Tuesday, December 29


This morning I made baked oatmeal with diced apple in it.  Why don't I make this more often?  I'd forgotten how good it is.  And I would rather my kids eat that than boxed cereal.  I need to get back in the habit.

Sunday, December 27

Quick and easy "fruitcake"

I posted about this on my mama blog. I made this fruitcake recipe from King Arthur Flour a week or so ago. I didn't let the loaf cool enough before trying to get it out of the pan so some stuck to the bottom. There's nothing more tempting to a family of pickers than a warm loaf of something with little bits missing from the bottom. I mean, if you pick a little no one will really notice, right? Not until half the loaf is gone anyway!

So on Christmas Eve, I made a double batch. We do still have one loaf intact, but there are a lot of other treats around too. Again, I tried to get it out of the pan too soon (the 20 minutes the recipe advises is not enough time), but no one cares around here.

This fruitcake isn't really traditional at all. It is very heavy and dense. But it's missing some of the traditional fruitcake ingredients like candied fruits and peels. It is full of dried fruits and nuts. My family really loves it. It's not too sweet, and I'm sure that could be adjusted to your taste by adding more or less sugar, and it has a really nice flavor. It is quite filling and a yummy snack with some hot tea.

I'm sure it will be added to the regular list of holiday baking.

Thursday, December 24

some new holiday baking

Along with the traditional things I do for the holidays (fudge, truffles, chocolate crinkles, scones), I tried some new recipes this year. They were both HUGE hits.

I didn't have espresso powder, but these coal cookies were yummy anyway! I had to hide them since all the other holiday baking I've done this year has disappeared already! We need to have SOMETHING for Santa tonight. In fact, I had to make the second batch of fudge yesterday.

And I tried to get this fruitcake out of the pan too early so it tore off the bottom a little which prompted the whole family to devour it within a matter of minutes. I'm making a double batch today! I don't do the candied cherries since they have Red dye #40. And I added a mixture of dried apricots, dried cranberries and raisins.

Monday, December 21

another idea for butternut squash

We tend to eat our winter squash in just a couple of different ways. We like it roasted with some honey and cinnamon. Sometimes we branch out and use maple syrup. Or I puree the cooked squash and use it in baked things like bread, muffins, cookies or cake.

But when I was recovering from my appendicitis I had lots of extra TV time. I saw an episode of Lidia's Italian Kitchen where she was doing an easier version of risotto using regular rice. One of the versions had butternut squash. So I made this last week. It was great with just a pork roast. It was our side with starch and vegetable and a different way to use the abundance of winter squash we have right now.

And Lidia was right. The consistency was more like a risotto than a regular rice side dish. Rich and creamy. And very simple, too!

Saturday, December 12

Holiday treats

I've been in the mood to do more holiday baking than in past years. In the last week I've made truffles with Emma, Molasses Cookies, Chocolate Mint Crinkles and then yesterday....

Carmel Corn and fudge!

For the carmel corn, I don't keep brown sugar on hand anymore so I used only 1 c of SuCaNat. It was still plenty sweet. And I did have corn syrup on hand because I keep thinking I'll try to make homemade marshmallows.

The fudge recipe is super easy and fast. And it is becoming Emma's specialty! We only use the walnuts, not the dried fruit or colored cherries. And we spread it in a 8x12 inch pan. Still very yummy!

Friday, December 11

how hard was that?

Wednesday night we had chicken and dumplings for dinner. Sounds impressive, huh? After dinner I was thinking that it was the kind of meal that seems so difficult or time consuming but was so very simple. Here's how it happened.

I had to run errands in the morning and had a meeting in the afternoon, so I put a whole chicken in a big pot with water, some garlic cloves, salt and celery leaves first thing in the morning. (I could have added onion or carrots or any vegetable peels I had but I was in a hurry.) I let it go until about 3 that afternoon when I fished the chicken and bones out of the water. I let them cool in a big bowl for about 20 minutes until I could handle it all. Then I pulled all the meat off the bones and set it aside. I strained the remaining stock to make sure I had all the good bits out of it.

I melted 4 T of butter in my oval dutch oven, then sauteed some onions and added diced carrots. I stirred in 4 T of flour to help thicken it all up later then stirred in the stock from before. I added the chopped chicken back into the pot. I wished I'd had some frozen peas to add. That would have added some nice color, but we settled for only carrots. I stirred in about 1 cup of half and half and then the whole pot simmered for about 20 minutes to begin to thicken up and get the carrots nice and soft. Added some seasoning in there too.

Then Trey helped me mix up the dumpling recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. (We actually tripled the batch!) And he plopped those on top. Lid on, simmered for 15 minutes and we were feasting!

So it didn't take a lot of time. Probably less than an hour of real hands on time, but it was so good and so hearty. I'm glad my kids will grow up knowing that dinner doesn't have to come from a microwave. That they will know that real food is quite easy to prepare with just a few skills.

Friday, November 13

Cranberry Streusel Pie

Talking about Thanksgiving the other night, Trey reminded me that I have to make this one. It was new to us last year and we LOVED it.

Cranberry Streusel Pie

1 lb fresh cranberries, mashed
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c flour, divided
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c walnuts I was out so I used pecans
1 tsp butter

1 9-inch pie crust

Stir sugar and 1/4 c flour into mashed cranberries. Pour into pie crust.

Smash nuts into small pieces. Stir in brown sugar, 1/4 c flour and butter with pastry blender until crumb is formed. Sprinkle over pie.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Monday, November 9

menu planning and grocery shopping

Last week as I was thinking about my big monthly grocery shopping trip for the beginning of the month, I made a list of meals I could make just from what was in the freezer and pantry. Wow is all I can say. Remember that we got a side of beef last winter and have been given some venison lately. I also have canned and frozen a lot from summer. And last week I got the first of our winter share from our CSA. My list...

Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots

Sausage and Peppers served with pasta

Beef Brisket with roasted potatoes, carrots and beets

Tangy Pork Chops over rice

Shepherd's Pie made Friday evening with ground venison

Chicken Divan

Potato Leek Soup

Beef Stew

Vegetable Soup

Chicken Pot Pies

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

Sri Lankan Curry

Walnut Chicken with Bulgur

Turkey dinner

Steak with roasted potates and green beans Saturday night's dinner with friends over

My grocery shopping reflected that. I buy just a little from the produce department (bananas!) and then stock up on some pantry items.

Now I don't necessarily have a concrete meal plan, but I can look at that list in the evening and figure out what we can have for dinner the next night based on what I know I have going on the next day and how tired I am.

And tomorrow I am finally making that turkey that has been in the freezer since last January. The kids will be so excited for a practice Thanksgiving dinner!

Monday, November 2

some canning pictures

It was a crazy summer here, not very hot at all. For certain crops, that wasn't good. The tomatoes were super late coming on here. Early tomatoes didn't come on until the end of August. I was nervous that we wouldn't have enough to can. We rely a lot on our home canned tomatoes throughout the winter and I was a little nervous.

But in the middle of September we had a hard freeze warning and Duane was able to pick lots of tomatoes. Here's a picture of red and yellow tomato sauce

It has been a GREAT year for peppers here in CO. I have soooo many frozen peppers of all colors: green, red, orange, yellow, ivory and even a few purple.

We made lots of salsa this year

And we pickled jalapenos, banana peppers and some anaheim peppers.

We included some carrots (orange and yellow) and some onion slices in the jalapenos, too. I think they are so pretty. And they taste YUMMY!!!

Thursday, October 22

I love my farmers!

In the past couple of weeks, we have had many meals that I realize have been completely provided by our CSA...veggies and meat, soups, stews. It was a really overwhelming thought that all the food on our table had been raised on the same few acres. Not something we could say about a meal prepared from only grocery store foods.

I love my farmers. They feed me...literally!

Tuesday, October 20

the flu-and soup season

We have been so very sick the past week. My hubby and I both had the flu along with the 2 youngest. Two of the other kids have also had some variation of the flu and two have remained healthy. I find myself making lots of soup lately. It's easy, filling, inexpensive and a good way to use the massive amount of veggies that have accumulated this harvest season.

A favorite is Potato Leek

I start by sauteing 3 good sized leeks in about 1/4 cup of butter. They can absorb all that butter and start to burn so I sometimes need to add a little more butter. Then I add about 8-10 cups of diced potatoes. Yukon golds are the best, but the red ones or even fingerlings will work. I cover those with chicken stock or vegetable stock, bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft and beginning to fall apart. The time this takes depends on the variety of potato, yukons are fast, fingerlings take longer. Then I use my immersion blender to puree out most of the lumps. Season to taste. Easy!

Friday, July 17


While I'm at it. I'll post this here for you all to see too! (OK so that means mostly my mom will know what we are having for dinner every night! lol)

steaks, roasted potatoes, roasted broccoli. calabacitas, green beans

Block party-taking zucchini brownies, homemade ice cream (kids will do hand crank!) and potato salad

Crock pot ribs, mashed potatoes, steamed beets, wilted lettuce salad

Q-ball parmesan, meatballs, garlic bread salad

Chile relleno casserole, turnips, kohlrabi and greens

hodge podge of leftovers and whatever veggies need to be eaten up for the week

I've missed you!

I can't believe that I am sitting down to blog! It's been so long. Life got really busy in the spring. I was working 32 hours most weeks, and occasionally 40 hours. That was all at night while trying to maintain my life during the day as well. Blogging lost out to sleep. Reading blogs lost out to sleep. Basically if I had a second, I was resting. Then my husband and I used birthday money to get ourselves iPhones and I really had little use for a real computer. I could check my email and FaceBook at night while I wasn't sleeping.

But I have been blissfully unemployed since June 25. We will miss the paycheck, but everyone is happy to have a functional mama again. And I have 2 contracts lined up for August.

We are back to doing our farm thing. I love that. I forget what it is like to have so much fresh food around. It's WONDEREFUL. And I have been trying to sit down every Thursday when we get home and decide how and when I will use the produce we have. I don't want things to go to waste. I am also trying to plan when and what I will put up for later. Not much of that yet, but I did make a triple batch of zucchini bread last week. We ate some right away and froze some. We have already eaten some of the frozen too. Today I did a batch of muffins, peanut butter oat bars, and a double batch of brownies. Some to eat now, some to freeze for later, some for a block party tomorrow.

I have also accomplished what I never thought I would. I can make potato salad that is almost as good as Grandma Shorty's! She is my grandmother that was never a great cook, but she made the sweet pickles that I still make and her potato salad was my favorite. I would make potato salad sandwiches at her house! I finally made a potato salad last week that I thought was almost as good as hers. I'm making more for the block party tomorrow. I have a ton of new red potatoes. They are so so so good.

I look forward to trying to catch up with my blogging friends out there. Checking google reader on an iPhone is a challenge so I had given that up too. Maybe I'll get a chance to get back to it.

Happy cooking...happy eating!

Sunday, April 12

survival mode

The last week was crazy busy. This week will be much calmer, but I am still just trying to maintain. *sigh*

We have managed to eat. I have cooked and all that. Thankfully, my family is quite forgiving. We have eaten some less than stellar meals, Eaten some foods I wouldn't normally serve (like the leftover boxed mac and cheese from the church supper on Wednesday...they sent home all the leftovers with us.) But we were just trying to get through the week.

I am still working on a plan for this week. Tomorrow's dinner will have something to do with leftover ham, I'm sure. And we have plenty of leftover muffins and fruit from this morning, so the morning is covered too.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 1

what plan?

I'm not sure what happened this week, but I have been totally off of my menu plan. Well, not totally. We are having the planned meals, just not on the planned day. lol

Here are a couple of recipes. The spinach casserole we did last night was good. In fact, Trey did most of it with just a little help from me. You can see the recipe here.

We are trying to get different grains into our daily diet. It's so easy to overdo it on brown rice. I love this recipe. I love the hint of cinnamon and raisins and walnuts. And we have found that we really love bulgur.

Any new recipes for you all out there?

Sunday, March 29

Menu Plan Monday

So it's a start...Need to finish the end of the week. Need inspiration!

eggs, toast, kefir smoothies
whole wheat pasta with bolognese sauce, salad, garlic bread
prep oats, thaw roast

baked oatmeal
crock pot fajitas
grocery shopping, mill and soak wheat for pancakes

whole wheat pancakes, kefir smoothies
chicken walnut bulgur, baked spinach
make granola, bake bread, make yogurt, do milk order

cinnamon bread, eggs
leftovers, liver and onions for Duane
thaw liver

yogurt and granola
homemade pizza
make pizza crust



Saturday, March 21


Got some yesterday...see their pictures here

Sunday, March 15

Menu Plan Monday

I have been consistently making menu plans for a while again. Now that I am trying to feed us more traditionally...more whole foods, more natural meals, I have to plan more. Since breakfast is no longer a bowl of boxed cereal, I also have to plan for that. Most of the things I make for breakfast also require preparation, too.

So here is is my plan for breakfast, dinner and whatever I need to do to prepare for the next day or prepare for later in the week.


toast (with today's homemade bread) and eggs, kefir smoothies
potatoes au gratin and ham, corn
thaw corned beef, make yogurt


homemade yogurt and granola parfaits with frozen berries
corned beef, cabbage, potatoes anc carrots, irish soda bread
bake soda bread in afternoon, mill flour and soak for waffles, thaw chickens


waffles and kefir smoothies
roast chicken, mashed potatoes, fried cabbage with bacon, roasted beets
prepare baked oatmeal before bed


baked oatmeal
Leftovers...and if there is nothing to eat, we'll have eggs!
make muffins, bake bread, make chicken stock


muffins and smoothies
maybe homemade pizza, still deciding
mill and soak flour for pancakes, thaw beef


pancakes. bacon, eggs
crock pot beef fajitas
prep oatmeal, thaw roast, brew kombucha


baked oatmeal
pot roast, potatoes, carrots
do meal plan for next week...

For more meal plans you can visit 5 dollar dinners

Wednesday, March 11

Real Food Wednesday

This is an ongoing thing that I have never participated in only read with delight. But today's topic is about getting kids to eat real food...and like it.

One of the staples around our house the past few weeks have been keifr smoothies. I've read about how great raw milk is and I really believe it to be true (more about that soon), but in Colorado it's illegal to sell raw milk unless you own a share in the cow. That would run our family about $8/gallon. Really not affordable right now.

But I want them to have the benefits of good milk. Right now we are trying to get the best milk we can afford and consume as much of it in it's cultured form as possible. Culturing helps to get some of those healthy nutrients back into the milk.

So one of our favorite ways to get some cultured milk each day is a morning smoothie.

For me and the 2 littles, I do

2 cups kefir
1 whole banana (Jack E loves to watch it disappear into the blender)
1/2 c frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp raw local honey

Blend it all together and enjoy!

You can see more kid friendly real food ideas here.

recipe tweaking

Last week I posted a recipe for spice muffins. I made them again yesterday and updated the recipe with my changes. It also gave me an even 18, which suits my OCD much better than the 16 I had before.


Tuesday, March 10

bloggy give away

One of my favorite bloggers is hosting a chocolate giveaway. The chocolate is amazing. Made from only single beans. Only uses can sugar. So delicious. I'm hoping to win some!

You can check it out here.

Monday, March 9

don't think they noticed

But I put pumpkin puree in their mac and cheese tonight. Hubby is out so I took advantage and made an easy dinner of homemade mac and cheese. Just before I stirred the shredded cheese into the white sauce I added a cup of pumpkin puree that I froze this fall.

I don't think anyone noticed any thing different, and I feel so much better that the got more veggies in them tonight.

Friday, March 6

liver and onions

That's what I made for dinner tonight! Well. that's what I made for hubby. I did make something else for the kids that were home tonight, but they all tasted the liver. Most of them liked it, too. For me, it's a texture thing. But I did eat a few bites to get some that super nutrition.

And I did it the old fashioned way, with bacon and onions too. It's liver from our half a beef. So I know that their liver hasn't been working hard cleaning out as many toxins as conventional stock yard cattle. The flavor was really mild, too. I think next time I'll use it with some ground beef to make burgers.

Thursday, March 5

making yogurt

My friend came over this morning to see how I make my yogurt. It's one of my culturing habits I started in December and now it's part of my weekly routine. Making yogurt is one of those kitchen chores that takes some time, but not all of it is active time. Like baking bread. You have to be there to watch how it's rising, but you can do other things and just check in from time to time.

So the basics of my yogurt making habit....( this is where I realize I really need a decent camera so I could share pictures )

I start with a half gallon of milk, and heat it at medium heat for about 20 minutes until it reaches 180º F. This is to make sure that any competing bacteria are killed off. ( I usually unload my dishwasher and wipe down counters while it heats. )

Then the milk has to be cooled to 110º F so that when the starter is added ( more about that in a sec ) it won't be killed off. I set the pan of milk in a sink of cold water to do this. It takes 5-10 minutes depending on how full I fill the sink.

At this point I get my jars ready. ( Yogurt needs to be stored in clean glass jars so there is no residual gunk in there. I always use the same jars over and over. Once we have emptied a jar and it's been through the dishwasher, I set it aside. When I have 4 jars, I know it is time to make more. ) I put my 4 empty peanut butter jars into the other side of the sink with hot water. This gets the jars warmed so the yogurt stays at a more constant temp while it incubates.

( I use empty peanut butter jars because they have a wide mouth and are easy to empty. I would rather make smaller jars of yogurt and dip into them less so there is less separating too. You can easily use 2 quart jars, but I like the smaller jars. I think I will also get a different cooler at some point and even do individual cups for the kids to use in school lunches next fall. )

When the milk is at 110º, I stir in about 2 Tbsp of starter yogurt. This is just a little yogurt held back from my last batch. Originally it was plain yogurt (with active cultures) from the grocery store. I then take about 2 Tbsp out and put that aside to use as my starter next time. ( I keep my starter in a little plastic tupperware type container. It incubates on my stove top under a towel for the day. )

Then I stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 c raw sugar. ( Since we were used to eating store bought fruit flavored yogurt before, I am not making plain yogurt for the kids yet. It's a compromise right now, but they eat the yogurt and still think it's a little sour. Once our taste buds adjust, I will add less sugar I think. ) Then it's into the jars. I use my ladle and big funnel just like when I am canning. Before I fill each jar, I pour the hot water out and into my little cooler. The jars are only about half full. Yogurt doesn't need any head room. so I fill the jars to the brim.

I have an old cooler that would hold a six-pack of soda cans. It's really small and there is not a lot of extra room once the jars are in. If you need to use a bigger cooler, you can add a towel over the jars to insulate them too.

With 4 jars in the cooler and the water that was in the jars before in the cooler, the water level is about 3/4 of the way up the jar. That water needs to be about 100º. The yogurt then needs to incubate in the 100º water for 6-8 hours. Then into the fridge over night so it's completely set.

I like my yogurt thick and custardy ( which is why I don't like the crock pot method ) and this method yields that every time.

Some random other things:

The starter culture will work best if yogurt is made every week or so.

Longer incubation will make a tangier yogurt.

No matter how much milk you use, the ratios of ingredients stay the same.

More starter will actually produce a runnier end product, the opposite of what I would think.

It's really, really good...and with cherry preserves we made last summer it makes an awesome dessert.

Sunday, March 1

soaked kefir spice muffins

I have lots of kefir now that I got my own grains. I love it, but we don't drink smoothies every day. I used some to make buttermilk biscuits the other day and they were awesome. I decided to make some buttermilk spice muffins like the ones at Mimi's Cafe. But I did tweak the recipe a little to fall in line with how we are trying to eat now. I only topped a dozen of the muffins because I have one kiddo that doesn't like nuts. Next time I think I will skip the topping altogether and add the nuts to the batter. And D (the husband) thought they needed raisins or cranberries or something, but that's his personal preference. I thought the muffin itself was quite yummy.

Here's a link to the original recipe.

And here's my recipe

Soaked Kefir Spice Muffins

Combine 1 1/2 c kefir and 2 1/2 c freshly milled whole wheat pastry flour and let soak overnight.

In the morning.
cream 1/2 c butter
1/2 c turbinado

Add 3 eggs and beat for 1 minute.

Stir flour and kefir mixture to soften up and make more pliable then add to eggs, butter and sugar, and stir to mix.

2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix until combined.

Stir in 3/4 c dried cranberries or chopped nuts

Pour into prepared muffin tins and top with nut topping (optional, follows). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Yield 18 muffins

Nut topping, optional
1 c chopped walnuts
1/3 c cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Saturday, February 28

yummy snack

I had some pitas from last Sunday that were getting a little dry so I thought I'd make pita chips. I cut the pitas into triangles, drizzled them with a little olive oil, sprinkled with 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp cane sugar. Baked at 350 for about 10 minutes til they were really crunchy. I mixed 4 oz of cream cheese with about 2 Tbsp honey as a "dip".


Tuesday, February 24

breakfast ideas

I was talking to a friend the other day about how our diet switch has been going. Nothing has been that noticeably different for the kids except for breakfast. They ate cold boxed cereal 80% of the time. I loved it too, because they were really self sufficient with their breakfast (which is wonderful when I am working nights and getting home at 6:30 am). But what about now that mama has deemed cereal a less than healthy option?

My menu planning has to include breakfast now as well. Especially since I shared with you that I am trying to soak most of our grains before we eat them. So now as I plan our weekly menu (yes, I'm back to that again too), I also plan our daily breakfasts and any prep work (like baking bread or making yogurt) that will need to be done.

Here's one of my favorite breakfast choices right now. It is usually our Sunday morning option with some leftovers for later in the week if someone needs a snack or doesn't like the other breakfast choice of the day. This recipe is based on one from Urban Homemaker.

Baked Oatmeal

In a large glass bowl, combine
1/2 c melted butter or coconut oil
1 c Sucanat
4 c rolled oats
2 c kefir
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Let sit for 8-12 hours

In the morning add
3 beaten eggs
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
a little milk to thin, if necessary

Bake in prepared 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes.

*For Sunday mornings I like to add some vanilla extract to the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle about 1/2 c chocolate chips on top. We also like it with 1 diced apple stirred in before baking. Last Sunday I added 1/2 c walnuts and 1/2 dried cranberries to the mix. That was my favorite so far.

The original recipe is only for an 11x7 but I have changed it up to make more for our larger family. Even my non-oatmeal eaters like this one. Hope you like it. Let me know what variation you come up with.

Saturday, February 21

soaking, fermenting and culturing...

...that's what I've been up to. I keep thinking I'll blog soon, but then there is something else to do. I have been busy for sure, but I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen. I have been reading Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation. They have been influencing a lot of what I am doing in the kitchen and what I am thinking about food.

So what are all those things I have been doing? I'll start with soaking. Whole grains are good for us. We've all heard that and know it to be true. We are all trying to consume more whole grains, too. Our family has been away from refined flours for quite a while. I started baking mostly all of our breads last winter. It's still an area that I am working through, trying to get a whole grain bread that we really love. I also mill our whole grain flours. When we buy whole wheat flour, there's really no standard that determines what is in that whole wheat flour. In fact, any flour made from wheat can be called "whole wheat flour", even all purpose four. Products made from those products can also be labeled that. Like twinkies that say they contain whole wheat flour. They are being literal and saying that they contain wheat flour and not rice flour or oat flour. Commercial whole wheat flours are really just refined flour (made from wheat) that has enough wheat bran and wheat germ added back to make it look healthier. (This info comes from Flour Power.)

That information really forms my belief that milling my own flour at home is worth the few minutes that it takes me. Buying whole wheat flour at the store just isn't getting what you think you are. Add into that the fact that as soon as the outer coating of that wheat berry is broken, the vitamins and minerals begin to break down. Have you ever smelled wheat flour that smelled a little off? It was probably rancid. The natural oils that are in the germ will "turn" depending on how the flour was initially milled and how it was stored. Even at home if I don't use all the flour I have milled, I will store it in the freezer to help preserve its nutrients.

So where does the soaking come into play? All grains (including oats) have phytic acid in their outer layer or their bran. This is really hard for us to digest. In our era of quick breads and quick cook oats, we have lost much of the time that our ancestors put into cooking their foods. By soaking flour or grains overnight (like with sourdough) we can neutralize some of that phytic acid by soaking in a slightly acidic liquid like kefir, yogurt or water with a little lemon juice or whey added. Not only is it easier to digest, but things also have a different texture. I make pancakes for the kids with whole wheat flour that I have soaked overnight in a mixture of milk and yogurt and they are super light and fluffy. If I made the pancakes without soaking first, the kids would definitely feel that they were eating something whole grainy, but after soaking, the pancakes aren't that much different that a refined flour product.

I do the same thing with oatmeal. The oats in the morning are much creamier. I never thought I would get them to eat anything other than flavored instant oatmeal packets. Not only are they full of extra ingredients, but they get expensive with 6 kids and many of them eating at least 2 packs of oatmeal at a time. Now I can buy inexpensive bulk oatmeal and soak it and add some chopped apple or something and everyone is happy.

Phytic acid also makes it harder for us to absorb some of the great nutrients in those grains. By neutralizing some of that acid, breaking it down, we can get more nutrition from what we are eating. Soaking also helps to break down some of the gluten in grains like wheat, oats, rye and barley. By consuming lots of these grains full of gluten we stress our digestive systems, resulting in the prevalence of a myriad of things like allergies, candida overgrowth and even celiac disease. Think about how our grocery stores are selling mostly refined flour products. In that refined flour, the germ and the bran have been removed, leaving a disproportionate amount of gluten in the flour and the products made from them. It's no wonder that there has been an uprising of celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. That is all we have consumed for a few decades. By using whole grains and soaking them, that gluten is more proportionate in what we are eating and also starting to be broken down for our bodies, helping our digestion.

I feel like I am all over the place with this. It is a pretty big topic to try to cover in one little blog post. I'm sure I'll have more to add later. And I'll tell you about culturing and fermenting later too.

Tuesday, February 3


That is the word to describe dinner at our house tonight. I saw a blog post about a yellow split pea and sausage soup. I thought I would do something like that. I had bought some natural polish sausage a couple weeks ago on sale and thought I'd use that with the dried split green peas I had.

I soaked my peas overnight. They looked great this morning. I put them in the crock pot with my kitchen stock from the fridge. This was where it all went wrong. I've been trying to incorporate more of the ideas I've been reading in Nourishing Traditions. Part of that is to add a little vinegar to bone broth to help get all the nutrients out of the bone. Well, I hadn't really read that part yet when I made the stock so I just added a big splash of vinegar to my pot of bones. It smelled really strongly of vinegar at the time, but I didn't worry about it. Too much.

I think there was just too much acid in my stock for my split peas to cook. After 5 hours or so on high, the peas were still like rocks. So I transferred the peas and the sausage to a soup pot (along with some sauteed onion, garlic, carrots and celery root). I added about 10 cups of water. After simmering for over an hour. Still hard as ever.

Soooooo. Last night I had made a pot roast. I had a ton of potatoes leftover and was thinking I would use them as a hash or something later this week. I pulled out the potatoes and put them in my big oval Le Cruset. I fished out the sausage, carrots and celery root and put that in along with some liquid.

Salvageable. And I made pita bread for the first time today. I figure as long as there is fresh bread on the table, the dinner can be so and so and no one will really care!

Thursday, January 29

so much to say, so little time!

It has been a great week for me in the kitchen. I have felt inspired to cook and plan meals. I have even planned breakfasts! Those have usually been up to the kids to fend for themselves, but since we are trying to get away from boxed cereal, I have had to make a plan. We've had pancakes and waffles and stove top oatmeal and baked oatmeal. Tomorrow will either be yogurt with fruit/granola or eggs and toast.

And I made a "clean" meatloaf, too. Not that my meatloaf has ever been from a box or anything, but I didn't use ketchup in it. Ketchup is one of the few last processed and full of high fructose corn syrup foods that we have around. And honestly, even organic Heinz is still not really great IMHO. Next summer I will try to can some homemade ketchup. But I digress. I used some tomato sauce with a little vinegar and a little honey and reduced it (with my sauteed onions) and added that to my meatloaf. Since I had my next batch of bread rising I used my last couple of slices of homemade bread to make the breadcrumbs even.

I can tell you are all impressed.

I do have some recipes that I want to post, but I also have Clay's birthday dinner to get to so it will have to wait another day.

I did make my first sauerkraut this week. D brought home some red cabbage from our CSA on Tuesday. He sliced it up super thin for me and I mixed it with the salt, pounded it in the jar, and let it sit. It was bubbling today so I put it in the fridge to sour. Can't wait! You can see the method I used here.

Tuesday, January 27

kitchen experiments

I've been keeping busy in the kitchen lately. I've experimented with a few things too.

I tried making yogurt in the crock pot using this method. I really didn't like it as much as the stove top/little cooler method. And I read in Wild Fermentation that using more starter can actually make a less firm yogurt. So I will go back to the stove top method and just use a little starter instead of the whole cup of yogurt my friend suggested.

Aleena made some really AWFUL cookies. She was making it up as she went. She was proud because it didn't have any butter or eggs in it. Then she tasted them. Yep, they tasted like they had no butter or eggs in them. I really need to do better about teaching my kids about nutrition. They are getting brainwashed by that silly food pyramid. I could rant on about that but I'll save that for another day!

I made a mixture of molasses and honey the other day like this blog post. It is so good. I love the taste of molasses, but it can be too bitter. And I really love that my boys think it's a great substitute for pancake syrup. So many nutrients in molasses and honey.

I have another sourdough starter going. I used it to make pancakes on Saturday and want to make this spice bread with it, but I need some spelt for that so it may have to wait until next week. I am really going to try to use my sourdough better this time. Duane was really wanting sourdough french bread like you get at the stores last year so I abandoned my starter. But this time I'll try to be more creative with it so we can get the benefit of that natural fermented food.

In the past couple of weeks I made a recipe with bulgur. It was this walnut chicken recipe. We all really liked it. And we had greens that night too. They weren't great but the kids ate them. I'll definitely make them again.

I made a different batch of granola yesterday. It's more of a clumpy type. The kids like that to snack on. It will become a staple in the pantry I'm sure as we wean off of boxed cereals. I told the kids about the studies I posted about before. They were all disgusted and thankful for things like homemade oatmeal and pancakes as alternatives.

I have a winter squash cake recipe to post too. I'll get it up later today. It's a great breakfast cake or dessert.

Thursday, January 22

what's wrong with cereal?

I know we can probably all find any study that says anything we want it too, but I read this one about cereal the other day and it's freaking me out a little.

We rarely have anything in the house besides WIC cereals anyway because that's what we get with our vouchers, but I'm still not crazy about the fact that it's so processed. I hate having to read long ingredients lists. :oP And since I've read that study I really want to get away from them.

One big problem? Cereal has become the go to food in this house. After school snack, breakfast, easy supper. Today I made a batch of granola to help steer the kids towards something else. It's not difficult at all, but I know they will also want variety so I will continue to work on that.

There was a time when I thought they wouldn't survive the winter if I didn't buy instant flavored oatmeal packets. I stopped buying those this winter. I had some I got with free coupons, and the kids inhaled them, but when they were gone...they managed to find something else to eat. I know the same thing will happen with cereal.

Taking steps away from processed foods is hard, but it's important to me. And I am more and more amazed at what goes into my cart at the grocery store. The things in it are ingredients to make a myriad of things. I am still very much a work in process.

Monday, January 19

still reading

I've been continuing to read my book and still thinking through a lot of things.

It resonates so much with me because I see that even as our "health" consciousness rises in the US...eating low fat foods, cutting back on sugar and using artificial sweeteners, using chemically altered products instead of real butter, buying white bread that has stuff added to it to make it more like whole grain bread...This country is fatter than ever! We have more diseases now that we didn't have 150 years ago. Sure people are living longer in a polluted environment now, but...

Last winter when I got my grain mill, I started reading about whole grains and how we really can't buy any whole wheat flour at the store. The nutrients in the wheat start to break down within a few hours. By the time it's packaged and in the stores, it's lost most of it's vitality. And if any of the oil from the kernel is still present, it's rancid by then.

Now this January I am reading more along the same lines. just how natural foods...in their fat laden states are good for us. Butter has nutrients, did you know that? Does that tub of hydrogenated oil we call margarine have any shred of naturalness left in it? Not really. We stopped eating margarine long ago. I realized that it has the same calories as butter. It just has processed fat as opposed to natural fat. So we chose natural fat.

Molasses and honey have nutrients too. Molasses is full of iron. And one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from seasonal allergies is to eat raw local honey. By ingesting that little bit of pollen, you allow your body to fight off the onslaught of it when it becomes bothersome.

Those are things I've known for a while. So as I read my book, I am feeling more and more comfortable with what I am reading. I will be making more changes to my family's already weird diet I'm sure.

Thursday, January 15

Nourishing Traditions

I've just begun reading this book.

Have you read it and what do you think? I think I will be changed by this book. I can feel it already. And I'm having a lot of inward struggle with it. The Weight Watcher in me wants to run away. The mother in me wonders how to do this.

I need to read some more.

Monday, January 12

lunch tote giveaway

We all know that taking food with us is a much more cost effective way and healthful way to feed our families when we are on the run, and there's a giveaway for a brand new cute lunch tote here. Go check it out!

Wednesday, January 7

homemade yogurt

A friend of ours gave us some of her homemade yogurt the other day. It was so good I decided it was time to go ahead and try it myself. I've been thinking of it for a while now. The kids go through Yoplait flavored yogurts really quickly, but I hate that one of the first ingredients is high fructose corn syrup. There are the natural brands without it, but they get pricey. I was really pleased that the kids were liking Ghena's homemade yogurt so I thought I'd try it.

(Now I have to confess that part of why they were devouring the yogurt is because we were also drizzling it with homemade chocolate sauce. But even that had natural ingredients in it.)

I asked Ghena how she made her yogurt. Part of why it's so yummy is that it has either whole or 2% milk. I decided that I wanted to go the nonfat route to make it easier for me with my quest to lose 5 pounds, and that way I could use nonfat milk powder too, to make it really affordable. There are instructions all over the internet on how to do it, so you can check out some simple ones here. The only difference was the addition of a box of unflavored gelatin. And I used the oven method which I don't think I will do again. My yogurt is runny and I think it's party due to the fat content and partly due to my incubation method.

I will be doing it again soon...well, after we eat this first batch. I'll let you know how it goes using the cooler incubation method. That's the one Ghena uses. And her stuff is AWESOME!

It's also great because you can use whatever you want as sweetener. I used turbinado last time, and I think I could have used more. (I think I used about 1/2 cup.) You could easily use honey or molasses or just table sugar. But you can control what goes in there. And I also used some of Lorrie's homemade vanilla extract. YUM!

Monday, January 5

really red sauce

On Saturday the meals just kind of got away from me. The boys had been out since late morning and came home at 3:30 or so STARVING. I had planned on scalloped potatoes and ham for dinner, but had't started that yet. I made the boys some ham scrambled eggs instead. Then I wondered if anyone would really want dinner. I wound up making pasta at the last minute.

I took an idea I used last summer and used different veggies this time. Little did I realize the beets and carrots , well really the beets would turn the tomato sauce into something that looked like it belonged in a horror movie. Thankfully the kids ate it up with few questions!