Mint Lemonade

Let me tell you about 2017 around here.  It was hard.  Mind numbingly, bone wearyingly, put one foot in front of the other hard.  Looking back on it now, I have no idea how I navigated one day to the next.  Does autopilot have a survival setting?

The Mistah spent 2017 overseas on Deployment #3 which meant Miss Libby had a one (wo)man show at home.  I’d like to think that I rose to the occasion and was the best version of my parenting self for the 328 days he was gone.  I really would like to think that.  But I lived it.  And I know that most days I was lucky to find the good enough version of me.  I suspect the better and best versions of me were hiding out together in piles of laundry….not washing, folding, or putting it away mind you….just hiding there…slackers.

For her part, Miss Libby progressed from a normal 4 year old into a normal 5 year old while The Mistah was away.  Which meant pushing Good Enough just about as far as it could go.  That was usually when Loud Momma would make an appearance.  I can tell you for a fact that neither Libby nor I liked having Loud Momma around.  And I don’t think the next door neighbors cared much for her either (sorry neighbors).

Loud Momma typically brought along I’m Sorry Momma to clean up the mess.  Now that I think about it, you would never see the two of them at the same time….interesting.  And at some point in every single day, Tired Momma would take over.  She was the understudy waiting in the wings for her cue to step into character.

Bless her perpetually tired heart.

Tired Momma hits snooze a few times too many but still gets her child to school…usually before the late bell.  This is not to say that neither Tired Momma nor her child are free of telltale flaws in their outfit.  Hint, it’s usually the socks.

Tired Momma makes the food appear daily as if by magic.  Sometimes that magic goes by the name of cereal or uncrustables or delivery….and that’s ok.

Tired Momma does all of the chores that The Mistah would usually handle like taking out the trash and scooping the litter box.  But in exchange she outsources grass cutting and snow shoveling.

Tired Momma recognizes other Tired Mommas and Daddys.  And we salute them.  Usually as we shamble our way through school drop off, school pick up, and the grocery store.

Tired Momma loves nothing more than a day off.  However, those usually come disguised as sick days or snow days…so you can see how much off time they actually provide.

Tired Momma carried more than her share of the load around here last year and even her shoulders of stone need a rest sometimes.  So it is with the Mint Lemonade that The Mistah enjoyed during his time in the desert that I toast her.  I’m sure that I will call on her again….but I’ve got my fingers crossed that it won’t be any time soon.

Mint Lemonade

BAH Note:  I had to ask The Google to find something close to what The Mistah raved about while in the dessert.  Please note, this isn’t just lemonade with a touch of mint.  This is full on, spinach smoothie green, lemonade.  If you choose to make it with ice cubes, you should expect to have a foamy white top layer.  And since you don’t strain out the blizted mint leaves, you should also expect those mint leaves in the bottom of your glass…and maybe in your teeth.

As always, this is just a starting point.  You should adjust things to your liking.

  • 10 ounces lemon juice (from 5ish lemons)
  • 1 cup water + 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mint leaves (approximately 1 grocery store bunch)
  • 2 cups water + 1 cup ice cubes OR 1 cup water

Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar just dissolves.  Cool slightly.

Mix the lemon juice, mint leaves, sugar syrup, and remaining water/water+ice in a blender, run on high speed until the mint is completely pulverized, and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

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Old Fashioned Lemonade

lemonade

Lately I’ve been looking for old fashioned, low tech solutions to a modern day problem.  Specifically, how to follow the Baltimore Orioles in the digital age without digital resources.  For as long as I can remember, the games have been televised on a local tv station for all to enjoy.  But this year, games can only be watched on the regional cable sports network…which shall not be named and which is not a channel available on any of my streaming devices.

I ask you…what’s a girl to do?

If you’re me, you start by looking on the internet for a broadcast stream of the game.  Nope.  The local radio affiliates do not stream their game time coverage.  So while I could sit in my car and listen to the game, if I use the tablet in my kitchen to pull up the radio stations’ web sites and try to Listen Live….no luck.  I think maybe hi tech isn’t always the answer.

Especially for my 95 year old grandmother.

The things that she still enjoys in her assisted living community are few and far between…hot coffee….decaf….black, getting her hair done, and watching baseball games.  She’s about as low tech as it gets so when the games went off of the local tv station, she was left with even fewer options than I was.  Giving her new technology is a recipe for frustration (hers and mine), not to mention a waste of money. So in my quest to find a solution for me, I also was looking for one that could work for her.

Enter some quintessential old school technology…the radio.  And let me tell you, those things are harder to find than I think they should be in 2018.  I went down a few Etsy and Ebay rabbit holes initially trying to find an old working radio that looked like the green Zenith my grandparents used to have in their kitchen.  In my search, I ended up with three solutions.

One modern FM radio capable of receiving HD stations.  That one lives at my house for rooftop game enjoyment.

One 1970’s Zenith. Silver and beige.  She’s a beauty.  And she is what I listen to in bed on game nights.

And one brand new pocket radio….you might know it better as a transistor radio.  For my grandmother.  The cashier at Target was almost too young to know what it was.  Which officially made me feel like an oldster.

I suppose the moral of this story is that The Google and Alexa don’t have all the answers all the time.  Sometimes you have to ask What Would An Oldster Do and look for the lowest tech option available.

Old Fashioned Lemonade

Adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli

BAH Note:  Lemon juice + sugar + water is nearly as low tech as beverages get.  The original recipe calls for three lemons roughly chopped to go into your blender with the lemon juice and sugar.  I tried it.  I did NOT enjoy it.  I’ve adjusted that ingredient below according to my taste and feel like it’s a pretty reasonable place to start.  I also want to try my hand at blizting granulated sugar in my food processor to mimic “caster” sugar.  That stuff’s hella pricey to keep putting in my cart at the grocery store for as much of this as we drink at our house….nothing’s better on an early summer day than sitting on the roof listening to the baseball game while sipping on a cold, old fashioned lemonade…easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.  Yes, I am an oldster….see reference above.

  • 1/2 lemon, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups caster sugar (don’t confuse this with superfine powdered sugar)
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 10ish lemons)
  • 5 cups water

Combine the chopped lemon, lemon juice, and caster sugar in a blender and run it at medium/high until nicely blended.

Strain out any remaining solids through a fine mesh strainer.

Combine the strained juice and water in a pitcher, stir to combine, and enjoy.

{printable link}

Chocolate Nut Butter Bites

nut butter bites

Miss Libby is at an age where she like to be in the middle of whatever I’m doing.  Unless she is able to watch cartoons.  If cartoons are an option, then there’s no question that they win every time.

Having a “helper” in the kitchen is easier now that we have a bigger kitchen but it’s still an exercise in patience for me.  While I love pulling Libby into the process of taking a bunch of different ingredients and turning them into a finished product, I get twitchy watching anybody in my kitchen doing things differently than I would.  I do a lot of tongue biting and counting to ten and, in the end, everything (usually) comes out fine.

So far her involvement is limited to mixing, stirring, pressing the button on the food processor, cracking eggs, and scooping dough.  And to keep the voice in my head from throwing a hissy fit over the way her things look, I “sometimes” prep/shape/scoop most of the recipe and then let her have her way with the rest.  See that tray of nut butter bites in the background behind Libby?  I did those before handing the scoop over to Little Miss.  Her results were…shall we say….less consistent than mine.  And. That’s. Ok. Especially when my helper that day is Snow White.

Now if only she could do that trick where the animals come and make the house all tidy.  Then maybe I could sit and watch cartoons with her instead of doing dishes.

Chocolate Nut Butter Bites

Adapted from Love and Lemons

BAH Note:  I was tempted to omit the flaxseed because I had such a struggle finding it in a store.  Glad that I didn’t since is acts as a binder (in lieu of egg) and allows this to be a completely no bake recipe.  Do yourself a favor and just double the recipe below from the get go.

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup nut butter of choice (I use cashew butter)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 3 pitted Medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Toast the oats on the stovetop over low heat until they begin to smell nutty.

Combine the flaxseed and water in a small bowl and set aside to thicken.

Pulse the nut butter, agave nectar/maple syrup, dates, coconut oil, and salt in a food processor until combined.  Add the thickened flaxseed and process until smooth.

Add the oats and coconut and pulse until evenly combined.  Add the chocolate chips and process until the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the food processor into a chocolatey ball.

Use a small ice cream scooper to portion the mixture into individual bites onto a sheet pan lined with parchment.  Place in the fridge to chill before transferring to an airtight container and storing in the freezer.

{printable recipe}

Cocoa Crunch

My childhood is filled with memories of breakfast cereal.  Supposedly, as a toddler I enjoyed an entire box of BooBerry all by myself.  I was there and yet I don’t know if this is a tall tale my family liked to tell or if it really happened.  But in the absence of anything to indicate otherwise, I’m going to accept it as the truth.

Also truth is the abundance of sugar in nearly every box of cereal that came into our house.  Frosted Flakes?  Says it right in the name.  Cap’n Crunch?  Sounds wholesome enough.  Those sharp cornered nuggets cut the inside of my mouth…every.single.time…but I didn’t care.  I was loyal to the Cap’n and his sugary cargo.  Crunch Berries.  Peanut Butter Crunch.  The sweeter the better.

The one exception was Rice Krispies.  I’m not sure how they continually snuck into the rotation.  Or course, spoonfuls of sugar sprinkled on top of them negated their “healthy” status.  It didn’t really do much for the cereal.  But man, it did wonders for the milk.

As an adult, my taste in cereal has gotten a little more sophisticated.  Homemade granola tops my list.  But you’ll also find me putting Cheerios, Chex, and the occasional box of Frosted Mini Wheats into my grocery cart.  Sure, I could revive my past relationship with Tony the Tiger but I suspect that I would scarcely recognize him today.  My memory of those frosted flakes has softened with age and some things are simply best left in the past.

This doesn’t mean that I have banished sweetened cereals from Miss Libby’s childhood.  I just keep a tighter rein on them.  Often those Cheerios in my cart are of the Honey Nut variety…in part because I’m not buying separate cereal for The Mistah and The Miss and that’s one they will both eat.  And when we go on vacation, Libby is allowed to choose her own box of cereal at the grocery store.  She can eat as much as she likes but at the end of our trip whatever is left does not get packed up in the car to come home with us.

And on rare occasions, I bust out a few simple ingredients and concoct a grown up version of a cereal that young me would have definitely enjoyed.  I hide it so that it doesn’t get gobbled up quicker than you can say snap, crackle, pop.  And I’m ok with that.  Because out of sight is less likely to result in me eating a whole batch of it by myself…..see reference to the BooBerry incident above.

Cocoa Crunch

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen

BAH Note:  Like many of the recipes that have found their way into my world, I spotted this on Alexandra’s blog.  My note on the page I printed out simply said HELLS YEAH.  And I always make a double batch.  Take that as you will.

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil if you’re feeling fancy)
  • 1.5 ounce 60% dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or golden syrup (not corn syrup)

Set the oven to 275 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, rice cereal, coconut, cocoa, and salt.

Heat the oil and chocolate in the microwave in 30 second pulses until the chocolate has melted.  Stir to fully combine the oil and chocolate.  Add the liquid sweetener to the melted mixture then pour into the dry ingredients and stir to mix well.

Spread in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

7.20.16

libby 4th bday collage

Dear Libby,

You continue to amaze me on a daily basis with:

  • the reach of what you understand and can communicate
  • your fascination with staying in hotels
  • the empathy you are showing for others’ feelings
  • the depth of your imagination
  • your performance skills….especially as Elsa from Frozen
  • your resistance to sleeping with the light off
  • the joy you bring to those around you…including me

From the bottom of my heart, I love you to pieces dear girl.  Thank you for the grand adventure of being your momma.

 

 

 

Random Recipes You Need

to post graphic

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

This is the final installment of my draft folder clean out.  These are recipes I’ve made and hope to make again.  But like the random bits of life that accumulate at the back of the junk drawer….fuzz, dental floss, gift cards, subway tokens, and floppy disks….it is all getting cleaned up in one fell swoop.

 Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake via bonappetit.com

Quick Pickled Cucumbers from foodinjars.com

Roasted Tomato and Bread Soup by alexandracooks.com

Salt and Pepper Roasted Chicken Breast a la taylortakesataste.com

Short Rib Ragu from the pages of finecooking.com

Dorie’s Cardamom Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles as seen on doriegreenspan.com

 

Cabbage Roll Soup

to post graphic

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Cabbage Roll Soup

Adapted from Smith Bites

BAH Note:  This recipe reminds me of the soup that my grandmother would make with whatever was left at the bottom of the pot after she made stuffed cabbage rolls.  Thank you Deb and Rod for helping me keep this food memory alive in my kitchen.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 28 ounces chopped tomatoes
  • 1 head green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook about 10 minutes until soft.  Add the ground beef and salt and cook, breaking the beef up with your spatula, until the beef is no longer pink.

Stir in the tomatoes, water, broth, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked and tender.  Stir in the rice before serving.

{printable recipe}