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Overnight, Fresh Fruit Refrigerator Oatmeal

When we came accross this recipe, we thought: "Perfect! The equivalent to a "Salad in a Jar" for breakfast!".  These individual breakfast mason jars for a perfect serving size and an easy grab-and-go breakfast straight from the fridge (it's eaten cold). High in protein, calcium & fiber; low in fat & sugar.

When it comes to flavors, the options are endless! They all start with the same basic ingredients and procedure:
 
BASIC INGREDIENTS: (per serving or 1 pint mason jar)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried chia seeds
FLAVORS:
Mango Almond
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon honey, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup diced mango (approx. half of a small mango)
Blueberry Maple
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (or enough to fill jar)
Apple Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon honey, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, or enough to fill jar
Banana Cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup diced ripe banana, or enough to fill jar (approx. half of a small banana)
Banana Peanut
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (may substitute PB2 powdered peanut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon honey, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup diced ripe banana, or enough to fill jar (approx. half of a small banana)
Raspberry Vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry jam, preserves, or spread
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup raspberries (cut each berry in half), or enough to fill jar
PREPARATION:
  1. Add oats, milk, yogurt, and chia seeds to jar, along with desired sweeteners or flavors (except fruit). Put a lid on the jar and shake to combine.
  2. Add fruit and stir gently until combined.
  3. Place in fridge overnight and up to 2 days; maybe longer depending on the type and ripeness of the fruit. The non-banana varieties have been good after 4 days for me. During the overnight soak, the oats and chia seeds absorb the liquid and soften them up.
Original recipe and images: http://www.theyummylife.com/Refrigerator_Oatmeal
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Sauteed Rainbow Chard and Mushrooms – Gluten Free

INGREDIENTS
1 “bundle” of Rainbow Chard, leaves stripped from the stem and roughly chopped
3 fresh Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Gluten-Free soy sauce or salt
2 cups Fresh Mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
Olive Oil for sauteeing
Grated Parmesan Cheese, to taste
 
PREPARATION
Clean the mushrooms by spritzing them with an organic fruit and veggie wash, then rinse in cold water. Then, trim ends off of the stems.
 
In a saute pan, set to medium heat, add some olive oil. If you are using the chard stems, start sauteing these first as they will take longer to soften up. Sautee mushrooms, as they start to brown add soy sauce and garlic.
 
Add the leaves of the chard and allow to wilt. Top with Parmesan cheese (optional)
 
Original recipe: http://www.adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com/2010/04/rainbow-chard-sauteed-with-mushooms/
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Will Wonders Never Cease?

On a drizzly midnight, the house was all quiet, not even a mouse was stirring. Joelle and I were winding down from the day’s onslaught of activity or maybe it was ramping up for the next day’s adventures. Okay, we were cleaning up from dishes and laundry, so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning. Anyway, as we were playing some Chris Tomlin in the background we went about our chores. Our home is a constant buzz of activity, like many of yours, but on this night we were treated to a special announcement.

Many months ago, we got two new farm kittens—a male and female, of course. And the children all clamored for future kittens. Outwardly, I was reluctant to concede to those dear faces. I think they had been taking lessons from our labs, with those pleading eyes. But inwardly, I was on their side. So I let nature take its course and our dear sweet Bessie, who has the markings of a Holstein cow, was soon an expectant mother. The children were so excited.

Then one day she had the kittens, but could we find them? No. We told the children that sometimes first time momma cats don’t know how to take care of their litters, but we did hunt around like private detectives trying to find those kittens, but, alas, it was not to be. Yet for some reason, she was still overly protective and had the signs of a nursing momma. She had to be hiding them, but where?
 
So as Joelle and I were finishing up and getting ready to retire, with the June rains gently dancing upon our roof top, the clock struck midnight, and to my astonishment what did I see? My-liss and Bessie curled up on front porch chair with not one, not two, not three, but four little kittens fast asleep. A pleasant little surprise indeed for us all. Now the children want to keep all of them, of course.
 

Other Farm News

What is growing on the farm is really doing well and what isn’t growing is not so happy. It all depends upon when they were planted and whether it rained or got hot or cold. Which is why we just keep planting. Some plantings are better than others and some make it and others don’t.
 
We will have peas soon and lettuce and spinach. The potatoes are making me nervous because the plants are already huge. But the onions, cilantro, carrots and dill are in desperate need of some heat units, like every other living organism in Western Washington.
 
Here’s to local food! 
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Spinach Raspberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette!

Nothing says summer like spinach, raspberries, almonds and cheese, all in one salad! It is definitely worth it to make your own dressing, you'll just love the freshness of it!
 
INGREDIENTS:
6-8 cups fresh spinach
raspberries (to taste)
blueberries or strawberries or mandarin oranges (to taste / optional)
½ c. chopped almonds
blue or feta cheese
 
Raspberry Vinaigrette:
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. dijon mustard
2 T. sugar
2/3 c. olive oil
 
PREPARATION:
Toss together salad ingredients, serve with raspberry vinaigrette.
 
For the raspberry vinaigrette: Blend first 5 ingredients together well in blender. Slowly add olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Original recipe: http://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/2012/04/strawberry-and-spinach-salad.html

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Good Gates

What an evening! Last week, Joelle and I were heading a thousand different directions between soccer and ballet when, but for a rare moment, our schedules crossed paths. It was 6:30 p.m. and Joelle and I arrived home earlier than expected, so I said, “Let’s go for our walk.” We are able to make a walk a reality a few times a week. As the day was fleeting, we got going and Stephen, our newly accomplished bike rider, accompanied us. About a quarter of the way down the road, towards where we keep the cows, Stephen crashed, “Ouch!” We got him back up, dusted him off, and were off again winding our way towards the cow pasture. Just as we made our way around a turn we noticed that something was amiss.  

 
Initially, I thought out loud, “Hmmm…the neighbors have cows now?” As I gazed towards my side of the road, I realized that the neighbors had my cows now! I took a deep breath. We haven’t had to chase cows since 2005 and it is my least favorite sport. I got on the phone, called a few neighbors, and tried to get another neighbor to stop playing cowboy on his quad! 
 
The cows had lifted a gate off its hinges. The gate was still padlocked to the post, much to the relief of my third son who was the last to use that gate. When we built that fence over a year ago we didn’t turn the hinge posts opposite directions. So, when one of the cows was using the gate as a scratching post it lifted it up and off they went—not a single cow stayed home, imagine that.
 
We got the cows moving forward again, strung a hot wire across the road, barricaded the road with a tractor and truck, and began moving the cows towards the gate. Ahhh, easy as pie. But then they up and bolted through the vestiges of our neighbor’s fence and were gone again. But they were also getting tired. While the teenagers chased cows, I had Nathan, one of my farm hands, reposition the tractor and truck since the cows were now going to be coming down a different direction. When they got to the end of our neighbor’s field and were resting, we repositioned our non-hot hotwire and started moving the cows towards the road. Thankfully, my neighbor had left all of his fence posts in the ground even though there isn’t a single wire attached to them—all that mattered was that the cows thought a fence was there.  
 
Joelle parked her car at the other end of our road and we started moving the cows slowly towards the “hole” in the fence. They didn’t want to go, but one reluctantly stepped through and began to turn the wrong way. “If that cow bolts, we are done! They will be heading to Warm Beach!” I started praying, “NO LORD!” And then, all of a sudden, my petite wife began jumping up and down and waving her turquoise blue coat like she was a matador. Then that cow, not even thinking twice, headed the right direction. I started thanking the Lord because I am sure that cow saw the hosts of Heaven hanging like a halo above her head!
 
A few minutes later, the cows were back at home, the gate was fixed properly, and a good night’s sleep was had by all. 
 
 
 
PS. Meet these adventurous cows in the video below. 

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Banana Bread Crepes

Banana Bread Crepes: a versatile recipe you can serve for breakfast, dessert or a mid-afternoon snack!  
 
Dust them with powdered sugar or dollop them with a little plain yogurt mixed with a spoonful of maple syrup and drop of vanilla extract and everyone will love them! You can also try them with fresh fruit, ice cream, caramel sauce … the possibilities are endless!
 
INGREDIENTS:
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan
1 large ripe banana 
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
 
PREPARATION:
Make the crepe batter: Blend banana in a food processor until totally smooth. Add melted butter, blend again. Add remaining ingredients and blend until they are combined. Transfer batter, which will look pretty thin, to a bowl (even easier later if it has a spout), cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight, and up to two days. When you remove the batter, it will seem surprisingly thick. Stir it to redistribute the ingredients before using it.
 
Cook the crepes: Heat a medium skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, brush pan thinly with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip* the crepe and cook it for 30 seconds on the other side, before transferring it to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. You can stack your crepes and they should not stick together. Let crepes cool completely.
 
Original recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/2012/04/banana-bread-crepe-cake-with-butterscotch/

 

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Good Fences are a Must

The first year I ran cows, I spent a lot of time researching which grazing system I wanted to use. There was barb wire, New Zealand, or just one hot wire. The choices were straightforward. Every dairy cow in our valley is controlled by one hot wire right next to the road. Being overly cautious, I settled on two hot wires. 

Well, those first cows arrived, wandered out of the trailer, impolitely walked through the hot wire, and left. OH NO! Thankfully it was Sunday and all of our neighbors were home. It took all day long to round them up. Fortunately, one our dairy farm neighbors corralled them for us. Our family went to work building a 4-strand barb wire fence with one hot wire in the middle. That was an education. Now when our cows break a hot wire fence, it is an interior fence and they are still contained by the perimeter barb wire fence. We even have combination locks on our exterior gates so that they can’t be accidently opened. Nothing like chasing cows, and cows by nature are pretty docile, but when they know you are trying to catch them or move them all bets are off. 
 
The other challenge with having fences is controlling the grass on the fence line. It takes us 40 man-hours to trim the grass in order to make sure that the blackberries don’t grow and the grass won’t short out the electric fence.
 
Last week, when we were trimming the grass, a hot wire at a post was cut and no one noticed for a day or two. Eventually the cows let us know, at least the few that are always testing the fence and our patience☺. (Hmmm, sounds like a good segue into parenting, but we will save that for another week.)
 
We are now on the hunt to find the short in the fence that the cows have discovered. I am not concerned, however, because now the cows can only wander around inside the perimeter fence and not the neighbor’s yard. But we still need to find it. We start turning off sections of fence to locate the short. Sometimes the short is a wire that is touching another wire or overgrown grass touching the wire or, in this case, a cut wire.  
 
We finally ended up finding the break. It was on a buried section of wire where it came out of the ground. I grabbed the end of the wire to fix it, but I grabbed the hot one that wasn’t shorted out. Man that wire was hot—sent a jolt right up my arm. Yep, the electric fence charger still works.
 
Moral of the story: good fences make good neighbors and let your kids fix the fence when it is shorted out!
 
 
 
 
PS.Take a look at our video below to meet the cows! 

(vw75)

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Cauliflower and Spinach Enchiladas

1 head of Cauliflower (chopped raw in food processor to resemble grains of rice)
2 cups of cooked chopped Spinach (well drained) 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 tablespoon garlic salt 
2 tablespoons taco seasoning 
1/2 cup chopped Cilantro 
1 Green Bell Pepper chopped 
1 Red Bell Pepper chopped 
1/2 Yellow Onion chopped 
1 – jar of Sweet Creek Organic Foods Enchilada Sauce
8 corn tortillas 

1 – 15 ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cups grated monterey jack cheese (optional)
1 cup sour cream  (optional)
 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
 
Spray large sauté pan with cooking spray and over medium high heat sauté; the Green Bell Pepper, Red Bell Pepper, Onion and Cilantro until tender. Add Cauliflower and continue to sauté until the Cauliflower is very tender (about 15 minutes). 
 
Add to Cauliflower the Spinach, cumin, taco seasoning, garlic salt and black beans. Stir until combined and set aside. 
 
In small sauce pan heat enchilada sauce over medium heat. Remove from heat and add sour cream, whisk until well combined. set aside. 
 
Spray 14 1/2 x 9inch casserole dish with cooking spray. 
 
Over high heat warm up tortillas on dry griddle until soft. Fill each tortilla with cauliflower mixture and 1 tablespoon of grated cheese. Roll tortilla up and set seam side down in casserole. 
 
Pour enchilada sauce over filled tortillas and top with more grated cheese. Bake uncovered in oven for 1/2 hour until hot. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. 
 
May serve with cubes of fresh avocado.
 
Recipe inspired by: http://www.oceanmist.com/recipes/208/recipe_detail.aspx
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Grace & Gratitude in the Seasons of Life

There are seasons in life where the days keep pressing forward and you find yourself struggling to keep up. Perhaps it’s just me who sometimes feels angered for the consistency of the daily routine’s ability to not quit. I kindly ask it to stop so I can catch up, breathe or just take a break for a moment, but life continues and I go through the motions waiting for this season to pass and welcome another, where I live fully engaged and quite possibly one step ahead of our day. 

There are days, many in fact, where I simply don’t feel like doing the things life asks of me. A sink lays crowded with yet another round of dishes, the laundry must be done before the pile topples and swallows one of the children and dinner must be served whether I’m inclined to prepare it or not. But I press in and take it, dirty dish by dirty dish, one load after the other. And I prepare a simple dinner that nourishes even when I’m feeling emotionally malnourished and simply exhausted.
 
If I allow it, these seasons don’t pass without lessons to be learned. In the midst of my routine that refuses to quit, rather than lament it and be bothered by it, I overwhelm it with my thankfulness. Finding joy in life’s daily struggles is a job that requires a lot of you, but the reward is a changed attitude and a new perspective on these otherwise mundane tasks. 
I’m thankful for those dirty dishes, for they signify the blessing of food and of a meal shared together. The laundry overwhelms, but it’s piled high with taekwondo uniforms, grass-stained jeans and jam-stained dresses that inform of healthy bodies and a well-played day.
 
What I’ve also learned is to give myself grace in those days that overwhelm—even in the kitchen. As summer approaches, it really is the perfect time to be a bit of a lazy cook. In this season of continuous bounty, much of the work is done for you by the soil, sun and the farmer. With fresh produce, there is very little action needed on our part to put together an incredibly satisfying meal. 
 
Shaved raw corn tossed with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and salt—perhaps some fresh herbs too if they are around—makes a perfect side salad or a meal if tossed with pasta. Any number of vegetables can be shaved with a vegetable peeler and turned into a quick salad with a simple vinaigrette and perhaps a bit of cheese. I do this all the time with asparagus, carrots and zucchini. 
 
In my recipe (below), a lime-spiked vinaigrette both flavors and tenderizes dark kale. Dinner is ready in no time, as very little cooking is needed to throw together this tostada. Yet, it satisfies both nutritionally and just by the sheer fact that it tastes so fresh and delicious, leaving you with so much to be thankful for. 
 

Photo Credit: notwithoutsalt.com

Jalapeno & Lime Marinated Kale Tostada

Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 less hungry onesith the aid of our juicer and this recipe we’ve been going through kale faster than we can remove those hearty stems. After a lazy soak in lime juice and spice the kale surrenders a bit of its heft while retaining a freshness that is so often lacking in food this time of year.

If you don’t care about skimping on some calories and mess you can fry the tortillas in a shallow pan and a bit of oil around 360°F until golden brown. Or you could also use a small pile of tortilla chips as the base making this recipe even simpler.

Tortillas

Brush 4 tortillas with butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt, then bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes or until completely crisp.

Kale Marinade

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 T olive oil

½ jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

¼ cup cilantro

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

4 cups kale, washed, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped

Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chopped kale and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes.

 

Black Beans

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 T shallot, finely chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Sauté garlic and shallots in oil over medium heat until just fragrant. Add beans and simmer about 5-7 minutes, until soft and warmed through.

Place baked tortilla on plate, top with warm beans, marinated kale, chunks of avocado and about 1 Tablespoon crumbled Cotija cheese.

 
by Ashley Rodriguez