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Recipes

I’m letting the the SlowMoFood website go this year.  Rather than lose the recipes I’d posted over there, I’m going to copy them here.  (Forgive any formatting errors from this quick & dirty transfer.)   Ready?

Drunken Mushrooms!
A very simple, yet thoroughly scrumptious, way to do up mushrooms for a special occasion.
Author: Diane Speed (SlowMoFood)

Ingredients

  • 1 giant pile of whole mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 giant bottle of cheap, red wine
  • 1-4 sticks butter
  • 1 giant pile of fresh garlic, pressed
  • salt to taste
 Instructions
  1. Plop the cleaned mushrooms into a thick-bottomed pot, pour in enough wine to cover.
  2. Top with butter, garlic, and salt. Amounts are very flexible, depending on your own tastes.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low-medium heat for an hour or two until mushrooms are cooked throughout.
  4. The longer you cook them, the more flavor the mushrooms absorb. This would work great in a crockpot overnight.

Next up:

Today’s snowfally had the kids begging for snow cream but I didn’t want to go the “traditional” route of sweetened condensed milk & sugar.  I did some googling but came up empty handed — so I decided I’d just jump in and wing it.  It worked out great!

Scale the recipe up/down according to how big of a pig you feel like being.  ;-)  The amount below served eight of us, roughly two-cup servings.

This is GAPS-friendly and filled with probiotics.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Snow Cream — Healthified!
Prep time:  

Total time:  

 A healthier version of Snow Cream! This is GAPS-friendly and filled with probiotics.

Author: Diane Speed (SlowMoFood)
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 8 quarts clean, fresh snow
  • 6 egg yolks, raw
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla
  • 2-4 cups homemade yogurt or milk kefir
  • honey to taste
 Instructions
  1. Mix two cups of yogurt with the egg yolks, salt, and vanilla.
  2. Whisk until smooth and add in snow a few cups at a time until of the desired texture. I used nearly all 8 quarts of packed snow. Add in more yogurt or kefir as needed until you hit the sweet spot. I just eyeballed it and didn’t measure the yogurt.
  3. Here’s where it gets tricky. Start drizzling in honey and whisking — a LOT — to combine the honey with the snow cream until it’s sweet enough for you. When the honey hits the cold mixture, it hardens up so you have to really whisk it to death. ( If you’re smarter than me, you’ll measure how much honey you add so that, next time, you can use that same amount and whisk it into the yogurt mixture before it gets the cold snow added. Heh.)

Next up:

Sweet Lemon Bread

A moist, sweet-tart lemony dessert bread.
Author: Diane Speed (SlowMoFood)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon extract.
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • extra powdered sugar for dusting
 Instructions
  1. Cream the coconut oil and sugar together, then mix in the egg and milk until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon extract and whisk until no lumps remain.
  2. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  3. While the bread is baking, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a thin glaze.
  4. When bread is done and still hot, prick the top of the loaf, all over, with a fork. Drizzle the lemon glaze over the top.
  5. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Next up:

Sweet Orange Marmalade Bread

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup orange marmalade

Cream the above ingredients, then mix in the following:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange extract

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. While still hot, prick the top of the loaf, all over, with a fork and pour in the following glaze:

*This is where it gets hairy since I never wrote down an exact recipe for the orange glaze, instead winging it each time.

1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

Just adjust the above ingredients based on your tastes. With less lemon juice, it takes on a “darker” taste but, with less orange juice, it starts tasting closer to the lemon bread. Don’t be afraid to play with it. ;-)

Once cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Next up:

Recipe: Sourdough Bread

Categories: Recipes

My friend Ilene has been waiting so patiently for me to post my sourdough recipe. It’s not some huge secret, not at all. In fact, it’s incredibly simple. I’ve been putting it off because I wanted to take photos, do some step-by-step illustrated tutorial, maybe even some video. Ha. Like that’ll ever happen.

So, Ilene, this one’s for you — the quick & dirty version of my sourdough recipe. Maybe one of these days, I’ll get my act together enough to do a fancy tutorial… but don’t hold your breath!

Sourdough Bread

1 cup active sourdough culture
1 cup filtered water (chlorine in normal tap water makes the sourdough critters not so happy)
1-2 teaspoons salt

Whisk those together to distribute the starter & salt in the water. (I love using my Danish whisk for whipping up sourdoughs!) Then whisk in about 3 cups of flours. This is where you get to use your judgement and gain a little experience in how the dough should feel. It should be shaggy — not nicely balled together but not goopy, either.

Let the whole shebang just sit & rest for a bit, maybe 10-15 minutes. Then begin kneading, either by hand or in a KitchenAid (or similar) for 5-10 minutes. (Go for the shorter time if using mechanized kneading and longer if by hand.) Place in an oiled bowl and cover. I used old ice cream tubs, the square shaped ones with their loose-fitting lids, and put a sticky note on top with the time I placed it in the bowl, followed by the times I should be back to stretch & fold. It would read something like this:

1:00 — started
2:00, 3:00, 4:00 — knead
6:00 — knead & shape & preheat
6:45 — slash & bake

So, I’d come back and “knead” about every hour for the first three hours, then I’d let it sit undisturbed for another couple of hours. Then, a final light “knead” and shaping. Let sit, covered, for about 45 minutes while the oven is preheating to 450. Once that last stretch of time is up, slash the top with a razor or serrated knife, and pop that sucker in the oven.

Ah, but that’s not all.

First, the “flours” referred to above. Whole wheat tended to take a bit less flour while white took a bit more. If you’re going half & half — which makes a nice rise but still gives you that heartier wheat taste, right about three cups should be right. But it also depends on the humidity, how closely you measured the water, how old/fresh the flour is, and so on. If going for 100% whole wheat, you can add a couple of tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to help with the rise. I even tinkered with adding a couple tablespoons of honey but found I could do just fine without either of those “helps”. And making beautiful bread with nothing but flour, salt, and water did my purist heart good.

The “kneading” you’ll be doing after you place it in the tubs/bowls to sit will not be the kneading you are accustomed to. It’s the “stretch & fold” technique. There’s a nice video of that technique here: Breadtopia’s No-Knead Method page. But, of course, you all know I’m too lazy for even that, right? What I do is to quickly oil my hands, turn the tub upside down and catch the blob of dough in my other hand. Then turn my hand sideways so that the dough falls on either side, effectively stretching itself out somewhat. Then I fold it in thirds underneath and turn the blob 90 degrees. I repeat so that it’s now stretched & folded in a different direction, but again folding underneath, so that the top remains smooth and all of the creases are on the bottom. Finally, I push upwards a bit from the center bottom and tuck under all around the edges so so I end up with nice, smooth ball of dough and pinch the remaining crease on the bottom. Shove it back in the tub until next time. As you “knead” it in this way, you’ll notice the dough getting stronger. That’s a good thing. You’ll have a hard time getting it to “fall” on either side of your hand so just give it a pull to stretch it out. I know some of this may be difficult to visualize for those who have never done it so I promise to try and take some photos next time I have activate my sourdough.

When it comes time to shape the dough, I oil a piece of parchment paper that I place on my pizza peel. The dough ball is placed on that, then I gently shape it by “tucking under” the sides with the sides of my hands, all along to make sure any crease are hidden on the bottom and shaping it into the desired shape as I go — all while on the peel/parchment. I have a lame (nutty French word for a razor blade holder made just for slashing bread) that I use for the slashing. Which directions and how deep to cut is a very interesting subject to research, by the way. Before I had the lame, I used a serrated knife and it worked just as well. But the lame is cooler. ;-)

I baked on a stone, sliding the dough from the peel onto the stone, using the parchment. A big cast iron skillet was placed on the bottom on the oven and I put a couple cups of hot water into it right before I closed the door. That steam really helps the crust. Try some with steam, some without, and see the difference yourself. Cool stuff. After the steam had done its thing and the crust had set well, maybe 20 minutes into the baking, I slide the parchment paper out so that the bread is then resting directly on the stone. I also rotate the bread at this time, 180 degrees, to ensure even baking. Once the interior temp comes up to about 200-ish, I pull it out and let it cool on a rack. (Probe thermometers are cheap and a great tool to have.)

Whew. That sounds pretty complex, doesn’t it? But I promise you it isn’t. It’s one of those things that sounds daunting but, once you see it and try it, it’s the most simple thing in the world. I really need to just suck it up and do the fancy tutorial, huh?

In the meantime, just remember the simple recipe:

1 cup active starter
1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons salt
3 cups flour(s)

And have fun experimenting from there! I’d love to hear how you do!

Next up:

Recipe: (Probiotic) Ranch Dressing
Categories: Recipes
Our family loves ranch dressing but the stuff in the store is just… well, gross. You can make your own that tastes better with sour cream and a packet of the Hidden Valley powder mix but, as long as you’re doing that, why not take it one step further? I’ll give you my recipe and let you decide how far to take it. It’s terribly easy.

First, let’s start with the basic recipe I found quite a while back (and I’ve no idea where it was or I’d give proper credit). I’m horrible at exact measurements, going more for the “a bit of this, maybe a shake of that, and a good glug of the other” sort of thing.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 to 1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup kefir or buttermilk
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
sea salt
black pepper
fresh chives, dill, and/or parsley
optional: garlic and/or onion powder

Now let me tell you the basics of what I do, keeping in mind I don’t actually measure anything and it changes from time to time, based on what I have on hand:

1 cup homemade mayo. (Want a most incredibly easy — and super quick — way to make homemade mayo? Check out this tutorial: Real Food Forager’s Minute Mayonnaise.)

1 cup sour cream (I was lazy this week and used storebought sour cream but it’s easy to make your own. I’ve used both the kefir grains and yogurt start methods successfully.)

1 cup yogurt cheese (I make my own viili yogurt and strain it through flour sack cloths overnight to get whey (the liquid) and yogurt cheese (the solids left behind — use in place of cream cheese in many dishes.)

I mix the above three together, sometimes adding in some yogurt or kefir if I want it thinner, then start squirting in several glugs of lemon juice. (See? There I go with the glugs.) Several twists of the black pepper grinder, a palmful of salt, a nice surface coating of both onion & garlic powders, then give it a whirl with a whisk. Keep adding a bit more of this and a bit more of that until it suits your taste buds. If you have an herb garden, you can’t go wrong adding in some chopped chives and parsley at the end!

We love dipping veggies & meat in this homemade ranch. It’s also good to put a couple spoonfuls into stews & soups for a creamy change-up. And, if you use homemade yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and/or mayo, it gets a nice boost in the healthy eats department.

Let me know if you give it a try and what personal tweaks you give it!

Next up:

Recipe: Winter Salsa

Categories: Recipes

It’s the end of fresh tomato season! Oh, woe is me! Did you at least get some tomatoes canned up for winter? If so, here’s a great way to use them. If not, you can use storebought canned tomatoes.

Winter Salsa

(4) 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes (4-5 quarts home canned tomatoes)
2 onions
1/2 cup garlic
2-3 bunches fresh cilantro
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos
1/4-1/2 cup brine from the pickled jalapenos
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup lemon juice

Chop all as finely as you wish — we just put it all in a food processor and give it a whirl. That’s it!

You’ll want to adjust this according to your family’s tastes. Personally, I double the onions and garlic (do NOT dare get within range of my breath on one of my salsa eating days!) and add probably twice as much vinegar as above and a bit more salt as well.

Store in the fridge as this is not an approved canning recipe — canning would completely ruin the fresh taste of this salsa anyway. Make it fresh when you need it and it’ll keep in the fridge for a few days. It also freezes well but becomes a bit more liquid-y once thawed so keep that in mind. Add a little tomato paste and adjust the salt & vinegar to conquer if you prefer the thicker salsa.

If you’re into fermented foods as we are, you can add some whey (strained from your homemade yougurt or kefir) and let it sit on the counter for a few days before storing in the fridge. This changes the taste a bit — not better or worse, just a bit different — so experiment.

We love summer salsa, using fresh tomatoes and chopped pico de gallo style when our garden is in its prime. But we are far too addicted to salsa to go all winter long without any salsa! So my husband and I developed this recipe to tide us over the winter months. It all started, long ago, when I was in the Navy and stationed in Hawaii. My neighbor was a “househusband” and enrolled in culinary school. One of his projects was to come up with an original recipe. He chose salsa and used me, a certified salsa freak, as a guinea pig while he ironed out the wrinkles in his home experiments. It was my experience with that which led me to start playing with salsa making myself. Then took it to a whole new level once hubby and I met & married. The rest is spicy history!

Next up:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Honey Cookie Squares

Categories: Recipes

This recipe originally came from here: Our Best Bites. My take on it, with just a minor tweak or two, follows.

Chocolate Chip Honey Cookie Squares

2 cups all-purpose* flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
(1-2 cups chopped nuts optional)

Cream the butter, brown sugar, and honey. (Use more honey and less brown sugar to get the more gooey or less honey and more sugar to get less gooey.) Mix in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients and, again, mix until smooth. Finally, add chocolate chips and/or nuts and stir until well-distributed.

Spread into a greased, shallow cookie sheet (mine measures 17.5″ x 12.5″ x 1″) and pop into the oven for… I never time it. Once the top starts setting up and just starting to turn golden, I spin it front to back, and let it bake a bit more. Once the edges are browning nicely and the middle is thoroughly golden, remove from heat and let it cool.

*You can substitute whole wheat flour for some or all of the AP flour. You can even use soaked and sprouted flours. Each will change the texture somewhat but all are good.

Tips: Slightly underbaking will help increase the goo factor. Along with adjusting the honey:brown sugar ratio, you can also play with the flour amounts to tweak to your personal goo preference. Letting these puppies cool completely and sit overnight will do something magical. They’re mediocre at best fresh out of the oven but the cookie fairies sprinkle them with chewy, gooey, sparkly dust when left on the counter overnight. Do cover them, though. The cookies, not the fairies. Otherwise, the cat fairies sprinkle them with cat hair dust.

Whatever you do, do not double this recipe, cram it into the same pan, and think you won’t set your oven on fire. Do not ask me how I know that.

Peachy.

Some local friends gave us four baby peach trees the other day.  I got them planted, mulched, and caged promptly.  Here’s hoping they do well (and I don’t manage to kill them)!

peach

Before much longer, the entire side yard will be an orchard and I can’t wait!

The cucumbers I planted a couple of weeks back mostly rotted since we had Noah’s flood #2 directly after that.  I replanted them yesterday, along with 100′ of summer squash — a mixture of Black Beauty, Grey, and Yellow Crookneck.

The strawberries are still coming in nicely and the raspberries have just begun to ripen.  The young fruit trees in the side and front yards have a goodly amount of fruit on them for how young they are.  Some have just turned two years old and others are only one year old so we won’t be overrun with anything.  Still, it’ll be nice to get a small sampling from most.  Fruit trees are most definitely not instant gratification.

raspberry

The tomatoes are finally starting to take off, no thanks to all of the gloomy weather we’ve had this spring.  The furthest row out, however, has had a rough start and I’ve had to replace several a couple of times.  The birds just love that row because they can swoop in and cause all sorts of death & dismemberment!  I finally got the strings up on Tomato Henge in hopes of slowing them down — and it seems to be working for the most part.

The pepper are sulking.  It’s just been too roller coaster-y a spring for them and I don’t hold out much hope for good production.  Yet, there’s always hope…  The lettuces are even growing slowly.  I’ve never seen lettuce grow so slowly!!  Beans still haven’t been planted as I’m still waiting on Steve to get my bean trellis back up.  He’s done about half of it and will get to the rest this week some time.

The bees?  The bees are doing well!  I’m so excited about the bees this year!  That split I did about a month ago has done really well — both halves.  The packages are coming along as they should.  The nuc I bought from Bernie last month is doing great.  I also caught two swarms a few weeks ago.  One died out, as it was just some left-behind straggling rejects, I assume left behind when the main colony took off to find new quarters.  They were in a bee tree that was knocked over & split during some pasture clean up and had been rained on — downpoured on — a few days.  We brought them home anyway with no hopes of them making it so we were not disappointed when I found them all dead as a doornail a few days later.  The second swarm was from a construction site, landed in a precarious spot that was not at all fun to get.  I was pretty sure I got the queen but things were crazy so maybe not.  Last I checked on them (a few days ago), they were still there!  I took a tip from a friend and put a frame of brood (from another hive) in with them to entice them to stay.  It seems to have worked so yay for that!  There is not a huge quantity of bees, though, so it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll make it.  I plan on getting in the hives again in a couple of days.  In the meantime, I’ve been building more frames because the five  good, strong hives are mostly into their third boxes now.  And still no sign of mites on any of them!  I know just looking isn’t a surefire way to get mite numbers but I pay very close attention to the drone brood that gets ripped open and have seen nary a one.  (I’ve always seen them easily that way before.)  Another major boost in my beekeeping confidence is my greatly improved ability to spot queens.  I don’t mark my queens so they’re not terribly easy to find at times.

I’m getting rambly again, aren’t I?  I’m back on the paleo/primal bandwagon and the caffeine/carb/sugar withdrawal is making my brain turn to jelly.  Really dumb, unfocused jelly.

I’m a culinary genius!

Fried pork loin, seasoned, torn into pieces

1/4 Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

Avocado, diced

1/2 Cucumber, quartered & sliced

“thumb” of smoked Gouda cheese, diced

Toss it all in a bowl with a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon, a few splashes of red wine vinegar, and a couple glugs of olive oil.

(No pictures because I wolfed it down way, way too quickly.)

 

Mom shrugged.

(My apologies to Ayn Rand for not coming up with a 45-page monologue to go along with this.)

Back around Christmas, I got a head cold and that turned into a sinus infection.  That lasted forever.  And have I told you about my freakishly long-rooted tooth that is in cahoots with my sinus cavity?  I had the one on my right side pulled a few years ago.  Ever since, I’ve regretted not having its match on the left side pulled.  Each time I get a sinus infection (and, man, am I prone to them), my tooth goes all haywire and gets inflamed, the side of my face blows up, and it feels like a million little pain elves are in my cheek & jaw, stabbing me with flaming, acid-laced daggers.

So on and on this went and, just as it was beginning to calm down, the flu hit.  It smacked every last one of us upside the head within about 24 hours.  So not fun.  We all took turns playing possum on the sofas while the house fell into piles of discarded tissues and other crud.  The boys were to have their Klondike campout with the Boy Scouts the weekend of the Polar Plunge but we decided that maybe, just maybe, 48+ hours out in the sub-freezing temps would not be good while still recovering from the flu.  But, of course, we went ahead and did the Polar Plunge anyway.  Not smart but at least it was short-lived not smart, right?

Now, here we are, still weak and coughing but, I think, on the mend at last.  Once I get my sinuses and tooth back under control, I’m going to have that sucker ripped out.  <—Please hold me to that because I know I’ll wuss out once the infection has passed.

So what’s my point?  Remember that we have been doing the GAPS diet?  Yeah, well.  After the flu hit, I was too sick to do the grocery shopping so asked Steve, on his way home from work, to just get a week’s worth of whatever was easy for everyone to fix for themselves as they were able to eat.  So, for a week or so, we ate frozen egg rolls, hot pockets, pizza rolls, frozen pizza, etc, etc.  Oh, yeah.  Most of the kids were begging for me to by “real food” a few days into it.  I was finally able to make it to the store this past Thursday so we’re working our way back to healthier eating but I don’t think I have it in me to do full GAPS intro for a third time so soon.

Where does that leave us?  At this point, we’re calling it GAPrimreal (GAPS + Primal + Real (Traditional) Foods).  :-D  We need time to just relax and recuperate.  In fact, after the last twelve months of seemingly endless injury and illness, I’m hereby declaring the remainder of 2013 the Year of Healing.  <—Please hold me to that as well.

There’s more shrugging happening as well but I’ll leave that for another post.  I feel lighter already.  Don’t you?

Happy 2013!

The new modem arrived and I got it installed.  And… we still don’t have reliable internet.  It’s up.  It’s down.  It’s up.  It’s down.  This morning, it’s actually been up for a few hours — mostly.  But, I have no doubt that it’ll go back to more down than up before too long, as it always does.  I’m not sure what we’re going to do.  We might upgrade to the new HughesNet Gen4, dunno.  We could switch to WildBlue but I hate their guts even more than I hate HughesNet.  There’s always mobile data but I’m hesitant to do that due to living in the boonies and in the middle of a giant hole of “extended data” in every friggin’ company’s coverage.  That doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.  HughesNet has the best deal for us out of all of the options so we’ll probably stick with them — if they can fix this frustrating problem.  In the meantime, if I go several days without posting, you know why and don’t have to worry.  I’ll be back when the internet cooperates.

GAPS re-Intro is going well.  I guess.  If you don’t count the Pizza Hut that night that Steve, Sr. came over to celebrate Christmas last week.  Ahem.

Cody and I restarted intro the 26th, the day after Christmas.  We’re spending five days on each stage, for a total of 30 days on intro.  We may end up going longer on some stages, if we feel we need to do so, but I don’t think there will be much of a need since we’re customizing a bit as we go anyway.  We’re trying to avoid foods we have allergies/sensitivities to, in order to not further cheese off our systems.  I figure as long as there are other, nourishing & unoffending foods to eat, we’ll stick with those longer so that we have more time to heal.  One size never fits all.

We’re now halfway through Stage 2.  Stages 1 through 3 are pretty boring.  Okay, really boring.  I can’t wait to move onto Stage 4.

So about that Pizza Hut thing…  I’d been feeling pretty crappy for a few days, down with a bad cold/mild flu/who cares it sucks.  Steve’s dad was due to come over for dinner to celebrate a slightly delayed Christmas and I didn’t have the energy to fix anything.  It was my worst day of the illness and I gave in to Steve offering to bring home pizza.  We’d been on GAPS since Thanksgiving and hadn’t cheated so it’s not like we were serial cheaters or anything, you know?  And no food we had on hand appealed to me whatsoever.  And you know what?  That pizza, while it tasted good, did not set off some sort of crazed feeding frenzy.  It had no ill effects on me at all.  And, I started feeling better.  By the next morning, I was feeling better than I had in a week.  I wasn’t carb deprived or anything like that as I’ve been very, very careful to keep lots & lots of good carbs in our diet so we don’t bonk.  But my body, in that instance, was greatly boosted by whatever combination of salt – fat – refined carbs – protein was in there.  No ill effects, no rebound, nothing negative whatsoever, and I was back to being on GAPS Intro the next day, right where I’d left off.

I just read Matt Stone’s Eat for Heat ebook.  It was on sale for 99 cents the other day so I nabbed it.  (For those not yet familiar with Matt Stone, check out his 180 Degree Health blog.)  He brings up some good points and I’m going to keep them in mind as I go through GAPS.  Again, I always try to remember that one size never fits all.  Forever tweaking — that’s me.  I love being my own guinea pig.  I love reading nutrition books from all sorts of sources, all different viewpoints, and seeing if I can fit it all together and try to come up with a big picture.  It’s like a giant jigaw puzzle to health.  It’s fun and, if I end up with improvements to my health along the way, it’s just that much cooler.

Speaking of that:  I’m hoping, with some personal tweaks and much, much attention paid to how my body reacts and manages healing, that I can avoid doing that whole two years on GAPS thing.  As the doctor who came up with the program wrote, it’s all very individualistic so don’t be afraid to change things up to suit your own health.  I’m hoping I can be off of GAPS in a year, rather than two, but I won’t know until I get there.  Maybe it’ll be sooner, maybe later.  I certainly think Charlie and Duke will be able to ease off of it rather quickly since youngsters bounce back rather quickly from most things and they were only a little “off” to begin with.  (Remember, they asked if they could go on GAPS.  I didn’t tell them to.)  Cody, I don’t know.  I’m not seeing any changes in his behavior at all.  He’s most assuredly not one of those glowing “massive & speedy recovery” from autism cases.  He’s exactly the same.  I have, however, noted that his frequent complaints of stomachaches have greatly lessened so there is, at least, that.

Okay, enough of nutrition crap.

Steve got a new milk stand built last week.  (We had to leave our old one behind on the move.)  It’s beautiful!  And a new hay feeder!  Also gorgeous!  He’s now started working on the garden fence so that we can get the goats & birds moved in to clear the overgrown, nasty, horribly weedy mess of a garden by spring planting time.  Oh, I can’t wait!!  I didn’t really get much gardening done last year because of the farmer’s market so I’m really, really crazed with pent-up gardening right now!

Yesterday, I finally made it through my seed stash and got everything reorganized.  I also updated my spreadsheet with the current seeds.  I simplified a few seeds into “mixes” because I just don’t care much what types as long as they give me something edible, like carrots.  My overall goal is to get most of these seeds used up so I can renew the stash with fresh seeds.  I’ll only “need” to order a few seeds this year as long as I keep that in mind.  Heh.  I am completely out of cucumber seeds, for example, so those are a need, rather than a want.  I’ve also decided that I’m going to renew my squash growing efforts.  I get so sick of losing to the squash bugs before getting but one or two fruit, that I gave up year before last.  This year, I’m going to grow squash, both summer and winter.  I’m going to plant them in oddball places, all willy-nilly in random spots in the garden, intermixed with other veggies and fruit.  I’m hoping that at least some of them will make it.

I’ll try to get my seed inventory page here updated today and/or tomorrow so those folks who trade with me can take a look-see.  I guess I’d better get a move on and do that.  It helps me finalize — in my mind — what I’ll need to order and I really need to get that done soon.  It’s already time to start wintersowing!  Yay!!

I meant to talk about New Year’s resolutions, a.k.a. Goals for 2013 around the homestead here, but I got distracted.  I swear, you put a shiny plant in my radar and my mind is gone.  Poof!

Ruts, cinnamon soap, local resources, and WAPF.

Full GAPS continues with Steve, Nellie, and Josie mostly on board now.  (Isaac eats what the family does, of course, but he eats the cafeteria lunch offered when he’s at school, whatever that might be.)  I, the main cook, seem to be stuck in a rut and desperately need to break out of that.  I think I’ll be doing some dinner-inspiration hunting and menu planning over the next few days before I have a mutiny on my hands.  Once we’ve gotten past Christmas, I’m going back to redo the Intro, much more slowly this time.  I’d have already started it since this is a “slow” time of the year for me in regards to not having to drive to this activity & that activity constantly but we haven’t even started our Christmas shopping yet, nor made any neighbor treats, nor have I begun my holiday sewing.  It’s going to be a busy, busy few days starting tomorrow and I don’t want to have to deal with that on Intro.  Bah humbug!  And my schedule picks back up to insane levels by the second week in January so I’ve got a small window to get the worst of Intro over with before having to deal with too much reality.

There.  I’ve said it out loud so now I’m committed.

I made another batch of honey coconut milk soap/shampoo the other day.  I made it just like all of the others but something different happened this time.  I added the honey at trace and it started turning red!  I’ve never had that happen before.  I’ve added honey both at the end of the hot process, right before molding it, and at trace and never had it do this.  It also turned thin.  I was worried, wondering if I’d just wasted a batch of goods, but I mixed the snot out of it with the stick blender and it began thickening again after a long while.  After it cooked for an hour or so, I tongue tested it for a zap and it was fine but it smelled like… something.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but the smell and now dark brown color begged for cinnamon.  So in went some cinnamon before I molded it.  The kids all came running in, wondering if I was making GAPS-friendly cinnamon rolls.  Ha, no.  I unmolded and cut it and it’s a gorgeous deep, chocolate brown — and smells of cinnamon, of course.  But that cinnamon makes it a bit scratchy so we’ll save it for using on rough feet & muddy gardening hands, rather than scrubbing down kids in the tub.  How do I know this?  Because goofy Steve grabbed a bar this morning to shower with, not even waiting for it to harden with curing.

I’ve been working on the SlowMoFood site this week, when my sucky internet cooperates.  While I’m very much not a person with any style, sense of design, or taste whatsoever, I’m liking the the way it’s starting to look.  Besides fiddling with its looks & navigation, I’m also working on adding pages for “local resources” and “online resources”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Who in the area has raw milk?”, “Where can I get fresh, local produce that’s not swimming in chemical goo?”, and that sort of thing.  So, instead of trying to keep all of that info in my head to share when asked, I figured it was time to compile it all in one place a bit more reliable than my brain.  I’ve searched and searched but not found a resource like that already in existence for our area.  Maybe this will help us all connect, both local consumers and local producers.  While I was at it, I thought maybe an online resource page would also be helpful for certain things that are not available locally.  There are a bazillion of them out there already but I’ve found better deals & better products not always on the same, or any, lists.  Now when I run out of something and need to reorder I don’t have to wrack my brain and/or google for hours trying to re-find where I got the best product/deal last time.

And ya know what?  Because I don’t have enough on my plate already, I’m thinking I’m going to start a local WAPF chapter.  I have no idea yet what that exactly that will entail so I may yet live to regret it.  More on that later as I find out.  (FYI:  WAPF has a wackadoodle sort of feel for a lot of people and I used to get that same vibe.  Then I realized I was lumping in a bunch of other crap, such as Mercola.  *gag*  Once I cleared my head of the self-induced confusion, I realized the organization held a lot of value for me.  Like anything, no one is going to agree on every. single. issue but, overall, I think they serve a great purpose — to get people to open their minds to traditional, healthful foods and start backing away from the crap foods that I see usually fill most grocery carts.)

So there ya go.  I was going to rant on the Boy Scouts but I have some parmesan-topped broccoli calling my name.

Gingered Carrots!

GAPS Intro, Day 8:  Yesterday, we added in avocado and scrambled eggs.  I’m not a fan of either so that didn’t thrill me.  However, we did start adding in fermented veggies.  Prior to this, we’d only been sipping a spoonful of the juices from the fermented veggies.  The cranberries are incredible!  But the gingered carrots?  Holy smokes!  Seriously, they are the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted!  These are right up there with salsa as my -all-time favorite food — and that’s saying a lot!  Remember pickles back in the “old” days, truly fermented pickles, not the brine & salts types?  That’s what they taste like.  Oh, man, I’m in heaven and having trouble restraining myself.  We’re supposed to start out with a spoonful and increase it slowly.  Ha.  I could eat a half gallon of this stuff at a time.  I havne’t, though… yet.

So the other day I was driving to Hannibal and I saw a black panther cross not five feet in front of my car.  No, really!  I was freaked out!  I know there are reports of them elsewhere in the country but I’d never heard of any around here.  I don’t know if it escaped from some zoo or a goofy animal lover had it as a pet or maybe it escaped from some shady animal transport…  But, boy, did that get my pulse going!

Yesterday, friends who like to hunt but not eat the meat called us up to get another deer.  That makes #8 for us this winter.  Woo hoo!  We could go through a couple dozen of them if we were to get them.  We’re definitely a family of meat eaters.  This deer was about 150# and we only had, until yesterday, a rope strung around a rafter on the front porch.   (We had a pulley in OK but it got left behind.  *sigh*)   Steve was at work and, while Cody and I have done this before, I decided it was time to to buy a friggin’ pulley already.  Man, what a difference!   We got that sucker strung up and I spent the afternoon butchering.  I even started teaching Cody to butcher.  He’s been the butchering assistant for both Steve and me for a few years but he’s always gagged and groaned through it.  A couple of weeks ago, Steve hit (another) deer on the way to work and called me at 4:00 a.m. to come and get it.  Of course, it wasn’t gutted so I set to work on the tailgate once I got it home.  I thought for sure Cody would blow chunks on the gutting but he made it through — with the help of lots of disgusting jokes.  ;-)  So, this time, he thought he might ready to try his hand at skinning and quartering.  He did great!  Coming from a puking assistant to being an extra set of hands during gutting to asking to learn how to skin & butcher?  Very cool!

Christmas on Crack, Pancakes, and Swollen Nuts.

GAPS Intro, Day 6.  I missed a couple of days since the last GAPS Intro update but there was really nothing worth mentioning. It’s up & down as to how we’re feeling day to day but, overall, we’re improving.  My swelling everywhere has really started going down.  I’ve lost a bit over seven pounds so far.  I can really move water weight around — up to ten pounds each day when I’m eating crap.  Once I get the worst of the swelling down, the weight loss should throttle way back to a reasonable rate.

We’re easing into Stage 3 right now.  Yesterday, we added in pancakes — a mixture of eggs, winter squash, and nut butter.  They were okay — a definite treat as far as something different being added in!  This morning, I made them without the nut butter and we all liked them much better except for Charlie.  Knowing my issues with nuts, I’m going to be very, very careful for a while, holding them off to a bare minimum as long as I can to allow more healing.  But, the things you can do with nut flours will really open up what I can make for treats which will really help with the kids’ morale.  Steve brought home a couple of three-pound bags of raw almonds from Sam’s last night.  Per the Mighty Internet, I soaked them overnight, dumped & rinsed this morning, and am soaking again for the rest of the day, to dump & rinse again this evening.  I’ll then put them in the dehydrator at a low temp for 24 hours or so, then finish off with roasting.  That process should remove/neutralize a lot of the offending critters *crossing fingers* so we can eat them with less issues.  After some gentle experiments with them to see if we react okay, I can grind them into flour and make occasional — but much appreciated! — treats.  That’s the grand plan anyway.  Cross your fingers & toes for us!  Side note:  Nuts really swell up when you soak them!  Of course, it makes sense and I expected it but I was surprised at how much swelling there was.

We moved ShowTime in with Oatmeal yesterday.  Those two were going at each other through the fence so we figured, what the heck, the more, the merrier, right?  So that makes three does that will be bred in the same month.  That’s going to make for a very busy April & May!

We still don’t have any Christmas decorations up and, honestly, I have no idea where to put the tree this year.  We’re rearranged the living room to allow for maximum seating (and plants!  Heh.) which leaves no tree space.  On the other hand, we no longer have a tree.  Our big fake tree we’ve had for years finally bit the dust last year.  We do have a few smaller ones so maybe I’ll work some sort of miracle today and find space for a couple of those.  I’d like to get some outside lights up this year, too, now that we’ve moved the dog pen and have regained our front porch.  Hmm, I’ll have to send Steve digging through the basement tonight to see what we have in the outdoor light department.

Speaking of outdoor lights…  Holy crap.  There’s this house that turns on their outdoor lights every year, religiously every night.  They’ve framed the house with lights stringing from the eaves to the porch railings, even on the garage.  But, good grief, they’re butt ugly!  There’s plain white on part and various multi-colored on other sections with no rhyme or reason.  Even worse, they have them all on the blinking setting — but not at all timed!  Not that I’m some sort of Christmas decoration expert by any means but, dang, this particular house causes epileptic fits!  I think each little section of lights is on a different timer and each timer is set to a different — and random — interval.  Imagine Christmas as an Angry Rambo on Crack — that’s what these lights are.  And they’re out in the middle of flat cornfields so you can see it for.ev.er.  Seriously, these lights cause an instant and overwhelming rage-filled trance in me.  Yeah, rage-filled trance.  I never knew there was such a thing.

And on that note, I’ll close.    ;-)

Ghee, dirty goats, and prudish poultry.

Gaps Intro Day 3:  I think we’re over the hump?  At least the first hump.  Everyone seems to be a bit spunkier today.  Charlie hit a low spot yesterday, I think and Duke hit his a few hours before that.  They’re both significantly peppier today and laughing & smiling like usual.  I’ve made sure to push the (veggie) carbs, plus ginger tea with honey, to keep up everyone’s energy.  We did the yogurt sensitivity test last night and we all passed.  So, today, we’ve added in a half cup of yogurt each.  None of us are big yogurt people but it’s certainly a treat.  (We do love yogurt as a base for our smoothies but we can’t have fruits yet.)  I fermented the yogurt in the Pickl-It and it’s noticeably tastier.

Besides adding in yogurt today, we’ve also added in raw egg yolks, stirred into broth… except the stupid birds aren’t laying for crap so we don’t have many.  I’ll have to buy eggs tomorrow.  The gingered carrot ferment was done so I moved those two jars into the fridge.  We each had a spoonful of the probiotic-rich brine this morning and will see how we do with it.  If all goes well, we’ll soon be able to introduce the fermented veggies themselves.  Personally, I’m very much looking forward to that!  Starting today, we also get to add in ghee so I made about 2 1/2 pints earlier today.

Oatmeal is settling in nicely.  This morning, we moved Susie and Maggie in with him.  He and Maggie got right down to business.  Again and again and again.  Right outside my window.  Have they no sense of decency?  Sheesh.  Susie wants nothing to do with him.  I picked her and Maggie because they were both the hottest-t0-trot when there was a fence between them.  Maggie is no tease but Susie seems to have changed her morals once faced with the goods.  We may end up trading in another more receptive doe tonight.

The poultry have started weirding out.  All of a sudden, there are a gazillion ducks and chickens roaming about freely in the yard and garden — outside their fence.  We’ve changed nothing with their fencing so I guess they’ve suddenly decided the grass is greener over there.  Either that or they’re too embarrased by the goat hanky panky right in their faces and have fled for pruder pastures.  Can’t say I really blame them.

I picked what will likely be the last of the parsley and celery to add to the birds in the roaster this morning.  I think that’s the very, very end of this year’s garden.  *sigh*  Time to turn my sites to seeds for 2013!

At long last, dear Oatmeal.

Knowing we were in the market for a good Kinder buck, a local friend alerted me when she saw some come up for sale on a regional list.  A few back & forth emails and we decided on Oatmeal.  He comes from good lines and has proven himself worthy in the making-of-good-offspring department.  Then life conspired against us for a couple of months and I had to cancel out on his owner a couple of times.  That poor woman still held him for me and even met me halfway.  She’s so much nicer than me!  So off we bopped today to the prearranged meeting spot on the outskirts of St. Louis and we are now one big-conjoned goat richer.  Yay!

Oatmeal is out there getting the girls all excited right now.  Well, as best he can with a fence between them.  We put Patrick, the wether, in to keep him company.  Those nutty does are making complete fools of themselves.  Tails are a’waggin’, tongues are a’flappin’, and assorted other dirty goat behaviors.

GAPS Intro, Day 2:  We’re still on Stage 1 and all is well.  Duke was sick as a dog last night and the rest of us have been visiting Nauseaville off and on.  This afternoon seems to be a bit better so I’m hoping that at least the worst of this round is behind us.  More rounds coming up, I’m sure.  The food is still very yummy so that makes it much easier.  Duke did add an egg yolk to his broth for lunch so I guess that puts him in Stage 2?  I forgot to do the yogurt sensitivity test last night so will try to remember to do after tonight’s bee meeting.  We each had a cup of ginger tea yesterday afternoon, with just a touch of honey.  It tasted amazing so I think we’ll use that as an afternoon treat to look forward to each day.

We lost yet more chickens yesterday.  I swear those stupid birds just look for an excuse to die.  We never lose any ducks and geese, only chickens.  Maybe this is a sign for us to forget chickens for a while, huh?  We’ll see what spring brings, I guess.

I bought 40 pounds of beef fat a couple weeks back and, over Thanksgiving, rendered just over half of it down.  I know most people then pour it into mason jars but I like to pour it out into shallow cookie sheets.  Once it cools, stick it in the freezer to harden even more.  Once that’s done, you can cut/shatter/break the tallow into smaller pieces, as if it were almond bark.  I then store it in old ice cream tubs in the freezer and just pull out pieces of the “bark” as I need them.  So much handier than messing with spooning out of jars and cluttering up the fridge and/or counter more than they already are.

Much goat debauchery right outside my window right now.  Ew.

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