Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I'll never eat in a carpeted restaurant again....

Let me tell you about our latest experience while dining out with the kids.

Let me preface this with a warning, if you can't tolerate hearing about "bodily functions"...then I'd slip on over to my Pinterest and look at shoes or crafts instead of reading this!  I'll also say that, even though there's this penchant in our family for talking about gross things during dinner, I'm not telling this to gross anyone's just that I gleaned a lesson from the experience and wanted to share.

And I promise no related imagery will accompany this story.  I'll try to keep it short and sweet...

So we hemmed and hawed about where to go eat last Sunday.  Since our diet shift, we've axed many eateries for unavoidable grains like pizza joints and sandwiches, and bad cooking oils...which is pretty  much everywhere.  Basically we eat at Chipotle, sushi places when we can afford it, and once in a blue moon we go have Indian food just BECAUSE!

We ended up at Korma Sutra in Westport, and we'd just been set in the booth and were having papadum and chutney when this mom and her 7-8 year old stood up to exit the dining room.  I'd noticed them getting their final bit of food, a piece of frozen mango on a toothpick, that they hand out after dinner along with complimentary rice pudding, halva and chai.  As they stood up...(and here's where you'll want to exit because it's going to get gross...) the girl projectile vomits a 6 foot stream of half-chewed Indian food across the restaurant.  She narrowly missed the two ladies in the booth behind us...I sat there in awe, as did Gen, as she gave back her meal in 2 incredible barfing sessions.  The mom goes, "I am SO sorry!!!" as she escorted her now empty child back to the bathroom.

We gazed at each other across the table and bounced ideas back and forth.  Food poisoning? Flu? Sheer excess??  The waiter came and draped a table cloth across the lovelines on the floor and they promptly invited us to move to the other side of the restaurant, we obliged.  I said, "I'll go THIS way!" as I pointed to the direction AWAY from the barf piles.  We relocated, as the waiter cleaned...and the girl and her mother came out of the bathroom...the girl appeared "fine" as she bopped toward the front door on OUR SIDE of the restaurant.  She  looked back at the man cleaning up her mess, I think she was very embarrassed and wanted out of there.  Her mom hesitated at the desk, I think she might have slipped them a $20, I'm not sure!  I thought, "Oh child, if you have the flu...keep on movin'!"  Poor thing, I felt bad for her but wanted her far away from our table!

Gen kept talking about "pooky" and said, "The man clean it up".  She doesn't miss anything.  I kept replaying the scene in my head and hoped that it wasn't the food itself that made her sick.  I ate a small plate of food, stopped before I was even half-full.  I beleive it was excess...a 7 year old stomach piled with rice, naan, greasy appetizers, chicken in goo sauce, rice pudding, mango lassi...on and on, it has to go somewhere, and I think once the rice expanded the dam just broke! But why didn't she run outside?  How did she go from smiling and eating her frozen hurling at high speed!  I'd never seen anything like it in my least, in real life.  It reminded me of the cherry scene from "Witches of Eastwick".  Yes.  THAT bad.  Or maybe the pie eating contest from "Stand By Me". 

I watched as people walked in and out of the restaurant to get carry out...walking through the (albeit cleaned up) mess.  It made me want to never wear shoes in my house again.  You never know what you're walking through...and these people picking up their meals were walking through someone else's meal and didn't know it.  Gross.  And adding to this, a few days earlier I had the kids out in the yard and Miso brought in a little dog poo on her boots and I didn't notice until it was literally all over the dining room, on my white bath mat, and all over her hands and her brother's too!  A child and house cleaning ensued...obviously.

What else do we bring into our homes on the bottom of our shoes?  It's quickly becoming "not worth it" to even go out to eat, outside of Chipotle!  I like a concrete, wood and steel eatery that can be hosed down at the end of the night. a restaurant, just gross...

So much for short and sweet.  :) Speaking of short and sweet...I've gone legit on my kefir soda and started making labels.  Explosively delicous!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ice cream making...

There are men running all over the house today.  There are paint contractors measuring the outside of the house, and the appraiser is here taking pictures in my kitchen!  I was up last night until, and putting things in their place.  Not easy when you've got a short person running around undoing it all before your very eyes.  Funny thing is, I didn't even start to get tired until 12:30 (am) when I was in the shower and thought, "I think I'm tired...?"  Love the energy that comes with eating "against the grain".  In my bagel days, I never would have been able to clean, play with children and cook meals non-stop for 17 hours.

Chubs slept all night through and when he woke up I tried to get him to lay back down and husband said, "It's 7:30...ya know?"....right then I noticed that the light coming through the curtains was not just the usual sodium vapor brown from the street light, but a faint blue tone that signals my brain to make coffee.

Here it is 11 am....all the men are gone, the house is spotless...NOW what do I do?!  

Make ice cream.
 Mixing cocoa powder into cream can be a bit tricky...

 It comes together as it heats up...

 I used coconut milk because I didn't have enough raw milk left to use...makes ice cream...creamier.

And last....the SPICE!  Cinnamon and chile molido powder I brought back from New Mexico, and some cayenne that the recipe didn't call for.  Zesty!

Now I have cheesecake ice cream, mint chip...and Aztec spice chocolate.  "That'll do, pig..."

Lastly, I've been thinking about a few things lately...I know, brain drizzle...get your umbrella.

The first is...why does it seem so "outrageous" to pay $3.50 for a dozen, pastured chicken eggs...but perfectly fine to pay the same for one latte??

These show the orange and yellow shades in my eggs from the farmer's market.  The one in the middle is a duck yolk!  I hear a cry coming from the 2nd floor...time to make like a baby and head out.  No more time for brain drizzle!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thumb wrestling with toddlers...

This evening was the first time I'd schooled Miso in how to thumb wrestle.  Both of the kids were in the kitchen getting underfoot while I cooked (as usual) so I decided to show Miso something new to derail her usual shenanigans.  I clasped her hand in mine and pulled her thumb up in the air.  I said, "Let's thumb wrestle!"  She was watching our thumbs intently.  And then I counted. "One...Two...Three.........GO!!"  And she ripped her hand away and took off running into the living room!

It just cracked me up and I thought I'd share.  :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn...Corn syrup free

I did it.  After much sadness at the thought that I would never be able to eat caramel or caramel corn again because of my absolute rejection of corn syrup...I finally decided to try making caramel with alternative ingredients. Lately I've found that "healthIER" renditions of old favorites just don't cut it.

Scones are heavy with sprouted wheat flour, not the light, fluffy, creamy clouds they used to be with regular all-purpose flour...
Cakes are flat, and grainy when made with almond and coconut flours...not like the flour and vegetable oil laden wedding cakes I used to enjoy in the past...
Cookies just aren't the same...while I find it's easier to make an enjoyable cookie out of odd flours and coconut oil, it still isn't the same...

The fact is, for those of us who have abandoned wheat, things will never be the same.  And that's OK.  Enough research shows that wheat is a major danger to everyone's health, not just people with celiac.   It causes a myriad of health problems, obesity to name one...which totes along many other health problems with it such as infertility, type II diabetes...depression.  It doesn't take advanced medical science to make connections between eating something...and having an unpleasant reaction like acid reflux, nausea, or dare I say...gas.  That last symptom was on another list in my family called "entertainment" and was never considered a problem!  Har har....But that's what bread does to this family, and that stinks....literally!

This innocent post about caramel corn turned into an anti-wheat back to the point.  While I've had so-so successes with alternative flours, I've just made the sky a little bluer by figuring out how to make caramel corn without corn syrup.  This is an old family recipe handed down from a fabulous cook who I believed was my aunt.  We always called her "Aunt Dorothy" but I didn't grasp geneology well enough to understand that she was "just a friend" until after she had passed on. I've used this recipe for years without fail, for holidays, bake sales...and just for fun.  With the alternate ingredients, it cooks about the same, it tastes BETTER.  And the best part is, I'll allow my kiddos to have it when I make it...because even though it's basically a sugar and a grain, it's a once a year treat that I hope will "set the bar" for how they think caramel corn SHOULD taste.

The first time my mom made this was New Years Eve when I was in high school.  She didn't tell me she was making it, it just appeared.  I was in shock because I didn't know you could "make it"...I thought it always just came from Topsy's!  ;)


Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

2 Cups Jaggery (Indian Brown Sugar)
2 Sticks of butter
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Syrup
Pinch of celtic sea salt
2 'batches' of air-popped popcorn (I have no measurement, I just use the measuring cup on top of the machine and make 2 batches.  

1 tsp Baking Soda

Preheat the oven to 200 F. Pop your corn and set it aside in a deep roasting pan that's twice as high as your popcorn.  Measure out your baking soda and set it by the stove along with a whisk.
Melt jaggery, butter, brown rice syrup and celtic sea salt in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan over medium heat, gas mark 2ish, stirring until it's melted and combined.  Use a pan that leaves room for boiling and expansion of the caramel.  When the mixture comes to a rolling boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and then leave it alone and don't stir. If the caramel starts to get too dark or smokes, remove from heat and quickly whisk in the baking soda.  Otherwise, you'll see the caramel slowly turn dirty copper brown, especially around the edges.  Whisk in the baking soda. The mixture might foam up, so be cautious.
As soon as it's completely mixed, pour it over the popcorn and immediately start stirring until the popcorn is coated with the caramel.  There will be clumps, and likewise un-coated pieces, but that's ok!  Place caramel corn in a 200 degree oven, stirring every 15 minutes for a total of 4 times, or one hour.

That's it!  Remove it from the oven and stir it one last time to break it into individual pieces...and then try not to eat it all.  That's the most difficult part!

*Jaggery is Indian brown sugar found at Indian grocery stores.  It's in a cone shape that you shave with a knife. I tried using a microplane on it and it was painfully slow.  You're going to melt it in hot butter with this recipe, so there's no need for it to look like modern brown sugar when you start.

*Popcorn, I always use organic to avoid GMO's and you can use 1.5 batches, or 2 like I do, or even 3 batches.  It all depends on how much caramel coating you want.  You can use less corn and make seriously candied corn, or a lot more corn for a "kettle corn" style...or in-between like I do for a moderate amount of candy.

*Brown Rice Syrup, while recent news reports have demonized brown rice for it's arsenic content...I believe that you can ingest more toxins just breathing the air outside.  For a once a year caramel corn fix, you're not going to keel over from arsenic poisoning.  Plus, it's in the earth, God put it there...not for us to eat, but alas, we get it in our bodies like radon, and mercury, and so on.  Buy a reliable brand like Lundberg's, make sure it's organic, and moderate away! I'll take my chances with a trace of arsenic over a 1/2 cup of corn syrup any day.  

*Lastly, I would recommend using over-sized equipment to make this.  A bigger pot than you think you need to allow for caramel bubbling up, a bigger roasting pan to mix the popcorn in to make sure it doesn't all plop over the edge and onto the floor...when you're just mixing the molten caramel into the popcorn, it will clump together and sorta "bully" the uncoated popcorn out of the bowl.  Until they all get a little sugar on their surface, they will not behave!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Ideals for 2013...

I got a negative scanner for's turning into a tool for my "Ideals for 2013".  Having resolutions doesn't work for everyone, I'm one of those people.  I'm forgetful, and random...and easily sidetracked.  Some would call that ADHD, thanks to the modern world there's finally a "department" that people like me can be sorted into.  Funny thing is, the modern world is a dog chasing it's own tail.  And while it busies itself with that, I've got better things to do...

As for resolutions, my "Ideals for 2013"...this is the best I can do...make a list and hope I'll remember to look at it again:
1. More art time, less computer time...
2. Learn a new art form...namely, encaustics...
3. Iron my husbands shirts, at least the collar...
4. Throw things away, as in...old negatives of flowers and street signs and cats...
5. Not gain weight...HA! See sidebar for "Primal Blueprint"...I'll be doing his "21-day total body transformation at some point this winter...
6. Be in New Mexico for my birthday this year...
7. Be prepared for holidays, birthdays, and craft in, "Christmas in July"...
8. Wheat-free two O one three
9. Serious gardening this year complete with compost heap...hopefully the dog won't see it as her personal buffet...

I'm stopping at 9 instead of a nice, round 10 because it's also part of my "Ideals" to be ok with things (and people) not being perfect...and also to do less things well, as opposed to tinkering with ALL of the projects and ideas I have in a half-baked manner.

If you haven't already noticed, this post is going to be strictly black and white.  Most of my old negatives are b/w that I shot with a Pentax automatic focus, no "filter buttons", no frills.   They're also hand developed in a darkroom, talk about good old days.  The last time I went into Costco to have a negative printed, they told me they "don't do these anymore" and they would have to wait until the end of the day and re-build their machine just to print my one picture.

  One for the road...I was 16 here...I liked football??

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year...

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!! always, things hardly ever go as planned, as least that's how it is in my world.  Here's a little of how our Christmas went...I guess you could consider this my "Christmas letter"...albeit it's only about the past week!  I'm not sure I would be able to remember too much more than that...the days are just packed.

As for my hopes for busting through our yearly flu and coming out shining like the North Star on Christmas morning...hopes banished!  Thankfully no one had the "upper flu".  Miso picked it up from a family member, with fever and cough...then Tank got it, his first real illness...then husband, then yours truly.

By Christmas morning  Miso was still coughing and carrying on, Tank was running a fever and did so for...3...days.  Over 104 at times, he was burning up.  I was prone to very high fevers as a child, so I dreaded giving him "the bath"!  Alas, I sat by him all night just like my mom and grandmother did before me, and kept moving a damp cloth around to soak up the heat.  I believe he had roseola, which Gen also had at about this age...after the fever subsided, a very faint field of red pin-point dots spread across his back and chest.  And then came...the snot....

And us big kids?  The honey had a day of tired, a night of slight fever, and then a few days of headache and congestion.  Yours truly got a head cold simply from being up all night with my subjects!  Lack of sleep always does me in.  I'm completely cured as of today...thanks to kefir sodas.

Here it is January 2nd and the only residual is the Tank and his occasional cough followed by me chasing him around with toilet paper trying to capture the snot monster issuing from his nose before it ends up on something or someone!  Good times...

And decor?!  December 27th...I was putting blue lights on a crunchy, dead Christmas tree...a tree we found leaning against a fence after the tree lot had closed down for the season. We opted to hang our collection of favorite ornaments HIGH UP in a window instead of on the dead tree to keep them from being played with like a tetherball.  We have cherished ornaments from our first Christmas together in 2004, and ever year very old glass balls that I as a child saw on our Christmas trees.  The only baubles on our tree are newer, but still fun, fabric and wood ornaments...unbreakable!

Due to illnesses, we missed just about every family party...and the saddest part was, I missed Christmas Mass.  It's my "flipped switch" from Advent to Christmas, and it was never tripped.  It really took me a few days to feel like it was Christmas. 

And now here it is time for resolutions already! Or not.  Sure, I have some...some very specific, some grand, some grandiose!  I'll get into that later as, like everything else lately, it's still in the works and not quite ready.  But since one of my "Ideals for 2013" is to be prepared for holidays and such, I better go get busy!  Happy New Year.