Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daddy/Daughter Day

Ok, this is my first attempt at blogging so bear with me.
Today Kristen is attending the Extraordinary Women's conference to become even more perfect. That means that the girls and I have the day together, so here is what we did today:

After the usual wake-up/good morning snuggles, they decided that they wanted chocolate cake for breakfast. Since we did not have any cake, it meant we got to make one. Now we had some success at Christmas making a cake, but today we did not have any sucanat, so the whole thing would have to be made with either honey or Agave Nectar, or both. We opted to go with one round and one square layer in order to make a heart shape. They then begged for icing, which I made with the little bit of powdered sugar we had. It was not near enough sugar, so I tried a trick I saw on Food Network. You put regular sugar in the food processor and in a minute you have powdered sugar. Sounds easy, but the small black N decker model obviously does not have the power to do this as we had "crunchy" icing as Libby called it. Then they wanted sprinkles, when I said "no" Libby said, "but it is what I have always longed for," and how to say no to that? After we were done "decorating" the cake, the girls decided to save it to surprise Mommy when she got home.
So we had eggs for breakfast. Here is the cake:

Next we played for a bit and then headed out to "town." We stopped by the Fort Walton Beach Free Zoo (aka Petland) and played with a Daschund puppy that retailed for like $1200, so I made sure Clara did not break it.

Libby is not in the pictures bacasue she stood on the bench the whole time convinced this viscious beast would bite her.

Then we read books in Books-A-Million and then headed to TGIFridays for lunch. We had a coupon for $8 off our meal, so guess what our bill was? $7.99..oh yeah...beat the system. I just opted not to eat until I got home, but the girls enjoyed their lunch.

Libby enjoyed so much that she ate the eniter bowl of pasta, a cup of Chocolate Milk, Mandarin Oranges, adn the patty of Clara's Hamburger. She is laying on the floor with a Tummy Ache (oops).

Now we are home again, awaiting Kristen's return so we can try this cake. I think I'll let them have the first bite. It's been a great day.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring, so far

We've had a busy and blessed far! Here are a few pictures of our recent events. I ran in my first 5K, and had a blast. (Let's remember that TIME is not important...rather, focus on the fact that the verb RUN is part of my life!) The girls had a great time celebrating Easter! (I think they especially loved their handmade Easter baskets. I had a great time making them! I am forever grateful to the precious Mrs. Dot that taught me how to make the baskets and supplied everything I needed for a precious gift to my girls!) We got to all go to Camp Victory for Horsemanship Day and learn all about horses. Afterward, we stopped by the strawberry patch to pick strawberries and indulge in strawberry shortcake. Hope that you are having a great Spring, too!!

(So, the pictures are a bit out of order...but, since I've now been on here way too long...I just have to let them be as they may. One day, maybe I'll figure blogging out...and actually remember what I've figured out so as to be able to apply it!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Succanat

Brandon and I have recently become big fans of Cooks Illustrated. A few friends highly recommended CI because they teach how to cook. On their website (which does require a membership fee), information abounds on recipe testing and product reviews, and they have lots of illustrations and how-to videos. (You can sign up for a 2 week trial membership, and of course, their books are wonderful resources as well.) We really appreciate the fact that they have tested so many recipes and techniques in order to deliver the best methods and recipes...ensuring less wasted time and money on our part. That is always a good thing!
Today, we decided to use their recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. We adapted it just slightly because we use freshly ground whole wheat flour and succanat. If there seems to be some tedious steps involved, it is because CI found the steps necessary to deliver the perfect result, and trust me people, it is well worth it! (Ghirardelli's 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips was recommended by CI product reviews. That is what we used.) We were quite thrilled with our results...this being our first try making cookies with fresh whole wheat flour and succanat. Without further ado, I give you:

Brandon and Kristen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (soft white, freshly ground)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

14 TBSP butter (1 3/4 sticks)

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 c. succanat

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.

3. Melt 10 TBSP butter in 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan constantly for about 1-3 min. until the butter turns slightly brown and has a nutty smell. Using a stainless steel skillet will allow you see the butter turn in color.

4. Pour browned butter into a heat-proof bowl and add the remaining 4 TBSP butter. Stir until the remaining butter is melted. Add succanat, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together. Then, add egg and egg yolk. Whisk together for 30 sec. Let mixture sit for 3 min. Stir for 30 sec. Let mixture sit for 3 min. Stir for 30 sec. Let mixture sit for 3 min. (Don't skimp on this step.)

5. Combine flour mixture and butter/sugar mixture. Stir for 1 min.

6. Fold in chocolate chips and let cookie dough to set-up for 2 min. (The fresh whole wheat flour needs this time to completely hydrate.)

7. On a parchment lined baking sheet, use an ice-cream scoop to place 6 big scoops of cookie dough onto the baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for the dough to spread.

8. Bake for 5 min. Rotate baking sheet. Bake for 4 more min. (If your cookies don't seem done, add another minute.)

9. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for one minute before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Hearing

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
are walking in the truth."
3 John 4

There are many things I hear from my children. I love to hear them laugh, especially when it's that laugh from deep within their belly. I love to hear them sing. I love to hear them play. I love to hear them use their manners. I love to hear them say, "I love you." I love to hear their success when they are proud of their accomplishments. I love to just hear them. (Most of the time!) But, as much as I love hearing all these things, there will be no greater joy than hearing that my children walk with Jesus.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My New, Other, Blog

In an effort to make my life even more complicated, I have started a new blog. I mean, I'm so good at updating this one that I just felt had to get another one going. No...really, I just needed a seperate space to write about my healthy living (rather my hopes for healthy living) ponderings. So much of my head is taken up with food choices, daily exercising (on a good day), struggling with my weight, etc. that I feel like all those thoughts just need their own place. It will be nice to put them somewhere neat and compact...where they're okay to be themselves. So, if you're inclined, come and see what that is all about. And, if you know someone who struggles along with me, I would love for them to do just that in blogosphere...send them on over to my new blog.

I will still be posting (hopefully more often) here regarding our family's journey through life. What a great journey it is!!