Friday, October 23, 2009

Miller farm

Katie's preschool class took a little field trip to a nearby farm. A tractor pulled the group around the farm in a trailer, and made stops along the way so we could pick stuff: red potatoes, celery, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, Indian corn, pumpkins, etc. You could pick as much as you wanted.

The kids were of course much more interested in the other attractions at the farm. There was a huge pile of dirt - Alex could have dug for hours with the excavator and dump truck. There was some bouncy dome thing - maybe next year my crew will be ready to brave the crowds and go for it. There were old cars painted like the characters from Cars. There were a few animals to check out - smart Kat got her thumb bit by the horse - luckily it only turned a great shade of purple.
No one was too excited by the unlimited vegetables, but the pumpkins were another story. Katie could not get enough. After we got home, we busted out the paints and did a little decorating. As you can see, Max's is the most detailed. Today I finally figured out what the crazy smell in my house was: two of our pumpkin creations had taken a turn for the worse and had started to go soft. Luckily we have plenty of backups.

I made some delicious soup with the veggies - which is so delicious that I am the only one who has been eating it for the past week or so. The only thing I've made lately that scored a 5/5 for eaters is . . . pumpkin gnocchi. Martha's show is good for an idea every now and again, and this one really is a hit. It might sound crazy, but how can butter, cream and lots of Parmesan cheese go wrong? This only took about 30 minutes to make, and for the first time in forever EVERYONE ate it! Katie loved helping cut the gnocchi.

pumpkin gnocchi - courtesy of the Martha Stewart Show - modified by moi

1 can of pumpkin -reserve 1/4 cup for sauce - Martha cooks a pumpkin, I cheat and use canned
2 cups flour, plus more for work surface
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
20 medium chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed - I re-hydrated a mix of dried mushrooms
8 fresh sage leaves - I used powdered sage
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream - I should have used less - this is a TON of cream

Mound flour in center of a large work surface; add 1 tablespoon salt and the nutmeg. Using a fork, mix until well combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 2 cups pumpkin and 1 cup grated cheese to well. Slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well. When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass; knead mixture until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter; cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet and cover with a clean, damp towel. Repeat process until all the dough has been used.

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Generously salt water and return to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the top, about 4 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over high heat and add butter and shallots. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until shallots are golden. Add mushrooms and sage; cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, chicken stock, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup grated cheese; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet and toss to combine. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan and nutmeg.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

in short

It's past time to get Max's 1-year pictures taken. For fear of being reported to child services for the 'unicorn look' he's sporting, I keep putting it off. Just as Max's forehead was healed from the first bruise - acquired while climbing out of a box - he landed in the EXACT same spot crawling along on the floor. At the current rate, he'll be 3 before we get those photos taken.

This is for Elizabeth: my photography skills are totally lacking - let's blame the camera, shall we? - but just try and tell me these transfer sheets aren't amazing! Fun times ahead. For anyone who wants to come over and sample, these would be dark chocolate with nutella centers.

Oma needs to go get one more pair of halloween pajamas, since cousin Summer will be joining us this year! The ghosts even glow in the dark. On a side note, cumpulsive Kat has been scouring Ebay in search of Thomas the Train engines, track and features. If you or anyone you know has outgrown their train set up, let me know. :)

I've been debating about renewing our Zoo membership for the coming year. If Katie will sport excellent outfits like this everytime we go, I think it's a must! Apparently it was still a little too warm for most of the animals to put on a good show, but the bears were fun - the black bear was at least sleeping in an interesting place. The gorilla was excellent - he was totally posing for us. Katie might even be brave enough to try sitting on a MOVING carousel animal next time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

blue bird lake

In honor of my friend Betsy, I took the troops up to the trail head for BlueBird Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The ranger SWORE to me that the parking lot at the trail head was full, and that we needed to park down below. Why not? We were there to hike, right?
A wiser woman might have given more consideration to the fact that the trail was not wide enough for the stroller - leaving the 2 year old under his own power for the adventure and Max in the backpack - and the fact that I am not the queen of spatial memory.

It took us 2 HOURS to get up to the actual trail head. I'm pretty sure that Alex needed to stand on every rock we came across. For about half the time I carried Alex on my shoulders. We had lunch at the trail head, and I seriously considered turning around and starting back to the car, but I just couldn't go that far and not actually hike any of the trail. Calypso Falls was only .3 miles away, so off we went again. The rejuvenating powers of goldfish and yogurt are quite impressive.

Katie and Alex had a good time playing on the bigger rocks by the falls, and on each and every rock on the trail up to them.

On the way back down, the question of how we were going to get back down to our car became more pressing. I did not have it in me to carry Alex on my shoulders all the way back down, and by this time Katie was wanting to be carried too. A number of people passed us on the way back down, including a lone girl in a red sweatshirt. I ALMOST asked her if we could hitch a ride, but she was going to finish too far ahead of us and I didn't want to push her potential good nature by asking her to give us a ride AND wait 30 minutes for us to get to her car. So we soldiered on, got back to the trail head, and started down the road back to our car.

A few cars drove past us as I was praying for some help with my predicament - and some courage to flag someone down for a ride. Then some folks in an SUV stopped and asked if they could give us a lift. Inside the car was the girl I had thought about asking for a ride, sitting behind her parents. They were on their annual vacation from Texas. HOORAY for Texans! A cynic might argue coincidence, but seeing that girl - who I had already had a good feeling about - in that car assured me that we were being looked after.

When we got back down to the car I drove up to the trail head to see how far we had walked. OVER 1.2 miles!! Katie and Alex are total troopers, and I am a superhero!

We all had a lot more fun when we went back in August with Roger. We made it up to the top of the falls (Calypso again; we're not quite ready to make to to Ouzel Falls), and the kids had a blast throwing rocks in the water.

I about had a heart attack because little billy goat Katie likes to jump from rock to rock - sometimes jumping towards the water. There was much more energy for playing since we actually started at the beginning of the trail, and skipped the 1.3 mile introductory walk. Even Max got to escape from his cage for a little climbing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

county fair

Alex's obsession with trucks has been steadily fed by the construction going on at the end of our street. What could have been a HUGE inconvenience and major source of irritation has instead actually been great. When we're really lucky, they park the spare dump trucks right across from our house. At least 3 times a week I load up the stroller with some # of children - ALWAYS including Alex - and we go and check out the construction guys. Scoop - scoop - dump. Sometimes Alex brings a truck along with him, sometimes one of his truck books. He is equally excited about cement mixers, dump trucks and excavators. One of the excavator operators is AMAZING. He knocks water bottles out of the way with the bucket. He hopped a cone out of his way with a huge sheet of metal. The company should have me write the evaluations for all the workers - I totally know who hustles and who is just there.

The county fair was in town in August, and, because this is Longmont, there was an exhibit of farm equipment. There were signs everywhere saying not to climb on them, but we did sit in the wheels. One of our party could have stayed there all day.

The fair had special activities for kids every morning. The day we went kids could make stick horses and then compete in a 'rodeo.' We skipped the rodeo, but we rode our horses around the entire fair. Going into the exhibit hall, a photographer for the Longmont Times-Call snapped a few photos, and one of them actually ran in the paper. Luckily her outfit sort of actually matched that day! (When I can figure out how to run the new scanner, I'll post the picture.)

One of the cool things about the small town fair is that, well, it's small. The owners of the animals are right there, and are excited to talk about their buddies. A couple of cute little 4H girls were practicing with their goats, and let Katie (Alex was NOT interested) and her friend Grayce walk them and pet them. Did you know you can actually RENT an animal if you want to participate in 4H? I always thought you had to live on your own farm. Who knew?

This quilt reminded me of Donna. (My hand is there for scale - I'm not touching the quilt!) The piecework was amazing, and it reminded me of the quilt show we went to the week after Max was born.