Thank you Mr. Lewis

Some hate him. Some worry about what he’s written and wonder about the man’s sanity. Some say he couldn’t possibly be a Christian due to what he appeared to believe on several topics. And others love him. He had that uncanny skill of putting into words with clarity some of the deepest language of the heart, melding logic and mind, heart and emotions into something that made sense.

Lewis comforts my heart. He makes me smile and say “Yes, That is what I wished to say but had no words” He captures a beauty and elegance of the language he loved while being precise and cutting to the very core of a subject.

I am sitting on the balcony of our hotel viewing a FL Beach this AM. I watched the sun come up. Been a long time since I watched a sunrise. This proverbial night owl traditionally would far rather watch the sun set than rise. I decided to drag myself out of bed this AM (I bribed myself with two cups of coffe. Yes, I bribe myself and yes, it works. Don’t judge me)  and it was very worth it. The beauty in the sound and motion of the waves combined with the delicate and then boldly brilliant light of the sun made for a morning that fed my soul. And made me think of Lewis. Since my efforts at putting some of the thoughts and concepts that ran through my head would fall woefully short I am instead going to dedicate this post to Lewis and fill it with some quotes of his that capture some concept, feeling, thought or idea that rings true within me.

Thank you Mr. Lewis for saying what I cannot.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

“This moment contains all moments.”
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained”

“The very man who has argued you down, will sometimes be found, years later, to have been influenced by what you said”

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again”

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Hope you have a wonderful day. Take moments to enjoy something beautiful. Slow down enough to take a deep breath and smile. Enjoy a simple pleasure even if it is something so small and utterly precious as the spontaneous hug from your child or something as simple as watching a colorful leaf twirl to the ground. Call it your mini vacation within the moments of an otherwise hectic, stressful, sad, busy or blah life. And if you are one of fortunate of the moment like me luxuriate in a day filled with beauty, laughter, joy and relaxation.

 

Easy-Peasy: The Confession of a Compromising Traditionalist

Sooo…Far from the Traditional Foods Diva I hope, dream and aspire to be my reality lately has been more along the lines of frazzled house-wife doing good to get food. Any food. Cooked and on the table for my family to eat.

I am attempting to come to term’s with this new and hopefully temporary phase of my life. This ‘phase’ where there is literally no time to spend preparing the from scratch spread’s I have been known to produce in times past.  Not just from scratch foods, but also foods that are the kindest to my budget. Right now, compromise is what is getting me through.

There has been guilt. A lot. Here I am blogging about traditional foods. Or SUPPOSED to be blogging about traditional foods and I am doing next to nothing with traditional, from scratch food preparations lately. So I’ve been hiding from my blog. Today however it was decided that I should write about my current kitchen Motto which is “Easy-Peasy” Don’t laugh. That’s a real term in my world. The yardstick with which I  measure any and all kitchen or food related projects.

Here is a break-down of what easy-peasy means in my life right now.

Easy-Peasy means buying cultured butter from grass-fed cow’s for our daughter. I found it at Whole Foods as a “limited time” item. Since it’s limited I bought several packages and put the extra’s in the freezer. Don’t know how long this seasion of my life is going to last where even making a single batch of my own butter is unrealistic but just incase it’s longer than I hope it is, There’s the freezer stash. This particular butter is so expensive my husband and I don’t eat it but use it for Doodlebug since it is especially important for growing children to have cultured butter.  TheMan and I, and most of our house-guests use sea-salted butter purchased from Trader Joe’s that is from pastured cow’s but not cultured. It’s a lot cheaper.

Easy-Peasy means I’m not making my own yogurt right now from our (cheap) raw milk. I’m buying the full fat, cream on top, organic, grass-fed (when I can find it) by the quart or cup or whatever I can get my hands on for sale. I prefer the cups right now because they are the perfect serving size for Doodlebug and she has gotten to where she can help herself to it now which means I don’t have to take the time to serve it up and break the flow of momentum with whatever else I’m doing.

Easy-Peasy means my home Kombucha operation got shut down until further notice. Instead of drinking it by the gallon we now drink it by the carefully rationed bottle full. I had forgotten how very expensive Kombucha is to buy! So it’s now the occasional, rare actually, treat.

Easy-peasy means the crock pot hardly see’s a day of rest anymore. I do a huge thing of dried organic beans in it about once a week and season them heavily. We then add the beans in some way as an accent or the main feature to meals all during the rest of the week. It’s cheap, it’s fast and I don’t have to stand over it for hours getting it just right. Just to clarify, these are not beans I took the time to sprout. They are thoroughly soaked in Whey water but once the Whey runs out it’ll just be soaked in plain ol’ water again like in the olden times before I knew what Whey was. =P If the bean’s aren’t taking up crock pot space bone broth is. If it isn’t bone broth it’s soup with bean and broth in it. If it isn’t soup it’s roast an if it isn’t roast…well, you get the idea. My easy-peasy life relies heavily on the crock pot.

Easy-peasy means I am not learning how to make my own gluten free recipes with all the failures and tweakings that go along with that process. Instead I am buying gluten free mixes (after carefully vetting for other undesirable ingredients first) Hands down my favorites for both price, taste and ingredient listings are from Trader Joe’s. If you substitute Organic, Extra Virgin Coconut oil and coconut milk in the place of water and veggie oil in their Brownie Mix it produces moist, gooey brownies that are to DIE for. I never knew a mix could taste that good. Oh and extra Vanilla. Don’t forget the extra splash of Vanilla. Trader Joe’s gluten free Pancake and Waffle mix is also delicious for both of those items but can be converted as well into a crumb topping for cobblers and other delicious gluten free items. Quite the versatile base mix.

Easy-peasy means I am buying sprouted grain bread from Whole Foods for TheMan and Doodlebug (and household guests) to eat instead of making my own. I’ve found two types at Whole Foods that I am comfortable enough with their ingredient listings to do this guilt free. Easy-Peasy means I am buying my own gluten free bread from Whole Foods as well. Since it does cost more for bread bought vs. made we eat less of it and more cheap brown rice and quinoa as filler grains.

Easy-peasy means my veggie garden is now returning to the yard from whence it came with nothing edible growing in it at all. This makes me sad and I hope gardening returns to my life soon. It’s been fun to dabble in gardening and eating what was grown here on our own property by our own hands is especially satisfying.

Easy-peasy means I am going to stop blogging and go pack for a week long business trip to Chicago. Oh wait, nevermind, that is one of the things forcing me to do everything else easy-peasy!

Until next time,

Sincerely,

Love,

Hugs,

Fond thoughts and wishes,

God Bless,

The De-Railed-Detained and otherwise Distracted Traditional Foods Adventurer

Me N The Doodlebug

Me N The Doodlebug


Fail(s)

Way back when I first started this blog I promised to post successes as well as failures. Although not purposefully, I’ve been falling down on the fail confessions lately. It’s just so much more exciting to write and share about something that actually WORKS vs. something that definitely doesn’t. =P

I haven’t had too many horrible fails in the realm of cooking traditional foods with no limitations on available ingredients.  Meaning, I’ve had the luxury of using the “ideal” or “best recommended” ingredient without having to seriously modify things in deference to food allergies. The new realm of Gluten free cooking however seems to have brought out the “fail” big time. Part of it is I’m just rebel enough not to follow the tried and true paths carefully carved out before me by gluten-free kitcheonistas that have gone on before. Just seems too…easy? So, I’ve been trying to plow my own way and experiencing quite a few fails along the way.

So to spare any of you that feel the urge to experiment with this or that let me share some of the not-so-great things that have happened in my kitchen the past few weeks.

Just last night ~ Fried Okra. Normally I season some wheat flour, toss the freshly diced okra in it, allow it to “sit” for a while so the slimy juice stuff binds with the flour to form a nice light crust when fried. So last night I tried the same routine with gluten free sorghum flour. It did *not* stick to the okra very well and fell of in it’s entirety when frying was attempted. Next time will try it with a binder like a light egg coating, or a light batter made with the flour before frying and hope that sticks better. Or maybe I’ll just find a tried and true gluten free recipe somewhere for fried Okra and play it safe. But only as a last resort, of course.

Sorghum flour Fail 1 was shortly followed by Sorghum flour Fail 2 ~ I took the seasoned leftover Sorghum flour after the okra had used what it needed. Added some raw cream and patted it out into a little dough patty. The rest of the family was having grilled cheese crisps on whole wheat tortillas and I was feeling a bit left out. The little dough patty was set upon the cast iron skillet with some butter to cook. It promptly began to fall apart. With some skillful persuasion with my spatula while cooking it managed to semi stay intact enough to  make it to my plate. With melted cheese on top it was Ok. Not a miserable fail but certainly not what I was going for either. Again, gotta work on figuring out effective binders for gluten free flours.

~Over-zealous-Culturing~ I made a batch of whole, raw milk yogurt the other evening. It’s been a habit of mine to add extra good bacteria in addition to the yogurt starter and the great bacteria that is already in high quality raw milk. A couple of capsules of Colostrum assures that the end yogurt is thicker and not as runny as it would be otherwise and a Capsule of the Pro-biotic blend Tummy Tune Up for good measure. Over-kill if you will. This has not backfired on me until recently and I ended up with thick, custardy, bubbly yogurt/cream cheese-ish globs coming through the top of the cloth I had rubber banded to the gallon jug.  The flavor was rich and since it was already halfway there I went ahead and made yogurt cheese out of it. Still. Totally qualifies as a yogurt making “fail”

Over-Cultured Raw Milk Yogurt Bubbling out the Top of Gallon Jug

Over-Cultured Raw Milk Yogurt Bubbling out the Top of Gallon Jug

~Baked Squash~ There are a few success recipes/formulations of this that came out of my experiments for another blog-post. But, the “fail” deserves to be mentioned here. For several weeks our CSA baskets have had a delicious, mild summer squash unlike anything I’ve ever used before. The first week I thin sliced it, layered it in a glass pyrex baking dish. Each layer was given a drizzle of Organic Olive Oil, or a few pats of butter, and generously sprinkled with seasonings. Put into the oven and baked the end result was delicious. Never one to leave a good thing alone I decided that although it was really good that way, Cheese would take it to a whole new level. The next week’s squash experiment included a handful of shredded pepper-jack cheese on top. That DID take it to a whole new level of decadence so I went truly wild next time. Dolluped among the layers of seasonings was some Salsa, just a little…And to top the whole heavenly thing off, fresh, whole mozzarella cheese. The kind that comes still floating like a creamy bubble of pleasure in a protective blanket of whey. Thick slices of this stuff were carefully arranged on top and then baked.  Excitedly anticipating the crowning achievement of my previous squash dishes it was very sad when I poked the fork in for the first bite. The mozzarella had become very rubbery/over-baked and seemed to have had a bad reaction with the Salsa/juices from the squash. My one consolation was that at least it was flavorful, if a total fail on the texture side of things.

Squash layered in pan with Whole Milk Motzarella Cheese thick sliced and layered on top

Squash layered in pan with Whole Milk mozzarella Cheese thick sliced and layered on top

Over-baked Motzarella Cheese topped Squash. Flavor great. Texture not-so-much

Over-baked mozzarella Cheese topped Squash. Flavor great. Texture not-so-much

Now you are all caught up on my most recent not-so-great kitchen projects. Next post shall feature something fail proof and yummy! =D

TeaTrap AKA Teavana

I love tea. And Coffee. But mostly tea. It’s so difficult to make a perfect cup of smooth, low acid, not bitter coffee that glides down without having to be doused in flavorings, syrups, cream etc. to be delicious. Although the hobby of pursuing coffee perfection is still alive and well in my life; tea is my constant, dependable, comfortable companion.  A dear friend first introduced me to the tradition, art, and enjoyment of a fine cup of tea years ago while I was still in my teens. Her legacy of tea enjoyment has lived on in my life and is now something I enjoy on an almost-daily-basis with both TheMan and Doodles.

Tea pardons a multitude of brewing sins. Tea comes in such a vast array of flavors, packages, mixes, blends, there is truly something for everyone. I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for the poor souls who’s only experience with tea is limited to Lipton and perhaps the chance encounter once upon a time with their Great Aunt’s favorite Earl Gray.

Personally I love the adventure of flavors that comes with tea tasting/testing. Experimenting with loose vs. bagged. Pre-mixes vs. making my own. Pretty much the whole she-bang. I’ve bought teas by the lb. from such wonderful on-line businesses as http://www.morethanalive.com. I’ve tried every tea blend Traditional Medicinals makes, picked my favorites and keep them stocked in my cabinet. I am three brands away from having tried every single brand of pre-mixed Chai I’ve ever seen (barring the ones that say “artificial flavorings” cuz that just doesn’t count as real tea in my book).

With my ever increasing tea experience it was time for an excursion into the holy-land of Tea. That place you smell before you see. The one that gives out free samples of it’s wares right outside it’s door because nothing sells truly good tea better than the tea itself. What is this place you might ask? This place of wonderous free-samples-of-tea? The sign says Teavana. Set back at the very end of the store, past stone age relic-esque cast iron tea pots, and the more modern looking tea pots (all with price tags large enough to make your wallet shudder) is The Wall. The Wall is literally floor to ceiling shelves supporting large containers of…Yup, You guessed it. Tea. But not just any tea. Only the finest (so says the brochure). Supposedly composed of only the top 10% of teas from around the world those boxes house an olfactory journey that will take you into indescribable realms. High on the scent of vanilla with warm undertones of caramel, carried along on a happy day dream punctuated with peach, apricot and ginger the cleverly trained spell casters, er, store staff coax their unsuspecting victims, that is to say, customers into a dreamy haze in which the question of whether or not to purchase vanishes in light of the more pressing and urgent decisions of black vs. white, Oolong vs. Green, or Mate, Herbal or Roobois for the base of the heavenly blends they’ll create just for you. Right before your very eyes. Or, more importantly, noses. In this state, and in light of the (out-of-this-real world of inflation that we live in) marvelous prices I had more recently been paying for tea at the a fore mentioned website of http://www.morethanalive.com it is little wonder that my brain made the very reasonable assumption that the prices posted clear as day below the boxes were based upon pounds. Even at the assumed base of price per pound my frugal side winced a bit at some, cringed at others, shrugged and made peace on a handful of others before deciding upon which tea(s) to take home.

Having already decided to treat ourselves to some “Special tea” after entering the tea lair my friend and I put our not-so-clear by this point heads together and made our selections. Promising ourselves that we would just get a small bag of each to sample before coming back to get some in greater quantities. Positively giddy in anticipation we watched as they carefully measured out, weighed and mixed each of our custom tea’s. Clutching our little bags we waited in line to check out discussing which tea we would try first upon our arrival home. I don’t remember which one of us exactly first registered the total on the cash register. But I do clearly recall the mutual alarm in the looks we flashed each other. Our price assumptions were horribly, terribly wrong. Those were not price per POUNDS it was Prices per OUNCE. Oh yes, for certain types of the top ten percent of all tea in the world it is sold by the ounce for outrageous sums of money. Thankfully we had been trying to be semi frugal, even when assuming it was price per pound so the damage was not nearly as bad as it could have been. But still. For a few, very few ounces of tea the total loomed before us. It was fifty something-ish dollars before taxes. Horror dawned on us as we realized that this was not an item one could simply back out of purchasing at the last minute. A minor inconvenience for some staff person to re-stock. Oh no, nobody could re-stock these. These were our custom blends. That they had mixed for us only minutes before. Potential embarrassment and shame looming we forked over our money and walked out in stunned silence.

Back in the relative safety of the main walk-way of the mall with it’s varied vendors hawking hand creams from Israel and foreign language study programs my friend finally found her voice. “We tell no one. No one is ever to know what we just spent on TEA.” I swallowed hard and tried to mentally calculate how many months of skipping out on the occasional coffee treat I would have to go through in order to make up the blow to my budget that the mockingly light bags of tea had dealt. Numbly nodding I agreed to her command. Yes, it was best that we simply keep to ourselves the fact that we failed to notice the apparently also as obvious as the nose on your face “oz” markings and had been, in effect, conned into buying a three tiny bags of tea for a not so tiny bit of cash.

As time has passed however, and I stopped blushing every time I saw the little bags of tea hovering together like orphans in my freezer I decided it was time to pass along our story to others. There might be some other poor soul making her pilgrimage to that place. Lest she get swept away on the aromas they so carefully fan in your face as we did, it is only right that I throw myself under the bus of public humiliation and share our story. Technically since I didn’t give the exact total and my friend is still completely anonymous I haven’t breached her forcefully issued edict. I’m pretty sure she’ll still be fairly flustered and maybe even a little indignant when she reads this though.

In honor of finally making this story public I made a pot of the Peach, Apricot and Ginger black tea we bought. As the smell as rich as the flavor of the tea itself washed over me I felt all residual self inflicted recrimination melt away and the internal monologue began.

Hot Cup of Tea

Hot Cup of Tea

“Little wonder really… (inhale)…Maybe it was even worth it…(tiny sip)…(inhale)…It did only take me six months to repair the damage to my grocery budget…(inhale…happy sigh)…I bet even TheFriendWhoShallNotBeNamed might think it’s worth it now. It did result in a great story. An experience really. We can tell our Grandchildren we bought __ ounces of tea for $5____ Of course by then $5____ will be worth about fifty something pennies if inflation keeps up….I’ll just fix her a pot of this and serve it before I show her the blog post…(Sip sip)…Nobody can get too mad while inhaling this…and actually drinking it! Oh! the flavor…Yes, it was an experience alright, one of those experiences and memories that money just can’t buy…”

Even though my personal experience with Teavana left my wallet wondering what hit it I still highly recommend it for anbyody that does truly love tea. Save your pennies, or dollars even, go in knowing the difference between pounds and ounces and enjoy the experience. Their well trained staff can literally invent you a tea if you just describe to them what you love. It’s an indulgence every tea lover should experience at least once in their lives.

The rest of the time the frugality and quality of http://www.morethanalive.com’s teas are more than tea-bliss enough for me. My budget is a lot happier too.

Doodles enjoying herbal tea and a Cookie/scone

Doodles enjoying herbal tea and a Cookie/scone

Tired, Weary and Bleary: An Experience in Vulnerability

I have an autoimmune disease. My adrenals are shot. My Vit. D levels are in the basement and way below the bare minimum required to support good health. There are about a lot more tests I need to have done to get a bigger and more accurate picture of what is going on with my messed up, screwed up, crazy body.  It’s going to cost a lot of money but it has to be done at this point.  Over the years I’ve spent a lot of money on this ol’ fleshly house without many solutions or answers to show for the sundry problems my body has presented me with. Do I sound frustrated? That is probably because I am sometimes. Tonight happens to be one of those times and you my unsuspecting blog reader shall subsequently have to endure some verbal spewing on the subject.

Most women struggle with body image. Body self esteem. Accepting the understanding that they are inherently valuable and beautiful just because they are women and as such something special and to be treasured. We all have our memories and those pivotal moments in our childhood or youth when we first became self conscious. First felt inferior. First became aware of the sinister reality that the world was geared to respond well to beauty and and not so much to plainness or even flat out homeliness. Then there is the other side of the coin. The side where there is a realization of a certain amount of beauty, a certain awareness that one or two or five aspects of your looks are pretty exceptional attributes. Especially for those raised with the concepts of modesty, decency and a fear factor when it came to creating problems or temptations with men there can be a whole host of insecurities and fears tied up in those ideals. For these women instead of asking “Do I look good in this?” or “Does this make my already pronounced rear look even bigger??” their self doubt questions are more along the lines of “Does this draw too much attention to my already attention getting bust?” “Does this reach long enough? Are people going to think I’m being indecent because of this?” It is as though womankind, regardless of which end of the spectrum they are coming from or even if they are some jumbled up mess of both ends  is destined to be over aware and struggle to have an emotionally healthy and positive view of themselves.

Image aside there are certain undefined, unspoken expectations most women have of their bodies. Some are rather futile feeling hopes (accompanied with the knowledge that there are those women in the world that are blessed with this as a reality) that a monthly visitor won’t include any pain, discomfort or bloating. We expect our bodies to have the capacity to support reproduction. We expect our bodies, when treated with respect and care to function in daily life without excess pain or discomfort. We expect to be able to set reasonable weight and fitness goals, work hard and attain them.

Or maybe that was just me that had those expectations.

In hindsight my poor ol’ bod wasn’t treated very well. My life has had a lot of stress. I internalize most negative emotions and tend to have delayed emotional processing of bad or stressful situations. Until the past couple of years my diet has been pretty horrible. Although a life long fan of sleep in my late teens and early twenties I often went a couple of days at a time with no sleep at all until crashing to sleep sometimes 24 hours straight in a sleep-catch-up marathon. There were months long periods where I averaged about 3 hours of sleep per night. I discovered caffeine and coffee became my weapon of choice. Back then I didn’t know a good brew of smooth coffee even existed and drank some of the most bitter, burnt and acidic gallons of coffee you can imagine as a means to the end of requiring less sleep. (The above routine is, for those of you who don’t know it, the prescribed method for rapidly burning out even a healthy adrenal system. Not good. Pass the word along. )

Despite the physical appearance of being a very healthy child I had some semi chronic health issues that required the use of pharmaceuticals all through my life. First two years of life were punctuated by antibiotics and surgeries for tubes due to chronic ear infections. Later came the asthma and lung complications that at least once or twice a winter resulted in me being on steroids or antibiotics or both a couple of times per winter. The inhalers and allergy medications were also par for the course. In my early teens after months of the rather dangerous problem of randomly losing consciousness at various times I was finally given the hard earned (after dozens of tests by various medical experts) title of having Neurally Mediated Syncopy. Which was simply a fancy way of saying my brain randomly decided to tell my heart to stop supplying blood to the brain. Rather suicidal of my brain but it wouldn’t listen to reason. =P This resulted in being put on yet another slew of pharmaceuticals designed to help me manage the array of symptoms that went with this syndrome. Fast forward a few years after that and add a year of chemical birth control in early marriage to the mix. Just reading through the list of documented/potential side effects of all the medications I’ve been on in my life is enough to make my eyes cross and vow to never swallow another pill ever again.

All that to say. My body has not had good nutritional support and it’s actually had a lot of help in the opposite direction, actual support in developing some of it’s chronic issues. As a result my body has not cooperated with those undefined reproductive expectations. I have had numerous miscarriages. That we have a daughter with us here on earth is nothing short of a miracle and was called such by my Dr. at the time.  My body does not perform well on a daily basis. There is fatigue, at times debilitating, extreme, mind numbing fatigue. Muscle and joint aches. Lethargy so thick you can cut it with a knife. Muscle weakness. I remember being so surprised to learn that running, as in, just running across the yard to pick up a ball was not uncomfortable or painful for most people. Running at all for me has = pain and discomfort even in my childhood. I just thought everybody had that and that most were better at pushing through discomfort than I was. In my adulthood I read about physically active people having to develop mental discipline and push through the pain and discomfort. Of throwing up after a good workout. At various points in time I decided to suck it up, and do what I needed to do to attain physical fitness. I pushed myself hard and was usually rewarded by heat exhaustion, asthma attack/coughing fit or losing consciousness. Needless to say I did not try this all too often and have led, by and large a sedentary life.

To sum up this long, sad tale of depressing self pity…I haven’t just had insecurities about my looks. About my chubbiness, or weight that was always higher than that of my peers. About my nose that was too big and my bushy eye brows that looked like they were constantly brooding and trying to hatch a plot to take over the rest of my face. About my clumsiness and lack of coordination.  About my super squinty eyes that are puffy 99% of the time. I have been disappointed in every other functionality of my body as well. Those hips that I always comforted myself as being good for child-bearing turned out to be a big chubby dud. That regular as clock-work indicators of my genetically pre-disposed rabbit like fertility was nothing but a false assurance. In almost every way imaginable I have felt like a failure as a woman. I have experienced deep seated self frustration and self hate. Asked all the deeply emotional and illogical questions of God. Looked at the image in the mirror with loathing. I have wondered and questioned if only I had done or had not done xyz would some of our children be alive.

And I have been frustrated. Managing and owning a health supplement company and the roller coaster educational ride that has completely redefined my world. My body is now getting the nutritional support it needed for so long. Many of the underlying issues that are causing my body the plethora of miserable symptoms are being addressed via supplements and alternative resources. But, although there is always hope, in some ways it feels like very little that might possibly be too late. Autoimmune diseases cannot be cured. One cannot deactivate a gene that has been activated. However, it can be neutralized and I know of quite a few people with various autoimmune diseases who have lived symptom free for years. The body is constantly seeking to normalize and optimize it’s performance so the key to that thing we call a magic cure is to find what tools the body needs to obtain optimal functionality with your particular body and make sure that there are lot’s and lot’s of those raw materials around for the body to use. First to heal, repair, do damage control, build up some reserves and then get to work actually making you FEEL better. All of this is very good news on the physical side of things. I do have hope that one day my body won’t feel the need to stockpile weight like it’s going out of style and that I will actually regain a waistline again.

And yet, I still feel frustrated. Still sometimes feel betrayed. But you know what? Those are just feelings. And feelings I CAN deal with. Right here and right now. I don’t have to wait for my body to normalize to healthy and fully functional first. I don’t have to wait for those workouts to start paying off. This can be combated with truth in the here and now.

The truth is I am blessed.

I have two feet that carry me where I need to go.

I have the ability to play with my precious little girl and take her for walks.

I am able to jump up and down, to bumble through dance steps with my man and to sing at the top of my lungs.

I am able to cook, draw, play the piano, write and anything else I want to do in the creative realm.

I am able to eat healthy and delicious foods.

I can smile with the confidence and radiance that only a woman who knows she is loved unconditionally by her man can have.

I can hold, cuddle, kiss and care for the Doodlebug.

I can have joy. I can have peace. I can be content. I can trust. I can believe.

That I am beautiful. From the inside out. I am who I am supposed to be. The past is the past and I cannot undo what is done. Our babies cannot be brought back. I believe somehow, somewhere it is all for our good and theirs although I cannot understand the why or how behind that concept.

Contentment is something I used to think was a gift. That some people were born having and others were not. I believe now it’s a skill. As much of a mental and emotional discipline as it is anything else. This is a skill I am committing to actively learning and practicing. Contentment. It is an amazing thing to obtain. I theorize that the feeling a person get’s at the end of a marathon…After all the hours of training, blood, sweat and tears. The mental discipline and the day in and day out follow through required to condition their bodies…That feeling at the end though has got to be similar to a person who has conquered the emotional marathon that is contentment.

I challenge every woman who has made it this far into reading this (and by the way you totally deserve an endurance metal just for that!) to seek truth. Specific, exact, freedom based truth for every fear, insecurity, self doubt and disappointment that you have about yourself. Whether it be personality, body, looks or whatever. Specific truth for specific emotional bonds that we find ourselves in can be earth shatteringly freeing. Once a truth is found that combats a particular problem or self-struggle please take the time to write it down.

Make a list. Memorize the list. Speak truth to yourselve when you are going through one of those life workouts that tend to obliterate any vestige of emotional contentment that you have been able to summon. Practice the mental skill of speaking truth to yourself and then believing it and then acting upon it emotionally. Find an accountability partner, someone who will speak truth to you when you are too tired, weary or bleary to see anything but mountains of negativity. Learn to love the person God has created you to be. Skinny or chubby, long or short, average or exceptional…Learn the “good” side to whatever coin you have been given and find contentment there. Contentment does not come from obtaining some particle of perfection, contentment comes when we accept and find joy and happiness in the imperfections. When we can recognize the good and the beauty that is more clearly shown and reflected back in our woefully imperfect selves and lives.

I wish you grace, peace and freedom! =) And a Good-Night, Good-Afternoon or Good-Morning!

Peace Passes Understanding

As some of you know TheMan and I have been pursuing adoption for the past few months. About a week ago we were made aware of a situation involving a baby that would need a home.  Things have moved fast and we are leaving in a couple of hours to the airport to fly to CA.  The baby is due by C-section on June 22nd.

The unknowns in this situation are staggering. The cost(s) are adding up rapidly. This hasn’t been something that we have had the luxury of weeks or months to prepare for.

To be honest this scares me. I like plans. I need plans. Everything I do has an itemized structure to it with a beginning, middle and end. I make lists. Lots of lists. Lists are my friends. Lists pick up where my bad memory leaves off.

This wasn’t the plan. The plan was for an adoption to take a long time. To finally get that homestudy we’ve been working our way through. Wait weeks and months to be picked out among other waiting families by a Birth Mom. Prepare and countdown the months until the baby is born. Trust God to provide the rather large sum of money it was going to take to do an official agency adoption.

That is a pretty safe plan. A lot of buffers. A lot of time to process. And make lists. Lot’s of lists. And be ready.  Although that official process doesn’t come with anymore of a guarantee than any other form of adoption, there are safety measures. A lot of counseling provided to the Birth Mom. A lot of effort put into her and the babies health as much as possible. Loving Christian Foster families to take care of the baby for that oh so terrifying period of time that the Birth Mom can decide to revoke her decision to allow someone else to raise her child. The Agency encouraged us to take advantage of every single one of these “less painful” processes.

I thought that was a great idea for the most part. It made sense. It felt safe.

This isn’t safe. It is about as risky as an adoption get’s. And there is no time. No buffers.

Yet. There is peace. Confident peace. Doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t add up. I’m defininitely swimming waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone in every respect in regards to how this is happening.

But it’s Ok.

And not because I believe it’s all going to be a bed of roses and work out exactly like we want it to.

It’s Ok because we are doing what we need to do.

What we are supposed to do.

And the peace that passes comprehension, understanding and categorization is there.

It’s like a stillness in the midst of chaos.

Tranquility in a traffic jam. Happiness in pain. Calm in a storm.

So we go. We hope to be able to meet with the Birth Mother. I’m asking God to do that for us. It doesn’t feel right to ask or expect any Mom to give her baby to people she’s never met. I want her to see the love we have. I want her to know it’s there. I don’t want there to ever be a hint of a question in her mind that her baby is being taken care of.

We hope that she decides to allow us to have the honor of loving, caring for, training and watching this baby grow up into an adult. We hope the Birth Mom decides to allow us to be there at the hospital so we can hold her right away and learn to care for her from the very beginning. We (selfishly) hope that she waives her right to 30 days in which to change her mind after giving the baby to us. We hope our hearts are spared the pain of loving and then letting go. We hope a lot of things. We are guaranteed none of them.

And that’s Ok.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6-7
So instead of lists, I’m making a lot of requests be known to God. And you know what? The peace of God, which surpasses all my understand is guarding my heart. It’s a beautiful and miraculous thing for me to experience.
Please pray for us as we take this very much unknown path. Especially for TheMan, who already loves this baby very much and the Doodlbug who is beside herself at the thought that God might give our family a baby. I can’t think of a better and more capable big sister than the Doodlebug is going to be. 
Time for me to do a last minute luggage check before dozing off for a few ZZzzzz’s before our airport run. Will be posting more in the days to come.

Cakes for the Pan with Golden Sauce and Gluten Free Me

So life got crazy. Crazier I should say. A lot going on in addition to the usual things that keep our lives interesting on a daily basis. My chronically semi poor health has been an on-going journey in pursuit of solutions the past couple of years. The last few weeks have revealed some long sought after answers. Part of my “new” lifestyle and diet is going gluten free. Although I am not strictly gluten free (for example I’ll eat something processed on machinery that also processes wheat and do not require it to be certified gluten free) for all practical purposes gluten is gone from my daily life.

This has had, as you might imagine a catastrophic effect upon this wheat lovin’ creator of doughy delicacies. I mean, I put flour in everything. Every meal has some sort of grain that includes gluten. So. New challenge in my life is to learn to bake gluten free. And relatively cheap. Need to collect the basic supplies and start working on that. In the meantime I’ve resorted to some “cheat” pre-mixes and things like whole rice noodles until I get a grasp on making grain based gluten free products myself.

I’ve continued making healthy glutenous meals for those I love and those who just happen to be around when I cook for those I love. We had company this past week. Well, actually, we had a LOT of out of town company. As in, company every single day and night last week. But, one batch of company in particular partook of one of my favorite breakfasts ever. Soaked Wheat Pancakes with Blueberries drizzled in a Honey/MapleSyrup/Butter blend.  These can be transformed into dessert realms by the addition of carob or even chocolate chips, fresh strawberries and raw whipped cream drizzled with chocolate “shoup” as the Doodles calls it, AKA Syrup (Sans HFCS of course).  But. That is purely a personal decision whether or not to descend into such depths of decadence. I originally got this recipe from Nourishing Traditions but made some adaptations to it along the way to get the results and flavors I wanted.

Cakes for the Pan: The Blue Jewel Version

2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 cups yogurt from whole milk (Homemade is best from Raw milk! Can also substitute with Buttermilk or Whey. Yogurt yields the best flavor though)
2 eggs slightly beaten (Farm Fresh, Free Range eggs are the best. Gotta love those yolks so rich they are literally orange)
1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt/real salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. Baking Power (Aluminum Free)

2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter (DO NOT use Margarine or any fake butter blend! Can substitute with Organic Coconut Oil )

2 tsp. Real Vanilla

Pinch (or two) of unrefined turbinado or other raw sugar

Extra Raw (or un-homogenized but pasteurized) Milk (can substitute with water) If needed

Fresh or Frozen Organic Blueberries. As many as you want.

Directions: Combine Flour and Yogurt in a bowl, rubber band a damp towel over the top and put in a warm spot. My dehydrator gets too hot so I usually pre-heat my oven to 350, slide the ceramic bowl in and shut the door quickly before turning the oven off. It stays warm enough for most of the night that way. Also set out the eggs you will need for the next day if you are one of those that still keeps your eggs refrigerated. You’ll need them room temp. in order for the dough to mix well the next morning!

When you wake up and are tempted to bat the alarm clock off for an extra round of sleep just imagine how delicious those blueberries coddled in dough are doing to taste and stumble on out of bed. If you have gone microwave free like me put the chunks of butter in a bowl and slide into the toaster oven for a few minutes until it’s gently warmed to a golden puddle of liquid. Combine remaining dry ingredients together and work into presoaked dough blob. Don’t be surprised if the dough has a brownish/darkish coating over the top, it’s perfectly normal. Just mix it in and it won’t negatively affect the end product at all either in taste or looks.

Whisk remaining liquid ingredients together and stir into the dough. If the dough is too thick (mine usually is) add milk until it is the nice pourable consistency one looks for in pancake batter.

Cakes for the Pan Pourable consistency Dough

Cakes for the Pan Pourable consistency Dough

On a greased skillet (coconut oil, spray olive oil or butter do the job nicely) drizzle the dough into however big a rounds or shape you want. Keep in mind that soaked flour pancakes require longer to “cook” than normal panakes do so err on the side of a bit lower temp and let them cook longer so the middles get done and aren’t soggy. After the initial “layer” has formed after they are drizzled onto the hot pan sprinkle the doughy tops with frozen blueberries. Allow a firm “crust” to cook on the bottom part before flipping, this will allow them to hold together with the extra weight of the berries when you go to flip them.

BlueBerries cushioned in dough

BlueBerries cushioned in dough

Flip ’em over and finish up the cooking. I keep a thick pottery plate in the toaster oven set to warm that I transfer the pancakes to as they cook to keep ’em nice and warm with pats of butter on top to prevent drying out.

Pancakes keeping warm and staying tender with the melting butter

Pancakes keeping warm and staying tender with the melting butter

Golden Drizzle Delight

I came up with  a rough blend a while back that is perfect for topping pancakes with. Confession of a self professed sweets adorer:  Pure maple syrup to my taste is…Too maple-ley. Honey is…Way too honey-ish and plain butter is uhm…Plain.  Combine the three however and they work together in all their complexities of flavors into an entirely new and harmonious thing. I would give you exact measurements except that this is one of those things I never took the time to measure.

One third of the whole needs to be butter. If you use unsalted butter add a pinch or two of sea salt. It helps to offset the sweetness of the maple syrup and honey. One third is NOT too much butter even though it does seem like a lot. Remind yourself that butter is one of the good guy fats and that without it the syrup is entirely too sweet.

For the remaining proportions of honey and maple syrup all I know is that I end up with more maple syrup than honey although the exact ratios escape me.

Sweet Golden Delight gently simmering and combining flavors

Sweet Golden Delight gently simmering and combining flavors

Mix it all up together on pourable pot set upon the stove and as it gently turns to a simmer taste. If the flavor balance is off throw in more of whatever it needs and keep tasting until it tastes absolutely perfect to you. There is a brilliant flavor combination to be had with these three simple ingredients I promise you. Just keep trying until it is achieved.  They need to be simmered together on low for at least a couple of minutes, possibly more if you added salt. If salt was added go until the salt is dissolved. Whisk the liquefied ingredients together well before drizzling over pancakes so you get a nice even blend of it all. The butter especially likes to escape it’s forced companionship with it’s sweet counterparts and must occasionally be forced back into it’s proper place of excessive sweetness remediation.

It may be a while before another post makes it’s way into this challenged foodies chronicle. TheMan is gone to Africa for two weeks and my life is more than a little strained around the edges with his absence. The “to do” lists have officially reached unmanageable proportions and are making any “me” time on-line a guilt ridden thing. I may end up comforting my lonely self late at night allowing my fingers free reign on all manner of food related topics. Perhaps it won’t be so neglected afterall. TheDoodles has at last fallen asleep and so must I while I can. To all a Good Night! =)

PS: I almost forgot! The most important picture of all. =D

The Doodles enjoying her Jeweled Pancakes with Golden Drizzles. The kid is a picky pancake eater. I consider this face a compliment of the highest order.

The Doodles enjoying her Jeweled Pancakes with Golden Drizzles. The kid is a picky pancake eater. I consider this face a compliment of the highest order.