20 June 2007

News from Ezekiel's Garden...

It is with great sadness that we have to share sad news with happy news. It is also the reason for the name change from Ezekiel's Garden to Joy Comes in the Mourning. David James "Garden" was born May 5, 2007. He was born at home into his daddy's arms because the midwives were 5 minutes away. It was a truly wonderful experience, however nervewracking it was at the time. The sad news is that he was infected with Group Beta Streptococcus and passed away due to overwhelming sepsis just 30 hours after his birth. I will post the story in greater detail at a later time. Through the Lord's tender care and merciful planting of us in a wonderful church, we are pressing on. There are sad days and happy days. Most days are just "okay." However, we are discovering that joy truly does come from mourning, and our Eternal Hope is the means through the pain to that joy.

26 July 2006

We're moving

Over the course of the next week, I am going to be moving my posts over here. Keep checking over there, and I'll let you know when I start posting over there full-time.


WFMW - July 26 (Making Stock)

Hello! It's time, once again, for Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

Now, I love to cook, and I have fallen in love with the more expensive, better tasting aseptic boxes of broth. Every once in a while, it's okay, but usually they are too expensive for me to buy as many as I need, especially during soup season, which encompasses all but the hottest part of summer. To remedy that, I switched to a more whole foods, less prepared foods way of doing things, which didn't really add all that much work to my food prep, but more on that later, if you want.

So, I now had bones and chicken/turkey carcasses to dispose of, and always veggie parings leftover. Since I don't have a compost bin yet, I was throwing them away. Until, one day, I read about how to make stock and use up those bits and bones and all. It's really simple, and I wish I had done this a long time ago. Are you ready? Okay.

Keep two 1-gallon or 2-gallon freezer bags in your freezer. Label one poultry and one beef. You could do a third for pork, if you wanted to have some pork stock for ham and beans, but just using water with ham hocks are my mode. In each bag, put some of your veggie scraps. I put in leftover bits of certain herbs (thyme, sage, used bay leaves), carrot ends, celery trimmings, onion ends, sometimes garlic papers, leek tops, squash ends, green bean bits, etc. I also put in any bones from either before or after cooking, putting them in the appropriate baggy. A few days before you need the stock, or when your bag gets too full, make the stock.

Making stock is really simple. You empty the contents of your bag in a big pot (or sometimes I use my BIG crockpot), pour in a bunch of water, add salt and some peppercorns, maybe some whole garlic cloves, adjust herbs, if desired, and add a splash of apple cider vinegar, about 2-4 Tbsp. The acid in the vinegar helps bring out the calcium from the bones, which adds a nutritional punch to your stock without affecting the flavor. Another nutritional boost that I sometimes do is to add a strip of kombu (seaweed) and/or some dried mushrooms, but that is more for the cold season and immune boosting. Bring it all to a boil, then simmer on the lowest heat for at least 2-4 hours, skimming any foam from the top. For my crockpot, I put it on low for 12-24 hours, which gives it such a deep taste.

When you are satisfied with your stock, pour it off into a container (I have 2 sterilite pitchers that I use for this), and let cool. If you stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours, any fat will rise to the top and you can easily skim it off. If my bags get too full, I'll make the stock then stick the pitchers into the freezer like that because they are so sturdy. One thing I do to help the strain-off process, which is the most time-consuming and messy, IMO, is to put a square of fabric inside a colander and pour through that.

Other uses for your yummy new stock include making your rice, couscous, potatoes, etc. with stock instead of water. Delicious!!!

It's easy. It's delicious. It's very nutritious. And, it works for me.

25 July 2006

Ahh! Little boys are so funny

For some time now, Bubba, who is a very curious 5 year old, has been wondering about "Egypt." In his mind, this is a place of mystery, myth, and adventure. It is the place of Indiana Jones, Jonah, and Jesus, so evidently it is the Holy Land in general. "Egypt," it seems, is on another planet and a bit heavenly in character, too. It has been really funny seeing him try to figure out just where "Egypt" is, and how it fits in with our lives.

Here are a few of his questions regarding Egypt.
~ Mom, in Egypt's world, do they get hurt? 'Cause in Nineveh, they do get hurt.
~ Hey, Mommy, what do they use to measure in Egypt?
~ Is Tarshish in Egypt, too?

I can see where we are going to have a lot of fun doing some minor geography this fall, especially given his interest in that area.

Another geographical area of interest is China and India. We eat Chinese food probably at least 5 times a month, so they are familiar with it. Indian stars at least once a month, if not more often. The poor little guy gets Chinese, ethnic Indian, and American Indian all confused. Tonight he was practicing his "Indian exercises" so he'd be ready when HOH brought home the Chinese food (Daddy's night to cook). I could barely keep a straight face.

Teflon, the baby, is also a funny little guy. While weeding in the garden this evening, he wandered into the lot next door. This is usually fine, because they are still building the house, and there isn't anything to hurt him there. There is, however, much goopy, gloppy mud near where the sump pump pipe drains out (I can't wait until they bury the thing!!!). I found this out because he was squealing and having a grand old time. His brand new baby shoes had a 2-inch thick coating of mud all over them. His little diaper was also very muddy, and he had mud caked all over his legs. Thank goodness for Bubba's help. When we got in the house, he started the bath water and got it the right temperature for baby.

Timex was also in rare form this evening. He had spent a large portion swinging outside, but when HOH went in, he followed. After we got in and Teflon bathed, we came in and showed HOH his war wounds (skinned his nose trying to escape outside again). Liam pipes up from the computer chair, "Go 'way. It's Liam time." HOH had put in a DVD in the computer and he got to watch Indiana Jones on the computer. It was so cute to see that little guy up in the big computer chair, and also hearing him defend his time alone with "Dad."

19 July 2006

WFMW - July 19

In honor of sick kiddoes, I'm going to review our diarrhea protocol.

Depending on the type of runnies we have, our treatment methods change. For acute cases that last maybe half a day, we usually just treat with nutmeg and eat lighter foods.

However, for cases like the poor little guys, we usually change the diet fairly radically for a few days.

We put them on the BRATY diet.
  • Bananas
  • Rice (with a small amount of honey, Earth Balance margarine, and rice milk)
  • Applesauce/apples
  • Toast (sometimes dry Cheerios too)
  • Yogurt (optional, depending on which end/s are affected)

We also do gatorade, diluted white grape juice, or herbal tea (both chamomile and mint are tummy soothers).

We put cinnamon and nutmeg into the applesauce (sometimes rice, too), since only Bubba can swallow capsules.

One fun way to get the bananas and yogurt down the kids is to make a smoothie with some honey or maple syrup.

For their poor sore bums, witch hazel compresses after wiping help, and I've also been known to put some of my homemade diaper cream on it, too.

Finally, we read books, watch movies, and listen to audiobooks while resting.

Works for me!

17 July 2006


I just have to share some of our family current events.

~Finalizing homeschool ideas for fall
~Organizing house and routine for getting it clean (http://www.largefamilylogistics.com)
~Becoming more strict on daily read-aloud time

~Matthias has new shoes, which are so very very cute!
~Tommy is really interested in Bible stories and "heroes" of the Bible
~Liam is singing Gaither Vocal Band songs ("God is good, all 'a time, He good all 'a time!")

~Eating very small amounts of cheese (big deal!!! Can't wait to add in some cheesy cream soups this winter!)
~Starting his own business with a friend from church - the Lord is blessing this in that both men are now self-employed and supporting our 2 families.

~Reading or listening to the audiobook of "Hank the Cowdog" series by John Ericson.
~TV back downstairs in the armoire - have only seen 2 movies on it in the week it's been down there
~Hiding from the heat during the day, but in the garden in the evening - lots of baby cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and beans - can't wait until they're ready to harvest! :)

What are you currently doing?

12 July 2006

WFMW - July 12

All my good ideas have left me, but I managed to come up with something...

HOH is allergic to dairy products, although we are finding that he can eat a tiny amount of cheese or other cultured dairy about once a month (after almost a year of dairy-free cooking). So, I had to change my cooking significantly in a hurry. Here are some things that have really really helped me in our quest for DF foods for him.

The staples of our pantry, at least where it concerns HOH.

Earth Balance in the tub for buttering toast, sauteeing, etc.
Earth Balance sticks for baking
Olive oil or canola oil
Coconut oil
Coconut milk (Indian, Thai, or desserts)
Rice Milk (cereal)
Unsweetened soy milk ("cream" sauces, soups, etc)
Silk Creamer
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (it truly is, even for this cream cheese lover)
Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream (trans-fat free, although its sister product Sour Supreme isn't)

These form the basis of our family meals. This is even to the point of using the Earth Balance sticks in place of butter for shortbread and other baked items (even though there are dire warnings on the recipe about substitutions). By the way, nearly all margarines have dairy in them, but Earth Balance and Smart Balance do not.

One of our favorite desserts is to take a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and use coconut milk in place of cow's milk for bread pudding - yummy!!! Another thing is that the unsweetened soy milk makes a wonderful base for cream soups, especially clam or corn chowders.

I have to read labels religiously, but most labels now have allergenic ingredients highlighted in some way. Aside from the obvious milk, milk solids, butter, etc, we also screen for whey, casein, and words with derivatives such as lact- and casein- in them.

I have recently branched out into trying to make my own dairy-free cheese substitutes, as the ones on the market are either nasty or have casein in them. My favorite recipe is the Lesserella recipe here. I have used it quite successfully in a Mac "un" Cheese recipe that HOH raved over (his greatest regret of being dairy-free is the lack of mac and cheese). I look forward to trying the other recipes as time goes on.

It's what "works for me"!!!

05 July 2006

WFMW - Jul 5

Here it is, time for another Works for Me Wednesday, and even though I had intended to post something other just my WFMW tip this week, somehow time slipped past me.

On to my WFMW tip. My family is nuts over eggs. We go through about 4 dz eggs each week for our family of 5. That's a lot of eggs!!! One thing we do that uses up so many eggs is to eat egg salad sandwiches. I'll hard-boil at least 1 dozen and them make them into egg salad. While I'm still perfecting the whole hard-boiling process, I do have a good tip for mashing the eggs. Sometimes, I use my pastry blender. It allows me to get my eggs as fine or as coarse as I want. Another tool that I use more frequently is my potato masher. Its holes are perfect for the consistency we want in our egg salad. Because it is plastic, cleanup is a breeze too - just a run under some really hot water, a drop of soap swished around, and a rinse.

That's my WFMW tip!!

BTW, my family secret for our standard egg salad is to add a small spoonful of miracle whip to our mayonnaise for a hint of sweet/tangy. We also jazz it up on occasion. Mashing in 2 avocadoes with 3 eggs and 2 Tbsp of mayo, 2 Tbsp of lemon juice (keeps the avocadoes greener), and some finely chopped onion or chives makes a great dip. For a southwestern flair, some ground cumin is good in egg salad (with or without the avocadoes). We also like to put curry powder in it sometimes.