Friday, October 30, 2015

Making Mama's Kitchen with a 3.5 and 1.5 year old

Every couple years, it seems like I'm struck with the realization that my kitchen is once again changing.  Not just the physicality of it, like new appliances, new flooring, or in this case, new house, but also the feeling of it.  When I first revamped my blog from "Ashley's Kitchen" to "Making Mama's Kitchen," Annalyn was only about 5 months old and I was astounded at how our kitchen had been taken over by bottles, drying racks, and baby bathtubs.  I could see that my kitchen would never be "mine" again. (post)

As Annalyn got older, she hit the I-want-to-help-with-everything stage and learned how to push the kitchen chairs up to our island to help me cook.  I embraced the change, and learned valuable lessons like, don't fill the mixer bowl and plug it in without checking first to see if she's pulled the knob all the way to high (see post here).  My mother-in-law made us matching aprons and we even used a sweet baking photoshoot to announce that I was pregnant with Emma.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Our little Emma, you are talking up a storm lately!  Honestly, from the moment you wake up yelling "Mom-meeee, Dad-deeee! Up, up, UUUUPP!" you are a little chatterbox.  Your doctor asked me how many words you were saying at your last appointment and I couldn't even put a number to it.  Um, anything and everything?  You repeat, you demand, you mimic, you even put together little sentences.  It's crazy.  I wrote a post a month or so ago on my current favorite word, "too", but I felt the need to write a follow up now that I have a new one.  Though "too" is still as precious as ever, I must say that "much" has taken its top spot.

You see, your current bedtime routine goes something like this (when you're not trying to get 5 teeth at a time and a little possessed, of course):

1 - brush teeth with Sissy (another contender for favorite word - "Sis-see")
2 - put on pajamas and/or nighttime diaper and sleep sack (Daddy does this one a lot because to this day, you fight me like crazy when I change you.  By the end of the night, my hands usually can't keep up, especially on work days.)
3 - kiss Daddy and Annalyn goodnight
4 - grab blankie and baby, read books with Mama in the rocker.  You are very specific about which book and the order, though it isn't always constant (makes it very difficult!).  Lately, you are obsessed with the Duck & Goose books.
5 - after reading 3-5 books, you get to flip the light switch, then we sit back in the rocker to snuggle and sing "twinkle" and "pur-pur" (which you always demand, oftentimes switching midsong) aka Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Soft Kitty from Big Bang Theory that is your favorite thanks to Anna singing it to you any time you're upset since birth.
6 - once you've had enough of my singing, you look up, say "tiss" (kiss), plant one on me, then proclaim "ni-night, ni-night" in your all-business tone.  I stand up and squeeze as I tell you goodnight and "I love you sooooo much!"  This usually elicits a giggle and the single cutest word in your ever-growing vocabulary:  "MUCH."

I'm not really sure why "much" is the word you chose to start repeating, but it melts my heart.  At first it was unique to Mama, but now you'll say it to Daddy, too.

Needless to say, we love you so MUCH.



Friday, October 16, 2015

Russian Black Bread Crackers

Here was the train of thought that lead me to this recipe:

"I wonder how hard it is to make homemade crackers... It can't be that hard, right?"<looks up several recipes for crackers>

"This doesn't look so hard, I'm going to try it... I HAVE to try this."

<random thought creeps in> "I bet I could make a cracker out of Grandpa's Russian black bread recipe... Rye, molasses, coffee, chocolate..." (recipe)

"And what to put on top of the cracker? Well, Grandpa always liked cream cheese on the bread, so that would be good... Or butter, you can't go wrong with butter. But not stick butter, the soft whipped kind..."

"Ah-hah! I'll make my own butter! Fresh  soft butter, that will do it justice!" <see how to make butter post here>

And without further random thoughts, here's how Mama makes Russian black bread crackers:

Russian black bread crackers 

Yield:  about 3 dozen crackers
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 c. Rye flour
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 t. Salt (if using unsalted butter)
- 1 t. Sugar
- 1 T. Instant coffee
- 1 t. Crushed fennel
- 2 t. Cocoa powder
- 3 T. Molasses

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How to Make Butter

Until I had done it myself, I would have never imagined how easy it is to make your own butter.  All you need is some heavy cream, a little salt, and a mixer and in a matter of minutes, you have fresh homemade butter.  From there, you can obviously add things like honey/cinnamon, garlic/herbs, etc. to make flavored butter spreads.  For today, we stuck to the basic, lightly salted butter.  It was a great learning opportunity for Annalyn - we talked about what goes in the bowl (cream, salt), where cream comes from, what we do to the cream to make it into butter, and what we call the liquid that comes off when the butter forms (buttermilk - pancakes, anyone?).  Emma liked to be picked up to see each step, too, but her favorite part was definitely sampling the end product on saltine crackers (and later our homemade crackers.)  Here's how Mama makes fresh, creamy, 2-ingredient butter:

Homemade Butter

- 2 c. heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 t. salt (optional)

yields:  1 c. butter plus 1 c. buttermilk

Friday, October 9, 2015

Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Here's a fun fall twist on one of my favorite family recipes, my mom's coffee cake.  The way I see it, you can never go wrong with adding apples to any baked good during the fall and winter months. I made this one in honor of the apple trees Michael planted for me as a birthday gift. Starting a home orchard has been a dream of mine for awhile now and I can't wait to use our own apples for fall baking here in a few years! But for now, here's how Mama makes apple cider coffee cake:

Apple Cider Coffee Cake

- 1 c. sugar
- 5 T. shortening
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c. apple cider
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 t. baking powder
for the topping:
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1 T. flour
- 2 T. cold butter
- 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
 (I actually made 1 and 1/2 times this recipe in a 9x13" pan since my whole family was visiting)