I should give a brief update: we're still gluten free, mostly. We like to call ourselves "Gluten Light" meaning, we'll indulge in what we want when we're out and if it's worth it, but at home, we try to be as organic, gluten-free and whole as possible. I should confess however, that I splurged with a package of flour tortillas this week because I just couldn't get the thought of a fried egg, bacon and avocado burrito out of my mind. When I finally made it, it was just what I needed. We're both still working a lot (always), and cherishing our days at home when we are both here together - sometimes they seem few and too far between. We started P90X, but quickly fell off that crazy train. Ha! We will pick it up again soon though, maybe next week ;)
I'm currently on boiling-bean watch as I attempt to cook my very first dried beans. I didn't start thinking about what to make for dinner until this morning, meaning I couldn't soak my beans overnight, so I googled a quick soak method and I'm trying that. We'll see how it works!
I started reflecting on my life today, as I was cleaning the leaves off my mint (another first for dinner tonight) and the sweet, crisp smell of spearmint brought me back to the first time Ben and I discovered our beloved Alder Springs, our own little desert paradise where tall stalks of spearmint flood the banks of the river surrounding our favorite campsite. I let the sun settle on my shoulders and I thought for the millionth time how much I love my life. This isn't what I pictured necessarily, but it's stinkin' good.
I've battled some inner issues the past month or so, mostly related to my job as a housewife. I feel so inadequate at keeping my home. I let things like dusty baseboards (did you know you have to clean those things???) eat away at my feeling of worth and make me feel guilty for not doing more around my home. I know there is dust behind my couch, and I'm sure my windows need a good cleaning, oh, and good gracious, don't even get me started on laundry! - a good housewife would take care of that! I'm failing at being a housewife. I should be better, I think.
Thoughts like this started to flood my mind, until I realized: I AM NOT A HOUSEWIFE. As much as I think that I should be, or as much as I want to be, I am not (primarily) a keeper of my home. During this season of our life, the responsibilities of the home are shared and I have to let go thoughts of a daily chore list. I can't let the crumbs I can see under the oven when I duck down really low make me feel like less of a woman or a bad wife. Some people may think I'm crazy for these thoughts, but the picture of me making my home a warm, inviting, tidy place to welcome my husband into after a long day of work has been in my mind for a long time.
The fact of the matter is: our home is a warm, inviting, slightly-less-than-tidy place for us BOTH to come home to. Yes, I have more than three loads of clothes waiting to be folded, but that's ok. I don't spend my days tackling items off a never-ending To-Do list, I spend twelve long hours at the hospital doing my best to take care of little precious beings. Someday keeping my home and tending to my own sweet babies will fill my days, but today, my job is to provide care and tend to someone else's sweet baby. To make sure they are safe, pain is controlled, antibiotics are given and butts are clean. To make sure pink bows are secured into fuzzy hair before a big, scary surgery. Right now, that job is important. Every day I am a part of every parent's worst nightmare, and my task is to do everything I can to make it a little easier. That's a pretty special job, I'd say.
Today, I may not be a housewife, but I'm a nurse, and I'm very OK with that.
After seeing about 100 commercials for Marie Calendar's chicken pot pie (Hulu tends to play the same commercials over and over) and developed an intense craving for chicken pot pie. I would have loved to have been able to drive to Marie Calendar's and ordered one to go, but that was not an option, so I decided to give making my own a go.
There are a few foods I didn't ever think I could make. For some reason I just thought they had to be made professionally or by someone far more culinary skilled than me. Things like pie or cinnamon rolls were on my list, and I had made both of those (I blogged about the pies here and here but never wrote about the cinnamon rolls, but I'll quickly say they were really yummy - even if I did forget to add the cinnamon to half of the batch) with some success, so once again, I gathered my courage and decided to give making my own Chicken Pot Pie a go.
I should also mention, most of my culinary bravery comes from Ree, The Pioneer Woman.
Ok, so I followed this tutorial for the filling, but adapted it a bit and used rotisserie chicken from New Seasons and whatever poultry seasoning we had instead of herb de provence. I also eyeballed about a half cup of lactose free sour cream instead of the milk in order to make this a gluten and dairy free meal.
I followed Bob's recipe for a generic GF pie crust (luckily it didn't have any sugar, so I didn't have to figure out how to omit sweetness from the crust) but had to double the recipe because what is listed only makes enough for the bottom of the pan.
There were a few mishaps when I was rolling out the top crust, so it looks pretty ugly and in trying to be sure the filling wasn't too wet, I baked it a little long and the filling was quite dry, but other than that, my version of Chicken Pot Pie was pretty good it fulfilled my craving! Next time I think I'll try for a flakier crust (and so sums up the adventure that is GF baking!) and make individual servings instead of a whole pie.
I'll also mention that the filling recipe makes enough filling for two pies. I saved half of my ingredients and used this recipe as a base to make them into a soup. I've made her soup before, and my version this time was better, but that's what happens when you use fresh veggies, sour cream instead of milk, and leave out the soggy potatoes (I hate mushy potatoes, blech!).
Last night's dinner was super yummy! We bought a mix of Bob's Red Mill GF Pizza Crust when we were at the mill, and finally made it last night. We picked up some organic pizza sauce and nitrate-free pepperoni from New Seasons and gave it a go. The crust was very good and did not have the distinct gluten free taste other pizzas we have tried tend to have. This was a very delicious meal - but really, with this much mozzarella and fresh parmesan, how can anything be anything but delicious??
And finally, a breakfast. We have yet to find a comparably delicious GF pancake or waffle mix, so our hunt for morning options continues, but my mom gave us a recipe that will be in our rotation from now on. It's super easy and really good. Just a fried egg, a strip of bacon (this wasn't in her recipe, but trust me, it's a nice addition), arugula and fresh salsa on a cooked corn tortilla. Super simple, super fresh feeling and super yummy - a win!
Have you had any luck with with a GF waffle mix or a flaky, light GF pie crust? If so, please share!
I have yet to post any pictures of our "new" house, but we've only lived here ahem...10 months...oops! Anyway, I thought I'd start with the room that's getting the biggest workout these days, my kitchen!
Our home is pretty new (built in 2009 I think) and we love the modern finishes and touches throughout the home. Our kitchen is really nice, with stainless steel appliances (which are a pain to clean, btw) and stone counters. We also have wood floor in there, which I love. The only problem - it's pretty small without much storage or prep space. Now, you'll probably look at the pictures, and say I'm crazy for thinking this is small, but these are pictures when it's really clean, if only we kept it this nice all the time, we'd never complain about it being small, ha!
For reals though, storage space was seriously lacking in this kitchen, we have two full-size cupboards, one small cupboard and four drawers. That's it. So, our landlord purchased this butcher block cabinet (which has been amazing) which virtually doubled the storage and counter space. We also brought in a bookshelf from our old living room and added two large open shelves for our dishes, which we initially thought would only be practical, but we actually really like the way they look. I have read that some people are concerned with dust getting on your dishes with open shelving, which I can see being a problem, but for us, honestly, it's not. Probably because everything on the shelves gets used (and subsequently washed) on a fairly regular basis, so nothing really has time to accumulate much dust. I also use my swiffer duster every few weeks for the little bit of dust between each item.
One thing about cooking a lot, is that you acquire a lot of "tools" for doing so. A pot for this, a small appliance for that - especially when your husband is a gadget guy and likes to have specific tools for specific tasks. I tried to go through my cupboards today to get rid of some of the stuff that was taking up so much space. I looked through everything to see if we could donate the stuff we weren't using, but you know what? I could only find one old crock that we weren't using. Well, that and some packaging materials that I have no idea why we were storing them in the first place. That made me feel a little better, we may have a lot of "stuff" but at least we're using it!
I'm gonna get a bit sappy for a moment: I can't say I've ever loved cooking, but I'm slowly learning to love it. It's so therapeutic to prepare a wholesome, delicious meal for your family. Sometimes, when I really start to think about it, I am filled with so much joy and fulfillment and I start to feel so blessed that I can do such a simple, yet meaningful, thing for my little family. For generations women have spent hours in their kitchens taking ingredients and blending them into something nutritious and filling and I'm so thankful I get to do that too. I start to remember how badly I had always wanted to be a wife, to be in love, to have a house with my husband and to do all the womanly things that make it a home. On days when I feel like that, I love to cook. On others, I'm happy to let my husband do the cooking! ;)
Ok, saps over, back to our regularly scheduled programming, this next photo shows a few of my favorite details in my kitchen right now:
It's a bit hard to see, but I love my bright yellow utensil crock, and my little green butter pot that works great as long as you pack the butter in well. One day Ben surprised me with this adorable blue timer and I had no idea I'd love a timer so much (our oven has the most annoying alert ever). My newest, most favorite thing though, is this lovely dishtowel, which matches the apron my sweet hubby got me for Christmas. I love the ruffle detail and it brings so much cheer to our kitchen - it's the little details I love most! Now, I'd love to find two small red and white polka dot rugs for under the oven and sink, how cute would that be?! On top of my stove are two of my favorite things too, my Lodge cast iron skillet (seriously, one of our best purchases ever) and my brand new Le Creuset French Oven.
I have thought these pans were beautiful and classic for a long time, and when Ben got his part-time job at Sur la Table, the only thing I wanted from the store was one of these. But, I'm afraid of spending a lot of money (I can spend a lot of little money like nothing, but big amounts make me nervous) and couldn't justify the expense, even with a discount. But, because he loves me so so much, my husband surprised with this beauty as an early Valentine's day gift. I squeeled as I opened it, especially since it was a Sur la Table exclusive color and hadn't even been released for sale yet (how fancy!), and promised him a delicious meal as my gift in return. He happily obliged.
Well, I think that's about all I can say about my little kitchen. Maybe our living room will stay tidy long enough for some photos as well? We'll see!