Simple [Sim-puhl]

Simple [Sim-puhl]
1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.
2. not elaborate or artificial; plain
3. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned

Sunday, June 7, 2015

'Waste Not, Want Not'

Sometimes we end up with more milk than we can use up before it expires. When that happens it's always good to have a recipe or two on hand to use up that milk in a hurry. Sometimes yogurt will do the trick and other times I make pudding.
Last night I tried a new recipe for rice pudding, something we don't eat very often in this home, and I just had to tweak it a bit to match the ingredients I had on hand. The original recipe is from The Humble Kitchen of Diana.

Rice Pudding with Flare

1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
1 Cup Arborio Rice or Calrose Short Grain
1/2 Cup Honey
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
3 Eggs
Zest of one Orange
1/4 tsp Salt
Ground Cinnamon and Quartered Strawberries to garnish

Heat milk with rice and honey to a simmer and cover, stir every 5-8 minutes until rice is tender, about and hour.
Mix cream, eggs, zest, and salt in a liquid measure and add to tender rice. Bring mixture back to simmer and stir intermittently for five minutes.
Take of of heat. 
Two options; serve immediately dusted with cinnamon and topped with quartered strawberries (my preference), or cool and refrigerate to eat cold the next day.
There are lots of possibilities here. The original recipe called for lemon zest and I bet blueberries or raspberries would make an excellent topping there. You could leave out the zest and add chopped chocolate, or vanilla extract. Go wild!
Simple recipes are my favorite! I did have a major boil over last night but the pudding tasted just as good. It is very lightly sweetened and I can appreciate that, but if it's not to your liking just add a little honey a Tbsp at a time until you are satisfied with the sweetness. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fried Apple Biscuits

I got this idea from Joy the Baker, but this is my own recipe, and it's delicious if I do say so myself. They make a great to-go breakfast or snack (these would even be great as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream..maybe some syrupy strawberries on top...Mmm strawberries.), and one can whip them up in about 30 minutes and do the dishes and all.
When I found the idea on Joy's baking boot camp series, I immediately was reminded of the fried apples and biscuits my momma used to make for breakfast-sooo yummy. She made big fluffy biscuits and a pan full of buttery sticky cinnamon apples, so I thought of coarse bake them together, why didn't I think of that myself! Today I whipped these up without even looking at a recipe, and therefore I am now recording the recipe for you and me. (Disclosure: I have a Betty Crocker recipe for biscuits memorized so I can easily adapt it for whatever I'm making be it dumplings, cinnamon rolls, cobbler, or biscuits!)
Fried Apple Biscuits
2 cups Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Coconut Oil, solid
3/4 cup Milk or Water
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in coconut oil. After apples are made, stir in the milk or water pat together into a ball and set on a floured surface. Roll dough out into a large rectangle, pour fried apples (recipe below) onto one half, careful to leave an inch uncovered around the edges. Flatten and distribute apples as desired. Pull other half of the dough rectangle over the apples and pinch the edges closed and reshape the now smaller dough rectangle with the outside edges of your hands. Feel free to " be the boss", as Joy says. You can pat, squish, even carefully pick up and reposition the dough. 
When  you're happy with the thickness and shape, cut into 12 small squares, three length cuts and four width cuts. Position an inch apart on a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 12 minutes. At least that how hot and how long it bakes where I live.
Fried Apples
1 large or two small organic Braeburn Apples (Golden Delicious work well here too)
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Honey
Pinch of Salt
A couple good shakes of Cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp) I don't like too much cinnamon in stuff
In an 8" skillet, melt butter, add cored and somewhat thinly sliced apples, salt, honey and cinnamon. Simmer apples stirring and flipping a few times until fork tender. Keep in mind they will cook a bit more during baking and we don't want them mushy, so a little crispness is ok.
Now, you can make the biscuits and apples separately and just pull a biscuit apart slather with butter ladle the apples over and drizzle with more honey like we did when I was a kid. In fact I highly recommend it! But, I like them this way too for a more hands on consuming situation. For example, toddlers can enjoy them a bit easier this way without the mess.
 Just a thought, why not try different fruit fillings like strawberries, peaches, pears or plums, even savory with cheese in the middle, herbs added to dough, marinara sauce for pizza bites, so many possibilities! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Real Food Journey; Starting Line

On your marks!
-Grass-fed meat animals and Gelatin, Pasture-raised Dairy Products/Raw when available, Fresh non-GMO produce as pesticides-free as possible, Soaked Grains, Nuts, and Legumes, avoid artificial colorings and preservatives as much as possible, eat only natural sugars in the and eat that liver now and then.
Get set!
-Find markets to shop that carry affordable foods as discribed above, learn to cook said foods, organize a schedule for preparing those foods, purge any foods that don't meet said standards, construct a support system to fall back on when opposition piques.
-This is not a race. But when I really started studying the "Real Food Diet," I raced to meet it. I read and studied and weighed out evidence, testimonials, facts. More and more information and first-hand experiences found me, and as I studied and learned, I was astonished by how familiar, logical, and we'll-grounded it all was. This is nothing new to me! My body and mind already knows all this stuff, the problem is, I had forgotten. The more fast-food, prepackaged cookies, chips, candy, cold cerial and low-fat dairy I ate, the more I had forgotten.
I had forgotten what my body was supposed to feel like! After only two days, eating soaked whole wheat blueberry muffins, Southern Goulash using grass-fed ground beef with steamed buttered beet tops on the side, homemade soaked whole wheat bread, roasted chicken, asparagas Mashed Potatoes gravy and pan-fried chicken liver and onions, I feel fifteen years younger. I have also been wearing homemade deodorant and using homemade cosmetics, and my skin is more vibrant, and bright than it's been in years. I am a believer! It's clear to me now, all those packaged cookies, crackers, canned soups, not to mention packaged multigrain breads, hamburgers, burritos, non-organic apples, nutriant-lacking eggs and over-sugared yogurts. They were all compromises for the real food I hadn't made, and it has made me sick. Not specifically sick, not yet I hope. But, generally sick, lack of interest in most things, lack of energy, overly-horomonal, easily taking offense, achy muscles, joint pains, lack of motivation... Sound familiar?
Today I took a walk with my son and was shocked at all I had been missing on our previous walks. The colors, smells, sounds had all been easily over-looked were vibrant and exciting to me now!

I had forgotten how good real food tastes. I though whole wheat muffins were dense and bitter and coarse. Soaking grains really works! The whole wheat becomes softer, lighter and has a richer flavor. It satisfies my hunger much better and fuels my day longer. I feel stronger and I can feel my muscles perk up as if to say, "step off fat, this bear is awake!" I had always soaked dry beans over night so I can't say I have seen much of a difference there except when I add them to dishes where I would normally use canned beans, I can definitely tell a difference, my body feels more nutritionally fed, and alive.
Grass-fed Beef tastes so much better, I can't really explain it accept it tastes more like meat, and it's more satisfying. Pastured eggs are richer, raw milk is more fresh and just tastes better- I didn't ever enjoy pasteurized milk even before.
Eating more fresh and frozen vegetables just feels right. When I go shopping I tell myself, just say no to the can and the box, they only save a few minutes anyway and leave me feeling nutritionally deprived.
We need nutrition! Not just stuff to call food and put in our stomaches! In order for our bodies to function well so we can enjoy life we need a good quality fuel to run on just like a car does. We will get better mileage, need fewer repairs, and just have a more pleasant journey if we do. My dad told me when I was leaving for college, "now take good care of your car and it will take good care of you." Same goes for most things. I really can't afford to not get a regular oil change, or my tires rotated and aired up. How about a little grass-fed liver now and then? It doesn't taste so bad when it's prepared correctly. Then again, who can notice an unusual texture when the body is giving such a rockus standing ovation with every bite? (Really, I could feel my body cheering me on!) When I'm craving something and don't know why I believe my body not the ever-changing theories about diet. Every time I went to the grocery store I eyed the frozen liver. It was a special at a restaurant I went to but my husband would recite it was bad for me. Finally last night as I was preparing our roast chicken, I began to salivate as I pulled out, and rinsed the liver. You don't have to be a hippie to know when your body needs nutrition. As soon as I put the chicken in the oven I set to cooking liver and onions the way my grandmother had taught my mother.

Good Liver and Onions
Mix flour with some salt and pepper (I now know sprouted whole wheat flour is the best choice.) Dredge the rinsed liver in flour mixture. Melt a good amout of butter in a pan when hot drop breaded liver in and let it sear on medium heat. Slice onions and sprinkle on top. Then flip the whole mess over, pour in water and cover until cooked done. Be sure to get all that delicious butter (or ghee) poured over top the liver and onions to serve. Let sit to cool and soften, then enjoy.
If cooking calf liver use a cup of water to steam. I used a quarter cup for the chicken liver. Don't be tempted to peak in and let all the steam out before it starts sizzling either.
Enjoy a nutrient dense meal! Your body will thank you/reward you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Homemade Deodorant

When I was a teenager and started wearing deodorant and antiperspirant, I never gave it a second thought. The shear humiliation of ever smelling gross or having a wet mark on my shirt was enough for me to not even question the social mandate. I had some difficulty acclimating to wearing deodorant, I tried several brands and found they made my underarms feel dry, itchy, and sometimes irritated.
One summer, I ran out of deodorant and couldn't buy more just then. I was very distraught. My dad told me to just pat some baking soda on. I was skeptical but after some convincing I gave it a shot. It worked for a few hours and I just kept applying it when I thought I needed it. Soon, it just wasn't working, so my mom suggested I add cornstarch to help absorb moisture. Once she convinced me, I found it worked better than before. But the next problem was icky lumps of my "natural deodorant" on my skin and clothes. So I tried rubbing it in better instead of patting it on like my parents had instructed. The next day my underarms stung when I perspired, since a was a strong girl I silently bore it. Soon I found my skin was slouphing off my under arms. And I didn't know what to do so I tearfully told my parents what had happened. I think my mother applied aloe to my underarms as she tried to comfort me and show me where I went wrong.
After that I decided it was easier to put up with itchy dry pits than to struggle with natural deodorant anymore.
So, fast forward over a decade. I get married and become pregnant and find out the many chemicals in bath and beauty and cleaning products can be harmful to babies, so I begin searching online for natural alternatives. I soon found on many blogs and websites several recipes and testimonials for homemade deodorant. Experienced as I had been I was very cautious and instead paid extra for "natural deodorant" for a while, but they don't work very well, and I found I couldn't really afford it.
My father suffered from Alzheimer's and passed away. All through the last year's of his life as I watched him struggle, I kept silently wondering to myself, what if he hadn't used commercial deodorant? Would such a small thing have made any difference?
So I decided I would rather try making my own again than to risk loosing anyone else over something so seemingly insignificant if it could even possibly make all the difference! I would find something that worked and I would share it with all my family and friends.
So here it is, I use:
Coconut Deodorant the
1/4 Cup Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Arrowroot Powder
6+ Tbsp Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil
Stir to a smooth thick and soft even consistancy.
I've been using this exclusively for over three months and it works all day great!
No painful peeling. It's safe!
I put mine in a jar and just scoop a pea-size amount out with a clean finger and gently smooth it on my underarm right after I put in my contacts each morning. It melts and absorbs into my skin beautifully. No itchyness or chemically smells either, I actually enjoy the smell of coconut but if you don't you can always add a couple drops of an appropriate essential oil to your batch of deodorant.
This lasts several months for me.
Okay so my husband doesn't want to apply it with his hands because he doesn't want it on his hands when he's done and he doesn't want to have to wash his hands an extra time, so I cleaned out and filled this deodorant container for him. It will get melty when the weather heats up but I decided I don't mind keeping it in the fridge and fetching it for him each day if it has a chance of saving his health.
(I do realize that natural deodorant may not be a life and death element in our daily routines. But, I also know that little things can make a big difference too, and added up just might be able to save a person's quality of life even for just a little longer.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

When Aunt Flo Comes To Visit

I have been kicking around whether or not to write a post about this for years now. After all, I squirm in my seat a little whenever a tampon commercial comes on as I watch a TV program. It is an extremely personal subject, one that is not mixed company appropriate, so I ask please, "All men, read no further! Leave the room for this doesn't concern you! Have some respect for the mysteries of womanhood!"
... Are they gone?.... Good.

Ok Ladies, there is something I never heard of, or felt any curiosity about until my late twenties. It's a shame, because that means for over a decade of my life once a month I felt anxious, burdened, even plagued by my "Monthly Gift."
I wondered when exactly it would spring forth, endured the humiliation of buying paraphernalia, stressed over whether I would have enough or have to buy more, and if I would have enough money, endured leaks and scrubbing out stains. I bore through TSS, and wondered if pads were noticeable through my pants when I walked, wondered if it could be smelled when I went out, I suffered rash from trapped moisture, and depression.
Ok TMI? I'm just trying to illustrate what horrors some, if not all, women endure on a monthly basis of which they have no control over or choice in. At least that's what I thought until I met the menstrual cup.
At first thought you may cry out in disgust, "Eeww!" After all, it is more hands on than the regularly advertised methods of menstrual care. But, when you think about it/actually try it, it's no worse than anything else we've had to deal with. In fact, I prefer a more hands on approach. It's no worse than cleaning the house or changing a diaper. C'mon! We like men to treat us like we're fragile sometimes, but we are actually strong, resilient, and pretty tough.
For the first time in my life I'm feeling in control of my menstrual week! There are no toxins to make me headachy and sick, there are no repeated shopping trips, there's no hiding byproducts when I go visiting, no worry of how I look, no trapped moisture on car rides, no dipression or embarrassment, no counting hours, no heavy leaks or scrubbing out stains! I'm a new woman! And, I want to encourage others to take control and not have to endure any more than you really have to. My cup of choice was the Diva Cup and you can read all about how it works here. You can also buy it online and avoid any awkward cashier moments! Hooray for one less thing to worry about!
P.S. Lets keep it a mystery between us. Men just don't need to know (or want to know) what's saving them money each month ;).

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Real Challenge of Motherhood

Through all my research and preparation before my son was born, I somehow never clued in to the real challenge of motherhood. I am not talking about long sleepless nights, soreness, bleeding, or piles of laundry and dishes waiting for a spare moment.
I am referring to the mommy wars of coarse. You know, the women who think they could better mother your child than you can. Some aren't even mothers themselves yet, and the ones who are mother's who, one would think they would be supportive, plague me with their own guilt/paranoia/judgements! They were a new mother once too, they should know better! We all have our own worries!
...Sigh, I was not prepared for all the negativity. I naively thought we mothers were on the same team!
So if you are a new mother, and like me you hear comments that say outright or imply, "You don't know what your doing; I would make a better mother than you. You're a terrible mother." or,"You haven't dressed your child warm enough, why aren't you feeding your child 'such an such? He/She has you wrapped around his/her little finger." Don't be discouraged! Feel empowered that you have a clean slate to do this parenting thing the way that is perfect for you and your own family.
These women, and sometimes men, don't see you researching every little pout, or the shade of the most recent poop, or the panic you feel when you check your baby's temperature while he/she sleeps just to make sure he/she isn't overheating or cold. They can't possibly imagine the depth of love and care you have for your child and all the effort you make for your precious little one. What they see is a different approach than they had, or think they will, use. We all want to feel like we have the right answer. Just because you are doing things differently than someone else would or has, does not mean your method is wrong.
No one knows your child like you do. Some people may think they know all there is to know about child-rearing and infant-training. They may offer you advice and experience according to what they observe, or don't observe, in the limited contact they have with you and your child. But, the fact remains, this is your child. No one knows your baby as well as you do! Listen to your mother's instinct. Let these well-meaning people have their say, smile and nod as they reminisce about their own experience, make consideration for their concerns even. Then do what feels right in your own heart and gut for your own child. Any dismay or disapproval that person may feel if you don't follow their council, is worth doing what's right for your own baby's welfare. The grown ups will get over it.
Feel glad that these people, who may seem a nuisance at times, love and care about your baby too. So much so, they may forget at times that you have a greater love for your child than they could possibly imagine, and they are willing to occasionally risk offending you! It can be a positive experience depending on how you look at it.
In the end, feel confident in yourself to know what is best for your own sweet baby. You created and carried that child inside your own body. You felt the reactions of that little person in your belly; and after the tramatic experience known as birth, you have watched that little person react, learn, develop and grow more than anyone else during his/her entire life. You have been through a lot together! Not to mention, God sends YOU inspiration for that child's well-being! Your mother's intuition is customed to your specific child, not a percentile and not a family average! 
You are the mother, and Mama knows best! When you need help, you are the one to ask whom, what and when. You are the one who works with the specialists to find out what works for your specific child if necessary. 
Work hard and trust your feelings as a mother, because Heavenly Father trusts you to be the mother your baby needs. That should be good enough for anybody.
PS- That person who says your baby looks like so'n'so, or such'n'such, doesn't know what they're talking about! Babies grow and their features change daily. You and your spouse are probably the only people who can see what your baby's consistent features are.
 "All babies are the Sweetest and the Best."-Marrilla from Anne of Avonlea.