As Seen On Pinterest: Cucumber Water

Source: wp.me via Dallas Ann on Pinterest

 

I had such high hopes for cucumber water. It seemed an easy way to get my water down. Almost elegant. I’m not a fan of the taste of water and I don’t like the water flavor additive packets you can get at the store.

At the first sip, I paused. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or if it tasted how slugs would feel sliding down my throat.

Second sip, I still couldn’t decide.

I drank the entire half gallon over the next 2 days (couldn’t bring myself to put it to waste) and came to the conclusion that the idea is lovely but it’s all slugs to me.

In case you’re curious, here is the recipe I tried:

Cucumber Water

2 quarts cold water
1 medium cucumber, washed and thinly sliced
3 sprigs of mint, gently crushed

Mix all ingredients together and thoroughly chill. Sip and enjoy.

Best Popcorn EVER

I'm being nice and sharing my stovetop cinnamon and sugar popcorn.

Cinnamon and Sugar Popcorn

I’ve never been a lover of popcorn. As a kid, it was fun to watch the kernels explode out of the air popper and try to anticipate the optimal bowl position to avoid any on the floor or counter top. Popcorn at the movies was always a special treat, but it was more part of the experience than something I would choose on my own.

Then I grew up, had kids who couldn’t eat gluten or dairy products, and I had to find easy snacks on a budget. Not too easy. We tried air popped a few times with the traditional salt and the kids seemed to hold the same opinion as I did. Too much butter on the top and all the salt sunk to the bottom of the bowl. A friend suggested trying the traditional stove top popping method before giving up completely. After one try, I’ve never looked back. This stuff is GOOD.

There’s no real recipe. Instead, it’s more of a method. You pour oil into a heavy bottom COLD pan. Add however many corn kernels you want. The trick is to have enough oil to puddle around your SINGLE LAYER of kernels. If you didn’t add enough to begin with, pour in a bit more.

Turn on your burner to a medium or medium low. You know your stove top the best. It really is trial and error.

Keeping the pot on the burner, shift it around a few times every minute (to allow the kernels to evenly heat) until your first kernel pops. Quickly add your seasoning of choice, evenly sprinkling over corn. Keep shaking it!

Add a lid to the pot and continue to shake it, occasionally lifting it off the burner to shake the pot up and down to get all the tasty bits evenly coating the popcorn.

As soon as you hear the last pop, pour all your fluffy bites of hot deliciousness into a large bowl to prevent burning in the pot. Wait, if you can, for it to cool enough to touch and enjoy.

So far, we’ve tried the traditional salt flavoring and also adding cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon and sugar meets my cravings for hot breakfast toast, which is nice! I wouldn’t recommend using butter as the oil but if you want the butter flavor, maybe try using imitation butter flavoring. It’s completely vegan (though it does have yellow food dye) and scarily, tastes JUST like the real thing. I wonder if that’s what the movie theaters add to their popcorn oil to create the butter flavor, since popcorn from movie theaters are dairy free.

Stovetop Popcorn from Dallas Ann Prentice on Vimeo.

This is a video of Miles experiencing stove top method for the first time. Completely hilarious.

p.s. Is there a word that just feels misspelled every time you write it, even though you KNOW it’s right? Kernel is one of those for me. My brain nearly exploded writing this.

Gifts

Sometimes, the smallest things express the most love. Love makes wishes come true.

Sometimes the smallest gifts, when given in love, make wishes come true.

On Turning Three

Look what Daddy brought home from work!!!!

Dear Miles,

You turned three today, buddy boy. You love balls, loud noises and smashing towers. Shoes that stomp make you giggle, as does hugging your baby sister. You shout, “I no eat it!” as you frantically throw my dark chocolate wrapper behind you with sticky sweetness smeared over your face. You’re a pretty good natured guy who is too curious for his own good. Your ability to go from zero to epic disaster is a bit legendary and I can only pray you outgrow your curiosity based destruction asap.

The adoration for your new baby sister radiates from your very being. I often get frustrated with your manhandling and constantly talking loud in her face, but I do my best to remember to show you appropriate expressions of love instead of simply shouting, “Don’t touch the baby!”

Some days, I despair of you ever getting along with your big sister. Then, I see you valiantly defending her to a child three times your size on the playground. While I explain to you that we must use our words and not our body, I inwardly cheer you on.

This year has seen some big changes for you. We went gluten free (no more beloved crackers or sandwiches!), moved to a new house and your baby sister was born in our living room. You’ve taken all of these changes in stride, your mischievous grin never fading.

I’m fairly convinced you will be the child to cause me to prematurely gray. You constantly keep me on toes and I know you’ll give me a run for my money this year. From the playground, I’ve learned I have to just sit back. More often than not, you succeed at what I think you won’t be able to accomplish. You are constantly climbing to new heights, making friends and giving me heart failure. If I don’t interfere, you meet your goal and I am amazed. By now, you’d think I would have become accustomed to your success but it never grows old. More often than not, it blows me away.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy. May you always be able to eat cake ‘n’ eggs for breakfast, cake ‘n’ hotdogs for lunch and chicken ‘n’ cake for dinner on your birthday.

Much love,

Mama

Happy birthday, buddy boy! Cake 'n' hotdogs! He loves the birthday singing, too. ❤

Cake with dinner! Last, but not least, chicken 'n' cake!

And because I’m terribly nostalgic, here is a link to his birth pictures.

Perspective Versus Deprivation

I use to love food and every aspect of it. Planning meaningful meals around seasonal produce. I found an almost meditative experience simmering this and that on the stove while prepping produce and herbs in between stirring pots. It was an outlet for my creative process and one I enjoyed immensely. The smells, sounds, tastes and sharing with others was always something I looked forward to.

Now?

Some days, I hate food. I hate planning it. I hate prepping. I hate cooking. I even hate eating it because I have no mental or emotional energy left to even enjoy it. Some nights, I wish we could all swallow a single pill that would meet all our nutritional needs for the day and just leave it at that.

So what changed?

Over the last five years, I have slowly and grudgingly realized that my family is healthiest when not consuming dairy or gluten. Last year, we discovered gluten makes my kids not sleep. Dairy causes a whole host of other problems (the oldest has an epi pen for her dairy allergy!). This has sucked so much joy out of cooking for me. No more cream based sauces, pastas, sandwiches, toast (mmmm hot sourdough toast with salted butter), cheesy eggs, not to mention very little eating out.

These dietary restrictions and budgetary constraints pretty much decimated my cooking repertoire. I spend a lot of time combing the internet, looking for kid friendly and husband friendly meals. It is a lot of hit or miss. A lot of discouragement. We’ve tried eating gluten free vegan, paleo (minus the dairy) and everything else in between. Nothing seems to really work well for us.

When I step into my kitchen, I feel beat down, discouraged and deflated. I can’t bake cookies with the kids on a whim. It requires forethought and careful planning. Do I have the appropriate “flours”? Can I sub what the recipe requires for what I have in my pantry? If I don’t, is it worth the time to pile all the kids into the car to go to the store and can I justify the nutso prices for a recipe we may not even like? By that point, I’m too mentally tired to even try.

Don’t even get me started on sandwich bread.

I use to hold it together by telling myself that this is only a stage and as time passes, we’ll be able to go back to a more “traditional” diet. Then as more time passes, I realize that this is truly a new lifestyle and not just a life stage.  Now, I feel like I’ve finally hit a turning point. I can’t live like this. No, I refuse to live the rest of my life with this attitude towards food. It’s not healthy.

Instead of trying to recreate former dishes or yearn for things that are now forbidden, I try to find new favorites. Trying new favorites right now is difficult because we truly are in a temporary stage. Having a tiny baby pretty much takes away any cooking options other than what’s quick and easy. In time, this will change. Hazel will grow and become more content to sit by herself and can I simmer this or that on the stove while chopping fresh produce. I won’t be so exhausted by having three young children that I will be able to take the time to make up my own flour mixes to facilitate experimenting with sandwich bread.

In the mean time, I will enjoy things like this delicious breakfast:

Breakfast was delicious.

Simple eggs, fried in coconut oil, over black beans seasoned with cumin and salt, served with garden fresh tomatoes. I liked it so much that I had it again for lunch, only adding tapenade and sweet onion mustard to top the eggs. Amazing. It was practically a food party in my mouth!

Then, I discovered these cookies on Pinterest. Gluten and dairy free and needing ZERO strange flours. Peanut butter, an egg, sugar, cocoa powder. Chocolate chips (which I ran walked to the corner store for!). That’s it. Again, amazing.

Slowly, I’m turning the corner. Some days, I do stomp my feet over meal planning or sigh in exasperation at the grocery store. Those moments are coming less frequently as time goes on. If I focus on what we can have, what we can enjoy, instead of zeroing in on what we can’t experience, it is just easier all around.

These are some places I go for gluten and dairy free inspiration. Not all recipes meet our dietary needs, but I can generally modify them with ease.

Gluten Free Girl. This is a brilliant, brilliant blog. Be sure to check out her Ratio Ralley for creating gluten free flour mixes. And please, PLEASE do yourself the favor of getting a food scale if you’re going to do GF baking from scratch. It will make your life so much simpler.

Roost: A Simple Life. I come here and take a deep, calming breath as I look at the pictures. There is something deeply calming about her writing style and images. The recipes are gloriously documented in stunning pictures and they are, for the most part, attainable by the basic cook. She bakes almost exclusively with almond flour, which makes it easy to stock the pantry. Not all of her recipes are dairy free.

Once A Month Mom. Freezer cooking at its finest! They provide a dairy and gluten free menu (for free!) once a month. I’ve found this to be a wonderful resource. Not everything has been a hit with my family but that’s to be expected. This really is gluten and dairy free cooking for the busy family. Spend one day cooking all the things and you’re set for the month.

Dallas Ann’s Pinterest Board . If you’re a Pinterest fanatic, take a look at my GF/DF pin board. I haven’t tried everything, so I can’t vouch for it, but it may trigger some inspiration for you.

Instaweek

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Some highlights from my week, via Instagram. Follow me @Candiedginger. ❤

{1} Ella’s eye dilation experience.
{2} Broke the cardinal rule of motherhood and woke a sleeping baby.
{3} Spider children.
{4} Dancing in the rain. Finally!
{5} After a 4 month hiatus, I’m picking up knitting again. It feels so good.
{6} Cooking is community.

As Seen On Pinterest: Sidewalk Paint

The kids loved sidewalk paint! It didn’t load well onto regular paint brushes, so they used q-tips for painting. It worked well enough, though I suspect that sponge brushes would work best.

2 TB corn starch
4 TB water
Gel Food coloring until desired color. I used neon shades and it seemed to need a lot of food coloring to get the shade we wanted.

Mix well and have fun! Washes off easily with water to create a clean canvas for next time.

Meaningful work (kind of). Scrubbing the front porch at Mama's request.

Sometimes, I think Miles enjoys the cleaning more than the painting.

Serenity Now

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After a stressful day, this is how I find calm.

Conversations: Death

On our walk this morning.

Often, our morning walks find us meandering towards the local cemetery. I’ve found myself avoiding it because I didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable questions. The rituals surrounding death have always created unease in me but as time has passed and Ella persists with her questions, I’ve had to set my discomfort aside to address her curiosity.

Our destination, per Ella's request. I think she may be a bit dark and twisty. ❤❤❤

The opportunity arose one morning when Ella directed our route through the cemetery. We had a calm and basic conversation about death and traditional customs. Things were kept simple and causes of death were limited to very sick and/or very old. I found it so refreshing to listen to her thoughts. Her perspective was so uncomplicated and the entire conversation was easier than I thought it would be.

As I’m discovering, very few conversations are onetime events. She thinks and thinks and thinks about things, processing and coming to new conclusions on her own before bringing it up with me again. Almost a week passed before death appeared in our conversation again.

Generations

She sat on a bench as I finished in the grocery checkout line and stared intently at the elderly gentleman sitting next to her. Once we were out of the store, she blurted out, “Mama! Is that old man going to die soon? He’s really, REALLY old.”

I’m just glad we made it out of hearing range before we had that conversation!

InstaWeek

Moments from the past week, via Instagram. Feel free to follow me @CandiedGinger.

That spot in the middle is for me.    The current love of my life

stalagmite ice cube. It's a mystery.    For you.

Treasures found.    Etch-A-Sketch : Life Skills

Decompressing with a ridiculous book and a (finally) sleeping sad baby.

{1} I get the middle. {2} My current love.
{3} Mysterious stalagmite ice cube. {4} For you, Mama.
{5} Treasures. {6} Life skills, via Etch-A-Sketch
{7} Decompressing after a week of a Man Cold.

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