Friday, September 30, 2011

{this moment} - Kitchen baby

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Thursday, September 29, 2011

(modified) Primal meal fit for kings!

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From my mise en place kitchen comes my newest favorite breakfast!  Onion jam and mushroom omelet with pico de gallo and fried polenta. 

I put a pat (about a Tbs) of butter into a hot pan, when the butter had melted and formed a pool I poured two scrambled eggs into the center.  As they started to cook I slowly pulled the cooked parts to the center until I had a good omelet.  Then I flipped the omelet so the hot side was up and placed 2 Tbs each seared mushrooms and caramelized onion jam into the center and folded it in half over the top of them.  While I was doing that I fried some left over polenta (which had formed solid little squares) in a little bit of butter until hot and crispy on the outside.  I topped the omelet with my garden pico de gallo and half of an avocado.  It was amazing!

Along with this fun success (it wasn’t even for dinner!) I have had two more flops this week.    I hate those.  It makes me feel as though I am wasting food…. even when it is eatable I feel as though somehow I wasted it.  One was a curry acorn squash soup.  I have a recipe that has 2/3 yellow split peas and 1/3 squash and it’s delicious!  I thought that I could substitute the peas for cauliflower and make it work.  Yeah, I was wrong.  Smile with tongue out  lol…  it was gross!  We threw the whole thing away and if you know how much organic cauliflower and squash cost that means it was REALLY bad! 

More recipes are coming along though.  I made a 10 minute chicken soup which was wonderful with this method.  As many flops as I have had, I still feel this is the way to go.

Over the next few days I will be setting up posts for recipes that I have been using on a regular basis.  I am hoping to devise a whole new menu plan that incorporates this method and will once again bring my whole kitchen to a level that anyone can just pick up and make what’s for dinner!

Autumn Décor Craft

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I have seen a lot of these felt flowers around and I wanted some for my own. So I set about making myself something with the idea and truly enjoyed putting this together. 

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All it took was a $4 twig wreath from Michael’s, a glue gun, and the felted flowers I made with this tutorial from Blue Cricket Designs.  It was very easy for the amount of awe factor and autumn cuteness!

Happy crafting!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mise En Place - Saturday is cook ahead day.

Slowly but surely I am getting the hang of making really incredible food on a mostly primal diet. It has taken some serious planning and prep, but this last few weeks I found a technique that makes it much easier!

I have 6 people to feed 3 times a day, with snacks in-between. Doing that while we are running from homeschool co-op classes, horseback riding lessons, youth group, and the various field trips we do has been a huge challenge.  I started making things ahead of time… not a lot of things… just sauces and cutting up veggies etc that would help me throw meals and packed lunches together in less time.  I didn’t really have a technique for it… I just made a few things here and there that cut the minutes.  (Logan’s yogurt is a good example.  And is also in the fridge right now. )

Last week I read an article in Whole Living that talked about prep for the weeks meals to make incredible, restaurant quality food in about 10 - 20 minutes.  That was exactly what I had been doing!  The article also had some incredible ideas for recipes…. all whole foods, mostly grain free.  Woot!  So this week I started using the technique that I have learned is called mise en place. It means ‘everything in it’s place’ in French and is specifically used in restaurant kitchens for this type of mix and match cooking. I added the recipes from the Whole Living article to my list and now I feel like I am well enough prepared that I can share my newest recipes with you.

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Let me tell you, it has brought the meals I have been able to pull together to a whole new level!  And it also shows my undying love for everything Mason Jar and Pyrex!  (Ignore the very off-plan Monster can in the background.  Pretend it doesn’t exist.  I do.  Smile with tongue out)

Here is a list of what I have currently prepped in my fridge (which is labeled with what it is and dates just to show how OCD I can be):

  • Caramelized Onion Jam (from article in Whole Living)
  • Beet Puree (for the cupcakes at the bottom of this post)
  • Seared Mushrooms with their juices (also from Whole Living)
  • Pico de gallo (this recipe with 1/2 a jalapeno added)
  • Salsa verde (this recipe with tomatillos from my garden!)
  • Roasted tomato sauce (my recipe from here)
  • Roasted tomato drippings
  • Wild rice made with chicken stock
  • Polenta (Whole Living recipe as well)
  • Baked white acorn squash (using same technique as here)
  • Chopped up green and purple kale (in the Pyrex with the daisy on it)
  • Minced garlic in olive oil
  • Sliced bell peppers (in a zip lock)
  • Chopped green leaf lettuce (under the bowl cover to keep crisp)

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This is our dinner from yesterday. 

I seared a bunch of the cut up kale and peppers in a little bit of olive oil and salt.  When they were starting to get nice and soft I added 3 Tbs of the Caramelized Onion Jam and two sliced zucchini.  Then I pan fried some shrimp with cayenne pepper and added a fresh made hollandaise made from eggs from my backyard chickens.  It was SO good I can not even tell you!  And it took about 20 minutes to make from start to finish.

(Since I have concentrated on cooking and the developing of recipes I decided that I wanted to be able to eat the food I cook and be able to give an accurate opinion…. so I decided that I am not going to concentrate on taking great pictures. At least, not at this time.)

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Tonight I pan fried some more kale (this time I added a bunch of purple too) and added sliced organic chicken sausage, 1/2 cup of seared mushrooms, and 3 Tbs of the Caramelized Onion Jam.  To get all the good stuff on the pan I added 2 Tbs of the Roasted Tomato Drippings.  We had all of this over warm polenta with baked acorn squash on the side, drizzled with maple syrup.  Again… a meal fit for a gourmet restaurant in under 20 minutes. 

Now, for some, this type of food would be a really hard sell to the children in the family.  It did take some getting used to for my kids, tell the truth.  But now that they are more used to it (I think the word “detox” fits here..  sugar and starch takes time to get out of your system and sometimes it actually requires withdrawal time.) and they really enjoyed both meals.  The shrimp being the favorite between the two (even though the squash had the maple syrup). 

The planning that has gone into these last few weeks have reminded me quite a bit of the Once a Month Cooking fad that went on for a while.  Did anyone else try to do that?  I loved some aspects of it, but hated that the foods usually had so much cheese and pasta.  With the method I am using now, I still get the fast cooking time while sparing our health and diet ideals.  It’s a win/win!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I love about you - Luke, 7 months old

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I love how you hug my face when you wanted me to pick you up… and I did.

I love how you crawl the fastest on one foot and one knee.

I love it every time you scrunch up your nose when you are excited and wave your arms like you are going to attack something with all your might, and then how gentle you usually are when you actually get it.

I LOVE your babble.  So far it is just a series of “brrrrrrrah - bah - bah - bah” but it is so adorable! 

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I find it really curious that you hate baths but you don’t mind sitting in the grass, even with bare legs!

I really love that you like to be outside with me and will sit in the garden and play with the chickens, or the grass, or some rocks, while I work.

Most of all, I just love you little buddy. I still watch you sleep in awe and amazement that you would be so precious, grow so fast, and learn so much in these last 7 months. You are such a blessing my sweet amazing boy!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

{this moment}

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A few little things….

This week has been a long one already.  I have been trying out recipes and I have some good ones to share, but I also have had quite a few flops.  But the biggest news is….

I have a baby with TWO NEW TEETH!  He got these teeth in two days last week and was in a ton of pain to the point where I bought him Tylenol (not normally kept for the youngest folk in the house) just so we both could sleep (like, at all).  Even this did not help for the two days they were coming in and I spent much of my night nursing just to sooth him enough so *I* could dose fitfully with him laying across my stomach which made me really only half human during the day (and him just a complete bear)!  Now though, he has two new pearly whites poking through and he is a much happier baby.  :)

It has taken a toll on the blog though.  And I am sorry to be absent.  A few pictures of recipes that I have made recently:

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Peppered chicken breast with sautéed summer veggies (mostly from my garden!  YUM!).  This recipe was super simple, totally grain free, and completely delicious!  One of those recipes I could eat every day.  :)

I have also been doing quite a bit more stuff for my kids so they enjoy this process more:

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Spaghetti squash spaghetti with ‘angry bird’ meatballs and my Roasted Tomato Sauce (first of the season out of the garden!).

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A cantaloupe and grape ‘butterfly’ for Logan’s snack while we learn about caterpillars and metamorphosis.

I have also taken my precious moments that I get every now and again to craft for the first time in a while.  In the moments I have taken, my 6 mo old learned to stand (yes people… he’s standing!)  So we will see how long the crafting lasts and I am holding on to every second of it!

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I promise to tell all, but for now, I have to get back to my baby and our company who is up from Southern CA for the week.  Hope you are all having a wonderful week!

Friday, September 16, 2011

{this moment} - Big me, Little me

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A few shots from last week

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I just love following the baby around with the camera.  :)

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He just so follow-worthy.

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On another note, he got his first tooth this week!  It was a hard couple of nights but during the day you would not have even known that he was getting teeth.  I’ll miss his toothless grin, but I am guessing that the one with teeth will be just as cute!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

5 ways to pamper your children- Part 5

This food transition has been a huge blessing to me… and it is benefiting my entire family’s health already (Alex’s skin has completely cleared of blemishes, which is saying something when you are a 15 yr old boy).  But the emotional connections to certain foods are strong.  Alex actually came home from his vacation in Florida and kept saying “where is all the food?”  Logan glanced longingly at the Great Harvest Bread Co the last time we went to the Trader Joes (that is next door) and said “Mama… can we please have bread?” complete with puppy dog eyes (I let them get the samples and he seemed thrilled with that).  They have had sad moments with he lack of crackers or bread and excited moments when they get to do things like eat two peaches all to themselves….  But the transition has been the hardest on Cyan.  She has a tender palette and is a starch lover like my husband.  And she has the most emotional connection to her food.  So a few moments this week were all about making sure that there were special things for Cyan.

Way #5: Follow up on a promise

It also worked that we started school this week and had our first playdates of the year. I wanted the connection she got from this pampering NOT to be about food.  I wanted it to be about love and feeling proud of herself. So when she asked me to do her hair and I thought why not take this opportunity to pamper her a little bit?  Afterall, she has asked me tons of times for cool hairdos but I haven’t ever done more than a few variations of Laura Ingalls braids and pig tails.

I found this site with wonderful hairdos for girls and decided to try one out for a tea party playdate we had that afternoon:

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She wore it so proudly! 

Then two days later, I tried another one for the Puyallup Fair parade:

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It was so wonderful to see her so proud as friends asked her about her hairdo.  Neither one was hard, I just hadn’t taken the time to follow up with some research on our hairdo conversation.  I am so glad I took that time.  I feel like I have a new skill too!  I have two new fancy hairdos under my belt that I can put together in about 15 minutes and I plan on learning more.

What type of pampering is going on at your house this week?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let’s start with dessert

Seriously, be honest.  What is the first thing you think of when you think of a ‘healthy/grain free/dairy free/soy free’ dessert? 

Yeah… “Yuck!”  Me too. 

But not this one.  It is AMAZING!  It is also SUPER simple. 

Dark chocolate and unsweetened coconut grilled bananas

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Just slice the banana down the side longwise and stuff with a few dark chocolate chips (*fair trade please!) and some shredded unsweetened coconut.

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Then wrap in foil and grill on high for about 30 minutes.  The inside of the banana should be super gooey, all the chocolate should be melted, and the outside of the peel should be black.  (You can do this in your oven at 450* too.)

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Carefully unpeel your banana and serve with a spoon. 

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A tip… the riper the banana the sweeter the taste, to a point.  If your banana is already looking crazy soft (like spotty enough for banana bread) then it will taste fermented when it is grilled.  So avoid the super ripe ones and pick one in the middle if you have a real sweet tooth.

Enjoy this low sugar treat for an amazing end to any meal!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lets talk about food (with injected pictures of really amazing meals)

Hey there.  It’s been a while since I have subjected any of you to my rambling deep thoughts… so I figure this post will be forgiven.  ;)

In the last year I have gone through a total food transformation.  One of those food transformations that can only be caused by the eating of foods making you or someone else in your family very sick.  I honestly have had a hard time believing in food sensitivities in some regards and then surprised beyond all reason that we are ALL not subjected to them in others.  On one hand, we all eat food. Some of us are more sensitive than others.  And I am always shocked at what people’s systems can handle without being amazingly sick in our western food diet!  The mutilation of the human diet is just mind baffling if you really study it at length. 

Strange fact about me, I can’t have cooked fruit, juice being the worst. So many of these things you see me making on here during this season of plenty I can’t and don’t eat later. The peaches and applesauce especially is just for my children or to be used in cooking. Occasionally I have something like a Jamba Juice or apple cider to test my juice resolve. I am always punished with severe intestinal cramping. So juice is out. Cooked juice is the worst (like apple juice from concentrate) unless I am using it in cooking where the concentrated juice sugar is mixed with tons of other things.

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Breakfast.

When I did the elimination diet for Luke’s vomiting issues back in April I had thoughts that I was crazy. That he just had reflux and would throw up no matter what I did. But now I see it is directly linked to dairy and soy. So I took those out as well as the cooked juice and the normal breastfeeding no-no’s that would cause gas.

Then Don decided to go on the Paleo/Primal diet 6 weeks ago. This is a HUGE change for my pasta-lovin’ man and I decided to take that challenge as well. I was THRILLED with this veggie heavy diet and excited that he was willing to take the plunge for something so completely different than his taste. The journey has already been rewarding. Although the price to feed our large growing brood nothing but produce and good cuts of meat is amazing! (I am figuring that out too, slowly but surely. More on that to come in another post.)

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Turkey stuffed peppers with a salad from our garden (and bought avocado).

As I discovered the joys of cooking without grains and legumes (and some intense frustrations, I’ll be honest!) we became more and more happy with our diet but we were surprised when we had two completely different body reactions.  Where Don’s intestines started to clear out, mine backed up completely.  Both of us had to adjust what we were doing for our specific body needs.  Me, never being much of a carb addict, added my homemade three grain granola and wild rice back into my diet.  I figured that because my body was so limited (already I was “no cabbage family, no cucumber family, no juice, no soy, no dairy”) that I just wasn’t able to get enough fiber with the limitations I was dealing with when I added in paleo (ie: “no grains, no starchy tubers, and no legumes”…  so basically, I was eating meat and carrots).  I was back on track in a matter of days.  Don’s eventually leveled out and and my adjustments made it easy for me to follow suit.  I now had the new parameters for our ‘daily bread’ (which was now nothing but a figure of speech as we are no longer eating bread.  lol!) and set off to make the best menu I could. 

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At this time Luke started being really interested in food.  I was looking at books like Organically Raised by Anni Daulter and Babylove by Norah O’Donnell for his first recipes and I realized that the requirements that were used to feed the youngest of our population were somehow forgotten once our bodies got to the ‘Age of the Happy Meal’

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My first really GOOD grain-free dinner pancake with blackberry honey syrup.

This really got me thinking.  What happened to the way we fed ourselves as a society?  What happened to the simple foods that are for babies?  Why is it we have to add in so much stuff in our food?  Is it for taste?  Because I have found that very often the most simple fare is by far and away the best tasting.  A little olive oil and perhaps some salt on a whole huge pan of root veggies baked to fork tender, a teaspoon of honey on a bowl of fresh sliced strawberries…  what else is needed?  I have seen SO many restaurants that serve the seemingly ‘gourmet’ foods and really all they are doing is making super simple FRESH food.  What a strange conundrum that a box of mac & cheese (“with new fun shaped pasta!!”) reads like a science dictionary and something so simple as a half a pear with blue cheese and some reduced apple cider dressing would be a $12 first plate in a gourmet restaurant.  What a backwards world! 

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Packing Don’s lunch of fajita salad with spring greens. 

I have watched the diet dictocrats go back and forth for a long time and this is the first time that they fall directly in line with some of my personal beliefs about food.  It has made me laugh aloud more than once to read the pure common sense that is coming out of some of the Paleo and Primal food writers.  Get outside every day.  Eat fruits and vegetables all the time.  Eat meat that hasn’t been raised standing in it’s own excrement.  That will make you healthier and feel better.  You don’t say?

I am excited to share some of my food findings and new recipes with you. And I am even more excited to see how easy this can be and share THAT with you.  I was really worried this would be tough as nails to try to get 6 people enjoying super simple, fresh food every day, but I am finding that once the crap was gone (and crap is such a limited term in my household already) this has been one of the most rewarding food journeys our family as taken.

Blessings to you and yours for this new and beautiful week!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Corn for Fun

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Just like the onions that I planted, I have never had success with growing corn.  I got this set of corn plants the same day I got my onion starts.  They were wilty and sad looking and obviously root bound.  I spent $.99 on two packets of them.  I called my tiny patch “corn for fun” because obviously, I wasn’t going to get a ton from 8 plants that were on super sale due to neglect.  But I put them in the ground with some good intentions and lots of water and hoped they would grow…. and they did!

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This last week in home-school Logan and I read the book Harvest by Kris Waldherr and went out to harvest our own little patch of garden.  We picked lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflowers, and we checked on the corn for fun.  It was ready!  Logan LOVED bringing in this super yummy treat and he helped me cook it for lunch.  (The way I cook corn is bring the water to a boil and put the corn in for 2-3 minutes.  Just long enough for it to get good and hot… and no more.) 

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It was the tastiest treat we had yet this season out of the garden!  Everyone raved about how fantastic it was and the whole plate was gone super quick!

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I even cut the kernels and gave the baby a little ear of the yummy treat.  We had a very happy crew and I will definitely be planting corn (and onions) again next year! 

This has been a good garden year after all… Right now I am turning over the corn patch for some winter greens and beets and my tomatoes are starting to come on in force.  With these two yummy successes under our belts we have a better idea of the rotation that we want for next year and the amendments that are needed to get the rest of what we want out of our 1/4 acre of heaven.  I am thankful every day for this blissful little piece of land that is ours.

Friday, September 09, 2011

{this moment}

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}