In the Kitchen with Grandma Jo

I have been baking and cooking for the upcoming Holidays. Nope, definitely not good for the waist line as I do test them all.   This ritual reminds me of my Grandma Jo’s kitchen, always full of fantastic smells and always cookies in her cookie jar. There are times when I feel her in my kitchen shaking her finger at me for taste testing.

My latest culinary creation was “Cranberry-Ginger Chutney”

The ginger gives the cranberries a little kick. Here is a single batch of the yummy goodness. I double the recipe and bottle then freeze (leave room at the top for expansion) so I can have some all year around.

1 bag cranberries

2 cups spiced apple cider

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 tsp grated FRESH ginger (please remember to peel first)

1/2 tsp lemon, lime or orange zest (optional, I use lime)

1/2 tsp salt

In a medium sized pan, boil the cranberries with the apple cider 6 to 7 minutes until you hear the berries popping. Simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes. Then add the brown sugar, ginger, citrus zest and the salt. Let all this goodness simmer for another 20 minutes. Transfer to containers and refrigerate.

If making a large batch, pour the hot liquid (careful not to burn yourself) into canning jars. Invert (set jar on lid) so it will seal correctly. Store again in the refrigerator and give as gifts.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Life is GOOD!

Some mornings are frustrating from the very beginning. My first clue, as I am stumbling down the hall with my eyes half closed, I step into cold cat barf. I suppress the urge to scream as I hop down the hall on one foot so I don’t spread the joy.   I grab paper towels and spray cleaner and clean the gross crap off my foot first. When that is cleaned up I run for the coffee which is so very necessary to get me through my mornings. COFFEE!   But wait…..the fancy automated coffee maker did not start. So I push the manual button as I stare longingly at the empty carafe. Must have my coffee.

To kill time, I start my computer only to find there are three bazillion updates waiting to load! I watch the counter 3 of 468, well this is going to take awhile. I really didn’t need to get any work done, at least not in the near future, as my computer continues to count down the numerous updates. COFFEE!

I stumble back down the hall to get my glasses so I can see…..yes that is the kind of morning I am having, I forgot my glasses when I got up and I really need to see.   On my way back out to check on my coffee, I peek into my daughters bedroom to see her peacefully sleeping.   A beautiful calm look on her face and suddenly everything is fine. Life is good.

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Wake Up!!!!

Wake up and smell the coffee. Well I must be honest, it usually takes drinking at least two cups some mornings.

But don’t you wish you could some times shake people and tell them “Wake Up” the world is passing you by. There is so much to see and do. Smell the roses, the coffee.

My favorite smell is the hint of rain coming. I live in Arizona so rain is rare and the smell in the air, the promise that rain is coming is exciting to me. I usually run to my patio and scan the sky looking for the one cloud that has the rain and then pray it does not pass by my house.

There is nothing like a nice gentle rain while you sit on the patio with your cup of coffee in hand.

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Grow, Live Life

Things do not change; we change. ~Henry David Thoreau~

Unless we are willing to grow, change, challenge ourselves we will never become the person we were meant to be.  The best way to chronical our every changing lives is to journal.  You don’t need to journal evey day, try three times a week.  You will be amazed what you find out about yourself.

Spontaneous Natural Growth

1.Ignore negative input from family and others

2.Read

3.Study, Search, Investigate

4.Meditate

5.Discover Yourself

Developing and writing about our personal insights and thoughts can help us recognize our goals and passions in life.

Establishing and understanding our personal independent nature, uniqueness and our place in the design of life – past, present, and future – is an ongoing quest.

Learn from the past, live for today, and plan for the future.

“You should live every day like it’s your last day because one day you’re gonna be right.”   Ray Charles

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Allergy Journal

Allergy Journal

I have found over the last few years that I have more food allergies then you can shake a stick at!  It all started when I could not keep any food down and the doctors could not, with all their tests, figure out what was wrong with me.  This is when I started keeping a food/allergy journal.

A food journal is not a substitute for the guidance of your physician. Rather, it is a supplement.

Food allergies are quite common, especially in the young and as you start aging.

Begin by eliminating the most common triggers of food allergies:

  • Berries
  • Buckwheat
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Coconut
  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Egg Whites
  • Mustard
  • Nuts
  • Peas
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Sugar
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat
  • Yeast

Then after one week, with none of these foods in your diet, start introducing them back into your diet, slowly, one by one and write down, in your food journal, how you react to them.  Jot down if you seem tired, irritable, happy.  How do you feel, what is your mood, grumpy etc.  Do your joints burn, do you have dancing legs, sleepless nights.

Each time you eat, mark the time and write down every food you eat, (in a single colum) including brand names, beverages, and frying oils. Note any additions, toppings, sides or additives. The goal is to be as complete and truthful as possible. Do update your journal immediately after eating; this is one of those tasks that is easiest to do after each meal or snack. Write it down while you still remember.

If you experience symptoms, in the colum next to the foods, write down a brief discription of your symptoms/reactions. While your physician is in the best position to determine whether the most recent meal or any snack item has actually caused the symptoms, this is a good way to keep the journal organized.

A lot of people are allergic to the additives in processed foods.  I now make my own bread in order to avoid these additives.  I also grow a lot of my own vegetables to avoid GMO’s or Genetically Modified Foods.

Nightshade Allergy Symptoms

The first symp­toms of the affects of night­shades are sleepi­ness, abdom­i­nal cramps, diar­rhea, dancing legs within the first hour after ingest­ing and often migraine headaches within 24 hours. Many peo­ple suf­fer with chronic joint pain due to a sen­si­tiv­ity to night­shade plants, which will even­tu­ally lead to arthri­tis if ignored.

The nightshade family of plants are eggplant, peppers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, eggplants, pimentos, huckleberries, tomatillos, paprika, ground cayenne pepper and hot sauce and yes . . . even blueberries and tobacco. These plants have alkaloids which can cause inflammation and cause allergic reactions. If a person is allergic to one nightshade food, then there is a 75% chance they will be allergic to all nightshades.

Nightshade allergies seem to have more symptoms than other food allergens. Here is a partial list of symptoms which can result from a nightshade allergy:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Skin swelling

Treatment

MayoClinic.com states “The best treatment for an allergy to nightshade vegetables is to eliminate them from your diet. If you accidentally consume nightshade vegetables, use an antihistamine to treat minor allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, watery eyes and hives. Over-the-counter digestive medications will have no effect on digestive symptoms until the proteins pass.”

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/320713-allergies-to-nightshade-vegetables/#ixzz1tS6qr5FF

Eliminating foods in the nightshade family may provide pain relief for arthritis sufferers. Research suggests that some people may be sensitive to the alkaloids found in nightshade, or Solanaceae, foods. Along with joint pain, the nightshade foods may cause muscle spasms and digestive upset. You may find some common substitutes for the nightshade foods helpful.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/265055-list-of-foods-for-those-allergic-to-nightshade/#ixzz1tS7SrSc8

I am not an expert, but this is what helped me determine my food allergies!

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Milk Free Cheese Cake- A Year of Living Cheap

What did our parents ever do without the internet?  I use the internet every day to research prices and products I need.  I also use the internet for recipes for thing I want to make, bake and create.  I have a lot of food allergies and this is such a huge help in finding substitutes of items in the recipes.

I love cheese cake but am lactose intolerant.  A lot of people can not have milk products and their symptoms range from simple gas to those of us that have to run quickly to the bathroom!  Since I want to take a cheese cake to our family Thanksgiving dinner and I can find no bakery in my area that makes dairy free cheese cakes that don’t cost an arm and a leg, I did my research and here is what I found!

PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 1 HOUR

TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR, 30 MINUTES

YIELD: 1 9″ CHEESECAKE

INGREDIENTS:

  • For the Crust:
  • 1 1/4 cup finely ground dairy-free graham cracker crumbs (from either store-bought or homemade graham crackers)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 5 T. melted dairy-free soy margarine
  • For the Filling:
  • 4 8-ounce packages dairy-free cream cheese, such as Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • Egg Replacer for 4 eggs (I use Ener-G Egg Replacer) or, alternatively, 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti Sour Supreme
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • For the Topping:
  • Several tablespoons of dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti Sour Supreme
  • 1 21-ounce can cherry pie topping
  • Vegan Whipped Cream, for serving (optional)

PREPARATION:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9″ spring-form pan well with dairy-free soy margarine. Set aside.

2. Make the crust. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and white granulated sugar until well combined. Add the melted dairy-free soy margarine and mix until well combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up 2″ of the sides of the prepared pan. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack while preparing the filling.

3. Make the filling. Using a standing mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat the dairy-free cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to mix until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the Egg Replacer, beating until well combined, followed by the dairy-free sour cream and pure vanilla extract, beating well with each addition and scraping down the sides periodically to ensure even mixing. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cheesecake is lightly browned. Spread several tablespoons of dairy-free sour cream over the surface of the cheesecake to fill in any cracks. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely for 1-2 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to chill completely. Top with the cherry topping, then return the cake to the refrigerator for 1 more hour. Serve the cake cold with Vegan Whipped Cream if desired.

And here is the link I used. http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/Cherry-Cheesecake.htm  

Enjoy!

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Making Soy Candles – A Year of Living Cheap

Soy Candle Making 

This craft is an easy and inexpensive way to make wonderful gifts.  All you need is:

2 lbs Soy Flakes

2- Four cup glass measuring cups (microwave safe)

Scented essential oils

Wax Candle Color

8 Four ounce jelly jars or 10-12 votive jars

HOT PADS!!!!  Do not touch the measuring cup when taking it out of the microwave with your bare hands.  HOT, HOT!!

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Empty half of the 2 lb bag of soy flakes into each of the glass measuring cups.  Microwave one at a time on high for about 3 minutes.  Add your wax color and microwave one more minute.  If not melted, add 30 seconds at a time.  Mixture must be clear.  Place the measuring cup on a hot pad to protect your counter top.  Remember the hot pads for your hands.

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After you have melted all your wax, let the containers sit for about an 30 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.  Add your essential oil at this point.  I used lavender and peppermint which are my favorite.  I get my oils at my local herb shop, Desert Sage Herbs http://www.desertsageherbs.com/Desert_Sage_Herbs/Welcome.html

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While your soy mixture is cooling down, prep your jars with wicks.  I use wax wicks and not the wood wicks.  This is a personal choice as I have not had any luck with the wood wicks burning.  They usually flare, sizzle and then go out.

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use Tacky Wax to hold my wicks to the bottom of the jar.  Some people use hot glue, but I have had more success with the Tacky Wax (you can also use it to put posters on your wall without ruining your paint with holes!).

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After waiting the 60 minutes your mixture should be looking cloudy and a little slushy.  Now is the time to pour your candles.  Again use care as the glass will still be very warm.  After pouring your candles IF you want to add anything to the candle, now is the time.  I add lavender flowers to my lavender candles.  I sprinkle the flowers on top and use a tooth pick to push them down into the candle.

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Clean up is really easy, just use soap and hot water. 

Let the candles completely cool, then you can move them out of the way.  Wait 24 hours before you add any lids.

The cost for the wax is not too expensive.  I buy mine online and get 10  pounds for $20.00 which includes shipping.  Expect higher prices if you go to a hobby shop.

Go forth and create beautiful gifts for your friends or for yourself!

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