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“From Scratch” Ain’t Always Worth It

I know.  It’s a stunner.  I’m a total DIY girl, but I have realized today that somethings are just not worth DIY-ing.  Is that a word?  (Dang you, Pinterest, for nourishing my fevered desire to do it myself.)  Certainly, there are things that I don’t really want to do myself…like, folding socks, for example.  I don’t mind it when they all match, but they never do.  It’s disheartening.  That said, I undertook 3 mini research projects with DIY potential this morning, which may or may not have been fueled by weird pregnancy cravings.

I love crispy puffed rice cereal, sourdough bread, and yogurt.  Not so much together, but individually, they’re awesome.  Kind of like caramel corn and broccoli with cheese sauce.

Last night, the combination of watching my hubs make popcorn in our hot air popper and realizing that the only cereal we have in the house is Cheerios (which are great, but I’m just not feeling them right now), made me wonder if said air popper had more than one application.  Corn is a grain…rice is a grain…you see where I was going with this, right?  It won’t work, unless you happen to have rice that still has its outer husky shell thing attached in your pantry.  I do not.  I found some recipes that swore that you could fry cooked sushi rice and it would be kind of like the real thing, but it ain’t worth it.  I don’t fry things for a couple of reasons.

  1. I like my eyebrows where they are, thanks.
  2. My tummy doesn’t like fried or greasy things.  Not even doughnuts.  It’s sad, but what are you gonna do?

I have come to the sad conclusion that it ain’t worth puffing rice from scratch.  Which means that a trip to the grocery store is likely in order, unless I start craving Cream of Wheat sometime soon.

My hubs brought a loaf of sourdough bread home for our little date night on Monday.  I never remember how much I like sourdough bread until it’s been a year since I’ve had any.  Even though I can’t puff rice, bread is totally within my realm of capability.  I make it quite often.  This lead me to check out exactly how to start a, well, starter.  I have found about 30,000 conflicting recipes and techniques and I’ve only just begun to sift through them.  I called my grandma this morning to ask her how, and completely forgot when we started chatting.  It was awesome, but I remembered an hour later that I completely missed that proverbial boat and I’m going to have to call her back later.  My sister did that Amish friendship bread thing for awhile when we were kids, and that used a starter, so I can probably ask her, too.  The thing that I have come to realize is that a starter is like a pet.  For real.  You have to feed it every day, keep it in an ideal climate, and possibly talk to it to make sure it isn’t lonely.  Do I really want to undertake the responsibility of caring for a colony of wild yeast bacteria?  I’m still on the fence about this one.  I do love kitchen science, so maybe it’ll be a go.

My last “I really want” was yogurt.  Yogurt has turned out to be the only foolproof way of getting Toddler to consistently do dairy.  He doesn’t believe in drinking milk unless it has been flavored by Cheerios and is drunk by the spoonful.  It is a time-consuming and messy process, particularly now that he’s also into DIY.  With Momma.  One of the things I’ve come to discover about maintaining my blood sugar levels is that I can’t do dairy.  Well, I can do cheese, butter and small (1/4 cup) amounts of carb-smart ice cream, but that’s it.  I’ve switched to almond milk for the rest of my milky needs, but I can’t find almond milk yogurt anywhere.  I know it exists…just not where I can get it without paying an arm, a leg, and possibly a bit of my soul into the bargain.  It just isn’t worth it.  And then I got an e-mail about a DIY yogurt machine on sale.  (Dang you, Amazon, for nourishing my fevered desire to do it myself.)  I read reviews, recipes, researched (you guessed it) yogurt starters, different ways to make it with almonds, etectera ad nauseum.  I’ve gotta say…it’s tempting.  Like, a lot.  My kiddies go through a metric butt-ton of the stuff, so it’d by nice to be able to control what goes into it.  (I have issues.)  And if I could make my non-dairy non-soy (allergies…what are you gonna do?) version into the bargain, that’d be great, too.  Right?  I can take care of two bacteria colonies!  What are a few billion more mouths to feed?

Or, perhaps, I should just buy a loaf of sourdough bread when the itch is really strong and continue to live without yogurt in my life.  Need is a vacuous concept, after all.


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Identity Crisis

Apparently, I’m not Wonder Woman.

I learned that much yesterday.  Oh, sure…I got a lot done.

  1. Third-trimester workout.  I heart Lindsay Brin.  I must say that squats are not particularly easy when you have a baby bump throwing off your center of gravity.  Note to self: find the first trimester DVD, which is currently MIA from my four-DVD set.
  2. Laundry.  And I even got a set-in grease stain out of one of my husband’s favorite polo shirts.  Score!  (If you’re wondering, I sprayed the spot with a little bit of Zout and then rubbed white chalk into it before running it through with the rest of a load of clothes.  Who knew, right?  Pinterest rocks!  If only I’d known about this before throwing so many clothes afflicted with melted Chapstick away…)
  3. Cleaned out the refrigerator.  I just did this the Friday before Christmas, but with a few holiday odds and ends still lingering, it needed doing again.
  4. Washed the dishes resulting from item 2.
  5. Reorganized three and a half kitchen cabinets.  The good news is that I don’t need to buy Jello for awhile.  I also got a real-life step-aerobics workout in during this evolution.  Step up, step down.
  6. Got the lids off of three McCormick spice grinders.  This was harder than it sounds…  Once I figured out a system, it went pretty quickly.  I do have a battle wound on my left palm from tweaker slippage, but it’s worth it to be able to reuse my sea salt grinder.  (For the non-techie, a tweaker is a mini screwdriver.  Mine happened to be a flat-head.  Nice and sharp.)
  7. Made my chocolate ice cream base.  I tried freezing it last night while I was making dinner, but I stopped the churn for a minute to pour the rest of the base into the bowl.  Yeah.  Won’t be doing that again.  The base went back into the fridge and the bowl went back into the freezer overnight.  However, I successfully froze it this morning.  Holy chocolatey goodness.  That’s a keeper, lemme tell you.  I need to tweak the recipe a smidge because it seems to freeze rock-solid pretty quickly…just at the bottom and sides of the bowl, which I’ve never had an issue with before.  Granted, this is only the third recipe I’ve tried, so I don’t have much in the way of reference to go by in setting a baseline for “normal” ice cream behavior.  No biggie.  It has an amazingly smooth texture and tastes like a Wendy’s original Frosty.  Except mine has crushed (low fat) Oreos to bump it up a level of awesome.  Hopefully, it’ll be a big hit after dinner tonight.
  8. Cycled Baby’s clothes from the 12-18 month size range to the 18-24/2T size range…and reminded myself that it was only temporary.  Those cute little clothes will be out again before too much longer.
  9. Made dinner.  This is a huge accomplishment because by the time dinner rolled around, I was seriously considering a fast-food run just so I’d be able to sit on the heated seats in my truck for a few minutes.

Productive day, right?  The only things I didn’t get done were shaving my legs (which is really overrated at this point in time) and writing yesterday’s blog post.  *hangs head*  In my defense, it probably would have been only a few words long and not terribly coherent.  See example below:

“Nitwit, oddment, blubber, tweak.  Thank you.”

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

(I heart Professor Dumbledore, too.)  I did learn yesterday that although one might have the mental energy to tackle a bunch of projects all at once, one should not attempt it when one is in the third trimester because one will feel like one has been hit by a semi and then dragged five rocky miles by a tractor for good measure unless one is Wonder Woman.  Which I am not.

I’m not tall enough, for one thing.

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Being Neighborly

One memory that persists over time is baking cookies with my mom and sisters and then delivering them to neighbors and people from church.  It’s now time to confess that I have never done this as an adult.  Ever.  I started feeling pretty guilty about it this year…and at the same time, massively overwhelmed with the idea of baking for the thirty-ish houses in my neighborhood.  Finally, after much dithering, I decided to cut it back to four houses…three families whose kids play with Oldest and the elderly lady who lives behind me.

I decided that spritz cookies would definitely be on the plate.  We made them every year, and I have fond recollections of playing with my mom’s cookie press, making an unholy mess with colored sugar and burning my mouth on Red Hot candies.  Plus, I had four different cookbooks with the same recipe.  I took it as a sign.  I had never tried doing rolled gingerbread men before, but they’re cute.  I found a recipe that got pretty much unanimous outstanding reviews on Pinterest, so I decided to give those a go as well.  I kept them simple…just a little sugar glaze for face and buttons.  I toyed with the idea of doing sugar cookies, but thought they were just a little too close to the spritz.  Then, I had an epiphany in the form of…yet another Pinterest recipe…and a memory that shall haunt me to my dying day.  Long story…for another post.  When we were kids, we would also make candy cane cookies every year…half red (or green) and half white…twisted ropes of almond-flavored cookiness shaped into candy canes.  Except mine ended up being a melt-in-your-mouth minty vanilla.

I ended up delivering the cookies on Christmas Eve.  Three out of the four were kind of awkward interactions.  Time for another confession: I’m not a very social person.  In fact, I’m really introverted.  I can fake being a people person pretty well after my time in the Navy and corporate environments, but interacting with people drains me of all energy.  So, if left to my own devices…I don’t interact, which is why I don’t know any of my neighbors beyond sight and probably why this seemed so awkward.  What can I say?  I’m working on it.  However, the visit with my elderly neighbor was very nice.  I found our that her husband died earlier this year, and she lost a son last year…and she wasn’t feeling very festive.  I came home feeling massively grateful for my husband and boys.  I’m glad that I went through with being neighborly this year, and will definitely do it again this year…hopefully a couple of times.

A plate of Christmas cookies.

The plate of cookies I delivered to a few of my neighbors this year…spritz, gingerbread men and candy cane cookies.

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