Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crafting Frenzy

We're off and running again with our crafting. Yoav wanted to do some finger knitting this morning and I pulled out my quilt design and a few quilting books and, well, other than eating, we spent the rest of the day crafting ;)

Here's Yoav's finger knitting (he actually made two dolls with finger knit bodies, finger crochet arms, finger knit heads and a few knots for feet). A bit messy-looking, but they were all his design and doing other than me tying the extremeties to the body.



He made a bunch of quilt designs while I was looking through my quilting books:



Later while Yoav and Elie were playing in the playroom, I snuck away to make a quick ribbon blanket. I got it all cut while they were playing and sewed it up with Elie on my lap. I love how this one turned out - I used 8oz flannel from Organic Fabrics Plus and, though I love sherpa, this was easier to work with and came out straighter and is really just as soft and cozy for a baby.



Once Yoav saw me doing that, he started making a little quilt. He sewed circles onto the white fabric using the sewing machine and then sewed a second piece of white fabric to the first "so it was like a real quilt".



And, finally, once the kids were asleep, I cut fabric for the baby quilt I planned out and made one row to see how it looks. I'm happy with it. I feel like it might look better with the center squares bigger, but I'm certainly not going to change it for this quilt. Maybe if I like how it turns out, I'll change some minor dimensions for a second one to compare.

Baby Quilt Design

I've been totally off the sewing wagon for months I think. I've been trying to focus on our rhythm, food and, of course, the holidays...

Meanwhile, I'm missing the sewing. I've been knitting, which helps, but it meets a different need. I like to knit while the kids are playing. That way, my Presence is felt, but I'm not involved in the play. It's perfect. And it's very calming for me, especially to do simple projects with natural yarns. I just finished these little hats for my nephews who are due in May and June. I used Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton, my favorite yarn to knit - I love the way it feels between my fingers as I knit.

I just finished these little hats for my SILs who are both due with boys in the next two months! Note that one is much bigger than the other even though I used the same newborn pattern for each - that's what happens when Yoav sees a cute baby hat and decides to attach a string to go under the neck and try to get it on his own head! Oops. So no longer newborn, but still for a baby ;)



There's a baby blanket I really want to make from the Louisa Harding book as well. Of course I have the problem of where to buy the yarn. I found this online yarn store that has organic cotton yarn, but I'll probably get some o-wool balance (blend of organic cotton and wool) for the blanket.

Anyway... So as much as I love knitting, I'm missing sewing. Last night I started thinking about making a baby quilt for either a SIL or a friend who's due in June. I really love thinking about how to put the fabrics together and quilt patterns. I had been thinking about making myself a skirt, which would probably take me no more than an hour or so, but I find myself drawn to quilting. I feel like sewing clothes is more "productive", but there's also the issue of my mental health and since I find peace in quilting, I'm going to try going back to that for a bit. Clothes are so cheap these days, it's not even worth making your own clothes unless you enjoy it.

So.. I designed a baby quilt and planned out the fabrics. On my hand-drawn pattern, the blue represents the turquoise polka dot pattern fabric and the green is the greenish polka dot. Then the inside squares will be the bird fabric and mushroom fabric. The striped fabric will be the border. The fabric is Cloud 9 organic cotton that I purchased on Etsy from Modern Organic Fabrics (I highly recommend it - the woman who runs the shop is really nice and offers free shipping and even said she's split up shipments for me in $50 increments since I get hit with customs tax for imports over $50).
Here's the pattern and fabric plan:





I'm hoping the kids will fall asleep at a reasonable time today so I can start cutting. Jeremy is in NY, which means I can make a simple dinner and have less clean-up...

How cool is it that the boys are upstairs playing together while I wrote this?!??!? :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Resiliency and Broken Bananas

I've had issues with Yoav's resiliency since his early days. I remember his toddler days - water spilling on the floor would lead to tears and him initially signing or showing me and later yelling at me to put the water back; same goes for cutting an apple the wrong way, a brown spot on a banana or G-d forbid, a broken banana!

I did a lot of validating back then, which, while better than most approaches (in my book), looking back, I was validating without first finding my Center (lots of Centering help from Scott Noelle at www.enjoyparenting.com). Instead of first validating, it would have been better to first find my Center, then help Yoav find his Center, and only *then* to validate or help him through the issue with a bit of play if needed. Here's my post (notice it's years later with the same issue - blah ) about Scott's ideas about dealing with this.

Anyway, so now I'm able to find my Center much faster, since I've been practicing (and wasn't years ago). Today, Elie also was tortured with a broken banana. He began in the same way that Yoav used to, crying, wanting to put it back together, chasing after the elusive perfect banana ;)

I was pretty much Centered the whole time. After years of crying over broken bananas, it doesn't get to me anymore LOL. So Elie gets the benefit of the more Centered mama. When he looked at me to "fix" the banana, I jumped right in with: "Ah, it broke in half - perfect - one for me and one for you - now we can eat it together! Can I have this one?" (Don't want to force the sharing on him!) He thought for a half a second and happily handed me half and we enjoyed the moment together. So, not only did I manage to avoid further crying (which, though maybe in an ideal world it wouldn't bother me and it would just Be, I prefer quiet over crying LOL) but I also helped Elie to see the positive in what he thought was a hopeless situation.

Pesach

It's Pesach here (and everywhere LOL). This is our first Pesach really koshering our kitchen. Last year we cleaned for chometz and used separate Pesach plates/silverware and cookware, but this year we went the extra mile and really truly cleaned for chometz including a few nights I was up until 2am and the last night Jeremy and I were both up until 4:30.

This was a really helpful lecture about how to kosher your kitchen:
http://www.betterjew.com/rw/RWelcher_20100315_Kashering_Your_Home_For_Pesach.mp3

We bought some new dishes and cookware as well. My non-Jewish friends will think this is totally wasteful , but, for Pesach, you are required to use separate dishes and cookware than you use the rest of the year. You can theoretically kasher some cookware, but it's a painstaking process involving cleaning every speck off the pots and some people don't think you can ever truly get cookware clean enough unless maybe it's only been used to boil eggs or something :) So we got to have fun buying some new things :) For broiling chicken, I got a 5L Corning Ware casserole pot and bought a small stainless roasting pan separately and used the grate inside the Corning Ware. I love it! I might have to get another one for the rest of the year. Much smaller and easier to clean than my stainless steel roasting plan with the benefit of (mostly) not being stainless, which I'm trying to move away from due to the problem of nickel leaching into the food if acidic food is being cooked. The other thing I got that I like a lot is Glass Lock storage containers. I guess really my usual Pyrex rounds are almost the same and do the same job, but I just like clicking the top ;)

And here's a really yummy meal I made tonight - this will definitely be a keeper for me and I'll probably even make it once more this Pesach.

NT Roasted Chicken with Matzoh Stuffing

The recipe for the stuffing is adapted from the Lubavitch "Spice & Spirit of Jewish-Kosher Cooking" which I highly recommend for all kosher cooks! I got mine used on Alibris. I also recommend the Pesach book, but for some reason this particular recipe didn't make it into that one...

Ingredients:

Chicken:
One whole chicken
olive oil
salt and pepper

Stuffing:
4 matzohs (I used organic whole wheat), broken into small bite sized pieces
juice from clementines or oranges (I used five clementines)
1 egg, beaten
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup kale, chopped and sauteed in coconut oil
1 onion, diced and sauteed in coconut oil
a few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
1 clementine (or half an orange), coarsely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Soak matzohs overnight in clementine or orange juice. When ready to cook, sautee onion first in coconut oil and then kale. Mix all ingredients together. Put chicken breast side up on a roasting pan. Stuff with stuffing, put any stuffing that doesn't fit inside the chicken underneath. Rub olive oil, salt and pepper on chicken. Bake at 375 for one hour. Flip chicken, rub olive oil, salt and pepper on underside of chicken (which is now facing upwards). Bake at 375 for an additional hour.

I served this with sweet potatoes, which I pricked and baked with the chicken. I also served a standard Israeli salad, but NT-modified by adding some flax oil (2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 1 red pepper, 1 onion, juice from 1/2 a lemon, rest of lemon diced, olive oil, flax oil, salt and pepper).

Yum - this one is definitely a keeper!

Oooh, when searching for those book links, I found this (relatively) new book: Count Down to the Seder: Personal Pesach Planner: from the Makers of Spice and Spirit. I'm definitely getting that for next year - just what I need to avoid the late nights!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sauerkraut

I just have to quickly post an amazing sight. Elie is sitting on the floor eating a bowl of sauerkraut. The boy never ceases to amaze me with his eating. I mean, the kraut is good, but it's not that good! Fermented foods are the wonder drug in my world. They boost the immune system, help protect against cancer and aid digestion (those are the biggies). Needless to say, there's not much I'd rather see him eating than a bowl of homemade kraut! Now if I could just figure out how to get Yoav to just taste it...

Meanwhile, we're busy getting the house ready for Pesach. This year we're doing a full top to bottom cleaning. Today we did the bedroom - I can finally see the floor of the closet again! We packed away most of our winter clothes and things we won't need again before we move and we also packed two huge trash bags full of clothes to give away. I tried to force myself to get rid of anything I haven't worn in two years. I always think that maybe next year will be the year I'll wear something, but meanwhile, the closet is overflowing and I can't find the things I actually wear. I also have a big pile of clothes to repurpose - I'm excited to have it because I tend to over-analyze fabric choices and don't want to make clothes for the kids using my good (ie, expensive) fabric unless I'm sure it'll come out well, which means I do less sewing than I'd like. I saved a few stretchy cotton shirts, too, to use as practice with my serger ;)

Back to cleaning...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Enki Weekly Schedule

Since we were Enki failures last week and were out doing random new things - a day at a small farm and an afternoon at the beach - we didn't do much of what I planned for last week, so planning is easy this week ;)

Story: Mrs. Tabby Gray - here on mainlesson.com
Food: Step 2 & 3 of homemade tortilla chips here (we started soaking the corn on Thursday)
Craft: Wooden gnome bowl from "Toymaking with Children" by Freya Jaffke

I really have to push us to get out of the house right after breakfast. Otherwise, Yoav gets busy with art or playing in the playroom and all seems well for a bit, but it's always more pleasant to spend the morning outside. There's less conflict when we end up back inside if the kids have had a chance to run around a bit outside...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Sweetness / Jeremy

Just a few cute things I want to remember...

As Yoav was falling asleep, he said, "The numbers in Hebrew are all a little more than a second." I hadn't noticed, but it's true - of the first ten numbers, in Hebrew, nine are two syllables and one is one syllable; in English, it's the opposite. So, counting to ten takes longer in Hebrew than English. Well, not exactly. He correctly suggested that he could say the words faster in Hebrew to make them be only a second ;)

Today we went to a new playground that's a few blocks away. One of the outcomes of our recent land/home search, was that the kids got to try out a lot of playgrounds. That seems like a good thing, but the downside is that Yoav has decided that our local playground doesn't measure up (the one that's literally at the park across the street from our house). We've tried out the one next-closest to our house and today set out to try a bigger one that's a few blocks away. It was a great walk and the best part was that the boys held hands most of the way. It was so cute. I wish I'd brought the camera. Hopefully it'll be a regular part of this walk and I can get a photo another day. On the way back, Elie actually started whimpering and calling out for Yoav when Yoav let go to run the last bit.

Jeremy got back today and we were very happy to see him ... and all the goodies in his suitcase! I decided to temporarily abandon the serger I bought in favor of foodstuffs. I got:
* Two bags of Rapunzel Rapadura (unrefined whole cane sugar)
* Probiotics for Yoav
* Organic shredded coconut (I've found regular shredded coconut here, but can't find shredded)
* Lime juice (don't know why I can't find limes here - maybe just because I don't know the word for it LOL - I want to make the Ginger Ale in NT)
* Some spices I couldn't find here (again, I'm sure they exist - I just don't know what they're called in Hebrew...)
* Black Ceylon tea so I can get started on kombucha (it's only taken me three months to get all the ingredients together - oy!!!)
* Active dry yeast (I try to avoid yeast, but do use it for my challah, and can't figure out the yeast here since it's all Hebrew - I want to be sure at least to use natural yeast and not instant (chemical) yeast)
* Raw kosher cheese from 5 Spoke Creamery. I'm so excited for this - it's so yummy and is a perfect addition to my increasingly more nutrient-dense travel snacks.
* And the best of all is two new Vision pots. I recently learned about Vision from the WAPF Yahoo group (discussingNT). It turns out that stainless steel isn't as safe as I thought it was - the nickel inside leaches out when cooking acidic foods (if it's a non-magnetic pot, which mine seem to be). I do mostly use my cast iron pans and Le Creuset pots anyway, but I was using a stainless steel pot for our daily oatmeal. Vision recently had a sale (could still be going on), so I got two new pots (plus I had found one at a kitchen store in Kfar Saba). My plan is to kasher the S/S pots and set them aside for Pesach use only. A week a year is fine for them - it's not horribly toxic - certainly nothing like teflon - and, for the most part, if you hold off on salting food until it's in your plate, most food isn't very acidic anyway.
* And finally, I got a few food books - two cookbooks that look fantastic - "The Lubavitcher Spice and Spirit Kosher Passover Book" and "Jewish Cookery" by Leah Leonard; and "Real Food" by Nina Planck.

I think that's it. It wasn't a perfect shipment - there was still a little room in the suitcase I could have used for fabric ;) I think from now on, I'll just get things shipped to the office in NY without thinking so much about what I *think* will fit in the suitcase, and then I'll decide what he should bring based on what *actually* fits... Shopping with suitcase size and weight in mind really throws a wrench in things. I'm getting good at mentally packing a suitcase though - what is that called on the SATs? Spatial ability? :)

Elie and Peeing

Sorry for the odd post - just want to mark the moment. He peed into the big toilet today standing up on the floor - no stool, no insert, nothing. A historic moment here, especially since Yoav has been yelling about Elie's use of the insert for months - when Elie sits on the toilet with the insert, Yoav yells "He can't use the insert!! Because I don't use it!!!" Not as much lately since my work with Scott Noelle, but it's still been a back-burner issue that Yoav brings up sometimes when he's not fully centered, so I'm glad to see it go away.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Presence

I had a good experience with Presence today I wanted to quickly post so I don't forget it...

Yoav had built a structure of blocks for cars and some areas for animals. All the cars were on the blocks, as if driving on a road. Yoav was drawing and Elie was playing with the cars. Yoav noticed that Elie had taken all the cars off the road and put them into one section on the floor. Yoav came over and yelled, "They don't go there! The cars have to be on the road! I hate you, Elie!" I remained a Calm Presence and held Elie while Yoav scrambled to put all the cars back where he wanted them and he continued his rant. The Presence was exactly (and all) he needed at that moment. The rant calmed as the cars were almost all back in position and Yoav said, "I don't hate you, Elie. I just want the cars like this." And he finished putting things the way he wanted them, explained what he wanted to Elie and went off to continue drawing.

Not an ideal moment, I just want to remember the Presence part of it... I've been struggling a bit lately with Yoav's control of his structures. Sometimes he's totally relaxed about them and lets Elie do anything, but often he wants the cars to go in a certain direction (like all facing the same way) or will get upset if something falls. One thing that has helped is to take pictures of the structures as soon as they're built so Yoav knows that if they fall down, we can build back just the way it was (not that we've ever implemented this option, but he seems more relaxed in his play with Elie knowing it's an option).

We had a really fun day today. In the morning, we went to a (very) small local farm - it's in a moshav next to us - it's about 3 dunams of land (3/4 acre) that is totally set up for kids - sandbox, big rabbit cage that you can go into and sit down and play with the bunnies, big chicken coop that you can go into, small veggie garden, lots of trees and vegetation to explore, tree swings, tree house structure... They do a once a week activity for homeschooled kids (mostly just young kids, but a few homeschoolers) - free play, snack, then the woman who runs it told a story and did a planting activity. We only partially listened to the story and skipped the planting because it was in Hebrew and I couldn't follow :) Yoav loved hanging out with the animals though and I think we'll go again next week.

In the afternoon, we went with M and H to the Herzliyya Beach. It was so beautiful. As soon as we (actually even before) put our bags down, Yoav was off and running. He was *so* happy there - running on the beach, playing in the water, playing with the sand. He was just laughing and playing the whole time. I definitely want to make this a weekly activity. Plus it was calming for me

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pot handle



I haven't done much sewing of late, but I was inspired yesterday. We went to a friend's house and my new friend, M, had made her own diapers! They are so nice with repurposed outer layers and some have a bit of PUL that can snap right in between the outer layer and the prefold for going out. Anyway, so I was inspired to turn on my machine ;) Mine was a tiny project since it was already 12:00 by the time I turned on my machine! I copied the little fabric handle on my cast iron pot, since mine recently caught fire and is disintegrating quickly ;) Plus, obviously, it's not a great feature for a pot handle to catch fire! I used the same Lecien fabric I used for the kid's placemats and my pot holder and copied the pattern from the burnt pot handle. I sewed each piece of fabric to a piece of Insul Bright, then sewed a piece of 7/8" twill to cover the raw flat edge of each of those little sandwiches, then put the two together, wrong sides facing, and attached the twill along the long raw edge and folded it into the inside so it won't show.

The best part was that Yoav was very excited to see it - when I told him I made something for the kitchen, he guessed right away what it was.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Enki Weekly Schedule

Story: Little Tuppen - here on mainlesson.com
Food: Step 2 & 3 of homemade tortilla chips here (we started soaking the corn on Thursday)
Craft: Wooden gnome bowl from "Toymaking with Children" by Freya Jaffke

Weekly Food Plan

I've been agonizing over my food plan lately (as you can see from all the food plan modification posts!) I really want a basic plan that I can use week in, week out with minor variations. Otherwise, it's just too much for me to come up with a weekly meal plan.

I want to basically follow Sally's diet for pregnant and nursing moms, which, according to my little fridge magnet, is:
* Cod liver oil to supply 20,000IU Vit A and 2,000 IU Vit D per day
* One quart whole milk daily, preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows
* Four T butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows
* 2+ eggs or egg yolks daily, preferably from pastured chickens
* 3-4 oz liver, once or twice a week
* Fresh seafood, several times a week
* 2 T coconut oil daily
* Fresh beef or lamb daily, always consumed with the fat
* Oily fish daily, for Vit D
* Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages
* Bone broths used in soups, stews and sauces
* Soaked or sourdough whole grains
* Fresh vegetables and fruits

I think finally at least I theoretically know how to incorporate everything. I don't think I can realistically eat meat every day. I was vegetarian for years and can easily live without it. I also don't see how I can drink a quart of milk per day. As of now, the only dairy I'm eating is the yogurt for my soaked pancakes and smoothies, which is only one cup raw. Plus I only know how to get raw goat's milk, which I just can't drink. It's also a lot to store in my fridge :( So I'll think about those things as I start working with this new menu.

Here is the meal plan for Su - F:

BREAKFAST
Soaked pancakes with banana and maple syrup; kombucha.

SNACK
Fresh berries with crispy almonds (it's always good to eat some fat with fruit to reduce the affect on blood sugar level)

LUNCH
Em and Elie: raw yogurt / raw egg yolk / strawberry smoothie
Yoav: Fried egg
Sourdough bread with almond butter (Yoav) or butter (Em and Elie)
Fermented carrots
Ginger tea

SNACK
Choices: Avocado and chips (twice a week); Popcorn (once a week); Sweet potato dollars or potato pancakes or try vegetable puree pancakes from NT p. 412 (once a week); Sauteed spinach or kale (twice a week); Chickpeas (once a week)

DINNER
Format of dinner will be Main + Vegetable + Lentil Salad (NT, p. 507) + Fermented food
Note: Lentils are considered the healthiest legume by Weston Price - they're high in phosphorus, calcium potassium, zinc, iron and vit B complex! Elie needs the phosphorus and calcium for his teeth, so that's why I want them every day.
Main course choices: liver (broiled and sauteed in coconut oil, M & W); canned salmon or tuna (Su & R); roasted chicken and shnitzel (F); brown rice spaghetti with meat sauce (T)
Vegetable choices: The favorites in our family are sauteed spinach, carrots sauteed in coconut oil and Israeli salad, but I'll rotate around using the recipes in the Vegetable chapter in Nourishing Traditions.

SNACK
Freshly flaked oatmeal soaked in water and lemon juice for 24 hours


Saturday (Shabbat) menu
Breakfast: Sourdough with honey (Yoav) or butter (J,E,E); kombucha
Snack: Fresh fruit and crispy nuts
Lunch: Cholent with leftover salads with a fermented veggie
Snack: Salads
Dinner: Sourdough bread and leftover salads

Friday, March 12, 2010

A few cute Elie words

I keep meaning to post these so I don't forget:

Yoav: Yav
Animal: Ey-mool
Tomten (from the book): Tompen
Toothbrush: boodush
Truck: Duck (I think that's the same as Yoav)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Life with a Two-Year-Old

Two-year-olds are such funny creatures. Sometimes Elie seems so grown up, like when I came to check on him in the bathroom today and he had already gotten down from the toilet, put the insert back in its place and was wiping his tush with toilet paper (and then while I was watching, he proceeded to check the toilet paper, put it in the toilet, flushed and walked out). I mentioned this before, but he's WAY beyond Yoav on his poop-wiping abilities.

And today at dinner, he got the idea to clear the plates like in a restaurant - he collected all the plates and stacked them up - biggest on the bottom, then small plates, then bowl, then silverware in the bowl. Even Yoav got involved and handed Elie some things to add to the pile. Great, EXCEPT that Elie thought it was important for the plates to be clean, so he took food off the plates and put it onto the tablecloth. Not so helpful ;)

Elie really loves entertaining - he likes to do silly things and loves when you want him to do it over and over. For example, at dinner, Elie broke off a piece of mangold (like spinach - it's popular here) and threw it. Then said to Yoav, "Od pom? (again?)" Yoav laughed and said yes. Again and again. Each time Elie stops and asks in all seriousness, "Od pom?" Yoav was cracking up from the whole show. It's great when Elie's jumping on the couch or doing something that's not messy or destructive, but I don't know what to do when it's throwing mangold. His "od pom" isn't even a real question. He asks it very seriously, as if he's concerned about your interest. If you say yes you want it again, he says, "ah" in a very serious "Ah, ok, no problem, I don't mind doing it again." kind of voice. Like it's his business to keep you entertained. BUT, let's say you're not so interested in him continuing his shenanigans. Maybe he's throwing clothes out of the drawer or squeezing my nose. If I say no od pom, he just keeps going as if you said yes and still asks in between each time AS IF you've been saying yes all along. Cute and exacerbating all at the same time. That seems to be how it is with my little 2yo. Sometimes exhausting and exacerbating. But always cute.

Yoav and Elie have been getting along beautifully. Sometimes it's easier to have two than if I had just Yoav b/c they play and laugh together. I love listening to them. Yoav talks to Elie about where and how to move vehicles on his constructs. Elie has become, for the most part, very careful with the buildings. If Elie causes a block to move out of place, he makes the Yoav-freak-out face and flaps his arms a bit in a AAAHHH-the-world-is-falling-apart-a-block-moved-a-quarter-of-an-inch sort of way :) Elie doesn't actually feel that way, he just mimics the reactions he's seen from Yoav. But then Yoav will put it back in place or even sometimes say funny things like, "Sorry Elie, I don't have time to fix it right now." or tells him to wait a minute. Mostly it's chatter than makes me smile. And I'm often able to work in the kitchen while they play. It's getting easier and easier (and simultaneously more fun).

A few days ago I got overwhelmed when the kids started playing with the drying rack where I had just carefully hung up all the wet clothes. I got stressed and said I was going inside and went upstairs to try to relax and not think about what was happening to the clothes. Yoav came to find me and right away said I should go to get Elie b/c Elie didn't want to come to him (Yoav). It was so sweet.

All the hitting and pushing and yelling is already becoming a blur. One day I'll probably swear that they "always" got along. Just like me and my sister supposedly "never" fought when we were little. The passage of time is great that way.

Yoav today said, "Two tens is twenty; two twenties is forty; two forties is eighty". Not sure if it's memorized or if he's figured out how to do it. He also asked me how to get a ten out of other numbers and then when I paused, he said, "two fives". Everything for him is about numbers. He always wants ten chips with his avocado because his new favorite person (his second cousin) is ten; and he wants his egg cut in ten pieces; and he has to have at least ten pancakes in the morning, etc. And he's always examining his ten (or whatever the number flavor of the week is) and breaking it down and seeing how to make it out of other numbers. Like with the egg, the first time he asked me to cut it into ten pieces, I asked rhetorically, "How am I going to get it into ten pieces?!??!" He answered, "You can make five pieces and then cut each of those in half."

Food-wise, we started a batch of homemade tortilla chips today from this recipe. My MIL brought me the pickling lime on her recent visit.

I'm trying this sourdough pancake recipe tonight. Would be great if we like it so I don't have to make two kinds - usually I do the yogurt soaked pancakes for all but Yoav and his are soaked in water and lemon juice. Plus it's cheaper...

Guess that's it. I've been a blogger failure lately. I fall asleep with the kids, then Jer wakes me back up, and then I'm a zombie just trying to get my grains soaking and straighten up a bit and check email. Blogging is way beyond my abilities in such a state ;)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shabbat Dinner

A few weeks ago, we went to a Breslov friend's home for Shabbat dinner. I was in awe of the quantity and quality of food this woman served (and she has three little kids pulling on her skirt as she cooks - quite different than a cook in a restaurant!)

The format of her dinner was:
Blessings
Salads with challah
Fish
Soup
Chicken (with rice and a side vegetable)
Dessert

With each previous course being cleared before the next came out, with the exception of the salad and challah which stayed out for the whole meal.

Since then, we've been working on adding to our standard Shabbat dinner. This past Friday turned out really well. We were planning to go to Tzipporah in Kfar Saba to pick up a few extra salads to supplement (they serve a great spread of salads btw!), but then I thought it'd be more fun to spend the time and money on making a few new ones ourselves. Jeremy and I haven't cooked together in a long time. Before we had kids, we cooked a lot together, probably in large part because I wasn't nearly as good of a cook back then, so I needed his help ;) But it was fun then and it was fun on Friday.

So our full menu was:
White Challah (from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today")
Spelt Challah (recipe below)
Salads: Eggplant, Roasted red pepper, Israeli (cucumber and tomato), Fennel, Cabbage, Fermented Ginger Carrots, Fermented Sauerkraut, Lentil Salad, Hummus
Soups: Chicken and Rice, Carrot Ginger
Main Course: Roast Chicken, whole wheat rice with carrots and onion, sweet potato
Dessert: Carob Chews, Sweet Potato Cookies, Strawberries

OK, so now I'll try to document some details about the preparation of each. Other than my husband's white flour challah, everything was organic and everything was made adhering as closely as possible to the Nourishing Traditions principles. The only known breach was the challah. Even NT has a yeasted bread that is called a "compromise bread", but it's soaked in buttermilk first. I actually tried to make this with sprouted and dehydrated spelt, but the grains weren't fine enough to get it to a good consistency for braiding, so I ended up starting over with store-bought spelt flour. Jeremy agreed that we could get a new grain grinder when we move, so next week I'll try soaking the spelt overnight in water and lemon juice, but I think the ideal would be to sprout and dehydrate the grains first.


CHALLAH

Of course, as I've posted before, the biggest problem with my Shabbat dinner has been the challah - every week I've been making my standard white flour challah (from Joan Nathan's "The Foods of Israel Today") along with a trial healthy challah for me. But the healthy challot haven't been too successful and certainly haven't come close to the taste of the white one.

Now I think the challah problem has been solved! I posted on the Israel_Wholistic Yahoo group and a woman gave me this recipe, which is from Chava Naeh, a homeopath in Jerusalem. It was the best whole-grain challah I've ever had and I noticed that Jeremy made a snack of leftover salads using this challah instead of the white one!!!! YEA!!!

Chava Naeh's Spelt Challah
Yield: 2 Challot

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
5 tsp active dry yeast (2 packs Red Star)
1 T Rapadura + 1/4-1/2 cup Rapadura (or honey)
2 eggs + 1 egg for eggwash
1 T sea salt
8 cups spelt

Directions:
Heat water to 100-110F. Mix yeast and Rapadura, then add in heated water. Allow to sit a few minutes until it froths up.

Mix yeast mixture with spelt, 2 eggs, salt and 1/4 cup Rapadura (or you can use honey). Once mixed, knead for about five minutes until smooth.

Transfer to a large greased bowl and leave in a warm place for several hours (or overnight, which is what I did - the longer it sits, the more the phytic acid in the spelt is reduced).

Form the dough into challot, brush with egg wash and leave to rise for an additional half hour. Before putting in oven, brush with egg wash once more. Bake at 160 C for about t 30 minutes.

Even though I'm very happy with the challah, I also want to try this one before I settle on Chava's challah.


SALADS

I'll give the recipes for the two we got from www.mevashlim.com, since it's a public website - the others are from books as below. All the recipes (except the fermented ones which were really only appreciated by me and Elie) were highly enjoyed by all - the only one I want to work on a bit is the eggplant, which could use a little more flavor (although it was my FIL's favorite salad).

Eggplant: Recipe from www.mevashlim.com -- Ingredients: 6-8 eggplants, (extra virgin) olive oil, coarse sea salt. Directions: Preheat oven to 200C. Bake eggplants for 45 minutes or until soft, turning occasionally. Take eggplants out of oven. Wait until cool. Slice and remove pulp. Mash the pulp with a wooden spoon (anything but metal) and add olive oil generously until completely absorbed. Add coarse salt to taste, mix and serve warm.

Roasted Red Pepper in Marinade: Recipe from "The Book of New Israeli Food" by Janna Gur - very simple and tasty - just red peppers roasted and soaked in white wine vinegar, garlic, salt and parsley sprigs.

Israeli (cucumber and tomato): Ingredients: 1 lemon, 4 firm diced tomatoes, 4 diced cucumbers, 1 small diced onion (red is best but I haven't found them here), 1 red pepper seeded and diced, 1 clove garlic diced, 2 T diced parsley, 3 T extra virgin olive oil, 1 T expeller-expressed flax oil, salt and pepper to taste. Directions: Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze half of it on the salad; with the other half, remove the seeds and skin and chop finely and add to salad. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss and serve ASAP.

Fennel and Pistachio Salad: Recipe in "The Book of New Israeli Food" by Janna Gur - this was a new one for us and my favorite

Cabbage: Recipe from mevashlim.com - Ingredients: 1 small cabbage, sliced thinly, 1 package dill, chopped finely, 5 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 T white wine vinegar, 3 T (extra virgin) olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Directions: Mix cabbage, dill, garlic and oil together. One hour before serving, add vinegar, salt and pepper and mix.

Hummus: Recipe from "The Foods of Israel Today" by Joan Nathan.

Lentil Salad: Recipe from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. This has become a staple because Elie likes it and lentils are relatively high in potassium, which is important for healthy teeth. I make a lot and serve it as a side almost every day.

Fermented Ginger Carrots: This "recipe" was from a woman on the discussingNT Yahoo group - put a few carrot sticks, peeled garlic cloves, and a bunch of sliced ginger in a mason jar filled with filtered water. Add a tablespoon of salt, seal and leave out for a few days to a week and then transfer to cold storage. Elie really likes these as do I.

Fermented Sauerkraut - Use this recipe and it comes out great! I think I'm the only one who eats this one :)


SOUPS

Chicken Rice Soup from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon

Carrot Ginger Soup - recipe from my MIL


MAIN COURSE

Roast Chicken - recipe from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon

Soaked Rice with carrots, onions and potatoes - recipe from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. I use brown basmati rice. My trick is to cook the rice for about 30 minutes instead of the full 45 minutes and then it finishes in the roasting pan with the chicken. Meanwhile (or just at any other time!) sautee carrots in coconut oil and cut in thin dices and then cut the dices in half so they're fairly small pieces. Caramelize thinly sliced onion in olive oil and then add some garlic for a minute or two. Once the rice is cooked for the 30 minutes, mix the carrots and onions with the rice and put the rice around the chicken in the roasting pan. Add about a cup of water so the rice doesn't dry out during the roasting. Cover the rice with whole sweet potatoes (which will be served as a side) as well as rounds of sliced potato - all the potato (sweet and regular) are a side dish but also keep the top layer of rice from getting hard!


DESSERT

Carob Chews - from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. I make it without the nuts because a friend said they didn't hold together well for her with the nuts. I want to try for myself with the nuts, but I'm worried about wasting precious almonds ;)

Sweet Potato Cookies - recipe from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. These are always a HUGE hit and is my go-to dessert for guests or if I'm asked to bring a dessert somewhere. Mine are a bit crunchy since my grain mill can't grind fine flour, but maybe that's part of what makes them so yummy. I make some with raisins and some without, since there are always seems to be kids who don't want raisins in cookies.

Strawberries - picked fresh that morning from a local farm

Math

A multiplication update - Yoav can multiply by 10s - he said "Two tens is twenty; three tens is thirty..." up to "ten tens is 100". He is also counting like a maniac lately - he counts trucks when we're in the car and he's up to 6,132 ;) He asks me to write down where he is when we get out of the car so he can remember. He started a few weeks ago.

He's also getting faster at addition/subtraction. He knows random things like 2 20s is 40 (and two 1,100s is 2,200 LOL - he likes big numbers!). And he's fast at small addition - I gave him seven shnitzels today, he counted and said he wanted ten and immediately told me to cut three of them in half.

I hope no one minds my math updates. I'm just using this space to keep track of the organic learning. We only answer questions, never test or give unrequested information. In fact I often say "I wonder" or "What do you think?" when he asks me a question.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time & Eschar

First of all, I can't figure out how I've ever had time to upload photos to my blog or actually make things to take photos *of*! Lately I just feel tired once the kids fall asleep, primarily because I keep falling asleep with them when I put them to sleep and then drag my sleepy self back out of bed to clean up and get food ready for the next day. And of course opening the laptop usually means an automatic drain of at least an hour...

Sigh.

I need to do more of my food prep during the day when the kids are asleep but I find it SO hard to do. Like now I have to transfer my sprouted spelt berries to the dehydrator (did I mention that Jer finally brought it back from the States and I LOVE it!?!?!?). I do love having the dehydrator but it's still a hassle to transfer the grains into it since I have a lot to do and have to spread them out on a few trays so they're not clumpy. But I really can't do this during the day or I end up with spelt berries all over the kitchen. Or maybe I can, but it's almost as unpleasant as doing it at 11pm :(

Anyway, on to some bigger and better news.

We went up to Eshchar again AND PICKED A PLOT!!!! YEA!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately we can't just buy it and start building - you have to go through an application process, which would usually take 2-3 weeks, but Jeremy's going to be traveling during the next scheduled interview date, so we'll find out tomorrow how long that will put us back. They won't even officially hold the plot for us. It's unofficially being held, but we were told we need to hurry to get the application process completed.

The plot we picked is really nice. It has views to the East of the Mediterranean Sea, North to the city of Carmiel, and West to the mountains. With a good architect we should be able to build a house to maximize the great views. I wrote about the town in my previous post, so I won't repeat that, but, in addition to loving the town, I also like that we can buy land direct from the government for a relatively low price (a little less than $100k), so we'll have enough money to build our house the way we want it without worrying about the cost of features we want or appliances and such. We are going to talk to this eco-friendly architect first. Our ideal is to have passive solar and/or solar panels if needed, grey water recycling (for toilets and watering plants), maybe a solarium, and of course natural materials in the house and maybe a root cellar for standard food storage and storage of my fermenting foods.

Speaking of which, I made very tasty fermented carrots - all I did was cut a bunch of carrots into quarters lengthwise (to make sticks), put in a quart-sized mason jar filled with filtered water, a few slices of ginger, two cloves of garlic and a heaped tablespoon of salt. Then I left the jar out to ferment for about a week and moved it to the fridge for cold storage. Elie in particular loves them - he ate about ten yesterday!!! One of my recent goals is to up my intake of fermented foods. They're great for the immune system and are anticarcinogenic as well as a host of other benefits - read here for more. I also made sauerkraut recently that came out really well and am searching for organic orange pekoe black tea (recommended by the company I got the starter from and I stupidly thought I could save money by buying it here but now I can't find it!) so I can start with kombucha...

And just a comment about grains - I've noticed that there are a LOT more bugs in the wheat berries I get (I've tried every brand I can find) than spelt berries (which have close to none). I don't understand how the bugs could be mass sifted out of grain before companies grind them for flour. I'm sure there's a way, I'd just love to know what it is. You can get these electric sifters for sifting bugs out of flour, but I need something to get the bugs out of the raw grain. I'm going to stick to spelt before. I had been wanting to be wheat-free anyway b/c I think spelt is healthier, but recently I moved back to wheat because it's about half the price and, more importantly, it's easier to find....