Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Souffle a la Vanille

When I decided to start making a few of the dishes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking I knew souffle would be high on my list. I've always thought it would be fun to try, and who better to teach me how to make one than Julia.

I'd heard horror stories about fallen souffles and souffles that won't puff, etc, so I was scared to try it. (I don't like failure.) So I travelled all the way to Florida with my parents and roped my sister into making a souffle with me (and spent a week visiting and painting and hanging curtain rods). She's always ready for a challenge and she bolstered my courage. We chose to make the basic vanilla souffle. Our only obstacle....the kitchen.

My sister's kitchen wasn't just a space for making food, it was also the headquarters for the myriad of home improvement projects we were doing around her house. So we had to make a souffle in a kitchen that looked like this.

But make it we did. And here is the recipe (once again without all of the crazy cross-referencing that Julia always includes):

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter the entire surface of your mold (we used a small round casserole dish) then coat it with a thin layer of granulated sugar.

Measure our 3/4 cup milk. In a saucepan, beat 3 T. of all purpose flour with a bit of the milk until well blended. Mix in the rest of the milk and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Stir over moderately high heat until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 30 seconds. Sauce will be very thick. Remove from heat and beat for 2 minutes to cool slightly.

Separate on egg, dropping the white into the bowl, and the yolk into the center of the sauce. At once beat the yolk into the sauce with the wire whip. Continue with 3 more eggs, one by one.
Beat in 1 T. softened butter. Clean sauce off sides of pan with rubber scraper. Dot top of sauce with 1 T. butter to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.
Beat 5 egg whites and a pinch of salt together until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on 1 T. of granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
Beat 2 T. vanilla extract into the sauce base. Stir in 1/4 of the beaten egg whites. Delicately fold in the rest. (This is what the sauce looks like after the egg whites are folded in. It looks a little lumpy but that is just the air from the egg whites. It's good.)
Pour the souffle into the prepared mold leaving at least 1/4 inch between the top of the souffle and the rim of the mold.
Place the mold in the middle level of the preheated oven, and immediately turn down to 375 degrees. In 20 minutes, when the souffle has begun to puff and brown, quickly sprinkle the top with powdered sugar from a shaker. After a total of 30-35 minutes of baking, the top of hte souffle should be nicely browned, and a long thin knife plunged into the souffle center should come out clean.
Serve immediately.

I will say that it was a delicious, warm dessert. It tasted exactly like a custard pie only warm and soft and airy instead of cold and wet and slimy. I liked it, but I'm not sure why it is considered the pinnacle of dessert cooking. It wasn't that hard to make and it was the type of food you'd walk over burning coals for, but it was good.
This recipe is being linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tuesdays at the Table.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Manic Monday

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Reviews

I've finally taken some time to update my 2009 Reading List. I've written reviews of 4 more books that I've read recently.

Check it out on my sidebar at the right.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Picture Pages

I still have 2 days of vacation left to post about but frankly I'm procrastinating because those posts take hours to write. Maybe next week I'll have the energy to tackle them, but for now I give you some pictures.

I haven't had Kinley's pictures professionally taken since she was 1 year old. She is now a little over 3. Bad mommy! Anyway....when a friend started up her photography business I jumped to have some shots taken. We did a family pic and a kids pic but we mostly focused on Kinley.
And my absolute FAVORITE shot of the whole bunch......

Liz Hehman Photography rocks!! Check out her website and schedule a session today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And Then Kinley Said.....

Me: Don't put that ball in your mouth. You might choke.

Kinley: I can't choke. Pee-cause I'm a pwincess.

Upon sitting down to her first ever bowl of Rice Krispies:

Mommy! Sumpins wong wiff my ceweal. It's poppin'!!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bavarois aux Framboises

Inspired by the book Julie and Julia, and encouraged by the recent movie of the same name, I made my first foray into French cooking. I found Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck at the library and began perusing for recipes. I decided to begin with Bavarois aux Framboises (Raspberry Bavarian Cream).

I chose Raspberry Bavarian Cream because a.) it is a dessert, my favorite type of food and b.) it is one of the recipes they actually show Julie making in the movie. I began by reading the foreword to the cookbook which begins with the now famous line, "for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat." In other words, these recipes are extremely fattening and will take you all day to put together so don't have anything else planned.

The entire foreword is a hilarious admonition to return to the tried and tested techniques of the French in order to produce the most delicious food ever prepared by man. Les 3 Gourmandes write,
Each of the several steps in the process, though simple to accomplish, plays a critical role, and if any is eliminated or combined with another the texture and taste of the [dish] suffer. One of the main reasons that pseudo-French cooking, with which we are all too familiar, falls far below good French cooking is just this matter of elimination of steps, combinations o f processes, or skimping on ingredients such as butter, cream--and time. 'Too much trouble', 'Too expensive' or 'Who will know the difference' are death knells for good food.

Taking Julia's message to heart I followed the directions to the letter. I even read the entire recipe from start to finish before ever picking up the first spoon, as she suggests. And I didn't conserve the dishes either. After all, as Julia says, "A pot saver is a self-hampering cook."I used almost every dish in my cupboards. The only thing that I "cheated" on was using an electric mixer to beat my egg whites and whipping cream. Julia believes that beating with a bubble whisk gives a much more desirable effect. Well.....too bad. The use of my arm for the rest of the day is somewhat critical to me so I got my egg whites to stiff peaks the 'artificial' way. Sue me.

While I didn't find the actual execution of the dish to be exceedingly difficult, just making sense of the recipe takes a little work. You see the cookbook is divided into sections like any normal cookbook, but then it is also divided into 'master' recipes and 'variations'. So in order to make a Raspberry Bavarian Cream I had to first start with the Master Recipe for Bavarian Cream, which in turn begins with the Master Recipe for Creme Anglaise which is accomplished through techniques explained in detail in the "Fundamental Techniques and Information section at the beginning of the chapter. All of this results in a lot of page turning and cross referencing and general confusion. You can see why it is important to read the entire recipe before beginning.

So without further ado I give you Bavarois aux Framboises (with the intro written by Julia and her compadres, but without all of the crazy cross references).

Bavarian cream is a mold of creme anglaise (custard sauce) with gelatin, beaten egg whites, lightly beaten cream, and a flavoring. It is unmolded after it has been chilled, and makes a dessert as beautiful to see as it is to eat. When properly made, it has a most lovely, light , creamy, velvety quality and ranks as one of the best of the molded desserts.

We were curious to try out some recipes for Bavarian cream which claimed to produce masterpieces in seconds, so we experimented with the electric blender, raw egg yolks, cracked ice, and so forth. We also ran various changes of our own, such as substituting frozen fruits of ice cream for cracked ice. Though the molded results looked handsome, their flavor and consistency were disappointing. We have concluded that this particular masterpiece cannot be achieved in seconds; a cooked
custard, well-dissolved gelatin, stiffly beaten egg whites, properly whipped cream, perfect flavoring, and then the right blending of one element into another at the right time seems to be the requisites for a true Bavarian cream. The classical method below is certainly far from difficult, and the whole dessert may be prepared the day, or even two day, before serving.

1.) Gradually beat 1 cup granulated sugar into 5 egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms the ribbon. Beat in 2 tsp. cornstarch.
2.) Meanwhile dissolve 1 1/2 Tbsp. gelatin in 1/2 cup of raspberry juice.
3.) Puree 1 pint of fresh raspberries or 1 lb. of frozen berries. Push through a sieve to remove seeds. Set aside 1 cup of puree. I didn't have a sieve small enough to keep out the seeds so my bavarian cream had a little texture. I thought it was still delicious.
4.)Boil 1 1/2 cups milk. Beat the milk in a thin stream of droplets into the egg yolk mixture. Pour into a sauce pan and set over moderate heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens enough to coat the spoon lightly (170 degrees). I used a candy thermometer just to be sure I got it to the right temperature.
5.) Remove from heat and immediately add the gelatin mixture, beating for a moment or two until gelatin has dissolved completely. Rinse out the mixing bowl and pour in the custard.
6.) Beat 5 egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on 1 T. of sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
7.) Fold the egg whites into the hot custard. Set in refrigerator to cool. Fold gently with spatula several times while mixture is cooling, to keep it from separating.
8.) Beat 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream until doubled in volume and beater leaves faint trace on the surface.
9.) When custard mixture is cold and almost but not quite set, fold in whipped cream and raspberry puree. 10.) Turn in to molds. I don't have a large Jell-O mold so I used individual molds. Cover with lightly oiled wax paper and chill for 3 to 4 hours or overnight. 11.) To remove from mold dip outside of mold in hot water for a few seconds then reverse onto a chilled platter. The Bavarian Creams are best served very cold.

The Raspberry Bavarian Creams got rave reviews from everyone that tasted them. They were extremely light and airy with a slight raspberry flavor. The only thing I was disappointed in was the color. Because the custard is a pale yellow color when I added the bright red raspberry puree it did not make a pretty pink dessert. Instead it made a blush colored cream. One guest I served it to said, "I eat it just like this, with no crackers or anything?" He thought it was a ham salad of some kind. I do have to admit that it was kind of a hammy color. Next time I will add some food coloring to make it look a little more appealing.

Otherwise I wouldn't change a thing about my Raspberry Bavarian Creams. We tried them cold, lukewarm, fresh, a week old and on top of brownies and no matter how we ate them they were delicious. If you're are looking for an easy intro into French cooking then this might just be the recipe for you.

Come back next week for Souffle a la Vanille.

For more great recipes check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tuesdays at the Table.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Manic Monday

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Obviously I didn't get my recipe up today. My trip to Florida to surprise my sister has seriously cut into my blogging time. :) Eventually it'll be up here....and Jill and I are going to try another recipe from Julia's cookbook while I'm visiting. So, while you may have to wait a little longer you'll end up getting two French recipes in the end.

See you soon....as soon as I am back from the beach. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vacation: Day 8 Antietam

Our original plan for Day 8 was to pack up camp and go back across the Chesapeake Bay, through Maryland, up to Antietam and then on North to my brother, Eric's, house in Pittsburgh. BUT....since we didn't get to spend much time at the beach on Day 7 we decided to stay and swim until noon. Mom and Dad went ahead without us and we hit the beach.

Kinley and I built a pitiful sandcastle. I don't know much about sand, but I don't think that beach had the right kind for sandcastles. We had fun anyway. She also spent a lot of time collecting shells.
Of course the boys were swimming and body surfing like pros and once again they were dejected when we told them it was time to leave. As we were packing up I decided to try to take an "artsy" photo to chronicle our trip.
I also wanted a picture of the family on the beach with the ocean behind us. I asked an elderly lady that had been sitting near us in a beach chair reading all morning if she would take the picture. She said, "Sure hon, just tell me which button to push." I showed her the little silver button and posed with the family. This is the picture we discovered later.

Obvioulsy she had an itchy trigger finger. I should probably be thankful there isn't a close up of me in my swimsuit anyway.

It was time to leave the Atlantic Ocean and Assateague Island behind us, hopefully forever. (Not the Atlantic so much, but Assateague for sure. There are much better places to go to the beach. Places where you won't leave covered from head to toe in bites. Places where your kids won't be crying and scratching in their sleep. The really sad thing is there was a couple camping next to us that had come to Assateague Island from Florida because they had heard it was a good beach. They were not happy!) But before we left for good we had to snag a souvenir.

Next, it was on to Antietam. To tell you the truth Brian was the only one that still wanted to go. We had all had about as much history as we could fit in to one vacation. But he was driving, so what could we do? As it turned out we got there in the late afternoon and just did the driving tour. Compared to Gettysburg it was much smaller and easier to understand and invision all of the troop movements because they happened all on one day....instead of being spread over three days. Gettysburg was the blooidest battle of the war but Antietam (Sharpsburg for you Rebels) was the bloodiest one day battle of the war. And a lot of the casualties occured on this "sunken road".
The Confederates used the road as a natural fox hole. They hid inside and fought for several hours but Union forces were finally able to break through the center of their line. Meanwhile Union General Burnside was trying to take the bridge over Antietam Creek. We hiked to the bridge and stood right on the banks of the creek where Burnside's men tried to take cover from the musketballs of the Confederate soldiers that were hailing down on them from the hill on the otherside of the creek. Eventually Burnside was victorious but their were massive casulties on both sides. Wooden planks were ripped off of the bridge guardrails and used as headstones for the hundreds of graves along the banks of the creek. (I was apparently too exhausted at this point to remember to take any pictures of the bridge and the creek and surrounding hills.)

I did remember to get my camera out later as we got a good view of the sunken road and surrounding battlefield from this tower.It was a LONG climb up.

Like Gettysburg, there were monuments erected by various states all over the battlefields at Antietam. I took a picture of this one because I wanted to remember this guy and do some reasearch on him. I am telling you, somebody needs to write a screenplay about Thomas Meagher. His life was unbelievable!! It really would make a great historical action adventure movie. Meagher was born in Ireland in 1823. He became a fiery Irish revolutionary in an attempt to release Ireland from British rule. He earned the nickname Meagher of the Sword and fought countless battle in the struggle for Irish Independence. He was captured by the British and sent to a penal colony on Tasmania in 1848. He somehow managed to escape and make his way to the United States in 1852. He lived in New York City where he studied law and journalism. When the Civil War started he immediately joined up and formed his Irish Brigade. He worked his way up through the ranks of the army and eventually became a brigadier general. After the war he became the governor of Montana, but in 1867, in unexplained circumstances, he fell from a steamboat into the Columbia River and drown. His body was never recovered. You couldn't make something that outrageous up if you tried. Wouldn't that be a great movie?

Anyway, we left Antietam and headed for Pittsburgh. We didn't get to my brother's house until 10:30pm or so. Everybody was asleep, so we threw our blankets on the floor and immediately zonked out ourselves. It had been a long day....a long week, but we still had some visiting and some baseball in store for us.

Come back Wednesday to read about our AWESOME baseball experience.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing my first attempt at a Julia Child recipe. Don't miss it.

To read about Day One traveling and Day Two in Gettysburg go here.
To read about Day Three in Baltimore go here and here.
To read about Day Four in Washington D.C. go here.
To read about Day Five in Washington D.C. go here. and here.
To read about Day Six on Assateague Island go here.
To read about Day Seven on Chincoteague Island go here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vacation: Day 7 Chincoteague

This was our "adventure" day. In the Hayes family "adventure" is the polite term we use for things that go horribly wrong while on vacation. We just chalk it all up to an "adventure". It wouldn't be summer vacation without an adventure....but hopefully only one. Chincoteague Island was our adventure this year.

Not being the type of vacationers to just sit around or stay in one place for too long we decided to explore the southern portion of the island on Thursday. You see, half of Assateague Island is in Maryland and the other half is in Virginia. The Virginia end is called Chincoteague Island. The problem is there is no road from one end of the island to the other. We had to cross the bridge back to the mainland and drive on little two lane roads for an hour until we could cross another bridge and get back on to the island at the town of Chincoteague.
There were a few things we wanted to check out while we were down at Chincoteague. Dad was interested in getting an ORV (off road vehicle) permit. This would allow us to drive along the beaches and find our own secluded swimming hole and picnic spot. I wanted to see the lighthouse on the southern tip of the island and we all wanted to try out the surf at a new beach.

Chincoteague is a tiny little tourist town right on the bay. It is so stuffed with restaurants and shops and tourists that we could barely drive around. It took us so much longer to get down there than we expected that we hadn't packed a lunch. We decided to stop at McDonald's before heading out to explore. This is when we should have known that things were not going to go our way.

As we all piled out of the truck a worker from McDonalds came out to meet us in the parking lot to tell us that we were not allowed inside....and not because we had been camping for 7 days and weren't looking too hot. No, we couldn't eat our chicken McNuggets because there was no power in McDonalds. As a matter of fact there was no power on a large portion of the island. OK. No problem. We snacked on our endless supply of granola bars and went to go do a few things before lunch and give them some time to get the power back on.

Our first stop was the visitor's center to get our ORV permit and a map of the area. Guess what? No power there either! Dad went inside (where it was stifling with no air conditioning) only to discover that no ORV permits were being issued because some kind of shore bird was nesting on the island during that time. Scratch that idea. We did get a map though.

Next stop....the lighthouse. The lighthouse was just a short .2 mile walk through the woods off of the main road. Problem? Mosquitoes. Oh yes. The mosquitoes are just as thick on Chincoteague as they are on Assateague. I was sick of sitting in the truck doing nothing all morning so I decided to "deet up" and make a run for it. Brian, Dad, Ryker and Cainan were brave enough to go with me. Mom and Kinley opted to stay in the truck. So we danced our way out to the lighthouse. I say 'danced' because if you have ever seen a group of people try to walk while killing 5 mosquitoes a second at the same time it is more like dancing than walking. The nice thing is every person you pass on the trail is doing the mosquito dance too, so nobody is self-conscious. It's a fight for survival.

So....we get to the lighthouse only to discover that there is no power there either and what's more we are not allowed to go up in the lighthouse to see the view if there isn't any power. Why? I don't know. All I know is that the elderly lighthouse managers were standing up on the railing at the very top of the lighthouse shouting down to all of the tourists that they would open up again as soon as power was restored. They also made sure to let us know that they were not coming down....because there aren't any mosquitoes 4 stories up.

We did manage to learn an interesting fact about the lighthouse from a sign at it's base. As a Coast Guard Lifesaving Station the sailors that were stationed at the lighthouse rescued many civilians whose vessels that were lost in storms or stranded on the rocks. They made one very important rescue. President Franklin Pierce and his staff had to be rescued off of his yacht during a storm. All lives were saved and the Chincoteague Island Lighthouse had it's 15 minutes of fame.

After losing another pint of blood we decided to head out to the beach...after all, we had all been wearing our swimsuits all day anyway. Bad decision number 352. Our beach back near our campground is huge and roomy and great. This one was packed with people. We couldn't even find a place to park. We decided not to fight the crowds and instead head back (1 hour north) to our own little beach, where we should have stayed in the first place. Of course we still hadn't had lunch yet so we needed to find a place to eat.

The portion of the island that had power had no fast food so we had to eat in a real seafood restaurant. We weren't disappointed to have to eat crab legs and crab cakes again but......Kinley had an "accident" in her shorts earlier and had no pants to wear. She was wearing a swimsuit. Period. Not really appropriate for a sit down seafood restaurant. So I had to stop in a shop and get her some shorts. Apparently they aren't big on shorts in Chincoteague. I had to settle for a t-shirt that was WAY to big for her. So she went to the restaurant dressed in a nightgown and a swimsuit basically.

After lunch we headed home....to our own beach. But before we were even halfway back the beautiful sunny skies that had shone on us all day as we DID NOTHING on Chincoteague began to cloud up and pour down rain. It rained the entire rest of the day. So while we could have been swimming at our beach all morning in the sunshine we were instead having "adventures" down south. We had to spend the afternoon and evening sitting in the camper, with the windows closed and no air conditioning playing Phase 10, Puerto Rico and Dora Matching Game.

The kids were totally bummed! (And I wasn't to happy myself.) They were devastated to be so close to the ocean and not be able to play at the beach. In order to keep the peace we promised them that we would head to the beach as soon as the rain stopped. It finally stopped just a little bit before dark and as promised we hit the beach. The waves were scary big after the storm but Ryker headed right back out to them. We jumped and played and had a great time on the COMPLETELY DESERTED beach until it was so dark we couldn't see anymore.

And so ended the only yucky day of our vacation. The kids begged us not to make them sleep in the Mosquito Murder Tent again, so they spent the night in Grandad and Granny's camper and Brian and I braved the bugs by ourselves. It wasn't horrible as "adventures" go. We've had worse (flat tires, lost propane tanks, hours lost in the middle of nowhere), but it still wasn't fun. Thank goodness it was our only adventure.

Come back tomorrow to see how we redeemed ourselves on Friday and read about our next destination.

To read about Day One travelling and Day Two in Gettysburg go here.
To read about Day Three in Baltimore go here and here.
To read about Day Four in Washington D.C. go here.
To read about Day Five in Washington D.C. go here and here.
To read about Day Six on Assateague Island go here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Vacation: Day 6 Assateague Island

So on Wednesday morning we packed up our camp in northern Virginia and headed off to far southeastern Maryland, the Atlantic Ocean and Assateague Island. But first some background.......

The kids' only request of this year's vacation was that they get to go to the ocean. Four years ago they fell in love with the sand and the waves on the shores of Lake Michigan, but since then they've been clamoring for the real thing. Of course, Brian and I certainly don't mind a trip to the beach ourselves, and we were only going to be 150 miles from the coast, so why not?

We got online and searched for the "best beach near Washington D.C.". The result we got was Assateague Island. We looked it up on the map and discovered that it was indeed one of the closest Atlantic beaches to D.C. , but the deciding factor was when we told my mom about it. She immediately exclaimed, "Oh, Assateague Island! That's the home of the wild ponies. I read a whole series of books about them when I was little. I've ALWAYS wanted to go there!" So we went.

One of the neatest things about driving from Washington D.C. to Assateague Island is that you get to cross the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge. There are two massive bridges side by side across the bay. You can see ocean going cargo ships sailing in and out of the bay as you drive overhead. It really is an awesome sight. Of course it comes with a price. We paid $6 for the privilege of crossing it. Mom and Dad with their camper had to pay $16.

We arrived on the island (via another slightly less impressive bridge) around 3 o'clock or so. We confirmed our reservations and located our campsite. As Brian and I started to untie and unload everything the kids started exploring our new home. Kinley was intrigued by a pile of seashells that she found that had been left by the previous inhabitants. Within 30 seconds we heard screaming. Kinley was panicking. She was crying and jumping around. I had no idea what was wrong with her. I ran over to her and just as I bent to scoop her up I saw the problem. Her legs were covered in mosquitoes. And when I say covered I mean at least 20 on each leg. I grabbed her and swatted mosquitoes as I ran to the car. We shut the kids back in the car and started digging out the bug spray.

We didn't realize it at the time, but we had just discovered the terror that is Assateague Island. You see, it's an island, (obviously) which is surrounded by water. The Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Chesapeake Bay on the other side. There are two campgrounds on the island, Seaside and Bayside. The seaside campground has lots of gusty sea breezes to keep the mosquitoes at bay (no pun intended). The bay side campground has grass and bushes and trees and no breeze to speak of. Guess which campground we were in?

The bad news was we couldn't go outside...which is a little tough when you are CAMPING. We ran full speed from our cars to the camper or tent. If we had to be outside for some reason we wore jeans and jackets and hats and lots and lots of deet. We couldn't have a campfire or sit out and enjoy the sunshine. The kids couldn't ride their scooters or bikes without being covered head to toe in clothing....and it was slightly hot......definitely not jacket weather.

The bad, bad news was that there is no electricity on Assateague Island, which means that when we did have to sit around in the camper or the tent for fear of our lives we couldn't turn on a fan or the air conditioning etc.

The good news is that there were no mosquitoes on the beach. As soon as we walked over the big sand dune that separates the parking lot from the beach we noticed the difference. We weren't slapping and twitching and swatting constantly. People were wearing swimsuits, not parkas. It was such a relief. We stayed at the beach all evening until it got dark and we reluctantly had to go back to our infested campsite.

Now, let me address the ponies. First of all, they aren't ponies, they are horses. Pony is just a colloquial term of endearment. Legend has it that their ancestors were the lone survivors of a shipwreck near the island. The "ponies" then turned wild and populated the island with their offspring. There is no historical proof that there ever was such a shipwreck, but it is well documented that farmers in the area used to pasture their horses on the island. No need for fences. So, it is much more likely that they are descended from a few strays that missed the farmer's round-up. Regardless of their pedigrees we were anxious to spot these wild ponies.
As we pulled on to the island we began a contest as to who could spot the most wild ponies. I pulled out to an early lead by spotting one through the trees, deep in the forest. Then Ryker saw one near the shore of the bay. Then we set up camp and had the whole mosquito panic and climbed over the dune to the beach and saw.......

Apparently "wild" is a relative term. These ponies are less wild than my house dog. They were stomping over beach towels, ripping in to bags of potato chips, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. They were everywhere. They tried to break in to dumpsters and coolers and any other food container they could find. It was kind of neat to be able to go right up to them and pet them but it was a little disheartening to find that they were more of a public nuisance than some type of exotic wildlife. We were picturing them more like the wild mustangs in Nevada that we drove for hours trying to spot in the high dessert outside of Reno.
Anyway....the kids LOVED the beach...ponies and all. The waves totally frightened her, but Kinley was content to play in the sand for hours.

The boys, on the other hand were in heaven. They thoroughly enjoyed the surf. Cainan played it safe and stayed close to shore but Ryker was out over his head jumping and riding waves all evening. We had a great time trying to body surf and getting knocked senseless by the 6 and 7 foot waves. The boys definitely did not want to head in for supper.

But there was even more fun to come!

Since we couldn't face a muggy evening in the camper playing SkipBo, we decided to don our headlamps and head back to the beach for some crabbing. We had so much fun!

The weather was PERFECT! Seventy degrees with a salty breeze and an almost full moon...and NO mosquitoes. There were a few small groups of people sitting around campfires on the beach, but for the most part we were completely alone. We walked up and down the beach straining our eyes to see the little shore crabs scurrying in and out of their homes.
We managed to be quick enough (or should I say, Brian and Dad were quick, and brave, enough) to catch a few of them to get a closer look.And then we came across some of the ponies dozing just above the high tide mark. We saw the cutest little colt standing there sleeping.

It was getting late and we needed to head back to camp. We jumped in the back of Dad's truck, drove to the campsite, and dove through the small slit in the tent door for bed. I am not kidding when I tell you that the inside of our tent looked like something from CSI. There was blood smeared all over the walls. The hundred or so mosquitoes that came in with us when the 5 of us dove in every night had to be killed before we went to sleep. The kids would hide (heads and all) inside their sleeping bags while Brian killed the mosquitoes (simultaneously trying not to punch a hole through our nylon tent). I was the spotter. I would lay in bed with just my eyes and forehead exposed yelling out the location of the next victim. If we weren't so busy scratching I'm sure we could have laughed at ourselves.

Anyway...it had been a great day at the beach. The kids had a wonderful first trip to the ocean. Too bad it was all about to go downhill.

Come back tomorrow to read about our further "adventures" on Assateague Island.

To read about Day One travelling and Day Two in Gettysburg go here.
To read about Day Three in Baltimore go here and here.
To read about Day Four in Washington D.C. go here.
To read about Day Five in Washington D.C. go here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

Since we had a holiday yesterday and we didn't have to scarf down breakfast while running out the door, I decided to do something slightly more nutritious than cereal for breakfast.

I had some bananas rotting away on my counter so I set out to find a good recipe for some whole wheat banana pancakes. I had to go to AllRecipes.com first of course, and I found this terrific recipe.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed

Place the rolled oats into the jar of a blender and blend until the texture resembles coarse flour. Whisk together the blended oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, dry milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed banana. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

These pancakes were very fluffy and delicious. They had a definite whole wheat and banana taste. Next time I think I will make the recipe even a little healthier by replacing the oil with applesauce.

They were a big hit with the whole family and we had enough left over to freeze for breakfast today for two hungry boys on their way to school.

For more great recipes check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays. or Tuesdays at the Table.

Come back tomorrow to read all about the "adventure" portion of our East Coast vacation.