Monthly Archives: February 2013

Homeschool Memories: The Hans Herr House

Hans Herr House Front Door

Hans Herr House Front Door

Homeschooling was the way I was educated for most of my educational career. My favorite subject was history and part of the reason that I enjoyed it so much was we took field trips and made the places and times in our history books come alive!

When I was around 12 we started volunteering at the Hans Herr House the oldest house in Lancaster County (built in 1719), PA. I was too shy to do tours, but I sold tickets and souvenirs. As I got older I was trusted to go and open the house and grounds by myself. I loved this! In the cool of the early morning I would walk quietly around the grounds with my giant key to the house and daydream. In the quiet I loved to imagine that I was living back in the mid-1700’s after the Hans Herr House was built.

We didn’t just do the tours. There were several times during the year when they had special demonstration days and we would help out with those too. Snitz Fest was one of my favorites as I loved apples. (I am not a fan of banana apples though!) This was when the place was hopping with volunteers and visitors.

Me in my borrowed outfit!

Me in my borrowed outfit!

The Hans Herr House was not the only structure on the property. There is a working apple orchard, a smokehouse, a bake oven, a blacksmith shop, a kitchen garden and various other displays. I helped out with the bake oven a couple of times, but my favorite place to help was with an older lady who demonstrated making butter. Churning butter on top of a table so people could see was not easy, but the samples of fresh made butter were phenomenal!

Lunchtime was also popular with me because all the volunteers got some still hot sausages from the smokehouse. I don’t think I have ever tasted anything so tremendous. I would also visit the house where they were demonstrating making gumbis–a layered casserole with cabbage, sausage, apples, and ham. Sounds weird, but it was so delightful!

I was delighted when I was loaned an outfit to dress up like someone from the 1700’s. From my odd white cap on my head all the way down I don’t think I ever wore something so comfortable. The clothes were adjustable back then so you could wear them until they wore out! There were slits in the skirts so you could tie your pocket (the size of a purse) around your waist and always be able to reach it.

I often think about the Hans Herr House and I had an opportunity to visit again one cold November day in 2010 with my mom and small daughter. The bathroom in the gift shop was as cold as I remembered it and my daughter delightfully ran around the grounds just like I used to. The Hans Herr House is a bit of history that has been making memories for almost 300 years and is well worth a visit!

Back of the Hans Herr House

Back of the Hans Herr House

Photos courtesy of my Mom, Susan. Thanks Mom!


Menu Plan Monday: Week 2 Detox


Well last week was HARD! I was hungry ALL the time. The only way I could stay focused was to promise myself a large bowl of my “ice cream” every night/day.

Some of the recipes were positively nasty. I have permanently decided that raw ginger first thing in the morning is NEVER going to happen again. I skipped making the sweet potato stew in favor of making sweet potato fries. (No ketchup since I don’t have any sugar-free.) Sweet Potato Fries were something that the whole family could eat together because by Thursday two different meals was getting old. I went through a ton of veggies and yes, I did get tired of chopping and I think my husband got tired of taking the compost bucket out!

Surprisingly excellent in spite of the work involved!

Surprisingly excellent in spite of the work involved!

The highlights were the Antioxident Smoothie and the Berry Orange Smoothie. For lunch/dinner the Caluiflower Stir Fry was suprisingly excellent. (Probably would have been even better if I could have brought myself to put ginger in it!)

This week we’re doing things a little differently including adding in some of our favorite vegan recipes since we’re adding grains back in this week. Sundays are a “free” day–we can eat whatever we like, but try to keep it to stuff that won’t make the rest of the week real hard. Yesterday we celebrated my mom’s birthday so we had a bit more sugar than was good for us, but we didn’t have any gluten or dairy or alcohol or coffee.

Here is our plan for this week: (HOORAY FOR GRAINS!)

Breakfast: Antioxidant Smoothie
Lunch: Garden Enchilada Casserole, Tossed salad, Jello Salad, Lemon Meringue Pie
Dinner: DF SF Ice Cream, popcorn

Rest of the week:
Baked Sweet potatoes with Citrus
Banana “Oat” Pancakes (I will be substituting something for the oats since I can’t have them!)
Cardamom Quinoa Porridge (Since we don’t have Cardamom on hand in an effort to keep our budget down we’re substituting nutmeg)
Orange Berry Smoothie

Lentil Sweet Potato Bake
Grilled Salmon with Bok Choy
Roasted Veggies with Quinoa
Carrot Apple Ginger Soup
Perfect Veggie Burgers (over greens)
Cornmeal Crusted Fish with Parsley on Potatoes
Lemon Herb Sardine Salad

I’m linking up to Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie! Head over there to check out more menu plans!

Food Substitute: Oatmeal


Ancient-Harvest-Organic-Quinoa-Flakes-Gluten-Free-089121009020I haven’t always loved oatmeal. In fact, when my mom used to serve it to be for breakfast when I was a wee tad, I would look at it askance. It would take me a long time to eat that bowl of oatmeal. Playing with it helped a lot. The mound of oatmeal was an island, the butter was the river where the people got their water, and the brown sugar was their house. As the milk poured over the cereal there was a major catastrophe and the excessive rain (milk) started drowning the house. Then the wind started (my spoon!) eating away at the island until the people had to evacuate as there was nothing left. As I got older the oatmeal started to gradually look attractive. What wouldn’t be attractive about a warm bowl of cereal with butter, cream/milk, and brown sugar on it? Marriage put oatmeal on the back burner again. My hubby strongly disliked the stuff so I didn’t fix it often since I hate fixing one person meals.

And then I found out I was intolerant. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for although I didn’t eat bowls of oatmeal all the time I did use it for other things. Like this bread for one or this smoothie or even Apple Crisp. It was right in the middle of fall and I wanted my apple crisp and my other comfort fall foods! What’s a girl to do? I found a substitute and its even hubby approved!

These quinoa flakes worked great for apple crisp. I still had the buttery, brown sugar crunch on top of the apples, but none of the tiredness or upset tummy afterwards! They are more expensive (around $5 for a small box in my neck of the woods and on, but it takes me awhile to go through a box now that apple crisp season is over. They also worked great in the smoothie. I have yet to try them in the bread, but that bread is certainly worth finding a substitute for.

Grab a box of this ancient grains and give it a try! I don’t think you will be sorry for expanding your food knowledge!

Menu Plan Monday!


 photo mpm8-1.jpg

One of the first things I started doing when I found out I had to eat a meat-free, peanut-free, oat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free diet was menu planning. At one point I just wanted someone to tell me what to fix to eat because it was just so complicated. I found that without a menu plan someone was going to go hungry! Either I would know what to fix for me and have no ideas for the picky eaters in my family or I would start fixing stuff for them and I would be tired and have no ideas for my meal afterwards. In order to try to help out other people who need a more restricted menu plan I decided to join Organizational Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday!

This week is a little different as I work on a cleansing diet. I have been concerned about sugar consumption and although my health is millions of times better than it was a year ago I still think I could be doing better. I am following my own take on the Whole Living Action Plan which does not include caffeine, any sort of refined/added sugar, no processed foods, no dairy, no gluten, and no alcohol. While my normal diet doesn’t include most of these, I think it will take some adjustment to try all the new recipes and chop all those veggies! I will let you know how it went when I do next week’s menu plan!

Here is the plan:

Orange Berry Smoothie
Antioxidant Smoothie
Grapefruit, Carrot, and Ginger Juice
Mango Tahiti Smoothie
Cucumber Pear Juice

Lunches and Dinners:
Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew
French Lentil Salad
Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry
Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Salad
Roasted Portobellos with Kale
Cleansing Broth

My mom’s version of Portuguese Soup although I left out the rice as we’re not doing grains this week.
Fresh fruits
Dried nuts

Check out more menu plans at Organizing Junkie!

Taste Memories: Hot Cocoa


cardinal in snowDue to the cold front hitting Florida I’ve been thinking about hot cocoa! There is nothing like a warm drink when it is cold outside and nothing like chocolate anytime! Whipped cream or marshmallows are just extra.

Most of my school life except for one year of highschool I spent at home being homeschooled. This meant hot lunches almost everyday! One of my favorites that my mom would make when it was cold or rainy out was tomato soup with hot cocoa. It was warm, yummy, and most importantly chocolate tasting! I also remember the first time that my mom wrote out the recipe for me on an index card so I would know how to make it myself. I decorated it with a cold looking cardinal sticker and looked forward to the next time I got to mix up that yummy treat!

Thankfully, hot cocoa is easily adapted to dairy free. Just substitute almond milk! In fact, I think I almost prefer it to regular milk since almond milk is super creamy and yummy. Here is my mom’s recipe for Hot Cocoa:

Boil water. Mix 4 Tablespoons of cocoa powder (this is the best ever!) with a dash of salt, and your choice of sweetener. One of my current favorites is 3 Tablespoons of honey. The original recipe calls for 5 Tablespoons of white sugar. You will have to experiment to find what you think is the best amount of sweetener. When the water is boiling, add 1 cup of water to your mix in the pot. Put the pot on the burner and bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes. When the 3 minutes are up add 3 cups of almond milk (or your choice of dairy or non-dairy milk!) and stir and heat. When warm add vanilla to taste (1 teaspoon or more) and stir. Serve over marshmallows or pour in a cup and add coconut whipped cream. (To make the whipped cream put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight. When you open it take the creamy part out and start whipping it with your choice of sweetener to taste and vanilla to taste. Ta-da! Dairy-free yummy whipped cream!)

Added 1/7/2014: If you make coconut whipped cream you can add the leftover coconut milk/water instead of some of the milk for an even richer/creamier taste!

I hope that you will try this yummy treat and make your own hot cocoa memories!

Photo courtesy of Slack Pics via

The Saga of the Nesting Bowls


Cooking in the tiny apartment kitchen

Cooking in the tiny apartment kitchen

During our nuptials we were extremely blessed with all sorts of household gifts. One of those gifts was nesting bowls! I got three different sets and they were all different! Two sets were red, but one came with lids and the third set was glass. I found space to store them all in my tiny apartment kitchen and many were the Saturdays when I used one or more sets to mix up some culinary adventures. Thank goodness for a hero who comes in and does the towering stacks of nesting bowls when you have worn yourself out!

One of our amusements when we were first married was to browse discount stores. One weekend I hit the jackpot…a set of nesting bowls! This one was different–there were beautiful sunflower prints all over the outside. I mentioned them to my husband and because he liked to spoil me and (even against my anemic protests) they made it back to the apartment.

Now I had four sets of nesting bowls…which I dutifully packed up when we moved to our new house. I found places for all of them in my new bigger kitchen and looked forward to using them again after my baby was born.

I organized and moved stuff around my kitchen several times in the new house. Every time I moved stuff around those nesting bowls seemed to lose some of their allure. Culinary adventures had changed and were much more exciting when you only used one nesting bowl especially with a toddler underfoot. And then I started reading the book, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” and was challenged about my “stuff.”

So I decided to box up at least one set of nesting bowls and put it in the garage to see if I missed them. I completely forgot about them until few months later! I decided that I should donate them at that point.

A month later, I got convicted when I read an email about a friend that didn’t have any household dishes. I immediately thought of my glass nesting bowls! However, in spite of the fact that I had used them once in the past five plus years it was irrationally hard to let go of them. I fought with myself in my mind thinking everyone has nesting bowls and surely mine weren’t needed. Others were donating and I didn’t want to duplicate. And what if I wanted to start taking pictures of things I was mixing up for my blog? Glass nesting bowls would be perfect for that! And so I struggled until I finally gave in.

What a freeing feeling! I was still richer beyond belief and I had less stuff to take care of! I actually felt happier about helping someone then I did about storing those excessive amounts of nesting bowls!

So what about you? Do you own stuff or does your stuff own you?

Taste Memories: Coffee


Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata

I have wonderful memories of coffee! One of my first memories was when I would go out to breakfast in Portugal with my family and we would have Galãos with pastries. My choice of pastry was the “Pastéis de nata” (egg tarts).The creaminess of the coffee with the sweet pastries is forever embedded in my memory!

As I grew I developed a coffee habit. I remember freshly brewed coffee with cream and sugar being perfect first thing. Later, I tried to be healthier with half and half and no sugar, but the coffee remained. I enjoyed the times I sat with my mom and sister in the living room first thing in the morning. We didn’t talk, but just sitting there staring into space and drinking coffee together was enough for us.

When I got married it was hard to sit all alone and drink my coffee, but I still liked the taste, so I developed new memories. I got convicted about how addicted I was to caffeine and so I started to wean myself off of it. I never seemed to get further than half-caf until I got so sick during my first trimester couldn’t drink ANY coffee. The perk was I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms from giving up caffeine.

During the second trimester, I went back to drinking decaf coffee. When baby was born I thought about taking up caffeine, but the thought of a tired baby unable to sleep because of caffeine changed my mind.

When I realized I had bad reactions to dairy it was imperative that I replace the creamer in my coffee. First I tried coconut milk. It tasted okay, but there were grease spots on the top of my coffee since I used full-fat coconut milk. Next, I tried soy creamer. It was okay in looks, but the taste left a little to be desired. Then, I tried coconut creamer, specifically, So Delicious brand. I loved it! It looked and tasted a lot like half and half and I was quite happy until I started experiencing an upset stomach and then I read this PDF via Oh She Glows.

Next, I tried some almond/cashew cream. It had a nutty taste that seemed peculiar. Then I got sick from something else I ate. Coffee just did not appeal to me and since developing many food intolerances raised my awareness of the importance of listening to my body I gave up coffee for a while. After that, I started drinking it with my breakfast instead of on an empty stomach. This time I reached for something that I already had in my refrigerator: almond milk! I use the original type and on my mom’s recommendation I put just a tiny bit of coconut brown sugar in my coffee. Cow’s milk is much sweeter than other kinds of milk replacements. A little bit of sugar mimics the taste of half and half better than anything else. Now I can enjoy my favorite taste memories with a cup of coffee!

Photo courtesy of Jpatokal via wikipedia