Thursday, December 17, 2009

Perfect GF Shortbread Cookies

Christmas may begin. For me it doesn't feel like Christmas until I have had my mom's famous shortbread cookies. My mom made these every year when I was a kid. They were always every ones favorite. I used her recipe but subbed the all purpose wheat flour for my gf all purpose flour. They turned out EXACTLY as I remember them and my mom agreed. They are light, fluffy, fragile, buttery, melt in your mouth perfection. They are the way shortbread cookies should be. Once, I tried a commercial shortbread. That is not shortbread. This is shortbread.

Fabulously Perfect Real GF Shortbread Cookies

3 cups Kim's all purpose flour mix

1 cup of icing/confectioners sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 lb butter softened to room temperature ***This must be real butter, not margarine or shortening***

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Cream butter and dry ingredients. This takes a while. Add vanilla. Beat until fluffy. You may drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet ( I always use parchment paper to make my life easier) but these are best if you use a cookie press. In the pictures below I used a piping bag as my cookie press just died. Then decorate the cookies with maraschino cherry bits, chocolate chips or sprinkles. They are meant to be small and delicate. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not brown. This will make 7-8 dozen small cookies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kim's All Purpose Gluten Free Flour mix

We have been gf for 3 years next month. In that time only once have I purchased an all purpose flour. I tried Bob's Red Mill and I greatly disliked it. It had bean flour in it and I just don't like the flavor of bean flour. Everyone and their dog sells their own special blend of "All Purpose Gluten Free Flour." It costs a small fortune. I found that when I was browsing the internet for recipes and someone listed an all purpose flour mix, I would just click on by because I will not buy that stuff because of the ridiculous price. Then a couple of weeks ago I decided to create my own. No, I have no plans on trying to sell it. Most of them are roughly the same anyway. But I have to say, I was really, really pleased with the way it worked. I have used it as a 1:1 substitution for wheat flour in some of my favorite Christmas treats (recipe to follow) and it turned out EXACTLY like as if I had used wheat flour. That said, I have yet to try this in anything fried and I have not tried it in bread but it did work great in everything I have tried it for. So here is what I did for a very, very small fraction of the cost of buying a prepackaged "All Purpose Mix."

Kim's All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix

1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

I used the inexpensive flours I get from the Asian market. They are very fine and powdery. I just mix it all up in a Ziploc and store it in there. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Teff Polenta with Grilled Veggies

A while back we discovered teff. Not familiar with teff? You're not alone. When doing a spell check the word isn't even in the spell check dictionary. Here is some info on teff. We read about it's nutritional benefits and we were sold. Without discussing it with me, Ron ordered 25 pounds of the ivory teff flour and 25 pounds of teff seed. He has such faith in me that I would be able to figure out what the heck to do with it all. I just finished my 25 pounds of flour last week. It lasted about 7 or 8 months. I use it in place of brown rice flour in many cases and it is the base of my bread recipe. The seed, well that is another story. We use it in our 9 grain cereal and I have used it to make cornless cornbread (which was awesome and I will post soon) but beyond that I am not sure what to do with it. For lunch today I was craving something light and yet hearty. I was determined to use some of that teff seed. I whipped up something that reminded me of corn polenta but only much, much better. Have you ever had one of those meals that just makes you feel happy? One that makes you feel satisfied, not guilty, not craving, not bloated and just plain...well... happy? Well that is how this dish made me feel. I was able to get Sage (5) to try it and she liked it and came back for more. I couldn't get Rori (3) or Justus (18 months) to even try it. Oh well at least one of them tried and liked it. I loved it. I served it with grilled veggies. I sliced the veggies and grilled them outside, dry, with nothing on them. Once they were done to my liking I drizzled olive oil and a bit of kosher salt on them. They too were fantastic!

Teff Polenta

1-2 T olive oil
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup teff seed
3 T minced fresh basil
1 1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Warm olive oil in medium skillet. Add minced garlic. Cook on medium heat for a minute. Add tomatoes, teff seed, basil, water, salt and pepper. Stir and cook covered for about 15 minutes on medium low. Remove lid, turn off heat and stir. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and as it does it will thicken more. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kale Chips

I'll admit it, I don't like kale. Kale is that stuff that sometimes comes on your plate as a garnish that you quickly remove. Kale is that stuff that you see in salad bars that the salad is sitting on. It is a green, leafy veggie that is a bit tough and I think it is a bit bitter. So when I kept seeing other people blogging about kale chips I quickly clicked on by. But I kept seeing it and everyone raves about it. So, trying to be open minded I decided to give it a whirl. I made Kale "Chips". I am not going to bother to post a picture because to be honest, they are not very pretty and this has been blogged about so much by so many others, what is the point, right? I am adding it here so that I don't forget about it. Do you ever do that? Just completely forget about something that you love??? Anyway, stunningly, these are amazing. Seriously, they are fantastic. The first time I made them my mom and I ate an entire bunch to ourselves. I should point out here that she had the same kale aversion that I had. Then I served them as an appetizer to about 15 people. I made 3 bunches (or are they heads?) and it was all eaten. Now for the most unbelievable thing... all 3 of my very picky kids and my husband all like them (although my husband won't admit that he likes them, he did eat a lot of the plate)!! That is what I should have done: taken a picture of my kids devouring them. Now here is the best part; it's nutritional benefits. This is now a regular in our house. Making it is so easy that it isn't really even a "recipe" but here is what I did.

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale (washed and dried)

olive oil

kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Tear kale up in bite sized pieces. Toss the tough, woody stem. Lay the pieces out on a cookie sheet and do not let them overlap. Lightly sprinkle with olive oil. It would be good to have a sprayer for this but I don't so I just drizzled it. Then, very lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until they are crispy. (If they are not crispy and are still a bit pliable, they will be tough~ and then you just have kale) Serve immediately as a substitute for potato chips or the like.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Flax Bread

Here is one to put in the regular rotation. Super high in fiber and omega 3 and 6. It is grain free, sugar free, dairy free and obviously gluten free. I made this last week. I can take no credit for it but I wanted to post it with the changes that I made so that I could repeat it - often! This one comes from Elana's Pantry. Here is the original recipe. Here is what I did.

Flax Bread

1 cups flax meal

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 t salt

1 T agave nectar

3 small eggs, whisked

1/4 cup water

⅓ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a glass pie plate. Pour in batter and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly and cut into wedges. Great as a side for dinner.

This was awesome with butter and would probably have been great with some jam. I had to restrain myself from eating the whole pan. (with that much fiber, that would not have been pretty.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Celiac Disease: It's More Than Just The Trots

Let's say that someone in your family had a history of breast or testicular cancer. Then one morning you are in the shower and you feel a lump in your breast or testicle. What would you do? Would you go see your doctor to be evaluated? Of course you would, right?! You wouldn't sit at home and try to ignore the lump. You wouldn't say, "my breast/teste is too important to me so I don't want to find out what this lump is because that may mean losing it." That could possibly be suicidal, right? Well, Celiac Disease is no different. Untreated Celiac Disease can cause conditions that can be fatal. It should not be ignored. Good nutrition is the basis of health and Celiac Disease prevents good nutrition. In CD, even minute amounts of gluten (which is found in more than just "flour") will destroy your small intestine. It will cause damage even if you are not having symptoms. Your small intestine is where all the vitamins, minerals, protein, etc is absorbed. They are absorbed by tiny little finger like projections called villi. Celiac Disease flattens and destroys those villi making it impossible to absorb the nutrition you need to stay healthy and fight disease. Gluten will eventually cause disease, debility and yes, even death in a person with CD. CD is an auto immune disease. It is not an allergy, a sensitivity or an intolerance. It needs to be taken as seriously as cancer. It is more than just the inconvenience of a few extra trips to the bathroom.

I talked to a woman a couple of weeks ago and she was saying that her friend has a daughter with CD. "But she (the young girl) has so many other health issues that (the mother) just lets it (the CD) go." She said that the diet was just too hard and the child's symptoms weren't that bad so they just don't worry about it. I could not believe what I was hearing. Clearly it isn't completely the mothers fault that there is a Grand Canyon's worth of education missing in this family. That mother has no idea that most, if not all, of the child's other issues are a result of her Celiac Disease and just because she wasn't having diarrhea did not mean that it wasn't an enormous problem. The woman told me that this poor little kid has crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is so bad she can't even walk up stairs. It is heartbreaking to me that the mother doesn't know that RA is also an autoimmune disease and that it was likely triggered by untreated CD. Why didn't the girl's doctor educate the mother? Maybe it was because he didn't know. When my husband was diagnosed they weren't looking for CD so we had no idea what was coming. We were completely unprepared. The day he got that diagnosis the doctor handed him his biopsy results and said "you need to go on a gluten free diet, permanently." That was it. No further education. Done. He just got instructions to follow up for another biopsy in one year. When my friend was diagnosed this March, her GI doctor told her that "at least you can still have Mexican food." (I can't even count the number of ways that this is wrong.) Again, no education, no referral to someone who could educate.

The newest research says that 1 in 100 people have CD and that if you have a blood relative that has CD, you have a 1 in 22 chance of having it. Mark my words here and now: those numbers are inaccurate and the true number is much, much higher. Of all the people I know that have CD, they are not the only one in their family who has it. If you have a family member that has CD you NEED to be screened. Saying that the diet is just too difficult or you don't have the time to do it or that you love your bread or pasta or whatever too much, isn't a good enough reason to not get screened. You need to ask your doctor to have the appropriate blood work done. If he/she refuses then find another doctor. Some doctors still believe that CD is rare. You need to be screened even if you don't have diarrhea. Some people have constipation. Some people have both and some people don't have a single symptom and do not feel sick. That doesn't mean that they don't have the disease or that the gluten that they are ingesting is not damaging their body. It may just mean they don't have symptoms yet. When you do get your blood drawn keep in mind that a negative result does not mean that you don't have CD and are free and clear forever. It just means that you don't have enough antibodies in your blood on that day. That could change in a month or a year or never. The point is, you won't know if you aren't screened. There is a grey area or continuum in CD diagnosis, meaning that there is a period of time from when the disease starts to when antibodies can be detected in your blood. That period of time is different for everyone. So, if you have symptoms or if you have a family member who has it, you should be screened regularly. If you have any autoimmune diseases (Type 1 diabetes, Arthritis, thyroid disorders etc) know that autoimmune diseases tend to come in groups. Meaning, if you have one you are at greater risk to have another.

I wonder about the number of kids that are on the autism spectrum (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD etc). There was a recent study just released about about the incidence of autism. Turns out it is much more prevalent that previously thought. I bring this up because I am absolutely positive that had we not had the diagnosis for my husband; my oldest daughter would be diagnosed with ADHD. When she ingests gluten she has more behavioral symptoms than GI (although she does have those too depending on dose). She gets hyperactive, defiant, belligerent, aggressive, angry, sad and volatile. It is horrible to see and our hearts break for her when this happens. I wonder if we would ever have gotten a diagnosis of CD if it weren't for her daddy's diagnosis since she doesn't present with "typical" symptoms. Prior to eliminating gluten from her diet her only other symptom aside from the behavioral stuff was that she was small.

The previous mentioned friend had both her daughters tested and one was positive. Other than just being small, she had no symptoms. My friend encouraged her family to get tested. They did. Both her father and her only other sibling both have it. Now, I am no statistician but that does not work out to 1 in 22. It's the same in my immediate family. 2 of our 3 kids have it. There are many in my husbands family that likely have it too. His mother and her father, though not diagnosed, in retrospect likely had it too. They both died in nursing homes with atypical Alzheimer dementia with a long history of bowel issues and depression. My husband is one of seven children. One other has an "assumed celiac" diagnosis and others report symptoms but have not yet been screened. That's not 1 in 22 either. That is only a few examples of many I could site.

Here is a list of possible symptoms of CD. Here is a list of conditions that are associated with CD. Here is a list of conditions that are probably associated with CD. Yes, it's a huge list and like I said, some people have no symptoms at all because the damage has just started. Don't wait until you have a laundry list of those ailments and don't wait until you have cancer. If you have a family member who has CD you must be screened and your children must be screened. Screen now and screen often. And pass on the message!

****If you are the owner of a gluten free / Celiac blog, please consider linking this post to your blog to help spread the message. Help me to increase Celiac awareness. Thanks****

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

GF, Grain Free, Doughnut - Muffins

I am on several Celiac message boards where people exchange all sorts of information about CD. A subject that has come up several times is fiber. Apparently a common complaint among people with CD is that they just can't seem to get enough fiber in their diet. I can't say that I understand that. I think others must eat a lot of processed prepackaged premade food. Of course the complaint that always accompanies the fiber complaint is that GF foods cost more. I don't get that either. Ron and I were talking the other day and we were trying to figure out if there are any items that cost us more now that we eat GF. We could only come up with one thing that costs more. Pasta. We like one particular brand - Tinkinyada and it is the most expensive (but it is worth it). Other than that we couldn't come up with a single thing that costs us more. We kill these two "birds" with one stone by buying almost no processed foods. We buy a bunch of different flours/whole grains (and then grind into flour) and we buy them in bulk. Yes they are more expensive than wheat but because I make all our bread, muffins, pizza crusts, cookies, cakes etc etc that more than evens out. And thanks to CD we now eat so much better than we ever did before. We routinely eat grains that I had previously had never heard of but are real powerhouses of nutrition. Along with better nutrition comes more fiber. Lack of fiber is NEVER an issue in my house. In this past week I made two different baked items that were grain free, gluten free and sugar free and oh ya super high in fiber. Yesterday I made these "Doughnut - Muffins." They were so good. We ate 12 in less than a day. Even 2 of the 3 kids liked them. Here is the original recipe. I didn't make many changes but I will post what I did change.

Doughnut - Muffins

1 cup flax meal
1 cup almond meal (I processed 1 cup raw almonds in my coffee grinder)
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/4 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
4 packets Truvia (stevia)
2 T agave nectar
2 T honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
2 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin.
Mix dry ingredients well (exclude those used for topping). Add beaten eggs, melted butter, water, and sweeteners to the dry mixture. Mix well. Divide batter into 12 muffins. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Then (for the kids of course) melt butter in a small bowl. Dip a muffin top into the butter then dip it into the cinnamon sugar bowl. Tastes just like a cinnamon sugar cake doughnut.

Monday, August 3, 2009

New Picture

Life has been too busy to blog much. So for now, for my family, here is a recent pic. The kids love riding on their wiggle cars. Often they will all ride on the same one (always with Justus driving). It is hard to get a good picture of all of them at once. I so wish Justus and Rori had had clothes on. It's just too hot here to bother though.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Low Carb Chocolate Cupcakes

I was craving something sweet again today. Like I said before I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I figure I am only craving this because I am trying not to eat sugar. I went to one of my favorite food bloggers; Elana's Pantry. Sure enough she has a recipe for chocolate cupcakes using coconut flour and agave nectar. Perfect! Here is what I did as I made a few changes based on what I had in the house. I used some Truvia in place of some agave to help lower the carb count. These were AWESOME. I know what I will be having for birthday parties now!!!! Please check out the original recipe and Elana's site. She has some wonderful recipes that are lower carb, dairy and gluten free and organic. As always I do this blog to keep track of what I do in the kitchen so I can repeat recipes we like. I am not trying to take credit for someone else's recipes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 packets Truvia

Not so eloquently I dumped it all in a bowl and whisked until smooth. I lined and filled 6 muffin tins. Baked at 375 for 13 minutes. They look identical to any other wheat filled chocolate cupcake and tasted just as good. Elana has a recipe for a vegan chocolate frosting. I used that idea but used butter, agave and cocoa powder. It was better than frosting with icing sugar. I didn't measure anything precisely but I guesstimate that I used 5 TBSP softened butter, 1 T cocoa powder and 2 T agave nectar and whipped it all together. I put it in the freezer for a few minutes to help it harden a bit before frosting the cupcakes. Seriously, these are fantastic!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cookie Failure

Today I was craving a cookie. I don't normally have a sweet tooth but because I am trying to watch my carbs I was craving sugar. You know how that goes. I started out with a recipe and was actually going to follow the recipe, which I seldom do. But I barely got started and just knew it had to be wrong. Way to dry. Seriously dry. Like the flours wouldn't even mix in. So the changes began. I ended up with a chocolate peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. It was the usual: gluten free, dairy free and it sugar free (sweetened with agave). I hear so often from friends and family, "your such a good cook" etc. But really it is just about lots of practice and many failures. Today is a great example. FAILURE. These cookies were so bad. I gave one to Sage and she popped a bite into her mouth and started to chew. She then stopped chewing and just stared at me. It was written all over her face. "These are disgusting." I bust out laughing. I delayed chucking them in the garbage so that Ron could sample. At first he said they were okay. Then he took another bite and he says, "dry wall compound would go down better than these." Oh well, you win some you lose some.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blueberry Muffins (Coconut Flour)

Like I said, I am loving coconut flour. Here is another winner. Grain free, gluten, dairy and sugar free. Probably relatively low carb although I haven't calculated it out. I have already made these 3 times in the last week. They go fast. Again, they get the kid stamp of approval.

Blueberry Muffins

3 eggs, room temperature
2 T coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup agave nectar (honey would work fine)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, defrost them and dry them in paper towels)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with paper or oil. Whisk together eggs, oil, and agave. Add salt, vanilla, nutmeg, coconut flour and baking powder. Whisk until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries. Try not to mix too much or your batter will be blue. Spoon into 6 muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Italian Sausage and Garden Veggies

This is what I made tonight. We loved it enough to have 2 bowls and then be uncomfortably full. I hate it when I do that. The dishes were not even done and I had to sit to write the recipe down so that I could do it again. My garden is doing pretty well and I had lots of herbs and veggies that I needed to use up. Then I added the olives because Ron thinks everything is better with olives. Anyway, it was really good.

Italian Sausage and Garden Veggies

6 Italian sausages cut into pieces
1-2 T olive oil
1 large onion coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
10-12 small chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 carrot sliced
1 green pepper coarsely chopped
1 zucchini sliced and halved
1 yellow squash sliced and halved
1 cup coarsely chopped green olives with pimentos
1 large sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped
6-7 sprigs fresh thyme stems removed
3 TBSP fresh oregano
1 cup fresh chopped basil
1 14 oz can tomato sauce

In a large pot heat olive oil. Add sausages and brown the outside. Add onions and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add next 5 veggies. Cook until veggies are nearly soft. Then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 20 or 30 minutes and serve with pasta. Or for a low carb meal sub roasted spaghetti squash for the pasta.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Balsamic Salad Dressing

Since going GF I have become accustomed to reading the label for everything we buy. If you don't have any diet restrictions you maybe haven't done this. It's an eye opener. There are some things that have so much stuff in them that don't seem to resemble food. I try to eat with the thought in mind: "if it's not food then don't eat it." Over time I have noticed that my tastes have changed. One item that always has lots and lots of stuff in it is bottled salad dressing. I can not stand the taste of it now. The vast majority of them have soybean oil in them as a base. I really dislike anything with soy. I think it tastes funky. So I always make my own salad dressings. The variety and possibilities are endless. It is a fraction of the cost of buying it. You can make small amounts so you don't have to worry about it expiring. Then there is the whole thing with buying more things that will eventually cause more trash. Best of all, homemade salad dressings taste way way way better than bought!!! And it only takes a minute to make them. Here is one of my favorites.

Balsamic Salad Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of celery seed
2 tsp agave nectar
fresh ground pepper

These are approximate measurements. I never measure when making salad dressings. Just wing it and adjust to your tastes. Mix everything in a mason jar and your good to go!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beans Beans the Musical Fruit....

Every time I think about making beans I can hear my dad saying that little rhyme. You know the one right? Anyway, in an effort to try to eat a healthy GF diet AND not go broke we are trying to incorporate more beans into the rotation. We always have them on hand and while I have always liked beans I have trouble coming up with different and satisfying ways to make them. This morning I came across this site. It is awesome. I have never seen so many bean recipes. At the top of the page you can choose the type of bean you are interested in making and then your choices are narrowed a bit. There are so many recipes here, like 4521 of them, that it will be hard to choose. If it is good I will pass on what I made. And once again, I am grateful for my pressure cooker!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Low Carb Banana Nut Muffins

My new favorite thing is coconut flour. Do you know about this? I had seen a few recipes with it and I had seen it at the store but I had disregarded it because it was a bit pricey and I already have approximately 3 dozen different flours. How many flours must one have, right? Well, this one is a must. I started reading about it's benefits. When I got to the part that said it was seriously low, low carb and was considered a nut flour, I was sold. I ordered some right that minute. I got mine here. It arrived quickly and I have been baking nearly everyday for the last week. When I was pregnant with my first and third babies, oddly not the second, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This was really unfair. I have absolutely no family predisposition, I am white, and my BMI is on the low side of normal. My only risk factor was being old, 32 at the time. The first time I had it I even had to take insulin shots. That really sucked. I was told at that time that since I was insulin dependant that there was a 50/50 chance that I would become a type II diabetic within 5 years. Well, lately I have noticed that I just can't tolerate high carb meals. I feel that familiar lethargy and thirst. Combine that with that video I posted a week or so back about how sugar effects the brain.... Anyway, I have to change the way I eat. Even more so than I already have. So, I made these this morning. They are gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. With my calculations I think these muffins are about 9 carbs a piece. If someone comes up with a different number please let me know. Additionally, they got the kid stamp of approval.

Banana Nut Muffins

3 mashed over ripe bananas
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

6 eggs
4 T coconut oil melted
3 packets Truvia
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cashews chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin liners with paper or oil pan. Mix first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Then mix next 8 ingredients in large bowl. Then whisk in coconut flour. Whisk until smooth. Fold in bananas and cashews. Fill 12 muffin tins nearly to the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kim's Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole Grain Bread

I think the most common complaint about being on a GF diet is the loss of wheat bread. If you have ever bought a loaf of gf bread you know what I am talking about. It is hideous. It has a funky texture, you can not eat it if it isn't toasted, it falls apart, it has to be kept in the freezer and for all that you pay a fortune. On top of all that, it is nutritionally void. it is usually made of white rice flour and tapioca flour. Metabolically speaking, those are nothing but sugar. And fiber...ugh, none. Wouldn't it be nice to have yummy bread again? Well, here it is. I have been asked several times to post this recipe. It has taken this long because I was going to save it and then figure out a way to market it and then make my millions. ;) Yes, it's that good, in our opinion. But since I will probably never get to that here it is. The directions look like this is really involved. It isn't. I have just added all the little options and possibilities.

I have posted a revised simplified version of this same recipe. There are fewer ingredients and the result is the same. If you want to combine several flours for a varied nutritional profile then use this recipe. If you want speed use the simplified one.

Kim's GF, DF Whole Grain Bread

3 large eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil of choice (canola, olive, corn, coconut, grapeseed etc)
1 1/3 cup milk of choice - unsweetened (rice, hemp, almond, cows) warmed to about body temperature
1T +1 t honey
3 T brown sugar

1/2 cup millet,sorghum, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat (choose one)
1/2 cup second choice of flour - millet, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat (choose one)
1 cup multi grain rice flour, brown rice flour or my favorite teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup corn starch (potato starch works too)
3 t xanthan gum
1 1/2 t salt
2 1/4 t dry active yeast
optional add ins:
flax seeds
sesame seeds
sunflower seeds
add in a total of about a 1/4 cup


Combine first 6 ingredients in bread maker pan. Sift next 7 ingredients and then add it on top of liquid ingredients. Toss in your add ins. Make a little well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast in to the hole. Start the bread maker. I do not have a bread maker that has a setting for gluten free bread. So during the initial mixing part I help it out a little. I use a soft spatula and scrape down the sides and help everything get all mixed in. GF bread needs less time as there is no need for additional punch downs like with wheat bread. My machine allows me to program in personal recipes so I use the following settings:
No preheat
Knead 1 = 5 minutes
Knead 2 = 15 minutes
Rise = 60 minutes
Bake 50 minutes
Temp 340 degrees

This makes about a 1.5 lb loaf and I always used to make this bread on the regular bread setting and it turned out fine. I now use my own program just so that I can speed up the process. It takes about 1 hour less my way. One other thing I do is remove the paddle after the mixing is done. I just don't like having the hole left in the middle from it. I just wet my hand, reach in and grab it, then smooth the top down, filling in the hole. Just make sure you grab it before any rising has started.

This recipe is really forgiving. I routinely mix and match the flours. I usually make this without any rice flour as I am not convinced that rice is terribly healthy. Besides, if you use much rice flour then you get the typical texture of gf rice bread which I don't like. Depending on which flours I use it will alter the look and texture as well as taste. We like them all. Often the bread rises really well but by the time it is finished baking and cooling it will fall a bit in the middle which will create an uneven top. We couldn't care less how it looks because it tastes GREAT. My mom eats gluten and she loves this bread. So much so that the last time she came to visit I baked her a loaf to take home. I have been making this for nearly 2 years and although it looks pretty involved it goes pretty quickly. Recently I bought a loaf of gf bread because I wanted to make turkey stuffing and that was just more convenient. It was approximately $6 per loaf! And it tasted like styrofoam to me. I could not eat it. Not even toasted. And this was the only bread that I used to be able to choke down, best of the best so to speak. My bread can actually be eaten as bread instead of toast. (I could never eat the store bought stuff unless it was toasted.) As with all gf baking, it is best on the first day but it is still good after several days. You could slice and freeze to use as needed but we usually eat it all in 2-3 days.
*xanthan gum: if this is your first time baking gluten free bread, you might not be familiar with this ingredient. This is needed for most gf baking. It is what replaces the gluten in wheat bread. It's what holds everything together. When you buy this be warned it is kind of pricey but it is essential and it will last a long long time.
**gf flours are expensive. We have found a way around this to some extent. We will buy 25 pound bags of several whole grains and then grind our own flour. We decided to go this route since CD is a lifelong diet change, the grinder etc will pay for itself over the years. We either get the grains directly from the mills online or we get it from our usual health food store. Given a little notice the local store can order it for us and then we get a discounted price from them. It is also safer to do it this way as there is no possibility of cross contamination from those bins and scoops. We use this online company. On their site they also have some great information on nutritional values of the grains they sell. We also bought our grain mill here. They have several different ones available. Another option for buying gf grains is to go to an asian supermarket. The one we have here is incredible. They have every possible flour. They are also much much cheaper than getting those 1 1/4 lb bags of flour from your grocery store. The only problem is that they are not labelled gf. So if that is important to you then you could try online retailers as well as a health food store or grocery store but you will pay a little (or a lot) more for that certification.
Edited July 20/09: I have had several people contact me asking how to make this bread without a bread maker. Honestly I hadn't tried, until today. I was really winging it with the mixing times, rise times, baking temp and baking time but it turned out perfectly. Like picture perfect. So here is what I did today.

I put the first 6 ingredients in the bowl of my kitchen aid. I mixed on low speed for a few seconds just until it was all mixed. Then I added everything else with the exception of the flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and yeast. I mixed that for 2 minutes on medium speed. I added the remaining ingredients and mixed for another 2 minutes while occasionally scraped down the sides. I sprayed a glass bread pan and let it rise in my oven with the oven off but the oven light on. (Although here in Arizona simply leaving it on the counter is sufficient.)I let it rise for 40 minutes. I took it out of the oven and preheated the oven while it continued to rise.
I baked it for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Here is what it looked like. I wish you could taste this!!!
So, yes it can be done and yes it turns out perfectly. A couple other things I did with this loaf (yes, I am forever playing with this recipe) I omitted the apple cider vinegar, I used whole goats milk, subbed potato starch for the corn starch and used just teff and sorghum flours as the base.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nutrition and Behavior - Video

This video is fascinating. Definitely worth the time to watch. It talks about the effects of diet on brain function. Dr. Blaylock has summarized a ton of studies in this presentation. It really is making me look at food in a different way. Please take the time to watch and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pumpkin Custard Squares

I have 3 kids who seem to be living on air. They won't eat. I am so frustrated that I have resorted to disguising healthy food as dessert. I made these squares today and 2 of the 3 kids liked them. They are gluten and dairy free with no refined sugar. I am going to pretend they are good for us.

Pumpkin Custard Squares


1 1/2 bags of gluten free ginger snaps (process in food processor to end up with about 3 cups of crumbs)

1/2 cup coconut oil


1 29 oz can pumpkin

1 tsp salt

3 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cardamom

5 eggs

1 cup honey

1 14 oz can coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cookie crumbs and coconut oil and lightly press into 9 x 13 inch baking dish. For the filling mix all ingredients well and pour into unbaked crust. Bake at 350 for 1 hr 10 minutes or until custard is set and toothpick comes out nearly clean. Let cool and refrigerate. And no, the topping on top of the square in the picture is not dairy free.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Translation Please - Part 2

Here are the translations.

1. "I'm stuck!" This is what she was screaming when she had crawled into the dryer and got herself high centered trying to get out.

2. This is her saying her full name. "Rori Raine Sanders."

3. "I'm going to brush my teeth."

4. "I'm pooping now!" This was shouted at panic volume. I came running into the bathroom to find her standing in the sink with one hand holding the mirror for balance and the other one with a death grip on her bum cheek. She had apparently been applying make-up when the urge caught her off guard. Oh the indignity of being two.

5. "Chocolate milk."

6. "I don't need a diaper anymore. I am big now." She should really be saying that she is big again since this is the second time around with the whole potty training thing.

7. "Justus Ronan is eating bird poop." I had hoped that I misunderstood this one. But no, I went out to the patio where he had crawled and had been innocently, or so I had thought, entertaining himself. He turned around to look at me when I called his name and sure enough there was bird poop all over his chin, lips and tounge.

8. "Dinosaur." This is what she was screaming as she ran down the hallway to my room in the middle of the night. "hinasore hayseen me." "Dinosaur is chasing me."

9. "May I please sleep with you?"

10. "Kiya (our dog) is sleeping with me." (Hopefully Kiya will protect her from those damn dinosaurs that keep chasing her.

11. "Here Mommy, Boogie." Lovely.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Translation Please

A big part of my day is trying to decipher my 2 year old's speech. I swear she is working with about half of the alphabet, at best. She gets so frustrated in repeating everything she says, that she says it louder and louder until she is screaming it. I think she thinks I am deaf. Sometimes I repeat back to her what I have heard and she will say "YA!" (Ya, you dummy, that's what I said!) We often have to get Sage to be our interpreter. So let's play a little game. How many of these can you figure out?

1. Huck Me!

2. ho -e hane handus

3. me hus me heef

4. me poopeen now!

5. haucat heok

6. no hypa, me hig now

7. husus honan eeteen hurdpoop

8. hinasore

9. heepitoo?

10. hiya heepeen hit me.

11. heer mommy, hoogy

Okay, can you figure any of these out? I would love to see your comments with some guesses. I'll post the translations in a day or two.

It's Mother's Day today and as my gift Ron took the girls out of the house so I could have some quiet time (Justus is napping). This is the absolute best gift I could receive. There is NO gift that could be better than some time to myself. Before I had kids I hated being alone and had to fill in those times with phone conversations or TV or something like that but now since having kids I just can't get enough time alone. (Honestly it is a rare thing.) I used to look at those people who went to movies or restaurants alone and think they were pathetic loners who couldn't even come up with one friend or family member to go with them. I now know that those people are parents and they are loving that time alone. So Happy Mother's Day to all you tireless moms. Here's wishing you some peace and quiet all by yourself!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gluten and Dairy Free Pancakes

You know how it is, whatever you try not to think about is the only thing you can think about. That is me with carbs and dairy right now. I would appear to be on a quest to see how much weight I can gain in the shortest amount of time. But it does make for some great eating. I found this recipe in the magazine "Living Without." I had never seen this magazine before but it has been around for 11 years. It is full of recipes that are gluten and dairy free. I can take no credit for the following recipe but want to pass it along because it is so good. These pancakes are light, fluffy and moist - and dairy free!. They also happen to be made with nothing but the bad kind of carbs but like I said, I can think of nothing else lately. Besides the kids all love them and they are quick and easy. I usually don't bother with making flour mixes but since I have made these pancakes 3 times in the last week it is saving me time to premake the mix.

Pancake Flour Mix

2 cups white rice flour
3/4 cups tapioca flour
3/4 cups sweet rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 tsp xanthan gum

2 cups pancake flour mix
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1 1/2 cup milk of choice
3 large eggs
2 T agave nectar, honey or sugar
4 T melted coconut oil

Mix all dry ingredients well in large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined. There should be small lumps. Cook until golden brown.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Amazing, Chewy, Gluten Free Cheese Buns

Okay, call me a hypocrite. Last week after Justus weaned himself I found myself not breastfeeding or pregnant for the first time in 5+ years. It makes me kinda sad that that part of my life is over but there are some perks. It occurred to me a couple days after he weaned that I could now try dairy again. After that thought struck in the morning the entire day all I could think of was all the things I could have again. By 4pm I couldn't stand it anymore and declared that I was going shopping. I *may* have gone a teensy bit overboard. If it had dairy in it, I bought it. I came back with about 40 lbs of cheese, cream, butter, milk, ice cream, sour cream etc etc. The following day I made the most amazing lasagna ever. (I got that in the oven and then realized that I was going to have nothing to give Justus so I then made a gluten and dairy free lasagna for him. It ROCKED! I will try to post that recipe soon too) I still feel guilt over eating this. I am hoping to get this out of my system and go back to at least mostly dairy free. Dairy doesn't like me either. I get gut aches, bloating and my ears get all plugged up but these are all things that I can ignore until I can try all the things I couldn't in the previous years. I have to get this done and quick. My 20 year high school reunion is this July. While I am not trying to lose 20 pounds before then I really don't want to gain 20 pounds before then either. If I continue to eat like this I will be too embarrassed to go.

First thing this morning the idea of these cheese buns popped into my head. I had seen a food network show more than a year ago and I wanted to try it so bad but it has a ton of cheese in it. I found the recipe this morning and made my own version. The original was from "Simply Delicioso" and she called them Yucca Buns. Here is what I did.

Cheese Buns

1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
pinch garlic powder
2 egg yolks
2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
half and half

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl mix the first 4 ingredients. Then add the egg yolks and cheese. Using your hands, mix it well. At first it will be like flour coated cheese. Then add half and half 1 TBSP at a time while continuing to mix with your hands. When the dough is well blended, uniform and able to stick together, roll into eight balls. Bake for 15 minutes until very lightly golden. Don't brown them. Browning will change the flavor. Let cool for as long as you can stand to and eat warm.

I have to confess that although these are certainly not low fat I ate them with butter. Lots of butter and a little orange marmalade. They were so moist and chewy like a cheese bun should be. There is no way a wheat bun could be this good!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Best Ever Devilled Eggs

Being that we raise chickens, I always have fresh eggs and am always looking for ways to use them up. There are only so many times a person can have plain eggs for breakfast. Honestly, if I eat another scrambled egg anytime soon I will likely wretch. I don't make devilled eggs very often because peeling really fresh eggs is an excersice in extreme frustration. I have tried countless ways to peel them in a manner that does not produce an egg that looks like it has already been predigested and I am still looking for that magic technique. If you know of any tips PLEASE leave a comment. Anyway, this morning I tried again. I choose the least fresh of the bunch but still they were only maybe 3-4 days old so they still looked terrible. However, they tasted fantasic. As far as I am concerned they were the best I have ever had. They are just eggs, right, how good could they be? Try this and find out.

Best Ever Devilled Eggs

7-8 eggs
1/3 cup mayo (more or less depending on how creamy you like it)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 T chopped fresh dill (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a pot and cover with water. Once boiling set timer for 10 minutes. Don't overcook the crap out of them. Timing does make a difference. If you leave them in there too long the yolks get that grey color around the outside and are sort of dry on the inside, ick! After 10 minutes drain, crack shells by jiggling the pot back and forth, and cover with ice water. Peel (or try to). Cut in half, pop the yolks out into a small dish. Combine all remaining ingredients with yolks and mash together until creamy. Check for seasoning and then refill the egg white halves. If you want them to look prettier you can sprinkle with paprika but I can't be bothered. I also didn't bother with a picture since mine are never pretty. Fresh and yummy, yes. Pretty, no.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Boy, they sure do learn to lie at an early age don't they. This afternoon Justus was in his walker minding his own business while the girls were playing dress up in my shoes. All was well until Ron and I heard Justus let out a scream. You know that scream that says "I'm really hurt!" Ron goes running over there and Rori is standing beside Justus with a pair of my shoes, with heels, in each hand. We ask her "why is Justus crying." She responds "I don't know." We ask "did you hit him?" She says "No." We ask "did you hurt him." Straight faced she says "no." We ask "did the shoe hit him." (We were hoping she would take the bait and admit that it was the shoe that hit him, not her.) Again she says "no." A few minutes later when Justus had calmed down, Rori's lie became apparent, literally. The shoe had left a heel print in his forehead.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wicked Good, No Guilt, Kid Loving, Whole Grain Breakfast Cookies

Since I have gone back to work Ron is having to step up and be Mr. Mom on those days. He is really doing a great job. However, he does hate to cook. His idea of nutrition and mine are very different. He will give the kids meals based on it's ability to get them to stop saying "I'm hungry." I offered to give him some suggestions to make it easier to decide and I even have stuff in the fridge and freezer that would be easy to get together quickly. I had another idea this morning. What if I made something healthy that the kids would like so much they would ask for it and there would be no preparation or planning necessary? Breakfast cookies! I just whipped these up with the girls and the second batch is already in the oven. Rori who usually senses when something might be good for her and then will subsequently reject, it has already asked for seconds, as has Sage. Even Justus could eat these. They are whole grain and have no refined sugar. Of course they are gluten and dairy free, as always. These are downright healthy, guilt free "cookies".

Breakfast Cookies

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 millet flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup teff seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup flax seeds
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
3 very ripe mashed bananas
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 TBS vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Combine all dry ingredients
2. Combine all wet ingredients
3. Mix all together and add chocolate chips if you wish. (Difficult stuff, hey!)
4. The dough is very thick and muffin like. Scoop large tablespoon balls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 13 minutes at 350 degrees or until the edges are starting to brown.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cesear Salad Dressing

I love this time of year in Arizona. It makes me feel like I am living in paradise. My family in Canada are still dealing with snow and cold and here I am harvesting from my garden. I will savor it because during the summer it feels like hell and is just as hot. My garden is coming along really well. Last night I made a Thai noodle dish with chicken and broccoli. The broccoli was right from the garden. It was awesome. My lettuce is also doing really well. It is growing faster than I can eat it. So I have been eating a lot of salads lately. Even Sage is loving the lettuce. She routinely has a fistful of it and eats it just plain. Rori on the other hand... If it is green she won't even try it. Anyway, here is the salad that I have been eating nearly daily. I never buy salad dressings anymore. They are gross. Nearly all of them. Ever look at the ingredients on those dressings? Ick! It is so easy to make your own. This is my favorite. It is a cesear dressing but I put it on regular leaf lettuce from my garden.

Cesear Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
3 anchovy fillets
1 T Dijon mustard
1 raw egg yolk (make sure it is fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything into a blender or mini food processor and blend until smooth. Lightly dress salad and top with whatever you like. My personal favorites lately have been pine nuts and black olives!

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Pics

I have been so uninspired in the kitchen lately. I don't know what is the matter with me. Anyone have any ideas? Please send any suggestions my way. Until then, pictures for my family. It occured to me the other day that we have been really bad about taking pictures of the kids. When Sage was a baby we took so many pictures. There were fewer of Rori at the same age and now with Justus... Yikes. Poor guy. We've got nothing, almost nothing. Here's what we do have for recent kids pics.

More of Justus eating. He really does do more than eat although pictures would seem to prove otherwise. In case you noticed the hideously dirty windows in the background, we can thank the girls for that. They were "helping" me wash windows. And now I have a real job of it...

Here is Justus on the swing at the park, 9 months old.

Rori, dirty face and all, in the dryer. This time I was lucky enough to find her in her diaper. The last time I found her in the drier she had taken her diaper off and then had trouble getting out of the drier when she needed to pee. So, she peed in the drier. Lovely.

This last one I took today. I don't know if it is my computer but it kinda looks like Justus may have some liver failure going on as he looks jaundiced next to Sage who is so pale. He's fine. He is just tanned. We have been spending a lot of time outside lately. But now that it is rattlesnake season that is likely to change.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Parent

The juice from blueberries can be used as a wood or clothing dye. Make sure you get it right the first time because there is no correcting of mistakes. Rori has used this dying technique for several items with terrific (and permanent) results. For example, her baby doll. It is now a beauitful shade of purpley blue, head to toe. Despite me trying to correct the dye job in the washing machine, her baby is still purple. When blueberries are used to dye fingers, nails and lips it is also very effective although slightly less permanent with effects lasting only a week or two. If smeared onto unfinished wood it produces a gorgeous swirling blue/purple that absolutely will not fade no matter what you do to it.

I should find a way to market this dye.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Death and Geography

Well, it has been a crappy, crappy week to say the least. I got a call from my mom last Thursday night saying that my Grandpa was in the hospital again and not expected to live through the weekend. He has been in and out of the hospital for last 6 weeks with some regularity. I booked my flight immediately and left less than 24 hours later. I arrived in the small town hospital at about 4am with my 9 month old baby in tow. Grandpa was finally sleeping comfortably so I didn't wake him. I was back at the hospital the next afternoon and he was sleeping again. I waited with my entire family for him to wake up. He did, sort of. He knew who I was and who Justus was but it was really difficult for him to stay awake. He fought really hard to stay awake and visit and play with Justus. Finally, I hugged him and told him I loved him and said I would be back the next day. That was the last time I saw him alive. He died the next day, peacefully, surrounded with family and his best friend of 80 years. I arrived a couple of minutes after he passed. He finally looked peaceful. For him, I am glad that his struggle is over but for the rest of us, this sucks. I am so thankful that I was there for my mom and got to see him one more time. My last memory of him will be of him playing with Justus, making his silly faces at him, holding his hand, and making those funny noises he made when he played with babies. Right up until the end he was being a jokester. The day before he died he was sleeping intermittently and was kept company with a long line of loved ones. At one point he woke up to see several of the men in the family in the room along with my cousin Stacey. This group of people is particularly squeamish about anything medical. (Actually my cousin Chais said that just being in the room with that catheter was freaking him out.) Anyway, sensing his audience, he leans over to Yvonne (the wonderful lady who loved him and took care of him for years, never leaving his side) and says "I have to go to the bathroom." That apparently resulted in a stampede toward the door. I can just envision them all elbowing each other in an effort to get out the door as quickly as possible. Then Grandpa says "can't you tell when I am bullshitting you?" The last practical joke and it couldn't have been more perfect.

The funeral is tomorrow, Friday the 13th. I came home yesterday. I am really, really disappointed that I can't be there both for me and for my mom. I feel like I live a world away at times like this. My family will say goodbye and the grieving and adjustments to the huge vacant spot in our family will begin. But for me it feels sort of surreal. I am so separated and so busy with my life, grieving is different. After my Grandma died 9 years ago I felt this way. I thought about her a lot but she wasn't a part of my daily activities so it didn't feel real. Then the next time I went home and there was a big family gathering it finally sunk in. She wasn't there. I spent the entire day choking back tears. My family had already done this. It wasn't their first time. For me it was like she had just died. I expect it will be the same again. So tomorrow my family will gather to say goodbye, my cousin Jodi will give the amazing eulogy she wrote and I will be here, a world away.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Busy in the Kitchen Again

I have been busy the last couple of days in the kitchen. I wish I could say that I had recipes to post but I haven't been feeling too inspired. I did however make an unbelievably great beef stew last night. It was the best stew I have ever had. Ron however hated it. Why? you may ask. It had red wine in it. I wish I hadn't told him that there was wine in it because I am sure he wouldn't have known. He would say otherwise though. I coated the beef in rice flour and salt and pepper, browned it in olive oil with onion and lots of garlic. Then I simmered it in mostly red wine and some beef stock and several sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme. When it was tender I added big chunks of sweet potatoe, carrots, lots of quartered mushrooms, peas, and potaotes. It was so good I ate until I hurt. (Hmmm, why do I wonder why I am gaining weight?) As much as I loved it he hated it so I won't be able to make that again without lots of grumbling on his part. And since I love to cook for him I guess that means there is no point.... Damn!

This morning I had lots of bananas to use up so found a recipe on a favorite bloggers recipe list that used a full cup of raw almonds processed in the food processor and 4 bananas. Even the batter was good as the girls and I ate nearly as much of that as went into the oven. You can check out the recipe here. Scroll down to the Banana Spice Cupcakes. These were absolutely fantasic - and I didn't change a thing which never happens.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back to Work

So last week I went back to work. During orientation I have to work full time. I worked three 12 hour shifts in a row. This time I am working day shift which is 7am to 7:30pm. Honestly, this week was ROUGH. For us all. Justus is still breastfeeding and since I wasn't around all day he had to make up for it at night so he woke every hour or less. This meant I was up at 4:15 for 3 days in a row and got to bed at 9:30 or 10:00. Starting a new job is always a little stressful in that there is so much to learn so by about 3pm I was on brain overload. I got home exhausted but missing my family terribly. I haven't ever been away from my kids for more than a couple of hours. As hard as it was for me, I think it was probably harder on Ron. He has never had all three kids to himself for more than a couple hours also. Additionally, Justus is teething and not used to not nursing throughout the day. I called him at 1pm the first day to see how it was going and there was a long pause before he said, "I am not cut out to be a stay at home dad." Uh-oh, we had just started. When I had got home all three kids were still up (which is nearly 2 hours past their bed times). I was stunned to see that the house was spotless and that the laundry was done. Not only that, he had taken all 3 out of the house, took them to the park, done the grocery shopping and did some clothes shopping for the kids. Now, that was brave. I HATE taking the kids out alone. Ron on the other hand can't stand to stay at home all day. He ended up taking them out for several hours each day. Unbelievable. When I got home on day two i think I walked in to the smell of PineSol. I was about to be soooo impressed although a little perplexed since he washed and vacuumed the floors the day before. Yes, he had been scrubbing the floors but it was not for routine cleaning. One look at his face told me there was a story. The toilet had become plugged and in the short few steps it took him to get the plunger, Rori flushed the toilet and caused it to overflow nastiness all over the bathroom floor. I am so glad I missed that one. Another of the weeks highlights, was Kiya our dog, chewing up a poopy diaper and spreading it all over my bedroom, then running off (she knew Ron was unhappy with her) and going missing for many hours. We found her when I got home. She had come home and was hiding in a closet upstairs. The poor thing was covered in cactus needles. It looked like she had lost a wrestling match with a cholla. So I spent the next hour plucking needles from her while she cried and bled. It was terrible.

Anyways, it was a long week. I am completely exhausted and really behind on catching up with friends and family. (Which is why I am posting this.) Oh, and why have I gone back to work, a few people have asked? Well, the hospital that I wanted to work for, like all other hospitals was hiring very very few nurses. I had wanted to wait until Justus was a year old before going back but when I saw the exact job that I wanted on their web site, with the right number of hours and the right shift I felt like I couldn't not apply for it since it may be a long time until that comes along again. So I applied and got it. I will be working on call, maybe 4 shifts a month. The extra money will be nice but the reason I needed to go back sooner rather than much later was that I have been so inactive that I needed to work some hours in order to maintain my licence. So there's the story!


Here is the dish we always have with the Cuban Black Beans. Nothing compares to it. Total comfort food. Definitely a must try!!


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.

Cuban Black Beans

There are some dinners that I make over and over again. This is one of them. I serve it with the Picadillo. I have served it to guests several times and am always asked for the recipe. I have also started to use the pressure cooker to do the initial cooking of the beans which works well. Here is the recipe without the pressure cooker.

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 or vegetable 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.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm Back!

It has been a long time since I have posted. Life seems to be getting even busier. There are so many things I think about that I want to write about that it brings on a complete catatonia. So I figure I just need to write whenever I get these ideas and forget about making sure it is worded just right etc etc.

Lots has happened since I last posted. Of most important, my sister and her daughter visited for a week at the beginning of February. It was so great to have them here. Besides the fact that 6 out of the 7 of us were sick at some point in the visit it was still so worth it. My sister and I are so different and like she said, we were not ever really close until we had kids. She may be my baby sister but I look up to her in a lot of ways. She is strong where I am weak. She is incredibly disciplined, athletic, creative, artistic, brave and driven. She has an amazing sense of humor and still knows how to have fun (something that I sometimes forget how to do.) I think it is so great that we in many ways are different but there is no one else I would rather hang out with. I am hoping to go home to Alberta this summer for 6 weeks and I greatly look forward to spending some time with her and her family.

I have also gone back to work. It is great to be a nurse, really. I hadn't planned to go back until Justus was a year old but the right job came along so I had to apply for it. I got it and started this past week. It will be a huge adjustment for us all. I have never been apart from my kids for more than a couple hours at a time. Ron had never been the sole parent for more than a couple hours at a time. This past week I did 8 hour days and we all survived. Ron did amazingly well but I think he is now a little more appreciative of what I have been doing for the last 9 months. I expect to work maybe one or two 12 hour shifts a week. The extra cash will be nice but I needed to do it more to keep my license current as I have been pretty inactive for the last 5 years.

The girls seem to be outgrowing their dairy sensitivity. So Ron has been bringing it into the house. Justus is still terribly sensitive and since I am still breastfeeding it is still entirely off limits for me. I think Ron is trying to torture me. Yesterday he brought home 2 differently kinds of good quality ice cream. It's killing me. The girls are begging for it. Sage keeps asking "why can't I have more ice cream?" So I decided that they can have all they want today. Maybe if they eat enough of it they will get it out of their system. Or maybe it will make them sick and we will be done with it that way. As of noon today the girls have had 4 bowls each. It might be a rough night!

More later. I hope.