Erin's self-sufficiency blog

Dedicated to sharing my efforts in radical homemaking, self-sufficiency, simplicity, and general craftiness on a very, very small budget.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Owl, brown sugar, and kid food.

I worked on a few projects over the past few weeks.  I haven't accomplished a lot of new stuff lately, mostly because what I'm doing is taking a long time, or because I'm doing stuff I've already blogged about before.  That doesn't mean that I'm behind in my homemaking (unless you are talking about cleaning or decorating.  Then I am behind.)

The first thing I want to show is a little owl I knit for the baby.  It's my first knit stuffed toy.  It wasn't difficult at all (okay, that's a lie.  Starting out with three stitches in a round was difficult.  It took me a couple of days how to do this without the needles sliding out of the stitches.)  The pattern is from the lovely Rachel and you can buy it here:  I also have my eye on the All the Trees of the Fields Will Clap Their Hands hat pattern.

It's soooo cute.

I also want to tell you all about something I've been doing for a while that you should be doing too.  That is making my own brown sugar.  Many people are unaware that brown sugar is not, in fact, unrefined sugar, but is refined white sugar with molasses added back in.  So if it's really important to you to use unrefined sugar, look for raw or turbinado sugar, which has a lovely taste.  Also keep an eye out for jaggery in Indian grocery stores.  It is not meek.  If you don't mind eating refined sugar, then you can make your own brown sugar, save a few bucks and not have to worry about weird additives.

You need white sugar, molasses, and a large ziplock bag.  A bowl might be nice too.  Take however much white sugar you want--I usually do two cup amounts.  Then add a tablespoon of molasses for each cup of sugar.  You can add more or less depending on how molasses-y you want it.  Then rub it together.  Really get your hands in there and combine it all (of course you should wash your hands first.)  When you are finished and all the molasses is incorporated, put it in the ziplock.  If your brown sugar starts to harden, throw in a little piece of bread or a piece of apple and it will sort itself out.  If you are using apple, remove it once the sugar is soft again.  The apple won't go bad but it will start to draw molasses out of the sugar.  The bread can be left in there indefinitely.

Finally I made a meal that was the result of a difference in parenting philosophy between Jason and myself.  I think that kids should have to eat all the same food that the adults are eating.  No, they won't like it all, but this way they can develop tastes and learn to try foods they might not like if they are guests at someone's home.  Jason thinks that we should make kid-friendly food and not force them to eat things they don't like.  We struck up a compromise: half the time they will eat adult food and half the time they will eat kid food.  So I thought I'd better learn to make kid food.  I rather haughtily made a statement about chicken nuggets being a forbidden food, because I know what goes in them (a lot of not-good stuff).  Jason thought I was banning all breaded chicken under any circumstance.  So I decided to make my own chicken nuggets, made out of actual chicken.  I took chicken breast (boneless skinless, which I hardly ever use, but which has increasingly been on our table since I became pregnant and stopped liking anything with any sort of depth of flavor).  I took the heels off some loaves of bread and toasted them in the oven.  When they were toasted I ground them in the food processor to make breadcrumbs.  So I cut up the chicken, beat an egg, coated the chicken in the egg, coated that in the breadcrumbs, and panfried it.  It came out pretty good, although a little bland.  I might have to add more salt to the breadcrumbs, or make a tasty dipping sauce (neither Jason nor I are crazy about ketchup).  I also make oven-baked yam "fries", as the smell of the deep-fryer drives me crazy these days.  I tossed them with a little oil and some seasonings: salt and pepper as well as Cajun seasoning.  I baked that until the little yam sticks were tender.  I also made sauteed asparagus, which might not necessarily be the most kid friendly vegetable in the world, but maybe wouldn't be so bad either.  I learned this recipe from a store that was giving out samples.  All I did was snap the ends off the bottoms of the asparagus, wash it, and fry it in a little olive oil with salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic until it turned bright green.  Then I took it off the heat and served it.  You really must try it.  Jason hated asparagus until this recipe. I tasted it in the store and said, "This will convert you to liking asparagus" and it did.  So even if you think you hate asparagus, you must try this recipe.