Saturday, May 21, 2011

Farmers Market: May 21, 2011

Have I mentioned that I LOVE our farmers market? This was our haul for the week. Clockwise from top left: Milk (seven others not pictured), canataloupe, cornmeal (yes, its local!!), peaches approx. 10 lbs.), sweet onions, yukon gold and red potatoes, butter (wrapped in paper at the bottom), purple broccoli, purple onions, more red potatoes, squash, carrots, English cucumbers, blackberries, black and green olive hummus. Not pictured: several whole chickens.

When I got home from the market, we had eggs (from our hens) cooked in butter with potatoes and onions, blackberries and peaches.

Tonight, we are going to have leftover chicken from last weeks market with broccoli and caramelized onions and squash.

I LOVE the farmers market!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Chicks

It seems that all chicken raisers are destined to have some loss. Since we got our first chicks last April, we have lost 5 hens, including one we lost this week. Because I am sure we will lose more before next spring, I thought it prudent to add a few to the flock. We were able to get six 6 week olds from the farm store today. They will begin laying sometime in late September, right around the time our current layers begin molting. Hopefully that will mean we continue to get some eggs this fall and winter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Food Choices and Chronic Disease

There are so many reasons that our family seeks to eat "against the grain" so to speak (non processed, locally raised, pastured and hormone free meat, etc). Supporting local farmers, food security, wanting better living conditions for food animals, concern over GMOs and all the antibiotics and hormones, are all important reasons to seek out better food, as is superior taste and nutrient profile. However, one very compelling reason to seek out better food is the link between an industrial food diet and chronic disease.

I think I've mentioned before that my Mom has Alzheimer's disease. When we were confronted with the undeniable reality that something was not right with Mom, we sought out help from a neurologist. The medication given by this doctor has helped to slow down the progression of her disease, and for this we are very grateful. But as time has gone by, we've begun to really be struck by the fact that we were simply treating symptoms and not addressing the underlying causes of her disease. Since no one really knows what causes someone to get Alzheimer's disease, addressing the causes becomes a guessing game.

We decided to have Mom see (in addition to her neurologist) another doctor, who treats not only symptoms but also the whole person. This doctor ran many extensive (but not expensive) tests and discovered that Mom has many deficiencies, both vitamin and mineral, as well as the fact that her digestive system was not working properly. In addition to an intestinal yeast infection, Mom was not producing enough stomach acid to properly digest her food and was lacking intestinal flora which are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. She had been slowly losing weight for the last 6 years. That information from this doctor has helped explain the weight loss.

This doctor has Mom on some supplements and is treating her digestive issues with diet. They are ridding her of the yeast infection by cutting out sugar and bread (for now) and by adding probiotics, both in supplement form and through daily servings of unsweetened yogurt. The great thing is that she can do all of this while still taking the medication from her neurologist. One does not cancel out the other. She has been on the new diet/ supplements for a little over a month, and though we are not seeing a cognitive improvement, we are definitely seeing a digestive improvement. She saw her doctor last week and for the first time in 6 years, has not lost weight between appointments!!

We can't help but wonder if there is not some connection between Mom's lifelong processed food diet and her disease (she avoids vegetables as much as possible and loves processed carbs - She is happiest eating a packaged orange cranberry muffin and truly has always believed it to be health food). There seems to be evidence that Alzheimer's is at least in part associated with a lack of nutrition in the brain. In some circles it is called diabetes of the brain because these doctors believe the brain of Alzheimer's patients is actually starving much like the cells of a diabetic. We don't have delusions that Mom will somehow be cured by a better diet and supplements, but we do know that she will feel better with proper nutrition. And we also know that by us avoiding industrial food (even if that is not the cause of Mom's condition - though I believe it is) and seeking nutrient dense real food, we can stack the deck in our favor and hopefully avoid this horrible disease for us and for our children.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: May 16, 2011

I love posting our menu plan on my blog because for some reason, it helps me stay on track. I have not posted our menu in months, mostly because of pregnancy then a new baby. I had a few minutes today and decided to put up our menu for this week. I hope I can start doing this more regularly.

As a family, we seek out hormone and antibiotic free, pasture raised or wild caught meat, eggs and dairy. We also attempt to avoid processed food and make our own from local sources. All local items will be in bold.

Breakfast (will repeat):

*Yogurt (homemade, from local milk) with fruit (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or peaches) or maple syrup
*Smoothies (yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, banana, orange juice)
*Eggs and grits (local butter)
*French Toast (homemade bread, milk and eggs from our hens) topped with yogurt and preserves

Lunch (will repeat):

Egg Salad Sandwiches, carrots and cucumbers
Chicken Salad Sandwiches, cole slaw,
Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches, applesauce


*Crockpot Black Eyed Pea Soup (homemade chicken stock from pastured chicken), Homemade pickles or dilly beans (which ever my Mom wants - they are visiting)

*Hamburger Steak with caramelized onions and pan fried potatoes, side salad (local cucumbers)

*Pan Fried Fish (**hopefully** - the boys are planning to supply the main dish for dinner one night this week from our pond), caramelized onions and yellow squash, sweet potatoes

* Broccoli and Cheese Soup (broccoli from local farmer, chicken stock, homemade from pastured local chicken), sandwich or salad on the side

* Easy Broccoli & Beef, rice, smoothie

*Pizza with add your own toppings (will try to use up leftovers)

*Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, cole slaw or cooked cabbage (depends on what we feel like having)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Locally Sourced Meats

We are so blessed to have farmers near us that raise pastured poultry, grass fed beef and grass fed lamb. We also have a source for local shrimp, but not one for fish. Well, not until a few weeks ago. That's when we decided to see if we did, as promised, have stocked pond on our property.

We DO!! The boys caught several fish including bass and brim.
("I caught you a delicious bass." Points if you can identify that movie quote.)

My parents were visiting at the time, so N and my Dad cleaned them and we cooked them for dinner. Absolutely delicious!

My boys like fish, but I have never seen them eat so enthusiastically. We don't want to over fish the pond, so we are going to keep our fishing down to once a month or so. Since it has been a month, we are going to try again to catch dinner this week. Wish us luck :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Farmers Market: May 14, 2011

The market is offering better variety as the weeks go by. Today, I came home with everything in the picture as well as chicken, beef and milk. Clockwise from the left, we got bulb onions, peaches, purple broccoli, English cucumbers, red and Yukon gold potatoes and yellow squash.

Today everything we ate was local. In fact, the only thing consumed in our house that was not local was our coffee, and I soon hope to start getting it at the market as well, as we have a local coffee roaster at the market now. We had only two meals today, brunch and dinner. For brunch we had eggs from our hens cooked in butter from the market. On the side we had caramelized onions and yellow squash, also cooked in butter from the market. For dinner, we had hamburger patties with more caramelized onions (we could eat them with a spoon 3 times a day - we LOVE them!!), pan fried potatoes and peaches for dessert. Lately, we are finding it easier to have at least one meal per day and portions of the rest of our meals sourced from local growers or producers.

I am hoping that next week I can start buying from the market in quantities large enough to begin preserving. I want to start with peaches and yellow squash, prepping both for the freezer. Last year we had 12 quarts of yellow squash in the freezer and 6 quarts of peaches. We could easily double the amount of both, as we use the peaches in smoothies and the squash in soup and also to caramelize. I have already started dehydrating potatoes and have a quart jar filled with them. I plan to try dehydrating some onions at the end of the week if we have any left.

Are you preserving anything in your kitchen?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Farmer's Market Finds This Week

Oh how I love our farmers market!! We are blessed with so many wonderful farmers, many of whom grow or raise "no spray" and "no hormones/ antibiotics". This week at the market, I literally could have used a shopping cart. I doubt I will need anything at the grocery store this week, except maybe one or two fresh fruit items, and only if we get desperate.

If you remember, last season we were getting in season veggies and fruit from the market as well as pastured heritage chicken, grass fed beef and lamb, goat milk and cheese (mmmm . . . feta!!) and on occasion seafood (mostly shrimp). This season, there are more wonderful farmers at our market including another poultry farmer and a dairy!! Yes, we can now get cow's milk, cheese, butter, cream and even cheesecake at our market!! I am so excited!!

This week we came home from the market with veggies, like squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, and a beautiful purple broccoli. My kids pronounced the broccoli the best they have ever tasted, and that is saying a lot since they are broccoli lovers. We also came home with part of our spring beef order, some pastured chicken, milk, cream and butter. I was a little too late in arriving to get strawberries, potatoes and garlic, as the growers had already sold out of these items. Maybe next week :)

This is a picture of the reson I only manage to blog once a month.

And this . . . is baby feet :)