My World Is Upside Down

This seems like the place to share all my feelings… being my blog and all… But I’m not ready. Instead I’m just going to give you this link. Please help if you can. Pray if you can’t.

http://www.youcaring.com/other/bring-our-kids-home/240996

Kefir

So this is my next little project. I got my kefir in the mail the other day and of course immediately read through the instructions and set to rehydrating my kefir grains. I boiled my tap water to remove the chlorine and then pour it from my kettle into a mason jar. I added some white refined sugar and then a bit of molasses. I didn’t measure either thing, because I’m a rebel like that. Or rather because at this point I can pretty well eyeball a few tablespoons. Not that any of my cups and spoons is labeled these days… the numbers have long since worn off. Anyway… the sugar dissolved into the hot water nicely, but then the mixture not want to cool. So I stuck it in the fridge for a bit. Only when it hit room temperature did I add the grains… so as not to kill the bacteria. Which would just be an awful shame… but totally something I would do….

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They kinda look gross, right? But not as bad at a kombucha SCOBY. If you can drink what comes from that thing, this is no big deal for sure. I’m pretty excited. They have to sit in the mixture pictured below for another day or two before I renew the sugar mix and let them ferment it. I’ll try adding a little himalayan salt for minerals and the same refined sugar and molasses ratios… plus a touch of baking soda to promote growth. Did I mention that I bought this for FREE using Amazon gift cards I got from doing Swagbucks? I do practically nothing on that site… The occasional search, and the daily poll, and I earn money. How cool is that? You can of course do more… they have tons of offers, but I’m lazy and don’t want to do anything that might result in spam or require my personal information. swagbucks.com/refer/mrsmusic

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Considering the GREAT weather we’re having, my first flavor choice is going to be a nice tropical mango. Mostly because I have some torani sitting around from like more than a year ago and I’ve not found an excuse to go through it. Not as healthy as just dropping in some pure vanilla, or real fruit… but frugal.

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Just a quick peak at how the grains are doing. They’ve plumped up some. That’s my ring to the side there… I needed to put something in the picture to make my camera focus. But it also gives a pretty good size comparison. My ring is about the size of a penny.

Camping

 

 

We decided to take the kids camping Friday night. It was a spur of the moment decision and we put it together using only the things we already had in our kitchen. The kids had a great time. We went up to a campsite near Kapowsin. It’s not really what I would call “camping” due to its lack of real wilderness. Very “first world.” Although when I called it “white people camping” my husband failed to understand… It was mostly a reference to the numerous RVs sharing the site. Anyway. It was an overnight in a tent. The kids got to run around outside, play frisbee (or “crispy” as A calls it), blow bubbles, and toss flowers into a creek.

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I finally got a chance to use my new skillet. I’d been putting off seasoning it because I didn’t have a real NEED to use a 10.5 inch cast iron skillet, as much as I wanted to own one. And I seasoned it on our way out the door knowing I could use it to whip up some eggs. The eggs I beat and poured into a mason jar at home for transport in the cooler. Best camping hack ever.

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I packed some seasonings. I just couldn’t leave the house without some pepper and some himalayan pink salt. You can’t have eggs without salt. And some butter… which I also packed. My husband saw this and started calling me Samwise and asking if I was planning to roast a chicken. For the record… I would have.

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Saturday we stopped in at a local farm and picked up some veggies for dinner. We came up with purple cauliflower and a giant artichoke. The price was too good to pass up.

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And for dinner I came up with a (bunless) bacon cheeseburger (yes… not paleo, but you can not have a hamburger without cheese. So let’s compromise and call it a primal dinner) with roasted red onion on a bed of baby spinach, purple cauliflower mash, and artichoke with garlic butter dipping sauce. This picture was taken in front of the backyard fire pit. I made the cauliflower mash with some sauteed garlic and himalayan pink salt. Dinner was yummy.

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Spring Treats

 

So a couple days ago I decided to make some “spa water.” I was chopping fruit for the dehydrator anyway. This is the flavor combination I came up with. Cucumber watermelon strawberry lime and mint. Decided we needed something without sugar  but less boring to drink around the house. I also decided to order some water kefir grains on Amazon. My SIL is in love with fermenting things and she suggested I try it after we talked about how I needed to get started with kombucha again. She’s mailing me another SCOBY, and last night I got a shipping notice for the kefir.

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Dehydrate all the things! Here’s my beautiful dehydrator full of apples, strawberries and watermelon. The apples are destined for other places (snack mix) but the watermelon is for eating plain like candy. The strawberries already ended up being eaten along with some yogurt, but I originally planned to use them for granola bars.

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And here’s the finished product:

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That’s all for the “pretty” stuff. Bright and early my MIL texted my husband that the goats (and she herself) have cryptospiridiosis. Ok, so not so bright, considering it was before sunrise, but definitely early. She’s VERY concerned. Although in a healthy person, a few weeks (up to a few months) of diarrhea is inconvenient, it’s not really something to be too worried about. And eventually the parasite is expelled on its own. In an immunocompromised person (such as someone with Celiac or Autoimmune Heptatitis) or someone taking corticosteriods or immunosuppressants, the parasite can be quite persistent. It can be impossible to get rid of, and will eventually deprive them of nutrients and hydration to the point of death. On the bright side… K doesn’t seem infected. Although M does. So all the kids are being secluded from each other today. We need to pick up hydrogen peroxide and wormwood. Thankfully, we have a WCV scheduled for M tomorrow. So we’ll get everyone checked out then. And perhaps they’ll say it’s nothing?

The week in review

 

 

 

 

I managed to remember to take a few pictures of my kitchen adventures this week. But since I did repeats of some of my favorites (and because my food photographer is sub par at best) I am just posting a couple. Below is some shrimp fried “rice.” Previously, when attempting to make cauliflower fried rice, I had to grate the cauliflower to rice size by hand. Now I have the great fortune of being able to toss it in my ninja for about 15 seconds.  Fried “rice” is great because you can substitute in or out any number of meat or vegetable options. Or even fruit. Like you see here, I added pineapple and fresh basil leaves. The original recipe is on nomnompaleo.com. I would love to get my hands on her cookbook and just work my way through.
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Also from Nom Nom Paleo this week I attempted Green Chicken, and Cracklin’ Chicken. Cracklin’ Chicken is a staple in my house. I absolutely love it. My husband, however, isn’t a huge fan. He just doesn’t seem to enjoy chicken thighs. Regardless of how I cook them.  The green chicken was, unsurprisingly, not my favorite. I dislike cilantro and the mint with meat thing… It was just too odd. But don’t let that discourage you from trying it. It seems to be a crowd pleaser, according to NomNomPaleo facebook comments.

I’ll probably be making some bone broth soon. While cutting the bones out of my chicken thighs, I remarked to myself “I’m running out of places to store bones…” And of course immediately realized how creepy that sounds out of context. Which I also verbalized. My husband had to agree, from his seat on the couch. I did explain that I was in the middle of preparing dinner and that I had 2 tupperware containers of bones already and just none left to use because they’re all busy (I ended up using a ziploc bag) but he still thought it was an odd thing to say out loud.

 

 

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Also this week I decided I needed to tackle some of the paleo snack recipes I’ve been collecting, and had picked up the ingredients for. I only actually got around to one. Easter weekend. We got busy with church and egg hunts and visiting family. But I did make time to try Popular Paleo’s Apple Pie Snack Mix. Best news? It’s Whole 30 compliant. No… wait… Best news is that it is DELICIOUS. Served warm or room temperature. I mananged to have the self control to feed most of it to my kids, but I had to have some. And it’s back on my to do list.

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It’s dried apples, walnuts, coconut oil, vanilla, toasted coconut flakes, and “pumpkin pie spice.” Super easy and fast to make. I put that last ingredient in quotes because I don’t ever have it on hand. Ever. It seems silly to me to buy something like that when I own all the ingredients separately and could just as easily use a dash from each of those bottles of spices.  I’m not going to post the recipe but believe me when I say you should head over to Popular Paleo and grab it. Yum.

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This picture is misleading… Yes, it looks great stored in a mason jar. But to be honest, it stayed there for about 30 seconds before we ate it. And in unrelated news… K milked a goat yesterday. Grandma and Grandpa have new baby goats. The kids were just too happy to head out back to see them. And my adventurous little farm girl tried her hand at milking.

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This is my new dehydrator. Because my husband loves me.  And today I will be drying watermelon, strawberries, and apples. You can guess what the apples are for. The strawberries are for granola bars. And eating plain. And the watermelon is just going to be done in strips… like candy. Hope it all goes well.

 

Whole 30 Weekending

 

 

 

 

 

I occasionally enjoy reading other blogs. One of my favorites (although my husband doesn’t understand the appeal) is The Bloggess. And the other day I went into my kitchen to find this beautiful practical joke from my husband. I love that man.

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It’s been sunny here in Washington. We decided to make the most of our 3 day weekend. Friday we went to the dentist to get K’s cap put back on her tooth. Then we went up north to run a few errands and had lunch at Famous Dave’s. You can make this Whole30 by ordering what I did… The Cedar Plank Salmon (no sauce) with steamed broccoli and grilled pineapple. Just make sure not to get any bbq or honey. 😉 My middle son tore into his hunk of bone-in chicken like a real caveman.

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Picture above is Saturday’s “brunch.” Scrambled eggs with tarragon, smoked salmon and red onion. This was good. The kids really enjoyed it. Saturday we went out for a paleo picnic at the park. I brought more smoked salmon, mesquite smoked turkey, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, baby carrots, hummus, and the kids picked out their own drinks. VitaCoco (coconut water) in pineapple and lemonade flavors. Pictured below is an example of Whole30 stir-fry, in case you aren’t planning a picnic. Don’t use soy sauce. Because I haven’t dropped into Whole Foods for coconut aminos, I made this using thai fish sauce and balsamic vinegar. Sounds weird, but believe me. Top it with a little homemade chili garlic sauce and you wont even know the difference!

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After our picnic, we went to the mall and let the kids drive around on one of the “zoomers” that they rent out at a kiosk inside. They chose the dinosaur and had an absolute blast for the next 30 minutes. And we finished up the day by grocery shopping. And I’m pretty excited to make a few of the things I’ve got saved to my Pinterest boards. Strawberry banana granola bars, apple pie trail mix, fruit snacks… We didn’t pick up any processed goodies for the kids this month. I’m considering making the kids some paleo themed shirts. I’ve got some great ideas. I’ll post them up when I’m done, and of course, because I’m nice, I’ll be willing to make and ship some to anyone who is interested at cost. Because profit is lame. 😉

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Sunday morning we went to church. Which we do every week. It was Palm Sunday and our church was having baptisms. Pastor Kevin preached on The  Bystander Effect as part of his There Is More series. It was a good one. K decided to get baptised, and now I plan to sit down with her during our Bible lessons and make sure she truly understands the importance of her life decision. At only 7, it seems like a 50/50 chance she only did it because she knows Jesus did. After church, our goal was to have a relaxing day in. Our water heater, however, had other plans. And the stupid bottom rusted out at water shot out from anywhere it could possibly escape and has flooded my laundry room. I’m still waiting for a call from  the people who are supposed to replace it. Thankfully, this happened right after I had finished all my husband’s work laundry, and washed the dishes before dinner. The dinner dishes will just have to be done with boiled water (after I’m done with this post.) And I wanted to share one of the AMAZING paleo dinner discoveries I’ve had. Even my kids loved it. Bacon Beef Butternut Squash from The Civilized Caveman. I like this so much, I’m going to post the recipe right here with the modifications I made. DON’T use the cheap packaged bacon. It’ll be too greasy. Grab it from the butcher. Or a Applegate bacon will work. It’s usually reasonably priced at Fred Meyer.

Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Cut squash in half and scrape out the seeds
  3. Place face down in a pyrex dish with 1/2 inch of hot water and cook for 30 minutes
  4. While its in the oven, cook the bacon in a pan until crispy, set aside and leave the bacon fat in the pan
  5. Add 2 of the sliced onions and celery to the pan and then add the beef
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and your cinnamon
  7. Continue stirring until the beef is finished, remove from heat and place in a bowl
  8. Remove the squash from the oven, when you can handle it scrape out some of the guts, leaving ~1/4 inch of squash, add squash to bowl with meat
  9. Crumble your bacon and add that to the bowl as well
  10. Mix well and then stuff your squashes with the beef mixture and place back in the 350 degree oven for 20 minutes
  11. While your squash are baking, add your reserved onion to your sauté pan (drained, add 1 TBS olive oil… or keep just 1 TBS of animal fat) and cook them over low heat with your balsamic to caramelize them
  12. Remove squash from oven, top with caramelized onions and Enjoy!

What’s the opposite of a green thumb?

Before I tell you an amusing anecdote, I must preface it with some information about me. First, I’ve somehow managed to kill every plant I have ever owned. To be fair, there have been few. But I’m just not great with remembering to care for them. And even the ones I try to tend to seem to just keel over. Second, when I moved into my current house, there were ants. And not just a few like “darn it is spring so there are ants”… like I brought in some food and my counters were CRAWLING. I was so pissed I almost moved the hell back out, honestly. If I had known what a problem and expense they would continue to be, I would not be here right now. We’ve got it livably under control… But once I escape this place, if I never see another ant it will be too soon. /tangent. Anyway, so I bug bombed just to give myself a running start. I left my plant inside. It’s the one plant I have. It’s still alive, obviously, but I wasn’t sure if plants can just be poisoned… And my husband teases me mercilessly. And lastly… I have had pets. I don’t kill my pets. Also, hopefully, an obvious point. Specifically, I have had pet rabbits. A wild one I found in the garden, and two New Zealand Whites. One of the NZW chewed his way free never to be seen again. But Bubbles (my nzw doe) lived a long, if quite over fed, life at my hands in a hutch in my carport.

Story time.

We’re driving to church the other night and my husband and I are talking about our lawn. It’s uneven and a bit overrun with weeds. So he’s not sure the little mower will be able to tackle it. I suggest that he invite his mother to bring up the goats and let them graze the place and then he can mow it after they’ve given us the assist. Which somehow reminds me that I saw mini jersey cows on pinterest (yes yes… I’m addicted) and I say that I think small cows are perfect for homesteads.

Husband: “No. We are not getting a cow!”

“Well, not now. But some day…”

“Ok. Some day. After I am dead. You can have a cow.”

“But I want one for milk for the family…”

“No. No livestock.”

“Except the rabbits….”

“A rabbit. One.”

“….What am I going to do with ONE rabbit?!”

“Keep it alive for 3 weeks without bug bombing it. Then you can have another one.”

I started laughing then, which sort of ruins my argument. He does understand that you can’t breed rabbits with just one. But since I’ll likely buy each rabbit from a different breeder (to make sure they’re not related) a little time between buying one and the next isn’t that big of a deal to me. Plus I can work on growing some of their food during their time. And building another hutch or rabbit tractor or whatever. Collecting things I need. He did look at me a little funny when I suggested that we might want 2 or 3 does… So I’ll probably start with just one. And then keep a doe from the first litter and let her start breeding when she is old enough. It’s a good slow start. Allows for a learning curve. My husband figures I shouldn’t name the rabbits, but I will probably nickname the breeders for my own use in record keeping. Then I can add a letter and number for their tattoos. Not that I’m entirely sure how to go about tattooing a bunny ear…

Today I’m going to work up a list of edible herbs and plants I’d like to pick up for gardening purposes. But that’s for after school. Today’s lesson is revolving around a “spring” theme. And a quick lesson on the real reason for Easter. They learn it in church but since the kids are allowed to watch TV, they see a lot of other stuff too. I don’t think they care about the Easter bunny myth… they just enjoy chocolate rabbits.