Archive for the ‘simple living’ Category

P&P plus Preparing for the end of the world

Tomorrow starts off the 10-Day Produce and Protein Challenge, hosted by Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet.  I’ve signed on, and I’ve already been tuning my mindset into the P&P idea.  Tonight’s dinner, for example, uncured sausages with tomatoes, red pepper, and zucchini, all served over kale.  Yum.  And my lunch salads will come in handy.

My plan for the 10 days is to add an egg or two to my breakfast, along with maybe some veggie, then eat a huge salad with lunch, and add more veggies than usual to dinner.  I’m cooking for myself most of the time, so it should be easy to make simple, P&P-focused meals.

Produce and protein and yum.

Of course, there is the little matter of the hurricane.

So, I’m in the path of Irene, which means I could be without power for a day or two this weekend.  My plan for that involves phases.  Phase one was going off to the store to buy jugs of water and non-perishable food.  I got Muir Glen tomatoes and Eden beans, since they’re packed in BPA-free cans.  Plus, I got a spaghetti squash and some sweet potatoes, plus a bag of mixed nuts.  Eggs can stay out of the fridge for a bit, as can the butter.  Yeah, I might not get in 4 cups of fresh produce every day for a couple days, but I can tack on some extra days at the end to make up for it.

The other part of preparing for a potential power outage is making sure to consume all the perishables, as much as I can, before the storm hits.  No, I’m not going to worry about the freezer, since it’ll stay pretty cold for a while if I don’t open it, but I am going to make sure to eat all my salad and dairy.  Which means salad and cream for breakfast today.  Maybe with some local cheese.  How’s that for a real food breakfast?

How are any other real-foodie East coasters prepping for the potentially annoying weekend?

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.


On Jewelry and Pain Support

Earlier this week and last, The Nourishing Gourmet had a giveaway of two gift certificates to a store that sells hazelwood and amber jewelry for health purposes. The idea is that the hazelwood releases compounds that help cure skin disorders and amber jewelry can release compounds that help with pain relief.

Amber bracelets

Intrigued by this idea, I shopped around and found myself some Baltic amber chips to make my own jewelry. Since I started doing yoga more regularly, specifically Ashtanga, I’ve had some trouble with pain in my right wrist. I’ve been modifying my practice and taking other lifestyle steps to heal and support my aching wrist, and I thought amber bracelets would be a good addition to this.

I had my first practice with amber this morning, after sleeping in my new bracelets last night, and I have to say that I noticed a difference. Rather than feeling like an injury, my wrist pain felt like it was due to a healing injury.

As a runner, yogi, and martial artist, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, so I’ve noticed some interesting patterns to my healing process. First, I ache. I rarely back off at this point, so eventually I end up hurting, the pain so bad it forces me to make a change to my routine. When I start to rest and take healing steps, the pain lessens, but never quite goes away. In fact, the pain never completely goes away until I start using the muscle/joint again. I have to re-introduce the exercise that hurt it in the first place in order to strengthen my body and eliminate the pain. So when I think of the healing process, I think of it as pain support, rather than pain relief, as pain is an important part of healing.

As a natural wellness practitioner and herbalist, I appreciate the importance of a holistic view of pain and injury, as well as healing.  The idea that a simple piece of jewelry, which I can make myself, could help heal and prevent pain appeals to me.  Even if the effect is a placebo, some of my pain is mental, so placebo is legitimate medicine in those cases.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Soaked, Gluten-free Zucchini-Walnut Muffins

I posted about the muffins I made this weekend on Twitter and got a request for the recipe.  While I got the basic structure of the recipe from Food Renegade, I made enough changes on my own that I’ll post my recipe.  It’s zucchini time, and I tend to go a little overboard buying them at the market.  Especially when the farmers have started selling them in bundles rather than individually.  And the little buggers last for a while in the fridge, so I felt like using up some week-or-more-old zucchini this weekend.

This is a recipe using gluten-free flours.  Since millet and sorghum are both whole grain flours, I soaked them in yogurt, water, and a splash of lime juice overnight.  Then, I added more sweet rice flour to the batter in the morning, which I did not soak, since it’s not a whole grain flour.  If you’re making this with wheat flour, you’ll probably want to soak all your wheat flour, which will make the soaked mixture thicker.  Also, moisture + time + room temperature soaking will activate gluten, so a soaked-wheat-flour version of these will have a stretchier batter.

Serve with lots of fresh butter

Zucchini-Walnut Muffins

65g sorghum flour

65g millet flour

15g ground flaxseeds

1 6-oz. container of whole-milk yogurt

2 oz. water with a splash of lime juice

2 Tbsp. ghee, at room temperature

40g honey

1 egg and 1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. salt

cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, to taste

1 tsp. baking soda

60g sweet rice flour

125g grated zucchini (about one small-to-medium)

handful of walnuts, soaked, dried, and chopped

Mix together the sorghum, millet, flax, yogurt, water, and lime juice in a container.  Allow to soak overnight.  Beat together the ghee, honey, egg, egg yolk, salt, and spices.  Add the soaked mixture, sweet rice flour, and baking soda.  Fold in zucchini and nuts.  Fill lined muffin tins with 1/3 cup of batter each and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until browned, springy, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10-15 minutes before eating with lots of butter.  Makes 10 muffins.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

A Perfect Egg

I have to say that I love a perfectly soft-boiled egg.  It’s such a treat, especially since it generally involves cooking just one egg at a time, right before eating it.  It also involves a stopwatch and a delicate ballet of preparing the rest of the meal.  Did I ever tell you about when I did ballet as a tiny child?  It did not end well.

Anyway, this is my beautiful, real, nourishing, traditional breakfast: homemade soaked-grain bread, pastured butter, yogurt with fresh, local blackberries, and one, perfect, soft-boiled egg.


To soft-boil an egg, you will need: an egg (preferably at room temperature), a pot containing enough water to cover the egg completely plus a generous grab of salt, a burner, a pin (preferably clean), a stopwatch, an implement with which to transport your egg to and from the boiling water, and a final resting place for your egg.  A shot glass works amazingly well, though I used an adorable Vietnamese tea cup that my sister gave me as a gift.

Poke your egg with a pin.  Not just anywhere, but rather on the big end of the egg.  The purpose is to pierce the air sac in the white to allow expanding hot air to escape, or something like that.  Boil your salted water.  When it’s boiling, reduce the heat to hearty simmer and lower your egg into the water.  Start your stopwatch.  After 5 minutes, remove your egg and run it under cold water for a few seconds, until it is cool enough to handle.  Place in final destination.

Smack it on one end (I’m a big-ender) and peel back the shell to get at the gooey, golden, amazing treasure within.  Savor that first plunge of spoon into egg.  Dip pointed triangles of buttered toast into the yolk.  Spoon up jiggling blobs of egg onto the toast.  I suppose bacon would work as well, if you don’t do bread.  Scrape the last remnants of egg from the shell and survey the carnage.

Kind of like that.

It is absolutely possible to adapt this recipe to make more than one egg, though you might want to wait until after adding your eggs to lower the burner heat to give the water a chance to return to a boil/simmer.  Also, you will have to be quite swift and remember which egg went in first so you can take them out in the order they went in to avoid over/under-cooking.

If you’re having toast and yogurt and such with your egg, make the toast while the egg cooks.  Unless you know your toaster takes longer than 5 minutes to toast.

Also, check out my new tumblelog, A Little Wild.  It’s a place where I can share mostly random pictures, and maybe other random, food- and wild-life-related tidbits.  Mostly pictures right now.  I’ll be sharing a few random things from Rome over the next week or so.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Homemade Healthy Bread

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that my husband is the master breadmaker of the two of us.  I just don’t have the patience needed to deal with bread, most of the time.  But I love homemade bread.  And with the renewed vigor of my commitment to traditional food preparations, I thought I’d try to make my own loaf of bread to eat this week.  Because eating healthy just isn’t as bad when there are bread-and-butter sandwiches involved.

I used a recipe I got from Passionate Homemaking for soaked whole grain bread, cut it down to my needs, and made a couple of tweaks.  I’m going to post the entire process as I experienced it, even though I’ve linked the recipe, since the original recipe is for 4 loaves of bread and plenty of people commented wanting to know how to make less.

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread

Soaked grain mixture:

2-3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup yogurt

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oats

2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds

2 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. melted ghee

The day before you want bread, mix these together.  It’ll take some doing, as there isn’t a whole lot of moisture here, but it should eventually come together into a kind of dry scone-like dough.  Cover tightly and leave out at room temperature for 12-24 hours (I did 18).

Yeasty stuff:

2 tsp. yeast

3 Tbsp. warm water

dab of honey (maybe 1/2 tsp.?)

Mix this together and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until it gets foamy and alive-looking.  Then add this, along with 2 tsp. salt (I use Real Salt) to the dry soaked grain mixture.  This will eventually come together into a goopy dough.  Add some white or sprouted flour to get into a soft, cohesive mass.  Knead more flour into it as you knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until it becomes somewhat smooth and beautiful (the oats and flax will mar the smoothness just a bit).  It should feel bouncy.

Retire this lovely lump of dough to a greased-up bowl, rub the top with some of your greasing medium (I used softened ghee), and cover with a damp towel for an hour and a half to rise.  It’ll double in size.  Then, punch it, flip it, and let it rise again for 45 minutes.

Then, form it into a loaf and put it on it’s final baking destination (I used a 5×9″ loaf pan that was greased and floured) and cover with your damp towel to rise again for 30-45 minutes, or just until doubled in size.  About 10 minutes before you want to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut a slit in your loaf to control where the crust will crack while baking.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees and the loaf is browned and gorgeous.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out and cool on a wire rack.  Let it cool for a combined 20 minutes, at least, before slicing.  Grit your teeth because you’ve been smelling fresh bread for the last hour.  Then, slice off the heel, slather in good quality butter, maybe some honey or jam, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  If you want to keep it longer than a couple days, I recommend slicing it up and freezing it in parchment and aluminum foil.

Makes one loaf.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Sunday Without Salutation

Started my day with what was supposed to be a long Sunday practice, only my wrist has been getting progressively more painful when I try to put weight on it. So no Surya Namaskar OR linking vinyasas the entire time. It felt weird. But I worked through the Primary series after completing a slow standing series, getting up through Navasana. I’ll add Bhujapidasana when my wrist feels better, I think.

But first, I set up a loaf of Passionate Homemaking’s soaked whole grain bread up to rise. I had mixed up the flour and wet stuff yesterday to soak for about 18 hours, so I just had to proof the yeast and add it. It’s a beautiful dough, if funny-feeling due to the oats and flax in it. My only changes to the recipe were that I didn’t add millet (but increased the flax to compensate) and I cut the amount of honey in half. Honestly, 1/4 cup of honey per loaf sounded like way too much sweetener for me. If it works, I might post my recipe, if only because it gives a cut-down recipe that makes just one loaf.

Really, it’s in the oven right now and it looks and smells just amazing.  Fresh, healthy, homemade bread for my breakfasts and lunches this week!

The rest of the day will be taken up with going to the markets and then attending a baby shower party/cookout, for which I’m making a big tossed salad with homemade citrus dressing.  Then, soup for dinner.

One $20 Chicken, So Much Bounty

This post is a bit late coming, but I wanted to share my adventures with local, pastured chicken. I got to the market on Sunday and knew I wanted a chicken from Lynne Ferguson, so I sent my husband to get extra cash. There she was, setting up her stand, with a hand-written sign that declared “Fresh Killed Chickens.” Yes.

Me: “Hey, are all your chickens spoken for or could I buy one?”

Lynne: “Yeah, they’re running about 4-6 pounds so let me know how big of one you want.”

Me: “Well, it’s just the two of us, so how about closer to 4 pounds?”

Husband showed up with money and we got ourselves a chicken.  Little over 4 pounds, $16.50.  Squishy and slightly bloody.  It was on.

I made roast chicken for Sunday dinner, served up both leg quarters to my husband and ate a wing and a breast myself.  Sauteed leeks in the chicken-y, fatty drippings until they were melty and yielding and spread that over my chicken, all on a bed of fresh steamed kale.  Heaven.

The fun part.

Then, the fun part.  Picking the carcass and loading all the bones into the crock pot and setting it to simmer away for over 24 hours.  Oh ye gods, the smells coming from that pot were excruciating.

I got 2 quart-sized containers of golden, amazing broth from that bird, along with a bit more, about 1-2 cups, which I used in my Tuesday night, post-climbing chicken stew, along with the rest of the chicken meat.  A hearty dinner, if I do say so.  The rest went into the freezer, where it will yield at least 2 more meals, if I just make soup, and could stretch to up to 4 meals if I don’t use all 4 cups in each container at once.  I have a feeling they will be soup, though.  Soup is my favorite impromptu meal.

All told, I got 2 hearty meals for two, plus 2 quarts of broth in storage for $16.50.  No, it’s not an oven-stuffer-roaster, but it’s such better quality.

Oh, and I stuck the liver in the freezer instead of throwing it in with the broth like I did the heart and neck.  Mmmm… I’ll have myself a treat one day when I fry that up with some onions and maybe some bread and butter.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.