Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I have become very disappointed  with society and the the misconceptions of what is healthy for you. We hear so much in the media. Every company is screaming loudly making all kinds of health claims. It is so overwhelming. It seems like what was healthy last week is this weeks devil food. It is enough to make your head spin.  


© Alexanderpokusay | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes I can't help it. For example, last week I was looking about the grocery store and I saw a container which I thought read  "fat free half and half."  I stopped and looked again; and sure enough it said fat free half and half. I am thinking to myself "What in the world are they putting in there?" Half and half as I know it is half milk and half cream. I started reading the label, skim milk, corn syrup, guar gum, natural flavorings and the list goes on  about 15 ingredients in all. About every ingredient has a star by it. In the fine print, it says the starred items are not normally found in half and half.  I was shocked. People use this thinking that they are healthy, because it is fat free. Come on people! I can understand milk and cream, but this list of ingredients seems too much. Then I read this morning about a petition to the government to allow artificial sweetners into our dairy products without having to label it. Oh man, what's next.

Then there is the Corn syrup thing. I read "no high fructose corn syrup" on the package, and then three ingredients in I read  corn syrup.  Many things still have corn syrup, just not the super refined high fructose kind. The corn syrup I bought to make Christmas candy was labeled as "no high fructose corn syrup"  (if that is not confusing to the brain, corn syrup labled as no corn syrup).  People read the headlines on the package and then go right on thinking it must be healthy, because the banner across the front of the package says so. It says no corn syrup on the label, yet it is still full of the stuff, just slightly less refined (like that makes it ok).

As a society there is a desire to be healthy, and the marketing people know it. The newest buzz words in the fast food industry are "healthy, and wholesome"; if they use those words they can sell the products for up to three times the price. The trouble is that those types of food are rarely healthy or wholesome. We are just kidding ourselves in thinking that they are. It is a crazy game that we are playing and our health and well being are on the line.  The only way to get good wholesome food is to create it and grow it yourself.

I am trying to get back to basics and eating food as it comes from the earth.  It is a big change for us and finding recipes is a big part of it. I recently have had several friends go on vegan diets. I was so excited thinking that I had some new resources in my real food revolution. I thought I would pick their brains for some great recipes, boy, was I ever disapointed. I didn't come up with much of anything from them. As a further disapointment, I watched a documentary where they took three individuals and followed them as they began a journey into the vegan lifestyle. It was eye opening for me.
© Digitalpress | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

During this documentary they took a trip to the store to get supplies; it looked like this: Vegan margarine, soy hot dogs, vegan burgers, Oreo cookies, boxed cake mix and frosting and the list went on like this. I did not see any real food going into the baskets. They were showing how you can transfer over from the standard diet to veganisism with very little change.  "Really this is what vegans are eating?"  My freinds also verified this fact. I suppose that I live in a land of my own imagining, thiking that a vegan diet was a whole foods diet. I knew veganism was more than just salads as some people think, but what I found was suprising to say the least.

Now that I have that all off my chest I can go back to finding recipes for real food and writing about it here at life less hurried.

article about the petition to put artifical sugers in dairy
I have included the links to several of my past posts that you may enjoy reading

posts about those great grains

I'm eating real butter and eggs

slow down and savor your food and life

confessions of an emotional eater

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

buckwheat/kasha A how to guide

When I think of buckwheat; I think of pancakes I had years ago. They were light fluffy and very tender. It made me ask; What is buckwheat? where does it come from? What can I make with it (besides pancakes)? How do I cook with it?

Despite the name buckwheat is no wheat at all;  in fact it is not even a grain. It is a seed that is related to the rhubarb plant.  It is a hearty plant that will grow most places. It grows fast, it grows to seed in about six weeks. This tiny triangular seed is packed full of fiber and nutrients and is cooked and used as a grain would be. Kasha, what is that? Kasha is nothing more than  toasted buckwheat seeds (or groats). Many people say that the seeds must be toasted. I agree.

What does one do with buckwheat or kasha?  In russia they make a dish called kasha varnishkes, a traditional dish of buckwheat groats, bowtie pasta, onions and mushrooms. Soba noodles are popular in Japan. Many cultures  eat buckwheat as a hot cereal. Buckwheat can be put into soups, salads, pilafs etc. It is easily ground into flour and used in many gluten free baked goods. Recipe land has 93 recipes for buckwheat I am sure that you can be inspired by one of those recipes. 
recipe land buckwheat recipes

© Laures | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

when toasted it takes on a whole new color as seen above

                                                               © Mimi66 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Cooking buckwheat is super easy and takes just a few minutes to cook making it a great choice for those in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

basic cooked buckwheat/ kasha

1 cup buckwheat
2 cups liquid

1. spread the buckwheat on a baking sheet and sort through it breifly, making sure to remove any husks, or other things that do not belong.

2. If the buckwheat is not toasted you can do this by placing in a hot dry skillet and cooking over a medium high heat for a minute or two until the color starts to darken and you smell a toasty popcorn smell.

3. Place the buckwheat and liquid into a medium sized saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This should take 10-12 minutes.  
Do NOT overcook you will get mushy brown yuck stuff.

Once cooked it can be held in the fridge for several days. It can be warmed and eaten as a breakfast cereal, tossed into soups, or salads.  the possibilities are wide open. I would encourage you to try this wonderful food.

  check out the links below for more inspiration

Taste of home recipe for kasha varnishkes

Monday, February 18, 2013

save by making your own tarter sauce

A number of years ago I heard you can make your own tarter sauce by mixing pickle relish and mayo. It was ok, but not like the stuff you can buy. I still prefered the stuff you buy in the store, yet it was so expensive. I have discovered a good tarter sauce recipe that is really great. It is easy to make and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

It only takes a couple of minutes to mix up a batch of tarter sauce and the results are really yummy.

Homemade tarter sauce

1/2 cup mayonaise
1 1/2 Tablespoons pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish sometimes called creamed horseradish
1/4 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (fresh squeezed prefered, but bottled will do in a pinch)
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dill
a shake of black pepper

Mix together and serve with your favorite seafood dish

Can be kept several weeks in the fridge

The horseradish and the worchestershire sauce really make it yum. They add a subtle flavor that you can't quite put your finger on, you are not sure what it is, but you know you like it.  Try it and you may never spend money on expensive store bought tarter sauce again.

As an added note, I used my own green tomato relish in place of the pickle relish.
I have included the link below for those interested
green tomato relish recipe

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

JICAMA have you tried it!

Jicama pronounced (HIC-A-ma)  Is a very yummy vegetable. It is light and crisp. It has a sweet taste.If I had to describe it; I would say it is like a cross between a raw potato, an apple, and a suagar snap pea. It is a great addition to salads. It makes an interesting change instead of the usual vegetables on a relish tray. You have gotta try this vegetable. 

Don't be fooled by its simple mundane appearance. It is shaped like a turnip, yet has the tan color of a potato. It is often called a Mexican potato or Mexican Turnip. There is greatness inside that brown bulb. They are low in calories, and are high in vitamin C. They have quite a bit of fiber. They are a wonderful addition to the diet. The kids seem to love them.

Jicama can be small or they can grow to be very large up to 50 pounds. Avoid bulbs that are twice the size of your fist or larger, they tend to be woody in texture. Choose a smaller size for the most sweetness. Avoid buying Jicama that has dark brown spots or mold growing on them.  Avoid ones bruises or cuts on them.

How to prepare Jicama
1. Pick a medium sized bulb with a dry stem that is firm to the touch.
2. Peel off the outer brown skin to reveal the white flesh inside.
3. cut into desired shape.

Dice or Julienne for salads.  cut into a french fry shape for dipping. It can be  grated or finely chopped in salsa etc.Many prefer to eat them raw, but they can be cooked. Jicama is used  in oriental dishes like  a stir fry or spring rolls. When cooked they end up with a texture similar to waterchestnuts.

 I found a recipe that I am eager to try.

Clementine and jicama salad
8 clementines peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cups of jicama julienne cut (matchsticks)
1 small red onion thin sliced
3/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup queso fresco or mild feta cheese
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 clove garlic smashed with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp  mush together to make a paste then add
1/4 cup lime juice
6 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix salad ingredients in a bowl then toss with the dressing just before serving.

Just for fun I have included some links below for more reading about  this wonderful vegetable. I hope you will discover a new favorite food in Jicama.

wise geek what is jicama

Monday, February 11, 2013

The lost art of handwritten letters

This past week I had a great mail day. I received a a handwritten letter. It was a nice surprise. There is something about a handwritten letter or note that just lifts the spirit like none other. My Grandmother wrote me every week while I was in college and while serving as a missionary for my church. It was so nice, and it gave me something to look forward to. It is something that I really miss.

 There is something about the thought and time that goes into expressing yourself in a letter.  It says I took the time to think about you and our relationship.  It is something that our children are missing out on.  Our children are not learning to communicate effectivly. They communicate in short, abreviated, half written thoughts through text and e-mail. A quick e-mail or text gets lost in the daily shuffle;  they are easily looked at, discarded, and sometimes overlooked. On the other hand, a thank you letter or a quick thinking of you note can create a long lasting impression.

With Valentines day right around the corner, take the time to write an old fashioned love letter. It will be much more treasured than a cheesy store-bought valentine. Those you love will appreciate it. It does not have to be real fancy and cute, It only has to come from the heart.

                                                               © Pontuse | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dream bars

This is one of those little gems that I have in my recipe collection.

Dream bars

Preheat oven to 325

In a medium bowl blend  together
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups flour  (This last time I made the crust with part whole wheat and part oat flour rather than all purpose flour. They turned out great. I liked the oat flavor.)

Press this crust mix into a cookie sheet and bake in a 325 oven for 20 minutes. While the crust is baking; beat together the remaining ingredients (I used the same bowl to avoid more dishes)

4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups coconut
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts
Pour this mix over the hot bottom crust and bake another 25 minutes
cool and cut into squares
makes 36 squares

Below is the finished product as it came out of the oven 

So easy and very yummy. I love the brown sugar flavor and the coconut and nuts together. Who could ask for anything more.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DIY newspaper logs

As a couponer I get several copies of the Sunday newspaper. I decided to start rolling newspaper logs as a way to recycle those papers.

 There are several methods to making newspaper logs. Many of these methods involve wetting the newspapers and rolling them on a broom handle etc. This was not for me. It sounded  hard, and too messy. I found another method that works well. I can fold them in the evening after the children go to bed.

1. Start with one section of the newspaper,  lay it on a flat surface.

2. Fold it in half lengthwise now you have a long slender rectangle measuring approx 21" x 6"

3. Fold it in half width wise now you should have a section of paper measuring approx 6" x  10.5"

4. Make five or six  of these

5. Stack them up one on top of another turning every other layer over. (alternating cut edges and folded edges). This makes for easier rolling and lighting later on.

6. Roll this stack of folded newspapers into a  tight log  about 2-3 inches thick

7. Tie the log on each end, you can use strips of cotton t-shirt, string, or a thin wire

8. Store in a dry place until ready to burn.

As an added note, use only the regular newsprint pages. Do not use the glossy ads.  Do not use plastic, nylon, rayon. or other synthetics for tying the logs.

A regular daily edition of the newspaper will make 1-2 logs.  Sunday/ Special editions will make 2-4
Four newspaper logs will last about 1 hour for heating. They produce about the same heat equivalent of a similar sized stick of wood.

This is a great project for children.  You could make a bunch of logs and donate to those who may be in need.