fall

A (Real) Season of Thanks

November. It's that time of year where there's a lot of warmth and coziness and good cheer and smiling faces. I truly, truly, love this season.  Anything that gets people to be kinder to one another, to think beyond themselves, to reach out, is a good thing, in my book.  And the holiday season does that.

However.

There's also the crazed reality of this time of year.  Shopping lists, budget stretches, overtired children, burned side dishes.  I always feel like there are moments where your choice is to either laugh, or cry.

I try really hard to choose laughter.

So in the spirit of the season, I thought I'd share with you my list of things I'm most grateful for. With a little dose of reality.

 

1. My husband.  A man with many, many talents, not the least of which is his ability to sleep through crying children between the hours of 10pm and 6am.  But!  I'm thankful that this full night's sleep means that he'll get up with them on the weekends.  So he's forgiven (during the daytime hours).

 

2. My daughter (4.5 years) . She is such an amazing little person.  Inquisitive and social and kind.  I'm thankful that she is also a master humbler: "Mommy, you should take a nap, you look tired.  And why are you wearing that shirt again today?"  She keeps me real.

 

3. My son (2 years).  A toddler who is ready to take on the world.  So much so that he doesn't want to ever sleep for fear of missing something. I'm grateful that he has healthy lungs that allow him to let me know that he doesn't want to sleep, and that this requires me to spend so much time sitting on the floor next to his crib.  I'm getting a lot of reading done on my Kindle.

 

4. My power.  I have many superpowers, but in this case, I don't mean my personal powers, but the convenience of electric power.  Yes, for lights and heat and computers and television,but especially for the coffeepot.  I know, I know.  You can make coffee without electricity.  I'm sure Laura Ingalls Wilder did it brilliantly But I need my push a button, ready in 3 minutes coffee.  Sometimes several times a day.

 

5. My home.  The place that's warm and safe and dry.  But I'm also thankful for the place to hide on the days when I don't get out of my pajamas till 4pm, haven't had a shower in 2 days, and am babbling from sleep deprivation.

 

6. My girlfriends.  As a wife and mom, these women are my lifeline.  And thanks to modern technology, they are all only a text or FB message (who has time to talk on the phone??) away.  I'm thankful that we can all be instantly connected and supported on the days when we don't get out our pajamas till 4pm, haven't showered in 2 days, and are babbling from sleep exhaustion.

 

7.  My writing.   Something that is for me, separate from my role as mom and wife.  I'm thankful I have this outlet to pour my energy into.  You know, at 8pm.  When my beautiful children are not climbing my legs or demanding another snack.  So after 8pm.  Did I mention I'm grateful for the ability to make quick coffee?

 

8. My health.  Three cheers for hearty, German stock!  I'm thankful that I'm blessed with good health.  Because nowhere in my "Mommy Benefits Package" is there mention of sick days.  I guess moms don't get those?

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9. My optimism.  This parenting gig is tough.  It's easy to get bogged down in self-doubt, worries, or fears.  I'm thankful that my outlook is generally optimistic.  Well, optimism with a side of sarcasm.  It works for me.

 

10.  My humor.  Not just mine, but that of those I surround myself with.  I'm thankful that there are people who are willing to laugh with me, at me (only when they have my permission, of course) and for me.  During those times we're exhausted, hungry, and frustrated because our child is exhausted, hungry and frustrated, we need those moments of laughter to keep going.

 

Happy season of thanks, ladies. My wish for you is that you  find moments of laughter and thankfulness amidst the everyday chaos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe of the Week - Savory Homemade Brunswick Stew

Autumn beckons, and for me that's soup season. This recipe is a winner for us because it's very flavorful, reasonably healthy, and makes a HUGE amount for delicious leftovers which somehow taste even better when reheated! Our version is based on a recipe from Southern Living magazine years ago, but with lots of tweaks over the time we've been making it. Feel free to customize it yourself and call it your own. This makes anywhere from 8 to 16 servings depending on how hungry everyone is!

1 whole chicken (small to medium size is good, say 3-4 lbs) 1 large onion, diced 2 green bell peppers, chopped 1.5 Tbs olive oil 1 large (28 oz) can and 1 small (15 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes, undrained, coarsely chopped (I use kitchen shears to snip them up while still in the can to save some mess) 1 small (8 oz.) can tomato sauce 1/4 cup sugar 3 Tbs white vinegar 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce 2 Tbs all-purpose flour 1.5 lb. white or red potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 tablespoon Cholula or similar hot sauce (if you like it spicy, add more!) 1.5 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (Don't skip this! And watch out because it'll dye your wooden spoons yellow.) 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 16 oz. frozen or canned corn, drained 16 oz. frozen or canned lima beans, drained

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the chicken and remove any giblets, etc. Place in a deep pot and cover with water. Boil for 45 minutes or until done.
  2. Remove chicken from broth and place on a plate to cool. Allow the broth to return to a boil over medium to low heat, and let it cook down until it is quite concentrated, boiled down to about two cups.
  3. Skin, bone, and chop chicken. Don't chop it up too small or it will all disintegrate later when reheated. One inch cubes are good.
  4. Cook the onion and bell pepper in the oil in the bottom of a large soup pot (this is a great recipe for a big enameled cast-iron pot if you have one, but any large pot will do, really, even the one you boiled the chicken in). When softened, add the chopped cooked chicken, both undrained cans of tomatoes, the tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Carefully scoop about 1/2 a cup of your reduced chicken broth from the pot it's been simmering in, into a glass measuring cup. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir into the chicken mixture. If there are a few lumps, don't worry, just stir things around and it will incorporate.
  6. Add the rest of the reduced chicken broth, as well as the potatoes, hot sauce, salt, turmeric, and pepper.
  7. Cover and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are fork-tender. This can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on your potatoes. When this is done and you are about 10 minutes away from serving, add the drained corn and lima beans, and continue to cook for the remaining 10 minutes or so. This is fairly forgiving if you need to leave it on the stove on low for a bit.

Serve over rice or with warm crusty bread.

Again, this reheats beautifully. We have frozen single servings of it to have as a quick go-to meal for later, and it's one of my favorite things to see a stack of these in the freezer!

If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share with our readers, please submit it here or email us at: submissions@themotherhoodcollective.org

Recipe of the Week - Pumpkin Cookies

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These are a fall family favorite in the Earl household. We typically only last a few days without before making a new batch. The best thing about them, besides the taste, is they can be relatively healthy if you follow my directions in bold and avoid the frosting. They are delicious both ways; I prefer them without the frosting but they make a festive addition to any party if you frost and top with a piece of candy corn.

Pumpkin Cookies 2 cups flour – I use whole wheat flour. 1 cup quick oats 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter softened – I substitute at least ½ cup coconut oil. 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar – I only use ½ cup and sometimes replace with honey. 1 cup of sugar -  I only use ½ cup of raw cane sugar. 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup Libby’s Solid Pack Pumpkin 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or M&M’s (optional) I skip this. 1 cup raisins (optional) – I skip this. 1 cup nuts (optional) – I skip this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Cream butter, gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin,  mixing well after each addition. Stir in morsels. Drop dough, using cookie scoop or teaspoon, onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-11 minutes until cookies are firm and lightly browned.  This recipe will make close to 60 cookies.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting 1, 3-ounce package cream cheese 1/4 cup butter 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer bowl beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla till light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth.