Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Toasty Pumpkin Waffles with Maple-Cranberry Butter

Recently I've been transforming the last of our garden's pumpkin bounty into pumpkin puree, some of it destined to be Selah's lunch (or dinner or breakfast) and the rest of it headed for the freezer for incorporation into future meals and goodies. This morning Mike left early to head into town to run a few errands while I battened down the hatches at home- our first snow of the season came to visit late last night and stayed throughout the day. I couldn't convince either girl to go back to sleep after a 6:00am wake up and so instead we had an early breakfast. I had put the flour in to soak the night before in preparation for the morning... I just didn't think morning would come quite so soon. Ah well. So this recipe was just a regular ol' recipe that I thought I might try my hand at tweaking for the better and I have to say, I think this first attempt at recipe redo was a success! The difference is in soaking the flour. My mom's response (over the phone this morning): "What? Soaking the flour?" Yep. See, whole wheat flour is good for you- but soaked flour is even better. Soaking the flour (or grains) breaks down the phytic acid (phytic acid: found primarily in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and prevents absorption of nutrients). Therefore, soaking is a great way to make all of those good reasons for eating whole grains accessible to your body. The usual soaking medium includes using an acidic ingredient such as whey, yogurt, buttermilk or for those with dairy allergies: lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Generally 2 Tblsp. of the acidic medium per cup of grains, covered with equal parts warm filtered water and left to sit on the counter in a warm spot overnight. Clear as mud? For example: oatmeal, that classic morning mash. The night before put 1 c. oats to 1 c. warm filtered water and throw in 2 Tblsp. of whey, yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice or ACV and let it sit on the counter (covered with towel). The next morning heat up another 1 c. water to boiling and throw in the oat mixture, cover and reduce heat- it'll be done in a couple minutes. Truly a highly nutritious breakfast of fast food. :) So now let me show you how I gave this tasty, toasty recipe a little makeover and then allow me to encourage you to give it a shot- it's really easy and actually makes for a quicker breakfast in the morning!

Toasty Pumpkin Waffles

1 c. whole wheat flour (I used fresh-ground hard white wheat)
1 to 1-1/4 c. plain yogurt or buttermilk

In a small bowl, mix flour and yogurt together and let sit covered with towel on counter at least 7 hours or overnight. *I realize this does not follow the 2 Tblsp. guideline I just mentioned above but the original recipe called for this amount of milk so I substituted the plain yogurt for soaking).

The next morning:

1 Tblsp. Rapadura (or you can use brown sugar)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 c. canned pumpkin
1-1/2 Tblsp. butter, melted
1/3 c. chopped pecans (I used almonds since I didn't have pecans on hand)

Maple Cranberry Butter
1/2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 c. maple syrup (go with quality, use the real thing here)
1/2- 1c. butter, softened

In large bowl combine the Rapadura, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl whisk egg, pumpkin and melted butter; stir in soaked flour mixture. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Fold in pecans/almonds. Bake in preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in small saucepan combine cranberries and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat until berries pop, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small mixing bowl; cool slightly. Beat in butter until blended. (Unless, like me, you always forget to let the butter "soften" and in that case throw it in with the still warm cranberry syrup and let the mixture melt and meld together... its consistency will be one of perfect spreadability).
Serve waffles with maple cranberry butter and extra maple syrup if desired. Refrigerate or freeze leftover butter. Makes about 6 waffles and 1/2- 1 c. butter so I will definitely be doubling if not tripling the waffle part of this recipe in the future! Mmm.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Westward Ho!

Mike and I have been wanting to take the girls to the Coast Aquarium and finally we planned to make a day trip of it for our little family. After Selah's morning nap we loaded up and headed west. We hit the coast right about lunchtime and stopped for fish tacos, cod burger and that of which without no trip to the coast is complete: a cup o' clam chowder. Eileigh shared my cup and continues in her love of all things seafood. After lunch we completed the last leg of our journey (Selah dozed briefly) and arrived at the aquarium eager to get the girls' take on the whole experience. It went off swimmingly. :) Selah was content in the Ergo and spent her time happily pointing the occasional finger against the glass at random fish meandering by. Eileigh went excitedly from anacondas to Japanese spider crabs (they're HUGE!) to jellyfish before arriving at the "Please Touch" locale. I think she preferred touching the starfish over the sea anemones and spent awhile just playing in the water. After that we were off to the sea otters, seals and the piece de resistance: sharks. Or as Eileigh pronounces it, "SARKS!!!" (with a little shudder at the end). A little stop at the gift shop on our way out netted us a "lovey" for Selah- a soft little sea otter that she immediately giggled at and tried to chew on and a little "Nemo" fish to add to the bathtub toy collection for Eileigh. We hopped back in the truck for the drive home and stopped at what is surely to be the newly designated stopping point for us: Humble Pie Pizzeria. Tiny little place with only about four tables and what is the most incredible seafood pizza I have ever had. Smoked oysters, smoked salmon, shrimp, loads of cheese, sweet yellow peppers and pineapple... but I had you at smoked oysters, didn't I? :) We drove home, hearts and bellies full from a happy day spent with loved ones at the coast. Hoping for a repeat before too long! So fun.

Piranhas in the Swampland exhibit- yeeeeh.

Eileigh navigating the tunnel under the piranhas

This cracks me up! She was peeking up from the tunnel under the piranhas.

Gorgeous jellies

The petting zoo

By the seals and sea lions

Selah was watching the sharks

Eileigh hesitated before walking over the glass/water, then dipped a cautious toe "in"- then ran full speed ahead over it

Up close and personal

Selah was a little concerned about being eaten by the gigantic shark... just kidding. We loved it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just like Mommy...

This morning as Mike was changing Eileigh out of her diaper (we're down to just overnight diapers now, wahoo!!), Eileigh was quietly rubbing her legs. Suddenly she proudly exclaimed, "I have "scatchy" (scratchy) legs just like Mommy!!!" Ohhh, such a proud moment for this mommy...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fall Harvest

Having been gone (only) 8 days, Mike and the other elk hunters in his group decided to return home 4 days early, much to the surprise and great joy of the womenfolk minding the fires and the babes back home. Both Mike and my Dad punched their tags this year, Mike tagging a hefty cow and Dad bringing home a dandy 5-point bull. They had a great time, some snow, a dire lack of showers and personal hygiene (which is why it remains a men-only event) and decidedly aggressive facial hair growth (my husband in particular). This latter occurrence allows for what is possibly the most treasured tradition of all: that of shaving off the beard in bits and pieces for all manner of facial hair mosaic. Tonight it began for us, Mike hearkening back to the days of old (Senior year of high school), when he sported an oddly severe lamb-chop-type side burn, somewhat massive and yet quite angular. I have spent the evening vacillating between begging him to shave it off, throwing out shameless and largely ignored threats, and dissolving into giggles anytime I gaze straight at him. Eileigh stands by her man and tells me she steadfastly approves of the new facial hair design, "I like it, Mama!" Nothing I say can convince her otherwise- to my chagrin and Mike's elation. But beard (or half-beard or goatee or lambchops) or not, it is wonderful to have him home and to have a freezer full of meat!

Eileigh liked "petting" the elk although she did show some concern for the "owie" at the back of the head. Told her that is one owie that will not be needing a bandaid.

She said, "My shoot a BIG ELK when I get older!!!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cornmeal Waffles

This recipe captured my attention when I saw it sitting lazily on my mom's kitchen counter, half-hidden beneath a stack of magazines. I admittedly got a little excited upon perusal of said recipe and declared to Eileigh that we were having waffles for breakfast the next morning. The commitment might as well have been set in stone at that point. No turning back now! My go-to waffle recipe is light and tasty but it does require a little extra effort, what with the separating of the eggs and the scourging of the egg whites until they can't possibly get any stiffer. Happy to announce this is officially my new go-to since it is supremely easy, healthy and delicious (of course). It's different than your typical waffle in that it does have a somewhat grainy texture (which I love) but it's still light- not a heavy, intense lump of bread-brick like whole grains can sometimes be. Eileigh preferred hers with peanut butter and maple syrup while I swooned over the combo of homemade yogurt cheese (like cream cheese only made with yogurt) and blueberry syrup.

Cornmeal Waffles

3 c. buttermilk (I almost always just use 1 Tblsp. vinegar and fill up with milk to equal 1 c.)
2 eggs
6 Tblsp. butter, melted
2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. rye flour
1/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I used Rapadura)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Whisk together buttermilk, eggs and butter. In another bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Gently blend wet and dry ingredients together and let dough sit 10 minutes before using. Batter will be thick. Will keep for a week in the refrigerator and can thin with milk or additional buttermilk if desired.

Yogurt Cheese (cream cheese)

Whole plain organic yogurt

Line strainer with cheese cloth or flour sack/dishtowel and set over large bowl. Place yogurt in lined strainer and allow to sit for several hours to let the whey drip out. Don't squeeze the cloth. Yogurt will have texture of cream cheese when finished. Save the whey and use to soak your grains! I use it most often to soak our oats overnight for a fast breakfast in the morning.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Skillet Bread BAT

Hold the lettuce, swap in avocado. Fry up a thick slab of homegrown bacon and generously slice a ripe tomato fresh off the garden vine. Sandwich between two slices of Skillet Bread. Enjoy the Hallelujah Chorus as it plays in your mind while your taste buds sing.

Skillet Bread

1 c. flour (if you have it, freshly ground hard white wheat flour is superb!)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (sea salt is preferred)

Heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile in small bowl blend flour, baking powder and salt. Add enough cold water (about 1/2 c. or so) to make a dough. Working quickly use fingers to shape into a circle and place in heated skillet, handling as little as possible. Cook until browned, flip and cook until done, about 4 minutes per side. Serves 2-3. *I usually double the recipe (at least).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Costume Party

For the last few years we've enjoyed a family night of costumes with minimal trick-or-treating for the kiddos- mainly to a few neighbors that we know. Candy and good food is had in abundance and there is always a bit of good-natured competition for the moniker of Best Costume. This year I think Emi took the lead although I also leaned rather strongly towards the sombrero slinger. Yes, he's all mine ladies.

Group shot: Sanchez, Little Bo Peep, rocker/artist chick, backpacker/hiker/granola girl, two little chickies (Foster Farms or just lookalikes, who can know?...), grannie and gramps, and salt and pepper

Selah in her original costume (before the meltdown). Eileigh said, "Selah is my little man!" Little man: in the same vein as Mary Had A Little Man.

Little Bo Peep loves her daddy... even if she is afraid of that mustache (like the rest of us).

The meltdown begins.

The boys were wondering what in the WORLD was going on with Selah (doesn't phase Eileigh)

I think Boone was telling Finn, "It's just girl drama, Finn. Something about her outfit."

The closest we could get to a happy picture of all four of them.

My beloved sisters and I. Life is so much better when shared!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010


That's what Mike has renamed this fantastic 5-minute hummus. For a recent "Mom's Night Out" my friend Kelsey brought this great tasting dip and graciously shared the recipe when we all swooned over it. We've eaten it for the last two days straight and I made another batch tonight since we were running a little low. :)

5-minute Hummus

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
2 Tblsp. tahini (found next to the peanut butter at the store, it's like a sesame seed butter)
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp. paprika

Place all ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Add 1-2 Tblsp. water to achieve desired consistency. Transfer to bowl and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with paprika before serving. Enjoy!