Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tonight's Reading: "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair

I love looking at cookbooks. It doesn't really matter to me if I end up in the kitchen right away. I just like thinking about yummy food and getting new ideas to broaden my cooking horizons. One cookbook that I am currently borrowing from the library is Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I haven't read enough of it quite yet to give it the "Emily stamp of approval" but I do like what I've read so far.

One aspect that makes this cookbook unique is how Cynthia also gives advice on adapting each recipe for a young child or baby. This is especially fascinating to me as the time draws near for our baby to come into the world!

Do any of you have a favorite cookbook you can't live without?

That's it for now!
Eat Well, (or read well)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tonight's Menu: "Modified Larb"

Paul and I love Thai cuisine. One of Paul's favorites is a beef salad called Larb (pronounced Laab). Larb has a potent tang to it due to the lime juice...and if there's one thing I love, it's lime juice! I don't usually like to follow recipes too closely, so for tonight I'm improvising on this tasty dish to utilize what we have in the fridge and pantry:

1lb ground beef
2 Tbsp Sesame oil
a couple cloves of minced garlic
1/2 a red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup Lime Juice (Divided)
1 tsp hot chile oil
1 bunch Scallions (chopped)
1 bunch Cilantro (chopped)
1 Cucumber (peeled and chopped finely)
Thai rice noodles broken into pieces and cooked
Spring greens mix
Mix in the garlic, red onion, chile oil and half the lime juice in the ground beef and let sit for a couple minutes. Put some sesame oil (or another kind of oil) in a wok or skillet and heat until your wok is nice and hot. Add the beef mixture until browned. Turn off the heat and mix in the rest of the lime juice, scallions, cilantro, cucumber and cooked noodles. Serve in bowls over a bed of fresh spring greens.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yogurt, Honey, and Whole Wheat Brownies + A Tall Glass of Raw Milk: My nourishing twist on a comfort food classic...

As a ten year old, I attained a childhood savings goal of $100 by selling brownies to family and friends at $.50/ea. or $2.50/dozen. I gave the Girl Scouts a run for their money by spending several sessions beating I-don't-know-how-many-eggs into an equally stunning number of boxed mixes (Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker...whatever was on sale). I learned fine entrepreneurial skills, paying my mom for electricity and ingredients and handing over perfectly presented plates of brownies to eager (I hope?) customers. Sixteen years later, I still find myself craving the thrill of successful business and a rewarding, decadent indulgence at the end.

However, I'm more convicted to take stock of where my ingredients are coming from and how they are nourishing my family and friends' bodies.

Knowing what I've learned in the past few years about the typical contents of boxed mixes (and grocery store gallon jugs), I've been more willing to make better efforts, balancing idealism and practicality. And still enjoy the good life, of course!

I've tried Dr. Oetker's Organic Chocolate Brownies boxed mix a time or two (with farm fresh eggs~)...though I'll admit, there's still something missing compared to those perfectly engineered grocery shelf marvels of modern "food" science.

But recently, I managed to pull of a fabulous (well, for me) Suzy Homemaker stunt. Zucchini from last summer's bounty came out of the freezer and met with my cocoa stash. The original recipe may be found here. I substituted honey for the white sugar, used the called for yogurt and whole wheat flour, and pulled Ted's grandpa's home shelled walnuts out for a sprinkling on top.

~Chocolate Zucchini Brownies~

2 cups shredded zucchini (thawed and drained)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Ted and Josie

If you are interested in meeting Charlotte and hearing more from her, she will be teaching the DIY Cheesemakers Class at Foster & Dobbs (in NE Portland) on March 18th from 6:30-8pm.

If you're interested in joining me for brownies and a cup of milk...well, between a plate for Charlotte, dessert with friends, and a few afternoon snacks, we've nearly polished them off. But check in again next week...I just may be whipping up another batch!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Organic Body Care Recipes (Living Naturally and Saving Money Pt. 4)

I recently borrowed this book from the library and absolutely love it! Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles guides you through the process of making a wide variety of natural body care recipes with tips on how to use and store the products. Tourles also gives helpful advice on using recipes that suit your personal hygeine needs (oily vs. dry skin, etc). I've looked through a lot of body care books, and this one definitely is a terrific combination of inspiring, practical, and simple. Many of the ingredients in the recipes may be unfamiliar to you, so if you are wondering where you can pick up the goodies on these ingredient lists some helpful resources are:

Glory Bee Foods
Mountain Rose Herbs
Bulk Herb Store

I am so excited to try some of these wonderful recipes! P.S. In the spirit of Living Naturally and Saving Money, implementing many of these recipes will be extremely beneficial in cutting costs from your monthly budget.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."

May your day be filled with good company and good food!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The World of Gluten Free Cooking

Today my family and I went on another trip to Bob's Red Mill. The goal today was to get as many different kinds of flours/baking ingredients for gluten free cooking/baking as possible!
My little boy, Luke, just turned 2. We have been trying to get help for his food allergies for a long time. We finally switched all of our family health care to an ND who is FABULOUS if you are looking for one! The sad news is that we have to pay all out of pocket since Steve's company doesn't offer any help for us. One day we'll switch health plans or just have emergency coverage through his job and use all the extra money to see our ND.
Anyway, she did an extensive allergy testing on Luke and we found out his body has delayed allergic reactions to eggs, gluten, and possibly dairy. I wrote about it in my blog ( http:/
if you are interesting in the science behind it.
Anyway, this is why I am needing to go all gluten free for the next few weeks to few months to possibly even longer.
For anyone out there who already uses these items, I"m all ears for ideas you have, recipes you've tried, etc.
So far, I have done pancakes and homemade pizza today, both were yummy!!!
Here is what I got from Bob's today:
White Rice Flour, Fava Bean Flour, Xantham Gum, Brown Rice Farina, Coconut Flour, Buckwheat Flour, Quinoa Flour, GF Baking Flour, Corn Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapicoa Starch,and probably more I am forgetting!
I am trying to educate myself on gluten and what I need to add to it in order to have recipes turn out as good. You can't just swap these gluten free flours 1:1 for wheat flours. Xanthan gum, tapioca starch, etc are needed.
In some ways I appreciate this challenge in my life because its forcing me to try out new things!
Tonight for example the pizza recipe called for herbs I've never put into the dough before. It was such a great combination of rosemary, garlic, fennel,and oregano that I will use it in my normal pizza dough.
What a journey it is for me right now as I study natural medicine, vaccinations, gluten free cooking, and actually vegan cooking too. I miss seeing everyone, hope you are all well!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Planning for This Year's Edible Garden

Fresh off a minor success from last year's front yard garden at my little urban dwelling, I'm thinking about this next growing season and which sorts of crops to grow... I saved seeds from a few of last year's heirloom peas, and I'm anxious to see how they do this time around!

My friend is hosting a seed starting party in a few weeks, and we're all divvying up the supplies. One brings soil, a few bring seeds, some others bring planting containers. A nice way to spread the cost, spread the knowledge, and share encouragement.

Front Yard Garden ~ Spring 2009

If you're near Portland and looking for inspiration this year, take a peek at the schedule of free seminars being offered at this weekend's Yard, Garden & Patio Show. Tickets to get into the show and display gardens cost $7-11 depending on coupons (see their website for details), but the opportunity to sit and learn from guest speakers is entirely free of charge.

A few of note:
Friday, February 12
DIY Seed Starting Station (11am-noon)
How to Grow Heirloom Vegetables: Techniques for Growing Heirloom Vegetables Year-Round Friday (3-4pm)

Saturday, February 13
Growing Food in Containers (11am-noon)

Sunday, February 14
What's New in the Vegetable Garden (10:30-11:30am)
Pruning Grapes, Blueberries, and Fruit Trees (11am-noon)
Edible Gardening 101: How to Grow a Great Garden (2pm-3pm)
Grow Your Own Delicious Fruit (3pm-4pm)

You can walk in off the street, grab a handout, listen and learn, and walk away inspired and empowered. And if the sights and sounds from inside the show are too much of a temptation to resist...come in and find me. I'll be wandering the aisles.


My beautiful open pollinated radish...
Territorial Seeds

From Soil to Heart...Via Worn & Tattered Pages

February 2, 1968

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

-Wendell Berry
Farming: A Handbook
(Would you believe new paperback copies are selling for $217.09?)

I've been reading Wendell Berry again lately. Clicking "reserve" a few too many times for my own good on the Multnomah County Library website. I now find stacks of wisdom all around my bed stand and armchair...and slowly, I am managing to carve out little burrows of time in which to turn pages and soak up wonder.

Thank goodness for the occasional book on CD... Not as much one for fiction, I mentally dismissed Berry's Hannah Coulter in favor of other titles on my reading list. But to listen instead has made the difference, and the sound of a southern accent recounting a woman's long life on rural farmland has filled the air during recent car drives.

Other books bearing random bookmarks: Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, The Way of Ignorance, Imagination in Place, and The Hidden a copy of Fidelity that I bought used from Powell's and have abandoned in favor racing library due dates. I don't suppose I'll actually make it through to the final pages of each, at least not this go-round. But I'll enjoy the overview and make a second pass sometime on down the road.

I'm eager to read Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food...but the hold list is long, and it may be a stretch of time until I claim it from the Belmont bookshelves.

What is it about Berry that fascinates me so? The span of genres his work beautifully arcs? The way his pictures remind me faintly of my own dad and his sunshine and rain weathered face smiling after years in the fields? The resonance of truth I sense almost like a pulsing heart felt through the thin skin of old pages? Whether in poem or play, treatise or tale, there is deep authenticity of voice from one who has lived, taught, shared, valued...known.

Not until nearly the end 0f college did I ponder the significance of the rural life and farming heritage I received as a member of my family. Now, the knowledge of the place, of the French Prairie, of the seven generations preceding me who have worked the land and watched the seasons, who have given birth to so many and coaxed a living from seeds and soil, the knowledge sinks deeply into my heart and I feel the weight of legacy.

I wonder now what part I carry?

What passion for the land, what vision of the future? What heart for the people who live from the soil's fruits and even now lay hand on the course of fate?

In landscape architecture, I value the systems of the living world. I value the environments we create, we replicate...and I see the archetypal spaces of Created nature as inspiration for our own creativity.

In life, I value the hearts of people I know and those I desire to know better. I value the desires we have to connect with each other, with place, with food and the things seen and unseen that nourish us to live.

It is a gift. This life. This place on the planet. These words from the wise. These days of learning and loving.

Please share...if you, too, have words you've read or pondered...thoughts that have inspired and grown like seeds in your heart.

These gifts are good.


Sunrise at my family's home on the French Prairie...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

PSU Farmer's Market Update!

If you're like me, you've already started dreaming about the opening of local farmer's markets. One of my favorite things to do last summer was to wake up a little bit early on Saturday and bike down to the PSU farmer's market. I miss the feeling of zipping down side streets with the morning sun at my back and the thought of fresh goodies waiting for me! We still have a little wait until the farmer's markets start back up, but for those of you who frequent the PSU Farmer's Market here's a little bit of good news:

"Starting on March 20, 2010, the PSU market will expand its footprint one block south, which means the Saturday PSU Market now will extend two full blocks -- from Montgomery to Hall Street." For more updates and info about the Portland Farmer's Markets visit here.

March 20th will be here before we know it!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Living Naturally and Saving Money Pt. 3

Make Friends with Baking Soda.

photo credit

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to make natural changes is by using baking soda for more than just baking. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and exfoliant and can be used for a variety of personal hygeine and cleaning purposes. Here are a couple ways Paul and I use Baking Soda around the house to save us money:

· Deodorant. Forget those fancy (and expensive) “natural” deodorants that cost an arm and a leg. By far, the best deodorant we’ve used is baking soda. I leavebaking soda in a jar with an old make-up brush in our bathroom. Every morning we dust our armpits and are good to go. Not only does baking soda help reduce perspiring, but it eliminates any odor. It works for me, but more importantly, it works great for Paul J. If you have sensitive under arms, try mixing in a little arrowroot powder to soften the mixture.

· Shampoo. Shampoos contain all sorts of chemicals and additives that are not beneficial to your body, not to mention the fact that all those chemicals get washed down the drain and into our water supply. Not only are these shampoos bad for your health and the environment, they are detrimental to your wallet. To wash my hair, I take about a tablespoon of baking soda and add enough water to make a paste and rub it into my wet hair in the shower. No, it doesn’t foam and it doesn’t smell like “Sea Breeze” or “Tropical Sunshine,” but if that doesn’t matter to you, than it makes a great shampoo. Since using the baking soda on my hair, I only wash my hair 2 – 3 times a week. I also use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner rinse after using the baking soda. Note: everyone’s hair and scalp are different so what works for my hair might not work for yours. I know someone who just uses apple cider vinegar on their hair, but I tried it and it does not work for me at all!

· Cleaning. I use baking soda for all sorts of cleaning! I use it in the bathroom for the sink, toilet and tub. I use it in the kitchen for hard to clean pots. My next post will be about saving money with do-it yourself non-toxic cleaners, so stay tuned for more details on this subject!

So what can you save?? Take a look at this cost comparision:

Tom’s of Maine Deodorant 1 stick: $5.99
Homemade Deodorant: <$1
Savings: $4.99

ABBA Pure Basic Shampoo 33.8 OZ: $25.00
Homemade shampoo 33.8 oz: <$1.00
Savings: $24.00

(Obviously you can find cheaper shampoo than Abba, but even the cheapest brands (Suave) will be more expensive, not to mention unnatural.) So, live simply, live naturally, and make friends with baking soda!! ~Emily

Monday, February 1, 2010

Living Naturally and Saving Money Pt. 2

One of the best ways to gain ideas for living naturally and saving money is just hearing about other people's life experience and in turn being inspired. I recently came across a blog from a woman in Australia who writes about everything from budgeting and cutting back to gardening and living simply. As life is a little nutty right now and I have limited internet access I thought I would pass on this blog in the meantime. It's called Down to Earth.



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