Welcome!

This is my journey in keeping my family happy and healthy.
In this day and age, what parent knows best what to do and how to care for their family?
There are so many conflicting ideas, so much wisdom, and so many paths.
It is here that I will compile information on what I have learned and the choices I am making.
Maybe my path will help others.... or not. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Summer Cake AKA Serious Noms!


So I received this GREAT RECIPE in my inbox this week, and since I had some strawberries going the way of the DoDo, I knew I had to make it!

First I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe.

6 tablespoons coconut oil (instead of butter)
3/4 cup barley flour and 3/4 all-purpose flour (next time I'll try whole wheat finely ground too)
1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup brown sugar (instead of granulated sugar)
1/2 cup high fat coconut milk (instead of milk)

Half of our family has a dairy intolerance, so I wanted to make it dairy-free.

I'm not sure if my adjustments made the cake seem gooier or what, but I ended up cooking it too long. It came out sort of brown and sunken. But I tell you what.... it ROCKED!!! I don't think you can mess up this recipe. Even if it looks terrible, it's still finger-licken' good! This will definitely be a staple in our household from now on. I HIGHLY recommend it!

The above picture is what it is supposed to look like. This is what mine looked like:



Not nearly as pretty, but incredibly tasty! As you can see..... :) I forgot to take a picture when it was first done, and then we ate it! I just made this yesterday too!!! I think you will find the same thing happens at your house.


Here is the full recipe from Smitten Kitchen with my additions: 

Strawberry Summer Cake

6 tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup barley flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar (though I think I'll do all honey next time, like 3/4 cup total)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar (for on top)
1 large egg
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries (give or take), hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Sift flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat/whisk coconut oil and brown sugar/honey until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, coconut milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (I overlapped to use up all my strawberries). Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over berries. This makes the berries turn jam-like.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes... though it took almost 10-15 minutes longer for mine, possibly due to the wetter ingredients and milk-substitution. (As Smitten Kitchen says, Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given. Though I didn't do that... I just shook it to see if it jiggled, then stuck it back in for longer if it looked un-done. Which may be why it got overcooked!) Let cool before digging into.....

Then NOM!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dreaming of Raised Beds


We have a beautiful and spacious yard, ripe for having a garden. In fact, we tried several times! But the combination between a heavy clay soil, and the burden of responsibility being on myself, we haven't achieved much. Last year we got a few peas and a carrot, oh and some tomatoes.

This year we amended the soil, tilled it, and planted seeds. But unfortunately either by planting to early or around too many hungry birds, we grew nothing but 2 broccoli plants. Oh... and a whole heck of a lot of happy healthy weeds!

Now I'm dreaming of raised garden beds! This would solve the problem of the soil, as well as making it easier for me to be sole-tender of the garden.

All I need is wood & soil/compost!!

Here are some of my inspirational photos:

http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/ultimate-raised-bed-how-to-00400000011938/

http://gardening.sheknows.com/tag/raised-bed-garden/

http://www.raisedvegetablegardenbed.com/

http://www.homestead-hearth.com/

http://blog.ufpi.com/blog/decking-and-outdoor-living/raised-garden-bed-how-to-build-a-raised-garden-bed-in-three-steps

http://followinginmyshoes.com/around-houston/finders-keepers/

 http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/lawn-garden/4308264

 http://www.sunset.com/garden/landscaping-design/raised-bed-vegetables-00400000020697/

 http://raisedvegetablegardenbeds.com/the-simple-way-of-building-a-raised-garden-bed

Hopefully my dreams will become a reality soon enough!! I just don't know how long I can wait........

So if you were planning a raised garden bed(s), what materials would you use to make the bed, and what dimensions would you make it in? I'm thinking cedar and 18-24" high with a dimension of 3x5 or so. I have to be able to access the whole thing easily. Admittedly I have a physical disability, so it has to be easy for me to manage without too much movement on my part.......

Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Planning a 2 Year Old's Birthday Extravaganza... or making sure kids AND parents have fun!


So my kiddo's 2nd birthday is coming up in a few months, and I feel like I want to make it special. Last year we didn't have a party at all. I wasn't too worried about it, she was only 1. She wouldn't remember it, and at that age, the party is really for the adult attendees and not the kid. But this year, she's fully conscious and aware of her world, and I think it would be a great year to start making her birthday rituals.

So to start, it's important to me that there be good, healthy food. That there be fun, creative, eco-minded activities or crafts. And that the parents have just as much fun as the kids.

I'm planning a kid menu, activities/crafts for the kids, an adult menu, and beverages for all age groups. Here are some ideas I have so far:

Kids Menu-
Lemon Bars
Fruit salad in coconut yogurt
Mini pizzas on whole wheat sourdough
Sweet potato fries
Frozen banana "ice cream"
Pita with hummus


Adult Menu-
Orzo salad
Frittata (veggies, and one with ham or sausage)
Roasted small potatoes in olive oil, rosemary and garlic
Green salad

Kids Activities-
Finger painting with homemade finger paints (or these yummy edible finger paints)
Playing with homemade play dough
Having a wading pool

Beverages-
Lavender Lemonade

Still brainstorming!!!

What ideas do you have? I'm looking forward to hearing some great ideas!
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