Sprouted... coconuts?!

I was researching the wonderful power of coconuts and I came across this blog post by The 3 Foragers that highlights a little-known delicacy: The sprouted coconut!

Credit to: http://the3foragers.blogspot.com
What an interesting idea!  I have always been a bit unconventional in my idea of dream vacation locations, therefore Hawaii just never really hit my radar.  I always felt like it was a bit cliche and overdone, however now that I know of this wild and natural delicacy I may have to put it on my list of places to actually check out one day!

The 3 Foragers described this treat as follows, "The consistency of the meat ... becomes fluffy and spongy, almost like angel food cake, ... The taste was a bit sour, almost sightly fermented, but also quite good.

After reading the post and dreaming all of my brand-new Hawaii dreams I thought "Hey...  maybe I can bring Hawaii to ME!"  I googled "how to sprout a coconut" and came across this eHow page that describes the process: Get a coconut from the grocery store, super easy.  Bury the thing in a bucket and water it, easy peasey lemon squeezey.  Wait 6 months to 4 years... WHAT?!  Nope, nope, nope.  I'll wait until I can afford a trip to Hawaii and then we'll forage for a wild one.  They're guaranteed more organic that way anyway, right?? Right?  Hey, I have to justify my laziness somehow!

Have you ever heard of this or tried to sprout a coconut of your own?  I would love to hear about your process and what it was like!

Quick Links:
The 3 Foragers - Wild Edibles in Hawaii
eHow - How to Sprout a Coconut

Organic Dreaming...

I have always wanted to have the space to be able to support my family mostly from the land.  Some chickens, a cow or two, maybe some goats, and oh my goodness.... THE GARDEN!  I want a fairy garden, overflowing with different vegetables all throughout the season and enough to can and keep us fed through the winter.

The idea of a wild, untamed garden full of fruits and vegetables sounds so very appealing, and then I run across a picture like this and my organized soul aches with a desire for this even more!

Credit to: www.offgridworld.com/

Can you imagine such a bounty?!  It's gorgeous.  I look at a picture like this the same way some women look at a picture of a closet full of Gucci and swoon.  Yes, I'm weird.  No, I don't care.

I recently stumbled across this blog post that BLEW MY MIND!  $300 to your own underground, winter greenhouse.  Can you imagine??  Crisp lettuce and vegetable all year round, fresh-picked each morning from your garden?  I highly recommend reading this post all about it.

Credit to: http://www.treehugger.com/
Isn't that amazing!  I absolutely cannot wait to have the space to be able to do something like that.

I hope one day to be able to have enough of a food surplus to know my family will be taken care of until the next season, and then give away the rest.  The altruist in me wants to feed all of the hungry mouths on the planet, but knowing that is impossible, just feeding who I can with the spoils of my garden would help to fill that hole at least a little bit.

Are there any big dreams you have for your family and/or your future homestead?  I would love to read about them in the comments!

Fideo, or what I like to call Fiesta Spaghetti!

My husband, Scott, comes from a Mexican background and absolutely LOVES spicy things, whereas I used to have an aversion to regular Nacho Cheese Doritos because I thought they were "too hot" (oh my goodness, what a baby I was!).  Apparently when you are exposed to spice more and more you develop a tolerance, and after a few short years I like my food just as hot as he does!

The next time I make this I will snap some yummy pictures and post them up as well!

That being said, this is one of my go-to, Mexican-inspired, quick dishes.  Fiesta Spaghetti is an extremely quick and simple soup to make that satisfies my need for something hot and just a bit spicy on a cold day. You know that feeling; all warm and toasty inside, mmmm :).

Scott's aunt made me fideo soup one day a few years back and I was extremely intrigued by it, though it is nothing like what mine evolved into.  I was later told by my mother-in-law that there are so many versions of the dish that you can't really go wrong with it, which got me excited to know that I hadn't concocted a complete abomination, haha!

Here is my version, and I hope you try it because I think it is DELISH!  It's a bit tomatoe-y, a bit spicy, and all-around comforting and good.  Feel free to go up or down on the spice to suit your tastes, and change things up to suit your mood and pantry.  This is good food, not rocket science!  My theory has always been that if it tastes good to you, then you've succeeded!

1 bag Fideo or Vermicelli noodles (approx. 7 oz. bag)
1 green bell pepper
2 tbs oil (nearly any oil should work, but I use olive or coconut)
5 or more cups water (depending upon how soupy you want it)
1 can diced tomatoes
~2 tbs Pink Himalayan salt and/or bouillon of choice
1 tbs cumin
3 tsp garlic powder
3 tbs Sriracha, or to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
(note:  This is the basic ingredients list, however feel free to add any complimentary seasonings at this point that you like.  I usually happen to have some freeze dried basil, parsley, and cilantro on hand that I toss in, but it's not necessary.  I do it mostly for the color.)

1. Rinse and dice your bell pepper into bite-sized pieces
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan
3. Once the oil is hot, throw in the Fideo or Vermicelli noodles and toss to coat in the oil
4. Let the noodles brown, stirring often (once they really start to get browning they can go QUICK depending upon your pan, so keep an eye on them!)
5. Once they are nearly completely brown throw in your bell pepper pieces and let them get a bit of a char on them and soften a tad.
6. When you are satisfied with the darkness of your noodles and bell peppers, add in the 5 cups of water and the entire can of diced tomatoes (do not drain).
7. This is where the seasoning come in, so dump away!
8. Cover and cook as direction on the noodle package, or until al dente
9. Serve hot and enjoy!

Feel free to play around with this and taste/adjust as you go!  We like ours HOT so we add in more sriracha and black pepper.  There is nothing like a steamy, spicy, tomatoe-y, Mexican-inspired noodle soup on a cold day!

Un-School Ahoy!

Credit to: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com
I am extremely excited to be a part of our local Homeschooling Facebook group!  Aurora is only 20-months-old, but the planner in me is already gearing up to start her education moving in the right direction.  We are going to be implementing the Un-Schooling technique, which relies heavily upon real-life learning experiences with an emphasis on self-governance.  Yes, she will still be learning her fractions and her grammar, and no we aren't just going to let her run free and wild with no structure whatsoever.  She is just going to get to enjoy life to the fullest and learn all of the skills every public school child is learning, but without the constraints of a government schedule and the confines of four walls, which sounds like a fabulous adventure for us both, to be honest! 

Credit To: https://www.facebook.com/wwpflocal404
My excitement about the homeschooling group is that they announced tomorrow is their planned field trip to the local fire station!  How exciting!  Aurora is a bit young for that, but as soon as something age appropriate pops up you can bet she's going to be there getting the full tour!

The benefit of un-schooling is that she will be developing a desire to try new things and enrich her life in her own ways.  If, hypothetically, she were to be a bit older and this trip were planned tomorrow and she said "Mom.. that sounds SO boring!  I don't want to go.", then we would promptly get online and research the interesting aspects of it, in hopes of encouraging her to at least learn a proper appreciation for the profession (at which point she can say it's boring all day, as long as she has an educated reason behind her conclusion).  My hope would be that our internet investigation would spur more interest and that she would agree to go on the trip, but either way, guess what??  We learned a plethora of very valuable things in a short amount of time (research skills, not jumping to a conclusion without proper research and evidence to back up your claim, teamwork, compromise, and hopefully a fact or two about our friends in yellow!), and there was no "MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY" argument and cranky kid drama.  Sounds like a win/win to me!

Credit to: http://fc09.deviantart.net
Yes, I am just in dream land right now, but I am EXTREMELY excited to give the reins of life to this beautiful creature I was blessed with the privilege of guiding on her journey.  I already see so much passion and intelligence behind her eyes that it can be scary sometimes.  With the proper support and encouragement this child could conquer the world!  Actually... I truly believe all children can; we just have to gently hold the reins to keep them safe, and let them lead where their desires and drives take them!

Now, it must be said that I am not a public school basher.  I had quite a terrible time with public school, but it made me the fighter I am today.  There can be benefits to each side, I just prefer to be a little more primary in my child's education which is why we chose to go this route.  The hubby and I have also talked and decided that, while we will be discouraging it, public school will never be a null option for her.  If she wants to try it, then she can, but it will be a full-year commitment type of deal (which also teaches her cause/effect, and choice/consequence skills) and if she hates it then we will help her to cope with the difficulties, but she must see it through to the end of that year.

What are your thoughts on your children's education?  I would love to hear what you think in the comments!

THE Bread. Jalepeño-style.

This is THE bread, all.  THE Bread.

The Pioneer Woman came up with this recipe, and it contains two ingredients: Bread and Butter.  That's it.  And not JUST butter, TWO WHOLE STICKS of the stuff.  You know that when something calls for that much butter, it is definitely going to be good.  Oh and don't worry!  Butter is totally a super food now, so this recipe is not only delicious, but totally guilt-free too! (riiiight)

I was skeptical at first, but once I gave it a shot, oh my gosh, all... this stuff is crazy-good!

jalepeño sourdough, all melty-good and covered in butter
jalepeño sourdough, all melty-good and covered in butter
Even my husband wanted more, and he is extremely hard to please when it comes to food.  He even said he would pay money for the meal I made, and if you knew my husband, you would know that meant business.
under the broiler now; almost done!
under the broiler now; almost done!
 Do yourself a favor and give this recipe a try.  If you can run an oven broiler without burning the house down, then you can make this bread!  It is nearly fool-proof.

getting really crispy now; the flavor is taking shape
getting really crispy now; the flavor is taking shape
The original recipe calls for a loaf of french bread, but I decided to take it a step further and use a good jalepeño sourdough, and the final result completely blew my mind.

You can find the original recipe here; below is my version.
all done!!
all done!!
1 loaf jalepeño sourdough, Split Lengthwise 
2 sticks Regular (salted) Butter, Softened

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Spread one stick of softened butter on each half of the loaf
3. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the butter is melted and is starting to soak into the bread.
4. Switch the broiler to high and broil the bread for 3 to 5 minutes.  Do not walk away!  You have about 1 minute before things start getting serious, so careful not to let it burn!
5. When the butter has started to brown and blacken, remove it. Don't under-broil it either though; the flavor really kicks in when the butter's color changes.
6. Slice into desirable chunks or strips and serve immediately.

close up of the buttery crumb
close up of the buttery crumb

paired with spaghetti and meat sauce
paired with spaghetti and meat sauce

Please give this a try and tell me how it turns out!

Bread preserved!

Quick Links:
The Pioneer Woman, The Bread
Empowered Sustenance, butter a superfood?

I'm going flippin' COCONUTS over here!

Is it just me, or are coconuts completely amazing?! It's like they have super powers or something!
Credit to: http://thepworth.blogspot.com/
Eating it can reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.  Heavy cream can be exchanged for coconut milk in nearly all recipes and tastes just as good with a fraction of the calories (creamy soups, and whipped cream, and smoothies, oh my!). It can aid in teeth whitening, and now I've heard that it can be beneficial for your hair!

I decided to give it a try.  I mean, I had a nearly full jar of coconut oil sitting in the cupboard calling my name.  I HAVE to use it on SOMETHING.  It's just so awesome!

I have read many different methods, most of which involve heating the oil or wetting your hair first, etc, but since it melts pretty much as soon as it gets in contact with the skin I just spooned some out into my hand and went to smearing.  I rubbed it in from roots to tips and smashed the chunks really well into my scalp (wow, this sounds a lot more crazy now that I'm actually writing it out, ha!), which melted on contact.

The thing I love about coconut oil is that is such a light oil.  At first my hair was SOAKING it up, but once it got completely saturated I couldn't even tell by feel.  I had to actually look at my hands, and once I realized that the oil was no longer getting mopped up by my hair, but staying mostly on my hands, that told me that I had reached maximum capacity.

I then tied a grocery sack on my hair and wrapped that with a towel (I really should have snapped a picture of that.  I was extremely attractive, let-me-tell-you).  The whole thing took about 4 minutes to get all worked in and I only used about 2-3 tablespoons of oil (I have short-ish hair, but it is EXTREMELY thick, so that should give you a bit of a gauge).

Before I left the kitchen I grabbed another spoonful for my teeth (see my post on Oil Pulling to understand), and cozied myself up on the couch to watch some T.V. with the hubby and do some leg exercises.  The husband immediately looked me up and down, and then turned back to the T.V. like "Oookay, not even going to ask." but hey!  Sometimes it takes a crazy measure to look this beautiful all the time!

I gave myself about 1 hour and 45 minutes and then went to the shower to wash it out.  I highly recommend that if you use shampoo, you definitely invest in a sulfate-free type.  I will be blogging about this in the near future (and please feel free to leave comments about what you do now so we can exchange tips!)

I did my normal shower routine and, the verdict?  OMGOSH-BBQBURGERS-THIS.IS.NICE!

Credit to: http://blaze-libby.deviantart.com/
My hair is soft.  My hair is sleek.  My hair has BOUNCE, you guys!  Short hair is difficult to get bouncy, especially mine.  It really has a mind of its own, and usually that mind is wirey and wants to curve in all the wrong places.  It can be sculpted into submission with time, heat, and hair products, but that takes work.  I didn't even have to bust out the straightening iron and my hair rocks!  It's not straight, but it has this sleek bounciness that I'm just plain okay with!  I can't wait to see what happens when I actually spend some time on it!  I will be doing this coconut oil treatment on a regular basis, that's for sure.

Try it out and tell me how it works for you (and DEFINITELY tell me if it doesn't and I'll see what I can do to help!)

For more information on the science behind why this works, check out this SUPER good post on GNET for more information:

GNET, coconut oil hair treatment

Hair preserved!

To CT, with love...

I am dedicating this day and blog post to the memory of those who were injured and lost their lives in the horrible elementary school shooting that occurred today in Newtown, Connecticut.

I can't imagine rushing my baby kindergartner out the door on his/her last school day before Christmas break, only to get the call later that they had been shot and killed in the supposed safety of their classroom. This breaks my heart on so many levels.

Why babies? Innocent, little babies who couldn't possibly have had enough time in their short lives to have caused anyone to begrudge them.

We take comfort in knowing that they were innocents and are now at rest and waiting to see us all again one day, though I'm sure that is only a small comfort to the loved ones they left behind.

They will never go to prom, never get married, never know the joy of raising their own children, but at the same time we know that they will never have to experience a broken heart, a marriage gone sour, the death if a child. These little ones were spared these pains, but the victory is bittersweet.

These poor, poor, little babies and the families who are missing them right now... I cannot even fathom their pain.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18 New International Version (NIV)

photo credit to:
Justin Lane / EPA
People gather outside a fire house near the Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. following a
shooting that left dozens dead, many of them young
children on Dec. 14. (MSNBC)

NY Times, shooting in CT