Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spreading Love through the Tummy

What do most 3yo's want to dress up as for Halloween? Well, their hero's of course. Who would I dress up as.... the fasted easiest costume I could come up with..... ME!! Throw some sweats (or the infamous footie pjs) on and an apron, there you go, stay at home mom! Mitchell, he was tough. When October hit I asked him what he would like to dress up as and he said RAAAAWR.  For those of you that don't know that's a monster. So i entertained the idea and the next time we were at K-Mart we checked out the monster costume.  As soon as he saw the monster costume he quickly said no and moved on to Buzz, Woody, and Minnie Mouse. Certainly Minnie Mouse was out so I figured we'll do Mickey Mouse. Grab a set of black sweats and a little Fleece in red, white, and yellow, and make him a costume. A week or so after i had decided I was going to do this, his dad was off and hi life revolved around dad and on numerous occasions I was told to GO AWAY by my 3yo.  Not bad, I had a little time to myself and was A-OK with that. As I thought more about it I started to think.... his dad is his hero, why can't he be dad for Halloween. When we were in TX one of Joey's friends gave Mitchell a new hard hat, and a couple pairs of the coveralls they wear.  (She was super tiny, I doubt one would fit around one of my legs, but certainly too big for Mitchell.) So took the patches and reflective off one coverall and searched online for royal blue sweats and finally found some at a random site. When they came I procrastinated in putting it all together, I am pregnant (I think I just like saying that) and soooo tired all the time.  The day before a local shopping center did their trick or treating i got to work and dusted off the sewing machine and put it all together.  With a little help from dad in placement of patches and reflective I got it put together in less than an hour.  This is what my fracin child looked like

I had the choice to dress up myself but wasn't really feeling it, Who REALLY wants to spend as little as $30 , and as much as $100 on something to wear once.  Really, this isn't a wedding or anything really special. So I thought about it and while putting dvd's away I came across Bambi. So who was I you ask..... 

 Why Flower of course. I know I'm an adult.  Why on earth would i dress up in something so silly for Halloween.  Well.  I'll tell you why. My child liked it and we had a blast all day.  It made people smile and made me feel good that I could have fun with my son even though I felt awfully silly.  I had intentions of wearing it to his school and to lunch with a group of moms and their kids, but some how the day got super hectic and I never had the opportunity to get home to shower and change.  So I ended up in this costume ALL day until 8pm.  Yes my face is still burning a little from scrubbing the paint off. 

Another thing about Halloween in NY (our first) is OMG it was freaking C-O-L-D!!  Cold to the point of no matter how much hot cider we got into us it was STILL cold. I caught Mitchell shivering a few times and asked if he was cold. He said NO!  and ran  off .  I guess he thought I was going to make him go home but I just wanted to put a coat on him.  

One thing we REALLY like in this house when it's cold, and when it's not, is Biscuits and Gravy.  No not S.O.S. (shit on shingles, gravy on toast) or Chipped beef Gravy (flavorless chipped beef gravy over what ever bread you have) But good old fashioned Biscuits and Gravy. 

To make you need 

  • 1 cheep fatty chub of hot sausage - Tennessee Pride is our fav but we can't find it here in NY
  • a few tablespoons of flour 
  • whole milk 
  • Biscuits of choice (frozen grands for me) 
  • Salt and Pepper 

A few things before we start If you can only find the name brand sausage, it's OK.  Because it has a lower fat ratio you will have to add butter before making the rue.  If you don't get hot keep in mind you will want to add spices to the gravy.  Hot mixed with all the milk only amounts to great flavor and no heat. You can certainly make your own biscuits but that is one thing I have NEVER been good at, making any sort of bread. I get a big bag of frozen Grands from Sam's cause, well let's face it, we are country, we LOVE our B&G! Salt and pepper is to taste, some people like it more salty and some like it more peppery. Personally, I love it with a little salt and my gravy heavily peppered.  I cook the gravy in a frying pan/saute pan. If you have a non stick pan, like me, pick up a silicone coated whisk. WELL WORTH THE INVESTMENT.  It has saved my pan!  Lets start 

  • Cook your biscuits 

  • Cook up your sausage and drain the fat out.  Put the cooked sausage aside and return the fat back to the pan. I put the sausage into what ever I am serving the Gravy out of.

  •  Let it heat up but not smoke I cook on medium heat. (this is where I add the pepper so that the heat of the fat releases the oils AKA flavor, I generally start with about a tablespoon, i like it peppery)

  • This is the most important part!! Slowly add the flour and Whisk while adding it. You want to have equal parts Fat and flour(I prefer a little more fat than flour so I add butter to the fat and let it melt. I generally have about 1/4 cup fat and 2-3 tablespoons flour. This is called a Rue. You cannot add flour directly to the milk as it will clump and not cook properly and taste like uncooked flour.... YUCK!  Cooking the flour in the fat allows the gluten to activate so it thickens the gravy. When you add the flour it will look clumpy but keep whisking, as the flour cooks it will resemble thick  brown glue. When it gets to this point you are good to go.  If you think you have too much flour add a tablespoon of butter, whisk while it is melting.  If you think you have too much fat at a sprinkle of flour at a time and let it cook. 

  • Add Milk, about a 1/2 cup at a time and whisk until it's combined and continue to add milk 1/2 cup at a time until you have the amount you want. I generally add enough (total) so that when I whisk it doesn't overflow the pan. (although it sometimes happens) When adding the milk, it'll bubble then resemble a less thick brown glue.  When it gets to this point add a little more and repeat the whisking. Each time you add more  it will be a little less thick.  When you have all the milk added you can lay off the whisking a little, but you still need to whisk it often to move the gravy around the pan and make sure it's not burning on the bottom. When you have added the amount of milk you want bring let it come to a boil (while whisking often).  as soon as it comes to a boil remove it from the heat.

  • Taste your gravy when you think it is done, adjust the salt and pepper. This is the point when I add the salt. Sometimes sausage is saltier than you expect.  I like it to have a slight salt taste, but not too salty.  When I bring it for brunch I bring a salt shaker because everyone is different when it comes to salt.  

  • Once it taste like you want it, pour over the sausage or add the sausage back into the pan, I NEVER have room in my pan for the sausage, so I put the sausage into a mixing bowl and pour the gravy over it.  

A few more things, this is not like baking, there is no exact science to it. Some times you could need more fat and sometimes you could need less flour. Making B&G is more so about knowing what the gravy wants and how to give it to it.  It's OK if your gravy burns a little just don't scrape the burned stuff off the bottom of the pan, until your cleaning it. When you are whisking it the bottom of the pan will feel different. When you  perfect the gravy, have people over and share it with them, Send it to work with your hubby, and bring it for church breakfasts.  This is one of those hearty meals that people LOVE when you share with them.  Here in NY I haven't met many people  (really anybody) that can make it like it's made in the south. There are a few people that want to learn how to make it so this tutorial is for them.  But if you still need/want a hands on lesson please feel free to get in touch with me. If you have kids, the play room is next to the kitchen.  I LOVE to cook with other people and to teach people how to cook yummy food for their friends and family. This meal is about spreading love through the tummy.  

Oh it freezes well also so make a super big batch and freeze it in individual servings. 

One more thing is you can leave out the sausage and cook the rue with bacon fat, lard, or butter.  Follow everything else, put a crap ton of pepper in it, and you have peppered gravy for things like country fried steak and country fried gravy.  Some people like peppered gravy over French Fries (not me).  Some people think in the south they put Gravy on EVERYTHING and for the most part they are correct. :-D 

Pics to come tomorrow night or Thursday, depends on how tired I am after making it.  I will be making it for  the hubster's crew, MOPs, and dinner for my lovey guys. So it'll be a crock pot full .... AGAIN!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blessing out of the blue!

Blessing come from out of blue sometimes and when we least expect.  A few of the blessings  I have received, by the grace of God, are heart warming, exciting, and very fun.  When we were transferred to NY we new there would be some hesitation in accepting a fracing family due to the resistance to it in NY.  I didn't have high hopes of being accepted by other Christian moms, Church families, and neighbors.  In Tx I met a couple moms that I connected with but we has such different lives that we never really had the opportunity to get together. When we did they seemed to be few and too far in between. Sometimes I felt alone and secluded with Joey being out of town all the time. I also felt guilty that, most of the time, it was just Mitchell and I and that I just didn't fit in with other groups of moms.  When we got to NY I started Mitchell in Preschool at a local church, joined 3, yes 3, MOPs groups, and found a church.  The first weeks of preschool I didn't meet any of the moms but had seen one of the moms at a MOPs group 30 minutes away. She (AM) seemed a little shy and I, not knowing people, was a little shy to talk to her. At a local MOPs group I met a few other moms and one seemed to be a little crazy, ok a little more than crazy, like me. We got to talking and realized our boys went to the same school! I was invited to go with some of the other moms to go to Dunkin Doughnuts and the salvation army (yes things like that excite me, especially when it's girl time) on wednesdays while the kids are in school and also met some other moms.  I quickly became friends with DW. She and I were talking about the mom that seemed a little shy and we decided we were going to personally invite her to the local MOPs group.  So I got to looking and found her on FB and messaged her.  Sometimes I have all the confidence in the world if I am not face to face. The next day was Wednesday, SalVal (as DW Calls it) and Dunkin D. We saw AM and brought her big guy in to school so she could stay in the car with her 2 little ones. She had things to do that morning so it was just DW and I for Dunkin D. When we were walking out of the school DW introduced me to another Momma, AB.  All 3 mommas are SUPER sweet and fun to talk to.  Always LOTS of laughing and silliness.  Today was trick-or-treating at a local shopping center and I invited DW.  She brought her boys and they had a BLAST. DW and I did also! Mitchell took his friend to all the stores and showed him where to get the candy and it was so sweet.  I am very proud his loving gentleness and hope he never looses the love he has for others.  After trick-or-treating the boys went with their dads, and DW and I went to a craft fair. ALONE! That's right NO KIDS.  I love my son but sometimes need chick time, as we all do sometimes! We were at the craft fair for the last hour and saw AZ there when we first walked in. I also saw another friend and her older daughter. I bought an apron (will post pics soon) The girls just KNEW i was going to buy it, even before I did.  We had so much fun just looking at the apron. We closed the craft fair down, and headed to the parking lot, DW and I were going to get our nails done.  All 3 of us ended up hanging out in the parking lot for almost 2 hours.  We had so much fun just talking.  JOey teased me about us hiding from the kids.  It was so nice to do something with another momma and enjoy good company and fellowship.  Blessings really do come where less expected.  Today I had a great time and realized on the way home that it was only by the grace of God that we were brought together as friends. Between the 3 of us there are 6 boys, 4, 4, 3, 2, 4mo, and 3mo. We are all either stay at home or work at home momma's.  I love that we can talk about girl things, church, the kids, positive things, and laugh and have a good time while doing it. It's been so long since I have had connections and friends like this and, for the first time in my married life, realized what it really means to have girl time. 

So now I sit here in the bed while Mitchell draws on a storage tub with chalk writting this blog. This may seem like something so simple for some but it's a big deal.  I was really worried about sitting in my house all winter with no friends and no one to connect with.  Now I look forward to winter. I look forward to play dates. and I look forward to Wednesdays. I look forward to all this because God Blessed me!!! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

WOO HOO We are feeling better

Mitchell has been very sick for the last week.  He's still feeling the remnants of it but doing so much better.  After talking to other moms at his preschool it seems to be going around but he had it pretty bad.  I have not been sleeping all that much and last night was another one of those nights.  But my wonderful husband sent me to bed this afternoon and i got a couple hours of sleep. 

I finally got my Crafting area organized almost all the way. This means I can finish the few  many projects I have wanted to work on the last month and just no where to do them. The first thing to finish is Mitchell's Halloween costume and I am going to work on that today since there are things going on tomorrow he needs it for.. just in time.  Joey picked up a small rolling cart to store all my goodies on and also a lamp with a mega bright light. I love it! Those were the 2 main issues in the cave. 

Ok so on to the long overdue hot cocoa mix recipe: 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Hot water 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. Fill your mug one third full with the mixture and pour in half hot water. Stir stir well. Fill the rest with hot water.  Or just put the mix in your mug, fill with 1/2 hot water, stir, fill the rest of the way and nuke. then add marshmallows!! 
Seal the rest in an airtight container.  We use old sketti sauce jars and the like. You could also put them in mason jars with fancyfied  lids and a tag and a few marshmallows in a bag on the side for gifts. We LOVE this mix and won't buy hot cocoa mix from the grocery gettin place again! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Time for Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows..... yup it's gettin cold up here

So yesterday was a whirlwind of stuff to do.  You know, get food so we don't starve, school, doctor's appointment, Dunkin D with other school moms, and my fav of the month MOPs!  I was up way too early, 310, and so was Mitchell, 4, thanks to daddy's need to slap the alarms for an hour before he gets up.  We love him anyway! Mitchell and I slept all night and got up around 9 this morning. He slept almost 12 hours! WOO HOO!!!!  So now I know today is going to be a good day. We got up and made breakfast and sat to watch a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and check emails. I sat here and thought Hot Damn it's cold!! I went to get my hot cocoa mix and make a glass only to realize i have no marshmallows..... WHAT?!?!?? How can this be.  We all know you can't have hot cocoa without marshmallows. My mom is the only one that doesn't get that, but she's also a black coffee drinker and doesn't like sweets, but thinks my marshmallows are yummy! So I got to to gettin and started making them.  This is a tutorial on how to make the marshmallows. They look better than last time, fluffier and filled the pan up more.  The original recipe calls for cornstarch and a stand mixer. I don't like the taste of cornstarch, even mixed with powdered sugar, and I don't own a stand mixer, BUT i have a hand mixer. My hand mixer isn't my mom's hand mixer and the beaters aren't the old fashioned looking ones.  It's 4 wire like thingies that make up the beater.  I used the whisk attatchment last time and it actually separated so i tried the beaters this time and it worked out great.  This is a small spin off Alton Brown's Recipe on Food Network.  I believe the episode is Puff The Magic Mallow.  here goes..... 

Whacha need 

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided (I put tap water in a glass with ice and dish it out as needed) 
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (if you use table salt just 1/2 the amount as it takes up less space) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Nonstick spray
No need for the bottle of water, I fill them up so I know how much water I am drinking. 

add 1/2 cup of the ice water to what ever bowl you are going to use and sprinkle the gelatin  over top of it. It looks gross but the end product is so yummy!! 

Add the rest of the water, sugar, salt, and corn syrup to a medium pot and cook it over medium high heat.  Once you see it start to bubble put the lid on and time 4 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook another 8 minutes.  Mr. Brown says till it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer but another thing I don't have. (The hubster tried to help one day and piled the dishes and pots on top of it in the sink... it broke! It's OK he was trying to help) But the time works fine apparently. 

Whilst the sugar mixture is cooking you may as well get the pan prepped.  I use a butter flavored cooking spray and spray the heck out of it. I may have used a little much but oh well... we learn from our mistakes. 

The next couple steps i don't have pictures of because... well, I only have 2 hands and Mitchell likes to steal the camera.  Ahhh my budding photographer. 

Once the sugar is cooked the to temp, or time, you want to slowly drizzle it into the gelatin that now looks like wet sand.  If you have a stand mixer this part is easy. If not, add   small drizzles at a time and keep the mixer moving to get all the gelatin mixed into it good. I put a little at a time to keep the gelatin from jumping out of the bowl and when it was all incorporated to the little that was there I continued with small amounts at a time. (because who REALLY wants to try to clean the hardened sugar mixture off your hand mixer... not me) When the mixer moved to the back of the bowl I would add another small amount until it was all in. 

Then get to mixin.... This is what it looks like after you get it all mixed together and start adding the air to it.  Not so much like marshmallows yet, but give it 5 minutes.  My arms got tired so I held the mixer steady on my body and moved the bowl in circles. 

This was after a few minutes it started to get thick and looking like marshmallows. You can see the traces of the beater movement in it.  Add the Vanilla at this stage. I didn't and the Marshmallow started to crawl up the beater. If this happens slowly lift the beater out of the bowl and gravity will pull the Marshmallow back down

Here you can really see the tracking of the beater movements and it's almost ready.  As soon as I put the camera down it started to crawl up the beaters so I had to go fast and add the vanilla.  Once the vanilla is mixed in, if you are brave, sit your child at the table and give a beater. 

Mitchell enjoying a little marshmallow, don't mind my collection of crap  bar. 

 What it looks like in the pan. I used a spatula and press it from the center and move to the corners to spread it out.  I tried other ways but found this the best.  You can coat it with powdered sugar now but I wait. 
Give your child the spatula used to spread it out.... what's a little more sugar? 

I use a pan that has a cover and slap the cover on it to keep dust out
I have to put mine very high.  I can get it up there but need a chair to get it down. Yeah I am short. I have to do this to keep my child out of it!!  I usually make this at night and let it set for about 10 hours.  I made this this morning so I can cut it up tonight but I will wait until the morning.... maybe!  

Heavily coat the surface of the Marshmallow with powdered sugar. I used clean hands and brushed it around. 

Coat the counter, or a glass cutting board, with powdered sugar and turn the Marshmallow slab out onto the powdered surface. 

Coat a pizza cutter with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.  This recipe should make 9 dozen marshmallows, but I don't count.  I am just happy to have marshmallows in my hot cocoa. That recipe I will post tomorrow. 

Put about a cup (i just dump, don't measure) of powdered sugar into a 1 gal zip lock bag and add a strip of cut marshmallows at a time and shake it up to coat them. 

I leave them in the bag and zip it up and put it in the cabinet for later.  Or maybe use some right away THEN put them out. 

When you add them to the Hot cocoa they don't dissolve like the store brands do, the make a wonderfully thick impenetrable layer of melted marshmallow. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Travel Wipe Container... Let's make it pretty

I know 5 people expecting in the next few months, most of the before me.  I love to spoil little babies with all kinds of cute things, but I only recently started making items for these little cuties.  If you are expecting a bundle of joy also expect to receive something I am making. This is my first attempt at a covered travel wipe case.  Please disregard the mess.  I still haven't gotten my storage shelves up in my crafting cave. I hope you all like it..... here goes!! 

What you need. 
  • A travel wipe container 
  • high loft batting 
  • fabric 
  • ribbon
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks 
  • scissors 
  • quilting wheel (optional) 

Apply hotglue to the top of the case but not the side.  You need the side to glue the fabric. I put it all around the edge of the top then squiggled it all over.  Stick the batting to it and trim it.  To trim it i kept the scissors close to the sides and it made it very easy to get the batting cut very close.
 Run a thin line of hot glue just along the top front edge and stick one short side of the fabric to it.
 Pull it taut and glue it to the bottom front.  I then used the quilting wheel to trim the fabric. Don't press too hard as you don't want to go through the case.
 This is what it looked like once I got it glued and cut.
 Cut a slit at the back.  if you don't you will glue the case shut... it'll look pretty but it will be useless.
 I folded the sides in like a present and glued them down. Then I put a dab of glue in the fold, then along the edge of the case and folded the fabric on to glue and trimmed that up also.  If you glue the fabric onto the opening, not to fret, use the quilting wheel to cut it. Then open the case and peel the extra fabric off. Yes I had to do this a couple times.
 I also had to put a smidge more glue to keep the corners down.  Just don't overdo it then you will have blobs of dried glue and it won't be as pretty.
 Opening it to make sure I wasn't gluing it shut
 how it looked all trimmed up
 Ready for ribbon
 I started the ribbon at one side and ran it over to the other. Working one short side, 1/2 the front, then the other half, then finished the other short side.  I didn't cut it until I knew EXACTLY how much i needed.  I waiting until I was almost at the end before I cut it.
 here's the top side done
 Do it to the bottom and overlap the begning and the end of the ribbon.  I think it looked good.  Next time I will certainly hit it with a lighter instead of putting a verythin layer of glue on it.

and it's done.  I hope they like it!

What is a Fracin Wife?....

A Fracin' Wife is the wife of a man who fracs wells, natural gas or oil.  Most of us stay at home but there are some that have careers. I am one that stays at home, cooks, cleans, and raises babies.  I should have called this blog Barefoot, Pregnant, and in the Kitchen, but that sounded a little old fashioned. Though it holds true to what it presently going on in my life at this exact moment.  When thinking about what to name my blog I thought of many different things while I was barefoot and cooking chicken soup to put in the freezer, and I am pregnant with #3.  After seeing my recipes on FB Notes my best friend asked why don't I start a blog with all the crafts (I want to do), and recipes I jot down on FB.  I have lost MANY of them with 2 laptops crashing so started putting them there for safe keeping. We have 2 kids, a 12yo girl and a 3yo boy, Baby X (as we call it) is due April 1st, 2011.  The same due date as my other 2.  Crazy, I know. We also have 2 dogs, 1 AmStaff and 1 APBT, they are wonderful dogs and wouldn't trade them for the world.  We live in upstate NY.  Both the hubster and myself are not from the area, he's from TN and I from SC (military brat). We met in MD and fell in love instantly and have been together and happy since.
I really enjoy crafting but since we moved here I haven't made a place to do so yet.  The transformation of that will be a whole other blog. Because it will be quite the task.  I like to cook everything but breads, I need some serious training I have failed at every attempt since I was young. Anyhow, isn't that what a bread maker is for.... I'm just sayin'!  Since we are expecting and 5 other ladies i know are, I plan on starting with baby stuff and going on from there.
I hope you all follow and enjoy!