Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I can only remember one time when Daddy’s fudge did not turn out perfect. He wondered what would happen if he used chocolate syrup instead of cocoa powder. The result was a delightful taffy-like, gooey, chewy concoction. My brother and I loved it. But he never made it that way again.
After I was living on my own, my Daddy came to visit me in my newly-bought house. I had recently gotten myself a new Dutch oven, and I asked Daddy about how to season it. I lamented to him the fact that I had never learned how to make pot roast in the Dutch oven the way Mammy (Daddy’s grandmother) made it. That reminded me that I had never learned to make fudge the way my Daddy made it. All those times of seeing him make it as a kid, I never paid attention to *how* it was done.
”Oh, it’s easy,” Daddy assured me. He started telling me the ingredients, and I grabbed a piece of paper and asked him to write it down. This is what he wrote:
Thankfully, I was able to ask him some questions!
I only attempted to make it once while he was still on this earth. It didn’t turn out right; the fudge never did “set”. He told me once it’s done “You really just have to beat the mess out of it.” He also told me that if it’s raining it sometimes won’t get firm enough. Geez, it was just too much trouble, and I put it aside and forgot about it. I’d just get Daddy to make it for me.
Well, Daddy hasn’t been here to make it for me for five Christmases now. I’ve attempted it a few times, but it has never turned out quite right. Until this year. This year, I made several batches, making notes along the way about how long it should cook, how it should look and feel at what point, and how long it should be beaten at the end. I swear, if it weren’t My Daddy’s specialty, I would have given up. But this year, I finally got something that was close to what he made. Tasting it brought back all those wonderful childhood memories. And of course, I was stretching my brain trying to recall every time I saw him making the fudge, trying to remember what he did, trying to remember what he said about it. I guess the nostalgia is worth it.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Our family began a tradition several years ago of blessing our Christmas tree. The first readings are read by Mama or the older children who can read, we recite the prayer together, then Daddy blesses the tree with holy water. My hope is that these words will plant seeds deep in the children’s hearts, and that they will remember every time they look at our tree that Christ is the Tree of Life and the Light of the World.
BLESSING OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE
(Reader One): “Thus says the Lord God: I will Myself take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I Myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
(Reader Two): On the mountain of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.” (Ezekiel 17:22-23)
Prayer: Creator God, Your own Son is the tender shoot that grew to become a majestic cedar. As the birds find safety in its giant branches, so we find shelter and comfort in Your Son. We thank You for sending us Jesus, the Tree of Life. Amen.
Blessing: Lord God, bless this tree in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May it remind us throughout this holy season that Jesus is the Tree of Life. (Turn on tree lights.) As we turn on the lights of our tree, we are reminded that Jesus, our Tree of Life, is also the Light of the world. Amen.
More of our Christmas Traditions…
Monday, December 13, 2010
Except that I am not actually late. May I remind you that Catholics observe Advent for four weeks before Christmas, and our Christmas celebration doesn’t begin until the Christmas Eve vigil? It’s technically not appropriate for us to say “Merry Christmas” during Advent, and we will continue to say “Merry Christmas” after the rest of you have put away your decorations and moved on. Our Christmas celebration lasts for twelve days until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. So there ya go. The way I see it, I’m not chronically late after all; it’s just that everyone else’s timetable is off.
All that to say…I’m working on Christmas cards. Our favorite shots have always been of the kids in their pajamas in front of the Christmas tree.
Our foreign exchange students have humored me by posing in their jammies.
Not everyone wants to cooperate, though.
Our niece has also joined in the fun…
This year, I managed to get one of all the children looking at the camera and smiling. At the same time.
Just remember when you get your card from us somewhere around December 28…it’s not late. Christmas will have just begun.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
When we got home, it was time for our small town’s annual Christmas on the Square. We take the children to this every year, where we walk around the shops visiting with our townsfolk, listening to Christmas carols, and partaking of cookies and hot chocolate. This year, we missed the parade. But the children who wanted to visit with Santa had the opportunity to do so.
I love December!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I should have written this before Thanksgiving, but Christmas is coming up, so it’s still timely. What to do with the leftover turkey? You can find recipes for turkey enchiladas, turkey chili, turkey stir-fry, turkey soups, turkey casseroles, and turkey whatever-you-can-think-of all over the internet, but I wanted to give a shout out to the bones. Don’t throw them bones out! They can make a very nourishing broth to be used for future recipes and illnesses. Here’s how it’s done…
After I’ve pulled all the meat off the turkey and stored it in the freezer for recipes, I put the bones in my large stock pot. I add an onion or two, a bulb of garlic, peppers, celery, herbs like rosemary or thyme, and whatever I have on hand that I think will be helpful. Add 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to help draw the minerals out of the bones. Sometimes I add astragalus root, sometimes I omit the astragalus. Fill the pot with water. Simmer all day. After it has cooled, skim some of the fat off, strain the liquid into containers, and store them in the freezer. Then when I need a recipe that calls for broth or we are ill, I pull this broth out of the freezer and heat it up.
Broth at the first sign of an illness helps keep us hydrated, and the protein, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals will help our bodies to repair themselves. The garlic, onions, and herbs strengthen our immune systems and help our bodies fight off whatever germs we’ve been exposed to. Adding cayenne and/or miso to our soup is also helpful to strengthen our immunity, but for the children’s sake, I add it to my own bowls later. This, along with plenty of rest and cutting out the sugar/processed foods, will help us get over whatever we've been exposed to more quickly.
When there are lots of illnesses going around our area, I make our recipes with the broth that contains the astragalus root, as it is an immune-strengthening herb. But because it is a tonic herb, which means that it can possibly drive illness deeper into the body, I use the broths that do not contain astragalus when we are already ill.
In addition to being hydrating, nourishing, and immune-boosting, homemade broth is more delicious and satisfying than the canned broths in the supermarket! Our Thanksgiving turkey yielded 5 quarts of delicious broth. We also use chicken, beef, or any other bones with marrow to make broth throughout the year. The same can be done with vegetables to make vegetable stock. When you are cutting up your onions, celery, broccoli, carrots, or whatever, save the parts that you would normally throw away, simmer them together, and strain for veggie broth.
This year, Greg had to work on Thanksgiving Day, so we had a nice dinner at home the day before. I’m so thankful for all our blessings!
The best thing about spending Thanksgiving at home is that nobody cares if the baby shows up for Thanksgiving dinner wearing nothing but a hot pink diaper! hehehe
Later that night, the girls and I went to see the Moscow Ballet perform The Nutcracker. It was Mojo’s and Gem’s first ballet. Here they are waiting for it to start.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I know I've mentioned homemade wipes before, but I've found an easier, cheaper way to make more durable wipes. Coffee filters.
Open a package of coffee filters. Put them in a plastic container with a lid. Pour a mixture of 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water over the filters. (I sometimes like to add essential oils to mine--tea tree, lavender/sweet orange, lemon/thyme, etc.) Put the lid on them. Voilà! You now have cheap, earth-friendly, kid-friendly disinfectant wipes.
A couple of notes...
* Reuse! Save a plastic Cool-Whip or deli container from the garbage.
* If you are crafty or have crafty kids, decorate the containers to match the decor in your kitchen or bathrooms.
* You'll notice my wipes are brown. When I use paper products, I use unbleached whenever possible. The bleached white ones are cheaper.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Our Catholic homeschool group hosted a “Road Trip Across America”, in which the children chose different states to present to the group. The children presented their states in a variety of different ways. Mojo chose the state of Maryland and put together this backdrop of facts. She and I were both pleased with her work!
Did you know that the first Catholic Mass in the English speaking colonies was held in Maryland, on St. Clement’s Island? This is just one of the many interesting facts we learned.
We also each shared a recipe from our states. Mojo and I made crab cakes, our first ever attempt at such a recipe. I thought they turned out pretty good, although I’ve never tasted a true Maryland-made crab cake.