Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chocolate Digestives

There is one British food that I just love - McVitie's Chocolate Digestive. These wheat biscuits covered in milk chocolate or dark chocolate are amazing, plain and simple. I really like the whole grain texture to them and the chocolate on top just completes it. The crazy thing is that I made the above dessert and hadn't even thought about these digestives until I started eating. But, now I think I have scored the better digestive.

The oatcakes were quick and easy to make. My only change was to use 50% whole wheat flour. I think I might reduce the sugar a bit next time. I made the chocolate hazelnut spread (aka nutella) a few weeks ago and it is amazing. It came out a bit grainer than nutella, but is still so yummy. And this little dessert got even better with some strawberry jam.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Anything will do

Papa loves to grab all manner of things and put them on the kids heads. Then the walk of giggling ensues. But this little event was entirely voluntarily while Ben was at work. Juliana just loves to put things on her head, plain and simple. And if it is her big brother's underwear? No problem!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chocolate Custard

I've been looking at Jenny's recipe for chocolate custard for a couple of weeks now and I finally caved and decided to make it. We didn't celebrate Valentine's Day as everyone was sick in our house, so I decided we ought to enjoy some chocolate with a latte tonight. I changed up the recipe quite a bit to reduce the amount of cream. It came out just right - thick, creamy and the perfectly deep in chocolate.

Chocolate Custard
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup rapadura (unrefined cane sugar)
1 vanilla bean, split to use seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt 
4 egg yolks, whisked
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Warm cream and milk for 3-4 minutes in a double boiler.
  • Whisk in the vanilla bean seeds and extract, sugar and salt. Continue whisking until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Spoon some of the cream mixture into the egg yolks, stir and then pour them into into the double boiler, whisking continuously for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Stir in the chopped chocolate and continue stirring until it melts, combines and thickens.
  • Spoon into individual ramekins and serve after it cools slightly.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Exploring the foothills in winter

{herd of deer}

Our little household has been pretty sick for about a month and we all are starting to get a bit stir crazy. On Friday the kids and I decided if we couldn't get out for a hike, a drive in the country was the next best thing. We decided to head to the foothills to search for animals, which is always a sure bet here. We saw a huge herd of deer along a creek. Last time we drove through this area, we saw lots of cattle being driven out of the National Forest to their winter fields. This time we saw lots of pregnant cows and some with little babies already. Another beautiful day in the Black Hills.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A visitor

After being gone for a month over Christmas and the bird feeders being empty during that time, our feathered friends have virtually abandoned us. I even went out and bought 100% sunflower seeds, thinking that would lure them back, but it didn't help. I think they will be back as spring approaches. So that made yesterday's visitor very exciting. A squirrel at the feeder! That was more exciting than the deer in the backyard that bed down under the trees.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hats, Again

{Juliana with the Toaster Topper}

For the last month Juliana has been obsessed with putting on hats. She loves to go to the closet and get them out, along with the mittens and try them all on. It reminds me of Pieter doing it around this age. I've enjoyed seeing the similarities and differences in their growing and learning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reading just like big brother

In the mornings after Papa heads off to work, things get a little bit quiet and I often find Pieter in his room paging through books. Juliana has started accompanying him in this peaceful activity. She really loves turning the pages and doing anything that her big brother does.

Friday, February 15, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

The church that we are a part of now uses the Common Book of Prayer. I have found peace in the repetitive, meaningful words. This is our third lenten season here and we finally made it to a service on Ash Wednesday last night. In the beginnings of the celtic church, every day people often didn't have a priest around until Easter, so the lenten period was a season of thoughtful penitence and fasting to prepare for the Lord's resurrection and new converts for the Holy Baptism.

The service was a special introduction to why we call this day Ash Wednesday. The palms from Palm Sunday are saved from the prior year and burned now to mark us with ashes, praying from the Common Book of Prayer: 

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Pieter is so used to being blessed when we take communion that he didn't realize what was happening and gave me the strangest look when he noticed the cross on my forehead. 

During this lent, I am going to unplug myself from the computer and internet for much of the day, to focus more on little ones and every day life. And to read more celtic prayers and institute them into my life as these simple people did so long ago.

Time spent with family in a meaningful way.

Thoughtful, purposeful days. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Seeded Sourdough Bread

We love sourdough bread around here and every once in a while I put together a seeded bread that is dense and hearty. I made some last night that we are enjoying for breakfast this morning. Juliana has proven in a taste test that she prefers this very much over cereal Os. She loves her Mama's bread!

Seeded Sourdough Bread

1 cup (8.5 oz) sourdough starter
1 3/4 cups luke-warm water
1 cup rolled cereal blend (I use a 9 grain blend, but just rolled oats would do)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast*
3 cups (12 oz) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 oz) unbleached bread flour
  • Mix the starter, water, cereal and chia seeds. Let sit 10 minutes to allow the cereal and chia seeds to absorb some water.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and mix. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to allow the whole grains to absorb the water. 
  • Knead them - by hand, mixer or bread machine - until you have a smooth dough. It will be rather dense and lumpy from the seeds, though. Cover and allow the dough to rise to doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours. 
  • Divid the dough in half and shape into two round loaves. Cover with a damp towel and let rise till puffy, about one hour. 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.
*I use instant yeast because it can be mixed directly into the ingredients without having to dissolve it in water before hand. You could substitute other yeast without any trouble.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Reading with Oma

Isn't skype wonderful? Pieter just loves it when Oma reads to him on the computer. While we were in Mexico, we fell in love with a wonderful book, Tibor Gergely's Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories. Oma read this book to Ben when he was a child. When we got home we found a copy via AbeBooks and now they can read it together. Pieter will sit here and not move a whisker until finally Oma says goodbye.

Friday, February 8, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - AS

She's ready!

Juliana got a special package in the mail today from REI. Just the right size helmet to get biking this spring! But the weather here has been so temperate that she got to try it out today, already. She enjoyed it so much, she kept the helmet on for quite a while.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One Year Later

This winter, like last year, has been relatively warm and snowless. That makes for a dull, brown feeling in the landscape, but it does allow for lots of walks along the creek. Just yesterday we were out for a walk to the park and it made me remember Juliana's first two months. After ten days of peaceful bliss, this little girl decided she couldn't quite handle life and did a lot of crying. For a long time. So we went on a lot of walks, for that was her favorite way to calm down and get some sleep. I don't think I've ever been so grateful for an easy winter that let us out to play most days. Almost to the day last year, we were playing at this park while Juliana slept in the stroller. And here she is again, taking her morning nap while Pieter played.

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