Tangy Freezer BBQ Sauce

>> Friday, August 30, 2013

I'm nearly ready to go on my big shopping date for the Vegetarian Freezer Meals I'm planning for the entire month of September. In my planning, I realized that barbeque sauce would suit a variety of the dishes I'm included in our plan well. It works as a topping for veggie burgers and even as a sweet sauce for pizza. Really. It's going to be fabulous.

And guess what! We already had several pounds of farm fresh tomatoes around. So, I did some prepping early and opted to freeze this bunch rather than can them.


SWEET + TANGY FREEZABLE BBQ SAUCE
Makes 4 to 5 pints of the stuff for slathering

What you'll need . . . 
  • 1 to 2 small chopped onion
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10 to 12 cups chopped tomatoes (any size/variety)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika/chipotle seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes


Method . . .
  1. Chop all tomatoes and set aside. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, saute your onions/garlic until glassy. Then add the tomatoes and crank the heat a bit higher.
  2. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and spices. Bring to a boil and continually stir/mash until mixture thickens. About 20 minutes.
  3. Then lower the heat and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  4. And then blend in a food processor or blender. (We used our beloved Ninja Blender + I did this process in two batches.)
  5. Return mixture to pot and simmer over medium/low heat for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how you'd like the consistency. (The longer you cook, the thicker it gets.)
  6. Take stock of the flavor at this point and make any modifications accordingly. Add any sugar/spices/etc. at just 1 tablespoon at a time (or less, depending).
  7. Fill pint jars, leaving 3/4 inch of space for freezing. Bring jars down to room temperature and refrigerate overnight before placing in your freezer (covered well so no air can get in). Stays good for up to 1 year. (In the fridge, use in a week or so.)

So stay tuned for my menu guide for freezer month, along with recipes for this whole thing. Many of you said you've tried this method, but that a whole month is a bit intense (both on the cooking/cleaning end and because it means not much cooking for a long while). I'm already tending to agree -- and I haven't even started yet.

But, then again, maybe I'll fall in love with freezer meals. Time will tell!

Happy Friday!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Just Call Me Annie Oakley . . .

>> Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In the spirit of trying new/scary things + turning 30, I shot a gun for the first time last weekend. I'm not joining the NRA anytime soon, but I've always been curious about guns, since I'm -- for all intents and purposes -- staunchly anti-weapons whenever the debate ensues.
 
Weird, I know. I'm not telling this story to stir up anything. It's just about me, myself, and doing something that -- until this weekend -- I never thought I'd do.

Some back story. I'm originally from north-central Pennsylvania, deep in the forest. Prime hunting country. No one in my family hunts, though. My dad grew up a country boy and shot his fair share of targets with his father. He has some relics from that time, but only recently decided to take up shooting for sport. Basically, guns were always around . . . I could hear shots in the distance in my backyard when the flatlanders would descend on the town for hunting season. However, they weren't part of my reality.


So, fast forward to this weekend. My brother was up visiting from DC and my dad thought it'd be the perfect time to christen his rifle range membership. When we arrived, my mind immediately made sense of the place like some sort of bowling alley. There were lanes, so I guess that's the trigger for that comparison. The piercing sound of bullets nearby shook me from that image -- fast.

We slapped on protective glasses, inserted earplugs, and picked up a few paper targets.

My dad carefully pulled out his semi-automatic rifle, there's probably some more technical name for it -- I'm not sure -- and got to teaching. We first learned the rules of the range. How the gun couldn't point anywhere but toward the target and various other safety concerns/measures. Then we turned our attention to the gun itself. First and foremost -- where the safety was (which I became obsessed with), then how to load the clip, how to get the bullet ready for shooting, and aiming.

I don't know who I was expecting to see there shooting. I admit I came into the place with some preconceived notions. Instead: It was relatively empty, as it was a sunny Saturday afternoon. But there was another father there with his two well-behaved, respectful kids -- a boy and a girl. It was like looking into some time portal mirror. The girl was the older of the two, like me, and they were each probably a good 15 years younger than we are, respectively.

Anyway, the actual shooting part of our adventure went pretty fast.


We each planned to shoot three rounds of 5 bullets each. My dad started and I was incredibly impressed with his accuracy -- he got several bullseyes right away. Next it was my turn. I was nervous and remember asking several times about how much the gun would kick back. But my first pull of the trigger was honestly quite less frightening/mind-blowing/etc. than I thought it might be.

Instead, I grew better with each shot and even enjoyed myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm still terrified by the idea of bullets buzzing nearby. We won't be adding any weapons to our home arsenal anytime soon (of which there's an obligatory baseball bat and a strangely shaped pipe we found in the basement when we moved in.) My thoughts on gun violence have stayed the same. But demystifying how a gun works and learning that some people really do just enjoy it for sport in a controlled environment was eye-opening and, dare I say, empowering?

In my last try, I even got a bullseye!

I don't really know where this story fits in with my usual blog content. And yet it fits here just perfectly, I think. Have you done anything out of the ordinary lately? My good friend Meg recently went sky-diving and I still marvel at that fact every time I think of it.

Thanks for the experience, dad!

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

A Month of Vegetarian Freezer Dinners

>> Monday, August 26, 2013


I mentioned in Weekend Things that I'm in the process of getting together a month of freezer meals. Many of you seemed interested, so I thought I'd take you with me along the way as I figure the whole thing out. Planning the "big cook" (any Breaking Bad fans in the bunch?), as I'm calling it, has taken a bit of thinking.

I've seen all sorts of plans for freezer meals and promises that range from a cleaner kitchen to money saved on groceries. Thing is, a lot of these recipes aren't vegetarian or vegan. And if they are, they haven't necessarily been written by vegetarians. So, I've finally taken the time to wrap my head around how this seemingly magical solution -- a month of vegetarian freezer dinners -- could work for our family.

I'm hoping we'll . . .
  • Save money by buying our ingredients purposefully + using them -- without waste -- in various recipes.
  • Eliminate a load (quite literally) of dishes each night, saving us water money and time.
  • Free up time during the day that I can use for my freelancing projects and, more importantly, doing things with Ada.
  • Have more time together as a family during the work week with our meals decided + already made in the evenings.  
  • Improve the nutritional content of our meals by planning accordingly and boosting with lots of protein.
  • Create some delicious, satisfying recipes that will become new family favorites.
I'm focusing mostly on dinners Monday through Friday for the first month, as cooking oats for breakfast and slapping together a sandwich aren't terribly labor intensive. I also want freedom to cook on weekends because that's what I love doing. I'd miss it! I do think I'll make a gigantic batch of homemade freezer waffles. Who knows. I could get carried away, which would actually benefit me in this situation.

CHALLENGES / CONCERNS
  • We'll still be heading to the store/market at least every other week to get Ada's milk and other items (like fresh fruit and our CSA share)
  • Actually I am a bit concerned about how we'll be using our CSA share if I cook our meals ahead, since dinner is when we use the bulk of these ingredients.
  • However, I figure I can just can or freeze different items for the next month, too.
  • I am also worried somehow I'll spend more at the store. So, using my handy grocery app will be helpful in projecting the costs.
  • And will cooking everything in a single weekend be totally overwhelming? When I was pregnant, I made a gigantic batch of chili one weekend and it was a bit much.
I haven't made final decisions on recipes yet, but I'm thinking -- again, just for the first month -- of being relatively repetitive from week to week. Like Monday night is X night, Wednesdays are for X, etc. It sounds formulaic and perhaps boring, but it's what we're already doing while making from scratch every night. I'll be sharing this information next Monday, after I cook everything.

So, the "big cook" will be going down next weekend. Before then, I need to clean out our freezer, go through the ingredients we already have on hand to make stock, finalize the meal options, write out a master grocery list, and . . . go shopping.

If I sit and think about the possibility of having our week-night dinners made for an entire month, I get pretty giddy. Don't you? What would you most hope to gain from making dinners for an entire month?

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Weekend Things

>> Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm trying something new this fall. Well, it's not so much something new as it's something lots of people do and I'm just figuring how well it might work for our family. I'll write more soon, but I think I'm going to have a massive shopping trip for the MONTH and make freezer meals. Lots of 'em.

Do any of you do this? The trick for us will be making them varied enough that we don't get bored. Well, and also finding a good balance so I can still cook a few times a week. The kitchen is my happy place, after all! I'm excited to see how this method possibly saves us money, as well as critical cooking and cleaning time.


// Fresh Cut //
I've tried growing my hair "long" and I'm sick of it.
Thinking of this chop or perhaps a nice, solid bob.

// More Blueberries //
So, that farm where we picked blueberries has packed up for the season.
Still, I need to use 'em up. Making blueberry applesauce for sure.
Maybe canning, maybe not. Definitely freezing the rest.

// Dehydrateding //
It's also been a while since we pulled out our dehydrator.
I'm thinking some dried apples are in order at the very least.
But I'm most excited to try this method for drying mangoes.

// Grocery Cents //
I'm going to do a new grocery savings post soon.
One thing that has helped tremendously?
The Wegmans App on my iPhone! It calculates the price before we get to the store.

// Replacements //
While cleaning, it's come to my attention that our bath towels are in sore shape.
These glorious Turkish towels are now on my wish list.
I can't decide between the indigo + red + black -- thoughts?

// Steeped In //
Watching Paranormal Fact/Faked + Felicity on Netflix.
Also, we've been lucky enough to have a movie date each week.
I live for matinees! I almost typed manatees.

// This Time, Last Year(s) //

And here's what you may have missed this week on Writing Chapter Three:
  • Learning Words -- 5 ways we're fostering Ada's language development. Great reader question!
  • Blueberries + Life Outside -- Life in obscurity isn't as bad as you'd think. We're learning to love it.
  • Ada's Farm -- Toddler play around a theme can bring about all sorts of learning opportunities.
  • Deal Hound -- Why shopping thrift stores and yard sales is risky business. At least for me.
Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

More Than a 5K

>> Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Running early in the morning gives me this whole new world of introspective thinking. It's dark, quiet, lonely and basically the perfect atmosphere for contemplation. I never set out to ruminate on any specific topic. It happens organically. Or perhaps is a trick my mind plays to make my body forget how much it hates working before dawn.

My most recent 5K was a proud moment for me. It was the first race I ran as a 30-year-old. In a new age group. Somehow this fact felt very significant to me as I pounded out those 3.1 miles. Overwhelmingly so. I am older, yes, but with regard to running, there's nothing I'd associate with being old or aging.

I felt strong, solid, and fast.
I PRed for the first time in over 6 years.
I'd love to do it all over again because I know I can get faster.
But it goes so much deeper than times and age group awards.


If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have guaranteed you that I'd be slower after having a baby. I mean, it was just an inevitable fact of life. Priorities shift and focus changes and running was to keep me skinny mostly anyway. I've never been much of a competitor, but by the time I was 30, I'd just be happy if I was still keeping fit in some way.

Except that now, running is so much more than exercise to me. I don't know when it happened exactly. It's just who I am. I'm much more dimensional, but the runner part of "Ashley" is a huge chunk that gives me confidence, growth, self understanding, patience, happiness, belonging, and -- yes -- some crazy muscular legs.


When I was 11 or 12, I'd gawk at YM and Seventeen magazines, imagining how cool + pretty high school girls felt like the ones on those glossy pages. When I turned 17, I felt no more grown up, really, than I had the year or two before. Yeah, I'd kissed a boy and started wearing makeup. Those girls in the magazines still seemed older somehow, more worldly, more knowing than I could ever be.

Basically, throughout the years, I've kept waiting for something to happen to me. For my job to somehow take over my identity and make me feel like a real person. For the place where I live to make me feel important or smart or some other adjective besides dull + boring. For it -- my life -- to make sense in some instant of clarity. 

As some of you pointed out, it seems our 30s are the time for switching the game around. It's all about empowerment. Taking charge. A refusal to wait and see if I'll somehow feel different the next time I'm "supposed" to, at the next big milestone. The 30s are about finding the meaning of life from within.

I'm done waiting. I'm already who I am meant to be and -- if I think hard -- who I want to be. Everything else is up to the work I put in it. The drive and passion and dedication I give to myself and those around me. Crossing the finish line with a new time to boast about is one thing. But carrying that feeling, that tenacity throughout everything I do is another.

That's why I run.

PS: If you'd like a more play-by-play 5K report, check out my recap on Walk, Jog, Run. It was the first time I raced with my GPS watch!

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Blueberry Jam, Canned

>> Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In case you didn't already read -- we went blueberry picking this weekend! It was sort of a spur-of-the-moment decision because we were up early and looking for ways to take the cranky out of a toddler. The fresh air did the trick. We had so much fun, in fact, that we returned home with 14 cups of blueberries.

Far more than I needed to embark on my first canning adventure.


Since I'm no expert, I'm not offering a recipe today. I followed the "Classic Blueberry Jam" recipe + hot water method instructions in one of our favorite books: Put 'Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook. I can't recommend this book enough. I've seen a few similar titles I'd like to check out, too, so I'll be sure to round out reviewing other modern books on preservation sometime soon.

Anyway, taking the leaves an stems out and cleaning the fruit was tedious. Probably my least favorite part. I enlisted Stephen to finish the rest of the cups of blueberries beyond the eight I needed. I wish there was some sort of magic de-stemming machine. Wouldn't that be grand?


Here's where I made my first mistake. I immediately jumped in and made my jam recipe. It didn't take much more than heating the blueberries, some sugar, and lemon juice on the stove and bringing it to a gel state. The issue? It says several times in the book to get the water in the canning pot going first because it will take a while to bring to a boil.

Oops!


I don't know how I missed these instructions because -- I must have read the canning stuff point by point probably 50 times. It ended up be OK, I just reheated the jam a few times until the canning pot was finally boiling. I never knew that you had to fill the entire pot with glass jars, but it became very apparent to me when I would move one and the rest would float + topple!

While I waited, I laid out all my tools in the exact order the author instructs. I've always been horribly intimidated by the process, so I didn't want any surprises. Since we're short on counter space, I used a TV tray (not pictured) to place down the pot lid, a couple towels, and a pot holder when I wasn't using them.


Here's what I used:

I don't have photos from the process because I was furiously trying to do everything the "right" way. In the end, I did lose one jar of jam because it tipped over when I was taking it out of the pot. But shortly after taking out these three others, I hear that glorious "POP!" sound of them sealing shut.

This is all a long way of saying if you've been meaning to learn how to can (and many of you have told me you want to), just do it! I was scared or intimidated for years and it really wasn't all that terrible!

What should I can next?!

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

10-Minute Heirloom Tomato Sauce

>> Monday, August 19, 2013

A goal I have for this blog is to simplify the foods I feature and to keep it real with regard to what we eat on a day-to-day basis. So, over the coming weeks, I'll highlight a few previously overlooked staples we have in our kitchen. Things that aren't really exciting or masterpieces on their own, but recipes that bring a lot of flavor and vibrancy to the meals we eat.

Which brings us to this delightfully simple tomato sauce, great for use on pasta or pizza or even for dipping. You don't need to use heirlooms, they're just particularly delicious and gigantic. And tomatoes can be switched out with tomatillos, too. I make sauce with whatever we get in our CSA basket.


10-Minute HEIRLOOM TOMATO SAUCE

What you'll need . . .
  • 2 very large tomatoes  (or approx 1-1/2 cups) chopped
  • Minced onion + garlic*
  • Dried or fresh herbs of choice
  • Salt + pepper
  • Red pepper flake
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 
  • olive oil
* You can certainly use fresh, but I keep a secret stash of dehydrated onions and garlic by Earth's Pride on hand for quick recipes like these.


Method . . . 
  1. Heat a tablespoon or more of olive oil over medium-high heat, toss all ingredients into the pan, starting with the tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
  2. The salt is important in this recipe for drawing out the moisture from the tomatoes. So, be sure to add that straight away.
  3. Add the spices slowly, though -- remember, you can always add more, but not take away. It's all to your taste, too. Feel free to omit red pepper flakes if you don't like heat or maple syrup if you don't like sweetness. Others to consider adding include oregano, thyme, basil, and even sage can be nice!
  4. Cook + stir continuously and  as moisture is released from the tomatoes, squish them down with the back of your spatula or spoon to your desired chunky consistency. 
  5. Sauce is ready after 10 minutes or less, depending on the use. For pizza, just make sure that it is thick and not watery. 
  6. For a less rustic sauce, run through your food processor until smooth. And feel free to double, triple, etc. this recipe for more sauce!

To make this pizza, flatten dough and bake at 450 for 2 to 3 minutes. Then assemble with the sauce and cheeses and bake for another 12 to 14 minutes. Until cheese is golden brown + bubbly.
  • Use half the yield of the Pumpkin Pizza Dough (we made ours with squash puree)
  • Use the sauce you just made
  • Mozzarella cheese + crumbled honey goat cheese
  • Fresh basil
If you don't have fresh tomatoes on hand, try this Boozy + Bold Sauce made with packaged tomatoes. And if you have a bit more time, try out this Grilled Kalamata Sauce, maybe with Pesto Pizza Dough

Monday is as great a night as any for pizza, don't you think?

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Weekend Things

>> Friday, August 16, 2013

I ran the Women's Distance Festival 5K last night and PRed by 12 seconds (22:18) -- and it's the fastest I've completed the distance since 2007! Honestly, I didn't know I had it in me. I also haven't been engaged in any speedwork since May, so I'm hoping with some work I could break into 21 territory this year.

I'll post more about this race next week. Do you have a big race this weekend?


// Improve Your 5K //
A while back, I collected some great info + links on 5K training.
If you're a mom, you can even train with your stroller -- in 6 weeks!

// Smart Stuff //
Garage sale tips (we REALLY need to get on this)
SEO Basics for bloggers (been meaning to learn more, forever)
Chicken coop w/ a garden room (someday!)

// Tools of the Trade //
I'm already in fall cooking mode! Kitchen essentials:
Compost Pail (for all those CSA scraps) + Stone Baking Sheet (for all those chocolate chippers)

// Drool-Worthy //
Along those lines: Grilled Peach Salad
And for my BFF Lindsey -- Herb Parmedan Stuffed Brussels Sprouts

// Child's Play //
Check out these gigantically big books for little readers.
These adorably preppy clothes make me wish I had a boy!
New prints for sale at Baby Legs -- I want the fox ones (for myself!) 

// Regarding Caffeine //
Thanks for all of your thoughts about the "right" morning beverage.
Ultimately, I'm holding off on brew for now and
sipping this pineapple green tea instead. We'll see!

// In the News . . . //
America's Obesity Challenge via The New Yorker

// This Time, Last Year(s) //


And here's what you may have missed this week on Writing Chapter Three:
  • Learning Words -- 5 ways we're fostering Ada's language development. Great reader question!
  • A Good Day -- I've found what truly brings me to my center. It was pretty easy -- what will work for you?
  • Why Mess Matters to Me -- It goes way beyond wanting things to be tidy. Mess is indicative of many other things.
Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Try It: Replace Conventional Flour w/ Sprouted

>> Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I've gone on enough no-sugar and/or detox kicks by now. I know myself. I cannot resolve to cut sugar out of my diet for the rest of my life. I don't want to either. (And I'm amazed at those of you who have the strength to abstain.)  I like love dessert. It's fun + relaxing to mix and bake . . . and, undeniably, dessert tastes good.

What I've finally accepted is that dessert cannot and should not replace meals, particularly breakfast. That's a part of maturing my eating habits that I understand. Knowing is half the battle. So, I've been experimenting with substitutions and alternatives.

And not at the flavor's expense.


// A BRIEF HISTORY

These are my favorite vegan chocolate chip cookies. I then modified the recipe back in 2012 by subbing in some pulsed oats to lighten the flour. Then again, I came up with a half dozen quick recipe + a gluten free version for a similar cookie, just less of it. (Remember all my half dozen recipes? I need to do more of them!)

And now I've changed them again. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite dessert by far. I'll continue to make variation after variation, too. I'm that passionate and dedicated!


This time, I took the original recipe and . . .

  • I replaced the sugars with coconut sugar (specifically this kind, which is lower glycemic, less processed, more nutrient dense)
  • I switched the egg replacer + water with a flax egg (added omegas + what IS egg replacer?)
  • I changed up the flour by using all sprouted flour (specifically this kind, which digests "like a vegetable" and isn't processed/refined + has all sorts of vitamins, enzymes, and minerals) 
  • I also swapped the pecans for crushed walnuts because that's all we had in the pantry.

So, for any of my friends or family wondering what I did with my birthday money this year -- I bought these alternative baking supplies. We don't have money in the budget to always afford such interesting and exotic luxuries. These cookies are, in fact, literally a treat . . . on many levels.

As far as taste and texture, they are similar to the original recipe, just a bit chewier. It was my first time using sprouted flour, but I can surely tell a difference from a digestive perspective. And perhaps because I was using special ingredients, I was much more careful to conserve these cookies and resist eating them all in a week a day.

Have you baked with sprouted flour?

I'm itching to try something else. Perhaps a pie crust! I have all these frozen plums and I think pie might be just the thing. Baking is truly an emotional release for me. It's also given me time to think these last few weeks -- and I think I've been on a roll so I should keep it going!

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Red Curry Kimchi

>> Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Every year I say I'm going to learn more about preserving foods. Then the peak season comes and goes, some of our produce ultimately spoils, and -- in the end -- I've only frozen a couple things and made a few rockin' batches of homemade applesauce. Not this year. I'm trying to be more intentional in everything I do, food included.

Our garden is bursting with pak choy of all things. For me, it falls flat in stir-fries. So, we decided to do something fun and, at least for us, educational. Just as with Stephen's annual pickles, this recipe came (in part) from Put 'Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook.

For the rest, I sampled some methods from an article I found on The Kitchn. Oh, and since we were missing most everything for the spice paste, I reached deep into the refrigerator to grab a heaping tablespoon of leftover red curry paste. Some garden-grown chives to replace scallions, too. We still have several more days till it's "done" and ready for consumption, but already this red curry kimchi smells incredible.


Reading and learning more about preserving foods and all the different methods for doing so has unlocked this whole new appreciation for cooking in me. I think bloggers can get bogged down by the frantic day-to-day need to create the hottest, most pinnable recipe. We forget to continue our culinary education (for which I'm homeschooled, right?).

I can't get over how gorgeous this batch looks in jars. I guess it will last three weeks in the refrigerator. If it lasts that long at all. I've been known to polish off a jar of kimchi in one sitting.


I'm feeling good with all this motivation coursing through my veins. And with this recipe, I'm working toward one of my goals with food. Cook more, appreciate food for its flavor and not so much impact on my weight. Use seasonal ingredients in new ways. Learn new techniques. (Which reminds me that I want to get going on a new + improved starter for fall's sourdough adventures!)

I also uncovered another book I'd like to pick up on this subject while researching an article I'm writing for Wise Bread. It's Kevin West's Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving. It's a cookbook, but I guess West weaves in a great deal of storytelling (personal essays, etc.). I like thinking of the intentional preservation of food as a way of life and not just for the joy of my stomach.

Today on Writing Chapter Three, I wrote about another one of my goals: To get a handle on the mess in my house (and -- let's be honest -- inside my head). Everywhere I look, I'm seeing how the little things I do -- every 2 minutes of my time, in fact -- can have a huge impact on my everyday life.

It's been good slowing down and paying attention, however long it took me to get to this place.

What new cooking methods have you tried lately? What else do you want to learn?

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Beauty and the Bees

>> Monday, August 12, 2013

It's presumptuous to call myself the beauty in this situation. Anyway, I felt it was a story worth sharing. Getting up early is going OK. I don't love running in the AM and my body is protesting in various ways, but I'm getting my workouts in the books and finding the extra time in the evenings to be a huge relief.

We were traveling this weekend, so I decided to shift my long run to this morning, giving myself a blissful afternoon to . . . clean the house. I had planned to do between 10 and 12 miles, so when my alarm went off at 6AM, I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and changed into the outfit I set out the night before. I downed a breakfast bar, a glass of water, and was out the door by 6:10.

Success!

Three miles in, I made a quick and rather embarrassing emergency stop at the hospital to use the bathroom. (It's the only "public" restroom in my neighborhood.) But that's another story entirely. I was going to run three 4 mile loops, stopping in-between them to gulp a bit of water I left outside our house. I ducked past security guards and headed up the road another mile where I had two choices as far as routes were concerned.

I took the second option and almost immediately after turning onto that street, I felt a frantic buzzing at the base of my pony tail. Before I could even figure out what was happening (because I was still, for all intents and purposes, sleeping) STING. A sharp . . . oh-my-god-ouch BEE STING with the furious insect still caught and trying to escape my tangled tresses.

I plucked the bee out (he felt fuzzy! a chill ran down my spine) while jumping up and down . . . side to side. I may have gone into a fetal position at one point, crying feebly in consternation. If you know me and my history with bees, you might understand why this seemingly silly situation is so d.r.a.m.a.t.i.c. Before today, I had only been stung once in my life -- and that was three years ago.

How did I evade the rite of passage for so long? I run. Far, far away. To me, bees are probably one of the most terrifying forces in our universe. They out-match me in many ways with their tiny size, ability to fly, and keen stinging super power. How am I to fight back? So, I run. And until today, I guess I thought bees couldn't sting me if I was running.

I sprinted the quarter mile home, my neck throbbing and could swear I felt a stinger still inside the point of attack. Stephen says nothing was there, but -- whatever -- I started crying. This is where even I was beginning to feel ridiculous. I am 30 years old and sobbing about a bee sting. In my defense, I was seriously out of it. Oh, and on the topic of caffeine: A bee sting is a much more natural and effective way to wake for the day than any cup of coffee could ever be.

I collected myself and decided to set out again and complete just 8 miles total. The bare minimum I needed to finish to keep up with my training plan. The entire way, I avoided flower beds and low tree branches. I went (way) around any flighted, buzzing insects, even the tamest of flies. Bumble bees went about their business and my knees would turn to jelly at the sight of them.

With the run completed, I felt strong. So, for my cooldown, I returned to the scene to meet my maimed attacker. He was gone. All that remains is this nagging, dull ache in my neck and, well, now this melodramatic account.

Honey bees can only strike once, right?

If you'd like to read some practical advice on running, check out my articles for WalkJogRun:

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Weekend Things

>> Saturday, August 10, 2013

This week has been rough for a silly reason. I drank so many of my calories while on vacation -- smoothies, juices, sodas, kombuchas, beers, and canned champagnes -- and it's been an adjustment to just water again. Well, and now I'm thinking of starting a small coffee habit since I want to start waking up early. Should I resist? I've never been much for caffeine. But I'm wondering if it might help kick-start my days.

Coffee-drinkers and abstainers: Please weigh in on the pros and cons!


// Watch This Now //
So, we finished the entire season of Orange is the New Black in one week.
Also been keeping up with Master Chef (Bri: Love that you're veg. PULL YOUR HAIR BACK!)
Now what?

// I'm Reading //
On deck: The Four Agreements and
This I Believe -- yup, from the NPR program
Also, Homesteading 101 on Mother Earth News

// Good Eats //
Katerina's Rustic Egg Salad

// Self-Care Startup //
I've never been into manicures, skin care routines, lotions, etc.
But I'm going to start dry brushing -- I bought this body brush last night.
I'll report back. Here's more about the idea behind it + a brief how-to.

// Can - Can //
This year, I really want to learn to can all those CSA goodies.
I love these heritage collection Ball Jars with a vintage feel.
But beyond pretty things, I need to pick up a basic canning kit.

// Want //
To influence Ada's music icons with these classic band t-shirts.
Desert Essence tea tree oil collection for my acne-prone skin.
Brooks reversible racerback tank -- it's mesh! So cool.

// Smart Stuff //
8 clever ways to organize your recycling -- way overdue in this house!
Composting 101 -- we compost, but I could certainly learn more.
A lattice-topped Blueberry + Peach Pie how-to. Def. feel like baking pie now.


And here's what you may have missed this week on Writing Chapter Three:

  • Early to Rise -- the conclusion I (hesitantly) came to about waking up early + why I need to start NOW.
  • Caught In-Between -- being a work-at-home mom has its own challenges and worries. Here are some of mine.
  • (Beach) Babies Everywhere -- have you ever taken a look around and seen scrunched up newborns everywhere? Yeah.
  • Safer Blogging -- blogging, especially mommy blogging, can leave writers vulnerable. Here's some tips for how I protect myself and my family.

Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Stephen's Annual Pickles

>> Thursday, August 8, 2013

I've written a lot this week. So, today's a bit less wordy and brought to you by . . . Stephen. He's made his annual batch of pickles! I was just there to document the process. These guys will sit -- covered -- on our counter for about two weeks until we can enjoy them.


As with the last time Stephen made pickles, he followed the recipe -- step by step -- that appears in one of our favorite books: Put 'Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook. It describes methods from freezing to drying, canning to, well, pickling. I'm scrambling to re-read more as our CSA kicks into high gear before fall.

And here's more about the nutritional benefits of cucumbers for runners, along with some of our favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

PS: Tomorrow I'll be bringing back my favorite series: Weekend Things!

What's your favorite way to preserve food?

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Diet Thoughts + Basil Hummus

>> Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The process of eating well can be transformative. After all, we're continually told "you are what you eat." But what they don't tell you? It isn't the sole catalyst for lasting change. In the past, I thought modifying my diet would change my life. That eating clean meant not only a clean body, but also a happy mind and satisfied soul.

As I have found out through much trial + error, that's only half true . . . at best.


Still, I think a lot of us use our diets as our adult report cards. There aren't too many other ways to grade how our lives are going, how we're dealing with physical and emotional contentment or, in turn, turmoil. Diets are (somewhat) easy to change, track, and control, too. They allow us focus on something external -- food + drink -- to lay blame outside our inner selves. To celebrate successes or, ultimately, punish failures.

Unless there's a large amount of weight to lose or some other quantifiable, measurable goal, the changes a diet provides can range from significant to imperceptible. And that's where the focus on food fails to deliver. Even if we "eat like adults," we can remain in a funk. Unfulfilled in so many ways.

What's even more perplexing is how we can be privy to all of what I just wrote and still choose to harp on diet every time our lives get out of control or we desire big change. I'm writing to myself here, can you tell? Understandably, it's a kick-start. After, that's when the "lifestyle" component factors in, which I'll get into another time. What the term encompasses, though, we typically interpret to mean exercise only. There are still multiple pieces of the pie missing.

Enough food for thought.
Now time for some actual food.


BASIL HUMMUS

What you'll need . . .

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
//  Place all ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth. Add more/less water depending on how you like the texture of your hummus to be. Then use as a dip or spread. I topped toast with it and added slices of heirloom tomatoes that looked quite a bit like lox, no?


Slice!


Have you been frustrated when a diet hasn't provided the change you needed?
Or perhaps quite the opposite?

Still, I believe taking the time to cook gives the mind more room to think. A critical slowing down that we're often taught to overlook (I skipped enough lunches while working my desk jobs, for example). And keeping recipes simple and full of nutrient-dense whole foods can help lead us in the right direction, wherever that may be.

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...

Doing Enough

>> Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For my 30th birthday, my dad presented me with a rather unexpected "gift" that had been in the works almost my entire life. He handed me an envelope containing all my report cards and standardized test scores since I started kindergarten. Sounds a little odd, but I assure you -- it's absolutely incredible to look at notes about my class participation and see written comments about my 9-year-old "chatterbox" self.

Thanks, dad.


I made my way through the years until I got to high school, where I was completely shocked to see a GPA of 2.73 my second semester of 9th grade. We all have things we brag about from time to time, and for me -- it's been my grades. In my junior and senior years of high school, I got high marks in lots of honors and AP classes. I worked even harder in college and graduated magna cum laude with a near double-major, two on-campus jobs, and a host of extracurricular activities.

Convenient how I forgot this one semester and -- really -- entire year of mediocre scores in most of my classes (hello, straight Cs in Spanish -- not my forte!). But then it all started to make sense. My freshman year of high school was my first real period of finding myself + honing my interests on my own terms. Wow, was I overloaded! Classes, music and theater stuff, attempts at sports, boyfriends, and much more.

I have this tendency to pile high the to-dos, goals, activities, obligations, and expectations . . . and, looking back, it all kicked into high gear in 9th grade. Surprise, surprise.

So, I think it's common to want to do more and accomplish more. Over time, we develop keen coping mechanisms and a better capacity for "work" so we can keep the rest of our lives running while we go after the big stuff. But there's definitely a breaking point. When I need to start thinking about what I expect from myself and from life.

I wrote all sorts of stuff related to this topic, but it ended up being mostly for me, not for you all.

In brief: I've spread myself thinner and thinner with each passing year and developed quite a tolerance. But I've reached my own breaking point. I think it's just wanting too much and not knowing why or what will ultimately fill my cup. What will make me feel full at the end of the day.

+  +  +  +  +

With all of these revelations in mind, I'm trying my best with the bigger picture goals I posted to stay focused and simple in my approach. For example, keeping up with my training goals is important and I embarked on the first workout for my fall half marathon plan yesterday.

The entire time I was running, my mind ran, too.
Through all the other fitness goals I have for myself.
And there are plenty.

"Well, I should probably do some cross-training when I'm done since I skipped yesterday's long run for travel. Maybe go to the pool and yoga tomorrow on my 'off' day. Perhaps I'll have time to sneak in some good sets of push-ups or skip to the gym to do kettlebells. Maybe I should check out that cycling class on Thursday. Maybe I should up my weekly mileage to 40 to meet my (lofty) time goal."


Eventually I returned home after 4 miles and said -- out loud, actually -- "SHUT UP. You are doing enough! You're doing great." It felt sort of amazing to assert myself in this way. To stand up to that bully always poking from the inside for not being good enough, fast enough, fit enough, smart enough, creative enough, etc.

Obviously this lesson applies to far more areas than just running or fitness. I've been feeling much more centered, at least in my heart, about myself and my life. Who I am. What's really important. My head is still catching up, it seems. As with all mind shifts, it will take time.

Thing is, I don't have grades to act as a barometer anymore. Of course I'll want to expand my horizons and improve. Work hard and go beyond my comfort zone. But not at the expense of the greater good. Not everything all at once. Today. Yesterday.

I am doing enough. I really am. And that's my new mantra.

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

Read more...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About This Blog

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

© 2009-2014 by the (never home)makers
All content on this blog is copyrighted.

Want to publish our pics, tips, or tricks?
Contact us! [neverhomemaker@gmail.com]

We value transparency. Links on this page may contain affiliates. In addition, please see our disclosure policy regarding sponsored posts.

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP  

Blogging tips