March 2014: The Children Are Tender

Caregiving, teaching little kids to read, and riding in the pickup with Farmer John; I tweet, pin, and blog, from my home in rural Kansas. If you've landed here looking for information about my books, visit my author's page by clicking this link: A. Born. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, January 29, 2018

January Walk

Our yellow lab, Moose, loves to go on walks with us.  For the first quarter mile he runs circles around us at top speed.  
When we returned from a chilly walk the other evening, I threw the sheet pan meal pictured above together and it was so good.   Here, to the best of my recollection, is how I did it: 

Savory Sheet Pan Meal

One 1.5 lb bag little potatoes, such as Little Charmers
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced into 3" pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced 
6-8 whole peeled garlic cloves
A package of lower fat fully cooked Polish or kielbasa sausage, sliced.  
Enough olive oil to coat vegetables,  2 to 4 Tbsp. 
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except sausage, tossing together to cover with olive oil.  Bake on a half sheet pan (18" x 13") in a 400 degree oven until potatoes are nearly done, about 15 minutes; stir halfway through cooking time. Add the sausage and cook 5 minutes or so more, until the sausage is sizzling and hot through.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snowy Day

Large photo upper left: I was so grateful to feel good today--you should've seen me on my hands and knees rolling up the base for our snowman!  Clockwise from upper right:  Logan, 5, wanted to build a snow fort--and so we did!  The sunset photo of the snowman is bittersweet--he knows his days are numbered.  That fat quail at lower right brought a dozen friends to our bird feeder today along with the cardinal at left.  Lower center, Daniel, age 9.  
Church services in our little community were canceled this morning.  Both churches in our town have a high population of older people, so it was prudent to avoid having them (us) negotiate slippery streets and sidewalks. 

Our two oldest grandsons appeared at my door after a sledding excursion with their dad, and I quickly negotiated an afternoon at Grammy's for them.  They peeled off layers of sodden clothing and pulled rockers up next to the little propane wall heater in our guest bedroom.  Once they had warmed up, we had homemade chicken soup with rice, made a batch of gingerbread (and ate most of it), then headed back outdoors to make a snowman. 

When we are young, we believe such perfect days as today are ours for the taking, and that there will be many such days.  This grammy has lived long enough to know that part of the reason days like today are so special is that they are rare.  I've stored away a special, heart-warming memory of this day spent with my boys. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sipping Once, Sipping Twice...

I made a pot of chicken soup with rice this morning, and since it is January, and there is indeed ice on the sidewalks and streets, I remembered the poem above.  I taught this verse to my first grade classes each January, and would heat Campbell's chicken soup with rice in a crockpot and dole it out with crackers for an afternoon snack.  Funny how even canned soup can become a much-anticipated and much-enjoyed treat when it is cold outside (and when you are seven years old and experience the novelty of being given crackers and soup as a mid-afternoon treat at school).

These days I have the luxury of time to make my chicken soup from scratch.  This morning I had generous handfuls of fresh sage and rosemary to add to the stock, and the scent of that simmering soup was heavenly on this cold day.  I usually don't care much for chicken soup but with the wind howling and sleet falling outside my window, I ate my bowl of soup with good appetite just like my first grade students of yore!


Chicken Soup With Rice

In a large stockpot:

1 chicken
Handful of fresh sage
Some fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
About 6 cloves of garlic
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 medium yellow onions, one chopped, one quartered and stuffed into the cavity of the chicken
Salt & pepper to taste

2.5 cups dry rice

Cover all ingredients but rice with water and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer (covered) for an hour or so until the chicken is very tender.  Remove the chicken, let it cool just a bit, and remove meat from bones.  Pour the stock through a colander and skim away most of the fat--I use a gravy separator.  Return the stock to the cooking pot, add 2.5 cups of dry rice to yield about 7 cups or so of cooked rice (follow package directions--I used a wild rice blend that only had to cook for 15 minutes). When rice is nearly done, cut about half the meat (or as much as desired) into bite sized pieces  and add it to the soup.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add more broth if needed for the desired consistency.

Number of servings:  About 8.  Or so.  Okay, I have no idea.  I took out two servings for my husband and myself and sent the rest to my daughter's family of five.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Collage

We had an uncommonly low-key and peaceful Christmas, even with two 2-year-olds on site!

Most of the recipes I made this year were traditional ones for our family: biscuits and gravy, two kinds of cinnamon rolls, and corn pancakes for our Christmas day brunch (yes, corn pancakes). But the star of the show this year was the hot spiced fruit.  I always have made a version of this but found one that is much superior to my old recipe.  You can find it here: Home for Christmas Fruit Bake Recipe!

I don't know how corn pancakes became traditional holiday fare at our house.  My kids loved them growing up and now they are a part of our annual brunch--and there is no recorded recipe.  We usually combine a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix, a can of creamed corn, and about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for the corncake batter. If there are no egg allergies at your house you can add an egg and omit the oil.

Here are some Christmas photos from our various celebrations (note the photo of that yummy and easy to make fruit bake).  Praying that you and yours have a safe and happy 2018! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

From November ...

I'm surprised to see I didn't post during November. It was a busy month as we hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  I spent it cooking, cleaning, and cooking some more.  And, I would like to tell anyone who cares to try it for themselves, baking and carving the turkey ahead of time and then freezing it in well-seasoned broth works great!  It was moist and delicious, and I don't think anyone would have suspected if I hadn't told them.  I brought it from the freezer on Thanksgiving morning and then heated it gently until it was hot through.

Here are three of favorite photos from my leisurely, healing, November walks around the driveway:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Another October Post...

The bottom photo is a detail of the red maple in our west yard, top, left.  

Some folks are posting 7 days of black and white photos on Facebook this week.  It's a neat idea, and I've seen some lovely photos...but in my estimation, black and white just doesn't portray autumn in Kansas in the way it deserves.

I'm so glad to be recovering from surgery in October--the heat of summer or the cold of winter would've kept me inside, and I'm about to go stir crazy as it is!  What a blessing to venture outside my door into the sunshine and green-scented crispness of this rain-washed October.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Like Spring Only Better

Fall color has officially arrived--but regular rains and moderate temperatures have kept the grass green and growing.  Our five year old grandson chased a frisbee in our front yard yesterday, and when he stretched out full length in the grass he disappeared!  We are going to have to mow the lawn here at the end of October.  
I had an emergency surgery not quite two weeks ago, and today was the first time I had ventured outdoors since I arrived home from the hospital.  On a lovely, soul-nurturing stroll around the driveway I snapped these photos--homegrown pumpkins, green grass flanked by red maple leaves, and roses in October.  Grateful to be here to see it.  God is good.