Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekly Meal Traditions Part 2: Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes

Not sure when this one started, but for quite a while now, we've made giant buttermilk pancakes and served them with a side of a sausage and egg scramble on Sunday nights.  Besides our Friday movie and pizza night, this is the one night of the week that my kids (or any of us, really!) watch TV: America's Funniest Videos first and then Home Makeover: Extreme Edition. (We pay $11 a month for our cable, so that cuts down on TV viewing quite a bit, and we sorta like it that way!)
I began figuring out a gluten free version of buttermilk pancakes after checking out Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe cookbook from the library and then actually purchasing it for myself.  She has some wonderful breakfast recipes in that book, and so I began with her pancake recipe.  Then I made substitutions, and then figured out measurements to feed five (or more many times) - three of whom can eat LOTS of pancakes.  Seems like most pancake recipes make like 6 or 8 pancakes, and that definitely wouldn't do!
Everyone here except Robert like to put some sort of goody in their pancakes.  Kayla and I really like fruit in ours - blueberries, bananas, strawberries, but the boys eat a strictly chocolate chip variety.
Fridays and Sundays, I think, are our kids favorite evenings.  They love the anticipation of a fun and favorite meal, and of course watching the flickering screen has its draw as well.

Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes

4 cups GF flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 eggs
2 1/4 cups buttermmilk (or vinegar-soured milk)

Stir together all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk liquid ingredients together and add to dry, stirring until thoroughly combined.  Use a ladle to spoon batter onto a greased griddle.  Cook on one side until bubbles form and then flip.  If adding "goodies" do this by hand, immediately after ladling batter onto griddle. This makes about 18 pancakes for us. ( I think.)

For extra indulgence, melt real butter to pour over each pancake (that's what my grandmother used to do!) and have real maple syrup on hand! YUM.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Plantar Nasty-Nitis

I'm pretty sure this was the term my friend Jess used to describe the not-fun-at-all foot injury that some runners may experience at one time or another in their running careers.  It's real name is plantar fasciitis and unfortunately, we have a case of it here at the Krum house.

And it's not me.  It's my poor hubby.
 At the Lowell, MA Half-Marathon last October

It's disappointing enough to discover this problem in your everyday running regimen, but it's doubly disappointing to be in training for a half-marathon and have to stop cold because of the pain and risk of further injury.  A half-marathon that you were planning to run with your wife and several good friends in a fun city with lots of festivities and a tech t-shirt commemorating the occasion to boot!

If you are a runner at all you understand this disappointment, but he resigned himself to being a spectator this time around and surrendered the pavement and the long runs to the elliptical machine at the gym.
Holyoke, MA St. Patrick's Day 10K

He suspected it might be his shoes, as they had visibly lost tread, and tried to hold out until his October birthday money arrived from faithful friends and family in order to purchase new ones.  The pain was not subsiding though, so we headed to a store in another town that specializes in helping runners get a proper fit for their particular gait and foot structure.

The store owner waited on us and was quite helpful, but not too sympathetic as he stated: "That injury was completely self-inflicted."  He took one look at Robert's shoes and said he should've bought new ones about 200 miles ago.  More discouragement.
Robert and Coop run the Northampton, MA Hot Chocolate 5K
(I ran backwards to take photos!  Impressive, huh?)

We bought the new recommended shoes: Saucony (on birthday credit), and headed home with a bit of hope that he might still be able to run the half-marathon which was just over a month away.  As the days passed though, it seemed evident that the foot was not getting better and a last ditch effort at healing was made in the form of an appointment scheduled with our favorite physical therapist ~ Dr. Bob. (More birthday credit. Ugh.)

It seemed like forever, but the appointment finally arrived this week.  Dr. Bob is a believer, and we are pretty convinced that he has the gift of healing.  Every seeming "terminal" problem we have had from herniated discs to hip horrors, to sacrum stress, and bum knee blues has ultimately been healed under the care of Dr. Bob.  He has hands of healing and knows the body so well, that after a quick thirty-minute session, you walk away feeling restoration of both body and spirit.
Fourth of July 5K, Springfield, MA

Well, this week was no different.  He worked Robert's foot over with those hands, taped it up with "human duct tape" as he calls it, gave him a few stretches to do, and told him to go ahead and register for that half-marathon! The pain subsided to a dull ache, and Robert was even able to run an easy three miles with me on Wednesday morning with no pain. Amazing.

He's still unsure about running the half, as it's only two weeks away now, but we're holding out hope and praying for complete restoration of the foot and his long-distance stamina.  Pray with us, if you think of it.  Running is something that we've really been able to enjoy together for the last two years, and it's no fun to have to give that up.  Working toward a race together makes it even more fun. He was so discouraged about having to drop out.

And that tech t-shirt is really calling his name! :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Perfecting the Gluten Free Pizza Crust (And Weekly Meal Traditions: Part 1)

Whole Foods stopped carrying its 365 brand pizza crust mixes, which I thought were pretty tasty and easy to make, so I started searching for a homemade pizza crust recipe to replace it.  The other brand name pizza crusts are pretty expensive, and we make pizza nearly every Friday night at our house and eat it with a salad while watching a movie.  The first recipe I found was on a blog that no longer seems to be current called Gluten Free Mommy.  The first time I made it, it came out too dry and crumbly, so I've been tweaking it over the past few weeks and think I've finally found a good combination of ingredients.  The kids have said they even like the softer, thicker crust
Our typical pizzas for Friday night are one pepperoni and one Mexican pizza with seasoned ground beef, beans, and corn.  We've had so many wonderfully fresh ingredients from the farm, though, that we've also tried pesto chicken pizza and this one ~ a Margherita pizza with farm fresh heirloom tomatoes, local mozzerella, and basil picked both from my own garden and from our farm share.  Breakfast pizza is another favorite, with scrambled eggs, ground sausage, and cheddar cheese.

Here's my recipe for the crust:

Gluten Free Pizza Crust
(Makes 2 large crusts)

4 cups GF flour mix (rice, tapioca, potato) OR 3 1/2 cups GF flour mix + 1/2 cup millet flour
4 Tbsp almond meal (or ricotta cheese)
3 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp sugar (white or brown)
2 tsp sugar (for proofing yeast)
4 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
4 eggs (room temp)
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey

Optional: 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Take eggs out of frig and allow them to come to room temperature. Place 2 tsp sugar and 4 tsp yeast in small bowl.  Add one cup of warm water and allow yeast to "proof" for a few minutes.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, xanthan gum, almond meal, salt, sugar ~ also garlic powder and Parmesan, if desired.  In a third bowl, whisk together eggs, olive oil, vinegar, and honey.  Add yeast mixture and egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.  Divide between two round pizza pans and press to form crusts.  Coat fingers with olive oil if too sticky.  Let rise in pans for 10 minutes and then bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove from oven, top with pizza sauce and desired toppings and bake again at 400 degrees until done.

Next up: Weekly Meal Traditions: Part 2 ~ Sunday Night Buttermilk Pancakes

Schoolhouse in Session

Well, we started school a few weeks back. We didn't really have a choice, as Cooper's Classical Conversations (CC) Challenge A class began on August 24th.  I was definitely NOT ready to start school with the whole crew on August 24th though.  Why does summer always seem to fly by so quickly?  When I was a kid it seemed endless, and for some reason I still believe (hope) it will be that way. 

We took Cooper to his CC Challenge class that first week, and I planned to start with the others about two weeks later, but then the email came.  It was an email from a friend in Connecticut, the mom of one of my Challenge I students, asking me what I was doing for Kory school-wise this year - his 10th grade year.

A few weeks prior, I had renewed my director's license to be a Challenge II tutor for CC.  This was mostly so that I could continue on with their suggested curriculum, which I think is outstanding. I didn't really advertise the class, as I wasn't really willing to teach ALL of the subjects it requires.  Actually, I was unwilling to teach only two of those classes: Latin II (Yikes! Latin 1 about killed me last year.) and Algebra II or Advanced Mathematics. (My heart pounds at the thought.) I could "hang" with the Algebra 1 last year, but I cried my way through Algebra II in high school, and didn't want to subject any high-schoolers to my own math fears and anxieties. (My Algebra II teacher made me go and talk to my Algebra I teacher for "math anxiety counsel." It's true.)

I wrote to my friend and told her, quite reluctantly, what I was planning to do. (Flashbacks of all of the pressure and preparation to teach Challenge I were coming to mind.) The phone rang a very short while later, and I knew what was coming.  My friend asked if I would consider taking her daughter in class again, and offered to drive from Connecticut each Tuesday, as I had done to teach on their campus last year. "I'm not planning to teach math," I said.  "Fine," she said. "And I simply cannot teach Latin II.  Kory will be doing a separate Spanish course," I explained. "No problem.  Megan will also be taking Spanish."

We prayed.  I consulted with Robert, and the deal was done!
(And I'm really thankful to be seeing my Connecticut friend on a weekly basis again this year ~ she is a sweet, full-of-grace and godliness friend ~ such a blessing to me. Pray for her.  She is driving here from 2 hours south every Tuesday and then turning around and directing her own CC campus in CT on Thursdays!)
So, for the second year in a row, my best laid plans to NOT teach my kids' CC classes has failed!  Obviously, I am resisting the Lord somewhere along the way.  Or maybe this is just the sneaky way He gets me to the places He knows I will thrive.

Well, then I felt I should call the one mom who had been interested in the Challenge I class I had planned to teach again this year, but here on a campus closer to home.  I explained that I would still not be offering Challenge I, as no one else had signed up, but that I would be tutoring Challenge II, and her daughter was welcome to join us on the same conditions of no math and no Latin.

I am now up to three students, and it is a wonderful group.  Not what I planned, but a better plan indeed.
I've also taken on a few extra students at home: M, M, and M.  :)  These three siblings, and dear friends of ours, attend CC with us on Tuesdays, and then spend Wednesdays and Thursdays doing school at our house.  Here, Kayla and M show off their favorite place to do math - the comfy green couch.
The boys, M and M, are in Cooper's Challenge A class, which makes it easy to work with all three at the same time making sure they are accomplishing their assigned work for the week.  Their "seminars" are Algebra 1/2, Latin, geography, science, apologetics, and writing.
This is their class and tutor Mr. H.  There are actually more students than shown here, but some leave for the math portion of the day, because they are at a different level than what is being taught.
I am thankful that a Challenge II class has materialized for Kory to be a part of.  Our seminars are:

British Literature - Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Paradise Lost, Pilgrim's Progress, Gulliver's Travels, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre, Animal Farm, A Passage to India, Something Beautiful for God, Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, Father Brown, a Brother Cadfael mystery, Out of the Silent Planet, The Hobbit, and The Screwtape Letters.

Biology: Exploring Creation with Biology by Apologia/Jay Wile (Hence the microscope-twisted mouths, and the gathering of pond samples to cultivate.)
Western Cultural History: How Then Should We Live (book and DVD's) by Francis Schaeffer, State of the Arts by Gene Veith, The Annotated Mona Lisa, and Classical Music For Dummies, and The Gift of Music. The students read and discuss books, watch DVD's

Logic: Traditional Logic - and we are also reading The Fallacy Detective since Kory has already completed Traditional Logic.  We also read through Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, and I added Eats, Shoots and Leaves to the class reading.  (Now I want to join the Apostrophe Protection Society.)

We are also doing a grammar curriculum together, and Kory does Saxon Advanced Mathematics via Saxon's teaching CD-Roms, and Spanish I via Switched-On Schoolhouse.

And P.E. ?  Well, with a schoolhouse this full it happens fairly naturally!  On Thursday we found ourselves with 6 homeschool boys in the backyard.  They played a fierce and fun game of football when all of the schoolwork was done.  (They each play sports on "real" teams, too!)
A couple of weeks ago, our CC director here emailed me.  She wrote, "Remember when we prayed at the beginning of the summer for a Challenge II tutor for Kory?  Well, now he has one!"
I'm not sure how I felt about being the answer to my own prayer request, but here I am.

And here is what I read in Hebrews this morning:

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 
Hebrews 13: 20-21

More confirmation, I think.  
Trusting Him to equip me (give me time to read, prepare and understand material) and work in me what is pleasing in His sight (obedience, surrender, training and teaching my children) ~ for His glory.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Nice Review of My Book...

Just wanted to let you know of a review that Gluten Free Chef and Author, Tina Turbin, did of my book today on her site.


And by the way, the book is doing pretty well, especially considering that I do absolutely NO marketing of it!  I should, I know, but WHEN?  It could be a full time job, and I already have a few of those.  I sell about 5 a month via Amazon.  I do have a few ideas about how I could do a little bit of publicizing it each month.  Now, to execute those...

:)

Tina has also written a couple of books on gluten free living.  Check out her blog for inspiring posts about the GF life!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

What The Father Has Promised...

...is happening around here!  A few scenes from the past two Sundays....
And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Acts 1: 4-8
This Jesus God raised up again to which we are all witnesses.  Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
'The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at My right hand,
Until I make your enemies
A footstool for your feet.'
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ - this Jesus whom you crucified."
When they heard this they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"  And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 2: 32-37
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.  And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:41-42



"Yet even now," declares the Lord, "Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil...Blow a trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing infants. 
Let the bridegroom come out of His room and the bride out of her bridal chamber."
Joel 2: 12-16

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Life Beauty ~ Migration Envy

Forgot to tell you about what else we got at our farm last week besides green beans and watermelon.  In the farm shop, there was a father who, along with his children, were selling Monarch butterfly chyrsalides. (I looked it up.  The plural can be either chyrsalises or chrysalides.)  They had them all dated and hanging by threads from a wooden clothes-drying rack.  They were selling them for $4 a piece, and these kid vendors attracted all kids of attention - from other kids, to moms, to grandmas, and even neighbors buying a couple of them for the little boys who live next door to her. Isn't that a sweet gift?
 Well, of course we could not leave the farm without one of these special packages!  We chose one that was due to emerge about 3 or four days later.  The dad tucked it gently in some tissue and then into a small dixie cup for transport.  At home we hung our chrysalis from a wooden skewer across a small mason jar.  (Only one we had left after all of the pickles, salsa, and tomato sauce that got first priority that day after the farm trip!)

On Tuesday, I noticed that the green chrysalis had turned clear, and you could now see the orange and black stripes shining through. We had our second week of Challenge A for Classical Conversations that day - and my first day of teaching Challenge II (Yes, I'm teaching again. I'll tell you that story later.), so we HAD to take the chrysalis with us so as not to miss any excitement that might occur while we were gone!
That afternoon, my friend Debbie noticed that something WAS happening. We all gathered around to see the Monarch emerge from the chrysalis and begin to pump blood and fluid into its floppy wings.  A truly amazing sight!  Debbie had recently heard a wonderful scientific teaching on creation and how a completely different organism appears out of the liquid into which the caterpillar dissolves completely during the pupa stage. It made me think of the new life Christ is able to give each of us - the potential for complete change and transformation are there, in Him, just waiting for our receiving....

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
Romans 6:3-5

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 
Galations 2:20

After he (the two black dots on his wings, near his lower body = male monarch) rode home in the van with us - perched on a Rubbermaid container holding the microscope we will need for 10th grade biology, he "hung out" in the kitchen for a while flapping and stretching those beautiful wings out.  When he looked fairly active, we took him outside to let him hang from one of the branches of the bushes that surround our yard, but he fluttered happily away before we could get him there.  And so high!  He just flapped and flitted to the tip tops of the highest maples around, and in a matter of seconds, we could no longer find him. It was too fast.  We wanted to keep observing his beautiful wings and ways, but he had places to go.

And you know where he's going, don't you?

For the few years I spent student teaching and then having my own classroom (16 years ago now!), there was one thing you could always count on - a migration of Kindergarteners with orange and black butcher paper wings fluttering through your classroom sometime in the spring. They were studying and re-enacting the Monarch Migration, and they were so cute.  This was in Texas of course, and Texas is the final destination of many of the monarchs that start right here in my Massachusetts backyard!  And if Texas isn't its stopping place, it's at least a layover on the way to Mexico, meaning that a huge percentage of these beauties pass through the state at some point. Just another thing that Texans are very proud to celebrate about themselves!

So wishing I could have hopped on the wings of our little friend and made the journey to a place where summer won't be over for a while! And where friends and family are dearly missed.

Sending love and prayers on those black and orange wings....


Summer Wrap Up

Every year at this time, I enter into some sort of  "season denial."  I look away when I catch a glimpse of the apples in the local orchards going from green to red.  I ignore the blush of orange and red on each sugar maple I pass. And the squash and pumpkins out in the fields? What squash and pumpkins?  I don't see any squash or pumpkins.  It's not even Labor Day, for goodness' sake.  This mental and emotional digging in of the heels never works, though, when you live in New England.  We have real seasons here, and one of them is coming to a close.

But, I feel like I can't post about the new school year until I've covered all of the fun summer details.  The historian in me just has to include every event, and this blog is really just a virtual scrapbook (with a few recipes and book reviews thrown in), so here's a few things I failed to mention over the last few months.

A lovely lunch and swim time at the beautiful home of a new friend that we met through our Classical Conversations program in Connecticut.  This was such an uplifting day with wonderful ladies talking about homeschooling, marriage, parenting, and theology!
 Another lovely ladies lunch here in town with two long-time New England friends, (well...via Ohio and Mexico), Betsy and Izckra, to celebrate Betsy's birthday. Betsy will be running a marathon this month - and we're praying that she'll qualify for a famous marathon in April!  These ladies are truly amazing, wise, godly friends - always a source of encouragement to me.
     
 Kayla did a beautiful job in her year-end ballet recital.
I am always a "chaperone" for her class, so I've only seen these recitals from the wings of the stage, but they are so much fun.  We always enjoy staying late at dress rehearsal to watch the "big girls" - the high school girls perform their numbers.  Just got signed up for another year of dance which will be Kayla's 7th year of dance.  She's decided on the tap and jazz combo class this year - based mostly on the clothes required, i.e. not tights and leotards, but yoga and stretch pants and t-shirts.  She's my "comfy-casual" gal.
We picked strawberries with Virginia - a special friend and favorite babysitter from church.  I think it may have been her first strawberry-picking experience. Doesn't she just have on the perfect outfit for it?  Strawberries are ready in June around here, and they scream "Summer has arrived!"
 
 Robert was on the Crosswalk Camp Staff for the 8th year.  He did a great job as camp pastor using the theme "Numbers" to preach each night on a different biblical number. (3=Trinity. 12=Disciples.) His sermon on marriage and the final one on the first martyr, Stephen were especially meaningful.  I love watching the  Lord speak through and use him at camp.                                                   
Kory got to compete his little heart out during his "track time" of competitive sports and at Mega Relay.  He also really enjoyed his Bible study group - in which he tries to keep it on the down and low that his dad is the camp pastor. 
 And Cooper?  Well.....he enjoyed camp as well, and might have enjoyed it even more had he not been followed around by teenage girls all week - enamored by his striking similarity to Justin Beiber. Seriously, they were screaming at and taking photos of the poor kid! 

But even I have to admit the resemblance.
What do you think?
 Brett and Jenna - more favorite friends and kid-sitters extraordinaire (they bring their Wii) stayed with the kids while we were in Bar Harbor for our anniversary.  They took the kids to pick wild blueberries - the kind that grow on the ground and require the use a special rake for picking.  We had already been to pick bush blueberries (16 pints!), and so now my freezer is stocked for the year with delicious all-local berries!  Guess what they had for dinner that evening?
Blueberry pancakes!
 Another very special treat was a visit from Oklahoma friends Mark and Christy and their two boys.  Mark and Christy met at the church we were on staff at in Oklahoma - both very active in the college ministry Robert was pastor of.  Robert married them and Kory (at age 3) was the ring bearer in their wedding twelve years ago. Now they have their own little ring bearers - two adorable and very sweet boys - whom we enjoyed taking to the "big hill" at Amherst College...
...to do lots of rolling, running, and laughing.  After a couple of nights with us, they were off to Bar Harbor themselves for a family vacation.
 We did have another, dare I say last, summer hurrah - a trip to Salisbury beach on Monday.  I am definitely not opposed to another beach escape day if the warm weather holds out, but we felt we ought to seize this week's opportunity of a 95+ degree day before school is in full swing. The waves and rip tide were especially strong that day, but we had no idea how dangerous they were until camera crews and reporters started showing up.  Evidently, several rescues had to be made that day because of the conditions that hurricane Earl was stirring up down south.
And of all days, it was the one I chose to actually enter the water.  It felt SO good.  It's amazing how a few weeks and a different beach can make such a drastic difference in water temperature, but I don't think I've ever enjoyed the water so much.  Robert and I were the only ones to brave the waves coming in and swim past them to calmer waters.  The hard part, though, was the timing of swimming back to the beach.  Both of us were pummeled by fast and furious waves.  I'm still finding sand in my ears!
As is this girl who insists upon being "buried alive" by her brothers each time we go to the beach.  She loves everything about the beach, and it is so much fun watching her sheer delight on each trip.

Well, I think that about covers it.  Summer in New England - nothing like it.  Now to surrender to the coming seasons, which are probably the reason for enjoying this one so much.

Stay tuned for:
School Days - and how I ended up teaching 10th grade
Half Marathon Training - and foot injuries for hubby
Gluten Free Pizza Crust perfecting - and lots of other recipes