Monday, November 18, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Ninety (On Learning to Slow Down and Relax with the Help of a Spelt Banana Muffin)


Here is a really moist, completely lovely, spelt banana bread that comes with clear instructions on how to make and how to eat. Certain of the instructions are mandatory, others offer some flexibility.

1) Make Muffins as set forth below.
2) Eat only when sitting at your nicely lit table (no eating on the run)
3) Enjoy with a glass of milk (cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond - your preference), or cup of coffee (or cup of chai)
4) with the newspaper open (sounds so antiquated),
5) No electronic media allowed near or on the table or in your hand
6) savor each bite, sip your drink, relax for a moment.

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup organic sugar
2TBL organic black strap molasses (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole grain VITA SPELT flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/4 cup orange juice
2-3 ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and then mix in mashed bananas and orange juice.   Mix well.  Bake in 12 muffin pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

OK, did it work?  Did you slow down for at least 20 minutes?  I hope the answer is yes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Days One-Hundred Eighty Two through One-Hundred Eighty Nine (Seven Days - On Eating)

Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding
In the Shadows Reflecting on the Week
In the shadows, we gain perspective. As we peer back and look forward, we see what worked, what didn’t, what we should change, and what we should keep just the same. Last week was a first for us, but perhaps, not the last. As Tim scaled the Great Wall in search of vast opportunities in the eastern frontier, I had to take on the daily drive from Upper Manhattan to Westchester and back again, throwing in a few Brooklyn and NJ detours along the way. Tim works where the kids go to school, so the drive is usually not on my agenda, and certainly not round-trip twice a day. The kids and I planned how to make seven days less stressful even though the days and nights required more organization from the tween and teen and more mileage from the quinquagenarian. We did seven days solo, and we did it well.
Homemade Home Fries
Spelt Right Bagels, CC, Bacon,
Homemade Pear Sauce, Homemade Custard

We planned it around food, around dinner and breakfasts, around go-to-bed times and early rise times, around planning ahead, packing your backpacks, having your phones, and not-losing it when you did not have your phones. We planned for mistakes, we made mistakes, but we got over them. We cooperated. We made messes. We cleaned them up. We did homework. We forgot homework. We laughed, sang, yelled, danced, and smiled.
The Dining "Room" Table -
 It's More Like the "Dining Corner"

Most transformative of all, though, was that for each of our meals - breakfast and dinner - we sat at our dining "room" table beautifully set and lit as if for guests, and ate our foods with appreciation of their inherent gifts rather than inhaling the foods as an afterthought on the way out the door. It became ritualistic to gather together to share these two meals, talk about the day to come, and the day that just finished. By being purposeful, we calmed our souls and set the tone ready to take on the challenges of each day. We started a new tradition, which we will incorporate into our daily routines. It worked, and we like it.

In all of this, I also made some new recipes, received feedback, and made them again, modified and better as result of the input from the peanut gallery.

So, we are not going to offer all of the recipes for the week (that would be totally insane), but we will tell you our menu, show you some photos, and give you a revised version of the recipe that started and ended this 7 day sojourn: Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding, but this time with less bread, smaller chunks of bread, and less sugar. Definitely, a better version within the shadows."

• Lunch and Dinner: two batches of moujadara (Lebanese lentil rice stew)
• Dessert: Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding

• Chicken Pot Pie (I made the inside; Spencer made the crust) YUM! and salad with homemade dressing
• Protein Bars for Olivia (made by Mom with love as a sure solution to curb the protein lows. Quick recipe: 3 cups all natural rice crisp cereal (I used Trader Joes), 1 cup unsweetened raw almond butter, 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill ground flax seed, 3/4 cup natural Tjs natural chocolate chips, 3/4 cups natural Tjs white chocolate chips. Mix all ingredients but chips together in large bowl. Melt chips in double boiler. When they are melted, mix in. Press the mixture into a buttered 9 inch pyrex pan. Cool in fridge. Cut in squares when done. Put in baggies for quick snacks for school.
• Homemade apple sauce (just peel, slice, de-core a bunch of old apples, add water as need, cook until mushy, add cinnamon to taste, organic sugar (optional), mash with a potato masher)

• Breakfast, homemade spelt banana muffins (made the night before), homemade apple sauce (made the night before) scrambled eggs
• Snack - protein bars (recipe above)
• Dinner: Shepherds pie (made the night before) and salad

• Breakfast - homemade custard (made Tuesday night)
• Dinner - the most amazing chicken and mushroom soup with onions, carrots and potatoes. In large sauce pan, sauté a finely chopped onion with pulverized garlic and 1 teas salt, add 4-5 chopped carrots, keep sautéing, add 2-3 chopped potatoes, keep sautéing, add 2-3 chicken breasts, sprinkle in tarragon, basil, salt and pepper, add frozen green beans if desired, cover all with filtered water. Cook until all is cooked. Take out cooked chicken, cut up chicken in small chunks and put back in. Add more flavor if desired (made Tuesday night)

• Breakfast: (spelt right bagels with cc and bacon!?!, homemade pear sauce (pear-ple sauce as named by O), homemade custard squares, side of bacon)
• Dinner: leftovers – lentils, chicken soup, hamburgers, and whatever else remained in the kitchen with homemade homefries.
• Time to go grocery shopping

• Green Bean Stew with tomatoes and chickpeas
• We all fell asleep after dinner, then Olivia woke grumpy and protein deprived (the green bean stew was not enough to help with a protein low). I made a quick meat and tomato sauce over noodles to help her out.

• Both kids out
• Beth dinner solo at local Italian Restaurant (It was a little over-the-top to have so much free time!!). No clean up, no planning, no nothing. Wow!

Sunday – start all over again (Tim arrived home safely from his eastern adventure, but still is on eastern time, so went right to bed after an early dinner. Just to prove that I love him as much as I love the kids, I made….)
• Spelt Right Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding –with less sugar (in the shadows)
• Chicken pot pie, non-traditionally made by being folded in Spelt Right triangles (pictures to come)
• Green Bean Stew – repurposed from Friday’s dinner with local ground beef, onions, eggplant, and olives sauteed in EVOO with the green beans. Very very good!
• A new batch of apple sauce
• Green leaf salad with endives, black olives, dill pickles, and tomatoes with homemade dressing with EVOO and balsamic vinegar
• AND, whole spelt white and dark chocolate chip cookies.

Monday- will see a repeat from all the leftovers from Sunday.

What are we going to do for Tuesday??

I believe I am obsessed….

Here is the revised recipe - a picture of which is in the shadows.

7 slices Spelt Right cinnamon raisin bread. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 – 400 until crisp (10 minutes each side). Let cool. Put in plastic bag, and crush with rolling pin Set aside.
2 TBL melted butter
4 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
1/4 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (so much better than bleached white sugar!) (we halved the amount)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla
(we took out the raisins)

Butter the bottom and sides of an 8" glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Put bread in bowl, pour melted butter on bread.
In medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Eighty-Two (Spelt Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding)


The New York Marathon is in town!  Thousands of toned tonies have descended upon the City to show their super human endurance running 26 miles through this concrete jungle.  I totally admire and am slightly envious of these folks.  For god's sake, I am proud when I accomplish 2 miles!  Not that I would not want to be one of those Superhuman Toned Tonies, I'm just not.

To jog or to blog?  That is the question.

To blog, cook, bake, and clean.  Those are the answers.   That is my life - at least for this week while my spouse is world traveling and I am preparing to stave of the inevitable chaos of the coming school week.   The goal with baking and cooking on overdrive today is to make the mornings less grueling and the evenings less exhausting during my solo parenting week.

So far, I have made:
            Two batches of lentils with rice (mojadarah).  One has already been eaten.
            Cinnamon/Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding - already half eaten

My plan is also to make:
           Chicken Pot Pie (there are already rumors that it will be devoured in full tonight)
           Chicken Soup
           Stuffed Mini Eggplant
           Shepherds Pie
           Lubi - green bean stew

Perhaps too ambitious?  Maybe I should call this my own little marathon.  26 hours of cooking rather than 26 miles of running.

Here's the recipe for the Bread Pudding.  Definitely counterproductive to any two mile jog I have done, but  downright AWESOME according to two eleven year old critics.

Notice the beautiful organic sugar.
So much flavor and not that weird color white
Spelt Right Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Toasted to Crisp
Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding – adapted from All

9 slices Spelt Right cinnamon raisin bread.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 – 400 until crisp (10 minutes each side).  Let cool.  Break in to one inch squares.  Set aside.
2 TBL melted butter
1/2 cup raisins
4 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (so much better than bleached white sugar!)\
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
What the Goo Mix
Should Look Like When Ready
Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter over bread.  Sprinkle with raisins.
My Young Friend Ying Adding the Ingredients
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

According to my two eleven year old assistants, Olivia (photographer) and Ying (baker), the bread pudding was TOTALLY AWESOME!

 Photos by Olivia K, age 11

Totally Awesome
Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding
Pour Goo into Bread
Just Before Baking