Friday, March 22, 2019

Chinese New Year and Cookies

Yes, I realize Chinese New Year has passed a while ago this year. Every year I want to celebrate with the kids because it comes at a perfect time for our family. Our family holiday begins in November with a birthday and then Thanksgiving and continues on with more birthdays, Christmas and the twelve days of Christmas, New Year and another birthday at the end of January. And then like a sneaky child, Chinese New Year arrives and I am left wishing I had more time and energy to make it the fun celebration it could be. The making of a tradition for our family. Except we aren't Chinese. And I never celebrated in school or growing up so I am always left wishing and wondering if I missed an opportunity.

This year I realized something though, Chinese New Year really is the perfect start of our new year as a family. Before that, we are still in holiday mode. Extra plans and fun before Chinese New Year are futile. So I decided to stop making myself crazy trying to start our new year on January 1st. No longer will I try to have my goals planned out by January 1st. No longer will I feel like if we don't have the house clean and ready for the new year on January 1st we are some how not doing it "right." Starting this year, I didn't start thinking about my new year goals until Chinese New Year. Because January 1st is just as arbitrary as Feb 5 or July 19th. We start our school year on August 15th because the local district has us end our school year on June 30th. Are these not just dates picked? At one time the school year ended at planting time but no longer. So this year, I have given myself permission to start our year on another day and another time. It is a little freeing. Try it. Decide to start something today, just because. Maybe a week without sugar or a weekend of saying yes to making time for yourself.

In January, as I talked myself into accepting a new year starting on a different day, I knew that it was also my excuse to celebrate Chinese New Year with the kids. So this year we decided to study China for the month of February. I didn't require us to do everything at specific times and days and we probably did it all wrong but we had a great time doing it. We listened to stories, read books, made crafts and of course decided to cook! We also got some great postcards from China and enjoyed a monthly letter from Isabelle from China. (Letters from Afar)

Now even before our study of China began we have been enjoying exchanging postcards with other people all over the world through Postcrossing. In the month of January, we got an interesting recipe postcard from Singapore.  We made sure to check out different Chinese sweets as well but we kept coming back to this recipe. It hung in the kitchen taunting us. No, it wasn't from China but they sounded tasty and I am usually pretty easily talked into making cookies.

Singapore Christmas Surprise Cookies

80 g. organic old-fashioned oats
1 large organic egg
50 g. organic cranberries (we use Eden Brand)
50 g. organic pistachios
2/3 c. maple syrup
90 g. organic butter, melted
150 g. organic all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Grease a baking sheet with butter.
3. Whisk butter and maple syrup.
4. Whisk in egg.
5. Stir in the flour, baking soda and oats.
6. Mix in cranberries and nuts.
7. Drop tablespoons of batter onto baking sheet. Decorate with more cranberries and nuts if desired.
8. Bake for 12-16 minutes until puffy and lightly golden.

These cookies were pretty good. I think I liked them more than the kids. They are more of a tea cookie than a sweet dessert cookie. It may sounds odd but it reminded me of the kind of cookie grandmothers would have and serve with an afternoon tea, a little English and a little proper. While they are on the drier side, they weren't so dry you couldn't just eat and enjoy them. Give them a try and let me know what you think and Happy New Year!

Note: I use a food scale for a lot of my recipes. Since this was offered to me using grams, I just changed my scale to accommodate using grams instead of ounces.I didn't convert it but I will next time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019

Happy New Year!

These past many months have been very full for me but I have been missing everyone terribly. So mu first goal for the year is to start writing again. So many wonderful changes have happened on the homestead and I look forward to sharing the, in the upcoming weeks.

I am also excited to get back to cooking new recipes. These last almost 20 months I have been shying away from new recipes and concentrating on eating fresh and not wasting. That has been great but sometimes new recipes need to be added or we get into a rut. I tried a new recipe tonight and the push back I got from the kids reminded me that staying with our favorites can also limit us. Granted the recipe wasn't blow your socks off great, it certainly was edible! It was mashed butternut squash with garlic, onions, bacon, brie and spinach. I know it sounds weird but it was ok. The bacon wrapped venison was much better, as was the homemade bread. I digress.

As we begin the fresh new year, I hope to get back into the writing and reading. Happy 2019!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Chocolate & Toasted Coconut Maple Muffins

I know February is short but goodness it flew by. We had a nice stretch of warm weather and the sap was flowing. The days were beautiful. I planted some small garlic bulbs from the scapes that I didn't get around to planting last fall. It even got so warm that we were able to get back into the three remaining bee colonies and make sure they were alive and give them some food in case they need it. Needless to say, the days all ran together. The one consistent thing? Muffins.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chocolate Maple Pudding and Goals

Oh February, how you  tease me with your warm weather. The days are getting lighter and warmer but that cold dampness is still in the air. Sap season has started so spring is on it's way and just like every winter, I have big dreams for being outdoors and the garden.

For the holiday of love, we decided to indulge in some dark, delicious chocolate pudding. Yum!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hello February 2017

So let's just let a snowy wind blow away my missing week or two. Have you seen the snow outside? My goodness it is almost 2 feet deep! The chickens are not impressed. The children on the other hand are thrilled.

I am thrilled to say that I did in fact keep our grocery budget as well as every other budget we set. So this post is going to be a purely a goal update but I promise to get back to delicious recipes very soon.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sausage, Beans and Goals

Sorry I missed you last week. I got knocked down by a terrible head cold. When I finally started to feel human around Thursday, it was just in time to cook and clean for L2's birthday. So now that I am feeling better, I am playing a bit of catch up. Thankfully the weather has been lovely so the kids haven't been under foot while I do laundry and dishes. The quiet house has given me some unexpected and welcome time to enjoy The Dave Ramsey show with minimal interruptions.

If you have never listened to his show, or read any of his books (I am currently reading The Total Money Makeover), his show is definitely inspirational. It has been inspiring me to continue working our budget without coming up with creative ways to cheat or talk myself out of it. For now though, I have been sticking to all our goals.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The 2017 Grocery Budget

As part of my goals for 2017, my handsome husband and I decided to try a "No Spend" exercise for 4 months. The main goal was just to not buy anything unnecessary. I really wanted to try it because I wanted to pay down some of our debt and I, if I am being completely honest, I have been feeling very out of control in regards to my spending. Sure, we are paying the bills every month but I know that I have been spending money without too much thought on things from groceries to books. So the No Spend time was really about getting back in control.

Now, I happen to have a brilliant friend who continues to inspire me in pretty much every way possible. We have always been able to chat about money and goals and all those other possibly uncomfortable topics, something which I am eternally gratefully for. So as we talked about my hopes for No Spend, I just kept rambling and rambling and rambling (thankfully she is also an amazing listener with the patience of a saint). As I babbled I began to realize that there was more to it than simply debt. I began to realize it was about feeling overwhelmed and incompetent. I mean, the solution to not having debt is pretty simple, right? Don't spend more than you have. So why was I feeling so out of control?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Oh my goodness it is a new year already. I have spent the last couple of months thinking, oh I need to post this amazing (insert whatever I just made, pie, cookie, etc.) recipe! Only to look down and there is nothing left to take a picture of. Optimistically I then think, oh I will make it again this weekend and write down my changes and take pictures... can you guess what happens? No? Seriously? Okay, I know you know. Anyway, the holidays flew by and now it's the start of the new year, again. So many little changes and big goals are racing around in my mind. It can be rather overwhelming to think about all the things I want to get done. A year is a long time and yet, it is only a year.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spending the Day in the Kitchen?

Despite one of my more recent posts, I have been hesitant to post. First off, there has been a big change in how we spend our days: we have officially started homeschooling. It is a deeply personal choice, and while it might not be for everyone, it is definitely what is best for our family right now. Needless to say, we have been spending more of our time learning/teaching reading and cursive writing as well as enjoying tons of living books; today it was Seeker of Knowledge, last week it was Over in the Wetlands, this week we will continue to explore monarchs with Hurry and the Monarch and Monarch and Milkweed as we watch for them as the days grow colder and shorter. I digress. This is not a homeschooling blog and I am planning on keeping it separate (leave me a comment below if you can think of a good title for our homeschool!). This space has been for me. A place to write about cooking and gardening and other fun aspects of our organic lifestyle.

Monday, August 1, 2016

No Stir Simple Granola

Happy August! I have always heard about granola. "It's amazing! What do you mean you don't eat it?" The things is, I never really cared for the really hard bits of not very sweet oats and nuts. I used to like Honey Bunches of Oats (way back when I bought processed food) and those had little tiny bunches of granola type clusters but they weren't the same. But I guess they were. When I got pregnant with L2, I tried a sample of locally made granola and was absolutely blown away. It was definitely not the granola I remember from high school. It was crunchy but not hard. Sweet but not sickly sweet and tasted like sweetened nuts. What had I been missing? To make a long story short, I realized I would have to learn to make it. I found lots of recipes but most seemed relatively time consuming. Then one of my best friends came to my rescue with a recipe that didn't require any stirring. It takes maybe 5-10 minutes to throw together and then you don't need to do anything until it is ready to eat, an hour and 40 minutes later. Seriously, unless you buy it already made, there is no easier way to make it that I have found.