Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet and Sour veggies

I have never been a pickle lover.  I never even liked coleslaw, because of all the vinegar in it.  But as I have gotten older, my tastes have changed, and now I love homemade vinegar-based veggies (I still can't stand the canned ones).  The recipe below I have used for red cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots (not all at the same time).  It not only gives the veggies a delicious taste, but it makes them last forever in the refrigerator.   Though I sometimes eat these veggies just by themselves as a side dish, my favorite way to eat them is in a Korean beef pot (recipe coming soon) or heaped onto stir-fry.  The sweet flavor contrasts nicely with the salty stir-fry.

Sweet and Sour Veggies
1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
Chopped or shredded cabbage, cucumbers, or carrots

Boil the water, sugar, vinegar and salt in a saucepan until everything is dissolved.  Let it cool.  Pack the veggies in a jar and pour the vinegar/sugar solution over the veggies.  Keep in the refrigerator.

Hint:if you are using cucumbers, slice them as spears and cut away most of the seeds. 


Big (and good) news

H. brought home her report card today.  Her reading grade has gone from all Ps (passing) to all Ss (the highest grade).  I am so thankful and so excited!
Better go do some more exercises....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good and Bad...again

I think we are now at the eleventh or twelveth week.  Overall things are going smoothly.  I am getting better at doing her exercises every day.  H. continues to be fairly calm at home and have a decent attitude toward homework (though we haven't had much this week due to standardized testing).  She still continues to forget things at school.
The good news: H has found a series of books that she loves (Rainbow Fairy Magic) and is devouring them.  They aren't complicated books, but neither are they "Biscuit".  Sometimes she reads two a day.  This is huge for a girl who up to this point never voluntarily picked up a book.  She has probably read about 20 of the books so far, and it has piqued her interest in reading enough that the other day she picked up a very big fantasy book about dragons.  I was amazed.  And then she proceeded to read the first chapter.  That is all she has done so far, but again it is huge for her.  She would have never even looked at a book that big before.
The therapist had told us that H is not storing information in the same side of her brain where most of the processing of information occurs.  She told us this is part of the reason H has trouble with reading.  Some of the exercises we do are supposed to correct that.  In light of this recent interest in reading, I have to wonder if her brain is now working a little better?
The bad news: Though H has made huge strides at home and in school in self control, apparently that is not carrying over much to situations where I (or a teacher) am not present.  From her scout leader I have found out that she tends to act out alot, like she is trying to gain attention all the time.  I don't know what to do, other than keep at the exercises and hope that eventually it will spread to more areas of her life.  I must say, we have the best, most loving, supportive and patient scout leaders ever!
Keep praying for us!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Melissa's Power Bars

I have been eyeing this recipe for a while, and finally decided to make them.  Can you say yum!?  These are better than Lara Bars.  Even the kids loved them.  I got the recipe from Melissa at Gluten Free For Good.  I love her blog, especially the interesting science/nutritional information she gives on occasion. 

Melissa used pecans, almonds, and apricots in her recipe.  I only had pecans at home, so I just doubled the amount of pecans called for and subsituted 1cup of dried cranberries for the apricots.  Instead of a gluten free flour mix I used 2 tablespoons each of rice flour and buckwheat flour.  And instead of maple syrup I used agave nectar.  So the final version was:

2 cups pecans
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup GF oats
2 tablespoons rice flour
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
4 tablespoons ground flax
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

I will let you check out Melissa's site for the directions.  They were so good they were gone within hours.  I don't think you can go wrong with these bars, no matter what you substitute.

The tenth week

This week has been spring break for us, which means it has been an unusual schedule.  Therefore it is hard to say if we have made any progress.  At least I can report that H. has not reverted to earlier behavior!  A positive sign was H.'s grandmother commenting on how she seems to be more mature now. 
However I must confess we missed two day of therapy exercises.  One day couldn't be helped, but the other day we completely forgot about it until bedtime, and I was too tired from a cold at that point to start an hour's worth of exercises.
Hopefully I will have more positive news next week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seasonal Soups

Mmmmm...soup.   I love soup.  It is a great comfort food.  So where to start?  Do I make chili, or chicken vegetable, or carribean soup, or coconut chicken soup, or thai chicken soup?  All of these are favorites here.  However the Go Ahead Honey its Gluten Free challenge this month is SEASONAL soup, meaning something that is in season in your area.  Right now we are getting sweet potatoes and spinach in our farming co-op box (btw, if you live in Alabama, check out GrowAlabama; it is a great co-op).  So that brought to mind two other soups I love: Korean spinach soup and West African sweet potato soup.  I was unable to decide which one to make, so I made both.  Which is a good thing because I think I am coming down with a cold, and there is nothing better than soup when you are sick.
So enjoy (without the colds)!

West African Sweet Potato Soup (adapted from one of the Cook's Illustrated Books)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups chicken broth (I make mine without salt; if yours has salt you may not want to add extra)
2 cups water
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons peanut butter

Saute onion in butter until soft.  Add sugar through cayenne and stir for about 1 minute.  Add rest of ingredients and bring to boil.  Simmer 30 minutes until sweet potato is soft.  Use a hand blender to puree the soup.  Serve with fresh cilantro.

Korean Soup with Spinach (adapted from Faye Levy's International Chicken Cookbook)

1/2 lb ground beef 95% lean
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 cups chicken broth (if your chicken broth is without salt, make sure you taste the soup as it is cooking to see if you need more salt)
2 cups water
8 cups packed fresh spinach leaves (or more, if you can't get enough spinach like me!)
1 green onion, chopped

Saute beef in a large saucepan until almost done.  Add garlic, salt, and pepper.  Once beef is done, add soy sauce, broth, and water.  Bring to boil and add spinach.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve with green onions sprinkled on top.

The ninth week

At least I think it is the ninth week.  To be honest I have lost track.  I am having a much harder time consistently doing the exercises with H. this time around.  Yesterday we skipped everything!  Of course we were out of the house most of the day until bedtime, but still.  If I was planning properly, we would have done at least some of them in the morning.
And due to my lack of consistency H is not progressing this time around.  We are still stuck on repeating back 4 nonsense words.  We have not made any progress.  And she is more often talking in a little girl voice than she used to.
Let's see if I can use this blog to help myself be more consistent.  I don't know if anyone is reading this, but if you are, I will report back this Saturday whether I have missed any more exercises.  Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


First, I should explain I am a type-A, organizing, list-generating person.  So maybe I am overreacting.  But I found out tonight that H. had (1) lost her math notebook, (2) lost her blue take-home-test folder, (3) didn't turn in a fund-raiser because it had been sitting under her stuff in the car for a week, and (4) got a note that is a week old from her teacher saying she is constantly getting in trouble for acting silly.  These are the times when I feel she has no future and will end up living in a slum somewhere. 
Okay, so I am definately over-reacting.  Thank God, I don't express these thoughts AT ALL to her.  Unfortunately I was a little harsh and over-emphasized all she had missed.  This is not good for a sensitive child.  I will need to ask her forgiveness and pray for more patience.  After all, her notebook and her folder are probably at school in her messy and unorganized desk and she just didn't see them.  And the worst that can happen with the fund raiser is we will owe the school $20.  And we didn't get a note from the teacher this week.  And the note from last week is when we were having trouble at home as well, having just started a new therapy routine.
Speaking of which, it is bed time and we still have a few exercises to do!