Thursday, June 28, 2012

Simple Farm-to-table Tomato Sauce

This whole eat-healthy-or-bust adventure I've taken our family on has been fun so far. We have been swimming in a bountiful sea of beautiful, local fruits and veggies this summer thanks to our CSA share. But inevitably, winter will come and I will long for the taste of a homegrown tomato and the closest one will be in Florida. Or California. Or Mexico. So I am trying to stretch my cooking comforts by freezing and jarring for the coming winter months. I posted a picture on Instagram of the homegrown tomatoes I made into pasta sauce and lots of people asked for my recipe. So here it is. I suggest at least doubling or tripling this recipe to make a batch large enough to freeze some. Just fill your oven with fresh tomatoes!
This week's haul from our CSA share
 A vision of organic fabulousness!!

6-8 large tomatoes, quartered 
2 green onions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh whole basil leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

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1. Preheat oven to 350º . In a glass casserole dish spread tomatoes, onions and garlic in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
2. Roast tomatoes at 350º for 1 hour, stirring ocassionaly. 
3. Add whole basil leaves and roast for an additional 45 minutes- 1 hour. (Tomatoes should be very soft and you should still have some juice in the dish.)
4. Remove from oven and add mixture to a blender or food processor. Process minimally to retain some texture to your sauce. Let mixture cool and add to gallon-size freezer bags. Label with date and lay flat on a plate to freeze. Once frozen you can stand up in the freezer and store with other sauces. 
5. To thaw put bag in the fridge (on a plate or dish in case the bag ripped at any point!) for 24 hours then heat in a sauce pan. 

This is a basic sauce. I like to add more veggies and meat. The other day I sauteed italian sausage with peppers, onions and diced eggplant then added my sauce. I also like to finish with some fresh basil, because I have a slight basil addiction which I haven't sought help for yet. It was a very hearty sauce and great over any pasta. Experiment and make it your own!

This was served over some delicious Rio Bertolini mushroom stuffed ravioli

Monday, June 25, 2012

Did you know that?

As I explained in my last post, after my recent autoimmune flare-up I knew that I could no longer continue to gloss over my disease to my daughter. She saw her mommy in pain, in tears, and her world wasn't as stable as I usually try to make it. Let me give you a little backstory on previous times this little angel has seen me in tears.

Last winter my grandmother had been having some health problems. I just got off a phone call with her finding out she may need to have some risky open heart surgery. I was upset so I retreated to my bathroom and started crying. Lily, age 3 then, was in the other room playing, but she heard me. She always hears me. I realize that now. She came into the room with her little play princess cell phone and handed it to me and said, "Mommy, call God, he'll answer you." You see we had recently started memorizing scripture with Truthcards and the previous week our verse was Psalm 120:1, "I call on the Lord in my distress and he answers me." So naturally, as I stared at that little princess play phone and I looked up at Lily with her eyes so full of hope and knowing that she had the answer for me... I cried even harder, but then I laughed and hugged her and told her how very, very right she was. And we sat on that bathroom floor together and prayed for my grandmother. She ended up needing a more minor surgery and is doing well.

Several months later, right after Lily tuned 4, I was packing the kids in the car to head to a meeting at church. I was startled to see a dead baby deer on my neighbors front lawn. It had apparently gotten stuck in my neighbor's fence in his backyard and died, but he brought it up front when doing yardwork to bag it up. Great. Thanks for that. And when I saw it I screamed out loud so I brought my kids attetion straight where I didn't want it to be. Nice job, Mommy. Then as we pull out of the driveway, Lily asks me why that man was putting the sleeping baby deer in a trash bag. Was he trash? I felt an urge to make up a story about how deer take naps in trash bags instead of beds, but thankfully that's not what came out of my mouth. I explained that he was dead. We had never known anyone who was dead before and she was too young to remember our cat who died when she was 2, so it was hard to explain what dead meant. I found us having a very sweet conversation about heaven.
"Who goes to heaven, Mommy? Will I go to heaven?"
"Yes, but not for a long time."
"Because I have Jesus in my heart? Will Jesus come with me in my heart to heaven?"
"Jesus will always be with you. No matter where you go."
"Mommy, let's pray about it right now."

So in that 5 minute ride to church my 4 year old was praying for Jesus to come into her heart so he could be with her in heaven. Not quite where or how I had planned on discussing salvation, but there was a reason for that dead baby deer that morning...
3 days later my grandfather suddenly passed away. We found out about it at night, but the next morning I came downstairs before anyone was awake to call my dad and see how he was doing. After I got off the phone the realization that Gramps was really gone hit me hard and I cried. I was crying so hard I didn't hear the pitter patter of little feet come down the stairs. Lily. She had heard me. Of course.

"Mommy, what's wrong? Why do you have water coming out of your eyes?"
"Sweetie, Gramps died last night and I'm sad about it because I'll miss him very much."
"But mommy, why are you sad? That means he's in heaven with Jesus."
More tears, more hugging, more blown away by this little angel.
"Yes, sweetie, he is. You're right."

Gramps and Lily picking beans from his garden
Sometimes I'm not ready to have these conversations with my daughter. I'm sure the time will come when I have to experience all these things with my son as well ina different way. But I've learned that its not my timing. It's God's timing. 
So after my flare up I felt a Holy Spirit nudge that I needed to explain to my almost 5 year old what's wrong with Mommy. So my mother watched my son that day as I picked Lily up from vacation bible school and took her out to lunch. After we had ordered, I explained to her that mommy is okay. I said that I have a disease, a sickness that sometimes makes my body hurt even though you can't see a boo boo. I explained that it was just the way God made me. And I said that the disease will probably never go away, but it can be controlled by medicine. She almost cut me off mid-sentence when the word 'control' came out of my mouth. 
"No, no mommy. God is in in control. Did you know that?"
The eagerness behind her words showed that this was something that she has just learned and she couldn't wait to share it with me. Naturally, I started crying. I said, "You're right sweetie. Sometimes Mommy forgets." 

Thank God for this little angel in my life who can keep Mommy in check. I get goose bumps every time I think of these conversations. The Lord has given her such amazing spiritual gifts and I am so excited to see how she uses them in the years to come. 

The past two weeks when I have gotten bummed about my disease I hear those words. 
"God is in control. Did you know that?"
It's a reminder we all need sometimes. And you never know what messenger God is going to use. So be on the look out. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trying to gain control...

I've opened up before about the health issues I've been dealing with going on 5 years now. I've also shared about some things we are doing to change our eating habits to hopefully change the course of our health. So I wanted to share with you the journey I am now taking.

Several weeks ago I visited my doctor's office to discuss tapering off my meds. It just doesn't sit well with me that I am angst ridden over the origin of every piece of food that crosses my lips, but then I inject myself with a medication each week that actually weakens my immune system. Intentionally. I want to gain some control of this disease. That shouldn't be so hard, right? 

So my doctor gave me his blessing to start on this path. And he actually prayed with me about it. My doctor is awesome like that. We both believe in the Great Healer. We decided I would try to go 2 weeks in between shots and the 3, etc. until I figured out the lowest dose I could comfortably take. 

I was so gung-ho about it! The day I should have taken my medicine came and went without the least bit of pain or inflammation. And then I went on to day 8 and day 9. On day 10 I felt tired, but nothing more so I laid down to rest during naptime. I felt a strange cramp in my foot as I rested, but thought little of it. And then I got up to get the kids up from nap. And I couldn't walk. I couldn't put any weight on my foot without seering pain coursing throughout my body. I had to crawl to my kids rooms to get them up and then crawl down the stairs on my bottom like a 2 year old. Next to my 2 year old who was thinking we were playing a game. Then I put ice on it as my kids watched a movie while we waited for Daddy to get home. 

The pain got worse and worse until I was crying from the pain. They were tears born not only from the pain I was experiencing then, but the pain I had experienced almost 5 years earlier. Tears born out of pain, frustration, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger. Very familiar tears. 

But this time my tears didn't fall on the face of a newborn baby who was blissfully ignorant to her mother's situation. This time they were witnessed by children who were fully aware that something was indeed wrong with Mommy. I tried to explain that my foot had a boo boo, but you just can't see it. My son told me to get a Band Aid. So sweet. But there was fear in my daughter's eyes. Real fear. And I felt horrible. But it only fueled my tears. 

I crawled to the refrigerator, then to my bathroom and gave myself my shot. Once my husband got home, he fed the kids and put them to bed. Then I called a neighbor who is a great friend who came over to hang with my sleeping kids while my husband took me to the ER. 

We waited for 2 hours, but the girl with the autoimmune flare up understandably took the back seat to the real life-threatening emergencies that came in, so I kept getting put to the end of the line. As we waited my foot slowly started to feel better as the shot started to work it's magic of destroying my white blood cells. So I decided to go home. My husband wheeled me out and I told the triage nurse we were leaving. 

The next couple of days my foot continued to improve and I felt confirmation that my body is in fact not ready to come off my medication that quickly. I need to take slower steps and this week I went 7 days and 12 hours between doses. Maybe next week I can do 8. We'll see. 

But the real story here is that the next day I was faced with telling my almost 5 year old that mommy has a disease. 

Please join me in my next post as I discuss how that conversation went down. You won't want to miss it! It reminded me who is really in control in this situation...

Here's the next post!