Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekly Menu #12 ~ Counting Down & Simple Meals




It's the final countdown! "Christmas a week away!"  Name that song and you get a prize (of feeling good that you know that song).  Things might be revving up a bit around our homesteads as we prepare to celebrate Jesus's birthday (I have a couple crochet pieces that are waiting for me to finish after writing this menu), but with a little bit of planning, we can keep things simple and nourishing, distancing ourselves from falling into temptation to buy toxic convenience food.  Attending lots of Standard American Diet get-togethers?  Be extra vigilant to eat well at home, drink lots of water, and eat more protein.  Also, with all the refined sugar and flour being served and breaking down our immune systems, now is a good time to start taking (or be faithful to taking) cod liver oil and enjoying lots of bone broth to strengthen your immune system.  With this pregnancy especially, I really have to fill my meals with protein or my body screams at me.  Here's what's happening in my kitchen this advent week:

Monday:
Breakfast: Soaked porridge & eggs
Lunch: Nibble tray (raw cheese slices, apple, orange, & pear slices, soaked & dehydrated nuts)
Snack: Applesauce
Dinner: Veggie & rice stir fry, acorn squash fries, & cranberry pear pie

Tuesday:
To do: Make English muffins & white chocolate macadamia nut lara bars
Breakfast: Soaked pumpkin bread & eggs
Snacks: kefir smoothies
Lunch:  English muffin sandwiches
Dinner: Christmas party


Wednesday:

To do: roast pumpkins/winter squash, make creme fraiche
Breakfast: Almond flour biscuits, pastured bacon, & eggs
Snack: Orange, pear, and cheese slices
Dinner: Crock Pot Herbed Lemon Chicken, mashed potatoes, & salad

Thursday:
To do: soak porridge
Breakfast: Veggie frittata
Lunch: Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn, raw cheese & carrot slices


Friday:
To do: soak sourdough for empanadas & cinnamon rolls
Breakfast: Soaked porridge & eggs
Lunch: leftovers
Snack: Apple & cheese slices
Dinner: Veggie soup (where I cram as many veggies into some bone broth and add herbs/spices of choice), salad with probiotic-rich ranch dressing, English muffin grilled cheese sandwiches

Saturday:
Breakfast: coffee cake & eggs
Lunch: Leftover soup & grilled cheese sandwiches
Snack: Apple, pear, & cheese slices
Dinner: Sourdough Empanadas, salad, cranberry date bars

Sunday:
To do: CELEBRATE JESUS!
Breakfast: Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls & oven omelete
Snack: cranberry date bars
Snack:  Grain-free crackers, cheese slices, & egg nog
Dinner: Pastured ham, streusel sweet potatoes, salad, birthday cake, egg nog

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Kittens

A couple weeks ago, we bundled up a lot more than usual and made our way to the snowy forrest with some friends, tree permit in hand.


We hunted and gathered this year's Christmas tree.  On the way home, we stopped at a little country cafe to warm up with some hot chocolate.  The kids spotted a sign on a thrift store next door and shrieked, "Free kittens!" Then came the big, begging eyes and pleads to take them home.  Once I saw my husband take one up in his arms, I knew it was all over.  We were getting kittens.


After all, we were looking for a couple barn cats and these were already vaccinated, wormed, and free.  We signed the papers and brought them home.  They are too small to be out in that barn just yet, so they are temporarily in our tiny cabin, receiving the royal treatment and being included in every moment.


In all honesty, in this season of life, I don't want any animals that don't serve a function.  Also, I don't want my home to smell like cat, so I've kept my distance while they're house cats.  But they've grown on me.


They've become extremely affectionate to everyone in the family (even the little ones who, well, tend to over-love them) and toward each other.  I fear if they don't get out to that barn soon, they might wiggle their way into our hearts a little too much and become house cats.  So out they go in the daytime, and in they come to the house at night.  For now.  The barn is in your future, dear Christmas kitties.  But we enjoy your company for now.


I'm sharing this at Gratituesday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2-Minute Raw Egg(less) Nog


Not everyone in this family likes the idea of drinking eggs, especially raw ones (no matter how nutrient-dense they might be).  Also, sometimes we don't have 30 minutes to stir the stuff as it sets up, so here's our super quick, super festive, super nutritious eggless nog recipe:

Raw Egg(less) Nog

  • 3 cups raw milk (of course you can use pasteurized, but it won't be, well, raw)
  • 1 cup raw cream
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup (or coconut or date sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or one vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  If you'd like it a little warm, let it blend for a minute or two.  There will be a nice froth on the top.  If you're serving it right away, you might want to spoon the froth off the top and add it to each cup for a nice finish.  
  2. Sprinkle nutmeg on the top for a pretty finish (optional).
Great Holiday Barn Hop

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Menu Plan #11 ~ Using Up that Produce Box


Do you grow your own produce or get a produce box?  We are working toward growing our our produce, but for now we are very grateful to get a box of large organic produce each week that forces  encourages us to eat lots of in-season goodness, and to try things I wouldn't normally buy (like collard and mustard greens).  This is how we're enjoying our box this week:

Monday:
To do: Soak sourdough English muffins & pumpkin bread, make applesauce, thaw trout.
Breakfast: Soaked porridge & eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack: Applesauce
Dinner: Veggie & rice stir fry, butternut squash fries, & cranberry pear pie

Tuesday:
To do: Make English muffins & white chocolate macadamia nut lara bars
Breakfast: Soaked pumpkin bread & eggs
Snacks: kefir smoothies
Lunch:  English muffin sandwiches



Wednesday:

To do: roast pumpkins/winter squash, make kale chips & creme fraiche
Breakfast: Almond flour biscuits, pastured bacon, & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: Mostly Raw Wraps
Snack: kale chips
Dinner: Wild-caught pan-fried trout with chantrellescurried mustard greens with kidney beans


Thursday:
To do: soak porridge
Breakfast: Grain-free blueberry banana bars & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn, raw cheese & carrot slices
Snack: White chocolate & macadamia nut lara bars
Dinner: Gluten-free turkey pesto pasta & creamed spinach



Friday:
To do: Soak sourdough pancakes
Breakfast: Soaked porridge & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: leftovers
Snack: Apple & cheese slices
Dinner: Butternut squash soup, salad with probiotic-rich ranch dressing

 & gluten-free pear crisp


Saturday:
Breakfast: sourdough pancakes & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: pancake sandwiches
Snack: Apple, pear, & cheese slices
Dinner: Bunless hamburgers, potato wedges, & apple cake


Sunday:
To do: menu plan, soak porridge
Breakfast: Gluten-free chocolate chip scones & eggs
Snack: White chocolate & macadamia nut lara bars
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack:  kefir smoothies
Dinner: Leftovers (Sunday is my day off)


I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday, Monday Mania, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Warming Butternut Squash Soup ~ A Recipe


There are oh so many butternut squash soup recipes out there to choose from.  So why add another one?  Because I've yet to find one I like more than this (in complete humility, of course).  Tehe.  Honestly, you can use any winter squash in this soup (pumpkin, acorn... just not spaghetti) as long as it's been roasted.   This soup can be made silky smooth if you purée it in a high-speed blender like a Vita-Mix.  I just used a basic immersion blender for this batch, hence the lumpy look.  Don't get me wrong, though.  It still goes down smoothly.  Like buttuh.

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6-8
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 Tablespoons healthy cooking fat of your choice (butter, expeller-pressed coconut oil, bacon grease from pastured pigs, etc.)
  • 1 large or 2 small butternut squashes (or another winter squash/mixture of squashes; you'll need about 6 cups altogether)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 to 1 cup white wine (depending on taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp. each is what I usually use)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cut ends off squash and cut in half lengthwise.  Spoon out seeds and stringy membranes.  Put halves flat-side-down in a cooking dish with about 1/2 cup water in it.  Bake about 45 minutes or until the meat is scoopable with a spoon.
  2. While squash bakes, melt cooking fat in a soup pot.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  
  3. Add cooked squash to the onions, then the chicken stock, apple cider, and white wine.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Spoon out any foam that comes to the surface and add nutmeg, thyme, and red pepper flakes to the soup.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat off and add garlic, cream cheese, salt, and pepper.  Mix well and use a blender to purée.  Serve warm in bowls and sprinkle some nutmeg on top.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Wintery Menu Plan


It's been a while since I shared our menu plan.  It seemed like a good time jump back in, it being a new season and all.

Monday:
Breakfast: Soaked porridge & eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack: Apple, pear, and cheese slices
Dinner: Veggie, chicken, and rice stir fry

Tuesday:
To do: Make English muffins & white chocolate macadamia nut lara bars
Breakfast: Soaked pumpkin bread & eggs
Lunch:  English muffin sandwiches
Dinner:  Butternut squash soup, salad, & persimmon cake (use persimmons instead of apples)

Wednesday:
To do: roast pumpkins
Breakfast: Almond flour biscuits, pastured bacon, & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: Mostly Raw Wraps
Snack: Apple, pear, & cheese slices
Dinner: Real Food Shepherd's pie (recipe coming soon)

Thursday:
To do: soak porridge, make chicken stock after dinner with the bones
Breakfast: Gluten-free apple cinnamon muffins & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn, raw cheese & carrot slices
Snack: White chocolate & macadamia nut lara bars
Dinner: Slow cooker lemon herb chicken, roasted veggies, & salad

Friday:
To do: Soak sourdough pancakes & topping for crisp, thaw leftover turkey
Breakfast: Soaked porridge & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: chicken slices (leftover from last night's dinner), veggie slices, & probiotic-rich ranch dressing for dipping
Snack: Apple, pear, & cheese slices
Dinner: Nourishing potato cheddar soupsourdough English muffins, & late harvest fruit medley crisp

Saturday:
Breakfast: sourdough pancakes & eggs
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: pancake sandwiches
Snack: Apple, pear, & cheese slices
Dinner: Gluten-free turkey pesto pasta, broccoli, & salad

Sunday:
To do: menu plan, soak porridge
Breakfast: Gluten-free chocolate chip scones & eggs
Snack: White chocolate & macadamia nut lara bars
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack:  kefir smoothies
Dinner: Leftovers (Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Not Too Late for a {Super-Frugal} Handmade Christmas!

It might be the first of December, but if you haven't started any handmade gifts, don't despair!  There's still time.  Even if you're only able to craft one or two gifts, they will be cherished by the one who receives them, and that just feels good.  Taking some time to sit and work with my hands, thinking of the person I'm making a present for, not only brings joy and peace to my spirit, it's a refreshing approach to the "hustle and bustle" of the holidays.  Let's get right to it then, shall we?  Here are some things I've done in Christmases past (I can't show you what I'm working on this year; I ain't no spoiler):

We made a few of these snowflake trees to decorate our house and to give as hostess gifts at Christmas parties.  Each one took all of 15 minutes to make.   Find the instructions here.  Cost: about 50 cents


Still have some pumpkins hanging around?  We grew several one year, and I brined the seeds (soaked them in water with 1 Tablespoon Celtic sea salt overnight) and dehydrated them at 104º to make them crispy but preserved their enzymes, then tossed them in olive oil and a mixture of seasonings (I think I used a salad dressing mix).  You can include a cute little note with ideas of what to put them in (eat them by the handful, toss some in salads...)  Cost: about $1 for spices and packaging


Every year, we gather walnuts.  Lots and lots of walnuts.  After shelling, we soaked them in salt water (see above) for 12-24 hours, dehydrated them, and caramelized them.  Oh my.  They were soverygood.  To caramelize the nuts, simply melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/2 cup sugar (muscovado, turbinado, coconut sugar {GAPS-friendly!}, honey, or maple syrup work best), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a large skillet, add 1 1/2 cups walnuts, and stir on medium/high for 5-7 minutes or until they look really coated and smell delicious.  Store in an airtight container up to two weeks on the countertop before giving them, or in the freezer for a couple months).  These are super delicious by themselves or tossed in salads, on top of a squash or sweet potato dish, with ice cream, brownies, cakes...  The possibilities are endless, I tell you.  Cost of gift: about $1 per gift for caramelizing supplies and packaging


Did you save some seeds from your garden?  Make some seed packets out of  paper bags (find instructions here).  Doodle little sketches of the plants with simple instructions on the back, or you could always tape pictures of the plants on the packets.  I found these little Christmas pails at Target for $1 to "wrap" them in. Cost of gift: $1 for the pail


Ever had homemade vanilla extract?  It is thee best.  Treat that special cook in your life to some.  It's getting a little late for this, but what you can do is fill little glass jars this recipe and include a tag when to start using it (it gets better with time, but it should at least sit in a cupboard for two months).  Once the vanilla extract it ready, your gift recipients can scrape the beans from the vanilla pod to flavor ice cream, tea, coffee, whipped cream, or just about any baked good. Cost: about $2 per jar


Know how to crochet?  I just learned last year and now I'm completely addicted.  Google a "how to crochet" video if you don't know how (they even have them for fellow lefties).  I used a double stitch to make this cowl for my daughter (a very silly picture of her).  Cowls are faster to make than scarves because they don't need to be as long and you don't have to fringe them.  My daughter likes them better than scarves because they don't unwind and are super snuggly and warm.  You can probably find a pattern somewhere, but they're so easy, I just made one up. Cost: I spent $5 for a skien of organic yarn made in the USA


Doodle stitching is one of my favorite gifts to give.  What's doodle stitching, you ask?  Find out here, but here are a couple things I made:



I was so intimidated at the thought of making handmade gifts.  What if they come out ridiculous or have no taste?  I am so very glad I pushed through.  What a confidence booster and a sense of accomplishment when the projects come out good (which is about 90% of the time, so don't freak, the odds are good).  And what a difference sitting down and being creative makes opposed to surrounding myself with disgruntled crowds and standing in huge lines.  I choose peace!  If I can do handmade, you can too.  It's not too late!  Gather supplies, put the kids to bed, watch a Christmas movie with a cuppa, and get started!

I'm sharing this at the GratituesdayHandmade Christmas Gift Carnival, Farm Girl Friday, Fight Back Friday.

 Great Holiday Barn Hop

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Understanding Autumn

Autumn means waking up when it's darker, and never missing a firey sunrise that completely glistens over the frosty ground.


It means soaking up those few sunny days outside (and maybe saving school lessons for later in the day when the temperature starts to drop again).


Autumn means roasting lots of root veggies and winter squashes (and scrambling for as many different recipes one can put persimmons in).


It's a time to collect raspberry leaves to dry them for a lovely labor-prep tea down the not-so-distant road.

Autumn means walnuts!  And realizing gathering them is most of the fun and a fraction of the work to prepare them.


We quickly run back outside as we notice the day is fading sooner than we're used to and we do the last of the outdoor sqramblings. We soak in the glorious colors and outrageous sunsets as we gather the night's firewood for the stove and we shell as many walnuts as we can until it's too dark to see.  It's time to make dinner, anyway...


Autumn means tucking ourselves in bed earlier, thinking about the rapidly approaching holidays to come, and calling to mind with affection the loved ones we create little treasures for.


As I learn to dance with autumn, I love all it brings more and more and realize how very fleeting it seems to be.  If only the trees could hold their brilliant leaves a little longer.  If I could just get one more pumpkin in the oven before dinner.  And I could never make too many apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies before the joy of them wears off.  It might be a short season, but I drink in every last ounce I can with each changing, colorful, cozy day.

I'm sharing this at Gratituesday, Farm Girl Friday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oregon


Last weekend, we visited Oregon.  It was cold enough to snow, but there was none.  
And then, there was.
And the children rejoiced.


And the parents tried to stay warm long enough to let the kids have their fun in the snow.


And they did.
Everyone was thankful for the memories made.
Even though it was quite cold and we weren't completely dressed for it (no gloves or mittens.  Or snow boots, for some).
A new season is here, and boy am I glad of it.
New routines, new pastimes, new menus.
I love it all.

I'm sharing this at Gratituesday.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Fifth Baby


This little person is constantly squirming around in my womb.
I can't complain, I really can't.  It's the feeling of life.
This person, by all accounts of the ultrasound, is right on track and wonderfully healthy, according to the measurements and activity.

This little one is currently breached, but I'm trying to not let that get to me.  They change positions all the time and our last baby wasn't head-down until 38 weeks.  Oh but baby, you will move into position when the time comes, won't you?

This child is a miracle.
Every one is.
Each movement is cherished, even if it makes me gasp every now and then.
Through the hormone changes and weight-gain, the many midnight bathroom trips and achy adjustments this body goes through; I remain in awe of the Creator and the life He breathes into being.

The bigger the blessing, the larger the sacrifice.
I'll give up my coffee, my waistline, my energy levels, and even my sleep-filled nights to partner with Him who knits in my womb, bringing to this earth a miracle that will change the world, even at birth.

It just doesn't get old or less miraculous, even with the fifth baby.


I'm sharing this at Gratituesday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

White Chocolate Macadamia Lara(ish) Bar ~ A Recipe for Travel


We're a' hittin' the road and we need us some vittles.  Lara Bars are a favorite, but the nuts aren't soaked and they cost an arm and a leg.  Also, I wanted a new flavor.  Enter the White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie Dough Bar.  We crispify the nuts by soakin' 'em in water for several hours, then in to the dehydrator they go until they're, well, crispy.  The soaking process neutralizes the phytic acid, making it more digestable.  Don't have white chocolate or macadamias on hand?  Throw in some raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, or whatever happens to tickle yer fancy instead.  Normally, homemade Lara Bar recipes will tell you to encase them in plastic wrap, which is something I avoid because of it's many toxins and hormone disruptors.  Instead, mine were wrapped in unbleached parchment paper, tied up in cute little bows made of baking twine, and placed in a glass container with a lid.  Will I always present them in such a cute manner?  Probably not. But they were being introduced to the family for the first time and for the kids (just like their mother), cute packaging makes them giddy, so this helped them go over much smoother.  As far as the taste goes... everyone gobbled them right up!  Yee-haw!  I'm going to take the cowboy boots off now.  They're having an effect on my writing.

Raw White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie Dough Bars
Makes 10-12 bars
  • 1 1/2 cups cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or if you make your own and happen to run out but still have those beans in the jar like I did, go ahead and stick a whole vanilla bean in there.)
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Put cashews, cinnamon, and vanilla in food processor.  Turn it on and add 1 date at a time until they're all blended.  Add the macadamias and chocolate chips and pulse just to chop them a little bit.
  2. Form dough into bars, balls, or squish them into a pan to cut bars out of them.  Chill or freeze.  Take them out when you're ready to stuff them into lunch boxes, an ice chest, or just to throw one down the hatch right away.

Enjoy!

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