Pumpkin Pie (with Gluten-Free Option)

pumpkin-pie

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Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

It is our church’s Harvest Supper today and I am bringing pumpkin pie.  Twenty-three years ago, when I was asked to bring my first pies to the Supper, I had never made my own pie shells but had watched my mom do it many times.  It couldn’t be that hard, right??

Now I know it’s not, but that first year, and for many years afterwards, I struggled with it.  Too much water or not enough water, too much kneading, ripped then patched-together dough…I could make bread, how come I couldn’t make pie crust??

One year my husband rushed into the kitchen after I had let out a blood-curdling scream. Instead of finding me cut and bleeding, instead he found me crying with dough stuck to the walls.  Yup, not a pretty sight.  He led me out of the kitchen and took over the pie making.  And that’s what he did for many years, and he still usually makes our pies for the Harvest Supper, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  But not always.  As for me…

This year I used frozen pie shells, with homemade filling.  Still tasty, and mostly homemade.  I have mastered the art of pie crust making…but often take the lazier (and still tasty!) way out. Life has enough stress already, wouldn’t you agree??

Here’s our family’s favourite recipe!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie

Makes 2 large pies.

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. mace
  • one 28 oz. can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups 10% cream or whipping cream, or a combination of the two
  • two 9″ pie shells (homemade or frozen) (or skip the pie shells for the gluten-free option)

With electric mixer on low, blend together brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, mace and pumpkin.  Add your eggs, mixing well.  Blend in the cream.  Pour your mixture into the ready pie shells.  Place the pies (and ramekins) on the bottom rack in the oven (I like to place them on a cookie sheet in case of overflow) and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes more or until firm and crust is well browned.  A knife inserted into the center of the pie should come out clean.  The pie will often crack near the center when it is done.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

GLUTEN-FREE OPTION:   Instead of using pie shells, or if I have too much pumpkin mixture for my pie shells, I like to pour the mixture into greased ramekins.  It makes a tasty, gluten-free option.

Book Learning Only 4 Days a Week

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Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

We used to take Fridays off of “book learning” and do alternate kinds of learning.  Now we are more spur of the moment homeschoolers and we kind of go with the flow.  It could be any day of the week, or a couple in a row, and that’s an advantage of homeschooling.

Does it have to be a weekday?  NO – learning continues 7 days a week.

Does it have to be every week?  NO – don’t stress it out.  Life already has enough stress.

We need to guard against stress.  Being a mother is stressful and many homeschooling mothers burn out and give up.  Take some time to have some fun, or just sit back and relax and enjoy each other.

SOME IDEAS:

  • take an outing to a museum or art gallery
  • take a walk in the woods
  • go to a movie at the theatre
  • stay home and play games
  • take a tour of a shrine
  • have a pizza lunch and invite another homeschool family to join you
  • take in an amusement park
  • take a morning to finish that book together that is getting really interesting
  • visit an elderly relative
  • play frisbee at the park
  • take in story time at the library
  • join a homeschool co-op
  • do some early Christmas shopping
  • have a games day
  • take out the craft supplies and get creative
  • turn on the music and start dancing
  • take out some instruments and make a joyful noise
  • let the kids put on a skit using their stuffies
  • start exploring the internet together
  • write a story together
  • have a tea party and dress up
  • do an experiment
  • do some gardening
  • clean the toy room
  • host a mini olympics
  • go to a play
  • tell jokes
  • take in a sports game at the local high school
  • do a mini-retreat

There’s no limit to the possibilities!

What is your favourite “down day” adventure?

 

Home School Spirit Week 2016

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

COMING SEPTEMBER 26-30!  Mark your calendars!  International Home School Spirit Week!

crazy-hair-day

COMING SEPTEMBER 26-30!  Mark your calendars!  International Home School Spirit Week!

Monday, September 26th- Crazy Hair Day
Tuesday, September 27th- Out and About Day
Wednesday, September 28th- Super Hero Day
Thursday, September 29th- Movie Day
Friday, September 30th- Giving Back Day

GO AHEAD!  Make this year a great year!  Join with another family and make it extra special!

Check out Home School Spirit Week

 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Hi!  I’m Melina, mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

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Had this for the second time last night.  This was so good!  And easy to boot.  I served it with a Caesar salad.

SLOW COOKER PULLED PORK

  • 1 pkg. Epicure pulled pork seasoning
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder or butt roast

Mix the first 5 ingredients right in the slow cooker.  Add your pork roast and turn to coat.  Cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours.  When cooked, pull pork apart into strands with a couple of forks.  Return pork to the sauce and stir to coat well.  Serve on buns or baked potatoes, or even eat as is.

ENJOY!

You can get your seasoning from Epicure here.

Notes:  I used a loin roast because that was all I had.  It worked but was a lot of work to “pull”.  I found it a little watery – I’m going to try omitting the water next time (hoping for good results!), but it was good even with the water.  I read that letting the pork sit for 30 minutes before “pulling” can make the experience of pulling easier.  It was worth it though!  Will definitely be doing again.

Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

Mary and Martha Bible quote

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Hi, I’m Melina, mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

While praying this morning, I had the distinct impression of me sitting at the feet of Jesus.  I pictured those who sat at the feet of Jesus before me:  His parents, the teachers in the synagogue when He was only 12, His disciples, and of course Mary, sister of Martha.

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I pictured myself sitting at the feet of Jesus:  when I go to church, when I read scripture, when I sit before the Blessed Sacrament, when I pray a rosary, when I walk in nature, when I laugh….

Not just when I do these things, but when I quiet my mind and listen with my soul…that’s when I sit at the feet of Jesus.

That’s when I can hear Jesus’ soft whisper encouraging me, guiding me, leading me:  when I let go, and let God.

Praying with a Baby and Littles

Hi!  I’m Melina, mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

I recently encountered the question in a Catholic Mothers’ Facebook group, “What kind of shape does your prayer time take when you have your baby & littles around?”

I didn’t have to think long to come up with my answer.

We’ve always prayed a rosary with our kids – right from the beginning. Daily mass was important to me too – for the graces I needed for my day, but also it was a shorter mass to teach my kids to be good, so that come Sunday they were better behaved at mass. I was always part of a bible study that “forced” me to schedule the reading of scripture and meditate on it. Middle of the night feedings gave me time for scripture reading or Mercy Chaplet. That was my “alone” time with the Lord even though the baby was present. I tried adoration but I would always fall asleep from lack of sleep. Then I read the book The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood where Mary is speaking to a young mother encouraging mothers to pray all 15 (now 20) mysteries of the rosary daily. I would start the morning praying a decade, and squeeze in as many decades each day as I could – while driving, folding clothes, washing dishes, nursing the baby, watching the kids play at the park, before falling asleep at night, during middle of the night feedings. Even if I didn’t finish all 20 mysteries, I would continue the next day where I had left off and then start all over again. This is the number 1 best thing I have ever done. I had 11 kids in 13 years and homeschool, and now that there are no babies in the house any more, I still continue this rosary praying and have reaped immeasurable graces from it. So it is true, one day you also will have no more babies in the house and the perseverance you have now with prayer will have a chance to blossom even more later on. Now, the days where I can pray all 20 mysteries all at once (during my morning walk) are my mini-retreat where God teaches me something new each time and builds my desire for adoration, scripture and sharing Jesus with those I meet during my day, especially my family.

Tea Biscuits

From Grandmelina’s Kitchen

tea biscuits 2

These always get a lot of compliments when I bring them to potlucks and the kids love them.  I loved eating them warm with butter (before my paleo days).  Make sure your baking powder is fresh.  Enjoy!

TEA BISCUITS

(Makes 12-18 biscuits)

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 4 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup lard (or butter)
  • 1 cup water (or milk/buttermilk)

Mix together the first 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Cut in lard (using a pastry cutter or 2 knives crisscrossing lard) until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the water slowly, stirring with a fork.  Stir until mixture sticks together and forms a ball.

Dump the ball (and any leftover dry ingredients still in the bowl) onto a well floured surface (I like to use a cookie sheet to make clean up easier).  Knead the ball until smooth, dusting with more flour as necessary.  DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!!!  As soon as it is smooth, stop kneading.  With your hands flatten the ball until it is about an inch thick.  Cut biscuits out with a floured round cookie cutter or a floured glass.  Gather the leftovers into a ball, flatten again, and cut more biscuits.  Remember to handle as little as possible to get the fluffiest biscuits.

Place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet at least an inch apart (unless you like soft edges then make them touch).  Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes.

 

 

 

Morning Prayer

 

Luke 10 38-42

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

I wake up in the mornings and I immediately start thinking of all the things that need to get completed that day.  I’m making lists in my head, then transferring them onto paper…first, so that I can prioritize and second, so I don’t forget anything.  I may be known to forget important things, and maybe to double book…

I have learned through trial and error that my day is much better and my mood is more pleasant if my day starts with prayer.

Morning prayer for me has taken different forms over the years.

When I was a teen/young adult, my day started with PRAY praise, repent, ask and yes to the Lord  – followed by LMNOP listen, message, New Testament reading, Old Testament reading, Proverbs reading.  I filled my journal and was pleased to look back on what was written and see how the Lord was working in my life.  There were often patterns and recurring words.

When I was dating my husband, we would meet for 7am mass (we lived almost an hour apart) at a central location.  We made sure to go to confession each of those mornings before mass started so that we would remain pure in our relationship to each other.  Even though we weren’t perfect, we were virgins when we got married.

When the kids were little, our church still had daily mass and I tried never to miss.  I needed all the graces I could get to remain focused on the Lord in my chosen vocation.  I love being a Mom but things can get overwhelming at times.  I wanted the kids to love Jesus and church as much as I do.  There was a time when it was just me and the kids and one older couple who would meet in our pastor’s home for mass during the winter months.

Now we have mass just on Sundays and Wednesdays but we’re there faithfully.

Even though rosary was always a part of our family’s life, it moved to the mornings to replace the lost morning mass.  Rosary is followed by each of us taking a quiet time with the Lord and filling our journals with scriptures and words (and pictures) to reflect His faithfulness to us.

Now that I no longer have babies to worry about, I try to get out in the mornings before family rosary (consisting of 5 mysteries) to walk and pray those other 15 mysteries of the rosary.  On the days that I do accomplish this, I am able to move beyond “saying” the prayers, to meditating on the mysteries and contemplating the Lord’s work in my life – with its joys and struggles.

Of course my prayer doesn’t end in the morning.  It only blossoms from there.  Now my spirit is looking for quiet words with the Lord all day long.

OVERWHELMED?  Then start with PRAY – Praise the Lord, Repent of the wrongs you have done, Ask the Lord to fill your needs and the needs of those around you, and say Yes to the Lord, giving Him permission to work in your life today.

The result is more laughter and more faith, having placed the Lord at the center of my day. My duties are performed with more joy and peace, having left my worries on the altar of the Lord.

God is good!

 

 

 

Empty Rooms but a Full Heart

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11, and Grandmelina to 2!

Yesterday I got a call from a 2 1/2 year old.  After a little coaxing, I had a conversation about jumping on the bed.  It lasted approximately 2 minutes before my granddaughter hung up the phone.  And her mom had no idea the rascal had actually made the call before she retrieved her phone from the little thief.  A blessing and a laugh – God is good.

I’m sitting here this morning at my computer listening to the birds chirping outside and the odd car driving by.  But what I miss most on these quiet mornings is the sound of little feet and little voices.

It is almost a month since my 2 granddaughters and their parents have moved on.  After living with us for almost a year and a half, their absence is keenly felt.  No little hugs and kisses on a daily basis, no other woman in the house to share parenting adventures with, no other man in the house to share laughter with…and 4 empty spots at the table.

The day they moved out, I stood in their empty room upstairs.  I stood in the silence and felt the loss.

But new adventures await as God calls us on, for them and for us.  As each of our kids move on, we feel the loss and rejoice in their decisions.  Even though the rooms are empty, my heart is still full.

Cookie Mania – the Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

This has been a favourite in our house for years.  Some like it with raisins, some without, some like it with spices, some without…  We usually make half with raisins, half without, and no spices.  Always at least a double recipe.  Enjoy!

The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil (I personally don’t like the taste of olive oil in the cookies)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until frothy.  Beat in both sugars.  Add cooking oil and vanilla.  Beat.  Add the dissolved baking soda.  Stir well.  Add the oats, flour and salt (and spices, if using).  Stir well.  Add in the raisins, if using.  Stir well.

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet (you can alternately use a silicone baking mat or some parchment paper).  Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 8-11 minutes.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen