Friday, September 15, 2017

Life Changes and We Move With Them

Life had changed so much for me since I started blogging.  When I started here I had little kids.  I stayed at home and took care of them.  I gardened and did what I could to be self sufficient so I could afford to stay home with them. 
Today, my children are teens and young adults..... and one tiny baby.   We had a surprise baby this year.  She has been the most amazing adventure we have all been on.  There is a 21 year gap between her and her oldest sibling.  She is beautiful, loved, and such a joy.  I always knew she would be part of my family but I had given up hope years and years ago that she would be mine. 
I still stay at home.  I am so blessed to be able to do this and spend my time with my littlest one and my other children.  I still garden and farm.  We still do all we can to be self sufficient so that we can enjoy this simpler life. 
Other life changes that have happened are that we have discovered that one of our daughters is now Celiac.  This has brought huge changes for our life.  We now have 2 kitchens.  One is devoted to being gluten free and the other is not.  This allows me to fix food safely for her (and myself) and still allows me to fix bread for my other children who are not gluten intolerant. 
I have watched both my parents pass away since starting here.  My father first nearly 10 years ago and my mother 2 1/2 years ago.  Both were my life and my children's lives.  We were happy with them.  We moved my mother in with us after dad died and took care of her till her end.  See, 45 years ago, I was a surprise baby to my two aging parents.  I was their bonus baby girl (they decided to be brave and have another baby so I wouldn't be alone and so I have a fabulous little brother.)  I learned so much from them and so did my children.  I miss them daily and there is an ache inside that I know that my little one doesn't get to grow up knowing them in this life.  I know all the things people say about that... all the cliche words... but I was that kid.  I know how sad it is on grandparent's day when you don't have one... and never really did have one.  My grandparents all were all gone but one by my first birthday and he was far away most of my first 8 years so I rarely got to see him.  I love to watch my little one look off to the corners of the room and coo and giggle at thin air.  I know my mom and dad and my mother-in-law are there letting this little one know how much she is loved.  I am glad that is there.  My job is to tell her their stories, to share their love,  and show her their things.  That is what I had and I loved it. It's what I had.
I hope to be able to get back into blogging.  I have been asked and asked to please do it again.  We have lots to share.  Being a baker, I have not taken the transition to Gluten Free quietly.  I refuse to eat food that tastes and feels terrible.  I have made some amazing discoveries (for me) and need to share them.  My GF friends that come to eat with us are always amazed that I have figured out how to make certain things GF and that they taste as good if not better than their memory of the original.  Bread is another story... I can't make anything that doesn't taste like baked play dough but... I am sure we will figure something out... sometime. 
I am going to have to learn how to blog all over again.  I can't even remember how to add a picture.... ack.  I will do my best.  Life is fun and we will figure this out.  I will have to do some new learning.  Thank you for coming back for a visit.  I am looking forward to sharing more with you.
Lots of love,
Mama Byrd

Friday, January 29, 2016

Creamy Mac 'n Cheese

*****I will add photos as soon as I have them *****

Major comfort food here!  My mom made this when I was little and when I started cooking, she pointed me to this cookbook and said "Learn!"  So I did.

This is my all time, favorite American Food cookbook, James Beard's American Cookery.  It isn't the junk side of American cooking but the homemade, melding of traditions cooking.  I love it.  And... as a kid learning to cook, I loved that he always told you where the dish came from and listed historical facts.

My favorite recipe from this book is the Macaroni and Cheese recipe.  Apparently at one time it was called Macaroni pudding.

So Here goes the Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese as adapted from the James Beard cookbook.

1 pound macaroni
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
2 dashes Sriracha sauce
3 cups shredded cheese
Buttered Bread Crumbs

Boil the macaroni in salted water till just tender.  Drain well.
Prepare white sauce -  melt butter in a heavy saucepan, blend with the flour, and cook several minutes over medium heat.  Heat the milk to the boiling point, stir into the flour-butter mixture, and continue stirring till it thickens.  Add the seasonings and simmer 4 to 5 minutes.
Butter a 4 quart baking dish or casserole.
Arrange alternate layers of macaroni, sauce, and cheese, ending with the cheese.  Cover the top with the buttered crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve at once.

I used to mix the cheese into the sauce and melt it and I have also used prepared mustard instead of the dry mustard... I like it both ways BUT this way is creamier and I think tastes better.  My kids agree.  I have found that when you melt the cheese in the sauce it can go grainy... not good eats for a texture issues child.  So... This way wins now and is much easier.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Beans and Peaches

Tonight's dinner is the cheapest yet.  Beans!

I think I spent less than 2 dollars on the beans we cooked up tonight.  I keep dry beans on hand all the time.  They make for a fairly quick, filling meal.
I got this recipe for my friend's blog.  You can get the recipe here.
I have been making it for several years now.  It is so simple and so good.  All my kids like it and eat it up.  It has no meat in it.  It can be added if you want but it isn't required.  We pair the beans with fresh bread or corn bread to complete the protein.  We also had home bottled peaches for desert.  We haven't had them for so long.  It was a great year for peaches in Missouri this year.  We were lucky and got more than 60 quarts bottled up.

They are a real treat.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Spicy Tomato Soup

This is another recipe we have been making for more than 25 years.  I got the recipe from my sister-in-law, Lee.  It is my favorite and I crave it.  It reminds me of my brother and his home and that always makes me happy.  I always use home bottled tomatoes for this recipe.  If you don't have that, look for a large can of stewed tomatoes.  A bottle of tomatoes is about 32 oz. so look for something comparable.  This recipe also calls for cloves and nutmeg.  They may sound a little weird at first but they give this soup it's signature flavor.  The whole house is filling with the smell of this spicy soup..... Oh and hot fresh bread.  My daughter made some to go with the soup.  Again... we are on budget and all this food came from the pantry.

Spicy Tomato Soup


1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart of bottled tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth (if you make your own bone broth... it makes the soup even better)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a stock pot.
Add the onions and saute until limp.
Add the bottle of tomatoes and the broth.
Add the herbs and spices.
Bring to a soft boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with fresh bread or yummy cheese sandwiches.

My sister-in-law is a talented artist.  She also makes the most amazing salve, Mom's Stuff.

She has been making this stuff for years.  We love it.  One of the key ingredients is pinion pine pitch.  It smells so lovely and reminds me of home.  We use it for dry skin on hands, feet, and face.  We use it for cuts and scrapes.  My son uses it on our farm animals to help heal up minor cuts and scrapes.  It is a must around here, especially in the winter.  You should really give it a try.

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