Category Archives: Oregon ~ OR

March5 — thoughts in the kitchen

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March5 — thoughts in the kitchen

I spent most of today in the kitchen.  It isn’t very hard to get carried away and spend hours doing a constant stream of kitchen projects!  I thought I would write some of my thoughts, while they are still fresh in my mind: I have always been a big believer in making from scratch, but I have gotten so reliant on products designed to make my life easier: boxes of almond milk and broth are things that come immediately to mind. However, at the same time, I really hate that those things come in wasteful packaging. I buy in bulk when possible, but still. Hate the tetra paks. (We actually use them to collect trash, so at least they serve a second purpose.)

In addition to the waste factor, I also worry about ingredients.  I try hard not to be totally pessimistic about our future, but I do worry about the long term health of myself and my children. 

So, I have been focussing more on making whole food.  I have been making vegetable broth from scraps, and I must say it is possibly one of the most rewarding things I have ever made.  I still buy dehydrated veggie broth powder, but it isn’t very complicated to make the broth from scratch, and I love that I am getting a second benefit from foods that would otherwise just go to compost.  (or waste)

And now, I have also mastered making almond milk!  We generally only use nondairy milk – for baking or cereal.  Almond milk just strikes me as insanely wasteful, but the teen loves it.  We drink less soy milk, mainly because of all of the controversy regarding soy, and we really like tofu.  Rice milk is watery, and nobody liked the hemp milk.  So, after a couple years of complaining about buying almond milk, I finally got serious.  

IMG_7462Today, while the kids were playing outside, I donned my cotton gloves, nitrile gloves and an apron.  You see, while I may have fantasies of being Donna Reed, my skin issues prevent me from doing much of anything in the kitchen (touching food, washing dishes …) without protective gloves, which also irritate my hands.  I also don’t like using gloves, in general.  Once or twice a week, I will take the extra precautions and really do stuff.

My goal for today was to make almond milk from the 2 cups of almonds I had soaked in salt water.  As is typical, I did abut 42 other things at the same time.  First, I had to wash the dishes.  The almond milk is a cinch to make in the Vitamix.  There are lots of tips on the interwebz, but I have found this page to be the most informative and least intimidating.  I made milk from most of the almonds, but I toasted some in the toaster oven.  Apparently, they are healthier that way.  I tried one, and it wasnt as disgusting as raw almonds. (I don’t like almonds, but since they are nutritious, I am trying.)  Annie said they were squishy, and Zoe thinks they needed salt.  At the same time as this was happening, I had to coerce the kids to do their chores. What is with the arguing about doing the Tiniest Task?   I also had to do laundry.  And I dont even remember what else I did today.

After the almonds are blended with water, they have to be strained.  I do this with a washable mesh hops bag from the beer-store.  Once all the milk is squeezed out, you are left with almond pulp.  So, of course, I have to do something with That!  It can be dehydrated and used in baking or in oatmeal or many other things.  So, I dehydrated it in the toaster oven (because I was too lazy to empty out the oven).  Once it is dry, it can be blended to make almond flour.  Yippee!  I finally used the dry-grain-container we got with our Vitamix over 6 years ago!  

Then, I started experimenting with milk flavors.  I made some of the milk “sweetened” with vanilla and dates.  Meh.  Then I added cocoa and more dates.  Mmmmm.  I also made some with strawberries and dates.  Zoe particularly likes the strawberry mixed with the chocolate.  

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Now, I was faced with a blender with some leftover food in it. I really hate wasting food. I really love my Vitamix, but I sure do wish it were easier to get the last remnants out of it. So, I decided to take this opportunity to clean out the fridge: a failed attempt at cucumber water, almost dried out oranges (the juice was still tasty), squishy kiwis, the center of a pinapple, the last bits of superpower baby greens, and some dates. I tasted it, and it was ok, but I wouldn’t want an entire cup of it. It is now freezing into green cubes we can add to stretch out fruit smoothies.

For a brief moment, I contemplated making almond butter with the toasted almonds, but I quickly stopped myself.  Instead, I cut the moldy bits off of a loaf of bread and made myself a toasted peanut butter sandwich and some leftover green bean risotto, and I called it a day.  And a bottle of local blackberry hard cider.

Donna Reed may be too lofty of an aspiration.  I will have to settle for just being Me.

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December19 – O Tannenbaum

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IMG_5807-0Today, we cut down our very own Christmas tree … in the woods. We found out that you can get a permit to chop down a tree on BLM or National Forest land. Five bucks a tree, up to five per family.  We paid for two trees, a saw, a tree stand, and it cost us an additional two hours of family time.

We have been planning this for two weeks, but we kept getting sidetracked by activities or weather.  Finally, today was a beautiful clear day with lots and lots of snow, and our friends have left town for the holidays, so we had no other plans.  We drove toward Mt. Bachelor, hunting for a place where we could stop and walk off the road to even access trees.  The sights were beautiful, and it got colder and colder.

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IMG_5799-0It was 23 degrees when we got to the ski resort.  We decided to check out the slopes, since we were there … We are planning to do ski lessons in January.  Annie is freaked out by the height, so we are not sure if she will do it — but she and I might try cross country skiing.  (I cross country skiied in Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Finland — and downhill skiied in Wisconsin, Finland, and Australia. But that was over 25 years ago! 😜)

 

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IMG_5860Anyway, after a lot of complaining about the cold and wind, we returned to our original mission.  We drove back toward home and found a spot close to a trail, where another family was sledding.  Phil slipped on some icy tire tracks as we set off on our search.  We laughed at him.

The rules say you have to be 150 feet away from a highway, but this was just a regular road.  To be on the safe side, I told the kids to count to 150 steps, which led us to a fork in the trail.  We walked a little further and found a few suitable trees.  The rules also said the tree have to be under 12 feet tall, which was fine with us.

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Annie wanted a little tree, which took longer to find than the big tree.  Eventually, we finished the shenanigans associated with walking in snow that was knee-high, took a bunch of pictures and made our way back to the truck.

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Each of us helped Phil carry the tree, but I tripped literally at the edge of the road and twisted my ankle.  It still hurts.  😩

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We now have a tree.  It is outside.  We put lights on it tonight, and we will decorate it with weather-proof ornaments.  Maybe Santa will bring some toboggans or other snow toys under it …

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O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
Wie treu sind deine Blätter
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen.
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren.
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit,
Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will dein Kleid mich lehren.

November6 – hunting and gathering

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Parenting is so hard! I am utterly exhausted.

After a particularly hormonal-tween morning, we finally set off to forage for food. First stop was the post office to mail packages to my mom and Alma! I forgot to write Beware on Alma’s package. (Note to friends: we now have a local address! P.O.Box 3010, Sunriver, OR 97707)

We first went to a nice farm stand I accidentally found last week. (Guess where I lost my driver license??) I started hunting with $20, and then the kids found more food … Dig into wallet and find another $20 … Shopping resumes. Annie finally relented to journey into the walk in fridge to hunt for pears … Total now is $44 … Uhoh … Dig some more. It is like Christmas in my wallet!!! I found another $20, and now we can buy honey!

The gang returned to the vehicle. We stopped at Humane Society to inquire about volunteering (apply online only) and fawn over puppies and cats. Onward we go!

Next stop is the Central Oregon Locavore. At first glance, it is uninspiring … Then we found the first Refrigerator Room. At least 10 individual fridges are decorated with signs describing the vittles inside, from beer to eggs, frozen fruit, gluten free bakery and paleo. Ask about milk: that fridge is in another room. We have the secret code, so we can open it! I estimate it holds 70 gallons of milk, neatly packaged in half gallon jars with names on each. (5 shelves, 7 columns, 4 rows deep). After cooperative searching, we found our name. We then scoped out the store. It sells local fresh stuff, bulk dried beans and herbs as well as products ranging from kombucha, bars galore, gelato, personal care and humongous stainless steel bottles. They even refill growlers!

   

Finally, we returned to the expedition vehicle and headed to our last stop: Costco. It was not quite the madhouse I anticipated, but the younger two kids turned into wild animals upon entry. We found what we needed, and the car was packed to the roof with our final bounty.

Dinner was prepared while Phil built a very manly fire. Scrambled eggs, from Lyle Washington (thinking of Helen!), with a chaser of raw milk. Black beans were also prepared from scratch. Once the heathens retired to the fireside, I was finally able to eat. My dinner was 2 eggs scrambled with some milk and veggies (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes) — and a Gewurtztraminer from California (thinking of Jessica!).

Soon, the children will be in bed, right? And then I can work on Barbara’s shark blanket …

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Lazy Cook’s Black Beans, adapted for a pressure cooker by me

from Serious Eats – http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/lazy-cook-black-beans.html

2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over

  • Add water up to 5 cup line (approximate, depending on how soupy you want your beans)
  • Set to Manual, high pressure for 24 minutes (leave lid off til after next step, so it can start heating up)
  • 8-15 cloves of garlic: peel and smash
  • 1 onion: peel and slice in half. Cut the roots barely off, so they stay mostly together to remove at end
  • 1 orange: wash and slice in half. Squeeze some juice into pot, then add the entire orange

  • Put lid on, seal vent
  • When finished, do natural pressure release for 10 minutes

  • Remove orange and onion
  • Salt as needed
  • Smash some of the beans to thicken
  • Simmer to thicken more

Add to rice for a complete meal. 😜

August14 – just berries

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So, I bought 4 pints of strawberries and 2 of blueberries at the Wednesday farmers market. Late Friday, and I think the kids have eaten 5 strawberries. I begged and cajoled all day to get them to eat them – but “they are brown”. So, I mushed the strawberries and am freezing them for ‘Popsicles.’ The little green container is from Ball jar company.   
    
  

July30 – A Trip to the Sun

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July30 – A Trip to the Sun

Today, I took the girls to the Oregon Observatory and Sun River Nature Center. Our agenda was to look directly into the sun.  This is what we saw:

 
Yes. That is a picture of the sun, taken with my iPhone, through a special white light filtered telescope. If you look closely, you can maybe see a sunspot: which is actually a COOL spot on the surface of the sun. 

“Sunspots appear dark because they are cooler, by up to 1,500°K, than the surrounding photosphere. They are associated with strong magnetic fields and solar magnetic storms moving in a vortex pattern, similar to a tornado on Earth.”

Then, we saw this:  

This is a picture taken through the hydrogen alpha filtered telescope and reveals “surface details and loops of gas called prominences.” The gasses on the right side are the prominences. 

The core of the sun is about 27,000,000d F – thesurface of the sun is about 10,000d F – hot lava is about 1,000-2,000d F – the daytime temperature where we are (near Bend, OR) is in the 90s – nighttime temperature here is in the lower 50s!!

To round off the solar experience, here is Astronaut Zoe:  

And Molly, the Gray Squirrel:         

The rest of us were Kangaroo Rats. Humans are at the 7th line. Seems impossible to me. 

 

April6

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UpcycleDIY of the Day – 2 in a row!!!

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This sweatshirt started life with Phil less than 3 years ago as a beloved memory of Oregon beer – until it met a cruel fate at the hands (teeth) of Bunnicula (aka Sophie).

And now it is a pillow case:

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I am still working out the kinks for making pillow cases from tshirts, but I hope to start offering them for sale in our ETSY shop soon.

Check out our other crafts currently for sale:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtUnicorns?ref=hdr_shop_menu