Monday, December 30, 2013

Baby update and Vitamix Pro 750

Sorry for the long pauses between blogs, things just keep chugging along here. Baby girl is doing fantastic and so is Momma. She was jumping and dancing around during last ultrasound and you could make out a few of her features. Oh my goodness I'm so in love with this little girl already.

Six months have come and gone and I've still been able to trail run and lift weights though not at the intensity I was pre-pregnancy. As for the trail runs, I can still do roughly the same mileage but the speed is slower and my recovery takes longer. Weight lifting is shorter sessions, slightly less weights and 7-8 reps of 4-5 sets instead of 10-15 reps of 3 sets. My recovery time between sets is slowly expanding while I pant to recover. Overall, though, I feel great. My body is expanding but still "toned" and I feel so beautiful. As I get closer and closer to the beginning of my third trimester though I realize that my definition of "big" right now is going to significantly change. I'm totally at peace with this. Yes, my thighs touch where they've never touched before. Yes, my boobs are ginormous. Yes, my belly now bumps into things and I can barely tie my shoes without gasping for breath. Yes, rolling over in bed (never mind the thought of the actual preparation of getting ready for bed and all the strategically placed pillows) can be quite the event. But, for me, this changing of my body is an amazing process and one I don't take for granted in the slightest.

When I see my belly bounce with her movement or feel Cowboy wrap his strong arms around me and a hand slides down to lovingly caress my bump, all my woes melt away.  Pregnancy is wonderful.

Okay, enough about baby stuff:)

For Christmas we received a Vitamix Pro 750 as a gift from my in-laws. Holy cow what a gift! I cannot rave enough about this machine. Prior to the Vitamix my favorite kitchen items were my Kitchenaid Pro-600 stand mixer, my Cuisinart DLC-2014 food processor, and my Lodge cast iron cookware. Vitamix would have replaced the food processor's place if it could shred and slice things but since it can't, the Vitamix will tie for first place alongside my Kitchenaid. Cowboy and I have used the Vitamix at least twice a day every single day since we opened the blender. This thing is a beast. It purees everything (including kale) to a silky smooth texture. You can put cold ingredients in and puree them until they come out steaming hot. It has several pre-set buttons that allow you to custom make certain foods. Ice cream, soups, smoothies etc. It even has a self-clean feature which has completely won my husband over.

Yesterday I made homemade almond milk in just a few minutes. It was creamy, delicious, and incredibly easy. Plus it tasted even better than our favorite store brand. 1c. almonds and 3c. water (plus an optional dab of sweetener) = tasty almond milk. The Vitamix heated up the milk when freshly poured from the pitcher. I was surprised at how much I really loved hot almond milk! I strained half of the almond milk to get out the "paste" of the puree and left half unadulterated. It appears that most people strain their milk. However, I preferred it un-strained as it gave it a good mouthy feel and a much creamier consistency. This would be wonderful to put in smoothies too!

After that I made homemade peanut butter which came out so smooth, spreadable, and very yummy. I was, again, surprised by this because I have gotten fresh ground peanut butter from our local Whole Foods and disliked the taste and grittiness of it. The Vitamix pulverized the peanuts to almost a pudding-like consistency. After chilling overnight it hardened a little but still very spreadable and no oily mess to mix in. Pure peanut butter: no oils, no sugars, no added junk. I did use salted dry roasted peanuts because I like my pb a little salty. At a much lower cost and healthier for me, this will be replacing my current favorite pb store brand also. Cleanup was not quite as simple as making smoothies but it still wasn't anything to complain about; just a little bit more elbow grease. Next up to try is almond and other nut butters!

As a bonus, the Vitamix came with a huge hardcover recipe book specifically for Vitamix use. We have made several smoothies from the book and every single one of them have knocked our socks off. Most cookbooks that come with large appliances are crap. I know a lot of you are nodding in agreement with me here. The Vitamix company has outdone themselves as this book has us tripping over our jaws. So far, every recipe has been "a keeper". My favorite so far: frozen strawberries, green and red grapes, and ice. Simple and absolutely delicious.

I will be purchasing a separate "dry" container to blend up homemade flours from grains. The instruction booklet states that the Pro 750 wet container can easily do grains and spices but from many reviewers online I found that getting a separate dry container will be to our advantage over long term. The grains tend to mar and cloud up the container and although the wet container is sufficient, it doesn't do quite as awesome of a job in blending grains to flours as the dry blade does. I see this as a long term investment of heavy use (especially when baby turns 6 months and can start testing out her taste buds on foods) and I don't mind paying a bit extra for things like that to make it last out its full potential.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Running with Baby

I've posted over on my other blog so I'm just copy/pasting like a lazy fool to update y'all. I'm doing great. Baby girl is doing great....

More pics to come. I've been super crafty lately with all this baby-ness going on!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Big Calm Breath of Happiness

It has finally happened.....

Yes, this mama is pregnant!!! I will save another date to write the journey up into a post but for now I am just going to bask in celebration and sharing my happy news. I am officially pregnant with a baby girl. We had two baby girls placed but only one made it. We felt the sadness of losing the one but an overwhelming gratefulness for having the other one secured well in my uterus. I am still having to do hormone injections and pills but each day I see a light at the end of the tunnel and feel my expanding bump to know it is all worth it.

The last ultrasound showed her little heart beating strong at 172. I was able to see her tiny arms and legs curled up to her core and the seams in her skull forming. Cowboy and I are so in love with our baby gummy bear (seriously she looks like a little gummy bear all tucked up in my belly, it's adorable). Shortly after seeing her, I cannot imagine why there is a debate out there whether a fetus is a human being. I am not even halfway there to the legal point in Colorado where a woman can have an abortion, and that is appalling to me. This fetus is the size of a prune and is indeed a tiny little person. Her heart beats, her organs are forming, she is starting to move, and brain waves can be detected.

Here...try not to fall in love. I dare you:)

My belly has already begun to swell with a cute bump and I've had to resort to using my belly band on my jeans as I can't zip them up. I wore my first maternity clothes yesterday although they were a bit baggy. Definitely room to grow!!! I have had very minimal morning sickness and feel overall extremely good (besides a bit extra tired and peeing a lot).

The parents-in-laws are so excited and text me often with cute baby girl clothes and toys they've picked up.  They are great people, I already know she is going to be SO loved!

There has been some serious crafty madness going on at our house. My mom and I have almost completed my very first quilt for this little one. It's beautiful with mostly greens and purples. Here's some pics:

 The picture doesn't do it justice. The black looking squares are actually navy with lighter blue circles in the middle and the stripes that look pink are purple. Since this pic was taken we have completed an outer border and cut out the backing which is blue with adorable owls. I will post when we have completed it.

 Soft fabric toy blocks, two changing pads (more are being made)

 Nursing cover (made by mom) and two breastfeeding tabs (magnetic ribbons that attach to your bra for keeping track of which side to nurse from first)

Burp Cloths (more in the making)

 Homemade cloth diapers- newborn and infant. Next up is making the diaper covers from PUL fabric.

Mom is a sewing master and is helping me with all of these projects. It's been so much fun!

I've finally been given the green light to go work out and run again. My first trail run was pathetic and I got very winded but it felt so good to run again. I decided to take it extremely easy with running until my daily intramuscular injections (in my butt) are done, which should be in about 2-3wks, because running just hurts and aggravates my gluteal muscles something horrible. After my second run I was limping around for days and sitting was so painful. I did, however, make it to the gym twice now and that felt pretty good too. I get out of breath and worn out quick but it's good to finally be moving my muscles. 

Well, that is all for now. Cowboy and I both are terrified to be new parents but are overwhelmed with joy and excitement over our bundle. We pray every day that she is growing healthy and strong and that we encounter no more difficulties. We can't wait to hold her, kiss her, love her, and protect her little self with all our might. This has been such a long journey....and we are still at the beginning!

Thank you for everyone who knew what we were going through, prayed for us, and offered their support and love. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Second Half, Let The Games Begin!

I just got word from my IVF nurse with a new schedule for the second half of this whole process. I was a little shocked at how many meds I still have to take: pills, SC injections, IM injections, vag suppositories (hell yeah the party is about to start right here), and hormone "patches". Luckily it isn't for a lengthy period of time but after reading all the side effects of these meds I know it may be a pretty rough ride for the hormones.

Please, dear husband, have patience with me and know if a two-headed emotional monster emerges it will be corralled back to its cave soon; I promise. This last month the hormone fluctuation wasn't too bad so maybe I will have little to no issues this next bit. Fingers crossed.

I know this is premature but I've been following a few bloggers that have me nearly peeing my pants laughing with their witty sarcasm and one of them just brought up something I can only say "holy hell" about.

To those who are near and dear to me, please don't even consider purchasing me one of the following items for our baby's birth:

Lotus Birth Bags: It's a decorative bag that you tuck your placenta into (yes still attached to the baby) and carry it around for 3-11 days until the cord falls off. Fucking Gross. I can just imagine laying the baby down for a nap only to find Argos (or better yet our cat) snuggled in the crib and gnawing at the delicious feast he just discovered. 

Placenta Teddy Bear: This is going to give me nightmares. The only thing I could think that would make this more creepy is to stick a light bulb up its butt for a baby nightlight. "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose".

Birth Wreath: First off, that tulle just makes me want to itch looking at it as I reminisce back to my ballet costume days. Second, those that know me, know I am not a frou-frou accessory kind of girl. If you want to be cute and do something "extra special" for the delivery, go the spa gift card route so I can feel slightly less than an orca post delivery.

I am sure I could list off a few more WTF links but I'll stop here. If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or just need some good laughs check out  Pregnant Chicken site. She cracks me up and horrifies me at the same time. It's true, some books never tell you the whole story...that's where she comes in.

Will keep you posted on the shenanigans at the mountain ranch here....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Infertility....the beginning

I know I've been MIA for awhile and I figured now is better than ever to come out of hiding. I guess the best place to start this blog post is from the beginning....

July 16, 2011 I had an epiphany while out of breath, midst runners-high, feeling strong and healthy, and overlooking a beautiful expanse of snowy peaked mountains. I was officially ready for motherhood.

I have always known I wanted to be a mom; to feel the stretch of my skin, the eruption of little kicks from inside my belly, dirty diapers and spit covered maternity shirts, peanut butter smears on couches, chalk drawings on sidewalks, the endless questions of "whys", pretty dresses or cool cargo pants, and all the ups and downs of all things Mommy. For many reasons throughout my life, which I won't go into here, the choice to go forward with baby making was just not a good decision. Opportunity knocked but for one reason or another I knew it wasn't time to bring that little bundle into the world I was living in. I listened to my gut and said, "not yet."

I met my husband in 2009 and was married by 2010. During the years 2009 and 2010 I ran mountains. Big mountains. I slept in, stayed up late, focused on things that made me happy such as crafts, running amazing races, getting to know my wonderful husband better and falling deeper in love doing it. I had a great time and felt the most free and the most loved I have ever felt in my life (not including parental love, of course, which I had in abundance). For the very first time in my dating career I felt accepted and adored for exactly who I was, faults and all. There was no push to change me, no jealousy over my running adventures, no criticism of any kind. Just lots of laughing, happiness, and pure soothing love. I felt the same towards him; he was perfect. He was "my kind of crazy".

We discussed children and he was definitely on board but we both decided to wait a year before revisiting the notion of parenthood. I wasn't ready quite yet.

2011 came and I started thinking about it more often, however I still felt I wasn't ready. Then, during the Leadville marathon as I was climbing up Mosquito Pass I paused and surveyed my progress. The land was breathtaking. Things were so beautiful to me at that moment, even midst agony at nearly 13,000ft elevation, and the words just overwhelmed my thoughts,"I am ready."

 I contemplated the idea over and over in my head. I didn't need to run any more races (although I wasn't about to give it completely up; just temporarily) and everything I loved other than running I could still do with a child. The prospect of Cowboy and I being held responsible for the growth and development of a little person was somewhat terrifying (what if we really fuck this kid up?!), the sleeping thing (or rather lack of...I love my sleep) was going to suck, and there would have to be a few adjustments to our household, but overall I knew I was ready. I was filled with a new sense of accomplishment and happiness as I trudged on towards the summit of Mosquito Pass.

"I am ready!"

I came home that night, exhausted but cheery. We had discussed the timing of all this as I was on birth control pills. Cowboy had recommended (and I happily agreed with him) to not tell him when I went off the pills. No pressure for either of us and just not make a humungous deal over it. It would be more of a great surprise when I did become pregnant. I thought that was a fine plan...until month after month of periods amounted to me becoming frustrated and having intense feelings of sadness. I will not say depression here because I don't believe I was ever depressed. I am emotionally pretty resilient to hardships. I am a natural born optimist and stubborn when it comes to achieving set goals. I cried, sure, but it was just being in the moment of sadness then wiping the snot with the back of my sleeve, sucking it up and saying, "okay let's try try again." Our original "fine plan" became a terrible one because it left me and only me knowing what was going on and having to deal with my sorrow and frustrations. This was supposed to be a team thing and suddenly I was on a one-man team. Not cool.

I broke down and told him that I had been off the pill for several months. I had maintained my silent oath all the while his parents came to visit and never let out a peep I was currently sans birth control, partially hoping to find out I was pregnant during their stay (yay fun!). However, I couldn't be quiet any further. As I hung my head in sadness, Cowboy wrapped his arms around me and told me that we were both big dummies to have constructed that "fine plan".

Now that we both were in the know, we continued to try month after month. Again, no success with not even a suggestion as to what could be wrong. I kept putting off month after month seeking medical help; I was most definitely in denial of my infertility. Being at the cusp of advanced fertility age, we finally made an appointment with a doc who referred us to a fertility specialist.

We went to Conceptions in Lafayette and met with Dr. Bush (yeah I still giggle over the name. Seriously it's like having a Urologist name Dr. Weiner). We were warned he was somewhat dry in the personality category but he was known to have great results. Truly, he was quite professional, explained everything in layman's terms, and not as dry as I expected. I think I had worked him up to be a major jackass (hey we were there for the great statistics not the attitude) and set the bar pretty low so he couldn't help but excel. Overall I was happy with him and his staff. We were preliminarily diagnosed with low ovarian reserve (low egg health/count) and agreed to try Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI). Our diagnostics were a little less than stellar the first round but for IUI #2 everything was excellent and our timing was perfect.

Still no luck.

Exasperated, Cowboy and I regrouped. Dr. Bush had recommended to try up to 3 IUIs. We decided we were wasting time and money through failed IUIs and ready to move onto the next step: In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). This is where they take my egg, his sperm, and combine them for fertilization in a petri dish. They let it grow a few days then put it back in my uterus to make a baby! This is truly the simplest explanation for something that is anything BUT simple.

**if you are going through a similar situation, I highly recommend reading the book: "The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Infertility". It explains everything in detail, all tests, expectations, statistics, and real-life stories.

We received our IVF "itinerary" from the doc, the do and do-not-do rules, the list of meds, and a detailed schedule. Basically, he told us, don't make any travel plans from now until several weeks after you are pregnant.

"Deal!" I said.

I'm going to skip over the financial aspect of IVF as I don't deem it pertinent info here but just know it is not a walk in the park and you are expected to pay it all up front. Be prepared to take out a loan unless you have been saving specifically for this for a few years. It ain't pretty but you do what you have to do to reach your dreams.

We went into IVF with full gusto; we had a new sense of excitement and purpose. After over a year and a half of frustrations, struggles, and high hopes followed by low lows we had pressed the reset button. I got ready to tackle my biggest challenge yet. The next few weeks I worked out like crazy for both mental and physical therapy. I wanted my body to be ready for this.

The box full of medications arrived and I spread them out in amazement. Mostly injections of some form or another with a few pills thrown in for good measure.

Round One

I started with birth control pills to prevent cysts from forming and stop premature ovulation. My body was now completely in the hands of my infertility specialist. I (surprisingly) was very happy and agreeable with this. "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it," kept running through my head. "I'll do whatever it takes."

I won't sugar coat it: not everything was pleasant and enjoyable. I had to go for DAILY blood draws and vaginal ultra sounds. I had a hysteroscopy (they thread a scope up into your uterus to take a look-see) where I nearly passed out, and a trial embryo transfer (more catheters in my uterus)...basically my lady bits were on display to nearly a village of people. Between my lab draws and the injections into my belly this was what my body started to look like: 

very bloated belly from the hormones and injection bruises

Each injection I just kept thinking positive thoughts: this is one more injection closer to the end, one more poke towards the final goal. Yes, I feel bloated and uncomfortable and slightly loopy but it is just temporary. This too shall pass. I kept a pretty good head on my shoulders through the entire thing by thinking forward. Imagining our little roly-poly and the craziness of parenthood. The hardest part was being put on major restrictions: no running (gasp!), no working out (nothing more than a walk due to the high risk of getting twisted ovaries- bad bad thing), no caffeine, no decaf (not even herbal teas), no alcohol (no biggie since I really don't drink), and no chocolate. It so happened this was exactly the month that I had friends (not many people knew what we were going through) from all over inviting me to really fantastic trail runs and races. Oh geez! This was tough but again, I kept my mantra of "one step closer". 

The meds were to stimulate my ovaries to produce multiple follicles, hopefully meaning multiple eggs to be fertilized. Each day became more and more uncomfortable. I ended up maturing 12 follicles!! It was so cool to see all those follicles on the ultrasound. It hurt to button my jeans or wearing anything remotely tight. It hurt to go over bumps in the road while driving, or sitting for lengths of time. My UnderArmour Storm pants became my best friend. 

Cowboy was Amazing through this whole thing and pampered me like a queen. He went to every single test and doctor's appointment even though he worked the night before and could have slept in. Not one peep of complaint did he utter. To make it easier on me, he gave me my injections- two in the morning, two at night. He was a pro at it. He would rub my back when it hurt or gently (oh so gently) rub my bloated belly. He took long walks with me to help my stir-crazy self, all the while talking about the baby we were going to have and the fears and joys we were going to experience as new parents. He let me sleep in and cooked meals when I was too exhausted. He was a trooper for sure. 

Eventually it came time to harvest those eggs. I was put under (propofol and fentanyl) while they retrieved my eggs through a needle aspiration via my cervix. I woke up groggy and was wheeled to a really nice post-op suite. Cowboy was waiting for me and helped me get settled onto a heating pad and into bed. There was a lot of pain initially but the heating pad helped a lot. Cowboy settled in next to me and called my mom to let her know I was doing okay.

Not long after I was sitting in the truck on our way home. Cowboy decided to take me on a slight detour though: Krispy Kreme!!! I haven't had a donut in years...and now I was allowed some coffee! OMG it was heaven. Total and absolute heaven. We got there just as the 'hot and fresh' light came on so we got two donuts for one. I got my favorite: Chocolate covered white cream filled. LOVE....

Although appearing minor, this pampering was so needed. It made me feel so good when I wasn't feeling so good overall.  Cowboy tucked me in with a heating pad with tylenol #3 when we got home and I stayed in bed the next few days healing.

That weekend we found out that out of the 12 follicles, 12 eggs were retrieved, 8 were able to be fertilized. Then came the waiting to see if they survived the few days of maturing that was needed before freezing them. A few days later we found out that four eggs remained to be frozen, the other four didn't make it. We were sad but still elated that we had four! They were then biopsied and sent to cryo-preservation (freezing the embryos). We had chosen to send the biopsies off for genetic testing.

A few days later (not-so-patiently waiting) we were told that we had three genetically good babies!! The fourth, sadly, had a defect in the 21st chromosome- i.e. a Downs baby. The odds of that embryo coming to full term was extremely low.

So, now with three beautifully genetically perfect babies chilling out we are back onto our IVF schedule. I have one month off where I get to do whatever my heart desires and then we start a new round of medications and injections. Cowboy has been practicing his Intra-Muscular injections for the progesterone in oil they will have me on (not fun) and soon enough we will be ready to transfer a little embryo or two back into my body and pray that it sticks!  As soon as I got the green light a few days ago, I have been running all over the place and lifting weights at the gym. This body is going to be one strong vessel for our little guy or girl (s)??

**it took me a long time to write and post this; to decide to "put it all out there". Although I love blogging, I do like my personal space and privacy. I didn't want to share this very personal experience, however, looking back I realize that while going through all this I thrived on reading other people's experiences of infertility via their personal blogs. It helped to read what others went through and what they would have done differently/same. It made my journey less stressful and made us a bit more prepared to endure everything. Therefore, I felt hypocritical not to share for the chance I might help someone else out there. I kept details to a minimum on the tests and such (this has been quite a lengthy process) so if you wish to know anything more in depth, please feel free to private message me or just ask me in the comments section***

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Butter and Ricotta Cheese

Store bought Ricotta Cheese is dead to me now.

I have discovered the creamy, sweet, deliciousness of homemade Ricotta. So simple, I really cannot believe I haven't made this years ago. 

From Back to Basics books: 

I combined 1 qt. cultured buttermilk with 1 gallon whole milk, slowly heated it up to 180 degrees with minimal stirring, let it set off heat for 30 minutes,  then strained it all through double layered cheesecloth (save the whey for other yummy recipes). From there it was time to hang it for an hour to produce a beautiful thick, creamy curd. 

Mix in a dash of salt. 

 The results: Mama Mia amazing Ricotta cheese!

I had to refrain from shoving spoonful after spoonful into my mouth it was so good. It actually had me reminiscing my childhood and our family's "pierogi parties". Every year we would have tons of extended family over (hardy jovial Polish women) to roll, knead, stuff, and cook pierogis from scratch for the upcoming holidays. It was a family pierogi factory with different stations and assembly lines. We would divide the end product amongst those that helped so all families would be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. My dad was always the designated pierogi sauté chef; spooning out the cooked pierogis from the boiling water as they floated and then lightly browning them in a heap of golden butter and caramelized onions. My mouth is salivating as I think about it. 

The women bustled around, eggs being cracked, butter knives flashing and clinking amongst chatter and laughter as they cut in the wet ingredients to the dry to form the pierogi dough. An oven warmed mixing bowl was turned upside down over the dough for a brief period. Next came rolling out the dough in long rectangles, the spooning of sweet lemony Farmers cheese along the rectangle, dipping their floured fingers in water to form a circle around the cheese, folding over the dough, and then cutting out the pierogis with a stout water glass turned upside down. A fork was wielded to press its tines along the outer edges, but only after fingers swiftly pressed out all hidden air pockets so they didn't burst in the hot water bath. Plates upon plates of raw pierogis were passed down to my father for the cooking. Every once in awhile my dad would announce that a pierogi had burst which was met with happy 'oh darns' and the "broken" pierogi was gobbled up greedily.

This was hard core Polish family tradition.

To this day, I can't help but wrinkle my nose when I hear people saying, "Oh yeah I've had pierogis before. Mrs. T's is the best!" My heart becomes heavy, I clutch my arms to my chest, and I feel great pity for these people. Mrs. T's is nothing remotely near what an authentic pierogi tastes like; you might as well chew cardboard for dinner.

Yep little 'ol me in the back and my late Polish Grandma bottom right..check out that awesome wallpaper!

Great memories right there...sure wish I had more pictures of those times

The ricotta that I just made tasted extremely similar to the moist Farmers cheese that we would buy at Broadway Market in Buffalo. Ever since my parents moved to the East coast, Farmers cheese is hard to find. I spooned a few heaping tablespoons of my homemade ricotta into a bowl, added a couple dashes of lemon juice, and a bit of sugar, swirled and tasted. Oh my heavens. Yep, right there, perfect pierogi filling!! Must message parents stat! 

Anyways, I am very excited about my new adventure into cheese making and hope to expand my knowledge further. 

A few weeks ago, I also made homemade butter. Basic directions: beat room-temperature heavy cream until solids form (you can either shake it using a mason jar or wuss-out like I did and use your stand mixer). Once solids form, let set 20-30 min., then start squeezing out the water using your hands or two wooden spoons. Save the liquid as it is "true buttermilk" (not the cultured stuff) and is phenomenal in waffles or baked goods.Add about 1/4 tsp salt and fold in. Put into a butter bell or mold. Fun and relatively easy but not sure I will completely abandon store bought butter from our local dairy quite yet. The costs don't necessarily justify homemade butter, at least not yet, but with the food prices sky rocketing I may be making more homemade products in the very near future.

Other homemade goings-on at the household: sprouting seeds/beans.

I ventured into this after browsing my local Vitamin Cottage (smaller, more wallet-friendly version of Whole Foods). They had a sprout jar and bags upon bags of neat beans. Cowboy got involved soaking and rinsing after I told him all we could use sprouts in. Every day we checked on our little buggers and got more excited as little tails appeared. 

adzuki, mung, and garbanzo beans, red lentils, grean peas

The best salad ever? Romaine, sprouted bean mix (see above), crumbled cooked bacon, and garden fresh tomatoes. Mixed with one of my favorite dressings: Ken's Steak House Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion, it's like a BLT in a bowl. Seriously.

Or try sprouting alfalfa. Then use alfalfa sprouts instead of lettuce on an onion roll with ham, cheese, tomato, and mayo (or humus). Yum.

I will be sprouting grains next to make bread with!

This Christmas was what we referred to as the "Lodge Christmas". Family sent us all kinds of Lodge Logic Cast Iron pieces in my attempt to be a predominantly cast iron cookware chef. I will keep my set of stainless pots and pans for yogurt and spaghetti sauce making and boiling water as cast iron does not deal well with these things. My mother-in-law was totally awesome in that she went directly to the Lodge Factory store to buy our gifts! We received a monster 9qt Dutch Oven, a 3qt pot w/ skillet lid, and a Boy Scout logo 10" skillet (dear hubby is an Eagle Scout) from Cowboy's parents. From my Aunt we received a cast iron cookbook and super neat skillet pot holders (one has chickens on it!). My Grandmother got us a 2qt pot w/ lid (absolutely perfect for our morning oatmeal or afternoon soup) and a little 8" skillet. My parents sent us an Aebelskiver pan and cookbook! We have used everything except the Dutch Oven (which is calling me to make up a big batch of chicken stock to can) and the Aebelskiver (also spelled Ebelskiver....and pronounced Able-skeever) pan which is due to arrive next week. 

Meanwhile we have thumbed through the cookbook and drooled significantly. You start with a couple basic batter recipes and then customize the batter and fillings to your wildest dreams. As we were turning the pages one of us would suddenly think of a cool idea: taco! pizza! grilled cheese! cream cheese and jam! peanut butter and jelly! Nutella! Smores! It was never ending and tons of fun. Can't wait for the pan to arrive to get my Aebelskiver on!

Soon to come: step by step Aebelskiver making!

More Flaking Around

I have now used my Campo Flaker a handful of times and I love it more every time I use it. Last week I made a delicious five grain cereal. First you rinse your grains and lay them out on a cookie sheet to dry. This will soften the grains so you will be able to flake them. They don't need to be bone dry....about six hours left on the counter should do. Oats don't need to be soaked as they are already a soft grain.

Spelt, Rye, Hulled Barley, Wheat, and Oats (added after previous grains were soaked)

 Melt 1-2 Tbs. butter in a 2qt. cast iron pot

 Add 2-3c. flaked grains (servings for 2), 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, and toast til fragrant.  You may add any toppings such as blueberries, almonds, or other goodies at this time.  
Add 2- 2 1/2c. water and cook until done. 

Healthy bit o' heaven right there.