My Kitchen Helper

The Kid loves to help in the kitchen.  We usually set aside certain parts of cooking and cleanup just for her.  She really loves to help make breakfast on the weekends b/c we all do it together.  Today I was going to make breakfast nachos (fun w/ leftovers, recipe at bottom), and she wanted to help ("Mommy, can I hatch the eggs?" which lead to a fun explanation of farms and chickens and eggs, only to find out she meant "crack" the eggs).  We basically let her do the whole thing.  I was laughing so hard watching her "hatch" the eggs that I didn't notice that I was on the wrong side of the camera!


When she put her thumb in to pull the shell apart the egg squirted her in the face!


The Guy took over stirring momentarily to let her put the meat in the mix.

This is usually where her part ends, since I have been hesitant to let her near the stove, but I guess it is a good time to teach care and safety.  So, under our careful watch she cooked the eggs all by herself!



She must have done a great job b/c she and The Guy scarfed them right up!  She has gotten experimental w/ hot sauce, too, so feel free to add some if you try our "breakfast nachos".

Breakfast Nachos

Egg dishes are fun b/c they are endlessly creative.  You can add anything to them, and it is a fun way to snazz up leftovers.  Instead of frying stovetop you can also pour them into muffin cups and bake for a frittata like individual portion.  I like to save those in baggies to make weekday breakfast sandwiches.

You will need:

Approximately 2 eggs per person

milk (we use plain soy)

leftover taco meat (I love making taco salad b/c we always have leftover meat, which means creatively using it up!)

shredded cheese


sour cream

tortilla chips

Mix the eggs, milk, meat and some of the cheese well in a bowl.  Cook as you would any other scrambled eggs.

Separate into serving bowls, and add a generous amount of salsa w/ a dollop of sour cream (you can add more cheese if you like).  The Kid likes to mix it all together and add a little Cholula sauce.  Serve w/ chips.

Some Random Photos

Remember that saying "A face only a mother could love"?

These are some of those.

And they are some of my favorites!




(David is into leather working, and made this eyepatch.)

Hope you love the faces too!


The Kid likes to join me in my creative endeavors.  Usually it is just her doing her own thing w/ all of the scrapping stuff I have strewn about.  Yesterday I was working on my Halloween cards, and she wanted to make some too.  I love it when she makes things w/ me.  We have never had a shortage of arts and crafts stuff to do together.  She usually likes to draw pictures and use the stickers and ribbons and flowers in the pictures, but after watching me make a few cards she wanted to learn how make cards the way I was making them.  I love teaching her new things but I usually wait for her to ask, b/c that usually means she is willing to learn them.

The Kid can now:

Set her own eyelets,

and thread her own ribbon through them.

Distress paper.

Oh, yeah, and she is now also addicted to chalks.

Her finished card turned out really cute, so stand by, it may be coming to a mailbox near you!

Campout Day!


This past week the 3rd through 8th graders at The Kid's school went away to camp, so the Pre-K through 2 had full run of the lower campus (which is only usually K-5).  The teachers thought it would be fun for them to have their very own camp, so on Friday all the kids were allowed to wear their pajamas to school for camping activites.  These are the days that make the volunteering I do extra fun (even I wore pajamas and put rollers in my hair).

They had lots of fun activities like an obstacle course and a scavenger hunt.  Then, after lunch they got to bring their sleeping bags/pillows/blankets to the multipurpose after school care room where one of the junior high students had turned a fan into a campfire!  The kids made a circle around it and settled in for some campfire songs!


And, of course, there were s'mores.  Well, they got to pretend roast marshmallows over the pretend fire.


Pretend roasted s'mores, as it turns out, are not as easy to build as real ones, but still yummy!


It was a lot of fun, but I will tell you that all that sugar, w/ hot chocolate and 20+ students b/t the ages of 4 and 8 is not exactly a recipe for cleanliness.  I just can't say enough how amazing the teachers are at this school, especially the kindergarten teacher who put together all the activities!  She even went out to the camp to teach one evening and came back w/ some of the same activities for these kids.  I like the idea of doing something special since they aren't old enough to actually go to camp yet.  Don't be fooled, however.  The Pre-K through 2 kids were just as exhausted as the older kids returning were.  HA!  


Mabon-- The first of Three Thanksgivings

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Hands down. When I am living in a place w/ four distinct seasons I can actually smell it coming. I love changing leaves, bonfire, the first chill in the air, layering my favorite clothes, and other things that I took for granted living in Michigan that despite my all encompassing love of Hawai’i I miss. Hawai’i is not w/o it’s fall splendor (especially having a school aged child– Hello! Pumpkin patch!), but I do miss jumping in piles of raked leaves and scarves and hoodies.

Mabon, named for the Welsh God, or Autumnal Equinox is such a fun time. Cooking and baking turn to things I love (potatoes, root vegetables, grains, quick breads, not-so-quick breads, cider, apples, corn), and that means opportunity abundant for entertaining w/ my culinary wiles. Yum! Everyone wins!

But Mabon is so much more. It is a time obviously for giving thanks. It is the second of three harvests, and I like to call it the first of three Thanksgivings, this one being the traditional Pagan one, then there is Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in October), and the US version (fourth Thursday in November), which is awesome for those of us w/ lots to be thankful for, and a real jones for feeding masses of people. I notoriously neglect to honor Lughnasadh, and love to make up for it at Mabon. I like to use Mabon as a time of reflection, especially personal internal reflection. I make lists of things to be grateful for (gotta have something to toast w/ all that wine in which I plan to indulge), as well as lists of things to let go of at Samhain. At Mabon I like to write the blessings on pieces of paper to burn, and at Samhain I do the same w/ things I want to let go of, such as bad habits, grudges, and other things that I feel I would be better letting go of. While some like to spring clean and purge fall is that time for me. I like to donate food and clothes when I can and start making my resolutions.

I love Autumn for the way it overlaps w/ other major religions. Mabon is around the time of year that the final rice harvest falls in China, and the Jewish festival of Succoth happens, and since I find the Jewish my greatest religious allies, I do like to include my Jewish friends in my holiday celebrations (like spending Christian Christmas eating Chinese food w/ them). In my study I find that many prayers of Thanksgiving are actually quite interchangeable (and a lot of hymns as well) w/o actually changing much of the language used.

One thing that I use for reflection is a dark bowl of water. I am not the world’s greatest meditator, but I do try to contemplate the water for answers to questions I need to work out on my own. It is a challenge I enjoy, trying to stay focused and yet relaxed and open to the spirits for answers. On this day of perfect balance I try to listen to the world around me. Since it is the day when the God and Goddess are in equal power I find it important to listen for guidance in the Mother stage of my life. Next year, now that I have a nice stock of cookbooks I am hoping to start making my own wines for celebrating, including blackberry wine, which sounds sooooo very yummy (I wonder if you can have things like bottled wine shipped w/ HHG…doubt it, but I would love to have homemade wines on hand).

Regretfully I have not lived in a place where I am able to visit my dad and grandfather’s graves to properly honor them and make an offering. In addition to hopefully being able to one day visit Europe for Beltane balefires w/ VBFitU, The Guy and The Kid one day, I hope to one day be able to offer an apple at my dad’s grave in hopes of reuniting our spirits one day.

Another reason I like Mabon is that the Welsh God is often portrayed as the male equivalent of Persephone, whose tale I enjoy.

No matter how you celebrate fall, or what path you follow, may the Gods and Goddesses of the season bless you and yours fully. For fellow followers of the Old Paths, feel free to share blessings and your favorite parts of this Equinox here. It is always interesting to see how others in the community cherish these blessed times. For those of you who think that taking Comparative Study of Religion in college makes you an expert on Paganism over our life experiences, I pray to the benevolent Crone that you take some new and factual understanding of this time of year.

Bright Blessings to all


OYD Cooks!

And she hopes to be trying this recipe out for Mabon this year!

Dionysian Stuffed Grape Leaves-- Food of the Gods (Recipe shamelessly lifted from The Wicca Cookbook. Recipes, Ritual and Lore by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt, a birthday present for VBFitU):

You will need

1 Jar Grape Leaves (recommended Reese California)

1½ pounds (680 grams) premium ground beef (preferably free range, or substitute protein of choice)

1 med onion, chopped

1 C (228 grams) uncooked instant rice or 2 C (454 grams) half cooked steamed rice

½ t ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Handful currants (optional)

1 large egg

¼ C (55 grams) chopped fresh parsley

¼ C (55 grams) chopped fresh mint

Handful of pine nuts (optional)

Salt and pepper

1 (15-ounce [425-gram]) can whole tomatoes

2¼ C (540 milliliters) beef broth (or vegetable)

Splash of Chianti or other good red wine

½ C (120 milliliters) water

Since they are pickled you must remove from jar and soak the grape leaves in cool water to cleanse of excess brine. While these are soaking, mix ground beef, onion, rice, cayenne pepper, currants, egg, mint, parsley, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. You can adjust the amount of rice to your individual preference. Mixture should stick together well w/o being to wet.

On a large cutting board line up leaves a few at a time, shiny side down. Pinch or cut off stem. Place approximately 1 tablespoonful filling in the center of each leaf. Shape into an oval horizontally across the leaf. Turn side flaps in and roll tightly upward toward the pointy end. The stickiness of the filling should hold it together and all of the filling should be covered by leaf.

In a large, heavy stew pot, carefully arrange each rolled leaf side by side in layers neatly packed until you have about 2 inches (5 centimeters) of head room. As you are stacking crush some of the tomatoes and disperse between layers of leaves. When the pot is full, add remaining juice from tomatoes, broth, wine and water. Liquid should reach top layer of leaves but not cover them completely. Place a heavy plate on top to hold them in place while cooking.

Bring to a boil, cover, quickly decrease heat, and simmer. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes. Try to remember to not life the cover which will relieve the pressure. When done, the rice will be fully cooked and there will be no pinkness in the meat. Leaves should be tender. These are intended to be eaten w/ fingers, so they should be cooled before serving.

They can be served as a side dish or main course. Traditionally, they are served w/ chilled yogurt on the side.

Enjoy, and Happy Mabon!


This just in...

Someone dropped out of the beginning Taiko class at school.

The Kid gets to start tomorrow!

She's pretty happy.

This is from the Lei Day celebration at her school last year.

OYD Cooks!

Cooking w/ kids!

I love doing things that get kids in the kitchen and helping out.  Kitchen independence is a great skill for all children that can carry them into adulthood.  Both of my parents and all of my grandparents were excellent cooks, and they had their own ways of teaching me things that made me love cooking today.

When I was The Kid's age and my parents were still married my favorite Friday night ritual (much like BSR's) was making homemade pizza together.  We used to make our own dough, grate our own cheese and make everything from scratch.  Afterward my Daddy and I would pop corn in our air popper (I so need to get one of these) and we would watch Star Wars together (go fig, huh!).

When I was a little older and one of my dad's sisters used to watch us on the weekends my cousin and I got to make English Muffin Pizzas for dinner.  This was a faster way of keeping the same tradition to me.  I have also found that it is a pleaser when entertaining children (or hosting Brotherhood events) b/c everyone gets to choose their favorite toppings and create their own masterpieces.  So, w/o further ado:

English Muffin Pizzas


You will need:

Pre split English Muffins, 1-2 per person.  The good kind w/ the nooks and crannies in them.

1 block Mozzarella cheese, grated (which is a fun food prep activity for young helpers).

1 can pizza sauce, or you can make your own.

An assortment of toppings, including pepperoni, fresh pineapple, cooked bacon, fresh mushrooms (sliced), and anything else you can think of.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread sauce over each half of the English Muffin, and top any way you see fit.  

Bake on a pizza stone (or other pizza pan) for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.


Allow to cool for younger mouths.  You can also substitute pre-made crusts (like Boboli) for larger versions or older crowds.


We had a lot of fun making these w/ the girls today, so I hope you enjoy them too!

Some Random Photos

Play date fun!

Today we had another play date w/ The Kid's friend, S. from school.  Last weekend The Kid went w/ S. and her grandmother to the Army Pool on Schofield, and today S. came w/ us.  First we took them to the arcade to blow off some steam w/ skee-ball and air hockey, both which I rock at and we all love playing.  Then we headed to our house where they got in some good trampoline fun (which reminds me that I need to make another "Boys on Trampolines" video).


Afterward we helped the girls make English Muffin Pizzas (recipe above), which I used to make at my aunt's house when I was young, and was a big hit in my fraternity days (I was the best brotherhood chair ever!).  I like English Muffin Pizzas w/ groups of kids b/c everyone gets to make their own, and everyone gets to use whatever they like.  They also don't take long to make, since you only need to bake them long enough to melt and brown the cheese.







Even big kids like to play too!  Yes, I know how lucky I am!


After they ate we played some Mario Party on the Wii, and then it was time for S. to go home.  We also let S. rummage through The Kid's too small clothes, which are not few, for anything she wanted to take home.  I love passing on clothes to other kids, which is a big perk of having the second biggest kid in the First Grade.  The down side is that we don't know too many kids to pass stuff on to The Kid (except the one girl from whom we got the red shoes).  Passing on and taking passed on clothes helps me feel like we are breaking the cycle of capitalist gain which overwhelmingly exploits women, especially WOC...but I digress...

I think it is safe to say that The Kid has made her first good friend w/ whom she likes to play, and who is supportive of her.  They really are so much fun together.  And for those of you who are parents who aren't at the play date stage yet, I will tell you it truly is one of those sacred and wonderful rituals of parenthood to which you can look forward.  You exchange play dates, giving each family a short rest w/o it really being babysitting.  The kids have fun together, the parents have much needed quiet time.  Everyone wins!

Hope you all had a great weekend, and sorry, Kristen, that I mixed up the dates.  I really thought your party was yesterday when I scheduled for today.  :(

Malama Pono!


OYD Cooks!

It's so funny that Sarah just commented on my last cooking post as I was getting ready to post another!

Tonight the boys are all out at a friend's house gaming, but since The Kid and I had a nasty cold (read as she had a cough and gave me the nasty cold...*grumbles*) I didn't feel right being around our friends' young children.  So, Kid and I stayed in and had a night to ourselves!

We decided to make a house fav, which is easily made in about 10-15 minutes, and has steps where The Kid gets to help.  It only has about 4 ingredients!

So, w/o further ado...

Ranch Tortellini

You will need:

2-8.5 oz packages fresh tortellini, found in the refrigerator section at the store.  They come in many varieties, and tonight we chose 1 package spinach and cheese and 1 package chicken and prosciutto.  When I feed the whole house I double everything (at least, I really have a hard time cooking for small amounts of people).

1 cup Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.  Do not be fooled by inferior Ranch dressings.  I am a Ranch dressing snob...and HVR is the originator of the Ranch shenanigans.  

1/4 t crushed red pepper (more or less to taste).

Parmesan cheese for grating.


Bring a large Dutch oven or kettle of water to a rolling boil.  Salt the water after it boils (optional).  Boil the pasta for about 2-3 minutes or until the center of the filling is hot.  It is fresh pasta so it won't take long.  It should all float when it is finished.


Drain well.

In a bowl combine tortellini, dressing, red pepper and mix gently yet thoroughly.  And if you get some on you, The Kid knows how to handle that.


Spoon onto plates and grate the cheese over the top.  

Tonight I enjoyed mine w/ a nice cheap and fruity pinot grigio, and The Kid had a fine Limeade.  


This is a real house pleaser, even for my folks in Readerland who claim they hate Ranch Dressing (yeah, Brain Spider, I'm talkin' to you!).


If you want you can add well drained and sliced roasted red peppers or chopped artichoke hearts (the hot pasta will warm them up).  You can also add a protein of your choice if you use all cheese tortellini.  We have used grilled chicken, smoked sausage, or Italian sausage.  All yummy choices.


As a random thought, I have a cute book ripe for scrapping and I am thinking of making a cookbook out of it, especially since I get so many nice comments and ravenously hungry boys begging for my cooking (hey, when we go out I never pay for drinks b/c of my awesome cooking!).  It would be nice to have something to pass on to The Kid someday when she is ready to be an independent chef!


This One's For VBFitU

B/c I think she gets why forts are still fun. ;)


And 12 gods, woman! Get internetz already! Readerland misses you! Mabon is coming!


Wednesday Whedon Moment

I have been waiting to use this one precious clip on YouTube that isn’t a fanvid.

During our discussion on alignment the other night over dinner we also discussed vampires w/ souls (why, yes, we are great big nerds, thank-you), and whether choosing to go through trials to get your soul back and use it for good, or having it forced upon you, attempting to atone for past evils and using that to turn around and use it for good is a more noble choice.

Choice or dealing w/ what you are given?

Brought to you by the two coolest vamps w/ souls ever.

OYD Cooks!

French Onion Soup-- Guinness Tribute Edition* (the stout, not Alec, although he rocks too!)

You will need:

½ lb of butter**

About 5 lbs of sweet onions (I used Maui Sweets)

3 smashed cloves of garlic (more or less to taste) or 3T of already minced.

2 bay leaves

1 gallon of water and beef base, or the same of beef consume or broth works fine**

1 14 oz draught can or 1½ draught bottles of Guinness (plus extra to keep the cook happy!)

1 large loaf of French Bread

Gruyere or Fontina Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a large pot (seriously, at least a three gallon guy) and simmer the garlic.

Slice the ends off of the onions and cut in half length wise. Slice in to course pieces.


Add onions to pot, reduce heat to med lo, and mix well. Sweat the onions for at least 45 minutes (you can not rush this!) until they are reduced to about ¼.

Add the Guinness (you didn’t drink it all, right?) to the onion reduction and simmer w/ the lid off for about half an hour (you can not rush this!)



(you should be salting and peppering at every step, really)

When the liquid has reduced by about half again add one gallon of cold water (if using broth add that now) and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling add the beef base (about 1t to each cup of water) and simmer for about 10 minutes.


If you are like me and you do not have the proper bowls for placing under a broiler you can simply grate the cheese into the bowls on top of the soup. If you have good earthenware bowls or ramekins ladle in the soup, add a slice of bread and grate the cheese on top. Place in a broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and browned lightly. (yum!)

Or, you can do it my way:



*WARNING! I only know how to cook to feed small armies. This will make almost two gallons of soup, so make sure your fridge is cleaned out, or adjust the proportions a little.

**I have made a wonderful vegan version using olive oil spread in lieu of butter and either beefless broth or mushroom base, and since I find veggie cheese a cruel joke I just omit it.


Laborious Labor Day

Whew!  We spent today doing a much needed house wide cleaning!  All five of us moved furniture, sorted clutter, bagged trash, separated recycling (to be taken to the HI5 tomorrow for some $$$) from the curbside recycling, vacuumed and a ton of other things that we have not had time to do.  Since we were all off today it was perfect.  After we made, ate and cleaned up breakfast we got to work.

Here is The Kid vacuuming under where the table goes, b/c that is where she makes the biggest mess.

She is never too busy, however, to smile for a picture!

We spent the whole day from about 1030 to 1500, and I think the results are worth it.

The kitchen, after the Guy mopped.

The dining area, w/ my Korean books and a few random odds and ends to be put away.

The living room, w/ the broken coffee table removed seems huge now.

Even Kabuki and Master Chief are pleased w/ the end results.  We still have a few odds and ends to tuck away (and not enough storage for all of our DVDs), but it feels so good to get it all finished!  The Davids used ladders to vacuum up some of the dust and webs, and the fan and AC unit were vacuumed too.  Laundry is still rolling, and dinner is marinating, but now we are looking forward to a nice evening.

The Kid and I have a few crafting projects to tackle soon, maybe tonight.  Who knows?  Some of you may be getting some mail soon!

Malama Pono!