Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our Annual Pumpkin Carving Party and Potluck + Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

On Wednesday evening we hosted our annual Pumpkin Carving Party and Potluck. It was fun, but smaller, less crazy that in years past.

They carved pumpkins, of course.

With the advent of Pinterest, the artistic expectations of pumpkin carving art has certainly risen.

I put together a party soundtrack in Grooveshark.You can enjoy it, too, by using this link.

There was some silly dancing to songs from various Halloweeny-ish movies.

And of course there was the lighting of the pumpkins. I think this might be my favorite part.

I provided stuff to make Frito pie (Frito corn chips topped with Hormel chili and cheddar cheese), as well as stuff for rootbeer floats. Our guests brought desserts and other main dishes.

After the carving was complete, the kids played games and I prepared the pumpkin seeds for roasting. I put the pumpkin guts and seeds in cold water to I let them dry for a day before roasting them. I coated them with butter, dusted them with salt (some people suggested using garlic powder) and roasted them at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.

And of course we missed Ethan who is now sailing in the waters off of the Mexican coast.



2 c. sugar
1 c. shortening
2 eggs, well beaten
3 1/2 c. flour
2 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. applesauce with 2 tsp. soda added
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 c. raisins
2 c. walnuts

Cream sugar and shortening; add the eggs. Add the applesauce/soda mixture and mix well. Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and add. Add oatmeal, raisins and nuts last. Drop by teaspoons on greased cookie sheets and bake in 400°F oven for about 12 minutes.
Makes 7 dozen cookies.

Our Party Soundtrack via Grooveshark!

Fun Halloween Related Music Videos:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Alpine Valley School Halloween Party

Ellie and Kohlton put on a great party at school. What a busy day it was for them. In addition to setting up for the party, they finished their costumes, made a cake, picked up Brandon from the airport and oh yeah, did the usual school stuff, too. Here's a quick recap of the party:
I thought Ellie looked lovely in the Harley Quinn outfit that I made for her. Harley Quinn is Joker's girlfriend and therapist.

I missed Ethan. He will not be home for Thanksgiving, either. That will be sad and strange.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Favorite Story from Yesterday + Horseradish-Crusted Roast Beef Recipe

Last night as I lay in bed, I had the window open listening to the sound of the leaves dropping from the tree. It almost sounded like rain. There we so many of them. I lay there, content, thinking about my favorite story from the day. It is the story of our dog, Remmie, playing in the leaves.

Ellie and Kohlton spent part of the evening racking up the leaves. Remmie did not like the racks, but LOVES the leaves. Kohlton, Remmie and the rack played Scary Monster for a short bit and then Kohlton went back to racking. Remmie ran rounds in the yard happily.
The kids played with the leaves, too. Kohlton gave Ellie a leaf bucket challenge. She came out wearing a crown of leaves. It was very cute.

Remmie was sure that the pile of leaves was for his benefit and he was thrilled.
They kids wanted in the action, too. Remmie thought that was even better!
Remmie was feeling a bit wild, so they got up and then Ellie decided that it might be fun to bury Kohlton in the leaves so that Remmie could find him, sort of a game of hide and seek. Remmie was perplexed, at first. How could the leaves suddenly smell like Kohlton? Remmie might have been thinking. Then Kohlton made a slight noise and Remmie knew for sure what he must do. Kohlton is such a good sport and he loves Remmie so.
The feeling is mutual, as you can see here.

(As I write this story, I find that it sounds a bit flat. I think the fun I felt was from watching the dog have such a wonderful time, letting himself become fully enveloped in that joy. The dog often reminds me that I need to be more willing to surrender myself to simply joys and be less distracted by other things. This is a lesson that I seem to need to learn over and over again.)

We also had a lovely dinner and great conversation about the day at AVS. I cherish nights like these. We had a Horseradish-Crusted Roast Beef, brussel sprouts sauteed in butter with garlic and parmesan cheese, as well as biscuts for dinner. I thought you might enjoy the recipe for the roast beef.

I also included a fun joyous dog video for your viewing pleasure.

Horseradish-Crusted Roast Beef
via: Food and Wine

One 6-pound sirloin tip roast, preferably grass-fed, tied
1/2 cup prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I did not have sherry vinegar, so I used rice vinegar. It worked nicely)

Preheat the oven to 375°. Set a rack in a large, deep roasting pan and place the beef roast on the rack.

In a small bowl, blend the horseradish with the salt, Dijon mustard, chopped parsley, ground pepper, sugar and sherry vinegar to form a paste. Slather the paste all over the top and sides of the meat. Roast in the lower third of the oven for about 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 125°. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Discard the string and thinly slice the roast beef across the grain. Transfer the meat to a platter and serve.

Speaking of happy dogs, here is one of Kohlton's favorite videos of all time:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Camping in Vedauwoo, Wyoming, A New Adventure on a Schooner Bound for Mexico for Ethan + PF CHANG’S MONGOLIAN BEEF+ BROCCOLI COPYCAT RECIPE

Now that they can both drive, Ellie and Kohlton were itching to go out and have an independent adventure sans the parents. They took a short road trip up to Vedauwoo, a lovely rock formation in southern Wyoming.

Out on the West Coast, Ethan has said good-bye, for now at least, to The Lady Washington and The Hawaiian Cheiftan. He has called them home since February. Now Ethan is on a new adventure upon the Schooner Patricia Bell. Here is information about her from the Tall Ship Festival site:
Schooner Patricia Belle was built by owner Captain Patrick Hughes from 1994 – 1998. Constructed of locally grown Douglas Fir in Port Orchard, Washington.

Her shake down cruise was from Seattle to Nicaragua, returning with 10,000 pounds of Arabic coffee to San Diego. Patricia Belle has sailed the Pacific to Hawaii, Mexican Waters annually for 10 years, Central America, Panama, through the Golf Coast of America, Bahamas, Caribbean and South America.

As a private family owned schooner, friends, family and Mariners in training are always welcome aboard.

Ethan has joined their crew to take part in the Baja HaHa, a regatta from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. They will be taking part in the event from Oct. 26 to November 8th. If Ethan being on the crew for the boat is a good fit, he will stay on and sail with them until he comes home for Christmas. Then he is considering going to Thailand with Emily and a few other friends for a few months next year. I am excited for him to go on this new adventure, but nervous about his being in Mexico.

via: Damn Delicious

1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain (Ellie did not like the flank steak. I thought it was fine. Next time I might try sirloin steak)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2-3 cups Broccoli, trimmed to bite size pieces
1/2 cup Water

In a clean, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1/2 cup water. Heat soy sauce mixture until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes; set aside.

In a large baggie, combine flank steak and cornstarch.Toss to coat the beef with the cornstarch.

Steam the broccoli by heating the water up in a clean pan. Add the broccoli once the water is hot. Stir occasionally. Steam the broccoli for just a few minutes. Be careful not to over steam it. Set it aside as you cook the beef.

Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add beef and fry until browned and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; discard excess oil.

Add beef, steamed broccoli and soy sauce mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and cook until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in green onions.

We serve ours over Basmati rice.

Serve immediately.