Saturday, November 20, 2010

Changing seasons

The days are turning colder and colder as we settle into our long Michigan winters. They start a little early around here, but we've managed to escape the snow..for now. I've been been trying to come up with ways to keep our home warm and inviting. And so I've begun a soup journey to learn the art of making soup. I love soup, I could eat it every day for every meal. My first soups when I first married, which was almost 4 years ago now, mostly tasted like salty water. Well I'm still learning but I've come a long way from that first giant pot of salty chicken vegetable water. I've learned that simplicity is key, and time and waiting is absolutely necessary. So now I start a day ahead of time, you can even start a couple days ahead of time. I would categorize the soup that I've most recently made as a harvest soup with potatoes(yes it does matter what kind of potatoes you use, I like yukon gold), sweet potatoes, carrots, and a slow cooked chicken stock. So I'll call my soup Vegetable Harvest Soup, no it's not vegatarian.

You will need:
5 pieces of bacon
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
3 carrots
4 chicken thighs, you can use any pieces of chicken with bone and skin
5 potatoes, yukon gold, or other yellow potato with thin skin
1 sweet potato
salt and pepper to taste
First you cook 4 or 5 pieces of bacon, eat bacon, or whenever you cook bacon for breakfast reserve the drippings. Chop onion and carrots, saute in bacon drippings until onions are transluscent and carrots start to soften, add garlic saute for another minute or so then add chicken and enough water to cover. Bring to boil, then turn heat on low,  lightly simmer chicken and veggies for up to 12 hours. Do not heavily boil or your broth will have an off flavor.After it reaches a boiling point, I turn it down as low as it will go and leave it all day checking once in awhile to add more water as necessary.  Remove bones after 10-12 hours, ladle of excess fat and grease. Day two, bring soup back to a boil and add diced potatoes and sweet potatoes, you can also add more carrots at this point. Lightly boil until veggies are softened. Add salt a pepper to taste, if you leave soup on low heat the potatoes and sweet potatoes will break down and thicken the soup.

One thing I love about soup is you can make it your own, whatever you have on hand you can throw in, you can also stretch out the soup and add more veggies and water as it gets eaten up. Yesterday I boiled extra potatoes, carrots, and a sweet potato in salted water and added it (water used to cook veggies too) to the little bit of soup left and it was still as just as tasty.

This blog is inspired by Lonna's recent blog posts about whats on your families dinner menu, so here is what we've been having  the last few days. I haven't put much thought about our menu for the days to come, maybe you could help me out on that one. What's on your menu this week?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gluten Free "Birthday Cake"

One of Anneli's all time favorite things is birthday cake, and since Amelia's first birthday is right around the corner I decided to start experimenting with different recipes to try and find a cake that would be gluten free, low in sugar, and somewhat healthy. Well surprisingly my first shot was a success. Even Hunter who cares very little for sweets enjoyed this cake. I'm going to call it Sweet Potato Zucchini Cake, although I also had yellow squash on hand that I through in there also. So here it is, you can also make this recipe your own, I find it very forgiving.

Sweet Potato Zucchini Cake


1c buckwheat flour
1c oat flour (you can grind oatmeal in a coffee grinder)
2tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp cloves
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3c pure maple syrup
3/4c coconut oil (much cheaper online than in the stores!)
3 large eggs
1tsp vanilla
2c grated zucchini
1c cooked sweet potato


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour 25x9 cm round bundt pan, you can also use loaf pan but will have extra batter. Sift first 8 ingredients into medium bowl. Beat maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl. Mix in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool and turn upside down on cooling rack or plate.

I also tried to make a frosting for this cake, last night failing the attempt. I do have the concept but failed to execute it properly. 1 can coconut milk, 1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup or to desired sweetness, corn starch or arrowroot powder, maybe 1 tsp or so dissolved in COLD water....yes this is where I failed, and salt to taste..oh 1/2 tsp or so. My frosting turned out all lumpy because I had a memory lapse and used hot water instead of cold water to mix in my corn starch. It tasted creamy and delicious, just very lumpy and the texture bothered me a bit. Heat coconut milk on low heat, stir in maple syrup, and salt, bring to low boil and whisk in corn starch that has allready been dissolved in COLD water. Stir until thickens, cool and frost on cooled cake. VOILA...gluten-free, dairy free cake!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gluten Free?

Awhile back I sought out help for Anneli and her eczema. For as long as I remember she had rough dry skin that would break out in itchy rashes now and then. I had some thoughts of it being a possible food allergy but was clueless, except for a 200+ dollar allergy testing from a doctor, how to go about finding what allergy she might have if any. My sister introduced me to this wonderful website forum where you can find countless information on health, nutrition,  and how-to's.  I posted some of the symptoms Anneli was having and I got quite a few responses, one woman told me the three main food allergies are wheat, dairy and soy. Pretty sure it wasn't dairy since we do very little dairy in our home, I decided to cut wheat out of her diet. And realizing it's not really fair for her to go in it alone I made the plunge myself. We have now been wheat-free, gluten-free for almost two months. Anneli's skin smoothed out, no more rough dry skin! She seems to be doing really well with it, her being only 2 helps alot, she isn't really aware of all the things she isn't eating that others eat. Yes, it can be challenging. Outtings and eating out can be difficult, I've learned to plan ahead. I haven't tried my hand at gluten-free baking yet, but I have been experimenting with making pancakes. Our little farmers market has a stand that sells freshly ground buckwheat.So after a few experimental batches I came up with this:

"Soaked" Buckwheat pancakes
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup oat flour, I ground rolled oats in a coffee grinder.
enough plain yogurt to wet the flours
1 Tbsp honey (don't use if child is under 1)
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbsp warm water
1 egg

coconut oil or butter for frying

Soak flours in the desired amount of yogurt, I use mostly yogurt and add just a little water till I get the desired consistency. Soak flours in yogurt mixture 7-12 hours, or overnight. This process breaks up the phytic acid. Phytic acid bonds with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. It also makes the buckwheat more palatable, since us westerners are use to a white bread diet.
When ready to make your pancakes, mix in honey, salt, dissolved baking soda. Seperate egg white from yoke, add in yoke, beat egg white until fluffy(this makes fluffy, light pancakes) and fold into your pancake mixture. Heat skillet, add butter or oil. Ladle batter onto hot skillet, cook until brown and lots of little bubbles form, flip and brown the other side, cook all the way though. Serve with maple syrup or other of your choice. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer Begins!

We have had very hot humid weather here for the last few weeks. Thankfully the last few days have cooled off (high 70s) and we have been enjoying some refreshing rain. HA! I don't know if I would have ever caught myself saying that when I was living in Oregon. 

Anneli is filled with such joy and often has a smile on her face.

Anneli looks like she is posing for the camera

These girls make the silliest faces

Butterfly wings

The girls went to a birthday party down the street recently and brought home these adorable butterfly wings. Anneli has been fluttering around the house in them ever since.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Family Visit

We had a wonderful visit from my mom and sister and her two little ones recently. We all crammed into our little apartment, which was a bit cozy. We were all sleep deprived but we did squeeze in a fair amount of fun with 4 kids all needing naps. Here are a few highlights from their stay with us.

Martin and Iya

Anneke in the sandpit at the Children's Museum

Anneke and Anneli at the Children's Museum

Iya and Martin in the ball pit

                                                Anneli making very silly faces


Anneke looking very stylish!

Iya and Martin takin a stroll

Mom, Lindsay, Martin and Anneli in the backyard

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Day at the Park

A few of the things I really have enjoyed about living in Grand Rapids is having so much to do so close to our house. I grew up in a small town that had very little to offer. We had to travel anywhere from 35 minutes to well over an hour to get to any parks or beaches. And with the weather warming up I am now venturing out and exploring my new territory. I only have to drive about 10 minutes to go to the zoo, there is a park with play equipment suited for little ones a block away, or my new favorite Meijer Gardens is about 10 to 15 minutes away. This park has a wonderful place for children to explore. They offer a sand pit, a water feature, a giant playhouse, and also plants to touch and feel and info about animals. Right now they have their annual butterfly exibit. Countries around the world send Meijer Gardens cacoons with butterflies waiting to emerge. Its a spectacular sight to see as you walk in to an indoor tropical rainforest birds and thousands of butterflies, all shapes and colors, fluttering around.  I have now been there twice with the girls and plan to go back soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Photo Shoot with Daddy

I have been wanting to get the girls into Hunter's office to take some pictures for quite some time now. I tried nagging a bit to no provail, never worth it by the way! I finally decided to let it go and one day Hunter says get the girls ready we're going to take some pictures! Well it was lunch time and almost nap time but I bit my tongue and just got the girls ready and we headed out the door. Anneli did really well for about 3 minutes. Then she couldn't sit still. She was having fun running around the office, I think it was a game to see if we would chase her. The baby actually did very well until she toppled over on her face onto a hard floor. But pictures were taken and they turned out absolutely beautiful. And here is what came from my listening and responding to my husband without argument or complaint.....

The only picture of Anneli and Iya sitting next to each other, after this picture Anneli had a hard time sitting in one place.

This picture of Anneli looks like a movie. Hunter is an amazing photographer and artist!

Sweet little Iya, who is 6 months and growing too fast!

Thank you to my loving husband!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Almost March and still snowing!

Yes, it will be March soon. I don't know where February has gone. Spring will be here soon...I hope. I'm currently looking out the window and see no signs of spring approaching. It's windy, cold, and snowing. I'm thankful that most of our daily routines are in our home, but longing for warmth and sunshine.

Monday, January 25, 2010

So Big!

The girls are growing fast and changing so much everyday. Anneli has moved up to sitting at the big table with a little help from the yellow pages, passing down her high chair to the baby, who is now 5 months old!

We have also found a church that fits us well. We have only attended for the last few weeks but are hoping to call it our new church home. They have two buildings one of which is only a couple miles down the street. They have a great need for help in the childrens ministry and I will be talking to them more about ways I can help out. I am excited to be serving in a community that really needs some help. Hunter also befriended a young man at church that is into video and does videos for the church! God is good!
Another little note is that I attempted to off Hunter yesterday( he really wanted me to post this). We were kicking a large ball around in Anneli's room...not the best idea! When I kicked the ball straight up to the ceiling knocking the light ficture down on Hunter's head. It made a huge crash and gave Hunter quite a lump on his head. He thinks there was blood gushing all over the place ...but really it was only a little knick. But all in all I think we learned our lesson about kicking balls in the house. Hunter was very relieved that it was him that the ficture fell on and not one of the at least we were all thankful in a scary circumstance. It is good to be thankful in all circumstances! ummm...reference...I'll just leave that one for you to look up on your own. Praise Him!

making goofy faces

Anneli very happy to be sitting next to daddy at the table.