Two Summer Slaws

IMG_5858Asian Summer Slaw

You’ve basically already got the recipe for this one if you read my Garlic-Ginger Kale-Sweet Potato Salad post of a few days ago. It’s the same dressing, so hopefully you have some of that still in your fridge. Only difference is you use chopped (or shredded) cabbage (asian, red, green, combination of colors) and red bell peppers instead of kale and sweet potatoes (I’m telling you, this dressing will keep your kids eating raw cruciferous veggies all summer–or year, for that matter–long!). That’s it–those are your ingredients. Add chopped up almonds (we like the sprouted ones) or peanuts. You can add cilantro or basil too (did you know that cilantro is a great sugar-and-insulin-regulator? Not to mention, rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and phenolic acid compounds, all of which contribute to fighting inflammation and free radicals? Basil is also a great antimicrobial/antibacterial herb). Garnish with extra cilantro leaves (or mint!).

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Quick Lacto-Fermented Cole Slaw

Ingredients:

1 large head of Cabbage (red, green, combination), well chopped, or grated
approximately 1 cup of whole fat plain (preferably raw) kefir or yoghurt

1 medium to large red onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, finely diced
lots of fresh dill (or dried if you can’t get it), to taste

approximately 1 cup of whole fat (preferably raw) sour cream (or creme fraiche)
a few T of fresh squeezed lemon juice and/or raw apple cider vinegar (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
a tiny amount of stevia, to taste (optional)
Combine cabbage and yoghurt in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Mix well until cabbage is thoroughly coated. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour, then cover and place in fridge. Leave overnight, then stir until re-coated. Cover again and leave in fridge for another 24 hours or so. Then add all other ingredients, mix well and enjoy.

IMG_5854The countdown to the end of Kung Fu camp is on… Two more days.
I’ve ended up having to help out more than I thought I would, so haven’t had nearly as much time as I’d wanted to get stuff on here. As I sit here in my cubicle at the Kung Fu school, I am trying not to worry frantically about the fact that I have massive amounts of herbs that desperately need to be harvested back at home. Worried I’m going to lose the rest of my chamomile and red clover, due to the incessant rain we’re having;worried my milky oats and rose hips are just going to rot. Just have to hope for the best…
I’m also hoping we get enough time this weekend to pick and freeze blueberries and boysenberries that seem to be ripening rapidly (and early!) this year (one of the benefits of the unbearable heat, humidity and excessive rain, I suppose). We managed to get them all netted this year, so won’t lose any to birds. (We didn’t manage to get our elderberries netted. I thought we had a couple more weeks, but the birds ate them all unripe, which I was totally not expecting. Got enough elderflowers to make tincture, thankfully!) We’ll have two days to get all of this done before my daughter and I take off to the Cape to visit family and go surfing (such as it is on the east coast in summer), plus making home-made chocolates and grain-free/sugar-free banana bread for our trip (check out this recipe I found–I had to modify it a bit to make it lower sugar;I’ll get my modified version up on here soon), so she has some healthy treats that she loves when her cousins eat ice cream, etc.

OK, will get a few more recipes up before the end of the week. Have to get back to researching computer animation programs for my daughter. She’s decided she really wants to make movies out of her drawings and photos, etc. Being a complete Luddite, I know absolutely nothing about this, so have messages out to all my illustrator/computer graphics friends to try to find how to go about this. If anyone (homeschooling moms out there?) has any suggestions for me, please write!

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

IMG_5901This is such an old recipe, and I’ve seen many versions of it. It’s quick and simple, and can be part of a nutrient-dense meal, or served as appetizers. Make sure you get good organic pastured bacon if you can (local farms, farmers’ markets, good butchers, etc).

Ingredients:

6 slices of bacon, cut in half
12 medium-sized scallops (or 6 large, cut in half)
approx. 5 T butter, melted
as much garlic as you want (a few cloves), minced or pressed
salt and pepper
12 toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lay the bacon out on a flat baking pan and bake it for about 10 minutes each side. You want it to really start cooking, but still be pliable. Remove from oven and lay on a plate to cool to the point that you can touch it without burning your fingers.
Pour most of the leftover bacon fat out of the baking pan (strain and save it–it’s great for cooking everything, or making mayo out of (recipe soon).
Add the garlic, salt and pepper to your melted butter. (You can keep some of this aside to pour over at the end.)
Dip each scallop piece into the garlic butter. Thoroughly coat each one.
Then wrap each scallop with a piece of the bacon and secure it with a toothpick (make sure toothpick goes all the way through the whole scallop and bacon on each side, so it doesn’t fall apart in the baking).
Place each scallop onto the greased baking pan.
Bake until scallops are done and bacon is starting to crisp a little (approximately 20 minutes).
Remove from oven, arrange on plates and pour remaining garlic butter over all.
These are also delicious with a chipotle mayo, for which I will try to get a recipe up soon.

 

Sesame-Garlic Kale-Sweet Potato Salad

IMG_5691The key to the delicious taste of this one is the dressing, which is actually very simple, and we use it on lots of other veggies (sauteed broccoli is a favorite). It’s a great way to get kids to eat lots of garlic and ginger when they’re sick, too.
You can also have the dressing with just kale, to keep it really low carb. For the most part, we avoid sweet potatoes, but I’ve found that the small amount of sweet potato per serving in this doesn’t spike my daughter’s sugar.

Dressing ingredients:

1 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4–1/3  cup olive oil (make sure it’s extra virgin, organic)
tons of garlic, minced
approximately a 2″ X 2″ piece of fresh ginger (or more to taste), grated
1/8 cup rice vinegar
2 or 3 T tamari (make sure it’s organic–you don’t want to get any GMO soy)
1 scoop KAL organic stevia (or 1 tsp raw honey if you’re not doing really low sugar/carb)

Shake all ingredients together well in a jar. This makes quite a bit of dressing, not just enough for this salad. It’s always good to have around, and keeps really well for a long time in the fridge (though ours usually gets used up within a few days).

Other ingredients:

1 medium-sized bunch of kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 medium to large sweet potato, also chopped into small bite-sized pieces
Coconut oil or Olive oil

Preheat oven to just below 325 F if using olive oil;just below 350 F if using coconut oil.

Toss the sweet potato with olive oil, then roast in oven until pieces just start to brown. Remove pieces onto a plate and let cool. They will become a little chewy. Once cool, combine sweet potatoes and kale together in a large bowl. Add as much of the dressing as you want and toss until veggies are all coated. Julienned red bell peppers are also good in this salad, and add some great color.

 

Kung Fu Camp Week

This week I am sitting in a tiny, approximately 7 foot X 5 foot airless room in my daughter’s Kung Fu school, every day, all day so I can monitor her sugar and insulin levels while she attends Kung Fu camp with her friends and fellow practitioners. I could focus on how unbearably hot I am, on how stinky and stifling the air is in here (think 98 degrees, 20 kids aged 5 to 17 running around non-stop in a 20 X 30 foot space with low ceilings and one small window), or on the fact that there is no chair for me to sit on, no outlet for me to plug my computer into, so what am I going to do when the battery gets too low, which will be in about 1/2 an hour, at which point there will still be 4 and 1/2 hours to go…? However, I am choosing to look at this as a kind of zen experience. I am going to work on my blog; something I never get a chance to do (I swear I am going to find an extension cord;at least bring one tomorrow!). I am maybe going to be able to do a little bit of my pilates work. I am remembering times and places in which I was way hotter than this (Indonesia, southern Mexico, Morocco). If my daughter’s sugar is holding steady and I know she won’t get low, I might go for a walk, plus there’s a rumor they may go practice in the park in the afternoon, where I won’t be able to work on the computer, but at least there’ll be a breeze, and by that time I will be more than ready for it. So, ready, set, go! Some more recipes to follow…

flourless gluten-free sugar-free brownie-truffles

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My new favorite ingredient discovery is Creamed coconut (not to be confused with coconut cream). I found it at our local co-op, but if you can’t find it, I’m sure you can order it online.

Anyway, so, this is a very simple recipe, once you have your creamed coconut. I’ve seen a few versions out there, but all with sugar of one sort or another.

Ingredients:
1 package (7 ozs) unsweetened creamed coconut
3/4 cup unsweetened chocolate chips or pieces, or 6 ozs worth of chocolate bars (either homemade chocolate, unsweetened bars or 85% cocoa is what we use)
1 to 2 T raw cacao powder (or good quality, organic, non-alkaline cocoa powder)
2 tsp vanilla extract and/or 2 tsp almond extract or orange extract (orange oil also works wonders here!)
2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 to 8 scoops of KAL organic stevia (optional) (we actually like this with or without stevia. The creamed coconut has a pretty sweet taste to it, but we also like very dark bitter barely-sweetened chocolate, so experiment according to your taste buds. If you’re someone transitioning from sugar, you may be surprised to find that after a few weeks you won’t need to add any extra sweetener). In the picture above, we made them without stevia, but sprinkled a tiny bit on top of each one, which tasted great!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with parchment-paper muffin cups.
Melt the chocolate bars/chips and creamed coconut together in a double boiler, whisking occasionally. Once this is all melted together, remove from burner and add the rest of the ingredients, continuing to stir. As soon as you add the eggs, the mixture will thicken a lot, so you may want to add them last.
Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 1/2 an hour, then cool on a plate for another 15 minutes or so, then cool in the fridge until cold. These will be a little crumbly until you get them fully cooled down, at which point they become completely stuck together and kind of soft-hard like a cross between brownies and truffles! Enjoy!

Six months later (can it be?!)

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OK, well, here I am, after 6 months that somehow have escaped me. I feel I should at least apologize for disappearing, especially to the handful of readers/acquaintances that have been emailing me asking me to please get some new recipes up. I am truly sorry. I will start trying to get stuff up here again.
Not that I’m making excuses, but my explanation:I started homeschooling my daughter (who’s now seven) in January. After spending eight months or so, last year, being at her school all day, five days a week, to train a paraprofessional in dealing with all her diabetic issues, the director of the school informed me, on the last day of school last spring, that the para would no longer be available to keep an eye on my daughter for most of the day;they just couldn’t raise enough money. (Keep in mind [I think I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog before] that we live way out in the hills, and our local school is a small, private, independently-run, fund-raiser-financed school that was kept going initially by a group of parents when our district closed our local public school a few years ago, due to lack of funding. They have no federal or state funding [so no nurse;no 504 plans, etc], and stay open each year by the skin of their teeth, the generosity of one rock-star dad and his amazing wife and family, and a whole lot of hard-working parent volunteers. The nearest district public school to us is a good half-hour drive one way, or a 45-minute-to-an-hour ride, mostly out of cell-phone range, on a school bus;not an acceptable alternative for a diabetic kid. That’s the context here…) So, I was informed by the director that the para I had just spent an entire school year training would now be in Vini’s classroom for only two hours each morning, and after that either Zeke or I would need to be at the school, or we could take her home and homeschool her for the rest of the day. So, we tried partial homeschooling, meaning  scrambling to get Vini to school by 8:30, after sometimes having been up most of the night monitoring her insulin/sugar;dealing with her breakfast and breakfast insulin;staying at the school until 9:15 AM, at which time the para would show up in the classroom;racing home to try to get some work done while constantly texting back and forth with the para (who, even after a year of training, did not feel fully comfortable monitoring Vini), often from areas of our property where it was difficult to get phone service, which meant walking away from whatever work we were doing at the moment to try to find a spot we could text from;racing up to get to school by 11:30 AM when the para went to lunch, to sit in the last half of math class;staying at school for recess and lunchtime, so Vini could have some social time (even though this “social time” was very regimented);then leaving at 12:30 (right after lunch) to go home or to one of Vini’s extracurricular activities. We did this for all of last fall, which was unbelievably stressful for us. In December we made the decision to fully homeschool.

Now it has been one full semester, and I won’t say it has been easy. I will say, however, that I don’t think we’ll ever go back. Vini has learned more in the last five months than she learned in 2 and 1/2 years of school. She is reading years beyond her grade level, doing math about a year ahead, has learned a lot of history, geography, mythology, cultural studies, science, music and art that she never would have acquired in school. She’s discovered many interests, has learned how to do research on her own into subjects she’s passionate about, and best of all, went through this entire horrible cold and flu season without getting sick once! She’s actually getting enough sleep! She has a couple of groups of homeschooling friends, and in general a much broader and more meaningful social life, including a few intimate friendships of the kind she never really had the time to establish when going to school took up so much time out of each day and week. She is thriving. A lack of diabetes care led us to the decision to homeschool, but the incredible community, freedom, artistic and academic exploration we’ve discovered is keeping us here.

This is the upside. The downside is that, needless to say, my book is on hold indefinitely, and any chance of me getting back into my painting studio in the near future is looking pretty slim. Obviously, homeschooling is a full-time job for me. Zeke does his part, but he’s the one now working outside the property at least some of the time (though we have many money-making ventures starting to come together ON the property [plugging our maitake, shitake and reishi logs this week!]), plus starting a business, so 99% of the schooling is my job. This includes doing Vini’s academic stuff for a few hours each morning, taking her to Kung Fu classes, art classes, spanish class, piano, science classes and field trips, homeschool group get-togethers, reading group, ice-skating, the list goes on… We happen to live in an area where there are quite a number (ever-increasing, as intelligent parents become disillusioned with the public school system) of homeschoolers, and a diversity of activities and classes (many very affordable) available. I’m presently in the middle of writing up my first year-end evaluation for the district, making sure it is comprehensive without going overboard. As one of the district administrators kindly reminded me:the evaluations/progress reports I write in these years will be my daughter’s transcripts in case she decides (or we decide) that she is going to re-enter the system (doubtful!) for high school, or even middle school (5 years away). Or, if she continues to homeschool straight through, these early elementary-school progress-reports are practice for when I have to write her high school reports that will be her transcripts for college. So, well, you get the idea:it can’t just be a scribbled note.
That’s just today’s task for me–In the last 5 months I’ve gone through ancient history; helped Vini take probably ten to twelve books a week out of the library delving into various aspects of ancient history and mythology/folklore, etc, that she loves;I’ve continued to teach her grammar and writing (organizing thoughts on paper), gone through first and 1/2 of second grade math (the Singapore curriculum–NOT the way I learned math back in the dark ages);taken her on numerous educational excursions, and painstakingly gone over everything with her, including homework from her various classes. The kid has a voracious appetite for learning, so on the one hand I’m lucky, and on the other, I can barely keep up! Anyway, it has been a learning experience for me, to say the least, and every day is a new joy and a new challenge. We aren’t really “breaking” for the summer–she is going to kung fu camp for part of the summer, and I will have to be there every day;we have LOTS of work going on here on the property, but we will be slowing down and getting over to the family, to the beach, to swim and surf, etc., so I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to write a little bit in here (and maybe even work on the book!).

Some good recipes to follow…