Monday, May 31, 2010

Sick Little Baby

We spent our Memorial Day in the hospital with our sweet little 15 month old baby. He has a viral respiratory infection and is on an IV and oxygen. We would love your prayers as he recovers. Our other chickadees are with my parents so you may want to pray for my mom and dad too. The kids are happy as june bugs, my parent's house is better than Disney Land for them. The doctors say that the baby has to be off of oxygen for 24 hours and go for 4 hours between breathing treatments before he can be released. Thank you for praying for our family.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Being Primarily Herbivore

Several people have asked me in the past few months about our family's transition to eating vegetarian and I finally have a quiet moment to talk about it. The quiet moment is thanks to my husband and brother taking four of the kids to the park while the baby naps. Sweet bliss!
Early this spring our pediatrician recommended that I read a book called The China Study. It is an amazing book about a scientist's career long study of nutrition, particularly animal protein and it's link to various diseases and overall health. If you are a food and nutrition nerd like I am, you will find this book fascinating. The author details how his study led his family to eat a vegetarian and eventually vegan diet. Like him, I never imagined my family would go in that direction, it seemed pretty extreme. However, after reading this book I can't continue to eat and feed my family the same.
Some disclaimers, we have eaten several vegetarian meals a week for budget reasons for years so the idea of building a meal around something besides a piece of meat wasn't a huge stretch for me. Also, I have the most willing husband in the world when it comes to trying new foods and new ways of eating. I think it comes from being single and starving for a decade before we met and were married. If you have subsisted on ketchup and pickles for years, lentils look pretty tasty. Actually, I couldn't have found a better man for trying new things on, he's game for anything as long as it tastes good. Our kids are young and we have worked hard training them to eat what they are served so there isn't any problem there. I cook one meal and everyone eats it. If there is a particular thing that I know they don't love then I will serve them a smaller portion and eventually they get used to it or find that it's not yucky. We have always eaten lots of vegetables and salads and they have enjoyed them since they started eating regular food. When the younger ones see their siblings and parents enjoying broccoli and squash they want to get in on the action.
Another thing is that we are eating meat about once a week, usually when we eat at a restaurant or with someone else. Joe loves grilling burgers so we have done that a few times. I'm not planning any meat into my menus but if we have company he will stop by and pick up some meat. When we do, I try to have lots of vegetables and salad to go with it so I can mainly eat that. On occasions where we are eating at someone else's home I will eat more vegetables and keep the meat dish as the smallest part of my meal. The kids are free to eat as they like from what is offered to them but I have noticed they focus on the vegetables too.
Dairy has proved to be the most difficult thing to eliminate. I have only been at this for a few months but the dairy substitutes are quite a transition for me. So I am still buying and using cheese and butter but the amount I use is probably a quarter of what it was before. Exploring vegan eating is going to be an ongoing process for me and one that I am excited about. In my cooking I try to avoid any animal products but don't get too strict with it.
As far as the benefits of vegetarian eating, I am amazed. I have not gained as much weight this pregnancy and don't have as much trouble with heart burn issues. Dairy is the big one for me in that respect. Ice cream doesn't taste quite so good when you know you won't be able to sleep later. The biggest change though has been in the total stop of low blood sugar spells. For years I have had hypoglycemia and since I stopped eating animal products it has gone away completely. I never realized that my diet was creating an imbalance that resulted in my body making excess insulin, I just thought I needed to eat more. Now that I have a healthier diet that isn't a problem at all. Joe has lost weight and we all have more energy. Overall it's been a great change and new way of living for us. I can't see us going back to our old diet anytime soon but for now we are taking it slowly and trying not to be too rigid.
Coming soon will be some of our weekly menus with recipes if you are interested in trying some good family friendly vegetarian meals with your family. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as we have.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Splish Splashing

My little one has finally overcome his aversion to his feet being muddy or wet. Thanks to his siblings, he has been introduced to the joys of puddle splashing. Our weather has obliged with plenty of rain so there has been no lack of delightful puddles to splash in. At the end of our street is this particular driveway that has big shallow puddles that all my chickadees have discovered at the age Little Brother is now. Lots of memories down in that driveway!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Swaddling Blankets

Last week I made these blankets for a friend, I had to wait until after her shower to post them. They are great! Each blanket is one and a quarter yard of flannel so they are square. Much bigger than standard receiving blankets, they are designed to swaddle the baby snuggly like the nurses at the hospital can magically do. On each blanket I appliqued three circles of the contrasting fabric for decoration. What I couldn't believe was how hard it is to find flannel for a boy, but I really like this combination. I'm thinking I need a set for my little one who hopefully will arrive by the Fourth of July. Of course, I'll need to make a boy set and a girl set, all the more fun!

Monday, May 17, 2010

100th Post and and Exciting Recipe!

This is my 100th post! I have to say that this blogging thing has been more fun than I imagined. It's very gratifying to me to share bits and pieces of my days with who ever will listen. Oh and to do something that isn't undone in 5 minutes is psychologically necessary for me at this season of life. I can hear all you moms saying AMEN!
To commemorate this momentous day I am posting a Very Exciting Recipe for you. This concoction has changed my life and has won the hearts of several people I know. Are you ready? It's natural ant killer. See, I told you it was exciting.
Last spring brought the migration of black ant through our part of the world. Growing up in Louisiana makes one slightly immune to the threat of ants. We had black ants, sugar ants, fire ants (never was immune to those), carpenter ants and many other kids of crawling pests. As long as it wasn't a fire ant it just didn't bother me. Whenever I saw one I'd just get rid of it and not think of it again. Well, then one lovely morning I walked into my kitchen to find a swarm of them on my countertop and that was it. A swarm of anything just grosses me out.
As it happened the termite man came that day for our annual termite inspection and after I told him about the ants he kindly filled my spray bottle with some of his noxious poison to spray on the pests. After repeated warnings of how dangerous it was and how it could kill snakes and small animals, you can imagine how thrilled I was to spray it around my kitchen. So I looked up natural ant killer and found a recipe that used things I already had. A few hours later my container of goo was filled with dead ants and they never came back! When a few were found this month scoping out our kitchen again, I made up another batch and again we are ant free. It's the best thing ever!
All you need is borax, sugar, peanut butter and a small plastic container. Ants are attracted to sugar and protein, so the sugar and peanut butter act as bait. The borax is toxic to bugs. The ants eat the bait and die, then they are carried back to the colony where the other ants eat the dead ones (grotty, I know) and before long the whole colony is toast. Borax is toxic to people too if you eat a large amount so if you have small kids, make sure you keep it up out of reach. Or don't worry about it if your kids don't eat everything they see like mine.
Here's how to make your own ant killer. Mix 3 parts sugar to 1 part borax. For my trap I used 6 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of borax. Add just enough water to make a paste then stir in a teaspoon of peanut butter. I use a small plastic container that I can throw away after the demise of the ants. Use a knife to carefully poke some holes around the top so they can get in easily.

Here you can see a photo of my lovely trap. I would show you the inside with all the dead ants but it's pretty gross. Although after the plague last year I wanted to show everyone my dead ants. Now, run out and get yourself some borax and get rid of your ants. You can send me tokens of your gratitude when you see how quickly your ant problem is gone. Just don't send me your old ant trap, I know how excited you will be about it but just tell me, I'll believe you. Good luck!

Friday, May 14, 2010

From My Window

This week my "little" brother (he's over six feet tall!) came to stay with us. He folded laundry, washed dishes, cleaned and best of all, entertained all five kids outside for hours on end. Pretty impressive for a 17 year old! Can you find four kids in this photograph?

From my bedroom window. Have a beautiful weekend!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greek Stuffed Peppers

In our new venture into full-scale vegetarianism we have come across quite a few hits and this stuffed pepper recipe is one of them. I guess you could call it a formula instead of a recipe since it is so flexible, kind of a use what you have and what you like kind of thing. If you like red peppers more than green, go for it. Maybe olives or feta doesn't float your boat, substitute something else or leave it out. Personally, I could eat feta cheese until the cows come home or at least until my kids catch me with it and make me share! So here we go, Greek Stuffed Peppers.

Throw some brown (or white) rice in a bowl. I figure on about 1/2 cup for each pepper half so I used 5 cups this time. Also, this is a great dish to use leftover rice in. I try to cook extra rice whenever I'm cooking brown rice since it takes longer to cook. Leftover rice is good for breakfast or using in a main dish like this one. Now, add the chopped black olives. I guess if you were really being Greek you would use Kalamata olives but we go for good old black olives around here. I keep a can or two in the pantry for our "finger food lunches".

While you are chopping the olives and measuring rice, you can saute some onion and garlic in some olive oil. How much onion you need depends on how many peppers you are cooking. I used 1 large onion and 2 big cloves of garlic. Onions and garlic are inexpensive and add so much flavor you can almost never use too much as long as you cook it properly. With something like stuffed peppers that won't bake very long you would want to cook the onions completely before adding them to the other ingredients. Crunchy onions aren't a great thing in some dishes.

Here you see my filling, rice, olives, sauteed onions and garlic, diced cherry tomatoes and a package of feta cheese. It's seasoned with salt, lots of black pepper and some oregano. Let me warn you, this filling is fabulous. I have to fill the pepper halves before I taste it or I can't stop myself. It would make a great dinner just like this without the peppers.

Speaking of peppers. While I have been chopping and sauteing, measuring and mixing, my pepper halves have been roasting. Just slice them in half and clean out the seeds. I lay them cut side down to roast so they don't get watery. Word of advice here, foil is your friend. Use foil with this recipe because peppers make a mess. It's much easier to throw out the foil than clean a pan. I'd put foil on my kids it it would make them easier to clean.

After the peppers roast for about 25 minutes (400 degree oven), turn them over, sprinkle with salt and scoop the filling into them. I always put extra salt on the peppers before filling because it seems like they tend to be bland tasting. Salt really perks them up. So don't be shy with the salt. After they are all happily stuffed, pop them back into the oven until they are hot all the way through, about 10 minutes, then serve with a big salad and some bread. Oh, and while they are baking you can eat the rest of the filling out of the bowl!

Friday, May 7, 2010

From My Window

Pink Cloud in full array soaking up the first rays of sunshine. From my bathroom window.

This week has been spent honoring and thinking about my husband's sweet Grandpa who passed away this past weekend. He and Grandma had been married 68 years! A World War II veteran, hard worker and loving friend, he is greatly missed.