Thursday, April 18, 2013

More plants please....

This winter I've done alot of research into nutrition & it is changing the way we eat.  We still push the SONIC button sometimes when schedules get crazy & I haven't prepared well, but for the most part we are trying to eat meals packed with plants!!

This is the inside of Wayne's lunch quesadilla before I put it in the skillet.  I forgot the olives, even though I had pulled them out of the refrigerator & had them sitting on the counter, isn't that always the way?
I added refried beans, spinach & sliced avocado, plus his favorite habanero hot sauce.  He is happy without the cheese, so I don't even add it. There's a thousand options for packing a nutritious quesadilla & it's so great as a lunch food or before game snack.

This is our new breakfast.  We basically cram every whole grain we have in the house, some nuts, plus tons of fresh fruit into one bowl, stir & eat.
This bowl has one whole banana, golden raisins, fresh blueberries, pecans, uncooked old fashioned oats, all-bran, ground flax seeds & chia seeds.  Tony adds a little peanut butter or milk to his. This one bowl is packed with essential nutrients, plus it keeps us filled up for & ready for the day!

The cool thing about eating this way is that your body really does begin to crave these foods over the less nutritious choices.  Keep watching for more things we try & love.

No Cable

I statused several months ago on Facebook that we were turning in our cable box.  Since that time I have been asked almost daily how we do it.  I get lots of comments from people about how they would love to be able to do it themselves, but they just don't think they could.  Truth is, we haven't missed it.

Even though we don't have "programmed/advertised" entertainment coming into our home, it certainly doesn't mean that we are living a life without screens.  In fact just the other night, all of us were busy entertaining ourselves on our own personal screens while we are also watching the NCAA tournament games.  Jamilyn & I were both on our laptops. I was blogging & she was on Twitter/Facebook. Tony was on his tablet reading through my Facebook feed about the game while Wayne was playing games on his iTouch.  We were also having great conversation about the game, because it was exciting.  When a game gets exciting enough, all the screens get laid down!

A normal night for us usually consists of some sort of scheduled practice/lesson/group.  We have three teens right now, one in college & two living at home.  By the time we get through baseball, cheerleading, guitar lessons & homework each night there is very little "down" time to be had.

Truthfully we do alot of just hanging out and talking about our days, our plans & such.  This is my FAVORITE way to spend time. And since we also farm, there's always some work that can be done if too much free time exists.

We adore a night where we can be home long enough to watch a great movie, but that doesn't happen very often.  When we do find small bits of time to watch something, we chose something quick from Netflix, like an old "Malcolm in the Middle" episode.

We certainly don't live without screens or entertainment.  What we do live without for the most part is being inundated with commercials & staring mindlessly at "whatever" is on tv just because there's "nothing better on."  We seem to be much more mindful of our decisions to chose entertainment & not just be lulled by the choices of others. It works for us.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hummus - a new favorite

Let me be honest, I've tried to like hummus for YEARS!!  Literally, for years now I've purchased those small containers at groceries, hoping that I'd find one, just one, that I could fall in love with.  It never happened, I just couldn't like anything I ever tried.

I had officially given up on ever purchasing another container of hummus, decision made...I was done trying.

Then I happened to notice the hummus on the Mellow Mushroom appetizer menu.  I don't know exactly what prompted me to try but we ordered it & it finally happened, I feel in love, absolutely in love.  And what is even better for me, our kids feel in love.  Long story short, that day inspired me to try to make my own.  Here's what I've come up with.

I use:
Two cans Garbanzo beans - one completely drained, one half drained
Juice from half a lemon
A great drizzle of olive oil - probably 1.5 tablespoons
2 cloves garlic - you can roast these before hand or just ad them raw, depends on if you are in a hurry & how you like your garlic - some people aren't that crazy about the raw taste.
2 teaspoons of Tahini  - This could be the hardest to find - I have to go to Kroger's "Nature Market" to find it in my area of the world.  It is a sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter consistency.
Salt & Paprika to taste

Here's the difficult process, hope you're ready.....add everything into your blender or food processor & process until it is completely blended together.

Here's a look at my lunch for today.

I scoop it up with toasted whole wheat pita wedges.  I buy the pita pockets, throw them in the toaster while I'm blending, then slice them into wedges.  This recipe makes several snacks/lunches around here, depending on how hungry everyone is....I'd say it would probably make at least four to five lunch bowls like this.  

By the way, I have stuck to my decision about never buying store hummus again.  This stuff is too good & too easy not to try.  The hardest part is probably just keeping the ingredients in your pantry.  

If any of you more experienced hummus readers are reading these, I'd love to have some tips on what else you add to your hummus to rev up the flavor.  Please comment!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Today is a reclaiming day....

Anyone ever need a reclaiming day?  That is exactly what is going on around here today.  Piles of laundry folded, kitchen counter finally clean & so much more to be done.  It won't all get done in a day, it certainly didn't all happen in one day.  

I did get three dozen eggs washed.

I also gave all of our iron skillets a quick seasoning. 
They have been so abused lately, they needed the extra attention.
I guess this would be like a nice rejuvenating facial for your cookware.

The old timers say it is absolutely the best for seasoning up iron skillets, so that's what I'm using.
I know it might seem odd to admire the texture of lard, but I really am amazed at how different this looks compared to store bought lard.  Of course I know exactly what this pig was fed & it ate basically what we ate for it's entire life.

This is my favorite picture of our pigs from last spring. 
Sunning in the hay.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

I posted the other day that I was "trying" to make yogurt for the first time & haven't reported since then.  So let me say, the process & recipe were a HUGE success!!  Here's my afternoon snack.
Here's the link to the website I used.  I highly recommend you trying it for yourself if you have the time & eat alot of yogurt.  Our family can eat two large containers of yogurt a week plus I cook with alot of Greek yogurt so it has ended up being a huge savings for us.  

If you use the recipe from this website here's a couple of things I did differently.  
I didn't add the honey to the entire batch because I like plain yogurt & I use plain Greek yogurt for cooking.  When members of our family fix their yogurt they just add honey to it individually as needed.  

Secondly,  I didn't make the entire batch into Greek yogurt. Most of it is still in it's basic yogurt form in the refrigerator now.  I did strain some of it to make Greek & it was super easy.  I will make more Greek yogurt as needed from the regular batch.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Deep into fall - pumpkins & pork

I have been the happiest of happy this afternoon in the kitchen.

I have worked on making my first-ever batch of homemade yogurt, baked herb bread & roasted pumpkins.

I roast my pie pumpkins whole.  Just like they look sitting on our windowsill.

I place them on a baking sheet for a little over an hour.  You can smell when they are done.  After slicing them in two, I scoop out the seeds in the center & then scoop out the roasted pumpkin. Here's a small bowl of it straight out of the shells. I've reserved this small amount for some biscuits in the morning.  I will add a little sugar & cinnamon to it when it's warmed up in a skillet.
I've used most of it to make pumpkin soup.  Following the recipe at this website.

Bacon makes the perfect final addition to the soup with a small scoop of sour cream.  Here's some of our fresh bacon from the three pigs we raised this year.

The herb bread that I made this afternoon is my favorite bread recipe of all time & this will be the first time that I have posted it.  I use the bread machine to knead the dough, then I take it out, let it rise & bake it in the oven.  You can either make one large loaf or two smaller loaves.  Today I divided the dough up for two.

So here's the recipe:

10 to 12 ounces water
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil (today I used olive)
3.5 cups of bread flour
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dried onion (today I chopped up some green onions out of the garden instead)
.5 teaspoon dried basil (today I chopped up fresh basil from the deck)
.5 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

I load all the wet ingredients into my breadmaker first, then mix the flour & all dry ingredients (except yeast) together well before placing them on top.  Then I create a little well in the top of the flour mixture for the yeast & get it started.

The yogurt I'm in the process of making is from the recipe on this blog:

Right now I've got it all wrapped up & am waiting patiently.  I'll try to blog about my results tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One final summer dish - Ratatouille

As our garden is hanging on as best it can after the frost, it feels honoring to create one last great summer dish, Ratatouille. It is basically roasted vegetables with Parmesan cheese. And smells creamy & wonderful in the oven on a nice cool fall day like this. These are the final remnants of our summer vegetables. Plus our onions, which should last a while longer & some garlic I bought from the store. The bell peppers looks a little frosty because I just pulled it out of the freezer. I slice it like this & freeze it in a ziploc bag where I can just pull out what I need for any dish throughout the winter.
The recipe I've always used for this dish is here:

The hardest part of the dish is chopping up the vegetables & satueing the eggplant first. Other than that is just roasting in the oven. I've discovered that I'm a huge fan roasting. I love the intensity of flavor it creates & the time that I don't have to spend standing over a pot or skillet!!