Monday, November 23, 2015

Healthy (Yes!) Buttermilk Biscuits & Gravy

Wait a minute.
Did I seriously just write healthy biscuits and gravy? How is that even possible?

I'm a believer that just about any dish can carry nutritional value. The key, my friends, is using nourishing ingredients and to eat wisely. 

This is quite the hearty breakfast; perfect before a day packed with lots of physical activity and little time for lunch. I made this batch the morning we went to the woods to find our Christmas tree. I don't know about you, but altitude makes me hungry and we were headed up the mountain for a long day of trudging thru the snow, looking for the perfect tree. Truly, we were. My husband doesn't stop until he finds it, and usually it's twice as tall as we need it to be. It was wonderful to not hear an "I'm hungry" until hours later, after we were piling into the car where I had a basket of these cookies at the ready.

I'm so thankful our family can now eat gluten without it negatively affecting them, so long as we eat it sparingly.  For my GF friends, I'm sorry about this recipe.  More gluten-free recipes to come.

'Round these parts, we like our biscuits tall, like our Christmas trees.  If you do, too, be sure your dough is rolled out to at least an inch thick.

This means you'll be working with a smallish round that makes up it's diameter in thickness.

You can always use a drinking glass to cut your biscuits like I did, until this biscuit cutter set was found in my stocking several Christmases ago.  I use the second to the biggest choice.

See?  Tall, warm, flakey goodness.  Stop here if all you need are incredible biscuits.  Continue if you're ready for some protein-packed comfort.

I will probably be shunned from the south from here on out for using ground turkey instead of sausage, but I'm Californian and it shows, even in my gravy. What also shows is how many recipe steps I try to skip.  It works just fine to dump the meat in the pan over low heat, sprinkle the seasonings in, and incorporating it all as it cooks.  Less dirty dishes = more life to live.

Does billowing steam from cooking breakfasts memorize anyone else?  It could be the pre-coffee, half-asleepedness, but it's practically hypnotic to me.

Also, morning light on creamy, meaty goodness sends me into utter bliss.  Commence stomach growls.  

Making the biscuits from start to finish only takes 20 minutes.  That includes baking time.  Add the gravy and the whole meal will find it's way to the breakfast table in 35 minutes, so long as you start the gravy right after the biscuits go into the oven.  I pull all the needed herbs for this recipe from the garden and hang them above the stovetop ahead of time, making this dish an even more aesthetically delightful event.

A faucet will go where that stump is, one of these days,

We are family of seven, so my recipes tend to make a lot of food.  If you don't go through this batch in one setting, both the biscuits and the gravy reheat wonderfully for yummy days to come.

Buttermilk Spelt Biscuits
Prep time: 10 min, Bake time: 10 min, makes 8-9 biscuits
  1. Preheat oven to  450ยบ.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in shortening, and buttermilk until just combined.
  3. Roll dough out onto lightly floured surface, to a 1-inch thickness.  Cut out biscuits with a 2.5-inch biscuit cutter.
  4. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on ungreased pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.  Serve immediately, though room temperature or reheated biscuits are good, too.
Sausage Gravy
Prep time: 20 min, Serves 8
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon rapadura (or coconut sugar, or brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, if you like spicy sausage)
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease, optional (we buy organic, pastured bacon and definitely save the grease)
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3-4 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place ground turkey in skillet (cast iron is the preferred, non-toxic choice), over low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, add 2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, sage, thyme, marjoram, smoked paprika, and optional pepper flakes to turkey; chop and stir to incorporate into turkey with spatula to combine and cook, turning heat to medium.
  3. Once turkey is fully cooked with no more pink meat, reduce heat to medium-low, add optional bacon grease and sprinkle flour onto meat.  Cook for about minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Drizzle milk onto sausage, stirring constantly.  Cook gravy until it thickens to desired consistency, 10-12 minutes.  If it gets too thick, add milk. If it's too thin, add a little more flour. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper into sausage, stir, and serve immediately with warm biscuits.
Oh and the tree?  We found one.  Jeremy did good, as usual.  This is why I let him obsess over finding the perfect one, even after the children are long done and ready to go home. It's always worth it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

8 Months

During this time each year, garden work is down to a minimum, daytime is shorter, work largely moves indoors, and we find ourselves being drawn to the corner of the house where the wood stove now glows at the end of each day.  For the first time since March, I find the time to write, despite my best intentions to be consistent with this space, year-round.

Today, I simply want to say, "Hello," and, "I've missed you," and "Here's what we've been up to and here's what's coming to the blog."

One of our two homesteading classes.
Planting the garden and milking twice daily dominated this month. We welcomed a new brood of pullets (future laying hens), and I co-taught two Intro to Homesteading workshops.

It's been such a pleasure teaching various classes with my friend, Lauren Dahl.  We have covered several gardening topics, home detoxing, non-toxic skincare, among other things.  I've wanted to share notes and recipes from the classes all year, and I plan to do just that throughout the next month!

Gigantic spinach!
Jeremy and I traveled to the Carolinas where he officiated his aunt's wedding on the gorgeous, Ocean Isle coast. Back home, the garden started to explode with springtime goodness.  Peas, parsnips, lettuce, carrots, and the biggest spinach leaves ever to come out of our garden!  Lauren and I taught an organic gardening class in my garden, mainly using the Back to Eden method. Be on the lookout for a post on what we shared at the class.

We wrapped up a beautiful year back to homeschooling and started planning for the following homeschool year. The days grew longer and I found myself in the garden every spare chance I could get. There was a dance recital, birthdays, a second family wedding that Jeremy officiated, our sixteenth anniversary, and our oldest daughter started rehearsal for the new Bethel Music Kids music video (BMK)!  I also taught a food preservation class, where we covered four methods (canning, fermenting, freezing, drying), and notes from this class are coming right up!

The big watermelon and the 3-year-old's new camera face.
Our girls all rehearsed for a summer musical, on top of Bekah's continuing BMK video rehearsals.  Family from Georgia visited for what felt to be way too short, but our time was precious with them. The garden was producing full speed ahead, and the majority of what we ate came from it, including a huge Moon-And-Stars variety watermelon!

Tartine's spelt sourdough! And an intoxicating Bavarian cream cake.
The girls' summer performance was amazing, filming began for BMK, and, because of the extreme August heat, the garden all but stunted for six weeks. Autumn planting began.  We took a family vacation to San Fransisco before school started. I made the pilgrimage to Tartine Bakery, voted the best sourdough in the country, and several of their loaves are 100% whole grain.  Oh, it was amazing.

School was full speed ahead, all the kids' extra curricular classes came back, filling up the schedule, and the van felt like a second home to us all.  We started pulling pumpkins, yams, and Brussels Sprouts from the garden and I officially caught the Autumn love-bug, even though the highs don't leave the triple digits until November.  I had the privilege of speaking at the Flourish Health Summit in Napa and was so happy my mom could come along!  We shared the best meal of our lives at Bouchon Bistro and I wanted to officially live in Oxbow Market.

Heirloom Boer Pumpkin!
Lauren and I taught a year-round gardening class and I can't wait to share all the info with you! The only thing is, our planting timeline will only apply to our area, but I'll try to find a place to search for your area's planting guide.  The milking goats were dried up and then bred.  We are expecting about six kids the beginning of March, and more milk than we'll know what to do with. I'm determined to be a consistent, avid cheesemaker this go-around. We celebrated more birthdays, surprised our animal-loving ten-year-old to a birthday trip to Wildlife Safari where she said it was the best day of her life.

My favorite month of the year is here.  The trees are gloriously red, yellow, and orange, the mountain tops are once again covered in blankets of snow, and cold weather has prompted baking to re-commence here in the kitchen, making the home constantly smell like heaven. I turned thirty-six, and am filled with thankfulness for being alive during this time in history.  There are people to love, foods to eat, a roof over our heads, and plenty of work to do, because, I am determined to do everything in my power to make this world better than before I entered it.  I say let's all get thinking, find out what we want to be about, follow our dreams, and work hard at it, starting now and never stopping.  Happy November, friends! It's good to be back.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mountains, Homesteads, Classes, & Such

Rushing three girls to a total of 8 dance classes each week.  Popping over to Shasta Rock Club for my son's PE.  Planning a year's worth of monthly, interactive workshops, and preparing to share at a couple events afar.  Homeschooling.  Homesteading.  Blogging.  Hiking.  This isn't a look how-much-I-do-aren't-I-awesome post.  It's more of a how-did-this-happen one.

Over the winter months, Jeremy and I rekindled a love we both held before we even met.  The beauty of creation heals, regenerates, restores perspective, and brings life into our spirits.  Whenever Jeremy wasn't traveling, we planned a weekend family expedition, be it all-Saturday or only for a couple hours.  Sure it's a ton of work loading up seven people and a giant Anatolian Shepherd, along with snacks, waters, and extra changes of clothes, just in case (almost totally potty-trained toddler, ahem).

Sometimes friends and family join.  Other times it's just us.  Always, we Instagram.  Especially him.  He's discovered a new gift, that photog extraordinaire husband of mine.  It's a delight to watch him come to life as he peers through a lens.

Occasionally, one or two of our children don't want to go.  There's some whining and complaining, but by the time we reach a destination, wonder overtakes every eye and at the end of the day, the van is quiet in the most peaceful, contented, connected-to-each-other-and-creation type of way on the road back home.

When we are home, there's no shortage of things to do.  We purchased two Oberhasli Swiss Dairy goats.  One just kidded last week!  One may or may not be pregnant, but the children pray that she is, with "two baby girl goats" every day.  This batch is extremely cute and extremely healthy, and also extremely masculine, of which we plan to sell, sadly.

Then there's the new batch of chicks, brooding in the coop until they're old enough to emerge into the great outdoors, come April.  Boy do they grow fast (and eat a lot of starter feed).

Also, the garden.  My gym, grocery store,  tanning salon , and quiet place all wrapped up in one, 3,000 square-foot plot.  The place I find so much joy, anticipation, hope, deferred hope, problem solving, and where I'm challenged to either keep trying or give up.  Some things are effortless.  Others feel futile.  But by the end of most days, there is dirt under my nails, browner skin from both sun and soil, and so much contented peace.  We are looking at another year of drought, though we pray each night for rain.

I am not bored.  Amazingly enough, I'm also not stressed (for the most part).  That sweet spot where hard work and doing what I love, give and receive, push and rest, all blend into a soft-serve swirl of what "enjoying life" looks like.  

Our youngest just turned three and sleeping through the night is becoming increasingly consistent, giving me more rest and energy that ever before.  We aren't living in survival mode after being in that state for ages.  I feel a happy anticipation for the day ahead as I go to bed, dog-tired, fully spent, and so satisfied.

Life here is far from picture perfect.  I just snapped at the kids for the messy state of the house and quickly apologized before tucking them into bed.  Daylight Savings is getting the better of me this week.  An unknown critter took out two cauliflowers from a recent transplant and I had a full blown hissy fit inside my head.  But the balance between bummer and peace is currently a gracious one, and I daily thank God for that.

A friend and I taught our first homestead class together and will teach another one Saturday morning.  I'm so thankful she thought of this class-teaching idea.  It's been a lot of fun sharing from learning experiences (mostly failures sprinkled with glistens of success).  I hesitated at the idea at first.  I love new ideas and promptly overwhelm my life with them, taking three steps forward and two steps back.  But these classes have been such a pleasure.  I feel a new community growing.  An organic, cultured, slower, mindful, intentional one.  I feel less weird and more a part.  We are gathering a kombucha-drinking, scoby-sharing, non-toxic, slow food loving, organic, artisan, handmade, homemade, homegrown collective where our passions and interests are shared and inspire one another.  I find myself so looking forward to the next class and a new bunch of kindreds to enfold to the community.  I'm tidying up the garden every spare chance in preparation for April's class (linked below).  As much as I'd love to make these classes available online, we don't have the funds for that yet.  For now, it's been lovely to watch this community?  movement?  collective? grow organically and locally, and the future is looking quite homestead-y from where I see it.


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