Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Homemade Sprouted Millet Flour and Roti

In my efforts at watching our grains, and trying to make everything either sprouted or soaked, I've been experimenting with lots of new recipes and foods. I decided to try my hand at sprouting grains, but couldn't find anything at our local grocery- except for millet. Yes, I mean the birdseed. At least that's what I always thought it was, so imagine my surprise to learn it is a very viable food product.
I decided to try sprouting it first, and followed these instructions from http://www.sproutpeople.com/. Their information is very useful and easy to follow.

After sprouting, I dried the millet and ground it into flour. See this post for some pictures of the process that are much better than mine!

When looking for a simple recipe to use the flour, I came across this one for Roti- a traditional Indian flatbread. It worked quite well, and I enjoyed it. I would say they most reminded me of cornbread- the flavor was similar and sweet, and the texture was also coarse (although I confess to using a small coffee grinder- we don't have room for a grain mill in the budget just yet.) I think this would make good crackers- next time I'll try baking it and see how it turns out.

So far, I'm loving trying the new way of preparing grains for optimum health. Last night I made soaked pasta which turned out well- recipe tomorrow. Also, come back later this week for more on the why of properly using grains and how to get started.
I am happy to post this at Tuesday Twister and Real Food Wednesday- check out all the great ideas!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Start Your Household Binder

This post is timely for me this week. It always seems that just when you think you're actually caught up with housework, something throws a wrench in the plans. For me, these unexpected events are why having a plan for your household is so important. Even the best of plans are useless, however, if you can't find your weekly schedule, or remember what need to buy to make dinner tomorrow night.

Basically, a household binder is a to-go place, an area to keep all of the lists, schedules, etc. that you need to keep your home running smoothly. See Flylady's control journal for more information on exactly what you could be adding to your binder. Everyone has different things in theirs, here is an index of mine:

  • Planning
  • Home Management
  • Meals/ Menus
  • Family Info
  • Travel/ Activities
  • Finances

Under planning I have my daily, weekly, and monthly schedules and lists, my calendar, detailed systems list, goal lists. Home management has mostly party/ holiday notes, including menu ideas/ notes, and gift ideas. Meals and menus includes our family's favorite meals, and a list of easy meals, which I can turn to when making my weekly menu plans. I also have information on nutrition here, and clippings of recipes I want to try. I keep the clippings in plastic sheet covers that are in the back of each section. They just go right in the binder rings, and are a great place to keep loose papers (for instance, in the Home Management section I put upcoming birthday and holiday cards that are signed and ready, so I don't lose them!) Family info has such things as a master phone number list, and sections for my work and schooling (when the kids start school in a few years, this section will be larger as I add in their things here.) Travel and activities has a master packing list for when we go on vacations, and directions to places we travel to alot, like my sister's. Finally, finances holds our budgets, and information for rebates. In the sheet covers for this section I sometimes keep my coupons until they go into my containers.

Our next posts will feature in-depth details for how to start creating, and fleshing out, your schedules and to-do lists. Right now might be a good time to start a binder if you don't have one, though, because you'll need somewhere to put these papers once you make them. A note: although I am not one of them, many people like to have everything electronic. If you prefer this, I would suggest you try to create your binder on your computer (but please don't ask me for help, I barely just get along with technology and like to see everything in front of me in hard copy!) Here are some ideas to get you started on your own binder:

  1. Go over any papers, schedules, to-do lists, etc. you have currently. This will give you some idea of what sections you will need in your binder.
  2. Just start it- taking more action is a goal here- one end result of your binder is that it will allow you to work on auto-pilot. You won't spend all your time wondering what to do next, so let's try to stop that right now. Just find an old binder, or even a blank notebook to start.
  3. Begin with the sections, what topics are most important for your household? Work on these first. Try to keep them fairly general, if you make them to distinct you'll have 25 different sections.
  4. Work on putting any notes, papers etc. that you already have into your binder before making new ones. You might be surprised how much you have, and you won't be creating unnecessary duplicates (otherwise known as clutter!)
I hope this helps you to think about starting your own household binder. Over the next week I'll be sharing details on how to set up your schedules and task lists, and work them into your life. If you have any tips to share, please comment, and let me know if I can link to your information.
I am happy to post this at Homemaker Mondays, and at Works For Me Wednesday, be sure to stop by for great tips and posts.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Soaked Pie Crust recipe

I was worried about this, but it was actually super simple, and came out flaky and yummy!

makes enough for 1 - 9 in. crust and 1 top, or 2 crusts, or about 14 - 4 in. rounds for turnovers

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teas. salt
3/4 teas. sugar

Mix together

1/4 oil or melted butter
1/2 cold butter or lard, cut in slices or chunks

Stir the flour mixture and oil in a large bowl together. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork and knife, combining the butter until the pieces are small and mostly uniform or "pea-sized."

2 Tablespoons cultured yogurt or buttermilk
5-6 Tablespoons ice water

Mix together. Add into flour and butter mixture, combining until it makes a dough. If you do not wish to incorporate soaking, put the dough into the fridge for 1 hour, then roll out as desired.
To soak dough, leave out for 8-12 hours, in a cool area (preferably 50-68 degrees.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to overnight. Roll out and use as desired.
This dough is fairly forgiving, but over manipulation when rolling or cutting will make the dough less flaky. Try to work the dough as little as possible. Use lots of flour for rolling out (a good use for sprouted flour) and try to roll onto waxed/ parchment paper. You may then fold over in half, and place into the pie plate to minimize cracking. See this post for a helpful tutorial with pictures. I am happy to post this at Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

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Weekly Menu Plan

Since I decided to live off our stockpiled pantry and freezer this week, I've really enjoyed the space it's created. So, I've decided to go for another week. I'll only be buying some fresh produce.

Saturday B: blender pancakes
D: Mock Tamale Pie
tasks: soak/cook polenta, soak flour for coffee cake, zucchini bread, make crackers, pickles

Sunday B: soaked Coffee Cake
L: Tacos w/ fresh salsa
D: Pasta Primavera
tasks: soak noodle dough, make salsa, soak grains for week, make bread, defrost chicken

M: Minestrone
tasks: make jerky, dry grains
T: Chicken Cacciatore w/ garlic bread
tasks: grind flour
W: Veggie Quiche
tasks: kombucha, repot herbs inside
Th: Chicken-fried Steak w/ gravy
tasks: soak oats for granola
F: Chili and green salad
tasks: soak flour for weekend baking, bake sourdough, pie crusts

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back from Vacation 2 ... and I was sick

So, the lesson is : do not go visit sick people, while travelling with a sick person. You will pick it up, and yes indeed, you will become sick yourself.
Fortunately, I have been eating well, and the version of this cold that I received was very light. Unfortunately, I am prone to headaches, and every cold I come in contact with is accompanied by splitting sinus pressure. I spent a day and a half trying to pry myself off the sofa just long enough to feed Big Boy, and myself. Thank goodness for Mr. Shelley, who came home an hour early yesterday so I could catch a nap before dinner.
Today has been a flurry of housekeeping, schoolwork, and catching up on mail and calls. I plan to catch up here by Saturday, so keep checking in as I try to get everything posted and up-to-date. Thank you all for bearing with me, and remember- ask your hosts if they've been blowing their noses lately before you go, and save yourself a lot of trouble.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back from Vacation

Ahh, back from my weekend away. I love visiting with my sister, but always forget how out of my element I feel when not at home. I remember years ago, (before the babies!) when I couldn't wait to get away, every chance I had. Travelling all the time- I just lived for it. Now, even a few days seems like forever. The kids and I all missed DH (stayed home to do fixing up work on the house) and I just never seem to realize how much I love having everything in the place I set for it until I'm wandering around in someone else's system.
I spent all of my time just relaxing, though, which was a good change of pace for me. I decided to blow off menu planning, as I didn't go to the store on grocery day anyway. Later today I will put up my weekly plan, using our pantry/ freezer stockpile. I admit to completely forgetting about my planned post on flavored vinegars, and do apologize for this oversight. Babies who just learned to walk (my darling nephew) can be too distracting- I love how when they lose their footing, they just plop right on their bottoms. Adorable! I hope to have this post up later today also, but it will definitely be on for tomorrow if not. More things to look forward to:
  • Sourdough bread recipe
  • Kombucha post (if the weather warms up a bit!)
  • a belated post on a local healthy food event
  • DOC Household Binder tips
  • Soaked Pie Crust recipe- yay! It worked- flaky and delicious

I also hope to get to a bit of the updates on my own personal changes that have been going on here. I have gone back and forth (over-analytical, much) trying to decide how much is too much to share. I'm not someone who talks about their personal life, at all, really- so this is a new experience for me. I am so inspired by all of my favorite ladies out there who really bare their souls, though, and will try my best to share with all of you a bit of what has led me to where I am today. For today, though, I'll stick with the cooking!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Organizing with Systems

Decluttering, Organizing and Cleaning: Using Systems to Simplify

How can you make more time for yourself, and get more done in the time you have? Systems, long used in the business world, are the answer to every at-home parents' needs.

With a good system in place, all of the day-to-day tasks are set according to your needs. How do you set up your own system management? First, make sure you're focused on what is most important to you and your family. Like many, time is my biggest concern, but the general sense of peace and well-being of my family is also a vital role. Here are some steps I followed to set up our systems:

  1. A main household system should encompass all the other systems within it. My time schedule is set up for AM/PM tasks, tasks for each separate day, weekly tasks, and monthly tasks. It sounds like alot, but these all came from my main schedule. For a basic idea of how to start this, visit Flylady. Start with a list of what needs to be accomplished each day- this is helpful for cooking, (especially NT style) and can be adjusted to come up with all of your daily to-dos.
  2. Another aspect of the household system is a basic idea of how you will organize different areas. Paperwork systems are vital- loose mail, handouts from school, etc. are one of the biggest clutter-causes in any house. Luckily, there's great ideas on how to manage your paper issues.
  3. For me, one of the most important things in a household system is a way to fit in housekeeping (my nemesis of homemaking.) I've fit this into my weekly schedule by committing an individual day for each part of my housekeeping plan. The best way for you is whatever works best for you, taking into consideration the time you have, and all of your other responsibilities. More on this soon, in my upcoming time schedule.
  4. Lastly, a system should be flexible. Dusting and window washing on Tuesdays (yes, that's on my schedule) is great, but what happens if you are on vacation, or get sick? Is there a back-up plan built in, or will the task just get swept under the rug? (no pun intended) A good plan has room for the unexpected- which is the one thing any at-home parent can definitively expect!

I hope these basic tips give you an idea of how important systems can be. They can make your tasks run almost on auto-pilot once they're set up, giving you the time (and concentration!) to spend on the important things in life. Next week's post will be on the beginning of setting up your own household binder. This will contain your own systems and schedules, which I'll post on during the last week of September. Remember to join with google or subscribe so you don't miss these, or any other, upcoming posts. Have any of your own tips to share?

Time Management

UPDATE- it's done! Find the first post- how to create your weekly schedule- HERE
Clueless and need help making to-do lists that actually get done? I was there...

Organizing your time- time scheduling

coming soon- Sept. 30!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kitchen Updates

So today I'll be trying out my sourdough- I can't wait! It's been doubling nicely for over a week now. I followed these instructions- so detailed and easy. I'll tell you how the baking goes after I'm all done tomorrow- keeping our fingers crossed as I'm not always the baking queen here. As that goes, my promised recipe for yesterday is on hold. My zucchini bread came out a bit dense, and just kinda strange- I guess I'm not really adept at the soaking yet. Some of my recipes have converted really well, and others, not so much. So it's back to the testing phase. Once I get all the kinks worked out, I will share. Until then, my granola turned out, so you can visit that recipe if you like. Hopefully there will be more soaked/ sprouted recipes joining in soon.

Soaked Granola

UPDATE- a new recipe variation for apple cinnamon flavor!

I've always loved granola, and was so sure it was good for me. Imagine how upset I was to find that this wasn't the case. Luckily, there's some great soaked recipes out there, so I went about revamping them a bit to come up with one I really like.

Soaked Granola

2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups water
4 tablespoons yogurt, cultured buttermilk, kefir *
1/4 cup wheat flour
Combine these ingredients and soak for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup dried fruit (raisins, cherries, apricots etc.)
1 1/3 cup "crispy" nuts and seeds **
Mix above ingredients into the soaked oat mixture.

Variation- Apple Cinnamon Granola
1/3 cup coconut or crispy nuts
1 cup dried apples, cut into medium chunks
1/4 cup melted coconut oil, or 1/8 cup ea. coconut oil and olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
1/2-3/4 cup natural sweetener (honey, maple syrup, palm sugar, agave)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients and pour over oat mixture, stir thoroughly.

Variation- Apple Cinnamon
To above ingredients, add in 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Spread granola mixture on lined baking sheets or dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 150 degrees F
or bake at your oven's lowest temperature. Depending on your method and how thinly you spread your granola, it will be dry in 4-24 hours.

* To make this dairy free, try reducing acid medium to 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. I used vinegar the first time I made this and it was just fine, you might need to alter the amount of sweetener to your taste.
** "Crispy" seeds/nuts as per NT- I soaked for 8-12 hours then dried them

The different options allow you to change the recipe around as you like. One of my favorite combinations is dried apricot and papaya, with almonds or peanuts and sunflower seeds. Really yummy with the coconut. Sometimes, when it's dried, I add chocolate chips (don't tell on me!) This is really flexible, so play around to find out what your family likes best.
I am happy to post this at Pennywise Platter Thursday- lots of yummy things!
Also, posted at Real Food Wednesdays - check out all the great ideas!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Cooking Experiments... so far

Well, it's been an exciting start to the week. I've always loved trying new foods, and the cooking experiments I have started seem to be going (mostly) quite well. I'll be posting updates this week, but wanted to share a beginning look at what's happening in my kitchen.

  • Soaking flour for zucchini bread- testing a new recipe out for Orange Chocolate- yummy
  • Pie Crusts NT Style- keeping my fingers crossed on this one! Promised Big Boy apple pie weeks ago, finally getting around to it.
  • Soaking oats for granola- going to adapt these recipes. Don't they look good?
  • Coconut Chocolate Ice Cream- postponed until I soak some nuts to go in.
  • Starting my own kombucha scoby- really excited about this! I love this stuff.

That's about it for today- thank goodness! Check back tomorrow for more updates and a recipe.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Meal Planning- Weekly Menu

It's been about a week since I started our new cooking venture (mostly SOLE, trying some NT) and it's been both more simple and more difficult than I would have imagined. I hope to share much more detail over this week. Friday's menu planning went off this week- I didn't get the weekly circulars to plan, so I went into the store with only a basic idea of what I was going to be buying. I decided to switch my offline day to Saturday (yesterday, instead of today) because of local festivals. (though I'll be offline most of today too- hopefully the weather holds up and it stays nice out. This week I had (yet another!) great deal on natural grass-fed beef loin (3.99 lb.)

I'm going to start including some of my daily cooking tasks on this plan for each day
Sat B: soaked blender pancakes (recipe to come)
L: at festival- hot dogs (imagine the nitrates- yikes) with sauerkraut (store-bought, for sure)
D: grilled steaks (from loin), grilled zucchini and onions with garlic vinaigrette
tasks: prep produce from farmer's market, feed sourdough (started last week), pickle eggs

Sun: B: bacon (all natural, no nitrates), zucchini and carrot bread
L: pig roast- yummy!
D: salad w/ farmer's market ingredients (inc. huge basket of heirloom tomatoes), pickled eggs
tasks: sourdough, make pie crusts, grind flour, pickle green beans

M: steak quesadillas (loin) w/ homemade tortillas
tasks: sourdough, soak tortillas, make pies, ice cream, zucchini bread
T: meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy
tasks: sourdough, grocery shopping, start sprouted grains
W: smoked salmon, pickled veggies
tasks: start kombucha, make sourdough bread, brine salmon, dry grains
Th: pot roast w/ veggies
tasks: clean refrigerator, make tomato sauce, start pickles, dry grains
F: Cobb Salad
tasks: grind flour, start homemade flavored vinegars, soak flour for pancakes tomorrow

Depending on how my experiments work out, I hope to be sharing lots of recipes this week, and some ideas on non-smoker smoking on Wed. (did not work last week!) and on vinegars Friday.
Hopefully my sourdough comes out, I've never tried it before with an authentic recipe (no yeast) and am very excited about it. Leave a comment if you have any tips or questions for me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Patriot Day

In remembrance of 9/11

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SOLE Food Frugally

Since deciding to incorporate more SOLE food (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) in our cooking, I have struggled with the knowledge that it can be more expensive. Eating healthy can be cheaper than conventionally, especially when it means you're cutting out processed/ packaged *food.* However, making the change to good meats, fresh raw dairy products, and the like, can quickly break the bank unless you're careful. Here are some of my tips on how we are transitioning, with links to some great sites who know so much more than me!

  1. Consider a local CSA for your produce, or even meats, dairy products, etc. If your area doesn't have CSAs, you might still be able to buy these foods straight from local farms, or at farmer's markets. Buying from the farms is not only local (obviously!) and more sustainable, but often much more frugal than trying to find these foods at a regular grocery store. Buying meat in bulk can really save money, and some farms offer plans where you pay a bit every month during the spring and summer for meat butchered in the fall.
  2. Smart shopping- decide what is most important for your family, and splurge on these items (often meat and dairy.) Try to save money on other items, paying as little as possible and stocking up when you find a good price on an item (such as buying whole grain flours and baking supplies around Christmas and other baking seasons.) Also, try to buy local produce in season- it's not only cheaper, but it tastes better too.
  3. DIY- make as many foods as you can at home. Baked goods are easy, and not too time-consuming once you are accustomed to them. Again, this will not just save money, but will also result in healthier foods for your family. If you don't already, definitely start gardening- there is nothing more fulfilling than cooking with vegetables that you grew yourself. This is a great way to bring kids on board.

How do you save money and still provide healthy food for your family?

I am happy to post this at Pennywise Platter Thursday- check it out for more great posts on frugal and fantastic healthy food!

This post is also at Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday- chock full of great posts on real food!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cobb Salad Reinvented

I love Cobb Salad- avocado, bacon, blue cheese- everything about it! The problem for many people is its' high fat content. Now, if you follow the NT/WAPF* ideas you'll be less concerned about this, as you'll know that saturated fat, especially the good kind, isn't really the issue we once thought it was. Even so, this classic could definitely use an update, so here goes mine...

New Cobb Salad

2 hearts of romaine or 1 head of bibb, chopped


2 fresh tomatoes, preferably heirloom, chopped

1 avocado, sliced thinly

1/2 cup cooked and diced chicken breast

2 hard cooked eggs, chopped

3-4 strips cooked bacon, preferably nitrate-free, crumbled


2-3 oz. crumbled blue cheese

1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 tablespoons yogurt with enough milk to make 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves roasted garlic, smashed, optional

2 tablespoons chopped chives, or scallions, optional

To make dressing, just mix all ingredients together.

This is pretty easy, since all of your ingredients will be prepped as above (which is not required but a traditional Cobb Salad is a "chopped salad" and I love all my salads like this anyway!) Simply plate your lettuce greens, dress, and add the toppings- usually in separate mounds or rows- over the greens. (I admit that I prefer the toppings mixed myself, though it isn't an original presentation.) Drizzle with more dressing and serve.

This is such an easy salad, and with all of the protein can be a main dish for any meal. Do you have any favorite salad recipes? Please share- I'd love to see them!

*Nourishing Traditions/ Weston A. Price

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SOLE and Traditional foods

SOLE food- Sustainable Organic Local Ethical
I want my food to be as close as possible to the source. I want my food to look how it did originally. Also important:
Traditional Food- food the way it used to be
"If your grandmother wouldn't recognize it- don't eat it!"
Butter, lard, bacon fat, yum yum!
Stay away from refined sugar/ starches, and get rid of the fake oils and such. Eat


Broth and Breaking Down a Turkey

If you've been reading lately, you know I've started to incorporate SOLE food into my cooking plans. I've been inspired by many great blogs* and am really excited to share my journey with you. Some of the things I've been including lately are homemade broths, which I've done often in the past. For the first time this past week, I made a broth from the parts after I broke down a great organic whole turkey breast that included the wings. I was wary about this, but it was so much easier than I expected. I used the indispensable Fannie Farmer Cookbook (affiliate alert!- but you can get this in many libraries also :) Basically you just wiggle the wings with your knife in the joint, until they break off. Then, it's just a matter of "carving" the breasts of the bones.
Here's the finished breasts (far right) and some smaller cutlets (middle.) I made the stock with the remainder, and took the wings and leftover meat out early (so they wouldn't be overdone) to make "chicken" salad with- DH loves it for lunch.

* great sites: Food Renegade Kelly the Kitchen Kop Cheeseslave

I am pleased to list this post at another fantastic site, GNOWFGLINS, for Tuesday Twister- check it out for other great ideas!

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Buttermilk Muffin Recipe

I apologize for letting this one get away from me- this weekend was busy, and I waited until the last moment to finish my schoolwork this week. I talked about how things will always fall through the cracks: this week it was this post. I hope I didn't leave anyone hanging...

Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffin Recipe (adapted from Fannie Farmer Irish Oatmeal Muffins)

2 cups buttermilk
1 cup oats
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon oil or melted butter
1 2/3 cup whole grain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Combine the buttermilk and the oats in a bowl, and refrigerate at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare muffin pans. Beat the eggs in a bowl, add in the honey and molasses, mix together. Add in the oat mixture, and stir well. Add in flour, soda, salt and stir lightly until combined- do not overbeat.
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with your batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and the crumb inside is finished (toothpick check.) Cool on a rack, serve. (I eat mine hot, split open with more butter ;) but they do hold together better if you wait.)

This is a recipe adapted from Fannie Farmer, I think the idea of soaking the oats works well into my new cooking philosophy for grains. I'll have more on this coming up later today, or check out some of these great links:

Food Renegade How to Eat Grains
Natural News The Whole Grain Scam
Kelly The Kitchen Kop Grains & Nuts- Healthy Preparation
Nourishing Gourmet Soaking Grains

I am happy to post this at Homemaker Mondays- be sure to visit for more great ideas!
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekly Menu Planning

This week will begin a concentrated effort towards my new philosophy: SOLE food
(Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) see this post for more on my changes.
This week's menu is based around natural beef tenderloin, and local produce including squash, beans, corn, and heirloom tomatoes (so yummy).

Sat B: Scrambled eggs, home fries
L: BLT's
D: BBQ at a friend's house- I'm bringing my panzanella

Sun B: buttermilk oatmeal muffins- recipe tomorrow!
L: turkey corn soup
D:grilled steaks and zucchini

Mon: crock pot meal "Pot Roast"
Tues: Cobb Salad reinvented- recipe
Wed: Beef and Vegetable Shish Kabobs
Thurs: Clean out Refrigerator day - "Burgundy Beef"- beef, mushrooms, onions and wine gravy
Fri: Meatless Day- Homemade Smoked Salmon, green bean salad and grilled tomatoes

This is only a baby step to my goal of SOLE eating. Local and organic is the most difficult for me, but I am trying to incorporate this as best I can. Please join me this next week as I share why I started this new journey, and how I will fit it into my life (on the time restraints and economical challenges of eating SOLE.) I will be addressing this in some of my upcoming posts.
Be sure to come back tomorrow and Tuesday for recipes, and on Friday for my "smoking without a smoker" post.

I am happy to link to Fight Back Fridays on Food Renegrade for the first time. Visit this site for lots of great posts and information!
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Why You Can't Balance Family and Work Time

This week I will be skipping Fun Food Friday (will return next week) to write more about balancing family time with other responsibilities. I feel that this topic has become even more important in my personal life recently. In addition to starting this blog, I have also re-entered school again, and am of course still at home full time with my children.
Everyone is talking about time management, and finding balance between work and family. Can you really have balance between the two? Well, the answer is no- of course not! Now,before you hate me, please continue reading. Balance is impossible- because you can not split your time equally between family and work, and other responsibilities. Are you going to keep a scorecard, accounting for each minute in your day? Furthermore, the two should not be equal. Most of you reading are at-home parents, you will obviously spend more time with your children, that's why you are at home. Even parents who work outside the home are likely at home more hours every day than they are at work, much of this time is just spent sleeping ;) at night.
The desire to find balance is less about time and more about feeling like we have given our best everywhere we could. Drumroll, please... also impossible! We cannot give 100% to everyone, all the time. Find out what your priorities are and allot your time accordingly. There's so much information on this, I won't add to it (right now, anyway) and you can probably figure it out on your own, or go hunt down some help. The point is to give your time and energy where it is needed most.
Especially for at-home moms and dads, finding time to accomplish even the most basic duties can be difficult. Here are some tips:
  1. Find lost time. This one is basic- go through your day, and re-evaluate how you spend your time. Do you wait around at the doctor's office, flipping through a magazine? Maybe you can bring your home binder, and set up next week's schedule, or start some blog posts. Do you have to watch all the TV you currently do? Can you cut out one show, or watch it while doing housework, such as folding laundry, dusting, or picking up the living room? This tip is easy, and you'd be surprised how many hours a week you can pick up.
  2. Set up time schedules. It's hard when you stay at home with kids, even more so when they're younger. Toddlers are not known for leaving mommy alone so she can get her work done. Children do need to learn how to entertain themselves eventually, so why not start now? Establish a set time when the children play alone (with you watching, of course!) and use this time to check something of your list. Even carving out a 15 minute period can make a difference. Work out a daily schedule, and include time with your kids, partner, and solo time. (More on time systems next week.)
  3. Keep it in perspective. You don't have to do everything. Keep asking- in a few years, what will I remember? Will it be important that the house was always clean, or that I posted to my blog every day? Maybe, you'd rather remember the time your kids picked up their first frog outside, or your monthly date night with your husband. I know which is more important to me! There's nothing wrong with a clean house, in fact, keeping your home is important for the sanity and serenity of your family. But your family is the most important thing. I personally cook a homemade dinner almost every night- that's what is important for me- but again, you need to find your priorities. I take Sundays for an offline day, it's just for spending time with my family and friends. Take a little time today to figure out how you want to spend your time, and make a plan for it.

If this post inspired you, please leave some comments, or your own time tips.

This post is linked to Family Friday at HomeEverAfter

Finer Things Friday at Amy's Finer Things in Life

Hooked on Fridays at Hooked on Houses.

visit for more great posts!

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3 Best Organizing Tips

The next post in DOC was to be on systems, but I felt like the decluttering post last week wasn't enough, and I wanted to share some more specific tips with all of you- if they helped me just imagine what they could do for you!

  1. Paperwork- it's called an action file, I think it came originally from one of those organizing TV shows. Get a standing file holder, or something that will fit 4-5 files about the same. (link to amazon, so you can see what I mean. and yes, it's an affiliate link.) Label files thusly: ASAP- immediate action required (bills, RSVP's, permission slips, etc.) To Be Filed- papers to keep that don't fit into above. I have others, these should be changed to subjects that suit your needs. Mine are return to office, for things that need to go away but not necessarily be filed (pictures, child artwork, etc.) and coupons/rebates (so the inserts have a place to live until I clip them!) Figure out where your paper clutter comes from.

  2. Use drop areas. This is similar to the baskets I talked about last week. Others call them prep zones, drop zones. The basic idea- make a dedicated area for each family member. If needed, this could include basket/containers, a hook (for backpacks, purses) or it could be as simple as a shelf. Everything the person uses (phone, keys, homework, briefcase, you get the idea) goes in their area. This way everyone knows where their stuff is, and when its left laying around it has a place to go home to.
  3. Can't get started with organizing and cleaning? Company coming over? (oh, no! I have been there.) Try this trick: pick the largest horizontal surface in the room, and put the things on it away, and dust it off. In the dining room, the table; the kitchen, the counters; you get it. The eye goes towards these surfaces automatically, and keeping them decluttered and clean*ish* can make the whole room look better.

I hope these ideas can get you started. Please comment or share your links if you have any tips of your own.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pancake Recipe

Here is the promised recipe: pancakes that are simple, fluffy, and delicious. Make extra dry ingredients mix, and never use *bisquick* again!

1 Recipe

dry ingredients (see below for multiplied amounts)

1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

wet ingredients

1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk- 1 1/2 teas. vinegar, and add milk to make 1 cup. Let sit 15 min. )
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
1 egg, beaten

Add together all of the dry ingredients, sifting if desired. Blend together the wet ingredients well, and add the dry in, stirring to combine. I let this sit for 10-15 minutes, but you can make the pancakes right away. Make blueberry (or other fruit) variation by adding 1/2 cup fruit to batter.

Multiplied recipe (mix may be stored for 4-6 months as you would flour)

4X recipe

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (or 4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

To make one recipe, scoop out 1 heaping cup + 1 heaping tablespoon, and mix with the wet ingredients in proportions as listed above. The original recipe makes about 6 pancakes, depending on size.

Hope you all enjoy this recipe. Check in tomorrow for some updates, and the next post in the DOC series.


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