Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Homemade Salad Dressings

My friend Ashley recently sent me some of her yummy salad dressing recipes. She gave me permission for me to post them on my blog so all of you can enjoy them too!

Ranch Dressing
2 cups mayonnaise
2 cups yogurt (or part sour cream)
1/2 cup buttermilk (omit if using all yogurt)
2 TBS lime juice (lemon works okay)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS each dried chives and parsley
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Place mayonnaise and yogurt in a large container. Slowly stir in buttermilk to avoid lumps. Add remaining ingredients.

Thousand Isand Dressing
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup yogurt
1 TBS lime juice
1 TBS each chopped onion and dill pickle
1 TBS honey
1 TBS ketchup
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients.

Dijon Tarragon Dressing (one of my favorites)
3 cups olive oil
1 cup lemon juice
1 TBS salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. tarragon
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey

Curry Fruit Dressing
(good with tropical lettuce salad containing pineapple, cashews, etc.)
2 cups yogurt
1 cup mayonnaise
Squeeze of lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder
1 TBS honey
1 TBS chopped cilantro

Friday, December 19, 2008

Soaked Wheat Bread

There are two ways that I make soaked bread. I'll put the "easier" version first, and then the die-hard healthy no-white-flour version at the bottom! ;-)

Soaked Wheat Bread

Step One:
Mix all together, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours:
  • 4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 12 c. freshly milled whole wheat flour (I use Prairie Gold or Hard White, sometimes adding in some Hard Red as well. Hard Red Wheat is strongly flavored and dense, which adds a nice nutty touch to the bread but you don't want to use it exclusively. It should be mixed half-and-half with Hard White Wheat.)

Step Two: Once your dough has set for 12-24 hours, "proof" your yeast:
  • 3 Tblsp active dry yeast
  • a bit of honey
  • 1/3 c. or so of very warm water (but not hot)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. unbleached white flour
Once it begins to bubble up, pour into dough and mix together well. This is easiest if you have a powerful mixer that can knead bread, but you can do it in a large bowl with your hands as well.

Your dough will probably be pretty sticky at this point, so add a cup or two of unbleached flour until it is a good consistency.

Put your dough aside and let it rise until doubled. Because your dough isn't warm, it will take several hours. To speed up the process you can put it in a warm room, near the fireplace or a heater, etc.

Once the dough has risen, shape it into loaves or rolls, let rise again and then bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes (rolls) or 35-45 minutes (loaves).

Alright, now for the die-hard health-nut no-white-flour version!

~ In Step One, instead of 12 cups of flour, add more like 15 - enough flour to make a good dough.

~ In Step Two, your it will be very stiff at this point, and hard to mix the yeast in. So you will want to score the top of the dough with a knife, and then pour the yeast mixture on it and let it absorb for a few minutes. Then spend several minutes with your hands working it in. I suppose a strong mixer with dough hooks would do the job quite nicely, but I never have done it that way.

You shouldn't have to add any more flour after step 1, so all of your flour will be soaked.

This is how I have always made it in the past, but when I made bread yesterday I decided to try using a few cups of unbleached flour and it was so much easier! ;-) White flour from the store doesn't need to be soaked because it doesn't have bran in it, which is where the phytic acid is.

Apparently my experiment was a success: my brother took a bite of bread and said "Who made this bread? It's GOOD!"

Sorry I don't have pictures. My camera batteries were dead. ;-(

I'd love to hear from you: Is there another way y'all make soaked bread? I'm still learning about it and would love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Savings at Pfaltzgraff

Our local Pfaltzgraff got twenty more pallets in yesterday, and when I was there this morning a truck arrived with 22 more pallets! :-) I'm happy! LOL

This morning I snagged a few more really good deals! I'm all set on flatware now, and I thought these "souffle dishes" would be very practical and nice. They're stoneware so I can bake things in them, but they are elegant so I can serve in them and the metal carrier adds a pretty touch and eliminates any need for a hot-trivet on the table.

Also pictured is a colander that I bought a few days ago and a serving bowl I got last week. Neither of them made it into the last picture. ;-)

Here's the price breakdown, as best as I can remember it:

Flatware for 16 plus serving utensils: $36.00
Two "Souffle dishes": $5.38 each
Serving bowl: $5.00
Colander: $7.50 (my friend Selah and I both had our eyes on these colanders for quite awhile, waiting for the price to go down. I mean, it was only 60% off folks! What a rip off! But they never slashed the price down farther so we eventually gave in and spent a whole $7.50 for it.)

Here's a picture of my latest purchases:

And a close-up of the flatware:

Coming Soon - Soaked Grain Bread Tutorial

I've had a lot of people ask for details about how I make a "soaked" bread. So watch for a tutorial in the next few days! I hope to bake bread this week and I will take pictures of the process and write out detailed instructions of how you can do it too. It's so simple and absolutely delicious! ;-)

For those of my readers who are unclear as to what the "soaking" process does, in a one-sentence explanation it breaks down the anti-nutrients and enzymes that are very difficult to digest, and releases the good nutrients so your body can absorb them easier. If you want a more detailed explanation, visit, and search her site for "soaking grains". She has two very good and detailed (yet easy to understand) posts about it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Peanut Soup

It sounded weird, but I was desperate for some soup to warm me up on this cold winter day. So I tried it, and it was surprisingly good!

Peanut Soup

Saute in soup pot:

1 large onion, diced
dash cayenne pepper
3 tblsp butter

1 c. all-natural peanut butter (unsweetened)

Slowly mix in:
6 c. water

Then add:
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic

Let simmer for a few minutes, then blend in pot with hand-held blender. Serve with a garnish of Creme Fraiche.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Savings at Pfaltzgraff

If you have a Pfaltzgraff store near you, you'd better go run and check it out quickly!

Pfaltzgraff is closing all of their retail and outlet stores and switching to only online-sales and within departments stores such as J.C. Penney. So they're clearing out all of their store inventory and giving customers some really great deals.

Mom and I have been going to our Pfaltzgraff outlet several times a week, sometimes even multiple times per day! We're finding such good deals... :-)

Here's a breakdown of everything we've purchased and the prices. Note the "original price" is the Outlet price - retail is even more!

- 12 woven placemats (original price: $60) - $42
- 2 knife blocks (
original price: $10 ea) - $5 ea
- set of four stoneware measuring cups (original price: $10) - $3
- large floral design stoneware pitcher (original price: $30) - $4
- large floral design stoneware pitcher (original price: $30) - $3
(it was cheaper the next time we went!)
- large floral design stoneware platter (original price: $30) - $3
- 2 melamine vegetable platters (original price unknown) - 20 cents each
- "Winterberry" plate (original price: $5.99) -$2.49
- Christmas teacup (original price: $15) - $4
- Large votive candle display (original price: unknown, at least $15) - $4.50
- Melamine party tray (original price: $13) - $2.50
- (4) "Heritage" dinnerware, 40 piece set (8 place settings plus a few serving pieces) (original price: $59.99) - $18.00 each
-(2) stoneware pie dishes (original price: $10) - $2.39 each
- Batter bowl (original price:$20) - $4
- Utensil Crock (original price:$15) - $6
- Mug (original price: $10) - $1
- "Blue Meadow" beverage pitcher (original price: $30) - $6
- "Blue Meadow" salt and pepper shakers (original price: 15) -$3
- "Blue Meadow" cream and sugar (original price: $20) - $4
- Cheese board (original price: $30) - $2.39
- Creamer (original price: $20) - $3
- 1 gallon milk pitcher (original price: $30) - $6
- sugar bowl and creamer (original price: $20) - $6

Now, if I did my math right,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Movie Review: King Corn

Join two college graduates as they go on a journey to discover what they are eating.

A visit to a hair analysis laboratory reveals that their hair is "made of corn". Thus begins the quest to find out why everything they eat contains corn.

Follow the guys as they move to Iowa and farm one acre of corn. Learn along side of them as they plow, plant, spray, and harvest. Watch them as they attempt to make corn syrup in their own kitchen after being refused a tour of a corn syrup factory. Find out why the Liberty Link corn they grew wasn't even edible eaten fresh out of the field.

Where will the corn go once it's harvested? The boys travel around the US visiting farms and processing plants to become informed about what happens to the corn once it is harvested out of the field. Will their corn be fed to cattle that are being fattened up for slaughtering in a massive feedlot? Will the starch be removed and used in baked goods? How about the corn being converted to corn syrup and used in virtually every pre-packaged item sold in a convenience store?

Watch this highly informative and enjoyable film and you'll learn what modern farming methods are doing to our food, and why we really are what we eat.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Palm Sugar

I recently discovered this amazing resource - Coconut Palm Sugar!

This ancient sweetener is very low on the Glycemic Index, with a rating of 35 (honey, usually considered "low GI" has a rating of 55). Even better, it is so cheap and tastes wonderful. It's like a mild maple sugar. Yum!

You can't find this in supermarkets, and although you can order it online through health-food websites it is usually quite expensive there. So why not just purchase it from where they use it all the time, where it's commonplace and therefore inexpensive? Like an oriental/ethnic market?

Yesterday during mom's eye-doctor appointment, my sister and I drove around town finding little Asian markets to check out. We came home with a whole bunch of delicious finds, including this coconut sugar. When we bought it, it was in a solid block (picture forthcoming). But it grated easily on the hand-grater and also with the fine-shredder on our Bosch, and now it's in a granulated state that is very practical to use.

Note that when you find this in the store it will most likely be called "Palm Sugar". Read the label closely (whatever parts of it you can find in English!) to make sure it's made from the sap of the coconut flower. There are other types of palm trees besides the ones that grow coconuts, and the glycemic index of those is higher, from what I understand.

We were nibbling on this sugar last night and can't wait to start making things with it! It would make the best vanilla ice cream in the world. And would add a delightful "mapley flavor" to pumpkin pie.

If you don't know where any ethnic markets are in your area, get out your phone book and look them up. You won't be disappointed. There are so many ingredients that we consider "specialty" (and therefore "expensive"), that are commonplace in their cooking and so they have them at a very decent prices! For example:

-Once grated, this 1 lb. block of sugar became 3 cups. It cost a grand total of $1.20.
-We bought a 2 lb bag of unbleached sea salt for $2.25
-Coconut milk and cream was $0.99/can.

Check out those little ethnic markets! :-)

Note: this post is part of Frugal Fridays. Visit Biblical Womanhood for more frugal suggestions!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yet ANOTHER use for Baking Soda

So y'all know that baking soda is like the "all-purpose-everything", right? It's an amazing scouring powder for grimy sinks,
 you can use it in place of shampoo, adding a teaspoon to spaghetti sauce will cut the acidity, etc.,etc. It's a wonder-product. I love it and use it for about everything.

Well Dr. Mercola has revealed yet another use for baking soda. It's quite astounding. How can such a simple product from the grocery store do so many things?

Let alone CURE CANCER????

Check it out, folks!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Candlelight Dinner

With my parents gone for the evening and the older boys at a Bible Study, the kids and I decided we needed to have some fun. So we planned a special candlelit dinner. The menu? Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream!

And why not? With fresh raw cream and natural peanut butter, there's plenty enough protein and quality fats to consider it a balanced meal! ;-)

Here's the recipe we came up with:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

3 c. raw (unpasteurized) cow's cream
1/4 c. unsweetened baking cocoa (next time I would up it to 1/3 for a little more richness and depth to the flavor)
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. raw organic cane sugar
1/2 c. natural chunky peanut butter

Mix all ingredients together and freeze according to ice cream maker directions.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Avoiding Pesticides in Your Food

Choosing organic produce grown by local farmers is your best option, but we all know that isn’t always possible. When purchasing commercially grown produce, try to avoid the ones that are grown with the most pesticides and chemicals, and stick with the ones lower in pesticides. Here’s a list to guide you in your shopping:

Foods High in Pesticides:


Bell Peppers



Chile Peppers

Imported Grapes







Foods Low in Pesticides



(although I've heard conflicting reports about insecticides)



Brussel Sprouts














Getting Started: Recommended Proportions of Macronutrients in your Daily Diet

Image courtesy of the Nutritional Therapy Association