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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hydration Shake

Here's what I want to do these days when I wake up in the morning:

Drink three cups of coffee. With real cream.
Then, have a mocha.
Forgo meals in favor of chocolate bars.
Worry, fret, hyperventilate. Over *everything*.

Here's what I actually do:

Eat porridge.
Smile at children.
Drink 10 glasses of water.
Drink one cup fake coffee (tea made from roasted barley).

It's going pretty well. I hate the limbo feeling of being almost gone. But still here.

I paced off the UHaul in the living room... it's starting to get full.

For the children's sake, we are trying to say good-bye to all our friends. For me, "parting is such sweet sorrow" that I prefer to just disappear one day. Not very good for closure, but, well, what can I say. The children are really enjoying the playdates, though, and doing the normal thing and saying proper good-byes to people we care about is, um, obviously the healthier, more mature thing to do.

I'm so busy that it's easy not to give in to my stress cravings for caffeine and sugar. Instead, water and green shakes.

Here is my current favorite green shake. I've ousted the banana from mine, but add it in for the children. Too heavy and sugary for me, but they need it for the creamy texture. I find the less creamy the green shake, the thinner the consistency should be to keep it going down smoothly.

First I add a quart of fresh organic spinach to the blender. Yes, it's excessive; you might only want 2 cups. (I might substitute kale if need be.)
I peel my cucumber (it's not organic), then slice it into the blender. Peel and chop a lime. (If you have a regular blender, just use the lime juice. My Blendtec will pulverize the lime for me.) In it goes. If a honeydew were at hand, I'd add a few chunks.

Then I add water. This week coconut water (juice) was on Serious Sale, so I'm using that instead. Otherwise, I'd add a touch of stevia, honey, or agave. Also, add ice if your ingredients aren't well-chilled. Nothing as wretched as a warm shake in sweltering heat.

That's it.

Again, if it tastes too green to you, add a banana.

The cucumber is very refreshing on these 105 degree days, and keeping up my raw intake is keeping me energized as I plough, drag, and crawl through my to-do list as moving day approaches.

"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor."
~D.H. Lawrence

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Foil Packet Grilling

Between packing and nurturing small people, the days are short. Really short. Time is at a premium. Usually I am concerned with making sure we get a high raw-to-cooked ratio in our diet. These days I'm just trying to make sure real food goes in at regular intervals throughout the day....

Since I recently learned how to actually turn on the grill, I've been enamoured. Then some friends had us over recently and served dinner cooked in foil packets on the grill. Now it's officially an obsession.

Foil packet grilling!

The basic recipe here is meat (chicken, pork, marinated steak, etc.), potatoes, and veggies. Today we have chicken, potatoes, carrots, green beans, and zucchini. Chop it all up and toss it in olive oil and sea salt. I'm using re-used baggies here but a bowl is fine.

I add a layer of parchment paper between the foil and our food because *news flash*, friends, aluminum is a carcinogen. Cooking on aluminum is not making your body happy. But foil, you know, it's a modern miracle. So just line it- you're good to go!

Make sure to seal the edges of your foil well.

Grill it up.

Eat it up.

The kids find this to be a fascinating process. They love the grill and they love eating outside. I love not heating up the kitchen and virtually zero dishes. When I'm packing. I'm packing. Did I already say that? I am dreaming about packing, even.


"A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."
~John Henry Newman

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nature Study: the year in review

My son and I were paging through his nature notebook today, reliving our favorite nature walks from the school year. We decided to put his favorite pages up here, on the terrible outside chance his precious book might be lost in our move.

Do forgive the poor lighting in these pictures. I'm a bit off my game. Because I'm packing.

The thing to keep in mind here is that these pages were not requirements. Not another thing to cross off on my or his to-do list. To me, nothing could be worse than coercing a child to draw or narrate about nature study. Inspiration is the only way to motivate a child in this area.

I started my own nature journal which has a handful of entries. No more. But Isaiah and Rosie see me enjoying the natural world, and they learn from my attitude and habits much more than I realize.

We also took many walks through the woods and prairie without recording anything. Looking and wondering together. Next year we decided we wanted to get some more field guides and learn the names of many plants, trees, and grasses.

But life happens. Now we will be learning a whole new set of flora and fauna. Goodbye Kansas grasslands; hello Sangre de Cristo mountains. A change I'm really getting excited to make.

I keep it very informal. No fancy paper. No watercolors- for goodness' sake no watercolors! Talk about a good way to frustrate a kid! It takes much technical proficiency to use watercolors al fresco out on the trail. And it requires lugging a lot of equipment. Plain paper on a clipboard and some markers and pencils is a much better, low pressure solution.

My 4 year old sometimes makes a picture. She has 3 in her notebook for the year. My 7 year old will pick his subject, draw, and then at home he narrates to me and I write it down for him. Nothing complicated.

So many resources actually seem to complicate nature study and nature journaling. It's a shame. It's so easy and such a delightful way to accomplish natural science for the little ones.

As you can see, some days he gets more into it and other days less.

Here's to a lifetime of happy nature walking, friends!

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more."
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birthday Treats

I know some of you are itching to know if I sneak spinach and sprouts into even Serious Treats. Well, sometimes I do, but not on my sweetheart's birthday. Only the tried and true, clean but not too healthy will do for him.

Here are 2 recipes we use on special occasions. The first is pure decadence. Birthdays and cardinal feast days only! Since we are packing, I gave my sweetheart a batch of these as his birthday present to munch at work.

Short Bread

1c organic butter, room temp
1c maple sugar

1t vanilla
and mix.

Add 2c wh wh pastry flour and mix till crumbly.
Dump onto buttered cookie sheet:
pat to 1/2" thick and prick:
I forgot to do so and my short bread spread into a puddle:
Tasted fine, though!

Bake for 25-35 minutes, till golden. Will continue to crisp as it cools.

I know these were good because I snuck a dozen couple while they were cooling.

I made breakfast the day before so we could get up with Daddy for an early birthday party. Super easy, very high protein!

High Protein Waffles

18 eggs
2.5 c wh wh flour
Stevia to taste
2Tb vanilla
1/2t salt

Pour. (Oil the waffle iron.)

We served ours with honey and fruit.

Someday I vow to create a dairy-free pastel de tres leches for birthday feasting... till that day arrives and that feat of nature occurs, I am happy to let my mother-in-law make her famous zucchini cake for birthdays around here. Till we move. Sniff.

"Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest."
~Larry Lorenzoni

Friday, June 24, 2011

To My Husband, on His 35th Birthday

Someday I will write my own poems again, but for now, let my friend Emily tell you exactly how I feel today.

by Emily Dickinson

Of all the souls that stand create
I have elected one.
When sense from spirit files away,
And subterfuge is done;

When that which is and that which was
Apart, intrinsic, stand,
And this brief tragedy of flesh
Is shifted like a sand;

When figures show their royal front
And mists are carved away, --
Behold the atom I preferred
To all the lists of clay!

I love you!

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
-Emily Brontë

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Ya, blogger, my links????

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

For me?

Today I packed like a crazy person. The end of my living room is paced of to the size of our UHaul to be, and it is too quickly filling with boxes. Books, mostly, with some clothes and kitchen stuff thrown in for good measure.

My little people made a tea party for me, with real tea, plates of snacks, and a tablecloth to boot.

For me? Yes, mom, for you!

Could I find my camera? No. Was it perfect? Yes. They knew I needed it! All I had to do was slice a lemon and add cloves to them (that's Isaiah's favorite in his cup of tea).

We also had a delicious dinner cooked out on the grill.... Daddy was going to make it while I continued packing, but he got stuck at work,

So *I* turned on the grill for the first time *ever* and grilled the hamburgers and vegetables myself for the first time *ever*. Don't I just get more modern by the day? It was a perfect backyard picnic.

Could I find my camera? NO. But I'll remember today forever in my mind.

Tomorrow's to-do list begins with:

Find camera.

"Our only security is our ability to change."
-John Lilly

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A First Last

We trekked to the Great Plains Nature Center today for our (last?) nature walk. We took no books, no paper, no pencils... just our weary selves. We watched clouds, watched grasshoppers, sat on our favorite benches, and ate Larabars. (Yes, Larabars are a BreadwithHoney-approved snack food!) I refused to be sad.

We talked about what nature walks will be like in the Rocky Mountains. I remind myself that it's a bit silly to cry over big bluestem prairie grass and Kansas sunsets- which are amazing, by the way- when we will soom be trekking mountain trails instead of paved prairie walks. Really, Maureen, cry us a river, right?

Well, I've lived and loved in Kansas long enough to appreciate the beauty and subtleties of the landscape, the openness of the space, the air, the sky. I mean, anyone can take great pictures from the top of a mountain, but it takes artistry to compose pictures on the dry summer prairie.

Or so I tell myself....

Anyway, without further ado about nothing- here is our little ode to the beauty of a dry, Kansas, summer afternoon.

"To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few."
-Emily Dickinson, Poems
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
-Albert Einstein
To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted. ~George Kneller
It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block. ~Paul Gauguin
"Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace."
-Author Unknown
"Forever is composed of nows."
-Emily Dickinson
"Let the credit card companies market as they will, the only thing that's priceless is Now."
-Caleb Baylor Hive, 2005
"They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom."
"Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights."
-Pauline R. Kezer

Monday, June 20, 2011

BreadwithHoney is moving...

URLs? No, moving. As in, hundreds of miles away. In 2.5 weeks.

It's good for my blog, really. Sometimes as I write, you see, I feel moderately hypocritical. I realize that lots of families are not blessed with the laid-back existence we have chosen for ours. Is it realistic to expect or even hope that a modern mother, with all the pressures and cares of soccer, lawn care, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum could actually feed her family a diet of fresh, nutritious foods? Or nurture her children with daily rituals of gentleness and joy?

Well, I'll never be a soccer mom, but I'm pretty sure that decluttering and packing a 2,700 square foot home, with the end goal of driving away in a small (not the semi-truck size, not the medium size- I mean small, people) UHaul, making and attending dozens of doctor's, dentist's, and miscellaneous appointments (how did I get so behind on those?), patching wall paint, fixing windows, and returning dozens of borrowed junk to rightful owners- in under a month- while my husband works extra hours to leave his current job in good order for when we go- suddenly qualifies me as a modern woman.

Can it be done?


Is it super-easy?

Not exactly.

But it still revolves around making menus, writing out grocery lists, and actually stopping what I'm doing, three times a day, whether I feel like it or not, and preparing the food.

It revolves around stopping when a child needs me and making a connection when I'd really rather get one more thing done. It's bubbles and lavender at 7 pm, come hell or high water. Of course, then I might be up till 2 am after they *finally* drift away... but happy children during a potentially very stressful time is worth the discipline.

The other reason to keep to routines- especially three healthy meals a day during times of extreme stress is for the immune system. The immune system is automatically and instantly taxed when you are under stress. The need for vitamin C, especially, skyrockets. Resort to snack foods, sugary sweets, pizza, and take-out during stress and your immune system goes into overdrive. Once the stress is gone, the immune system tends to crash and the result is that the body succumbs to the next germ it finds. Flu in January, anyone?

I've been working on lots of other posts in my head and in my drafts, but for now, dear reader, know that I am thinking of you and the good things to come. I'm mourning the loss of golden wheat fields and storm clouds on the horizon (literally, I mean) but looking forward to sharing with you some mountain glories, more stories, and some really. Good. Food.

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."
~Anatole France

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Menus and Grocery Manifestos

Menus. They work.

Really. They do. We go months at a time without eating out, sometimes. And every time we do eat out, we wish we were eating at home- where the food is cheaper, better, and the atmosphere quieter and more child-friendly. OK, except if we're eating at Chester's Chophouse, because, yes, Chester's is better than me. 700% as expensive. But better. Or at 5 Guys, because every American sometimes just needs a hamburger. At least at 5 Guys you get your hamburger with minimal guilt- and a lot of free veggie toppings. And those free peanuts are nice, too.

Moving on. Some folks use a 2 week menu, a 6 week menu, a weekly menu. If it works, it works. I've tried all those menus and none was a really good fit for a somewhat lazy, spontaneous cook often dragging through the kitchen with a child attached to one leg. Or both legs.

You get the picture.

I finally came up with a Theme Menu. (What the heck is a Theme Menu? Well naturally I am going to tell you.) Every night has a theme, and into that theme fit about a dozen recipes. I get the structure of knowing what's more-or-less for dinner without straining my sometimes weak brain, but without feeling boxed in by a normal Menu.

Monday is Pasta Night,
Tuesday is Soup or Salad Night,
Wednesday is... what's Wednesday? O ya, Wednesday is Leftovers,
Thursday is Chicken and Rice Night,
Friday is Fish or Beans Night,
Saturday is Beans or Eggs Night,
Sunday is Meat and Potatoes Night.

And then I keep the basics of the theme stocked- pasta, chicken, and so on. Then on Monday I can change my mind 50 times about what I'm going to cook for dinner according to my available time, mood, level of laziness, and behavior of my children. Plain ol' Spaghetti with Meat-and-snuck-in-veggies Sauce? Pasta Primavera? Pasta e Fagiole? Plain noodles with olive oil and salt with some haphazard protein on the side?

Charlotte Mason said the effort of decision will often derail a smoothly flowing day. But I've never been able to make a decision a week or - horrors- 6 weeks in advance and stick to it. (Ahem. My husband knows this, right dear?) So my Theme Menu gives me just enough structure to prevent flailing and fumbling and ultimate dinner failure, but allows me the sponateity that I need to appease my rebellious nature. (O yeah, I'm supposed to make lentil-rice casserole with mixed veggies, biscuits, and fruit salad? O yeah? Well I'll show you who's boss around here Mrs. Menu! I'm gonna make scrambled eggs instead! Ooooooh, you mad about that, huh?) Yes, I really am that ridiculous.

When I sit down to make a grocery list, I assume I will be making x on Monday Night, x on Tuesday night, etc. By having the ingredients on hand, I'm more likely to make what I've planned specifically that night. But I keep a well-stocked pantry of basics in case of last-minute changes, such as an unscheduled 3 pm nature walk or one more chapter of a really good read-aloud. And since I keep a month or two's supply of oats on hand at any given time, oatmeal for dinner is always an option. An option for which my little people often beg, to no avail. They just really love oatmeal.

After I get dinners under control, I make 14 little circles on the side of my lists, for snacks. I check the fridge and pantry for snack-appropriate stuff and check off what I have already. If I'm planning on making granola or something like that, I'll check off more little circles. As I grocery shop, I check the rest of these little circles off when I put fruits or other snack-ish things like brown rice cakes on sale or the ever-so-occasional treat of store-bought granola or crackers. Thus assuring myself that I will not panic when my bottomless pits ask for yet more food on any given day. That is, every day.

Lunch and breakfast go the same way. Generally this is the most profitable 30 minutes I spend in a week. We've totally eliminated the 'need' for eating out. (Sure I still daydream of Chipotle on draggy days, but when dinner is written out on the fridge, it's so much easier *not* to give in to the craving- and the laziness.)

Every homemaker seems to have her own system for Menus and grocery lists and that's mine. It works. Really well. For me.

While I'm sure some of my dear readers have found this to be a real *yawn* of a post, it was a request, so do forgive me. I hope you all have a relaxing weekend.

"Wisdom is never on the menu, you have to own the restaurant."
~Carrie Latet

Friday, June 17, 2011

Working on it!

Thanks to everyone who has given me feedback on my blog. I am currently working on figuring out how to get a recipe index up so y'all can find what you're looking for a bit easier.

For now, you can use the search box to the left to find recipes.

Happy Friday!

"To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

FFT Friday: Mother Nature

by Emily Dickinson

Nature, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,
Her admonition mild
In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrell
Or too impetuous bird.
How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon,-
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down
Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.
When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky
With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

But My Child Won't Touch Brocolli!

Aaaah- the objections surface. Someone mutters under her breath, "Do her kids *really* eat (fill in the blank)?" (And yes, sometimes the answer to that is no.)

Many of the foods we eat around here are eaten because, well, there's nothing else to eat. But other foods have taken, shall we say, creative marketing.

When my oldest son was wee, I started collecting high-quality picture books. No twaddle around here, thank-you-very-much. And I was delighted and fascinated by the number of good children's books that were full of food. Gorgeous pictures, good stories, and food? Hello! That's what paradise is made of.

"Mommy, is the pasta Strega Nona makes in her magic pot whole wheat?"
"Of course it is, dear."

Ever wanted to try millet? Read Camel Caravan and just see if you can convince your little people not to try it. Raw. Pounded. On thier oatmeal. Whatever. I cry every time we read this book. I tear up just thinking about the nursing mother/ baby camels in this story. Sniff.

I found the book Onions and Garlic

and used it in a brainwashing fashion- determined not to pass on the paternal illness of onion aversion. Did it work? Sorta. But the story is fantastic, and it definitely makes a good spring board for talking about all the health benefits of these two awesome culinary wonders.

Reading a good picture story book about a food is like sprinkling a little magic fairy dust on it. It's just as easy to read a story about real food as it is to read a story about cupcakes. Harder to find, maybe, but quite worth it!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear
Though few children need motivation to eat red, ripe, juicy strawberries!
In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection)
Silly, ridiculous, fun. We always laugh at the end because, of course, NO ONE eats cake for breakfast every morning. Um, right?
Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months
Because really, is there a more perfect food?
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z
OK, not a story. But a gorgeous way to introduce a vast array of fruits and veggies in a fun way. This book is not yet in our home collection, but it is on The List in a serious way. A must for the natural foodie household.

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see."
~John Burroughs