Friday, July 30, 2010

Swedish Pancake Saturday!

Call them what you wish - Crepe's or Swedish Pancakes, either way they have been a Saturday morning tradition in our family for many years.  I tried to carry on the tradition with my girls, but it took years for them to acquire a taste for Swedish Pancakes.  Finally, when they were about 8 & 10, I tried again one Saturday morning, and much to my surprise I heard "Mom!  These are sooooo good!!  Why haven't you ever made these for us before??"  They were hooked.

It's one of those recipes I know by heart - right up there with chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.

Some people like to put lingonberries in them, others sprinkle powdered sugar over them, we like them with plain ol' butter and syrup.

They take a little time to prepare.  I usually warm the oven to 200* and keep them warm until the entire batch has been made and we can all eat together. 

The trick I have found, is to give a quick swipe of butter to the pan, pour in the batter, and be sure to let them cook long enough on one side to get slightly brown before turning them.  Otherwise they will rip and not roll up like you want them to.

Nothing beats a nice Saturday morning Swedish Pancake breakfast!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aww, Sweet Pea...

These sweet little delicate flowers can bring me such joy.  Every spring, I buy my packets of sweet peas, soak them in water overnight, plant them, and anxiously await the sweet fragrant little flowers to say hello to me from my kitchen window.

My trellis is just below my kitchen window, so in the summertime I get to see these beautiful little flowers every day as I stand at the kitchen sink.  It makes doing dishes just a little bit more pleasant.

When I was young, my mom always planted sweet peas and I remember her putting a tiny bouquet by my bed so I would wake up to the smell of sweet peas in the morning.  She did the same with lilacs - nothing smells better than a fresh bouquet of lilacs.

My yard is by no means a professional masterpiece.  When we finished building our home, we put in the grass, cut in the flowerbeds, and then came to a screeching halt.  Over the past 3 years, I have slowly filled the flowerbeds with my favorite flowers - sweet peas, lilacs, iris', hydrangeas, roses, daisies and impatiens.  We could use a few shrubs and trees to look nice year round, but come summertime, one by one all my favorite flowers come into bloom.

This makes me happy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Clean Workspace, Clean Mind

I have been absolutely bogged down with a sense of overwhelm when I look at the hub of my kitchen.  This is the space where I keep my computer, check my Facebook page, print a recipe, post my listings, and in general, manage our home.  I wear many hats and most of them require some computer time.  I hate the thought of moving this space into my craft room upstairs, as I think I would be confined to that room most of the day. 

My husband hates the fact that this has turned into my "office", but I spend so much time in the kitchen and with the family - this is really where my things NEED to be.  The problem was that it was all just too much.  One big pile with a mix of paperwork stacked in my "to do" pile.  This is my before picture~

Today I decided to break it all down, file it away, and get it organized.  I laid sticky notes out on my kitchen table labeled "Real Estate", "Rental", "Guild", "Scentsy", "Heather" & "The Girls".  Soon I had several neat piles that seemed so much more manageable to go through!

I made a trip to Staples today and bought some pretty files and a file sorter.  I used my label maker and made neat labels of all my little stacks.  This is my "Inbox". 

I can take one file at a time and take care of it.  It is no longer overwhelming!  I made a few sales calls today, organized my Scentsy business, arranged a fundraiser for my Guild, and sorted some business receipts.  What a productive day!

Here is the "After" picture!

This may not look like the computer area of the homes I show, which are completely bare and have one laptop neatly on the counter, but it's organized, manageable, and I feel so much better now that it's done!

One final tip!  I used my label maker and labeled all the plugs in my power strip.  This makes it so much easier to see what is plugged in where!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hannah's Fruit Pie

Nana's birthday was approaching, and Hannah (my youngest) decided she wanted to make Nana a special birthday dessert.  She knew exactly what she wanted to make - one of those fruit tarts you see in the grocery store with the fresh strawberries, kiwi & blueberries.  Not knowing a recipe off hand and planning to be out of town for the weekend, when she asked if we could get the ingredients before we left I said "no - let's wait till we get home and can find a recipe".  We returned home from our mini vacation, and the night before the party I ran to the store at 10 o'clock at night and picked up the ingredients.  Not really knowing a recipe, I picked up a box of instant banana pudding and pie filling, a refrigerated crust and some fresh fruit.

Hannah go busy right away the next morning.  We pressed the pie crust into a quiche/tart pan and baked it till it was just perfect.  She whipped up the pudding, learning that runny pudding splatters quite a bit unless you cover the bowl with a paper towel.  Then she began topping the strawberries and peeling the kiwi.  She cut the kiwi into the perfect size sections and laid them carefully on the pudding.
Ta da!  The dessert was just as beautiful as the ones in the store, and was twice as delicious!  Great job Hannah!!  You are our little chef!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Berry Pickin'

Homemade jam.  We treasure it like gold in this family, only bringing it out when company is over.  My mom keeps me stocked with jam - I just need to save the jars and get them back to her for future jars filled with heaven.  I remember as a kid we had rows of raspberries, and all summer it was our job to go pick the berries.  Through the spiders and bees, we would make it up and down each aisle looking for the perfect berries.  Not too light, not too dark - they had to pluck off the vine just right.  Eat one, save one, eat one, save one.  There is nothing better than fresh raspberries right off the vine.

My sister is the ultimate Martha Stewart.  She picked up all the "nesting traits" my mom had when we were kids.  She cans, grows her own herbs and veggies, bakes, and creates memories with her own kids with annual trips to the berry farm, Christmas Tree farm and pumpkin patch.  I, on the other hand, have discovered the better pumpkins can often be found right in front of the grocery store, artificial trees look just as pretty once decorated, and Smuckers makes a perfectly good PBJ for a 10 year old.

This year my sister invited me to go with she, her kids and my mom up to the berry farm to pick strawberries and raspberries.  Thinking this was a fun idea that I would not have done otherwise with my kids, I agreed to go with her.  She knew exactly what to do - grab a bin here, wait for the tractor ride there - she was a pro.  The tractor came and took us all to a patch far away from other pickers.  We started picking strawberries which were perfectly ripe and absolutely melted in our mouths.  Both of my girls started filling their bins, and soon we all had 3 full bins of berries.

We moved to the raspberry field and continued picking.  Suddenly it was 1975 and I was in my yard filling my bin with these wonderful perfect berries.  Eat one, save one, eat one, save one.  A little bee started following me to the best berries.  For some reason he wasn't as scary as the ones when I was a kid.  It was almost like he was helping me out~ "Where are we going?  Did you find some good ones over here?  Hey, wait for me, I'm a good helper!"

We filled 3 more bins with raspberries and headed to the checkstand.  They probably should have weighed each of us before and after picking to account for all the berries eaten along the way.  My sister and mom went through the checkout - their average amount spent was around $10.00 each.  I suddenly realized that I had 3 times that amount, since I had 3 very efficient berry pickers.  $37.00 later, I left the checkstand.  I thought to myself, "I could buy a lot of Smuckers for that $30.00".

I shrugged it off as a good day and fun experience and went home with my treasures.  I probably should have thought this through a bit further.  I was leaving the next day for a long weekend away, and the berries would go bad if I didn't do something with them ASAP.  Canning, freezing and jam making really wasn't in my game plan as I was scrambling to get everything done before I left.  It had to get done though.  I went to the store and bought Pectin and came home to begin the process.  I decided to just freeze the raspberries, as I could always decide to do something later with them.  I laid them carefully in Ziplock Freezer bags and set them in the freezer.  One down, one to go.

Now it was strawberry time.  I had also picked up some plastic freezer jam jars so I began preparing the strawberries.  I made 2 batches of jam and froze the rest of the berries.  Finally at 11:00 pm all the berries were done and the kitchen was clean.  In hindsight, I may have skipped the trip to the berry farm.  I should have timed it better and gone another day.  Would I trade the experience?  No.  Did I enjoy the trip back to 1975? Yes.  Now I have several jars of heaven in my freezer and I'm glad I took the time to make them.

I will still buy my Smuckers for those every day PBJ's, but look forward to the good stuff, picked and prepared with love by us.