Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gluten free does not mean OK

Ok, so I feel like there is a bit of confusion among some family and friends. JUST because something says "GLUTEN FREE" or "DAIRY FREE" does NOT mean it is something I would feed to my kids! YES gf/df is important, but there are other requirements! It would be great if it was ORGANIC. I am not saying organic just because of organic-but organic also means no food dyes or crazy preservatives! I know organic is more expensive-but my kids are worth it!
From time to time we will splurge and buy a treat-Immaculate cookies comes to mind-they are gf/df, and made with REAL ingredients-though they are NOT organic. These are ok from TIME TO TIME. We do not eat premade foods on a regular basis, I make our food! (I do purchase a very large amount of organic peanut butter...)

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Nully Kitchen: Angel Food Cake (G-Free AND Dairy Free)

I found this recipe and am thinking it would be a yummy birthday cake for Zarina next week! The Nully Kitchen: Angel Food Cake (G-Free AND Dairy Free):

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One busy mama!!

SO, a quick summary of foreword (??) of what we did yesterday and today:

-peeled over 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of pears-this took ALL DAY
-cooked down said pears only added cinnamon-no sugar!
-Stayed up late and made said pears into sauce-whew!
-dehydrated bananas
-baked some bread
-made apple butter
-prepared more apple butter to be made
-dehydrated apples
-made an apple pie
-did a fun craft with the kids! (find that info on homeschool page.)
All while doing HOMESCHOOLING (we do this 6 days a week), Mondays we do Gymnastics as well. Not to mention dealing with a teething, cranky, feverish 1 year old. It has been the MOST work I have done in a long time, and it feels completely and totally rewarding! (I know I left stuff out like washing diapers, cleaning, laundry-the stuff that HAS to get done-but this was just above and beyond all of that!) ~enjoy

Yesterday was a very long day! We managed to get the pears (over half of the 5 gallon pail) semi-peeled and in the pot. When I say "we" I do mean the girls helped a lot! I am very proud of my girls. I know it did not all go smoothly, there was a bit of frustration, but there always is when you are dealing with kids, knives, peelers and PEELS. Anyway, my kids really are pretty darn awesome. I could not have managed to get it done without their help!
 
 I was up VERY late making pear sauce. It was a lot of hard work, and very time consuming, but man did it taste good!
                        (this is what I used to make the sauce after it simmered all day long)
I am planning on purchasing an attachment for my mixer that does this for me, I am happy to have "tried" the old fashioned way, and I am very proud of myself for accomplishing it. This, however, was way more work than I can deal with at one time if I expect to get anything else done! Torrin had a fever (teeth) and LUCKILY, went to his dad-I do not know how this would've gotten done  otherwise! 

                 This is what I ended up with-the big jar is a 1/2 gallon, the smaller jar is a quart size.


                                           Last night, I also got the banana chips all dried!!

One dehydrator full makes about 2 quarts worth. I still need to put them in the vacuum sealer and *fingers crossed* they keep for awhile! (I am planning to do more, and am thinking granola with banana chips would be yummy!! Also, thinking on top of banana bread this would be delicious!!)

I made homemade BREAD!!It is a good breakfast bread, I am thinking of adding craisins the next time!  It was amazing, it is a gluten free oat bread, I got the recipe here. *NOTE* I completely forgot to add the rice flour in the recipe, and it turned out just fine...Not sure if needed or not, it tasted SOOO good with our fresh apple-butter.


I do not like how much the batter makes-it uses a 10" loaf pan...I do not have that so I used a standard (8"?) and 2 mini loaves.

Speaking of bread with apple butter-OMG YUM!!
                                                               this...turns into....

                     this...looks like a pot of poo...but OMG is it good!! I did not use ANY sugar!


So, this is how I made this amazing spread: (Thank you Janine for the recipe and info)

Apple butter:

ABOUT 6.5 lbs of apples-cored-sliced
                      -I am not sure what kind I used, they were a mix of tart and sweet
                      -I did not peel them all the way-only the bruises and bugs

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
                      - I did not have these, so I put in 3 cloves and just took them out...

1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all that in the crock pot for I would say 8-10 hours, walk away and check on it later!

when it is all cooked down-add 1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract
                     -stir in and WALK AWAY

Come back 1-2 hours later and blend that awesomness up. I used my ninja the first time... P.I.T.A, I would use a immersion blender so there is less dishes to wash and it is just easier. 
                                                 
                                                                     TA DA!!
                                Add a cap and freeze or can. (I froze 3...we are eating the 4th!)

Right now (Tuesday almost 6pm) I have a 2nd batch going right now, hopefully Nathan remembers to bring home the immersion blender so I can mix it up before bed!

Oh, so I canned all that up (to be frozen) and then started slicing APPLES for the dehydrator. Those are going now, and hopefully will be done tonight before bed so I can start something else.
I made the 2nd batch of apple butter, and also made an apple pie for dinner!


                                             Hopefully it will taste as good as it smells!

Apple pie recipe

Crust
3/4 cup oat flour
ABOUT 1/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp. tapioca starch
1/4 cup sugar(I used real organic sugar)
1 tsp xanthan gum
4 tbsp. shortening (palm oil)
1 egg
1 tbsp. REAL vanilla extract

Filling
 4-5 Apples, use judgment
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Topping
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats (gf)
1/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup palm oil (shortening)
(cinnamon or nutmeg if wanted...I forgot this time-about 1/2 tsp)

Stir the flour, xanthan gum and starch. Add sugar and shortening, egg and vanilla. Mix it well and press into pie pan. I used a bit more tapioca starch to "press" it into the pan without it all sticking to my hands. Put in fridge while you make the filling and topping.

Make filling, put in crust (take crust out of fridge first...) and then add the topping. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 mins!


*updated 7:13p.m. We had the pie and it was amazing!!! Oh, and Nathan got the blender so I have more work to do!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Let the fun begin...

So, today we are very busy! The kids had a short school day (math, reading,writing-the basics without much "fluff") I have a 5 gallon pail of pears that need attention NOW. We are freezing and contemplating starting a fire. Torrin is grumpy (and hitting me right now), and the cat won't come out of hiding to get his picture taken.

*My plan for today is to cut up the pears and get them started cooking down -I  am thinking pear sauce??

*Get a loaf of oat bread started

*Get the bananas on the dehydrator and the rest in the freezer

*Get some apple butter started in the crock pot

We have gymnastics tonight so hopefully everything but the apple butter are done by 4 or I am screwed!  The crock pot can wait until tonight since it will cook over night!



5 gallon bucket of pears
some of the pears soaking in a vinegar water solution-not sure if necessary or even bad-but seemed like a good idea!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Autumn!!

So, I did not post in my earlier post that TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN!!!

I am so excited for Fall! We did our normal Sunday stuff this morning, we started with pancakes and bacon (after coffee), and then the kids did their school work. I had planned a fun "autumn" project, but the school day carried on a little too long for that.  I am hoping later this week we can work on the "project". It isn't anything crazy-just making a big tree with handprint leaves. That is the plan anyway.

I made crockpot chili today, as I had planned a day picking apples. (we did not make the cornbread as we did not even EAT until 8pm-we were too busy having fun today that we got home super late!)
We met this amazing couple (through MWT) and their invited us to their home to pick apples. These are heirloom apple trees-the kinds that have been around forever.

 
 


 





Torrin was helping, by throwing our apples on the ground!
                                                              Checking out the cows
 





                                                               Heavy box of apples!
                                       Zariah and Zarina helping get their apples to the truck!

What better way could we have spent a beautiful fall day other than picking apples? This mini farm with a bunch of apples trees was so peaceful and inviting. It was absolutely beautiful! Janine (I hope I spelled that right) was the lady, and her garden was so pretty.  There were flowers all over, their yard was pretty. The trees were a good height for picking-it was just such a nice way to spend our late afternoon! Janine sent us home with some tomatoes and a few raspberries as well!
The kids ate the raspberries while we waited in Baraboo for our new kitty!

simplifying?

So, I am trying to simplify my life! Yesterday was Saturday-which means soccer game in the morning and shopping after. The game was ok, Zariah's team won, but that is not even what matters. I was upset that one kid in particular was allowed to play almost the entire game, and would throw a fit and whine when he was asked to come off the field so others could play. I was also upset by the fact that the girls were not allowed as much game time as the boys. NOT to mention the fact that one kid in particular was allowed to play AT ALL when he has not come to practice!

After the game, I went to the feed store-bought 2 boxes (60#s of chicken feed) and some shavings-got overcharged, so I have to go back Monday and pick up some more feed. I was charged $42 for 60lbs of feed, and the feed was supposed to be $24, I was preoccupied and did not pay attention to being rung up-but just handed them my card. It was an error that they are fixing for me, and I will try to be more present when paying for things in the future.

After getting chicken feed, I headed to the market in Hillsboro and spent a good chunk of money! I really like this market, they carry a lot of things I cannot get other places. The store owner did not have everything I needed, so I ended up HAVING to go to Burnstad's afterwards.

I bought 7 pounds of hamburger, 2 pounds of sausage, a pound of cinnamon, 7 pounds of gluten free oats, $17 worth of organic sweet potatoes (those added up a little too fast...) a bag of grapes for our snack in the truck, 2 dozen eggs, and lots of beans. I got 3 pound bags of black, navy (white), and pinto beans...I think that is it (makes me sad because I know I spent $110 there and it doesn't look like much when it is written out).
Hamburger $4.50/lb          aprx $31.50
Sausage $4??/lb                 aprx $8
cinnamon $4.50ish                    $4.50
gf oats (2.40/lb)                 aprx $17
s.potatoe                             aprx $17
grapes $2.99/lb...              maybe $9
eggs                                            $5
3 big bags of beans          about $21
Let me do my math and see if I am right on what I bought $113-I think this is pretty darn close for trying to remember what I bought and how much it all costs!! I know my total was $110 and some change. (I am so proud of myself for remembering all of this!)
                                           These are the half gallon jars FULL of my beans!!

I then headed to County market to get organic juice boxes for the girls. I felt bad because after the soccer game, the snack that was passed out what some kind of goldfish cracker and hug juices. I do not let my kids have artificial colors and we do not do dairy or wheat, so Zariah was not allowed either. Zariah held up the juice all excited, and I told her to give it back and that I would make it up to her. So, the grapes from the market and the organic juice pouches (with extra left over for future games) was how I made it up to her.
We then filled up the tank (or should I say put $60 in when I had 1/4 tank left...which only took me to 1/2 a tank...hey, it holds over 40 gallons-I cannot afford to fill the dang thing!)

Fast forward to Burnstad's, where we got (another) 40 pounder of bananas!
I bought 4 packages of gluten free tortilla shells (for pizza and burritos). I KNOW that they are not "needed" but we do need some quick meals for when we go places or need to cook in a hurry, and let's face it-my kids have not always been raised "simple" and they enjoy a treat from time to time. We do not eat real pizza, and I do not use fake cheese (soy) SO we make due with what we can, tortilla shells just happen to be a nice way to throw a bunch of stuff together and make everyone happy!
We bought out all of the bacon (3 pounds of nitrate free-non organic-the market did not have the organic nitrate free stuff, so I had to buy Hormel-which we LOVE but the package is too dang small at 12 oz instead of 1 pound).
I picked up 2 big packages of spinach/kale mix. I am not sure what I am going to do with 2 big things of spinach-but I am going to try like mad to fit more greens into our diets.
I also bought 2 bags of organic celery. The celery (organic) at Burnstad's is not ideal. It is the short stuff and it always bruised and dented and always has some that goes to waste. NOT to mention the fact that it is over $4 for a thing of it. Again, I had hoped the market in Hillsboro would've had their organic celery as it is half the price and twice the size! (try again in 2 weeks I guess)

I also got Torrin a container of puffs because he was trying to eat the (raw) bacon.
Here is the FUNNY part-I go to check out, and there are TWO checkers available...one of which being my not so favorite person. She did not great me, but simply took my bags and check us out. I said "thank you" but left it at that. I know she is upset I got ahold of her boss and manager, but she needs to learn to be nice.  I do not believe in being mean to people that work where I need to get things or go places, but it might do her a bit of good to realize she is the "hired help". Not to be degrading-I have had this position many times (checker at BP, housekeeping at Best Western, call center work) and you have to remember you work for the customer! Every customer deserves to be treated with respect until they are disrespectful to you, end of story.

Anyway, I got off on a bit of a tangent there. My Burnstad's total came to around $95? I would have to check to be sure, either way it was a LOT more than I had hoped to spend!
Bananas                  $30
Tortilla 4x  3.50     $14
Bacon                     $23
Celery                      $9
Spinach                  $14
Puffs                       $3
                TOTAL $93

HEY! I am pretty good at this remembering food amounts off the top of my head! I kid you not, there was no receipt used to remember what I bought or how much I spent! To top it off, I only forgot ONE item on my list (and one NOT on my list). I forgot E.V.O.O-I looked for it at the market, couldn't find it, I looked at it in the natural section at Burnstad's and it was way over priced, so I was going to go get it and forgot.

SHOOT! My math is off by a couple of dollars-I know I bought a $5 thing of green olives-so my guess is that I overpriced the tortilla's by a quarter each along with the puffs. Either way-I know I did darn good at remembering my totals and what I purchased!

NOW, for my menu!
Sunday(today) Chili in the crockpot with fast cook cornbread

Monday-rice, beef and veggies and soy sauce (we use soy sauce MAYBE twice a month) it is a twist on the Chinese dish my husband oh so misses! He may add egg to his rice, I will not. This is a meal Nathan is putting together as we have gymnastics and will not get home until almost 6:30. I am having him make extra rice for our meal Thursday.

Tuesday-Chicken with acorn squash and mashed potatoes(maybe sweet potato fries instead...)

Wednesday-this is our late night so I am starting a vegetable stew in the crock pot. (potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, green beans...that kind of thing)

Thursday-we have a potluck for homeschoolers in the park. I am going to take bean and rice burritos for my family (not sharing) with some chips and salsa (sharing) and for dessert I will either take banana bread or pound cake with strawberries. (not sure yet)

Friday Rice, lentils, beef, oil onions (I have this recipe in my recipe link-it is SO so good!!)

Saturday "pizza" this is just tortilla shells topped with tomatoes, garlic/oils/salt mixture, spinach, leftover chicken and whatever else we want

Sunday-chicken and dumpling soup (I use pancake mixture to make the dumplings

Now, looking at this list-I realize I forgot to incorporate my sweet potatoes that I bought. I bought these to make sweet fries. So, the menu may change on Thursday to sweet poatoe fries and BBQ chicken instead of squash and mashed potatoes. I also have spaghetti squash on the menu for the following week. I am really hoping we have enough to last 2 full weeks! I spent right around $200, and Nathan had bought my peanut butter the day before ($20?) so HOPEFULLY we can stay on budget!

After shopping, I came home and had all these plans of chopping, slicing, cleaning and prepping. It did not go as planned. I was able to chop celery and freeze it for my soups, while chopping the rest into nice sizes to keep in the fridge.  It looks nice and all prepped, but it was the only thing I accomplished! I had hoped to cut up all my onions for the week and freeze what I could. I still need to slice bananas for the dehydrator and freeze the rest! This one year old of mine likes to limit what I can accomplish! I started on the onions, so hopefully I can get those done today. I am really trying to cut my prep work in half so I am not washing dishes every night. I would love to cook everything I can on Sunday (breads, hamburger) and freeze all of my stuff that just gets tossed in (celery, peppers, onions) so it is easier to prepare for dinner. We are getting there!
                                       The "eating" celery that I prepped and put in the fridge
       The chopped celery (left) and in the jar and bag (center and right) is my fresh ground oat flour!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Appreciation and growing

So, this morning I find myself struggling with demons. My children (not demons) are asking me about "fun" things that they would like. I.E. an ATV for them to use. The husband and I have talked about a 4-wheeler in the past, but it was never a real conversation. This morning, we are having the real conversation and I am not sure we are getting very far. See, here my problem: I want my kids to appreciate what they have, to work for it, to earn it... Me spending a boatload of cash on a 4-wheeler is not them earning it-and even if I have them work their tails off to earn $800+ for the machine, it requires gas, oil, repairs-all of which are NOT cheap. Not to mention, I do not believe in allowance. My kids LIVE here-I am not going to PAY THEM for the one time they decide to wipe their own pee off the seat, or put away THEIR clothes. They live in this house, they should help-free of charge (I work for free...) I want them to know they are valued as a family member, and if they choose to go above and beyond picking up after themselves, and help with other things-I do say thank you and such. I do not feel overdoing the praise is  beneficial for them however. I know my kids appreciate me, they tell me they love me when I cook them a delicious dinner, they tell me how good it tastes too. They fail to realize that their clothes end up washed, on their bed-because I took the time to do the laundry-they only see a pile of clothes that needs put away.
In typing this, I am quite certain I have come to the decision my kids do NOT need some fancy mechanical toy. They need more outdoor freedom, so maybe, I will add on to their swing-set instead. Maybe, I can have Nathan start on the fencing so the chickens can free-range and we can get the girls a goat. (This goat will be a pet-that comes with the responsibility of feeding and hopefully milking).  These are the kinds of things I know they will treasure in the long run. Kids grow up so fast as it is, and I do not want them to grow up to expect things. I want them to be better than me-what parent doesn't want that for their child?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

dealing with it?

So, I am thinking I should just stay off of other people's blogs! I always leave feeling discouraged and like I am not good enough. A smart person who enjoys feeling good about herself would just STOP. The problem, I like the inspiration and the ideas. Unfortunately, I do not enjoy feeling like a failure.

We did "ok" for our first garden. I do however, feel as though I could have, should have-done a LOT more!
I feel like a lazy cat-just sitting here-accomplishing nothing. I have to remind myself-I am NOT WW (Wonder Woman). I am simply "Tamika/mom" during the day.
I am sitting here, after attempting to start my first fire of the season (notice I said attempt-not accomplish), while my persistent one year old tugged at my shirt. The baby boy won, the fire was a fail.                              
Man are my toes cold!

The big kids sit at the table finishing up their school day. I believe Zarina is done, Zariah is reading. They pretty much got the hang of this school stuff. At times, they complain about their work load-I gently remind them how little they actually have to do-and how our school day does not even start until 930-10 a.m. most day.

There are so many things I would like to do for my home, for my family.
-Learn to make felt food/animals----need to buy felt first...
-let Zariah learn to sew.....
-go to Peck's and spend the day playing and having fun
-have a clean house (without having to clean it...)
-have my basement access and bedroom done-or atleast safe and buttoned up
-have my kitchen/dining room feel inviting and not show4 different kinds of walls and be a cluttered mess

I would have loved to have canned a bunch of tomatoes and other garden items-but time and children kind of took the lead. I know I have been a good mother in not ignoring my baby boy-but it is very discouraging to know I did not accomplish what I had set out to do!

Monday, September 16, 2013

WOOD HEAT baby

So, it is getting cold out! I am so excited!! Last night the hubby started a small fire just to try out the new wood stove. We are not sure if we want to keep that stove or buy a smaller one like what we have in the main room. It was so nice that the bathroom and end room stayed warm. I cannot wait to get my clothes rack out in the mud room so I can dry clothes all winter long! I know we are supposed to have some warmer days again soon, but it sure was nice to get a taste of fall weather.

We ate some of our homegrown cantaloupe! There were two that were rotten, which is a huge bummer, but the ones we ate were really yummy. The pumpkins are getting huge, and starting to turn orange!

This past weekend we had a rummage sale at the in-laws. I sold a ton of kids clothes! I didn't make a ton, and I actually split all the money 4 ways with the kids and myself.

Tonight, Monday, the girls started gymnastics again. I was nervous they would be out of practice and not as flexible. They did GREAT! They had so much fun. I paid for gymnastics in full, which sucks because I need to pay off Nathan's credit card he used, but I hate having to worry about paying gymnastics!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Labor day chills

So, I do not remember what on earth my last post was! I should probably check it, but I won't! I am sitting here on the couch with a sleeping babe at my breast, trying to not squirm and wake him... I have to pee! My coffee ALWAYS kicks in once this child falls asleep. I just finished up my blogging about school. I am sure I missed something. I had hoped to be better at keeping track through blogging. Anyway, we have been busy!

Last Wednesday night, I took Torrin to the ER-it was stupid, but I was scared. I was worried he may have had some dangerous fruit as his eye was not staying open (only one eye). He had a fever (which I had assumed was teeth or virus his sister had the Friday before). The eye, well, it scared me. So, in we went. They were just going to let me leave after examining him as he was not constipated (opposite actually-darn teeth have him pooping like crazy-I am always out of diaper covers!) They wanted to admit him because of the eye, I left and headed home at like 1am??

The next day, eye still lagged at night-we have been watching him closely. A little background here, Nathan had a lazy eye-it was worse when he was tired. Torrin seems to only have "eye problems" when he is tired...crap. Good, that it wasn't/doesn't seem to be anything serious...bad in that I don't want to have anything corrected. I will watch my little man, and take him to the Doc on Friday for his 1 year check-up--where they want me to start him with shots and I am so torn on what to do!!

Torrin turned 1 Saturday!! (I KNOW I KNOW, I should have posted over the weekend) The party went well, we enjoyed family time, had some fun with the smash cake, and then I got sick! Not just me, nope-Zarina too!! We had only my mom, brother, and step-dad here-and Zarina and I both spiked a fever and got the chills! I had made homemade coleslaw and everything and couldn't eat a bite, I felt like crap! It took me until Monday to be better. JUST IN TIME...for Nathan to get sick! He had off Monday for Labor day, and called in Tuesday because he still had body aches, fever and chills. The WHOLE family got it this time. (Nathan had taken off Thurs. and Friday last week because of Torrin's ER visit and everyone getting sick...we thought everyone was fine or we wouldn't have had the party!)