Friday, July 26, 2013

Strawberry Jam Kombucha Vinaigrette

Strawberry jam kombucha vinaigrette is an idea I've been toying with for a while, but I didn't have any handily-low jars of jam on hand to test it out. Fortunately for me, the boys have been eating a lot of sandwiches lately, so I finally got to test this recipe!

The players in this recipe are leftover jam, a combination of homemade strawberry freezer jam and store-bought jam in this case, unflavored kombucha, olive oil (I prefer light or extra light, but lots of people recommend extra virgin), and plain dijon mustard. When looking for vinaigrette recipes to get the ratios, lots of them have sea salt and pepper, but I choose to leave those out for my first experiment. I don't want to mess with the delicate balance of the kombucha too much.

2 Tbsp. jam
1 Tbsp. Dijon
1/4 c. kombucha
1/4 c. olive oil

Mix all together in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. This is an old store-bough jam jar. Feel free to lick the spoon that you used to transfer the jam from one container to the other.

Mmmmm, tasty! The picture doesn't quite do it justice. It's a delicate pink.

Then make yourself a delicious salad and sprinkle with your oh-so-easy vinaigrette! This particular salad is iceberg lettuce, cucumber (from my friend's garden), black bell peppers and black tomatoes (from my other friend's garden), sprinkled liberally with sunflower seeds. The vinaigrette is very tasty! A perfect blend of fruity and slightly tart.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What do you do all day?!

I think there is no worse question to ask a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM, if you like lingo) than "what do you do all day?". No matter how innocently it is phrased, it immediately feels like a personal assault upon my work ethics and my intelligence. I think the average, non-SAHM has visions of peaceful breakfasts followed by children napping while mom enjoys bon-bons during her daily episodes of Chopped and The Doctors. I've never even had a bon-bon! (Have you?) If you ever get asked this question, feel free to refer people to this blog entry, and no matter how much you really want to choke them, try to refrain. However, I'm married to a lawyer, so I've got you covered there too.

If you are wondering why we stay-at-home moms are so exhausted with seemingly little to show for it most days, then take these two examples to heart:

Example 1: Putting on child B's shoes to prepare to go outside to play while waiting for the bus
Step 1: Round up socks and shoes for Child B.
Step 2: Convince Child B to sit still long enough for socks and shoes.
Step 3: Get interrupted by Child A, who says he needs help getting his shoes tight (they are velcro'd and loosely done).
Step 4: Child A also complains his shorts are too big.
Step 5: Go upstairs to find smaller shorts. Decide to carry a full basket of laundry up with you.
Step 6: You are upstairs anyway, so why not put that basket of laundry away? It will only take a minute.
Step 7: Discover that Child A's shirt drawer looks like a tornado went through, and you can't possibly cram another shirt into it in it's present condition. Neaten drawer. Still no room for a few of the out-of-season shirts.
Step 8: Move out-of-season shirts to temporary storage in another part of dresser, displacing in-season shorts.
Step 9: Move shorts into another drawer space.
Step 10: Put away remainder of clothes, taking a moment to lament that Child C's 3mo and 6mo clothes still haven't been sorted out and put into storage (he's 11 mo).
Step 11: take empty basket and smaller shorts downstairs to waiting child, and help him dress for expediency. Tighten shoes.
Step 12: Discover Child B, in the meantime, needs a clean diaper.
Step 13: Change diaper, put on socks and shoes.
Step 14: Head for the door. Stop and go back for caps. Stop and go back for drinks. Stop and go back for sunglasses. Stop and go back for ....  well, you get the picture.

Today was my oldest son's last day of preschool. *sniffle* He's getting so grown up! I thought it would be fun to put in a side-by-side picture of his first day (9-13-12) and last day (5-9-13). Here he is with his younger brother, our second son.

Example 2: Make lunch for self and child
Step 1: Give child reasonable choices. Have all of them rejected.
Step 2: Child hangs on the refrigerator door while you try and make choices sound appealing.
Step 3: Make choices for child, who then immediately wants every other thing you listed besides the ones you have selected.
Step 4: Set up child with lunch at the table. He requests a drink.
Step 5: Search for lost sippy cup. Keep looking; it's there somewhere.
Step 6: Find cup, fill it, and deliver it to child.
Step 7: Begin process of making your own, different lunch ( to accommodate allergies in newest, nursing child).
Step 8: Remember that husband asked you for a special item of clothing for tonight's work-out.
Step 9: Abandon lunch prep and start a load of laundry.
Step 10: Empty dryer and fold that load of laundry.
Step 11: Remember that you were supposed to be eating lunch, and go finish lunch prep.
Step 12: Sit down to write amazing and funny blog post while eating lunch, and discover that Photoshop has stopped working.
Step 13: Spend next 3 hours trying to fix Photoshop. Make sure to stop and nurse youngest child as frequently as humanly possible, and also retrieve the pickle chunk he has abandoned after older child gave it to him.
Step 14: Finally insert picture into blog entry.
Step 15: Congratulate self on a productive day!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lunch: What is the new normal?

Today, as I made lunch for my nearly-3 and nearly-5 year olds, I took a mental inventory of possibilities for myself. I'm still adjusting to my new dairy and soy-free life. In case you missed that post, our newest son Lucas is allergic to both and since he is nursing, that means I need to eliminate those things from my diet as well so they do not pass through my milk to him.

Anyway, the possibilities were a little low today. I was tired of the leftovers we had, but almost every new lunch creation I could envision required bread. Of which I was out. You see, life with dairy and soy allergies really limits what I can just grab out of the cupboard and eat. I have to make most of what I eat entirely from scratch. It's hard! I have 3 children under five! Who has time to cook from scratch? Ok, well, I probably *do* have time to cook from scratch, but that Facebook account doesn't run itself! Just kidding. It's more about patience. I've never really been the kind of person who is thrilled to be in the kitchen, creating something new. I have learned to cook, and I enjoy eating new food that I have cooked, but I can't really bring myself to say the phrase "I enjoy cooking." There's a difference, know what I mean?

Luckily for me, I recently discovered the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François. At the very minimum, I do indeed have 5 minutes of patience in one day. The gist of it is, I mix up a large batch of bread dough, enough for a few loaves, and store it in a bin in my fridge. When I need to bake a new loaf of bread, I grab enough for a loaf, slap it into a loaf pan, let it rise and then bake it. Really, my whole part in the process lasts for about 5 minutes, broken into 3 chunks. Unless you count the eating. That might take a while.

But sometimes the benefits of this new lifestyle make me forget for a few moments the negatives. Because pulling a beautiful, crusty, delicious loaf of bread like this one out of the oven is its own reward. It smells fantastic and tastes even better.

I couldn't properly capture it in this picture, but there's still steam rising off this bread. Don't worry, I slathered some (dairy-free) margarine on that heel of bread so fast it was melting off the knife. And that, my friends, is how you enjoy eating dairy-free and soy-free.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another food allergy discovered

When I sat down to put together this article, the topic of food was heavy on my mind. I thought it was very appropriate, then, that our MOPS speaker came talk to us about that very topic!

In my family, I have to dwell on food an abnormal amount of time, or at least it seems like I do. When my first son was born four and a half years ago, we soon found out that he was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs. Since we were exclusively breastfeeding, that meant I had to cut those things out of my diet completely. I remember my first shopping trip after that. I spent 2 hours wandering the aisles of Meijer, reading labels of things we normally bought and finding alternatives. Family dinners, church potlucks, and restaurants are all potentially life-threatening occasions for him, and cause no small amount of stress on my part.

Now my third son has been diagnosed with milk and soy allergies, and we are back to square one on what we commonly eat. I thought the first time around was rough, but this time is certainly harder. Milk or milk proteins are in virtually every processed food available on the shelf. Even cooking from scratch has been a brand new journey as I can no longer rely milk, cream cheese or shredded cheese to provide flavor boosts. Avoiding soy is even harder.

But, even in the face of adversity, I am reminded that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Learning a new way of eating is a struggle, but it is one that is ultimately in God’s plan for me. When I trust Him, he gives me new resources and ideas. Our meal planning at first was a bit crazed, but it is smoothing out as I find or am given new recipes and new products to try. Even better, my son’s skin is clearing up and I’ve lost 5 pounds!

It would be easy to just wean my son, but I know that for my particular family, learning this new way is better. And I want to say thank you to all the other moms that I have discussed this with, and found sympathy, empathy, and inspiration. As mothers, we often go through trials that we would not face had we never had children. It is hard, and sometimes we want to give up and take the easy route. But, just as we must pick the cheerios up off the floor (for the thousandth time), so must we also sometimes choose to take the harder road if it is a better choice for our family. And learn to make our own yogurt, because coconut milk yogurt at the health food store is crazy expensive.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

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