January 22, 2012

Taking Back Breakfast: Granola

Sometimes, I get to watching documentaries (Super-size Me, Fat Head, Food Inc., King Corn, Forks Over Knives) and I know I need to change the way my family eats in a big way. Cut out soy. Cut out GMOs. Cow's milk causes a host of problems. And high fructose corn syrup is from the devil. You get the idea.

I start making changes to what we eat and then it seems like I can't eat anything. I mean seriously. Nothing in our regular diet works. Most every food-like substance in the grocery store has one of those ingredients in it. And then discourangement sets in.


I'm getting better though. I've found that the only way to make permanent life-style changes in the way we eat is to change one thing at a time. Last spring, I decided to take back our breakfasts. I stopped buying cereal and started making breakfast every morning. Then I read about Carrie's granola recipe. All the ease of boxed cereals but with a nutritional boost. What's not to like?! Here we are half a year later and still going strong. Changing just one meal per day. No soy, GMOs, milk, or HFCS. We've taken back our breakfasts.

We've run into some problems at breakfast time, though. We get bored with the same thing each day. I usually make a batch of granola (lasts about a week) every other week. Then we mix it up with toast, oatmeal, pancakes, etc.

I've also altered Carrie's recipe to make it seem like we aren't eating the same thing all the time. I wanted granola with clusters in it. And I figured out how to do it. Sometimes I like mango almond granola and other times apple pecan. Most often I throw in craisins or raisins since they are more economical to buy. The one time I put in chocolate chips, my children praised me to high heaven and devoured the entire batch in just a couple of days. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you're only limited in what you can do with your granola by your own imagination.

Note:  This recipe adapts well to Vegan and gluten-free diets.

Basic No Frills Granola
3/4 cup fat (coconut oil is my favorite and gives a fantastic flavor)
1 cup honey (or maple syrup or jelly)
4 cups oatmeal (any rolled grain works. I've used rolled barley and triticale with oats, too.)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla

Lovely additions
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, mangos, apples, figs, dates, etc.)
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 - 3 cups seeds/nuts (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, peanuts, etc.)

Clusters
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat but have also used gluten-free flours)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 egg (optional)

Directions (preheat oven to 275-300 F)
  1. Melt coconut oil and combine with honey and vanilla in a small sauce pan (if you're adding peanut butter put it in at this step)
  2. Combine dry ingredients for the clusters in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add egg (optional) and then pour in oil/honey mixture and mix it up.
  4. Add oatmeal, cinnamon, and lovely additions (but NOT the dried fruit).
  5. Mix well and spread onto a cookie sheet/jelly roll sheet.
  6. Bake ~45 minutes stirring every 10-15 minutes.
  7. Stir in dried fruit and allow to cool before transferring to your storage container. Bon apetite!

January 19, 2012

Baking Delights

Remember the two bread making classes that I did with the church ladies in November? Well, I've been practicing. And I've improved. A ton. My boys don't complain about hard crusts anymore.

 
Tymon surprised me with a stand mixer for Christmas. I had bought a cheap one before Thanksgiving to save a few dollars on our turkey (spend $50 and get a turkey for 49 cents per pound). I wasn't sure how much I'd actually use a stand mixer so Tymon and I discussed me using the cheap one for a while. If I was still using it a year later, then we'd invest in a better quality mixer. Well, he forgot we'd talked about it. Ha ha. So when he saw it on my Amazon wish list, he went out and picked up a Kitchenaid at Costco. I love it and use it a few times each week.

I'm craving a bit more instruction on breads, though. I think I'm ready for more. I'd also like to increase my experience with alternative flours. It's exciting for me to look at photos of the bread I was making a year or two ago. The improvment is like night and day.
I made these cinnomon rolls tonight. I can't wait until breakfast!

January 18, 2012

Snowed In

Great Wolf Lodge
"Howlin' Tornado"
The best part about going to the Great Wolf Lodge is the water park. In particular, the Howlin' Tornado water slide. After dumping you 6 stories you ride back and forth through the funnel before losing momentum and moving on through the ride. There is a 700 pound weight limit on this ride. Going with Elliott (together we weigh about 175 pounds) was fun. But riding with Tymon, my brother and father was the best ever. You see they don't actually weigh you. And our rough estimates put the four of us at 750 pounds. It's not that the tube can't handle the weight. It can. It's just that our momentum from the initial drop and up the side of the funnel didn't decrease all that much when we went back up the other side. And then back the other way. Wowsa. It was awesome.

Side Note: Having a shareholders meeting for the family business at a water park isn't super productive. 

Our Winter Wonderland
 
We came home Saturday night to snow at about 5pm. It was a fish tailing good time getting up our big hill, passing a handful of vehicles stuck at the bottom and one in the second stretch. That was the last time we've been out. It's now Wednesday and we have about a foot of snow. I heard there were 6 snow plows in the county. There haven't been any around our neighborhood. It's all snow and compacted ice.

I love this winter wonderland we live in. Except the not getting out part. It's been good for cleaning out the fridge though. I'd forgotten about some of the produce in there. We've eaten it all now. Tymon's been telling me that some people starve to death with food in the pantry. He thinks that would happen to him. I look in the pantry and see food. He looks in there and doesn't see anything to eat. I'm pretty sure Jocelyn takes more after me than Tymon. I had to take some egg roll wrappers away from her the other day and tell her it wasn't a snack. She sees most everything as food.

Graeden is also honing in on his culinary skills. We made pancakes this morning. He added water to his chocolate chip pancake mix. I made some millet pancakes from scratch. They were pretty good. But be warned. If you eat them at the same setting as refined white flour chocolate chip pancakes, they won't taste as great. Tymon was nice not to tell our kids that. They don't even notice.

Being snowed in helps me to finsih other projects, too. The pancakes are on top of my latest hand made masterpiece, a Valentine's Day table runner. As the snow continues to fall, it makes me wonder if the rain will ever come to melt it away. Or if days of cancelled school and working from home will persist a few more days.

January 15, 2012

Peace

The entire world is at peace
When fresh snow blankets the earth.

Or at least it seems to be.
Until we go out and mess it up.

I mean make snow forts.
And snowmen.
And angels.

Angels flying toward us
Bringing bits of calm,
Fun and laughter.
As responsibilities melt away
 And our hearts warm.
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January 7, 2012

Fight Or Flight: Behaviors Of The Accused

Before August 27, 2011:
When someone was accused of doing something wrong, I thought there was usually some bit of truth behind it. Even if it was just a small bit. And if they left the country, confessed, or tried to commit suicide then that sealed the deal. They were definitely guilty.

After August 27, 2011:
Rational and irrational thought plagues the accused. For this post, I will concentrate on what was going through my heart and mind in the time period shortly following the initial investigation of Kira's broken collarbone. CPS was investigating my husband and I for maltreatment or child abuse. The Sheriff was investigating Second Degree Assault of a Child, a felony offense.

The Body Soul Connection describes the physiologic response to stress as this:
The "fight or flight response" is our body's primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from perceived attack, harm or threat to our survival.
Necessary Details:
I didn't start out feeling attacked. I took Kira to the on-call pediatrician on Saturday morning because I felt a bump midway between her neck and shoulder. Because Elliott has had some issues with his elbow popping out of joint and I have hyper-flexible joints, I thought Kira's shoulder had popped out of socket. It didn't really seem to bother her, though. I don't even know when it happened since she didn't cry very much. And certainly never in a way that would have drawn my attention to it in the moment it happened.

I was surprised when the x-ray showed the collarbone was broken. Because I had no specific incident to tell the doctor about, he said he had to report it to CPS and that they would do an investigation. I was okay with this. I thought they'd come out to our house and talk to us. We'd tell them we didn't know what happened, they'd see Kira is well cared for and that would be the end of it.

Primitive, Automatic, Inborn Response:
I started feeling uneasy when I talked to a friend of mine who had a bad experience being trapped in the hospital with her nursing twin daughters because one had fallen off the bed and broken her leg. She was forced to do every test under the sun on her daughter and was told that if she refused or tried to take her daughter away then they'd report her for kid-knapping.

January 2, 2012

Indefinite Detention

Have you heard of the bill that Obama signed on New Year's Eve? It gives our government the sweeping power to indefinitely hold terrorists. Without charges. Without trial. And they don't even have to do anything wrong. They can be held preventively. Don't worry, according to the Associated Press Obama wanted to make sure that American citizens wouldn't be included in the indefinite detention provision...unless of course the president thinks an American is a national security risk. So as long as I trust the President, all will be well. Ah, I feel so much safer (read heavy sarcasm here). Read David Swanson's article "Obama Crowned Himself On New Year's Eve" to balance out the AP's short-sighted one.

Obama's sneaky, that's for sure. Evil, too. And so are our representatives. They don't represent me. Or you. It's time we voted them out.

It's possible that I'm extra sensitive. Having been falsely accused this past summer (no charges, no judge, no trial) but definitely under investigation does that to a person. Logical thought shifts. One post that I've been thinking about for a while is about what it's like to be accused. I didn't think much on the rights of the accused before a few months ago. My perspective on rule of law and justice has changed. And I know myself just a little bit better.

In the next day or two I will post about what it's like to be accused. I don't think my experience is so unusual. At the rate our government is growing, unfortunately, some of you will experience it, too. I will leave you with this YouTube video, which was made several months ago. This is the bill that Obama just signed. Disgusting.
 
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