Saturday, June 8, 2013

Classic Shrimp Stir Fry

1 lb. shrimp, raw*
1 lb. baby bok choy, washed and chopped
2 lg. portabella mushroom caps, sliced thinly
2 green onions, chopped
1 T. garlic, minced
1/3 c. plus 2 T. soy sauce
1 T. ginger root

Prep Time: 10 minutes      Cook Time: 10 minutes        Servings: 4

1. In a wok (or fry pan), heat 2 T. soy sauce on low heat. Add the shrimp. Peel the skin from the ginger root and discard it. Then mince the ginger (ginger in small doses adds so much amazing flavor to a dish; in large doses, ginger tastes like lemon pledge) and add it to the pan. Once the shrimp is lightly pink, pour the shrimp into a bowl for a few minutes.

2. Heat 1/3 c. soy sauce in the wok on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and let tenderize, usually about a minute. Add bok choy, green onions, and garlic. Cook until the greens become slightly wilted (for optimal flavor) then add the shrimp. After about a minute, remove the wok from the heat.

3. Serve immediately!

* I use raw shrimp that needs to be cooked and peeled. It takes 5 minutes to peel but it somehow tastes amazingly more tender than the already peeled and cooked shrimp. Plus, it is about 1/2 the price and the way that our 4.5 year old eats shrimp, we need it to be as cheap as possible! If you are using cooked shrimp (you can tell because raw shrimp is grey while cooked shrimp is pink), skip the first step.

Serving Suggestions: My husband and son ate this over white rice. I'm on a special nutritional plan, so I ate it without a side, but next time I will make quinoa so that we can all enjoy an identical dish.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Frugal Friday: Chive Blossoms

Chive Blossom Vinegar

  • chive blossoms
  • white vinegar
Prep Time: 5 minutes               Cooking Time: n/a

Fill a sterilized mason jar with chive blossoms. Add enough white vinegar to cover the blossoms. Cover and let sit in a well lit area for 7-14 days (Remember: The longer, the stronger... For a milder flavor, filter the blossoms out after 7 days. For a bolder flavor, wait 14 days.)

The vinegar will turn a vibrant pink. When it is done "brewing", it can be used as a substitute in recipes which call for vinegar.

Serving Suggestions: Add equal parts EVOO for a modern twist on balsamic vinaigrette. Use as a side with fish and chips. Or create a base with it for crock pot barbecue chicken.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Roasted Turnips with Greens

Roasted Turnips with Greens, Scallions, & Thyme

  • 4 turnips with greens
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Prep Time: 5 minutes                 Cook Time: 30 minutes

Begin by washing your produce thoroughly. Cut the greens off the turnips about 2" above the turnip, then cut the turnips into quarters. Slice the scallions in half lengthwise. Heat the coconut oil over low heat in a skillet with a dash of salt and pepper. Add the quartered turnips and scallions. Cover and roast for about 30 minutes or until turnips are tender.

Roughly chop greens with the leaves off a sprig of thyme. In a fry pan, heat EVOO over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes but don't let the greens turn brown. When the roasted turnips have cooked completely, combine both dishes in a bowl and serve.

Serving Suggestion: We enjoyed this with ground chicken burgers. The roasted turnips were amazing and my only regret is that I only made 3!

A Suburban Foodie Living in Rural Illinois

I've always enjoyed experimenting with new foods... Unless you speak with my mom. She will likely recall a time when I ate spaghetti. At restaurants, I literally only ate spaghetti. She would occasionally let me take a "life experience day", which meant that we would both skip out on our responsibilities and explore whatever intrigued us at the moment. Most days began with lunch at Red Lobster, where I would order, yes, spaghetti. But as I matured, so did my palate. I've learned to try everything at least once and preferably cooked in multiple fashions. So when I married, my husband was accustomed to everything frozen and quick. He would at times offer to make dinner and would whip up the most amazing meat loaf known to mankind. But most times, he allowed me creative liberties in the kitchen. Remind me to never share the story of the French Onion Soup. 

Living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, variety was never an issue. I would pass an Asian market on my way to work or cross the street to grab a quick bite at the supermercado. When we decided to move to central Illinois, I had no idea how bland the dinner menu would become. I've scoured Pinterest and googled recipes, but there are only so many ways to prepare potatoes. While trying to find a local source of raw milk, I happened across a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) named Golden Oldies Farm. This concept is nothing new. There are dozens of CSAs in suburban and even urban localities. But in rural Illinois, there are not many. I contacted them for additional information and quickly signed up. Because there are only 3 of us (DH = dear husband, DS = 4.5 year old dear son, and myself), it made sense to split our share between our family and my parents. I'm going to share our experience here and will include recipes for the produce we collect each week. My recipes are dairy free and often vegan, but I will tag them appropriately for quick reference.

Find a CSA farm near you here. Please bear in mind that they often discontinue selling shares once the season has begun, but still contact them because each is individually owned and may operate differently.

Stay tuned for our meals of the week!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whenever I look into his big blue eyes, I feel lost. He is such a beautiful boy. Especially now, since the days of snuggles and helpless cries have gone. He is so independent. He has always spoken well. He enunciates. In his high pitch voice, he very seriously says, "Actually mommie..." and I cannot help but belly laugh. That of course frustrates him and causes him to be even more articulate. He's small for his age so his outspokenness catches strangers off guard. His 34-lb body barely stands over 3 feet tall, which often causes people to call into question his age. But he is in fact 4 years old, plus a month. Most individuals make it clear how blessed we are to have a healthy child.

We are blessed. He is an amazingly vibrant boy. He is smart... and that is what others say about him (You can only imagine how brilliant I think he is). He is kind. He is generous. He is caring. He exudes good qualities. He is amazing. He is vibrant. He is not healthy.

I rarely speak about that aspect of our lives. It hurts too badly. He has never known any differently and a complaint never leaves his mouth. Instead, he will occasionally tell me in private about the pain. After seeing a specialist for the first year of his life relating to his sleep disorder, we felt a well-deserved reprieve. Until he turned 2 years old and this began. He has an autoimmune disorder which has only ever been unofficially diagnosed. He has seen dozens of doctors (one visit, he saw 5 at one time!) in several hospitals and practices. This one says it is beyond her area of expertise, this one says, "I'm a dermatologist, I can only treat what I see", this one says that the method of diagnosis is too invasive. All the while, I treat him at home, calling specialists when things gets too complicated, and wishing that Mary Poppins will find her way to our home with "a spoonful of sugar" and some medicine.

Leaving yet another specialist's office this afternoon leaves me feeling depleted. My little boy hurts and, even though he never speaks of it, he shouldn't hurt. He should be carefree. Instead I tote him to doctors who pass on the responsibility to another practitioner, requesting that we check back in a few months.

Somehow this dead end leaves me with hope. Even though we have no new information, we've checked one more name off the list.

Monday, February 27, 2012

This past weekend, we attended a 2-day circuit assembly. (As Jehovah's Witnesses we attend a few special events throughout the year which focus on a Scripture based theme. For resources with similar Scripture based topics, visit Attending such an occasion is a big deal in our home. I look forward to visiting with old friends not often seen during the lunch break and after the sessions. I feel spiritually filled up. With a 3-year-old however, I have learned the true definition of a new word; on that I thought that I knew well in past years. Each year since his birth, it has taken on a new meaning. This year, "exhausted" has reached an entirely new level.

I say this, not to complain. I love my boy more than myself. He is not a demanding child (the threes are exhibiting a bit more of this behavior, but I attribute that to our chaotic lifestyle). [Excuse me for a moment, "J, what are you doing? Don't dump your cereal out of the bowl please. Stop driving your trains through your spilled cereal please." Clean up, clean up everybody do your part. Clean up, clean up....] Sorry about that. I am back now. I say this because I keep hearing the same message. It is one that is directed at those parenting, but really resonates with me on a deeper level.

The theme this weekend was "Let your name be sanctified" based on the model prayer (aka: Our Father or the Lord's Prayer) by Jesus Christ at Matthew 6:9. One part was directed at parents and how Jehovah's name can be sanctified (made holy) through the methods we use to rear our children. One overseer, whose speaking ability really inspires me, spoke about the need to maintain an open line of communication with our children. In doing so, he said to prepare ourselves as parents to be shocked. If we are prepared to be shocked, we won't spazz out. And if we don't want to hear what our children have to say because it will freak us out (his words, not mine... Lol.) to overreact the first time they confide in us or ask questions about sex or friends or their bodies. I have always believed this to be true. As a FT working mom, I struggle with this, but I think that I do a good job. My boy often runs to me saying, "I'm frustrated", "I'm tired", "I'm happy." I stop whatever important to me thing I am doing and try to help him resolve the important to him problem. It usually relates to toys or sharing, but it is the most important thing in the world to him.

Now for the lesson that I learned. I, like most people I know, struggle with feelings of worthlessness. I have a difficult time feeling that I deserve a personal relationship with my Father in heaven. I feel that my problems are so unimportant in relation to what he deals with on a daily basis. But he never asks us to treat other individuals differently from how he treats us. And while it is sometimes frustrating to drop what I am doing to respond to J's problem, it is deeply satisfying when I find a way to help him work through it and equip him with the skills to overcome the same obstacle in the future. Our God doesn't get frustrated when we interrupt him. How much joy it must bring our God when we ask for his help! All these years, I've been looking at my relationship with Him as a child. I never realized that becoming a parent would equip me to finally work towards overcoming this major obstacle. Thank you for that "food at the proper time"! (Matthew 24:45-47)

Long story short... It was a very long two days and I was only able to sit through a few discourses, but I think that I learned something that will forever impact my relationship with my heavenly Father. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Things I thought I'd never say as a parent...

Daddy to little boy J: "No, you don't have to eat the banana bread if you don't like it. But you cannot run over it with your tricycle."