Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New changes, last time!

Hello friends!

Sprout is moving, and changing...

Please continue to follow me here, as I turn the page from food, to food and family.

Some call me momo,

So here it is, the new momo miles, still a wee bit under construction.

Besides, I've been hacked my kid (ie Katie, her cyber name) who's taken over just about every part of my life (in the best way possible, most of the time!). But it's time to reclaim some me space...

I hope you're curious and join me!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

estellelle: inspire: moni

estellelle: inspire: moni

I am a little giddy at the thought of sharing this link with you! I hope you take a few moments to read and enjoy. It's humbling and yet inspiring and somewhat validating to read a little something about yourself, my hope is you treasure the beauty of YOU whilst reading about the simplicity of me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Order Living

Growing up in Europe exposed me to many different cultures, history that is thousands of years in age, the beauty of landscapes and architecture like no other. When I moved to Canada over 15 years ago, I immediately fell in love with the people, their warm welcoming ways, the possibilities for anyone wanting to lay a hold of them. And who can beat jaw dropping clearance sales? Yet there was something missing... I grieved the richness of Europe, and I missed little things, like admiring homes with rather short front doors, a building date of over 800 years past above it. It's taken me years to allow myself to discover Canada, to learn about it's youthful beauty, it's multicultural diversity, all scrambled into one big pot. Today, I love this country, even it's winters, with snow so high you can't help but get out into it. I love that we are so welcoming, I love that we have freedom to raise our kids just the way we feel is best.

Summer day trips in Europe are still amongst my favourite childhood memories. The steep Swiss mountains with it's clean, crisp valley lakes. Not far from these same mountains, cafes in bustling cities. Riding street trams for shopping expeditions, visiting museums, and my favourite, old castles, some in ruins, many perfectly restored. Now that my own girls are at prime day tripping ages, we have taken full advantage of this, every free Summer day, we are on our way, discovering and loving this country, Canada.

One lasting favourite is St. Jacobs, Ontario, where Old Order Mennonites live as they did many years ago. A personal Mennonite heritage on my father's side sparks additional interest, one can't help but feel curious about these plain, simple folk. Aren't you? Is your first impression one of admiration, or do you wonder why they would live such deprived lives?

I have had to assure my husband on many an occasion, I would not attempt to reform to an Old Order, still I can't help but feel fascinated by these people's priorities, and how they are amongst the healthiest and most satisfied in the country. While I can't imagine a life of plain dress, no cars, or the comfort of electricity, I admire with all my heart their love for community. So I ask myself, why are they amongst the healthiest in our large country? Theirs is a life without daily trips to the gym or grocery stores filled with quickly accessible fancy health foods - to me, it's proof in the pudding that all these new health craze studies, all that fancy gym equipment, might not be what we should be striving for. So what do Mennonites do differently? They work physical jobs and they are loyal to family and community. They even take Sundays off, no questions asked. Could it be that simple? That, plain? Can we take some of their ways of life and incorporate them into our modern ways, creating a New Order of living? Should we prioritise community over our careers, just one day out of seven? Can it profit us all, even studio apartment dwellers in high rises, to get our hands a bit dirty, to learn about our land while we work it and profit much more than a few home grown vegetables and herbs? And rather than spending money at restaurants, might it be wiser to gather in people's homes after Sunday worship, filling long tables with a Thanksgiving-worthy feast through combined effort, every week? When our neighbours are in need, are we the first to drop everything, and gather others to help where we can?

I hope your heart warms when you think of community, as does mine. Open your homes, your hands, your resources.

And buy your boys straw hats, your girls cute bonnets. Pinching cute cheeks may just out last that fleeting baby stage.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hell-O Jell-O!?

I hope you are one of us crazies who read package ingredient lists, especially when it comes to childhood essential treats, cringes, and, with a disgusted to the gut feeling, puts the product back on the shelf.

I have been called upon the "depriving" I have inflicted upon my children of many foods that no child should do without. And yes, my kids beg for the stuff. But they have become experts at reading labels and we most often end up in the produce aisle rather than the boxed kind. They don't seem to mind a bit once they are informed!

When immigrants passed through Ellis Island many a moon ago, they were often served Jell-O as a "welcome to America" treat. Making the stuff essential to our food culture, even in my mind (and my belly). But there is no need to buy those little boxes basically made up of artificial flavour and food coloring. Why should these be part of a complete childhood? Research is not lacking in evidence of the horrific things these have done to it's eaters.

I have happy news!!


Wiggly Jiggly Fruity Cups

Serves 8

1 liter clear juice (meaning texture, not color), like grape, cranberry, apple, 100% juice - not sweetened "fruit" cocktails

2 pkgs. Knox Gelatin, or enough of your brand to set 1 liter, or 4 cups, of liquid

2 tbsp superfine sugar (optional)

assorted fruits, with the exception of pineapple, which hinders gelatin of doing it's job

Measure out 1 liter of juice. Pour 750 ml into a medium saucepan. Stir the gelatin into the remaining 250 ml, let it absorb in the juice for 5 minutes.

If using, add the 2 tbsp superfine sugar to the juice in the saucepan. Bring up to a gentle boil, stirring, to melt the sugar. Now carefully pour the hot juice into the gelatin mixture. Stir to combine, then pour into individual serving cups.

Refrigerate until just about set, 1 1/2 hours, add chopped fruit, and allow to set until firm about another half hour.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I dare you

It's no secret - our family's dream is a move out to the country, build our dream house in the midst of tall trees (which is far from a mansion, but a humble home, using creativity and simple materials, not high end expensive finishes - a house should feel like home, after all), grow fruit and vegetables to feed a crowd, swing in hammocks while reading good books, finishing days with guitars and bon fires and friends. Most of us have dreams, too many of us never dare to pursue them. As I watch my children grow, and their eyes light up whilst doing things they love, when we have that typical grown-up to child conversation about what to become one day, it brings joy to my heart when they have big dreams, when they don't say silly things like, "well, that would be nice, but that's impossible, so I won't dare try". I wonder if God sees dreams passed over, dreams let go by us, the same way I do when I see a child's can't do outlook? Dreams usually have purpose, and when they are beautiful dreams, they extend past ourselves and include those around us, often many more, people we may never know. So please, allow yourself to follow your dream, don't be too humble to brush God off, thinking it's not for you. He's in the dream business, His dreams came true when He created you.

Allowing myself to take the time to learn to cook, without being so hard on myself when I fail, has been a dream for me. I want my legacy to be memory evoking recipes left behind to generations after me, for people to enjoy them and to smile and perhaps shed a few little tears, when they remember the times we spent around the kitchen island. I refuse to let anything stand in it's way.

Still there is something to be said about efficient cooking, so more time can be spent sitting together, enjoying each other's stories and thoughts. During cold winters, we love spending time near the oven, it keeps us warm(er), and the beautiful aromas evoke comfort in so many ways. Summers are short, cooking outdoors a special treat, and I do embrace it any chance I get. This dinner is a perfect example of this, the house remains cool, and post-cooking wash up is sparse.

I started with skinless, boneless chicken thighs, about 2 per person (plus extra for lunch the next day, or course). I grabbed a large bowl, and combined these seasonings in it:

2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp turbinado or brown sugar

1 tsp coarse kosher salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 - 3 tbsp olive oil

Pat your chicken dry, then add it to the bowl, using your hands, coat with the seasoning rub. Set aside.

Now, grab a large head of broccoli, cut it into medium florets. Using a large length of aluminum foil, make a pouch for the broccoli by laying it in a 2 inch line in down the center. Crimp both ends of the foil to make a pouch, but leave the top open. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Time to heat the BBQ to high.

Meanwhile, scrub 4 russet potatoes, then place in the microwave (yes, I know... but do you really want the oven on for an hour right now??!), and cook on high for about 15 minutes. Check for doneness, adjust cooking time if necessary.

When the BBQ is good and hot, place the broccoli pouch on one end, and the chicken, presentation side down first, on the other. Turn the BBQ to medium. The broccoli (which I love cooked rather than raw but with a good crunch left in it) and chicken will be ready in about the same time, roughly 10 - 15 minutes. Turn the chicken as little as possible. I like to cook it about 3/4 of the way on one side, then almost to done on the second. At this time I add my favourite BBQ sauce to both sides and let it caramelize, turning it once or twice.

A few chives snipped from the garden, chopped and stirred into thick sour cream with a little salt and pepper completes the dish. (By the way, read your ingredients even on basic foods like sour cream, you might be surprise what you find. I only buy Western sour cream, it's entirely natural and tastes so much better for it.)

Voila - dinner is ready, just 20 minutes later, and the kitchen is still refreshingly cool.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Slow life revolution

"Today's online services turn friendship into fast food -- wrapping everyone in a "friend" paper -- and sharing really suffers". (foxnews)

Stop for a minute and think about that. Are we feeling more connected? Perhaps. Do we have conversations with friends over dinner, interesting topics abruptly ending with, "yup, saw it on facebook". Do we visit people less, since we've "visited" with them online? Guilty, I am. Lately I questioned myself repeatedly, are my friendships becoming deeper, or, not at all? Is there value in daily virtual chats, or will I enjoy face to face visits all the more, even if they are less in quantity, but more in quality? My intentions are not to start an anti-facebook revolution, it's a life change I am embracing, and in doing so, I have noticed just how much facebook has taken over my social activities. I worried for a several days about losing touch with past friends found, about missing out on saying a quick hello to every day friends, about seeing photos and keeping up to date. Now I am certain, keeping in touch will continue with those truly apart of my life, I may just pick up the phone more often and hear my friend's voices, photos might become more precious again when sent by snail mail. Instead of missing out, I will learn to appreciate once again. I think that's what I've missed.

My thoughts on food are not far off, cooking from scratch with time invested elevates the most basic of all foods to a level where fine dining can't touch it. If you don't understand what it means for there to be love in your food, then you need to make a point of finding out. It's not something that can be explained, but something that needs to be discovered. If I am going to start any sort of revolution, that would be it. Value the simple. The every day. And find satisfaction in an entirely new way, which has nothing to do with success or money.

Try this marinara, it's slow cooking process, resulting in a depth of flavour that is pure bliss, not to be forgotten any time soon.


Roasted Vegetable Marinara

4 large, ripe tomatoes
1 large red pepper, quartered, seeds removed
1 head of garlic

olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush tomatoes, red pepper, and garlic head with olive oil and place in a shallow baking dish. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove vegetables from the oven, set them aside to cool slightly.
Peel tomatoes and red pepper by pulling the skins off with your hands. Squeeze the garlic out of it's shell. Place vegetables in a food processor with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and pulse until almost smooth, leaving some texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook your choice of pasta in salted water until al dente, drain but do not rinse, place back in pot. Add marinara and cook until heated through.

Try it with turkey meatballs and a little cheese, but it's pretty devine all on it's own.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Perfectly crisp, through and through

Being of the health food eating kind, never craving junk food, I do have one exception, you probably do too - fries. It's not just the kids with this one, mom and dad have cravings just the same! Having home fries is, sadly, never the same, we miss out on those gorgeous crunchy outsides. Home fries certainly are not a substitute, they are, in my opinion, an entirely different food.
Then comes an a-ha moment... while watching Food TV with my very interested 7 year old daughter, who replaced mindless kid's shows with Discovery Channel and Food Network (my heart gets all fuzzy and warm thinking of this).
I've made home fries countless times. I've read many a recipe. None share these easy, vital steps that make ALL the difference. Are you ready for this? It's simpler than you might think... (seems all things in simple form somehow come out on top, doesn't it?) Here it goes:
After cutting scrubbed but unpeeled Russet potatoes into even sized wedges, put them into a bowl of cold water, drain and rinse, repeating until the water goes from milky to clear. You have now washed off excess starch. Step two: place the wedges on a clean dish towel, and dry thoroughly.
That's it.

Place the wedges in a dry bowl, drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over them, about 1 for every large Russet potato. Add a few pinches of sweet paprika, kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss to coat the wedges evenly. Put them on parchment lined cookie sheets, spread apart so steam can evaporate, rather than make the wedges soft. Bake in a 425 F oven for about 40 minutes, until tender inside and crispy outside. I use two cookie sheets since I make a huge amount for my fry loving family, rotating them top to bottom halfway through the cooking time.

Remove from the oven and hit them with a little steak spice to kick it up a notch, or coarse salt if you prefer.

And when bikini season comes to a close, I figure we'll dress the fries up a bit, piling them high in a round casserole dish, adding a good covering of Monterey Jack cheese and bacon bits, then melting the cheese under the broiler for a minute or two. Pretty it up with chopped green onions - all males in your house will love you just a bit more that day!

Inspired by Chuck Hughes

Thursday, June 16, 2011

From the inside out - the anti diet

I don't believe in diets, and yet I do watch what I eat a whole lot more this time of year than any other, with just two rules: avoid sugar as much as possible, and eat vegetables more than usual with every meal (snacks included). And since we don't eat processed or premade foods, I think that's enough effort. This quote pretty much sums it up, "Don't focus on the growth of something ... focus on it's health! Healthy things grow!" Eat right, feel right.

No time to cook? Try this one on for size: snow peas and onions are flash heated and left perfectly crisp by draining pasta over them right in the strainer. Add in fresh, ripe tomatoes, a bunch of herbs, some garlic and a hint of cheese, your dinner is ready in 15 minutes. You could even barbecue chicken in the same time by pounding chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap until 1/4 inch thick, seasoning with salt and pepper, and brushing with good for you olive oil. Barbecue on medium heat for about 12 - 15 minutes. I bet waiting for pizza delivery would leave your belly hungry for a whole lot longer!

Print Me

Spring Garden Pasta
Serves 4 - 6

1 lb dried shell pasta
2 cups snow peas, trimmed and cut in half
2 cups ripe grape tomatoes, any variety
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

herb pesto:
2 cups fresh herbs, like basil or parsley, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 - 1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan OR 1 cup grated Mozzarella

Cook pasta until tender.
Meanwhile, place trimmed, halved snow peas and sliced red onion in a colander set in the sink for draining the pasta.
Make the pesto by pulsing the garlic and salt in a blender, then add herbs, olive oil, pepper and Parmesan (if using Mozzarella, don't add to the blender, but stir into pasta when ready). Pulse again until combined. If you have a proper chefs knife, you can skip the blender by chopping your herbs and garlic super fine, and stirring into olive oil, then adding cheese.
When pasta is tender (but not mushy), drain right over the vegetables in the colander. Do not rinse. Pour pasta and veggies into a large bowl, add pesto, cheese and tomatoes, toss to combine. Serve with additional cheese if you so desire.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When your garden's bounty is herbs...

It's Spring.
It's hot.
It's almost Summer.
I love it.
Because I love the BBQ.
And herbs.


The Herby Turkey
Serves 4 - 6

Foccacia buns or slab, cut into burger size squares, sliced

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 - 2 shallots, finely minced
a good handful finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

about 10 sage leaves, finely chopped
one parsley sprig, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

to cook:
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder


To make the herby pesto, place garlic and salt in a blender. Pulse for a few seconds. Add almonds, pulse again. Add everything else and pulse just enough to combine. Done!

Fire up the BBQ on high, get it good and hot. To make the herby turkey patties, mix your patty ingredients with the turkey, only until just combined. The more you mix, the tougher the end result. Oh, and use your hands, they are your best tool. Shape into 4 - 6 even patties.

Stir 1/2 tsp garlic powder into some olive oil, and using a pastry brush, coat both sides of each patty.

Turn the BBQ down to medium, gently place the patties about 2 inches apart on the grill. Now leave them alone for 6 - 7 minutes (use a timer!), then flip, only once, never more, and cook another 5 - 8 minutes, or until firm to touch.

Quickly toast foccacia on the BBQ, then spread the bottom half of each with a little mayo. Add a patty, spoon a little pesto on it and finish with the top half of the foccacia. Serve with a simple tomato salad.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Are you keeping a weekly menu?

I know I am a bit of an odd-ball, but I will never be ashamed of telling you how much I enjoy sitting down with my menu journal, a good pen and note paper for the shopping list, plus a few cookbooks, to write a weekly menu. It's probably as relaxing to me as a bubble bath would be to others (I despise long, quiet - boring - baths, so much so that I whenever we get around to building our dream home, I am not planning for one in my master bath - give me a good size walk in shower with a decent shower head any day!).

In general, here are a few menu writing guidelines I have developed over the years:

Meals are planned around vegetables, rather than meat or even grains.
I plan for two meat dishes a week, and probably one fish every two weeks.
I never do more than one kind of starch a week, for example I wouldn't plan for more than one pasta, rice, or potato dish.
I add "cheater meals", like the roast potatoes and omelet this week, from extras already in the pantry, to stretch out the menu week and also give myself some fast, no-fail dinners. This often includes fruit salad, waffles, and sunny eggs. Or pasta either handmade stored in the freezer or dried in a package, with a quick homemade marinara.
I add snacks that need to be made, this week I am making another batch of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus for our veggies. Other weeks I make muffins, cookies, or even a banana sorbet.
If I am not cooking from memory, I always add the cookbook title and page number for quick reference.
When I am short on time or imagination, I can look back in my journal for menu ideas from weeks past. Although this is a rare occasion!

What are your menu writing strategies?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Singing a song, come sing along

Dare I say, it's just about Summer?! The girls spent the day in their bathing suits, which greatly distracted them from helping me plant a few long awaited herbs and two very different varieties of tomatoes. I chose "Sun Golds", for their small size and sweet, lush flavour. And "Carbon" tomatoes, with a promise for large, almost-black beefsteak tomatoes. My mouth waters as I think of crunching on the little guys and drizzling olive oil on the big'ns. I purchased my herbs and tomatoes from a young couple that runs Creekshore Farms
opting to support a local organic farm instead of a big box operation. Assuming I am acclimatized to the cold Canadian weather which delights us almost year round, I was sweating bullets after an just an hours worth of gardening, and so a second shower was much called for, after which time dinner was much requested.

Turning on any hot appliance in the kitchen was the last thing on my mind. Instead I grabbed two cups of cooked chick peas from the fridge and went to work. (There are several foods I keep ready to grab and enjoy at all times - one of which is a large amount of chick peas, soaked one night and cooked the next morning - another is avocados, lime and cilantro, and a very large veggie tray, this being my favourite as our family vegetable consumption has skyrocketed since I began doing so.)

For any of you who have suffered from any kind of digestive issues, you know the happy dance we jiggy up when a dinner goes down and easily transforms into whatever it may be purposed to do in our bodies, rather than bringing with it side effects too unpleasant to speak of.

Today I broke out into song.

Sing with me if you will, or are alone in the room...
I feel good, danananana... I knew that I would now! So good, so good! I've got FOOD!
It truly is rare that I feel perfect after any given meal, but this one was a winner. I chowed down two of these wraps, felt full but not pregnant, energized not from a sugar rush.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Sprout Dinner Wraps


2 cups freshly cooked from dry and cooled chick peas

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained if using canned

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp sesame tahini

1 garlic clove

1/2 - 1 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Place the garlic clove and salt in a food processor or blender, pulse to chop garlic. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

For each wrap:

8 inch flour tortilla

diced cucumber and plum tomato

a handful of fresh sprouts

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

a drizzle of olive oil, if you're an addict as I am

Prepare your wrap by spreading hummus on a tortilla, leaving a one inch border. Add cucumber and tomato dice down the centre, top with sprouts. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Fold up one side of the wrap, then two sides towards the centre. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Back Burner

There are seasons in life when new chapters begin, and others are put aside, neatly, on a burner, in the back, which is hardly visited at first, with hopes of renewed time in the days to come. Our family has started one of these chapters, we have transitioned into home schooling. Over whelmed at the thought of taking such responsibility on at first, I now see it as a very natural extension of my parental privileges. I secretly wait for a moment of panic, for stress to settle in, but for some reason, educating my children at home simply works.

I am often asked about the "whys" and "hows" of home educating. I can tell you of negative experiences at public school, or perhaps harried schedules, but in the end, it's the possibilities I am after. The unity it creates in our family, the real life learning there is so much more time for.

We've spent afternoons fishing with cousins.

We've read in the sun. On comfy chairs. With a pretty darn cuddly class pet close by.

We've cooked a whole bunch, too. In a matter of days, the girls are cooking me eggs for breakfast and quesadillas for lunch.

As for dinners, well, it's been the perfect time to pull out family favourites, leaving culinary explorations on the back burner.

Here's an example of what's on the menu.

Whole roasted organic herbed chicken, probably with a garden salad or some sort of vegetable dish.

Baked potatoes stuffed with all sorts of enticing things, like steamed broccoli and a homemade cheese sauce. An omelet might be on the side.

Homemade refried beans, Spanish rice, guacamole and a crisp salad has quickly become a number one choice.

I love to make fresh pasta lasagna, entirely from scratch right down to the marinara. Oh, and I make a bechamel rather than using ricotta or cottage cheese. Mmmmm. Left overs are the best, so I make a good amount.

Chicken souvlaki, Greek salad and roasted potatoes is a staple, too. I make tzatziki with fresh ingredients. I can't get enough of this!

Soup. Nuff said.

Some days we eat pancakes and fruit... as in any busy home!

What are your family favourites?


Spanish Rice

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

1 1/2 cups Time Wise brown rice, or Basmati rice, if you prefer white rice

2 1/2 cups quality chicken stock

1/2 tomato salsa, any heat level (I do love the hot stuff!)

1/4 tsp salt

Heat a saute pan (if you have a lid for it, if not use a large stock pot) over medium heat. Add the oil, then the shallot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once in a while to prevent browning. Add the rice, toast it in the oil for about a minute, then pour over the chicken stock and salsa, season with a little salt. Close the lid, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Cook until done, about 15 - 20 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, then serve.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are we that thoughtless?

Mark Bittman on what's wrong with what we eat Video on

I came across this video, I would love to share it with you, I would love for us to see the big picture together. Would you take 20 minutes out of your day and allow this information to make small changes in the choices you make?

Check out his inspiring blog HERE. matters, because you matter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Neat Sweet Treat

Let's talk sugar subsitutes.

Many options are readily available in just about every grocery store these days. Once faced with chemical, albeit zero calorie, harmful replacements, a demand for natural food has brought to light many products which are not only sweet, but also nutritious. The best of both worlds? I think so! Diabetics have options too, not as many, I know, but for now I am speaking from a nutrition point of view only. And calories? My opinion is eat whole and healthfully, you'll be fuller longer and have less cravings, staying thin in the process.

Where chemical sweeteners like aspartame cause many horrible illnesses, like cancer, brown rice syrup can be used in all baking and brings low glycemic, high nutrient sweetness to your foods. When treats become a part of nutritious eating, we can enjoy them, without guilt, possibly for the first time!

Brown rice syrup is a good source of magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron and the B-group vitamins. Add organic brown rice cereal (fiber), 70% dark chocolate (antioxidants), and nuts (protein), you've got yourself an all around gorgeous dessert packed with all the right stuff


Brown Rice Crisp Treats

Makes 16 squares

1/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup organic brown rice syrup

1 tsp real vanilla syrup

3 cups organic crisped brown rice cereal

7 oz best quality 70% dark chocolate

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Prepare a double boiler by setting a glass or stainless steele bowl over a simmering pot of water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water and that no water gets into the bowl (steam or drops). Put the brown rice syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla into the bowl, stirring over the heat until evenly incorporated. Remove from double boiler, cool for one minute, then add in the brown rice cereal. Mix thoroughly.

Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan, lightly press the rice mixture evenly into the pan.

Set another bowl over the simmering pot, add the dark chocolate, gently melt, then add the butter. Pour over rice and quickly spread to cover the top of the rice.

Set in the fridge for about 1 1/2 hours, then cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Store in the fridge for up to two days.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Making it through the Winter months flu-less is an accomplishment. Getting a bad head cold and vicious cough right at the break of Spring is down right ironic. Yet here I sit, I have no appetite, instead I cough, sneeze and hold cold fingers to my aching forehead. Cooking my father-in-law's birthday dinner was tricky, without a sense of smell.

Allow me to take you on a journey my girls and I had theprivilege of enjoying just yesterday. The absence of food is intentional, I simply can not think food at this time. Visiting with farm animals is always a great joy to my girls, visiting with ones that are literally hours old would be out of this world exiting for anybody. New friends Sue and her daughter Vanessa milk these ladies by hand every day, they sell this milk and also fresh goats cheese. I find myself with a million questions, but I hold back, as today we will enjoy the moment of new life.

Goats have big personalities, it surprised even me, so far I've judged them by their cover - a beautiful one, with big eyes, and baa's which bring out chuckles in even the most sophisticated city dweller. The white goat is their main milker, she produces 1 1/2 of rich milk every day. She also fits into the crowd, as though she was one us, or perhaps our family dog, hoping to catch a glimpse of three dark baby boys, perfect and hardly wobbly as they make their way to mama. Mama, gently guiding the babies with her horns, she was as nurturing as any new mom might be. Add to the mix a one month old, fluffy, white lamb named Dolly, mischievously toddler-like, playful and not the least bit shy. It was picture perfect. And I forgot about the discomfort of my aching body momentarily.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Veggie gardening confidence boost, I assure you!

I'm a sandwich gal. A lot of good stuff can be fit between two slices of soft bread. And since I ended up with far too many sprouts for our small family, I gave a bunch away, then packed as much as I could into my Brie, Tomato, Sprout and Dijon sandwich. Next time I will start with about 1/4 cup of seeds, rather than half. I wonder, too, if staggering growth between the three tiers is a smart idea. That way we could enjoy a steady fresh supply of sprouts every four days or so. I can add sprouts to any sandwich, salad, or even dress up a pasta dish or BBQ steak, they are versatile, full of nutrition, and so could find a spot on many of our plates. Try marinated and grilled whole portabello mushrooms with roasted red peppers and sprouts on flax bread. If you like goat cheese, and a bit of that. Lunch doesn't need to be peanut butter and jelly anymore. Try sprouts! Tiered sprouters like the biosnacky can be found at health food stores or online. But a mason jar and some cheese cloth will get you started immediately - simple directions here.





If I can grow sprouts, anyone can. My kids think I'm pretty neat.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


There are some prayers I pray very quietly, skipping words altogether, and only thinking the rest. These are prayers I know God hears (when does He ever not hear our prayers?!), ones He loves, ones I pray often yet appreciate only much, much later. They are prayers of growth, heart searching ones, lamps shining into the utmost corners of our hearts. My faith is huge when I pray these, I know God hears me even though a little bit of me wishes he'd choose to ignore as I am well aware that He's not going to send change by dropping it in my lap, but by sending me a situation, I am sure you know what I mean. If only I had this kind of faith when I am praying other prayers, ones for healing, direction, and wisdom.

Let me take you back a few weeks.
The day before we were due to leave for a sun-filled, bone-warming March Break family vacation, following three days of intense rainfall and snow melting, our worn out roof decided to give up life and leak, right into the master bedroom.

Let me take you about a year back.
We finally paid off debt, we were free, we never wanted to get back into such drudgery. For a year we lived comfortably, mostly playing catch up. A couple of months ago we finally arrived at a stage in life where we could begin saving. Saving for a roof, saving for future education, for retirement.
The roof to leak at this time, was simply put, bad timing. A year from now would have been much more convenient. But it wouldn't be so, thank GOD we have Him to turn to. My husband and I both put worries aside, deciding to do what we could, and expect God to pick up from there. We arranged for large, water sealing tarps, we checked into home insurance, and lined a slurry of contractors to give us repair quotes. I'd like to say God put a check in the mail to pay this horrific bill, but it would not be so. He must be up to something much grander.

Then today happens. Mountains of laundry awaited me, for the second day in a row, after an unfortunate head lice incident my daughters brought home from school. I was just about to tackle the last two loads when my washer stopped working.

I immediately went to God, after informing my husband, who didn't seem as discouraged as myself. Doubt and an issue with trust arose from the depth of my heart, and was brought to light. I felt angry, I wondered where in the world God was, why, with a roof needing repair, He would allow another repair or, worse, a large purchase to enter our lives. I tried calming myself, I continued to clean, I read a good book, then I decided to pray the unthinkable - "You fix the machine, God!"

I'd like to say He did. And I can.. After a few failed start up attempts during my angry moments with God, red lights faintly flickering but losing energy quicker than a pregnant woman walking up a flight of stairs, I gave the machine another shot, turning knobs in all directions (no, I did not hit or bang on the top of the machine, we all know this doesn't work!), slowly, suddenly, life began sputtering back into the machine. Red buttons flickered brightly, and I heard that beautiful sound of water gushing into the drum. Coincidence? I think not... Since I had prayed that very morning for God to show me corners of my heart in need of an upgrade.
And, just to top it all off, the previously broken buzzer works at the end of each cycle again, too. Not bad for a machine that's been dying for the past long while. I wonder if my clothes will come out whiter and brighter?

Day two for Sprouts: so much growth in just 24 hours, reminds a bit of my growth, too. The prayer of a righteous man avails much. Sometimes, it fixes washing machines.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sprouting Headquarters

Weight for weight, sprouted seeds contain more nutrients than any other natural food known to man - enough to rival even the best supplement pills available. They contain high concentrations of valuable enzymes, proteins, mineral substances, trace elements and natural vitamins. Sprouts also contain excellent fiber that is beneficial to the intestines and regulates the digestive process. Since they grow right up to the moment they are picked, practically no nutrients are lost. (source)

It's Sprouting, Day 1.
By the weekend we should be enjoying a fun combination of organic alfalfa, radish, and broccoli sprouts. I borrowed this biosnacky sprouter from my mom, feeling very grateful as it has many great childhood memories of watching daily growth attached to it. The waiting game between seed time and harvest in an outdoor garden can test the patience of just about any child, but when sprouting, action starts almost immediately! I soaked half a cup of seeds for 8 hours, and then gently spread them in the sprouter trays. The bottom tray catches excess water and is very easily removed twice a day when I pour 1 cup of water into the top tray. The water slowly dribbles from tray to tray, perfectly moistening each seed.