Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Every time I crack open a jar of spaghetti sauce I think, I should really make this from scratch."
I've conquered a lot of items on my "I'll never be able to make this" list, but spaghetti sauce is really daunting for some reason. I make pizza sauce from scratch! Well, kind-of. I buy canned tomato sauce and paste, so I guess that doesn't really count.
I have a lot of questions about making spaghetti sauce:
What tomatoes are best?
What else do you add?
How long do you cook it?
What's your process?
How do you store it?
Making spaghetti sauce is probably a task that requires a little trial and error. I need time to get in the kitchen and figure out what to do, but there isn't time for much of anything right now.
I recently finished reading Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, which made me feel like we need to cut back even more on processed foods (absolutely eating a bowl of ice cream while I type this ...).
I remember our early married years when taco night involved a seasoning mix and pre-made shells from the store. Now I make tortillas and the seasoning, and while I'd like to drop kick the tortillas down the street they taste good and it's not too difficult. I have a feeling spaghetti sauce will be the same story once I figure out a good recipe.
And if I really get a handle on the process I'll plant tomatoes in the garden next year so I can harvest them then make sauce. I love the complete cycle - from garden to food - and I love when it takes place in our yard, but it is difficult to do and very time consuming. Thus the invention of processed pre-made foods!
If you make sauce from scratch please share your process!
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I wanted to make B homemade fruit snacks, but there were some hurdles to face first:
- I needed grass-fed gelatin (what the what is that?!)
- I didn't know how to use the juicer
Once the gelatin was sourced - online, by J - I asked how to use the juicer. J laughed and said it was easy, did I really need him to show me?
Well no, no I don't, thank you very much, sir.
This morning B and I went to the store then prepared ourselves to make homemade fruit snacks. One thing J did not take into consideration: I'm pregnant. And pregnancy makes me a little stupid.
I couldn't figure out how to turn the juicer on.
I put it all together, I understood the mechanics of it, but the on button was missing from our model.
I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out how to turn the darn juicer on. (Why am I admitting this?)
Once I learned that the button was at the back on the very bottom (the guy on YouTube was a little confused too) I did just fine.
From there it was pretty easy. Well, I had to Google "what is compote?" to make sure my definition matched that of the general population, but overall I did fine.
And the fruit snacks are good! B is meh about them, but I am determined to make him like them. We popped in for a quick doctor visit this morning (B has a mysterious one sided rash next to his mouth that will not clear up) and heard the best news: B has gained 1 lb since April and the doctor is pleased - hear that, pleased!! - with his progress. If I can get gelatin in this boy we may actually hit 20 lbs by the time he's 2.
When J came home from work - more like stopped in, that man is working so hard right now on so many projects - he noticed the cleaned juicer next to the sink.
"Hey!! You juiced!"
"Well, I made a little orange juice for those homemade fruit snacks. I didn't really juice."
"I didn't think you would actually do it without me!"
Then I did this really embarrassing hands on hips head bob thing that comes out sometimes when I don't know what to say, but feel the need to project a little attitude.
I showed him, didn't I?
On to the next adventure, which was really easy in comparison: Vegan Gluten-Free Energy Bites. I made these once. J found a different homemade granola bar for me to try later this week. Wait, it's Thursday? Make that next week. I like this recipe, but it uses oats and we're trying to wean off the grains. I might try making it again with quinoa flakes because B loves it so much.
It only took me a few minutes to throw this recipe together. I cut out the hemp seeds (didn't have any) and cacao powder (didn't have it until it showed up with the gelatin).
Up next: homemade marshmallows and the granola bars I mentioned above.
In case you missed it: Homemade Fruit Snack Recipe HERE
And Vegan Gluten-Free Energy Bites HERE
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
You know how much I hate cooking. As I develop my skills it gets a little easier, but most of the time I don't enjoy it. Having a toddler with food allergies has forced me to cook a lot more often than I would like, which I hate, but on the positive side of things, it's also made us eat a little healthier.
J is doing really well with cutting back on sugars and eating well. Me on the other hand ... Well, I'm pregnant. I had a dream about Oreo cookies last night which resulted in a 9 am shopping trip. I'm hungry all the time right now and I want to eat bad, bad things. Bennett is absolutely fascinated by my Cheez-It obsession (shameful). He calls the Cheez-Its mama (really shameful).
Our kitchen is too small for us to attain true self sufficient food production. I'm not even sure I want to go that far, but J keeps nudging the Paleo diet my way and eventually I won't be able to say, "I'm pregnant, not right now." This especially applies to the topic of liver meat, which he keeps bringing up. I know it would be great for B, but I can barely handle chicken. Right now we're about halfway to where we want to end up eventually. We have a garden, we eat fairly well, we're slowly changing our ways.
I struggle with how we eat and what we eat. I worry that I'm not providing the best food for my family. We cut way back on pasta, but now that I'm pregnant we're eating it a couple times a month and every time we do I feel a little guilty. Sugar is a big issue for me, especially when I'm pregnant. Especially now that I can have eggs again. I think about food, recipes and menus a lot, but a lot of my time is spent finding foods for B, making food for B and preparing meals for the family.
We used to eat tacos quite often, but the prepackaged seasoning and corn shells or flour tortillas won't work for B. This evening I made tacos from scratch - with J helping on the tortilla front - and it went really, really well. B loved the gluten free tortillas (I was going to buy from the store, but they had eggs) and we did too. He liked it even with lettuce, goat cheese and seasoned hamburger inside. For the seasoning I made a mix I found online. I was apprehensive about the seasoning, but it was good. And it had barely any salt and no MSG.
B and I picked strawberries from the garden for dessert. I added grapes and raspberries to make a fruit plate and we ended dinner with handfuls of fruit and happy bellies. After putting together a fairly easy dinner with zero iffy ingredients I feel pretty good about where we're heading and how we're doing but I'm sure I'll be back to crying over pasta in a few days.
Do you struggle with what and how you feed your family?
Gluten free flour tortilla recipe found HERE (I used coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar and it tasted great!)
Taco seasoning recipe found HERE
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Bennett is on the mend! It's a slow heal, but he is feeling better. He will play on the floor for a few minutes at a time, then it's back to mama's lap for milk, or books, or sleeping. When this is all over I have no idea how I am going to convince B he doesn't need to nurse every two hours anymore. He thinks it's wonderful and should continue for a good long while.
I am so tired. The nights are still pretty rough because B has a bad cough which wakes him up/keeps him up. Remember how we were going to insist on crib sleeping only after our Hawaii vacation? Let's all take a moment to laugh at us for thinking we would actually accomplish that. I've spent the past week with a feverish forehead pressed against my head all night. One particularly fun night I woke up just in time to flip B off me and onto a towel before he threw up.
We used homeopathic medicine throughout this illness and we consulted with our naturopath as well as our pediatrician. It was nice for this panicked mama to have two doctors to call and fret to throughout this bad bout of flu.
B isn't up to eating much. I made him muffins a couple days ago, which did not go down so well the first time, but he has been loving them ever since.
It's the usual no eggs, wheat (flour of any kind actually), dairy, nuts, but it also has no sugar (aside from what's in the fruit). I adapted this banana oatmeal muffin recipe.
2.5 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup applesauce
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
6 Tablespoons warm water
Couple scoops honey
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 shallow Tablespoon ground flax seed (in addition to the ones you've already added)
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Prepare muffin tin
Heat 6 Tablespoons water.
Add 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
Place oats in blender. Mix until smooth.
Add all other ingredients.
Blend until everything looks well mixed. B hates the blender so my mixture was a little chunky.
Bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
I find these rather bland, but B loves them (and let's be honest, I'm a sugar fanatic).
It's sunny outside this morning. We might maybe try to take a walk. I'm still feeling a little so-so myself, though J and I did not get nearly as sick as B did.
Thank you for the encouraging comments on my last post. I would like to be someone who can handle basic childhood illness, but I'm not. And that's okay.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
September is a warm time, if not the warmest time of year in the Willamette Valley. This morning I stared at the 10 day forecast with dismay, but I know the rain will fall soon. When I did a quick read through of blog posts this evening I saw no fewer than three 'fall is coming' posts so I know it is almost upon us.
I love fall to pieces. It's my favorite season, which I've told you 1,000 times, I know. I hate cooking during the summer because it's hot and we don't have air conditioning and when it's hot I don't feel like eating. But then fall comes along and eating soup by a fire becomes not only appropriate but necessary (ten months of the year I am chilled to the bone) and hot chocolate in the morning starts to sound good every morning.
This year, as in somewhere around February, I tackled making a whole chicken for the first time. I'm 29. Is that shameful? I think it is. I found a fabulous easy recipe for rotisserie chicken in the slow cooker and I make it once a month, if not twice. I think I've shared the recipe here before. I'm so tired (mastitis, seriously) I'm beginning to think I've already written this post, but I don't think that's the case ...
So that's recipe number one. It is so easy. Go try it. And when you have that one tackled take on this next one. I found this recipe in the Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Somewhere in the last year I became someone who flips through recipe books for fun. To think, it all started with a bit of innocent meal planning.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme chicken
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Rub chicken inside and out with salt. Combine rosemary, sage, thyme and generous amount of freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture inside chicken. Place 1 bay leaf inside. Tie legs together with string to hold shape. Brush chicken with some olive oil. Sprinkle with half of remaining herb mixture.
Place chicken in heavy large roasting pan. Surround chicken with potatoes, shallots and any other vegetables you are roasting. Sprinkle vegetables with remaining herb mixture and salt. Add remaining bay leaf and mix well.
Roast chicken until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork (about 60 - 75 minutes depending on size of chicken). Every 20 minutes or so baste chicken and vegetables with pan juices throughout cooking. Remove chicken and vegetables from roasting pan and tent with foil to keep warm (aerating so skin stays crispy).
Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup and spoon off fat from top. Add enough chicken broth to measure 2 cups. Add vinegar to roasting pan; set over 2 burners and bring to boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Boil until reduced to glaze (4-6 minutes). Add broth mixture and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.
I admit, this one taxed my brain a bit, but it was so good I will make it again. And to be completely honest, the first time through a recipe always taxes my brain a bit. To make this post even more exciting I'm going to add a third recipe: homemade chicken noodle soup. This won't be very precise because I make it up as I go along, but it's a great way to use every bit of a whole chicken.
When you've finished supper remove as much meat as you can from the bone. Place the chicken carcass in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the carcass is just covered.
Carrots and celery, roughly chopped.
Salt (however much you like).
A dash of apple cider vinegar (pulls minerals from the bone).
Fresh rosemary and thyme (if you have it, if not dried will do).
Set it to simmer for a good long while (at least two-three hours).
Remove and discard the chicken carcass (you can pull more meat from the bone at this time).
Pour the broth into a large bowl (or two) through a sieve. Or use whatever you have on hand to make sure you don't wind up with vegetables and herbs in your broth.
Put it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning skim most of the fat off the top, but not all of it! Fat is good for you.
Chop up carrots and celery. Add.
Add rosemary and thyme.
Set it to simmer.
I like to let it simmer all day, but a couple hours is plenty of time.
When you are a few minutes from supper time make noodles separately and then add them to the soup. They go all mushy otherwise.
Taste for flavor. Add salt or chicken broth if you like. I only recently have managed to make a soup that I don't feel needs a bit of chicken broth added to make the flavor stronger.
So there you have it.
Roast chicken, two ways, and a soup recipe.
If you're thinking you can't handle raw chicken I promise you will be fine. I gag through the entire process, but I make it through.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
This is going to be one of those annoying I'm gardening!! posts. Apologies in advance.
But first: Yes, @Hope's Mama, this is the Pacific Northwest summer. We wear jackets and sweaters sometimes during the summer because the weather isn't always warm. And we spent our weekend away on the Washington state coast, which is quite chilly (it didn't get above 70°F (21°C) during the day). This week our warmest day is predicted at 83°F (28.3°C). And it nearly always cools down enough at night that a sweater or jacket is required.
We have SO much food in our garden right now. I love selecting our food for dinner from the backyard. When I did the weekly shop J asked, "is that really all we need?" And I was able to say, "yep, everything else is outside." Oh my stars, it's exciting! I know I'm a little bit (a lot?) lame for finding gardening so exciting, but I've never watched food grow. I'm learning a lot, some of which I probably should have known before I was 28 (almost 29 - yikes!).
For dinner I've been serving a main dish as well as lettuce, carrots and zucchini from the garden. Last night we harvested and ate the first potatoes. I season the carrots, zucchini and potatoes with whatever spices will go with our meal (suggestions: olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary or olive oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning or olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika) and then bake or grill them (oven at 425°, bake 20 minutes then broil until crispy if you like, for the grill 15 minutes or so does the trick).
I haven't had great luck with the zucchini but the carrots were amazing in the oven and on the grill and the potatoes were perfect after a fifteen minute stint on the grill. It's simple and easy and good for us. I love it.
A year ago I said I would never garden, that it just wasn't for me. Now I'm gardening (with lots of help from J) and making a lot of what we eat from scratch. Last night I made pulled pork sliders on homemade whole wheat buns.
It was easy and really good. You should try it! Here's the recipes:
Pulled Pork - the great thing about pulled pork is that I can make a big batch and freeze portions for later use. The pork we ate tonight was originally made three months ago.
Homemade Hamburger Buns - also makes great rolls. I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. And I just used water instead of making an egg wash.
And if you don't have a garden, use veggies from the store. And if you would rather not make the buns, buy them from the store. It will still be delicious.
I am starting to believe cooking should be fun. I am starting to say I hate cooking less. And I love that B is growing up playing on the floor at my feet while I cook and bake.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
It seems our dear baby is allergic to eggs. Since I cannot live without baked goods, J looked up egg substitutes. The first one he landed on was ground or milled flax seed. Thank goodness we're the type of people who have three pounds of milled flax seed in the cupboard. I can make a whole lot of baked goods with those three pounds!
This morning I tried my hand at baking without eggs. It was a success ... almost.
Baking is serious business in this house.
At least two people are required. This morning we had a chef - that's me - and a helper - that's B.
Music is required too. This morning we listened to our Chris Tomlin station on Pandora.
Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional, never add it myself)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 package chocolate chip cookies (I prefer Ghirardelli)
* You can also substitute flaxseed for butter, oil and shortening. 1 Tbsp butter, oil, shortening = 3 Tbsp flaxseed.
Preheat oven to 375
Stir flour with baking soda and salt - set aside
Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar until creamy
Add vanilla and flaxseed/water mixture
Mix until blended
Gradually blend dry ingredients with creamed mixture
Add chocolate chips
Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet
You can use a spoon, but I prefer this little gadget
If you have any dough left to put on the cookie sheets that is ...
If your helper gets bored/restless/begins screaming at the top of his/her lungs, pop in exersaucer until baking is finished.
My cookies came out a little flat, makes sense I suppose, egg is a fluffer after all (this is a real term, and if it's not, it should be)
And I forgot the baking soda!! Sheesh!
So they are more like chocolate chip pancakes. Oops. I think they will be much fluffier if you remember to add baking soda.
They taste good, though! A fine reminder that looks aren't everything. By the time they came out of the oven I was already feeling a bit of a cookie dough hangover. I went a little crazy since there was no egg in the dough. No egg, no salmonella to worry about! I wish I would have known about this recipe when I was pregnant!!
So the cookies were a bit odd, not quite as good as ones I've made with egg, but the dough, oh my, it was divine. And that's all that really matters, right?
This has been quite a weekend and it's only Saturday afternoon! I joined Twitter (@angelarodman), made egg free chocolate chip cookies, and planted my first food garden (with much help and direction from J). More to come on the garden planting. I have the cutest pictures of B in the sunshine to share. Here's a preview ...
Thursday, March 15, 2012
B finally settled down and slept well last night. The previous three nights were absolute misery. Night before last he screamed in my arms for a solid hour. I eventually put him in his crib and sat in the hall for a few moments to compose myself. We thought it was his teeth so we gave him Tylenol, but even that didn't help. Last night he slept all night in his crib, woke to nurse at 10:30, 3:30, and then slept until 8:30. I really needed the sleep, I'm so glad he had a good night.
The month of homemaking continues. This morning I popped B in the Ergo and made a batch of blueberry muffins. It was my first attempt, they turned out pretty well. I used this recipe. I've been craving them and planned to buy a mix at the store yesterday, but after looking at the ingredients list I decided to bake from scratch.
So this morning I've had half a bagel and two blueberry muffins. I think I want B to nurse forever so I can continue eating like this without gaining weight.
When J saw me looking up blueberry muffin recipes on Pinterest he said, "You know, I would eat bran muffins for breakfast ..." I guess that's next on my list to make.
I've cooked nearly every day this month. J and I went to a movie at the theater pub one night and had dinner out one other night, but other than that I've cooked every meal. I think J likes coming home to dinner instead of me in the kitchen searching through cupboards and eventually saying, "Hmm, how about pancakes or grilled cheese?" I've also tried a few new recipes: chicken parmesan, pulled pork, chicken taquitos. I can't believe I haven't had a fail yet. When I checked the calendar last night I sighed with relief to see spaghetti written down. Something easy that I know how to make, wonderful!
After dinner last night B reached for my water glass and tried to drink. We got down on the floor and I helped him get down the last of the water. We got soaked in the process, but it was amazing to watch him figure it out. It was a tall water glass too, not the easiest cup to start out with. It's so exciting when he learns something new.
After he downed the rest of the water
We've been having a series of Northwest storms. Wind and rain, power outages, lots of thunder. It's pouring outside this morning. I'm going to curl up, have a mug of tea and another muffin, or ten.
B says hello.