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Thursday, April 17, 2014

stitchery

 
Both of my Grandmas loved handwork. One of them knitted, sewed and smocked and the other one embroidered and crocheted (oh, she did plastic canvas too...can anyone say "1980s"?). I love to think that I am honoring their memories and carrying on family tradition when I create beautiful things.
 
My mom recently gave me this set of embroidered dish towels that my paternal Grandma made. She has been gone for over ten years, so who knows how old they are...but they've been tucked away, waiting to be used and loved. These make me so happy, almost like having Grandma in the kitchen with me.
 
 
This is the Grandma who taught me to crochet, made applesauce flavored with red hots, bought us donut holes and all-bran cereal when we visited her Colorado home, and didn't hesitate to give us a swat on the rear end when we misbehaved. She sang us "Shave and a haircut, two bits!" and sent us lamb-shaped birthday cakes packed in stale popcorn and cookies with m&ms in them. She sent us wild asparagus and home-canned salmon, and until dementia set it, she never forgot a birthday.
 
 I miss her.
 
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

springtime walk


 





 

 
So grateful for...
 
Warm temperatures.
Green so bright that it hurts my eyes.
An LL Bean toddler backpack from Goodwill ($5.00!).
Sweet corgi dogs.
Wildflower carpets.
Everything new. Everything fresh.
Time with my kids...may I never take it for granted.
 
Happy Spring!
 
 


Monday, April 14, 2014

real food from Wal-Mart: homemade mayonnaise

 

 
If you have an immersion blender, homemade mayonnaise is a cinch to make, and only requires a few easy-to-find ingredients.
 
3 egg yolks
1 T lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar (Wal-Mart now carries Braggs raw, organic ACV!)
1/2 t. salt
1/2-1 t. sugar (if you like your mayo on the sweet side...I leave this out)
1 c. olive oil
 
If you don't mind an olive oil flavor, use a good cold-pressed, extra virgin oil like California Olive Ranch. If you want a lighter flavor, use a lighter oil, but be aware that some light olive oils have been cut with cheaper oils like Canola or Soy.
 
Put egg yolks, lemon juice or ACV, salt and sugar in a glass jar or other narrow container that your immersion blender will fit into. Carefully pour your oil on top, but do not mix.
 
Put your blender into the jar, all the way to the bottom, and turn on. Hold it on the bottom for about ten seconds. You should be able to see the mayo begin to emulsify (turn thick and creamy) in the bottom. Very slowly, pull your blender up to incorporate the oil on top. Do not do this too quickly, or it won't emulsify and you will end up with a jar full of runny, eggy oil (ahem...not that I would know anything about this!). The whole process should take about 30 seconds. Don't pull the blender completely out of the mayo or it will fling the mayo everywhere and you will end up with a greasy kitchen. Sometimes I have a little oil on top that won't quite mix in that I stir in with a spoon afterwards.
 
If you use free range eggs with very yellow yolks, your mayo will be a beautiful golden color! Because this recipe calls for raw eggs, I prefer to not use store bought eggs, but in a pinch they will work.
 
Occasionally, I will have a batch that doesn't emulsify. Not fun, because I try to use quality olive oil and so this isn't a cheap fail. To salvage, put a whole egg in a regular blender and turn the blender on. Then add the failed mayo one drop at a time, with the blender running, until
 the mayo emulsifies. It takes awhile, but it's better than throwing it all out.

Homemade mayo will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

real food from Wal-Mart: easy chicken stir fry

 
Stir fry is about the easiest thing to make. Meat and veggies, seasoned however you want, over rice. And the ingredients are all easy to find at Wal-Mart.
 
In a perfect world, we would raise all of our own chicken. Or at least buy free-range chicken from a local farmer. Right now, I buy the 3 or 5 pound packages of chicken breast from Wal-Mart. Not ideal, but it works.
 
 
This rice is awesome. Wal-Mart has several different varieties, both organic and non-organic. And the best part to me is this little label in the corner of the bag:

 
Yes! Non-GMO project verified.
 
I like to sauté my chicken and veggies in coconut oil. This brand is refined, which means that it won't give the food a coconut flavor. I use it for stovetop popcorn and baking too.

 
Wal-Mart carries a decent variety of organic veggies. Carrots, broccoli, celery, salad greens, baby kale, sometimes cauliflower. I buy what I can and then get the rest non-organic. This isn't about purity perfection, but doing the best I can with what's available.


 
Cook rice according to the directions on the bag. If you are a quinoa fan, Wal-Mart also has a decent selection of organic quinoa, and it cooks more quickly than rice if you are pressed for time.
 
Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks and sauté in coconut oil over medium heat until done. Set aside. In the same skillet, sauté veggies in a little coconut oil, stirring, frequently, until crisp-tender. Alternatively, you can just add a little water and steam them. When they are done, add the chicken back in.
 
Season with salt and pepper, soy sauce, or whatever you like. Serve over rice. Or quinoa. Or eat as is. It's good just about any way you slice it!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

simple home



I love my simple home,
It's small and plain, I know,
But I love the way the sun shines in
And makes the kitchen glow.
I love the laughter of the walls,
Encircling endless joy,
The early morning snuggles
With each little girl and boy.
I love the smell of home-baked bread,
Each fork and spoon and knife,
The laundry and the dishes
And the busy work of life.
I love my bed at end of day,
The heavy warmth of prayer,
The quilts I pull up to my chin,
My husband sleeping there.
The peace I feel can't be described,
The stillness and the rest,
And in my heart I know for sure
That simple homes are best.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

do you nak?

 
It's been a long day and we have finally reached the baby's bedtime. Bath and sweet smelling shampoo, check. Fuzzy pajamas, check. I settle into the recliner to give her the last feeding of the day and as she looks into my face with her beautiful blue eyes, I turn away and focus on the glowing screen next to the chair.

 
This was the picture of my life many, many times following babies 1-4. I always felt vaguely guilty when I nursed at the keyboard (better known as NAKing), but I justified it buy telling myself that I had so little quiet time and it was simply a good way to multi-task. When baby #5 came along, my awesome husband told me that he had concerns about me doing it. And I am so thankful that I listened to his wisdom.

 
For one thing, there's the whole health thing. Laptops put out an incredible amount of radiation and of course, when I was nursing, the baby's head was right next to the computer. Not good. Even not-so-natural health professionals recommend that we limit our children's exposure to electronics because of the connection between radiation and cancer.
 
But there is another reason to stop NAKing, and that is that feeding time is an incredible bonding experience with your baby. Have you ever noticed how they focus on your face while they are eating? In the early months, this is called "mapping"...they are learning your every feature. But even beyond the early months, it is a time of one-on-one interaction with our little ones that I now believe is vital to their emotional well-being.

 
I have five children and sometimes it is hard to find uninterrupted time to spend with each of them individually. Nursing time with Beatrice is her time with mama and even thought she's nearly a year old now, I want to guard it jealously. I don't want her to feel that she is competing with an electronic device for my time and attention. I want her to feel, for those few minutes, that I am all hers.
 
Five years from now...or ten...or twenty...will I wish that I had spent less time with my baby and more time on the computer?
 
I don't think so.
 
Understand that there is no judgment here...just a suggestion, based on my own experience...to put down the phone, close the laptop, be present in the moment. It's a moment that you can never get back.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

blueberry cobbler butter bars



 
Dessert last weekend. Easy to make, even easier to eat.
 
Find the recipe here.