Showing posts with label Confession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Confession. Show all posts

Monday, March 10, 2014

buttermilk {bi}scones

Author's Note: In honor of the Family Breakfast Project, I am sharing seven days of easy family breakfast recipes. At the end of the week, I'll write about how the project went for our family. You can try it out too! Sign up for emails, click through on the web, or download the whole guide here

This post was shared with The Homestead Barn HopMYHSMand Real Food Wednesday.{Disclaimer: I am not being paid for sharing the program; I just think it's a great way to help you share breakfast with your family.}


I used to be afraid of making scones. Then I happened to mention my fear to a friend who knows I make biscuits on a regular basis, and she put my worries to rest. According to my friend, there was nothing different about the two. In fact, she said, making scones is even easier than biscuits.

And you know what? It turns out she was right! I should have known. When people express surprise that I make homemade biscuits, I am always quick to correct them on how simple the process is. Scones are similarly simple, except they don't even require the folding of dough to make layers. You can cut them straight out of the bowl if you want!

When were eating my first batch of scones, Nate asked me what was different to make them so much fluffier than scones he'd had in the past. I told him that my scones employ the same tricks as my biscuits, i.e. top rack of the oven, sifting cake flour, and using a tiny bit of lard. He said I should really call them "biscones." Upon hearing the word, I suddenly recalled I'd read the term "buttermilk biscones" once in a great Southern cookbook a while back. It guess the notion burrowed in my brain until I was ready to make scones a year later.


I have perfected a base for what I believe is the perfect scone recipe: not too sweet; healthful enough for a wholesome breakfast; and with just the right amount of biscuit-like fluffy, buttery texture. They are pure baked goodness. I am sharing this recipe with you today with the hope I can also pass along the courage to make them. Because they are so easy, it would be almost criminal for you to walk away from this post still believing scones are outside your skill level.

Like with my blank slate muffins, the combinations that can be made using this recipe are only as limited as your creativity. I'm sharing my four favorite flavors, but the sky's the limit!


buttermilk biscones (adapted from this Taste of Home recipe)
yield: 12 scones
total time: 30 minutes


Ingredients:
2 c. white whole wheat flour*
1 c. cake flour**
2 Tbs. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. (12 Tbs., a stick and a half) cold unsalted butter***, cut into small cubes
1 c. buttermilk (or milk + 1 Tbs. white vinegar or lemon juice)
(+ any fixin's, see list of ideas below)

*You can substitute all-purpose flour, but you won't detect this healthier alternative.
**Cake flour=sifted all-purpose flour with 1 Tbs. cornstarch per 1 c. flour.
***I substitute 2-3 Tbs. lard for some of the butter, which adds a great texture.


Fixin' Ingredients:
cranberry orange
1 c. fresh cranberries, chopped in food processor with 1 tsp. sugar (or 1 c. dried cranberries)
1 tsp. orange zest

ginger lemon 
3/4 c. crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. lemon zest (approx. 1 lemon)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

chocolate coconut 
3/4 c. flaked coconut (back off sugar in dough if using sweetened coconut)
1/2 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)

simply spicy
1 c. dried fruit (for adults, plump fruit with a bit of rum; for kids, boiling water)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Glaze Ingredients (optional):
1/4 c. whole milk (or you can jazz it up by brewing Earl Grey tea in hot milk)
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla



Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda; cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture is crumbly and butter is pea-sized. Stir in the buttermilk just until combined. Fold in the fixin's of your choice (Note: If you don't want to add anything else, the recipe is great as is, with maybe a dollop of clotted cream if you can get your hands on it)
  2. Turn dough onto a floured surface and divide it in half. Pat each half into a 6-in. circle. Cut each circle into six wedges. Separate wedges and place 1 in. apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  3. (If you are glazing the scones, skip this step) Brush scones with milk and sprinkle them with sugar. 
  4. Bake at 400° on the top oven rack for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack. 
(Optional) Glaze Directions:
  1. Whisk together milk, vanilla****, and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Dip warm scones in glaze by turning them upside down into the bowl; keep a firm grip on all sides with your hand to avoid dropping or crumbling the scone. 
  2. Return glazed scones to wire rack to drip and cool. Scones can be kept in an air-tight container on the counter for up to a week.
****If you're like The Pioneer Woman, you can make a better-looking glaze by using a real vanilla bean; but if you're in my house, ain't nobody got time for that.

Monday, October 07, 2013

a family dinner by any other name

Selfie in Sweden, pre-kids
After graduating college, Nate and I embarked on a journey as a newly minted family, leaving behind our home state for adventures in the uncharted beyond. Moving away from our families of origin was exciting! Graduate school and moves to the Midwest, the US capital, and across the Atlantic Ocean opened our eyes to different and interesting ways of thinking and living.

Along the way, we became parents. Welcome to the best learning experience of all! While we were thrilled about our growing family, we also encountered our share of challenges and foibles. None of our friends had kids yet, so we navigated the choppy new waters solo while they smiled and did their best to understand the dark circles and panicked voices. Without family in town to assist us, we floundered quite a bit on just what to do with our new bundle of joy. We relied on our nanny to tell us what and when to feed Vivi. I chuckle to remember how we browsed stacks of parenting volumes promising new and different ways to achieve better results, as though she were a new iGadget instead of a person.

Although advice was still only a phone call away, the temptation of “the unknown better” beckoned louder. Eschewing family secrets for propaganda, we replaced the village with pop science. Whereas pride in continuing our families’ traditions was once the goal long ago, shiny-new-object syndrome stepped in and took over.

Unfortunately, our manic pursuit of novelty did not improve our lives. The promise that the latest parenting trend would solve our problems didn’t deliver. We were paralyzed by choice and growing dizzy from the pendulum of polarized philosophies. Put simply, we were not happy parents.




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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

about that time I had an IUD for two days

 A few months ago, I had an IUD for a brief moment. I struggled with whether to write about my experience here, but then Jamie (aka the grumbles) blasted through with all her badassery and Hell Yeah Unicorns, and I was inspired to share my story, although luckily my story is not nearly as horrible and gory as hers. Sorry Jamie.

I am sharing my experience because my story wasn't one of the many I read about prior to getting my IUD. As a doula, I want my clients to have as much information about birth so they can make their own empowered choices. I support whatever those choices are, so long as they are accompanied by corresponding evidence. I feel the same about your reproductive choices, Reader. The More You Know, and all that jazz.

...............................

Last night I watched Lena Dunham's show Girls for the first time. We got the first season from the library, and because binge-watching is our favorite way to get into new shows, we watched three episodes in a row. I am really not quite sure how Girls is related to the rest of what I'm writing about today, but somehow it seems vaguely intertwined. Something about solidarity, mothering our female friendships, hoes before bros, or along those lines. Plus, it's really hard for me to start out by saying "So y'all, about my vagina..." and this side note is my way of stalling.

...............................

So ya'll, about my vagina.

Looking back, I can't even remember exactly why I thought the IUD was the way I wanted to go, except that I was sick of swallowing The Pill's nasty hormone cocktail, and hormone-free birth control seemed like a good option. What I had read about diaphragms wasn't all that gung-ho either, so I figured in the realm of the sucky contraception options available, maybe ParaGard would be okay. ParaGard is the IUD made of copper, and my gynecologist assured me it's been on the market for a long time and is substantially improved from previous versions. I asked a few friends who used it, did some brief questioning of Dr. Google, and then jumped in, vagina-first.

{Warning: some graphic details will follow. Put down your sandwich}.

I'm not exaggerating when I say IT HURT LIKE A BITCH to have the IUD put in. Something about expanding a balloon inside my uterus to check its size (BLARG! hmhmhmhhmhm...I can't hear you...), then some bleeding that resulted from her pinching me from the inside. Yup, you read that right. She stabbed me in my uterus. Ever been poked in an internal organ while under no anesthesia? Doesn't feel great, amiriteladies?

Let me put it this way. I have experienced two unmedicated births, and this experience was hands-down more traumatizing. With my births, I was fully expecting the pain, and I knew it was natural, serving the amazing purpose of bringing my babies to my arms. That kind of pain I can handle. But the kind of pain where she doesn't bother even telling me it's going to hurt, beyond a flippant "this will sting a bit" as she was putting her hands in me, is another story. Once I started up my Lamaze breathing, she glanced over my splayed legs with a half-alarmed, half-annoyed look and said "You're not going to pass out, are you? I've had some women pass out on me and fall off the table." OH REALLY, thaaaaaat's quite interesting. Maybe you could have mentioned that in addition to the sting. A bee stings. This was not a sting.

I went home feeling a little shaky and tried not to think about it.

Cut to a morning less than 48 hours later. I was making eggs in a cast-iron skillet, and even when still cool, it felt hot to the touch. I ran over to the sink and scrubbed my hands clean, but the itchy, burning feeling didn't subside. The closest I can come to describing the feeling is that it's like accidentally touching fiberglass. You can't see the stuff, but it hurts acutely like you want to remove a splinter right away. My hands stayed swollen, splotchy, and red all morning.

I didn't yet connect the trouble to my IUD (Would you have? Three feet away inside me, it seemed like a non-issue), but I did consult Dr. Google with the query, "Why is my skillet giving me hives?"

[This part in the story is where I should probably pause and tell you that no earlier than a week before this problem, I had an exchange with my husband about how I never wear earrings because they are so itchy and uncomfortable. He postulated that like his mom and sister, I probably had a mild nickel allergy. It explained so much, including why some earrings were bothersome and others were not.]

Back to my kryptonite skillet. Google revealed the most common answer to be that modern iron skillets are sometimes plated in nickel because it is virtually indestructible and a good conductor of heat. Aha! That piece of information also helped me understand why our smaller heirloom skillets weren't posing a problem to my hands. They were likely made prior to nickel-plating.

What I hadn't yet figured out is why I suddenly was more allergic to the skillet now. What had changed? The IUD was made out of copper, not nickel...or so I thought? Not so fast, oh-ye-who-trusts-pharmaceutical companies. With some digging, I turned up others saying they had spoken with reps at ParaGard, who explained that while the IUD is coated in copper, it is actually comprised of a nickel core. Say what?

It's not difficult to understand why they chose this make-up because nickel is quite cheap compared with copper. What might be more difficult to understand is why it isn't written ANYWHERE ON THE PACKAGING that nickel is in the ParaGard. Is it still tough to put it together when you hear that nickel is one of the most common allergies? It's no surprise to me that ParaGard isn't advertising the nickel in their product when so many women would potentially be excluded from its use.

I immediately called the doctor, who was actually also surprised to hear that nickel was in the ParaGard. I would have almost preferred her saying "OH, you didn't tell me you were allergic to nickel! Yes, I know about it." She agreed that I should come in immediately and have the offending IUD taken out, which I did. While I may not have had any unicorns dancing around, I definitely saw Bob Marley's three little birds doing a happy dance around me on my way out of the clinic.

It's okay Bob, I'm not worried about a thing any more.

...............................

When I told my cousin this story, she pointed out how much worse it could have been if I had paid for that IUD. So true! Did you know those things can cost upwards of nearly a grand? I didn't until I had it taken out. I won't toot my horn too loudly with this next bit of info, but we have no copay for office visits. As in, I walked in and got the IUD, then two days later I had it removed, and it cost me zilch. But for people who are paying out of pocket, you'd think that medical personnel would be more committed to discovering the ins and outs of their expensive products. What do you think?



Thursday, August 15, 2013

self-analysis is probably on the list somewhere

Have you ever had your personality type tested? Mine was identified by psych researchers studying pot-luck roommates during my freshman year of college. You can do a mini-version of that test online here. Here's what that Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (aka. Jung typology) test page says about my personality type in reference to career path:

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things that interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values.

It's hard to believe there are only 16 personality types out there, but ENFP gets me so spot on that I must agree I'm one of the 16. Here's the flip side of having all those "skills and talents":

Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivious to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members.

Ha, sorry dear.

This next statement rings true in some ways for me as a parent, and I hope Vivi will forgive whatever flaws I have as a result of my personality type:

Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendencies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child's best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.

And here's probably why I enjoy staying at home and why I have a love-hate relationship with blogging sometimes:

They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled.

Ultimately, I don't think a MBTI score has to lock you into any one method of being, but I do think it's good to analyze and predict what might come to be. I'm sure that's also an ENFP trait...

Friday, March 01, 2013

spring cleaning update to your kitchen: {guest post}

How are you doing on your New Year's resolutions? I wised up this year and didn't announce my resolutions, thereby (in theory) circumventing guilt when I did not fulfill them. However, being a person who seeks self-improvement, I did make some mental notes on areas of my life and home I'd like to tinker with this year. One area I highlighted for renovation is the kitchen. But despite loads of inspiration on my Pinterest boards, I am having trouble getting started. Cue those guilty feelings.

With the beginning of March comes thoughts of spring cleaning, so it feels like a good time to put aside the fear and guilt and get moving on some of those resolutions. Today I'm bringing in a guest with expertise in the field of home improvement, and she's going to give us some frugal ideas for where to begin on updating your kitchen. Be sure to read to the bottom for Jillian's bio. Take it away, Jillian!
***********


Ikea kitchens
Image Credit: Ikea

This year when you're doing your annual spring cleaning, don't just clear out the clutter from your kitchen; –make it better by improving the organization, updating the design, and maybe even doing a bit of renovation.

Here are several great ideas to make your kitchen the best room in the house.


Ikea Kitchens
Image Credit: Ikea


Organize(rs for) your drawers. 

How many times have you cleaned out your drawers and made everything look fantastic, only to open them a few weeks later and discover that everything has gotten cluttered again? No system is perfect, but there are some great drawer organization systems that can go a long way towards helping. Ikea offers these simple drawer organizers that help you to divide your cabinets with clean lines, and several manufacturers are even applying this idea to dinnerware with pegged dish organizers. You can move the pegs around as you need to fit your particular plates, bowls, and saucers, and never worry about where they're supposed to go.


My mom's kitchen after recent updates (note the mirror and newly painted cabinets)


Do it with mirrors. 

Everyone knows that mirrors work wonders at making spaces feel bigger, but few people think to use this knowledge in their kitchen. If you have a cramped cooking area, you can make it appear larger by adding in a mirrored backsplash. You'll open the space up with reflections and create a brighter, cleaner look.


Provide a facelift. 

Redoing your entire kitchen can be prohibitively expensive, but that doesn't mean that you can't use frugal tips to make it look like a new room. Convince people that you replaced your cabinetry by getting new doors. Some places even offer them unfinished for as little as $9.95 per door! Alternatively, you could paint your current doors a different color and simply pick up some fancy new hardware.



Ikea KitchensSink and faucet. 

Another piece of hardware that can make a big impact is your sink and faucet. Change out both, and you can have a truly different look in your kitchen, especially if you're going from a traditional metal sink to one made of stone, china, or even glass. Of course, some sinks can cost in the thousands. For many, that's probably too expensive, so if that's you, make an impression with a new designer faucet. You can even help the environment by getting one that's low-flow.


Hang around. 

One great way to get organized and revitalize the look of your kitchen is to utilize the vertical space – especially the space underneath counters. If you’re really feeling in the mood to change things up, you can get a cabinet that suspends your microwave over the stove and free up more of the counter. Those looking for something a bit easier, though, may want to try a hanging pot rack or a hanging wine rack.


Ikea Kitchens
Image Credit: Ikea

Change out your chairs. 

If you have a small table in your kitchen or a breakfast bar, the kind of seating you use can make a big statement about the room. Are you stately and refined, or sleek and modern? Even changing out something seemingly small like your seating can greatly affect the overall look and feel of your kitchen. Perhaps just as important, smaller chairs can give you more space and make your kitchen feel bigger than it really is.


About the author: Jillian Watkinson is a DIY expert and has written about home and gardens for many years. You can find other examples of her writing on The Design Inspirationalist, The Kitchen Blog, and Pegasus Lighting. When she’s not writing, you can find her covering Community Home Supply and other useful supply companies for various projects.

Editor's note: This post is part of LHITS DIY Linky and The Homestead Barn Hop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

perfect is as perfect does

Don't bother telling me that title doesn't make any sense. Grammar is not my friend today. In any case, that modified Gumpism is the phrase that's been going through my head over the past few days.

It all started with an episode of NPR's On Point about perfectionism. Did you catch it? I enjoyed it because members of my immediate family--who will remain nameless--have perfectionist tendencies, and I've often wondered if striving for perfectionism is simultaneously a sort of strength and weakness. The radio program addressed this issue in a way that didn't point fingers but at the same time offered an impetus for perfectionists to be less perfect. It's worth a listen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the half-open door

The trouble with staying on top of clutter reduction is that occasionally I come across an item I don't feel like getting rid of but know the usefulness has expired. Case in point:

The last few remnants of Pat the Bunny and the sticky, forgotten Hello Bee, Hello Me.

These items are no longer needed. They aren't used. Most days, except for recently when I was tidying, they aren't even though about. But boy, start considering throwing them in the garbage, and bring on the w a t e r w o r k s.

Friday, September 07, 2012

parenting a "spirited" child

Picking a Halloween costume. Much to Mommy's dismay, Raggedy Ann is not the winner.

Although I realize I handily place myself into a parenting cliche with this next observation, I'm going to say it anyway: Vivi is a special kid. I know, I know, I went there. I even nerdily bolded the text. Go ahead and call me a trite mother. But it's true, she is special! Ever since she turned to me at eighteen months old after a lengthy car trip and said "Oh my goodness, that was long!," I knew I was in for a parenting experience I wasn't quite expecting. The child knew about 150 words (counting what she knew in Spanish too) and spoke in 5-word sentences by the time the doctor told me at her check-up that she should know "about three to five words."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

word nerd alert

Sometimes I read Wikipedia for fun. Even if I know the meaning of a word like haiku, I'll look at what Wikipedia has to say on the subject and end up trolling the sub-links until I inevitably learn something somewhere.

Yes, I am a word nerd.

When people ask me how I can manage not to watch TV, I consider telling them I'm a Wikipedia troll, but then I reconsider and say "I read lots of books and magazines." I do that too, but often instead of reading my stack, I'm learning about synecdoche*, which incidentally has a great Wikipedia entry with somewhat hilarious examples (e.g. "Prominently used in slang and vulgar speech, where a person's home is referred to as his 'crib' or the entire person is referred to by his/her genitalia").

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

redefining beauty for my daughter

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.
***


Sunday, March 04, 2012

peace out, princesses. don't let the door hit ya'...


I've been struggling with and mulling over whether to tell you what I'm about to say, but I made a pledge to be more honest with you, Reader, and I am sticking to it. The thing is, I'm not quite sure what to say. I'll just get going with it then.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

you found me how, round 2


I have a confession to make. Okay, so it's not a biggie confession, but sometimes it's nice just to get the feelings out there on the table, knowwhatimeanvern? I used to be so paranoid about what I said on the blog, as though the comments I made about running around bra-less would one day be used against me in a job interview or during a bank loan meeting. Or maybe there'd be this stalker who would just love to know all about my trips to the farmer's market. It was a thing, my worrying. Probably silly, but there you have it.

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