Friday, March 29, 2013

Baby Food Friday: Carrots

In the past I have always sliced carrots in my food processor, steamed them, and then pureed them.  This time, I thought I'd try roasting them, just because roasted carrots are so much sweeter.  However, I generally roast them (for dinner) with olive oil and salt, and I want to keep the baby food plain.  I just roasted them outright, and though it was fine (I had to add about 1 cup of water to the puree process...) next time I would cover the pan with foil to keep in more of the moisture.  Here's what I did in painful more detail:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 and then peel about 1 1/2 pounds of carrots

aren't they so pretty?
 2) Cut off the ends
 3) Cut the fat ones in quarters the long ways, and skinnier ones in half.  Then cut each carrot into about 3-4 inch pieces.
 4) Put them on a foil lined & Pam sprayed pan or use your amazing Silpat and cover them with foil.
5) Bake them for 45 minutes to an hour (I did an hour) or until fork tender.  (and enjoy the smell in your house.)
6) Let them sit on the counter or in your food processor until you have time to deal with them
 7) Puree in food processor.  You may want to add some water.
 8) Spread in ice cube tray (12 exactly! wahoo!) and cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
9) When you get a second, some days later, pop into a labeled freezer bag for your future convenience.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chicken Family Names

We're thinking about buying some chickens.  Which means we have to seriously consider what we might name them.  Here are some results of some brainstorming.
McNugget (My favorite)
Eggbert or Eggward (Jay's favorite)
Malcom Eggs
Malcom McCluck
Clucky McFly
John Clucke
Cluck Stywalker
Egi Wan Kenobi
Jack Chicken
Cindy Cluckford
Egg Ryan

 Anyone else have an good ones?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thoughts on Toys

With another toy-getting holiday coming up this Sunday, I thought it might be useful to someone to describe a recent experiment Jay and I have been trying out.

When Hazel was born, I spent a lot of my time happily allowing the kids to play with whatever, whenever, so long as there was no fighting, and spent so much time nursing, that I really couldn't help them do much by way of mediating or enforcing the "clean this up before you get out something else" rule.

Poor Jay, tired of coming home to a disaster area, as usual, came up with a brilliant (though a bit drastic) solution.

Get rid of the toys.

Now, we didn't actually get rid of that many toys, BUT as far as the kids are concerned, we did.  We spent an evening going through every toy we have.  There were many clear ones that just do not get played with at all, and we took those to the DI.  (Deseret Industries... Similar to the Salvation Army or Good Will other places)

The rest, we decided each kid can have 5 toys.  Not to sound too stingy, all the Legos counts as 1 toy.  All the train stuff, 1 toy.  All the Little People Farm stuff, etc.

The results have been quite interesting.

1) The kids didn't seem too upset about this, as I thought.  They did ask why, and when we said, "We can see you are having a hard time cleaning up your toys, so we're trying to make it easier for you.  If you want something in the garage, just tell us what you want to trade for it".  And even The Frog was perfectly contented by that.  He can still play with anything, just he may have to ask for help getting it.

2) There are a LOT of toys in the past 4 months that we thought they liked, but have not been asked for.

3)  There is a LOT more imaginative play going on.  For example, the kids love to play "chef" and out of the blue (usually) Peach will say, "mom, what you want?"  meaning, what do I want to eat.  It's so funny to me because we inherited TONS of play food- fruits, vegetables, different kids of meats, bread, rolls, buns, cheese, condiments... the works!  And even if I order something that I know we have, I never get it, or even anything close to it.  When the play food was out of rotation, we would just get Legos to eat instead.  (they're always cupcakes :D)

4) Clean up is less of a battle because there is only so much mess that is possible to make.  When the family room floor is literally covered in toys, it looks completely overwhelming to not just me, but especially to the kids!  Now our clean-up discussion is more like this:
Me: "Okay, Frog, it's time to clean up."
The Frog: "Mom, I don't want to clean up."
Me: "I'll help you.  Would you rather do the little Legos or the big Legos?"
The Frog: "Okay, I'll do the little Legos."
Me: "Peach, would you rather do the big Legos, or the doll house?"

and that's all that is on the floor, really only 3 main categories.

The only flaw with this I can see is that you need a large amount of storage space, that the kids cannot get into by themselves.  Luckily, we only have one car and a two-car garage, so this is no problem for us.

Comments?  Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First Dentist Visit!

No.  I did not take my camera to the dentist office...  I did want to though... :)

We have tried taking The Frog to the dentist a couple other times, the first time only content to watch me get my teeth cleaned, the next time willing to let them look at his teeth with a mirror while I hold him standing up and this time, triumphantly, we got him to sit in the chair!  (even though he assured me before hand that he was NOT getting in that chair...)  They even got to polish a couple of his front teeth and put on a fluoride varnish.

Well, he came home with a new toothbrush, a cheap TOY, and a sticker!  Based on those three things alone, Peach was sure she was going to love going to the dentist.  She asked about it every day last week with great excitement.  So, when the big day finally arrived yesterday, she sat right in that chair, and let them count, clean, and varnish all her teeth!

I'm sure a past me would be surprised, but

I am so proud of my kids :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baby Food Friday: Sweet Potatoes

I poke each potato about 8 times

Sweet potatoes are soo delicious!  And they have lots of vitamins that are lacking in regular potatoes.  I found an AWESOME baby food website: Wholesome Baby Food that has a lot of information about all foods- what's good about them, whether it's worth it to buy organic or not, how to prepare them for baby food multiple ways...  If this at all tickles your fancy, you should for sure check it out.  Homemade Baby Food Recipes has a lot of additional things you can do with vegetables, besides straight purees.

Sweet Potato Baby Food:

1) Preheat oven to 400 F
2) Wash and poke holes in your sweet potatoes then wrap in foil.
3) Bake for about an hour, or until soft when you stick in a fork.
4) Let cool until you can handle them, or until you have time to deal with them.

5) Unwrap and cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the "meat" with a spoon and restrain yourself from eating it either puree in a food processor/blender, or mash with a potato masher in a bowl- I just used a masher.  I think one of the downfalls of store bought baby food is that it is too perfectly pureed and a lot of kids have a hard time adapting to things with other textures.  It's as important to introduce different flavors as it is to introduce texture too!
6) Spoon into ice cube trays, wrap with plastic and stick in the freezer until you have time to deal with them again.

7) Pop them out and put in a labeled freezer bag for your convenience.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day

So, I married into Irish blood (McCarthy, yeah?).  For some reason, now, I feel like St. Patrick's Day should be a bigger deal for our family.  SO, I tried really hard this year to pull off the traditional corned beef & cabbage thing, even though I've never had it in my life...  I also had this "brilliant" breakfast idea.  hahaha.  I think I was the only one who appreciated it.  Do you see the four-leaf clover fried egg?  and toast cut out to be a clover?  (thanks Jay for eating all the kids' crusts.  That would normally be my job, but I can no longer eat butter....) And a green fruit just to top it all off!
 And here's the corned beef & cabbage:
 I admit, I was pleasantly surprised.  For some reason, boiled cabbage sounds so lack-luster and deflated to me.  It's the kind of thing you read about in books that poor people are eating.  (isn't that what Charlie Bucket's family eats every night?)  But I was surprised by how vibrant and pretty the whole thing looked!
I also made "clover" rolls, just because that's how I roll. har har.

I told The Frog that when I was a kid, I tried to always wear underwear that had green on it for the special day, and he thought that was a great idea. :)

Hope you didn't get pinched!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sick, sick, sick!

Our family was SOOOOOO SICK last week!  Everyone, except me, came down with a horrid fever/cough/congestion.  I feel so blessed that I didn't get it, because though it took the kids about 3 or 4 days of fever, it knocked Jay out with 7 days of a fever!!  Little Hazel had one for about 5 days.  Luckily, we are all on our way back up.  Hazel still is coughing quite a bit, and has a hoarse voice (it's the cutest thing ever...) but hurray!  

So I'm a bit behind and have nothing much to say this week except: wash your hands.  don't touch your face unless you just washed your hands.  don't share food with anyone.
PS Hazel has been using the excersaucer for a couple of weeks now.  She's the first baby who could really use it extensively... The Frog hated it, Peach would get attacked by The Frog when she got in it.  Isn't she adorable?

PSS I got my hair done yesterday- first time since Hazel was born.  I feel so fresh and new.  like spring!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Babyfood Friday: Bell Peppers

I make my own baby food.  I know a lot of people freak out when I say that, like I'm some super-star mom and how-can-you-have-time-for-that?  So, I thought, some of my friends out there might like to see how easy and not time intensive it is.  

What I typically do, is starting at about 4 months old, I start looking for super sales on vegetables, and then buy a bunch and make one batch of baby food every week.  Then by the time they are 6 months, I have a stash of 8 or so different things to pick from, (plus the stand-by rice cereal, mashed banana, and mashed avocado) and by the time I run out of them, they're old enough to eat "real food".

In fact, with Peach, we had a bunch of baby food left over, so I just threw it in spaghetti or macaroni and cheese for a little extra veggie power and nobody could even tell the difference.

Would you throw extra store-bought baby food into your dinner?  

I wouldn't.  That stuff is creepy.

Which begs the question...  if I wouldn't eat it, how can I expect my baby to?

Not only is it not painful at all, but it is SOOO much cheaper and tastes SOOOO much better than the stuff in a jar.  Have you ever compared the color of Gerber peas to frozen, microwaved and pureed ones?  They don't even look like they could have possibly come from the same plant.  Gerber peas look creepy and old and brown.  Frozen peas turn into a bright, fun, party green.  Are you going to feed your kids party peas or poop peas...  I wonder why kids don't want to eat them...

I know all kids are different, and I'm starting to notice The Frog and Peach snub their nose at new things I cook up for dinner, BUT they both eat their vegetables and I've never had problems getting to do so.  My untested hypothesis is that this is largely because 1)My husband and I eat our vegetables like it's no big deal.  They don't have any picky examples to look up to and 2) cooking my own baby food gives them a more pleasant first experience with vegetables.  

These past few weeks (including now!) Sprouts (used to be Sunflower market) is selling red bell peppers for 3/$1.  That is our first winner!  So this batch of baby food costs $1.33 and ended up making 11 servings.  I can't find any red bell pepper baby food to buy anywhere online (look what else!  if you make your own, you can expand your baby's palate!) but I found 8 servings of apple banana baby food at walmart for $3.92.  

Homemade - $1.33/11 = $0.12 per 1 oz. serving
Store bought - $3.92/8 = $0.49 per serving

and funny because bell peppers are much more expensive (typically) than apples and bananas.

Ok, ok... there is something to be said for convenience.  I agree.  But I think when you see how easy this is, AND the fact that I'm doing it ahead means the pressure is off to get it ready before lunch, it's a really easy, chill thing to get done.  And it happens in several quick steps, so it's the perfect project to take on when you have a baby, since you usually don't get long chunks of time to get things done.

Homemade Roasted Red Bell Pepper Baby Food.
1) Preheat oven to 500 degree.

2) Wash bell peppers.  Place on foil-lined or Silpat-lined jellyroll pan.
3) Bake in oven 30-40 minutes, or until blackened and shriveling.  (I did 40 minutes)  Your house will smell gooooood.
4) Cover with foil and let cool off until cold enough to handle. (or in my case, several hours until my kids were in the tub)
They should look all sad and puddley now.
ok, so far, each step has independently taken less than 1 minute.  This next step is the most painful, in that it might take you 6 minutes.  (I guess it depends on how many peppers you roasted)
5) Skin and deseed the peppers, and put the goods in your blender/food processor.  (I *heart* my CuisinArt 3-cup food processor)

I don't even use a knife for this step...  I just roll up my sleeves, hold the pepper upside-down, and pull the stem.  It will just slide right off and most of the seeds with it.  Then, just start pulling the skin off... it comes fairly easily, if you baked them long enough.
The goods
If you used foil, now just chuck that whole mess in the garbage.  If your me, you will now have to clean your Silpat.
The leftovers
6) Mixy mix until smooth.
So, I happened upon these silicone ice cube trays at T.J.Maxx (I almost always leave that store with something I never knew I needed...) because I had no ice cube trays in grad school, and I am often attracted to green.  Anyway...
7) Pour into ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and pop in the freezer until you have a moment to pop them out and stick them in a labeled freezer bag.

Now, when you need to feed your babe, you can pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  PS. I ALWAYS taste it first to make sure it's not too hot.  (and i would never do that with store-bought baby food.  have I mentioned it creeps me out...)


*update: the Walmart baby food ones are 3.5 oz per serving, which is WAY too much for a baby learning to eat, but maybe a good amount for older kids (except, I don't give older kids babyfood... it's easier to just give them what everyone else is eating!)  But, in fairness, this would make theirs only .14 per oz.  However, we're comparing bell peppers (expensive) to apples and bananas (inexpensive), and mine is still cheaper...

But really, even if it weren't cheaper, it would still be worth it to me to know my baby is getting fresh food with minimal processing.

so there.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kid Conversation

This morning while I was eating my breakfast, Peach came and lay down on the bench with her head in my lap.  I smelled something...

Me: Peach, do you need a diaper change?
Peach: No.
Me: You like sitting around in your poop?
Peach: I'm not sitting, I'm laying.

looks like we're raising pedantic jerks.  I wonder where they got that from...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kid Conversation

The Frog: Mom, can I have a treat?
Me: No.
The Frog: Why not?
Me: Because you didn't eat your dinner.
Peach: Mom, can I have a treat?
Me: No!  Neither one of you ate your dinners, I did.  [trying to get a rise out of them] Maybe I should get three treats, since I ate three dinners...
Peach: yeeeeaaaaah.  Let's split it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kid Conversation

Peach, Hazel and I had just gone to Zurchers and we were going back to the car- me carrying the carseat, and Peach was walking by herself (she never lets me hold her hand anymore :( ).  After I unlocked the door and was putting Hazel in, Peach ran to the front of the car to a patch of grass.  Just beyond that was a sidewalk and a busy road.  I got really nervous she was going to do something stupid and coaxed her back to the car.

Our conversation in the car:
Me: I was really scared, Peach.  I thought you might run out into the busy road!  That is very dangerous!  Cars can't see you and you would get hurt!
Peach:  But mom!  I like being busy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Recipe FAIL- Dr. Seuss Disaster Cake

Last Saturday was Dr. Seuss's birthday, and I thought it would be fun to make a crazy cake to celebrate.  (plus, I've been having cake withdrawals since I went off dairy and I wanted to try making dairy free frosting...)

Turns out, some brands and flavors of boxed cake mixes are dairy free, so I thought I'd just use one of those, and focus my experimental energy on the frosting.  I used a Western Family yellow cake mix, and after mixing it all together, separated it into 3 bowls and dyed one reddish-orange, dyed one green, and one blue (leaving the original yellow color in the mixing bowl).  Then I poured the yellow and red into one 6" cake pan, and the blue and green into the other.  I thought using 6" cake pan would make it extra tall and funny-looking... kinda Dr. Seussy, right?

Le Sigh.

I guess I didn't Pam & flour my pans well enough because neither one came out very cleanly, and almost ALL of the yellow part of the yellow/red cake got stuck in.  Oh well, I thought.  Nothing a little frosting couldn't fix, right?

On to the frosting...  I should preface this with the fact that I never use a recipe when I make butter cream frosting... Just a stick of butter, at room temp, a smidge of milk, a tich of vanilla, and add powdered sugar until the consistency is good.  easy peasy.  So I thought I'd do the same, but sub all the dairy ingredients for non-dairy ones.

Long story short, I used a combination of coconut cream and Earth Balance Soy Spread, instead of butter (but the soy spread was not at room temp...) and I think I accidentally added too much coconut milk.  I could NOT get the frosting to have a thick enough consistency and had to add way too much powdered sugar.  The frosting tasted almost like pure sugar and so I stopped.

I started frosting the cake (which was ever so slightly still warm. BIG mistake) and it soon became obvious that the cake with a large chunk missing from its bottom was not going to stay put!  The frosting acted like more of a lubricant and the two layers were just sliding all over the place.  I decided to stick some BBQ skewers into the two layers to hold them in place, and put the cake in the cold garage to set-up before I finished frosting it.  Next time I went to check on the cake, it looked like this.
 Oh well.  I tried to cut up a piece as nice as I could so I could get a feel for what it WOULD have looked like had I not been so impatient and used a recipe for frosting.
It did taste ok, but the frosting was too sweet for Jay and I.  I have never failed so miserably on a cake before.  (except maybe that time I tried angel food cake 3 times and it fell apart while cooling all. 3. times.)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Emergency Preparedness Month-Coming to a Close, for now...

I have several more ideas for things I could post about- beans, cleaning products with food storage, all about pressure cooking, more on 96-hour kits, dehydrating, alternative methods for cooking...  but I'm tired of this, for now...  Perhaps I'll revisit in a few months or a year.  Hopefully, someone, somewhere will find something useful.  I wanted a place for myself to brain-dump some of the things I've learned over the past few months so I could remember and reference later.

Have something you want me to experiment with?  Do tell!  I loveth a good experiment...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our Life Lately

I started this post at about mid-January and never got around to adding text.  Hazel already looks so much older than the first 2 pics of her!! It is sooo sad :(
Peach sporting a green smoothie mustache

Hazel hanging out in her bouncer before church

look at those flailing legs!

Hazel is big enough for the bumbo!

Kind of potty-training Peach.  She took herself to the toilet w/out prompting for the first time last week!  Don't think that means it's a regular thing though...

wish I could get them to both look at the same time

Hazel can push up sooo much better now.  I need to get a new pic!

Hands down the favorite toy.  The Frog and Peach are always building super-cool stuff.

Hazel can roll tummy to back now!

Peach wanted to show she can roll too :)

Hazel often sits on the dinner table while we eat in front of her.  She makes due and munches her hands.
Phone pic- The Frog loves Hazel to lie down next to him while I sing his bedtime songs.
 This next one requires a bit more than a caption.  I recently had to instate a "no getting on mom & dad's bed when it's made" rule because I was so tired of making my by several times during the day- the kids like hiding in the pillows or worse- dumping covers and pillows on the floor to jump in.  It used to be cute, (ok it still is) but I really hate remaking the bed.
Daphne goes to bed for the night in her own bassinet, but she sleeps with me after she wakes up to eat around midnight or 1am and stays there until she wakes for the day- usually around 8am.  Since I can't make the bed with her in it, the older kids LOVE to run up with me and climb into bed with her and pretend to sleep.
 Getting Hazel out of my bed in the morning is one of my favorite tasks because she never cries.  You have to listen very carefully on the monitor for some kind of motion and when you go in and find her munching on her hands, she looks at you with the biggest, cutest grin ever, like she knows she's just been caught being silly.  It just makes me want to squish her and munch on her cheeks!!  What a cutie!!
The sun has finally been coming out.  It was so warm the other day, we decided to sneak off to the elementary school after dinner.  Hazel got to try out the slide for the first time.  I don't think she even noticed :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Emergency Preparedness Month- Emergency Ration Bar Tasting

I bought little 72-hour kit starters from Emergency Essentials when Jay and I first moved here.  (I was still pregnant with The Frog, even) And they came with these Emergency food rations.  They're really a great idea- very compact, and just minimal calories, for an emergency, if you have to grab your kits and take off and you just don't want to worry about starving.  (There are 9 bars- breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 3 days.  Each bar has 400 calories.)
 When I went through our kits last fall to update the clothing for the kids, I happened to notice that these were set to expire this month (March 2013).  So, I put it in my calendar for us to, YES, try eating them in February, just to see how they were!  If I weren't nursing, I would have tried to live off it for 3 days, just to see... but I'm a bit sensitive about doing that for the babe.  I'm always worried my kids aren't getting enough since they're all so skinny.  Anyway, so instead of living off it for 3 days, I decided to serve it up for dinner.

my poor family puts up with me so well.
 Looks pretty good right?  Like a big butter cookie.
It's not.
I must say it wasn't terrible.  It had a strange lemony flavor about it.
 Our kits had these waters in them too, which also expire, so I thought, "what the heck?"
 Peach was the first to try the emergency ration.  After taking this bite, I asked her what she thought of it and she said, "good."  But then she didn't eat any more after that.
 It could be because she was too enthralled by drinking her water out of this box (and later squirting it all over the table.)  My poor kids are neglected and don't get juice boxes or capri suns at our house.  (Kids should eat their fruit, not drink it!  Don't deprive them of some good fiber!  Don't get me started talking about fiber...)
 Yes, the water boxes were the highlight of the evening...

I think The Frog actually liked his bar.  He almost ate the whole thing!  Jay was a good sport and ate what I served him (like he always does.  Thank you honey!  I think you are a big reason why our kids are not picky eaters...) but I had a hard time choking it down.  There was something about its flavor that reminded me of conversation hearts.  And those are gross!  (except the minty white ones :D)  My first few bites were hard to get down, but then I started getting used to it and it was tolerable.  But then I took a break to clean up the water mess Peach made, and when I started up eating it again, it was gross again and I had to re-get used to it.  It was weird.  I'm sure if I was starving, though, I wouldn't be too picky.  I think I may buy a different brand to have on hand for the next 5 years, just to compare.

We still have one unopened bar, so if anyone in the neighborhood would like it to try, let me know, you can have it :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kid Conversation

I have SUCH a hard time getting my kids to just sit while they eat.  They are constantly getting up and down off their chair and getting water from the fridge, or picking up something they dropped, or getting a toy (even though toys are not allowed at the table...) The kids know I know they know I want them to stay in their seats until they're done.  There is always some kind of excuse.  They area learning that excuses involving things I love, may give them a better chance of getting away with things:

Me: Peach, are you all done eating?  Is that why you're not on your chair?
Peach: Oh, I just needed to do my ballery.  (She quickly puts her hands over her head in some kind of mock ballet-pose.)

oh really?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Emergency Preparedness Month- Wheat Berries

Isn't there something we can do without having to grind or crack our wheat berries?

There is!  You can cook them and eat them plain.  They have a nice chewy texture, they just require some planning ahead.

There are many ways to cook wheat berries, but generally you want to soak them over night, then cook them in 2.5 times the water.  Note that 1 c of berries will expand to about double after soaking. So 1 c berries dry = 2 c soaked, gets cooked in 2.5 c water.

The Stovetop method:
I soaked 1 c wheat berries overnight.
I drained and then brought 2.5 c water to boil in a small saucepan, added the soaked berries and let them simmer for 1 hour.

The Crockpot method:
I soaked 1 c wheat berries overnight.
I drained and then put them in my crockpot with
2 1/2 cups water
2 t bouillon (optional)
I cooked them on low for 8 hours (though the seemed done after 7)
Note: you could soak these in the morning and then cook overnight and have hot wheat berries when you wake up!

The Pressure Cooker method: (always reference you pressure cooker manual before cooking anything new for the first time)
This is the fastest method, for sure.

Rinse and soak 1 c wheat berries in cold water overnight.
Drain and rinse again.
Put 2 C water and soaked berries in your pressure cooker.
Put on the lid and turn your stove to high.
Once the little thingy on top starts wiggling (you know what I mean...), turn down your stove (I put mine on a 3) to maintain a gentle flow of steam and a gentle rocking.  You may have to experiment with your stove to figure out what setting achieves this.
Set the timer for 20 minutes.

The Rice Cooker method:

Rinse and soak 1 c wheat berries in cold water over night.
Drain and rinse again.
Put in rice cooker with 2 1/2 c water (if you want bouillon or herbs or spices, now is the time to add them.)
It took my dinky rice cooker about  30-40 minutes. (not sure exactly because I don't keep tabs on it when it's doing its magic.  Isn't that the whole point of a rice cooker?)

Note: When I did this, it seemed to really sputter and foam up a lot.  It might be a good idea to add a bit of oil or butter to cut down on this happening.

The Microwave method:

Rinse and soak 1 c wheat berries in cold water over night.
Drain and rinse again.

Put in a container much larger than your berries (because it will foam up) with 2 c water.  Microwave for 25 minutes and test.  I ended up adding microwaving mine for 40 minutes.

The Sprouting method:

Put your berries in a large mason jar with cheesecloth covering the top and secured with a rubber band.
Rinse and drain them (get as much water out as you can) about every 8 hours.  I usually just set it by my kitchen sink and I do it after breakfast and dinner dishes, while I'm there.
You should start seeing sprouts after a day or two.
You can use them right away, or keep letting them grow, depending on when you need them.
Sprouts have a really pleasant subtle, sweetness about them!

The Lazy Sprouting method:
I may, or may not have discovered this method accidentally...  This method with less rinsing does tend to give them a slightly bitter taste, compared to how sweet they are with the first sprouting method.

Soak wheat berries over night.
Put soaked berries in the fridge in tupperware.
Pull them out a week later and they've sprouted!

The Cute method:
Well, I think they're cute...
Just lay out a bunch of wheat berries in some soil and lightly water them so that they stay damp.  If they get dried out, it's ok, but it will just take longer for them to grow.  They should be in a window that gets some sun.  After 1-2 weeks, depending on your watering diligence (don't drown them though!) You will have a cute pot of wheat grass!  I always grow a pot for Easter every year.  You can cut and eat the grass and keep watering it and it will just keep on growing!  Once the grass comes out, you will be amazed at how fast it grows, seriously.

Ok.  I've got my prepared wheat berries... now what?

Ground meat extender:
I tried adding them to our spaghetti sauce, like a fake ground beef.
not the most appetizing picture... sorry
It definitely didn't fool anyone into thinking it was ground beef, but it neither added nor took away from the meal. I could see myself cooking up a batch at the beginning of the week and adding it to actual ground beef to make the beef go further.  Let's face it- meat is the most expensive thing I buy for my family to eat!  If you buy a good cut of meat, it would for sure be cheaper to get a Hot 'n Ready at Little Caesar's instead...

I would like to try throwing them in with tacos and meatloaf/hamburgers and see what happens.

Rice extender/replacement
Throw it in with your stir-fry.  Blends in much better with brown rice than white.  I subbed it for the rice in this stuffed bell pepper recipe and nobody in my family even noticed!  (but I didn't cook it how they tell you to cook the rice... obviously)

Soups and Stews
Use it the same way you might throw barley, rice, or something similar into a soup, stew or chili (It should be cooked  first though).  I've also read when blended it adds more body to a pureed soup.

Yep!  You can bake bread with cooked or sprouted wheat berries if you like a bit more heartiness to your bread.  I'm curious about this recipe that uses only sprouted wheat- no flour.  I'd like to experiment more with this and see if you can just swap out some of the flour for berries...

Here is a recipe from Everyday Food Storage, with apples and cashews that sounds good.

And another from the foodnetwork with celery, walnuts and dried cherries.

Here's another one from The Meal Makeover Moms (whose recipes I have tried over and over again with great results) that I also haven't tried, but looks so fresh and springy!

I'd probably only put sprouts or wheat grass on a sandwich, but if you wanna make up some wheat berry/mayo concoction, do your worst!  (and then tell me about it!)

What can't you hide in a smoothie?  Honestly...

You can eat wheat berries straight up with some honey and raisins, or yogurt, maple syrup and pecans... whatever you'd normally do with oatmeal and have a hearty breakfast.
Also, my neighbor says she cuts up sprouts onto her kids cold cereal in the morning.  Suuuuure. I suppose if you start them young enough, they won't even bat an eyelash.

Why are we doing this again?
Because wheat berries last a really, really, really, really long time (30+ years) when stored properly, so it's the kind of thing if you see a sale, you can buy a lot and not worry about it going bad.  However, what's the point in storing wheat berries if you have no idea what to do with them?  They're also super healthy in their whole form and full of fiber.

aaaaaand it's fun, right?