Today – 10/1/12

Happy October, everyone!

I told that to my sister this morning, and she promptly asked me what October was.  🙂

*Urgent News*  This is going to be a ramble-y post.  So it is a little disjointed.  Some of it will make more sense when you see the pictures.  I’m not sure about the rest of it.  😛  If you would rather, just scroll down to the pictures. 🙂  (I am in a bit of a smiley face mood today.  You’ll se what I mean in a minute.)

Today has been a quiet day.  I spent it giving my room a good cleaning since we have a good family friend coming to visit us tomorrow, and she will be staying in my room.  She will be here for ten days.

Once I was finished with my room, I spread out the cookbooks that are in my room, and continued with the menu planning.  I currently have 30 recipes/meals picked out for October.  I still need to pick out the recipes for the nights when Noah, Meiling, and I will be cooking ethnic foods.  And I need to chat with Mom about what we are going to bring to church on the meal Sundays.  I just realized that 30 recipes is enough.  I kept thinking that I would need one more, not remembering that we already had tonight planned.  Well, it only took me till now to figure that out.

We have lots of cats right now.  Most of them are technically kittens, as they were born this Spring and Summer.  They are feeling the slight chill in the air, and have been cuddling in a large pile on the deck.  Very cute!

I have had a cold over the weekend, a most miserable cold that hasn’t wanted to go away.  I have been taking the home remedies that I usually take, but I didn’t start them until I had already had the cold for a day.  I thought that the cold was allergies at first.  But I figured out that it was a cold on Friday morning.  Now I have been taking Master Tonic and Elderberry Syrup hourly (except at nights and while at Church).  I took a break for a few hours today since I was getting a bit tired of the Master Tonic.

On Friday, while I was sick in bed, I finished “Health for Godly Generations” and started “How to be Your own ‘Doctor.’”  It was quite fun reading that while I was sick.  I read about a few things that I could use while I was sick.  I have been drinking peppermint/parsley tea to help with congestion.  I’m not sure if it is helping, or if I am just getting better, but I am definitely less congested than I was yesterday!

Another remedy that I read about (and tried!) said to take an onion, chop it up, put it in a bowl, and sleep with it as close to your pillow as you could.  I tried it, and it kept my nose so clear!  But I had this feeling that I was going to knock it off the bed during the night.  Well, on Saturday night I didn’t knock it off. But last night was a different story.

I woke up to a clang just before 4 this morning.  Sure enough, I had hit the bowl with my arm and sent onions flying across the floor.  Not only were there onions, but onion juice, too.  I just grabbed the onions, tossed them in my trash can, wiped up the juice, and used the Swiffer to mop up the area quickly.  I decided that I would just leave the Swiffer and put it back in the morning.  (Trust me, there is a point to me telling, and you reading, this!)

At 5:30 our outside dog, Shadow, started barking at something.  My window was open, and the sound came through quite clearly.  Lucy, my little dog who was sleeping right next to me, immediately sat up, put her paws on me,  and started barking.  I shushed her in a few seconds, but she kept staring at something across the room.  It was the Swiffer.  She did not like the Swiffer.  I finally got her to calm down, but the next few times Shadow barked, she would lift her head to watch the Swiffer.  I don’t think that she quite trusted it.  🙂

Oh, I am SO excited.  We are going to get some more herbs.  Actually, quite a few.  I can’t wait.  I am going to make all kinds of things with them.  Can’t wait!

Here are a few pictures I took today.  None of them are particularly good.  But they are Today.  🙂

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Kitty pile – the one looking right at us is Toby.  We don’t know if it is a boy or a girl, but it has one orange toe.  Hence the name:  Toby.

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Meiling swinging

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Upis down!  (means upside down – some little one in our family said that, not sure who)

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Ooooooh, I love this.  Like LOVE love this.  The last roses of summer (actually, there are probably more that a dozen on our knockout rose bushes)

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Kitty

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Asparagus for dinner – we were going to grill it, but the grill is out of gas.  So I pan fried them, with the leftover marinade from the zucchini (see below).  They were very good.  Quite different than what we are used to, but in a good way.

And it is not going to fall off the plate.  I just felt like tipping the camera that far.  So I did.  😛

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The zucchini.  Again, we were going to grill these, but [see above].  I marinated these for a half hour in an Italian dressing I made.  Next time I will marinate them longer.  But they were pretty good.  Again, very different than what I am used to.

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Another kitty pile

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The view from our driveway

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The trees on the other side of the pasture that lies across the road

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I LOVE this fence.  It’s just so…country…semi-rustic…fence-like.  Like you couldn’t tell that last thing.

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Love that sky!

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Up the road

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The mums have bloomed

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I LOVE these leaves.  They are in my favorite part of the yard.  The trees are so close together that the leaves practically block out the sun.  It is absolutely beautiful.

Brownies–A Recipe

Fall is officially here now (although I think that it has felt like fall for about a month).  It has definitely been cooler out – last night the temperature dropped down to 37 degrees!  I have been looking forward to the cooler weather, but now that it is here, I am not enjoying it so much.  Well, maybe once I get used to it, I won’t be so chilly all the time.  🙂

We have been busy. (I am really starting to sound like a broken record, am I not?  Maybe I should just stop saying that all the time, and you can just assume I am busy.  How’s that sound?)  We were out of town two weekends ago (my grandmothers birthday!), and then my dad was out of town the next week.  Mom and us children did all kinds of different things (a Christian Civics class, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert at Art Hill – followed by an impromptu dance, and a fun movie night with friends).  Saturday we got together with a whole bunch of friends for kickball – dads v. children.  I systematically forgot my camera almost everywhere we went, with the exception of our out of town trip.  I hope to post about that soon.

I also have just about forgotten about my blog.  Not completely, because I keep checking on it every few days or so, but not posting.  I keep thinking “Oh, I need to post that recipe,”  but I just move on, because, you guessed it, I’ve been busy.

So without further ado, here is my brownie recipe.  Here is the link to the original post.  I will include directions for making them mint-chocolate covered, but you can just as easily make them plain (and they are delicious that way, too!).

Grain-free Brownies   (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (you can use semisweet, but I used bittersweet)
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter, unsalted
3 Tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa (I think I used regular once because we couldn’t find the Dutch.  Still very good.)
1 1/4 c. coconut sugar (Sucanat, evaporated cane juice crystals, or just plain ol’ white sugar would work here, too)
3 large eggs
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. almond meal (if you use almond flour, let me know how it turns out)
1/4 c. coconut flour

1.  Start by putting the oven rack right in the center of the oven, then preheat the oven to 350*F.  Grease either an 8”x8” square pan or your mini muffin tins with butter (this will make about 40 brownie bites, maybe a few more).  Melt the chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate, butter, and cocoa powder together in a double boiler, or a makeshift double boiler (a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water – a metal bowl might work, but it may get too hot).

2.  Combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a separate bowl.  Next, add in the melty chocolate mixture (if you haven’t eaten it all).  Now add the flour and the meal, and stir until well mixed (but don’t stir too much).

3.  Scoop the batter into your pan or muffin tins.  Bake the 8”x8” pan for 35-40 minutes (I usually check my grain-free baked goods ten minutes before the earlier time, so I don’t over bake).  The bites will take 10 minutes.  Be very careful not to over bake the bites.  It is very easy to do.  (I did it the first time.)

4.  Let the brownies cool.  Or don’t and just dig in right away, and burn your tongue while you’re at it.  If you are planning to coat your brownie bites in mint chocolate, remove from pan and let them cool completely before coating.

Notes:  Don’t be afraid to play with the ratio of coconut flour to almond meal/flour.  I will probably try using a bit more coconut flour and less almond meal next time.  Oh, and I am sure stirring in some whole chocolate chips into the batter before spooning it into the pan would be delightful.  I really like that idea.  If chopped nuts are your things (they are not mine), you could add those in before baking, too.

(I actually remember being at a friends’ home when I was, oh, five, and complaining quite loudly about there being nuts in the brownies.  I stand ashamed.)

Mint-Chocolate Coating for Brownie Bites

1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips
Peppermint extract

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, or a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Add the peppermint extract a little at a time, stirring well and tasting after each addition.  You want it to be minty, but not overpoweringly so.  I would guess I used somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 tsp., but I am not sure.  Just do whatever tastes best to you!

Turn the little guys (brownies) upside down, and coat the top and side(s) (does a round brownie bite have a side or sides?) with the chocolate.  I did this with a spoon, dolloping it over the top and swirling it down the sides.

Refrigerate until the chocolate is hardened.  If desired, take them out of the fridge when they are mostly hardened and swirl some chocolate on top or decorate them in some way.  Refrigerate again until thoroughly hardened.

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So whether they look like this…

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…or this…

…enjoy!  Either way you make it, let me know how it turns out!

~Allison

Mint Chocolate-Covered Brownie Bites

If you remember from this post, I had experimented with making some grain-free brownies.  I made them again the other day for a bridal shower.

They were just as great, and I had so much fun making them.  I made a double batch of batter and it made 85 or 86 bites.  The baking was just the short part, though.  After I had finished baking the last batch, I started melting chocolate to cover them with.  By the time the chocolate had melted the first batch of bites had cooled and were ready to coat.  It took quite awhile to cover all of them.  But, as I said, it was fun.  I had some extra chocolate after I covered all of them, so I took it and made little curly cues on the top of the brownies.  They really looked like chocolates!

For the recipe, click here.

This time I *actually* took pictures of them.  I will also include a few photos from the shower that took place the next evening.

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Cooling

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Melting the chocolate

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Coating the brownies with chocolate

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*drip*

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Decorated

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Mmmmmm….

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Packing them to bring with

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At the shower

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Punch glasses

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I would have to classify this picture with the pictures of the telephone pole – the gray sky and cool tones

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The food table – most everything fell into the categories of either chocolate or fruit.  They even had chocolate fondue!

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GF German Chocolate Cheesecake!  These were great.

Aromatherapy

Lately I have been reading a great book titled Aromatherapy.  It is by Kathi Keville, who has been researching herbs and aromatherapy since 1968, and Mindy Green, who has worked in the natural products and complimentary health care industry for about 40 years. 

This book not only covers therapeutic uses of essential oils, but also has chapters covering massage, facial care, body and hair care, and cooking with essential oils.  I am currently reading the chapter on cooking with essential oils.  I especially enjoyed the chapters on massage and facial care.  The chapter on facial care gives instructions on how to give a facial, which is something I want to do in the near future (my mom is looking forward to that:)).  Giving Mom a massage with oils will be very fun.  The recipes for lotions and creams look great, also.

Since reading this book and receiving encouragement from friends, I have been using essential oils more often.  Some of my favorite things as of yet have been using lavender oil for headaches, peppermint oil for stomach aches and nausea, and lavender and marjoram oils for sleeping.

For a headache, take lavender oil and rub it across your forehead and temples, and at the base of your neck.  This doesn’t work for all headaches, but it usually helps me.  My headache is usually gone within ten minutes!

When my stomach is feeling yucky, I rub peppermint oil diluted in almond oil over my stomach.  If I start feeling really sick, I will also smell some peppermint oil, either right from the bottle or I’ll put a few drops on a tissue and use that.  You can also put the tissue with the peppermint oil on it in your pillow while you are sleeping, and then you can have a peppermint pillow!  To dilute peppermint oil, use a 2% dilution, which is 10-12 drops for every ounce of carrier oil (I usually use either almond or olive oil).

The other night I was having a hard time sleeping.  I had gone to bed around 9:15, and it was 11:20, and I still wasn’t asleep!  I took some marjoram and lavender oil (since my aromatherapy book suggested them), put a few drops on a tissue, then tucked the tissue in my pillow case.  I also used an essential oil blend called “Anxiety Release,” which I put on a tissue and tucked into the slats of my sister’s bed above me.  I started feeling sleepy almost instantly, and was asleep in 40 minutes.

Note:  Although the Aromatherapy book has some really good information, it also discusses some mature subjects.  Please use discretion.