Saturday, September 14, 2013


All summer, I watch my tomato plants.

First, I planted two plants purchased at the local big box home improvement store. Nothing.

So I bought and planted four more, from the local discount store. Nothing.

Suddenly, five more plants popped up from dirt given to us from a friend. Apparently, there were some seeds in there!

Now, we have  slowly ripening bounty of tomatoes. Yellow pears, orange grape 'maters, red and green striped beefsteaks, bright red round tomatoes,  purple matoes, red and yellow stripes, orange and yellow stripes, and more round red matoes.

Every few days, I go out with a bowl to pick. Or not a bowl, just a hungry belly.

I pick many that aren't quite ripe- they will ripe on the counter, in a paper bag. Pulling them a little early lets the plant focus on the green fruit. So I have read. On the Internet.

So what to do with all these tomatoes...

Make sauce (I quarter them, throw them in the food processor, and either into a sauce pan, or the slow cooker. Skin on, seeds in (probably why the flavor is so light). I cook off about 50% of the liquid, adding salt, onion, and a little garlic. I'm trying to keep the sauce pretty plain, so I can go more garlic & oregano, or maybe more cumin & garlic when I actually cook with it.

I was going to can it, but instead froze it into cubes.

 I've also dried some. I don't really "like" sun dried tomatoes very much, but this seemed like a fun idea. And I'm low on olive oil (perfect timing!), so the dried tomatoes currently reside in the freezer.

I sliced them in half (or maybe sixths, if using larger tomatoes), then squished the guts into a bowl. Some seeds are still in the halves. Is that OK? Is that some sin against all things sun dried? I have no idea, but I'm going with it.

Or, just quarter them up, and toss them into your pan (where you have already been sauteing mushrooms with bacon strips, and ground sauce). Chevre on that? Yes, please! Side of veggies, and dinner is served.

Tomato season. What's not to love?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Slow Cooker Applesauce

There is an apple tree in our yard. Five years ago, when we bought the house, it had about a half dozen apples. The next year about a dozen, then about 25 and over 35 apples last year. Then I gave it a big pruning. This year we had a bunch of apples- I didn't count this year. But it was maybe a bushel's worth of apples.

The tree used to be a "combo" tree with a few varieties grafted together. However one apple has taken over. Not quite a Granny Smith, and not quite a Golden Delicious. Just before they are totally ripe, they are tart like a GS, but if you wait, the skin turns pale, and the flavor is mild. The apples were about half still green and tart, and about half pale and mild. So I picked them all, and made applesauce.

I washed, sliced, and cored the apples. I did not peel them. I think if you peel them it is more work at the beginning, but if you leave the peels on, then it is more work at the end. So you choose.

Add all the apples to the slow cooker, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover it up, and turn it on- I like 4 hours on low for my slow cooker.

Taste a spoonful once in a while, and when you like what you have, turn it off. I let it cool for a bit before moving them to a colander. You can use a colander, and a food processor, blender, or sieve- whatever you like.  My big colander has bigger holes- so my sauce is slightly chunky, and mashing it was pretty easy. This was good for me, since I left the skins on. It was easy to make without clogging everything up with skins. I used a potato masher, and set the colander in a large bowl (to catch the sauce).

This was a small batch that won't last long, so I just put it in a few quart jars, and into the refrigerator. If I have a chance to pick apples again this year, and make a larger batch, then I will actually can the applesauce. Another option is to freeze it.

Dee. Lish. Us.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Original Brownies

Just made this recipe. It's actually an original recipe. I read a few others, and figured this would get me in the neighborhood of a brownie.

coconut oil (for greasing the baking dish)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour(starch)
1/3 cup palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I like Chatfield's and Enjoy Life chips)
6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs

Heat over to 325F. Grease baking dish with coconut oil.
Combine almond flour, tapioca flour, palm sugar, and salt, then set aside.
Melt butter and chocolate chips. If using cocoa powder, you may want to add that to the dry mix, not the melted butter.
Stir chocolate and butter into dry ingredients.
Mix in eggs.
Pour into greased baking dish.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Since this is my first attempt with this recipe, I have no idea if it's going to be good. Maybe I should have poured extra chocolate chips on the top. We'll see what happens. The brownies should be done in about 5 minutes.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oil Cleaning Method


I decided to try oil cleansing after a few things. First, I ran out of  moisturizer, so I tried using olive oil. Then I stumbled upon some blog posts about using oil to cleanse your face. Intriguing. The idea is that like dissolves like. The stuff in my pores is oil. So I should use an oil to clean my face. Sure, makes sense!

Though I was skeptical at first, I am sold and loving oil cleansing. I do oil cleansing every other night or so. (I'm getting better about keeping it out of my hair, thankfully.) In the morning, I only need to splash water on my face.

I've read a few different ways to do it (prewet vs dry skin, ratio of oils, etc) but this is what I do: let the shower water run over my skin, so it feels warm and soft. Shower normally. Sometimes still in the shower, sometimes not, I put about a dime-sized drop of castor oil, and about a teaspoon or so of coconut oil in my palm. When the coconut oil melts, massage it on my face for a minute or two. Then, wipe it off were a warm, soaked rag.

I thought two minutes of oiling up my face would be dull and annoying. But I actually find myself zoning out during the massage. I've read that you may have more breakouts when you first start oil cleansing, though think my skin actually cleared up a bit. I think it has also improved the overall appearance of my skin- as in fewer wrinkles and a better texture. I'll take it!

It's like a moisturizer that cleans your face. And it works so well, you might only need to do it once a day. You've gotta try it!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bungalow Summer 2013

No home improvement to speak of (or blog about) lately. I've been busy with
u-picking strawberries
sun tea
and home-grown onions.
Ahhh.... summer :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Grilling meat unsafe?

Did you see the latest headlines? Apparently, grilling meat, or otherwise cooking it at high temperatures, creates carcinogenic compounds.

Aw. Sum.

So I kept reading. And googling. And reading. I couldn't find anything on PubMed. What I did find ranged from blog posts to news reports. No telling how concerned I should really be.

I did come across this number a few times: 300F. According to various sources (and who knows how credible the sources really are), the meat should be cooked below 300F to prevent any delicious charring, which would make the meat more delicious potentially create the carcinogenic compounds within the meat. It seems that everyone writing these articles agrees- the delicious charred and blackened meat is what is unsafe. This would include drippings, like bacon grease, which may be used to make gravy.

How did I deal with this? I rushed off to buy some ground beef for burgers. But before firing up the grill (a charcoal grill, using hardwood coals), I put our basic over thermometer on the lower grate, next to the coals. The burgers were above the coals, but I'm estimating the temperature wasn't too far off. The coals never reached 250F. We grilled the same way we always do. I'm sure sometimes the grill is hotter, and cooks burgers faster, but this was totally sufficient.

Just my unofficial, non-professional, two cents. I was excited to add my oven thermometer to the grill and water to share that idea.

Now, back to my dinner!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cauliflower "Rice"

Threw all my left over veggies from the fridge into the crock pot, with some left over chicken (pulled off my last rotisserie chicken). Topped it off with some spicy seasoning, and broth. Served up the soup over cauliflower rice.

To get the cauliflower rice, thaw your frozen cauliflower. 

Put some into the food processor. I pulse it about 20 times.

The amount shown in one bag of cauliflower. That tupperware is about 6"x6"x2.5". I packed it down with a spatula.

I use frozen cauliflower- it's way faster than raw, and doesn't need to be cooked before serving with soup.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Busy Getting Healthy

On September 30th, I was tired... of being tired. Bloated. Stressed. I felt like I was moving downhill at a high rate of speed. I felt the peak of my health had passed with my 20s, to never be reclaimed.

But I knew there was something I could do. Something to lessen that downhill slide. But, changing your diet is hard, right?

Melissa Hartwig, of Whole 9 Life said that. And she was spot on. It's not that hard. It's not hard to change your habits. Being bloated and uncomfortable? Much harder to deal with that skipping cookies or rootbeer.

I had done paleo before. I did the Whole30. It was a great experiment and taught me a little about nutrition and my body. But the Whole30 lifestyle is demanding, and I fell apart afterward. Fell hard.

Fast forward a few years, I was sick and tired of bloat, weight and sleepiness. So I got back on board. I wanted to start the diet I would maintain for the rest of my life- not the more demanding Whole30. If I want something baked, I use a paleo recipe (meaning paleo ingredients, like almond flour, honey and cinnamon). I've also incorporated the GAPS protocol to identify sensitivities,  and hoping to speed up the healing process.

Of course, I sabotage myself with occasional chocolate bars, or cola- cola continues to be my weak link.  But I sabotage myself less and less all the time, and I continue to feel better and better. Many members of family are taking similar steps. It's great to see them healing, lean on each other for support, and share research and tips.

I'm taking the path towards health a little further these days, replacing our soap with castile soap, and using biodegradable shampoo and conditioner. I'm using fewer chemicals around the house.  I've found reasonable prices at discount stores in the area, like Winco and Grocery Outlet. I'll do a post on good finds at these and other places as I go.

As cool as it would be to have people paying me to blog, this post is not sponsored. The thoughts and opinions here are mine. I'm not a medical or nutrition expert, so none of what I have said should be taken as medical or nutritional advice. If you need medical, nutrition, or other professional advice, find a professional you enjoy working with, and get to work. Good luck!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dressing Myself

I recently came across Outfit Posts blog and found myself scrolling through. I thought to myself "I have a shirt like that" and "that would be perfect for work." So I started bookmarking outfits, and referring to  them when I was picking out work clothes.

It may sound silly, but this has really changed things for me. I'm finally dressing like (1) an adult, (2) fashionably, and (3) in a way that flatters me and makes me comfortable. No more sweatshirts or gym shoes to work, no more worn out clothes. Finally taking things out of the closet or dresser, that I haven't worn recently, often, and in a few cases, ever!

So, as a tribute to Outfit Posts author MK:

This is loosely based on what seems to be one of MK's go-to looks. A simple navy tank, gray cardigan, skinny jeans and brown boots.

Boots: Miz Mooz Blake boots (no longer available- bought at Nordstrom Rack)

Top: Blue sleeveless, bought at Marshall's.
Bottom: Mossimo Skinny Jeans Cardigan: Mossimo (clearance at Target)
Do check out MK's blog. I used her posts as a template here. I like her taste in clothes, and love that I am finally figuring out how to assemble my own outfits!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Elk Roast

Elk roast is, in a word, wonderful.

About 8 hours in the slow cooker with  beef stock, generous amounts of garlic and onion, and a few gold potatoes, the meat was tender, flavorful and juicy, despite being very lean. DELISH!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

DIY Ghee

I made ghee.

Ghee is like clarified butter. But super clarified. Ghee is butter fat. Butter minus the extras.

Maybe I should have chosen a nice organic, grass-fed butter. But I didn't have that, so I just used regular unsalted butter.

Put it the pan and melt it with the heat on a low-medium temperature (avoid burning it).

It will start to bubble pretty quickly. That's the water steaming off. Keep going.

Then it will start to look like foam. Keep going, but don't forget about it.
Then little golden brown bits will stick to the sides of the pan, and fall to the bottom. Now you're getting the ghee.
When the bits are pretty golden brown, and sticking to the pan or falling to the bottom, strain the ghee- I used triple thick cheese cloth.  Check out all the nasty bits:
(Not sure why my picture is vertical instead of horizontal...)
I'll probably upgrade to a washable fabric (or nylon) filter later. The cheese cloth got pretty nasty, so I won't be reusing it. Luckily I cut the section I used, so I still have lots left over.
The pan was pretty gross looking too:
(Again, with the picture...)
And you're left with honey colored ghee:
 It was very hot, so I let it cool before moving it to a plastic container. I'll probably use a glass container in the future, but this was clean and handy:

I used 3.5 sticks of butter which produced about 1.5-1.75 cups of ghee. You'll end up with about 80% volume after removing the water and milk solids.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

30 Days of Not Posting

Well, the 30 Days of Recipes was a nice idea. I doubted myself initially, but after a few days, I thought "Hey, I  might just make it."

Due to the unexpected passing of a loved one, I abandoned the daily posts. I spent a few days on the road, but now I'm back. And getting ready for shoulder surgery. So yea.. about those recipes... maybe one day!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 8: Cheater Chicken Soup

This is a staple. If you don't already make something similar, I can't over-recommend this. This is a must. make. all Fall and Winter long. And Spring, since Spring in Oregon is so cool and wet. Maybe Summer too..

You'll need:

  1. One rotisserie chicken.
  2. One bunch celery.
  3. 3 carrots.
  4. Any veggies you want- I use whatever I find in the freeze.
  5. 3 cups chicken stock.
  6. Green or white onion to taste.
  7. Salt, pepper and garlic. Plenty of garlic.
Start by ripping up the chicken meat. I pull off all the meat that I can easily remove. I eat lots while I pull it. I usually consider that my lunch. Chop up your veggies, add a liberal amount of salt, pepper and garlic. Then more garlic. Put all of this in your slow cooker, and cover with stock. 

You can also put all of these ingredients in a freezer bag or container, and save for later.

Whenever you cook the soup, cook on low about 3-4 hour. If your veggies aren't soft enough, keep going. If you go too long the soup gets a bit darker and the flavor gets a little too deep for my taste.

Take the chicken carcass, any organ meat that may have come with your bird, and whatever veggies scraps are left, along with a little salt and garlic, and toss it in a pot of water. Just enough water to almost cover the bird. This isn't rocket science. Or, maybe it is and I should be paying closer attention to my stock.

I cook the stock on a low heat (you can use a slow cooker for this) for a few hours. Check periodically. If all the meat fell off, you're good. 

If you haven't make stock before, it's sort of interesting. You can strain what you have in the pan at this point, and collect lots of meat scraps, skin, and fragments of soft tissue. The liquid portion is rich in nutrients from the bone, like gelatin, than are so good for our own bones. After straining your stock, you can freeze it for months, or just store it in the refrigerator to use in a few days. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 7: "Chocolate" Chip Cookies

I'm learning that if I go into a paleo desert thinking "oh, sure, this will be just like regular brownies/cookies/cake/etc" that I will be sorely disappointed.

But. These cookies are pretty stinking good, and I think even a non-paleo eating would enjoy these.

You'll need:

  1. 1.5 cups coconut flour.
  2. 1/4 cup butter (NOT Whole9 compliant, but I figure it's an animal fat, and close enough for me. Do what you want. Sub a different fat if you like- maybe ghee, lard, avocado)
  3. Big dash of salt.
  4. Big dash of baking soda.
  5. 2-3 tablespoons of honey.
  6. 1 egg.
  7. Small pour of vanilla extract (about 1/2 teaspoon).
  8. As many carob chips as you like. If you've never used carob chips before, fear not. The texture is a great match. Taste is close- maybe a bit sweeter than semi-sweet chips.
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, and scoop them onto your baking sheet. I cover my sheets with foil, but you can oil the pan, use a non-stick mat, parchment paper... whatever you want. Anyway. I go about 10 minutes at 375F.

These cookies were super yummy. I'm going to make a batch before bed tonight!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 6: Creole Meatballs

Of course, I check Nom Nom Paleo all the time. If you noticed today, you'll find a great meatball recipe posted. That got me thinking about meatballs, so I tried a recipe with my go-to seasoning blend. Give this a try and let me know what you think!

Creole meatballs?? Yes! And YUM!

You'll need:
1 pounds of ground beef (lamb, venison, chicken, etc).
1 small shallot. Recipes always call for shallots. I usually sub-onion, then mix in some extra garlic. Try the shallot though!
Two eggs.
1 tablespoon Original Creole Seasoning.
Coconut oil or olive oil.
Tomato paste (1-2 tablespoons).
Herbs: As much or as little as you like: parsley, cilantro, basil.

Heat your over to 375F, and line your pan with foil. Oil a frying pan and heat to a high medium.

Dice up the shallot, chop the herbs. Mix ground beef, egg, herbs, tomato paste, and Creole Seasoning in a bowl.

Roll the meat into 1-inch balls. If it's too soft, you may need to put it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and try again. When the meatballs are formed, brown the outsides in your frying pan. When all the meatballs are browned, bake them at 375F for 15-20 minutes. Check the internal temperature to be safe.

The meatballs will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. I like to serve them with salsa. Yummm!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 5: Slow Cooker "Roast" Chicken

Yum- I love cooking the whole bird. First, because you get to eat yummy chicken. Second, you have lots of left over meat to add to chicken soup. I've tried to make my own broth a few times, with a the carcass, but it only worked once.

So! You'll need:

  1. One whole chicken.
  2. Aromatics- onion, celery, garlic, lemons, carrots. Add any of these you like, and skip which ever you want.
  3. Chicken stock (2 cups)
  4. Salt & pepper.
  5. Olive oil, ghee, etc.

Wash the chicken, inside and out, then pat dry. Stuff the bird with the aromatic veggies of your choosing. Place the bird in the slow cooker. Oil the skin of the bird, add garlic, salt and pepper outside the bird, to taste. Pour in chicken stock.

Cook the bird for 7 hours on low, then check the temperature. You can pull the chicken when the internal temperature is 165F. Continue cooking, and it make dry out. Your slow cooker may have a lower temperature than mine, and may cook slower, so check the temperature, then enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 4: Snickerdoodles (ish)

Day four! Honestly, I'm surprised I've made it this far.

You'll need:

  1. 1.5 cups of almond flour
  2. 1/4 cup honey
  3. 3 big pinches of baking soda
  4. 1 tablespoon vanilla
  5. 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
  6. cinnamon to taste

Stir everything together in a bowl. If it's too moist, add more flour. Be conservative with cinnamon- a little goes a very long way.

Feel free to substitute up to about half cup of coconut or potato flour for the same amount of almond flour. I wouldn't go higher that half a cup. Personally. Just my preference, for texture.

Anyway. Spoon them onto your baking sheet of choice, and bake for 12-17 minutes at 350F.

If you use too much coconut oil, they will be like taffy. Too much honey, and they will be uber-sweet. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 3: Stir fry beef and veggies

Along with your cauliflower rice, try some stir fried beef.

You'll need:

  1. 1 pounds of beef (or other meat). Serves two people. Double recipe for additional people.
  2. Whole peas (in pod)
  3. Chopped onion
  4. Chopped zucchini and yellow squash
  5. Orange juice and soy sauce
  6. Garlic and ginger
Start with a warm, oiled pan. While browning the beef, add equal parts orange juice and coconut aminos. I start with 1/8 cup each. If it reduces too far, just add a table spoon of each. Finish cooking the beef in the sauce, reducing the sauce as you go. Chop a few cloves of garlic and stir the garlic into the beef.

When the beef is fairly brown, stir in the veggies. I don't like to add them too early, because I don't like squishy veggies. The sooner you add them, the softer they get. If you add them late but keep cooking, your beef with be tough.  I don't add the ginger until the veggies are in, so I can get a good sense of how the flavors will combine, but you can add it earlier. Microplane fresh ginger if you have it, or shake in some dried ginger.

Serve it up on a plate with your cauliflower rice, and enjoy!

I use stew meet, but the Hubster thinks it is too tough. I don't like chopping up the beef (or anything I don't have to chop), so I'm happy enough with it. This works just as well with chicken, and shrimp. I haven't tried anything other than these three meats. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 2: Paleo fried "rice"

It was easy for me to eliminate grains from my diet. I don't eat much bread, although I do enjoy pizza and pasta. But really, we weren't eating those things very often. I stopped using buns with my burgers years ago. And other than the occassional burrito bowl, I don't have any reason to eat rice. Other than chips and salsa, I don't need or want corn.

But. Sometimes, it goes really well with a meal. Enter: caluliflower fried rice.

This is my new favorite staple. I feel like I make it really well, which must mean it is easy to make. I even started to "get fancy" and add more ingredients. Still easy.

My tip: use a bag of frozen cauliflower. Raw cauliflower doesn't chop quite the same, so there is much more labor (time spent chopping) and the texture is different, too. Very... cauliflowery.

I use:
1 bag of frozen cauliflower. Leave it in a collander, to thaw and drain any excess moisture.
As much frozen (or fresh) peas, chopped carrots, broccolli, chopped onion, chopped pepper, etc, as you like. I use about a cup each of peas, carrots and broccolli. I use about a quater cup of the other two.
3 eggs. You can use more, less or none.
Coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute).
  1. First oil the pan and warm it up to a warm medium.
  2. Toss in the onion to soften for a minute or two, then dump in the rest of the veggies (except the peppers).
  3. In a seperate pan, scramble the eggs, then set the eggs aside.
  4. Put the cauliflower in the food processor or blender and pulse, pulse, pulse. It doesn't take long to get a nice rice-like texture. It might look a bit like quinoa. I do the cauliflower in two or three portions, so I don't over load the food processor.
  5. Add the peppers (I hold these out a few minutes because I don't like them too soft).
  6. Season with plenty of ginger and conservatively add the coconut aminos- you don't want it soupy.
  7. Taste it- is it good? Great! Not enough flavor? More ginger. Garlic, salt and pepper to taste, if you like.
  8. Stir the egg back in. Test the flavor- still good? Great.
  9. Last, add the cauliflower. Stir everything around to warm up the cauliflower and distrubute the flavor. Test the flavor as before.
You use any meat you like, or none at all. If you use regular soy sauce, check the label, as it may contain wheat. Another option is reduced beef stock. Yep, super reduced beef stock.

I've served this to a few different folks- my extended family, a few friends, strangers at a potluck holiday party... and it continues to be a big hit with everyone. It reheats really well, which is great for packing lunches.

Give this a try! I really hope to spread the cauliflower rice love here!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

30 Days of Recipes: Day 1: PW Salsa

Happy New Year on the new blog! I'm kicking off 2013 with a new paleo recipe per day, for 30 days. I hope I don't miss a day. Fingers crossed.

So, today!

This recipe was inspired by the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa. I assume the Pioneer Woman has never seen my blog. This is simply my take on her recipe.

I make salsa from scratch regularly. Usually I chop all of the fresh ingredients by hand, but sometimes, like today, I use my food processor. I hear blenders work well, too, but I've never tried it that way.

First I chopped the onion. I used one bunch of green onions, and about a quarter of a baseball-size yellow onion.

I put the large can of whole stewed tomatoes in the food processor, and pulsed until I liked the texture- sort of chunky.

I added most of the leaves from one bunch of cilantro (sweet, lovely cilantro!) When I use cilantro, I keep the twist tie in place while I wash the leaves. Then you can shake them out, and use kitchen sheers to cut off the leaves, dropping them straight into the food processor. Pulse, pulse, pulse.

Then I added a couple pinches of salt, and a couple pinches of cumin. I used one very large clove of garlic. It was bigger than a fifty cent piece. Big clove. I rolled one large lime against the counter top, to soften it up before chopping it in half and squeezing the juice from one half into the salsa. Pulse, pulse, pulse.

I stirred this mix into the two cans of a chopped tomatoes with chilis. The smell of cilantro was very strong, but the taste wasn't overwhelming. There's just a little heat, but a nice flavor and texture.

I think this will be a really good burger salsa (you've tried salsa on a cheeseburger, right? mmmm!)

I'm loving this recipe. It was faster than the raw, fresh, chop method. The flavor made me and the Hubster happy. I recommend trying this one yourself. Enjoy!