Sunday, November 2, 2014

Steph's Cheesy Grits

I have never thought to propose to another woman, that would be weird.

Until now.

Now I understand why men propose to women who can cook. There is so much joy in eating good homeade food, something like Stephanie's Cheesy Grits could move one to ask her to marry you. I did ask her to marry me, but she declined.

I think the secret ingredient is the bacon or ham that are not mentioned in the title, but this pot of goodness really hits the spot on a cold Sunday afternoon...or on Pascha at 2am. This dish has become a break-fast tradition in our small parish. This Christmas Steph will be gone and I just don't know what I will do without her grits. Perhaps I can make them...but they just don't taste the same.

 Steph's Cheesy Grits
 8 c salted broth, my homeade broth usually needs more salt
-heat until bubbly-
2 c polenta
-whisk into broth, stir a lot for about 20 minutes until it's thick and no longer crunchy-
about 10 drops Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sharp cheddar or other cheese (more if mild)
1 lb cooked, cooled and broken up bacon or diced ham
-serve immediately, Steph puts hers in a crock pot and keeps it warm until after the church service and we indulge after 40 days of fasting-

Cheesy Grits looking dapper

Missing you, Steph. Come home soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Overwhelmed by the beauty of this place.
Overwhelmed by the work to be finished.
Overwhelmed by the kindness of children.
Overwhelmed by the selfishness of others.

So much pain. The priest who left us, took his wife and beautiful children...left.
So many temptations.The boy whom I met, who was sweet...killed himself...left.
So much sickness. The woman, whom I love, who left her family, left her four small children, her sick husband....left.
So many snares. The other woman, whom I love, who left her husband of 35 years....left.
So much sickness, so much pain. So much.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stock season

'Tis the season for making stocks. These recipes were created by what I have on hand and what my garden and freezer are spewing out at me. Many recipes call for broth or stock, this is such a great and actually easy and rewarding thing to make. If you're not afraid to pressure can things, it's my preferred method to store it. But you can just make a small batch if you know you'll need it for a pot of soup, or you can easily freeze it in gallon or quart sized ziplock bags.

Vegetable Stock 
yields 7 quarts

basic stock ingredients:
2 large onions quartered, skins on
6 ish medium carrots (and or zucchini or squash, something sweeter)
6 ish celery stalks and leaves
small bunch fresh parsley
1 Tbl peppercorns
2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme
~20 leaves of beet greens
~20 leaves of mustard greens
~20 medium kale leaves and stems
some people don't recommend kale or cabbage, but others said some was ok, and to balance it out, I was pleased with the flavor.
salt optional, not recommended in stocks where you will salt your dish later
8 quarts warm water

Let simmer an hour or two. Most broths I leave overnight but I didn't see anyone doing that with veggie broth so I only did it for a few hours. Add salt and use in soup or can in quart jars at 10 lbs pressure for 35 minutes.

Beef/Pork Stock

Make this the same way, just with bones. I'm making mine now, it will simmer overnight and I will can it tomorrow. I read that you can substitute squash for carrots and I have a monster zucchini and not as many carrots this year, so I added a bunch of zucchini my beef/pork stock.

Turkey Stock

Later this week I'll make the turkey I pulled out of the freezer yesterday (yes I cleaned out the freezer, thus the stock making rush). I'll combine my turkey bones and my chicken bones that are frozen waiting for stock and can that up as well. I go through a lot of canned stock.

Fish Stock/ Shrimp Stock 
I also love making salmon stock, just use all of your excess heads, spines, bones, etc and throw them in with the same basic ingredients. I do the same thing with all of my shrimp peelings, throw them into a broth to extract any nutrients that are left.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cabbage Rolls

The main reason for this post is to keep tabs on the cabbage rolls I made today. Also to show off my produce because it's so pretty and I love looking at it. The kids picked this on Friday for me. I made my Yum Lentil soup and sauerkraut and ate a bunch of celery with peanut butter, good celery!

It's hard to see it but in the back right is a very large cabbage. My husband loves cabbage rolls and I wanted an easier recipe. I found this one and liked the looks of it because the rice goes into the meat with out pre-cooking it. I was afraid she didn't add enough liquid but not only was my rice cooked (I used white rice) but there was some liquid still in the pan. Very delicious! I also used tomato soup instead of the canned tomato puree, because that's what I had. I did lesson the salt too. I also used a can of mushrooms in place of fresh. I did double the recipe, I pretty much have to on everything now, and I used one Savoy cabbage to roll for one pan and a regular cabbage for the other. I LOVE savoy cabbage leaves!!! They are perfectly perfect, come apart easily, and have fewer slugs. Yay!

Just a portion of what our garden grew this year. New for me: celery, music garlic, green beans, multi colored carrots.

Our 40 day gift

Mental Retardation

After having a baby it can feel as if your world is coming apart. Like you just can't handle things. And, well, frankly, we can't...and we shouldn't have to.

I just had my seventh child. And yes, things are easier for me because I have older kids and teenagers to help with chores. But as I get older (I'm 37) the hormones go more and more crazy and I seem to be able to handle less and less with each child. My postpartum silliness kicks up and it is not fun.

I had my sixth child six years ago. After her it was the worst of all. I was not mentally prepared for my absolute mental breakdown and neither was my husband. We determined after her that I needed more rest, more food, less people coming and going from my house and less of me "needing" to do things such as grocery shopping and errands.

After this little guy things have been better here at home. My husband anticipated my mental retardation (for the most part). My mother came to stay nearby for 12 days after I had him, making meals and taking little girls overnight in her small apartment. My midwife came a week after he was born and told me to spend more time in bed and less time trying to "do what I needed to do" and instead do what I did need to do and that was to rest and hold my baby. She reminded me that women basically turn back into teenagers, with all the crazy hormones that don't make sense, but with those hormones stays the responsibilities of being a wife, mother, homemaker, businesswoman, gardener, and cook.

The Gift

The 40 day churching prayers are said for the mother coming back to the Orthodox Church after her 40 days. In many cultures (many of them Orthodox or Catholic) they strictly observe the 40 days. No church, no town, not even baby check up appointments. Some have no visitors except their doula or helper that has been asked to come and help with chores in the home. I absolutely LOVE this tradition. Do I feel oppressed by it, like the church doesn't want me bleeding all over the place there? Heck no! I am so thankful that I am encouraged to stay in my bed, my nest, my safe place for that long. Because even if I feel that I might be able to handle going to church after three weeks, I'm probably wrong. Going to church, or anywhere, takes a lot out of you. And honestly, church takes a ton out of me. My husband is a deacon and has always served the church, so he has always gone two hours early. That leaves me getting the kids there alone. Even though we are spoiled and live next door to the church I still do have to be sure they get up, get dressed, hair brushed (sometimes) and out the door to get there semi-on-time. Then I just cross my fingers and hope they are somewhat behaved with out me church family loves me... Just that is exhausting. And for the last 3 out of 4 Sundays since I had my bundle I've been a wreck those days. And I'm NOT EVEN GOING TO CHURCH. This is my last Sunday I'm staying home for my 40 days. Next week I'm on coffee hour duty with my sister and the regular church duties will be calling. I'm so happy to have been on forced leave of absence in just one aspect of my life.

There are some women who don't observe the 40 days. They say, "You can't tell me to stay home for 40 days!" and they go to church. Good for them. My priest would be just fine if I wanted to come back early...he's no dummy, he does NOT want to mess with me in my postpartum state of crazy. Most priests and churches don't enforce this, they would be nuts to in today's culture of woman who do what they please. But, really, give me a break. Women need this for their own sake. It's not to make them feel downtrodden or guilty because they had a baby. It's for their physical and mental health. It's been this way since Adam and Eve. There's nothing new here.

It's a reminder from the Church, who loves us and wants what is best for us, to take it easy. I appreciate this gift. Even if everything else in my life is insane and won't least my church understands that I need to stay home more often.

Take a step back

Postpartum mamas have a gaping hole bleeding inside of us, literally. We have afterbirth pains that stop us in our tracks and we scream quietly with pain. We have cracked nipples, sometimes accompanied by infections from feeding our babies. I typically have thrush as well and if you have had it, you know how it feels... Who wants to be wearing bras or leaking milk in public? Frankly, who wants to see us leaking milk in public? We should not just jump back into action. We should have a 40-day-wearing-pajamas-only period. We should have someone making us steaks and broccoli (yes my husband has done this a couple of times). We should be watching HGTV and crying at those people when they get a surprise home makeover because that is the best-thing-ever.

When people used to live as extended families the mothers and grandmothers would be there helping, shooing away toddlers, cooking the meals, tending the garden and on and on. It is sad that this is lost in our American culture. Single family dwellings are the norm now. Mothers and daughters rarely get along. Women are told they can and should do it all and then when they can't they feel like failures. Our American dream is dashed one woman at a time. Because it's a lie. It's a lie that women can do it all. Why should we have to? Why can't we be good at being mothers OR working. Men don't have babies, so they're not expected to be good at both. Why has that burden been placed on us? It's not fair. Cry me a river... So we mothers need to realize this. We need to say, "No, I can't pick up your kids on Tuesday, I just had a baby for crying out loud!!!" and not feel ashamed or guilty about that. My husband has helped me see this, to say no. For his own sake! When I go try to do everything for everyone who ends up pays the price? My family does. I'm grouchy with them, not my friends...and that's not fair to them.

Take a step back. Take a break. Force yourself. Procrastinate. Your baby, your kids and your husband all need you to do this. Don't worry, you can do it all...just do it all later.

My precious. 34 days old.
More info:

First 40 days as a mother

Ayurvedic Postpartum

Why Are America's Postpartum Practices So Rough on New Mothers?

Preparing for Birth: Freezer Cooking

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Baby is coming...

Feeling compelled to write this evening after finding a cool blog by a fellow Orthodox homeschool mama and mother-of-seven. Lovely blog she has.

I have snapped just a few photos recently and wanted to share.

Here's my fridge. I know it's a little barren, but LOOK at how much is homegrown or homeade!!! I'm just really proud of myself. Even the lemonade is organic...hehe.

This building is my midwives birth center. I literally could have my baby in a barn...but we're going to have it at home like the last 3. :) I just love this old Colony barn, it's such a beautiful birth center too.

My precious girls the other night with their papa at Home Depot. Trying to find the playground section. Our 14-yr-old playground died, it's time to replace her. I love how colorful my girls are.


Our sweet mama kitty had another batch of kittens. Kittens are soooooo fun for the kids (and adults too). Their big sister cat I think wants to eat them, we'll try to keep them safe. That's their mama in the background, she's such a good mama.

Our neighbor's Scottish Highland cow had a cute little calf! It's so fun to be next door to them. The white one is supposed to calf soon too. This was taken around 10:30 in the evening next to our driveway, they were visiting us. Love Alaska summers.

Pooped after church on Sunday, so the kittens insisted that I sit down with some coffee and let them nap on me. My sister came over to keep us company for a bit. Rainy afternoons can be so refreshing.

I snapped some of the garden the other day, but haven't uploaded them yet. It's looking lovely and tucked in under a nice layer of mulch.

I doubt I'll blog again 'till after I have this baby. This month is packed. My little brother flew up for his friend's wedding, so tomorrow we get to see him and sister for a little bbq. This will be our first family gathering since my parents moved to Hawaii, that will be strange for them not to be there.  Our two older kids fly to Seattle to attend St. Mary's camp in two days and visit friends in Ellensburg and hopefully squeeze a short trip to the monastery at Goldendale, they will be gone for 10 days. I have to call in for jury duty this whole month. My 20th high school class reunion is literally on my due date. The "fish guy" should call us on Thursday with our fish (salmon) order of the year, so we'll be gutting/cleaning them late into the night. Three of the kids have swimming lessons for the next two weeks, so that means driving to town every day. While daughter is gone I have to get the 10 & 12 year olds to milk the goats, not a fun task. While son is gone I have to get the 10 & 12 year olds to care for the chickens, walk the neighbor's dog and get the neighbor boy to do his church lawn mowing job for him. Our LaMancha goat is due with her baby a week before I am. I still have not "nested" either, so I really need to go through the old baby stuff and pitch half of it and keep just some. I bought 4 flowering trees that I still need to plant, teens are leaving... so I may hire the neighbor boy to help me. Farmers are cutting hay in Palmer, so I have to get hopefully 40-50 bales to last us 'till next summer, since there was a hay shortage last year, I have to get on this quickly before it's gone. I still have to run my business, always very busy during the summer. Thank goodness school is mostly over and what we are still doing is minimal and always excused if we went to town that day or if there was just the need to play instead. Those are just the things I'm remembering about.

I know we can do this, it'll just be crazy busy...Alaska doesn't allow one to sit still during the summer. However, I do plan on doing a lot of sitting, snuggling, resting during August. I'm looking forward to the down time.

Baby is coming. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Eye Candy

Every year for the past 4 years we have had a Country Fair at our parish as a fund raiser for all of our crazy building projects we have to work on... This year I asked my friend, who's a professional photographer, to take some pictures for us. It was a horribly wet day, the temp was around 42 degrees, and the wind kept kicking it was COLD! But we still had a great turn out. She showed up with her sweet boy and took some great pics, I couldn't be happier. Some are definitely Pinterest worthy, especially the cake picture, so I wanted to post some on here.

Our sweet Nubians in the petting zoo.

My daughter ran the petting zoo, this is one of our doelings.

The star in Stephanie's Sweet Shoppe.

My adorable nephew.

My daughter's partner in the egg toss...daughter got the better end of this deal...hehe.

Potato sack race, hard core.

Three legged race.
Manly girls tugging.

What's a country fair with out a tug-of-war?
My awesome husband running the chicken fling game, one of the most popular games every year.
Here's Juliana's photography page on facebook, thank you again! Juliana Adele Photography

Friday, May 23, 2014

Early Summer

Well, it may be another scorcher this year. The unusual thing is that May in 2013 we had snow and that darn snow did a lot of damage to trees...not good!

This whole winter has been ultra mild, hardly any snow, and a very early spring. We even had thaw and perennials start growing back in January. Crazy!!! So spring is basically over now and summer is coming along nicely. The birch tree allergies that I normally have in June have almost gone away now and June is still more than a week away. I'm thrilled.

I just wanted to post a few pics. I know I have not written much. I still have been very tired during this pregnancy. 2 more months to go!

Today my front porch got a makeover.

Teenager eye selfie. She hates that word. Selfie. She's almost 16 *gasp*!!!

Springtime tulips I got me for mothers day.

Sweet Sus enjoying the drive out to the goat farm. That day the new babies were getting de-horned.

Mama swallow guarding her nest at 11pm the other night.

Papa and son fixing our door at 11pm the other night. Love that man.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where I have been...

In October 2013 I found out that we were having another baby.

I miscarried three years ago and have not talked about it much. It was hard. This pregancy was much quieter because I learned with my one miscarrage how terrible it is to have someone six months into a supposed pregancy ask you when you are due...then you must tell them you had miscarried. That well-intentioned person will then feel horrible and want to change the subject by talking about how they had a friend who miscarried thinking that that will lighten the mood. It doesn't. After this happens a few times you vow to yourself that you will not tell a single soul that you're pregnant the next go-around.

So, since October I have been gestating a new life...and that's about it. Other than trying to keep myself alive by eating when I don't want to...and trying to keep my business afloat. Basically hubby and the kids have done a lot of fending for themselves and the house has all but gone to pot.

With my first six kids I was full of all sorts of piss and vinegar in my second and third trimesters. I have had amazing pregnancies, thus have six amazing children to show for it and never have felt the need to stop. I had serious motivation, serious creativity, serious crazy ideas (that were good). With this one, I'm older (my youngest daughter will be turning six when this baby's born) and this baby is sucking my brains out of my head and the life out of my body...not that I'm complaining, I know it's all worth it. My second trimester has been very tiring and I have done a lot of resting (thanks to my awesome hubby and kids).

Today something happened. I was standing in church this morning and I wanted to write a blog post. I have thought of a few during the past few months, but the idea of actually concentrating on something for that long seemed very daunting and never actually happened. I thought about what I wanted to write about, I have it all planned out in my head, sort of. It will be titled, "Small children, small problems; Big children, big problems." Based on some great advice I got from a friend about 5 years ago now. Being in church is great, I really should be praying, but the reality is that I don't usually do much of that, but I do think about stuff.

When I got home, guess what happened? I turned into super Nazi mom and started making the kids pick up the nasty house. And vaccum, and CLEAN the stuff that should have been done already. I inspected their rooms, had one clean the school room, I even took a giant pile of paper that was to be burned and shredded the whole thing 'cause I'm tired of it getting scattered around the living room. I moved all the jars and junk that have been collecting dust in the dining room the past 6 months and put stuff away and dusted and made my dining room look nice again. Hubby, who took this week off (Holy Week) asked me if I'd suddnely entered into my third trimester because I was going crazy (the good kind). I realized that if July 27th is my due date, the 3rd trimester is only about a week away.

The house is now clean, and here I sit, writing a blog post. Crazy for sure. Perhaps I'm not destined to be unmotivated for this whole pregnancy after all...

Even if I am, that's ok. At least we got a lot done today and I'm happy about that. I can actually have company on Saturday with a bit more confidence in my ability at being a homemaker.

Baby bump as of now.