Tuesday, August 9

Finally....

I think I've gotten the major kinks worked out and my recipes transferred so please check out my new blog over at learningtoeatjourney.com.

See ya there!

Thursday, July 14

Honey-Sweetened Ice Cream

I'm experiencing technical problems with the new blog so I'll keep posting here until those are worked out.

My parents came over for the 4th of July and I really wanted to make homemade ice cream for everyone. Since my dad is diabetic, I needed a recipe with no refined sugar. He can tolerate honey in moderate amounts so I made the recipe below.

To my great surprise, it was the hands-down favorite of the two kinds I made. If you're not a honey-flavor fan, fear not. This is vanilla ice cream. So delicious!!

1 c milk
1/2 c honey
2 c heavy whipping cream
1 t vanilla extract

Mix honey and milk together until honey is completely dissolved. Stir in vanilla and cream. Pour into ice cream maker and mix 20-25 minutes or according to manufacturer's directions.

Wednesday, July 6

Coming Soon...

...to the computer screen in front of you is a new, completely redesigned blog.

See you soon!

Friday, June 24

Local Food

We've made some new friends this year who grow their produce much closer to home than many of the sellers at the farmers' market. I love that I can order produce mid-week and pick it up at the farm (which ensures a continual supply of freshly made salsa!)

The girls and I drove over yesterday to pick up our order. We enjoyed chatting with Will and Keli who offered to let us drive around the farm. Well...I wasn't going to let such a generous offer pass me by. :)

Tuesday, June 21

Farmer's Market Finds

We've hit that part of the summer where the kids are scattered to the four winds. Not my favorite part of the season, for sure, but I know they have fun at camps and on other trips.

With all the chaos, I've taken a little breather on cooking. My menu plan, if you can call it that, for the last two weeks has been mostly pulling things from the freezer and sporadic cooking of 'planned overs'.

I had a stash of black bean burgers in the freezer which we all love. Coupled with the homemade buns, they're a winner around here.

Also in the freezer were some black beans and brown rice leftover from the making of the burgers so I thawed those and added some frozen corn. I made a big bowl of yummy salsa. I think one combination or another of those things was our lunch every day last week. (And, oh, how I looked forward to it!)

Another easy but delicious option for us is omelettes. I throw in whatever I bought at the farmer's market - mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, spinach - as well as some herbs from my beds outside for a nutritious, comforting meal.

Tonight, the girls and I made a pot of hummus soup. The recipe showed promise but didn't quite live up to my hopes. I'll post it after I've tinkered with it a bit.

I know this is a less-than-inspired meal plan but the break from a batch of new recipes has given me time to complete some other projects around the house. Getting things in order always leaves me feeling creative so I'll show more of that soon!

(Remember to click on the EAT page above for recipes mentioned here.)

Thursday, June 16

Set Point

In last night's class, I talked a bit about set point and how real food can play into finding yours. This is something I believe in so strongly that I thought I'd write about it here as well.

If you've never heard that term before, the quick explanation is that everyone's body has a weight/body-fat ratio that is most desirable for optimal functioning. It is the point at which we feel our best, look our best, are most fertile, etc. (Read more here or here.)

It is not the point at which you are the thinnest you've ever been. If you've ever been so lean or thin that people said you should gain a little weight back, you were likely below your set point. The set point is where your genetics lead you to be, or more simply, the way God made you to look.

Monday, June 13

Chocolate Cake

If there's one thing we take seriously around here, it's chocolate cake. This is our current favorite. We all like it's rich, almost brownie-like consistency. I like that I can use such a high ratio of whole grain flour.

Tuesday, June 7

Lessons In Grace

What was I thinking??

All I wanted was for the garden to be watered. I should have known, though, that...

One hose + three kids = the mother of all screaming fights.

Monday, June 6

If I Could Only Bake One Thing...

...it would have to be cornbread. I think I may love it more than chocolate and that's really saying something. Considering my great fondness for it, I'm amazed I've never posted the recipe before.


Perfect Cornbread 
   (Yes, that's the name listed in the cookbook...)

1 c whole wheat flour
1/8 - 1/4 c honey (or sugar), according to taste
4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 c yellow corn meal
2 eggs
1 c milk
1/4 c oil (I use olive or coconut)

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in cornmeal. Add eggs, milk and oil. Beat until just smooth. Pour into lightly greased 9x9 pan (or muffin tins). Bake at 425˚ for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy with lots of real butter or, my favorite, crumbled in most any soup, chili or stew.

This Week's Meal Plan

A telltale sign of seasonal eating is repetition. It's a necessity, really. If you find something you love, you better have it as often as you want because veggies come and go all too quickly!

This week's trip to the market yielded a nice surprise - garlic scapes! I discovered them last year and, due to house construction, wasn't able to put in my own garlic bed in the fall to ensure my supply.

Friday, June 3

Oh, the Joys of Vinegar

Well, that might be a bit of a stretch but if I've often said if I could have it piped into my house, I would.

For a couple of years now, I've cleaned the whole house with nothing but baking soda and vinegar. The truest test of its cleaning power came last weekend, though, as C and I were working in the yard.

Thursday, June 2

The FDA Food Pyramid Collapses...

...as well it should. It was a worthless 'guide' whose recommendations were brought to you by bloated corporations with monstrous lobbying budgets. 

What we now have is this graphic...

It's pretty. 

It's easy to read. 

Accurate? Mmmmm....I don't think so but, then again, I believe God gave me instincts to tell me what to eat. The government?? Well, I'm grateful that it paves the roads I drive on and somewhat educates our country's children but I couldn't care any less what a bunch of Beltway fat cats say I should feed my family. (And that, my friends, is about as political as you'll ever hear me write...)

So, goodbye Food Pyramid. Someday my grandkids will think you look oh-so-quaint and delightfully retro but, to me, you've always been outdated...

Wednesday, June 1

Chocolate Syrup

1 c cocoa powder
2 c sugar
1 c water
1/4 t salt

Combine sugar and cocoa in a saucepan. Mix in salt and water. Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add two tablespoonfuls to a glass of milk. Stir vigorously and enjoy!

NOTE: This doesn't make the milk as dark brown as commercial syrups but the flavor is great.

Tuesday, May 31

Morningside Farm

I picked up my first order from a new (to me) co-op today. I've long been a fan of this one but I was sorely lacking a source for bulk organic butter and cheeses. Enter Morningside...

Not only do they have dairy products but a much wider selection of products in general. Plus, their website is a bit easier to use and their ordering schedule is easier to understand. 

We ordered...oats, baking powder, peanut butter, almond butter, Veganaise, black beans, my super-favorite olive oil, butter, chips (for our beloved Mexican nights), carob chips and cocoa powder as well as pepper jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. 

Monday, May 30

Farmer's Market Finds

Here's what we bought this week and what we plan to do with it...

Black Bean Burgers
Broccoli-Spinach Omelettes with biscuits
Carrot Top Soup
Spinach Garden Salad with Pineapple Dressing
    and Chapati
Fresh Pea Soup
Nova Scotia Hodgepodge
Radish Top Soup (which we will undoubtedly eat at least once a week until radishes are gone. We love this soup!)





It might be hard to top our Memorial Day supper, though....
Burgers on these delicious, easy-to-make buns, lightly steamed veggies, deviled eggs, freshly-squeezed lemonade and these cookies for dessert.

Friday, May 27

Eat

The recipe page is up (see 'Eat' above). So far, I've got all the existing recipes on the blog linked but have many more to add...

Tuesday, May 24

Berry Pickin'



The recipe for the sugar-free jam (left) required added
pectin which, I think, is why it retained so much color.
(Or maybe I totally messed it up. This is my first foray
into the world of powdered pectin. I don't think I like it
very much...)
A couple of weeks ago, my best-est canning friend and I drove out to a farm outside town and picked gallons and gallons of strawberries.

We learned a valuable lesson, too. The week we went was the 'peak' time to pick according to the farmer. There was no shortage of large, perfectly ripe berries and every row had plenty. A trip out a week later meant a longer picking time as you had to search for good (though smaller) berries.

I made two types of jam, one being sugar-free for my dad. I also put two gallons in the freezer for muffins and smoothies. We're delighting in the freshness of the season right now but I know some strawberry bread in the dead of winter will be a lovely treat!

• • •

One random 'berry' note...

Berries of any kind always remind me of a board book my parents gave S when he was little. Called Jamberry, it's a super cute story of a boy and a bear frolicking through the joys of the season. I never tired of reading it to the kids which is more than I can say for a bunch of other kid books....

Monday, May 23

Farmer's Market Finds

Broccoli, sprouted lentils, summer sausage, radishes
asparagus, basil, lettuce mix, early peas, raw goat milk
cottage cheese and strawberries
Here's my meal plan for this week based on what the girls and I bought. I'm adding a page to my blog as an index for all the recipes I write about. It's going to take a few days to get them all listed but, hopefully, it'll help if something sounds yummy to you!

Supper...
  • Radish Top Soup with Honey-Oat Rolls (Tessa has been stalking the farmers' tents on Saturdays in anticipation of radishes for this soup!)
  • Black bean and corn fajitas, salad
  • Salad with lentils, toasted baguette with pesto
  • My Random Skillet Supper -- I came up with this Hamburger Helper-style dish one evening when I had little time and no game plan. It's easy to adjust to whatever I have on hand and is a family favorite. The general 'recipe' is a pound of ground beef or chicken, pasta (from our CSA which I'm trying desperately to use up), home-canned tomatoes or tomato juice and my homemade chili or taco seasoning. 
  • Black Bean Burgers on wheat rolls, steamed broccoli
I split a pound of sausage for:
  • Sausage-spinach-swiss omelettes with roasted asparagus 
  • Homemade pizza with sausage and fresh basil
Lunch...
  • Radish Spread sandwiches
  • Honey-Oat Rolls with summer sausage and goat cottage cheese, blanched peas
  • Leftover pizza (which is the kids' favorite lunch!)
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Fresh Pea Soup
Breakfast...
And, last but not least, this divine dessert...

Strawberry Shortcake with
freshly whipped cream - YUM!

Friday, May 20

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. (Why, yes, she is 29 again! How did you know?) Truthfully, I really think she's still about seven in her heart.

Long ago, she chose to measure her success by her family. I'm not talking about anything stage-momish either. She has never had a career outside the home. She is a keeper of the home and the souls entrusted to her. As we grew up and moved away, she was forced to 'retire' from her daily duties. While I know she needed breaks like every parent, she did not relish that permanent change.

Fortunately, God has blessed each of us three kids with three of our own. Seeing my parents as grandparents has given me a new perspective on their inner children. I have been very blessed by that and, as grandparents, they have given us some of their greatest gifts.

When I was six months pregnant with my second child, I was put on complete bed rest. I was allowed fifteen minutes of standing per day. That wasn't enough to fix meals and shower much less take care of my sweet little 17-month-old. My mom drove an hour-and-a-half each morning to pick up Sam and drove back to her house. Almost every afternoon, she brought him back so that we could still feel like a family.

That continued for three months. I cannot imagine the exhaustion (or the gas cost) but she did it without complaining. Carrying that burden as well as a mother's concern for her daughter's unborn child is such an example of unconditional love and is truly a debt that cannot be repaid.

• • • Other observations on Mom • • •

My mom is a perfect blend of her parents. Warm, nurturing and a little mischievous like my Grommie but a quick-witted, merciless teaser like Granddaddy. 

She doesn't accept societal norms and isn't afraid to be different. As feminism was hitting its stride during my childhood, she would roll her eyes at others' attempts to climb corporate ladders and go to the kitchen to make Kool-Aid and cookies for all of the neighborhood kids.

She let us stay home from school (occasionally) for no reason other than "My calendar says there's no school today". She would actually tell the school secretary, "our bus isn't running today".

Fearless and independent, she has bungee jumped, been skydiving and, in the past decade, acquired a couple of tattoos.

I have to leave you, though, with one of my favorite Mom stories ever....

Last July, she, my sister Libby and some of the grandkids were in the car for a day trip. My sister, trying to be accommodating in adjusting the air conditioning, asked, "Mom, are you cold?"

My mom, in all sincerity, replied, "Well, I don't know. I could be cold," as if it were a subjective question. The laughter Libby fell into rendered her a completely unfit driver.

Now, all three of us women can be accommodating to the point you'd want to beat us over the head to get a decision out of us but my sister and I thought this was just the ultimate in trying to please someone else.

Now, whenever we reach an impasse over a decision, Libby and I are likely to say, "But, Mom, are you cold???"

Yes, my friends, that's the lousy thanks she gets for years of sacrifice and an excellent raising. So, maybe Mom's best birthday present is witnessing the fact that we each have kids just like us.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

Thursday, May 19

Self-Doubt and Other Complete Wastes of Time

Okay, it's late and I'm exhausted but I can't sleep. Why? Because I'm trying something new, exciting and scary these days and I'm letting myself come unglued over it.

I'm teaching (or attempting to teach) a ladies class at church about food and healthy eating. It comes as no surprise to you, dear reader, that food is a passion of mine. I've often thought about teaching a class or writing a book on the subject so when I was asked to do this, I jumped at the chance.

Jumped off a cliff is a more apt description and I'm in a full-on free fall right now.

Public speaking isn't my forte but it's not my worst fear either. I'm just not fabulous at it. I'm okay, though, with hanging my lesser talents out for all to see. I appreciate it when someone steps out of their comfort zone and I feel safe with the wonderful group of ladies who so graciously give me their attention.

I think what's so hard for me is that I'm writing the lessons as well. Trying to condense four years of self-education in to a weekly thirty minute lessons of coherent and, hopefully, inspiring material is so much harder than I thought. I find myself writing pages and pages and then realizing that it's way too much information.
•  •  •

I love how God uses others to remind us of His will. As I lay here trying to shut my mind off and fall asleep, I remembered a blog link that my brother sent me just this morning so I went back to read it again. Feeling inspired by the writer's attitude of just being who she is, I decided to write here.

After all, if someone reads a post here and decides I'm a kook, then they don't have to read it anymore and I'm none the wiser. Honestly, though, I think we're all a little kooky and I'm grateful for that.

I love blogging but I often find myself not posting because I feel the need to continually 'fix' things here. I daydream about having the time to reorder posts, organize the labels and keywords and edit the inevitable 'stupid' things I said. What's really bad (and I hate to admit this) is that this is how I feel about my life. I feel a deep need to reset the logic of my existence.

(Oh, how shamefully high the control-freak flag is flying...)

What I am beginning to realize is that my need for things to 'make sense' far exceeds my ability to create such structure. I have no idea what to do with that. Am I a free spirit stuck in a first-born mindset? Am I just afraid to be who I am?

Yuck, I don't want that to be the truth...

•••

That said, I'm going to continue (as fearlessly as I can) preparing for and teaching the class. I have concerns with doing so, such as possibly offending someone or forgetting what I'm trying to say (which happened tonight - ugh) but I'm human and that's okay.

So, this is my stop-being-my-own-worst-critic post. Is it going to work?

If I don't delete this 'stupid' post first thing in the morning, I'll know there's hope for me yet.

Saturday, May 7

The 2010 Flood, One Year Later

Our home was not affected by the major flooding that Nashville suffered (herehere and here) a year ago but our hearts were touched by the losses so many loved ones faced.

For me, I witnessed the devastation through the eyes of my dear friend, Julie, her mom and sister. Their home was hit hard and they waited several very long hours to be rescued on May 2nd. The struggle to find housing to accommodate them and their dogs and the uncertainty of aid to cover their losses were just the beginning of worries that quickly set in. 

The days, weeks and months ahead certainly had their moments of frustration and tears but, somehow, a year has now passed and what will perhaps never be complete healing is well underway. I have a couple of pictures that, to me, represent the emotion of the past year. 

May 7, 2010 - We bagged up everything
in her bedroom. I snapped this photo as she tossed
the bags out the window. 

May 7, 2011 - We ran a 5K to celebrate life
and create a better May 7th memory.


Tuesday, May 3

Sunday, May 1

Nova Scotia Hodgepodge

Source: Simply In Season

2 T butter
1 onion (or a handful green onions or onion tops)
2 c vegetable broth
1 c green beans
10-12 small new potatoes
4-6 carrots
1/2 c peas
2 c milk

Melt butter, then add onion and sauté until soft. Add broth, beans, carrots and potatoes. Simmer until vegetables are just tender.

Stir in peas and cook until bright green (about a minute). Add milk and gently heat until hot. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve with chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme or chives.

Fresh Pea Soup

Oh my...this is spring madness in a bowl. Love, love, love.

Source: Simply In Season
1 onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 potato
3 1/2 c water
1-2 t salt
3 c peas
Sauté onion in olive oil until golden. Add potato, water and salt and cook over medium heat until soft (10-15 minutes).
Add peas and cook until bright green. Purée in blender. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve warm.

Pineapple Dressing

Source: Simply In Season


1/2 c pineapple juice
2 T vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 t lemon juice
1 1/2 t poppy seed
1/4 t dried basil

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.

Hamburger Rolls

The original recipe is here but this is what I did...

2 c warm milk
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c water
1/4 c honey
4 t yeast
2 t salt
6 c flour, as needed (1:1 whole wheat and unbleached white)

Combine milk, butter, water, yeast and honey in a large bowl and let stand for five minutes. 

Stir in the salt. Gradually mix in the flour until a soft dough forms. Divide dough into 25 pieces and form into balls. Place 2-3" apart on cookie sheets. Let rise for 20 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375˚ oven for 15 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing. 

Lemonade

Here's our favorite recipe...

Lemonade

1 3/4 c turbinado
8 c water
1 1/2 c lemon juice

Bring sugar and 1 c water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool. Mix with remaining water and lemon juice. Chill and enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers

Source: Climb Nashville Cookbook


Black Bean Burgers

1 1/2 c cooked black beans (or one 15 oz can drained)
1/2 c cooked brown rice
1/2 red onion
1/4 red pepper
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 slice whole grain bread, frozen
1 1/2 T fresh ground flaxseed (opt)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Oats (opt)

Mash beans with a fork, leaving a few of them while. Very finely chop onion, red pepper and celery. Grate carrot and bread.
Combine all beans and vegetables with rice. Add flaxseed and Worcestershire sauce. Mis well. Add 1-2 T oats, if desired, to help burgers stick together better.
Form 6-8 patties and place on a  greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes in a 350˚ oven. Remove, turn patties over and bake 10 more minutes. Serve as you would a regular burger.

Unbaked, these freeze very well. Separate burgers with wax paper.

Chapati

Source: Climb Nashville Cookbook


Chapati
a Kenyan staple

2 c flour - white, whole wheat or a combination thereof
1 t salt
warm water
olive or coconut oil

All ingredients should be allowed to come to room temperature if they have been refrigerated. Mix flour and salt. Slowly mix in enough water to make a thick dough. Mix in one spoonful oil. Knead dough on a cool surface for a few minutes, adding a few spoonfuls of dry flour.
Preheat a lightly greased skillet. Divide dough into orange-size balls. Flatten them into 6-inch circles. Fry them in the skillet or griddle, turning once, until each side is golden brown and spotted.
Cover the finished chapatis and place them in a warm oven until they are all done. Serve with butter and any curry, soup, stew or beans.

Thursday, April 28

Strawberry-Cream Cheese Granola

I had a delicious wrap while having breakfast with friends last week. I knew it would be enjoyed by my whole gang and found it serendipitous that I had just made homemade cream cheese!

I whipped up a batch of my granola and went to the farmers market early to make sure I got my hands on some delicious local strawberries. We've been devouring this stuff ever since!

Tuesday, April 26

House Update: Root Cellar

Our house project is nearing its official completion. The only thing remaining is having concrete poured to expand our parking area and extend the sidewalk.

Now that things are starting to feel a bit more put together around here, it's time to post some pics, don't you think?

As I've mentioned before our root cellar is my little gem. My dad brought a load of old barn wood up and he and Sam cut the boards to fit the shelves. 

Winter squash, onions and sweet potatoes keep
very well. At right, you can see the wireless
thermometer my parents gave me. The readout
is in my kitchen so I always know what the temp
is down there.
My reserves are getting very low. I have a lone jar of tomatoes
remaining. I will can a LOT more this season!

The key to preserving foods in the cellar is constant temperature and humidity. The humidity nearly takes care of itself. We control the temperature with:
  • well-insulated interior walls
  • a exterior-grade door to the interior of the house
  • lack of heating/air-conditioning the surrounding rooms
  • two exterior vents to release hot air and admit cooler air when the temps get too high
This is the upper vent.
The lower one has a water line running
through it for reasons that aren't interesting
at all. I wish it looked clean like the top one
but, hey, it does the job. 
Any thoughts? Anyone grow up with a below grade room for food storage?

Monday, April 25

The Best for Guests?

A friend posed a question to me on Facebook tonight that really got my wheels spinning. She asked how I felt about serving/not serving one's usual local/organic foods to dinner guests whom you know eat conventional/industrially processed 'foods'. Is the expense of doing so justified for those who don't care (with 'care' meaning without the knowledge, means or determination to eat differently.) I've certainly pondered that myself and thought it might be an interesting question to pose here.

My answer is that I serve guests exactly what I serve my family. So much so, in fact, that I worry that others may not like it. After all, fresher, mindfully-grown foods do taste different. For the most part, they taste better but sometimes they require a palate adjustment.

The cost of feeding a group the foods we eat is certainly a consideration. Meats, especially. As our diet has changed, so have some of our eating habits. For instance, we don't consume nearly the amount of meat we used to. For me, that's easy. I don't really crave meat. My boys are a different story. They could eat it at every meal but, thankfully, they don't complain about vegetarian meals as long as there aren't too many consecutive ones.

Another opinion on meats is that I cannot justify supporting the industrial meat processors. While a vegetarian may argue that no meat processing is humane (with which I won't necessarily argue), the life of the animals we consume is of great importance. Since I am a carnivore, I care deeply that the animal that gave its life for my supper lived in the manner for which it was created -- it breathed fresh outdoor air, basked in the warm sunshine and ate what God intended.

But I digress...

For a crowd, I'll often make things in which the meat in dispersed throughout such as lasagna or soup as opposed to burgers or chicken breasts (the latter runs about $7 per serving - even for just our family of five, that's a pricey homemade meal.) But, again, that's the way we eat so I'm not really doing anything different for company.

My reasoning behind this is twofold. First, I'm a southern girl who loves to love people with food. Just as I make recipes I'm confident about, I use ingredients I trust. Secondly, I'm passionate about food and the way the health of the plants and animals it comes from manifests itself in our own health. If someone can come to my house and leave feeling truly nourished and a seed of change is planted, then that makes me very happy.

All that being said, I do not think about all this when I'm a guest in someone else's home. I'm food nerd not a food snob.

In the end, it's really as simple as this -- I eat a certain way at home but, when eating out or at someone's home, I'm just grateful to get out of dishwashing duty for a night!

Do you have thoughts on this? Please share!

Thursday, April 21

Homemade Cream Cheese and Whey

We buy two gallons of raw milk each week. Most of it is either drunk or used for baking but I've struggled with what to do with the leftovers. It's such a wonderful, nourishing food that I can't bear to throw it out once the fresh, sweet milk comes in the house. 

So...I'm learning to make some things with the surplus. This week it was cream cheese and whey. 


I put a half gallon of milk in a clean glass
jar and left it on the counter until it separated
as pictured above. (This took 4 days.)
Then, I poured the contents into a towel-lined strainer to let
the whey drain out. After 10 hours, I gathered and tied the
towel and hung it suspended over a pitcher for another
6 hours.
The result was...

...whey which will be used for
lacto-fermented veggies and other recipes... 
...and almost three cups of delicious cream
cheese. 
Yes, we are having bagels for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe even for after-school snack today!

Monday, April 18

Garden: Week One

I've been working in the garden for weeks but here's the first 'harvest'...
Our lone ripe strawberry
Other things already growing are red and yellow onions, peas and carrots. Lots more planting and sowing this week.

Thursday, April 14

Thursday, April 7

Storm Damage

On our wooded acreage, it's a given -- if there's strong wind, something tall is gonna fall. And what fun would it be if our fence remained intact?? None at all, apparently.

Of course, for many, Monday's storm caused much more damage and inconvenience. Schools were locked down until nearly five pm due to widespread debris on roadways and some people in our area were without power for more than a day.

Half of this tree is inside the fence and half is outside.
I'm so grateful it didn't fall toward the house.

With two trees fallen in the same direction, there's no
doubt about where the winds were coming from. 

Wednesday, April 6

One Window Closes As Another Opens

CSA yumminess from last summer
Today was the last delivery for the winter CSA season and we are not renewing our share for the summer season. I must admit I already feel a little unhinged from my usual food supply. (No comments, please, about my being unhinged in general...)

With a big garden in the making, my funds have been shifted to that effort. I know I'll miss the variety of things we've received but there's always the farmer's market to peruse!

Tuesday, April 5

Lesson Learned

One thing about eating a clean diet is that when I do eat something that I normally avoid, I can usually pinpoint it by just thinking back through what I ate. It's like food poisoning when you go, 'Hmmm...well, I had some fish....oh, the fish.'

The latest happened after the ACM Awards show Sunday night in Vegas. We managed to find a restaurant in the MGM with an open table to have dinner with a friend. The next morning, I felt awful. Really awful. My stomach was cramping and my head felt like I couldn't fully wake up. (I know what you're thinking, 'Hey, it's Vegas. That's called a hangover!', but, no, I only drank water.) I was in complete panic mode as I had only three hours until my flight and who wants to get on a plane when your stomach is staging a full-out revolt?

As we talked through what I'd eaten, it came to me. I had eaten a small (white) roll before dinner. (We had been so busy and not had time to eat so I was famished. I totally caved to instant gratification.) Realizing that the flour must have been bleached was the a-ha moment I was looking for. I was so mad at myself for not waiting the extra fifteen minutes for my salad and vegetable ratatouille to avoid this misery.

In the end, I ordered multigrain toast from room service and topped it with half an avocado I'd brought with me. (Yes, I travel across the country with avocados.)

With that, and a vow to not be my own worst enemy again, I headed home a happy camper.

Thursday, March 31

Portugese Kale-Potato Soup


Living outside the city definitely encourages creativity in the kitchen. I loathe driving into town for just one or two stops. Yesterday was one of those days that I didn't think I could come up with anything for supper. But, alas, I was wrong.

I had some Russian kale leftover from our last CSA share so I made this soup. Served it with whole wheat buttermilk cornbread, it was one of the most deliciously filling meals I've made. Since I did not have the chorizo it called for, I added more veggies. Unfortunately, the lack of sausage rendered it very bland (note the recipe calls for no salt or pepper). We salted at the table but, honestly, that wasn't quite enough for my better half. Next time, I'll get the chorizo!!

Wednesday, March 30

In A Time of Need...

If you've ever been blessed by friends bringing your family food after a major life event, you know what a tremendous load that can take off your family. Organizing people for this is pretty easy but there are some great websites that can make it even easier.

Check out a couple here and here.

Tuesday, March 29

Seed Draft

I'm working hard to build the garden of my dreams. With forty-plus varieties of seeds to manage, I'm also working hard to convince the kids that helping me just might be a bit more fun than they think.

My first attempt to get them excited was staging our first 'seed draft'. Inspired by the NFL draft my guys are glued to every year, we laid out all the packets, discussed them a bit and took turns. Each child was allowed to choose as many as they wanted with the understanding the care of the plants, once outdoors, was theirs.

So far, their enthusiasm for this project is representative of their individual personalities:
  • S wants to be in charge of being a complete goofball. He choose thyme (and almost all the other herbs 'because they're easy, right?') and proceeded to keep me laughing all day -- 'Mom, I'm running out of thyme!!' while pretending to pour out all the seeds. 'Oh no!! I've lost track of thyme!!' while frantically searching for the seed packet. To be fair, though, when it comes to the actual work, he is efficient, strong and a wonderful problem-solver.
  • E wants to take it completely seriously and expects a earth-shatteringly perfect outcome about which she can be oh-so-nonchalant. As I built the beds outside, she drew a casual schematic of the garden. 'Casual' because she said, 'It's not very good but is it okay?' In reality, the drawing has measurements, accurately-placed landmarks as well as notes about which beds are whose...you know, to ensure that, months from now, her success is duly noted. Most afternoons, Emma's job often entails calming the dogs who want to run through/lounge in whatever workspace we're currently in.
  • T, of course, wants to want to garden but really she just wants to alternately watch TV and complete her self-imposed mission of reading all the Harry Potter books in five months. When we drag her away from the books, though, she works hard and remembers the tiniest of details to tell about and ponder over supper. I can already tell her duties will include updating any remotely interested party in the minutia of our garden. (Maybe she should blog!)

Sunday, March 27

Purple Hull Peas

Our winter CSA shares this year often included purple hull peas. I've never eaten or prepared them before and I've just been lazy in not dealing with them.

I finally Googled for recipes and found not just recipes but an entire website dedicated to purple peas -- a dance, pageant, parade, and even tiller races -- wow.

In the end, I used this recipe, omitting the pork. They were a hit all the way around, with the kids going back for seconds and thirds. Good thing I have a lot more in the freezer.

Friday, March 25

Starting Seeds

photo - toistudio.com
This year, I've enlisted the help of a cute little tool called the Pot Maker. It allows you to reuse newspapers to make perfectly sized seed-starting pots. This has been extremely useful to me as I currently have over two hundred seeds sprouting. Once they're ready to go into the ground, I'll just plant the whole thing to eliminate the risk of damaging fragile root systems. 

Thursday, March 24

Today's Workout (Sort Of...)

Yes, it's a tiller. No, it wasn't fun.
(Especially since I used it on a hillside full
of rocks and tree roots.)

Besides, you know what doesn't make sense??

Walking on soil you just loosened. Clearly, a man designed the tiller....

Tuesday, March 22

Brick Beds

With construction set to begin this time last year, we did not plant a garden. This year, I'm totally making up for lost time. The good news is that we cleared more land for gardening. The bad news is all the beds have to be built - now. My excitement is making the work pass quickly and I'm so grateful for the time I'm able to spend outside.

After trying to build unsupported raised beds, I realized the slope of our lot was just too much. My parents gave us a most generous gift of several hundred bricks. I used the first load for S and E's beds. 
S's garden bed (16'x4') awaiting two more rows of brick

One of E's beds (4'x7')
More to come...

Wednesday, March 9

New Blogging Friends!

I'm adding a couple of girlfriends to my blog roll.

One of my best friends from grade school is now a grade-school teacher herself. This year, her daughter is in her class. Read about their adventures here.

Julie (whose old blog you may remember) has, not one, but two blogs now! Read about her life here and she's bravely committed to recording her workouts and dietary habits here.

Tuesday, March 8

Tuesday Workout

I'm back. No better way to get back into blogging than with a workout, right? :)

Here's what I did today:

50 squats
40 situps
30 squat jumps
20 pushups
10 lunges (with a 5-count pulse at the bottom)

Grab a timer and complete five rounds with no (or minimal) rest. Record your time and try to beat it next week!!

Tuesday, January 11

A Job I Really Don't Like


I love my kids and taking care of them when they're sick is not something that stresses me out. However, I think every parent has a kid-related job that they really wish someone would handle. For me, it's picking up used tissues.
Under normal circumstances, of course, they have to do it themselves but when you're sick and just lying in one place for hours, things can pile up. Yes, I wash my hands right after and all but I just can't stand it; I'd rather deal with a puking kid than pick up dirty tissues. What makes it worse is when the sickly one moves from bed to couch and back, it just seems piles of yuk are everywhere.
During a recent bout of sickness, I grabbed a paper sack and set it by the couch as a disposable and portable trash can. I was so glad to discover that the stricken child actually used it and moved it from room-to-room. Woohoo!!
Maybe it's a silly problem and it's hardly an ingenious solution but when something works, it works.