About Me

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I am mom to an 18 year old boy and identical twin 9 year old boys. I am the wife of a wonderful man. I have had celiac disease for 18 years, and love to share recipes I find or create!

Aug 28, 2012

New Pluot!

Every time we go grocery shopping, I try to buy whatever fruit is in season to keep a variety in our fruit diet. This month it's been pluot season, and oh my are they tasty! They are a cross between apricots and plums, and there are many varieties. I have no clue what variety this is but I was stunned when I cut it open! The outside is tan and spotty, but the inside is a vibrant red! And wow is it tasty :) I look forward to eating pluots every summer, waiting for them to show up in local shops! I'm thinking a pluot tart recipe is going to be coming soon...

Aug 27, 2012

Today's American History class

We are reading William Bennett's America: The Last Best Hope in our American History class. Today we read the introduction to the book and the first two chapters. I was both amazed at how much it moves you as you read, and that my son remembers so much of what I taught him two years ago, when South America was being explored by the Spaniards. The book's wording really makes learning about history engaging for a student who normally could care less about history in general!

One thing that specifically touched us was this excerpt, quoted from Ronald Reagan's farewell speech:

Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough, it starts with one of the things I'm proudest of in the past 8 years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family, you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.

But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs [protection].

So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important--why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, "We will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did." Well, let's help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen, I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.

Aug 26, 2012

Banana Shake - great for kids!

I first want to say these are naturally gluten free, most fruits don't have any gluten in them!

I have been making these shakes for my kiddos in the mornings, and I always polish off whatever's left in the blender! This makes more of a flavored milk than a shake consistency, which is perfect for my fussy-about-food twins. I just give them a sippy cup filled with the banana shake instead of their morning milk, and they chug it right down. The best part is it's full of good nutrients like protein! They are definitely in a weird food stage! They went through a period of not eating any meat, and now are against all fruits except apples and bananas. Ugh! At least I can hide good fruits and veggies in shakes, potatoes and mac n cheese! Yes - I'm that mom who puts sweet potatoes in my mac and cheese, and I sneak cauliflower into my mashed potatoes. Whatever works, right?!

To make the shake I throw everything into my blender until it's creamy! I use 1 banana, 1 1/2C milk,
blob in some honey (I don't know, maybe 2 to 3 Tbs), 1/2 C ice and depending on what's in season I might throw another fruit in. Today I added a little flavor grenade pluot that was too mushy to cut up and eat. Sometimes I add peaches, or some mango, but whatever you throw in don't put the skin in too - it'll change how it tastes and the consistency. That recipe will usually fill two sippy cups and give Big Kid a glass he's happy with. I do from time to time make a second batch, because I can't double this and still fit it in my blender. I have an antique blender that wasn't too great when it was new... I'll get a new one someday!!!

My favorite taste in my shakes is the honey. I bought a gallon (yes, a gallon) of honey from a local bee farm, and ohhhhh is it wonderful. I ordered the sourwood honey this time, if we ever run out I'll try the wildwood maybe! I am secretly hoping some of it crystallizes, my grampa used to spread crystallized honey on his toast when I was young and I haven't had any since he passed away. I love bees! We have a bee/butterfly garden out back, and most of my flowers up front are well loved by the bees. Bees are too beneficial to ignore!

Aug 18, 2012

High School Science

Here's where I admit I'm a total science nerd. Chemistry was my absolute favorite thing about high school! I can't WAIT to start "real science" with Big Kid! I made an amazon wish list of things I will need for 9th grade Biology, and realized I'm super excited even to start Biology. We'll be dissecting all sorts of creatures, getting a REAL microscope, making REAL slides to study... I CAN'T WAIT! See, my inner nerd is showing! I don't have the text I plan to use yet, Pearson's Biology: Exploring Life, but I have been poking around the used bookstores to see if it's available used. I feel it would be worth it even if I have to pay full price for it, everything I have read about it makes me think this is the book for us. I'm really torn about chemistry at home - I want Big Kid to experience a true chem lab for experiments, which of course I can't provide at home, but he could take chemistry at college as a senior as a dual enrolled student... or I could just give him 10th grade chem at home and do my best and he can really dive in when he's a freshman in college... lots to think about!!

Aug 9, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu

People ask me all the time "What DO you eat" after I tell them I can't eat wheat, oats, barley or rye. I laugh and tell them I eat the same things I used to, just gluten free! They look at me with very strange eyes! I thought I would post a week's worth of meals at our house, just to show that we really do eat "normal" foods!! Now keep in mind I'm now feeding a 13yr old giant gluten free as well, the child eats like he's going into hibernation he's growing so quickly. I don't eat every single thing listed here, but he does!

I put all my veggies and snacks into ziploc bags to keep serving size from becoming an issue, so if I say "kettlecorn" it means a ziploc bag of one serving ;) And we drink all sorts of juices and water at our house - once in awhile we'll throw a bottle of Dr. Publix or cream soda in the mix. Our fave juice is V8 Splash, mmmmmm! I also want to note I use what is in season and what I have laying around, so this week for example you'll see lots of seasonal fruit, some of my zaycon chicken, and a bunch of tomatoes we received from a friend's garden. Our menus change weekly with the meat and fruit sales around town, and of course as the seasons change our menus change to reflect the new "in season" foods!

Day 1
Fruit bowl for breakfast, yum! Right now we have pluots of varying colors and flavors, kiwi, strawberries and blueberries, bananas and some nectarines and peaches.
Midmorning snack of carrots dipped in Kraft buttermilk ranch dressing
For lunch we made hot sandwiches using Udi's bread, miracle whip, lettuce, swiss cheese, and Boar's Head maple honey turkey. YUUUM! 
Afternoon snacks for Big Kid - kettlecorn, envirokids rice bar, bag of fresh cherries
Dinner has been in the crockpot all day - roast beef with veggies, it's a very flavorful yummy roast! Here's the recipe I use:

Crockpot Roast Beef
a few pounds of roast
2 Tbs butter
1 C water
1 Tbs worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope Sazon Con Azafran (found with taco makings, usually at Publix for us)
1/2 C ketchup
dash of flour (I use The Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour)
veggies - I use carrots and potatoes

Put crockpot on high, place sliced onions and butter in crockpot. Sprinkle with flour. In a medium bowl combine the water, worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, sazon and ketchup. Set aside. Once the butter melts stir until pasty, then place roast on top of onions. Pour the liquid mixture over the meat, and turn the crockpot to low. Now here's where tastes will vary - I don't like firm veggies in my stews, so I boil my cut up carrots and potatoes for a half an hour then throw them in with the meat. If the liquid won't cover them I add another cup of water. Some folks like firm veggies, I personally don't! You can cook the veggies first or just throw em in raw, your choice. Once everything is in the pot cook on low for six hours.

Big Kid will usually have some sort of ice cream or popsicles as dessert. I join him from time to time!

Day 2
Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese for breakfast 
Midmorning snack of cauliflower with dip (few spoons of miracle whip, dash of worcestershire sauce, squirt of dijon mustard, and squirt of ketchup - until it's light peachy colored)
Lunch today is macaroni and cheese (quinoa elbow noodles and the packet of cheese from a box of velveeta shells and cheese, just wash the cheese packet off before using!)
Afternoon snacks of a kiwi, banana, and Smart Puff cheesy poofs
Dinner is Buffalo Chicken Wings with sweet potato fries - baked chicken wings with oil rubbed on the skin, then buffalo sauce is franks red hot mixed with margarine. MMMM good!

Day 3
This is our errands day so we have Envirokids cereal for breakfast
Steak and Shake provides lunch, frisco melts without the buns
Afternoon snack is the leftover mac and cheese 
Dinner turned out to be easy, tacos! We like Old El Paso's kits, everything is gf except for the soft tacos
A friend gave us tomatoes out of her garden, so we made baked tomatoes. Omg these are good! I bake them in the oven drizzled with oil, minced garlic, rosemary and oregano. 
Dessert is Big Kid raiding the snack bin - cheesy poofs and kettlecorn I think

Day 4
Breakfast was another fruit bowl, this time we found starfruit to add
We ate carrots with Kraft buttermilk ranch for a snack
Big Kid requested sandwiches for lunch, more honey ham and turkey with Udi's bread - he ate two sandwiches by himself and wanted more
For snacks we eat a bowl of Trix cereal, and have a bag of cheesy poofs
Dinner is chicken breasts with Chef Paul Prodhomme's poultry seasoning, with veggies

Day 5
Yogurt serves as breakfast for me, Big Kid had a bowl of Envirokids cereal and a banana
Snacks are plentiful today, Big Kid is hungry! He raided the snack bin a few times - envirokids rice bars, cheesy poofs, tortilla chips, and I think an apple
Lunch is more sandwiches, my child is addicted to lunchmeat!!
Snack is a fruit bowl and some cauliflower with dip
For dinner my hubby made a dish I don't get very often - sweet and sour pork with white rice! We steam the rice in a steamer, here's the pork recipe:

Sweet and Sour Pork
pork tenderloin or leftover loin (we used the ends of a big ol' loin we cut into chops)
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 egg
La Choy's Sweet and Sour sauce
oil for wok or skillet, maybe a cup and a half total

In a medium bowl stir together cornstarch and egg. Add cut up pork and stir to coat meat. Heat up a coating of oil in pan. In small batches fry meat until coating turns a golden brown, we still cut a big one open here and there to make sure the pork is white throughout. Place the cooked meat on a paper towel to remove excess oil. When all meat is cooked remove oil from the pan and return all meat to the hot pan. Add sweet and sour sauce and heat throughout. It's now ready to serve! See, it's not that hard :)

Big Kid hit the banana flavored popsicles for dessert.

Day 6
Breakfast is a fruit bowl, and cereal. Can't keep Big Kid full!
Morning snacks are cheesy poofs, toast with nutella, yogurt
Lunch today is leftover sweet and sour pork with rice
Afternoon snack for me was carrots with buttermilk ranch dressing, Big Kid ate ice cream, carrots and ranch, cheesy poofs, tortilla chips, and cherries. 
Dinner is my old reliable, teriyaki chicken. I use my sauce recipe and chicken breasts cut up, yuuum. Served over white rice with sugar snap peas, and this time I threw in some starfruit - I always say use what you have! 
Dessert was ice cream, not sure but I think I heard Big Kid in the pantry again hitting the snack bags. It never ends with a teenager.

Day 7
Breakfast today is something new - hot quinoa! I had to seriously sweeten it for Big Kid, I liked it with just a little brown sugar and raisins. I guess I want it to be oatmeal... sometimes it's all about expectations. 
Morning snacks are starfruit and strawberries, and cheesy poofs during a test (homeschooling)
Lunch today is hot sandwiches, like grilled cheese (Udi's bread) - Big Kid eats two!
Afternoon snacking is all over the place! Yogurt, nachos, popcorn, carrots, Big Kid just can't seem to eat enough lately.
Dinner tonight is undecided as of yet, I have chicken breasts thawed... might make italian chicken in the crockpot with the leftover tomatoes we still have (cut up tomatoes, oregano, basil, garlic, chicken breasts for 6 hours on low - last half hour throw in black olive slices for fun), or maybe chicken and beans dip in the crockpot (can of black beans, jar of salsa, can of corn, chicken breasts on low for 6 hours) 
Dessert is GOING to be breakfast apple pie tonight, I'm totally craving it!

Aug 1, 2012

Baking Soda and Vinegar Fun Experiment

Today the kids made "magic in a cup" as they called it! This was a really fun experiment. I had seen it many times online, and decided the twins were finally old enough to do it. Big Kid thought it was cool, but the twins were just amazed and were very disappointed when we ran out of spoons! 

I put a drop of food coloring on each spoon, then covered the spoons in baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). 

Then I partially filled little cups with water (plain H2O) or vinegar (acetic acid) and moved the cups around so we couldn't tell which was vinegar and which was water. They don't need much liquid in them, really! The boys got to pick a spoon and mix it into the liquid in the cup. Some were "magic" and others weren't :) This one here was definitely magic! The cups with water turned colors because of the food coloring, but the cups with vinegar made colored foam and erupted out of the cups. 

It's a double replacement reaction. The acetic acid reacts with the sodium bicarbonate to form carbonic acid, which is very unstable. The carbonic acid immediately comes apart into carbon dioxide and water, a decomposition reaction. The bubbles are the carbon dioxide being released! CO2 is heavier than the air so it pours out of the cup down the sides. You're left with a colorful solution of sodium acetate and water! It was fun to mix the colors when we were done too, as my four year olds figured out :)