I'm Becky... I have a wonderful husband of 9 years, a daughter who is 8, a son who is 5, 2 dogs, a cat, and an ever-lengthening list of interests and hobbies including knitting, gardening, cooking and baking from real foods, and sewing. I'm allergic to dairy but my family isn't so you'll see some recipes that include non-dairy modifications.
I do daycare from my home during the day so I can stay home with my children while helping to pay the bills.
I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. I've always had a bit of a sensitive stomach but a year an a half ago, it began to get worse. I was mis-diagnosed by several doctors and when they wouldn't take my symptoms seriously, I went online and did my own research. I went to my family doctor feeling pretty confident that I had IBS and he confirmed that I had IBS but he had very few suggestions as to how to help deal with it other then "learn to live with it". I had a prescription for a medication that could help ease some of the symptoms but it wasn't helping all the time. I was stuck with a daily stomach ache that would sometimes last all day. I tried probiotics, I switched to almond milk, and I drank chamomile tea. Each thing helped a little bit but nothing got rid of the stomach aches completely.
Two months ago, after reading a book on how to treat IBS, I completely gave up dairy. My stomach aches are 95% gone! I haven't had a "pit in my stomach" stomach ache since I gave up all forms of dairy. I still have a little stomach upset when I'm under stress but it's nothing like it was 2 months ago. It's such a relief to feel better that it makes giving up some of my favorite foods worth it. I've stopped taking all of the probiotics and I only take my prescription once or twice a month instead of several times daily.
The reason I wanted to share my tummy troubles here is that I've had to make some changes to recipes to make them dairy-free. I thought I'd share those recipes in case anyone else could benefit from them.
So, if I can't have dairy, how do I bake everyday? How do I live without butter? Here are some of my favorites....
Spreading on toast: Earth Balance (soy-free) It's a tub butter substitute that is non-hydrogenated and doesn't contain soybean oil. (I try to avoid non-traditional soy products). I like Earth Balances taste. It melts nicely and spreads well on toast.
Sauteing: Earth Balance Olive Oil Lard
Baking: If the recipe calls for melted butter: Olive oil, melted coconut oil, or melted Earth Balance If the recipe calls for creaming softened butter: *Lard, coconut oil, Earth Balance If the recipe calls for milk: Almond milk or coconut milk
Frostings: *Lard (though I'm finding the taste too aggressive) or Earth Balance I've tried coconut oil but it makes the frosting too dense
With Cereal: Almond milk (I like the original or unsweetened varieties)
*Lard: You might be surprised that I use lard but here are some of the facts about lard that most people don't know.... -Lard is a great source of Vitamin D -Lard has less saturated fat then butter -Lard has more mono-unsaturated fat (good fats) then Olive oil **Just be sure that your lard comes from animals not treated with hormones and the lard is NOT hydrogenated.
Unfortunately I still haven't found a way to make Mac&Cheese dairy-free and I don't think I'll ever be able to. It was my former favorite food but luckily the longer you go without a food, the less you think about it and remember how it tastes. I'm working on dairy-free ice creams but so far have only found so-so recipes. I'll be sure to post if I find a great one.
When you see me post recipes from now on, I'll put my dairy-free substitutions in parenthesis next to the dairy item in the recipe. I'm by no means an expert on the subject... just a food-lover trying to enjoy the things I've always loved.... without a stomach ache!
I was given 2 skeins of NoroOimochan Multi, color #4. This was the thickest yarn I had ever seen. It looks like dreadlocks. I kept staring at this yarn.... loving it but not knowing what to do with it. I searched Ravelry for what seemed like hours looking for what this yarn was meant to be. I finally settled on a slouchy hat. I used this pattern. It was a really easy pattern and because the yarn was so thick, it knit up in just a few hours. I used the leftover yarn to make a thin scarf.
Now I just need winter to hurry up... heck, I'd take fall right now if I could get it. It's going to be 94* here today. Maybe if I keep knitting winter wear, cool weather will show up. It's worth a try!
I recently tried my hand at knitting with lace weight yarn.
This is lace weight yarn. It's only slightly thicker then sewing thread. I wanted to make a delicate shawl as a Christmas gift. I tried the "Huck Lace Shawl" from the Morehouse Farm, Merino Knits book. I used a size 5 needle. It took me a bit to get the hang of knitting with such thin yarn. I made lots of mistakes... some noticeable and some I could only see if I looked for them. I was determined to keep knitting despite all of the mistakes. I had made pretty good progress.
The lace pattern was looking really nice and it got easier and easier to knit with the thin yarn. I was feeling pretty good.... then I snagged the yarn. A long piece of yarn from the bottom edge of the shawl was pulled out three inches long. No big deal, I thought... I'll just gently tug the shawl each way until that loop of yarn goes back into place.
"SNAP" Lesson learned: Lace weight yarn is really delicate and breaks really easily.
So, because of my many mistakes I had already made while knitting the shawl and now the snapped yarn and unraveling bottom, I decided to frog it (unravel it). So now my ball of Grignasco Regina "Merino Fine", color 431 is back in a ball, just as it started. I guess that's the great thing about knitting. If you make a mistake or it's not turning out how you thought it would, just unravel it. The only thing you've wasted is time but I enjoy my time knitting so even my time wasn't "wasted".
I think I'll give this shawl another try in a few months but I'll knit it for myself so there's no time deadline and no stress about the mistakes I make.
Does anyone remember Rainbow Brite? As a child of the 80's, I loved Rainbow Brite. I'm pretty sure my love off all things rainbow is due to having loved Rainbow Brite. I love organizing things by rainbow order. I worked in a small country store in college and on slow days would organize the candles in rainbow order.
You can imagine my excitement when I came across this yarn in the clearance bin at my local yarn shop. It's Mochi Plus, Crystal Palace Yarns. Color 551, 80% Merino, 20% Nylon. I bought the 2 skeins that were left and decided to make myself some colorful mittens.
This yarn is so soft and fun to knit with. The colors are so saturated and blend so smoothly from one to the next that I kept watching the yarn as I knit, waiting for the next color to start.
I used the "Easy Mittens" pattern from One Skein Wonders. I changed the pattern a bit by making cuffs of 2x2 rib instead of a rolled cuff. I also knit 16 rounds with each thumb instead of 14 rows to leave room for my fingernails so they wouldn't rub the end of the mitten. I loved this pattern and will certainly use it again. It was very easy to knit and I am happy with the shape of the mitten.
I had to join a second ball of yarn on the second mitten but I don't mind the jump from green to yellow because it's still in order. The first mitten also has a lot of yellow in the finger area and it went back into orange instead of going to green which kinda bugs me but I'll try to get over it.
I think these mittens will brighten any dreary winter day!
Last week was recipe week.... this week will be Knitting Week. I have so many projects completed and I haven't blogged about them. I'll be all caught up by the end of the week, hopefully. There are a few I won't be able to show you since they're Christmas presents. Those will have to wait until the New Year.
While reorganizing my posts the other day, I came across this partially written, though not published post. I finished these socks 2 months ago but never finished blogging about them. I knit up these socks much faster then my first pair since I wasn't intimidated by the process this time.
I followed the pattern the adult sock pattern that went with "The Art Of Knitting II" sock knit-a-long. I knit one inch of 1x1 ribbing at the top of the cuff and did the rest of the cuff in stockinette (because I hate knitting lots of rib). I did a better job this time of not making the socks too long. When decreasing for the toe, I decreased 2 rounds and knit 1 instead of decreasing 1 round and knitting 1 round. This made for a more blunt toe. I liked the shape much better.
The yarn is SteinbachWolle, AktivEffekt (75% wool/25% polyamide) in color 71888.
Ever since we went apple picking, 2 weeks ago, I've been steadily trying to turn 3 of the 6 bushels into applesauce. It takes me about an hour to peel and chop enough apples to fill my 4 quart crock pot. I have about a bushel left.
I usually freeze my applesauce in quart containers (yogurt containers) but this year my chest freezer is full of chicken (a good problem to have). I decided to can my applesauce this year. This is the first canning I've done on my own. I can vaguely remember canning with my mom as a teenager and I helped my sister can venison during my last visit. So, with my sister's advice and a wealth of online information on how to can, I got started. It's actually very easy to water-bath can. Once I had everything laid out and ready to go, it only takes a few minutes to get everything in the jars and into the canner. My kitchen has looked like this many times in the past two weeks.
I love looking at the processed jars. I've made many types of applesauce and I love looking at the different colors.
So far I've made strawberry, blueberry, cinnamon, "apple pie" (extra cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit of sugar), and peach and cherry are in the canner right now.
Look how deep purple the blueberry applesauce is. I don't really have recipes for the fruit applesauce... it's more of a method.
When fruit was in season this spring/summer, I would buy in bulk, puree it, and freeze it in 2 cup bags. When my apples are almost done cooking in the crock pot, I put in one of the frozen chunks of fruit. Most of the time 2 cups of fruit per 3 or 4 quarts of applesauce is enough but sometimes I had more. I also add a bit of water, pinch of salt, and other spices depending on the flavor I'm making. I've added about 1/2 cup of sugar to some of my big batches of applesauce because my apples are a bit more tart this year then in years past. I don't like a very sweet applesauce though so 1/2 cup has been plenty for a 4 quart batch.
I can't wait to show you all of my jars lined up when I'm done processing them all. Now, we don't really have to open them, do we? All this work peeling, chopping, stirring, canning... just to pop open a jar and eat it so quickly... Oh well, this applesauce tastes so good that it's definitely worth it!
I just reorganized my post labels to make it easier to find recipes. I've now made categories for Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Desserts, etc. You can find them under "Labels" on the left hand side of the screen. I also have a "search" bar on the left hand side which makes it easier to find a specific post or recipe. You can search the word "broccoli" and find every post I've posted containing the word broccoli. Imagine all the fun you can have... okay, fun might not be the word... but it can help you find the recipe for Flourless Fudge Cookies. See, that's fun!
Have you ever read the ingredients on a bottle of chocolate syrup. I was not too surprised to learn that one of the first ingredients is High Fructose Corn Syrup. Months ago I stopped buying anything with HFCS after learning about how bad it is for your health. Here's is an excellent article about HFCS and how even when rats consumed the same amount of total calories, the rats that ate HFCS gained significantly more weight and body fat then the other rats that ate table sugar. Those animals that ate HFCS over an extended amount of time also had abnormally high body fat, especially in their abdomen and high triglycerides. It makes me so angry when I see commercials by the Corn Industry trying to convince us that it's like any other sweetener. For these reasons, I try to avoid it at all costs. . So, avoiding HFCS is one of the reasons I choose to make my own chocolate syrup. The other reasons are that it tastes SO much better then store bought and it's super easy to make. Here are the ingredients you'll need. Be sure to check your corn syrup brand to make sure it doesn't include HFCS. I found that the store brand included HFCS but Karo didn't. You need a bit of corn syrup to prevent the sugars from recrystallizing once the chocolate syrup cools.
1 cup cocoa powder 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup hot water 1/8 tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup 1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan, bring the cocoa, sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add vanilla, stirring to mix well. Let cool and then transfer to an air tight container. Keep in the refrigerator.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups of syrup.
I find that transferring the cooling syrup to a measuring cup with a spout helps to get it into my squeeze bottle that I use as a storage container without spilling. You can also wash out an existing syrup bottle and use it to store your homemade chocolate syrup.
Nothing goes better with chocolate syrup then homemade ice cream. Here's my favorite recipe for French Vanilla but I've now started using 2 cups of cream and 2 cups of milk. It makes it super creamy.
Give this recipe a try and I'll promise that you'll never reach for that bottle from the store again.
I've done it! I've finally found a granola bar recipe that I LOVE. I've found ones before that I've liked but none have been amazing. They're usually way too sweet and fall apart. This granola bar recipe has it all. It's simple, has few ingredients, they're crunchy without being hard, they hold together really well, and they're lightly sweet. I'd definitely recommend you give this one a try.
4 cups quick cooking oats 1/3 cup oil 2/3 cup honey 1 tsp. vanilla 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 cup chocolate chips (chopped) 1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional-I didn't add them this time)
Preheat the oven to 350*.
Spread oats on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Allow oats to cool to room temperature. Combine remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cooled oats. Spread mixture into a 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Press mixture firmly into the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool completely and cut into 16 bars. See how the oats in the foreground are darker? Be sure to stir often while toasting the oats so they don't get darker then this medium brown.
I'm glad I thought to chop the chocolate chips before adding them. Because the quick oats give the bars a finer texture, I thought big chocolate chips wouldn't work. Chopping them also made sure that each bite has a bit of chocolate.
Is it strange that I find ingredients pretty?
I used a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with Pam to press the mixture into the pan. (take the plastic away before baking, of course)
After they were cool and cut (this was tough so use a sharp knife and be careful), I put the bars into snack sized bags so they would be ready for lunch boxes or to throw into my purse on the way out the door.
I'm looking forward to trying different flavor combinations using this recipe. I think dried cranberries and pecans would be great. You could really add just about anything in place of the chocolate chips as long as they were small enough... cinnamon chips, raisins, walnuts, dried blueberries, candied ginger, the possibilities are endless.
If you're a maple syrup lover, this is the cookie for you. These cookies use maple syrup as the only sweetener. They're crunchy and with the great spices and syrup, they remind me of fall. Maple Oat Cookies (from Whole Foods Market.com) *Makes 20-30 cookies depending on size*
2 cups rolled oats 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of spelt flour (or just 3/4 c. all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour) 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 cup real maple syrup 1/2 cup oil 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350*. Place oats in a saucepan and toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until oats are slightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, oil, and vanilla until combined. Add maple mixture to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. The dough will be warm.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or spray liberally with Pam). Gently flatten dough with wet fingers until they're only 1/4-1/2" thick.
Bake until golden brown, 15 minutes (but check frequently because they didn't always take this long. Start checking at 10 minutes). You don't want to over bake them but they need to be golden brown to be crunchy. A lighter cookie will stay softer/chewier. Let cookies cool for a minute or two on the pan then transfer to a cooling rack to cool all the way.
This is a great way to use leftover chicken. It's also a great recipe to assemble ahead of time and bake when you need it. I made these enchiladas at nap time one day because our evening was going to be really busy. Homemade enchiladas sure beats fast food on a busy night. This picture really doesn't do it justice. Jon said this meal was "@#%&* Awesome!!" (very quietly so the kids didn't hear). Chicken Enchiladas
2-3 cups shredded chicken 1 1/2 cups corn (I used frozen without defrosting) (optional, leave out if you don't like corn) salt ~10 flour tortillas 1 recipe of Enchilada sauce (below) Cheese (optional for adding to the top before baking)
Enchilada Sauce 1 medium onion (diced small) 1/2 can tomato paste 1 8 oz. can no salt added tomato sauce 1 cup water 1 Tbsp. sugar 1 Tbsp. Chili powder (add more if you like spicy foods) 2 tsp. cumin 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. pepper **If you like spicy foods, add cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce. This makes a mild sauce since I'm a big wimp.**
In a medium sauce pan, saute onion in olive oil or butter until tender and translucent. Add all other ingredients and stir until well combined. Cook on medium for about 15 minutes stirring frequently.
You'll need a 9x13 baking dish lightly sprayed with Pam. In a medium bowl, mix together chicken, corn, and a sprinkle of salt (more or less depending if your chicken is already seasoned).
Take a tortilla and dip both sides into the enchilada sauce. Lay the tortilla on a plate and place a bit of filling on the tortilla. Roll the sides of the tortilla into the center and overlap as much a possible. Lay the filled tortilla with the open side facing down in the pan. Continue until you run out of filling.
I had a few extra corn kernels that I sprinkled on top.
Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top (and top with cheese if you like) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
These were just as good as leftovers the next day.
This week is Recipe Week here at The Stockpot. I have so many recipes that I've been meaning to share but haven't had the time. Hopefully by posting a recipe each day, I can get caught up. Let's start with cookies!Charlotte and I are packing her lunch each evening for the next day. I've been making cookies each Sunday so she can have a little treat in her lunch box. I bag them up on Sunday so I can quickly put a bag in her lunch box without any trouble. These Super Duper Snickerdoodles have been her favorite so far. They're Super Duper because of the addition of cinnamon chips. I've found the best price by buying them at a bulk food/Amish store but you can also buy them online.
Cinnamon chips and cinnamon sugar
Super Duper Snickerdoodles (adapted from this recipe by King Arthur Flour)
1/2 cup butter (softened) 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated lard (or non-hydrogenated shortening) 3/4 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp. vanilla 2 tsp. cream of tartar** 1 tsp. baking soda** 1/2 tsp. salt 2 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry flour (or all-purpose if you don't have or use Whole Wheat) 1 cup cinnamon chips
cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon or more depending on your taste) **You can use 2 tsp. baking powder instead of cream of tartar and baking soda**
Preheat oven to 400*
Beat together butter, lard, and sugar until smooth, then add eggs, again beating until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, cream of tartar and baking soda (or baking powder), and the salt. Add the flour and cinnamon chips until combined. Don't mix it too long or the cookies will be tough.
Place cinnamon sugar in a cake pan or bowl. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls into the pan of sugar and roll it around to coat it with sugar. Place sugar-coated dough balls 1 1/2 " apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to get lightly browned. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack.
Evan and I went to the local High School football game Friday night. Charlotte was spending the night at Nana's house (a reward for keeping her room clean and getting a great behavior report from school). Jon is the band director for this high school and I was looking forward to seeing the marching band perform during half time. It was a wonderful night for a football game.
I got to break out the blue jeans for the first time since April.
Jon was able to sit in the stands with us during most of the first half of the game.
I mentioned the other day that it was because of my brother and marching band that Jon and I met. Going to this game the other night made me remember that fall, nine years ago.
I had just graduated college and had started teaching 3rd grade in my hometown in Maryland. My brother, Chris, was a sophomore in high school and Jon was his new band director, fresh from IUP in PA. Being the good big sister that I am, and the fact that I was single and had nothing else to do on a Friday or Saturday night, I made it to each of my brother's band competitions and football games (where they performed at half-time). I knew my brother had a new band director and I knew that Chris thought he was great. My dad told me about a walkie-talkie conversation Jon had with is pit-crew (drums and chimes... not Nascar) on the way to a competition. One of the band parents asked "Are we there yet?" while they were still driving down the highway. Jon got on the walkie-talkie and said, "Yep, here we are! Start unloading the truck and let's get on the field." I think he had me from that moment. I loved that he was funny and he had an ease about him when he was around his students. He had their respect but he could have fun and joke with them.
So, with encouragement and help with wording from my mom , I got up the nerve to ask him out. Here's where my brother's help was vital. I first asked Chris if it would be okay if I asked out his teacher. When he said it was "cool", I asked him a big favor. I asked Chris to just say "Hi" to Jon from me. Chris reported back that Jon said "Hi back" to me. No, were weren't in 7th grade, why do you ask? Then I asked my brother to give Jon my phone number and say, "My sister says if you ever want to go get some ice cream, give her a call." (I don't drink coffee) I made him practice this over and over until he said it just right. After this, I waited.... and waited.... and waited....after almost a month and no phone call, I gave up. I guess he wasn't interested.
Then, a month later, the phone rings. It was Jon. He waited a whole month to call me because, he now admits, his life was going pretty good and he didn't want to "mess up a good thing" with a relationship. Apparently he had been unlucky in love but eventually decided to take a chance and give me a call. That first phone call was short but he made me laugh so many times. He told me his name was spelled Jonathan not Jona-thon because he's not a pledge drive. It apparently drove him nuts when people misspelled it. He invited me over for dinner the next night and I asked what time I should come over. He said, "I don't know... just.. whenever." I said, "Well, tell me a time so you'll know when to expect me." He said, jokingly flustered, "Fine, come over at 6:03."
The next night, October 21st, I made sure to get to his door exactly at 6:03. I was very excited that he invited me over for dinner because I imagined that this meant he could cook. Well, even though this wasn't the reality and, in fact, he could only cook well enough to survive, the meal was so adorable that it earned major points for the effort he put into it. He had already set the table (the table with the leg that wobbled) and served overcooked spaghetti with Ragu, applesauce, and garlic toast made in the toaster. To drink we had "Code Red" Mountain Dew, the thought of which makes me cringe now. I'll remember that meal for the rest of my life. No other man I had dated had gone to the trouble of making a meal for me. Certainly not a meal that required that they set the table and remember side dishes. After dinner we played "Truth or Dare" (a PG rated version) that included Jon having to dance with a broom, me having to throw a ball onto his apartment roof, and him having to shave 1 square inch of leg hair from his leg...and maybe it included our first kiss but I'll never tell. It was the best first date I had ever had.
I think we saw each other 4 or 5 times again that week and after that we were inseparable. We were engaged the following July and married the April after that. We've been married 7 years and it gets better and better.
Now, 9 years after that first marching band season, he held our son while he watched the football game. I am so glad Jon took a chance and called me.
Our team was beaten pretty badly but that's okay because I really don't go to watch football (I shouldn't say that too loud in the South).
I go for the band. I played clarinet. Almost all of my friends were in band. Most of the best memories from high school centered around it.
Evan had his snacks and his coloring book. Football? What football game?
The band performed their half-time show (that Jon wrote the songs and drill for). I love watching them. I get so excited waiting for the big moments. I still get goosebumps during those big moments or when they hit a note just right.