Saturday, September 29, 2007

Honey Cracked Wheat Bread

I tried Beth's Honey wheatBerry Bread recipe from the blog A Year in Bread, but I made several changes and I wanted to share my version. I can't compare it to the Orowheat version that Beth was imitating, but it made a tasty loaf even though I forgot the salt. The crumb is soft and the bread is perfect for sandwiches. I might even get Michael to try this as a sandwich bread to pack for work. He's opposed to homemade breads for packed lunches because he says they dry out to quickly.

The picture is Hannah's interpretation of the bread as a mermaid's head.

2 1/2 cups water, divided
3/4 cup cracked wheat
3/4 cup milk
4 cups whole wheat flour, divided (I used King Arthur)
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, divided (Gold Medal)
5 tsps gluten
1 Tbs instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1 Tbs salt

Boil 2 cups of water and pour over cracked wheat to soak for 30 minutes to an hour.

Combine cracked wheat and liquid with milk, yeast, and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix, cover, and let rest until bubbly, 20-30 minutes.

Add Butter, honey, remaining 3 cups whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 cups white flour, 5 teaspoons gluten, and 1/2 cup water. Add more water or flour as needed. Dough will be rough. Mix for two minutes.

Add salt (don't forget!), then spread 1 cup white flour on clean surface and knead. Beth says 4-5 minutes, but I kneaded for about 15 minutes. I don't usually knead by hand, though, so I think my kneading was slower than most.

Roll the dough in flour, put in bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled; about an hour.

Shape into two loaves. Place in greased loaf pans (or bake free form on a stone like me) and let rise until doubled; about an hour again.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for 45 minutes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nora is a whole year old!

My parents are pitying Nora because she didn't get to eat any birthday cake. Michael will probably also be horrified when he hears. But Nora is only eating bananas, rice, millet, pears, kale, avocado, sweet potato, peas, and squash. And the cake has three of the top eight allergens (milk, wheat, and eggs). Not to mention all the sugar! Nora favors fruit already. If I fed her sugar she would go on an everything else strike for sure.

Hannah and I enjoyed the cake. Anyone want to help us finish it off?

One month down!

I got my first three letters from Michael today, one month into the deployment. Only six months or so to go. . . we're one seventh of the way there. Things don't seem so bad when we hit a month mark!

Two of my friends just got their husbands back. I'm mostly very happy for them. There's just that little hint of jealousy.

One of the husbands is only home on R&R. So really I'm not jealous of them at all. He has to go back and his deployment is much longer. Not to mention he missed the birth of their son a few months back. She didn't know he was coming to visit! She was sitting on the porch and he walked right up and surprised her. I think I would literally faint if Michael pulled off something like that.

One day at a time, and he'll be back before we know it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Breastfeeding Pictures

These are beautiful! Go see photographic reproductions of famous breastfeeding artwork.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm a winner!

I won the Family Travel Gear giveaway at 5 Minutes for Mom! I am so excited about this! I'll get a Kids Car Organizer Compact and a Toddler Coddler from

The car organizer looks like it will be awesome at corralling the clutter in the van. And the toddler coddler looks very snuggly!

Many thanks to 5 Minutes for Mom and!

Did you know My Little Ponies are magnetic?

I had no idea.

Are they all? Did they used to be 20 some years ago?

Update here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Peter and the Starcatchers

Hannah and I have been enjoying audio books as we drive around to our various errands. Our minimum drive time is ten minutes, so we've been getting quite a bit of listening in. After our most recent book, however, we will no longer listen to audio books that I haven't previewed.

We read J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan about 6 months ago (read out loud, not an audio book) and enjoyed it immensely, so I thought Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson and billed as a prequel to Peter Pan, looked like a good bet. However, I was astonished to hear a s#x scene as we were listening to the audio version of this book. Thank goodness it went right over Hannah's head.

This book is completely inappropriate for a juvenile audience. The 10-14 year old target audience would not miss the s#x scene.

The book in no way approaches the masterful storytelling of Barrie's Peter Pan. It is lurid, graphic, and utterly lacking in magic.

I wouldn't play an audio book of Peter Pan for Hannah, either. I censored Tinkerbell's "silly a**" comments during our reading. I'd rather have my then 3 year old repeating "silly boy" than "silly a**!"

Tuna Noodles with White Beans and Capers

1 lb noodles
2 6 oz cans of water packed tuna, drained
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups cooked white beans (any white bean will do)
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
salt & pepper to taste

While cooking noodles, assemble other ingredients & mix. Drain noodles, add to the rest, and stir.

Menu Plan Monday

This is my first Menu Plan Monday post, but since I've been making a weekly meal plan offline for years, I expect this will be a regular feature!

I currently do my menu planning on Saturdays and shop on Sundays, but my plans actually do run Monday-Sunday. I plan my menus by looking over my master dinner list. This list is all our favorite meals categorized by type of meat (beef, poultry, seafood, pork, vegetarian, and "any meat"--for those versatile recipes that work well with your choice of meat). I usually choose one beef, one poultry, one seafood, and one from either pork or vegetarian each week.

Monday: Shepherd's Pie
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: Pizza w/Butternut Squash
Thursday: Tuna Noodles w/White Beans and Capers
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Ginger Chicken w/Mango Chutney
Sunday: leftovers

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nora kissing Papa night-night

Thursday, September 20, 2007

in which I scare far to easily

Michael's base has very few amenities. They serve him one meal a day. They've got a plumbing system involving urinals rigged up from former bleach jugs.

BUT he's got great internet access. And I am terribly spoiled by this. I can send off a quick note and ask those little questions that I always forget about when he calls. It looks like he'll even be able to watch this season's TV shows online.

So when I didn't have an email from him in my inbox this morning I worried and wondered a little in spite of myself. I kept checking my email. After noon I started looking in the driveway every time I heard a vehicle go by. I started my mantra: "No news is good news. No news is good news." Then I got a phone call from the wife of one of the guys Michael is with. Their power was out. And she's coming over for dinner on Saturday.

I need to get a grip. And clean my house.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free Day for Military at NC State Fair

The North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh is offering free admission to active duty, reserve, guard, or spouses with military ID on Wednesday, October 17. Each military member or spouse also gets free admission for up to 4 guests.

They will have special military displays and entertainment along with all the regular fair displays and activities.

I'm not sure why they think we need special military displays and entertainment. I'm going to take the kids to see the animals and the jam, not the Navy Rock Band.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

deployment tip: photo book

We made a photo book at Shutterfly telling our deployment story. I started with some pictures of Papa in Iraq; with friends, working, and playing. Then I did a few pages with us writing letters to Papa and things that we'll do while he's gone. Next there's some pages about what we'll do with Papa when he comes back home. I ended with a picture of our whole family together.

Monday, September 17, 2007

deployment tip: Daddy Dolls

Daddy Dolls are not for us. But if your child likes security objects, these would be wonderful.

The company, started by two Marine wives, custom makes 12 or 17 inch dolls from your picture of daddy or mommy. You can also order a voice recorder for the deployed parent to record a message to the child. The recorder is placed in a special pocket inside the doll.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

deployment tip: United Through Reading

We made a recording of Michael reading to Hannah for his earlier deployments. We thought it would be a great way for Hannah to see and hear her Papa. We didn't end up watching it much because I cried so much every time we put it on.

Michael wants to try that again this time. If we'd planned ahead, he could have made a recording through United Through Reading before he left. At USOs near most major military installations, a military member can go in & record a DVD. The website says the USO donates the DVD, book, mailer, and postage. Facilities are also available at many locations throughout Iraq.

I think I can watch it this time. But if not, Hannah's old enough to sit in front of the TV without sticking her fingers in the VCR. Nora likes to stick her fingers in there still. And unplug anything that's plugged in. And then chew on it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

deployment tip: maintain routine

We've found it very helpful to maintain our routines even when Michael is deployed. Maintaining routines gives the kids a sense of stability. And our bedtime routine ensures an opportunity to connect with Papa every evening. When he's home we all sit on the couch for Bible and prayer time before bed, and after prayers the girls kiss Papa goodnight before heading to bed. When he's gone, after prayers we take out his picture and tell him goodnight. We also have a message from him on the answering machine that we play. He just happened to leave a nice message with an "I love you" to everyone early on this deployment. We'll consciously prepare some kind of recorded message for future deployments because the girls really enjoy hearing him during goodnight time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

rain makes everything grow

At dinner tonight Hannah was lamenting how small our house is compared to her friend's. Then she looked out the window and said, "The rain is making our house grow taller!"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Daddy Who?

This cartoon was in the Marine Corps Times last week, under "How Others See the Military."

Hannah was 7 months old when Michael deployed the first time, and 14 months when he returned. And she remembered him. She was a little unsure of him when we met him at the shop, but we stayed there for all of about five minutes, and after we got him home she would not let him out of her sight. Just after we got home he went out to the garage and she howled when the door closed behind him. As soon as he popped his head back in: silence. She spent the next several weeks insisting that both parents be within viewing range at all times when at home.

I've got some posts in the pipeline with ideas for preventing a "daddy who?" during a deployment. But those of us who've been there know the cartoon is so absurd it's offensive.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Nora loves kale!

I have to say, I'm a little surprised.

Steamed & pureed kale, mixed with millet porridge is apparently much tastier than millet porridge sans kale.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pretend Soup

We checked out Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson from the library and Hannah and I are both enjoying it! She's been choosing a recipe to make each day. Here she is cutting bananas for the title recipe:

And enjoying the finished product:

Each recipe is presented first on a two page spread for the grown ups, with notes about what kids can do at different ages and safety tips, as well as the recipe in a traditional format. My favorite part of these sections are the reviews by their preschool aged testers, like this one: "I also like cinnamon on broccoli."

Then the next two page spread shows the recipe in a pictoral format that pre-readers can follow. Hannah loves telling me what to do next! This can be a little troublesome when I want to modify a recipe and she insists that I'm doing it wrong.

Katzen is the author of the Moosewood Cookbook so it's no surprise that the recipes in Pretend Soup are all vegetarian. Most incorporate lots of fresh fruits or vegetables and are things that I'm happy to see my preschooler eat. And if Hannah helps prepare a dish she is much more likely to actually eat it!

Friday, September 7, 2007

allergens enter milk more readily in early days of breastfeeding

After our experience with Hannah's allergies to cow's milk and soy as an infant, I made an effort to try to prevent Nora from going down the same path. I took probiotics throughout my pregnancy and postpartum. I refrained from consuming the vast quantities of cow's milk products that I did during my pregnancy with Hannah. So far, Nora appears to only have difficulties with nightshades.

But, if I had paid attention when I read this New Beginnings article, I would have maintained a strict low allergen diet for the last month of my pregnancy through the immediate postpartum period. According to the article, substances pass more readily into breastmilk during the first few days of milk production.

I must have read the article. It was published in 2005, before I was pregnant with Nora. And I've been a subscriber and loyal reader since 2003. Better luck next time, right? If I'm blessed with more babies I'll add that to my anti-allergy regime.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

unwanted traffic

We live on a pretty quiet street. This morning I was wishing we lived at the end of a dead end road with no neighbors within earshot because a brief episode of anxiety left me with a racing heart, certain that each vehicle I heard drive by was going to stop in our driveway to deliver dreaded news. I got on the computer to try and distract myself and got an email from Michael. He hasn't been able to email much, but the timing couldn't have been better.

Hannah still seems fine. She's not acting out. She isn't expressing any sadness. She's very matter of fact about it. Papa is in Iraq to help people and he'll be back around Easter (which is after Nora's birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Papa & Momma's birthdays). I wonder if there will be a change as the days turn into weeks and she starts to really miss him.

Nora, on the other hand, notices that things are different. She had several evenings of very unusual fussiness after he left. She loves to look at Papa's pictures on the fridge. Every time we go by them she points and says, "Papa, Papa, Papa, Papa!" She's pronouncing the "p" now, too, which she hadn't quite managed before. She enjoys holding the laminated picture and "hugging" it.

I don't think this is dark enough to be called gallows humor: