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Archive for January, 2010

Recently my husband and I took down our artificial Christmas tree. It’s usually a big  job, so this year we did a little bit each day. We took down the ornaments the first day, then the sting of silver beads the next day, then the lights the following day, and finally the branches of the Christmas tree.

We keep each rung of branches separated and place a rubber band around each set of branches. There is also a specific color at the end of each branch to help us keep them sorted. Since we store our tree in the attic where there are temperature fluctuations the rubber bands dry out and break by the following Christmas— making the assembling of the tree more time consuming and challenging. Since the rubber band is placed around the end of the branch, the smaller branches on each branch remain open, which create more bulk and makes packing the tree more difficult.

This year I wanted to change all that. I wanted to find a new way of securing the branches and have them wrapped tight enough so that all the branches would fit into one storage box.

I had some plastic bags that I’ve kept for such an occasion as this! These recycled plastic bags held all the sorted branches together tightly and will last through several seasons. With a little searching through my recycled plastic bags, I was able to find the right bag length for each set of branches.

I used my thicker plastic bags and ones shorter than the the set of branches I was storing . I snipped a small hole in the center of the bottom of the bag. I inserted my scissors and cut all the way to the end. I flipped the bag and cut to the other end.

This created a hole at the bottom of the bag. Holding the handles of the bag (or holes that serve as handles) I inserted all the same size branches into the bag at one time.

As I push the branches through to the bottom hole of the bag, I continue pulling on the handles until the bag was in the center of the branches. When the bag reached the center of the set of branches, I stopped pulling on the handles. I adjusted the bag to make sure it was in the middle.

I then lined up all the packs of branches in size order. I placed the branch packs into my storage box in descending length from longest to shortest. I then placed the center pole, tree stand, and tree skirt (wrapped in tissue paper) into the box.

Next Christmas, when I put up my Christmas tree, the tree skirt will come out of the box first, then the tree stand, the center pole, and finally the branches from shortest to longest with the shortest going on the pole first, then the next longest until I reach the longest branches.

Label and reuse the plastic bags for as long as they will last. This will make for a few less plastic bags in our landfills and oceans.

I hope this tip will make it easier for you to take down, store , and put up your Christmas tree.

Let me know how this works out for you.


Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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grain-free blueberry pancakes

A few Sundays ago I had a tremendous yen for pancakes but didn’t want ones made of grain. Grains had been giving me a few problems. I ODed on all the baked goods during the holidays that took a few weeks to clear out of my system. Besides, my bag of sprouted spelt flour was down to a few granules. I searched through my pantry and fridge, and I came up with a few ingredients that I thought would make some nutritious, delicious pancakes.

As I rummaged through my pantry and fridge, I thought of the flavor combinations I wanted in my pancakes. I found some dried, unsweetened coconut; eggs; frozen blueberries; vanilla; maple syrup; milk; walnuts; almonds; and salt.

It took three tries to come up with the proper combination of ingredients for these pancakes. I wanted them to be nutritious, delicious, light, fluffy, and hold together. The first few pancakes didn’t hold together (no gluten), so I added an additional egg as I made each pancake. I kept adding eggs until the pancakes held together.

I used cream of tartar in the first first week’s batch hoping to make the pancakes fluffy. The pancakes rose only slightly. The second week, I used baking soda thinking it was baking powder. The pancakes rose a bit more but had that soda taste:(  I read the label carefully for the third week’s batch, b-a-k-i-n-g p-o-w-d-e-r. The pancakes came out perfect— golden brown and fluffy:)

With all the experimenting, the pancakes were gobbled up each week by my family! Sooo thoughtful and kind to put up with my experiments! They all agreed that the third week’s batch was the best.

So, here’s my best grain-free pancakes from my (test) kitchen to your kitchen.

My Best Grain-Free Pancakes

Makes 9 to 10 pancakes

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup organic almonds, soaked and dried; will make 1/2 up of almond flour when ground

1/2 Cup of dried, unsweetened, shredded organic coconut; will make 1/2 Cup of coconut flour when ground

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 range-free, organic eggs (large eggs)

1/3 Cup grass-fed, organic, whole milk (or whole organic coconut milk)

2 Tablespoons organic maple syrup

blueberries or fruit of choice ( if frozen, defrost and discard liquid)

coconut oil or your choice of fat

1. Grind almonds in blender until fine.

2. Grind coconut in blender until fine.

3. Break up any clumps of coconut flour or almond meal.

4. In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients together—almond meal, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder.

5. In a second bowl, mix all the wet ingredients—vanilla, eggs, milk, and maple syrup.

6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix batter.

7. Fold in fruit. If using frozen berries, defrost and discard the liquid (I drank the blueberry juice).

8. Laddle 1/4 Cup of batter onto oiled skillet.

9. Let the pancake cook at a low flame until bubbles form.

10. Loosen the pancake and flip.

Modifications and suggestions: This versatile and basic pancake recipe is full of fiber and protein. The almonds can be substituted with walnuts. The blueberries can be substituted with other fruit. Cow’s milk may be substituted with whole coconut milk. Maple syrup can also be substituted with another sweetener such as agave to prevent the blood-sugar spike; although there is so much fiber and protein (from the shredded coconut, the skin of the whole almonds, and the eggs) in this pancake that the sugars will be slowed down. I added a sweetener to the batter so that the pancakes can be eaten as a convenient, healthy snack during the day without adding drippy syrup. If you plan to use syrup on the pancakes, the maple syrup may be omitted from the batter.

My vegan friend said that to hold the pancakes together without eggs, I can use some soy flour.

Since eggs are a very delicate protein and there are five eggs in this recipe, I cooked these pancakes with a very low flame. I used two skillets to speed up the process. You may want to try a griddle at a low heat.

This recipe is featured in The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.


Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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