Thursday, July 31

More on Quinoa

Remember the post on Quinoa? Remember the recipe listed, Quinoa with Corn, Scallions, and Mint? A W E S O M E. Make it.

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, do make this dish. Fresh, flavorful, light, a bit chewy, and healthy. If you have made quinoa, make this dish next!! I've made it twice now with eight different, very positive comments of surprised delight. It's in my top five side dishes, along with Island Rice and Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Green Bean Salad w/ Mint Vinaigrette.

The second time I made it, pictured here, I used half buff quinoa and half red quinoa for a variety in appearance. It tasted pretty much the same, and it was just an option I decided to try. I also used half basil, half mint, both times since I didn't let my mint grow back enough to get a full half cup.

Wednesday, July 30

Blowout Sale!

Have you heard the big news? TODAY ONLY you can get an excellent e-book package from which has over $100 worth of money-saving e-books, homemaking helps, and encouragement for only $5.97! Check it out here. I purchased these items a few months ago for $10, and this sale is even better.

What makes this deal so good is that this e-book package includes the e-course Supermarket Savings 101--this course alone is worth much more than $5.97 and will teach you how to drastically reduce your grocery bill. If high fuel and food costs are discouraging you and leaving you strapped for cash, you definitely need to buy this e-course.

Go here here to read more about this great sale! The price goes up Thursday, so get this money-saving ebook package at an incredibly low price while you can!

Tuesday, July 29


Old. Aged. Weathered.

Sunday, July 27

Pears Three Ways

On the property of the B&B where we stayed last week.

And my husband :)

Saturday, July 26

Dinosaur Bugs

(Or stick bugs)...really do look like sticks! This is one on my basil which I found recently.

Notice the legs on the right side. The bug was "standing" up more with the left side in the air, and it reminded me of a dinosaur except with a realllllllly long neck, a LOT smaller and without a tail.

You had to be there.

Poll Still Open

The poll is still open if you haven't done it yet!

Wednesday, July 23

Blueberry Muffins

Do you have any favorite recipes? I sort of made up my own crumb topping and think it could use some improvement. I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe and they were delicious.

Monday, July 21

A Series on Fruit

Photos, that is. Post your favorite fruit and how you like to eat it, in the comments. I was on a "Still Life with Fruit" kick the other week. Can you tell? Which photo is your favorite?

Don't forget to take the current poll below!

Saturday, July 19

New Poll!

Thanks for taking my food poll last week! It was fun.

Since some of us are comment-shy and there are many readers of my blog, I want to get to know you some. I also want to get a feel for what you like about my blog. I will be posting various polls over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back for new polls! I am open to suggestions for types of polls.

Wednesday, July 16

Vaccines: Update on Us

Ryan and I haven't made all of our decisions regarding vaccines, but I thought I'd post where we are now on some of them. We have more reading and talking to do but have made a lot of headway. We are on the fence in some areas. If you've been doing research yourself, we'd be interested in comments on our uncertainties or other comments in general.

We will do a delayed vaccination schedule. None will be given at birth or two months, at the very least. We are leaning towards giving our kids select vaccines at 2 years. When they do get vaccines, we will take measures the day before, day of and day after with their food and vitamins to prepare them. If there is any hint of sickness beforehand or if they were recently sick, they will absolutely be postponed a couple of weeks. We will be watchful for reactions to individual vaccines and because they'll be separate, we'll know to which shot the reaction is related. I will not get a flu shot ever again, and not when pregnant. If for some reason our kids go to daycare and are formula fed, we will re-think our positions. That is not our intention, but the future is always uncertain.

We will not give hepatitis B (if you're thinking about that one, you need to decide before your baby crowns, since the first dose is given a day or so after birth).

We were pretty convinced about the chicken pox vaccine because it's worse to get it as an adult, and you have lifetime immunity from getting it as a child. Also, I read from the CDC itself that the reason for the chicken pox vaccine is they wanted to reduce the number of moms taking time off work to care for their spotty and itchy kids. Seriously. To me, that is a ridiculous reason for the shot. However, a friend pointed out that not many kids get it now so it's hard to have "pox parties" for your kids to get it and get over it (and have greater immunity than from a shot). That's a tough one because we wouldn't want our kids to get it as adults if it's not around as a child for them to contract. Ryan has never had chicken pox and could possibly have natural immunity. He never caught it as a kid even though he went to "pox parties" too. I actually read this week that kids can get chicken pox but not show symptoms and gain immunity. I came down with it right before I was supposed to go to a school roller skating party and had to stay home. :: sniff, sniff :: We lean towards declining the chicken pox vaccine in the chance that our kids could get it naturally and have lifetime immunity compared to the artificial immunity from the shot, which can wear off. The unknown long-term affects of "messing" with your immune system are a concern for any of the vaccines.

We will likely not give the measles vaccine because of the seeming high occurrence of the diseases from the vaccine itself and potential severe, and sometimes chronic, side effects of this particular vaccine. We will become familiar with the symptoms and signs and have it treated it if our kids get it.

As for tetanus, we are comfortable with our kids getting the shot if needed, when they are older. Tetanus is rare, and they are not at risk as babies. If they enter a situation we know about in advance (like if they work on a farm or near filth for whatever reason), they will get the shot. If they are injured and at risk, we'll talk to the doctor about getting the
tetanus immune globulin, which is not a vaccine, and ask if he recommends it. The vaccine itself is not effective after the fact but many ERs push the vaccine anyway. If they will be traveling to a country where the risk is greater, they will get it. We are concerned, however, that all single tetanus shots still have mercury. The only way to get mercury-free tetanus is in the combo DTaP and DT. As for the D, diphtheria, there has been 1 case in the last five years, and it was in 2003. We do not believe the vaccine is necessary today. We'll look at the stats again in the future when we have kids to see if this changes. We may do DT in an older child to avoid mercury in the single Tetanus.

There have been no polio cases (both paralytic and non paralytic) in the last several years, and there is question as to the safety of this vaccine. Also, the inactivated vaccine (IPV) "cannot prevent the spread of wild polio virus" and "it induces only very low levels of immunity to polivirus locally, inside the gut" (source
). We are leaning towards not giving this one but will do more reading and research.

We will definitely not have our kid get the combination vaccine MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and since we're already taking out measles, we may only do mumps. I read that the chance of male sterility from mumps is extremely rare. The Rubella vaccine is cultured in aborted fetal tissue which is an issue for Ryan and me. Rubella itself also doesn't appear to be a concern today.

The least concerning shot to us regarding safety is Hib. We may do this after we read further. It seems that the majority of infections today are from a strain not addressed in the shot, so our question is, is this vaccine really necessary or effective?

If you've been following my posts, you may somewhat know that the concerns and questions we have are multi-faceted. The 1) frequency of shots, 2) the age of the child, 3) the ingredients, 4) the combinations, 5) the risk of the actual diseases today, 6) the lack of long-term testing (ie more than a few days) before going to market, 7) the application of a risk in a small group to the whole population not necessarily at risk (ie hep B), 8) the effectiveness of the vaccine itself and 9) the history of deceit negligence from those in charge. We can't just brush all that under the rug. In addition to that, as brought out by Dr. Cave in her book, those who have family history of auto-immune disorders should take care to consider the current vaccine schedules. There is diabetes, asthma, allergies, and fibromyalgia in my family. I have allergies and asthma. We'd like our kids to not have those things, and we believe adhering to the CDC schedule as it is today would compromise our kids' immune systems and cause them to be more prone to develop any of the above conditions. We believe the risk of the diseases that we wouldn't vaccinate against is not as great as potential problems from the shots themselves.

Another factor is that for any of the vaccinated diseases, they are preventable, and our kid's doctors will know how to treat them. Also, Ryan and I can learn the symptoms of the non-vax diseases to identify if our kids get them. However, if our kids have a reaction to a vaccine, it is more likely that we will not be helped by our doctor to treat the reaction and address it like we would for the actual diseases or infections. The overwhelming response to vaccine reactions today seems to be that it's normal and not related to the shots. End of story. We would rather take our chances with some preventable diseases (note: some, not all), knowing they will be addressed immediately and knowledgeably. Many of the diseases have a quick recovery and are not life-threatening or even requiring a hospital stay.

Your comments are welcome.

Monday, July 14



Readers, have you cooked with quinoa before? Do you like it? Please post a recipe or two in the comments that you've liked.

I didn't initially like quinoa all that much. Ryan said he's liked it for some time, so I kept going with it. Quinoa is a nutty, unrefined grain and a complete protein* with the highest protein content of any grain. It's fast-cooking and good for you. There is a multitude of quinoa recipes available, and I like that it's a good gluten-free option to have in stock. Quinoa is also simple to prepare, and I think as more time goes by, as Ryan, Lord willing, enters the pastorate and as our family hopefully grows in the future, I will keep simple things nearby for my sanity. Oh, and while Ryan loves quinoa, he would never want it to completely replace white rice. Ryan loves white rice. Not nearly as much as he loves me though. :: sigh ::

As for recipes, I found one I didn't care for very much but have enjoyed quinoa in other ways from the same chef. The cinnamon just wasn't a pleasing combination for me or Ryan. However, this grain married surprisingly well with cooked kale & collards from a couple weeks back. All that was added to the quinoa was a little olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar. Oh yeah, I also threw in some goat cheese, which added a nice creaminess. Hehe. Cheese.

Uncooked quinoa is pictured above, and once it's cooked, it looks like the picture to the right. The light "rings" remain a little crunchy, and the rice-like interior is soft. There is a buff colored grain and a red grain.

Sometimes, when I look at the search results for quinoa recipes, I think they're are all vegan, strange recipes that are weird to try, that have tofu, pistachios, pumpkinseed, and dates and bugs. I just skip those. Just kidding about the bugs. If you look through the recipes, you'll find contenders for excellent side (or even main) dishes, such as the recipes below. Give quinoa a chance. Some recommend rinsing the uncooked quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer 2-3 times before cooking to wash off the bitter coating that is often on quinoa. This coating is a natural deterrent to birds when quinoa grows. Some say today's cleaning and harvest of the grain is better and it's not necessary, so it can be optional. I rinse it if I remember.

Delicious Big Bowl - a surprisingly delicious combination of foods and flavors; a main dish
Quinoa with Corn, Scallions, and Mint - I plan to try this side dish soon since I don't need to buy any ingredients. My mom made it recently and gave it her highest rating. She reduced the quinoa by a half cup since some reviews said the quinoa seemed a little dry.
Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa - 98 user ratings, looks like simple prep
Other Highest rated quinoa recipes from Epicurious.
Quinoa and Onion Risotto with Crème Fraîche and Hazelnuts - from Cooking Light. I might use yogurt or sour cream in place of creme fraiche. Try almonds if you don't have hazelnuts.

If you want to start out simple, make a basic recipe (below), throw in some salt, pepper and 1 T olive oil when it's done and have it accompany the rest of dinner. If you have a meat prepared with some sauce, pair the sauce with the quinoa at the table. I prefer it to be teamed up with grilled or roasted meats as opposed to a meaty stew since the grain is fine and would become lost next to something like stew. It can be used in stews though. That's different. At least to me. Anyone else? Or, try it with grilled vegetables. Use quinoa in place of couscous in this bountiful summer dish (I have serious plans to do that). Seriously. For serious.

Unlike some other grains, quinoa has a long shelf life and does not require refrigeration. Other grains have fats that go rancid quickly and require refrigeration if not used right away. One source I read said quinoa is not a whole grain and is actually refined, like rice or barley. The Whole Grains Council says quinoa is a whole grain.

* complete means it has all the essential amino acids needed for growth and development. It's the only vegetable source of protein recognized as complete (like beans, meat and diary).

There you have it. I've equipped you with the ideas and knowledge to try quinoa. Now you just have to find it. Whole Foods will have it. If you live in my area, the best price is at the East End Coop near the seminary. If you've bought quinoa before, please post where you've found it for the benefit of others. I'm thinking it won't be at Giant Eagle, Meijer, Safeway, but I could be wrong. The price is likely to be higher and bulk buying really is the way to go with less common grains. This isn't typical fare for a Western diet. I did some research, and the best price I found online is from Natural Grocers for $1.59/lb. Not bad, but you have to spend $20 minimum, and add on shipping. Your best bet will be to find it locally since you'll have to pay shipping in most cases when buying online.

The advantage of going to Whole Foods is being able buy it in bulk and get a scoop or two for one recipe's worth for about a buck if you're trying it for the first time.

Basic Recipe

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Place quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 3 cups. Quinoa is done when the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated.

Sunday, July 13

Food Poll Results

Here are the results of the food poll, the first poll on my blog. Asian pulled out ahead of Italian for a win. More polls to come in the future!

Friday, July 11

How to Rescue a Roux

Have you ever found yourself making a sauce with flour and milk and there are more lumps than you care to have, and they're not going away no matter how much you whisk it?

That happened to me a couple of weeks ago when making beef stroganoff, and I did something that worked perfectly. Using a mid-sized Pyrex measuring cup (a mixing bowl would do) and a fine-meshed strainer placed over it, I carefully poured the hot roux into the strainer and let the smooth sauce strain into the bowl. The lumps were left in the strainer, and I whisked the lumpy roux until it smoothed out and blended into a paste. It didn't take long. Placing the pan back on the stove and turning the heat on, I put the roux paste in and added a little bit of the strained, smooth roux and whisked it until it combined, then I added a bit more and whisked to combine. I repeated those steps until the paste was no longer a thick past but a smooth, thick sauce, then I added the rest of the smooth liquid and continued whisking to allow the entire roux to thicken as needed.

The alternative? Taking out the lumps scoop by scoop and losing the proportion of flour to milk, or starting over. The above trick worked well with no loss of ingredients. I'd recommend turning the burner off while you do this to keep the empty pan from getting too hot. Otherwise, the roux may scorch when you return it to the pan.

Do you have any kitchen tips that have saved you? Please post in the comments! Also, if you haven't taken the poll to the left, I am awaiting your answer!

Thursday, July 10

Cook It. Blog It.

I joined a blogger group for cooking called "Cook It. Blog It!" Click the image below to go to the main listing of blogs. I know this is unrelated to cooking, but there are some pretty cool designers that have their blogs listed and have beautiful patterns and fabrics for clothes they make (plus they cook, I would guess!)

If you are visiting my blog from Cook It, Blog It, and want to get down to business, check out the recipes linked to the left as well as past posts related to recipes and food. I've been checking out your blogs and hope you enjoy mine! Feel free to leave a comment that you've been here.

Wednesday, July 9


Hey guys! I'm trying something new on my blog. To the left you will see a poll. You have until Saturday morning to take it then I'll post the final results!! Get to it! Please and thank you.

P.S. You are answering this for yourself, not me. Just in case clarification was needed....

Subscribe & Save from Amazon

Amazon has a new feature called Subscribe & Save, and today, it saved me about $12! Amazon offers a multitude of products (9,000 +) at a 15% discount, plus free shipping, when you subscribe to a regular delivery of a product. You can cancel at any time. What I purchased today was two jars of the coconut oil we like, and it totaled $26 compared to about $38 if I bought the oil at the store. You can choose from a delivery every 1, 2, 3 or 6 months, so I chose 6, which is likely when we will want the oil again. According to the terms, I could cancel after getting the delivery of the order I just placed and not worry about future purchases and not be penalized. Amazon will send an email when the next order is going out so there isn't a unexpected or forgotten charge.

Take a look around and see if there are products you normally buy; maybe you can save some money this way. Examples include: cereal, diapers, snack bars, paper towels, and more. Click here to view a list top brands and access all brands offered. Now, I know many of you can do better with CVS deals, but there are many products here you can't get at CVS.

Ladies, if any of you drink raspberry leaf tea, you can get it (organic) for a per-box price of $3.33. It comes in a six-pack.

I'm doing some price comparisons on agave nectar and finding it cheaper to buy from amazon.

Image from amazon.

Monday, July 7

Cabbage Ideas

I have a head of cabbage. Any ideas for its use, besides coleslaw or soup?

Also, check out my other posts and share your pet stories! Coming up this week will be a vaccine update and a post about a grain, Quinoa.

Sunday, July 6


Funny story from my mom, if you like dogs:

"I was laying on the couch and Asher came over to me and put his front feet on my shoulder. I was reading and didn't pay any attention to him, so he started tapping me on the shoulder with one of his paws. He kept on tapping me on the shoulder until I looked at him and then he gave me a couple of kisses and then went and laid down. It was like he was saying 'Mom, Mom'."

Hilarious! Do you have any funny pet stories?

Saturday, July 5


7. Loads of laundry. Today. Done. Washed, dried, folded and put away. Seven. 49 quarters used. 2 loads yesterday. 63 total quarters in two days.

P.S. My husband has a new blog. Link to the left.

Friday, July 4

Shoestring Zucchini Fries

My, was this a tasty way to use the zucchini I had from the CSA!

Shoestring Zucchini Fries

1 medium zucchini (6 oz), trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Halve zucchini crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into 1/8-inch-wide slices and cut slices lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Toss with salt in a large medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of zucchini to remove moisture, then roll up in a triple layer of paper towels and squeeze to remove remaining moisture.

Cook garlic in oil in a 7- to 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic.

While garlic is cooking, toss zucchini with flour in a small bowl, then add to oil and fry, turning occasionally with a slotted spoon, until zucchini is golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer zucchini to paper towels to drain. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 2

Scenes from a recent dinner prep

Ryan and I made some impromptu grilled veggie fajitas the other night. We also had corn on the cob with lime butter. Regarding the recipe I linked, I don't grill the corn. Instead, I steam it in a large pot. But I LOVE that butter. Add extra red pepper if you want more heat. I actually think the butter is better in a very soft room temperature consistency before making the Lime Butter. If it's too solid (but still soft) the juice won't combine. Having the butter mixture in a soft, solid state is less messy for application [with a pastry brush] than a melted mixture.

Prepping onions and peppers for the grill. After slicing 1 Vidalia onion into sections just shy of a 1/2 inch thick, I slid two toothpicks in either end to keep them from falling apart on the grill. Genius! I also brushed the onions with olive oil, then I sprinkled on some salt and freshly ground pepper.

As for the red peppers, I halved them then sliced a bit of each end in order to press them relatively flat for more even grilling. Next came the dousing of olive oil and salt and pepper.

On the grill. This is obvious.

This is some mighty fine avocado! Click to take a closer look. Mmm mmm.

An avocado slicer is a waste of space in my opinion...not present in my kitchen! To "peel", don't try to peel the skin off the meat. Halve the avocado, remove the pit, then slide a spoon inside and around the skin (against the skin) and scoop out the flesh in one piece. Then slice as desired. If you want to dice the avocado, don't scoop it out. Rather, run a butter knife both ways across the flesh and then scoop out the chunks with a spoon.

The final product: flour tortilla spread with sour cream, topped with vegetables, avocado slices, Tyler Florence's Simple Salsa, some Cholula and a squeeze of lime. It was delicious and full of flavor. See what you can throw together with a bounty of summer vegetables.

Tuesday, July 1

Coconut Macaroons

I thought I got this recipe from, but I can't find it. I only have a printout.

:: several seconds pass ::

Ahh. I found it. I searched online for key words in the printed recipe that I have: "coconut macroons tedious 32" and it popped right up as the first result. This recipe doesn't use any flour, and the macaroons are a wonderful combination of crunch, sweetness and chewiness, all rolled up into one bite. I plan to make them again!

Coconut Macaroons
(or, Rochers à la Noix de Coco)

9 ounces unsweetened dried coconut flakes
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
a fat pinch of salt
3 medium egg whites

Makes about 32.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the coconut, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg whites and mix them in with a fork.

Scoop out rounded tablespoonfuls of this mixture and shape them into pyramids with your fingers; if you find this too tedious, simple balls will do.

Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden at the edges. Let set on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

The rochers will keep for a few days, stored at room temperature in an airtight container.