Sunday, July 22, 2012

When in doubt, Vegetable Soup

I've been moaning a bit about the horrible foods I've been eating (not really thinking about what I'm eating, doing tons of sugar, soy and gluten). So maybe the answer (to start with) is to have some good old fashioned vegetable soup. Another wonderful bi-product is that I know I'm using up the wonderful veggies we grow, buy or that were gifts to us.
We know I have a soy allergy, and it's finally heightened. (I guess that's the silver lining around the misery I experienced after PF Chang's last week?) So I have to finally get serious about it and truly leave it alone. I found out about a few products, thanks to my friend Lindsay, that should be fine in small amounts. Fermented things like miso and tempeh might be a nice alternative. The lovely tamari we have here at home is too (maybe liquid aminos too). As for sugar, hmmm. That's probably something to keep going away from which is accomplished the way we avoid soy: I can't eat all that convenient, processed stuff. I think accomplishing this at home is very doable since we've been going in this direction a long time now. Where I struggle is when out--restaurants, friends' homes, special events etc. Perhaps I need to percolate a bit more on that one. Even though I don't have celiac disease, I could still have some intolerance of gluten. Many people believe we should work to avoid it in general. I learned today that homemade bread in smaller quantities should be okay, but processed yeast is a big problem in what they sell in the store. My new question is how do I pick out yeast at the store? :) Update, 7/23/12To follow up, Lindsay gave me some ideas for yeast substitutions. Apple cider vinegar and water with 1/2-1 tsp of baking soda will hopefully create the right reaction. The other is the same amount of baking soda with sauerkraut juice. These liquids would be taking the place of some of the others in the recipe. Let's give it a try! :)

Mead Making

The merry mead. We just finished with the Mead Moon, according to some moon/indigenous cultures. I'm a bit late, but I started my raw honey mead and included herbal help like licorice root, ashwagandha, wild cherry bark and more. The bubbles are faithfully coming up through the air lock so, Houston, we are go. After six weeks or so, we'll transfer this mead into screw cap bottles to age for nine months or more.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Homemade Fun

This kim chi smells a lot stronger than our sauerkraut did while making its magic. Eric won't do the kraut but confesses some desire for kim chi so here we are! Our recipe was found at Allergy Free Alaska.
We want many of our gifts to be handmade this year so we started some vanilla extract just today. Hopefully when Christmas comes, it'll be really ready and delicious. Z helped with the ribbons and heartily approves the stamping/pictures.
There are many tutorials out there, and what we did resembled this one.

Christmas for our girls

We are simplifying so many things that obviously Christmas and gifts needs to be considered carefully. While there will be stocking stuffers and a few little things, here below are the gifts for our girls this year.
Willow Creek Toys had a great sale on one of the pieces, and we get free shipping so it seemed like a good time to get them. Eric and I recently decided on a wooden kitchen as their gift--little did I know we'd find them quickly. Now, where will they live once they arrive?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Home Rhythms: Bedtime

We're working on bedtime so much harder than we used to. Z seems to really struggle with fears, and we're doing our best to adjust our routines to become much more relaxing and connected. We find a lot of help from Nicole's suggestions on her own wonderful blog, Frontier Dreams. Soon to come is an Owl Bedtime Rhythm Chart from A Kid's Day. We'll refer to that to keep us all focused (especially with school resuming all too soon).
Our rhythm right now includes dinner, short play time, bath, clean up, reading/songs and snuggles. There are other particulars like teeth brushing, potty, getting water, turning on the turtles that make stars on the ceiling and nightlights, turning on song/white noise devices, combing hair and dousing ourselves with lavender water. Recently, we found them both Snoedels to help them have that soft, scented presence with them. We use lavender on them.
Besides the bedtime chart, we also await a CD called Sleep Fairy and a set of audio bedtime stories by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Becky Kelly does some beautiful art featuring children, fairies, little animals etc. Here are two prints that we'll try to incorporate into what we look at during our lulling times. Her shop has adorable cards etc.
Anyone have helpful rhythms for bedtime?

Home Rhythms: Thursday Tea Time

During the summertime, we have the luxury of extra special parts of our home rhythms and routines. One such time together is Tea Time, first mentioned here.
Using linens, my grandmother's cups (my great grandparents' among them) and a great grandmother's teapot, poetry either that we have or check out from the library and any manner of sweets we decide to try for our snack we make a little tea party. It lasts 15-20 minutes, but we genuinely look forward to these. They are going even better than I thought they might. We discussed today that we need to find another time for them during our hectic school/work week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Louie's Cooking Class: Eggplant Parmesan

Ooh la la, eggplant parmesan. Since Chef Louie has improv written into her set, I went ahead and did some of that myself. I peeled some epplant (the Japanese) but not all. I dredged the in (Dukes) mayo and breadcrumbs (Panko) and then roasted all that at 350 F for 30 min. Afterwards I layered eggplant, kale (lots in my garden), sauce and various cheeses (gouda, drunken goat, parmesan and eventually mozarella). I cooked it "a while" at 350 F. It seems massive and thick. I'll let it cool and cut it up into freezable portions so I can enjoy it a while.

Louie's Cooking Class: Tomato Sauce

My friend Louie can cook, wow! So I asked her to school me in some fresh, basic eggplant parmesan. We start here with the sauce. I quartered the random tomatoes I had and drizzled (gulped on?) extra virgin olive oil. I cooked them at 475 F for an hour--definitely HOT.
Like she does, I roasted other things there like jalapenos (for other projects). I added some garlic because that had to be in my sauce personally. :)
They were very soupy--I didn't need so much oil. I did my best to drain them as I worked with them, a bit at a time.
I used the best strainer I have around and the pestle for spices, grinding the roasted tomatoes through the strainer. Celtic sea salt was next, and I cooked the sauce an hour on low in the crockpot to thicken it a bit. Later I roasted some onions and added them to the sauce in pieces.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Media and Waldorf

We might not have a Waldorf school nearby, but I think families can still thrive with these insights.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Currahee Vineyards

I visited the lovely Currahee Vineyards for a Wine Tasting.
It was thrilling to find our that our small town even HAD a winery. So today I bustled up a little gravel road close to the highway and tried their current four wines. (They have a new one on the way in about six weeks.) They also had semi-local cheese (near Berry College) which was also lovely. The wines that I favored, like many people, were the fruity ones. We got a couple of "Golden Harvest" and a couple of "Sweet Cheryl." They're made from muscadines--how very Georgia/Toccoa. I'm sure I don't understand terroir, but I love that I'm eating/drinking local things.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

a few projects

We started brewing kombucha on Father's Day, and our first batch is ready. I have the "mom/mamma" carefully stored in some kombucha for the next batch. For a few ways to learn about this wonderful drink, check here and here.
Then we got into some whey coolers (this one has a hibiscus base which we learned from Lindsay Wilson).
Today was my first sewing lesson with Physh. We went over the parts of the sewing machine, made a bobbin ready and worked on threading the machine. We made a little pillow, worked on different types of stitches, an then made this little blanket/quilt/pillow top. Another good thing was realizing some things I'll use a lot that I don't have yet. I felt like Z saying, "I'm so proud of myself!" since I really did the sewing on these (with Physh's careful eye and planning guiding me through it!).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Indian Creek Angus Tour

Carol from Indian Creek Angus graciously hosted us for part of the morning and gave us a tour. We got to see a couple of herds, and they were a little shy of us. They were also very happy and healthy cows. We learned a little about various breeds too. We also bought some beef to hold us for a little while since Carnesville is about 30 min. from us. It's important to me (and makes Eric feel nice) to know where our food comes from and to know if fits within our values. We think it's worth it to pay higher prices for healthier, more eco-friendly and kindly treated animals as regards food. And we simply eat less meat. We do a bit more fish, less beef, chicken and pork.