Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Menu

So much more than the menu happened this shabbos, but here, at least, is the menu! :)

fish cakes
caesar salad
beef roast
chicken & broccoli kugel (from a sheva brachos earlier in the week)
roasted asparagus
roasted potatoes
roasted carrots and zucchini
brownies (from friends!)

baba ghanouj
balsamic roasted mushrooms
barley with chimichurri sauce
meatballs with apricot curry sauce (just took duck sauce and added curry powder!)
Irish beef stew (meat, can of beer, can of tomato paste, 2 cups brown rice, water - LOOK, a recipe!)
curried carrot pear salad*
green salad
strawberry kiwi sorbet
almond meringue cookies*

We had 12 people for dinner and 18 for lunch. Really good company!


Curried Carrot Pear Salad
8 large carrots, shredded
2 pears, chopped
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 T. curry powder
2 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 cup olive oil

(This was YUMMY, light, and very refreshing. Definitely a keeper.)

Almond Meringues

16 ounces almond paste
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Break up the almond paste in a food processor with a few pulses. Add sugar. Whip egg whites and combine with almond paste. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper (I usually lightly grease the pan and the paper). Drop spoonfuls of batter onto sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes, then leave in oven to dry out (turn off oven).

(Easy, and very delicious. I think I'll make my own nut paste and do this over pesach too.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Menu

So ready for shabbos. It's been a very, very full week...

For dinner:

roasted chicken stuffed w/lemon and garlic
mashed potatoes
roasted cabbage
roasted cauliflower
green salad (from the garden!)
steamed spinach
apple rhubarb crisp

For lunch:

surimi wonton salad
Irish beef stew
sausage rice eggplant salad
roasted peppers
coleslaw (w/rice vinegar/sesame oil/sesame seeds)
pumpkin kugel
apple rhubarb crisp

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Beach!

Today we went to the beach for the first time in quite a while. Dean came home early and we ate a little dinner and left around 5:30. It was a lovely day. The water was a bit cool at first, but they quickly got used to it (maybe 70?). Amirah got to fly her new kite and our old kite. The beach felt pretty perfect.


A few weeks ago, we began our study of botany. Given the state of the garden, and the beautiful spring that arrived in Savannah last month, the timing is perfect. I've started a new schedule of making every other Wednesday dedicated to botany and history in the morning (after davening/parsha) and music and art in the afternoons. It's so hard to squeeze these in during the week. Having a good chunk of time dedicated periodically to these subjects makes me much less worried that we won't have time for them! (Of course, yesterday was Tuesday, but normally we do this on Wednesday!)

Yesterday, we dissected camellias and identified the sepals/calyx, petals/corolla, stamen (anther/filament), carpels (stigma/style/ovary/ovule), and pollen. Then we took tiny pieces of each part and prepared slides for the microscope. It was so interesting to look at all the different parts up close. I also had some purchased slides of various pollens, spores, and plant parts, so we looked at those too. FUN!

I'm not sure we've ever even used the microscope since we got here (it was Dean's for college/grad school), and I sure hope to make more use of it. So interesting.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Our First Eggs!

This morning, Amirah went to check to see if we had any eggs yet. The chickens are 21-1/2 weeks old and typically this breed lays between 16 and 20 weeks. She came back to report that there were no eggs, but that one of the chickens was squatting in the nest box. "Isn't that weird, mama? Wait! Squatting!" Shrieking, she ran back outside. Sure enough, she came back excitedly bearing our first egg. First eggs are smaller than a normal egg, so we scrambled it and each had one dainty bite. Everyone pronounced it delicious. It definitely had a better, more complex taste. Yum.

In the mid-afternoon, I heard quite a ruckus (lots of pa-KAWKs) and thought for sure another egg had landed. But no, no egg in the nest box. But an hour later I noticed one on the floor of the run! Egg number two had arrived! Very exciting, and now regular trips to the nest boxes will be a welcome part of our morning routine.

Our first brown egg next to a grocery store egg. Dainty! For now...

Belated Purim Pictures

We had such a fun Purim. B"H three of them wanted to be the same thing as last year, and Amirah's costume was pretty simple. Avi was Mordechai, with sackcloth and ashes. Eli was King Achashverosh, but this year we added the royal red cape and a new crown. Raizel was Queen Vashti by night and Queen Esther by day. Our shaloch manos were fun and simple - a cranberry muffin, some yummy (VERY dairy) caramel, a juice, and, um one other thing? Guess it's been a while already! :)






Friday, March 16, 2012

The Menu

Well... there isn't one!

Dinner is being brought to us. I'm just making challah and a salad or two.

And we're out for lunch.

Mommy dance time. And a little extra time to do a little more room re-organizing after the room shifts. YAY!

Good shabbos, all!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Great Dinner

WARNING: All measurements are my best guess! :)

Tonight, I took some turkey necks I had bought a month or so ago and boiled them with onion and garlic to make a broth (8 cups). After straining it, I added rice noodles, soy sauce (2 T.), and sesame oil (1 T.). It was good, but a little bland. I knew the kids would like it best that way, but I like to jazz things up. So I decided to make a kind of "pesto" for us to spoon into our own bowl. Here's about what I came up with: 3 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 preserved lemon, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1 T. lime juice, 1 T. olive oil, salt to taste. A spoon of this made the soup delicious!

Along with it, we had steamed soybeans, and roasted plantains, carrots, and cauliflower. Everyone was actually enthusiastic! And Eli, who likes very few things, really liked the soy beans. He now has soybeans and broccoli in his repertoire of foods that make me really happy to see him eat.

So, there. A recipe. I hope...

Room Switch

We switched everyone's bedrooms around (except ours) and they are all very happy with the changes! Raizel is now in the formal learning room. I had to keep the narrow, deep closet for our materials but she has a gigantic chest of drawers that has plenty of room for all of her clothes. She also still has the piano in her room, but she doesn't mind. She's very happy.

Amirah is in the smaller bedroom where the boys used to be. She is blissed out in her own, private space, reading and listening to classical music. We're hoping to paint it before too long since the colors in there (orange and brown) are pretty bleah.

And the boys now have the biggest bedroom in the house. The girls had two full-sized beds in there. The boys have a twin bunkbed, so the room has much more space in it now. They're very happy to have room for more building and WWII battle scenes.

It took a bit of shlepping but it was really worth it. Now if Amirah loses patience with Raizel she can escape to her own retreat room and be by herself. And Raizel feels very grown-up to be sleeping in her very own room. A good move all around!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Loving the IRS

Well, I do love the fact that they (weirdly) made our adoption expenses into a refundable tax credit. But I do NOT love the fact that we sent in our tax forms, then sent the information in again at their request, and then were told that we would be charged $4,000 for filing an inaccurate return, and that the deduction was disallowed. CHUTZPAH!

So, what to do?

1) I got the number for a personal contact at the IRS Counsel's office for a woman who helped to draft the revenue procedures for the Adoption Tax Credit. She has helped other adoptive families who were rejected and fined by the IRS, so I hope she'll be able to help us too.

2) You can bet my congressman is going to hear about this one! They will advocate for people who require assistance to resolve issues with various federal institutions. This will be our #2 plan.

3) There's also the local IRS tax office (in Savannah), and the taxpayers advocacy group (with staff in Atlanta) that is part of the IRS.

Surely, one of these will enable us to resolve this in a timely matter. GOOD GRIEF!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Intense Day

It was a full day today! Six hours of learning (minus lunch!), two hours of gardening (planted pinto and soy beans), dinner, two hours of spontaneous room-switching, followed by two hours of purim baking and kitchen cleaning. The room-switching wasn't entirely spontaneous, since we had talked about switching the kids' rooms around. I just hadn't planned on doing it tonight, but what better way to procrastinate purim preparations?

Amirah is now in the small bedroom, blissfully A-L-O-N-E. We moved the boys into the big bedroom where Raizel is right now too. As soon as we can, we're moving her to the learning room which won't be our learning room any more. Everyone gravitates to the more spacious-feeling dining room table anyway. I'll move a couple of bookshelves out into our bedroom and that should work fine for her room. Hopefully, we'll be able to have a window put in that room that looks over the garden. Right now there's just the sliding glass door. Fortunately, that room stays nice and cool over the summer, so even without a window it should be fine. We'll put the art table in the laundry/workshop room and that should take care of it!

The boys are very excited about their new bigger room. Since they're in bunk beds they will have a really big play space in there. Raizel is also very happily looking forward to being in her new bedroom. So everyone wins! I'm hoping Amirah will be able to retain her calm demeanor more often, even when bugged by little siblings, now that she has her own refuge.

And my favorite news of the day - with all this stooping, planting, shoveling, hauling, furniture-moving, cooking, and cleaning, my back has not one ache! I had just taken it for granted that stooping over and planting things was just one of those things that made my back hurt. Just a little, but there was definitely an ache. I have a new mattress topper that I got at Sam's Club for my bed, a three-inch layer of memory foam. I usually wake up with a backache if I'm in bed for more than seven hours. Not this morning! I'm hoping that this change will stay and I can have a long shabbos nighttime sleep without waking up feeling yucky.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Menu

For dinner...

We're out!

I'm bringing wine and apple kugel.

And for lunch...

pastrami sandwiches on baguettes
carrot ginger kugel
corn cranberry kugel
roasted eggplant/tomato/zucchini/red pepper/onion/garlic/preserved lemons
apple coleslaw
beef barley stew
chocolate brownie trifle (from a friend!)

A lot of people (well, I should qualify that... 3 or 4 out of the 10 or 11 people who read this!) have asked for recipes, and I want to get better at posting them. The truth is, I don't really use recipes (well, as suggestions I do!), and I don't really measure unless I'm baking a cake. The upside is that it's much quicker to just storm through the kitchen throwing things together. The downside is that we so very often have something that really tastes good and we just KNOW that we will never get to have it again. I also can't pass on the good ones to others, so I'm hoping to make a wee bit of effort in that area. :)

Good shabbos!!!

New Use for Curds

So wonderful, I just have to try it...

Casein Paint with Lime

Yields about 1 quart

1 gallon nonfat milk
2 1/2 ounces “Type S” lime (dry powder available at hardware stores)
2 1/2 cups water
Natural earth pigment (more or less depending on desired color)
6 cups filler (usually whiting)

  1. Leave milk in a warm place for a few days to curdle. Then pour through a colander lined with cheesecloth. You should have about 2 cups of curds. The whey can be composted.
  2. Mix curds and lime powder in a blender. Add a little water if the mixture isn’t blending well. Strain to remove any lumps.
  3. Add water to the binder immediately after it is prepared.
  4. Dampen and crush pigments. Add them to the mixture a little at a time until desired color intensity is achieved.
  5. Stir in filler.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I love cultured buttermilk, and it's very easy to make your own. I did this a few years ago, but hadn't in a long time and I'd really forgotten how delicious it is. I bought some with live cultures, used it for drinking and for pancakes, then filled the not-quite-empty container up with milk and let it sit out on the counter for 12 hours or so. YUM. I'm on batch number four and it's still going strong. Try it! :)