Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Monday, July 8, 2013
The last few months have been crazy busy. If you've been to my main blog over at Life on Purpose and Principle, you know that in the last 2-3 months, I've become a grandmother, moved (drastically downsizing in the process), become a mother in law, helped plan and host my youngest stepson's high school graduation and had company from out of state...twice. Whew. It seriously tires me to reminisce. And in all that busyness, sometimes our food choices were less than optimal. Now that the dust has settled, it's time to re-evaluate what we eat and make some changes.
Looking back, I see how God has gently led me to where I am now. Thanks to my grandmother, I learned how to throw things together, make bread, "get all the goody out" (use a spatula to scrape out every last bit of batter or whatever you've mixed up), and I am thankful for both the instruction and the fond memories of working with my grandma in the kitchen. I began cooking on my own at a young age and loved coming up with my own recipes.
About four years ago, I had my eyes opened by attending a Nourishing Our Children seminar. I was so mad by the end of it, I wanted to go home and throw out all our food! Since that was not practical at all for this one-income family, I gave away the worst offenders (or just threw it away), and gradually used up what was left, replacing what was used up with healthier alternatives. I began to make my own mixes for taco seasoning, onion soup mix (and yes, it can be made without boullion, and therefore without MSG), cookies, breads, and anything else I might have bought in a box at the store.
I eased into fermenting with water kefir, dairy kefir, and eventually sourdough. I have to admit to being afraid of making my own lacto fermented vegetables, and so I have not ventured into that arena, yet. I used to be afraid of balsamic vinegar, because it was so dark. I just had no idea what it would taste like and was afraid to try it. Turns out I've been missing out on one of the most delicious (not to mention healthful) condiments I've ever tried. I put that stuff on anything, even eggs. I'd put it on, or in, more things, but my husband doesn't like vinegar in general, and especially not balsamic. Boo. Sometimes I wonder how we connected...we seem to be polar opposites when it comes to many foods.
Eight months ago, I finally yielded to the Lord's leading and went gluten-free. After sulking for several days, I finally put my Big Girl Panties on and dealt with it. And I'm so glad I did! I've lost 20 pounds without doing anything other than not eating grains with gluten, my blood sugar is better controlled, and I just feel better in general. I've seen improvements in my children - my son no longer has paint-peeling gas, his bowel movements are normal, his bumpy rash on his face is gone, and he is somewhat less hyper; my daughter reported feeling less tired, more clear-headed, and no longer itches constantly. She has also learned to not "cheat" - because she feels so terrible after eating something with gluten. I'm glad she willingly makes the choice!
Lately, God's been nudging me to check out the Paleo thing. At first I thought good heavens, I don't think I can handle any more dietary changes and food restrictions. It's hard enough sometimes, especially when well-meaning family and friends don't quite "get it", or going to a get together and the only thing that is "legal" to eat is on the veggie tray...but no dip, since we don't know what is in it. I'm getting used to bringing our own food, eating what I can and being happy with it, or just not eating, but honestly, it just kind of sucks sometimes. I don't want to have to constantly watch what I'm eating. It's not fair that other people can eat anything and have no health problems! But, then again, perhaps that's what's wrong with the world these days, everyone doing what they want with no thought to the consequences. Maybe it's not such a bad thing to have to be mindful of what you're doing all the time. I'll have to remember that when we go to our daughter's 4H picnic tonight. At least they're having hamburgers, not just hot dogs!
Several years ago, I did the Atkin's diet and lost about 45 pounds. I don't want to do that again (the Atkin's diet...I have NO problem with losing 45 pounds!) because that diet requires the use of artificial sweeteners and soy, but I do know that cutting out carbs (which for me amounts to a lot of grains in general, gluten-free or otherwise) means I feel better and lose weight. I've found that I love love love Miracle Noodles, and am finding a lot of recipes to make tortillas, and other foods traditionally made with grains, with things like cauliflower instead.
A friend of mine and I recently discussed the trend of replacing "off limit" foods with something similar, made with "legal" ingredients. She wondered why do we do that instead of just not eating those things anymore. Why do we feel the need to replace everything with something similar? I see her point, because sometimes we just trade one thing for something else that may not be good for us. I've been thinking about it a lot, and I think that food is, for some people, something that is very intimate - it's a relationship. If you broke up with your boyfriend, you wouldn't want to replace him with a potted plant, even though it may be healthier for you. You want to find another boyfriend, another person to connect with. Someone similar, but without the traits you hated in the guy you dumped.
Humans are also creatures of habit! For some, there is so much comfort in the routine and ordinary it's hard to change. And there's also the fact that some of the things we eat we just don't want to eliminate because we really like them that much. But when your health is compromised, you have to make a choice.
I have seen a gradual improvement in my health, but it's time to take it to the next level. I KNOW I feel better when I don't eat a lot of carbs - I am not ravenously hungry all the time, am satisfied longer between meals, and often have more energy. I'm also on a budget, so "going Paleo" is going to require good planning and stewardship. I know that God provides when He calls us into anything...whether it's overseas missions or just something as mundane as diet (I can't tell you how many times I've been blessed with gluten free foods, either just given to me or finding them dirt-cheap at the store!). I've recently found Miracle Noodles for 30c a bag at a local discount grocery store.
So, what now? Research. Try new recipes. Do the best I can with what I have. Don't beat myself up when the budget says we have to eat rice this week...several times. Be thankful for what I have, and that God loves me so much He wants to help me be healthy. And try not to miss ice cream too much. And keep hoping that after a season of being grain-free, I can try introducing soaked grains again, because I do so love a good sourdough. Sourdough pancakes were a favorite around here...we even named our sourdough - Jack (after "Sourdough Jack" Mabee). I miss Jack. A lot.
My next bunch of posts will likely be Paleo recipes, either that I've tried or want to. I'd love to hear from you and your experiences with the Paleo lifestyle! Please share your stories, recipes and tips in the comment section!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Since I posted the giveaway a couple weeks ago, we found a new house to move to. And Moving Day is tomorrow!!!! In all the chaos of packing and purging (should be PURGING and then packing but hey, we decided to move with a week to get it done so what can one expect?) I nearly forgot that today was the Big Day where I get to pick the winner of that free bag of All Purpose Gluten Free Flour from CC Dolch!
I also had limited time, so I hired my Junior Kitchen Assistant and asked him to pick a number out of his cool cowboy hat...
|Junior Kitchen Assistant with Cool Cowboy Hat.|
|Lucky Number 5!!|
The fifth person to comment was...
Janet, please contact me with your email address and I'll get this out to you as soon as possible (hopefully Friday). And could you please send them an email and thank them for their kind generosity? I am so impressed with this company!
Thank you all for participating and checking out my blog. I hope to have more giveaways in the future! Now, back to packing....ugh.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
My Aunt Kathy makes this amazingly yummy cranberry salad during the holidays. She's made it for decades, I believe. I know when I was little I always looked forward to the white covered dish with the blue square design, because that (usually) meant Cranberry Salad lay hidden within. Sometimes she would put something else in there instead...a crushing disappointment. I remember one time she shared that the secret is using one of those old fashioned hand grinders, not a food processor, because the texture is better...more "rustic" I'd call it. Food processors make everything uniform in shape, this puppy cranks out wonderfully random chunks of texture. I love it!
My husband's grandmother has one, and I borrowed it one year to make Aunt Kathy's Cranberry Salad and never gave it back. Not because I'm a thief though, I'm just forgetful! One day, my mom surprised me and gave me one she picked up at an auction, for something like $2. I couldn't believe it, it was in excellent shape and she only paid a couple of bucks for it. Awesome bargain shopping mom!
I've wanted to try grinding my own hamburger for a while, but a couple of things kept me from it...I wasn't really sure how to do it, I feared it would be a humongous pain to clean the grinder, and flashbacks from years ago when I used an electric meat grinder to grind venison. Blech. I don't want to talk about that. At ALL.
I wanted to make something with hamburger for supper, and didn't want to go to the butcher shop and spend money. So, I got a chuck roast out of the freezer this morning to thaw. I was blessed to receive a bunch of good quality meat (as in local, grass fed) from a friend who was cleaning out her freezer to make room for the annual meat order she does. I searched online for "how to grind your own hamburger with an old fashioned grinder"...turns out it's pretty straight forward. Cut the meat into chunks, freeze it a bit, then grind it. What was I worried about then? Ok right...
So, here is how you use that cool antique grinder your Great Aunt Tilly left you...
|The Players: Antique Grinder, 2# (or so) Grassfed Beef Chuck Roast,|
and the ultimate kitchen tool...a VERY sharp Knife!
|I got about eight cups of chunks and a couple nice meaty bones for|
broth out of my chuck roast. I'm just guessing at the weight, seemed
like a couple pounds or so by the feel of it.
|I couldn't remember if I read you should grind it more than one time or not,|
so I ground a tiny bit twice. The piece on the left was ground twice, it looks
less "chunky" than the only-one-time-through piece.
|This is Chloe, "the quicker picker-upper". She is always ready to lend a|
tongue in the kitchen and knows right where to station herself when I'm
cooking. She was a big help today with helping me clean up ground beef mess.
This was a bit labor-intensive, but worth the effort. I couldn't believe how tender this meat was! We've been wanting to try the Mythbusters method of tenderizing meat with high explosives, but grinding it ourselves is probably a much more legal and safe way to do it. Some day, though...
I ended up making some really delicious hamburgers for supper and have decided that when I want to make hamburgers, I'm going to grind the meat myself. It was seriously that good! Next time, I will add a bit more seasoning. The test burgers were terrific, and I didn't think they needed anything but salt and pepper. The full sized burgers needed a bit more salt...but I've been over-salting stuff lately so I didn't want to overdo it. Easier to add salt than take it out!
Check out my delicious Home Ground Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions here...and have fun grinding stuff! I'd love to hear about your own grinder stories (where did you get yours? What do you use it for?) and recipes so please comment below!
After making my own ground beef from a grassfed beef chuck roast yesterday, I could only do one thing...make hamburgers for supper! There's lots of fancy ways to make burgers, but I opted for simple. Salt and pepper were the only seasonings this flavorful meat needed, although I should have used more salt. But, other than that they were delicious, juicy and tender. Grinding your own beef really results in a more tender burger. Not sure how, but it does. Check out how to grind your own hamburger on my DIY post: Make Your Own Ground Beef Using an Old Fashioned Grinder.
I topped mine off with cheddar cheese, freshly sliced off the block and caramelized onions, hubby got Swiss cheese, and picky 12 year old daughter got mozzarella. Mister's got cheddar too. I'm typing this the next morning, and I would love to have a cheeseburger for breakfast right now. They were that good!
Caramelized onions...those are something I am trying to master and I get varying results. One thing I can tell you is that they can go from caramelized to carbonized in the blink of an eye. They are not really something you should try to make while you're doing something else, especially if you have a tendency to be distractible. Not that I don't try to prove that wrong. I should think about making them before whatever I'm going to put them on, but what usually happens is I get some idea for [______] with Caramelized Onions and start making everything. I wonder if I could make a bunch and freeze them in small portions. I think I'll try that.
I cut out an article in the paper years ago about making caramelized onions and it takes forever to do it right. One of these days I'm going to follow those directions instead of doing it my way, I have a feeling they'll turn out better. Or, I'll try making them in my crock pot, following the recipe I found at food.com, Crockpot Caramelized Onions. Definitely look through the comments, there's some good tips there.
How I Make Caramelized Onions, and Sometimes Carbonized...
This is one of those "recipes" that is not really a recipe...I cut up some onion (I prefer Vidalia), melt some butter in a hot cast iron skillet, dump in the onions, salt them a bit, and let them cook slowly. Or try to. Seems like I always end up with the pan too hot. But anyway, stir them around to get them coated in the butter, and stir occasionally. When they start to turn brownish, you have to really pay attention...stir often, and don't walk away from the stove!
|Add sliced, sweet onions to a hot cast iron skillet with melted butter.|
This was one small onion and 2-3 Tbs butter and a sprinkling of salt.
|After several minutes of cooking, they are already starting to brown|
|And, before you know it...they're getting overdone...sigh...|
|And now for the burgers...freshly ground, pattied and seasoned|
with salt and pepper.
|This is how I have to cook our burgers. Cook mine and the kids|
first, flip, then add my husband's. He likes his still mooing. YUK.
|I drizzled balsamic reduction over my burger, and enjoyed a simple|
kale salad with green peppers, onions and homemade ranch dressing
along with it. Oh, and some Mediterranean seasoned potato chips.
Grinding your own hamburger may or may not be more economical. Our local butcher sells ground beef for $3.89 a pound right now, a chuck roast is $4.39. But honestly, I loved the beef I ground myself so much I think I just might be willing to pay a little more and do the work myself, at least if I'm going to make hamburgers. If it's going into chili or some other kind of ground beef dish, I'd stick with the pre-ground hamburger. A big, juicy, delicious hamburger really showcases the tenderness of home ground beef.
What are your favorite ways to prepare burgers? Have you ever ground your own beef? What's your favorite way to use caramelized onions?
Monday, April 15, 2013
|Be sure to enter my Giveaway to win a|
FREE bag of CC Dolch Gluten Free All Purpose Flour!
See the bottom of this post for more info...
Supper tonight was Chicken, (Turkey) Bacon and Ranch Pizza, and I used the C. C. Dolch Gluten Free Flour pizza crust recipe. I really like that pizza crust...it's not 100% like the "real" stuff...there's no way, really, to get that chewy-ness in a gluten crust without the gluten. Just the nature of things. BUT, it's fantastically easy and doesn't have that weird flavor that a lot of GF flours and pizza crust mixes have because they don't put bean flour in there. Some people don't mind it, I guess. But I really don't care for it...weird flavor and weird texture. Boo.
I didn't have any ranch dressing on hand, and was out of mayo, so I went searching for a mayo-less ranch recipe. The one below was a good starting place, but for my tastes I needed to add some stuff to get it to where I liked it. I added vinegar (would have used lemon juice if I had any lemons), more garlic and onion powder, more salt, and a pinch of sugar. Most likely, it just needed a bit of time chilling in the fridge, but as I made it right before making supper, I had to use it as it was.
Freshly shredded cheese tastes soooo much better, and today I used a combination of mozzarella and cheddar. It's also cheaper by the pound, unless there is a tremendously good sale. I get lazy and forget that sometimes and buy the preshredded stuff. But really, nothing compares to creamy, melty mozzarella that was shredded directly over your pizza. Mmmmm!
So, here's the recipes...there's several: the crust, ranch dressing, and putting it all together.
Pizza Crust (from the back of the CC Dolch flour bag or here on their website)
- 1 T. yeast
- 1 1/2 T. white sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 T. oil
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 3 cups sifted gluten-free flour
Preheat oven to 350. Combine yeast, sugar and warm water and let set for 5 minutes. Add oil, garlic powder, salt, oregano and flour. Mix all ingredients and put in a large pizza pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350º. Top with your favourite sauce, topping and cheese. Finish baking until crust is light brown.
Ranch Dressing (on allrecipes.com)
- 1 c sour cream
- 1/2 c buttermilk or soured milk (milk + vinegar)
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried chives
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp dried dillweed
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 18 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- 1 pizza crust, prepared and baked 10 minutes
- 1/4-1/2 c ranch dressing
- 1-1 1/2 c chopped, cooked chicken
- 6-8 slices of turkey bacon, chopped and cooked to desired crispness
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1-2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1-2 c cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
|Topped with cheese|
and ready to bake
After removing pizza crust from oven, spread ranch dressing over the top. Sprinkle cooked chicken, onions and bacon on top. Layer cheddar cheese and mozzarella. Sprinkle garlic powder on top and return to 350 degree oven and bake until crust and cheese are lightly browned, 18-25 minutes depending on your oven.
|Mmmm...good AND gluten free!|
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
I am giving away a 22 oz bag of CC Dolch All Purpose
Gluten Free Flour!
to Enter. Hurry, giveaway ends April 30, 2013!
I've been extolling the wonderfulness of C. C. Dolch Gluten Free All Purpose Flour in my last couple of posts. I even wrote to the company to tell them how much I loved their flour, and that I recommended it on my blog. I received a lovely reply and they even sent me a couple of bags of flour!
Today, I made a scrumptious Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Pizza and while I was making it I thought, I should share the love! In fact, I was puzzled about why they sent two bags of flour and two brochures...well duh, so I could share! I made this realization after opening one of the bags, so i just have one to share now. They didn't specifically say that's what I should do with it, but I try to be generous when I can. Besides, I know first hand how hard going gluten free can be, especially at first when you've been a bread and pasta lover all your life. So, I would love to help someone out with this amazingly wonderful flour!
So, up for grabs is one 22 oz package of C. C. Dolch Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, seen modeled here by my Kitchen Assistants...
|Sr and Jr Kitchen Assistants showing off the Grand Prize. I don't think Jr would be smiling quite so much if he understood that mommy is giving away that bag of flour!|
Complicated giveaway entries on blogs really irritate me, so I'm going to make it really, really simple for you.
1. Follow my blog and...
2. leave a comment on this post about what you'd like to make with this flour
Be sure to spread the word, too!
Giveaway ends on April 30th!