{Family Centered Kitchen} Real Food, Pure and Simple

A series of blog posts to help you eat better on a budget, inspired by my friend Tricia’s series, “Real Food on a Real Budget“, which I contributed to.

Real Food, Pure and Simple

Healthy, nutrition packed snacks are a real challenge sometimes.  They are especially tricky if you’re trying not to rely on sweet snacks, which are lovely.  But sometimes you want to serve your family something savoury.  Here are a couple of recipes for you to try.  The first is absolutely a complete protein because it contains GRAINS + BEANS.  The second isn’t a complete protein on its own, but I’ve offered a couple of suggestions to help you make it a complete protein.

Real Food, Pure and Simple


Real Food, Pure and Simple


{about 25¢/ serving.  Makes about 12 1 slice servings}

Caveat: I feel that this recipe needs some improvement.  The flavour is wonderful but the dough is a little bit too tight, and the finished bread is crumblier than desired.  I’m going to experiment with soaking the flour overnight (or two, or three nights), and with kneading for a lot longer – and with a machine – to develop the meagre proteins a bit more.  If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments below so that we can all try it.

If you are grinding your own flour, I recommend doing a first grind of your beans and lentils in a coffee grinder, then adding them to the grains for a second pass.  This stops them getting jammed in the feed.  Depending upon which grinder you have, this may not be an issue. Weights for whole grains and beans are given below.  The flax meal is there to help give the yeast something to make bubbles with, and is easier on the tummy to many people than gums.


2 c. spelt flour  (8 oz. whole spelt)

1 c. lentil flour (4 oz. whole lentils)

1 c. barley flour (4 oz. whole barley)

½ c. bean flour (2 oz. whole beans – any kind you like)

½ c. millet flour (2 oz whole millet)

1-2 T. flax meal

2 tsp salt

2-4 T. honey

½  c. olive oil

1 T. yeast

1 – 1 1/2 c. warm water

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, yeast, and warm water to form the dough. Knead and allow to rise for one to two hours in a warm place. Punch down and shape loaf.  Allow to rise again for 30 min. – 1 hour.

For sandwich loaf: Place in oiled bread pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until you hear a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

For artisan loaves: Hand shape the loaves, and sprinkle with salt or flour, baking for 20-25 minutes.

Real Food, Pure and Simple

Serving suggestion:  Toast several slices of Ezekiel bread, spread with homemade guacamole and top with slices of fresh tomato, salt and pepper or with a spoonful of salsa fresca for lunch.  DELICIOUS!


Real Food, Pure and Simple


{about 13¢/serving, makes 16 ¼ c. servings)

I refused to eat chickpeas as a child.  I now adore chick peas.  And, thankfully, so does my family.  We will eat them (or any bean) right out of the pot and before they make their way into a recipe.  Yum yum!  Here is one way to enjoy them.

2 lb. cooked chick peas


2 tsp. Kosher salt (or your fave)

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. curry powder (sweet or hot)

Preheat oven to 400°.  Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Tip out onto a lined jelly roll pan.  Toast for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds and BINGO!  You have a complete protein snack.  Or, throw some slivered almonds into the bowl and toast those along with the chick peas…


ETA: I failed to mention that, in order to make your non-animal proteins fully bio-available, you will want to soak them for between 8 and 48 hours before using them (teff, for instance, can take two whole days to soak properly).  Legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts should soak first.  You can drain and cook from there.  Alternately, if you’re planning to grind them into meal or flour, spread the soaked goodness on a tray and dry it out in a very low oven first.  Cool, then grind away.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Yeasts of the (not-necessarily-southern) Wild

I got a request from my sister-friend Jenn {Miracoli Farm in Kentucky} to post my sourdough starter recipe and instructions, and some information on capturing wild yeast.

Sourdough is amazing.  Besides the resulting sponge for bread baking, one of the by-products – hooch – has a slew of uses in your kitchen, as you will see below.  Get comfy, this is a long post.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Catching Yeast

For sourdough starter, all  you need is flour and water.  And in the winter, when active yeasts are more dormant, a little sugar to help your starter along is useful.  You also want a large glass jar or glazed pottery crock {cleaned out well and rinsed with screaming hot or even boiling water}.  I use my grandmother’s bean pot and it is perfect!  The cover isn’t too tight fitting, which allows the sponge to breathe.

Combine 2c. organic flour and 2c. water.  Add up to 2 T of sugar (winter time especially).  Set aside on your counter with a piece of cheesecloth over the top.  If you live in a brand new house, or a house that hasn’t been cooked in a whole lot, you may have a little more difficulty catching yeast because there isn’t as much in the air.  You can also put your crock next to your fresh fruit bowl/basket, especially if you have some thin skinned organic fruits that are local to your area or off your own land.

Next day, you can dip out some sponge to make pancakes, and feed the sponge with 1 1/2 c. each of flour and water.  Go ahead and sprinkle in a little bit more sugar if you feel like your sponge isn’t bubbly enough.  It eats sugars.  Keep it on the counter and feed your sponge for another 2-3 days.  Then you can store it in your fridge.  Make sure that at least once a week you are pouring your sponge into a glean glass mixing bowl and giving your crock a good scrub.  Then return your sponge to the crock and pop it back into the fridge.

Whatever you remove to use for recipes, replace, or you’ll run out.  Often, life gets busy and you wind up with an over abundance of sponge because you’ve kept feeding the little critter.  This is a good time to share with a friend or neighbour.  Dip a cup or two out into a clean sanitized jar with a pretty fabric lid cover!

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Catching Yeast

You may find that you get a layer of beery liquid on the top  of your sponge {may be dark or light}.  That’s hooch.  You can stir it into the sponge, or you can ladle or pour it off.  Stirring it back in will intensify the flavour of your sourdough, so it is completely up to you.  If you decide to stir it in, I recommend only doing that once or twice.  After that, you may find that the flavour is too intense, even unpleasant.  If you decide to pour it off, save it!  You can use it for soaking grains and flours, veggies, and meats.  You can actually drink it {I’m not a fan}, or you can collect it and harvest the yeast to brew your own beer.  Basically, what you have is a wort, which is the little sibling of beer.

To collect wild yeasts using your hooch:

Place the hooch in a sanitized container – you can use a short, fat jelly jar {wide mouthed variety} or a bowl or a petri dish (if you’re feeling all mad-scientist).  Some folks like to make a gelatin medium by boiling the hooch and adding gelatin powder.  That could be fun with the kids, but isn’t imperative.  Just leave your hooch out for a few days, in a cool location in the house {near your fruit bowl or bread box is perfect}, or out in the yard in high summer where it won’t be disturbed and in proximity to a fruit bearing plant {grapes or brambles are great!}.  You can also plop a few {local} organic thin-skinned fruits right into the hooch or set them on top of your gelatin medium.  What you’re looking for is a pale beige or white substance, smooth and pasty.  If you get something fluffy or spikey, you’ve got mold.  Discard and start again.  Mold is NOT good here.

Using a sanitized spoon {or a nutpick in the case of a gelatin medium}, scoop up that yeast and place it in a fresh jar of hooch.  In a few days, it will get cloudy and you will get a layer of foam on the top {krausen}.  Then you will notice a precipitate gathering on the bottom of the jar.  That is yeast cake.  If you really want to, you can do a change of hooch and go again, but that’s all you.

Pour off the hooch and save your yeast cake in the fridge, in a covered glass container or a zippy bag.  And use as you would for breads.

1 oz. fresh yeast = 1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast.

{Family Centered Kitchen} | Catching Yeast

For Brewing:

You can use a pint of this yeasty hooch to make a gallon of beer.  A litre will make 5 gallons of beer.

I haven’t any beer recipes for you, I’m afraid, but you can get them all over the web, especially from the Homebrewers Association.  Lots of recipe sharing going on over there on their forums.  I do, however know some places for you to get your hops. 🙂


Sparkle Days




Sunlight shines on crystals white,

Sparkling shards twinkle and wink

Shadows softly rest on pristine blanket

Sighs of wonder from child’s lips ~NRG


Celebrating Every Day | Sparkle Days

Celebrating Every Day | Sparkle Days

Celebrating Every Day | Sparkle Days

Celebrating Every Day | Sparkle Days

Celebrating Every Day | Sparkle Days

Gingerbread Pancakes

  • 4 c. flour (GF AP flour mix will work perfectly)
  • 2T baking powder
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. light cream, sour cream, or plain yoghurt
  • 4 T (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.  Add to the dry and mix well.  Fry on a hot oiled or buttered skillet until bubbles appear and break on the surface, flip and fry on the other side until golden brown.  Spread with softened butter and keep warm.  Makes about 24 pancakes.

For lighter, fluffier pancakes, separate the eggs.  Add the yolks only to the wet ingredients.  Whip the eggs whites until soft peaks form and fold into the batter.

You can also use a sourdough pancake recipe and add the spices.  Fantastic!

Serve with whipped cream, real maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.


White Hot Chocolate

  • 4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 gal. whole milk
  • 4 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Over medium heat, combine cream and milk.  When the milk mixture is hot, add chocolate chips and stir constantly until melted.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and bean paste.  Garnish with a peppermint stick, cinnamon, or cocoa powder.  Serves 8 in large mugs, 16 in smaller cups, or our family once around. 🙂

For a lighter version, substitute light cream or half-and-half for the heavy cream.  For a grown-up-only version, add a splash of peppermint or cinnamon schnapps, or coffee or chocolate liqueur.


Celebrating Every Day | Sparkle Days


The first real snowfall of winter still holds something magical for me.  And seeing it through the eyes of my children makes my heart overflow.


Festal Kitchen

Advent brings several Saints’ days that cry out (to me) for celebration.  The ritual of observing these little feasts draws us along the weeks of the season toward Christmas.  This week, we have Ss. Nicholas and Ambrose.

And the Gadbois clan likes to celebrate with food.  St. Nick’s Day always reminds me of chocolate and oranges.  So that’s our menu for tomorrow.  What could be more special than chocolate for breakfast on St. Nicholas Day?

Orange Chocolate Chip Pancakes

  • 4 c of sourdough sponge (prepared the night before from 2c of starter, 2c of flour, and 2c warm water)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2T  sugar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1T warm water
  • 1T fresh orange rind
  • miniature chocolate chips
Combine ingredients and cook on a hot, oiled griddle.  Serve with whipped cream and chocolate-orange syrup. Makes about 40 pancakes.
*If you haven’t got a sourdough starter, you can make your favourite standard pancake recipe.  But trust me, once you have served sourdough pancakes, nothing else will ever compare.
Chocolate-Orange Syrup
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • dash salt
  • 2/3 c boiling water
  • 2 T. orange marmalade
Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until it comes to the boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Makes about 2 cups.


St. Ambrose Day means something with honey, since he is the patron of beekeepers.  I found a scrumptious recipe, posted by Kelly at The Nourishing Home .  The combination of lemon and almond is what we call “Primrose” in our house.  More on why another day.

These pretty little cookies are gluten-free, dairy free, and egg free.  They are also raw!  Super duper!  Easy for the kids to help make, and a fun treat to take along to homeschool gatherings or potluck.  {Just be sure to label them in case anyone is allergic to nuts!}  I will be making a double batch.


Brigid’s Footsteps

Photography by John Evans


The footsteps of St Brigid are everywhere I go
Rising out of darkness from the earth below
Little bells of Spring time –
Pure and white as snow.

The footsteps of St Brigid
Have travelled far and wide
Unconstrained by boundaries,
Monarchies or tides –

An abbess and a foundress
A holy one of God
Whose prayers rose up like incense
From rock and field and bog.

O Saint Brigid, Ireland’s children
Still recall with greatest pride
All you did for church and country
With the Cross your truest guide.

Ask the Saviour now to bless us
Ask Our Lady to enfold
In maternal wraps of goodness
All we are and all we hold.

Dear to us is Mother Ireland
Dear to us this faith passed down
Help us to uphold and value
All that won for you a crown.

May we follow in your footsteps
As you look from heaven above
May you shower upon your children
Heaven’s grace and heaven’s love.

Winter has given us a miss, it seems, and we’re headed straight into spring.  While that isn’t such good news for sugaring, we’re happy to have the mild weather.  The temperatures are forecast to reach 60 degrees here today.  On the feast of St. Brigid.  When we are normally watching the skies for freezing rain.

We will still have porridge oats with all of the fixings, and a pot of hot tea with breakfast, despite the warm weather.  Perhaps we’ll make a barmbrack for snack time.  I found a new, gluten free recipe.

I haven’t planned any activities for this feast, as I generally do.  Perhaps we’ll have a go at creating Brigid’s Footsteps (snowdrops) from white packing paper and pipe cleaners.  Something sweet and simple, reminding me so poignantly of the drifts of snowdrops all over England near her feast day.

I hope that your day is blessed in every way.


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