Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sprouts Are So Easy

Growing your own sprouts is cheap and easy. I buy my sprouts online from Sprout People. My favorites are Italian Blend and French Garden. I'm not a good judge of what's best, though, because I certainly haven't sampled all of their sprouts. Mountain Rose Herbs is another site that I've seen recommended. They have a large selection of organic sprouts. I read that organic sprouts have never been implicated in any outbreak of food poisoning. A few years back sprouts got a bad rap after a food poisoning incident.

It takes about 4 days and everything is done in 12 hour increments. You don't have to be precise about the 12 hours - just think twice a day - morning and night. Hands-on time is minimal. Note: Different seeds take different amounts of time. The seeds I use are tiny and are ready pretty fast.

There are all sorts of fancy contraptions for sprouting. I just use a mason jar with a bit of screen on top.
The first step is to put in a scoop (a heaping Tablespoon) of seeds and some water (an inch or two over the seeds). Let it soak for about 12 hours. The jar doesn't need to be in direct sunlight. Indirect is fine. I've also had no trouble in fairly low light areas.

From here on the jar will be upside down. Pour out the soaking water. Rinse the seeds. Prop the jar upside down and leave it for another 12 hours. I use a book display stand to prop my jar. It works perfectly.

After the first 12 hours of draining, you'll probably see the first signs of sprouting. Please excuse my blurry photo.

Every 12 hours from here on do the same - rinse and prop upside down to drain. Each time you rinse, you'll notice the sprouts are taking up more and more room in the jar. You'll see more and more green.

After a few days of sprouting, they are ready to use. I love adding them to soups, sandwiches, and salads. There will be little seed hulls in the jar. I grab a bunch of sprouts in my hand and run a little water over. That rinses away lots of the hulls. I don't worry about what's left - they are fine to eat. I store the sprouts in the refrigerator.

If you are interested in learning more about sprouting, the Sprout People website has a ton of helpful information.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Making Almond Milk

I ate nothing but raw foods for over a year (around 2007-2008). I could write oodles about that experience, but I'll try to sum it up quickly - I never felt better. When done properly, it's excellent. I was totally raw, but I think a better choice is similar to what Natalia Rose recommends - she eats healthy cooked food at dinner.

While going raw, I learned a lot! It was life changing. I've slipped - well, maybe crashed - this last year and I'm ready to get back to healthier ways. This past year I had too much on my plate and when it came to eating, I made choices that were easy. Easy is not generally healthy.

One thing I learned is how to make almond milk. It's easy. It's delicious and has no preservatives or ingredients you can't pronounce.

First, soak raw almonds in water. I use a measuring cup that holds 2 cups. I put in 1 cup of almonds, then fill the measuring cup with water. Let it soak for 12 hours. This starts the sprouting process.

Once the soaking time is completed, rinse the almonds well. I have a mini colander that is perfect for this.

Put 3 to 4 cups of water in a blender. Add the almonds and blend, blend, blend til there are no big hunks left. I have a great blender - Blendtec. It's very much like a Vitamix. Both are around the same quality and price. These blenders are great, but you can do just fine with a lower priced blender. I used a $60 blender to make almond milk for ages.

The next step - straining - seems intimidating, but once you figure out what works best, it will seem quite easy. The milk has to be strained away from the pulp (did I phrase that correctly?). Many people use cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is hard to wash out & use over and over, so that's not my choice. I have also used a cotton napkin. That's OK but there's something better - paint strainers! They are a looser weave than napkins so it's easier to squeeze the milk out. They have elastic around the edges so you don't need a rubber band to secure them around the pitcher. They are cheap and easy to find (most paint or hardware stores). They last a good long while - just wash them out after each use.

Not all of the milk will drip out on it's own. You need to squeeze out a good bit. I lift out the strainer and carefully wring it out into the pitcher. On a good day when the moon and all the stars are aligned perfectly, I don't drip any outside of the pitcher.
You are left with almond pulp in the strainer. Some people add that pulp to baking recipes. I haven't found a way to use them that I like, but in truth I haven't put enough effort into looking.

Update! I just came across this post with a bread recipe using almond pulp. I wasn't even looking for information on almond milk or bread or pulp. I was just browsing some favorite blogs. There are no coincidences...

In the pitcher, you are left with delicious almond milk. You can use it plain. If you prefer it a little sweet, put it back in the blender with 3 dates and a little bit of vanilla and blend again. No need to strain. You can also add chocolate to make chocolate milk.

If you used 3 cups of water when first blending, you end up with a quart of almond milk. I use 4 cups of water and get more milk. I'm sure it's less rich, but in truth, I can't tell the difference.

We don't ever buy real milk. If I don't make almond milk, I purchase almond milk. I use the almond milk for cereal, baking and whatever. I add it to my tea and it's fabulous. Rudy drinks it at meals. It's very nutritious. It really doesn't require much hands on time once you get the hang of it. And it's one more way that I am reducing the chemical overload found in processed grocery items.

Update: Here's another "there are no coincidences" moment. I came across this post on making almond milk. She makes hers a little differently. The main difference is that she soaks the dates with the almonds. I plan to try that. She also soaks them for less time, which is good if you are in a hurry. I prefer longer soak times for more sprouting nutrition. In fact, I've considered soaking for longer (up to 24 hours with a rinse in between). Her post has good pictures and explanations. I love reading about alternative methods. I also love coming across people who are kindred spirits. I love my friends and family, but many of them think I'm a bit of a nut. Sometimes I wish I had more fellow nuts in my life. With blogging, no matter what kick I'm on, I can find others who are interested in the same things.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cock A Doodle DON'T!

I've admired lots of pretty kitchens with colorful roosters here and there. I'm not a rooster decor kind of gal, but in other people's kitchens, they can be lovely and the colors are often really nice. The kitchens where I've admired them are usually fairly classy. I tend to go for a more informal, old-timey look.

Apparently someone with quite a collection had become bored and sent them on their way to one of my favorite thrift stores. I went temporarily insane and bought three.

I tried them all over. I put them on my refrigerator. Awful. No picture. I put one on my counter. Again, no picture. It looked pretty good, but I like things on my counter to be functional.

I put them on a cabinet in the kitchen. Tacky.

I put them on the Hoosier in my pantry. Ugh.

By now, I'm feeling that irritating "I am surrounded by too many knick-knacks" feeling. I don't want these stupid roosters in my kitchen.

I can't take them back. I could re-thrift them. I may end up doing exactly that. But, I'd like to get a little joy out of them before I give up entirely.

Where did I end up putting them? On my porch. They are pretty amusing there. Once it gets warm, the roosters can be placed here and there around my plants and flowers. It might be fun.

Happy at last!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine Flowers

Valentine's Day is a real flower opportunity. If no one gives you flowers, then go buy them for yourself the day after. They are all on sale!

I got a dozen roses for $5. I bought extra for my office at work and for my mom. A friend at work got some free at another grocery store - they were just giving them away.

Roses are not my favorite flowers. They are quite pretty but they seem a bit formal. I prefer flowers that seem more casual, like daisy's or hydrangeas from the yard.
Update: I thought the roses would be short-lived, but as of Feb. 27th, the ones I put in my kitchen still look pretty good. The ones I took to work just played out yesterday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow... Day Two!

First of all, our new pup, Jack, is named after the boy on the left in this photo. His brother Jonce, is in the middle. Their friend, Jake, is on the right. Triple "J" Boys!

The snow is still here. It's around noon. The sun is out and the snow is starting to fall off the trees a bit, but not much - it's still below freezing.

This morning, I went up to the loft and was struck by the view out the windows.
The window wall up there is just fabulous - even more so on a day like today!

By the way, the knockout rose cuttings are doing just fine!
Two of the three cuttings made it and have put out lots of new leaves.

Jack was a little antsy this morning so we went for a walk.

Yesterday, I thought we got about 2 1/2 inches of show.
Wrong - it's at least 4 inchesdeep in most places
and in wide open pasture areas, it's a little over 5.

The barn roof had a pretty melting affect over the edge this morning.
It's hard to tell from this photo, but there's a pretty good curl involved here!

The lake was like glass.

The pups had a chat with their friends from next door.

The road looked pretty.
A few people with 4 wheel drive have been out,
but most people are staying put today.

Rudy's old truck (which we still think of as Uncle Clyne's truck)
looks pretty in the snow. Hopefully, it will soon have a home with a roof!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Day!

Yipeeeeeeeeeee! I love snow. I didn't go in to work today. All of the schools were closed in anticipation of the snow, which was supposed to start around 9.

At noon there was still nothing. But once it did come in, it really put on a show. It's still coming down as I write. According to porch rail deposits, we have a little over two and half inches.

I went for a walk a little while ago. I should have gone earlier, but I ended up taking a very serious nap. Buddy and Lulu and our new baby, Jack, went along.

SIDE NOTE ON THE DOG'S NAME: My niece's youngest boy is named Jack and we are awaiting his permission to use the name. At family events, we would need to refer to our four legged baby as Jack Jr. The two legged Jack could be Jack Sr. If Jack Sr. decides he doesn't want a dog named after him, then other names being considered are Duke and Chester.

Now, back to the walk. I took lots of pictures. I edited pretty well but still have lots to share.

First we all went to the lake. So pretty...

The babies spotted some friends on the other side of the fence.

Moving on... Everything must be inspected.

Jack was a bundle of energy. He LOVED the snow!

This is the gate at the end of the driveway.
It's a pretty view no matter what the weather

Buddy was quite happy with the snow. The cold was NOT a problem.

The pasture... very serene.

...until the babies cut loose.

Back home.

Running home.

Buddy had to run back to me. Buddy is a definite mama's boy and is a little concerned about Jack. He likes Jack but wants to make sure Jack doesn't take his place as top dog by my side. In fact, Buddy is sitting right by my chair as I type.

Here's one more because I couldn't resist ... early evening looking towards the barn.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A New Face in the Crowd

This is... name to be determined.

He found us today. I spotted him about a half mile away from our house as I was on my way to work this morning. He seemed to have a little limp. Then I thought about how awful it was that he was out in such cold weather. About that time, we locked eyes. It was quite eerie. I almost stopped and got him then and there, but we were near houses and I figured that surely he belonged to somebody and that somebody would not want to see me kidnapping their dog. So I went on to work.

When I got home, my husband had just pulled in the drive and this little dog had come over to him as he opened the gate. He found us. We drove down the driveway and little what's-his-name followed us on in.

The first order of business was food - he was really, really hungry. Next, he needed to do some socializing. That went without a hitch. He is not aggressive in the least. He's very nice with our dogs and cats... a real gentleman.

He's getting a little shut-eye every chance he has. This is one worn out little pup.

If we don't see any lost dog signs real soon, he''l be a full-fledged member of the family. I will be really surprised if someone is looking for him.

What can we name him? Rudy's first thought was Whitey, but that's so predictable. He needs something more dignified. Our poor babies too often end up with the stupidest names just because we get used to their temporary name. I hope we come up with a decent name soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Never Hope More Than You Work

Creativity comes from trust.
Trust your instincts.
And never hope more than you work.
- Rita Mae Brown

I read that on Notes From a Cottage Industry recently. It's a great quote. I've added it to my collection. I think a lot of people collect quotes.

My blog quote is an homage to dreaming, but if I want something to happen, then I guess I'd better get to work. That concept has been on my mind lately, but I certainly didn't phrase it as well as Ms. Brown.

I had never heard of Rita Mae Brown until seeing this quote. I looked up some of her other quotes and found others I like, including this wonderful one:

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lusting after Vegetables

Have I become so boring that vegetables excite me? I guess so. I am obsessed with Michael Pollan and have been cooking up a healthy storm. As I was putting some of my groceries away, I was struck by the pretty colors of the veggies in the refrigerator drawer. I decided they deserved a snapshot. Maybe instead of describing myself as dull as dirt, I should brag about how easily I find happiness. Yeah. That sounds good!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Flowers & Sunshine

Finally. Some sun.

It was a good day for all of us to soak up some rays and take a break from the gloomy skies.

The flowers enjoyed the sun, too. The vase is new. It's a little treasure from Goodwill.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Toile Curtains

My curtain project began before Christmas. I quickly realized that I had way too much going on and knew that it was highly unlikely that I could finish them before going back to work. So what did I do? I did a quick mistreatment (favorite decorating trick from The Nester). In fact, the job I did is less than mistreated. Cut sections of fabric are just clipped in place - a little crooked in places.

One of the panels is lined and sewn properly. Once they were all hung, no one seemed to notice which were complete and which weren't unless they made a point of examining them. I can be happy with that until I have a chance to get back to it.

The curtains still need a little something extra. I may add to them down the road - an extra bit of fabric at the top... maybe fringe... who knows. I have plenty of time to think about it.

Don't judge this room yet. It's a work in progress. The BONES of the room are coming along. I still need a couple of great tables, two more comfortable chairs (that can be slipcovered) and either a coffee table or large ottoman. Then I'll be ready for the fun. I know the fun will involve red and who knows what other colors. I'm watching for a great kicking off fabric. The fun things are easy to change when the mood strikes. It's easy to be brave and/or crazy with the fun things because it really doesn't cost much to change the extra touches - especially when your favorite shopping places are second hand stores.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Words in Bold

When I read blogs, usually the pictures are what draw me in - a great room, an intriguing craft tutorial, a garden idea, a tablescape...

When I read the posts, sometimes the words jump out at me. They may not be in bold print, but they feel bold. You know what I mean?

Here are a couple of examples of things that felt bold recently:

From Funky Junk Interiors:
In a perfect world, I had envisioned two identical slip covered wing backed chairs. However, as always, my finds lead me to where my room takes me. I work with what I have, and modify my plans to incorporate the new more productive find.

Oh my, I could be friends with her! I just don't like buying new or planning too much. I try to plan, but it's just not fun. I much prefer letting treasures find me. When I see something I LOVE, I can usually find a spot for it.

This post also has a link to Cottage Instinct's amazing post HERE on finding your loves. It's a great post!

From Heart of Light:
I would rather be a company ready person than a person with a company ready house.

Words to live by!
Ok. That's enough. Now I really need to get up and be productive.


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