Monday, September 6, 2010

Do you have a meal that brings back memories? Of your roots, or special occasions? I do. The meal I made tonight makes me feel like a farm-wife. I scrubbed all the veggies, chopped and seasoned, layered and baked it for 2 hours. When I was younger, I always believed I'd grow up to live on a farm, take care of animals and live off the land. God had a different direction planned for me, but I still take heart in some meals that bring the feeling of being a farm girl. That's one thing I love about cooking. It triggers memories that I love, brings back feelings of happiness and makes me feel close to family, even though the miles separate us.

There are two recipes that I made today, and I'm not claiming they are the world's greatest. However, they both are absolutely delicious :) and that's good enough for me today.

I found some delicious looking zucchini at the Community Market this week and couldn't resist bringing some home. My Grandma has a recipe for a Zucchini Cake that is flavored with cinnamon. It's a sweet alternative to breads, and a great way to get family members to eat a green vegetable! Brice wasn't willing to try it at first, but it didn't take long for him to join us. :)

Zucchini Cake
2 c sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups shredded zucchini
(1/2 c nuts) optional

Mix the wet ingredients, then add the dry and mix well. (If using a stand mixer, be sure to lock it in place. The batter gets thick.) Then add the zucchini and nuts. Bake in 2 square pans for 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

The second recipe of the evening was my Awesome Cornbread recipe. My grandma also adapted this recipe from one she already had. It is a sweeter recipe than most, and I'm thinking of testing it with whole wheat flour soon. It's super fast and a great add on to a filling dinner such as the Layered Beef Casserole we had tonight.

1 c cornmeal
1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil
1 egg
1 c milk

Mix all ingredients. Pour into an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. (I prefer to make muffins. The recipe makes 12 muffins, using a 1/4 cup measure for each one. Bake until your preferred shade of brown.)

I'm in the process of figuring out which herbs I want to grow inside this winter, and where on earth I'm going to put them to keep them warm :) Part of me wants to get rid of my microwave so I can have that shelf for plants! haha....we'll see! Brice isn't up for it yet, but I'm leaning more and more towards getting rid of it. What herbs do you like best, and how do you use them?

Keep it safe: eat organic, clean naturally, and most important of all HAVE FUN this week!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Recipe Results!

Here is my review for the meatloaf recipe I tested last night!

The Best Meatloaf in the World

3/4 cup fresh wheat bread crumbs
3/4 cup skim milk
1 1/2 pounds 93% lean ground beef
2 large eggs--beaten
1/4 cup grated onion
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage

Combine with fork. Don't overmix.
Turn mixture into meatloaf pan. Smooth with tines of fork.

Prepare topping:
1/4 cup ketchup
3 T brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Spread over meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Wait 10 minutes before slicing.

This recipe was simple to make. I had never grated onion before and honestly didn't find the process enjoyable, but it definitely produced better results than dicing the onion does. The onion pieces were undetectable within the meat mixture, a refreshing change from my world of diced onion. The topping was fabulous, and I will double it next time and spread it over the entire loaf, sides and all! It was tempting to add more ketchup on top--I'm a lines on meatloaf kinda girl. But in the interest of this review I resisted the urge.

My notes for next time include: Use a 9x13 and put the loaf in the middle instead of using a loaf pan. I had to drain a bunch of liquid off the top. (I also neglected to put a pan under it and ended up opening windows after the liquid started burning on the oven floor.)

This recipe is DEFINITELY worth trying. I chose it because many of the others I found titled World's Greatest had soups or mixes in them or some sort, and I prefer to make my food completely from scratch when possible. Another scoring point for it was the health factor.

You've got to give credit where credit is due:
Recipe by Harriet Hodgson (Copyright 2005), I acessed it through the following link: or you can check her website

As for the Ba-Ba-Banana Bread:

I wasn't really impressed. It seemed dry and I'm thinking of adding some vanilla yogurt next time to add moisture. However, the kids are enjoying it...and it is healthy. Did I mention it was Whole Wheat? :)

Happy Cooking!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back in the saddle again...

When I began this blog in January, I had no idea what was in store for me in the following months. I never expected to pick up and move to Indiana, and go through the home "building" process again...but I did get to do those things, and here I am in my new home! I love it. I couldn't have asked for more from God. He provided a comfortable, single level living space for us. We have three bedrooms, a furnished kitchen and affordable rent.

Needless to say, the time in between was filled with moving, organizing and caring for kids. But I'm back in the saddle again, ready to move forward with my plans for our family to continue "living fruitfully!" The first and foremost important decision I made recently was to make my home a "toxin-less" home. To truly become toxin-free is nearly impossible in this day and age, but I'm doing what I can to keep harmful substances away from my family.

Let me explain what started this trend in my life. My dear friend Elizabeth has lived this life and I've witnessed the differences, but it was not until I followed a link about toxins in teenage girls blood that I began to dig deeper. As I plunged myself into the world of information out there about the dangers involved in chemicals that surround us, I became more and more freaked out!!! Formaldehyde in baby shampoo?!?! Heavy metals in my loose powder!?! No Way! I started grabbing items from my bathroom and checking them on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep Database. ( The details about individual ingredients in my products were scary. Reproductive harm. Neurotoxins. Kidney damage. The list goes on, and I didn't sleep a wink that night. I'd be happy to talk to you more about this stuff if you are interested. The short ending to this story is, my kids now use California Baby shampoo, ivory soap (which the girls of the family already used) and I have a bag full of stuff I'm giving away. We are eating organically, not EVERYTHING, but those items that show necessity in studies because the chemicals are absorbed more than other foods. I feel better about our way of life. I am confidant I'm doing my best to keep my family safe and healthy. :)

That said, let me tell you about the newest recipe I have going today! Two actually. I'm back to testing The World's Greatest recipes. Tonight it's Meatloaf. I'll let ya know how it goes. I also have Ba-Ba-Banana Bread cooling from my wonderful cookbook Real Food for Healthy Kids.

We eat old-fashioned oatmeal a lot for breakfast, occasionally I'll cook steel cut oats overnight in the crock-pot. That's a fantastic breakfast plan for a crowd or a busy's ready when you are, and everyone can customize their own bowl. We like to use real maple syrup and brown sugar around here, but there are many more creative things you can throw in, like some half and half and finely diced strawberries would make a wonderful strawberries and cream oatmeal. Mmmm....makes me hungry thinking of it.

I love to try new things, if you have a recipe you've been looking at, but haven't tested...I'd be happy to try it out and let ya know how things go! :)