Thursday, February 25, 2010


I've had my fair share of success with pinto beans. After all, I had this 25 pound bag from Costco taunting me from my cupboard, which we've finally just polished off.

So, I've definitely learned a few things along the way. Pound by pound, pot by pot. I love beans! In my opinion, pinto beans can be pretty bland on their own, so what I've learned to to do is to saute some chopped onions in a little bit of bacon grease and add them to the cooking water--works wonders.

Now that those 25 pounds of pinto beans are out of the way, I feel freed up to try other things. I had never cooked my own black beans before and have been really surprised by the outcome. I was amazed at how tasty they are all on their own. Are you interested? Probably not, but I will tell you my secret black bean recipe just in case.

2 cups of dried black beans (Rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight. Or else you could do the quick soak method***.)
4 cups of water
5 cloves of garlic

Put the beans, water, and whole garlic cloves into your crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or until tender. Add salt (about a tablespoon). Eat and enjoy! So simple, yet so delicious!

These are great as a vegetable dip, too. Just mash and voila!

***Quick soak method: Add beans, and more than enough water to cover them, to a pot. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes. Take off heat and place lid on pot. Let sit with lid on for one hour. Drain and rinse beans. Beans are now ready to cook.

Addendum: You could also do this on the low setting for 8 hours, but I never seem to get to it in time. Alternately you could simmer them on the stove top partially covered for a few hours. And of course you can do more than 2 cups of beans. Beans to water ratio should always be 1:2. So, 3 cups of beans would mean 6 cups of water, etc., etc.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit; the more you eat, the better you poop. (That's what we're hoping, for Caiden's sake, anyway.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Schedule, Shmedule

I know you go through this too, right? You're a stay at home mom, or person, or whatever. You have the entire day before you. And then the entire day is gone. People ask you what you did last week, or yesterday, or today even, and you reply, "Uuummm... I'm not sure!" You know you were busy, you know you did stuff, but its all so jumbled. You feel like you have this gigantic stretch of time in which you must keep your kids occupied. But then at the end of the day, there are so many things you weren't able to accomplish and it seems like you hardly have any time at all. You feel like you didn't really do right by any of your responsibilities, not even one. Because, although you played with your kids, it wasn't long enough, or focused enough, or you
weren't able to go outside. Although you did five loads of laundry, you weren't able to fold them and now they are covering your entire floor mixed right in with the dirty ones. Even though you cleaned up like five million times, no one would ever be able to tell, especially your husband who is about to walk through the door and probably wants to relax. And so then, even your time with your husband gets gypped because now you have to enlist him in your army of mop-pushers and nose wipers and when you're finally finished, you're too exhausted to do anything so you either flop down somewhere and veg out, or else you flop down and cry, or flop down and knock out. Leaving you feeling completely frustrated and insufficient and incapable and irresponsible. I know I'm not the only one who feels like this right? And it doesn't even have to just be those with kids. It could be any job.

Well, I've really been praying for direction and for the ability to manage my time better--to be a good steward with what I've been entrusted with and make sure I'm giving the proper care and attention to each of my responsiblities. The first responsiblity being my relationship with the Lord.

After one of those nights where I just flopped down and cried and felt utterly dismayed, my techie husband got out his software spreadsheet mumbo jumbo stuff and made me a schedule. Oh, how grateful I am for it! Just something that is solid and concrete that shows me, "Here, look. There are blocks of time here to take care of each thing you need to do." This has helped
me enormously, even when I'm not exactly following it verbatim. I use it as a guide and a test, if you will, to make sure I'm giving place to each of my responsiblities.

I thought I would list it here, just in case there are other people out there who ever feel the way I do. Here's to hoping that maybe it gives you some hope or direction, too. Good luck and know that I'm right there with you, friend!

"Now may the God of peace Himself
sanctify you completely;
and may your whole spirit, soul,
and body be preserved blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you [is] faithful, who also will do [it]."
I Thessalonians 5:23,24

crynfiction's daily schedule:

7:00 AM - Mom wakes up
7:30 AM - Mom Breakfast and Bible
8:15 AM - Mom gets ready for the day
9:00 AM - Kids Wake up
9:15 AM - Kids Breakfast
9:30 AM - Kids help Mom clean up
9:45 AM - Kids get ready for the day.
10:00 AM - Kids devotions led by Mom
10:20 AM - Activity / Outing with Mom
11:00 AM - Kids Clean up Activity
11:10 AM - Snack
11:20 AM - Activity without Mom
11:45 AM - Mom makes lunch
12:00 PM - Lunch
12:20 PM - Kids help Mom clean up
12:30 PM - Read 2 books with Mom
1:00 PM - Caiden goes down for a nap
1:10 PM - Elliott Activity without Mom
1:10 PM - Mom Activity
2:00 PM - Mom checks on Elliott
2:30 PM - Mom and Elliott do "School"
3:15 PM - Activity without Mom
3:15 PM - Mom preps dinner
3:45 PM - Caiden wakes up
3:50 PM - Snack
4:00 PM - Activity without Mom
4:00 PM - Mom starts dinner
4:40 PM - Kids clean up Activity
4:50 PM - Elliott sets the table
5:00 PM - Dinner
5:35 PM - Kids help Dad clean up.
6:00 PM - Activity / Outing
7:30 PM - Baths
7:50 PM - Out of the Bath
8:00 PM - Brushing Teeth and Vitamins
8:15 PM - Read 2 short books
8:30 PM - Lights Out.
8:31 PM - Mom and Dad snuggle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

FOOD! (and a little walk down memory lane)

Michael Ruhlman, a talented writer, chef, and I would add, good food activist, recently wrote a blog post about why he cooks and suggested other bloggers do the same. I thought this would be as good a time as any to tell you a little something about why I cook...

I'm a girl, so naturally I have to give you a lot of other details before I get to the part where I actually answer this question. Who's ready for some crynfiction history? Ready or not, here we go:

I was born into a family whose name is, coincidentally, 'Cook.' My father was raised in a suburban-ish? part of Kansas with a younger brother and older sister. He and his brother used to go to a neighbors' pasture and ride their horse, bareback, if I remember correctly. My dad always dreamed of being a cowboy and to realize that dream, he moved way, way, way into the country and bought a "little" farm of 42 acres in the county of... not sure. Anyway, we lived down a narrow gravel road with nothing around for miles and no neighobors with the exception of one little house way down the lane and an old abandoned barn down the lane in the opposite direction. There was a big cornfield that butted right up to the edge of our property which was always a source of sourness between that owner and us. It seems that somewhere along the lines of our property and theirs, there was some dispute as to where exactly the line was drawn. Why am I telling you this? I'm not sure. Anyhow, just down the road from our house was a little old bridge that would regularly get flooded out everytime it rained and we could not pass it, even in our 4-wheel drive pickup trucks, let alone our little orange Ford Pinto with the black hood that had been replaced and spray painted after a few collisions with suicidal deer. Consequently of the little bridge flooding, we would have to drive miles around the acreage to enter the long, long gravel lane from the other side. My dad had always wanted a pond, and so did we, so he convinced the city guys, who came to build us a brand new bridge, to dig one out for us and use the rocks and dirt they dug to build the bridge. Well, they sure did dig us a hole, but it never held water so it ended up just being a big pit where we burned our trash... But I digress again.

While in Kansas, we grew green beans, rhubarb, tomatoes, and other things I'm sure that I can't remember. I am sure we ate well back then, but I don't quite remember. When I was 7 years old, we packed up our pickup truck and moved our family of (then) 7, to California so my dad could attend Calvary Chapel Bible College. We ended up staying. For 7 years. So from the age of 7 until the age of 14, I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at a college cafeteria. I have no complaints. I loved it. However, it sure didn't give me much in the way of instruction in the culinary arts.

Late in November of my 14th year of life, my Mom decided to pack up the five of us kids who were still living at home and move us to Connecticut, which is where she's from. I had 4 years of non-cafeteria food then, which mostly consisted of me and my little sister cooking a few staple meals. One was boiled kielbasa, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Another was roasted chicken, if we could convince our little brothers to reach their hands inside the cavity of the chicken and remove the guts--gross! And the other meal was...tuna casserole. That pretty much sums up my cooking experience at home. Oh, except for microwaved quesadillas, and fried eggs.

I never fancied Connecticut much, so after highschool, I moved back to California to see about a boy, whom I ended up marrying. During those first few years, I basked in the gloriousness of In-N-Out which I had been deprived of for so long. 30 pounds later, I regretted that decision. But in Orange County, it seems to be a way of life to "eat out," so that's what we did. Long after I grew tired of eating out, we still continued to do so since we didn't really know any other way.

Three years ago, my husband and I moved to Santa Rosa in Northern California. Nor Cal is nothing like So Cal. They might as well be different states. The pace is much slower and food is much more expensive and restaurants are few and not very good. Finances were tight, so eating out had to go. I was finally thrust into the art of home cooking. And it was glorious. It was a struggle, but after a while I went from loving to bake, but not cook, to pretty much loving to do both. I started reading Ruhlman's blog, Simply Recipes, and some other food blogs and started learning. My brother is a chef, too, so I call him up every now and again and get some advice. Sometimes I still feel a little lost, but I don't think I could ever go back to eating out 5 times a week. So here are some of the reasons why I cook:

--I love feeding people
--I love homecooked meals
--I love vegetables, and you just can't get them much at restaurants
--I cook because I have to, its much cheaper
--I cook because I want my kids to have the stability of eating meals at the table together
--I guess one reason I cook is because I feel guilty when I don't
--I cook to create memories
--I cook to get a variety in my diet
--I cook because I can!
--I cook because it tastes good when I do so
--I cook to teach my kids how to cook
--I cook to serve my family and others
--I cook because it is healthy

And you know what? I think I cook because I enjoy it! So thanks for having this talk with me. I might not have discovered that otherwise. Now the challenge goes to you. Write a blog post about why you like to cook, or why you do cook. You might be surprised at what you discover.

P.S. Please forgive my use of unnecessary commas; I just can't help myself!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Catch up!

Hey friends,
It's been a while... Shall I tell you what's on my mind?

1. Plain M&M's, although nothing much to think of on their own, are irresistible along side a nice cup of freshly pressed coffee.

2. The book, Knowing God by J.I. Packer is so great. And I'm only 1/3 of the way through.

3. The weather has been gloriously balmy this week, but we'll be settling back into rainfall tonight, I believe.

4. David fell ill for 5 days last week with a raging fever and now Caiden has it.

5. Consequently of #4 I got to spend Valentines Day with my beautiful sister in law, Allison, sharing the Lord with some strangers over a paper cup full of homemade soft serve. It was quite a day.

6. My birthday passed by pretty inconspicuously, but it was lovely as well. I'm 26. Woot!

7. I've found some new blogs to read, including, "Sundays" and "Unhappy Hipsters."

8. I pride myself on my knowledge of English, grammar, and spelling, but I'm realizing that I use commas much too often and can never remember where to put the punctuation of sentences when there is a quote at the end, like in #7 above.

9. Yesterday afternoon, Elliott nonchalantly asked me, while I was reading a book, if I had any dance moves. I replied in the affirmative, so he said, "Okay, why don't you show me them, then?" So I did.

10. The Lord is good and faithful. I am learning to trust Him more and more. Philippians 4:6-9, Isaiah 26:3,4.

11. I am so thankful to all of you who read my blog and who consistently encourage me and chide me into updating my blog. I really love it. For example, check out this email I received from my mother in law last month. I was cracking up when I read it. We both love the movie "You've Got Mail." It is so great that I had to share. I hope you don't mind, Mom. The subject title read, "readers weary." This is what it said:


P.S. Did that kind of sound like "You've Got Mail"?"

Wasn't that great?! It sure brightened my day and reminded me that all of you are reading and supporting me. So keep the feedback coming, I love it! Blessings on your week. <3 love, crynfiction.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Have a Coffee Buddy!

My two year old loves drinking coffee and tea.

I had always hoped she'd want to drink tea with me!

Elliott isn't really a coffee drinking buddy, but he does like to have a good snack and glass of milk along with the rest of us.
He's a big fan of coffee shops... and bagels.

Photos by me and Dave

Food for Thought

"Beware, brethren, lest there be
 in any of you an evil heart of unbelief
in departing from the living God;
but exhort one another daily, while
it is called "Today," lest any of you
be hardened through the deceitfulness
of sin. For we have become
partakers of Christ if we hold the
beginning of our confidence steadfast
to the end,"
Hebrews 3:12-14

Photo courtesy of David Escalante.  Latte art courtesy of Flying Goat Coffee in Healdsburg.