Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ensign Peak

Memorial weekend we took the kids on a hike at Ensign Peak. It's a short hike up a mountain, and doesn't have the prettiest scenery, more desert and rock-like, but there's a lot of history behind it and we had fun telling the children about it as we hiked. The view at the top, of Salt Lake City, is neat too.
Jane wasn't too excited about being in the backpack in the beginning, but she warmed up to it really quick.

Scott likes to make silly faces when I take pictures. I usually won't put them on here, though they make me laugh as I'm going through them, but I felt like putting this one on today :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

I did it!

I captured my own yeast! I'd never attempted this before, but since I use a sourdough start weekly now for pizza, I really wanted to try and capture my own yeast rather than using commercial bakers' yeast, and it worked. Apparently when using commercial baker's yeast, which are made to rise rapidly, those yeast spores do not die in the gut, but instead they multiply and grow, especially when they encounter sugar, and can cause different health problems. I still use store bought yeast for my bread, so I'm going to have to experiment and see if this sourdough starter will work in my recipe or else I'll need to come up with a good sourdough bread recipe.

Seeing the bubbles form(after a day) in the picture below was so satisfying. Once the sourdough starter was about a week old and still doing really well, I moved it into the fridge so I wouldn't have to feed it every day, but instead once a week. If you want to try this yourself, a good place to start would be by watching this short clip. Lot's of good information. Click here to watch. Here are the written directions from the movie:

Starting a Starter: Simple Steps

The Beginning. Put 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour (1/4 cup + 1/8 cup) in a 2 cup ball jar. Stir vigorously.

Scrape sides. Cover. Allow to sit for 12 hours.

Feeding One. 12 hours later, if you don't see life, stir again. Scrape sides. Cover and allow to sit for 12 more


If you do see life (a few bubbles), add 1/4 cup water to the jar. Stir well. Add 3/8 cup flour. Stir vigorously. Scrape

and Cover. Set aside for 12 hours.

Feeding Two. 12 hours later, if you still don't see signs of life, dump out this mixture and start again.

If you do see life (a few more bubbles), remove 1/2 of the starter, add 1/4 cup water, and stir. Add 3/8 cup flour

and stir. Scrape and cover. Allow to sit for 12 or so hours.

Feeding Three. Remove 1/2 of the starter. Add 1/4 cup water and stir. Add 3/8 cup flour and stir. Scrape and

cover. Allow to sit for 12 or so hours.

Feeding Four. Remove 1/2 of the starter. Add 1/4 cup water and stir. Add 3/8 cup flour and stir. Scrape and

cover. Allow to sit for 12 or so hours.

Feeding Five, Six, Seven... Continue with this routine until your starter consistently shows signs of life, grows

double in size between each feeding, and is at least one week old.

If, after day three or more, your starter does not show much activity 12 hours after its discard/feeding, try

giving it a good stir without discarding and feeding. Sometimes this pause gives the organisms a chance

to catch up and the starter an opportunity to take off.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

This is a whole wheat bread recipe I put together by combining old recipes and substituting things like hydrogenated oils for healthier options. This recipe makes 4 large loaves and I make it for my family of 7 about once a week. We usually eat the first loaf, or at least half the loaf, as a snack the first day because we love fresh, warm bread right out of the oven. I freeze 2-3 loaves, depending on how much was left from the warm loaf we just devoured, and we eat those over the week. We like to have this with butter or peanut butter and honey, either toasted or just warm as a snack, and all of us eat it as sandwich bread for lunch as well.

If you don't have a bread mixer, you can knead it by hand,  but I'd halve the recipe because it's a workout. Just follow all the same directions but mix it in a large mixing bowl and do your kneading in the bowl as well.  Also, you can optionally brush the tops with butter, once they've come out of the oven, which will make the crust nice and soft.

Here is what you're going to need: about 16 cups freshly ground wheat flour(it contains more of the nutrients when fresh), salt, honey, coconut oil or butter, yeast, vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer(I buy both of those at Walmart when living in Utah, or you could get it at a store that sells food storage)

Set up your dough hooks in your Bosch and mix together 4 cups wheat flour, wheat gluten, dough enhancer, warm water, honey and yeast on speed 1. Allow it to rest for about five minutes with the lid on.

Add the salt and butter/oil and mix together. Be sure your butter is softened, if not, melt it, or if you're using coconut oil and it isn't runny, melt some in a saucepan or microwave. Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much flour. Allow the dough to knead about 5-6 minutes on speed 2.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees to warm it and then turn it off. 

 Grease four bread pans. Divide the dough and shape them into four loaves. This part is a bit sticky so feel free to grease your hands well.

 I shape the dough into loaves using both hands, holding the dough with my thumbs on top and fingers underneath and then squishing it under all around the edges. That's the best way I can think of to explain. Then I flip over the bread loaf and pinch the insides together so you don't have any holes in your bread. In the picture below, I've pinched the bottom together on half of the loaf so you can see the difference.

Let the dough rise in your warmed oven for 35 minutes, until the dough rises above the tops of the pans. Do not remove the bread from the oven or open the door during or after this time. 

Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 25-30 minutes. You'll know it's done when you knock on the bread and hear a thump. Remove bread from oven and with a butter knife, go around the edges to loosen. Allow it to cool in pans for 20 minutes.

 Optionally brush tops with butter so they soften.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread- Elisa Smith
4 c whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp wheat gluten (you can just use either the gluten or the enhancer if you only have one, and change the amount to 1/3 c)
2 Tbsp dough enhancer
2 1/2 Tbsp yeast (instant; can keep in freezer)
1/2 c honey (preferably raw...may need to warm slightly if crystallized)
5 c steaming hot water(120-130 degrees)
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2c butter or coconut oil, melted
7-9 c whole wheat flour

In a Bosh mixer with dough hooks, mix together 4 cups wheat flour, gluten, dough enhancer, warm water, honey and yeast on speed 1. Let rest for five minutes. Add the salt and butter/oil and mix together. Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time until dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much flour. Allow it to knead another 7 minutes.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees to warm, then turn off. Grease four bread pans. Divide dough and shape into four loaves. This part is a bit sticky so feel free to grease your hands well. Let rise in warmed oven for 35 minutes until dough rises above the tops of the pans. Do not remove the bread from the oven or open the door during or after this time. Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 25-30 minutes. You'll know it's done when you knock on it and hear a thump. Remove bread from oven and with a butter knife, go around the edges to loosen. Allow it to cool in pans for about 20 minutes. Optionally brush tops with butter so they soften.This bread will stay good for several days, or you can freeze for a month.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Visit from Grandpa Smith

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a week since my last post. That's quite a space for me. There are two reasons why: One, Grandpa came for a visit(pictures below) and two, we are on a 30 day free trial of Netflix. After having this for a couple of weeks, I told Scott we can never, ever have this in real life :). It's just too much of a temptation to sit and watch all of these instant play movies. We've seen a few really good ones, like last night we watched, 'My girlfriends boyfriend', a romantic comedy, and I recently watched, 'Amish Grace,' which is a true story about the shooting at the Amish school a couple years ago. After the first 20 minutes into that movie, I was a complete mess, bawling throughout the entire thing. It was sad, but clean and uplifting at the same time, and true stories keep my attention. We've been able to find a whole list of pretty clean movies. Either way, it's a huge waste of time and it shows up in many areas, like in my kitchen and on this blog. I'm just not getting other things done. But we only have a couple weeks left. :)

Grandpa Smith came for our ward's annual father/son camp out. They had it in the church lot this year which is basically in our backyard. And they forgot to take the camera. But honestly, even if they did take the camera, we may have gotten one picture because when I leave camera duty up to the men in the family, it just doesn't happen :). But we did take the camera(meaning I was there and I was in charge of the camera) to the Bees baseball game. There were fireworks at the end of the game. That was the kids favorite part-- though Annabelle was a little scared...and Jane during some parts. All four kids could care less about actually watching the baseball game. Mostly they just wanted us to walk them around the stadium and then they'd beg us to buy everything they saw. Most of which was junk: hot dogs, slushies, ice cream, deep fried funnel cakes with powdered sugar. I made sure we were all stuffed full of food before we went for this very reason. We did find a cute granny shaping balloons. The girls got tiaras and Charlie got a sword.
Watching(or hiding from) the fireworks:
Thanks for coming to visit Grandpa!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Manner of Men & Women Ought Ye to Be?

This was the name of a talk from General Conference that I loved. I felt like it was written just for me. In reality, there are so many others, especially parents, who can get a lot from this talk. Here is the piece that I've focused on and that has changed me and is continually changing me. I'll talk about why at the end of this quote. Elder Lynn G. Robbins says,

"When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future? Being patient and forgiving when annoyed? Loving and being a peacemaker? Taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and not blaming?”

How do parents teach these attributes to their children? We will never have a greater opportunity to teach and show Christlike attributes to our children than in the way we discipline them. Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger. We can and should discipline the way that Doctrine and Covenants 121 teaches us: “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge” (verses 41–42). These are all Christlike be’s that should be a part of who we, as parents and disciples of Christ, are....

Alma discovered this same principle, that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword” (Alma 31:5; emphasis added). Why? Because the sword focused only on punishing behavior—or do—while preaching the word changed people’s very nature—who they were or could become." (You can find the entire talk here. If you want to watch it, scroll down a little and click on the link on the right side that says, 'watch'. )

As a parent life is easy and fine when children are behaving and doing what they're supposed to be doing. It's when they misbehave that our true colors(or character) show through and I'm sure most of us have some room for improvement; I know I do. There are some factors, or needs that need to be met before you can really evaluate a situation. Children(and adults) need to be well rested. They also need to be well fed. If one or both of these areas is lacking, you're setting yourself up for failure.

One day I took Elisabeth to Michael's Arts and Crafts. She must have been under 18 months because she was our only child.I needed a cake decorating item and soon. It was nap time, I knew that, but I really needed to get started on my project. She may have been hungry too, or have just been fed fishy crackers or some other non-nutritous snack that acts like sugar in the body(remember, this was in our early married life when we ate junk and didn't know any better). Either way I remember that day at Michael's very clearly because it was bad. It started with whining and grabbing everything in sight. Then it turned to crying, and more crying and she would not stop. She got louder and eventually just laid on the floor and screamed. And then she'd start with the head banging. The head banging was nothing new(Only Elisabeth did this. This was child number one and I didn't know what I was doing so I'd tell her to stop and give her loads of attention. I should have ignored her or left the scene). Women stopped to stare. Some with children, some without, and I'm sure they were thinking all sorts of negative thoughts about this young mom and her crazy daughter. I learned from this experience(and unfortunately several others like it) that a child needs to be well fed, and well rested. Even now, when Elisabeth gets home from school, and just before dinner, if she walks in the kitchen and starts mouthing off or annoying a sibling, we ask her to kindly refrain from speaking until she's eaten something. And it's not just Elisabeth. We definitely have more tears and more misbehavior from all of our children when they have a low blood sugar or if it's close to bed time.

Over the years I've learned some things through my experience and through the experience of others. You'd think after nearly seven years of practice that I'd really have the discipline stuff down. Sometimes I do. But kids are continually growing and changing, and then when you have another one, even though you've already been through that age and stage before with another child, this child is completely different. I'll admit to occasionally losing my cool. Sometimes I get so frustrated with having to repeat things over and over and over again(times 100) that it finally gets to me. The thing I've found that helps the absolute most with my parenting is the guidance I get from Heavenly Father and our Savior. Countless times I've gone to them in prayer or through the scriptures to find answers, or just for comfort. They know all of us so well and they would know best how to parent each individual child. This talk was a reaffirmation that we need to be disciples of Christ, especially to those closest to us, our spouses, parents, siblings and children. I'm glad I have these words printed because I can remind myself when the kids are quarreling, that perhaps there is a Christlike attribute I can teach from this situation(and of course I need to be an example of it too). The home is actually the perfect place to practice and develop these skills. I guess I should be grateful for all the quarrels the children have at home because we get lots and lots of practice at refining our characters to become more Christlike.

Lastly, I included the quote about preaching being more powerful than the sword because I've also found that to be true. I'm not a spanker. I never have been and I never will be. I believe that children follow the example of their parents, whether good or bad and that hitting will only teach them to hit. Just as anger and using a loud voice will teach them to do the same(which is something I'm working on). I also don't believe that time-out is the solve-it-all answer. Yes, it's a simple solution, but not always the best choice. Sometimes one of our kids really does need to cool off and be alone for a few minutes. But other times, that child just needs to talk with a loving and patient parent, one-on-one. But that does require that the parent is being Christlike, selfless and in tune with the spirit so that they can follow those promptings. I know it's harder for me to feel that way when we are in a hurry, or when I'm hungry or tired(just like my kids) or if I'm too involved in whatever I want to do(reading a book or something of that sort). Parenting isn't easy. But just like all good things in life, with work and selfless service it can be the sweetest most cherished gift ever. And it truly is. It can refine and build your character in such an amazing way that it's almost unbelieveable. Nearly seems impossible. And I'm sure it would be if I didn't have the Lord by my side guiding me each and every day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Salad, wheat grass juice, and treats

About a month ago, I was talking to the mom of one of Elisabeth's friends. I stole an idea from her and we put it to practice last week. The idea was this: each week the children will have a night to choose what they want for dinner and they'll help make it. There are some health limitations I've added. For instance, we don't make fake macaroni and cheese(the boxed kind) but we can definitely make a batch from scratch. Mostly I try to stay away from boxed, prepackaged foods and from refined sugars. Elisabeth choose chicken fingers this week and Charlie choose Spaghetti(we do half whole wheat pasta). Elisabeth watched while I cut the chicken, we made our own bread crumbs, and then she painted the chicken breast pieces with mayo and then shook them up in a gallon ziploc bag with the bread crumbs. I made an oriental cabbage salad and we had some sweet potatoes and russet potatoes we cut up into french fry and potato wedge shapes and baked them in the oven. The picture below was of my second helping. I had a huge salad with a few pieces of chicken on top. It was so yummy and fulfilling. Here's the recipe for that salad:

Oriental Cabbage Salad

For salad:
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
4 green onions
1/2 c slivered almonds
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
16 oz cabbage, shredded (about 1/2 a head)

Mix cabbage and onions. Place in fridge. Optionally toast almonds and sesame seeds at 350 degrees for a few minutes. Set aside.

For dressing: (I prefer to make the day before and refrigerate)

2 Tbsp Sucanat

dash of salt

1/3 c olive oil

1/2 tsp pepper

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

Mix dressing and pour over salad just before serving. Add seeds, almonds and oranges.

I love food. I love that we're finding healthy foods we enjoy. We still like to celebrate with food, and we do, only our food choices for the celebrations have gotten better. We all love fruits and can eat them as treats. Last night for our family home evening treat I made some caramel popcorn. This was a special treat, one we don't make often even though it's healthier than other versions. The recipe is posted under my recipe tab here on the blog. It calls for brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup(or karo syrup) and Sucanat instead of brown sugar. Mostly I'm finding that the less refined sugar we eat, the easier it is to leave it alone, and the more you leave refined sugar alone, the better the real foods taste(by real I mean things that are grown in a garden, rather than packaged and processed). Sometimes I buy special treats at the health food store so that if I'm feeling indulgent, I'll have something on hand that's not as terrible as other things. A few of my favorites are yogurt covered raisins, peanut carob clusters, agave sweetened shortbread cookies and Coconut Bliss 'icecream'(not really ice cream). Mostly I try to go buy the slogan Michael Pollan is famous for, "Eat food. Not to much. Mostly plants." I think if you follow that advice, you really can't go wrong.

Today while I was at the health food store, I decided to order an ounce of wheat grass juice. While I waited for them to make it, I did my shopping. Once I was ready to check out, I picked up my wheat grass juice, sniffed it and let the kids sniff it. They thought it smelled pretty nasty. It did. I decided I better wait until I was in my car to drink it because I wasn't sure how I'd react since I'd never had it before and I didn't really want an audience. It was nasty. I quickly downed it and then had to eat a handful of yogurt raisins to make the taste go away. I was really glad I decided to pick up some yogurt raisins that day.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scattered thoughts

1. The other day, Elisabeth was sitting at the table eating scrambled eggs and ketchup for breakfast. I was cooking or cleaning, also in the kitchen, when she turned to me and said, "Mom, did you know this has high fructose corn syrup in it?" I turned to face her and saw she was reading the ingredients on the label, something I do often. She knows all about the effects of high fructose corn syrup among other things. I smiled and said, "Yes, I did. But I have recently found a brand of ketchup that doesn't have any so I will pick some up next time I'm at the store." Wow. Sometimes the things our kids say take me by surprise. Before then, I honestly didn't know she knew that phrase. Sometimes I think I'm just talking at them, but no ones really paying attention. But I guess this shows I'm wrong. They're just following our lead. Another reminder that I need to always be a good example.

This brings to mind another example which was more of a slap in the face: one morning last week, I could hear Elisabeth and Charlie going at it. He apparently was taking her things so she yelled at him and when that didn't solve the problem, she hit him. Big, no-no in our house. I came out of my room to talk with her and to our crying Charlie. I was completely calm and cool, probably because of the conversation Scott and I had the night before about us really working on not raising our voices. And we're stronger in the mornings anyway. I asked Lis and Char what happened. They both told the same story which was a good start. I told Elisabeth that if someone is hurting someone else or yelling at them, they need to be alone in their room because others don't want to be around that(this rule is nothing new, by way). She looked up to me and said, "Then why don't you go to your room when you do it?" I responded with, "I have never hit any of you, have I?" Elisabeth's answer was, "No, but you use a loud voice sometimes." This, my friends, is sadly true. I don't scream and I don't go crazy, but sometimes I do raise my voice to an uncomfortable level; one I feel bad about later and need to apologize for. So I told her then that I'm working on it and that if and when she catches me using a loud voice, she can let me know and I'll go take a little time-out.

2. I received an email from Netflix recently offering us another 30 day free trial. I signed up and last night Scott and I started watching an online BBC movie/tv show that I'd heard about. Scott and I are not regular tv watchers and the movies we watch are squeaky clean. Which is one of the reasons why we're not tv watchers(too much trash on tv). The other reason is that we're just too busy. So anyway, we'd heard about this show and we thought we'd give it a try. When we were about an hour into it, something extremely questionable happened and we immediately turned it off. No discussion. No questions asked. It was just off and over with. It's so nice to be able to do that and to have a husband who is on the same page. I really hope our children will follow our lead.

3. Last week for our relief society activity we had a Zumba class and then a class on skin care. Both were excellent. I had never done Zumba until this week. We had an instructor come and teach a class and it was so much fun! It's basically Salsa, Meringue type dancing and is very aerobic. I talked with the instructor prior to the class starting and she told me she teaches for free every Saturday morning at a church building that's only about 10-15 minutes away from where I live. I went today and worked up a good sweat. I'll be going whenever I possibly can.

4. Jane is now 13 months. She's still not walking but she's getting closer. She will now walk along furniture, she'll walk with her walking toy, and she'll pull herself up from the ground to a couch or some other furniture that's her height. It's funny to watch her try and sit down again when she's standing up to furniture. She grips the item with her hands and then sits back as far as she can, still gripping the top, slowly sliding her hands down the item until her bum is pretty close to the floor and then she drops to the ground. Here are a couple of pictures. In the last picture, if you look closely, she's kind of upset. Sometimes she gets upset just before she drops and when she can't feel how much farther she has to go down.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Becca and Blake's wedding

I flew out to Washington this past week for my sister Becca's wedding. Scott took a couple days off of work and stayed home with all four kids. A total of 78 hours that I was away. That's the longest I've ever been away from the kids. Prior to this trip the record was probably 12 hours, for a couple of one-night hotel stays Scott and I took on anniversarys. I'm grateful Scott stayed home with them because it was a whirlwind of a trip with lots of traveling. Becca got married in the Tri-cities temple so once I flew into Seattle, we drove four hours to Eastern Washington(five to six hours on the way back because of traffic on Snoqualmie Pass) and then came back to Seattle for the reception. I had a really nice time and was so grateful I was able to go and even more grateful I was able to spend a little time with my mom on the morning of mother's day and her birthday which I haven't done in awhile. Here are some pictures of the event.

Bella(Becca's 4-year-old), waiting outside of the temple and looking as beautiful as ever.
Fred(my older brother), Robin and their cute family

With our parents
Mama and Bec
ItalicSister pose. Me, Becca and Bella
Sadly, this is the best family shot I got. Becca's not even looking at the camera. Oh well.
After the wedding, some of us stopped at the cemetery where my maternal grandparents were buried.At the reception

Me with my older sister Pepa and three of her four kids. From left to right, Andre, Pepa, me, Lani and Leia.
This picture has Stephany in it as well. She's on the far left. She's my great niece, though we call ourselves cousins because of our age difference or similarity. She's from Mexico and is staying with my parents for a couple of months volunteering at the elementary school with my mom while working on her english(which is good already). I had so much fun getting to know her.
Stephany and I on Mother's Day with the fruit bouquet she made for my mom. She stuck it in wheat Grass which I thought was brilliant since my mom likes to use wheat grass in her diet.
I arrived back home in the early evening on Mother's Day. Before I had left I told the family that the best mother's day gift would be a fairly clean house, dinner, and the biggest mother's day card/picture ever(like from the movie 'Ramona and Beezus'.) To my surprise they did all three! Scott made a very yummy lasagna. I was delighted by everything. On the left of the picture shown below, the family drew a map/diagram of me going to the airport in Utah and flying out to Washington and then coming back. The picture displays the mountains, some big surrounding cities, the airplane, me with my luggage and our home. There is also a note on there from Scott and Elisabeth. I love it! Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mother's out there!