Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bird Seed Bars

Apparently good foods are popular! Recently I was at a family gathering, and there was an island filled with mediocre store muffins, dunkin donuts, and an apple pie that was so beautiful no one had the heart to cut into yet. More family arrived and sprouts appeared on that island. Someone joked "Oh who is going to eat sprouts", as about 3 sets hands dove in for some! A few days later I brought these bars over, and didn't think much of it, but later I found out they were discovered and devoured pretty quickly. So, I really love know the kind, loads of beautiful pictures, by authors that bloggers love, with lots of exotic ingredients. A couple of years ago this book came out. I've been in love ever since. Every single recipe is incredible, and I've made most of them. (I highly recommend this small investment.) There are also lots of easy everyday recipes in here. So, I've made these treat bars a couple of times, and they have puffed amaranth and a handful of super good for you seeds. They disappear quickly, and they are great for on the go, to take to work, or to put in for a backpack snack, and for hiking! I actually don't make them for myself much. Bad things happen when I make them for my home, meaning I eat all of them.  Which is bad because sugar (in any form, yes, even brown rice syrup) is not a friend, but sometimes I am terrible student (hello bar of belgian chocolate in my refrigerator!). But these are so great to give away! Or to make for hikes in the summertime. On the go nourishment. 

Equipment: One 8-inch square baking dish, or 5 x 8 dish, which will give you less

Makes eighteen 2 × 1-inch bars
  • olive oil for pan
  • 1¼ cup puffed amaranth (you'll need 1/4 cup dry)
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup toasted unhulled black (or white) sesame seeds 
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup Brown rice syrup, (or yakon syrup)
  • ½ cup toasted almond butter, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon, more if you like
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (or toasted walnut halves, chopped)
  • ½ cup dried goji berries (or mulberries)
1. Lightly brush pan with olive oil, or if using a metal cake pan, line with oiled parchment paper. 

 2. Pop the amaranth! The trickiest step! Over medium/high hear warm a heavy bottomed pan for approximately 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon amaranth and cover. Count to 5 and start shaking the pan around (just like making popcorn from scratch!) until most of the grains are popped. Quickly transfer to bowl then repeat 1 tablespoon at a time. Once cool, store any extra in an air tight container for up to two weeks (no longer trust me on this one). 
*notes this is pretty tricky, and you may end up with some burnt amaranth. If it's not too terrible you can still use it, but be careful. it takes some practice.

3. Put amaranth, coconut, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds in a medium-size bowl, and toss to combine. Add brown rice syrup and almond butter to a small pot over medium heat; stir well to work out any lumps. Continue stirring until mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and lemon zest. Working quickly, pour into amaranth mixture and stir until evenly combined. Add almonds and goji's, and mix again. Using moist hands, press dough into baking dish until completely even and flat. Place in the fridge to cool for at least 1½ hours or in the freezer for 45 minutes.

4. Cut into 18 bars. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, bars will keep for up to two weeks, although they are best eaten within a few days.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo and Cilantro Sauce!

It's Cinco de Mayo, and I mean no disrespect, but I have no idea what that means. But I do know it's a Mexican holiday that is  celebrated in my hometown in California's central valley. And I do love any excuse to make Mexican food. Ahhh this sauce. This stuff is sooo good. Seriously. I originally came across it in this recipe,
But have altered it over the years. I think I must have tried the original recipe first and then realized this stuff would be good on anything! Especially tacos. Any kind of tacos. Or beans. Or rice. Or anything. Really just try it. Then I you dare to try to stop. 

Cilantro Sauce
1 and a half bunch's of cilantro/ stems removed
2 large garlic cloves, or 3 smaller cloves/ minced
2 good size shallots/ chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno or 1 Serrano Chile/diced (more if you like it hotter, this seems to be kid friendly spiciness depending on the heat of your pepper)
a good size pinch of large grain Celtic sea salt (less if using regular salt)
scant 2/3 cup of good quality Extra virgin olive oil 

Simply place all ingredients in the food processor, and pulse a few times until you a achieve a consistency you like. I like it with a bit of texture still left. Taste, and adjust the ingredients to your liking. You may want to add a bit more oil, or salt, or a bit of sugar ( I don't think it needs it), or maybe even a drop of tamari or soy sauce. 

Green clean!

It's finally spring! Well, days here are still a bit on the chilly side, but we're getting there. I can even see the chives and violets starting to grow! So spring cleaning begins. I had been thinking about posting about greener cleaning, and then low and behold Gwyneth Paltrow beat me to it? Even so, I was glad to see this article.
 I also picked up a copy of the April issue of Martha Stewart Living, which has an in depth article on how to clean your home. It specifically covers each part of a room for windows, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. I was surprised that they advised almost entirely all natural ways to clean with most being white vinegar and warm water. White vinegar, and/or baking soda will clean most anything. If you can't stand the smell of vinegar, or even just like yummy smelling products this article gives you the lowdown on it. I am normally very sensitive to the vinegar smell, but I don't mind it so much (just make sure the space has plenty of ventilation). An open window keeps the house from smelling too much like a jar of pickles, or bag of salt and vinegar chips. Or skip the article, and go to 
and see which products were given good grades. 
To simplify my home, cleaning routine, and to avoid toxins I will only be using baking soda, vinegar, and Dr. Bronners. Dr. Bronners is an amazing all natural soap that has been around for ages! I found this handy article on dilution ratios.
Enlist a small helper, and take advantage of this teaching opportunity. A cleaner earth, and responsibility!
And speaking of natural products your beauty regimen may need an overhaul to. I have a couple of natural beauty items for sale at my etsy store.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Homemade Nut Milk

We had an unbelievably warm weekend. August like weather to usher in June. There was lake swimming, grilling (black bean burgers!), and basking(not baking) in the sun. I hadn't been feeling much like cooking lately, but this weekend I felt like it again and made all kinds of things while simultaneously cleaning out the fridge. Cabbage salad, black bean and barley burgers, chocolate pudding pie, an amazing vegan Caesar salad, biscuits, and twice one of our staples, homemade almond milk. In our house we drink a lot of nut milk. We use it in cereal, all kinds of baked goods, in coffee and tea, in smoothies. Before i started making it i would buy soy milk by the case. But then i started questioning soy and what's in all boxed milk. Then I saw this post. And viola. Now i almost always make my own. Do not be fooled it is not a time consuming endeavor. Less than a minute to soak your nuts the night before. And a few minutes in the morning to blend it.  Then you have beautiful nut milk. My favorite so far is simple almond milk. This will only last in the refrigerator for a few days, so i typically only make one quart at a time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The incredible edible....violet?

Yes! Spring has sprung, and so have the birds, flowers, herbs, and all things green and life giving. One of the things i have enjoyed about moving to the middle of nowhere and becoming a mother is gardening. It's something i wasn't able to explore living in big citites (not enough room, not enough time). I truly love it, planting a seed and watching it grow seems almost mundane and miraculous all at once. My true love in the garden are the flowers and herbs. Herbs have such a vast variety of uses, healing properties, and flowers add such beauty to the garden, and the places in the house they grace. Amazingly some of those beauties are indeed edible, and some have special healing properties to boot. Among edible flowers are the violet, nasturtium, roses, johnny jump ups (another type of violet), chamomile, among many many others. There are violets that have been growing on the side of my mother in law's house, and also wild in the fields and grasses here. If you wish to grow violets be sure you are buying the real deal, as the large blossomed cultivars have no medicinal properties. And if you find them be absolutely sure of what you are picking. Violets are said to be good coughs, asthma, bronchitis, eczema, colds, sore through, and has also been said to have been used as cancer treatment! The flowers, leaves, and roots can be used. For now i have only tried things with the flowers themselves. They can be used in salads, dried for tea, used in vinegar, put into ice cubes, and sugared for a dessert garnish. 

Or you can even make your own floral water! Find a great tutorial here.

A great page with instructions on how to make herbal vinegars is 

Try a simple salad with mixed baby greens, your freshly picked violets, some fresh herbs, and this amazing vinaigrette. 

If you want to crystallize them do this!

This would be so pretty on a simple cake!

For ice cubes simply add a couple to each compartment in the tray and freeze. Then add to lemon water, iced tea, or a fancy cocktail. 

To dry for tea simply place in a paper bag and poke holes in it so air can circulate. When completely dry you can use alone for tea or mix with other herbal teas. I like to mix 

1 c. dried nettles
1c. dried raspberry leaves
1/2 c. dried chamomile 
1/4 to 1/2 c. dried violet leaves

flowers drying for tea

violets growing on the ground

Lyric sat down in a patch of violets and ate them

collecting violets

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Maple roasted cashews

as anyone who knows me knows i have a bit of a sweet tooth, but i've also come to a place where i know nutrition is more important than eating a box of junior mints. and i have a little one now, and they watch everything we do. so i've traded in the bad stuff for foods that taste even better, and make your body feel and work better too. cashews are great for you food too, they're loaded with good fats, magnesium, and copper!
this a snack that is seriously delicious, and simple to make. these are also great for taking on the go, and to give as a gift. 
for these use real maple syrup, preferably from maine!

maple roasted cashews

2 c. raw cashews or cashew pieces
3 T. real maple syrup
scant 1/4 t. fine grain sea salt

preheat oven to 350 degrees
line a baking sheet with parchement paper
mix all ingredients in a bowl until the cashews are well coated
spread on baking sheet
bake for about 20 minutes keeping a close eye on the color, you want them to be a rich golden brown
let cool on baking sheets, and store in an airtight container

i have no idea how long they last, as mine are usually gone in a couple of days!


all done