Thursday, November 27, 2008

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is unsuprisingly my favorite holiday. I get to spend the entire day cooking, weeks in preperation, and get to have in my home friends and sometimes strangers, who need a warm meal, some good wine, and the love that only comes about Thanksgiving day.

This year, it is three in the morning and I'm surrounded by boxes in a cold desolate kitchen. Almost all of my pots and pans are in those boxes, and I've got out one sautee pan, one fry pan, and my faithful single nonstick for eggs in the morning. There will be no smell of turkey this year, no last minute panic as something in my kitchen goes wrong. Instead we are cleaning out the freezer and taking a very out of season peach crisp to a friends house to celebrate with someone else as the hostess. As happy as I am, and as much as I enjoy the company of said friend, I do find it sad that for the first of ten thanksgivings with my sailor I will not be playing hostess. Instead I'll be cleaning and packing all day, and then getting dressed and headed toward a friends house to enjoy that she prepares.

But even amidst the slight sadness of moving away from my home, and starting anew again, I'm so very thankful.

I'm thankful first and foremost for my sweet Jesus who died for me. How blessed I am that he chose that path, and was thinking of me in that moment. What an amazing blessing.

I'm thankful for a new friend who opened her home to us, and thankful for the experiences that have connected us.

I'm thankful that God has not only provided for my needs every single day, but gone far and above my wants. I'm blessed beyond measure and want for nothing. How amazing that he chose my family to have that amazing blessing.

I'm thankful for my husband, who everyday becomes more and more of my dream come true. I'm always amazed at a new way that I fall in love with him every day.

I'm thankful for my amazing children. The bee who is just starting to realize the world that she is living in and how she will mold and change it, even on a local level. And sweet sweet Huck, who seldom fusses and will smile quickly and easily and loves to cuddle with me. Some days I can't believe that I was trusted by God and man to care for these amazing little people. I can't wait to see who they grow into.

I'm thankful for my homes, current and future. Currently we have been blessed with a house that fits our needs, even exceeds them, and next week we will be able to own our own home that we can put to work for our family and neighborhood.

I'm thankful for God providing family every time we move. No matter where we go I've always got family.

I'm thankful for the family I was born into. While we may have our issues and our problems, without them, and without my past with them, I would not be the person who I am today, and I like who I am today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Childhood

Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook


I'm so glad I've not grown out of my childhood yet. I'm still very much a child in many ways.

My kids don't want an adult for a playmate. They want someone who will climb in a box with them and then tell a story and turn it into a beautiful castle. They want someone who will sit on the floor with a bucket of water and pour it from one container into another for an hour, and who will laugh at the funny sounds that cows sometimes make and lay on the ground and watch the ants go in and out of their little hill.

My kids need an adult sometimes, but thankfully, even in the midst of the stress of this move, I'm still enough of a child that I can see the joy in a big pile of wrapping paper.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sadly

Our food life has fallen a bit by the wayside while we are preparing for this move.

But I did make our favorite vegetable beef soup a couple of days ago and we'll be finishing up the pot today. It is so yummy! And very easy to substitute a couple of bags of frozen mixed vegetables when you realize that you have already packed your big cutting board and only have the tiny one and don't want to deal with chopping veggies with the real chance that you could slice off your finger. All the veggies are approximate, use what you have on hand and as much as you want!

1 lb ground beef
1 onion diced fine
2 cloves garlic
3 white potatoes diced small
4 carrots diced
2 ribs celery
Peas
green beans
beef stock (enough to fill the pot)
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste


Thats it. Mix it up, cook it all for a few hours, and eat. It tastes better the second day though. Make sure you remove the bay leaves before eating!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A home

Military life requires some interesting things from you. We have been married almost ten years and lived in seven states, and will hit eight before we have our tenth anniversary. I'm not complaining, it is one of the things I love about military life. Moving, seeing different people all over the country and learning about different regions. I think it also gives me the ability to adapt quickly to any situation and make friends no matter where I am. I'm finally comfortable in my own skin and know who I am. I think the moves have something to do with this. I couldn't create a facade and keep it up like I could when I was younger.

Something else that is required is to plant and grow a strong tree with shallow roots that can be pulled up at a moments notice. When we lived in Oakland I think we had the best tree possible for us. It was strong there, a large wonderful support system that I miss, but we had to pull it up and go to Florida. Luckily when you make a life for yourself someplace part of you is always there and you always have people you love, and that love you, to go home to. We have homes all over.

And Friday we purchased our first home. I see this lovely house being a home, not just a house. It is a corner lot in a quiet neighborhood. It has four bedrooms, and two of them are very large. One will be a school room in a few years. And the school system is wonderful in case homeschooling doesn't work out for us.

There is a large kitchen that has been recently updated. Lots of room for me to do home canning and store my food in a large pantry.

Then the yard. Oh the yard. The front has raised beds for ornamentals. Flowers and blooming bushes. I'll plant mint right by the front stoop. There are two large old maple trees that hover around the corners of the property. A large privacy fence seperating us from the street, but NOT from our neighbors. I can plant berry bushes on the outside of the fences and have something pretty and practical.

In the rear of the house there are two large decks, one with a built in picnic table. Our decks will make it easy to sit outside in the evenings and watch the kids in the yard.

There is already a vegetable garden plotted out by previous owners so the soil should be enriched beyond the typical Oklahoma clay. I can have a large, and hopefully bountiful garden.

Then it slopes down a hill toward a creek! My dream has always been to have a creek on my property, and somehow it has come true.

Amazing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

That one smell that you can't quite put your finger on

I woke up this morning to that smell. It is the smell of your heater clicking on after being off all summer long. When it gets to be this time of year I turn on the heater at night set at sixty three so that if it gets below that it clicks on and the kids don't freeze to death.

And this morning I woke up to that lovely smell. It is a weird thing to enjoy, I'll give you that. But I love it. Some of it is my intense hatred of hot sticky summer, but most of it is my deep love for fall and winter. And we are headed into the best time of year, the holidays! Granted it is going to be hectic this year as we are moving a few days after thanksgiving, but it will be wonderful as always, especially since the bee is big enough to really enjoy it this year.

Ooooo how happy I am this morning. I've got the sound of my grain mill in the background. A cup of good coffee. Eggs in the oven for breakfast. The bee coloring quietly across the table from me, Huck and daddy sleeping in the bedroom.

And that smell. The wonderful smell that makes me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that fall is here, and Christmas is on the way.

I'm a blessed woman indeed

Thursday, October 23, 2008

searching for our home

Simplicity in life is actually hard work, but I'll get there.

We are currently house hunting for our new home in Oklahoma. Oklahoma for many reasons is our dream location and we are thrilled to be moving there.

There are a few things in a home that we are passionate about. Right now we live in a very nice house. It is new construction, split floor plan which means the master bedroom is clear across the house from the bee's room. Huck still sleeps in our room and will for a while longer, so that isn't a big deal. But I hate being so far from the bee. When she wakes up at night those few seconds that it takes me to cross the house to comfort her seem like an eternity to me. I want to get to her as quickly as possible.

We have a large kitchen, open floor plan with a great room. I can see the living room while I'm cooking dinner, which is nice.

And I love many things about this house, it is large, open, big back yard, a lot of things that are nice.

But it isn't want we are dreaming about as we search for our first home to purchase. And of course we are doing most of this online until we get our house hunting leave in a couple of weeks. So what do we want?

A smaller home, less than 1500 sq feet, on at least 1/4 of an acre of land, hopefully closer to 1/2 an acre. We want a small home because we feel like in a smaller home families tend to be closer and more involved with each other. Plus while my children are small I want to have them close, but not in the same room. Co-sleeping doesn't work well for our family, so I just want them very close. I need a larger kitchen though. I'm willing to give up family room or dining room space to have a kitchen that is workable for me. Gas stoves are the preffered choice, but we'll see.

I want hardwood floors. Carpeting traps all sorts of nastiness and gives off noxious fumes even years after it has been installed. Though carpeting is a big step above the ASBOESTOS floors that they give you in base housing!

The land is very very important to me though because we will have fresh vegetables from our garden starting next summer! I'm hoping to have a fairly to very large garden and since I'm a good gardenener I should be successful the first year and will be putting up food next summer and fall to help sustain us through the following winter. I've got a ton of seeds right now, and will order some new ones after we move in and see what kind of land we have. Oklahoma has wonderful weather and soil for growing things and is a climate that I'm familiar with. We are getting there a little later than I had hoped, but hopefully the ground won't be frozen and I can get a plot put in ASAP and set up my composting heap soon there after.

I do NOT want wood paneling. And wood paneling is freakishly expensive there.

But something else that really doesn't interest us is living in the suburbs or new subdivisions. We hate those types of neighborhoods. For starters we aren't mall people and we don't want to eat at applebees, well ever really. Secondly those neighborhoods tend to be so insualar as I wrote about a few days ago. We want a neighborhood where we actually have the opportunity to get to know our neighbors and to be part of a community.

We are looking at neighborhoods with homes built in the forties and fifties. Brick ranches of course as it is Oklahoma. The neighborhoods are a bit more diverse than you will find out in the suburbs too. And those homes have character! One of the biggest complaints about our house now is there is no character. It is exactly the same as the house three houses away. Down to the type of tile in the bathroom.

Oh I'm so anxious to go out there and look!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

gentleness

I'm not a naturally gentle person. I'm blunt and abrupt. I have issues with people touching me to much. I don't like a lot of hugging and stuff like that.

I also come from a background where my mom thought the best forms of punishment were screaming and hitting. I am at a point in my life where I think she really felt she was doing her best. But it still left scars.

Yet something I crave is a gentle home for my children. No yelling. No hitting. No belittling. These things are really important. Guidelines and discipline yes, punitive parenting no.

Just a little thinking tonight about who I am vs. who I strive to be. I guess we are all works in progress

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My fence

Our house is on a 1/8 acre lot. It is a good size and we have a nice size backyard. We have a nice patio set with a really awesome umbrella with solar powered lights that make it wonderful to sit outside in the evenings. A kickin gas grill, kiddie pool, sand and water table, a clothes line, and lots of toys. And a six foot tall fence to keep us in and everybody else in the neighborhood out.

When I was growing up we had a house in a 1/4 acre lot. The Wellmans lived next door, Mrs. Fisher lived around the corner and beside her lived the pastor and his wife. Behind them lived my friend Sarah's family. There were on my block eight kids between the ages of four and ten. Nobody had a fence around their yard. There were two grapevines on my block and early in the morning in the summers all us kids would stuff ourselves on the grapes. We would wander from yard to yard playing in this huge space. All the adults and parents would watch out for one another. The preacher and Mrs. Fischer both had huge vegetable gardens and we always had fresh veggies because they grew far more than they could ever eat.

There are three little girls that live in the house beside me and there are two little kids who live behind us. Once in a while we will see them over the fence, but we don't know their names. They are very disconnected from us. In our little neighborhood there are tons of kids, but they never have the chance to play outside with each other because everybody has a six foot fence keeping people out.

Our society has set up this general attitude of isolation, and it is part of what is leading to our downfall. Would we be demanding more stuff if we had actual relationships with those in our neighborhoods? Would we need two hundred dollar a month digital cable packages if you were sitting in your back yard at night and your neighbor could walk over and you could have a light conversation? Would we care more about those who lived around us?

When I was seven my mom and I were in a near fatal car accident. We were hit head on driving home from my aunts house by a sleeping man. My mom went through the windshield and both of us had severe problems that we both still struggle with today. After our wreck our neighbors took care of us. Mrs. Fischer brought us meals for months. Yet when the woman across the street had twins earlier this year, nobody did anything for her.

There is a saying "Good fences make good neighbors" I say, good fences make crappy neighborhoods. Humans began settling together for several reasons, one of which is that we are social creatures and need to be in fellowship with other humans. Yet creature comforts, the internet, television, fences...they have turned us into something that we weren't meant to be, isolated.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm up earlier than usual

Huck woke up at four thirty this morning. He is suffering teething pains and needed to be fed NOW he shouted at me. So I made his bottle, fed him, and laid him back down where he now sleeps until probably seven or so. I however am not so lucky as to be able to go back to sleep, so I sit up and drink my coffee and think, then I blog.

I am a morning person for the most part. I love getting up early and having a couple of hours to myself where my house is mostly quiet and I can surf the web and think big thoughts and pray and do a devotional. Right now I can feel the cool fall air coming in the windows, which I opened all up as soon as I woke. The sounds I hear are coffee, the gentle hum of my slow cooker, and my grain mill chugging away in the background getting wheat ready for a new loaf of bread.

This morning I'm pondering jumping back into church life. We have had a year now, that we haven't been in a church. There are a few churches that are 'okay' but nothing that makes me actually think we would be in a body of believers, just a body of Churchgoers. However, that doesn't excuse us from going. We are told by God to be in fellowship with the body, and we haven't been for a year now. I'm not sure that these churches really are "the body" but they at least are people who are seeking something. Perhaps that is where we are to start. And I'm sure God will surprise us with a reality we aren't expecting.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

l'shana tovah!!

Have a VERY happy new year!

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year! Celebrate the sweet life that God has blessed us with!


Tonight we ate apples dipped in honey to remember that our Lord is sweet and wonderful!


Blessings on your new year!

Here is what is coming next

See if you can figure it out.

I went to the bathroom this morning. The bee LOVES it when I go to the bathroom because I let her watch Television then, and that is pretty much the only time she watches Television.

I eat a prune every morning and have since I was a little little kid. I love them.

I had a box on the counter.

I forgot to put them away.

There were about ten in the box when I went to the bathroom.

Two were left when I came out.

Soooo, I'm thinking I'm not going out with her the next couple of days.....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

a mission statement of sorts

This isn't meant to be just a food blog. It is meant to be more my mommy blog. Perhaps (hopefully) less aggressive than my other blog. I don't want to write about adoption here, or politics, or anything super dramatic. This is where I want to talk about my family, my faith, and most importantly my kitchen. Feeding my family, spiritually and physically, is my most important job. I don't talk about adoption or politics much in my day to day life, so I think that is why they are coming out on the other blog.

But here, this is about my home. My kids. My spiritual journey, which is so intertwined with my nutrition journey.

I don't want this to be just food, but also my walk with Jesus, nurturing my children, and being the wife and mother that God wants from me.

Beautiful morning

It is Sunday. We don't do church on Sundays for a myriad of reasons, the biggest being we have never found a Christian Community here in Pensacola. But we worship at home on Saturdays, the Sabbath.

But this morning, my house smells, and sounds amazing.

We have fresh coffee, grain milling, an apple cinnamon oven pancake baking away. I can look out my window and see freshly washed diapers fluttering in the cool fall breeze.

The bee is cutting bread dough and rolling it out, laughing as it stretches and springs back. Huck is in his high chair chewing on a maple teether and John is listening to his political shows in the bedroom.

This truly is the good life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It ain't pretty, split pea soup

But it is delicious

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6 c. chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 med. onion chopped
2 t. fresh thyme, or 1 t. dried
2 bay leaves
Dash of tobasco sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups split peas

Boil everything hard for thirty minutes, then simmer for an additional thirty minutes. The peas will take different amounts of time depending on their age, how dry they were, even the weather. You'll have to taste test to find out when they are soft. After they are all soft, remove the bay leaves and discard. Blend with your stick blender, or in your blender. For a smoother soup run through a strainer.

It is ugly when it is done, but delicious.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coffee and Juice

I'm a coffee snob. We drink two types of coffee in our house Peets about ninety percent of the time, and Illy once in a great while. It is hard to find where we live. Both are amazing coffees, though I'll admit I'm partial to Peets. Having lived a block from the first Peets and spending three awesome years in the Bay area makes me love Peets.

We have two methods of making coffee in our house. The most common is the French Press. We also use an espresso machine, but ours is broken right now, so no espresso for us :( However a french press makes good coffee, and topped with a little fresh cream it is just perfect.

After I make coffee there is usually a bit left in the press. So I put that into an ice cube tray and put that in my freezer. It is great to have frozen coffee on hand for several reasons. First, who doesn't love iced or frozen coffee drinks. Second when you are making chocolate desserts they often call for things like 2 tablespoons strong coffee. And if you have ice cubes on hand, you'll have quick coffee to add to your desserts!

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Doesn't that look delightful. Easy too

8 coffee ice cubes
1 c. milk (whole is best here)

Blend. Drink. Now you can add some chocolate syrup or cream or sugar to give it a bit more sweetness. But I love just the coffee and milk, where you can appreciate the flavor of the coffee and the sweetness of the milk. If you would like to add chocolate syrup, I think 1 tablespoon is a good amount. Someday I'll share my homemade syrup recipe.

The other thing I love is Orange smoothies. The bee loves them too. (And she loves the coffee smoothies, but that makes me feel like a bad mom, so not to often!) I've tried this with vanilla yogurt and kefir, and ewww both were awful. We don't have these often at my house because I very seldom even have white sugar in the house, but boy howdy do I love them.

1/2 can orange juice concentrate
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar. I do use white sugar here, because brown sugar or honey gives it a funky flavor.
8 ice cubes

Blend until smooth.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

eggs, spinach and pesto

I love pesto. My love of pesto is to the point where I will gladly eat pesto, out of a bowl with a spoon. It isn't low fat by any stretch of the imagination, but it IS very good for you! The fat used is olive oil which is a miracle fat. Not to mention that it has pine nuts in it, (or walnuts if you prefer or can't get ahold of pine nuts) which are full of vitamin E, that is good for your skin and brain. I like a mint and basil mix, but you can use all basil which is delightful too. I usually plant a mint plant when I move in somewhere, and it grows like crazy, so this is a good way to use mint. But if you want pure basil pesto, just omit the mint and double the basil. A pure mint pesto is, intense, but very good on lamb also.

Basic Pesto:
1. cup basil
1. cup mint
1/2 c. parmesian (do not use the stuff from the green can, use real cheese!)
1/3 c. pine nuts toasted
2 cloves garlic (optional, I'm not a huge fan)
pepper to taste
apx 1/3 to 1/2 c. olive oil.

Okay the method is easy. First toast your pine nuts in a dry skillet over med high heat. Stir frequently, and watch VERY carefully as pine nuts will go from toasted to burnt in just a moment. And those things are expensive. Be careful!

Throw everything but the olive oil into your food processor and blend it up until it is like a grainy paste. Then with your food processor on, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. The final product should be a little thick and should hold the olive oil in, and not leach it out.

Pesto is SO versitle. Toss it with some pasta and chicken and you have a great dinner. Mix it with some mayo and spread it on a sandwich. It is just wonderful

But I like it for breakfast. I saute two cups of spinach with 1/2 of a small onion in some coconut oil or butter. Then fry an egg to over easy and put that on top of the spinach mix. Serve with a couple of tomato slices.

Yum

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our overall food philiosophy

I used to weigh over three hundred lbs. Yesterday I tipped the scales at 201, which isn't okay with me. So back on my exercise plan. I hate to exercise. I'll never be a size six, but thats okay with me. I just want to maintain health! I will NOT become diabetic again!

Okay, back on topic. I grew up on the Standard American Diet. My mom claims that she cooked for me, but about three nights a week we would have tuna and noodles. Boil a bag of egg noodles, throw in a can of cream of mushroom soup, throw in a can of tuna. Serve. No veggies, no fruit, nothing "real" except the tuna. Its no wonder that I was 310 lbs at 23 years old. I grew up eating like that, nothing fresh, all fake foods. I was even a pepsi drinker from a young age. My mom did breastfeed me for a few years, but that was all jacked up anyways, so it wasn't really the foundation of a healthy diet.

I realized that I had to change my eating habits, and I have to raise my children with better nutritional foundations that I had. I can't do to my kids, what was done to me and have them spending their twenties floundering around looking for what a healthy diet is.

Here is the basics of what we do and don't do in our home now, what I think is the healthiest diet.

Whole foods. I try to have fresh veggies and fruit at every meal. The only veggies that I don't serve cooked from either a fresh or frozen state are green beans and sometimes tomatoes. Perhaps it is my Italian mushy veggie background, or my midwestern upbringing, but I cannot stand fresh or frozen green beans. I like them straight of out the can warmed with butter. But we do try to have these whole fruits and veggies at every meal.

Whole freshly milled grains. Grains that are milled more than 24 hours in advance of cooking and eating lose MASSIVE amounts of nutrients. The oils in them also start to go rancid after a few short days. I also want to make sure that my breads, which are also served at every meal (not always eaten, but always offered) aren't filled with weird stuff. Flour, honey, yeast, milk, water, and salt (sometimes eggs) is it. Lots of different grains too. We eat all sorts of grains from barley, to rye, to wheat, to quinoia, to spelt. I like variety. Though beans aren't a grain, they fit in this section because they combine perfectly with grains to make a complete protein. And they are just yummy. Unless they are pinto beans, then they are gross and I hate them.

Raw dairy products. I think that raw dairy is really important for humans. We drink raw milk, eat raw milk cheese, raw milk yogurt, raw milk keifer (though I haven't made any in a LONG time) However with raw dairy it is VERY important that you know and trust your farmer. Make sure they are practicing clean catch and that their animals are tested for diseases every six to twelve months. Also you want your cows to be primarily grass fed. Grass fed cows produce higher levels of good fats and lower levels of bad ones.

Free range meats. Cows that eat grass. Chickens that eat grass and worms, and the eggs that come from those chickens. Fish that is wild and swims around in the ocean eating normal foods, not penned up in a cage on the coast sucking in all the undiluted pollution and eating fake foods. I think eating meat is a very important part of a healthy diet. I also believe there are some very serious health risks associated with a vegan diets. Of course we as Americans eat far to much meat. We don't need meat with every meal, nor do we need it every day. Learning to incorporate vegetarian meals into my diet has been great!

No pork or shellfish. Actually we try and follow the biblical standards for diet, though this is a new development as I'm feeling called to be more and more Torah observant. I feel like looking at only the new testament and ignoring the old is a grave mistake. God gave us his ENTIRE word, and he never said the NT voided the OT, just that Jesus was the fulfillment of it. I think God gave those laws for a reason, and that reason was to protect our health.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Are you KIDDING ME?!

Apparently big corn is having problems because more and more people don't want to eat High Fructose corn syrup. "Its fine in moderation" they say. Well, maybe.... But HCFS is void of any nutrients aside from calories, unlike Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar and dehydrated cane juice. It is absorbed into your blood stream very quickly, and causes spikes in blood sugar.

But beyond that it is everywhere. Most Americans eat quite a bit of processed foods, and almost all processed foods have HCFS in it. So if you are eating the Standard American Diet, moderation of HCFS isn't really an option.



Saturday, September 13, 2008

We went to visit a friend of ours today who lives about seventy miles east of us. This friend is who supplies us with milk, and also runs our grain co-op. They have a lovely farm, around twenty acres with cows, chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, and a defunct garden. They have five sons, all homeschooled, and like me they are passionate about healthy local "real" foods. Grinding grain and making bread is part of everyday life, just as is taking care of the farm and raising animals and food to feed their family. In the next few years they are planning on putting in fruit trees, and expanding their animals and garden.

We were talking about the bible, as they are our "brand" of Christian. Bible believing, verse by verse studying, take it literally and study at home types. Like us they have been very frustrated with the church in America as of late. This seeker friendly mega church milk only body that is all about fluff and media and pleasure, not about really digging into the word of Christ.

So we started to discuss Acts 2 a bit. In the Book of Acts Chapter 2 Jesus has just ascended to heaven, and the church is left behind. Peter gives a pretty cool sermon, then we read what the church was like in verses 42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


Do we see anything like this in the American church today? I know I've seen in a few times, heard tell of a few Christian communes or deliberate Christian communities, but for the most part does this picture look like your church? Does it look like your friends, or your church family?

I see a LOT of people in the church who are taking taking taking. They are taking entertainment on sunday morning, they are taking fluffy sermons and doing nothing with them, they are taking part of their tithe and using it to fund their lifestyle.

But do we really gather together, and share everything we have? Do you see how these people EVERY DAY gathered together. They sold their possessions and gave to anyone who had needs. The church was a hippie commune! I can just see them coming together everyday, one would bring a surplus of figs from their tree, another a windfall of grain, and a third some extra oil. They would divide up their bounty with anybody who needed anything, and praise God.

Do we do that in the Christian church today? To often I see the church, myself included, giving their ten percent and not a penny more. We NEED that money you see, to pay our cable bill, or for our cell phones, or the new portable DVD player for our car.

So, the sailor and I do what we can with what we have. We don't live extravagant lifestyles, we live pretty simply. We don't have cell phones, or the newest televisions or the nicest clothes. We live a comfortable lifestyle for sure, perhaps a little to comfortable honestly. As we continually look at ourselves in an effort to make ourselves more like Jesus wants us we realize there is much we can give up in our own lives to help others.

But we have decided on a few long term goals. One is to attempt to live deliberately in a community, especially once he is out of the military. I say after that because it is very very difficult to establish community with people who are moving on in six months. There is a camaraderie for sure, but not the time it takes to develop true community.

We plan on living in an urban setting of sorts, perhaps in a smaller city, but we'll see. We want to live in the city, or a small town, not in the suburbs. We want to raise chickens, fruit and vegetables and share our bounty with those who live around us. We want to be able to practically provide food for people in need, and show the love of Christ in a tangible way. But we hope to have a body of fellow believers living the same type of lifestyle.

When I was a kid the woman across the street had a pear tree. She would let everybody from the neighborhood take their fill of those amazing heirloom pears. We canned for weeks these pears and shared our canned pears back with Mrs. Fanning. Down the street someone had plums, and another person had a huge strawberry patch in the spring. Everybody would share their bounty and because we all had a variety, we all had everything.

That's what we want in our future.

Now we just have to find, or build, our community.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tortilliaish soup.

Yeah, tortillaish isn't a word, but whatever.

I love soup. That being said I HATE vegetables. But I don't have a death wish so I eat them as often as I can stand. Being Italian I also like my veggies mushy. Unlike the crazy French who like them tender crisp, us Italians cook our veggies until they are almost mashable. Nothing I can stand worse than crisp tender green beans. Ew.

Okay, so soup gives me a great outlet to use lots of veggies and not dwell on the fact that I'm eating vegetables.

I call this soup tortillaish because it is based on Chicken Tortilla soup, but packed with veggies. I've also used firm tofu chunks and vegetable stock in place of the chicken and chicken stock before and gotten really good results!

Start with good chicken stock. I make my own as often as possible, but sometimes don't have any. I always have a couple of boxes of chicken stock in the cupboard. When you are using homemade chicken stock you ALWAYS want to make sure that it boils for a few minutes to kill off any germies that might have wormed their way in there.

I typically use about 12 cups of stock for this soup because it has lots of stuff in it.

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Look at that stocky goodness. Isn't it beautiful. Ooooooooo

Okay so to the stock I add 1 large or 2 small onions,
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 bag frozen corn
2 cups salsa
3 T. cumin (I adore cumin)
2 T. chili powder
2 zucchini chunked
2 yellow squash chunked
1 T. oregano, dried is fine here
Salt and pepper to taste
whatever other veggies I have that need to be cooked

simmer for about an hour until the veggies are really tender. Serve with shredded Monterrey jack cheese, sour cream, or avocado chunks (my personal fav) Traditionally it is served with broken up tortilla chips, but I don't like this because it is hard to find good tortilla chips that aren't fried in lard, which we don't eat because it is a pork product, and I don't like the flavor of tortilla chips fried in canola or corn oil.

ETA: I just threw some a can of black beans in there cause it was looking a little thin. OH MY GOODNESS, great addition! I don't like Pinto beans, but perhaps those could work too? I wouldn't go with white beans, to creamy in texture and flavor

Friday, September 5, 2008

a word about honey

Don't give honey to children under two. Raw or pasteurized. Just don't do it. There is a botulism risk and it could be fatal.

You can find raw honey at most health food stores. If you don't have a local health food store ask around and see if anybody keeps bees that you can buy from. County fairs almost always have a honey competition and you can also contact your county extension office.

For local co-ops check out Local Harvest

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pumpkin Maple Granola

So I mentioned earlier that the cool breeze made me realize fall is actually going to come. Despite the fact that outside the heat index is 101, and inside it probably isn't all that much cooler, my house smells like cinnamon and ginger and cloves and pumpkin. I love fall and can seldom wait for fall to actually start cooking fall seasonal foods! I usually try to cook in season, but how can you resist pumpkin pie in may. I can't

Ingredients:
4 1/2 heaping cups of rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
3/4 c chopped pecans
1 c. slivered almonds
1 pint pumpkin, or 1 can of pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling
1/2 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 c. honey
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. maple extract

A few words on these ingredients. I like organic thick cut oats. It gives a little more umph to my granola. I also make sure that my pecans are raw (and in a few weeks I can start to get them local and fresh again!) Raw almonds are illegal in the U.S. now, so I just get organic almonds. Most years I have my own canned pumpkin, but I didn't put any up last fall, so I use just organic canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is an amazing invention and is just as good as fresh in my opinion. It is one of the canned foods that holds its flavor and texture beautifully when canned. We only use organic butter in our house. sometimes I make it myself, but I never cook with homemade butter cause it is just so yummy on bread. Many fats and hormones are stored in fat, so it makes sense that I would want fats that were organic. Also sea salt is good and holds minerals that table or kosher salt doesn't.

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Someday I'll blog on honey and how awesome honey is. But for now I'll say this. I use raw, unfiltered, local honey. I also eat a teaspoon every day for allergies. Honey rocks. Pasteurized honey that you get from the store is useless and you may as well eat white sugar. But if you don't have access to raw local honey, go ahead and use the stuff that comes in a bear. Be warned local honey is almost always dramatically cheaper.

So the method is easy. Mix together the oats and nuts in one bowl. Mix together everything else in another bowl until it is very smooth, then pour into the oat mixture and stir until it is well mixed. Spread out into a thinnish layer on a sheet pan or two and put into a 325 degree oven. Depending on your oven and the humidity it should be done in thirty to forty five minutes. It should feel fairly dry, but not brittle.

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to store, let cool completely, and then put it in a covered bowl or jar. We use plastic in our house sparingly, so i usually store everything in a mason jar.

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Popcorn

Popcorn with curry, nutritional yeast and olive oil is really yummy.

Just thought you should know.

the nutritional yeast tastes kinda like cheese

a cool breeze

Yesterday at my friends farm picking up my grain order there was a cool breeze. Cool enough that I wanted to cover Huck's little legs with a blanket.

While this morning it is already (at 9:00 a.m.) eighty three degrees with a heat index of ninety one, I know that fall is coming. I felt that delightful breeze yesterday, almost like an answer to a prayer.

So now my granola changes from using applesauce and oil as a binder, to a spicier mixture with pumpkin and oil as a binder. I want to try and use a nut oil as a binder sometime instead of canola oil. Olive oil, well that is just nasty with granola.

I'll let you know how it goes with the new granola! Oh sweet fall, come soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Questions

I've gotten quite a few questions about my kitchen and I'll be addressing them as they add up :)

Q: Will you come be my personal chef?
A: Sure! Sounds fun!

Q: Why do you mill your own wheat?
A: Because freshly milled wheat is much healthier than any wheat you buy on the store shelves. First off even "whole grain" wheat on the store shelves is missing part of the grain that is fatty because it will go rancid if it is left out more than about three days. Also A, B, and K vitamins that are in whole grains are destroyed a couple of days after milling. But freshly milled grain tastes much better and is overall cheaper than buying whole wheat from the store. However you have to buy your grain in bulk (usually)

Q: Do you use a breadmaker
A: No, nor will I use a breadmaker. I like to kneed my bread in my kitchen aid mixer or by hand when I'm stressed. If the bee has been having a rough day we can make and kneed bread together and it will calm both of us down. Not only that but I enjoy the feeling of communion with the billions of women who came before me, spending their days kneading bread. It is almost a connection with the past and a less stressful time. I also think that bread tastes better if baked in an open oven and develops a better crust.

Q: Where do you get your wheat?
A: I get my wheat from a Georgian company called Bread Beckers I participate in a co-op and get a small discount. You can also buy whole wheat berries online in bulk at stores like whole foods and online too. Make sure if you are buying online that you are buying "triple washed" berries and know that you aren't going to be finding pebbles in your wheat.

Q: What kind of mill do you use?
A: I use a
Family grain mill. I have the hand cranked model, which works great. I can grind about seven pounds of flour in about fifteen minutes, but it is a workout! I got the attachment for my kitchen aid mixer and let my kitchen aid do the work for me, usually. It grinds a very small grind for bread, and will also grind large enough for cracked wheat for cereal. To get the best bread grind, I run the wheat through twice, once as whole berries and once as flour. I also like this mill because of the attachments you can purchase, Meat grinder, oat flaker, and slicer shredder. I'll be able to buy whole oat groats, and make oatmeal fresh for my family! I can't wait! I chose this mill over some of the more expensive models for a few reasons. First it has a hand crank option which could come in very handy should we lose power for an extended period of time. Second it has a kitchen aid attachment, and third it has some great attachments.

Q: Do you use white flour for anything
A: Not really. Whole wheat flour is much healthier for you, and does everything that white flour does, but makes bread a little denser. Yes, I love a beautiful loaf of good white bread with a crunchy loaf. I haven't perfected that with whole wheat yet, and I'm not sure I can, but I'm going to keep trying!

Q: Do you use white sugar?
A: Once in a while. I do have some in the house, unlike white flour, but I don't use it for much anymore. I use Honey most of the time with dehydrated cane juice coming in second. I'll also use maple syrup and agave nectar to sweeten too. I'll make a full post about this eventually.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stale bread

I frequently have stale bread in my house as I try to make bread fresh almost every day. There are a few things that I regularly do with my bread, bread crumbs and Panzanella (which I did make today also and will blog about later) and every once in a while I'll make a strata.

I adore strata. A few years ago, a few months before we found out about the bee, the sailor and I went to Tahoe to go skiing. We stayed at this cute bed and breakfast that was run by a ski bum looking for work that would leave him plenty of ski time, and he came up with this strata. While The recipe isn't exactly his, it is a recreation of what he cooked. I've got one very important change, and that is the bread that I use as well as the sweetener. I only use freshly milled whole wheat bread, and honey as a sweetener in this dish and it is delightful

First you want your bread cut into bite sized cubes, and make sure the bread is stale, but not super hard. If you don't have stale bread you can cut your bread up the night before and leave it on a tray on your counter and you'll have stale bread cubes in the morning. Then you need to make a custard base.

Custard is quite possibly the most perfect food ever, and so very versatile. I usually have enough bread to fill a two quart casserole dish, so it usually takes about three large eggs, which usually equals around 3/4 of a cup of eggs. Mix that very will with 3/4 of a cup of milk. then soak your bread until all the custard is absorbed in the bread. If there is any dry or hard bread left, add more custard mix of equal parts of egg and whole milk. You want to make sure your bread is wholly saturated with the custard mixture.

I also sweeten this with honey, usually about 1/3 of a cup of raw wildflower or raw tupelo honey. Tupelo honey is delicious but hard to get outside of the Florida panhandle. It never crystallizes which is kinda nice. The reason I use honey is because it is much healthier for you than white or brown sugar, both of which we almost never use in our home. Though there is nothing in the world that will stand in for white sugar on creme brulee

Okay so you have your sweetened custardy bread and it is looking delightful in a bowl. Then you add a bag of frozen blueberries. I use frozen unthawed blueberries because you can find them year round, they are harvested right as they are ripe, and almost always taste better than the crappy berries you can find in the store fresh, plus they are usually cheaper!

Then add a weird ingredient, but it works so well. Shredded or chunked swiss cheese. Yup, swiss cheese. The kind with the holes and a slightly sweetly sour bite. Aged swiss is best. Today I used Jarlsburg because that is what I had on hand.

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Mix it up, and bake in a 2 qt casserole pan on 350 for about 1 hour. Then remove the cover and let the top get all crispy and bubbly. It will rise when it is in the oven and puff up. Serve with vanilla yogurt or heavy cream. Also yummy with some maple syrup.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

vegetable curry

I love curry. I love it. Sadly the east Indian population in the Florida panhandle is non existant and I have had to resort to making Indian flavored food myself.

This dish isn't pretty when it is done, but it is sooooo yummy

I always serve it with long grain brown rice. I like jasmine rice if you can find it, but brown jasmine rice is hard to find! So I just use generic brown rice.

Make your rice however you make your rice.

For the curry. First take about two tablespoons of curry powder or garam masala and toast it in a dry pan until it is fragrant. I usually throw in some cumin also, about one tablespoon. This really brings out the flavor of the curry.

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Remove the curry from the pan and set aside. Then saute one onion and four cloves of garlic in some fat. Ghee is the traditional Indian fat, but I don't usually keep Ghee on hand, so I just use canola oil. Rice oil, while hard to find, is really yummy also. Add to the pan whatever vegetables you like. I usually have cauliflower, green beans, and canned tomatoes, as well as garbanzo beans. I like garbanzo beans in this because I like the flavor and texture. They are also a traditional Indian bean.

I almost always use canned tomatoes when I'm cooking something with tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are delightful, when they are in season and fully ripe. However canned tomatoes are really healthy too and far more delicious than out of season farmed yucky tomatoes. I'm not a big fan of canned foods in general, but canned tomatoes and canned beans have a large place in my cupboard.

Okay, so you add your veggies to the pan (don't drain the tomatoes), then add back your curry powder and then add a can of coconut milk. You can make fresh coconut milk if you want to. I don't. Cook until the veggies are tender and serve over brown rice. The rice and beans in the same meal provide a complete protein too, so this is a great vegetarian option!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Butternut squash soup

I have a dear connection here. There is a farm in Alabama where I get amazing stuff, for very very low prices. The woman who runs it gave me TONS of blueberries earlier this year, enough to put up two dozen pints of blueberry jam and make a couple of blueberry pies and a few dozen blueberry muffins that are in the freezer to pop in the toaster oven in the morning for a quick breakfast.

Well this woman has butternut squash in season right now. I ADORE butternut squash and hers are a beautiful deep orange inside with a sweet and musky aroma. Oh they are amazing. She isn't organic, but she never sprays any of her stuff, she says she just grows it until it is ready to eat. Well I got fifteen butternut squash a few weeks ago for less than five dollars! And yesterday while I was preparing for Fay (which never came) I roasted them!

The easiest way to make butternut squash is to simply roast it in the oven. Cut the stem off the squash then cut it in half lengthwise. Put it cut side down in a 350 oven until the squash is very tender. I can't give times for this since every squash is different in size and tenderness when you first put it in. But when your house starts to smell delightfully like fall, you know it is about time. Take your squash out when it is tender and let it set for about ten minutes. While it is still really REALLY warm, almost to hot to touch scrape out the meat. It will leave the skin pretty regularly when it is hot, but gets much harder when it is cooled.

Now I had a LOT of squash at this point in a big huge bowl. I took a few cups and put it in the blender with some water and then poured that into ice cube trays for baby food for Huckleberry in a few months. He'll be ready for squash in two or three months (I believe firmly in spoon feeding babies around six to eight months, I've seen the research for only letting them do finger foods and I don't agree with it) I then put 8 pints of squash into the freezer for later use.

But the soup. Oh the soup. I get so excited at this soup every year. I stole the basics for the recipe from the back of the Williams-Sonoma jar of butternut squash puree. But you get a tiny jar of butternut squash for like ten dollars, so forget that.

For the soup:
1/2 stick of butter You can use canola oil, but I don't recommend olive oil as it gives the soup a weird flavor. Butter is best. You can also use bacon drippings which are delightful, but we don't eat pork in our house and for health reasons I don't recommend using bacon drippings
2 cooking apples. I almost always use granny smith because they are very easy to find
1 1/2 large sweet onions. Do not use red, white, or plain small yellow onions. You can use shallots in place of the sweet onions, but I like the sweet onions
Saute all of those until they are really tender, but don't allow them to brown. I usually do them on med low heat for close to half an hour, stirring frequently

Next add the meat from about two squash, apx 4 or 5 cups and stir it all together well

Then add some chicken or vegetable stock. I like to use homemade stock, but if you don't have homemade, the stuff in a box will work. I usually add about 3/4 as much stock as squash. This soup is meant to be thick.

Next you want to add your spices. Salt first, apx 2 teaspoons. Cinnamon apx 2 or 3 teaspoons. Ginger powder 1 teaspoon. And dried sage 2 tsp. I don't like fresh sage here because it never blends well enough later, and I don't like biting into a small piece of sage, to much sage flavor.

Finally add some white wine, about 1/2 of a cup of a medium dry to dry white. Gew├╝rztraminer is by far the best choice as it pairs really well with butternut squash, which is hard to pair. Make sure you are buying a wine you would drink, and drink it with your soup!

Cook it all together for ten to fifteen minutes then blend. The easiest way to blend is with a stick blender. Just put that puppy in there and blend away. If you don't have a stick blender you can also blend it in batches in your blender. If you want to get really super fancy about it use a chinois. But honestly that is overkill for most home cooks.

Now if your soup is a bit thick you might want to add a bit more warm stock to the soup.

Serve topped with some yogurt, or creme fraiche, or sour cream, or even Mexican table cream. I've also topped it with sauteed apples and onions before.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yogurt

I love yogurt. It is quite possibly one of my favorite foods, and I love homemade yogurt. Not only do I save a ton of money making it myself, but it tastes so much better that way! Plus I'm reusing glass containers so I'm not worried about funky chemicals leeching into my or my kids yogurt, nor am I worried about adding waste to the environment.

I usually make yogurt on Mondays. It just seems to be the day we need it and sure enough I used my last container of yogurt today to make breakfast for the bee. I took my yogurt, threw in some canned mandarin oranges and some fresh blueberries and she went to town. She likes plain yogurt too, no sugar, no fruit. Since we don't eat much food with unnatural white sugar in it, she doesn't have a super sweet tooth.

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Yogurt is so versatile in my kitchen. I strain the whey out of it and make yogurt cheese which I then use to spread on bread. I use it to make smoothies of course. Throw in an overripe frozen banana and some frozen berries and maybe a touch of maple syrup. The perfect afternoon "milkshake" for the bee! Or her mom.... You can use it in place of buttermilk if you want some tangy flavor in pancakes or waffles. Seriously just do a google search on yogurt and see what you get. amazing sauces too! Greeks and Indians do AMAZING things with yogurt.

Yogurt is high in protein, good fats (if you use unhomogenized milk), and all those probiotics that our digestive tracts crave. The bee has only had two stomach bugs in her short little life, which is pretty amazing for a two year old who was formula fed! I've made sure she gets plenty of probiotics from the beginning, and she has always had great health. I think a lot of that has to do with the yogurt she eats on a regular basis.

Easy to make too, and MUCH cheaper than store bought. My yogurt costs me between 25 and thirty cents a cup, where the organic in the store is at least one dollar a cup, usually more. I have a friend who makes coconut milk/cashew milk yogurt all the time too! There are great vegan yogurt options out there too!

Homemade yogurt:

1 quart organic, raw (if possible) or unhomogenized milk
1 T. yogurt from a previous batch or 1 package yogurt starter

There you go, that is your ingredient list!
bring your milk to 160 degrees. Do NOT let it get above that or boil. Bring temperature back down to 110 degrees and then mix the starter or the yogurt with a half a cup of milk and stir until well blended. Mix the milk/starter back into the entire milk quantity and then you can put it into small containers in a yogurt maker, or a quart jar in a warm oven overnight. Warm oven is an oven with the pilot light on. I also know people that wrap a towel around a mason jar, wrap that with a heating pad on low, and wrap it again with a towel. I wouldn't do this overnight though because I'm scared of fire. Leave it for 10-12 hours and then refrigerate. Easy

Thursday, August 14, 2008

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This is how I start my day about four days a week. I put wheat berries into my grain mill and hook it up to my reliable kitchen aid and mill. Then I make bread.

And It is wonderful

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

turning off the AC

I'm hot.

I'm sick today, so is the bee. Lots of tummy pangs and a slight fever. ewwwww

So we bumped up the AC in our house again and now we are sitting at 86 degrees during the day, though I have to have it at 74 to sleep at night. I truly don't think I can go an INCH higher, and it always clicks on around five in the afternoon anyways. The kids run around in just diapers because it is hot.

Florida sucks.

Why are we doing this? For one, we are cheap cheap cheap people. I hate to pay for ANYTHING, especially cooled air which is such a crazy luxury. Most people in the world, do just fine with it, their bodies just acclimate to the heat.

But beyond that we are trying to limit our use of oil and energy as much as possible. I don't believe in global warming. Especially in light of the fact that in the past ten years temperatures haven't warmed AT ALL, and this past year they have actually fallen globally. I DO however believe that as humans we have a responsibility to the earth to take care of it. I think that humans have caused major problems with their pollution, dead spots in the oceans, mercury levels that are INSANE in rivers and oceans, use of pestacides that cause cancer, etc... So I believe that we should try and limit our usage of energy if possible.

I also think we have to do this for national and global security. Russia is at war with Georgia right now, and it is TOTALLY over oil! I will not comment publicly anymore about US actions because of my husbands job, though I will say that I always support our troops and am grateful for what they do! I do believe in peak oil, and I think that nations will REALLY start to go to war for oil fairly soon. I would rather this be later than sooner, and I feel like perhaps by turning up my AC I can make a small difference.

Friday, August 8, 2008

GMO sugar ew

So GMO beet sugar will be hitting cereals made by Kellogg and Hershey's products. Not that we eat those products a lot as it is, but now even less.

It is pretty darn obvious to me that we shouldn't screw with Nature. No matter your view on God, I think we can ALL agree that a normal everyday tomato is much healthier for you than one that has been changed and created in a lab.

If you aren't familiar with
genetically modified organism go and research. Basically big food companies are screwing with the plants that we eat to make them more resistant to disease, herbicides and able to produce FAR more sugar like the sugar beets mentioned above as well as corn syrup.

Many if not most commercial packaged foods contain GMO ingredients. This is one of the MANY MANY reasons that we avoid prepackaged foods if at all possible.

This is also one of the MANY MANY reasons I'm looking forward to being more settled for a few years so I can garden again! Oh I miss my garden!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

black bean soup

I ADORE black bean soup. Like I dream about it sometimes is how much I adore it. And the bee will take any kind of bean and eat them up no problem. Sometimes when I'm feeling lazy I'll open a can of garbanzo beans and throw them in a sauce pan with a little bit of olive oil and a LOT of cumin and some salt. Oh my goodness it is SO GOOD! Inspired by my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant In the spring, for like two seconds they have fresh garbanzo beans IN THE POD covered with cumin and fried and you have to suck the beans out of the pod. It was seriously one of the bees first foods. She ate a TON of them and that was a gross few days, okay TMI. ewwwwww geesh Okay back on topic


Okay back to the black bean soup. I'll be making Saturday, but I'm planning today. I've got some awesome friends coming into town tomorrow and I don't know what plans will be like for food tomorrow, so the soup for lunch on Saturday. I'll post pictures of it after I make it. Black bean soup is another of my favorite lazy meals. it is so so easy!

Oh but it is SUPER easy, and really good for you. Beans are full of fiber and protein and all sorts of stuff that makes your body happy. However beans aren't a full protein so you need to eat them with some sort of grain. Think rice and beans, or cornbread and beans or my awesome bread that I made today and beans. All good stuff. My black bean soup and a piece of cornbread maybe with a dollop of sour cream. Oh I'm so excited.

If you are concerned with gas or aren't used to eating beans an overnight soak will really help with this problem. However if you eat enough beans your body will adjust and you'll be able to process them better.

Black bean soup by me.

Soak 1 lb black beans overnight.
Discard soaking liquid
Cover beans with water, just enough to cover them.
Cook on a simmer for about three hours, until soft.
drain, reserving liquid
process 2/3 of the beans in a food processer or blender until well blended, adding some liquid back if necissary
Open a can of your favorite salsa and dump that in
maybe two if you want some added spice
adjust liquid with the bean liquor till it is how it looks good to you
top with some sour cream and chives or green onions

A milk question

Anyway, I don't give my son milk (he's 2) but he really wanted some rice milk today--and drank it right down. Have you read anything that would give cause for concern about Rice Dream milk?


Okay, I am NOT a nutrition expert, or a dietitian or anything like that so make sure you talk to a physician and do your own research before you take my advice :)

Rice milk, isn't milk or related to milk. It is a carbohydrate product and doesn't contain any of the protein, fat, or vitamins and minerals that milk contains. So if you aren't giving your child cow or goat milk, you need to make sure your child is getting enough fats, proteins, and calcium from other sources. Remember also that vitamin D and A are added to all commercial milks, so you want to make sure that your child is getting those also. Most people can get enough vitamin D from the sunshine during the summer months, but in much of the country some need to supplement during the winter months.

Young children especially need a LOT of fat in their diet. If you look at breast milk, it is almost 50% fat as is infant formula. Fat, especially saturated fat, is essential for healthy brain development in children and infants. I think that the USDA guidelines to reduce fat at the age of two needs to be revised. A high fat diet is perfectly healthy for children beyond the age of two if they have a diet that is VERY low in processed foods, and high in whole natural foods. My two year old is not skinny, but far far far from fat (as can be confirmed by anybody who has seen her in person Michelle, comment LOL) She still eats a lot of butter, coconut oil, whole milk, etc... If she starts to show signs of gaining weight in an unnatural way, then I'll look at her diet again, but for now she is fine on a higher fat diet.

I would like to discuss raw milk, but in my state it is legal for pet consumption only. So I encourage you to check out the real milk website and make an informed decision on milk.

If you are concerned about the hormones and chemicals in milk, I encourage you to buy organic milk! We will not drink milk, or eat dairy products that are not from organic cows. I will not feed my children, or myself foods that could be loaded with extra hormones! I've got enough hormone issues in my body, I don't need to compound it.

I've got mixed feelings on soy milk. I think that soy can be a valuable additive to our diet, but needs to be used like all things in moderation. I don't like commercial soy milk, and much prefer homemade soy milk. I'll make up a batch of soy milk in the next few weeks and post about it then!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

French Toast

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You can once again see my love for bananas as I have to add them to everything!

This morning I made french toast, which is an easy breakfast that has lots of flavor and protein!

There is nothing easier than french toast, and since my mom is coming into town today I needed some comfort food! Breakfast usually isn't this heavy in my house, especially in the summer, but today, well comfort food was needed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gardasil and paralysis

So I've been reading about gardasil and how it has been causing some paralysis amongst girls who have gotten it.

It pisses me off. Here is this big pharmaceutical company who is looking to make a TON of money off of this, and they pushed it through the FDA quickly because it prevents cancer oh my.

I've got several problems with this. First, can we PLEASE teach our children the realities of sex. I think that with sexual freedom, especially the sexual freedom of the past few years, girls are ignoring safety in sex. And I'm in favor of abstinence teaching, but we also have to face the reality that we live in a sexual culture and people are going to have sex. Can we please focus on abstinence being the safest bet, but if you aren't going to be abstinent here is how to be safe. And can we PLEASE tell young people that it can be DANGEROUS to have sex with multiple partners. We should be encouraging monogamy and limiting your sexual desires! But I think we live in this era of McDonalds instant gratification and it has taken away the use of your brain when it comes to sex.

So because of this unsafe attitude toward sex, we have lots of girls getting HPV. Well drug companies see a chance to make money, and they get this on the market with very few test cases. But they can use the scare tactic that you'll get cancer without this vaccine. Well maybe. But once again if we were teaching our kids about safe sex and LIMITING YOUR PARTNERS, then we wouldn't be facing such a big crisis either.

I wouldn't get my child this vaccine, though I would make her aware of a HPV vaccine and if she would choose to get it, fine. But what I want to encourage in my children is healthy choices. And that includes limiting your sexual desires, a choice it seems fewer and fewer teens are making these days.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

money money money

So I've in three posts gotten the money question twice :)

Okay here goes.

I'll start with the wheat. I buy my wheat in bulk and mill it myself. Since I bake my own bread I'm looking at a little over one dollar a loaf. Even wonderbread is more expensive than that, and wonderbread just kills your body. Now there is a large initial investment to get started with fresh milled grains. You need a grain mill (and I'll blog eventually on what ones I like and why) and you need grain. A six gallon bucket is right around fifty lbs of grain, and can be had for around 35 dollars a bucket for conventional and 45 for organic. I will spend the extra if we have it on the organic, since we do eat a loaf of bread every other day or so.

The milk I purchase is the same price as organic milk in the grocery store. So no worries there, I just get mine from the farmer.

My eggs are also from the farmer, and are a little more expensive than supermarket eggs, but they taste SO GOOD. I'm paying around 3.25 for a dozen of eggs right now.

I purchase meat in bulk. Last summer we bought 1/4 of a side of beef. The beef was fully pastured and had never been given any grain. No it wasn't organic, but the farmer just let the cows eat his unsprayed fields like nature intended. He didn't want to get certified organic because of the hassle of the government, but this beef is organic, without the title. No hormones, no antibiotics, no pesticides. This was a five hundred dollar initial expense, but the meat was 2.50 a lb! We are getting amazing rib eye steaks for only 2.50 a lb. If you can buy meat in bulk it will save you a TON of money!

We did the same with chickens, but our farmer was a liar and screwed us, so I don't want to talk about my chickens LOL

The area that is the hardest for me is produce. We do use a lot of frozen veggies because organic frozen veggies are cheaper than fresh. It was so cheap and easy to do organic produce when we lived in Oakland, but here it is tough. However there are some great local farms around here that once again aren't certified organic, but don't spray their crops. There is one bio dynamic farm that I'm really excited to work with who is starting a buying club. Most places in the country have some local farms and you can find them at Local Harvest

A big way to make a dent in your food budget is to eat in season and preserve your food if possible. Tomatoes in august are a joy, but tomatoes from the supermarket in February taste awful for three times the price. So take your tomatoes in august and put them up and enjoy the yumminess in February.

But a big part of it for us is we don't do "extras" in our life. No cell phone, temp on the AC set at eighty, open windows as often as we can, driving as little as possible etc... Because we are frugal in other areas of our life we do have a bit more wiggle room on our food budget. Even with that our entire food budget for the four of us is right around five hundred dollars a month.

it is to hot!

It is HOT where I live. Really, really hot. I know the navy will take me away from this hotness eventually, but right now, it is BLAZING hot in this town.

So what do you do when it is hot. Not much! And the most important thing is you cook outside if you can.

So I decided on a quick and easy grilled dinner of chicken apple sausages, eggplant, tomato avocado salad, and grilled bananas for dessert. I did use commercial chicken apple sausages and commercial whole wheat hot dog buns. I'm planning on tackling homemade buns in the next few weeks, but it has been a long day, so we used the name brand "whole wheat" ones.

First the tomato avocado salad

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I had a couple of tomatoes on my counter that needed to be used yesterday probably. They were from a local farmer and SO SO good! There is nothing better than a real ripe tomato in the middle of the summer that has been allowed to ripen on the vine. I also picked up a couple of avocados at the store today. When I make this salad I always get avocados that are still fairly firm to the touch. While you want to have the skin yield, only slightly so that the avocado holds its texture in the salad and it doesn't turn into guacamole. Basically it is diced avocado and diced tomato with freshly milled sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little olive oil. I almost always add fresh cilantro, but for some reason I didn't buy any today. I don't have an herb garden, even in pots here, because our time here is so unstable. We could be moving with little or no notice in the next couple of months, or be here another year.

Now onto my FAVORITE way to eat eggplant

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I always salt my eggplant an hour or so before I cook it. Lay the pieces out and liberally sprinkle kosher salt all over them. It helps to remove the bitterness and makes them nice and creamy when you cook them.

Get your grill nice and hot for this one. While the grill is heating make a marinade out of olive oil, dry thyme, and very fine chopped garlic. Use a basting brush and paint the eggplant and place oil side down on the hot flame. while it is cooking paint the other side. The garlic gets crispy and delightful! We have this ONCE A WEEK, it is so good!

I am a huge banana person and seriously would eat like four a day if I could!
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these guys don't look so appealing, but ohhhhh are they lovely. They are even better with vanilla or chocolate ice cream. take your bananas and split them in half, then again lengthways. then pour a bit of honey on the flat side of the banana. Sprinkle on top of that some sugar (I use turbanado for this, succanat is WAY to strong) and cinnamon. let that set for a while to "melt" Then put them flat side down on a HOT grill. Usually they get lovely grill marks, but I was in a hurry tonight to get my bananas!

There we go. A delicious and healthy dinner for my family! Yummy

Whole wheat Banana Pancakes

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This morning we had a DELIGHTFUL breakfast of whole wheat banana pancakes. The grain I used was a soft wheat, freshly milled of course. Soft white wheat has as VERY mild flavor, unlike for example hard red wheat, which has the nutty flavor commonly associated with whole wheat. I used these amazing eggs I found locally and the bee helped me mix the milk mixture up.

When I'm making pancakes I really like to use sour milk. I'm not talking the putrid milk that happens to pasteurized milk, but the gentle souring of raw milk. If you are at all concerned about the souring of milk, just remember than you are cooking your pancakes high enough temperatures to kill any buggies that might be hanging out in your sour milk. If you don't have any sour milk, buttermilk makes a wonderful substitute. I seldom make buttermilk so I seldom have it on hand.

I fried these puppies up in some sweet butter. I like the little bit extra saltiness that the sweet butter adds to the crunch on the outside.

you can use any pancake recipe that you have, though for pancakes I don't generally use a recipe, but I'll try and translate what I did for banana pancakes.

2 c. freshly milled soft wheat flour
1 T. baking powder (use and Aluminum free one)
1 t. salt (I use milled sea salt)
2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. sour milk or buttermilk
2 large eggs (fresh, organic, pastured if possible)
1 T. Honey or evaporated cane juice
1 t. vanilla
3 very ripe bananas, thinly sliced

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet together in another bowl. add wet to dry and stir until JUST MOISTENED all the way. If you stir longer the pancakes will get tough. Mix in the banana slices. Fry on med low in butter until tops look 'dry' then flip.

You can also use this exact same recipe and replace the bananas with blueberries or other berries. I almost always have a bunch of frozen berries in my freezer and I don't even bother to thaw them, just toss a few on top of every pancake as I put it on the griddle.

the Beginning of a new blog

Some of you may have stumbled here from my my adoption blog/life blog and some may have found me by google searching freshly milled grain, or whole wheat baking, or something of the sort. No matter how you stumbled across this blog, welcome!

This is primarily my food blog. Now within food blogging I also talk about issues that I'm passionate about, including organics, local eating, freshly milled grains, free range animals treated and killed in humane manners, raw milk, etc... Also I'll be talking about green living, which is so my kids can grow up in a chemical free environment, and hopefully pass that on to their children. Preparedness is a topic that I'm finding myself more and more passionate about, as I see some coming collapse to our way of life. I want to make sure that my family and those around me can eat if we lose our food resource. Hopefully with our next move I'll be able to have the garden and chickens that I so often dream of!

We have made a pretty big change in our house and kitchen in the past few years. I think we probably eat close to 90% whole foods. I grind my own wheat for bread. I can and freeze food in season. We don't use white flour and we use VERY VERY little white sugar (though I have not found a good substitute for powdered sugar yet.) We eat butter, real butter, sometimes homemade. We use real cream in our coffee. We eat beef that was raised on grass and not grain, and eat eggs that come from chickens that wander around pecking at the dirt and eating grubs, and those eggs have bright yolks that are a vivid orange.

So there we go.

Welcome