Thursday, August 26, 2010

Salsa Beef

I canned some more salsa today.  I eat a ton of salsa, and I like making it from tomatoes I grew in my own yard.  My goal is to can enough salsa to last me until next summer.  (It is doubtful that I will make it; I really am a bit obsessed with salsa!)  Besides just eating it on anything from scrambled eggs to tortilla chips, it is really good to have on hand for an easy dinner.  My mom (who is an excellent cook) threw a jar of salsa and a beef roast into the crock pot, and wha-la: salsa beef.   Generally, I use about half a jar of salsa and a bit of water, plus I add an onion, quartered.  Just put the crock pot on low and let cook all day.  It is great shredded and topped with cheese on a whole-wheat bun.  It can also be served with rice.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I had planned all along for Lydia's room to be purple with yellow and white daisies, but I hadn't done much to really make it come together until this morning.  I made this daisy with leftover craft items that I had on hand, and I'm so happy with how it turned out.  It makes her room much more cheerful, and the center of the daisy matches her curtains and the quilt my mom made her.  (The petals match the afghan I made her.)
She wanted a picture, too:
Her hair was pretty crazy this morning!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Paper people

Lately, Malachi has been really enjoying making paper people.  Then my nieces came to visit, and they and Elijah got into the fun, too.  You can simply cut people shapes out of construction paper, and then let them decorate as they please!  This has been an extremely popular and simple craft.  Some of our people had wiggly eyes, but when they ran out, drawing the eyes worked just fine.  Some people have yarn hair or construction paper clothes, but some are decorated only with crayons.  If you have paper in skin tones, you can use those, but if not, plain white or off-white construction paper can be colored any shade you choose.  Or, of course, you could always be creative and make very colorful people: one person was a rainbow all over!  Malachi prefers to make actual people that he knows, so today after school he asked for a "brown-skin" friend and a "skin like me" friend so he could make school buddies James and Andrew.  Very cute.  He also likes to make the clothes, so I am pictured above in my orange shirt and brown shorts.  (Yes, I am bald as a paper person!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I've never grown tomatillos before.  A few years ago, I fell in love with a tomatillo salsa recipe that I got from the Foodnetwork's Tyler Florence.  I've made it several times since then, and I always look forward to finding tomatillos to make it.  This year I decided to grow my own, and they are doing nicely in a pot on my deck.  However, I don't know for sure how to tell when they are ripe.  Does anyone know?  I did taste one yesterday, and it tasted like a tomatillo (which of course got me dreaming of salsa!). 
Are you wondering why I would taste one without knowing for sure if it was ripe or not?  Well, my darling daughter has been attacking my potted plants with the zeal of a tomato worm.  Seriously.  This is how the tomatillo plants are guarded at the moment: 
Every chance she gets, our little baby chickie pulls a piece off of the plants: leaves, tomatillos, stems, she doesn't care.  Since she pulled off a little tomatillo yesterday, I decided to eat it.  And it was so good.  But they are very small, more like the size of cherry tomatoes, so I'm not sure how to tell if they will grow more or not.
Of course, it may not matter if Lydia keeps this up!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Peasant Chicken

I mentioned before how much I love Mexican food.  When I was 18, I went to Mexico for 6 weeks, and one of the things I did was take a cooking class. At that time my Spanish really wasn't very good, and the teacher spoke no English and used metric measurements (liters, etc).  I took lots of notes and later consulted many dictionaries to translate the recipes she gave the class.  Now I can read the Spanish, but it is fun to see my notes from that time.  I've made many of the recipes over the years, and this is one I've made many, many times.  It is good served over rice or egg noodles.  It is NOT spicy, so don't expect a spicy dish. 
Pollo Campesino (Peasant Chicken)
6-8 chicken pieces (legs and/or thighs are what I usually use)
1 chopped zucchini or yellow squash
1 c corn
1 or 2 chopped peppers, either bell or poblano
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c tomato sauce
1 or 2 tsp oregano (I use Mexican oregano, but regular is fine too)
1/2 c sour cream

Brown the chicken in a skillet in olive oil.  Remove chicken.  Saute onion and garlic for about a minute, then add the rest of the vegetables, the tomato sauce, and oregano.  Salt to taste.  Mix well, then put the chicken back in.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  (If you are using already cooked chicken, only 10 minutes will do.)  Remove from heat, and right before serving, add sour cream.  Serves 4.
Check out other bloggers' recipes at Fight Back Fridays

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fruit and School

I've been up to my eyeballs in fruit around here!  The kids helped me pick crabapples off of the tree in our front yard, and I made some crabapple butter with those.  Then Saturday, we went to the farm and picked 60 lbs of peaches!!  I'm still peeling and slicing those, but so far, I've canned honey-sweetened peach jam, peach blackberry jam, and peach butter.  I'd have made more of the honey peach, but I ran out of honey, so I'll have to get some more at the farmer's market Saturday. I've also made peach pudding and fruit salad, and I've been freezing peaches.  Yet there's still more, so today while the boys are at school, I will most likely be dealing with peaches.
We also picked some blackberries and raspberries.   Lydia was my most enthusiastic picker.  She only picked red raspberries, and then when we switched to blackberries, I told her, "Now we only pick the black ones, not the red ones."  Only black ones went into her bucket.  She never picked a red blackberry.  I couldn't believe how well she understood that.
Yes, the boys start school today.  I can't believe I have a second grader and a kindergartener already. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New family pictures

The kids at the Homeplace.  They loved dressing up!
I really loved the boys' hats. 
And here is Elijah working at the cabin for Pa:
One last picture.  Pure joy from Malachi: