Chicken Stew

I was sick these past few days.  It started with “why do all my bones feel like water” and a fever.  Then it was all about congestion, violent sneezing, and coughing.  Hacking up a lung, to be exact.  And finally it has settled into my sinuses, depriving me of a sense of taste and smell, and also my ability to take any kind of meaningful deep breath.  For a few days I even napped.  NAPPED.  I hate napping, and if I do it, you know that I really don’t feel well.  I am drinking loads of tea, both iced and hot.  I have hit this thing with pharmaceuticals (Buckley’s Complete), naturopathic remedies (wet sock treatment) and essential oils (tea tree oil behind the ear).  It is just not budging!

So, given all of that, you can imagine that I left my husband to his own devices for supper for a few days in a row.  He’d pretty much cleaned out all the leftovers in the fridge and was starting to have cereal, so I figured I should try to actually cook something.  I took mental inventory of what was in the house, and thought I could likely come up with a decent chicken stew.   Hoping that the chicken stew would end up being a cure all for me, I gathered up my ingredients.

First:  put a whole stewing chicken in a stock pot (my chicken was frozen solid).  Add in a quartered onion, a couple stalks of celery cut into pieces, a large carrot cut into chunks, a bay leaf, 2 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. thyme, and 1/8 tsp. pepper.   Cover this all with water.  Head back to couch and let simmer for 3 hours, or until the chicken is fully cooked and falling apart.  (Apparently the house smells great at this point, but today I have no idea.  So sad.)

Next:  remove pot from heat.  Get out a second large pot, or a bowl, and a strainer.  Pour the liquid into the strainer, saving all the good stuff to pick through and add back into the stew.  *I have known more than one person that very carefully strained off their stock RIGHT DOWN THE KITCHEN DRAIN*.  Don’t do it.  Make sure your strainer is over a pot or bowl.

Let things cool down so you won’t burn your fingers taking apart the chicken.  In fact, my preference is to really cool down the stock, in the refrigerator, so I can take any extra grease off the top.  If you don’t have time for this – here’s a little trick.  Get a whole bunch of ice cubes and dump them into the stock.  Wait a few seconds, and use a slotted spoon to pull them back out.  Some of the extra grease will congeal to the ice cubes and come out with them.

Once you’ve removed any extra grease, pick through your chicken and chop it up.  Put the chicken back into the stock. Repurpose your carrot!  Chop it up into smaller pieces and put it back into the stock too.  Start heating it back up, and when simmering again, add in any other veggies you like.  I put in potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Frozen veggies would be good…..just whatever strikes your fancy, really.  Also, add seasoning to taste.  I usually find it needs more pepper, and I also like to add some chicken bouillon seasoning, just to bump up the flavour a little.  I used 2 tsp. of Epicure chicken bouillon, since it is allergen free for me.  (My cousin sells it, and gave me insider information on the specific ingredients!)   Once the veggies are cooked, you can thicken it up.  I used ¼ cup water and about 3 heaping tbsp. of potato starch.  You may need more or less thickener – add gradually and gauge as you go.

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Sadly, my sinuses are still clogged, and it didn’t cure me, but my husband assures me that it was a good meal.

Note:

  • I had to use my husband as taste tester while I added seasonings, because I literally could not taste anything about this meal. I could only tell that it was hot (as in warm to the touch). I’m gonna need my taste buds back soon.
  • Since I’m still kicking around the grain-free thing, this obviously fits.  Just watch your “add-ins” – spices, etc. – and this is easily an allergen free meal.

The Adventure

I was coming home from Costco one day last week. Costco is a big enough trip in itself, when you have a toddler and infant in tow (thankfully my mom was with us….well heck, it’s her membership!). The timing worked out so that we would get home and it would almost immediately be nap time. I thought for a brief moment, “Let’s be a fun mom. Let’s not go straight home.” (And yes, some days you have to coax yourself to be fun! Okay, at least for some of us it takes coaxing for spontaneous fun! 🙂 ) My toddler was hungry and I had food from Costco that would make an easy snack. My infant needed to eat. Let’s stop and do something fun!

We stopped at a local trail near our house, parked the car and my big, awesome plan was to sit in the trunk of our SUV, eat a snack, feed the baby, and watch the geese and birds. It would be fun, simple and a quick detour on the way home. HA. I forgot the Golden Rule of20150428_104415 parenting… Everything takes (at least) twice as long with kids and at least one unexpected thing happens.

First unexpected thing….the trunk of an SUV is actually not as big as a room. It’s just a tiny trunk. Oh, and the random stuff in your trunk? It’s in there. Oh, and you just went to Costco, right? Yeah, that stuff is in there, too. And your toddler, and you, and your hungry infant. So now, I am simultaneously trying to move groceries around, get a snack out, feed the baby, make sure my son doesn’t sit right ON the eggs and bread, and oh yes, keep the fun alive!

This is supposed to be my big, fun idea…don’t get stressed, don’t get stressed, don’t get stressed…. (Pause for a tea break. Thank goodness for my tumbler keeping my tea warm. At least that’s one constant!)

Second unexpected event… A mom in the park’s favourite words to hear, “I need to pee!!” Oy. We clamber out of the trunk (trying not to land on the eggs and bread), stop feeding the baby, put her on the floor by the passenger seat and rush behind the car to the bushes. Whew, made it. I didn’t even get pee on his shoes or mine. Yeah, keeping it real. Time to clamber back to the trunk, move some more junk around, grab the angry, hungry baby and resume the fun! I think my favourite moment was when we were on the way home and I ask, “So pal, was that fun? How did you like my idea?” and he responds, “It wasn’t that good. Claire was crying too much.”
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My little adventure has somehow become a new favourite activity. My son is always asking to “go watch the geese.” We went again today after a few errands and I was slightly more prepared this time – a cleaner trunk! We even managed to enjoy snack time while the baby slept, and then ventured out a bit for some exploring. My husband and I are ALL about limiting electronics and “screen time,” so sitting outside listening to birds is a nice break to the indoors and a child’s desire to watch TV. It can be beautiful, exciting and totally EXHAUSTING being the person that is in charge of helping teach a child everythin20150428_105024g about the world, but that is a job I am glad to have. Some days though…..some days….I need a break from the millions of questions!

I tell you though….sometimes being a mild Type-A, OCD, introverted mom is not easy… It can be hard to keep the fun alive while thinking about needing to vacuum the car after your adventure or colouring with your son while worrying about breaking crayons. 🙂

Next time, I think we will make it a real adventure with binoculars and a blanket. (It’s the simple things, folks.)

 

Barbecue Sauce

Last week I was at my naturopath’s office, and she uttered some terrible, terrible words to me.  She said, “Due to what I believe is long-term ongoing inflammation, we’re going to need to  go GRAIN FREE for at least a month to see if that makes a difference.”  That “we” was a royal “we”, because only one of us has to go grain free, and it’s me.  It could be worse, and might get worse.  I might be headed for the A.I.P. plan – Autoimmune Paleo diet.  If you’ve never heard of it, check it out, and tell me what you would eat.  Yeah……sad days.   (Although she doesn’t know it, Mickey Trescott and I have been hanging out together a lot the last few days.  Well, I’ve been hanging out with her reading Facebook posts, perusing her web site, etc.  Although I am not yet on the full blown A.I.P. diet, Mickey has a lot of good recipes and thoughts around this eating style.)

That being said, coming up with recipes to share for the next bit could be challenging.  I wish all my time could be used concocting recipes, and performing kitchen wizardry.  Unfortunately life demands that I leave the house occasionally, teach piano, etc.  Probably the simplest things will be savory dishes, for the time being. Figuring out how to bake or do desserts will be a long term thing.  Maybe I will get my grains back….but maybe not.

On the week-end we have a birthday party coming up for my husband, so I decided to make my own barbecue sauce.  One, so I know I can eat it, and two, because it’s really good!  We love to barbecue, and my husband loves to be the one doing, it, so even though it’s his birthday party, he will be doing the barbecuing.  🙂  When the kids were young they knew he was trapped out there, and would drag out their baseball bats, gloves, bases, etc.  Hey – he might as well play ball if he can’t go in the house!  My husband, bless his heart, will barbecue in almost any kind of weather – rain, snow, sleet – you name it.  Fortunately Saturday is supposed to be sunny and warm, so he’s in luck!

Barbecue Sauce

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup salsa

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. chopped onion

½ tsp. dry mustard powder

1 clove crushed garlic

Combine all ingredients and simmer gently, uncovered, for an hour.  Done!IMG_4748[1]

This is great as a brush-on barbecue sauce, or a dipping sauce.

Notes:

  1. I used medium salsa – adjust according to your own heat preference.
  2. I used red onion, because I had a part of one in the fridge. Regular cooking onions are fine too.
  3. If I have to go full bore A.I.P., there are things in here that I will no longer be able to have, which will make me sad.

The Kolbe.

Here I am. The Deliquent Daughter. Posting at 10 p.m. (oops, baby needed to eat…) 11 p.m.  on a Tuesday because I will feel so much better if I at least post during “Tuesday” then *gasp* Wednesday morning. What can I say? I love rules and order. And when I say I am going to post every Tuesday, then I WILL post every Tuesday! (Just not last Tuesday…..so….let’s forget about that, shall we?)

I promise, I’ve been busy…and not just running around doing whatever busy, but a productive learning kind of busy! I had an amazing opportunity to attend a weekend Leaders’ Retreat with Steeped Tea. Just 70 of us, the founders of the company, and a few other beautiful people along the way. We were able to spend a day at the Head Office, learning about all of their practices, learning more about the tea and their attention to detail. It was incredible. I simply love that my company has committed to the freshest tea of the highest quality, and you can tell when you taste it. They are aiming to keep tea on their shelves for a maximum of a few weeks…not in a grocery store over a few months (or longer, who knows!). We had an incredible dinner at Peller Estates, and even though I don’t drink wine (though my colleagues said it was incredible!), it was a fabulous e11158084_10155430594505524_1460392347_nxperience being on their property for a tour and the dinner…just amazing. I know that a “Pot de Creme” does not sound all that fabulous, but when it is prepared by an amazing chef, with a salted caramel topping, black pepper whipped cream (who knew THAT was a thing!) and shortbread cookies on the side……you LICK THAT BOWL CLEAN!

To top off this weekend, we had the most interesting day of training from some really top leaders in their field. Karen Hanna, Rob Luke and Jessalyn Hanna presented for us and they helped us through our Kolbe Corp assessment. At first glance, it is just like other personality quizzes you may have done before, but the very intriguing thing about the Kolbe Assessment is that it describes your instinctive personality. Straight from their website, here is how it is described,

They don’t measure how smart you are (thinking) or what your personality is like (feeling). Rather, Kolbe Indexes measure how you naturally DO things.

How interesting is that?!

20150419_160429My assessment was extremely accurate, and all my colleagues that I talked to found theirs to be as well. Our group was pretty unique in that we are all self-employed leading teams, but this would be an incredible assessment to go through as a physical workplace to find out how you can work together better. They actually printed reports and we could sit down with one person that was paired with us and see how we could best work together based on our different strengths and challenges. Now, that is a report that I want done for me and my hubby!! 🙂 The four action modes they use are: Fact Finder (red), Follow Thru (blue), Quick Start (green) and Implementor (yellow).

I am usually pretty self-aware, so some of this was to be expected, but it was really amazing how accurate it was, and the unique perspective it gave me on how to work with others. It said things like,

“Your best way of dealing with risks/uncertainty is by stabilizing. For instance, you might… decide what will/can stay the same, reduce unexpected events… etc”

I took one look at that one and just laughed. There were so many things at my wedding that I really wanted to do…but just couldn’t. Too many variables, I told myself! 🙂 The report also said specifically, “Katie, you’ve probably been asked your whole life: Can’t  you ever just wing it?” OH….I wish I could. I SO wish I could. I dream of taking those vacations where you just get in a car with some supplies (okay, I know, breaking “winging it” rules already) and just drive. I wish I could….I just can’t. I think the closest I come to “winging it” is presenting a speech that I didn’t write out (though I did practice it for an hour in the car on the way there).

There is MUCH that could be said about my Kolbe report, and you will likely hear more about how I am applying it to work and life, but for now, I am just pleased that I finished this blog post, and I am going to live in my strengths by taking time to process the report, do some research and organize my thoughts. 🙂

Grape Jam Squares

This recipe started with a mistake.  I really wanted some Smucker’s Grape Jelly the other day, so went on over to Zehrs to get some.  I got home, happily opened the jar, and…..Grape Jam.  Doh.  I mean, it tastes the same and all, but it’s just not….jelly.

So now, what to do with the jam that I have already opened and can’t return?  I remembered a recipe I had used pre-allergy for raspberry jam squares, and thought it might work for grape jam.  A little tweak here, and a little tweak there, and ta-da!  Grape Jam squares.  They are neither low in sugar nor particularly healthy, but a little treat now and then is okay, right?  🙂

Sidenote:  while I was mixing them I had the t.v. on, and happened to be dancing to a commercial when my husband walked in.  He gave me a “what the heck are you doing?” look.  I asked him if he never dances when he’s alone.  I got another look, and he walked away.  I guess he doesn’t.  Ha, ha.  I’m just that happy when I’m baking!

Grape Jam Squares

¾ cup white rice flour

½ cup brown rice flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum

½ cup butter or margarine

¼ white sugar

1 cup grape jam

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup white sugar

2 cups shredded coconut

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. potato starch

Bottom Layer:  Combine first five ingredients in a bowl.  Mix together until crumbly.  Press in a greased 8 x  8 pan.IMG_4740[1]

Filling:  Spoon jam in small dabs over crust and gently spread so the crust is evenly covered.  (obviously in the picture the jam has not yet been “gently spread”)

 

Top Layer:  Mix tIMG_4742[1]ogether the last six ingredients, stirring well.  Spread over jam layer.  Bake in 350 degree oven for at least 40 minutes until medium brown all over.  Cool completely and cut into squares.

 

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Notes:  1) the coconut can be either sweetened or unsweetened, depending on your desire in overall sweetness in the squares.

2)  Really do completely cool the squares.  They cut beautifully when they are cool.  I did not refrigerate them though – just cooled on the counter.

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3) The jelly wants to stick to the sides of the pan, so do make sure you grease, and run a knife around the edge when you go to take some out.

Banana Muffins

I’ve been on a bit of a banana kick lately.  First off – they were on sale.  Secondly – I find they work well in gluten free baking as they “mask” the gluten free flour somewhat, both with flavour and texture.  And thirdly – they are yummy.

This week I started thinking back to some muffins I used to make and love, and wondered if I could change up the recipe so thIMG_4739[1]at I could still eat them.  Turns out I could, and I did, and they are still delicious!  (see picture for proof 🙂 ).

 

Banana Muffins

3 large bananas

¾ cup white sugar

1 flax egg

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¾ cup white rice flour

¼ cup potato starch

½ cup sweet sorghum flour

1/3 cup melted butter

Mash your bananas. (This is a chance to take out your frustrations on something other than family.  Ha, ha.)  Add the sugar and flax egg. Add the melted butter.  Mix the dry ingredients together, and then add to the wet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 10 muffins.

See – that could NOT be easier!

Notes:

  1. One flax egg = one tbsp. finely ground flax and 3 tbsp. water. Mix and let sit for 15 minutes or so.
  2. If you are lazy, like me, you can mix your dry ingredients on top of the wet. Just layer them carefully, stir with a fork, and stir down into the wet ingredients. One less dirty bowl to wash!
  3. It’s still cold here in Southern Ontario, so enjoy with a hot cup of tea!
  4. True story – I meant to add xanthan gum, but forgot, which was actually great, because they work fine without it!
  5. As always, if you need to be dairy free, sub out the butter for margarine.  It will be fine.

The Plan.

I have been slacking off and neglecting the blogger world. Okay, so I only missed one week, but to a perfectionist mind, I have totally blown it. 🙂 It’s tax time, and for us self-employed people, it can be a hectic, stressful time full of paperwork, and I got totally swamped in it.

However, missing the one week reminded me that my life had become a bit disorganized. Our daughter is six months old now, and I think our family is just starting to get into the groove of a new schedule, a new pattern, a new normal. I am a women who does not love change. I am a woman who has been dealing with a lot of change over the past 7 years. I am better for it…stressful as it might have been. Currently, we have four of us abiding at home – an infant, a toddler, and two adults. And while there are many perks to having your husband at home, I never dreamed a number of years ago that we would be operating under a “both of us working from home” scenario, alongside two children. I never dreamed years ago that I wouldn’t take more than a few days off work after having my second child. All the love that I have for my job….I never dreamed that this would be the life I am leading.

I have learned in my 11 years as an adult that we can set goals, set out action steps to lead us towards those goals…but plans? Those delightful 5-year or 10-year plans…throw them in the garbage. As a slightly OCD, type-A planner, I say, “Throw them out!”

So…what is the difference between intense 5-year plans and throwing away plans completely and just ‘going with the flow…’PicMonkey Collage

I am learning so much about goals, plannings, adapting and life through my self-employment. Working from home while your husband is abiding at home through a back injury and while you have two little kids running around….is not the easiest thing I have ever attempted in my life. Oh yes, and my husband and I are both introverts. There are a lot of questions like – Who gets quiet time today? What in the world does our day look like today? Is anyone going anywhere?

I am so thankful for all the training I get with Steeped Tea to help navigate through the journey of self-employment. I have learned to ditch the 5-year plan and working on a week-to-week schedule. I have to schedule when I do errands, when I make phone calls, and when I eat. I schedule because I have learned over and over how true this phrase is – “Random actions equal random results.”

Do you know how I know that’s true? Because I try to be carefree and then realize it’s been a few days since the kids had a bath. I try to be carefree and then realize that my “I just had a baby” excuse is 6 months old and I need to get active again (Ps. I totally joined a gym this week.). I try to be carefree and then realize that my business is suffering because I am relying on my memory instead of note-taking to follow up with my customers.

The good news? The worry of a 10-year plan is gone! No need to stress about what life will be like in 10 years, because I am too busy enjoying this day, planning a little for the days to come, and dreaming about 10 years down the road instead of trying to know exactly what it will look like. I should mention that most days, one minute I am enjoying this day and the next minute I am worrying about the 10-year plan. There is never a perfect day…but it’s worth it to try!

Because ohhh what 10 years can do…. 🙂
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Single College Student…

 

 

 

 

…Family of four! Claire (72)