Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to make roasted, salted almonds - way cheaper and better than store-bought

Don't buy roasted, salted almonds at the store, you hear?  Or any roasted, salted nuts for that matter.  First of all, most of them are super salty.  Second, they are very expensive.  And lastly, do you know how long they've been sitting on the shelf, getting rancid?

No, my friend, you can make these delicious, nutritious, snacky morsels at home for a fraction of the cost.  Do you know how easy and fast it is to toast your own nuts, and to snazz them up with some unique flavor combinations?  Salted nuts with honey, anyone?  Or maybe something more spicy covered in chili powder?

My kids go nuts over these nuts.

Of course, you know that eating almonds is super healthy, right?  Packed with protein, dietary fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help lower harmful cholesterol levels, almonds also are a great source of Vitamin E, calcium, iron and antioxidants.

So next time you crave something crunchy, throw your nasty potato chips in the trash and whip up a batch of these babies - roasted, salted almonds.  


* 4 1/2 cups of almonds (organic, as always, is best) - or a combination of other nuts, maybe pecans, brazil nuts, cashews
* 1 1/2 Tablespoons hot water
* 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
* 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or sesame oil, or whatever you like)


- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Place 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a cup.  

- Pour 1 1/2 Tablespoons hot water over it and stir to dissolve.

- Pour this mixture over the almonds in a bowl and mix it all up well.

- Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  If you don't have it, don't use it.  I ran out the other day, and my toasted almonds turned out fine.

- Spread almonds evenly over the cookie sheet.

- Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.

- After 8 minutes, take out the cookie sheet, stir the almonds up, then put back in the oven.

- Bake 8 more minutes.

- Take the almonds out, place in a bowl, and stir in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.

At this time, you can be adventurous.  Mix some of the almonds with a little honey.  Dust some others with garlic powder.  Or maybe some lemon pepper or chili powder if you like things spicy?

I told you, this is easy.  

Now go nuts with this.

Get your ingredients ready.
Mix the salted water with the almonds.
After they are toasted fresh out of the oven, slap some olive oil on them.
Then take a picture of them with pretty flowers.  Or maybe just eat them.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

We're on the other side of it now

This was a hell of a week.  First, I got sick and couldn't eat or drink anything for three days, and then our valley flooded, and then my neck went out.  And the worst thing: I couldn't eat any of the Thanksgiving feast, because every time I swallowed, I wanted to pass out from the pain.

Fun, eh?

A week before Thanksgiving, I headed down to Oregon's off-the-grid Breitenbush Hot springs with two of my good friends for some major relaxation time.  The day was awesome: walking in the snow, soaking in the hotsprings, eating amazing homemade food, taking saunas, laughing with my friends.  Then I started getting sick and spent the rest of the time throwing up and sleeping. 

In a place like this, with a warm cabin and no responsibility, that was doable.

But on the eight hour drive back, curled up in the backseat, trying not to throw up on my friend's backseat, something must have happened to my neck, because it started seizing up more and more, until a couple of days later on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up in such tremendous pain that I took some heavy duty painkillers left over from a tooth extraction a year earlier.  At the time, I never used the painkillers prescribed to me, since I have a high threshold of pain tolerance.

I've given birth at home naturally three times, so I can deal with pain.  But that Thursday morning, I wept, holding my head as straight as possible, because I could neither look up, down, right or left.  I can't describe it.

And the worst thing: I couldn't eat the Thanksgiving feast because swallowing every bite felt like a knife was being pushed into the back of my head.

Lovely, I tell you.

But here's the upside to this: Being as sick as I was for a week, my family didn't fall apart.  Why?


1) I am married to the most nurturing, capable man on the planet, and besides rubbing pain ointment on me several times a day, waiting on me hand and foot, and taking excellent care of me, my husband also whipped up the most delicious turkey and green beans (I was able to eat leftovers a couple of days later).

2) We have trained our kids to pull their weight in the kitchen.  So while I did some heavy Lamaze breathing on the sofa for two days, my children loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, scrubbed countless pots and pans, and made food.  Lots of food.  My oldest son's speciality: bread sticks.

You can make this bread after taking my online fermentation workshop.

They also helped Steve deal with all the homemade wine we got brewing.  No, don't worry, they are not allowed to drink it, but they can help rack it.  We have a huge amount of Oregon Grape wine fermenting, and we think it will be excellent.  You know, medicinal.  Especially for women.  Yes, I think I'll reserve it for myself, since I need the medicinal-for-women aspect.

They also made root beer, which, by the way, is excellent.  It costs 25 cents to make a bottle, versus buying it at the store for $3.50 per bottle.

And while all these storms raged inside our own home, there also raged one outside.  The whole Skagit Valley (and beyond) flooded after a huge amount of rain and snow melt with the unusually warm weather.

Houses flooded, backyards were submerged in torrents, roads were impassable, and guard rails washed away.

It started like this in our backyard, and then it never stopped.  Our place doesn't flood because we sit up on a bench, but many other people got into trouble.

The Skagit River on Wednesday, about to flood over the road on Highway 20.

Two days later, after mud and water washed away the guard rails and messed up the highway.

Another highway (Hw 530) got shut down for a while as well because of all the water on the road.  Here, it is receding again.

With all this rain, I always feel bad for the wild animals.  Steve assures me that bitter cold is much harder on them than rain, but still.  Poor dripping deer.

I hope I haven't completely bummed you out with our tales of sickness, floods and pain.

Let me leave you with some heart-warming pictures.  For a day after Breitenbush Hot Springs, my middle child got sick as well.  As he lay on the floor (don't ask me why the floor and not the sofa), our dog Raka came up to him and first put her paw around him in a hug, and when he didn't responded to that, she just sighed, put her head on his back and watched over him.

My little dog Yoda, in the meantime, was curled around my belly, keeping me company.

And one more picture: if not heart-warming, then stomach-warming: a batch of Chevre I made with cow milk, so you have to call it Farmer's cheese, but it does taste like Chevre. It makes the best cheesecake, or herbed soft cheese, or marinated morsels, or lasagne, or anything that calls for cream cheese.

I'll teach a free webinar on how to make this cheese on December 14.  Sign up here.  You should totally come watch it live, and if you can't make it live, I'll send you the replay. But when you're on live, you get to ask me questions!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A little nostalgic... and some darn good comfort food

I'm feeling a little mushy right now. Mushy in the way a caterpillar turns to mush inside of the crysallis before it becomes a butterfly.  At least I hope there's a butterfly at the end of my particular mushy-ness.

I don't know what it is: the dark outside, the pounding rain, listening to sad music right now, maybe the fact that my big webinar launch is over and I have time to breathe... but I'm finding myself nostalgic.

Before I tell you why, let me show you pictures of our backyard when the sun came out briefly the other day.

Things are good, really. It's just that they are changing so much. My oldest kid will turn 15 soon, asking for the car keys tomorrow, off to college in the blink of an eye, and maybe even moving to Germany and cranking out grandkids for me. My middle child just turned into a teenager - enough said.  And my youngest daughter is shooting up in height so fast I can almost watch her bones stretch. She is as tall at 8 as her brother was at 9 years old.

I'm feeling melancholy about not homeschooling them any more. After educating them at home their whole lives, travelling for weeks every year, vagabonding and learning with them, going on hiking adventures whenever we wanted, we are now completely restricted by the school calendar.

On the upside, our kiddos are all thriving at public school. The older boys are being noticed by their teachers for their leadership, attention, respect and motivation.  They love playing basketball with all their new pals.  The little 'un is making lots of friends and getting achievement awards. It's all good. Except... I miss them.

We wake them up at 5:45 am so they can meet the bus at the dark, lonely highway.  They are gone all day and come back at 4 pm.  

Now that they're gone all day, I can put some serious brain power into my own business.  Great things are coming down the pipeline for you.  Just wait.

When the kids come home and it's not too rainy, or on the weekends, I make a big effort to get them outside into nature, because that's where most of our best times are happening.

Come with us, and I'll show you where we go, passing piles of bear poop as we walk:

Although it's cold now, and winter is definitely advancing fast, I pack up snacks, maybe a hard cider or two for Steve and me, and drag them to the creek, where we watch the sun disappear behind mountain ranges covered with Cedar, Doug Fir and Hemlock.

Steve and I sit in the wet, cold sand, chatting and drinking our ciders, while Kai, Luke and Eva run around like maniacs with the dog, chasing each other, throwing sand and sticks, skipping rocks and skinning their knees like kids are supposed to.

I watch with nostalgia, missing this, knowing that these moments are numbered.

Remember? The whole growing up thing and asking for car keys...

So there you have it.  I'm disoriented, my kids are growing up, and the rainy season is upon us.

How about some inspiration now?  I have two things for you:

One: Steve is starting to make traditional wooden bows again, and we sell them in his online Etsy store "Return of the Primitive".

They are beautiful, incredibly well made, and popular. So if you want to give a bow to someone as a Christmas present, get it now before it's gone.

The second inspiration has to do with food.  I want to point you to some of my favorite recipes, just because I think YOU need some comfort, too, not just me, this mushy, gushy, sentimental Mama.  Click below to read a blog post I wrote last year, with some of my absolute favorite, healthy, tasty recipes:

Butternut Squash Galette, Grain-free-refined-sugar free Sweet Potato Cake, and Vegetarian Lasagne

Be well and stay in touch!  What are you feeling mushy about?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Homesteading in Paradise - our little video about October highlights

Yeah, it's a little late, but better now than never.  I've been a little busy.  But, gosh, do I love making these little videos of our highlights of the month.

This one is about October, with all the glorious fall colors, some garden cleanup, cider pressing, fall hikes, and a little Mexico.

Watch it and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

First snow!

Gripping the steering wheel and grinding my teeth, we crawled past yet another car in the ditch. No wonder: the road was treacherously slippery so early in the morning. The whole family sat in the car, clinging to their own seats and marvelling at the scene outside: a winter wonderland in very early November. 

That morning, we drove the kids to school, which at its best is a 30 minute car ride, but took us 45 minutes this snowy morning. Eva was about to receive an award at school, so Steve and I had decided to come to school with the kids and witness our daughter's celebration.

I don't think I've ever seen snow so early in the season.  It sure was pretty, though, although it melted in a couple of days.

This is what our icy view looked like out of the car window past Rockport State Park.

The strangest thing about this weather was the fact that two days before, we were hiking on Sauk Mountain in our T-shirts.

Sauk Mountain is one of our local mountains, a popular hike with steep switchbacks, gorgeous scenery - and a deadly history. Several people have died up there, either falling down or shot dead after being mistaken for a bear by a teenage hunter.

Therefore, the hike feels eerie. But look: it's worth it, don't you think?

I'm taking a deep exhale after a busy week of launching my free webinar and paid online cheesemaking course into the world. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun.

Also, we celebrated Eva's 8th birthday in the middle of the promotional frenzy, with a best-friend sleepover, roller skating party, and plenty of cupcakes.

I can't believe my baby is so old.

I don't have a whole lot of words left in me after so much writing in the past couple of weeks, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

I've been taking the dogs for walks in our woollen handknits. Yes, I said OUR because I knit winter sweaters for my little foofy dog. Don't judge me.

First ice in the river
Racoon tracks

Halloween - my man and I

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