It’s been fun baking all kinds of yummy things all week with almond flour. Here is another recipe I tried today. It came out really yummy, but I think next time I will use maple syrup as the sweetener. Sometimes I find the flavor of honey just a bit too overpowering.

Ingredients

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled down
2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease a 9 inch cake pan with coconut oil and dust with almond flour.
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients.
  5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour into cake pan.
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cut into brownie sized squares when cooled off a bit.

Enjoy!

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist.

I’ve been thinking about what exactly I want to do with this blog, now that I am trying to resurrect it. What have I accomplished in the last 4+ years since I decided to stop going to the grocery store? How has my thinking, and my motivation for shopping this way, changed along the way? What have I learned that readers of this blog might enjoy as well? Can I look back and connect the dots in a meaningful way?

Let’s recap:

When I first started this project, back in 2008, I wasn’t much of a “cook from scratch” type of cook (<– ha, what an understatement!), but I did consider myself a fan of healthy foods. I’ve always liked fresh fruits and green salads. I would read ingredient labels, and preferred to buy foods without artificial ingredients or other funny additives. I didn’t forbid all junk food if we were out, but I didn’t buy things like soda, candy, cookies, potato chips etc to keep at home. I shopped at big chain supermarkets initially, but after I discovered stores like Henry’s, Trader Joe’s and Mother’s Market (when we lived in California) I much preferred to go there for more “natural” selections. I felt that these more “natural” stores offered the higher quality that I wanted, yet still had convenience and prices I could (usually) afford.

We also ate out quite a bit, spending a nice chunk of change on restaurants. Cooking at home just wasn’t a big part of our family culture. We were busy. Between work and school, and lots and lots of driving (did I mention we lived in Southern California and commuted hundreds of miles?) we just didn’t feel like we had time for elaborate home cooked meals. Eating was a necessity, yet figuring out what to eat also caused quite a bit of stress. The lost art of cooking was painfully obvious in our home. There was a lot of staring into the “empty depths” of the (plentiful) refrigerator. There was arguing with the kids over where to go out for dinner. There were meals made, and noses turned up. Cooking and gathering together around meals just wasn’t a part of our family culture the way I imagine it was a few generations ago when everyone sat at the table all eating the same food that mom had prepared.

In short, I am sure I was a quite typical busy, somewhat health conscious, mom who wanted to make good choices for her family, and that our family was simply, unquestioningly part of “the times” as Michael Pollan has explained in his article about the decline of home cooking. Yet, just like Pollan suggests, maybe the loss of cooking and the connection it provides a family was felt somewhere within me, on a subconscious level?

I had never even heard of Micheal Pollan at the time, yet I sensed that the supermarket was part of a giant industry that includes a huge marketing apparatus that manipulates consumers into buying whatever it is that “Big Ag” can make money off of. For me, quite often the experience of shopping for food with the kids in tow was stressful. I hated having to be that mom who always said “no” to the chips, cookies, sodas, candy, sugary cereals etc etc… How strange though that I never consciously questioned the insanity of shopping in a place where upwards of 75% of the “food” sold wasn’t something I would ever consider eating or feeding my kids. On some level, I must have known that I was a part of the problem since I was participating in it even though I thought I was being selective. Perhaps it took me so long to change things because I didn’t have a starting place for changing things, much less any alternative solutions?

Somehow, I intuitively came up with a single very simple rule that I hoped would change everything: no more going to the supermarket!

Looking back, that one rule was serendipitous indeed! It was the beginning of it all. Simply opting out from buying food at the supermarket, even if I decided to do it without knowing how things would pan out, freed me and inspired me to find alternatives. And now I can say that it is doable, and that you do not have to be a part of Big Ag if you don’t want to! And that feels good!

So that little recap makes me realize that this blog can help others who also want to opt out and are wondering how to do it.

  • How do you find alternative sources for ALL your food?
  • What kinds of things should you think about when you buy alternatives? For example, this journey has helped me understand that it is not good enough to simply order online and have delivered the same food you can buy at the supermarket.
  • What kinds of skills do you need to learn to make the kinds of things you would normally buy at the store?
  • How much time does it take?
  • How much does it cost? Can you do it on a budget?

Is there anything else I could use this blog for? Let me know in the comments, please! I’d love for this blog to become a useful resource for others interested in opting out of “Big Ag.”

Nursing a newborn has me craving baked goods constantly. Here is what I am making today.

Ingredients

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (I use organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil from GloryBee Foods)
2 Tbsp grade B maple syrup (grade B has higher mineral content and more flavor than grade A)
2 cups frozen summer berries, thawed (or fresh works too)
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut flour (I buy it from Tropical Traditions)
1/4 cup raw local honey
2 large farm fresh eggs
1 tbsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. Pour your melted coconut oil and maple syrup in your cake pan.
  3. Add all the berries to the pan so they cover the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place this is the preheating oven for about 5 minutes.
  5. While your oven is preheating, combine all remaining ingredients in your mixing bowl and mix well using your hand mixer or by hand.
  6. Take your cake pan out of the oven and then evenly distribute it throughout the cake pan, on top of the raspberries.
  7. Once your oven is preheated, place your pan in and bake for about 20 minutes or until your cake passes the toothpick test.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.
  9. Once cooled down a little, place a plate on top of the pan and then flip it over putting the berries on top.
  10. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy!

We’ve been on an almond flour pancake kick lately, alternating between these dollar sized ones and bigger, fluffier Dutch baby style pancakes. The kids love them and gobble them up! And I feel better about the lower carb, higher protein content of almond flour. I’ve gotten pretty good at eye balling measurements, but here is my recipe to yield appx 21 dollar sized pancakes.

 Ingredients

1.5 cups almond flour
3 farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp oil (I use either sesame oil or coconut oil, but have even used olive oil with success)
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 Tbsp sweetener of choice (or omit altogether)

Directions

  1. Mix all of your ingredients together in a big bowl till you have a nice smooth batter. You might want to add the milk a little at a time to not make it too runny. Sometimes it takes just shy of 1/2 a cup to make it perfect.
  2. Preheat a dollar sized pancake pan. I like to use a cast iron plett pan (because it doesn’t have nasty Teflon nonstick coating and also because it reminds me of my childhood) with a lot of butter on medium-low heat.
  3. Use a tablespoon to scoop the batter into the pan. I find that a tablespoon is just the right amount for each plett.
  4. When you see little bubbles on top it’s time to flip them over and brown the other side.
  5. Serve with grade B maple syrup and fresh berries or preserves.

Enjoy!

I have these muffins in the oven right now. I made a big batch since I want to take some to a potluck at our friends’ out on Sauvie Island. Such a perfect day for a drive out there.

This recipe will yield 24 regular sized muffins or 48 mini muffins.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups almond meal (I like to use Honeyville almond flour, although I wish it was organic)
4 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp real salt or Celtic sea salt (I buy both from Azure Standard)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp cinnamon powder, sweet
1/4 lbd melted butter
6 farm fresh eggs (I used eggs from KTF vendor Cascade Grass Fed)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups walnuts, chopped

Directions

  1. Mash bananas in a mixing bowl with a fork or stick blender.
  2. Add eggs and butter and mix together.
  3. In another mixing bowl, add almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and stir until there are no clumps.
  4. Add the dry ingredients bit by bit to the wet ingredients while stirring.
  5. Add walnuts and chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop into your muffin tins. I find that almond flour muffins tend to stick a lot more than grain flour muffins, so I prefer to use muffin papers.
  7. Bake on 350F for appx 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

I came up with this dinner tonight when I was trying to think of ways to use the chicken meat I removed the other day off of the chicken I am making Perpetual Broth with. This recipe also uses some of the broth itself, which is great!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
splash of olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped – except for a few matchsticks for garnish
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped – except for a few thinly sliced pieces for garnish
2 cloves garlic and/or a few inches of garlic greens
Celtic sea salt, to taste
1 cup cooked chicken meat, shredded
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 cans coconut milk or cream (unsweetened)
appx 20 oz chicken broth
optional:  2 tablespoons fish sauce
a few sprigs of cilantro
some red chili pepper flakes, to taste

Note: Reserve some of the coconut milk, carrots, red bell pepper and cilantro for optional garnish. If you’re not grain free, you can add a cup of cooked rice to it too.

Directions

  1. In a soup pot, heat butter and olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onion, carrots, garlic and red bell pepper and cook till onions are soft, for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add curry powder, fish sauce if using and chicken to the pot.
  4. Continue stirring and sauteing everything until curry powder is completely incorporated (appx 2-3 minutes).
  5. Pour chicken broth and coconut milk into the pot and give it a good stir for a half minute.
  6. Salt to taste.
  7. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the soup to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Serve with a spoonful of coconut milk added on top with reserved veggies, cilantro and red chili pepper flakes for garnish.

Enjoy!

Making and consuming broth has been on my to do list for a while now, especially since I was diagnosed with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) about a year ago just before I got pregnant. There are a few different treatments for SIBO involving either antibiotics or going on a diet like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or the Gut and Psychology Diet (GAPS), which are designed to help restore a healthy gut flora. Broth is very nourishing and can also help help a damaged gut, so it is a big part of these kinds of diets.

So far my broth making has been sporadic at best. I am hoping this is going to change now that I have learned about Perpetual Broth! I discovered this method when I read this post about making stock by my friends over at The Liberated Kitchen.

I immediately ordered an 8 Quart Slow Cooker that could fit a large chicken, and added a stewing chicken from Taylor Made Farm to my KTF shopping cart. (This could also be a good use for any of your own laying hens that need to be retired.) Since I planned on using a whole chicken, as opposed to the carcass from a roasted chicken (since we don’t really eat chicken), I decided to research this method some more to make sure you can actually make perpetual meat broth. My conclusion was that meat broth should only be cooked for a few hours, so I modified the directions a bit for using a whole bird. Here is what I did/am doing. Today is just Day 1, so I will report back with any issues that arise.

Perpetual Broth

  1. Buy a pastured chicken from a farmer. If it’s frozen, thaw it in the fridge over night.
  2. Put the whole bird in your slow cooker. You can also add some veggie scraps such as parsley, onion, garlic and celery, a couple sweet bay leaves and a few peppercorns. 
  3. Cover the bird with filtered water.
  4. Turn your slow cooker up to high. When the water starts to boil off, turn it down to low.
  5. After a few hours, the chicken will be cooked. Remove the meat and reserve for other dishes, such as chicken stew or shredded chicken tacos. I cooked the chicken over night and removed all the meat off of the chicken about 12 hrs after I started cooking it, but this post says you can just remove the meat as needed for other meals you make during the week. I may try that in the future, but since we usually don’t eat chicken I figured it’d be safer to remove it all at once (and use up later) since I had read that leaving the meat to cook for that long could yield poor results.
  6. Throw the carcass and bones back into the slow cooker and continue cooking all week.
  7. During the week, as you need broth you can simple ladle out the amount you need and top off with more filtered water.
  8. From what I have read, the bones will continue to make broth for about 4-7 days until they are so brittle that they just crumble when pressed.
  9. At the end of their usefulness, strain the stock and bones through a colander or coffee filter. Use up the last of your broth and compost the bones.
  10. Wash up your pot, and start all over again!

 

Whoops, I can’t believe it’s been over two years since I have blogged!

I have to apologize for completely dropping the ball on documenting our journey towards real food. When I took on the project of “The Warehouse,” I just became too busy and a bit overwhelmed with figuring out everything that running a small business entails. It would have been wonderful to document the past two years — the mistakes, learning experiences, small victories — but suffice it to say the last two years have been crazy, busy, awesome, scary, empowering, hectic, inspiring, stressful, challenging, and wonderful all mixed together.

Our Farm Direct and Bulk Food Buying Club has grown and evolved a lot. We now have over 750 members and are helping more families than ever source better quality food, at better prices too. We work with many wonderful local farmers and vendors who produce real food without any weird stuff in it. It’s been so long since I have shopped for our food in a grocery store, that when I do end up going to a grocery store for an odd item here and there, I am literally overtaken by a feeling of surrealism when I see the aisles upon aisles of mass manufactured “food” in cans, bags and boxes. It’s amazing how learning about the manufacturing processes of, say, boxed cereal really changed my perception of this item that I used to regularly buy and feed my kids. I don’t think we will ever go back to buying that kind of “convenience food” again.

In other areas, I still have a long way to go. Keeping up with my garden has been a real challenge. As much as I tried, I have not been able to make our back yard produce much food for our family despite planting lots of fruit trees, berries and trying my hand at vegetable gardening. Mainly I found that I am away from home too much to be able to tend to my garden as needed. Too many times, a hot sunny day meant I’d return to 3 foot tall, bolted lettuce, arugula and broccoli. And the poor blueberry bushes suffered without irrigation. Another problem is that I don’t know how to prune trees at all. I realized I was a bit of a “garden hoarder,” not wanting to cut any of the luscious green branches off of any of our trees and bushes or thin any of the vegetable crops. As a result, everything grew like mad, but nothing produced properly. All the plants’ energy went to growing foliage instead of crops. We finally decided to hire someone to cut everything back, so I am hoping our fruit trees will produce some fruit now that they are properly pruned and I can finally enjoy that edible landscaping that I have been wanting.

Recently, the last of our chickens were killed off by racoons, so right now we are not producing our own eggs either. After that happened we decided to take a small break from backyard chicken keeping, but I really miss having our own fresh eggs, so I have ordered four new chickens from The Little Homestead — a wonderful small local farm that offers an amazing “All You Can Eat” CSA program, which includes a share of all of the farm’s production (including chickens). The farmer, Joanne, has agreed to raise the chicks for me to pullet size, which means I won’t have to deal with setting up a brooder indoors right now.

My idea of urban homesteading has not unfolded exactly as imagined. Instead it’s been put on the back burner, while I’ve plunged into learned about running a small business. Recently, however, I have taken a step back from all of these things to welcome our 4th child into our family. Our daughter Josephina Salomée was born March 28th, 2012, and we are still mostly at home, resting and getting to know each other. Soon enough we will have to get back into things, and figure out how to balance all the needs and wants of our family. With 4 kids, a home and a couple businesses to run (and a blog to keep up with if all goes well!), I am anticipating having to find a new rhythm in order to stay sane.