Friday, June 28, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles- Chicken Maryland with Rice

This recipe for Chicken Maryland.  Here's the summary:

Cooked 1 hr- rice on bottom, chicken uncovered on top.
The chicken came out:
Not crispy
Not browned
But very juicey!

Bacon not done

Rice mostly worked, a few crunchy bites- not sure if from the outside or what?  Next time I'll taste w/out stirring up first to see if it's clear which part didn't cook well.

 I brought it in and stuck it under the broiler for 5 minutes and it looked more like it should.  I guess the pans are broiler safe! :)


If we had to eat like this with no power, I wouldn't complain :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Super Naked-Boy, to the Rescue!

Jay might be mad at me for this post... he hates it when I take pictures of our kids naked, but this was too funny, I just couldn't resist.  (I did blur out the offending bits... :D)

I'm pretty sure The Frog was on some kind of mission, because he was running and beat-boxing his theme-song.  

Plus he had all the essential gear: goggles, "sword", boots...

funny mouth = beat-boxing
just no clothes...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles- Lemon Bars

So, I tried to make lemon bars in the sun oven.  And I kind of did...

You're supposed to bake the crust first.  Once it is nicely browned (30 minutes) add the filling and bake for 30 more minutes until it's setup.  THe only problem is not everything browns in the sunoven (usually it needs to be in there a long time)  I thought the crust looked done but when I poured in the lemon filling, it was clear that it wasn't.  The lemon in the spot where I poured it, broke the crust apart and went underneath.  So the lemon bars ended up with crust on top in some places, and crust on bottom in others.

interesting.

They tasted ok though, just looked weird.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kid Conversation

The Frog was trying to get me to print a coloring page off the internet and I didn't want to because he has 4 coloring books that have tons of uncolored pictures in them

The Frog: "Mom, just do it!  That's what moms do!  Whatever their kids want, they do it.  So just do it!"

I guess I fell asleep during mom school that day...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles: A Few Fails...

Despite how it may seem, I've had a few fails in the sun oven too.  

There is this claim that the sun oven won't burn your food and your food will turn out more moist than in a traditional oven because of its "nondrying heat".  It also claims you can cook multiple layers of cookies because of its "even heating".  I of course enjoy proving people wrong found it my duty to challenge such claims.  
Test 1)
Roasted carrots.  Roasted carrots are soooo good.  However, they can dry out really easily (at least I seem to dry them out often) and so I thought I would try peeling and cutting a carrot and just sticking it in there and see what happens.  You can KINDA see their reflection in the top reflector, but it totally fogged up and I forgot to take an after shot (which wasn't much to look at...).  (and it was so long ago now, I have no idea how long I left them in for.... I would guess less than an hour.)

Basically, without olive oil, and at such low temperatures (350, when normally I roast at 425) they totally did dry out and weren't yet as soft as I would consider to be done.
 Ok. that WAS kind of unfair, since that's not how I would normally roast a carrot, exactly...

Test 2)
The accessory kit contains three stackable racks that you can use to bake or dehydrate three layers at a time, to make maximal use of the small oven and supposedly works because of the "even heating".

I made some oatmeal pumpkin cranberry cookies and froze the dough into balls (a phenomenon I have seen plenty online, but have yet to try myself) so that we would have easy-to-access, cookies on demand.  (kind of a dangerous thing, now that I'm writing it out...)  So I got out two of the racks, and put 4 frozen dough balls on each layer.  I can't remember how long I baked them for, but I know the recipe says 12 minutes and it was much longer than that.  At least 30 minutes.
 They look good right?  I brought them in for a comparison and after eating them I quickly realized two things: 1) the bottom rack was not cooked as well as the top and 2) both layers weren't really done yet.
Unfortunately, I don't think this test can be considered conclusive yet because I have since tried baking them in a regular oven and they also came out looking done, but the middles were still so mushy that if you tried to grab one off the cookie sheet, the middle would be left behind.

Boo.  Me thinks this test is to be continued...

Now about burning food...

Test 3)
This next test, I feel is also a bit unfair, BUT they do claim that your food won't burn, right?
Sundays are very tricky right now because we have church at the dreaded time of 1pm- a.k.a. naptime.  This means that after church is a mad dash to get food into our kids' bellies and put them right to bed.  I was going to just cook chili in the sun oven while we were gone, but then I knew I'd still have to do the cornbread when we got back.  Then it occurred to me that if nothing supposedly burns in the sun oven, maybe I could cook both the cornbread and the chili in the sun oven while we're gone.  I had a Young Women's presidency meeting before church, too, so that means it would all be in there over 4 hours...  I didn't take a picture, but I put the chili in the pot and then balanced a bread pan with the cornbread on top.

Here's what came of it:
 The cornbread turned out verrrrry dark and crusty on top.  BUT, the kids still ate it and it didn't actually have a burnt taste- it just wasn't as soft and tender as usual.
The chili was fine.  Not burnt at all.

After the multi-level cookie incident, (and before I discovered that they don't work well cooked when frozen) I tried baking them again and they weren't done after my initial check, and then I kinda forgot about them... (45-ish minutes later...)


Again, they weren't "burnt" as in blackened and burnt tasting, but they were totally crispy and hard- not how I wanted to eat them...  So yes, you can over-cook things if you're a doofus, but it is harder to burn foods than a regular oven.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recycling

I think The Frog must have learned about recycling in preschool because every time he sees I'm about to throw something he thinks might make a great toy, he takes it from me and says, "mom, we should recycle this!"  

It's funny to me because most of the time he stops me from throwing it in the recycling bin.

This is a box that The Frog wanted to turn into a diorama.

And this?  Who knows..  I don't even know where that icebreakers container came from... I think he picked it up on the sidewalk somewhere.  Those brown dots used to have bottle caps taped on them, but he taped them with the hollow side-down, so they weren't very secure and fell off pretty quickly.
Right now, they're on display in our "library" so that everyone will see them when they come in the door.  He's quite proud of his recycled projects :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Hike"

I don't know why, but I've had a hankering to go on a family hike, and last year taught me that hiking with kids can be fun, as long as you're fine with not actually reaching the top :)  There is a trail head within walking distance of our house, and we STILL hadn't investigated, after living here for 5 years!!
About to get going.
Peach lasted about 10 minutes on her feet and I carried her the rest of the way.
We saw a scorpion!! I've never seen one in the wild and didn't even realize we had them here in Utah!
I saw this flower that looks like a thistle, and thought I'd take a picture, since my mother-in-law's maiden name is Thistle and she likes to collect thistley items.  (thought it might come in handy someday...) unfortunately, as I was taking the shot, I realized it was riddled with bugs.  Yeah.  Those are the black dots :)
We also saw several lizards!
This is us at the "top", or really the turn around spot I chose so we could make it back for Hazel's nap.  The Frog was really enjoying himself and we had a hard time convincing him to go home before we reached the top.
The Frog was nervous about going down the path.  Sometimes it felt a bit slippery.
I guess we didn't make it back in time for Hazel.. She fell asleep on the way down.
The bottom of the trail had a few picnic tables, so we sat down and munched on banana bread.
It was fun, but in the future, I'll actually research the trail first and try to find one that is more shady for the kids. (and maybe less steep)  I foresee us doing this at least one more time this summer :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles- Banana Bread

I have a favorite banana muffin recipe and I decided to try making a loaf of banana bread instead (my muffin pan won't fit).  Worked out great!
 I think it baked about 1 1/2 hours.
 One thing I like about the sun oven, is you don't have to watch your baked goods as closely, because it takes awhile to burn.  If you check on most things every 15 minutes, (not cookies, they're so small, they cook faster...) you're ok.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kid Conversation

Many, many months ago, The Frog started using the word "butt" and I told him that "bum" or "bottom" are nicer words for that.  (little does he know, he could do a lot worse than "butt"... Heaven help me when he discovers that!)  Last week, out of the blue, he says to me:
The Frog: "Mom, do you wanna know a nicer word for bum?"
Me: "sure."
The Frog: "Booty.  Isn't that a really nice one?"

**giggle**

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles- Flourless Chocolate Decadance

I admit.... if there's ever an emergency, I doubt I will be needing to bake a flourless chocolate torte... BUT I needed to make some for a YW activity (we were sharing our best recipes.  If you love chocolate... THIS is the cake for you!) and since I was making a double batch and it needs to be baked in a waterbath, I didn't quite have enough room in my regular oven to bake them all, so I decided to try out one of my 6" rounds in the Sun Oven, even though in the how-tos, one of the trouble-shooting things that can go wrong in the sun oven is having too much condensation on the glass, which can prevent the oven from getting as much sun inside... (was that sentence long enough for you?)
As you can see, it totally worked!!  I put my 6" cake pan inside an 9"x9" dark glass pyrex with about 1" of water and baked them in late afternoon.

This was a double experiment because the recipe has you make one batch in an 8" round (must be 2" high, and that even usually goes way over the top for me...), and I made a double batch into  2-6" rounds and 12 muffin tins, and had enough left over for 1 ramekin as well.  Point being, one 8" round is to be baked for 30 minutes, and I wasn't sure how long to do the smaller ones.  I think I baked this 6" round for 30 in the Sun Oven (my muffins only baked for about 15 minutes, and the otheI think...)  They both tasted great, but for some reason the Sun Oven one actually came out of the pan easier.  Weird...

However, not all my experiments have turned out dandy, as you shall soon see...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Frog's First Independently Written Sentence!!

I've had this white board floating around ever since I decided to move our coat hooks to a new location.  (the place where the white board that never got used, used to be)  After months of the white board being shifted from one propped up location to the next, I finally decided to hang it up in the family room for the kids to draw on.  

The very first day it was up, this is what The Frog wrote:


Can you tell what it says?  (hint, the first letter should be rotated about 90 degrees clockwise...)

I am so proud!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Birthday Chains?

Out of the blue, The Frog started asking me about when his birthday was and asked me if he could make a paper chain for it.  Never mind that it's not until September...  So we made one for him and one for Peach.
It's sooo long, I'm terrified that it's not actually accurate (and we're going to forget to rip chains off sometimes).  I think as it gets closer, I may have to sneakily adjust it to get it to come out right.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Canned Sunshine

I saw this "tin can treats" post last Christmas season, and have been dying for a reason to do this ever since.

One of my friends/neighbors has been through a rough patch lately and I thought it would be fun to surprise her with one.
Times like these, I wish I were a graphic designer... but you get the point :)

I miraculously managed to perfectly cram in nail polish and lipgloss, rolled inside of a scarf. It was meant to be!

I have another one waiting to be used for some unsuspecting victim.  That other blog seems to always put treats inside, but I think it's funny to pull out non-food items.

What else could fit in there?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sun Oven Chronicles!

In case you hadn't noticed, the baby food Fridays are over because I've not needed to make any more.

Never fear, something much nerdier is about to come forth- solar cooking!!

Jay and I have felt a push to be prepared for an emergency, and though we'd probably be okay with food for at least a couple of months, if we lost electricity, we'd be in big trouble.  We've debated quite a bit about what to rely on for cooking food, and I've been swayed by the Sun Oven.  I mostly love that it requires no fuel to store, and that I've been wishing for a double-oven since we moved here and this, believe it or not, may have given me my wish!

When I think of Solar Ovens, my first thought takes me back to a time when I tried to cook my own "pie crust cookies" in a homemade one with my friend Charlotte many, many, many moons ago.  As you may have guessed, that tin-foil-lined box covered in plastic wrap never got hot enough to do much more than turn our pie crust slimy.

Nice.

Well, this technology is *a bit* more advanced. :)

I've only had the Sun Oven for a week, but I've been cooking up a storm, and I'd like to chronicle my successes and failures here, so I can remember what worked and what didn't and be able to reference them in the future.  Who knows, maybe someone "out there" would learn something as well.

Without further ado, here's my first attempt: Granola Bars.

I love this recipe from mealmakeovermoms.com and I thought I'd give it a go in the sun oven.

First off, I was impressed that after only 20 minutes, it was at 325 F!  That was much quicker than I thought it would take.  You could also really feel the heat coming out when you opened up the oven to put the food in.

 The recipe says to bake them for 18 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  I checked them after 18 minutes and they weren't done, but then I forgot to set a timer again and sort of forgot about them...  I think they were probably in there about 45 minutes, luckily, they ended up being great!
 As you can see, they even browned a bit!  One of the great things about the Sun Oven is that it just heats up the air inside the oven, unlike a regular oven that blows heated air into the oven.  That means your food won't get dried out as it would in a regular oven if you say, forgot about it...
They turned out just as yummy as usual.  Hooray!

PS I bought my sun oven here- they are having a 20% off sale on the newer American version, until June 21st, if you're interested.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

He Was SO Mad...

Here's the result of last Sunday's photo.
 Why is it I always feel like everyone looks good except for me?

After church, I can't even remember why now... The Frog was upset and angrily proclaimed (I'm sure he got this idea from Mercer Mayer's I Was SO Mad)
"I'm going to run away!!"

I think I shocked him with my response- I put on a dejected face and said, "Okay.  You better go pack your things!  You're going to need extra underwear and something to eat... Where's your backpack?"

He immediately calmed down, ran around the house filling his backpack with things he would need for the road (mostly cars, though I think he did pack some underwear too).  I suggested he take things that don't need to be kept cold to keep from spoiling and when I suggested fruit snacks and crackers, he took the fruit snacks and said, "I don't have enough room for the crackers".

Peach also decided she should go with him, so she packed up a bag as well.

Before The Frog left, I told him I'd miss him and asked if I might take a picture of him to remember him by.  Surprisingly, he obliged.
We waved him off and told him to be sure and look both ways before crossing the street and that we would miss him, and then Peach ceremoniously left as well and yelled back that she'd be sure to look both ways also.

He sat outside in the front yard for about 30 seconds, and then knocked on the door needing help opening his fruit snacks.  He decided not to run away after all :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dog Pile

Feeling guilty about the lack of photos of baby Hazel compared to the other two at this age, I saw a great daddy-daughter photo op:
The Frog, of course, couldn't resist but join in...
Not wanting to be left out...
Family sandwich.  Yum!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kid Conversation

I was getting ready in the morning and I had just put on some deoderant...
Peach: Can I have some of that, mom?
Me: No, you don't need any.  You're not stinky.
Peach: But my belly is stinky!

I think she may have unearthed an untapped market-- Bellybutton Perfume!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Summer of 7-11!

Since December, I've been the secretary of the Young Women's organization of my church.  We decided to try to challenge the girls (and ourselves) to read the whole Book of Mormon during their summer break- that is, reading about 7 pages a day for 11 weeks.  (starting yesterday)  I'm calling it the "7-11 Summer Scripture Challenge".

I remember when I was in seminary (in High School) and they always had "March Madness", where they would challenge you to read the entire Book of Mormon in 1 month.  (which I am ashamed to say, I never attempted)  I think this seems a lot more manageable (particularly since the girls have no homework now).

If you want to follow along (it's not too late to catch up!), here's the schedule I made and printed out for everyone to use as a bookmark.  I just finished reading the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price again, so I'm glad to have a new scripture reading goal.

Each Sunday, during opening exercises, we are having "Scripture Spotlight" time where if any of the girls (or leaders, I suppose) have any scriptures that particularly stuck out to them or that they really liked, they can share them with each other.  I have decided to do this as I read on my other blog, if any of you care to follow along.

PS I cheated and started reading last week, so I would be able to tell the girls about my experience so far, when we issued the challenge yesterday.