Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rice Pudding

 Simple. Humble. Frugal. Filling. Homey. Warm. Delicious. The end.

Just kidding!
While there are many things rattling around in my brain that seem like potential blog posts, this one just keeps coming back to me. It is sort of a recipe... but not really. It makes an awesome breakfast or a simple dessert or even a nice filling snack. It is easy on me and easy on the wallet and also happens to be gluten free. What's not to love? You can make this for breakfast with simply leftover cooked rice, milk, a sweetener of your choice, and cinnamon. However, it benefits greatly from the addition of eggs, butter/coconut oil, raisins and vanilla.
Now. I love, love, love recipes and cookbooks of all sorts, but I tend to be a kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants/ process oriented kind of person in the kitchen (and most other endeavors as well) so what you are getting here is not exact. No real measurements or anything but the good thing about that is it allows you to make do with whatever you have on hand. Bad thing is, if you are a by the book and measure everything exactly kind of person, this sort of recipe might freak you out a little. But it is super easy, I promise!
What you need:

A quantity of cooked rice that was not cooked in stock/broth but it's okay if you used salt.
(for example I had about 2 cups leftover cooked rice this morning)

Enough milk to cover the rice in your pan by at least 1/2 inch (I actually cheated this morning because I am running low on milk and used about half whole milk, half water. Nobody, including me, noticed any difference-probably because I used a generous portion of butter and coconut oil as well, but I digress...) You can use any kind of milk.

Sweetener of your choice to taste. I like Maple syrup. You do what you want.

Go ahead and put all of this in your pan and if you are lazy clever and efficient, like me, you probably already left your rice from several nights ago in the pan it was cooked in and just shoved it into the fridge before you stumbled off to bed. Ahem.

Now. You can just heat this up to simmering, stirring occasionally, until it is the thickness you prefer and you are done. Yay! Wasn't that simple?

Somebody is coming to 'help' Mommy!
Or, for extra nutrition*, you could do what I do next to add more protein and healthy fat and flavor. Ready? Okay. Now you are going to need the rest of the stuff I mentioned back in the beginning.

Let's start with eggs. (Oh, and please note that each of these next ingredients/steps is optional and you can include or omit any of them at any time and quit after one or after all have been added. Make sense? Good. Back to the eggs. ) Unfortunately I can't really tell you how many eggs you need but I can give you an idea. It all depends on how much rice you have and how custard-y you want your pudding to be. I usually use about 1 egg per cup of rice. Now what you need to do is beat your little eggs in a separate container of some sort. Small bowl, pyrex measuring cup, whatever. Just make sure it is big enough to hold double the volume of the eggs. Then, before your milk and rice start to get thick but while it is nice and steaming hot, start adding spoonfuls of it to your beaten eggs while stirring them. This tempers your eggs so that they will not curdle and become scrambled in your piping hot pudding. Keep adding spoonfuls of hot milk/rice to the eggs until you have approximately doubled the volume of the eggs. Now pour this egg mixture back into the pan with your milk and rice and stir it in. It helps if you turn the heat down on the rice pan while you are doing this so that you don't accidentally burn it while you are tempering the eggs. Heat up your rice pudding till it is simmering again and it should start to get a nice creamy thickened texture. If you want to play it safe use a thermometer to make sure your eggs get heated up to, um, 160 degrees F. I think. Better look that up just to make sure and don't take my word for it.

After I have added my eggs and while the whole thing is heating up again I like to add in a handful or two of raisins and a generous amount of butter and/or coconut oil and stir them in as well. For the pudding I made this morning (about 4 cups total) I added about 3 Tablespoons of butter and about 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil. The oil likes to float on top when it melts but just keep stirring and it will incorporate.

Finally, after all of this has come up to temperature (or simmered for a few min and thickened if you are not as worried about temperatures) I take it off the heat and stir in some vanilla. A teaspoon or two for 4 cups is about right but adjust to your taste accordingly.

That's it! Feed this to your hungry baby and he will be happy. :) My older kids also gobble this up and usually request seconds. I find it keeps them (and me) full all morning so they aren't chirping at me for snacks an hour later and I am not walking around grumping at them all hungry like.
See? Happy!
One final note: for those of you who appreciate an ingredient list, here it is in one spot:

Cooked rice
Milk of any kind
Eggs (optional)
Coconut oil and /or Butter (optional)
Raisins (optional)
Vanilla (optional)

Make and enjoy as often as necessary to get you through to the end of winter.


This one taken by my 5 year old daughter.

*That was for you Dwija ;)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


You know what's hard? Being very introverted and being surrounded by little people who want to talk and shriek and chatter and cry at you all day long. It. Is. Hard. Capital "H". I often think of a line I heard or read somewhere that goes something like; "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." Boy do I hope that is true. Some days I feel like all I have is the bare minimum. The minimum amount of patience, the minimum amount of kindness, the minimum amount of mental organization. Sometimes not even the minimum because I lose my patience, my temper, and my self control. And you know what? It's not enough. It just isn't enough for me not to yell at people when the noise and the mess get to be too much for me. It's not enough to just do a load of dishes and a load of laundry and put a meal on the table for hungry bellies and call it good. I also have to be present. To love and be kind and to express sweetness. With words.With actions It. Is. So. Hard. I can't do it by myself. I know this because whenever I try, I fail. I fail over and over again.


I pray.

And if I don't stop praying and I don't stop trying, sometimes I don't fail. Sometimes I get it right. Maybe not right now, but maybe in the next moment, the next encounter, the next chance to kiss instead of scold. To praise instead of admonish. To love instead of rail against the chaos all around me.

When that happens, I can feel God's hand in my life. Working with me, guiding me, making me into something new. Healing my brokenness and helping me to really love the people around me. The way they were meant to be loved. It feels good. And life, then, doesn't seem so hard.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Snow Days

Lots of them! My daughter takes 3 classes a week: ballet, science, and music/art through a really neat homeschool program run by our public school district. However, they have had closings the last three days which means no classes. As a very introverted person who loves to cozy up with a hot cup of tea and watch the snow fly, this is wonderful news to me. And, really, probably just as well for my kids too, who can't quite seem to kick this latest round of winter ick we got after Christmas. Lingering coughs and stuffy noses don't exactly necessitate staying home when otherwise they seem normal but it makes me feel better when I can insist on naps and rest times. Not to mention hot tea and homemade broth.

My husband thinks I am crazy but I actually really do like the snow and being snowed in (as long as the fridge isn't empty thank you very much) up to a point. Invariably toward the end of February/beginning of March I am chomping at the bit for spring to come. So today I am just enjoying the intermittent sun and flurries, the warm woodstove, and looking through my seed catalog. In between, of course, cooking and laundry and schooling and disciplining (one of my most hated parts of this gig, truly!) and changing diapers and doing the dishes. It's messy but it's home. :)


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New... Word?

Happy New Year!
I don't know if this blog will become a thing for me again or not but I sort of feel compelled to write here lately, which is weird in and of itself. We shall see. Also, man do I need a new header.

So why do I feel compelled you might wonder? I picked a word. Or, rather, a word has been picked for me.


Let me just start right in by saying that the whole "pick a word for the coming year" trend feels pretty silly to me. Not because I think people who do it are foolish but because I think it would be foolish for ME. I honestly really admire and sometimes, a little bit, envy people who have it together enough to do it. It seems so... I don't know... beyond me or something. In my head I think, "Man all of these bloggers really have their thoughts in order and they must have such a rich interior/spiritual life. I wish I could be like that."

That is not the case here folks, let me tell you! My mind is so scattered... and my memory? I cannot remember ANYTHING anymore. Since having children I routinely forget what I am doing in the midst of doing whatever it is I am forgetting. Routinely. I forget things written on the shopping list I am holding in my hand and staring at while walking around the grocery store. I forget about dinner, the baby stuck in his exer-saucer, the dog out in the yard, the laundry (sometimes for days), and on and on. For me to pick a word to somehow focus on and then try and remember for a whole year seems a bit ridiculous and far-fetched.

So when I started reading everyone's resolutions and words and saints and aaaallllll the other things people are blogging about at the beginning of this coldest of months, I simply dismissed the idea after about 5 seconds deliberation so that I could move on with my life and put away the clothes and make the dinners and vacuum the pine needles off the floor. Ahhh, that feels better. Just gave myself permission to not worry/obsess about something else while I am trying to master the basics of home management.
Then it hits me. Just today as I was vacuuming said floor, this word just pops into my head out of nowhere. I mean, I was NOT thinking deep thoughts here people. I was vacuuming around the baby and moving furniture and was probably getting irritated with my two older children for getting in the way while I was trying to vacuum. So I paused and considered this word from out of the blue.


It is something I try to do every day and at least a morning offering no matter what. I have had that habit for a long time (the morning offering) so maybe, just maybe, I might not forget this. It actually seems easy to remember. I mean, my last attempt to do this word thing resulted in a word like "Temperence" or "Moderation" or something like that (translation "Impossible" or "Laughable"). Anyway it is now 4:07 and the baby is crying and the toddler is done napping so PRAYER it is and hopefully, whatever I am supposed to do with this, I can do it.


P.S. All you people with saints and resolutions and beasts are at catholic-home-life level 11 as far as I am concerned and thank you for your inspiration. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Salmon patties my kids actually liked, or: save your kid's bread crusts

It all started with a jar of stale bread. A half-gallon ball jar sitting on my kitchen counter full to overflowing with stale bread: crusts, heels of homemade bread that nobody ate, and the occasional lonely hot dog bun. It drove my husband crazy. Sometimes it even drove me a little crazy as I would wipe down the counter and bump the jar, sending precariously perched pieces of bread toppling all over the clean counter. Which I would then have to wipe again.
See it in the background? (salad unrelated to this post)

So why would I keep such a thing on my counter? To have homemade breadcrumbs of course! Have you looked at the ingredients in your average box of breadcrumbs at the store lately? It is crazy. Anyway, all I had was one of those little nut chopper thingys to make my bread into crumbs. It took a long time and I could only do small amounts. It was frustrating but I did it anyway because I didn't want to pay money for a box of mostly chemicals and other things I couldn't pronounce. Then a couple of particularly petrified heels of bread broke my little nut chopper. I was sad and I could no longer make breadcrumbs. And yes, I know I could have just used a rolling pin and towel or plastic bag to pound my bread into crumbs. Buuuuut... it is just too messy and loud for me to do it that way. Crumbs everywhere, half of them stuck in the towel, or the sharpness of the bread crumbs tears holes in the plastic bag and they escape all. over. the. counter.  Also, the amount of crumbs that would be wasted from all towel sticking and crumb escaping drove me completely crazy. Whatever, I have issues.
Then I got a food processor. Oh magical day! Nothing fancy but it made my whole overflowing jar of stale bread into beautiful, glorious, crumbly breadcrumbs in a very short time. These breadcrumbs, now so abundant when before they had been so scarce, have starred in two whole meals this week. And it is because of them that I can share this recipe, which also happens to be what we ate for dinner tonight.

The First Salmon Patties My Kids Actually Like

Okay I sorta play it fast and loose in the kitchen sometimes so my measurements tend to be more like estimations. Sometimes. Or a lot. That being said this is what I used:

-1 can (14.75 oz) of wild caught Alaskan salmon (drain, put in a bowl and mash the heck out of it with a fork and/or potato masher in order to break up all the bones and pieces of skin... mmmmmm. -not- but it IS good for you)
-About 2 cups of breadcrumbs
-About 1/2 to 2/3 cup of chicken stock. Start with 1/2 cup and add more if it seems too dry. I really don't know exactly how much because I just poured some in until it seemed like enough. You want all of the breadcrumbs to be moist. (could substitute water or milk or cream if you like)
-2 or 3 eggs (I used 2, depends on how dry your mixture is and whether it sticks together well, if it does not add more egg or liquid)
-Juice from 1/2 lemon
-Various spices.  I used onion powder, garlic powder (I am out of both onion and garlic at the moment), dill (very yummy), and parsley. How much? Meh, I don't measure but maybe 1/2 tsp of each?
-Salt and pepper to taste
-*SECRET INGREDIENT*- (shhhh, don't tell my kids) about 1/4 (after chopping) cup finely chopped greens from the garden. I planted a mesclun salad mix which is super yummy but a bit strong flavored for the little ones when offered alone. However, when you cut them up really tiny and put them in stuff they just look like spices and the flavor is pretty subtle.

Procedure: Mix breadcrumbs with chicken stock in a large bowl and let that sit while you are mushing up your salmon. Add eggs, spices, salt, pepper, and salad greens to breadcrumbs and mix well. Mix in the salmon and add the lemon juice. Form into patties in your hands. If they break apart when you set them down add more egg and mix thoroughly, or you could try adding more liquid. Melt some oil in your skillet (I used palm shortening from Tropical Traditions) and brown on each side over medium heat.

I served these with pearl barley and raw baby carrots on the side for the kids and switched out the carrots for a salad from the garden for my husband and I. Easy and yummy and the kids scarfed them down!

*Disclaimer* This post was not sponsored in any way by anyone.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Garden ramblings

We got a much better start on the garden this year than last. Instead of one measly little deep bed and some pumpkin seeds hastily thrown in the ground in July, we have 3 deep beds this year and were able to till half of the rest of the garden so far. I hope to get some planting done there this week. We have plans for more pumpkins as well as sunflowers, beans, cucumber, summer and fall squash, and some flowers for cutting. Last weekend I was able to sow some herb seeds here and there at the ends of the deep beds. I planted basil (seeds saved from last year), cilantro, parsley, chamomile, and garlic chives. The spinach still isn't doing that great for me despite sowing it waaaay back in early spring. Maybe I would have more luck with a fall crop. We have been harvesting the radishes this week and some lettuce here and there. I earthed up the potatoes over the weekend as well but I think I didn't get enough dirt on them so I may do that again. The landscaping is proving a little overwhelming to maintain. We are trying to avoid buying mulch every year but I think we might have to for a few years until we get enough ground cover type plants established to fill in between the bushes and ornamental plants. I am also putting in herbs here and there to fill in the spaces.
 Needs new mulch
 Here too
 Deep beds
 Another view of the deep beds
 Almost blueberry time!
Look at my poor asparagus bed. Full of weeds!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Yarn Along

Yay another Yarn Along! I finished my hat! it is a bit tight around the crown of my head but it will stretch out with use, I am sure. Reading The Fine Art of Italian Cooking. My copy is a bit older than this one. I found it at a used book sale last summer. I have been in quite a cooking rut lately and cracking this book open has provided me with some much needed inspiration.