Saturday, August 13, 2016

2016 Garden Education, Fails and Heart Break

A little update about the garden this year.  I suppose this is really for my own records and perhaps a bit of venting ;)  It has been a really tough year here in Ontario.  We have been hit with a drought. There has been such little rain we have had to get our well filled twice this year, which in his 40 year history has never been done.  The lawn is completely brown and the leaves fell off the poplar trees already in July.

The garden has taken a huge hit.  Since we are really trying to conserve the water I have not been out there much with the hose.  The soil is also depleting in nutrients and becoming quite attractive to various pests.

 My sad tomato plants.  
Many of the tomatoes on there are getting brown bottoms because they 
aren't absorbing enough calcium.

Early this summer I had to pull out all the cucumber, zucchini, watermelon and squash plants due to the cucumber beetle.  I tried to spray naturally but they were repopulating themselves much quicker than I could manage.

Come July I was faced with the dreaded potato bug.  Yuck, I was so glad to have 6 year old around to help me pick them off the plants.  She was such a trooper.  My 8 year was out there spraying the plants with some diluted peppermint oil.  Thankfully we managed to rid the plants of these pests in about a week.  I found these ones so gross, I won't bother posting a picture...

I am now experiencing other bugs on the cabbages and the kale...oh no not my precious kale!  It has been quite heart breaking and I find myself avoiding the garden because of its disappointment.

This will be our fourth fall here with the apple trees.  The spring showed great promise as there were thousands of blossoms, many working bees and then tonnes of apples.  The apples now however are half their normal size.

With all this said, I will take this as a big learning curve.  Isn't that what a homeschooler should do ;)  I will plant a few things later into the spring and let the compost break down even further before spreading on the garden.  Next year I will also be adamant about adding another layer of manure down in order to bring back some nutrients.

On the upside, my 6 year old planted ground cherries from seed in the spring which we planted in the garden in June.  They are doing so well and she is super thrilled.

We have also learned that cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers, pole beans, swiss chard, kale and snow peas don't require as much water as we are still reaping those rewards.
Despite the frustration, my husband and I have both been thankful that we live in an area that still has water available.  Perhaps it isn't always in our well but with one phone call, clean water is delivered the very same day.  We do live in a safe, healthy and abundant environment that is just a little dry right now ;)

Friday, August 05, 2016

Asian Rice Noodle Salad (Gluten and Dairy Free)

This simple salad is great for summer, potlucks, and BBQs.  It can be eaten as a side dish or an entree.  The addition of some chicken or shrimp would also make it a heartier dish.  The girls gave this one an 8 out of 10, although one of them said it would only be an 8 if I took out the cashews ;) We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 7-8 drops stevia
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1 diced sweet bell pepper
  • 1 thickly shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup pan roasted cashews
  • 1 package (454 g) rice noodles

    1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except rice noddles.
    2. Cook noodles according to package directions and then add to bowl.
    3. Stir to fully coat.
    4. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to absorb flavours and serve.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016

    Placenta Encapsulation (Warning: Not for the Faint of Heart)

    Yes, that is right!  I am warning you, this post is about placenta encapsulation.  This is definitely not for everyone, but I know there are a few of you out there who are also interested.  This was a new venture for me as well.

    It wasn't till this third pregnancy that I had heard of placenta encapsulation and it was actually from my husband.  For all of you who think it is only me who is into alternative eating, healthy living and diet, guess again!

    So what is placenta encapsulation?
    It basically involves taking the baby's placenta, drying/cooking it, grinding it and then placing it into vegetarian capsules for consumption.

    Why did we do this?
    Although there is little scientific research behind consuming the placenta, we do know that there are also a few cultures who do consume it. (Of course we also know that many animals will eat it after giving birth.) It has been noted that women have been able to keep away the "baby blues" and have received more energy with placenta "medicine."

    Although, there is a local service which would come, collect the placenta and then return the prepared capsules to you the next day, I realized we actually had all the tools around here to do this at home.

    Yikes!  The thought of actually doing this at home did make me feel a little strange.  I really didn't think I could do this myself even though the idea was intriguing.  It felt a little strange to cut up the placenta.  Perhaps, it was the fact that our child was carried in this amazing organ or that this was the home that connected the two of us. My husband, however was totally up for it.  Daniel said, he would have no problem doing this for me.

    Step 1:
    After the placenta was delivered,  the midwives took a careful study of it to ensure it's health.  Once deemed safe, we quickly placed it in an air tight container in the fridge till the next day.

    Step 2:
    Daniel took the placenta and carefully washed it.  This is where I stayed out of the kitchen and just cuddled our newborn.
    Step 3:
    Next he cut it onto strips and placed on the dehydrator trays.  The placenta can also be cooked in the oven at a low heat if you prefer.  Since my husband did all the research he chose this method.  
    Step 4:
    Set it in the dehydrator at 115 F for 6-8 hours or overnight.
    Step 5:
    Once completely dried, grind it up in a strong blender until it is in powder form.
     Step 6:
    This is where the labour of love was truly demonstrated.  Daniel spent over an hour stuffing vegetarian capsules.  He made 100 capsules and stored the remaining in a container in the freezer.
    Step 7:
    Store completed capsules in refrigerator or freezer and take 1-2 daily.

    Did it make a difference?
    I can't say I have ever felt the baby blues more than just some tears on the third day.  You know that day where the hormones alter and the sleep deprivation sets in.  For this birth, I would say that day was the same as with the other two babies.  
    One thing I did notice whether or not it was related to the capsules, is that I did seem to have more energy than I expected.  I now had three children, was homeschooling and didn't have a parent come stay for a few days to help. With all this added up, I was definitely surprised with how I didn't feel completely exhausted.  So although I can't say if it benefited me, I definitely felt strong and not deflated during the postpartum period.

    Update photo: Our handsome little guy at 5 months

    Tuesday, July 05, 2016

    Gluten Free Pasta Salad (Dairy and Gluten Free)

    Here is a simple pasta salad that uses gluten free noodles.  There is definitely a difference between gluten free noodle brands.  I find the that the GoGo Quinoa Noodles work very well.  They stay soft even for next days leftovers.  This salad is dairy free however the addition of feta cheese would work very well ;) 


    • 4 cups small uncooked gluten free pasta (I find this one works the best)
    • 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
    • 1/2 cup chopped sweet pepper
    • 1/3 cup black olives
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
    • 2 cloves minced garlic
    • chopped chives to taste (I used about a tablespoon)
    • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 1/3 cup olive oil


    1. Cook pasta until al dente, drain and run under cold water to cool. 
    2. Put the pasta into a bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives, chives, basil, peppers, parsley, and cucumber into the bowl. 
    3. Add the vinegar, oil and seasoning. 
    4. Stir to fully coat pasta and vegetables with dressing.
    5. Let sit in fridge for 1 hour to absorb flavour.

    Monday, June 20, 2016

    Black Bean Burgers (Gluten Free with Vegan Option)

    At least twice a week we stick to a vegetarian meal.  This is definitely a popular one in our home.  I always have a stock of cooked beans in our freezer so it is also a quick easy one to make.

    • 2 cups cooked black beans (separated)
    • 1 cup cooked quinoa
    • 2 cloves minced garlic
    • 1/2 chopped onion
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 egg or 1 flax egg
    • 3-4 chopped mushrooms of choice (optional)
    • oil for frying 

    Directions (makes 5-6 medium size patties)
    1. In a blender add 1 1/2 cups black beans, garlic, and onion.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Place in a bowl.
    2. Add the 1/2 cup reserved black beans and all remaining ingredients except the oil.
    3. Form into desired size patties.
    4. Heat oil in frying pan.
    5. Fry 3-5 minutes on each size or until browned and starting to crisp.  Do not over cook or they tend to get too soft and fall apart ;)
    6. I like to serve mine with a side of my nacho cheese dip.