Bass Brigades, by Jacob

My son Jacob wanted to share about his Brigade experiences.  I can attest to the changes this camp has had in my son’s behavior and maturity!  I highly recommend these camps – they are amazing!  Now, here is what he has to say:

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The Texas Brigades is a wildlife conservation camp, where they teach the cadets leadership skills like public speaking, team building, and how to perform interviews.  At the same time they are also teaching them about wildlife habitat, animal biology, habitat management, and everything in between. There are six different brigades : Bobwhite, Buckskin, Bass, Ranch, Waterfowl, and new this year is Coastal. I have been to Bobwhite which focuses on quail, and recently attended Bass Brigade which focuses on freshwater fish. Each camp focuses on different plants, trees, animals, and habitats and I learned something different at each camp.

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Last year was my first year to attend a brigade camp, and I went to Bobwhite as a cadet. Prior to this camp I knew next to nothing about a bobwhite quail. Over the course of a week, I learned all about radio telemetry (tracking animals), habitat needs for quail, firearm safety, and much more.  Some of the activities that they had was a mock stake holder meeting, where each group was assigned a viewpoint to represent and then present their viewpoint in front of a board of representatives; and while at the camp, each cadet designed and assembled a trifold for presentations. I especially enjoyed media training, where we practiced giving radio and television interviews.

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While at camp, they told us that we could return as assistant group leaders. The requirement was that you went out into the public and educated people, whether that was thru a speech, or a trifold presentation. To help encourage the cadets to get out and educate, they had an early bird hunt, where if I did ten things before November 1, then I would get a free hunt. I was determined to return to camp, so I completed as many things as I could. I earned the early bird hunt in November, and was able to return to Bobwhite Brigade camp this year.

At camp they have three positions for the youth to perform, cadet, assistant group leader, and special agent. I was a special agent, so my job was to help the whole camp out in any way I could. I helped fill water coolers, run errands, helped cadets work on projects, scored quizzes, and help with the trivia contests. Since I was returning to help out, I attended the camp for free, and I received a scholarship while there. I loved getting to meet new people, and make new friends.

I was especially looking forward to Bass Brigade, and was wondering how it would compare to Bobwhite Brigade. While at camp I learned about fish anatomy, habitat requirements, how to tag and track fish, different casting techniques, and how to make lures. We also practiced fish collection methods like electro-fishing, where we used electric currents to stun the fish for easy collection. I enjoyed the media training, and the stakeholder meeting as well, and it was really neat to see the differences in the camps. I hope to return next year as assistant leader.

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Through the Texas Brigades, I have become more confident and sure of myself in front of a group, and I have become a better leader and team builder as well.  If you are interested or know someone who would be you can find all of their information at www.texasbrigades.org, it has all of their contact info, as well as information on all of the camps. The fee for the camp is $500, but scholarships are available, and they encourage you to solicit some or all of your funds from your local soil and water district, wildlife committee, and local outdoor supply stores.

Table for 14

Holy Cow!!  We are about to have 14 people under my roof.  That’s right!  Kristen and her family are coming to visit for 3 nights!  We are so excited to see them, its been 2 years since we saw them last!!

However, feeding 14 is not a small task!!

So when I brought home a box (25lb) of peppers, I figured why not?

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I looked up a Paleo Friendly recipe for stuffed peppers and whipped them up and froze them!!

First we grabbed some italian sausage, ground turkey, yellow squash, zucchini, onions and some canned tomatoes.  I browned up the meat, drained it, and while it was draining I sautéed the veggies.  I mixed them all together – in a big bowl, then added the jar of tomatoes.  I did use lots of seasoning.

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Then I prepped the peppers.  I cut off the top and took out the seeds & ribs inside the peppers.  Then I boiled them for 3 minutes to get them a little softer and easier to eat.

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Took them out and let them cool, and put them in my baking dishes so I knew how many would fit.

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Then I filled and covered with foil and froze them.  They are going to be perfect on Wednesday after we spend the morning at the Arboretum playing outside!!IMG_7527I am not sharing a specific recipe, because honestly I would just wing it.  Plus not too many of you will be cooking for 4 adults and 10 kids anytime soon!!

GF Italian Cream Cake

So while we are not 100% gluten free in our home, we try to do it as much as we can.  Fir birthdays we try to find something wonderful but gluten free (GF) since Eli is GF all the time.  So for Anna’s birthday this month we decided to make an Italian Cream Cake with pecans.  But it needed to be GF for Eli, but super yummy for Robert & I since we were starting a WHOLE30 the next day.  We wanted our last dessert to be remorable.

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Well, it was!!

Here is the recipe altered (I based it on a recipe on All Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup GF 1:1 Bob’s Red Mill flour
  • 1 cup GF Pamela’s Baking Mix
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (175 degrees C). I cut parchment paper to fit the bottom on the pans – 3 x 9inch. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk; set aside.  Separate eggs into a bowl of yolks and a bowl of whites.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, shortening and white sugar, vanilla and yolks until light and fluffy. Sift flour mixture with baking powder, and mix with coconut.  Alternate by adding 1/2 the buttermilk mixture, then 1/2 the flour mixture to the creamed butter and eggs mixture.  Stir until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Mix in 2 T ice water to attain the desired consistency. Stir in chopped nuts and remaining flaked coconut. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.

Please let me know if you try it, we sure loved it and would not know it was GF based on the consistence and taste!  Happy Birthday to my sweet 10 year old!!

Hungry Boys

I suspect this may be a title I go back to over and over – since I have pre-teen boys –THREE of ‘EM- and they are only getting bigger and hungrier!!

So, after breakfast today I posted a plea on facebook :

Okay, mommas of teenage boys : two eggs, two pieces whole wheat toast & almond milk – not filling up my nearly-teen boys!! What is a cheap filling item I can add to breakfast? (Most morning we have a fruit smoothie instead if milk. ) Shower me with ideas please!!!

Now first, let me explain.  I do not mind making breakfast, I normally do every day.  We no longer get boxes of cereal (TOO expensive and they are hungry an hour later).  We have farm fresh eggs (get about 10 a day) at our disposal.  And we eat as a family after chores before school.  So, I do not mind the prep.  But how much food do these people require????  It is no fun when I feed them, and they are still begging for food!!

And, I do not want to be mixing up muffins, toasting granola, frying eggs and whipping up a smoothie each morning. 

So the answer is : let’s start using my freezer!! 

I had many suggestions :

Peanut butter

pancakes

oatmeal

steak

potatoes

more peanut butter, more oatmeal

add veggies to eggs

add eggs

granola

This all got me thinking about things I have done in the past.  I have made a gallon of yogurt.  That lasts about a week and a half.  I made and froze lots of muffins before friends came to stay and pulled different ones out each night.  I need to get ahead of my problem….

I saw a muffin recipe on pinterest that said you can freeze the batter.  Perfect!!  Then, I knew I need to whip up some granola to have on hand too.  And I think I need to start making either yogurt or Kefir every other week.  This is a great item to use to fill up those HUGE stomachs. 

So, Here is my plan and a few links to share with you:

Banana Crumb Muffins (I’m going to cook and freeze)

Potatoes O’Brien

Cinnamon Zucchini Freezer Muffins

Morning Ham and Cheese Muffins (make and freezer before cooking)

* Note with some of these recipes I will modify the sugar.  I do not use white sugar or brown – we use less every time, honey when we can or an organic unrefined sugar if we have to. 

After I get all these items mixed up, cooked up, or fixed and frozen, I feel like I will be able to throw a few more items on our breakfast table.  Or I will have more options for a mid-morning snack.

Some other suggestions from my Facebook Friends were oatmeal, peanut butter, potatoes, more eggs, steak (not going to happen here), and granola.


homemade granola

Coconut Cranberry Granola with cashews and pecans

So, my granola is cooling right now (nothing like motivation kicking in!), my 12 muffins are cooking, 24 more are freezing, and I am about to whip up those egg muffin things to bake and freeze.

Whew.  I think I will have a bit of help with breakfast for the next week or two….I hope!!

Meanwhile, if anyone knows where I can sign my boys up for sponsorship through the teen years – for feeding purposes only-  please tell me!!

Yummy Supper

The crock pot is my friend.  Even though I am home all day, I still struggle with dinner if I do not have a plan and rarely think about it in time to thaw and make something.  So when I can make dinner during breakfast prep, I love it!

 

pulled chicken pic

(via pinterest)

Yesterday, Cousin Camp day #1 – Sage and I made a BBQ pulled chicken.  I think this recipe is a keeper because you can tweak each part!  The BBQ part is totally homemade – and you could substitute pork or maybe even beef for the chicken.

We threw everything together in the crock pot during breakfast prep, and I think my chicken was mostly still frozen – I used 4 huge chicken breasts (from our broilers) and the sauce as it calls for it.

About 2pm – well past the suggested 4 hours, I put all the meat in my Bosch bread mixer (you could use a kitchen aid) – with the whipper attachment.  Then I let the Bosch shred all my meat, put it back in the crock pot, turned it off and let it set for about 2 hours.  Turned it back to low about 90 minutes before dinner and we were ready to go!!

I highly recommend, and we will be making it again!!