Showing posts with label recipes tips and tricks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes tips and tricks. Show all posts


bread & wine: a love letter

Bread & Wine, Shauna Niequist's latest offering of essays are as charming and disarming as we've come to expect from this warm-hearted storyteller. The icing on the cake is the additional treat of favorite recipes which perfectly frame a narrative built around eating and hospitality.

Her stories are sensuous and evocative, celebrating memories shared around tables and the ways we nourish more than bodies in the breaking of bread. Shauna makes you want to cook and more than that, to feed people. Her vision of hospitality is one we seem to have lost along the way and long for again.

This is not a book about "entertaining" or showing off but eating together, eating simply, and eating well. She shares travel stories, heartbreaks, and lessons learned in community, balance, and embodied living. You definitely come away wanting to share a meal at Shauna's house, but it's still relatable: she confesses to serving cheese and crackers for dinner and admits it can be easier to feed a crowd than cook for your family day in and day out. She offers practical tips for doing both better, sharing her own learning process in between honest stories about friendship, parenting, celebration, shared burdens, and eating with joy.

I read an advanced copy that was missing a few recipes (although I have them in my inbox), and I look forward to putting more into my rotation. I did make her Breakfast Cookies. They were a little too wholesome for my picky eaters, who longed for a bite of chocolate with their banana, coconut, and oats, but they've been good for me before or after workouts.

I've been dressing salads in simple oil and vinegar for months, but Shauna convinced me that homemade vinaigrette can be just as simple and twice as versatile. Olive oil is no good in the fridge, but a maple Dijon balsamic dressing can sit out on the counter for up to a week and is as tasty on roasted asparagus as it is on greens (and probably quite good as a marinade, too). I've already made it twice, no measuring.

I definitely want to try the Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Butter Toffee and Annette's Enchiladas because hers look simpler than the way I make them, and I keep hearing rave reviews.

Both down-to-earth and inspiring, Bread & Wine captures the pleasures of fresh food, full-bodied flavor, and life shared around the table.

Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity. Feed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you've ever heard, the best stories you've ever lived.
There will be a day when it all falls apart...There are things we can't change. Not one of them. Can't fix, can't heal, can't put the broken pieces back together. But what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That's all any of us can do. That's what we're here for. (come to the table, Bread & Wine)

review copy provided by zondervan. opinions mine, affiliate links, what-have-have. as you were, soldier.


green ways to soften sad winter skin

a throwback from the archives. i thought the week could use some lighter fare!

although t.s. eliot said, "april is the cruelest month," my vote is with january. dark afternoons, tundric temperatures, and lack of fresh fare (and air) cast shadows on the post-holidaze, but the accompanying itchy skin doesn't exactly endear the season to me, either.  thankfully, relief can be found well before the ground thaws.

1. Humidifiers Are Your Friend. we run one in both bedrooms, and they make a huge difference. indoor heating strips moisture from the air, and a humidifier puts it back in nicely, making skin healthier and breathing easier. just remember to keep it clean so that you aren't circulating bacteria or mold. we use these filter-free models that are quiet and effective work horses. 

2. Re-Think Your Body Lotions and Moisturizers. ingredients like alcohol, fragrance, and synthetic glycerin can actually dry your skin. mineral oil, petroleum, and petrolatum are also poor ingredients in a moisturizer. chemically identical to crude oil, they cannot be absorbed and form an impenetrable barrier, blocking skin from receiving moisture or oxygen (and preventing the body's release of toxins). sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate can irritate sensitive skin as well.

i love non-greasy jojoba oil, even on my face. it's truly healing, prevents itchy winter skin, and absorbs especially well after a shower. almond and coconut oils are nourishing, too.  

3. The Best Thing for Chapped Lips: lanolinagain, petroleum-based products won't truly moisturize.  it's decidedly non-vegan but natural and long lasting, and i like to put it on the kids' chapped noses, too. you can spring for organic to avoid traces of pesticide or other toxins. cocoa butter and coconut oil are worthy vegan alternatives.

3. Turn Down the Water Temperature. excessive heat is drying on delicate skin (and uses more energy). although i still can't bear to give up super-hot showers, i try to keep them short and turn down the heat while washing dishes and hands. 

4. Use a Saline Nasal Spray. the ones i'm talking about cost under $2 and contain no medicinal ingredients. nasal passages can become dry and uncomfortable in the winter, and a saline spray can be soothing. when i get a bottle, i pop off the lid and put in 2-3 drops of tea tree oil. its antiseptic properties help to prevent illness, making a good thing even better.

now i wonder if anything barring a tropical vacation could make this six degree weather feel like a balmy 60 degrees...

[affiliate links included. shared with Your Green Resource hosted by Live Renewed, Sorta Crunchy, A Delightful Home, Simply Rebekah, Creating Naturally, and Red and Honey.]


Buy Less, Live More | 6 Ways to Make A Difference With Your Dollar {part 4}

This post is fourth in a series about the intersection of  faith, justice, consumerism, and poverty. 

image: ndh

We've been talking about justice, global poverty, and faith, and I promised a practical sort of post. So what do we do? Where do we go from here? Then I dragged my feet and wondered, Who am I to write any of this? Our family is does not live this ethic perfectly, and I won't pretend to have all the answers. We're just learning and making changes as we go, and I invite you along this path as a fellow pilgrim, not an expert.

Figures estimate that the world's wealthiest 20% [that's us] consume 80% of its resources. Americans alone, who number only 5% of the world population consume a staggering quarter.

The truth is that we vote with our dollars, and every purchase is an opportunity to live another Way. We don't have to live off-the-grid: small changes add up, and even baby steps in the right direction make a difference.

Let's stop allowing apathy, greed, or fear of not doing enough keep us from doing anything at all. If we stop tending and propping up our idols they will fall.

We can do this: consume less that we all may live more.

1. Buy Less

That's obvious, but I'm talking about more than just the things which overflow our closets and shelves. What if we also considered the packaging our food came in and the resources used to produce and transport that? Would we buy in bulk? Would we make our own snacks instead of purchasing individually wrapped ones? Would we skip the take-out bag of trash and pack a lunch instead?

Reuse / Re-purpose. Glass jars hold leftovers as well as the plastic ones you buy, and they don't leech harmful chemicals. Old tee shirts and socks clean as well as disposable dusters and commercial bathroom wipes. Lidded snack containers can hold small toys, and the zippered bag the sheets came in gathers art supplies as well as any pencil case.

Repair. This one can be frustrating, since it's often cheaper to buy a whole new blender than to find the part to fix it, but if our family is able to keep something out of a landfill, we start there. Mending coats and shoes are often inexpensive repairs that breathe new life into old things. Part of curbing consumption is taking better care of the things that we already have. 

Do without. Who needs paper towels/napkins/plates? Wrapping paper. This season's newest clothing, decor, and gadgets. Stuff to hold stuff. Knickknacks. Our family is slowly learning to be more conscious of the items we allow into our home.

2. Buy Smart

Good deals often aren't if we look at the big picture. Cheap consumer goods are ultimately disposable, and the cheap labor who make them are treated similarly. While inexpensive toys break and clothes wear out, well-made goods may last many seasons--or generations. In the long run, cheap things that require replacing are more expensive and consume more resources--environmental and human--than those crafted to last.

Cheap reusables aren't doing the planet any favors eitherJunk water bottles or grocery bags aren't better than the disposables they are meant to replace if they aren't made well. Invest in one nice travel mug instead of six crappy ones that are destined for the recycling bin.

{image source}
3. Buy Fair
"Fair Trade products are food or crafts that are produced under standards designed to end and prevent the poverty, sweatshop labor conditions, environmental degradation, etc that are endemic to the free trade “race to the bottom” that puts profits above people and the planet." (Global Exchange)
Fair trade items are not necessarily more expensive. Direct trade relationships minimize the distance between production and retail, ensuring better wages for workers and often keeping prices affordable for buyers. Fair trade shops like Gifts With Humanity and Lotus Jayne demonstrate how affordable, beautiful, and unique fair trade can be.

Most major U.S. chocolate manufacturers--including Nestle, Hersheys, Cadbury, and Mars--rely on child slaveryThe story of coffee is similar. Buying fair trade ensures just wages and no child exploitation. We need to consider the votes we cast with our wallets: is our "need" for cheap chocolate or coffee more important than basic human rights?

{image source}
4. Buy Vintage

It's not just for hipsters and penny pinchers. Buying used is a fantastic way to reduce our consumer and carbon footprint. Scour craigslist and freecycle. Hit up consignment and yard sales. Check antique and thrift stores. Host a stuff swap with friends. One man's trash really is another's treasure, and many vintage items have more mileage in them than the brand-new, poorly made stuff lining shelves at big box stores.

If you're into previously-loved goodies, let people know. There seems to be a cultural taboo against giving used items, so if you're down with vintage, say so. It's silly to feel pressured to buy brand new gifts just because we think we should.

5. Buy Handmade (or DIY!)

There really is something special about a handmade gift. If you aren't crafty, can you bake presents for teachers or neighbors? Craft fairs and websites like Etsy are a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind toys, jewelry, artwork, clothing, home goods, body products, and more.
6. Buy Local
For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.  (3/50 Project)
Dollars do far more good in indie shops than in the big box stores that are most apt to put them out of business, so keep it local when you can.

Living Another Way

Healing from affluenza requires intentionality. Cancel the catalogs. Stop making mall runs "just to look."  Opt out of the daily deal emails that alert you to sales on stuff you don't need. If t.v. commercials and magazines feed a lust for stuff, cut 'em out.

It may be cliche, but possessions do have a way of possessing us, don't they? They more stuff we have, the more time we spend cleaning and maintaining it. Choosing to have less may mean having more time to play, serve, and enjoy--and more money to give away generously.  

Learning the grace of enough and living against the consumerist tide may just lead to real abundance, for ourselves and our world.

This post is fourth in a series about the intersection of  faith, justice, consumerism, and poverty. 

How do you "vote with your dollar"?  What changes have you made?  How do you fight your own consumerist tendencies or go about making more ethical purchasing decisions?  I would love to hear your thoughts.


local, seasonal: rustic almond pear tart

Saturday was our last farmers' market of the year.  It's a shame since there is still so much produce growing locally, but I'm grateful that we have it at all for as long as we do.  So many communities have little access to fresh foods, and I don't take ours for granted.

We bought peppers for another batch of pepper relish and came home with an overflowing half-bushel of organic pears for only three dollars. I knew right away that I wanted to make this rustic pear tart.

I often clip recipes that I never make or try once and never go back, but this tart remains a favorite that I return to every autumn.  This isn't a food blog, but I wanted to share it anyway because it's fairly simple, seasonal and a crowd-pleaser for dessert or brunch.

1-1/3 c flour (I haven't, but I'm sure you could use half whole wheat flour)
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
2 to 3 Tbsp cold water

3/4 c sugar (could reduce or substitute a smaller amount of maple syrup or honey)
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 c flour
1 tsp lemon essence (or a bit of freshly grated lemon zest)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
4 medium ripe pears, sliced (I leave peels on, especially if pears are organic)
1 Tbsp butter

1 egg white
1 tsp water
1 Tbsp coarse sugar

1/4 c confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted

Combine flour, sugar and salt and cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll into a 14-inch circle and transfer pastry to a baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, almonds, flour, lemon essence/zest and cinnamon. Add pears and toss to coat. Spoon over the pastry to within 2 in. of edges; dot with butter. Fold edges of pastry over pears. For topping, beat egg white and water. Brush over pastry; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.

For glaze, combine sugar, milk and vanilla and pour over warm tart. Sprinkle with almonds. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.


homemade deodorant that won't leave you smelling like a dirty hippie

If you are here via Pinterest, welcome! I hope you'll subscribe, leave a comment, and stay in touch. I'm on facebook and twitter @suzannahpaul.

I love replacing conventional household products with natural alternatives, and it's a double win when I can make something simple at a fraction of the cost (and with none of the packaging) of pricier green brands.

Enter Homemade Deodorant.

I never ever thought I'd be one to tout this. Being something of a sweat monster, it seemed too hippie, even for me. I've worn prescription deodorant and sweated through more outfits than I care to remember. Also, I have a crazy-hyper sense of smell and am mildly obsessed with conquering odor. Forgoing Secret seemed impossible, even though I felt increasingly wary of the ingredients in drugstore brands.

Plus, I'd tried a few "natural" deodorants: they didn't work at all and still contained things like aluminum, triclosan, propylene glycol, and fragrance [phthlates]. Boo to that.

But this three-ingredient homemade version? Magical, I tell you. Seriously. 

It's just baking soda, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), and coconut oil, and you can add essential oils for scent. It's so simple, and I kid you not, it actually works.

This recipe is for a deodorant not an antiperspirant, but not only do I not stink at the end of the day or even the next, I actually sweat waaaay less than I used to all those years I used Secret. The function of an antiperspirant is to plug pores to artificially stop sweat from coming out, but I think it can kinda piss them off, and they go into sweat overdrive to fight back.

(You like it when I talk science, don't you?)

I'm telling you, with this natural deodorant, my body basically has it's God-given natural permission to sweat back, and instead, it's like, "Nah, I'm good."

OK, so details. The recipe is from Passionate Homemaking, and I found it via Simple Organic.

1/4 c baking soda (for anti-stink and dry)
1/4 c corn starch (for smooth and dry. arrowroot powder / flour is a worthy substitute.)
6 Tbsp coconut oil (for soft and anti-stink. antimicrobial. possibly magical.)

Combine powders. Add oil as needed and mix until proper consistency is achieved.

Here is where is can get a little tricksy: coconut oil is solid under 76 degrees, so you'll get significantly different results depending on the weather. During colder weather it is solid like conventional deodorant, and on wicked hot days it's more like a lotion. Either way, I scoop out a pea-sized amount with my finger and apply.

I keep mine in a re-purposed jar in the bathroom. The first time I made it, I put in in an old deodorant stick, as was suggested on blogs, and that was a mess! It got runny and overflowed, or it was too hard to roll up at all. The only time it ever left grease marks on a shirt (which washed out) was back then because the roll-on applied too thickly. I like jar storage and have had no problems traveling with it, even in hot weather.

A note: some people are sensitive to baking powder and may want to play around with the ratios. Detoxing the chemicals absorbed from antiperspirants is also a real possibility that can sometimes manifest in temporarily red or irritated skin. Give it a few days.

If you buy baking soda in bulk to use around the house, do be sure to use food-grade for this recipe. I made it once with the coarser stuff I use for cleaning, and my skin was not pleased. Otherwise, it's been fantastic. I love that three pantry ingredients are gentler, cheaper, and harder working than anything else I've tried.

I ran out of Secret in 2010 and never looked back. My outdoorsy, athletic husband uses this natural deodorant exclusively, too. What are you waiting for?

We use Tropical Traditions coconut oil, which is wonderful for cooking and healthful, too. [Referral link.] 


re-use & re-purpose: mason jars for drinking

the glassware that jim and i received when we married broke within the first two years.  we replaced our initial glasses three times and only one remains--out of nearly three dozen!  we aren't extraordinarily clumsy, and this was long before we had kids.  we weren't juggling them or throwing them against walls:  they were just ridiculously fragile and clearly not made for everyday use.

at the risk of sounding eighty years old, they just don't make things like they used to.  consumer goods are made cheaply to wear fast and be replaced.  in the spirit of stewardship, i try to repair broken things--even if it costs more-- before running out to buy another, and having to throw away poorly made products that cannot be fixed makes this green mama feel sick.  i needed a solution to this broken glass predicament than didn't involve just buying more every few years.

last summer i visited my vintage-loving sister in brooklyn and learned her secret to glassware that goes the distance:  mason jars.

image source

little ones are perfect for juice, and bigger ones make great water glasses.  they are strong, sturdy, and virtually indestructible.  jellies and sauces often come in mason jars, and you can find them at secondhand shops, supermarkets, or garden stores for less than the cost of drinking glasses.  the best part was that we already had many in the pantry because we'd decided to stop recycling glass and set it aside to re-purpose instead.  recycling is crucial way to care for creation, but since it uses a great deal of energy, re-using/re-purposing is usually the better bet.

my friend uses mason jar as travel mugs.  who needs expensive stainless steel when you can use a mason jar as your bpa-free water bottle?  i use large ones in my pantry to store bulk dry goods.  mason jars also make lovely vases, and we poke holes in the lids and use them as baking soda shakers for cleaning tasks around the house, too.

at the table,  my two year-old gets a small mason or baby food jar for water or snacks.  they are fun-sized, sturdy, and easy for little hands to grasp.

re-purposing mason jars and baby food jars breaks the broken glass consumerist cycle without resorting to chemical-leaching plastics.  there is a certain charm to drinking from an old-fashioned mason jars, and my earth-loving heart is happy again.

shared with Your Green Resource, hosted by A Delightful Home, SortaCrunchy, Live Renewed, and The Greenback Gal.



i'm guest posting a recipe today for kelly at quest for real food, so if you're in the mood for something hot, fresh, and latin, come on over.  stay a while to check out her site, all about local, healthful eating.


buyer beware

i bought a little bird oil to use on dylan's skin.

bird oil, you ask?

about that...

dylan has a patch of eczema on the back of her knee, and dry winter heat has not been kind to it (no matter how much we run that humidifier.)  what was once a tiny patch is taking over her little knee pit, and she keeps scratching it raw.  i've tried jojoba oil, aquaphor, vaseline, apricot oil, and shea butter, and while some things provide temporary relief, nothing was truly cutting it.

so, while browsing online, i came across a product called "eczema oil."  it's ingredients were kukui nut oil, emu oil, and jojoba oil.

sounded great! 

jim was there when i opened the package.

"emu oil?  like the bird?"

"nooooo...emu is a plant or something.  right?"

a little google search revealed that emu oil is, in fact, from australian emu birds.  and it's it's known to be really healing and anti-inflammatory.

the verdict?  it's awesome.  her knee looks great, and both kids' chapped winter cheeks seems to like it too.

yep, i'm putting bird oil on their little faces.

and i like it.

good thing we're not vegan;)

(this post is linked to works for me wednesday.)


how to make powdered laundry soap {natural recipe}

when i became pregnant with my first child, i began eliminating conventional cleaning products and synthetic chemicals from our home, and discovering this homemade alternative to pricey green detergents was music to the ears of this stay-at-home mama.

it's inexpensive, gentle on sensitive skin and the planet, and once you gather the ingredients, putting it together is easy.  there are only three ingredients:  borax, washing soda, and a grated bar of soap. 

borax is found on the bottom shelf in the laundry aisle of supermarkets.  there is some disagreement in the natural community about the safety of borax, but after doing research, i feel comfortable using this traditional, naturally occurring mineral salt in my home.  like many things, borax should not be inhaled and must be kept out of reach of pets and children.

washing soda is sometimes sold in the laundry aisle.  if you can't find it there, it is also called "soda ash" and stocked with pool care products or sold at hardware stores.  it can also be purchased online.  although washing soda is chemically similar to baking soda, baking soda cannot be substituted in this recipe.

you can use any bar of soap you like, as long as it isn't a "beauty bar."  fels naptha is often recommended, and using regular soap would make this recipe extraordinarily inexpensive, although you may want to be wary of using your food processor or grater on anything not completely natural.  i use dr. bronner's castile soap, in lavender and mostly followed the instructions given at healthy vegan blog.

1 bar soap, finely grated (makes ~ 1 c soap dust)
1 1/2 c borax
1 1/2 c washing soda

that's it.

store it in a lidded contained, and use 1-2 Tbsp per load.  one recipe will clean up to 64 loads.

if you're accustomed to using traditional laundry detergent, doing a load of wash with 1 Tbsp of soap sounds preposterous, but the truth is, most conventional detergents have a lot of fillers in them (as well as questionable ingredients like brighteners, enzymes, and a host of synthetic chemicals).  when we use too much soap, residues linger in clothes, which can trap odor and cause skin sensitivities.  we use 2 Tbsp on heavily soiled loads, but 1 Tbsp is sufficient for most.
using 1 Tbsp of laundry detergent wasn't that foreign to us, since that is the measurement charlie's soap calls for, too.  charlie's soap is the most recommended detergent for use with cloth diapers, which brings me to my biggest question:  could this homemade soap get diapers smelling sweet?

we've been using it for several month, and i've been really pleased:  our diapers look and smell clean.  (we also use a scoop of off-brand oxygen powder--natural and cheap!-- in every load and sometimes a little baking soda, vinegar, or biokleen bac-out.)  i appreciate the mild fragrance of essential oil instead of synthetic perfume on our clothes--especially for my kids' sensitive skin.

DIY laundry soap is a completely do-able step in "greening" your home.  the planet--and your wallet--will thank you.

UPDATE:  i'm back to using charlies soap on my cloth diapers.  after a few months, they seemed to retain odor (that even vinegar didn't eliminate), but it's still great on our clothes.

do you have a favorite green cleaning recipe?

shared with Your Green Resource, hosted by A Delightful Home, SortaCrunchy, Live Renewed, and The Greenback Gal.

how to make homemade chicken stock {plus nourishing noodle soup recipe}

around the time i read michael pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and became more interested in eating more real food and less junk, i purchased Nourishing Traditions, which is sort of the bible of the "slow food" movement.  i've yet to adopt many of the traditional practices it advocates, but i've successfully made homemade, nutrient-rich chicken stock and wanted to share the recipe.

what other recipe says "you are loved" quite as well as chicken noodle soup from scratch?

making stock from chicken bones you might otherwise throw away is old-school thrifty and really healthful. it's not just an old-wives tale that chicken soup is medicinal:  gelatin-rich stock is nutritious and aids digestion. plus, homemade stock has no MSG, preservatives, or other additives, and you can control the fat and sodium content. it's inexpensive, healthy and all-natural:  what's not to love?

Roasting Chicken:
first, i roasted a chicken (for the second time in my life.)  it was a 6 1/2 lb chicken, and i improvised.  after cleaning it and patting it down (and removing the gizzards), i stuffed it with celery stocks and a quartered onion.  using a few tablespoons of butter, i rubbed the outside and put the rest under the skin, along with a mixture of a few teaspoons (combined) of garlic, thyme and italian seasoning.  then i squeezed a lemon over it, popped half into the cavity (because the other half wouldn't fit), and let it cook at 350 for about 2 1/2 hours.  cook until the internal temperature reaches 180.

there was not really much to baste for a good long time, so finally i squeezed the other half of the lemon and popped it into the roaster alongside the chicken, and then basted occasionally.

the chicken was moist and delicious. i probably could have made a good gravy, but instead i used the drippings in my stock.  jim cleaned most of the meat from the carcass, and i put it in the fridge for soup later.

Making Stock:
as per Nourishing Traditions, i broke or cut all the bones in half, to release maximum flavor and nutrients.  (my american gladiator name isn't bonesaw for nothing;)

bones, skins and pan drippings went into my stock pot along with  
four quarts of cold water and
two teaspoons of vinegar.  i also added an  
two cloves of garlic, and
several carrots and celery stocks.  i only chopped them in few chunks since they were just there to flavor the stock.  i also added  
three bay leaves.

let it stand for 45 minutes to allow the vinegar to draw minerals from the bones. 

then, bring to a boil, skim any scum that rises (i didn't actually have any), and turn the heat down to a simmer.

this is where it gets crazy.  let it simmer for anywhere from 6-24 HOURS.  i set mine to low and let it go all night.  this stock is old-school, and flavor takes time.  it's worth it:  you won't need to add flavor (or unpronounceable ingredients) later with store-bought broth or bouillon.

in the morning (after about 12 hours), i turned it off, fished out all the solids and discarded them.  after all that time, the veggies had given up all their goodness and any remainder meat had cooked too long to be very flavorful. (remember, most of the meat was in my fridge, waiting for later.)

strain the stock through a sieve and let cool.   (i put mine out on the porch for a bit until it was cool enough to stick in the fridge--a perk of winter cooking.)

after a bit in the fridge, the fat will rise, and you can skim it off.  i was surprised at how little there was.  at this point, you can save some of your stock in jars for future soups or recipes, or you can make a delicious chicken noodle soup.  i completely improvised, and mine turned out beautifully.

Making Chicken Soup:
i cut up more 
celery, carrots, garlic and an onion.  since i was in a little time crunch, i sauteed and sweated them a bit in the pot before adding my stock back.

bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  i added a teaspoon each of garlic, 
sage, and
crushed rosemary,
2/3 tsp thyme
3 tsp parsley and

2 tsp salt.  i added another tsp later but probably could have done with less.

i boiled 2/3 of a bag of noodles (separately, so they wouldn't soak up my stock), and then added them into the soup along with my leftover chicken from the night before, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

there you have it:  lots and lots of nutritious meals made from sunday dinner leftovers, a few carrots, onions, some celery, noodles and spice.  how great is that?

we enjoyed our soup tonight with this insanely deliciously bread recipe.  oh.  my.  goodness.

i'm clearly a newbie at traditional cooking, so if anyone wants to leave a tip, i'd love to hear yours.  what are your favorite healthful foods to prepare?

shared with Your Green Resource at SortaCrunchy, The Greenbacks Gal, A Delightful Home, and Live Renewed.  images:  stock, carrots

clothesline magic

this baby is due in four days, and my house has never been so clean, between the steam mopping, dusting, organizing, and mountains of laundry washed, folded, and put away.

i'd had a small load of baby clothes that i wanted to sun on the clothesline, but it seemed like most of september and october had been cloudy. finally, this week, figuring i was running out of time, i soaked them overnight in oxygen cleaner and hoped for a sunny day in the morning.

i got my sunny day, but it was also 23 degrees. in october. but i was undeterred: this child was not going to wear clothes with old spit-up stains! i put on my boots, hat, and scarf, and took my small load out to the frosty clothesline.

it paid off! most everything was good-as-new by afternoon, and the two items that weren't quite had a least faded significantly.

sunning out stains on the clothesline is an easy, green laundry tip that definitely works for me.


easy salsa verde enchiladas

one of jim's and my favorite recipes is for these salsa verde chicken enchiladas from cooking light.  it combines a few fresh ingredients with jarred salsa, and it is delicious and super easy.

you just blend garlic, onion, and cilantro with store-bought salsa verde; that's your sauce as well as what flavors your chicken (along with cream cheese). we usually use flour tortillas instead of corn (skipping the soaking step), as well as cheddar cheese and lots more cilantro.

the last time we made it, we only had corn tortillas, leftover from baking tortilla chips, and i wanted to get it in the oven fast. you can't really roll corn tortillas without soaking them first or they break, so i improvised and made the dish into an enchilada casserole. it was simple and just as delicious. i just layered the salsa verde, tortillas, and chicken mix, topped with cheese, and popped it into the oven to bake. you can stick it under the broiler for a last minute or two if you want to brown the cheese a little and garnish it with chopped cilantro when it comes out.

do you have a favorite easy weeknight meal?

this recipe is linked to works for me wednesday.


how to treat nausea in pregnancy

when i was pregnant with dylan, i threw up nearly every day, all three trimesters, up until labor at the hospital. i spent a lot of time on the couch and kneeling over the toilet. i missed worked and received IV fluids at the hospital. it wasn't exactly my favorite.

with this pregnancy, i've not been nearly as sick, (thank you, Lord), but i still feel nauseated quite a bit. these are the things that have helped me to cope.

EAT. OFTEN. this is obvious, but eating small snacks throughout the day (and not waiting too long between meals) can alleviate nausea and sometime prevent vomiting. i handled toast, applesauce, nuts, fruit, and cheese pretty well. chocolate milk sometimes made me feel better, and i think it also helped with heartburn. sometimes just sucking on lollipops or hard candy was helpful.  the green apples suggested in the comments did indeed provide short term relief, too.

my midwife suggested taking the mild, over-the-counter sleep aid UNISOM for nausea, and it has been a lifesaver. you shouldn't take anything without clearing it first with your midwife or doctor, but it's worth asking about. Unisom has the same active ingredient as a prescription medicine that used to be prescribed for nausea in pregnancy. it was never deemed unsafe but was taken off the market when companies became wary of giving the okay for anything for pregnant or nursing woman, for fear of lawsuits.

i'll talk half a tablet during the day and a whole tablet if i feel sick at bedtime. i was able to take it at work without feeling tired, but my sister-in-law can't take it unless she is able to nap. everyone is different, but it's kept me functional, and i've been so grateful.

i think another reason i've not been so sick this pregnancy is that i'm getting MORE REST. the first time around, i was working full time, but now i try to take a nap most afternoons when dylan does. if you can't get a nap, try going to bed a little earlier. i think more sleep really does make a difference in curbing pregnancy-related nausea.

my sister-in-law added one more weapon in my anti-nausea arsenal: a bottle of essential oils, including basil, lavender, and peppermint. she got it from a masseuse, along with instructions that she have her husband rub her feet with it every night. essential oils are known to have natural, medicinal benefits (but do your research--not all are suitable for pregnancy).

christie swears by this oil and saw a radical reduction in her pregnancy sickness. i haven't noticed quite as big a difference, but i'm all for an excuse to have my husband rub my tired feet after long, hot days of chasing a toddler and carrying around extra pregnancy weight:)

i've since heard great things about B6 VITAMINS (especially in conjunction with Unisom), PAPAYA ENZYME TABLETS, and GINGER.

i was prescribed Zofran after an afternoon of IV fluids at the hospital, and it worked wonders...until the side effects kicked in.  The work I missed dealing with those effects was infinitely more unpleasant than the near-constant vomiting, so i offer that as a caution.  Of course, all bodies react differently.

Feeling healthy and strong while pregnant works for me.  If you have any other tips that helped you curb pregnancy nausea, we'd love to hear them in the comments.


first fruits {chimichurri recipe}

tonight jim made chimichurri with the first parsley and cilantro from our garden. chimichurri is a zesty herb sauce that is delicious on grilled chicken, steak, or veggies, as well as with bread and cheese, chips, eggs, and pretty much anything you can imagine.  nom nom.

here is the recipe, approximately:

Chimichurri Sauce
3/4 c packed parsley
3/4 c packed cilantro
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c white wine vinegar
4 chopped garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 lemon, squeezed
3/4 tsp crushed dried red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

combine everything in the blender.  it's easy, fresh, and tastes just like summer:)


on hoarking, horses, and whole wheat pita

since this pregnancy, i seem to have lost my blogging rhythm. i've been getting sick, too--not as bad as with dylan, but it seems like i should be feeling better here in my 19th week.

it's been rainy and a little chilly, so dylan and i have been dividing out time mostly between the house, the barn, and having meals up at camp. the barn is definitely where dylan prefers to spend all her time. she can call most of the horses by name, loves to pet them, and isn't afraid in the least. she even got to sit up on one last week. dylan is an animal lover, to be sure. as soon as she wakes up in the morning or from a nap, dylan starts talking about the horses and the barn and asking to go visit.

(lionel richie is singing "dancing on the ceiling" on the view as a type, bringing back all sorts of memories of exuberant dancing around my living room to this tape, circa about 1987. oh yeah.)

i wanted to post the link to the recipe for the whole wheat pitas i tried out not too long ago. when the grocery store wanted something like 5 dollars for a tiny package of maybe four rounds, i decided to go the homemade route, considering i don't usually by a loaf of bread unless it's on sale for $2 or less.

the pitas were delicious and fairly easy, although a little time consuming, since you must let the dough rise a bit and you bake just two rounds at a time. still, it's easy, super-cheap, and totally worthwhile. (i think i used about half white flour and half whole wheat.)

i made them to go alongside middle eastern meatballs. those were just ok, so i won't post that recipe, but i did make a dipping sauce that was delicious--simply whole milk yogurt, fresh garlic, cumin, salt, and chopped parsley. mmmmmm:)

i'll definitely be making pita and yogurt sauce again.


how to make your own infused vodka

back in february, we had an oscar party that i never posted about it, because i was lame and didn't take pictures. you'll just have to take my word that much fun was had. for the occasion, i infused vodka for cocktails. of course, i found out i was pregnant that same day, so i didn't get to imbibe, and the pretty pink bottle still lingers in our fridge, taunting me. someday, i won't be pregnant or breastfeeding and can enjoy a drink again!

in the meantime, here is the recipe for this deliciously simple vodka infusion so you, too, can make your own tasty signature drink for parties or gifts.

Cranberry-Orange Vodka (from michael chiarello)

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 oranges, peels cut into 2-inch strips
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka (inexpensive stuff is perfect)

Place cranberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and stir. Simmer cranberry mixture until the berries burst, about 5 to 6 minutes. (in my experience, this takes a bit longer.)

Place orange peels in a large glass container with an airtight lid or large mason jars with lids. (you can buy a giant mason jar for this purpose at michael's.)

Pour vodka over the orange peels.

Allow the cranberry mixture to cool. Pour the cooled mixture into the glass container. Cover tightly and set aside for 1 week. After 1 week, strain out the cranberries sand orange peels and pour mixture into a clean bottle, using a funnel. (if you strain it a second time through a sieve and a paper towel, it will become totally clear.)

Store vodka in the refrigerator.

To serve: Pour 2 ounces of vodka mixture over ice in a tall glass and top with tonic water. Garnish with a slice of lime. (jim drinks it with orange juice as well.)

we gave a pretty bottle of it as a party favor, and i've also made it for christmas gifts. homemade liqueur--how fun is that? next i'd like to try limoncello or kahlua:)


Babies R Us Accepts BPA Bottle Returns

BPA (or Bisphenol A), found in most baby bottles not made in the very recent past, is an endocrine disruptor that mimics human hormones and has been linked in studies to alarming health concerns. BPA can leech into breast milk or formula when heated, which is why many stores have pulled baby bottles with BPA from shelves and why more producers are making BPA-free bottles. Unfortunately, "heated"also includes in the dishwasher, so even if you haven't microwaved your baby bottles, they still could be leeching chemicals.

So what's a mom to do with her older BPA bottles?

The good news is many Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores are accepting returns on old Avent bottles without receipt. Each store makes its own individual policy, so you'll need to contact your particular store to find out.

At my local Toys R Us, I brought back nine Avent bottles, in 4 and 9oz sizes. I kept the nipples (which are made of silicone and have no BPA), and they didn't mind. They gave me credit for three 3-packs and issued me $24.99 in store credit, which I exchanged for a baby gate and an outlet/cord cover.

I was pretty satisfied, until I realized that buying nine more BPA-free Avent bottles, (which I anticipate doing in the future) will set me back NINETY BUCKS plus tax! Keeping that in mind, if your store offers an even exchange of your old BPA bottles for BPA-free ones, that's obviously a better deal than store credit on the price of your old bottles.

Getting money back for questionable BPA bottles works for me.

how to unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar

Anyone who has ever showered in standing water knows that a clogged drain is a mess and a headache. I wondered, could I ditch the toxic chemicals and still get the job done? I am happy to report that I found one simple, natural, inexpensive and effective solution that will have you dropping Drano, too, in favor of something safer for your home and our earth.

Pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar into the drain.

Let it foam and fizz for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water into your sink or tub.

That's it.

Sometimes you need to repeat the process a few times for a persistent clog, but it works. We've been using baking soda and vinegar on drains with good results for years.
[If your drain is clogged from hair, you're probably going to want another tool in your arsenal: a plastic drain snake, (like the Cobra Zip-It), is available at hardware stores for until three bucks. Magic, I tell you.]
It's a good idea to flush drains periodically as a preventative measure. Septic systems should never be exposed to whatever toxic sludge they put in industrial-strength drain products, but honestly, no one else should either.

We use a lot of baking soda around the house, but it can be tricky to find in bulk sometimes. We get ours at a farm/feed store.  Just don't go calling it baking soda.  It's sold there as sodium bicarbonate, and they look at you like, "Aren't you pretty?" if you ask for baking soda.

We get 50 lbs for $12.99 and use if for myriad tasks around the house--in in the laundry, scouring sinks and stoves, freshening carpets and cushions, deodorizing diaper pails, and in homemade deodorant, too.

How do you use baking soda around the house?

Shared with Your Green Resource, hosted by A Delightful HomeSortaCrunchyLive Renewed, and The Greenback Gal


the paper trail: eliminating paper towel waste

back in september our family took on a two month challenge proposed by amy over at crunchy domestic goddess to "ditch the disposables." we picked to eliminate paper towels, and four-plus months later, we haven't looked back.

it's much easier than i would have thought. we use kitchen towels, washcloths, and a few chamois for drying hands, wiping spills, and washing baby faces and high chairs. we already had a rag bag in the bathroom where stained shirts and old towels went to experience new life, and we keep those separate for "icky" tasks like cleaning the bathroom.

i toss used cloths in a hamper by the washer, and if a rag was used in the bathroom, i'll often wash it with dylan's diapers. we still have one roll of paper towels leftover from the summer, and i do pull that out occasionally for pet-related cleaning.

we haven't switched completely over to cloth napkins, since we still have a bunch of paper, but that is a goal this new year. honestly, i don't see myself giving up tissues, but i do try to use cloth wipes or burp cloths when wiping dylan's nose.

eliminating paper towels is saving us money and curbing our household waste, and it's not even that difficult a change to make.

for more thrifty green thursday offerings, head over to the green baby guide.


the book dealer: how to make money on

this morning i opened my email and got this felicitous message: "You've made a sale--Please ship your item."

i'm not auctioning anything on ebay; this is even easier. i posted books for sale at, and every now and then, (especially at the start of a new college semester), someone orders one and i ship it out. to post a book, all you need to do is type in the ISBN number, and the title, picture, edition, along with what it is selling for all come up automatically, and you can decide what price you will sell yours for. (if the market is flooded and other copies of my book are selling too cheaply, i'll usually elect to either keep my copy or give it away.)

i make the most money on the paperbacks i read as a religion/history major back in college. i graduated almost seven years ago, so textbooks would be obsolete, but these clearly are still being assigned. i've sold non-academic books, too.

i ship the books via Media Mail, and even the postage is reimbursed. (the shipping allowance is $2.64 for paperbacks and $3.07 for hardbacks, and you can also sell cds, dvds and games.) the money gets deposited into my bank account once a month.

making money selling books on works for me.
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