Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia.

I’m sorry. I had to.

I always wanted a chia pet. A terracotta bunny that sprouted green fur. That’s the one I wanted. I also wanted a Clapper and a Slap Chop, but thankfully never received either of those. If you ask The Carnivore he’ll tell you the Banjo Minnow was the greatest thing to ever come from an infomercial. I think he still carries it around in his tackle box to this day.

I first started using chia seeds after reading Christopher McDougall’s Born to RunThis book is about the Tarahumara Indians who run hundreds of miles, and seem to do so without any of the common injuries that plague city runners today. Oh, and did I mention they run nearly barefoot?! They don’t need GU packs to fuel their runs, Gatorade every 3-5 miles, or special shoes to help their achy feet. They just run. It’s just them and the trail.  That’s it. Easy! Yeah right…

Behold.  The Chia Seed.

Behold. The Chia Seed.

Meet the chia seed. Bursting with nutrition, chia is the richest plant-based source of fiber, protein, and omega 3 on the planet, all in one tiny seed. Yes, the same chia seeds that come slathered on your terracotta Homer Simpson’s head. Now don’t go nibbling on your chia pet just yet – people are going to look at you funny. The seeds are known as the “Indian Running Food,” and were used to fuel Aztec warriors on their long journeys and in battles. Chia seeds can hold 9-12 times their weight in water which makes them ideal for preventing dehydration, aiding in endurance activities, and also weight loss!

Check out this ounce by ounce comparison:

Chia Seed Ounce Per Ounce Comparison

Chart from Kitchen Kneads

Perfect? Almost…but they get stuck in your teeth.  I now tend to purchase the white chia seeds because of this little issue.

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Note – White seeds are harder to find than black seeds but there is no significant nutritional difference between the two. White seeds are often more expensive because they’re not quite as common.

How to incorporate chia seeds into your diet:

  • Add a Tbsp. to your morning smoothie
  • Add a Tbsp. to your oatmeal
  • As a salad topping
  • As an egg replacement: 1 Tbsp. chia mixed with 3 Tbsp. water, let rest for about 5-10 min.
  • As a pudding: 1/3 cup chia seeds, 1 cup coconut/almond milk, cinnamon (to taste), honey/stevia (to taste) – combine all ingredients and let rest for 15 min. in the fridge. This pudding reminds me of the texture of tapioca.
  • I’m currently working on Chia Bites! Great for a pre-workout snack. They’re delicious, but I haven’t quite perfected the recipe.  I’ll share soon.
Chia bite recipe I'm working on.  The experiments have been delicious! I'll post soon.

Chia Bites recipe I’m working on. The experiments have been delicious! I’ll post soon.

I would love to tell you that after eating chia seeds you will be able to channel your inner Tarahumara Indian and run a marathon.  Unfortunately, you actually have to train for it as well. Bummer.

Let Them Eat Cake! Part 2.

A couple of weeks ago I posted my very first cake tutorial discussing the prep work that goes into creating a pretty cake.  Well, this week I am going to show you how to ice a cake and get a clean, smooth finish.

This week happens to be both my sister and sister-in-law’s birthday. Busy week at the Bridgforth house!

My sister (Whitney) was up first. Whitney has simple tastes. No matter how creative I get with cake flavors she still prefers Funfetti from the box. When she gave me cake ideas, she said “I like Frozen, puppies, and turtles.” I won’t tell you how old she is…. 😉

This cake was for her.

To begin, here’s what you’ll need:

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  • A saucepan of simmering (HOT) water
  • Small spatula
  • Viva paper towels (very important to get Viva, you’ll see why)
  • A big tub o’ icing
  • Not pictured: a bowl or someplace to scrape your spatula off

At the end of the last cake post I mentioned putting my cake in the fridge to settle, and to also set the filling.  At this point my cake is cold and the icing is set, so it’s not going to slide around while I ice the sides.

We are going to do 2 layers of icing on this cake. 1.) Crumb coat – this layer is going to be thin, and is going to seal in all the loose crumbs. 2.) Final coat – this layer goes on thicker than the crumb coat, and is going to give that nice, smooth, clean finish.

Note: You use the simmering water to heat your spatula. A warm spatula spreads the icing much smoother.  I do this between nearly every swipe I make on the cake. Dip the spatula in water, wipe it off with a paper towel. Keep doing this throughout the icing process to ensure a smooth finish. Keep your extra bowl close, to scrape off excess icing as needed.

Crumb Coat Stage:

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  1. I like to pipe around the seams of the cake. Sometimes my dam doesn’t go all the way to edge, and I want to fill in this gap before I begin icing.
  2. With a HOT spatula begin working your icing into the gap.
  3. Smooth out your seams.
  4. Now just take globs of icing (that’s a precise unit of measure) and place them around THE SIDES of your cake, I do this every several inches.
  5. With a HOT spatula, begin smoothing out your globs.
  6. Work out all the icing until the sides are completely covered. Scrape off any excess icing into your bowl, make sure you don’t scrape it off in your clean icing. At the end of this stage, you want a lip at the top of your cake.  The icing will be about 1/2″ taller than your cake – THIS IS IMPORTANT, don’t smooth out the lip.
  7. Place a glob of icing on the top of your cake, and smooth it out.  Smooth the icing to the edge of the cake, where it meets the lip.
  8. With your icing pushed up against the edge of the cake, using a HOT spatula, begin dragging the lip of icing toward the center of your cake.

*Smooth out the sides/top as necessary with a hot spatula. It doesn’t have to be perfect just yet.*

Here is my cake once the crumb coat is complete. It’s a light layer, you should be able to see through it. Pop this in the fridge, for 30 min. to an hour to set.

Crumb Coat. Complete.

Crumb Coat Complete.

Step 2. Final Icing Stage

Using the same process as above (I won’t bore you with the same pictures), we are going to add a thicker “final” layer to our cake.  This is where the pretty happens.

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  1. Add your globs of icing to the crumb coated cake. Begin at Step 4 in the instructions above.
  2. This is my finished cake after I smoothed out the icing with a hot spatula. I left this mark in the center to show you how we get a completely smooth finish.

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Take your Viva paper towel (VERY IMPORTANT. Don’t use another brand), place it on the side of your cake, and begin gently rubbing up and down.  When I’m not trying to take pictures of myself, I will usually use one paper towel in each hand and double time it.

Note: You can do this on butter based icing as well, but put the cake in the fridge for just a few minutes before you begin to rub it.  

And… Voila! Smooth cake.  The Viva paper towel trick works every time.

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And, here’s the final cake.

I tried to make a grown-up Frozen cake because she is not 12 like my description might have led you to believe.  I’m not sure it’s possible, but a few people at the restaurant did ask if it was Breaking Bad cake, so maybe it worked?!

I am loving tall candles recently.

I am loving tall candles recently.

After the last post, I received requests for a butter based icing recipe, as well as a shortening based recipe.  You ask – I deliver.  Here are my tried and true basic icing recipes:

Support your Local Farmers.

The first signs of spring mean CSA time! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I’ve been participating in CSA programs for 2 years now, and I’m completely thrilled with the process and the products I receive.

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Photo from A Way to Garden.

Here are the basics of a CSA: (Source: LocalHarvest)

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 5.14.47 AMI love this program because: 1.) I’m supporting farmers in my community.  2.) I never know what’s going to be in my basket. I’ve been introduced to so many new produce items through this program and it forces me to think outside our usual 7-10 meal rotation. 3.) I know my produce is fresh – generally it’s picked the morning you pick it up.

One of CSA baskets from last season.

One of my CSA baskets from last season.

Most shares are sold in small or large portions. Small is usually 2 people, large is 4 people.  You can expect to spend $400 -$900 for  “a season.” A season varies by farm, but generally runs April – September (ish). Some farms operate a little differently but you can usually expect about 6 months worth of produce. The CSA I participated in last year was $550 for 22 weeks of produce (this was the small share). It came out to $25 per week, and I got SO MUCH more produce than I would for $25 at the store. If you’re unsure if you’ll be throwing away a lot of food, split a membership with a friend! This is a great way to gauge how much of it you will actually use.

Here is the most comprehensive list of Oklahoma CSAs I’ve been able to find:

Missing from this list (that I know of):

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Photo from Erica’s Garden.

Maybe you can’t make the commitment to join a CSA?

If you have commitment issues, there is also a program called Bountiful Baskets that could be just for you!

Bountiful Baskets is $15 a week to participate, and you only purchase 1 week at a time.  No commitment! There are various locations throughout the state to pick up your haul.  Bountiful Baskets finds produce from small farms all over the US and Mexico to put together the weekly baskets. You are supporting small farms, but not necessarily local farms like you do with the CSA. Also, Bountiful Baskets is in nearly every state! Check their location page to see if they have one near you.

Both are fantastic options, and there is just something really satisfying with knowing where your food comes from.  I hope you all take a minute to explore different options and maybe find one that is perfect for you. I am very passionate about this, so please feel free to ask any questions!