Sunday, March 29, 2015

Homesick

Our time here in northern PA is nearly at an end. Five days from now we can head home! We are enjoying our time here but home is in our thoughts a lot these days. We hear of warm weather, blooming flowers and spring peepers while we continue to watch the occasional snowfalls and experience the cold weather here. 

To console ourselves, we have tomato plants growing on the windowsill. (190- I counted the other day!) We also started a sweet potato or yam growing. I am feeling like I need to do a little research on the two potatoes. What's a yam and what's a sweet potato? As we continue to learn about phytic acid in foods, I read that yams have some and sweet potatoes have none.




See the snow outside?

Back to the subject I started out with in that last paragraph- we are dreaming of gardening. I ordered strawberry plants that I am hoping will be in good health when we get home. One of the major projects will be to construct fence so that the deer will not get the fruit of our labors. The next will be to get the ground enhanced with good things. We didn't do much gardening last year and what we did the deer enjoyed.

I have been spoiled with good cooking here. We eat our meals in the cafeteria most times. A couple of things this has done for me is - 1. Given me a break where I can get new ideas and new zeal for cooking. 2. Made me eager to be back in my own kitchen to cook healthy foods.

Regarding #1 -Some time ago I signed up for a meal planning website called Pepperplate. I never used it that much. I guess it just wasn't user friendly enough at the time I signed up. Soon before we came up here Thomas gave me a tablet for my last birthday. I was looking for a meal planner app and found Pepperplate. Now I'm really excited about it.

They have added a feature called a bookmarklet that you can put on your bookmarks bar on your computer. Then whenever you find a recipe you like, just click that little gizmo and presto! It adds the recipe from the page to your recipes file in Pepperplate. It syncs with the app on the tablet where there are so many cool features. 

There's a planner where you can add recipes to certain days or a menus page where you can make menus with your recipes and then put the menus in the planner. Then when you want to cook, take the tablet to the kitchen, pull up the recipe(s) you want and start cooking. The app has a feature that will keep the screen from dimming until you are finished cooking. You can work on multiple recipes at once and have timers going for each one. There is also a feature that allows you to scale the recipe by a fraction or however many times you need to increase it. Once you schedule a recipe you have the option of adding it to your grocery list. It is just way too cool. Of course if you have a smart phone it will work with that too.

Regarding #2 - It is hard to have to continually pass by foods that don't like you and that look oh. so. good. Or compromise and just eat them and then suffer the consequences. It is hard to go hungry but I know it doesn't hurt me really. 

Since we have been off sugar and then cut grains from our diet to a large extent, I have found cooking very interesting. It is challenging to rethink the typical American diet. For the most part I just fix "real food" - vegetables, salads, soup, eggs, meats, fruits. But occasionally I want something like a sandwich ....or muffins..... or pancakes. So what do I do? Do a Google search for "Paleo Pancakes" and amazingly someone has come up with such a thing! A pancake made without grains. 

Or more recently- Austin wanted Sweet Potato Pie for his birthday meal. I found one made with a nut crust. I sweetened the filling with maple syrup and it was a very delicious pie! Now Melvin is requesting Hamburgers, ginger cookies and frozen lemon yogurt for his birthday meal. I found a bun recipe that is made without grains, as well as ginger cookies. Also found a recipe for the yogurt that looks quite easy and good. Can you tell I'm having fun?

Back to the tablet -Another really, really cool thing that we use it for is the Barton tiles. They have come out with an app for the tiles so we don't have to cart tiles wherever we go. It is just so, so nice. As we progress through the levels, the tiles keep adding up and can almost overwhelm a person for the space they take. Especially in a lively household, we would often need to rearrange them daily. Now we can sit on the couch to do a Barton lesson and have the tiles in one handy little spot.

I will give you a couple snapshots of the art work of the college students in this place. They were divided into teams to decorate their study halls. 

This wasn't part of the artwork


Think "Kindle"

  
Think "Scrabble"

Think "Castle"

The sign on the castle door
(which actually opens into Mr Russell's  office)

Paper birds mobile

We are planning to spend the evening with the students at Carl & Yvonne's (Thomas' sister) house. Time to go. Hopefully I will have more to share with you soon.

What is your spring like? Cold or warm? Maybe some of both?

What are your gardening plans?

What are you eating? :)