936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I have made a grand discovery this week. For months I have been defeated in this one simple quest: to make the perfect muffin; concocted of wholesome ingredients, artistic in design, and thoroughly enjoyable. My grand discovery this week has finally brought a sure victory in this endeavor. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. And with this discovery two new staple muffin recipes have been born into our home. Don’t be intimidated by the extra steps to these recipes. Muffin making, I have found, is an art form.
A few weeks back Grayson and I were at a church potluck picnic. I had brought a plate of Crazy Cow Muffins to share. Two young boys sat on the opposite side of a picnic table from me. I observed one of the boys take a cautious bite of the muffin. He stared at the now exposed inside, and leaned over close to his friend’s ear and whispered, “There’s green stuff in it!” The other boy peered into the muffin and replied with a resounding, “Cool!”
These Crazy Cow Muffins get there name not only from their deep brown and white contrast, but from an unexpecting array of ingredients. A key factor in our new way of eating is undoubtedly a flexibility to experiment and try new things. I am excited that our adventurous spirit in what we eat now will directly form Ezekiel’s approach to food as he grows. What we see now as strange and unfamiliar, he will grow up knowing as “normal”. Further, as we continue to integrate newness into our diet, I don’t doubt he will acquire this proneness to wonder at new foods, and curiosity to embrace them.
In example, this week in the market I was drawn to some smoked salmon dip marked on special. I asked for a sample. Ezekiel quickly voiced his desire to try whatever I held in my hands. I dipped one of his cheddar bunny crackers in the salmon dip, and he eagerly opened his mouth to receive. An older woman standing next to us in line peered over and commented, “seafood lover, huh?” I smiled and began telling her of all the variety of foods he loves. She was impressed. I was a proud momma. Of course, introducing new foods is not fool-proof, Ezekiel refused to eat much more than salmon dip for the next two days….
|Vital in muffin-making: Don’t over-mix batter!|
Recently I was talking with a friend about adapting a healthier way of eating in the home. Her child being a little older than mine had already adopted a “normal” for what he expected and liked on his dinner plate. She shared her frustration that all he wanted to eat was pizza and french fries. She, like many women I know, simply desires to serve her family good, healthy food. I encouraged her to start, then, with what is familiar to him. I shared with her my favorite pizza dough recipe (found here, use whole wheat flour), and encouraged her to integrate different vegetables as toppings, starting slow so he is not turned off to the idea of new pizza. I encouraged her to keep offering good veggies even if he keeps refusing. Always make them available. He will eventually cave if he sees mom and dad enjoying them. I then shared with her how to toss cut potatoes in chicken stock and seasonings, then roast them in the oven to make some delicious french fries (Grayson actually prefers these to fries made with oil).
This week I made a Scheherazade casserole for dinner one night. It intrigued me, boasting of Bulgar wheat, 2 types of beans, 3 types of onions, 2 types of peppers, garlic, basil, parsley, tomatoes and feta cheese (I altered the recipe slightly to adapt it to what we got at the farmers market). It was new to us, and so it was definitely new to Ezekiel. As delicious as the meal was, he was feeling a little less than adventurous that night. However, once wrapped in a little bit of familiarity (in the form of a flour tortilla), the child was more than willing to try it, and clean his plate!
I am thankful that we’ve begun this journey while Ezekiel is young so that we need not back-track and undo already learned habits of eating. Surely we will make mistakes (surely we already have) isn’t this an all-around theme in parenting? Needless to say, however, a steadfast introduction of new foods to a young child (and any of us) encourages a culture of excitement for good and nutritious foods.
When I was recreating this recipe for Crazy Cow Muffins for the blog’s sake (and maybe just to have some yummy muffins), I handed a piece to our brother and live-in house guest. I waited patiently as he consumed the morsel. “Good?” I awaited an assessment. “Mmmmm, berry bood” (translation: ‘very good’ while still chewing a muffin). And that perplexed little boy back at our church picnic? He finished his green-filled muffin.
Ok, so the Crazy Cow Muffins may not be in the realm of “healthy”. But they are all whole-wheat, have little fat content, and delicious. Sometimes we can just go for some chocolate, and this is a much better choice than a bowl of ice cream or slice of cake, and just as satisfying!
Combine Dry Ingredients:
In separate bowl, combine wet ingredients:
Make deep well in dry ingredients, pour in wet ingredients. Mix by folding with rubber spatula until a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Do not over mix!
Pour into greased or lined muffin cups (makes exactly 12 average-sized muffins). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
If you would prefer a lighter muffin with less of a dessert flair, and more of a breakfast identity, then meet the Crazy Cow’s better half:
Lemon Poppyseed with Blueberries and Ginger
When I made this recipe for Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins with Ginger last week, it received little enthusiasm from Grayson. This boggled me. I thought they were worth at least some recognition. In the car that afternoon I asked him, “Are you just not a muffin person?” My determination set in ever so greater than before to create the perfect muffin.
After a trip out to acquire some real, high-quality flour (bulk bin in a natural foods market), I set to work adjusting my previous recipe. The Whole Wheat Pastry Flour is truly what this recipe was waiting for. It adds such a decadence to the texture that you would expect to discover such a muffin as this in a quaint little bakery off in a distant little corner of the world where all is well.
This recipe in relation to the former calls for more familiar ingredients, yet they all meld together with such eloquence to produce a perfect pairing for a good cup of joe in the morning, or an afternoon snack, or an evening snack, or a late night snack. Or all four…. When Grayson tried a bite of this new and improved recipe, he gave me a look as to say, “perfect.”
|Lemon and Ginger Infused Sugar|
1) Create your base of flavor. A lemon and ginger infused sugar. (also at this time melt 8tbs real butter and set aside to cool)
Massage ingredients together with your fingers for about a minute. You will know when it is ready when an unbelievably delicious aroma abounds.
Thoroughly whisk ingredients to combine
3) In another bowl, combine wet ingredients:
4) Make deep well in dry ingredients, pour in wet ingredients. Mix by folding with rubber spatula until a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Do not over mix!
5) Gently fold in just until incorporated:
6) Pour into greased or lined muffin pans (makes exactly 12 average-sized muffins) bake at 380 degrees for about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clear (check at about 14 minutes to be safe).
Okay, so you may be asking, ‘what is with the stick of butter?’ It’s a muffin. We can deal. Also, paired with the perfect consistency from the pastry flour, these muffins have a magnificent buttery taste, and beg for no dollop of butter on top. It is perfectly content in the nude. Because face it, if it didn’t taste buttery, we would add butter on top….
|Ezekiel enjoyed waking up his Uncle Jake for some french toast and berries|
The kitchen should be an arena of adventure. It should hold promise of discovery, newness, creativity, fun, and good health. Yes, it takes work, but it is a mom’s ministry to keep it well stocked and ready to feed hungry mouths wholesome foods. Do we fail if at the end of the week the fridge is less than providing and we opt for a little white cardboard container of chicken low mein? No. It happens in our home on occasion. But it is essential that we create a culture in our home of excitement for well-eating and good choices surrounding what our kids eat. This will set them up for physical wellness their whole lives, better enabling them in all areas of life, mostly to honor our Creator God. An atmosphere of adventure and trying new things does nothing but encourage this. Yes sometimes it will go south. Just today Ezekiel refused that very same Scheherazade casserole he devoured a couple of nights ago, but he opted for a banana. I won’t call that a failure. I’ll call it a journey of good health.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!