Thursday, 14 May 2015

Digestive Aids and Pulses

Meal times at Acorn Towers often consist of lentils and beans and spices.

I have heard many a complaint that these items cause indigestion.  Our family do not seem to find this a problem but perhaps our constitutions have become used to it (although, I do get a little heartburn after dried soya mince if I do not take the precautions I will get around to in a mo.)

But I imagine that if we replaced much of the beans and lentils with meat and dairy then our bodies would not react kindly either!  I would advise beginning with smaller amounts, with a mind to build up pulses in the diet.

(And as pulses are great sources of fibre, iron, calcium and other minerals... why wouldn't you want to?  If you use dried pulses, then sprout them first (not kidney beans - poisonous!) you also boost their Vitamin C content through the roof.)

I have found that adding bay leaf to the cooking prevents indigestion and heartburn very successfully.  If the dish is one that will happily take ginger then I will add this instead or also (I seem to find ground ginger to be most successful.)  If I have forgotten to add the bay leaf of ginger, then a little bicarbonate of soda in warm water straight afterwards does the trick.

Do you have any favourite tips or tricks for indigestion and heartburn?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Bloomin' Dandy

I posted how we make use of the nutritional powerhouse of  dandelion and other free greens in the spring time.
Dandelions offer another great free food in the form of their pretty sunny blooms!

They bring a sweet sunny honey flavour to dishes.

I had previously read that they hold plenty of Vitamin A and C, and iron.  Further research this week led me to Proverbs31Woman who has collected some information on their nutrition - she also has some great dandy recipes and has complied a whole cookbook dedicated to them.

Here are 16 of our favourite ways to use them:
In salads
  • the petals look prettiest sprinkled over the top
As a pesto
  • use the petals instead of basil, carefully adding garlic granules for a mild hit, and the hard cheese, to make Sunshine Pesto

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Remarkably Different

When we attended a group for the little ones this morning, a kind neighbour engaged the oldest child and asked why were they off school today.  She suddenly remembered, answering her own question with..

"Oh yes, I remember. You don't go to school.  You... live differently, don't you?"

I am not altogether sure we do live differently to anyone else.

People do tell us that we do sometimes

I remain unconvinced. 

We rise in the mornings, one parent goes to work, one parent stays at home with the children, we eat three meals a day, visit family and friends, attend groups, converse politely with those we come into contact with, try to remember to be on our best behaviour though do not always manage to make it, bathe, learn, play, occasionally watch TV, go to bed... 

Not that there is anything wrong in being different.  And of course we all live our lives slightly differently to the even the most similarly minded person next to us.  It just seems odd to me that people our family come into contact with fairly regularly see us as remarkably different.

Although, come to think of it, I am sure that we could find a remarkable difference in anyone, should we look for it.

I am sure our neighbour did not mean to offend, and she did not offend me truly.  It just jolted me into thinking about hers and some others' perception of us.

What do you all find gets remarked upon? Homeschooling, clothing choices, eating habits...?  And does it ever get you down, or do you always own it happily?

Cocoa and Bean Enchiladas

This recipe is a perfect way to make half a pack of soft tortillas stretch to make a meal for the whole family.  We love fajitas, but the ingredients can be costly.  This is a way of still getting those flavours and textures but as a "proper knife and fork meal" and it costs less.

Now I don't actually mean "cocoa bean" enchiladas, though it could, I guess; I mean that this recipe combines kidney and cannellini beans, but it does also benefit from the depth of cocoa, an ingredient often added to chilli.

I love adding wild greens in lieu of coriander leaf to this sort of Tex-Mex inspired fare, so feel free to do likewise but you can substitute it with either coriander leaf or a mild green such as spinach or hawthorn.

We keep it smoky, sweet and mild with smoked paprika - I find this gives vegetables a lovely umami chargrilled aroma and flavour - but it can be substituted with chilli powder for a hotter dish.

When it comes to the stock for savoury sauces, I like to use the brine from a jar of green olives - it brings a gorgeous fullness of flavour to a cheesy or white sauce (and if I am being indulgent, along with a splash of white wine or very dry cider.)  But whichever mild stock is around will do fine.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

White Raspberry Baby Blanket

I came across the Blackberry Salad pattern from Tamara Kelly on moogly and loved it instantly.  The colours are just perfect!  I cannot wait to finish one I have started in blues, greens and browns to match one of our own rooms.

It occurred to me, when a friend became a grandmother for the second time, that the raspberry stitch would be beautiful in pure white for the new baby.

I wanted to share the pictures to prove just how pretty and smart it looks.  Grandma certainly loved it and I hope the new baby does too!

It is such an easy pattern to master...

Pre-school Maths with the Numtums


My steadily-growing tot loves the CBeebies' Numtums games lately.  The second youngest enjoyed them too, but I cannot remember as much focus and determination! 

This tot would happily sit for hours making the Numtums bounce on the trampoline.

"No you can't have a kiss, Mama... I'm busy makin' the Numtums a-bouncies."

Seriously, they are great games for helping teach the littlest ones their numbers.  It is one thing to memorise the counting, but these games help them to understand the number represents a quantity.

Do you have a favourite online resource for Preschool maths learning?  Any tips?

Just Dandy and other free greens!

A years' supply of FREE greens?
This time of the year is great for stocking up on greens to see you through the year.  We gather up dandelion greens, nettle tips, and hawthorn leaves. 
When dandies are shedding their seed heads, try popping them into some tubs in your garden to provide yourself a harvest for next season if you are worried about local cats etc.  You can also do the same to grow your own nettle patch to ensure the plants stay "unvisited" by dogs as local ground might be.
Why would I want to eat these greens?
The greens all keep excellently in the freezer for vitamin and mineral boosts even greater than spinach but for free.  They are particularly good for iron, calcium and Vitamin C. 
Freezing your greens
The dandy greens and hawthorn can be popped straight in the freezer once washed, and they will crumble nicely straight from the freezer into dishes; nettles, you will need to steam for 3-4 minutes to lose the sting then freeze.
8 great ways to use your free greens