Tuesday, May 17
Before I get into the results and experience, I should ante up on the caveats and errata from the peanut gallery:
Intentional Alterations, based on philosophy:
* We eat sausage and other preserved meats that have nitrites in them. That's a personal decision. Neither Zorak nor I are convinced either of the claims of harm, nor of the levels of concern. Even when we make our own sausage at home, we use cure with nitrite. I'm not out to evangelize anyone to that particular point of view, nor am I open to being evangelized against them. I'm just being upfront about how our plan differed from that suggested by the Whole 30 plan.
* Raw milk. I kept that as an option for the occasional treat. Again, a personal decision. While I am convinced of the detriments of homogenization, and would forgo dairy completely were that the only alternative available, I've seen no evidence that suggests raw dairy is in any way inflammatory or detrimental to the gut. The Paleo crowd does seem to blow off dairy on the argument that Grok wouldn't have had it, and so neither should we. However, the science and the history both bear out that raw and fermented dairy have been staples of the human diet for as far back as the domestication of livestock, with fantastic results. So. The raw milk stayed, for us. As did the fresh butter, although that was reserved only for the things that really must be sauteed in butter. Arbitrary, perhaps. But tasty and, as I said, it was a non-negotiable for me.
(Note, if we were battling a degenerative disease, or if there were a life-threatening situation which caused us to seek this detox, I will admit that we may have been more strict with regard to the dairy. I probably won't know unless I'm faced with that choice. Your mileage may vary.)
Two Supremely Unjustifiable Errors:
* Alcohol. Gah. This one is entirely on me. I'd signed up for a Wine 101 class that I've been trying to get into since the beginning of February. I finally got in, although I got the slot before we started the Whole 30. The evening was slated for about 3/4 of the way through our 30. The stars aligned, and I had the opportunity for a date night with my honey. I hung my head in shame for a moment, then grabbed my coat and went. We probably consumed half a glass of wine, total. Still, it was all-carby, with zero nutritional value. The evening spent with my husband and the wonderful folks at the class, however, was fantastic. Again, had we been doing this for a high-stakes situation, we'd have passed. But I can't even really justify it or claim it didn't have an impact on the results. I'm fairly sure it did.
* A s'more. We went camping. James picked up toasted coconut marshmallows and a caramel bar for his s'mores. I wanted one. I had it. About the only good thing with regard to this is that I decided days ahead that I would do it, not feel guilty about it, and not decide that I'd fallen off the horse forever because of it. I was able to have that one and enjoy it and move on. No justification, but I did want to be honest.
And, that's it. Other than those exceptions, we've eaten "clean" for a month. This included a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout.
What we noticed:
* Improved rest at night. Less flailing (the elbow of death has not hit me once during the night), deeper sleep, and more rejuvenating sleep.
* Improved digestion and less bloating.
* For the girly folk, the various female issues were much decreased during this cycle.
* No mid-day slump. This has been my *favorite* perk. Absolute, hands-down, favorite. It feels SO good to be functional all day long. Zorak also reported that he's been more alert and had a steady stream of energy at work, without the 2PM slump that always hit him in the past.
* Clearer complexion. This one's probably a close second. I hate having acne in the wrinkles. Nobody warned me about that. Now, I just have the wrinkles. The acne has cleared significantly, and overall skin tone seems improved.
* Tone - overall body tone. We did not add in additional exercises - Zorak, because he hadn't received the all-clear from the surgeon yet, and I, because I'm essentially lazy and didn't want to. However, we've both seen a visible, measurable, tangible, no-kidding improvement in body tone.
* Weight stability. In our cases, it was loss, but from what I've read, I suspect that someone who needed to gain weight would do so on this plan. The body seems to seek out its own balance when we're not busy tweaking our bodies with insulin spikes and crashes.
If you are considering this at all, my advice would be to do it. Just jump in and run with it. It's only 30 days. There is support, and there are resources available. The results you'll see - and I am firmly convinced you will see them - are worth it. There are so many Whole 30 friendly recipes out there. It takes a bit of planning, to have something on hand when you get ready to eat. But not much more than it takes to keep a household fed, anyway. It's not hard, but it is worth it.
Kiss those babies!
Sunday, May 15
Whole 30, a 30-day food challenge. It's been fun. It's been fantastic, actually. I can write more about it, if anyone is interested (although there are far better, more diligent bloggers out there who have documented every single day of it - we had a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout thrown in there during our project, both of which shot the blogging to pieces.) And I can attest that we've experienced definite improvement in many areas because of it. But anyway, this is an example of how we've been eating, and it's. been. delightful.
Wednesday, February 16
First thing: Our Pastor's wife is a saint. I know, that sounds cliche, doesn't it? But no, she really truly is amazing. Any woman who doesn't even *blink* before offering to triple the number of children in her home all day long when you need emergency child care? Made of some fantastic combination of angel dust and titanium.
Second thing: *argh* Zorak's final, official, really-real diagnosis is a torn ligament in the rotator cuff *and* a broken bone. He's more than a little freaked out by the sheer math involved in the odds. (I'm still weirded out that he was wielding a chain saw just this past weekend...) End result? Surgery, and a minimum 3 months of physical therapy. End goal? 100% recovery. Could be worse. Could be much worse. We'll have our minds wrapped around it shortly. I hope.
Third... oh, lunch at Logan's Roadhouse. I cannot believe we've lived here nearly six years and hadn't eaten there, yet. Oh, but we will go back. Yes, we will. We might even take the children. AND they have a gluten-free menu, too, which I thought was pretty awesome business sense.
And now, good night!
Kiss those babies!
Thursday, December 20
And just when I was feeling quite together and such, Smidge brought me this lovely package of little gift bags and asked what they were for. "OH, those are for Daddy to take candies to his co-workers." Pause. Insert internal dialogue:
Uh... tomorrow's Friday. And then, it's Christmas. He won't see these people after tomorrow. I haven't made candy! When was I going to make candy? Why didn't I? Oh, yeah, I was sick. Nuts. Well, they'll probably appreciate that I didn't make candy *while* I was sick. Or, they would if they knew why there's no candy. Oh. Well.
There goes the General Sensation of Togetherness, as you can see. And so, that brings us up to date. :-) Yay. Putting Em down right now, and then I'm going to turn the boys loose to decorate the cupcake Christmas trees we attempted to make the other day.
What? I didn't mention those? Yeah. Probably because they didn't work so well. The cones we used collapsed. It'll take a month to burn off all the overspill in the oven. Then we tried making foil cones to hold the batter. Those weren't horribly stiff, and didn't want to hold your basic cone-shape. It was difficult to get the trees out from all the folds and creases. But they did come out. Mostly. We have a theme, at least: A Chernobyl Christmas.
Thankfully, the kids are all about the icing, which I'm not going to tell you about, either. So, thankfully-thankfully, the kids don't have terribly high standards and are just happy to be decorating what I claim are trees with what they know is a sugar-based substance. See? It's all good. No need for holiday stress, at all, if you're simply willing to
Yeah. Good stuff, really. Even when our tea cart is decorated with what looks suspiciously like an acid-rain forest, and Zorak has to hand out empty gift bags tomorrow. How did I get so lucky to have such an awesome family? Really. Good, good stuff.
Kiss those babies!
Wednesday, June 20
As you can see, it ends up looking better than it starts out. We were too impatient to wait for the crust to cool completely before adding the toppings. This was so easy to make, and the boys enjoyed both the making and the eating.
The crust recipes I found in my searches were, of course, all useless for a wheat-free crust (pre-made pie crust, cookie dough, etc.), so we used the Breakfast Foccacia recipe in The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. This recipe also makes a delightful danish!
The "sauce" is actually the cheese - equal parts cream cheese and whipped cream, beaten until smooth.
Top with your favorite fruits. In this case, I went with canned fruit - pineapples, mandarin oranges, and triple cherry fruit cocktail. This is the one and only time my children have willingly eaten fruit cocktail. (Our Wonderful Neighbors in MD would be so proud! *sniff* *sniff*) The oranges didn't make it onto the pizza. We fell to temptation. So good!
And in going with the whole cheese-as-sauce, sauce-as-cheese theme, the final product got drizzled with your basic, cooked, sugar-water-oj-vanilla sauce. There's some left over. We may have to make doughnuts tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 29
Yeah, that's not a Pittsburgh accent. We're still working on the speech thing. And pronoun mutilation aside, why throw a "w" in where it's more difficult to pronounce? I can't even say "Sally" with a "w". But Smidge seems to think it's just gotta be in there. And he loves his Aunt Salwey. So who am I to argue with a stray consonant? It's good to be loved.
We got back to the grind today. I'd have thought it was simply "the routine", but according to James, when Zorak asked if they did school today, it was much, much worse. "Oh, yeah! We did school. We did a whole lot of school." Huh. I didn't think it was *that* bad, but I, evidently, am not an expert.
We also made KathyJo's "muffins". (You know, in an attempt to lessen the severity of the torture of today's lessons.) I can't even say with a straight face that they're muffins. Iced muffins? No. I don't care what she tells you, those 'er c-u-p-c-a-k-e-s, if they're anything this side of haggis. Trust me. Make them. Wallow in them. Roll around in them and get them in your hair. They're to. die. for. I'm going to try to make a "pan muffin" (*snort* ok, a cake) out of them later this week. Ironically, with the bean flours (because no, I haven't been out to buy more grains yet lately, so they aren't quinoa, but who's keeping track?) they've still got more protein and fiber than colon-binding-whole-wheat, full-fiber-assault-bran muffins. So really, what's a few sprinkles and icing among family, right?
And just to show you how incredibly dull (well, dull aside from the muffin ecstasty of mid-morning - after that, it pretty much went downhill) our day was, the big super-exciting highlight of the whole. entire. day. is that Zorak brought home a sample of a store-bought, gluten-free, profesionally decorated cake tonight. We found the place a while ago, and thought that if the cakes were good, we'd get one of those for the team party. He stopped in today and she gave him a sample to bring home. Huge excitement, there, yes, over a slice of cake smaller than a stumpy cupcake. But we all tried a bite and John got to lick the plate. Survey says: Mom's is better. Ok, ok, I shouldn't be quite so tickled with that. I really shouldn't. I know. But still... *hee hee* They like my stuff! The thousands of dollars we've put into gummy, lumpy failed experiments paid off tonight, when they led the clan to say that my cakes were better than a pro's. *contented sigh* I tried a bite, and it was pretty good. The icing was scrumptious, and everything she makes is made from scratch. She (she, being "the cake lady") just hasn't quite mastered "cake" texture yet, so it was like a two-layer brownie with mocha icing. Seriously, who's going to complain about that? Yeah. It was good. (But they like my cakes better.)
Oh, oh, oh. I almost forgot. I was supposed to call my new dentist today because 1) I couldn't remember when my appt. is for setting the new crown, and 2) I popped the temporary crown off on the flight TO New Mexico and figured I ought to at least let them know about that. Well, they beat me to it when the gal at the front desk called this morning to remind me about my appointment tomorrow afternoon (egads, better find someone to watch the kids, quick!) to set the crown. So I filled her in, let her know that I'd popped the temp., and asked if that was going to be a problem. She's so sweet, but the conversation gave me many random chuckles throughout the day.
Nice Office Girl: Do you still have it?
Me: Do you need it?
Nice Office Girl: Is it in now?
Me: Huh? No. It's somewhere... in the diaper bag.
Nice Office Girl: Did you try to put it back on?
Me: *choking on my coffee* What?
Nice Office Girl: Did you try to put it back on with anything?
Me: Um... no?
Nice Office Girl: You know, like with toothpaste or something to hold it on?
Me: (*internally* Uh, your professional-grade two-ton epoxy didn't work, what would make me think a little Tom's would do the trick?) *aloud, I said* Um... what?
Nice Office Girl: *long, awkward pause* So... you didn't put it back on?
Me: *chuckle* No. I didn't put it back on.
Nice Office Girl: Well, you could try that.
Me: *long, awkward pause* Aren't I coming in tomorrow for the permanent crown?
Nice Office Girl: Yes, that's why I called.
*pause for the connection to be made*
*connection is never made*
Me: Ok, well, we'll, uh, thanks for the reminder call. I'll see ya tomorrow, then. Have a good one.
Nice Office Girl: You, too, Mrs. Dy. See you tomorrow.
Did I miss something, there? I mean, I don't know what the ramifications are of not having a temporary crown ON the tooth. But it's smooth, sealed, and doesn't hurt. And really, toothpaste? For a ten-day trip? Biting down on one of those things the first time it pops off is bad enough. Can you imagine setting yourself up for it every. time. you ate? And I'm still not entirely clear why she thought I ought to put it on today, but she didn't think it was a good idea to fill me in, so hopefully it's not that important. I'm going to feel pretty goofy if I get in tomorrow and they tell me the bone structure in my entire lower jaw will have to be rebuilt because I didn't have the temporary crown all this time. Oops.
Anyway, dishwasher's running, house is quiet. I'm going to finish this pot off, blogrun a bit, and head to bed. Hopefully we'll find our groove again soon and I can spend more time on the creative and technological side of blogging for a while. (As opposed to the Spartan, only-blogging-to-be-blogging side of it, right?)
Kiss those babies!
Tuesday, May 15
It works! It's officially been deemed by even the non-wf folks in the household to be "The Best Pancakes Ever And Can We Eat These Several Times A Week". So, having passed the Flavor Board (ha ha - little wf inside joke, there - board, cardboard, lumber... *ahem* yeah...) Here ya go!
(*edited to add: I got this from someone who got it from somebody else who'd shared it on a forum. Today I heard it's originally from a Sue Gregg cookbook. So. Due credit. The recipe is hers. The comments from the peanut gallery are mine. :-)*)
Brown Rice Pancakes
Before you go to bed, pour into a blender:
1 1/2 C. UNcooked brown rice (yeah, I know, weird)
1 1/2 C. buttermilk (or regular milk with about a Tablespoon of vinegar)
2 Tbsp. oil (veggie, flax, whatever)
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend on HIGH for 3 minutes. Go to bed and try not to fret over ingesting dairy that's been left out all night.
In the morning, add:
Blend for 1 minute.
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
Blend just enough to get it mixed in well. Then cook like you would normal pancakes. (Listen to me - "normal". OK, fine, pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle. Flip them when the top is covered in bubbles, and then they're done when the bottom is browned nicely. There, more specific detail.)
I haven't tried these with the coconut milk, but have to say that coconut milk and a banana thrown in would probably be delicious!
They do work okay with rice milk, as well. (If anybody tries any other substitutions, as always, please leave a comment and share the wisdom you've gained. The wheat-free label works best when y'all don't just have to rely on what we've pulled off, ya know.)
Kiss those babies!
Wednesday, May 2
Anyway, I have no idea what to call these things, and the only things popping into my head are cheesy 1960's-era names like "Heavenly Squash Cakes" or "One Potato, Two Potato, Three..." well, ew. That's just where I give up. (And this would probably be a good time to remind you all to visit the Gallery of Regrettable Foods! If you haven't been before, you'll laugh until you embarrass yourself or your loved ones. If you haven't been in a while, well, nothing like a little Broiled Yeti... yeah, to get you through the arsenic hour! *note: not for the children, the squeamish, or the prim*)
However, this recipe is a wholly G-rated, family affair. EmBaby has eaten two already, and supper's not even on the table.
Here, try them:
-Pre-heat your griddle to... oh, let's go with Hot.
-Make the two-serving size of instant mashed potatoes. (Or make two servings of regular mashed potatoes. I won't tell if you won't.)
-Shred one yellow squash and one zucchini (use the carrot shredder)
-Sautee (brown, whatever, I'm not finicky) half an onion and one clove of garlic (squished or pressed - however you break it up is fine) just until softened
Dump the potatoes and the squashes into a big bowl. Crack an egg into that, and blend. Add the onions and seasoning to taste. Blend well.
The mixture will be a bit thin for cooking at this point. Throw in some flour. I used bean flour. You can use whatever you'd normally use. (Why do I even bother with writing down recipes? I know.) About a quarter to half a cup, depending on how much moisture your squashes had in them. It'll be about the consistency of pancake batter when it's right. Lumpy pancake batter with colorful bits in it.
Use some kind of scooping device (I'd go with a Tablespoon, for uniformity and ease of flipping) to scoop the concoction onto the Hot griddle. Smooth out a bit. Cook until brown on one side. Flip. Repeat. Remove to plate.
OK, seeing it written down, they're basically potato pancakes with squash. That doesn't sound as good as these things taste, though. Seriously - YUM!
Kiss those babies!
Monday, April 23
Well, we made it there and back again. The Suburban is now provably legal. (Is that a made up word? It feels like it.) Anyhow, I can't vouch for the pickup, but that's a whole 'nuther post.
The boys were in an awesome place today. Aside from the paperwork and organizing issues, I was in an awesome place today. It was good, all around. We needed a really good day. James got up early, so we had hot tea and played chess. Then I tried to convince him to go for a walk with me. "But MOOOOOOOOOOM, it's FREEZING out!" It is not. Let's go. "OK, let me get my winter coat out..." So, to prove that a hoodie would work just fine, we checked the weather. 64 degrees. "That's practically snowing!" I was going to clear up that little misconception, but by then Smidge and Emily were awake and in need of some snuggles, so James was spared a trek across the Tundra. :-) Funny kid.
We made a fantastic banana bread. I found the recipe at Fitness and Freebies' wheat-free recipes section. And, of course, I modified it a bit. *grin*. If you'd like to see the original, you can find that here. But here's what we did with it:
WF Banana Bread
1 c. flour blend (I use mostly garbanzo, fava, brown rice and a little white rice - just use whatever)
1/4c. teff flour (I've been slipping this into *everything* lately. It's like I've become the neighborhood grain dealer. *psst*, Kid, wanna buy some protein?)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (ok, I don't measure a quarter of a teaspoon of anything - that's officially "a sprinkle" in my kitchen)
1 packet gelatin
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
3 egg yolks (Trust me, save the whites. They come in later, and you don't want to be staring at the trash, thinking, "Why didn't somebody tell me to reserve the whites?" I'm telling you now.)
1 tsp. vanilla (OK, I'm a bit liberal with my vanilla - I just splash it in til it looks right. Odds are good there was more than one teaspoon in this loaf.)
3/4 c. mashed banana (I used two bananas and figured they'd have to work, whether they made exactly 3/4 c. or not - turned out pretty close. I don't think this is a horribly touchy ingredient.)
1/4 c. plain yogurt (We never have plain. I always forget that I'll need it for baking. I used vanilla. You could also use sour cream. Or even buttermilk. Really, it's your bread. Have fun with it.)
3 egg whites (Preferably the ones you saved from earlier.)
Preheat your oven to 350'. Grease AND FLOUR your pan. I like rice flour. It's the least expensive of the wf options, and doesn't seem to get absorbed by the rest of the batter. Win-win, in my book.
Sift all your dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. (If you don't want to sift, you can dump and whisk - works equally well.)
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and continue to beat until light. (Seriously, it'll get somewhat fluffy.)
Mix in the banana and yogurt. Blend well. Add dry ingredients. Blend well (yes, again. I know.)
Now, in a small bowl, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form. This is for the texture of the loaf. Once you've got soft peaks, fold the beaten egg white gently into the batter. You don't want to mix it in too much, b/c it's the little air bubbles in the egg white that will pull mock-gluten duty and keep your bread afloat. Just fold it in. You won't end up with a weird quiche-loaf. And if you do, then tell everybody it's quiche-loaf and swear you never said a thing about banana bread. But I've done this a lot and never had to rely on that one.
Turn it all into your pan, smooth the top and pop into the oven.
Clean the kitchen, kick back, read to the kids, and in an hour you're eating delicious fresh banana bread. Tada!
My one and only gripe is that it makes just one loaf, and I've not had a whole lot of success in doubling my recipes. However, I'm going to master this one. The entire loaf is gone, except for the bits that stuck to the pan. (The original recipe says only to grease the pan, but I'd recommend slapping a little rice flour in it, too.)
On the upside, my hand-held mixer finally died today. I usually use it until it starts to emit a burning smell, then switch to the trusty wooden spoon. Today, there was no smell. Just a very loud, obvious clanging... and a slowing... of the beaters... until, finally... they stopped. As the clanging grew disturbingly loud, James looked up from his math and said, "WHAT are you making?" Heh. Yep, that's my boy. So why is that the upside? It means, WOOHOO! (singing) I can buy a mixer now! I can buy a mix-er! We need a heavy-duty one. One with a transmission in it. Yeah, baby!
Lessons, lessons, lessons. Good, good, good. Math, reading, Latin, science. Stories. Snacks. More banana bread. Play time. Errands. 'Nuggles. Laughter. Baby kisses. Toddler hugs. Big kids who still hold my hand while we walk, who still give me hugs for no reason. Even if I'm not holding baked goods. What more could I ask for from the day? Not. A. Thing. Ahhhh. Yes.
Next week looks like it'll be heavy on the doctor visits. Nobody's sick, it's just that everybody needs something at the same time. And when we must do several things at the same time, I realize there are a lot of us. I told Claudia today that I need a personal secretary. She pointed out that I'm kinda-sort Zorak's personal secretary. Oh. Wow, he's getting gypped, then, isn't he? But maybe if I can get him to promote me to "Executive Secretary", then I can start the hunt for an "Assistant Executive Secretary" for ME? Yeah? Think it'll work? Me, neither. But it's fun to pretend.
Kiss those babies!
Tuesday, February 20
This is the basic wheat-free version. I'll note alternative substitutions for other ingredients below the recipe.
In an oven-proof skillet (as always, I recommend cast iron), melt 1/2 stick of butter. (This is easiest to do by sticking it in the oven while the oven preheats.)
In a bowl, sift together 1/2 c. of flour blend, 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum, 1 tsp. baking powder, 2 Tbsp. sugar.
Add to the bowl, 2 eggs, 1/2 c. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla.
Pour the batter over the butter and bake at 400' for 20-25 min.
********Substitutions And Notes*********
The original recipe does not call for sugar or vanilla. I added those because I really wanted to. (It was for dessert, okay?) :-D
Butter in this could be replaced with any oil (coconut, maybe? Canola, plain vegetable, whatever you want - you just need the fats to make this thing really sing. Well, and to get it out of the skillet when it's done, I would imagine.)
Xanthan gum and guar gum are interchangeable. Use whatever you have, but if you're using non-wheat flours, don't leave it out!
Baking powder substitute: 2 parts baking soda and 1 part cream of tartar.
Milk - I used fat free powdered milk, and so I would imagine you could use any other milk - rice, soy, or almond - without problems.
I'm going to go eat what's left. We'll just have to make more in the morning. Thanks, Hillary!
Thursday, February 8
I like categories that are actually helpful for people who are looking for something specific. For instance, wheat-free, or food. Books are a helpful category. What else have you found helpful? Or do you ignore them? Or do you also obsess over them and find yourself either giving every single entry a category of its very own, or trying to much things into pathetically vague categories, like lumping your homeschooling, political activism, latest reading lists, cute kid stories, and latest kitchen fiasco all into "education"? C'mon, fill me in, here.
Kiss those babies (and which category do you put them in?)
Friday, February 2
Well, we've gone a little nutty on the soups lately. Soup is so filling, so comforting on a chilly fall or winter evening. Yup, we love soup. What we really love is soup that's thick and chunky and filled with huge chunks of meat and thick, solid vegetables. However, the bigger and more plentiful the chunks, the bigger and more painful the overall price of the meal. Huh. We've been playing around with homemade versions of ramen and chicken noodle soup, though, with delightful success. (And approximately 1/60th the sodium content!) Mostly, it's Zorak. I need a base food to start with, and build from there. I'll stare at an empty pot for hours and still draw a blank. Zorak works a little differently. He wanders into the kitchen, grabs the seasoning he wants to use and creates a dish around it. (It's really a rather attractive feature. One of the things I love about him.)
Anyway, I gave into it last night and gave it a shot, as well. It turned out okay. We'll call it... mmm... soup. (Can't think of a catchy name, sorry.) I've heard that some of the rice sticks have wheat flour sprinkled on them. I've contacted two companies, with less-than-wonderful results in trying ascertain whether it's true. From what I can gather, no. Still, be careful if you are very sensitive, or have celiac. We haven't had a reaction from John using them. So, we've been using them, and plan to continue to do so, but if you're highly sensitive, you may want to double check before hand.
Start with rice sticks. There are a bazillion kinds. We like the Zhongshan Laifen rice stick for soups. It's a thick and round noodle that holds up well to simmering. (From what I can gather "Laifen" is either an Asian rice vermicelli, or an undergarment factory. "Zhongshan" is a district, a town, an historical figure, and... I have no idea why it's on the package label. We don't claim to be experts, here, we just work with what we've got.) No clue what "Bun Gao Kho" (with an accent mark over the U, and a caret over the last O) means... Anyone? Anyone? However, the pho or pad thai noodles will also work well. The round ones are simply a little meatier, I think.
Ok, so moving on, prepare the rice sticks - boil water, add noodles, bring back to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit ten minutes. (Package says 15, but if you only do ten, they'll hold up better in the end.)
Meanwhile, clear out your veggie stash: carrots, celery, whatever. Even leafy things would work - cabbage would be delicious. Slice everything very thinly. This will serve several purposes: reduce cooking time (thus, fuel use and also, nutrient retention), and make it pretty (because we shouldn't ditch aesthetics if we don't have to). Set it all aside in whatever you use to set things aside (I just push 'em over to the edge of the cutting board.)
One onion - dice it up nice and small, set aside. (Again with the shoving.)
Meat. I used one pork rib last night. Could've used two, but we weren't awfully hungry. Plus, it's mostly for flavor, I think. Of course, I'm still mentally comparing it to a nice, thick beef stew, which, this isn't. So. Yeah. Slice the meat very thinly - think thin, like, um, philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Then cut the thin slices crosswise, into small, thin... mmm, "bits". Bits of meat is what you should have. Season and brown in a hot cast iron skillet. Add the onions and brown to caramelize a bit.
OK, your rice should be done now. Rinse the everlovin' snot out of it. This is the starchiest stuff you've ever seen. You could, theoretically, reserve the water to make wallpaper glue, but I don't. Or, if you're hideously frugal, you could save it for making something that would normally require potato water. I guess. Anyway, rinse, rinse, rinse. Throw it back into a pot with hot water, a little bullion (or seasoning of your choice), add the hot meat and onions, the thin and uniformly cut veggies (I just like saying that - I've never actually pulled off uniform cuts in my life. If yours are not uniform, just throw 'em in anyway and don't sweat it. If there are any gargantuan chunks that look obviously wrong, pull them out and trim them up a bit. You're good to go.)
Cover the whole thing and let it simmer stil it smells good. You could eat it right away, but try to give it at least five minutes while you clean the kitchen. That whole mingled flavors thing, you know. And it's nice to have a clean kitchen while you eat your warm soup.
Monday, January 8
We've had a lovely morning. We enjoyed our Bible studies and Latin before breakfast, which was nice (and thus, buys me and the boys a little break just before lunch!) We did a lot of work on the Latin today, and they're doing so well. James is thrilled to be translating "real sentences" (simple subject-verb sentences), but he gets it and is flying through. John gets the concept, but hasn't really put as much into memorizing his vocabulary work as he ought. Well, no beating ourselves with the Oughts, we'll just remedy that, starting now.
Then it was on to breakfast, which this morning was a bit light on the protein (and we'll pay for it this afternoon, if I don't fix the deficiency at lunch!) But, oh, was it good. I took horrible liberties last night with KathyJo's quinoa bread recipe, and it survived surprisingly well. So this morning, I mangled it a bit further to make a breakfast bread, and it turned out *spectacularly*, if I do say so myself. (But I didn't have to - the boys and EmBaby said it after the first taste!)
The loaf itself does form up nicely, and it looks like any regular banana bread you might be given by a loved one, or a zucchini bread in August, by someone who secretely loathes you. I suspect the difference in the texture is the teff flour. I used it in both batches, and both batches came out with a wonderful texture and good heft. (Yes, that is the ever-so-faint outline of a hand print on the top. I have helpers. It's like living with enthusiastic gnomes.)
It was difficult to cut. Not because of the bread, but because I didn't want to see what was inside. (Sometimes the scars are on the inside, you know.) But we cut it...
Look at that - no goop!
And the best part? It looks like that all the way to the middle! This is a completely goop-free loaf of bread.
Another first for my normal sized loaves. (9x5 pan!) WAHOO! I've never had success like this outside of BRM GF Bread Mix. Ever. (If I were a crier, this would be where I cried. As it stands, I did get a little sniffly.)
So, I washed my hands and we ate up! DELICIOUS! The boys all ate four slices a piece. EmBaby ate two full slices. Served slathered with butter, sides of fresh fruit, cheese (next time, we'll serve cheese), and glasses of cold milk, it's a delightful breakfast.
And then, it was back to the grindstone!
Here's the recipe, in case anyone needs a good gluten-free breakfast loaf. (It would toast up nicely, as well!)
1 c. fruit yogurt (any flavor - we used blueberry)
1/2 c. water
1 Tbsp. mayo
2 Tbsp. honey
2 eggs (room temp!)
2 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
scant 1/4 c. sugar (optional - play with it to taste)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. powdered milk
1 tsp. yeast (for flavor)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. teff flour
2 c. bean flour blend
Pre-heat oven to 375'
Use mixer to beat together liquid ingredients in large bowl. Beat 'em til they're creamy and frothy. In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add combined dry ingredients to liquids, a little at a time, incorporating well as you go. Beat thoroughly.
Pour into a greased loaf pan, use the back of a spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 10 min. Cover with foil, and bake for another 55-60 min.
(Loaf is done when bottom sounds hollow when tapped. If it's not done, just throw it back in for another 15 or so.)
Kiss those babies!
Sunday, December 17
-our pasta stockpile is inordinately large. Why? It seems that since we've found rice sticks, which Zorak will also eat, we just aren't getting many requests for things like egg noodles or spirals. Well, let's use those up, and when I do the shopping again, I won't be replenishing them (except for the egg noodles - those are for me, and late at night, when all the small ones are asleep, I do love a big, hot bowl of wavy egg noodles slathered in butter and salt.)
-coconut cream and coconut milk - it's reasonably priced at the asian market, but I haven't found a good use for it, other than baking. Perhaps we could delve into more Thai recipes?
-we do fly through the veggies, and we're very low on canned veggies. Lessons learned, there: I need to keep up with those; nobody wants the beets (or the whole cranberry sauce), so I need to find recipes that will incorporate the cans we do have; and I think everyone is thoroughly sick of canned green beans.
So, here's our Quick 'n Dirty menu for the next few days (we have water with meals, unless specified in the menu, and I didn't include snacks, because we just grab whatever sounds good for a nibble):
Breakfast - sopapillas, bananas, and milk
Lunch - baked beans and cheese biscuits
Supper - salmon patties, brussel sprouts, and rice
Breakfast - grits, eggs, bacon and sliced apples
Lunch - quesadillas, peaches, milk
Supper - potato soup and yam rolls
Breakfast - oats, peaches, toast w/ cactus jelly
Lunch - leftover soup, oat bread
Supper - rice and beans w/ burnt onions and bread
Breakfast - crepes, bacon, milk
Lunch - oat bread, fried cheese, bananas & peaches in milk
Supper - pork stew w/ rice sticks
What's on your menu for the week? Or, if you don't do menus ahead of time, what did you serve your family this past week? I'd love to hear about it! And I may be back w/ some pleas for suggestions on the few stray items I've yet to figure out what to do with (beet recipes, anyone? other than borscht?)
Kiss those babies!
Friday, December 15
1 C. butter
1 C. peanut butter
1/2 bag powdered sugar
Melt the butter and peanut butter together, stirring to blend thoroughly. Bring to a gentle, rolling boil.
Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar.
Pour into pan (or onto waxed paper), smooth, and place in fridge to chill for 10-15 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
(Wasn't that easy?)
No-Fail Wheat-Free Christmas Cookies (modified from the traditional recipe at KitchenGifts.com)
This is a half-batch. I did it this way because the last thing I wanted was five dozen useless sugared blobs laying around the house. However, they're wonderful, and if you need a full dozen, make two batches. The half-batch still makes a bazillion cookies, though, so you won't be deprived.
3 C. flour blend*
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. egg replacer
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 C. butter
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. flavoring (vanilla, almond, orange, whatever)
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients (I like to whisk 'em) and then add dry ingredients, a little at a time, to the butter mixture. Combine thoroughly, until flour is thoroughly incorporated and the dough comes together.
Chill for 1-2 hours. (Tip: if you form the dough into a tube and let it chill overnight, it'll be firm enough to slice and bake little round cookies like the Pillsbury dough in the tube... remember, the kind you ate straight from the tube? Oh, yeah, comfort food at its most embarrassing.)
Roll the dough out on wax paper (trust me, this part IS integral to the process) to your desired thickness (about 1/4", any thinner and they seem to break easily). Tape the corners down, if you need to. Use your cookie cutters and go to town. Try to space them as close together as possible.
Pre-heat your oven to 350' at least 30 minutes (the recipe called for this - this is the first time I've done it, and it worked well, so I'm not about to recommend differently.)
Remove the trimmings from around the cut-out shapes, leaving the cookies on the wax paper. Wad up the trimmings and put back into the fridge for making more cookies with in a bit. Move the entire sheet of wax paper, w/ cookies, back into the fridge for about 15 minutes. This will firm them up so that you can transfer them to a cookie sheet w/ a thin metal spatula w/o stretching them out into scary Tim Burton Christmas shapes. (Or, move them w/o chilling again, if you like that kind of shape, I guess.)
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, or just until the edges begin to brow. Remove from the cookie sheet before they cool, or you will have four-legged stars and headless snowmen. Trust me on this.
They don't spread. They don't crumble. They are stunningly easy.
* Flour Blend* (Dump one bag of Bob's sorghum, one bag of Bob's garfava, one box of tapioca, and whatever cornstarch you have on hand - or not, it's not crucial - into a jar and roll it around. I use this, in various forms, for everything. It's never the same, but we haven't noticed much of a difference. I've actually backed off on the tapioca and cornstarch significantly with excellent results.)
If you do this, please let me know how it turns out!
Kiss those babies!
Thursday, December 14
Those are Smidge's cookies. He went in for the Immersion Approach to cookie decorating. By the time we were done, he looked a lot like the one on the right.
We wanted a really great red, but didn't have cream coloring, so the icing was a little too runny. It took a little while to get used to working with it. The candy cane in the next picture looked fine when John called me to come see, but when he looked down, it had s-p-r-e-a-d. (He said it tasted great, though!)
James went with a more minimalist approach this year. Many of his cookies have a message of some sort, highlighted by edge icing, or underlined. Not so much on the whole slathering all flat surfaces with icing approach.
I thought it was all about the icing (mine look a lot like Smidge's and John's *grin*), but James says it's an artform. You know, Zen and the Art of Cookie Decorating. Big hit among the 8-10 crowd this year.
And the best part? Those are wheat-free Christmas Sugar Cookies! WOOHOO! I took the standard recipe from KitchenGifts.com and modified it. The results were spectacular. (Too good, in fact. We made one batch of regular flour and one batch of wheat-free, and visually there is no difference. Taste? No difference. This is when it would be handy to be better organized.)
Can't wait to hear about your favorite goodies at the Virtual Tour tomorrow! *hint* *hint*
Kiss those babies!
Wednesday, September 20
When Zorak is asked to fill in for lessons, all pertinent materials will be displayed obviously and accompanied by graphic, borderline compulsively detailed notes as to the process.
But most importantly, all birthdays preparations will be completed at least a week in advance.
Who knew the Juice Clock is a seasonal item? Seriously, clocks are a summer thing? Or, at least clocks that "will run on virtually any liquid". *sigh* And that is the only gift he asked for. He really needs more organized parents.
Tomorrow, we'll have a busy day, though, and I hope to make it a good one. We'll start with a birthday breakfast. After much prompting, he decided the menu should be: soft boiled eggs, toast with Granny's Cactus Jelly, bacon, and apple juice. Easy enough, although we will offer fried and scrambled eggs, as well. The other two would mutiny in a heartbeat if we tried to foist soft boiled eggs on them.
Then we'll shuffle off to the store for a bag of wheat-free cake mix and come back home to make and decorate a bajillion cupcakes. Transport cakes into town and store in hot car while we pick up bicycle. Yes, I know, logistics aren't my strong suit. To avoid the more obvious olfactory issues of this plan, we're making our own icing rather than buying the cheap beef fat icing. (The cheap beef fat icing was in order to avoid the more fiscally taxing aspect of the Very Expensive Icing plan. It's our plan-within-a-plan, um, plan.)
ANYway, lunch with Dad, new bike, supper at church, cupcakes with Pioneer Club and we are SO off the hook as far as this goes, as his actual "party" is Saturday, which buys me an additional 72 hours to make the Superman cake. We were going to go with the Big "S" emblem for the cake. It's easy, angular, and blue. We can do all three of those. Then tonight he said he'd really like the "whole body Superman"... I'm still trying to figure out how to make our basic Bob and Larry cake look like Superman. And fighting the urge to bribe him with another puppy. (It's okay, I know that's the desperation talking. Things will go more smoothly in the morning.)
Zorak has finished the new printer shelf, so maybe I can get it decoupaged tomorrow (*snort* *guffaw*) and then we can set everything up in a less hodge-podge fashion so we'll have our photo uploading capabilities back again. I'll post more photos when I can.
As always, kiss those babies!
Saturday, April 29
The bread turned out light, like wheat bread. Like no kidding, honest-to-goodness, "normal" bread. It tastes delicious, and I cannot wait to make another loaf tomorrow.
Why another loaf tomorrow? Well, because I was pretty darned excited about making bread again and I think I beat it a bit too enthusiastically. It rose and rose... and rose - it was exquisite to behold. Then it collapsed like The Hindenberg when I set it on the range top to cool. *sigh* It's still light, has great texture, and did I mention that it tastes great? That's half the battle, right there.
We had an okay day. Not stellar, but good, in general. James' allergies are acting up, and I am not sure what's triggering it. I've scoured the property, and think we've only found one clover patch - it was quickly eradicated. Don't know if it's all in the air and that's what's getting to him or if there are more allergies that we aren't aware of. I'm getting a bit nervous, though. Tonight he fell asleep during read aloud time - and he never falls asleep while there's a book to be read. He's taking local honey, Aller-Chord (I and II), and Benadryl. Still, he's miserable. Thankfully, he hasn't had The Eye Thing happen yet, and we'd like to keep it that way.
We're in an awkward stage with the renovations. Zorak has certain things he wants to accomplish that will make him feel really good about the property. I have certain things I'd like to accomplish that will make me feel really good about the property. The two lists look nothing alike. Ah-ha, and this is where the
Oh, and we perused the gov't auctions tonight - that's always fun. Anybody want to go in with us on an auction lot of 67 bookshelves? You know, you can never have enough bookshelves! (Zorak won't let me buy 67 bookshelves - it's not that we don't have the room for them, but that he's afraid I'd then try to fill them...)
He's probably right. :-)
Kiss those babies!
Thursday, March 2
I love you, Man!
A little simethicone at suppertime, an hour of Hyland's Colic tablets administered at regular intervals thereafter, and Miss Emily sleeps like that imaginary baby in the proverbs.
Of course, she's been out for an hour and a half, and I'm still up. Perhaps I should pop a few of those magic little tablets, myself? I don't know what's up with that. I don't care, either. She is asleep.
The boys enjoyed pioneer club tonight. Our first round of The Inquisition after we leave church always leaves me wondering if they take after their father and sleep through the lesson. However, with a little coaxing they produce these great descriptions about their evening.
John, tonight, after telling us about Elijah and the ravens:
"So that's what that bird thing was all about. You know, the paper with the moving bird on it. Makes more sense now, doesn't it?"
James, explaining to me why he doesn't have his memory verse:
"Well, Mom, it's like this. I left it with my teacher because I always lose it at home. Now, though, it's safe and sound with someone more responsible. That's how I handled that."(He didn't have an answer for just how he's supposed to memorize said verses since he doesn't have the sheet with him anymore. But that's a trivial point, considering at least it's not LOST somewhere!)
We started reading back at the beginning of Story of the World Vol. 1 today. I'm going to read a chapter a day at lunch until we get to where we'd left off. Then we'll return to our regularly scheduled history lessons. This plan serves two purposes: they could use the review, and I don't have the energy to do anything in the activity guide for at least another three weeks. Sometimes it comes together so beautifully. *sniff*
We finished The Horse and His Boy. One drawback to having all seven books bound in one volume is that there is no sense of accomplishment when you reach the end of one book. There's no back cover to close gently while saying, "The..." and letting the boys say, with great pomp and celebration, "END!" Nope. The story just ends, and right there, facing you as if you should go on reading, is the title page of the next book. They're chomping at the bit to read Prince Caspian now. And I'm guessing this is only a problem for me, who is really ready to take a little break, isn't it?
Hey, while I'm rambling aimlessly, does anybody know what "patent flour" is? Our crunchy market isn't stocking the regular wheat-free brands as much anymore (have to request it and they bring it out of a freezer somewhere in the back), but they are stocking more locally made breads, which is neat. We picked up a loaf of Kamut bread tonight to see if John can handle that. We saw a loaf of oat bread that looked delicious, felt just perfect for sandwich bread, and listed "organic patent flour" as it's first ingredient. OK. So, what's that? Stock boy didn't know. He asked Bread Lady. She didn't know, so they asked Manager Lady. She was nice, but didn't know, either. They asked Owner Lady, who looked as lost as the rest of us. (Or that may have been the look of, "Why are all you people standing here, staring at me?" We were quite a little crowd by that point.) They said they'd track it down and let me know, but now the curiosity is killing me. Anybody out there heard of it? Tried it? Used it? Know what it is, even?
Ok, well, it looks like it's safe for me to go to bed! I'm going to make the rounds and kiss my babies once more before I turn in.