I’ve been politely ignoring the blog for the past few weeks. It would nudge me and whisper “please write something” and I would quietly respond “I’m just too busy right now, maybe tomorrow.” Which promptly turned into three weeks. I think.
Anywho I’ve neglected to mention on here that we are expecting another baby at the end of the summer! We are so excited!! But there is a lot to do to get ready. Since we moved to a new house last fall we haven’t really done anything with the bedrooms. Now we are doing the bedroom shuffle. Our son is moving to a new room, his room is becoming the extra room, and the new nursery will be in the room that currently houses all our extra unpacked boxes from moving. So we are basically redoing 2 kids rooms, though I am having a lot of fun decorating.
My son also recently turned two and we had a party for him at our house for family and a few friends. That involved some new craft projects which I am excited to share.
Finally we have been rushing to get the garden planted once the weather finally warmed up. We had snow on May 2nd! We finally finished it for the most part this week, and I have a few pictures to share today.
If you remember from the last update, we turned a tiered rock bed in our backyard into a vegetable garden. We were able to get the second tier tilled and fenced in addition to the first section. We are going to leave the third tier empty this season.
Unfortunately all of our seedlings died. I have no idea what happened. They were growing just fine and then pooped out. So we bought some transplants at the local nursery. In the newly tilled and fenced upper tier, we planted two Roma tomato plants, an early girl tomato, a cherry tomato and two genovese basil plants.
The lettuce and radishes we planted several weeks ago are finally getting going. The first planting looks great and I think it will only be another week or two before we start harvesting.
I also planted a short row of bush beans about 10 days ago and they are starting to come up now. I’ll do another planting late this week.
It’s so nice to look out the window and see plants growing in the garden. Fingers crossed that they actually yield something this year. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much just in case.
It’s been about two months since I read an article that jump-started our initiative to eat less processed food. It’s been going well so far. I hope to share my thoughts on the past two months soon, but today I wanted to share a couple ways I’ve found so far to save money on a real food diet.
First is a flax egg. I’ve mentioned this several times before so it might not be new to you. A flax “egg” is 1 tbsp of ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp of water. Let it sit for a few minutes to gel and then you can substitute it for an egg in almost any recipe. I find it works best in pancakes, waffles, and quick breads & muffins.
We buy a big bag of organic golden ground flax at Costco. We can get several dozen flax “eggs” out of it and I believe it costs around $7. Organic eggs however are quite expensive, often costing more than $4 a dozen at the store. At the market last weekend a vendor had organic chicken eggs for $6.50 a dozen! My thought is, if I am going to spend that much on eggs, I want to actually enjoy the taste of the eggs, not bury them in pancake batter.
So I use flax eggs almost exclusively in baking and we try to reserve our real eggs for eating only. Although I haven’t done the exact math, the cost per flax egg is much cheaper than the cost per real egg.
The second money saver is relatively new to me: homemade oat milk. Oh She Glows posted a recipe awhile back and I’ve made several batches of it in the last two months. All you need is a cup of steel cut oats, 3-4 cups of water and a blender. The active time is 15-20 minutes (there is some pre-soaking involved) and the result is almost a quart of “milk”.
I mainly make the plain, unflavored version and use it in recipes that call for milk. Again mainly pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc and then we also use it in smoothies. We buy the Whole Foods brand of organic, unsweetened almond milk to drink which costs about $5.60 per gallon. Using homemade oat milk whenever I can in recipes leaves the almond milk for drinking, mainly for our son. This lets the almond milk last longer, saving us money in the long run.
To break down the cost savings, a pound of steel cut oats costs $1.49 from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. A cup weighs approximately 6 oz which makes the cost of a cup $0.56. One cup of oats will make about a quart of milk. The almond milk we buy costs approximately $1.40 per quart so you can see that it is much cheaper to use the oat milk. I try to use the unflavored oat milk in any recipe where we can’t taste the difference.
I did make the flavored version once and tried drinking it straight. It was ok…..definitely an acquired taste I think. Oat milk can get a tad on the slimy side which can make it a bit unpalatable when drinking it straight from the jar. We did enjoy the flavored version in green smoothies. I think it would also work in plain pancakes, perhaps giving the flavor a bit of a twist. I wanted to try it on cereal but never got around to it as we don’t eat a lot of cold cereal.
A word of caution though – homemade oat milk is only good for about 5-6 days. So I will only make up a batch when I know we’ll be able to use it within that time frame, either via baking or in smoothies. No sense spending the time making it if it’s just going to go to waste. It also settles in the fridge quite a bit, requiring a really good shake before you use it.
I hope these two tips are helpful. If you have any to share please do so in the comments below. Have a great weekend!
Tonight’s dinner was courtesy of Hy-Vee’s recent Seasons magazine. The recipe was actually on the cover and as soon as I knew arugula would be at the market last weekend, I put it on this week’s meal plan.
English muffins topped with goat cheese, arugula and strawberries and drizzled with a balsamic dressing. It was really delicious and nice and light. I see us having this often on hot summer nights.
It was extremely easy to put together. We served it with plain cooked quinoa on the side. The only problem I had was that the strawberries kept falling off as I was eating. Not a deal breaker though Benzo and I agreed that this would make an equally delicious wrap, which would keep things a bit more contained.
Temperatures got down into the 20s here last night but it looks as though our seedlings survived. Fingers crossed that our winter is finally over. It’s no fun wearing your heavy coat in April!
So much for getting the blog updated last week, huh? Seriously where does the time go??
Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day so we were able to get a lot of work done in the garden. Until yesterday I have been a little ho hum about our new garden at our new house. Here it is:
It is a raised bed surrounded by rock in the corner of our backyard. Previously it was landscaping, though it was quite a bit overgrown when we moved in last fall. The reason I have been feeling glum is that there are a LOT of roots and vines and other plant stuff still in there buried under the dirt. They keep poking their green heads up even though I keep pulling them. I was afraid we would never get it cleaned out to make room for veggies to grow.
The picture below is a bit closer shot, where hopefully you can see that there are three “tiers”. We set up a fence around the first “tier”. We originally were going to fence the entire thing with one go-round but it didn’t work with the rock border. Separate fences it is!
We started turning the soil by hand, working slowly but surely throughout the entire fenced portion. Benzo had done a small section awhile ago so we planted a short row each of lettuce, radishes and kale two weekends ago. They are starting to come up now! Then yesterday was a gorgeous day so we got back out there, turning the remaining portion. I used a small hand shovel to dig up all the bulbs and roots that I could find. It was tedious but rewarding work.
Before we knew it, the whole bed was almost cleared! We raked a couple bags of compost mix into the top few inches of soil. Then we planted another row of radishes and lettuce. I also planted marigolds all along the outside of the fence to hopefully keep the critters out. The critters will be our biggest battle by far with the new garden. We have seen lots of bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks and deer in our yard.
Having the first tier cleared has renewed my energy for the garden! The soil is not great but it’s not terrible. We found a lot of worms which is a good sign. After a year or two of gardening I’m sure it will look a lot better. Now we just have to move on to clearing and fencing the second tier before it’s time to transplant our seedlings.
Speaking of seedlings, the tomatoes are doing well and although the peppers finally came up they seem to have stalled out. They refuse to get their second set of leaves. Same for the basil. We may be purchasing quite a few transplants this year as we are due to transplant in only 2-3 weeks. We have been using all our (very) old seeds from years past so we have already agreed that next year we will buy all new seeds and start fresh.
I’m really excited for backyard gardening again. Can’t wait for the summer!
I have been really busy at work lately and haven’t had much time to blog! I’m going to try to get caught up on some of the things we’ve been making lately this week.
Sunday afternoon while my son was napping and I was catching up on some chores, I started thinking about dinner. And about how much I did not want to cook dinner. I was *this close* to suggesting to Benzo that we just go out. I knew he would agree immediately. I’m usually the one who holds strong to eating at home.
I managed to bite my tongue and kept my thoughts to myself. We hadn’t had a chance to do our regular grocery shopping over the weekend which meant I had to come up with a dinner from what we had on hand.
The beans and rice were delicious but quite spicy! Benzo and I were downing the water until I finally caved and got some plain yogurt from the fridge. The yogurt was a really nice addition actually. Despite the spice we agreed we would make this again. It was just too easy.
The flatbread was very tasty and a nice side item. We made it with all white whole wheat flour and omitted the sugar. As I was eating it I had lots of ideas for future meal ideas that include flatbread. Hopefully I can bring them to fruition.
We cooked our rice using my favorite fool-proof method and made a double batch so that there was enough leftover to make rice pudding for breakfast on Monday morning. This time I reduced the maple syrup to 1/4 cup and I thought it was much better that way.
I also made another batch of granola on Sunday but this time made it chocolatey by adding 1/3 cup cocoa powder to the wet ingredients. I probably ate 1/2 a cup standing by the oven almost as soon as I took it out. Looking forward to snacking on it all week.
Now I hear my son’s cute voice up in his crib. I’m off to start the day!
I first cooked with buckwheat groats when I made (the best) recipe for vegetarian “bacon” from No Meat Athlete. If you are a vegetarian you’ve got to try that recipe.
Buckwheat is actually not wheat at all and is gluten-free. The groats look like little seeds. I buy mine from the bulk bins at Whole Foods or in the bulk section at Natural Grocers.
I hadn’t used buckwheat groats in anything else until I saw a recipe for Buckwheat Granola Clusters at Oh She Glows. I think it was the clusters that originally reeled me in. My granola never “clusters”. It’s delicious but not easy to snack on straight out of the jar since it’s in tiny pieces.
I made quite a few changes (see notes below) and even overcooked it a little and it still turned out freaking fantastic. All three of us loved it including my toddler (I gave him pretty tiny pieces). It “clustered” nicely which made it easy to grab chunks out of the jar on my way through the kitchen and it had a really satisfying crunch. This photo is horrible so do yourself a favor and click over to OSG and to see her pictures.
- No almond pulp
- Pepitas instead of sunflower seeds
- No granulated sugar
- No applesauce (didn’t have any)
- Used honey instead of coconut nectar and increased to 1/3 cup
- Peanut butter instead of sunflower butter
Since we all loved the buckwheat clusters, I thought I would try adding buckwheat groats to a regular granola recipe. I came up with the following over the weekend:
- 3 cups oats
- 1 cup buckwheat groats
- 1/4 cup ground flax
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl mix first four (dry) ingredients. In a smaller bowl mix remaining wet ingredients and spices until well combined. Add wet to dry and stir until dry ingredients are coated. Spread in an even layer in a jelly roll pan and bake for 60-75 minutes or until browned by not burned. Stir once halfway through.
I made the granola Friday night and then served it Saturday morning for breakfast over a mango-cashew mixture I got out of Superfood Kitchen. Yes I still have that book. It’s actually overdue and I need to get it back to the library!
The mango-cashew “yogurt” was very similar to this recipe for Blueberry Cashew Faux Yogurt. It was also very well-received by everyone, including the toddler. The toddler liked it so much that he has been asking for “mango” for breakfast the past two days. We’ve had to coax him into eating something else because we are all out of mango! It warms this mom’s heart when her son asks for healthy food.
Here’s the parfait. I got out the fancy dishes and everything.
But back to the second round of granola. It turned out excellent! I made sure not to burn it this time. You can’t really see the buckwheat groats in the picture but they add a nice crunch. I will definitely make granola this way again. I like that I have a good recipe without refined sugar now.
I’d love to explore more recipes that use buckwheat. If you have any ideas let me know!
I have such a love-hate relationship with tempeh. I so want to love it but every time I make it at home it’s just not what I expect. After reading the following article on soy products I decided to give it another shot.
10 Things to Know About Tofu @ Mark’s Daily Apple
I found this curry recipe that looked really delicious:
Tempeh Curry Recipe @ 101 Cookbooks
It came together fairly easily and we served it over brown rice with homemade naan on the side (not pictured).
- We did not have quite enough potatoes so added some peas and used the entire can of diced tomatoes.
- Dialed back the cayenne pepper a little bit and still found it spicy!
- Used 1/4 tsp of ground cumin instead of whole cumin seeds
- Splash of canned coconut milk instead of milk or cream
The result was that we loved the curry part but not so much the tempeh part. The tempeh tasted a bit too “fermenty” to both of us. I know that’s not really a word so maybe “sour” is a better description? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at this point that it wasn’t my favorite.
I’m not quite ready to give up on tempeh yet though. There are so many different recipes out there, surely there’s bound to be one for me. I will say that we would definitely make the curry again and perhaps use chickpeas or lentils instead of the tempeh. I think adding cauliflower would also be delicious.