Life Interrupted

Today we looked at a furnished apartment in Omaha.  We will be living in Omaha for a month while Adam works on a family property.  It will be an interesting experience for us as a family.  I was very much looking forward to it until I saw the apartment.  I guess it’s never good to have expectations.  We are having to pay a large amount for what we’re getting when other apartments at that cost were definitely in the “luxury” bracket.  I don’t need luxury and didn’t really want it, I just don’t want to pay that much money for something that is clearly lacking.  A lesson in gratefulness I suppose when our other option was being tied to strings we don’t want to be tied to and having to owe a debt we can’t repay.  I cannot go into anymore detail then that.

So now for the next few days I have to pack up everything that isn’t furnished in the apartment.  I swear I saw no pots and pans, just a few unused pyrex dishes still wrapped up, some baking sheets, a can opener, a wine opener, and maybe a plastic whisk.  We do at least have service for 4, but now that I think about it I don’t remember seeing silverware.  Hmm…I should have scrounged some more.

lecruesetCall me picky but this means I have to bring my beloved red dutch oven (it’s a Le Creuset I scrimped and scrounged to buy and used birthday and Christmas money for), probably at least one wooden spoon (I am a sucker for the old fashioned, I love my wood), I don’t remember seeing potholders, I wish it wasn’t too much to bring my Kitchen Aid mixer (yet another present), and finally a few of my stainless steel pots and pans.  I cook enough I don’t figure it’s worth being super cheap with my items, honestly most of them have been presents as birthday and Christmas combined.  I can’t argue with a well-used piece of kitchen machinery.

My big job while in Omaha is cooking, that’s it.  I am hoping to catch up on some writing, but I don’t know what life will be like while we are there.  I plan on making some saurkraut and beet kvass while in town.  I hope to have a few friends and family members over to our cheaply furnished, yet spacious apartment for dinner.  I will visit Whole Foods and be much in love with that.   My kombucha will have to stay at home happily fermenting away and hopefully I can pick some up when I head back every Monday.  We will luckily get to home for about a day and a half each week.  Not much, but it’s looking like I will very much enjoy that.  I don’t relish doing laundry from a coin machine again.

Call me spoiled I guess, but my life is about to be interrupted!

Emulsification and Eggs

mayonnaiseSome people will tell you that mayonnaise is bad for you.  Perhaps it is, if you look at the ingredients in a store bought brand.  It is full of so many extra additives and ingredients and if you get low-fat you are bound to have some sort of starch to create the wonderful thickness that mayonnaise is known for.  Why the thickness?  It’s due to emulsification.  Really quite amazing how it works actually!  The combination of oil added slowly to egg yolks creates a stable sauce.  The egg yolk is the emulsifier as it contains lecithin, which is a fat emulsifier.  If you add mustard to your recipe it also has a bit of lecithin and serves to add more stability to your mixture.  You have to add the oil slowly though while beating at a high speed.  I use my Vitamix which makes the process relatively easy.  I cannot imagine the intensity it would take to do this by hand as my husband’s grandmother supposedly did.

I am not fooled by thinking that this high-fat dressing and sauce is bad for me.  I use high quality olive oil, good farm fresh eggs, mustard, lemon, sea salt and pepper.  I will add whey when I want the mayonnaise to last for a longer length of time and I am not using it right away.  The taste is amazing.  I hated mayonnaise all my life until I made my own.  Now I cannot get enough of this rich creamy condiment.  The fresh lemon brightens the flavor and I have always loved the taste of olive oil.  So with homemade mayonnaise you get lipase.  Lipase is an enzyme that helps your body break down and digest fats.  Making your own mayonnaise with fresh, organic raw eggs gives you so many enzymes that pasteurization would destroy.  When I add why to this I leave my mayonnaise out for about 7 hours and this begins some lacto-fermentation which brings out more nutrients.  I can then keep my mayo for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.  Honestly in the summer it doesn’t last more then a few days though.

Now let’s talk about eggs…

So I suppose the subject of adding raw eggs to something might be a bit freakish to think about.  What with all the salmonella warnings and all.  If you are using battery chickens I would be concerned about that as well…and more.  The truth is that the risk is low even in your commercial eggs.  The better truth to look at is that if you are buying your eggs from healthy, cage free, organically (at the very least properly fed) fed chickens there is almost no risk as sick chickens are who lay salmonella covered eggs.  It makes sense doesn’t it?  If you are fed poorly and taken care of poorly you are more likely to be sick with something and pass that on to others.  So why raw eggs?  Well, for one thing when you cook anything you begin to break down the nutrients in that food.  If you cook your eggs you lose a lot of protein and other vital nutrition for the brain, nerves, glands and hormones, they are such a perfect food.  So what exactly is in an egg in it’s raw state that makes it so wonderful?  Protein, essential fatty acids along with niacin, riboflavin, biotin, choline, vitamins A, D and E, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, zinc, lecithin and sulphur.  Oh and guess what?  Egg yolks are one of the few foods that contain vitamin D.  Yeah that’s a whole lot of goodness packed into one tiny thing.  So why wouldn’t you begin to add some to your diet?  I have 2-3 eggs a day and regularly add a raw egg to my smoothies.  I send my husband off in the morning with a raw egg smoothie whenever I am awake enough to send him off.  As a pregnant mama and getting ready to be a nursing mama all those nutrients are invaluable.  So anywhere I can get a raw egg in I am all for it.

My basic recipe for mayo…

  • 1 egg yolk,
  • 1 whole egg,
  • juice of a lemon (to taste),
  • about a teaspoon of mustard (or to taste),
  • 1 Tablespoon of whey (if I want it to last more then a few days, optional),
  • celtic sea salt (to taste)
  • grind or two of pepper
  • 3/4 C. extra virgin olive oil

chxsaladCombine everything but oil  in your food processor or I use my vitamix for about 30 seconds.  Then slowly drizzle in your olive oil, slowwwlllly, almost one drop at a time.  This is where the emulsification process kicks in.  Slowly that oil incorporates and becomes your mayo.  Now if I have added the whey then I will let my mayo sit out for no longer then 7 hours to slightly ferment, this also makes your mayo more solid.  Pop in the fridge and use up before 2 weeks.  And one of my favorite ways to use mayo?  On chicken salad.  I can’t get enough chicken salad or salmon salad these days.  I love the fresh coolness of it combined with lettuces and a few grapes for crispy sweetness.  Don’t forget the pickles!  Pass the mayo anyone?!

Gone bananas

I love bananas, green bananas that is.  I just can’t stand them when they get mushy and brown and super sweet.  So when you buy yourself some nice organic bananas and they become brown too quick what’s a girl to do?  Make banana bread.  Ok, so it’s not the best thing for me right now being a bit high on the blood sugars, but I can share it with others and the rest of the family can still eat it.  The added bonus is I control the whole grain goodness and sugars I add into the bread.

I followed the Nourishing Traditions recipe, though I swapped out the maple syrup in favor of coconut sugar and only used 1/4 C.  I believe I added an extra banana too, just to get rid of what I had.  Oh and I added almonds, because I didn’t have pecans on hand.  Though personally pecans would be my first choice.

yogurt_speltFor starters I took my whole organic spelt berries and freshly ground them.  I then presoaked them in my yogurt to get rid of the phytic acid and increase the amount of nutrient absorption.  You really want to presoak your grains, they become more easily digestible and you release nutrients that are otherwise locked away.  You want to soak them in some sort of acidic medium.  My typical choice is my own homemade yogurt. It gives your grains a wonderful sour taste much like sourdough.  Making yogurt is really so simple it’s worth your time and effort and easier on your wallet.  Alton Brown has excellent instructions on the foodnetwork.com website if you are interested.  He did a show specifically on yogurt

yogourmet_thermometer

and really showcased this wonderful food.  I omit the powdered milk and honey, no real need for it, plus I don’t want the poor quality of powdered milk when I’m using good quality milk.  However you can experiment with your own flavors as well.  I use a Yogourmet thermometer for making my yogurt, it’s just wonderful!  For an excellent article and instructions on pre-soaking your grains click here.

Yes it does take some getting used to when you start pre-soaking your grains for consumption.  The texture is different, the taste is different, there is more time involved (though it’s usually just time waiting for the soaking process).  The health benefits outweigh all that though.  I find I enjoy the process myself.  I started with easy things like pancakes.  My family just loves them and you can’t beat the rich good flavor of freshly ground grains!  I have made buckwheat, spelt, oat pancakes.  I have made my own Runza’s with a yogurt dough.  Plus I can feel good about what I feed my family.  I can’t say enough about it, try it out today I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

bananabread

28 Weeks

It’s possible I only have about 10 more weeks to go. I delivered at 37 weeks last time. At 28 weeks you do your typical blood glucose test where you drink a nasty orange crush type of drink. It’s sickening and sweet and you do it in the morning. For someone who doesn’t drink pop and usually stays away from most intense sweets this is just sickening. I went into this test with much trepidation, but more preparation at least. I walked off what I could of the sugars and drank water, water, water. My midwife told me not to worry and that we wouldn’t even talk about the test results until next appointment.

As a matter of fact my midwife has at every step told me not to worry, to enjoy my time and relax. This is an amazing difference and just what I need to hear. I had an absolutely clean appointment with her. Measuring at exactly 28 weeks, blood pressure of 110/60, weight good (20 pounds over my normal weight), baby’s heartbeat good, everything was great. However drawing two vials of blood and drinking 50 gm of glucose left me woozy and in need of someone else to drive me.

I have been in pain these last 3 weeks with my hip being completely out of place. However I am now seeing a new Chiropractor that specializes in pre-natal care. She is also going to be my Doula and I just love her. I would highly recommend to anyone who cannot have a home birth option or a midwife to hire a doula. Of course finding the right fit is very important as well. The one that I have found is great and I have the added advantage of seeing her for the next weeks until I deliver as my chiropractor. I am eager to hear what she will prescribe me for my health as far as supplements and exercises!  The greatest “feel-good” emotion I have come away with today is that the birth itself will probably cost us only $1,700.  Factor in the doula expense, the hot tub to rent, extra chiropractic care, maybe some accupuncture and massage and we’re still talking about 4k less then we spent last time.  All that and a healthier pregnancy to boot?  Who wouldn’t choose this option if they could?

I scream, you scream…

I love ice cream, I have always loved ice cream, I will always love ice cream.  You cannot go wrong with a smooth creamy sweet treat!  However sugar is not our friend as most everyone knows.  I do not have issues with the fat, as long as you use a healthy fat.  Raw milk and cream would be the best and farm fresh eggs.  If that is not available I will go with a vat pasturized non-homogenized variety.  (For more information on the benefits of milk see  www.realmilk.com/what.html.)  In Iowa raw milk sales are not legal so unless you have access to your own cow it’s much more difficult to get a hold of.  I buy good quality non-homogenized from a local dairy farm.

IceCream2

Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream

I made both a chocolate and vanilla ice cream for Sloane’s birthday party (forgive the insane red in the picture, I didn’t set up the shot for lack of time as I usually would).  Being about 28 weeks pregnant I am having issues with blood sugars and though I have not officially done my glucose test yet I had diabetes while pregnant with Sloane.  So I am watching my sugars this time too.  I made my ice cream with a combination of coconut sugar (which has a lower glycemic index and more healthy benefits, see here) and stevia.  Farm fresh eggs and egg yolks for extra protein as well.  I need to balance my food as much as possible and I need vast amounts of protein to help stave off pre-eclampsia.

So let me share my recipes, such as they are.  I use a Cuisinart style ice cream maker, only it’s a knock off brand.  Simple to use, you just freeze the container in a deep freeze set it in the base and poor in your mix.  In about 20 minutes to half an hour your ice cream is usually done.  So I’ll share my favorite first, it’s like having a rich chocolate truffle and what I like about these recipes is though I cook the milk I don’t cook the cream in with the egg yolk mixture.  The less I cook my milk and cream the better as I want as much of the natural qualities of it is as possible.  I also used the smallest amount of sugars possible.

French Chocolate Truffle

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 2/3 C. whole milk
  • 1/4-1/2 C. coconut sugar
  • 6 or so drops of dark colored stevia liquid, you might want this to taste
  • 1/3 C. cocoa powder, use a good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 C. cream

Whisk together the egg yolks, milk and sugars.  Cook over medium low heat until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  I have read some recipes that tell you not to heat over 170 degrees, if you would like to check this way.  Just don’t let it bubble over as you will ruin your mixture.  Add your cocoa powder and whisk in over low heat until well mixed.  Once mixture cools completely add your vanilla and 2 cups of cream.  Chill overnight or up to 24 hours.  Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions.

Vanilla Bean

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 C. whole milk
  • 1/4 of a vanilla bean
  • 1/4-1/2 C. coconut sugar, to your taste
  • 6 or more drops of clear stevia
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 C. cream

Whisk together your egg yolks, milk and sugars.  Slice the vanilla bean open and scrape out the seeds, add the bean and seeds to the mixture to amalgamate while you cook.  Cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Add your vanilla extract and cream and combine well.  Chill overnight or for 24 hours.  Discard vanilla bean and add to your ice cream maker per makers directions.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  And for my favorite Farscape ice cream quote to leave you with “Savage, I know almost every food in the galaxy–I have no idea what this iza’s scream IS!”  Spoken by Rygel.

three

candles

Ready to blow out the candles

Yesterday my daughter turned 3. It was a quiet day for the family with Sloane eagerly waiting for birthday cake. She was a bit crabby in the afternoon as she was woken early from her nap by our neighbor working on his car. It’s been a tough week for the 3 of us. Sloane has tried our patience, I have been in pain, and Adam has had his own worries. So I approached her birthday with slightly more trepidation and less joy.

Today I will most likely have a needed break from her though as she got some new “kitchen” presents that keep her completely occupied. It gives me the chance to continue to dwell on what ran through my head yesterday. Namely what happened three years ago…

pinky

Dr. Evil

Life was vastly different, I was not pregnant with a toddler to take care of as well for one. I was recovering from childbirth and hooked up to magnesium, IV and catheter. I could not move out of bed nor did I have the ability to even hold Sloane. The magnesium had taken away most of my reflexes and control. My eyes were puffy and I could hardly see. Everything became increasingly foggy. I was in a different world and in awe of finally having a baby. A baby that came three weeks early so their was still that shock too.

We still mulled over a middle name for this new girl. I was sure we were having a boy. I was unsure of the name Sloane, simply because it’s so different, yet I loved it. I ignored the fact that she had to have some tests for her kidneys and eventually we would have to take care of that. I was just trying to survive the hospital.

Life had changed for Adam and I. We had more purpose and something tangible was knitting us closer together then ever before. He was my hero as he helped me through the 3 hours of pushing and pain and frustration. He was my only encouragement and without him there I would have given up. I never yelled at him. We never took “childbirth classes” to learn what to do. Every step, every inch of the way he was by my side. He advocated to get me off the magnesium, he fought for me, he loved me, he was hero that day and the days following. Our relationship had forever changed and now we were three.

When God gives you joy

*originally posted Aug. 26, 2008

Golden slightly fogged sunlight shining through the window. Crisp autumn air in slight drifts assault the nose. My daughter sits in her old baby bathtub covered up in her “little red” cape and a homemade receiving blanket. She spills out of the tub and relaxes with a “fi” in her mouth. I run in to tell Adam to come look at our daughter. We peek in at her from the hallway and break into joyous laughter. It is then my heart breaks and I realize how much I have and what Joy God has given me.

Today I believe I had a miscarriage and it wasn’t just part of my normal female existence. Today how I’ve felt and what has happened has been anything but normal. Today the realization washed over me that I may have lost a child and sadness as I never knew possible hit me. How could I have been callous enough to think I didn’t want another pregnancy, yet now mourn for a child I will never know? My human emotions are fickle and contentious at the best of times.

In the face of something I had refused to face before I felt emotions I didn’t know possible. Doubts I said I would never carry. Fear that I had somehow done something wrong. While at the same time I realized none of that was so, these doubts still sit like a little devil somewhere and tease.

So given that I can’t truly know at this point whether I had a miscarriage or it’s just an oddity where does that leave me? Mourning because somehow my body has been telling me something’s not right for a few weeks, realizing that every opportunity is one for growth from God, and the fact that I have within my grasp pure unmeasurable joy even in the face of tragedies.

My God is good, He is loving and He fills my life with a light that is beyond human comprehension. He is like the warm, soft golden glow that comes in my bedroom window tonight. It leaves me warmed, relaxed and wanting to sleep in peace while it holds me in it’s arms.

I am good, I am not without sadness, but He will not fail me.

About Labor

*originally posted June 22

I am 23 weeks along and today was a mixed bag of emotion.  I am measuring a bit big for how far along I am and that isn’t good.  I am operating as though I have diabetes with the need to keep everything under control in that area.  I don’t want a big baby.  Another 6 pound baby would be wonderful.  Maybe I will go early again, I don’t know.  I wonder at times why I went so early last time at 37 weeks, but that’s probably not something I can ever really answer.  I rehashed my labor with Sheryl today and talked about what I remembered having played out.  I know I now have increased risk of tearing as I have had an episiotomy.  Something that I did not want but had no choice in whatsoever, for a 6 pound baby.  I realize there are so many things out of our control in this life and I accept that.  However it feels intensely private when someone can have the ability to cut your own body and not even ask if it’s ok.  Especially when it is a Doctor.

But that was my last journey, that is not this one.  Today Sheryl shed some light on how she handles the laboring woman.  She believes that my body will tell me when it needs to push.  I don’t know what that is like.  I don’t ever remember feeling the need to push last time.  I can’t recall once understanding what the contraction was and understand riding it out.  I felt pain, breathlessness, exhaustion and a desperation that didn’t feel right.  This time, I am sinking into the reality of a healthier pregnancy and a pregnancy without worry and stress and fear.  God taught me so much last time and this time he has set me free of so much.  He has allowed me to heal and begin a process that I cannot wait to experience.  I have, when I have the energy begun to revel in this journey and feel joy for it.

But for today, I am tired, it is in the 90’s with humidity and it just wipes me out.  I am after all pregnant and my body is doing some incredible work.  Thank God for my husband who is willing to do so much for me around the house including cook meals.  I feel the need to do things, but just sitting here my body is doing things, lots of things.  I have a little one kicking my sides and moving constantly.  Healthy lil bugger.  I am so excited to have a homebirth with some privacy and my husband and daughter right there by me.  I cannot begin to explain the elation in knowing Sloane can not only witness, but help in this journey.  In a hospital she wouldn’t be able to be there and that would feel like a loss.  This is just what I have always wanted and I feel privileged to be able to enjoy it!

Today I cried…

*originally posted June 4th

Everything pent up broke free and crashed upon me.  When is it that we realize what we’ve held in, what we’ve kept scared in a dark corner?  What # paintbrush will He use to make that perfect brush stroke that before had underpainting and greyness.

I watched The Business of being Born and I cried.

I felt robbed.

I felt robbed of those love hormones that bring together mom and baby after birth.  I felt robbed of an experience that wasn’t complete.  I cannot express the emotion I now feel or the loss I feel.  I can explain the push it gives me to stand firm in what we chose for our family.

Without great pain you cannot have a great experience.  This I believe in.  This God has taught me.