Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas Experiences

I was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook about giving your kids experiences instead of presents.  The idea being that our kids don't NEED anything, and they barely even WANT anything.  We are the type of family that kids have everything they could want and more than they NEED.  What to get them at Christmas then?  It's all fine and good to say we are going to scale back and  buy them less, but the practicality of it hasn't happened yet.  How to break that cycle?  

By giving experiences, we can solve this. They still have 12 prezzies under the tree.   They still get to open and be excited, but this time they get to experience this magic for a few hours to a day, once a month, all year long!



I began by determining 12 family friendly things that we would like to do in our area.  What am I willing to take the kids to.  What am I willing to drive to/ spend money on?  What are our current family favorites that we don't do as often? What new things might we like to try.  I researched each new thing to make sure that my kids were good / height/ weight/ and age requirements were met.  

Then, I wrote each thing on a small playing card sized piece of card stock.  On the back, I wrote any pre-requisites that I needed to say.  ( advance notice required, etc). Then, I stuck each card into a small envelope, and numbered the envelopes 1-12.  


I wrote my kids a letter describing what I was up to, and then hid the envelopes in the tree.  

On Christmas morning they will search the tree for the envelopes and each month we will pick one and do it!  


Friday, 29 November 2013

Black beans and rice

We love beans and rice!  Black beans, red beans, or well, any kinds of beans!
I have adapted a recipe that I found here..http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/moros-y-cristianos-cuban-style-black-beans-rice-10000001227867/

for my own purposes.  We can't do anything spicy, so I omit the tobasco sauce.
Also - I substitute the sherry vinegar for lemon juice (for Little Lady and her yeast allergy; we stay away from vinegars if we can.)

Serve on top of cooked white rice and enjoy!  

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Pies!!!

Traditionally, I make two pies on Thanksgiving.  An apple pie and a pumpkin pie.  This year, I struggled to find a good crust recipe that meets our requirements.  I did eventually find it.
It was delicious!  The recipe is here..

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-pie-crust-recipe

I did skip the ClearJel  (whatever that is!)  



The pies were SO good that we kept going back and having more.  I think Little Lady and I both had 4 slices!  Of each!  and my non-gluten free friends enjoyed them as well.  All in all?  Good pie crust recipe!  Great pies!  

Turkey


For years I've always done the Good Eats Roast Turkey from the food network.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html

It has never done me wrong!  However, this year, I had to make some changes.  
I substituted the brown sugar in the recipe for granulated maple syrup.  I also omitted the candied ginger altogether.  

I always make my gravy from the pan drippings and corn starch (in my handy dandy Thermomix!)  so I didn't have to change anything there.  


Stuffing (or dressing)


Stuffing is a staple Thanksgiving side dish in my house.  Everyone takes a scoop.  

Here's how I've made mine this year..

I left out my staple bread (see earlier blog posting) for a few hours on the counter.

In a small pan, I have sautéed tiny diced onions, green peppers and celery in olive oil.

When the bread was dry, I cut it into cubes.

Next, I mixed the bread cubes with the soft veggies.

Once it was mixed nicely, I added in salt and pepper.

When it was thoroughly mixed, I drizzled in hot vegetable broth (to keep it vegetarian)
until the mixture resembled the texture I wanted.



Fruit snacks



A word on fruit snacks.. By here ARE a few brands that meet our dietary needs!  No sugar, gluten free, and for little man- no coconut oil. 

Check them out...


Giving it a try... gluten free, yeast free, sugar free bread rolls

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes...


I am modifying each one to meet our dietary needs..  Lets see how it comes out..


Bread rolls...  I am trying (for the first time.. )  Food.com's yeast free bread rolls.
I am substituting their flour with King Arthur All purpose flour.

http://www.food.com/recipe/yeast-free-bread-rolls-111103  


I am a little skeptical as the batter is about the consistency of crepe batter.  The oven is heating up to 350.  We'll check back on this one in about 35 minutes or so...

They look done...  small, bite-sized mini rolls... :)

Light and fluffy inside...  

Taste test - these are ok.  Not to die for delicious, but definitely edible.  I'll have to tweak the recipe just a bit to make them perfect, but for a quick Thanksgiving roll to mop up gravy, it'll definitely do!  

** update**

Hubby just walked up and plundered one.  His response was "hey!  these are actually pretty good! "  
I have to take that as a huge compliment as he was the unwilling guinea pig to my earlier gluten free experiments and often tasted some pretty bad attempts!  (and that was not including the attempts that I threw away before he got them!)  

He likened them to an Indian idly... :)

Monday, 25 November 2013

Sandwich bread

It has taken a long time and a lot of experimentation to find a gluten free, yeast free, sugar free sandwich bread that we will happily eat.  I have pulled little tips and tricks from all over the web!

Here is my result...

3 1/2 cups gluten free flour ( I have been using cup for cup here, despite its price)
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 eggs ( or egg replacer) - I haven't tried the replacers yet
1 tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unflavored gelatin

Optional ( but add flavor!)
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried rosemary

I bake my bread in my bread machine

Combine all wet ingredients in bread pan.
Add baking powder and gelatin
Let proof for a minute or two while you get the flour and other dry ingredients.
Add all dry ingredients.

Bake on basic or white setting

-- I use a spatula in my machine while mixing, just to make sure all parts are mixed well. 




Our favorite way to eat it? Butter/ salt & pepper two slices ( remember to let it cool to room temp before slicing) thin slices of boiled potato, thin slices of tomato, and thin slices cucumber!  Yum!  

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A note on dairy products / cow products

Unfortunately, not all dairy products are created equal. This was a harder lesson for us to learn.

Strangely enough, or not, I guess if you really think about it, what a cow eats ends up in its milk and meat.  ( I guess if what a human eats ends up in breast milk, it's not so far a leap to consider cows too!). 

Therefore, if a cow eats wheat in its diet, it's meat and milk are tainted with gluten.  

Hmmmm....

So...  The quest for gluten free dairy products began..

Luckily for us, organic valley sells a grass milk and natural by nature does grass fed cow butter. ( they also do a ricotta cheese!)  We have also been able to find grass fed cow whipping cream. 

It is relatively easy for us to get grass fed cow beef at our local grocery store. But not so easy to determine what the chicken and pig have been eating. :( 

We make our yogurt at home using my handy yogurt maker from the grass milk. 

We are now on the lookout for grass fed cow sour cream.  

Breakfast: waffles


Gluten free, sugar free breakfast waffles


Before our diagnosis, breakfast was hard.  We'd wake up late, have a ton of things to do around the house and try to squeeze in breakfast before we jump in the car and head to school.  

As we eliminate allergens and eat healthier, the kids are sleeping better at night.  Now, many nights they sleep through and wake up refreshed!  We have a little more time in our morning routine.  One if the things that hasn't changed is my son's love of chocolate chip pancakes or waffles.  

After lots of fiddling around, here is my solution to that. 

I use either Namaste Food's or Pamela's gluten free pancake & waffle mix.  Pamela's seems to be better at handling the egg substitution than Namaste's does, but they are both yummy. 

We have a friend who's son has an also anaphylactic  egg allergy.  As we usually take him to school ( and eat our waffles in the car on many days) we routinely substitute 1/4 cup of applesauce in our mixes for each egg that is called for. 

We add in sugar free chocolate chips for my son, and bake them in the mix when we put it in the waffle iron.

I typically make enough to last the week ( one waffle per child per day) and then freeze them.  First I wrap them in tin foil, then stash them in a ziploc bag.  In the mornings we take one out, pop it in the toaster and go! 



Friday, 22 November 2013

Brazilian cheese bread

If you can take milk , egg & soy, I highly suggest these Brazilian bread rolls... 

Gluten free, sugar free, yeast free...


Gluten free, sugar free, yeast free.....

It's been a challenge to find things we can eat that fit all of our allergen no-no's. I decides to help myself and others by blogging recipes, brands and cookbooks that really help us out!  

My first recipe is a family fav and is really easy.  All you need is a bag of frozen mixed veggies, rice, water some spices.

Here is my version of Indian Pulao.

1.5 cups of rice
2 cups ( more or less) of frozen mixed veggies
3.5 cups of water
1 tsp turmeric ( can be omitted but gives good health benefits)
Salt to taste ( we use about 1 tsp) 

In a saucepan ( large) add your frozen veggies ...
Cook lightly for about 3 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent burning and sticking.  Add a little oil to help here if you prefer. 

After 3 minutes, add all other ingredients, cover and cook until rice is done.

Serve hot! We eat ours with homemade yogurt ( made from grass milk, of course). 





Sunday, 10 November 2013

Hello World! It's been a very long time!

It has been such a long time since I've had the time, or the inclination to blog!  I need to get back to my routine and get started feeling like I'm doing something other than teaching and cleaning my house!

What a crazy year it's been.  We moved back to Florida, (in case I didn't blog that before), and I now have a job teaching a split 4th/5th grade class with a total of 6 students!  Little Lady is in my class again this year, as she was last year when I had a class of 22 4th graders.  I love watching her and really getting to know my daughter.  She's such a joy to me, and I love her dearly.

This has been the year for allergies.  Last december, we found out that little man, little lady and I are all gluten intolerant.  So, we did the only sensible thing and went gluten free.  It wasn't easy, but a few months later, we had made the complete switch.  The kids and I still were suffering though, so we went to see an ENT for little man, who wanted to allergy test the kids.  We were curious, and anxious to get us all better once and for all, so we let him.  Turns out that amongst many other things, little man and little lady are allergic to cane sugar, yeast, brazil nuts, tobacco, coffee, peanuts, and (of course) wheat, rye & barley.  (molds, american cockroach, and dust are on the list too!)

So.... what do we eat now?  (If we add in the test that showed me allergic to dairy and eggs ) we can pretty much have water and air.  hm....


Ok.. lets be practical.  We've switched to GrassMilk and dairy products from grass fed cows (which I seem to be able to tolerate).  It's gluten free and yummy, so we're safe there.  All meats are now from grass fed sources only; therefore gluten free.  check.  Sandwich meats are ok as long as we check for gluten free first, so we're ok there.  Fresh fruits and veggies; preferably organic; check.  (Hubby has now setup an aquaponics system for me, and we are attempting to grow our own fruits and veggies!  )

We swap to almond butter and cashew butter (taking a while to get used to..)  Our jam was fine, as it's made with only fruit juice anyway.

Now.. What to do about bread?  (we are huge sandwich people)...  Udi's is no longer cutting it...
Pamela's has a recipe for a yeast free - sugar free - gluten free bread.  It uses their bread mixture though, which has sugar in it.  So..  I am trying that recipe but swapping out the flour in the Cup4Cup mixture, as it contains no sugar.  Lets see how that goes....

Little man is BIG on chocolate chip waffles for breakfast....  So.. Now I make the waffles with Pamela's pancake and waffle mix (which is sugar free), and bake sugar free chocolate chips on top.  I make enough for the whole week and freeze them.  When he wants one, he just pops one in the toaster and has a great time.  Little lady takes hers with pure maple syrup, which I mix into the batter for her before putting them into the waffle iron to bake.

Cereals have been harder, (what cereal DOESN"T have sugar these days?)  So we had to get plain old corn flakes and plain old puffed rice style cereal.  They can have oatmeal, but not the instant packages anymore, and cream of rice (wish they liked that!).  At this stage, I'm going to attempt to see if I can make some GF tortillas (the ones that you can buy in the store have sugar in them) and make breakfast burritos to freeze.

So... As I rid my pantry and freezer of items that seem to be toxic to my children, I am hoping that we will soon be our amazing selves again.  Eating at home is the easy part..  eating out is the hard part.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Laundry!

Hubby made me this wonderful table for my laundry room!  I throw clothes from the dryer on it to sort and fold.  Under my table, I bought these large white rolling ( yes! They have wheels!) laundry bins. N2 for each of us.  I wrote our names on one side with colorful sharpies, and our titles on the other...  

Now, one of each of our bins sits under the table waiting to get filled with clean laundry, while the other one sits in our closets getting filled with dirty laundry.  When our dirty one is full, we drag it into the laundry room, where we sort it into the waiting bins for white, light colors, dark colors, sheets and towels. 

We take our clean bin out, replace it with our now empty one and drag the clean one to our rooms where we put it all away.  Then we start all over again!

Nice huh?  

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

It's been so long since I've blogged

I'm sorry!  It's been so long since I blogged, or even had the compulsion to blog, it's crazy!
My family and I went on vacation at Christmas and I was offered a job (that I thought would be my DREAM job) so the kids and I stayed and took the shot.  Turns out the job isn't really my dream job, or rather it's my dream job in the wrong place.  However, I learned AN AWFUL LOT!  Now we're coasting a bit, trying to see what's next.  In the meantime, we're building a koi pond on our property and fixing a bunch of issues with the house.  We are also working toward putting a second floor in the house to link the two rooms above the garages into the house instead of keeping them as separate mother-in-law suites.

On another note...

I was thinking the other day that I don't have a comprehensive list of books that I like; the series I've read, or more importantly so, which series have new books in them for me to read!  So, I thought that my blog would be the best place for me to compile such a list!

Books in a Series

Born Wicked
Grave Mercy
City of Glass (Mortal Instruments Series)
Beautiful Creatures
Reached
Hunted - House of Night Series
Wicked Lovely Series
Delirium Series
Fallen
The Selection
Crossed
50 Shades of Grey
A season of Love (Kauffman Amish )
Insurgent
Taken by Storm
Coexist (Keegan's Chronicles)
Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series
Vampire Diaries Series
Hunger Games

Rick Riordan Books (Percy Jackson and spin offs)
Jean M. Auel books
Harry Potter
The Mysterious Benedict Society
39 Clues
The Secret Circle
Ruler of the World
A Passion Denied Series


Single books I loved...

The False Prince
shadow and Bone
The Host
Moonstone



--Ok, I have to run before I finish this, but I will take it up again tomorrow (I think).  I am going to add the titles of each book into the mix (in order) and that will hopefully help me determine if I'm missing any!