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brrr... wintertime frappuccipo & other kitchen how-to's (and not-to's)

Ugh... made myself a frapuccipo (decided that it cheapens the thing to spell it "cheapo"; why should starbucks have all the fun with its fake-Italian terminology???).
 
They are nice & refreshing in the summer, but in January (Jan 1st!) when the temperature indoors is 17, what I do NOT need is a frozen icy beverage.  My hands can barely type this messge...
 
I made it because I drove Ted to work today because the TTC is on Sunday service, but all the Starbucks locations on the way back down (3 in all!) were still closed up tight, so I felt I deserved a smoothie.  Ugh.  I mean Gaah.  But it IS delicious, if a little ridiculous to be sitting here shivering, all bundled up, slurping down ice crystals...!
(if they find my body cold at the keyboard later on today, now you know why - please alert the authorities)
 
(CHAS V'SHALOM!  Of course!)
 
THE RECIPE, AGAIN, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
 
1-2 tbsp instant coffee (depends how strong you like it)
2 tbsp hot chocolate mix
1-2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk (depends how sweet you like it)
8 ice cubes
3/4 cup milk
 
Toss all ingredients into fabulous Osterizer blender.  Whir, whir, whir until the ice is almost but not quite GONE!!!
Can't believe I've had this beautiful blender for almost a year now... which means it's almost time for another birthday - and more presents!
 
The order of the coffee, hot choco mix and sweet condensed milk is deliberate, btw.  It lets you use the same tablespoon for all 3 and then to mix and taste the smoothie afterwards.  The coffee is dry and pareve.  The hot choco is dry but milchiks.  The sweet condensed milk is wet and dairy, but it doesn't mind getting a few grains of hot choco and coffee powder in the tin.  And at the end of it all, you have a yummy coffee-choco-milky spoon you can lick if you like.
 
While I'm on the subject of non-supper foods, I should mention PANCAKES!
My approach to pancakes has become a whole lot less formal lately.  (pause to check on non-sleeping Naomi) (yup, she's not sleeping... that's what I get for having a mellow morning at home and then a way-early nap - 1:30 after a few days of 3:30 naps...)
 
I have discovered that almost anything grain-based can be PANCAKES.  Especially leftover hot cereals, like the Bob's Red Mill creamy rice cereal that I use for the baby (way healthier than baby cereal, yet rice-based and totally digestible, I have used this almost from the moment he started solid food, as I did with Naomi Rivka).  But also leftover regular oatmeal, like the amazing apple-juice-cinnamon oatmeal I made on Monday morning that for some reason everybody hated.  (I used half-and-half apple juice, plus a whole cinnamon stick, and it smelled divine...).
 
Today, I took the leftover oatmeal, which I knew the baby still wouldn't touch, mixed it with a cup of Bisquik and two eggs and grated an apple into it for the most amazing, subtle-sweet pancakes - mmmmm....
 
If you don't have Bisquik, just use flour plus a bit of baking powder, maybe a tablespoon?  Oh, and add something oily like melted butter or oil.  I have discovered that as long as the consistency is about right in the mixing bowl, the pancakes generally turn out entirely palatable. 
 
Another nice subtly-sweet combination that tastes mild enough for anyone is leftover-rice-cereal pancakes with frozen blueberries tossed in.  Who doesn't have a thing of frozen blueberries sitting around?  Adds vitamin C and maybe antioxidants, or whatever else they say is in blueberries these days.
 
While I'm on the subject of kitchen tips, here's one I picked up from my lazy children!
 
This isn't for everybody; if you're an obsessive cleaner-upper, it'll drive you crazy.  BUT... as our home-composting activities grind down to just about zero, I have found a pretty decent way to capture valuable eggshells that would otherwise be lost to the compost heap, as well as some extra carbon. 
 
Instead of tossing each eggshell in the city compost bin, as we did last winter (I mourned the loss of each one to my compost pile, believe me), we're saving the shells, putting them back in the carton.  When the carton is used up, it sits in the fridge full of empty eggshells until a day that is nice enough to get out back and toss it into the compost bin, or until I can impose on a child to trudge their way through the snow to dump it in. 
 
The point is, I don't have to haul them to the backyard one at a time, or even have an active "garden-compost" bin in the kitchen all winter long.  Just hanging onto the eggshells may seem like a small thing, but it's helping me feel in touch with my garden even at the worst times of year.
 
However, the empty/full carton part may just drive us crazy before spring.  When you open the fridge door, you can't see at a glance whether it's a "real" full carton of eggs or an empty carton, full of eggshells.  I may put a labelling system in place, or just be extremely vigilant about getting the cartons out to the backyard quicker so they don't sit around.  I think the empty cartons bug Ted a bit.  He's more compulsive about neatness and to him this just seems like an extension of the kids' laziness.
 
The absolute worst last winter was Pesach.  I know, it's technically in the spring, but we didn't have a good system in place for kitchen composting for the season yet, and then got too busy with Pesach to worry about the garden.  We must have gone through literally a dozen dozen eggs - at least! - every single shell of which ended up in the bloody city compost, when they could have been an amazing gift to my garden, and specifically, to my tomatoes, which then suffered from the most stupendous calcium deficiencies the entire season (though, to be fair, blossom-end-rot can also be the fault of too much rain, which we definitely had this year).
 
Speaking of Pesach... because I knew it was going to get busy in the spring, I asked Ted if he could build my new tomato square-foot garden bed over the winter.  It'll be about 2 feet by 7 feet, and sit where the tomato planters were this season, with a trellis similar to the full-size sfg beds.  But now we're going away, and when we come back... well, we'll see what happens.   I just don't want it to be rushed before Pesach like last year, but I suppose it will be.
 
Speaking of going away.  Three grandmothers have weighed in now on the subject of taking their grandbabies to a war zone next week.  I believe they've all used the phrase "war zone."
 
We have reassured them all that we won't go if we think it's too dangerous, but now I'm saddened by having responded a bit glibly to Mary (the big kids' grandmother). 
 
She has so many eggs in those precious, fragile baskets now that her son is gone (my ex-husband died when Naomi Rivka was a small baby).  I was dumb; I forgot that for a moment when I was emailing her. 
 
I guess that is true all the time, but definitely more so at this moment.  I don't know how to make it up to her, but maybe I don't have to, as I always do treat her trust in me to raise her grandchildren as a sacred responsibility.  Or I try to, though when I'm hollering at them to go to bed, maybe it doesn't seem so sacred at every single second....
 
SUPPER TONIGHT (Wednesday):
No idea!!!
Uh-oh... better go figure it out!
 
<3 J

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