butter …

A few weeks ago I opened our refrigerator and found FOUR FULL GALLONS of fresh raw milk.  And there was NO way it would all stay fresh long enough for four of us to drink it.  I mean, the littles like milk, but to expect a two year old to drink a gallon in just a few days?  Not reality in our house.  Maybe if he was 15.  But I’m not ready to imagine his sweet little face a teenager …

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… You can’t make me.

So what to do with FOUR FULL GALLONS of fresh raw milk?

Besides ice cream?

And milk shakes?

And yogurt?

And kefir?

It seems so obvious.

Butter!

Cultured Raw Butter!

Why not?

I have a KitchenAid (affiliate link).

And a Food Processor.

I have access to the internet.

And by the way … Cultured Raw Butter is nutritious (a great source of vitamin E and Vitamin K, contains nutrients essential for childhood brain and nervous system development, saturated fats in butter have strong anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties … for a great list of the benefits of raw butter, check out this link from body ecology.)

Anyway … I had enough milk that I tried TWO ways to make butter.

In the KitchenAid … which (despite the assertion by THIS blogger that it takes less than 10 minutes), this took about 45 minutes of serious whippage in a high powered stand mixer.

And in a Food Processor (which just about burned out the motor after an hour in our Cuisinart).  The motor and body of the machine was hot to the touch for nearly an hour after processing.

This is what I did:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups room temperature fresh raw cream (NOTE: you can use pasteurized cream, but raw cultured cream has more nutrient availability and tastes pretty darn amazing)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

Put the cream in the stand mixer and turn it on (start at a low setting, make sure you either have a spray-shield or towel in place) and turn it up slowly so as not to spray your kitchen).  Leave it on the highest setting until the liquid separates from the butter (can be from 6 to 40 minutes)

Pour off the liquid, then take what’s left of the solid and strain it in a fine mesh strainer.  Press on the butter until no more liquid comes out.

Put the butter back in the mixer, add the sea salt and mix on high again.  If any more liquid comes out, discard it.  Do NOT add it to your buttermilk because it will be too salty and ruin the flavor of your buttermilk.  NOTE:  the more liquid you get out, the longer it will last in your fridge.

The yield, with 2 cups of cream, was about 4-6 oz. of butter and about a cup of buttermilk.

We made buttermilk sourdough pancakes with our first batch … and it was FANTASTIC.  So fun … so nutritious … and totally delicious.

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When I do it again (which is likely to be today or tomorrow, because I’ve got about 2 cups of heavy cream being wasted in the fridge and that just hurts), I’ll go the KitchenAid route.  And not just because of the 15 minutes, or because I don’t want to destroy the motor on the food processor … the results in the stand mixer were a clear winner:  better texture, better taste, and more usable buttermilk.

NOTE:  The main reason it was better buttermilk in the stand mixer is that I didn’t add the salt until after straining the buttermilk.  (Pathetic Confession: it wasn’t until I was bout to actually make butter that I realized buttermilk is the milk that skims from the cream when one makes butter … doh!)  As for texture and taste … the stand mixer made for an easier-to-spread tastier butter.  I can’t account for the difference in taste since I used cream from the same batches of milk.  It could just be that I had a pinch more salt in in the stand mixer … or adding the salt after skimming the buttermilk means more of it stays in the butter and less strains off into the buttermilk.  I’ll have to experiment more to figure this one out.

 

 

tsukemono (aka lacto-fermented Japanese cabbage salad)

We have a guest post today over at Modern Alternative Mama about how (and why you would want to) remove added sugar from your diet.  Click here to check it out!

Jeanne here.

Remember our post from yesterday about simple and effective ways to combat cold/flu season?  I thought you might want another (super easy) lacto-fermented veggie salad that goes with just about anything.

And I’m not sure if you need more evidence to support your decision to make some lacto-fermented veggies, but if you’ve read Sandor Katz [most famous for his book “Wild Fermentation” (affiliate link)], he’s got a great quote about why it’s so important to have fermented foods in our diets:

“In the normal scheme of things, we’d never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food.  But since we’re living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I’d group together as a ‘war on bacteria,’ if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won’t effectively get nutrients out of the food we’re eating.”

That pretty much nails it for me.  And is one of the primary reasons we started fermenting foods (that and I have a love of pickles and sauerkraut 🙂
Here’s what I use to make a simple lacto-fermented tsukemono (Japanese cabbage salad):

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1 gallon fermentation crock (affiliate link)

  • You don’t need to buy a fermentation crock (Abby uses the insert to an old crock pot).  The point is, it should be non-reactive and large enough to hold about a gallon of goodness.

Vitamix mallet or a potato masher (not pictured)

  • I use this to “mash” the cabbage before adding the water.

lead-free glazed saucer

  • There are stone weights you can buy that are made specifically for the crock.  But I’ve never needed one.  A 6-inch saucer turned upside down with a rock on top of it does the trick just fine.

a large rock (or a mason jar filled with water that can act as a weight)

  • I use this to hold the saucer pressed down and in place over the veggies so they remain covered in the saltwater through the process

unbleached organic cheese cloth & a rubber band

  • This is to keep any dust or impurities out of the veggies while they are fermenting.

1/2 gallon mason jar (or 4 quarts, 8 pints, or any mixture of the above)

  • After the veggies are fermented (about 5-7 days), I transfer them to mason jars to store in the fridge.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small head of green cabbage shredded
  • 2 medium carrots julienned
  • 1 daikon radish julienned (optional)
  • 1 piece of dashi kombu (thick japanese seaweed … about 2 inches by 4 inches) (optional)
  • Sea Salt
  • Filtered water

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add the cabbage to your crock and sprinkle with two tablespoons of sea salt and mix to coat the cabbage.  (I use sea salt because of the trace minerals in the unbleached, unprocessed salt.)   Using the VitaMix mallet, I “mash” the cabbage for about 10-20 minutes doing my best to squeeze out as much of the natural liquid in the cabbage as possible.  Then add the carrots and daikon radish and stir to combine.  Add four cups of filtered water.  If the water doesn’t cover the cabbage by about an inch, add another 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt.  (That’s the ratio … 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of salt) until the cabbage mixture is covered by about an inch of water.

Place the piece of dashi kombu on top of the vegetables.

Place the saucer on top of the dashi on top of the cabbage and PRESS DOWN until there’s no more give.

Place the rock on top of the saucer and cover the crock with the cheese cloth.

Put in a warm spot in your kitchen (out of the sunlight) and let it rest.

I check the veggies daily to make sure they are still covered.  With clean hands, I press on the rock to make sure things are nice and squished down.

After 5-7 days, I remove the rock, the plate and the dashi and transfer the cabbage, carrots and daikon to the glass mason jar and move the mixture to the fridge.  It’s ready to eat, and I add it as a side to most meals 🙂

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NOTE:  You can use this method is almost ANY vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, onions, scallions, garlic, cucumbers, et al).  It’s easy and delicious.  This is my go-to because I LOVE the delicate Japanese pickle flavor.  But like I mentioned earlier, Abby has a recipe for Mexican Fermented Veggies that I’ve also used and is delicious (goes great with all things Mexican).

gluten and refined sugar free sweet & sour chicken

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Jeanne here.

Something about this time of year makes me crave Chinese food.

Really bad-for-you-MSG-laden-sugar-heavy-food-colored Chinese food.

(Can you say “emotional eater?)

Anyway … I don’t want to succumb to those cravings because I know they have nothing to do with what I really need (which is a nourishing meal that tastes great and doesn’t make me feel gross for days after).

So I’ve been working on a homemade version of sweet and sour chicken hoping to get a Chinese food fix without the bad.

And I’m so happy to share this with you because while it’s no Chinatown Express, it absolutely fits the bill.  Sweet.  Sour.  Chinese-like.  Cravings abated and a happy clan!

I should note, this recipe feeds two adults and two young children.  So double or triple it if you’re feeding more folks 🙂

I served it over rice, with a side of steamed broccoli.

This is what was left in the plates of our littles when dinner was done:

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I call that a success. 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

For the chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (we buy organic ketchup that has no HFCS)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos (or soy sauce … we avoid soy, so we choose Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the rice flour and eggs in two separate bowls.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan while you cut the chicken into bite-size bits.  Salt and pepper the chicken.  Flour the chicken.  Then coat with egg and fry in the coconut oil for about 3 minutes on each side, then place in one layer into a lightly greased pan (I use coconut oil).

Mix together the ingredients for the sauce until well-combined.

Pour the sauce over the chicken making sure it’s well-sauced.  Bake for 30 minutes.  (At about 15 minutes, I like to turn the chicken to make sure it gets good and coated.)

Serve over rice, or noodles or quinoa.

Happy Monday!

We’re linked up at:

leftover rosemary cornbread bread pudding

Cornbread is good.

And my husband’s brother’s ex-wife’s recipe for cornbread is awesome  (especially when made with wholesome real ingredients).

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But with just two adults and two kids in our house, one batch of cornbread is a lot of cornbread.  So we always have leftovers.  Which is also good. Because who doesn’t love sneaking cornbread in the middle of the night?  Or pretending a big piece of warm cornbread slathered with pastured butter is a good breakfast.

But when the late-night snacking is done, and breakfast wears off and there’s still third of a pan of cornbread left.

And honestly, I could just munch on the leftovers.  It wouldn’t make me sad.  But if you’re tired of cornbread (like some of the folks in our house) and you’re hankering for a new taste explosion or last minute you need to bring dessert to a friend’s house and all you have is leftover cornbread … THIS is the ticket.

Here’s what we do with leftover cornbread …

Coconut Maple Rosemary Cornbread Pudding

INGREDIENTS:

  • Leftover Cornbread (we had 1/2 of a 9×13 pan leftover after a chili dinner)
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup grade B maple syrup
  • ¼ t sea salt
  • 1 can whole organic coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary – chopped fine or ground
  • ½ stick pastured butter

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan on the stove melt butter, but keep a careful eye on it as you don’t want it to brown.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, milk, maple syrup, sea salt and fresh rosemary.

Crumble leftover cornbread and mix in with the whisked together ingredients. Pour the melted butter in to a 9×11-baking dish, making sure it covers bottom. Pour the cornbread mixture into the baking dish. Spread evenly. The butter will seep up the sides, no worries.

Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.

And then … if you’re a food blogger … you should take beautiful pictures of the finished delicious rosemary scented deliciousness … on a delicate plate … topped with a dollop of whipped coconut cream

Or … maybe you should just include cute photos of your kid getting lick-attacked by Hitcher because you forgot to take the pictures and now there’s none left and you were scheduled to post this recipe today and there’s no leftover cornbread to make it again.

I guess I have to go with B.

Happy Tuesday,

Jeanne

We’re linked up at:

Delicious Obsessions

beef chili for when it’s chilly

I have a husband who loves to cook.

LOVES to cook.

And (thankfully) he’s pretty darn good at it.

You’d think, considering all the photos I take, I could find ONE photo of the Cowboy cooking …

I’ll have to work harder at that, I guess.

Anyway, I’m thankful that he likes to cook.

Especially on cold days when we come home from a day of horseback riding, ballet, violin lessons and a playdate at the park to find something as delicious as his Black Boar Truffle Beef Chili simmering on the stove.

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And then I feel even luckier because he’s willing to share the recipe with all of you … so I’m not the only one who gets the goodness.

So this is the chili our Cowboy makes … simple and delicious and perfectly cozy.

Cowboy-style Beef Chili

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups pinto beans – soak overnight
  • 2 TBL bacon grease
  • 2 TBL Olive Oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 passilla peppers
  • 2 lbs organic grass fed ground beef
  • 1 28 oz can organic whole tomatoes
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 TBL Black Boar Truffle powder (not salt … powder …)
  • ¼ cup chili powder – we ground our own from dried red chilis
  • 1 TBL lime sea salt (affiliate link)

DIRECTIONS:

The night before, soak your pinto beans in water in a non-reactive stainless steel, glass or enamel container.

The next morning …

Rinse pinto beans in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear, put into a 4-quart pot, cover with twice the amount of water, add a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons bacon grease to pot and bring to a boil.  Boil for a few minutes then turn down and simmer until the beans are soft; most likely 2 or 3 hours. This can be done the day before or morning of the day you are making the chili.

When you are ready to start the chili put 2 table spoons olive oil in a large pot and turn on medium heat.

Chop onions and passilla peppers and add to the olive oil, cook until the onions are translucent.

Chop garlic, add to onions and peppers. Add ground beef and brown.

Tear tomatoes into small pieces and add to the mixture along with all the juice. Stir into mixture then add:

Chili powder

Truffle powder

Lime sea salt or just plain sea salt.

Mix thoroughly and add the cooked pinto beans and the bean water. Simmer for an hour.

Serve with fresh avocado and grated cheese. We like to add jalapenos to the toppings.

Fondly,

The Cowboy

NOTE: We use the Classic Black Truffle Powder from Black Boar Truffle.  If you use truffle oil, you may need to adjust the amount as the powder has a more intense truffle flavor than the oil.  And each brand has it’s own distinct “essence.” The link to BBT is not  an affiliate link.  We just love their organic truffles and have had the opportunity to be a tester for their products for a few months.

after the fire

One night a few weeks ago I unintentionally left a pot of bone broth on the stove and forgot to turn the burner off before we went out for four and a half fun-filled hours of dinner and dessert at Abby’s.

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UGGGGHHH …

The worst.

We came home to a house filled with smoke, and a burned out stainless steel stock pot (my favorite) and the first few licks of flame reaching toward the cupboards.

The timing was so lucky.

I was able to remove the pot from the stove (without getting burned).  Turn off the burner.  Open every window and door.  Quickly grab some clothes, our toothbrushes, my computer, two toy horses and the dogs.  Within about 5 minutes, we were back in the car and headed to a nearby hotel for respite from the fire.  (NOTE:  The Cowboy wasn’t home yet from his job in Los Angeles … it was just me and the kiddos.)

Let me first say, I could have turned around and taken the kids and dogs back to Abby’s.  Or I could have called my sister-in-law and stayed with her.  Or our niece Samantha.  I could have called her, too.  There are plenty of people I could have (and probably should have) called.  But it was 10 p.m. on a Sunday and all I could think about was getting the kids and dogs to safety and to bed quickly and easily.  And I assumed it would be less drama to have the kids in a hotel room for 10 hours than to call and wake folks up and make arrangements, et al.

Our night in the hotel was its own adventure.  I’m not really ready to relive it (maybe one day I’ll be able to share it … but I will say that if it were ever to happen again, I might leave the 65 pound small-bladdered dog in the backyard rather than bring him to a hotel room.  I think I maybe forgot that he wakes up two or three times a night for potty-breaks … and potty-breaks from a hotel room on a main street with two sleeping toddlers … not what I would describe as fun).

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Okay … so that brings me to the next day.

Even with the windows wide open.

And the doors.

And a strong breeze blowing (it was one of the coldest night’s we’ve had this fall with temps dropping to the low 20s and a wind that had it feeling more like temperature in the teens).

The house (and every piece of clothing and every unfinished wood surface and every linen and every pillow and every drape) smelled like a campfire.

And I love campfires.

When they are at camp.

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But not so much in our intimate 1940s cottage.

So we borrowed ionizers from Abby and my sister-in-law.

And the kids and I cleaned.

I washed every piece of clothing in our closets.  The sheets.  The pillows.

I scrubbed every surface with a combination of Hydrogen Peroxide and Water with a few drops of Lemon Essential Oil.  And when that didn’t work, I used the non-toxic cleaner Angel Scrub from the Elf Natural line that was developed by my sister-in-law’s friend Janine Elf.  (Not a paid endorsement … just beaming enthusiasm because this stuff is amazing.  I’m not sure it’s designed for use on wood, but it just about saved our cabinet fronts and ceiling above the stove.)

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But all the scrubbing in the world didn’t take the smell out of the house.

Enter my beautiful and super-smart sister-in-law Kelly with a genius idea …

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She did all sorts of research (I don’t know anyone who researches better than she does) and came up with this miracle fix for when your house smells like a campfire.

CLOSE ALL THE WINDOWS.  Yes.  Close the windows.  I swear, this is the answer.

TURN UP THE HEAT to 80 degrees.  Yep.  I said 80 degrees … it’s only for a short time … and it’s imperative.

COMBINE 1 part white vinegar, 2 parts water and 15-30 drops of Essential Oil.  We used Young Living Purification (affiliate link) and bring to a boil.

When the mixture boils down, TURN OFF THE STOVE (!!!!), lower the heat and open the windows.

Let the house air out for a few hours and REPEAT.

Let the house air out again and REPEAT.

Again.

THEN … take a piece of cheese cloth and pour a few drops of the Essential oil on it.  Put the cloth against the air intake of the ionizer and let it run.  Reapply as necessary.

THE TIMELINE:

The “incident” happened on Sunday.  We scrubbed on Monday and Tuesday and had ionizers running non-stop.  Finally got the vinegar-essential oil remedy going on Wednesday.  And by Thursday the smoke was gone!!!

In fact, we even had a guy from a restoration company come out to check on the house and he said that our method had worked just as effectively (if not a little more ghetto) than the method he uses.  He explained that turning up the heat and boiling the water-vinegar-essential oil concoction “opens the pores” of the wood and fabric in the house allowing the smoke to be “pushed out” by the cleaning solution.

And as far as the idea for the cheese cloth and ionizer … HIS idea is to take a Bounce dryer sheet and use that on the air intake for the ionizer.  So I was basically doing the same thing … only without the poisonous chemicals in the dryer sheet!  Yay, me!

I hope I never have to do this again.

I hope you never have to go through this.

But glad that we now know how it’s done.

one night away

A few nights ago Jeanne and I got away for a little over 24 hours to retreat to a lodge near Big Sky.

Within those 24 hours we:

Worked on blog stuff for about 10 hours.
Almost burned the lodge down twice.  Seriously.
Had a burger and hard cider at a honky tonk bar.
Played a round a pool at honky tonk bar.
Enjoyed the hot tub.
Watched a movie.
Each got our own big bed to stretch out in and not fight for covers with anyone.
Slept without a child (or two) on top of us.
Slept in (at least I did).
Sat down for a peaceful breakfast made just for us.
Did a bit more blog stuff.
Decided we MUST do this more often.

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We are pretty thrilled and amazed at all we were able to accomplish with a few computers, good wifi and a warm fire.  We’ve got some fun new things in store and can’t wait to share!

Abby

ways kids can help out and give back during the holidays

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The holidays can be hectic and overwhelming, filled with high hopes and even higher expectations.  And now that we are officially six days into the holiday season (if you include Halloween in the season), we are doing our best to teach the kids that this time of year isn’t about the commercial hooha that’s marketed pretty much everywhere they turn.  We want them to know that the experience is more important than the trimmings.  That showing compassion, spending quality time together and being generous with others is what makes for the happiest of holidays.  Not so easy in a world that streams advertising aimed at kids who can’t even read yet.

One of the things we know too well is that kids LOVE to help.  They do.  It makes them joyful.  Have you ever known a 2 year-old who didn’t want to put dishes into a dishwasher?  Especially the really breakable ones?  That were passed down to you from your great grandmother from the “Old Country?”

Or maybe you’ve noticed that kids (all ages) LOVE to learn new things.  Again, they do.  They are sponges who want to absorb as much information and stuff as we can throw at them.  It gives them great happiness to be the one who knows the “truth.”

We figure, if we give our kids the opportunity to help and to learn over the holidays, there is no way for them not to have a happy season. 🙂

So we’ve been looking for ways to include our kids in the holiday planning, prep and partying.  Sure, some of these things would be quicker and easier and prettier and maybe even more “perfect” without little hands helping, but who wants perfect?

Read the whole post today in our guest post for Modern Alternative Mama …

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cherry chia (soaked) oatmeal

cherry chia oatmeal Jeanne here.

We were fortunate this summer to get a 20 pound box of Flathead cherries from a friend who lives nearby.

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Although I’m going to admit that after slicing, pitting and freezing 15 of the 20 pounds, my finger nails were purple for a week (it didn’t matter that I scrubbed them raw), my sink was stained and I was a little “over” cherries.  So into the freezer they went… out of sight out of mind.

Months have passed now.  There’s snow on the ground.  It was 14 degrees when I trekked our garbage can to the curb this morning.

I “re-discovered” the cherries in our storage freezer a few days ago.  My love for cherries is renewed.  And after making cherry chia soaked oatmeal at least 3 times in the last week, I have discovered a new favorite warm and cozy breakfast treat.

It’s packed with protein (chia seeds), the great anti-bacterial-anti-viral benefits of raw local honey, the healthy gut-bacteria renewing properties of raw milk and the uber-digestible benefits of soaked oats.

Here’s how we do it:

SOAKED OATS:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (not steal cut, not quick cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (you could also use whey or lemon juice)
  • about 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • glass or ceramic (non-reactive) bowl/jar

OATMEAL:

  • 1 cup soaked oats (thoroughly rinsed)
  • 1 cup milk (we use raw whole milk, but you could use coconut milk or almond milk or whatever milk substitute you like)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • handful frozen cherries (rinsed and partially thawed)
  • pinch sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

The Night Before – soak your oats! (12-24 hours before you’re making oatmeal) – I put these in a bowl when we started making dinner and about 16 hours later, I used them for breakfast.

Add one cup of rolled oats to your non-reactive glass or ceramic bowl/jar.  Cover (by about an inch) with filtered water and add 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar.  (The ratio is 1 tablespoon for every 1 cup of oats … so if you’re making 2 cups of oats, it’s 2 tablespoons of ACV, etc.)  Cover with a clean dish towel and leave in a warm spot in your kitchen.

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NOTE:  I put mine on the stovetop as it’s the warmest spot in the kitchen.  Sometimes I put it in the oven as it stays pretty warm after using it for dinner.

In the morning:

First things first … rinse those soaked grains in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.  This makes all the difference in the world.

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In a small to medium saucepan, add the soaked oats, milk and salt.  Cook on medium until the oats are the consistency you like. (It takes about 3-5 minutes.)  Stir in the honey and chia seeds.

When well combined, separate into serving bowls.  Top with cherries (or blueberries or peaches or whatever other frozen fruit you like)

Totally satisfying and nourishing breakfast to start a busy blustery day.

We’re linked up:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop: Real Food Wednesday
The Domestic Superhero

a good cause (and a GREAT giveaway)

We’re not the only ones with a great giveaway this week. (CLICK HERE to check out the O’Mamas giveaway).

You see, Kate and her husband are in the process of adopting their second child. But adoption, you may know, is an expensive proposition. And there are a lot of good people in the world, with big hearts and room in their lives and their love to care for littles whose birth mothers can’t care for them. But some of those incredible adoptive parents don’t have deep pockets. And we believe Kate and Kuby fall into that category. Big hearts, less-big pocketbooks.

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So as much as we hope you sign up for our giveaway (and really … we hope you sign up for our giveaway), we hope you’ll join Kate and Kuby’s giveaway and fundraiser (which ends tonight) and help in their fundraising effort to pay for the adoptive process.

Friday night seems like a good night to do a good deed, don’t you think?

xo,
Jeanne & Abby