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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

grateful


 
Rachel, over at Lusa Organics, has started a weekly list on her blog of seven things that she is thankful for, and she has invited others to play along. What a great idea! Very much along the lines of 1,000 gifts. So here goes:
 
1. A beautiful hardcover picture book of The Wind in the Willows on the library sale table today for twenty-five cents!
 
2. Supper tonight, entirely homegrown: hamburger steaks, oven fries, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, pickles and ketchup.
 
3. Hugs from my grumpy baby (I think she may be cutting more teeth).
 
4. My first-ever ride in a pony cart last night.
 
5. Running into two old friends in town today who I haven't seen in ten years.
 
6. Loaves of fresh bread lined up to cool on the counter.
 
7. God's faithfulness...every moment, every day.
 
 

single serve berry muffin




 
I'm a huge fan of the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan, and many of their recipes call for alternative flours such as almond and coconut. Since almond flour doesn't always fit into my grocery budget, I've been experimenting with a single serving coconut flour muffin that I could bake in the oven, since I don't microwave. Coconut flour is high in protein and fiber and is also quite a bit lower in fat and calories than almond flour. Plus, it's at least half the price.
 
Coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid so it can be tricky to bake with without the finished product tasting like sawdust. My first few attempts were pretty dry. I finally figured out two things: add berries, and do not over-bake. If in doubt, even under-bake slightly.
 
I baked mine in a 4-inch round pyrex dish. You could use muffin tins, but the baking time would be shorter. I'm guessing that it would make about three muffins. This isn't a tiny recipe.
 
Single Serving Coconut Flour Berry Lemon Muffin
 
2 T coconut flour
1 T erythritol
1 t. baking powder
dash salt
1 egg
1 T coconut oil
3 T water
4 drops Young Living lemon essential oil (or sub. lemon extract)
handful of frozen berries (I used blackberries)
 
Place all ingredients except for berries in a small bowl and mix with a fork until smooth. Coconut flour has no gluten, so you don't have to worry about over-mixing like you do with conventional muffins. If berries are very large, chop coarsely. Stir into batter. Pour into a well-greased 4-inch pyrex bowl. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until just done.
 
Cool slightly and remove from bowl. Top with butter, a dollop of greek yogurt, or some redi-whip.
 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

garden update

Excuse the dirty dishes in the background...we're all about real here.
To be perfectly honest with you, I have lost control of the garden. Extreme heat coupled with some unusual heavy July rains and busyness with other things has kept me out of it, and it has turned into a jungle. So today I bring you pictures, not of the garden, but of the harvest. Normally by this time of year, things have about run their course and with the exception of a few tomatoes and peppers, we can stop, breathe, and plan what we want to plant in the Fall. Not this year.
 
Every time I think that the plants are through, we get a few cooler days and a good rain and they begin to flourish again. This much moisture in the summertime is an incredible blessing. I went out yesterday and checked the squash plants, which had almost completely stopped producing. They were covered with blossoms, and in the middle of every blossom was a huge, fat bumblebee. So it looks like we'd better get ready for squash, round two.
 
Dry spells, followed by heavy rain, have caused some of the juicier fruits like tomatoes and cantaloupe to split. But they are still delicious...we just have to use them right away.


 
I've canned tomatoes and tomato sauce and salsa and plan to try ketchup with the next batch. We are loving our variety of rainbow heirloom tomatoes. Red, orange, yellow, purple/black...they each have a rich, unique flavor.

 
 
We've had two disappointments...the first is a little, spiny gherkin that I planted out of curiosity. It comes from India and is not a true cucumber (I think it's actually a melon), but is supposed to have a mild, cucumber flavor. We aren't impressed. They have big seeds and the flesh is sort of slimy. It's too bad, because the packet assured us that they produce "hundreds of fruit on each vine", and they were absolutely correct. Hundreds.
 
The second disappointment is our corn. We chose heirloom varieties and carefully staggered plantings to avoid cross-pollination, but apparently we have neighbors who are growing conventional, GMO crops because none of it has produced very well and we are getting weird, crossed colors. The Indian corn that we were so excited about is mostly white, with a few pink spots. Thank you, Monsanto.
 
All in all though, I can't complain. An old farmer friend once comfortably told us that every year, the garden will be a little different in terms of what grows well and what doesn't...one year we might be overloaded with green beans, another with tomatoes, another with watermelon. The secret is to plant a wide variety so that we are assured a harvest of something. And this year, we are getting more than one something in copious amounts. God is good.
 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

camping 2014: revenge of the chiggers

 
This week, we went on a spontaneous one-night camping trip to a state park about two hours away. To camp in a tent with five small children, you either have to be brilliant or insane. You decide which we are. But I am happy to report that all in all, it was a success. Definitely something that we plan to do again.
 
 
The park where we went is a small one, not the most pristine as far as maintenance goes, but beautiful and very quiet. We were there on a Monday and Tuesday and there were only three or four other campers.

 
All of the kids slept, even the baby. This is a small miracle and one for which we are extremely grateful.


 
Beatrice loved the playground!

 
The kids got to swim at the little swim beach. I mostly hung at camp with Beatrice. And even got a little knitting in.

 
The downside is that we came home with chiggers. If you are not from the south and have never had the experience of these little creatures, consider yourself extremely blessed. They live in tall grass and hop on for a ride when you walk through. Then they burrow into your skin and feed on you, causing huge red welts and intense itching. Imagine mosquito bites times ten, in clusters in sensitive spots like under waistbands, sock cuffs, armpits, backs of the knees, etc. etc. etc. People swear by various remedies, including bleach baths, apple cider vinegar, clear fingernail polish, and vicks vaporub. Trust me, we've tried them all. They provide some temporary relief, but bottom line is, you just have to wait the vile little creatures out...which takes about three days.
 
 
 
Owen also came home with an upset stomach, we think from swallowing too much lake water. Poor guy spent yesterday on the sofa with a fever, which of course didn't help the itching of his chigger bites.

 
So it wasn't exactly a picture-perfect, Pinterest-inspired, blog-worthy camping trip. But you know what? That's ok. The important thing is that we were together, experiencing life. We saw Canada geese and eagles, and we fell asleep to the clamor of frogs and crickets. We roasted marshmallows.


 
I don't regret it for a minute. Now please excuse me while I go and douse myself in bleach.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

ten things about me that you may not know

 
I normally don't do these kinds of posts because they feel vaguely narcissistic, but I enjoy reading them when other bloggers write them. So here I am, baring my soul and sharing secrets of my life on the internet. Plus, you get to see a picture of a big sheep. How lucky can you be?
 
1. If I had grown up during the 70's, I would have been a hippie. Flowy skirts, long hair, a volkswagon bus with flowers painted on the side...the whole bit. Now, I just eat a lot of granola and call it good.
 
2. My favorite color is green.
 
3. My second baby was a planned unassisted home birth. I don't necessarily recommend it to others, for multiple reasons, but circumstances forced us to do it that way and it was an incredible, wonderful birth. I felt like superwoman for about three months afterwards.
 
4. I love Necco wafers. Anyone remember those? They're getting harder and harder to find.
 
5. When I was about six, I let my younger brother take a punishment for something that I did and never told my mom about it. That haunts me to this day (sorry, Sam).
 
6. I can't stand--cannot stand--for cupboard doors to be left open. Even when I'm at someone else's house, I have to shut them.
 
7. I want to live someplace wild and off-grid. Maybe not forever, but I want to experience life without electronics, time constraints and modern day noise.
 
8. I love going to town on rainy days. I also love staying home on rainy days. I love rainy days.
 
9. I don't know how to swim.
 
10. I can happily eat the same thing day after day, with very little variation. And I would be just fine if every single meal included tahini and chocolate.
 
11. (Ok, I know I said 10, but I thought of one more, so consider it a bonus). As a kid, I hated macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, and olives. Now I love all three.
 
Congratulations for making it to the end. Now please leave me a comment and tell me something about you that I might not know!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vibrant Food


It's no secret that I love vegetables and that I am a fan of fresh, seasonal ingredients. That's why Kimberly Hasselbrink's  new cookbook, Vibrant Food, has been so much fun for me to read. This book arranges fruits and vegetables by color and season, and provides endless inspiration for cooking and serving them.

Hasselbrink is the author of the popular blog, The Year in Food, and she brings all of the loveliness of her blog to this book. Beginning with the delicate colors of spring found in peas and radishes and working its way through summer's bright tomatoes, autumn's rich greens and apples, and winter's squashes, beets and brassicas, the photos and recipes make me want to try every single one! Rhubarb Compote with Cacao Nibs? Squash Blossom and Green Coriander Quesadillas? Broiled Figs with Za'atar and Pecans? Yes, please!

My one complaint about this book is that I wouldn't call it kid-friendly. Many of the recipes call for somewhat exotic ingredients which (1) tend to be expensive and (2) have strong flavors that I know my kids would have an aversion to. It would be geared more toward a single person or a couple interested in lighter, healthier fare, and who have a decent food budget and access to a really good farmer's market. However, I believe that anyone, regardless of their family situation, will enjoy reading it and be inspired by it. I certainly have been!

You can find Kimberly on Facebook here.

For more information or to order the book, go here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, July 14, 2014

just a note...

 
Sometimes you just need some quiet, some time to re-prioritize and focus on the most important things in your life.

That's what I need right now. Which means, as much as I love blogging, I will be taking a little break. Not forever, just for awhile. See you soon!