Easter Brussels Sprouts

Is everybody familiar with this weird and cool vegetable? I feel like I’m a little late to the Brussels Sprouts bandwagon…

They do in fact get their name from the Belgian country where they were first grown in the 16th century! Brussels Sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetable family and are a cousin to cabbage, broccoli, and kale. They are also a great source of vitamins C, and K (which is a fat soluble vitamin), folate, calcium, iron, and potassium. (source)

So far, in all the ways I’ve tried to cook and consume Brussels Sprouts, the recipe below is by far my favorite way. And in case you’re worried about eating bacon because of all that fat, read on.

There was a study done where a small group of women were given 5 different vegetable salads to consume with increasing amounts of oil on them. What they found was that “Absorption of all carotenoids and fat-soluble vitamins was highest with 32 g oil.” This was the highest amount of oil per salad that they tested. They also concluded that more research was needed as each person’s ability to absorb nutrients also varied. The interesting thing here is that there was a correlation with how much oil was consumed on the vegetables and how many nutrients were absorbed into the body. (source)

The type of bacon you buy does matter, as conventionally processed bacon is full of a lot of processed sugars, industrially produced salts, and preservatives. All of these things do not a happy gut make. We buy our’s from a local meat market. While “uncured” bacon does cost more, it also tastes way better…provided what you’re buying is bacon that has been seasoned with natural seasonings like celery salt, and spices. There is actually uncured bacon and I do not recommend it, at least, not if you want that bacon-y flavor, haha!

We ate this paired with the last stores of our lamb from the year prior (maybe Paul will write about the slaughter process in the future), roasted beets and butternut squash, and herbed brown rice. Certainly a quarantined Easter feast to remember! I think this side will make it into the Easter tradition from here on.

Easter Brussel Sprouts

The only way to eat brussel sprouts. Of course.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb "Uncured" Bacon, julienned
  • 3 Lbs Brussel Sprouts, sliced in half and julienned
  • salt to taste I only use sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 lemon. The juice.

Instructions

  • Fry the bacon until it is crispy. Set it aside and pour out most of the rendered fat leaving a few tablespoons in the pan to fry the brussel sprouts. Stir fry the sprouts until they turn a vibrant green color appx 5-8 minutes, toss in lemon juice, salt, and cooked bacon. Stir it up and serve.

Printable Exploding Mandala Valentine

I was inspired by Hattifant’s exploding valentine’s and decided to design my own. She has a video explaining how to fold the flower so it explodes just right. Her designs are absolutely beautiful and so clever. My design is FREE until the end of February, after that it will go up to $1. Scroll down to find the download. Happy Valentine making!

We’ve spent the morning coloring, cutting and gluing millions of valentines. I’m coming to realize this may be a multi-day adventure with the long list of valentines the kids wanted to make for all the people they love! Keep scrolling down for the download.

Thank you for supporting my work 🙂 Download the files by clicking here!

On Miscarriage

Saturday, January 18, 2020

It feels surreal to write that we lost our fourth baby last Thursday to causes unknown. The grief comes in waves. I don’t know for sure if the baby was a boy or a girl, and I am as yet uncertain whether I will ever meet the person who could have inhabited the tiny body that resided in me for just under 6 short weeks. Today would have marked 6 weeks exactly. It is curious to me how much attachment I felt to this baby already even though I felt completely unready and insecure about the task of caring for another child come September. I had inklings from the beginning of realizing I was pregnant again that this pregnancy would not end on a happy note. Or that circumstances would be odd. Or perhaps I would be rendered permanently infertile. These imaginations often run wild in my mind, but as my medical history has tended to be somewhat dramatic it also never surprises me when terrible things happen.

It is tempting to ask myself why we continue to live in such a way that babies might grace us with their presence at any time. We do our best to track my fertility windows and avoid them, but still we tend to be careless sometimes. I can’t say I mind. I desire greatly to have as many children as Heavenly Father sees fit to send to our family. But I often question my mental ability to care for them all. The love comes naturally, but so does the anxiety and stress over keeping them alive and helping them grow in the best ways I know how. And with this being my first real tangible experience with having a confirmed pregnancy fail…the fragility of life has suddenly become so much more apparent to me. That we even have three living breathing tiny people in our home is a miracle to me now.

In all the years that we struggled to even conceive a child, I never once considered the fragility of life; for the reality of pregnancy had never been realized until I had three in succession. All of them surprises. All of them viable. None of them without trial, but all of them viable. It seemed to me that out of four years of barrenness, suddenly I was a baby making machine and if I were to be pregnant at all that was the process and a baby would be the end result. And now, here I find myself writing about the death of my fourth baby. I was reminded by the holy spirit a day or two before the bleeding began that “all things are in the Father’s hands”. This phrase has given me strength when I am tempted to be afraid of the reality of building and raising another child. But in it, I have also learned that raising children has very little to do with me and very much to do with my willingness to serve these tiny bodies. These tiny souls. These tiny beings who have all the same emotions and fears as I do, but lack the life experience that informs them of the things I have learned about life. The responsibility of a parent is great. And children test boundaries and patience like no other beings I have yet met. And yet, the growth I have experienced from submitting to the will of my Father has been far greater than any terror I have experienced at the hands of these tiny people. They are my teachers. In life, and now in death. The time which a child is with me does not matter. I have learned more about myself and my folly from each of my, now 4, children than I ever learned without them. They are my teachers. And while I grieve the loss of a child I never knew, I feel grateful for the lessons I have learned. And I value life just that much more.

Peace be with us. –Caitlin

Basic Water Kefir Brewing

I have PTSD now about opening water kefir sodas.

Maybe that’s not the best way to introduce water kefir to you… I blame it all on my husband. You see, the very first water kefir soda we ever made exploded all over my dining room {floor to ceiling}. But this was because my husband underestimated JUST HOW MUCH CARBONATION those little kefir grains would produce–which we lovingly refer as bacteria farts now–and shook the poo out of the bottle.

Unbeknownst to me the cap FLEW off, clocked my forehead and like old faithful it blew out of it’s home and all over my dining room.

I was scared of kefir for a week.

Now brewing kefir soda ain’t no thang and my kids love it and my wallet loves that I’m not shelling out $50 a month for capsules of probiotics. Kefir man, it’s the gift that keeps on farting giving.

But to brew it successfully and without frustration there are some tools and ingredients you must have.

  1. Water Kefir Grains – these are the exact ones I bought (and if you really want, I can mail you some of ours)
  2. 16 oz. Easy Cap Brewing Bottles – the glass is about a mile thick (read: shatter proof)
  3. A large-ish nylon mesh strainer – metal ones are a little harsh on the grains but they still work great.
  4. Brown Sugar/maple syrup/molasses/raw honey – just make sure it’s mineral rich, unrefined is best.
  5. Fresh Lemons
  6. Dried Figs
  7. To make sodas – Fruit juice, dried, or fresh fruit of your choice.

The standard recipe for brewing kefir (which does not carbonate unless you bottle it) is:

Basic Water Kefir (1st ferment)

Prep Time10 mins
fermenting time2 d
Total Time2 d 10 mins

Equipment

  • quart jar
  • small piece of cotton to cover the jar
  • metal screw on lid

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C mineral rich sweetener ie brown sugar, maple sugar, molasses, honey
  • 4 C filtered water
  • 1/4 C water kefir grains buy them here
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 2 dried figs

Instructions

  • Dissolve the sweetener in the water before adding the grains. 
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a mason jar (I love the half gallon ones) and place your fabric on the jar, screwing it into place with a rim lid. Let it sit for 2-3 days at room temperature on your counter. Then filter out the grains, lemon, and figs and repeat the above process to feed your kefir. As you do this more, you'll develop your own taste preferences.
  • After it has fermented for about 2 days then it is ready to drink as is or you can add fruit/fruit juice for the second ferment to make natural sodas.

Happy Fermenting!

Cait

Poor Man’s Pesto Sauce

This year we grew vegetables and we didn’t kill them (mostly)! I finally figured out how to keep basil alive. You wanna know the secret?

Lots of water, and lots of sun, and a fair amount of neglect thrown in there too.

So, because I finally learned how to keep basil alive…we had lots of basil that needed to be consumed. And consequently we ate a lot of pesto this summer. We also grew a ridiculous amount of tomatoes–cherokee purples, hillbillies, indigo, roma, and some orange volunteer cherries. My faith in tomatoes has been restored thanks to the heirloom varieties we experimented with this year.

Walnut Pesto Sauce

Love pesto but don't want to break the bank on pine nuts? I've got you covered.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pesto pasta, pesto sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Caitlin Guerra

Equipment

  • food processor

Ingredients

Pesto Sauce

  • 6 Cup (2 big bunches) Fresh Italian Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Crispy Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1-3 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more to taste)

Pasta

  • 1 Lb Rotini or Fusilli Pasta GF version substitute pasta of choice
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Lb Pre-sliced Crimini Mushrooms
  • 1 Lb Cherry Tomatoes
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Start a large saucepan with water to boil. Gather your food processor and put all of the ingredients for the pesto sauce in it. Blend until smooth, approximately 1-2 minutes. Set Pesto aside.
  • Once your water is boiling pour pasta and a dash of salt into water and cook until just tender. Depending on the brand of pasta this could be 6-8 minutes. Mushy pasta is the worst, try not to overcook.
  • While your pasta is cooking heat up a skillet and melt butter. Once butter is melted and bubbly add the mushrooms. Cook until moist looking and soft. Once the pasta is perfect, turn off heat, drain out water, and return pasta to saucepan. Add pesto sauce and stir until well coated. Stir in mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
  • For a toddler friendly version: keep the noodles, pesto sauce, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes separated. If there is a coup staged, or mutiny occurring, or if any portion of their food hits the floor, put it back on their plate and pretend like it never happened. Eventually mealtime will cease to be a battle of wits…we hope.