Friday, May 27, 2011

Theory Thursday: Burning Marshmallows

In our graham cracker post, I talked about how much Jake loves roasting marshmallows. Absolutely loves it. I think he likes roasting them more than eating them . . . maybe. 

But like I said, it's not really roasting, but burning. He plunges the stick with the marshmallow straight into the fire, intent on setting it ablaze. Once the marshmallow is engulfed in flames, he laughs an almost evil laugh. He stares at the helpless marshmallow as it slowly melts and disintegrates into nothingness. He then turns to grab his next victim from the bag.

It really is a very scientific process. We documented it for those who have never had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon for themselves. 

Or maybe it's because Jake enjoys it so much.

Don't worry, Leighton and I were both right there with him. We also had a bucket of water next to us. No one was harmed in the making of this documentary.

I cannot guarantee the same about the marshmallow.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Make It Monday: Coffee Filter Butterflies

Coffee filters are cheap, easily accessible, and versatile. They are also so fun!

coffee filters                                            googly eyes 
markers                                                  pipe cleaners
clothes pins                                            glue  
spray bottle of water                               newspaper

Place all the supplies on the table and take a picture.

Color, color, color the coffee filters. The more color the better.

Use the spray bottle to spritz the filter with water.

Take time to spray yourself.

. . . or your sister.

The water makes the colors bleed and run on the filter.  The spray bottle was definitely their favorite part. Alyssa would scribble a single mark on a coffee filter and ask to spray it. Make sure you have lots of newspaper handy. I covered the table in a few layers and added more periodically throughout the activity. I also had to refill the spray bottle.  If you douse the filter with too much water, the color will run off. It did not matter how many times I tried to explain this to them though. Did I mention they liked the spraying part?

Once the filters dry, which will take a looong time unless you remove them from their personal pool of water, begin assembling the butterflies.

Pinch the filter in the middle and clip it with the clothes pin. Glue on  pop-poms, eyes, and antennae.

Fly your butterfly around.

Or just show it off.
While you are assembling the butterflies, do not allow the baby at the table. If you do, he might knock over a cup of water, spilling it all over the coffee filters again. Since you will have already put the newspapers into the recycle bin, you will set the wet filters on the counter so you can wipe up the table and floor. Then, you will notice the lovely Easter egg decorations that now adorn your kitchen counter because the marker was reactivated.

Then, you will call your mom and thank her for introducing you to Soft Scrub because that is the only thing that removes marks from your kitchen counter.

At least, I imagine that is what would happen if the baby is at the table. I can't say for certain.
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Wordless Wednesday: 5/11/11

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Wordless Wednesday: 5/25/11

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Tasty Tuesday: Graham Crackers

Homemade graham crackers? Yes, it's true!

1 cup whole wheat flour                                 1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour                                   1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup  sugar                                                1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt                                            2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon                                     additional milk for glaze
1 teaspoon baking powder                             cinnamon-sugar (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat egg till light, then add oil, honey and 2 tablespoons milk. Stir into dry ingredients until you have a fairly stiff dough, adding additional milk if necessary. Wrap dough in waxed paper and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently until it holds together. Roll dough out till it's about 1/16-inch thick; make sure rolling surface is well-floured, or you'll have trouble transferring crackers to baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

3. Cut dough into 3-inch squares, prick each square several times with a fork, and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush the tops with milk, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar if you're so inclined, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crackers are lightly browned. Remove crackers from oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack, and cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen graham crackers. 

These crackers don't included ingredients like soy lecithin, malted cereal syrup, or sulfite and enzymes.

Apparently, they don't included milk either, cause it's not in the picture.

Measure your sugar, making sure to spill some on the counter.

Don't forget to clean up your mess!

Squeeze the honey into a measuring cup.

Squeeze the honey into your mouth.

He told me, "It doesn't taste like it does in the movies."

That didn't stop him from drinking half the bottle.

Mix some of the dry ingredients into the wet.

At this point, Jake said, "It doesn't look like it would taste delicious."

Continue mixing the dough. 

Look at that muscle action! Baking is strenuous work.

Taste the dough.

Eat more dough.

Keep shoveling dough into your mouth until your mom kicks you out of the kitchen.

Plop the dough onto wax paper. Wrap it up and toss it in the fridge.

This is a very active recipe. Please, consult your doctor before starting this fitness program.

After it's chilled roll it out with LOTS of flour. We don't want another repeat of the noodles glued to the counter, do we???

We ended up with glued dough anyway . . . again. I forgot the tip about small batches. Some people never learn. 

Fool me once, shame on you, Dough! Fool me twice, shame on me.

Use a ruler to measure the thickness of your dough.

Cut out some fun shapes . . .

Peirce the pieces with a fork . . .

Brush on some milk . . . .

. . . and sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar to your heart's content.

I eventually gave up with trying to pry the dough from its permanent home on the counter while still attempting to maintain the shape of each cracker. We just rolled the dough directly on the cookie sheet. Guess what? No sticking! The second half we didn't even bother cutting, but made one giant 10" graham cracker.

I put the cookie sheets in the oven and set the timer for the minimum bake time of 15 minutes. I then proceeded to make dinner. 




Turn around approximately 14 minutes later and see blackened graham crackers.

Mmm, appetizing. I'm thinking about calling them chocolate graham crackers. That's why they're so dark. Think anyone will buy it?

They really don't taste bad. Quite the compliment, I know. Not all of them came out quite this dark though. The kids have been eating them and seem to like them. 

Of course, we had to have a fire last night to make s'mores and try out our homemade crackers.

Jake likes to catch the marshmallows on fire just to watch them burn. He even likes the burnt taste. Yech. I've explained art of marshmallow roasting. This is not it. This poor marshmallow will forever bear the shame of these burn marks scarring its surface.

How sad.

It's a good thing it was eaten so it could quickly forget its misery.

These graham crackers are not as light and fluffy as store bought ones. These are crisp and crunchy. They do have a good flavor, though I still prefer Honey Maid. It was fun making them, but I'm sure we'll stick with coupons and sales instead of flour and a rolling pin. 

And it did give us an excuse to sit by the fire as a family and roast burn some marshmallows.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Make It Monday: Tissue Paper Butterflies

This craft has many appealing qualities: simple, frugal, colorful, fun, little-cleanup. And it even develops fine motor skills in many ways??? What are we waiting for? Let's make some butterflies!

Cut up some tissue paper.

* Note to self: Buy another pair of good children's scissors so the 3-year-old doesn't have to use the big adult scissors since her brother won't give up his red ones.

 The size and shape of the pieces don't matter.

Scrunch up a piece of tissue paper and dip it into glue.

You could also squeeze the glue directly on your picture and place the tissue paper ball on top. But do you recall Alyssa and her obsession with the glue bottle here and here??? Besides, dipping was fun and different.

Place the gluey tissue paper onto an outline of a butterfly.

Jake had early plans of making an entirely red butterfly. Surprise, surprise. He did change his mind though and went the multicolored route.

We hung the finished pictures in the kitchen to proudly display.

What's that? The picture on the top? No, Zac didn't make one. You didn't think I let them have all the fun, did you? Usually I stand back and take picture after picture while they craft away. This time, I set the camera aside and joined in!

This project will work great for any occasion or picture. Christmas tree, Easter egg, American flag, flower, jack-o-lantern, pizza . . . the possibilities are endless and fun! 

Go grab some tissue paper and make a pretty picture to hang in your kitchen!
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Pantry Surprise 5/23/11

Here we are again with a Pantry Surprise that does not take place in the pantry . . .

We recently got a new pastor at church and celebrated last night with a pounding. (Everyone thinks it's called that because you're supposed to bring pounds and pounds of food and household supplies. Really though, it's called that because you gain pounds and pounds from eating so much! Everyone knows Baptists have food at every function. I'm sure it's in the Bible somewhere.) I made brownies with peanut butter frosting to take. I had just enough time to let the brownies cool, make the frosting, plop it on top, cut them up, and put throw 'em on a plate before rushing out the door to choir practice. You'd think being married to the choir director would give me a time cushion. You'd be wrong. 

Why didn't I make them Saturday night? Good question. And one that will be answered in a different post. 

All that to say that I didn't have the time to cover the brownies (or the extra frosting) before fleeing the house. I know this picture will probably make my mom cringe. But, it was either this or skip practice and that would make her cringe even more. 

The director too.

 We got home last night and found this in the refrigerator. Not sure how this invitation made its way into the pan. I mean, I know the brownies were delicious, and I'm sure Belle, Cinderella, and Ariel would love to eat them. (Not so sure they'd still fit in their dresses though.)  But, how did it get from the top of the fridge into the fridge?

Leighton is the only other one who can reach that high. Either it was him, or someone sneaked into our house while we were gone just to cause confusion, or Tinkerbell flew her friends into the pan to satisfy their brownie cravings.

I'm almost tempted to believe the latter. 

Women need their chocolate. After all, what are friends for???

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Their First Tigers Game!

The company that I work for, Blue Star Inc., has season tickets to the Detroit Tigers. Usually the bosses use the tickets for customers or for their own families, but every so often they offer the tickets to an employee. This was the case this past Tuesday. I got back from one of my runs and I was asked why I wasn't taking my wife and kids to the Tiger's game. My reply was simple, "I don't have tickets." The response was just as simple, "You do if you want them." So I was given four tickets to the Tigers vs. Blue Jays game. The seats aren't bad either; just to the outside of first base on the end of the ninth row. A couple years ago they gave me tickets to Tigers vs. Rays and we sat right behind third base. That time we invited another couple from the church to go with us, this time we took Jake and Alyssa.

If you don't live in the Detroit area you wouldn't know that it's been doing a lot of raining here lately. But the rain has usually been in the morning and clearing later in the day. The game was to start at 7:05 so I figured all would be well, just a little chilly due to the overcast skies. So we grabbed a couple blankets and three umbrellas just in case.

I waited a couple of hours after work to ask the kids if they wanted to go. When I finally did ask they both got really excited. Then Jake asked, "Do we get to play?" When we told him no he was heart broken and said he wanted to go to Grandma's house with Zac. We managed to convince him that he was gonna have fun. We did make the mistake of telling him that he could take his ball glove and might catch a ball. He was then determined that he was coming home with a ball from the park.

We dropped Zac off at Grandma's and headed for the D. When we got half way there it started pouring. I was convinced it would just pass over. And that is why I drive a truck and don't guess the weather. Only the pouring of the rain passed, it continued a heavy drizzle but we did it anyway. We parked at Ford Field and walked to Comerica Park where the Tigers play. Jake had his umbrella, Erika had her umbrella, and I had mine; along with the cooler and Alyssa. The not so short walk to the ballpark took even longer in the rain.

Once we got in the park we immediately had to stop to try and get what we were carrying situated. This we did in the rain, why? I'm not sure but we survived and the kids enjoyed it. Jake more than Alyssa I think. She had a little more trouble keeping the umbrella up.

As we worked our way around to our seats we stopped a couple of times to rest and watched a few of the side games going on. The first stop was right behind where the television cameras were. There was a gap in the fence that Jake seemed to enjoy looking out at the field.

This was in case you didn't notice the rain and were wondering why the game hadn't started yet.
At one point I asked Jake if he was having fun yet. He slowly began to nod his head then stopped and very definitively said, "Well, no." But when we asked him as we were leaving he had definitely had fun. The two of them had a blast umbrella-sword fighting and wrestling with each other. All while trying to avoid hitting anyone else who was sheltering from the rain. We ended up hanging out for about an hour after the supposed start time. We decided that they probably were not going to play so we headed back to Grandma's. Shortly after we left they called the game and rescheduled. So we will be headed back to Comerica Park on June 27 to try again to take the kids for their first Tigers game. But even without any pitches thrown or bats swung we had fun this time.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pantry Surprise 5/18/11

This one doesn't come from my own personal pantry . . .

But is in my own personal house. 

Usually, my surprise is in finding a toy in my pantry, not real food in Alyssa's play kitchen. I was less-than-thrilled to see a container of chip dip dumped on her carpet. We're not sure if  Zac or Alyssa was the culprit. 

But we are sure that it was messy. 

And stinky. 

Bacon-horseradish is not a scent you want lingering in your carpet. Surprise!
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Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Shortcake

My favorite dessert when I was a little girl was strawberry shortcake. It has so many wonderful flavors that meld to make one glorious treat. The rich, dense cake; the cold, soft ice cream; the sweet, juicy, strawberries; the light, fluffy cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I was even obsessed with the character Strawberry Shortcake. All these years later, so is my daughter. She was ecstatic to make this dessert.

A friend of mine raves about Alton Brown's pound cake. Not that she's ever eaten a cake that he's made (at least I don't think so!), but she's used his recipe multiple times for her own family. Now I see why. 

I was fresh out of real vanilla extract. Shh, don't tell Alton.

Jake was in his glory cracking 9 eggs.

Into the mixer for you. Just another casualty of the baking war.

Excited to get the beater all to himself since the other two were sleeping.

Look at that batter! Isn't it beautiful?

 And what would strawberry shortcake be without homemade ice cream??? Mediocre, that's what.

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk                   2 cups heavy cream
3/4 sugar                               1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch salt

In a medium bowl, use a handmixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or overnight. Freeze according to manufacture's instructions. Place in the freezer for 2 hours for a firmer cream.

What's going on???

Mash some strawberries, top with whipped cream, and there you have it! Delicious strawberry shortcake. Now, go make some for yourself. You deserve it!

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