Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bonfire Party

In the spring of 2012, I decided we needed to host a bonfire. It was such a good success that I decided to attempt to replicate this year.

GooGoo sings while she and Lou Who watch Daddy put in a path for Mommy.

GooGoo sings while she and Lou Who watch Daddy put in a path for Mommy prior to guests arriving.

As per usual, I’d been planning for months in advance. I finally settled on a Mexican-ish theme: chili beans, Brasilian rice, green salad, corn muffins, and Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles (with some gingersnaps for the Mex. choc. snick.-phobes). I was anticipating possibly around 50 people to show up, so I quintupled the cornbread recipe. My gigantinormous Mennonite popcorn bowl was used both for that and the huge batch of beans I cooked up.

Flowers from our property (except the forsythia)

Flowers all came from our property (except the forsythia)

I always cook too much food. I think this stems from the fact that Mr Pine Nut and I eat a lot. Like, a very much lot. I make a 13×9 of baked oatmeal and we decimate the entire pan, just the two of us. I had to start making a batch and a half just so there’d be enough for GooGoo. I make a batch (sometimes double) of scones or muffins and we eat them all or mostly all. So, I assume that everyone else is as much a whirling vortex of food consumption as we, and therefore I end up perplexed when we end up with two huge pots of chili beans and enough Brasilian rice to last us the rest of our lives, not to mention the cookies and cornbread and salad. I think we had 29 people show up, which was more than last year, but not quite enough to eliminate all the food I made.

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At any rate, everyone liked the food and we had an absolutely gorgeous day for everyone to not just be outside, but to ENJOY being outside, and then we lit the fire and all stood around it as one does.

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The sun went down and people went home, but the fire burned on and then smouldered throughout the night and in the morning everything was just a memory. But there’ll be another one next spring, I hope!

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Categories: entertaining | 1 Comment

5 Years

5 years have gone by already since I became Mrs Pine Nut.

On our first anniversary I was newly pregnant with GooGoo and so we had our one and only Actual Anniversary Day where we went out to eat and do something that actually cost money, like visit the Newport Aquarium. Then we walked on the beach in strong winds and pranced about on heaps of kelp.

Ever since then, we’ve had kidlets and I can only think of one time we were able to sneak out for a dinner together (not on our anniversary) and even then it was only because my mom happened to be visiting and someone had given us a gift card for Olive Garden.

One view of Dancing Oaks nursery

One view of Dancing Oaks nursery

We thought about going to the beach this past Sunday but it was raining at the coast and cold and I think the kids would have been miserable. So Mr Pine Nut and I went to Dancing Oaks Nursery instead. (Side note: it’s a gorgeous place. Last time we were there GooGoo almost drowned in one of the ponds, however.) To avoid further nearly drowning incidents, we left the girls with his mom, and we splurged on a burgundy native iris plant and some flowering thyme for my rock garden that is not really there yet, and some other ground covers he wanted. We are such big spenders.

Anyway, in honour of the past five years, here are some lists of 5.

5 Things We Did the Day We Met

  1. Walked (fully-clothed) on a (deserted) clothing-optional beach.
  2. Went from about 2pm to 3am without eating anything because we were too busy talking.
  3. Watched nerdy podcasts.
  4. Explored a wetlands reserve while an accompanying friend described her experience with Lasik to me.
  5. I stepped in a hole.
The wedding party. My bouquet was fake flowers from Walmart. Perpetually classy, that's me.

The wedding party. My bouquet was fake flowers from Walmart. Perpetually classy, that’s me.

5 Things About Our Wedding Day

  1. I wore a blue 1870s style dress and he wore a Civil War-ish uniform type suit.
  2. He had a best man and a groomswoman.
  3. We played “Storybook Love” to open our wedding service.
  4. The pastor who married us began the service by saying “Mawwaige is what bwings us here togevvah today.”
  5. My maid of honour and bridesmaid spent probably 5 times as long getting ready for the event as I did. I even had time to iron their clothes before I got dressed. 🙂
Peeking around at Fort Clatsop

Peeking around at Fort Clatsop

5 Things About Our Honeymoon(s)

  1. We spent our wedding night at the Hallmark Resort in Cannon Beach because the beach house we had planned to use failed to leave the key where it was supposed to be and it was 11pm when we arrived.
  2. Our first honeymoon was along the northern coast of Oregon; our second was a couple months later in northeastern Pennsylvania.
  3. After failing (in PA) a second time to secure a hotel before midnight, we made a reservation for one close to the airport in Newark where we flew from to go back home, only to walk in and see a circular bed bedecked with twinkle lights, upholstered headboard, and ceiling mirrors. We do not have luck with hotels.
  4. I stood in Lake Erie in June. It was not scary at all.
  5. I also stood in the Pacific. Barefoot, in April, in Oregon.
Baxter Hotel, Bozeman, Montana.

Baxter Hotel, Bozeman, Montana.

5 Places We Have Been Together Since Then

  1. Bozeman, Montana
  2. Sequim, Washington
  3. Carson City, Nevada
  4. Cataldo, Idaho
  5. Bend, Oregon
Watching gardening videos together

Watching gardening videos together

5 Things I Am Thankful For in Our Marriage

  1. Our two precious little girls
  2. He watches gardening videos instead of (foot/base/basket) ball
  3. We work well together
  4. We have yet to get tired of always being together every day
  5. He doesn’t buy me stuffed animals for Valentine’s Day (or ever)

Here’s to the next 5 years.

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Categories: Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tiny Paper Bits

When I was five or thereabouts, I remember having scissors in one hand and a piece of (probably pink) construction paper in the other hand, and I skipped and pranced about the house snipping little bits of the paper off as I went, leaving a beautiful pink trail of Tiny Paper Bits in my wake.

Unfortunately, my mom was less impressed with my beautiful pink trail of Tiny Paper Bits, and with much weeping and wailing, I was compelled to clean up all the Tiny Paper Bits.

Today GooGoo decided that her new scissors from Grandma were really fun for cutting up the food ads. Instead of prancing, she sat in one spot, but the effect in a living space this small was about the same: Tiny Paper Bits.

Here's a nice action shot of her initial flinging about Tiny Paper Bits in a fit of rebellious rage

Here’s a nice action shot of her initial flinging about Tiny Paper Bits in a fit of rebellious rage

Interestingly, cleaning them up was a lot less fun than creating them. First I tried to bribe her with some chocolate. When she continued to flop on the floor and whine and wail about them, I told her she wouldn’t have the chocolate and we were going ahead with lunch and she could have lunch when she finished cleaning up the bits. She howled and hollered on the floor about WANNA TAKE A NAP and I NEED HELP and WANNA TAKE A NAP and WAAAAAAAAAAH. I started to count to three. On two she began to pick up more pieces.

Finally they were all cleaned up and she had lunch. She had rice and taco shells and even ate some tomatoes. A few hours have passed and as I look on the floor beside the bed where I’m sitting, I notice that a new batch of Tiny Paper Bits has materialised on the floor.

Hmm. The scissors may need to disappear for a while. In the meantime I’m going to pretend I don’t see the new batch of Tiny Paper Bits until later, because I don’t have much energy right now.

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Categories: GooGoo | 2 Comments

Literary Post: The Boxcar Children. Jessie’s Stew.

By the end of last week, I was mostly back to normal, but here are two things that perplex me:

  • I have a massive sugar addiction.
  • I think Lou Who has a peanut allergy.

Regarding the first thing, I have such bad withdrawal symptoms if I try to just completely stop eating sugar that I’ve yet to make concentrated efforts to completely stop. I can go all morning if I need to. But then I get kind of grouchy and cranky and stuff. So I have a cookie (or two, or ten).

The solution that has worked in the past is to just stop making sweets that go into the freezer, because it’s too easy for me to run out there and grab cookies. I need to make them, take them somewhere, and make sure they don’t come back home with me. And then I’m fine. If it’s not here, I stop feeling like I have to eat it, and the withdrawal symptoms are almost nil. Interesting.

So, that being said, this week’s church potluck is getting a lot of cookies from yours truly, because there are a lot of cookies in the freezer at the moment.

As for the second thing, I have to let the rash around her mouth clear up first and then eat some peanuts again just to make sure it is indeed the peanuts and not something else. I’m bummed because peanut butter-jam sandwiches are about the best thing in the world, and I really just don’t like almond butter. It’s like tasteless paste in my mouth. Bleh. I like the crunchy, chunky, salty flavour/texture of peanut butter. So, I have to keep reminding myself: it could be worse. It could be gluten. I’ll either have to start salting my almond butter or try some other alternatives.

At any rate, it’s time for another LITERARY POST. It should have gone up last week, but I was just too stressed and didn’t have time to prepare it, so here it is today instead.

I was a huge Boxcar Children fan as a child. I read all of the 19 books in the original series, but many of the later ones I only read once. The first 6 or so were my favourites; they seemed to start repeating themselves more and more as the series went on (burning question: did Henry ever make it through college?) My all-time favourites were easily the first book, Mike’s Mystery, The Woodshed Mystery, Mountain Top Mystery, and Snowbound Mystery. I had a stuffed dog I named Jessie and always thought, “What FUN it would be to live in a BOXCAR and have to be INGENIOUSLY CREATIVE.”

No, the irony has not been lost on me.

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 10.24.12 PMTo me the illustrations in the first book are iconic. I’ve never seen this kind of art in any other book and always was a little sad that this (as I recall) anonymous illustrator did not continue doing the rest of the series. Does anyone know otherwise? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

At any rate, I decided to replicate the stew described in The Boxcar Children.

I didn’t use baby vegetables, although for authenticity you’re welcome to do so if you are lucky enough to have them available. For my “meat” I used some basic gluten steaks chopped up. It had been in the freezer and I just put it into the crockpot frozen, but you could thaw it first if you want to or use it fresh – or substitute whatever your preferred beef sub might be.

Note on crockpots: I used my smallish Rival crockpot that is about 10 cup capacity. If you use a larger one or smaller one, cooking times may vary, but this is what worked for that size.

Stewy stew.

Stewy stew.

Jessie’s Stew

1 lb faux meat, cut in pieces
2 large turnips, cut in chunks
4 medium carrots, cut in chunks
2-4 green onions – I used 2 because mine are huge
1 tsp salt
1 tsp beef-like seasoning of choice
1 T tapioca flour (or cornstarch)
2 1/2 c  water

Layer the faux meat and veggies in your crockpot in the order given. Sprinkle salt, beaf seasoning, and tapioca flour on top. Pour water over all.

Turn the crockpot on high and cook 5 hours. (I stirred mine just once after 3 1/2 hours).

***

Some extra notes from a literary nerd:

mental_floss has a great article mentioning Gertrude Chandler Warner.

Said article caused me to go a-Googling and this university library site has the full text and all but one illustration from the original 1924 version of “The Box-car Children”.

I’ve read it. The differences I noticed were interesting to me. The change of the surname Cordyce to Alden is understandable (Cordyce sounds SO snobbish). There are definitely details I do not remember reading before, (the drunken dad in the opening, anyone? the children’s side business selling ginseng?) A side-by-side comparison read would be good, if I had my modern copy available, which I don’t. Sometime in the future though. Anyway, it was a fun little jaunt into the past. I recommend it!

Of particular note to this blog post, the original text said Jess used parsnips, not turnips. So…. have at them parsnips if you want!

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Categories: book-inspired food, crockpot, entrees, lunch, recipes, soup, vegan, vegetables | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

And now I’ve had a birthday.

And I’m 30, and I really don’t care. In fact, I’d like to flaunt it. 30, and flirty, and thriving, right?

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Definitely.

So, my life this past week has been utterly insane and I’m reeling from all the insanity and struggling to keep my head above the water, so to speak. We had a bonfire on Sunday afternoon/evening (I’ll post about that later) and it was loads of fun but also loads of work and I made probably enough food to feed three times the people that showed up. I’m not complaining; we had very good attendance, but I think we’ll be eating Brasilian rice the rest of our lives.

Anyway, due to that, I haven’t slept well in about a week. I think too much while preparing for things and then I think too much afterwards. So. Much. Stimulation. And when I don’t get enough sleep, I begin to get incredibly irrational about everything, and life is miserable and there are lots of tears and everything is disaster and nuclear bombs and despair.

So I almost didn’t make myself a cake because I was feeling so low, but then I decided I would, because why not, even though I’ve been cooking a lot and I’m sick to death of the kitchen and I already have at least 3 kinds of cookies in large bags in the freezer and I’m kind of sick of sugar. Yes, me, sick of sugar.

So I made myself a cake. I call it the Minstrel Boy in Prison Cake. If you don’t get the reference, keep reading and you’ll get some hints later on.

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I’m very picky when it comes to carrot cakes. I’ve tried a lot of recipes for them and while they’re all pretty good, the one I grew up with is still my favourite. It has all the elements I consider essential for a carrot cake, not the least of which is CRUSHED PINEAPPLE omnomnom.

So, let’s interject my mom’s carrot cake recipe here, veganised.

In large mixing bowl, sift together:
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
In separate bowl, whisk together:
2/3 c veggie oil
4 T water + 1 T Ener-G egg replacer (this is equivalent to 2 eggs)
1 c finely grated carrots
1/2 c crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 tsp vanilla
Add liquid ingredients to dry and stir until moistened; beat 2 minutes at medium speed on electric mixer. [I did it by hand and just stirred it around a few times, definitely not for 2 minutes.] Bake at 350 in greased/floured 9×9″ pan for 35-45 minutes, whenever toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan if you plan to remove it.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. vegan cream cheese (I had Follow Your Heart brand in my fridge, but you could also use Tofutti)
1 T vegan margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla
 2 c powdered sugar
In small bowl, beat cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla. Mix till light. Gradually add sugar, beating till fluffy. If necessary, add a bit of non-dairy milk or water to make it the correct spreading consistency.
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This cake does need to remain refrigerated when not in use. (Or “pie”, as GooGoo insisted on calling it. She wanted to eat the “HAPPY BIRDAY” PIE all morning.)
***
Now, what about the minstrel boy?

The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him;
His father’s sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
“Land of Song!” cried the warrior bard,
“Tho’ all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy right shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman’s chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov’d ne’er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said “No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav’ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!

Now, if you still don’t get it, read the poem carefully and go back and look at the cake again.

And finally, here is a picture of a seriously awesome birthday present for you to enjoy looking at.

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Oh yes I will. Expect recipes with pinenuts (that you can sub sunflower seeds for) in the future. *rolls around in the culinary gold that is pine nuts*

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Categories: birthdays, dessert, Mrs Pine Nut, recipes, vegan | 1 Comment

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