Thursday, March 29, 2012

I've been listening to the book The Money Saving Mom's Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year and what a great book.  There is an entire section on slashing your grocery budget.  Crystal has so many great tips for Moms on how to get your life in order, not just your budget.  From how to cut clutter, run a yard sale and earn extra money here and there, it is just full of wonderful ideas.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wisdom from Julia Child

"Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music." ~Julia Child

Genetics or Behavior

Dr. Terry Wahls explains that lifestyle choices, what we eat and do, have far greater impact than genetics in determining the health we have. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Money Saving Diaper Coupon

I use Seventh Generation diapers for my little guys and right now they are offering a $1.00 off coupon for signing up at their website.

The Book That Started Me on My Real Food Journey

Sallon Fallon gives a brief introduction to the Weston A. Price Foundation and the traditional foods diet.

My interest in a 'real food' diet began when I read Sally's book, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

I highly recommend this book, not only for the why of eating a traditional diet, but also because it is full of basic recipes to help get you started.

This post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS Has a New Book

If you are at all interested in traditional techniques for cooking, I'm sure you are familiar with fermenting foods for storage and for the probiotic benefits.  I have known Wardeh for a few years and she has published her first hard copy book called The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods.  If you ever wanted to learn more about fermenting food, this is the book to buy!

Right now this book is available for a discount with a pre order and is set to be released on my birthday, April 3rd!  I look forward to reading a book that is written by my mentor and online friend.

You can visit Wardeh's website GNOWFGLINS where you will find loads of information and online courses.

Why I Love to Make Muffins

When I realized how non-nutritious even organic cold cereal is, and I tossed it aside for our family, I lamented the loss of ease in preparing breakfast for this large brood.  It was so easy to have one of the older children just pull out a box and serve all 11 of the children (infant not included).  While we didn't have cold cereal every day due to the expense (usually 3 large boxes to feed everyone), it was still my go-to plan for rushed mornings.

I'm happy to report that I've found something BETTER.... muffins!

1.  Muffins can be made ahead in large batches and frozen (very easy mornings)

2.  Muffins can be made in all sorts of varieties.  I have a basic muffin recipe that I just add ingredients to to make different types (see below).

3.  Muffins lend themselves very easily to the soaking of grains which enhances the absorption of nutrients and is much easier on the gut.

So, why are they BETTER than cold cereal?!


As you can imagine, breakfast alone, 13 cereal bowls filled our dishwasher.  With muffins, I simply hand the children a napkin, their muffin and a fruit and breakfast is served and cleaned up in no time.

Here is my basic muffin recipe.  Usually the grains get soaked the night before in the buttermilk, but if you don't have time or forget, then they are still better than store-bought boxed cereal.

This recipe makes almost 2 1/2 dozen muffins depending on the size and the add-ins you use.  It can be cut in half or doubled.  But, I suggest always making at least this size and freezing your extras if you don't have a mega-sized family.

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
( I like to use half hard red and half hard white, but anything will work)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups buttermilk (or sour milk if you don't have buttermilk on hand)
2 eggs
1 cup lightly melted butter (or oil)
1 cup honey

With a whisk mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  (If you are soaking overnight, just add the buttermilk to the flour and let it sit overnight.)  Make a well in the center and pour in the wet ingredients.  Begin by whisking the wet ingredients and slowly incorporating the dry ingredients, this help to not overmix.  (If your flour has been soaked then you may need a wooden spoon to break up the flour and incorporate into the mixture.)

Drop by spoonfuls into a prepared muffin tin and back for 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes then remove to cooling racks.  Cool completely before freezing.

Some add in ideas:

2 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of nutmeg for a spice muffin
2 peeled and diced apples
2 mashed bananas
chopped nuts
2 cups fresh or frozen berries

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday and Pennywise Platter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Clarified Butter

When gourmet cooking the 'real food' way, it comes in handy to know some traditional techniques that are often overlooked these days, but are important to consistent, quality cooking.  Being able to clarify your own butter is one of these techniques that lends the professional taste to everyday cookery.

Clarified butter is called by many names in various cultures (ghee, samna, brown butter), but it is essentially the same substance.  After being slowly simmered, the milk fat and the water are separated from the golden, buttery goodness to produce a product that has a very high smoke point (485 degrees F) which allows the home chef to cook delicate items, such as chicken breasts, in butter without the butter burning into an icky brown mess. It also acts a preservative.  The milk fat particles are what spoil in butter.  Clarified butter can last quite a long time.  Ours is usually completely used up before we ever get to a spoiling point.

The technique is quite simple, but takes a little bit of time.  Begin by starting with quality butter from grass-fed cows.  While not absolutely necessary, this increases the nutritional content of the final product. Cut the butter into small pieces and put in a saucepan over a very low heat source.  You are aiming for a very low simmer.

The butter will separate into three layers.  At the top will be some foam.  At the bottom is a the layer of sediment, or the milk fat.  The water will be boiling off.  In the middle will be the golden clarified butter goodness.

Keep the butter at a low simmer until you can no longer hear any sizzling.  The sizzling means that the water is still being evaporated.  You want to completely get rid of the water.  Once the sizzling stops, skim the foam from the top.  Set up a glass mason jar with a funnel lined with cheesecloth, a yogurt cheese bag or even a pillowcase.

Slowly pour the butter through the funnel trying to keep the sediment in the pan as it can clog your cloth.

If your cloth does get a little clogged, it's alright, but move it around for the liquid to drip through another spot on the cloth.

Your clarified butter is now ready to use in recipes.  While liquid when it is first strained, the clarified butter will become solid when left a low enough temperatures.  I store mine in the refrigerator.

Use your clarified butter for any recipe that calls for sauteing in butter.  It is also great all by itself and full of wonderful nutrients.

This post is linked to Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Monday, March 19, 2012

FREE E-book: Design a Dish

I recently downloaded free e-book from Real Food for Less Money called Design a Dish and I'm quite impressed with the simplicity, yet usefulness of the recipes.

It is a real dinner-saver when you have a refrigerator of food, but no idea what to cook.  The author walks you through creating your own meals with the ingredients you have on hand.  Definitely worth signing up for the newsletter to get this free e-book.