Tag Archives: memories

The Last Time

The Last Time…

Last night, after the hubs and I finished reading a story to our oldest son, the kiddo passed out his typical round of hugs and kisses before jumping into bed. He jumped into my arms and at that moment I realized times were changing and fast. It happened before my eyes. Our oldest son is now 5.5 years old and for these 5.5 years I feel like we’ve done what we could to soak up every minute of his growing, his life, and his experiences… until this moment. He was so heavy; heavier than I could remember. His long legs now dangled down past my knees as he wrapped his arms around my neck. He is no longer the tiny little boy who could jump in my arms and I could carry him around on my hip. He’s a big boy now.

He went from this…Last Time 

…to this overnight!Last Time

Over the past several months I have nursed a high risk pregnancy, recovered from a cesarean section, and since have been carrying a baby around daily. I’ve not been able to pick up my kiddo as I used to months back. At that moment of him jumping into my arms I realized how much I missed. Despite me being present I still missed out on his growth and development into such a big strong boy.

The hubs and I wanted a second child but we had put off getting pregnant for a long time. I knew pregnancy would hinder me useless for several months due to a couple displeasing conditions (Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and a Septate Uterus). My lack of activity and participation wouldn’t be such a big deal if we were solo but we had a growing preschooler to tend to. I couldn’t pick him up as much, and towards the end, at all. Here today, 11 months later I see how much I have missed out on. I felt like years flashed before my eyes. What happened to my sweet baby?

A couple weeks after we told him he was going to be a big brother. I was at the height of my sickness (HG) and was couch or bed ridden. He was showing me his Ninja Turtle moves to cheer me up.Last Time

The hubs recently wrote two numbers on our kitchen white board. These numbers represent the number of times we have left to plan special moments with the boys before that telltale age when they’re ready to not “hang out” with mom and dad anymore. It makes you realize the time allotted for building memories with them as littles is all too short.

Brothers…Last Time

Time seems to pass even faster now that there are two. I can’t keep my eye on both of them long enough without a growth moment passing before my eyes. In the past three months, since our second son was born, my oldest son has blossomed into a brave, outgoing little boy; doing things we’ve never imagined he’d be doing until now.

Rock climbing all the way to the top!Last Time

First day of KindergartenLast Time

The littlest one is hitting his own milestones, changing diaper sizes, holding his head up without support, cooing, smiling and aware of the world around him. I’m not ready to hear “mom” instead of “mommy”. I’m not ready to let go of the cuddles. I’m not ready to let go of being their comfort when they’re scared at night after a bad dream. I’m not ready to let go of bedtime stories or kissing boo boos or any of it. I want to savor every minute… I wish I had savored more.

I look back on the years I stayed home with my first child and wish I had slowed down and soaked it all in just a little deeper. Due to my age and physical ailments while pregnant this will be the last time. The last time we’ll surprise our family with the news of a baby. The last time I will listen to a heart beat in my belly or feel the moment of flutters and kicks late at night. The last time I wake up in the early morning to change diaper after diaper and nurse hour after hour.

Moments after our 2nd son was born…Last Time

Last Time

I’ve heard some people say “I can’t wait till they’re out of the baby phase.” I get it. The whole process of trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing with this tiny fragile human life and to make sure you don’t fuck up is pretty damn stressful and hard… but I wouldn’t want to rush through any of it.

Soaking up the moments of bonding…Last Time

Looking back on my first son, I was so lucky to have the opportunity to get the extended time with him that I should have savored it more. This is why I’m trying my hardest to savor these moments with my youngest, because this is the last time.Last Time

Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter

“Peanut butter is the pâté of childhood.” ~ Florence Fabricant

I’ve always been a fan of the peanut; in its natural state, shelled, crushed, or creamy… the peanut is pretty awesome. The good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich never tires, my grandmother’s peanut butter cookies are better than any I’ve ever tasted, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – a treat my mom & I use to share when I was little brings back memories. I can remember my grandfather had his own designated jar of roasted & lightly salted peanuts always stored in the cupboard. You’d know he had eaten peanuts because he’d smell like a giant peanut. Consumed alone or cooked into delightful dishes such as Chile Peanut Crusted Chicken with Napa Cabbage and Radish Slaw or Grape Leaves stuffed with Mozzarella, Dry Monterey Jack, Peanuts, and Raisins, or Caribbean style chicken with Brown Sugar Peanut Spice rub – I love peanuts.

I can remember as a little girl, my mom and grandmother purchasing fresh made peanut butter at some of our local health food stores. There was a peanut grinding machine near the ‘specialty foods’ area. You could place an empty container in the machine, press a button, and a few minutes later you’d have fresh – nothing but peanuts – peanut butter. It was pretty neat and how awesome was that – we made our own peanut butter. How I forgot that it was so simple. Those machines seem to have disappeared and a majority of what is left on the store shelves has too much ‘unhealthy’ oils, salts, fats, and other ingredients I wouldn’t ever try to pronounce.

A couple of months back I heard a news report on the radio that the peanut industry was in trouble. The DJs on the radio joked peanut butter was going to equivilant to gold. If you were a kid in school and got a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch… you must be rich! I looked into the subject a little deeper and found that demand couldn’t be met in the last couple of years due to contamination, land space, and costs of goods. Southeast Farm Press

Reading this article and understanding the different obstacles the industry and it’s consumers face, it seems like it is another consumption problem – too easy, too much, too often. Between the unwanted ingredients and the energy used to process, package, and ship the peanut item, I decided to refrain from purchasing peanut butter… until now. I looked into local peanut options and was fortunate to find my favorite local organic farmstand, Pinnacle Organic, grows and sells peanuts during the late fall and winter seasons.

Peanuts, from planting to harvest have a 120-150 day growing period. They are usually planted after the last frost and require a soil temperature of 65 degrees F for germination. A little over a month after planting, the peanuts will begin to flower, another couple of weeks and the roots will develop and penetrate the soil, and lastly the peanuts will mature over a 10 week period, staggered. The soil must be well-drained; loose and sandy. (iastate.edu)

For some reason I didn’t think of peanuts in a “seasonal” sense but like anything else that grows… it grows in a season. I’ve decided to try to manage peanut butter in our household like we do with anything else for preservation. For example, during the height of tomato season I would buy extra tomatoes and can them. This is so I would have tomatoes throughout the non-tomato season and I would not have to depend on the BPA lined cans of something that is supposed to resemble a tomato from the grocery store. Each week I visit the farm to get my produce I will buy extra peanuts and soak, roast, and grind them at home for our own homemade peanut butter. A jar of fresh homemade peanut butter will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 months and in the freezer in a freezer safe container for up to a year. If you’ve used oil to cream the peanuts, the oil will separate in the freezer. When you are ready to use, you must thaw the homemade peanut butter completely – remix – and store in the refrigerator.

homemade peanut butter

I won’t kid you… the process is not hard but it is time-consuming. Homemade peanut butter is simply ground up peanuts. You can soak them in salt water and you can add a little oil for a smoother texture… but otherwise, it’s just peanuts… easy, right?! My family didn’t think so when I had them shelling peanuts for an entire morning; all to produce 2 pint jars of peanut butter that are now gone and we’re back to shelling again! I realize this process is not for everyone… afterall who has time to sit around shelling peanuts. For us its a matter of using things when they are in season, storing them for when they aren’t, and making sure we know what we’re consuming and were it’s come from… for that, I’ll spend time shelling a few peanuts.

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Peanut Butter
■ 1 pound peanuts, raw *^
■ 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (optional ingredient & note, if you are using table salt, reduce to 1 cup)
■ 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil (optional ingredient)
■ large pot for soaking + plate to keep peanuts submerged
■ tray for drying
■ food processor
■ water for soaking

Step 1: Place your peanuts in a strainer and rinse, removing as much surface dirt as possible. Drain. Place peanuts and kosher salt in the soaking pot, cover with water till the peanuts are submerged. Stir. Cover the peanuts with a plate to make sure they stay submerged for the soaking duration. After 1 hour, remove the plate and stir the peanut salt water mixture. Cover and continue soaking. Do this every hour for at least 3 up to 5 hours. Drain.

homemade peanut butter

Step 2: Single layer the peanuts on a cookie sheet and place in the oven on WARM or the lowest temperature your oven will allow – this will speed up the drying process. If you don’t want to run your oven they can air dry overnight. Once dry, place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing the peanuts throughout the cooking time to make sure they don’t burn.

homemade peanut butter

Step 3: Remove the peanuts from the oven and let cool. Once cool, the peanuts are ready for shelling. Make sure to remove the thin outer skin as well as the shell. The skins will make your peanut butter bitter.

homemade peanut butter

homemade peanut butter

Step 4: Once shelled, they are ready to enjoy… but if you’re wanting peanut butter… place your peanuts in a food processor and process, while drizzling the oil in slowly.

homemade peanut butter

The more oil, the smoother the texture. Process till you’ve found the consistency you like. This can take several minutes depending on how smooth you like your homemade peanut butter. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 4 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year. My kiddo enjoys his homemade peanut butter with homemade jam on homemade bread… best PB&J ever! Enjoy!

homemade peanut butter

Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque

Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup. ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

This is an oldie but a goodie. I posted this last year right before Halloween but I was without a blog. I felt it only appropriate to bring it out of archive history for another year of sharing… especially since the weather of fall has finally rested upon us and winter is around the corner. Chilly evenings deserve a giant bowl of soup! What better soup to serve than a healthy hearty bowl of butternut squash bisque. Enjoy!
~~~~

It’s a chilly late afternoon before Halloween. Pumpkins are being carved, last-minute touches are applied to costumes, candy is stocked up, and a fragrant pot of butternut squash bisque soup is simmering on the stove.

Autumn and winter are my favorite seasons. I favor the crisp air and the scent of chimney near dawn or dusk. Who doesn’t welcome an extra hour of sleep! Nostalgia sets in while watching timeless holiday cartoons on TV (It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas; Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer). Multi-hued leaves are littering lawns and sidewalks. I look forward to lazy, stormy days cuddled with a blanket and hot chocolate. What I love most during this time of year is the food; hearty, finger licking delectable holiday traditions and seasonal creations cooking up in kitchens everywhere.

As soon as the weather turns, it’s time for soup. Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque is one of my favorite soups to kick off the season. It’s relatively quick and easy to make; healthy for you; and overall its taste reminds me of the cooler seasons wrapped up in a bowl.

* organic
^ local
# homemade

Autumn Butternut Squash Bisque
■ 1 large butternut squash – peeled & chopped in uniform pieces *^
■ 2 medium potatoes – peeled & chopped in uniform pieces *^
■ 12 fresh sage leaves *^
■ 4-6 strips bacon *^ (can sub pancetta, salt pork,or NO pork at all to make vegetarian)
■ 1 shallot – diced *^
■ 3 cloves garlic – diced *^
■ 6 + cups chicken stock *^# (can sub vegetable stock to make vegetarian)
■ Kosher Salt / Pepper to taste
■ Olive oil for cooking ^
■ 1, 6 quart pot (recommended when using a large squash)

Optional
■ ½ cup cream to taste *^
■ 1 tsp red pepper flakes for heat
■ ¼ cup goat cheese for topping *^#

Step 1: Start off with a large butternut squash and two medium-sized potatoes. Peel and chop the squash and potatoes. Try to keep your pieces the same size for an even cooking time. Set aside.
butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

Step 2: Next, cut into strips, 4-6 pieces of bacon. You can substitute pancetta or salt pork. You can omit pork all together. Next dice one shallot and 2-3 cloves of garlic. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your pot (roughly 2-3 tablespoons). Add in the bacon, rendering the fat for a couple of minutes. Then add in the sage, shallots, and garlic. Be careful not to let the garlic burn or your soup will be bitter.
butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

Step 3: After the bacon has cooked down, the sage wilted, and the garlic and shallots caramelized, add in the squash and potatoes. Saute the vegetables until they are soft. Once the vegetables are soft, slowly add in 6 cups of chicken stock and bring to a light rolling boil.
butternut squash bisque

butternut squash bisque

Step 4: Lower the temperature to a simmer once the liquid has come to a boil. Stir the ingredients and skim the top occasionally. Simmer for roughly 45 – 60 minutes. Take off of heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use a hand mixer to blend all ingredients to a silky consistency. Salt and pepper to taste; at this time you may also add in red pepper flakes and heavy cream if you prefer a little heat and creamier texture to your soup.
butternut squash bisque

Serve in a bowl and top with your favorite goat cheese crumbles and a loaf of some crusty sour dough bread…enjoy!
butternut squash bisque

Original post written by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet on November 11th, 2011 at site: http://thesustainablesweetandsavorygourmet.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/autumn-butternut-squash-bisque/