Friday, October 24, 2014

KCW Day 5: Sky Seasoning

"Delicious delicious
(A bit like plaster),
But so delicious, goodness sake-
I could have eaten a lentil soup lake. 
It's amazing the difference 
A bit of sky can make."
-Shel Silverstein, "Sky Seasoning"

   I love Shel Silverstein. When I was a kid, one of the few books I remember having was The Giving Tree. I loved it, even though it didn't make sense to me until I was pregnant with my first child. Perhaps it was the influence of the Children's Literature class I took in college. For the most part, kid lit ruined all fairy tails for me. The sad way Bruno Bettelheim sucked perversion and dirty symbolism from classic childhood stories with his Uses of Enchantment(a required read for the class) made me cringe when I read The Brothers Grimm to my children later on, but one thing that class taught me was to read between the lines. Most authors of children's books are adults, and none of them are writing from the child-mind of whimsy and imagination, but from an adult mind, tainted by maturity, life's experiences, and agenda. One of the few whom I appreciate, though, is Shel Silverstein. If ever there was an author who could put himself back into that childhood mindset and combine it with a message, it is him. 
Where the Sidewalk Ends is one of my favorite Silverstein books. Since my oldest was tiny, we've been reading it, over and over and over. "Where the Sidewalk Ends" seemed to be far too long a name for my then-toddler, she she nicknamed it, "Silly Poems." Now all of my children who speak call it this and know the book well. My six-year-old reads it himself. My 7-year-old reads it to the baby, explains the poems just as I've done for her, and giggles to him as she shows him the super-size sandwiches, the chairs of human heads, and the python swallowing a human whole. It sounds gruesome, but it's total kid-hilarity. 
When I asked my girl what her favorite book on the living room bookshelf was, she picked 'Silly Poems.' It perfectly fits the imagination and light-hearted though sometimes inappropriate nature of my big girl. 
When I asked my big girl last night what she wanted me to make for her next, she said, "RAINBOWS! Then I can pretend I'm in the sky rolling around in colors and rainbows. " Sounds about right. Well, that's easy. I just happened to be hoarding a few yards of this rainbow gradient cotton lycra. Not great for winter weight, but when I showed her the finished garment she SQUEALED and said she didn't care, she could wear tank tops or t-shirts under it for the winter, and it'd be perfect for spring(though Mama's a stickler for modesty and will likely make her wear a tank top then, too ;-) ). I chose to do a hoody so my girl could really wrap herself in 'a bit of sky.'  I used the Hangout Hoodie pattern from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop. I made a size 8, but modified it a bit, adding an inch to both the front and back body pieces to ensure it fit loosely given the thin material, increased the cuff around the hood to accommodate the extra width, and added 1" length because I've done this pattern before and found it runs short. The outcome was perfect. My girl adores the finished garment, wants to wear it the rest of the day, but made me promise I'll wash it tomorrow so she can wear it to church on Sunday. 


Annoyed that I didn't realize the inside seam of the hood had caught on her bow for this pic. Boo. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

KCW Day 4: New Outfit Giggles

Giggling so hard she can't stand still 
The child in my family who appreciates my creations- my efforts, the sentiment, and the garments themselves- is my oldest. She's a super tall, rail-thin, girly-girl who oozes pink sparkle from the olive skin she inherited from her daddy. She's so precious to me. A ray of sunshine always flitting about the house, and a people-pleaser to her core who senses when I'm having a bad day and does her very best(in her very 7-year-old way) to help me out. Today was one of those days. Last night was a late night, and despite an unprecedented 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep(EVERYONE was THAT tuckered-out once we got them into bed), I woke up with a bad sinus headache from these fall allergies, and feeling exhausted and foggy.
   I wasn't the only one out of sorts. It seemed everyone woke up in a funk, including the baby who started the morning off with a down-your-legs-and-across-the-floor-with-each-step diaper blow-out that required a bath just to clean it all off. We made it through breakfast, Hubby got out the door for work, and the big kids got started on their schoolwork, but I was stuck feeling lousy with a miserable toddler spider-monkey-child chasing me around. Suddenly it was 1pm and everyone was done with schoolwork, but I had not even thought about lunch. Yes, Papa John's? I'll take two spinach alfredo pizzas for delivery, please. The last straw was when I finally managed to get everyone busy eating pizza and instead of feeding myself got out my shipping supplies and items to be sent, and packed them all up, weighed them, and stacked them beside my laptop so I could print labels while I ate.... only to find my laptop and the printer were having a quarrel and labels weren't happening.... twenty minutes before the mail was due to arrive.
Goofy little creep, always trying to make everyone laugh.
Long story made short(yes, this is the short version) I went to the office desktop, muttering about the last thing I needed today was a drive to the post office and why can't anything work right, to see if the printer was broken or if it was just the laptop. My sweet girl followed me in and asked if I was okay. I told her I was, thanked her for her caring, I was just frustrated that I needed this done fast and things just weren't working fast. In a flash she was back in the office, arms loaded with six packages, set them down beside me, and came back with my scissors and packing tape she knows I use for package labels, all without being asked.  Brushing sentimental tears from my cheek. My sweet girl. She then stood by my side and ran each package to the mailbox as it was labeled, then picked up my paper scraps from cutting out each label and took them to the trash. That's when I decided that if I was able to get the baby down for his nap this afternoon and get my brains organized enough to focus on sewing, it'd be for her.

 Inspiration for today's KCW sewing? Aside from the bad-day-ramble above, last night when my big girl was getting ready for MPact Girls at church, we realized she has no brown leggings in her current size. Necessity! Therefore, my first project for today was a pair of classic shape, chocolate brown leggings. For fabric I used Sew Classic cotton interlock from JoAnns, and for pattern I used   Violette Fields' Lilly Belle Leggings, but modified it a great deal. I used the pattern's shape, but they're meant to be capri-length and ruffled. My girl wanted no ruffles, and for a full length inseam in size 8 the pattern has 16", but my girl has a 22" inseam.
   The second project was something special for my girl. She LOVES dresses, jumpers, flouncy skirts, and anything girly-girl. I dug through my 50-gallon Sterlite tote of fabric and was finding nothing but spring and summer appropriate woven prints, until I got to the very bottom. GOLD! I found a corduroy print I'd loved when I found it at JoAnn's five years ago, and I'd purchased 6 yards- two of which I still had on-hand. Something about using a special, hoarded fabric on a project. Maybe just for the maker, but hopefully the love is conveyed to the wearer, too. I lined the bodice with a classic 100% cotton woven in off-white. For pattern I used the Geranium dress- size 6 bodice for width, size 10 skirt for length- in the classic sleeve and neckline options. It'll be perfect for layering with tees under and cardigans over.
   My girl was SO excited when I showed her the finished garments. She immediately put them on and could not stop giggling and goofy dancing. Between the excitement and time of day, I was hard pressed to get ANY useable pictures of her in the low light of dusk. Yep, it was after sunset and almost dark in these pics. That's ALL editing to lighten things up. She loves it, though, and I love that she loves it. She's still wearing it, dancing around the house, playing pretend with her sister, and insisting that her name is now Fawn because of the deer on her dress, and that she has a secret power that allows her to talk to animals so obviously she must use her power to be a vet who helps the sick and injured ones. Oh, my sweet girl.






Wednesday, October 22, 2014

KCW Day 3: Acorn and Sparkle Monster

All set up for some rainy day sewing
Today was a great day to sew! Dreary, cold, and the big kids were finished with schoolwork and happy to snuggle up in blankets and enjoy some screen time when the baby napped. I think I have figured out the magic formula of balance and harmony. The "problems" are that I cannot sew when Badger's awake, but I can knit. I cannot sew at night when Hubby is in the office working on homework, but I can cut fabric. I can pretty much work knitting in various times of the day during homeschooling, and in the evenings in my "down time." So if I can get things accomplished so I have my hour to sew during nap time, then when the kids are in bed for the night I can cut out the next day's sewing. After the cutting is done, as well as any other time I have the opportunity, I can knit. I am so excited about continuing to implement this routine, it's kind of ridiculous.
   First I decided on tees to coordinate with yesterday's jean's with orange and blue stitching, I made two different style tees. Patrick Curved Raglan using a large cotton interlock Moose with Shoes scrap a friend gave me more than a year ago, and coordinating cotton interlock solids for the neckline and the embellishment. I decided if the sleeves were going to be print, too, the tee needed something to break it all up. I contemplated a moose (you know, Moose with Shoes and all), but in the end picked an acorn from the print for ease of application. I think it came out perfectly! Better than I'd imagined.
   Next I did a Varsity Cowl Neck Pullover. The fabrics used? Yeah, funny story about that.
So, I love a good deal. I'll admit, I've even been known to buy something I had no need for simply because it was on sale and I could find SOMETHING to do with it. I know, I know- that's how all
You can totally see the sparkles, can't you?
I never said my eyes were great. 
hoarders start, isn't it?
 So I was in JoAnns one day, and I glanced over a Red Tag Clearance rack as I walked past. A bolt of orange knit fabric caught my eye. I checked the bolt end, and it was 100% cotton like I like, and the weight felt perfect. It also didn't hurt that it was on a GREAT sale and I had a few prints it could coordinate with, so despite the fact that I hadn't sewn in six months, I bought it. Fast forward to last night, when I had the kids asleep for the night and I pulled out the fabric, patterns, and supplies to cut out the next day's projects, then proceeded to get everything prepped for today's hour of sewing. Fast forward again to today, when I pulled out my prepped fabric cuts and notions, and was kind of appalled. When I unfolded my pieces for this tee, I noticed for the first time that the fabric was covered in silver sparkles. *sigh* Seriously? Apparently it'd been folded sparkle side in, and when I prepped it in the wash I had coincidentally pulled it from the dryer and re-folded it the same way, and last night in the dimly-lit dining room I'd not noticed, either. This morning, however, it was glaringly obvious. I debated not using it, then I decided if there was a ever a tee that seemed acceptable(sparkle fabric makes me think 'costume' more than anything) with silver sparkles, it'd be this that I'd already cut a coordinating Monster Rocks print pouch pocket for. So the fabrics are all 100% cotton interlocks knits- my favorite of all knits because they're more substantial than jersey and keep their shape better than rib knits.
Again, Mr. Fresh Nap Face, obliging me with wardrobe changes and semi-cooperation for photos:





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

KCW Day 2: Cloth Diaper Friendly Jeans!

My youngest rocking his "Kumfy™ Pants"-
Knit wool pants that are a garment and a diaper cover
Many years ago it became apparent that jeans on my kids' thighs were just not happening. Compounded with the extra fluff from cloth diapers and there was NO way my kids were ever ever going to be able to join the 'dressed like a mini adult' trend. Not that I mind! I think babies should be dressed like babies, and be allowed the comfort of soft, snugglish clothes (Hence the name "KumfyKozies"), but every now and then I wished jeans were an option for my toddlers. That's when, once again, necessity birthed an invention and I created my original Kumfy™ Jeans pattern. But there was a twist: No two toddlers are shaped alike! By using my base formula, I was able to create hundreds of custom-fit cloth-diaper and chunk-friendly jeans for toddlers. They were a top-seller in my shop for three years before I closed. I have been asked more times than I can count if I am going to publish my Kumfy™ Jeans pattern. As of now, the answer is no. I have looked into pattern-making software for sewn goods, and it is always far more of an investment than I am willing to make. Add to that the custom nature of every single pair Kumfy™ Jeans I make, and it just kind of seems like it'd ruin the nature of the concept itself.
So I sew. Lots. For my own kids, too! Thus the reason why that was my first pattern to use for Kids Clothes Week. Custom jeans for my 35-inch tall 33-pound 18-month-old.
   As soon as I tucked my guy in for a nap, I got the dishwasher running, brewed a cup of coffee, and got out my supplies. Of course I was distracted countless times- a dryer that buzzed and signaled another load of laundry in the never-ending line needed to be started, a 4-year-old in crisis because she couldn't find the show she wanted on Netflix, a- 7-year-old had trouble with some long division in her math lesson, and a 6-year-old was offered cash-money to fold and put away a load of towels for me so I could keep going- but in the end I was able to spend an hour getting the job done. Fabric is 100% cotton denim, medium weight and dark wash from JoAnns. $14.99/yard, but I never pay full price for ANYTHING. Thread for the seams is a variegated orange and a turquoise for top-stitching. Colors are such because they match the intended tee that is to come, hopefully later today. Elastic is 1-inch non-roll from Dritz.
 
 Just as I was ready to thread the elastic through the waistband, my toddler woke up. For once in his adorable little life, he sat on my lap and allowed me to finish. He doesn't usually. Typically, he must have my full and undivided attention, and I must be ready to accommodate HIS desired activity- which is never to sit quietly on my lap while I sew. For this I am very grateful.
  After the blanket of yesterday(YES! I DID IT! Pics to come.) and the jeans of today, I can officially say my mojo is back. I am EXCITED to get something else sewn. Now to find the balance in the ever-tedious relations between motherhood, homeschooler, avid knitter with commitments, and passionate seamstress.
Without further ado, my precious guy, fresh up from his nap, in his new custom jeans that will give him length to grow for the whole winter even with my refusal to do anything but cold wash/rinse and high heat dry on my dark laundry. I laugh in the face of shrinkage. BAH!

Sweet pudgy toddler toes


Monday, October 20, 2014

I Should Be Sewing

My first sewing box, still being used today
I have always loved sewing. As a kid- I want to say my 7th or 8th birthday- I asked for fabric to sew things for myself. Wishes granted, and I even got a sewing box for my supplies as well. Over the years my mother taught me simple seams and mending here and there using her 1970's Singer, which proved to be incredibly useful as I grew to almost to almost 6 feet tall and needed to alter pretty much
every garment I had.
When my husband and I married in early 2006, we were given a sewing machine. It proved to be the most useful of all our wedding gifts!
My first baby in the first outfit I made her
Aside from the continued mending and altering for both my husband and myself, when our first child was born I found my sewing machine even more useful. There were Gerber burp rags I embellished, MORE burp rags I made myself with flannel and fleece, onesies to alter and make into lap tees to be more cloth diaper-friendly, and wool sweaters I cut apart and turned into upcycled wool diaper covers in the form of soakers and pants. Then I started making clothes. My girl was already such a chunk, but adding in the fluffy cloth diaper
rump, and she was incredibly hard to fit clothes on. We usually bought clothes 3-4 sizes up, then I altered them with sewing. One day, though, it struck me that I did so much sewing to make her clothes fit right, why didn't I just try sewing her actual garments and save some money, since fabric is so much cheaper than ready-made garments I had to sew anyway.
I was hooked. It was so much more fun to shop for fabric and make things myself- things that ACTUALLY fit- than to shop discount and thrift stores for clothes that fit in our budget. From there, things unwrapped themselves. Friends- both online and in-person- saw the outfits I made for my girl and begged me to make some for their kids. By October 2007, I opened my first online store on HyenaCart(the smaller, lesser known, strictly hand-made cousin of Etsy) with the name KumfyKozies™. Things grew and grew and grew, and soon I was operating mainly from my own original patterns, both knitting and sewing, and was involved in group shops with several other vendors, an Etsy shop, and had goods in several stores on consignment.
Over the years my business has changed, as time, number of children, and commitments outside the home changed, and in November 2013 we moved across the country and I closed my shops down altogether. Since then, I've gone into a bit of sewing depression. In March my machine broke and I bought the needed part, but I have yet to install it or sew anything. Since March. That's the longest I've gone without sewing in 9 years.
I promised my first son that if I ever found How to Train Your Dragon(his favorite movie for the last three years) fabric, that I'd buy it and make him something. I found some fleece, and bought it with a
coordinating solid to make him a new twin-size blanket for his bed for the winter. I told him I'd make it for his birthday. That was yesterday. It didn't get done. I'm a jerk.
But I'm determined to break out of this funk. TODAY I will sew his blanket. My goodness, I have no excuse anyway. It's two rectangles sewn together in a straight stitch, then turned and top-stitched in a straight stitch again! It WILL be done.
For further motivation, I join Kids Clothes Week. I have ogled KCW for YEARS, dreaming of having the time to partake, because in the past I was always too busy producing for my shop and never had time to make for my own kids. This year I do. This year I WILL. And it starts today. My plan: First up, cleaning up my machines. Then, a pair of jeans for my littlest guy. He's a super-chunk
Dark wash denim for jeans
just like his older sister, and conventional jeans have never fit him. Add in his cloth diaper booty, and he's the perfect candidate for one of my shops' top sellers: Kumfy™ Jeans. Custom-made wide leg jeans using a pattern I created myself in 2009. I'm excited and determined! This will happen. IT WILL! :-D I'm planning to do a daily post about what I get done, but in case I don't, here's my KCW profile in case you want to see if I stick to it: MRBLayaw on KCW

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rich, Flavorful Vegetable Stock Made Easy

I like soups. All kinds of soups. I also cook everything from scratch- every sauce, drizzle, and base is made 100% from the ground up. It keeps things preservative-free, allergen-free, less expensive, and much more of the nutrients intact than a store-bought counter-part. Last fall I wrote about making chicken stock in How Much is a Chicken REALLY Worth? and recently the health benefits of said stock(and a soup made with it) in Feel Me Better Soup- For Anything that Ails You.
   The sad part: My youngest is allergic to chicken(and eggs. and potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, apples, and.... the list is long), so I can use none of that rich, nutritive, multi-purpose liquid gold in dishes he'll be eating or his food might be cross-contaminated with. Beef bones are not so readily available to me, so for months I was at a loss as to how to compensate for this lack in our diet. Naturally, I went to Pinterest. LOTS of ideas, recipes, etc, not much feedback. So just as I do with most recipes, I read countless versions, considered the similarities and differences, and formulated my own plan. Months of trial and error later, I am FINALLY pleased with the repeated outcome- so of course I'm sharing!

Ingredients:

  • Aromatic scraps(or one onion, peel and all)
  • 1 large leek
    Garlic, onion, carrot, and leek peels and ends from several
    days prior, kept refrigerated
  • A fistful of celery, leaves a plus
  • A fistful of fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms(Absolute KEY to a rich, earthy flavor without tasting like mushrooms)
  • 1-2 carrots
  • A couple sprigs of fresh herbs(we prefer oregano and thyme)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons flavorless Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin
Directions:
   In a large pot, put all vegetables and herbs, salt and pepper(I start with a teaspoon of each), and 12 cups of water. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. 

Keep covered and turn heat down to low. Keep covered at a low simmer for 5 hours. Turn off heat, remove lid, and allow to cool to luke-warm, just above room temperature. 

Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the stock from the vegetables. Now here's the tricky part: Using your hands(or some other way you know how) and squeeeeeeeeeze the daylights out of the vegetable mush leftover. A LOT of the liquid and flavor are in these cooked-to-death veggies, so this is a super important step. Your huge pot of fresh veg will end up with just a small strainer or squeezed-out mush.

Rinse the pot, pour the strained stock back into the pot, and sprinkle with the unflavored Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin. Give it a quick whisk to break up most of the clumps(small ones will dissolve on their own), and let it sit without turning the heat on for ten minutes. This allows the gelatin to bloom and is VITAL to texture.

Turn the heat on high for ten minutes, leaving the cover off the pot. The pot should just come to a rolling boil from room temperature by this time. This cooks the gelatin, sterilizes the hand-squeezed stock, and slightly concentrates flavor. Now you can can it, refrigerate it for later use, immediately use it exactly as you would any other stock, or let it cool slightly before bagging it for the freezer. Total yield is about 8-9 cups of finished stock.

Why the gelatin?
Number one reason: the health benefits. Read about a few of them HERE and HERE. Number two reason: texture. Natural bone broth/stock has this gelatin already in it, therefore has the gelatinous texture when cooled, but heats to a smooth, silky stock consistency. This addition gives it to vegetable stock.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why Taking Pain Meds Before Vaccines Can Hurt Not Help

*This is not a debate about vaccines. Every family is responsible for researching vaccines for their own families and weighing the risks and benefits for themselves.* 

Once upon a time I was a first time mom, and I listened to every bit of advice I was given. When I was told by the pediatrician my daughter's bloodied face was "just sensitive skin" and nothing else, I listened. Then I got sick of seeing my newborn's body broken out in a cracked and rubbed-raw, bleeding rash, so I took matters into my own hands, tracked my food consumption, and figured out she was allergic to soy and peanuts. Once we cut those out of my diet, my breastfed baby was the picture of health and clear skin. When the same pediatrician told us at her 9-month check-up that she was bigger than most 1-year-olds and developmentally on-par with 1-year-olds therefore he saw no problem with us turning her car seat forward-facing, I listened. Then several mamas in an online parenting group lovingly private messaged me with information on the laws and reasoning behind rear-facing to AT least 1, but better to 2 or the RFing limits of the convertible car seat.
When I was told my son was just terribly naughty and "just being a boy" that required more discipline, I listened. Then I got sick of constantly disciplining him which didn't help, but rather left our home in constant upheaval and misery, I listened to my gut, did research, and had my son evaluated. We found out he had a serious neurological disorder that was the root of his impulsiveness, extreme tantrums that were actually panic attacks, and more.
When nurses at the pediatrician's office told me to give my child the max possible dose of Tylenol or Ibuprofen before coming to the check-ups where they'd be vaccinating because it would help prevent pain, swelling, and fever, I listened. Then my children starting having more severe vaccine reactions, including full-blown Measles from the MMR vaccine. That's when I started looking into the inflammatory system and how the body is actually affected by the likes of Tylenol and Motrin. That's when I discovered how dangerous administering these meds before vaccines could be, and how it was very likely playing a role in my children's severe vaccine reactions.
   How do pain meds like Tylenol and Iburprofen work? 
Believe it or not, swelling and fever are GOOD things. They mean your immune system is doing exactly what it should do, and is working to heal the wound, kill viral and bacterial attackers, and creating antibodies to the vaccine that was just introduced into the body. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW VACCINES WERE MEANT TO WORK. By administering these medications at any time, you are suppressing the body's immune response and not allowing it to heal itself. There are times when this can be temporarily beneficial- like in the case of high fevers when natural remedies (cool baths, cooling essential oils, cold drinks, disrobing, etc) are not effective enough and the fever is high enough to cause seizures or death. Or in the instances where swelling is so severe it can cause further injury, like in the case of head injury when brain swelling can cause stroke, hemorrhage, and death. These are extreme instances, but chemically interfering with the body's own healing processes SHOULD be extreme. Unfortunately it has become all too common-place. Like in the instances of administering anti-inflammatories 30 minutes before vaccines are administered to help prevent pain, swelling and fever. By doing this you are suppressing the immune system and are increasing the likelihood of serious reactions from the vaccines. The sole purpose of vaccines is to trigger an immune response within the body. To suppress the immune response even for the 14 days following a vaccine(during the time when a reaction is most likely to occur) is to increase the likelihood of adverse reactions by incredible numbers.
Doubt it? Read medical journal articles on how Ibuprofen products and Acetaminophen products suppress the immune system in exactly this way HERE and HERE. Even the CDC states not to
vaccinate people when they are already sick or immune-suppressed. So why are doctor's offices telling parents to suppress their children's immune systems chemically before being vaccinated? For the same reason we're told a number of things that we as parents find to be contrary to what is right for our families. Because it is up to us as parents to understand and advocate for our children. So please, PLEASE, if you take your child or yourself in to receive a vaccine, PLEASE- skip the immune-suppressant. Your lives very well might depend on it. 

Gluten-Free Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

When it comes taking a night off from making dinner, I have two choices: Papa John's or my crock pot. Sure, the crock pot requires some effort hours beforehand, but Papa John's is chock full of MSG(but soooo yummy. I GET THE GREASE BUCKET!) and realistically requires MUCH more work when you consider that a meal for my family of six costs $40 there, and the 100% organic crock pot meal I made for this post cost about $8. Crock pot it is!
  Usually I make things that are allergy-friendly in our home, which means free of nightshades(eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes), chicken, pork, apple, chocolate, and more, but this is my oldest's favorite meal, so sometimes I make an exception and my allergy guy gets bits and pieces supplemented by components pulled from the fridge to make it a complete meal. Today is one of them. Quick and easy gluten-free cacciatore chicken. Gluten-free? What do you coat the chicken  with? Do you fry it first? Sorry, friends, but if you're married to the oil-fried breading that usully falls off to thicken the sauce while you simmer the pot any way then this recipe isn't for you. Phew! Aren't you glad I saved you the time reading the rest of this post. ;-) Besides, I find the fried breading to thicken the sauce quite unnecessary because the low-and-slow method of cooking in the crock pot makes for a nice thick and rick consistency all on its own. This is a wholesome, organic, super easy, clean-eating approach to a popular Italian dish that, aside from the fried chicken component, is a dead-ringer for the classic dish.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 bone-in chicken portions(we like drums)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 28-oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine(optional)
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Directions:
Julienne(slice into very thin strips) the pepper and onions, chop the mushrooms, and place all in the bottom of the crock pot, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I'm a big believer in flavoring every layer. 

 Lay the chicken portions over the top of the julienned veggies, and again sprinkle with some sea salt and fresh black pepper. 

   Pour the tomatoes (and wine if you're using it) over the top of the chicken, again sprinkle with some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. 

Cover, turn the crock pot on low. This will take 4-6 hours, depending on your particular crock pot. To be totally sure your dish is cooked through, pull out a chicken portion and get a temperature reading right at the deepest bone inside. The minimum temperature should be 165F. 


Now comes the hard part: Deciding what to serve it over. There is great controversy among Italians whether the proper mate for chicken cacciatore is rice or pasta. I defy you all. Let's go with quinoa. Quinoa is as easy to cook as rice, has barely any difference in taste and texture, but is far healthier. It is rich in protein, and if you sprout it(we do, but it's not required) its nutrients are very easily absorbed into the body. Just 1 cup of quinoa, 2 cups vegetable stock, a dash each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, bring it to a boil, then simmer on medium-low for ten minutes. Is that like instant rice or what?! It's just as easy as ordering pizza! Obviously you can serve this on whichever food vehicle you want. Do what works for you. Enjoy!