Saturday, November 12, 2011


I used to be intelligent.
I once knew the meaning of large words
Which now escape me.
There was a time when I could enter
A conversation on politics and history
And understand the connection
Between the two.
When I was much younger
I had a firm grasp
On physics and math
And things of that sort.
I knew grammar terms and usage
And I laughed at those who didn't.
Now, I am mom.
I know when someone uses incorrect grammar
But I can't tell you why
Or what part of speech they used.
I know where I stand, politically
Sort of
But I really couldn't tell you why
In any convincing manner.
I don't remember how many presidents we have had.
I don't remember the capital of South Dakota.
Mathematical symbols have escaped me.
And spell-check has become my crutch.
But for all I've forgotten,
I've learned a great deal in "mom."
I've learned what HCG is
And that you must have at least 25 ug/ml in your urine
Before you see those two blue lines.
I know the difference between a cramp and a contraction.
I can talk to my body and my baby
And control the intensity of my own labor
With complete confidence, control, and calmness.
I have learned the difference
Between a hungry cry and a peepee cry.
I know that kisses cure owies
If you get just the right spot.
And I know where that spot is.
I know that "My yove yoo" means "I love you,"
And that "Go away" means "Thanks, but I've got this."
I know how to communicate with my children without words.
I realize that this is sometimes better.
I've learned that I'm wrong.
A lot.
I've learned not to laugh at people who don't have all the answers;
Those who don't know how to spell
Or that it's "there" not "their"
Or that people "run quickly", they don't "run fast,"
Because although they might have lost these facts
They may have knowledge that is far beyond my comprehension.
They have feelings.
They deserve respect.
I forget this a lot.
But I've learned to remember.
Perhaps I can't talk about politics.
Perhaps I can't relate to "The 99%" or "The 1%"
Or even know why they do what they do.
Maybe I say the wrong word now and then
Or just sit in senseless silence
Because vocabulary has momentarily died in my brain.
But I'm still ok.
I have new facts.
I have new knowledge that transcends facts.
I used to be intelligent.
And despite outward appearances,
I still am.

Friday, August 5, 2011

All You Need is Love (dun da da da da)...

I just want to say that WHOEVER is reading this blog is my FAVORITE person on Earth. I think you are the absolute BEST parent, BEST son or daughter, and overall BEST person who ever existed. I am but dirt at your feet, unworthy of your greatness, and I scourge myself 3 times a day simply because I FAIL at being YOU. Thank you SO much for reading my lowly blog and bestowing your time and attention, however fleeting, upon me and my humble existence, O Great One. You can do or say no wrong, and I bow to your greatness.

Argue with THAT, motherfuckers.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Process of De-Parent-Ing

Yeah, so I totally made that word up. It's the only way I can describe what I see as a necessary process in raising our culture's kids. In an era of convenience and efficiency, children have become, according to most in our culture, a "difficulty." Wander through a bookstore and you will see dozens of titles related to methods of either controlling or fixing our children. Coupled with a misconstrued interpretation of religious values in a largely Christian culture, we seem to have the idea that children somehow start off damaged in some way, and nearly every parenting choice we make is some kind of effort to solve the problem of children. From birth, we are told to "encourage" our children to develop properly - tummy time, classical music, baby Einstein; black and white contrasting circles and stripes for newborns to stimulate their senses, bright, primary colors for infants and toddlers, tactile stimulation...only use certain words, foods, and activities to mimic their developmental if by NOT doing these things our children will fail to develop and remain perpetual infants! We are told how to teach them to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, read, write, and count to 10 - and we are offered a number of educational toys to help us do so. We are (unintentionally?) brainwashed to think that kids need us to make them develop normally. We are told that Mother Nature has no idea what she is doing, and that we must take over, for the good of our children.

There are a number of things that children will do, all on their own. With absolutely no prompting from us, children will:

1. Grow
2. Develop
3. Learn
4. Play
5. Eat
6. Sleep
7. Heal
8. Reproduce (eventually)
9. Empathize
10. Love

I promise.

We are a society that values individuality, efficiency, and competition. I'm not saying that these are bad qualities - but unchecked and unbalanced, they simply do not allow for children. We are a society focused on "getting things done" - getting to the end product - with, all-too-often, complete disregard for the method we use for doing so, when, in fact, this method is every bit as important as the final result. We have lost the value of leisure, pleasure, and even simple existence itself. We push our children aside and say, "Here, let me do that for you," instead of saying things like, "Please help me do this." The problem is NOT that our children want to help us wash the dishes, even though we are apparently (for some unknown reason other than the importance of washing dishes) in a terrible hurry; the problem is that we place too much value in breakable dishes.

When my child has a tantrum, it is not my job to put an end to it. He will not tantrum forever. He WILL (as long as I don't interfere with the process) learn to regulate his emotions through social learning and the natural development of brain cells. It is my job to see him through it. It is my job to find out why he is upset (because there is ALWAYS a reason) and it is my job to either help him accept the problem, help him find a solution to the problem, or just let him be upset about the problem for as long as he needs to. It is NOT my job, as a parent, to try and distract him, pacify him, discipline him, train him, or otherwise shut him up for the sake of not disturbing other people (who probably could do with a little more patience and self-regulation themselves) or in order to produce "well-behaved" children (which is something that has become a bragging right - a way to showcase your little pets to all your family and friends and say, "Look what a good parent I am - I've trained me a kid!").

Of course, our culture does not value intangibles. Not really. We spout Romantic ideals of love, happiness, and other equally bohemian scapegoats, but our actions speak much louder than words. We only value honesty because it keeps crime rates down and boosts public morale, which ups production. We value self-esteem because confident workers are hard workers. We value love and happiness - but only if we can squeeze them in while earning a good living so as not to depend on anyone besides ourselves for food and shelter. All children have physical needs and non-physical needs. The physical needs are things like food, shelter, clothing; the non-physical needs are things such as parental attachment, bonding, socialization, trust, love, emotional reciprocity, and security. We have become such a materialistic society that we place the highest value on the physical needs of the child, and neglect everything else. Don't believe me? Which do most Americans think is worse: A parent who works hard 40+ hours a week to feed and clothe their children, but has to send them to daycare and/or school to do so; or a parent who stays home or works minimal hours so they can be with their children, but has to depend on government aid for food and housing? Most people would tell the second parent to get off their ass and go to work. How many would tell the first parent to stay home? Why? The working parent is filling their child's physical needs, but - due to the completely backwards nature of our culture which forces parents to work without their children present - they are often forced to leave the bulk of non-physical needs in the hands of others. The second parent is filling their child's non-physical needs, but leaving the physical needs to be filled by someone else. Our society tells us that one is better than the other, but this is FALSE. ANYONE can give a kid food and a place to stay. Anyone. So why is it that we hold up the working parents who "sacrifice everything" for their kids - who work hard to give them food and shelter, which anyone can theoretically provide, but who are either forced to or choose to allow others to handle education and social development? And why do we condemn "lazy" parents who choose to stay home with their children, even if it means they have to depend on other people to help provide something as trivial as food? If, for example, I pay taxes and do not send my kids to public school, am I not in the same position as someone whose taxes go to another's food stamps? Sure, maybe parent A cannot afford to feed his/her kids. Maybe he/she chooses to earn less income. Maybe the cost of childcare would be more than that parent could earn at a full-time job. What if parent B works full-time and sends his/her kids to public school. Isn't parent B using government money to partially "raise" their kids just as much as parent A? One uses public funds to provide food, while the other uses them to provide education. I don't see people ranting about that - not that they should. Apparently most people in this country think that education is so important that it needs to be provided for by the government...but food doesn't? Is feeding a child less important than educating one? Now, don't get me wrong. I am NOT saying that we should take away public schooling. And I am not - repeat NNNNOOOOTTTT saying anything negative about working parents who send their kids to daycare and/or public school. What I AM saying is that people who send their kids to glass elementary schools shouldn't throw stones at the starving kids down the street. I am a big fan of the village it take to raise a kid, but when most of the people in that village are not interested in raising children, that becomes a problem. The process of de-parenting has to occur on a national scale, because unfortunately, our society, as it stands, is NOT kid-friendly, and whether we like it or not, kids will rule the world someday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tofu-Tempeh Dip

You can easily make this vegan by substituting vegan cheese and mayo.

Tofu-Tempeh Dip

1 block (12 oz.) extra-firm tofu
1 block multigrain tempeh
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup mayonnaise
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced dill pickles
10-20 sprays bragg's liquid aminos
1/4 cup salsa
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. white whine vinegar
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tsp. salt
Olive oil or butter

Cut tempeh into cubes and boil 10-15 minutes. In olive oil or butter, saute crumbled tofu with liquid aminos until golden brown. Combine all ingredients and mix until well-combined. Serve chilled with crackers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flowers in the Crockpot

Just another parenting "aha" moment. Leonidas was standing on a chair next to the table and he grabbed some flowers out of the vase on the table. He was smelling them and saying how beautiful they were. Then he lifted up the lid of the (empty and unplugged) crockpot and said, "I put flowers in there?" I immediately said, kindly, "No, silly, flowers don't go in the crockpot; they go in the vase."

I immediately regretted saying this.

No, he didn't get upset or throw a fit (those of you who know Leonidas are already asking this question, I'm sure). In fact, he put them back into the vase. And it saddened me. Where was his warrior spirit? Where was the protest?

I felt as though I had broken my son.

Here he was, two years old, and thinking outside of the box, so to speak. He was being creative! He was using his imagination to make that crockpot beautiful and I CRUSHED it. Who cares if there are flowers in the crockpot? Are the crockpot gods going to knock on my door and give me a citation? Maybe the flowers would have looked nice there. What if, some day, when he's grown, and he has a house of his own, and he gets a bouquet of flowers, but doesn't have a vase to put them in - or anything similar - will he think,"Hmm, maybe I could put them in the crockpot. They might look quite lovely there," or will he think, "Damn, I have no place to put these flowers. I'll have to throw them away"??? What if I hadn't just given him the "Flowers don't go in the crockpot" schema, and when he's older, he creates beautiful crockpot floral displays whose uniqueness and universal appeal make him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams? What if I just destroyed his dream?!

Ok, ok, a little too Butterfly-Effect on that one, but you get the idea.

The point is, I just sacrificed a tiny portion of my child's creativity for the sake of...what? Some prissy notion of "that's not the proper place for that", the foundations of which escape me completely and the logic behind which is almost just as elusive?

I say go ahead, child, you put those flowers in the crockpot and display them proudly! Let them bloom like the creative, intelligent individual you are, and make way for more out-of-the-box thinking to come, because flowers in the crockpot, child, are just the tip of the ice burg.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Multigrain Blueberry Pancakes

I adapted these from a Joy of Cooking recipe and turned them into a slightly healthier version :)

Multigrain Blueberry Pancakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup blue corn meal
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups cultured coconut milk
1/2 cup hemp milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 eggs, separated
1 cup fresh blueberries

In a large bowl, mix together flours, corn meal, flax, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, mix coconut milk, hemp milk, coconut oil, and egg yolks. Whisk until well-combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter until almost fully incorporated. Add blueberries and fold in until just mixed. Makes about 10-12 pancakes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vegan Healthy-ish Cupcakes

Vegan Healthy-ish Cupcakes

1 cup organic, vegan sugar
1/2 cup organic shortening
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 cup soy milk (or other vegan milk, such as almond or hemp)

Grease and flour muffin tin and preheat oven to 350F. Mix ground flax seed with 1/4 cup of water and let sit for about 5 minutes until it gels. Combine milk and vanilla and set aside. Combine flours and baking powder and set aside. With electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add flax seed mixture and beat until well-combined. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in 3 parts alternately with milk mixture in 2 parts (i.e., add some flour, some milk, some flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour), mixing until just combined in between each addition. Don't over-mix. Fill muffin tin and bake for about 30 minutes (ok, the time is a guess - I baked them until they were done). They are done when they bounce back slightly when pressed in the middle. Let cool and frost with vegan frosting, below.

Vegan Frosting:
1/2 cup vegan shortening
1/4 cup soy milk (or other vegan milk)
2 lbs. organic powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Not rocket science. Mix all ingredients. There you go. You may need more or less powdered sugar, so have extra on hand, especially if you use homemade food coloring, which might thin it out.

Colorful, Cancer-Free Cupcakes!

Well, since we've decided to stop flooding our bodies with all sorts of chemicals, including artificial dyes, I thought our dessert-life would be a bit bland. SO NOT TRUE! Not with the discovery of homemade food coloring :) Yes, using only natural food sources, you, too, can have colorful cupcakes like the ones pictured below. Here's how I went about it:

Red Cabbage Food Coloring:

Red cabbage can be used to make not one, but four different colors! I simply boiled a head of red cabbage (cut up) until it was cooked through (this serves two purposes, since we also ate the cabbage for dinner). Then, I took the remaining purple-colored water in the pan and boiled it down until it was reduced by half, and there's the dye. No, it does NOT make the food taste like cabbage. I promise. One thing I might to differently is boil it down even more to make the color more concentrated and thus, give a darker hue to the food. I had to use a fair amount for the frosting I made, and it watered it down, so I had to add more powdered sugar, which diluted the color, so I think a more concentrated liquid would equal a more vibrant color. I'll work with this.

Now, one you've got it boiled down, you can change the color of the liquid by adding an acid or base to it. Just add a little vinegar to make it pink. Add a small amount of baking soda to make it blue, and add a larger amount of baking soda to make it green. Leave it alone for purple. You can adjust the hue as much as you want. Add to much baking soda? Add a little vinegar to make your green dye turn blue again. It's that simple. CAUTION: Adding vinegar or baking soda makes it kind of erupt like a volcano. Use a big enough bowl!

So, now that we have pink, purple, blue, and green, let's make some other colors:

Yellow: Add dry turmeric for a bright, curry-yellow color. Stale turmeric has less flavor, but honestly, I didn't notice much flavor in it anyway. Maybe a hint, but only because I was looking for it.

Orange: I tried using saffron soaked in water to get orange. It made a dull yellow. BUT, I added it to the pink I made and got orange, so there you go.

Black: I haven't tried this with frosting, but I've used it to dye eggs and it worked well. Boil a pound of black beans and then boil down the resulting black liquid to make black dye. I haven't tried it in frosting yet, so I may be updating that one soon.

And voila! Beautiful colors, all-natural and mmmmmm good :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lea's Amazing Vegan Shortbread

This is a pretty basic shortbread recipe, adapted from The Joy of Cooking (1997) to use vegan ingredients. Although shortbread usually depends on the flavor of butter to give it its characteristic taste, this was surprisingly delicious without!

Lea's Amazing Vegan Shortbread

10 Tbsp. vegan shortening
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. organic sugar
1 1/2 cups organic flour

Cream the shortening and sugars until very fluffy. Add flour and mix on low speed just to combine. Gather the dough (it will look crumbly at first) into a ball and knead briefly, then press into an 8" x 8" pan and bake at 325F for 45-60 minutes, just until it barely begins to brown. Let cool until just warm to the touch, and cut or break into squares/peices.

Lea's Original Dessert Chili!

Ok, so I've had some requests. For all of you who've asked, here it is:

Lea's Original Dessert Chili

2 cups cooked red beans
6 apples
3 pears
2 cans tart cherries (in water)
2 mangoes
1 cup red wine
1 cup organic sugar (make sure it's vegan-friendly if you want vegan chili)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. chili powder
4 cinnamon sticks

Peel, core, and chop apples and pears. Peel mangoes and dice. Put the oats into a food processor and process until finely ground. Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on high for at least 3 hours. Serve with Lea's Amazing Vegan Shortbread and (if you're not concerned with the vegan part) some sweetened whipped cream!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why You (Probably) Didn't Really Need a C-Section

Oh yes. I'm going there. Hate me if you will. I know I'm stepping on a lot a toes here, but if only one woman makes a change for the good of her and her baby because of it, it'll be worth it. I'm just so tired of hearing women talk about how they "needed" an "emergency" c-section and how they would not have been able to have their baby vaginally. The truth is, there is absolutely no need for a 30% c-section rate. Most women I know did not choose to have an elective c-section out of convenience; they were told that they needed one. This is a lie. Most "emergencies" are caused by hospital interventions and procedures in the first place. If you honestly couldn't push out your baby (for a number of reasons I'll list below), chances are it had nothing to do with your build, size, or capabilities as a mother, and had everything to do with your environment. Now don't get me wrong - emergencies DO happen - but they are extremely rare. Women tend to get offended when I say something like this, but really, I'm not saying anything negative about the women who have these unnecessary sections. I'm not saying that these women have done anything wrong. I'm saying these women have been lied to.

1. "My baby wouldn't fit." - This is VERY unlikely. The vast majority of women don't have babies that are too big to fit through their pelvis. The reason so many women have the trouble of "fitting" a big (or even not-so-big) baby is because they usually are made to push on their backs, either because of having an epidural, or because that's what they're told they have to do. This is the WORST position to push out a baby! Lying on one's back decreases the pelvic opening by up to 30%! If you were standing, squatting, or on your hands and knees, your 11-lb. baby probably would not have had to be cut out of your body.

2. "My baby was breech." - Vaginal birth is actually much less risky than c-sections in most breech cases (and current research is finally supporting this - something midwives have known all along). One problem is that many OBs are not trained in vaginal breech births anymore. Then there is the looming threat of malpractice suits, a threat which seems to, more often than not, take the decision-making process out of the hands of the patient. C-sections should be the last resort, and since they started out that way, most people (erroneously) assume they still are, so that if something goes wrong during a section (which happens more frequently than during a vaginal birth), people assume the doctors did everything they could, chalk it up to fate or chance, and leave the lawyers out of it. Unless your baby is completely sideways (a rare occurrence), most breech babies CAN be safely born vaginally.

3. "When they finally sectioned me, the baby had the cord wrapped around his neck 435 times!" - It is not uncommon for the baby to be born with the cord around the neck, even several times. It's actually pretty normal. You just slip it off as the baby comes out. No big deal.

4. "My baby was stuck." - This is often what people say when they mean the baby had shoulder dystocia. This is something that can often be remedies using a number of techniques, the most effective being the Gaskin Maneuver, which requires the women to get onto her hands and knees...however, if you've had an epidural (often the first in a long line of mistakes), this may be impractical (but NOT impossible). Of course, if you were allowed to labor in a secure, calm, familiar environment without being attached to machinery, you probably wouldn't have "needed" the epidural anyway, but that's another rant...

5. "My baby was in distress." - Oh really? How do you know that? Heart-rate drop? (a variation of normal in most births, but often misinterpreted thanks to continuous fetal monitoring). Or perhaps the baby was in distress due to the pitocin (the effects of which you can't feel, thanks to the epidural - no such luck for the baby, who feels every single abnormally strong contraction). These are all risks of pitocin and epidurals, by the way (you'll see them on the paper you had to sign). Babies are often thrown into distress because of the interventions they are unwillingly subjected to, leading to a truly unnecessary emergency c-section. Sure, your section may have been an emergency, but there may not have been any emergency at all if you had not been lied to and/or bullied into these interventions in the first place.

6. "I had complete placenta previa, my placenta had detached and was delivered before the baby, and the baby was sideways, sticking out an arm and waving to everyone in the room." - Ok, you needed a c-section.

Why You Probably Didn't r

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gardening Adventures - Week 10

Just a quick update on my gardening progress...

We have BEANS!!! Yes, there are purple beans on my little plants, and they are beautiful :)

I also have the beginnings of soybeans...

Some flowers starting up on my pumpkin plants...

And my onions, hanging in there nicely...

While the broccoli just keeps on growing, slowly but surely...

And here's someone else enjoying our garden...

I honestly can't believe I'm growing things right now...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gardening Adventures - Week 9

I know, it's been too long since I've been on here. My garden is still growing, albeit rather slowly.

I transplanted my broccoli, jalapenos, and onions. My onions are doing ok, but like everything else, growth is slow.

Most of my broccoli died, but I have three little sprouts that hung on for dear life, and they are getting more leaves and growing a bit, but are still just sprouts. I'm still hopeful.

The peppers...they seem to be stuck, not growing but not dying. Not sure what to think about that.

My corn is still growing, but not near harvest yet.

My carrots I thinned a little, and they are doing great.

The pumpkins are still slow growing, but steady.

My soybeans finally have teeny, tiny buds on them and may flower this week.

The best of all are the purple beans, which have lovely flowers coming out now and are by far the healthiest things in the garden (besides the weeds).

I also found purslane growing in both front and back yards, which makes me happy (I'm on a bit of an edible weed kick lately).

Oh, and the craziest part: the rose bushes we tore out of the ground to make room for the garden.

We tore them out and shoved them (in pieces) behind the a/c unit, and it has apparently re-planted itself there and is thriving! I guess life really does find a way :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Free-Rangin' at the Park

For those of you who may not know, aside from being the last day of the Earth's existence (haha, yeah, that was totally sarcasm), today was also the second annual "Take Our Children to the Park...and Leave Them There Day." Of course, being the parent of free-range children that I am, I participated, albeit in a modified way, in this mini-holiday.

Wait, wait, now before you call CPS...NO, I did NOT leave my two children, ages 25 months and 10 months, at the park by themselves.

Actually, I did what I do every time I take them to the park: I sat down on the grass and let them go off and play by themselves. Ruby never goes far - she plays in the grass or eats the dirt, or what have you, lost in her own little world and happy as a lark. Leonidas goes off to play on the playground equipment, climbing up the steps, rings, chains, bars, and slides...then climbing or sliding down, and doing this over and over and over again, happy as can be. So I suppose, this was really no different than any other day at the park. It just had purpose.

I wondered how many others were there under the same pretense. There did seem to be an unusual amount of parent-less children running about, but I had never been to this particular park, so that could have been the norm. As soon as we got there, he was befriended by an eight-year-old named Marilyn, who became his mother-for-the-day. He had so much fun! He learned a lot from Marilyn - how to climb up the ladder, how to go down the slide without scraping his stomach (after scraping his stomach the first time), and how to slow himself down on the swings without falling off.

In addition, for the first time in the history of his two years of park-going experience...Leonidas fell off the playground equipment!

Haha, it was fabulous! Don't worry, he's fine. He was fine within one minute of falling. He would have been fine without me, although I walked over to him anyway to make him feel more secure. He was climbing down the metal ladder, and had only gotten down one rung from the top before he tried to reach the next rung, found he was too short, and slipped off, falling down to the bottom level of the whole contraption. He landed well, didn't hit his head, and his "new mother" was instantly there, and eight-year-old savior, to apologize for not being there and to make sure he was not hurt. I held him for a minute, sat down with him, and after another minute, he was off...climbing the ladder again. Guess what - he learned what NOT to do when climbing up and down the ladder, and climbed it flawlessly at least a dozen times before we finally went home. On the way home, he told me, "My fall on the slide." "You fell off the slide at the park?" I asked him. "Yeah," he said, "my fall. My got hurt on the slide. My ok now. My happy." I think that pretty much summed it up.

I'm glad he had fun at the park with his friends. I'm glad he fell. I'm glad he learned from it with no permanent damage done, and I'm glad he's smarter and stronger from the experience. Of course, it HURTS me to see my babies get hurt, even for a moment. But it's so amazing when they come out of it healthy, strong, and above all, HAPPY. I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to give my child a lifetime of free-range moments of learning and laughter. And who knows, maybe next year when he's three, he'll be able to take the bus to the park himself, buy lunch for all his friends, then find a kindly-looking stranger to give him a ride home...

Totally kidding.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Garlic-Parmesan Potatoes au Gratin

This pairs wonderfully with Herb-Braised Chicken.

Garlic-Parmesan Potatoes au Gratin

5-10 medium potatoes
2 cups of milk
1/2 - 1 cup Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Slice potatoes in 1/4-inch slices. Prepare a 12-inch square baking pan by cutting a clove of garlic in half and rubbing the cut side all over the inside of the pan. Let dry, then rub the inside of the pan with olive oil. In a medium saucepan, combine potatoes, milk, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 400F for 45-60 minutes.

Herb-Braised Chicken

This was part of a delicious dinner I cooked earlier this week. I haven't been doing a lot of creative cooking lately, and this was a pretty standard meat-potatoes-vegetable dinner that still managed to taste extraordinary.

Herb-Braised Chicken

2 Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
4 sun-dried tomato halves, soaked in 1 cup warm water
10 pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup water

Begin by soaking the tomato halves in warm water. While they soak, chop herbs, onion, and nuts, and trim fat from chicken breast, if desired. Heat olive oil in a skillet with a lid. Saute onion and herbs for a few minutes until onion begins to soften and herbs wilt. Add chicken and cover. Cook 3-5 minutes until browned on one side. Flip to other side and cook, with lid on, another 3-5 minutes until the second side is browned. Add the soaking water from the tomatoes plus 1 more cup of water. Cover and cook until chicken is fully cooked (about 10 minutes). Replace water if it gets dry. Slice into thin slices and sprinkle with chopped pistachios, pine nuts, and tomatoes. Serve with garlic-parmesan potatoes au gratin.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A New Way to Taste the Rainbow :)

What better way to make sure you get all your colorful fruits and vegetables than to drink them?! Just so I know I'm getting a well-rounded share of nutrients, I decided I'm going to have a different color juice every day of the week. I made all my juices for two weeks and put one week's store in the freezer. I've got green, yellow, orange, red, and purple, plus white (coconut milk) and a random mixture for day seven. Here's my beautiful rainbow:

Green Juice:
1/2 cucumber
1 apple
1 pear
1 handful spinach
1 handful carrot tops
Juice of 1 lime

Puree in blender on highest speed with enough water to blend. Strain through muslin cloth and add water to make 4 cups.

Yellow Juice:
1 mango
1/2 pineapple
Juice of 2 lemons

Puree in blender on highest speed with enough water to blend. Do not strain. Add water to make 4 cups.

Orange Juice:
2 carrots
1 mango
Juice of 3 oranges

Puree in blender on highest speed with enough water to blend. Strain through muslin cloth and add water to make 4 cups.

Red Juice:
1 beet
1 cup raspberries
10 strawberries
1/2 cup cranberry juice
Juice of half a lemon

Puree in blender on highest speed with enough water to blend. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and add water to make 4 cups. Add agave nectar to taste, if desired.

Purple Juice:
1 packet frozen acai pulp
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
5 strawberries

Puree in blender on highest speed with enough water to blend. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and add water to make 4 cups.

Roast Pork with Sake-Beet Reduction

This was last night's dinner, and it was a roaring success! The only objection I can think of is that it kind of looks like the pork is bleeding, lol. It could maybe use a little thickening, but with what, I'm not quite sure. Maybe I'll tinker a little. Anyway, here it is:

Roast Port with Sake-Beet Reduction

1 Pork Loin Roast
2-3 fresh beets
1/4 cup Sake
1 Lemon
Granulated Garlic
2 Tbsp. Butter

Preheat oven to 450F. Rub roast with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Place in roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 250F and roast until thermometer inserted in several places in roast reads 155F, about 60 to 90 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let it rest, loosely covered, 15 minutes. While pork is roasting, peel beets and blend in blender with 1 cup water until pureed. Strain through a muslin cloth. Gently boil (being careful that it does not boil over) until reduced by half. Add salt to taste and juice of half a lemon (reserving the other half for garnish). When roast is out of oven, add the pan juices to the beet sauce, along with sake. Boil gently for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add butter, stirring to melt and thicken sauce slightly. Serve over pork.

Here's the finished product:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No meat? No problem!

I tried a meat-less meal today. I know, I know. Me? Carnivore extraordinaire? Yep. And guess what. IT WAS AWESOME!!! No, really. It was. I found some wonderful produce at the farmer's market today, including delicious spring maui onions, and the best sweet potatoes I've ever had. Here's what I did:

Farmer's Market Lentil Curry

1 cup red lentils
2 small or 1 large sweet potato/yam, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 spring maui onion (or any spring onion OR mature sweet onion), sliced
2-4 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 quart vegetable broth
2 Tbsp honey
Juice of half a lemon, plus more for garnish, if desired
1 jalapeno, partially dried, diced (optional)
Salt to taste
Jasmine rice (optional, for serving)

This recipe may seem to have a lot of ingredients, but it's so simple. All you do is put everything (except the rice) into a pot and bring it to a boil, then simmer about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender. Serve it over jasmine rice with a squirt of lemon juice. I had a jalapeno that had been sitting a while and partially dried (and turned red), so I put that in. I think a fresh one would give a different flavor, but I liked the dried one. It's up to you, really. Just gives it a nice kick!

And Voila!

This one actually deserves a "wow." It was THAT surprisingly good. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gardening Fun - Week 3

Oh my goodness, look what's growing...

Purple Beans!

And soybeans...

And FINALLY my pumpkins...

It seems like it took forever, but they're finally sprouting.

And in the front yard, my corn...

...and carrots...

This is the clump o' seeds that Talon planted, lol...

And my indoor babies are still doing well.

Red onions...


and broccoli...I don't know how I'm going to keep the broccoli in the container for three more weeks!

But there it is :) I can't believe I'm making things grow! Stay tuned for next week's updates...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hummus - Chip Dip of the Gods

Sorry for the lack of pictures on this one.It was late, and I was tired and hungry. The bottom line is: I made hummus! And it was surprisingly easy. Here's how I did it:

1 can garbanzo beans
1/4-1/2 cup tahini (depending on taste - I like a lot)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon salt (you can use less - I love salt)
Juice from half a lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid, and chop the garlic. In a food processor, process all ingredients until smooth and delicious! You can add some of the reserved liquid if it is too thick. Well, that's pretty much it :)

Mommy Makes Milk! - Part Three

Yep,yep, I'm at it again. This time, I've made coconut milk, and it is so easy! You just use dried coconut, so you don't have to mess with the fresh one (not so fun). All you need is:

1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
4 cups hot water

Empty the coconut into a bowl

and pour 2 cups of hot water over it.

Let it sit about an hour. Reach in and squeeze the coconut shreds a few times to help get out as much "milk" as possible, then put the whole mess into a blender and blend on highest speed for about a minute. Strain through your trusty muslin bag, squeezing to get out all the water. You will be left with coconut shreds.

Now,take that coconut and put it back into the bowl, adding 2 more cups of hot water. You can get even more milk this way. Let it sit a few minutes, squeeze it out, and blend again. Strain it, and add it to the first batch. That's it!

After it gets cold in the fridge some coconut oil will separate out and solidify on the top. You can either spoon it off or just shake it up and drink/use it. It's up to you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As American As...

That's right...Apple Pie! Raw apple pie, that is. No, seriously. Alright, so this one was only KIND OF a success for me. It definitely needs some tinkering. In reality, I ran out of maple syrup, so the end result was lacking a little in the sweetness department, and I'll admit, the coconut in the ice cream, not a great idea. Maybe it's just not to my taste. But aside from those two little snares, this dessert went pretty well. And I have more pictures for this one so you can see the step-by-step process :)

Raw Apple Pie with Maple-Pecan Ice Cream

For the Pie -
5 granny smith apples
1/2 cup raisins
6 dates, divided
4 tsp. cinnamon, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup pecans, divided
1/4 cup cracked wheat
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup raw honey

For the Ice Cream -
2 cups cashews
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 vanilla bean
2 cups water
1 mature coconut

Food Processor
8"X8" baking pan
8" pie tin

Soak cashews in 2 cups water for a few hours. Also soak raisins in 1/2 cup water,and soak cracked wheat in 1/2 cup water.

Drill holes in eyes of coconut and drain out water.

Then, crack coconut open and remove flesh, cutting off brown skin that may adhere to it.

Process coconut flesh in food processor until finely ground, then add reserved coconut water and process until blended and as smooth as possible.

To make ice cream:
Drain cashews and save soaking water. Process cashews in food processor until finely ground and mixture begins to stick together. Add water, maple syrup, and scraped vanilla bean and process until smooth. Add coconut mixture and process to blend. Pour into pan and add chopped pecans. Freeze until firm.

To make pie:
Process 1 cup of pecans and 2 dates until finely ground...

Press into bottom of pie tin.

Process 1 apple, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 3 dates, raisins, along with their soaking water, vanilla, maple syrup, and honey.

Peel. core, and slice remaining apples...

and mix with blended apple mixture...

Pour into pie crust. Process remaining 1/4 cup pecans with 1 date and 1 tsp. cinnamon until finely ground. Mix with soaked cracked wheat and sprinkle over apples. Drizzle with a bit more maple syrup, if desired.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably longer.

And there you have it!

Delicious raw apple pie with maple-pecan ice cream. Definitely one to write home about :)