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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rest, Rest, Rest

My brain and my body recently figured out that the move is, in fact, over. Everyone they are resposible for has settled and adjusted. All our stuff (except my favorite mixing bowl) has found a home in our new home, and there's just no reason to be rushing about all the time.

And Monday morning, making that connection, both my brain and my body just sorta went caput. I realized that I was exhausted. So I slept. All day. (Thanks goodness for Playmobil and CCC videos- blush.) I'm spending the rest of this week on vacation. Or something akin to that, as mothers pretty much have to cook, clean, and bandage boo-boos even on 'vacation.' And I don't mind a bit. It's more of a mental vacation, I guess.

Anyway, here are some really great things to google in the meantime. (Yes, my links are still down, and yes, it is pathetic that I still haven't figured out how to fix that.)

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures (DO NOT SKIP THIS CHANCE TO LAUGH UNTIL YOU CRY AND FEEL REALLY GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF. This blog is hilarious.)

Just Add Light and Stir- Blog (Don't miss the chance to be inspired by the everyday living and loving that happens all around you.)

"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Monday, August 29, 2011

That Kind of a Day

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."
-Agatha Christie

"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable."
-Francis Bacon

Unfortunately, that may be why it takes me so long to do the dishes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

NOT jam puffs...

but still scrumptiously good.
Just not very puffy.

I've been reading waaaay to much British literature lately. For no apparent reason except I feel like it, and Ed renting Wuthering Heights last week, and myself aquiring about 100 books, many of which were printed in London, and most of which are British classics, and having a new public library to explore. (How's that for a run-on sentence, Mrs. Stegman?)

All part of the 'pudding' rabbit trail, no doubt.

The children are engrossed in other pursuits, and have no interest in listening to Dickens and Shakespeare. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles), their current bedtime read-aloud, is an adventure of some thoroughly British girls, governess and absentee parents and all, but that's as far as it goes.

They are, however, enjoying the effects of my reading- puddings and comfort food. All good literature has good food in it, and I get overcome with cravings when I read of elegant ladies having jam puffs with their tea.

Well, after finding some recipes for jam puffs, I can say I am appalled.

I remain quite confused how the British can eat the way they do in books and yet have managed to dominate the globe the way they did for so long...

No way at all can you give a jam puff a nutritional face-lift! So we settled for jam-stuffed biscuits, which are delicious and won't contribute to diabetes or cancer or what have you.

Quite a treat with some lemon balm or chamomile tea on a stormy afternoon- which is how the afternoons have been going here.

Jam-filled Biscuits
2c wh wh flour
1/2t real salt
2t aluminun-free baking powder
1c pecans or walnuts or 1.2 slivered almonds
Mix in large bowl.
1/2c oil (I used raw, organic coconut)
2/3c water or milk
Mix onlt till moistened, knead several times.
Roll out 1/2" thick, cut and place on greased baking sheets. Indent the centers with your thumb; fill with jam. We used raspberry fruit spread. Roll remaining dough as thin as possible with the chucks of nut poking about, and place on top of jam. If you want, you can use your fingers to seal them around the edges. Holds in the jam, but they don't puff up as much as they would otherwise.

Bake at 400 for 15-17 minutes.
Fighting waiting for the biscuits....

Brush with extra jam while warm if you wish.

I am making a double batch of these tomorrow!

"Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you."
-Annie Dillard

"The best kind of rain, of course, is a cozy rain. This is the kind the anonymous medieval poet makes me remember, the rain that falls on a day when you'd just as soon stay in bed a little longer, write letters or read a good book by the fire, take early tea with hot scones and jam and look out the streaked window with complacency."
-Susan Allen Toth, England For All Seasons

"Nobody does childhood like the English!"
-Mike Meyers

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Baked, not fried, and whole wheat, of course!

A special treat because Daddy had to work Saturday, and the promise of as-many-donuts-as-you-wish did seem to make up for it to all of us.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you the recipe, because it comes verbatim and ver-yum-tim out of Whole Foods for the Whole Family Cookbook. I can't improve upon the recipe. They really did come out light and fluffy like glazed donuts, though I was secretly hoping for cake donuts. The recipe would also makes decadent cinnamon rolls, which I will make next Friday night if Daddy has to work next Saturday.

And the vanilla-honey glaze? Let's just say there was plenty leftover until... there wasn't any leftover!!!

So sorry to torture you, but believe me, this cookbook is worth it's weight in gold!

"Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly!"
-Fulton Sheen

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
-Fr. Alfred D'Souza

Carpe diem, or today, carpe donuts.

Friday, August 26, 2011

FFT Friday: the Cup of Tea I Needed Most

Generally, when I get a good book in my paws, I inhale it like a greedy 2-year-old with a big cookie. (The image is in my head because my almost-2-year-old did in fact inhale a big fat no-good-for-you cookie today- in case you were wondering, it does happen sometimes here.)

Point in case: this week I got my paws on three novels by Elizabeth Goudge I've had on my reading list for 5 years and I'm nearly done with the 3rd. And actually I only laid paws on them 3 days ago. (Blush.... I mean the meals got cooked, the laundry got folded and little people got nurtured... I do read really fast...)

So when I read a book slowly, it's to savour it. To digest it as I go. To pray it, ruminate on it as I take it into my mind. And if a book is good enough for me to read slowly, really tasting every bite, then it's a truly special book, and they don't come often.

I just finished a book which I read veeeeery slowly. It took me 7 days to read a volume I could have read in about 4 hours. Because I didn't want it to end. Because it was like having a cup of tea after a rough day with just the person who had just the right things to say. The book left me at peace, deeply at peace with myself. Myonly regret is that I didn't read this book before placing my book orders this summer.


Here it is:
A Little Way of Homeschooling

Suzie Andres has done it again. With humility, simplicity, and the sharpness of a fine sword, she cuts through every fear in my mother's heart, even the ones I didn't know were there. Her first book:
Homeschooling with Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschoolingwas revolutionary. Utterly revolutionary.

But the critics were there, in the wings, ready: O sure, for a highly educated and well-read family that might work. O sure, if you only have 2 kids, spaced 10 years apart that's a nice idea. O sure, if....

But here is a collection of writings from over a dozen women who let natural learning happen in their homes. Homes with a child or two; homes with a dozen or so! Homes where very different types of children have grown up to become intelligent, peaceful individuals with happy, productive lives.

Plus, in the spirit of Suzie and her husband's academic work, there is more information on the reassuring philosophical underpinnings of a relaxed home education (that her first book was so full of)- why it works, why it makes sense, why it is in keeping with the laws of nature and the laws of the human soul.

If I were considering whether homeschooling was for me, I would read this book.
If I were feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, and was fighting with my children due in part (or in whole) to the way I was homeschooling, I would read this book.
If I thought unschooling was a four-letter word, I would read this book.
If I wanted to know more about what several very holy saints had to say about education, I'd read this book.

If I had to rescue books from a fire and I could only take 3 homeschooling reference books (or what I call Mother-books) with me, this would be one of them, along with John Holt's Growing without Schooling and Mary Hood's The Relaxed Homeschooler.

Mother Teresa said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." Why does that quotation capture the essence of this book for me? Because in this modern, fast-paced world, I look at families, with children learning at home or in schools, and I see the lack of peace. For me, this book illuminates a way to bring peace into my home and keep it there, like a well-tended fire.

God bless you, and may you find the cup of tea you really need today.

"This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put." ~Attributed to Winston Churchill, rejecting the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition, c.1948, may instead have been said by an anonymous official, see notes at www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html
(YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG I HAVE WAITED TO FIT THIS FAVORITE QUOTE OF MINE INTO A POST HERE!!!! And no, it doesn't really fit here, but I couldn't wait another day to use it on you. And yes, if you scrutinize, I find it necessary to leave prepositions dangling now and then in order to properly express myself.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Your Green Smothie NEEDS

Beautiful. Ounce upon ounce of green, frothy energy. (This green shake is actually a nice chartreuse due to a high volume of soy-coconut yogurt!)
But it's missing something, isn't it?

Isn't that so much better???????????????

Ummm, what is that you ask?

Why it's a hand-blown, reinforced-tip glass straw, silly!

We've been straw-free for some time around here. Those super-cheapies don't stand up to serious smoothie sucking, and no way I'm splurging on the good straws! But sometimes, let's just get it out in the open, a green smoothie can taste ok and smell... not so ok.

Enter glassstraws.com. These are heavy-duty sippers, folks! They are hand-blown in the USA of borosilicate glass- the same stuff Pyrex is made of. And I dropped one on our laminate floor. Didn't break. Phew!

They come in plain glass, but all our samples have colored tips or dots to help you differentiate whose is whose. My favorite by far:
this petite bent straw is picture perfect for my baby's smoothies, cocoas, and teas. He's delighted with it!

The straws come in 2 different diameters, regular and also a bit bigger for thick smoothies. We could slurp pretty well even out of the smaller diameter straws because they don't collapse like el plasticos. (I'm fluent in Spanglish.)
(It's really difficult to take good pictures of crystal-clear objects.

Rosie has claimed the pink-tipped straw already, of course, and Isaiah, the amber-tip. These feel sooooo good in your mouth. We are pretty much in love with these babies.

If you rinse them right away they come totally clean, but glassstraws.com also sells a really nifty, inexpensive cleaning brush in case you, ya know, leave your smoothie glasses on the counter over night- grooooooan. Hate it when I do that!

The talented and generous folks over at glassstraws.com have graciously given BreadwithHoney a set of these gorgeous, handmade creations to give away! To enter the drawing, comment on a post (intelligently, please, "Dude, cool!" is not going to count here) and when I'm up to 50 followers, I'll draw from the commenters for the straw set.

I encourage you to mosey on over to www.glassstraws.com and look around. Their prices are very reasonable, and I think they would make superb Christmas gifts for everyone I know who has everything they reasonably need or want. Which, this being America, is pretty much all of us. So I kinda hope no one related to me wins the giveaway.

"Life is an onion and one cries while peeling it."
~French Proverb

"Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon."
~Doug Larson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A First for John Paul

Major storm today.


His first

And a double at that!

"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."
~e.e. cummings

"The sky is the daily bread of the eyes."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Days, This Job's the Pits

Here's what it looks like when we've had a great day of academic and artistic pursuit:

Let's not even talk about what a bad day might look like! My children have constant access to all our learning materials and yes, it can get messy. But life is messy. Might as well have fun and learn something, eh?

But this post is actually about deodorant. What? Ya, I've got a recipe for that, too. (My children are always flattering me: Mom, I need a yo-yo... do you have a sewing pattern for that? Mommy, will you cook cook us some blue paper like the blue playdough you cook? I dread the day they discover that their mom is not, in fact, Superwoman.)

The aluminum in anti-perspirant is a big no-no for your health. It is a known carcinogen. It seals up your body exocrine glands which were designed- get this- to sweat. Your body isn't mistaken. You need to sweat.

You just might not want to stink while you do it.

Deodorants might be a lesser evil, but they are still an amalgam of synthetic chemicals... even most of the health food store ones. My husband discovered, lucky dog, that simply rubbing baking soda under there after a shower works well for him. Me? Not so lucky.

So here's my recipe. The baking soda is a no-brainer. The coconut oil is antibacterial and prevents the proliferation of those pesky bacteria that stink you up. The essential oils make you smell good!

Reaaaally scientific:
Dump some baking soda in your container. Add enough coconut oil to moisten. Add your essential oils of choice. I used lavender and vanilla and it smells a little too edible. Lavender and tea tree is great, though.

Put the lid on. Enjoy!

And just in case you needed 1 more picture of my back yard:

"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is."
~Francis Bacon

"Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place."
~Mark Twain

Monday, August 22, 2011

Carrot Pudding

"Come with a woop, or come with a call,
Come with good will or not at all.
You find milk and I'll find the flour,
And we'll have a pudding in half an hour."
-Mother Goose

Many of our children's books feature 'puddings.' Basically, from what we can gather between Mother Goose and fairy tales like "The Three Wishes and the Pudding," a British pudding appears to be just a quick bread, with plums or raisins, baked in a deep, round dish, or boiled/ steamed in a bag.

After an embarrassing amount of reading on traditional British foods, it appears lots of different types of dishes are calles puddings. Some are baked, some are steamed, some are just mixed and chilled (usually fruit-based puddings).

I accidentally made a raw berry pudding last week, but it's not ready to be shared yet. I'll have to be able to recreate it first! I also want to make cornish pasties, yorkshire pudding, bread and butter pudding, and Christmas pudding.

I can make French food, Italian food, Polish food, even a few Russian dishes, but British food has never seemed very interesting before. What? Spotted Dick not intersting? Preposterous!

We've been talking about making a pudding for ages. Today is grey and rainy, so we made a pudding. We made three small ones, actually, one of which we will save for tomorrow. Rosie's feast day! (Feast of St. Rose of Lima.)

Of course, our pudding had to be dairy free, which is definitely not very British... all the recipes look to be full of cream and butter, not to mention slathered in creme fraiche. O well, close 'nuff for us to eat with our Mother Goose.

Here she is, a BreadwithHoney original:

Carrot-Banana Pudding (Bread)
Preheat oven to 315.
4c peeled, chunked carrots (or be lazy and use a 1 lb bag of baby carrots)
3 lg or 4 sm bananas
4 eggs
1c oil
2t vanilla
Blend the above well in the blender.
Sift into a large bowl:
3c whole wheat flour
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
1t salt
3t cinnamon
1/4 c maple sugar/ agave/ etc. (optional)
1c walnuts
1c raisins
Then add the wet ingredients and blend just till moist through.
Pour into greased dishes- 2 loaf pans, 3 bowls, etc.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean.

Slather with butter (lucky you), jam, or Earth Balance (I know it's not really a whole food, but c'mon, even I have my little vices.

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
-Jim Davis

"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"
-Pink Floyd, 'Another Brick in the Wall'

Hey, Pink, we had our pudding for lunch- we didn't eat even a bite of meat first!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ritual for a Mother

Rituals- toothbrushing and facewashing before bed, coffee and the paper at 6am- soothe the body and nurture the spirit. But the ritual of prayer, it does something even deeper.

It feeds the Soul.

Everyone has rituals. Even the people who claim they hate ritual.

Everyone needs rituals.

I used to be the maven of the bedtime ritual around here, but since moving here, myhusband has taken over. A big benefit of his new job is thathe is here, every night. Without exception.

So John Paul and I have a magical hour to ourselves, while Dad gentles Brother and Sister off to dreamland. After his bath, John gets tucked into his second-hand jogging stroller with a warm blanket (the nights here are already growing chilly), and off we trot.

I have a Rosary swinging from one hand as we glide down the hill to the park. A park here isn't much more than a patch of grass with a track around it, a far cry form the acre-after-acre-parks of our hometown, but it's all I need tonight. There are no park lights or street lights around here: when night falls, night falls.

And being in the mountains, the earth is dark while the sky is still bright. Prayer is effortless under the circumstances.

With every step the cares of the day peel away from my soul, a little bit more and a little bit more. The darkness feels like a pool where I come and wash my spirit.

The love of the Triune God is burning there, here, within, waiting. And when the words of the prayers open me, and I connect with that furnace, the past and the future are burned away leaving only the present moment. Flooded with Grace.

John Paul never lets me get too lost in my prayers, as he eventually points up the hill and cries, "Home! Night-night!"

And so we go.

Generally speaking, I don't 'find' time for prayer. But a priest told me once, you must avoid occasions of sin; you must create occasions of grace. Just as I order the environment for my children towards joyful learning, I strive to order my own environment towards prayer. We have little rituals- prayer before meals and each time we get into the car. In fact, I used to use my driving time as my Rosary time at times when home was so busy and so hectic, I'd fall into bed exhausted and realize I'd barely nodded at my God all day. Unfortunately, there just isn't anywhere far enough away from you in a small town to get much prayer done on a car ride!

This half an hour tryst with my stroller is my own answer to a mother's busy life, for now at least.

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."
-Mother Teresa

"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
-Padre Pio

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Elk Attack!

Just kidding.

But it could've. Isaiah and I have been asked to please keep a fence between ourselves and large wild animals. This beast did do this interesting head shaking thing which, after a couple shakes, I realized was not to get rid of flies. It was his polite way of saying, "GET OUT OF MY SPACE BEFORE I GET YOU OUT OF IT!"

Point well taken. Will be practising proper precautions from now on.

Of course, Isaiah was thrilled with the adrenaline rush of the elk encounter. The graceful beast marched right up near our fence and plopped down in the shade of a bush. (The younger 2 were still sleeping while Isaiah and I talked on the back porch.)

He made his first New Mexico nature journal entry.

He had the camera the whole time and took some pretty good photos. The green thing on its ear is a tag used to track elk migration.
A footprint, a bit hard to make out:

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." ~Mark Twain

HEY, by the way!!!!!

I dearly love all my readers. And I dearly love sharing my super-special recipes with you.

Please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease drop me a line when you make them and let me know how they turn out!

I really like feedback on my recipes.

Also, I can't tell you about it yet, but I have a give-away in the works and you want to be in on it! It will be open to all followers of this blog. It's for something very green, very fun, and having to do with smoothies.

Mmmmmmm... green smoothie craving....

"He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts."
~Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maureen's Mostly Thorough Guide to Non-Dairy Yogurt

As part of my never-ending quest for healthy, yummy, easy food, I have been making yogurt again. Way easier and less time-consuming than bread. Or even power bars! I've been wanting to gather all my randomly gathered info into one place, hence this Most(ly) Thorough Guide.

Berry delicious!

Ok, here we go! Before you start, make sure your hands and tools are very clean, and VERY well rinsed after any soap contact. If you lick your finger, wash it. If you lick the spoon, get a fresh one. Your saliva breaks down the bacteria we're using here to yogue our yogurt. No saliva contact!

Read this entire post, plus maybe spend an hour googling before you start. Wrap your mind around the process and you'll save yourself a lot of grief.

BTW: dairy yogurt is much easier and more forgiving to make than non-dairy. Yogurt is one of the few dairy products I would choose to eat even if I could. A main caveat for dairy yogurt: do NOT use ultra-pasteurized milk! (I.e. the crappy 'organic' milk at your big-box and possibly regular grocery store is probably going to be ultra-pateurized. Read labels!)

You have 2 options for starting your dairy-free yogurt:

1- buy a small cup of plain, additive-free greek yogurt (jar/ cup should and must say "live, active cultures" on the label) from the store (very little actual casein or lactose will remain at the end of the culturing process, so if your sensitivity is not extreme, this should work ok. If your allergy is extreme, use option 2 below.)

2- purchase a non-dairy yogurt starter. Cultures for Health (google them, my links are YES still down?) sells one for a very good price.

The batches I've been making use greek yogurt as the inoculator. The kids are fine with it, but I'm having digestive issues, so I'm going to be ordering from Cultures for Health later this week.

Why greek yogurt? Greek yogurt will produce a thicker yogurt than regular yogurt. Non-dairy yogurts tend to be thin, so anything that helps to thicken it is good.

On to the milk: you can use soy or coconut milk for best results. Rice and almond will not get very thick, but would be fine for using in smoothies. I have the best luck with soy milk that has coconut oil added. (1-4 ounces per quart). Fat increases the thickness, creaminess, and overall deliciousness of any yogurt. You could also do a can of coconut milk and 3c soy milk. Soy yogurt can get quite sour in an unpleasant way. Coconut milk gets tangy in a good way, but if left to long will also get sour. My perfect combo is the soy with coconut oil added. Can't beat protein and good fat combined!

ALSO: don't add honey to your milk. Honey is antibacterial and can interfere with the bacterial action. It is best and most reliable to add nothing to your milk. But I do sometimes add stevia and/ or a drizzle of agave or a Spoon of maple sugar. Again, for most reliable results, culture your milk plain and sweeten or flavor afterwards!

A word on soy: unfermented soy can interfere with thyroid function. I have a pretty serious thyroid problem. Unfortunately soy is the only milk sub with the same high protein content. But turn your soy into yogurt and bypass the issue! (See Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon.) Perfect for a dairy-free pregnancy.

Preheat your milk. This really helps! Use a non-stick pan for sanity's sake. Bring milk to a low boil and hold it there for up to 1/2 hour. The longer you heat, the thicker the yogurt. Cool your pan first,
says my "Joy of Cooking" cookbook. WHY? I don't know. But it does seem to help.

Let milk cool to 110 degrees. You can use a thermometer, but mine broke many months ago, so somewhere I read that 110 degrees is when you can just barely hold your finger in the milk.
If you can't keep it in there, it's too hot. If you can keep it in there easily, it's too cool.

Did you lick your finger? I did. Wash 'em up!

Once your milk is at the right temperature, it is important to work quickly. Remove 1 Tablespoon per pint into a glass and add 1 teaspoon of room temperature yogurt and whisk well. Reincorporate into the milk by stirring well.

Why so little yogurt? I've seen recommendations for up to 1 Tablespoon of yogurt per quart of milk, but adding too much inoculator (the term for your yogurt or prepackaged yogurt culture) will make your yogurt watery. The inoculator is bacteria that 'eats' your milk to produce yogurt. Each bacterium needs space to spread out and chow down. Crowding the bacteria prevents your yogurt from setting up well.

Now pour into your yogurt maker (lucky you) or into your preheated crockpot (then turn it off and wrap your crockpot in two big towels), or pour into a big jar and place in a preheated cooler (my current set-up).

That's it. Come back in 6 hours and check. It is congealed? If not, leave it another hour or 2. 8 hours is usually quite sufficient.

Refrigerate immediately.

Today I did add some very hot water to my cooler after 6 hours because things had cooled down too much. A yogurt maker keeps things at a steady 110 degrees. But usually the crock pot or cooler method works fine. Don't check on the yogurt too often, too much jostling can ruin a batch and it will never thicken.

I do still want this yogurt maker, but for now, my Squincher is doing just fine. The auto shut-off is so enticing though!

Can you say "YUM!"???

Nice and thick.
I am obsessed with this stuff. The coconut tang is amazing.

Troubles? Try looking around at Cultures for Health. Lots of good info over there!

Also, remember that you might not get a really good gel every time. If your yogurt comes out thin, pour it in a cup and drink it. Fewer dishes to wash, anyway.

Happy culturing! Do let me know if you try yogue-ing with these directions.

"Remember, men need laughter sometimes more than food."
~Anna Fellows Johnston