Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Healthy Influences and Healthy Green Things

   Do you ever stop and pause in wonder when your child does or says something, and without them realizing it, you know they learned it from you? 

   It might be something unimportant, like a word you use often, or maybe they speak in a way that mimics your tone. They don't know they are consciously imitating you, although I admit that when a child launches into a fully cognizant impersonation of an adult, it is a lot of fun. "But Mom, you said 'NOOOOO....NOOOO...we can't do that...that can NEVER happen...." retold in grand performance style with facial expressions I never made, thank you. 

   Then there are those interests you know have been influenced by you. The itch to grow things, the pull of a somewhat agrarian life, the desire to fully consume a piece of chocolate cake the size of your head without guilt. Okay, maybe that last one applies too broadly and not just at my house. Let's substitute that with a boy's passionate curiosity to know and explore, maybe like his mom who found information so enchanting that she actually went to school to study it and made it a career. 

   Like all sinners, I can be a champion at failing to consistently present the genuine good I want to instill in my child's heart. The kind and polite words and selflessness that I long to exemplify sometimes gets lost in a broken world. It is during these times I ask myself, who do I imitate? I hope not the imperfect world around me. I need my words and deeds come from an eternal source of greatness. Often, with dishwater up to my elbows, my prayer is, Father, let me be a light that shines for you. 

   This prayer also reminds me of how I've been enjoying the longer days and the yellow buttercup flowers coming up around us. This time of year is a little boring for us gardeners, well, us gardeners who don't plant peas. There's not much to do yet outside. One way I help incite a love of growing around here is to grow sprouts indoors. A few years ago I purchased this sprouting set and some organic alfalfa sprout seeds. It was an excellent investment. We really like the fresh and inexpensive sprouts on sandwiches and salads. Little Mister eats them by the handful. 


My sprouter is very similar to this one, which is actually a little better than mine. (This is an Amazon Affiliate link.) 

   Last weekend I wanted a satisfying salad to go with some leftovers using half a head of cabbage from a pepper cabbage project. I wanted something, crunchy, healthy, and flavorful. This salad was well liked, and I think the homemade dressing gives it a nice balance of sweet and zesty. 

5 cups of cabbage, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, grated sliced thinly (I used a vegetable peeler)
1/3 cup walnuts
1 small apple, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Spread the cabbage in a 9-inch glass pie plate. spread the carrot, walnuts, and apple evenly, and then sprinkle with cheddar cheese. 


2 T olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
3 T honey
1 T sour cream
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. This makes the perfect amount of dressing for the salad, and the recipe is easy to adjust to your taste. 

   I had to try a few times to get just the right ratio of flavors together for this and had to eat two incredibly tasty salads in the process. The things I do for you people. You're welcome. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Our First Ten Years

   It was ten years ago this month that we purchased and closed the deal on our humble little farmette. We had spent weeks driving around at the peak of the housing bubble, viewing deserted teardown jobs with no certificate of occupancy priced at half a million. Oh, the things we saw! Bedrooms painted black and narrow, vertical staircases better described as ladders. I'll never forget the half-finished house with a set of Bilco outdoor basement doors that had been thoughtlessly installed inside of the house, in the main hall between the kitchen and living room. Even our realtor had to admit that we had seen some "stuff". 

   This house, too, had been a poorly executed renovation job and a woefully overpriced one at that. Our hearts softened by the surrounding view and spacious property, we bought it with all the optimism young love could muster. Our wedding less than two months away. We immediately tore out walls, carpeting that had tunnels suitable for prairie dogs, and some bizarre track lighting in the kitchen. We tore it out and rebuilt it, walls, floors, and all. If we knew then what we know now...I'm not sure what we could have done differently. 

   Back then, we thought our life would look much differently in ten years time. We weren't even certain we would still reside here. We didn't plan to stay all that long. If you had asked me then, I would have told you that we would be long gone by the ten-year mark. We'd be in a bigger castle, in a more interesting kingdom. The castle would have twice the arches and towers than this place. Also, the moat would be wider and deeper, with far more alligators. 

   Ten years later, I say, I can barely keep my one dungeon cleaned and organized and am thankful I do not have to manage two. Our two alligators eat too much already and one has monthly vet bills. If I had five or ten I would just throw myself in the moat. Also, we've planted a lovely forest that I don't have the inclination to dig up and relocate. Did I tell you about the new drawbridge? It's fantastic and I have the perfect color to paint it. 

   A decade ago I could not yet articulate, even as I lived it, the truth that you naturally invest in what you love, and your return on that investment will be a certain degree of satisfaction about how things turn out, a simple blessing of peace. You will invest on the good days when you walk along that horizon of the view that tempted you in the beginning. You will invest on days when the laundry accumulates and your purse is empty. On days when there were medical bills or unforeseen circumstances, we continued to invest because we loved. It turned out it was never about investing in a property but in those we love.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8)

   Since our place is jokingly called The Compound, I guess you could say we earned compound interest on that investment. 

   Sometimes, I want something sweet and snacky but not an outright dessert to go with my mid-day coffee. Make that decaf coffee. I had to give up caffeine several months ago to help with a health issue, and while the decaf has done the trick, I sincerely miss my high-test formula. 

   This healthy and moist Honey Applesauce Snack Cake is easy to mix up, and stands on its own as a delicious after school treat or break time morsel for mom. If you want to make it more of a dessert, add the optional glaze for added sweetening. 

Honey Applesauce Snack Cake

1 cup whole wheat powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
2 Tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 Tablespoon orange juice

Glaze (optional):
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350

Coat a 9'' round pan with baking spray.

Whisk together the first six ingredients in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, applesauce, honey, melted butter or oil, vanilla, orange zest, and one Tablespoon of orange juice. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk gently until the mixture is uniform. Be careful not to over-mix. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until top is golden, about 25 minutes. 

If you want to add the optional glaze, whisk the sugar and orange juice together and drizzle over the cooled cake. 


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