Saturday, February 28, 2009

If you give me two gallons of fresh farm milk...


I will make...

Yogurt

1. Sterilize a quart-size mason jar.
2. Place milk into the jar and place the jar into a pot of water on the stove.
3. Heat the milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Put the hot pan in the sink and slowly start adding cold water to the hot.
5. Cool the milk to around 100 degrees F.
6. Add two tablespoons of fresh plain yogurt or a packet of yogurt starter.
7. Fill up a crock pot with hot water from the tap and turn it on Low or Keep Warm.
8. Keep the yogurt at 105-110 degrees for 4-4 1/2 hours.
9. Cover and put in the fridge to cool.

I keep a thermometer in the water and one in the yogurt while it's culturing. Sometimes I need to turn off the crock pot for a while to keep it from overheating. It's worse if you get it too hot than if it cools off.

Allow yogurt to cool in the firdge overnight. You can add flavoring vanilla, sugar, maple syrup, honey, frozen fruit or what ever suits your fancy. I use it for pancakes and in place of sour cream.

Cultured Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups yogurt, buttermilk or kefir

Soak flour and yogurt 6-8 hours. The live yogurt will help break down the flour and release more nutrition. You can leave it on the counter or put it in the fridge.

2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Flavoring- vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, be creative

Mix the rest of the ingredients with the flour and yogurt and cook on a warm griddle. Thin the batter with left over butter milk. They take a little longer to cook then other pancakes. I make a large batch and freeze them for the boys. It's a great on-the-go snack for Amanda, too.

Yogurt Cheese

1 cup of yogurt
1 dash or so of salt

Mix yogurt and salt.
Line a large strainer with cheese cloth or Bounty white paper towel.
Place in the fridge and let the whey drain out. It may require some pressing. The result is a tangy cheese that is kind of like cream cheese. Mix the drained liquid (whey) into mashed potatoes.

Skimming the Cream

There are many different ways to skim the cream. The most efficient way is to drain the skim milk from the bottom from a spout. Our milk comes in sealed plastic bags so I just poke a hole in the bottom and drain the milk into mason jars for drinking and making yogurt.

Ice Cream

1. Mix about 2 cups of cream flavored with sugar and vanilla in a quart-size freezer bag.
2. Seal completely but with some air in the bag.
3. Place the quart-size bag into a gallon-size freezer bag.
4. Place alternating layers of crushed ice and rock salt inside the gallon bag and around the quart bag. 8:1 is the ratio of Ice:Rock salt
5. Shake the bag for a long time until the cream starts to freeze. Use gloves or wrap in a towel because the bag will get very cold!
6. Open and stir occcasionally as it all starts getting harder. Be sure to wipe the seal before opening to avoid salty ice cream. You can add other flavoring if you have some.
7. What you don't eat right away, freeze flat in the bag and it's easier to break into portions for later.

Whipped Cream

1. Put cream in the blender.
2. Turn to lowest setting.
3. Add sugar and vanilla to the cream after it gets light and fluffy.

Butter

1. Put cream in the blender.
2. Turn to whip.
3. In a few minutes butter will form.
4. Use a spoon to gather the butter together and then drain the butter milk.
5. In a glass jar or bowl, keep pressing and draining the excess milk.
6. Add salt if you like or melt and use in your pancakes.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking power
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk (what's left after making butter.)

Combine dry ingredients. Blend in olive oil until it's in fine crumbles. Add buttermilk and knead 10 times. Roll out with oiled or floured fingers and roller and use a glass upside down to make the biscuits. Let them rise about five minutes while the stove is preheating to 450 degress F. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Low Allergy Recipes

A few years ago, I discovered that I feel a whole lot better if I don't eat certain foods that are difficult to digest and top allergen foods. I've been developing recipes since then and this is a list I often share with people who find out they or their children have allergies. The recipes use very simple, whole foods foods so they are very healthy. This list is grain and dairy-free.

Meats

Meats generally take the longest time to prepare but are so important to getting enough nutrition on limited diet. I like to cook up large batches of meats and freeze them for quick easy meals, usually on grocery day or the day after because the meat is already thawed. Thighs and legs are the easiest because they come in nice portions. Sea salt, onion, and garlic are staple seasons for us then we add more food specific herbs. Good poultry herbs include sage and thyme, celery seed, dill, rosemary, or basil. Basil, thyme and marjoram, allspice and cloves, or dill are good red meat herbs. Chuck Roast is my favorite for cooking in the crockpot then freezing. We use garlic, onion, and basil.

Chicken Hot Dish

1 family package of chicken thighs, legs, or other parts (Check the label and buy a brand that doesn’t contain broth or flavoring- potential source of soy)
1/2 Tbsp or so each of garlic, onion, (sage and thyme) or (basil and celery seed) or (rosemary)
1 tsp sea salt

Sprinkle salt and herbs in the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan and lay the rinsed chicken on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 1 ½ hour or so. The chicken should fall easily off the bones but there should still be juices in the bottom.Now cut up carrots and potatoes into inch pieces. Combine with more herbs and olive oil. Place on top of the chicken, cover and bake until veggies are tender about ½ hour.

Salsa Chicken

3 cubed chicken breasts
1 cup rice1 ½ c water½-1cup salsa

Bake in a covered dish for 1 hour. I haven’t made this one in a while so you might need more water or less time. Brown rice has more nutrition, but white is easier to digest.

Meat Loaf

1-2 lbs. hamburger, venison, and/or ground pork
6 medium cubed potatoes
1 Tbsp. dried onion or half a fresh one (Chopped finely to be hidden from picky eaters)
1 tsp. garlic or 1 fresh clove pressed
½ tsp. ground allspice and cloves
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine raw meat with other ingredients and place into glass cooking containers. I have use round casserole dishes or bread pans. A large 9x13 pan wouldn’t cook evenly enough so keep them small and compact. Bake covered at 350 for about 1 hour and remove cover to brown for about 10 minutes. When you remove the cover, also start frozen veggies on the stovetop. We top with Heinz Organic Ketchup, which has a decent ingredient list. It contains no corn syrup, which can be difficult to digest. This meal can also be done in a skillet on the stove. Brown the meat first with the spices, then add potatoes. Cover and simmer with water to finish cooking the potatoes.

Home Fries Fries

6-8 medium potatoes
1 Tbsp. Rosemary or (Dill)
1 tsp. Sea salt
¼ cup olive oil

Cut the potatoes into fries and pile onto center of bar pan. Drizzle olive oil over the pile and spread evenly on the pan. Sprinkle on herbs and sea salt. Garlic and onion power can be added, but they both burn easily so maybe last five minutes. Bake at 425 for about 15-30 minutes until they reach desired browning and tenderness. They can be turned if you like.

Potatoes are a pretty important food if you can't have grains. I like to keep boiled or baked potatoes in the fridge. I top them with salsa or cut them into small pieces and fry them in olive oil.

Avocado Salad

1 tomato2 stalks celery
1 avocado
½ lemon Chop veggies (and fruits) into bite-sized pieces and combine.

Squeeze lemon juice over the top. Avocado gives things a nice creamy texture for some one who can’t have salad dressings. Lemon juice over regular salad is good, too.BeansBeans are wonderful filler for those of us who live grain free. Beans can be cooked in a crock pot overnight on low. Put rinsed and sorted beans in the crock, and cover with enough water for expansion. Read the package for amounts. Drain and freeze extra in meal size portions.

Taco Meal

1-2 pounds ground meat
1-2 cups cooked beans (garbanzo, kidney, pinto, and black turtle are good with tacos)
1-2 Tbsp. Taco seasoning (Bulk is usually better than packaged. Read label carefully.)
1-½ cup water

Brown meat, then simmer with beans and seasoning for a few minutes. Serve with veggies and rice. This is another place where avocados add a nice creamy texture in place of cheese. Apples make a good dessert after spicy meals.

Beany Spagetti

1-2 pound ground meat
1-2 cups cooked lima beans or baby lima beans
1 jar Bertolli Tomato and Basil sauce (There may be other brands that are safe.)

Brown meat. Add beans, sauce, and a little bit of water. Bring to a simmer and eat. Serve with raw carrots, salad, and steamed cauliflower or broccoli. If you want to cook up noodles for the rest of the group, just put part of the meat and sauce on the cooked spagetti then heat up the beans in the remaining meat and sauce.

Chicken or Turkey Soup

Simmer a whole chicken, turkey legs, or a left over turkey carcass in a crockpot over night or all day.

2 Tbsp. of vinegar added to the water gives a tangy flavor and leaches calcium from the bones.

Strain broth and pull meat from bones. Freeze some broth and meat. Add carrots, onions, and potatoes and various chicken herbs. You could leave out the potatoes and add the lima beans.

Fresh turkeys packaged in the meat department are safer because they usually don’t contain any broth. Sometimes, only halves are available. Simmering turkey legs with 2 Tbsp vinegar in the crockpot breaks down the stringy tendons and making them easier to eat.

Chicken broth is a good substitute for milk in mashed potatoes, but our favorite is ham juice. Read ham labels carefully to avoid difficult ingredients like corn syrup. Heat ham according to directions and boil potatoes. Drain some of the water then add the ham juice before mashing.

After enjoying a lovely ham dinner, remove and save remaining ham in the fridge. Put the ham bone into a large crockpot with rinsed and sorted beans. Lima, great northern, small red, and black-eyed peas are good with ham. Lentils or split peas have been used but leaving them out makes for more attractive soup. This soup only takes about four hours. Remove the ham bone, add chunks of ham, garlic and onion if desired. Leave in crock pot about 15 more minutes until the ham is warm. Freeze leftovers.

Tuna Salad

Tuna (Polar brand has no soy broth)
1 c. Frozen baby peas (Thawed)
2 Celery Stalks- chopped
1 c. Cooked black beans (optional)
1 lemon

Combine and flavor with lemon juice. This salad is great to pack for picnics. Just throw everything together and the peas are thawed when you get around to eating it, but it’s still cool. We eat it with potato chips.

Pork Ribs and Applesauce

1pkg Pork Ribs
1 dozen cheap apples
½ c honey or ¼ sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon or ginger (optional)

Rinse pork ribs, (or any pork cut), bake, covered, at 350 in water for at least 1-2 hours. Pork can be prepared and frozen. Peel and slice apples. Mix with sweetner and cinnamon. Drain water from pork and place apples on top. Bake covered until apples are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

We also just make homemade applesauce by microwaving the apples and sugar mixture in a covered glass dish. Six minutes then stir, then shorten the intervals between stirring. Bowl will be hot and needs to be watch carefully, to avoid boil over, which happens to us almost every time. Then we top the pork when it’s done. If you use sugar instead of honey, you might need to add a bit of water.

Pork Ribs

2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sea salt

Lay pork ribs in a 9x13 glass baking dish or crock pot. Add seasonings and cover with water. Bake for around 2 hrs or simmer for longer in the crock pot until the meat is nice and tender. You can also reduce the amount of liquid and add 3/4 cup of ketchup during the last hour. It's good but that's a lot of ketchup.

Fruit Smoothies

1/3 can frozen O.J.
2 water1 cup ice chips
3 ripe bananas
1 cup fresh pineapple (optional)

Add water first to the blender, then ice, juice, and fruit. Blend and serve.Fruit and VeggiesWe also eat lots of frozen veggies. They are so quick and easy. Check labels. Our kids have been eating them plain for years. We usually buy fresh broccoli and cauliflower because it tastes better than frozen, but use it shortly after buying it.

Also, we eat lots of fruit. The kids have fruit for dessert after almost every meal. Eating a live, raw fruit or veggie after a meal helps digestion.The most difficult times are travelling or visiting relatives. We always pack a cooler of veggies, fruits, frozen cooked meats, rice cakes, and potato chips. We buy Lays Natural that don’t contain corn or soybean oil.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Raising a Little Mommy

This was a little gift from a friend around the time when Tyler was born. It could have been for Christmas or a birthday, I'm not quite sure, but to say the least this little guy has been floating around our homes a few years. He used to have a little green ribbon and he sqeaks.Yesterday, Amanda decided that he was naked and needed some clothes. Apparently, he is a she now. She found the little outfit in her dolly's bag and tried to put it on him. Then she asked for help and was very happy to have him all dressed up.

She is such a good little mommy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Skin

The twin of dry hair is dry skin. Keeping Amanda's skin moisturized it just as important as her hair. The cotton sheets were drawing moisture out of her poor little cheeks when she was little and she suffered from chaffing until I lined her bed with one of her play silks.

Soap can be very drying and Amanda would get diaper rash if I used soap to wash her bottom clean. Mostly I just used water and a little bit of lavendar oil squirted on a wash cloth for diaper clean-ups. I don't even use soap in the bath. It hasn't been necessary.

I also discovered that Lansinoh Cream was the most effective for healing and protecting super dry skin. Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief is also very good lotion and that is what we use to maintain good moisture these days.

Many years ago, when my aunt was visiting from Peru, she asked what she should about the her children's dry skin. She said, "You think I should use no soap?" I couldn't imagine not scrubbing my boys down with soap, but brown skin suffers in our dry winter climate and soap is not it's friend. I would tell her now, "Don't use soap. If they stink, add a couple of drops lavendar oil to the water and they'll freshen right up."

Cloth Diapers

My favorite diapering combo is:


Super Whisper Wraps with velcro or snaps and flat fold diapers.


I like the Super Whispers because they don't have sticky plastic on the inside. I like the flat fold diapers because I can fold them many different ways and thickness depending on the size and needs. They also dry quickly which saves me time and money. I never pin the diapers. I just fold them into a rectangle and lay them in a wrap. I've been using two flat folds but now Amanda needs three. If the cover only gets wet, I hang it to dry and use it again later.


I have used fleece liners at nighttime to keep moisture away from Amanda's skin, but she is prone to diaper rash and sleeps through the night, so we usually need to use disposables at night.


I keep rubber gloves in the bathroom for rinsing out dirty diapers and then keep the diapers in a wire basket by the toilet. A closed, dry bucket seemed to get really stinky. I wash diapers every two or three days. Since we have done elimination communication, there are times when I don't have enough diapers for a full load, so I throw in a couple of white bath towels. I rinse on cold and then wash on hot with Charlie's Soap. If the covers are getting stinky, I add several drops of tea tree oil to the rinse dispenser. I dry in the dryer on low.

My favorite training pants for elimination communication are the custom pull-on pants from the EC Store. There are thin and trim but I can line them with a flat fold if I need more absorbancy or want to make dirty accidents easier to clean up.


I like to buy my Super Whispers from Thanks Mama. I found she has good prices and the best shipping rates because she uses USPS. I can get by with four covers. I've been using my medium Super Whispers on Amanda for almost a year. The velcro has begun to let go and at one point she firgured out how to undo the velcro. I just bought two large with velcro and two large with snaps. I was concerned I wouldn't get a good fit with the snaps on my thin baby but they have fit well.

I've picked up my flat folds from Wal-Mart. I need about three dozen.

So, that's it! Any questions? Happy diapering!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hair

African hair is like a delicate orchid. With careful attention to care, nourishment and environment, it will flourish. If neglected, it will dry up and crumble away. Taking the time to learn how to care for my daughter's beautiful tresses shows that she is worth it! Thankfully, I've had some help from my blogger friends in understanding all this. Here's a little of what I've learned so far.

The Tools of the Trade

Luster's Pink Oil Lotion, Africa's Best Herbal Oil, boar's hair brush, rat tail comb, ouch-less binders, and stretchy bands of unknown composition, head bands with a rubber strip on the underside. The Pink Lotion is a light weight lotion and the Africa's Best is a bit heavier. Both have mild scents. I've also been known to use straight Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The boar's hair brush smooths Amanda's hair and the rat tail comb is good for taking out braids. The little plastic bands have become useless because the product in Amanda's hair causes them to break within minutes.This is my favorite hair style! I love the wild poof tucked behind a cute head band! I only wash Amanda's hair about once a week with very mild soap and then use the oil to moisturize after the bath. I wait until her hair is dry to comb it, brush or put into any kind of style. I always start at the ends in order to comb out tangles and may apply more oil to help loosen the tangles.

The new ouch-less bands are wonderful and I can do a variety of ponytail configurations. They don't break and they hold her hair gently. Her curls prevent them from ever slipping out entirely even when she's wrestling around or putting blankets and hats on her head.
Who says blonds have more fun? My daughter's hair curls like party ribbons. What could be more fun than that? I try to vary the placement of the parts because I'm a little concerned about the hair breaking too much in one area. Braiding Amanda's hair before bedtime achieves two goals. It keeps Amanda's hair from getting tangled and the braids expose less of the hair to the cotton sheets and dry air. Cotton sheets draw the moisture from Amanda's hair and cause it to break. One website said that African hair won't grow without gentle pressure on the follicles/roots which is another purpose of the braiding or banding. Interesting.

I have used the little bands for these braids. Using two at a time seemed to do the trick. I think we lost only one during the night. The first time I tried, the bands had broken off the first braids before I finished the last braids. In the morning, I oil the ends and slip the bands off. When her hair gets long enough I will only have to do a couple of braids.
We've also been using this handy trick to keep Amanda's hair tangle-free and away from the cotton sheets. It's one of her 36" square play silks folded into a triangle and tied on her head. She has gotten used to sleeping with it on her head and doesn't take it off until she wakes up.


I am truly enjoying investing so much time into my daughter's hair. My sister and I spent hours braiding our cousins' long black hair when we were kids. Oh, and let's not forget our sweet horse, Schera. Perhaps, I'm not as unprepared for this as I thought.

Thank you to my dear sweet blogger contributors, Kelli, Rachel and Dionne, for their tips, advice and encouragement. Ladies, feel free to give me any suggestions anytime!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Does she talk? Time to Delurk!


People ask us often if Amanda talks because in public she is very somber and quiet. At home, particularily at 5 am and when the boys are trying to do Spanish, she is very noisy and talkative. Cheese, cracker, Bible, pretty, baby, juice, please, up and down are all new words for her.

Often we can understand what she's trying to say in context. For example, when she is talking loudly and pointing at Tyler's head before prayer time, we know she is telling him to take off his hat. She will not quiet down to pray until all heads are uncovered.

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I've added a widget for my faithful followers. All you have to do is click "follow this blog" and whenever I update, it will show up on your dashboard or your blog.

It's the perfect time to de-lurk!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I'm just glad Amanda didn't have access to an outlet.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Hairy Truth-Not Me!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I certainly have NOT tried to give the impression that I know how to manage my daughter's beautiful riot of black curls by never posting or even taking pictures of her hair in it's most common state.


I did NOT devote an entire shopping trip to searching for new hair supplies.



I certainly do NOT spend our family Bible time braiding Amanda's hair for bedtime.

And I'm definitely NOT enjoying braiding, brushing, moisturizing, and arranging my first daughter's beautiful tresses. Nope, not me, not one little bit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just Once More

After eighteen months, Amanda and I are officially done nursing. This was last Saturday and she only nursed once last week. It is time for me to clean and sterilize the nursers and packed them away so they are ready to go when we get the call for our next baby. Sweet memories and bonding time made it all worth it.

Beans, Peas, and Lentils


Enjoying the Warm Weather 44`F

The weather was beautiful on Saturday- down right balmy for us Minnesotans. We got out and made the best of it.
Amanda is parade waving for the camera. She loves this little sled.Daddy was having fun, too.
Amanda's all bundled up and ready to go.
Or perhaps just ready to taste some snow!
We tried to capture some good pictures of Mike and I for our second profile. The national agency we are considering working with wants 8-10 pictures of us as a couple. We have 2 0r 3.
I was experimenting with using the blue sky as a background, but by the time Mike got outside, the boys were playing boot hockey and Amanda was trying to pull down the tri-pod.
We're just too busy living life to capture it on film.