Friday, November 21, 2014

North To Alaska

North To Alaska

We just returned from a great visit with our family in North Pole Alaska and thought I would take this time to share some of the things we did, each day was a new adventure.   The Temperatures stayed around 20 degrees during the day, which wasn't bad at all and they have about 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground.

The sun begins to peek up over the horizon at about 9:30 in the morning but this happens a little later with each passing day as winter sets in and the days begin to shorten.  It gets dark in the evening around 5:00.  The sun never makes it up over the tree tops during the day before it is heading back down.

Larry and I headed out on an adventure to the Chena Hot Springs.  It was a beautiful drive and we made many stops along the way just to look around.  This is the Chena river, it only has a thin layer of ice at this time but very soon it will be think enough to drive on.

We took a short hike down this winding path in the woods.  Since we didn't know where we were going and not dressed for cold weather we didn't go far.

Lots of beaver sign in the area.

It was about a one hour drive out to the Chena Hot Springs from North Pole.  It was worth the drive.  As we approached you can see the steam hanging in the air and all the trees are flocked in white.
It seemed very strange to be putting on bathing suites and heading outside into the snow to swim.  The water was extremely warm and just down right hot in some areas of the pool.  At one point we needed to get out of the water to cool off, by the time you feel your swimming suit begin to freeze it's time to get back in.  It was absolutely beautiful, we were surrounded by snow covered hills and mountains as we wade around in the steaming hot water.
We had a great time in Alaska, tune in next week and I'll share learning to milk a goat while in Alaska.
Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Strawberry Oatmeal Mix - Guest Blogger Andrea McEwen

This week we're blogging to you from Alaska.  We're here visiting with family and having a great time.  One morning this week while standing in my sister in laws kitchen watching her mix up what seemed like enough oatmeal to feed an army, I asked her what are you doing?  She replied, oh just making some strawberry oatmeal mix.  So I grabbed the camera and thought it would be great to share with you all.  With 3 kids still at home, she has some great money and time saving tips that I hope she will begin to share with us from time to time. Now I'll turn the blogging over to Andrea and she will share her strawberry oatmeal mix with you all.

Hi!  I don't know about all of you, but a common question at my house is, "What's for breakfast?"  Or lunch, or dinner, or snack, or .... You get the idea.  I am always on the lookout for recipes that are healthier than store bought alternatives, inexpensive, and most important-something that my kids will like!  I can't get them to like oatmeal for the life of me if I cook it from scratch, no matter what toppings I offer with it, but they will eat packaged oatmeal by the box.  One package is not enough for my hungry teens though, and I wanted something with ingredients I could pronounce.  So, I have come up with this recipe, and I will give you some hints for ways to sneak in some healthy ingredients as well.

The basic recipe looks like this:
9 C quick oats
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C powdered milk
1 1/2 teas. salt
3 C freeze dried fruit
1/2 C ground chia seeds or flax (opt.)
Mix up your oats, sugar, powdered milk and salt.  Stir in your dried fruit (cut it up if they are large pieces like strawberries) and your optional ground seeds, and you are done!  Pour it into a jar for storage and breakfast is ready!  When it comes time for breakfast, younger kids might want 1/2 cup, while older kids might want up to a cup.  Pour boiling hot water over the top just like you would for instant oatmeal packages, and let it sit for a few minutes.  You can also microwave it for about a minute, depending on your microwave.  You can adjust the thickness to your preference by adding more or less water.  If your kids are old enough to run a microwave or boil water, they can make their own breakfast, and that is a beautiful thing!  I also often tell them to make a small bowl of oatmeal to tide them over until breakfast (or dinner!) is done.  Between this oatmeal and eggs from our Chicken Scratch Poultry hens, breakfast is easy and healthy every day.
One last thought, I am always trying to sneak some flax into various recipes for its great Omega-3 benefits, so I started throwing a little of that into my mix as well.  Then I started hearing about the benefits of chia seeds, so I throw some of them in.  If your family isn't used to that, add a little at a time and they won't notice!  You can also use sugar substitutes, or reduce the sugar in the recipe.  When I adjust a recipe, I slightly reduce the sugar (maybe 2 T less) every time I make a batch until I start getting complaints, and then I bump it up a bit and that's the new recipe.  I buy the Augason Farms freeze dried fruit, but you can use any dried fruit or freeze dried fruit available in your area or on Amazon.  My kids prefer the strawberry, but I have done it with Craisins and dried apricots as well.  I also have a recipe for maple and brown sugar oatmeal mix that I will try to share at a later date if you all are interested.
I would love to hear from you if you think of some new ideas to add to this recipe!  Cooking healthy meals for a family can be a challenge, but when we share our ideas it can make our lives easier.
From North Pole, Alaska, Andrea McEwen