Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finish the Quick Takes Friday

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In today's installment of FTSF we are to complete the sentence I tried to cook...

a pumpkin pie.

My sister and I have a rare condition called Forget at Least One Ingredient Every Flippin' Time You Bake Something.   It's annoying as all get out, as we waste all sorts of time and resources in our quest for deliciousness.  Fortunately, we always remember the forgotten ingredient as the soon-to-be-baked good is going into the oven or as the item is baking.  We've never had someone bite into our food and say, "Um, something seems to be missing."

Hubby is not a fan of big family gatherings, but he will endure it because he love, love, loves his mom's pumpkin pie.  She makes it every Thanksgiving, and he drools for a month beforehand just thinking about it. 

Hubby's first year in law school, I was working for Kroger as a cake decorator and had to work on the day after Thanksgiving.  We could not go home for his mom's pie.  He was quite upset about it, so I agreed to make it.  Since my mom only lived two hours away, we went to her house for the big day.  She was making a lemon meringue pie while I made the pumpkin.  We were chatting and having a good time while doing so.  I had my mother-in-law's recipe in hand, and it really wasn't that big of a deal.  (Although, I think I did use a pre-made crust.  Don't want to try too many new things at once.) 

I got it in the oven, but there was a little niggling in my brain.  I knew I had forgotten something.  15 minutes later, I remembered. 

I didn't put sugar in the pie.

We let it finish baking, and after dinner covered that pie in whipped cream, hoping to fix the sugar problem.

FYI:  Sugar is an absolute necessity in a pumpkin pie, regardless of how much whipped cream you apply.

In honor of my failed pie, for the rest of the quick takes, I am going to give you all some tips.  I have a lot of kids and have been cleaning my house for many years.  Some of you younger mamas may find this stuff useful.
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When baking/cooking, get all of your ingredients out before you do anything else.  You don't have to measure them out into cute little bowls like they do on Food Network, but have them all out on the counter.   (I'm not fancy.  If you want to call it a work space and use those little bowls, be my guest.) 

As you use the ingredients, put them away.  Immediately.  Two cups of flour into the bowl, the flour canister goes to the cupboard.  A teaspoon of salt goes into the bowl, the salt container goes into the cupboard.  That way, before you put the batter into the baking dish, you can look and see that the counter is empty and be assured that you used everything.

Usually that works.  I made two loaves of banana bread last week. I've learned that doubling the recipe just doesn't work very well, so I make two batches. Since I didn't put the ingredients away as I used them when mixing up the first loaf, I forgot the vanilla and the baking soda.   I didn't remember that little fact until after I stuck it in the oven.

I took it out immediately, added the missing ingredients right to the loaf pan and gave it a stir, then let it bake.  When it was done, I marked it, "Don't give away."

I told you.  I have a condition. 

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Buy one of these, especially if you have boys.

Haan HS-20 Personal Handheld Steamer
A steamer has changed my cleaning life.  No chemicals whatsoever.  Pour in some water, then clean and sanitize til the cows come home. 

Just a few things I clean with it:

1.  The nasty crud around the dishwasher.  You know, that one inch all the way around the door that doesn't get cleaned when the dishwasher runs, but you can't see when the dishwasher is closed.  Steam and wipe.  Voila.  Clean dishwasher.

2.  Tile showers.  Nastiness is gone.  I spray it, scrub with a brush, and wipe away the grime.  There is a brush attachment that works very well on grout, but it's just little and takes forever to scrub the whole shower.

3.  Most importantly, the toilet.  You think your toilet is clean until you use this thing.  I don't care how old they are, boys are gross.  And they pay far too little attention when using the facilities.  Prepare yourself before you point the steamer into the little crevices on the toilet.  You will most likely gag on your own vomit. 

4.  Mattresses and couches.  Just to give them that "No dust mites here" feeling.

Just be careful, though, when you are using this thing.  I did burn myself once when I went to wipe the tile before moving the spray out of the way.

Because I'm juuuust this side of brilliant.

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While we are on eco-friendly cleaning, let's talk mirrors and glass.  Buy one of these:
I bought my microfiber glass cloth at Meijer.  Just go to the cleaning section of your favorite box store and pick one up for about $6.  It leaves no lint, it cleans really well, and it can go in the washing machine when you are done.  You just need to barely get it wet.  Barely.  And then wring it out.  I use it on our mirrors, the glass in the shower, the front door.  Everywhere.  And the kids can use it, too.

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While we are talking about glass, let's talk kids' milk. 

For those who have an aversion to the H word, I really, really, really strongly dislike sippy cups.  There are a whole variety of reasons for this feeling, but we won't go into that now.  It seems most people use sippy cups because their kids spill their milk too often if they don't.  (Or they just carry the blasted cup around everywhere they go, and one can't do that with a lidless cup.  Oops. Letting my dislike come through.)

Go to Goodwill and buy some thick-bottomed juice glasses.  Glasses.  Not plastic cups.

I know, the thought of giving a two year old a glass scares you.  Get over it.  All six of my kids have started using glasses before they were two years old.  In all of those years, they have spilled them a handful of times.  They have only broken one or two.   It's pure, simple physics.   Glass doesn't tip over as easily as plastic.  We do have plastic cups.  The little kids aren't allowed to use them, though, seeing as how they spill them every time they do.

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For those of you with toddlers in the house who love to unroll the toilet paper, I have an idea.  I know it sounds simple, but I didn't figure it out until toddler #3.  Turn the toilet paper around.  Instead of having it waterfall like normal people do, turn it around.  When the little naughty toddler goes to town spinning it, the paper will just spin, not unroll.

Please note, this doesn't last forever.  Eventually, your child will figure it out.  It usually occurs right around the same time that he is potty training and has all the time in the world to ponder the things around him.

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Playing games with your children is a wonderful way to teach your children a multitude of things.  I encourage everyone to play lots and lots of games.  Board games, card games, word games.  It's all good. 

Lots of parents are reluctant to play games because kids' games bore the tar out of them.  I get it.  Oh, do I get it.  That's why I stack the deck.  CandyLand?  I separate the cards, then put the candy cards in order throughout the deck so no one has to actually go back to the gingerbread riiiight before they win.  Matching games can drag on and on.  So I play a little differently.  Separate the pairs, then scatter one set around the house.  I sit on the couch and make them fetch the matching pieces. 

Lots of parents are reluctant to play because they don't know which games are appropriate.  They don't know what to expect from their kids.  In our house, we pay zero attention to the age on the outside of the box.  Cuckoo and Turken and I played Yahtzee today.  (Cuckoo won.  He managed to roll TWO Yahtzees in his first three turns.)   Yes, Yahtzee can be a really long game.  No one says you have to play to the end.  Tell the kids the length of time you will play then set the timer.  When the timer goes off, whoever is winning at the time wins the game.

Lastly, don't let the kids win all the time.  They need to learn that other people get turns to win, too.

Oh, wait.  Lastly, don't buy Chutes and Ladders.  That game bites.  There is no way to make it shorter.  And I get that stupid big long slide every time.  Every.  Time.  It has been banned from our home.

Feel free to head over to read more.  Or even link up yourself.  You know you want to.

Have a lovely day!

Finish the Sentence Friday


  1. Ah yes, baking related ailments. I suffer from leave-egg-shell-in-the-mix-itis myself.

    1. Ah, yes, the egg shells. They'll get you every time.

  2. Love all of them, especially the one about the glasses for kids. Seems so logical. And I don't think I've seen a steam cleaner before, but I shall definitely investigate - seems like a miracle tool. Thanks for the heads up.

    1. It seems that the most logical solutions are the ones that take us the longest to figure out.
      A steamer is remarkable. A friend of mine is also a lover of the steam, and we actually discuss what nastiness we cleaned with it. It can become addictive. Just a warning.

  3. Great advice really and I have never actually made pumpkin pie myself, but will totally take your word that you need sugar in it. Thanks so very much as always for linking up with us!! :)

    1. It is the only pumpkin pie I've ever attempted. I think my husband is perfectly ok with that.

  4. I always, ALWAYS taste the batter/dough of anything I bake BEFORE it goes in the pan. Something I learned when my mom was slapping together a coffee cake for a house full of company and gave the bowl to me to lick. Fortunately, she had not put the streusel topping on yet and was able to stir in the sugar. I have yet to contract salmonella from doing so.

    I use my mom's secret pumpkin pie recipe: buy Libby's pumpkin and follow the directions on the back of the can. I also use her secret pie crust recipe: buy Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, then roll it out slightly on a lightly floured surface, because it's a little too thick as is. By rolling it out thinner, no one will know it's store-bought, especially if you do a lousy job of crimping the edges, which I totally do.

    1. Ew. I'm not worried about getting sick, but I've never been a batter/dough eater. (That doesn't sound right.) You can actually tell if it tastes right before you bake it?
      Great idea for the pie crust!

  5. I think it is so funny that you forgot the sugar in the pie! My post today is also about forgetting ingredients- apparently I have that problem too. Your cooking tips were right on! Oh, and the toddler toilet paper thing? It's like you've been living in my house! Why did I never think of that? I will have to let my irritation override my type A TP goes over theory... Thanks for linking up with us, lady! I always love reading your posts!

    1. We should start a support group.

      It's startling when you realize a simple solution could have saved endless hours of cleanup. I know. I didn't realize it until the THIRD kid!

  6. i tried to make macaroni and cheese the way my husband's mom makes it. It's pretty creamy before it even goes in the over. So I bought everything, did everything, but I forgot to put the milk in. Imagine pouring mik into the cracks of mc & cheese that has been baking for 15 minutes already. Well that might have been okay but I forgot the egg too. So now I DO try to get fancy and have everything I need out and in individual food networky bowls.

    P.S. Our Chutes & Ladders game is at Mimi's house. ;-)

    1. Ha! The egg I can understand, as that's an odd mac and cheese ingredient. But milk?? Ha! You're lucky I have no room to judge. :)

      Mimi's house is a good place for it.

  7. C&L IS as long as Monopoly...
    Never used my steamer on a toilet. I think you've made me afraid to!

    1. Oh, Monopoly. That game wastes more time than the internet! In the spongebob version (we have at one point had 6 different versions of that game.) they have a coin that moves around the board. When it makes it back around to GO, the game is over. That is the version the kids were allowed to keep.

      Be afraid. But be brave. Do it! Do it! Any of the kids need a science experiment?

  8. This was a great story! Pumpkin pie is hard anyway--and without the sugar--well--blech--nice blog by the way!

  9. I definitely put things away as I cook/bake, and I try to do the dishes as I go along as well - might use a bowl and need a bowl again, so I'll quick clean the first one rather than pulling out a second, etc. I'm OK about using everything if I'm by myself, but heaven help me if anyone else is in the room and talks to me while baking - I'll end up with 4 cups of something instead of 2 or or some wacky measurement because I can't talk and count at the same time ... even in low numbers. ;)

    1. I gave my daughter some lessons in keeping the work space tidy, seeing as how she is a big fat slob in the kitchen. Tip #2 was to get the dirty dishes either in the dishwasher or washed right away.
      I get distracted way too easily. Clearly. Or I wouldn't make so many mistakes.

  10. I have the exact same condition as you and your sister. I almost always forget or miss an ingredient in a new recipe, and even sometimes an old recipe. I made a pumpkin pie once and mixed up the amounts on two ingredients. I put in 1-1/2 times the amount of evaporated milk called for (it was in ounces and I read the ounces for the ingredient below) and so it was too much pie filling for my crust. Poured out all over the sides, onto the bottom of the oven and was a mess that took an extra 30 minutes to cook and all the edges burned because the center wouldn't cook (I should have written about this in my post today). I enjoyed your tips. I'm gonna get one of those glass cleaners and I'm gonna tell my mom about the steamer - she never stops talking about dust mites.

    1. Obviously, pumpkin pie is not worth the effort. It should be banned from cookbooks.
      Your mom will love the steamer.

  11. Thank you for admitting that you forgot the sugar! I am an awful cook. Truly awful and it makes me feel so much better to read that I'm not the only one who always forgets an ingredient. Sometimes, I go the other route and put too much of something in. Either way, failure...
    And I want a steamer now!

    1. Get a steamer! You will love it. And maybe get addicted to it.

  12. I'm still trying to figure out why egg yolks are so discriminated against in baking. Everything I read says add egg whites. Not being a racist, I always add the yolks too! Perhaps I should learn discrimination, or simply stop trying to bake. lol Actually, your idea of putting out all the ingredients is a good one. I've done that for years, but I simply push them to the side when finished. Checkers is another great game for kids. Not only is it easy, but it teaches them how to logically figure out the concept of action / reaction / result. Great post, as always!

    1. Yolks are the best part of the egg. I am with you, except I'm a strict rule-follower. No yolks are added if they aren't wanted.
      Checkers is a favorite game of our four year old. It annoys me. The dentist and the library have great big checkers games, and he always wants me to play. I'm good playing at home, but at the dentist I want to catch up on my magazine reading!


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