Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ham It Up Baby

Those of you tuning in expecting a cute story about my little baby,
who indeed, is quite a ham;
I'm sorry to dissapoint.  For I am talking about actual ham!
I have come to answer the age old question,
what do you do with leftover ham?
Well I thought I would share some of that good 'ole home cooking with you, 
straight from the hearts of my grandma and mom. 
Whenever I make a ham, I usually use some leftovers in my scrambled eggs, and almost always make Ham Broccoli and Rice casserole, but everytime (and this is in fact required in my family) I make ham and bean soup.  My whole family loves this soup, which is why we all make it I suppose.  Although each of us make it a little different to our tastes. My mom throws every type of bean known to man in there (garbanzo, kidney, northern, green, coffee beans*).  Whereas I'm not as big of a fan of beans so I use less.  This is how I made it earlier this week, and like I said before I don't really measure so I'm estimating what I used.

-Reserve juices from ham when it was cooked
-1 ham bone with ham on it
-4 cups chicken broth
-2 cups water
-3 carrots
-3  sm potatoes
-2 celery stalks
-1 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-2 bay leaves
-fresh parsley
-1 can great nothern beans
-2 cups green beans (I used frozen)

This makes a huge vat of it, it filled my 6 Qt crockpot to full, so you can easily cut in half if you don't want quite that much.  Basically what I did, was put everything in my crockpot and cooked it on high for 4 hrs. Then I took out the ham and cut it off the bone into little pieces and put it back in for another 15 mins or so just to get warm again. Super easy. IMHO the key for this soup being yummy is the reserve juices. Simply pour in a container and put in the fridge after you cook the ham. Don't worry about the fat, it will harden and you can take it out easily before you make the soup. You can easily play with the spices (be wary of adding salt though because with the juices and chicken broth it is already quite flavorful).
Good luck! 
Thanks to my mom and grandma for passing this on to me!

*Sarcasm detector: Please don't actually put coffee beans in your soup.  ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Pinch of This

I love to cook.
I grew up living on a farm with my grandparents right across the driveway, which was such a blessing.  Some days the men would be out in the field all day long, and us women (my grandma, mom, sisters, and little girl me) would be in the kitchen cooking wonderful meals.  It is like I went to culinary school all my growing years.
We always used fresh veggies and herbs from the garden, and we even had fresh chicken, pork, lamb, and beef depending on what our animals were for 4-H that year.
I was truly spoiled.

When I was wed and finally lived in a house all my own,
it was my turn to be the head chef.  
I wasn't sure how I would do without the wisdom of mom and grandma there,
but I soon found out that it was in my blood. 
And those times when my blood failed me, mom was just a phone call away.
It seems like 50% of my phone calls to her are cooking questions.

Cooking is truly an art form.
I love being creative with it and making up my own recipes.
A pinch of this, a dash of that.
"How much should I put in?"
You know, whatever looks and feels right.
And my husband will tell you that my experiments thus far have turned out really good.
Granted he will eat anything and is slightly biased, but I'll take it!

I hope to share some of my favorite recipes with you in coming weeks,
if I can figure out what to write down.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mmmm Carcinogens...

So you may have heard about this already but I would be remis if I didn't share my thoughts.  The World Health Organization has declared hormornal contraceptives (like the birth control pill) a Group 1 carcinogen.  A carcinogen is a agent directly known to cause cancer.  You may be familiar with other carcinogens such as Asbestos, Plutonium, X-Rays, or Mustard Gas to name a few. 

I have believed for sometime that the Pill is almost solely responsible for the dramatic rise in breast cancer over the years.  Now finally some doctors are brave enough to speak out against this magic Pill which has *insert sarcasm* liberated women from the chains of fertility and the bonds of domestication.  Actually this pill has been a 20th century plague devouring lives and marriages.  It boggles my mind that more people aren't talking about this, especially with the raging war against the tobacco industry.  I don't see how this is different, except for the fact that doctors are actually telling women to take it and that it is perfectly safe. Women are buying organic food, chemical free cleaners, and having natural childbirths because they are worried about all the toxins being put into their bodies, yet the same people are popping the Pill and not thinking anything of it. Anyway, if you want to read more about this, you can do so here otherwise let me take a second to share with you my experience with NOT using the birth control pill.

I have the most amazing husband in the world. He asked me to the Homecoming Dance my freshman year of highschool and we have been together ever since. We waited until marriage to be intimate, so the birth control pill was never something that I had to worry about or was pressured into in my younger days. While preparing for marriage I heard about Natural Family Planning on the Relevant Radio 930 AM and decided to look more into it. Being that it was what the Church recommended, I knew that spritually it was something we would have to learn but I had no idea how rooted in science and practicality it would be. A women's body works a certain way, whereas the birth control pill manipulates the proccess, NFP simply teaches you how to observe and work with your body. I was suprised how easy it was and how in tune with myself it brought me. It is free after the initial costs of learning (I think it was $75 for us) and it is obviously natural. Whether trying to avoid a pregnancy for serious reasons or trying to acheive it has been 100% effective for us. I could go on and on about the wonders it has done for our relationship and how amazed I am at how perfect God designed our bodies to work in accord with His plan, but for now I will just say that I can rest easy knowing that my body is safe from the carcinogen of contraceptives.

The pill just celebrated 50 yrs. I pray we will look back on those 50 yrs and say "what were we thinking?"

Friday, January 14, 2011

7 Quick Take Fridays (Vol 4)

It has been a little while since I've posted. I would love to get in the habit of blogging more regularly, but it isn't always easy being a full time mom with a part-time job. In the mean time, my poor husband listens to my rants and at the end says "that sounds like a blog".  It would really save me a lot of trouble if he would just transcribe my rants for me.

Speaking of my wonderful man, Divine Providence has once again pulled through (thanks especially to St Joseph!) Geoffrey's job was moved, months ago, to Crystal Lake, a town 1 hr 15 min away.  This was devastating as we only have one car, he hates driving, and I work 30 mins in the other direction. So after one day they sent him back to the DeKalb branch (where we live) because they didn't have their act together. Finally this Tuesday he was supposed to go back but it then got postponed a couple days. Just when he was going to start the commute, the current News Editor resigned and Geoffrey was offered the job! So this means he gets to stay in the DeKalb branch! This is really good news, and I'm very proud of my husband and his promotion!

The past two nights when going to bed, Dominic, even though really tired spent a half hour being really goofy and laughing before he gave in and fell asleep.  He was giving me kisses and raspberries on my cheek and thought it was really funny, as did I. Geoffrey came in the room and declared that he is in fact his mother's son, because when I get really tired I am really silly and laugh at everything. I will cherish these times.

Dominic is really getting big! He can stand on his own for a while and is so close to walking.  It won't be long now, and then I will have to make sure I'm always wearing my running shoes.

Dominic wore his overalls today for the first time and I declare that it was ubercuteness. Complete with a flannel shirt, he was a true farm boy. At work our "fix it guy", also known as Jerry, even gave him a wooden hammer to put in his hammer belt. He fixed lots of stuff today, including my head which apparently need hammering. Come to think of it, I have been told I have a few loose screws before. I guess dad needs to have "the talk" with him, you know the difference b/w a hammer and a screw driver.

Our poor little guy has been teething something fierce and has been a little grumpy. When he is having a hard time falling asleep or calming down I start praying the Rosary and immediately he settles down. The monotonous rhythm of the Hail Marys is very soothing to him, which is something I can totally relate to. Those beautiful prayers have more than once been my peace.

Exciting news today out of the Vatican, Pope John Paul II will be Beatified on May 1st!! There have been many miracles tied to his intercession already, but the one approved is a French nun who was completely cured of Parkinson's Disease. This is a great day for the Church!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Unsent Letter Part II

My part of the Christmas letter.  Thanks again for reading!

This sure was a big year for our growing family. We celebrated the arrival of our precious little boy Dominic, and we bought our first very own house! Here are some of my reflections on the past year. May God bless you and your families throughout the coming year and always.

*Years of not feeding the dog, Payton, from the table can be quickly undone when a 9 month old realizes that the dog will eat his carrots.

*Experiencing stuff for the first time through the eyes of your child is truly a treat. Whether it is a new food, the first snow, or a beautiful song.

*Parents have always said that when a little kid gets a new toy, all they want to do is play with the box. Dominic is no exception. His favorite toys are generally the kitchen strainer, the buttons on the television, the Xbox controller, and anything that goes in Payton’s mouth. Yuck!

*Making up silly songs and singing them to your children is a serious disease in my family. It is finally confirmed, I do have this. Don’t worry, it probably isn’t contagious.

*When you buy a house, make sure to paint every inch of every wall and closet, and choose as many colors as possible to make things really difficult.

*The Office theme song makes for great dancing music, at least Dominic thinks so.

*Do as many St. Joseph novenas as you want, he will always come through. He has twice found us a house!

*Watching your beloved husband become an amazing father, is just about the coolest thing ever.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Unsent Letter

I've always wanted to send out a Christmas letter, and this year we came close. Next year the goal is to get it in the mailbox out to all our wonderful friends and family! But seeing as it is Christmas until Epiphany Thursday I thought I would share it via teh interwebs. This was written by my wonderfully talented and loving husband. He has such a beautiful way with words and this is no exception. Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoy! (I will post my part tomorrow).

    For many people, Christmas simply boils down to a time of stress—a time for too much to do, in too little time, a time to worry about what to get for whom and who we’re leaving out, a time for cold, a time for shoveling, for high-heating bills and higher costs at the pump. But, when I look back over this year and remember just how blessed I’ve been with graces, generosity and good will, it’s tough for me not to disregard all those other things and discover my Christmas spirit.
    This was my sons’ first Christmas, and though I know he won’t remember it, I think we made some good Wells Family memories. Dominic turned 9 months old on December 9th, and he is a crawling, giggling and screaming machine. He’s such an absolute joy to have, and I’m so excited to make Christmas the same magical time that it was for me as a child. He is healthy, happy and never ceases to have a smile for me, and those blessings alone made this the best Christmas of my life. It’s an incredibly powerful experience to witness him grow, from his first teeth to standing on his own. He’s not quite yet old enough to learn about dinosaurs and light-sabers, but rest assured, I’m on it.
    On May 1st, we moved out of our house of three years in Sycamore. It was a scary time, but we were graciously welcomed into the home of Dacia’s parents. Living in the country for half a year was a wonderful experience, and though I struggled to remember how to share the remote and keep the volume down, I can honestly say it was nice to be in a full house again. I will always hold dear how close I became with my brother and sister-in-law, and how more often than not, it felt like a long sleep-over than a hurried hotel stay. I can’t thank my mother-in-law, Terri, enough for all the warm meals and hot showers she provided, but more than that, I was overwhelmed with her patience—with us in finding a new home, but especially, for my dog, Payton. Her patience with the dog hairs that will certainly be popping up on pillows and in glasses for months to come prove that she’s well on her way to sainthood. More than that, I’ll never forget how thankful I was to have my son’s initial months be spent in such a beautiful, welcoming place, filled with love and happiness. What could have been the beginning of a nightmare ala Montell turned out to be a dream come true.
    In early May, Dacia became Youth Minister at a Parish in Rochelle, and finally we felt confident enough to continue our house hunt. On the morning of September 10th, we signed the papers and officially became homeowners! The house in itself was a blessing; it was in good shape, the price was right, and it came with tons of stuff we otherwise would’ve had to purchase separately on our own. On top of all that, it is sandwiched right between both our parents’ houses. We were also overwhelmed by the response and willingness from family and friends to help get the place ready for us to move in. All the painting, flooring (thanks Jeremy!), moving, and praying paid off in November when we spent our first night in our new home. After months of sleeping on an air-mattress (albeit a comfortable one) it was nice to be back in our own bed. The help we’ve received from family financially has brought me to my knees more than once, and I’ll never let Dominic forget that if it weren’t for Aunt Chrissie, his occasional bonks wouldn’t be padded by the best carpet money can buy.
     With so much to be thankful for, it’s easy to let proper thanks slip by, but all of your support for our growing family has not been ignored and will never be forgotten. The pillars of my faith are strengthened daily by the graces we’ve gained through your toils, tears and intercessions. May the spirit of the season remain with you always, and I pray that 2011 will bring you the same fortune, rejoicing, and humility that Dacia and I experienced so fully in 2010! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!