Saturday, February 25, 2012

Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (churning my own butter)

Saturdays tend to be major kitchen days for me. On any given day, I spend between 4 and 6 hours in there cooking, doing dishes, and feeding the kids. But on Saturdays, that might turn into upwards of 8 hours, as I do extra food prep, try to use stray stuff that has accumulated throughout the week, and pre-cook for Sunday lunch. Today was one of those days.

After falling asleep just before 9 PM last night, I woke on my own around 5:45 am today. I can count on one hand the nights I get to sleep uninterrrupted each year since having kids. Well, last night was one of those blissful nights. My husband had offered to spend the night in the guest bed with Becky, who had been waking me every half hour all week long to wipe her nose during the night. As a result, I got to sleep with zero interruptions for the full nine hours - yay!!!

I sneaked out of the house without waking anyone for my usual Saturday-morning-run to the produce house. Driving alone in quietness just before dawn is always very pleasurable, as is talking, joking, and doing business with adults. Like most weeks, I was able to score awesome deals, and each of us who splits produce every week ended up with this in our baskets today:

 5 lb bag of russet potatoes
1 lb bag of heirloom fingerling potatoes
1 head of califlower
1 bell pepper
1 bag of romaine hearts
5 avocados
1 lb heirloom tomatoes
1 lb beefsteak tomatoes
11 kiwis
8 oranges
2  bunches of broccoli
8 bananas

All organic, all for $22. I compared it to the sale prices on organic produce advertised in the store fliers this week, and came up with a minimum cost of $42 for all that. Not bad! :)

By the time I got back home and had divided up all the produce, the kids had woken up and were clamoring for breakfast. More specifically, they were demanding requesting strawberry shortcakes. I entered the kitchen, never to leave it again today. Well, almost never. We did all start on a yummy green smoothie (banana, apples, blueberries, blackberries, orange, and spinach), before devouring an insane amount of strawberry shortcakes and milk.

All three girls needed baths after breakfast

Breakfast done, I started ordering the kids around on their weekly chores while I myself set to cleaning the kitchen, doing dishes, and working on a bunch of food prep on the side.

 I made a batch of cilantro pesto and froze it.

Throughout the day, I churned about 6 qts of cream into butter.

I washed, hulled, and froze a whole bunch of strawberries. 

Safeway had them on sale this week for $2.50 each. I think I have shopped at Safeway twice in my entire life, and was never planning on doing so again after their sandwich debacle, but this was too good of a deal to pass up, at least for being this early in the season. We have made a total of 3 trips to different Safeway stores near my house in the last two days, and bought a total of 19 boxes. The kids ate all but 7 of them fresh. I froze the rest just to keep them from gobbling those up, too. I need them for the morning smoothies.

While we were in one of the stores, the kids asked if they could eat some of the strawberries right then and there, on the way to the checkout. I hissed at them to not even think about doing so, or we'd all get arrested. Besides the obvious reason that produce should be washed before eating.

Of course, the family wanted to eat lunch today, as every day. We had "fish and chips", i.e. some breaded and fried cod, homemade fries, and salad. Not too much work, since everything but the salad was leftovers from last night, reheated.

Cleaned the kitchen all over again after getting the girls down for nap time, while the boys were sent off to read quietly. Made a meal plan and shopping list for the coming week. Then, friends from church dropped off a HUGE box of blood oranges for us - these make the best juice!! It will only take me approximately five hundred hours to turn all these into juice, and my family about 5 minutes to drink it all.

Later in the afternoon, I ran to Trader Joe's for a few missing groceries, only to be faced by seven hungry people waiting for dinner upon my return. In light of the "heavy" lunch, and the fact that I did not at all feel like cooking, I served everyone a humble meal of cucumber sandwiches. The fresh butter did make them especially tasty, though, and nobody complained. 

I will start using only seasonally appropriate serving dishes as soon as the kids stop breaking all my nice platters.

Before their showers, all the boys plus my husband needed haircuts - oh joy! Now, everyone is tucked into bed, my last batch of cream is churning, and the kitchen is waiting for a final scrub-down. 

That should have been the end of it for today in the kitchen. Except that my husband just asked me to bake him chocolate chip cookies...


  1. I love days that I actually get to spend all day in the kitchen, but I find it so hard to do with the kids. I am awful when it comes to being interrupted, when I start focusing on something, leave me alone, cause if my concentration is broken I'm miserable and find my energy for the task completely gone. I've only got 4 little ones at home, with one due beginning of August, but I'm literally having to leave my tasks every 5 minutes to deal with diapers, squabbles, and set something else up for them to do. How do you keep the kids occupied and out from under you while you're working?

  2. As usual, Zsuzsanna, you're amazing! :)

    I find that I experience the same thing as Jessica, above. When I try to spend extended time in the kitchen, I end up with a stress-filled household and a lot of frustration. How on earth do you occupy the kidlets?

  3. I would LOVE to know some on the recipes you use for all those veggies you get :)
    Glad you got a full nights sleep before your busy day!
    -Karen E

  4. My first thought reading the article : your husband is such a loving man ! His going to sleep in another bed with your daughter was very generous.

  5. I second the above responses- How do you do it all?

  6. I would LOVE to know how you make butter in your kitchen-aid!!!

  7. I love to be in the kitchen creating food for family and friends. I love that my youngest son (28) calls me to cater parties at his home--he's a crusie ship captain and has access to real chefs and all the food in the world, yet he loves mom's cooking best (as do his friends:)

    I always enjoy reading about your food choices. Your children are so beautifull and so healthy thanks to the love and good nutrition you give them. You are such a good mom.

    --Mrs. Mari

  8. Tell him you'll do it tomorrow.

  9. I have a kitchen-aid mixer that my husband just gave me for our 18th anniversary, I was wondering which attachments you have and which you think are the most useful. Also how do you churn butter? That is something I think the kids and I can try tomorrow during our kitchen part of school time. ( my daughter is 16 so I try to make sure she learns to do everything I do so she can be ready to take care of her own family when the time comes)

    Thank you for your blog, I've been a reader for about a year, but not much of a commenter. I've learned a great deal from you! I just wish I'd know about giving birth at home!

  10. Oh, the joys of being a homemaker! You described them well.


  11. Once again an inspiring and humourous post- I too am wondering what your children do while you are so occupied? You hubby's request for choco chip cookies reminds me of my husband- just as I finally finish washing the dishes and am about to sit down and relax he asks for cookies :o). Of course he asks so sweetly that I always fufill his request :o)

  12. I'm totally with you on the Saturday chaos! I too never seem to leave the kitchen...unless only to press clothes for the next day!

    Amy and I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies just today! My hubby also seems to be extra attentive this evening...wonder why that is! Ha! ;)

  13. tell him to bake his own cookies.

  14. First off, I am sorry if I made anyone feel like less of a homemaker with this post.

    There is a HUGE difference between having only little children, or having older ones as well. The older kids not only set the pace for the younger ones as far as being examples to them to clean up after themselves, being independent, etc., but they also help watch the little ones and contain/clean the chaos.

    Without the older three boys, a day like this would not have been possible. My general rule of thumb would be that the 5-and-under crowd is the one that creates messes when I turn my back, whereas the 6-and-over crowd helps contain these messes, and wrangle the little ones. Now that we are at a point where we have as many big helpers, as little ones, my life is definitely becoming easier every day. As the years go on, I only expect this trend to continue, at which point I hope to get around to much neglected things like wiping baseboards, or deep-cleaning anything.

    So, no, I don't get it all done! :) And I have helpers, not just little mess makers.


    Kitchenaid attachments: I LOVE the slicer/shredder attachment, and use it almost daily. Also, the citrus juicer attachment is fantastic. I have juiced hundreds of lbs of citrus on it over the years. I also have the pasta maker, meat grinder, and sausage stuffer attachments, which I use rarely, but love them when I do.


    To make cream, simply add 1 qt heavy cream at room temperature to the mixing bowl, which should be very clean. With the whipping attachment on, turn to the highest speed at which the cream will not splatter over the edge of the bowl (around 6 or 7?). Leave on for about 20 minutes, until the buttermilk has separated from the butter (see pic in post). You want to keep an eye on the mixer when it gets close to this point, because the milk will slosh over the edges at such high speed and make a mess. Strain through a colander, saving milk to use for cooking or drinking (basically, it's skim milk - unless you culture it to turn it into "real" buttermilk). Rinse butter under cold water, press dry in a clean muslin cloth, and you're done! I also measure and wrap mine into 8 oz logs to make it easier to use.


    Cookies: of course I could have told my husband to make his own. He could also tell me to get my own job and earn my own money if I want to continue to eat only the best foods from local, organic sources. He could also tell me that no, he does not want to pay to raise another child, or buy a bigger van, or on and on. It's called a marriage, which requires sacrifices on the part of both parties. Mutual love makes those sacrifices seem natural, and not burdensome.

  15. Thank you- I love what you said about marriage. I've had to realize I can't get it all done and that's ok, with my three children under 4.:)
    How is Isaac doing?

  16. Actually, the poster suggested that your husband wait for his cookies till the next day, since you were tired. That would truly be showing love, as Christ loves the church.

    I'm not sure what money has to do with it, at all.

  17. anon, please read before commenting:

    Anonymous said...

    tell him to bake his own cookies.

    February 27, 2012 12:24 PM

    And so you can sleep better tonight: I did, in fact, not make the cookies because it was late and I was tired. In fact, I have not made them to this minute.

    My point was that marriage is about giving and taking. I generally take money, and give food, since this is a traditional marriage with one male breadwinner/provider, and one female homemaker.

    I'm not sure what your know-it-all comment has anything to do with Christian love.

  18. I don't know if you've already written about this, but what do you use your cilantro pesto on? I love cilantro, but use it in very typical ways such as in salsa. I'd love to use it in other dishes.

  19. I wonder how many wives have asked their husbands to do something extra for them when he was clearly very tired. I wonder how many women wouldn't think twice about working overtime for their boss? But how dare the man you love ask for ANYTHING when you are tired. Sheesh, the abusive jerk sure has some nerve. *rolls eyes*

  20. Teri, I simply pour it over some boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs in a casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake them in the oven. Tastes great served alongside cilantro lime rice with black beans.

  21. What a day! Sounds like you got quite a bit done and the food sounds just lovely. <3 I love spending time in my kitchen.

  22. I love your blog. I am sitting up too late, taking time for myself after a similarly busy day with homeschooling my four children, handmaking as much food as possible, doing 7 loads of laundry, and getting my oldest two sons to chess club at the local library. Not to mention, making sure to show my husband and my giant alligator/dog plenty of love and affection. It has been six(?) months since we owned a microwave. Making food for us six was a challenge and then my brother (vegetarian for health reasons) and his dog moved back into our home. Some days it feels like I never stop cooking, some weeks even. BUT my brother has his issues and does best when he is around family, which without us, he really has none. My husband's generosity at letting him stay with us alone would amount to mid-night cookies if ever he asked, no matter how tired I was. I agree with your comment about marriage. There is nothing that satisfies me more than knowing that I have done something to please the people who spend their time trying to please me, which my husband and children and, yes, even my brother, all do. No one can always please anyone, or everyone, but if the opportunity presents itself, and it's as easy as cookies? Oh what a world it would be if we all had someone to care enough to make us "cookies."


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