On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Odds and Ends

So things have supposedly slowed down for the summer but with a baby who is now officially six months old, there is not any slowing down! This past week was pretty busy. We returned from visiting family in New Jersey on Tuesday. Wednesday DS nursed and clung to me literally all day. Thursday, we had La Leche League, Friday was our weekly Indian cooking lesson and Saturday, I tried to get some food made and do some things around the house.

La Leche League was wonderful on Thursday. I started attending meetings when I was pregnant with DS and they have seen me through so many of our nursing issues. Honestly, if it were not for the support that I have received there, I do not think DS would still be nursing at all. They helped with his early nursing issues and with his weight gain issues and these remarkable women are now helping to support us through our process of trying to wean DS from formula now that his weight is stable. I am so grateful to and for them. I really cherish all of the fellow attachment parenting friends I have made through them and through my natural and attachment parenting group. Sometimes it is difficult parenting when you believe what is best for your child is a challenge to the cultural norm.

Also, a big thing this week has been making some delicious whole foods. I cooked chickpeas and made the hummus I posted about before and have been giving DS a few little bites of mashed chickpeas with his lunch. So far he seems to like them.

Also, I made more of the yogurt that I posted about before. I can easily go through the whole half gallon I make of this a week. I have also found a new trick that helps quite a lot with the consistency of the yogurt. Previously I had been adding some gelatin to thicken it up a bit, but I have since found that adding some nonfat dry milk (about a cup to the 1/2 gallon of milk) when I add in the yogurt cultures does wonders for thickening it up.

I also learned to cook brown rice in the rice cooker by putting in 2 of the little cups of rice and filling the water up to the line for cooking three cups. The rice came out beautifully and tasted so good!

My last cooking adventure this week was making baked oatmeal. Someone on one of the message boards I belong to had posted the recipe and I have to say this stuff is incredible and I think it will probably be one of those things I make weekly. It is very custard like; almost like a moist bread pudding but with oats instead of the bread. It has lots of cinnamon in it and I put in some dried cherries. Baked oatmeal with homemade yogurt is possibly the best breakfast I can think of. Next time I have to make something for a brunch, this is quite possibly going to be what I make. It is yummy!

Food wise, my goals for this next week are to make some bread and to cook up some quinoa. Of course I will also have to make more yogurt and baked oats as well. I also may have to make more hummus because it is just so good. DS's latest food obsession is pita bread so I am thinking that I will have to either make that or some roti for him this week too.

Other goals for the week are to get the house cleaned up and to have dinner either ready to go on the grill or in the crock pot each day by the time DH gets home from work. It amazes me how difficult it is for me to get just some of the basics done each day. DS takes so much time and attention and always wants me to be holding him. Even with trying to wear him in the wrap or the sling it is a real challenge to get anything done. Still, we will keep trying!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Today, I finally got around to cooking chickpeas and making some hummus! All I can say is yum! My mom first made this for me after I became a vegetarian my freshman year of college. She took a vegetarian cooking class so she would have some foods to make for me and this was one of our favorites. Over the years my recipe changed a bit. I met Leslie McEachern of the Angelica Kitchen in New York City who inspired me to add a bit of cumin and cayenne pepper to the mix. Also, I learned to cook my own chickpeas with a cinnamon stick and some bay leaves.

The following is my hummus recipe that I followed today:

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
8 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup tahini
about 1/2 cup reserved chickpea cooking liquid (or enough to achieve desired consistency)

Soak the chickpeas in water over night.
Place in slow cooker with 8 cups water, the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until chickpeas are very soft.
Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
Drain chickpeas, reserving cooking liquid.
Place chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper and tahini in food processor and pulse.
With food processor running drizzle in cooking liquid until reaching desired consistency. (I like my hummus on the thick side so I only use about 1/2 cup but the measurement on this is not exact).

Enjoy! I like to eat this with pita bread or as a dip for veggies such as sweet red pepper strips or celery. I am really looking forward to my lunches for this next week.

First items from my little garden

I am happy to report that I this week, I had a first meal including items from my little garden. I was able to pick enough spinach, malabar spinach, lettuce, basil and radishes to have a lovely salad for lunch the other day. It may be a while before there is enough to do this again, but I certainly did enjoy it! There is just something about being able to grow food and then harvest it and eat it.

The garden is looking wonderful and everything is growing like crazy! Now the biggest challenge is to keep up with the watering as we do not have a hose or a place to attach one. This means multiple trips from the sink to the garden with the watering can. This is a hot dry week in Virginia so watering is proving to be very important.

Now I just need to take care of planting some pots for my front porch. I have one with a geranium ready to go and I have some marigolds to plant in another. I already planted marigolds and red petunias in the ground in front of the bushes and they seem to be thriving.

It is certainly a blessing to have a place to plant both flowers and vegetables and to be able to eat some of the items I have grown.

Friday, May 15, 2009


One of my recent desires has been to reduce the amount of meat our family consumes. I was a vegetarian for years, but over time, I started to have a desire to cook and eat meat. Of course DH is very into eating meat and has never paticulalry enjoyed my vegetarian meals. One of my goals is that we start eating vegetarian meals as a family a couple times a week and that I not eat meat at lunch if DH is at work. There are multiple reasons for this, but just quickly, meat is a considerable part of our weekly grocery bill which I am constantly trying to reduce, and I am concerned about the amount of resources that go into producing the meat that we eat.

Today, I was at a playdate for DS where hummus was served. It was so good! I haven't eaten any in a while and really enjoyed it. So, this got me thinking about chickpeas and how they have always been my favorite legume and all of the things I used to like making out of them back when I was a vegetarian. I would like to start making at least some of these items again to eat for my lunches/some veggie dinners.

  1. humus-love the stuff and can't get enough!
  2. chickpea oat patties-I used to use these instead of chicken to make things like non-chicken parm.
  3. roasted chickpeas-a great snack
  4. chickpea and almond pasta (this is one veggie dish DH actually likes).

Off the top of my head that's what I can think of without consulting my recipes. I think next week I will start making and posting some of these items on here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Odds and Ends

Nothing huge going on in our world right now. My cat had surgery going on two weeks ago to remove what seems to have been a whole spool of thread from his digestive track and I am pleased to say that he seems to be doing very well.

The garden is growing and looks pretty good! I noticed this morning that the lawn care guys at our apartment complex went around it very carefully with the weed wack instead of mowing up close to it which was very nice of them! I am looking forward to the peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, spinach, lettuce and radishes not to mention all my herbs! It's exciting.

We joined freecycle a week or so ago and I was able to get a rice cooker which is very exciting to me! I love rice but for years have only made the boil-in-bag kind because I always seem to ruin it. Well... not with my trusty rice cooker....I have been making and eating rice like there's no's great. I am also in the process of looking up some rice cooker recipes to try soon.

DS is doing well. He's still eating his avocado and banana and loving it, Neither last week's oatmeal or this week's apples have gone over quite so well, but we keep trying them. I am also excited that , while he is still taking formula, I was able to find some affordable organic soy formula to give him. Our local Krogers has changed the size of the cans they carry and I was able to get some on clearance for next to nothing. It's a relief that if he isn't able to manage on just mama milk and solids, at least he is not getting bunches of genetically modified soy anymore.

Today, my plan is to make some yogurt in the crock pot following these directions: I have made this before and just love it! I can't wait to give this to DS when he is able to eat yogurt!

Also, a dear friend of mine has started giving another friend and I lessons in Indian cooking. This is so much fun and the food is pure comfort food to me. This past week she made spinach fritters, roti, dal and potatoes and peas. It was such a great time! I can't wait for next week and I also am looking forward to a trip to the Indian grocery store with her sometime in the near future. I have a notion to start making some of her recipes to eat for my lunches since DH keeps telling me he doesn't like Indian food (whenever my friend brings me some to try DH always wants to try it though and usually seems to like it). Like I said it is comfort food for me but it is all vegetarian and mostly whole grain made from simple inexpensive ingredients. I love it! If she will consent, I will take better notes and some pictures next time for my blog.

Other than that, many things around here seem to be winding down for the summer. My Moving On group for women who have moved to Richmond ended last week, Community Bible Study ended this week. It leaves DS and I looking for ways to fill our mornings a couple days a week. DS loves my "ladies groups"and is a very social young man.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Loveliest First Mother's Day as a Mom and the most beautiful gift from my own mother

I hope that all of the mothers out there had a wonderful Mother's Day. Mine was really beautiful. What I really wanted out of the day was just to spend some relaxing family time with my guys and I got just that. After church, DH, DS and I went to Meadow Farm Park where we had a really lovely picnic and then spent time looking at all of the animals and went on a tour of the house. What a great park! I enjoyed our time there very much. Then we came home and I spent time playing with DS while DH helped me out with some cleaning and made dinner (for the rest of the week I think)!

I really didn't want much in terms of gifts. My mom had sent a bit of money and I used some of it to buy some plants for my little garden and to put on my front porch. DH bought me some perfume which was lovely. The most moving gift however, came from my mother. I had recently told her that I am trying to switch from paper tissues to cloth handkerchiefs so she sent me several packages of men's handkerchiefs (which seem to be the only kind that are readily available in the stores anymore) and a beautiful box of 16 antique handkerchiefs that belonged to my great grandmother Lillie with a note to please use and enjoy them. When I talked to my mom, she said that she would rather see them in use and being enjoyed than just sitting in a box in the closet. I can not think of a lovelier gift that she could have sent.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Garden

I am very excited about my garden this year. I have not had one in two years because our last apartment did not have any outdoor space. Before that in Brooklyn I grew a garden completely in pots on my roof-top deck. This year is actually the first year I have a little plot of ground for my garden which is wonderful!

Last week I spent 2 days cleaning out the little wood framed bed by our back door left by a previous tenant. It seems that it has not been used for a very long time and was overgrown with weeds and full of garbage.

I worked in some new soil and manure and planted some carrots, radishes, a bell pepper and zucchini. I planted marigolds along the perimeter. I also put some spinach and lettuce in window boxes and a strawberry and basil in pots on the porch. So far the radishes spinach and lettuce have all germinated and the pepper and zucchini plants are thriving!

Yesterday I received the best present from my mother in the mail! A box of carefully packed plants! She sent me several tomato plants, an eggplant, some Malabar spinach, garlic chives, thyme and tarragon.

So, this morning while I wait for the vet to call, I am going to go plant the rest of my little garden! I will add pictures to this post when it is finished!


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