But, whenever I see them on sale, for some reason I feel compelled to stock up.
And sometimes, if I am at Costco and need chicken, I'll buy the whole organic ones in the 2-pack. I come home and usually throw them in the freezer out in the garage. Then as I open the close the freezer door to reach for fish or other meat every so often, I SEE THEM. I begin to resent them for hogging my freezer space. I know I should use them. Then I think of the 2-3 day thaw time they need. I think of the unpleasantness of reaching inside to get their innards out. I think of the chicken juice that gets all over the sink. And I really don't enjoy cutting them up into pieces (plus I'm really, really bad at it). Honestly, I just never really feel in the mood to deal with them. So they sit. Then our weather turned cold this week, and I thought of cooking one in my crock pot. I don't know why this genius method isn't employed more often in my kitchen. It is SO easy, it's ridiculous. I just put the whole chicken in the crock pot with about a half a box of chicken broth, a can of diced tomatoes in juice, and some homemade taco seasoning (recipe to follow). If you want, you can cut the chicken in half, but it's not necessary. I turn the crock pot on low for 5-6 hours, then strain the chicken (and loose bones) and tomatoes out, returning the juice to the crock pot. I shred the fall-off-the-bone tender chicken and return it to the juice in the pot. Voila! Chicken meat for soft tacos, quesadillas, taco salad, enchiladas,tostadas... you name it! It is so moist and delicious. And, I might mention the house smells terrific all day as it cooks, which is so lovely on an overcast day. I'm going to start putting it in my rotation (we usually have a Mexican night once a week). Of course you could use any chicken pieces as well. I think bone-in chicken cooks up the most tender, and the mix of dark and light meat is perfectly flavorful.
I don't buy seasoning "mixes." If you keep a well-stocked spice cabinet, you should have everything at your fingertips to make your own mixes, everything from taco seasoning, to chili seasoning, to barbecue seasoning. Recipes are widely available online for virtually every mix needed. And, as a bonus, your "mix" won't have all that weird stuff in it that you can't pronounce.
Recently I saw this at the store, and it truly made me laugh.
I don't mean to insult anyone, but is this not the dumbest thing EVER? Have we stooped to this level of convenience (actually this package seems terribly inconvenient if you ask me)?I mean seriously, people cannot put spices together for a recipe on their own? I don't remember the cost of these, but most of it has to be wrapped up in the packaging! Oh, but they are "inspiring" so maybe you are paying for that. :-) Anyways, here's the recipe I used for the seasoning. I made this in full but only used half for one chicken. You could double or triple this so it's ready when you need it!
Descanso Gardens is one of those wonderful places to visit in the L.A. area. It is a large, mature, and beautiful garden nestled in the beautiful community of La Canada Flintridge, just a couple miles away from where I grew up in North Glendale. I hadn't been there in so long, I was really looking forward to our visit today. We actually planned our visit there because Tomatomania was going to be set up for their annual sale of tomato plants. We have purchased our plants from them for at least five years now and have had great growing success! They set up each spring in various locations in the L.A. area, and it's always an extra bonus when they set up somewhere beautiful like Descanso Gardens or the Arboretum. They have so many interesting and unusual varieties available, and the staff puts on helpful workshops and will advise you which plants to choose. Today I was so excited to awake to such beautiful sunny weather! It was so pretty, it felt like a true spring day, and I was ready for an outing. We actually ventured out for a double date with our longtime, dear friends Don and Roxane. We are so thankful for the long, enduring friendship we have had with them. We have too many memories with them to even mention (beginning with our first apartments first married in the same building together -- the Ricardos and the Mertzes -- such fun!). They are like family to us and we are very fond of them and their four boys. It's not often we get to have an opportunity to do something fun like this together as couples, so I was especially excited for the to get to have lunchand go to Descanso with them. Don was the one who first inspired us to grow tomatoes MANY years ago after we first tasted his homemade salsa from his own tomatoes. Now, I think we inspired him with our Tomatomania varieties (last summer we dumped boatloads on them) and he and Rox wanted to come along to the sale this year. First, we had a great alfresco lunch at Berolina -- a big fresh salad, a grilled portabello panini, and of course a slice of princess cake. :-) We then ventured over to Descanso, picked out our tomato plants (I think we each bought a dozen), and then decided we could spend some time in the gardens. We had such a delightful time walking the grounds and admiring all the spring blooms and color. Here are some photos from our beautiful day.
All excited to grow our selections! Glad our guys are great gardeners!
Breathtaking tulips in many colors all in bloom
So many to choose from!
It's magical (& fragrant) walking through the lilac garden
I'm in love with the sourdough process! About 3 months ago, I made my own starter. It is now thriving and I find myself using it a few times a week. "Souring" is an ancient practice and helps make your whole grains more digestible and nourishing. What has really been helpful is the Sourdough A-Z e-book I purchased from www.gnowfglins.com. The technique is well explained and it includes many wonderful recipes. I haven't even tried traditional bread yet as I've been having so much fun with muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc. I use freshly ground whole wheat flour in my starter. So far, my favorite recipe is sourdough waffles! Words cannot express how delightful they are. They are so light and crispy like the Belgian kind at my favorite bakery. I love to slather them with butter and real maple syrup, hot off the waffle iron. And they are the easiest/healthiest things to make- just add some starter to eggs, coconut oil, salt, a little sweetener (I like maple syrup), baking soda, and the batter is ready to go.I freeze any extras in baggies and just pop them in the toasterto eat. I really would maintain my starter forever just to be ensured a constant supply of these. :-)
The sourdough waffle recipe is here. I've also been experimenting with sourdough pizza dough. I've made pizza dough three times -- it keeps getting better with each attempt but I'm not there yet. :-) This morning I made English muffins. They were absolutely delicious! And so fun to make. I made the dough last night with starter, raw kefir, and flour. This morning I shaped and griddled the muffins in my cast iron skillet. They turned out quite pretty, I just had to share. The recipe can be found here.
My Drew takes a smoothie to go on his way out the door every weekday morning. He always leaves around 7:00 am for either work or school. I usually make enough smoothie for two people, and either Emma or myself drink the rest.
I make the smoothie about the same everyday in my capable Vitamix:
-1 frozen banana, cubed -a handful of frozen pineapple chunks or mango chunks -a handful of frozen berries -- either the organic antioxidant blend from Costco that I LOVE, or a mix of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc. -small handful of fresh spinach -1 Tbsp. organic flax oil -around 1/2 cup milk: raw milk, full fat canned coconut milk, fresh almond milk -around 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice or a couple whole peeled oranges -ice
Even though the raw smoothie is bursting with wonderful enzymes and vitamins, too much sugar (even natural sugar) can cause your glands to work overtime to handle the hyperglycemic response of all that fruit. Protein slows down the response and eases the sugar into your system. Sometimes I put a little hemp protein powder in, but I can't really put a good dose of it in without altering the flavor and texture of the smoothie. And for Drew the smoothie needs to be more pink than green, you know? :-) (He doesn't know that I put flax oil in either...shhh). I don't like to use any processed weird dairy protein powders (super yuk). If I use raw milk there is a some protein,but why not add a probiotic along with thatprotein too?
Today I decided to add some raw unflavored kefir to the smoothie. 1 cup of kefir has 8 g. of protein! The smoothie turned out fabulous! I personally enjoy drinking the kefir plain, but in the smoothie it is absolutely delicious. The tang and creaminess is great. You can either cut out the original milk in the recipe or not. I added about 3/4 cup kefir to the above recipe, using coconut milk as well.
In case you're wondering what in the world kefir is, or even how to even pronounce it (some say KEY-furr and some say KEFF-urr, it's actually Kuh-FEAR) here is an interesting article on the benefits of it. Say it how you wish, kefir it is basically the dairy cousin of kombucha. Instead of a scoby, kefir "grains" are used to ferment milk. The complex symbiosis of more than 30 microflora form a grain-like structure of proteins, lipids, and sugars. So kefir is a fantastic probiotic. And in its unpasturized form you also get all the wonderful benefits of raw dairy. And yes, you can make your own kefir as you can make kombucha (uh oh... that sounds like something I'd do...watch out!).
You can buy Organic Pastures raw kefir at Sprouts market.
Sorry I haven’t blogged lately. I had been feeling guilty about it, then I
got the following text this week:
“I’m beginning to go
through “e-wife lack of blog-posts withdrawls… it’s just miserable over
here. The pain…”
I would probably embarrass this person if I addressed them here
on the blog. But I suppose I could
throw out a few hints as to this person's identity:
1. It’s a male reader. 2. He is under
age 21. 3. He likes a certain someone
in my household.
Thanks for reading, you know who you are. :-) This post is dedicated to you - as random as it may be. And thanks for reading.
Incidentally, I’ve noticed how men in particular like to comment to me about my blog.
I got a comment from one of my Shepherds’ Conference guests
(from Connecticut), who also reads my blog.
He has been a longtime reader and said he observed that I was going “all healthy” on the blog and seemed a bit disturbed (in a nice way).
Anyways, by the time he left my house he had a hopeless addiction to Kombucha
and the brewed cocoa beans we use, Crio Bru.
What can I say? The e-wife
And once at the Shepherds' conference, a man I'd never met approached me and asked if I was the e-wife. He very excitedly told me that his wife was a faithful reader and asked for a picture with me!
Oh, men can be so cute. They read blogs.
So, yes life has been rather busy and I haven’t blogged. And it’s ok.
I’m trying to get next year’s Master’s Kids classes in order,ready the
current class for graduation, and oh yeah help with the wedding. And I sort of keep forgetting my son is graduating college in 7 weeks and deserves some sort of celebration! Anyways, a lot on my plate. Normal life has definitely been amped up. It's been a
struggle recently to just get the regular things like cooking & cleaning
done. The other day I literally dropped everything to stay home and dust, vacuum, and clean bedsheets.And I am not one who deals with stress all that well. I try avoid it like the plague by balancing my schedule very carefully and not becoming over-busy. But sometimes things are out of my control and stress creeps in. I have to remind myself to be
thankful as the Lord has truly given me so many GOOD things to do, even though
at times I’m overwhelmed. Each night, about 9:00 p.m. after another full day, Rich usually brews
us some “choffee” (what we call our Crio Bru) and lures me to the
couch for an episode of Downton Abbey.
It truly is so calming and lets my mind just take a break from all the
thinking and planning and doing.
So all that to say, I would love to blog on the following if
I had more time: Wedding plans. EEEEEEKKKKK it’s only 8
weeks away! But seriously, I think things are falling
together nicely. I’m thankful to have a
part in some fun things, not TBA yet, and we as the groom’s family are planning
the rehearsal dinner (for close to 60).
But- how cool is this… it’s in a barn!
So many praises along the way, too. Drew and Stephanie have found an apartment
in the same building with lifelong friends for less than they hoped to spend, been blessed with very nice either free or mostly free furniture (bedroom set, new bed, couch, fridge). They are all registered, and
three showers are on their way in April!
I even found my dress… relief!
I do have to say, nothing like a sleeveless dress to drive one to the gym, huh? Do you think 8 weeks enough to get rid of my
flabby arms and get sculpted runner’s calves?
Well, I’m sure gonna try.
Sourdough. Quite a switch
in topics, but I am proud to say after 8 weeks I now have a successful sourdough
starter and have been cranking out the most amazing sourdough waffles. I’ve also had success with pancakes and pizza
dough. Bread and other things are on the
horizon… stay tuned!
My reading list. This book is a very interesting read:
I’m now pretty much convinced that pasteurized milk products
have no place in our diet. I guess we
never stop to think about how altered milk is and how non-nutritional/harmful
it is. Eye-opening for sure. Our family doesn’t consume much dairy, but
raw cheese, cream, milk and butter are more important than ever to me. I hope to put together a post soon.
This book is next on the horizon:
And most of all this book has been so inspiring to live simply
in light of the gospel in such busy times.
Great refreshment! If you have never read it, please do yourself a favor and get it. It's my favorite book next to the bible.
You'll find a host of healthy food in my pantry... and then there's the Costco-sized jar of Nutella. I know. For Valentine's day this year, I decided to try my hand at homemade Nutella. Or, I probably should say, try my Vitamix. After all, the ingredients are much better, and that beast of a machine was more than up to the task.
It was SO easy... and while I admit it doesn't taste exactly like Nutella, it's enough to get rid of that jar in the cupboard for me.
2 cups roasted unsalted hazelnuts (Trader Joe's)
1 cup organic powdered sugar
½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ cup melted coconut oil
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. sea salt
Process in vitamix until smooth and shiny.Makes 2 cups.
Keep refrigerated, but bring to room temperature for easier spreading.
The second treats are the most amazing granola bars. Really, I'm serious. I've made many recipes, but never quite achieved the result I was hoping for. This one is a keeper. Not too sweet, not too soft, not too crunchy, perfect balance of oats to other ingredients, and I love everything that goes in them. I have a GF friend coming for coffee soon, so I made these for her to enjoy. You can certainly sub in regular oats. You can probably also make other substitutions, such as almond butter instead of peanut butter, or any kind of crunchy nuts that you like. Enjoy!
Gluten-Free Granola Bars 2 cups gluten-free oats (or regular oats) 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 1 cup raw almonds 1 cup raw sunflower seeds 1/4 cup flax seed 1/2 tsp. sea salt 3/4 cup chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, blueberries, or raisins (use unsweetened, unsulfured) 1/4 cup cacao nibs(opt.) 3/4 cup natural peanut butter 3/4 cup honey 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tsp. almond extract (opt.) 1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine the oats, coconut, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and salt in a food processor. Process until well mixed and the nuts are in small pieces (alternately you can chop everything by hand). Dump everything into a large mixing bowl and add in dried fruit and cacao nibs (if using). In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, honey, vanilla, almond extract (if using), and cinnamon. Pour this mixture over the dried mixture and mix well (I find clean hands are the best tools).
Dump mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Press down firmly and evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes (check at 20 min.- bars shouldn't be all the way hard, but not too soft).
Cool completely and cut into bars. Wrap individually in waxed paper and store refrigerated in an airtight container. These bars also freeze well.
I recently read some interesting information about elderberries. The black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.
The berries are used for their antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the
immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu,
bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Theingredient of focus is the anthocyanins, which are potent purple pigments (say that three times fast!). They have more antioxidant capability than vitamins C or E.
I actually stumbled upon this information when I found someone flavoring kombucha with the berries. It peaked my interest, and I read some more about it. That led to finding a recipe for elderberry syrup that you could easily make. I thought would be good to have on hand during winter. It is supposed to help shorten flus and colds and even can be taken proactively, a little each day, to help boost the immune system. I actually can't recall the last time anyone in our family had the flu (I know Rich and I have not had it since before I was pregnant with Emma and that was 20 years ago). However, since the flu has reached epidemic proportions this winter, and so many are getting hit, I want to do everything I can to help my family's immune systems fight and to have something to use in case we do get it, to shorten the duration. While I believe a strong diet, exercise, and a little sunshine are of foremost importance, I figured a boost can't hurt! So, I made some elderberry syrup. It couldn't have been easier. I started with dried organic elderberries which I simmered in water. I smashed them a bit, and then strained out the berries. I stirred in organic raw honey to some of this "juice" to thicken it to a syrup (and help it taste better). The honey will act as a natural preservative, and the syrup will last 2-3 months in the fridge. I had some extra elderberry "juice" left that I decided to leave plain and have been adding some to our morning smoothies (see my recipe below).
the juice and the honey
labeled jars, ready for the fridge
Here's the recipe I used for the elderberry syrup.
I'm the happy wife of Rich, and the blessed mother of three: Brady (with the Lord), Drew, and Emma (and I'll be gaining another daughter, Stephanie in May!). I am a sinner saved by grace who loves my God-given role of serving my family and being a worker at home.
Why "e-wife"? Rich nicknamed me that because I buy anything I can online. So, contrary to popular belief, the "e" actually stands for "electronic" and not "excellent" - though I do strive to be an excellent wife! ~ Proverbs 31:10