Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Healthy Homemade Fish Sticks

I discovered a "real food" fish stick recipe. I made it for dinner tonight, and everyone thought it was really good. I found the recipe in a magazine, but I can't seem to find an online version I can link to. So here it is, with my "tweaks."

Homemade Healthy Fish Sticks
1 lb. firm fish (I used cod)
1/2 cup (or so) olive oil (You're only going to toss the fish in this oil, so the measurement doesn't have to be exact. As a matter of fact, you can use any kind of oil you'd like.)
1 cup bread crumbs (I bought panko crumbs for this recipe, but any dry bread crumb would be good.)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. EACH onion powder and garlic powder (I just dumped some into the bowl without measuring exactly.)
1/4 tsp. dillweed (optional)
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Pat down fish until dry. Slice into fish stick shapes. Put remaining ingredients (bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, onion powder, and garlic powder) into a medium bowl. Toss fish sticks in olive oil just until coated, then toss in bread crumb mixture. Bake fish sticks on a greased baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle with salt, if necessary, before serving.

I forgot to spray my baking sheet with nonstick spray, and they stuck pretty bad. So learn from my mistake, and don't forget to grease your baking dish!

This is supposed to serve 4. (Yeah, right! Not my hungry family!) It served Honey, my two boys, and me. My two boys are 1 and 3, so this recipe probably serves more like 3.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished recipe. My boys were ready to inhale them the minute they came out of the oven!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Senior Prom!

Saturday night was daughter's Senior Prom. What a beauty she is! Here are some photos.

Her two little brothers "oohed and ahhed" over her! In fact, my three year old said, "I like your pwom dwess!"

She and her date are just friends. He's a sweet boy, but he was sooooo nervous when he came to pick her up! He's a good kid. He feels called to be a missionary, but he doesn't know where he wants to go yet.

She found the dress for $70 last summer. Her earrings were $2.60 on clearance at Kohl's. Her shoes were a gift from her grandmother. She did her own makeup, and it turned out beautifully!), but I paid for her to get her hair done. I thought it was pretty. It was a French braid down one side, then tied up in a "messy bun" on the other side. I put the little hair jewels in it after we got home. She did her own nails. Her toenails were a lavender that matched her dress, and her fingernails were a soft pink glittery polish with French tips.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A New Baby (well, sort of...)

One of my daughter's classes has a requirement that each student keep one of these "babies" for three days:

Ready or Not Tot

This "simulator" doll cries for various reasons. It's the "parent's" job to figure out what needs to be done to make the crying stop. There are sensors in the doll to let the teacher know if the baby was allowed to cry for too long. An "abuse" button lights up on the doll, and the "parent" gets a failing grade for the project.

Here's the new addition, sitting on the kitchen counter, right next to the coffee maker (GASP!)

The "real" kids in our house are fascinated with her. Here's the proud big brother (uncle--wow, that sounds weird), who thought she needed a stacking toy to play with.

After one night with this doll, I see a few life lessons for teens who think they want a baby (and others that are not-so-real-life lessons):

Real Life Lesson #1: Babies require constant attention. Our daughter had to take the doll with her into the bathroom while she showered last night.
Not-So-Real-Life Lesson #1: This baby sat on the toilet seat while daughter took a shower.

Real Life Lesson #2: Babies cry in the middle of the night.
Not-So-Real-Life Lesson #2: Turning a key in the baby's back makes her be quiet. (Oh, if it were only that simple!)

Real Life Lesson #3: Babies need babysitters while Mom's at work. Our daughter had one of her friends keep the baby while she worked last night.
Not-So-Real-Life Lesson #3: You can drive a baby home in the front seat of a car with nothing more than a shoulder belt:

(Doesn't that just look wrong?!)

My daughter has plenty of real-life experiences with actual babies. After all, she stayed home overnight with our middle son (who was 16 months old at the time) while our youngest was being born. She's babysat her brothers plenty of times. If anyone could give a lecture about waiting for parenthood, she could! She's going to be a great Mama someday. (Just not too soon, please... She's already teasing me about being "grandma" to this doll!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

A blog article worth noting

I wanted to pass along a great blog article I recently read: Interruptions

This blog entry really, really helped me the last couple of days.

Lately my list of "things to do" each day has grown faster than I can accomplish the things on it. Sometimes I'll wonder if I'll ever catch up! So when I'm really busy doing household chores, homeschool lesson plans, Wednesday night kids' music plans, gardening chores, etc., I can get pretty annoyed when I'm interrupted. And well, let's face it--as the mother to three kids, wife to a full-time college student with massive amounts of writing to be proofread, and keeper of a dog and cat, I get interrupted a lot.

This blog entry helped me find a new perspective on daily interruptions. Georgene, the author, wrote that each day of our lives are precisely timed and planned according to God's perfect will for us.

What? You mean God meant for my kid to tell me he has to go potty right as I was about to fold a pile of laundry? Yep, that's right. God planned for my 3 year old to spill a big cup of ice water all over his shirt and scream like a banchee? Just so I'd have to turn off the food I'm cooking on the stove, go into his dresser, find a new shirt he wants to wear, help him change the wet shirt, and get him busy doing something else constructive? Then I can go back to cooking? That's correct!

God orchestrated that moment, and who am I to tell God He was wrong?

So the last few days, I have been making a conscious effort not to view such episodes as "interruptions", but instead as "divine encounters." God means for us to have these mundane appointments with the people in our lives. We can be grouchy and make the people we love think they are a hassle to us, or we can nuture them and honor God through it.

Lord, help me remember that the people in my life are here by Your design. Help me do the daily work You have for me happily, enjoying the "divine encounters" You've planned for me each day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A New Allergy?

About 15 years ago, Honey and I ate at a local Mom and Pop restaurant, and I broke out in hives all over my body. I mean ALL OVER. I'll spare you the details, but that night I slept with my clothes and shoes on in case Honey needed to rush me to the ER. The next day, my doctor gave me some prednisone shots and suggested I was probably allergic to a preservative. No other testing was done.

About 8 years ago while we were living in Germany, the same thing happened. I ate a cookie at an elementary school Thanksgiving party,  and I broke out all over. This time I was admitted overnight into a German hospital.

After that incident, my doctor ordered allergy testing to narrow down what I might be allergic to. I tested positive for lamb and shellfish. But I have never eaten any of those things to my knowledge, so that didn't really give me any helpful info. (I'm also allergic to nitrous oxide, but that test wasn't done. I just know it from a bad dental visit as a teenager.) The doctor suggested I was probably allergic to a preservative, but there was really no way to test for those types of allergies outside of a hospital admission. Maybe things have changed since then, but I have never had any other allergy tests.

This past week, I started having some weird sensations after I ate different foods. Last Friday, I had a salad with store-bought Ranch dressing. About 20 minutes later, it felt like I was having a panic attack. My heart raced and fluttered, and I was short of breath. It was a very scary feeling. I felt numb in my lips, cheeks, and fingers. I was antsy and felt like pacing the room. It was not a sensation I care to repeat. It lasted for about 90 minutes. In the back of my mind I felt like I might need to call a doctor, but I wasn't in pain, so I thought I'd wait.

On Saturday, Honey and I took the boys to Chick-fil-A for lunch. 20 minutes later, I got the same symptoms. Not pleasant at all!

On Sunday, I ate some Chex Mix and had the same reaction.

Monday morning, I woke up with a wicked headache like I've never had before.

I read the ingredient list on the Chex Mix and discovered it has MSG. Could I be allergic? I decided to look further.

The bottled Ranch dressing also has MSG. I checked Chick-fil-A's nutrition facts. Yep, MSG is in their chicken.

I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, so I ate just a little bit more Chex Mix and decided to really pay attention to see if it was "all in my head." Nope, 20 minutes after I ate it, I got the same fluttery, beating-too-hard heartbeat, shortness of breath, panicky mood, and a feeling of tingling numbness in my cheeks, lips, and fingers.

I looked up "MSG allergy" on the Internet.  Guess what the symptoms are: shortness of breath, fluttery heart palpitations, numbness in fingers and lips, and a pulsing headache.

Today I have been very careful to only eat "real" foods. Of the store-bought food I did eat (a Nutri-Grain bar), I checked the ingredients list to be sure it was MSG-free. I feel great! No symptoms at all!

I usually try to eat as well as I can, but I got lax recently trying to get ready for Easter. This experience is just another incentive to keep eating only "real" food I make at home.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The little tomato that could

About a month ago, I planted some seeds in little dixie cups to replace the earlier seeds that never sprouted.

Some of those replacement seeds sprouted, and I tranplanted them into the garden. I just left the non-sprouted dixie cups in their trays and, well, got lazy and left them where they were.

Yesterday I decided I really needed to plant my cantalope seeds, so I thought I'd use the dixie cups from the nonsprouted seeds.

Imagine my surprise to find a little tomato seedling in a cup! There he was, all alone in his little cup, just waiting to be discovered. I hadn't watered the seeds cups in about two weeks, either, but he was still healthy and doing fine.

I transplanted him into a corner of the garden, right next to the asparagus. So now I have nine tomato plants! No worries, we love tomatoes, and I'll can what we don't eat fresh.

(By the way, I still didn't get those cantalope seeds started! Maybe this afternoon...)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen Indeed!

I shared this video last year, but it's absolutely my favorite contemporary Easter song. Happy Resurrection Day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garden Update

I have about 60 green beans growing like crazy! I planted 44 corn, all but about 7 have sprouted. Given that the corn seeds were 5 years old, I'm very pleased.

I have three tomato plants growing very happily in their pots. Honey found five 5-gallon buckets on the side of the road today. He looked them over, discovered they had been used as someone else's planting containers, so he brought them home. I'll try to get more tomatoes in them soon.

I have two spaghetti squash that sprouted. I tried to give them extra room in the garden, because they're not trellised. I have some kind of mystery volunteer sprout in my beets bed. I think it looks like a cucumber sprout, but I didn't plant any cucumber seeds in that area. I'm going to leave it alone to see what it actually is. (A few years ago, the year after my exploding watermelon fiasco, I had a volunteer watermelon in my potato patch. I am excited to discover what is volunteering itself in my beets bed this year! It'll be like Christmas in July!)

The day after I bought new asparagus crowns to add to my one lone survivor, another fern sprouted up. So now I've got 8 crowns! My bird netting seems to be doing a good job of keeping the critters away from my blueberry bushes. I have one bush that has quite a few blueberries, but the others seem kind of sparse. I know that blueberries only form on second-year growth, so maybe that is an issue? Although I didn't prune the bushes at all last year, so I don't know what the deal is...)

The broccoli, collard greens, cucumbers, yellow squash, peppers, carrots, and zucchini are all happy in the garden. The beets are growing slowly, as are the scallions. The radishes are getting bigger more quickly, though.

I am not optomistic about my lettuce and spinach. I really hope they don't bolt before I can harvest them! I still want to put some in tubs on the shady side of the shed.

The marigolds I planted from seeds are tucked into various places throughout the garden in hopes of keeping unwanted bugs away. I'll collect the seeds from them for next year. (That's one skill I'd like to learn for food plants. I have never saved seeds from my food crops, and I'm interested in learning different ways to do it. Not having to buy seeds makes gardening more frugal!)