Healthy living, healthy parenting, healthy gardening. One Family's approach to off grid living.

cooking by heart

Monday Morning Paleo -istic Pancakes

I know lots of people love following detailed recipes on beautiful blogs- and I also know there are lots of busy parents out there just looking for something quick, mindless and filling that their kids will actually eat. Lots of people like to ‘cook by heart’. If this is you, I encourage you to play around with ‘paleo’ like ingredients and see what you come up with. So far going grain free has allowed me to still whip together a delicious pancake on the fly.

Today I went with:

Monday Morning Paleo-istic Pancakes

1.5 cups raw walnuts
.5 cup raw almonds

(food processor or blender about 60 seconds)
add in:

1 small banana
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tbsp vanilla
1tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Teach it all a lesson for another minute or two.
Pre heat frying pan to medium temperature (when water droplets jump around in pan).
Cook for 90 seconds on each side.



“Just pull it in half and suck on it”; Ginger Beef with Curried Veggies

And so I did.  Tentatively at first. Nothing.  I filled my lungs and sucked for all I was worth, afraid my throat would fill with a choking gush.  I pulled away.  Nothing.   Then.  There. It. Was.

Water.  My water.  Sweet, clear, cold, quick water.  I laughed at the cleverness of myself.

I have scars for this water, don’t give me water?  I’ll find my own dam water! I crowed to myself.  I was beginning to think my survival instincts were a little more fine tuned than I had previously thought.  My pond is doubling, tripling in size.  My garden is erupting around it. Water drips down newly exposed rocks and roots washing away clay and pebbles to the pond below.  Unpretentiously moss blooms puddled gently among the stones.

Later the same day the water is still not flowing.  I can’t get the gravity fed to work properly, even though everything looks the same to me as when Mr.T sets it up.  I admit it is the third time I have taken it out.  I like to dig.  What can I say?

I am making a public promise to not take out the water line so I can dig there.  There are lots of other places to dig.

Dammit, and I was feeling soooo goooood and sooo cocky about my mad water skillz.

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BBQing last night was an epic fail.  I made a propane fire in the BBQ.  After I had burned off the grill I returned to find the third knob blown off the BBQ and opened it to find one of the burners had dropped down, I am assuming from the heat?  And fire was pouring out of it because it was stuck ON.  I ran up the hill calling calmly for Mr.T to run down and fix things.

Later he asked what the first thing to do when having a problem with a gas sourced appliance.


No.  I did not turn off the propane tank when I ran away worried it might explode.

I should complain about him less.  He is pretty useful.

I’ve enclosed some shots of the Yurt on the day we arrived.  Things are looking pretty different now, I’ve moved the kitchen around and it’s much greener.  I’ll post new pics as soon as I pick up the box of stuff we left behind when we moved from the Bus Station in Nelson.

The cool of the morning is now respite from the heat of the day.  It takes until mid afternoon for the Yurt to heat up, and then the warmth of the hot afternoon sun is a gift for the cold mountain night.  This morning I could see my breath in bed.  This afternoon I sunburned my shoulders.

Despite having just a single burner on a Coleman stove right now (need to go harass Wild Bill soon) and a cooler I feel like I’ve been making fantastic food.

Ginger Beef

1lb cooked roast beef cut into thin strips.

Pan fry in a 2tbsp butter until well browned.

Add a couple knuckles of finely grated ginger; I use a rasp.

2 good sloshes of Tamari.  A glop of honey.

Serve to admiring crowd.  Everybody (as in all 3 kids too!) loved this.

Curried Veggies

Again, 2 tbsp of butter in the frying pan with a bit of grated ginger to make the air fragrant.

2tbsp Thai Kitchen Mild Green Curry Paste (hey, busy mama here!)

1 family sized sweet potato- peeled and sliced in rounds- pan fry in the butter, ginger and curry paste until toasty brown.  Flip.

top with 1/2 a large cauliflower, cut into pieces

cook until veg’s soften, turn heat down

add a dash of Tamari, 2tbsp peanut butter and 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

Top with chopped fresh cilantro.

Mmm.  His Lordship, whom by formal request will henceforth be known as The Evil Wizard (way more fitting anyway) wouldn’t try it but Coach Rapper and #3 loved it.

I added cashews, but those were not well received by my taste testers.

The Infamous Lentil Cookie Recipe, by popular demand

From the Saskatchewan Pulse Crop Development Board’s 1994 cookbook “Discover the Pulse Potential”

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 egg

1.5 tsp vanilla

3/4 cups of pureed lentils

1 1/2 cups flour (I always use spelt flour)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes

So yummy, very forgiving recipe.  I know some people have had better success with 2 eggs, so if your batter seems too dry, add another egg!

These are the moments that make life worthwhile; Cooking for assholes

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I was just sitting watching  # 3 eat, thinking about how amazing he was, how beautiful he was and how lucky I was to have him.

He chased his blueberries around his highchair tray with a fork, and then purposefully put the berry on the fork, and rammed the forked berry into his mouth.  It was amazing.

And he has done it before.  And billions of other babies have done it, and will do it.

That isn’t what is amazing.

What is amazing is watching his months of frustration, months of watching, months of practising pay off in a tiny victory.  How do I know it is a victory?  He crows.  In such sheer joy with himself, he crows.  He is not talking, but he is only 15 months of course.  He has lots of sounds, he is just amazing at communicating without being able to speak- unless you count the bampa/mama/dada kinda sounds.

I wonder if there is any way to know this feeling of witnessing such  awe-inspiring personal triumph unless you have been a caregiver?  I remember this feeling with my Grandmother, my mother’s mother when she was dying.  I sat, huge and pregnant with my first by her bedside over the months becoming increasingly in awe of her ability to sip her tea.  What simple triumphs have amazed you?

 Plain Muffins

These are just plain muffins.  What do you mean what kind?  They are plain.  Sure, you can put ketchup on it.  Sure, you can put butter on it.  Sure, you can put jam on it.  These are just plain muffins.

“It has nothing in it, they are so Lummy!” squeels his Lordship as he plays an intricate game of Butterfly Zombie (WTF?) with his muffins.

“Oh yuck!  Gross. These taste just like egg muffins!” I guess Coach Rapper thinks they are a fail.  He ate a bowlful of peanut butter topped with a swirl of honey and fruit.  That’s balanced right?

#3 likes them, but he will eat anything, like dog food or rusty nails, so he doesn’t count.

Plain Muffins:  3 eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup flour (I used fine ground spelt), 1tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup finely grated mild cheese, 1/4 cup water.  Cook at 350 for about 18 minutes.  This made 12 small but not mini silicone muffin cup muffins.  His Lordship would not eat the egg muffins I cooked in metal.

Maybe you will make brunch tomorrow

So, we ate up all the egg muffins before I could take any pics.  They were delish!

Makes 12 egg muffins

8 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup flour (you can omit for grain free/different texture but still so yummy)

1/2 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup crumbled bacon

-> mix all well, starting by whisking the eggs and adding things one at a time.  Divide amoung 12 muffin cups.  I prefer silicone- it just pops out perfectly.

->400 for 20 minutes.  They will be slightly brown and crispy and yummy looking on top.

Mushroom Chowder

2 cups assorted gourmet mushrooms

6 cloves grated garlic (I used a rasp)

1/3 cup butter in bottom of pan

->gently simmer the mushrooms in the garlic and butter for about 8 minutes on med low heat until the mushrooms are browning and wilting on the pan side.  Gently flip without breaking mushrooms up.  Cook for about 2 more minutes and add the following, leaving on the range until hot:

1 cup of crumbled bacon

1 cup of light cream

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Gently ladle into shallow bowls and top with coarse salt and pepper.

Mmmm.  Serve with something like Canteloupe.

I actually made these at different meals, but I fully intended to make them together.


Dinner Quickie

So, you know the moment- 4:30 and someone asks you what’s for dinner, and you genuinely had not considered this dilema even once that day.  And dinner is kinda like the SAHM opus, so you are supposed to have something planned.  Now the last many months I fully admit my Mum has been making most dinners.  I fail to plan ahead though (join me this summer in meal planning 101).  She thinks about it the day before, the afternoon of.  Then there is suddenly dinner ready.  I am so greatful for my parents, throughout my life, and especially the last 6 months.  They really stepped up to the plate when I fell off it, and well, have taught me what unconditional love is.  When my Mum took the midnight bus (not really sure if it was really an overnight bus or not, but I thought it sounds better and come to think of it it must have been a 24 hour bus ride anyway, so yeah, it was totally the midnight bus.)   When my Mum took the midnight bus to me this fall, she had no idea what she would be arriving to.  None of us really did.

Maybe I was still in the Hospital when she got there, maybe I was already at home- I don’t actually remember.  What I do remember is the intense feeling of comfort and relief.  And I was 27- with 3 children of my own. 

So anyway, thanks Mum.  I appreciate all the dinners you have made me all of my life.  Because making dinner sucks ass.  Am I allowed to say sucks ass on here?  Probably.  I’ve heard the internet has changed a lot in the last 10 years.

But you know what is amazing?  Putting together quick and beautiful  meals that nourish your family.  To know that your children are developing healthy relationships with food, their bodies, cooking and you are creating a sort of emotional security in your child because they know they are cared for in this way.  Which is why my Mum cooked for me and my kids all winter, both grievously and lovingly.

So, first off I took frozen Haddock out of the freezer and defrosted it by putting it under cold running water for almost 5 minutes.  At this point I was trying to calculate how much water I was wasting and feeling really guilty about it.  So then I let it rest in a bowl of cold water for another 5.

Then I cut the haddock in strips, dipped it in egg and drenched it in crushed corn flakes.  That’s it.  It was amazing.  I cooked it in a frying pan for about 4 minutes on each side.

Son 1 had 2 pieces with “fries” made out of red pepper and cucumber. 

 Son 2 had apples and peanut butter.  Sigh.

Son 3 ate 3?!?!?!?! pieces of fish and a couple red pepper sticks.

My salad is a bed of mixed greens with a yogurt and apple cider vinegar dressing (3 parts astro necterine fruit on the bottom nectarine yogurt without the necterine part stirred in to 1 part apple cider vinegar) topped with  pecans roasted with a touch of maple syrup and hot sauce.  Very yummy dinner quickie!

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Cooking by Heart.

It’s 10am and I haven’t sent Coach Rapper to school?  Why?  Well, it’s snowing and I am making pancakes.

Am I a bad mother?  No.  Am I a neglectful mother?  No.  Do I fully value the free Education my kid gets?  Yes, I think that I actually do.  Should I be homeschooling?  Maybe- but not me, not now.

As a wise girlfriend recently told me she needs her kids to go to public school, but she has a lot to teach them at home too.

I feel guilty about this though, both my parents were teachers.  If I am going to send my kids to school, I want them to take it seriously.  But, honestly, I was supposed to go to school like it was a job, and *I* didn’t take school seriously.  Will approaching it differently yeild the same result?  Not sure?

Is it okay to keep your kids home from school just because you wanted another Saturday?  Is it okay to keep your kids home from school because you feel happy, you love them and you want to be with them?  I don’t really know.

The boys, full of pancakes and happiness are playing lego and imagination games.  In 3 days my parents will be back.  It’s been 15 days since Jesse left.  You know what?  I am doing really well.  I am happy.  I am enjoying the kids.  Things are going well.

In between this sun soaked optimism I have fear,  it crawls up my neck.  A spider in the dark. 

Yesterday around 10 am sitting at the kitchen table A-frame vomited all over me.  Luckily, he had only had water that morning.  But my jacket and both sets of our clothes needing washing.  This hair raising fear of mine is….LAUNDRY.  Last summer/fall we used the laundrymat and I think this in and of itself is enough to put ANY woman in the psych ward!

Visions of carrying load after load of heavy stinky dirty kid clothes/bedding…shudder

It was good timing.  I had just talked to Mr. T and was fantasizing about going home and breaking ground for spring gardens.

I don’t want to go home before there is water in the yard.  I’ll probably go home before there is water in the yard.  I need to not go home before there is water.  I need to go home before there is water.  This is my small song, playing in the background of the moment.

Pancakes for his Lordship Ali, since I dread the grocery store- we are out of milk- so I had to get creative.  As usual, I made the recipe up as I went along.  I call it Cooking by Heart.

2 cups of spelt flour. 1/4 cup of powdered milk, 2/3 cup strawberry yogurt, 2/3 cup water, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp baking powder, 2 tbsp of canola oil.

Mix until mixed, very slightly lumpy- like pancake batter is supposed to look.

Cook in an ungreased, no stick frying pan with a chair and a cup of coffee beside the stove so you can browse the intraweb without burning them.  Hold baby hostage in highchair with secret first pancake.  Feed school age child eggs so you don’t feel guilty about his brain food.  Let school age child eat 2 single serve fruit on the bottom strawberry yogurts and feel gleeful that you’ve succeeding in getting rid of the nasty flavour.  I mean really- who actually likes the strawberry flavour?

Now before you get your panties all in a knot about me buying sugar yogurt (Ahem, Mum and Mr. T) for the baby and I we are just eating the top part- not the jam part, and I swear it has less sugar than letting the big boys use maple syrup AND it was 24 for $7.99.  24 for $7.99!!!

So, on with the recipe.  Use medium heat.  Do not put pancake in fry pan until water jumps when you throw a few drops.

The water should jump up and down crying in a tiny high pitched voice “Damn Mama, that’s hot!!!”

I used my 2/3 cup measuring cup, because obviously, if you’ve been following along, it’s already dirty.

Flip that cake once it is dry at the edges with tiny bubbles in the middle.  Cook until you remember about it When the pancake lifts easily and is browned on both sides it will be done.  I estimate 2-3 minutes first side, 90 seconds second side.

I tried to get a picture of the leftover stack, but little hands kept sneaking in there.