"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning Rituals

My personal Saturday morning ritual is lying in bed, nursing. Vaguely I hear sounds of blending, stirring, cracking, and, occasionally, crashing. Then I tumble out of bed and enjoy my husband’s amazing pancakes with him and the small people who helped make them.
But, alas, today my master pancake-maker was gone. So last night I promised the small people I, their fearless mother, would make the enormous double-batch of pancakes that have become a requirement for our Saturday mornings.
Pancakes start with milk. Almond milk. Cashew milk is too precious for baking! Also, I like to alternate our milk subs to gain a variety of trace minerals and other nutrients. Almonds, of course, have lots of bio-available calcium. Unfortunately, most folks strain their almond milk which removes many of the benefits of the almonds. Sure, you can make cookies from the pulp, but do I ever get around to that? No. So I have spent many years perfecting the smooth, non-strained almond milk I share with you here. Here are our natural (not organic, btw) raw almonds, soaking.

Soaking is the key to smooth almond milk. A long soak makes this milk really nice. Soaking also increases the nutritive value of the nuts, but really, I do it for the creaminess. These almonds have been soaking about 10 hours. On the left you see the plumped up, water-logged soaked almonds and on the right, the shriveled dry almonds.

Add your soaked almonds to your blender with enough water to make 2 cups, and blend on high for 1-2 minutes, depending on your blender. In a Blendtec, use the whole juice setting. (A high-speed blender does make this recipe easier, but most decent blender will do. I used to make this in a Sunbeam.)

Now add a pinch of sea salt (I use Real Salt or pink Himalayan salt), a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses (or 2 t of old-fashioned),

plus vanilla and stevia to taste. This is stevia extract but the green herb powder works also.
Half my batch is for the fridge where it will be gone in maybe 28 hours (swirl gently before pouring)

And half is for the pancakes.
Pancakes. Our pancake recipe is precious! We have perfected it by trial and error for years. We started with the recipe in Whole Foods for the Whole Family by La Leche League, and the recipe in a 1970 edition of Betty Crocker. When my husband makes these, he never tinkers with the tried-and-true formula. But I, well, I just can’t help it. I am obsessed with increasing protein content of all baked goods….
Vegan protein powder! I start with 2 scoops . This brand, Biochem, tastes pretty good. Biochem 100% Vegan Protein Powder, Vanilla Most brands do not. Beware.

So, 4 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (this produces a very light pancake similar to white flour pancakes and a good place to start if your family isn’t eating whole grains regularly yet), plus 2 scoops of vegan protein powder. Add 6 eggs (no, we’re not vegan). If you are vegan, add 6 Tablespoons ground flax and 12 Tablespoons water. Dump in your milk. Add ½ cup oil- we use melted raw organic coconut oil. Add 4 teaspoons cream of tartar and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Add ½ c to 1 c of your sweetener of choice. Today I am using 4 very ripe bananas, blended with the milk, and a small dash of stevia. My husband always uses raw honey, but I prefer that raw honey be eaten raw. Maple sugar works well, and rice syrup does too, although it makes the texture extra-dense. Beat it all.

Then have your seven-year-old make the cakes while you take your teething toddler off to nurse. After all, he didn’t get his ritual Saturday morning nursing session.

Tower of delicious banana pancakes. In Spanish, they are panqueques. We love our panqueques!

“The child must be well-fed.”
-Charlotte Mason

Friday, April 29, 2011

Nature Study and a Not-So Homemade Dinner

Lots of things didn't get done today.
Lots of dishes didn't get washed.
Lots of toys didn't get put away.
Lots of little santos didn't get their beards glued on.

But lots of other things happened.
Geese were watched;
paths were trod;
turtles sunned
and we sunned, too.

Rosie declined the invitation to draw, but here is Isaiah's nature jourmal for today:

He loves to draw action. I always absent-mindedly suggest he draw, you know, bark and berries and grasses. But he always goes for movement. A swimming turtle in the pond below us, then a kestrel having a feisty moment with its dead mouse in the nature center! He enjoys the challenge and anymore I try very hard to not suggest what he draw.

Many days we are too busy enjoying ourselves to pull out the nature guides but today we did manage to identify a burr oak. We also saw a group of four baby ducks (look close, they are there!)
and a lone egret.

So naturally we were exhausted at 4 pm when we made it back to our car. Dinner was on my mind and brain fog was taking over. Luckily I had a plan in place or it might have been oatmeal with the little energy I could muster by the time we pulled into the drive. Not that I have a problem with oatmeal for dinner. We love oatmeal around here.

It is hummus night. Contrary to local belief, I am not a perfectionist in the kitchen, though they don't call me the nutrition nazi for nothing. I am no good at hummus. I take pride in what my kitchen can turn out on a good day, but my family won't touch my hummus. Put me in the box of shame. But store-bought hummus is usually really salty and the spices overdone. So I toss a can of Eden organic garbanzo beans, with the liquid, in the blender. (Eden is now the only can brand I'll buy. Eden is the only company in the US whose cans are NOT bpa-lined. Eden is now producing glass preserved beans, too.) Mix that with the store hummus- we like Sabra brand- top with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and paprika.
Add organic carrot sticks, barely-cooked organic broccoli, and Kashi crackers (our favorite "fast food treat"). And dinner you have. In 18 minutes. Healthy, cheaper than the drive-through, and all said, probably quicker, too. This meal is standard when I'm pregnant. But then the hummus must come from Bella Luna Cafe. Mmmmmmm.
And a wee toddler plate, just because it is so cute.
A pleine aire feast to end a pleine aire day.

"Never be within doors when you could rightly be without."
-Charlotte Mason

She knew you cut down on temper tantrums by 87% that way....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ritual and Repetition

God bless the days when I am up just a bit before the little people.  Tea, the first of an endless series of cups, some spiritual reading, some laundry, a breath of peace.  Then, the day!

Prayers.  Hot porridge and fresh fruit.  Homemade cashew milk and tea.  Always more tea, if not fresh hot cocoa with coconut froth
Then three little people lisping their poetry.  We always have a poem going.  Then stories, numbers big or small, and pictures.  Bible or atrium work.  Maybe a nature walk through the park.

It is our morning.  It is precious to me and it is the daily bread of the souls under my care, not to mention my own.  I learn with them, every day- fall, winter, spring, summer.  The afternoon is busy, inevitably busy with running hither and thither, attending to this and that- more laundry- plus legos and dolls and bicycles on a good day.  Dinner, games, sometimes more busyness before the darkness falls.  Then, the night:

Bread with honey around the table (and maybe more tea!) before warm lavender baths.  Tooth brushing, pajamas, stories and stories and stories.  And prayers to bookend the day.  And if I'm lucky, it will then be rest.

My days can be dully repetitious when my spirit is heavy.  But when my spirit is light, the days are full of nourishing ritual.  As an adult, it is all in how I choose to see it.  But to my children, the rituals themselves carry them when I cannot.

Dairy-free Hot Cocoa with Coconut Froth
1/2 c milk substitute (we use homemade raw cashew milk)
1 heaping Tb raw cacao powder
1 heaping teaspoon coconut oil
tiny pinch sea salt (or my favorite, Real Salt)
dash stevia extract or big dash green stevia herb powder
optional: dash cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Place in blender and add 1/2c boiling water.  Blend on high speed till super-frothy, about 1 minute in a regular blender or 20-30 seconds in a high-speed blender.
Lots of froth!
For kids who've been good. Really good.

The coconut oil makes the froth in this non-dairy recipe.  The cheapest place to buy good, raw coconut oil is Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, using Subscribe and Save.  You can also just whisk this in a cup, but it won't froth.  If you leave out the coconut oil, the cocoa will be ok, but will taste slightly flat and lacking in depth.  This also makes a GREAT substitute for coffee.  Raw cacao is much less stimulating than processed cocoa and tastes richer.  Giving up coffee can be constipating, many people don't realize, and raw cacao combats this pesky problem very effectively.  It is a great treat for a constipated little one as well! 

Homemade Cashew Milk
heaping 1/2 c raw cashews soaked 20 minutes- 2 hours in
2c filtered water

Process in blender on high till smooth- 1-2 minutes.

1/8 t sea salt
1t blackstrap or 2 t old-fashioned molasses
1t vanilla
optional: dash stevia extract or herb

Process an aditional minute or two.  Chill or serve warm with a cinnamon stick for stirring and froth-licking.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Newness of Spring

Fresh fruit.  Doors thrown open.  Endless warmth.  I feel spring on my skin and in my soul. 

Today I recommit to being the mother I want to be.  No excuses and no regrets.  My children are an inspiration to me.  I need to be an inspiration to them!  My husband gives without measure.  I pray to open my heart and increase my generosity.

We learn here.  We live here.  We pray here.  We are here.