Tuesday, 27 March 2012

53 Momths

Dear Mister Todge and Beanie Weanie,

This was actually a pretty lame month.  I got sick....sick in a way I haven't been sick like in my whole life.  Big Daddy had to take days off work because I couldn't even get out of bed.  All I could do was sleep.  I thought I was almost better when it all came back worse than it had started and we were too busy to stop.

We did start the month with a fun dance at the school.  It was the 'Crazy Hair Dance'.  Daddy was away on a business trip so Caley came with us.  Gabe didn't want to have 'crazy hair' but Bea did so we did your hair in a bunch of pony tails all over your head only to arrive at the dance to find your two bestie friends, Elizabeth and Gemma with the exact same hair dos.

You guys went crazy dancing around in the gym DJ'ed by one of the teachers.  It was TONS of fun.  We danced under the disco ball to silly top 40 while you guys ran around with your glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces.  I loved it because it was so much fun for all of us and because I 'won' the two things I bid on at the silent auction fund raiser.  One of which was a blender!!  Smoothies here we come!!  I was sad that Daddy missed it.

I heavily 'booked' us during the week Daddy was gone.  Everyday a different playdate.  This was for my own sanity and to keep you guys busy.  I like all the moms attached with the kids you have befriended at school so much that I wanted to have some social time with them too. You guys had a blast.....and I got sick.

Daddy came home from his business trip, Grammy and Papa arrived, march break started,  Daddy got sick and right after Papa and Grammy left I got sick before he had a chance to completely get better.  The rest of the month was me trying to survive a crazy busy schedule with a fever and feeling like death. You two both got really minor versions of what Daddy and I got.  I some how even managed to do 15 hours of work on the TPOMBA spring sale in 2 days.

But no matter what - funny things happened
This says 'Do not Break'. Gabe wrote it about his train tracks

Gabe telling me the plot of the movie UP. "Mr. Fuckwason's (Fredrickson) house flies cause he put lots and lots of balloons on it and he is by himself and then he is with the small mailman (he is a cub scout) and then they fly in CHARLES MUNTZ's blimp with all the fuzzy wuzzy lovely cute doggies"
Detailing the bike for the nicer weather

After about 20 questions in a row
"Woah Gabe! You have so many questions"
"Yes I have lots of questions, my heart is full of questions"
Gabe talking to a classmates dad "do you work wif my Daddy?" "no I dont" "oh so you work at Costco"

Bea stayed home sick with me one day ...we snuggled up watching Strawberry Shortcake and eating toast together.....

As always, I love you more all the time

Mummy almost reporting for duty

I have been sick.  The kind of dumb sick that you just can't seem to rid your self of.  It started as a minor head cold and moved into double full fledged bacterial pink eye with a sore throat (something that bordered on feeling like strep).  A couple of days in (and with me, Big Daddy and the kids already starting the game of 'pass the pink eye') I started using antibiotic eye drops....something I hate doing.

The reason I hate doing this? Because even the package when you buy the drops says that most pink eye (they give a stat well into the 90s), bacterial or viral, clears up within a week without the drops so it always seems wasteful of an antibiotic exposure.  Let me be clear about something - I am not ANTI antibiotics but I think they are painfully over used,,,,yes that attitude is a trendy talking point and doctors are trying to dial back on the prescriptions but I am even stricter in my thinking than that......even the times that doctors think is the time to prescribe I tend to hold back.  Have you ever read How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of your Doctor by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn? I highly recommend it.  It is terribly interesting to me how many things we are told are deathly dangerous diseases/illness/infections that in fact are NOT. ie. strep throat - A chapter he calls "The Mythical Menace of Strep".  So to resort to antibiotics for pink eye!! Well I was so sick I was grasping at straws!! I am already allergic to penicillin from over-exposure.  I developed this in my late teens after years of safely being able take penicillin based antibiotics - I had a terrible run of chronic strep (If you read that chapter on strep in the Mendelsohn book he touches on how taking antibiotics for strep can lead to repetitive cases) and sinus infections while in high school. The penchant for this is genetic.....you catch my drift. 

So two days later and NO improvement (probably sicker) I get a moment of clarity in my delusional sick crazy and drag out my infrequently used Colloidal Silver.  I don't have a long history of using this stuff and only learned about it about a year ago.  I picked some up when we were in the US last summer and have been slowly learning as much as I can about it.  Like all alternative therapies there is endless propaganda on both sides of the fence as to the safety and efficiency of using it. From fear mongering of Argyria to the FDA suppression campaign**.  The fact is that Colloidal Silver is as of yet fairly unstudied.  What we do know about it is from human use for centuries before the advent of penicillin...with lots of success

What I find very strange about the concerns for using colloidal silver is that even Wikipedia (which is the link I have given above) lists the many safe historical uses of silver as a disinfectant and the current uses (in the treatment of MRSA and to keep catheters and endotracheal breathing tubes clean) but then says
"Silver is also promoted within alternative medicine in the form of colloidal silver, although it has not been proven to be safe or effective."
But you just listed safe and effective ways that it is being used for exactly the same ways 'alternative medicine' is promoting to use it?? ie. as eye drops for new borns to kill any bacteria that has gotten in the eye during child birth-----now being used for pink eye/conjuctivitis

Anyway I will let you do your own reading on the subject.

After 5 days of the worst pink eye I have ever had, eyes completely glued shut every morning, very red, so swollen there was heavy bruising around the eye and difficulty seeing, the discharge causing a terrible burning rash around the eye, I used the colloidal silver 3 times over 12 hours, 2 drops per eye of 15ppm million solution and it was GONE!!! I put a teaspoon of it in my neti pot 3 times in a 24 hour span - green snot turns back to clear, 2 drops in my very sore obviously clogged ear - next morning pretty much gone.

And now almost two weeks from when I first got sick I am almost back in the pink....but not pink eye.  Oh boy do I ever have a lot of catching up to do!!

**Recently, the FDA (funded by Big Pharma) has been stepping up their suppression campaign against colloidal silver because colloidal silver works so well for such an enormous range of infective conditions.  Colloidal silver had been in common use before the FDA was even created in 1938. Under the Grandfather clause of its charter, anything on the market prior to the FDA could not be banned or controlled by the FDA. The FDA, did a TWELVE YEAR STUDY of colloidal silver and buried the report. They couldn't find anything wrong with it.

This not the brand I have

Sunday, 18 March 2012

How to make Almond Milk

Geez I can't even begin to tell you how hard it is to find those little tiny teets on the almonds........

Almond milk is remarkably easy and SOOOO much yummier than the store bought stuff.  Home made has a much stronger nutty almond taste which I really like.  From the various batches I have now made, the kids prefer the slightly sweetened vanilla version best.

What I like most about home made -
  1. It is cheaper
  2. It tastes better
  3. I can control the sugar, amount and what kind
  4. I can ensure the quality of the ingredients
  5. No additives or preservatives like carageenan which is found in almost all store bought milk alternatives
  6. The 'leftovers' from making almond milk can be used in baking, wasting nothing.
Here is what you need:
1 cup of raw organic nuts (our personal favourite combo is 3/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup cashews)
fresh water
vanilla extract**
a sweetener of you choice ( I used brown rice syrup or honey.**)
A nut milk bag.  (This is a cloth bag to strain the nut paste out of the water. You can buy one for under $10 at a healthfood store or you can use layered cheese cloth or a clean dishcloth)

Here is how you do to

Soak almonds in a blender full of fresh water for 8 hours or leave it overnight. You want to remove the enzyme that inhibits their growth while they are sitting on the grocery store shelf.  This enzyme takes a real toll on digestion preventing our own enzymes to break down the food and inhibiting absorption of precious vitamins and minerals. Simply by soaking nuts in a little water, the nuts release these harmful enzymes, and at the same time, their nutritional value skyrockets.

the next morning after soaking
A batch using just almonds

After a long soaking, like overnight, you will notice that the water starts getting murky and it looks like the almonds are starting to break down.....they are.  Strain and rinse with fresh water.  Fill the blender up again and blend it.  Start at a lower setting to start but get it up to liquify and leave it for 1-2 minutes. Put your nut milk bag in a large bowl or pitcher and carefully pour the contents of the blender into the bag and hang it, letting most of the liquid drip out.

When it slows down squeeze the remaining out.

Now the best part and what makes this SOOO worth the effort.  Dump that nut pulp back in the blender, fill it up with water and blend it again.  With one cup of almonds you will get two blenders full (I have a 7 cup/1.5 ltr blender).  That is 1 1/2 cartons!!! After the second blenderful has drained really squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can because you want the pulp to be as dry as possible.  Dump it out on a plate and let it dry out some.  Over the next two days use it in your baking.  Most recently I used some as 'flour' in a batch of muffins and some as the ground almonds in a pot of curry.  If you are adding vanilla extract or a sweetener to you milk rinse out your blender and pour back in 2-3 cups of your freshly made milk.  Add in your sweet and blend for 30 seconds then pour this back in with the rest of the milk.  Pour into seal-able glass container(s). Keeps refrigerated for 4-5 days

 **I am not giving a specific amount because that is really up to your taste.  I used approx 6 tbsp of the brown rice syrup or 2 tbsp of honey and 1 tsp of vanilla per 1 cup of almonds.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Why stuff matters and how we have it all wrong

I belong to a parents of multiples group (some members have triplets or more!) and as I have mentioned before, it has been overwhelmingly helpful, wonderful, inclusive, friend making, supportive, and a million other things.   There are monthly meetings for those in your area and those are the ones you tend to 'friend', run into at drop in centres or find yourself sending your kids to school together.  Generally speaking you mostly see, give and receive advice from these parents in your area. This year the group added a FaceBook page to the myriad of other things to help parents reach out, find answers to questions and support when things get tough.  This has also opened up the exposure we have to other parents in other neighbourhoods who we wouldn't generally meet.  In other words it has opened up more opportunities for me to put my foot in my mouth (and I haven't done yoga in years!)

Recently one mom posted that she was 'looking to buy some designer clothes' for her babies...she had found that the prices are higher in Canada and was asking if anyone knew of a cheaper way of obtaining designer baby wear.......now I am not mentioning this to pass judgement because that is not my intention (or job) but I bring it up because I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I couldn't stop thinking about how foreign this concept is to me and how I can't even for a moment relate to why she would need or want these items (I actually snorted drink out my nose when I read her post thinking she was kidding). She was more specifically looking for Burberry so because I can't speak for her, I can only explain my side and my view on the notion of wanting designer wear for babies (she mentioned she needed 12-24 months) or for yourself for that matter.

  1. I completely understand the desire/want/need/love of all things beautifully designed.  Remember I was a design student when I found out I was pregnant, and I did some work (briefly) as a make up artist and stylist in my 20s (wha? You can't believe I am not in my 20s now?.....no this depth of cynicism takes years, decades even to gestate and nurture).  I love beautiful things too......this is not the same as loving designer things or a label.
  2. Needing to dress you or your children in 'labelled' items is not about design, beauty or quality.  It isn't even about you anymore....it is about what you want other people to THINK about you and you as a parent.  This goes deeper into physiological aspects than I intend to and goes into an area I am completely unqualified to comment on (who am I kidding!) 
  3. There is also the aspect of what this is teaching your kids? To pretend that this has little to no impact is disingenuous and untrue.  Kids learn more from your actions than from your words.  This is a pretty clear lesson that what you wear and how you look is what's important. (The part of this I can relate to is the judgement from others but in my 'circle' you would be judged for this purchase and would more likely be applauded for bragging about how little you spent to look great. I dress both my children for approx $500-$600 a YEAR and I brag about this.
  4. Being dressed by a label takes little or no creativity.  Not only are you following by being on 'trend' but you are letting the way you look, the way you are perceived by other people, your 'impression' on the world be told/sold to you by someone else.  It is no longer yours but someone elses impression.
  5. All Burberry clothing and many of their bags are made in China (as most high end designer stuff is) a small potion of their bags, belts, shoes are made in Italy, Spain, Turkey, France and Portugal.  This British company no longer manufacturers anything in the UK. These designers duds are being sewn by someone getting paid around $0.43 an hour.  Even though Burberry moved almost all their manufacturing to China in the last couple of years substantially lowering their manufacturing costs there has been no drop in the price for the consumer, hence greatly increasing their profits.  They can get away with this because they can charge whatever the market will bare. If you want/need this label, and are willing to spend $1695 for a diaper bag or $200 for cotton sweater for a 12 month old (prices taken directly from their website), they will happily charge you for it. (I personally think this is a human rights violation)
  6. You are choosing to purchase items that have to be shipped from China.  The environmental impact of making that ONE choice is huge.  Why is this ok?  There are perfectly good, beautifully designed, quality things made right here (even ridiculously over priced designer stuff) ! It is risking your children's future.
  7. A child in that age range grows out of things within 3 months.
  8. Let me continue using the $200 cotton sweater as an example.  For $200 you can have a cotton sweater that will fit your child for maybe one season, 3 months (I would like to use the $265 rain cape as an example but it is just so ridiculous I actually get physically mad) With that same $200 you could buy an equal quality cotton sweater at Joe Fresh (although also manufactured in Asia but in unionized factories) for approx $16**, leaving you with $184.  With this $184 you could plant 5 trees (through Evergreen) that will last for generations.  Or with $184 you could feed,educate, supply fresh water to, provide medical attention AND clothe ANOTHER child for almost 5 months (based on $38 a month for Christian Childrens fund) BUT instead the choice is one sweater - with the right label - Burberry - I couldn't live with myself
**example could be even cheaper if purchased at a used clothing store, a clothing swap or on sale.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Pancake Bread and How to Make Peanut Butter

I sometimes wonder if we have convenience fooded ourselves into ridiculousness. How stupid it is to deny ourselves the most important thing - health - to make way for the convenience and free time to do what?  Watch terrible tv? I am not accusing everyone of doing this....so please don't send me nasty messages accusing me of accusing you.....this is more a comment on how we are being 'sold' what we have time for.  According to commercials I don't have the 'time' to cook healthy meals, but I do have time for NBC's 'can't be missed' Thursday night line up.  Apparently I don't have the time or the strength in my arms to shake a container of milk so it has to be homogenized.

From My New Roots
Homogenization is the process by which cow’s milk is treated under extremely high amounts of pressure so that it does not separate into its respective fat layers when it is stored. For those of you that remember the milk man coming around to deliver the day’s supply, you may recall the extremely rich “cream layer” that formed at the top, as the milk at that time was not yet homogenized.......Although it may not seem like a big deal, homogenization changes the milk’s normal, natural, and healthy fat structure into microscopic spheres of fat containing a powerful digestive enzyme called xanthine oxidase (XO). Kurt A. Oster, M.D., who worked during the 1960s through the 1980s, hypothesized that homogenization posed a threat to our health, as these teeny spheres of fat are small enough to pass right through the stomach and intestines, without being digested first, leaving XO to float freely around in the blood and lymphatic systems. When XO breaks free from its fat envelope, it attacks the inner wall of whatever vessel it is in. This creates a wound. The wound then signals the body to send a sort of patching “plaster” to seal off the wound, bringing a number of plaque-forming substances, including cholesterol, to the site of the damage. You can imagine what happens after years of this process going on in the body, patching injured arterial walls over and over again: atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries”, leading to heart attack and stroke. Although Oster’s theories have been criticized, his work is continually published in regards to this subject and highly regarded among respected natural health practitioners.

I could go on - not having the time to be sick even though you have done nothing but eat convenience foods full of sugar/salt/additives/preservatives/food colourings/endless crap that reeks havoc on your immune system so you get the flu shot......but I digress... 

From Dr. Mercola

Limiting sugar in your diet is a well-known key to longevity, because of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage in your body, sugar molecules are probably the most damaging of all. Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates AGEs ('Advanced glycation end produce' are a complex group of compounds formed when sugar reacts with amino acids) and speeds up the aging process. It also promotes the kind of dangerous growth of fat cells around your vital organs that are the hallmark of diabetes and heart disease. Sugar/fructose also increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones, and this is another major factor of premature aging and age-related chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease. Keep in mind that while it's perfectly normal for your blood sugar levels to rise slightly after every meal, it is not natural or healthy when your blood sugar levels become excessively elevated and stay that way.Unfortunately, that's exactly what will happen if you're eating like the stereotypical American, who consumes a staggering 2.5 pounds of sugar a week on average!
And when you add in other low-quality carb foods such as white bread, sugar, pasta, pastries, cookies, and candy, which also break down to sugar in your body, it's not so difficult to see why so many Americans are in such poor health.

They say that when you die you regret the things you didn't do, not the things you did do. I know I won't look back and think "fuck I didn't watch Keeping up with the Kardashians!!!"  I will regret not reading enough of the classics, not getting down on the floor and playing with my kids enough, maybe not appreciating enough - although I am working on that one...

Like right now I sit writing in my cozy house, bars of sunshine beaming in on me between the slats of the blinds, cup of hot organic coffee with organic cream in hand, munching on homemade bread with homemade peanut and jam.  I am not mentioning any of this to brag but because I think I can appreciate this moment, this breakfast, my life right now because of the work and thought that went into it.  Because I decided long ago what was important to me and what I would never regret - I will never regret the time I don't watch tv that is spend in the kitchen baking. I won't regret the stress and forethought it takes to have 3 healthy meals on the table everyday because it means that at 4 1/2 my kids have never eaten at McDonalds. That at 4 1/2 they are already understanding the importance of eating healthy food (we talk a lot about what 'gives you a tummy ache')  I will never regret that my reading the classics time is usually filled with reading cookbooks, nutrition textbooks or gardening manuals. I can honestly say that I would be a terrible watercooler gossiper.....and I can live with that.

I don't have more time on my hands than anyone else.  It is just about being efficient and making eating this way a priority. And if you don't have enough time in your day - stop watching tv - it is amazing how much time it frees up.

This is a recipe for what the kids call 'Pancake Bread'.  It is Gluten free and Sugar free and really nice toasted with peanut butter or jam or both.

 Pancake Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour 
  • 1 cup oat flour 
  • 1/4 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour 
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2cup honey [or maple syrup]
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 cup chopped almonds and hazelnuts
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract 

Make the Peanut Butter and eat this
  1. Preheat your oven to 350*
  2. Line a lasagna pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl mix together buckwheat flour, oat flour, rolled oats, almond flour, chopped nuts, and baking powder.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl
  5. Heat almond milk, until luke warm, in the microwave or on the stove.
  6. Whisk together heated almond milk, coconut oil, honey, almond extract and vanilla.
  7. Add wet to dry and gently stir until it starts to slightly thicken.  [about 20-30sec] Add the eggs and completely combine
  8. Stir in thawed fruit until just combined.
  9. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 38-42min, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  The edges will be browned and the top will be slightly cracked.
  10. Let cool - Eat - Nom! 

How to Make Peanut Butter

Or any nut butter for that matter. Making your own nut butters is very easy and you can do this once a month without much hassle to keep your family in the healthy versions . Of all nut butters, peanut is the least healthy....so really I would consider almond or hazelnut (how about making your own Nutella?) first but with peanut being the most popular I thought I would show this one first.

Buy fresh unroasted, unsalted organic nuts.  I am making a point to mention organic because there is some evidence that the rise in nut allergies is actually an allergy to the pesticide - peanuts are one of the most heavily treated crops with pesticides and fungicides. Doesn't that just make you wanna grind that up and feed it to your kids??

Pre heat oven to 300. Spread the nuts single layer on a baking sheet....generally speaking you are going to yield half as much 'butter' as quantity of nuts so if you have 4 cups of nuts you will end up with 2 cups of nut butter....and roast for approx 20 minutes until they are slightly darker and there is a nutty aroma.  The best way to check if they are done is to try one. Then remove from oven and let cool.  Once completely cool transfer to a food processor and blend on high for a couple of minutes.  At this point they are probably the consistency of sticky dust.  Scrape down the sides and continue to process until smooth.  I never add any sweetener but I like to add a little pinch of salt at the end of the processing

**Now I had one huge challenge while making this peanut butter.  I bought beautiful nuts but see how they still have their red skins on them?  Those red skins took over 2 hours to get off.  I even roasted them first to dry out the skin in hopes that it would be even easier to get off.  Luckily I have a daughter who likes silly monotonous jobs or at least has the same stamina for them as I do because we stood at the kitchen counter and got it done, just the two of us, chatting......about TinkerBellMay I recommend that you try to get 'skinned peanuts'.  If your only option for 'skinned peanuts' is that they are previously roasted, make sure they are 'dry roasted' and have NO other additives.  Some 'roasted' nuts are not in fact 'roasted' but deep fried in oil. None of this 'skin' business applies to almond butter .....and I hope to never write 'skin business' again

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and Polenta

I have been MIA.  Like really MIA.  I kept trying, attempting to make an appearance but my life gets in the way of having a life.  I won't bore you with the details of why I have been unable to write....I am not having content issues that bad...but I will throw this out there...BIG DADDY SUDDENLY CALLED AWAY ON WEEK LONG BUSINESS TRIP AT THE SAME TIME OUR TAXES WERE DUE.....and I will leave you with that...

Well the big man is back now and the first load of tax crap is now on our accountants desk....I am sure I will hear from him soon that something else is needed and I will be back to being bent over a calculator cursing words that don't exist in the human language....human language? did you catch that?  My fingers typed that without me thinking it.......maybe my sub-conscience is on to something?

So although I haven't been here I have been cooking and taking pictures so I have some catching up to do.  During the last 2 weeks I have made peanut butter, almond milk, a couple of curries, a creamy pot de creme, some sugar free coconut raspberry muffins, guacamole, bone broth, pancake bread, a light coconut cake with raspberry filling and experimenting with polenta.....spell check wants to turn polenta into 'tadpole', which I have done no experimenting in or with...sorry to disappoint the biology nuts among my readers....

I will start with polenta because ....well I feel like it....

It all started with a recipe....a recipe for some Mexican dish that had a creamy cheesy tadpole polenta topping .......and it got me thinkin'.  Some of you might remember this Mexicany Dish with my amazing food photography......remember that? (this is me testing reader loyalty) So I thought I would do something similar but with tadpoles polenta instead of corn tortillas. The problem was that the only tadpoles polenta I could find on short notice was the pre-made Italian version.  It is a more dense, firmer version with what I find to be a slightly less corny taste than the home made from dry versions.  I don't know if this is an across the board Italian/Mexican difference or just what I have found so far.

So I followed the first few steps of the recipe for Mexican Lasagna adding a finely minced hot pepper to balance out the extra sweet I was going to be adding with the tadpoles polenta and instead of layering with corn tortillas and enchilada sauce I laid it all out in the pan and topped it with medium thickness slices of tadpoles polenta and topped with cheese.  I baked this at 375 for 20 minutes until the cheese was bubbling and browning in the corners.

I only thing that I wasn't really fond of was that the tadpoles polenta had only one texture.  It needed to have some variation.  There needs to me some crunch. It also needed more acid.  either a generous squirt of lime juice or I think some proper tomato salsa.  I served it with Mexican Rice and really simple guacamole.

2 ripe avocados
1 clove of garlic
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsps chopped cilantro
salt to taste

You really just squish everything together.  You can add something spicy like a minced jalapeno but I chose not to this time.

So more on tadpoles polenta - Since going gluten free most breakfasts have been dinner the night before with an egg on top.  Not super creative but it is 'you're really hungry and have about 20 seconds to get yourself fed so you can get what you need to do done before picking the kids up from school' creative...

So the morning after the night before (a great movie title) with some left overs, I tried to crisp up tadpoles polenta to be the base for some fried eggs.  I did this by frying the slices in a little butter before cooking the eggs...it was nice but still not enough.  This was a yummy and filling breakfast but not perfect.....I'll get it perfect