My son Jack turned 12 last week. He’s planning a party for his friends next weekend, but we had a mini-celebration at home, just for the family.
When he got up before school, he asked for pancakes for breakfast. Normally he has oatmeal or rice cereal, as it cooks up a lot faster and is less messy on busy school mornings. But it was his birthday so I obliged. I mixed together an egg, a cup of milk, a dash of salt, about a tablespoon of rice bran oil, and enough whole grain spelt flour to make it the right consistency. It occurred to me afterwards that I usually also add baking soda and some kind of sweetener to the batter, but he was happy with the taste and texture, and this was easier. I fried the pancakes in butter and served them with real maple syrup. There were enough pancakes left over for quick microwaving later in the week.
Dinner was planned out further in advance. He wanted 2 different kinds of pasta and 2 different kinds of sauces, and then Hannah requested that one of the pasta dishes be heavy on the vegetables, which Jack wouldn’t eat. I started out making the box of ziti. While it was cooking, I prepared the vegetable sauce. I peeled and shredded a few broccoli stalks, cut up mushrooms and onions very small, and used the vegetable peeler to make very thin slices of carrot. I sautéed all of that in the frying pan, then added water and tomato paste when the vegetables were fully cooked. I blended that with some ricotta cheese and about half the ziti. It was too large to fit in the casserole dish I’d intended to use, so I used a foil pan instead.
The other half of the ziti was mixed with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce- a very simple sauce consisting of tomato paste and water. He likes things simple. Both dishes of ziti got covered with mozzarella cheese and went into the oven. Then I started making the spaghetti. In my small pot I made a cheese sauce: milk, rice flour, and shredded cheddar cheese. Then I mixed the last little bit of tomato paste with hot water for the tomato sauce. We had enough food for 6-8 people, and only 3 of us were eating! The leftovers are being used for Jack’s school lunches.
The cheesecake got baked in the afternoon but was served last. I could have made a goat cheese cake, but I decided to go with the traditional cream cheese cake this time. I did substitute honey for the sugar called for in the recipe. We used real whipped cream for the frosting. I buy heavy cream in Trader Joe’s where I can get it from cows not given hormones and without any additives such as carrageenan. I whipped the cream with maple syrup and vanilla, and then added cocoa powder to a small portion of that. I put the chocolate whipped cream into a sandwich bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner, and then Hannah used it to make a pretty design on the cake.
Needless to say, I ate a number of avoids that night, and too many carbs. The same thing happened the next day when I ate leftovers. But I only ate the ziti with vegetables, and that’s finished now. The rest of the pasta I’m saving for Jack.
I was cleaning out the fridge this week and I noticed that we had a LOT of apples that had been hiding in the back for well over a month. A few days ago, somebody sliced one open to eat, only to realize it was mushy inside and no longer good for eating raw, although it wasn’t moldy or spoiled. That apple was put in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Two days ago, I took the time to peel ALL the apples in the fridge, including the ones that had previously been sliced. Those were harder to peel! I cut up the ones that weren’t pre-cut, removing the cores and seeds. Then I put all the apple chunks and slices into the crock pot and let it simmer on “high” for a few hours. I added a dash of salt and a few dashes of cinnamon. Cinnamon is an “avoid” for my B son, but he’s never reacted badly to it, and he likes the flavor.
Around bedtime, it looked done, but I was too tired to deal with it then. I didn’t realize the apples would cook so fast! I turned it to low to take care of in the morning. If I’d known they would have cooked so quickly, I would have put them on “low” to begin with. I’d also expected to use the hand blender before putting the apple sauce in jars, but it was so soft I simply had to stir it with a spoon, and it resembled the texture of commercial applesauce. It’s much darker in color though- but I’m not sure if that’s because I used old apples, because of the extended cooking time, or because of the cinnamon. It may have been a combination of all 3.
I made this yesterday but the kids have yet to try it. I’ll update you when the “taste test” results are in!
The Jewish holiday of Succos is coming up tomorrow night. Right on the heels of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it’s time to build the succah and get ready for Yom Tov again.
Succos, also called Succot, is sometimes translated as “The Holiday of Booths.” It’s a Biblical holiday where we live in temporary dwellings for the week, in memory of the tents the Israelites used in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. The roof needs to be made of 100% natural materials, such as bamboo or tree limbs, and can’t be completely water tight. There need to be holes in the “schach” that let us see the sky through it, or it’s not a kosher succah. I remember one year when friends built their first succah, using branches from deciduous trees for the schach. The leaves turned brown and fell off during the 7 day festival, and we kept getting leaves in our food!
Everybody eats in the succah, unless it's raining, and some people also sleep in the succah. The one year my daughters tried that, the sprinklers came on in the middle of the night and they got soaked! I’ve known families who build a small succah on the porch outside the master bedroom, and sleep in that, while entertaining guests in a larger succah on the patio outside the dining room.
We don’t have anything that fancy. Our succah has a metal frame, nylon canvas sides, and the roof is a bamboo mat specifically manufactured for this purpose. We can get it assembled in about an hour- two if you count the time it takes us to bring up the folding table and locate the folding chairs. We usually build it on our back lawn, right outside the back doors. Since my apartment is on the second floor, we have to carry all the food down a flight of stairs before we can eat in the succah. Plus the table that fits in the succah is smaller than the one in my kitchen, so there isn’t much space for a lot of dishes on the table.
This changes my meal planning somewhat. This isn’t a good time to roast a whole turkey, slice what we need, and save the leftovers for other meals. I used to only make “one meal dinners” in a foil pan for Succos. I’ve since discovered that it’s not all that hard to pile a small foil pan or two on top of a big one and carry both downstairs together. Plus, my kids are bigger now and it’s not too much to carry if we all take something. So now I’ll still make “meat and veggies” in one pan, but I don’t mind cooking the rice in a separate pan and roasting potatoes in a third- it all still fits well enough on the table and isn’t too hard to carry down.
The challenge is to find different ways to cook foil pans full of “meat and veggies” that doesn’t get repetitive or boring, and that’s still compliant for everybody- or at least “mostly compliant.” I’m OK with small “cheats” at holiday time. Feel free to post any recipe ideas in the “comments” section.
The CSA keeps on giving us new varieties of organic, locally grown produce every week. The farmers certainly don't know about the Blood Type Diet, nor that my type B son is away at camp!
We've been getting a bunch of cucumbers. My Mom took some, since she doesn't follow BTD. I gave some to my ex husband, since he's a B. But I got 4 rather large cucumbers this week. My mom still hasn't finished both of the cucumbers from last week, and my ex isn't seeing the girls this week because the girls are too busy with various activities.
I decided to make pickles, so the cucumbers will still be good to eat when Jack gets home from camp.
I spent quite a bit of time online searching for pickle recipes and techniques, and finally settled on one that called for salt, white vinegar, garlic, and dill. I substituted apple cider vinegar for the white vinegar called for in the recipe, and also put in some whole peppercorns. I already had fresh garlic in the house and I bought fresh dill for this purpose.
If I get more cucumbers next week, I think I'll try making bread and butter pickles. Those won't have the probiotics of lacto-fermented pickles, but I can make them with 100% compliant ingredients for a B and I know he'll enjoy them. I'm not sure just how many dill pickles Jack will want to eat. After that, Jack will be home and I may just serve cucumbers fresh- unless he asks me to make more pickles.
Leah came home from camp yesterday, and Jack left for camp this morning. I’d grown used to cooking for only 3 of us, and as of today there will be 3 of us again, but last night I made dinner for four.
Jack decided he wanted spaghetti- so I bought a package of brown rice spaghetti. We decided to only buy one package of pasta because we really don’t need to have pasta for again any time soon- with 3 Os in the house, all of whom need to lose weight, cutting back on carbs is wise.
I peeled and chopped a whole pound of carrots and boiled them, adding some frozen broccoli to the pot about 10 minutes before serving time. I knew that sautéed or roasted mushrooms and onions would have been a delicious addition to the meal, but I didn’t want to heat up the whole oven for one dish, and we didn’t have enough space on the stove. Leah made a cream sauce using butter, whole milk, rice flour, and spices. The girls aren’t really supposed to have milk, but they don’t react badly to it and they’re both healthy enough to be less compliant. I didn’t have any of the sauce.
We served the pasta, veggies, and sauce with grated parmesan cheese. I mixed in some canned tuna and butter in my portion instead of the cream sauce. I did enjoy the parmesan cheese since it’s a black dot; I can have it once in a while.
I felt satisfied after two portions, but Hannah wasn’t full by the time the food was finished. I couldn’t make more pasta because I hadn’t purchased any, and there wasn’t time to start cooking rice. I’m just not used to cooking for 4 people anymore! If I make this meal for 4 again, I’ll turn on the oven for a dish of rice and a dish (or two) of more vegetables cooked in oil, rather than just the boiled ones on the stovetop.
I made some pizza toast for Hannah after the main meal was over. Made with spelt bread, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, it’s perfectly compliant for an O secretor. We were all well fed in the end, but it wasn’t fun for her to be hungry after dinner or for me to cook after preparing what I thought was a whole meal.