Saturday, April 23, 2011

gluten free pizza

A few years back I was trying to find out why I was so sick all the time.  Around the same time we went out of town.  As I was lying in bed at the hotel I was seriously contemplating whether I should take myself to the emergency room.  I stuck it out because that's what moms do.  We're pretty strong creatures.  Then, when I got home I took some blood tests and the doctor told me I had mono.  Over the course of a few months my naturopath worked with me to figure it all out.  In passing, she said, "I hope it isn't gluten."  As it turned out,  I was gluten intolerant and my immune system was so weak from the damage gluten was doing, I was picking up every disease that came along. So, I was finally on the path to wellness but I also began the gluten-free journey.  It was definitely bittersweet. 

  No more eating out at restaurants with happy ignorance.  As a matter of fact, eating away from home has been quite the challenge.  Even restaurants that say they have gluten free items on their menu have to be completely scrutinized.  It's all about hidden ingredients and cross contamination in the kitchen. And then there's just people that are totally unaware.  I used to go to this burrito joint and I was explaining to the line guy that I couldn't eat wheat.  He immediately brought out the package of flour tortillas and said totally straight faced, "No, these are made with flour."
  So, just to make everyone feel better, I had no idea what gluten was 4 years ago.
 What have I learned over the past few years?  There are so many things I can eat.  It's not a death sentence.  However, I've also learned that I will never taste the chewy pizza dough made from wheat again.  I will never eat the bread that I grew up on.  It was hard to say goodbye to gluten.  I still feel a little sad watching people make homemade bread made from wheat or other glutenous grains.

But...but, there are so many people these days becoming aware of gluten-intolerance and Celiac disease.  There are so many products coming on the market geared towards us folks that can't eat gluten.  I made pizza the other day that was so good that if someone asked me to choose between it and the glutenous version, hands down I would choose the gluten-free version.  It's made with simple ingredients (tapioca starch and flour, spices).  Add to that eggs, milk and Parmesan and you have a beautiful dough that you can actually knead out.  To feel the dough and roll it out was heaven.  The taste of the dough is perfect.  There's no xanthum gum aftertaste.  It's chewy and crunchy, just like regular dough made from wheat. 

I may try to figure out the recipe on my own sometime but I'll be making this pizza a lot from now on.  I just wanted to pass this on to people that might be interested (thrilled maybe) in trying something really good.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Spanish Springs Peak

We went to Spanish Springs Peak this weekend for a hike.  The trail was steep, the weather chilly, the views amazing and by the time we got back to the car we were completely worn out.  The wild horses were everywhere.  These below were watching us and then started running away along the top of the ridge.  It's really a beautiful spot and so close to our home.  We can get there in about 20 minutes.  That's why I love it here.

The wild horses are in the middle of the photo.

If you could have been there and heard the birds.  It was a loud chorus of gulls, meadowlarks and quail.

The start of the trip.  It was much colder than I thought it would be.

The boys love finding rocks.  They call them all diamonds or gold.

The clouds were also amazing.

The guys found a shooting target with bullet holes scattering it and the rocks behind it.

We all stay pretty close at first then we tend to spread out and go at our own pace.

Reno and Sparks.  The mountains you see here are the Sierras.

The hills are dotted with junipers.  This little spot looks like a good place to find shelter if you are an animal!

Even the pooch was tuckered out!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

from the mouths of babes

"I'm going to paint because I'm an artist" ~ Eli

I'm always surprised and so proud of what comes out of my kids' mouths. They're not afraid to say it exactly as they see it. When they come into this world they're so pure and full of potential. I feel like my job as a mom is to nurture them and allow them to become anything they want to be whether it's an artist or chef or writer. Whatever they have a passion for, I'll support them in that pursuit.

My kids make me want to be a better person. Have you ever stared into the eyes of one of your kids and thought, "this kid is going to be way cooler than I could ever be!"? My kids make me believe in myself. They make me want to be creative in my own life. They push me to try new ways of looking at myself. For that, I am truly blessed.

I'm starting a new tag called "from the mouths of babes" so that I can document the hilarious, truthful, wise beyond their years, beautiful and crazy things that they say. I'm inviting you to share in the comments (or links to a post) bits of wisdom from your child.

Friday, April 8, 2011

bits and pieces

(Thank you for all the birthday wishes the past few weeks, it means a lot to me!)

Phew! That was a week. But the best part was the finale ~ an all night barf-fest. Eli developed a fever on Wednesday and I decided that canceling his (and his brothers) party would be premature. He seemed to get better and was fever free on party day. Then Sunday night rolled around and all heck broke loose. The most amusing part of it all was the singing yesterday morning. You'd be surprised at how many silly songs the kids and I and Jonathan can make up about vomit! I guess that's called turning lemons into lemonade?

I'm breathing deeply and fully right now, feeling relieved that last week went so well considering all that had to be accomplished!

The weather has been a mixture of glorious sun and swirling snow. I read in the paper that the Sierra's haven't gotten this much snow in a very long time. Something like 50 years and the wildlife will benefit greatly from it. We've been having bear problems the last few years with the fires destroying their food and drought limiting their food sources in the mountains. They've been heading down into the valley and causing quite the stir. Good snow.

So, back to the warm weather. We've been getting out in the garden and really cleaning up the place. We've been cutting down the old growth in our flower gardens and we've finally moved our chicken fence and made it into a pea trellis. On Sunday, I put on shorts for the first time this season and was blinded by my white legs. We've also been enjoying backyard bonfires and marshmallows.

And the next morning, the same view looked something like this!

I'm a few weeks into a hand sewing class I'm co-teaching at the home school co-op and I get pretty excited about projects. Last week we made frog bean bags. But before we cut out a whole bog full of frogs I had to make sure the kids could make them. So, I made a few prototypes filled with popcorn kernels and button hearts. The best part about this class is that I co-teach it and I don't have to cut out all 15 of these patterns every week!

I also have to share with you a delicious recipe for lentils that a friend e-mailed me. (thank you Rachael!) Honestly, I love cooking and I love good, simple, hearty, fast, cheap and kid friendly meals. I have this fetish for lentils and we've actually made this twice in the past two weeks. I'm going to try and make this recipe with red lentils but I love the look of yellow.

The recipe originally came from Sunset Magazine but I changed it a bit.

Ingredients: 2TB ghee, 4 cloves garlic, 2 cups yellow or brown lentils, 5 cups vegetable broth, 1 TB grated fresh ginger, Grated peel to one lemon, 1/4 cup lemon juice, salt and pepper, cilantro and lemon wedges for garnish.

Melt butter in a 3 quart pan over medium heat, add garlic and cook until just beginning to brown (about 1 minute).

Add lentils and stir to coat with butter, then add the broth. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until lentils are tender.

Add ginger, lemon peel, juice, salt and pepper. Serve over brown rice with lemon wedge and cilantro garnish.

Please let me know if you try it! ♥

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My sweet boy turns 9!

Solomon was born 4 years and 7 days before Eli. It's been difficult to really make each one feel special when their birthdays are so close together but I've been giving it the old college try. I guess that's why I haven't been posting the last week. Between soccer almost every day, cupcakes to bake and all the rest of life to manage, I've been busy.

So, I was thinking how I could do a post about Solomon, who by the way is so opposite from Eli that I wonder sometimes if they're really brothers. I decided to look through my photo albums and find some pictures of him when he was a baby. Can I tell you that looking at them again was so emotional for me?! It reminded me of how special and fragile these early years are for them. I was reminded of how much he's grown and how much I love this boy. I was also reminded that I need to take more pictures of myself with my kids. I need to hand over the camera to Jonathan more often!

Here's a stroll down memory lane with Solomon, just a few random shots that caught my eye....

I remember how hard it was to add another child to the family. How could I balance the love and attention? Some days I remember barely making it through. I remember taking a walk with Amelia before Solomon was born. I held her hand very tight. I couldn't imagine loving any child more than her. When I had Solomon as you know, you have enough love for two children, it's just learning how to balance that's hard. It wasn't until Solomon was about two that I was able to get better at balancing.

Amelia was and still is the most loving and patient of older sisters. She loves her brothers so much.

Here, Solomon met his first cow. I remember how scared he was.

Solomon became a big brother a week before he turned 4. He takes his job very seriously.

We rented a Jaime Oliver video from the library when he was four. He decided then and there that he was going to be a chef. Here, he's made for me a piece of cheese with lettuce and ant garnish. Yum. He was very proud. I think there's something to this chef thing. He's my biggest critic and encourager when I cook for him. He's always describing the subtle flavors in my food. If I cook something that isn't that good, he'll let me know! He makes me want to be a better home chef.

Solomon is very silly sometimes and loves to laugh. He's very sensitive and sweet and gets embarrassed very easily.

Solomon LOVES his garden. Solomon is very intuitive and can pick up very subtle things in human interactions. When we're alone together he likes to talk to me about his deep feelings. He loves to draw pictures of machines and inventions he'd like to make. He melts my heart. Happy Birthday Solomon!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My sweet and spicy April Fools baby turned 5 on Friday. I know we all gasp when our babies have birthdays. "I can't believe he's one!, I can't believe he's 10!, I can't believe he's 30!" Well, I can't believe my baby turned 5. I just really can't believe it. He's such a blessing and just the right amount of sweet and spicy.

Eli likes using my phone to take pictures. So, this post is dedicated to his birthday and his perspective on life.

Here are a few things you may not know about Eli...

1. When he grows up he wants to have a monster truck with flames painted on the side.

2. Eli melts my heart when he tells me often, "I love you sweetheart!" I don't know where he got that!

3. When he wants to get our attention, he's screams "Hey people!" Everything he says is in the scream voice. This dear child has only one volume.

4. He loves a good cup of tea but he prefers chai with honey and milk.

5. He was born on April Fool's Day into a big tub of water in my living room. My first home birth.

6. He loves to draw. He'll draw all day long.
7. He always wants us to walk down the hall with him to use the restroom. I think he just wants someone's undivided attention.

8. After reading the "Little House" books, he insists he has golden hair.
9. He goes through about a box of bandaides a week.

10. He adores animals and will lovingly torture them to no end.

Happy Birthday Eli♥