Wednesday, July 23, 2014

20 pounds of blueberries

Have any of you watched the classic movie Anne of Green Gables? Do you remember when Marilla, exasperated at Matthew, mumbles to herself "Twenty pounds of brown sugar!" For some reason that phrase has always stuck with me. Well, I don't have twenty pounds of brown sugar to deal with, but we are working our way through twenty pounds of blueberries. (A much better "problem" I think!)

Every year a friend of mine organizes a massive order of blueberries by the 20 pound box. The price is always phenomenal. Normally I order two boxes and freeze at least 20 pounds for us to eat over the course of the year. This year, because we're moving soon, I ordered just one box, and we've been enjoying fresh blueberries galore.

"Twenty pounds of blueberries!"

Here are some of our favorite ways to eat fresh blueberries:

We LOVE sourdough blueberry pancakes—either blueberries in the pancakes or on top of the pancakes!

Blueberry muffins are almost always requested... is blueberry Breakfast Cake—which is a lightly sweetened bread in reality, but calling it "cake" and topping it with freshly whipped cream is much more fun!

Of course, we eat tons of the blueberries fresh, adding them to our plates at lunch and snacktime.

We also add blueberries to our yogurt or to a fresh fruit salad.

And we love our Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa. Cream, maple syrup, blueberries, quinoa—need I say more?!

Blueberry Shortcakes are good too (a honey–whole wheat recipe is here)—just sub in blueberries for the strawberries in both recipes.

And don't forget the simplicity of a light summer dessert of blueberries and freshly whipped cream.

What about you? How do you enjoy fresh blueberries?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Roasted Cabbage

We are currently living with my in-laws as we've sold our house but haven't yet moved. My mother-in-law is enjoying belonging to a CSA for the first time. But, as you know with CSAs, you get what you get—whatever the farmers have grown. This has left us at times with produce we want to use but maybe it's not our favorite or we're not inspired to cook it. It's actually been a great exercise of ingenuity and experimentation!

When it comes to cabbage, I'm not a huge a fan of it. I don't really enjoy cole slaw, and in the summer I'm normally not in the mood for many hot stirfries. I have this favorite cabbage soup of mine with coconut milk and chicken that's included here, but we didn't have the right ingredients on hand for that. So we experimented and roasted the cabbage.

Whether or not you're a fan of cabbage, I'd encourage you to try it roasted. Not only is roasted cabbage very easy to prepare, it is truly delicious. You can see in the photo above we added some leftover radishes, just tucking them in between the cabbage slices. Last week we roasted a cabbage again, this time adding thick slices of onion. Delicious! Next time I think I may experiment with adding whole carrots.

Roasted Cabbage

1 head of cabbage
olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, rinse and dry. Slice off the bottom of the cabbage. Slice the head of cabbage into 1-inch slices.

Lay cabbage slices on a lightly greased (or parchment-covered) cookie sheet or roasting pan.

Drizzle olive oil generously over the cabbage slices. Sprinkle with coarse, unrefined salt (I used Hawaiian red in the photo) and freshly cracked pepper.

Roast for 50-60 minutes until the slices are tender and the edges tinged in brown.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Easy Homemade Sunblock

My husband and I are currently lounging on the sunny shores of the Caribbean enjoying a special time away together. As I packed for our trip, I made sure that I slipped some of my homemade sunblock into our bags.

I haven't bought sunblock (or sunscreen) since I began making my own several years ago. (Except once when I ran out of an ingredient and didn't realize it until it was too late—oops!)

All natural sunblock is truly very easy to make. It takes about ten minutes start to finish to make about 8 ounces. And those 8 ounces of pure, natural, nourishing-to-your-skin ingredients cost me just over $3.00! You won't find any product in the stores as pure as this anywhere near that price. But beyond the cost, your skin will love you!!

It was not just the natural ingredients, the ease of making, and the low cost that won me over in the end, but what really won me over was how soft and nourished my skin was after a week at the beach using this amazing stuff.

Have I piqued your interest yet? I hope so! Here's how I make our sunblock every summer.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sweet Roasted Corn Salad

Hot summer days are the days for simple meals, cook-outs with family and friends and using the oven as little as possible. Do I hear an amen?! In the summer I veer far away from most roasted meats, casseroles, stews and heavy meals and instead gravitate towards the lighter, more refreshing fair of main course salads, chilled meat dishes, fresh fruit, side salads, seasonal veggies and light fruit-based desserts. Many of my favorite simple summertime recipes can be found in my newly released 196-page cookbook Whole Foods for the Everyday Cook.

To continue reading, please head over to For The Family, where I am sharing the recipe for this super easy, refreshing, summer salad!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can you eat healthy foods on a small budget?

If you're wondering that very question, let me give you the quick answer: YES!!!

(The recipe for these yummy stuffed portbello caps is right here!) 

Yes! You can buy and eat healthy, nourishing, whole foods without spending a fortune.

Yes! You can feed a family nutritious meals on a small budget.

Yes! You can learn to cook from scratch.

Yes! You can find organic and responsibly-grown and raised whole foods for good prices.

Yes! You can prepare nourishing meals that also taste GOOD and look beautiful.

While I can't promise you that you can do all this in time for dinner tonight, I will tell you this:

Take a step in the direction you wish to go. Then keep moving toward your goal—
—one step at a time
—one new discovery at a time
—one newly acquired skill at a time
—one recipe at a time
—one good deal at a time. 

This time next year you will be amazed at how far you've gone!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Strawberries

Recently my older three kids and I went to a local farm near us and picked strawberries. They were a deliciously sweet, smaller berry—so so good!

My youngest had to miss out on berry picking due to being in a cast with a broken leg. I sad. :( He's doing very well though and gets his cast off tomorrow, yay!

Normally we pick pounds and pounds of strawberries, freezing most for future smoothies and treats, but this year we just picked enough for a few days since we are in limbo in the middle of a big move.

For breakfast the next morning I made a sourdough version of these strawberry shortcakes, which we split and piled high with whipped cream and loads of sliced, sweet strawberries. Over the next few days we added strawberries to our smoothies, snacked on fresh berries during the day, and had strawberries and cream for dessert. And when the strawberries were beginning to lose their freshness, my mother-in-law used them up by making a strawberry-rhubarb crisp for dessert one night.

I love this time of year when so much fresh produce is available in our area. I hope you too have been able to take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables available in your neck of the woods!

What is your favorite way to eat your fresh-picked strawberries?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

No Knead Sourdough Loaf Bread

I LOVE this sourdough loaf bread that is entirely whole grain and is air-kneaded. It's my favorite sourdough loaf bread recipe, and I used to make it regularly...back when I had two kids.

Now I have four kids, two of whom are toddlers. I don't have time right now to air-knead! Seriously. Right now my days are super full, and my to-do list is never even near-done. My days are crammed full of grammar lessons and memory work, mountains of laundry, trips to the potty, reading books, changing diapers, cleaning, administrating, traveling to orthodontist appointments, cooking and baking and more—and it's all lived out in mostly 5-minute increments due to those cute little toddlers. Maybe your circumstances are entirely different than mine, but does your life feel very full? I know I'm not the only one!!  

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YET, despite the sweet (and sometimes not-so-sweet) chaos of life, one of the two goals I set for myself for this new year was to once again make sourdough bread instead of buying bread. The price was killing me ($3.50-$4.00 vs. $.80-1.00 per loaf, depending on type and size). And I wanted to get us back to how we were eating prior to the addition of our youngest, which meant I needed to really focus on eliminating sources of wheat that are not sourdough. Not to mention that we just love homemade bread—it's so good!

So my search began for a no-knead sourdough bread recipe. I spent the last few months of last year experimenting. It was a bit challenging because, first of all, there are not many no-knead sourdough recipes out there. Secondly, there aren't many no-knead whole grain recipes out there. Combine no-knead with sourdough with whole grain...and well, there ain't much, folks!!!

To complicate things further, almost all no-knead recipes are for making an artisan loaf with a hefty crust. My husband and I could eat those crusty loaves all the time, but my kids not so much. They don't like hard crusts, and my youngest still doesn't have all his teeth. I needed a soft loaf.

Let me just say I made a whole lot of bum loaves before I finally landed on a recipe that worked. A recipe I had to piece together and tweak. But I've been baking it regularly with great success, and we once again have sourdough bread in the house. Yay! We are occasionally still buying a loaf, but I'm steadily getting more and more into a breadmaking routine once again.

This recipe isn't entirely what I had hoped for, because it does contain some white flour. But white sourdough bread is better than white bread—and even whole wheat bread in some respects—and, frankly, I think that making this pure, additive-free sourdough bread from freshly ground flour (with a some white flour added in) is still healthier for us than most anything I can buy. (See last paragraph of this article.)

And it's WAY cheaper, too.

In various seasons of life I can't always (um, ever?) hit perfection, but I can certainly do my best. And this bread is currently "my best." And it's pretty tasty, too! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

No-Knead (Mostly) Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf Bread

The following recipe is for one loaf. I normally make two recipes-worth at the same time in two separate bowls. It works best to keep the dough separated into two individual loaves, rather than one large loaf, or it becomes too hard to handle the soft dough when shaping.

Refresh your sourdough starter by adding the following to a medium to large glass bowl. Mix well, cover with a wet towel or plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or for about 8 hrs):
1 T sourdough starter
6 oz whole wheat flour
6 oz filtered water (filtered is important as chlorine kills sourdough cultures)

In the morning add the following to the bowl:
8.25 oz white whole wheat flour
8.25 oz white flour
15 oz filtered water
1 1/2 tsp unrefined salt

Mix the dough together just until mixed. It should be a pretty wet dough. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 8-12 hours until very bubbly and risen.

Preheat the oven to 385. Grease the loaf pans (I use glass Pyrex standard-size loaf pans). Heavily flour the counter and dump/scrape the wet dough onto the floured counter. The dough will be loose and wet. Flour your hands and gently scoop the outer part of the dough towards the center of the dough all the way around. Re-flour your hands as needed. Work quickly, scooping and re-scooping the dough into the center for about 30 seconds until a ball or mound begins to form. Quickly scoop up that mound and gently plop it into the loaf pan. (Don't expect a traditional sturdy mound of dough. This dough is loose and soft.) Let the loaf sit and rest for 20-30 minutes while the oven finishes preheating.

Put the loaf into the oven. After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 325 and bake the loaf for 60 minutes more, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with a knife.

Remove the loaf from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the loaf from the loaf pan and cool the loaf on a cooling rack for an hour.