Mom at home scientist

Ecology of my motherhood; analyzed, frugal, and (mostly) natural.


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Gluten-free, Grain-free Tapioca Cheese Bread; My Favorite Bread

Grain-free deliciousness

Grain-free deliciousness

I love the windows and doors to other recipes available to me in Spanish. Last year I stumbled upon this gem here while on laylita.com, a blog on Ecuadorian recipes. Although I had studied abroad in Ecuador, I never had the pleasure of eating this bread until I made it. It is originally called Pan de Yuca, which means Yucca Bread. We, here in the US, call yucca by the name of tapioca.

Pan de Yucca before baking

Pan de Yucca before baking

I particularly LOVE this bread for Oh so many reasons!
1)It is FAST
2) It is cheesy!
3) It is versatile!
4) It is grain-free
5) It is high in protein(for a bread) and healthy fats

IMG_6509

So I thought I would translate the recipe for you with healthier (the original is healthy, but some ingredients can be improved) ingredient suggestions!
This is great for gluten-free people too, as long as you shred your own cheese.

Tapioca (Cheese) Bread
20-25 rolls

2 1/2 Cups Tapioca Flour/Starch
4 Cups(1 Lb.) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder (aluminum-free)
Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt (not bleached)
4 oz (1/2 cup) room temperature butter(from grass-fed cows)
2 eggs (pastured and fertilized)
If necessary, 1-2 Tablespoons of filtered water, if the dough is too dry to work into balls.

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 500 F (that is not a typo!). In a food processor, combine flour, cheese, baking powder and salt & mix well. Add the butter, and eggs then mix until the dough forms small balls… or until it looks like it has mixed really well. This is where you would add the extra water if the dough seemed too dry.
Remove the dough from the processor and make golf-ball sized dough balls. Place on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. I usually only cook half of the recipe and save the rest in the fridge until another day. You can do this mixing all by hand in a bowl… just use your hands and all of the ingredients at once.
Bake for about 5-7 minutes at 500 F, then turn to broil setting and brown your rolls for about 3-5 minutes.

Grain-free deliciousness

Grain-free deliciousness

Then serve while warm, that is, if you don’t eat them all first! These go great with any soup, just as a side, and your kids will love them… to the point you feel like hiding them from the tots.

You can also adapte this recipe by substuting half of the mozzarella with sharp cheddar, as a reader posted in the comments, or jalapeno jack, if you want to add some kick!

Grain-free Tapioca cheese bread.

Grain-free Tapioca cheese bread.

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Eviction Notice Served- To The Ants

It really must be spring, as the ants had returned this week. This time the ante was upped; from small sugar ants to large carpenter ants. Ugh!!! They were everywhere… my kitchen, living room, dining room, climbing on me while I was nursing my daughter. Last year, I tried putting down a chalk border line as my mother in-law had heard that they wouldn’t cross it. Numbers may have dropped but it didn’t STOP them. I can’t get chalk everywhere anyways. So I was checking Facebook early Sunday morning before church and came across a blog entry by the Thrifty Couple regarding ants.. so I combined several of these ideas in a spray bottle and misted the entrances to my house before walking out the door. I am pleased to say that I have not seen any additional intruders since then.

Ant Eviction Spray

2 C. White distilled vinegar
3 small bay leaves
5 drops cinnamon essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil

Throw these all in a spray bottle, remember to label your bottle, and have fun with the eviction. Bonus, the house smells a lot better too!


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Dear Friend Without Children

In conversation, a friend of mine who has no children, and who has moved far away, said, “What I find is that a lot of girls I’d want to be friends with have kids and so they think that I wouldn’t want to hang out. For me, it’s a great time. I love kids and I’d rather hang out with a girl I like who has kids than someone who doesn’t have kids just because it’s easier.”

I loved hearing that from her. I also might write someone off initially due to us not being in the same life stage. Here is my answer…

I think it can be pretty hard for moms to know what topics they can connect to single people on… when 90+% of their daily conversation is with blabbering babies and 99% of their experiences include children. I’d love to talk about my work, and experiences from my BC(Before Children) days but instead feel like I’m trying to relive the glory days and have nothing current to discuss (that doesn’t somehow tie back to children)… and even if I did have some non-child related topic to discuss… it is hard to focus on any conversation when the tide of mommy-thoughts come back in, swirling about in foamy splashes… and the words that come out look & feel like fridge poetry. Even if the other person enjoys it, (and the mom too if she could quell the uneasy feeling that social anxiety is) it is hard for the mom to see and recognize that the interaction is legitimately sincere and appreciated.

You know how you, dear married without children friend, would just hang out with me while I ran errands back in the day? That would be WONDERFUL to have available now that I have children… I bet that the moms you would like to be friends with would see your offers of friendship as something sincere if you offered to help them cook dinner, or stay in the car with the kids while they run into a store or office… something that relieves the burden of stress weighing on their minds. And then, perhaps the fog that is your brain on motherhood would clear enough to see you as the person in front of them… but definitely follow through. I would much rather people pretend I have everything together and leave me alone than pretend to care, offer to help or visit and then never pursue the offering beyond lip value.

 

My friend responded;

“I hear what you’re saying. I think it is weird because your priorities can be so different when single, married with kids, and married without kids. My friend ‘Suzy’ is single and she always wants to go to concerts and sees my husband as a reminder of her singleness and also that I’m “less fun” if he’s around. As much as I want to be closer to her, it’s hard because she doesn’t understand that when you are married, you don’t just hang out with your spouse whenever.

I actually have offered to help do stuff with my mommy friends like you mentioned, but it’s usually not believed. There is one girl, though, who seems open to it. It’s funny because she’s younger than I am and has 3 kids. I think she sees my life as so charmed and hers as so nuts…and here I am wishing I could conceive. Go figure. I am definitely going to take her up on hanging out soon, though.”

 

Again, I totally understand… I had a difficult time processing the changes in priorities as my sisters would get married and have children. I, on the other hand, was globe-trotting and salsa dancing every weekend.

I loved hanging out with my friends but had an awkward transition from single, to dating, to married. Who then do we hang out with? I love my husband and I love my friends. I’d love for them to love each other. Then we added children into the mix. Finding one friend you really connect to is difficult enough. Finding a friend with a significant other who also makes a good friend for your spouse is harder. And then one with kids that also get along with your own? In a similar age bracket? No wonder people slowly pull away from relationships outside of their family! At a certain point, it is hard to believe that anyone else is truly interested in befriending not only you… but all 3,4,5… of you in your family. It is hard not to think that you would overwhelm and scare them away.

I encourage you, keep offering your friendship! Hang out with her children and let her clean something that is driving her insane, for weeks on end, making sure to insist that she doesn’t need to serve you as a visitor and give you her undivided attention. Sit in the car with the kiddos so she can run in and buy that make-up she needs/wants. Go to the doctor or dentist with her and help her manage the kids not being seen. Your friendship will instead be forged in peace and much thankfulness instead of being viewed as a cultural ritual offering of friendship. Maybe then, as Anne of Avonlea would say, you will find a kindred spirit, and a bosom buddy.


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From Pear Vinegar to Kombucha

My experiment this week was to use the mother (aka mushroom or scoby) from my pear vinegar I have curing to make kombucha. Kombucha is supposed to be a super healthy Russian fermented tea. I don’t know what kombucha usually tastes like, so my comparison there is mute. But, I can say it tastes like a weak fruit soda pop with a hint of tea and is delicious. I only let it ferment about 5 days, until the new baby was forming across the top, but YUM! I didn’t feel like spending money for a kombucha mother when I don’t even know if I would like it.


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Testing the Waters of Reader Interest

So I created a fabulously long poll on many different ideas that I want to write about, but I couldn’t get WordPress to work with me on this one… yet. I thought at first that I would present to you a simple four subject choices to go further in depth with. But, I am now on letter “U” of options… and each one of those choices really represent many different subtopics. The easiest ways to summarize those topics would be, A. Homesteading, health and sustainability topics, B. Environmental toxicity, and food contaminants and empowering you to make knowledgeable choices emphasizing your values, C. Analysis of scientific studies and ways of interpreting data and study conclusions as well as clarifying intent, D. Recipes for avoiding certain allergens(food) or chemicals(hygiene products) E. My undergraduate thesis.

Please respond to these broader choices instead under the comments. Thank-you!!


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Teething…

I’d like to post something a bit more in-depth but it is a teething and tylenol night and now 1am. It is probably 1 degree out now as well… I still need to pump and take a shower before I get to bed. I did try to post a beautiful tropical Galapagos beach picture to remind me that sanity still exists somewhere warm, but wordpress was not being cooperative. I will try again tomorrow.


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Cloth Diapering Series, Part 2- The Economically Friendly Choice

To continue my previous post on economic based choices in cloth diapering, I will cover several of the diapering paraphernalia choices that will reduce your costs for cloth diapering. These factors are fabric content, willingness to repurpose items, washing situation, detergents required, water quality, and diapering paraphernalia.
Also, assuming you wash and dry your diapers by machine every time, I found a nice rundown of costs associated with different styles of diapering systems at http://www.diaperdecisions.com/pages/cost_of_cloth_diapers.php for you to look at for comparison.
In order to keep costs as low as possible, you should stick to the bare bones. These of course include the diapers and covers but you will need wipes, a method for cleaning, a detergent, a storage solution and a drying method.
For wipes, you can always purchase specially made cloth diaper wipes, or even the disposable kind from the store. I suggest though, if you are pinching pennys, to find an alternative. I have in my wipes pile, baby wash cloths, cut up old tee-shirts, and repurposed double layered flannel wipes I made from swaddling blankets. You can use flannel shirts or bed sheets, but if you go to yard sales, you can usually find swaddling blankets for 25 cents each or even free if they are stained. I like to cut them up into a usable size and sew two pieces together, since flannel frays so easily.
Related to wipes is wipe solution. Most cloth diaper brands sell a solution for their wipes, but all you really need is water. I do prefer to make a diluted mixture with coconut oil, baby soap and some essential oils or grapefruit seed extract, but it is not necessary and I still rarely do it.
Detergent can also be expensive, particularly if you purchase special brands formulated for your specific diaper. If you choose non-natural fibers for your cloth diapers, then you will need to be very careful about the detergent you use and be aware that you may have to change brands several times and strip your diapers regularly until you find an ideal one. Stripping diapers is a time intensive and possibly costly chore that needs done if your diapers start to stink no matter how much you wash them, if you have ammonia problems, or if they cease to absorb liquids. To keep costs as low as possible, stick to natural fibers and you will have a greater choice of detergents, as you won’t need to buy a special brand. I have made my own homemade laundry detergent, using several different recipes. This is the cheapest option and is fairly simple to make.
Of course, in conjunction to detergents is the process of washing your diapers. Almost everyone uses a modern machine; either top-loader or front-loader, but there is a cheaper option if you have the time and energy. You can… hand wash. Yes, I did just say that. My washer went out for over a week this year and I resorted to hand washing. All you need is your soap, water, a washboard or similar surface and two hands. I do recommend having an agitator though, which you will find using a toilet bowl plunger works just fine. This works best and easiest with flatfolds, and prefolds.
Now that your diapers are clean, they need to dry. Air drying is free and all else costs something. A flatfold will dry quickly even if you had to hand wring them after hand washing, and quicker yet if they went through a spin cycle. They won’t need long in the dryer either if you choose that route.
You also need to consider your storage options for dirty diapers until they are washed. Personally, I use old laundry detergent pails, with a liner in it. I like the Kissaluvs pail liner but you could probably use an old pillowcase cover. That said, some people throw their diapers directly into the washer to wait until they have enough dirty to run a load.
One last item you most likely will want is a wet bag for when you leave the house. You could just use a plastic bag though if you don’t get out much.
If you are still finding cloth diapering, although cheaper than disposables, a bit expensive, consider incorporating elimination communication (EC). A great book on the subject is ‘Diaper Free Baby’ by Christine Gross Loh and you can check out the website diaperfreebaby.org in the meantime. I will probably share more on this subject at a later date although I only practice part-time EC.