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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Bearful Bear and his new Moves" Teaser Trailer and Giveaway!

I awoke this morning to an email from my BQB marketing manager, the fantabulous Julie Breedlove, with an adorable teaser trailer for my children's book, "Bearful Bear and his new Moves!"  I couldn't wait to share it with you, and I would love for you to share it with your friends!!  I also thought this would be a great opportunity to offer a GIVEAWAY!!!  If you watch the teaser trailer on YouTube and then share it with your Facebook friends or via email, let me know in the comments section, and I will enter you in a drawing for a FREE, Autographed copy of "Bearful Bear and his new Moves"!  PLEASE leave me an email or Facebook name so that I can contact the winner, if you are not already "friends" with me on Facebook. 

I am sure you have a youngster in your life who would benefit from this children's book, which incorporates movement with language development using lovable animal characters!  Let me know what you think!

Bearful Teaser Trailer

Happy Giveaway day!!
Anna

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Southeast Taco's

It's "Real Food Recipe Tuesday", peeps!  And last night, I made one to remember!  Making homemade tortillas has been on my to-do list for months, and I finally got around to making them.  You don't have to feed your family GMO tortillas!  You can even soak (sprout) them for the all around, perfect tortilla.  And on top, we're straying from our well-known southwest tacos and Mexican Taqueria tacos, and instead, marrying the flavors of the southeast with Taqueria comfort.  The result?  A match made in heaven, shall we say? 

For toppings, get creative!  I used Georgia trout that I caught with my family on Father's day, vidalia onion and tomato salsa (from Sun Harvest, my families favorite citrus stop in Ft. Myers, FL), jalapeno cream I made with my homemade yogurt, and Guacamole made from yummy Florida Avocados!  Here's today's recipe in full:

Tortillas 
*This recipe is NOT my own recipe.  I got it from Bon Appetit mag.  It is a very simple dough, and for full instructions, click here.  A few notes for you grain soakers...to soak this recipe, I would add 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to the dough along with the water and let soak overnight.  Otherwise, you can follow all other instructions! 

Tortillas:
2 cups fresh corn meal
1 cup water (replace 1 tbsp. ACV if soaking)
1/2 tsp. salt
The consistency should resemble play dough.  Roll into balls about 1-1.2 inch in diameter.  You want the tortillas small so they are easy to handle.  Some people have a tortilla press, but I don't, so I used my bacon press, and it worked great!  Place one ball of dough between two layers of lightly oiled plastic wrap. (I cut 2 sides of a sandwich bag so three sides were open), like this:

press the ball between the plastic until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Remove carefully from the plastic wrap and set directly in an oiled fry pan set over medium high heat. I had a few "fall apart", but just quickly pushed it back together on the pan with my spatula.  Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, and 1 minute on the second side.  The Bon Appetit recipe had a different time listed, but that didn't seem to be enough time for mine...you will just have to play with it the first tortilla or two.  Keep the tortillas warm in a dry kitchen towel while you work. 

Toppings

1 Whole Trout, about 1.5 lbs. (or 2 fillets if you would like to avoid skin and bones)
Cajun spices
1 avocado
1 lime
1 small jalapeno
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 jar of vidalia onion salsa (or your favorite salsa)
salt and pepper

First make the fish.  Sprinkle the inside of the whole fish with Cajun spices, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium low in a greased, covered pot (I used my fabulous Creuset), for 20-25 minutes, until flaky. 

Meanwhile, prepare a simple guacamole using your avocado, lime, salt and pepper.  Mash up with a fork, and set on a plate along with the salsa.  To make your jalapeno cream, mix diced jalapenos (take care to avoid touching the seeds while chopping, wearing gloves or chopping in a food chopper.).  Combine jalapenos with 3/4 cup yogurt or sour cream, and a dash of salt.  Set this along with your other toppings.  You can create a very simple taco bar with these 4 delicious toppings. 

Once your fish is cooked, remove fish from skin and bones, and lightly shred or cut into larger pieces if you wish. 

Assemble your tacos with fish, then guacamole and jalapeno cream, and finally the beautiful red salsa.  Eat slowly, savoring the fine combinations of summer at it's best!
From my real food home to yours,
Anna

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Simple Things, Like a Poem

What better way to pause and "smell the roses" during the day than to read a poem?  A poem, cramming 100 years in few words forces us to slow down and take it in, thought by thought, word by word. 
I was browsing through my documents, and found a document titled, "Poem Battle".  I thought to myself...."what is this?"  So of course, my curiosity made me open it to remember this moment.  It was none other than an old IM conversation with a very old friend, where we wrote poems about "simple Things."  I thought I would share it with you to inspire some simple matters that will hopefully help you pause for a moment. 

beanapie8 wrote:

life has such complexities
which lack and burn
and which brightness dies
and choosing this, I hope in turn
the truth reveals
to live, to rely
on simple things
that much is truth
and complexities
burn forsooth

NPoser1123 wrote: Simple Things

Pain is a simple thing we enjoy
Just for being simple;
An easily digestible
Elephant in our daily meals.
We wake up hurt and yawning sorely
Have our shower to rinse
The wince on our morning face.
And brush our teeth of hope.
We've done naught, but seemingly
Abound in our unknowing
Because little simple things
Are so inscrutable found!
So because they're all simple things
We all live unheeding of
Their tiny, daily damage
That lacks and burns in our "small" lives.
O, Give me honest complexity
In my search for truth and joy!
Give me deep, hard mystery
Impossible puzzles to solve.
Give me full-bodied, unedited
Challenging lives of people;
Their contradictions laid bare
And yet completely nonplusing.
If in simple things we had relied
We would exist only as
Simpletons to each other;
Would the brightness not truly die?

Hope you enjoyed your moment,
Anna

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Budget Back on Track

Sticking to a budget down to the penney is difficult.  I am not detail oriented, but relate more to the big picture, and round numbers!  I have a friend who knows (down to the penney!) what they spend in every single area of their finances, and I am inspired.  And tired.  I do, however, know what my budget is for groceries, and have recently gotten a little grocery happy, to be honest.  I mean, that bottle of wine and chevre looked perfect for a summer evening (ok, and it was worth it.)  BUT, now it's time to tighten the belt once more.  And I have a few new budgeting tactics I'd love to share. 

First Order of Business:
For everything that I can't get locally/weekly, I am going to shop for once a month instead of once week.  We've had this discussion before: how easy it is to spend way more on BOGO's and other great deals (that, um, you actually didn't need) but felt like it was too good of a deal to pass up.  I love a great deal, too, but every time I go to the grocery store, I get things that are great to have, but not on my list. I am hoping that it will be easier to save money if I can go once a month, really plan and cut coupons, and not to mention, save on time and gas during the rest of the month!

Second Order of business: A sub category to the grocery shopping is to go ALONE.  SANS CHILDREN.  One, it is very difficult to concentrate, add up my bill as I go, take my time, etc. when two children keep getting out of the cart to grab shiny objects!!  After all, the grocery store (flying solo!) is a mini vacay!  Thanks for watching the kids, honey!

Third Order of Business:  After stewing over our budget, there was nothing obvious to cut besides groceries, but then it dawned on me.  I budget a certain amount for gas because that is how much I use.  Well, that is me letting my life dictate my budget instead of my INCOME determining my budget.  BIG MISTAKE.  I quickly decided that I have to give myself a gas budget within my means, and once it's gone, it's gone.  Hence, why cutting my grocery trips down is a great way to also help with strategy number three.  I am planning on getting $50 worth of gas at a time as well instead of filling up all the way, so it makes budgeting that much simpler and easier to track. 

I hope these three budgeting tips help you and your family save a few bucks going into the new school year!  I am REALLY excited to take even more control of my finances while my family works towards financial freedom!

Love,
Anna

Monday, July 9, 2012

What are you for?

News flash: our country is in a heated debate over certain bills and ideologies.  I can't even open Facebook without political whiplash these days!  But, even in (somewhat) non-political topics, like real food, or religion, I'm noticing a heck of a lot more information on what people despise than what people are for.  If I read one more "look what Monsanto's up to now," or," look at this ugly photograph of Obama frowning along with some witty-rude comment about our president" Facebook update, I think I am going to throw up in my mouth!  And I don't need to add a photo to this blog, because I know YOU know exactly what I'm talking about. 

I'm ready to hear what you are for.  I get educating on the "bad" topics, sure, but I'm ready to hear what you stand for without bashing the other 50% of the population!  You aren't going to win converts to your agenda by criticizing the uneducated or those who hold a different world view.

I want to hear what Christians believe- like, if your view is that the church should rise up and tithe to help unburden the government's responsibility, then why don't you encourage your brothers and sisters to tithe, and lead by that example?  If you feel so inclined to share your political views on Facebook, than why not use it to rally and rise up instead of rile up and knock down? 

Let's not give in to the political swindle of deception and suggestion, and rally up for a change with real ideas, real ideals, and comments that share that sentiment!  How would the political climate of our great country change for the better if we actually listened and shared instead of battled with facetious arguments? 

I dream of a world.....
Anna

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strawberry Strata

Tuesday's Real Food Recipe for this week?  Um.  Strawberry Strata.  I was making some strawberry jam today (forget canning for the year...I just buy organic fresh or frozen fruit and simmer it down as needed!) and was dreaming of this chicken sausage and cheddar strata I had made the other day.  I kept thinking about the fabulous texture of the custard, and thought that making a sweet version would quite possibly convert me from traditional french toast. 

As I stared at the beautiful strawberries simmering, I decided to go for it.  What rose from the oven was something quite spectacular that could have improved if only I would have given it a torched sugared topping (think creme brulee).  A great reason to have to make it again!  The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity.  Use high quality ingredients, like local cream and eggs, organic items, etc.  This isn't fancy food- it's comfort at its best, and using good quality ingredients delivers!  Here is the recipe, which would serve as a delicious spring dessert, or a fabulous brunch option along with something savory. 

Strawberry Strata







Ingredients:
1 9x13 pan, buttered
1 1/2-2 cups organic strawberries
1/2 cup sugar (preferably raw cane sugar)
4 eggs, preferably pastured
1/2 cup half n half or heavy cream (preferably local, not homogenized)
6 slices soft bread (either homemade or good quality soft bread from the store), crusts removed
Ceylon cinnamon (find at Penzey's Spices), which pairs wonderfully with fruit- much milder and more citrus in flavor than other cinnamon
1 TBSP lemon or orange juice
zest of lemon or orange
extra sugar for sprinkling

Hull and halve the strawberries and place in a bowl.  Add 1 TBSP lemon fresh lemon juice and zest of the lemon (orange can also be used) and 1/2 cup sugar.  Let macerate (sit) for 45 minutes.  If you are in a hurry, you can use prepared jam, or warm up the strawberries over the stove.

Meanwhile, remove the crusts and place on the bottom of your prepared pan. 

When strawberries are ready, put strawberry mixture in a large measuring cup.  Add half n half (or cream) to fill up to 2 1/2 cups.  Add the 4 eggs and whisk the mixture together until combined, slightly breaking up the strawberries while you mix (if you heated your strawberries, make sure strawberries are not hot when you add the eggs or you'll get scrambled!).  Pour strawberries custard over the bread and let sit for 15 minutes so the bread absorbs the mixture thoroughly.  Sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon and sugar on the top, and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the strata is set in the middle.  Do not over bake.  Let the strata cool for about 15-20 minutes, cut and serve. 

*note, if you are making this and not using fresh, in season strawberries you may want to consider adding a little extra sugar.