Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Marine Science Center- Camping, continued

Saturday afternoon after lunch we headed to the Marine Science Center with the kids in tow. They have a great hands-on area for the kids to touch starfish, sea urchins, anemones and other types of tide-pool sea creatures. There are a lot of different exhibits as well as huge tanks of fish- the kids loved it and Mindi and I enjoyed ourselves too.

Eileigh enjoyed poking the anemone... until the volunteer told us not to.

My sister Mindi and nephew Boone

Checking out the fish

Eileigh trying to climb the wall- she even gave a little "Uhh" for effort. :)

Both kids loved the sea otter pelt

2nd Annual Camping Trip

I could hardly believe it was time for our annual camping trip to the coast! Last year we were able to split time between a yurt and our 5th wheel but this year the yurts were already reserved and unavailable so we decided to just stay one night from Sat. to Sun. However, on Friday I was able to get off of work early and we decided to be spur-o'-the-moment people (this is not my general nature but I do try) and quickly booked a room at a hotel close to the campground (it was raining and they have a pool). I threw everything I could possibly think of into a few bags and we were off! We started to doubt ourselves as night came quicker than we anticipated and we were still on the road- I was hungry for dinner, and Eileigh was cranky and continuously asking, "Down?" "Up-pea!" (Up, please) and "Out!" My aspirations of a nice seafood dinner took a dive as we looked at the clock and instead we pulled into Burger King for a quick meal of cheap grease. Eileigh of course was thrilled and kept requesting, "Fry? Fry? TWO!" She has gotten the "two" concept down pat. We finally arrived at the campsite and spent some time sitting around the fire and visiting with family and friends. Eileigh had her own little Cabela's camping chair to sit in although she preferred to move from lap to lap- or in the absence of a lap simply steal that person's chair. It got late so we headed out and found the hotel warm and inviting and all quickly fell asleep. I was hoping Eileigh would sleep in since we got to bed so late but no such luck- you'd think I'd know better by now! :) Mike took Eileigh with him for a coffee run and I was able to doze off a little and woke up feeling refreshed upon their happy return. We decided to go for a quick dip in the pool before checkout and spent a happy half-hour or so splashing around (technically, Mike and Eileigh splashed while I put my feet in the too-cold-for-me water). Happy time, that is, until a maintenance worker came in and told us he'd just put chemicals in the pool and it was supposed to be closed (the sign said SPA closed before we entered but he flipped it before we left to say POOL closed, grr). I pretty much flipped out and we hurried upstairs to take long showers to rinse who knows what kind of chemicals off. I had suspiciously tingly hands for an hour afterwards but Mike assured me I was crazy and it was all in my head. :)
Other than a leisurely girls-only-plus-Boone (my nephew) lunch outing, we stayed in camp for the rest of the day while the guys went fishing and crabbing in the ocean. Dinner was delicious and featured grilled salmon caught the day before and tons of crab caught that afternoon. I happily consumed Selah's and my share (I am 23 1/2 weeks pregnant with our baby girl, Selah). Night fell quickly and brought a chill. Eileigh woke up cold and crying at an unknown but altogether ungodly hour and so I packed her into bed with my mom and I and spent the rest of the night alternately enjoying snuggling her and trying to find a comfortable position for myself. Which was pretty much impossible to do but a line from a song kept streaming through my head "It won't be like this, for long"- made all the more poignant since it is about his little girl growing up. So I decided to just enjoy the sleepless night since it might be the only time I will ever really get to snuggle and sleep like that with Eileigh... maybe next year we'll have Selah in there with us!! :) We packed up the next morning and headed home, another camping trip down and ready to plan for the next one!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Project accomplished: making a German Chocolate cake from scratch for my dad's birthday (not on the actual day, but certainly in celebration of it!!). I had asked him what cake he would want if he could choose anything and German Chocolate it was- so I scoured around for a good-looking recipe and finally found one that appeared to fit the ticket. It actually wasn't too complicated and just included a few extra steps that I normally wouldn't have done (such as beating EACH egg yolk in separately, folding in the eggwhites a little at a time, etc.) But as it was quality I was after, I pretty much followed the recipe to a "T"- even the frosting, which took an extremely long time to thicken but I disciplined myself and didn't turn up the heat to speed up the process- instead I just grabbed a book and read while I stirred. I've been discovering that a lack of patience is what causes my cake to crumble, literally and figuratively speaking. (See Exhibit A: Carmelized Banana and White Chocolate Torte).
We enjoyed a Fall-flavored dinner again, this time of a sweet cranberry/BBQ pork roast and sweet potatoes slow-cooked with coconut, brown sugar and pecans. I will definitely plan to post the recipes- they were easy and delicious (and will probably be utilized for a few families I'll be bringing meals to in the next few weeks!) The German Chocolate cake finished the meal- Eileigh enjoyed it as much as the rest of us... in fact, we (I) got a little carried away and Eileigh had a bit more sugar intake than usual, as evidenced by her running around like crazy after dinner and then spending bedtime singing and hollering in the crib instead of sleeping. Will definitely plan to avoid cake intake for future bedtimes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today I finished up the last of my pears- well, technically I've been finished with canning pears for a few days but since I had messed up on four jars I had to fix it! (I was so excited to be done I forgot to cover the last batch of jars with water for their water bath, making them underprocessed). I decided to make pear butter out of those jars that were underprocessed and ended up with six jelly jars full! Since I was all out of our bread as well, I made another batch of bread so we were able to enjoy fresh baked bread with homemade pear butter!! Eileigh has been a huge fan of peanut butter and bread lately (she calls it "pea" most of the time, knows the cupboard it's in, and requests it for EVERY meal... and snack) so we've been going through bread like crazy and I'm looking forward to her being able to enjoy something with the peanut butter! Since jams and jellies all have pectin (and therefore citric acid), Eileigh hasn't been able to enjoy much else with the peanut butter. Not that she seems to mind.
While I was finishing up my projects Mike tapped on the window from outside- he'd been mowing the lawn with Eileigh in the backpack and apparently the combination of sunshine, full belly and sleepiness was too much and this is what I found:

My Just Desserts...

My mom's birthday (Sept. 1st) was a great excuse to try out a recipe I've been holding on to for literally a few years. I kept it because it seemed to be such a cool recipe at the time and then as luck would have it (or not, if you ask my mom), she ended up being gluten-intolerant and it made a perfect opportunity to try out this cake! It is flourless, which is why it is perfect for my mom. Called La Bete Noir, it means The Black Beast- and definitely stands up to its reputation!! It wasn't difficult to make, even though it required my first "water bath" to bake it, and came out an incredibly rich, dark chocolatey slice of goodness along the lines of a dense cheesecake. Definitely hanging on to that recipe.
My second foray into Fancy Desserts unfortunately did not turn out quite so aesthetic. It was delicious to be sure (I liked it even more than the Black Beast) but I was quite disappointed when I removed part of the springform pan and my white chocolate mousse fell once the carmelized bananas were hoisted on top. Turns out I did not need to fear having over-beaten the egg whites or whipping cream. At least it tasted yummy!! :) My sister got a picture of it with her iphone camera before it crashed- Mike had our camera with him hunting!

The plan next is to make a German Chocolate Cake from scratch for my dad's birthday (which was today, the 17th!). I'll be looking for a great recipe so if you have one, please pass it on!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Flavors

Today I started pulling out all of my Fall-related recipes: pumpkin loaves and muffins, pumpkin pies and cakes, pumpkin chili, cranberry this, squash that. I love Fall!! For tonight's dinner I remained in the Fall mentality and cooked up a couple of our favorites- Bulgur-Stuffed Squash, Cornbread Muffins and Peach Kuchen. This is definitely one of my favorite ways to enjoy squash- a little sweet and a little spicy, with all of the flavors blending nicely. Great autumn comfort food!

Bulgur-Stuffed Squash

2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3/4 c. bulgur wheat (quick cooking)
2-3 Italian sausages, casings removed (I've used hot and sweet and both are great depending on what you're in the mood for)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced
1 small sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tblsp. sweet chili sauce
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
2 Tblsp. maple syrup

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash halves, cut side down, in 9x13-inch baking pan (may need to use two pans to hold all squash). Add 2 cups water. Bake 400 degrees for 35 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, put bulgur in a bowl. Pour 3/4 c. boiling water over bulgur; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand 30 minutes.
3) Once bulgur is softened, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, cook 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper; cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in bulgur, chili sauce and 1/8 tsp. of the salt.
4) Remove squash from the oven; pour off water. Flip over squash, brush with maple syrup. Season squash with remaining 1/8 tsp. salt. Spoon bulgur and sausage filling into squash; return to oven. Bake 10 minutes. Serves 4