Friday, January 27, 2012

Too good to be true. Except it is. True I mean.

I'm about to do what I first thought of as "shameless" advertising. I could benefit if you buy the item I'm about to rave about. But then I realized that it would be ever so much more shameful for me not to share this amazing deal with you, than to share it, knowing it could result in a gift certificate for moi. So what is this amazing deal? Recently I noticed that Tropical Traditions put their coconut oil for pets on sale. An entire gallon for $31 (w/shipping)! I discovered upon further investigation that their coconut oil for pets is perfectly fit for human consumption and said to myself, "Sweet deal!" The only difference between this coconut oil and the oil they sell for human consumption is simply hasn't been through the deodorizing process, which leaves it with a "smokey" flavor. "Okay," thought I, "For a total of $31 for a gallon of coconut oil, I've gotta try it!" And I did. Two weeks ago I ordered it, and two days later it shipped. We opened it up as soon as it arrived, very anxious to see what this coconut oil would be like. It is mildly smokey. But you know what I've found? That flavor is truly delicious in many of the dishes I commonly prepare. My oven baked potato wedges are always amazing (yes I did just say that), but being tossed in smokey coconut oil first? OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD! You name the food, it was good! I wouldn't probably recommend baking with it for obvious reasons (mildly smokey cake? No, thank you!), but all sorts of savory foods combine beautifully with this hint of smokiness. Today I noticed that they are now offering a coupon code for free shipping, so you can get an entire gallon for a mere $21! Enter code "123001" and receive free ground shipping on your entire order! But hurry! This free shipping offer is only good until January 30th! And if you're a new customer, be sure to go to their site through one of my links so I can earn a gift certificate!

And if you have the money and love your little pet, why not buy him a gallon while you're at it? ;)

Special Price! 1-gallon - Organic Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil for Pets

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mini Lemon Loaf

Yesterday on a private journaling community I've been a part of for a decade now (yeah, if that doesn't make you feel old!), a friend posted a recipe for a Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf. It sounded amazing! It looked amazing! And I felt in my heart that I absolutely had to have some for myself. Ha! I was even prepared to give in and use some of those unhealthy ingredients I had leftover from my holiday baking, all purpose flour and sugar.

But my conscience got the better of me yet again, and I had to instead create a healthier version! I was also missing several ingredients for the original recipe and I replaced the all purpose flour with almond flour, ground flaxseed, and coconut flour. I did use some real sugar, which I almost never do, but I am running low on my sugar-alternatives and felt it wisest to save those for my Etsy orders. So I used a combination of honey and refined sugar in this. It's sitting on the stovetop cooling as I type and I cannot wait to give it a try! The center sank in a bit, so apparently I need to do some tweaking to the recipe, but it smells fantastic and I can't wait to taste!

Lemon Loaf

3 tbsp almond flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 ½ tbsp flaxseed, ground
1 tbsp coconut flour
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda

2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp honey
3 capfuls lemon extract (yes, I am nearly always too lazy to measure extracts with spoons!)
1 capfuls vanilla extract

⅛ cup (2 tbsp) sugar
⅛ lemon juice (I didn’t have any lemons so I combined lemon extract with water)

Preheat oven to 325.

Grease mini loaf pan (I don't have a real mini loaf pan, so I used a glass pyrex storage container I have that is similar in size and oven safe!). Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Mix together, pour into greased pan and bake 30-35 until golden on top, firm to the touch, and a toothpick comes out of the center mostly clean. Remove from oven, drizzle glaze over the loaf, being sure to get all the edges so the glaze can really soak in and add to the major yum factor! Allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling (or, if you're impatient like I am, you can place your wire rack in the fridge to speed the process up!).

Alright, so I got impatient and stuck it in the fridge to finish cooling so I could taste it. The center did sink in quite a lot, but that did not affect the flavor, or the doneness at all! I have to say that it tastes pretty amazing. Pretty authentic. It's definitely not as pretty as it's ancestor, the Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf. Mine would have been prettier (prettier, not pretty) if I at least had the poppy seeds, but alas!

Yes, it is dark but no, it does not taste burnt. No, it doesn't look like it would be lemony. But it is. And it satisfied my craving perfectly. Now to wait for my company to arrive and share another slice with a cup of hot coffee!

And for those of you interested in the nutrition breakdown, here it is, in all of its refined sugar 8-serving glory (though really, not bad for CAKE!):

Saturday, January 21, 2012

it's personal

I don't often write very personally on this blog. I'm not sure if it's because I don't want to feel that vulnerable -- writing openly about the more intimate details of my life on a public blog -- or just because that's not really my intent with this particular blog. At any rate, I feel like being a little more open with you tonight, so bare with me.

Sometimes I find myself feeling frustrated by various circumstances in our life (I know, who doesn't, right?). The fact that we're both 28 and only just get started in so many ways is especially tough for me to accept some days. But reading through my old journal I was reminded anew of one of the biggest reasons why and I think I needed to remember, though it is always tempting to try to forget pain and suffering. It wasn't laziness. It wasn't any lack of motivation on either of our parts. It was due to circumstances entirely outside our control. But circumstances that God used to help us grow and mature and to become the people we are today (who, by the way, are still very busy with that whole maturing thing!). Around the time I met my husband, he was just coming towards the end of a long struggle and subsequent treatment for Lyme disease at 21. He'd been so ill he had to drop out of school. I had recently fallen ill with Lyme as well (though at the time we met I was clueless -- all I knew was that I went from being a very active, healthy individual to sleeping 18+ hours a day, experiencing pain for "no reason", and a myriad of other strange symptoms), and it was probably largely that thing (that wretched, life-stealing thing!) that helped bring us together. It gave us an instant connection that we didn't have with our other friends. It's that "Ah-ha!" moment when you make that kind of connection with someone and suddenly you're not strangers anymore. I have to remind myself often that every little thing that happens in our lives is just another piece of God's plan for us ("For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11), so however hard it may be to bear at the time, or how much difficulty we have in accepting it with peace once it is past, we must constantly remind ourselves that this too was God's will for us, just as much as all the good things. It is easy to see God and His providence in a happy marriage to your best friend, having a nice home, or a job that you love. It is much more difficult to see in the midst of the storms and their aftermath, but He is there.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139 ESV)