Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sauteed Bok Choy

Bok Choy was another veggie we have received from our CSA Farm this summer/fall. I don't think I'd ever seen bok choy before, nor had I eaten it. Ha, funny story, so the first week we were able to pick up veggies from the CSA last spring we happened to be out of town. I told them we wouldn't be there but not to worry about our veggies. Well the super-nice-people that they are, they delivered them to our neighbor to give to us when we got back. So we came home to a surprise bag of veggies, always a good thing in my book! Most of it was pretty straightforward, a lot of greens, some turnips, radishes....and this other thing, no idea what it was. But it kind of looked like a green. So, the next morning, since I had so many greens, I decided to make veggie juice, which of course included "the other thing". Now, I can generally tolerate any veggie juice, no matter how awful...uh, not this time. It was awful! Lesson learned, "the other thing" was bok choy, and don't EVER juice bok choy!

But here is a great recipe for sauteed bok choy, which is excellent!

Sauteed Bok Choy
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

1 organic bok choy
1 organic onion
2 organic cloves garlic

Using the entire bok choi, including the stalk, chop it into pieces. Saute garlic and onions in a pan with a little oil until soft. Add bok choi and cook until just softened. Add some organic soy sauce or coconut aminos, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Drying herbs and Freezing pesto

Everyday it feels more and more like fall. We are getting the occasional frost at night and mornings are crisp. This is the time of year to harvest the remainder of summer crops. Especially herbs. In some gardens they are still flourishing, but as it gets colder, the plants will die off for the season. Go pick those herbs now! Our CSA farm still has a ton of herbs. Every week we pick a good amount to bring home. It's a great time to stock up on fresh herbs for drying. Stick them in the dehydrator at 105 degrees for a day. You can store them whole to crush later....I hear that makes for the best flavor. Personally, I like to make less work for myself later, so I crush them first and then store them. They still have a superior flavor compared to store bought dried herbs, plus they are MUCH cheaper!
I'm obsessed with pesto. My kids, not so much. So I really can't base meals on it. So I like to have smaller amounts of it at a time for my husband and myself. I use it as a dip with seed crackers and raw cheese. It's amazing how good that is! Knowing that soon enough I won't have access to fresh basil (Yes I know very well you CAN grow herbs inside in the winter....but my brown thumb prevents that...sigh...any plant that gets within 10 feet of me dies) So I had this vision of freezing a bunch of small portions of pesto. I in no way wanted to freeze it in bags by itself or other plastic containers. I suddenly realized that muffin cups were the perfect size! I scooped pesto into muffin cups, put them on a plate and stuck them in the freezer overnight. The next day I pulled them out of the freezer and tossed them into freezer bags. I thought it was genius =) Plus, think how much money you save compared to pesto at the store!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Read with caution...haha (female content)

Men: you may not want to read any further, this is a female issue. Yes we're talking menstruation, lol. Any women that don't want to read about it, run away. Seriously...

Okay, you've been warned.

You might have seen earlier in the year that we got a puppy. Well, we haven't spayed her because my hubby really really really wants her to have puppies. She was a handful enough as a puppy that I cannot even imagine dealing with a litter of puppies, even for 8 weeks. Yes, I know darn well it was my stupid idea to get a puppy. I begged for a year or so. BIG mistake. Should have just had another baby...

Anyway, so early this week she starts menstruating (and yes I'm fully aware it's not called "menstruating" in dogs, it's in "heat", but I'm not positive if they are in heat before the bleed and the bleeding is just called bleeding, so I'll call it menstruating, I apologize to all the doggy experts out there). So, she started bleeding, and then I did too. What the heck?!? I know women who spend a lot of time together are known to get on the same schedule, but does it work with dogs too??? Now, I wouldn't think anything of it, but I'm  early and I'm never early! Now, last night my hubby pointed out that dogs only menstruate twice a year or so and wouldn't it be great if I did too!!! Hahahaha! That would be awesome. With my luck though I would make her menstruate every month. We really need to spay her....

While we are on the subject, I'm very often asked what I use during this time being all natural and organic and everything. For a long time I used Natracare products, which are organic cotton. It felt really wasteful though so I few years ago I switched to using the DivaCup. My only concern is whether or not the silicone is safe or if you absorb anything from it. I haven't found any information on that at this time. If you aren't on a really heavy day you can 12 hours between changing it, that in my book is really awesome. I still use the Natracare pads as back up on those really heavy days. So that's that.

I'm off to have a corn husking party with my kids. Literally husking corn, 5 dozen of them...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Bread

This bread is a HUGE hit with my kids. What better time to make it than fall, when organic apples are around. Yeah, except for this year, they're around, but you have to search for them. Stupid late frost. Cozy up with this bread and a nice warm mug of cider.

Apple Cinnamon Bread
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

The dough itself makes two loaves. The ingredients below make one loaf. I make one plain and one apple cinnamon at a time. If you'd like two apple cinnamon, double up on the ingredients (apple, cinnamon, sucanat)

Dough from Easy Sandwich Bread 
(optional: when making the dough above, substitute apple sauce for the oil)
1 organic apple, chopped small
1 ts organic cinnamon
1 TB Sucanat (or other organic raw sugar) plus extra for sprinkling on top

Prepare dough and let it rise the first time. After you punch down the dough and split it into two loaves, sprinkle flour on a flat surface and roll out one dough to about a half an inch thick. Sprinkle cinnamon, sucanat, and apple all over the dough. Roll up, pinch ends, and place in greased loaf pan to rise again. Optional: brush with a little butter and sprinkle sucanat on top. Once the dough has risen above the rim of the pan, bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, slice, and enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Roasted Baby Turnips with Parsley Mustard Vinaigrette

This year we joined a CSA (community sponsored agriculture), which means we get to go pick up veggies from them every week. What's been great about it, is that we are ending up with veggies we've never had, or never cooked, or even thought about cooking. We are all trying new things, and really liking them! Something we've had a lot of this summer is turnips. Honestly, I don't think I'd ever even seen a turnip before. The recipe below is a recipe the CSA gave us to try with the turnips. We love it! 

Roasted Baby Turnips with Parsley Mustard Vinaigrette
1 TB organic white wine vinegar

1 1/2 ts organic whole-grain mustard

1 green onion, minced

1 1/2 TB chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

24 baby turnips (2 pounds) (could be done with large turnips too, just chop them)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard, scallion, parsley and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Cut the turnips in half through the stems; quarter them if large. In a large bowl, toss the turnips with the remaining 1/4 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the turnips on the  baking sheet and roast for about 18 minutes, until tender. Transfer the turnips to a platter and let cool. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Easy Sandwich Bread

This is a great versatile bread. It makes great sandwich bread. Which is awesome since store bought bread is laden with high fructose corn syrup, soy, pesticides and gmo ingredients, not to mention additives, and preservatives. This bread is so easy to make, there's no reason to buy store bought bread again! You can do other fun things with the dough too...more to come in future posts!

Easy Sandwich Bread
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups warm water
1 TB yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil (I use light olive oil)
1 1/2 ts good salt
6-7 cups bread flour*

*The loaf in the picture above was made with unbleached white whole wheat bread flour. You can use straight whole wheat bread flour but you'll want to mix it with another flour. You can also add ground flax as well as other flours.

I use my food processor with a dough blade to mix up this dough. You could also use a stand mixer. My directions, though, will be for doing it by hand for those that don't have either. I have to say, my food processor makes it so easy. I just add all the ingredients and mix until the dough forms.

Add water, yeast, and honey to a large bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients in order. Kneed until smooth and it pulls away from the bowl. Cover and let it rise until doubled. Punch the dough down and divide into two pieces. Grease two loaf pans and place dough in each. Let the dough rise until it is just over the rim of the pans. Optional: Brush butter or olive oil over the top and sprinkle with good salt. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes.