Not Just Any Kitchen

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My cooking style is a bit strange. I can best be described as eclectic and adventurous in the kitchen, as I love to try new recipes and venture forth on new cooking expeditions.  My Celiac Disease plays a large role in this, as our kitchen is entirely gluten free because of it.  Though it is not my fault to have this hereditary disease, I still feel guilt that my family has to eat gluten free at home (in order to avoid cross-contamination).

So, I have strived to cook the best meals that I possibly can.  Ironically, the process of creating a seemingly normal food selection, I have acquired quite a few unusual food items and ingredients.  Peering around my kitchen, I have found these examples:

  • Garbanzo bean flour
  • Black bean brownies
  • Bacon flavored mayonnaise
  • Avocado ranch guacamole
  • Squeezable pudding
  • Sweet corn soup
  • Cashew butter
  • Sleepy Time tea
  • Tapioca flour
  • Arborio rice
  • Tortilla crumbs

Do any of you have abnormal items like this in your kitchen? If so, what are they? I know I have had one follower come forward, but are there any others that are on a gluten free diet?

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My Fascination

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          Years ago, I could have never named who I had a fascination for because I had not yet truly understood the gravity of that feeling. That feeling came later, in the form of my first child.  Jesse, now 8 years old, has captivated me from the time that I first met him.

            Jesse has always been different, but in the most miraculous of ways.  He has always had knowledge that goes far beyond his short time on this Earth, and he has always had an understanding past the “normal” child of his age.  The eyes that Jesse sees the world from remind me so much of myself.  I can’t help but to observe in amazement Jesse’s strong opinions and belief system.

Jesse has a heart that could stop time.  He has empathy for even the smallest of creatures, and he feels emotions like lightning.  I harbor these feelings myself, and I sympathize with his inability to “shake” how passionately he views life.

Jesse’s creativity can best be described as random.  He has a vivid imagination, as he loves to read.  This transforms into the oddest of scenarios and draws him to abnormal interests.  I adore him for this as well; I’ve always believed the more random, the better!

I suppose that my fascination with Jesse is that he seems to be such a large portion of myself, walking around outside my body.  I can relate to this little human so well, in forms that I thought made myself so unique.  I stand in awe each and every day as I watch Jesse grow.  He is someone that I could have never imagined, but someone who turned out so perfect anyway.  Through all that I have been through with him, I can still say that mothering Jesse is the most important thing I have ever done in my life.  This boy will change the world someday, and I will be right behind him…with endless fascination.

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This Year’s Renovation

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July 31, 2009 was the day that my husband turned 25. It also happened to be the day that we officially became homeowners.  The house we picked was not new.  It was not bright and bold.  In fact, it was rather ordinary.  It was downright dreary to tell the truth, an old structure owned by an elderly woman before us.  To us, it was beautiful and held potential to contain countless memories of our family as the years passed.  Little by little, we have built this house into our castle.

As I had touched on in a previous post, we renovate something every year.  We plan ahead, save the money, and move toward our improvement.  This year’s goal was the foundation of our house.  Old and uneven, our foundation is an eyesore.  It once had windows, but these have been since broken and covered with whatever the previous owners could salvage.  In contrast to its age, our house has pristine white siding and bright blue shudders and roof.  But the foundation has always given away its time.

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The process began today, and it began with a bang.  I was expecting the contractor to arrive this morning so I was cleaning up a storm. Shutting the vacuum off around 9:30AM, I realized that there was a ruckus in the basement.  Hammering, drilling, and whatever the hell those crafty noises were had begun in an instant.  I continued to complete tasks around the house, working until lunch.  By this time, Deena was ready to go out again so we ventured out to take a look.  In our lawn was a heaping pile of randomness: old window panes, glass, boards, newspapers…It all came from that ancient foundation.  There were two gaping holes in the side, where the old windows had been removed.

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I let Deena finish her business, took her inside, and approached the contractor’s truck (where he and his son were taking a lunch break).  He said that the process was going well, and the new brick would be laid today.  I was impressed.  I mean, there are giant holes in the side that lead straight to our basement!  He assured me that it would all look much better when they were done; he would have it covered; and then they would resume the task on Monday.

They went back to work, and I came back outside to snap some pics on the phone (because that may look more normal than doing full-out camera shots).  I sent them to Quentin so that he could see the process, and he called to check on where they were.  He is coming home tonight to take a look himself before they head out for the weekend, but we are both excited to see what a difference this will make to the outside of our home.

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Day 2 (Monday) began the process of laying the mesh and concreting. I was inside for most of it, but I came out later in surprise at how much different it all looked.  The foundation was not yet smooth, but much more uniform.  The contractor decided to take a day in between to allow the project to dry and then come back for completion.

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The next day had some rain in the morning, which made me a bit nervous about the drying process. This was the day that the contractors would not be visiting, and I worried that something would go wrong that would cause us to start all over again.  There was not much we could do but wait…

Day 3 began with a bang again, as the contractors set to work.  I was on the phone when they came and didn’t get out to see the progress until after lunch.  Deena found the contractors to be hazardous to her “pack” (our family) so she made a point in barking at the men when I took her on her potty break.  The men were not afraid of her so I guess it was a fail on Deena’s part.  She sniffed around and watched them nervously, as she did not trust them around our house.

I was told that the project was almost complete and quickly texted Quentin to send him home.  Quentin got here an hour and 15 minutes later and had his moment to check the finished product.  We were all fascinated at the new smoothness that our foundation boasted.  We will need to replace the mulch, which we pushed away from the side of the house.  Other than that, I can’t wait till Spring so we can plant more bushes and finally get started on adding curb appeal to the side of the house!

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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Meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 lbs. ground meat
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce:

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 6 tbsps. sugar
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tsps. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together the meatball ingredients, and form into 1” balls. Place in a casserole dish. Mix together the sauce ingredients, and pour over the meatballs. Bake for 50 min.

Parmesan Baked Pork Chops

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  • pork chops
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 1 cup grated parm. cheese
  • 1 cup flavored bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together ingredients 3-6, and spread out onto a plate. Pour olive oil onto a plate as well. Cover a baking dish with nonstick aluminum foil, leaving extra to wrap over the pork chops. Dip both sides of the pork chops in olive oil and then the breaded mixture. Bake for 45 min.

Spaghetti Carbonara

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  • 1 pkg. (1 lb.) spaghetti, uncooked
  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut up
  • ½ cup Italian dressing
  • 3 tbsps. grated parm. cheese
  • Parsley, as desired

Cook spaghetti as directed. Meanwhile, cook bacon and onions in a lg. skillet until done. Add all remaining ingredients (except parsley), as well as the fully cooked and drained spaghetti. Stir until cream cheese is melted. Sprinkle w/ parsley.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

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  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 ¼ cups veg. oil
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet choc. chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat together all but the last ingredient. Stir in choc. chips. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 50 min. (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool for 10 min. before removing from pans.