Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"To Train Up a Child" negative book review

Michael Pearl is the author of the parenting book, "To Train Up a Child". I have repeatedly been asked to give my thoughts on the book. Here is my review of it.




It is not possible to give a full review of this book without also doing a review of its author. There are just too many weird and creepy things about Michael Pearl to ignore the 'red flags.' Here is my video giving more insight into his personality.





Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Easter photos

We had a nice Easter. We did the usual: the boys got new swim clothes, the girls got new dresses, the kids hunted for chocolate eggs, and we had a big ham dinner.






The only glitch we had was that I lost John's swim trunks after buying them, and two weeks later now, they have still not been found. Eeek!!!






A sweet lady at church took pictures of all the kids and I - it being Easter Sunday morning, my husband was busy baptizing.


Ugh, I love these people! They are such a joy to look at. 




Peter did not enjoy the photo shoot - poor little guy. He was still super cute.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Giveaway winners drawn and announced

Thank you to all who participated. Congratulations to the winners! Please leave me a comment with your address.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Family Photos

These are not technically "new," as they were taken last October and don't even have Peter in them yet. But they are new to me. 


Solomon (16), Isaac (14), John (12)


Miriam (10), Rebecca (8), Anna (6)


Teresa Wittenberger, wife of Paul Wittenberger of Framing the World Productions, took the pictures of the kids without my knowledge to surprise me with for Christmas. Then life with little kids happened, and I just got them this week. 


 Stephen (5), Boaz (3)


Chloe (1)


Aren't they just the cutest??


Here's the whole family and some of my husband and I - the only photos I knew of, as they were our church yearbook photos.



 includes Peter (7 months in utero)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Recipe for chocolate-chip orange scones (using einkorn)


This recipe is a sweet adaptation of my biscuit recipe. It is for chocolate-chip orange scones, but you can change your mix-ins for different flavors.

Chocolate Chip Orange Scones
 


yields: 8 large scones
prep time: 10 mins
bake time: 12-15 mins

 Ingredients:

for the scones:
3 cups all-purpose einkorn flour (works with regular flour, too)
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 tbsp (58 g) palm shortening, or cold butter cut into small pieces
3 tbsp (45 g) sour cream
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/8 tsp orange extract - optional
approx. 1 1/4 cup whole milk


for the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed



Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a large baking sheet.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, orange zest, salt, shortening/butter, and sour cream until the mixture looks crumbly. Add the chocolate chips and orange extract and stir briefly to incorporate evenly.

3. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly start pouring milk into the mixing bowl until the dough comes together and sticks to the paddle in a large clump. The dough should be damp and tacky to the touch, but not runny. Tip: Allow the dough to rest in the bowl for a minute, then check again to make sure it's not too dry. Einkorn is slow to absorb liquids and fats, and you may find that you need to add more milk to get the right consistency after the dough has had a chance to 'rest.' It is impossible to give an exact amount of milk as that will depend on several factors, such as how tightly you packed the flour, how soft your butter/shortening is, the humidity, etc.

4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a large surface generously covered in flour. Gently roll or pat the dough into a large circle of about 1" thickness. The top of the dough should be sprinkled with enough flour to no longer be tacky when worked with.

5. At this point, to get fluffy, moist scones, it is critical to layer the dough by 'folding and turning.' Simply fold the circle of dough in half, and pat into a circle of 1" thickness a second time. You may need to add more flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking, but be careful not to add more flour than necessary or the scones will become too dry.

6. Repeat the fold and turn, then pat the dough into a circle of 1" thickness a third time. With a large knife, cut the circle into 8 equal size wedges. Place wedges on the baking sheet, being careful not to overcrowd them.

7. Bake about 12-15 mins, until the scones are just starting to turn golden. Move to a cooling rack.

8. While the scones are baking, make the glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar and orange juice concentrate. Drizzle the scones with the orange glaze. Enjoy!

Other flavor options: The possibilities are endless. Here are some suggestions:



Lemon Blueberry: Use 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries in place of the chocolate chips. Replace orange zest with lemon zest. Make glaze from powdered sugar plus lemon juice or lemon extract.



Strawberry: Use 1 cup fresh strawberries, diced, in place of the chocolate chips. Add 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract. Replace orange zest with lemon zest. No glaze necessary.


Maple Pecan: Use 1/2 cup chopped pecans in place of the chocolate chips. Omit orange zest. Add 1/2 tbsp maple or vanilla extract. Make glaze from powdered sugar and maple syrup.

 (To print this recipe, please click on the green "Print" button below. You can highlight sections of this post to delete from the page before printing. If you do not see the green "Print" button, click on the title of this blog post to bring it up in its own window.)


 Here is a video of me making these scones:





If you are new to baking with einkorn, or thinking of making the switch, I highly recommend the Jovial Foods Einkorn cookbook.

 
 available on Amazon



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Once a Month Meals Spring Sale

Affiliate Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Once a Month Meals. I receive a small compensation for each membership referral completed through one of the hyperlinks below, at no additional cost to the new member. 

For the first time ever, Once a Month Meals is having a Spring Sale, and it's such a great deal I just have to tell you about it!


https://onceamonthmeals.com/?ref=zsanderson


You may know I am a big fan of freezer cooking. I rely on it to keep my sanity throughout the year, but especially after I have a new baby, I like to have about 6 weeks worth of meals ready to go. That's breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our large family for over 40 days! It sounds daunting, but freezer cooking makes it possible, and Once a Month Meals makes freezer cooking possible. 

Monthly membership is $16/month, yearly membership is $170/year. However, during the Spring Sale, the yearly membership is only $99! Use the discount code ONLYFORYOU99 to take over 40% OFF a Yearly Membership -- a full year of freezer friendly menus, meal plans, recipes, tips and more.

The sale ends Friday, April 13, 2018 at 11:59pm (EST).


https://onceamonthmeals.com/?ref=zsanderson


OAMM offers 12 different menu types: Traditional, Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, Real Food, Paleo, Keto, Diet, Vegetarian, Gluten Free Dairy Free, Allergen, Mini, and Baby & Toddler.



https://onceamonthmeals.com/?ref=zsanderson


With a membership, you can pick from any of their over 400 pre-made, fully customizable menus, or you can make your own custom menu from the database of over 6,000 freezer-friendly recipes. You can search the menus and recipes You can also search by a variety of other tags in such as Nut Free, Gluten Free, AIP, Diabetic, GAPS, Vegan, THM, and more!

Once you have found or made your menu, OAMM wll generate your instructions, grocery list, labels, etc. - everything you need to cook and freeze your meals in one day. The mini menus are a perfect way to get into freezer cooking, or if you have lots of little ones and cannot dedicate a full day to cooking.  

Hurry, this sale ends at midnight on Friday! Remember to use the discount code ONLYFORYOU99.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Ancient vs. modern wheat giveaway


Over two years ago, I switched our family away from all modern wheat, and went to using all einkorn flour instead. Even though we had been eating virtually 100% organic food for years by this point, which does not allow the use of GMO products, I did not realize that all wheat since approximately the mid-1800s had been hybridized and cross-bred in a form of crude genetic engineering that farmers have always practiced.

Grasses (grains) are unique in that both parent plants pass down a full set of chromosomes, which then add and 'stack up'. The original grains had 14 DNA strands. By combining two of these, the offspring plant now had 28 genes. When that was cross-bred with a third grain, we arrived at wheat with 42 chromosomes by the middle of the 19th century. Along with this genetic load came a plethora of genetic information, which by some is believed to be behind the wide-spread wheat and gluten intolerance we see today.


Einkorn is one of the original, 14-chromosome grains. Even though it contains a higher percentage of gluten than modern wheat does, the gluten is far less complex, and thus widely tolerated even by those who are gluten sensitive.

In our family, Isaac and Becca were struggling with seasonal asthma, and I would get it during pregnancy. I was also having skin issues from wheat such as itchy rashes on my arms and patches on my scalp. I did not have asthma at all with my most recent pregnancy, and we made it through the allergy season (Jan - March) that had in previous years always triggered severe asthma in both Isaac and Becca with close monitoring, but no incidents requiring a doctor's visit for either of them.

We still eat modern wheat when we go out to eat (like pizza), so it's not like we are 100% purist about it. At home, we use only einkorn. I bake all of our bread, and buy pasta and crackers ready from Jovial Foods. If it is not made with einkorn, I don't bring it into the house. But we are lax about it for eating out since none of us are actually acutely intolerant of modern wheat, it's just a way to preempt future gut and allergy issues.

I learned much of the information about modern wheat from a popular book called "Wheat Belly." It's a highly informative and easy read. I recommend it to anyone who is dealing with digestive issues, food allergies/intolerances, or wants to preempt these. Virtually all libraries have a copy of it, many even as an electronic or audio book. 

Wheat Belly does not promote einkorn, but rather only mentions it in passing. The book advocates for going grain free altogether, a step that I am not willing to take unless there were serious health concerns that demanded we cut out all grain. By eliminating modern wheat (which makes up the lion's share of all grain consumed by the average American), we prevent the digestive issues caused by modern wheat that would eventually force us to go grain-free.

Learning to bake with einkorn was rough. I consider myself an experienced cook/baker, but it took me a good two months before I was turning out bread that could be eaten rather than being good only for breadcrumbs. Einkorn is difficult to work with because the gluten is relatively weak - breads rise beautifully, only to collapse once the baking starts. The Jovial Foods einkorn cookbook is a true gem and sanity saver.

Recipes using no or quick leaven (like baking powder and baking soda) pretty much translate 1:1 for substituting all-purpose flour with einkorn, though ones that contain high amounts of fat (think: pie crusts, biscuits) are still tricky to work with because einkorn is slow to absorb fats. I haven't had much time to share most of my einkorn recipes on the blog, but there are some, such as a video tutorial for making einkorn sourdough, a recipe for biscuits, and a recipe for quick sandwich loaves.




And now for the giveaway: I am giving away

1. a new copy of "Wheat Belly", and

2. a new in the package bread proofing basket set that is used for the sourdough bread mentioned above.

These items will go to two separate people. To enter, simply leave a comment below. In the comment, please specify whether you would like item 1 or item 2, so I know which "hat" to throw your name into. Please do not say "both" just to get your name entered twice ;)

However, if you share this post through social media, you can leave a second comment for a second entry, and pick a different item than in your first comment. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, you can comment for a third entry.



Entries accepted through midnight on Sunday, April 15th, 2018. Winner will be announced in a follow-up post here in the blog, so please check back.


If you are new to baking with einkorn, or thinking of making the switch, I highly recommend the Jovial Foods Einkorn cookbook.

 
 available on Amazon

Friday, April 6, 2018

Recipe for einkorn biscuits (or shortcake)


A great biscuit recipe is elusive enough, let alone one that works well with einkorn. And by great, I mean a biscuit that does not crumble to sawdust, or fails to rise to beautiful, fluffy height. 

Einkorn is a wonderful flour to work with in some aspects. It is silky smooth, has a golden hue that comes out even more with baking, and is tolerated well by many who are otherwise gluten sensitive. 

The downside is that it is tricky to work with in recipes that use yeast/sourdough, or that contain high amounts of fat. This latter includes biscuits.

If you are new to baking with einkorn, or thinking of making the switch, I highly recommend the Jovial Foods Einkorn cookbook.

 
 available on Amazon


After much trial and error, I feel I have perfected my biscuit recipe using einkorn. This recipe makes 7 large biscuits. Multiply the recipe as needed - I always triple it for our large family.


Recipe for einkorn biscuits (or shortcake)

These are much bigger than they look, about 2" tall and 4" in diameter


yields: 7 large biscuits
prep time: 10 mins
bake time: 12-15 mins

 Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose einkorn flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp (39 g) palm shortening, or cold butter cut into small pieces
2 tbsp (30 g) sour cream
1 to 2 cups whole milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a large baking sheet or cast iron griddle.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, shortening/butter, and sour cream until the mixture looks crumbly.

3. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly start pouring milk into the mixing bowl until the dough comes together and sticks to the paddle in a large clump. The dough should be damp and tacky to the touch, but not runny. Tip: Allow the dough to rest in the bowl for a minute, then check again to make sure it's not too dry. Einkorn is slow to absorb liquids and fats, and you may find that you need to add more milk to get the right consistency after the dough has had a chance to 'rest.' It is impossible to give an exact amount of milk as that will depend on several factors, such as how tightly you packed the flour, how soft your butter/shortening is, the humidity, etc.

4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a large surface generously covered in flour. Gently roll or pat the dough to about 1" thickness. The top of the dough should be sprinkled with enough flour to no longer be tacky when worked with.

5. At this point, to get truly fluffy biscuits, it is critical to layer the dough by 'folding and turning.' Simply fold the dough in half like a sheet of paper, turn it 90 degrees, and roll out to 1" thickness a second time. You may need to add more flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking, but be careful not to add more flour than necessary or the biscuits will become too dry.

6. Repeat the fold and turn, then roll the dough to 1" thickness a third time. Cut with a large biscuit cutter and place on prepared baking sheet, being careful not to crowd the biscuits. Re-roll scraps and cut again. Tip:Using the rim of a glass will not yield biscuits that rise well as it seals the layers of dough together, preventing them from rising.

7. Bake about 12-15 mins, until biscuits are just starting to turn golden. Move to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

For shortcakes, simply add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the recipe in step 2, then proceed in the same way.



(To print this recipe, please click on the green "Print" button below. You can highlight sections of this post to delete from the page before printing. If you do not see the green "Print" button, click on the title of this blog post to bring it up in its own window.)

P.S. Check back soon for a little giveaway related to bread baking and ancient grains.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Birthday Trip

Or: Large Family Vacation, "keeping it real" edition

Sunday before last, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of my turning 29 years old. Earlier in March, my husband had talked me into turning the occasion into a little family vacation. 

I love traveling with my husband, and enjoy taking one of the kids with me whenever I travel by myself, but taking the entire family out of state is a major undertaking. One that can easily require a separate vacation just to recover from. Without some prodding, I would probably never leave the city. While I was packing, I did find myself remembering, "This is why we don't do vacations with the entire family any more." But once we actually get to our destination, I am always glad to have gone through the trouble of packing and driving down the road for hours with ten kids within touching distance of me. 

Packing - it's a feat, I tell you! Imagine how much packing would go into preparing for a 12-day vacation by yourself. That's how much packing/planning I have to do for every day that we will be gone. We were gone for 5 days - the equivalent of a 60-day solo trip. That is the same as TWO MONTHS worth of packing for a single person! My left eye is starting to twitch just thinking about the reality of large family logistics. 

You might be wondering, "Don't the older kids pack for themselves?" Oh, they sure do! Being thoughtful and responsible teenagers, they DO pack all the necessities such as video games for the road, and forget such small details as shoes or a clean shirt for church. So let's just say they still need some assistance. 

We rented a small U-Haul trailer to pull behind our van, which does not have much cargo space once every one of the 12 seats is taken. Having the trailer made for pretty easy loading and unloading of our cargo. Also, the house we were staying in had a washer and dryer, which I used every night. Next time, I think it will be easier to pack just two outfits per person, and keep washing and wearing them throughout the trip. It would cut down on the packing of clothes considerably. 

We left on Thursday morning after breakfast. Peter, who hates the car seat even for short runs to the store, did absolutely amazing and slept all the way from here to Indio, CA (a 4-hour drive) where we stopped for the lunch buffet at Round Table Pizza. We do not have Round Table in Arizona, so I went a bit hog-wild on the pizza.







From there, it was only another 2 hours drive to our destination, Tustin (in the L.A. area). The house had a heated pool and spa, so in spite of the cool and drizzly weather (a welcome change for us parched desert dwellers), the kids had fun blowing off steam in the pool.






For dinner, we went to Island's, where our family took up three tables to be seated. By the time we got back from that, it was well past everyone's bed time.




(Side note: One of the free crayons from this restaurant got left in a pants pocket, and destroyed an entire load of light laundry. Waaaaaaah! This load contained two new sweaters and my ring sling!)

On Friday, we met up at Knott's Berry Farm with my husband's brother's family (our kids' cousins) and friends of ours from AZ whom we had invited to join us on this trip. In all, our group consisted of 21 people. We had booked homeschool group tickets at the park in advance, for greatly reduced admission. It being a weekday, the lines were very short (5 - 20 mins) for all rides but one. The weather was perfect - sunny but cool.







 

 



 

We were at the park from the time they opened at 10 a.m. almost until 10 p.m. when they closed. My husband took the little kids for the first few hours, so I could do the rides with the older kids. Peter was with me, of course. I would "baby swap" him with someone else in our group whenever they would finish a ride, and I was allowed to enter through the exit, so we would not have to wait a second time for the same ride. 







Miriam, not a fan of roller coasters, chose to stay with the little kids. Becca and Anna were in my group. Becca is fearless, but Anna is a bit timid. I told her we'd do one of the milder rides first, the wooden roller coaster I had seen on the way in. I figured it being wood meant it did not go upside down, and would be a good introduction. Boy oh boy was I wrong!! This particular roller coaster, "GhostRider," does in fact not go upside down. Still, it is THE most radical ride at this theme park, and probably the most radical roller coaster I have been on in my entire life!! Poor little Anna was scared out of her wits the second the train left the station. It reached maximum speeds of almost 60 mph, and lasted THREE full minutes, which seemed like an eternity. Anna was literally scared for her life. I had forgotten to take my glasses off before we left the station, so I was clutching them with one hand, while trying to hold onto and reassure Anna with the other hand. Which effectively left me with zero hands to hang on for dear life. It was horrible. I could laugh about it afterward, but poor little Anna was so shook up, she started shivering every time she went on another ride the entire day. In better news, her teenage brothers were really impressed when they heard she had gone on that ride, though they were less impressed once they found out it was by mistake.

 

The rest of the day was much less eventful. Knott's Berry Farm is a truly unique and beautifully decorated theme park. Even just walking around, not riding any rides, is a treat in itself. In addition to the kiddie area, there were tons of attractions scattered throughout the park that were suitable for all ages.



 



By the time we got back to the house it was well past 10 p.m., and we pretty much just crashed into bed and passed out.



On Saturday, we slept in, had a late breakfast at Panera Bread, and then met up with the cousins at a local playground to spend some time with them before they had to head back that afternoon. We all had lunch at Olive Garden, and then they had to go back home to Sacramento, a 6-hour drive.



After they left, we quickly went back to the house to get ready for "Medieval Times," where we were going that afternoon. Our friends from Arizona who had joined us on this trip had gifted us with tickets for the entire family for my birthday! Whoa! We are very close with this family. They are always super thoughtful and generous. It was just like them to plan something so awesome!




The dinner show was something else! It exceeded all of our expectations. The two oldest girls had talked me into sewing them fancy princess dresses the week before our trip. Anna had chosen light pink fabric for hers, so after finding out that the dinner show did not serve utensils to maintain a medieval feel, I talked her into wearing a different princess dress for this outing and not ruin her brand new dress.

After the show, we went back to the house for another evening of playing in the pool before bed.


On Sunday, we once again had breakfast at Panera. On the entire trip, I never cooked a single meal, and even only served breakfast twice - cereal. Not having to do any cooking, shopping, or cleanup was a welcome change of pace!

 



My husband preached at our Los Angeles church plant in the morning and evening service. I had never been to this church, and was excited to meet the people there. They were all incredibly friendly. On top of that, they spoiled me with birthday cards, flowers, cake, ice cream, gifts, and other treats. They also gave my husband this funny shirt they had made for him. It lists the countries he has been banned from (not including the most recent, Jamaica).
 



Between the services, I took half of the kids to the beach to play in the ocean for a little bit. It was extremely windy, so we didn't stay long. It was perfect weather for kite surfing, though, which we had fun watching.






On Monday, after four days of playing much and sleeping little, we slept in ridiculously late, packed up, and headed home.

Two hours into the drive, before leaving civilization and heading into the desert, we stopped off at the Air Museum in Palm Springs and spent a couple of hours looking at their aircraft, touring a B-17, etc.





We again had lunch at Round Table Pizza for a last hurrah, and then we stopped in at Aldi, which has come to California in the last year. Rumor has it they will start opening stores in Arizona within the next two years, and none too soon! Aldi is a German store, and as such, they carry quite a few "made in Germany" foods, particularly candy. I loaded up on things I cannot get anywhere else. After that, we set out on the long drive across the desert, back home. Peter did really well in the car again.

We got into town around dusk on Monday. After we got home, the big boys unloaded the van and trailer while I got the little people to bed. We spent all day Tuesday getting caught up from the trip, and were back into our everyday routine by Wednesday.

It was a wonderful and memorable trip. There probably won't be very many more with the entire family before the older kids starting growing up and moving out to start their own families.

Good times!