Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Toilet Fun?

While I was apparently failing to pay attention Gus grabbed gobs of toilet paper. He then proceed to run like a mad man out of the bathroom, through the kitchen, onto the living room chair.
Reese broke the strand. Gus abandoned his chair post and latched on to the part still attached where Reese had broken it. A tug of war ensued. I decreed they must cease and desist with pulling new paper off the roll. I threw up my hands and said "Whatever, you may as well play with the part you've pulled off." But the oh so helpful Reese decided to snatch it all from his brothers clutches. And bolted...

While I desperately screamed "NO! NOT! IN! THE! TOILET! NO FLUSHING!!!!!!"
But he got it all into the toilet....and flushed. Here is my bowl seemingly completely dry except for the dripping wet wad of about half a roll of TP. I called Kyle to ask if I could just flush some more or what. He said absolutely not. He said "You (meaning me) need to pick it out by hand and put it in the trash." Well, we had some places to be and ran out of time. Luckily my husband is awesome and when he came home from work he immediately checked it and scooped all the TP out into the trash by hand without complaint. Hooray!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Wow we've been on a bit of an eating out kick. We're are buckling down and eating dinner at home...indefinitely, starting NOW.

Monday: finish up leftovers (Costco pizza)
Tuesday: Roasted Garden Vegetable Lasagna
Wednesday: Flat Iron Steak on the grill from the grass-fed guy at the farmer's market, baked potatoes and zucchini
Thursday: Spaghetti squash with sausage
Friday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean taco a la Anya
Saturday: Beans and Rice Tostada
Sunday: The Sandwich King's Italian Beef Sandwiches

Check out what everyone else is eating at Organizing Junkie!

oops Just noticed Gus is wearing the same shirt in his June and July photos. I promise he has other clothes.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Big Fat Hole in my Education

I just read a blog post that combined titles from lists found at College Board and The Most Recommended Books List from Reading Lists for College-Bound Students and went through to see what she completed. I am proud to say that even though she was 3 1/2 years into a pHd I have read more than her, but wow there are so many I have never read. My plan is to get though all of these eventually. Anyone want to read them with me?
The titles in italics and red are the ones I've read. I couldn't figure out how to strike out the titles. Hopefully the red doesn't hurt the eyes.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It On the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - Seize the Day
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Carroll, Lewis - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Cather, Willa - My Antonia
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Cervantes, Miguel de - Don Quixote
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoevski, Feodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Forster, E. M. - A Passage to India
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - The Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henry - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kafka, Franz - The Trial
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lawrence, D. H. - Sons and Lovers
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Sinclair, Lewis - Babbitt
London, Jack - Call of the Wild
Malamud, Bernard - The Assistant
Mann, Thomas - Death in Venice
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
Morrison, Toni - Sula
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Olsen, Tillie - Tell Me a Riddle
O' Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey Into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Paton, Alan - Cry the Beloved Country
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - The Fall of the House of Usher, The Purloined Letter, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J. D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Scott, Sir Walter - Ivanhoe
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer's Night Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William Makepeace - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Updike, John - Rabbit, Run
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt - Slaughterhouse Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Welty, Eudora - From the book "Thirteen Stories" - Why I Live at the PO, The Worn Path, The Petrified Man
Wharton, Edith - The Age of Innocence
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

I actually possess several of these books that I purchased years ago to start a classics bookclub with a co-worker. We read Virginia Woolf - A Room of One's Own and started Moby Dick. We couldn't get through Moby Dick and our book club idea fell apart. I did recently find Moby Dick for elementary age readers in the dollar bin a Target so maybe I'll start there. :)

Garden Monsters

Oh yeah, these are the babies coming out of our garden. I am certain I check daily and yet they go from way too little to pick (like mini sweet gherkin pickle sized) to this gigantic monster of a zucchini. This one really tested Reese's muscles. I spent the better part of a day shredding it. I'd shred a little, do something else, shred a little, do something else...on and on. My elbow and wrist REALLY hurt. My friend Anya pointed out that I was a lunatic and need to use the food processor. When I discovered that her full size processor has a shred attachment that my mini-prep does not I packed up my 18.5 pounds of zucchini and dropped them off at her house the next morning. The boys and I headed out for a play date, then swung by her house on the way home to pick up beautifully shredded zucchini...not soggy like my shredded by hand zucchini. She kept one honking big zucchini and I took home 2 or 3 gallon ziploc bags--geez I can't remember how many. I gave one bag away. I made 89 muffins with the rest. My hand shredded one filled a 12 qt tupperware bowl. I used that first. I still have about a half a gallon of shredded zucchini to use up. I only have 2 muffins pans so all the waiting to be able to refill them made me run out of time and I haven't revisited baking day. But I will!
Now the search for yummy ways to eat normal sized zucchini begins.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Over the years we've done a lot of group canning events. In 2007 we worked with a TON of apples. Can you believe how little Reese is? In 2008 we made applesauce and jam. I also made pear butter with Kyle's grandmom and mom. In 2009 we did nectarines, this was Gus' first time. In 2010 there was just so much going on with new babies and moving I had no canning dates. :(
This year we joined forces with the Monroe Family at the Picha Farm for strawberry picking. My friend and I and our combined 8 kids picked for approximately 2 hours. That included walking from the pay place to the berry patch, so probably 1.5 hours of picking. Let's just say we are happy, oh so happy we are not professional pickers. But the sunburn and achy muscles netted us a pretty good haul. I picked a 10 pound box and got a box of "jammers" free...probably also about 10 pounds. The Monroe's picked I think 30 pounds, plus the jammer box and a box of raspberries.
That clump of twiggy, weed looking stuff is Gus' contribution to the box.

Then we made freezer jam:
plus those 2 cases of jars! That was just my share! It went on forever!! We're stocked up until next year for sure.

A couple of weeks later we made pickles. We made 12 quarts of Dill Pickles each and a bunch of Bread & Butter pickles. We decided we didn't get enough pickles to last us ALL YEAR, so we needed more.
The second time around we decided to make spears.
And we thought since we have so much jam and any new berries would just produce more jam we needed to branch out. We figured we'd try our hand at ketchup. Oh, what a mistake! Except for the hilarity it provided in the lives of others, this was not a worthwhile endeavor. Well, unless you count the life experience and friendship memories. We had fun, sort of.
I went to Cash and Carry where I paid $27 for 50 pounds of Roma tomatoes. Everywhere else was $1.49-$2.99 a pound so this was a bargain! Which is why I decided to go for the gusto and get 2 boxes of 25 pounds. We wanted to make sure we actually got a reasonable amount.
First of all the recipe was a big fat lie. It said dip the tomato in boiling water for 60 seconds until the skin split. Well that took about 15 minutes for each batch. Then we plunged it into ice water and removed the skin. Yes the skin came off easily, but pretty instantly the water was hot, we ran out of ice and boiling tomato juice was squirting out at us!
Then we moved onto quartering and de-seeding...endless!! Finally we got to the cook it until it reduces by half. "This should take 1-2 hours." LIES! LIES!! LIES!!! Big fat lies, I tell you. After about 2 hours on the Monroe stove we had to pack it in. I was afraid it would spill in my sparkling new-ish van, so I raced in after work traffic to pick up Kyle on his walk home from work and raced back to pick up the boiling pot of tomatoes. Kyle held it on his lap to take it back to our house. It cooked for 6 hours at my house, was off for 5 hours, then back on from 5:30AM until I gave up on reducing and thickening and processed it at 2:30pm.
I ladled it into a sieve and collected the "juice" since it never got to the point where the liquids don't separate. I had enough to make 12 pints.

Twelve lovely, hard earned pints of ketchup. Six for the Monroes and six for the Benzas. I suspect in the future as long as it's less than $8 we'll happily fork over cash for gourmet, organic, chemical free ketchup.
I also processed 6 half pints of ketchup juice, but since that sounds revolting I'm calling it spicy tomato stock. We'll use it in chili, stew, soups and the like.

I'm hoping we get enough pears on our tree to can some slices and pear butter this fall. We're looking forward (I'm pretty sure it's not just me) Canning 2012, but we'll make some more informed choices.

***update: I forgot to mention that Kyle was surprised at how little 50 pounds of tomatoes looked in a gigantic stock pot and he was even more shocked at how that gigantic stock pot full of tomatoes became 12 little pints.

Check out Anya's take on our splendid experience.