Food & Entertaining

Like Water for Chocolate: Cacao Superfood

Raw Cacao

Thanks to my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor I’ve been making slight changes in my diet these past two weeks.  I recently underwent Chinese Body Typing and was told I’m an Earth Yang.  In Chinese Body Typing the doctor looks at your body and makes a determination about what types of foods you should avoid and consume more of.  It’s pretty interesting; and has 1000’s of years of history to back it up.  So, I’m an Earth Yang which means no VEGGIES for me.  He says I’m a GRAIN GIRL, meaning 50% of my diet should be grains, the other 50% is halved between animal product/meat and fruit.  Fruit includes vegetables that have seeds!  My doctor suggested I try something that I was unfamiliar with; raw cacao powder.  I mean, obviously I AM FAMILIAR with CHOCOLATE!  So what’s the difference?

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Hildegard’s Essentials: Essential Oil Tips from a Saint

Saintly Tips

Who better to get essential oil tips from than a Saint?  Right? Hildegard’s Essentials are herbal remedies from Saint Hildegard adapted for modern-day essential oil use. Hildegard of Bingen was a 12th century nun, composer, author, herbalist, healer, and visionary.  Her visions from God inspired her to become a herbal healer and to write extensively about the subject throughout her life.  It is for these visions and writings that she was granted Sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church.

In her works she discusses the healing properties of 17 plants that are commercially available today in essential oil form; I’ve highlighted 10 of them here which I’ve named “Hildegard’s Essentials”.  Hildegard didn’t use essential oils.  She used the whole plants (steams, leaves, bark, or resin), which is the traditional way herbal medicine is practiced.  With today’s amazing distillation technology we are blessed to be able to use essential oils in our herbal remedies.  Oils are much more potent than there whole plant counterparts; and less oil is needed to be effective; making oils a natural choice for herbal remedies.  So, I’ve substituted essential oils for her herbs.

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Einkorn Blueberry Muffins

einkorn blueberry muffinsOne of our household’s favorite fruits is blueberries.  My youngest little boy LOVES them!  I decided to try out a batch of blueberry muffins using einkorn flour.  I followed Carla Bartolucci’s recipe in her book Einkorn.  The muffins turned out great!  They are a little denser then muffins made with modern wheat flour- but their flavor is richer and nuttier.  I would gladly trade a little bit of fluffiness for the flavor of einkorn muffins (not to mention the lack of feeling sick!).  I used blueberries from Plant City, Florida- which is pretty much Florida’s berry capital!  The berries were perfect- juicy and flavorful- and the best part- they popped in the oven spreading their juicy goodness all of the tops of the muffins!

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Einkorn Pizza Dough

Easy Make From Scratch Einkorn Pizza DoughMy absolute FAVORITE food is PIZZA- it’s been my love since girlhood and I’ve never outgrown it (I don’t plan on it either)!  The recipe that I make for my pizza dough uses einkorn wheat flour.  If you don’t know what einkorn is click HERE to read my einkorn post.  Working with einkorn is slightly different than regular flour- it’s a little stickier and it takes longer to absorb liquid.  “Einkorn: Recipes For  Nature’s Original Wheat” by Carla Bartolucci is my go to einkorn cook book.  It’s pretty much the must have guide to baking with einkorn- if you plan on getting serious with einkorn buy her book!

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Einkorn- The World’s First Wheat

Fertile Crescent Map

Map of the Fertile Crescent

About 12,000 years ago in a place known today as The Fertile Crescent agriculture was born.  We know from the archaeological record that the (likely) first grain to be domesticated and farmed was wheat.  The Fertile Crescent includes parts of the following modern day countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.  It’s is shaped a little like a crescent moon- hence the name.

A particular type of wheat grows wild in the region of the world- it’s einkorn.  Einkorn was the wheat that was first picked from the wild and domesticated all those thousands of years ago.  Over the centuries that have since passed humans have modified and cross bred with other grasses; einkorn and other early forms of wheat (emmer and spelt).  What we are left with today is modern wheat- which is actually very different from ancient einkorn.

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Gluten Free Eggnog Pie

Gluten Free Eggnog PieEggnog is just delicious- and such a holiday treat!  Ever since I was little it has been a favorite!  I can remember begging my mother to buy it as soon as it arrived in the grocery store.  This year while playing around on Pinterest I discovered several recipes for eggnog pie.  Yum, yum, and more yum!  My husband loves eggnog too- so this was the perfect new desert to add to our holiday fun!

Eggnog is a traditional holiday beverage; served from Thanksgiving to New Year’s here in America.  It is made of eggs (shocker!), milk, cream, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Traditionally it was made with raw eggs- but due to FDA regulations American eggnog is not raw.  It dates to the mid-17th century and was probably invented in England.  Most likely it was derived from an older milk drink from Medieval England called posset- which did not contain eggs.  Eggnog arrived in America with English settlers in the mid-1700’s and quickly became a favorite beverage.  Eggnog traditionally contains alcohol- brandy is the choice in England and in America it’s bourbon.

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Vintage Christmas Wine~ Smoking Bishop

smoking bishop collage

Christmas time is the time for festive cocktails.  I always find myself craving something warm (even though it’s hardly ever cold here) and the past few years I’ve been giving mulled wine a try.  Mulled wine is an old drink- it dates way back; definitely to the Middle Ages and some sources say even to Roman times.  It’s a European concoction and has traveled with European settlers around the world.  In a nutshell mulled wine is red wine that is simmered with spices and sometimes sugar is added.  It is served warm, and will quickly warm the body from the inside out.  English versions are called mulled wine, the German version is called glow wine, and the Scandinavian version is called glogg.  There is also a drink called Wassail- which is sort of related- but not the same thing.  Mulling spices usually include: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice.  Oranges are included as well, being a winter fruit they are the perfect addition.  The inclusion of oranges also gives us a clue that (until the mid 20th century) the drink would have been considered extremely special and expensive, as oranges were expensive to import from Spain.

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All Wrapped Up at Christmas

‘Tis the season for wrapping lots and lots of gifts!  I’m sure all of you have pulled out your scotch tape, ribbons, wrapping paper, little gift cards, and scissors.  I have a serious love/hate relationship with wrapping.  I DREAD the wrapping process, yet somehow once I get started I strangely enjoy it (I think the Christmas music and hot chocolate have something to do with it).

One way that I’ve found that helps me get into the spirit is to find pretty wrapping paper that inspires me.  I like to sort of create a wrapping scheme each year.  I love to use natural colors and elements in my schemes and I especially love incorporating something homemade also.  Last year I used brown paper and wrapped it with simple red raffia ribbon.  I used Christmas stamps and stamped Christmas trees in green on the paper.  It turned out really cute (of course I don’t have a pic- this was before I started blogging)- but it was a little time consuming.

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