Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Grain free waffles (that actually work, and taste like waffles!)
I've had a lot of unfortunate results while experimenting with grain free cooking.  Almond meal is very dense, and coconut flour requires so many eggs that many things end up separating and tasting like...scrambled eggs.  BUT this recipe from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition was a success!  The kids liked it (came back for seconds and thirds!) and I thought it was delightful.  Serve with butter and maple syrup, or peanut butter and applesauce, or whatever sounds good to you.  Yummy!

(please note that I have ever-so-slightly modified this from the original, as well as doubled the amounts.)

8 large eggs
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk, plus 2-4 tbsp if needed to thin the batter
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade version)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder


Preheat a waffle iron.
Mix together eggs, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, melted butter, milk, and vanilla. (I mixed everything in my Vitamix.)
Add coconut flour and baking powder and mix until there are no lumps.
Let stand for 5 minutes. If the batter is thick, add 2-4 tablespoons of milk to thin it out. You should have the consistency of a pancake batter.
Pour into a preheated waffle maker and cook for 2:30 minutes. (Note that you need to completely fill the waffle iron with batter each time - the batter does not expand as much as typical waffle batter, and if you don't have enough it will be difficult to remove the waffles when cooked.)

posted at 11:00 AM  

Friday, February 14, 2014
Happy Valentine's Day
A post that made me smile and appreciate all the little things my husband does for me, all year long.

Image credit

The love that sustains our relationship isn’t showy love.  It’s a late night trip to the grocery store to satisfy the other person’s chocolate craving.  It’s packing the kids’ lunches to make the other person’s morning just a little easier.  It’s a pot of coffee brewed exclusively for the other person before leaving for work.  It’s volunteering to be the one to go into the creepy basement to switch the laundry.  It’s not pretending to be asleep when the children cry in the middle of the night.  It’s allowing your belly to be used as a foot warmer.  It’s crossing the finish line together even though one of you is significantly slower than the other.  It’s cuddling on the couch and pretending you didn’t already watch this episode of Homeland.   It’s bringing home a Jane Austen movie for that day in the 28-day cycle.  It’s intertwined fingers on a walk to the park.  It’s being the one to fill the car with gas when the tank gets low.  It’s putting your socks in the hamper.  It’s being the one who responds to “I need a wipe!” It’s not making the sound the other person hates when you turn the pages of the newspaper.  It’s making breakfast while the other person sleeps.  It’s returning the wanting kiss even though you’re tired.  It’s not telling a single soul that the other person secretly loves The Bachelor.  Little love—small but frequent acts of kindness, consideration, and compassion—sustains us.

From Brain, Child Magazine's blog.  While I certainly don't agree with everything they write (they lean towards the militant feminist sometimes) I love their articles for making me engage and think hard about things that matter in my mom/wife/woman life. 

posted at 10:25 AM  

Thursday, February 06, 2014
Winter planting
It is hard to remember that it is winter, here in Southern California, since it never snows and rarely rains.  But it is, at least, cooler.  And so it is a great time to plant!

Thomas helped me get the lettuce, kale, and peas planted today.  Peas from seed, lettuce and kale from "starts" because I'm kind of behind and I also have an irrational fear/expectation that any seeds that I plant will never sprout.  This was unfortunately supported by the fact that the last peas I planted really didn't grow...but they were very old seeds so hopefully these new ones will be ok!

I spent the last 2-3 months carefully planning a huge overhaul of the front yard.  And by huge, I mean really huge; it includes such things as the demolition of the concrete path, installation of a new stepping stone path, removal of 2000+ square feet of lawn, building a rock feature and rock mini walls, planting a tree, adding some shrubs and a whole lot of perennials.  It is going to be amazing when it is finished but oh my word, it is a lot of work!

I'm just starting to see some tiny results in the first stages.  Those tiny plants under the peach tree are spaced out a lot because they will eventually get a lot bigger. 

And while right now there is only mulch under this tree, in a few more days I'll have vintage stock, and dianthus, and daisies in there.

More flowers, waiting to be planted.  The shrub on the right is a gorgeous soft pink hydrangea - it will eventually be about 4 feet high and wide and is going to be amazingly beautiful!

And this isn't part of the yard, but our front entrance is making me smile right now.

The costs of such a project could easily become prohibitive, so I'm being creative and spending a lot of evenings searching Craigslist.  All of the rock used so far has been free; other people re-landscaping their own yards who don't want to pay dump fees.  The raised beds in the back yard were both free from a local business man who has too many to use and hated to throw them away.  Most of my tools are yard sale or estate sale finds.  I've also made a habit of buying used composters from people who just want them out of their yard and are selling them cheap.  I empty them (why yes, I'll take your perfectly good compost!) clean them up, and then re-sell them for about 4x as much.  That money pays for hoses and fertilizer and plants, and you'd be surprised how cheaply you can get plants if you're willing to be patient and not purchase them at their peak of beauty!  I've found quite a few plants in the clearance section of Lowe's; just this afternoon I brought home two perfect camelias for $3 each.

Also this afternoon, I got an email saying that my application for "turf abatement" has been pre-approved!  Which means that I have 120 days to turn my front yard into the garden I'm dreaming of...and if I can do it, the city will give me about $2000.  Apparently Anaheim doesn't really approve of lawns, and prefers my garden plans. :)

posted at 4:04 PM  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Wheat Free Peach Cobbler
I haven't written about this recently, mostly because I haven't been writing much here at all.  But for the past 6 months, I have not been eating wheat.  And I feel SO much better!  It took years for me to pinpoint this issue (well, Gabe says it took less time than that; I just took a few extra years to admit it)  but I certainly have clarity now.  Eating wheat gives me systemic acne, headaches, and crushing fatigue.  So while I miss it (sourdough bread, how I loved thee...) I also feel confident that avoiding wheat significantly improves my health, and life.

The past six months I pretty much just quit baking entirely.  It felt too complicated to even think about baking without wheat flour.  I focused on learning to cook meals with a focus on meats and veggies and fruits - difficult when pasta has been a staple for most of your life!  But now I'm starting to want to experiment with alternative methods of baking, because I've always loved baking and I miss it!  This year Gabe's birthday request was "Peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream" and it was a perfect opportunity to try something new.

I read over two recipes as base ideas and jumping off points: Elena's Grain-Free Peach Crisp and Chantal's No-Wheat Blackberry and Peach Cobbler.  But I departed rather significantly from both of them, so I think I can reasonably say that this particular recipe is my own.

Wheat Free Peach Cobbler

8 cans peaches, drained (save the juice for smoothies!)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 cup almond flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
milk to bring batter to cobbler consistency (sorry, I really didn't measure this; if you've made cobbler before you will know when it is right - soft but not runny)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Empty peaches into a dutch oven.  Stir in lemon juice, vanilla, and arrowroot powder.

In a medium bowl, mix flours, chopped nuts, sucanat, and salt.  Cut in butter.

Lightly beat the egg, then stir into flour/butter mixture.  Stir in milk.

Spoon batter over peaches. 

Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake about 10 more minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

posted at 7:57 PM  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Urban homesteading
I come by it honestly, I really do.  I grew up running around on five acres of land, climbing trees, milking goats, collecting eggs, running with the dogs, and even (for awhile) riding a horse.  Mom had a tremendous vegetable garden out back, not to mention wide swaths of flower gardens surrounding the house, and my dad used to give her weedwackers and rototillers as gifts.  So it really isn't that strange (right? right?) that I would end up fascinated by the urban homesteading movement.  I may live in the city, but at my core I'm a country girl, and you can only keep that bottled up inside for so long!

So in the six months since we moved into our house on 10,000 square feet of land, and the 5 months since Timothy made his entrance, I've been digging, and planting, and weeding, and watering, and rounding up friends to help me move insane things like chicken coops.

I just re-read that sentence, and realized that this may not be quite normal. 

Anyway, here is an update on my little urban homestead.

1) We have CHICKENS!  Six of them, to be precise, which is the maximum that the city will allow on our parcel of land.  They sleep in this cute little blue coop, but during the day they range around our back yard, eating bugs, scratching up all kinds of trash from the previous owners (which is good, because then I can gather it and throw it away!) and giving themselves dust baths under the trees.  Happy birds, yes they are.

 And when they're not molting, they lay beautiful eggs.

2) I'm composting.  Everything.  I really can't seem to help myself.  But I didn't want a loose, messy pile for the dog to play in, so I picked up some pallets (thank you, craigslist free page!)

 conscripted some helpers,

and built a large "containment field" for the big compost pile in the back.

This is the long-term pile that will slowly work its magic over a year or two.  This photo was taken a few weeks ago, and the left side is now entirely full.  In the next few days I'll probably turn it, and then start filling up the other side.

For quicker production, I have worms!  I've experimented with worm bins for some years now, and I really like them.  Right now I have a typical set of five stacking trays, which I purchased (used, on craigslist).  I like it a lot for ease of use, but it is limited in size and scope.  So on Sunday I started making an "in ground" worm bin.  It is made of cinderblocks, with wire mesh down the center to split it into two halves.  I add kitchen scraps to the "working" side until full, and the worms eat it up and then migrate through the mesh to the fresh scraps on the other side. I'm hoping that by giving the worms more room, they will breed lots more little wormies and eat their way through the scraps that much faster. 

3) Actual gardening has been sparser than I'd have liked, due to the timing of our move.  By the time we got into the house and I'd actually birthed the baby, high summer was in full swing.  I got some cherry tomatoes in, and they have done well. I rarely get to use them in the kitchen, because the boys eat them right off the plant.  Not that I'm complaining!  Mostly I've been trying to revive plants that were already here, weed, and weed, and weed, and weed, and WEED (I'm losing), and plant some easy things like radishes and poppies since Thomas and Josiah are studying plants right now.

That's ok.  I'm focusing on long-term goals and trying to remember that even though Southern California's weather is bizarre, it still really is autumn, and winter is coming, and this is the appropriate time to be putting gardens to bed, composting, and cover-cropping to renew and replenish the soil. 

That's all for now; the (nearly five months, can you believe it!?) baby needs me.  By the way, he has started to hold a toy, which is adorable.  And also grab his pacifier, pull it out of his mouth, and then drop it.  Useful skill, that.

posted at 9:50 PM  

About Emily
I'm a wife, a mother, a teacher of four growing, every-changing little boys. I'm a follower of Christ in the Anglican tradition. I love to read, sew, garden, and read some more. I'm a doula, a choral director, and a composer. I'm an introvert, I miss silence, and I sometimes dream of running off to a convent. My husband understands this better than most - he dreams of running off to a monastery. Introverted solitaries raising four rambunctious little boys - it's a wonderful life!

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  • Recent Entries
    Grain free waffles (that actually work, and taste ...
    Happy Valentine's Day
    Winter planting
    Wheat Free Peach Cobbler
    Urban homesteading
    Six weeks as a family of six
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    Things that are making me happy today
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