Monday, February 8, 2016

Returning




It's Monday night.
I'm sitting by the wood stove, unlit due to the summery day, even though it's February.  There's an audio book about cats filling the living room that the younger three are intently listening to.  Our three-year-old, Joseph just decided he needs yogurt, and impromptu guests will be here any minute.  As much as I try to protect intentional writing time, it hasn't happened yet.  Perhaps soon.  I dream of quiet moments where my head is clear until it fills with eloquent prose that then spill onto pages.  For now, it's loud, I'm starting to drag, and I'm going to write anyway (after I get yogurt for Joe).

I long for consistency and promised such on the blog, a good three months ago.  Those holiday months were filled with happy, busy moments and zero motivation to write.  In fact it overwhelmed me.  After a life-changing time in New Zealand (more on that to come), out of the blue during a shower, everything started falling into place in my mind.  It's hard to describe (especially while Tonkinese cat facts blare in this room).  Vision renewed, motivation restored.  It's not for gaining subscribers or building a business, not that there's anything wrong with that.  Maybe someday I will, but the thought currently feels burdensome and stressful.

This space started off as a place to share thoughts, ideas and life.  New twists on recipes I didn't want to forget, life in a trailer with a homeschooling family of (then) four kids, juggling the homestead life  with a traveling man, and even personal struggles like prenatal and postpartum depression.  My original intent was to share openly, and welcome anyone interested in hearing it.  I pictured readers as friends in my living room, sharing coffee, tea, nibbles, and words.  This is what I am returning to.

I know the number one rule to blogging is to stay consistent, and that is a goal.  But my first goal is just to write without a deadline and from the heart.  I don't see this as a re-defining, but more of a returning.  I am excited to interact again through the comments and to have conversations with people I wouldn't normally see in passing.  This return might not be your cup of tea, and that is totally understandable.  But starting now, I consider this space as more of a personal one and less informational, though an occasional recipe will probably still speckle the feed every once in a while.

It's time to put on some tea for those soon-visiting friends.  Life is good and nonstop.  Living in the present, learning from the past, and planning for the future is my hope. Until next time! xo

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.
April
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!
May
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.


June
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.
July
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.
August
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.


September
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!
October
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.


November
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.

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