Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grant's Little Hand Pies

Grant wanted to make PIE for the fair. .
His mother makes pie. .
But her pies are U-G-L-Y!!
As I thought about it though. .
I figured a rustic little hand pie would be a good choice.
He was not impressed with the name "hand pie". .
He thought it sounded WEIRD. .
in a bad way. .
But. .
With his exceptional teenage-stage motivational skills. .
He didn't have a better idea. .
so he opted for MINE!
We started with apple. .
His choice.
He made them twice. .
Apple pie is probably my least favorite pie. .
They usually seem so dry.
That was the problem we found with his. .
Even using a carmelized apple filling.
So. .
We changed gears. .
And found recipes for a triple berry centered pie. .
Except that when it came time to make the filling. .
Someone had eaten all my frozen blueberries. .
Except for 3 berries. .
That was all that was left in my bag in the freezer. .
Welcome to my world, people!
So. .
We swapped in frozen peaches that I just HAPPENED to have!
And this recipe had a crust that was different from the pie crust that we had wrapped the filling in before.
He made the recipe 3 times. .
The first two times the filling oozed out all over the pan. .
They tasted good. .
but they weren't pretty.
We used both fresh. .
And then frozen fruit. .
The filling turned out good every time!
The third time (which was for the fair). .
He was dilligent about using more dough and folding the edges up over themselves and pressing them down. .in an attempt to keep the juice contained into the pastry.
The judge knocked him on the crust. .
saying it was too tough. .
But WE thought that the taste was soo good. .
that the slightly hard crust was over-lookable!!
Especially since the filling wasn't oozing out all over the parchment paper!
A red ribbon was what he earned!
I don't generally promote that my kids try to wing a recipe the night before the fair. .
I want them to have practiced it before. .
But. .
Since we were a little worried about what his pie filling would do. .
I handed him this recipe for a Dill Herb Bread that uses cottage cheese in the yeast bread.
I've made it before several times. .
And had good and tasty results. .
He did an excellent job executing the directions. .
And took a State Fair blue ribbon on them.
So he will make them again in September.

He also got excellent ratings on the two lamps he crafted.
He had one photo that will go on to the state fair. .
And a couple that the judge had some suggestions for!

 Horticulturally, it was slim pickin's.
He ran out and located one coneflower to take. .
We haven't had time to dig into our cages planted with potatoes.
The last time I stuck my hand in there to feel for anything. .
I got injected with wasp venom clear to my BONE!!
Some of the plants grew. .
and we are eager to see what, if anything has grown in there. .
I'll keep my gardening friends posted on that soon!
But as far as veggies to enter in the fair. .
There were NONE!

Hope you make time to try out these little pies soon. .
Someone will LOVE you for it!!

Up next. .
We may not be Russian. .
But I think I have found my NEW favorite way to enjoy cinnamon and bread!!

Be blessed. .
And enjoy your week!

Baked Triple Fruit Hand Pies
Ingredients: Hand Pie Crust
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut in small cubes
1 cup water
1 cup ice cubes

Ingredients: Fruit Filling:
2 cups peaches, fresh or frozen
2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon half and half

Directions: Hand Pie Crust
Mix the flour, salt, powdered sugar together. Cut in butter until pea sized.
In a 1 cup measure cup add ice cubes and water.  Stir until water is cold.  Add 10 tablespoons of water stirring with a fork to mix until dough starts to form a ball and no  longer.
Form into a ball.  Cut the ball in half and wrap each one in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Directions:  Fruit Filling
Preheat  oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl add the fruits (if using frozen, don’t thaw out first), cornstarch, sugar and vanilla.  Mix/toss all together until well blended; set aside.

Cut the dough into about 12 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 6 inch circle or so. Place about ¼ cup filling in the center, making sure each fruit is on the pastry. Fold ½ the dough over the fruit, folding up the edges and pressing together with a fork, being sure to seal it together.
Place the hand pies on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.  In a small bowl, mix egg and half and half.  Brush top of the hand pies with egg mixture.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Cool slightly before removing them from the sheet pan. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Devin and the Gourmet Muffins

As promised. .
I wanted to share some of our recipes with you all. .
It's no secret that am a bit of a food snob. .
I like different. .
Fresh. .
And, while we MOSTLY eat normal things that everyone else would eat too. .
I LOVE trying recipes that are intriguing!
I also believe that uncommon recipes do a little better with a judge during competitions. .
And so, we usually try to take a narrow route as far as recipes are concerned. .
Often I go through magazines. .
 or my huge array of cookbooks. .
or the internet. .
And dog ear recipes to let the kids look through later to decide.
This year, I was searching up muffins. .
And Devin tried several recipes first, all of which were pretty tasty.
This was not his favorite. .
But it did have great flavor. .
And a bit of the unusual.
White Chocolate Apricot Muffins. .
Adapted from some website!
He also made Quadruple Chocolate cookies. .
which featured Special Dark baking cocoa. .
and were DELICIOUS!!
He took home a blue ribbon on them.
These muffins were the last thing to bake the night before the fair. .
And we made a double batch. .
which helps sometimes when trying to find 3 products that are the same size, same color, etc.
Unfortunately. .
I got busy trying to get the recipes adapted and copied off my files for the judging. .
And we ALL missed the timer going off by several minutes. .
SO. .
His muffins were slightly overcooked. .
Thus earning him a red ribbon. .
And here's a little judging/baking tip. .
Devin squirted the muffin tins with spray oil to keep them from sticking. .
And must have gotten a little too much at the top of each muffin cup. .
The judge suggested wiping the tops off a bit. .
because the muffins couldn't raise up the side of the muffin tin correctly because of the oil!
BUT. .
The flavor is sooo yummy. .
that you should give the recipe a try out!
I loved the way his shelf turned out. .
He used the tea finish and steel wool/vinegar combo. .
And it looks like we took the wood from a barn!
I am excited to put it up on the wall near my laundry area. .
And place pictures of messy kids on it (a great pinterest idea I found).

He also learned a LOT from the poultry judge, as mentioned the other day. .
And his two hens took a blue ribbon.
We are hopeful that the other 19 chicks will thrive and prosper. .
So he will have a choice of specimens next year!!

Hope you try out the muffins and enjoy them too!
Enjoy your weekend!!
Next up. .
If you don't like muffins. .
I can't imagine anyone NOT liking fruit. .
and pastry!!
Stay tuned!!

                    White Chocolate Apricot Muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger (I actually had this in my freezer because I had wanted to try it once earlier. .They add a bit of spicy undertone to the muffin. .but they would be fine if you opted not to put them in!)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces premium white baking chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through chocolate) in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, and egg; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon batter into each of 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 teaspoons preserves into center of each muffin cup (do not spread over batter); top with remaining batter. Bake at 400° for 22 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Us. .A Survival Story!

It's so hard for me to believe that we are now winding down another month!!
The kids had a good week at the fair. .
Some good markings. .
And advice on things that they can do better. .
or differently. .
And lots was learned about themselves. .
and their projects. .
The memorable quote of the week for me was this. .
Me. .Devin, what did you learn from the poultry judge?
Dev (without even thinking first) blurts. .
Well, I learned how to feel a chicken's butt to see if they are ready to lay an egg!!
How ARE you supposed to respond to that??
Here is the photo I promised of Tristan's finished sofa table. .
I will admit. .
I think it looks fabulous in my new room behind the table!!
There a few areas that I think we will try and fix with some antiquing glaze or something. .
The contrast is a little sharp for my taste. .
Overall though. .
I love it. .
And he is proud of it too!!
Character built. .
and lessons learned!!
The kids worked hard at the carnival to help raise money for our youth group leader that just lost his wife. .
as well as to go on a mission trip this fall. .
They learned and practiced giving to their community. .
And making people smile. .
Whether it benefits them personally. .
or not!
What a dedicated and great group of kids the Lord has sent me!
We have enjoyed some BLESSEDLY cooler temperatures. .
As well as several little rain showers. .
We have had a little over an inch in the last week. .
And that is fairly rare in our area for July!
The flowers are LOVING it. .
And so is the gardener!!
Cami shot this photo herself!!
Miss Thing went to her pediatric dentist yesterday. .
NO cavities. .
Not even ONE. .
The first great visit since we were referred there 1 1/2 years ago!!
BUT. .
Look what happened!!
She thinks she still looks cute without the tooth. .
But I may not be looking for that to happen in about a month. .
When we have to go back. .
Gas her up. .
remove the top two teeth. .
And slice through her palate to retrieve an extra tooth that is situated right between her 2 permanent teeth!!
As an answer to prayer. .
we are hoping that the permanent tooth that is turned wrong (to make room for the extra tooth). .
Will turn itself back to a more normal position before it erupts through into its spot in the front of her mouth!
But for now. .
we celebrate no cavities. .
and a visit from the tooth fairy!!
So, while we have been busy. .
Not a lot to talk about!
BUT. .
I WILL leave you with our "You might be a redneck story" of the week!
I'll bet you will find yourself chuckling!!

When they did our room addition. .
The house had a ginormous hole in the side of it for nearly a week. .
APPARENTLY, unbeknownst to me. .
There has been an invasion of mice. .
Everyone knew EXCEPT for me. .
which is great, cause they have been in the basement or the attic. .
And not in my kitchen or bedroom!!
Jeremy cornered one and fisted it to death a week ago. .
And Grant caught one in his room in a trap while his friend was staying the night Thursday night. .
But Tristan. .
Comes to my bedroom door around 11:00 or 11:30 last week. .
and whispers. .
Mom. .Mom!!
What Tristan (in a worn out mom voice)!
"I just shot a mouse in my bedroom with my blow gun (you know, the little tubes that you blow a needle-like dart out of with your mouth. .they are used by the jungle amazons and cave men and are still for sale today for teenagers to enjoy)!!"
It was another hour before I could stop laughing!!

You might be a redneck. .
If your son shoots and kills a mouse in his BEDROOM. .
With a blow gun!!

Now. .
Get back to work!!
Enjoy your week!!
Ours will go fast!
I have some awesome fair recipes to share soon. .
So don't stay away too long!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Little Lamp Story

I really enjoy Pinterest!
But I find it to be very addictive for me. .
And for that reason. .
I don't allow myself a lot of time on there. .
Maybe a few hours once a month or so!
I found an awesome idea a while back for Grant to do as an electricity project for 4-H.
It's a lamp made from a rustic toaster. The original lamp shade was an old colandar. .
But I happened to have an old silver bowl that we got as a wedding gift and never really used. .
Mostly because I hate to polish stuff!
There were no directions on Pinterest for making it. .
Just a photo.
So I gave Grant the old toaster that I picked up at an antique store for $3. .
And the silver bowl.
The rest was up to him.
His dad has a small collection of pipes and etc. .
So he found a small metal tube that didn't overpower the size of the toaster.
They torched out a small hole from the top of the toaster (I know, it totally looks like a cheese grater!)
And attached the metal tubing with bolts and nuts.
I came back later to see how things were going. .
And Grant was working with the wires on the lamp kit I had bought at Lowes.
He didn't appear to me to know exactly what he was up to. .
And when I asked him if he knew what he was doing. .
He, quite candidly, replied that he did not. .
never looking up from his work.
Which made this secretly taken photo a few minutes later. .
Even better!
Apparently even reading the directions didn't help him. .
Because when he brought it to the house. .
And plugged it into the outlet in the kitchen. .
From my spot in front of the computer. .
The last thing I heard. .
Was the click of the lamp switch. .
And then all the power to the kitchen and my computer went off!
I had to bite my tongue. .
As Grant spewed some irritated words. .
And his dad looked at the whole thing and said. .
Well, Grant. .
the wires aren't hooked up right (Really! We hadn't noticed!)
It didn't take Grant long to rewire it. .
And, amazingly. .
The lamp has worked fine ever since!!
Live and learn, right??
The end!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekend Warriors

Well. .
The fair is upon us!!
It was funny to watch how our family spent the weekend. .
In between fair set up, Devin's golf tourney, a friend's wedding, a garden tractor pull, and church activities. .
The rest of the weekend was a little discombobulated and ant-den-ish!!
But a lot of activity happened between major events!!
Check it out!
These two kids put the finishing touches on their woodworking projects. .
We tried a new technique to finish them. .
Both boys used a strong black tea mixture painted on their raw wood. .
And then painted it with a solution made from STEEL WOOL dissolved in VINEGAR!!
It instantly turned the wood a deep greyish black. .
And made it look like we dug it out of the dump. .
I know. .
Not everyone would covet that effect!
Unfortunately, though. .
Wood filler doesn't take that type of finish. .
And he filled up some holes, not thinking about that. .
so. .
They had to do some problem solving. .
which entailed a couple different tricks. .
And ultimately. .
Sanding the old finish off, drilling out some holes, coming up with a new idea for covering the pocket screw holes. .
and RE-finishing the table!
I will try to post a finished project picture soon!
Since the FINAL touches will still not be completed until tonight!!
This kid finally celebrated his 17th birthday!
And we enjoyed the afternoon at the lake to celebrate!
Miss Thing has decided this year that she should be able to have her very own turn on the water. .
And so they have taught her how to use the surf board on her belly. .
Jeremy pulls her quite slowly. .
And she LOVES every minute of it. .
And even started using her arms to pull herself from side to side. .
Very tricky!!
I got tickled as her dad put her in control of the wheel and went back to see how Grant made the surf board work. .
That was a new toy as of last year on vacation. .
And it pulls V-E-R-Y slowly. .
to get a larger water wake to surf in!
But she thought she was a GREAT driver!!
A little bike riding on the new slab of concrete poured last week to expand Jeremy's work area in his shop. .
Grant had finished up a lamp for his mom. .
Which I will post this week. .
And then worked on one for his room. .
both for his electricity project.
And Jeremy has drug another project into his house too!!
And has been welding on a truck that he making. .
He bought the old cab at an auction!!
This past weekend, he was welding in a dash board. .
And Tristan helped him with it for several hours too!
The boys have learned lots about lots, hanging out in that shop!!
We were blessed with a little bit of rain on Sunday afternoon. .
And the three youngest kids enjoyed riding their bikes in the rain. .
I waited and waited to get Cami in the photo. .
But she was doing her own thing. .
Singing and pedaling. .
And went all the way around our little track!
The photographer got tired of waiting!
The moisture was good for our souls. .
It's nice to just take a big deep breath of that clean air. .
And it makes me wonder why I don't just stop. .
And take a nice deep breath. .
more often!!
Tomorrow is the 4-H judging of most of our projects. .
That means. .
After work tonight. .
My kitchen will be a fog of flying flour. .
And a tornado of ticked-off testosterone. .
And one little girl who can't get enough attention!!
But hopefully it will score us some award winning delicacies!
Wish us luck!!
Thanks for stoppin' by!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Is it July ALREADY?

 Hard to imagine that the summer is just flying by!!
The last two weeks have been busy. .
And the next month will disappear before we know it too!
Thought I would show a few photos from what we have been up to!!
 Tragically, 2 weeks ago. .
My friend and fellow youth group leader took her unborn baby of 31 weeks. .
And made a personal and permanent trip to heaven. .
To live with her Savior and God!!
She left behind her husband (also a fellow youth group leader) and her other two small children.
While her life is now GLORIOUS. .
Ours is a little empty. .
God is Sovereign. .
And He is holding up those that are looking to Him. .
And we are hopeful. .
For a future in His Kingdom. .
And that is really all that matters!
In the middle of those difficult weeks. .
We were able to enjoy a short trip to see our own family. .
And enjoyed several hours at the park playing. .
Where the slides. .
And catching fireflies were big events!!
We've also spent time getting ready for our county fair. .
which is here next week!
Baking. .electrical projects. .woodworking. .
and these. .
Unfortunately. .
We didn't realize until the fair books came. .
that one pen of poultry for judging had to include THREE chickens. .
We've had trouble with our chickens since we went to Vegas in March. .
We decided that initially a hawk was picking one off every day. .
And then it was raccoon issues!
We have been keeping them in the cages even during the day again until the past few days.
But still. .
we only have two Rhode Island Reds, one hen that we don't even know the variety of. .
we just call her "road runner chicken" because she is so stinkin fast!!
And our two new Silver barred rocks in the photo above. .
One of which just layed her first little egg last week!
A little over a week ago. .
We got a chirping box from the US postal service. .
Full of tiny chicks!! Devin and I shopped online and bought some black Australorps, Austra Whites, and Gold laced Wyandotte chicks. .These will take up residence with the other 5 girls in the coop.

Last weekend I had FIVE days off from paid working. .
And we enjoyed a few spectacular firework shows. .
Celebrated an early 17th birthday for THIS one. .
And did lots of cleaning and yard work!
Tristan and I landscaped the new flower bed on the north side of the house around the addition. .
And he even added a little "garden whimsy" in the way of this stone sun!
Or sunbathing turtle. .
whichever whimsy you choose to imagine!!
The weather has been HOT and dry again!!  
We had GREAT 80 degree temperatures for about a week. .
and this week we are back to 100 plus.
 Last night I walked into the house about 8:00, thinking it was feeling much cooler.
.and it was still 98 degrees. .
So the flowers are starting to look hot and bothered!!
And frankly, so is the gardener!!
I did a ton of mulching last weekend with some wood chips given to us. .
Since they were from the country, the likelihood that they had herbicides was really low. .
and it made my memory garden look nice and fresh. .
and will help enhance and cool the soil!!
Though I was anything but enhanced OR cooled by the time I was done throwing it down!!
Such is the life though!!
Anyhoo. .
That's it for us. .Thanks for stopping by!
Have a super week!!