Monday, September 12, 2016

Pure Genius

Whomever invented the built in belt for kids is pure genius. If you don't know what I'm talking about there's this little adjustable elastic strip inside kid's pants. Near the snap of the pants, there's two plastic buttons and the button holes are on the elastic. That way you can cinch the pants tighter around the waist if they are too gappy or let out the elastic to make them bigger as they grow. To which I ask....why the heck aren't these an option for adults?!? I could soo use some adjustable jeans right now. I'm not quite able to fit into my pre-pregnancy pants but if I try to go a size larger they gap and fall off my hips. I need the in-between size :(

Anyhow, new things are happening here at the homestead. For one we are about to butcher our beloved turkeys for the freezer. It's gonna be hard as I've really taken a deep liking to turkeys. They are amazingly gentle and soothing to the spirit. They coo and chitter like nothing I've heard before. It's a sweet sound that I've really enjoyed hearing around here. Also, I made a fantastic discovery the other day! People have been asking me how I'm getting such a great turnout with my garden with all the deer and bunnies around. I have no idea I said, they are just leaving my garden alone for some reason. I thought maybe it was the scent of the pup in the area but just the other day I found out the truth. Attack turkeys. Believe it. My three turkeys flanked four deer and chased them round and round the garden. I swear I almost saw the three girls giving tactical signals to each other to ambush the poor deer. The deer finally gave up and fled the scene. It was HILARIOUS. Those turkeys were not having some schmucks come in and steel the bounty that they themselves weren't privy too. Love those turkeys. So yeah, that butchering is going to be difficult emotionally. However, it needs to be done because they are now 22 weeks old and the breed we got (Big Breasted Bronze) is a commercial breed and has the great potential of having their legs break if they get too heavy. That is not humane....and we treat our animals humanely here. So butchering it will be. Next season we will, however, be getting some heritage breeds which we can keep more as pest annihilators/deer attackers as well as meat birds.

Secondly, we are budgeting my friends. Bu-dget-ing! Cowboy and I had been talking about setting up a budget for years, but I admit I just didn't know where to start and it terrified me. I have always been very good with finances and staying out of debt etc. But with R-bear's birth, me out on maternity leave leaving us with a "light" paycheck, and then in the midst of things the truck needed $3k of work done on it emergently....things got over our heads very quickly. It was not a good feeling at all.
We are big Dave Ramsey fans and found his budgeting app "EveryDollar". We downloaded it onto the computer and to each of our phones. Game on.
We are only on month two of budgeting but so far it feels incredibly empowering and has definitely pointed us in a very positive direction with our money. Every dollar has an assignment and there's no room for frivolous spending. We are still learning the ins and outs of the app and finding a few quirks to budgeting (like how do you save for bills that are bi-monthly, annual, or due every couple years) but so far the app is working nicely for us. I will have to report more once we get more months under our belt.

Kiddo update: L-bug is freaking hilarious. Cowboy and I are going to set up a notebook to start documenting some of the things she says because I know if we let it go we will forget it and a lot of these things just cannot be forgotten! She calls a hamburger a "hanga'burger" no matter how many times we correct her she just cannot alter it. It's adorable. We got her a toddler set of silverware to transition her to big utensils. It's her first time with a knife and she keeps calling it her "life". She becomes so emotional when it falls off the table and whines oh-so dramatically, "My life is on the floor! I neeeeed my life!" Sorry honey I sometimes feel that way too....
We got a magnetic responsibility board that we hang in the kitchen. Every time she does a task she gets a magnetic sticker. She is now amazing at picking up her toys, putting her clothes in her hamper, brushing her teeth, and helping set the table and clear her own plate. She'll also help feed Kaos and she is learning to dress herself. What's funny is how unmotivated she is to get the stickers after two weeks of using the chart. She just likes to help and I'm not discouraging it!!! I figure the boards (I got two- at a yard sale) will become more handy and motivating once R-bear is able to "compete" with her and maybe I will up the ante from stickers to a slight monetary reward due at the end of the week to whomever's chart is filled in most.

She still amazes me every single day. We've been working on counting, letters, and shapes lately. She'll get the shapes and counting right 75-85% of the time but although she can say the alphabet pretty well she hasn't been able to point out the actual letters when asked (except "O"). Today she was sitting on her potty and reading her letter book. All of a sudden she points at a letter and says "R mama!" Then she picks out "S, T, & U" perfectly! Hot Damn! Just out of the blue. She even says, "U like Umbrella". It is just awesome to see her brain work. One day it feels like we are just learning something and the next day she just blurts it all out. She picked out a trapezoid on her kindle game today without a second blink. I didn't even cheat and help her. It was fantastic and my heart swelled with pride. I think this homeschooling journey will work out just fine.

R-bear is getting so big and so little boyish. He totally skipped his 6 month phase and went from 3-6 month outfits to 9 month outfits and now is fitting into some 12 month outfits (a little baggy). He is only 4.5 months old!!!!  He is 90% for his height....yes Daddy is tall and I suspect both kids will tower over Mama. R-bear is so mellow and a super happy kid. My pediatrician said with two mellow chill kids I need to stop while I'm ahead.

Kaos is still very chaotic but improving little by little. He lost all his puppy teeth and with the collar of wisdom is starting to behave more like a dog and less puppy. He is also starting to alert bark at people at the door and strange noises out on the property at night. His growl and bark is fierce and deep. He is going to be an amazing protector. His drive is extremely high, much higher than Argos who was a great protector but a little lazy on his commands. Kaos never does anything half-assed. It is always full throttle and although it can be a little annoying to have such a high energy eager pup it is also refreshing to have a dog that desperately wants to act and react.

Other than that, we are starting to prepare to winterize our three bee hives, cross fingers that they make it to next year and give us that liquid gold! We have three sets of different aged baby chickens: three babies running with the big girls, five babies nestled in the other coop with mama hen, and four babies downstairs in the brooder box without a mama hen. Next year we should be swimming in eggs! We are researching the potential to add either pigs or a milking cow to our homestead in the near future (after winter) and possibly a barn cat or two. Unfortunately the mice are plentiful here and we are in need of some predators.  It truly is a farm here and I count my blessings every single morning I step out to do farm chores. Thankfully, L-bug is starting to at least try her best to help out with the chores and is dropping a lot less eggs lately!

Off to can two huge boxes of fresh juicy Palisade peaches!  I am torn between jam, sliced, pie filling, peach mostarda, or peach butter. Maybe I'll do a bit of each....

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Still Trucking' Along

Life is very good here at the homestead. The pup is still chewing like crazy but has settled down quite a bit now that I have more of a routine established in terms of feeding, pottying, and playing for all the tots. It's totally true what they say about when things get quiet, be suspicious...

The honey bees are a very exciting and welcome addition to the homestead. We have caught five swarms total making up three full strong hives. One hive we combined: one hive that had a queen but a very small swarm combined with a very large queen-less hive. The integration went very well and the queen is busy at work laying eggs as her workers draw out comb. We have placed a second hive body on top of the brood chamber (if you don't know what that means, just understand that moving upward by adding boxes is a very good thing and one step closer to acquiring honey to eat!). One other hive we had to dump out on the other side of the barn to rid the hive of its nurse bees and hope the foragers would combine with the new hive in its place. It was a very odd ground swarm that appeared to be very content at home on the ground. It was queen-less and for the entire time we had the swarm they acted utterly confused and impaired. They hung out on the front porch of the hive and didn't feed like they should have. The comb they built out was odd and misshapen. When we received a free queen from one of the bee clubs we belong to the hive instantly killed her. Then we had nurse bees laying eggs like they were queens. Not good and not a productive healthy hive. We did what we could to help them but unfortunately they were not wanting to be saved.

The three full hives we have now are wonderful and it is so neat to sit and watch them go about their day. I doubt we'll have honey this season as our winters are a bit harsh so they'll need a large amount of their own honey to survive through the winter. Next season, as long as they make it, we should have a very productive honey extraction!

I also have a garden this year! I have pots on my deck with tomatoes and peppers, and a decent sized one  in the yard with tomatoes, zucchini, peas, beets, carrots, and various peppers and that excites me.

Our Orpington hen went broody this past month. Cowboy and I looked at each other and shrugged. Well, why not let her set if she's determined to set? So I snuck a couple more eggs under her and put her in our second chicken coop away from the rest of the flock for peace. I had read various opinions about allowing broody hens to set, hatch, and raise the chicks with the flock so integration goes smoothy vs. separating the broody hen and her eggs to protect the chicks and decrease stress. I opted to separate. We had the second coop which is a perfect brooder box and this way I don't have to worry about another hen killing the babies. Maybe next time I'll try it the other way and compare results.
Sunday we awoke to little peeps in the coop! One baby Americauna was under our Orpington! Today I came out to see two more little babies had hatched. It looks like two Americaunas so far and maybe a baby Orpington! It made my heart melt to see these little babies and to see mama hen so protective with them. I watched her hop off the rest of the eggs temporarily and wait for her babies to follow. She then demonstrated how to drink and eat. You could see the little babies watch her intently then try to mimic her actions. This is amazing. L-bug wanted to "pet-pet" the babies all day long.

cute peepers!

The turkeys are thriving on our farm...well all except our Tom turkey. Poor guy got taken by a predator the other night. Our hens are all very good about putting themselves to bed even before dusk. The turkeys and the chicks they were raised with, unfortunately, are not very good about bedtimes. We have to round them up and guide them into the coop every night. The chicks are getting better at it but we constantly find the turkeys roosting by our basement. We've had a lot of coyote activity these last few nights down in the meadow so I am pretty sure it was one of them. I found Tom's carcass down at the bottom of the hill by the meadow. I hope his death was swift, poor guy I really liked him.

We know this is the trade-off for letting our animals free range. I am good about not letting them out in the morning until later (predators do most of their activity at dawn and dusk) and now that the puppy is becoming more dog than puppy, we have been taking him out back in the fields to do his business and let the predators know there's a new chief in town. Seeing everyone free-range, chasing butterflies and grasshoppers, snatching and dust bathing, and snipping off dewy leaves of grass as they chirp and cluck happily is lovely. The few that we lose here and there is worth it (says the human who has no chance of being eaten by a coyote or fox. Sorry girls).

That's our friend's lab being such a good girl there!

R-bear is getting chunky and even more adorable. He is starting to giggle and coo. So handsome! L-bug is still being a rock star with her cute self. She loves to read, paint, and dance. Oh yeah and crawl in and out of the chicken pop door. This is the girl that can't stand to get her fingers in paint during craft time but she will crawl through chicken poop like a champ, gather rocks in the pockets of her dresses, and present nana with a fistful of rabbit fur she found down in the meadow (i didn't have the heart to tell her the mass of rabbit fur was not from a living rabbit). Love this girl....

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Such exciting news to tell you! Our homestead now has HONEY BEES!!!!

I have wanted honey bees for a few years now but prior years we had rented and I just didn't want to start hives on rental property and have to move them. Plus we lived in a neighborhood and didn't want to deal with people's paranoia over bees. I felt I was already pushing the envelope there with chickens. Now that we own and have land we revisited the discussion on bees.

My father is a beekeeper on the east coast (my mother assists) and both my parents have been here since the arrival of R-bear. Through the weeks, my dad kept busy going to local bee clubs, put himself on a swarm call list, and started  putting together supplies in case he got called for a swarm removal. Three times he got called but didn't have his phone on him. Last week he finally received a call for a swarm in a nearby town. My mom went with him and together they successfully retrieved the swarm. It was indeed exciting times.

We let the swarm relax in their hive box for a couple of days and when we went in to check it, they still appeared a bit disoriented and the sugar water was barely touched. No queen was found and we gently closed them back up and opened up a small entrance for them to figure things out.

Today we went back into the hive and saw four amazing findings:
1. tons of bees going in and out of the feeder for sugar water
2. lots of bees with pollen on their puffers which indicates theres potential for brood
3. two and a half frames were being built out

Yep, our hive is getting organized, starting to build out wax for honey, and the sighting of the queen was extra spectacular. So now we sit, wait, and continue to feed them with hopes of seeing some brood the next few days. If we see that we'll know our bees are establishing themselves and approve of their new home. Honey bees are so fascinating to watch and the more we learn about them the more in awe we are of their intelligence.

Here's to some honey!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Crazy Train

Yes, welcome aboard our crazy train! What the heck was I thinking getting a newborn AND a 7 week old puppy?!?!?! Between reminding L-bug to potty, feeding and diapering R-bear, and potty training the puppy who PUTS EVERYTHING IN HIS MOUTH, I feel like I have three children. Maybe I blocked that part of puppyhood from my memory but I don't recall Argos being such a mouther. I am constantly fishing objects out of the puppy's mouth: potted plant dirt, sticks, rocks, dandelions, slippers, etc. Today I had to scold him for laying down and continuously licking the table leg. Having L-bug, who rarely walks anywhere (everything is done at a run) doesn't help with the puppy's instinct to chase and nip. She usually receives the biggest brunt of his mouthing. Ever see The Dark Crystal? Remember Fizzgig? Kiera's little dog-like animal with multiple rows of teeth? This is our pup....

Appropriately named Kaos, he had definitely added an element of Chaos to our lives. Mouthing aside, he is a wonderful dog. His training is going better than anticipated and he is such an amazing learner. I am so eager to see how he develops and grows with us.

Here, die of cuteness just a little:

R-bear arrived without a single complication and he is already starting to slowly gain weight. He is a bit smaller framed than L-bug but he was also over three weeks earlier than she was so I am hoping mama's good milk will chunk him up properly. He is so flippin' adorable that I just can't stop kissing and snuggling him! He is a very mellow baby and even his cries are relatively quiet. I'm thumbing my nose at all those people who assured me my second child would be a hellion because L-bug was so mellow and laid back.

One thing I have not gotten the hang of is how to harness "the stream". He is SUCH a little boy and it is rare that either I or the wall behind the changing table gets away without getting peed on at least once a day. I have changed his outfit more times in a day than is normal for a little dude. I am quick and I plan ahead, having diaper pre-laid out, wipes already set aside to wipe the crevices, and any other requirement for the changing. STILL I end up with pee on me or spend 5 minutes after the change wiping down the wall and back of changing table. It's ridiculous. I have been told it gets better.....

L-bug is surprisingly taking the new arrival extremely well and even tuts away at how proud she is at being a big sister! She snuggles R-bear any chance she can get (I have to make sure it is a snuggle and not a smother) and cradles him in her arms. She pulls out a stack full of books, props herself up on a stool next to him, and will spend hours reading to him. It is so cute to watch! There has been no regression on potty training or sleeping for her and I am just amazed. Also, in January we signed up for the local library's Reading Challenge. It is a challenge to read 1000 books to your child before kindergarten. L-bug is crazy about books and loves loves loves to read. As of today she has accomplished the 1000 book mark!!!! WooHoo!!! That is not even counting all the books she reads to herself, her little brother, and us. Four months to 1000 books! I am one proud mama.

The only new item I have tried with R-bear is the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper (the link I provided is the one we have). I can tell you I am a believer. It is perfect for our family and I wish I had had this instead of the cumbersome bassinet I used for L-bug. The Arms Reach attaches to the side of your bed with straps to prevent any tipping over or any gap in your bed between sleeper and mattress. In the middle of the night I can just reach over and pull him up into my lap to nurse. It is adjustable to the height of your mattress (ours is very high) and has one side that drops down to put you closer to baby without risking smothering. I chose this one over the bigger ones because I already have a pack and play so didn't feel it necessary to get a big one that converts to a play yard. I wanted something compact to fit unobtrusively in our bedroom yet large enough to last him for at least 6-8 months. I absolutely love ours and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Countdown is On

Cue Europe's "Final Countdown".

Maybe it's because I was an 80's kid, I dunno but this song always gets stuck in my head and riles me up. For some it's "The Eye of the Tiger" but for me it's "The Final Countdown". Every see the video? Hilarious. And I can't believe we all thought big styled long hair with leather vests and bare chests was "hot". WOW. 

Anyways, I am not going to give away the exact date of my c-section yet but let's just say it's very near and I'm getting so excited to meet our little man "R-bear". My belly is so big and tight and his movements are so sharp and strong. I actually got stuck on my back the other night due to ligament pain and had to have Cowboy wake up and pull me back into position. Yeah to say I'm ready is an understatement. This pregnancy is SO different than L-bug's. Not worse per say but just really really different.  A lot more aches and weird symptoms that I had to Google to see if I wasn't imagining things. Nope I have a lot of weird symptoms: pulsatile tinnitus, for example. I can hear my heartbeat chirp in my left ear and it comes and goes. At first I thought we had a bird in our attic and texted Cowboy complaining how we had to catch it. Then, I realized that the bird was following me around and was at my work.....we got a laugh out of that. I finally looked it up then verified it with my OB Doc. Yep, weird pregnancy related symptom of increased blood flow and pressure. 

Anyways, bags are packed and ready to go in the car just in case I don't make it to my section date. I've been having a ton of contractions and I believe his head is already engaged. 

What is really neat is since he is #2 I don't have to rush out and buy a ton of stuff! I have weeded out from L-bug's collection what worked and have already donated to others what didn't work. A few things I kept just in case it works for this little guy even though L-bug didn't care for it. I'll have to update y'all on product reviews once R-bear has a chance to trial things. There are a few new things I am going to test out with him. I have the Ergo packed in the car but I just got word from a girlfriend on how fabulous her ring sling has been for her newborn and now my interest has been peaked. Supposedly you can nurse on-the-go with ease in a ring sling and still have two hands to yourself! Mamaway looks great and received rave reviews on the site and my girlfriend liked her Beco sling, others have spoken highly of Tula's brand. I might try one of these slings and post back my thoughts on it. I am all about baby wearing and can't gush more on the topic. As it is I'll be trying an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper for the first time and can't wait to review it!

Diapers are all washed and ready to go, diaper pail is in its place in the bathroom, and the changing table is all decked out with necessities. The second car seat has been installed and checked by our fire department with an enthusiastic thumbs up (they even rechecked L-bug's new big seat for safe installation), the gliders are all in position for optimal nursing, and hospital go-bags are packed for L-bug and take home clothes for R-bear. 

We have been working with L-bug on getting her ready for her baby brother. I even thought about allowing her in the OR room with Daddy but quickly vetoed that because she is still so young and has always been extremely emotionally sensitive to other people's pain and sorrow (we call her a "sympathy crier"). I am not sure she could handle seeing Mama strapped to a table; I don't think her sweet little brain could process what is going on. So she'll be with the grandparents awaiting R-bear's arrival. I still have NO idea how she is going to take it all in and process it but I hope that she adapts well and sees this as a (mostly) positive change in her life. I love that little butterfly so much that it would hurt my heart to see her struggle and feel less than the beautiful social funny artistic farm girl she is. The world has revolved around her for almost two years and now there's going to be a little competition in the attention category. I hope we have given her the tools to be strong, confident, and cope with change. 

I have a brand new baby boy doll (life sized) that will be a gift from her brother to her and I also set aside several very small gifts for my parents to give her throughout the next week or so. Small activity stuff that are just distractions and reminders that she is still very special to us. That, and oh yeah....a brand new puppy. Yes, we are getting a new puppy very shortly after little man arrives. It'll be hectic I'm sure but a much needed chaos in our life. Being dog-free has its perks but for us it's so empty not having a fuzzy butt knocking everything over and a wet nose poking in our face early in the mornings. We have found a breeder we are really happy with and will be bringing home a solid black German Shepherd pure-bred puppy. He will be trained by the same trainer that Argos had and we plan on going all the way with the levels of Personal Protection Training. It's exciting times here on the homestead. Did I also mention we have baby chicks and baby turkeys in our brooder box too?! Utter chaos I tell you. And we love it.

Oh and one more thing....L-bug has totally rocked my world in terms of potty training. She still wears diapers at night but throughout the day she is in adorable little girl panties with very minimal accidents. She's a total rock star. Pretty soon I'll be researching homeschooling and delving into brand new unfamiliar territory. Wish me luck

Saturday, March 5, 2016

My "Baby"

I had been working on a draft celebrating the amazing milestone of potty training L-bug at 21 months of age.  I am overwhelmed with how well she learned and I wanted to beam to the world her accomplishment. However, my heart is heavy and aches more than anything and I can't bring myself to finish the happy happy post. I will save it for later....

Today, our beloved German Shepherd passed away while at home. It was peaceful and painless. A big brief sigh and then he was no more. This was not totally unexpected, although it still came as a shock and painful stab in the heart. Two weeks ago he suffered what appeared to be a big stroke. I thought it was his time then. He couldn't get off his pillow, couldn't raise his head, and just lay there pathetic. It was terrible. Our vet came and checked him out and informed us it could be a stroke or it could be a severe ear infection. To our surprise an inner ear infection mimics the neurological symptoms of a stroke in canines. In both cases prognosis is usually pretty good but recovery is a slow process. So we treated him with antibiotics, dramamine, iv fluids, and such. Each day I would come home from work and start IV fluids on him then sit next to him and smooth his soft velvety ears between my fingers and give him lots of kisses. I would tell him how much he was loved and how special he was to our family.

He slowly, ever so slowly started to recover. In fact just this past week he was Argos, but "off". His gait was way off, stumbling into things with a head tilt and walking almost sideways. Almost as if there was a disconnect between brain and motor function. He was able to get outside and even displayed his normal puppy self, playing with his ball and smothering L-bug with affection. Then two days ago his gait became even more affected and his world appeared more tilted. He started falling more.

Then today, I got home from work early morning and he didn't come to greet me. I went to his bed and snuggled him, loved on him. He was playful but didn't want to get up. We did our little routine of cuddles and scratches. He eagerly returned my affection and I eventually went to bed. Cowboy informed me in the afternoon that L-bug was dancing around Argos, singing in her light fairy voice to him, and frequently giving him little pecks of love on his big noggin. He just laid there, content, then took a big deep breath, and passed on.  He was surrounded by her sunshine-y love and warmth. What a way to go.... I am terribly sad and yet so grateful and happy that he went peacefully and with the love of our family around him. He was not alone.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Instant Pot- Indian Butter Chicken

Last post I briefly mentioned my Instant Pot. It definitely has a learning curve if you're not used to using a pressure cooker but little by little I am figuring this out and getting more and more excited using it.

I received my Instant Pot as a Christmas present from my awesome in-laws who happened to find the bluetooth enabled version during an amazon lightening deal which brought the price down to the same as a non-bluetooth one. Score! At first I was thinking "geez bluetooth? Why would I need to control my pressure cooker from the next room instead of just getting up and walking to the kitchen?" However, after using my cooker for several recipes I can actually say "I get it!" and am relishing the usefulness of this feature. That said, if you are looking to buy one and it's not on sale, I would hesitate to recommend the one with bluetooth which is nearly $60 more than the standard 6qt Instant Pot. I'm not sure yet if it is really worth the extra money. Would I miss it if I didn't have it? Time will tell. For now, I am pretty psyched to have this extra feature and play around with it.

With the bluetooth, I can download the Instant Pot app onto my phone/iOs device and either find a recipe and press the start button (which starts the Instant Pot and runs the recipe program, adjusting the temp and pressure as needed automatically. It also sends you alerts if any actions need to take place on your part.) OR I can write my own recipes and plug them into the app to run my own program. Pretty neat.

The concern I had with bluetooth enabled is, what if I end up getting a new phone, the app or bluetooth function becomes glitchy, or I don't want to use this function? Well, the Instant Pot works totally normal without the bluetooth function, so if you don't want or can't use it then it works exactly like the standard non-bluetooth pot. No biggie.

After receiving my Instant Pot, reading the manual, and then scouring the internet (I'm nodding at you, Pinterest) for recipes and tips I started slow with things like squash, other veggies, rice, a few meals, and finally yogurt. So far everything has been pretty much a hit. I don't think I will ever cook butternut, spaghetti, or acorn squash, or any type of potato any other way. Roughly 8-10 minutes of pressure cooking time and I've got perfectly cooked squash that is super moist and easily mashed. Such a time saver.

Check out Hip Pressure Cooking for a plethora of recipes, reviews, and tips for your electric pressure cookers. Also, NomNomPaleo has a few wonderful recipes, one of which is Michelle Tam's bone broth. I made three batches the other day with chicken bones and chicken feet left over from our neighbor-friend's meat birds they just butchered (I admit I dry heaved a little putting those feet in my pot). My daughter eagerly drank FOUR helpings of the super healthy broth. Nom Nom indeed!

I'll leave you with this amazing recipe by Barbara Schieving's blog "Pressure Cooking Today".

Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Yield: 6 - 8 servings
  • 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) diced tomatoes and juice
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds (roast on the stovetop in a small pan)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed minced cilantro

  1. Cut the chicken pieces into quarters.
  2. Put tomatoes, jalapeno and ginger in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine puree.
  3. Add butter to pressure cooking pot, select Browning. When butter is melted and foam begins to subside, add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sear until they are nicely browned all over (about 2-3 minutes per batch). Remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl and put aside.
  4. Add ground cumin and paprika to the butter in the pot and cook, stirring rapidly, for 10-15 seconds. Add the tomato mixture, salt, cream, yogurt and chicken pieces (with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl) to the pot. Gently stir the chicken to coat the pieces. Cover and lock lid in place. Select High Pressure and 5 minutes cook time. When timer beeps, turn off and use a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes use a quick pressure release to release any remaining pressure.
  5. Stir in the garam masala and roasted cumin. Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir in to sauce in the pot. Select sauté and bring to a boil. Turn off pressure cooker and stir in minced cilantro.
  6. Serve with rice and naan.
My alterations:
1. Cowboy isn't keen on chicken thighs so I used a bunch of chicken breasts chunked, added extra spices, and left out the jalapeno since the kiddo would be eating it.
2. After I pureed the tomatoes and ginger, I slow mixed in the salt, cream, and yogurt to the blender.
3. Next time I would try a little less butter. The butter and chicken splattered a ton while sauteeing. Either use less butter altogether or saute chicken in less butter then add the rest of the butter called for later.
4. Because I used breast meat, I was afraid of overcooking them so I just sauteed until no longer pink, not fully browned. Did not affect the flavor one bit.
5. I did not remove the chicken from the pot but just added the cumin and paprika to the already sauteeing chicken and stirred around for a few more seconds. Then I added the blender full of tomato mixture to the pot. This saved dirtying extra utensils and saved a little time. Worked out great.

I made Jasmine rice using this recipe which made me want to throw my old rice cooker away it was so good! Are you kidding me? ONE minute of pressure cooking time followed by a 10 minute natural pressure release and I had absolutely perfect rice!

I was in the cooking mood and L-bug was busy either entertaining herself or jumping in here and there to "help mama" stir or measure out ingredients so I decided to cook up some potatoes to go with the meal. Here's the Roasted Potato recipe. I used red potatoes and my homemade bone broth for the stock then sprinkled with coarse Kosher salt afterwards. Cowboy raved about these potatoes. We don't really eat many non-sweet potatoes but these might be a total game changer.

Stay tuned for my adventure in pressure cooking yogurt!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Time Is Just Slippin' Slippin'

It's been forever since I blogged last but there was a moment of crazy uncertainty about little man and also complications with my body so I just had to chill for a bit. Actually little man is doing JUST FINE! and as it turns out my body (specifically my placenta) is also hanging in there.

I'm not going to go into an entire birth story but let's just do a semi-short version where at time of delivery baby L-bug's head was cock-eyed and face up leading to a not so easy labor. 36hrs heard me right.....and several attempted interventions led to a c-section because although baby was taking it like a champ, mama was getting really sick and there was no way L-bug was going to fit down that tunnel.

Post c-section and the sound of an amazing little cry from L-bug, mama hemorrhaged. No bueno. Several packs of blood products and a few extra hospital nights stay and everyone was home safe and healthy. THEN two weeks later I hemorrhaged again at home. Smarty pants critical care nurse in me says, stalling to go to the hospital again, "well I don't think that's a lot of blood. I mean, I've totally seen worse."

Yeah, it was a LOT of blood and I should have gone into the ER sooner. All was good though and I got shipped off to a bigger hospital where I received more blood products and a pelvic embolization after finding a very rare AVM (Arterial-Vein Malformation: the artery to vein pathway is mixed up, usually seen in brains more often than any other part of the body) in my uterus which may or may not have caused the bleeding. **A pelvic embolization means that under sedation they poked a hole in the artery of my groin, threaded a catheter up through the artery and into my uterus's main blood stream, and shot in a bunch of teeny tiny beads that expanded and clotted off the cause of the bleeding.

Ten days later, after a closeful watch that there was no more bleeding, I was discharged (L-bug got to stay with me the entire visit!) and this time everyone was truly healthy and happy. I was assured the embolization wouldn't affect future fertility and indeed this past August we implanted little man. Because of the embolization though, I was at high risk for a not so nice thing called placenta accreta. This means abnormal areas in your placenta which, although doesn't affect the health or growth of the baby, can adhere to the uterus and (in severe cases) grow through the uterus and attach to the bladder and bowels. Placenta accreta leads to an extremely high risk of hemorrhaging leading to an hysterectomy: Ugh not again!

The docs thought they saw some holes or "lakes" in my placenta and I had to wait until a recent ultrasound to verify there was no blood flow to them meaning everything is great. So, here I am now, on my home stretch of pregnancy and feeling great. Docs are insisting on a c-section due to my incredible history which I am fine with and Cowboy is going to donate blood ahead of time just in case. Ward off the bad ju-ju.

On a side note, after scouring the internet for information on second pregnancies and c-sections I am incredibly irritated by the ignorant opinions (always stated as facts, mind you) towards women who schedule c-sections. There are pages and pages of people saying why not to get a c-section and how vaginal deliveries or VBACS are the "best thing" for your baby and your body and "you should just try". Seriously? I had planned to have both my children delivered through the chute, and as naturally as possible, but in the end you have to decide what is safest and healthiest for both parties. In many many cases women are completely unable to do this and a c-section is indeed the healthiest and safest delivery route for baby and mama's health (I consider avoiding tearing end to end with a stage IV to be medical reasoning enough to have  a C-section as that event can emotionally and physically handicap you for life). C-sections are still a birth and not exactly a pleasant piece of cake either. People need to shut their yaps when they have no idea what they are talking about.  It's infuriating.

Anyways, Little man "R" is kicking like the little cowboy he is and practicing his rodeo skills. He is STRONG, I tell you. I don't recall L-bug being this much of a heavy hitter. L-bug is working on her big sister-ness, doling out tea at her little tea parties (sugar and cream please, stirred not shaken), learning her ABCs and crayon colors, and fostering a healthy addiction to stickers. She's so super awesome in every way possible.

Meanwhile, I've been homesteading and starting to feel the nesting wash over me. I want to clean and organize everything. I received an Instant Pot for Christmas and I am making all kinds of things in it!!! This thing is awesome! I've got yogurt going in it as we speak and I'm finding new recipes on Pinterest. You guys, if you haven't explored the endless depths of Pinterest I'm tell you you must. It is so addicting and a wealth of info on all sorts of topics.

I will be back to give you tried and true recipes using my Instant Pot! I promise!!!