Monthly Archives: November 2009

Weekly menu plan

Shabbos – dinner – challah, chicken soup, chicken, carrot tzimmes, eggplant curry, mashed potatoes, chocolate garbanzo cake, protein bars, chocolate chip cookies; lunch – cholent (beef stew), kishke (baked stuffing), chicken, squash pudding, Israeli salad, fresh cranberry relish, desserts as above

Sunday – brunch – pizza (with gluten free crust); dinner – beef stew, squash pie, cucumber salad, coleslaw

Monday – b – banana custard; l – blended vegetable soup; d – shepherd’s pie

Tuesday – b – cottage cheese pancakes; l – cauliflower cheese soup, baked potatoes; d – turkey hash

Weds – quinoa casserole (NT); l – colcannon; d – homemade buckwheat noodles with sauce (either peanut sauce or meat sauce – to be determined)

Thurs – b- yogurt, sliced almonds (soaked and dehydrated), sliced bananas, shredded coconut; snack – celery with peanut butter; d – Thanksgiving – turkey, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, salads, green beans with almonds, pumpkin pudding, cranberry-pear pie

Breakfasts are supplemented with milk and fruit; lunch and dinner are supplemented with vegetables.  This week I’ll be picking beet greens, turnip greens, and spinach from our raised beds (the lasagna beds are being built up for the coming planting season, so nothing growing there).  When we planted it technically was too late, but I’m so glad we did!  Greens sauteed in butter or coconut oil are a great addition to any meal.

On Friday I was able to do a good amount of prepping vegetables for this week – I chopped a bunch of yellow summer squash and broccoli and put them in the freezer, so they can be pulled out and put right into the pot for vegetable soup.  Dd14 prepared 2 gallons of sauerkraut and 1 gallon of ginger carrots  to ferment.  A couple of weeks ago I soaked and dehydrated about 10 – 12 cups of almonds, so now I have plenty ready for the week.  For once, I don’t have any beans on the menu for this week, so I won’t be soaking or sprouting anything.

So today my prep work will consist mostly of dealing with the cases of bananas that I bought on Weds.  The kids are eating them up, but I still have at least sixty pounds left, and they won’t stay in this perfect shape forever!  I think I’ll do some baking with them – I’m thinking about making banana date muffins and banana bread.  I’ll freeze a bunch to use for smoothies, too.


Making time for discipline

A week and a half ago I posted about stopping negative behavior, and the following was asked:

>>What about when you are really busy? mentally? Your hands are covered in red beet juice? You are nursing a baby? your surrounded by carefully folded laundry and 3YO is jumping on the sofa? Do you drop everything else? Because that is my conundrum… I have other obligations than just spending time disciplining the 3YO.<<

Being busy with other things is a real challenge that we face every day!  Keeping your littles close by and in sight is very, very helpful in preempting problematic behaviors, and it’s a big first step.  But realistically, you can’t preempt everything, every single time – at least I can’t!

How I respond depends on what stage my child is at.  If they’re in what I consider the active training phase, then I make responding to situations that need my attention a top priority.  While raising a child is ongoing, the intensive stage of teaching them what is acceptable and what isn’t is pretty finite.   During this stage they’re learning that you mean what you say, every single time.

This isn’t convenient or easy for the parent.  That’s part of the power of your unspoken message to them, that helping them to learn proper behavior is your top priority and they’re not going to get away with something because you’re on the phone, in a store, or in the middle of something.  So if I’m nursing the baby and a child jumps on the couch, what to do when telling them to stop doesn’t produce results?  I stop nursing the baby and help the jumping child to stop (as I wrote about in the above mentioned post).  If I know that I won’t be able to follow up, I won’t make the request.  Better to ignore something than to tell them something you have no ability to follow up on, which teaches them that you can be ignored.

Practically, it means saving certain activities for when they’re not in need of supervision – when they’re napping, in bed for the night, or when they’re visiting a grandparent.  Cut down on what needs to be done – during the initial learning phase, drop your standards of your house, outside commitments, and anything else that will take away from your kids to the absolute minimum.  A number of tips I shared regarding making the postpartum period easier would be useful at this time.   Make super simple meals, use paper plates, and get to sleep early – it takes a lot of emotional energy.

I know how daunting it sounds to have to make supervising, preempting, and responding a top priority.  It sounds impossible, doesn’t it?!  But what you’ll find is that it really won’t require nearly as much effort after the initial time investment (how much that will be depends on your children and how much time they’ll need to get the message).   You’ll quickly find your kids’ behavior improving, since a) you’re not waiting for situations to escalate so they aren’t becoming the huge deal they may have been before (thus require huge amounts of emotional energy), and b) you’re consistently dealing with it right away so your kids are making a clear connection between their behavior and your response.  Very soon, you’ll find you’re spending much less time disciplining and much more time enjoying them.  The time investment is relatively small, but the payoffs are huge!


How to sprout beans

A friend asked me this morning about how to sprout beans, and I figured I’d post it today – it’s easiest to get the quick topics out of the way so I don’t have to keep them on my mind!

First of all, a quick reminder about why sprouting beans is beneficial.  Beans, like most grains, nuts, and seeds, have phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors in them.   That means that even though we think of beans as highly nutritious, we don’t utilize a good part of the nutrients in them unless they are properly prepared.  Beans are inexpensive and great budget stretchers, and it’s worthwhile to figure out how to use them to maximize their value.

Fortunately, it’s not hard! Simply put the dried beans in a bowl, and cover them with water that is room temperature.  Let them sit overnight, and in the morning, pour them into a strainer and rinse them off.  The beans will have absorbed all the water, and are ready to be used.  But if you really want to supercharge them, them you can sprout them!  This significantly increases the nutritional value.  That’s what I like to do.

Now that they’re soaked, put set them back in the original bowl and leave them on the counter.  At the end of the day, rinse them.  I rinse mine twice a day by pouring them into a strainer, running some water over them, and then putting them back into the bowl.  For simplicity, I rinse them once at night and once in the morning; it works well with my personal routine.  Twice a day seems to be a good frequency to rinse them, but I’ve often been lazy and just rinsed them once a day and they were fine. To clarify, after you rinse them, leave them in an empty bowl, not a bowl of water.

As they sit on the counter at room temperature, the soaked beans will begin to germinate.  Smaller legumes will sprout faster – within a day or two you’ll see little sprouts appearing at the end.  Larger beans take longer- generally 3 – 4 day, but it really depends on your household temperature.  In the summer, the beans sprout really fast!  How long you let them get depends on your personal preference.  If you want to use them as sprouts in salads, then you’ll want to wait a lot longer.  I use them in cooked dishes once I see the sprout emerging.

Soaking and sprouting isn’t hard to do, but it does require advance planning.  I plan my weekly menu on Saturday nights, and then on Sunday I begin soaking my beans for the week.  If you’ve been reading here for a while, then you’ve noticed that when I post my weekly menu on Sundays, I usually post the preparatory work that I’m doing for the week, too, including soaking beans.  Since large beans take longer to sprout, I generally plan them for later in the week.

What is you’ve soaked your beans and let them sit out for a day but they aren’t yet sprouted – and you need to use them?  Even if you don’t see the germination taking place, it’s still in the process and you’ll enjoy the benefits, so go ahead and use them!

By the way, lots of jokes have been made about beans and their flatulatory (did I just make that word up? :)) effect on the body.  We’ve found that soaking and sprouting the beans takes away that issue!

(This post is part of Fight Back Fridays.)


Adding blog categories

I wanted to let you know that in order to help you better navigate the site, I’m splitting a couple of the categories.  The category that used to be ‘recipes, menu plans’ will now be two separate categories.  So far I’ve transferred 33 weeks of menu plans to the new ‘menu plans’ category, leaving only 85 posts in the recipes category (most of which are recipes – there are still a handful of menu plans to re-label, which I hope to finish off in the next couple of days).

After that, I’ll be splitting the ‘nutrition, home remedies’ category into two. A blog is kind of  like organizing your house – there’s always something a little more you can do to make it more efficient!

I think this will make it easier for you to go through categories and find what you want.


Being where you’re meant to be

Yesterday we had such a productive day of shopping fun!  So now I’m basically set for the next month.  I bought a lot of dairy and potatoes with Chanukah in mind.  Generally we can squeak by on 50 lb of potatoes a month, but when the kids realized I only bought 65 pounds, they started clamoring for more.  They saw a sign as I pulled into a gas station right before getting on to the highway ’50 lb of potatoes for $12′, and since that was an amazing price, I followed the signs to the home of a Mennonite farmer.

What nice people! Our interaction, though not very long, was really nice.  She has eight children, about the ages of mine. When I asked her the age range, she said the oldest was 17, and then said ‘there would have been two more’.  I didn’t think I heard her correctly, so I asked her to repeat herself, and she told me she had two children who died- one at the age of 12 days, and the other at the age of 18 months.  They both died of the same disease – Hirschsprungs.  One would have  been 18, the other 12.  So, so tragic.

After she told me that, I understood the indirect way she answered me when I initially asked about how many children she had, and how old the oldest was.  How do you answer a question like that?  Can you answer as if those children were never born?  When she told me they both died, I was shocked and horrified.  Losing two children at two different times may not have been unusual one hundred years ago, but now it’s almost unheard of.  She saw my reaction, and said, “Yes, it was hard.”  I started to respond and got so choked up thinking of the unimaginable pain of that kind of loss that I couldn’t even get through my sentence.  It doesn’t take a long time to connect with the heart of another mother.

I often think of how each of us are meant to be exactly where we are at every moment.  How did I end up at this woman’s house?  Because I thought I bought 130 lb of potatoes, and didn’t realize that the bags I got were actually 5 pounds instead of 10 – that’s why we ran short.  It’s not that I didn’t think about getting extra for Chanuka- I did, but I was meant to overlook an obvious detail when figuring out amounts so I’d have this interaction.

And this is true of unpleasant situations, too.  Just before I pulled out of the gas station to get the potatoes, I saw someone who was waiting to pull into the main area.   As a courtesy, I waited for him to go first, but instead of a wave and smile, he cursed at me (short unpleasant epithets are easily lip read :)).  I pulled ahead to go by, and as I went by, glanced towards him, and he started cursing at me more.  I looked directly at him, gave him a big sunny smile and an enthusiastic wave, and went on my way.  That was a situation I was meant to be in also.   I felt very glad to have been sent an opportunity to practice not getting sucked into someone else’s negativity.  Reacting in this way left me feeling sorry for him that he’s so unhappy but not personally attacked.

As far as my shopping, it was great, as always!  You could say that I was in just the stores I needed to be in to buy what I was meant to buy!  I got a lot of fruit – 2 cases (80 lb) bananas, 1 case pears (36 lb), 30 large navel oranges (so nice that citrus is coming into season now!); 45 dozen eggs, and plenty of dairy for Chanuka – 16 lb cottage cheese, 18 lb ricotta cheese, 15 lb sour cream, 10 gallons of raw milk, and ten lb butter.  The kids always enjoy the abundance of fruit right after my big shopping, because I basically let them take as much as they want!

I was hoping to buy some wild salmon, but the two kinds I saw were both labelled ‘wild Alaskan salmon’, product of China.  Sheesh.  When you look at labels, it makes you wonder how food can be grown/harvested on the other side of the world, be shipped over here, and be sold more affordably than something grown/harvested locally.

But as far as local goes, I got a few humongous heads of cauliflower for .75 a head!  It was brought in by a local small time farmer to the store I was shopping at – it’s nice how small stores owned by families can do that!  I also got a few heads of cabbage at $1 a head.  I bought about six heads of cabbage a few days ago (along with 50 lb carrots), and since I got another 10 lb of carrots yesterday, I’m going to need to get busy preparing some sauerkraut and ginger carrots.  I started a quart of preserved sliced lemons (the recipe from NT)  a couple of days ago, but otherwise the countertop is empty of jars of ‘preserves’. :)

I found five packages of sprouted organic tortillas for just .50 each – I was so excited about that!  A couple of weeks ago we made tortillas and it takes way too long to be more than an occasional treat.  I haven’t have good luck baking with sprouted flour (that I made, maybe store bought is different); maybe one day I’ll spend more time figuring that out, but for now I prefer soaking flour instead.  And for a snack, I bought some organic blue corn chips and organic veggie chips – they were a super price and it’s nice to give the kids something like this for a special treat.  It’s particularly nice with bean dip and salsa.

As always, it was nice to go, and nice to be home and know the shopping is basically done for another few weeks. :)


Amazing Almond Sauce over Yams

As I mentioned in the beginning of the week, I’m trying to cut down on grains in our meals, and since our breakfast meals tend to be heavily grain based, that’s a challenge.  Since the baby started solids a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been baking a lot of yams for him, and once I was throwing some into the oven for him, figured I’d put in a bunch more for everyone else!  I made this for the first time last week for a different kind of breakfast meal, but it would be great as a side dish for lunch or dinner.  The kids asked me to keep it on the list of things to put on the regular rotation because they liked it so much.

The first part of the recipe is to prepare the yams – use as many as you think you  need for your size family.  You can bake them if you want to keep it really simple.  We sliced them in circles about a 1/4 inch thick, then roasted them with coconut oil.

Amazing Almond Sauce

  • 1  c. milk (we used raw)
  • 1  c. nut butter (we used organic almond butter, which is just almonds and sea salt, but you can use peanut butter)
  • 4 T. honey
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • optional – 1 1/2 t. cocoa or carob powder (I used carob since I was out of cocoa)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend – it doesn’t get much quicker or simpler than this!  This was almost pudding-like when we made it, but you can adjust the milk to get the consistency you want.  Very easy and yummy.  You can use it as a topping for pancakes, waffles, or anything else that would be enhanced by a sweet topping.  If your kids are anything like mine, they might think this is good enough for dessert!

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)


New room for ds

I’ve had a busy and productive day, and now even though it isn’t even 10 pm, I’m feeling pretty tired!  Most of the substantial work was done after dinner – we’re rearranging one of the bedrooms to use it for ds16.

Right now we have four boys in one room, three girls and a toddler in the other, and the baby in our room.  That works thanks to the wonders of bunk beds, and they only keep their clothes in their room.  So the space is adequate for them; it probably sounds squishier than it is!

Ds16 has never complained about sharing a room with younger siblings, though sometimes it can be frustrating for him that things don’t stay neat after he cleans up.  That’s a reality any mom can sympathize with!  When he mentioned that he’d like his own bed (instead of a bunk bed), I told him I’d happily shift things around in the last bedroom to give him his own space, if he didn’t mind boxes of pillows lining one wall.  He didn’t. (This was much more than he was expecting, since he wasn’t really making a request, just sharing his feeling about sleeping on a bunk bed.)   I also told him to be prepared to share with either ds2 or the baby, when he gets moved out of our room.  He was fine with that.

Right now our smallest bedroom on the main floor has been used to store the nursing pillow inventory.  In addition the girls use the closet to supplement the space available in the freestanding closet in their room. Today we turned this small  bedroom into ds16’s room.  By rearranging the space, we were able to put all the cases of pillows on one side of the room, and the other side now has a bed, bookshelf, and two dressers.

The girls went through the closet to clear out room for him.  They filled five large garbage bags with clothes to give away.  So the closet is nice and roomy now!  Dd9 kept grimacing when contemplating giving a dress away, and I kept telling her that having fewer dresses will help her enjoy what she has more, since she doesn’t wear a lot of what she has because there are so many things pressed into the hanging space.  I was ruthless – just about every time she held something up, I just thumbed in the direction of the give away bag.

She also found the suit I bought for ds3 for Rosh Hashana- I had purchased it in advance, then a week before Rosh Hashana hung it on the low hanging rack in the closet so it would be ready when we needed it.  (I don’t like to rush around the day before trying to find everything that everyone needs.)  Then Rosh Hashana arrived and the suit was nowhere to be found.  It was a little annoying but what can you do?  That’s life.  It turns out it was somehow moved to dd9’s clothing rack and sandwiched between the many dresses she hasn’t been wearing.  Mystery solved.  :)

We have more to do in the room, but the bulk of it is finished.  Just a week ago we spoke about doing this and I told ds I’d look for a bed to buy for him.  But we got a twin bed for the room for free – someone we know was cleaning out her basement and had an extra bed that she wanted to give away. Timely, wasn’t it?

Tomorrow is my big shopping day, and it generally takes a good part of the day after I go shopping to unpack and reorganize everything.  I’m glad that I got all of this work on the room taken care of, since otherwise it would have to wait until next week.


Kosher turkeys on sale

Yesterday I decided that this month I will try to buy organic chicken, at least in part.  I’ve only once bought organic chicken, as a splurge.  It’s generally at least $4 lb, which is a significant leap in price, considering that I generally pay .99 lb for chicken wings and 2.29 for quarters (those are sale prices).  With the amount of people I’m feeding in our home, that extra cost would add up quickly.

I’m not one to stand on the organic label – when I can get something organic at a comparable price, I do.  I’ve spent some time thinking about what really matters most to buy organic, and my personal conclusion is the animal products because the antibiotics and hormones are concentrated in the flesh of the poultry/meat we buy, making it more problematic than vegetables.   So I thought this would be a good experiment to try (I say experiment because I have to see how it works in my budget).

I called a couple of butchers to ask about their case prices, and I was thinking that I’d need to buy much less chicken than usual and have more broth to compensate if I go this route- I have a set amount that I’m prepared to spend on chicken, and when I hit that number, that’s it for the month.  However, to my delight when I stopped in at Trader Joes to get my monthly coconut milk (they were out – but I ordered 2 cases so then I won’t run low for a while), I saw that they have glatt kosher all natural turkeys for 2.29 lb (certified OU and another hechsher, too).  These turkeys were fed no animal by products (animals in the industrial food loop are often fed ground up diseased animals), and are hormone and antibiotic free.  I was totally thrilled, since the regular kosher turkey runs about 3.29 lb, and this was cheaper than I usually manage to find regular turkey on sale! (Though I did see it this week at Giant for 1.99 lb- a price to stock up if you’re not doing my kind of experimenting!)

I asked the cashier about it, and she said they have their own line of (*edit*) turkeys, and only for the Thanksgiving season, they do a kosher run.  That’s why they can sell it so inexpensively.  They’re going to have them through Nov. 28, unless they run out (which they did the last couple of years).  I bought three turkeys, and will see if I can swing any more for this month after I do my big shopping on Weds.

Since the turkeys are fresh, I’m hoping to roast all of them today (I’ll start as soon as I finish posting this :)).  I’ll put one in in the freezer for Thanksgiving and can the other two.  Then I’ll use all the bones for a huge pot of broth, and can that, too.  I haven’t done much canning recently, and the empty jars are building up  as I’ve been using up my home canned foods and not replacing it!  (I’ve been using the meat I canned last winter for cholent every week.)  Turkeys are too bulky to keep them in the freezer, particularly before my big stocking up trip.  So this is a great way to take advantage of this once a year price on good quality poultry.

I love seeing how H-shem (G-d) is constantly working in my life!  Isn’t it wonderful how I was sent this super priced turkey just when I wanted to upgrade our diets in this specific way?  If you have a Trader Joes near you, check it out!


Quinoa Oatmeal Squares (Gluten free)

This is a recipe that was requested last week – I figured I’d better put this up before putting up anything requested for this week!

Quinoa Oatmeal Sqares

  • 1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1  c. steel cut oats
  • 3 c. water
  • 2 – 3 T. yogurt

Soak the quinoa, steel cut oats, and yogurt in the water overnight.  The next morning add  1/4 t. of salt to the soaked mixture.  Cook over a medium heat until thick, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Pour the cooked mixture into a greased 9 x 9 pan.  Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.  Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until cool – you want it to cool enough to congeal into a solid shape.  Then cut into squares, and fry the squares in butter.

I’ve had steel cut oats sitting around for ages and was happy to have a chance to use them for something!  This has a pleasant but simple flavor, as you can probably tell by looking at the short list of ingredients. To serve, I slathered mine with butter; the kids spread butter and homemade plum jam on theirs.


Weekly menu plan

Shabbos-  dinner – challah, chicken soup, chicken, baked butternut squash, baked yams, carrots and celery, sauerkraut, power bars and lollipops; lunch – chicken, beef cholent, kishke, mini pumpkin kugels, cucumber salad, orange cranberry relish, power bars, peach crisp

Sunday – breakfast – oatmeal; snack – ants on a log (celery spread with peanut butter, topped with raisins); dinner – leftovers – kasha, rice, baked beans, lentils, soup, cooked vegetables, salad (I like the fridge to be empty to start off the week :))

Monday – b – polenta; l – hearty vegetable soup; d – pizza with nut flour crust, salad

Tuesday – b – coconut mango pancakes; l – hard boiled eggs, vegetable sticks; d – falafel, salad, techina

Wednesday- b – chocolate zucchini muffins; l – shopping day so I’ll pick up something; d – corn chowder

Thursday – b – sweet potatoes with almond sauce; l – corn chowder; d – beef and pinto beans

Friday – the last few weeks the kids have enjoyed a special baked treat about an hour before candlelighting – it’s always something made with challah dough

Every time I make a nutritional change to our diets, it means that menu planning becomes more time consuming for a while until I get used to thinking about the new way I’m changing over to.  I’ve made a number of adaptations over the years, and each time, there’s a learning curve as I have to readjust the kinds of foods I make, looking for different recipes and taking into account new and different information.  That’s the challenge I’m having right now, trying to make gluten free meals (as well as trying to cut down on grains in general).

I’ve depended heavily on wheat flour for our breakfasts in particular – muffins, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles regularly appear on our breakfast table.  The easiest thing is just to stop having them, and eat eggs and yogurt every morning instead.  That idea has a lot of appeal, honestly-the kids love omelettes and yogurt with what I call grainless granola (sliced almonds, shredded coconut, sunflower or sesame seeds, and raisins) – it would make menu planning so much simpler!  But instead I’ve been looking for substitutions since my kids really enjoy this kind of food.

Last night I told my dh (not for the first time) that I wished I was a person who could have one or two weekly menus and use them forever.  It would be so easy to know that Wednesday night was always baked salmon, you know?  No brain work, no time, no thinking involved.  But as he said to me, “You’ve never been like that.”  Sigh. It’s true.  It seems so boring and limiting.  But boring has its definite advantages. :)