Dairy Free Spinach Dip

IMAG1957We had a fondue night with some friends, and needed a non-dairy dip for our lactose intolerant daughter. I wanted something like a cheesy spinach dip, without the actual cheese. After browsing many spinach dip recipes, I decided to try a dairy free white sauce, mixed with spinach. To give it a bite like cheese, I added cayenne pepper.  This is really good with chips, cheddar cheese, and bread.

 

4 T butter*, coconut oil, or olive oil3-4 T cornstarch or arrowroot
2 C coconut milk
dash of cayenne pepper
salt
pepper
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 C FD** spinach
1 1/2 C chicken stock or water

*Our lactose intolerant can handle small amounts of butter.**freeze dried

1. Melt fat of choice in a sauce pan. Add cornstarch to thicken. Stir in coconut milk and heat over medium heat to thicken. Add spices and Worcestershire sauce.

2. Heat spinach and stock until stock is mostly gone.

3. Add reconstituted spinach to white sauce. Heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes until thick. Stir frequently.

Remembering 9/11

AdorableIt’s been twelve years since that terrible day. Life continues as normal, although we have since experience a recession that we never fully recovered from. I have children now, who have no idea such a thing has occurred on the land they live on. One day I will teach them of that event, and how I was there, and Daddy was there, and Grammy and Papa and aunts and uncles, but we were on the other side of the country, so we were just watching the news in horror that day. I had teachers that disobeyed rules so we could watch the news all throughout their class. I remember the second plane hitting, and the plane in Pennsylvania going down. I remember my mom talking to me about myths that had started spreading that weren’t true, and helping me understand what was going on.

The next day, the moment of silence took place while I was in my health class. I wrote a poem in my English class. It wasn’t very good, because I was still too young to fully grasp what had happened. In my poem, though, I wrote about how we Americans came together and supported each other and loved one another. In my short life, I had never seen America so united, and it was wonderful and inspiring, and sadly short lived. For now, I teach my children about patriotism. They love the flag, and keep begging for fireworks. They got to see my cousin receive his Eagle Scout award, where they experienced a flag ceremony with a color guard and a room full of at least 50, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. And, one day, I will teach them about that day when something terrible happened, and America united.

Zucchini Raisin Cookies

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, and to make up for so much time not posting anything, I have a fantastic recipe that will use up all your giant zucchinis that got away from you. One giant zucchini can probably make three or four batches of these delicious cookies.
zucchini cookies

2 C water
1 C raisins
2 C flour
1/4 t salt
1 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t cloves
1/2 C butter, soft but not melted
2 C zucchini, shredded
1/2 C honey

1. Boil raisins in water until only 1 C of water remains. Reduce heat to medium so as not to loose too much water, and add more water to bring up to 1 C if needed.

2. While raisins are boiling, combine flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl.

3. Add butter to the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender.

4. Add zucchini and honey to the flour mixture.

5. Add 1 C of raisin water and raisins to the flour mixture. Dough/batter (it’s kind of in between the two) should be thick.

6. Spread on greased cookie sheet.

7. Cook at 375°F for 15 minutes.

Viola! Delicious zucchini and raisin goodness in mere minutes.

Everyday Reasons for Storing Water

waterWe store water as part of our food storage. Not in the massive quantities that are possible, but we have enough five gallon jugs for about a week. In the four years that my husband and I have been married, we have needed to use our emergency water stores twice. First, when we moved into our house in the middle of winter, and second, just recently during the heat of summer. We have used them while camping, but that was just to empty the jugs so we could refresh them.

When we first moved into our house, we noticed that the tub in the basement was backing up with dirty water. After a lot of drama, and finally taking things into our own hands, we found that the sewer line was broken. This affected all aspects of life at home. We couldn’t shower, use the toilet, do laundry, or turn on the tap, because the water wouldn’t drain. Our emergency water became our drinking water, and other needs were taken care of at family’s houses. Thankfully our kids were all in diapers at the time, and thankfully a sewer line break constitutes an emergency, and thankfully the weather was mild enough that we weren’t forced out of our house until the break could be fixed. The break was repaired within two days, but all the drama before taking things into our own hands took about a week. We used all of our water, and refilled a few times at family’s houses.

This second time, for some reason unknown to us at this time, our tap water has a very sour taste. It is so bad that even our reverse osmosis filter cannot get rid of it. The water for our city is ground water that collects in a few different wells. The only filtration process it goes through is while it seeps through the Earth to the wells. The city then adds some chlorine and sends it on to us. Letting the Earth filter your water is actually a legitimate way to get clean water, so long as there aren’t pollutants for the water to come in contact with. Thankfully the sour taste is subsiding, but it has been good to have our water stores to drink from while that happens.

And, those are two everyday reasons to store water. Crazy emergencies that involve breaking out the 72 hour kits may never happen, but you will still need water for the small emergencies that happen all throughout life. Storing water brings stress levels down even when the incident may be as small as the water tasting a little funny.

Spelt Pancakes

IMAG1702Spelt is a grain, very similar to flour, but it behaves slightly different. It has gluten, so it will hold things together, but it doesn’t keep things in a nice, tidy package. I experimented with Spelt today by making pancakes for breakfast. When I got it right, they looked amazing and were delicious. The first two attempts, however, produced flat pancakes, that nobody has wanted to try so far. Those two were just Spelt. With mouths to feed, I gave up on my Spelt experimenting, and added some whole wheat flour. The results were great. Still mostly Spelt, with a bit of flour, the pancakes held a perfectly round shape and fluffed up nicely. I cut up a peach for topping, and put some butter, honey, and applesauce on the table as well.

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Here is the recipe:

2 C Spelt flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 fresh chicken eggs (or just one if your chickens lay large eggs)
1 1/2 C buttermilk
3 T butter, melted
1 T honey

In a large bowl, combine spelt, wheat, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Add wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix until moist. Add honey and mix as well. Cook 1/4 C at a time on a hot skillet. Top as desired, like this little girl is doing.

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Freezing Peaches

IMAG1646Peaches are God’s gift to the Earth, and it is finally August! They are my absolute favorite fruit, and I refuse to eat any others than in season, Utah peaches. The one exception to that is frozen, Utah peaches (say, in the middle of January). I buy my peaches by the box, and never at the store. I prefer to go straight to the farmer. My favorite farm to buy them from is in Orem on 400 S and about 250 W. I discovered them last year, while on a ReStore run, and have been stalking them since the end of July of this year. The farmer is very kind and added extra peaches to my box, which was only $18!

To freeze peaches, you need a few supplies: a big pot of water, filled half way, snack size bags, quart size freezer bags, a sharpie, a colander or large plastic bowl, a draining spoon, and a knife. You will, also, need free stone peaches. Free stone means that the peach will come right off the pit without much effort on your part. This is essential for preserving, so that you can save your sanity.

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First, clean your sink. Do your dishes, and scrub all the gunk off the walls of your sink. You need this area to be clean, because your peaches will be down in there.

Second, boil that big pot of water.

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Third, while the water is coming to a boil, use your sharpie to label the quart size bags, “Peaches” and the date.

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Fourth, once the water has come to a boil. Add as many peaches as you can. Boil for 30 seconds. Set your timer, so you get it right. Then pull the peaches out using the spoon, and put them in the colander or plastic bowl. Rinse the peaches in cold water, to stop them from cooking any more.

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Fifth, get a snack sized bag ready to be filled. Remove the skin of a peach, which should just rub off. Cut the peach in half. Remove the pit, and cut the peach into eight pieces. Put all eight pieces in the snack sized bag, seal, and put in a quart sized bag.

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Sixth, once there are four snack sized bags in one quart sized bag, seal the quart sized bag, and place it in the freezer.

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Tips: If skins on your peaches don’t instantly rub off, they are probably under ripe, or not the kind of peaches that do that. Either way, you can peel the peaches with your knife. If you wait an extra day or two, they may ripen up enough to rub the skins off.
If you can’t fit a whole peach in a snack sized bag, simply remove one slice and put it in the next bag.

Why the snack sized bags?

Two reasons, freezer bags aren’t always perfect, and double bagging fixes that. It keeps the peaches from getting freezer burned. Second, the snack sized bag makes it easy to portion control. When you pull out one snack sized bag, that is one peach, and probably enough for one person, depending on what you will do with it.

Combating Boredom

BoredIn an effort to get out of debt, we have given up on eating out, buying new clothes (unless absolutely needed to protect from the elements), and shopping in general. In doing this, we realized that these are the things we do when we are bored. We spend money when we are bored. So, together, my husband and I came up with a long list of things to do if we are bored. This list could, also, apply to anybody trying to break a bad habit they developed out of boredom, such as boredom eating or face-stalking. If anything on this list doesn’t help you achieve your goal, simply cross it off. There are plenty of other things to do. Feel free to add any ideas you can come up with to combat boredom in the comments below.

  1. Go to the temple.
  2. Do the dishes.
  3. Read a book.
  4. Do a puzzle.
  5. Play a board/card game.
  6. Go to Trafalga. (with the passes we already bought)
  7. Go on a hike.
  8. Organize a room.
  9. Sweep the floor.
  10. Build electronics.
  11. Sew a dress.
  12. Play the piano.
  13. Dust out a computer.
  14. Fly a kite.
  15. Go for a walk.
  16. Ride a bike.
  17. Mow the lawn.
  18. Take a nap.
  19. Watch a movie. (instead of TV, because it ends and you can get on with your life)
  20. Prepare meals for a week.
  21. Read to kids.
  22. Build with blocks.
  23. Play house.
  24. Crochet a scarf.
  25. Plant seeds.
  26. Dust a room.
  27. Vacuum a room.
  28. Weed the garden.
  29. Play at the park.
  30. Cross stitch.
  31. Play a video game.
  32. Do charity work.
  33. Go to the library. (but don’t be late returning books)
  34. Go to bed.
  35. Make play dough.
  36. Paint/color with kids.
  37. Throw stuff away.
  38. Start a conversation on the ham radio.
  39. Write a book.
  40. Read scriptures.
  41. Draw scenery.
  42. Play the guitar.
  43. Practice Spanish. (or any language you want to learn)
  44. Visit friends and family.
  45. Make new friends.
  46. Learn what all the camera settings do.
  47. Pick up a new skill.
  48. Sing a song.
  49. Write a poem.
  50. Call a friend.
  51. Write a letter.
  52. Go to a museum. (the free kind)
  53. Build a paper airplane.
  54. Make paper snowflakes.
  55. Make a kite.
  56. Jump rope.
  57. Organize digital pictures.
  58. Make a digital scrapbook.
  59. Fix garbage disposal. (or whatever part of your house is breaking down)
  60. Write in journal.
  61. Write music.
  62. Do yoga.
  63. Do zumba.
  64. Learn to run.
  65. Play soccer.
  66. Start a quilt.
  67. Go stargazing.
  68. Make dessert.
  69. Build a fort.
  70. Do laundry.
  71. Make cardboard stuff.
  72. Give a massage. (you might get one in return)
  73. Remove slats from blinds.
  74. Dance to music.
  75. Give yourself a manicure.
  76. Give yourself a pedicure.
  77. Organize closets.
  78. Organize bookshelves.

Toddler Temple FHE

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Today, for family home evening, we drove to the temple, and sat in the parking lot, while we explained to our girls what the temple is all about. They actually sat still, because they were buckled into their car seats. I explained that Mommy and Daddy got married in the temple, and some of the benefits of that, and that we can, also, do work to help the dead. When one of them asked to go in, we explained that you need a ticket (this made perfect sense to her, since we took a ride on a train a few weeks ago.) We told her it was called a temple recommend, and explained some of the things you need to do to get one. Then we let them hold Mommy and Daddy’s tickets, temple recommends. They thought it was really cool. When our short lesson was done, we got out and walked around on the grass and looked at the pretty flowers.

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Skillet Peach Cobbler

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It’s peach time! I love August for this one reason. To celebrate, I bought a huge box, and we’ve been eating peaches everyday. A new favorite breakfast side of mine are these cooked peaches. They’re very quick to cook up, and don’t have any kind of sweetener added.
4 Peaches
1/4 C Butter
1/2 t vanilla
1 T ground flax
1 T coconut flour
1. Remove the skins from the peaches. The easiest way is to place the peaches in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then drain the water off, and rinse with cold water. The skins will slip right off.
2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a frying pan. Slice the peaches and add them to the butter. Cook the peaches for about five minutes.
3. Add the vanilla, flax, and coconut flour. Stir to incorporate with the butter and peach juice. This will form a soft crust around the peaches.

Soothing a Sore Throat

sore throat remediesI got a sore throat in the middle of July. What a horrible time to be so afflicted. At least during the winter you expect to get sick a few times, but during the summer, you get sick and you have no idea why. I became a pro at soothing my sore throats when I moved into my first apartment during college. My roommates introduced me to the idea that hot chocolate is fantastically soothing to a sore throat, which it is, but later I reasoned that while it soothed my throat, it probably prolonged the sickness. So, I switched from hot chocolate to 100% orange juice. It’s very soothing, plus you’re coating your throat with high dosages of vitamin C.

Along with the orange juice, I drink a lot of water with drops of lemon essential oil in it. The lemon is very soothing to the throat, and helps to boost your immune system. The water by itself helps to keep you hydrated so that your body can effectively fight off the infection. I add the essential oil to my cup before I add water, otherwise the oil will just sit at the top, instead of penetrating the water

At night, I use a humidifier. This is particularly helpful during the winter, when the heater can make the air dryer than the Sahara desert. During the summer, when we have our swamp cooler running, even at night, it doesn’t make as much of a difference as far as humidity is concerned, but I add essential oils to a little compartment right in line with where the steam comes out. It creates a sort of cheap diffuser, and allows the oils to penetrate the entire room.

The best oil I have found for sore throats is On Guard, an essential oil blend by Doterra. On Guard is great for killing the germs that may be causing the sore throat. It has orange oil, which is used for sores in the mouth, and cinnamon, which is an amazingly potent spice when it comes to warding off disease. I rub the oil down my neck and along my jaw. I, also, use On Guard toothpaste to clean out my mouth and kill any germs that may be in there, and I gargle with a drop On Guard in a small cup of water, getting it as far back in my throat as I can without choking.

When I first started trying to soothe my sore throats, I was simply trying to find a way out of the pain, but in the process, I think I found a few ways to get over them quickly. My sore throats used to last a dreaded two weeks, and now I’m done with them in a matter of days. All of these soothing techniques are natural remedies that go beyond pain management to help promote health.