mother’s day, 2014

Jeanne here.

I wrote this a few years ago now. But I was looking through old files, cleaning up the mess that is my computer, and stumbled upon it. And since it’s Mother’s Day, it just seems appropriate to share it because …

Well …

Because like most people, I love my mom. And I don’t mind bragging about her 🙂

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If you’ve met my mom, you are probably already aware that she’s one of the most loyal, passionate, compassionate, fearless, resourceful, bend-over-backwards-to-help-anyone-women you know. And that’s if you’ve spent five minutes with her.

If you are in her circle of friends or family she will stand by you, support you, defend you, love you and honor you until her own heart breaks.

And on top of that, she’s actually funny … laughs from the depths of her soul and knows how to enjoy the moment she’s in. She may hold onto hurt, but she lets go of pain (which is not a contradiction if you think about it for just one moment). And for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been an example of what’s good in the world.

So you can probably also imagine that, having this woman as a mother, it’s a bit challenging to come up with just one special memory … and the list of things she’s done to make a difference in my life is pretty much endless.

I could tell you about the road trips she and my grandmother made to visit me in Washington, DC … hours upon hours on the road, only to be relegated to eating over-cooked penne with store-bought sauce, drinking red wine with my girlfriends on the floor of a basement studio apartment … three of us later sleeping on a full-size futon … and then being willing to trek around the corner in her pajamas to my favorite local coffee shop. I didn’t have a coffee maker and for some reason would NOT let them get dressed before we had coffee and they were both game to make the walk … I wish I had a picture of this … kick myself daily for not capturing our slumber parties on film.)

Or I could tell you about the Christmas we spent at a condo in Hilton Head. No Christmas tree in sight, so my mom whips out a 3-inch butter knife adorned with a mini evergreen and we spend the next three days taking pictures holding the “tree.” (Somehow I don’t have any of the photos, but I promise, this happened and if you were there you might have laughed)

I could also tell you about how, raising seven kids on the income of a nurse and a mailman, she was miraculously able to create a world in which we had no idea how hard they had to struggle to make ends meet. We had a beautiful home that was meticulously clean and equally welcoming. Good food in our bellies. Magical Christmas mornings and very few cares in the world.

That’s one good mom, in my estimation.

But the moment that just blew me away was five minutes after my daughter was born.

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I thought MY life was flipped upside down by her birth. I was pretty scared. My job was on the line. My future was up in the air. And to be honest, my whole perspective just took a 180 degree shift.

And my mom was a rock.

She was amazing.

Actually, she completely blew my mind.

She changed everything.

She somehow convinced her boss to switch around her work schedule and got in the car at the crack of dawn (or earlier) every Monday morning and drove two plus hours in horrible traffic from Indio to Los Angeles so she and and my retired-step dad could spend four days a week living in a small guest room caring for our little girl.  She fed, bathed, played with and loved my daughter like no one else. I never had to worry about what it would be like to leave her with a stranger.

She gave me the courage to face each day with a smile. She laughed at me when I got too “new mom crazy.” And she gave me the confidence to take a step back and make changes in my own life for the sake of my daughter … the way she made changes for me.

It was her example that gave me  “permission” to change my life for my daughter’s.

It was her passion and compassion that inspired me to quit the 14-hr-a-day job so I could spend time with my daughter, even though it meant giving up some of my precious independence to do it.

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My Mom has always lived by example. She puts the people she love higher on the priority list than “stuff” and her heart is where my heart resides.

I have a phenomenal mother.

And I am thankful.

 
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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  I love you!!

good (for you) cooking fats

Before you spritz that vegetable cooking spray in your pan …

WAIT!

Put the vegetable oil down and step away from the stove!

Seriously.

If you’re still cooking with vegetable or canola oil, I want you to consider that canola oil is only five percent saturated fat (WHICH IS NOT A GOOD THING). The process to extract the oil from the rape seed requires high heat, hydrogen, solvents, bleach, deodorant, etc, to make it palatable. It has a high sulphur content, and goes rancid quickly and easily, which makes it difficult for our bodies to digest.

Thankfully, there are finally reports reaching the mainstream that are showing what Weston A. Price knew in the 1930s when he was doing his research on the benefits of traditional diets. Saturated fats are not the enemy.

The news is out: Saturated Fats are not bad for you. 

good fats

I know a lot of people who live in fear of fat.

They cook with teflon or add a squirt of cooking spray to the bottom of the pan. Butter their bread with margarine. Drink low fat milk. Eat non-fat yogurt. And they do it on the order of their heart-conscious doctor.

I’m not going to tell you to ignore the advice of your medical professional. I’m not a doctor, after all.

But I’m going to ask you ton consider that you share this article with him/her. Ask about the new research. Engage him/her in a conversation to understand where the recommendations come from.

In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, PhD, shares pages and pages of evidence refuting what she calls the “Diet Dictocrats” with studies from all over the world that suggest we need fat. She states simply “Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.”

It may not change your world.

It certainly may not change the mind of your doctor.

The evidence hasn’t yet swayed The American Heart Association, but the evidence is clear. And it’s worth a conversation, at least.

So now what?

What fats belong in your cupboard?

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COOKING FATS

Some fats are good for cooking. They have a high smoke-point and retain their nutrient dense composition at high heat. They help us absorb nutrients from high protein foods. And they have a stable shelf life. These are the primary cooking oils/fats that we use in our kitchen:

  • Avocado oil – Nutritionally, avocado oil is right up there with olive oil boasting serious amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It’s also a good source of complex proteins, lecithin, beta-carotne and vitamins A, D and E. But unlike olive oil, the mighty avocado oil has a really high smoke point (500 degrees), a stable shelf life and a very subtle aromatic flavor.
  • Butter – raw, organic, pastured, locally sourced butter is your best bet, as it’s not going to be quite so nutrient dense from cows eating a primarily grain-fed diet. We love Kerrygold Irish Butter because it is grassfed, the only ingredients are cream and salt, and there are no artificial colors. When we’ve got raw milk from our local herd-share, I’ve even been known to make my own.
  • Coconut Oil – unrefined, cold pressed, organic, coconut oil is a great source of lauric acid and has antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial attributes. It’s also so readily available these days. We use coconut oil a lot. In baked goods. For frying. For popping popcorn. In smoothies. In French Toast. We use it topically (on minor abrasions and sunburn). We just love the Coconut Oil.
  • Chicken, Duck, Goose fat – choose duck or goose over chicken for more omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. And look for a reputable source. I’m going to admit that we only use chicken, duck and goose fat on rare occasion. I’ve not found a reasonable and reliable local source for it.
  • Lard – If you can find a healthy source of lard (from sustainably, pasture-raised pigs), lard is stable and good for frying and is an excellent source of vitamin D. I love fresh homemade tortillas … and the difference between ones made with lard versus ones made with vegetable shortening is UNREAL. It’s worth a little homework to find good lard.
  • Beef & Mutton Tallows – The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends use of beef and mutton tallows, but I’ll admit it … I’ve never tried them. If you do, can you let me know how it goes?
  • Peanut & Sesame Oil – good for occasional stir fries, but contains a high percentage of oleic acid, so both should be used sparingly.

EAT RAW (never heat)

These good-for-you oils are staples in our diet. We use them in salad dressings and smoothies, but never in the skillet as heating them destroys their nutrient dense composition and makes them really difficult for your gut to process.

  • Olive Oil – extra virgin, cold pressed is the way to go. We’ve been reading a lot about how finding “pure” olive oil can be a challenge these days as some of the biggest purveyors in the US have been found to have unwittingly been importing olive oil adulterated with soy and vegetable oils. Ugh. So, take some care to make sure when you buy Olive Oil you are getting Olive Oil!
  • Unrefined Flaxseed Oil – Extremely high omega-3 content!! So good for you.  But keep it refrigerated!
  • Grape Seed Oil – We use this primarily because of it’s similarity to Olive Oil. And it’s got a smooth buttery taste. We’ve used it often to make our own mayonnaise, but the green color can be a bit of a turn-off.
  • Nut Oils like Walnut and Macadamia – Both are so tasty, but very expensive, so we use these sparingly in salad dressing. Walnut oil has to be stored in a cool dry place to avoid oxidization.
  • Red Palm Oil – similar to Coconut Oil in that it’s one of the few available vegetable saturated fats. There is some controversy about the palm oil industry, so we don’t often choose this oil. But from a traditional food perspective, this is a vegetable oil that has been utilized for more than 5,000 years.
  • Sunflower Oil – choose cold pressed sunflower oil to preserve Vitamin E and eliminate free radicals produced during other production methods. But keep in mind that it doesn’t contain the good Omega-3 fats. We primarily use this in our homemade mayonnaise these days because it’s nearly flavorless and it’s not “green” like Grape Seed Oil.

RANCID OILS/FATS TO AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE

In the “good ol’ days” oils were extracted using cold pressed or expeller pressed methods that retained the integrity of the “food” in our food. I don’t want to seem old fashioned. But my personal problem with fats like Canola, Margarine, Shortening, etc, is that the process to make them is so volatile (involving solvents and bleaches and deodorizers) that what’s left for consumption has little resemblance to food. If it has to be deodorized because it smells rancid and unpalatable, chances are, it’s rancid and unpalatable. And I don’t need a chemist to trick my body into eating something it shouldn’t.

That said, these are the fats and oils that we’ve scrubbed from our kitchen:

  • Canola Oil – has a high sulphur content and is typically rancid because of the high heat used in the extraction process. There are studies now showing that canola oil can contribute to a vitamin E deficiency (which we need for a healthy heart).
  • Corn Oil – on it’s own, corn oil might not be awful, but since more than 85 percent of the corn on the US market is GMO corn and contains high levels of the pesticide glyphosate, it’s hard to find pure organic corn oil and we avoid it.
  • Cottonseed Oil – first of all, it’s made from the inedible cotton plant. Secondly, it’s near-impossible to come by a non-GMO cottonseed oil because it’s one of the big-4 Monsanto GMO crops. It’s everywhere (margarine, shortening, box cereals, processed cookies, crackers, et al). But it doesn’t belong in the cupboard.
  • Margarine & Vegetable Shortening – the process to make margarine and shortening is called hydrogenation. It goes something like this: Cheap oils (like soy, corn, cottonseed or canola) are mixed with a catalyst (tiny metal particles like nickel oxide) and then pressurized with hydrogen gas to turn the oil into a solid at room temperature. Then emulsifiers are added to correct the texture. It then has to be “deodorized” by “steam cleaning” at extremely high temperatures and bleached to eliminate it’s unnatural grey color. And finally, to make margarine, food coloring and flavors must be added to make it taste more like butter.
  • Soybean oil – like Corn Oil, it’s so challenging to find organic soybean oil. And despite the high levels of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, I’ve read too often that soy is an endocrine disruptor that we avoid also soybean oil.
  • Vegetable oil – the conventional factory process to make vegetable oil involves overheating the crushed seeds, washing them with toxic solvents to extract every last bit of oil, destroying healthy antioxidants in the seeds and resulting oil just isn’t something I want to feed my family.

So now it’s time to clean the cupboard …

… and use more butter.

xo,

Jeanne

Q: What healthy fats do you use and how do you add them to your diet?

growing a bountiful garden in cold climates

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Abby’s guest-posting at Modern Alternative Mama today … here’s a preview:

… Yesterday at the grocery store, I noticed small conventional limes were $1.50 each.  I knew it must be mislabeled, so I double checked with the cashier.  She said unfortunately that the price was right, and it was one of many foods on short supply, resulting in much higher prices.

These sort of situations always leave me uncomfortable, longing for the old days when we weren’t so dependent on the grocery store.  It’s another confirmation that, regardless of where I live, I will always grow food.

I live in Montana, where we still have occasional snow showers until early June (and sometimes longer).  This is our fourth summer here, and every year we’ve managed to grow a bounty of food.

If you’re like me and still want an organic garden, but don’t have California sunshine at your disposal,there’s still hope!  Here are a few ways I manage to grow a large garden in a cold part of the country.

To keep reading, click here …

choco maca smoothie

Chocolate maca smoothie

Remember how how I was telling you all about the benefits of maca powder?  And how by adding a tablespoon to my morning routine (in addition to reducing carbs and taking Pilates a few times a week) I’ve been able to shed a few pounds of winter weight that had settled on my middle?

I told you about the maca chai latte (a great warm way to start the day). But we’ve been visiting my mom’s in the SoCal desert these past few days and it’s honestly too warm to even think about a chai latte (sorry Montana friends. I heard about the six inches of snow!!)

Since a hot latte’s not in my life right now I wanted to find a cool tasty alternative. I also wanted something satisfying that would keep me “full” until lunch.

Did I mention my parents live in date central? Seriously, most of the dates available in the US come from the Coachella Valley. There are at least three date farms within a mile of my parents’ place.

Which is a long-winded intro to my new favorite breakfast smoothie:

Chocolate Maca Breakfast Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:
1 banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3-4 chopped pitted dates
1 TBL raw maca powder
1 tsp raw cacao powder
1/2 cup filtered water

DIRECTIONS:
Combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender and purée until smooth.

Yum!

Xo, Jeanne

$500 CASH GIVEAWAY – winner announced!

Abby here.

I could tell you about the tomato starts I planted in the greenhouse this weekend that will most likely freeze to death.

I could tell you how my trusty garlic oil knocked out my son’s ear infection in 20 minutes flat yesterday.

I could tell about how I lost 2 pounds in one week simply by cutting out late night snacking.

Or I could tell you how excited my family is to trade snow boots for flip flops next week when we head to Texas…

But we all know this is way more interesting:

$500 Cash Spring Giveaway Graphic

It’s true!  Someone is winning $500 cash!  It’s easy to enter.  Just use the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the post, and check back here in one week to see if you won!

Sponsor Graphic The major sponsors for this great giveaway are the following blogs:
Domestic Superhero – Just Us Four – Swish Printables – Condo Blues – Our Southern Home – Persia Lou – Dial M for Moms – DIY Candy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

maca powder – I’m on the new (ancient) superfood bandwagon

maca powder chai latte

Have you been inundated with all the “new” news about the ancient Peruvian superfood maca powder? I have to admit, I added it to my diet a few weeks ago because I’ve had these lingering extra stress pounds and I had read that it helps stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce cortisol production and boost fatigued adrenals.

And after just 10 days, the number on our scale finally started moving in the right direction. Three pounds in 10 days … not too shabby.

But I noticed other benefits, too.

Like, my mood got a little lighter. Things that have been stressing me out seem a little less intense … like the fact that every time our 2 year old is without diapers for more than 5 minutes he pees or poops on something other than the toilet. Two weeks ago that was a big deal. Now, while I’m not psyched about it, it seems to roll more quickly off my back.

Sure, it might just be that Spring is here. (At least I think it’s Spring. Isn’t that what evening snow and sunny daytime temps in the 40s is all about?) 

But it might also be that the rumors about maca powder are true. Just in case, I’m keeping it in my morning routine.

WHAT IS MACA POWDER?

Maca powder is derived from a root that grows at high elevations in Peru and was for centuries a staple in the diet of Peruvians and Incans. It looks surprisingly like a turnip and is in the brassica family (like broccoli, cauliflower, mustard, etc).

It has the consistency of coconut flour and a subtle nutty flavor that is delicious with all things chocolate.

Because it’s one of the few crops that grows successfully above 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s not surprising that it made it into the diet of high elevation civilizations. But it’s also been celebrated through the ages as a miracle food. Medicinally, it’s been used to boost sex drive in men, alleviate hormonal issues in menopausal women, control weight, and boost mood and energy. Some say a tablespoon of maca is better than a strong cup of coffee for a morning energy boost).

maca chai latte recipe 2

WHY IS IT GOOD FOR YOU?

  • Maca powder contains 55 phyto-chemicals, including vitamins B1, B2, B12, and Vitamin C, Zinc
  • It has amino acids, calcium and phosphorus
  • It is a natural immune booster with 22 fatty acids that may act as a fungicide and antiseptic
  • Maca powder can reduce production of cortisol and relieve stress on over-worked adrenal glands.

HOW TO INCLUDE IT IN YOUR DIET

Add it to your morning smoothie … it’s especially tasty in smoothies made with raw cacao and dates, but I add it to fruit smoothies, green smoothies and everything in between.

Include it in baked goods … I’ve added it to sourdough pancakes with great success (just a quarter cup of maca in this recipe). And I’ve considered adding it to the paleo yam brownies that my kids like so much. But I haven’t done it yet.

Add it to your morning coffee … Just a teaspoon. Any more and I find that it sort of overwhelms the coffee.

Or, my favorite treat these past few weeks …

MACA CHAI LATTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom (seeds from 4-5 pods)
  • 1/4 tsp whole Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 inch fresh Ginger (chopped)
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Darjeeling tea bag
  • 1 tsp Maca Powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • Coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

To make the Chai Tea, boil 2 cups of water with cardamom, cloves, pepper, ginger and cinnamon added. Reduce to simmer and add the Darjeeling tea bag, let it steep for 5-10 minutes. Add maca powder, honey and coconut milk and enjoy!

Short cut: Steep a Tazo organic chai tea bag for 5-10 minutes. Add maca powder, honey and coconut milk. Enjoy!

Maca Maca Maca …

I don’t usually weigh in on celebrity gossip

But this Gwyneth Paltrow thing is really getting under my skin.

Like Gwyneth Paltrow, I worked in the movie business. And while I wasn’t a “star” getting called to Wisconsin on a moment’s notice, I had my fair share of work trips to New York and London and Atlanta and West Virginia. And before I retired from the business I was working on a film that was getting ready to shoot in Mexico, which would have sent me (and maybe my family) out of the country for about 6 months. (I can look back now and be thankful that project fell apart so I was given the opportunity to take stock and rethink my life.)

Also like Gwyneth, I am a real foodie (although I’m not friends with Mario Vitali). I am a recipe developer (many of my successes appear on this blog, and we’re working on our first cookbook). And I’m passionate about creating a “conscious,” natural and sustainable life for my homeschooled kiddos.

So I’ve had the good and lucky fortune to be a working mom and a stay at home/work at home mom. I feel uniquely qualified to have an opinion on her awfulness.

And part of me wants to sympathize and feel sorry for her out-of-touchedness. Because it really is so sad that she is so out of touch.

But I can’t.

Because it’s pathetic.

And disheartening.

Who on earth does she think she is to comment on the “ease” of living life of woman with a “regular” job? No doubt her nanny takes care of feeding and bathing her children, getting them to school, bandaging their hurts. Her assistant takes care of scheduling her calendar (making time for pilates and yoga and whatever other meditation time she needs). I have little doubt her housekeeper does the laundry. Her gardener takes care of the lawn. She doesn’t do her own grocery shopping. She probably doesn’t make her bed or clean her own toilet.

And she certainly doesn’t do those things when she’s working on a movie set for 14 hour days … for about 3 months of the year … a movie set where her children are welcome (unlike the kids of almost every other person on set).

Let’s consider what a day is like for a movie star on a film set. I’ll give you this: they often have to arrive early (pre-dawn) for make-up, hair and wardrobe. Sometimes they are showered. But since they’re about to have their hair and make-up done by someone else, it’s not as though they have much to do before leaving their homes except wash their bodies and don clothing. And a reminder: they’re not the first ones on set … there’s a whole team of people (Hair Stylists, Make-up Artists and Costume Designers/Dressers) who have to be ready to greet the star. And then what about the team who have to be ready to make the first scene ready to shoot when the sun comes up?

Her “consciousness” is clearly limited to her “uncoupling.”

And we are left to listen to her erudite pomposity… to get Paltrow-fied descriptions our our relationships via Slate.com (I’m apparently “magnanimously bound” to the love of my life) … to read and re-read her declaration that moms who work 9-5 jobs have it so much easier. (By the way, do you know anyone who actually has a 9-5 job? Everyone I know who works outside the home works 10-14 hour days. And most SAHMs work just as much.)

And her ability to see outside herself and her pristine elitist world … ugh … I struggle to find words for how much I dislike her.

Ugh.

Thanks for letting me rant.

xo,
Jeanne

Now back to our regularly scheduled food blog!

 

cherry vanilla chia pod (vegan, gf, refined sugar free)

cherry vanilla chia pod recipe

Last summer we started making homemade chia pod treats.

And as time has gone on we’ve made them again and again. They are totally portable. Absolutely delicious. And completely healthy. (Have you read our post about why you want to add chia seeds to your diet?)

But we don’t limit ourselves to peach pods (because that would be boring, and peaches are not all that available here in Montana). We love chocolate pods. Vanilla pods. Coconut pods. Strawberry pods. Blueberry pods.

But our favorite of all favorites …

Cherry Vanilla …

(which might be because even in the midst of a spring snow storm we are anticipating cherries from our tree)

cherries

Cherry Vanilla Chia Pod Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of pitted Cherries (if you use frozen cherries, thaw them first)
  • 2 cups full fat unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2/3 cup Chia Seeds (black or white)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbls Raw Honey (replace with grade B maple syrup for a vegan version)

DIRECTIONS:

Puree all the ingredients in a VitaMix or high speed blender until well blended.

Divide into individual portions (we use small mason or jelly jars) and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to “set.”

Makes 8 servings.

Enjoy as a healthy snack, as a tasty dessert, a lunch-time treat, an on-the-go-breakfast or anytime (like maybe in the middle of the night after the kids are asleep and you don’t feel like sharing … which is not something I ever do … I swear!

***************

HAVE YOU TRIED MAKING YOUR OWN CHIA PODS?

Would you like to see your homemade chia pod creation make it into the O’Mamas kitchen?

Submit your recipe here before April 15th, 2014.  (Email us with your name, your recipe, at least one or two photos of your favorite version, and a way to contact you. Use “POD RECIPE” in your subject heading please!).

We’ll post our favorite FIVE recipes and you can decide what pod you like best!

Shared on Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Things I’m loving.

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-The fact that I put away the majority of my children’s toys.  The train set has been packed up for months now, and bringing it out make it feel brand new.  We’ve clocked at least 10 hours building and re-building this week.

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-Spring.  It’s taken four years of living in Montana to accept that this season isn’t for swimsuits and outdoor cookouts.  We still have a good snow every once and a while, but there’s something sweet about a promise of warm weather on the horizon.  This is also the time of year the kitchen gets bombarded with a big metal shelf to start our plants.

-The gym.  You guys.  I have never, ever enjoyed going to the gym.  Some friends persuaded me, and I tried it out to make sure my kids liked the childcare.  Turns out they love it, and it has been a wonderful one-hour break for mama almost every day.  They get a playdate, and I get to break a sweat.. it’s a win/win.  The only  thing is is that this is the first time in years I’ve exercised regularly and pushed myself.  I’ve been reminded that I’m not 18 anymore and I’m definitely feeling more aches and pains than I use to would have.

-Speaking of aches and pains, I finally got around to ordering PanAway essential oil blend from YoungLiving.  To me, it smells and acts like IcyHot just without all the added chemicals.  It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way! (Public speaking has never, ever been my gift, so I’ve opted out of hosting YL “parties” and created an online store HERE instead… saves us all a little trouble)

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This blog.  I must say, I don’t agree with some stuff she writes, but she’s good guys.  It’s a guilty pleasure to check what she posts everyday.

-Getting back into the kitchen.  Although I consider myself a true-blue foodie, I go through phases of being in and out of the kitchen.  Sure, dinner gets cooked at home most every night, but it’s the fun kitchen stuff that comes and goes… fermenting, kombucha brewing, yogurt making, sprouting, etc.

Zulily.  I cannot be trusted with online shopping. Why do they make it so easy?  You just press a few buttons and BAM…. you have a fun box waiting to be opened on your front porch. Zulily is somewhat new to me, and we’re anxiously awaiting my first purchase of some learning to read DVDs.

What are you into these days?

 

Irish Soda Bread – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m Irish on my mom’s side. (Shout out to the Donnelly and Murray clans!)

But my mom doesn’t make Irish Soda Bread because one of her best friends Ann (who is Irish), makes great Irish soda bread and for years shared it with our family on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you have a best friend who makes great Irish soda bread, you don’t have to. (Not that my mom needs an excuse not to bake Irish soda bread because not everyone loves to be in the kitchen, right Ma?)

I don’t have Ann’s recipe.

But my friend April also makes amazing Irish Soda Bread.

Like I said, YAY for friends!

But April doesn’t live in Montana. So she shared her recipe with me nearly two years ago and all my Irish soda bread cravings were abated. This is easy and delicious and I bet you will love it as much as we do.

Also … yes, there’s white flour and brown sugar in this recipe. We make sourdough or long-rise bread for daily consumption, but this is a “memory” food for me, and I don’t want to mess with the recipe since it’s something we enjoy only a few times a year.

irish soda bread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz white flour/bread flour*
  • 6 oz whole wheat flour
  • 1 oz rolled oats (whiz them up if they are big)
  • 1 oz wheat germ (I used 1 oz ground flax seed because I didn’t have wheat germ)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • a little less than ½ TBLS cream of tartar
  • 1 TBLS baking soda
  • ÂĽ Cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown)
  • 22 oz plain unsweetened kefir (I used 2 1/4 cups of plain whole milk yogurt)
  • for the BOTTOM of the pan – 1 small handful of rolled oats
  • for the TOP – 3 TBLS of seeds of your choice (1 TBLS of each: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  While preheating, put in a cast iron dutch oven that’s been rubbed with Olive Oil. (Or, if you’re like me and don’t generally cook with Olive Oil, try Avocado Oil.) The dutch oven (with the top on) should be in while preheating the entire time.

Mix everything in order with a wooden spoon, except the kefir (yogurt).  Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the kefir (yogurt).  Stir until combined.  The dough will be sticky.  Don’t over mix.

Take out the preheated skillet.  Sprinkle more rolled oats on the bottom of the pan.  You don’t need to cover the bottom, just sprinkle a small handful.  Pour the dough into the pan, and you should hear a sizzle.  Make sure the dough is touching all sides of the pan.  Top with combination of three or four of the following (I used pumpkin, chia, sesame and a few more rolled oats): pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc. Cover.

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Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 20 minutes**.  The crust should be browned and solid.  Take the bread out of the pan to cool.

Makes ONE loaf.

irish soda bread 2

Everyone together now: “THANK YOU, APRIL!”

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

xo,

Jeanne

* at our high altitude in Bozeman, I add an extra quarter cup of bread flour
** also at our altitude, I bake for 35 minutes, but am leaving April’s recipe the way she makes it because so many of our readers don’t live at this altitude!