Saturday, July 30, 2011

how to make croutons

I recently had a BBQ with some friends that resulted in a massive excess of hamburger and hot dog buns. You may recall that I HATE to waste anything, but especially food. I'm always looking for a way to repurpose or preserve it so that it doesn't end up in the garbage. With bread, there's always the old fall back: freeze it and use if for the next BBQ. But, this may have been the last BBQ of the season for us, and also, I didn't have that much room in the freezer. So that meant croutons. I started making croutons a few years ago. Have you ever cringed over the cost of croutons? or the nutrition information on the back? I have. They are very expensive, and they aren't that good for you. So I started freezing the heels of my bread in a big bag and when it was full I made croutons with them. These are so easy to make, and my kids eat them for snacks. And, although I have no evidence to support this, I would bet at least a nickel that they are better for you than the store bought ones. Cheaper, too. So, the only problem now is that they are gone too fast.

So here's what I do:
take the excess bread and cut it into small squares with a sharp knife. (a dull knife will squish your bread and you want it fluffy.)
spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, put the diced bread on top, and spray the bread with cooking spray. (I suppose you could try melted butter, but, for me 1) that would take too long, and 2) your croutons wouldn't be as healthy.) I am pretty liberal with the cooking spray. Coat the bread, and then stir them on the pan to coat even more and spread the bread in a single layer on the pan.
now you get to season it however you want. A lot of that depends on the seasonings I have in my cupboard.
But mincing garlic and sprinkling that on top is a must.
Then I threw on some Italian seasoning.
and a generous dose of Parmesan cheese.

Then bake them in a 250degree to 275 degree oven for about three hours until they are completely dry and crunchy. You don't want the bread to have any moisture in them, or they will mold faster. (You can tell by taste testing...I recommend doing lots of this, because they're good.)

let them cool completely and store them in a zipper baggy in your pantry. Use them in any way you've used croutons...on salads, in soups, as snacks, and when you are hungry.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I've been gone. I went to a funeral. It was hard, but good....bitter, but sweet.

I've been busy. The kids are wrapping up all the summer projects and programs they've signed up for. It's been fun, but THANK GOODNESS! they are ending.

I've been pregnant. And there is no getting around that until the end of August. The last month is the hardest. Awkward. Heartburn-y. Sleepless. I'm not going to complain about that here, though. It doesn't do me any good.

I've been tired. I don't remember being this tired in the eighth month of my other pregnancies. I can take two naps a day and still not feel satisfied. Of course, that could have something to do with being too uncomfortable to sleep at night.

I've been gardening. You'll see more posts about that soon.

I've been searching. Got any awesome boy names to share? Time is of the essence here.

I've been playing. it's summer.

I've been reading. Lots of downtime + a new ipod touch + google books app + a night reading feature (that allows me to read in bed at night with the lights off without disturbing the Hubby or hurting my eyes) + not being comfortable enough to sleep = me becoming a more cultured person. (I'm currently reading Les Miserables, and I am thrilled with how captivating it is. I thought it would be slow! Go and read it. I'm only 50 pages in, but I already can't put it down.)

I've been laying low. Time to nest.

I've been teaching. How will this year of homeschooling go? (by the way, we don't do regular school years like public school. I don't see a reason to. But we've been scattered this summer, and I feel ready for a more steady schedule.)

I've been LIVING. and I refuse to feel guilty about not doing the dishes. (I can't really reach the sink anyway. )

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Three for Thursday

My Friend Evelyn over at Hanging by a Silver Lining
does a Three for Thursday Meme (I had to look that word up, by the way. It means
an idea or element of social behavior passed on through generations in a culture, esp by imitation. so there you go) and I have always read and enjoyed reading hers and all the others who have linked up. I tell myself that I'm going to participate, but I usually don't feel like blogging anymore at the end of a long Thursday. Since I've been on such a bloggy kick lately, I actually looked forward to doing it tonight. I couldn't let myself down! Also, it doesn't hurt that if you link up, you might get a prize! (i'm a sucker for prizes, even if it's something small like a corn flake) ALSO, my sister, Sarah, over at Creating-Sarah has agreed to become a co-hostess to the game. I have to show my support! If you want to get in on the fun this week, head over to Evelyn's blog to link. Next week, head over to Sarah's.

SO....(drum roll) Here's my three for Thursday.

Three confessions:
1. ice cream is my drug of choice. There's a line in the movie Hitch where he says, "You've got a martini. That means it's been a heck of a week, and a beer just wouldn't do it tonight." Whenever the Hubby sees me getting the ice cream out once the kids are in bed, he says, "So you've had a heck of a day, and a single piece of chocolate just won't do it tonight." Yup.

2. I Waaaay over analyze every single thing that I write on my blog. Don't want anything to be taken the wrong way, or misconstrued to turn against me. I'm working on just being myself with my writing though, and I think I'm getting better.

3. I really, really, REALLY want my own pet dragon.

Three things I do to beat the heat:
1. We have a spray bottle that sprays in a really fine mist. I spray that all over myself and sit in front of the fan.

2. Last week, I get so fed up with the heat (it gets really stinkin' hot here in my town, we don't have air conditioning, and also I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant) that I went into the bathroom and soaked my shirt in the sink, wrung it out, and then put it back on. Seriously, BEST. idea. ever!

3. Drive around (anywhere) with the air conditioning on full blast.

Three lessons, skills, or new tricks I have learned this past month:
1. I can't do everything, and it's really ok. I've really been at peace with all the undone chores at the end of the day. At least for now, I'm ok with it.

2. I've learned to set and trap gophers out of my garden with our new gopher trap. I'm a little worried about how much joy I get out of seeing a dead gopher.

3. I made my first belly band. It was surprisingly easy.

Three things that motivate me to be a better person:
1. stories of great courage. When I hear of someone who went through something really hard and handled it with grace and patience, I feel completely inspired to be a better person.

2. talking to someone about something they are passionate about. It doesn't matter what it is. If they can show me a passion that makes them human, it makes me think of all the things I am passionate about and work harder on them.

3. Compliments. When someone expresses a sincere, heartfelt compliment to me, it makes me want to live up to what they see in me.

Three things I would do if I wasn’t “Mommy”, married, and burdened with cares:
1. travel. All over. all the time. as often as possible.

2. be completely organized all the time: keep up with the laundry, no dirty dishes in the sink, everything in its place all the time. aaaaah

3. I would probably have a career as a private tutor, since that's what I did before I had kids, and I LOVED it! Either that, or maybe be a college professor, and maybe even have a few books published. Someday!

Three people I call first:
1. The Hubby
2. My mom
3. My sisters
4. My friend Mekell (sorry, that's four, but at least it's the raw truth.)

Three things I changed about my parenting after testing them out on my guinea pig child (first child):
1. text book potty training was two thumbs waaaay down for me and Dev

2. I worry less about their mental well being. With Dev I was a nut case, now I'm manageable.

3. how I educate them. I never thought twice about the education they were getting under the "normal" way (ie. public school, preschool, etc) Now I homeschool.

Three things that make me cry:
1. Stories of great courage (see above)
2. when good friends cry in front of me.
3. it's a knee -jerk reaction when I'm frustrated, which doesn't bode well in a professional setting

Three things I’m going to accomplish before the summer is over:
1. Have a baby!
2. endure contractions, labor, and delivery
3. bring another human being into the world.

Three pictures:

this is what we get when Bogey takes the family picture

I just wanted a nice father/son picture. I just said, "smile!" Like father like son, eh?

our good friends, The Burch's came to visit for July 4th weekend. Their charming and ultra ladylike daughter Avery did this when Hubby asked her to smile. Oh, and notice my cameo prego belly in the background on the left. (p.s. I have no idea why the computer is making these words a link. Do not click on them! They will lead you to no where!! dun dun DUN!)

So, same time next week?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Batter Fried Zucchini

Three zucchini were ready for picking today! We planted six zucchini plants, thinking that they wouldn't all thrive. But they are all huge, and they each have about 10 zucchini or zucchini flowers growing on them. While I was out visiting the zucchini, I kept thinking about that line in Robots, "Brace yourself; you're about to get very popular." Except I was thinking, "Brace yourself, you're about to get a lot of zucchini." Good thing it's versatile. I am thinking zucchini bread, zucchini cookies, frozen shredded zucchini, zucchini soup, zucchini stir fry, dehydrated zucchini chips....we're going to be eating a lot of zucchini.

But tonight when I picked my first three, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do with them: Batter Fried Zucchini. That's gotta be a first harvest tradition. They are SO good! I thought I would share the joy in case there are similarly zucchini swamped friends out there.

Batter Fried Zucchini (I got this recipe from, by the way)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. parsley flakes (I didn't have any so I used Italian seasoning, and it was still really good)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten

Slice the zucchini to about 1/2 inch thick.

Combine all the dry ingredients and then add the egg. Slowly add milk to make batter about the thickness of pancake batter. (too think and it won't stick to the zucchini, too thin and it will just run off--you want it to coat the zucchini fairly thick.)

Pour about 1/3 inch oil in a pan and heat over medium heat (you don't want the batter to cook too quickly). Dip the zucchini slices in the batter and slide into the oil. Turn over when they are golden brown on one side. Take out with a slotted spoon when the batter is golden brown all over, and drain on a paper towel.

These are delicious plain, but I like to dip them in ranch dressing or/and make a mayo/mustard dipping sauce . They are SO good! We also had corn on the cob and a bean and ham soup that I'd frozen awhile ago. Dev made cornbread to go with it. It was delicious! I LOVE how in the summer season when we get to eat fresh produce for most of our meals!

If you try them, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The ghosts of Independence Day Past

If you are like me, you can't remember what you were doing last week, let alone last year.

But there is one day a year that holds a lot of memories, and I can remember them fairly well. It's the fourth of July. Don't ask me what my last Christmas was like, or my birthday, or Easter, but for some reason, I can remember a lot of things about Independence days of the past. I was thinking about it last night while I was sitting on the lawn of the soccer field of the Hubby's school remembering how last year we were over there on the other side of the restrooms. We brought bubbles and blew them while we were waiting for it to get dark. Our adopted grandpa came with us. When we got all settled and "made camp" he brought out a bag of m&m's for us to munch on. My kids found some friends from the neighboring "camp" to run around with. Bogey was scared to hear the fireworks, but not scared to see them, so he sat on The Hubby's lap with one eye out peeking out of his blanket and both of his ears covered.

There are so many sweet memories associated with the fourth of July for me.

This year there was a storm moving in. We got set up in our camp spot and spread out a picnic dinner of chicken salad sandwiches, berries, crackers, and cookies. While we waited for the sun to go down we watched God's fireworks (aka the lightening storm coming in from the other side.) For a little while we thought the storm might ruin the fireworks, but it never moved in fast enough. Still, it was pretty amazing to have lightening behind us and fireworks in front of us. Almost like God was reminding us that he still loves America, too.

I started thinking about other Independence Days that were special to me.

Like the one ten years ago. Back when The hubby was just the Boyfriend, we were supposed to meet up with my family in my hometown, which was then only a little over an hour from my house, and go see the fireworks with them. We left our little college town fully intending to drive to my parents' house, but decided about half way there to stop in the town in between where the fireworks were shot over the river. We got there in the late afternoon and there were already gobs of people sitting on blankets on the banks of the river, playing ball, and kids running around. So we went a ways off, on the other side of the LDS temple to be together. Definately not an ideal spot for watching the fireworks, but perfect for us. We had a book of lists that we had started, places we wanted to go, books we wanted to read...names we liked. We had a bag of cherries. We spend the entire afternoon writing out our dreams of our future lives together, eating cherries and spitting out the seeds, and wrapping our brains around the idea that what we felt for each other may be eternal.

Two years later we ditched my family again. Only this time it wasn't intentional. It was before we had a cell phone. My family had gone up to the fireworks earlier to get a good spot, and we were going to meet them up there later. Except we couldn't find them. it also didn't help that we didn't get there until right before the show started. It was dark. And I got really discouraged since it was Dev's first fourth of July and it was turning out to be pretty crummy. She was cranky and tired, so we headed back to our car. We got there just as the show was starting. I was afraid she would be scared, so I wrapped her in her little pink blanket so that only her face was sticking out. Then handed her off to the Hubby, and we climbed up onto the hood of our car, and laid against the windshield to watch. Dev fell asleep all cuddled up against her daddy. I don't think I'll ever forget the way she looked wrapped in her pink blanket in the light of the fireworks.

There there was the year we went over to our good friends, the Burch's, to watch the fireworks from their driveway. Halfway through the show their son started singing "O Christmas Tree" very loudly. and we all laughed like maniacs. Those guys have made maniacs out of us many, many times since then, too.

I love that I can look back at all these Independence Days and see how I've changed and how my family has changed through the years. Everyone should have a day to remember where they were last year.

What did you do for your Fourth of July?

p.s. Please send prayers and good thoughts to my brother-in-law, Rex, who was hit in the eye with a scrap of fireworks. We are praying it will heal and he'll still have use of that eye!