Wednesday, June 30, 2010

pickled okra, kale chips & more...

a gorgeous stained glass fairy made by my mother, a wedding gift. no relevance to today's post, but i just LOVE her, don't you?

we are getting into all sorts of fun, new things around here! i am totally loving it!

monday we picked okra from the garden & set it fermenting, following a recipe from sally fallon's book "nourishing traditions" (i cannot recommend this book enough, it is amazing!) sadly we spaced on picking our first lot, so it because a nice treat for the chicks & our bunny, niro. :)

we did harvest enough to fill a pint jar....which will not last long as we are a pickled okra loving family! we followed her recipe for pickled cucumbers.

here is our jar on day 1...isn't it gorgeous??

pickled cucumber (makes 1 qt)

*4-5 pickling cucumbers or 15-20 gherkins
(we just stuffed the jar with as many okra pods as we could :)
*1 tbsp mustard seeds
*2 tbsp fresh dill, snipped
*1 tbsp sea salt
*4 tbsp whey
*1 c filtered water

wash cucumbers/okra & put in a wide-mouth quart jar. combine remaining ingredients & pour over cucumber/okra adding more water if necessary to cover.

the top of the liquid should be at least 1" below the top of the jar.

cover tightly & let sit at room temperature for 2-3 day, then move to cold storage.
and here it is on day #2, happily fermenting...:)

and again on day #3, ready for cold storage (cool, dark, temperature of about 40 degrees)

i have also gotten sucked into the raw food craze, just a bit, but is is exciting. when i first heard "raw food" i thought, as most of you do probably...salad, salad & um, more salad?? this is very much NOT the case!

my first raw food 'project' was this raw chocolate fudge cake with raspberry filling. i made it for papa, for father's day. it was quite good, too good. lance absolutely loved it, but the boys & i thought it was a bit too chocolaty (as a chocolate loved, i honestly cannot believe that i just typed those words), but it is true.

i have a confession...i am a hershey's special dark sort of girl. (gasp!) i have tried to like the organic chocolates out there, really, i have...but they just taste bitter to me. if by chance, you do like the higher cocoa content varieties, then this cake is most definitely for you! :)

it was good...what i would do differently next time?? i would not do a layer cake, it is much too rich for that & i would leave out the coconut. also, i would go for fresh raspberries vs the filling.

this week's delicious delight?? raw mint chocolate cream bars ...our father's day was, well, a bit chump as orin's birthday celebration was also that weekend & a sleepover to boot. so, i thought that we would do a little something extra this weekend & lance absolutely loves mint chocolate chip ice cream, i think he'll love these as well. :)

other raw food adventures??

last night we made kale chips, following a recipe from laura over at crooked moon mama

this might wound weird, but i really loved the way the kale felt as i massaged in the marinade & it was such a lucious shade of green afterwards.

our dehydrator is a very simple one that i picked up at a tag sale a couple years ago for $5, no fancy temperature setting, just plug it in & there you go. i did want to get an idea of what temperature it runs at though, as many of the recipes i have seen have varying temperatures. i plugged ti in & let it run for a bit, about 10 min, then took a reading with a meat thermometer...ours runs at about 120 degrees. knowing this, i can better gauge how long things will take to crisp in our dehydrator.

at any rate, i went to check on the kale chips & the lid was ajar & the entire top tray was nearly empty! needless to say, the boys found them & loved them! they are good, and i probably will make them again at some point, but the boys & i eat kale raw/plain already, so it seems kind of silly to go through the trouble to 'cook' some up, you know?

today we have some of laura's raw curry flax crackers in the dehydrator, some baked oatmeal in the slow cooker & some raw cashew balls yet to be made. :)

we'll share photos & our family's reviews of those recipes & more soon. i have also begun to calculate recipe costs, as a lot of the raw foods use things that i don't typically buy bulk loads loads of nuts, dates, etc. i will post those tallies from now on as well.

i am having so much fun checking out all of these new foods & ways/means of cooking. if you have any great recipes that you have found, please do share!

happy baking day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

rainbows galore, no...really!

this past sunday we went to a lovely silk dyeing party, carpooling with our friends.

well, we took them home & chatted a bit, of course, and headed back to our house a bit after 7pm,catching just the tail end of a thunderstorm.

you would NOT believe what we saw...

not one amazing bright & pure DOUBLE rainbow, but 2!! one just above the other.

the lower one was amazingly bright & pure...we could see each color in the spectrum easily, it was amazing!

the second was just a bit above the first, and though not nearly as clear...the fact that it was there simultaneously was just awe-inspiring! i wish that i would have had a camera.

we were hoping that they would follow us home so that we could show papa, ehren & bebe, but they did not. we kept watch though as the storm was just hitting our neck of the woods. and sure, enough not 20 min later aydin & orin checked outside & we had our own double rainbow.

it stretched all the way the north side of our yard the the southern was so wide in fact that i couldn't get it all in one shot...

if this was not enough, i went out to check on our bunny & the chickens about 20 min later & there was ANOTHER rainbow! it was a half arch, but gorgeous in its own right...

i have never in my life seen 2 rainbows in one day, let along 4! kudos to mother nature for truly outdoing herself!

silk dying

sunday we went to a lovely waldorf handwork session, hosted by a lovely mama in asheville (about 30/40 min north of us).

each family bulk ordered silks (from dharma trading company, i think) & brought a dye lot or 2. as silk dyeing can be as complicated, or as simple, as you might want it to be, each family got to choose what sort of dye bath they wanted to coloring, kool-aid, or natural.

we contacted our local grocery store & asked them to save their red onion skins for that is what we brought. i had read that it would make a lovely reddish-orange, but i think that actual color is closer to a burnt sienna.
i prepped this dye bath the same as i did for the goldenrod, marigold & red cabbage dye baths we did last fall. (for instructions, click HERE!)

various food coloring dye baths...
at any rate, a good crowd showed up & the thunderstorms only threatened... we had a chance to see some friends that we haven't seen nearly enough of lately, and also make some new ones!

aydin...look at the concentration on his face!
the work table... mamas busy at work...

ehren's masterpiece...
group photo time!
so many lovely color combinations...
just gorgeous!
our four are the ones on the (left) end...
once the children had had their fill of silks & dye baths, they set about their work, PLAYING!

caleb, miss jenny, & other little friends...
and, not to be left out, baby evyn...

just photos...

rainy summer days...
under mama's "family" umbrella (really, this umbrella is huge!)

eeeewww....cheerios exploding out the missing-tooth-gap!

our sweet babe, now 15 months...

i love this!
oh, for me??
this one, too...the angle & coloring...gorgeous! (i can toot my own horn every now & again, right??)

a ride from big brother...
on your mark....get set....melt!
a future homeschooling mama? ;)

so cute!
i don't know why i kept accosting our children during their meal times...geez!
that must be the theme here...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

*10* times around the sun!

today is orin's birthday... he is now *10* years old, can you believe it?? i cannot...

we celebrated his birthday with a party/sleepover this past saturday.

yesterday we gave him his gifts from us...
a birthday bolga basket (inspired by childhood magic)
hand knit sushi & a mini wooden sushi serving plate (mama made :)
and eagle boffer frog (sword sheath thing) from brennos, on etsy
and, of course, a handmade, fair trade bolga basket (which i have been meaning to get the boys each for a while now...they are extremely well-made & amazingly versatile)

today we had a wonderful picnic with friends @ the library courtesy of kith & kin of madison county.

needless to say, he has had quite the celebration/welcoming to the world of double digits...

a final word from mama...

*10* reasons that you deserve a most amazinlgy wonderful birthday!
1. your love for all of mother earth's creatures, great & small.

2. you devour every book that enters our home!

3. inspiring me to be a better person...

4. being our 'guinea pig' for the past 10 years! ;)

5. the way you have listened to me over the years, pouring my heart out about everything from life changes to a new knitting pattern...and acting interested for the most part, even if you weren't.

6. a friend to anyone & everyone.

7. always willing to help out your younger brothers & sister.

8. because you still try to squeeze your skinny *10 year old* butt in to the bathtub, even though your 3 siblings are already taking up all the room.

9. your unending thirst for knowledge.

10. because you were our first child, the one who welcomed us into the amazing world of parenthood!

we love you so much, orin...happy birthday!

busy bees...

for orin's birthday, we had a party/sleepover this past saturday.

ever since he was 6 years old we have done this...he & randy & ethan have a tradition to sleepover at each other's houses for each of the others birthdays. it is awesome! they will go months without seeing each other, as we homeschool & they do not & we all participate in different activities. but each time they see each other it as if no time at all has passed. i love that he is blessed with such amazing friendships!

at any rate. last week we spent a good deal of time making favors & things for his party...

project #1, balancing butterflies...

ariella, from childhood magic, posted these as i was mulling over what to make for favors this go round & knew at once that orin would love the idea!

we, too, designed out own template. i made a couple to check the 'difficulty level' & then aydin volunteered to make the rest.

so easy & absolutely gorgeous!

project #2, handknit pokemon card pouches...

orin has recently gotten into pokemon, very much so, in fact. he asked specifically for me to knit pouches to carry his favorite pokemon cards around in, something with a string to wear over his shoulder/around his neck.

i found the pouch pattern on ravely, & orin fingerknit the straps.

project #3, the cake...

orin was asking for an ice cream cake, when he spotted this recipe on the side of a breyer's carton...problem solved!

easy as pie ice cream cupcakes...

1. bake pound cake using your favorite recipe. i used "grandmother's pound cake", which makes 3 cakes & froze the other 2.

2. line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

slice the cake horizontally into 3 pieces. cut each piece into 2" round or so (you want them to fit in the bottom of a cupcake liner).

3. top with a couple of (large) tablespoonfuls of your favorite ice cream.
i let the ice cream melt a bit so that it would meld & hold together better. then i packed a bit more is a birthday party after all! :)

4. freeze for an hour or so, or until ready to serve. i would suggest letting them thaw for 10 min or so before serving as our cake was a bit hard straight from the freezer.