Thursday, 16 April 2015

It's all about the Snacks

Ok, so I've been doing this "auto-immune paleo diet" thing for almost 2 months now.  How's it going?  I really am not sure.  There is this huge list of foods to avoid, and frankly, I'm really bad at it.  For the first month, I totally ditched dairy, grains of any kind, nuts, "most" legumes, eggs, "most" high-glycemic fruits, all alcohol... and a few others.  Exactly 1 month after I started was my birthday, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to have something special on my birthday!  The cupcakes I made had only a handful of ingredients: eggs (like, 10 of them), chocolate, cocoa powder, and honey... And they were CRAZY good.  So eggs have been back "in" since then.  But I didn't notice a difference with or without them.  I am, however, mostly using duck eggs, as they are structurally different than chicken eggs... but that's a different post.  And I came to realize I was "cheating" without realizing it.  I honestly missed my lattes.  I did switch to chai lattes instead of coffee, but I was ordering them with soy milk instead of milk-milk.  DUH.  Soy = soy beans = legume.  Silly me.  But then, thankfully, I rediscovered a local roastery that has Almond milk Chai Lattes.  Saved!  And thank goodness for my bank account, they're not open on weekends.

I'll tell you, for the first while, all I could think about was what I couldn't have.  It gets you down, let me tell you.  My hubby is a fantastic cook and baker -- makes this amazing bread with fermented grains and yumminess.  I couldn't touch it.  Breakfast for the first month was a nightmare -- no eggs!  No toast or cereal or oatmeal or yoghurt or granola!  Geez! So I bought coconut yoghurt (not cheap stuff, lemme tell you!), which has added sugar... not so good on a "clean" diet.  I tried making it myself and failed miserably.  I ate a lot of applesauce that first month.  And I was ALWAYS hungry.  I even woke up in the middle of the night once and had. to. eat. meat.  I raided the fridge in the middle of the night.  I NEVER do that!  I've only got a handle on the frequency of eating recently.  I eat basically all the time.  I always have snacks going.  The best one?  Coconut chips by Blue Monkey.  Cheap and they satisfy the sweet/salty/crunchie cravings.  I love 'em.

Along with the eggs, I've tried a bit of dairy, but my shoulders seem to bother me afterwards.  So I've cut out the dairy (again).  I'm trying nuts this week.  I figured, might as well, as I'm drinking those delightful almond chai lattes a couple times a week.  Still staying away from all the grains though.  Which has me experimenting.  A recent issue of Taproot Magazine had a recipe for gluten-free sourdough starter.  I am trying it using coconut flour.  It actually seems to be working!  It smells yeasty now, and I've been working on it for about 10 days.  Which is longer than the recipe says, but I expected that with the coconut flour.  What spurred me on was my friend discovered this amazing coconut bread "Cocolithic" made with just Organic coconut flour, whole coconut, sea salt, and water.  No grains, yeast, oils or sugar.  I can't wait to try a bread with my starter!  Mainly because I can only get this bread in our town once/week and only if I line up at 9AM.  Crazy. And it's like $8 for what seems like 1/2 a regular loaf of bread.  But it's SO good!

My ankles are still a major issue, but I seem to be more focussed, not so foggy now.  I think.  I will continue on the AIP diet for now.  I've read that the longer a person's been dealing with an issue, the longer it takes to go away.  I can remember my feet bothering me for YEARS.  Not all the time like now, but definitely for about the past 5 years or so.  That's not going to go away overnight.  So I'll keep at it and will post my frustrations and successes as I go.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Long and the Short of It

Hmm.  It's been so long, I hardly know where to start.  My year last year was a bit of a doozy, health-wise.  The short story is that all my weird pains were finally diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis and the specialist of course wanted to put me on all kinds of major drugs right off the bat.  I have resisted that, going solely with diet changes.  I've slowly been eliminating different foods and lately stumbled on the book "Why Isn't My Brain Working" which basically says that most afflictions have to do with an unhealthy brain and here's what do to about it.

So my year last year was about good days and bad days (probably an even number of both), and working our family business and trying my damndest to keep up with our garden and the animals.  Let's say the animals are well, we added about 9 more laying hens, and I grew great pumpkins, which I'm still enjoying from the freezer.

2 weeks ago, I started on the path of the "Auto-Immune Paleo Diet" (insert groan here), and here I am, still figuring it all out.  Basically, I've totally cut out all grains, dairy, eggs, and all nuts/legumes, extremely limited sugar & coffee, and nightshade veggies.  It's quite the thing.  I'm hungry ALL the time, and I'm obsessed with my next meal or snack.  After 2 weeks, I'm kind of getting the hang of it, but if I'm not always eating, I'm hungry.  When I was first diagnosed last year, I started limiting a lot of bread-y things, and the weight just fell off.  Not that I was big before.  I'm 5'7", and have weighed 134 lbs for most of my adult life (with the exception of pregnancies).  I'm now 20 lbs lighter.  So I can't really afford to lose any more weight.  It's very weird, and I don't feel strong, which bugs me, being the independent kind of person that I am.

Am I feeling better?  I think so.  2 weeks is a little early to tell, but I feel like I need to document this somehow, to see any results.  I'm still really stiff in my ankles, which means I limp pretty much all the time, but it seems to be lessening.  What I am noticing is that I experience less ups and downs throughout the day... like a fog has lifted.  And I'm sleeping through the night.

That's about all I can say for now.  I'm taking it day by day.  Thanks for listening.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Sonkers!

I've made this a few times now, using what ever berries/fruit I happen to have on hand at the time.  It's kinda like a pie turned inside-out.  I am not skilled in the pastry department, so I avoid pies if I can... But this, thanks to an article by Ashley English that appears in her book, "A Year of Pies" and I believe in Taproot Magazine too.  (Adapted recipe after the photos)

This one was raspberries:

And dolloped (is that even a word?) with spelt dumplings...


... and served with ice cream!  Voila:

Recipe:
Filling:

  • 4 1/2 half-pints raspberries
  • 1/2 cup honey/agave/maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or spelt or combo)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or yoghurt)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a 10-inch skillet or a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.
Prepare the filling:
Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a medium-size bowl. Stir until the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the berries are well-coated. Cover bowl with a kitchen cloth and set aside for 15 minutes.
Prepare the biscuit topping:
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter cubes until the mixture is crumbly and the size of peas or smaller.
Create a well in the center of the mixture. Pour in the buttermilk, and using a large spoon, gently incorporate just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. The mixture will look quite wet at this point, but that’s fine.

Assemble the sonker:
Place the blackberry mixture in the prepared skillet.
Using a large spoon,dollop the surface of the raspberries with the biscuit topping, aiming for mounds of about 3 tablespoons of batter. You needn’t be terribly specific on the biscuit amounts; as long as the surface is dotted with reasonably similar biscuit mounds, you’re fine.
Pour the melted butter over the biscuit topping and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking an additional 30 minutes.
Cool at least 30 minutes.

Enjoy!  And, if you have leftovers, you can have it again for breakfast, with yoghurt on the side instead of the icecream.  

Monday, 7 July 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My garden? This year?  Not very well, I'm afraid.  I got a really late start for a couple of reasons... one was that our garden gate is one that has very large gaps in it.  Not large enough for sheep to bust through, but plenty big enough for the ducks and chickens.  So after waiting and waiting for said gate to be replaced, I got impatient and tacked a bunch of netting over the gaps.  A little unsightly, but effective.  

So my lettuces didn't get planted... or rather, they did, but the ducks ate it before I had the netting up and I didn't bother to replant.

Thank goodness for garlic that was in last fall:

and New Zealand spinach (not really a spinach) that reseeds itself:
(notice the peas in the background -- that was all the kids' doing, not mine)

So this year, I think I've resigned myself to things that don't need a lot of work, like pumpkins of various types and sizes...

... and raspberries & blackberries that are threatening to overtake a very large part of both the garden and the chicken yard...
Low maintenance, people, that's what I'm going for this year.  I don't have time for succession planting or lettuces that are going to bolt at the first hint of heat.  It's going to be a hot one, so definitely don't need THAT.  I'll concentrate on garlic, pumpkins, and berries me thinks.  Lots of jam and pumpkins to get us through the winter.  Sounds good to me!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Oregon Coast Cowl

So we travelled down the Oregon coast this past December, when the temperature hit record lows... We were in our RV and F R E E Z I N G ... which thus inspired me to whip up this little dream of a cowl.


Super easy pattern.  I wanted something reversible; repeatable but not totally boring.  Something I could wear with just about anything (also inspired by my limited travelling wardrobe). And soft as all get-out.  So I opted for a Royal Alpaca in grey.



**I used less than 1 skein for this project.  You can customize however you like.  Choose your yarn.  Choose your needles according to the yarn.  Knit for as long as you like it.  I kept going till it would wrap around my neck 3 times, not loose, but not too tight either.**

Cast on 32 sts.  (or any multiple of 8, depending on how wide you want it).
Row 1-4: Knit 4, Purl 4, repeat to end.
Row 5-8: Purl 4, Knit 4, repeat to end.
Rows 9 on:  Repeat rows 1-8.

When you are done, join ends in a simple stitch.  I twisted mine once before I joined the ends to have a flip in the cowl.  Also, make sure you end on a row 8 so when you join the end, the pattern flows.





Monday, 12 May 2014

Lambing? Check!

I guess I've been a bit remiss in updates about how the lambing all went this year. (Sorry 'bout that.)

Well... I'm happy to report 10 healthy lambs running around our little 2 acre piece these days.  (Whew!)  So yes, Stella and Sunshine birthed 2 healthy lambs without missing a beat, as suspected.  Dulcie did birth triplets again, and since we knew to keep an eye on her, we watched all 3 born, easily and quickly, and dear mama Dulcie took all three of the little rams and is nursing them all!  Wow.  She is my rock star.

Moo, on the other hand... she birthed twins again, the first born easily and the "right" way... #2 came out backwards, and with a great deal of effort by mama and quite a bit of help from me.  Poor thing.  I wonder if she's just not cut out for the whole thing.   She nurses and cares for them amazingly, but the whole birth thing?  I shudder to think what would happen if we weren't around to help her.


Moo and her lambs

And Smudge?  Gosh, we didn't even think she was pregnant, and she popped a single lamb out one evening while we were having dinner.  Poor thing had this bewildered look on her face like she had NO idea what was happening to her.  She took to mothering like a natural though, and a bossy mama too, always yelling for her little boy.  Good practise, I hear, for a young ewe like Smudge to only have the 1 lamb to deal with.
Sunshine's little ewe lamb
So here we are, several weeks later, and everyone doing very well.  A happy shepherdess over here :)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

... it is, in regards to sheep anyway.

Last Year, I had no idea what to expect.  And the first lambs came over night and surprised me in the morning, all cleaned up and perfect.  This Year, because of last year, I'm watching closely.  According to the day we got the ram, and how long a ewe's gestation is, first lambs could have started arriving on March 16.  Here we are on the 18th, and my poor sheep look like they could burst at any second: they are grunting a lot, their udders are HUGE and they seem so uncomfortable.

And last year, the ewes were all first timers, as was I, so we all learned stuff together.  Now, fortunately or unfortunately, I'm watching for certain things.  For example?  "Moo" birthed both her babies backwards.  Healthy and wonderful, but thank goodness I was around to give her a hand or it may not have ended so nicely.  So I'm watching her.  And her sister, Dulcie, birthed triplets, but after the first 2, she looked like she was done, so we let her be.  And unfortunately found #3 dead in the straw the next morning.  It could have been born dead for all I know.  But this year, I know she's fully capable of birthing more than 2, so I'm watching her too.  Stella and Sunshine both birthed beautifully on their own, so I'm not too worried about them.  And then there's Smudge - Stella's little white lamb from last year.  I think she might be preggers too, but I held her back from the ram a bit, to give her a chance to grow up a little more on this end of things, so I'm still not sure if she took.  We'll have to wait a bit to find out.

As there were no lambs in sight this evening, it'll be at least another day or 2 of watching...