Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mama Tip Tuesday! Roasted Almonds and Almond Butter

I have a new addiction!

Sweet delicious roasted almonds and almond butter! I have been reading up on the Paleo Diet quite a bit. For the past few months my daughter has had a runny nose that she just can’t get rid of. Our chiropractor suggested grains could be the culprit. The suggestion was overwhelming to me. My pantry cabinets are… well… filled with grains. Do I throw it out? Start over? Slowly, I have been making strides to stop buying the bad stuff and start buying the “good stuff.” Learn more about the paleo diet.

Here is my go to snack, and it is so easy to make! It really keeps the cravings at bay!

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Almonds
2 Cups Almonds
1/4 Cup Real Maple Syrup

That's It!
Spread on cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Maple Covered Almonds glistening in the morning sun.
You know the stands at festivals that draw you in with the smells of roasted peanuts and cashews? Then they charge you $10.00 for a small bag! Well these can be made for a fraction of the price AND the are so much healthier!
Searching through paleo recipes, a good amount of the baked goods call for almond butter. At the grocery jars of almond butter are $8.00+! I am a bit more frugal then that!

First, you'll need a little bit of patience. The goal is to not overheat or start a fire with your food processor here. Please let it run for a few minutes, wait a few minutes (do some dishes or watch a fun show and grind during commercials). You'll also need to scrape the sides quite a bit.

Pop those pretty Almonds in the processor. Let it grind for about a minute, then it should look like this.

The consistancy is simular to almond meal

Yes, keep going!

and going! You can start to see the oil come out of the almonds here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Meet Fortville, Progressively

Meet Fortville Up Close and Personal

Fortville Mama is hosting a premier Indy Blogger Mom event in September! We'll be progressively (similar to a progressive dinner party) touring 4 of Fortville's family friendly hot spots. We'll start out on beautiful Main Street Fortville at Java Junction for samples of their custom coffee creations such as German chocolate cake and toffee coffee crunch, along with a few sweet treats. Kiddos can enjoy all the bounce fun they can handle as well, while blogger attendees check out the unique features of Java Junction.

Next up will be Indulge, also on historic Main Street and only a short walk from Java Junction. The friendly owners of the old-fashioned ice cream parlor (which in it's former life, long ago, was Heches Five & Dime Store) will have a special treat for each and every blogger. For a sneak peek at all Indulge has to offer, check out this delightful post from Kara Fleck at Simple Kids.


There will also be a chance to check out the upcoming 2013 Fortville Winter Festival that is set for Saturday December 7th. It is one of my favorite features of Fortville, with sparkling lights up and down Main Street and the feel of a holiday German market. There will also be fairy gardens on display from Brawner's Greenhouse of Fortville, and a few fairy garden surprises to be had as well!

Next up is Piney Acres Farm on 1000N in Fortville. A beautiful rural setting for a hayride and a showcase of all Piney Acres has to offer for the upcoming fall season - pumpkin picking, an 8 acre corn maze and a gem mine! Along with a tour of their country store and a few treats as well.
Our last stop will be Ten West Center for the Arts in the heart of Fortville. Ten West does an amazing job "helping youth stay creative" and bring amazing events to the area. Not only comedy and magic, but National Dance Day as well! They will have all of their programs on display for us! Plus there will be package giveaways for upcoming events.
All attendees will receive an amazing swag bag from the event with loot from the locations visited, along with other surprises from local businesses. There also will be chances along the tour to win giveaways to take back for your own blog!
If you are interested in attending this event, please email Jen Lear at pamediasolutions@gmail.com with your contact info and your blog info.
See you in September in Fortville!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mama Tip Tuesday! Canning Five Generations in One Pot

Sweet Sound of Popping Lids

You may notice an old aluminum pot of simmering tomatoes on my mom's stove from time to time. It is my great grandmother's pot. Five generations have cooked in that old pot. It may go back even further. I am not for sure how long. I do know my great grandmother canned, who taught my grandmother, who taught my mother, who taught me, and finally my daughters when they join in! Growing up I've seen my mom can many many times. She even canned as many as 100 quarts of tomatoes one summer. Hearing the lids pop is one of my favorite sounds.

My great grandma lived till she was 93. I remember, she was sweet and most of all, the windmill short bread cookies she had on her counter that I loved. Yes when you're under 5 that was the high light of your day. My grandmother took care of her till she passed away. Who in turn has a heart of gold. To this day, at age 75, my grandmother never ever stops. I came to the realization a few weeks ago, I can never recall a time that she has been sick. Not even a head cold?! My mother is also good hearted and so strong. This year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, went through 8 rounds if chemo, a mastectomy, and now 6 weeks of radiation. Who never let it slow her down.
There is no doubt I've had generations of strong women who have passed down so much passion. I hope you enjoy the generations of knowledge that has gone into this.
It starts with mules, yes, mules. Every year before my parents plant a garden they make sure it is good and fertilized. With mule-newer. Year after year their produce is so hearty from the mule's hard work. Ha!

Then you need two cute curly headed girls to pick all those tomatoes. The youngest one had a tough time picking just the red ones, but there were plenty to go around.

Here is the recipe,

Savory Southwest Salsa
5lbs Ripe Tomatoes (Roma's are the Best)
3 Cups Chopped Onions
1 Cup Jalapenos (We removed seeds and middle to make it not as spicy)
1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar (5% Acidity)
3 1/2 tsp Salt

Seems Simple Right?!

First of all, make sure all surfaces are clean! This is so important so nothing get into your jars that you don't want.

Then weigh your tomatoes. You can use a kitchen scale if you have it. The other option is to weigh yourself with and without the tomatoes. Yes, it is okay to write it down on paper, if you can't do it all in your head. I did, but no one will have to know.

Next, talk your mom into doing the dirty work, cutting up the jalapenos. Over the years, she has learned the hard way, when you cut up this many jalapenos, WEAR GLOVES! It burns! Meanwhile, I cried my eyes out cutting up onions. Okay, I'm not sure who was really doing the dirty work here!

Next get a large pot of water boiling. Then pour it over the tomatoes. This blanches then to make it easy to remove the skins. Then put a medium size bowl aside with cold water the tomatoes and toss a few hot ones in there. Cut out the stem and then peel off skin. Cut off any imperfections such as excessive whiteness or dark spots.

After about 20 minutes of tomatoes bubbling on medium heat, add in your onions.

Tip from grandma. She says to skim off the foam to help take impurities out of the tomatoes.

Great grandma's pot on the left. Place jars in boiling water to start the canning.

Next stir in the jalapenos. Then add in remaining ingredients.

Then place new lids and rims in boiling water. Tip from mom: Never reuse lids! New lids will ensure a good seal.

Fill hot jars with hot salsa leaving about a 1/2 inch of space at the top. Then clean off rim of glass jar with a clean towel or wash cloth. Add lid then rim. Set aside and move on to the next one. Once they have sealed the dot in the middle will recede. Make sure all jars are sealed before storing.

Next enjoy the salsa that didn't fit in the jar! Add fresh cilantro before serving!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fortville Hot Spots

Meet Fortville Progressively...

I'm in the very beginning stages of planning a September event to introduce beautiful Fortville Indiana and all it's treasures to the Indy blogger mom community. Right now thinking of mid-September as a tentative date.

The event would be similar to a progressive dinner party. There would be five hot spot locations, and we would progressively visit each for tours, samples, giveaways and more.

Fortville truly is a hidden treasure nestled on the northeast side of Indy, just minutes from Fishers and Geist. A vibrant Main Street with a historic feel and tons of low cost family fun activities, including many festivals and special events spread throughout the year. As well as unique agritourism hot spots that are sure to become part of family traditions year after year.

I'd love some feedback from area blogger moms that might be interested in coming out for this special event.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Farm Fresh Egg Challenge

Is there really a difference?

So in theme with Ashley's chicken coop adventures, I was a brave girl this evening and bought farm fresh eggs from Brawner's booth at the Fortville Farmers Market. I'd been curious to try them. Jamez from The Fort Grille raves about them. I've had people tell me they are healthier for you, as well and naturally lower in cholesterol. I also found this helpful blog that has tons more "facts" on why they are better. But really...is there a taste difference? Are they really better??

Our family couldn't wait for breakfast tomorrow...we had to find out tonight! I fried up one of our regular store bought eggs and then one of the farm fresh eggs that the friendly vendor advised were plucked from the coop just today.
With our yummy BLTs (bacon and tomatoes from the market) that we had for dinner, we each taste tested the two eggs and decided which we thought was better. To be fair to the eggs, I didn't tell the rest of the family which was which until after we were all done.  Which do you think they liked better, or could they even tell a difference?
See if you can tell in the photos below which is which?

Okay, I'll tell...they all picked the brown farm fresh egg! They said it tasted yummy! My kids fought over finishing it off. My husband took pity on the store bought one and finished it off.

I find again and again, there is nothing like shopping local and fresh! Lucky for me Brawner's has eggs all the time at their store on SR67! I think I might just become a regular!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mama Tip Tuesday! Small Town Living in the Coop

My chickens have taken up residence in the Coop!

Our wild girls spent many nights roosting in our big evergreen tree in our back yard. Then they would wake up at the crack of dawn to get into mischief by throwing the neighbor's mulch around. Hooligans.
Recently, we finally had a free weekend to devote time to building our girls a coop. I have to say my husband is pretty amazing and handy. He took a mini barn that was in our back yard (left from the pervious owner) and converted it into a chicken coop. A few months ago I saw an idea to take buckets to make nesting boxes. I thought it was a great idea, especially for easy cleaning!

To start, I posted an ad on Freecycle listing that I was looking for Kitty Litter Buckets for my new coop's nesting boxes. A week later I found someone that had a bunch of them! Yea for FREE! The great thing about this set up is the use of recycled materials. Potentially, the stand can be made out of pallet wood. We however used scrap wood we had left over from other projects.

My girls have so much fun with the chickens!
Have you hugged a chicken today?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday FortvilleMama Feature - Beauty from Ashes Furniture

Friday Fortville Mama Feature - Beauty from Ashes Furniture

One of the elements I love about small town life, is the unique businesses. However, in today's economy small businesses have it rough and many struggle to keep the doors open. The only way Main Street USA can stay vibrant and beautiful is if people support it, and I'm a big supporter of shop and play local.

Periodically, on Fridays, Fortville Mama will be featuring a local small business, so we, as a community, can learn more about these great businesses and help spread the word about their unique offerings. If you have a business you'd like to learn more about, just let us know.

Today's featured business is Beauty from Ashes Furniture and More. Owners, Angel Wadman and Stacie Picha are two crafty talented ladies! They met through New Life Christian Fellowship in Fortville and quickly bonded through a shared love for decorating, painting and furniture makeover projects.

During their initial brainstorming on business ideas to encompass all their talents, they thought about possibly opening a small eclectic restaurant in Fortville, but eventually decided on a furniture restoration and refinishing business.

I think they were spot on with their final decision! These ladies amaze me with what they are able to do with old furniture. From desks and dressers to farmhouse tables and old frames and everything in between. Have something specific you'd like? They'll even keep an eye out and work with you to makeover once they find it.

Hate to cart things off to Goodwill? They also take unwanted items and even offer free local pick-up. I took them up on this offer and sent an old coffee table their way. My kids had beat it up fairly well over the years. It was even colored on! Angel and Stacie worked their magic and turned it into a gorgeous mudroom piece!

They currently have many of their available pieces shown on their business Facebook page. They plan to soon open up a store front, but are still on the lookout for the perfect location. In the meantime, they will be hosting another truckload sale in the parking lot of Sunrise Donuts in Fortville on August 17th from 10a.m.-3p.m. Be sure to head out and support this great local business!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mama Tip Tuesday - Easy Family Pizza Night Dough Recipe

We haven't had a family pizza night in way too long! 

A blogger friend shared a great dough recipe with me years ago. It can be used for pizza or calzones. So easy, so much cheaper than delivery and best of all the kiddos can help. 

The whole family pitched in tonight. We made the dough, rolled it out and dressed it up all together. I loved the giggles, the faces with sauce and the flour all over the kitchen. Nothing like true family time.

Also, we got to put some of our yummy local fresh produce and cheese from last Thursday's Fortville Farmer's Market to good use - fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and fresh tomato. The boys in the family wanted to try a stuffed crust pizza tonight too. It turned out just as good as delivery!

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve yeast in warm water, add rest of ingredients and mix. Knead dough for 5 minutes. Let dough rest 3-5 minutes. Roll out on pizza stones or greased pan. (I can usually get two pizzas from one batch of dough.) Add sauce and toppings and bake. Usually 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

If desired, you can easily alter the recipe for gluten free or whole wheat. You can add parmesan or herbs to the crust as well or break-up the dough in smaller balls and make individual pizzas. It's fun to be creative with toppings as well: BBQ chicken, ranch with veggies, taco pizza, cheeseburger pizza...the possibilities are endless and leftovers from the week come in handy.