Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Show and Tell

Anna brought this for show and tell. The letter of the week was C, so she brought a collage. She cut out pictures from a Farm Sanctuary magazine, arranged them and glued them to paper. All by herself (with some help).

As always, click on the photo to see it larger.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Halloween That Was

Well, it's the middle of November. I've failed miserably at VeganMoFo, my son is sick with the pukes and I have a folder on my desktop titled "Halloween" that's been staring me in the face for a while now. 

I'm officially bowing out of VeganMoFo. It was fun while it lasted, but it didn't last long enough. Maybe next year I'll go back to a more traditional food-based theme. 

So, here are some photos from Halloween. Get comfortable. There's a lot. 

Vegkins had a Halloween potluck party the weekend before Halloween. I didn't have much time to take photos, so here are the two that I got of Liam in his bee costume: 


And this is the only one I got of Anna in her duck costume. The thing on her back is the duck head that she wears like a hood. You'll just have to trust me that it was cute.

We went to North Dakota for Halloween to celebrate my eldest brother's 40th birthday. It was a surprise party, Star Wars themed.

Here's my family. Leia and 3PO made some cute kids, huh?

My costume was ... um ... a little tight.

And the kids when wild.

Cousin Joe rocked the lightsaber.

Cousin Zach rocked the blaster.

Cousin Ella rocked the hair and the lightsaber.

There was a time, not too long ago, that the blasters and light sabers would have bothered me. But I'm fine with it now, and I actually see it as a potentially positive outlet and exploration. Which reminds me, I need to finish reading Killing Monsters and then write a review of it. 

Zach and his dad, Jango Fett.

My sister-in-law is nothing if not creative. Check out the ice in this punch bowl.

Cousin Henry was one of three Yodas.

My brother Mike won the award for most creative costume.

And his daughter Kate (the newest addition to our ever-growing brood), won the award for cutest. There's a cat in Star Wars, right?

Henry regards Kate.

Henry kisses Kate.


Ella tickles Anna.

That night, the brothers rented some ice time and played hockey. We're not a big hockey-playing family. Our school was too small to have a hockey team. But we all enjoyed skating growing up, and tried to play hockey on the small slab of ice the volunteer fire department would make beside the firehouse.

Anyway, it was fun and exhausting and now I sort of want to start playing hockey for fun again.

The next day (which was Halloween), we drove back to St. Paul, but made an extended stop at cousin Zach's to go trick-or-treating. This was in Buffalo, which is about an hour north of St. Paul.

You may or may not remember back in September when I posted photos of some pumpkins in my dad's garden. He carved the kids' names into them with a nail. This is what they ended up looking like. Pretty cool. 

Liam really got into trick-or-treating. We pulled him around in a wagon and he wanted to get out for each house. It was really fun.

In case you're wondering, the kids traded candy at the end of the night. Anna and Liam gave all of their non-vegan stuff to cousin Zach and Zach gave most of his vegan stuff to Anna and Liam.

Anna still doesn't really seem to care about not having non-vegan stuff (and she's not one to keep her feelings hidden, so if she cared, we would know about it). I keep waiting for that to change, but maybe it won't. We talk every once in a while about why we don't eat non-vegan food, and who knows, maybe she actually understands and genuinely doesn't want to eat it.

This is what our pumpkin looked like when we got back home (the one in the middle has a hole in it, created by an industrious squirrel, I think). It was a wet and warm week in the lead-up to Halloween. Now it's freezing and there's snow on the ground. What a difference a few weeks make.

And just the for hell of it, here are more photos of Liam in his R2-D2 costume.

You can see his fake smile in these first two.

I don't think I'll be posting anything else before Thanksgiving, so have a happy one! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 11 - Oatmeal and Applesauce

Most of these songs I'm posting on here were recorded when Anna was a baby/toddler. She loved oatmeal and applesauce, so of course I sang songs about it.

Liam liked/likes things too, but I don't sing as much as I used to. It might have something to do with having less time. Or maybe he doesn't react to them in the same positive way Anna used to. Or maybe I've just died a bit inside after having a second kid? Who knows?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 9 - Potato Masher

The kids especially liked this one.

But it hurts my throat to sing it, so they don't get to hear it much.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 7 - Mashed Potatoes

Here's Anna singing a song about mashed potatoes a year and a month ago.

Here friend Ella was over. She did not want to sing along.

I'm actually making mashed potatoes today. I don't have a recipe to give, but I can say that the ingredients I find really make mashed potatoes are green onions, garlic salt and cream cheese. A friend of mine tipped me off to cream cheese in mashed potatoes last year and holy crap is it good. I use this stuff.

He also suggested I use a hand blender to fluff them up. It works brilliantly.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 4 - Apple Butter (Song and Recipe)

Oh, apple butter. 

Nothing says autumn quite like it. I usually make enough in the fall to at least get me to the first big snowfall. This year I made a double batch, 11 pounds' worth of apples, which should get me there even though I've given quite a bit of it away. 

I don't usually make conscious efforts when choosing the style my songs will be in (in fact, my song "writing" process is pretty much unconscious from start to finish), but I'd like to think that subconsciously I sang this song in a monotonous tone in order to signify winter's slowly yet steadily approaching march. 

It just gets colder and colder here and we all sit around waiting for the snow, wondering how we're going to deal with it when it gets here. And then all of a sudden, plop, down drops a few inches and it seems to only take one time leaving the house to get used to the new snow-covered reality. 

Anyway, apple butter: 

Here's the recipe my mom gave me a few years ago. My mom prefers to cut back on the spices so she can taste the apples more, but I really like that cinnamony clovey taste, so I put in the full amount. 

All Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds apples, peeled and finely chopped (no bigger than one inch)
4 cups sugar (or a cup less, if you want)
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or less if you want)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves (or 1/8 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. salt

-Place chopped apples in crock pot.
-Combine sugar, cinnamon, 
cloves and salt; pour over apples and mix well. 
-Cover and cook on high for 1 hour.
-Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 9-11 hours or until thickened and dark brown, stirring occasionally (stir more frequently as it thickens to prevent sticking)
-Uncover and cook on low 1 hour longer. If desired stir with a wire whisk until smooth.
-Spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
-Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Yield: 4 pints.

This freezes and thaws really nicely, so don't worry about making too much. 

This year, I used an immersion blender. It really smoothed out everything, which actually was a bit of a drawback for me. I don't like my apple butter to be chunky, but I do like it to have a bit of texture. I think next year I'll stick with just letting the apples dissolve, helping them along with a whisk. 

Oh, and I use Haralson's because those are the apples that, until this year, my dad grew in his yard. He used to have five trees, I think. The last one had to be chopped down last fall (or was it this spring?), so this is the first year I've had to buy the apples I make apple butter with. The money doesn't bother me, I just liked the idea of using apples from the trees I grew up with. 

I suppose this is just a small reminder that I'm actually aging. Outliving the trees from my youth and all...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 3 - Mommy Didn't Clean the Bib

Here's another song from when Anna was a baby/toddler. There would be times when I'd have her all ready to eat and I'd reach for her bib and it would be dirty (we had one really good bib, and a bunch of crappy ones). Sometimes, it was Jen's fault that the bib was dirty.

The song that follows is what went through my head whenever I saw that dirty bib. In a way, I'm making fun of myself here.

So yeah. I'd see that bib and the first place my mind went was some sort of melodramatic, tragic Meatloaf song or something. Which is ridiculous, right? I mean, it was just a dirty bib.

But I love the kitchen. And I like things to be the way I want them to be. But reality is, and a dirty bib isn't the end of the world.

I need to constantly remind myself that the little annoyances in my life aren't really worth getting worked up over. A messy eater? Big deal. Some playdough got worked into the carpet? That happens. The garlic press wasn't soaked immediately after use? Meh.

These things aren't really worth the seconds that I spend worrying about them. Especially when there are more pressing matters for me to get worked up about (like racism, sexism, speciesism and the downward spiral of my nation's political landscape ... just to name a few).

That's not to say that we shouldn't look for ways to make our everyday lives run more smoothly (for example, labeling your spice jars so you don't have to smell them to see what they are ... which reminds me that I should do one or two Obvious Kitchen Tips this MoFo). I'm all for working smarter, not harder.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't sweat the small stuff. It's not all small stuff. But some of it is. So ... try not to sweat it.

Side note: I want to make sure everyone knows that I don't think these songs are actually good. I don't even like most of the styles of music I'm singing in. They're just stupid little songs that I sing to make my kids laugh. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 2 - Avocado

Avocados were a staple of Anna's diet when she started to wean. She loooooved them. So much so, that I wrote this little ditty. Then I added some Garage Band music which I played with the keyboard (the computer keyboard, that is). I don't really know how to play music, so it was all done by ear, which took some doing.

Anyway, most of the songs I post this month won't have instrumental accompaniment, so don't worry.

Liam doesn't eat as much avocado as Anna did when she was his age. Which is sort of a bummer. But he does eat tomato sauce and Anna never did (and rarely does now). So that's nice.

Monday, November 1, 2010

VeganMoFo Day 1 - Waffles for Everyone

VeganMoFo is here!

VeganMoFo is a month-long on-line festival of food where participants from around the world blog about food at least five times a week for a whole month. 

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that posting five times a week is not my forte. So we'll see how it goes this year. 

I had this idea a couple years ago (which was the last time I did VeganMoFo) that I would record a song for each day of VeganMoFo and post it on the blog.

Being a stay-at-home dad, it seems like I spend at least half of my day in the kitchen making food for the kids, or thinking about food for the kids or cleaning up food from the kids. And in order to break up the monotony, keep my sanity and entertain the kids, I often make up little songs about the food I'm making, or the utensil I use while making it (I have this great ditty about a potato masher that you'll hear at some point this month).

So here it goes. Day 1. Song 1. This is the first song I ever recorded on my MacBook when Anna was a year old or so. I originally titled it Waffles, but have since decided to call it Waffles for Everyone. Has a better ring to it. 

I tried to go for an Elvis Costello feel for this one, in case you can't tell. Oh, and Anna was sitting on my lap when I recorded it. She sang along. 

So yes. Prepare for a month of ridiculousness courtesy of These Little Piggies Had Tofu.