A stopping place for your child

Today’s my Thursday at Writer…Interrupted. I’m musing about the incredibly delicate balancing act we mothers with “side-interests” face. Hope you come over there and share your thoughts too.

On other fun topics, it’s about baby chick time again! And my original flock of 25 is fine and dandy. Spring must be in the air, as egg production is bumping up even without my daily dosing of their feed with cayenne pepper!

My 4.5 year old is reading! And loving it! All this after discovering she could spell with the kindergartners and first graders at our homeschool co-op’s practice spelling bee. She did so well we dusted off the early readers we had laying around and she’s addicted.

I’ve ordered some beautiful copywork books from queenhomeschool.com, and can’t wait till their arrival! Also have a fun music book on its way from playbyear.com. Fun, fun!

What’s new with you?

Cream of Asparagus Soup

AsparagusI’m so excited about this spur-of-the-moment recipe! Mostly because my two youngest daughters hold no fondness for steamed asparagus, but both requested seconds of this  deliciously healthy soup!

Do you ever start making a meal with no ideas on what you’re actually going to end up with? I did this today at lunchtime. When staring into my pantry netted no appetizing ideas, I removed a package of asparagus from the freezer and started some water boiling in a saucepan. We’re out of noodles and I didn’t feel like making any, and I wasn’t much in the mood for sandwiches either…so as I stood there watching the asparagus steam, I decided to try–for the first time ever–my hand at cream of asparagus soup!

Here’s what I did, because it’s super easy and I’m sure glad I’ve found a way to get asparagus into my two youngest!

Mary’s Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 6 oz (half of a 12 oz pkg) frozen asparagus spears (or the fresh equivalent), steamed till tender (save the cooking water)
  • chicken bouillon to fix 2-3 cups broth (or use prepared broth)
  • one minced clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Co-Jack cheese
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Great White Northern Bean flour

Remove steamed asparagus from saucepan and puree it till smooth, or use a food chopper to chop it fine. Add 2-3 cups water to the “asparagus water” and bring it to a boil, adding bouillon to dissolve, or prepared chicken broth. Add minced garlic and onion, and whisk in 3-4 TB bean flour till dissolved. Return pureed asparagus to pot and add milk and cheese. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes, until soup has thickened and cheese has melted. Eat your hearts out.

If you don’t have bean flour, you could just thicken it with flour by removing 3/4 cup of the soup broth to a separate bowl and whisking in 2-3 TB flour till blended then adding it to the soup again…but the bean flour works marvelously and is so much healthier for your family!

Mmm! Wish we’d had leftovers. Oh–this recipe makes five big bowls full.

Healthier Gravies and Soups with Bean Flour

That lady at church, the one handing out snack sized baggies of white bean flour samples? Yeah, that’d be me.  You see, I just discovered the absolute coolest (this week anyway) substitute for flour as a thickening agent! Great White Northern beans!

Country Beans by Rita Bingham, is another superb cookbook for the serious homemaker. Whether you want to sneak that extra bit of protein into soups and sauces, or if you’re trying to cater to special diets (gluten-free, lactose-free, for instance) this cookbook is a worthwhile purchase. My copy was given to me a month ago and I can only say I wish I’d had it 15 years ago when I first started keeping hearth and home!

After reading about the multiple uses for bean flour, I’ve had a blast experimenting. Thankfully, my mom is generously loaning me her wheat grinder to grind up beans*. Pinto beans for an excellent instant refried bean recipe (3/4 cup of this make-ahead mix whisked into 2.5 cups boiling water and voila, refried beans in minutes–which mixed with picante sauce and topped with melted cheese…mmmm–it’s so good!), Great White Northern beans for thickening gravies and soups a tablespoon at a time. Best part about it is you can’t taste the beans!

I made a big pot of tomato soup to go with grilled cheese sandwiches the other day when we had friends over…none of the six children present were aware that they were eating beans with their soup. And the soup thickened up so nicely…

Today I fixed pot roast for lunch with my parents. In making gravy, I poured the pan juices from the beef roast into a sauce pan, brought them to boiling and added 3 tablespoons white bean powder, whisking thoroughly with my Pampered Chef mini-whipper (every cook needs one of these, they eradicate lumps!). I let it simmer for several minutes and served it with Yukon Gold potatoes and the beef…talk about tasty and smooth, and the perfect gravy consistency. Three cheers for bean powder!

This cookbook has a variety of ways to use up beans, from chips to crackers to hearty bean soups (it’s not all about powdered beans!) to breads and salads, to sprouting beans and canning them, and how to incorporate them into breakfast foods, drinks and shakes.

Last but not least, here are some pluses about bean flour:

  • bean flours are said to be easier to digest
  • and implementing them into your cooking a little bit at a time helps your digestive system develop the enzymes needed to digest beans efficiently
  • bean flour thickens in 1-3 minutes after adding it to hot soups and gravies
  • beans are cheap, big nutritional bang for your buck
  • no chemical additives, colorings, flavorings–a great whole foods choice
  • beans are high in B vitamins, iron, and carbohydrates (these bean carbs are “working calories” which digest slowly and satisfy your hunger longer!)

What other incredibly unique cookbooks are out there? I’d love to know!

*note: when using a grain grinder to grind beans, run a cup of hard wheat berries through after every two cups of beans to clean the grinding stones.

Dreaming of Spring

Rainstorms last night and this morning have left the outdoors a bit too muddy for me, personally, to be out there enjoying it! But it’s 60 degrees out there and the wind is whipping,  sure to dry things out soon enough.

Small Comforts

So we’re letting the hope of springtime blow in through the windows. Why not? Rains tamped down any threat of dust, the temperature’s right, and I’ve been in a spring cleaning mood all morning! Windows MUST be open for the enthusiastic spring clean, right? Admittedly, I should say the desire is there, but  it hasn’t progressed beyond wishful thinking as we’ve been too busy doing school and crafting Valentines to get much cleaning accomplished. Quite the opposite, as mothers of crafters know all too well.

But I had to get on here and exclaim about this day! Can it possibly be the middle of February? We’ve had the corn stove turned off for three days! Three days!

What’s the weather like in your hometown? And doesn’t this picture beg you to pack a picnic and take to the woods? Ahh, I can smell the fresh air now!

10 Favorite things that start with E

Jen, a bloggy friend from New Zealand, tagged me a while back for this fun meme…let me know if you want to play and I’ll assign you an alphabet letter for your favorite things…Jen gave me the letter “E”…

So here goes:

Eggs!!! We have had eggs steadily throughout winter, on average around 17 a day. And we’ve been blessed to be able to sell all the ones we don’t use ourselves…lovely brown and green cackleberries (as Farmer John calls them…)

Electricity~ One of my favorite modern conveniences!

Enthusiasm~ a most important quality of both teachers and students!

Enamelware~ the only thing I collect, and I have very few pieces. It just transports me to a simpler time and place. I love it!

Edelweiss~ My favorite lullaby as a baby–all my siblings sang it to me as they one by one sneaked into the nursery and rocked me to sleep, unbeknownst to my mother…and she wondered why I was spoiled? It’s also a plant growing high in the Alps, with white leaves and flowers…

Eight year olds~ I’m blessed to be a mommy to one very special 8 year old!

Educating~ I can’t imagine a more rewarding job than that of educating one’s own children. Educating one’s self is almost as rewarding. You’re never too old to learn, and the subjects abound! That’s a blessing!

Echinacea~ The first herb that I had major success with in preventing many illnesses in my family. I can’t wait to learn to identify it in the wild and make my own remedies with what I’ve harvested!

Elm, Slippery Elm, that is… What a great herb! From abcesses to diarrhea or other digestive tract problems to poison oak/ivy and to ulcers–this herb is relatively new to me, yet we’ve already used it with quick results on common colds and bronchitis!

Each one of you… *smile* This place would be hum-drum without you. I’m so glad you keep stopping by!