Monday, August 31, 2009

Coconut Oil Update

Lat week, I posted about how our family has added coconut oil to our diet and that we were beginning to see some of the purported benefits in our lives. In the week since that post, we've begun to see even more benefits to our health. These benefits include fewer food cravings, fewer mood swings, more energy and I even think it may be helping with allergies!!

Hubby and I put coconut oil in our coffee (did you see my pretty new cup?). Earlier this week, I just stopped putting sugar in my coffee, cold turkey, and I don't miss it one little bit :o) Yay!! Love, love, love coconut oil! For as long as I can remember, I've struggled with carb addiction, with all of the accompanying mood swings and food cravings. The coconut oil really has helped cut out the cravings and the mood swings. I still have to pay attention to what I'm doing or else I might find myself mindlessly eating, but as long as I catch it before I do it, avoiding unnecessary eating is not difficult, though it used to be very difficult.

Thanks to the coconut oil, I'm eating less and I feel great! I have more energy (I have the energy to do something physical every day, which I didn't just two weeks ago), less stress (I cannot get over how calm Bryan & I both feel), we are sleeping better at night and I think it is even preventing some allergy/ sinus issues. When we visit our hometown, we usually come home with sinus issues that are allergy related and that take about a week or so to clear up. We just got home yesterday and none of us have any congestion. The only thing that was different about this visit was the coconut oil. Could that really be what kept us from getting sick?

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionist. I am just a mom who reads a lot, both on the internet and in books. Don't take my word for anything. Do your own research and talk to your health professional so that you can make smart, informed choices concerning your health and that of your family.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-31-09

This week is going to be a Pantry Challenge week - a week where we try to create all of our meals with items we already have on hand. This week, I am hoping to only need to buy milk and maybe onions (but only if we run out). Here is our menu and as always, the locally grown items will be in bold.

Breakfasts (with repeats):
Banana nut pancakes with butter and honey or maple syrup
Eggs and Bacon
Oatmeal with flax, walnuts, pecans, coconut oil, butter, and blueberries
Kefir Smoothies

Lunch (with a fruit and a veggie):
Peanut Butter and Honey or Jam
Turkey Sandwiches
Breakfast Burritos

Homemade bread with honey butter
Kefir Smoothies
Yogurt with fruit preserves or maple syrup (my favorite!!)
Banana nut bread
Watermelon (such a yummy yellow flesh watermelon grown by a farmer we know)
Fig-Pecan Pinwheels
Carrots, Cucumbers and Cherry Tomatoes with ranch dip
Herb Cream Cheese and Crackers
Chips and Salsa
Hummus and chips

Grass-fed beef burgers with caramelized onions, cheese and homemade buns with sweet potato fries and watermelon.

Chicken Noodle Soup (summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, navy beans, spinach, corn, small pasta shapes) and homemade bread with honey butter.

Tuna Burgers on homemade buns with a side salad (if the lettuce is still fresh) or carrots and cucumbers (if the lettuce is not fresh anymore)

Shrimp and Potato soup and pan roasted asparagus blend veggies.

Honey Mustard Chicken with purple hull peas and broccoli

Panfried Tilapia with black beans and brown rice (made with homemade beef broth) and any veggies we still have on hand

Butternut Squash Soup and what ever else we still have in the fridge

What are you having this week? Share your menu at I'm An Organizing Junkie (will link as soon as her post is up).

Isn't It Pretty?

Look what I found at an antique store this weekend. Though I am sure it is not a true antique (it says on the bottom that it is microwave safe, lol), I think it is beautiful and I will enjoy having my morning coffee in such a beautiful cup and saucer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pears, Pears and More Pears

I spent most of the day yesterday canning pears off and on. Our house is small and the kitchen is small so the batches must also be small. It took time, but it was fun and well worth the effort. Here are the jars of pears so far:

There will be more as I am only about 2/3 of the way through the basket of pears - yay!! I figure that this many jars should last us at least 6 months.
Here is the pantry of home canned items before the pears were added. There really is no room for more, so I'll need to clear off another shelf :o)

The rest of the pears will have to wait until Monday as we have a busy weekend planned. Tomorrow we are headed to the farmer's market. I may try to get some cukes if there are any to make some pickles. What are you putting up at your house?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Putting Up Pears

Look what Bryan came home with last night from work. His coworkers are some of the most generous people I've ever met and one of them sent this home with him. He often comes home with treasures like this.
If I had to guess, by how difficult it was to carry, I'd say this is about 50 pounds of pears!! Here is a picture of one of the average sized pears in my hand, to give some perspective.

Aren't they beautiful! We are going to eat some fresh, as we, just this year, have learned to appreciate fresh pears. The rest is becoming pear sauce. Here are pictures of the first batch.

It is just delicious and this batch filled 2 and 1/2 pints. I have more pears cooking in the crock pot and another saucepan right now and I hope to can them this afternoon. I'm thinking that this second batch, which is larger than the first, will fill at least 4 pints. These two batches have gotten us only about 1/3 of the way through the basket of pears! I'm so excited - the boys love applesauce muffins (we have been using pear sauce in them lately) and applesauce cake (which we can also use pear sauce to make). I am especially pleased because food security is so important to me - the more we can be self sufficient, the less we need to depend on the national food system and the less likely we are to be affected by outbreaks.

Tell Me Thursday - Angel

This lovely angel was part of a family plot marker in a beautiful Jewish cemetery near a military park we visited this past weekend. This cemetery was so beautiful and peaceful, even though it was right in the middle of town, next to a busy road and of course the military park.

About a month ago, the boys and I read the book Ms. Katz and Tush which shows a visit to a Jewish Cemetery as Ms. Katz reads her Kaddish and places a small rock on her husband's grave to mean remembering. We were amazed to see many, many small stones all over the graves in this cemetery and were touched by the love and remembrance they symbolized.

This post is linked to Tell Me Thursday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kitchen Tip: Health Benefits of Coconut Oil and Why We Use It In Our Kitchen

Since we realized years ago that artificial trans-fats were dangerous for consumption, we've been using more butter, olive oil and for baking, coconut oil. When a recipe calls for shortening we usually use half butter and half coconut oil because it provides the same texture as shortening but without all of the dangers of artificial trans-fats. I'd read about the health benefits of coconut oil many times (great article here and lots of information here on the Weston A Price Foundation website), but had never tried taking it daily until last week when my friend Paula mentioned adding it to her morning coffee. Bryan and I tried it starting last Monday and so far, the results have been amazing!

Bryan's job is very stressful. I won't go into details, but lets just say that it takes all weekend to "recover" from his work week (just in time to start all over again). I did not tell him that coconut oil purports to have a soothing effect on stress, just about how it aids in vitamin and mineral absorption and that it is anti microbial, but yesterday, after a only week of adding it to his coffee, he asked me if it had a soothing effect because he was relaxed, even after a very stressful day. It amazes me that the effects could be noticed so quickly.

Nineteen years ago, I had thyroid cancer and have been on replacement therapy ever since. My weight has fluctuated since then, on its own, without much of a pattern and I have found it very difficult to lose weight, much less keep it off. Even trying to eat low carb works for a short while, as long as I don't eat ANY carbs (which is so difficult, what with carb cravings and all). The minute a carb crossed my lips, though, all of the work I'd done to get to that point was lost as carb cravings would return with a vengance and they are hard to fight. If you've every had carb cravings you know that the cravings are often accompanied by light-headedness, shakey hands, seriously unpleasant mood swings and painful hunger pangs - things that are hard to ignore ( and will last for days if you do ignore them).

The coconut oil in my coffee has helped me with those cravings. I drink it in my coffee at around 5:00 am and am not usually hungry until 9:00 or 10:00 am. Then a small bowl of yogurt or an egg and some veggies will satisfy my caloric needs for many hours. Then, when i do get hungry my tummy rumbles for a few minutes and if I can't get to a snack or meal, the rumbling goes away for a little while - no cravings, no side effects. I'm filling up faster when I do eat and am satisfied without any carbs and with smaller portions of veggies and protien. If I do eat carbs, like oatmeal (to which I add coconut oil - it is so delicious) or a tortilla, I still do not have the cravings and swings in mood if I've had coconut oil that day. It is amazing! And the best part is that my clothes are literally falling off my body - in just a WEEK! Yesterday, I reached up and touched my chin - and it felt like half of it was gone! I looked in the mirror and my double chin had disappeared! I'm losing weight and I feel GREAT, not tired or grumpy.

There are many, many more benefits to coconut oil and by itself, coconut oil cannot cure all of your ills, but as part of a healthy diet consisting of mostly veggies with some fruit and protein, coconut oil can be beneficial.

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionist. I am just a mom who reads a lot, both on the internet and in books. Don't take my word for anything. Do your own research and talk to your health professional so that you can make smart, informed choices concerning your health and that of your family.

This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-24-09

It is 57 Degrees outside right now. In August. In the deep, deep South. Oh my goodness! We are so blowing off cooking today and hanging out in that amazing gift of beautiful August weather. Ok, I probably can't blow off cooking altogether, but I bet we can make something in the crock pot or defrost something from the freezer.

All locally grown/ raised items are in bold.

Breakfasts (with repeats):
Oatmeal (quick oats, flax meal, chopped walnuts and pecans, blueberries a little brown sugar, and coconut oil).
Scrambled eggs and bacon
Breakfast burrito (local veggies and eggs)
Banana Nut Pancakes

Lunch (with at least one fruit of veggie):
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Meatloaf Sandwiches
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Other leftovers

Pear Sauce Muffins
Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Carrots and cucumbers with dip
Hummus and pita
Blueberry Fruit Leather
Yogurt with peach jam
Chips and Salsa
Kefir Smoothies (blueberries)
fig pinwheel cookies

Meatloaf with caramelized onions, green salad, steamed broccoli, Italian foccacia bread

Here is a picture of my plate from the above meal - meatloaf with onions,
mixed fruit (instead of broccoli) and green salad.
I skipped the bread.

Chicken Noodle Soup with squash, broccoli, spinach, white beans, small pasta shapes, carrots, onions etc. with a green salad and bread

Quesadillas (fajita marinated chicken, salsa, corn, black beans, cheese), green salad

Seafood Ravioli (with local shrimp - did not make this last week) in a scampi sauce (or if I'm feeling really ambitious, buerre blanc ) with roasted mixed veggies and green salad.

I'm only cooking 4 times this week. We will have leftovers once, something from the freezer once and sandwiches once.

I'm an Organizing Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday every week - why don't you post your menu and join in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Garden Update 8-23-09

My parents came up to visit last week and brought me a birthday gift - a portable "raised garden bed" filled with "Mel's Mix" (1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite). It is 2X2 and set on casters so that I can move it around as needed to maximize sun exposure. How cool! I'd like to build at least 2 more.

The weather has been much cooler here and the summer plants are reacting with new growth and enthusiastic fruit production. We have tomatoes and peppers once again and the basil and parsley are growing with enthusiasm.

The fall garden plans are coming along as well. Already planted and growing (though small) are about 12 lettuce plants (mesclun), Planted today are three varieties of carrots, luna white, tendersweet and little finger. We planted 32 in all. I'm planning to get spinach planted this week as well as some spring peas, which I think will grow well here in the fall. Mid September, I hope to put in a few potato plants, some beets, onions, garlic and kale. Also, if there is space, I'd like to plant a few cabbages. And that's why I need at least two more "raised beds".

My Birthday Weekend

We had a fun weekend! I turned 40 - I mean 25 - and my family spent the entire weekend making my birthday special. They are so amazing! My favorite part of the weekend was our picnic lunch today after Mass. The temps here have been very fall-like so we took advantage of the respite from the heat and had lunch outside in the yard after which we:

did some cloud watching

caught up on reading

and kicked back and put up our feet.

A Picture of Hubby's Lunch for Monday

I have not posted a picture of Bryan's lunch in a while. I just packed this up with leftovers from supper. He has roasted chicken and caramelized broccoli in the bottom left. Top left is tabbouleh in the silicone cupcake liner and sauted squash. Top right is mixed nuts and bottom right is strawberries, blueberries and pineapple. Yummy! If you are new to my blog, you may not have seen some of the posts about how we use Laptop Lunches bento style lunch boxes and we LOVE them so much!! You can also see a few other pictures here, here and here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yummy Breakfast (or dinner) Burrito

Inspired by this blog post (and be sure to check out the website while there - tons of great recipes!!), we made our own version of a yummy breakfast burrito on Monday, when I forgot to defrost the chicken.

We used store-bought tortillas and then caramelized onions and frozen veggie blend in butter in my cast iron skillet. After those were done, I scrambled some eggs and sausage added them to the tortilla, sprinkled on some cheese then topped with the onions and veggies. These were so delicious, we ended up having them again the next day :o)

I'm linking this post to Mouth Watering Monday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday August 17-23, 2009

My 40th birthday is this weekend and I am a food nerd, so I'm getting some kitchen stuff for myself for my birthday. I was blessed with gifts of cash from family and I'm going to add that together and add some more to it and get myself a nice wooden cutting board, a chef's knife, a cheap pasta roller and we need a new coffee maker - I'm debating whether to get one with an attachment to steam milk or just get a french press. Or we could just give up coffee altogether - hmmmm . . . . I don't think I'm ready for that yet.

We recieved a bag full of pears this weekend from my grandparents. Those are destined to become pear sauce today and will ultimately end up in "apple sauce" muffins. Local produce is even better when it is free :o) We are also getting a second batch of figs from the trees out back. What we don't eat fresh will probably end up as fig preserves.

I also was able to get my Nourishing Traditions book from the storage shed, where it has been for almost a year. I'm hoping to work some NT kitchen experimenting into my plan this week as well as trying my hand at making pasta. Here is the menu plan (as usual, all local items are in bold):

Breakfast with repeats (will include a fresh fruit or veggie):

Scrambled eggs and ham
Oatmeal with pastured butter, walnuts and honey
Blueberry French toast (eggs)
Homemade Greek Style Yogurt with fruit jam
Waffles with yogurt and fruit jam and ham or bacon


Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese
Turkey Sandwiches with pesto, tomatoes and lettuce
Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches

Pear Sauce
Pear Sauce Muffins
Fig Pinwheel Cookies
Cheese Cubes (Fontina)
Hummus and chips or veggie sticks
Chips and salsa
Yogurt and fruit jam
Homemade bread and honey butter
Popcorn (made on the stove top with coconut oil, butter and celtic sea salt - so yummy)
Kefir Smoothies


Monday - Pan-fried tilapia Fish Tacos (chipotle mayo, lettuce, avacado, shredded cheese and sour cream) with chips and black bean and corn salsa

Tuesday - Crockpot Roasted Chicken with squash sauted in butter and salt and green salad

Wednesday - Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup - (carrots, celery, onions, garlic, spinach, small pasta shapes and any other veggies in the fridge that need to be used up) with homemade bread and butter.

Thursday - Grass-fed Beef Burgers with caramelized onions and a green salad.

Friday - Seafood (probably shrimp, since I have some in the freezer) ravioli (going to try my hand at making the pasta) with steamed and buttered broccoli and a green salad.

Saturday - my birthday - we are eating out.

Sunday - leftover buffet.

Check out hundreds of menus at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday -

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Blabbermouth with Nothing to Say?

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I rarely have nothing to say. I'm a talker, to say the least, which is much of the reason why I blog - to have another outlet for all of my talking, just in written form. But this week, for some reason, I don't have much to say. I think maybe my blabbering mouth is on vacation. For some reason, instead of blogging or talking, this week, I seem to just want to read (even more than usual, lol). So, instead of feeling bad about not participating in all of my regular weekly blog carnivals, I'm just going to declare it a blogging vacation and enjoy lounging around reading (when I'm not cooking, cleaning up after cooking, doing laundry or tripping over toys, lol) a bunch of mostly fluffy fiction.

So far this week I've read, The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan, Open House by Elizabeth Berg, listened to The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger on my iPod while doing some house organizing (I read this once before and enjoyed it very much - hoping to see the movie this weekend), A Guys Guide to the Good Life, Virtues for Men by Robert P. Lockwood (will be reviewing this for The Catholic Company on my blog next week), and I'm currently reading Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris (like I said, fun, fluffy fiction, lol). Typically, if I find a book I like, I will usually read everything my library has by that author. I read a lot, so I am always looking for something else to read. Who do you read? Please offer suggestions of your favorite books/ authors.

I have a stack of fiction that I checked out of the library, but I may wait on those and finish reading the second book in the Outlander series (Dragonfly in Amber), which I had to force myself to stop reading since I had become obsessed with it and was doing nothing else but reading. Since I'm taking a reading vacation, I have permission to obsess about a 700 page book, right?

And on that note, I'm off to get breakfast ready and clean up the kitchen after that so I can dive back into 18th century Scotland. See ya Monday :o)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-10-09

Yesterday was the third time I do a two week shopping trip and I have to say that the more time passes, the more I love shopping for two weeks worth of groceries at a time. It seems crazy to me that just two little changes in our shopping habits could affect our budget so much, but between not shopping at Walmart any more and shopping for two weeks of groceries at a time, we have cut our grocery expenditures by over $30 per week. I think that part of the reason our expenses are coming down is that while Walmart is less expensive on some items, they are more expensive on other items (the one's we bought most often). Plus, I think that Walmart is designed to get you to spend more money (and I do not fault them for this - they are in business to make money), and when shopping with kids, it I have a hard time spending an entire hour saying "no" to everything, so I usually give in more than I do at Kroger.

We also hit our farmer's market at least once a week, though we try to go twice a week for fresh produce. Last week, we did an eat local challenge, trying to eat only locally grown/ raised foods. We did okay, though by the end of the week, we were eating non-local proteins. Still, we enjoyed the challenge very much and it pushed me to try harder to find local protein sources and get to know our local farmers better.

Here is this week's menu. All locally grown items are in bold.


Oatmeal with pecans or walnuts and dried cranberries, blueberries or strawberries
Scrambled Eggs and fruit (pears, cantaloupe, watermelon)
Kefir Smoothie (blueberries)

Leftovers from Dinner
Chicken Salad Sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes and pickles
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and grapes and strawberries
Peanut butter and honey or jelly sandwiches with cucumbers

Kefir Smoothies (blueberries)
Pears or Pear Sauce
Applesauce Muffins made with pear sauce (substituting pear sauce for the apple sauce, whole milk for the skim and butter for the veggie oil).
Coconut, Macadamia Nut Cookies (sugar cookie recipe with coconut and macadamia nuts added)
Chips and Salsa
Blueberry fruit leather
Cheese cubes
Popcorn (popped in coconut oil on the stove top - this stuff is so delicious!)
Homemade Bread with honey butter

Baked Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, and Purple "Green" Beans (found these and some heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market on Saturday)

Italian Crockpot Black Eyed Pea Soup with a green salad (cucumbers and tomatoes)

Steak with purple hull peas, sauted squash and cantaloupe

Lasagna, green salad (cukes and tomatoes) and baked patty pan squash

The soup and the lasagna both make lots of leftovers, plus we will be eating out at least once this week, so I think I will only have to cook four nights this week :o) .

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie and Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Eating Local Update for Thursday

As this week progresses and we try to stay with a mostly local diet, it becomes clear that being extremely organized and prepared is essential to having a varied diet. Its funny. Eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) diet (years ago) which contains mostly corn seems so varied, yet eating a wider variety of things by eating real food from local sources seems limiting this week as we actually do it. I wonder why our bodies are reacting this way. I mean, with the exception of our protein source, we had a great deal of variety available to us, yet it does feel like we are eating the same things over and over again. Local stuff we have:

Yellow Squash
Patty Pan Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Cherry Tomatoes
Blueberries (frozen)
Pickled Peppers
Pickled Okra
Red Peppers

This is a pretty big list of stuff, yet this week, it does not feel like a lot. I really think it might be the limited protein sources. We are used to eating a great deal more chicken and fish and since they are not on the list, I think we are missing them more acutely. Last night, we did have chicken (not local) with our locally grown veggies - and I remembered to take a picture :o)

We had chicken Parmesan with local cantaloupe, cucumbers and sliced sweet potatoes sauteed in butter and celtic sea salt. So yummy! That settles it - I've got to get serious about finding a local source of clean chicken. I'm going to ask every farmer this weekend at the markets (we are planning to go to three farmer's markets) if they know of anyone who has chicken available to sell. There has to be someone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tell Me Thursday

Pretty self explanatory :0) What the picture doesn't tell is the motivation behind this little business. The previous week, we had discovered a flea market type place in our hometown, while visiting. At this place, my kids found a vendor who was selling toys - cheap. This business venture was to raise funds to buy lots of inexpensive toys. They earned $7.00 and only spent $3 and still ended up with a box full of "new" toys.

Tell Me Thursday

Garden Update 8-6-09

We are currently experiencing a thunderstorm, so I won't have pictures until later, when the rain stops. There really isn't much to see, though. Most of the garden looks like it is dying. We do have a few things growing, though. The sunflowers we planted a month or so back are growing well and flowers are forming. Sunflowers are so beautiful and are one of my favorite flowers, so I'm looking forward to the blooms. The lemons are also at full size and are starting to slowly begin showing some yellow. :) To say we are excited would be such an understatement! We all cannot wait!

Over the weekend, I will be acquiring boards and compost and I am hoping to put together a few raised beds to place over the (currently empty) landscaping for growing our fall garden. The container garden has been interesting, but honestly, did not even come close to providing us with enough produce for more than one or two side dishes a week. We need a bigger garden. And since it looks like we will be renting this place for a while, I am going to have to get creative and adapt it to suit our needs. I have most of our fall garden seeds ready, but I do need to get onion and garlic if I hope to grow them. Last fall, my Dad grew potatoes which I would like to do as well. I will also need seed potatoes. One thing I love about our climate (that I need to remind myself whenever we have weeks on end of 100+ degree temps) is that we can garden year round, so just as one harvest is ending, we get the excitement of starting over again, right away.

Visit a High and Noble Calling to see and participate in How Does Your Garden Grow.

Farmer's Market Finds and Eat Local Challeng Update

There were only 3 farmer's at our mid week market, but they each had something different, so we ended up with a nice variety of things (we bought something from everyone). I am particularly excited about the cantaloupe as it may be one of the last we have this season. One of the amazing benefits of a challenge like that is that we are trying new things and since there is very little fruit in season in our area right now, we are learning to like pears (I'll be 40 in a few days and this is the FIRST time in my life that I've actually enjoyed eating pears!) We also made pear sauce out of some of them and have enjoyed that as well.

You know, eating locally has really stretched us over the years. Were it not for wanting to support local farmers we would never have tried and learned to like things like kale, cooked cabbage and beets. In fact, its hard for me to believe that only 3 years ago, I had to ask the farmer what to do with the cabbage we were buying, lol. I've also learned to like some things in their natural state that I used to only eat cooked into something else. For example, tomatoes and blueberries. Until this year, only my dh would eat blueberries out of hand, but now we all do and we love them! And until last year, I did not like fresh sliced tomatoes (I think because grocery store tomatoes are so Styrofoam like), but now - yum!

We have been eating local eggs for breakfast the last few days. Today I have an early appointment, so we will probably just have the leftover pancakes from Monday (in the freezer) with local honey. Tuesday we had pizza for lunch - they boys just wanted plain cheese, I made mine with caramelized local onions. Tuesday's supper was BBQ grassfed beef sandwiches with local tomatoes. I'm sure we had other things to eat that day, but on Tuesday I felt particularly sick, and I don't remember everything we had. Yesterday's lunch was PB sandwiches and we made and enjoyed some yummy fig pinwheel cookies (now I know what we will do with all of our fig preserves). The cookies are delicious, though a bit rich (they contain our homegrown fig preserves and local pecans), which is a good thing, because it keeps me from eating too many of them, lol.
We made burger buns yesterday and for supper we had tuna burgers (at dh's request) with pears and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. It is hard to imagine for me, but we are getting tired of eating beef. I think today we will probably have chicken to go with our yummy local veggies from the market.

So far, making an effort to eat only or almost only locally grown foods has been a fun and eye opening experiment. It has stretched us in some interesting ways and I'm hoping to put together a wrap up post about it over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WFMW: Airing Out My (Clean) Laundry

I just love laundry out on the line waving in the breeze, but my husband has asthma and a severe allergy to tree pollen, so hanging our laundry outside is really not an option these days. We didn't want to give up on hanging our laundry to dry, so we came up with this (free) option. We discovered a shower curtain rod in the closet that we placed in the laundry room between two doors. It is supported by the doorway molding and we've had no problem with it falling, even with a great deal of wet clothes on it.

The clothes dries really quickly. We place it on hangers straight from the washer so that when it is dry, it will be easy to put it away where it belongs.

Check out lots of tips at Works For Me Wednesday hosted by We are THAT Family.

Wordless Wednesday: Salesmen

Wordless Wednesday

5 Minutes for Mom

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kitchen Tip: Cooking-at-Home Made Easy - Pt. 2

A rotten cold has been making its way through our household and today, it is my turn. I feel pretty yuck right now and I'm not thinking very clearly, so this post will be short and hopefully it will also make sense, lol.

Last week I shared about how keeping my kitchen clean helps to make it so that I can cook at home without feeling overwhelmed. This week, I'm going to share some thoughts on organizing a kitchen to make baking easier. Sometimes we don't bake because the thought of rounding up all the dishes, utensils and baking supplies from their various resting spots can be a pretty big chore. I know that sounds silly, but really, if you have to open up every cabinet in search of measuring spoons, bowls, mixer, measuring cups, baking pan, ingredients, etc, then once you make finish, return everything to its place again, it can overwhelm to the point of preventing you from even starting.

My tip is to make centers in your kitchen, much like the centers in a preschool or kindergarten classroom. Take a cabinet and put all of your baking items in it - bowls, measuring stuff, mixer, flours, baking powder, chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla extract, etc. And try to locate the cabinet right over the space you will be working. That way, you can open the cabinet and get right to work with out having to drag things across the kitchen. You can even keep smaller things together in a plastic bin inside the cabinet to keep things neater. It may sound silly, but it is psychological - the fewer things you have to move to do something, the more likely you will be to do it. Think of it as a mis en place like in a restaurant kitchen. And you can do this with other tasks you do regularly in the kitchen like a tray with all of your oils and vinegars neatly arranged near your stove or all of your aromatic veggies kept together in a container in the fridge (or on the counter or pantry) so that you don't have to search the whole fridge to make a onion and garlic saute.

I hope that made a little sense. Now I think I'm going to go back to bed and try to get well so that I can check out all of the other tips at Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Even Ma Ingalls Did It

For much of human history, people have been trading their surplus with others who had a different surplus so that both had things they needed. Even Ma Ingalls used store bought flour, salt and sugar as well as other things to round out her pantry. So, I'd like to believe that I'm really not all that different than Ma Ingalls since we made pancakes for breakfast this morning, using non-local grains, lol. Hey, but we did use local eggs and honey. And if we were living in the prairie days, we would not have had butter for our pancakes without also having a cow, which we don't. So, I for one am grateful that we had yummy pastured, cultured butter at our store.

Ok, here's what we've had so far today. As mentioned, breakfast was pancakes made with many different grains, local pastured eggs, local blueberries and local pecans. And we smothered it in local honey. I think we did pretty good there on our eat local week challenge. The kids snacked on figs from the trees here, and a watermelon from the market. Also we made pear sauce in the crock pot with the pears we got at the market last weekend. Lunch was turkey sandwiches (the beef was not finished cooking at lunch time) with local tomatoes. Not as local as breakfast, but still, we did include something local. Supper, which is almost done is a roast of local grass fed beef with rosemary potatoes (both local) and sauted squash (local). Our oldest son loves broccoli so we are also having broccoli tonight, which is not local. That's ok. I'm glad I can get broccoli for him and I'm happy he likes it. Over all,I think our first day has gone really well, as we are not yet sick of eating the same things over and over, lol. I'll try to remember to get a picture of supper and if I manage to do it, I'll edit the post to include it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-3-09 : Eat Local Week

Eat Local Week is being celebrated in many cities through out the U.S. this week and we are going to participate to see just how much of our menu this week can be made from local ingredients. The local stuff is in bold:


We have 2 dozen farm raised eggs which we will use for breakfast as scrambled eggs and also in French toast. Obviously we will have to supplement that with non-local things such as oatmeal and yogurt, but we'll have local pecans and honey with our oatmeal and local jam (plum, peach, blueberry or fig) in our yogurt.


We can have leftovers of our evening meals for lunch as well as BLT's (local tomatoes and micro-greens if my sprouting experiment works out), and egg drop soup (local eggs).


We have lots of seasonal fruits and veggies that we can have for snacks such as figs from our trees, pears that we will make into pear sauce, frozen blueberries to use in kefir smoothies, watermelon and cantaloupe from the farmer's market, pickles, cucumbers, chips and salsa, and we can make zucchini bread which will have only local zucchini, eggs, pecans and honey in it. I'd also like to try making fig pinwheel cookies with some of our fig preserves. Non local snacks will include popcorn (popped on the stove top in coconut oil), and peanut butter or cashew butter sandwiches.


Beef roast (local grass-fed) with rosemary (garden) potatoes (farmer's market) and sauted yellow squash (farmer's market)

French Onion Soup (local onions, local grass-fed beef stock) with Tomato (market) and Basil pesto (garden) Sandwiches

Roasted Veggie Panini (yellow squash, zucchini, egg plant, onions, roasted in the oven with olive oil and sea salt with cheese - probably chicken on dh's, too - on a homemade french bread loaf) , tabbouleh made with cous-cous, local tomatoes and cucumbers, onions and parsley(garden) and what ever fresh fruit we can find at the market.

BBQ Beef and Onion Pizza and tomato and cucumber salad.

Grass Fed Beef Burgers with caramelized onions, on homemade buns, sprouted micro-greens (if the sprouting experiment works out), french fries (farmer's market potatoes) and fresh farmer's market fruit.

DH does not like beef much, so we'll have at least one chicken meal which will not be local unless I find a local source of chicken in the next few days. We will probably have roasted chicken with purple hull peas (from my Dad's garden) and roasted red pepper (my garden) and tomato (market) basil (my garden) soup.

If we have a second chicken meal this week, it will be chicken noodle soup from the freezer which contains lots of local veggies like onions, squash and parsley.

There is a great deal of repeating in this menu since its focus is local, in-season produce. We will probably be tired of all of these things by next week, but I think it will be a fun experiment. And we'll probably make brownies at some point in the week to break up the monotony - chocolate always helps with that :o)

Ok, now I'm excited! :o)

See more menus at Menu Plan Monday, hosted this week by The Happy Housewife.

Eat Local Week - Aug 2 - 8

Our hometown newspaper had an article in the Saturday edition which mentioned that Eat Local Week was being celebrated in many parts of the country the week of Aug 2-8, including our home town. We usually try to eat locally grown as often as possible, but this week, I think we'll take the challenge and see if we can eat more locally than usual. We usually eat a few things a day that are local. I wonder how local we can make our diet for one week. I'll try to blog our eating for the week. I know we don't have a source of local grains, though we can try to cut that back a lot. We also don't have local cheese (at least I haven't found any yet), and our milk is not "local" in the sense that we bought it from a farmer, but we do have local fruits and veggies, eggs, meat and even some nuts. I think we can do a lot with that and then just fill in around the edges with non-local stuff. I think it will be fun - at least that's the plan - if it gets to be a stressful chore, we'll stop. I'll post a menu in the morning once I have a chance to inventory the pantry and freezer.