Thursday, October 30, 2014

Miso Glazed Salmon Head Recipe- Cheap and Absolutely Delicious

Oh my gosh. I just had such a scrumptious supper, maybe one of the best I've had in a while. The funniest thing about it is that while I thought I was in heaven while eating it, others probably would find the thought of it absolutely revolting.
Because the centerpiece of my meal was half a salmon head. Miso glazed salmon head, that is.
Yesterday I wrote about how I got my fish heads at the farmer's market for about $1.90 each, with each head weighing in at over 2 lbs- this is an awesome price for fish round these parts. (Cheap salmon round these parts is over $5 per pound with bones- this had was roughly 95 cents per pound, so...)
Let me talk to you about fish heads, and salmon heads in particular.
First off- I know many people say "I don't want to eat something that's looking at me," or "I don't want something that looks like it was alive", and while I understand that, I would rather be fully cognizant of the fact that an animal died so my life could be sustained, and be appreciative of that, as opposed to being in denial, and pretending that that fillet or cutlet just magically appeared shrink wrapped in the grocery store, and wasn't part of a living, breathing being...
But that said- if eating something that looks like a face bothers you- just eat it upside down. Large fish heads, like salmon heads, should be sliced in half before cooking, so just turn it and eat it so the inside is facing you- you don't see any eyes then or anything too weird looking- just mainly meat and bone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Latest Shopping Trip At Farmer's Market

Now that I wrote yesterday's blog post about my intention to lose weight and get in shape, I can finally write this post about my shopping trip yesterday at the farmer's market.
I had some produce in my fridge before going to the farmer's market- don't get me wrong. But I had some produce I really wanted, especially with this new diet of mine, and I hadn't been to the farmer's market in a long time.
Things have changed up a bit at the farmer's market- some of the stalls I used to buy from are no longer there, and some of the ones I went to no longer are selling the things I used to buy from him, so I explored the farmer's market anew.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How I'm Trying To Lose Weight and Get Fit

Today's lunch. (I had half the fish.
 The other half I ate for supper.)
Some of you might remember that I posted 5.5 months ago, when I was 6.5 weeks postpartum, that I wanted to lose weight, and how I would try to lose weight. The reason that I wanted to lose weight was because I was over 40 lbs more than the upper range of my ideal weight, and that scared me. I felt like a fat blob...
Well, over the last 5.5 months I did lose weight. Between 15 and 20 lbs. Not sure how much is from how I was eating and how much because of nursing (and tandem nursing to boot), and while I am glad my weight went down 15-20 lbs, I still have a long way to go... but my body seemed to have plateaued at this certain weight, 25 lbs above my upper end of my ideal weight range.
And I keep on getting people asking me if I'm pregnant. No, for the record.

I was trying to decide whether or not I should just "learn to be happy with my body" and not try to lose weight... but honestly, I would like to be a little less fat, would like to lose cellulite, and would like to be able to go clothes shopping more easily and/or fit into my old clothes better. Not to mention that I'd like people to stop asking me if I'm pregnant.

A friend recommended to me this program called "No Excuse Moms" which caused a little bit of an uproar and controversy back when, but in short, she says there's always an excuse why not to try to lose weight, etc... but being a mom isn't an excuse. In short, she has a program and a group to try to encourage and motivate moms to get fit and lose weight.
I read through the program and it sounded very up my alley. Not extreme overboard, cutting out carbs or fat or both- but rather sticking to healthier fats and keeping the carbs healthier- and only minimizing carbs past a certain hour. And stopping to eat minimum 3 hours before bed, but ideally by 7 pm.
It also includes a certain amount of exercise on a regular basis.
And you're allowed one cheat meal per week- but it should be planned.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

Hello y'all! It's that awesome time of the week, where I, once again, share what frugal things I did this week, hopefully to inspire and give ideas, as well as to share things that I do in my day to day life that don't necessarily need a whole post to write about each one.

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This past week was a good one. Here's what we did to save money throughout the week:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homemade Mild Berbere Spice Mix- Ethiopian Recipe

 photo IMG_1877_zps89c261b0.jpgIf you've been reading my blog for some time, you'll be aware of the fact that I'm very into "ethnic" foods from various cultures around the world, especially cultures where they make low cost, vegan dishes, such as India or Mexico. Ethiopian food is one of those that I love, since it is super low cost to make, relies heavily on legumes, and is so full of flavor that you forget you're eating legumes.
Ethiopian food can be pretty much be summed up in two words- injera and berbere.
Injera is a naturally gluten free, fermented flat bread which is the base of all Ethiopian meals. It is used as the plate and also as the utensils with which you eat the food. I have tried numerous times to make injera at home and have floppped many times...
Berbere is a spice mix made with many ingredients, and it is used in most Ethiopian dishes to give them their signature flavor.
Oh, and did I mention berbere is fiery hot?
I made an Ethiopian meal the other day, but with a homemade flat bread that was not injera, and I made homemade berbere to use in the various ethiopian dishes for the meal. I based it off of this recipe, only I didn't make it fiery hot- only mildly spicy (I wanted my kids to eat it!), and the food came out terrifically.
If you like things volcanicly hot, feel free to increase the amount of hot pepper flakes in the recipe.
For everyone else, keep it the same.
And if you like no spice, leave it out entirely.

For the most part I used non ground spices instead of pre-ground spices. If you use non ground ones like I did, just increase the amount you put in by a drop, since ground spices are more compact than whole.

Homemade Mild Berbere Spice Mix- Ethiopian Recipe

Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Recipe- With Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Option- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, and Gluten Free

 photo IMG_1882_zpsa3a3e365.jpgWho doesn't like chocolate pudding? In my family, the answer is no one, and from the looks on the grocery store shelves, it seems to be very popular with the locals here as well.
I like chocolate pudding, but I don't like the ingredients in most chocolate pudding recipes, and the other recipes, my body doesn't like. I figured out this chocolate pudding recipe that meets all my requirements- refined sugar free, egg free, dairy free, and soy free. Added bonus? It tastes yummy. And it's relatively cheap. And pretty quick to make as well.
If you're not sensitive to dairy, you can use regular milk for this, and if you're short on time, you can use any (store bought) non dairy milk for this pudding instead of the homemade sunflower milk- though I don't think coconut milk would work for this.
And if you're trying to keep the costs down, feel free to use white sugar instead of coconut sugar, just note that it'll be sweeter, so you probably want to cut down on the amount of sugar used, and also note that it's less healthy. Choice is yours.

Homemade Chocolate Pudding Recipe- With Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Option- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, and Gluten Free

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I Learned From My Fridge and Freezer Troubles

 photo IMG_1876_zps43165ec9.jpgWhen my husband and I went away about a month ago, we came home to a non working freezer. Since then the stuff in the freezer started frosting over and then defrosting, and I needed to fix the freezer on my own. And even after that, it stopped working well, and yet again, the past few days I had things defrosting on the top shelves of my freezer.
You have no idea how high my stress levels were. Through the roof, I tell you.
Because I was pretty sure that my fridge was slowly, slowly dying. Because why else would it stop working three times in the space of a month and a half?
I researched the costs of new fridges, and even went out to a store that sold them to check it out, and started freaking out at the disgustingly high prices I saw for a fridge similar in size to what I have now.
But before I would spend that much money on a new appliance, I figured we should invite the local appliance repair man to inspect our fridge and just give one final check before we sign the fridge's "death certificate".

I can breathe a huge sigh of relief, because the fridge needed only a few minor repairs, and I learned some stuff about fridge and freezer maintenance that hopefully will help prevent this problem in the future; I wanted to share it with you, so that you don't either have these issues and need to pay a repairman. (The repairman's fee was only 7% of what I would have paid for a new fridge like we had.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Just Made a Weaning Party

I did something I never did before.
A few things, actually.
 photo turtle34.gifI nursed a kid until 2 months shy of her third birthday- my first two kids I nursed until 19 months each, this one until 34 months.
This is the first time I nursed all the way through a pregnancy and then nursed two kids at once, also called tandem nursing.
This is the first time I nursed a kid until she was old enough to have an intelligent conversation with me, that I could reason with her, and could tell me in her words how much she loved nursing.
And this is also the first time I made a weaning party.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

It's that time again, that time where I share just how frugal (or not) I was in a week. Fortunately this past week as a good one, and I have a decent amount of frugal things I did to share with y'all.

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Here's what I did this week to save money, divided by category:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Healthy Homemade Strawberry Jelly/Gummy Candies- Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free

 photo IMG_1841Medium_zps147db0ef.jpgOn Friday, I had the exciting enjoyment of emptying out my freezer, because it wasn't working and things were starting to defrost- fortunately only just a drop defrosted, and not an entire freezer full like happened the last time. I'd left the freezer open a drop (something blocked the door) and some stuff defrosted enough to spill onto the fan and then refroze, making the fan unable to move, and the freezer and fridge were starting to not work. Fortunately, we fixed it ourselves quickly and easily enough, but I found some strawberries that I'd bought on sale when they were in season and froze, which had defrosted with these freezer issues...
So I said instead of re-freezing those strawberries, I'd make them into a dessert.
I'd been reading about making homemade healthy sour gummy candies (similar to the homemade mango gummy worms I'd made before) and I was trying to figure out what flavor to make them, and then I decided to take the defrosted strawberried I had, puree them, and turn them into strawberry sour gummy candies. Only they didn't come out so sour, so next time I'd probably increase the lemon juice (and reduce the water) in this.
And though they were gummy, they were slightly closer to the texture of jelly candy than gummy candies; I would have liked them to be even chewier, so next time I make this, I'll probably use 7 or 8 tablespoons of gelatin instead of 6.
While I made these with strawberry puree, I'm sure it would also be terrific with other pureed fruit, like raspberry puree, mango puree, applesauce, peach puree, etc...
My kids really enjoyed these gummy candies. But the best thing I did with them was coat them with homemade chocolate, to make chocolate covered strawberry jellies, very similar to chocolate covered jelly rings... But I'll get to that in another post...

Healthy Homemade Strawberry Gummy/Jelly Candies- Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicken Piccata Recipe- Gluten Free and Dairy Free Options (With Vegan Suggestions)

 photo IMG_1838Medium_zps0805be34.jpgI had never heard of chicken piccata until I was searching for recipes to make with the capers that I foraged, but it instantly appealed to me- capers, chicken and lemon sounded like a match made in heaven.  Most versions of chicken piccata are made with gluten and dairy, as it is typically dredged in flour and then fried in butter, but I made this gluten free and dairy free by using gluten free flour and frying it in olive oil, and it was amazing.
I've also made this exact recipe with fish (tilapia) instead of chicken and it's amazing. And if you're vegan, you can fry up whatever form of fake meat you make- whether seitan, tofu or something else- instead of the chicken.
I finally wrote up this recipe after making it a few times- I'm serving it tonight with gluten free spaghetti and steamed fennel for a nice Italian style meal.
If you make this with a tapioca or potato starch, and possibly mixed with nut meal, or other non grain flours, this recipe is perfect for those who are on the Paleo diet plan.

Chicken Piccata Recipe- Gluten Free and Dairy Free Options (With Vegan Suggestions)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yummy Apple Muffins Recipe- With Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan Options

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Got any apples that need to be used up?
The other day I wanted to make a sweet baked good, but I was short on most ingredients that seem to be in the standard muffin recipes. I did have a lot of apples, though, and figured they'd make a great muffin. I wasn't disappointed.
I based my muffin recipe off this one, and they came out so great that people were telling me I should market it.
These muffins are gluten free (but can easily be made with wheat if you're trying to keep costs down), can easily be made vegan, and can easily be made refined sugar free. I've made mine vegan and not vegan, refined sugar free and not refined sugar free, and they're great all ways.

Yummy Apple Muffins Recipe- With Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan Options

Monday, October 13, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

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Hi there everyone! Good thing I make sure to share my weekly frugal accomplishments on Mondays every week, because it pushes me to blog even when I've been being lazy. Sorry for the lack of blog posts this past week- I'll try to get back on the bandwagon...

Here's what we did to save money this past week:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Easy Dal Recipe- Vegan and Simple

 photo IMG_1749Medium_zpsc8c08dc8.jpgI sometimes feel that on this blog, I post my amazing special recipes that taste superb and are a real treat to eat, but tend to leave out the recipes for things that are relatively basic, that I make all the time.
This dal recipe- Indian style lentil curry, is one of those- I make this probably a few times a month, since it is quick to cook, takes minimal ingredients, my kids who aren't the hugest fan of lentils don't mind it, and it's cheap.
Made from red lentils, if I'm being more ambitious I pair it with some Indian side dishes like curried veggies, chutney, and Indian style rice. But if I'm short on time and/or energy, just serving it with rice and a simple vegetable salad works as well.

Easy Dal Recipe- Vegan and Simple

Monday, October 6, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

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I'm proud of myself- for the first time in a while, it seems, I actually kept track, every day, of what we did to save money. It was a good week, also doing frugal basics, but also having a good time, frugally. I finished the week feeling that I really accomplished a lot, so that was great.

Here's what we did to save money this week:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Making and Painting Plaster Bisques/Molds/Casts

 photo IMG_1739_zps6395124e.jpgWhen I was a kid, there was this place called Plaster Playground not too far from my house. You'd pick out a piece of molded plaster (I only recently learned these are called plaster bisques) and paint it, then bring it home. All the cool kids in my class had birthday parties there, but it was very expensive, and in my house, we simply didn't have birthday parties at Plaster Playground.

However, my mother is very inventive and came up with great alternative ideas for birthday parties, and one thing she did many years for our birthdays was make her own plaster bisques at home, and we'd decorate them at our birthday party. I remember one year I had a Balto themed birthday party, and she made Balto (or wolf, most likely) shaped plaster bisques for us to paint.
My mom would put hooks in the plaster so that they could easily be hung up on walls; my bedroom walls were filled with so many years' worth of birthday party plaster paintings.

I hadn't given much thought to plaster painting until recently. However, when we came back from our anniversary trip, we brought back some gifts for the kids, including a play makeup set for Anneliese. The packaging for the makeup set inspired me, because there was so much detailing on it that it felt a shame to throw it out- I thought "Won't this make a really awesome plaster thing to paint?"

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Upcycled Fancy Little Girl's Dress Tutorial

 photo IMG_1776_zps0b29e3ea.jpgMy little daughter, Anneliese, 2 3/4 years old, is such a girly girl, is in love with pretty things and princesses, and has very specific tastes in clothing and what she'll agree to wear. She absolutely adores "princess dresses" and wears them as often as she could.

When I was in the US last January, I brought her back a barbie doll with a "princess dress" with a matching dress for Anneliese and she is obsessed with that dress- while she routinely changes her clothes 5-10 times a day, that dress usually is worn at least for one or two of those changes (if she can find it. I've been known to hide it, deep under dirty laundry, if it needs cleaning, because if it's at the top of the laundry basket, she'll just take it out), but I would like her to wear a "princess dress" that is more obviously her size, style, and provides a little more coverage than the skimpy dress she has.

When I found a bag of clothing near the dumpster the other day, I brought it in, since some of the clothes were great for me as is, and other clothes would be great for upcycling.