Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Egg-stravaganza

(sorry about the pun; it simply couldn't be avoided.)

After apparently not learning our lesson about last year's egg hunt at the GT resort, we tried again this year. In our (my) defense, it was at the farmer's market and was segregated by age, so I had illusions of better organization and less crazy parents. And I was wrong, of course. But I still think it was worth checking out. Despite yucky weather, we still had fun. Next year, though, I think we will just do a hunt in our own yard.

We came home and dyed some easter eggs with whatever organic materials I could find in my kitchen that I thought would impart some color.

Here are our eggs soaking:

And here they are in the crate, after 6hrs in the dye:

From top left, the dyes are: red onion skins; yellow onion skins; lemon peels; saffron; lemon peels + yellow onion skins.
From bottom left: chlorophyll (nutritional supplement); cranberry cove tea; purple cabbage leaves; chlorophyll + yellow onion skins; purple cabbage leaves + baking soda.

First I gathered by materials and boiled them in about two cups of water, until the liquid started to turn color. In the actual cups, we only put 1C of dyed water plus 1tbsp of vinegar. I'm fairly impressed, considering how last-minute and random the entire project was. Plus the resulting deviled eggs were delicious.

Happy Easter! May spring bring us growth and new opportunities!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How I spent my Saturday, pt 2: ginger-peach pie w/coconut crust

This recipe is a two-for: coconut crust + ginger-peach filling. The crust is super easy. The filing requires a bit more attention, but it's worth it. The last time I used this crust, I made a cherry pie, that was also delicious. I imagine a banana cream or chocolate mousse or blueberry pie filling would also complement this sort of crust quite well. Good thing summer is coming. I look forward to posting many more variations of pie in the future.

Today's on-a-whim pie filling was ginger, peach & lemon.

Ginger Peach Pie w/shredded coconut crust


1 1/2 C dried shredded coconut, unsweetened
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

* Mix ingredients
* Press into pie plate
* Bake at 350*F for roughly 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on it; it browns quickly.


1 lb peach frozen peach slices
1/4 C + 1 Tbsp sugar - I used turbinado sugar today
1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
1/3 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can coconut milk
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin

* Chop up peach slices & toss with lemon juice, ginger & sugar (I actually ground my minced ginger with 1 Tbsp of sugar with my mortar & pestle then mixed that into the peaches with the lemon juice & the rest of the sugar).

* Let it stand 30 minutes, occasionally stirring.

* Drain peaches into a saucepan, add coconut milk (total liquid here should equal roughly two cups, for those who like to keep track of such things).

* Reserve peaches.

* Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let soften, ~1 minute. Bring just to a simmer and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

* Add diced peaches.

* Transfer to a metal bowl in an ice bath (I put water & ice in my sink and put the bowl on top of that). Stir frequently until mixture begins to mound (about 20-30 minutes).

* Pour into pre-baked and cooled pie crust.

* Chill until set, at least four hours.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How I spent my Saturday, pt 1: coconut flour chocolate chip cookies!

Between the egg hunt at the farmers' market, dying eggs with homemade dyes (post w/pics coming), baking a ginger-peachy pie, making these cookies & then making dinner, I am wiped out. Here is the recipe for just the cookies. Expect other recipes in the coming week. Enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 C coconut flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 C solid oil (palm shortening, coconut oil, butter)
1/2 C sugar - I used turbinado sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
1/2 C shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
3/4 C mini chocolate chips - I used Enjoy Life since they are allergy-friendly.

Preheat oven to 375*F.

* Cream shortening & sugar. Add vanilla.

* Add eggs & mix well.

* In a separate bowl, mix coconut flour & sea salt. Add to bowl and mix very well. I either use my stand mixer or a whisk and whisk until the batter is very smooth. The coconut flour likes to clump.

* Fold in shredded coconut & chocolate chips.

* Bake for ~10min on a greased cookie sheet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

(Experimental) Chebe Bread Recreation Recipe

I just love a chance to reverse engineer a packaged food. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), like today, it turns out even better than the mix.

Dave likes the Chebe bread mixes. [Actually, we all like them, but they require eggs and are super high oxalate, so the kids and I are avoiding for now.] The only problem is, the mixes are pretty pricey for the amount of product you actually get. The cheapest I can find them are $2.32/package - and that is when you buy a pack of 8, on amazon. At our local co-op, I think the price is more in the $3.50- $4.00 range. Each bag has 7.5oz of mix, which includes tapioca starch, "modified" tapioca starch, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar & spices. For comparison's sake, I can get 10lbs of tapioca starch for $9ish at a local Health Food Store [Earth's Garden in Kalkaska, for you locals. Neat lady, interesting selection of foods - definitely some stuff there you can't find at Oryana or Edson Farms.]

I started with the ingredients. I figured the baking soda, salt, cream of tartar & spices didn't weigh all that much, so I weighed out roughly 7.5oz of tapioca starch. I'm not sure what the difference between tapioca starch and "modified" tapioca starch is, but it's potentially the reason my recreation attempt turned into an impromptu polymers lesson. I did make the over-exuberant mistake of substituting an ingredient right off the bat. Instead of cream of tartar, I decided to use balsamic vinegar. No reason, really, as I had the cream of tartar sitting right there. I had my eggs, oil, and water all ready to go. Well... I actually had a teeny bit of leftover raw shredded zucchini that I buzzed up with water to get the appropriate amount of liquid needed. So, two substitutions technically.

I put the eggs in the stand mixer and started mixing with the paddle, then added the oil. So far, I'm using the identical process to when I make the mix. In a separate bowl, I mixed the tapioca starch, salt, baking soda, and spices. At this point, I decided to use vinegar instead of cream of tartar, so I added the vinegar to the eggs & oil. Poured the tapioca mixture into the eggs/oil/vinegar. It started clumping up just like when I make the mix. So, I poured in the zucchini/water and instead of making a goopy ball I could knead (expected result), it turned to a liquid-y, THICK soup.

I admit, at this point, I started to panic a bit. Our car is in the shop. I have very little food in the house that Dave will eat. I don't have anymore ingredients for a do-over. In my panic, I decided to add more tapioca starch. Approximately 1.5C of starch yielded the required 7.5oz (by weight). I added another 1/2 C. It thickened things up alright, but in a very bizarre way. It made it look solid in the bowl. And when I poked it, it was really hard. I thought I might be able to pick it up and knead it, like you do the mix. However, when I tried to scoop it up, it immediately started to liquify and ooze everywhere. I thought perhaps it needed to be mixed better, so I stirred it up and tried again. Same result. The only way to keep it from oozing between my fingers was to toss it back and forth from hand to hand, or to roll it on the counter. I decided just to put it in the oiled pan and toss it in the oven and see what happens.

When I poured it into the pan, it was liquid while it was pouring, but solidified in the pan before it reached the edges. I had to scoop up parts and sort of plop them down where I wanted to go. As soon as some batter was scooped up, it liquified and as soon as it hit the pan, solidified again. I know there is a scientific answer for this. I sent a message to my friend who teaches HS Chemistry and see if she can explain it to me.

I poked holes in the top and rubbed it with oil. It baked for maybe 10 minutes at 375*F and it was fabulous. A little chewy but maybe not in a bad way. I'll try again with less starch next time and see what happens. I will also recreate with cream of tartar instead of vinegar and see if that makes a difference. Ah, science geekery. Too much fun. And it's edible and tasty. Double-win!

Without much further ado, here is the recipe, as I made it today:

Italian Herb Focaccia

2C tapioca starch
1/2tsp sea salt
1tsp baking soda
pinches each of: rosemary, basil, oregano & thyme.
sprinkle of black pepper
2tbsp grapeseed oil
2 eggs
5tbsp of "zucchini milk": shredded zucchini mixed with water in the mini food processor
2tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375*F. Oil your pan now, so you don't forget and then have to do it while juggling dough, like I did. Also, I used a rectangle cake pan. I'm sure other shapes and sizes would work fine, too.

* Mix eggs, oil & vinegar.

* In a separate bowl, mix tapioca starch, salt, baking soda, spices.

* Pour tapioca mixture into egg mixture. The tapioca starts to suck up the eggs quickly.

* Add 5tbsp of "zucchini milk" (or real milk, or another milk sub, or water, whatever) to the batter.

* Pour batter into oiled pan. Do the gloppy redistribution thing if necessary. Rub oil on top and poke holes all over.

* Bake for roughly 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, when it's done, it will start to brown around the edges and on top.

Let me know if you try it how it turns out. Remember, when I made it, I used 1.5C of tapioca starch first and then added another .5C at the very end. I don't actually know how it will go, mixer-wise, if you do all the tapioca starch at the beginning.

I had a small piece (the size of my hand counts as small, right? Compared to the huge pan-full it yielded...) that I dipped in oil & balsamic vinegar. Very good. Very very good. The outside edges were yummy and crispy. The inside was chewy. I'm very curious as to maybe longer baking at a lower temperature would do. Or if I did less starch. Or more eggs. Thankfully Dave liked it, and tolerates not having something turn out the same way twice, since I am always experimenting.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If it's not one thing...

Well, you know.

Our car went into the shop yesterday. I was expecting a several hundred dollar repair bill. Was presented with a several thousand dollar estimate. We decided to go ahead with it. I'm now second-guessing myself, as I do with just about every major decision I make. But, it's a good solid car, and probably has another 5 to 10yrs in it now. And if we're moving to Europe in the fall, then we will most likely recoup most of the cost when we sell it.

But, the universe likes to be in balance, no? We are seeming some major positives in the last few weeks. I am hopeful that this Vitamin K therapy is moving us in the right direction. We know from Lily's blood test that she has high serum Calcium. This points us to a calcium regulation issue, which points to a K deficiency. Coupled with the oxalate issues and some other things (sensory stuff, easy bruising) it just makes sense. I should say, all of those things, plus the fact that I have a very lovey, giggly, happy, laid-back child all of a sudden (well, gradually increasing over the last few weeks), tells me we are on the right track.

I am frustrated yet about the eczema/rash issue. At a minimum, I really wish I could help her not be itchy. We have tried just about every oil & cream & herbal preparation out there. We have tried more conventional lotions & creams, in desperation, to no avail. We've tried OTC anti-histamines, which actually seem to make everything worse. We've tried high-dose vitamin C (as an anti-histamine and overall immune support). We have settled on liquid lanolin. It seems to be the only thing that helps with dryness and irritation without causing pain or a worse rash. It does not help with the underlying itching, only itching due to dryness.

We are taking lots of CLO and have plenty of nutritional support, so my hope is her body will start to heal from the inside out. I was talking to a friend the other day, and we discussed the phenomenon of people having a bodily point of weakness. For example, if I'm stressed out or ill, I will get a stomach ache and digestion issues. My friend gets headaches. Lily's skin seems to be her weak point. Perhaps I can think on that for a bit and see what we can do in general to help support healthy skin in general.
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