Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vegan macaroni and cheese??

Sounds crazy, huh?  It's an oxymoron even.  I love that word, oxymoron.  Anyway, one might think that you can't make macaroni and cheese vegan.  One also might wonder, why would a vegan want to eat macaroni and cheese?  Well yes, it can be made vegan and yes again, we vegans love us some mac and cheese!  Only, the vegan recipes I've seen don't call it macaroni and cheese.  Usually they make it a play on words.  For example the recipe I made tonight by my favorite vegan chef, Dreena Burton, is called Mac-Oh, geez!  Cute, eh?  And, it was just as delicious as the name is cute.

So, why would a vegan want something creamy?  Doesn't cream remind us of...milk...cows?  Mmmm, not really.  Maybe I might think of cows and think of how happy I am that none of them were uncomfortable, at the least, for me to enjoy some creamy pasta.  But, I digress, I'm getting a little off track here.

As a vegan, I still enjoy creamy, warm, hearty dishes that may remind me a bit of the original version.  But, after eating the vegan version, instead of feeling heavy, bogged down, and down right gross, I feel full, satisfied, light, and happy.  All is good.

Where does the creaminess come from?  In this recipe, and some others that I've seen, it comes from nuts.  Dreena used cashews and brazil nuts, along with some spices and almond milk.  I used whole wheat chiocciole which held onto the sauce beautifully.  It was divine.

I failed to take pictures, although Dreena has a gorgeous photo of it on her recipe page.  Isn't she generous?  She has published 3 cookbooks, she's finalizing her fourth, and she puts recipes online for us to try?

So, if you're curious you should give it a try. It's creamy, it's delicious, and no cows were harmed in the making of your mac and cheese. 

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cinnamon rolls!

I used to make cinnamon rolls for the boys a lot when we lived in Wisconsin.  Not the homemade kind, the dairy case, pop out of the can kind.  The boys liked them, and I always insisted they have yogurt or a yogurt based with fruit smoothie to counteract the sugar and preservatives in those cinnamon rolls. 

A couple of weeks ago I bought another package of cinnamon rolls, and again the boys loved them.  But, I was thinking that I wasn't so happy giving them those with all that junk in there.  So, I wanted to look at making some homemade cinnamon rolls...and make them vegan too.  Why not?

How did they turn out?  FABULOUS!!!  I used the recipe out of my Tassajara Bread Book.  The dough was very similar to my basic bread dough I make, just smaller proportions, the addition of an egg and more sugar.  I made them vegan by using Earth Balance instead of butter and a flax egg in place of the regular egg.  The icing was just powdered sugar and water.  The brown sugar and cinnamon mix in the center browned up nicely, forming a delicious caramel that got a little crispy as they cooled.  Heaven!

I probably won't be making them again this weekend, since we ate them for 3 days.  The batch made a lot!  But, this will definitely will be a repeat recipe.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday walk in the woods

My husband thought he was going to take the boys for a walk in the woods by himself.  I entertained the idea of getting a head start on my Sunday baking, but when given the option of walking in the woods, I'll take the woods every time.

The boys love to pick dandelions.

Daniel and the boy across the street are building a teepee.

Even the littlest boy needs a stick for a walk in the woods.

There's lots to see...

The "stick fort".

The "step fort".

The baby likes to climb trees.

It was worth putting off my baking until the afternoon.  The older boys enjoy playing with the kids in the neighborhood and sometimes I don't see much of them on the weekends.  This weekend was different, we had lots of family time.  And I loved our family walk in the woods.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring colors

I think I can safely stow away the winter coats and snow pants now.  It looks like spring is here to stay!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interesting Conversation

Here is an interesting conversation I had with my health insurance company the other day.  Kari, you'll be happy that I'm trying to get an appointment scheduled for a dermatologist.  But, it's proving to be more difficult that I'd like it to be.  My dear husband checked online to see which Dr. is included in our plan, the closest Dr. he could find was in Grand Rapids, about a 3 1/2 hour drive away from our home.  So, I decided to call our insurance company to see if I could get in anywhere closer.  Here is an idea of our how our conversation went the other day:

Me:  Hi, I'm trying to find a dermatologist closer to my home.  My husband looked for a doctor online and the closest one he could find, in our plan, was 3 1/2 hours away.  

UHC:  Sure, I'd be glad to help.   

She then verified my address and asked again for my zipcode to do a search.

UHC:  It'll take just a minute for the computer to look up the information.

Me:  No problem.

It was naptime, so I actually had time to wait on hold for a couple of minutes.

UHC:  Okay, it looks like the location closest to you is only 24-30 minutes away, in Cody.  

Me:  Really?  Okay, I've never heard of a town close by here called Cody, though.

UHC:  Wyoming.

Now, there's a town just outside of Grand Rapids called Wyoming, and this is what I thought she meant.

Me:  Well, that's actually the location that's 3 1/2 hours away.  Is there anything closer? 

UHC:  The computer is showing me that it's less than 30 miles away from you, so that shouldn't be  a problem. 

Me:  Actually, it's over 3 hours away.

UHC:  It says here that Cody, Wyoming is 24-30 miles away from your location.  If you're choosing not to go there, then you'll have to call and request a Gap Extension to change doctors.

Me:  Wyoming?  The state of Wyoming?  You know I live in the state of Michigan, right?

UHC:  Yes, the computer says it's only 24-30 miles away from your location.

At this point, I though there was something wrong with me.  Was I missing something?  Did she really think Wyoming was just a half hour drive from my town in Northwestern Michigan???

I took the phone number to the office in Wyoming and called myself, asking if they were indeed in the state of Wyoming, which they were.

I promptly called back my insurance company and had an identical conversation with a different woman.  Only, after I told her that I was definitely in the state of Michigan and the state of Wyoming was not 24-30 miles away from my home, she figured out something was wrong with the computer.

I was instructed to call my primary care physician, have them call my healthcare company to request a Gap Extension to I don't have to drive to Wyoming (the state) to go to my dermatologist appointment.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Someone got a haircut!

My littlest boy as been getting his hair cut by Mommy for the past few months.  I have several family memebers who cut hair of them is not me.  They do a great job cutting hair, and I don't.  However, I cut my kids hair when they're babies and it's so fine and thin and still coming in that I just cut a little here, a little there.  But, with our youngest, it was time for him to see a professional.  His mullet was getting too long, and random wispy hairs were getting into his eyes...poor guy.

So, we took the leap yesterday and I took all 3 boys to get their haircut at the same time.  The bonus was there were all getting their hair cut at the same time and we were outta there in 30 minutes!

He did great...still a little drowsy after naptime.  But, he sat still and only winced a little at the water being sprayed on his hair, and the clippers.

I think it's too short, he doesn't look like my baby anymore.  In that 30 minutes he went from being my baby to a big boy toddler.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Making a House a Home

We've started putting some personal touches on our home.  It takes us a while, to know exactly where we want to hang our pictures, and we felt ready to start hanging.  I also bought some wall lettering that Chris applied.  He did a really nice job.  This one is above the entrance from the dining room, to the foyer.

We also hung a couple of pictures and some sconces in the dining room.

This one hangs in the foyer, just before entering the living room.

And, my wedding photo hangs in our bedroom.

It's nice to see all of our wall hangings up again.  I didn't realize that I'd missed them!

And, who can resist a cute, snoozing puppy? 

We worked on the kids rooms as well.  This is our oldest son's room.

And, our middle son...

Hmmm, not the best photo...

This is the end of the hallway, just before heading down the stairs.  We had the table here already, but I added the picture and lamp.

Finally, the "baby's" room. 

I need to put my own pictures in the frames yet.

So, that's about it for now.  We didn't hang anything up in the kitchen or living room.  We'll probably have to purchase some things for those rooms.  We're wanting an area run to break up the monotony of brown that's in the living room, and we still don't have bar stools.  We're keeping our eyes open for some good deals.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Building a Garden and Happy Mother's Day!

I think the threat of snow is finally gone...whew!  And at the boy's school, they're selling some of their seedlings that the kids have helped to plant.  I preordered some tomatoes ('Pink Ponderosa', ‘Green Zebra’, ‘Gold Medal’, ‘Pantano Romanesco’, ‘Carbon’, and ‘Great White’ OR ‘Ananas Noire’ depending on what's left) and cruciferous plants that I've never grown before (2 kinds of kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage).  I'll be picking them up next week so I knew it was time to "build" our garden.

Chris took the two older boys to the hardware stores to pick up some cedar to use as our frame on our raised beds.  We decided to do two frames, 10 feet long by 5 feet wide.  That will give us plenty of room to grow our veggies, berries, and herbs.

Daddy had lots of helpers.

We had to break for bubbles.

And, here they are!  The farmer down the street is coming by in the next day or two to till up the ground and bring in some soil and compost.  I'm heading to the co-op tomorrow because I heard they have some seedlings available and I'm specifically looking for beets.

The gardening season has begun and I'm very excited to learn as I go.  I don't have a very green thumb, but it's getting greener and greener each year.  This year, I learned to plant my rows North to South to prevent shadowing and making sure everyone gets plenty of sunshine.  One of the teachers at school is a Master Gardener and I'm hoping to have some gardening-related conversations with her in the very near future.  Daniel has a gardening class at school, so I may have a question or two for him too.  I'm not too proud to ask!


It was Mother's Day this past weekend.  Now that we're closer to my Mom, I'm so happy to actually have spent this past Sunday with her, and my niece.  There have only been a couple of times, since leaving home, that I've been able to spend Mother's Day with my Mom, so this year was very special.  The weather was beautiful, so we spent a lot of time outside.

The kids helped Grandma make dessert.

The girlie was helping Nicholas drink his milk...too cute.

I hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day too.