Sunday, March 09, 2014

Ten Years with Dad's Liver

There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said. Thank God that Anthony has done so well with the left lobe of Mark's liver (said least a million times!). Thank God that Mark has not experienced any complications himself (said it!). Thank God for the wonderful doctors, nurses, aides, techs who have taken care of Anthony over the years (said it!). Thank God for our family who supported us and who keep on supporting us (said it!). Thank God for our friends who have stood  by us and walked this crazy transplant journey with us (said it!). So now I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.












Daniel, Chapter 3: 89-90
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his love is everlasting.
Bless the Lord, the God of gods, all who fear him, give praise and thanks to him, for his love is everlasting!

Monday, February 03, 2014

King Cake Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

There is a restaurant here that serves some of the BEST bread pudding. They always serve a large enough portion to share (which I don't always do!), and the whiskey sauce is just right: not too overpowering; just enough to enhance the flavors of the bread pudding. One of the things they make during Mardi Gras season is king cake bread pudding. I am not exaggerating when I say it truly is one of the best desserts on earth. And, it's one of the things that they make that I'm not too afraid to try my hand at at home. :)

The recipe I found looked pretty good. The blog Raised on a Roux has some great recipes and I knew this one wouldn't steer me wrong. But the first thing I noticed was that it called for a store-bought king cake. Now, I don't have a problem with store bought king cakes but if I can make it myself, I'm going to! I've tried a few recipes over the years, and none of them have worked out the way I wanted them to (mostly because they were really elaborate recipes, and I'm a simple kind of gal). But when I found this one over at The Catholic Foodie, I knew I had found gold.

I made the king cake on Friday, and let it sit in my oven (after the oven had cooled, of course) until Sunday afternoon. The thing about a good bread pudding is that you want the bread to be a little stale so it will soak up more of the milky goodness that makes the pudding part of bread pudding. The only change I made to the king cake recipe was to sprinkle cinnamon on the dough before rolling it all up. I didn't use a filling, and I didn't make the glaze.

I'm not going to duplicate either of the recipes (they're both long!), but I will tell you how I assembled the bread pudding. I did make some changes to the bread pudding recipe, and the whiskey sauce recipe, and I'll note those here, too.

So the king cake sat out for a couple of days. I sprayed a 9x13 glass pan with cooking spray and broke the King cake up into manageable pieces.

After that, I made the milk mix. The recipe from Raised on a Roux calls for:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C half-and-half
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 pinch of salt
I chose to eliminate the sweetened condensed milk (and used an extra cup of half-and-half because, well, it was there), and used half of the sugar. I probably used a LOT more cinnamon, too. Once that was all mixed together, I poured it over the king cake.

I let that sit for about an hour, until the bread had soaked up almost all of the milk and then baked it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It came out perfectly.

Another change I made: I didn't make the traditional king cake glaze that the bread pudding recipe called for. I felt like having THAT plus the whiskey sauce was a little overkill. So I made the whiskey sauce out of powdered sugar, melted butter, milk, and vanilla. I don't have exact measurements, but I probably used 2 tablespoons of butter, twice that much milk, a couple of cups of powdered sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. I just mixed it all together until it looked like...bread pudding sauce (thick, but able to be poured). I took out about a fourth of this (for those who don't care for whiskey in their sauce, the weirdos), and then added whiskey to the larger portion (again, no measurements, but probably a couple of shots of whiskey). I drizzled that over the warm bread pudding and then sprinkled sugar that I had colored purple, green, and gold (those are the colors of Mardi Gras after all). The end result was delicious!

The only two things I think I would do differently next time is add more cinnamon and use regular milk instead of half-and-half (just for the sake of saving some calories and fat!). And instead of putting the cinnamon in the milk mixture, I would just sprinkle it liberally over the king cake before adding the milk. Lots of it. And maybe a little nutmeg, too!

This was so good. SO good. I can't wait to make it again. BUT, the next thing I'm going to do is make the king cake again...and fill it and glaze it just like it's supposed to be made. Because when we broke up the king cake to put the bread pudding together, we munched on a few pieces and it was amazing. I'm so happy to have found a king cake recipe that is ridiculously delicious.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Double Digits

Dear Anthony,

Today you turn TEN! This past year has been pretty exciting. Watching you change into the young man you're surely becoming has been fascinating for me.

You are obsessed with anything to do with science, and want to be a Chemist when you grow up. You bring home books from the library on the different elements, have parts of the periodic table memorized, and are constantly looking for experiments you can do. You email your Parrain (who is a Chemist) to ask him questions. We are also constantly Googling things to find the answer. Last night's Google search: what makes up steel?

This year, in fourth grade, you've joined the school band. You're playing the clarinet, and the progress you've made in four short months has been huge! You've played in one pep rally, and have a Christmas concert coming up. I love sharing music with you, and am so proud of the progress you've made.

Swimming is still a big part of your life, too. You push yourself to be the best you can be, and ask your coaches what you can do on your "off" days to improve your stamina and strength. I love seeing your dedication to this. I was never so dedicated to anything at your age!

This has been a big year for you in Cub Scouts, too. You've moved into the last group of Cub Scouts, and will spend one more year in the Webelos before you move on to Boy Scouts. You love when we go camping, and when you get to just be OUTSIDE.

You got to go on your first hunting trip this year, too. And while you didn't get the deer, I know you had a blast. You came home dirty, stinky, and full of all kinds of fun things to tell me. You even bought yourself a BB gun after the trip so you can practice your shooting for NEXT TIME!

You are a great role model for Benjamin. You come home, start your homework, and then go off to play. Most of the time, you let him tag along! You let him choose the shows you'll watch on TV, even when it's something like "Doc McStuffins"...something I know you think is "baby". You make sure he gets off the bus every day, and run to him to hug him in the mornings when he wakes up. Of course y'all fight - you're brothers! But mostly you just accept Benjamin and want him with you.

I thank God every day that he chose me to be your mom. I'm so lucky!

I hope TEN is everything you've dreamed it would be.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Liquid Laundry Detergent

I've had a few friends ask for this recipe, and so I decided to post it here for ease of sharing.  A fellow liver mom shared this recipe with me.  I haven't changed it at all from what she gave, but I'll add in my tips on how I've figured out how to make it easy!

Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • 6 cups of tap water
  • 1 bar of soap (you can use any soap you like; I used to use Dove's plain soap since the boys have eczema, and that was all their bodies could handle.  Now I use my cousin's homemade soap.  Want some?  Go to 504 Soap and get some!  I use the Nue 504P for my laundry detergent.  I use the Classic 504P for the boys in the bath, and the Peppermint Rosemary 504P for myself.)
  • 3/4 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
  • 3/4 cup of Borax Laundry Powder
  • 4 cups hot tap water
  • 1 gallon + 6 cups tap water
  • 4+ gallon Tupperware container with lid

First off, buy all of your supplies and keep them separate from your cooking supplies.  Why?  Because you don't want your food to taste like soap.   Trust me on that.  Go to the Dollar Store and buy a cheese grater, cheap pot, spoon, ladle, and funnel.  Buy a generic brand Tupperware container.  Don't spend a ton of money on these supplies.  It's just laundry detergent, people!  The idea here is good detergent on the cheap.

Grate the bar of soap into a large pot.  Add the 6 cups of water and heat it until the soap melts.  I do this over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the little soap pieces melt.  BE SURE that all of the soap pieces melt.  This will take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.  Also, don't stir vigorously.  You'll make suds and then you won't be able to see into the pot.  Trust me on this - I'm a vigorous stirrer.  Break the habit.  Also, don't let this boil.  Boiling is bad.

While you're waiting for the soap to melt, grab two plastic Solo cups.  No, this is not a drinking game.  Measure out the washing soda and Borax.  Pour them into the cups.  Mark on the outside of the cup where your washing soda and Borax top off.  Next time, you won't have to measure exactly.  Just get to that line and you're good to go.  

Once the soap melts, add the washing soda and Borax.  Keep the heat on medium, but be sure that this doesn't boil.  Stir until the powders are dissolved.  You can HEAR when it's dissolved.  It no longer sounds "crunchy" when you're stirring.  This stuff will get a little thick.  DON'T FREAK OUT LIKE I DID.

After the powders are dissolved, turn off the heat. Pour the 4 cups of hot water into the Tupperware container.  Add the soap mixture.  Stir all of this together until well combined.  Add the 1 gallon + 6 cups of water to the bucket.  I like to rinse my laundry pot with this water, just to make sure I get all of the soap off of the sides.  Stir it all up, and if it looks like watery snot, you've done it right.

Cover the Tupperware container and let it rest for 24 hours while it gels.  And when I say 24 hours, I mean it!  Don't touch that container.  This stuff has to thicken into a Jello-like consistency.  Eeeew.

After the 24 hours are up, I break out my immersion blender and mix this stuff up until there are no chunks - I make it become a liquid again!  I'm magical.  Then I use a ladle and funnel and pour it into 5 orange juice containers I've washed out.  Cheap, folks.  I'm nothing if not cheap.  Also, be sure to give it a good shake/stir before you use it each time.  You could just leave it in the container, instead of measuring it out.  I prefer to put it in the OJ bottles because it's easier to pour, and then my container is empty and ready for me to make more when I start using the last OJ bottle!

So, grab some dirty clothes and get to washing!  Use about 1/2 of a cup per load of laundry.  I use a tad less, because my HE Front Loader Samsung Washing Machine has a max fill line.  I've found that works perfectly for me.  

This stuff doesn't create suds like normal detergent does.  Don't be alarmed by that.  Be proud of the fact that you've avoided the additives that detergent companies put in their detergents to MAKE them foam.  :)