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Summer is definitely coming to a close.  The air is turning crisp, the leaves are beginning to change and we’ve even gotten a rain or two.  Soon there’ll be a calmer pace to our days, but for now the frenzy of summer continues with food preservation and preparing the homestead for the colder days.

I haven’t posted much so I thought I’d give a little recap of what’s been going on in the homestead this summer.

I didn’t think it would be possible, but Hezzy got even cuter.  He learned to sit up, stand, army crawl, loves to practice walking, jump, and can say mama and dada.

We went to the Scandinavian festival in Eugene and to Florence (the coast) in the same day.  It was Hezzy’s second trip to the coast since he was born.  Thankfully, he didn’t get a cold afterwards this time.

We went to the Zimbabwe Festival in town and got to see a lot of hippies in African clothes attempting to dance.  You must go see hippies dancing to African music if you get the chance. Read the rest of this entry »

Arroz Tapado

Fall veggies are delicious!  I’m anticipating the upcoming recipe exchange at my house by going through my recipes and marking the Fall dishes I love best.  Among the runners up are:

  • Rustic Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Latkes!
  • Baked Acorn Squash
  • Winter Vegetable Hash
  • Pumpkin Frittata
  • Lighting Fast Eggplant Parmesan
  • Hedgehog Leek and Cheese Quiche
  • Wild Mushroom Risotto
  • Peruvian Lentils and Rice
  • Chili-Cornbread Casserole
  • Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant
  • Mushroom Barley Soup
  • Quinoa Corn Chowder
  • Matza Ball Soup
  • Black Bean Veggie Chili
  • Vegan Pumpkin Stew (cooked in a pumpkin)
  • Aji de Gallina (chili chicken)
  • Locro (squash and corn dish).

Oh man, this is gonna be tough.

On another note, I bought a cookbook today that I thought would be JUST AWESOME called The Farm to Table Cookbook, but looking at the Fall section, there were only like 3 recipes that I thought I would realistically try.  All the recipes are so fancy lookin’ and soundin’ that I just couldn’t really see myself making them.  For example: Mostarda D’Uva with Artisan Cheese or Roasted Duck Breast With Bourbon-Braised Italian Prunes.  Yeah, right.  Like I’m making that for dinner any time soon!  On the other hand, they had a decent looking winter squash soup and some wild mushroom recipes that I’m definitely eyeing.  I hope the other seasons have better recipes.

In an attempt to get back on the menu-planning bandwagon, here’s mine for the week:

Sunday – leftovers
Monday – leftovers (we had a lot)

Tuesday –
B: eggs & toast
L: peruvian tuna salad (ensalada de atún)
D: salad, peruvian lentils & rice

Wednesday –
B: farina & toast
L: turkey and greens sandwich
D: pumpkin frittata, salad, crusty bread

Thursday –
B: eggs & toast
L: leftovers
D: chicken pesto pasta & salad

Friday –
B: cereal
L: leftovers
D: challah, oven roasted chicken & veggies, rustic hasselback potatoes, seasoned mustard greens, black bean and corn salad, baked fudge & vanilla ice cream

Sabbath –
B: breakfast burritos (defrost fri morn), pumpkin scones (make ahead)
L: chickpea salad (make ahead) over salad greens
D: leftovers, sopa a la minuta (reheated), leftover challah

As always, this list is subject to change depending on what goes on this week.  I hope it’s accurate though, because I don’t have much else on-hand.

It’s the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and we are having a great time eating matzot.  We love the stuff.  This year I got some new cookbooks, and one that features matzah bread, perfect for Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread cooking.  One of our favorite recipes so far, however, has been one for Matzah Bark, that I found online.  I’ll share this one, just because it’s really very good and you just gotta try it.  Really.

Chocolate Matzah Bark
From the kitchen of: Rhona Backler

½ lb butter
½ cup sugar
2 cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
matzah ( ½  lb – ¾ lb)
slivered almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a saucepan, melt butter and sugar together, bring to a boil.
Line an edged cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place matzah sheets on pan in a single layer.

1. Drizzle butter and sugar mixture over matzah.*
2. Bake 10 minutes
3. Turn oven off
4. sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crackers
5. return to oven to melt – 2 minutes
6. remove from oven and spread chocolate (I use the back of a spoon)
7. sprinkle with almonds.**
8. Cool – place in freezer
9. Break into bite-sized pieces and store in an airtight container.

Notes:
*I brushed it on in a thick layer instead of drizzling it.
** I used chopped walnuts and chopped slivered almonds to coat the matzot.  Both are great.  Try also just letting the butter/sugar mixture dry or topping only that with the nuts.  Yumm!

I have to be realistic with myself.  This year my house will not be spic and span clean.  I wish I could say it would be, but if I’m honest with myself, it’ll be hard enough just to be rid of chametz (grains, leavening and anything already leavened) in the house.

whole wheat breads with different grains/seeds on top

So, first things first, right?  I have to use up my flours (lots of it, for some reason!), baking soda, baking powder, yeast and anything in the pantry that might be leavened.  That’s a lot of work right there!  Do you know how often I check my pantry?  Not as often as I ought to, I suppose.  Sometimes I find things I bought last year, or canned a really long time ago.  Like apple butter.  There’s still a few jars of that around.  I’m not even sure those are safe anymore.  Thankfully, there’s also things that come in handy, like passover things I didn’t use last year.  Noodles and some matzah meal and stuff like that.  So I’ll have to go in-depth in my pantry and clean it out.  I can take that time to wipe down the shelves, too.

If I can do all that and keep up with the regular house cleaning and chores before passover, I’ll give myself a passing grade.  Things I hope I will accomplish before passover: cleaning the windows from the outside, cleaning the light fixtures and ceiling fans and the top of the door frames in the house.  I know this doesn’t seem like a very extensive list, but I just don’t know how I could add cleaning closets and shoe soles and every drawer to my already seemingly overwhelming list of to-dos.  I just don’t think I can handle it all.  I wonder how orthodox wives and new mommies and mommies with lots of kiddos do it.  With help, surely.

So now, I’m off to do some serious baking.

whole wheat pitas

Anyone need some bread?

Hanukkah Sameach!  Happy Hanukkah!  Erev Shabbat candles.

Friday night was the first night of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Dedication or the Festival of Lights.  Did you know Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah?  He not only celebrated it, he made a special trip to Jerusalem for the festival, according to John 10:22-23.  So what is this festival all about?  It’s about the preservation of a remnant of faithful Jews, at a time when many were assimilating with the Greeks.

There was a ruler at the time, Antiochus IV who called himself Epiphanes “God Manifest”,  whose goal was to Hellenize all the Jews.  He didn’t like it that they worshiped only their own G-d and that they had a special diet.  His plan to Hellenize them included building a gymnasium by the Temple, then desecrating the Temple and erecting a pagan god in there.  They were also forced to sacrifice pigs daily on the altar.  Antiochus’ army went from town to town forcing the Jews to renounce their G-d and to eat non-kosher meat and bow down to the Greek pantheon.  Many were willing to do it for the sake of not losing their lives, and “keeping the peace”, however there was a small band of faithful Jews who would not , regardless the cost.  There are stories of some famous martyrs, including a woman who watched her seven sons die and was killed herself for not renouncing their faith.  These mere 4,000 Jews fought Antiochus’ huge army of over 40,000 for three years, and in the end they won back Jerusalem, including the Temple.  It was a miracle by the hand of G-d.  They may have been few, but G-d always manifests his power through the faithful few.  Remember the story of Gideon?

So anyway, the faithful Jews entered the Temple, cleaned it out and wanted to rededicate it to G-d.  They only found one bottle of holy oil that was untampered with for the Menorah, which would only last one day, but they went ahead and used it anyway, even though they needed it lit for eight full days.  They story goes that the oil lasted the full eight days, yet another miracle by G-d.  This is why it is also called the Festival of Lights.  So the festival is observed for eight days every year beginning on Kislev 25.

As we celebrate this holiday, we are remembering and recalling G-d’s faithful hand in preserving His people, we are remembering the importance in not allowing the little things of the world to turn us away from G-d’s ways, we are remembering the martyrs of our faith, and we are remembering our role in society today.  Afterall, Yeshua said we are to be the light of the world and that our light should not be hidden.

Latkes!

As is usually the case with Jewish festivals, there are many fun ways to celebrate this holiday.  There is food, of course, which is usually fried food to remind us of the miracle of the oil.  Traditional are latkes, or potato pancakes, and sufganyot, or jelly-filled doughnuts.  Chocolate gelt, or coins, is also traditional.

Second night of Hanukkah

There is the 9-branched menorah called the Hanukkiah, with a branch for each of the eight nights, plus the middle branch, which is for the shamash, or servant candle.  It is interesting to note that the hanukkiah would not be lit if it weren’t for the servant candle, for it is this candle that gives its light to the rest of the candles on the hanukkiah.  Just so, it is through Yeshua’s light that we can be the light of the world, and it is through the servant that we can have light.

There is also a game the children enjoy playing which retells the story of Hanukkah.  It’s called dreidel, and it’s a four-sided top with a letter on each side for each word of the hebrew phrase “A Great Miracle Happened There.”

Since it’s only me who keeps the holidays here, I made us a fine dinner of roasted chicken and roasted veggies, latkes and beet salad.  Then I had vanilla ice cream topped with vegan peanut butter cookie crumbles.  Delicious!  The hubby always enjoys the latkes and has been asking for latkes since I made them last year during Hanukkah.  Maybe next year we will celebrate the festival together as a family, or with other families.

Top left: 31 wks, bottom left: 33 wks, top right: 35 wks, bottom right: 36 wks

It’s 6:15 in the a.m. and I’ve been up since 4:30, after only 3 hrs sleep.  This sleep deprivation thing must be nature’s way to prepare you for after the birth.  On the upside, this lack of sleep comes from heartburn, which may mean that my baby’s finally growing hair.  Or so they say.  Since I haven’t had much heartburn throughout my pregnancy, I welcome this (sort-of).  I always thought my baby would be born with a headful of hair, so I was a little surprised when I didn’t complain of heartburn throughout my previous months of pregnancy.  I don’t usually believe in old-wives’ tales but this one is one that has stuck with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against having a bald baby, I just never really thought I, miss hairy peruvian girl, would have anything but a monkey-hairy baby.  And I’m totally fine with that. Now that the heartburn is here, I feel like I was probably right and there’s a certain comfort to it.

UPDATE: I tried once again to fall asleep around 7 a.m. and it finally worked, even though light was beginning to appear outside.  I got another three-hour stretch of sleep and I’m feeling pretty good right now.

The midwives made a house call on Monday, which is good since it’s nice to know where your client lives before they go into labor.  We talked about many things, one of which was my belly.  I have not grown much since last week (which is a relief to the midwives who would have ordered an ultrasound otherwise) and there is less fluid in there now, which makes the baby easier to feel.  This time they could clearly feel limbs and butt and back and head.  The baby is still in the pelvis head-down but it isn’t too far down, it seems.  I may yet have a couple of weeks!

I know I keep saying I don’t think the baby will last long in its watery world, but I’m still really hoping it will hold out until January 1st.  I really think that would be the coolest birthday ever and don’t mind one bit if I don’t get the tax write-off everyone is so excited for us to get this year.  I can totally wait another year if it means my baby will be a 01-01-10 baby.  No one would ever forget that birthday!

There isn’t much left for us to do before the baby comes.  At least, nothing of super importance.  The birth equipment is prepared, we know our birth space (or where we would like it to be), all our diapers and clothes are washed and ready, and recently received our car seat, strollers and cradle.  The cradle is super sweet and sitting next to our window in our bedroom for now, until we decide we need it.  I had to leave the swinging mechanism activated instead of holding the cradle in place because the I knew the cat was secretly hoping to make it her new sleeping quarters.  She got in once and it swung her about and she rushed right out of there, hopefully never to jump in again.

I have a third baby shower this month on the 13th thanks to my Soroptimist club.  I feel very blessed to have so many people in my life who wish to celebrate my baby with me.  There isn’t much left I need for the baby at this point, but I went ahead and updated my registries at target.com and weebunz.com.  The little things I can think of that I could use still are a bathtub, nail clippers, bulb suctioner thingy, and a changing pad for the dresser.  There are a few other little things, but they aren’t all that super necessary.  Oh, and baby socks.  I need baby socks.  My baby will be born during the coldest months of the year and I have only a couple pairs.  Poor baby.

Some of the things I’m still working on are a baby afghan I’m crocheting (as if I really needed another!), a few baby carriers such as a pouch sling, a ring sling, a moby or a mei tai, some nursing covers and I’m sure I had something else I wanted to do but it’s not coming to mind.  Pregnancy brain, I’m told.

If there are any men reading this, you’ll just want to skip this paragraph.  Seriously.  Are you gone?  Ok.  I’m pretty sure I’ve started leaking colostrum.  Last night I thought I had spilled water on my shirt when I got up in the middle of the night, but it was suspiciously in a very specific area.  It eventually dried and then a few minutes later I felt moisture again.  This morning there is proof on my shirt.  Is that even possible?  Doesn’t it seem too early to be leaking?  I hear that’s pretty important stuff so I hope not to lose any more until the baby comes.  :/

The baby is active as ever and my belly is getting more and more sensitive to its movements.  It’s a strong baby for sure.  Since it’s so active right now and since it will eventually become more space restricted as time goes by, I’ll try to put up a video of its movements while they are still big and dramatic.  Hopefully in the days to come.

Now is the time I want to prepare for the birth by making meals ahead of time and doing anything else that would make a baby’s entrance smoother for our family.  There is a post by Tammy from tammysrecipes.com that shares what she did to prepare for her second baby.  It has a lot of good information on it so I will be doing some of that in the weeks to come.  Cooking is getting harder, but I suppose it will be a lot harder with a new baby if I don’t get things rolling now.  :)

I’m so excited.

One of my favorite new things to cook during cold weather is Winter Vegetable Hash.  It’s a delicious combination of potatoes, squash, kale and other yummies all brought together in a delectable feast for your palate.  Whenever I make this dish for others I always hear compliments and “how did you make it?”  Well, I can’t take credit for the recipe, but I’ll sure take credit for making a meal people enjoy.

Here’s the recipe:

Read the rest of this entry »

One of my favorite Fall/Winter meals is Lentils and Rice.  From the time I was a young girl I remember my mom making this dish on those cold and wintery Southern California evenings, you know, like when it was 65 degrees out.  :)  It was comforting, though, having this delicious meal and now I get to make it for my husband and I on those rainy Oregon evenings (which is most of 9 months out of the year).  Thankfully the hubby likes it as much as I do.

Here’s how I make it: Read the rest of this entry »

When I left home this morning, I left the chickens with a perilously low amount of water.  They only had half their container full.  I knew they wouldn’t last very long like that so I quickly drove home during my lunch hour today to refill their water.  Sure enough, when I got there it was not only soiled, but down to nothing. 

After I refilled their water, I set about making my lunch.  A very quickly made lunch, my version of an Egg and Salad sandwich is tasty, easy and filling.  It’s probably nutritious, too.

Egg (&) Salad Sandwich

Egg (&) Salad Sandwich

Now THAT’S my kinda sandwich!  In no more than 7 or 8 minutes, this sandwich was on my plate, hot and ready to eat.  Yum! 

How much do you think I saved eating at home vs. eating out today?  :)  The only thing missing on this sandwich was some cheese.  Yep, right between the salad and the egg.   Ah well.  Now I know what to get at the store after work tonight.

How I wish I could eat at home more often!

In other news…  I also noticed on my drive home that my chucks were choking my swollen feet and had given me cankles.  Yes, I am now that kind of pregnant lady.  The cankle-laden preggo.  I am very sorry to say.

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