Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A fun experiment for a rainy day

A few weeks ago, we made a trip to the Mennonite dry goods store, as I was running low on some spices and seasonings, as well as unbleached flour.  I LOVE visiting their store.  It's out in the country in the middle of no where, and they have just about everything.  They even had some WI cheese on hand this time, and we stocked up our fridge with some.   I asked if they had peanut butter, as I didn't see any on the shelves.  The nice girl informed me that if I picked out what kind of peanuts I wanted, they would make some fresh.  I couldn't resist, and we had never seen homemade peanut butter being made before.  It was as simple as dumping it into the machine and out came the creamy peanut butter.  How neat, I thought "I need to get me one of those". 

A few days later it was a rainy Saturday and I decided to look online and see if I could possibly find myself a peanut butter machine.  As I was doing so, I stumbled upon an old antique one and I couldn't believe it.  I HAD one of these, way in the back of my pantry.  My grandma gave it to me many years ago and we used it to grind up meats for sandwiches, and I never knew I could use it for peanuts.  We HAD to try it out immediately :)  Thank goodness I had a large bag of peanuts from Sam's club in the back of my pantry, that had been there for quite a while.  The kids started shelling the peanuts, while I washed and put together the old grinder.

It was a messy, but fun job for the kids.  They all took their turn dumping the peanuts into the grinder and then turning the handle. 

It took the nuts a couple of times through the grinder before they became smooth.   We then dumped them into a large bowl and I used my blender to get the texture I was looking for.  I couldn't give an exact recipe, as we were just experiementing and dumping ingredients in as we saw fit.  I did sweeten with lots of honey, a bit of sugar, and a tiny bit of salt, and a splash of water.  That's as exact as my recipe can get. 

When we were finished we all tasted it and agreed it was good, but different then we were use to.  The kids did have it on their toast the next morning at breakfast.  After about a week of the peanut butter sitting in the pantry, I realized the kids weren't going to eat it plain, so my oldest daughter made up some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, using our homemade peanut butter.  They were delicious!
In the end, it was a fun experiment for a rainy day and yes, I would try it again.  I am going to do a little more research before I attempt it again and try to get a more exact recipe.  With the cost of peanut butter these days it's definitely worth it and the kids have fun making it!
♥  Shannon

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of School!

My 2nd & 3rd grader's

Yes, I am doing two posts in one day.  My time these days are limited :)  We started school yesterday and it went very well.  I wanted to share a few pictures and a look into our school room.  Also, we are trying something new this year.  My two oldest are going "part time" to the christian school.  They are taking a math and science class there.  That helps me out a lot, as quite honestly, I'm not great with math.  Being a new home school mom (this is my 2nd year), I also haven't figured out how to fit in science experiments and all, into our already busy schedule, so this is a great fit for us right now.  Also, my girls miss the atmosphere of school.  I think the hardest part of home school is adjusting to a new normal.  It doesn't feel normal or natural to either one of them, because they have always been in school.  This is a good compromise for all of us, and I still have 3 at home full time!

My 8th grader!  Where does the time go!   She is happily studying her history here.  We do mostly, all Bob Jones curriculum and I really love it!

My 6th grader.  She is having quiet reading/history time in her room.  I think one thing the girls do enjoy is the quiet laid back atmosphere that home school provides. 

And my baby, started kindergarten!  I always thought there would be tears the day he stepped foot into school.  How thankful I am, that our time together is being continued at home.  Looks like he found the puppets.

Here is a peek into our school room:

I LOVE my whiteboards!  They are a lifesaver.  The kids like to practice their spelling words, and play with word magnet games on here.  My calendar is from Oriental Trading Company and the kids enjoying switching out the months.  It's such a great fun way to teach the days/months of the year!

This is our library we created right off our school room.  It was an extra large hallway which really had no purpose.  My husband bought all the materials at Menards, and built them himself.  One of my favorite areas of the whole, entire house! 

Another one of my favorites of the school room is our farm table.  I started out with this table and the four chairs it came with.  Then I found this antique church pew at a shop right down the road from our house.  It was the perfect fit for the room and at least 3 kids can sit comfortably on the bench.  It is great for family game nights, and craft projects as well!

The large antique cabinet in the background holds all of our games and puzzles.  And then of course, I have a desk with the computer/printer, and laminator, which I haven't tried out yet.  That's pretty much it, but it's cozy, warm, and the kids enjoy our space.

♥  Shannon

Because my garden just won't stop...

I thought I was done with beans. My kids had picked the last of them last week and I stepped outside to take a look and see if they had left any unpicked. I was surprised to find the bushes were FULL again! So we set out to pick once again over the weekend. I was suppose to be cleaning out my school room and organizing, in preparation for our first day of school this week.

I don't have a pressure cooker, so I would be freezing all these beans. I have about 30 gallon bags already frozen, so I decided to make green bean casserole for the freezer. This is one of my families favorite side dishes. I ended up with six pans after working on beans for 2 days. I blanched the beans as if I was freezing them, and then made up the casserole's and put them in the individual pans for freezing. I recommend to everyone to make your own "cream" soup from scratch. It is absolutely delicious, and so much better for you then the canned soups in the store. I will share my recipe below. I did not add french fried onions, but will add those later, when I pull them out of the freezer to bake. If I don't have the french fried onions on hand, I will add crushed croutons for topping and my family likes that just as well.

We also picked an abundance of green peppers and decided to try out a stuffed pepper recipe for the freezer.

I have never made stuffed peppers before, but my husband is a pretty good cook and helped out. It was pretty simple. We fried up some hamburger and onion, then added a spaghetti sauce and rice. We stuffed the peppers and topped with cheese.

I placed the pan into the freezer for about an hour until they were froze, then placed the peppers into gallon size bags for the freezer. I ended up with enough for six separate dinners. How wonderful! It felt really great to add some delicious, home grown, quick and easy freezer meals to my freezer, right before we started our busy school year!

  Homemade creamed soup:

1 c nonfat dry milk
3/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c bouillon
4 Tbsp dried onion
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper

Mix all together and when ready to use add 1/3 cup of mix to 1 1/4 cups of water. Cook on stove top until desired thickness. Cool. I made this dried mix up in large batches and keep in my pantry with instructions for use. I will never go back to canned soup again. Thank you pinterest!

♥ Shannon