5 Things I’m Loving

With three little people in very different stages, with a husband doing multiple part-time jobs while in seminary, and with me keeping up with the family (as best I can) while dealing with some health issues, life can slip by just like that. So this week I’ve continued to concentrate on the many things that TODAY I am thankful for – little lady’s curls, playing “beaver” with my five-year-old, my nine-year-olds growing love of books, and the help and love of my husband – just as a starter. It’s good for my soul.

Along those lines, here are some fun things that I am loving – many of them kitchen related – because food and the joy of eating is a great gift too!

Pretty Platters

Polish Pottery Platter

When Joel and I were getting married, I searched for someplace to register for Polish pottery, as I loved the beautiful design work. With more limited options online then, and Polish pottery not as common as now, it ended up being an impossible task. So how fun is it that the house we are house sitting at has a lovely collection of Polish pottery! We have been enjoying all of it, including the above snack platter. When I put this little snack together for my kids, the platter made it seem so special, even though it was very plain food. (This is sort of cheating since I had the Polish pottery mug on my first list of things I’m loving, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving with so many pieces to use!).

Mushroom Kit

Mushroom Kit - so fun for the kids, and delicious too!

I saw one of these Mini Mushroom Farms (affiliate link)  at a local store on sale, and I’ve always wanted to try one. I pretended it was just for the girls, but really I was the one most excited to try it out. The picture above was a couple of days into it, and you can see another picture here just several days later. They grow fast! It was a lot of fun, and now I want to buy mushroom plugs to put into a log to grow more edible mushrooms!

Sisterly Love

The love of sisters

My oldest is starting to grow up so much, and one of the things she is growing in is looking out for her newest sister. This shows up in watching out for her in the backyard as the three of them play together (I love watching them all together – it’s so sweet) or even setting up elaborate “play rooms” for her in our living room! I shared about that on my Instagram a few weeks ago.

Favorite Sweet Potatoes in a Basket

Sweet Potatoes in a basket

The AIP diet can be a little tiring on the carbohydrate side, but I’ve found that mixing up the sweet potato varieties really helps! I LOVE both this kind of sweet potato (often called a Japanese sweet potato) and this wonderful basket I got on clearance to hold them all.

Peonies

peonies

There are some beautiful plants at the house we are house sitting. Peonies have burst open in their glory in the yard, and we have a lovely vase of them on our table. It makes me smile every time I see it!

Bonus Item!

And finally, I shared with my subscriber list last week some updated information on my health, and I got so many notes from so many of you! It. Made. My. Week. I felt so blessed to have so many people who visit my blog who genuinely care about the person behind the screen. And you know what? That doesn’t happen very much online –especially on something as impersonal as a food blog. To those of you who leave comments, write me emails, and private message me, I may not always have the time/energy to reply in a timely manner, but know that I read every single one of them, and appreciate you greatly!

Greek Sweet Potato Hash – $15 Meal from Trader Joe’s

$15 Trader Joe's Meal - Sweet Potato Hash -- The Nourishing Gourmet

By Natalia Gill of An Appetite For Joy

What could be better than diced sweet potatoes fried up with garlic and green onions, then topped with wild peppery arugula, salty feta and a sprinkle of sumac? Not much in this world if you ask me.

This Greek sweet potato hash is also versatile – delicious on its own or stuffed into a pita pocket or lettuce wrap!

One thing I love about the direction Kimberly takes with this blog is learning to save money while eating right. She came up with the idea of buying meal ingredients at Trader Joe’s with $15 in pocket and I thought it was a fun challenge!

I didn’t include cooking fat and spices in the cost. To more than offset this, know that there will be plenty of leftover sweet potatoes, arugula and sheep feta. My son loves packing the feta with olives in his lunch. And the extra sweet potatoes come in handy for our favorite dessert – Sweet Potato Pie with Lemon Zest.

3 FAVORITE TJ’S FINDS

When creating the recipe, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite items at Trader Joe’s:

Sweet potatoes – I find TJ’s to have good prices on basic organic sweet potatoes.

Wild arugula – This was a new one for me. I like that there are a couple of wild-grown foods in the store as a cost-saving option compared to organic (wild blueberries and now wild arugula). This bagged arugula was amazingly fresh and the best arugula I have ever purchased from a grocery store. It was almost as tasty as the one I buy from a local farmer.

Sheep feta – I love this stuff. It comes in a sizable block that is pre-cut into manageable pieces. This cheese is much creamer than cow-milk feta and easier on digestion, like goat’s milk. It lasts all week for us!

COST BREAKDOWN

3 lb bag of sweet potatoes – $4.49
wild arugula – $2
green onions – $1.29
sheep feta – $6.49
lemon – 50 cents

TOTAL – $14.77

This meal comes together in a flash, especially if you can grab a few minutes earlier in the day to prepare the sweet potatoes (I like breaking up cooking tasks). I just cut them into french fry shape (a good knife makes this easy!) and soak in ice water in the fridge til I’m ready to cook.

$15 Trader Joe's Meal - Sweet Potato Hash -- The Nourishing Gourmet

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Greek Sweet Potato Hash - $15 Meal from Trader Joe's
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Greek-inspired
Serves: 4-6
 
This Greek-inspired sweet potato hash makes a great light meal for spring or summer. Enjoy it on its own or stuffed into a homemade pita, tortilla or lettuce wrap. A cup of bone broth on the side completes the meal.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and diced small
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried oregano, to taste
  • unrefined salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat (ghee, bacon fat, coconut oil, etc.)
  • OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:
  • chunks of sheep feta
  • arugula
  • sumac
Instructions
  1. This is a one-pot meal if you halve the recipe. But with the quantity of sweet potatoes, it's necessary to make it in two skillets.
  2. Heat two skillets over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon cooking fat to each. When hot, add diced sweet potatoes and cook until they start to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Add a little salt.
  3. Add the scallions and cook another 5 minutes, or until they start to get a little crispy. (Add extra fat if needed.)
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and oregano and cook another 5 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with a lemon wedge, a pile of arugula on top and some feta if desired. I also like to sprinkle on a little sumac.

White Hot Chocolate (Inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

This frothy and creamy white hot chocolate is dairy-free and made with healthy ingredients! It's inspired by The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but it's lovely to enjoy with any book! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

By Katie Mae Stanley of Nourishing Simplicity

Rich and creamy, this dairy-free white hot chocolate transports you to the land of Narnia.

As winter melts into spring I can’t help but to think of the magical land of Narnia as it was right before Aslan returned, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a cold and bleak place, with no hope for the future, a world of never ending winter.

Edmund followed his sister Lucy through the wardrobe, unable to find her, he found himself alone and cold in the snowy woods.

To his surprise a “Queen” better known as the White Witch pulled up beside him in her sleigh. Once she realized he was a “son of Adam” she changed from harsh creature to a flattering and almost nurturing type. Despite Edmund’s trepidations he was beguiled but the promise of warmth, a hot drink, Turkish delight, and ultimately a kingdom.

Edmund felt much better as he began to sip the hot drink. It was something he has never tasted before, very sweet and foamy and creamy, and it warmed him right down to his toes

~C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 

White Hot Chocolate Quote

I always wished that I could be Edmond just for a few minutes so I could savor the delicious, hot drink and Turkish Delight too!  It left me wondering what that very sweet and foamy and creamy could possibly be.

It couldn’t be classic hot cocoa since that was already popular in England. It occurred to me that it very well could be a white hot chocolate, which is oh so creamy, and not commonly drank at that time.

This is not your regular white hot chocolate made with the bars you see in the store, instead, it is made with cocoa butter. Cocoa butter gives the drink a smooth and creamy texture with just a hint of chocolate essence.

Curl up with your loved ones and this drink, to enjoy the story once again or for the very first time before winter melts into spring!

OTHER RECIPES INSPIRED BY BOOKS

Ingredients and Equipement: 

(Affiliate links)

White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups almond milk (or other milk/milk substitute)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa butter, grated
  • 1 vanilla bean, caviar scraped out
  • 1/8 tsp unrefined salt

Directions:

1. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the caviar (insides) out with a sharp knife.

2. In a small sauce pot, combine the milk, maple syrup (honey), cocoa butter, vanilla, and salt. Warm over medium heat until the milk is warm and the cocoa butter is melted.

3. Pour into two mugs and froth with a milk frother if desired.

White Hot Chocolate (Inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups almond milk (or other milk/milk substitute)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or raw honey
  • 2 TBS cocoa butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, caviar scraped out
  • ⅛ tsp unrefined salt
Instructions
  1. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the caviar (insides) out with a sharp knife.
  2. In a small sauce pot, combine the milk, maple syrup (honey), cocoa butter, vanilla, and salt. Warm over medium heat until the milk is warm and the cocoa butter is melted.
  3. Pour into two mugs and froth with a milk frother if desired.

 

White Hot Chocolate Picture

Buckwheat Pancakes (Inspired by The Long Winter)

Buckwheat Pancakes

By Katie Mae, of Nourishing Simplicity

Fluffy buckwheat pancakes dripping with butter and brown sugar syrup are the perfect winter breakfast.

The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are near and dear to my heart. My mom had read the series twice through to us by the time I was eight and I read them as my first “big books” when I was nine. To this day they are my favourite children’s series.

I love the stories Laura wove of her family’s adventures and trials as pioneers, making their stamp in history.

I am and always have been drawn to the passages about the food they prepared. The stories are a traditional foodie’s dream as they transport you back to a day when it was common knowledge that cows should eat grass that produces rich yellow cream, that freshly rendered lard should a kitchen staple, and that white sugar is only for special treats.

Over the years, I have created many recipes inspired by Laura’s famous classics such as lemonade, sourdough biscuits, and corn meal mush. One I recently added to my repertoire is buckwheat pancakes. Buckwheat pancakes were a meal that Laura’s future husband Almanzo and his brother Royal served Pa when he braved the bitter cold in the book “The Long Winter” to buy wheat for his starving family.

Almazno and Royal were eating supper. Almazno had stacked the pancakes with brown sugar and he had made plenty of them. Royal had eaten halfway down his stack, Almonzo was nearing the bottom of his, and one tall stack of two dozen pancakes, dripping melted brown sugar, was standing untouched when Pa knocked at the door.

“Come in, Mr, Ingalls! Sit up and gave some pancakes with us!” Royal invited him.

“You boys certianly live in the lap of luxury,” Pa remarked. The pancakes were no ordinary buckwheat pancakes. Almazno followed his mother’s pancake rule and the cakes were light as foam, soaked through with melted brown sugar”

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I may not know Mother Wilder’s secret but these delightful buckwheat pancakes are still light as foam. The lightness comes from the overnight soaking, and the baking soda interacting with the acid in the yogurt (or other soaking medium).

Buckwheat pancakes have a decided tang that comes from the grain itself. For this recipe, I used  part freshly ground buckwheat and part freshly ground whole wheat flour. You can use only buckwheat for a gluten-free option but the pancakes will not be a light. These are perfect paired withAlmanzo’s favourite fried apples and onions and breakfast sausage.

Fix yourself a plate and dive in while enjoying the warmth of your home, instead of a tiny claim shanty like Laura’s family lived in.

Resources:

(Amazon links are affiliate) 

Buckwheat Pancakes Inspired by The Long Winter

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups yogurt/buttermilk/dairy kefir/coconut milk kefir
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sucanat (or unrefined sweetener of choice)
    1 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoons unrefined salt

Directions:

1, In a large mixing bowl combine the two flours, yogurt, and water. Mix thoroughly and cover with a cloth. Allow the batter to set on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.

2. Add the sucanat, eggs, baking soda, and salt to the batter. Mix until smooth.

3. Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Pour the batter on the skillet to create the size pancakes desired.

4. Allow the cakes to cook for about two minutes or until bubbles form over the cake. Flip the cake and cook on the other side for about one minute.

5. Repeat until all the batter has been used.

For The Love of Food and Books- Buckwheat Pancakes Inspired by The Long Winter
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups yogurt/buttermilk/dairy kefir/coconut milk kefir
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 TBS sucanat
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp unrefined salt
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the two flours, yogurt, and water. Mix thoroughly and cover with a cloth. Allow the batter to set on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. Add the sucanat, eggs, baking soda, and salt to the batter. Mix until smooth.
  3. Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Pour the batter on the skillet to create the size pancakes desired.
  4. Allow the cakes to cook for about two minutes or until bubbles form over the cake. Flip the cake and cook on the other side for about one minute.
  5. Repeat until all the batter has been used.