksgiving this week, and I only have to pack one school lunch this week, I just had to make it a bento, right?
It's a turkey...made from rice! Better yet, it has turkey sausage for the ground. I will admit I giggled to myself a little while putting it together. Luckily, I dragged myself out of bed to get it finished and packed in a lunchbox before Gizmo got up to get ready for school. The rice is calrose rose, and is colored with soy sauce. The turkey's feathers are bell pepper, as well as the beak, and the eyes are nori. The background is corn. I think something green would have looked nicer, but I didn't have anything on hand.

Having holidays to plan bentos around makes it a lot easier to come up with new ideas.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lego Bento

My oldest son, Spike, is involved with a First Lego League. One day, when packing his lunch, I did up a bento.

The top bento held summer squash and sausage that I quickly sauteed. The the lego man, I colored his head yellow using turmeric, and his body red-ish brown using a bit of paprika and chili powder. It was a little darker red than I wanted, but the spices all added a nice flavor. The man is surrounded by kale, and his facial features and made for cut nori.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Well, hello there stranger...

I have ran into it myself many times while reading blogs....the long absence followed by a promise to try and do better and keep up. I am not sure I will make such a promise on this day, I also realize that there very well might be another long absence in the future. What can I say? That is just the kind of realist that I am. That said, thank you for reading this post, whether you have read my blog before, or somehow stumbled across it while skipping through the internets.

As for interesting things going on in our household, there have been plenty. I feel like there is just too much to say, and at the same time not enough. I guess I will leave it at that. I am going to try and get some knitting (and maybe even crochet) patterns up here soon, as well as some more gluten and dairy free recipes. I hope that you will visit again....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Playing with Bento Lunch

Gizmo has been attending a program for homeschool kids this year. She attends a school once a week and gets to do exciting things like ballroom dancing, piano, and debate. She has been loving it. In addition to learning a lot, it has also helped provide more opportunities to hang out with kids her age. The school does not have a cafeteria available to them, so everybody brings there own lunch, which is certainly not a problem for us since I would most likely be packing her lunch anyway because of her special diet (gluten and dairy free).

While this has brought me much opportunity to practice my bento skills, I have slacked off. While she has had a nutritious and tasty lunch for her each week, they really were not anything special....just stuff like sandwiches or soup in her thermos. She was telling me last week though that there were plenty of microwaves available to heat up lunches, and that got me thinking. One of the reasons I tended to not prepare bento lunches as much was the fact that my kids did not really like eating the food at room temperature, and now that problem has been solved!

So this week to got a cute lunch. Nothing too fancy, but she got a kick out of showing her friends.

The bottoms tray has three mini burgers, along with a bit of chopped green onion, and the bottom tray has sticky rice with flowers that have green onion stems, carrot and red bell pepper blossoms, and pea leaves. The pink elephant in the middle has some soy sauce.

I packed it up along with a small container with some ketchup and mayonnaise to dip her burgers in. She also took along an oroblanco (kind of like a grapefruit) for some fruit. She said it was a very tasty lunch.