Thursday, March 17, 2011

Apple-Banana Crumble Muffins


1 1/2 cups flour (I used Namaste Gluten Free)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce (homemade)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).  Line muffin tins.
  2. Gently mix applesauce, bananas, egg, and sugar.
  3. Fold in mixture of flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and pie spice.
  4. In a small bowl mix brown sugar, cinnamon and flour and cut in butter until it forms a course crumble.  
  5. Fill tins with a large spoon of batter and top with crumble.
  6. Bake for 18 minutes then let cool.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

52 New-To-Us Soups - #3 Ham Hock & Lentil

It tastes a lot better than it looks.

Adapted from Emerill Lagasse


2 cups of leftover Stock*
1-2 smoked ham hocks
1 1/2 cups orange lentils
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 head garlic, peeled and minced
Bay Leaf
Palm full of dried thyme (or several sprigs or fresh)

  1. Pour stock into a large pot, place the ham hocks in and fill the remainder with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 1 hour.
  2. Remove hocks from stock and strip the meat into cubes, pour back into the pot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and bring back to a boil, then reduce again and simmer for 30 minutes.

*While chicken or beef stock will work well, I used a particularly delicious leftover stock from the spare ribs we made for dinner the previous night.  It could be duplicated by pureeing a carrot, onion, celery stick, garlic cloves and tomato paste and allowing that to cook in the water and the ham hock.  Simply strain the pulp from the stock in between step 2 and 3.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wilson's Temperature Syndrome

I met with my (new) doctor this afternoon.  After blood labs and tracking my temperature 3x/day for the last three weeks, she is treating me for Wilson's Temperature Syndrome.  It's a thyroid related illness that can't be diagnosed with conventional tests.  My thyroid levels appear within the normal range, but I still have symptoms.  So my temperature was tested and my daily average temp is well below 98.6 - usually around 97.5 degrees.  In fact, after 60 temps only three hit 98.6.

My symptoms include chronic fatigue, headaches multiple times a week, migraines multiple times a month, heartburn, low motivation/productivity, difficulty losing weight, gradual and steady weight increase, insomnia....just to name a few.

My treatment includes having to religiously track my temps 3x/day, my pulse and my dosage of thyroid hormone (which starts tomorrow and is rapidly increased daily until my temperature rises).  The best way to explain it - taking very high levels of thyroid supplement is supposed to retrain my thyroid to produce on its own.  I'm supposed to be energized and warm.  Possible side effects: increased heart rate, increased anxiety - both of which are signals that my dosage is too high and needs to be pulled back.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Declutter like mad

I cannot believe how fast last month came and went.  A large part of my disbelieve stems from long work hours and a weekend trip to Ohio, which both ate into an already shortened month.  Decluttering took a back burner...but it was not too late!  With my work hours back to normal and a full week + weekend, I overcame procrastination and purged my belongings.

I brought very little more than I realized into the house last month.

The short of it (Long of it at the end of the post, for records) - Out & In:
  • 8 body spray/lotion/wash bottles > 4 skin care system bottles
  • Rice cooker and flatware caddy > Coffee Mug
  • 2 dried ink pens > Ink pen
  • 2 pairs of shoes > Set of crocheted dish towels
  • 2 pairs of jeans > Set of reusable wool dryer balls
  • Pair of jeans + glass vase > New (gifted) glass vase
  • Hamster bottle + wheel > Knife Sharpener
  • Hand-held grater + steamer basket > Mircoplane
  • Bamboo Salad bowl + Utensils (2) + Travel mug > 2 reusable travel mug
    In addition to this list - Sammit and I finally unpacked and organized our guest bedroom and office.  We filled 9 donation boxes and loaded them into the car.  We organized closets.  We swept and hung paintings.  I'll post before and after pictures later this week when everything has been tightened up.

    Next weekend we hope to tackle our bedroom and the upstairs bathroom.  Remaining on the list: The upstairs closet, known as the Angel Closet, the living room, dining room, kitchen, downstairs bathroom, coat closet, basement, garage....oh goodness.  I also have to go through 3 large tubs of clothes.  Ack!  But it sure feels good. 

    The long of it:
    I bought a facial cleanser/moisturizer set (4 small sample bottles) replaced all the body spray/lotion/wash that I got for Christmas this year.  I brought 8 bottles of unused body stuffs into the lab - made available to any of our students who'd like to smell like a vanilla cupcake or a pomegranate (?).  I'm particular (and minimal) about what I use on my parts. 

    We received a gift basket while in Ohio, many of the items go straight into the donation box, bypassing the 1-in-2-out rule, such as a stress-squeeze foam boat and sailboat cheese knives (there was a nautical theme).  However, the coffee mug and inkpen will stay.  I donated my plastic flatware caddy (doesn't have enough slots for our flatware needs) and gave my rice cooker to a student at work who will get more use out of it than I ever did.  I also tossed two pens that ran out of ink (why I kept them, I don't know).

    We received a belated wedding gift-box: a set of hand crocheted dish towels, a set of dryer balls that are supposed to replace dyer sheets (I'll review these and post later), and a stylish glass vase.  3 in, 6 out: 3 pairs of jeans either donated or given to my sister, 2 pairs of sandals that Sammit never uses, and an old vase.

    We used the remainder of our Macy's gift card during a sale and brought home a knife sharpener, 2 travel coffee mugs, and a microplane.  I donated the grater I unsuccessfully tried to use as a microplane, a hamster wheel and water bottle (we've been holding on to them since Owen died last Christmas), a bamboo salad bowl & tossers (that I'm going to count as 3 items), a vegetable steamer basket (I like the idea of the veggie steamer, but I have other multi-purpose items that work better), and a less-than-ideally designed travel mug.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    March - The Garden Start

    January brought food changes (an eliminate/challenge diet, reduced gluten and sugar consumption, etc.)

    February brought The Great Declutter (removing unnecessary items from the house and adopting rules for new acquisitions)

    March brings the start to gardening.

    I'm going to attempt to start my garden from seed this spring.  I made a valiant attempt last year, forgetting that I would be leaving for India 3 weeks after starting, that resulted in dried up little cubes of dirt.  But with no travel plans and a much larger space to grow (our 4 bedroom house rather than our 1 bedroom apartment) I smell some success brewing.  Despite my confidence, I have set aside some money for plant flats at the farmer's market again because, well, there's a chance I'll fall flat on my face again.

    Having started seeds last year, I should have plenty left to start again this year, right?  Well, not exactly.  I was not careful when storing my seeds which resulted in an accidental spill and caused a proverbial seed orgy within my little plastic baggie.  I have no idea what is what.  So, I started anew.  After some price checking, I placed orders with three online heritage seed companies.
    • Baker Seed Company is providing me with some of my produce and most of my flowers and herbs.
    • Sustainable Seed Company is provided me with the majority of my produce, a few flowers and a few herbs.
    • Stargazer Perennials is providing me with softneck garlic and 3 kinds of potatoes (fingerling, yukon gold, all blue)
    My seeds came today!
    I'm going to attempt to build two new beds in addition to using the space from last year.  One 4'x4' bed will be in the sunniest spot in the backyard, the second will be on the side of the front yard.  I'll wait until I have pictures to show before telling you all the gory details of my plans.  But I will say that I have a colored spreadsheet - that's how excited I am.

    I will say this - I'm going to attempt succession planting this year.  Meaning, I'm hoping to get nearly 3 times the produce from roughly the same planting area.  I've done a lot of reading on spring vs. summer vs. fall crops.  I've made spreadsheets of planting and maturation rates for each of my seeds.  By starting my seeds indoors, I'm given a greater window of opportunity and can have a set of plants waiting to be put in the ground while the initial set is finishing up.  For example...
    In one bed I'm going to plant an early crop of baby bok choy, which will be started inside and is fairly tolerant to cooler temps.  This plant matures for harvest in 30 days.  In the mean time, I start Leek seeds inside.  When the bok choy is harvested, the leeks and be planted in their place (with some restoration to the soil).  The leeks will grow most of the summer and harvested in September or so.  When the leeks are harvested, I can slip one more crop of bok choy in because a) it was given a head start indoors, b) it can handle the cooler temps into October, c) it matures very fast.  Now expand this idea across most of the garden.
    Some plants will be preceded and succeeded by different crops, some by the same - carrots, for example, will just be planted every two weeks or so to ensure a regular crop of mature carrots throughout the summer.  Tomatoes will be planted with beets - by the time the beets mature and are harvested the space they took up will be needed by the tomatoes - leaving the tomatoes plenty of room to grow but not wasting space early in the growing season.  I'm also going to attempt to grow basil among the tomatoes - they like each other and have different root systems, so they should live well together.