07 April 2018

Free Your Cornbread

If you're looking for some witty life lesson or book recommendation or a controversial opinion, I'm sorry to disappoint on this occasion. But if you try either of the following recipes, you'll love them.

I am a baker.  I love the challenge of seeing a recipe and knowing I could make it.  I love the idea of only using ingredients I know the names of (nothing of the four syllable variety).  It's cheaper than going to a bakery. There is nothing quite like making something for the people you love and having them lick their lips and look for more.  And the last couple of years, there is also the challenge of taking a recipe that isn't gluten, sugar, or dairy free and making it so.

(Please note that I did not make the cornbread in the picture I used.  I can make things taste good, but it rarely looks good.  Making things pretty is not a talent of mine.)

The latest recipe I've "freed" is cornbread.  Trust me when I say that the cornbread I've always made is more like cake than bread.  It's sweet (sorry to all you Southerners who prefer it savory) and moist and lovely.

Here's the original recipe as it was given to me by my friend Sarah:

Mormon Cookbook Cornbread
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 C. cornmeal
1 1/2 C. flour
2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
1 1/2 C. milk
** Cream butter and sugar, add eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and milk. Whisk or beat until smooth.  Place in greased 8X8 inch pan.  Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick come out clean.

It's a simple recipe.  This is how I changed it.

1/4 C. coconut oil (You can taste a hint of coconut in the finished product and it's lovely.)
1/4 C. applesauce
1/2 C. honey/agave (or less)
2 eggs
1 C. cornmeal (not masa flour.  It's different, as I learned the hard way.)
1 1/2 C. GF flour blend (I've been using the blend from America's Test Kitchen and substituting millet flour for the white rice flour.  It works well.)
2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
1/2 tea xantham gum (only three syllables, so it's allowed.)
1 1/2 C. soy/almond/rice milk

The method is the same as before, but the batter is slightly runnier.  It may take a minute or two longer to bake.  Trust your toothpick.

I've experimented with flavoring it as well.  Try adding 1/2 tea. of nutmeg or cinnamon.  Or add blueberries or other fresh fruit. Using maple syrup to sweeten and flavor makes for a delicious deviation. For those who prefer savory, try decreasing the amount of honey/agave and add chili powder, cumin, or rosemary.  Although, the rosemary would taste great in sweet or savory.

If you're looking for a delightful variation for breakfast, break up leftover cornbread and pour milk (or your milk substitute) over it. Mmm.  For an upcoming dinner at the Ellsworth home, I'm going to use leftover chili I made, put cornbread overtop and bake it in my own version of tamale pie.

Basically, make it however you want. Go crazy.  That's a baker's right.

Maybe that's why I like baking.

26 February 2018

My Son: Pin Cushion

It has been a life-changing couple of months, at least for my older son.  Two days after our new insurance kicked in, I made a doctor's appointment of him.  He'd gotten the flu over Christmas break (which must be some kind of cruel joke) and never got feeling completely better.  So, his first day back at school he called me during first period and asked me to come get him.

For some teenagers that would be a hard and fast no, but for him it was a clear signal that he was really sick. Hence the doc.

Just before we walked out the door to the appointment, my son filled up this enormous bottle of water to take with us.  We were just going for a ten minute doctor's visit and he needed a two liter bottle of water?  Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head.

Getting my blood glucose meter out, I tortured him by poking his finger with a tiny needle until we got a drop of blood.  The way he moaned, you would have thought I was using a machete and his finger had come off.  I sincerely wish that was the worst of what happened that day.

His sugar levels were so high that my meter couldn't read them.

We got in the car and I started grilling him about how he was really feeling, because I knew it wasn't just the flu anymore.  The doc confirmed it... my son is diabetic.

He spent the next four days in the pediatric unit of the hospital, and while we had a few exciting moments -- like when he dosed up for a massive meal and then couldn't finish eating it, and when he had an allergic reaction to some medication, and when his stomach started cramping so badly he thought he was dying-- mostly he lay in bed watching movies and eating whatever he wanted.  He thought it was the best vacation ever.

When asked, he will tell you that he knew that if any of my children were going to get diabetes, it would be him.  He said he wasn't even surprised.  Since coming home from the hospital, he has pretty well adjusted to life as a pin cushion.  He does everything he's supposed to without complaint and willingly measures and weighs his food so he can dose up correctly.  He's a superstar.

So, while I'm glad he's doing so well, I still feel bad that my genes brought him such a crappy disease.  It makes everything he attempts for the rest of his life "high risk" and that's just stink. Stink. Stink.  So I'd like to take this moment to apologize to him publicly because I am sorry.

At least he doesn't whine about sticking himself with needles anymore.

08 January 2018


Stepping onto my soapbox...

I fully appreciate and support the idea that women be empowered.  I never want a women hurt simply because she's a woman. The ideas I take issue with are that women feel like they have to push everyone else down in order to give themselves the power they think they deserve.  That isn't empowerment, that's all kinds of bad things, like sexism, suppression, and prejudice.  Women don't have to knock other people down to prove our power.  We are already powerful.

The initial feminist movement wasn't about making women better, or higher, than our male counterparts, it was about making us equal, giving us choices.  I believe that initial movement was right! And in large part, I believe it was successful.  Women have choices to be whatever we want to be: doctors, lawyers, underwater basket weavers, explorers, exhibitionists, or homemakers.  We have the power to go out into the world and create for ourselves what we want to be.  That, my friends, is empowerment.  Being empowered has nothing to do with how powerful anyone else is.

So men?  Yeah, they're different from women.  Just like black skin is different from white.  But those differences don't make one side better than the other.  Differences just make us different, they do NOT make one better than the other.  We can be different and still be equal.  Everyone, every human, should have the power to make of themselves whatever they want to be.  To be empowered.

But my choice to be an author in no way should diminish the right of someone else to choose what they want to be.  If a man wants to also be a stay-at-home parent who writes, they should not get any backlash for that choice.  If I wanted to become a psychologist, I should receive no backlash about that because of my gender, my race, or anything else that I have no control over.  That means that those men who imposed their wills on women were wrong, but so also are the women who are making it impossible for decent men to be what they want to be. Choices mean empowerment.

That is why I am so annoyed with the direction celebrity and the media have taken things over the last few months.  They've vilified all men because there are a few bad eggs in high profile places. In fact, the one or two men who have spoken up to say that not all men are bad have been blasted right off the internet. That is called sexism.  By placing women above men simply because we are women is sexism.  And it's wrong.  It's hurtful. It isn't helping ANYONE.  It shouldn't happen.

Let's begin by making everyone equal, not making a wrong even wronger by perpetuating it.

Let's return to that picture I posted at the beginning to point out a matter of irony I can't let pass by.  These women are standing together by all wearing black, to support women.  Right?  Well, let's think about this further.  They have lambasted men for objectifying and harassing women, but look at the dresses they're wearing!  How can a person, man or woman, look at someone wearing a dress that shows so much skin in such a provocative manner and NOT objectify that woman?  They're saying one thing with their mouths and completely negating it with their actions.  Just saying.  Let's be consistent people!

Thank you.  I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

20 October 2017

Black Bean Brownies

I am completely and totally flabbergasted. For the last several months my husband's Aunt Sherrie has been telling us to try her Black Bean Brownies.  I don't know if I need to explain why we didn't try them right away.  Black Bean + Brownies? Ew, right?

Well, it just so happens that we were being unnecessarily prejudiced against these no flour, no sugar, black beanies. They are amazing! And I'm not the only one who thinks so. (I usually have to ask other people if something tastes good to them too. Since I've been eating gluten-free, sugar-free for so long my taste buds are severely skewed.)  My husband and daughter both thought they were delicious and they're the most discerning tasters I know.

Seriously, everyone should try these guilt-free babies.  You'll be feeling chocolatey and happy in your healthy gloating.

I just say "you're welcome" now.

1 15 oz can (1 3/4 Cup) black beans (well rinsed, drained)
2 large eggs
3 TBLSP coconut oil
a pinch of salt
3/4 Cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 C. honey, agave, sugar (or mix and match)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
**Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree bean and other ingredients in a food processor or blender for three minutes, or until smooth and well blended. Fill muffin tin, or small baking dish. For muffins, bake 12-15 mins. For baking dish bake 20-25 mins.


14 October 2017

The Blue Castle

Occasionally I'll be cruising around the book section of my local amazon store (which, as everyone knows, is located at our kitchen table in our pajamas with messy hair) and find something I am shocked, appalled and delighted to see.  For example:

The Blue Castle

The Blue Castle is written by L. M. Montgomery, the same beloved author who wrote the Anne of Green Gables books.  Most of her books are difficult to read as stand-alones because they're part of a series, but this one... this one is a gem.  One of my favorite books ever, and I mean EVER.

Ms. Montgomery was always known for writing characters that leapt off the pages and became real, full-blooded friends and neighbors and the characters in this story are no different.  I really feel like I know Valancy.  I lived with her through the trials and joys and heartaches of the year she lived when she thought she would die. I snuggled in the cabin on the island in the lake and watched the moonlight sift the leaves through each season.  I felt the anguish in her broken heart when she felt she'd betrayed the one man she had ever loved.  And I laughed with her when she told her family all the thoughts she'd kept inside her head and watched as they reacted to her words.

Truly, this story is a joy, a constant refreshment and reminder that we have control over our lives and can make our own happiness.  And some times, that happiness lands in our laps when we've done nothing to deserve it except live as best as we could.

Have I gushed enough?  I don't think it's possible to gush enough about this book, but I'll stop anyway.

The major reason I'm bringing this book up in a blog post is, not only did I find it on amazon, but it's one dollar.  ONE DOLLAR!  So... click on the link, right now, and buy it.  Sometimes when we see books that aren't expensive we figure they must not be worth very much.  Don't let its price fool you.  Just be happy you have access to a gem that'll knock your socks off at a price that allows you to keep all your limbs.

23 August 2017


I wish this picture didn't describe my first day of school reaction every year, but it's spot on.

Every year, I sit around and wonder what I'm supposed to do with myself now.  My kids are gone.  My job is sitting in front of the computer in my imaginary world, but I can stand up and walk away whenever I want.  Truth be told, I probably walk away more often than I should.  But mostly, after three months of having my kids home all day every day, I miss them.  They give me purpose, along with something to do.  Also, I like them.  They're among my favorite people.

And one of the worst things is that I feel like I'm one of the only people who feels like this.  It seems that everyone is busy, constantly running from one duty or activity to the next. They don't have the time or need to wonder what they're going to do with themselves because they're already doing it. Does that mean along with missing three pieces of my heart that there's something wrong with me? Really, does anyone else feel this way?

So, go ahead and ponder that while I mop up my face. I'll try to buck up and give myself some direction for my life sans enfants.

02 August 2017

Badlands, Good Book

Our family vacation was so much fun.  I know you are all waiting with baited breath to hear about it. Who doesn't like looking at other people's vacation photos? *snort*

We stayed for two night in Breckenridge, Colorado.  I'd never even heard of Breckenridge (not being a skier) but it was the cutest town I've ever seen.  One morning I jogged along a river path that I truly wish I could fold up like a board game and carry with me where ever I go.  This was a small area I got to pass as the sun was cresting the Rockies.  The surroundings deserve a much better camera and photographer than this picture got, but it was all I had to work with at the time.

We then moved on to Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  I must lead a very uneducated life because I had no idea this place existed.  It was super, super cool.

Eastern Wyoming turned out to be a place I wouldn't mind living.  So beautiful.  At least during the summer months.  I hear the winters are way harsh (I couldn't resist throwing in some valley girl.) so that would probably be why no one lives there currently. But isn't it lovely?

And this old coal mine was sitting on the side of the road. (Apparently, I got into sun flares.)

We rode passed Sturgis after dark, but weren't attacked by any biker gangs.  It was a little disappointing.  The following day we knocked out several places from our list.  Strangely, the only picture I got from all of that was this terrible one from Mt. Rushmore.

It rained and rained and rained while we were there.  We saw the faces for about three minutes when we first got there, then, embarrassed by all the Disneyland-like hype surrounding them, they hid in the clouds.  We also saw Crazy Horse and that first picture up there: the Badlands.  (The Badlands aren't bad, they're misunderstood.)

I didn't get any pictures of Ellsworth Air Force Base, but it was lots of fun to have our name on jets.  My brother and father-in-law went on a guided bus tour of the base and the tour guide said they needed everyone's ID so they could be sure none of them shouldn't enter.  He jokingly said they'd all probably be fine, since they only pulled terrorists off the bus.  Just then, two guards came and called out the names of my father and brother-in-law and escorted them off the bus.  I imagine everyone left on the bus had their noses pressed against the glass, trying to see and hear what these two gentle men were accused of.  Turned out, the guards just saw the name Ellsworth and wanted to know if they were related to the man the base was named after.  But the guards also knew how it looked and got a kick out of it.

We made it back home eventually.  In case you wondered.

Also, in case you wondered, I have two books to give out.  Thanks to Katy and Janet for your comments.  If you will email me, or contact me on Facebook, I'll make sure you get your books.

Happy reading!