Thursday, August 19, 2010

Planning & organizing now...

... so we can enjoy ourselves and appreciate living in the moment later.

Over the last few days, we have been gearing up to start homeschooling with Lily after Labor Day. We got the Earthschooling kindergarten curriculum and are excited to see how that goes. Today, Aevryn and I ran errands and got most of our art and organizational supplies. A few things, like modeling beeswax and block beeswax crayons, I can only find online, so I ordered those today as well. Luckily, there is a locally-owned, online children's store that has free in-town, next day pick up.

We should be all set and organized by Monday -- just in time for out-of-town relatives to arrive at grandma & grandpa's house. :) We plan to spend the next two and a half weeks enjoying the end of summer and spending time with family. We also would like to declutter and simplify the living room, which, combined with the kitchen/dining room (and really, we have an open plan upstairs, so it's all one big room anyway), will be our primary indoor space. Lily is eager to get going, so I think we might ease into things by trying to fall into our approximate daily and weekly rhythm, and reading stories from the August curriculum during our already-establish post-lunch quiet time.

I have so many ideas and so much information just swimming around in my head. Today I finally got my binder with divider tabs and my monthly + weekly calendar inserts. I plan to print what I need for the month ahead as we go, since the guide is nearly 700 pages in its entirety and I don't need every single item in a binder. I think I will feel a lot more settled and actually prepared once I have that all assembled and ready to go.

I would also like to read The Temperaments and the Adult-Child Relationship before we get started in earnest. I have a pretty good idea of what I think Lily and Dave are, but I'm struggling to find a precise fit for me. I seem to straddle two types, which is common for me in most temperament assessments. Aevryn is just too young to type yet. Being barely 3.5, she will mostly be in tag-along mode anyway.

The girls would like to each do a class this fall. Aevryn would like to try gymnastics and Lily would like to go back to dance class, specifically pre-ballet with tap. For myself, I think I would like to take a prenatal yoga class. If I can arrange it, I'd love to have the girls have a grandma or Daddy morning once a week, while I go to yoga and then do the grocery shopping (which they
universally revile).

Finally, we hope to meet up with friends every Friday morning for "all weather" hikes. Precluding truly inclement weather, of course. I feel very fortunate to live in an area with other homeschooling families who follow a similar curriculum/philosophy.

I think the key to our success will be consistency of rhythm and mentally staying a few steps ahead of ourselves. I am going to go ahead and write out which stories & accompanying crafts & verses will go with which block of days. But, I fully expect the blocks to be interchangeable. That way, I'll be organized but flexible, which is sort of my motto in life. I'm hoping that by the time baby arrives in February or March, we'll have our daily/weekly rhythms to sustain us through the gigantic changes that will rock our house. But, that's one of the beauties of homeschooling: we can take a few weeks "off" to just adjust to our new family dynamics.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Apricot Ginger BBQ Sauce and Quick & Easy Hot Sauce

Tonight, I deep fried chicken wings (in local, pastured rendered beef tallow, yum). I really needed, NEEDED, hot sauce for mine. For the kids, I created an alternate BBQ-style sauce. Both were great hits.

Apricot Ginger BBQ Sauce

1 Tbsp apricot preserves
1/2 in section fresh ginger root, ground into a paste
pinch sea salt
dash pepper
pinch of cloves
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 C lemon juice or vinegar (we did lemon juice because Lily can't have vinegar, but I thought it was an odd flavor. The kids didn't mind and it could just be my pregnancy taste buds talking.)

1. Grind ginger and sea salt into a paste (I used a mortar & pestle).
2. Put all ingredients into a small pot and mix well.
3. Simmer over very low heat until reduced to a thick sauce.

Quick & East Hot Sauce

1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on your heat preference)
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C oil (I used palm shortening, since most "real" recipes call for butter)
a few dashes salt
pinch onion powder

1. Put everything in a small pot and stir.
2. Simmer at a very low heat until everything is melted and reduced a bit.

Old Fashioned Faux-tato Salad with Homemade Mayo

We've done cauliflower as a rice substitute, in tacos, stirfries and curry-style sauces. We've done mashed cauliflower as a mashed potato sub (turnips and/or parsnips surprisingly also mash up super tasty, as a non-nightshade, but not necessarily low-carb potato replacement). As a potluck looms on the horizon, I've been wishing we could do a nice, old-fashioned potato salad. Thus my "a ha!" moment. This recipe isn't totally safe for my low-glutamate (i.e. no pickles,) and egg-, pepper- and onion-free child, but I have an idea on how to modify a version for her.

Old Fashioned Faux-tato Salad

1 head cauliflower
4 - 6 ribs celery, minced
2 stalks green onions, minced
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 small to medium sized pickles, minced (I adore Bubbies)
1 C homemade mayo, more or less depending on how mayonnaise-y you like your salad.

1. Chop up cauliflower into cube-ish pieces (you know, about the same size you'd use if you were cutting up a potato for salad ~1in). Boil until soft. Drain and allow to cool.
2. Add celery, onions, eggs & pickles.
3. Mix with homemade mayo until evenly coated. Salt & pepper to taste. Paprika on top for finishing.
4. Serve chilled.

Homemade Mayo

1 egg
1 egg yolk (the leftover white can be used in meringues or added to omlettes)
1 cup olive oil (or sunflower or a combination)
1 tsp prepared brown mustard (we love Eden's)
1 tbsp lemon juice
good sized pinch of sea salt

In blender/food processor blend egg & yolk, mustard, sea salt, and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in oil until it firms up. It might be slightly liquidy, but it will get more solid in the fridge.

Friday, August 13, 2010

At long last, Zucchini Fries!

Have you tried making fries out of zucchini before? I have. It doesn't work. You basically get soft, slimy, deep-fried zucchini. Not really finger food and not really appetizing. So, I got to thinking. Why do potatoes make such quintessentially perfect fries? And why do sweet potatoes make an excellent substitute? Starch!

First, I cut one super large zucchini (fresh & local - hurrah summer!) into fry-length sections. Then, using my wonderful mandolin slicer, I made perfectly julienned pieces. Using a clean flour-sack style towel, I dried all the pieces and then dipped them in a bowl of arrowroot starch (about 1/2 C), mixed with sea salt & pepper. Toss the zucchini pieces in the starch until evenly coated, then shake off the excess. Do to this without making a mess and taking forever, I put them in my mesh strainer and shook it out over the sink.

A few Christmases ago my MIL got me a deep fryer. I LOVE it. However, before I got it, I would deep-fry things (in teeny batches) in my big cast iron skillet. I use rendered local, pastured beef tallow for the oil. Not only does it survive the high heat very well, it also is actually nutritious (honestly!) and has a great flavor besides. Once my fryer has reached 325*F I go ahead and drop the first batch. Small batches are key, because they WILL stick together.

Okay, here's the "secret" to yummy, crispy zucchini fries (aside from coating them in starch): you need to double-fry. The first time I fry them for 4 minutes. I shake the basket, let the grease drain and then pour out onto a cut-open paper bag (or old newspaper). While they are cooling and the excess grease is soaking into the paper, I drop another batch. When that one comes out to cool/drain, I put the first batch back in for 3 minutes. When I pour it out on to the bag again, I immediately salt (while the grease is still hot). I go back and forth between 1st drops and 2nd until everything has been fried twice.

Sort of time-consuming, sure. Hot as Hades in the middle of summer, yep. Worth it? Absolutely. But maybe only once a week. ;)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

GF Coconut-Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Oh hello. No I didn't abandon this blog. I've been prepping for homeschooling in the fall, dealing with preggo nausea, and generally enjoying summer. To make up for my absence, here's my recipe for GF coconut-banana cake with chocolate frosting. Enjoy!


1/4 C + 2 Tbsp (or 6 Tbsp) coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 C palm shortening
1/4 C maple syrup
1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 ripe banana

1. Cream maple syrup & shortening. Add eggs & vanilla.
2. Add banana either mashed or cut into thin slices. Blend well. (I use a stand mixer and it whips up beautifully.)
3. In a separate bowl, mix coconut flour, soda & salt.
4. Add dry ingredients into mixing bowl.
5. Pour into greased cake pan.
6. Bake at 375*F for roughly 30 minutes (it's done when it's browned and firm to the touch).
7. Cool completely before frosting.


1/4 C + 2 Tbsp (or 6tbsp) palm shortening
3 Tbsp maple syrup (more if you like it sweeter)
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract

1. Blend shortening & syrup. Add vanilla.
2. Add cocoa powder until smooth.
3. Once cake is cool, spread frosting evening on top & sides.

Mindfully Meandering - Free Blogger Templates, Free Wordpress Themes - by Templates para novo blogger HD TV Watch Shows Online. Unblock through myspace proxy unblock, Songs by Christian Guitar Chords