Tuesday, September 30, 2008

l'shana tovah!!

Have a VERY happy new year!

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year! Celebrate the sweet life that God has blessed us with!

Tonight we ate apples dipped in honey to remember that our Lord is sweet and wonderful!

Blessings on your new year!

Here is what is coming next

See if you can figure it out.

I went to the bathroom this morning. The bee LOVES it when I go to the bathroom because I let her watch Television then, and that is pretty much the only time she watches Television.

I eat a prune every morning and have since I was a little little kid. I love them.

I had a box on the counter.

I forgot to put them away.

There were about ten in the box when I went to the bathroom.

Two were left when I came out.

Soooo, I'm thinking I'm not going out with her the next couple of days.....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

a mission statement of sorts

This isn't meant to be just a food blog. It is meant to be more my mommy blog. Perhaps (hopefully) less aggressive than my other blog. I don't want to write about adoption here, or politics, or anything super dramatic. This is where I want to talk about my family, my faith, and most importantly my kitchen. Feeding my family, spiritually and physically, is my most important job. I don't talk about adoption or politics much in my day to day life, so I think that is why they are coming out on the other blog.

But here, this is about my home. My kids. My spiritual journey, which is so intertwined with my nutrition journey.

I don't want this to be just food, but also my walk with Jesus, nurturing my children, and being the wife and mother that God wants from me.

Beautiful morning

It is Sunday. We don't do church on Sundays for a myriad of reasons, the biggest being we have never found a Christian Community here in Pensacola. But we worship at home on Saturdays, the Sabbath.

But this morning, my house smells, and sounds amazing.

We have fresh coffee, grain milling, an apple cinnamon oven pancake baking away. I can look out my window and see freshly washed diapers fluttering in the cool fall breeze.

The bee is cutting bread dough and rolling it out, laughing as it stretches and springs back. Huck is in his high chair chewing on a maple teether and John is listening to his political shows in the bedroom.

This truly is the good life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It ain't pretty, split pea soup

But it is delicious


6 c. chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 med. onion chopped
2 t. fresh thyme, or 1 t. dried
2 bay leaves
Dash of tobasco sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups split peas

Boil everything hard for thirty minutes, then simmer for an additional thirty minutes. The peas will take different amounts of time depending on their age, how dry they were, even the weather. You'll have to taste test to find out when they are soft. After they are all soft, remove the bay leaves and discard. Blend with your stick blender, or in your blender. For a smoother soup run through a strainer.

It is ugly when it is done, but delicious.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coffee and Juice

I'm a coffee snob. We drink two types of coffee in our house Peets about ninety percent of the time, and Illy once in a great while. It is hard to find where we live. Both are amazing coffees, though I'll admit I'm partial to Peets. Having lived a block from the first Peets and spending three awesome years in the Bay area makes me love Peets.

We have two methods of making coffee in our house. The most common is the French Press. We also use an espresso machine, but ours is broken right now, so no espresso for us :( However a french press makes good coffee, and topped with a little fresh cream it is just perfect.

After I make coffee there is usually a bit left in the press. So I put that into an ice cube tray and put that in my freezer. It is great to have frozen coffee on hand for several reasons. First, who doesn't love iced or frozen coffee drinks. Second when you are making chocolate desserts they often call for things like 2 tablespoons strong coffee. And if you have ice cubes on hand, you'll have quick coffee to add to your desserts!


Doesn't that look delightful. Easy too

8 coffee ice cubes
1 c. milk (whole is best here)

Blend. Drink. Now you can add some chocolate syrup or cream or sugar to give it a bit more sweetness. But I love just the coffee and milk, where you can appreciate the flavor of the coffee and the sweetness of the milk. If you would like to add chocolate syrup, I think 1 tablespoon is a good amount. Someday I'll share my homemade syrup recipe.

The other thing I love is Orange smoothies. The bee loves them too. (And she loves the coffee smoothies, but that makes me feel like a bad mom, so not to often!) I've tried this with vanilla yogurt and kefir, and ewww both were awful. We don't have these often at my house because I very seldom even have white sugar in the house, but boy howdy do I love them.

1/2 can orange juice concentrate
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar. I do use white sugar here, because brown sugar or honey gives it a funky flavor.
8 ice cubes

Blend until smooth.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

eggs, spinach and pesto

I love pesto. My love of pesto is to the point where I will gladly eat pesto, out of a bowl with a spoon. It isn't low fat by any stretch of the imagination, but it IS very good for you! The fat used is olive oil which is a miracle fat. Not to mention that it has pine nuts in it, (or walnuts if you prefer or can't get ahold of pine nuts) which are full of vitamin E, that is good for your skin and brain. I like a mint and basil mix, but you can use all basil which is delightful too. I usually plant a mint plant when I move in somewhere, and it grows like crazy, so this is a good way to use mint. But if you want pure basil pesto, just omit the mint and double the basil. A pure mint pesto is, intense, but very good on lamb also.

Basic Pesto:
1. cup basil
1. cup mint
1/2 c. parmesian (do not use the stuff from the green can, use real cheese!)
1/3 c. pine nuts toasted
2 cloves garlic (optional, I'm not a huge fan)
pepper to taste
apx 1/3 to 1/2 c. olive oil.

Okay the method is easy. First toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet over med high heat. Stir frequently, and watch VERY carefully as pine nuts will go from toasted to burnt in just a moment. And those things are expensive. Be careful!

Throw everything but the olive oil into your food processor and blend it up until it is like a grainy paste. Then with your food processor on, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. The final product should be a little thick and should hold the olive oil in, and not leach it out.

Pesto is SO versitle. Toss it with some pasta and chicken and you have a great dinner. Mix it with some mayo and spread it on a sandwich. It is just wonderful

But I like it for breakfast. I saute two cups of spinach with 1/2 of a small onion in some coconut oil or butter. Then fry an egg to over easy and put that on top of the spinach mix. Serve with a couple of tomato slices.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our overall food philiosophy

I used to weigh over three hundred lbs. Yesterday I tipped the scales at 201, which isn't okay with me. So back on my exercise plan. I hate to exercise. I'll never be a size six, but thats okay with me. I just want to maintain health! I will NOT become diabetic again!

Okay, back on topic. I grew up on the Standard American Diet. My mom claims that she cooked for me, but about three nights a week we would have tuna and noodles. Boil a bag of egg noodles, throw in a can of cream of mushroom soup, throw in a can of tuna. Serve. No veggies, no fruit, nothing "real" except the tuna. Its no wonder that I was 310 lbs at 23 years old. I grew up eating like that, nothing fresh, all fake foods. I was even a pepsi drinker from a young age. My mom did breastfeed me for a few years, but that was all jacked up anyways, so it wasn't really the foundation of a healthy diet.

I realized that I had to change my eating habits, and I have to raise my children with better nutritional foundations that I had. I can't do to my kids, what was done to me and have them spending their twenties floundering around looking for what a healthy diet is.

Here is the basics of what we do and don't do in our home now, what I think is the healthiest diet.

Whole foods. I try to have fresh veggies and fruit at every meal. The only veggies that I don't serve cooked from either a fresh or frozen state are green beans and sometimes tomatoes. Perhaps it is my Italian mushy veggie background, or my midwestern upbringing, but I cannot stand fresh or frozen green beans. I like them straight of out the can warmed with butter. But we do try to have these whole fruits and veggies at every meal.

Whole freshly milled grains. Grains that are milled more than 24 hours in advance of cooking and eating lose MASSIVE amounts of nutrients. The oils in them also start to go rancid after a few short days. I also want to make sure that my breads, which are also served at every meal (not always eaten, but always offered) aren't filled with weird stuff. Flour, honey, yeast, milk, water, and salt (sometimes eggs) is it. Lots of different grains too. We eat all sorts of grains from barley, to rye, to wheat, to quinoia, to spelt. I like variety. Though beans aren't a grain, they fit in this section because they combine perfectly with grains to make a complete protein. And they are just yummy. Unless they are pinto beans, then they are gross and I hate them.

Raw dairy products. I think that raw dairy is really important for humans. We drink raw milk, eat raw milk cheese, raw milk yogurt, raw milk keifer (though I haven't made any in a LONG time) However with raw dairy it is VERY important that you know and trust your farmer. Make sure they are practicing clean catch and that their animals are tested for diseases every six to twelve months. Also you want your cows to be primarily grass fed. Grass fed cows produce higher levels of good fats and lower levels of bad ones.

Free range meats. Cows that eat grass. Chickens that eat grass and worms, and the eggs that come from those chickens. Fish that is wild and swims around in the ocean eating normal foods, not penned up in a cage on the coast sucking in all the undiluted pollution and eating fake foods. I think eating meat is a very important part of a healthy diet. I also believe there are some very serious health risks associated with a vegan diets. Of course we as Americans eat far to much meat. We don't need meat with every meal, nor do we need it every day. Learning to incorporate vegetarian meals into my diet has been great!

No pork or shellfish. Actually we try and follow the biblical standards for diet, though this is a new development as I'm feeling called to be more and more Torah observant. I feel like looking at only the new testament and ignoring the old is a grave mistake. God gave us his ENTIRE word, and he never said the NT voided the OT, just that Jesus was the fulfillment of it. I think God gave those laws for a reason, and that reason was to protect our health.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Are you KIDDING ME?!

Apparently big corn is having problems because more and more people don't want to eat High Fructose corn syrup. "Its fine in moderation" they say. Well, maybe.... But HCFS is void of any nutrients aside from calories, unlike Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar and dehydrated cane juice. It is absorbed into your blood stream very quickly, and causes spikes in blood sugar.

But beyond that it is everywhere. Most Americans eat quite a bit of processed foods, and almost all processed foods have HCFS in it. So if you are eating the Standard American Diet, moderation of HCFS isn't really an option.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We went to visit a friend of ours today who lives about seventy miles east of us. This friend is who supplies us with milk, and also runs our grain co-op. They have a lovely farm, around twenty acres with cows, chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, and a defunct garden. They have five sons, all homeschooled, and like me they are passionate about healthy local "real" foods. Grinding grain and making bread is part of everyday life, just as is taking care of the farm and raising animals and food to feed their family. In the next few years they are planning on putting in fruit trees, and expanding their animals and garden.

We were talking about the bible, as they are our "brand" of Christian. Bible believing, verse by verse studying, take it literally and study at home types. Like us they have been very frustrated with the church in America as of late. This seeker friendly mega church milk only body that is all about fluff and media and pleasure, not about really digging into the word of Christ.

So we started to discuss Acts 2 a bit. In the Book of Acts Chapter 2 Jesus has just ascended to heaven, and the church is left behind. Peter gives a pretty cool sermon, then we read what the church was like in verses 42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Do we see anything like this in the American church today? I know I've seen in a few times, heard tell of a few Christian communes or deliberate Christian communities, but for the most part does this picture look like your church? Does it look like your friends, or your church family?

I see a LOT of people in the church who are taking taking taking. They are taking entertainment on sunday morning, they are taking fluffy sermons and doing nothing with them, they are taking part of their tithe and using it to fund their lifestyle.

But do we really gather together, and share everything we have? Do you see how these people EVERY DAY gathered together. They sold their possessions and gave to anyone who had needs. The church was a hippie commune! I can just see them coming together everyday, one would bring a surplus of figs from their tree, another a windfall of grain, and a third some extra oil. They would divide up their bounty with anybody who needed anything, and praise God.

Do we do that in the Christian church today? To often I see the church, myself included, giving their ten percent and not a penny more. We NEED that money you see, to pay our cable bill, or for our cell phones, or the new portable DVD player for our car.

So, the sailor and I do what we can with what we have. We don't live extravagant lifestyles, we live pretty simply. We don't have cell phones, or the newest televisions or the nicest clothes. We live a comfortable lifestyle for sure, perhaps a little to comfortable honestly. As we continually look at ourselves in an effort to make ourselves more like Jesus wants us we realize there is much we can give up in our own lives to help others.

But we have decided on a few long term goals. One is to attempt to live deliberately in a community, especially once he is out of the military. I say after that because it is very very difficult to establish community with people who are moving on in six months. There is a camaraderie for sure, but not the time it takes to develop true community.

We plan on living in an urban setting of sorts, perhaps in a smaller city, but we'll see. We want to live in the city, or a small town, not in the suburbs. We want to raise chickens, fruit and vegetables and share our bounty with those who live around us. We want to be able to practically provide food for people in need, and show the love of Christ in a tangible way. But we hope to have a body of fellow believers living the same type of lifestyle.

When I was a kid the woman across the street had a pear tree. She would let everybody from the neighborhood take their fill of those amazing heirloom pears. We canned for weeks these pears and shared our canned pears back with Mrs. Fanning. Down the street someone had plums, and another person had a huge strawberry patch in the spring. Everybody would share their bounty and because we all had a variety, we all had everything.

That's what we want in our future.

Now we just have to find, or build, our community.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tortilliaish soup.

Yeah, tortillaish isn't a word, but whatever.

I love soup. That being said I HATE vegetables. But I don't have a death wish so I eat them as often as I can stand. Being Italian I also like my veggies mushy. Unlike the crazy French who like them tender crisp, us Italians cook our veggies until they are almost mashable. Nothing I can stand worse than crisp tender green beans. Ew.

Okay, so soup gives me a great outlet to use lots of veggies and not dwell on the fact that I'm eating vegetables.

I call this soup tortillaish because it is based on Chicken Tortilla soup, but packed with veggies. I've also used firm tofu chunks and vegetable stock in place of the chicken and chicken stock before and gotten really good results!

Start with good chicken stock. I make my own as often as possible, but sometimes don't have any. I always have a couple of boxes of chicken stock in the cupboard. When you are using homemade chicken stock you ALWAYS want to make sure that it boils for a few minutes to kill off any germies that might have wormed their way in there.

I typically use about 12 cups of stock for this soup because it has lots of stuff in it.


Look at that stocky goodness. Isn't it beautiful. Ooooooooo

Okay so to the stock I add 1 large or 2 small onions,
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 bag frozen corn
2 cups salsa
3 T. cumin (I adore cumin)
2 T. chili powder
2 zucchini chunked
2 yellow squash chunked
1 T. oregano, dried is fine here
Salt and pepper to taste
whatever other veggies I have that need to be cooked

simmer for about an hour until the veggies are really tender. Serve with shredded Monterrey jack cheese, sour cream, or avocado chunks (my personal fav) Traditionally it is served with broken up tortilla chips, but I don't like this because it is hard to find good tortilla chips that aren't fried in lard, which we don't eat because it is a pork product, and I don't like the flavor of tortilla chips fried in canola or corn oil.

ETA: I just threw some a can of black beans in there cause it was looking a little thin. OH MY GOODNESS, great addition! I don't like Pinto beans, but perhaps those could work too? I wouldn't go with white beans, to creamy in texture and flavor

Friday, September 5, 2008

a word about honey

Don't give honey to children under two. Raw or pasteurized. Just don't do it. There is a botulism risk and it could be fatal.

You can find raw honey at most health food stores. If you don't have a local health food store ask around and see if anybody keeps bees that you can buy from. County fairs almost always have a honey competition and you can also contact your county extension office.

For local co-ops check out Local Harvest

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pumpkin Maple Granola

So I mentioned earlier that the cool breeze made me realize fall is actually going to come. Despite the fact that outside the heat index is 101, and inside it probably isn't all that much cooler, my house smells like cinnamon and ginger and cloves and pumpkin. I love fall and can seldom wait for fall to actually start cooking fall seasonal foods! I usually try to cook in season, but how can you resist pumpkin pie in may. I can't

4 1/2 heaping cups of rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
3/4 c chopped pecans
1 c. slivered almonds
1 pint pumpkin, or 1 can of pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
1/2 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 c. honey
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. maple extract

A few words on these ingredients. I like organic thick cut oats. It gives a little more umph to my granola. I also make sure that my pecans are raw (and in a few weeks I can start to get them local and fresh again!) Raw almonds are illegal in the U.S. now, so I just get organic almonds. Most years I have my own canned pumpkin, but I didn't put any up last fall, so I use just organic canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is an amazing invention and is just as good as fresh in my opinion. It is one of the canned foods that holds its flavor and texture beautifully when canned. We only use organic butter in our house. sometimes I make it myself, but I never cook with homemade butter cause it is just so yummy on bread. Many fats and hormones are stored in fat, so it makes sense that I would want fats that were organic. Also sea salt is good and holds minerals that table or kosher salt doesn't.


Someday I'll blog on honey and how awesome honey is. But for now I'll say this. I use raw, unfiltered, local honey. I also eat a teaspoon every day for allergies. Honey rocks. Pasteurized honey that you get from the store is useless and you may as well eat white sugar. But if you don't have access to raw local honey, go ahead and use the stuff that comes in a bear. Be warned local honey is almost always dramatically cheaper.

So the method is easy. Mix together the oats and nuts in one bowl. Mix together everything else in another bowl until it is very smooth, then pour into the oat mixture and stir until it is well mixed. Spread out into a thinnish layer on a sheet pan or two and put into a 325 degree oven. Depending on your oven and the humidity it should be done in thirty to forty five minutes. It should feel fairly dry, but not brittle.


to store, let cool completely, and then put it in a covered bowl or jar. We use plastic in our house sparingly, so i usually store everything in a mason jar.



Popcorn with curry, nutritional yeast and olive oil is really yummy.

Just thought you should know.

the nutritional yeast tastes kinda like cheese

a cool breeze

Yesterday at my friends farm picking up my grain order there was a cool breeze. Cool enough that I wanted to cover Huck's little legs with a blanket.

While this morning it is already (at 9:00 a.m.) eighty three degrees with a heat index of ninety one, I know that fall is coming. I felt that delightful breeze yesterday, almost like an answer to a prayer.

So now my granola changes from using applesauce and oil as a binder, to a spicier mixture with pumpkin and oil as a binder. I want to try and use a nut oil as a binder sometime instead of canola oil. Olive oil, well that is just nasty with granola.

I'll let you know how it goes with the new granola! Oh sweet fall, come soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I've gotten quite a few questions about my kitchen and I'll be addressing them as they add up :)

Q: Will you come be my personal chef?
A: Sure! Sounds fun!

Q: Why do you mill your own wheat?
A: Because freshly milled wheat is much healthier than any wheat you buy on the store shelves. First off even "whole grain" wheat on the store shelves is missing part of the grain that is fatty because it will go rancid if it is left out more than about three days. Also A, B, and K vitamins that are in whole grains are destroyed a couple of days after milling. But freshly milled grain tastes much better and is overall cheaper than buying whole wheat from the store. However you have to buy your grain in bulk (usually)

Q: Do you use a breadmaker
A: No, nor will I use a breadmaker. I like to kneed my bread in my kitchen aid mixer or by hand when I'm stressed. If the bee has been having a rough day we can make and kneed bread together and it will calm both of us down. Not only that but I enjoy the feeling of communion with the billions of women who came before me, spending their days kneading bread. It is almost a connection with the past and a less stressful time. I also think that bread tastes better if baked in an open oven and develops a better crust.

Q: Where do you get your wheat?
A: I get my wheat from a Georgian company called Bread Beckers I participate in a co-op and get a small discount. You can also buy whole wheat berries online in bulk at stores like whole foods and online too. Make sure if you are buying online that you are buying "triple washed" berries and know that you aren't going to be finding pebbles in your wheat.

Q: What kind of mill do you use?
A: I use a
Family grain mill. I have the hand cranked model, which works great. I can grind about seven pounds of flour in about fifteen minutes, but it is a workout! I got the attachment for my kitchen aid mixer and let my kitchen aid do the work for me, usually. It grinds a very small grind for bread, and will also grind large enough for cracked wheat for cereal. To get the best bread grind, I run the wheat through twice, once as whole berries and once as flour. I also like this mill because of the attachments you can purchase, Meat grinder, oat flaker, and slicer shredder. I'll be able to buy whole oat groats, and make oatmeal fresh for my family! I can't wait! I chose this mill over some of the more expensive models for a few reasons. First it has a hand crank option which could come in very handy should we lose power for an extended period of time. Second it has a kitchen aid attachment, and third it has some great attachments.

Q: Do you use white flour for anything
A: Not really. Whole wheat flour is much healthier for you, and does everything that white flour does, but makes bread a little denser. Yes, I love a beautiful loaf of good white bread with a crunchy loaf. I haven't perfected that with whole wheat yet, and I'm not sure I can, but I'm going to keep trying!

Q: Do you use white sugar?
A: Once in a while. I do have some in the house, unlike white flour, but I don't use it for much anymore. I use Honey most of the time with dehydrated cane juice coming in second. I'll also use maple syrup and agave nectar to sweeten too. I'll make a full post about this eventually.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stale bread

I frequently have stale bread in my house as I try to make bread fresh almost every day. There are a few things that I regularly do with my bread, bread crumbs and Panzanella (which I did make today also and will blog about later) and every once in a while I'll make a strata.

I adore strata. A few years ago, a few months before we found out about the bee, the sailor and I went to Tahoe to go skiing. We stayed at this cute bed and breakfast that was run by a ski bum looking for work that would leave him plenty of ski time, and he came up with this strata. While The recipe isn't exactly his, it is a recreation of what he cooked. I've got one very important change, and that is the bread that I use as well as the sweetener. I only use freshly milled whole wheat bread, and honey as a sweetener in this dish and it is delightful

First you want your bread cut into bite sized cubes, and make sure the bread is stale, but not super hard. If you don't have stale bread you can cut your bread up the night before and leave it on a tray on your counter and you'll have stale bread cubes in the morning. Then you need to make a custard base.

Custard is quite possibly the most perfect food ever, and so very versatile. I usually have enough bread to fill a two quart casserole dish, so it usually takes about three large eggs, which usually equals around 3/4 of a cup of eggs. Mix that very will with 3/4 of a cup of milk. then soak your bread until all the custard is absorbed in the bread. If there is any dry or hard bread left, add more custard mix of equal parts of egg and whole milk. You want to make sure your bread is wholly saturated with the custard mixture.

I also sweeten this with honey, usually about 1/3 of a cup of raw wildflower or raw tupelo honey. Tupelo honey is delicious but hard to get outside of the Florida panhandle. It never crystallizes which is kinda nice. The reason I use honey is because it is much healthier for you than white or brown sugar, both of which we almost never use in our home. Though there is nothing in the world that will stand in for white sugar on creme brulee

Okay so you have your sweetened custardy bread and it is looking delightful in a bowl. Then you add a bag of frozen blueberries. I use frozen unthawed blueberries because you can find them year round, they are harvested right as they are ripe, and almost always taste better than the crappy berries you can find in the store fresh, plus they are usually cheaper!

Then add a weird ingredient, but it works so well. Shredded or chunked swiss cheese. Yup, swiss cheese. The kind with the holes and a slightly sweetly sour bite. Aged swiss is best. Today I used Jarlsburg because that is what I had on hand.


Mix it up, and bake in a 2 qt casserole pan on 350 for about 1 hour. Then remove the cover and let the top get all crispy and bubbly. It will rise when it is in the oven and puff up. Serve with vanilla yogurt or heavy cream. Also yummy with some maple syrup.