Thursday, January 26, 2012

pretty happy funny real in Minnesota

round button chicken

A day at the Mississipi. We had the place to ourselves. It was beautiful.

Love this girl. Holding baby Willem.

I'm not sure why, but watching my own papa bear assemble this hanging shelf thing with my two little bears was a hoot. I laughed the whole time. It was flimsy, and mysterious, and none of them knew what it was supposed to look like, and it took them a long time. I think in the end there may have been found irreconcilable defects with this product anyway? Cool to see them working together.

Willem is back to his regular happy self. Man, is he a great baby.

I think I look like this a lot. I may not know what I'm saying, but I'm saying it emphatically.
A real note in a bottle. A boy I know suprised me when we showed up at the river, by taking it out of his backpack and flinging it into the river. Hopefully worthy hands will find it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I am not my kids' buddy

I am in awe of God for giving me this family.
They are so beautiful, my heart is all welled up. These gifts are so good. I cherish them every day we have together.

Big question-- as a mother what's my job? They may find me a trustworthy teacher, confidant, advisor, comforter, encourager, home base, love-giver, patcher of pants, admirer of artwork, storyteller, listener. There is some overlap between a mother and a friend. Friends do some of the things mothers do. Some of this is a future question. Lucky the mother whose grown children consider her their friend. A mother can be a best friend to a pre-schooler, but not in the way that another little kid can. A baby almost looks to his mother as a part of himself. But as a kid grows, do they keep wanting Mom to be their friend? More importantly, do they need Mom to be something their friends are not?
It's dawning on me that I don't make the best buddy. Not to my kids. They have lots of other friends and family who can be buddies. Maybe that's not one of my jobs. Buddies don't tell you what to do, and hey--that is definitely part of my Mama-job. A buddy might think you're the juice no matter what you do, but it's Mama's job to help teach right and wrong, to plot the right course, to offer a timely rebuke. Mama's got to take care of you and teach you to take care of yourself.

I want my kids to love me. I love when they tell me their secrets. (Not that I have any secrets. My lips are sealed. Don't try to wrest anything from me!) I hope that we will grow more and more into real, deep friends someday. But right now, these little pups are just learning how to be. How to read, how to work, how to love. When I let myself try and be best buds, there's too much of my own hope that they will love me forever, running me. It keeps me from making decisions that are the best for them. It keeps me from being the mother I hope to be.
We enjoy each other lots, daily. It's not the enjoying I'm talking about here, or the giving and receiving of love, but when I need them to be pleased with me at every turn.

I think I need to temporarily not care too much what they think of me.
It might actually set them free. Because I'm their Mama. That's not ever going to change. Whether we're buddies today or not.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finger-lickin' Everyday turkey pot pie

(Recipe for tonight's supper of Pot pie below.)

So, I've been thriftily getting an average of 3-5 meals each out of three pound chickens for our little family. I don't buy meat every week, and we try buy ethically and stretch it a good long way when we do. But the boys are getting bigger and eating more! On a whim, Paul and I decided to try a turkey, still frozen in the store, leftover from thanksgiving. It was almost eighteen pounds. I brined it for a couple days while it thawed, roasted it up just like I do with my usual chicken, except with loads of stuffing, which I think helps keep the bird nice and moist because the cavity isn't all full of hotted air.After the first meal, of stuffing and fresh meat, we had:
meals of:
-mashed potatoes and gravy (make potatoes extra and save for winter cheese and potato pie; my favorite)
-turkey pasta salad with almonds and dried cherries in a creamy poppyseed dressing. (Gib's other favorite)
-Turkey teriyaki over rice with steamed broccoli
-lots of cold turkey for lunches
-turkey soup with big fluffy dumplings. every one's other favorite. The secret is to not to boil the broth hard--ever. Simmer like you know it's going to be delicious.
-fresh turkey baby food
-Turkey omelets
-and, tonight, finger-lickin' turkey pot pie. it was so gratifying. everyone enjoyed this simple dish so much. no herbs or fancy flavors. just pure goodness.
And, as I still have a nice jar of broth and two containers of meat, later this week, I'm planning: -on using more broth in a pineapple fried rice dish
-turkey sandwiches with kitchen sink sprouts
-using the broth to float my gnocchi in tomorrow
-some kind of yummy salad?
-maybe turkey-black bean burritos. Burritos are great to make a handful extra and stick in the freezer for lunches.

That's a very reasonable 13 meals. It was expensive, this no-hormone, no cages, pastured, bird, but we've also been so enjoying not being so scrimpy with meat--I wasn't stretching the turkey thin in these meals. So I consider this very economical. It certainly was less pricey than an equivalent amount of chicken. A perfect focal point for our winter menus where we want good simple food, but not as spare as it will get come Lent in a month here.
Oh, and there's been not a whisper of anyone being sick of turkey. It's juicy and good. We've been so enjoying. We don't really eat much meat usually, and, never hosting the big holiday meals, never have large-scale leftovers of roasts. Heck, we wouldn't anyway. The family's big and hungry enough that there aren't many leftovers to speak of when we get together!

Finger-lickin' Pot Pie
easily, many other meats could substitute in here just fine. Also, parsnips, potatoes I would have tossed in if f I had had on hand. The crust I just made up, and we all loved it so much. We ate up every morsel and for once I'm not sorry there were no leftovers because I think it would get soggy.
2 cups pieces turkey meat, white or dark
2 stalks celery, chopped thinnishly
2 chopped, peeled carrots
1 1/2 cups peas
1/3 of an onion, finely minced (for most kids don't like the feel of onion in their picky little mouths) I would have used a whole if I hadn't just happened to have a part left over from another meal
1 1/2 cups broth
2/3 cup milk
good grinding of black pepper

Boil the celery, peas, and carrots 10-15 min, until just tender.
Saute the onion in turkey fat skimmed from the broth jar. Just to golden.
Heat the broth and meat to a simmer. It had been in the fridge for a week, after all. Mix veg, onions, meat, broth, milk, salt and pepper to taste. If Paul hadn't been around to keep an eye on the brood, I would have done the above, and prior chopping and washing of the above, ahead of time, and just assembled the pie and popped it in the oven an hour before dinner. Maybe. Okay today I would have put the baby on my back and cranked some loud music for the boys to jump around to and done it all as I did in the hour before supper.

Now the fun starts: biscuit-pie crust
3-4 cups flour, pile in a heap on butcher block or big bread board
stir into it with a fork:
1/2 tsp baking soda
two good pinches of salt
now I took my dough knife and chopped a quarter cup (half a stick) of butter into the flour. I just chopped until all the pieces were pea-sized or so. I suppose a chef's knife or butter knives or fingertips could do the same thing. I did chop, not knead or rub. The butter was just out of the fridge.
Now-- I made the flour into a little mountain and made a hole in the center. Quick as can be, I stirred 3 Tablespoons full of good plain full-fat yogurt in. I incorporated as much flour as possible, then take the soft dough out and set it aside and do it again until most of the flour mixture is dough. Maybe three times. I stop before all the flour is incorporated so I won't have to add more for rolling out the crust. I took half of this crust, and rolled it out. This makes a big flaky, floury pile that doesn't seem like it's ever going to hold together at all. That's good; it will, though. All along I'm dusting the excess flour over and under the crust to incorporate it; I roll the crust out as big as my pie pan. I take my dough knife and scrape up the edges on the four sides all around and fold them inward, like folding it in half and in half again. Roll it out again. As soon as possible, I set that crust into the deep dish pie pan. I do the same with the second half, and fold the finished crust in quarters to rest a minute.
Pour the filling into the bottom crust. If there's too much, (I want to leave an inch of room so it doesn't boil over) I put the extra aside for another meal or an extra little pie or hand-pie for Paul's lunch. Best not to overload!
Now I take that folded crust and unfold it on top of the pie. There's a good bit of over-hang. I seal the top crust to the bottom crust all the way around the edges by pressing with my fingers. I fold the excess under against the inside of the pie, because we like crust so, double thick is great. I crimped the edge with my fingers. I slit the top with a knife to let the steam out, and pop it into the oven, which is preheated to 425 F.

It was all cooked in 25-30 minutes, just goldening on top and around the edges. Rested for 10 minutes. Served nice and hot but not scalding! Everyone was so happy.
Our six year old adds, "make sure to say that kids like it too!"

Whew. That sounded like a lot of work, but that crust took just a couple of minutes. Really. Like, less than five. I've made a lot of fussy crusts with taking in and out of the fridge, and ice water and vodka and whatnot. They were so fussy I never made anything with a crust! I'm not sure vodka and ice water weren't just trying , and failing, to make up for my not knowing how to just do this quick and with a light touch. I don't think Grandma used ice or liquor in her crusts, and I don't think she just always served tough or heavy crusts! But as I get the hang of it, it's not so hard. Just making one every once in a while was so worth it, I think I'm getting the knack now, and I can just bang these out!
The crust was between a biscuit crust and a pie crust: crisp outside; flaky, light, and soft inside.