Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thanks for stopping by!

I'm so excited to have a post of mine featured on Kelly the Kitchen Kop!  Thanks, Kelly!

It's funny to me that something as clean and pure as raw milk from healthy, grass-fed cows is creating such a raucous - yet here we are. 

I'm grateful that my family still has access to this important part of our diet (which also means fresh, raw cream for my iced coffee, and cultured sour cream for our tacos - yum!)  I know we're on the right track, diet- and lifestyle-wise, because my kids continue to impress our doctors with their robust health, and when they do occasionally catch a virus they bounce back quickly.  My experience with the severe nosedive in my own health ten years ago, and subsequent comeback with a change in diet, confirms it for me: we need to embrace real, whole foods...we shouldn't be fearful of them. 

These days we have everything we need in abundance to be strong, healthy, and happy - all the better now that we also have more knowledge and better sanitation than in decades past!  We know the importance of hand-washing and better farming practices, so we can reap the benefits of real foods without the high risks that previous generations had without this knowledge. 

I think it's incredibly arrogant of us to move in the direction of pasteurizing, irradiating, and generally killing the nutrients of our food.  But that is exactly where we're heading with the increase of mass-producing, industrialized farms; many of these foods need these damaging processes in order to be "safe" for consumption (and the resulting products may be "safe", but they certainly aren't nourishing or healthy.)  If this is what some people want, fine - let them have it.  But allow me and the others who prefer small farms and access to fresh foods to have what we want.  To each his own, and we will let time tell which diet is better for the health of humans and our planet.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pickl-It Lacto-Fermented Cherry Chutney

I finally decided to give lacto-fermented fruit chutney a try again after a miserably failed attempt in a mason jar about 3 years ago. The result was a super moldy mango chutney, which I had spent so much time and money on, and it scared me from even considering another try with fruit until now.  I have my friend, Beth, to thank - she's the one who reminded me of fruit chutney, and got me all fired up to try again with her drool-worthy ideas of combinations like pineapple and cilantro (yum!).

It was really hard choosing which to start with, but I finally chose the cherry chutney recipe from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions.  I don't bother with fermenting in mason jars anymore, due to the mold and questionable bacteria issues - I threw away too much money on bad batches with that method.  So I made a few slight adjustments to the recipe for my Pickl-It: I omitted the whey (it's unnecessary in the anaerobic environment of the Pickl-It jars) and used the classic 3.6% brine solution when measuring the salt (1/2 Tbs per 1 C of it really wasn't that far off of Sally's recipe.)

I used one pound each of Rainier cherries and red cherries, and most of them fit perfectly in a 1-Liter Pickl-It jar (a few cherries were moldy, and I ate about a handful as I cut out the pits :) 

After gently pressing the cherries down with my handy-dandy kraut pounder, I licked it to see what cherries, orange zest/juice, coriander, clove, rapadura, and salt would taste like together.  YUM!!  I only wish this jar were 5-Liters instead of just 1...I have a feeling this stuff will be gobbled up fast when it's done!

Like I always say, waiting for the lactic-acid bacteria to do their job is the hardest part...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcome home!

After spending an enjoyable week in Atlanta with my family, we came home to a state that had just been hit by a huge blizzard. "Snowmageddon", "SnOMG", and "Snowpocalypse" were liberally sprinkled among the Facebook updates I saw while checking in on my phone at the airport. We weren't sure what to expect after touching down in the tundra, but braced ourselves for the worst.

Bracing didn't help.

One of Mark's good friends was kind enough to be our personal chauffeur again, so at least we didn't have to deal with airport parking. Mark was sure to jokingly point out that our car parked on his driveway during the blizzard was actually our favor to HIM, seeing as how it was that much less space to shovel. And when you're talking about an average of 2 feet of snow and drifts that were much higher, maybe he's right. Regardless, we appreciated his efforts but the luxury stopped when we dropped him off at his house and headed home. It was about 6:30 pm when we pulled up in front of our house. The sky was dark and the girls were cranky from all of the traveling, and were falling asleep because it was their bedtime. And our driveway was covered in 2 feet of snow, with a nice big drift right down the middle and an icy 3-foot bank at the bottom from the city plow.

We decided to leave the suitcases in the car and bring the girls in first. After getting them to sleep, we'd deal with the driveway and emptying the car. So we each picked up a kid and trudged through thigh-deep snow up to the house. What a sensation cold snow is on warm ankles when it sneaks in through jeans and socks! And what fun it is entering your house for the first time in a week to be met with the chirping of a dead smoke alarm battery and an empty fridge. Even better when you discover that you're out of 9v batteries, and the offending alarm is the one in your bedroom.

Long story short, we unbundled the girls and Mark handled bedtime alone while I handled the battery and driveway issues. Only this time when I went through the snow I was wearing boots. Quite an improvement for my feet and ankles, but the jeans still didn't cut it. I ran to the gas station to get a battery and then returned home to tackle the driveway, cursing as I trudged back up the driveway yet again.

At least we have a snowblower. We have a longer-than-average driveway which is compounded by the fact that it's L-shaped, so I think Mark had wanted one for a while. But I tipped the scale when I was stuck frantically shoveling myself out for work one morning while he was on a business trip in China. This was during the worst of my Rheumatoid Arthritis, so it was more than just a nuisance. And that memory helped to put things into perspective for me on this particular night. Yes, we had just spent the day in airports and on an airplane, traveling with two small children who are not fond of the pressure changes on the descent. And yes, this was an incredibly annoying time for all of these inconveniences to greet us. But I am in a completely different place now than the shoveling incident in 2005; I'm strong, healthy, and mostly free of chronic pain.

First I had to figure out how to turn the snowblower on.  Yes, I was starting from that point! Then when I realized that the snow was a good 6 inches higher than the blower, and it had a 2 inch crust of ice on top, I had to perfect my technique. And then when it took an hour to make a dent I had to ration my energy if I wanted to get the car into the garage and avoid a parking ticket. Oh, and I also had to refill the snowblower when it ran out of gas. Twice.

My body was bruised up by the time I was done, thanks to my having to throw myself against the snowblower just to get it through the snow. And I could barely push a cart at the grocery store the next day because my palms were so sore. It was not a fun experience, but it was a good one. I like feeling self-sufficient, and boy what an accomplishment that was for me.

How fortunate I am that this is my biggest complaint in a long time.

Eating with a toddler

Those with a weak stomach should not eat with a toddler.

This is what was going through my mind while eating breakfast with Claire this morning and, unfortunately, is a regularly occurring thought. I must admit that I love her enthusiasm and zeal for life in general, but especially for food - if anybody enjoys her food, it's Claire. And maybe we adults could learn something from her and her fellow experimenting peers.

One of her favorite things to do is mix things together. If she has a bowl of berries and a glass of milk, the berries are sure to wind up in the milk and her fingers are guaranteed to be covered in milk (as are the table, her chair, and her shirt.) That's not so bad - it's reminiscent of berries and cream, and milk is easy enough to clean up. A more borderline experiment is crackers and olives in her kombucha. But maybe the worst combination to date was this morning.

It started with an innocent glass of milk. She mastered drinking from a glass months, if not a year or two, ago. But she got a huge cheek-filling gulp and had to spit some back into the glass. It happened again so Mark said "watch mama drink from her glass, see how she does it." I slowly brought my glass to my lips and demonstrated a nice, slow sip for her. No drips, no filled cheeks. No spitting. I gently set my glass down on the table again.

"Oh, with ONE hand," she said in all seriousness. Yes, that was the takeaway; that all of her problems would be solved by using only one hand instead of two to hold her glass of milk. Way to nail that lesson, mom and dad!

She went on eating her breakfast of 2 eggs over easy with a piece of toast cut into little pieces so she can get the perfect egg/toast ratio on the fork each time. One of the next bites were apparently too big, so naturally she spit it out. Into her glass of milk. Mark started to say "OK, that's enough," when Claire proceeded to drink the milk, without spilling or filling her cheeks. She followed it up with an emphatic "Mmmm-Mmm!"

I was taking my supplements and had a mouth full of milk myself, and was trying not to laugh when she leaned over as if to tell me a secret. "I have toast in my milk!" And then she took another sip with closed eyes, as if to say "this is divine!" I would have taken and shared pictures of this, as I normally do, but won't for two reasons. 1. it looked pretty gross, and 2. I try not to encourage this sort of behavior and it's already hard enough to hide my smiles and laughter - whipping out the camera would almost certainly make her want do it bigger and better next time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Look what we did today!

And it only took all can see the way the light changes...

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My big girl. She just turned 3. Before the snow came, we went on a series of nature walks to collect leaves for crayon rubbings. She preferred these berries to the leaf project, and they became the perfect "food" to use in her play kitchen. They started shriveling after a few days, so we threw them out the back door for the birds. Whenever we park near one of these trees she is always quick to point the berries out. "Berries for the birds!" She shouts with excitement, even though I'm sitting right in front of her.
I love that whenever she can't open a jar or package in the kitchen, she goes straight to the utensil drawer to retrieve the little round rubber gripper thingy (what the heck are those called?) Even if it's a sealed plastic tub. She's also quick to get her little wooden toolbox whenever she hears the word "project."

I love how she's so inquisitive, and that she always likes to know where everybody is and what they're doing. I also love that she thinks the number 5 is one of the biggest numbers out there. When we asked her how old she thought our preteen mother's helper was, her eyes got big and in a dramatic voice she answered "five." Same thing when we asked her how old her daddy was turning this summer. But my favorite application of this number was when she asked me about something completely unrelated to age. Somebody was in the bathroom and she asked where they were, so I replied "he's going number 2." "No," she said with a know-it-all look, "he's going number 5."

It drives me nuts that one of her favorite games to play is the "I'm going to make you chase me around the house before I'll let you wipe my face" game, which means that more often than not she will have crumbs and/or peanut butter on her cheeks and chin. And these crumbs and smears usually show up in the photos I take of her. And as frustrating as this is to the perfectionist in me, I love that she's so happy and carefree; I love that she gets such joy from getting me to chase after her.

One day while "helping" me with a project, I was in a hurry and got annoyed by constantly tripping over her and the toys she was lining up on the floor around me. "Claire, go play!" I finally snapped at her. She looked at me, confused, and in an innocent voice replied "I AM playing, mommy!"

The student becomes the teacher...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dancing Queen

While checking out a clearance rack one day I found this adorable swimsuit - it seemed awfully cumbersome for swimming, but perfect for playing dress-up. Especially considering the $5 price tag.

Claire refused to even look at it when I first took it home and showed her, back when the weather was a gorgeous and steady 70 degrees. And now that the weather has dipped to the 40s and 50s she is suddenly interested in it. Of course. Oh well, I love her dance moves no matter the weather...