Monday, January 23, 2012

The Joy of Learning: Crochet

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I am a firm believer and solely practice classical education in our home.  At every conference I attend I am reminded that I am teaching my children the process of learning.  I am convinced that with the Classical model you can learn anything, without the structure of formal education.  Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric that's all you need for any subject.  In my own life, if I so strongly believe these methods then I will use them to attempt to learn some thing new.  Crochet.


Grammar Stage: I found an expert (my aunt) and she gave me a hook and a magazine that had patterns and pictures of each stitch with its corresponding abbreviation and I went home ready to make something wonderful!  Isn't that how it always is when we teach our children something new we expect them to grasp it in the full way we have and come to a mountain top experience.  This of course didn't happen.  I spent a month trying to get the basic stitches down, getting so mad sometimes I would throw the thing across the room and not pick it up for 2 days.  By the end of the month I was ready to make something, and did manage to make a scarf for a friend's birthday.  Now for those adorable little owl hats that would be perfect for the fall on my little munchkins.


I followed a YouTube tutorial for almost 4 hours one afternoon, and I had it!!  Here we are posing with the fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains.  I love Jude's "crabby" face in this one, it is such a put on!


Dialectic Stage.  I have continued to analyze my work and process what I am doing wrong and where I might improve.  And most importantly I am practicing, practicing, practicing.


Here's take two!  A monster hat to send to my niece for Christmas.  I really am proud of this one.  I looked at a hundred on Etsy to choose the design I wanted and then I figured out how to do it by myself.


Don't they say third times a charm?  Now I am working on critters for all the kids: a horse, a unicorn, a robot, and a dinosaur.  I am really excited to reveal them!


Love and Butter,


Mishelle
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

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As a child I grew up on those little individual pot pies.  They were so good, flaky crust, warm gravy inside.  But as an adult I shudder at the list of ingredients almost too long for that tiny box.  In years past, my "healthy version" of pot pie involved skim milk and baking mix, sometimes canned soup.  I again gag at the amount of unknown, unpronounceable ingredients I was putting in my family.  And if I am totally truthful, they lacked any sort of good taste, so it wasn't really something I made all that often anyway. 
Now that I know saturated fat is good for me and that full fat dairy will actually help me lose weight (and it has!), I am going to give pot pie another try.  It is the perfect meal for a cold dreary day, and that is about all we are having right now.

Ingredients:

The Crust:
2 1/2 cups soft wheat flour, or unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter cold from the fridge (I use salted butter, but if you use unsalted, add 1tsp of salt)

The Filling:
2 cups of frozen or fresh veggies diced (or a combo, try to get some celery in there if you have it)
1 onion diced
2 cups of chopped chicken or turkey (great use of left overs)
3 cups of Homemade Chicken Stock or Bone Broth
1 cup of Raw cream (always grass-fed if available) or heavy whipping cream
1 tbs. salt or to taste depending on your stock
1 tsp. poultry seasoning (salt-free, organic)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 tbs. unbleached all purpose flour

Directions:
To make the pie crust add the butter to the food processor and break it up, you may need to help it along with a spatula, when in several pieces add the flour and continue to process, when fully combined (it has a large grainy texture), drizzle a tablespoon of ice water at a time through the top until the dough forms a ball.  Remove the dough and wrap in plastic wrap and put into the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium sauce pan heat stock or bone broth on med. hi.  Meanwhile, in a 9x13 baking dish add veggies, onion, and meat.  Stir to evenly dispersed.  When stock comes to a rolling simmer, add 1 TBS of flour and whisk until combined, repeat twice with remaining flour.  Remove from heat and add cream.  Pour into baking dish, fold to combine evenly.  




Cover your counter with a long piece of plastic wrap (about 2 ft. long).  Flour a rolling pin and roll dough out into a rectangle.  You want it slightly wider and slightly longer than your pan (let's say 11x15), but it doesn't have to be perfect.  Getting under the plastic wrap center your crust and flip it onto your baking dish.  Fold the edges however you see fit an poke some holes in the top of your crust.  Here's your chance to be an artist!  Make it a lovely display of perfection or a rustic creation, your choice.  




Pop it in the oven for 1 full hour.  Remove and let it set at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.  Enjoy with a tossed salad or your favorite light side.


Love and Butter,


Mishelle



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One Man's Trash-The Treasure of Bone Broth

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One man's trash truly is another man's treasure. And it may be true that the most nourishing part of your food you are throwing in the trash. The bones! Bones are composed of protein, minerals, and vitamins. The list of minerals present in bones includes:calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulfur, chromium, and dozens of others. And we throw these powerfoods away simply because we can't chew them!

As the bones simmer in slightly acidic water, their minerals and other nutrients leach into the water. Unlike store bought stock, which is mostly salt (even the really expensive organic), Homemade broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. Also, unlike the minerals in supplements, the minerals in broth are easily absorbed by the body.
Have achy knees? Bone broth even contains glucosamine and chondroiton, both which are thought to help ease the painful effects of arthritis and joint pain. These are some of the higher dollar supplements too, why not just make bone broth a regular part of your diet.
Further, homemade bone broths are often rich in gelatin. Gelatin is an inexpensive source of supplementary protein. Gelatin also shows promise in the fight against degenerative joint disease. It helps to support the connective tissue in your body and also helps the fingernails and hair to grow well and strong. Not only that, gelatin improves collagen status, thus supporting skin health. This is why many give credit to bone broth for eliminating cellulite, which in part occurs from the break down of collagen.
In addition to nutrients, bone broths are an extraordinarily a good source of amino acids, namely glycine and proline. Let me tell you--You need Glycine!! Glycine supports the body's detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body. Glycine also supports digestion and the secretion of gastric acids. Proline, especially when paired with vitamin C, supports good skin health.

Making simple bone broth is a habit that can easily be added to the busiest of schedule and will benefit all who partake of it's nourishing warmth. By simmering bones in a slightly acidic liquid, you can break down all of those vital nutrients in to a wonderful liquid known as bone broth. For centuries, traditional cultures have been cooking bones for long periods of time to pull out all of the beneficial properties.

My Homemade Stock Recipe contains all of these great minerals and will use that chicken carcass that you were just going to throw away anyway!

To make a beef broth you will have to do a little foot work, but the Bone Broth made from animals with large bones cannot be compared to nutritionally. To obtain large bones, ask a local farmer. Most will offer them to you at a low price, some will even want to make room in their freezer and may even give you some.

Beef Bone Broth

Ingredients
Large Grass-fed Beef Bones
1-2 cups of veggie scraps or
1 Carrot, the Inner part of the Celery, and 1 onion
1 TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar (such as Bragg)

Add 2-3 large bones to a crock pot. Add Vinegar and veggies. Cover with water and turn on high for 2 hrs or until nice simmer is obtained reduce to low. Allow to cook for 24-48 additional hours, adding water to fill line as needed.

Stock can be used immediately, kept in the fridge (in glass) for up to a week, or frozen to use later. Use your Stock/Broth in any recipe calling for it, to make sauces, to cook veggies, in place of water when cooking rice or any other grain for a savory dish, to deglaze a pan after cooking meat, to make gravy..the list goes on and on. Hope I saved something wonderful from going in your trash!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle





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Pinterest

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If you haven't been sucked into the awesomeness of Pinterest...be warned...you will be!!  Pinterest.com is every blogger's dream and nightmare.  There are endless ideas and links to a world of creative genius.  These worlds can inspire you or distract you.  I am planning (as I assume many bloggers are) a serious of posts of ideas, recipes, and crafts found on Pinterest.


If you are unaware Pinterest is a virtual pinboard in which you can "pin" your inspirations found online all in one place.  And on top of that you can be linked then to people with common interest and a whole world of ideas upon ideas....upon ideas.  Really it is that good.  You must be invited to join, so ask around, you probably have a friend who is already happily pinning.  And Enjoy!!  Find things you love and be inspired, to create, to read something, or to cook something wonderful!  The opportunities are endless, but remember so is the time you can spend sitting and starring at lovely things and doing nothing!
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