Stir Fry–Why has it been so long?

Haven’t made stir fry in a l-o-n-g time.  We like it; why haven’t we eaten it recently?  Anyway, I had put it on the menu plan for last night.  I pulled a chicken breast out of the freezer (one of those rare packages where I actually boned the breast before freezing—nice to have a few like that).  The marinate is an old staple:

2 Tbsp. white wine (or cooking sherry)

2 Tbsp. tamari

2 tsp. cornstarch (or arrowroot works)

1 tsp. minced ginger or ¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. garlic powder (I used homemade)

Marinate chicken, sliced thinly across the grain, for about 20 minutes while cutting up whatever quantities you like of:



Garlic scapes

Sugar snap pea pods

Other veggie delights of your choosing?

Heat wok to fairly high heat; stir fry veggies starting with the longest-cooking first.  When tender-crisp remove to a waiting bowl; add chicken in its marinade to the wok and stir fry quickly until done through.  Combine veggies with the chicken and stir fry just long enough to coat them all with marinate.

Serve over soaked brown rice (I use a generous 4 cups water, 2 cups rice, about 2 Tbsp kefir or whey; soak for several hours, then barely simmer in a covered pan for about 45 minutes until done).

This is a wonderfully tasty summer meal—quick, fresh, filling.  Nice for the end of a busy day!  (Next time I’ll remember to take a picture—it’s pretty, too)


June 30, 2010 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

Here’s what’s happening on this front

Yesterday I met with my kids’ ministry team.  They’re incredible–loyal, hard-working, each having called a team of teachers and helpers around them, supporting each other and the vision.  It’s invigorating to be a part of a team of passionate people discipling the next generation for Jesus!

Tar paper on the roof

The framers are still here today finishing the tar paper, a little sheeting on the walls and building soffits in various rooms to add interest and provide an effective place to install can lights (one of my favorite kinds of lighting).  The guy who’s doing the soffits actually started on my office/studio space.  It has a big south-facing window looking right into the garden and greenhouse.  I’ll have soffits around all four sides of the room; then in the nook where I’ll put the computer and home office stuff we’ll drop the soffit another 6″ to sort of “nest it in.”  Just talking about it gets me excited to be able to share finished pictures of that soffit detail.

It’s so obvious that we’re trading housebuilding for gardening this year.  The rain so overran the garden with weeds and we haven’t had time or energy to do much with it.  I have a lot of tomato plants started, and with some help scheduled for tomorrow (one of our youth needs to make some money and we need some help!), we may get some of those in the ground–both outside and in the greenhouse.  Oh, and peppers, too.  I like “Senorita Jalapeno,” a mild tasting pepper and a sweet red pepper, as well.  There should be a spot to plant them somewhere.  I managed to get 8 sweet potato plants in a bed just outside the greenhouse and then the salad greens, carrots and beets in another couple beds.  Now where to put the leeks, brussel sprouts, broccoli that I’ve started as well?

Chickens are having a fairly rough year, as well.  Out of our replacement batch of laying “hens,” it looks like at least 5 or 6 of them (out of 24, I think) are roosters!  They’re just like hormonally-challenged, out of control teenage boys at this stage, very obnoxious and rough on the little pullets.  We need to make them into stew or jerky or whatever the plan becomes.  Meat birds are having a high attrition rate, and we don’t know why.  Not quite as many for the freezer as we’d planned.  I may want to try another kind of meat bird next year, one that grows a little slower but is hardier.

Still need to work on the organization plan.  Why is it that I tend to make the simple so complex (in striving to keep it simple)?  Kind of a “duh,” isn’t it?  I’d also like to copy a favorite t-shirt, make a pattern that works well for both remodeling large thrift store finds and making shirts from yardage.  I would really like to do a little sewing this summer.  We’ll see.

June 28, 2010 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

House Building and Kefir Soda

Odd-sounding bedfellows, building houses and making soda–but both are very excellent!

The sheeting is coming right along on the roof today.  Looks like they’ll have that about done before they head for home today.  We spent about 2 1/2 hours this morning at the kitchen table hammering out lighting (that’s a very important issue for me; I think lighting is critical).  Our friend Dave is rather expert in all sorts of construction areas, but he really enjoys being creative, and practical, with lighting.  We came up with a combination of can lights, interesting soffit ideas to work with the lights, fluorescent for closets and laundry space, and task lighting.  He also got us thinking about wiring for sound and a creative way to light up the main living space.  Once again, it was great fun, but definitely “brain taxing” and tiring.

So then I went to a “brown bag lunch” at our community library (I work there on Saturdays), where there’s a summer series on local foods, farms, CSAs, etc.  This particular one had to do with buying and raising pastured chicken, beef, lamb, and pork.  We spent the majority of our time on chickens because there was a lot of interest, and I believe I learned a lot.  Wonderful to share with someone who’s a little further down the road in their experience!

Then we made a short trip to the Wednesday Farmers’ Market to have burgers (yummy local beef) for lunch and check out the rest of the produce, crafts, baked goodies.  I can’t imagine summer without the farmers’ markets–they’re such a part of the community’s culture.

Lastly, the boys (grandson and his half brother) were up yesterday scarfing the last of my homemade grape kefir.  That necessitated making some more, and I have some excellent directions from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  I’ve been using the frozen grape juice I made from our grapevines last summer.  It’s a hit with all of us!  Tangy, refreshing, fizzy, but still mild.  I’m liking it better than my homemade kombucha, but then I’ve never been real pleased with that. Have to say the taste is great, but also the fact that I can make it and have it bottled in a little over 2 days is helpful.


June 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

Several Fronts

Today was again a day of much happening.  I love to watch anyone (in this case the house framers) who’s so good at what they do it’s like time lapse photography.  They move “nice and easy,” but looking out the window again in 20 minutes their progress is remarkable!  Trusses are probably 85% completed (in one day by just 2 guys!).  I know this part of the project goes much more quickly than the finish work at the end, but still…

Finally made it to staff meeting at  church today; it’s not impossible to get there with young grandson, but this 3-year-old is not easily moved from his own unique time schedule.  So mostly I’ve just missed the meetings, even though I like to be there, waiting for the lighter summer childcare schedule.

This afternoon I was actually able to motivate myself to get some garden maintenance done.  I have a couple beds outside the greenhouse with 1-2″ high salad greens, assorted beets and carrots–and now they’re weeded and covered with mesh to keep the quail from eating all the tender young plants.  If only it wasn’t quite so daunting out there this year; the rain has made for a tangled, green jungle of a garden, and I’m not real sure where to start.  I think I need to hire a little teenage help.

Several weeks ago I made a triple or quadruple batch of soaked flour tortillas.  They’ve very handy to have in the freezer, and tonight we pulled some out along with some already-cooked beans, added some chopped garlic scapes, scrambled egg, grated pepper jack cheese and salsa (I miss my fermented salsa!).  It was a humble dinner, not much for vegetables, but it tasted good.  Sometimes there’s just not much energy left for creative dinners.

One excited guy!


June 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm Leave a comment

Another drizzly day

Have to let the “Son” shine in our lives today (well, always) because the “sun” is well hidden…again.  It’s not cold, just overcast and rather dreary.  I’m so affected by sun vs overcast and raining–it really is about learning to let the Son (Jesus) so shine in my daily life that the weather doesn’t matter.  Tall order.

The framers are on the job early this morning–trusses are being delivered today, and I believe they’re setting posts in place to hold the porches around the north and west sides of the house.  Those posts are cut from very special trees on our timbered property at Rocky Creek, and they’ll mean a lot incorporated into our new home.

I made a fun plaque for my father yesterday and left it for him on the way to church.  My daughter and I had found some stuff at Bargain Barn in Liberty Lake on Friday, and one of the things was a little sample cabinet door.  So I printed out my message on parchment paper, added a little cartoon guy peeking around the side, and that was Pop’s Fathers Day present.

Happy Fathers Day, Pop!

June 21, 2010 at 7:07 am Leave a comment

Progress continues…

This is going to be so comfortable inside

Still raining, but the outside walls are all now double-framed, and we now have a couple of interior walls up and others mostly assembled on the wall, nearly ready to put in position.

Grandson and I spent nearly all day inside again–reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (I’m fairly convinced there’s a lot of it he doesn’t understand, but nevertheless he wants me to read it).  Today we read about Mr. Tumness, talked about what kind of creature he is, and finally found a picture of an actor playing Mr. Tumness on Google Images.  We also got out the watercolors and painted together–as in both of us painting on the same piece of paper!  It was great fun, and he did surprisingly well with color and some design.  I think his attention span for painting was about 45 minutes–that was amazing for a 3-year-old!!

Tonight I pan fried a sirloin steak, getting it much more medium than rare (sigh) and had a salad with it–greens from the greenhouse, crispy radishes from a friend’s garden, pea pods and broccoli from the greenhouse as well, and asparagus out of the garden.

Tomorrow’s not supposed to be quite as rainy.  My spirit could use another sunny day.

June 17, 2010 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

And counting…

A blessing and a promise for our new home

Even in the cold rain, the framers kept cruising along on the house today.  So we now have a beautiful slab (with radiant heat floors plumbed into it), and we’re two days into the framing.  The house has double-wall framing with cellulose fiber insulation (very green, very fire-resistant and non-toxic) packed into the space between the outside and inside wall.  Extremely energy-efficient in this climate; it’ll be an easy house to keep comfortable.  Next Monday we’re due for the trusses.

DH is at a pastors’ conference in Boise for a couple days; I’m hanging out at the homefront, caring for grandson, what little garden we have this year, watching the numerous batches of chickens (layers, replacement layers, first and second set of meat birds!).  I’m even getting a little bit of computer time in this evening–figuring out how to get my profile picture sized for Twitter, then connecting Twitter and Facebook and this blog.  Amazing, just how much we can connect all these social-type sites together.

Speaking of connecting, I know it’s about time to get back to the organizational plan to connect home, business, church into one calendar-type check list.  I promise myself I’ll work on it again very soon.  Right now I’m just enjoying a quiet evening with no plans or commitments.

June 16, 2010 at 7:12 pm Leave a comment

Making Progress on Scheduling Challenges!

For some time I’ve been overwhelmed with how to keep all the details of life together in this season.  We’re grandparents of a 3-year-old who’s here most weekdays, we’re building a new house while living in the garage/studio (doing some finish work on it at the same time), we pastor a church (I oversee the children’s ministry team), have a small construction business, greenhouse and garden, raise chickens for eggs and meat, sell a bit of garden produce…

So, today I sat down to lay out some of the elements that need to be tied together into one coordinated schedule (I don’t want to have 5 or 6 different lists–aarrgh).  I’ve begun to identify several weekly elements:  kids’ church responsibilities, financial deadlines,  government reports due dates, bookkeeping entries for each bank account, personal and business.  Then there are monthly tasks–business sales tax report, allowance check and reimbursement check for monies we’ve spent on budgeted items from our personal allowance, reconciling each bank statement, printing reports from QuickBooks.  A couple quarterly reports for withholding deposits (personal) and employee reports (business) add to the seeming complexity of the situation.  Then there are strictly household tasks like meal planning, garden and greenhouse scheduling, home cleaning and maintenance tasks, oil changes, tire rotation, etc. etc.

I’m still in the “think of a piece, write it down, sort it out later” phase. However, I’m envisioning a coordination with my small purse planner and a section of the household notebook where I’ll have a dated monthly check-off list of regular responsibilities with room to plug in appointments or meetings from the purse planner.  One of the check-off items will be checking that planner.

Another part of this “planning storm” is the idea of developing a “Favorites” list for Costco, our local healthy foods market and any other general house/kitchen items.  With that list to check against, each time I’m buying from that location, I’ll at least have a record of my “regulars.”

Reading over again what I’ve written, I’m keenly aware of the very large size of this undertaking.  I’ll have to take incremental “small bites.”  Blogging it should help me keep on track and moving forward.  Stay tuned…

June 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm Leave a comment

Plain Ole Hamburger Pasta Made Special

Yes, I know I haven’t written since the end of April–which prompted an “oh my gosh!” response when I first realized how long it had been. However, moving and beginning a new house have been taking significant amounts of both time and creative energy, not to mention matching (no, trying to match) activity levels with a 3-year-old most days. Yikes!

Anyway, here’s a process for making “really good” pasta. It was on my menu plan to do some sort of hamburger macaroni dish tonight, which didn’t sound particularly inspired. But…I pulled an old issue of Fine Cooking off the shelf, one that had an article on baked pasta, and there was the inspiration.

Basically, it’s about the “process,” not an exact recipe. I still browned my hamburger (pastured beef) with onions in a little coconut oil, then made a fairly thin bechamel sauce and added asparagus, a few dried morel mushrooms, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of Anaheim chili flakes, just a little cheddar cheese and grated parmesan.

I cooked penne pasta for two minutes less than the box suggested, drained it but didn’t rinse it. Then I combined the sauce and pasta in a shallow baking pan (mine’s oval shaped, about 8″x12″ or so).   I sprinkled on bread crumbs (easy to make in the Vita-Mix or a food processor), another grinding of parmesan and into a preheated 425F oven for about 17-18 minutes.

Again, it’s the process and principles that are important:
1) undercook the pasta; don’t rinse it
2) make a thin white sauce
3) use breadcrumbs for a crispy top
4) go lightly on the cheese–just add a little flavor
5) season each element as you go; salt and pepper on top won’t permeate the whole dish
6) bake in a hot oven for a short time to keep the pasta from “gluing” itself together

We really liked it!

June 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

I’m Still Here!

Just a very quick note to say that I haven’t abandoned my blog. I just spent a few moments touching base with some other favorite blogs out there. I’m inspired, but it can’t be a major focus right now.

We’re moving out of a mobile home that’s been on our property for 20 years (and we’ve lived in for the past 6 years ourselves). We’ll be completely out with another few hours effort, and we’re becoming more comfortably ensconced in the garage as a short-term living quarters as we build a house. Yay! My kitchen routine is extremely disrupted at the moment–dishes, stove, sink and dishwasher in the mobile home, refrigerator, washer/dryer and increasingly more of the essentials in the garage. I’m thinking, “give me another few hours” (and a friend plumbing in the garage sink) and we’ll be functional again. Actually, I did soak batter for pancakes last night, so we’ll have a good breakfast. It’s just odd, rather disorienting experiencing such a major disruption in routine.

I’ll keep posting as we go, possibly putting up a few pictures as well. It’s a good thing, positive, but chaotic. Thanks for our lovely, administrative daughter who spent a couple hours (after working all day) helping sort it out and bring some order and breathing space. I’m hopeful that we’ll soon be somewhat normal again. Oh, and one of the plusses from yesterday–there was room for a larger table in the kitchen space so we can actually have friends for dinner without banging into each others’ knees. That’s a “God gift!”

More later…

April 24, 2010 at 6:16 am Leave a comment

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