Our Family

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches made easier

With the advent of nicer weather, we've been spending every morning possible outside! While the kids ride their bikes, chase balls, or play in their "clubhouse" (a big bush in the yard!), I mow the grass (we have a reel mower), pull weeds, or hang laundry -- in between breaking up quarrels and capturing escapee Moshe!

When it's time to come inside, we're HUNGRY. I mean, who wouldn't get hungry driving a car on foot:

...or playing with a snail:

...or improving soccer skills?!

If I don't have beans cooked, PB & Honey is our go-to lunch sandwich (except for the baby). The only problem with PB & Honey is that it's sticky and gooey and I don't have a honey bear so it's just plain hard to do, especially in a hurry.

Peanut butter and honey sandwich shortcut

My solution? Mix the peanut butter and honey together in a bowl before spreading onto bread. It thickens up nicely, no longer being greasy from the natural peanut butter that I just haven't stirred well enough OR drippy-sticky with gobs of honey. Perfect! :)

Peanut butter and honey sandwich shortcut
So much less messy! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, we need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. How to de-gas beans (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
2. How to season an iron skillet (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
3. How to tell if an egg is bad (Living So Abundantly)
4. No-touch bread making method (Georgia at Georgia's Cookie Jar)
5. Stir-fry is faster than drive-thru (The Local Cook)
6. How to make a butterfly cake (Purposely Frugal)
7. Tips for homemade bread (Laura at The Frugal Kitchen)
8. Tip for making multiple batches (Cheryl at The Bz House That Love Built)
9. Freeze raw ground beef in meal-size portions (Nony at A Slob Comes Clean)
10. Mass-produce sandwiches for a crowd (Jessi at Quirky Cookery)
11. Canning and pickling beets (Jodi at LG Family Farm)
12. Lacto-fermentation tips (Kara from Taste is Trump)

The Piggy: A cutting board of memories (and then some!)

Piggy cutting board

Sixty years ago, my grandma was given a hand-made piggy cutting board. (Hers is still in use but quite worn and not pictured here.)

Thirty years ago, my parents were given a copy of the piggy cutting board as a wedding gift, hand-made by two of my dad's younger brothers. (Pictured at top)

When we were in Ohio last month, my dad made a new one and gave it to me to bring home with us! (Pictured at bottom) This may be the only pig that ever enters my kitchen! ;)

A thick, solid maple cutting board, hand-cut by my dad with the help of my boys. What a lovely surprise! And such a fun legacy to see continued! :) And for a pig... it's pretty cute. ;)

Making the cutting board...

Now the hard decision... to use The Piggy, or just keep it on display? I think I'll start using it. Apparently it's built to last... and replaceable! :)

Here's another thing from my childhood: Oatmeal Apple Raisin Muffins. What could be a better breakfast than warm-from-the-oven whole grain muffins?! My mom makes these, and everyone loves them. My children devour them whenever I make them. I can't believe it took me this long to finally put up the recipe! :)

Yehoshua frosting cupcakes with my mom
My mom, frosting cupcakes with Yehoshua :)

One person said they would like to know:

"...what you do to spend time with your mom when you are there? Cooking? Games?"

Mostly we just did normal everyday stuff while we were visiting. My mom helped Yehoshua with his math school work, which was a fun change of pace for him. :) We all pitched in with dishes, cooking, and laundry. My mom took the kids for wagon rides or walks. There were a few things I wanted to do with my mom (like making her homemade egg noodles!) but we didn't get to due to being sick for about 2 weeks of our visit! :)

Whatever my mom was doing, she tried to involve at least one of the kids! :) My dad did the same, in the evenings and on the weekends, when he was home. The boys got to help with lots of projects and work around the farm! Taking 4-wheeler rides on the property was a favorite activity, as was ground hog hunting. :)

Yehoshua, helping on the farm
Yehoshua, pushing the wheel barrow. Outside activities that involved the wheelbarrow were extra fun!

Vacation highlights :)

Yehoshua (7)
Yehoshua (7) with a "Jack-in-the-Pulpit" he found outside :)

Thank you so much for the warm welcome back... your sweet comments are such a blessing. :) Here are just a few pictures from our time in Ohio! I'll share more recipes next week. We're having a perfect day here in Seattle -- 70 degrees and brightly sunny! -- and I just want to be outside playing! And after 2 years in an apartment, we are ALL loving being able to go outside in our own little yard! :)

Watching the rain
The children were watching the rain POUR down... much heavier than I've ever seen Seattle rain. ;)

Ohio in May was very rainy! I think it rained probably 3/4 of the days we were there! Of course, that seemed "normal" for spring for us. ;) What didn't seem normal was the one day where it was sunny and 85 degrees! I don't miss that hot weather at all!! :)

Mom and Moshe washing dishes
There were nearly always some dishes needing washed, and Moshe (16 months) loved being the helper! Here he is with my mom one morning. :)

Along with the rainy May, we got a cold (or colds?) that lasted for over 2 weeks! This resulted in some near-sleepless nights and a very fussy Moshe (who just got a new molar in too). Thankfully, we returned home to Joshua well enough that he didn't get sick too. :)


Forgive the blurry picture, but everyone was moving (including me, I guess!). My sister Amy (18) knitted two big ropes for the boys to play Indiana Jones. Here, Eliyahu and Ruth had asked to be leashed like doggies. :)

I thought that a 4-week trip would seem like a long time, but it really didn't. It came to an end, like most things do, even though I forgot it would, and then it was time to come home. Yehoshua was in tears at having to leave his aunts (who still live at my parents' house), as he had spent every day with them.

pinata!
We made a pinata! (Supplies: 1 balloon, newspaper strips, flour, and water.) It took quite a lot of time. We filled it with things we already had (haha!) and the kids had fun breaking it open. :)

But I love being home and with Joshua again! Joshua missed us as much as we missed him, and had more than a few surprises waiting for me. (I feel very spoiled!) And the first weekend we were back (last weekend), we took a road trip across Washington to visit my brother, his wife, and my new little nephew! :)

The good part about not having internet access at my parents' house was that there wasn't pressure to update this website... except when it was planned ahead and I would be somewhere with internet access. I liked that! The bad part is that not much gets "done" online. ;) Thanks for letting me be "me" -- unprofessional and untimely at times. :)

Homemade granola bars & misc. vacation bits :)

My mom with stuff from her garden

I spied my mom bringing in some kale and asparagus from her garden this week, and I had to take a picture of the overflowing bowl of kale! :) We've been enjoying Turkey Sausage Kale Soup and Asparagus and Onions made with fresh ginger root -- what a treat!

The children LOVE my mom's Energy Bars. My mom created/adapted these bars over the past 10+ years and they're really good! I don't usually make them, so they're a real treat for the kids to get to eat them for breakfast. We ate all my mom had made, so I mixed up another batch with Ruth's help. :)

Ruth helps
Ruth (3) helps...

Energy Bars recipe
The lovely finished granola bars! :)

All of the children have been having loads of fun doing group things and things one-on-one with my parents and their aunts and uncles. And of course, all the different books, toys and games, playing outside, playing music... the possibilities are nearly endless! :)

I raided my sisters' tea stash and we've been drinking lots of tea together. I loved the Two Leaves and a Bud tea they had... so wonderful! My mom's teapot has been in near-constant use and rests under clean kitchen towels, filled with warm tea. :)

Sunshine in my kitchen: Eliyahu's apple pies

The children enjoying their pies

Last weekend, Eliyahu (5) asked Joshua to help him make pie. So, they did! At one point, Joshua was in the kitchen with Eliyahu, Ruth (3) and Moshe (1), working on the pies. (I escaped to the living room and played Risk with Yehoshua (6)!) I think I got some extra sympathy for my task of cooking with all the kids "helping" after that. ;)

I had sliced apples for with our dinner that night, and Eliyahu used a butter knife to chop up all the leftover slices (with peeling on!). Joshua made pie crust in the food processor (so much easier). They used my mom's Perfect Apple Pie recipe. Apple pie is probably my all-time favorite pie... it's just SO GOOD.

Apple pie!

I has a scoop of homemade peach frozen yogurt on my hot apple pie. Way too good!!! :)

Moshe got stuck...

And while I'm posting about the kids... here is a picture of Moshe I took this week. He opened the oven drawer (the stove/oven was off, of course), climbed inside, and then was asking me to help him get back out. ;) It was so cute to see him stuck in there! :)

Sunshine in my kitchen: More birthday fun

We're finished with this year's "birthday season", as my birthday was last weekend. I decided to make Jewish Apple Cake for my birthday cake, partly because we had apples, partly because it's an easy cake that tastes really great, and mostly because I needed to get way better pictures of the finished cake so I could convince more people to make it. ;) (The Jewish Apple Cake recipe was added to this website over 4 years ago!)

The cake can be served with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top, and it's near-perfect that way. I had the grand idea of making a frosting instead, this time. I mean, birthday cake does need to have frosting, right? :)

I decided to make a fluffy caramel frosting. Caramel frosting atop apple cake just sounded right! The only small problem was that the frosting called for powdered sugar, and my giant Costco-sized bag of powdered sugar was nearly empty... with no backup bag. All year long, I rarely use powdered sugar -- but birthday season had wiped out my supply!

But, I remembered that both Shirley and Laura make powdered sugar in their blenders, so I decided to try it. I did a cup of sugar at a time, but our poor blender just wouldn't quite powder it. Even after many minutes. But it was partly-powdered, so I hoped it'd work. (And, I'd just used my last 2 cups of organic sugar on this experiment! :P)

Making powdered sugar in the blender... kinda...

Well, for future reference, partly-powdered sugar is not the same as completely-powdered sugar, especially when it comes to frosting. My frosting was gritty, stiff, and more like a greasy play dough than a frosting.

Still optimistic, I used my hands to pat it onto the top of half of my cake. It looked pathetic, and actually tasted so wrong that we peeled it back off when we served the cake! (Maybe I won't be so keen on experimenting with expensive ingredients next time!)

While I was making a half-flopped birthday cake for myself, Joshua was ready to surprise me.

When it comes to presents, I know I can be difficult to buy for because, well, I am picky and don't like to have things I won't love and use. And since I know I'm picky, I don't get upset or offended when I don't get gifts from Joshua on every special occasion. :)

But this year? I opened up all this stuff!

Birthday gifts

Joshua put so much thought and love into picking out these things for me.

Unknown to me, he researched coffee and espresso makers and got me an awesome coffee/espresso press called the AeroPress. And some quality coffee! And a Dr. Laura book that he thought would be an encouragement to me. (Can I just say how awesome it is to be married to a man who supports me fully in being a stay-at-home mom?!)

Psalm CDs

New Psalm CDs! We sing Psalms together during our evening family devotions. It's a fun way to memorize Scripture. :)

So anyway, my birthday was memorable and fun. :) Some day I'll try that frosting recipe again... and do it right. :)

Our other birthday celebrations this year:

Eliyahu

Ruth & Moshe

Pumpkin birthday cake!

This might be unconventional, but nearly every year someone in our house has this pumpkin cake for their birthday! It's an amazing cake: moist and spongey, spicy and sweet, with a creamy homemade frosting spread on top.

If you're starting with fresh pumpkins, this cake will take some time start-to-finish, but if you've already got some canned or frozen pumpkin puree, it's a snap to mix up this cake and frosting!

I made pumpkin cake last year for Ruth's birthday -- and then Moshe was born ON her birthday, so their first shared birthday and cake was pumpkin sheet cake! This year, I used my last pumpkin to again make them some pumpkin birthday cake. :)

Ruth on her birthday!

Ruth's birthday gift was a cupcake decorating set! We visited some friends last fall who had this same toy, and all of our children loved it and played with it nearly the entire time we were visiting them.

Melissa & Doug cupcake play set

So when in December, MoneySavingMom.com posted about some Melissa & Doug toys that were 50% off at Amazon.com and I saw the cupcake set was one of them, we bought it and saved it for Ruth's birthday. She was surprised and extremely excited! :) Nearly a week has passed and the cupcakes are still being used daily by the children. It's so cute to see Ruth presenting a cupcake to her doll and singing "Happy Birthday"! :)

Melissa & Doug shapes clock

Ruth wasn't the only recipient of a 50% off Melissa & Doug toy. ;) Moshe's gift was this shape sorting clock. While Moshe has played with it some, I think it will be most useful as an addition to our preschool "school" supplies. :)

We celebrated the birthdays with a family brunch at our house, ending with cake, songs, and candles! Ruth turned 3 and Moshe turned 1. :)

Photo tour of my new kitchen (and video!)

My kitchen

I love my kitchen! It's spacious and bright, with more cupboards than I can fill. When we were looking for rental houses, I didn't dare to dream of finding one in our price range with such a beautiful kitchen. But we did! It needed some cleaning and a few repairs, which we did before moving in. The hard work was worth it, and I still feel spoiled living here!

Some of the things in the top picture (from left to right): Calendar and phone "station", Royal Berkey water filter, my water bottle, my bread machine, the never-ending paper pile, my crock pot, a jar of kefir, and a bowl of freshly-ground flour. The room beyond (through the doorway) is an extension of the living room.

My kitchen

Here you can see the other side of the kitchen. This fridge is huge! I can fit a lot of food in the fridge and freezer here, and we've been able to go grocery shopping less often. Right now my goal is to go to Costco twice a month and to the nearby QFC once a week for bananas and sale items. :)

My kitchen

A lot goes on in this little area! :)

My kitchen

The tall cupboard is used for a pantry, and is quite handy! :) There is a second doorway to the right of that cupboard, and then my shelves.

Kitchen shelves

These shelves were on our enclosed porch when we lived in Ohio. In the apartment, I ended up putting one shelf by our dining room table, and disassembling the other. When we moved here, Joshua put the shelf back together and now I have two again! I think it makes the dining room look a little cluttered, but I like being able to store so much food! And, since the dining room is where we do our school books, I am able to store the books and supplies nearby. :)

My kitchen

I thought that with this much counter space, it would be easier to keep it clutter-free. Ha! I think it is actually MORE difficult to keep it cleared. Maybe because instead of clearing a spot to work, I just move on to the next clean space until the whole kitchen is full of dirty dishes and clutter... I don't know! It is still a daily effort to keep the kitchen clean and tidy, and when it looks like it does in these pictures, I call it perfect! ;)

Our kitchen table

Our kitchen table gets a lot of use! I put my computer there in-between meals and school work. There is a lovely deck behind the kitchen, where Joshua has his grill. And since the trees out back lost their leaves, we can see bits of the Olympic mountains through the trees in the distance! (I told you, I'm spoiled!)

Here's the video tour, including everything in my kitchen cupboards! One of my friends recently did a kitchen tour and showed the insides of the cupboards and it was actually really interesting to me... this video did get a little long (16 minutes!) so I apologize for not being more concise!

Storing cutting boards

My cheerful cutting boards! I forgot to get these in the video, so I took a picture. :)

Stove drawer

And, the one drawer I forgot to open for you on the video! Just cookie sheets, cooling racks, muffin tins, and a grill pan. :)

My other kitchens:

My apartment kitchen wasn't bad at all. Really my only complaints were that the fridge was small and there was carpet in the dining room! I learned to pack the fridge to its fullest, and we taught the kids to be super careful when eating. We left our apartment after 2 years with compliments from the management and our deposit returned! Mission accomplished! ;)

I shared a photo tour of my apartment kitchen when we moved there in 2008. You can also view pictures of everything in my kitchen cupboards at that time. (Ahhhh! Ruth was a baby!!)

And from when we lived in Ohio: My de-cluttered kitchen (in photos). I miss those cheery curtains!

Your questions answered: Facebook, bread machine dough, new house photos, and ways to save money

Moshe munches on an apple :)

On the weekend, I branch out from cooking-related posts and write about my family, answer reader questions, or just blog about what's on my mind! If you have a question or topic you'd like me to tackle, send it my way! :)

Kim asks,

Do you have a Facebook fan page? I love your kefir suggestions! I use it a lot in my pancake batter, muffin batter, and cornbread.

Yes! :) I have a Facebook page for Tammy's Recipes, where I occasionally post updates and my intent has been to put extra photos there -- some of the many photos I have taken but not had time to incorporate into my blog posts. I need to remember to add photos there every week, though. :)

Sherry asks,

"I'm thinking of making your whole wheat sandwich rolls soon and wondered if you tried mixing the dough for them in your new Zo.  I just purchased the Home Supreme Baker and want to put it to the fullest possible use!"

Yes, I have! :) I mix all of my yeast breads in the bread machine, and the Zojirushi bread machine (with two dough paddles) works great for larger amounts of dough. Just make sure it doesn't rise over the top during the "rise" part of the dough cycle, if you're making dough with ~4 or more cups of flour in it.

I wrote more here about the many things I make with my bread machine! I have never had a yeast bread dough that didn't turn out well in the bread machine -- although recipes that don't call for a specific measurement of flour may need to be watched as the machine kneads the dough, and additional flour added if needed. That's still so much easier than getting my hands all sticky though! :)

Erika writes,

I think that you should photos of your new house like you did when you moved into the apartment!

I definitely want to do a tour of my new kitchen! In fact, I think I'll try to do that this week. Yehoshua (6) is old enough to hold the camera for me, so maybe we'll just do a video tour! :)

As far as the other rooms... I'm not sure how interesting they would be, but taking photos might be good inspiration for me to get everything picture-perfect all in one day! ;)

Ruth with her quilt...
How Ruth (2) looks when she's tired... :)

Tereza asks,

I was wondering if you could share your best money saving tips on food, clothing etc.? What things do you do that save you the most money throughout the month?

Oh, my! This is a huge topic! :) Under my "Frugality" category, I have filed most of my posts that are about ways we save money. I'm also planning a more in-depth post on the topic soon, as we have some new expenses this year (higher rent and utilities, braces, etc.) and I find I need to stay focused on not spending on the "extras"! :)

Off the top of my head, some of our top money-saving practices are:

  • Eating homemade meals at home/packing all lunches
  • Doing all haircuts at home
  • Not having a TV
  • Not having cell phones
  • Having 1 vehicle (a mini-van; this may change if we someday have 7+ children!)
  • Using cloth diapers
  • Buying food in bulk (beans, wheat, and rice are the staples of my bulk-buying, but I also love Costco for cheese, milk, etc.)
  • Buying all clothes (except socks, underwear, and sometimes shoes) second-hand (hand-me-downs are even better!)

There are a lot of "little" ways we save money, but I think those are the big ones. But like I said, I've been re-looking at our budget and lifestyle and plan to post my latest ideas/plans soon! :)

Sunshine in my kitchen: Birthday Season!

One of the highlights of Winter -- amid the dark clouds and early sunsets -- is Birthday Season at our house! :) Four birthday celebrations in less than 4 weeks means there's no shortage of festivities (and cake!).

We've never done elaborate parties or expensive gifts* for the children, but we do let them choose a cake with candles. Yehoshua started the tradition of a funny homemade party hat, a banner for the wall, and of course we love to sing "Happy Birthday"! Two versions, even! Twice the fun! :)

Eliyahu turned 5 this past weekend, and chose "Chocolate Cake Birthday". We actually made two chocolate cakes, and took one along to church to share with everyone there.

Eliyahu helps make his chocolate birthday cake

Eliyahu donned one of the chef's hats and helped me make his cake. He declared, "I am good at cracking the eggs now! Any time you need eggs, let me know and I can help." :)

While the cake was in the oven, Eliyahu got to open his gift, which was HUGE! Joshua found this Fisher Price Imaginext ocean set on sale for $20 and it is perfect for Eliyahu's age right now. All of the kids have been playing with it constantly since he opened it! :)

Eliyahu's gift

The next birthdays are in a couple weeks, when Ruth turns 3 and Moshe turns 1. I have a big pumpkin waiting to be cooked and then baked into pumpkin sheet cakes! :)

*This year is admittedly an exception in the gifts department! :)

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