Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My life will never be the same - a recipe for raw chocolate truffles

My life will never be the same.  The reason: After over two years of not eating any sugar, I found a recipe for raw chocolate truffles. I am in love.  I quit eating sugar because I wanted to see what it did for my health - and although I confess to being the biggest sugar junkie this side of the Cascade Mountains, and although I NEVER thought I could survive without the addictive white stuff, these two years without sugar have proven to be very healing for me.
Healing, but boring because I love the taste of chocolate.
Enter my friend Erin: She brought me home made chocolate hearts for Valentine's day, and my life has not been the same since.  I now make one batch a week.  I have declared these truffles my special medicine, and therefore I don't share them with my family (let them eat Snicker Bars).  They are divine, healthy, and consist entirely of superfoods.

I'll post the recipe below. (Hint: They are super easy to make).

Apart from making and eating chocolate truffles (ahem), I've been highly productive with many other things.  Come to think of it, maybe it's BECAUSE of these truffles that I AM so highly productive.  Chocolate-powered Corina - watch out, world!

Since there's been so much going on, I'll make a list and show you that way:

- I planted onions and made a movie about it.  We are putting together some tutorials for my online class, and since we have such an awesome, fool proof system for growing killer onions, we thought sharing it in a short movie would be fun. (More about that in another post).  For now, the onion seeds are slumbering in front of the wood stove, soon to germinate.

- Eva and I planted peas this week.  I know, I know, it's only February... But the weather has been so nice and warm, why not pop in a few seeds to see if they germinate?  I usually start peas in the greenhouse, and I will soon, but in the meantime, I just had to experiment with early direct planting.

- We smoked almost 20 pounds of salmon that ten-year old Luke and my hubby caught in our wild rivers in the past months.  There is nothing like smoked salmon, and considering that it costs $20 per pound to buy in the store, we made $400.  We don't make money with it, of course, but it feels like currency - or gold.

Before smoking...
After smoking...
- We pruned our orchard.  With "we", I mean my hubby and our friend Andris, who is a master at grafting.  He grafts new varieties on our old fruit trees, so that they are healthier and more productive.  We now have one cherry tree that has five different types of cherries on it.  I can't wait for the different colors to emerge!  The whole family helped pick up branches to throw on a burn pile.

- Steve is cutting fire wood.  There are five dead trees in the area where the goats were fenced in for ten years.  They like to gnaw on tree bark, and that's how they killed some of the trees.  So Steve is cutting them down and getting lots of fire wood out of it.  The boys help.  Don't ask me why Luke is wearing a bike helmet doing this.

- I have been sprouting seeds for snacking on.  Crunchy, yummy.  It ain't chocolate truffles, but it's healthy, too.  And talking of healthy: I've been going on excursions with my friends to pick nettles.  We love making nettle pesto, and we love drying them for tea.

- I'm reading "The Nourishing Homestead" by Ben Hewitt.  A lovely book by a lovely writer.

- And what kept me busiest of all was my writing.  I just wrote an e-book with three of my tutorials for homesteading skills.  It's for hard-core homesteaders and urbanites alike.  You can download it here for free.

What's going on in your life?  What are you working on?


6 Tbsp raw organic cacao powder (online here)
4 Tbsp melted organic coconut oil (online here)
2 Tbsp sweetener (I use 1 Tbsp honey, and 1 Tbsp coconut nectar)
1 tsp vanilla, non-alcohol (online here)
¼ cup cashews, ground
¼ cup brazil nuts, ground
¼ cup ground goji berries or raisins 
1 pinch sea salt

Put nuts and berries in cuisinart and chop them finely.
Place coconut oil in 16 oz measuring cup. Place cup into a larger bowl and add boiling water to bowl, just enough to reach the bottom 2 inches of measuring cup. Stir coconut oil until melted. Add cacao powder, sweetener, vanilla, ground nuts, goji berries, and salt. Mix well. Slowly pour into silicone ice cube trays. Pat the top of each heart to release air bubbles. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Store in the fridge.  Good luck trying to store them.  You will wanna eat them all.  Now.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm now officially a writer - Marblemounthomestead's new e-book on homesteading

Smoke is coming out my ears from all the thinking I've been doing lately.  I am so inspired and creative that I am sleeping two hours less than usual at night.  My mind is spinning, turning and churning (in a good way).
One of my goals in life is to inspire and instruct people who want to learn more about homesteading.  Living my life is an act of service and passion, and I love to share what I've learned and created.

I just finished writing my e-book "Three Essential Tutorials to Homesteading" that highlights some of my most popular guides on the blog.  I am offering this for free, so you can download it here!

I hope you check it out, and feel free to leave me feedback - the good and the bad.

Also, I am working my butt off to create an online course for homesteaders or wannabe homesteaders. It will be a lifestyle immersion, self paced online retreat with gorgeous e-books, info packed videos (I’m having fun with that one!), and a fun, interactive community of like-minded people. If you want to keep updated about that one, please sign up for my list!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Planting garlic, organizing, and parading at Mardi Gras

I'm sorry to tell you people from the snowy East Coast this: Yesterday, I dug compost into my garden in a T-shirt and then planted garlic. It felt like April or May. It felt awesome.
For most of the past decade, I've planted garlic in the fall, but last year did it in the spring, and it worked out fine. Our garlic likes the compost I make from goat bedding, and it thrives.
I put the boys to work separating garlic cloves into individual pieces, and they also helped me plant it.  Who else do you know who does this wearing Mardi Gras necklaces?

Before planting, I weeded all the pesky buttercup from the garden bed, and then double dug it with my old broad fork.  Have you ever used a broad fork?  I love that thing: it deepens and loosens the soil without disturbing the soil layers, which is great for the microbial life in there.  Plus, it's great exercise for the broad fork wielder (me).  Also, I think the worms appreciate not being torn up by a fume-spewing rototiller.
I spent an hour strutting around in the garden to plan my crop rotation.  I have a tattered old gardening journal reaching back ten years, where I record what I plant where, and how much of it.  It's important not to plant vegetables from the same plant family in the same spot year after year, and there are some veggies that are good preceeding crops for others, and vice versa.

I'v been on a frantic nesting/organizing/cleaning up kick.  Spending five weeks in a small RV, where everything has its place, I got inspired to do the same thing in my house, where messes accumulate daily and never get cleaned up.  So upon returning home, I attacked the play area, a space underneath our stairs that has been an eye sore for years, because it's in plain view of everyone who enters our house, and because it is chaotic.  I filled two big boxes with books the kids don't need any more, and a big garbage bag with toys for the Goodwill.  Then I cleaned up an area on my kitchen counter which has held bins of the boys' homeschooling curriculum.  I organized it and stashed it neatly on shelves in the play area.  Voila!

Other nesting activities:
- Collecting duck eggs.
- Baking sweet bread with the duck eggs.
- Foraging for wild greens like nettles and miner's lettuce (the nettles are up already!!!!).
- Weeding my flower garden.
- Going for walks with rainbows.
- Starting some sprouting jars so we'll have fresh green stuff to eat on top of the wild foraged foods.

I will leave you with images from the Mardi Gras parade in Concrete, a little town half an hour away from us, and filled with people we call our community.  We get together every year to party on the main street of Concrete, dressing up, and sometimes dressing up our goats.  Our neighborhood band "Jumbled Pie" played music on a trailer towed by a pick up truck.  Great fun!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blessings at home

When we got back from our five-week road trip to Arizona, we were greeted by some amazing things:

1) One duck egg. Our ducks haven't produced any eggs for several months, and their welcome present was to start laying again.

2) A crocus. It's a little scary to have stuff bloom in the middle of February, but it sure is pretty to be greeted by this loveliness.

3) Pluto. My 14 ½ year old dog seemed confused (he is very senile), but happy to see us. I took him for a walk, and although he enthusiastically comes with me, he seems stiff and stumbly. The tumor on his back end has grown. This dog is my first child - I have known him longer than my husband. I know my days with my dog are numbered, and I cherish them.

4) The sun and mild temperatures. The weather forecast predicts the same for a week! I am sitting in the yard with a T-shirt, writing this. However, I can tell (and my friends assure me) that it has rained a lot here. The earth feels spongy and saturated. Creeks, rivers and puddles are overflowing. I am so glad the weather gods are really smiling on us spoiled Arizona-sun-drenched travelers. I don't know what I would have done if it had rained non-stop upon our arrival.

5) Bald eagles soaring on my first walk to the creek. Oh, I love the Pacific Northwest, rain and all. Everything is so GREEN. After weeks in the desert, our place feels almost obscene with its wetness and fertile smells. The smells! The earth is exhaling fumes of spring already, and I have to keep myself from throwing myself onto it and sticking my nose into the moss covered soil.

6) Kale and collards from last year growing in the greenhouse. I am so relieved I don't have to buy greens any more – it always feels wrong to buy veggies, because I grow them myself most of the year. But for a few months in the winter, this is not an option. A few hours after getting home, I ordered seeds from Territorial Seed Company. I can't wait to start my onions in the next few days!

7) The cat, who is supposed to be an outdoor cat, but has been let in by the house sitter. He is getting very, very comfortable on our sofa – unfortunately, because I am allergic to cats. We are going to have to kick him out and start new habits, although I wish he could live inside. It looks so domestic and cozy, with a cat presiding over the living room, don't you think?

It has been a full time job for Steve and me to unload the RV, put everything away, clean stuff, and do many loads of laundry.
Now, we are catching up with friends, and very soon, Steve will be gone all day, working his butt off so we can go travel in the winter... I am so grateful for this man and our (unconventional) life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Heading home... through Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon, and the Vermillon Cliffs

On our road trip two years ago, we hiked down the Grand Canyon and loved it. But this year, we went to a place even more splendid, not in grandeur, but in uniqueness – Bryce Canyon. It's a mesmerizing place with columns of eroding cliffs and stones, shaped into amphitheaters and canyons within canyons. When we hiked a trail that is considered one of the most beautiful three-mile hikes in the world, it felt like walking in the world's biggest cathedral. I took a hundred pictures within two hours. The kids ran ahead giddy with excitement, and Steve and I oohed and aahed at every switchback.
There are no words, so I'll let the pictures explain.

The day before, we explored Red Canyon, 15 miles West of Bryce Canyon.  There are arches cut out of the rock where the road leads through.  We forced the protesting kids out of the RV and went for yet another hike. Our offspring are getting a little hike-weary.  Oh, well.  Steve and I know that they whine at first, but once they are out there, they are having fun.

We are nearing the end of our road trip and are headed North through Utah, and now Idaho. Yesterday, we spent the day at Crystal Hot Springs, soaking in hot, mineralized water for five hours. These hot springs come from 8,000 feet under the earth and claim to have the most minerals of any hot springs in the world. America. There are two of the biggest water slides I have ever seen, and we spent lots of time tearing and shrieking down them – even water-shy Eva, securely bundled up in a life vest and held on Daddy's lap.

The days before that we made our way through the Catalina mountains, where it was 85 degrees hot. Eva and I went for a walk, and I wanted to take her picture in front of a big Cholla cactus. Seconds after I took the photo, Eva let out a blood curdling scream. One of the evil cactus thorns/needles/spikes/swords had poked through her shoes. It hurt, and I know just how much, because it happened to me, too.

We drove along the Vermillon Cliffs in Northern Arizona. I'm sure you are all tired of me using words like “gorgeous”, “breathtaking”, and “beautiful”, but what else can I say? They look like the Grand Canyon above ground, and they are gorgeous, breathtaking, and beautiful. Look:

The next blog entry will come from our own home - not the RV one, but the real one.  I don't know how to feel about that.  We are all ready to be home, but sad to leave the sun and adventures...

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