Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Circle of Life

There's something that Hubby and I have been discussing for years. We've both researched it from one end to the other in books, websites, discussions with friends and acquaintances who have gone through the same thing. We've thought about the impact it would have on our kids. Would it scar them for life or would they take it in stride just as they do other issues that come up in our lives? Well, after years of talking about it, planning it, researching it and sometimes dreading it, we finally did it! What is it, you ask, gave us such worry? What could cause such deliberation and thought provoking discussions? Obviously I'm talking about the slaughtering of our dear, pet, noisy, fat roosters!

Several weeks ago, Hubby did the deed and culled 3 of our older roosters and 3 of our older hens. Then this past weekend he culled 4 of our young roosters. We were worried about how the kids would handle seeing or even knowing that we'd killed some of the chickens that used to run around the yard like pets. Would they cry, would they be ok with it, and even more importantly would they eat chicken again? Surprisingly the kids were fine with it. When they saw me going back into the run trying to grab another chicken to cull they helped me pick which one would go. "Should I take Red or Fluffy?" (yes, we had a rooster named Fluffy.) "Take Fluffy, he's mean!" And then later in the week when I cooked up Fluffy they ate him with little more protest than they usually do at dinnertime.

For the older roosters and hens, which didn't have the skin left on, I slow cooked them in the crock pot with some veggies and herbs to try to tenderize them a bit. The older roosters had the darkest thigh and leg meat that I've ever seen! I'd call it red meat rather than just dark meat. But I guess our roosters did a lot of running and jumping, which would darken the meat much  more than a factory rooster that spends its short life in a cage.

The younger roosters were roasted with the skin left on. It seemed much more oily than the birds you get in the store, but was sooooooo good!

Roasting the young birds consisted simply of putting the pieces skin side up on a cookie sheet, rubbing skin with a little butter then sprinkling a tiny bit of salt and pepper on top. I roasted at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I turned the broiler on in the first 10 minutes just to crisp up the skin, but I think that's optional.

Now that we have a few less roosters in the yard we should be able to mix our 2 flocks together getting the younger birds out of my garden. They've weeded it nicely and now need to go! I've got seeds started in the greenhouse and would like to get to work prepping the garden for planting some things outside. The chickens did destroy my strawberry plants, though, so I'll need to buy a few flats to replace mine.

I'm also glad that we've got some chicken in our freezer that I know has no antibiotics or hormones or other nasty stuff in it. I was there when those chicks arrived in the mail, and I saw them throughout their life. Other than the bugs, worms or weeds they found I'm pretty sure I know they ate throughout their life, and I know what kind of a life they had. And those are probably the most important things I want to know about the meat we eat.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Balsamic Chicken and Onions

It seems like I've only been posting Primal/Paleo recipes that are recreations of gluten and sugar filled foods. And I guess that's what people might not know how to do without some research, but eating Primal is so easy when you just focus on foods you already eat that fit into that category by their very nature. An example of that is a regular meat and veggie dish like Balsamic Chicken and Onions. I used to make this dish all the time years ago...well before trying to eat healthier and certainly well before eating Primal/Paleo. So when I was trying to figure out a new dish to make for dinner to break up the monotony, I remembered an old dish and decided to take it out for a spin again. Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken and Onions
about 10 chicken thighs or 4-5 chicken breasts
2 Tbs butter
2 Red or yellow onions sliced into rings
1 C sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/3 C Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown both sides of chicken in butter over medium high heat.
2. Add sliced onions and stir until onions are on bottom of pan and chicken is on top of onions.
3. Add balsamic, salt and pepper then cover and cook for about 15 minutes on medium low heat.
4. Add mushrooms, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Linked up to Homegrown Learners Wednesday "What's for Dinner"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another Chocolate Pudding Recipe - Paleo/Primal, Dairy & Gluten Free

I've recently been getting a box of yummy, organic veggies and fruits every week from Mother Nature Organics. I love it! I get some things I'd not normally buy, but have found I like them all the same. This has made me get creative in coming up with dishes that use these veggies and fruits. The other day I had a ripe avocado in my fruit/veggie bowl that looked like it was ready to eat. I've been eating guacamole quite a bit and didn't really want to eat it again that day. So I mined the recesses of my brain and remembered something I read in Deceptively Delicious a while back about making chocolate fondue from avocados. I pulled out that book and found that her recipe called for a LOT of sugar and margarine. That wasn't really what I was looking for, so I decided to improvise and came up with something that was very yummy with only 3 ingredients! And believe it or not, my picky picky son loved it. After knowing what was in it, my daughter decided she wasn't interested, but my son tried it and ate it! So give it a try!

Chocolate Pudding made with Avocado
1 ripe avocado mashed until smooth
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/3 C maple syrup (add bit by bit, stir then taste to get right amount for you)

Mash Avocados until smooth then stir in cocoa powder. Add syrup a little at a time tasting until you get the right amount of sweetness for you.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dr. Bronner's for your hair?

In my ongoing quest to use more natural bath products I decided to try out Dr. Bronners Conditioning Rinse to replace my regular conditioner. I'm already using and loving Babo Botanicals Lavender 3 in 1 for my shampoo, but I was still using the  regular Costco brand of conditioner for my fairly long and very thick hair.

I started out by reading the instructions on the Conditioning Rinse bottle, because this product definitely needs instructions. It looks a bit like thick molasses and smells like strong lemon juice. The instructions say to dilute one to 2 cap-fuls in a cup of water, stir, then pour over your already washed hair while combing with your fingers. The lemon smell almost overwhelmed me! But I guess since lemon is supposed to invigorate you, a strong lemon smell in your morning shower is a good thing. I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair and combed my fingers through it. Usually after conditioning my hair is very smooth, but this time it didn't feel quite that way. The bottle also suggests that for those with long hair they repeat the conditioning process. So I did. After the second rinse my hair felt much the same as after the first.

I let my hair air dry that day then brushed it after it was dry. I found quite a few tangles and just didn't feel my hair was as smooth as it had normally been. But I don't like to give up on a product after the first use. So I tried the conditioning rinse again a few days later, but got the same result. Dr. Bronner's also has a couple of leave-in conditioners that may give me the smooth and silky feel that I'm looking for, and I'll probably give those a try. I definitely like the natural ingredients and lack of parabens and sulfates in Dr. Bronner's products and may try the soap for shampoo when I run out of Babo. I have one of those great big bottles of the soap and plan to try it as hand soap, body wash and maybe laundry soap. If you have any experience with Dr. Bronner's I'd love to hear about it!

So to sum it up, after using Dr. Bronner's Conditioning Rinse I could definitely get a comb through my hair and it smelled pretty good, but it was definitely not as smooth and silky as it is when I use a chemical-laden conditioner. I may be ok with that on most hair-washing days just to be able to use a more natural product, but on days when I want my hair to look and feel nice, I'll probably go back to my Costco conditioner bottle...until I find a natural conditioner that gives me better results. Have you found a great natural conditioner?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Primal/Paleo Apple Crumble

The other day was Pi day (3.14), and as we all know you have to eat PIE on Pi day. Pie doesn't necesssarily fit into my Primal/Paleo lifestyle experiment, but I thought I could come up with something that would work just a well. Hubby requested an apple dish, which is by far his favorite dessert. He orders the apple-whatever every time we have dessert in a restaurant. Apples sounded good, but I had to come up with a crumble topping that would actually crumble. I usually use oats, flour and butter as the backbone of my crumble topping, but obviously none of those would work. So I gave almond flour and coconut oil a shot. I think the result was quite tasty, and the rest of the family agreed!

Gluten & Dairy Free Apple Crumble
1 1/2 C almond flour
3 tsp cinnamon divided
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C coconut oil
2 Tbs maple syrup
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 apples, peeled, cored then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 C unsweetened apple sauce

1. In one bowl combine flour, nutmeg, salt and 1 tsp of cinnamon. In another bowl combine oil, syrup and vanilla. You may need to warm the coconut oil until it's a liquid.
2. Stir wet ingredients into dry to make the topping.
3. Place apples in a 1-2 qt glass dish then sprinkle them with remaining cinnamon. Pour apple sauce on top of apples.
4. Crumble topping over apples.
5. Cover and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. When filling is bubbling up around crisp, remove cover and bake for another 5-8 minutes until crisp is golden.

I've listed this recipe at Homegrown Learners' Wednesday recipe day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Primal/Paleo style St. Patrick's Day Dinner

I love St. Patrick's day dinner! Every year I make corned beef and cabbage, roasted veggies and Irish Soda Bread. My friend, Debbie who is from Ireland, usually hosts a St. Patrick's day lunch where everyone wears green and brings green or Irish food to share. I usually try to bring soda bread to the party, but this year my Primal/Paleo way of eating posed a bit of a problem with that. The soda bread I've made in years past contains mostly wheat flour and buttermilk, which are 2 foods I'm not eating right now. But being the persistent person that I am, I had to give soda bread a try anyway. Once again, Elana came to the rescue with a soda bread recipe that mostly fit the bill, but I made a couple of tweaks of my own. 

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
~Irish Blessing

Gluten & Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread
2 C Almond Flour
1/2 C coconut flour (can use all almond flour instead)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C raisins
2 Eggs
1/4 C coconut or almond milk
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar

1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl mix all wet ingredients
2. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Add more milk or flour as needed to form a slightly crumbly dough.
3. Form dough into a disk shape then using a knife cut an X shape across the disk.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Crock pot Corned Beef and Cabbage
2-3 lb corned beef brisket with spice packet
2 C carrots (baby or regular sized cut into 2 inch pieces)
1 large onion cut into wedges
1 head cabbage cut into wedges
3 C warm water
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs honey

1. In a crock pot mix water, vinegar, honey and spices from corned beef package.
2. Mix in the onions then lay brisket on top of onions.
3. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours adding warm water as needed.
4. Add carrots and cook on low for 1 hour.
5. Add cabbage and cook on low for 20 minutes or until cabbage and carrots are tender.

See More Recipes on Homegrown Lerners' Wednesday recipe day

Monday, March 14, 2011

Primal/Paleo Pancakes - Gluten & Dairy Free

Every Sunday morning my family and I have pancakes for breakfast while reading the Sunday Paper. It's a tradition that we all look forward to each week. Since starting to eat foods that follow the Primal/Paleo lifestyle I've had to make a separate meal for myself which usually consists of eggs, bacon, sausage or similar. Now don't get me wrong, I love eggs, bacon, and sausage, but I wanted to share the traditional pancake breakfast with my family. So, I set off on a quest to find a pancake recipe that would fit my grain and dairy free eating plan but would also satisfy my family's taste buds. I started at Elana's Pantry and found this pancake recipe. It looked good, but I had to make some changes, because that's just the way I am. The following recipe is the one I made this morning for my family. My daughter had thirds so I think it was a hit!

Primal/Paleo Gluten and Dairy Free Pancakes
4 eggs
2 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs vanilla extract
1 banana
1/2 C Coconut or Almond milk
3 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
(I added chopped walnuts to my pancakes and the kids added chocolate chips to theirs.)

1. In a blender, mix Eggs, Syrup, Vanilla, Banana and Milk until smooth.
2. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the blender a bit at a time. Add more milk if the batter becomes too thick to blend. Batter should pour easily but not be runny.
3. Preheat griddle or skillet on Medium heat (300 degrees for griddles).
4. Pour pancake batter onto griddle or skillet making about 3 inch pancakes. Add any nuts or chocolate chips to the uncooked tops of the pancakes.
5. Pancakes will form little bubbles, when bubbles open, flip pancakes over and cook other side.
6. Cool on a wire rack or plate and eat immediately.
7. Makes about 15 pancakes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Make your own Emergency Kit

We've had an emergency kit in our garage for more than a decade. It includes such things as a tool kit, crank radio, crank flashlights, first aid kit, dust masks and the like. Our kit sits on our cases of bottled water next to our garage pantry that contains granola bars, canned food and such. But the numerous massive earthquakes that have been hitting the Pacific rim lately has now made me get off my butt to inventory our current kit, refresh any food and water that has expired, and add new supplies like more camping gear to our kit. I live in the Pacific Northwest, not too far from several volcanoes, an ocean and several fault lines...right in the Ring of Fire. I need to have a comprehensive emergency kit that will keep me and my family safe, fed and maybe even comfortable for at least a week if not longer. I also plan to put a mini version of this kit in each car. We already have a first aid kit, some extra food and water and a change of clothes in the car, but I'd like a few more things in there as well.

Also, as a side note, if you  live in an earthquake zone, never put your bed under a window or anything else that can fall on you. So hang those pictures somewhere else! And keep a pair of hard soled shoes and a flashlight close to your bed so when you are running around after the shaking stops, you're not stepping on broken glass in bare feet. I also read that the safest place to be if an earthquake happens while you're in bed is right off the edge of the bed on the floor. Even if the ceiling falls on the bed and collapses it, there's likely to be a pocket right next to the bed that is relatively debris free.

Now, back to the emergency kit! We have a Propane grill that lives outside and will be our tool for cooking if we're put outside due to an earthquake or fire, but I've also included things that would work if we had to build a fire. We're planning to put our kit somewhere away from the house so that it's accessible even if the house isn't. So here is what I plan to put into my kit.


Store water in long term storage containers, water bottles or hydration packs. Or you can purchase water pouches from emergency suppliers, but you end up paying upwards of $20 for a couple of gallons of water that way. Just be sure to refresh your water supply every 6 months or so if you're storing your own. Store one gallon of water per person per day and keep at least a 3 day supply. I'm going to try to put away a week's supply for my family. We also purchased a water filtration kit a while back for our kit. We have rain barrels that will capture water, but we'll need to boil and filter it if we need to drink it. I also included a small bottle of bleach with an eye dropper for sterilizing water. Water can be sterilized if boiling is not possible by using 4 drops of bleach per quart of water. Shake then let stand for 30 minutes before drinking.

Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Keep track of their expiration dates and refresh accordingly. Alternatively you can purchase energy bars that have a 5 year shelf life from Emergency Preparedness sites.

•Ready-to-eat canned or pouch meats, fruits, and vegetables
•Canned juices
•Freeze Dried Fruits, veggies or meats
•Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
•Energy Bars or granola bars

First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car or purchase a ready made one from the drug store or Target. I have a pre-made First Aid kit as well as the following additional items

•Assorted sizes of safety pins
•Roll of Gauze bandages
•Latex gloves (2 pairs)
•Surgical Tape
•Tylenol for Adults and Children's Tylenol
•Baby Wipes
•Bottle of Purell
•Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol
•Tube of moisturizer
•Prescriptions for 3 or 4 days
•Extra pair of glasses and a travel contact kit

Tools and Supplies
If you camp, you probably have most of these things in your camping supplies. And basically an emergency kit is just an elaborate camping gear kit. So use the same gear and save yourself money and time.

•Set of Silverware for each person
•Plastic plate for each person
•Camping frying pan
•2 Tin cups for heating water for tea/coffee/cocoa
•Emergency preparedness manual
•Pair of Work Gloves for all adults
•Hand Crank AM/FM Radio
•Hand Crank Flash Light or flashlight with extra batteries
•Cash and  change
•Non-electric can opener
•Utility or hunting knife
•glow sticks or candles
•Tube tent, Nice Tent or 2 large tarps
•Basic tool kit including Hammer, pliers, wrench
•Roll of Duct Tape
•Waterproof matches
•Plastic storage containers
•Paper, pencil, deck of cards, book
•Needles, thread (I used a mending kit from a hotel)
•Small bottle of Chlorine bleach and Medicine dropper for sterilizing water
•Shut-off wrench to turn off household gas and water
•Small shovel
•N95 dust mask for each person
•Photocopies of all important documents like driver's license, social security cards, passports, credit cards (front and back), Insurance policies, bank account numbers, and phone numbers for all banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, and any other relevant numbers.

•2 rolls Toilet paper
•Bar of Soap
•Small bottle of Dawn dish detergent
•Feminine supplies
•toothbrush for each person
•travel tooth paste
•travel shampoo and conditioner
•comb or brush
•Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)

Clothing and Bedding
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.

•Rain gear or poncho for each person
•Blankets and/or sleeping bags
•Mylar emergency blankets
•Hand warmers
•gloves and warm hat for each person

Great place to buy emergency supplies at a great price

Another list of supplies for emergency kit

Visit the Red Cross site for more info

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Afternoon Yoga in the Morning

After trying the Morning Heart Expanding Yoga Practice video by YogaYak the other day, I wanted to give the Grounding Afternoon Yoga Practice a try. However, my afternoons aren't usually as quite and child-free as my mornings. So, I tried Afternoon Yoga in the Morning. After sending the kids off to school, I rolled out my mat, turned off the lights and started the video. I love the teacher's voice and the ocean sounds in the background. It's so soothing and calm that you just melt into your mat during the initial meditation.

As with the Morning Practice, this one started with a nice warm up and Sun Salutation before moving into Warrior Poses. I found this practice to be a little more difficult that the Morning Practice. It included Wheel Pose (seen in the picture above), which I can't do, but it did give a modification for those of us who aren't quite as flexible as the presenter. It also seemed a little bit faster paced than the Morning Practice, which I liked. I would probably classify this video as Intermediate level, the same as they classify it, whereas I thought the Morning practice was more of an Advanced Beginner level.  It was a very nice video running 44 minutes. I plan to alternate this practice with the morning practice on days I am able to practice yoga at home.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Cauliflower rice, Lemon dill carrots and Homemade Vinaigrette

Here are 3 recipes that have been on my menu while I've been eating primal/paleo. They are all becoming staples around here, are very yummy and very healthy. Give them a try!

Homemade Vinaigrette
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon or other mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid. Tighten lid and shake until well combined. Refrigerate unused portion.

Lemon Dill Carrots
2 C baby carrots
1/3 C Lemon juice
2 tsp dill

Place baby carrots in a microwave safe bowl. Pour lemon juice over carrots then sprinkle with dill. Cover lightly and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Pierce carots with a knife or fork to test for tenderness. Continue microwaving in 30 second increments until carrots reach desired tenderness.

Cauliflower Rice
1 head of Cauliflower
1 tbs coconut oil or bacon grease or pan drippings from other cooked meat

Using a cheese grater grate the cauliflower using the large shredder. This will produce little bits of cauliflower that look like rice. When you have your desired amount, heat oil in a skillet then add the riced cauliflower. Heat on medium heat stirring continuously until cauliflower browns slightly. Remove from heat, cover and let sit until ready to serve.


Link up with Daily Organized Chaos' Wendnesday Recipe Share

Primal/Paleo Experiment Week 3

Today starts week 3 of my Primal/Paleo lifestyle experiment. I'm starting week 3 rather than stopping after 2 weeks because I'm not finding this very hard to maintain. I think my hardest day was the second day of the experiment. That day I had a fairly good headache most of the day. I assume that was the sugar withdrawal, but the lack of grains may have helped it along earlier in the week rather than the usual day 3 or 4 sugar craving. But after that day, I've not noticed any headaches or other sugar related symptoms. So, since I'm feeling pretty good and not finding it hard to eat good food, I'm going to keep it going. I suppose the goal is to eat like this all the time with the occasional splurge on sugar or grain-filled foods on special occasions. We'll see how it goes.

I've been experimenting with coconut flour this past week. I looked at both almond flour and coconut flour at the grocery store; almond flour was $12 for a 1 lb bag while coconut flour was $6 for a 1 lb bag. So I bought the coconut flour. What I've found, though, is that coconut flour is a bit tricky and I really need a recipe to make things with it. I took a cake recipe and a cookie recipe that both used almond flour and combined them into a cookie recipe based on what I had on hand along with the coconut flour. It turned out so dry that I almost couldn't eat it. So I crumbled the cookies up into a flour consistency, added a couple more eggs, a stick of butter and some raisins then re-baked them. The second batch was much better but it's still too dry to call a success. I've ordered some almond flour from Azure standard. At $28 for 5 lbs, it's still very expensive, but a much better price than the grocery store.

I have a feeling that if I really decide that Primal is the way I want to eat, I won't be using a ton of any kind of flour on a regular basis. I believe that trying to recreate the grain and sugar-filled foods with non-grain alternatives is just asking for disappointment. If I eat my meat, veggies, fruits, nuts and other primal foods, why do I need to recreate the others? I suppose snacking and breakfast are the main food categories that I haven't really mastered while eating primal. But I'm getting there. Below is a list of foods I've had on the menu while experimenting with Primal/Paleo eating.

  1. A piece of fruit (a pear, apple, banana, grapefruit, orange) and a few hand fulls of nut & raisin mix
  2. Primal Porridge
  3. Primal Smoothie (although this is not my favorite in the winter...I get too cold)
  4. Eggs and bacon (weekend meal) plus a piece of fruit
  1. Eggs with sun dried tomatoes and other available veggies
  2. leftovers from dinner the night before
  3. Nitrate free chicken sausage with on-hand veggies
  1. Mixed nut and raisin mix
  2. baby carrots dipped in homemade guacamole
  1. Roasted chicken legs, steamed broccoli, salad
  2. Pan seared then oven baked pork loin, lemon dill carrots, cauliflower rice
  3. Steak salad with red onion and tomato, homemade vinaigrette
  4. Primal meatloaf, sweet potato fries, garlic sauteed broccoli
  5. Dijon Salmon, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, salad

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Starting seeds in the greenhouse

The weather was nice this weekend; so I decided to clean out my greenhouse and get some seeds started. In the fall we raised chicks in the greenhouse, and they left it a mess of chick dust and manure. I shoveled 2 wheelbarrow loads of chicken poop out of there over to the compost pile before I could even start to really clean up the shelves and level the dirt on the floor so I won't break my ankle walking around in there. That took me most of yesterday. But today, I got to do the fun part of planting: I got to start my seeds.

I sorted out my planting trays and filled them with compost from our matured compost piles. I guess something must be working in those piles because they were filled with worms! Then I chose which veggies I wanted to start first. It's still fairly cold here getting into the high 40's during the day, which means that some seeds won't germinate until it gets warmer. But I tried to pick seeds that can germinate a little earlier in cooler weather, and the greenhouse will elevate the temperature a teeny bit when it's closed up.

I decided to plant Peas, Spinach, Romaine Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Onions and Radishes in this first go-round. As the weather gets warmer I'll plant more of my staples like Pole beans, beets, broccoli, soy beans, zucchini, yellow squash, kale, pumpkins, butternut squash...and probably more that I've forgotten.

But the process has been started and it feels more like spring already just for that reason!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cake Pops Again

The kids and I had a great time decorating the little monkeys and chicks the last time we made cake pops. So when a friend's birthday was on the horizon, I asked her if she wanted cake pops for her birthday treat. And, lucky for us, she said yes! This time around was a bit more difficult, though, because we were trying to eleminate as much of the dairy as possible to accomodate my friend's dairy intolerance.

I started with a dairy free cake, which turned out beatifully. I then broke part of the cake up into small crumbs. Since I was trying to eleminate as much of the dairy as possible, I omitted the frosting that usually gets mixed into the cake. (In hind sight I realize I should not have omitted this step. I should have mixed in something else that was dairy free like jam to give the cake crumbs extra moisture.) I then rolled the cake crumbs into balls and put them in the freezer for about an hour to harden. Meanwhile I melted about half of a bag of dark cocoa candy melts in a glass bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals at half power. After the cake balls were frozen I took a paper lollipop stick, dipped the tip of the stick into melted candy melts and tried to put the stick into the cake ball. Unfortunately the drier nature of the dairy free cake without any moisture ammendments made this part very tricky. Most of my cake balls split when I tried to put them on a stick. I did my best to hold the ball together while spooning a bit of candy around the bottom of the ball next to the stick and onto any large cracks I noticed. I then, set these aside to let the candy harden before moving on with covering the rest of the cake ball. The crumbliness of the cake also led to lumpy candy as cake bits often dropped into the candy. So, I didn't get any smooth cake pops this time around, but we improvised and tried to make the lumpy cake pops work for us.

The kids and I decided to make roosters and cats out of our dark cocoa cake pops, which I think turned out fairly nice considering the circumstances of their creation.  We used large heart sprinkles for the roosters' comb and small heart sprinkles for the beak. A small heart sprinkle made the cat nose and small confetti sprinkles were eyes. Chocolate chips were the cats' ears.

I think the next time we make these I'll definitely add in some frosting or jam and will let each bit of candy coating harden before moving on to the next step. So I'll dip the stick in candy and put the cake ball on it, then let it sit before moving on to the next step. Patience is the key to these treats, I'm beginning to realize. But no matter how they look, they always taste very yummy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

I grew up reading Dr. Seuss and having it read to me. Most of my childhood memories of reading involve one Seuss book or another. And now that I have children of my own I love reading Dr. Seuss books to them more than any other.

There are so many simple truths in Seuss books that are stated in ways that children can understand, but sometimes adults pass over and don't really grasp...or maybe don't want to grasp. Either way, if we can learn these wonderful truths as children and hold fast to them, maybe we can still remember how to understand like a child when we are are no longer small.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the great Doctor.

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” from Oh the thinks you can think

“I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights." from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened"

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

"A person's a person, no matter how small" from Horton Hears a Who

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish


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