Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lentil Crustini

This was last nights dinner. It also happens to be one of my year supply meals and it also happens to be quite delicious. Of course, it is also quite nutritious especially since we served it alongside a large green salad.

First off, let's talk about what a "Crustini" is....
It is an Italian thing. It is usually served at the beginning of a meal. Crustini is a piece of bread that is toasted and served with a variety of toppings. It can be made from lentils,herbs, tomatoes or even meat pastes. Italians love bread and they always have it with meals. The crustini came to place centuries ago to use up the stale, left-over bread. Back in the 12th century, the government imposed a tax on salt. The bakeries didn't want to pay it so they stopped using salt in the bread. With the salt missing, the bread would go stale quicker. A paste was made or herbed toppings used to go on the crustini to soften it a bit.

This is a very simple crustini but quite tasty and accepted by my entire brood. I think they were surprised as it doesn't look too appetizing. The side dish of lemon/rosemary new potatoes went perfectly. It is a very cheap meal. We used some whole grain artisan bread for our base. Lentils are full of nutrition, check out my past post for the nitty gritty here.

If you want to try out this meal at your home, here you go:

Lentil Crustini

2 T. Olive Oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped, 1 t. dried sage if you must
2 cloves minced garlic
1 C. small green lentils, washed and picked over
2 1/4 C. boiling water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan until hot but not burning. Add the onion, sage and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn.

Stir in the lentils just to coat them with the oil then add the boiling water. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the lentils are soft. I used the pressure cooker for about 15 minutes on the second ring.

Season with salt and pepper when done.

Spread on chewy, rustic bread while warm adding additional sage leaves if desired.

Rosemary and Lemon Roasted Potatoes

2 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup olive oil
leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
juice of 2 lemons
zest of one lemon
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Par boil potatoes that have been cut into 1 inch chunks, peels on for about 10 minutes. Drain and let water completely drain off. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and coat potatoes, tossing to make sure all have been covered. Pour into an oiled roasting pan. Stirring occasionally, bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly golden and tender. Salt and pepper when done.

**Recipes adapted from "Gusto Italiano".

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


It's been a while since we had our food storage discussions and a reader prompted me to touch on the subject again. It's always good to get remotivated . My shelves are looking a little anemic so I am now restocking.

This world of ours keeps getting crazier. The "What if's" seem a little more plausible. Just think about the gulf oil leak right now. What can happen with that? We already are going to suffer losses in seafood but other industries can be affected because of oil issues with transportation and ports. Who knows. It really wouldn't take much to cause a catastrophe. We need to be ready. Would you be able to live on what you have in your home right now for a month even? What about a week?

How do I run my food storage program?
Well, if you missed my post on the subject a year ago, you can check out my food storage book here.
However, that was written before I started the mostly vegetarian gig so I am in the process of totally redoing the menu. That also means that I have to totally redo the whole book since the pantry lists will now be changed. It is always a good idea to revisit your game plan every year and reevaluate.

Plan out your menus. What do you like to eat? Try to keep it as healthy as you can. You need canned foods on hand. I don't like them but they are necessary. Stock what is as natural as possible and rotate when you can. I stock things that will make a meal out of my grains and beans. I can cook beans with the canned tomatillo sauce and some homemade tortillas. I can add some jalapenos and seasonings to canned tomatoes for salsa. I keep jarred garlic, pesto, sun dried tomatoes and jarred shredded Parmesan for my Italian sauces. Not nearly as good as the fresh stuff but will work when needed. My food storage meals will look much like what I cook now, just not as fresh.

Learning how to sprout now will also help you to be able to create live, green food out of your stored grains and beans. The nutrition will expound if you can't have garden fresh food.

Some of the meals I have planned are:

Bowtie Pasta with sun dried tomatoes and pesto sauce
Lentil Crustini and roasted potatoes
White bean tomatillo wraps
Vegetarian Black Bean chili and cornbread
Creamy veggie soup
Spaghetti with Bread sticks
Navajo tacos
Fried Rice with veggies and bacon
Chicken with Raspberry Chipotle glaze and mashed potatoes
Hawaiian Barbecue Pizza

No cream of soup recipes in this bunch. I think I would starve first. Ok, not really but you won't see that on my shelves.

If you are needing to stock up, my sister in law has started a new website for the AZ gals to give them the best stock up sales of the week. Click on her cute "A Full Pantry" button on my sidebar for the weekly specials.

Stock what you eat. Also don't forget that we may want shampoo and toilet paper as well. I also add in hair color to the mix. I don't want to be sporting my gray hair if times are hard! Yikes.

Let's get motivated. I don't want to share what I have with you all, and... I probably won't so fill your shelves. Make your food storage book so that it will happen. Start with one meal at a time. Make it simple. Just start.

Check out the Preparing Wisely button for great deals on food storage items. They have awesome prices on their freeze dried products, especially and much more! If you need some menu ideas, check my year supply label for past year supply posts.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mango-Honey dew salsa

The Mango-Honey Dew salsa had a change of plans. It didn't make it on the pizza as planned. It was saved for it's favorite companion; The Caribbean Taco. It is one of, if not THE favorite dish at our house. Since we only do meat once a week, we save it for our favorites. This is it. Not kidding. I have blogged it before but I will do it again so you can see the pictures. I am still licking my lips as we speak. I ate 3. I could have eaten 5. The mango's I bought were the best mango's I have ever in my whole life consumed. They were so sweet, they tasted like a mango Popsicle. It went well with my garden grown honey dew that tasted like a cucumber. I added in some of my garden peppers and onions to boot. It was perfect. I love fruit salsa's. They are great with peaches and pineapple as well. It is a great way to use up what fruit you have.

Mango-Honey Dew Salsa

2 mango's
1/2 honey dew
4 T. minced onion
1/3 C. chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno or other pepper, seeded and chopped. More if desired
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and honey to taste

Chop fruit into small pieces. Add all other ingredients and chill to allow flavors to blend. Great on fish, pizzas and chicken.

Another taco picture. I am sure you will get plenty more as we are taco folk around here. This one is as simple as it gets: honey lime chicken with the salsa on top. This is in my cookbook and somewhere long ago on this blog but I will give you it again:

Honey Lime Chicken

1 1/2 lbs shredded chicken
4 T. honey
3 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. coconut oil
2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
salt to taste

Let sit for a bit to allow the chicken to soak in the flavors.

These need little else along side them. We served it with cucumber and carrot slices and some grapes. That's all. A perfect summer dinner. I tried to make these vegetarian with beans instead of chicken but this was one of the very few dishes that it just couldn't be pulled off on. We reserve this for our Sunday meat dinners. Worth it.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Another common question; What about skincare?

There are two components to skincare - The outside and The inside. To have good skin, you must address both.

In addition, keep in mind that the skin is the largest organ and what we put on it seeps into the body. The less chemicals we use, the better we are.

The Inside: Of course, what you eat matters. Food allergies will appear on your skin with rashes and eczema. Acne will tell the tale of imbalances also in the body and can largely be helped through diet and supplements. If we aren 't drinking enough, our skin will also suffer with dryness and wrinkles. Our skin will stay more elastic by eating a diet with good fatty acids and vitamins. This is nothing new. We all need to watch what and how we eat.

The Outside: There is the obvious; sun exposure. Cover up if you are out too long. We all know that. But, what many of us aren't paying attention to is the chemicals we are slathering on our skin on a daily basis. We think that what we put on top of the body stays on top. However, we have millions of little pores in the skin. What are pores? Little tiny holes. Little tiny holes that absorb chemicals straight into the body. We don't want to put anything on the skin that we wouldn't want to put under the skin.

With that said, what do I do? Simplicity.

Coconut oil is my weapon of choice. I take my eye makeup off with it and I use it for my moisturizer. I put some orange oil with it for collagen production and for a great smell. I love it. I remove my makeup with a simple face wash. I exfoliate daily with a rough towel or you can use some cornmeal in the soap. I use mineral makeups and as much natural products as I can. Deodorant can be made with coconut oil and essential oils as well like lemongrass and lavender. My husband hasn't worn commercial deodorant for several months and hasn't been offensive yet. I still need to do a little better in this area but I am making progress. I have a friend who's sister is very much into the natural lifestyle. She knows what's going on. Lucky for the world, she has developed some great skincare products and makeup that are totally natural with a coconut and grape seed oil base. They are wonderful. They are also very affordable. You can check her out on her button on my sidebar at Essentially Basic Skincare. Lovely.

As with everything, I believe in keeping with what grows and what comes from the earth. Our skin tells our inside story. We want our story to be beautiful and glowing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Enlightened Homemaker Apothecary Shoppe....Now Open!

Well miracles do happen. I stayed in my jammies all morning to finally get this done. The Enlightened Homemaker Apothecary Shoppe is now open. You can link to it here or on the sidebar to shop all the great natural products I carry.

The cookbook will be reprinted so keep emailing me your orders. The cookbook is $18 or $24 if shipped. They will be done by the end of July due to vacations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Next question....Dinner?

The next question asked....What is for dinner around my house and how do I plan the meals?

That has changed in the past few years along with my eating habits. I used to always plan a 2 week menu. I would buy the ingredients and mostly stick with what I had planned. It is a great idea and helps get dinner done with less trips to the store. However, a few years back I started to eat almost all organic and mostly local. Then, last year, I went mostly vegetarian. That changed the way I cooked and the way I shopped. So, meals are now centered around what is in season, what looks good at the farmer's market and what is growing in my garden. You can't chart a two week menu for this.

To get the most nutrition out of produce, you want it as fresh as possible. Cooking "fresh" takes cooking something by availability. To do this, you need to have ideas. To get ideas, you need to read cookbooks like novels. If you want to eat fresh, you need to read "fresh". You don't want books on slow cooker meals, main dishes by Campbell's soup or Casserole ensembles. You want books that embody flavor. You want books that travel the world inviting you to taste their cuisine (far better than American fare I believe). You want books with pictures of fresh fruit and veggies on the cover. By reading the recipes like a book and all the wonderful intro's, you develop ideas. Ideas help you put meals together, with or without recipes. If you don't have ideas, you can't look at fresh produce in your garden or at the market and create a marvelous dish on demand. It takes schooling. I devour cookbooks. Especially Mediterranean ones.

So, here is a few things I have going right now to work with. I have a honeydew that spontaneously grew from my compost bin mulch without asking. I picked it a little too early and it tastes like a cucumber. I found some perfectly ripe mango's so they will all go together in a mango/honeydew salsa to top a grilled pizza. I have many beautiful bell peppers of different colors that will go great in any variety of dishes. I am thinking in some roasted potatoes as a side dish. The cucumber will be in my Tzatziki sauce for the Greek Falafal dish I will make. I have a tree full of plums that need to be eaten and I just read a most delicious plum cake recipe from an authentic Italian Cookbook I just didn't quite give back to my mom before they moved.

In reading about other cultures, I have found that almost all other regions eat this way. They don't use cans of food, produce out of season or bake things until they are brown. They put real food together with real flavors. Food is savoured. I love this way of eating. You just need produce and spices.

I do have some sort of revolving menu's to go on. It seems that my meals fall into certain categories. I make something Mexican, something Italian, one dish with meat, one meal usually all out of side dishes, a salad type dinner, something Asian and some type of soup. There are a million different combinations with those labels. But, it gives me guidelines and variety to go off of.

Some recent meals were:

Fresh tomato/basil linguine with Bread and fruit
Tomatillo and white bean tacos
Roasted Vegetable soup (I know it's 150 degrees here.... still love soup)
Hawaiian Pizza's and salad
Roasted potatoes with herbed cheese sauce and roasted veggies
Jamaican Black Beans and Sweet potatoes over coconut rice
Fresh Corn enchiladas
Pesto Pannini's with fresh tomatoes and salad
Roasted Vegetable Penne
Crispy honey chicken with rice and veggies
Southwestern salad with beans, rice, fresh veggies and tomatillo ranch

Just a few ideas. Many of these you will find on this blog.

To be able to cook on demand, you also need to have a good variety of things on hand. Some things that are usually stocked in my kitchen are:

fresh Parmesan cheese (One of the most easily digested cheeses)
all sorts of other cheeses
vegetable and chicken stock
all sorts of spices and herbs
fresh herbs
huge variety of grains
many different types of beans and rices
coconut milk
hot sauces and asian chili paste
Bragg's liquid aminos to use in place of soy sauce
Vinegar's of all flavors
fresh farm eggs
plain yogurt
coconut and olive oil
Organic heavy cream
Pasta of all shapes
sweeteners: sucanat, honey, coconut sugar, molasses

With those items, I can make just about anything with what grows and is collected. If I just stock those staples, I usually don't have to run out to grab a missing, last minute ingredient.

I do try to have a mental note for the week of what I may want to prepare so that I can check what I need to have on hand if i don't already. I also check my fridge a couple times a week to see if there is anything that needs to be used before it goes bad. I hate to waste food! Especially anything that I grew myself.

Not all nights go as planned. Some nights we pick up pizza. (last night) Tonight, I got home at 7pm and had to start dinner. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but with time so far gone, it didn't go so well. I wanted to recreate this Indian rice dish with cardamon and peas. It didn't look like dinner at all. I kept adding things and the end result was ridiculous. Nothing went together. Not that anything was bad but it wasn't really a dish that looked like anything. In the end, we were all fed. Thank goodness most nights turn out much better.

Hope I answered the question. It takes time to develop your kitchen saviness. Wherever you are now, build on it. You may need to keep at the two week menu for now. I love to read recipe's on line and print my favorites to put in my "blog recipe" binder. Build a great arsenal of recipes to pull from so you don't get stuck in a 10 dinner rut. Kids aren't always so excited about your adventures but they will learn. My kids are doing so well with or mostly vegetarian lifestyle. I am so proud of the way they eat and that they support me and what I want to eat. Start your kids early. They are developing their taste buds so feed them.... don't let them get hooked on simple foods. Expand. Explore.

***I have had quite a few inquiries lately about my cookbook. I don't have any more left but please email me if you would like one. If I get a good enough response, I may go for a second printing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My number one email question.....

There is one question, in particular, that I get on a regular basis. I always tell them that I will blog about it soon and then it just doesn't happen. It's not that I don't want to answer the question, it is just that I feel like there really isn't anything amazing about the answer I will be giving.

The question: What is your routine? Tell me how your day goes?

First off, understand that my attempt to answer this question will in no way imply that I really have "it" all together. "It" has gotten more together over the years but "it" is still a work in progress. However, looking back at my young motherhood days, I guess there is some value in hearing from a seasoned mother. I think the real question here applies to the feeding and cleaning aspect of my life. So, that is where I will attempt to outline my routines. (Understanding that of course, some days, routines are only attempted and not always executed.)

To look at what must happen to have a successful day, my day really starts the night before. So, let's begin there; when the little ones go to bed. The "pre-day" routines.

I almost never, ever, go to bed with a messy house. If I do, I will always be a good hour behind schedule. I will be grumpy. I will have to move other important things out of the way or skimp here or there to get it all done. So, it really is not worth the price I pay by getting the house clean before bed. We aren't talking vacuum carpets and shine toilets type clean. Just make sure all floors are picked up, dishes done and floor swept type clean. Kids are always a part of this routine.

Then, I figure out what breakfast will be, if it hasn't been figured out before. I need a game plan because the morning comes fast. I need to make sure the flours are soaking if need be. I need to figure out how much time I need to allot to make the breakfast. Some breakfasts are quicker than others so if something needs to bake, I need to start that right away versus do other things first. I get my game plan down. I look at the calendar and chart a daily course in my mind.

I also need to make sure I have things sprouting, culturing or soaking. Do I need to start Kefir or yogurt? Do I need more sprouts? If so, I need to get it going at night. It takes only minutes to do but you must get the timing down so that you don't go to use kefir and it is gone. It takes preparation.

Then, it is my personal time. I need a few minutes to unwind before bed, which is usually way too late.

Morning: The most important thing in the world - GET UP BEFORE THE KIDS!

If you do not do this, you are missing out on critical preparation time and meditation time. Waking up to demanding kids makes me grumpy. I also want to get things done before I am summoned.

I wake up and after the morning incidentals, I start a load of laundry and make sure there are a couple loads dried in the basket for boy 1 or 2 to fold for their morning chores. I always start a load or I will be behind.

Then, I go to the kitchen and get breakfast going. Kids are up early at my house and have to be out of the house fast. Summer is no different. We have summer school and swim team around here. I want them to leave with a belly full of good food, so I can't sleep in even if I wanted to. Scripture time is early around the kitchen table. Dad reads while I flip the pancakes or scramble the eggs. Jobs are done and kids are out the door. A few stragglers stay behind.

It's then time for the kitchen cleanup, checking on things sprouting/fermenting and picking up the morning messes. Beds, switch laundry, bathrooms, etc. Whatever little people can't/don't do. Time for a little exercise and getting ready for the day. This all happens in under 1.5 hours , tops.

Next up is getting dinner in my mind. I need to mentally know what needs to be done later in the day so dinner doesn't surprise me. It doesn't always happen. But, early preparation is the best. What do I need? What time do I need to start it? Is there something I can prep before? Soak beans, cut lettuce, etc. Wish I had more time to get it going in the morning but I do what I can with the time allotted. I usually have to be out of the house pretty quickly.

Midday is always a mad dash of running around and shuffling kids. Nothing different from any other mom in the world. I don't like lunch. For whomever is here, I pull out leftovers, if any, bread, fruit, hummus. Whatever I have. I don't plan lunches. They just aren't a big event for me. They are quick and healthy. If it is school time, lunches are packed before kids even come down for breakfast, most the time. They rarely buy at the school. They don't like to. Thank goodness.

Since the midday schedule is always crazy, dinner usually needs to be executed quickly. For those that think a homemade dinner takes too long, they haven't tried hard enough. I can cook a delicious homemade dinner well before you could go through a drive thru. It just takes organization.

Since my day has been mentally planned out in the wee morning hours, I know when dinner needs to be started. It isn't always clockwork but most of the time, a dinner is on the table at a reasonable time. We eat in most days of the week, if not all. The Mr. and I go out to eat usually one night a week while the kids get a little less exciting dinner at home. They are usually thrilled. Sometimes they even get to go out with us or get take out.

Dinner is cleaned up, by me or a little helper. Then, it starts out all over again!

Nothing special to my routine but the most important thing; there must be a routine. Having a clean house and preparing healthy meals does not take all day. If you get behind, it is hard to catch up. If you don't have your kids help or allow them to string toys all over the house, you will always be in the clean up mode and will have other things left in the wings. Everyone in the house needs a routine and rules. Even the toddlers. Have a place for everything so they know where to put it when they are done.

That is really about it. Hope I answered those lingering emails. Sure doesn't seem very exciting to me but that is about how it all goes down. Any more emails I haven't answered?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mexican Wednesdays

I bring dinner to my grandparents on Wednesday. I realized last week after I delivered the food to their kitchen that I seem to always be bringing them Mexican food. I then pondered it. I make Mexican food on Wednesday. I didn't realize this. It was subconscious. It only dawned on me since I started to deliver my meals on the same day of the week. There was variety. It wasn't like I was making bean burritos each Wednesday but it was ALWAYS Mexican food. Weird.

When did this start and why did I not take notice of this? I was the one cooking. I did plan the meals. It must have been born out of necessity and the fact that I must eat Mexican food at least once a week.

Using some deductive reasoning, I figured out why my brain chose Mexican Wednesdays. Wednesdays are my busiest. I run too many places and have little time for preparation. Mexican food is fresh and fast. I soak my beans in the morning or the night before and when I get home in the evening, I can put them in the pressure cooker for under 15 minutes. I can make the rest of the meal in no time and you can make all sorts of variations to the dish. It never looks the same but is always a crowd pleaser. Enchiladas can be put together in the morning and there always seems to be some left over salsa or veggies of some sort to add to the dish. It was all about time. It was just so amusing to me that I didn't put it all together until my grandfather commented on my burritos.

Having realized that last week, it took me by total surprise when tonight I served up the above dish. It wasn't until I plated it up that I realized that once again, Mexican Wednesday was not planned. It was nonetheless delicious and done in under 20 minutes. One of my families favorites.

If you would like to jump aboard the Mexican train, here is what this tasty dish consisted of:

Let's call it White Bean Tomatillo Wrap

I soaked my white beans in the morning. I covered them in water, about 3 cups of water per cup of beans. I always make extra to freeze for later. I just used my white beans from the cannery. White beans seem to soak the tomatillo flavor up well but I often use Anasazi beans with this dish. Heat the water to just about boiling then promptly turn it off and let it soak overnight or most of the day.

When ready, wash and rinse the beans then cook in a pot or a pressure cooker. I cooked them for 10 minutes on the second ring and let them natural release. I imagine it would take around 45 minutes on the stove if not using a pressure cooker but not sure; haven't done that since 2000. Salt when done.

Cook up your tortillas. Make homemade or at least use the fresh Costco variety. NO stale store tortillas. It will ruin it.

Chop up your veggies. I used tender cucumbers cut into small pieces, spinach and fresh garden tomatoes.

Shred cheese. I think pepper jack makes the dish.

Toss the drained beans in tomatillo salsa. Make it yourself (see recipe below) or for a cheat, use the jarred versions. Glass is best but the canned Herdez tomatillo salsa is great also. Just hate the fact that most cans contain BPA. But, nonetheless, it is in my food storage.

Salt the beans if needed after adding to the salsa. Let it absorb the sauce for a minute.

Heat the oven to broil. Sprinkle some cheese down the center of the tortilla and broil until melted and the edges of the tortilla is browned. When done, add some beans down the center, careful not too get to much sauce and top with veggies. fold up and enjoy with some fresh fruit.

Muy, Muy bueno. So simple it hardly deserves a recipe at all.

Tomatillo Salsa

1 jalapeno
1 1/2 bunches of cilantro, no stems
12-15 fresh tomatillos, about 1 1/2 to 2 inch size, use less if larger
juice of 1 lime
1-3 teaspoons of sugar, or other sweetener
salt to taste

Boil the jalapeno in water; just place in water in microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. Cut off stem and throw the whole thing in blender with all other ingredients. Make sure you have husked and cleaned the tomatillos first. Blend until almost smooth. Chill.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tender years

I stumbled upon this picture this week of my boys at the beach. I looked at the progression of small to big. It seemed like they were all just small last week. Where did the time go? Then, I started to think deeper. What have I done with that time? Did I feed them?

For a minute we are not going to talk about food. I spend so much time worrying about what I put in their mouths but food is just one part of what we must feed these tender souls.

Am I feeding their minds? Their spirits? Their work ethics? Their desire to serve? Their ability to love? Am I feeding them in these tender years of growth by example and with opportunities so that they will have "eaten up" all that they need to before they walk out my door? Heavy stuff.

This thought process carried on further when my husband and I had a conversation about our teenage years the other night. We were discussing the jobs we had as teens in the high school years. I had many of them - none of them very glamorous. At 15, I cleaned and cooked for a family who completely messed up everything from one day to the next. I had to cook fish, devein shrimp, polish silver and clean a rotten pumpkin out of the carpet. I did it all for $5 per hour. One of the fun jobs I had. My husband recalled his "fun" summers working construction starting at 4:30 in the morning in the hot AZ sun for long hours. We thought, "do any teens do this anymore?" Can they? Have we messed them up, dumbed them down, created wimps? By wanting better for them, have we not fed their hard work ethic?

I did work hard as a teen. I worked almost every Saturday that I could think of instead of playing like many of my friends and many days after school. I didn't like it many of the times but I chose to do it. I wasn't asked to. I can tell you that those days of cleaning toilets and cooking horrible smelling fish, that I learned how to take care of a family and work hard. I came to the marriage table with skills to offer. What will my children bring with them as a dowry?

One thing I know we have done right; we don't have video games. I detest video games. Detest. I hate the time they waste. There is absolutely not one single thing that they bring good into a life. If you have time to play, you have time to serve and learn something else. I think we have messed up a whole generation with that invention. I know that a little here and there is fine. However, is it ever a little?

Things we have done wrong? Sure. I do too much for my kids. I make too many beds, I don't teach them to cook like I should, I did the dishes for them for too long and folded their cloths. I send them in long before I come in from working in the yard. I worry about them having a good childhood sometimes more than I worry about if they will be ready to leave.

I need to focus on feeding them on a higher level. Time is critical. Changes need to be made.

I have good kids. They do so many things right and I know that it may have something to do with what I have taught them. I hope. But, it is time to step it up. The world is only getting worse. We need to feed these kids to be champions. To be able to dominate the troubled times ahead. No wimps will make it. No lazy bones will pay the rent. The world is not a video game.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's an Enlightened Homemaker Pampered Chef Party.....And Your INVITED!!!

I LOVE kitchen gadgets. Not the kind of gadgets that you get just because they are cute gadgets; I love the gadgets that are the right tool for the right job type gadgets. The gadgets that save me time and help me cook up some delightful dishes. I was thinking about some of my very favorites after my last post on two of my favorites; the scoop and the lemon juicer. I realized that all my favorites came from the Pampered Chef. You know, you go to a friends house for a Pampered Chef party and you see some gadget that you just can't live without. That is me. Most of the time, I find that I truly can't live without them. I wonder how I ever made it in this world without them to begin with.

So, I thought, why not have a blog Pampered Chef party so you can all see some of my must haves and order right here off my blog. Well, here you go. It's on from Today until next Friday. Browse my favorites below and then order at the link below. Just type my name in as host (Shari Goodman). Tell me about your favorite gadgets, Pampered Chef or otherwise. If you live out of state, they will ship to you. If you live by me, they will ship to my house.

My first most very favorite, use everyday gadget is this masher. It is solid. It cleanse easily and mashes my frozen OJ concentrate like nothing. I use it for mashed potatoes and mashing up bananas for muffins. It is sold to mash up your hamburger for cooking but I have used it for everything but that. I even take this with me on trips when I am cooking. LOVE IT! Plus, I think it's only $10.

The Mini Whisk. It is so cute and little but is perfect for whisking up a couple eggs or when making a cream sauce. It is just the right size and is always being pulled out.
The Chopper. I am sure you have all seen these. But, this one is easy to wash and chops everything. Super convenient.

The Spritzer. This little bottle is genius. It takes your oils, like olive oil and turns it into a spray. I love that I get just the oil and nothing extra that isn't wanted in my kitchen.

The salad dressing bottle. Or, whatever it is called. I use this all the time for my homemade dressings. It has recipes on the bottle but I have never used them. I just love the fact that it has a whisk in it and a spout. You mix it all in one bottle and keep it in the fridge and pour it when needed. Perfect.

The Mandolin. This little guy has several attachments to make a variety of cuts. Best of all, it's been redesigned so that they blades are recessed. It may save a finger or two.

Now don't forget the lemon juicer and cookie scoop from my previous post. Total must haves. If you would like to own some of these great gadgets or to see what other great things the Pampered Chef has to offer, you may order right now!

Click here: The Enlightened Homemaker Pampered Chef Party

Friday, June 11, 2010

Veggie Tales

I went to the garden to pick our veggies and this little guy was just staring at me. I have something for always seeing faces in my food. But as I picked these, they just spoke to me, "I am your dinner." Since I live in AZ and it is HOT, like down under HOT, the only thing that sounds good to me to eat is veggies and crisp watermelon. I can't seem to want a dinner that doesn't have these foods as the main ingredient. Today was really hot so I needed to make something that took very little effort and was light in the belly. Hmmmmm, yes. Veggie omelets, lemon zucchini muffins and crisp, sweet watermelon. Perfect for a hot summer night. First for the muffins, a few little gadgets that you just must have:

The Juicer

This little gadget is amazing. You just put in your half lemon and squeeze. Out comes the juice and no seeds. Easy clean up and quick as can be. One of my best friends for sure.
The Scoop

I bought this guy for cookies but it is the mainstay for my mini muffins. I always make mini muffins over the larger sizes because they only take about 12 minutes and the less time I have to heat the house, the better. Plus, I swear the cute little ones just taste better and are the perfect size for little mouths.

Need to use up your garden zucs? Here is the recipe to get the job done. This makes lots.... like 48 mini muffins and one full loaf but it is great to freeze or you can just half the recipe.

Lemon Zucchini Muffins

Blend together:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar or whatever sweetener you desire. I like to mix up honey, sucanat and coconut sugar. You can also use less sugar if desired.
1 C. oil. Coconut oil works great.


3 C. whole grain flour. I used soft white and sorghum sprouted flours this day.
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
3 C. finely grated zucchini
Juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp. sea salt. Celtic is my favorite.
Nuts if desired

Mix all ingredients together. Add more flour if too wet. The batter is runny, a little thicker than cake batter. Fill mini muffin pans or any size desired. Bake at 350 until middle springs back when touched; about 12-14 minutes for mini size.

Now on to the omelets. First off, you need to keep the veggies crisp. Oh how I loathe soggy, tasteless veggies. That's where most people ruin their children on veggies.


Cook only to release their flavors and soften them slightly. You want a little texture.

Keep them in small pieces. Large chunks are easily detected by the kids. The smaller they are, they harder they are to pick out of their meal. Also, I like to taste a variety of veggies on one fork full. Not one big chunk of one veggie. When they are smaller, you can cook them less which leaves more nutrients. There are great gadgets for this and they are usually pretty cheap.

Season them up! I love flavor and veggies are the perfect medium for this. I have a cupboard full of my favorites and this one below, the mesquite flavor from The Spice Hunter is one of them. It goes perfect on veggies and is great in soups and meat dishes. It isn't hot just flavorful. I sprinkle some on when I am stir frying my veggies.

This omelet had green bell peppers, leeks, mild jalapeno peppers and a Poblano all from my garden. I then added on a little cheese and some garden fresh salsa.

A few little tips to making a great omelet:

Whisk in some milk to the eggs to help them be a little thinner. Pour on the egg batter like a crepe in a medium hot pan that has a little melted butter. Let the egg set for just a second before you put the ingredients on. Then, on one side, lay your cheese down if desired an the rest of your filling. Let is just sit right there until the egg is set. Not overdone. Just cooked. Fold it in half and plate it. Make sure your heat is low enough that the egg doesn't get browned. It should cook a little slower so that the flavors all mesh together and the egg doesn't get chewy. Eggs get slaughtered in the kitchen for some reason.

My neighbor boy had dinner with us when we had omelets one night and he told me that he didn't like omelets and that it was kinda weird to have them for dinner. But, he is always a trouper and ate it. He asked for another one. It's all in the technique. I simply love them. Why not for dinner? It was the perfect HOT summer night dinner. Light and flavorful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I have been asked many times about advertising on my blog and I have never really explored that area. Any advertising I have done for others was strictly for friends whom I wholeheartedly supported their products, pro bono. However, I have now decided that I will allow a few advertisements on my blog but would prefer to pick who goes on my sidebar instead of someone deciding for me. I would like to give you, my friends, first pick. You will get a sidebar rectangle to advertise whatever you want. You may change it as often as you would like. I also have my store blog that will take on advertising in the next two weeks if that is a better fit. If interested, please email me directly. I am looking for companies that fit the mold: family, food, natural care, etc.

New posts coming! Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When the ants come marching in....

I came into the kitchen to finish up the never ending supply of dishes and the floor seemed to be moving. The rolled oats that were spilled on the floor were now in a straight line, headed for the baseboard. I did a double take and sure enough, I had ants. I HATE pests in my home. I have never had ants in this house and how in the heck do they get in in the first place? So uninvited.

What to do? I will NEVER put harmful chemicals in my chemical free zone so ant spray was not an option. I could remove the oats, no problem and suck up those little pesky ants in my new vacuum cleaner but their friends needed to be instructed that my home was not a place they should tarry. I remembered a trick from my SIL when she too had this pesky problem: ants loathe cinnamon. I sprinkled my fine Madagascar cinnamon along the baseboard where they found entry and watched the magic happen. It almost appeared that they were coughing. They backtracked and got the heck out of there. I have a nice cinnamon scent going on and no ants to be found. Tremendous. Thanks for the tip, Megan! Let's hope the ants have found another home with oats on the floor to bother. Good riddance.

On another note.... anyone want a kitten??? Please.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coconut Curry

Many of you may have a garden overfilling with veggies right now, and if you do, you need some good veggie dishes to mix it up. I love this simple curry dish. It is a little sweet and a little spicy. You can add whatever veggies you want or even add chicken if you desire.

5 cups veggies cut into 1 inch chunks. Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, etc.
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes or diced
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 T. curry powder, or more as desired
1 1/2 t. paprika
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T. sugar or sucanat
1 14 oz can coconut milk
cayenne pepper as desired or Thai Chili paste

Saute onions in oil until clear. Add in veggies, garlic and spices and stir fry 3 minutes being careful not to burn. Add in coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce and sugar and stir. Cover ans simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30-40 minutes until sauce thickens. It will thicken also as it cools.

Serve with Basmati or Jasmine rice. Sprinkle with extra unsweetened coconut also if desired.