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Friday, July 29, 2011

Birthday Parties

One of my favorite things about our family is that we celebrate every ones birthday. Every single person in the family gets their own special day and we all come to celebrate. I didn't realize how unique that was until I got older and I would say something about it and people would ask, "EVERY person gets a party. You don't combine?? And, you do it on the actual day"?? And, the answer is no, we don't combine and yes, we try very hard to do it on the actual day. You only have one day a year that is all about YOU and YOU get a party, with dessert of your choice on your birthday.

We do have to step away from the "on your birthday rule" for the kids because they have the big parties and those are on the closest weekend. The adults typically have lunch or dinner and it's just a nice time to get together, let the kids play and spend time together as a family. Our kids are going to have some fun memories of growing up with their cousins.

Here's some photos of Savanah's party.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

French Silk Pie

This has become one of Max's favorite things. I'm proud to say that he doesn't ask to go to Baker's Square anymore, he asks me to make this.

I take a refrigerator crust and spread it out on the bottom of a 13x9, bake and fill. Your oven doesn't have to be on very long to do that, so it's a great summer treat. I don't adjust the filling, it's just a bit less.

These photos are my repeat so it's with a traditional pie crust.

What you'll need:

1 C softened Butter
1 1/2 C Sugar
4 (1 oz) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
2 t Vanilla
4 Pasteurized Eggs
1 prepared Crust...I used an Oreo Crust

Melt chocolate in microwave or on the stove top. Cool for about 5 minutes. Cream your butter and sugar with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. IF you have a Kitchen Aid, this is a recipe to use it on. Use the whisk attachment.

Add melted chocolate and vanilla and beat, you might want to scrape down the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to a 6 on your mixer and add an egg, beat for 3 minutes, keep adding eggs until all 4 are added, beating 3 minutes after each addition. Pour mixture into prepared crust, cover with some Saran Wrap and chill at least 2 hours before topping with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

To make the whipped cream

Small container of Whipping Cream
1 t Vanilla extract

Whip it until it's firming up. Add 3/4 Powdered Sugar and whip until stiff. Top pie.

To make Chocolate shavings, I just used a peeler and peel a Hershey's chocolate bar over the top.

After you've beaten your butter and sugar, add cooled melted chocolate
Ready to chill, I put some saran wrap on top just to be sure it wouldn't get chewy.
Top with Whipped Cream and chocolate shavings
No need for a back up with this pie

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pow Wow

Pow Wow has become a yearly tradition. We travel up to our reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin for LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow. We get to enjoy time with my Dad's side of the family and recharge our batteries with some spiritual energy.

We didn't go when I was younger because my Grandma had moved to the city as a young woman and the city is where she stayed. She was one of the children taken to the boarding schools, to learn the "civilized" way to live and I think that stigma stayed attached to her. She didn't share many stories of her growing up or teach many traditions but when she retired, she moved back to the reservation. It was then that my Dad went back to the Pow Wow as well and took us along.

A little sidebar about my Dad. He was sent to the reservation the year before he was to turn 13 to learn how to be a brave. He had to learn many different things but my favorite story was he arrived at his Aunt's home and everything was labeled with an Ojibwe word. They told him that he would have three days to learn those words and after that time, the words would come down, they would stop speaking English to him and if he couldn't say it, he couldn't have it. He said, "amazing how fast you learn something when it involves eating, going to the bathroom or to sleep".

Pow Wow is different for every tribe. Ours is about Honoring the Earth and spirit, taking a moment basically to say thank you for what you have, reflect on your life and find that inner peace. It's about traditions.

I am by NO means an expert when it comes to my Native background or Pow Wow for that matter. If you have a question, you ask an elder. I miss my Dad a little extra during Pow Wow because he is not next to me, telling me some tidbit. Your elders are the back bone of the family and tribe and they get the ultimate respect.

Here are a few random details of what the day is about.

Regalia is what you wear to dance, it is NOT a costume. You can dance without it, but if you wear it, what you wear depicts the type of dancing you do. Regalia can tell a story for some. Passed on from generations, the details on it can sometimes tell someone what reservation you are from. A LOT of time and energy is put into the regalia you wear.

The arena is where you dance. At our reservation, in the arena, you cannot carry a child. To carry a child means you want to give that child away. Children should be able to let their own feet carry them and make their own path.

My cousin David, brother Brandon, Max and Dylan are all traditional dancers. Their regalia involves bead work, feathers and buck skin. They dance the slowest of the male dancers in the arena.

My Aunts Mona and Judy are traditional dancers as well. Buckskin is their choice. They dance slow and delicate.

Mara and Payton wear jingle dresses. They are the medicine women of our tribe and their jingles have healing powers. They dance with their hands on their hips and cannot make a full turn while dancing. They can only turn to the left or right while dancing.

Claire and Kayla are fancy shawl dancers. They have a shawl with fringe that they extend out to each side and they can spin while they dance.

The other two types are Men's grass and fancy. They dance similar but the fancy are the ones with huge bustles and they dance the fastest. They are a blur of feathers when they get moving and my favorite to watch.

We honor the Veterans every year with a special dance. Flags are carried in first and an honor song is played after they retire the flags at the end of grand entry. A prayer is said at the beginning of each grand entry and tobacco is sprinkled on the grounds by each dancer as they enter for the arena. There are drum groups from all over the state and in addition to inner tribal dances where anyone can dance, traditional dances are done as well. The announcer explains the story behind each dance.

One of the things that I like most about Pow Wow is the relaxed atmosphere. There are food and merchandise vendors around the arena and it is perfectly ok to let your children be on their own because everyone is watching your children..they are safe. No alcohol is allowed on the Pow Wow grounds. And, although things attempt to run on a schedule, if something throws that off, it is pushed back or changed and no one is stressing about the details. As I said, it's a day to find your inner peace and be thankful for what you have and honor those that have gone before us.

I let the kids take most of the photos this year and here is a random sampling.

Dylan and Max, teen Traditional
Just a random dancer dressed traditionallyRandom dancer, Men's Traditional
Mara and Payton waiting to enter the arena for Girls Jingle
My brother Brandon in buckskin for Men's Traditional
Grand Entry
Claire and Kayla waiting for Girls Fancy Shawl to enter the arena
Mara and Payton dancing in their Jingle Dresses
Claire doing her thing
My Aunt's Mona and Judy..Ladies Traditional
My cousin's daughter Kayla dancing
Grand Entry..Men's Traditional
Kids dancing
The back of one of our favorite Fancy Dancers
Honoring the Flags
We had this little chipmunk who lived under our chairs during the day Pow Wow. The kids thought it was appropriate since my Dad's name was Little Chipmunk.
Grand Entry
One of the dancers we've watched over the years. Clearly, he has a sense of humor.
My Aunts waiting for Grand Entry to finish
Mara, Payton and Claire dancing
Kristen, Dylan and Claire coming in from dancing.
My Mom with Teddy, Mara and Payton watching the dancing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vegi Quiche

Dylan has decided for the second time in his life that he doesn't want to eat meat. The first time he was going into 7th grade. I went and bought a bunch of vegetarian things for the freezer and simply let him eat sides. He lasted about 2 weeks. This time I think he means it.

I never really liked meat until I was pregnant with Claire so I have the ability to cook without meat, I just don't because it's not what the majority likes.

Since Dylan is my biggest supporter of trying new recipes, I thought I would be a bit more supportive this time around.

What you'll need:

Pie Crust ~ I used one of those refrigerator ones in my 9 inch pan but you could buy the frozen too or you could go really crazy and make your own

1-2 C Fresh Spinach chopped
1 Green Pepper chopped or a mix of colored peppers
1 small onion chopped
Drizzle Olive Oil
6 large Eggs beaten
1 1/4 C Cream ~ I used Whipped Cream
1 t Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 C Favorite Cheese ~ I used half Pepper Jack and half Monterey Jack

Saute your peppers and onions with a drizzle of Olive Oil a couple of minutes to get the crunch out.

Put your crust in your pan. Next throw in your spinach, top with the peppers and onions. Top with cheese.

Beat your eggs, cream, salt and pepper together well..I actually gave it a whirl in the blender so it was nice and mixed up and gently pour over the toppings.

Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes until the eggs are set in the middle. Serves 8. I actually like the better as left overs.

Saute the peppers just a few minutes. You want to get the crunch out but not soggy.
Chopped spinach on the bottom and the vegis come next
Assorted cheese goes next
Give the eggs, cream, salt and pepper a whirl in a blender or just use a whisk and whip the crap out of the eggs.
Pour eggs over the top
Truth be told, I gapped a bit on getting it out of the oven so it's a little dark on top but it tasted great.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Fun

Alanna and I have been friends for years. Because of our friendship, our kids have grown up together. We're pretty busy during the school year but during the summer we spend a lot of time together.

I caught some fun photos of the kids playing 4 square and thought I'd share.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Tina

Tina is the second oldest in the family. Her and I grew up having Kool Aid stands and playing school.

There was enough of an age gap that she used to chaffeur my friends and I to the clubs on Friday night.

She is Dylan's Mom, as well as Jake and Serena's. Her and I talk at least once per day and we are each others sounding board.

Being that we are both hockey and dance Mom's we also back each other up frequently because our schedules often crash into each other.

I don't know what I would do without her!

Today is her birthday so I wanted to shout out...Happy Birthday Tina! Hope your day is FABULOUS!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Caramel Rolls

Made these this weekend and thought I would repost because they are YUMMY! Give them a try!

What you'll need:

2 loaves of Frozen Bread dough thawed
1 stick Butter plus 1/2 C melted
1 C Brown Sugar plus couple of Tablespoons
1/4 C Light Corn Syrup

We'll make the caramel first. Melt 1 stick butter and 1 C Brown Sugar in a pan. When it's all melted, add your corn syrup. Simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into a 13x9 cake pan, I also spray the edges with cooking spray so I don't have anything sticking.

You can thaw your bread dough on the counter or overnight in the fridge. I did mine in the fridge so I had to give it about 10 minutes to warm up. We're going to work with one loaf at a time.

Sprinkle your surface with a bit of flour and get some on each side of the dough. Pull and roll your dough into a long rectangle. Pour on 1/4 C melted butter and spread it around. Sprinkle your dough with cinnamon, don't be stingy. Sprinkle with some brown sugar.

You are going to start with the long side of the rectangle and roll. Kind of pulling as you go. You want a nice tight roll. Keep rolling until you have a long tube tube. Cut with serrated knife..cut the end off and put to the side. Continue to cut about an inch thick and place the rolls into the pan. Leave a little breathing room in between because they are going to rise.

Repeat with other loaf.

Cover with Saran wrap and put in the fridge to rise until morning. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. If you want to eat them right away, cover with dish towel and set somewhere warm to rise for about 45-60 minutes.

Let's make the caramel first

When it's bubbly, add corn syrup and let bubble for another minute.

We are going to pretend this is 13x9 cake pan. If you want to use the two round pans like I did, you are only going to use about 1 1/2 loaves of bread.

Get a little flour on each side.

Roll out your dough

Drizzle the butter

Spread the butter around, you can use your hands or you can use a brush

Sprinkle with cinnamon

Sprinkle with brown sugar

Start rolling

Start slicing

Put in the pan, leave some room.

Ready for the oven
Out of the oven

Let them cool for about 5 minutes and put a plate on top and flip

Spoon any caramel back on top of the rolls and serve.