Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Lesson in Tooth

I felt like our last trip to the dentist really knocked me down in the 'mother of the year' rankings.  Treasure's check up was great.  No cavities.  But Joy and Asked... UGH!  Both would require 8 fillings and Asked was going to need 3 teeth pulled AND a root canal.  I left the office in tears.  How could this have happened?  I made sure they brushed their teeth daily and I bought them flossers so they could floss their own teeth.  When I really thought about it, I wasn't sure the last time I actually WATCHED them brush or floss their teeth.  Upon further inspection I found that Joy wasn't properly flossing and Asked only cared for his front teeth.  DOH!  Well,  nothing  can undo what was already done, but we have taken steps to greatly improve dental hygiene in Jim and Brenda's house.  And I've spread the word so that what happened to us doesn't happen to others.  Learn from us, people!

Today was our first of several visits to the dentist for tooth repair.  Treasure had some sealant put on her adult teeth.  She went first.  Easy peasy.  Although during her procedure there was a boy beside her who was getting a tooth pulled.  The other kids seemed oblivious but it totally freaked me out.  I texted Jim in a panic.  He said "Tell them they're all together and it's going to be ok."  I didn't say anything to the kids because they didn't notice what was happening, but, really, I didn't have to say anything.  They were all very encouraging and supportive of each other. 

Joy and Asked got to go together and both got laughing gas  Joy was super emotional and whimpered quite a bit until the end when she started humming the Pink song "So What"  and finally seemed relaxed.  But she listened well and when the dentist said to stop doing whatever she was doing, she immediately stopped.  I stayed with her most of the time because Asked really seemed to respond, shall we say, positively to the laughing gas.  He talked even more non stop than usual.  His best comment was "I was born with ninja skills."  He was cracking the hygntist up.  And THANK GOD for Treasure who stayed with him without flinching or complaing.  I'm so blessed!
Joy getting the 'laughing air' as they called it at the dentist.  I took the camera and a few times she asked me to take a picture of what was going on so I could show her.  She likes to know what's happening.  I think next time will be less stressful for her because she knows what to expect.

They give the kids sunglasses to wear so the big light isn't so bright.  The kids all love that.

Joy has one more appointment and Asked will have two to finish all the work that needs to be done.  Today, their good behavior and bravery was rewarded with milkshakes and new games to play on their DS's.  And Asked was told that the Tooth fairy is extra kind to kids who loose their teeth at the dentist.  He lost 2 and so I think he will find the regular $1 a tooth and perhaps a little something extra under his pillow in the morning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gutsy Cooks week three

Well, our fourth week of Gutsy Cooks really worked well for us, as we are studying Mexico in our geography class.  Week four was Empanadas and White Bean Soup.  I served the Empanadas on taco night and tada!  it's Social Studies!  I love homeschooling ;-)

I didn't make the soup.  I would have eaten it.  But I don't think I could have convinced anyone else to partake... so, no white beans for us.

I was very sad, because for some unknown reason (butter nappers perhaps?)  I was out of butter.  So I had to substitute shortening for the butter in the pastry.  I also chopped some fresh tomatoes instead of using canned.  Other than that I stuck to the recipe.

They had a filling of sauteed onion, tomatoes and tuna.  I was surprised at the tuna.  If I make them again, I think I would use chicken. But I thought it was very pretty.  This picture makes it look like there was cheese, there was no cheese.
Here they are all bright and cheery ready to be tucked into their little pastry homes.
Washed with egg and ready for baking.
Done and ready for the taste test.  The family was hungry, so I quickly snapped the picture and took them in which is why the front of my van is in the shot.  Or maybe the van smelled them and is lurking to see if she can snag one.
I am not too good with pastry.  I just can't seem to get it thin enough.  So they were a little bready.  I really wanted a dipping sauce.  We tried sour cream.  But it wasn't the magic element I was looking for.  I really could have used some guacamole.  But, alas, there was none.  Everyone ate them.  We didn't agree on a rating system, but everyone agreed that they were edible but didn't really want to see them for dinner again.  But it was suggested that if they were filled with pizza, apples or caramelized bananas, they would gladly give them another try.

On a random note, we had some wicked storms roll through today.  Here's a picture my husband took.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gutsy Cooks week 2

Week two's challenge was Ricotta and Arugula Roulade and Quindim.  They both looked so pretty in the book, I was very excited to try them... until I went grocery shopping.  Ugh!  What an ordeal.  I couldn't find Arugula or desiccated coconut (needed for the Quindim)  But I was quickly saved by Monica at Sweet Bites who told me to use spinach and gave me this link telling me all about desiccated coconut and how to make it at home.  Whew!  Dinner is saved!

I have to admit, I'm not a big coconut fan.  And until recently, I would have totally skipped this recipe.  But, about a year ago I discovered coconut shrimp.  Yummy!  I have found, through trial and error, that I like coconut milk and raw coconut but not toasted coconut.  Huh!  Who knew?!  Anyway, two of my three kids DO like coconut, so I thought I'd give the Quindim a try.  Plus, as a kicker, we're studying geography in school this year.  The Illustrated Kitchen Bible says that "This sweet, creamy and very rich dessert is a popular party dish is Brazil."   So we found Brazil on the map and we'll probably make this again when we study Brazil later in the year.  Anyway... Now on with the show!!
We have a food dehydrator, that we just HAPPEN to have out right now.  So instead of baking my coconut, I dehydrated it.  It made my kitchen smell nice.
I wish I knew how to turn a picture, but I don't so you'll have to twist your neck.  Anyway, this is Life checking things out in the food dehydrator.  She's killing me lately with all her climbing.  Sheesh!
I was  surprised and pleased to see how easy both recipes were to make.
The Roulade crust had several steps.  But all fun cooking things with wisking and boiling and beating egg whites.  The batter looked great.

It baked up really well and was really easy to deal with.  It didn't crack or break into a million pieces.  It turned out so pretty!
I mean really!  Don't you want to eat this?  I would be so excited to serve it to you.  IT'S SO PRETTY!

The Roulade had so much potential with its parmisan cheese and rocotta and spinch.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  But... it's a tad on the bland side.  And it's the constancy of wet bread.  Eww.  It got thumbs down from the fam.  I have some left and plan to add some ham to it tomorrow morning for breakfast and maybe give it a little toasting under the broiler.  I WANT this to work.  It was so easy for the aesthetic result.  I just want my palate to like it too.

So on to the coconut.  So, I was supposed to put the custard in ramekins in a water bath in the oven.  But I have no ramekins.  So I substituted a muffin pan.
It worked very well.  The only problem was that I couldn't really invert it to get them out.  So I let them stay in the pan and cool quite a bit and then put the pan in the fridge before I scooped them out with a spoon.  Which may have been good.  I saw that several other Gutsy Cooks had issue with theirs being runny.  Mine set up beautifully, but, because I scooped them out, they weren't all that presentable.  But I got one that wasn't too bad.
Of course I didn't have good light, but you get the idea.
Jim, who is not a coconut fan either, ate it.  He said he would have liked it better if it was lemon.  The coconut liking kids, gave it a thumbs up and the coconut not liking kid gave it a thumbs down.

So, much culinary adventure here at Jim and Brenda's this week.  I told the kids that maybe next week, we'll work on a rating system.  So watch for stars or forks or something next week so you know how we REALLY feel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First Gutsy Cooks meal!

Finally!  Time for the Gutsy Cooks to start showing what they're made of.  Our first recipies were Potato Skins with Cheddar and Bacon and Baked Barbecue Wings with Blue cheese.

I thought that these two dishes would be perfect together as a fun dinner and a great way to kick off this adventure.  While they were cooking the house smelled like we were preparing for an awesome party.  I wished for a moment that we like football because this food would have been perfect for that sort of gathering.  But alas, not really the sports fans over here.   Anyway... I digress

I usually like to follow recipes pretty closely the first time I make them and then I like to tweak them after.  But I made two changes to these recipes I used green onions instead of shallots and I used chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces instead of wings.  The breasts were way cheaper and I'm no dummy.

I normally take lots of pictures but for some reason I didn't take any of the prep but I did remember to photograph them as they made their way into the oven
While the potatos and chicken cooked I whipped up the Blue Cheese dip

Then finally!  They were done.
The flavor of the chicken was great.  It was a big hit.  Even Asked, who only likes things that taste like pizza right now, gave them a thumbs up and willingly ate the required one.  I did think it was funny that after all my talk of the great pictures in the book, the chicken did not look like the picture.  Next time I make it, I will double it for the 2 pounds of chicken and see how that works.  The blue cheese dip ROCKED.  Life was eating it with a spoon.  Even Asked liked it and ate a great deal with some baby carrots.

Instead of topping the potatoes with parsley I uses some chives.  They were super yum.  Jim, who is not a big potato fan said they just tasted like potatoes but then he ate 2.  Thumbs up from Treasure.  I'll make them again.

So I say the first challenge of Gutsy Cooks was a success in our house.  The kids also enjoyed the fact that there was a little presentation so I could take pictues.  They deemed it a 'fancy meal'

Let the Gutsy Cooks begin!

I love food.  It's no secret.  I like to think about it, plot things to do with it, make a list to buy it, purchase it, smell it, cook it, then eat it.  See.  I like it.  So when my friend Steph at said she was participating in a cooking club that would work their way though a cook book.  I was totally hooked! So she hooked up up with Monica from and I was in.  SA-WEET!  We will work our way though The Illustrated Kitchen Bible

As soon as I saw this book I was in LOVE (Don't tell my husband)  It's got great pictures and recipes.  The pictures actually look like food you would eat.  I mean, I'm all for presentation, but sometimes it's just over the top and it doesn't look like food.  But I thought this book was well done.  Even my kids stole it for awhile just to ooooh and ahhh over the pictures.
As I was preparing to make our first meal, Joy asked me "Why is it called bible?"  Before I could even answer, she was coming up with her own reasons "Is it because the food is so good it's holy?  Because the bible is a good book and this is a good book?"   I guess we'll just have to wait and see!!  Join us on our adventure!  You can follow all the Gutsy Cooks here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The mystery produce

A man at work gave this to me.  I had no idea what it was.

When I got home I posted its picture on Facebook and quickly received a response.  It's a cushaw, a Green-striped cushaw to be exact.  According to this website it has a hardy vine that is resistant to the squash vine borer and is tolerant of the heat. It's a winter squash so you can do all the winter squash things to it... like make pie.   Apparently, it's an heirloom vegetable and more common in Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi.  Although, I've heard from some PA friends that they've seen them at county fairs.  I guess I never paid enough attention in the produce barn.

Well, what a fun culinary adventure!  I did a little more research and decided I would make a pie and see what happened.  I've made pumpkin pie from a pumpkin before, surely I can make cushaw pie from a cushaw.... right?
Asked with the cushaw
I cut it open.  Very squash like.  Makes sense.
I scooped out its guts then placed it upside down on a cookie sheet covered with foil.  Then baked it at 350 for about an hour.
I think it has the prettiest seeds!  I also think I took an awesome picture of them  Who takes good seed pictures?  Oh, that's right, I do!  Woot woot!  

When it was done baking, I let it cool and then scooped out all it's tastiness and processed it in my food processor.  I ended up with 11 cups of cushaw.  Wowzers!
I made 2 pies and froze the rest.
Hello beautiful!
I think the flavor is more mild than pumpkin.  It made a tasty pie, but I think I would use more of the cushaw next time.  I used 3 cups in this pie.  Jim said that anything mixed with eggs, sugar and milk is tasty.   True enough.