Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oops… Apple Oat Muffin recipe errata

Oh, guys… I’m so sorry! I’ve just realized that the muffin recipe uses 1 cup of rolled oats not 2 cups. I’ve corrected the recipe and I sincerely apologize. Happy baking! (We enjoyed a batch of them just this morning.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Magic Kingdom

Oh, yes. We went to Disney World. In the midst of a busy holiday season, we decided it was time we took the littles to see the Mouse. It was one of those spur of the moment decisions we’re really glad we made. Thirteen years ago, the man and I went on our honeymoon. Ever since that first magical trip, we knew we’d one day take our children. Well, finally, just as Sara Lynn hit 44 inches in height (the magic number for many rides), we decided that there is no time like the present. Carpe Diem, my friend!

Did I mention that we left an upstairs remodel unfinished so we could go off and play? Yes, we did. No regrets. At this point, I’m just wondering when I’ll find time to bake with 10+ loads of post-Disney laundry to do and no less than 1 inch of drywall dust coating every surface in this house. (Sigh.) But it was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gluten free apple oat muffins (soaked in kefir)


I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now… thanks for the nudge, Diane!

These muffins are a family favorite and a (quickly disappearing) staple around here. I promise you can serve this to guests without apology. No one would guess that they are gluten free! They’re not too dense and they’re very moist and flavorful – attributes I accredit to soaking the flours overnight in kefir. Try it. You’ll be hooked, too.


Apple Oat Muffins

1 c. rolled oats (I use certified gluten free oats)

1/2 c. brown rice flour

1/2 c. millet flour

1 c. kefir

Combine above ingredients and allow to soak overnight (up to 12 hours)

The next morning, blend in the following ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 c. honey

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 medium apple, unpeeled, cored, and grated coarsely

1/2 c. raisins (optional)

1/2 c. walnuts (optional)

After mixing all ingredients, fill paper-lined muffin cups until almost full. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until done.

Don’t let the use of rolled oats scare you here. Soaking them overnight makes them tender and delicious. Really, you won’t notice that they are in the finished muffins. A nice variation we often enjoy is substituting 1 c. pureed pumpkin for the apple, no raisins, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, and 1 tsp. nutmeg. So delicious! You may find you need to add extra flour if your pumpkin puree is too thin, which is often the case with homemade pumpkin puree. I usually add a little brown rice flour if needed.

***It’s important to note that gluten free batter will not be as thick as a whole wheat batter. Gluten free baked goods have a tendency to be dry if the batter is too thick. Always err on the side of more liquid than less liquid if in doubt. Often, the batter should be thin like pancake batter.

***EDITTED TO ADD: You may use buttermilk or yogurt diluted with water (to the consistency of buttermilk) in place of kefir.

Making kefir and a Banana Nut Bread recipe

Monday, December 6, 2010

A little bit of sparkle


I love putting up the Christmas tree with my family. I know where each and every ornament came from and who gave it to me, all the way back to the very first Christmas my husband and I shared together. Now, we have two little ones who relish placing the ornaments in just the right spots, and they even make new ones each year. It was Sara Lynn’s turn to place the herald angel atop the tree this year. I like to look at it and imagine Christ’s birth. Oh, how the angels must have rejoiced when Mary delivered Him! What wonder and awe Mary and Joseph must have felt to hold the Son of God in their arms…

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~Luke 2:8-12

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chai it… and you’ll like it!


This time of year (and anytime, really!) I adore a nice cup of hot Chai tea. Soothing and uplifting all at the same time, this tea is a perfect pick-me-up. In the past, I’ve always bought organic Chai tea bags and brewed the tea that way. But after Diane’s post, I really wanted to try making my own loose Chai tea. Unfortunately, Mountain Rose Herbs was sold out of several of the spices I needed. Rats!

Not being the patient type (at all), I proceeded over to Amazon where I found a loose Chai that I absolutely adore. This mix has a wonderful balance.


Frontier Loose Organic Chai Tea is fair trade certified and absolutely delicious. I’m hooked! I’ve been making it in my French press and it works beautifully. Best of all, this tea is priced for less than what I could buy the spices and make it myself, and it qualifies for Amazon super-saver free shipping. Yes!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010












Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Taking fermented cod liver oil painlessly, tastelessly, WITH NO BURPING!


I’ve finally found a way to get this stuff down without having to wrinkle my nose up. And more importantly, I’ve found a way to get it into my children without having to implement a battle cry. They now take their daily dose with a smile, and it also helps that they each get a small piece of dark chocolate for a reward. A mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do, right? Right.

I can’t take credit for this handy-dandy trick… my friend, Katie, is the one who recommended it to me. And, for the record, I am tremendously grateful! All you do is:

1. Dip your spoon in honey.

2. Put your dose of CLO on top of the honey.

3. Drizzle a little extra honey over the CLO to completely cover it.

4. Quickly, and without working it around in your mouth, take the CLO much like you would a pill.

5. Have a drink ready to chase the mixture down.

Easy as pie. And best of all: no tasting or burping the CLO afterward! I’m not sure why this helps with the burping, but my theory is that the honey (which is full of enzymes) helps digest the CLO in rapid fashion. YAY!!!

I sure wish I’d thought of this sooner… sigh.


I’ll leave you today with the view out my front window early this morning. If you’ll look closely, you can see the leaves falling in the middle of the photo. I’m soaking up (with tremendous gratitude) these last few days of Autumn. Thank you, Lord!

***Edited to add: If you are interested in learning about the benefits of taking cod liver oil, click here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Homemade yogurt + homemade granola + raw honey = BLISS!


This flavor combination makes my taste buds do the tango! And because all of the ingredients can be made ahead (or even store-bought if necessary), it’s a quick and easy breakfast for those mornings when you may be slim on time. We love it any old time!


I make crispy nuts every few weeks in the Nourishing Traditions fashion. Soaked and dehydrated, these tasty little gems go great in school lunches and they’re perfect for snacking, too. I use them in any recipe that calls for nuts.


They’re easily stored in mason jars until you’re ready for them… Yum! My jars don’t stay full for very long.


And, I can’t recommend more highly this recipe for soaked and dehydrated (in my oven!) granola.

It is seriously good! I make a half recipe every two weeks and it fills up 2 quart size mason jars. I like to keep a jar in the car for snacking – it helps me resist the temptation to eat unhealthy foods when I get hungry. And actually, I just LOVE to eat this granola! It’s delicious and nutritious.

The first time I made it, I soaked my nuts right along with my oats and dehydrated everything together. This last time, I added crispy pecans to the finished granola… I like it better this way. You can really taste the nuts. I also added a generous amount of raisins to the finished granola. When making half the recipe, I use 1 cup of honey substituted for the date paste Wardeh uses to sweeten the granola. Just laziness on my part, but it turned out great! My yogurt came from an Amish family who makes it from raw cow’s milk – so, so, good. One day, I’ll be brave and try Amanda's method for making yogurt. This granola recipe sounds more complicated than it actually is… give it a try!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh, my… pumpkin pie!


There’s been a fair amount of this going on around here the past few weeks…

I haven’t met a winter squash I didn’t like. So far this year, we’ve enjoyed Blue Hubbard (new for me this year), Acorn Table Queen, Butternut, Delicata, and that sweet little pie pumpkin up above. We enjoy it as a side dish or as pie (of course!)

Here’s the recipe for the pumpkin pie filling from Nourishing Traditions (see my sidebar) and this is a decent gluten free pie crust recipe. Let me warn you though, I was not able to roll it out the way the recipe suggested (maybe I didn’t – okay, I straight up did not let it spend enough time in the fridge). I ended up squishing it into the pie plate much like you would for a graham cracker crust. And the next time I make it, I will probably pre-bake the crust a bit. One other difference was that I used raw cow’s milk in my filling along with freshly prepared pumpkin flesh… DELISH!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Twilight on the homestead


This is my favorite time of day…


Just as the sun is setting…


All is washed in hues of gold…


I even find golden hope for a few last tomatoes…


And the hammock begins to beckon me…

Who am I to resist?

Just a few stolen moments of quiet rest refresh me…

And I know I must still tackle those pesky dinner dishes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nourishing Traditions Meatloaf (gluten free version)


This meatloaf is so good! I must admit, I’ve always been a big fan of meatloaf. My mom has a wonderful recipe that I’ve made for my own family for years now. What I like about the Nourishing Traditions recipe is all the added vegetables that are tucked inside it!


Seriously, look at all those veggies! And every member of the family eats this dish with glee… (mama is smiling.)


I adapted the original recipe to suit our family’s needs: gluten free rolled oats were substituted in place of the bread crumbs, I omitted the chili flakes (for the kids), and kicked up the cracked black pepper. I chose to use a mix of ground turkey and ground beef in equal amounts, and I omitted the ground heart and fish sauce (mainly because I didn’t have these ingredients on hand).


This is the meatloaf all ready to go into the oven. IT’S SO GOOD!!!

If you’d like to give the recipe a try yourself, you can find it recipe here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A family heirloom quilt


This quilt was made by a woman I never met - my great-grandmother. I can’t help but feel a deep connection to her, and the past, when I wrap up in this old quilt which was stitched with love many years ago. I wonder if she thought about who might wrap up in the quilt she made. I wonder if she thought about her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren yet to be born.


I wonder if she hoped it would be cherished as she hand-stitched each piece carefully together… these little bits of flour sack and old garments rearranged to make a family heirloom. I’ve heard stories of how she and the local women would gather to quilt and converse in the afternoons once the chores were done. I’ve heard of her quilt cabinet which was stuffed to overflowing with her handmade quilts. I’ve heard stories of her cooking and her love. I feel blessed to hold this little piece of her in my hands and in my heart.

I will cherish it always, Mama Jones.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Banana Nut Bread: Soaked and Gluten-free!


If you’ve been around here for a while, you probably know that I love banana nut bread.

It was one of the first recipes I set out to perfect in  a gluten-free version.


I must say, I’m not going to miss my old recipe at all… This banana nut bread is heavenly!!! (Thank goodness!)

I adapted this recipe from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook. If you are concerned about eating in a healthy, nourishing, traditional way, you SERIOUSLY need to check out this book. It is an excellent investment. I reference my copy almost every day. Not only does this book explain why our body needs certain foods, but it contains recipes for almost every dish imaginable! (It also explains why processed food should be avoided.)

Without further adieux, here is my new recipe:

Mel’s Banana Nut Bread: Soaked and Gluten Free

1 c gluten-free rolled oats

1 c gluten-free oat flour

1/2 c millet flour

1/2 c brown rice flour

2 c buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt (if using yogurt, dilute it with water to the consistency of buttermilk – 2 c total yogurt/water mixture)

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 to 1/2 c maple syrup

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 c melted butter

2 ripe, mashed bananas

1/2 c crispy walnuts, chopped

Soak flours together in buttermilk, kefir or yogurt in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours – bread will rise better if soaked for 24 hours. (Those with milk allergies may use 2 cups filtered water plus 2 TBSP whey, lemon juice, or vinegar in place of buttermilk, kefir or yogurt.) Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into a well-buttered and floured loaf pan (preferably stoneware). Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

***Note: If you aren’t gluten-intolerant, simply substitute 3 cups of whole wheat flour for the gluten-free flours in this recipe. Soak as directed!

If you want the why’s on soaking (and a good introduction to nourishing, traditional food preparation methods), click here.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I used kefir in this recipe. A while back, my very generous (and wise) blogging friend Diane sent me some of her kefir grains. This was the first recipe I tried using homemade kefir. Success! I really believe that the kefir made my bread rise a little better and it gave the bread a nice flavor, too. I’m hooked! 


I took Diane’s advice and made kefir using raw goat’s milk. While I’m not crazy about drinking a glass of it alone, I will be adding it to all my baked goods from here on out. And I’m working toward being able to drink it. It’s a bit more sour than yogurt, but it would be great in a smoothie. As Diane has told me, “Sour is good for you!”


Kefir is so easy to make yourself. I followed these instructions.

There are also instructions for making kefir in Nourishing Traditions, but sometimes it’s nice to see pictures.


Now, what to make next?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A trip to the Smokies


This is a picture heavy post (and it will probably bore you), but I think that the Great Smoky Mountains are quite possibly the most beautiful place God created on this earth. We try to make an annual pilgrimage because it’s only a 6 hour drive for us, and it’s one of our favorite places.


This is at Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies. Absolutely breathtaking view!


And because it’s so high up, it’s cold up there year round. We’ve been before in July and had to wear our jackets. It’s quite a novelty to those of us who are steeped in humidity most days of the year.


Daniel was enamored with the ice!


Check out that beyond blue sky. Gorgeous!


This was the view from the front porch of the little cabin where we stayed. We loved it there.


There is so much history in these mountains. This is a little one-room school house tucked away high on the side of a mountain. I wouldn’t have wanted to walk to school in the winter if I had attended there. I read that some children traveled as far as 9 miles to get to this school.

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And before you freak out, let me assure you that we do not allow our children to ride in the back of the truck on an open road. This was the driveway that took us to our little cabin.


Sara Lynn was so happy when her Daddy stopped to pick her flowers. I can’t help but smile, too!


It was such a nice trip in the midst of a busy season for us. It’s essential to take a retreat every once in a while, IMHO.


This is a shot of Daniel on our cabin’s little porch – complete with rockers, a swing, and a hot tub. Sigh…


Cade’s Cove is one place you must visit if you ever make it to the Smokies. So much history!

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All of these last photos were taken in Cade’s Cove. It’s so much fun imagining what life would have been like for the people who lived there 100 years ago. I hope you get the chance to visit the Smokies at least once in your life!