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Category — Kitchen Life

Here’s What’s Been Cooking. . .

. . .(or freezing, in one case) in my kitchen this week: sprouted lentils, pecan butter, strawberry ice cream with strawberry sauce, and a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free version of soaked muffins.

Tacofilling

I got the idea from my friend Wardeh Harmon at www.gnowfglins.com to sprout some lentils and add them to grass-fed ground beef as a way to make the meat stretch and add some extra nutrition to our usual taco filling. I wasn’t sure whether it would alter the taste too much—or what my family would think of the idea. But the lentils blended right into the meat and spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper) without any noticeable taste or texture differences. And after questioning the appearance of the filling initially, my family had no problem heaping it onto their plates. What I loved best of all was that sprouting 1 1/2 cups of lentils and adding it to 1 pound of ground beef made enough filling to feed our family of six for two whole dinners! 🙂

Pecanbutter

After trying my hand at almond butter a couple of weeks ago, I decided I might want to try the same process with some of the pecans that have been stored in my freezer for awhile. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never seen pecans made into a butter. What I got (after following the soaking and dehydrating process outlined in Nourishing Traditions) was a rich, dark spread—more earthy than the sweeter-tasting almond butter, but really good. I’ve tried it on pancakes and, as pictured here, packed into a halved and cored apple.

Strawberryicecream

Inspired by Wardeh’s recent posts featuring Best Chocolate Ice Cream and Basic Chocolate Syrup—and by a desire to use the frozen organic strawberries I recently got from Azure Standard—I made dairy-free strawberry ice cream and topped it with strawberry sauce. I used coconut milk as the base for the ice cream, plus about two cups of strawberries and a 1/2-cup mixture of Rapadura and organic sugar (powdered in the Vita-Mix). The sauce was simply more strawberries pureed with a little sugar in the Vita-Mix and drizzled over the top. The ice cream froze to a firmer consistency than my past attempts, thanks to Wardeh’s tip not to overfill the freezing canister. It could have used a bit more sweetening, and my husband felt like the coconut flavor overpowered the strawberry flavor, but as it disappeared pretty quickly, I’d say nobody really minded. 🙂

Soakedmuffins

I’d been wanting to try Wardeh’s Basic Soaked Muffins for awhile, and I finally got around to making her version (using soft white wheat) as well as a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free version (using an all-purpose blend of gluten-free flours—buckwheat, millet, sorghum and sweet rice) that Kellen could eat (pictured here). I added raisins to both batches, and was really pleased with the results. We had them for breakfast for several days before they, too, were all gone.

It’s probably pretty evident from this post—as well as many others I’ve written—that Wardeh Harmon is a real inspiration in my real-food endeavors. And she can be for yours, too. If you need basic recipes and techniques—as well as encouragement and ideas—for converting your kitchen to traditional food-preparation methods, I hope you’ll consider enrolling in her GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. (I wrote about it in this post.) You can also click on the “Simple Plan, Healthy Food” image below to read more about what the course will include. Enrollment begins Friday, Feb. 5!

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

February 2, 2010   5 Comments

When Life Gives You Lemons (and Oranges)…

LemonsOrange

. . .what do you make? Our answer: As much as we can! When Shawn and I first moved into our little house in 1997, we were fortunate to find our lot already graced with established and producing trees: one orange, one lemon and one pecan. We didn’t know a lot about how to care for them and ensure that they would continue to thrive, but we’ve made some mistakes and learned a lot during the past 13 years—and while we apparently still have a lot to learn (such as how to keep the heavily laden branches of our lemon tree from breaking under the weight of all the fruit, and why some of our oranges aren’t as juicy as others), we somehow manage to have a pretty decent harvest each year. Right now, the citrus is in its prime and ready to be picked. Though our trees are about the same size (and presumable the same age), the orange tree yields probably about 100 to 150 pieces of fruit each season, while its proliferous neighbor gives us about two or three times as many lemons.

So what do we do with it all? Well, we give some of it away and trade more of it with neighbors and friends who grow other fruit (grapefruits, tangerines). But most of it we keep! For the next few weeks, we’ll be picking, zesting, juicing and freezing what we can to use throughout the year. Sure, we drink some of the orange juice and make plenty of lemonade. But we try to keep plenty on hand for use in a few of our favorite recipes, too—including a batch or two of bite-size lemon tarts (from a recipe in The Lemon Lovers Cookbook, by Peg Bailey) to citrus-roasted chicken, flavored by stuffing halved lemons and oranges into the cavity before cooking (a method recently shared by a friend).

Right now, lemons, oranges and pecans are the only foods we grow—although we hope to expand on that in the coming years. I’d love to know what you grow—and how you handle all that you harvest!

And speaking of growing, I’m also hoping to expand on my knowledge of traditional food-preparation methods by enrolling in the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse offered by my friend Wardeh Harmon, who has planned a 15-week online class to teach simple methods for making healthy foods. I hope you’ll read what I wrote about the eCourse by clicking here, and consider joining us! And you have until next Wednesday (Feb. 3) to enter a giveaway for free enrollment. Click here for details!

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on the book cover above, you will link to Amazon.com, where you will have an opportunity to purchase it—and if you do buy it after clicking through from my site, I will receive a small commission to support my work here, as well as my own book-buying habit. :-) Seriously, though, I’d be just as happy if my recommendations inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend. And the banner for the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse is also an affiliate link to much more information about the eCourse and its offerings, as well as an opportunity to sign up when enrollment begins.

January 26, 2010   7 Comments

A Half Dozen. . .

. . .reasons why you’ll want to enroll in the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse scheduled to begin next month and developed by my friend Wardeh Harmon at www.gnowfglins.com:

1. Health. Whether you’ve recently become interested in the real-food movement or you’ve been committed for awhile now to preparing real, whole foods for your family, you’re no doubt aware of the health benefits that go along with eliminating processed, industrial foods from your diet and replacing them with what Wardeh calls GNOWFGLINS—God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season. In each of the 15 lessons included in the eCourse, Wardeh will answer three basic questions about the nourishing, traditional foods she explores:
• What is this food and/or technique? What ingredients do I need?
• Why should we eat a certain food or prepare it a certain way?
• How is the technique carried out or how is this food prepared?

2. Time. Maybe you’ve watched the documentary Food, Inc. and read all of the real-food best-sellers (Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma; Nina Planck’s Real Food) but you have no idea where to start when it comes to implementing the ideas they present in a practical way that fits your busy schedule. Or, perhaps the mere thought of having to wade through every sidebar and recipe on the 675 pages of the weightiest real-food tome of all—Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions—is enough to give you a migraine. Why not learn the basics—in a simple, methodical way—from someone who’s done the research and has a wealth of practical experience to share? Wardeh promises you won’t be overwhelmed by her simple plan that will take you through one step at a time.

3. Quality. I’ve had a chance to preview some of the things in store for those who enroll in this eCourse, and the attention to detail and multimedia presentation setup is incredible. Each lesson will be available 24/7 on a private Web site in print, audio and video formats to accommodate the learning style that works best for you—and so that you won’t miss a thing, whether you choose to read, listen, watch or do all three! I have followed Wardeh’s blog for about three years now, and I can vouch for her ability to present information in a thorough, down-to-earth way.

4. Quantity. You’re going to get an amazing amount of advice, ideas, recipes and techniques here—including printable guides you’ll refer to time and again, as well as access to freebies and resources that won’t be available on Wardeh’s blog. Among other things, she’ll teach you how to sprout beans and grains, cook pastured chickens and make stock, bake sourdough bread and brew water kefir (a probiotic beverage that can help you kick a soda habit).

5. Money. The eCourse costs $27 per month for five months (a total of $135)—a bargain considering the wealth of information you’ll obtain toward converting your kitchen into a real-food haven. And Wardeh offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can’t go wrong by trying it for a month to see whether it’s something that will work for you.

6. Mentorship. Whether you’ve read my blog since The Beginning (my first post) or this is the first post you’ve perused, you’ve probably gathered that Wardeh Harmon—though she doesn’t know it—has been my unofficial mentor as I’ve explored and experimented with real food. (Actually, she’s probably guessed that that’s the case, as I’ve asked her at least 1,095 questions—that’s one a day for the past three years—all of which she has graciously, patiently and satisfactorily answered!) 🙂 And, as someone who’s got the heart of a teacher, she’ll do the same for you. Seriously, IMHO, you won’t get better guidance from anyone else for making these changes in the way you cook and eat. And if you sign up for the eCourse, Wardeh won’t be your only mentor: Everyone who’s enrolled can exchange ideas and share recipe results in a special forum. I’m planning to be there! How about you?

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on the banner above, you’ll link to a site where you can learn much more about the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. And if you decide to enroll after clicking through from my site, I’ll receive a commission—for which I thank you. But even if I didn’t stand to benefit in any way from sharing what I’ve written here, I honestly wouldn’t change a word. 🙂

January 20, 2010   2 Comments

Kitchen Cleanup

This week, my Kitchen Life revolved more around what I did to my kitchen than what I did in it. Which got me thinking that maybe I should share a photo of the room where I spend a lot of my time. But before I do, I must explain that much of our home—including this all-important room—has been in remodeling mode for more than a year. And believe me, that has made it incredibly challenging to undergo a conversion to real-food preparation methods all at the same time! As you will see from the photo, we aren’t finished yet. (Note the pieced-together old pink Formica and plywood countertops, which will be in place until we can someday afford to replace them with granite. And you’ve gotta love the rustic look of the walls that remain untextured, unpainted and—if this is a word—unbacksplashed.)

Kitchen

No, I am under no illusion that my kitchen looks great. But it’s getting there. Really. You should have seen it before. (I don’t have a photo handy of what it used to look like, and if I did, I’m not sure I’d share it.) 🙂

I think the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we (well, Shawn, really) did much of the work. The tile floor (which replaced a very outdated cream-colored tile with burgundy grout that Shawn laboriously broke up and removed) and the recessed lighting (which replaced two hideous fluorescent-tube fixtures) were installed by outside subcontractors. And when we discovered that our old cabinets were solid oak buried under layers of paint and dark stain, Shawn asked a friend with a finishing business to strip and refinish them. But Shawn built the island unit to match the existing cabinets, replaced all the hinges and added knobs and pulls. He also removed an ugly soffit that once filled the prime decorating space between the cabinets and the ceiling, and tore out the existing unnattractive backsplash. He rewired a dead phone line and reconfigured the exhaust/venting system on the new microwave before installing it. (I’m not a big fan of the microwave oven, which removes most—if not all—of the nutrients from the food it cooks. I use it mostly to heat water and to time what I’m cooking on the stovetop. 🙂 But it turned out to be a better option than an oven hood to provide an exhaust outlet. Plus, it saves counter space and adds resale value—though I have to say, after all this work, I don’t plan on moving. Ever!)

In addition to all of the construction work going on, my kitchen had been cluttered up for quite a few months with unpacked boxes filled with everything from cookbooks to linens and utensils, as well as large bags of bulk grains and beans that I couldn’t cram into my pantry. This past week, I finally tackled it all. I unpacked, organized, discarded and donated until everything found a place where it belonged. I scrubbed the entire floor by hand and then sealed the tile grout. It was exhausting and invigorating at the same time! It helped me to catch a fresh vision of what my kitchen might someday look like (when we eventually have the new countertops and backsplash, a new sink, barstools, curtains, a few shelves, and whatever else we add to the list). And perhaps more importantly, it has helped me enjoy actually being in the room that requires so much of my time. My kitchen might never grace the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, but to me, it’s looking pretty good!

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

January 20, 2010   9 Comments

Buttered Up, Blended Together and Bowled Over

That headline describes much of my Kitchen Life this past week. Despite battling a cold and working to pack up and put away the holiday decor (let’s just say I was “functional,” but with most of the “fun” taken out), I decided to experiment with a couple of things I’d been wanting to try.

Almond butter before. . .

Almond butter before. . .

. . .and after.

. . .and after.

First was homemade almond butter. Because two of my children experience allergy symptoms from eating peanut butter, we have long substituted almond butter for it in everything from sandwiches to cookies. And ever since I learned about the benefits of soaking and dehydrating nuts to make them easier to digest, I’ve wanted to make my own version. Following the soaking/dehydrating directions and an actual recipe (including honey, coconut oil and salt) for almond butter in Nourishing Traditions, I ended up with a result that tasted fantastic but had some surprising characteristics. For starters, I wouldn’t really say it was spreadable—more like a somewhat crumbly topping—especially straight out of the fridge, where the recipe recommended storing it—that you could pile up on a piece of toast and pat into place. Of course, once the warmth of the toast kind of melted it a bit, it was easier to smooth out. And it had a soft and creamy—not gritty or dry—mouth feel, as well. I think the coconut oil contributed to both the crumbly texture and the incredible taste. I’ll definitely be making it again—especially because now that I’ve sampled it with everything from pancakes to oatmeal, I don’t have enough left over to use in a single batch of cookies!

Garbanzo beans, from sprouts. . .

Garbanzo beans, from sprouts. . .

. . .to spread.

. . .to spread.

The next thing on my list was making hummus from sprouted garbanzo beans. I had two different kinds of garbanzos in my pantry—the traditional golden-colored ones and their smaller, darker chana dal cousins. I started sprouting a jar of each variety and was surprised to see that the chana dal beans sprouted sooner than the traditional kind. Once the beans in both jars showed sprouts (after two days), I combined them and cooked them until they were tender—they simmered on the stovetop for about two or three hours. Then I blended them with the usual hummus ingredients (garlic, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, salt) in my Vita-Mix. The result was a tasty dip and spread that we enjoyed all week—especially wrapped up in whole wheat tortillas made from a soaked-flour recipe I borrowed from Wardeh Harmon’s site, www.gnowflins.com. (Click here for the tortilla recipe. I had so much more success with this recipe than with an almost identical one using sprouted flour, that I’ve called into question my grain sprouting/dehydrating method. I’ve decided that dehydrating my sprouted grain in the oven is too hot a process—most likely eliminating the beneficial enzymes I’m after by sprouting in the first place, and ultimately drying the grain out so much that the resulting flour is parched and requires a lot more moisture to work with. I’m holding out for an actual dehydrator, which will allow better temperature control and energy efficiency.)

New fam favorite: Sloppy Joes in a Bowl.

New fam favorite: Sloppy Joes in a Bowl.

Finally, our family enjoyed another of Wardeh Harmon’s recipes two times in the past week and a half: slightly different incarnations of her Sloppy Joes in a Bowl (click here for a link to another site where she shares the recipe). Both times, I soaked brown rice overnight in water with a little apple cider vinegar (to break down the phytic acid that makes all grains difficult to digest). The first time, I opted not to rinse the rice after soaking, but simply added chicken stock and cooked it. It came out a little vinegar-y, which I didn’t mind but the kids definitely noticed. The second time, I did rinse the rice before cooking it in fresh water and chicken stock, and the kids were much happier with the outcome. My son Kerrick helped to make the meal and even photographed it for me, declaring that he could eat it for dinner every night. Now that’s what I call a rave review!

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

January 12, 2010   2 Comments

A Half Dozen. . .

. . .things that changed my life in 2009:


1. Preparing and eating real food. Although my interest in the real-food movement actually began in 2008—when I first encountered such books as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma—my personal journey began in earnest this year. I read more books, including Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and Nina Planck’s Real Food. I looked for and found local sources for grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured chickens and eggs, raw dairy, and in-season fruits and vegetables. I learned how to sprout grains and beans, as well as soak and dehydrate nuts and seeds; I tried my hand at making butter and cheese; and I converted the recipes for many of my family’s favorite dishes to meet real-food ideals. My husband and children went along—warily but willingly—on the journey with me, as we cut back on the refined flour and sugar in our diet and incorporated such new and strange (at first) staples as fermented cod liver oil and kombucha tea.


2. Reading some great books. Clearly, I’m a believer in the statement “You are what you eat.” And by now, you’re probably getting the idea that “You are what you read” would be another suitable credo for me. Simply put, books are—and always have been—a big deal in my life. I can recall at least one engaging novel I read in 2009—The Girls, by Lori Lansens (a diary-style portrayal of the life of conjoined twins)—but for the most part it was a nonfiction year for me. Aside from the above-mentioned food titles, the rest of what I read mostly revolved around marriage and parenting. Favorites here include The Mission of Motherhood and The Ministry of Motherhood, both written by homeschooling mom of four Sally Clarkson. I can so relate to the personal challenges she recounts—from the physical and emotional strength required to be a 24/7 caregiver, nurturer and teacher, to the doubts and feelings of inadequacy that often creep in from a culture that places almost no value on those roles. What I so appreciate about Clarkson’s writing is her ability to transcend all of that—and to help me do it, too!—by putting those roles into an eternal perspective. Her books gave me a renewed sense of purpose that I continue to cling to on those difficult days when I desperately need a good answer to the question, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Another author who struck a similar chord with me this year is Gary Thomas, whose book Sacred Marriage has garnered him speaking engagements at churches worldwide. Shawn and I were able to attend one here in Arizona in September, and since then I’ve added a few of his books (including Sacred Influence and Sacred Parenting) to my list. Sacred Marriage (subtitled What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?) intelligently and thoughtfully exposes the ruse of romantic love as a means to (elusive) fulfillment and instead challenges those of us who choose marriage to see the difficulties it inevitably brings as a way for God to shape our character and for us to demonstrate our commitment to Him. I haven’t delved into Sacred Parenting yet, but from all indications, the theme continues on its pages. In a particularly powerful essay Thomas uses to open a book of devotions based on Sacred Parenting, he writes: “I’d like to suggest a motto for Christian family life: ‘God is in the room.’ While God is always there, so often we act and think and behave and speak as if he were not. . . .Think of how differently we might treat our children in those frustrating moments if we responded to them with the knowledge that God is in the room. If we truly believed that the God who designed them and who is passionate about their welfare was literally looking over our shoulders, might we be a little more patient, a little more understanding?. . .Tell it to yourself, every morning, every noontime, every evening: God is in the room. Tell it to each other, every time you’re tempted to yell, or to criticize, or ridicule, or even ignore each other: God is in the room. Tell it to your children, throughout the day: God is in the room. Let’s keep telling it to ourselves and to each other until we practice it and live it, until we live and breathe with the blessed remembrance: God is in the room.”

SchoolroomSchoolroomcloset2

3. Having a homeschool room (where I especially need to practice the above-mentioned motto!). When we added two bedrooms and a bathroom onto our small home last year, we decided to convert one of the existing bedrooms into a homeschool room. It meant that our four children would have to double up and share the remaining bedrooms, but we were all OK with that. Shawn outfitted the room’s closet with plenty of shelves to store books and supplies, and he built new cases to replace the broken ones on three cast-off desks from the charter school where one of my sisters works. A bulletin board, dry-erase board and world map later, we were in business! And we haven’t looked back to the days when books, papers and manipulatives almost always covered the living-room floor and the dining-room table. Sure, we sometimes still “do school” in those other rooms, but having a place to put everything away when we’re finished—and a door to close when we haven’t had time to tidy up the mess—has gone a long way toward keeping me sane (see No. 2) and all of us organized and on track.

4. Finding financial peace. No, we didn’t win the lottery, receive an unexpected inheritance or invent the Next Big Thing and suddenly become fabulously wealthy. (I’m sure I would have remembered if any of those things had occurred this year!) 🙂 What we did do was solidify our financial philosophy as a single-income family with a tight budget and a desire to live relatively simply and to be completely debt-free. Toward both of those ends, we’ve begun a serious campaign to get rid of things that we don’t really need or especially love, and to pay off everything we owe (which is really just the mortgage, a car loan and a credit-card balance). Our champion of sorts in the process has been Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, host of radio broadcast The Dave Ramsey Show, and creator of such catchphrases as “Sell so much stuff the kids think they’re next,” and “Live like no one else, so that later, you can live (and give) like no one else.” Shawn and I completed his 13-week Financial Peace University course at our church this fall and discovered that we were actually in decent shape with regard to some areas of our money, but that we needed to make a few changes and do a better job in other areas. Above all, the class helped us talk things through and agree on some goals to keep us focused. We’ve even gotten the kids on board, switching their “allowance” (which implies entitlement to free money) to “commission” (which solidifies the concept that money is earned).

iPod

5. Receiving an iPod Touch. As a lover of all things Apple, I’d had my eye on an iPhone for awhile, but because the only cell-phone carrier to offer it doesn’t provide good coverage in the areas I travel most frequently, I’d pretty much ruled it out. As a second choice, I liked the iPod Touch, but without the phone functionality I couldn’t really justify buying one. “Sure, it’s cool, but would I really use it?” I wondered. Shawn surprised me with one on Mother’s Day, and that question was quickly answered in the affirmative. The marketing lingo “There’s an app for that” became a reality for me as I started to use the iPod Touch for all things usual (checking e-mail and Facebook, surfing the Web, and keeping the kids entertained with movies, music and games) and unusual (recording Kellen’s first piano recital and watching TV—mostly late-night online streaming of current episodes of The Office and Parks and Recreation). And sometimes it’s an absolute sanity saver: It makes multitasking a cinch, as I can use it while I’m cooking (see No. 1) or folding laundry. And at the risk of sounding like a really bad homeschooling mom, I occasionally use it to tune out the constant din created when 2 Bigs + 4 Littles almost always occupy the house under 1 Midsize Roof (see No. 2). Whenever I need a little break, I simply pop in the ear buds and download a podcast of The Dave Ramsey Show (see No. 4) or listen to my current playlist faves (the cast recording from the Broadway musical Wicked, or the new Sidewalk Prophets album, These Simple Truths. To hear the Sidewalk Prophets song Just Might Change Your Life—which is, after all, the theme of this post, click the play button of the audio player below.)

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6. Starting this blog. I’ve only been a blogger for half of the year, but the impact of finally finding my voice—I’ve never been much of a first-person writer—as well as the guts to share it here—I worried whether I had anything relevant to say—has been huge. I’ve “met” so many other bloggers who are living inspired—and inspiring!—lives, and I’m writing more frequently than I have in a long time. And I can’t leave out the incredible learning curve I had to conquer just to set up the blog and publish a post! When I first started, I didn’t know a tag from a category or a plugin from a pingback—and HTML code? Forget about it! (Click here to find out about the Beginner to Blogger course that helped me get up and running.) Not that I’m all super tech-savvy now. I have much more to learn, for sure, but I’ve come a long way since I began, well, at The Beginning (my first post).

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on any of the book or CD covers above, you will link to Amazon.com, where you will have an opportunity to purchase the items—and if you do buy them after clicking through from my site, I will receive a small commission to support my work here, as well as my own book-buying habit. :-) Seriously, though, I’d be just as happy if my recommendations inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

December 31, 2009   5 Comments

Christmas Dinner—and Dessert

When Shawn and I got married in 1995, my sweet friend Mary Velgos gave me a recipe titled Simon and Garfunkel Chicken—a name inspired by the singing duo’s 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. (Even if you’ve never heard the lyrics to the song Scarborough Fair, I’ll bet you can guess at least four of the ingredients in this recipe!) At the time, we had no idea that it would become the go-to special-occasion dish for our family. But that’s exactly what it is. So it wasn’t a surprise when I asked Shawn what we should have for Christmas dinner and he requested Simon and Garfunkel Chicken.

While I have been able to alter the recipe to make it gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free for Kellen, I haven’t yet made it using pastured chicken. That’s because I’d have to separate and debone the breasts from whole chickens myself, and I haven’t yet tackled that task—although I hope to someday. The other main ingredients—homemade mozzarella cheese, pastured eggs, bread crumbs from a sprouted-grain loaf or batch of tortillas—have been easy to fit within real-food parameters. I typically serve Simon and Garfunkel Chicken alongside corn (organic frozen kernels, in this case) and garlic mashed potatoes.

ChristmasdinnerChristmascookies

Our Christmas dessert was a real treat (though decidedly not a real-food one!) that the kids and I put together on Christmas Eve. Using a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free recipe for sugar cookies and a set of star-shaped cookie cutters in five sizes, we baked about 50 stars and then stacked them into five Christmas-tree towers using green-tinted royal icing as our “glue” and multicolored sprinkles as “lights.” To make each tree, we used two stars in each of the five sizes. We iced each cookie individually and added it to the stack, varying the position of the points and sprinkling the edges with every layer. They were fun to make—and even more fun to eat! 🙂

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

December 29, 2009   4 Comments

Cinnamoned Cashews

I’ve been experimenting with soaking and dehydrating nuts lately and enjoying the results in desserts—such as pecan pie at Thanksgiving—and as a snacks—such as the cashews with a hint of cinnamon I’m featuring here. You might be wondering why I would soak the nuts and dehydrate them, so I thought I’d share my inspiration, which comes from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon:

“… nuts are best soaked or partially sprouted before eaten. This is because nuts contain numerous enzyme inhibitors that can put a real strain on the digestive mechanism if consumed in excess. Nuts are easier to digest, and their nutrients more readily available, if they are first soaked in salt water overnight, then dried in a warm oven … [or] a dehydrator. This method imitates the Aztec practice of soaking pumpkin or squash seeds in brine and then letting them dry in the sun before eating them whole or grinding them into meal. Salt in soaking water activates enzymes that neutralize enzyme inhibitors.”

Nourishing Traditions and other real-food cookbooks recommend soaking most nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans and walnuts) overnight or for 7 hours in salted water before drying them. But cashews are a little different. Because they “become slimy and develop a disagreeable taste” if they soak for too long, cashews can be soaked for as little as three hours—and no more than six hours—before dehydrating.

Cashews

I found myself with about 2 cups of leftover cashews (I had used them as a base to make a dairy-free, gluten-free gravy at Thanksgiving), which I soaked for a few hours (in enough water to cover them, plus 1 tablespoon sea salt) and then tossed with about a tablespoon each of Rapadura and cinnamon before spreading them on a cookie sheet and drying in the oven for several hours. They make a great snack as is, but next time I want to try grinding them (along with coconut oil, honey and sea salt) into cashew butter. I’d try it with this batch, but they’re almost all gone!

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

December 15, 2009   8 Comments

Where Are all the Leftovers?

I know it’s kind of the thing to do to joke about having a lot of leftovers after Thanksgiving, and to be creative about how many ways you can incorporate those items—especially turkey—into everyday meals until they’re finally all gone. But around our house, we really could have used some more. Seriously, I think I only had one turkey sandwich after the Big Meal. And after I made turkey stock and turkey noodle soup last week and turkey enchiladas this week, I find myself wishing I could have stretched our big pasture-raised bird (14-plus pounds) even further. But what we did have was great, and I’m grateful for it.

Turkeyenchiladas

As I mentioned, I used the last of the turkey in enchiladas this week, and they were amazing. I used the recipe for Red Enchilada Sauce in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, and it was incredibly easy to make and really delicious. The sauce had plenty of flavor for Shawn and I, without causing the kids to complain that it was too spicy (I’ve been accused of that on more than a few occasions). Aside from the sauce, which wasn’t all that complicated to make, the ingredients list couldn’t have been shorter: turkey, corn tortillas and monterrey jack cheese. I served the enchiladas with whole sprouted pinto beans, seasoned with onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. The entire family gobbled it up and asked for more, but alas, there were no leftovers. Luckily, I have a pastured chicken in the refrigerator practically begging me to repeat the recipe later this week to take when we visit some out-of-town relatives. And I’m betting that all I’ll bring back is an empty baking dish.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

December 8, 2009   2 Comments

A Bit Burned Out

No, I didn’t experience any kitchen disasters during my Thanksgiving cook-a-thon, but after a solid week of spending more time in that one room of my house than all the other rooms put together, I’m ready for a little less intensity in that area and a little more time to spend on other things that require my attention. Still, we’ve gotta eat, and so, I’ve gotta cook. 🙂

I do want to report that Thanksgiving dinner was incredible and was completely worth all of the time and effort it took to pull it off. I added to and otherwise modified my menu as the day got closer—most notably by including healthy, allergy-friendly versions of Mushroom Gravy, Green-Bean Casserole and Coconut Milk Whipped Cream that were part of the Thanksgiving menu plan offered by Heart of Cooking’s Sarah Schatz. (Click here to see the blog of this personal chef and menu planner for those on limited diets.) And Kellen requested his favorite gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free biscuits (a recipe from Living Without magazine.) My variation on my mom’s fruit salad was as good as the original. (My only disappointment there was that I couldn’t incorporate the homemade mayonnaise because the farm I buy from didn’t have enough pastured eggs for me to purchase any on the day I picked up our turkey. So that experiment will have to wait for another time.) And the pecan pie recipe I followed—inspired by Sarah Schatz and her inspiration, a Nourishing Traditions recipe—was a delicious take on the traditional dessert. (Substituting raw honey for corn syrup, using pecans that had been soaked and dried, and creating a sprouted-grain crust made for an indulgence I didn’t feel at all guilty about eating.) Here is a mini-gallery of photos from the memorable meal:

"Best" biscuits.

"Best" biscuits.

Scrumptious salad.

Scrumptious salad.

Turkey and trimmings.

Turkey and trimmings.

Perfect pie.

Perfect pie.

In the days since Thanksgiving, I’ve made homemade turkey stock and turkey noodle soup—and I have plenty of turkey leftover to make enchiladas later this week. 🙂 I also made a big batch of Apple Butter in the crockpot—enough to enjoy on pancakes, waffles and toast for probably the rest of the month. (Click here for my recipe.)

Turkey noodle soup.

Top-notch turkey noodle soup.

Incredible apple butter.

Incredible apple butter.

After a little time with a lighter cooking load, I’m sure I’ll be ready to do it all again when Christmas arrives in a few weeks. How about you? What’s cooking—if only in your mind for the moment—for your next feast?

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

December 1, 2009   2 Comments