Wednesday, September 29, 2010

beach school


Fun and adventurous.

That is what our homeschool day felt like yesterday afternoon.

Mike was working at home so I was able to leave the nappers with him and pack up my school age kids, a few of our books and head off to the beach.

We even spied a deer in the woods.

We had a great time.  I am so thankful for these special days that I get to spend with my kids!

Friday, September 24, 2010

a typical morning

Let me break it down:
* Ethan is learning a new math concept; I am helping him.
* Luke and I are reading his grammar lesson.
* Luke is also picking blocks up off the floor and putting them on Justus' tray (it is easier for a boy to retain information when his hands are busy).
* Ava is coloring her math page.
* Aidan just finished a typing game on the computer.
* Justus is throwing the blocks at me and complaining about his buckled in situation.

It's crazy. It is a bit tiring. But man, is it worth it. And it's fun too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Easy Egg Cupcakes

The past year has been quite transformational for my diet. Hopefully I'll be able to go into that in great detail in future posts, but for now I want to tackle one specific issue by offering a recipe.

For starters, I've eliminated nearly all grains, legumes and (most) dairy out of my diet. I eat meat and veggies and some fruit. That's pretty much it. I mix in a few nuts and seeds every now and then but try to stick to meat and veggies. Also I try to minimize polyunsaturated fats and maximize saturated fats. I share that only to throw out a controversial subject with the promise to revisit it in future posts. Eating this way, along with regular exercise at Crossfit X in Barkely Village, has put me in the best shape of my life, surpassing even when I was playing soccer in high school. I can even button size 32 jeans, which I can't ever remember being able to do.

Anyhow, adjusting to this diet hasn't been effortless. Easier than you think, for sure, but not being able to eat much of anything that comes out of a box requires some purposeful living, especially in the area of food preparation.

Anyhow, the specific issue is breakfast.  I love breakfast. I love for it to my biggest and fattiest meal of the day. I don't mind getting up early or doing what it takes to have a good breakfast. I find that when I get a breakfast full of eggs, meat and veggies--and enough fat to cover the food pyrmid--I feel great all day, am barely hungry at lunch and ready for a nice-sized earlyish dinner. It really suits our lifestyle right now. I know that many people place high value on morning sleep and don't feel like undertaking a monumental task of creating a breakfast feast so they find themselves reaching for a bagel or some other form of poison.

This needn't be the case. You just haven't yet been introduced to breakfast cupcakes. I'm about to remove that excuse.

For this meal, you'll need a lot of eggs. For the batch in this series of pictures, I think I used about 36 and that made about 18 cupcakes. I like to crack the eggs into a separate dish and then dump the dish into the main dish. I do this because it sucks to dig a tiny piece of shell out of huge vat of eggs but it's equally lame to get an unnaturally crunchy bite of egg cupcake. Doing this solves both problems.

Then you cut up veggies. Sharpen your knife b/c this is going to take a while.

Mushrooms, jalepenos... yum.

I've also got swiss chard, white onions, other peppers, other peppers, cilantro and probably some other things going into these eggs. My kids prefer just onions, meat and cheese but we were also making part of this batch for my vegetarian sister. She just got a job as a teacher and has some of those time challenges.

So now you sauté up the veggies. I use butter to sauté veggies because (1) butter tastes awesome and (2) I'm trying to maximize saturated fat in my diet. Depending on your preferences, other appropriate oils include bacon or sausage drippings--which would be available because any sane person would include meat in these--or coconut oil if you're trying to avoid dairy fats and meat. Do not use corn/canola/vegetable/etc oil (because it is poison) OR olive oil (because you shouldn't cook at high heat w/ olive oil b/c it oxidizes and attacks your body with free radicals).

Keep in mind the order of sautéing. You want to start out with the things that are tougher or more fibrous, then progressively add things that cook up more quickly. The besting thing is to start w/ bacon or sausage, then add in the veggies until you have a pan full of awesome egg cupcake filling. The fat from the meat is perfect for cooking the veggies.

Now, spray a couple X-Large muffin pans with Pam. You can use other fat to grease the pan if you want but I use Pam b/c it's easy. Also, I generally don't like using nonstick cookware but for occasional baking I guess it's okay. If you have the right muffin pan, it'll nicely hold 1/2 a cup of eggs. That's about 2 eggs.

Dump 1/3 cup of the meat/veggie mix into the egg and that'll push the limits of what you can put in there.

Then, if you want to, you can add a pinch of shredded cheese. I'm a fan of this and so are my kids. If you're not big on dairy than skip it.  If you add it, mix it in a bit.

Into the oven they go. They take about 25 minutes at 350 for two pans. You'll know they are done when the middle doesn't jiggle like liquid. There's a lot of room for error here so don't worry about overcooking them by 5 minutes or so. You won't ruin them.

Let them cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan. Note: we throw away the older-looking muffin pan after this. They fall out of the new pan with nary a trace of cupcake. You end up recovering about 85% of the cupcake w/ the old pan and that includes a decent amount of scraping with a plastic scraper. I think the pans are $14 and they sell them at Haggen. It's worth it to get a new one (or 2).

After cooking them, let them cool on a sheet pan. Once cool, put the sheet pan in the freezer. Overnight should be enough time to freeze them solid. I like to put them in a big freezer bag at this point as that makes them easier to store. In the morning, zap it for 2-3 minutes in the microwave (covered) and enjoy with salsa or some fresh fruit. If you're extra hungry, grab two. For a good lunch at work, bring one in a microwavable dish. It'll stay cold enough until you are able to microwave it at work.

Enjoy! Now you are without excuse.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

my boys and science

The "habitat" assignment reads: "Rope off a 1 square-yard area in your backyard and carefully examine it."

This is not exactly how I pictured it. But I like it.