Nearly Normal’s Beans and Rice

For about the last two weeks I’ve been eating black beans, jasmine rice, and a tablespoon or so of Nearly Normal’s Tamari Ginger vinaigrette. And it’s delicious. And addicting.


If you’re not in the Corvallis area, then you can find a ginger vinaigrette at your local grocery store. The Nearly Normal’s vinaigrette does not have any sesame in it, though others I see in the store often do. Amazon also has several, with sesame, that look delicious as well, including this Trader Joe’s one, which is also fat-free! I may have to pick it up the next time I’m in the store.

Trader Joe’s Ming’s Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette


Chocolate Coffee

For about the last year, I’ve been adding cocoa powder to my coffee. Only every now and then, for a treat. Instead of adding the cocoa to the hot coffee in my cup, I add it to the grounds. The result is a subtle chocolatey cup of coffee.

Here are the steps I follow:

1. Choose a yummy cocoa powder.  I use this delicious dark cocoa powder that my brother and his wife sent from Switzerland. It turns out I’m not a big fan of dark hot chocolate but love it in coffee.

Chocolate Coffee 1

Chocolate Coffee 2

2. For 4 cups of coffee, I use 1-2 tablespoons of powder.

Chocolate Coffee 3

3. Cover all of the cocoa with the coffee grounds. The powder tends to foam and froth in the boiling water, so you might have an overflowing filter if you don’t cover it all up.

Chocolate Coffee 4

4. Brew coffee and enjoy!

Chocolate Coffee 5

(5. Of course, I add creamer. Vanilla and chocolate taste delicious!)

Fall Texas Trip – Part 1

At the end of September–the day after my craft fair–the kids and I flew down to Texas with my mom. On Wednesday, the cousins came over to play. This was Benjamin’s first reunion with the cousins and the big wagon since November, so he was excited to play.

Mia and Wade relaxing on the swing

Tommy bonded with Madeleine while the other kids played outside. In fact, whenever we were around him, he held or played with Madeleine for much of the time. Very sweet 🙂

And Ella got in on the loving action, too.

Toddler Revelations – Leaving the House On-Time

I’m a punctual person. Or rather, I’m afraid of being late. This usually means I’m early to most places, which I don’t mind. Like when I arrived at my hairdresser’s 25 minutes early on Saturday in case there was football game traffic. (I sat in the car for 15 minutes so that I would appear to be only 10 minutes early once I casually strolled into the waiting area.) And it was worth it. I don’t like to be late.

So on the first day of pre-school last week, as I scrambled to take my shower late (Madeleine slept in that morning past 7 a.m.!) and feed Benji and then her and get out the camera and brush my teeth, I got a brief taste of how horrible school mornings could be if I were always running behind–i.e., if I don’t get up before the kiddos and get my shower in.

This also led me to another revelation:

“If you look at the clock and think, we need to get in the car now so we can leave in 2 minutes, you’re already late. Sorry.”

Because watching a toddler climb into his car seat “by myself!” and strapping in an infant and then going back around to strap in the toddler and handing back sunglasses and verifying that the backpack and diaper bag and pacifier are all where they’re supposed to be takes longer than 2 minutes.

Homemade Bread with Chia Seeds

As many of you know, I make my family’s sandwich bread. I bake four loaves a week, two at a time, freezing one and storing the other in a breadbox in our pantry. For a year or so, I had been using an easy bread recipe referred to me by my friend, Kristen, who has a lovely cooking blog.

Then my sister started raving about the bread recipes in the classic, Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. I quickly fell in love with the Cuban bread, which requires no butter or milk, so as long as I have bread flour and yeast on hand, I can make it! I love the beautiful rounds of bread, crispy crust, and soft chewy inside. It also only takes about 2 hours from start to finish, including one quick rise. So what could I add to make an already fabulous recipe even better?

Chia seeds!

I had heard of them a year ago from a friend who mentioned all the nutritional benefits (omega-3’s, increased energy, weight loss, etc…) and didn’t feel very convinced. I also hadn’t thought about adding them to bread. And then I ran across the seeds on the King Arthur Flour website while I was browsing for yummies. So I picked some up and added 1 tablespoon (and 1 tablespoon of wheat germ since I mostly used white flour). I also add about 1/4 cup more water to account for the increase in dry ingredients.

The results have been consistently DELICIOUS!

(Those little flecks of black are the seeds.)

I don’t have to grind the seeds and they even taste good raw. I can’t attest to any of the health benefits since I’m probably not consuming enough at this point to see a difference. But I do add them to other foods–smoothies and quick breads–when I think of it.

So if you’re in the mood to try something new (and maybe grow a Chia pet in your tummy?), add a bit to your next batch of bread or meal.

– Here is a copy of the Cuban bread recipe; I too have never used the optional seeds on top.

– For more info on Chia seeds and they’re purported benefits, look here and here.

Homemade Crackers

I ran across this easy recipe for homemade cheese crackers and made some last week. They are yummy and, as I mentioned, so easy! And depending on the size of your cutters, you get as many as 48 crackers out of each batch.

Benjamin is still deciding whether or not he likes them. I’m hoping he will eventually because then I will simply freeze them and thaw out a few at a time.

Here is the recipe for the Crackers.

The finished product! Fluffy and crisp 🙂