Archive for April, 2013

Maple Vanilla French Toast

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My boys, who are now 3 years old and 20 months old, LOVE French Toast. And I love making healthier versions of food they love. This morning I made Maple Vanilla French Toast, and topped it with sliced bananas, walnuts and a drizzle of organic 100% Maple Syrup (NOT the artificial stuff, blechh!). I used Asheville Girls Vanilla, but you can always make your own, as is the preferred way of The Prairie Homestead.

**I was ecstatic when I learned about Asheville Girls Vanilla, who’s slogan is “A bean in every bottle”. Even the 100% Pure Vanilla Extract you buy at the stores has a very stringent smell, and that comes through in your cooking, especially when adding it to something like French Toast or pancakes. Asheville Girls Vanilla is extremely smooth smelling, and departs a wonderful and authentic vanilla taste to your food. I will also be giving a bottle of this vanilla extract away soon, so keep your eyes peeled!**

The following recipe is for 2 servings

French Toast

2 slices of homemade bread (I used the Special Winter bread from the Oster Breadmaker cookbook, which uses Molasses as a natural sweetener, which I prefer to cane sugar, and some whole wheat flour instead of all white flour.)

2 large eggs (farm fresh is best)

1/2 cup milk (raw if you have it)

1 teaspoon REAL vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon 100% Maple Syrup (organic or local if you can)

Cinnamon and nutmeg for dusting

100% pure coconut oil (you could also use real butter, this is used only to cook the french toast)

Topping

1 banana

2 Tablespoons of chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons 100% Maple Syrup

Heat pan and melt coconut oil or butter, just enough to keep the bread from sticking. (I used a cast iron skillet, my hands down favorite cooking surface) Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Soak bread slices. When droplets of water dance on hot pan surface, place bread slices. On the exposed side of bread dust lightly with cinnamon and nutmeg. Flip. While french toast is finishing cooking, slice bananas. Top each slice of French Toast with 1/2 the banana and 1 Tablespoon each of walnuts and maple syrup. Serve!

For variations on toppings you could use natural peanut or almond butter with syrup, fresh berry compote with fresh whipped cream, or fruit preserves. Limitless possibilities, just use your real food imagination!photo-13 copy copy

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Baby steps…

I grew up in a rural area, a very small town in northwest Montana. Our kindergarten, elementary and middle school is all in one big building, and the high school is right across the parking lot. The town has ONE grocery store, a bowling alley, a playhouse and some restaurants and little shops “downtown”, which you can walk through in all of about 20 minutes if you take your time.

We had a garden, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and goats. We collected eggs, butchered the animals, drank fresh goats milk, canned produce, went hunting and fishing. We had a large pantry in the garage (which was mostly underground save for the garage doors, so it acted very much like a root cellar) which we stored large amounts of food. We had a well, and a handful of apple trees. I grew up in a similar lifestyle that is now my goal to get back to. Yes, we ate store canned food, packaged bread and the like. We supplemented the food we grew or raised with what we could not. My grandma and mom taught me to sew by hand, before I was allowed to learn to use a machine. We didn’t watch much TV at all, and if we did, it was mostly Disney and family movies. We played outside. A LOT. We used our imaginations. No, that bent tree wasn’t REALLY a catapult, but we had fun…until our mom found out. At times I couldn’t stand it as a child, but as an adult I realize how beneficial that was, and that it made me a better, and stronger, person.

My husband, on the other hand, is something of a city boy. I can’t class him entirely that way, he loves to hunt, fish, camp, and has very readily accepted the life of horse ownership, has always wanted chickens, and is open to the lifestyle I am so in love with. But at times I want to jump in head first, and get straight back into it. I forget that my husband didn’t grow up on raw milk, and isn’t keen on the idea at ALL for drinking purposes. But he has agreed to give raw milk products like homemade butter, yogurt, cheese, cream and ice cream a chance WHEN the time comes we can have our own dairy animal(s). He didn’t grow up canning and storing food, and in California, they don’t have snowstorms where school gets cancelled for a week and every year the winter temperatures fall in the negative 20s and below on a very regular basis. Stores were easily accessible, so they didn’t NEED to store large amounts of food. He had a smaller family, where as I grew up with around 6-12 people living in the same house. And if not IN the house, then next door. Imagine being snowed in for a week plus, sometimes with no power, and absolutely NO way to get anywhere. If you only had a small amount of food, how would you feed your families? Or your neighbors if the need arose? But, I digress.

My husband reels me back in, and we are taking baby steps and beginning to lead the life of a homesteader. We are planting a garden with non-GMO heirloom seeds, canning and dehydrating food, have started our own little flock of chickens (and a couple ducks). I have started baking our bread, and using local raw honey instead of processed white cane sugar whenever I can. We are going to start using essential oils for health and cleaning purposes. We are blessed to have the opportunity to be meeting with Jill of The Prairie Homestead, and having her show us (and a few of our friends) how to replace those yucky OTC medicines with natural, healing essential oils. When we own our own home and property, he has already agreed to letting me get a dairy cow, maybe a goat and a few pigs as well. That may be a couple years down the road, but until then, BABY STEPS.

We aren’t going through our house and throwing away everything that isn’t 100% organic, GMO free, or that has chemicals in it. But when the need comes to replace those things, we will do so with things that lend towards a healthier and more self sufficient life. We have started cutting up worn out towels to use as rags instead of using paper towels. Vinegar and essential oils and baking soda will eventually replace most of our cleaning products.

You don’t have to throw your entire way of thinking or the way you are used to living out the window, it is a journey. A journey filled with learning and figuring out what works best for you and your family. You may not want to raise your own meat animals, but you may have a small local farm and butcher that you can get your food from. You may never be interested in using solar power, or a composting toilet. That certainly isn’t one of the things we would be utilizing unless it was a life or death situation. But, like us, you can take baby steps until you reach YOUR personal goal. You may even find that those baby steps lead you to something entirely different than you originally expected.

Being Prepared

Is there such a thing as being TOO prepared? That’s a tough one to answer, and everyone has different view points. You have probably heard of, or watched, the show Doomsday Preppers. These people, called Preppers, are preparing for a catastrophic event. But should you ONLY be storing food, learning survival skills, how to operate without modern conveniences if you are fearing a cataclysmic event? You don’t have to believe in doomsday scenarios to prepare your family for an emergency. Things like snowstorms, earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons…those are ALL natural disasters that occur on a regular basis. If your family was snowed in for two weeks without power, what would you do? Are you PREPARED?

 

There are many things you can do to prepare, even if you aren’t thinking “end of civilization” scenarios. Growing a garden, canning or dehydrating, storing bulk foods, putting together first aid kits, having your own source of food like chickens, goats or cows, all multi-purpose animals that could help sustain your family. Homesteaders are generally people who want to learn to be self sufficient, lead a more simple life. In a way, they also are “preppers”. They generally have livestock and/or fowl, they garden and can or dehydrate their food.

 

Being prepared doesn’t mean you are crazy, it means you want to be prepared to protect and provide for your family if the worst was to happen. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on canned food, or survival gear. You don’t have to believe in a zombie apocalypse, I certainly don’t. What I DO believe is that I want to be prepared, to feed and protect my family. And all the while teach my children values and a way of life that is generally forgotten. Teach them they can provide for themselves, and they don’t have to rely on grocery stores, and especially not the government. My children will not grow up believing they are entitled to handouts and that others should do the work for them. They will learn how to do for themselves, and to help others, to be kind in a world that is not. They will grow up being prepared. Prepared to help themselves, and to help others. Prepared to take on a world filled with diversity and strife, and not only to survive, but to flourish.