Monday, February 20, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I'm not talking about Christmas (even though I am kind of a fanatic). I'm talking about the start of planting season! This week is when I ought to be getting my tomatoes and bell pepper started indoors. Though I'm not sure I'll actually be able to because I don't have any good soil to start them in and really hate to pay for dirt. It's kind of like paying for toilet paper. That kills me. Anyway, back to the plants, we've had such a warm winter I'm going to be wild and risky and plant a bunch of my spring stuff soon, too. Or at least some of it.  As for my indoor plants, if I can get my hands on some decent soil and the other materials, I might try this method:

But I really don't know if I can get my hands on some plastic containers and old TP rolls -- We keep a little toilet paper around for guests and clients, but not enough to start a bunch of seeds with the leftover rolls. But this would be nifty if I can gather the materials. If not I'll just buy plants later in the season like last year. I've never had much luck getting peppers or tomatoes started from seed anyway. Have you?

This spring I am hoping to plant:


I am especially excited about the potatoes. We planted some last year and I'm not kidding when I say that those were the best potatoes I've ever had in my life. This year I have my potato tower that I hope will give us many more potatoes than we had last year (that is not my potato tower in the photo; mine was made using a bunch of scrap wood so it looks pretty old and beat up, but should get the job done anyway!)
Source: via Megan on Pinterest

I just have to figure out what kind of potatoes I'm supposed to plant in a potato tower. Only certain varieties will continually set new fruit as the plants grow. So if I plant the wrong kind, having the tower will be completely pointless.

And then there is the issue of chickens! We meant to get some last year but time escaped us and we never did. I don't want to make that mistake again, because having 4 laying hens ought to provide us with most of our egg needs.

So there's that.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cookie, cookie

We are not always "good". Shocking, isn't it? Many of David's clients and  most of our friends seem to expect that because David is a naturopath, and because we advocate a grain-free, refined sugar-free diet, we always, without exception, stick to said grain-free, sugar-free diet. Well let me tell you right now, that is not the case! Friends and clients alike both seem extremely pleased when they discover that "even" we choose to eat sugar or grains from time to time. Sometimes both at once! *gasp* Unfortunately some people take our occasional, intentional splurge as permission to do the same, and to do it often and without much thought. I wish I could convey to everyone how important it is not to do that very often, and most especially when you have significant health problems you are trying to control or reverse. David and I are both very healthy individuals, for the most part. And we stay that way because we rarely stray from our healthy diet! But, as I said, we do occasionally choose to have something that is most assuredly not beneficial for our health. For Valentine's Day, that something was chocolate chip cookies.

Now these are not just any chocolate chip cookies. Oh no. We try to never "waste" a splurge with anything less than fantastic. These are some of the biggest, fattest, yummiest chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. The recipe itself is pretty basic, but it is the method of preparation that is unique and supposedly makes the difference between these being ordinary cookies and the extraordinary cookies that they are. I got the recipe from a friend years ago, and haven't made any other chocolate chip cookie recipe since (well, I mean, I have my grain-free recipe, but as for "real" chocolate chip cookies, I don't feel the need to ever try another recipe after this one). Sadly I've fallen out of touch with this friend, but I'll always remember her for many, many reasons, and this is only one of them. This recipe was sent to me nameless, so in memory of our friendship, I will call them: Little Tong's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Little Tong's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups + 2 tbsp unsifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp *butter, melted and cooled (original recipe called for unsalted; as a rule I prefer salted butter)
1 cup **brown sugar (dark or light, doesn't make a big difference)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks

Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).

Combine flour, salt, and baking soda together; set aside.

By hand, or with an electric mixer, combine butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in chocolate to taste.

And here is where we come to the unusual method of preparation I mentioned! In the eloquent words of my friend (who, at the time was maybe 15?), "it's amazing, it's what makes the cookies sooo much better and not so smushed and brown looking like they normally do." She says, "Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal parts. Turn smooth rounded edges towards floor with jagged surfaces towards the ceiling, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough's uneven surface." Place dough onto cookie sheets (she says 9 dough balls per 20X14 sheet, lined with parchment paper -- I'm too lazy to do that, and don't actually own a cookie sheet, so I just put as many as I think I can fit without them touching, onto whatever baking dish I'm going to bake them on. I've been using my Pampered Chef casserole dish and it works just fine). Bake for 15-18 minutes, reversing the cookie sheet half-way through baking. Cookies are done when the cookies are very lightly golden brown on the edges but the centers are still soft and puffy.

Serve warm with a glass of cold raw milk (ok, so any milk will do, but I cannot abide the gross aftertaste of pasteurized milk, whether it's organic or not), or store in an airtight container (and good luck trying to make them last long enough to store!).

Dough can be frozen for up to one month, or stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. I stored mine for three days and now have really dry dough to try to roll into balls. No fun. Heed my warning. Eat them faster than I did. ;)

*The original recipe called for butter, I didn't have that much butter this time, so I used 1 stick of butter and then 4 tbsp coconut oil, and I couldn't tell a difference compared to when I've made them in the past, so if you need or want to substitute some, that's fine!
**I had no brown sugar so I used all white sugar and added 2 tsp molasses. This gave the cookies more of a molassesy smell and flavor than I intended, but was still good. To more closely replicate brown sugar, I would suggest 1 tsp molasses.