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5 Ways to Find Community Where Ever you Are!

As I was thinking about my post on community a bit more from Monday, I realized it might be helpful for some people to have some action steps to go find community. The right community is not always the easiest thing to find. It will take effort, and it does require opening ourselves up to disappointment, but finding that right group of people is totally worth it! Here are 5 things that you can do even right now to find great community:

  1. Look Online:

     

    Online is probably the easiest and lowest risk way of finding community. It can also, therefore, be the lowest benefit as well. Facebook and MeWe groups and even old-school forums abound for whatever your choice of topic. Maybe it’s gluten free eating or baking, or camping, or finances, or fixing cars. There are groups and forums for all of those. Search in your Facebook tool bar or just use Google and you will find plenty of options to start with.

    You will need to be ok with the fact that, especially online, communities may take some trial. I have been in and out of numerous ones over the years for various things. Sometimes they may just not be what is going on with your life any more. It’s also very possible you will find out in just a few days that they are not doing what you hoped. That’s ok! Bow out gracefully and move on.

    A few quick tips: Especially for Facebook or MeWe groups, and even forums, make sure they are a closed group that requires approval by admin, and hopefully even has questions to answer. This helps keep out spam bots and unsavory characters. Remember to type kindly and realize that some people like to hide behind their keyboards and rant. Don’t take a lot of what is said personally.

    The internet can be a great place to find community, it’s easy to get into, and if you find it’s not what you want, easy to get out of as well.

  2. Look Locally:

    In person community is, of course, the long standing way of finding community. It wasn’t really until recent years that most people could avoid being forced into local community. It’s easier than ever to avoid in person community but that is one of the best places to get help and support. In most places, it is fairly easy to find it, especially depending on what type of community you are looking for.

    You might really already have what you need in your kid’s soccer team, or at work, or at church. If those places are not what you are looking for, there are plenty of ways to look up local groups. MeetUp is probably the easiest available means of finding local groups. You choose your local area and they have plenty of options available to choose from in regards to your preferred activity. Do you just want a hang out group? They have it. A running group? Yup! Cooking clubs? Totally!

    Many restaurants and stores still have bulletin boards with community activities and information as well. Go check out your local café and you might find a flyer for that.

    See if there are people in your online community that are local to you and are already meeting. That gluten free cooking group you are a part of might have a local group that is already getting together once a month. Or there at least might be people willing to.

  3. Look in places you don’t expect:

    Another thing that is important is looking at the things you are already involved with. You might be surprised to find that a community you are already involved with has people who are interested in other things that you are.

    Have you asked around at church to see what people like to do? You might find that another person loves sewing just as much as you do. Or that there are already several people that have to eat and cook gluten free and they exchange recipes regularly.

    Instead of trying to recreate the wheel with forming new relationships, see if your existing relationships already have what you are looking for.

  4. Create one:

    You might find that what you are looking for is not available for one reason or another. That could be because no one else is interested or because no one has taken the time and effort to do something about it.

    Look into starting it yourself in these situations. It may not be easy, but it allows you the chance to help others and form how it looks. Especially if this is a local group spawned off of an online group, you may really just need to provide the structure to meet locally and people will come.

    We have done that where we already have a pretty strong homesteading community online, we just needed to provide a place and time for people to get together locally.

  5. Be willing to take action:

    No matter which thing you choose, you must be willing to take action. You may feel like jumping in and starting something is not for you, and that’s ok! You do have to engage with any group that you join, though. Whether it’s online or local, you will not get out of it what you are looking for without engaging with others. My wife and I are both introverts who hate meeting new people, but that’s no excuse. Your new also-introverted best friend may be waiting around the corner, you just have to take that first step.

    It does take effort but being a part of a great community is totally worth it. Remember in the end it’s not just about us. Lots of other people are feeling disconnected and lonely as well. If you reach out to others, you will be blessed by it.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Grow and Learn In Community

Hopefully no one noticed I was gone several days last week due to the wonders of technology and auto posting! The blog went on while I learned about how to improve some other aspects of the business. I went to a several day event and had some great breakthroughs! Today I want to focus on the importance of moving forward as we grow and learn in community.

I went to this event because many of the people who have helped me get this business started were attending. It’s a community of people who want to help others run successful small businesses and be better prepared for life no matter what happens. Admittedly, if I had implemented their advice to begin with, I probably would have gotten Off Kilter Brownies started long before I did!

Two people in particular have listened to and answered my questions for over two years now. Many times it was the same question in different ways over and over again, and I’ve never really taken action on them. None the less they have continued to engage with me until I got the courage to make it happen!

My Next Steps

Things have been going well with the business, but I have felt at a road block for the last couple months. I have not been sure if we needed to change or add things or just to continue pushing forward and be patient.

I was super excited to go to this event because I knew I would be able to get some answers from others who are running successful businesses. Ironically, the answer I received  was something I’ve been told before I needed to work on. Yet this time, in person and with these people, it finally clicked. In short, the thing I needed to work on was communicating our story to others and not focusing it so much on ourselves but how we can help others. As I got the opportunity to grow and learn in community, I got the inspiration to finally move forward.

As I said, this was not the first time I’ve heard this. Even though Nicole (from Holler Roast Coffee) has repeatedly talked with me about this, she knew that working together in person would either help move things forward in my head or show that I totally wasn’t ready. She took the time to craft sessions that everyone needed to hear, but specifically made sure I got the help I needed.

Why did it matter this time?

On the one hand, I don’t know why I finally got it through my head this time. A large part of it was that I was in person. I heard the same things again, but it also enabled me to practice them right away with others, and thus allowed me to move to the next level.

The internet is amazing; it enables us to buy and sell with people who are thousands of miles away and to have community with others who it’s possible you will never meet, but having the face to face interaction is still extremely important.

Whether it’s gardening, or painting, refurbishing cars, or just making friends, having the chance to meet people in person and talk through struggles makes things way more real. It also pushes us out of our bubble. When we are on the internet it is much easier to say “oh yea, that’s a great idea!” but never do it because there is no real accountability. When you are face to face with someone there is a certain amount of natural pressure. Positive peer pressure from a caring community is a huge aid in personal growth! Public accountability can be a highly useful tool to cause us to take action.

What does that mean for you?

Firstly, I hope this will help us build an Off Kilter Brownies that can serve your needs even better.

Secondly, I encourage you to take the time to find your community so that you can grow and learn in community, also. Online communities are a good place to start, but be sure to find time in person, also. Sometimes we can meet with online communities in person. Other times, we just need to find a physical in-person community on its own. Not just to benefit you, but for the mutual benefit of all. We should always be learning from someone and teaching someone!

Thirdly, get out of your comfort zone! If you see a great idea or hear of something that might be helpful to you – “Just Do It”! When most of our interactions are online, we can mentally agree with an idea without actually acting on it. Pick one thing this week that you want to work on and take one step toward that goal. Don’t let life pass you by because you were too lazy or scared to take action steps. One step at a time, and you will get there! And even if you never get to your original goal, you will be sure to learn, grow, and improve along the way. If you don’t ever have time for personal growth, then head back to our post on “white space” in our lives!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Update on our Kids Food Allergies

I wanted to give y’all an update on our kids food allergies. One of the biggest reasons I want to do this is because of how it is going to effect the recipes that appear on here. As I mentioned, last time we knew for sure that one of our daughters had some nut allergies and was for sure allergic to rice and dairy. As I’ve been a fan of being more grain free anyway, I took that as a sign that we should just really focus on grain free recipes instead of gluten free.

Well… then the tummy trouble apocalypse came, for all 3 of our kids… My one daughter that we had tested most recently tested fine for almonds, just not some tree nuts. Well, apparently almonds might be on that list anyway. They do NOT do well with almond flour based products. So we are going to transition away from those as well.

There are of course many other options for grain free stuff, almond flour just works really well in my opinion. So in the future, you will see more einkorn based recipes as we know it works for our kiddos. I will be working on trying other recipes that look good and still are safe for our various kids food allergies.

An Inadvertent Review

Also, a minor review that was not supposed to be a review, Katie and I went to Romano’s Macaroni Grill for our anniversary. We wanted Italian food, and we wanted a higher quality than Olive Garden. Well, we ended up with a very mediocre experience, and very mediocre food for too much money.

They do have gluten free pasta, which is great. They do not have a gluten free or friendly actual menu, though. Not even just a sheet of paper someone threw together with the options. So the waiter had to remember what the options were. I did verify off of their allergen chart online after he walked away.

The food was fine, the actual pasta was fairly good, though poorly cooked as it was completely stuck together. For 2 entrees and salads plus tip, I was rather disappointed in what we got for $50.

Maybe you already go to Macaroni Grill and you love it and you can easily navigate the way they do GF items. If so, then great! If not, I wouldn’t bother.  Olive Garden does a much better job of having the proper options laid out and it’s for less money. Maybe you even have a local restaurant that will do a better job for you!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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How to Make your Coffee Pot Better!

Make your Coffee Pot Better!

As previously mentioned, I am a bit of a coffee snob. I love a really high quality cup of coffee, and I prefer to drink it black. One of the most important aspects of attaining a quality cup of coffee is the brew method. One of the best ways to do this, in my opinion, is with a french press. A french press is a bit limited in size, though. Sometimes you need a larger amount or you want it more automated. What I have for you today is a way to make your coffee pot better!

One of the downsides with coffee pots is that they rarely heat up the water to the correct temperature. The best temperature to brew coffee at is between 195 degrees and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps to extract all of the things you want while minimizing the bitter bad flavors you don’t want. This water temperature is pretty easy to hit if you are boiling water on the stove and then adding it yourself. If we are using a machine, such as a coffee pot, that obviously makes things quite a bit more of a challenge.

Another aspect of properly brewing coffee is the amount of time the water sits on the coffee grounds. There are many fantastic brew methods that do not have the water sitting on the grounds. When we are dealing with a coffee pot that is brewing at a lower temperature than is ideal, if we can affect the amount of time the water stays on the grounds, that can improve our quality in the cup.

I originally learned about the most basic technique from my brother. Since then I have added a bit more to it.

How do I make my coffee pot better? 

So we are going to be messing with temperature of brewing and the time the water spends on the grounds. For the first technique, you will want to reduce the total amount of water added to brew your pot by about 2 cups.

Here are the basics:

Heat water on the stove to 200ish degrees.

Take the carafe out from under the brew basket.

CAREFULLY pour your hot water over the grounds in the filter basket until about a half inch below the top of the filter.

Gently stir the grounds and hot water together.

Let sit about 1 minute.

Replace your carafe and turn on the coffee maker. Voila! Amazingly better coffee out of your coffee pot for not much work.

 

Concerned about pouring the hot water? Using a hot water kettle helps a lot! You can also use a modified technique.

Instead of heating water we are just going to increase the amount of time the water spends on the grounds.

Remove your carafe.

With the lid of your coffee pot open turn on your coffee pot so the water starts flowing. Stir the water into the grounds.

Continue stirring until the water is about an inch below the top of your filter.

Close the lid and put your carafe back in.

Enjoy!

I realize this is a bit unconventional, and you can certainly buy a high quality coffee pot to brew coffee shop quality. While I am a coffee geek and love my toys, spending $250-$300 is not what I want to do right now. This enables me to spend $12 for a Mr Coffee Maker from Walmart for my occasional use and still get a good cup of coffee.

Please do be careful as this involves almost boiling water. As mentioned, using a hot water kettle of some kind would certainly make this easier and safer.

Let us know in the comments if you like these kind of tips!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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White Space : The Need to have Time to Breath

White Space

What we are talking about here is going to be the use of “white space”. How to put in blank space so that you can have the flexibility to react to whatever comes up. If you have every minute of every day scheduled, you have no room to adapt to what arises.

We all know the feeling of that moment. When you have a plan in place for the day, and something not only wrecks that plan, but punches it in the face. Maybe it’s a sick child, a phone call from your boss, or just allergy season coming on.

Many things can and will disrupt our schedule. You may say there is really nothing that can be done, people get sick, clients change their end goal, and weather will decide what it had planned was the entirely wrong decision. This is very true, there is much we truly have no control of in this life, but we can control how we react and do a few things to give us the flexibility to adapt as best possible when these things happen.

But Schedules Are Good!

Let’s say your normal Saturday looks like this: You get up at 6AM, 6-8 is filled with breakfast, and getting the family to the soccer field for games until 1pm. Finally you get home at 1:30. You don’t want to waste the afternoon, so you have dutifully scheduled in homestead projects from 2-6 pm because that chicken coop won’t build itself. Dinner is from 6-7, and tomorrow is church, so everyone needs baths, snacks, diaper bags, etc. Finally everyone is in bed and asleep by 8:30. You still need to shower and get everyone’s things together for the morning so that it’s not completely hectic trying to get out the door to church. It is now 9:30. Finally you get to go to bed with the hope that no one awakens in the middle of the night crying because they fell out of bed or want a drink of water.

Things To Do

  • It’s a really good thing to have your kids do organized sports and even more important to be there.
  • Homesteading is awesome; it helps make you more self-sufficient and provides food for your family, fantastic!
  • Projects have got to get done, that is part of the deal, and progress is good.
  • Scheduling is great! We get even less done without a schedule, and making goals and putting them on a schedule helps you move forward in life.
  • People appreciate when others bathe.
  • Planning ahead so you aren’t rushing around on the morning of an event, whether that’s a daily or weekly event like church or school or a once a year event like a conference, helps to keep you from going insane and keeps you from being late.

These are all great things, no one would argue with that. The problem is that there is no room for things to go wrong, or for you to stop and have fun, or in our verbiage, no white space.

Problems

What happens if you get a flat tire on the way home from the soccer games? Changing the tire takes 45 minutes. Now your whole schedule is off. You either do not get all the work done you wanted on the chicken coop, or you keep the time spent on each thing the same and everything gets pushed back 45 minutes. Not only that but you are extra tired from being on the side of the freeway in the August heat, and stressed from the 18 wheelers flying by you, so you move slower and take longer. Now the kids don’t get in bed until 9:30 and you don’t get in bed until 10:30, further tiring out everyone for tomorrow and making Sunday a stressful day as well.

Maybe your 4 year old wants to play a game of candy land before bed. You can’t do it because that will push everyone’s bed times back too late and ruin tomorrow. It’s just one night you say, but you schedule every day this full and never take the time to play candy land.

Maybe it’s not that, but it’s that your spouse wants to go on a date, or friends want to get dinner, or your dad needs help, or your son wants to play catch, or you sprain your ankle. If you’re a family with food allergies, needing to have dinner can be a major scheduling problem on its own. The point is that life has lots to throw at us. Sometimes its fun opportunities, other times it’s unfortunate circumstances that come up. There will always be something to get in the way of your perfect day.

What’s the answer then?

The answer is to schedule in blank time to use for whatever you need to. Most people call it white space, but you can call it whatever you like. It will look different each day – maybe its one giant 1 hour block from 1pm-2pm. Maybe it’ a block of 15 minutes after each appointment to allow them to run a few minutes late. Maybe you factor in 45 minutes between your planned stop time on building that chicken coop and dinner. It’s good to play with the kids or finish up that door you’ve been fighting with for 2 hours!

You might be looking at this and thinking that you’ll get less done.  I would argue you won’t, but even if you do, what you do get is peace of mind. It helps reduce your stress  to have flexibility! You won’t have to worry about one wrench in the plans in the morning affecting the rest of the day. It means you get to pour into your kids and have fun! We need actually see them grow up, not just wake up when they are 16 and wonder where the time went and why they won’t talk to us. Sure you might have a super successful career and an awesome homestead, but I would argue that’s all wasted if your family is in shambles.

Enjoy Your New Found Flexibility

There will, of course, still be days where it is packed full. Work on being flexible with those days, too, strive to have them be few and far between, so that you can handle the stress well, and it not affect everything else. I would encourage you to take the time to factor in white space. It will only pay you back dividends in the future.

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Eat Gluten Free in Houston: Season’s Harvest Cafe

Are you looking for a restaurant that serves the freshest possible ingredients and also has great gluten free options? I think I have found your place! We had heard about Season’s Harvest Cafe in Cypress, TX several times from friends and have wanted to try it, so we decided to go celebrate our anniversary there.

They are a farm to table restaurant, and they get a significant amount of their food from local vendors in the area. What they cannot find local, they strive to at least get organic. Their menu does rotate, though I am not sure exactly when it changes. They work to make their dishes available to different eating styles as much as possible. If you eat Raw, they have that, Vegan is covered, and gluten free they can do. Their menu is full of whole foods, so it is easy to adapt any item to your diet and they are familiar with all the different allergies/diets and can work easily with you!

That is always the beauty of focusing on fresh ingredients, prepared from scratch. Things become super straight forward when you focus on basic ingredients, and it can be extremely flexible to work with different diets. Here is the one caveat: They are not a gluten free kitchen. So while they use primarily fresh ingredients, and there probably is not a ton of flour floating around, there is a risk of cross contact happening. I would characterize this as more gluten friendly than totally gluten free, but they are way beyond many other gluten friendly restaurants. They bring in all of their breads and desserts, so they don’t have flour all over the kitchen from any of their cooking.

The Environment

First off, I totally wasn’t thinking about this from a blog post perspective. I did not take anywhere enough pictures, so we will have to make do, sorry!

Season’s Harvest Cafe is set on 2-3 acres of land in North Cypress. It is in a rustic, “cabin” setting. Lots of exposed wood, log façade etc, it has a great farm feel to it which both my wife and I enjoyed immensely. It is a very peaceful environment with very little road noise.

They do have some gardens and a chicken coop, though I am unsure how much food they try to get off their own property. We sat outside for our first cool front of the year and it was quite pleasant. There’s trees, lots of birds and other small wildlife, and a little pond next to the deck we were eating on. They also bring in live music once a month which would be great fun to go for!

The Food

The main dishes were excellent! They do keep their menu small, but each item is made carefully and well. They had 6 options to choose from. Chicken salad as a sandwich or a salad, a fall garden vegetable soup (fantastic), a quinoa bowl, a humus dish (so good), a fall harvest salad (yummy!) and a raw marinated veggie plate. You can probably tell which ones we tried haha.

Katie got the jalapeno humus with a side of chicken and their vegetable soup. It came with gluten free lavash, local feta (most amazing cheese!!), soup, homemade glazed walnuts, and some fruits and veggies. I do NOT like humus, period. I don’t like the flavor, and I really despise the texture. This stuff was good, though. I would totally eat their humus any time! It was a very pleasant level of spiciness as well. Katie does not really like chili heat and said she would still not choose to have it in there but it was enjoyable and not overwhelmingly hot.

The Harvest Salad was excellent, also. It came with cranberry goat cheese, local veggies, glazed walnuts, and I added on a delicious chicken breast to it. While it was a fairly typical fall harvest salad, it was all quite tasty and satisfying other than the dressing. The dressing was fine but not amazing.

Let Them Eat Cake

Or maybe not… So here is their one downfall, though it’s fairly minor. They had 3 different gluten free desserts available. All their desserts are produced by a local bakery and brought in. Since it was our anniversary anyway, and we have to make sacrifices for all of you good people, we went ahead and tried all 3. They have a carrot cake, an espresso chocolate cookie and an almond butter bar.

They serve them warmed, if you like. We went that route and they got a bit too warm and got crunchy on the outside. They were all fairly “meh”. The cookie was probably the best, but it did not really have any espresso flavor. Both the almond butter bar and the carrot cake were fairly plain, and all the flavors ran together. I at least have to say none of their desserts were dry or crumbly. If you have been eating GF very long you know that’s a big risk you take with many gluten free baked products. Theirs were moist, but just not great.

I would not spend my money again on their desserts; I would rather go without or make something at home afterwards. Something like our brownies would be great… Had to throw in the shameless plug sorry. Frankly, this is why we have spent so long working on our recipes. We want them to be amazing, not just ok.

The Verdict

Other than the desserts, their food is quite delicious, and I highly recommend Season’s Harvest Cafe. Their menu can be easily made to work with almost any diet, and I feel like the whole family can be happy with whatever they get. They also serve breakfast, and I am excited to go back and try it out. Here is also an important part. Their silverware is not giant, it’s properly sized for a normal human. I find this to be a very important to enjoying our meal! What is up with the giant, heavy, clunky silverware that’s in style right now ?! Anyway. More on that rant later, but go check out this restaurant and make your mouths and bodies happy at the same time!

Let us know in the comments, have you ever been to Season’s Harvest Cafe and what did you think? Is there somewhere else you would like us to try?

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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Families with Food Allergies

Families with Food Allergies

I know many of you are on this gluten (or other allergen) free journey because of your children. If not, they are probably being brought along for the ride as you eat gluten free. I wanted to give y’all some personal context today with our kids and how their food allergies are shaping what we eat. Families with food allergies are certainly an adventure and we are here to help make it better.

As I’ve mentioned before, we primarily eat gluten free first off because of me. I have to eat gluten free, and I’ve had several other foods allergies that have come and gone through the years. I have been allergic to dairy, nightshades and rice.

Does it Transfer to the kids?

Many food allergies are not genetic, thankfully. Unforunately, my sensitivity to gluten is one that is genetic. There are 2 genetic markers for gluten sensitivity and I have both of them. My wife and I knew, therefore, that our kids would each end up with one marker so they would always have a risk of them of having to avoid gluten.

Both of our older girls started having GI issues about a year ago. After trying a few other things to see what it might be, we had some food allergy testing done for our middle girl who was the worst. She did come back with intolerances for gluten and diary, so we went ahead and took both girls off of these.

After that, they were still having a few issues, though less frequent and seemingly after eating “gluten free” processed products. Their GI issues would randomly flare up and, while we suspected rice, it was always a bit hard to tell. We took her back to the doctor, and low and behold, she does a strong sensitivity to rice, even worse than dairy. She also came back as having sensitivity to potatoes, though fairly mild. Thankfully other nightshades do not appear to be an issue.

How does that affect everything else?

Having a rice allergy does make things a bit more challenging for us. We do not typically eat a ton of premade foods, but for trips to the zoo, vacation, etc, it is really nice to be able to give them GF pretzels, sandwich bread, or other premade snacks. It’s also nice for friends to be able to grab a gluten free mix or bread at the store when they want to get something for our girls. Sadly, the majority of these are no longer an option.

I was going to start doing more “regular” GF recipe testing for the blog, but, alas, many of those recipes are heavily reliant upon rice flour. That does not mean I won’t be posting recipes, just that they will probably be more grain free focused. Thankfully, the market has adapted more since I was avoiding more foods, and there are more rice free options today than ever.

Is this forever?

Lord willing, these allergies will not be with our kids forever. We hope and pray they will mature out of them as I did with some of mine. Some of my went away after a couple years even as I was in my 20s. Certainly they will always retain at least one of the genetic markers for gluten sensitivity, but gluten free is much easier than gluten, dairy, AND rice free. I personally know the challenge of having to avoid rice, and dairy and nightshades. If it does continue, there are still many options and we will help shepherd them through knowing how to eat well and carefully as well as look into possible treatments.

If your kids have food allergies, don’t lose hope. It is very normal to grow out of allergies as kids get older. Even if they don’t, perhaps that will cause them to create the next big gluten free or dairy or whatever free product that will take the world by storm! Praise God we have such a huge food variety available to us and new things that become available every day! Be thankful for the fun times we can have with our loved ones, eating whatever they can eat. Most importantly, don’t let the stress of it overcome your life.

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

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What is your Favorite Coffee Mug?

Some of my Favorite coffee mugs

The humble coffee mug, in many ways, is one of my favorite dishes in the kitchen; it can be so expressive or so plain. You can have them hold 12 pots of coffee at once, or barely a drop. Coffee mugs come self-stirring, self-heating, with faces on the bottom or even ones that change colors when they get hot.

I could probably buy a new mug every place I went. Different sizes, different shapes, especially hand crafted mugs are my favorite.  I still end up only using one or two different coffee mugs every day even with several different options. Why is that? Because we all enjoy the comfort of habit even when we have lots of exciting options available.

One of our coffee mugs that is really cool, I rarely use! It is a large one and I found out, after using it, that I don’t like large mugs because my coffee cools down too fast. My favorite coffee mug is a small mug, maybe 8-10 ozs, fairly sturdy, fun looking but without too many nooks and crannies. Ironically I would still buy large ones based on appearances, but I restrain myself because I know they would just sit on the shelf without being used.

I know others who only use a yeti style mug or other travel mug to drink out of. I do use that style for my coffee when I go places, but not as an everyday mug.

What is your favorite mug? Whats your favorite dish in the kitchen that you are always tempted to buy one more if it’s cool and unique?

Make it a tasty week

Chris

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My Philosophy of Food

How do you like to eat? No, I don’t mean with a fork or with your fingers, though perhaps that should be another conversation… I mean how do you approach what foods and how much you eat. We all have a philosophy of food – a way in which we decide what we will and will not eat.

Somewhat surprisingly to myself, I would say my philosophy of food has not changed much over my 30ish years. Things have adjusted some due to my food allergies, but generally the way I eat has stayed the same.

The Basics

The foundation of how I eat is based on eating as many whole food based & made from scratch meals as possible. We eat lots of whole carrots, cucumbers, celery, fresh fruit, and salads.   Our bodies do best when eating whole foods as the fiber helps to moderate the sugars as well as helps our body to function properly.

Eating yummy tasting food is also highly important to me. I know many people who are always trying to find a good low carb alternative to this or sugar free alternative to that.  I can fully appreciate that approach, and, granted, there are people who truly have no alternative. They have no choice but to eat zero sugar. Although I know refined sugar creates some health problems and it would be healthier to never ever eat it again, sugar does some things that no other product can do, so we do still use it occasionally. Refined sugar creates a certain structure and binds water in a way that gives us that chewiness and moistness that other sugars do not do. Maybe I will write another post going more in depth on that!

I always want my food to be as healthy as possible, but I also want to really enjoy my food. I would rather eat that “treat” once a month or even once every two months, but LOVE it, instead of eating a “meh” substitute more often. This philosophy very much informs what we eat, and you will probably see that come through on the recipes I post. I have no intention of bringing y’all a recipe that’s just ok. That is one of the reasons we are only selling brownies. I have other recipes I could use, and they are good, but they are not amazing. I want to knock people’s socks (sorry kilts!) off with how good it is.

My basic philosophy of food is that I want our eating to help decrease our stress, not make it worse. Food should be fun and enjoyable, not making your life stressful all the time.

The Weeds

There are always nuances to any aspect of our lives. Not as major as the above foundations, but smaller things that still affect our eating philosophy.

We strive to produce as much of our food as possible. A very important aspect of our food is what goes into it. As we have talked about previously, sometimes it’s the little things that sneak into our food that make us sick. We want to be able, as much as possible, to control the source of our food to know what was put in it and on it. By growing our own food, this allows us to do that. What we cannot produce ourselves, we do try and get from other local producers that we know.

In relation to that, we do strive to eat pasture raised meats and “organic” products when possible. A discussion of organic, and how effective that label is in the mass market, is beyond the reach of today’s topic, but we do try to make sure we are eating responsibly raised food. Sometimes that means an organic labeled item. Because this label is expensive and takes years to qualify for, most small producers will never be able to achieve it despite having better actual products, so many times we just talk to our farmers and source locally & responsibly raised items without any labeling.

Last, but certainly not least, is budget. Eating healthy and well is important, but resources are always finite. This is one reason we raise much of our own food. We can raise a chicken for less money than the equivalent quality from elsewhere.  We do have to make choices about what we eat, and how we spend our money, so sometimes we cannot afford the quality we would prefer, but we make the best efforts where we can – and don’t stress about the rest!

Conclusion

I’m sure I have missed some aspect of my philosophy of food here. There are so many things that effect the decisions we make that it can be hard to wrap our heads around everything. Eating quality whole foods, making tasty meals, and not breaking the budget are the foundations of our eating philosophy.

What is the basic of your philosophy of food? Let us know!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris

 

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Cooking with Kids and How to Make it Easy!

I love my children dearly. They are one of the favorite parts of my day. They are joy and sunshine and lift my heart when I come home from work and they run up screaming, “daddy daddy”! However, as anyone can attest who has tried, trying to do something productive with small children can be a challenge. Cooking with kids should be something we are doing, though, and with a bit of thought it should not be too hard.

We are rapidly losing the skill of cooking in the United State. We are so attached to quick convenience and having 8 million things going on at once, that taking the time to cook and ENJOY cooking is rarely an option. Extending that to cooking with kids and it just doesn’t happen. I completely understand – we have intentionally kept our life as un-hectic as possible. but the reality is that life happens. There is my work, a small business to build and run, a homestead to take care of, kids to keep from destroying everything, not to mention our marriage to attend to.

I have to intentionally take time to not only engage with the kids but to think about cooking with them. It is not always the easiest task, nor the thing I want to be bothered with doing, but cooking with kids is totally worthwhile. I am helping them develop a lifelong skill, and, most importantly, I am showing them that I love them and they are worth my time.

Where to start?

You’ve never cooked with your kids, and the only thing that you can think of is trying to make a soufflé with a 3 year old… I totally agree with you that this is not the best idea! Find something simple to start with, even if it apples and peanut butter. Have them help you get and wash the apples, you can cut them, and then have them scoop the peanut butter onto the plate. It is super basic, but it’s a great, simple place to start your kids getting used to helping in the kitchen. This can also be a time to start showing them how you use your knives properly – something you’ll want to review constantly!

Another great way to cook with your kids is to make oatmeal with them. Two ingredients and a bit of time make it a simple way to have fun with your kids without much to mess up. I did this the other morning with our girls (age 3 & 4) and it went quite well. Plus they always love getting to pick their own toppings for their bowls of oatmeal.

Making Oatmeal with kids

Have you always wondered if oats are gluten free? Go check out our post!

Here are a few tips to help you cook with kids:

  • Find a Simple Recipe: Don’t go crazy to start with. Go for oatmeal or maybe a simple bread. That way you can focus on the process and having fun with your kids instead of making sure everything is done perfectly.
  • Have Them Measure: Have your kids help you measure. My girls love to help measure even simple things like baking powder and dumping them in the bowl. Measuring Oatmeal With Kids
  • Don’t Worry about the Mess: Be careful, but don’t sweat if they spill. Things might get messy. That is then a good opportunity to help them learn how to clean up as well
  • Most Importantly, Have Fun! Enjoy the process; our kids are only kids for so long. Enjoy them at the age they are.

Now get out there and have some fun!