Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sprouted Quinoa with Cinnamon Apples and Coconut

Since going gluten free we nearly always have a hot breakfast. We usually have eggs or our 9 grain breakfast cereal. Last night I had trouble sleeping and I laid here thinking of all the things I wanted to make today in the kitchen. I then remembered a breakfast I haven't made in a long time. I ended up getting out of bed way too early because of it. I just had to start it. I was starving. I started the quinoa soaking long before the sun was up. When it was finally ready to eat the house had filled with the scents of coconut and cinnamon. I like to soak quinoa instead of just rinsing it. If you have the time to soak it long enough for it to start sprouting it is even better. The flavor is mellow and nutty. This morning I made a huge pot so I could have some leftovers. The weather here has been cold and this is the perfect start to the day.

Sprouted Quinoa with Cinnamon Apples and Coconut

2 cups whole quinoa (soaked for at least a couple hours then well rinsed - this helps remove the bitter coating and any grit)
4 cups of water
pinch of salt
2 diced apples
pinch of cardamom
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1 cup of coconut milk
1 t vanilla extract

Bring water to a boil. Add all ingredients except for the coconut milk and vanilla. Cook on medium for approx 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat. Add coconut milk and vanilla. We like to eat ours with some maple syrup or agave nectar. YUM!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Quinoa and Black Beans

In my attempt to eat healthier, cheaper and with less meat I came up with this tonight. It was I think the best vegetarian meal I have had in a while. Ron liked it too. The kids.... ya right!

1 cup quinoa, soaked for several hours and rinsed well
2-3 T olive oil
1 small onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 t cumin
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups broth (I used chicken)
1/2 package of frozen spinach
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the quinoa for several hours so that the grain swells. Rinse well. Heat oil. Add onion and garlic. Cook until soft and onions are clear. Add quinoa, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add tomatoes, broth and spinach. Cover and cook maybe 15 minutes or until quinoa is to desired doneness. Add beans and corn. Stir to warm through. Check for seasoning and serve.

GF DF Millionaire Shortbread Bars

The original recipe comes from Karen at Gluten Free Sox Fan. She called it Millionaire Shortbread Bars The original was not casein/dairy free so I had to make some changes. I also do not use baking mixes so I created my own mix for that. I don't think Sage had even swallowed her first bite before she was mumbling "mom this is soooo good. I want some more." And Rori was saying "own piece mommy, own piece mommy" after I gave her a bite of mine. Here is what I did.

Shortbread:
3/4 cup butter flavored Crisco
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt

Caramel filling:
1 - 14 oz can coconut cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Chocolate topping:

3.5 oz bar 70% cocoa, chocolate. I used Lindt which is dairy free.
Powdered sugar to taste. (I used about 1/2 cup. Ron will say that is not enough but I like it that way)
1 T coconut oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease with coconut oil (or use a cooking spray) a 8 x 8 inch pan.


For Shortbread:- Cream the Crisco and sugars until just light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl combine the flours, xanthan gum and salt. Then add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Beat until it resembles a course sand. It should clump together when pressed between your fingers. Press onto the bottom of your greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color.- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.


For Caramel Filling:- Add coconut cream and sugar to saute pan. Mix over med high heat. Continue cooking for 20 or 30 minutes until it reduces, thickens and turns light brown. Pour the coconut cream over the shortbread and leave to set.

For Topping: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in microwave by heating for 30 seconds and then stirring. Repeat this until it is all melted. Once it is melted add the powdered sugar. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the caramel and leave to set. Keep refrigerated.

Lentil Cesear Salad with Pine Nuts

I whipped this up for lunch today and loved it. I am hoping this lunch negates my breakfast of peanut butter fudge which was so fantastic. That was a recipe where I can't find the one that inspired the final product. I will keep searching because it too is a keeper. Anyway the salad was terrific too and ultra healthy.

Dressing

3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 egg yolk *make sure you have really fresh eggs*
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything in a mini food processor and blend until creamy.

For the salad I combined one romaine heart, 1/4 cup pine nuts and half a cup (raw measure) of cooked brown lentils. I cooked them in salted water and I like them a little firm to the bite. I hate it when they get over cooked and started to fall apart and taste grainy. Spoon dressing over top, as much or as little as you like. Then toss it all together and voila lunch is served. Actually I added 5 or 6 anchovy fillets diced finely but I love them and no one else seems to so feel free to omit.

A Flurry of Blogging

A flurry of blogging here. I have tried several new recipes in the previous silent weeks. I never thought to write down what I made and consequently some of those things will be one time wonders. I have to make a better effort to write down / blog about what I do so I can repeat them. So the recipes that will follow on my blog are as much for me as anyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Belly Laughs

No explanation necessary.

video

For My Dad

My Dad just left this morning after visiting for 4 days. He drove here all the way from BC. He loves to drive and dislikes flying - hard for me to understand that. Anyway, we had a great visit. I think the last time we had a visit that long and unrushed was before we had kids. I was a different person back then. Actually, Ron and I are nearly unrecognisable from ourselves of back then. I think that if him and I were to meet that couple now we wouldn't like them. We'd probably hate them. We stood for everything that we disagree with now. So when he visited the last time we didn't have much to talk about. Actually he ended up leaving a day early. Since that visit all of our visits have been pretty quick. Short and sweet we'd say. So now jump forward about 6 years and things are different. I found that I really loved having him here. We have a lot in common now. I enjoyed just hanging out with him. We didn't really do anything and stayed close to home. I loved to see him with my kids. It is a very sweet side of him that I can't remember seeing before. I know he was always like this but I just don't remember seeing it. It warmed my heart to see him cuddling Justus and feeding him. He read to the girls at night and tucked them in at night. That made my heart swell. My dad loves music and brought along his mandolin. (He plays in a bluegrass band that I have yet to hear play, much to my disappointment.) Sage and Rori love music too. Sage would sing, making songs up as she went along and my dad would accompany her on the mandolin. It sounded great to this mommy's ears. Rori would dance to the music they were making and Justus watched intently and excitedly kicked his legs. I can't think of a better Christmas gift. I also enjoyed cooking for him. His favorite of the week was a Latin themed dinner. I have posted the recipes so that his sweet wife Cari might make it for him. The black beans and rice dish would be good all by themselves but we always add the Picadillo. I first had Picadillo in a Cuban restaurant here when I was in labor with Justus. It was very good but kinda pricey. Then I found a recipe for it on allrecipes.com and I have been making it frequently ever since (and for a whole lot less money). The original recipe was posted by a DarcyStarz7 and I have made a few changes that work for us. Now I like this version much much more than what I had in the restaurant.

Cuban Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans, washed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6-10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 T dried oregano
1 T cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili's
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
1 TBSP white sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper


Soak beans overnight. Drain water and replace with fresh water. Boil beans in water only for approx 1.5 hours until they are tender. (Adding anything acidic i.e salt, tomatoes, onions etc during the initial cooking process makes the skin of the bean more tough so it takes much longer to cook.) In a large pot add olive oil. When hot add onion, garlic and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add cumin, oregano, tomatoes and chili's and cook until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and cook covered over med low heat for another couple of hours. Keep enough stock in the beans so they don't dry out but not enough that you have a soup. Think thick stew consistency. When you are ready to eat you can remove the lid to reduce the liquid if necessary. Then add salt to taste, apple cider vinegar, sugar and pepper. Serve along side white rice.

Picadillo

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup chopped prunes
3/4 cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, drained



Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef. Cook and stir until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onions and bell pepper. Cook until soft, then add the garlic. Season with cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and cinnamon. Cook and stir for about one minute to release the fragrance. Pour the tomatoes and beef stock into the pan, along with the sugar. Stir the prunes, olives, capers. Simmer on med low for 20 - 30 minutes. Add vinegar before serving. Serve along side white rice and black beans.
Here are a couple pics and a video of my dad's visit. Thanks for everything Dad/GranDan. We love you!



video

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cooties and Houdini

It seems like forever since I have posted. We've been sick. All of us. Each more than once. It has been going on for nearly a month now. I am starting to wonder if it will ever end. When every one else gets sick I usually don't but this time I got it too and bad. I even went to the doctor and agreed to antibiotics which I haven't had since before Sage was born. I am a firm believer that a huge part of your immune system comes from your GI tract and if you take antibiotics and kill all those good bacteria then you are leaving yourself more vulnerable to getting the next thing that comes around. But this time I was desperate. I had a sinus infection that was so painful that my teeth hurt so bad that I couldn't eat. The silver lining of course is that I ended up loosing 6 pounds. It made me wonder if anyone ever tried to come up with a way to eliminate your sense of smell as a weight loss gimmick. I cooked yesterday for the first time in over a week. I made my 10 veggie spaghetti sauce. I also have more than a weeks worth of laundry and house cleaning to catch up on. Justus is sick now. He has a fever but no other symptoms. Last night I had to give him Tylenol every 4-5 hours. His temperature got as high as 103.3. I can't imagine how miserable he must have felt. I was soooo miserable at 101.7. You know, it really sucks living here so far from family when we are sick. Ron was as sick as I was and also took a trip to the doctor and got some antibiotics so he wasn't any help to me. I really felt like if I could have just had lots of good uninterrupted sleep this wouldn't have gone on so long. But we have no family here to help out. All our friends also have kids so understandably they need to stay far far away from us. Okay I will stop complaining now.

Houdini the Mouse has set up residence in our CAR. We were at home a couple days ago and Ron needed to get something out of the glove box. He opened it, screamed like a girl and jumped back exclaiming "Holy Crap! There are 2 mice in the glove box!" Sure enough, there was a mound of foam shreds, from somewhere in the car, all piled up in there like a comfy little nest. So glad that discovery wasn't made while we were on the interstate. Not only that but there was mouse crap everywhere! Dandy. How can mice crap that much? We saw one run out of the car later that day and since then we have traps set up in there. But that mouse is friggin Houdini. It keeps getting the treats out of the traps and tripping the trap all without getting caught in the trap. I am scared to use mouse poison for fear of it dying in there and then the car stinking of dead mouse. And Mom, I bet you are rethinking about not renting a car when you come visit!

Out of time again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cute Kid Quotes

Sage saw Santa at the mall so the inevitable discussion ensued. Why isn't he at the north pole making the toys?

Me: I think the elves help make the toys.

Ron: Ya, Santa has them doing all the hard work. Do you think he pays the elves for making the toys?

Sage: No. They do it for free.

Ron: Well, does Santa at least feed the elves?

Sage: No. They use forks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finally One That Likes To Eat

I don't have much time but I thought I would post a few pics and videos.



Here is Justus taking a bath in the kitchen sink. Seems very 70's, doesn't it? He loves the water.





We have also started feeding him solids. It is so nice to finally have a kid who likes to eat. We started with sweet potato. Then we tried teff cereal, avocado, peas, carrots, green beans and a oatmeal mix of baby food. I haven't bought any baby food yet and am going to try not to. I still had some left from Rori. He has liked it all but the green beans didn't like him. A couple days ago I made carrot and turnip which he loved and froze it in ice cube trays. I also did blueberries and banana. He has also started to sleep better. He now goes 2-3 hours. I know that sounds bad but he had been waking every 1-2 hours so this feels like a big improvement. I am going to keep offering him as much as he will take in the hopes that he will sleep better and better.


video


video



video

In an attempt to have good and green pest control we got 2 kittens. What were we thinking? They have found a new home now.

I guess that is all I have time for now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intolerance

I have been laying here trying to sleep. I can't. I can't stop thinking about something that happened today. Maybe if I write it, it will go away.

Today we decided to go see a movie or I should say movies. Ron took the girls to "Madagascar" and I went to see "Changeling" with Justus. We always go to the same theatre because it is always like a ghost town. I honestly don't know how it stays in business. We like that because we always have the kids with us and many times we are the only ones in the theatre or almost. Today was different. We didn't realize it was a holiday so there was a huge line up with tons of kids to go see "Madagascar". The theatre I was in had maybe 10-12 other people in it. Now I consider myself a polite and considerate person. In the past 4 years since having kids I have left numerous movies because of fidgeting kids or kids that won't stay quiet. Not only do I leave but I do it pretty quickly. I remember the days before having kids and remember how annoying it was to hear a kid crying in the back. So today I half expected that I may not get to see the whole movie. But Justus was so good. We sat in the last row on the side, right by the door for a quick exit if need be. I nursed him for the first bit of the movie and he kind of napped. Then he woke up and was just quiet in my lap. Every now and then he would let out a quiet coo but that was about it. I had just been sitting there thinking how much I was enjoying myself (since I never do this) and how well Justus was doing. He really is a great baby. Moments later some old crotchety jackass with bionic hearing got his diaper in a wad when he must have heard Justus fart or something. He gets out of his seat maybe 3 or 4 rows up and comes over to me.

Jackass With Bionic Hearing: "Would you mind if we enjoyed our movie?" (Dripping in sarcasm)

Me: "No, not at all." I wasn't trying to be flippant at this point. I was just stunned.

Jackass With Bionic Hearing just stands there all indignant staring daggers at me.

Me: "Are you joking?"

Jackass With Bionic Hearing: "No. I am not." And he walks back to his seat while continuing to glance back at me and glare.

I could not believe it. I sat there stunned for a bit. Seriously, a baby's very quiet, happy coo was interfering with his enjoyment??? This is so North Scottsdale. I shouldn't have been surprised I guess. I slowly packed up and left. I left because I felt like I had no choice. Had I not left I have no doubt that he would have created a scene. At that point I didn't care about his enjoyment or lack of but I was concerned about bothering someone else and honestly after that I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the movie anyway.

What is the matter with some people? How miserable must his life be that he can't enjoy a great movie because of a baby's occasional quiet coo. And honestly I do mean quiet. If I had thought for a second that he was bothering anyone I would have left immediately. Why have people become so intolerant? There just seems to be so much hatred, anger, self righteousness and general irritation here. I suspect it is because of all the money here. Have I mentioned lately how much I don't want to raise my kids here?

Thoughts? Comments????

And no, I don't think I do feel better.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Aspartame

Okay, since I am at it anyway, sleep can wait a couple minutes more.

Ron has been a huge consumer of diet sodas since he was a teen. By huge I mean everyday, sometimes a couple liters worth. I have bugged him about it so much he was just tuning me out. Then we watched the documentary "Sweet Misery". (I LOVE the documentary channel.) Since then, he (we) have completely stopped. Here is another one worth watching.

Okay, to bed now. I am so tired with Justus waking every hour or two it is likely that I won't even remember writing this in the morning.

Milk is Evil

I have been thinking in the last year that milk is evil and that it is really no good for anyone. I know that sounds really crazy to many people but it does make sense. Humans are the only mammals to consume the milk of another animal. When you think about it that way it sounds kind of gross doesn't it? I am not saying I don't like it myself, I do. I like it in all forms and it has been really difficult for me to avoid it entirely while I have been breastfeeding but I do, usually. Actually, it is really hard to avoid. It is in EVERYTHING. It is way easier to avoid gluten than it is to avoid dairy. (Try both simultaneously!) I grew up thinking that milk was necessary in your diet to get enough calcium. Turns out that isn't the case. I was allergic to dairy as a baby, my mom tells me and I was slow to gain weight. When switched to soy formula I gained weight quickly. But after that for who knows why my doctor told my mom to go back to cows milk formula. Anyway, as an adult I thought I was not allergic anymore. Then I had to cut it out of my diet 100% while nursing Rori. Then when she weened I started eating it again. That was when I noticed issues with it. Terrible stomach pains when I had it. Did that deter me? No. Of course not. The pain eventually went away. Now in hindsight I know that Sage was sensitive to it too. What I didn't know back then was that in order to see if your breastfed baby is sensitive to it you need to eliminate it from your diet 100% for about 2 weeks. It can stay in your breast milk and in your body for that long. Now nursing Justus I figured it out right from the very start. In my personal opinion colic = milk sensitivity. Since then I have read about many different symptoms of milk sensitivity that range from the expected "big D" (diarrhea) to anxiety, cough, depression and insomnia. Since all 5 of us in this house have some kind of issue with dairy it has led me to believe that dairy is evil. Then I came upon a documentary called "White Mischief". Now I feel vindicated. If you have some time (45 minutes) please check this out. It is well worth your time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Moroccan Chicken

There are a few recipes that I make over and over. Honestly, for chicken there aren't very many of them. We, unfortunately, prefer red meat but that is another story. This is a recipe that I found on the Food Network. We love this and have it frequently. It is easy to make but takes a little preplanning for the marinating. It is so worth it. I make extra so that we can have left overs. I guess traditionally this would be served over couscous but we do brown basmati rice. It smells so good while it is cooking that it is the longest hour ever waiting for it to be done. Every time I have served it to others it gets rave reviews. I have posted the recipe with all the changes that I make. It is possible that I am unable to follow a recipe exactly. I can't remember the last time I did that. This would also be good served with some teff flat bread which I am now making regularly. I am so happy to have discovered teff. It is my favorite flour to work with. Anyway, here is the recipe. Please try it. You won't be disappointed

Moroccan Chicken

8 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, zested and juiced (about 4 to 6 tablespoons juice)
10-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 large onion, cut into smallish wedges
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch half moons or chunks
3 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch half moons or chunks
3 medium plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup dried pitted prunes (about 10-15)
1/2 cup black olives, pitted

1/2 cup green olives
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper



Spice Mixture:
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In a medium glass bowl, combine the spice mixture, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the chicken thighs on both sides in 3 tablespoons olive oil, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set chicken aside on a plate. With the heat on medium, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, and saute the onion until golden, about 5 minutes. Place the chicken thighs on top of the onions and add any accumulated juices from the plate. Arrange the zucchini and yellow squash and tomato quarters on top of the chicken and tuck in the prunes and olives. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken broth. Cover and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Let cook undisturbed 1hr, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken cooked through.


Serve over brown basmati rice.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And Now... A Mouse

The desert has really been creeping in this summer. Last Sunday night when Ron was at work (this stuff always happens when he isn't here), I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something run under my bed. I tried to convince myself that it was all in my head. I couldn't bring myself to look under the bed. Instead I just worked on my denial and tried to go back to sleep and not think about it. The following morning, in the daylight, I got my courage up and took a quick peak under my bed well actually I made Sage look first. Nope nothing there. All is well. It must have been my mind playing tricks on me. (Whatever it was it certainly would have still been there, right? More denial) Later that night it was all a distant memory when Ron walks into the kitchen and turns on the light and then states quite matter-a-factly, "oh, we have a mouse." Damn it, my denial will never work so well for me again. So there we are chasing this mouse all over the living room turning over the furniture. Amazingly after about 10 minutes Ron actually caught the tiny mouse. It was sooo small. Being the animal lovers we are (as in non snake, salamander or toxic toad type animals,all of which can be unceremoniously killed as far as I am concerned) we put it in a bucket to show the girls in the morning and then release. Because the little thing looked so terrified Ron even fed it. Here is a video, just for you mom! (My mom is petrified of mice.)




video


Then yesterday morning I noticed some large coffee grounds on the kitchen counter. More denial. As my sister so cruelly pointed out coffee grounds are not that big. Maybe course ground coffee.... More denial. So now we have mouse traps set up in the house. No kill of course.


And in case that wasn't enough wildlife in the house we had several birds again. Ron had removed the patio doors to refinish them and 3 of those desert birds came in again. Cactus Wrens I think. There were bird turds all over the house. How can they crap that much in such a short period of time? Maybe that is where the expression "had the shit scared out of you" came from.


What's next toxic toads, squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk? Maybe I need to rethink getting a cat. Maybe dealing with all the cat hair would be worth it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ethiopian Night

Once again I find myself being grateful for the Celiac diagnosis. Not for the disease I should clarify but for the diagnosis. Had we not needed to change the way we eat we wouldn't have had such a cool dinner today. A few weeks ago Ron saw on TV a program that talked about Teff. It is a gluten free grain which happens to be really nutritious. It is a mainstay of the Ethiopian diet. From Teff they make a bread called injera. He thought it looked good so he went ahead and ordered 25 lbs of the whole grain AND 25 lbs of the flour without even running it by me and without even ever trying the stuff. I guess he has some confidence in my abilities in the kitchen. Anyway, it arrived last Friday. It is really good. It is mild and I think the closest thing to wheat that we have tried yet. So then I started looking for recipes for injera. It sounded pretty simple but lots of people mentioned it being really hard to make. I can't imagine why. Here is the recipe: 1 1/2 cups of teff flour, 2 cups of water. That's it. You mix it up and cover it with a dishcloth and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days to let it ferment. Then add salt and pan fry it like a thin pancake. Fermenting is supposed to be really good for you but I have never done it before. I started it Friday and we had it today. We really liked it. It was like a sourdough pancake or crepe. Along with the injera I made 2 other Ethiopian dishes. I have to confess, I thought Ethiopian cuisine was probably not much more than a timber float (glass of water with a toothpick). Boy, was I wrong. It was unique and wonderful. I was pretty impressed that I even had everything in the house to make it. Here are the recipes.

Berbere

1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon whole nutmeg freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon whole allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper (I have kids so used 1/8 t)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 cup water

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat. Do not burn; this should only take a minute or so. Set aside to cool. Then grind in spice grinder.
Combine the spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 3 tablespoons water in a small jar of a blender and blend until smooth.
Combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the skillet and toast over low heat for a minute or so. Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time. Then stir in the blended mixture. Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the berbere to a jar, packing it in tightly. Let the paste cook to room temperature, then cover with a film of oil. Store in the refrigerator between use.


Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Paste (Sik Sik Wat)

2 onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons Berbere
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 lb. lean boneless beef, cut into 1" pieces
Black pepper

In a large stewpot, cook the onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and dry. Do not let brown or burn.
Add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir well. Add the berbere and stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine, water, tomato sauce, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef and turn the pieces around in the sauce to coat. Cover the pot and simmer the beef for about 1 hour over low heat. Season with black pepper.


Alecha Wats

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons
oil
1 1/2 teaspoons berbere
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3cm slices
2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup
passata (tomato sauce)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 potatoes cut into thick slices
1 tomato blanched, skinned and cut into 8 wedges each
1 small cabbage cut into wedges
salt and pepper

Add the oil and onions to a large saucepan and fry until the onions have softened, add berbere, fry for a minute then add the carrots, green peppers, water, tomato sauce, salt and ground ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes before adding the cabbage. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables are completely tender (about 25 minutes).



As I said this was unique and very good. Even Sage ate 2 bowls. We made it fun by eating on the floor Ethiopian style and we were going to do it without utensils too but I just couldn't. Too messy. Traditionally Ethiopian food is eaten without utensils. The injera is folded in quarters and used to scoop up your meal. The girls got quite a kick out of this. It was fun. We will definitely do it again. I also have leftover Berbere so I need to find some more recipes to use it in. I feel pretty fortunate to have a husband who is almost as adventuresome as I am when it comes to trying new foods.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Green Eggs, No Ham

We finally got our first green egg today. We have been patiently waiting for this. I had never seen one before. They are sometimes called Easter eggs. Pretty neat hey?


We are supposed to have 6 different varieties of chickens. I can't even remember what the different kinds are but it is so interesting to me the different colors they produce. One chicken produces a twin routinely (2 yolks and 2 whites). That is the big one shown here. Anyway, enough about eggs. Things have been really busy here lately. I can't seem to find the time to blog or even to return e-mails lately. Part of my problem is sleep deprivation and the constant headaches and migraines I have had lately. I don't know what Justus' problem is but he has been waking every hour or two every single night for the last month. Honestly I don't even know how I am sane. Or maybe I'm not. I know that sounds like an exaggeration when I say he is waking every hour or two but it honestly isn't. So anyway that is my excuse for anyone that cares. I had good intentions of writing every day, ha. Maybe every couple weeks at this rate.


The weather here is gorgeous. No bashing the desert today. This is the best time of year. We are spending lots of time outside and it feels great. What doesn't feel so great is the realization of just how out of shape I am. I may not be obese but I feel like I may as well be. I took all 3 kids out for a walk today. Sage and Rori were in the double stroller and I carried Justus in my Ergo carrier. I was smart enough not to go too far. I forgot the cell phone (and my gun) so I didn't dare get myself in a position where I needed to call 911 due to exhaustion. About half way home which was all up hill I convinced the girls that it would be way more fun to walk the rest of the way home. When they got out of the stroller I promptly put Justus in. What a relief.


I had a busy day in the kitchen today. I made cornbread for breakfast. Not so nutritionally balanced but so satisfying. Then I set out to do the impossible. I wanted to make a pie. We haven't had one for so long. The challenge was this; it had to be gluten free, dairy free, and made from dried fruit. I should mention that I hate working with pastry. Like my mom tells me she did so many years ago, it always leaves me trying to refrain from hurling it against the wall. To add to my challenge, Sage was "helping". I am not sure if I am mentioned before but we grind all our own flours. We buy lots of different kinds of grains in bulk so we make and have just about everything you could need for gluten free baking. Back in February Ron was ordering a bunch of grains and he got a *little* carried away. He also purchased a bunch of dried stuff. I have no idea what to do with it for the most part so that is why I wanted to do this with dried fruit. Anyway, unbelievably it turned out. I made a peach apple pie. The crust was not too bad to work with and was made with wild rice mixed flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and Crisco (butter flavor). It was darker in color due to the rice blend but it tasted really good. It was even tender and flaky. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the way it turned out.

Dinner was also a self imposed challenge. I wanted to do a vegetarian meal that was entirely made from our bulk stores. I made a "stoup". You know, soup that is thicker like stew. It had white beans, dried vegetable soup mix (onion, spinach, carrot, celery, potato, tomato), beef broth, canned tomatoes, quinoa, fresh thyme and rosemary and garlic. We had that with the rest of the cornbread. It too was surprisingly good.

Well if you have made it though reading this boring post you must be related to me. So for you here is a little video clip of the girls.


video

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cute Kid Quotes

Sage was opening a new pad of construction paper and 2 sheets were already loose enough that they fell out. She was quite upset about this. She also had an explanation for it.

"Maybe some stupid little boy with a half brain this size (she holds out her clenched fist) did it. Ya, he had a brain the size of a pea. He did it!"

Where on earth did that come from???

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm Done

Okay, that is it! I am sooooo done with desert living. I am sitting here on my bed reading e-mail when something catches my eye on the floor beside my foot. Something frickin moved! And fast. Oh crap, I thought, it's a scorpion. I cautiously lean over, after hastily moving my foot, to get a better look. I can't believe what I am seeing. This is a first. It's a tiny salamander. How he got into my bedroom, I can't imagine. So now I am frantically looking for something to get it with. Right now I am wishing that my room was a little less tidy. There isn't anything laying around but a small piece of paper. At this point I don't even know if I should kill it or try to catch and release it. Maybe that is a moot point though, the thing just ran under my bed and I can't see it. Oh, this is just f&^*$%g GREAT! I am having visions of this thing joining me in bed at night. Why does this always happen when Ron isn't here?! My heart is racing and I am feeling near panicky thinking that if I don't find it and get it now I may not see it again until it makes babies in my underwear drawer. I grab a hanger and start flicking it under the bed to scare the little thing out. It works. Damn it is fast but due to my horrible adrenalin surge I am faster. I smash my tiny piece of paper down on him (so much for catch and release). I press ALL my body weight into the paper and hold it there for, I don't know, maybe an hour. I just know that if I lift my hand and that thing runs, I will scream and wake up all the kids and probably my neighbors. Cautiously, I lift the paper thinking that the blood I see on the carpet is a good sign. There he is or rather was. Nothing left but a twitching tail and a blood smear on my carpet. Did I mention that I am ready to leave the desert?????

A Few Recent Pics

I haven't blogged for a while. It's hard to believe but I don't have much to say. Or maybe it is more about lack of any time to say it. So until I can find some time here are a few recent pics. This first one is of Sage sitting on my bathroom counter begging for me to put makeup on her.

Here is Rori enjoying her favorite part of baking a cake. In all honesty it is me and Sage's favorite part too. This time I used a mix that I bought from Costco of all places. This cake was incredibly good. There is no way that anyone could tell that it was gluten free.


I just like this picture because it shows how blue Justus' eyes are.


Right before I turned on the camera Sage had Justus laughing so hard. Of course when I turned the camera on he turned serious again.


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Watching these next two videos makes me lightheaded.


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Chickens

Okay, Lisa had asked me to post some pics of our chickens and our eggs. So here they are. The girls are routinely fighting over who gets to look in what nests and who gets to carry in the eggs. Sage won this round.
Today Sage asked me to make her an egg with "runny yolks" and toast. She never eats the yolks. But today she did.

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I Want Some More Magic Potion

Holy Crap I seem to have created some kind of miracle here tonight. Ron is at work so I am home alone with the kids. Somehow I have managed to get all three asleep by 7:05. Better yet, I got the girls to sleep together in the same bed. I am in shock. This is a first. I can't believe I managed that. Add to that the house is actually pretty clean as are the kids. I read to them for about 40 minutes to boot! I also made a coconut curry fish thing that was really good. The kids actually ate. I have to say I am pretty impressed with myself right now. I figured that I better write this all down so tomorrow when the magic potion wears off I can remember this moment of shining glory.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pumpkins

We grew 4 small pumpkins this year. This morning I quartered and cleaned one. I drizzled it with olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted it for 30 minutes at 400. Then sprinkled brown sugar on it and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. It is really pretty good. I was thinking about making a pie with some too. But that is going to require some time. Until then does anyone have any other ideas for pumpkin?

Life in the Desert

It has already been an eventful day today. The kids got up at their usual early hour of 6 am. Sad now that I think sleeping in is 7 am. Since the weather is best here in the morning we went out as soon as we were out of bed. It was really nice because this time Ron was with us. Usually it is just me and the kids waiting outside for Ron to come home from work, or he is working outside. This morning was really nice because we had no plans or things to do so we were just sitting outside enjoying the morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the tarantulas were out. Yes, that's right. We had a large tarantula on our driveway this morning. These don't freak me out as much as the snakes do, not even close so I was able to get up close to get a good picture.



Isn't he cute? And the fun didn't stop there. Lefty was also enjoying the morning. He was hanging out with us just off the driveway where we were all sitting.

Nope the excitement didn't end there. Sage caught her first lizard. He was a tiny one again and both the girls amazed me by holding it. Not me.

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Ron commented that tomorrow we are likely to see a javalina, bobcat or god forbid a rattlesnake. Maybe I won't leave the house anymore...

Oh ya, and how could I forget the huge scorpion that Ron killed in the kitchen last night. I should have taken a picture of that too.

Crisis Averted

Well, I nearly had to move out of the house this morning with nothing but the clothes on my back and possibly even leaving everyone behind. It went something like this. The previously discussed captured snake spent the night in a plastic jar, in the garage, on the saw table immediately beside the door to the house. I saw it there when I went out to check the chickens this morning. The lid, without holes was firmly attached, I checked, from a distance. A couple hours later we had been coming and going and the door that leads to the house was kept open. As I went inside for the last time I noticed that the jar was empty. Assuming that he let it go I called out to Ron, "did you get a picture of the snake?" He answered "no, not yet."

Me: "What do you mean not yet?"


Ron: "Well, I will as soon as I am done here!" Him irritated with me thinking that I was asking him to do it now.


Me: "Well, WHERE IS IT?" The shear panic is rising in my chest. I am looking at the empty container with the lid slightly ajar, the open garage door and remembering how difficult it had been to catch it in the first place.


Ron: "What do you mean 'where is it?'" Now he is running toward me as I stand there in horror.


Both of us turn to Sage and shout "what did you do with the snake?" Poor kid had no idea what we were talking about. "Nothing" she replies in complete innocence.


Me: "Oh CRAP, oh crap, oh crap!"

I had to censor what I really wanted to say since the girls were right there. I quickly brought the kids with me in the house and closed the door hoping and praying that it wasn't already in the house. I assumed that Ron was staying in the garage to try to find it. Turned out I was wrong to make such a stupid assumption. I quickly got ready for my appointment thinking of the gravity of the situation. What if it is in the house? It was small, about 10 inches and the diameter of about a pencil. It could go anywhere and not be seen for a long, long time and during this time it would be GROWING. What happens if it is in the house and it comes out when Ron isn't home. What do I do then? Could I barricade myself in a room until Ron came home by stuffing towels under the door? Probably not, it was small so it could squeeze in if it was going to try and get me. There was only one real option: I was going to have to move out until Ron could find the thing. I tip toe back towards the garage, visually scouring the floor as I went, to tell Ron of my plan to move out in the case that he hasn't found it yet. Again to my astonishment I carefully open the door and see Ron continuing about his business of doing whatever he was doing when I asked him where the snake was. Me: "Did you find it already?" Ron: "I'm not looking for it. There is no way I will find it now." That's it then, I will have to move out! As I am about to tell him about his new job as a single parent I look down and right there in the middle of the garage, there it is. It's just laying there. Now I am probably screeching, "it's right there, it's right there!" I am already running back inside the house now to get away from it. Ron is shouting at me to get the camera and I am shouting back "JUST GET THE SNAKE!!!" He did and I did. Here is the picture of the evil little thing. It is kind of blurry because my hands were shaking so much and because it was trying to escape. Anyway, crisis averted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lizard Rodeo

Some days I would be happy to leave the desert and not return. Today is one of those days. Ron took Sage out this morning and I was home with Rori and Justus. I was in the kitchen when something caught my eye. A lizard. There was a freakin lizard in my kitchen! Eeewww. And Ron wasn't here to rescue me. Just like he wasn't here to rescue me both times with the blasted ants. I grabbed the girls "bug catcher" nets and started the rodeo. To my amazement I caught it without too much effort. It was tiny, just a baby. I was still freaking out though. Then the little guy JUMPED out of the net and ran under the stove. Rori and I were both screeching. Rori kept saying "me scared, me scared." Me too. I called Sage and told her I had a job for her when she came home. She happily accepted the challenge. When they got home the little guy was still under the stove so we had to just wait him out. Of course he decided to come out when it was only me in the kitchen again. I managed to catch him again and RUN outside with him in the net. Here is a picture of the tiny little guy.

As I sit here and write this Sage is outside busy trying to catch crickets to feed to the sand snake that Ron just caught outside. I am so unjustifiably terrified of all snakes I can't bring myself to go to even look at it. If they decide to keep it, OUTSIDE, I will try to get my courage up to go take a pic of it to post. I am going to have nightmares. I want to move home.....

Devilled Eggs

Seriously, this doesn't get old. I find myself going outside to the chicken coop to check for eggs several times a day. The weather is getting nicer here so the kids and I are out there frequently giving them treats and checking to see if they left any for us. It is totally cool. Even so I can't bring myself to touch them, especially their feet. They really give me the willies. Ron gets the willies from the eggs themselves. He is a little weirded out when it comes to eating the eggs. He says he is more comfortable with the eggs from the store and that maybe he just doesn't like to know where his food comes from - animal food that is. I said that if we were real farmers he would end up being a vegan. Anyway, today I wanted to use up some of our eggs. I should say that I am not an egg lover, as in to eat an egg all by itself, but I do a lot of baking that requires eggs. I am going to have to try to change that. We have 12 chickens (6 different breeds) and they lay every 24 - 36 hours. We have so many because we have never done this before and we never thought for a minute that all 12 would survive. But they did so when all of them are laying likely by the end of the month we will have more than we know what to do with. Back to the cooking. I made devilled eggs. One kind of egg I do like. I didn't know that really fresh eggs are impossible to peel. Therefore I didn't bother with a picture. They weren't that pretty. But they sure were good. I didn't measure as usual so I'll just post what I put in there.

6 eggs, hard boiled, cut in half yolks removed
mayo
Dijon mustard
lemon juice
fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

The lemon juice really added a little zip. Very good. Now if anyone is actually reading this and has some other good uses for eggs please let me know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tomato Soup with Basil, Spinach, Beans and Rice


Gee, I am on a roll today (but no longer in a good mood - Rori just drew all over our leather couch with a pen and I can't get it off even with the "lipstick and ink remover"). I made a tasty and healthy lunch. Again, if I could just get the kids to eat it I would be ecstatic. I used to love tomato soup, Campbells. But Campbells doesn't make a single soup that is gluten free. So I have been making my own which it better tasting and better for us and has no non food ingredients. Today I did my usual creamy tomato basil and brown rice but decided to amp it up a little. I added the beans to create a complete protein with the brown rice. I also added some rough chopped fresh spinach. I am determined to use up this huge bag of spinach without wasting any of it. Additionally the iron in the spinach and the pumpkin seeds will be better absorbed due to the acid in the tomatoes. Hey, gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian!
Tomato Soup with Basil, Spinach, Beans and Rice
2 T olive oil
1 onion diced
3 large cloves garlic minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cups soup stock
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 t dried basil, fresh would have been better
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1 cup cooked brown rice
pumpkin seeds to garnish
Heat oil in large pot. Saute onion and garlic with salt until soft. Add tomatoes, stock, beans, basil, honey and pepper. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. With an immersion blender blend until smooth. Add spinach and simmer for another couple of minutes. Add rice and stir until heated through. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds as a garnish. YUM!

I Did It Again

On Saturday night I made Masaman Chicken Curry with brown basmati rice. It is a Thai curry made with coconut milk, potatoes, and onions. It has a red or yellow color and is a bit spicy. As the curry was cooking I did the same thing with the spinach. I packed my food processor full of fresh spinach and pureed it. I added it to the curry. It turned it green and made it look like I made green Thai curry which is a spicier curry. Once again you could not taste the spinach. I think I am definitely on to something here!

Crepes!

I woke up this morning feeling great and happy to have the life I have. I chatted with my sister online for a bit and then went outside with the kids to check on the chickens. 3 eggs this morning. This just doesn't get old. It is so exciting to see these eggs just materialize. It is really cool. The weather was beautiful, finally it is cooling off here. So the girls played outside and I nursed Justus while we waited for Ron to get home. After being outside for about an hour we came inside for breakfast. I figured I would make an attempt at crepes. Crepes are something that I love and have been missing since being GF. But this morning I decided to wing it and give it a try. Unbelievable they turned out perfectly and I had no recipe that I was working with. Here is what I did.

Crepes

3 small eggs (yes the ones we got this morning)

1/2 cup sweet rice flour - give or take

plain hemp milk

pinch of salt

splash of vanilla

I mixed it all up playing with the flour and hemp milk to get the right runny consistency. I melted some margarine in a large non stick pan with rounded edges. I poured in about 1/3 of the batter and swirled the pan to get a thin layer. I let it brown slightly and flipped it. For the filling I defrosted some mixed berries and added some sugar. A couple spoonfuls of that, fold the crepe over and sprinkle with powdered sugar. This was really really good and still gluten and dairy free! I honestly can't believe it. What a great start to an already great day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sneaking in the Vegetables


As I have said before, my family seems to have a veggie phobia. Even Ron, if given a chance, could go days and days without a veggie passing his lips. Today I had decided to make baked beans. We really like these. I make them from dried beans and do it in the crock pot all day. They are really, really good and they don't have any non food ingredients i.e. preservatives etc. Typically we like them with, what else, wieners (yes, I get the hypocrisy of that). This is my point, not a healthy meal. Yes, there is onion in there but that is it for any veggies with this meal. Beans are great for you but there should really be another vegetable included in dinner. But I know my family. If I were to make a salad as a side, so we could get in our leafy greens, it would go largely untouched. My solution? Put the salad in the beans. Gross hey? It wasn't. I pulled out my food processor and packed it full of fresh spinach and pureed it so it was smooth. I put it in the crock pot at the beginning of the day. Ya sure, spinach is much better for you if you eat it raw. I probably cooked out a lot of the nutrition in it but not all I am sure. So how was it? Really good. You couldn't tell by looking at it and you couldn't taste it. I let Ron eat a whole bowl before I told him. If I had told him first there would have been some problem with it that he would have attributed to the spinach. When I did tell him he did admit that he couldn't taste it. I would post my recipe but I don't follow one. And honestly this wasn't my best batch. I got a little heavy handed with the apple cider vinegar. It had nothing to do with the spinach. Anyway, I am really pleased that I was able to sneak that in there without being able to taste it. I am going to try doing this with other dishes now (sorry honey, it's cause I love you!). I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

10 Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

My mom always made her spaghetti sauce from scratch. I didn't know any other way until high school when I was over at a friends place for lunch and she made spaghetti and used the stuff from a can or jar. To say that I was unimpressed was an understatement. So I too have always made it from scratch. Mine isn't anything like my moms at all though. My moms is great but since my family seems to be veggie phobic I use spaghetti sauce to load them up on veggies. I hide them in there. I have served this to guests many times and nearly always I am asked for the recipe. I do put ground beef in here but I should try it without.

10 Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion
7-8 garlic cloves
1 ribs celery
2 carrot
1 green pepper
1 small zucchini
1 bunch fresh spinach
8 oz fresh button mushrooms
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow/summer squash
2 small cans tomato paste
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 T oregano dried
1 T basil dried

In a large pot brown ground beef. Once browned put beef in food processor and pulse. This just give the ground beef an equally fine texture. Then return beef to pot. Add onions and garlic to food processor and pulse until you get a uniform fine texture but not so much that it has turned into a puree. Add to beef. Repeat with celery, carrot, green pepper, zucchini, spinach and summer squash. Do each vegetable separately in the food processor or you end up with a puree. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until softened. Add tomatoes. Dice eggpland and quarter mushrooms and add to sauce. Simmer for an hour or so. Adjust seasonings to taste. This makes a lot so I freeze meal sized portions. When I am stuck for something to make on short notice this is perfect.