Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Venison Fajitas

This is not the post I was going to write about, nor is this the recipe that I was going to share, but for some reason, my fingers and thumbs collaborated together to overthrow my brain.

It was a conspiracy and I am a victim.

I guess my brain went willingly, thinking it would be criminal to not share this recipe before the Pork Stir-Fry recipe. Both were delicious. Both were low carb. And both were gobbled up so quickly that old records were shattered. Well, if we kept records, I'm sure they would've shattered.

The whole recipe took less than a half hour from start to finish, dirtied enough dishes to make it look like I slaved for hours, and kept my kids from arguing for the whole 20 seconds it took for them to gobble it down.

I'm officially keeping records now.☺

~Venison Fajitas~

~The Players~
2 lbs. deer steak or beef rib eye steak, sliced very thin
2 Tb. olive oil
1 organic, red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 organic, orange pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 sweet onion, julienned
2 tomatoes, halved, then sliced very thin
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. paprika
2 Tb. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (4-5 Tb.)
6" corn tortillas, warmed
Optional: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, grated cheese, wedge of lime

In a large skillet, heat olive oil; add meat. Cook until meat has just a little pink color in it. Remove from heat. (It will finish cooking in the pan.) Add lime juice, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Stir and set aside.

Place prepared red and orange peppers, and onion in broiler pan. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top.

Place pan under broiler and broil until vegetables start to brown; about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven. Add meat mixture into the pepper/onion mix and toss with tongs. Add tomatoes and toss again.

Sprinkle fresh, chopped cilantro on the fajita mix. Serve with warmed corn tortillas, and any optional ingredients.

And DON'T BLINK or you may miss out!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Lower Carb Meal Plan for 5/30-6/5/11

In the past, I've tried a multitude of diets with little to no success. Oh, I've lost weight, got fit, and stuck with them for the required amount of time, but I just haven't been able to maintain that pace or dedication.

Here are a few and their outcomes...

*The Low Fat/No Fat Diet~Lost a few pounds, but that may have been the total weight of my gall bladder which had to be removed. When the body is deprived of cholesterol (from animal fats), the gall bladder puts itself in crisis mode and starts pumping out extra cholesterol to make up for it. Since hormones require cholesterol to function, this also explains the hysterectomy that followed. Total weight loss= 1 gall bladder and 1 uterus & ovary.

*The Absolutely No Carb Diet~Lost a few pounds, but felt so stupid while on that diet that I don't remember much about it except how stupid I was. This diet requires that you own stock in the Tic-Tac company as you will have extreme bad breath due to purposely throwing yourself into keto acidosis, a reaction that diabetics work hard to prevent.

*The No Sugar Diet~Not to be confused with low-carb, this diet consists of Diet Cokes, Yoplait yogurts, and little pink & blue packets in the purse. It also consists of lots of ibuprofen to hold back the headaches that come from consuming artificial sweeteners.

*The Eat Less, Move More Diet~This is the standard diet that every doctor in America tries to sell. Fact: You can NOT keep up a vigorous exercise routine without feeding your body the energy that it needs to burn stored fat. It's kind of like owning a car and depriving it of gasoline. You can still make the car move, but pushing the car several inches is not the same as driving the car several miles.

With 35 pounds to lose, I've embarked on another plan. This time I'm using a more common sense approach. The majority of my diet is made up of carbohydrates, and without them I'm just sure I would collapse into a sobbing mess of Diva-sized proportions. And the Daytime Emmy goes to...well, we'll just see.

I've hinted around to the fact that I'm giving up bad carbs, but in doing so I felt that I needed to count calories, fat grams, etc...I'm busy enough that adding math to my daily routine is just setting myself up to fail. Recently, I stumbled onto a new book by Jorge Cruise called, "The Belly Fat Cure". In it, I have found my answer. It may not be the answer for everyone else, but for me this makes sense. I am allowed up to 6 carb servings and 15 grams of sugar a day. The 6 servings equals up to 120 grams of carbohydrates! This means that toast is my friend again.

I've missed toast.

The best part? I've lost more than 4 pounds already, which means that I'm a little over 30 lbs. from my goal! Because this isn't so much a diet as it is a lifestyle change, my family will be eating the same foods as me, with a few extras. Nothing has really changed except the amount of carbohydrates/sugar that I consume. I'm still using coconut oil/milk, butter, beef tallow for fats. I'm still using whole grains, fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish/seafood, and plenty of raw cream. What I am not eating is anything white or made with soy. (Lucky for me that raw cream is not white!) Pretty easy, right?

Here's what's cookin' this week...

B: French Toast, butter, fruit spread w/no added sugar (Ezekiel bread for mom, sourdough bread for family)
L: Crispy Bacon Pizza on whole wheat pita bread (mom)
D: Pork Stir-fry, brown rice (family)
My birthday cake/ice cream: Dark Chocolate GF Cake (small sliver) & Mocha Coconut Milk Ice Cream

B: Coconut Flour Pancakes (mom)
Speltcakes (family)
L: Swiss Mushroom Burgers (Ezekiel buns for mom, whole wheat buns for family)
D: Carne Asada Tacos with elk steak, guacamole, 12 organic corn tortilla chips
Snacks: Hard-boiled egg, frozen blueberries & raw cream

B: Ham & Cheese Omelette's
L: BLT on Ezekiel bread, raw veggies w/ Ranch Dip
D: Steak Fajitas w/ deer steak, guacamole, 12 organic corn tortilla chips
Snacks: Soaked, crispy almonds, frozen blueberries & raw cream

B: Quiche Lorraine, roasted red potatoes (family)
L: Meaty Pizza on whole wheat pita bread, raw veggies w/ Ranch Dip
D: Chicken Curry (over bean sprouts for mom, brown rice for family)
Snacks: String cheese, frozen blackberries & raw cream

B: Sausage, egg, and cheese "McMuffins" (Ezekiel English muffins for mom, whole wheat for family)
L: Roast beef & Cheddar Sandwich w/ tomatoes and lettuce (Ezekiel, mom; sourdough, family)
D: Barbecued Bacon Burger (Ezekiel buns, mom; whole wheat, family)
Snacks: Cottage cheese, soaked almonds

B: Scrambled eggs & sausage, frozen blackberries & raw cream
L: Tuna salad in 1/2 pita bread, raw veggies w/ Ranch dip
D: Extraordinary Macaroni & Cheese, Farmer's Market salad w/ Bleu Cheese dressing
Snacks: celery w/ cream cheese, coconut oil popped popcorn with butter

B: Coconut Milk Smoothies w/ blueberries (sweetened with liquid stevia)
L: Turkey, cream cheese, and pickle roll-ups
D: Lime-crusted Mahi-Mahi, Farmer's Market salad w/ Bleu Cheese dressing
Snacks: Frozen berries & raw cream

The book, "Belly Fat Cure" has pre-made menu plans in it to help get into the swing of things. This week is all about the "Meat Lover's" in our family...next week, it'll be for the love of "Carbs".

I think I've found my food-loving Shangri-la...sigh...

*I am not affiliated with this book, nor do I get anything to promote it. It's just me, sharing with you what is working for me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cheesey Broccoli Soup

There was a time in my life, not so very long ago, where the canned soup aisle was my favorite grocery store destination. I knew all the rules about only shopping in the outer aisles where the meats, produce, and dairy were, but those were secondary to the soup aisle.

When we started reading labels, I quickly realized that the canned soup aisle was not my friend. In fact, if we would've kept up with our "relationship", that aisle would've eventually killed me.

The Campbell's people knew that too, that's why they, along with most of the other soup maker's, started offering "healthier" alternatives. For my family, that still wasn't good enough. A person should never get a headache or expect their fingers to swell after consuming a bowl of comforting chicken noodle soup.

But that's exactly what happens. Loaded with sodium, msg, and other words that would send spell-check into melt-down mode, this is not the dreams that soups are made of.

Recently, I decided to clean out our pantry area that holds our store-bought, canned foods. I ended up throwing away 31 cans of soup.

Because they were expired.

Considering canned soups have a shelf life of 100 years or so (give or take a year), that's a clue as to just how long it's been since we've cracked open a can.

With broccoli coming into season, now is a great time to use this versatile veggie. Higher in vitamin C than any citrus fruit, broccoli is considered one of the top 10 powerhouse fruits & vegetables. Broccoli has also been proven to fight and prevent cancer, is high in fiber, and is low carb. Don't worry too much about whether or not your broccoli is organic, broccoli is one of the "Clean 15", which makes it a very inexpensive whole food.

A quick trip to Costco and a stormy day are to blame for this soup.

Never in my life have I ever been so thankful for the rain.

~Cheesey Broccoli Soup~

~The Players~
6 cups broccoli heads
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 large, sweet onion, chopped
1 orange or red pepper, diced
2 medium, thin-skinned potatoes, diced
2 Tb. unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour (Use rice flour to make it gluten-free!)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
pinch of cayenne
salt & pepper, to taste
4 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Steam broccoli; set aside. In a large pot, saute onion and sweet pepper until soft. Add broth and bring to boil. Add potato pieces and cook with lid on until potatoes are soft.

Temper the heavy cream and add to the soup. Stir in milk. Add broccoli and flour.

Using a food processor, puree soup in batches until all is creamy. Put soup back into pot and reheat, but do NOT boil. Stir in cayenne pepper; season with salt & pepper to taste.

Remove from heat. Stir in Monterey Jack cheese until melted. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Serves 12~just enough for lunch tomorrow!


This post is linked to The GCC Recipe Swap.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Venison Stroganoff

As a young newlywed, I had illusions of my new hubby and I standing side-by-side in the kitchen, preparing our meals together. Or, at the very least, I'd cook, he'd clean.

This is the stuff that should be covered in pre-marriage counseling.

It would save a lot of disillusionment.

While things didn't exactly go according to my silly dreams, I did find out a very important detail about my Mister.

He CAN cook.

If he has to.

A couple of months into our new marriage, I came down with the flu. Not just a 24-hour bug, but a full-on-knock-ya-to-the-ground kind of flu. Here I was vomiting profusely in front of my beloved and I hadn't even let him see me without my make-up yet! I thought that was me at my worst, and if he could love me with my head resting on the side of the porcelain throne, we could withstand anything.

Then we started having children.

I guess the flu was just preparing my hubby for what was to come.

Back to the flu...my new husband decided that all that was needed to make his sweetheart better was a good hearty dinner. So, he took it upon himself to introduce me to his version of Beef Stroganoff.

I wish I could tell you how much I loved his meal. What I can tell you is that I loved the effort he made to make that meal.

Fast forward 24 years, and through no fault of my Mister's, I am finally able to eat stroganoff again.

I'm just sorry for all the time that was wasted.

~Venison Stroganoff~

~The Players~

2 lbs. venison, sliced thin (can use beef if preferred)
1/2 cup flour (can use rice flour)
4 Tb. unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
2 cups beef stock
1 tsp. tamari sauce
1 cup sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste

Slice the meat very thin. It helps if the meat is partially frozen.

Add flour and mix well. It helps if this is done in a bowl.☺

In a deep-sided frying pan (I used a cast iron chicken fryer), melt the butter. Add the meat/flour and brown. Add the onions, mushrooms, broth, and tamari sauce. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove from heat; add sour cream, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over whole wheat egg noodles, brown rice, or potatoes.

This would work in a crockpot too. Brown the meat, and dump everything but the sour cream into the pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Before serving, add sour cream.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Gardener's Dream...and Some Other Farmy Stuff

What a busy, busy week we've had! The fact that we broke our record for most days without rain, which was previously 2, should've been the highlight of our week.

But there was more fun in store.

If you missed my post on our new turkey poults, go here. I'm going to give a quick lesson on incubating eggs. The directions say to mark one side of the egg with an "O" and the other side with an "X". Easy enough. But if you get all cocky and say "I already know what I'm doing", and don't read the fine print, you'll miss out on a very important detail.

The marking is to be done with a lead pencil.

Not a permanent marker.

We're calling him X1. He has 4 other siblings, with the same markings, that we are calling X2-5. The two who are mark-free have been teasing the others mercilessly. It looks like we may have to separate them.

Since my back surgery, I've been trying to be careful with my stooping, lifting, twisting, and missteps. I wasn't sure how gardening season was going to play out this year as I have a few more months before I'm officially "released" to be normal again.

Whatever that means.

We had a pile of cedar fence posts that were either too short, or fat, or twisted to use for fencing, so my Mister repurposed them for raised garden beds. I think he wants to make sure he's not stuck with all of the gardening...very smart man!

The beds are 7' x 3-1/2'. The ends were notched to fit together, then a spike was driven through to hold them in place. After that, chicken wire was stapled to the bottom to deter any unwanted critters.

We filled them with some composted soil.

Between the 12 beds, we rolled out some white mesh-y type material. Then we added some walk-on bark. I dare any weed to penetrate that fortress.

Shhh...please don't tell my doctor...I'm just trying to find my "normal"!

Just one more load of bark should do it!

After we had finished for the day, it was time to plan.

Since I'm a visual learner, I needed a visual.

There will probably be a little extra room by the potatoes to plant dahlia's, zinnia's, and miniature sunflowers. Maybe I should put it on the plan?

Finally, the time has come to check Tilly-mook to see if she is with calf. Since we've never checked a cow before, my Mister decided to educate himself with an online video.

Apparently, "How to Palpate the Fundus of a Cow" is an actual subject that requires actual "tools" of the trade. Namely rubber gloves that go up to the armpit and lots of lubricant.

"You want to WHAT?"

Personally, I think we should just ask her and save her the humiliation of a palpating.☺

Meal Plan for 5/23-5/29

Last week I vowed to not enter a grocery store~my way of boycotting the ridiculous prices that seem to be everywhere.

I'll have you know...I am weak.

Without a plan, I entered the most expensive grocery store in our area. I thought I'd just run in a grab a couple of items and hopefully get a chance to see one of my daughters, who works at the Starbucks kiosk.

Didn't happen.

Not only did I purchase some really senseless items, I even went so far as to buy not 1, but 2 deli chickens. And it was my dear daughter's day off. 

Oh, the shame.

This week, I have a plan. And I'm taking back-up in the form of my Mister. Of course, I usually end up spending more when he's with me, but he will at least be able to keep me from throwing myself to the floor in protest.

Or, he can just wipe my tears after my tantrum. Either way, I'm covered.

And, speaking of my Mister...he is having surgery on Thursday. We would really appreciate your prayers for a quick recovery. Thank you!

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Scrambled eggs, bacon
sandwiches (kid's choice)
Sloppy Joe's, tater tots, green salad

Refried bean dip, tortilla chips


Egg Salad Sandwiches, raw carrots w/ Ranch dip

Simply Soaked Oatmeal w/ blueberries
Salmon Dip, tortilla chips, raw veggies w/ Ranch dip

Scrambled eggs, deer sausage

Grilled cheeseburgers with all the fixings!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Life & Death....and More Life

A few weeks ago, my turkey egg-hunting son presented me with a basketful of rogue eggs and asked if we could incubate them. Of course I said yes. 

How could I not?

In what seems like a lifetime ago, our eggs finally started to hatch. Right on time. Since I am unprepared for babies being born on the exact day of expected arrival, I was taken by surprise with the chirping emitting from the dining room. 

In our house, that could mean anything.

Actually, I was a little concerned that someone had let the cat into the house with a mouthful of something feathery. Thankfully, this chirping meant new life.

Before the day ended, we had 5 beautiful little turkey poults. 

My Mister decided to improve on his idea of a chick brooder and by the time we sat down to dinner, 4 of the 5 turkeys were safely tucked into the place they'll call home for the next few weeks. (The 5th was still drying off in the incubator.)

Life was good. 

Over the 9 years we've lived on our little farm, we've had a few dealings with an unsavory character by the name of Lucyfur. As the summers have passed, Lucyfur's notoriety has increased. In the animal kingdom, Lucyfur is a legend.

To us, she's a nasty, wicked raccoon, capable of hauling away small children and stealing cars.

Okay, maybe not cars, but I wouldn't put it past her to try.

See, Lucyfur is no ordinary raccoon. Missing half of her face, she has defied death many times. If the gunshot holes in our back porch could tell a story, they would say, she is unkillable. She is immortal. She is unstoppable.
Lucyfur gives me nightmares.

While we haven't seen her for more than a year, we know she is still around, watching and waiting for an opportune moment to turn our world upside down. 

Last night she made her move.

Raccoon damage to the turkey's back.

Thomasina fell victim to Lucyfur while she was sleeping on her roost. 


The Lucyfur legend lives on, but her days are numbered. Because of the damage that was done to the turkey, we had to put her down. And because we are farmers, albeit not very good ones, we had to salvage what we could for the table.

My Mister had to leave for work, so the butchering fell upon my son, Dakota, and I's shoulders. It was our first time butchering alone, but we did it. 

It only took an hour.

As hobby farmers, we understand the cycle of life and death. We purposely choose animals that are going to eventually nourish our family. Some animals are strictly intended for the table. Others are spared for breeding purposes. Those are the ones that we become attached to. Given real names instead of tasty dishes & designated holidays where they'll be the featured guest (like Big Mac, T-Bone, Meatball, Christmas & Thanksgiving, etc..), these are the animals/birds that we take the time to handle so that they will not "bite the hands that feed them."

These are the same animals that when tragedy happens, we cry. In my case, a lot. But then something wonderful happens to bring the cycle to full circle. New life begins where there was previously no hope. 

2 new turkeys.

The last eggs to enter the incubator~from Thomasina's hidden nest.

Better than a legend, Thomasina now has a legacy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring Risotto

Last week, before my boycott of the grocery store, I found some organic asparagus that looked entirely too good to pass up. The produce man was unpacking and stacking it as I stood next to him, commenting that it had just come off the truck.

That's really all it took to convince me to buy some. "It just came off the truck." I was so excited that everything after that is just a blur. Including the price. 

I wish I could tell you how much I paid for it, but it seems I've blocked it from my memory. That's a good thing...no sense ruining this perfect lovely recipe over something so trivial as cost.☺ 

My Mister and I planted some asparagus in our garden last year, ready to wait the prerequisite 2 years before our first tiny harvest. I wish the asparagus had been as ambitious as us. Not one single stalk popped up out of the ground this year. 

Not one.

I'm not too upset though. I have 10 dahlia bulbs ready to replace the non-compliant asparagus.

Dahlia's make me almost as happy as asparagus.☺

~Spring Risotto~

Risotto goes well with grilled salmon.

~The Players~

2 Tb. unsalted butter
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken stock (can use vegetable or beef stock)
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil. (Medium-high heat) Add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add rice and cook another 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth, stirring constantly. When the broth has been absorbed, add another cup of broth and wait until absorbed again. 

Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes. Put asparagus in ice water and set aside until needed. 

Add the final cup of broth, stir, then add asparagus and mushrooms. Turn heat down to medium-low and place a lid on the pan. When the broth is again absorbed, check rice for doneness. If the rice isn't cooked, add a little more broth or water and continue to cook until done. 

Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Two and a Half Days of Sunshine

What a glorious week we've had in the great Pacific Northwest! Even though it rained for a few of the days, we were able to enjoy 2-1/2 days of dry weather...in a row!

It could be a new record. ☺

Since my fingers have been itchin' to play in the dirt, I headed into one of our local nurseries.

Then I went to another.

An herb garden for the patio

And then I went to another....I'll have you know that cabin fever is a real illness and I've been suffering for awhile!

With the sunshine came our first breakout of dandelions. Some might call them weeds. I see potential.  In about 6 months, our weeds will have turned into wine.

At least, that's the plan. 

 With bucket in hand and 7 kids by my side, we spent an afternoon picking dandelion heads. The wine recipe called for a gallon, so that's what we picked. 

We may have started with a gallon, but after removing the green part of the flower head and all of the stems that had hitched a ride, we were left with only 2 quarts of petals.

You might be wondering how long it takes to pull every single petal off of a gallon of dandelions.

Let me tell you. It's a loooonnnnng time.

And we had run out of dandelions to pick.

Thankfully, we have our own Wizard of Oz in the Internet. We were able to find a recipe that only called for 2 quarts of petals. We were back in business!

Dandelion wine is good for digestion.
Currently, the petals are steeping in a bucket on my counter.

Sometime this week, I'll be adding the rest of the ingredients, using equipment that I'm sure is supposed to be used when making wine.

I may need to consult The Wizard again.

Maybe "he" can tell me how to get the jaundiced look off of my fingers.

During our previous stretch of dry weather, which was a total of 1, we had put up field fencing in our little field. The idea was to have a place for the goats to play.

They didn't seem too keen on our idea though.

After some coaxing, bribing, and finally some threats, they came with us to their new play yard.

Gertie dove right into the lush green grass.

Blynken chewed on every stick she could find.

They ended the day by bullying Molly.

Molly's still hiding under the coffee table.

While cleaning out the flowerbeds, in anticipation of another stretch of dry weather (probably sometime in July), I found last year's old hydrangea blooms.

Now they've been re-purposed into a nice little bouquet by our back door.

The days of sunshine made me so giddy that I almost forgot all about the days of record-setting rain we've had.


This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A No Shopping, Cook-from-the-Pantry Meal Plan 5/15/11

After a rather frustrating trip to the grocery store last week, I've decided to refrain from participating in this week's grocery run. In fact, the only shopping that I plan to do is a mid-week purchase of our raw milk. Farmer's markets are exempt from my boycott, so I'll be visiting an indoor market (Rain? I laugh in the face of rain!) at the end of the week.

Why am I boycotting the grocery stores?

Because I am too much of a lady to reach up and punch the "price controllers" right in the schnoz.

Besides, I'm short and it would probably require a step stool to reach said nose, and really, who wants to pack around a stool, just in case? And then there's that whole assault thing I'd have to not only deal with, but explain to my children why punching someone in the nose is wrong.

Hence the boycott.

It's just safer that way.

Even with a meticulously planned grocery list, I left the store with (only) 3 bags of groceries and $140.00 lighter. Since I was able to carry my own bags, maybe I should be grateful that I didn't have to return the cart in the rain!?!

Fried Eggs, Bacon, Sourdough toast
German Apple Pancake with Apple Cream
Poached eggs, toast, canned pears

Peach Melba Smoothies, Kashi crackers & cheese
Popovers with ham & cheese
Tuna salad on Sourdough
Egg Salad on Sourdough
Coconut Milk Smoothies w/blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, Banana Muffins
Simple Nachos (cheese, leftover meat, black beans, salsa, sour cream)

 Venison Stroganoff (still new), green peas
Risotto w/asparagus, mushrooms & Parmesan cheese (new), Grilled Salmon
Spicy Shredded Pork with flour tortillas, Sweet & Sour Coleslaw (new)
 Lentil Burritos, salsa, tortilla chips
Barbecued Chicken Pizza on Spelt Crust (new)
Grilled Hamburgers on homemade Whole Wheat Buns, tortilla chips, salmon dip

Raw Milk Ice Cream (probably peach☺)
After last week, I'm feeling awfully motivated to get the garden planted!

This post is linked to Menu Mondays at Organizing Junkie.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peach Melba Smoothies

In an attempt to clean out our freezers before this summer's harvest, I've been making a lot of smoothies.

When I say a lot, I really mean that most of our meals can be consumed through a straw. Including that Mexican lasagna I made the other night, but that's a meal that I'm not ready to relive.

You'll thank me for it.

See, not every meal that is made in our home is a success. There are those meals that try as I might, end up in the chicken compost bucket. My most recent flop was a prime rib roast that failed to cook after 7 hours in the oven. (It will be making its reappearance in the crockpot with some barbecue sauce this Sunday.) When those little mishaps happen, I need a backup plan.

 Our usual smoothie consists of frozen plums, strawberries, blueberries and bananas. Because we have them so often, I am now officially out of everything but blueberries. (I actually think the little buggers have been multiplying!) What I seem to have an abundance of is frozen peaches and raspberries that are squished together and covered in ice crystals. By themselves~not so impressive.

But together, they're magic.

I may need to be more purposeful in my kitchen disasters.

~Peach Melba Smoothies~

~The Players~
1 cup whole milk yogurt (I use Nancy's Organic)
1 Tb. coconut oil
1 Tb. flaxseed oil
1 Tb. 100% frozen orange juice concentrate
1 Tb. raw honey
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 cup (more or less) milk (I use raw.)

Put ingredients into blender. Blend on high until smooth. Add more milk if needed. (If you need to smoosh everything down, use a wooden spoon...after the blender is turned off. Trust me.)

Pour smoothies into glasses. Add straws.


This recipe makes 3 good-sized servings.

The 11 Natural Beauty Products I Can't Live Without

*Apparently, my original post was deleted. This is a repost from my rough draft. I tried to keep it as close to the original as I could remember.

Our local health food store hands out a monthly magazine whenever a purchase is made there. Most of the time I just scan through it, picking out little morsels, and other times it never makes it out of the car. While I don't always agree with the articles, occasionally one makes me stop and think.

Sometimes that can be a good thing.

In a recent article, a woman was asked to name her top 10 all natural products that she relies on every day. She listed items such as; saline nasal spray, alcohol/sugar-free mouthwash and wheatgrass to name a few.

To each their own I suppose, but wheatgrass is definitely something this 2-legged gal can live without.

Over the past couple of years, I've been trying to eliminate chemicals in our home. The one area that has been a little more slow going is in my bathroom, particularly the vanity area. I'm not going to list a bunch of chemicals that are common in our everyday beauty products, but just know that there's a lot. I naively googled it and lost an entire day.

At least I think it was just one day.

As a voting member of the female party, I like to look nice. I like it when my Mister notices the extra efforts I made to get all gussied up. My children like that my mood improves when Momma feels good about herself. It's not about being prideful, but about feeling good and having confidence in myself. Sometimes a hot shower is enough, but other times, it takes a little more.

And as I age, it takes a lot more.
Here are my Top 11 Beauty "Products"...
1. Coconut Oil~Besides being a healthy fat for cooking, coconut oil is amazing as a natural skin moisturizer. I use it on my unwashed face every night before bed and on my body after showering. My skin can get pretty dry during the winter months, but since I've started using coconut oil, I haven't had a problem. Coconut oil makes a great hair/scalp conditioner. I use it twice a month and have not touched a store-bought bottle of conditioner in months. It makes a great lip conditioner too.

2. Homemade Shampoo Bar~My favorite soap is made with Neem and Tea Tree Oils by Chagrin Valley Soap. I have psoriasis and my scalp flares up when I use products containing sodium laureth sulfate. Even the natural products contain ingredients that cause an adverse reaction to my skin. (Not all, but who can afford to keep trying?) My entire family is using this shampoo bar and has seen the dry/dandruff scalp issues disappear.

3. Goat's Milk Soap with Oatmeal~This cleans the face without stripping the natural oils. I don't use a particular brand, I just pick up bars at farmer's markets and natural food stores that carry locally made homemade soaps. 

4. Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap~This is my favorite all-over bodywash. It also makes the greatest shaving cream. My Mister prefers the orange, while I prefer the almond. When we go camping (dry camping), we use castile soap for shampoo too~keeps the camping load light and isn't toxic to local wildlife!

5. Crystal Rock Deodorant~I was pretty skeptical when I bought this for the first time. I originally bought some for one of my daughter who can't use traditional deodorant. She's a tom-boy, so I figured that if it worked on her, I'd give it a whirl. I'm hooked! As someone who can't use the homemade deodorant (baking soda burns my skin), this is a perfect alternative. It was put to the test a few days ago when we were building fences in the sunshine. No smell! It's a little more expensive to start, but my daughter has had hers for more than a year. I'd say that it's paid for itself!

6. Dr. Ken's Fluoride Free toothpaste~No fluoride and not one member of my family (still living under this roof anyway!) has had a cavity in more than 5 years. That's what they mean when they say, "The proof is in the pudding"...except it's toothpaste, not pudding.

7. Mineral Makeup~To say that I'm a fan of mineral makeup would be an understatement. Because mineral makeup doesn't have the classic irritants of synthetic materials, dyes and fragrances, it is easier on the skin. The loose powders are brushed on the skin and act as a natural sunscreen, very beneficial if you spend a lot of time outdoors! (I like Avon for both price and product~and no, I'm not a representative!)

8. Rose water~This is a new discovery for me. While I love my mineral makeup, it has never had the same appearance as the liquid foundation. I cannot stand the feeling of traditional foundation on my face, but I like how it smooths my skin tones out. A representative of a mineral makeup company told me that she spritzes her face with rose water after applying the mineral makeup powder. It sets the powder and gives it a smoother appearance. It also makes the makeup last longer. Sceptic that I am, I tried it and fell in love. Literally. Smells wonderful and has the added benefit of being a natural skin toner. 

9. Natural Perfume/Fragrance~My all-time favorite fragrance is Sephora's LaVanila Vanilla Coconut. (There are other fragrances, but this one is my personal favorite.) Made without parabens, synthetic dyes, fragrances, petroleum-based chemicals, sulfates or GMO ingredients, this is my summer in a bottle. The scent is subtle without being overwhelming, and doesn't cause passer-by's to start wheezing. That's always a good thing. One 1.7 ounce bottle ($58) lasted almost 3 years with me using it almost every single day. 

10. Pure Filtered Tap Water~I know, pretty simple, right? Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body, and without it, we would die in a few days. Water flushes toxins and helps us to eliminate waste from our bodies. It is needed to regulate body temperature and metabolism, yet if given the choice, most Americans would choose something other than water to drink. Unless you live in the country and get your water from a well, chances are that your water is going to have chlorine, fluoride and some other stuff in it. Use a water filter and save yourself the money, time and waste of buying bottled water.  

11. And last but not least, sunshine. Since our bodies cannot manufacture vitamin D without the sunshine, it's important to get outside and soak a little up. I'm not talking about basking on a tropical beach, covered in tanning oil. I'm talking about just getting outside, without sunscreen, for 5-30 minutes a couple of days a week. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight. (If you burn easily, stay indoors or cover up during the hottest part of the day, about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

And since vitamin D takes its time getting into the bloodstream, try not to shower for as long as possible after sun exposure. If you must, only use soap on the underarm and groin areas and avoid it everywhere else.
So that's it. Simple and natural. The only real on-going issue is with my hair styling products. I have yet to find a natural product that is affordable, efficient, and chemical free. I did however find an interesting suggestion in a homesteading book about using boiled flaxseed to make a hair gel.

I think I'll keep looking. I'm not that ambitious!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raspberry Cheesecake French Toast

Recently, my youngest son gave me the highest compliment a boy can give his momma.
"You should cook for money!"
I'm so relieved he didn't see me dancing around the kitchen prior to his arrival. Our conversation could've gone in an entirely different direction.
But you know something is good if your 11 year old son is willing to share with others.
Warning: While this is not a low-carb breakfast, it will cause uncontrollable smiles around the entire breakfast table.
Consider yourself warned.☺
~Raspberry Cheesecake French Toast~

~The Players~

16 slices of bread (I used homemade sourdough bread)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 Tb. raspberry freezer jam (or jam of your choice)
4 Tb. powdered sugar (or sucanat blended until very fine)
4 eggs
1 cup half & half
2 t. pure vanilla extract

In a small mixing bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add jam and mix until well incorporated.

Make sure to thoroughly lick all of your fingers before proceeding.

Trust me.

Using a wire whisk, gently whisk together the eggs and the half & half.

Add vanilla.

Set aside.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over 8 slices of bread. Place remaining slices on top to form sandwiches.

Melt 2 Tb. butter or coconut oil in large cast iron frying pan or a griddle.
Dip sandwiches into egg mixture; make sure to cover both sides completely. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Serve with additional powdered sugar, grade B maple syrup, or more jam.
Serves 8.