Monthly Archives: August 2013

Homeschooling Memories: Visiting a Goat Farm!

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Cute goat pictures courtesy of Windmill Acre Farms

Cute goat pictures courtesy of Windmill Acre Farms


Visiting a farm can be a wonderful experience! Since the bulk of our homeschooling years were spent in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania we visited several different kinds of farms. We visited a dairy farm at one point and drove by numerous others wherever we went. One memorable visit was to a friend’s farm where they kept goats. My mom thought that the goat’s milk would help my asthma so we started purchasing milk from them. I’m not sure if it did or not, but we certainly went through a large amount of Nesquik to try to cover up the “goaty” taste.

One day we were invited to try to milk the goats ourselves. The goat smell (which defines description, but if you have ever been around goats you will know what I mean!) was even more pungent up close! Milking a goat is one of those things that looks easier than it actually is. After several tries I was able to squeeze some milk out and after the initial learning curve it got easier. My particular goat was soft and fuzzy and patient. I enjoyed milking her. I am thankful that I don’t personally have to deal with goats because they can be stubborn and hard to handle.

We visited the farm quite a few times. I was friends with the oldest girl who was my age. She was the oldest of 8 or 9 younger brothers and sisters. In the winter we enjoyed going to their farm for a sledding party. The place where we lived had no hills and their farm was nothing but hills! I loved sledding. Some of the party tried skiing, but I wasn’t brave enough to risk breaking one of my limbs. During the warmer months I enjoyed visiting my friend and doing other activities like walks in the woods behind her farm and helping with various chores. One thing we always seemed to be doing was laundry.

Cute baby goats!

Cute baby goats!

I’ve never really gotten over my dislike of goat’s milk, but until I found out I was intolerant I enjoyed other goat’s milk products from Windmill Acres Farm. One of the owners is extremely creative in making cheesecakes, cheese, and various other things with her goat milk. I can still enjoy the goat’s milk soap which has become my favorite natural soap.

Although you can’t visit and milk the goats like I did at the family farm (this is due to bio security and insurance reasons) you can visit the farm store during the week or visit a couple of different farmer’s markets or visit their website to purchase their various products. You can also connect with them and see cute goat pictures on their facebook page! The owners of Windmill Acres Farm take excellent care of their goats and their milk does not have the “goaty” taste that was so abhorrent to me. I’m hoping at some point I can enjoy their cheesecakes and goat cheese again!

Photos courtesy of Windmill Acre Farm

Menu Plan Monday August 26!

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What a busy week last week! My daughter loves school and can’t wait to get there in the morning so it’s usually not a problem getting her up and out the door, but it’s definitely an adjustment for me! I haven’t had to do that consistently since she was an infant and I was bringing her with me while I worked full-time. Whew! We finished out our busy week with a case of the sniffles which doesn’t make me delighted. I’m hoping she gets over them quickly so she won’t miss too much school. It was a good week food-wise with two favorites: the veggie enchiladas and the lentil sloppy joes! Yummy!

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family this week is breakfast for dinner. I LOVE breakfast for dinner. Everyone is so hungry in the morning that it is impossible to fix some of the fun breakfast foods like waffles and pancakes before the total collapse of someone from hunger! I’ve started putting a breakfast for dinner at least once a week as it’s an easy alternative to sandwiches plus we get to have the leftovers for breakfast for the rest of the week! This week we’ll either have some French toast or I’m going to try this a new pancake recipe from Gluten Free On a Shoe String.

I did it! Vegan Veggie Enchiladas!

I did it! Vegan Veggie Enchiladas!

I am going to make the plum butter from a few weeks ago! I finally found some CA plums on sale at the Farmer’s Market. For the rest I’m just going to try to keep up with school and work and keeping healthy meals on the table!

Sunday
Poached Eggs, Vegan Mocha Frozen coffee drink (adapted from here), Almond Banana MuffinsMy birthday dinner at my moms! We had Garden Enchilada Casserole, with a tossed salad. For dessert a super nice friend who makes cakes of all kinds made this cake for me for just the cost of the ingredients! I can’t wait to try another piece on my actual birthday!
Pretty full from lunch, so just random snacking for dinner

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Buckwheat granola
Eggs
Chia Pudding Not sure if it will be this flavor, but this is the general idea
Maybe french toast!
Pancakes, not sure what kind yet…
Leftover Banana Almond Meal Muffins
A smoothie. Probably strawberry kiwi with unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Lunch/Dinner:
Chef Salad
Sweet & Sour Shrimp Stir Fry (using this recipe for the sweet and sour sauce)
Chili and Corn bread
Strawberry Balsamic plus Goat Cheese salad (with cashew cheese instead of goat cheese)
Breakfast for dinner! Pancakes or French Toast is the question!
Grilled cheese
Grilled fish, remoulade sauce, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli
Pizza, salad
Smoothie, Popcorn
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Using Up Leftovers: Making Lemon Curd

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The finished product! I loved the vanilla bean specks!

The finished product! I loved the vanilla bean specks!

Every once in a while I make a recipe, say my favorite gluten-free bread, that uses egg whites and then leaves me with egg yolks to use up. There are lots of ideas of how to use up egg yolks: you can make scrambled eggs, use them to make French toast, add them to meat loaf…but the idea that stuck in my head a few weeks ago was lemon curd! Lemon curd is a custard that you would normally find in the middle of a lemon meringue pie (between the whipped whites and the crust) and just happens to be my favorite part of the lemon meringue pie.

Lemon curd is fairly easy to make–I used to make it all the time when I wasn’t dairy free. It tastes great on toast, on top of ice cream, in a miniature pie, on top of plain cookies, and my personal favorite with a spoon. However, it does require butter and I had just used up the last of my earth balance in some cookies I made. I did have some coconut oil that I thought would be a possibility. I decided to experiment even though I was worried about the coconut oil taste showing up in my lemon curd. (Not that it would be a bad thing, I just really like the lemon taste.) Apparently, other than adding the eggs too fast and getting bits of egg mixed into your curd (easily remedied by straining!) there is not a whole lot you can do to mess up lemon curd!

Lemon Curd

Adapted from Annie’s Eats
1/4 cup citrus juice (I only had one lemon so I used one lime to get the 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (can use regular sugar, but this gave the curd an extra yummy taste. Make your own vanilla sugar by putting split vanilla beans into sugar and mixing it up)
4 egg yolks
3 T coconut oil

Stir the lemon curd frequently!

Stir the lemon curd frequently!

Mix the juice, sugar, and eggs together over medium low heat. Add the eggs, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t heat too fast. Add the coconut oil a little at a time and keep stirring. Continue to cook until it thickens (you can see the path of your spoon when you stir–about the consistently of a slightly runny pudding). As soon as it’s thick remove from heat and push it through a fine mesh strainer. This will take care of any accidental egg chunks (yes, they are that gross!) and give you a smoother curd. Tastes wonderful hot, and terrific chilled. Keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge, but mine never lasts that long!

Menu Plan Monday August 19!

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School starts today! Part of my job as administrative assistant is that I get loaned to the school administrator where I work so I have been busy over the last week! I loved the zucchini grinders last week (I grated them instead of chopping in hopes that the picky eaters wouldn’t throw a fit, but that only worked with one of them!) and the quinoa salad which I ended up eating all by myself. I didn’t get anything extra cooked, but now that school starts I will have a morning once a week where I can do some extra cooking.

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Mom’s Plans this week is apples. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that most of the country is cooling down a little and that apples are already in season up north! Apples are a favorite around here and when they are on sale I frequently make an easy apple butter. Another apple favorite is Healthy Breakfast Apple Casserole and I will most definitely put that on the menu for next month.

My favorite breakfast from last week: chocolate chia seed pudding, banana, udi's bagel, and vegan mocha caramel coffee drink

My favorite breakfast from last week: chocolate chia seed pudding, banana, udi’s bagel, and vegan mocha caramel coffee drink

I don’t really have any goals this week except maybe to begin working on next month’s menus. Last month I had August’s menus all written down and it was delightful to just have to plan side dishes and do a shopping list every week! I will attempt to do that again for September.

Sunday
Fried Eggs, Udi’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread, cantaloupe
Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs with meatloaf sauce or meatloaf, baked potatoes, brussel sprouts
(I was amazed that my daughter refused to eat the meatloaf, but gobbled down the lentil meatballs. I don’t think I ever imagined my pickiest eater wanting to eat lentils!)
Veggies with hummus, canned herring, pickles, chips

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Buckwheat granola
Eggs
Chia Pudding Not sure if it will be this flavor, but this is the general idea
Pumpkin French Toast Sticks
Pancakes
Banana Almond Meal Muffins

Lunch/Dinner:
Sloppy joes–Regular for everyone else and I’m going to try this lentil version for me
Veggie Enchiladas using cashew cheese instead queso fresco and Dayia Cheese instead of cheddar
Avocado Salad
Pancakes and sausage for dinner–maybe I’ll branch out on the pancake recipe!
Grilled Veggie Wrap/sandwiches
Grilled cheese
Grilled fish, remoulade sauce, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli
Pizza, salad
Smoothie, Popcorn
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Mom’s Plans and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Organizing: One of my favorite things

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I have always loved organizing. In fact when I went back to reread my journal for some ideas for my Homeschool Memories posts I found more than one entry that said, “I cleaned my room today. My side of the room is neat and tidy. My sister’s is not.” That was usually the case during the times we shared a room.

box of glasses from my cabinet

box of glasses from my cabinet

I learned that not everyone is able to see clutter like I can. Something I am still learning about organizing is that the less you have the easier it is to organize everything. This is really the key to simplifying and organizing my house and life right now. For instance recently I realized that we weren’t using the set of glasses we got as a wedding present. So I got a box and packed all the glasses into it. It’s been months now and I have missed them a minimally. It’s been fun to use mason jars where I would have used glasses before.

Since we moved 4 years ago I have reorganized my kitchen probably 4 times! One when we moved just before my daughter was born, a year later when I realized that nothing was where I was using it, again around a year later when our microwave broke and we decided not to replace it. Some of my reorganizing has been brilliant including my: drink station!

At one point I realized that in order to fix a cup of tea or instant coffee I had to open 2-3 cupboards and walk across the room twice. Here is what I did to organize my tea things make things easier. My drink station definitely makes me smile!

My favorite mugs all in one place!

My favorite mugs all in one place!

My tea bags and my collection of reusable straws!

My tea bags and my collection of reusable straws!

Now my mugs are all in one place, right next to the tea bags. My glass straws are where I can grab them, but my preschooler can’t reach them! This cabinet is across the room from the stove, but it’s the right shaped cabinet for mugs/glasses so it works.

I used things I already had to organize my drinks. The tea bags are in a mental tin from the dollar tree, and the straws are organized in a mug that I didn’t have room for on the shelf, but didn’t want to get rid of. Before I gave up coffee regularly I had a mason jar with coconut palm sugar in there also and instant coffee “sticks” in with the straws.

The key to organizing is to not have more stuff then will fit (I had to weed through my mug collection to get it that tidy and weed through my tea collection!) and to put all the like things together. I hope this inspired you to make your own drink station or to organize that one thing that irritates you everyday!

Menu Plan Monday August 12!

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Well this past week didn’t go as well as the week before. I somehow got glutened when I went on a day’s shopping trip and it took 3 days to be able to get past the extreme pain and function again. Still tired, but at least I have some energy again. So I got some soup ready for the freezer, but no more breakfasts. And my daughter has been super in love with pancakes and sausages for breakfast that I am going to have to make another batch of those this week in order to have some in the freezer for school breakfasts. School starts this coming week! I am both happy and sad, but excited to start a new routine with my little princess.

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Gluten Free Goodness this week is snacks to plums. That is another fruit that just isn’t ever in endless in season supply in Florida since they don’t really grow around here. I do buy some to eat when they are in season in the grocery store, but that’s about it. However, the plum butter over on Gluten Free Goodness looks yummy so maybe I will branch out!

The goal for this week is similar to last week: extra waffles for the freezer, pancakes for the freezer (again!), and maybe a special snack for the first week of school. We’ll see how it goes as we have extra outings planning to keep the preschooler busy and sleeping!

Sunday
bread with chocolate almond butter, cantaloupe, chocolate milk
Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs over rice with some vegan mozzarella cheese on top (everyone else had shepherd’s pie, but I skipped because of the meat)
Breakfast for dinner: eggs, mushrooms, leftover pancake

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Buckwheat granola
Vegan Gluten Free Waffles (double batch!)
Blueberry Quinoa Breakfast Bars (some for the freezer)
Eggs
Smoothie, toast
Pancakes
Maybe: Banana Breakfast Donuts

Lunch/Dinner:
Mango & Coconut Rice Pudding
Zucchini Grinders using homemade spaghetti sauce from last week, dairy free cheese and Udi’s gluten-free hot dog buns
Quinoa Salad using pinto instead of black beans
Tuna Apple Salad
Melon Spinach Salad (topped with ham for the meat eaters, leftover baked tilapia for me)
Grilled cheese
Fish, rice pilaf, roasted broccoli
Pizza, salad
Smoothie, Popcorn
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Gluten Free Goodness and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Handy Kitchen Helper: Pepperplate.com

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How pepperplate.com looks on my desktop!

How pepperplate.com looks on my desktop!

I fully admit to being behind the times…I don’t own a smart phone! It’s not that I don’t like the technology, it’s just that I prefer to be frugal with my phone bill. Technology peaks my interest and so I was curious about the “apps” that everyone was talking about, but not enough to put my money where my curiosity was!

I did decide I would enjoy a kindle and in particular a kindle fire. It amused me that it had a touch screen as I remember watching Star Trek with my grandfather and thinking that touch screens would never happen! With my kindle fire I was able to enter the world of apps and I wasn’t that impressed until I came across pepperplate.com.

Pepperplate.com is a website and also an app that takes your recipes (sometimes even importing them automatically from popular recipe websites like allrecipes.com or even Pioneer Woman) and from them can help you generate menus and shopping lists. I’ve found the website works best for importing recipes, but I love the app for using my kindle fire to cook! You can bring up a recipe on the app and press the “cook now” button and the screen stays lit the whole time you are cooking. There are even timers in the app to help you time your mixing, or even your baking.

Before I stared using pepperplate.com I had paper clutter. I would see a recipe I wanted to try and while I tried not to waste paper I would frequently print it out. I like shiny new recipes on the screen, but I never get around to trying them all so the result was piles of paper that I would later have to sort through.

I also would routinely leave out an ingredient that I would need for a recipe or forget something that I had on my menu and therefore forget to purchase ingredients. It’s a job hazard of being a mom to small child who likes lots of attention! Now with pepperplate.com I can even take a digital grocery list to the store with me if I would like, but I can certainly scroll through the generated shopping list to make sure I don’t leave anything out. Shopping with the app isn’t my favorite option because it doesn’t stay lit and my daughter is always wanting to grab my kindle, but it is handy to have someone look through my recipes and make out a shopping list for me!

Another perk is that it makes my Menu Plan Monday posts a breeze! That would be a hard blog post to write with all those links to recipes, but pepperplate.com keeps them all organized and I can access them with a click of a button!

It’s a free app, so if you are looking to simplify your life (if you don’t have to have a smart phone or tablet–you can use the website!) just click over and give it a try. Let me know what you think!