Friday, December 26, 2008

Maybe I'm addicted to canvas shopping bags. Project Al Gore - Week 4

I finished my Christmas shopping on Tuesday December 23rd. Yeah! Go me! Before I was finished, I bought another reusable shopping bag. This one was from JC Penney's.

I had brought my own bag into the store with the plan to use it, but these were at the check out stand and I decided I really liked it and wanted to add it to my collection of non-grocery reusable bags. The funny thing when I bought this bag is that the store clerk asked me if I wanted my clothing items in the bag. My reply - WHAT??? Isn't that the purpose of the bag? She said you would be surprised at how many people purchase the bag but don't want their items in it. Maybe I'm missing something but that seems just a little silly.

I saved an additional 17 bags this past week.
Total count thus far . . . 86!

Christmas Morning Muffins - the Good and the Ugly

By the time Christmas day ends, I have definitely consumed too much chocolate, chips & dips, white breads, and meat. For the past couple of years, I have tried to have something simple and healthy for my family to eat for breakfast before we head out to grandma and grandpa's house. This year I thought we would have some whole grain muffins and fruit & dip. So here is the ugly muffins . . . .
This is a whole grain almond poppy seed muffin. It tasted pretty good but the center sunk. When something doesn't look good, people assume it doesn't taste good either. It was the first time I tried to adapt this recipe to 100% whole grain and will need to try again. And now here is the good . . . .

These chocolate muffins were not only pretty to look at, but I thought they were quite delicious.

Chocolate Malted Muffins
1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup hard white wheat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Then combine wet and dry ingredients and stir in chocolate chips. Scoop batter into muffin cups and bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My daughter bought a reusable cloth bag! Project Al Gore - Week 3

First, my daughter purchased a reusable cloth bag from Wal-mart. I am so thrilled that she cares what Al Gore thinks of her!
Second, I have done too much shopping this week.
Third, I have saved a total of 16 bags this week. And that is with no grocery shopping.
Fourth, I was excited to take my cute Barnes & Noble bag to the mall on Monday.
Fifth, two of the mall clerks thought I was weird for not needing a bag. Who really needs a bag any way?
And lastly, my total contribution so far . . . . . . . drum roll . . . . . . 69 bags saved.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Week 2 - Project Al Gore

When shopping this week at Barnes & Noble, they had this reusable shopping bag for $1.49. It is much nicer looking than all of my other bags. I decided to purchase it for mall shopping. I believe they claimed that it could hold up to 50 pounds. I wonder if I put two 25 pound bags of sugar in it and carried it around how long the bag would really last. My back would probably give out before the bag however. Total plastic bags saved this week - 31. In addition to the usual shopping places like Harmon's & Wal-mart, I also used my bags at Claire's, Fanzz, and American Eagle. I have already surpassed my goal of 50. My total count since December 1 is 53 plastic shopping bags saved. Go me!

Better than Bisquick Coffee Cake!

Growing up, I loved it when my mom made a Bisquick coffee cake. I loved the cinnamon smell as it baked. It was the best breakfast ever. Now that I am a mom and want my children to eat healthy, Bisquick is not in my cupboard. It is just processed enriched white flour and probably a lot of necessary preservatives to give it a long shelf life. I was given this recipe by a friend, and it called for white flour and shortening. I have changed it through the years to make it healthy. It is a Sunday morning tradition to make this in our home for breakfast. Yummy!
Breakfast Cake
3 cups hard white wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Combine eggs & milk. Add it to flour mixture and stir til dampened. Spread in a greased 9X13 pan. Mix topping and place on top of cake.
1/2 cup hard white wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
6 T butter
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Al Gore Project Update!

So this week I have done a lot of Christmas shopping. I have used my bags at a variety of stores - Old Navy, Hobby Lobby, Robert's, Wal-mart, and Smith's Marketplace. I figured that I have saved a total of 22 plastic shopping bags this week. I can see Al Gore smiling at me right now. I have to confess that when I went to Kohl's, I had only taken 2 bags into the store with me, and I ended up buying so much merchandise that I knew it would not all fit into my 2 bags. I decided to have my merchandise all put into a large plastic bag from their store that I will then use at my home for Deseret Industries items. I have had mixed reviews about my bags thus far. The clerk at Old Navy wished that more people would use reusable bags. She said that her sister had bought some but has never used them. At Smith's marketplace, I had to keep reminding the cashier to use the cloth bags I brought. Three times she put my merchandise in the plastic bags. I know that I am asking them to do something out of the norm so I wasn't annoyed. But speaking of annoyed, the customer behind me at Smith's was irritated that my check out was taking so long because of the cloth bags. So Al Gore my contribution this week to the environment is that I used 22 less bags. Only 28 to go to reach my goal. I vote when I have reached it my Christmas shopping is done.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cornbread and honey butter

The first time someone told me that I could put popcorn in my wheat grinder and make fresh cornmeal, I was afraid to try it because I thought I would break my wheat grinder. I love cornbread, and so eventually I decided to see if the experts were right. I am happy to report that I have ground fresh cornmeal for many years. Cornbread with freshly ground cornmeal tastes so much better than store bought. I have tweeked the following recipe to include freshly ground hard white wheat flour. I think this bread is delicious served warm with honey butter.


1 1/2 cups hard white wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
Combine dry ingredients.
Combine wet ingredients and then stir together.
Place in a greased 8x8 pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Project Al Gore

Yesterday, I started Project Al Gore. It’s not that I am a huge fan of Al Gore or wish he would have been our 43rd president. He does seem like a nice enough man, and I believe he has some valid points about our responsibility in taking care of the environment. I must confess, however, that I have never seen his Oscar winning movie “An Inconvenient Truth” despite Oprah’s recommendation. If you asked me how I felt about global warming, the jury is still out for me. But, I do believe we should all do our part to conserve energy, recycle more, and just do whatever little thing we can to take care of our planet. Whenever I do my part to be “green”, I will say, “I wish Al Gore knew what I was doing. He would be so proud of me!” My teenage daughter doesn’t think that is funny, but I still laugh each time. So during the month of December, I am going to see how many plastic shopping bags I can save by using reusable cloth bags. I currently take these bags most of the time when I go grocery shopping. During my holiday shopping, I am going to take them to all stores. My goal is to save 50 bags during the month of December. The items that fit in these bags are equivalent to the items that will fit into 2 or 3 plastic bags. I have already saved 6 bags while shopping at 3 different stores today.
So this project is for Al Gore, and I think he would be proud!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pumpkin pie with whole wheat pie crust

Yesterday I tried a new recipe for a whole wheat pie crust. My husband thought it was good. I am not quite so sure. I used hard white wheat flour, and I think next time I would use either soft white wheat flour or spelt flour. I think the cook is always more critical than the taste testers. My husband likes most of my experiments. I would give the pie crust a 3 out of 5 star rating, but the pie filling definitely gets 5 stars. The pumpkin pie is actually made out of fresh yams instead of canned pumpkin. My daughter called it incredible!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Is it really whole grain?

This is my wheat grinder. My husband gave it to me nearly 10 years ago for my birthday. He probably wondered at the time if it was really wise to spend almost $200 on this gadget and how often would it really get used. I don't think that he has been disappointed. I have used this several times a week to make whole grain items. One of my pet peeves is that many "wheat breads" are not really whole wheat. Manufactures often times throw a little whole grain in an item to call it whole grain, but the item is really mostly processed white flour. I like to experiment to make baked goods without using white flour. I have made chocolate muffins with barley and spelt flour. I have ground white beans and used the flour in applesauce oatmeal cookies. Fresh cornmeal and hard white wheat flour make a delicious cornbread. A favorite of mine is chocolate chip cookies with oats and spelt flour.