Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Garden/ more cooking trouble

In the spring I had the idea to plant a little garden that would give the girls and I something to do and hopefully teach us some gardening skills so, someday, when the navy is not moving us all over creation we can plant a big garden in a yard of our own.
We planted some sunflowers, pumpkins, and corn. They all seem to be doing well. In fact, I found a pumpkin plant growing next to the garbage can! I guess one of the seeds we through out didn't quite make it in. Despite Dad mowing over it and no care from us it has a blossom on it. We are excited to see what will happen with our plants.
For my birthday my mom gave me a cake decorating book. So yesterday I spent all afternoon and evening working on these petit fours. The cake turned out just fine. It cut up nicely, but The frosting recipe turned out badly. No matter how many times I poured it over the fours it just left this sad thin coating over them. Sam was nice and said they were good, but I thought they were just gross and soggy. I think next time I will either make a real ganache to pour over it, or use my regular frosting recipe.

Dutch Oven success!!!
This morning I made German pancakes in the dutch oven and it worked out great!!!
I got a great dutch oven book from the library that taught me 2 VERY important things.
  1. When placing the briquettes, always put 1/3 of them on the ground and the other 2/3 on the lid of the oven
  2. Rotate the oven during the cooking process. This will help it to cook evenly.

The book is called The Beginner's Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking

It called for:

  • 18-23 briquettes
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter.
  • powder sugar to sprinkle on top when cooking is done.


  1. While the briquettes are getting ready, put the butter in oven in a warm place to melt, and mix all the other ingredients together in a separate bowl. (make sure to start with dry ingredients, make a well in the center and then add wet ingredients.)
  2. When butter is melted, rotate oven to coat the sides and pour the remaining butter in the bowl and mix it into the batter.
  3. Pour the batter into the dutch oven, cover and place the briquettes with tongs so that 1/3 of them are on the bottom and 2/3 of them are on the top.
  4. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Being sure to rotate the oven about every ten minutes to insure even cooking.
  5. Before removing from the briquettes make sure the food is completely cooked.
  6. Sprinkle with powder sugar and serve.

Stick Name Tags:

When I was growing up, I got a stick name tag or necklace a few of the years I was at camp, so I made some for our girls. I put them on their water bottles in hopes that they won't use the wrong bottle and exchange germs. (All the bottles are the same.) The best part of the stick tags is that they are free! The worst part is that because I didn't have a table saw, it was a lot of hard work to cut them out. I had to use a hand saw, I suppose my arm muscles are better for it.

To make a stick name tag:
  1. Find a stick outside that is about 2 or 3 inches thick.
  2. cut the pieces so they are about 1/2-1 inch thick. (If you don't have a very big stick you can cut the stick on an angle instead of straight across. This will give more surface area for the name.)
  3. Use a drill and make 1 hole in the top of each piece.
  4. Write the names on the wood with a permanent marker
  5. use ribbon, yarn, raffia or leather ribbon to make the necklace or attach the tag.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Burned Yet again!!!

Yesterday I went to the storage unit for camp and pulled out some "real" cooking items so I didn't have to keep using my solar oven. I tried to make some rolls in the dutch oven. They turned out good, except for the fact that they were burned badly on the bottom. (Good thing I'm practicing so much before we go camping, otherwise these girls would be loosing a lot of weight at camp.)
I don't know the exact reason they burned. I think it was because I had too many briquettes on the bottom of the oven, or because of the foil reflecting heat under the oven. (I put the foil down so i didn't ruin the patio.) I am going to try again soon with less briquettes under the oven.
Another unsecsessful cooking project:
I decided to try something that seemed to need a little less heat before I was willing to toss out my solar oven. (Mostly because I spent a LONG time making the stupid thing.) So I used one of the recipies that was in the book that I found the directions for the oven. It was a granola bar recipe.

3 cups of quick oats
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
3 TBSP butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chocolate chips
1 cup crasins (dried cranberries)

  1. Let the oven heat up in the sun for a 1/2 hour.
  2. Grease a muffin tin with 1 TBSP of the butter.
  3. mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. spoon mixture into muffin tin and press.
  5. place in oven, cover with plastic wrap and cook for 20-30 minutes.


  • I was a little sceptical, so I did the same thing in the indoor oven at 200 degrees.
  • Both ovens cooked the tops cooked just fine, but the bottoms were still all gooey. So I emptied the muffin tins and spread the filling over 2 cookie sheets all broken up. This seemed to work just fine.
  • I can't say an exact time to cook it at because I accidentally forgot it was in there and preheated the oven for dinner. Only to find it burning when I put tried to put my dinner in. :) One tray was actually salvageable and didn't burn too bad. I ate it after the girls were in bed and decided that I would try it again another day.

Game plan:

  • Forget the Solar oven: Sounds like Stacy would have told me to do this before I began this process :)
  • Make another batch and just spread it out onto 2 cookie sheets. Put one in the sun and another in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes check on them and go from there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Solar Oven:

Today I tried to make brownies in a solar/reflector oven. It didn't quite work out. In fact, it was a complete failure. I got the directions for making the oven in a kid's book called cooking in a can. And I used a recipe from another book. I was SO disappointed, I put some brownies in at 11am and when we got home after church at 4, they were still basically batter. I think we will need to build a fireside reflector oven if we try this again. (I have some directions for one of those in another book.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ball-Toss Ice Cream
  • 2 (1 quart) zip lock bags
  • 2 (1 gallon) zip lock bags
  • 1 (8lb bag) of ice
  • 1/2 cup rock salt
  • newspaper
  • heavy duty tape
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Nesquick chocolate or strawberry powder flavoring (optional)


  1. place all ingredients (Milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and flavoring) in one of the quart sized bags. Squeeze out all the air, seal the bag and swish it around a bit to mix everything well.
  2. Place the bag inside of the other quart sized bag and seal it.
  3. put some ice into the bottom of one of the gallon sized bags, filling it about 1/2 way. Put the quart sized bags on top of the ice, then filled the rest of the gallon size bag with ice.
  4. sprinkle the rock salt over the ice inside of the bag and seal the bag.
  5. Put it inside of the second gallon sized bag and seal it.
  6. Wrap the bag with a lot of newspaper and strong tape like duct tape or packing tape.
  7. Toss the ice cream ball for about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Unwrap and enjoy the cream. (Makes about 3 cups)

This was yummy! We made the chocolate ice cream during our babysitting swap this week and the kids had a great time. Sam really got in there and played with the kids to make sure the ice cream was good. They did a solid 20 minutes of tossing around the ice cream ball. It was so yummy we want to try the strawberry one for FHE. We might even try it with dry milk.

Brown bag breakfast:

Ingredients/tools-1 serving per bag

  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1-2 eggs
  • dry brown lunch bag
  • salt and pepper
  • BBQ briquettes
  • Tongs


1.)Prepare your BBQ briquettes or fire.

2.)Line the bottom of the bag with bacon. The grease moistens the bag and keeps it from burning.

3.)Crack eggs on top of bacon. If you like scrambled eggs stir them in a brown, then poor into bag.

4.)Season with salt and pepper, then fold down top of bag 3 or 4 times, being sure to stop folding before you reach the food.

5.)place bag on prepared BBQ briquettes or coals of fire for 10-20 minutes. Food is done when eggs look cooked.

We tried this recipe this morning and liked that it was simple. we cooked our bags for about 15 minutes. Parts of the eggs seemed to be a little rubbery and other parts, though cooked, were a little to runny for my taste. I think I will try it again in a few days with scrambled eggs to see if they cook more evenly.

Also, the bottom of the bags were a little bit burned and stuck to the food. I thought it would be hard to peal it off, but it wasn't too hard.

The only thing I didn't like was that the bacon was floppy. Sam likes his that way, but I prefer mine crispy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

PJ Pants for Girls camp:
I have not been posting any new projects recently because most of my spare time has been used for girls camp! These are the PJ pants we have been working on. Last night the girls got to sew their pants together. It was a great activity and it seemed like everyone had a fun time, no one got too frustrated and I think all the girls but one finished their pants!

I began this PJ pant journey last month when I was told that it is a tradition in our ward to have matching PJ pants at camp. So I looked at fabric on line, pulled an old pattern out of my pattern box and it took off from there.

I did the math and according to the pattern, we needed to have 47 yards of fabric! So I knew I couldn't just go down to walmart and buy it. I went online and found Joann fabrics to have the best prices. I showed the girls about 8 different fabric choices and everyone had a different favorite. but this striped fabric seemed to be something that everyone at least said that they liked, even if it wasn't their favorite. By the time I ordered the fabric it wasn't on sale anymore, I used a coupon, but it was about $1 more a yard than it would have been if I had got it during the sale.

After I ordered the fabric, I was reviewing the receipt so I could turn it in to be reimbursed. And then I noticed that they were only going to send me 27 yards! that's a little more than 1/2 of what I needed. I decided that I would just take a trip out of town to some JoAnn Fabric stores in the area to get the amount I needed.

We had planed for the activity to be last Thursday, but Thursday came and I didn't have any fabric on my doorstep. So I called and they said that someone else ordered the fabric the same time I did and it turned out that they were only going to be able to send me 25 yards of fabric. And that is what delayed the order. So I had to make some quick phone calls and inform everyone that the activity would be switched to next week. Just in case there was another shipping problem, I went out of town that weekend to get the extra fabric I needed.

I washed it and began cutting out the pieces for each girl to have a pair to sew at the activity. Even though I had gotten some extra fabric, I was still 7 yards short. So I came up with a creative cutting idea. Instead of following the pattern, I cut the fabric from salvage to salvage. This made the stripes go vertical instead of horizontal and used less fabric per piece. The only problem was that it was a few inches too short. So I made some pattern directions to sew a decorative trim for the hem instead of just folding the bottoms in and stitching them in place. Another benefit of having the salvages at the waistband and at the hem was that the girls didn't need to worry about double folding them when they sewed to keep them from unraveling (saving fabric and time.) I also made little name tags for them to sew into the pants so they don't get their pants mixed up at camp. The fabric I ordered arrived a few days before the activity. So I washed a bolt of it and we used it at the activity.
Things went VERY smoothly at the activity. I couldn't believe how UNstreesed out I was. I was sure I would be going crazy the whole time. But we had 1 adult to each girl, and a few adults who were non-sewers. So I spent most my time supervising. our Non-sewers brought refreshments, fans, power strips, extension cords, and basically set up the room for me. We used the long banquet tables at the church and had 2 machines at each table. We had 8 girls in total making their pants.

I have 2 1/2 bolts of the fabric left. I still have to make pants for the girls who were not at the activity, for the leaders, and something for the priesthood that will be at camp. But I think I will still have about 1 bolt left. I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the fabric. Should I not turn in 1 of my receipts and keep the fabric and if so, what should I make with it? Or should I turn in all the fabric receipts and save it for next year so they can make pants for just the new girls and the girls who went this year can bring the ones they made this year?

What would you do with a bolt of cute stripe fabric like this?