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Going Green in a Pink World



musings and recipes for healthy, green living



Updated: 2016-08-08T19:41:32.348-07:00

 



Keeping Christmas About Christ - Why We Don't Do Santa

2015-12-12T10:47:06.549-08:00



We didn't tell our daughter that Santa Claus is comin' to town. We didn't tell her that he knows if she's been bad or good, and that she better not pout, or cry, because he's checking his list. We don't leave milk and cookies, or take the requisite screaming baby/Santa photo each year either.

It wasn't a no-brainer - parts of me were worried. Would she still have an imagination? (Yes.) Would she still think Christmas is magical? (Resounding yes.) It's funny how the "magic" of a secular Christmas gets eclipsed by the wonder and awe of the greatest miracle that ever was, is or will be: the birth of GOD, Emmanuel, God WITH US, in a stable, laid in a manger, to a virgin girl. If we can't woo our children's imaginations and creativity with The Creator, how can we expect them to be captured by The Greatest Love Story Ever? God loving us. God watching us, seeing if we are naughty or nice, and then sending His Son - REGARDLESS of our status on "the list." No one gets coal in that story. No one is left out because of behavior. Behavior, in fact, is a non-issue. Instead, Because God so loved the world. Instead, He gave His only Son. Instead, HE is our present, our gift, our eternal prize. That's magic.

We read the Polar Express. We watch Elf and Rudolph and Prancer. Santa is a character, one actor in a cast that completes The American Christmas Story. And since we are American, we talk about him. We read stories about him. We sing songs about him. But he's not Christmas himself. No, that would be Christ. And I want to make no mistake that He is the reason we celebrate. And so we set up our nativity, and read about his birth. We sing Christmas carols about that Silent Night, we bake cookies to give away and bring gifts to friends and neighbors, and send cards to those we love. Our Christmas is creative, inspiring, fun, and very similar to yours - except we don't hype up what's coming down the chimney.

This is a choice our family made. Many people choose to instead include Jesus and Santa, and every family has the freedom to choose what resounds in their hearts. I am working with my daughter to not "ruin it" for your family. But I hope even when kids who believe do find out, Christmas isn't ruined. I hope they can find the deeper, truer "magic" that Christmas is really all about.



Baked Stuffed Fish with Creamy Collard Greens

2013-07-30T17:23:36.664-07:00

Can I just put this out there?

I'm not a great food photographer. No one will be giving me any special blogging awards for my orangey-yellow food pics. That said, I think what I make tastes pretty darned good. So there. You'll just have to trust me. And go to those other food blogs for visual inspiration. They're really pretty, but I can't guarantee the final product.

So this pregnancy, I've been craving fish. (If you've been following me for more than four years, you may remember that the last pregnancy consisted of lots of goat cheese and homemade sourdough bread, so fish is certainly a step up!). I normally make the same pan fried buttery garlic haddock, which is easy and delicious, but I wanted out of that rut.

Enter: baked stuffed flounder. You can use any white fish you want, but flounder has a high omega-3 count (and maybe it was on sale too...), so I opted to expand my horizons. If you're not a collard greens fan, just stick with me on this one. You'll hardly know it's there, and afterwards, you'll feel all healthy inside for consuming so much good stuff in one sitting.

This will whip up and be plate-ready in 30 minutes. You have no excuses.

For two servings
2/3 pound of white fish
bunch of collard greens (spinach, kale, or other greens will do just fine!), chopped into 1/2 inch ribbons
3 T butter
1 red or yellow onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces sour cream (my favorite)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cheese, shredded or just cut up small (I used gouda and parmesan)
salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • On stove top, add butter to saute pan. 
  • Melt, and add onion. Cook about 5 minutes, til soft. 
  • Add garlic. Cook a few minutes.  
  • Add greens and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes for collards.
  • Add sour cream and wine. Stir well.
  • When sour cream and wine are thoroughly mixed into greens, add cheese. Cook until melted, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Arrange fish pieces on top of a bit of butter in an oven safe dish. 
  • Spoon green mixture onto one half of each fish piece, and fold over, to make a "sandwich." Bake until the fish is flaky. It only took about five minutes for my thin flounder. 
  • Take a picture, and I'll post it on my blog. 
 I served it with some left over rice. Enjoy!






You, The Great I Am

2013-01-31T09:34:27.523-08:00


Inspired by a night of wind, a morning of grace...

You
start all my songs, all my stories--
but not just mine. Every good song,
every good story.
Author.

You
clean and bind and heal
my wounds
even when I think I'd rather hurt
in familiar pain.
Healer.

You
lavish gifts of love, acceptance, joy
more than I deserve
--grace--
You are good.
Giver.

You
sacrificed The Most Precious
One
for me, for people, for togetherness.
Redeemer.

You, Lover of my soul.
You, Lord of my life.
You, King of all kings.
You, Glorious, Majestic, I AM.

Yes, You ARE.




Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

2013-01-22T12:02:26.070-08:00



Mix equal parts:

Citric Acid (I store separately to avoid clumping)
Washing Soda
Borax

Use 1 T per load. Vinegar in the rinse compartment is helpful for shiny, residue-free dishes!




Homemade DIY Laundry Detergent

2013-01-31T09:44:17.733-08:00

Easy, peasy.

  • 1 Cup Washing Soda
  • 1 Cup Shredded Soap (I used Ivory-it takes a few minutes to grate, or put in your food processor)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • ½ Cup Vinegar (optional: added to rinse compartment)
Mix. Store in an airtight container. Add 1 T per load.

I'm hoping to cut out the Borax because of health concerns, but it's not on the top of my to-do list. Anyone else have a recipe that works well without the Borax?

This one looks intriguing...

http://www.budget101.com/myo-household-items/whipped-cream-super-laundry-soap-3993.html



Morning Glory Muffins (grain free)

2012-10-29T12:13:58.813-07:00

I just can't let this recipe come and go...it's one of our new favorite snacks. Enjoy!1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) raisins1/2 cup oats1 cup almond meal1/2 cup ground flax1/4 cup maple syrup2 teaspoons baking soda2 teaspoons cinnamon1 T minced fresh ginger1/2 teaspoon salt3 large carrots, grated1 large apple, peeled, cored, and grated1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut1/2 cup nuts, like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, or pecans3 large eggs1/3 cup butter, melted1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or just use all butter)2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 whole vanilla bean)1/4 cup liquid - apple, orange, pineapple juice, or milkMix together all dry ingredients (raisins to nuts)Blend wet for several minutes (eggs to liquid)Mix together. Pour into muffins tins. Bake at 350 til set.[...]



Wattpad

2011-03-18T19:07:41.880-07:00

I've been MIA. I know. It's pretty pathetic. I have some other projects, and cooking has taken a backseat. I'm still diligently kefiring and trying to eat clean and green. It works most of the time, but moderation is my new mantra as a mama.

The first project I'm working on is a non-fiction book called The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby's First Year. It's been loads of fun - I'm researching and working with experts in fields that are relevant and interesting to me at this point in my life. Plus, we're reviewing products, which means learning about cool new companies. You can find us on Facebook, where we often have lively discussions with our fans. We're hosting some pretty cool giveaways too.

The second project is the young adult fiction novel, Filling in the Gap, that I wrote about in an earlier post. I'm done with it, but am revising a final time. I entered the manuscript in a contest on Wattpad, an online eBook community. I haven't marketed it well at all, because I'm inundated with Other Baby Book stuff, but I think I have a shot at winning, if I can just get through the first round, which is the "popular" vote. From there, my pieces goes to judges.

(image)

If you're interested in reading the first fifty pages and/or voting for me, I would be so appreciative! If you don't have a Wattpad login, you will have to sign up. I know that kind of stuff can be a pain, so thank you thank you!!

I'll be back again someday...just not sure when. Our goal is to finish The Other Baby Book and have it published by August!!



Green and Healthy Routines

2013-01-31T09:46:37.336-08:00

I had a reader ask about my skin care routine. I used to do the Oil Cleansing Method, but for whatever reason (I think it was my trip to Italy, actually), I stopped. Ironically, I was thinking of starting again, and you, dear reader, were the kick in the pants that I needed. I'm loving the new routine! (I was previously using Mountain Rose Herbs cleansing grains, which are totally awesome as well.) I feel like I've rediscovered an old friend. I use extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, and a few drops of jojoba and almond oils, rub a quarter sized amount into my face for several minutes (ah, massage), and then follow with a "steam facial" - a piping hot, wet washcloth - for at least a minute. My skin feels wonderful and moist afterward. I do rub some jojoba oil once it's dried though, because it can feel tight. I mixed up a big batch to save time each day, but playing around with different oils is fun, and something you can definitely do. Just remember that castor oil is drying and cleansing, and olive oil, jojoba, coconut, avocado and almond oils are moisturizing. Adjust according to your needs. And maybe I should add, I only wash my face once a day. And I probably shower far less than the average American. My sister would cringe if she ever read my blog.UPDATE: 1/13I'm currently loving a version of the OCM. I stir equal parts white sugar, honey, and coconut oil together until they are well mixed. I store it in a little ramekin, uncovered, in my bathroom, and scoop out a little every morning. It's got the exfoliation which I missed with the OCM, but the moisture I missed with the cleansing grains. Best of both worlds!My latest favorite "product" are tooth chips. I won a sample of tooth chips from Rose of Sharon and I admit, I was skeptical. Something that tastes like SOAP? No TUBE? But I'd been wanting a more sustainable alternative to toothpaste for awhile, so I took the plunge. Why use tooth chips? Well, here's what their site says about the chips:We use Organic Oils It is FREE of Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) It is FREE of Fluoride It is FREE of Tricosan It is FREE of Sand and Silica which brushes away gum tissue and enamel It really CLEANS your teeth and doesn't leave a glycerin film to coat your teeth It CLEANS so well that after brushing your saliva naturally begins the re-mineralizing process It's SAFE for your entire family It's MADE in the USA I can attest that it is an amazing product. My teeth feel so very clean after brushing. Despite my lacksidaisical attitude toward showering, I'm pretty fanatic about having a clean mouth. I floss regularly, and I do use an electric toothbrush every night, which makes a big difference. (I just use a manual one in the mornings.) These chpis are a keeper. I don't know that Anabella will ever taste tooth paste. As an added bonus, there's no plastic tube. Gotta love it! (You do have to get over the fact that it tastes like soap though...)Rose of Sharon has some fantastic shampoo bars too. Again, no plastic bottle, just a bar of soap. My hair feels seriously clean, and smells a lot better than when I tried no 'poo with baking soda. They're very reasonably priced, can be used on your body, and contain no chemicals or yucky stuff that I wouldn't want to seep into my blood stream. When we consider that hot water in the shower opens our pores, if you use lots of products that have unpronounceable chemical ingredients on your hair and skin, they are going to make their way into your body. I'm especially aware of this fact because I'm breastfeeding. Anyway, I digress. After shampooing with the soap bar, I follow with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, drop of lavender oil, and drop of tea tree oil, diluted in two cups of water. My hair feels really soft. It doesn't have much body though, so I'll be working on that end of things soon. I'm just glad it doesn't smell or[...]



Why buying eggs at the farm can be really fun...

2010-04-19T15:02:46.311-07:00

COLORS!



Pregnancy Preparations

2010-04-13T18:05:11.859-07:00

It's been four hours since I arrived home. I could barely get off the couch for the first five minutes after I made it through the door. And then...

I cleaned out the refridgerator,
made beef stock,
mushroom and bacon egg muffins,
taco meat to freeze for future meals,
lentil soup,
hamburgers for dinner,
fried polenta,
and Mark's lunch.

So now, at 9pm, I'm finally ready to relax with a bowl of baked custard.



Egg Muffins

2010-04-13T17:54:32.887-07:00

I'm trying to make and freeze as many snacks and meals as I can before baby girl comes. It's been hard for me to eat as much as I need to gain weight in the third trimester, and since I know you have to eat even more as a nursing mother, I figured if I had some snacks ready, I'd be more apt to eat.

This little creation came out differently than I'd expected. I thought I would make my typical kiku, just in a muffin tin, but they puffed up so cutely, I had to call them egg muffins. The recipe is simple, and they're packed with protein, fat, nutrients, and taste. It's a perfect on-the-go breakfast or mid-day snack. Feel free to substitute bacon and/or mushrooms with kale, spinach, or leeks.

Ingredients
1 dozen eggs
1 lb bacon, browned and diced
1 lb mushrooms (portobella are filled with vitamin D), sauteed in butter or EVOO
1/2 t garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic, sauteed
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan for the topping

Method
Combine all ingredients except Parmesan.
Put 1/3 cup of mixture in each muffin pan. (I used silicone and didn't have to grease or put cups in)
Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until tops are browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
If freezing, let cool completely on wire rack, and then put in a freezer bag or container.



Baked Custard

2010-04-13T17:58:00.444-07:00



And you thought I was done for the day. Nope, here's another one of my favorites. It's adapted from my mother's old Joy of Cooking book from the 1970s. The book has no binding left, the pages are everywhere, and I started getting sick of looking in the index for the page number for baked custard. (Yes, a bookmark would be nice, wouldn't it?) It's a recipe that needs more press anyway, so I thought I'd share.

I love eggs, especially the yolks. I love milk, but only the raw stuff. They are the bulk of my diet in various forms (kiku, kefir, yogurt, cheese, omelets, egg salad, egg drop soup, and the ever popular soft boiled egg). They are both so good for you. This baked custard has been my go-to dessert in late pregnancy as I try to maximize my nutrients and enjoy my food. I look forward to my little ramekin every night! The best part? The recipe is so easy and uses what you have on hand. Can't beat that.

Ingredients
2 cups of milk
  • If you use raw milk, supposedly the custard will be runnier unless you heat it to 160 degrees. I have never done that, and still have a great consistency.
1/4 cup maple syrup
  • honey or sugar may also be used, but maple syrup yields a flan-like flavor
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (homemade is easy!)
sprinkle of nutmeg if you wish

2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
OR 4 egg yolks
OR 2 eggs

The more whites to yolks, the stiffer the custard. I like using 2 eggs and 2 yolks. Save the whites for macaroons.


Method
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Blend milk, salt, maple syrup together. Add eggs. Blend well. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer.
3. Pour into individual ramekins (4 or 5 will do the trick).
4. Fill 9x13 dish with 1-2" of water.
5. Place ramekins in the dish.
6. Sprinkle nutmeg on each of the cups.
7. Bake for 20-50 minutes. If using raw milk, it will be more like 50. If using pasteurized milk, it will be closer to 20. A toothpick will be your best gauge of doneness.
8. Remove ramekins from dish and cool before refrigerating.
9. Eat for breakfast, snack or dessert!



My favorite Sourdough Pancakes

2010-04-10T06:30:56.121-07:00

I've been away a long time. I know. Is anyone out there still?? I can't promise this post means more recipes or research or anything. It just means I like pancakes...and my midwife told me to try to gain a little more weight in these last few weeks. Hence, a pancake post.   I've been realizing how much I like to come back to my recipe index and follow the instructions there for my favorite meals, even if they're almost the same as the recipes in my books. It just feels better. Kinda like those really comfy fleece pants I've been living in for the last 9 months. So, here is my version of King Arthur's Sourdough Pancakes. KA wants you to make waffles with the batter, but the waffle maker is so hard to clean, it makes me want to rip out my eyelashes. You can be the judge.Light, tangy, a little chewy - these are not IHOP pancakes that taste like mini cakes. But they're good. And filling. And since they're sourdough, they digest more readily than the pancakes you'd make in the morning, so you can go for that walk or run you've been putting off without feeling like you have a brick in your stomach.This recipe is really quite easy if you have a sourdough starter. If you don't, post that in the comments and I'll send you some. I'm that confident that everyone needs to try this recipe! Caveats - Unless you have a large griddle, you may be flipping pancakes for awhile. (Maybe everyone else has a griddle except us?) And, you're probably going to use far more butter than you're comfortable with. If so, just read this while you're waiting for those pancakes to brown up!Ingredients:Overnight sponge2 cups flour (I've had equal success with whole wheat and all-purpose)2 tablespoons sugar2 cups buttermilk (I don't use buttermilk that often, so I have the powder, and add 2 T, and 2 c water - you could also try 2 c water and 2 T lemon juice)1 cup sourdough starter from the fridge (not fed) Batterall of the overnight sponge2 large eggs1/4 cup melted butter (brought back to room temp)3/4 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon baking sodafillings: chocolate chips, apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries - whatever you have around the house!And lots of butter to cook with!1. Before you go to bed, add the ingredients from the overnight sponge together. Don't worry about lumps. They should disappear. Leave out at room temperature. If you're worried about creatures, cover. I tend not to...The mixture will be nice and bubbly by morning:2. When you wake up, preheat your griddle or cast iron pan. Then, get your butter melted and cooled a bit. You don't want to cook the eggs in the butter when you combine them! Beat them in a small bowl, and then add to the sponge. Don't stir the sponge too much. They should fold right in.3. I like to sprinkle the salt and baking soda on top and then gently fold them in. I've had bad experiences with baking soda. It's not fun to bite through a clump of baking soda in your pancake.4. Make sure your griddle is the right temperature. I use my cast iron pan and heat it to medium low. Then, I don't touch it. Playing around with it with drive you batty. You want it to be hot enough for butter to sizzle when you add it to the pan, but not so hot that the butter burns. Experiment.5. I have a small kitchen (OK, fine. I have a big kitchen and too many gadgets) and so no room for a griddle. Sometimes, I wish I did though. It's a bit tedious to scoop out the pancakes one at a time, but luckily Mark is a late sleeper, so by the time he gets up, all he sees is a few dozen pancakes and misses out on the 2 hours it took to cook them one by one. Maybe you could write a blog post while you wait?6. There were really no instructions in #5. Hmm. I put down a spot of butter before I cook each cake. I use 1/2 cup[...]



Brown rice nori rolls

2010-02-12T15:06:21.804-08:00

I never thought I could make sushi rolls at home. Mark and I love sushi so much, we registered for a sushi kit when we got married...seven years ago. I used it once during our first year of marriage. But I think I've mastered my fear. Nori (and all sea vegetables) are rich in vitamins and great for preggos. I look forward to adding some cooked shrimp or salmon to the next roll!



Roman Egg Drop Soup, or Stracciatella

2010-02-12T15:03:39.760-08:00

Ready? I've got a recipe that is sure to knock your socks off. It's 4 ingredients, not including a dash of salt and pepper, you've likely got them all at your house, and it takes about 5 minutes to prepare....


It's Roman Egg Drop Soup. It's delicious. I eat it whenever Mark is out of town, or for lunch, or even for breakfast. It hardly needs a recipe, but I'll humor you. I love this soup because it's so nourishing, easy, and pretty frugal. It's probably not something I'd serve to guests, but it's been perfect on a winter's day.

For one serving
1.5 cup chicken stock

1 egg, beaten

1 T parmesan cheese

pinch of fresh parsley, dried, or oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Boil stock. Meanwhile, beat egg and add herb and cheese.

When stock is boiling, start stirring vigorously, then add egg in a thin stream. You don't want poached egg soup (or maybe you do...) so make sure you're whisking! Remove from heat. Season. Eat.




Sardine Salad

2010-02-01T16:28:55.461-08:00

There's something about the word "sardine" that just gives me the heeby-jeebies. They rank right up there with cod liver oil or anchovies (which have their rightful place in salad dressings and tomato sauces). So the can I bought at the beginning of pregnancy has stayed firmly in the corner of the cupboard...until today.

A long day at work, coupled with knowing Mark isn't come home for dinner, usually leaves me with little motivation to cook. I'd already had eggs for lunch and oatmeal for breakfast, so I had to come up with something fast. Thus, my sardine salad was born. I figured I'd be choking those little nasties down, but it turns out they taste like TUNA FISH, which of course I haven't eaten since August, due to minimal mercury concerns. What a great find - especially knowing they're packed with calcium and iron. So, although I am by no means counting the following recipe as a gourmet meal, it's a nutritional powerhouse, and actually tasted pretty darn yummy! It could serve as a guideline as to what to do when you just don't feel like cooking.


Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
2 cups greens (I used arugula)
1/2 red pepper, sliced or chopped (vitamin C!)
1 can flaked sardines (iron, calcium)
1 sliced avocado (fiber, folate)
1/4 c sunflower seeds (magnesium, vitamin E)

You could throw on any veggies you have, or any seeds/nuts.

Dressing
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt or sour cream or creme fraiche (calcium)
1 T mayonnaise (mine was homemade so it had good enzymes from the raw egg yolk)
2 T raw apple cider vinegar (helps with digestion)
glug of olive oil

Blend dressing. Add to salad ingredients. Mix. Revel in your strange, but delicious, dish.



Cloth Diapers for Dummies: Part I

2010-07-09T09:12:50.875-07:00

Mommy's Touch Adjustable Newborn Diaper in celery greenI recently realized that I know very little about the House of Representatives and the Senate, and will, in full disclosure, confess that I didn't even know that the two branches together made up the Congress. Mad props to Hanover High School History Department, huh? I do take some responsibility though. I should have sought out this information long ago. Just this week, tired of my ignorance, I borrowed Congress for Dummies from my local library and am loving it. Those "dummies" books are perfect for beginners. They're like the Wikipedia of the book world. I'm hoping this series will be something of that sort. I've been doing a good deal of research on cloth diapering over the past few months. I knew nothing about it when I started, other than a vague notion that disposable diapers in a landfill seemed like a bad thing. It's literally taken me countless emails to cloth diapering friends (thank you VF!!), hours and hours of reading websites, and even an in-person diapering demonstration to feel like I finally have a hold on the world of cloth. I don't plan on writing much of my own opinions or thoughts in this series though. Instead, I'd like to compile a list of resources so you can go through the process for yourself. (Only faster, because I'm guiding you to the websites I found most helpful!)Why use cloth?Real Diapers - This site presents all factual evidence from enivornmental reasons, to health concerns, to economic breakdowns.Happy Green Baby - HGB is a little more reader friendly, and includes most of the information from Real Diapers.What are my options?Happy Green Baby - This is a great glossary of cloth diapering terms. Kelly's Kloset - The first part of this page addresses the various kinds of cloth diapers, and then goes onto more explicit instructions for cleaning and other concerns.What do I need to get started?Here's what I've been using. My wash schedule is Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and I don't run out of diapers. I found it unrealistic to think I could wash everyday, but have no problem keeping to the three day a week schedule. 24 prefolds, 5 covers, 3 all-in-ones, 6 doublers, and 12 tie diapers24 prefolds - Note: I had to wash these 6 times before using them to get maximum absorbency.2 Mommy's Touch Adjustable Newborn covers  - love these for the summer, and for umbilical cord. They say up to 10 pounds, but Anabella is at 11 lbs and I think she'll fit into them for awhile longer1 Disana wool pull up - This is great for cooler weather, or night time. I use them as pants too - no need for another layer!3 Dream-Eze All in Ones - These are my favorite for night time - just throw them on half asleep. Other people find these easiest too...like husbands and mothers.1 Imse Vimse wool cover - velcro wrap style cover - very easy to put on1 little beetle little to big organic merino wool cover - so soft and comfortable - doesn't leave any red marks on legs12 Disana tie nappies - these are great with a doubler for night time. They take a little getting used to because you have to fold and tie, but they are comfortable and aborbent. I probably only use 1 or 2 a day. I imagine I will use them more as she grows into them, as they are still a little big.  I've also collected a few fitted diapers, which are nice because you don't have to fold, and they hold a little more, but I don't think they are worth the extra cost. You still have to put a cover over them. I'd prefer all-in-ones if I were going to invest in more diapers.For older babies: (so I've heard...)Infant (4 to 10 months) - 16 - 20 diapers (4 covers)Toddler (10[...]



Sourdough Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

2010-01-24T16:58:00.425-08:00


I don't know why I have such difficulty with photos. It's not my forte. These muffins were beautiful - great crumb, dotted with chocolate chunks, high top, sturdy body.  It's hard to tell, but hopefully you won't hold it against the muffin. It's my fault. They taste heavenly - light, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweetness. You'd hardly know they were made from whole wheat flour.

So what gives? Two posts in one day? Well, after making these, I knew I had to share.  I made them for a few reasons: I've been waking up in the middle of the night starving, and Mark enjoys a good midday snack, and I had 1 cup of sourdough starter that I had to discard, so I figured I'd hit all these points in a good muffin. There's no refined sugar in here, the flour is whole wheat, and the sourdough starter helps with digestion. What's not to love? I couldn't hold this recipe back from you. If you don't have a sourdough starter and you live close, give me a shout and I'll gladly give you some of mine...even if you don't live close and you're a faithful (or lukewarm) reader, I'll mail some. I obtained my starter from a blogging friend I've never met in Virginia - the one whose recipe I've adapted below, actually - so I am happy to pass on the love.

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Adapted from Vehement Flame's recipe


1/2 c butter
scant 1/2 c honey
2 eggs
2 c whole wheat flour
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts baking soda
1 ts sea salt
1 ts cinnamon
1 T vanilla
1 c fed and rested starter
3 mashed bananas
1/2 - 1 cup of chocolate chips (I just cut up some dark chocolate squares I had)
 
Cream together butter and honey. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and cinnamon. Add to wet. Mix together starter and bananas. Add to wet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until toothpick in center comes out dry. Don't overbake though! Let cool and then slather with butter and enjoy!



Chicken Pot Pie

2010-01-24T15:37:20.766-08:00

Chicken pot pie is one of those cold-weather comfort foods. I grew up on frozen pot pies from Shaw's, and I will unabashedly admit that I loved them. I may have even bought a few in our first year of marriage. For less than $5, we had several servings of what tasted like homemade pot pie. Once I got on my real food kick though, I had no room left for the frozen pot pies. I did adopt my aunt Anne's delicious recipe. She made a huge pot pie casserole for Christmas Eve one year, and I was hooked. The ingredients include a can of evaporated milk which I don't normally buy, so I made some substitutions and now....

Oh yes. This is it. I normally don't cook on Sundays (or I try not to, at least!), but this was quite simple. My mom gave me a rotisserie chicken yesterday, so I picked off about two cups of meat for the pie, and am currently simmering the carcass for stock. I had four sad little carrots in a bag at the bottom of the fridge. There was an onion hanging around somewhere, and a mostly gone bag of frozen peas. And we can't forget the frozen pie crust from Thanksgiving with Mark's parents in October. (I knew I shouldn't throw away scraps!) I had everything I needed, including an excuse to use up some of my pleasantly soured milk. It took less than a half hour to prep and clean, which is a miracle for me. I'll definitely be making this more often.

Serves 3
I highly recommend you double this recipe! I would have, but I had to work with the amount of chicken and veggies that I had.

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1.5 cups chicken stock
splash of milk (3 Tbsp maybe?)
shaking of whole wheat flour (3 Tbsp maybe?)
2 T butter
sprinkle of paprika
dash of garlic powder
pinch of dried mustard
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken meat, shredded, cubed or diced
4 carrots, cut into thin rounds
1 cup (or less) peas

1 pre-made or homemade pie crust

Method
Preheat oven to 350.
1. Saute onion in butter about 10 minutes, or until translucent.
2. Add flour and saute another two minutes.
3. Add stock and bring to a boil.
4. Simmer until sauce begins to thicken.
5. Add milk and spices, stirring often, until it reaches desired thickness. Remove from heat.
6. Mix together chicken, carrots, and peas in small casserole dish.
7. Pour sauce over chicken mixture and combine.
8. Season to taste.
9. Roll out crust and lay over top of pie.
10. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil (to catch drippings) until crust is golden brown and sides are bubbling, about 35-50 minutes, depending on your oven and the size/depth of your casserole dish.

Bon Appetite!



Hearty Sandwich Bread

2009-12-13T11:34:04.289-08:00

I've written before about how Mark is a huge sandwich fan. I can't seem to break him of his desire for deli meat and hearty sandwich bread, but worse things have happened. I'm saving money by making homemade bread, and I feel better knowing the ingredients, process and hands that made it. Because Mark works late and leaves early, I've been trying to help him by making his lunches at night. I noticed the bread was so soft after the first two-three days of baking, it was so soft that it wasn't holding up to a big turkey sandwich without tearing! Softness isn't bad for a dinner bread, or even a piece of toast, but it was problematic for the sandwiches. So, I found a recipe on allrecipes.com, and basically butchered it until it resembled a loaf that had the taste, consistency, and ingredients we both liked.

I've been baking loaves on Sunday afternoons, which means we often each French toast on either Saturday or Sunday to use up any last pieces of the prior week's loaf. I even made chocolate bread pudding with a stale heel one week! This is a very easy, low-maintenance loaf if you have a bread machine. It makes a smaller loaf than my other recipe, which works well for us, because we only need about 10 slices - 4 sandwiches for Mark, and 2 pieces for me on the mornings I have eggs.


Ingredients
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of any mixture of the following: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, millet, quinoa, amaranth, or cornmeal (I use whatever I have on hand!)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon milk, water, yogurt, buttermilk, or olive oil
2 T honey
1 1/2 tablespoons SAF yeast
1 T vital wheat gluten (to help with the rise)

Add water, butter, milk, and honey to bread machine. Then spoon the flour over the liquid mixture. Add seeds, gluten, and yeast. (I like to add my salt when the fruit and nut cycle beeps so that it doesn't interfere with the yeast action, but most recipes say to just add it with the flour.) Choose bread dough cycle. Mine runs about 90 minutes.

When dough is complete, punch down and transfer to baking pan, stick in a warm oven (or warm room) and let rise til doubled in size. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. I use my meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 190 degrees - otherwise I end up with gummy bread. This makes great toast, and Mark loves his turkey and avocado sandwich on this bread.



It's a girl!

2009-12-08T19:30:22.706-08:00

I'm a little late on this post, but we found out last Friday that there's a baby girl growing in my belly!  Here's a pic of me holding the ultrasound snapshot, as well as my 18 week bump. We don't have a name yet, though we have some strict parameters: non-American, uncommon, multiple syllables, and ends in a vowel. How's that for picky?!




Chicken Caccitore

2009-11-17T18:30:29.567-08:00






Mark and I are both Italian, but Mark likes Italian-American food far more than I do. I don't mind a good pizza a few times a month, and I'll take fresh food fruit and veggies from Italy above all else, but I'll pass on pasta ten times out of ten. Usually, I make a pot of homemade meatballs and sauce and eat it plain while Mark polishes off a half pound of pasta himself. Tonight's meal was no exception.  However, what I liked about this dish was that it only took about an hour from start to finish, and I didn't have to bust out the crock pot. It was a nice change of pace to have chicken and tomato sauce instead of beef. I adapted recipes from Joy of Cooking, my dad, and Food Network.

Serves: 4 - 6

4 split bone-in chicken breasts OR 1 whole chicken, cut up

dredged in 1/2 cup of flour seasoned with a sprinkling of red pepper and garlic powder, or plain

browned in 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium heat in a large stock pot (you may need to do this in batches)

Once chicken is done, set aside on a plate. Add to olive oil:

4 mashed, chopped garlic cloves and 1 cup sliced mushrooms

When mushrooms are brown and flavorful, add:


1 cup of white wine and cook til reduced by half

Then, add and stir:

1 28-ounce can of crushed or whole tomatoes
2 T tomato paste (I forgot it, but I wish I had added it for a thicker sauce)
3/4 c beef or chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, basil, and oregano
1 bay leaf

Put chicken back in the pot and simmer covered until chicken is cooked. I am very bad at telling when things are done, so my meat thermometer has been a lifesaver. You want the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees for poultry.

Let sauce sit for 5-10 minutes after turning off heat to thicken up a bit. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta, if you so desire. Fresh parmesan cheese is wonderful on top!



Health Basics

2009-11-16T17:09:47.204-08:00

Simple Healthy Eating Guidelines

Real Food. Real Lives. Real People. - my other blog with a plethora of information and basics on healthy eating

Beating Crohn's Disease Part I
Beating Crohn's Disease Part II


Top Ten Keys to Beating Colds and Flus

Benefits of Water Kefir

Natural Body Care Products

Should we throw out sunscreen?

Sally Fallon on Low-Fat, Lowering Cholesterol? - Important information for people who have questions about eating low-fat and have been told to lower their cholesterol



10 Keys to Avoiding the Cold and Flu (Or shortening your symptoms!)

2009-12-29T05:54:08.333-08:00

Some people wear gloves on the T (public trains, for those of you not in the Boston area). Some people stick those weird Zicam swabs up their noses. Others cross their fingers and swallow extra vitamin C supplements every once in a while.Are there better ways to avoid getting sick as the cold and flu season is upon us? I'd say, YES. I'd been planning this post for awhile, my inspiration coming from the many, many times I've told people I'm not getting the seasonal flu vaccine (never have) nor the H1N1 vaccine (never will). "But you're pregnant!" they gasp, as if I might as well count my baby as being born with only three fingers on each hand now, due to my insolence and irresponsibility. "Exactly!" is my usual response.I am very cautious about vaccines. I understand that people have good reasons for getting them, and it's always in the best interest of their family. I've done a lot of research though, and from what I've heard and read, I believe it's in the best interest of my family, especially my growing, unborn baby, to not receive an untested vaccine for a virus that I don't believe has the power to harm me if I am living a right lifestyle. I have simply not seen any compelling evidence or scientific research that points to safe, clinical trials that point to the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. In 1976, at the onset of another Swine Flu "pandemic", the public was vaccinated with an untested vaccine and these were the results: "Twenty five people died from severe pulmonary complications after receiving the swine flu vaccine, and about 500 cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome were reported after vaccination. Some 300 claims were later filed by families of Guillain-Barre Syndrome victims who died from the disease. The 1976 swine flu vaccine debacle ended up costing the US government $3.5 billion in damages to some 4,000 vaccine injured Americans -- a direct result of the CDC’s intensive vaccination campaign." (Dr. Mercola)Truth be told though, I honestly didn't think I needed to worry about H1N1, because I didn't think I would come in close enough contact with anyone who had it. I know I have a strong immune system, practice good hygiene, and get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep every night. I've had one cold and one sore throat in the last three plus years  - which marks the time when I started eating "real food" - and both of those were treated naturally and disappeared quickly. So I didn't worry...until Mark was diagnosed with Swine Flu on Tuesday.His doctor immediately prescribed TamiFlu for both Mark and me. I got a little nervous and looked it up on the internet, because I hadn't heard much about it. All I needed to see was this little blurb under their Safety and Side Effects tab:"TAMIFLU is normally not recommended for use during pregnancy or nursing, as the effects on the unborn child or nursing infant are unknown. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding while taking TAMIFLU, talk to your doctor before taking TAMIFLU."I am not interested in being a guinea pig, so instead of taking TamiFlu, I chose to move out for the week. I lived with my aunt for several nights, and my mother for a few nights as well.  For whatever reason, whether it was my Thursday afternoon visit to Mark in the apartment, the hiatus I took with my cod liver oil and coconut oil supplementation due to my unconventional living arrangements, or a combination, I started to have a sore throat on Fri[...]



Under Construction

2009-11-06T12:38:54.825-08:00

Hello readers!

As you may have noticed, I'm doing some construction around here. The tabbed links at the top should be good to go in a few days, so please remain patient.

Thanks for your readership,
=) Megan