Monday, February 16, 2015

Lemon Curd Poke Cake

This is a rich, decadent cake.  I've got a major sweet tooth and a small piece is very satisfying!  Bonus points - it's deceptively nutritious with the quinoa.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we are.




Free of; coconut, corn, dairy, gluten, nuts, refined sugar


Cake Ingredients

2 1/3 cups flour mix*
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (corn free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
7/8 cup (7 ounces) raw honey
2/3 cup Light EVOO (or oil of choice)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (or vanilla)
1/2 cup water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Oil bottom & sides of a baking dish and line with parchment paper.  I used a 7”x9” glass pan.  If using a larger pan or splitting batter between cake pans, adjust down bake time.

Mix together flour, quinoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.  Blend together honey & oil until it’s an even consistency (not separating).  I used an immersion blender for this.  Add eggs & maple syrup to blended mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. 

Add flour mixture to blended mixture alternately with water, stirring well after each addition.  I did about 1/3 of flour & water each time.  Continue stirring for another minute.

Pour batter in prepared pan. The batter is thick & runny.  Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Poke holes into the top of cake.  I used the butt end of a chopstick.

While the cake’s cooling make up the curd.  You can prep it while the cake bakes, but wait to heat until the cake’s out of the oven.


Lemon Curd Topping

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 heavy ounce raw honey (need a splash more than 1 oz.)
4 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons Light EVOO (or oil of choice)


Directions 

Combine all ingredients in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler if you’ve got one).  Heat on medium, while stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens.

If it starts frothing, turn the heat down a bit.  It's done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Granted with the honey, it’s tricky to tell.  You want a thick layer, not a film.  Remove from heat & pour over cake.  Spread with spatula over top so that it fills holes.  Let cool while eating dinner & then dig in!


Cover & keep in fridge until your tribe polishes it off.

*Flour Mix


  • 1 part Sorghum flour
  • 1/2 part White Rice flour
  • 1/2 part Brown Rice flour
  • 1/2 part Tapioca flour
  • 2/3 part Arrowroot flour




Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fennel Celery Pear Slaw

Our newest concoction nicknamed Yumminess Slaw came about from us being in an adventurous mood and finding a great deal on fennel bulbs.  Until now, we'd only ever used fennel seeds in tea to aid in calming colic when the kids were babies.  Over the summer with Ivan working at our local farmers market, he learned more about the fennel plant.  Did you know that the whole plant from bulb root to flowery end and everything in between is edible?

I didn't.  And it is delicious!  This slaw was inspired by trying to put a twist on a waldorf salad since we can't do a traditional one.  It makes a great light side dish.




Top 8 allergen free, coconut free, nut free, soy free

Ingredients

  • 1 fennel bul, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
  • 1 large firm pear, sliced thin (Bosc, Comice, Concord do well)
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced thin
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • juice from 1 lemon wedge (~ 1/4 tsp)
  • dash of salt

Directions

Prep fruit & veggies by washing, peeling & thinly slicing.  Toss in a medium size bowl and set aside. Mix up the dressing - olive oil, honey, lemon juice & salt.  Drizzle dressing over slaw and gently toss.  Serve and enjoy!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Spreading Joy

Replacing the family artificial christmas tree seems like it’d be a tiny blip on the radar in the whole scheme of things.  Right?!

Or so we thought.  We, the parents.

We quickly found out that no, NO it was most certainly not a small matter.  As the Work Around unfolded before my eyes, I sat dumbfounded, not wanting to believe that this was so important.  But, as I sat and listened to Ivan and his expressions sank in, it slowly dawned on me that we should have anticipated this particular Work Around.

I mean, how could we NOT have seen this one coming?

Ivan lives for the magic of Christmas all year long.  He listens to Christmas music year-round because he loves it so much.  Christmas music helps him find his calm better than most of the other things he has in his well-stocked arsenal.

So we should have anticipated this.  We had months to assist in easing the change that would be coming, but we totally missed it.

The ball started rolling over the summer when we bought new furniture.  We got a love-seat & couch to replace our very well-loved couch & recliner.  The layout of our room changed dramatically.  With the new furniture we had to rearrange the entire room, including where the TV was situated.  And with time, the changes were absorbed and a new groove has been established.  Anyway, having the new furniture and layout affected having a space for our tree.  This is the detail we missed.  Who’s thinking of tree placement in July?  Obviously, we weren’t.

As the holidays approached, we started talking about when we’d pull the tree out & decorate.  One night after the kids were tucked in, it hit us that the tree wouldn’t fit anywhere in the house regardless of any level of finagling.  I shared the news with Ivan the next morning with a solution in hand (to buy a new one that would fit), hoping to mitigate the impact.  No such luck.  The hit wasn’t the one we thought it would be.

At this point, I had to keep reminding myself we are human and as such, not perfect.  We simply can not anticipate everything.  But, as the news to Ivan unfolded, I felt like the biggest pile of poo.  And the solution that we thought we had just wasn’t the right one.

Putting on our collective thinking caps, we figured it out.  We’d put our tree on the front porch with weather-friendly ornaments and buy a new tree for inside.  Win-win.

End of story….

Ah, but no.  It’s just the beginning.

As we spent time shopping around for the right new tree, we struggled with spending the money on the ones we preferred.  Those suckers are pricey!

What happens next is the BOMB!  I promise.  And I swear I’m not sharing this for any accolades.  I’m sharing to yet again dispel the misconception that autistics lack empathy.  I’ve said it before & will again in case you’ve not seen it.  Ivan is the most empathetic soul I have ever met.  He absolutely blows me away and continues to inspire me to do & be better.

Okay, so I was scanning through my Facebook feed & this video came up.  You seriously have to click & watch it for the full impact.  Please!  So, Ivan saw me crying as I watched the video, came over to give me a hug & asked why I was being so “emotional”.  I restarted the video & had him watch.

When it was over, he leaned into me for an armless hug, turned to me and said, “Mom, we don’t need 2 trees.  Let’s help some other people.”  Through a new wave of tears, I asked him what he thought that should look like.  We had the most phenomenal conversation that I don’t remember verbatim now, but… you guys, how awesome is he!

Since we’ve gotten so attached to our community with Ivan working at the local farmer’s market, we wanted whatever we decided on to be here, in our community.  As he scooted off to bed, I promised to do some research on the options where we are.

The next morning at breakfast, I shared with Ivan some disheartening news.  Our small community has no food bank or shelter.  You can imagine how horrified he was that people would need to go so much further away for assistance.  And so trying to stay local, we thought we were back to square one.  We then discussed doing something for a shelter in a neighboring community.  With our breakfast brainstorming, we remembered that there is a shelter for abused women & children.  Next was figuring out what to do.

Ivan decided that he wanted to donate tote bags filled with comfort items for the children and moms.  I called the organization to see if that type of donation would be helpful and they assured us that it would be.  So many details were put into it from planning what could go into the totes for ages ranging from 2-13; price comparing items at a couple stores to stay within our budget; purchasing items with others potential interests in mind; painting the totes to personalize, filling and delivering.

You guys… 



This all initiated by a 7 year old!  The planning, details, consideration of others & things that may bring some joy to them during a very difficult time in their life.  And, he chose for us to do this instead of buying a second tree, which is a huge sacrifice for him to not have a tree inside our home.  This is what the season is about.  Heck, this is what LIFE is about.






Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chicken Rice Soup

Top 8 allergen free, coconut free, corn free

Crisp autumn days and rainy weather stir up my love for the warmth of a big hearty bowl of soup.  As I stood stirring together this deliciousness, I thought I'd be freezing part of it.  With 2 of us coming down with colds, it was scarfed up quickly.





Ingredients

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 pounds of chicken, cooked & diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dry basil or 2 TBS fresh
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups zucchini or assorted veggies, diced
  • 12 cups chicken/veggie stock (or water)
  • 1 cup rice, soaked, rinsed and uncooked
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium.  Sauté onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, basil and bay leaves for 5 minutes.  Add in zucchini or assorted veggies and sauté for a minute.  Add chicken, rice and stock/water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 20 minutes.  Season to taste.

Enjoy!

Allergy note:  As always when dealing with allergies, be sure to use safe for you ingredients.  This recipe has the potential to be heavily cross-contaminated with corny ingredients.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fantastic Fungi




One morning on going out to check on our veggie garden, Ivan discovered a rather unique looking mushroom growing amidst our butternut squash.  We share lots of things with our neighbor, Ms. M and this was no exception.  She's as much of a nature enthusiast as us & has a guidebook for just about anything you can think of from birds to fungi.



Yeah, you keep a straight face with your kid on seeing that!


Alright, alright - minds outta the gutter.  I mean seriously, you've got to be kidding.  That has not been photoshopped.  Nature has quite the sense of humor!  How 'bout this shot straight from Fairy Land!




Ivan could barely contain his excitement to show her his discovery.  She was stumped trying to identify the fungus and pulled out two of her books.  We flipped through them sitting on the front porch shaded by our ginormous pecan tree listening to the squirrels bombing our roof and sidewalk with nut debris and Holly standing on her plastic slide shouting at them to stop messing up our yard!

The NOT upside-down 'shroom

After pouring over the books for awhile, we were able to at least identify the class of 'shroom and that it was poisonous.  Yep, gloves on & that sucker got extracted from the garden.  Since that morning, the kids are obsessed with finding fungi any chance they get (and to be fair, so am I).  I know... we are such geeks!

We've since visited a local state park with the intentions of going for a hike around the lake.  I quickly learned again how very different Ivan & Holly are.  Holly has her own definition of "hike" and it was not mine or Ivan's.  It took us some time to shift our plans into a loose semblance of hike to mesh with each others varying perspectives.

The successful pieces turned out to be Ivan & I snapping pictures of 'shrooms and hoping we could get them before Holly aka the Musher, flattened them into the dirt.



A week later, we set out on a scavenger hunt at a park near home.  Ivan was working on a Fibonacci theme to see what & how many spiral patterns he could find & get photos of.  He's loving learning about photography and has an intense love for patterns.  And Holly's hunt was created by Ivan with some direction from me.  Hers focused on finding different colored items and numbers of things like rocks, one of her loves.


The Mushers are coming!

Our quick scavenger hunt turned into a 2 hour trip and only ended because tummies got grumbly.  The most surprising find was when Holly mushed a 'shroom and it's insides were blue.

Our last find was purely by accident when I was cutting the grass.  This one was easily a foot across in width.  I love how different each and every mushroom is, just like people.  So different and at the same no matter how loosely connected we may seem from one another, the connection is undeniable.








Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Floats

I haven't posted much this summer.  But, I've got so many posts written in my mind... just too tired to type them out.  Summer used to be a time that the Hubs and I could focus on trying to catch up on things that got neglected during the school year, fully taking advantage of his summer break from his work being a teacher.  This is the first summer that did NOT happen.

As summer approached, we started to assemble our catch-up list.  Attempted to prioritize it, knowing that the list was much longer than the summer.  Things like painting the exterior window trim on the house to keep the wood from rotting.  And fencing in the backyard so that we could spend time outside (dare we dream productively) whilst keeping tabs on a curious & super independent toddler.  Or actually doing some yard maintainence with flower beds that are totally overgrown with weeds to the point of choking out actual plants.  Or going through the shed we filled shifting our office to make room for Holly's arrival... 3 years ago.  Or decluttering our bedroom that has become the catch-all for stuff without a place to be (1930s home lacks storage) or toys lost from bad choices, or home office stuff like mail that piles up unopened for months on end because it's swept away into the abyss.

All things that in summers past would have been dealt with.  At least in part.

Not this year.

This year we stayed afloat.

We reveled in the generosity of friends.  Prepping and putting up food while it was abundant to get us through the sparser months of winter.  Learned about canning and fermenting.  Tried our hand at some of it with mixed results.

We encouraged Ivan's entrepreneurial skills with starting his own business.  Sat down to go through a business plan to make sure it wasn't an impulsive interest.  Going into business with a 7 year old is intense, in case you're wondering.  Working it to our advantage, Ivan's pretty much written his curriculum for the school year.  He had about 2 weeks off from school and we dived in without looking back.  And it is work.  Every day.  Every week.  And for the most part he LOVES it.  And I can't tell you how awesome it's been to watch him flourish at the farmers market.  Selling his wares.  Bartering with other vendors.  Pushing his comfort levels with social interactions and anxiety.  Practicing life skills.  Observing others, learning nuances, forming friendships with common interests, growing through challenges and building the self-confidence to be himself.

This summer also continues to push us in remembering to stay open-minded.  To embrace unconditional love above all else and venture into areas that aren't typical as we broaden our understanding of living authentically.  Being true to ourselves and accepting that of each other while we acknowledge gender creativity.  I've never liked gender bias.  I don't agree with things being for boys or girls.  I think people should be able to do what makes their souls sing.  Whose to say certain colors are for boys or girls.  Look at history.  In the past pink was considered a color of royalty for men.  And today, it is typically considered a "girl" color.  Why?  It's such an arbitrary thing.  It really is.

We've pushed the envelope in the past.  Ivan loved Winnie-the-Pooh when he was 3, so we got him a pair of sunglasses with Pooh and Piglet on them.  Stamped in a corner of one lens.  The ear pieces were yellow & green.  I could tell that they were meant to be for "girls".  Checking out with the cashier was rather unpleasant as she tried to inform us that surely he'd want a different pair and that we must not have seen the "boy" sunglasses (even though they were all in the same spot).  Another time when Ivan was 5, he saw a pair that he liked that were red & bedazzled.  His favorite color was & still is red.  The cashier at that store was actually very rude to us & got a piece of my mind.

Why are people so hung up on gender?  I just don't get it.  Anyway, I started reading a book recently that is helping us as a family to evolve.  I love my kids no matter what.  Period.

Ivan discovered nail polish in time for Mother's Day this year.  He loves patterns, colors and being able to create his own colors.  He started blending colors with paint when he was 2 and has been finding new ways to do so ever since.  He likes seeing patterns & colors.  Fabric, paint, clothes, jewelry and now nail polish.  After painting my nails for me on Mother's Day, he asked if he could paint his.  He wanted to do his birthstone color.

His eyes were all aglow with anticipation as he waited for me to answer.  I simply could not say no.  Every part of his being was on edge.  I took a deep breath, living through a lifetime of scenarios in that moment.

Should I let him do this?  What was the harm?  Would Hubs be on board?  What would people think? Not being one to care about what others thought, this gave me pause because Ivan is excruciatingly aware of others and he usually shrinks away at anything perceived as different.

In the end, I said okay.  And we've had many conversations about it.  He understands that nail polish is typically for girls.  He also knows that we love him and want him to be happy.  To be authentic with who he is.  The way I see it and talk with him about it is that if it makes him feel good & makes him happy... it's okay.  As long as it's not harmful to him or anyone else.

And this is how we have arrived at reading about the gender creative community beyond gay & lesbian.  I have no idea where Ivan is on this spectrum and it doesn't matter.  Just like we say with the autism, allergies, etc...  He is who he is.  We love him unconditionally.  All of him.  We will continue to embrace and learn as we go through life.  And our kids will hopefully know without any doubt that home is a safe place and that we constantly strive to build a safe community to be in.

Our catch-up list didn't happen this summer.  But so much more did.  I'm so happy that we've been present for it.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nighttime Encounters

I sit here on my couch processing today in a crystal sharp blur.  Today started early.  Way, way too early.

Hubs and I went to bed around midnight after trying to unwind from yesterday.  Shortly after, Holly crawled in with us to sleep fitfully (practicing her Ninja moves as only she can during sleep).  Settled and strategically positioned to block random kicks and punches, I had just drifted back to sleep when Ivan crawled in, on, over and around making a spot for himself.  All settled again and me resigned that sleep was most likely done for the night a shy 2 hours in, curled into a spoon for Holly to buffer her Ninja moves from who knows what type of distress and my mind kicked into "let's analyze the crap out of this to try figuring this out" mode.  I actually started to drift off again when Holly started pummeling Ivan in her sleep and in a sleepy daze, he failed to retreat to safety.

I slide ever closer to the edge of our king bed, barked at Hubs to slide over on his side, making more room and hoping to create a buffer zone. Unfortunately, I was closer to the edge than I realized and conked my head on the corner of my nightstand.

OH. MY. GOD it hurt!  I was seeing stars.  As I laid there, desperate for sleep, I forced myself more awake to analyze my hit.  I've had 3 concussions, so I started running down the symptoms, wanting nothing more than to close my eyes and sleep.  Closing my eyes brought out the stars.

Crap, crap, crap!  It took a mighty force to sit up, peel away from Holly and stealthily place a pillow hoping she wouldn't detect the change.  Then I tried to climb around the foot of the bed to avoid the slumbering kids and let Hubs know why I was getting up.

Then I headed to the bathroom to assess the damage of the nightstand hit.  Gawd almighty... the last thing I wanted to do was turn on that freaking light to look at my pupils.  And the wild imagination scenarios running through my head were just ridiculous!

Light on, eyes fighting to stay open, I peered into the mirror to see that my pupils looked fine.  Phew... but damn did my head hurt.  And I was nauseous.  So, I grabbed a blanket and curled into the end of the couch with my laptop.  Trying to stay awake at 4 am is NOT easy.  I wanted to try staying up for 2 hours to monitor myself for a concussion.  I know... crazy right?!

Yeah, knowing my history  -  not so much.  I've had 3 concussions and the last one was from bumping into the corner of the couch trying to avoid a direct, head-on collision with Holly.  So yeah, concussion was totally feasible.

I managed to stay awake for an hour and a half before calling it quits and sinking into sleep.  And then I woke to both kids piled on top of me smothering me with hugs and kisses at the crack of dawn.  Not nearly enough time to sleep.

I got up slowly, trying to reassess my head.  I'd love to say all was well, but I've spent the rest of the day monitoring myself and making sure Hubs was taking notes.  I've continued to be dizzy, nauseous and had a headache that won't let up.  My thought processes seem slow and I'm feeling stuck at times.  At one point, Hubs asked me to help him with something in the kitchen.  I got up and went there and stood in the middle of the room in a daze, looking around trying to remember what on earth he'd just asked me to do.

I've felt like I've been wading through vaseline today.  Most of my symptoms could be attributed to the fact that I got almost no sleep and I'm hoping for that.  Something about having 4 concussions before the age of 40 just doesn't sit well with me.  And yet, I know there's nothing to do at this point besides updating my doctor and monitoring myself.  Hopefully a good night's sleep will recharge and replenish and all this will be written off as sleep deprivation.  Only time will tell.