Living Simply

The holidays are fast approaching and I'm beginning to see bags of cranberries for sale in the grocery store!  I love making this cranberry relish recipie throughout the holidays -- it always reminds me of wonderful meals of celebration with family and friends.  And it's SO easy, especially if you use a food processor!

1 pound fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
   - put the cranberries in the freezer until frozen, they will be easier to chop.
1 large apple, coarsely chopped
    - I like using Granny Smith apples because of the tart taste and the green peel looks great!
1 large orange, coarsley chopped,  including half the peel
    - Peel the orange and chop it, then chop half the peel (you can use more peel if you want,  
      some people think using the whole peel is too bitter)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Mix it all together.  Add 1/2 - 1 cup sugar (sucanat) to taste.
Can be served immediately but tastes even better the second day!
This is one onf my favoirte recipies, especially to take somewhere.  It's easy and delicious!

Chocolate Applesauce Cake
Mix together by hand or using an electric mixer:
1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
1 1/4 c. sucanat (sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sour milk, buttermilk, or yogurt
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
Add in and mix well:
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder (the dark chocolate is my favorite!)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
Pour into 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
Cool and top with Never Fail Chocolate Frosting!

Never Fail Chocolate Frosting
Melt together in a small/medium sauce pan over medium-low heat:
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil)
3/4 c. sucanat (sugar)
Bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 c. chocolate chips.
Mix/Beat until creamy.
Spread immediately on cooled cake -- frosting hardens as it cools.
Covers one cake in a 9x13 pan.
Recipe can be doubled for extra thick frosting or for a layer cake.
There are so many kitchen gadgets, bowls, pots and pan, cookers, etc. out there a kitchen can quickly become a cluttered mess filled with rarely used specialty items.  The key to an uncluttered and easy to use kitchen is to determine what you really need and will use often.  I have a small kitchen and feel like I have plenty of space to store these items.

This is what I use often:
Pots, Pans and Baking Dishes
Small Sauce Pan (1 qt.)  with lid
Medium Sauce Pan (2 qt.) with lid
Large Sauce Pan (3 qt.) with lid
Large Stock Pot (I don't use this as often, it usually stores my daughter's toy food and pots and pans)
Muffin Pans (enough to make 24 muffins)
Stove Top Griddle
Bread Pans (2)
Cookie Sheets (2)
Bar Pan (cookie sheet with sides) (1)
15 inch skillet
12 inch skillet
5 inch skillet
9 x 13 cake pans (3) with lids
9 x 9 cake pans (2) with lids
2 qt. baking dishes (2) with lids
1 qt. baking dish (1) with lid
Kichen Appliances
Toaster Oven
Waffle Iron
Food Processor
Bread Machine
Crock Pot
Small Hand-held mixer
Kitchen Gadgets and Misc.
Large Mixing Bowl
Medium Mixing Bowl
Measuring Cups/Spoons
Can Opener
Vegetable Peeler
Wooden Spoons
Rubber Spatula (2 sizes)
Knives -- 2 paring, 2 other, 1 bread knife
Small Metal Spatula
Wire Wisk
Rolling pin
Cutting Boards (1 large, 1 small)

One thing I hope to add soon is a tortilla press.  I know you can make tortillas with a rolling pin, but I often don't because of the time it takes (especially with young children around), so this would be worth it to me.

I stick to stainless steal, stoneware, glass and cast iron for my pots/pans/baking dishes/etc. to avoid unwanted aluminum and other chemicals leaching into our foods.

What is in your kitchen that you use all the time and wouldn't be caught without?

In your local supermarket you can find many, many cleaning supply choices.  Many are even made for a specific task (toilets, tile, kitchen, etc.).  Some even claim to be "green" or "all natural".  I'm convinced that you don't need all these products and you especially don't need to devote an entire cupboard of space to cleaning supplies! 
Here is a list of what I keep in my home and use on a regular basis:

Vinegar -- a great all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant
Baking Soda -- great at getting "scum" off stuff
Bleach -- I only use this in the toilet bowl, I haven't found anything else that gets the toilet smelling really clean
UPDATE -- I've started to use oxygen bleach powder in the toilet bowl with great results -- no more chlorine bleach!

Scrub Brush -- for the tub/shower and tile grout
Scrub Brush -- for the toilet

Fill an empty spray bottle with vinegar and use it as an all-purpose cleaner.  Vinegar is a great disinfectant also, it just needs time to work.  So, I spray down my bathroom (toilet, sink, shower), close the door, go and do something else for 10 minutes -- fold a load of laundry, feed the baby, wash dishes -- then back to the bathroom to wipe it all down!  It also works great on mirrors (no streaks) and on disolving soap scum and hard water scum. 

I also use vinegar as a produce "rinse" -- put produce in a collander, spray, let sit, rinse, eat!

I sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of my bathtub and use the scrub brush to scrub away the soap and hard water scum ring around my tub.  Then I follow this up with a vinegar spray.

I'm just starting to become familiar with essential oils, so at some point I'll probably start adding essential oils to my vinegar -- this will also help with the "vinegar" smell!

What frugal and natural cleaning supplies do you use?
Meal prep is faster and easier if you have things on hand that you use often to create a variety of meals.  Also, the more you make from scratch, the less you have to keep on hand. Here is what I make sure to keep well stocked at my house.  I can make many meals from scratch that are healthy for my family, easy and quick to prepare and inexpensive.  We spend about $70/week on food and household items (TP, diapers, napkins, etc. ) for a family of four (! know, one is a breastfeeding baby, but I'm counting my husband as two -- he eats as much as two men!).

Baking Supplies                                                           
Whole wheat flour
Sucanat (Natural unprocessed sugar)
Various Spices 
Coconut oil, virgin                                        
Olive Oi, extra virgin                                                                                                            
Corn Meal                                                                              Baking soda                                                                                                                                 
Baking powder, alluminum free 
Sea Salt
Cocoa Powder
Chocolate Chips

Pantry Supplies
Natural Peanut Butter
Brown Rice
Honey, raw
Dried Beans -- black, red/kidney, garbonzo, etc.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Canned Fruits
Apple Cider Vinegar

Fridge Supplies
Applesauce, unsweetened                                                                        
Yogurt, homemade 
Parmesean Cheese 
Chunck Cheese 
Fresh Fruits (in season or what is cheap)
Fresh Veggies (in season or what is cheap)
Milled Flax Seed
Homemade Ranch Dressing

Freezer Supplies
Ground Beef/Venison
Berries -- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
Homemade pizza dough
Homemade chicken broth
Butter -- I stock up when it is on sale and store it in freezer until I need it.
Pureed veggies/fruit -- I use my food processor to puree fruits and veggies if we will not use it all before it goes bad; then I freeze it and add then to various recipes.

Supplies I used to keep on hand, before going "no nightshade"
Canned tomato sauce, no additives -- to make into pasta sauce, pizza sauce, soup, etc.
Shredded Cheese, pre-packaged -- they use potato starch to prevent clumping!
Challah bread is a traditional Jewish egg bread -- Often braided and brushed with egg and sprinkled with poppy seeds.
I make this bread into loaves and we use it for all our bread needs, mostly sandwhiches and toast.

I have a bread machine that makes a 2 lb. loaf and has a "dough" setting.  I use the bread machine to mix the dough and then divide it and into two pans and let rise one more time and then bake it.  I think the bread comes out much more moist and tasty than letting the bread machine bake it and it is still so easy!

This is the order I place ingredients into my bread machine:
1 1/2 c. water
2-3 Tbsp. coconut oil (or butter or olive oil)
1 egg
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (or 4 c. whole wheat flour and omit the milled flax seed)
1/2 c. milled flax seed
(You can experiment with adding other flours, just use 4 cups total flour/grains)
1/4 c. sucanat (or sugar)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. vital wheat gluton (you can omit this if you want)
2 tsp. yeast

Plug in the bread machine, set it to "dough setting" and press "Go"!  The dough setting on my bread machine takes 1 hour and 50 minutes.  When it is done I divide the dough in half, form into loaves and place in greased loaf pans.  I cover the pans with a dish towel and place in a cool oven with the light on.  I also place a pie plate of water on the rack under the loaves -- I leave it there for the final rise and during baking.  When the bread has doubled+ in size (a couple hours in a cool house).  I remove the dish towel and turn the oven on to 350 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes (I don't remove the risen loaves).  When done baking I cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan to finish cooling.

This dough can also be used to make cinnamon rolls:
I started going to BSF this year and I'm really enjoying it!  So, this is not an original thought from me but something that struck me from today's lesson.

Isaiah 6:2 talks about the seraphim worshiping in God's throne room.  Isaiah describes them as having six wings -- two to cover their face, two to cover their feet and two to fly with.

Here is the observation made during the BSF lecture:
- Two wings covering the face (God is too holy to look upon Him)
- Two wings covering the feet (A display of unworthiness)
- Two wings used to fly (using in service)
Are we spending twice as much of our time and engery in worship rather than in service?
Often I think we are so busy "serving" God that we don't have the time or energy to worship Him.

What do you think?
Unless one of your great interests is horiculture you probably don't know what "nightshade" is, although most of us consume many of them in our diets (even healthy diets) often each day.  Common nightshades that form an intrical part of many meals are: tomatoes, pepper (sweet and hot) and potatoes. 

My husband has suffered many years from what he calls "sore and stiff muscles".  He dislikes medical doctors and avoids going to them unless he is completely miserable (often for may days before he calls for an appointement).  He doesn't feel quite so strongly about chiropractors.  So, when he hurts so much that he can hardly move, he resorts to a chiropractor for an adjustment thinking that mis-aligned bones/joints are causing muscle stiffness and spasm. Often these adjustmens help a bit but not fully.  He has baffled more than one chiropractor. 

The most recent one gave him 20-30 minutes of stretches to do every morning before getting out of bed and any time he felt he needed to.  The next time he was "forced" to return to this chiropractor, he was amazed that my husband had been faithfully doing these stretches each morning for almost a year, and was still having the same pain and "stiffness" issues.  Because of his commitment to doing these stretches, he is very flexible but still feels like his muscles are "tight and stiff"...obviously they are not!

I kept telling my husband that we needed to do some research and find out why he was having pain -- that it was not normal.  His response was, "It's not?  I've had pain like this for so long that I forget that not everyone feels this way."  Well, we think we have finally at least started to figure it out!

Nightshade plants have a history of causing these problems in sensitive people!  It has been almost two weeks since my husband has cut out tomatoes, potatoes and peppers from his diet and he is feeling so much better!  This also explains why my husband has such a severe reaction to second-hand smoke (tobacco is a nightshade plant!)  We keep finding "hidden nightshade" in foods we regularly eat, so we will keeping looking and eliminating.

Some obvious (and not so obvious) nightshade in your kitchen:
Tomatoes -- fresh, sauce, dried
Peppers -- sweet, hot
Salsa (duh!)
Chili powder
Pimentos (green, pimento-stuffed olives)
Shredded cheese (pre-packaged) -- they use potato starch to avoid clumping!

So, I will continue to remove nightshade from our diet and our kitchen.  I'm hoping that as we continue to remove it and as his body has a chance to "detox" we will see steady improvement!

Here are some websites we have found useful:



Has anyone else found this to be true for them?
We finally took the plunge and traded in our microwave for a toaster oven.  We knew that the microwave was not a healthy choice for our kitchen, but the convienience of it kept it on our counter.  After receiving some money for my birthday, I decided that it was time to give up the "convienience" in favor of health. 

I have been pleased to discover that preparing food now is EASIER than before!  A few things take more time -- heating water and making oatmeal -- but I've gained easier meal prep and better tasting food!

We bought a Hamilton Beach Extra Large Counter Top Oven with Convection and Rotisserie.  It is only a couple inches taller than our old microwave and fits in the same spot on the counter.  I love that it holds two 12 inch pizzas (even though we haven't used it for pizza yet). and that is has a large, clear glass door -- I love the ease of being able to see my food cook/reheat and know when it is done!

So, even though my 2 year old is not liking the extra time it takes to make oatmeal on the stove in the morning, I'm enjoying the ease of reheating food and cooking in less time than using my oven.  It pre-heats much faster and with the convections setting, cooks much faster too!  I made the most wonderful baked chicken the other night in half the time it would have taken in the oven!