Tuesday, March 29, 2011

VIDEO: Introducing the Lambs to the Pasture

This video is for people who have never had the opportunity to see lambs bound.  Everyone should see lambs bound at least once.

We have started weening the lambs and are gradually introducing them to the pasture (lambs have touchy stomachs; all four of them).  Today was their first day at pasture!  Yes, I'm a dorky city-girl-turned-country who video tapes her animals' special first moments.  And I will completely admit that it did my heart a world of good seeing them so happy about all the long grass this crazy rainy season has provided.  Spring has sprung at last!  Also, footage with the lambs wouldn't be complete with out Margret the pullet who thinks she's a sheep...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Raw Samoa Cookies ~ A Recipe

First things first.  If you enjoy raw food like I do, you most likely have experienced others not joining you in this love.  Some are... a little hesitant to express satisfaction of a raw treat, especially if it's named as a knock-off of "the real thing."  So, to my fellow healthy foodies, I present to you the raw Samoa cookie.  If you plan to serve this to the more reluctant of friends who fear health, simply call these "raw cookies."  They will expect something tree barkish, but after their first bite, they might come up with the idea all on their own that, hey, these almost taste like those Samoa Girl Scout cookies.  Just assure them of how brilliant they are and smile inside with the hope that you just planted a healthy seed in their sweet lil' hearts, God bless 'em.

If ya just need a quick chocolate fix, stop at step one: making the base.  It's delicious just the way it is.  If you want to go all.  the.  way.  You will need to think ahead and soak, then dehydrate some raw buckwheat groats.  Just FYI.

Raw Samoa Cookies
Makes about 30

For the base:
4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Roll in little balls or use a deep Tablespoon to scoop into balls, then squish them into flatter cookies, Samoa-style.  The next step might be easier if you chill the base for at least a half hour, though I've made them before without chilling them and they were easy enough to handle.

For the crunchy layer:
  1. The day before assembling the cookies (if you don't already have any on hand), soak the groats in a bowl full of filtered water for 6-8 hours.  The buckwheat expands, so be sure to use enough water.
  2. Rinse thoroughly, and dehydrate at 104 degrees for 3-5 hours, or until totally dry.
  3. Place dehydrated groats into a bowl and push the cookie bases firmly into the groats so they stick.  Place them in the fridge while you make the drizzle.

For the drizzle:
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
  1. Use blender to blend all ingredients.  Chill for about 20 minutes to thicken.
  2. Use a cake decorating utensil to squeeze onto the cookies.
Use the small, circular tip.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Chickens and a Sissy Rancher

It's been quite stormy around here.  The little cabin is especially warm and cozy on stormy days.  Jeremy and I were just talking about how much we love living in a small home, especially on stormy days.  It just feels so warm and cozy, and all I want to do is drink coffee and tea and make food and read a dozen books.

But... we have these animals out in the barns...
And we have to feed them. 
Even on stormy days.
Coat zipped on.  
Hood cinched tight.
Feet plunged into rain boots.
Lamb bottles in each hand.

1 day 
Wind slaps my face.
Dogs romp by my feet.
Lambs spot me and start to bleat for breakfast.
They drink, and then they rub against my hand for some love.
I pull out some grass for them to munch on until the next feeding.

1 week
On to the next barn.
Legs sting from the rain and wind.
Jeans were a poor choice.
Hands numbly fumble the lock open.
Fourteen chicks wait for fresh food and water.
The once spacious water trough they brood and dart to and from in seems to shrink every day as they grow.

2 weeks
Wind swings the barn doors I'm trying to lock wide open and I stumble back, feeling very small.
It takes three minutes to lock the doors as I fight against the elements with numb hands.
Rain completely drenches my coat.
The dogs are ready for their breakfast.

Two scoops each, into their buckets.
They devour it.
The wind howls.
I open the front door, dripping with rain.
House is warm and smells like breakfast and quiet as the kids trickle out of their bedroom.
Coconut bread is almost ready to come out of the oven.
Coat hangs next to the wood stove to dry.
I feel pitiful and think of how much I dreaded going out there to feed the animals.

If I were perfectly honest though, feelings of excitement and fulfillment brimmed in my heart as soon as I opened that door to start those morning chores.  Sure, it wasn't comfortable.  But it was invigorating.  I suppose this is how it feels, even during the low points, when you begin to do what you've always wanted to do. 

From the outside, it might look silly to be so thrilled by feeding some animals in the rain, but to me, this lifestyle is so much more.

It's healing the land.
It's healing my family.
It's nurturing what nourishes us.
It's exercise built into life.
It's enjoying, admiring, and learning from the Creator through His creation.
It's breathing in fresh, country air.
It's a simpler yet hard-working kind of life.
It's a dream come true.

I'm sharing this at Gratituesday.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Honey Mustard Chicken ~ Slow Cooking for Fast Days

It's always on the busiest of days that I long to come home to a warm, nourishing meal that fills the house with it's enticing fragrance.  This is something my husband enjoys almost daily.  Chef Mama on the other hand...   Can we give a shout out to our crock pots?  Holla!

This simple, traditionally-prepared, gluten-free dish can easily be transformed into a GAPS-friendly meal by placing the chicken on a bed of squash instead of rice (I'm using up my non-GAPS ingredients in case we decide to go for it).  All it takes to prepare this is a little forethought at the beginning of the day instead of at four o'clock.  But I love that, don't you?  Knowing dinner is cooking away while I go about my day is just plain happy.  This recipe leaves no leftovers for our family of six (our oldest is only nine, mind you), so if there are more of you or you want leftovers, I recommend doubling it.

Honey Mustard Chicken
Serves 6

*2 cups brown rice
*4 cups filtered water plus 4 Tablespoons kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, or lemon juice
*4 cups chicken stock or water, or a mixture of both
1/2 cup raw, local honey
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup butter, ghee, or coconut oil
3 pounds chicken drumsticks or thighs, or a mixture of both

*If on the GAPS diet, substitute rice and stock with baked squash of your choice and a cup of broth to drink.
  1. First thing in the morning or the night before, soak rice in 4 cups filtered water with the cultured dairy or lemon juice.  Cover and set aside (the rice should soak for 7-12 hours).
  2. Begin the next two steps 6-8 hours before dinner.  Combine honey, mustard, curry powder, and butter in a saucepan.  Mix over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil.  Boil 1 minute.
  3. Place chicken in the crock pot.  Drizzle prepared glaze over the chicken.  Place lid on top and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. 1 hour before serving, drain and rinse soaked rice.  Put in saucepan with 4 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until all the stock is absorbed.  This takes about 45 minutes.
  5. To serve, spoon a bed of rice onto dinner plates.  Drizzle juices from crock pot over the rice and place one or two pieces of chicken on top of the rice.  This goes great with a side of fresh veggies or a side of vegetables sauteed in butter.  Spooning some of the juice from the chicken over the veggies is suggested.  Sprinkle Celtic sea salt and pepper over everything to taste.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raw Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart ~ A Recipe

I'm starting to realize caution should be exercised when posting on the Facebook page.  When I make something pretty and yummy, I love to post pictures of it.  It's like a kindergartener wanting to hang a coloring up on the fridge, you know?  But...  Then there are recipe requests.  Which I totally understand.  I mean, who wouldn't want to make this tart?  It's amazing.  Here is my adaptation of this tart I found in Raw Food, Real World.

All-Raw Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Vanilla Cream
Serves 12+

For the crust:
Mix all ingredients until it feels doughy.  Press into a pie pan, cover, and freeze for 30 minutes or more.

For the filling:
Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender (I use a Vita-Mix) until smooth.  Pour into chilled pie crust.  Cover and freeze for one hour or chill in the fridge for two or more hours.

For the vanilla cream:
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours
  • 1 cup young coconut meat (about 2 coconuts)
  • 1/2 cup water from the coconuts
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • Seeds from one vanilla bean or 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Blend all ingredients in a hight-speed blender until smooth.  Freeze for about an hour.  Either scoop some on each slice of tart or use cake decorating tools to make cool piping designs however you want.

Run your knife through hot water right before slicing, it makes it easier to cut.  
Caution: this tart is rich!
There is something about the way the slices look that makes my mouth water.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hello from the Pasture

I took it in September when we opened escrow on this little ranch and were filled with so much anticipation.
He was not even two weeks old.

She was only two, tiny days old.
Here they are, six weeks later, and almost old enough to be weened and let out to that pasture we dreamed about filling with sheep.
And there Margret the pullet is (to the left), still hopeful for a bottle of her own. The picture isn't the best, but trying to bottle feed two exuberant lambs, dodging a protesting hen who attempts to fly on my back, and taking a photo is no easy feat, I tell you.

Shamrock the ram is a heritage Jacob breed, which are on the "rare" list. We hope to get a Jacob ewe so we can add to the population. They are a smaller breed and ideal for hand-spinners (their wool is so soft) and they are known for good meat. Will we ever find out about Jacob meat first-hand? I don't know yet.

Blossom the black ewe, on the other hand, is a half Jacob, half Suffolk breed. Suffolk is the most common in America because they are known to have the leanest, tastiest meat. Will we ever find out first-hand? Probably. But not Blossom. She is all lined up to be a great lamber and the folks we bought her from believe it's a possibility for her to have triplets at some point.

It might freak some people out to even consider eating an animal they've raised. It freaks me out a little, but it goes to show how detached our lifestyle is from our food source. The more I learn about massive meat farms, the more I embrace the idea of knowing exactly how my meat was raised, what the animals were fed, and how it was processed. My pocketbook likes this concept, too.

This Wednesday, 2-day-old chicks will start to trickle in to our local feed store. We plan to have twelve hens again, like we did two years ago. Our kids, especially our son, is counting down the minutes until we bring them home. I'll admit, I am pretty excited, too. Chickens are so low-maintenance, they are hilarious, there is nothing like home-laid eggs, and their poo is like black gold for the garden. Most of the breeds we plan to get are duel-purpose, meaning they are good layers and once their laying days are over, their meat will be good enough to be tasty fryers. Will I be ready to butcher them by then? Only time will tell, but I've been gearing myself up for that moment for two years now. I still get a little squeamish at the thought, but as an omnivore, I feel it's my responsibility to butcher at least once to experience first-hand what needs to happen to get that meat onto our table. I don't expect many people to understand that. That's okay. I was home schooled and now I home school our kids. I'm used to being weird. I embrace my weirdness.

I think I'm done rambling. It's a rainy day and I have millions of books to read about how on earth to be a grass farmer, and it's time to apply for agricultural water while I learn about digging a pond and how to irrigate from it using only gravity as the pump. Excitement is racing through my nerdy veins at just the thought of it all.

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday & Fight Back Friday

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Actively Considering GAPS & a Grain-Free Recipe Collection

After being mostly raw and all the way gluten-free for a month, when I mentioned GAPS to Jeremy, the reaction I got was like telling a marathon runner at the end of a marathon to run another marathon.  With no water to drink.  In a winter coat.  In the middle of summer.  In Death Valley.  He quickly suggested I stop reading about nutrition, because every time I do, 25% of our food gets taken away.  Hmm...

So, I decided to start focusing on the things that we are adding to our kitchen as I continue to do more research on GAPS.  I discovered that "Leaky gut and malabsorption are the typical results of vitamin A deficiency."  Also, the essential oils Omega 3, EPA, DHA, and vitamin D are very important to take in when healing the gut.  Guess what has all of those things in easy-to-digest form?  Cod liver oil.  I was so faithful to put cod liver oil in our daily smoothies four years ago (be sure to use unflavored.  Trust me.)  It was just one of those things that accidentally got dropped during a crazy season of transition.  Well, I'm picking it back up.

Another thing we will be adding to our diet: juice.  From a juicer.  That we don't have yet.  This will have to wait until next month when our grocery budget is replenished and I can buy a basic juicer at Costco.

I'm also adding Navy beans to our pantry.  We've never actually had Navy beans.  Navy beans and lentils are the only two starches that are GAPS-approved.

Broth.  We always have a supply of homemade chicken stock in our freezer, but folks on the GAPS diet need to drink a cup of stock with each meal because it is incredibly nourishing, heals the stomach, and the nutrients are easily digested.  Yep, it's time to up our intake of broth.  This one is going to be tricky.  Especially at breakfast...

There's even more to add!  House plants.  Well, we won't be eating these, but they will provide much cleaner air and beauty to our home.  I've known about the benefits of house plants for years, but it's just one of those things I never got around to doing.  Again, we will have to wait for April for this once budgets get refreshed.  If you want to join me, here is a list of good, low-maintenance house plants.

As we are on the subject of household health, I plan to add more easy-to-make homemade cleaners.  Environmental toxins are super important to eliminate for optimal health.  Keeper of the Home has some simple, non-toxic air freshener ideas here and an easy-to-whip-up gentle surface scrub here.  

See?  There is so much to add while on (or thinking about going on) the GAPS diet.  Cod liver oil, lots of bone broth, carrot juice, house plants, homemade cleaners. I can just feel my husband's excitement.

Will we do the full-blown GAPS diet?  Stay tuned.  I did, however, order the books, and if we end up going for it, we will start in April.

In the meantime, I'm collecting all sorts of grain-free recipes to try out.  Here is what I've found so far:

If you have any other GAPS recipe sources you enjoy, easy homemade cleaners, or tips for a successful GAPS experience will you leave a comment?  I would love input.  I need help.  Also, if you have been through GAPS, will you share your story?  I've already received several amazing personal success stories, and man does it fuel my fire!

I'm sharing this at Monday Mania.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Week 4 ~ Considering a New Path: GAPS

GAPS is all about pastured eggs!

Week four of mostly raw and all gluten-free finds us at a crossroads.  Being all gluten-free has been way easier than I thought it would.  Since we eat a cooked dinner every night, our starch cravings are satisfied with a welcome helping of potatoes, soaked quinoa or rice, sweet potato fries, or corn tortillas.  This is a cinch!  But, my son has started to mention his stomach bothering him at night again.  Agh!

The crossroads:  I have seen a few blog posts about the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) diet and honestly, I've avoided reading them.  I have changed so much of my family's diet over the past six years, I feared another drastic change might send them overboard.  But here's the thing.  Jeremy still has acid reflux and my son, at only seven years of age, already suffers from similar symptoms.  It will only benefit the rest of us to join this diet.

This diet is the most extreme I have ever considered, but what I especially like about it is it's temporary and it heals.  It's not a quick fix, but it's a permanent one, and it's not a new lifestyle diet to lessen the effects of a health issue.  This sends health issues packing for good and once you've finished being on it, you can slowly introduce starches back into the diet.

Another reason I connected with he idea of the GAPS diet is it weaves every good thing I have learned from a number of differing sources (Weston A. Price,  Gershon, raw books, nourishing food sources...) into a remedy that just makes sense.

If someone you know suffers from anything as simple as seasonal allergies to something as severe as  autism, fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, etc...  You might want to consider joining me on this crazy ride.

Here are some great blog posts that can help explain and introduce you to the GAPS diet:

The Healthy Home Economist just published an article about successfully reaching your goals with the diet.

Keeper of the Home is in the process of going through the GAPS diet with her family, and she shares her findings and ideas starting here.

Health, Home, and Happiness offers a menu plan, complete with to-dos, and shopping lists.  She offers three days for free if you want to try it out.

There you have it.  The new direction on our road to complete health.  I'm a little scared I'll admit, but there are too many positive testimonies regarding this diet.  We won't be starting right away, as we need to phase out the rest of the potatoes, yams, etc. from the kitchen.  Phase out the starches, phase in the butternut squash, then on to apples and bone broth for a while...  Thankfully we like butternut apples?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Week 3 of Raw/Gluten-free ~ Clarification, CAKE, & Sundry

 After reading some feedback, I think I've been a little misleading.  I am not, nor do I ever plan to be 100% raw.  My goal is to eat raw for breakfast, lunch, and snacks for eight weeks and gluten-free all day.  Also, although I like to pull from some vegan recipes, I never plan to be vegan.  I tend to be on the Weston A. Price side of things (my love of raw dairy sits nicely with that).  More on the similarities and differences between Gerson (vegan diet) and Price (pro-animal fat) later (and I am really excited to share that post with you!).

Because of my affection for what some people like to call real food, I am whole-heartedly a whole foodie.  Meaning, unless a gluten-free baked good has only whole ingredients, you won't be seeing me whip it up.  Xanthan gum is not an item found in my pantry.

So what do we eat around here?  This is what:

Such striking colors.

I was slightly nervous to try this Cabbage Kale Slaw in Simple Greek Dressing on account as it looked... too healthy to taste good, but it surprised me.  The friends I subjected to it actually seemed to enjoy it, too.  You Guys.  Ani's salads, particularly her dressing recipes?  Addicting and quick to make.  A healthy quick fix.  I can dig it.

My kids have been desperate to enjoy something familiar.  I get it.  We tried making raw peanut butter.  Have you ever had it?  I used the Vita-mix recipe first and oh my gosh.  Gag.  I tried Nourishing Tradition's recipe annnnd... Yum.

I did cheat a little on the gluten-free thing and used sprouted tortillas to make peanut butter and "jelly" wraps, the new version.  Sorry, kids.  I tried to make something familiar.  Really, I did.

At least they liked them.

We delved into the dessert section of Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.  Oh my.  The first one we tried was the All-American Apple Pie.  It was happy.

Then we moved on to her Summer Berry Cobbler with the frozen blueberries I saved from last season.  Amazing!  It took only ten minutes to put together and it was completely consumed in the same amount of time.

Today...  Today.  Today, the kids helped me make the Deep Forest Carob (cacao) Cake with Fudge Frosting.  Sweet mercies from heaven was it rich.  It was delicious, and everyone in the house agreed.  Hallelujah.

It's like a blank canvas, ready to be painted with berries, mint leaves, nuts...  Be the artist.

It was so good, it deserves two pictures.

I'm not sharing the recipes because Ani has them published in her book and copying them here feels a little plagiarize-y.  If you want to try them free of charge, check it out in the library to see if it's something you want to buy.  If you want some tried-and-true delicious raw recipes right away, visit my friend Sky's blog.  I've made just about all her dishes and they are amazing (only I substitute all agave nectar with maple syrup).

I'm sharing this at Fight Back Friday.


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