Thursday, August 28, 2008

For the Arizona Gardeners or those who just want to be....

I have a hard time believing that it is time to plant my winter garden next week when it is still 105 degrees outside, but I must get out the shovel and rake and get to work. It always seems to creep up on me and I end up planting late. Late means that it gets cold early on and the plants won't grow as fast. So, I have been determined this year to get it done early. I ripped out the old plants last week and the soil is just waiting for nutrients, a little tilling and some beautiful seeds and plants.

For those of you who are gardeners or who are ready to start your first crop, here is the low down:

Get the ground ready. Get it nice and fluffy, add in some manure with mulch, some gypsum if your ground is hard and clay like and some sand. Then, if you dig and do not see any worms; google online for some "red wiggler" worms and order yourself a batch. Worms are the best thing you can do for your garden. They break down the soil and aerate the dirt. Very important for good healthy plants. Now, water the soil a bit and let it sit for a few days before you plant so the fertilizer won't damage the plants. You want to plant when the temperature starts to fall closer to 100 degrees. For a winter garden, here is what to plant and keep in mind, this is for Arizona folks:

Broccoli: My favorite! I like to use plants, not seeds.
Cabbage: I also use plants because cabbage is slower growing
Carrots: Plant seeds and space them out a finger width
Collard Greens
I plant seeds and plants to stagger the crop. For the seeds, I cut the tops off the tender plants and use the baby leaves leaving the plant in tack to keep growing.
Onions: I use white onion bulbs for green onions
Peas: Look for the Fall Pea seeds
Spinach: Plants or seeds

I love a garden and the more I learn about nutrition, the more I understand why I need one. I know what is put on my veggies in the garden, I know that they were ripened naturally and I just feel good knowing that I have a food source. Food that is ripened on the plant has far more nutrients than those in the stores that were picked early to ship. There definitely has been seasons where gardening just wasn't my "season" when I just had too much going on. We can't do everything and sometimes just need to let some things go like homemade bread or sewing. So, if you are feeling guilty from reading this post that you need to go out and garden; take it all in stride. If it is not your season, do what you are supposed to and garden when the time is there. It is definitely therapeutic for me and pretty to look at but it does take time.I love to get my kids involved. My favorite part of the garden is the carrot harvest. My neighbor kids also love to come over and help since it is so far removed from us now to work in the dirt and see something edible come up. I give them all stations; a carrot pulling station, a cutting station to snip the greens off, the scrubbing station for the first wash and then a rinsing station. They love it and I love watching them love it. I can taste my fresh broccoli now!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Our Closing Ceremony Dinner.....

Of course in honor of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies tonight in China, we just had to have a little Chinese food. I have been wanting to try out the Sweet and Sour chicken recipe on the "My Kitchen Cafe" blog and it did not disappoint. I rarely find a Chinese food recipe that I like at home but this was a crowd pleaser! I like Chinese food but don't like to go to restaurants because they use so much MSG. Making it at home you can put in just what you want. I used Organic Soy Sauce, (mostly, until I ran out and had to borrow some from a neighbor) and the other ingredients were just good pantry stocked items. There definitely is sugar in this but the rest of the dinner was quite healthy. The cinnamon rolls are even whole wheat with no frosting so I serve them with dinner. Somehow the frosting makes them seem like a desert so if I leave it off, I feel justified to eat it with dinner. I am the mom, I can do what I want. I use my whole wheat bread recipe for the cinnamon rolls using butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to roll them with. The recipe for the chicken says to bake for 1 hour but I made my chunks about 1 inch size and I only cooked it for 30 minutes. I will most definitely be making this again. Thanks Kitchen Cafe.....again!

And, for anyone else out there who is a little slow like me....I found out a little tip tonight that I just can't believe I didn't know. When I find a recipe on a blog, I never knew you could paste it to a word document and copy it. I know everyone else out there knows how to do this. But.....just in case you don't ,here you go and please don't laugh at me for just finding this out. Highlight the recipe you want to copy and right click. Click on copy. Open word and then click on paste. You can then change the font or do whatever you want to this recipe so you can put it in your neat little recipe binder. This sure beats my hand copied recipes I have been making. Duh.

And....a special thanks goes out to My dear sweet husband for making the beautiful fruit salad, Bryant , my oldest son for battering the chicken and Randi, my princess for cutting the veggies. Thanks guys! Love the help!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beautiful Mangos......

I have to be honest, when I hear the word "Mango" I can't help but think of the old Saturday night know....."Don't toucha the Mango." But, the mango is a great fruit loaded with superb qualities. For instance, as evident by the beautiful orange color , the mango has tons of Vitamin A and C. One mango will give you 40% of your daily fiber. For those of you who have a bowl issue, eat up and you will be feeling great! The other great quality of the mango is its tryptophan content. Tryptophan helps to regulate serotonin levels and serotonin is what stabilizes our moods. I am sure NONE of us need this! I don't particularly like the taste of the mango plain, but I sure love it with other ingredients. I love mango salsa especially on my Caribbean tacos, recipe under the recipe label below. It is great on the macadamia nut chicken under My Kitchen Cafe blogsite. It takes such a little bit of time to make but would be great in so many recipes. Try this out. Even my kids love it. It is also great over a brick of cream cheese with crackers for an appetizer. Yummo!
Mango Salsa
1 medium mango, finely chopped
3 T red onion, finely chopped
2 T roughly chopped cilantro
1 Jalapeno seeded and finely chopped ( I used about 4-5 jarred jalapeno slices)
Juice of one lime.
Combine all together and let chill to blend flavors.
Recipe from Kitchen Cafe site

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More on Stephanie.....

For any of you wanting to help Stephanie and Christian, see the blog c jane run for details on donations and special events in their honor. This is a website from her family and completely legitimate.

The little blip called life.....

I have been reading a beautiful and uplifting book sent to me by my beautiful and uplifting friend, Miss Molly called " I am a Mother." It is written by Jane Clayson Johnson who was a former CBS Early Show Co-Host. It is a story about being a Mother and what that means. It is everything I need to be reminded about and a must have book for all of us to pull out now and then when we need a little reminder. As I was reading last night and again this morning, several quotes really touched me and made me ponder a few things. First of all, Earth. We fought to come down here. It is only a small blip of time in the grand view of eternity yet it is the one thing we all wanted to be a part of. We come here and things are hard. It is hard to understand why some are so afflicted with trials, why things like plane crashes and children with disabilities are necessary, but they are. There is a reason for all things even if it seems unimaginable at the time. But, the Lord sees a different picture. He knows what we can become not what we are. There is a quote by C.S. Lewis that paints the picture perfectly:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house than the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace"

I love that little lesson. Somedays I would just rather settle for the cottage. It is less work to build and a lot easier to keep up. But, I know that we all want to be the palace. Likewise, we all want our homes to be the palaces. The place of beauty and peace. I know it is worth all the hard work and sacrifices that we go through and I know that the Lord has his hand in it all. I also know that when the walls are being knocked down, we are never left alone. Thank goodness for that. Let us all hang on and see the big picture.

Prayers Needed.....

Many of you know the beautiful and talented Stephanie "NieNie" Nielson, whose blog is visited by thousands daily around the world. Many of you have heard the news but I feel that I need to spread it further so we can stretch the prayer circle even more . Stephanie and her husband were in a serious small plane crash Saturday night. They are both in very serious condition with severe burns. I was able to get to know Nie through Domestic Bliss and there are few people on this earth as sweet, sincere and spiritual as she is. I instantly loved her and her testimony radiates from her in everything she does. She is someone you just simply want to be around and be like. You can visit her blog at the link to the right "Nie Nie". Please pray for her and her family. I believe in prayer. I know that it works. We love you Stephanie!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to get paid to make your childrens bed....

Just as I have finally figured out (on most days) how to get my younger children to do their jobs and finish what is asked, I now have a teenager and I really didn't know how to motivate him without "begging" him to get the work done. It drives me crazy because I don't think I should have to beg and I really don't like to treat the older ones like they are babies. One of the main objectives of raising children is to teach them to be accountable for themselves, that they must be responsible not just submissive. They need to be able to go into the world and do what needs to be done without mom reminding them or begging them. That is our mission. So, I contemplate how to light the fire. How to have them do the basics in the morning without me reminding and without grounding which I don't really like at all. I don't believe in weekly allowances for doing basic jobs because I think they do basic jobs because they are part of a family. If they need to earn money, I can provide extra work. So, here was my idea after several mornings of unmade beds and untidy rooms. My older children get weekly money for lunch at Jr. and High Schools. They are responsible for allocating the money per day so they will have enough for each weekday and if they budget wisely, they will have a little left. Conversely, if they hit the spirit store too often, no lunch money come Friday. I think it is a great lesson in budgeting. So, here was the deal. If they leave the house without beds made and room tidied up, I deduct $2 from the next weeks lunch money. I don't remind them, I don't get angry or bug them after school. I go make the bed. I get to keep $2 from the next week. I can handle $2 to make a bed. Heck, I have been doing it for free for years. However, I didn't make much so far because it only took one day to get the message across. I am still surprised every morning to see such a clean room without me reminding them. Isn't amazing how they can remember things when they don't get fed! Hmmmmmm, why didn't I think of this earlier!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's for Breakfast?????

It is that time of year again for me to give my breakfast speech to any who have not heard it or don't abide by it. Are you ready? Here goes. You need it, your kids need it, your husband needs it. They need it to contain something that will actually make them feel good, something that is not in the shape of little neon green circles or chocolate brown balls. It needs to be something that will fill them up and start their brain. They need real food. Real grains. Real nutrition. Yea, not fruity pebbles, not cocoa puffs. That is a treat if anything. I know, it takes time. I know, some don't like breakfast but it IS the most important meal of the day. I have already blogged about this so if you want more pestering comments, go back and read. I will spare the long talk. I love breakfast. I never leave home without a great hot breakfast and I love to find new recipes. I get bored. I have posted quite a few breakfast recipes that you can find at the bottom under the "recipe" label. I have another one for you today that I love and many of you may have. If not, add it to the collection. Gingerbread pancakes. Delicious especially when topped with hot spiced apples. Pancakes are so quick to make. They also freeze well for those mornings when you just don't have the time or hit snooze a little too much. Get up just a little bit earlier and cook up something hot and tasty. I also feel that it is another way to gather the kids and look at them for a minute before they leave out the door in a hurry. They have to stop to chew and I find it is a great time to read scriptures to them when there mouths are too full to talk!

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp
Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1 C. Buttermilk
1/3 C. Melted Butter
1/4 C. molasses

I have also been trying lots of new recipes from the Sisters Cafe and the Kitchen Cafe sites. I have loved everyone of them. To name a few that I tried this week; the Chicken and Spinach stuffed shells, Macadamia nut crusted chicken and the Heavenly peanut butter and chocolate cookies. I am not a cookie person but I made these last night and lets just say, I had to work extra hard at the gym today! I used all chocolate chips instead of peanut butter chips. The whole house loved them. Make them only when you have plenty of people or neighbors to help you eat them. They are that good.

A little more.....

Just a little more on supplements; my post makes me sound like I am anti supplements. That is not the case. However, it is always best to eat the whole food when possible as intended but there are times when we need a little more. For instance, B vitamins need to be taken in greater quantities when we are stressed, C's when we are sick. We need to be careful, however, to make sure that we use the vitamin supplements as that, supplements to a good diet. NOT a replacement for a good diet. Take them along with eating great and make sure you get a good quality vitamin that is balanced so that your body can actually use what you are taking. The nature made line is good and fairly inexpensive. Take supplements that are dye, sugar and filler free. I am still opposed to protein powders but if you must, rice protein is the best option. It is just so easy to eat protein in nuts that you really don't need it. Well, there you go for those who asked.

FYI: please email me for those who want the gluten free recipes and for those who want to be in the gluten free exchange so I can get my lists together. Thanks!

I have another post comming today....stay tuned .

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Whole Food and Nothing BUT the Whole Food.....

I was reading an article in the waiting room the other day which gave today's little blog inspiration. The article in gist was talking about the nutritional values of food and the antioxidant effect of that super food. For instance, the carrot, loaded with beta carotene. Back in the 80's, the carrot was all the hype for being a cancer fighting tool. So, the wonderful food scientist decided that it was because of the beta carotene in the carrot and then created a supplement of just the beta carotene and it was being consumed everywhere. The problem, cancer rates actually increased in those taking the supplement! The problem....the great Creator himself did not design such a perfect little food to be stripped and sold into a little pill. The cancer fighting properties of this food was not solely dependent of the Beta Carotene, it was the whole package. There is so much more to the carrot than what gives in the orange color and the scientist just didn't get it. They did the same thing with the fiber pill. What we should be eating to get fiber is so much more than just the fiber itself sold in little pill forms. You see, it is all about the whole food, not the stripped down processed food. You cannot live on a diet of "fortified" foods and think you are getting your nutrients. For instance, a calcium pill alone is not effective unless balanced with magnesium and so on and so on. I get asked ALL the time about what protein supplements to take. My answer, NONE. That protein is taken, stripped and mass produced. The result, lost nutrition and in most cases , harm to the body. What should you be doing that is better and less expensive? I come home from the gym, eat a banana with a little raw peanut butter and a handful of raw almonds. Perfect nutrition and protein. Tastes great, no chalky aftertaste and no big inflated costs. Likewise, our children should be getting used to eating a good raw food, not just popping the Flinstones vitamins to supplement. It is not the same and never will be. Once again, we have what we need right there in the farmers market for all of our needs. Go stock up today and grab a good banana.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls.......

Making a whole grain roll that is also light and fluffy like a white flour roll is sometimes tricky. Here is a great recipe that I made yesterday using whole wheat and millet flour. I added a few cups of white and made sure the dough was good and sticky. The saying goes...."The stickier the dough, the lighter the roll." So, when the dough is just barely pulling from the side, it is ready. It should be tacky to the touch. These were quite tasty especially when served warm with Cinnamon Honey Butter. The recipe made a huge batch which gave me 24 clover leaf rolls, 24 regular rolls and a big loaf of cinnamon swirl bread which was also delicious and rose beautifully. You can add any type of grain with this bread just make sure that the majority is wheat. I used about 1 1/2 cups of millet which I just grind right with my wheat ( to learn about millet, read my blog entry on January 31st) . Try them out.

Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls

from the Healthy Recipes cookbook from Shar's

In Bosch or other mixer with dough hook place:

4 cups warm water

1/2 cup powdered milk

3 T. Yeast

1/2 C. Honey

2 T. dough enhancer

1/2 C. applesauce

1/3 C oil

4 C. freshly ground whole wheat flour

Mix thoroughly on speed 1 for 15 seconds. Cover and let sit for 10 min. until bubbly.


4 eggs

1 T. salt

enough flour to clean sides of bowl, 7-9 cups

Knead on speed 1 for 4 minutes. Dough should be soft and manageable, a little sticky. If too stiff, sprinkle a little water on top and mix.Oil hands and shape immediately into rolls or bread. Let rise until double. For rolls, bake at 350 for 12-18 minutes depending on shape. For bread, about 30 - 34 minutes.

Cinnamon Honey Butter

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Beat until light and fluffy.

I served the rolls up with the Ginger Lime Sirloin from Sister's Cafe (yum), Garlic roasted mashed potatoes with the skins on and the Strawberry spinach salad from my blog. Great dinner. I have also tried the Spinach and Chicken stuffed shells from Sister's Cafe last week and they were a hit. The kids all asked for seconds. I made half the recipe and it was a full pan.

FYI: For any interested, Shar's has the Cadillac Pressure Cooker pan on sale this month for $299. That is a great price and it is my favorite pressure cooker. I just can't live without mine. I had my potatoes done in 5 minutes.