Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mentalpause

Wow, how life turns on a dime.

A few months ago I was home recuperating from shoulder surgery.  Fast-forward to being back at work, not healing as well as I'd hoped and facing a second surgery.  Ok.  Sprinkle in a little extra stress because my job is retail-based and the economy is tanking these days.  Fair enough...just roll with the changes.  Extra duties, different hours and new stresses.  That would be manageable if not for Mother. Flippin'. Nature.  She decided that now, right now, of all times is when to hit me with MENOPAUSE.  dun-dun-dun......

No easing into it, just full on.  Night sweats (every half hour), hot flashes (ditto), mood swings, anxiety like nobody's business.

Just about every room I occupy now has a fan.  I've donated bags and bags of sweaters and 'hot' clothing and live in things that can be stripped off as fast as possible.  With the exception of my work uniform which is mind-blowingly hot polyester.  The man who coined the phrase 'performance fabric' to give polyester a better image should burn in hell.  Or at least be forced to wear it as punishment against humanity.

Yup this is all-out whining.  Far better women than I have breezed through menopause so it ain't gonna kill me but I sure do complain about it a lot now.

 My poor husband.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Please help

Lord, please help me not be a cry-baby.  This isn't cancer.  It isn't a big deal and people have a whole lot worse pain than I have with a whole lot less blessings.  Please forgive my failings and help me find grace in this pain.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpking Pie Latte Syrup--reduced sugar

This is a cut-and-paste of one of my posts over at the recipe forum on SPFH to make it easier to share with friends and family.  Sorry, I haven't entered this one into my sparkrecipes.com database to know a calorie and nutrient workup on it.  

For those of us who have to control our sugar intake but still want a pumpkin pie latte (WHEN is Starbuck's going to create one for us?) here is another alternative to the many recipes out there on the internet. I made this up from parts of other recipes so I could have a mostly sugar free drink base. It isn't as thick as the real thing but even made up with my own thin almond milk it still makes for a pretty creamy mouth feel. And my house smells ah-mazing!

Pumpkin Pie Latte Syrup--reduced sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree
3 cups water
2 cups sucralose powder for baking (the fluffy Splenda)
1/2 cup organic blue agave syrup
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, reserved

Whisk all ingredients except vanilla together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until mixture has reduced by at least 1/3 begins to sheet when poured from a spoon. This took me about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly then add the vanilla. If the texture of the spices is objectionable you could filter through a fine sieve. Store the syrup in a non-reactive container in the fridge. 

For my latte I used 1/2 cup double-strength coffee, 1 1/2 cups thin almond milk and half a cup of syrup. (I like things sweet! lol) This would also be tasty added to tea or to top a bowl of hot oatmeal but is really too sweet on its own for just straight eating.

Edit:  this is sooooo delicious in homemade soy milk.  OHMYGOSH!  It is like a liquid pumpkin pie party in my mouth.   Hope I can get the link to the milk directions to work right:  http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2012/02/homemade-soy-milk.html

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More like Grandma's Kind of Day

No pictures, just a few notes so I won't forget.  Mom has several of Grandma's diaries and they are shaming for a modern woman to read.  She usually accomplished more in a day than most of us get done in a week and entertained family and friends all along the week too.  Some of her entries pretty much just chronicled days spent in the kitchen baking or canning.  She produced huge quantities of food and I well remember the smells and sights of her basement pantry with it's walls lined with home canned foods.  It must have been absolutely ideal storage except for the stairs which were no doubt painful due to her phlebitis.  We grandkids usually didn't mind running downstairs for her, it gave a chance to sneak peeks into the very interesting storage rooms there too!  One room had a working cast-iron stove and lawn furniture. (?) One had boxes and boxes of Grandma's old hats.  One was the 'guest' room and had boxes of dishes and old clothes.  Seems there were neat treasures everywhere you looked but like a typical basement to a kid it was also at times a bit dark and scary.

...off track as normal.  Anyway here goes with a list of what I accomplished today:

Prepped four batches of cookie dough balls to freeze to use for Christmas cookie swaps.  Easy-peasy stuff with cake mixes but- still!  Each batch made 3-4 dozen cookies.  Puts me way ahead of the normal December work load.

 Baked, prettied and froze a batch of gluten free treats for a family member's Christmas gift.  No peeking!

 Cooked and canned a batch of pizza sauce from our home-grown Roma tomatoes.  Each one has a little Apache chili pepper on top so it should be zesty!  Made 6 quarts.

Baked a batch of gluten free, sugar free zucchini mini cakes (4) and have them wrapped to freeze.

Prepped and processsed the last of this year's garlic harvest.  The Vita-Mix made easy work of it and I used the leftover garlic water in the batch of pizza sauce.  Came out to 18- 1/8 cup portions.

Now to finish up kitchen cleanup and get to bed.  I will want to remember getting this much done.  They say the memory is the 2nd thing to go in middle age, I can't remember what the first one was.  ;)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cranberry Banana Muffins

Like 90% or more of the internet-using female population, I find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest lately.  This recipe came about from a pin for Cranberry Banana Bread http://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-banana-bread-16211that sounded like a good candidate for substitutions, based on the reviewers comments.  After a day spent working very hard in the yard and maybe expecting some company of the Gluten Free Persuasion (Elizabeth and Eric, cross fingers) I thought it would be a good time for a nice treat.  Since more yardwork is coming today it is now or never.  While these bake I am getting the recipe saved here and can maybe come back with a photo if they turn out pretty.  (And if I get around to it! Ha!)  Oops, I forgot to set the timer.  Uh...  We'll see.


Cranberry Banana Muffins

1 cup stevia-for-baking sugar substitute
1/2 cup peanut oil (or applesauce or other fat)
1 cup mashed bananas (needed 2 bananas)
1/4 cup milk (I used soy coffee creamer for richness)
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
2 cups gluten-free flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 tablespoons chia seeds, dry
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups craisins (original recipe called for them to be chopped but I left them whole)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare 2 muffin tins with paper liners sprayed with a little nonstick cooking spray in each.  This batch ended up making 19 muffins.

Mix bananas with eggs, add oil and the rest of the ingredients one at a time.  Stir lightly after each addition and try not to overbeat the batter.  Using an ice-cream scoop I filled each muffin cup evenly and baked 15 minutes.

Edit:  YUMMMMM!  Nice and crispy on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside and hopefully the chia seed addition will give it extra 'staying power'.  I'll make these again for sure but might go back to my splenda-for-baking since personally, the stevia leaves an aftertaste I'm not thrilled about.   Still...there was good body to this and knowing it is healthier than the sucralose is a big selling point for a lot of folks.  I bet my guys won't touch these so the batch will probably end up getting frozen and lovingly doled out for my breakfasts and snacks at work.

2nd Edit:  These were great the first day and the 2nd day they were hard-as-a-rock dry!  Maybe the chia seeds sucked up all the moisture?  I don't know but I did try to eat them as-is and finally gave up on that idea.  The rest of the batch got cubed and baked into a fat-free/dairy free/sugar free bread pudding.  It fed me for more than a week's worth of breakfasts and was very good.  But next time I make this...I will either leave out the chia seeds or hydrate them before adding them.  lol

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recording a protein experiement

In the middle of preparing for Thanksgiving, I found myself with an orphaned cup of pumpkin puree.  After having made many batches of pumpkin and banana bread recently it seemed a better idea to make a batch of protein bars but my old recipe only used half a cup.  Here is today's version and after it finishes baking I'll edit this post with the verdict.


Pumpkin Protein Biscotti Bars

3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill TVP (textured vegetable protein)
4 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon Saigon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup egg whites (refrigerated Egg Beater brand)
1/2 cup sugar free Pumkin Pie Spice coffee syrup (such as DaVinci or Torani)
1/2 cup sugar free Pancake coffee syrup (Davinci brand)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple cider
1 cup craisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a 10x 14 baking dish by spraying with nonstick spray.  By hand, mix all ingredients in a very large Tupperware bowl until well blended.  Pour into baking dish spreading to edges and smoothing top.  Bake 30 minutes or until top is dry and edges are lightly golden.  Remove from oven and cool in pan 10 minutes.  Turn onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  Cut into 24 bars.  Place on a cookie sheet with each bar on it's side and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool and store in a well-sealed container or freeze.

1st edit:  I forgot that to make nice-looking 'biscotti' you need to trim the outside edges too so they will all be uniform and face upward for the 2nd baking.  After putting these in the oven the first time I reviewed my other (Almond Protein Biscotti in the sidebar listing) one and found that in that one I did the 2nd baking 20 minutes.  For an experiment I'm going to bake 10 minutes on each side.  A little more fussing but it might give me more crisp edges.

From the side trimmings I tasted (hey, I couldn't let them go to waste!) these are going to be very satisfying! Might even have to go all out and do the little bit of melted white chocolate coating.  I have been saving my  last two Amber Lyn's sugar free white chocolate bars just for something special. http://www.amberlynchocolatestore.com/build-a-box-p/build-a-box.htm

2nd edit:  These turned out so tasty that I have ordered another box of sugar free white chocolate.  I love having that backup for projects like this.  Though...the biscotti aren't crunchy like I'd hoped and remembered.  Guess they should have a longer bake time both times.  Oh well, they are yummy and very filling for the calories!  Win/Win!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Purple on Friday for Violet


Friday I'll be joining friends from Sugar Pie Farmhouse in wearing purple to commemorate the too-short life of a sweet baby girl who was the daughter of another member of that community. Her family will be holding the memorial service that morning and hopefully the whole room will be awash in purple. Since I'm not very technologically advanced, I'll post a document here of a little tag I'm going to print and wear to work that day too in case any others from the message board would like to do the same.