Friday, February 28, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (Grain and Gluten Free, Gaps)

        I discovered this recipe when we were still fully on the GAPS Diet - now we eat a bit of homemade  sourdough every now and again - and was making it at least once a week for a while. I originally came across the recipe here, and have somewhat altered it to better fit my taste (less sweet, more lemon, etc). I have to admit, I never followed this recipe completely, even the first time I made it. I think I have a disorder where I just can't follow a recipe exactly - I don't really measure and intentionally add more or less of something I want. Most of the time it works, and then once in a while... Disaster strikes!
        I made these muffins today, and they did turn out well. Here is my improved recipe, but I don't measure any of this stuff so it is a slightly different texture every time. GAPS recipes are for the most part very forgiving, so that makes life a bit easier.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (I use just a bit less to avoid the muffins being too dry)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (ours is homemade with vanilla beans and vodka)
  • 4 large eggs or 5 small
  • Zest from two medium lemons
  •  Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

        My procedure is a bit different than most people's, it makes it so I don't have to melt the coconut oil. Feel free to add your ingredients in pretty much any order you choose.

  • Mix together the coconut flour and the maple syrup/honey until it forms a very thick paste. It will be runnier if you add more sweetener.

  • Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Our vanilla is in an old root beer bottle with a cork.

  • Add the eggs and mix in:
  • Zest the lemons and then squeeze the juice from one in. Mix thoroughly.

  • Mix in the poppy seeds. You see how bright yellow the batter is? Fresh eggs, people! They're full of vitamins and minerals!

    • Grease your muffin cups or just line them with muffin wrappers. Our pans are all so old that everything sticks like glue, so I have to use foil. I know it's not the healthiest, but I don't really have a choice.

    •  Fill the muffin cups.

    • Bake for about 22 minutes at 350 degrees, or until slightly browned on the tops. Cool for a few minutes and then eat!

            These muffins have a delicious lemon flavor and are great for breakfast. As I said before, I make these all the time, and we haven't gotten tired of them yet. They are soooooo healthy as well, so you can't feel bad about having them often. There is no grain or gluten, and only a quarter of a cup of sweetener in the whole recipe! That's only one teaspoon in each muffin! 
            Do you bake grain/gluten/sugar free? I'd love to hear some recipe ideas!


      Thursday, February 27, 2014

      Silk Hankie

              So right now, you might be asking yourself, 'What in Middle Earth is a silk hankie?" Or you might know exactly what I'm talking about, but I think that's kind of unlikely. I had never even heard of one until a few weeks ago when one of my friends brought one into the yarn store. Anyway, they're pretty cool. If you're a fiber junkie like me or are just maybe interested in knitting/crocheting/spinning, this might be something to check out. 
              Every year, all of the crazy people who love yarn go to an event called STITCHES; for us, STITCHES West because of where we live. Well, I didn't go. I have a lot on my hands right now, and as much as I would have liked to see all of the fibers and come home with a few, I decided it was not the best idea. Yesterday, I went into the yarn store to purchase some bamboo that I am going to knit a glove out of (I have already made the first one), and my good friend Mary was there. She brought out a few silk hankies that she had bought at the event that past weekend, and let me process a layer of one of them. I had seen this done before and knew how but hadn't done it myself yet. I stretched it all out and wound it up, and then asked me to go get a bag from behind the counter to put the rest in - yes, we all act like we work there. I did so, and brought it back to her, but she said I could keep it! And I was so surprised I just about hit the ceiling! I was so happy I couldn't stand it. Then, she took out of her bag some lovely brown alpaca roving to spin, and some dark brown wool as well, and handed them to me! She had brought me back spinning supplies from STITCHES! I felt very loved, let me tell you, but she told me that I had to bring in what I make to show her. That I will do for her, because she was so kind in giving me the silk, the alpaca (which I have never spun before), and the wool. I am thinking right now of what I can make to give to her as a thank you. 
              Back to the silk hankies. As soon as I got home with my bamboo yarn and my spinning fibers, I got out my drop spindle, which is made from a dowel and part of our old Christmas tree. Many people who are prey to the craft industry buy fancy and very expensive drop spindles, but I made mine because I don't have $80 to spare right now. The ones that other people have may work a bit better - they have a good weight and spin, but mine serves its purpose right now, and quite well indeed. I'll show you now how I do mine. 
              First off, this is what a silk hankie looks like. Mine is such a pretty color, don't you think?

              I had already used up a few layers in the above picture. You can probably see the layered edges; what you do is you take hold of one and peel it away from the others. A very thin sheet will come off, and the nice thing is, it doesn't matter if you tear a hole in it or if it comes off a bit ragged.

              Then, you stick your thumbs through the middle, and pull the silk to form a loop. You can draft it to be as thin as you like.

               Then, you break it. Here, you can either wind it up and knit it as roving, or you can spin it. I spin mine.

              Here I am attaching it to my spindle:

               Drafting out:

               ... And spinning! Umm, I just noticed the messed up rug in the corner - my cat must have been fighting with it. Oh well.

              As I said, I had already spun quite a bit when I took these pictures. It looks so pretty on the spindle, especially because I spun it so thinly. When I ply two strands together it is going to be such nice yarn! Thank you Mary so much!

              Do you spin silk hankies, or anything else? I love to hear about other people's experiences!


      Tuesday, February 25, 2014

      Morning Chores

              I love my chores. It may sound sound strange since many people despise them most vehemently, but I really do enjoy early morning work. I have become a bit of a morning person in the past several months (which I was always very far from being before), and now with the milking and everything I am taking advantage of it. Really, tell me what city girl has the chance to milk a goat every morning and cut fodder for her chickens? What city girl gets to give a baby bottle to a goatling and fill buckets with hay? And just so you know, I have no pride in being a city girl. I would fit in on a Texas farm much better.
              If you were wondering, yes, my mom did solve her milking issues, and yes, it did involve a new milk stand. I would say 'I told you so', but I try to be a polite little creature most of the time so I'll refrain. Anyway, she cut up an old microwave cart that was in our garage, put some boards and brackets on, and now it is a stanchion. Sorry that this picture isn't very good; I couldn't back up any farther or I would fall into a fishpond. That wouldn't be very fun on a cold morning, now would it?

                      I got up a bit before six this morning, threw on a coat, and got the milking things together. That includes Thorin's bottle, the udder-washing washcloth, and the jar for the milk. After I have everything together, I head outside.

              I go to our neighbors' yard where Thorin and Lily are through the back flood easement, but get Eponine the stuff she needs first. In our yard, I make sure her bowls of goat minerals and baking soda are full (she had knocked them over onto the ground today), and give her some black oil sunflower seeds and alfalfa pellets. The pictures are all blurry because there was not very much light and the shutter speed on my camera was as slow as molasses. 

              The chickens also get a handful of sunflower seeds, or at least the ones that are around at the time. I actually think that this picture is kind of cool!

              They also get some fodder out in the basket in the flood easement:

              Then, finally,  I got over to our neighbors yard. I let Thorin and Lily out of their pen, and while Lily stretched her legs, I gave my baby his bottle. He really was not holding still, so these pictures are extremely blurry.

              Then, I took Lily over and got her up on the stanchion with a nice bowl of oats and sunflower seeds. I strapped her feet and head in - a necessary thing when milking goats, and got to work. I have to lock Thorin out at this point because otherwise he tries to climb all over me and spills the milk.


               Then I can start the milking, after I wipe down Lily's udder and get the milk jar out. I have actually become quite proficient at it in the past few days. :) It is very good for a Nigerian Dwarf goat to give one quart a day as an average over the whole milking period. Peak production is at about six weeks, and Lily kidded not one month ago, so I am pleased with getting just under a pint at each milking right now (I do two a day). Lily didn't come from great milk lines, so I don't have soaring expectations of her. This is the milk I got this morning in a pint jar.

              I cap the jar, and clean my milking things up. Then, I take Lily and Thorin into their respective pens and head back to my house to get grass hay from our shed to feed them. They each get a small scoop of alfalfa pellets as well; that's what their eating off the top of the hay in the below pictures. Thorin likes green food (kudos to you if you get that reference!).

               By the time I am done with the milking, Eponine has meandered out to the flood easement and is looking around for spilled chicken food.

              Once inside, I strain the milk into a quart jar that I will fill up the rest of the way in the evening, and put it in the refrigerator.

              So those are my delightful morning chores! I love taking care of the animals, and milking Lily especially, and my mom is glad to get to sleep in for another forty-five minutes or so. Perhaps, though, when it raining in a couple of days, I won't be so happy about it...


      Sunday, February 23, 2014

      Springtime In My Heart

              I couldn't figure out a fitting title when I was thinking about this post, so I went to go play my piano. I opened up one of my favorite songbooks, and the first song was 'Springtime Inn My Heart'. I went back to the kitchen, turned on my computer, and sat down once more. And here I am now. 
              Everything is green and growing here - it is wonderful! There are sprouts and baby leaves and happy animals; the sun is shining, and it seems as though the whole world must be happy now. On Wednesday we are meant to have some rain, for which I am excited (we need it terribly), but for the moment I am happy to enjoy the warm weather. This is where I imagine my yard looks like right now:

              So let's get started with the pictures. There are quite a few, so prepare yourself accordingly. I took a walk down by the creek today with my camera. It was nice to see the things that are growing and get my boots muddy!

               My brother was fishing from the bank.

               I don't know what it is about water, but it is magical!

              Now for the things I found growing this year. Watercress:

              A big radish plant:

              Some yellow dock:

              Queen Anne's Lace:

              Scarlet Pimpernel:

              I searched all over for peppermint; I knew there had to be some somewhere this year. I finally found it, tiny and covered in dust, but there:

              This is the view the other way down the creek:

              Baby radish sprouts:

              More watercress:


              Now for up on the bank... Our neighbors oranges are ripe, and they don't pick or eat them. I'm sure you can guess what that means! ;)

              A blossoming plum tree:

              Our lovely dwarf peach tree (her name is Elizabeth):

              My brother's top bar hive:

               I just have a thing for feed buckets, okay?

              Calendula and  Narrow Leaf Plantain sprouts:

              My Lemon Balm is growing again...

               As is the Anise Blue Hyssop. So delicious in tea...

              A few sprouts in one of the cold frames:

              Eponine has been complaining that I have not been giving her enough attention because I've been spoiling my little man, Thorin. So I promised that I would post a bunch of pictures of her on my blog so she would be popular (that is very important to her). So, here you are, my Darlin'.

               She wasn't posing very well because all she wanted to do was snuggle.

              Sorghum, Honey, and Larkspur were turning some soil:

              Fodder is growing - Yum for birdies!

              And, my little Thorin. He jumped up when he saw me coming with his hooves on the fence. He's just a little sweetheart!
              "Mama! Mama! Here I am! Do you wanna snuggle?"

              Eponine had gotten her head stuck through a hole in the fence. I don't know how long she was like this before I pried the wires apart and got her out.


              I took Thorin out to play after that:

              We are all enjoying the sun while it lasts, and hoping that the sky will dump buckets on Wednesday to help with the drought. Now, I am going back outside - I cannot stay in for long! I suppose I really do have springtime in my heart!