Monday, August 25, 2014

Youponing: DIY coconut milk

I gave up dairy years ago, in an effort to reduce inflammation in my sweet, one-time-use vessel. I never liked cow milk. I always thought the smell was off-putting. But, I did used to use soy milk for cereals and such. Fast-forward 10+ years later, and I'm off the soy too (I'll explain later). So, what's a girl to do? I love almond milk, but I do fear the dreaded PUFA over-consumption. And I am NOT about to give up my obsession with sunflower seed butter just so I can squeeze in the PUFAs in almond milk and keep my omegas balanced.

But I NEED something white and creamy for my smoothies and recipes!!!

Oh, hello coconut milk. I didn't see you there. You're so chill and easy going. I bet it was that island life you lived, wasn't it? You just slid right into my life when I needed you most and said "Ya mon, I heah for ya."

Have you ever tried coconut milk? It's darn good. But the price tag can get a bit sticky for us frugal folk. But, never fear, I'm here to show you the ways of my alter ego "Thrifty Cent". Here's my super easy peasy version for the busy mama or the just plain lazy.

First, go to Trader Joes. Almost all of their cans are BPA free, and you will pay at least 1/3rd of what you would anywhere else. There you will find these most magnificent cans of light coconut milk for 99 cents. Yep, that's less than a buck, guys!

Under a buck at Traders, y'all!  

Second, open up that bad boy and dump into a quart jar and add one can full of water to it. (Or go crazy and do twice the milk in a half gallon mason jar, like I do).

I prefer a wide mouth jar. 
Third, sprinkle in a pinch of salt and then whatever else you would like to flavor it with. I like vanilla and coconut sugar (coconut, meet coconut) or stevia. I've even made peppermint at Christmas time!

Vanilla & sea salt is always a good choice!!!


Fourth, shake, chill & enjoy.

Last, say thank you for just saving you a few bucks on coconut milk.

Someday I'll show you how to make it from scratch using the dried stuff!

Love & coconuts!
S

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday zuke party

It's Thursday, which means it's pick-up day for this week's CSA (community supported agriculture). I have a bunch of zucchini in my fridge, and I like this. I like this a lot. Zucchini always reminds me of summer when I was younger. Oh those days … when I was young and thought the world and everything in it was perfection. Zucchini reminds me of a time before pain, before anxiety, before complications. Okay, that was way overly dramatic. But it does remind me of summer when I was growing up.

Why?

I'm so glad you asked.

My mom's side of the family is Italian. And Italians are passionate about their food. No really. They are. (So, forgive me, family, if I have this all wrong. I am going by memories of 25 years ago.) My late Great Aunt Lou used to make this dish we like to call "fried zucchini". It's not really fried, but it is zucchini. And this dish is so delicious and easy (how many times can I tell you that I like things easy?) that you're going to wonder why you never thought of it before.

Our CSA gives us a lot of yellow summer squash too. Feel free to mix and match. I used zucchini and yellow squash today. Traditionally, this was just the green stuff. I never saw yellow in it as a child. But I add yellow. Yellow is happiness. It's sunshine. And it means summer. So, mix em if you got em.

Without further adieu….

Finished fried zucchini (sans pecorino, as I am dairy free these days) with a side of broccoli slaw

FRIED ZUCCHINI
2 Large or 3 small-med summer squash - sliced thin
1/2-1 Large onion (depending on how much you like onions. We love them. So, I use 1 good sized onion per recipe)
3 Local free range eggs - scrambled (we just can't rationalize eating those caged chicken eggs from the chain grocers. It's inhumane and frankly … gross. Click here for the details. Locals are not much more expensive and eons better for you.)
Salt to preferred taste (I like TONS of himalayan)
Pepper to taste (if your system can handle pepper. Mine cannot, so I skip it.)
1/4-1/2 cup pecorino romano (optional) 
3 T coconut oil (can sub olive if need be & olive is what my family used. I prefer to cook these temps with coconut because it is more stable with higher heats.)

Slice the onion into rings and then half the rings. Place them in a cast iron skillet (stainless is fine if you don't have cast iron) with the oil and sauté them a bit until they are a little translucent. Crank the heat up and add the slices of squash on top. 

Let them sizzle and fry. Don't stir too often or they break, but stir enough to get them all to brown. 
Pretty pretty summer squash sizzling with onions. I added some jalapeños from my garden to spice it up a little! 

Once they are all browned and a little soft, add the egg. Fold it in so it coats all the veggies. 


Squashes with the egg. I usually brown them a bit more, but I am hungry and cannot wait any longer!

Add salt, pepper and pecorino. Fold in and serve. I like to top with a little fresh parsley. 

Mangia!

Monday, August 11, 2014

I throw the best pity parties around.

Image available for purchase and copyright by Etsy artist outiart. Please see https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/166985724/small-seeds-of-love?ref=market for purchase.

Spoiler alert: Some days I really suck. 

Today I had a pity party. It started this morning when both of my kids decided to cry for two hours straight, which was a carryover from last night when they decided to cry for 3 hours straight. They were exhausted after a very long weekend and nothing could calm them… the sleep they got overnight, the hugs, the bribing, the threats ... nothing. It got to a point where I had to eventually just leave them safely in one room and go sit in another by myself to breathe. That was the finger that nudged the first domino, and the rest of the day I threw myself a pity party. 

     I felt bad for myself. It was the kind of day that, if I didn't have kids, I would've sat on the couch all day with a box of Kleenex, an entire bag of chocolate chips, a bottle … scratch that ... a magnum of wine, and zero agenda. I don't know why, but I still have those days where I trick myself into thinking that it feels really good to throw an all-day-long self-pity party (worse than a two-year-old). All day I pouted and whimpered. "Life is so hard right now.". "Why don't we have more money?".  "I can't even get groceries today.". I felt like such a failure. In my life B.C. (before children ... and husband), I made (by myself) twice as much money as were bringing in right now. I remember having these pity parties then too, and I was only ONE person. Now I wonder where all that money went and how we are living on a fraction of that with 4 people. Here's the gist of the string of thoughts that went in circles in my scattered head all day long: "I don't know what to do. I have nowhere to go from here. Where can I go from here? Why aren't there more signs as to where to go? How can I even quiet my mind long enough to see any signs when I'm too stressfully busy with 2 kids, 2  businesses, freelancing jobs, housework & meal prep? It'll get better when the kids get bigger.  But will it?" I think I like to tell myself that sometimes ... "it will get easier when the kids get bigger", but in reality, what I really should be telling myself is, "it'll get better when I get bigger."

     As soon as my husband got home I left. I kind of had to. You know ... for my spirit. Have you ever had one of those days where you just can't wait to step away from your own life? Just for a minute? Just for a brief little breather that will hopefully bring you back to sanity? Well I took my brief little minute and ended up at Marc's. I left the stress at home to go to Marc's. I left one big frustration for a bigger frustration. Some of  you out-of-towners wouldn't know what Marc's is, but there are very few bigger frustrations than shopping there. It is a discount store full of groceries and everyday products and home goods, and it is a madhouse ... ALL. THE. TIME. But today it was a madhouse of a lesson. I walked in with my pocket of change, knowing I only had a certain amount to spend. I had to pick things up only to put things back down. Pick up another item ... put that back too. "Oh here comes the self pity party again", I thought. "I can't afford all this stuff I don't need at the cheapest store in town." Boo hoo. By golly, I was only there for organic sugar to brew some water kefir. But it wasn't the sugar that I was at Marc's for today, apparently. My good friend (and sometimes, adversary) universe had different plans.

     While I was at Marc's, I saw a woman with a baby. She was in front of me in the register line. I got sappy (and baby hungry) when I saw the little nugglet sleeping all snuggled up against his mommy. She was wearing him, and it always warms my heart to see a mom wearing her baby. She was humming and smiling and used WIC to buy her groceries. She seemed so grateful and content. And I was so proud to see what she bought: Lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant and fruit. Nothing was unhealthy. You don't see that a whole lot. Normally, when you're struggling financially, you try to make the dollar stretch and are forced to buy processed foods. I know this, and I completely understand. But there I was, trying to buy my box of lettuce and sugar with my pennies, just like she was, and I realized how lucky we both were to be able to buy anything healthy at all. Well played universe. I'm listening. Gratitude where gratitude is due. Thank you for my nutrient dense lettuce today.

The guy behind me was another lesson in the opposite direction. He was talking to a little boy about how he used to be single and the life of the party before he became a dad. And now that he's got a baby at home, he doesn't have any fun anymore. I couldn't imagine telling a little boy that a child changed my life from a ball of fun to a prison. Oh what that little boy must have felt. Did he feel like a burden? Did he lose some of his self worth? Uh oh, self-check … was my attitude today telling my children the same thing without literally saying it? Again universe, well played. Lesson #2 ... CHECK!

     This dichotomy in front of me and behind me moved me on the inside. I walked out of the store thinking, "How did I come here for sugar but left with such a blessed lesson? And gosh am I fortunate to even be gifted this lesson, in the first place, when I was such an asshole today.". When I got back to my car, I noticed that the truck I parked next to had a message on the window that said "Sow only seeds of love" right next to his Jack Johnson sticker. With a smile (and a feeling that this was the closure to my lesson), I said "Thanks buddy. I like Jack too. It's my favorite Pandora station." (that last part is irrelevant, but it's how my mind works). With that I realized that my entire day ... my entire day ... I did not do that. I did not sow seeds of love.  My seeds were of sadness, depression and stupidity. And it took a trip to the most annoying place in my world to make me realize that I am so blessed.

     For the rest of the day (and as long as I can remember this trip) I will try to replace my pity parties with thoughts of love. Because we really have to be careful what we're growing. We really have to be careful what we're growing, especially when we are growing our children alongside ourselves. I also realized that I am not the failure that I felt I was. If I'd have learned nothing, then I would have failed. But I'm still learning, yearning and listening … even through the chaos and the screams of my beautiful and amazing children.

And then it rained, washing all the yucky parts away.