Saturday, September 25, 2010

Soaked Whole Grain Brownies



After reading that there was such a thing out there as soaked chocolate coffee cake I had to try it for myself. This is a pretty good recipe. I liked it. My husband liked it too, although I know he wished it was not as dense.
Still~ pretty darn good for coffee cake or for brownies!

I have not tried this  recipe yet, but on the Nourishing Gourmet there is a wonderful looking chocolate brownie pudding cake. I plan on  whipping it up this week! Yum! I am hoping it is not as heavy as the chocolate coffee cake.

Below are both links. The Passionate Homemaking one is worth the ingredients and effort. I have a feeling the Chocolate Pudding Cake will be the same! 


Chocolate Coffee Cake from Passionate Homemaking
Brownie Pudding Cake from The Nourishing Gourmet 

These ladies are both so neat. I aspire to be able to actually create recipes on my own like this. I kind of went from making brownies out of a box straight feet first into the whole/real foods movement....sso I missed that important part of actually learning how to cook.......For now, permit me to pass on their variations while I work on my own to share !

Meal Plan for the Week

The Meal Planning Mommies have been working to set up a recipe index for our wonderful readers! This will allow you to scroll through lots of recipe titles and a simple click will get you to the recipe of your choice! If you have not checked out the index yet, please do! It is located on the horizontal toolbar under the Meal Planning Mommies Header.

This week I have some fun recipe box favorites as my meal plan.


Monday: Chili Mac
Tuesday: Homemade Barbeque Chicken and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Wednesday: Bubble Pizza
Thursday: Asian Grilled Salmon (recipe coming soon!)
Friday: Crock Pot Chicken Gyros (recipe coming soon!)


Extras: Lemon and White Chocolate Babycakes

Friday, September 24, 2010

Homeways: Setting the Table




I have just started teaching my eldest son to set the table.  It is a part of our homeways lessons for my first year of homeschooling. It has gone beyond "helping"Mommy. I have handed him the baton, or the fork for that matter.

After having him assist me here and there for a long time I announced that he would be learning to do the job on his own. We had several practice rounds over the course of a couple of days.  While we set the table we would chit-chat about life amid the instruction on where and how the mats, plates, napkins, and utensils should all be set.

Before I go to bed each night I set our breakfast dishes into a basket. If we are having granola, then bowls.  Eggs and toast, then plates. You get the point. I put everything into the basket~ down to the straws for the smoothies. Everything he needs is present in the basket. 

At breakfast the basket is waiting for him on the table. He must set the table for Mommy before any other activity can happen once we are all downstairs and in gear.  Our lunch (at least during warm months) is picnic style outback so we just help each other out.  Before dinner I do not have time to put everything into the basket for him, so he sets the utensils and cloth napkins out for me. He also puts ice in cups and sets them in place.  I had to move our cups and utensils down onto shelves where he could reach them, but the move was well worth the independence he is experiencing.


Here are my guidelines:

Set everything up for him, so that he can succeed.
Do not correct how he sets the table right after he has done the job. 
Do not change how he has set the table. Accept cheefully it as it is. 
Display gratitude for his efforts. 
Display appreciate for positive attitudes. And, require a positive attitude.
Use the time to interact, making his labor an integral part of the kitchen on-goings.
Several days/weeks later introduce new elements to help him improve his task. 
Let him set the table for every day family meals and when company comes over.

I am  working to raise a helpful, cheerful, human being with initiative and skill~ not a perfectionist....as you can see from the mis-matched plates in the above picture!



Our family is selling the very baskets we use to hold our breakfast dishes. They really do a fantastic job. They are fair trade bolga baskets from a women's cooperative in Ghana, Africa. They are made of elephant grass and goat hide leather. They are sustainable and beautiful! We are selling these as a fundraiser for our next adoption, which have just embarked upon.  We also use them for the farmer's market and keeping books/toys organized. They make great Christmas gifts! Check them out!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Meal Plan Mid-Week Change!




We have been participating in a Community Supported Agriculture program since early May.  Bit by bit this one food decision has radically changed the on-goings in our kitchen.

I still meal plan, prepare, and like to know the details of dinner by mid-morning each day.  Except on Thursdays. Oh, CSA day!

There is no reason to meal plan on Thursdays because we know that we will be dining on whatever bounty may be in the basket.  It is organic, picked hours before we eat it, and makes Thursday dinner a vegetarian surprise.

I do have fresh bread made on Thursdays to go along with our meal. Butter. Honey. Jam.

Otherwise, we eat CSA fresh each Thursday.

Let me give you an example.

Today the CSA basket was chock full of squash (yet again!), okra, onions, potatoes, green beans, turnips, radishes, green peppers, hot peppers,  cucumbers and corn.

The basket dictated dinner.

I shucked the corn, added some cooked wild rice, kefir, and butter~ and made a delicious corn casserole.  (I have linked to it for you. I substitute kefir for cream and I soak my wild rice in apple cider vinegar). I chopped some potatoes and green beans, cooked them together until tender. Peeled and cut the cucumbers and served them raw. We ate this with fresh soaked whole grain bread and a home made almond butter/honey spread.

And, now tomorrows meal plan is changed too.....because the turnip greens need to be used while they are fresh so I am going to make lentil soup with greens.  Frugal, healthy, and delicious!

And, we have enough squash preserved for the winter already so I want to use this squash up. I am going saute it and add it to some Quinoa for dinner on Saturday.

Okra is incredible for your colon, but we are not big fans of okra around here so I am going to chop it up and hide it into some soup for Sunday.

So despite the meal plan that I thought I was going to do this week, I am changing it all because of the huge basket of fresh produce that we received in our CSA today. This is the time of year that many CSA's are accepting sign up for next season.  I highly recommend the investment!

CSA's are more than just good for the environment, your community, and your body~ they are plain FUN to be a part of each week!

Check out Eat Wild as one resource that might help you locate a CSA in your community, ask around at your farmer's market, and ask around!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kefir!



I have mentioned kefir a lot in the past months through my posts. It has become a staple here in our house, once we adjusted to the taste and found practical uses for it that fit our family style.

Last week I discovered a few emails asking me to explain a little more about kefir.

So, hold onto your boot-straps because here I go....OK....so it is not that exciting!

If you like food with a history, then kefir will be up your alley.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that has been integral in the diets of civilizations for thousands of years. Asia, Eastern Europe, Eurasia all have stories of the origin of Kefir, ranging from the grains being a gift from God to lowly Shepard's discovering it in their leather milk pouches.

The milk is fermented with the kefir grain, which is actually a cauliflower looking combination of yeasts and bacterias.  Both goats milk and cows milk make fantastic kefir, but it can also be made with coconut milk, soy, and water.

Kefir can be made at home by purchasing kefir grains and fermenting the milk yourself. It can also be purchased at natural food stores and through natural food cooperatives. Currently, I buy my kefir (both goats milk kefir and cows milk kefir).  Making my own is on the to-do list for this year. If you are interested in making your own please visit the link provided at the bottom of this post.

Kefir reminds me of a thin yogurt. It has a slightly sour taste, that at first made us all cringe. I kept up with it for the health benefits and amazingly enough have learned to enjoy the taste. I use kefir for all sorts of things now:


~ Soaking Grains 
~ On top of my morning granola 
~ With honey, fruit as a substitute for yogurt 
~ In lou of "cream" in certain recipes
~ To thicken and boost our green smoothies
~ As a drink, snack. 
~ As a supplement for my children if and when they need to be on antibiotics. 
~ To make cheese 
~ In lou of sour cream 


In addition to it's versatile uses Kefir is a pretty powerful little probiotic liquid.

The organisms in kefir, truly making it alive (which is a very good thing!), fill your gut with the stuff that can help protect and heal the body.

Two of those organisms, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum assist with lactose digestion, get ride of undesirable intestinal microorganisms, reduce blood serum cholesterol, reduce colon carcinogens, and boost the immune system helping your body resist infections.

 Kefir.org is a website totally devoted to kefir. They also list these health benefits on their site:
* Regulates the body's immune system and improves resistance to diseases.
* Regulates the blood pressure, blood sugar and cures diabetes.
* Heals the lungs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, allergies and migraine.
* Has a positive influence on the heart and blood, heals circulatory conditions.
* Heals various eczema, all skin disorders and leads to cure of acne.
* Heals the kidneys, the urinary tract and protects prostate.
* Has a positive influence on cholesterol, osteoporosis and rheumatism.
* Supports enzymes production and heals the pancreas.
* Improves the liver and gallbladder, regulates bile production, influences positively hepatitis.
* Regulates metabolism, digestion and heals diseases of the colon.
* Heals colitis, diarrhea, catarrh, reflux, leaky gut syndrome, candidasis and more.
* Rebalance the intestinal flora and stomach acid, heals duodenum and cures ulcers.
* Produces its own antibiotics, eliminates unfriendly bacteria, cures internal and external inflammations.
* Heals lactose intolerance and provides full digestibility of milk based products.
* Produces own anti-cancer compounds, prevents metastasis, and leads to cure.
* Slows the aging process, smoothes and improves skin, hair and muscle tonus.
* Reduces anxiety, depression, increases energy and feeling of well being.
* Produces all necessary vitamins and beneficial bacteria needed for our healthy daily life.


My family feels good and we are healthy.  I absolutely believe that kefir is a contributing factor in our good health.  And, now I enjoy this substance as a nourishing and integral part of our kitchen. 

Right now I am purchasing both my goats milk kefir (which I give to my baby) and our cow's milk kefir (which the rest of us use) through our natural food co-op. Soon...fingers crossed...I would like to begin making my own. 

For more information on making your own kefir please visit these neat resources: 



If you have experience with Kefir and want to share recipes/uses let us know. I am always eager to find new ways to use kefir in my kitchen. If you have not used kefir before I encourage you to consider it, if for nothing else then use it for soaking grains. 
I hope this post helps answer some of those questions! 

~ Katie

A worn out stay-at-home mother's prayer...


Lord,
Ephesians 3:19 says that I can be filled with all the fullness of you. Filled? I have been just barely running on empty for far too long now. I got burnt out long ago, and fell into auto pilot...each day feeling like the same day. I tried hard to be productive and I tried hard to work so that my life would bear fruit, but I was on empty. I tried to give much, but I had little to give and the result was desperate frustration. If I am going to bear much fruit today, I am going to need you to fill me up first. Strengthen me today, through the power of your Spirit. Renew me today, and give me the focus and determination to carry out the work you have before me today. Instead of just barely getting dinner on the table, today, help me to be mindful as I joyfully set the table with a smile and love in my heart toward my family. Fill me up with you today, so that the mom that my children see is not tired and frustrated, but hopeful and strong.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ratatouille

I know it is a movie. In fact, it is the first movie that I watched when I returned home from Ethiopia with my then tiny Mussie. He is not so tiny anymore. He is growing, active, and hungry!

Between my CSA and the garden at my mom's house I wound up with a bunch of eggplant.
Add this to my overflowing drawer of zucchini and squash and the only choice I had was to make my own Ratatouille.

To clarify~ I am certain that to people who KNOW how to make this dish I have done it absolutely and completely wrong. I admit that with no qualms.
But, it was still darn good and I am pleased with my first attempt.





Ingredients:
Squash
Zucchini
Eggplant
Onion
Garlic
Tomatoes
Tomato Juice
Olive Oil
Whole Wheat Cous-Cous


In a big old pot I poured some olive oil. I chopped garlic and onions and added them into the pot first. As they were busy with the saute action I chopped up the rest of the vegetables. I diced them pretty small and added them to the pot. They cooked and simmered up really nice, creating their own juice. I added just a little bit of freshly made tomato juice that I had on hand from processing tomatoes yesterday. I also added some basil and oregano.

I let this simmer for over an hour on really low heat, once they had saute'd nicely. I served this over whole wheat cous-cous with a side of freshly made apple sauce.

Absolutely looking forward to to next summer and more of this meal! Easy, healthy and delicious!

And, for a Ratatouille recipe that can be made in the crock pot, go here.

Tip: Take the leftover Ratatouille and blend it in a blender until it is a sauce. Serve it tomorrow over noodles or chicken with garlic bread and cheese. One meal, two dinners!


A Challenge from Lifesong for Orphans to MPM Readers!

 

Kemah never knew her mother.  One day while she and her brother were sleeping, their home caught fire.  In a desperate attempt to save his children, Kemah’s father ran into the house for them.  After he rescued her brother, her father searched for Kemah as well.  That day, the roof of their little house caved in, leaving Kemah’s foot badly burned and killing her father.

Now orphaned, 6 year-old Kemah and her brother found refuge at Master’s Home of Champions-Lifesong Liberia.  Here she is gaining an education, is given daily, nutritious meals, and is learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Kemah can tell you that she loves Jesus and knows He loves her because He died for her sins.  Someday she hopes to be a missionary so she can tell others about the love of Christ!  

Wow...  What an amazing response to the Gospel from a young child who's already experienced more pain than many of us will experience in a lifetime.  But Kemah is not alone.  There are other children... so many children... who need our help!

We're asking for a monthly commitment of $28 for one year to help cover the costs of caring for 70 orphans in Liberia.  This donation will cover food and water, and other necessities, such as coal and kerosene, toothpaste, bathing and laundry soup, and hair oil.

A typical grocery list at Lifesong Liberia for 1 month includes:

- 8 bags of rice

- 5 gallons agro oil

- 2 bags of cornmeal

- 1 bag of sugar

- 20 gallons of red cooking oil

- 1 carton of cooking salt

Sometimes powdered milk and flour will also be purchased, but not every month.

Every 1-2 days cassava, various vegetables, fish and occasionally chicken are purchased for soup.

Typically the children at Lifesong Liberia will have cornmeal porridge for breakfast and rice with soup for lunch and dinner.

Will you help us feed and care for these children?  Children like Kemah?

Our goal is 70 people.  $28 a month.  One year commitment.

We have 17 commitments. That means 53 to go in just 4 days!

Join us in bringing joy and purpose for orphans!

Contact us at info@lifesongfororphans.org to make your commitment today!


Basil out your ears!


I planted one basil plant in a pot and somehow have wound up with six incredibly productive, healthy, and overgrowing basil plants in my garden. I have basil out of my ears! 

Let's face it, basil is a fantastic herb. It smells divine, can spruce up a dish, and is beautiful. However....there is only so much basil this gal can handle.

I needed a few good ways to use this herb and found them online. Thought I would share a couple of them with you in case you also find yourself swimming in sea of basil.

My Ideas:
Cut sprigs, wrap stems with ribbon/twine, and sell them at your garage sale!
Cut sprigs, wrap stems with ribbon/twine and give them as presents to neighbors and friends!
And, I am spent. See...I need help!

~Making and Freezing Basil Pesto
~ Six Ways to Make Use of An Abundance of Basil
~Freezing Basil for Winter 


There are also a few MPM recipes that use basil. Here are two !
Tomato Basil Summer Pasta 
Margherita Pizza 

Any other ideas? Share them!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Home Made Lotion/Diaper Rash Cream



In my pantry is a gigantic bucket filled with one of the most delightful oils in the world, unrefined organic coconut oil.

It smells heavenly.
It tastes terrific.
It is wholesome and nutritious, a powerhouse of good fat, antioxidants, protein and vitamins.

And, outside of the kitchen unrefined organic coconut oil makes a fantastic healing and protective ointment for your skin and the skin of your little darlings.

There are many recipes for making salve with coconut oil.  I created my own simple one and have found it to be a wonderful lotion for the entire family. Here are a few of the uses for our coconut oil salve:


~ Diaper Rash Cream, both in healing diaper rash and preventing diaper rash. 
~ A Natural Daily Sun screen, that protects us very well and allows vitamin D  to be absorbed into our bodies. 
~An evening lotion for the kids after bath time. 
~ A cure for cradle cap. 
~ For massages after a long days work. 
~ As a once a week hair conditioner for me, and a daily conditioner for my eldest son, who has lush gorgeous curls. 


I highly encourage the purchase of organic unrefined coconut oil.  Oil that has been refined is stripped of much of the nutrients, natural odor, and has been bleached. Unrefined is more expensive, but well worth it for both your skin and your cooking!


Here is my recipe for Coconut Oil Salve. It is so simple!

In a jar mix together the following. I keep a jar of this in our bathroom, my kids rooms, and in the kitchen. I also keep a container in my diaper bag. It is good stuff!



6 Tablespoons of Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil 
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Organic Shea Butter 

Mix. Store. Use.

Because of the coconut oil this will be runny if it is stored in temperatures higher than 76 degrees, which has happened here at our house in the summer.  Even runny we love it. But, on these nice cool days the salve is hard like a butter and it melts beautifully with body heat.

Some people add arrowroot powder or talc free baby powder, but I have never seen the need, although this certainly would not hurt anything.
Many of my recipes call for unrefined coconut oil. Again, I have a huge container of it in my kitchen and make room in my budget for it because it serves us so nicely in the kitchen and for natural cosmetic purposes.

I am a big fan of Mountain Rose Herbs Shea butter and unrefined organic coconut oil. Actually, I am a big fan of everything they have! You can also purchase organic unrefined coconut oil and Shea butter through many other online sources, food co-ops and your natural food store.  I have thought of adding therapeutic grade essential oil to the recipe, but have not yet.

If you have recipes like this please share them with us. We are always looking for good natural recipes that our healthy and healing for our families!



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Monday!

This week on MPM.....


Teaching your child to set the table~


Making your own lotion, diaper rash cream and massage oil out of a kitchen staple~


Grinding your own grains, why? 



What in the world is Kefir and why does Katie talk about it so much!?!
(That is me, apparently talking about Kefir with my head out the window.)




Kefir Soaked Whole Grain Double Chocolate Brownies~




What to do with Basil coming of our your ears~ 

OH, yes and the usual meal plans....afterall we ARE the Meal Planning Mommies! 



Monday: Soaked Whole Grain Waffles 
Tuesday: Ratatouille
Wednesday: Soaked Whole Grain Crepes 
Thursday: Raw Cheese, Pear and Sprouted Grain Tortillas
Friday: Potato  Bakes
Saturday: Vegetable Beef Soup 

And, my kids favorite snack of the summer that we can not stop making and we love love love~ home made graham crackers with apricot dip. 

 

Our Sabbath Quest



Let me throw something out there...it is not a new idea in any way, shape or form. Really, are any ideas ever completely new? It is brand spanking right off the lot new to my mind, however, and I want to share it. It is transforming.

The Sabbath is to be a day set apart.

That's it.

I always knew that the Sabbath was to be a day of rest. And, I probably could even quote to you that the Sabbath was to be a day set apart, but to say it and grasp it are two entirely different things.

Set apart. Special. Like no other. Different. Sacred. Intentional. Observed. Experienced. Held high. Protected.  Prepared for.....

Yep, prepared for.

I have two sons. They are boys. Boys's boys. They are wild and silly, full of adventure and mud. They are also deeply tender. If my eldest boys is not pretending to be a lion while climbing a tree with a pocket full of match box cars and a dirty faced grin (and the younger following eagerly behind with high hopes) then something is not right in our day. There are still times as well. And in those still times my boys have another need, a need as deep and true as their quest to be urban knights in shining armor. It is a need for affection.
My boys will ask for snuggles. Its a word used commonly in our family.
"Snuggles." I shiver when I think that perhaps someday they will be too old and grown to ask Mommy and Daddy for that precious time when we stop, we hold, we cradle, we chat, and we fill that cup with tender affection. Sometimes snuggles take mere minutes other times much longer.

Between being mom to rambunctuous snuggling boys I have a list of other roles and responsibilities, most of them noble.

*I am striving to be an attentive and fun wife. To give my husband the best of me and not what is leftover after a long and most likely wild day. To laugh with him, communicate well as dear friends, remain a lover, and serve him because he serves us each and every day.
* I am a new homeschool mom and my mind is bubbling with curriculum and theory and planning.
* I am trying to start a prayer ministry at my church.
* I work hard each week to buy as much of our food as I can locally and cook whole foods meals because I believe this is wrapped up in creation care and it is our privilege and responsibility as Believers to tend the Garden that the Lord gifted us with.
*I am trying to a good friend.
* I am researching the start of a community garden.
*I have this blog.
*I try to keep a clean home.
*I make my own just about everything. 
*Each day I try to live intentionally, to gift my children with creation, play, reading, service, compassion, music, and work.

There is more. Some not so noble. Each night I go to bed tired. Each morning I wake tired. My list of to-do's and hopes and somedays are scattered about on note pads all through out the house.

Sunday for me has always been a day of preparation for the week. I cleaned the house. I did the meal planning. I baked our goods. I figured out the schedule. I prepared for the week.

But, recently something happened. My heart was spoken to, clearly.

The Sabbath is not a day for preparing for the week ahead. It is a day to be prepared for. 

What if our Monday's, Tuesday's, Wednesday's, Thursday's, Friday's, Saturday's could be used to prepare for our Sunday's? If your Sabbath is on a different day of the week, simply modify the above question.

If a little bit is done here and there in preparation for the Sabbath, then the Sabbath can be a day of rest, a day to do good, a day to rejuvenate the soul, a day of family worship, a day set apart.

Even today my Sunday does not look like I hope it will in the coming months. This is a new mission of my little family that will involve all of us working together towards the common goal~ to follow God's command and keep the Sabbath holy. It is our understanding that when we do this we will be blessed and have more of an opportunity to bless others. And, if preparing for the Sabbath through out the week rather than preparing for my week on the Sabbath can lead to blessing for my family and others than I feel a sense of urgency to make it happen.


Lunch today is simple. Vegetables from the garden. Sea Salt. Pepper. Butter. We made some home made pretzels last night in preparation for today. They will go along with lunch. Dinner will be eggs and toast and fresh apple cider.

We are all busy. I feel ridiculous even putting my to-do list out there.....every mom has a busy to do list. Mine is minuscule in comparison to many of yours. I know that.  However, for each of us, there is one command that transcends differences and agendas:  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)


Because our God is imaginative and immense and creative beyond expression I believe there are endless numbers of ways to keep this command. Be creative in your pursuit. Do good. Rest. Worship. Love. Set Apart. Be blessed and bless.




 ~ Katie