Late Night Sweet Tooth

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You may have noticed a recent Facebook post about my late  night sweet tooth last week.  I try* to follow a rule in my kitchen:  If I don’t want to eat it, then don’t keep it in my home.  If I break that rule,  I risk waking what I consider to be my very own super power:  sugar makes me high.  I’m not talking about that sugar twitch or spazzy need to run around the block.  My super power is a warm, slow, intense sensation that rises from the base of my skull and melts into my ears and head.  A relaxed giddiness.  A silky smile.  3 delicious seconds after each bite. 

Outstanding sweets – dark chocolate, rich ice cream, some perfect combination of flavors in the perfect bite of a perfect dessert….conjure the same result.  So, you can understand how I can justify my way through a carton of coconut ice cream.  Of course, I need that handful(s) of chocolate chips.  Chocolate is good for me.  Yes?  No sooner after I indulge, I conjure self-induced amnesia and a plan to work out tomorrow.  Bring balance back to my world.  Absolutely keep a ‘cleaner’ kitchen.

Mug Shot: Scoochmaroo's 5-minute Chocolate Cake

Until nights like Tuesday, when the constant good decisions boil down into URGENT sugar withdrawal.  In seconds, my brain tallies all random ingredients I possess and presto!  I introduce you to:  The Mug Cake.

Really, I’m surprised by how many woman still haven’t been exposed to one.  It’s really a darling little concept.  A few minutes of my time, easy pantry ingredients baked in a lovely mug = female bliss.  Of course, when my URGENT sugar cravings run my show…I add a little ‘excitement’ to the process.  I do not measure.  I don’t really check the ingredients.  I locate a big-ass mug.  Guilt can creep in quickly, so the goal is to go, go, go without distraction.  Extra cocoa.  1/2 the oil.  less sugar.  egg whites.  Should add applesauce, but that would slow me down.  Soon enough, I have something that resembles batter.  Delicious chocolate batter.  Pour it in my big-ass mug.  Nuke it.

Now.  This type of cooking usually works for me, but I should really know better when it comes to baking.  Despite the beautiful rise of the cake above the rim of the mug (beautiful beautiful chocolate!), my final product was – nondescript.  It looked like cake in a mug.  It’s texture conjured visions of playdough and Fisher Price plastic.   It couldn’t easily cut it, but would could move it around as a single unit when impaled with a fork.  Would you know?  I ate it any way.

Yesssssssssss.  Low point.  (head hangs).

I ate it any way.

Frenzied desperation is a point of no return.  When I go so far as to bake (ehem) something, it’s going to be eaten.  And it was horrible.  Just horrible.

While on my elliptical machine the next morning, I knew I needed to do two things:  Give you a better recipe and find me a proven gluten/soy/dairy-free version.  First, you:

5-Minute Chocolate Cake (by scoochmaroo at instructables.com).

5 STAR RATING from hundreds of sugar fiends, just like me.  Now, I’m off to discover MY kind of mug cake that meets my dietary needs.  Once found, I WILL share!  After all, a great cake recipe is a great cake recipe – right?

Until next time,

~Edhead
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free (living better as of 3/10/12)

Qi (chee) on this.

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It’s time to update you about my long-time health drama.  I have had a sour stomach most of life.  Just before I chose to stay at home,  it completely whomped me.  Throat, esophagus, stomach.  Likely stress-missed meals-stress-missed sleep-stress- induced….numerous doctors, tests, meds and diagnoses culminated into one thing – not solving my problem.  Finally, I quit what doctors told me to do.  I stopped all medication.  I changed the way I ate, in an effort to eliminate “pain” foods.  I loyally attended yoga (stress reduction/better circulation) and even started acupuncture sessions.  I wanted to fix myself – naturally.

*Enter new alternative medicine doctor.*

WOW.  Her therapies literally swept pain out of my body.  I FELT it.  And in the process of treatment, she coached me about lifestyle and diet.  She described me as an ‘earth’ body (whaa?) and someone who deals with spleen Qi deficiency.

Okay…..

I researched it.  I was shocked, to say the least, to find case after case about people with the same issues and a common theme for resolving the problem:  diet.  Over and over again….all of my crazy symptoms didn’t seem so crazy.  Was it possible that there was something to it?  After all, Chinese medicine has been around for a heckuva lot longer than western medicine.  There must be something to it.

According to literature, I am eating all the wrong things.  My favorite foods essentially ‘weaken’ my spleen Qi.  (stay with me).  Instead, I need to drop the last of my dairy intake.  Wheat is out.  Refined sugar.  High carb fruits- gone.  Uncooked veggies.  Cold food (ice cream!), soy, greasy food, bananas and anything unnatural -moot.  Instead, my new diet is rich in other grains, cooked beans, garlic, baked root veggies, mushrooms, some red meat, basil and various strong spices.

And here I am.

My first efforts at cooking this food introduced me to TarteletteBlog’s version of Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice.  I found it on Pinterest, which continues to be an awesome source of information and inspiration.  After tweaking it to meet my needs, it was awesome and substantial enough to leave me fulfilled.  Better yet, my husband liked it.  Best yet, it’s a great way to incorporate one of my favorite veggies:  butternut squash!

Butternut Squash =


Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice by TarteletteBlog

So far, I don’t feel better….or worse.  But I just had that surgery….AND I admit I cheat here or there.  After all, life is too short to absolutely cut out chocolate (dark please) and frozen desserts (hello, ice cream).  I just need to incorporate loads of the ‘good’ foods, until I can feel fulfilled by those means.  Sigh.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Before I go, guess what?  I’m in the process of updating my NEW blog title and site.  Talking about work-to-home is limiting and frankly, it doesn’t fully express what I’m about.  Change is refreshing.

Til’ then,

~Edhead

Love is in the Air

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and POOF!  I’m back in the blogosphere.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’ve been laying around my house because of my hernia surgery 2 weeks ago.  This down time is frustrating.  Luckily, I also caught a bug – Pinterest !  I have been “pinning” and sharing a wealth of inspiration with friends…all pulled from the internet.  What a perfect organizing tool.  All of my decorating/recipe/inspirational thoughts are quickly filed, so my brain has room for creative thinking.  LOVE it.

Despite doctor’s orders…I couldn’t stop myself from moving at least some of this time.  It’s amazing how pain killers can make you feel productive LOL!

First family movie night, featuring Free Willy 2.  The husband and oldest son where off to see a basketball game…or the movie might have changed.

Movie Snack and yes, I hit up pretzel M&M clearance after Christmas

Inspired by Valentine’s Day and a belly full of M&Ms, I launched a crafty project.  It was so fun and easy!  Thanks to the inspiration weibo.com/wodiy, the entire project took about 30 minutes.  You can see the original instructions here, but you can also enjoy our pics below.  The felt I bought was a little flimsy, so I incorporated a bead between hearts – double strung – so that the bead helped hold the hearts in place on string.  I plan to use it for classroom decorations today.

Grab your favorite felt rectangle.

Fold it in half and sew 1/4" seam down folded side.

Open your felt like a book.

Now fold the opposite way from the first fold. Sew another 1/4" seam down the length of the open seam.

Repeat.

Now flatten your heart and cut it into 1 to 2" strips. It doesn't have to be exact.

Ta-Dah!

Cut a length of thread (we used about 5 feet). Thread a sewing needle and push through your heart.

Keep threading in any pattern you like. It will look something like this. (Those are tiny beads between hearts.)

Fun!

While my daughter and I were being crafty, we also made some delicious whole wheat bread.  Mmmmmmm!

Bubbly goodness.

= Tummy Goodness!

See how uneven the tops are?  If I had taken the time to shape the dough nicely, these would have baked up a little prettier.  But the taste of homemade bread makes you forget about that.  Mmmmm…

Here’s our recipe, courtesy of my favorite recipe website, AllRecipes.com:

Ingredients:
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45
degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions:
Step One
In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey.  Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine.  Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
Step Two
Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt.  Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour.  Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch.  This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough.  Cover with a dishtowel.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Step Three
Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves.  Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
Step Four
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake.  Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard.  Cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!  We ate ours with South Dakota honey.
I am going to try really, really hard to share more Edhead thoughts in 2012.  I am very inspired by all of my creative friends.  Stay tuned!
-Edhead

Oatmeal

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I have a very distinct memory of my grandpa and his habit of eating hot oatmeal for breakfast.  One morning, he ushered me forward until we both leaned over the hot steam of favorite porridge on the table in front of him.

“There’s only one way to eat oatmeal,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.  “First, you add the butter.  Then, brown sugar and plenty of it.  Wait…while it melts a bit.  And the best part of it all is to add just the right amount of milk…until it swirls. ”

I watched with intense delight as the milk tugged at the pool of sugary cream in the middle of his bowl.  It did look perfect.  My grandpa was perfect, in my young mind.  I tucked that ‘important’ moment away and I ate oatmeal just like that for the next 25 years of my life.

Now here I am in present day, consuming oatmeal void of sugar or fat.  Nuts and fruit are “ideal.”  Because I’m worried about health?  Maybe.  My grandpa died of a sudden heart attack just a few years later.  More so, I know it’s the best power breakfast for the ‘on the move’ mom.  That’s what the experts tell me.  I admit to my own sort of mechanical bandwagon when it comes to eating.  If They tell me, I will generally alter my food intake the same day.  Then, I move onto my kids.  Obsessing about anything they eat outside of my presence has been a passion of mine, but not so much this year.  School lunches have improved.  I don’t stop breathing when my son eats cheesy bread once a month.  I let my sons drink pop every so often.  Why?  Because I happily drank from my grandparent’s stash of glass-bottled grape soda growing up.  I sneak my dark chocolate.  I have been known to claim dessert as my one and only meal item.  I never suffered from cavities until I was 35 (and then only two).  I don’t struggle with my weight, despite my social grumps and groans.

You could say I appreciate the taste and essence of food more than ever.  More often than not, my oatmeal must be served plain.  The nuts and fruit are reserved for my ‘rebellious’ moments.  I often eat a bowl of plain Cheerios when I’m not eating oatmeal.  Water, instead of milk or juice.  Crispy toast and an array of vegetables.  Little snacks all day long.  I do fit the other stuff in – minus the guaranteed pain culprits (spice, acid or fried).  But, I pay…and unfortunately, payment terms are often 10 days to a month.  The experts tell me it’s a nerve disorder.  I think the experts have left me to tread water on my own.  I don’t believe they want to acknowledge that the medicine they told me to take for over a decade was incorrectly prescribed.  They don’t want to admit that the long-term side effects may have permanently impacted me, worsening a less intense condition.  They particularly don’t want to admit that they just don’t know.

I know I sound bitter, but I’m not.  You could say I’m complaining, but I’m not.  I’m just trying to make do with what I have …and I do become a little bit desperate when the nerves go South.  Them’s the facts.  I can only make the best of it.  So, tonight….I decided that oatmeal, Cheerios or toast just wouldn’t do.  I whipped up my version of comfort food:  cornmeal mush.  There’s only one way to eat it.  First, you add the butter.  Then, brown sugar and plenty of it.  Wait…while it melts a bit.  And the best part of it all is to add just the right amount of milk…but that’s really out of the question now.  So I added more sugar.  Rebellious.  Perfect.

Happy birthday, Grandpa.  I miss you.  I hope you have oatmeal where you are.

Less is more.

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Yesterday, I spent a whopping 4 hours putzing in my kitchen and dining room.  Putzing, then tweaking.  Tweaking, then cleaning.  Cleaning turned into an all out offensive attack on any can, jar, box, appliance, dish or linen that failed to make my heart warm and fuzzy.  My results:  2 boxes full of donations (courtesy of still unused wedding gifts)….one huge garbage bag stuffed with, well, garbage…and much more order in space.  Getting rid of the stuff did make me feel like a cold-hearted B, but the act of keeping only what I use and LOVE felt good.  Really good.  Less was more.

In the process of doing all of this, I wore S.P.A.N.D.E.X yoga pants.  Yup, I did.  Why bring this up, you ask?  My spandex is starting to feel TOO BIG (woot woot!)  I am down 18lbs and a couple of inches on the waist and hips.  Partly from health issues last spring.  Partly from my new life-diet void of dairy and white flour.  Mainly, I exercise.

I’ve lost significant weight 3 times:  all post-baby blubber.  Nice people would always say nice things about my ‘amazing transformation.’  Each time they said it I thought, thanks!  Wait, what the hell?  Was I really THAT fat?

This time, I was in the clear.  No post-baby thing.  Just exercising my free will to take care of myself.  So when my kid’s teacher innocently gasped and then whispered, “you are so much thinner!  Wow, you really lost weight!  Oh, were you working at that?”

I pause.

I smile.

“Well I was sick for a few months.  I’m eating differently now.  And I like to do yoga and stuff.  Thank you for noticing.”

And we go about our business – the teacher none the wiser about my internal woes.  Was I really that heavy before?

Well, heck.  I guess I shouldn’t care.  I feel great.  Less of me DOES feel good.  And because I’m a person who likes feedback on my work, I am even more inspired to kick my butt on the yoga mat.  Less of me feels like more.

Before I leave you, I have to share daughter’s recent art work.  Completely innocent:  the couple is forming a band.  She thought the police officer would like to come and watch.  Good grief.  I hope this never falls into the hands of a child psychiatrist.