Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Flan ... Really?

I have become increasingly convinced of this : every great dessert starts with a can of condensed milk. As soon as I see that in the ingredients list I'm done for. I will make it.
So there's a fantastic dessert I had growing up in Brazil called "Pudim de leite condensado".  In English, FLAN. The name does it no justice whatsoever. I'm shocked anyone even makes it with a name like that. Take my word for it , it is simply - To. Die. For. 

All you need ;
4 eggs
2 cans of condensed milk                                                                                                                         2 c milk
1/2c sugar 

The first thing you are going to do is get whatever dish you plan on making it in and it should be stove and oven safe. I use my bundt pan.
Over a medium high heat you melt down the sugar. Stirring and shaking around that pot to make sure it melts evenly.

Just before serving find a pretty serving dish and turn that baby over and let it pop onto the dish.
You will see in the right hand corner that I have a small ramkin dish with flan in it. You can do that too! I like to make a separate little one for my husband. Small gestures go a long way, ladies !

Let me know how yours turns out !

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peach Preserves 

This was so worth the hour I spent making these ! So simple and so delicious. Buy them up cheap and save them to use when they would be out of season and not nearly as fresh!

You will need....
Lg canning pot
Lg pot for peaches
Mason jars and new lids
6 L peaches
1 1/2c sugar
Cinnamon sticks
Water, water, water

First , make sure you have prepared your jars. You can wash them in hot water and leave them in the hot water in your sink. Or you use your dishwasher and keep them in there until you are ready to fill them. You just have to keep them warm so they don't break on you when you put them into boiling water. Don't forget to wash your lids.

Make sure your big canning pot is full with the lid on working up to a boil while you do all these things.

Now get another pot and bring it to a boil. When it's at a rolling boil you want to gently drop in your peaches for about 60  seconds.

Remove them and put them right away into cold water to stop the cooking. Like magic before your eyes you should be able to just rub off the peel.
(You can do this in batches and you can return the peach to the boiling water if the peel is not ready)

Now remove your pit. I just run my knife along it from one side to the next and then wiggle the knife a little. Twist and it should come apart.

At this point I dump my peach water and put about 10cups of fresh water in there and whisk in about 1 1/2c sugar. You can put more in if you want a thicker/sweeter syrup. I wanted mine to taste more natural.

Now pack your peaches into the jars and slide a cinnamon stick in with it. Leave room at the top. Now fill with sugar water mixture , tapping out any air bubbles. Secure the lid.
Repeat, when your jars are ready put them into your boiling water and make sure the water is covering the jars by about an inch or two. Cook for about 20-25minutes.

Peach Preserves  

Remove and let cool. When they are cool you should be able to press down the lid and it will make a popping sound and it will stay down. If it doesn't , you can put it in your fridge and have it for dessert tonight or you can just return it to the boiling water for another few minutes and try again.

It's a good idea to label your jars when they cool and you are ready to store them in your cool, dry place (ie, NOT beside your furnace or garden shed....). They should last about a year !

Eat them as they are. Over ice cream. In oatmeal. Under a crumble or in a pie.... sky's the limit!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Domestic Arts 

I have been wanting to do so many things for  the longest time. I just couldn't seem to juggle all my interests with so many young children and pregnancies happening over the last 12 years. This year I was not not nursing or pregnant and there was no stroller ! When you've had 7 pregnancies in 10 years this is a BIG DEAL !

So between that and Pinterest overload I've gotten really excited about getting back into what I call "the domestic arts". All those extras that warm your home. When my children grow up I want the sound of a sewing machine to remind them of me. I want the smell of warm cookies to feel like home.  I want them to remember eating  warm tomatoes straight from the vine. I want them to experience sunshine on their clothes. I want the sight of a mason jar to stir up countless reminders of the love that filled them.

When they get married and start their families I want them to value these things in their wives. I want them to see purpose in the little things their wives do because they know what it meant to their growing up. I want them to appreciate the creative touch a woman who pursues the art of making a home can bring.

Ladies, do you realize when you apply your efforts into these tasks how empowered you are? When you do a good job, I mean really put thought and effort into your career at home, you have the power to change your children's world view. Do you really think they will see women as less valuable because they are home or because we complain about being home ? When you choose to make a career of homemaking be joyful , be progressive in your talents and be purposeful ! We were never made to be less by being home, we've done that on our own by teaching our children that we are unhappy, feel undervalued , resent the loss of (insert personal issue here). 

Homemakers don't have to fit a mold. Just because one person loves to bake and you love photography doesn't mean one of you is better. Every area of God given talent allows you to leave your fingerprint on your home. Use your passions and be blessed by the opportunity to be home , if you are so lucky.

When I look back at my memories of my mother now I remember her being very resourceful. Honestly, she could bake an apple pie by using green tomatoes. She cooked from scratch - every birthday cake. She sewed our Barbies clothes. Clipped down old cards with her "fancy" scissors to make gift tags.

I'll tell you something, she really doesn't like cooking and sewing (I don't think ) but one of her talents is being resourceful. She took pleasure in being able to source a way to meet the needs with the little there was. My parents were missionaries. She kept chickens for crying out loud ! Actually that one makes me laugh out loud. She made our house a home and provided us with cherished memories. She set a great example of how to manage a home.

Be encouraged ! If you are home, even for a season, make the days count. Raise your value but enjoy what you do and don't be tempted to compare yourself to another wife/mother.

You will be getting a good helping of blogs from me in the next bit. Recipes and such things that I am working on. I hope you will find encouragement in them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Easy T-Shirts Without a Pattern

Easy T-Shirts Without a Pattern 



I'm going to start off this entry by giving you a gentle warning. If you are an avid , skilled seamstress, this blog is not for you ! This is a humble blog for ladies in the process of making the title of Homemaker their profession . Perhaps you don't have much time in this season of life or many resources. But you want to find new ways to improve your home, save money or learn a new hobby.  I'm glad you are interested in following my journey !


I've really come to enjoy putting together a number of projects. You are about to participate in my first attempt at making t-shirts for me and the family.
I bought myself 2 meters of a stretchy cotton fabric, on sale for $2/meter ! What a steal ! One walk through your fabric store and you will quickly see that projects can either save you money or cost you some very serious money !

Ready ? Here we go-

Find your favourite t-shirt.
Fold your fabric down the middle so you have a long piece doubled over.
Fold your shirt in half and put the folded side along the fold of the new fabric.
Now you can either trace around it or pin it to the fabric and cut right away. If you are thinking you will be perfect this time around and want a pattern that you can reuse you can draw out the shape onto craft paper.

When you trace your shirt to cut out, be sure to leave a seam allowance. This is usually about 5/8of an inch of extra fabric that you will need in order to stitch.

You now have the BACK piece of your shirt.
To make the front I place my cut out piece over the fabric so that I know my pieces will be symmetrical when I sew them together.

The trick now is that you have to make the neck line. Notice how it will be lower than your back piece.
I've done a V neck today. I found the middle point and made sure that my lines were straight and even.

With right sides together ( usually the patterned side, I'm sorry my material doesn't have one), find your shoulder seams and stitch the front and back pieces together. Do this for both sides. Use your favourite T-shirt as your guide to locate the shoulders !

Now take a long strip of your leftover fabric  and cut it into a strip that's about 2-3 inches wide. This is going to be the collar.
Whenever you sew make sure you set up your ironing board ! Seriously, it is worth the time to always press your fabric. You will achieve a much cleaner finish and your fabric will be easier to use as well.
Fold your strip together lengthwise, wrong sides together. And press it.  

 Now the fun part. Do this slowly, carefully and right ! 
Turn your shirt back to right sides out.
You are going to measure around how long a strip you need for the collar. And, you are going to fold over the strip into the "V" at the end. Pay attention to where the folded edge is- that's what I got caught up on ! 
Once you have stitched the tip of your "V" in the strip line it up with the shirt. I cut a  small slit on my shirt for extra flexibility where you see the arrow.
Tack it into place. First right in the center and then a couple of pins on either side.
stitch that into place and then work the collar into place and stitch that.
Admire, press !  

It's a good idea when you do any of your stitching , that you go around again with a zig-zag stitch if you aren't using a serger.

You are almost done !
Stitch up the sides, with right sides together and hem the bottom and the sleeves !
Voila !

Now off to make some for the family.  Now that I've done a practice shirt I will be able to add all sorts of wonderful to it !

Let me know how yours turn out ! Share your pictures on my facebook page at Growing by Grace.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash 

You can add meatballs to this or serve it as a vegetarian meal or side ! Change up the sauces, cheeses and herbs ! 

Cut your spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds.
Bake it at 350degrees for about half an hour or until tender when you poke it with a fork.

Use a fork to scrape at the insides and it will come apart just like spaghetti strands. If you've never made spaghetti squash this will be a very nice "aha !" moment. 

Healthy and delicious

Mix in about 2tbs of your favourite marinara sauce and top it with grated cheese. I used mozzarella this time but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Bake it again until it is bubbly and then sprinkle it with some fresh herbs. 

Enjoy !

Saturday, May 11, 2013

She Did What She Could 

Last year was a rough year for me. I can't explain why but my world just squeezed in around me. Every insecurity came at me face first and I felt drowned in my own life. I reached out to some women who I felt could counsel me or at the least share my burdens. I'm so glad I did.
I was blessed by a simple verse "she did what she could...".

The story is in Mark 14 where Jesus is at a home enjoying a visit before the night he is arrested. A woman pours precious perfume over Jesus' head and some of the guests criticize her use of such expensive perfume. Suggesting that she could have done better with what she had. But Jesus defends her and tells them to leave her alone.

"She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could , She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the World, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Mark 14:8

Sometimes the World expects so much from us when we are poor. Sometimes there are so many opinions about how we should use our time, our resource, our energy. God knows just how much we have to give and when we give it he blesses us. He calls our pure motives beautiful. 

(And if you are among the people doing the criticizing - STOP IT ! Get to doing what it is that you can do....)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Biblical Inspirations from my family

Bless your children's hearts today
Thank you Lord !
Proverbs 31:21
Phew !
My Man !
Be strong buddy
My Love
The Family
Good bye orchids
From our Spring walk
Studying Psalm 119
Grandma Becky

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gluten and Dairy Free Tofu Mousse

1pkg silken tofu
1 c melted chocolate
splash of chocolate almond milk
tsp mint extract

Blend in blender , pour in cup and chll. Garnish as desired. So good noone would know it's tofu. Glutten and dairy free.

Healthy and Delicious


Easy Lamingtons

I saw a picture of Lamington's on Pinterest a while ago and I thought they were just so pretty.
Of course until then I had never heard of them but I have learned that they are an Australian treat. I'm going to keep my post really simple and tell you that I often will find a recipe and look for ways to make it work within my budget or amount of time I can put in between homeschooling five boys and the rest of life as it happens.

So here goes. I skipped making the cake from scratch entirely and made a boxed cake.
When it's cool wrap it and freeze it overnight. The next day trim off all the "crust" so you have a perfect soft yellow cake. Now cut it into cubes. It's so much easier working from frozen so when you are done again put them back in the freezer.

Now is when I really strayed. I tried to make a lemon glaze but it just wasn't working for me. Better luck to you if you would like to go that route. It was very simple; heat 1/2c water with 2TBS light corn syrup and 2 TBS fresh lemon juice and then mix with 7 1/2 cups of icing sugar. As I said, I did not like the way this was working for me so here's what I ended up doing.

Set up your double boiler and put half a can of ready made frosting in the top pot to warm. Add food colouring of your choice. When it's quite runny skewer a frozen cake cube and drizzle the melted frosting over it to coat and then in a separate bowl coat the frosted cube with shredded coconut. Put it on the cooling rack to harden and then I put mine back in the freezer until I needed them. I made four batches of colours. 

Easy , eh ? I hope they will be a big hit, I think they are so pretty I photographed them with the Gerbera Daisies my sons bought me just because it made me smile.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On Toddlers and Teenagers

My bookends

 Lately I've been looking at my youngest who's 2.5yr old. Anticipating all the things he is just about to do and the "freedoms" for me that are coming. And then I look at my nearly 12 year old and wonder how he got so big so soon. Wasn't it just yesterday he was the 2 yr old ?? All those old people that smile when you are waddling in the mall with a bunch of kids saying "time flies, before you know it...." and you smile back to be polite. Agree but don't really get it because you are so tired , overworked and the days never, ever seem to end. And it really isn't that you don't believe them, you just don't feel that desperation to hold onto and cherish every moment. At least that has been my experience.

I've enjoyed them but I've always kept my eyes on the next step.Of course you do need to do that but I am finally getting that desperate urge to cling to the last of the toddler days. The days of innocent sentences that come out as hilarious. The spontanious throwing of their bodies into your legs. The swinging around your skirt while you try to do dishes so that something in the house is clean. The days where they really want to spend time with you and they watch your mouth move as you teach them something new. Crawling into your bed to be near you when all you want to do is recharge because they will be there needy again when you wake up. The simple fulfillment they receive from a cheap Mr.Freeze.

Need more things you are going to miss? Seeing "kid" things in the bathtub. Now they want to smell like Dad. Soft toys replaced with hard books and video games. Rain boots, they go away. I hear a baby cry when I go out and I snap my head back from what I'm doing because I'm so used to it being my child. No more baby cries. Death hollers, yes.

Thought empty toothpaste tubes and toilet paper rolls were a problem ? That was cute. Now there's no lawn and every mechanical thing they find is fair game for dissection. Now to pause for the good part. I am so blessed. I have five boys. I see the pattern of changes. I am learning the drill. When it's over, it's gone. I have been warned. And I have been given enough children to know now to enjoy these joys that are flowing past. I haven't missed them all! If I only had one or two kids I wouldn't have known this until it was gone. But for me I still have time.

It's sad that most parents stop having kids right before they get good at it. Right before they "get it". Who tells you that your family is big enough ? People with 1-2 kids who never had this awakening. This is my theory, anyways. I don't have Baby-itis anymore but I am not done either. I'm milking this now for all it's worth. I get to enjoy toddlers and teenagers at the same time. And I hope that in a few short years it will come full circle and I will get to enjoy my teenagers and my adult children's babies. Wow. And I won't miss it. I will be the old lady telling my sons and daughter in laws "Time flies, before you know it...." And they will smile. And they will be polite. And they won't get it.