Monday, December 28, 2009

Homemade gifts for the kids

      This year the kids only asked for 2 things for christmas (light saber and kiru figure), so we decided to have some fun making them gifts.  My Mom crocheted them Star Wars amigurumi.

Aren't they sweet?!

Since the kids are totally into tornadoes, of all things, I made them a tornado play set

and storm chasing uniforms (from 2 sweatshirts and striped men's t-shirt)

To continue honing my applique skills, I made A B C beanbags out of old jeans

Then there was my original foray into applique, the R2D2 hat

And finally, My sweetheart husband made the boys a set of wonderful wood blocks

I also made my sister and sis-in-loves aprons out of vintage pillowcases.  I didn't get good pics before wrapping them, sorry :(
For food, besides cookies, I made smores-on-a-stick and hot chocolate-on-a-stick , which I really enjoyed making and tasting!  It was great fun to get some creativity going and the boys really are enjoying their new toys! 
Hope you had a happy, and hopefully creative holiday too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cookies are done!

     I sent my husband off to work with my first cookie tray of the season.  My Grandmother got me started on the tradition of essentially baking from Thanksgiving to Christmas!  She had a whole repetoire of cookies, most which I continue to make.  Here is my official cookie menu for 2009:
Kolachkes (very traditional for my family), Linzer cookies (filled with apricot and fruits of the forest), Buckeyes (another staple in my family), Coconut strawberries (no bake cookie molded into little strawberries, another Grandma fave), gingerbread men, cocoa ginger crisps, peanut butter kisses, tollhouse cookies made with holiday m and m's (grandma is rolling over in her grave--"those ARE NOT christmas cookies!!!", but G-ma, christmas is for kids!), almond cutouts shaped as stars with royal icing and a few frosted in white chocolate, jingle jumbles (spicy with cranberries and raisins), potato chip cookies (made with potato chips!) and a new cookie--playdough cookies done in red/white/green and dipped in sugar.  Whew!
     So the first of my cookie babies have left the nest.  If I get time, there is one more recipe I had planned to try!

This is how I roll!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fun with the kids!

     Christmas generally is a D.I.Y. extravaganza here at Hoffman Haus.  Besides the mountains of cookies being baked, there is always an array of artistic projects ranging from photography, papercraft, sewing, woodworking, etc... splayed out all over the house.  In the midst of all this wonderful madness, there must be time made for your regularly scheduled madness!  So, what kinds of things have been occupying the young minds of the house lately?
     Well, the most popular subject is tornadoes.  The kids are besides themselves with a hunger for info on the topic.  They have favorite tornado videos that they love to have pulled of youtube for their edification.  The baby wakes up every morning asking if tornadoes are hot or cold, then reassures me that they are, and I quote, "violent rotating columns of air."  Wolfie tries his best to educate me on the finer points of tornadoes, like the fact that they love cookies, and that they only like to destroy bad things like wicked witches from the east.  So, I made a binder book entitled "The Hoffman Guide To Meteorological Phenomena."  It has a description of what meteorological phenomena are actually, followed by sections on tornadoes (natch), snow, dew, frost, rain, rainbows, lightning and clouds.  Each section has lots of pictures and short descriptions about the phenomena.  They love it and read it over and over.  It has started an interest in reading the weather report in the paper every morning, checking our thermometer at different times of day to compare temperatures and learning lots of new vocabulary, like precipitation and atmosphere.  The nice thing is that you can make books like this for any topic that interests your child.
     Which brings us to another binder book, "Wolfie's Unabridged Guidebook to Signs".  This kid is obsessed with signs!  It started with the sign on the lid of a large storage bin that shows a baby falling in the bin, complete with red circle and line through it.  Then there was a Curious George episode about signs, which fanned the flames.  We used my printshop program to find pictures of many common and not so common signs to put in the book.  We scanned his many, many individual pictures of homemade signs like "No butts on the table!", and "No squirrels allowed to punch alligators!" and included them in the book.  He pays attention everywhere we go, on the lookout for new signs.  On the up side, he is learning a lot about rules and responsibilities.  He saw a man smoking next to a "No Smoking" sign and politely indicated to the man that he was breaking the rules.  The man actually went across the street to finish smoking!
     Vladdie, on the other hand, is our art guy.  Artist, appreciator of art, critic, and discoverer of art in odd locations, he craves "more art please!"  So he has "The Hoffmanhaus Gallery Guide to Art".  I photographed anything in the house that qualifies as art.  There was a surprising amount!  Printed out and put into a book, he now has lots of beautiful art to appreciate when he isn't busy writing on the walls!
     That is the beauty of these D.I.Y. books.  They can be personal and meaningful as well as educational and entertaining.  Plus, they used up a few old binders I scrounged from somewhere and the backsides of paper that only had one side used, so they are even sort of green too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vegetarian breakfast sausage

My husband really loves the spices/herbs in sausage, but as a vegetarian has been disappointed with the products available at the grocery store.  I set out to re-work the seitan recipe again, this time as a substitute for sausage.  Tonight we had wholewheat pancakes, scrambled eggs and this sausage.  A totally delicious dinner on a really cold, windy, wet night!  Now if only I can find a veggie hotdog recipe, they are up to $4.59 at the local store, Nature's Bin!!!  That is crazy!

Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage

1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Basil
2 tsp. thyme
½ tsp Marjoram 
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp. Sage
1/2 Tbsp. Carroway seeds (toast lightly, if you like)

1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
3 cloves of diced garlic

Pre-heat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and garlic.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix them together (if you have a mixer with a bread hook, use that and skip the hand kneading. Just mix until no longer sticky then continue mixing about 2-3 minutes longer), the dough will become stiff; at that point, work with your hands until all the ingredients are mixed, then start kneading.

The seitan will become very elastic, and will not stick to your hands when it's finished.

Roll it into 8-inch log and close in foil.

Close foil tightly, place on baking sheet and bake for approximately 70 minutes. Remove; it is fully cooked and ready to eat. Also freezes well. Enjoy!