My life - from the impact of great loss, to a refreshing new take on life and a place where I now share ............... my favorite Plant Strong recipes....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Parade of Recipes!

Hey Guys!

So I'm heading out the door in a few minutes, but couldn't resist posting this link to some great recipes.  It's from a blog I follow regularly - Heavenly Homemakers (you can always find the link down on the right of this page).

Several people have all linked together to share some of their favorite recipes, so if you have a blog with recipes, feel free to do the same ( A-hem - Bev - cough cough).  It's a fabulous resource for some great real food foods!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Can you guess who the star was in tonight's dinner?  Nope, not the pork that cooked all day in the crockpot, then baked in the oven to 'goo-ify' the bbq sauce.  No... not the applesauce (yes Kristin, Granny's recipe ;o).   That's right, it was the brown rice!

That just doesn't sound right, now does it?  But it's true.  When preparing the meal, I didn't know what to make to go along with the pork and apples.  Plain brown rice just didn't have much appeal.  I love brown rice, but normally I make it with curry, or jalapeno mango sausage, or with stir fried vegies.  But tonight, I just wasn't prepared.  I grew up eating similar meals to this, but with processed applesauce, and even worse, processed rice mixes.  Farmhouse Herb & Butter was the family favorite for many years.  It wasn't until I was married and cooking that they stopped making it (or at least I couldn't find it in the stores) so we switched to a cheddar broccoli mix.  Jeff loved it, and I loved the convenience of simply throwing it in the microwave. 

But those mixes are history for us now as many of you know I don't tolerate all the chemicals so well these days. We've moved on to the much healthier option of brown rice.  But sometimes brown rice just seems bland.

That's why I was so excited tonight at how well this meal turned out.  Earlier in the day I had cut into a mango that just wasn't juicy enough for my smoothie, so I had saved it thinking I'd just eat it later as a snack. (Yes, I realize I have a mango addiction....)
 It ended up being the perfect addition to the rice!  I also added some fresh garlic, chives and a mini pepper, both fresh from the garden.  My bland brown rice that I had cooked was suddenly bursting with delicious, non packaged, flavors!

I am loving how much easier it is becoming to eat REAL foods.  I hadn't ever realized just how many processed foods we had eaten, and the adjustment has definitely taken time.  But I have learned that it really doesn't have to be that much more work, and we might even be saving some cash in the process.  Keeping fresh food in the house is the key, and it really is rewarding when something turns out so much better than expected.... like the star tonight.... Mango Brown Rice.  Yum!

What are some of your favorite brown rice recipes?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pork Loin – Cinnamon Style

Trader Joe’s had a great price on Pork Loin yesterday, so I decided to surprise Jeff with one of my dinner experiments. I’m sure there are recipes out there somewhere similar to this – I just never seem to take the time to look for them. Anyway, dinner turned out fabulous so I thought I would share a very casual recipe with you. I’m not one to use measurements, but with these ingredients I don’t think it matters much.

I didn’t think to take a picture, but I have to admit, it sure turned out pretty!

In a gallon ziploc bag I added the following ingredients:

Fresh garlic – chopped
Brown Rice Flour (about ¼ cup)

I played with the bag to mix it thoroughly, and then added the pork loin to the bag, played with it some more until the loin was completely coated with the mixture.

Then I seared the loin on all sides in my hot cast iron skillet with a little bit of butter. This only took a few minutes, then I removed the loin and set it into a 9x13.

Next I added a sweet onion (sliced) and a couple gala apples (chunked, skin removed) to the hot pan. I LOVE how cast iron sears for nice crisp edges. I didn’t cook them completely, but just long enough to give them some brown edges.  Cast iron is also fun for the sizzle sound factor... my family is always impressed!

I then spooned the onion/apple mix over the pork (mmm…  golden raisins would be good tossed in here, and maybe a few pine nuts). I then poured the remaining seasonings from the bag over the top. I covered the pan with aluminum foil and baked at 400 for about 40 minutes. I then removed the foil and baked for another 10 minutes or so, just to dry out the edges a bit.

What resulted was a wonderful, juicy, flavorful festive fall meal that we will have to do again soon. I had some homemade applesauce going while it was baking, along with a vegie mix ( cooked in the same cast iron, as it was just sitting there…) of fresh green beans, zuchinni (yes, both from the garden), onion and turkey bacon seasoned with pepper and garlic.

It didn’t take long, it was easy, and even the cleanup was simple.
Let me know if you decide to try it, or have a similar recipe that you enjoy ;o)

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Every Morning

So there I am this morning, sitting on this perfect bench. Enjoying the serenity of the crisp fall morning. The geese had spent some time diving for breakfast, and now had moved over to more shallow ground. The fish have begun their breakfast as well, and I watch as several leap out of the air, only to fall back making a most delightful splash. Some are close enough that it seems I can hear the slap as their bodies hit the water. It makes me wish Jeff were sitting here with me, since he is the mighty fisherman and all.

I hadn’t been out of the house much last week due to ‘the crud’, but this morning I had to be up early, not only to get my Monkey to school and prepped for school pictures, but to be at the school to have my picture taken. You see, I get a fancy volunteer badge to wear on the days I go in to help in her class. Monkey is especially excited about this ‘offiical identity’ I will have, and she hopes that I get the gray background like she chose to have for her pictures this year. She makes me giggle. (Side note: So how come we didn’t ever get to chose colors and backgrounds for our pictures?)

So having had cabin fever the last several days made this morning especially nice. I had expected rain, so to have sunshine was a sweet treat, and it was my intention to soak up as much of it as I could.

The park was quiet except for the wildlife. It was perfect. I sat there praising and thanking the Lord for my family. As I’m thinking about Jeff, I get a sweet text from him. Have I mentioned that the Lord’s timing is perfect?

After having sat there for a while, I reluctantly got up to head home, mentally motivating myself with my to do list. Yes, I have simplified things, but I still have lists with much to do, lol.

I start walking down the path, and am approached by this sweet old looking dog named Ernie. I notice that Ernie only has 3 legs. Poor old fella. Ernie’s person isn’t far behind with 4 more rescue dogs circling around her, one even being pulled in a wagon because he was abused and can’t walk much. As I’m petting Ernie’s head, it’s then that I learn that Ernie had lost his back left leg to bone cancer 6 months ago and it has now spread to his lungs. Ernie is 12.

The similarities (yes, I realize Ernie is a dog…) hit me like a brick, and I am flooded with memories and emotions of my Chelsea Rae. Left leg (she was going to have her femur removed), spread to lungs, 13 years old.

And he looks up with me with those sweet, big brown eyes.

“Really?” (insert sarcastic tone here)

No, I didn’t say it out loud, that’s the only word that describes my mindset. Did I mention that I was hit by a brick? Yeah… make that a ton of bricks.

Did I mention that God’s timing is perfect?? Yeah, so maybe not sometimes.

Okay, maybe I don’t always ‘feel’ like His timing is perfect…. But His timing really is perfect. Trusting in that truth, I surrender. I decide not to step back up on my pity pot, but instead, I brace myself for what’s to come.

My agenda for the day has come to a screeching halt. Oh, I will still get some things done, but my mental state will be focussed on so much more. It has slowed me down, but that’s a good thing. As I dig into His word I will be refreshed. Already, from a simple facebook update, I have been encouraged and loved, and the simple compassion that others have towards me brings me to tears. There is nothing quite as rewarding as being genuinely, unconditionally loved.

And if  they ’love me that much – then how much more does my heavenly Father love me?

Enough to send His one and only Son on my behalf. He knows and understands my pain even more than I do. I am thankful that I have the peace that only He can bring.

And I will continue to praise Him.
"Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
 "Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
       ~Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


When I'm fighting any kind of bug, like I have been this week.... I don't crave the typical chicken noodle soup.  No, when food is hard to taste and my sinuses hate me, it is then that I crave SALSA!

I haven't always been this way.  For many years, Pace was the only salsa I knew of, and I didn't like it much.  Those were the days when my cooking skills were limitted to casseroles made with cream soups.  Yeah, I know.  No more cream soups for me - not unless I want to be down for a few days with a migraine.

So imagine my delight when I walked into my friend Janet's kitchen and she was making salsa... from scratch!  I hadn't yet been exposed to much of "scratch" anything, so I was quite impressed.  And when I tasted it, I fell in love.   Since that day, salsa has become a staple in our home, especially when the cold season approaches.  It's perfect for entertaining, camping... and especially great  for football.  My hubby is quite content at the moment.  It's the perfect addition as he watches the games.

People occasionally ask for the recipe, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share.  With pictures, you can see how easy it is step by step. 


Sweet Onion, Garlic, Lime, Cilantro, Diced tomatoes and Rotel (original).
I prefer to use fresh tomatoes and hot peppers, but didn't have any today.  If using canned
tomatoes, I normally use just one large can of diced. 
If you like it spicy, throw in some jalepenos as well.  Yum! Sometimes we use frozen corn as well.

Simply add the ingredients to your food processor.  I prefer the Ninja. 
I got mine at Walmart for under $30, but now have seen a new improved silver and black
model at Costco.

Enlist the help of a little person.

And let them do the physical labor.  As you can see, mine is pretty excited to do so.

And there you go... easy, pretty and healthy all in one!

There are so many variations of salsa... what are some of your favorites?

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Fresh Start

When I first started this blog, really it was grief therapy. Writing was the outlet to face and deal with all that came with losing my beautiful Chelsea Rae to bone cancer. It's hard to believe that was over 3 years ago.

So much as changed since those terribly difficult days. I'm enjoying life again. Our 6 year old (almost 7 as she would tell you) brings us so much joy... incredible joy. Her journey into the 1st grade has been a delight to watch, and each day I can't wait to hear about all of her "adventures". Her perspective on life is so much more simple, and she delights in the little things.

I find that I am delighting in the little things as well. Several years of daily migraines has caused
me to evaluate my health in a whole new way. Though it's a lot more work and planning, I am loving our new lifestyle with real foods, and I feel so much better. Gardening has become something that Jeff and I enjoy together, and I love the satisfaction of eating foods that we grew! Even more, I love sharing those foods that we grew, seriously. I'm so glad that others love lemon cucumbers, because we had an abundance!

I have come to a place where I desire to simplify my life. To prioritize and focus my time and energy on those things that are really important to me. I know I have tried to do this over the years, yet I always seem to have too many interests, and never enough hours in the day. With the changes over the last few years, it's been relatively easy to let go of those things that really don't matter, and instead, focus on those that do. My family matters to me. My loved ones matter to me. My faith matters to me. My health matters to me. No longer do I want to be so busy being busy, that I don't have time for the simple joys.

Lately I have gotten much encouragement and inspiration from other blogs that I have followed and have decided that it's time to continue with mine...

So "welcome!" as I continue on this journey...