What is this “Farina” you speak of?

Hot goop on a cold, cold day! (sung to the tune in my head)

Farina n. flour or meal made of cereal grains, nuts, or starchy root

Farina looks like cream of wheat. Um, more accurately, one could say cream of wheat is farina. It’s white and smooth and oh, so good! Guess what though? I just found out it doesn’t always have to be! No? Yes!

I went on my investigation for whole wheat farina as I said I would here and found that it can be purchased for a minimum of $1.69/lb. for the organic variety.  Sickening. Non-whole wheat farina is about $.89/lb in the bulk bins at NewPi. I fretted too soon though! On further exploration I stumbled upon Wardeh’s blog where she mentions having purchased whole wheat farina just to realize she could make her own for a lot less money. I took her tips, made them my own and voila! We had whole wheat farina for dinner last night. No, please, hold the applause. Thank you.

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I started with two cups of hard wheat berries which run approx. $.99/lb. if my memory serves me. I threw them into my blender, turned it up pretty high for about 30-40 seconds and boom! I had farina. It was a little hardier than we’re use to and I may blend it finer next time, but it was still good and the baby ate it which is my real kitchen test.

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On Wardeh’s suggestion I used three cups of water to one cup of farina. The water should should be brought to a boil before adding the grains. I generally add raisins to the water so they have time to rehydrate and plump up. Stir in the meal and turn heat to low. Allow cereal to simmer for approximately ten minutes stirring a few times to prevent sticking. When cereal is dome serve and add sweetener and toping of your choice! We went with milk, honey, cinnamon, and ginger along with the raisins last night. It was tasty and inexpensive to boot!

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Think about it everyone. You’re getting the whole grain this way. Nothing has been removed or altered. This is good, honest eating.

Some other topping ideas could be: agave, stevia, dried cherries, craisins, apricots (dried or not), strawberries, cocoa powder, dates, carob chips, chopped almonds or walnuts, etc. The possibilities are endless. It is truly an artists canvas.

For those of you who remember me mentioning that Erik doesn’t think this qualifies as dinner, don’t worry. He knows how to make any meal his own!

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Breakfast for Dinner (in a non-offensive way)

What a beautiful morning!

view from my window right now

view from my window right now

There’s not a cloud in the sky , the sun is shining bright and the air is still. I believe they refer to this as “the calm before the storm”. This evening it’s suppose to thunder sleet, freeze itself with with up to a quarter inch of ice and then peacefully snow down up to eight inches. Glorious! If you live even fifteen miles south of me you can expect more icee, less snowee. Bummer, huh?

This week all I seem to want to eat is warm comfort foods. If Erik was game, we’d be living on farina and granola (note to self: google “whole wheat farina” and see if that cookbook was just yanking your chain), but he’s not, so we’re not. Instead we’ve had to branch out to add in breakfast rice pudding.

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It’s such an easy meal really. You make a pot of rice according to the directions on the bag. You then add cinnamon, ginger, agave, and raisins to taste and top it off with a swirl of milk. Delicious! I made it for dinner last night and shall be warming the leftovers up for breakfast this morning.

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A New Resource

I’ve made a new friend. It’s name is PaperBack Swap. It’s really a thing of genius. You take ten books you don’t plan on reading again (so far I’ve found 63) and post their ISBN numbers. Then you get two credits with which to choose any two books you want that other people have posted. You choose your books and they are mailed to you by their previous owners on their dime. If someone chooses a book that you’ve posted then you mail it to them (on your dime) and receive another credit to get another book. See, what did I say? Sheer genius.

It only costs about $1.50 to mail a paperback by media post. Taking into account that even if you find one of those $.01 books on Amazon postage is still a minimum of $3.99 you’re really getting a deal. What type of book are you looking for? I can pretty much guarantee they will have it or something similar. So far I’ve just picked amazing cookbooks, but I’ve also started looking at their homeschool text books. Great deals! Did I mention that if no one wants your books but you want other peoples you can buy credits as well? I know, it’s a little shady sounding, but for under $4.00 a credit, we’re still beating Amazon!

Above are the pictures of the two cookbooks I have thus far requested. I’ll let you know how I like them! Based on their reviews they should prove to be quite interesting!

If you would like to join PaperBackSwap please do so using the link to the right or mentioning my nickname: reluctantcaterpillar. It’s another way to get credits! Try it… I think you’ll like it!


Ice Cream Recap

I updated my previous post about ice cream making with a revised recipe. I’m going to go ahead and put it here too so you don’t miss it. It’s delish!

I’ve played around with this recipe enough and made enough changes that I think I can now call it my own. Here’s what I made:

Amazing Chocolate Covered Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream

  • just under two cans coconut milk (save the rest for a smoothie in the morning!)
  • 1/3 cup carob powder (cause it’s way cheaper than quality cocao powder)
  • 1/3 cup cacao (cocoa) powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (watch the label for high fructose corn syrup!)
  • 6 Tablespoons agave syrup
  • one handful of frozen strawberries

Throw everything in the blender and let her rip! Blend until it’s as smooth as a baby’s backside. Put in a bowl in the fridge for as long as you can wait. I throw it in the fridge while I’m making dinner and then it’s ready by the time we are for dessert. Then freeze according to the manufacturers directions on your ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can just freeze it and eat it like shaved ice or turn it into popsicles. This stuff is amazing!


Agave Nectar

What is this “Agave” I have been heard to speak of? It is a Mexican/South American plant that look like this:

and is solely responsible for the production of this:

It’s good for other stuff as well. Agave nectar is more and more commonly being used as a sweetener in home food preparation for the following reasons:

  • It is 10% glucose and 90% natural fructose (unlike the unnatural fructose of High Fructose Corn Syrup) according to one source. Those numbers can vary rather drastically though depending on the vendor.
  • Agave nectar naturally contains iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • It is more slowly absorbed by the body than white sugar and as such is lower on the glycemic index (a 40-45 approx.). This basically means you will miss out on the sugar roller coaster. Regardless of what the particular glucose to fructose ratio is.
  • Can be used by vegans, children under two and acrobats (in case we have any acrobat readers).
  • Agave nectar is sweeter than sugar (as is honey) so you can use less of it.
  • It’s a real whole food. it hasn’t been processed and refined within an inch of its life.
  • It dissolves smoothly in cold liquids unlike most other sweeteners (honey and sugar in particular)
  • Agave tastes good. Case closed.

So how does it work in baking? Besides making your baked goods soft and moist you mean?

  • Like honey, you can cut down on the liquids in a recipe by 1/3.
  • As it’s 25% sweeter than sugar you adjust accordingly: 1 cup of sugar becomes 3/4 cup agave (like those mad math skills?). Wikipedia says to use 1/3 cup agave for every one cup of sugar the recipe calls for. Their math skills aren’t as gloriously honed as mine. Really, you should just experiment and find what works best for you and yours.
  • If you’re baking with it it pays to reduce the oven temperature by up to 25 degrees as it can cause your baked goods to brown more quickly otherwise.

Use it in other ways too though: in a smoothie, in your tea or coffee, instead of maple syrup on pancakes, on hot cereal or in ice cream to name a few. Have fun with it.

Here are some links to yummy recipes using agave as a sweetener (the first three are mine!). Let me know how it goes for you and share your recipes if you have them!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crunchy Crumble

Chocolate Covered Strawberries Coconut Ice Cream

Blueberry Oat Bars

Agave Marshmallows

Chocolate Bars

please note that I personally use raw agave nectar and that is what the above facts and stats apply to


Blueberry Oat Bars

Here is the afore promised recipe. Sorry I didn’t get around to it yesterday as communicated. We made this with the yummy farm stand blueberries that Erik’s parents brought back for us from their trip to Indiana last weekend. Yummy!

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil bottom and sides of an 8×8 pan.

Filling:

 

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 c. agave
  • 1/4 c. orange juice (or whatever juice you have on hand)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbl. arrowroot powder (cornstarch in a pinch)

 

Heat the first four over medium high heat to a boil. Stir in arrowroot powder and vanilla. Continue stirring as it thickens up into a syrupy mess of purple deliciousness. Remove from heat and set aside.

Crust:

 

  • 2 3/4 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 oz. apple sauce ( I used a jar of leftover baby food)
  • 7 Tbl. agave
  • 6 Tbl. water
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbl. coconut oil (or another 3 Tbl. applesauce)
  • 1 Tbl. orange juice

 

 Throw 1 1/2 cups of your oats into the blender and blend to a powder. I used steel oats so they went from this:

to this:

Add rest of oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 

Spread half of batter on bottom of oiled pan and smooth level-ish. Pour in  the syrupy mess of purple deliciousness. Cover with the rest of the batter. Bake 30 minutes and cool before cutting. Enjoy!

*If I was to make this again I would have skipped the whole wheat flour and just used more oats. I had just run out of oats was my problem. I also would have used steel oats just for the blender part and rolled oats for the other half. Again, I ran out after 1/4 cup. It was still mighty tasty though! I just think those changes might make it slightly less hearty and more like dessert less like a meal. Though it’s been nice to eat as a meal replacement in a jam!

*Oh, and if you use all oats it wouldn’t be hard to fine tune this to be gluten free either. Enjoy!


I’ve got the Blues!

My daughter tends to really like two foods at a time. She’ll eat other stuff (sometimes), but mainly just these two items. For the longest time it was yogurt and noodles. A duo of good enough for you while quite filling foods. No complaints.

Right now those two items are breast milk and blueberries. At this exact moment in time it’s the pair of them simultaneously. Why right now? At 4:30 in the morning? Because, my friends, blueberries are not that filling and when you’re a growing nineteen month-old, neither is what your mommy’s producing no matter how much you enjoy either one. So you’re hungry all night long as you were too cranky and tired to eat before going to sleep because church went later than you’re used to. And nursing every thirty minutes all through the night is such a bore. What a tough life has the baby!

With blueberries on the brain, and plentiful at this time in the season, I will be sharing a yummy Blueberry Oat Bar recipe later on today. When I can thonk think more clearly.


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