Saturday, September 25, 2010

Busy at Home

Oh, what a beautiful morning! And afternoon! And evening! This has been a simply marvelous day. I didn't have to drive Craig Grayson to his early morning football practice, because Craig did. (*cheesy grin of satisfaction*) I was able to sleep a little bit later. I washed my hair. My eyebrows are plucked. The little things in life really do make a big difference.

Once I finally emerged from my little corner of the world and joined the family downstairs, I was eager to get started on some of the preparation that I've been postponing as we unpack and organize. Of course, I needed the proper fuel to get me going, so I roasted some coffee. This morning's fare was Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry. I just roasted this a couple of days ago and found that it needed to stay in a little longer, so I went ahead and roasted it longer this time. Mistake. It could have fueled a semi. I still finished it, though, because I don't like to waste.

Craig, in the meantime, was making his Turkish coffee, which he shared with all of the children. I had to direct him to where I had stashed his demitasse cups when Morgan and I unpacked the kitchen. Having cute little serving pieces just enhances the whole experience. I love that Craig shares this appreciation for special things. What a great memory the children will now have of sharing a morning cup of one of their dad's favorites.

Once I had fuel in my veins, I started on today's task list. I'm trying my hand at some homemade cleaners, so I've been filling jars with white vinegar and orange peel for use in several "recipes". I'll give this a trial run, and if I like the results, I plan to "shrink" our grocery expenditures by reducing the amount of cleaning products that I buy. Confession: I'm addicted to bleach and Tide with Downy, so there are some things that won't change. Anyway, check out my little stash that is growing: (I think that I should do a post about the many uses of canning jars.)

Since moving into this (lovely!) house, we've realized that we can't fit all of our (rather large) furniture, so we're getting rid of some things. Actually, a year in southern Africa showed us that we should get rid of a LOT of things. One such item is the TV armoire that was included in the bedroom collection we purchased during my pregnancy with Gabriela over 11 years ago. It's funny how something like the sale of an item on craigslist can start a new friendship. I've so enjoyed corresponding with the sweet lady who wanted to purchase our armoire, and this morning we were privileged to meet her and her husband when they came to pick it up. 

I'm continually reminded that God is in the details and delights in blessing us in unexpected ways. When Jeannie and her husband, Terry, arrived at our door, they presented us with treats from our favorite PA bakery. We only seldom get to enjoy pastries from Kretchmar's Bakery, as it is quite a drive away. Craig's sister understands our deep appreciation for their cakes, so on special extended-family occasions, she usually buys one for us all to enjoy. What a great and pleasant surprise it was to receive these from Jeannie and Terry, who had no idea that we are big fans of the bakery near their home! During their visit, I roasted more coffee for them to sample. This time I chose Rwanda FT (fair trade) Dukunde Kawa Musasa. 

 The word "amazing" doesn't begin to describe the delectable flavor and perfect texture of this almond torte. Superb!

 The children were especially fond of these Steelers cookies. For me, the cookies served as a decoy to redirect the children away from the cake, saving more for me. (I'm not helping my fitness plan At. All.)

 Enough said.

I've been wanting to make my own kefir for a while, but I haven't had the means to do so until now. It's not complicated, but our circumstances weren't conducive to making cultured dairy products before settling into our new home. We recently located a source for raw, unpasteurized milk and cream, and fresh eggs. My wonderful husband, who passes by the farm on his way from work, agreed to visit the farm and purchase these for me. If you've never had fresh milk, find some as soon as you're finished reading this post, then reject hereafter anything sold in the dairy section of the grocery store. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. I made kefir this morning, thanks to Sue, who shared her starter with me a few days ago. I'm hoping to use the rest of the cream for homemade ginger ice cream.

As I was busying myself with the kefir, Morgan was hard at work making granola for us to keep on-hand for breakfast. My plan was to make at least two batches, but in the end, we only ended up with one. Maybe tomorrow... (We shared a little of this with our guests.)

 This yummy recipe comes from Christmas with Southern Living 2008, but we change it up a bit. It's incredible! I'm hoping to try this recipe soon that my precious friend, Lauren, fed us on our recent visit to Indiana. It was equally delicious. So, rather than choose between the two, I want to have both!

I've been wanting to make sprouts for a while, as well, but I've been much too distracted. This morning I finally took the plunge. I don't think it gets any more brainless than this. Really. It's probably the simplest kitchen task in the whole world, but the result is literally a super food. I chose lentils, alfalfa, and wheat. I like to use the wheat grass in my juicer and add it to smoothies. The other sprouts are great in salads or on sandwiches, but I'm hoping to experiment with a couple of other ideas that I discovered recently.

We managed to squeeze in a family walk with Rhodes this afternoon, taking in all the beauty of this neighborhood. It's amazing that this dog has transformed my husband into a man who enjoys taking walks. Rhodes is stealing hearts, for sure. One guy actually backed up his vehicle and got out to admire Rhodes, telling us that his girlfriend forced him to compromise and get a vizsla, rather than a Ridgeback, as he had hoped. Another guy spoke to us through his car window amid the traffic that characterizes this area, remarking about our "gorgeous dog".

After a brief trip to the mall with Craig for a new cell phone plan and some clothes for the children, I returned to assist Morgan in making spinach calzones. Behold:

Now, I'm off to enjoy one of the Oatmeal Scotchies that Morgan made yesterday, along with a piece of Scharffenberger chocolate.



  1. I can totally relate to searching for exotic fare - I am having a hard time finding tomato paste for sloppy joes! hehe!

  2. What a productive day ya'll had as a family. :) Thank you so much for your lovely hospitality and generosity this past Friday-I so enjoyed our visit!! :)

  3. I love you dedication to blogging about all things food... keep up the good blogging!!!

  4. I am SO excited about those natural cleaners! I look forward to coming home and using them. :)

    I had to laugh because Graham told me on Skype that you guys had Turkish coffee and he said, "AND CAELYN!!! Dad even allowed Gabby to have it!"... Abel looked at that picture just now and said, "Do you guys like that because you are half Indian?" 1/2 and 1/32 (if even that) are pretty close, I guess... They are both fractions. ;)

    I miss you all and was super excited looking through all the pictures. That is fantabulous that you are making kefir. Keep it up, Mom! I am so proud of you! Love you lots!

    Most Affectionately,
    Your Daughter

  5. OH! I forgot to say that I laughed when you said the decoy from the Kretchmar's pastries were the Steelers cookies... I am YOUR daughter. You have the advantage since I am not there to watch and wait to see what you are ordering or having. hehe I LOVE YOU!!!

  6. I am just loving your blog! What great ideas!