Category Archives: Cooking

Blueberry Crumb Bars {made with Spelt and natural sugar}

These Blueberry Crumb Bars are delicious! I am craving them just looking at the pictures… thankfully there are peach bars in the oven for tonight. πŸ˜‰

We’ve been using a lot of freshly ground spelt flour instead of whole wheat. The plus side, is that there is less gluten than wheat and the flavor is smooth and buttery, not too “wheaty.” The downside, is that there IS less gluten… which means baked things don’t always hold together as well. In this recipe, spelt works wonderfully and creates such a hearty, deep-flavored bar.

I’m also very pleased with the use of whole cane sugar in this recipe. The molasses taste only compliments the berries and spelt. One thing that I’m wondering about, is whether there is some alternative to the cornstarch used in the filling. I’ve heard about arrowroot powder, but we’ve never used it and it sounds strange. Perhaps for those like us, with a simpler pantry, white flour might work? Something to try next time.

One more note! I’m one who usually omits the lemon zest in recipes – it takes too long, and sometimes the flavor it adds is too strong. But in this recipe it really brings everything together with great freshness! That being said, I only had frozen lemon cubes this time, and so omitted the zest, and it was still delicious.

Okay, enough with my attempt at “food-blogging”… on to the recipe!

Whole cane sugar, baking powder, and flour.

Oh, yeah. And salt. (NOTE: if using lemon zest, now would be the time to add that, as well)

Whisk!

Cut in butter and scrambled egg until it looks something like this…

You should see small, yet distinct, chunks of butter. This is one of the biggest keys to tender, flaky pastry crust!

Pat half of the crumb mixture into greased pan.

Mix lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch (or substitute?).

Beautiful blueberries!

Pour cornstarch mixture over berries, crushing the berries slightly as you stir together.

I wasn’t too pleased with the consistency using the spoon, so I used my hands! Sorry, no pictures of that. πŸ˜›

Distribute blueberry mixture evenly over crust.

Sprinkle remaining half of crumb mixture over top of the blueberries.

Bake at 375 degrees F and voila! Enjoy! These are best lukewarm, if you ask me.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
(adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/07/blueberry-crumb-bars/)

1 cup whole cane sugar (Sucanat or Rapunzel)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat)
Β½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 egg
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup whole cane sugar (Sucanat or Rapunzel)
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375* F. Grease a 9Γ—13 inch pan.

2. Whisk together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Blend only until the butter is in small, but still distinct chunks. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Stir into blueberries, gently crushing some of the berries. Pour the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely
(… or not) before cutting into squares.

First Sourdough Bread

My first Spelt sourdough loaves! They turned out okay, though the flavor was a little weird – the “sour” taste wasn’t what I’m used to from sourdough. Maybe because it was only the first batch from this starter? They were also dense with some large holes, but again, I’m hoping that will improve with time. Everyone liked them anyway, and the four loaves were gone in a few days!

We sliced some for open-faced Reuben sandwiches, as a substitute for the traditional rye, and it was really good!

I kept forgetting to grind more flour, so I missed feeding the starter for two days, and therefore it’s taken me an extra week to get it back on track, but I should be making more bread today.

Spelt Sourdough Starter

Just a real quick picture post of day 5 on my sourdough starter using the Nourishing Traditions recipe!

When I first open the bowl up. Kind of interesting how it settles out into three distinct layers – gloppy flour stuff on bottom, liquid in the middle, and foamy on top.

Bubbles, colors, and textures

Oh… yum… stirring it together before moving it to it’s new bowl for the day.

In a clean bowl now, and adding 1 cup spelt flour and enough water to make it soupy again

All mixed up and covered until tomorrow afternoon!

A Post for March 1st

Oh, the seasons of life – how they change! We are at a strangely quiet time in our lives right now. There is a lot we are looking forward to and working towards, but nothing big is happening RIGHT NOW! You know how that is, right?

Sometimes the illusion that β€œnothing” is happening can be frustrating, but as my dear, wise mama pointed out to us at breakfast recently, there ARE things happening, subtle and important things. There are relationships being built. There are spiritual lessons being learned as we seek to know and obey God. We have the time to truly invest in people and things, not simply keep up with their constant growth. We can make plans, in submission to God’s perfect will, and let Him prepare us in whatever way we need. This is a special time – a time to treasure and make the most of, instead of be anxious over.

One thing I have really enjoyed is all the time we have been able to take for reading about history! Especially read-alouds in the afternoon. Yes, we still enjoy them. How could we not?! All the wonderful times together as we take turns reading, interjecting thoughts as we go, working on handmade projects while another reads, and simply sharing in the experience as a family. We’ve been reading books like Jared’s Island, Duncan’s War and The King’s Arrow, Amos Fortune: Freeman, and River of the Wolves. Separately we’ve read Calico Bush, Robinson Crusoe, The Battle for Quebec, Colonel Anza’s Impossible Journey, Shaw’s Fortune, and many more.

During our read-alouds, and sometimes in the evening while Mama makes dinner, I’ve been experimenting with Spelt flour. You see, we’re out of the wheat berries we purchased back in August, but we still have Spelt left, so we’re forced now to do what we had in mind from the beginning – vary our grain consumption. With the gluten content of Spelt being lower than I’m used it, it is somewhat challenging, but I think because of that very fact, certain cookies come out amazing with Spelt! The successes so far have been Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies, Spelt Biscotti (two different varieties, both of which need tweaking flavor-wise), and a mixture of Spelt and Wheat in regular bread. I’m hoping to try Spelt sourdough soon!

While I’m thinking of it, do you have a favorite Biscotti flavor? What about your favorite type of cookie? I’d love to know the most popular ones so that I can replicate them with healthy ingredients! Thanks!

There has also been a new challenge, and it’s changed my schedule a bit. My laptop is seriously broken, possibly beyond repair, and so we are down to one computer. There are five people in the house, each with their own computer needs, and this poor Macbook is getting more than it’s fair share of use! Unfortunately, with the way we do things, about half of us (no, not β€œ2 ½” people, but 2-3 people) wind up wanting the computer at the same time. So now, I’m finding that my best opportunity for the computer is in the morning when everyone else is either still asleep, or having their personal time with the Lord. Because I get up earlier, I can still have some time to pray, read God’s Word, and be prepared for the day, but then get in my computer time before breakfast. Later in the day while everyone is practically in line for the computer, I can then spend more time studying and journaling as I would have spent the rest of the morning previously. It actually may work out better this way, because by the time the afternoon rolls around, I can certainly use some refreshment from the Lord!

Some of us have also found time for crafty projects. Seasonal decorations, flower headbands, hand-lettering practice, dishcloths. Sometime, I’ll get around to posting about our homemade Christmas presents from this year, as well.

I am so, so thankful for our home and family. A couple days ago, someone who had never been to our house before came over to pick up honey, and I cannot tell you the feeling that came over me as I watched him briefly glance around at the shelves of books that line our walls, the paper chain garland decorated with hand-written Bible verse hearts for Valentine’s day, the boxes of honey by the door, the living room space cramped with furniture to fit our family and guests. It didn’t matter what he thought in that instant, and he didn’t say anything, but as I watched him taking it all in, I felt a proud ownership of what God has accomplished in our lives and the different ways in which He has blessed us with things that draw us together.

A Fish and Chips Style Meal

After last year’s “success” with us girls handling the meals and household tasks during mom’s recovery from surgery, we decided to at least make the meals again this year.

On Thursday we had Lemon-Dill Baked Tilapia, Broccoli, and Baked Onion Rings.Β  AND Mama made us some Tartar sauce to go with it. It was delicious!

Lady L and I listened to Sir Knight of the Splendid Way while she peeled the broccoli and I made the onion rings. (Amanda came in to make the Tilapia towards the end of it.) It was a very interesting, and, uh… dramatic… radio drama. During one part, when Sir Constant was tested by the sisters Sorrow and Pain, but called on them to submit to the name of God, they took him to the very feet of Christ, and I was moved to tears. The experience in the allegory was so similar to what it is in real life, and the temptations to give up in defeat so real, but the victory of Christ just as sweet… I couldn’t help but feel it. I would recommend it even if just for that scene, but the rest was almost as good, too! πŸ˜‰

I used THIS recipe as a basis for the onion rings, but made my own whole wheat breadcrumbs and coated the rings in WW flour, used whole eggs (i.e. with yolks), and just seasoned with salt and garlic powder. This can obviously be easily adapted for various dietary needs.

But it was the tartar sauce that made the meal! Seriously.

For dessert I stepped out of our comfort zone a bit and made sugar-free/sweetener-free banana cookies. I did splurge just a little and used chocolate chips instead of raisins. They turned out surprisingly well, though not classic-cookie-ish. Most of us liked them enough to have them again, and mama really liked them… and enjoyed having practically guilt-free cookies.

Meal Planning for Travel

Sorry this is late. 😦 I tried writing after midnight on Saturday, but that didn’t work out so well!

Planning the food is one of the most exciting, though difficult, parts when we go on road trips. As we have been changing our diet to eliminate refined foods over the past years, and especially this past year to purposefully eat nutritious foods, it has become more complicated and sometimes less tasty. But this time, I believe our menu may have struck a balance! Mama and I are excited about it and look forward to seeing how it goes. If there’s one problem, it will be running out of cooler space…

MEALS

  • We decided on sandwiches and cold salads for most of the lunches and dinners we had to bring:
    Brown Rice Salad with an Asian flair (pictured above) – we tried it on Wednesday (omitting the raisins), and it was delicious! The cashews really make it!
    Four Bean Salad (Simply in Season cookbook, pg 104)
    Vegetable Pasta Salad (Simply in Season, Pg 107)
  • For a hot meal at the hotel, Mama made Lentils and Tomatoes – a simple dish with 13 cloves of garlic! A great immune system boost for vacation! She made it ahead and froze it in re-used jars (we used pasta sauce jars), so we have “disposable” glass containers. They’ll also serve as “ice” in our cooler. To go with it I made ahead and froze the best flaky whole wheat biscuits (tutorial coming soon).
  • Lady L made a big batch of Whole Wheat Tortillas last week. Being very versatile, they can be eaten plain, with leftovers on them, as a sandwich wrap, or even with the snacks below. She also rolled some really thin and “over-cooked” them so they became crispy like crackers!

SNACKS

  • Hummus! Another immune-boosting garlic dish! To make it even more economical and healthy, we soaked and cooked dry beans according to Sally Fallon’s directions in Nourishing Traditions. I’ll also be packing this in re-used jars – small ones so there’s no sharing in between seats and they’re used quickly and not left partially used in the cooler for long. We’re bringing crackers and tortilla chips to go with it – the tortillas themselves also are delicious!
  • Granola Bars! We finally found a recipe that tastes almost like the ones from the store, but better! Made ahead and froze.
  • It’s like a family tradition to bring a dessert when we go on a trip, usually cookies. I’ve been making these Chocolate Chip Cookies. Made with whole wheat flour and Sucanat (or Rapadura/Rapunzel) they are a delicious healthier cookie and come really close to Toll House. Once again, I made these ahead and froze them, but we’ve yet to see how they turn out when thawed!
  • Fruit, of course. Apples, and bananas, and grapes, and oranges.
  • Perhaps another family tradition – we bring homemade croutons to snack on. Seriously! It’s like garlic bread in cube form! Mama really likes them paired with grapes.
  • Trail Mix – I LOVE cashews and tried making the Crispy Cashews from Nourishing Traditions. They taste good, but don’t have that signature cashew flavor and butter-i-ness that I love. It may be that I let them soak a little too long (my oven was in use – poor planning).

And that’s most of it! It sure does seem like a lot more when you’re making it. πŸ˜› I’ve already had to fore-go making our own sandwich rolls and the salsa, but I’m still attempting crackers tomorrow morning… though, I must confess, we bought some at the store as back up! We leave in two days!

How do you plan nutritious food when traveling? How do you prepare?

I found the following pages and their comments helpful when planning: