Cheesy Cauliflower

The Common Room Blog, Cauliflower and Cheese Had this cheesy goodness for lunch today instead of pasta.
Two heads cauliflower, cut up, tossed with grapeseed oil, sprinkled with thyme and smoked paprika, then put it in a 9X13 pan in the oven to roast at 350-400.

Meanwhile, grate about 3 cups of muenster cheese and a little bit of cheddar- because that is what I had. You could use the cheese you have on hand as well.

While grating cheese, melt an 8 ounce package of cream cheese in the microwave (or put it in a small pan in the oven).  Stir in about 1/2 to 2/3 a cup of whole milk, and a teaspoon of dry mustard, and 1/2 a teaspoon smoked salt.

Stir the grated cheese into the hot milk and cream cheese mixture and stir until all is well combined.  It does not need to be all melted.

I sliced up a little over a pound of polish sausage.  You can leave the meat out or use a different meat if desired.

Mix the cheese mixture and sausage into the pan with the roasted cauliflower

Put back in the oven on 350 for about half an hour longer- just until it’s all melted and getting golden here and there, and the cauliflower is what I would call al dente- you can put your fork into it easily, but it’s not so soft it’s trying to turn into mashed cauliflower. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Serve on heated plates or bowls if at all possible, because Cauliflower cools off quickly and it’s really not that tasty cold, in my opinion.

My son says it’s not tasty under any circumstances. He is not a cauliflower fan. But most people like this just fine- the cheese covers up the cauliflower taste.

Leftovers work just fine in packed lunches:

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An Invitation

2014-11-25 07.16.18 I have issued several verbal, um, invitations. But my ‘guests’ have declined to RSVP.

Yesterday, in fact, I unloaded the dishwasher and reloaded. It was only about 1/3 of the way full. I left it open because people were snacking and so forth, and I was still cooking. One of the Progeny brought in some dirty dishes and set them on the counter.

“The dishes in the dishwasher are dirty,” I said. She looked blankly at me.
“Because I unloaded it this morning and have been putting the dishes right into it. So dirty dishes can go in there.”

“Really?” she said vaguely. Then she put her dishes on the counter, shut the dishwasher and walked away.  There’s a reason for the absentmindedness, so I let it go.

Maybe next time I’ll print out something like this, laminate it, and put a magnet on the back and stick it to the dishwasher door:

put your own dirty dishes in the dishwasher

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Gingerbread Oatmeal Casserole

Oatmeal casserole with coconut creamOatmeal Casserole- Here’s another favorite oatmeal standby- I first discovered the basic recipe around 1990-ish in Help for Growing Families- I think that was the title.  Bill and Mary Pride edited and published it.  It was a newsletter full of helpful, practical advice and recipes from other larger than average families.

The original recipe used butter or margarine, and was sweetened with brown sugar, lots of brown sugar, and it tasted something like an oatmeal cookie with milk. We’ve tweaked it in various fashions, and this is one of our favorites:


——-Gingerbread Oatmeal Casserole

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup molasses
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, and ginger
6 cups oatmeal (not instant)

Combine above ingredients, mixing well. Pour into greased 13X9 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

12-15 servings

You can serve it plain, or in a bowl with cold milk. Some like it hot.
Some like it cold. Some like more molasses for a flavor that it is bold!

This recipe has endless variations. It’s incredibly adaptable.
Here are some of the variations we have used and enjoyed:
Use one can of frozen juice concentrate instead of molasses (we like apple juice)
Substitute 1 cup melted butter for the fat (any oil can be used here)
Use maple syrup instead of molasses You can use brown sugar for sweetener, up to 1 1/2 cups. This makes it taste like oatmeal cookies!
Vary the spices to suit your family’s preferences- you can add vanilla or orange extract. We like a version where the only spices we use are orange extract and cinnamon.
Sweeten with applesauce or mashed apricots.
Add dried fruit

Add a can of pumpkin, or use pumpkin instead of the eggs if somebody is allergic to eggs.

Use water or coconut milk if you don’t do dairy.  Other milk substitutes work as well.

gingerbread oatmeal casserole with coconut creamThis is one of the first breakfast meals my children learn to make, because it is so easy (and so forgiving!). It’s easy to mix it the night before and bake it in the morning. It is also popular with overnight guests, even guests who think they do not like oatmeal. In fact, I recently attended a woman’s retreat at an area camp where they all kept talking about the special oatmeal dish this place was famed for, and how they hoped that was what was served- and when it was I surprised to see it was just my old friend the oatmeal casserole!

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Vintage Thanksgiving Colouring Page, 1912

Thanksgiving mom bringing the turkey common roomFrom The Primary Plan Book, Volume 1
By Marian Minnie George, published in 1912

However, I changed the poem included, because I thought the original was a little bit of drivel:

sing a song of drear november

Thanksgiving mom bringing the turkey


Updated to add:

The verse I added is the first stanza from this hymn:

Come, Ye Thankful People,

Lyrics by Henry Alford, 1810-1871 

Come, ye thankful people, come
Raise the song of harvest-home:
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied:
Come to God’s own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest-home.

All the world is God’s own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear:
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take His harvest home,
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away;
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
Butthe fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord quickly come
To Thy final harvest-home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin;
There, forever purified,
In Thy presence to abide:
Come, with all Thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest-home!

You can hear it here:

A different approach here:

And here is an acapella presentation:

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Fall Colouring Page

vintage colouring page children pulling cart of fall harvest vegetables

From The Primary Plan Book, Volume 1
By Marian Minnie George

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Latino Voters Not Thrilled by Executive Order Amnesty

This makes sense:

Most Latino voters are unimpressed by Obama’s Executive order, and amnesty isn’t one of their priorities:

By a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent, Hispanic voters oppose allowing illegal immigrants to obtain federal benefits, including Obamacare benefits, “while they are going through the legalization process and before the 90% goal is reached.”

When asked to choose which of four issues — the economy, immigration reform, education, or health care — is most important to them, registered Hispanic voters said immigration reform was their lowest priority. Just 31 percent ranked the issue first or second, compared with 62 percent for the economy, 57 percent for health care, and 45 percent for education. Non-registered voters, on the other hand, ranked immigration reform as their highest priority.

If they’re voters, they came here legally (probably), did what was necessary to get citizenship, and so naturally, they aren’t as impressed by those who jumped to the front of the line through illegal means.

Obama’s not courting the votes of citizens. He’s courting the votes and favours of noncitizens.

Meanwhile, Obama is lying again.

President George H.W. Bush “expanded the family fairness program to cover more than 1.5 million unauthorized spouses and children. This represented about 40 percent of the undocumented population at the time.”

– White House press secretary Josh Earnest, news briefing, Nov. 19, 2014

“If you look, every president — Democrat and Republican — over decades has done the same thing. George H.W. Bush — about 40 percent of the undocumented persons, at the time, were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.”

– President Obama, interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Nov. 23, 2014

But it ain’t so.

It was closer to 6% of illegal aliens at the time and the WAPO gave him four Pinocchios for it- although they might downgrade that to three.  And, fwiw, I wasn’t in favor of that action, either.  A lot of people argued that it was not only kicking the can down the road, it was opening the door to more and bigger amnesty rulings later, and it wasn’t a meaningful long term solution.

Make the process much, much easier.  I really only care about keeping out terrorists, people with seriously contagious diseases (ebola), and people with significant criminal records.

Benefits are for legal residents- public schools, welfare, healthcare plans- these are for people who are here legally, period.   If people want to come here because it’s the land of opportunity that rewards hard work, then that’s fine.  But we shouldn’t be offering incentives to come here and not work at all.


And while we’re at it, reduce the regulatory burdens that prevent small scale entrepreneurs from entering the market. If I want to buy tamales from my next door neighbor I should be free to do that. If I want to pay a friend to butcher my animals on my land, that should be allowed. And if somebody else wants to buy some of that meat, that should be allowed. If a family wants a small flock of backyard hens, that should be allowed, even if they live in town.  It’s ridiculous that you can have dogs, unfenced cats, and parakeets but you cannot have five hens in an unseen shed in your own backyard.

 Also, SNL actually did a skit where they gave Obama a very mild and gentle ribbing over his executive order for amnesty.  And then the WaPo ‘fact checked’ the comedy skit.




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Advice to Teachers: Being Motherly

This just breaks my heart. It’s from 1907:

1907 Being Motherly

What hurts is that age- 6 years old. And today we’re shipping much younger children off to preschools and daycares and taking it for granted that by six, for goodness sake, they ought to be too independent to miss their mothers at school.

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Some free blacks did own slaves…

When discussing slavery with southern apologists, it generally will not be long before one of them tells you that free blacks owned slaves, too. It’s essentially another version of ‘they did it, too,’ which has nothing to do with whether or not race-based slavery in America was moral or not. In fact, I’ve even had a couple neo-Confederates tell me that the American institution of race-based slavery wasn’t race-based, since blacks could own slaves, too. But never mind the logical fallacies.

This article gives a deeply fascinating look into some missing context about just why at least some blacks owned slaves.

(I’m sure that there were some free blacks who owned slaves for less noble reasons, mainly because humans are humans)

You may also be interested in reading this collection of quotes on the evils of slavery (often by southern slave-owners themselves).

You might find this post on secession, slavery, and the Civil War interesting.



Related books: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass- his own story as told by himself. A classic.

Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup- another first person account written at the time

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself, by Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897)

More free slave narratives to download here.

Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress. The author is William Lee Miller. He researched the congressional records during the decades prior to 1861, reviewing the discussions, arguments, and fights on the issue of slavery. He shares them here, with plentiful commentary and background. His style is riveting, the story fascinating, and his personal conviction clearly evident.



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Buckwheat Sesame Bread

sesame buckwheat bread on chrysanthemum plate2014-11-23 19.41.50Buckwheat Sesame Molasses Bread

I have two versions to share- the original, yeastbread version, and if you scroll down, the sourdough version I made this week. This is a dense, hearty, dark, whole grain, crusty, peasant bread- which is just about all of the things I love in a bread. It has a strong flavor that can stand up to strong toppings, especially when you toast it- onions, garlic, cream cheese with chives, garlic, and pepper.
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It is also delicious dipped in a balsamic vinegar and oil herb dressing.

What that means is that if you prefer soft, tender breads and want bread as much like storebought as possible, you will not like this. I like those, too, but I really enjoy breads that have a taste and texture that feels like it comes right out of a Grimm’s fairy tale. You know how the youngest son in the fairy tales gets sent off to the forest to chop wood and all he has in his lunch is some bread and wine? I like to think it was this bread. Sustaining stuff, that’s what this is.

Buckwheat Molasses Sesame Bread

1/4 cup molasses (I prefer blackstrap)

1 cup warm water

2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 cups buckwheat flour

2 cups rye flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup oil

1 cup water


Mix 1/4 cup molasses and 1 cup lukewarm water.  Add yeast.

Let soak a few minutes.


Combine the flour, salt, and sesame seeds in a bowl.

Add 1/4 cup of oil and 1 cup water, blending well.

Add molasses-yeast mixture and work it into dough with hands.  It will be sticky.

Form dough into a ball, place in oiled bowl, then turn dough over, so top is coated with oil.  Cover bowl with damp cloth and let rise in warm place for 3 hours until double in bulk.


Knead dough and form into 2 round loaves on cookie sheets.  Let rise an additional 45-60 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F.


Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until done (it should be brown, and the bottom should sound hollow when you tap on it).


Makes two round loaves.  Scroll down further for another method of baking this bread.


Sourdough buckwheat molasses bread

Combine in a bowl:

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups each buckwheat, rye, and whole wheat flours

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups of sourdough starter

1/4 cup of oil (I used sesame oil this time, but I have used olive oil or melted butter in the past and both were tasty)

Stir well- if the dough is too dry, add plain yogurt or some buttermilk. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour.

Stir well, kneading if necessary, and when you have a smooth but lightly sticky batch of dough,  lightly rub some additional oil over the dough, cover well, and let this set….

How long?  How sour do you like your sourdough?   You should let it set at least 12 hours, or overnight.   I like mine very sour, and I like this bread with a strong flavour to be very strong indeed, so I ended up letting it set for 72 hours.  I checked on it every day, punching it down, kneading it a bit, and rubbing more oil on the top.  The bowl was sealed with its own lid to keep the dough from drying out- which it can easily do.

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At the end of 72 hours I punched it down again, kneaded it well, and then rolled it into two long loaves, slashing the loaves diagonally.  I put them on a greased baking sheet. I let them rise, covered, in a warm oven for about 90 minutes.  Then I baked them at 350 for 40 minutes, and left them in the oven while the oven cooled.

The crust is pleasantly crusty, and the bread is dense, hearty, and soft and chewy in the middle- not fluffy-soft, but chewy-soft.


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My husband loves them this way.  My son-in-law Shasta says they’d be good with cream cheese and chives.

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I think it’s okay this way, but I have a word I like to use for bread like this.

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I prefer to take the loaf and treat it like biscotti- I slice it thin, and then put the pieces in the oven until toasted, then I turn them over and toast them again.

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It’s a little less crunchy than melba toast or croutons in the middle.  The outside edge is just about like a crouton.  In other words, perfect.

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Cream cheese, green onion, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dash red pepper, cheddar cheese

Cream cheese, green onion, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dash red pepper, cheddar cheese


The first time I baked it this way, it was kind of an accident.  I just meant to warm some up, but I forgot about while taking care of other things.  I loved how it turned out.  Now, nobody else in my family is a fan. But we happened to have company over that night who saw my ‘mistake’ and begged to try it- they loved it.  They raved about it.  They said when they had lived in Europe, this was the kind of bread they found in neighborhood bakeries, and they missed it.

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I’ll have to share a picture of the toasted slices later.  I toasted four slices and brought them back to my room with me, along with my dinner.  I was going to eat my dinner and take pictures of those toasted slices of sesame buckwheat bread, but you already know what I did, don’t you?

They were so, so good.


It was good for breakfast, too.


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Printable Horse Template

horse and cowboy at the common room blogThe basic template comes from a vintage education magazine, printed sometime between 1915 and 1918. I cleaned it up a little and put it in gray so it would use a little less ink: printable jointed horse template from vintage pattern

You don’t, of course, need to cut out the four legs separately. You can cut out one front leg and one back leg and just fold your paper or cardstock in half to get a pair of each.

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You can print directly on cardstock with many printers- I am not sure how to do that with mine. I also used old manilla file folders for my cardstock- because I had some I wasn’t using any longer.

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For a cowboy, I used this one from Joel, only I cut the arms and legs separately so I could make them jointed.


Backdrop is from here.

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