Thursday, January 29

so much to say, so little time!

It has been a great week for me in the kitchen. I have felt inspired to cook and plan meals. I have even planned breakfasts! Those have usually been up to the kids to fend for themselves, but since we are trying to get away from boxed cereal, I have had to make a plan. We've had pancakes and waffles and stove top oatmeal and baked oatmeal. Tomorrow will either be yogurt with fruit/granola or eggs and toast.

And I made a "clean" meatloaf, too. Not that my meatloaf has ever been from a box or anything, but I didn't use ketchup in it. Ketchup is one of the few last processed and full of high fructose corn syrup foods that we have around. And honestly, even organic Heinz is still not really great IMHO. Next summer I will try to can some homemade ketchup. But I digress. I used some tomato sauce with a little vinegar and a little honey and reduced it (with my sauteed onions) and added that to my meatloaf. Since I had my next batch of bread rising I used my last couple of slices of homemade bread to make the breadcrumbs even.

I can tell you are all impressed.

I do have some recipes that I want to post, but I also have Clay's birthday dinner to get to so it will have to wait another day.

I did make my first sauerkraut this week. D brought home some red cabbage from our CSA on Tuesday. He sliced it up super thin for me and I mixed it with the salt, pounded it in the jar, and let it sit. It was bubbling today so I put it in the fridge to sour. Can't wait! You can see the method I used here.

Tuesday, January 27

kitchen experiments

I've been keeping busy in the kitchen lately. I've experimented with a few things too.

I tried making yogurt in the crock pot using this method. I really didn't like it as much as the stove top/little cooler method. And I read in Wild Fermentation that using more starter can actually make a less firm yogurt. So I will go back to the stove top method and just use a little starter instead of the whole cup of yogurt my friend suggested.

Aleena made some really AWFUL cookies. She was making it up as she went. She was proud because it didn't have any butter or eggs in it. Then she tasted them. Yep, they tasted like they had no butter or eggs in them. I really need to do better about teaching my kids about nutrition. They are getting brainwashed by that silly food pyramid. I could rant on about that but I'll save that for another day!

I made a mixture of molasses and honey the other day like this blog post. It is so good. I love the taste of molasses, but it can be too bitter. And I really love that my boys think it's a great substitute for pancake syrup. So many nutrients in molasses and honey.

I have another sourdough starter going. I used it to make pancakes on Saturday and want to make this spice bread with it, but I need some spelt for that so it may have to wait until next week. I am really going to try to use my sourdough better this time. Duane was really wanting sourdough french bread like you get at the stores last year so I abandoned my starter. But this time I'll try to be more creative with it so we can get the benefit of that natural fermented food.

In the past couple of weeks I made a recipe with bulgur. It was this walnut chicken recipe. We all really liked it. And we had greens that night too. They weren't great but the kids ate them. I'll definitely make them again.

I made a different batch of granola yesterday. It's more of a clumpy type. The kids like that to snack on. It will become a staple in the pantry I'm sure as we wean off of boxed cereals. I told the kids about the studies I posted about before. They were all disgusted and thankful for things like homemade oatmeal and pancakes as alternatives.

I have a winter squash cake recipe to post too. I'll get it up later today. It's a great breakfast cake or dessert.

Thursday, January 22

what's wrong with cereal?

I know we can probably all find any study that says anything we want it too, but I read this one about cereal the other day and it's freaking me out a little.

We rarely have anything in the house besides WIC cereals anyway because that's what we get with our vouchers, but I'm still not crazy about the fact that it's so processed. I hate having to read long ingredients lists. :oP And since I've read that study I really want to get away from them.

One big problem? Cereal has become the go to food in this house. After school snack, breakfast, easy supper. Today I made a batch of granola to help steer the kids towards something else. It's not difficult at all, but I know they will also want variety so I will continue to work on that.

There was a time when I thought they wouldn't survive the winter if I didn't buy instant flavored oatmeal packets. I stopped buying those this winter. I had some I got with free coupons, and the kids inhaled them, but when they were gone...they managed to find something else to eat. I know the same thing will happen with cereal.

Taking steps away from processed foods is hard, but it's important to me. And I am more and more amazed at what goes into my cart at the grocery store. The things in it are ingredients to make a myriad of things. I am still very much a work in process.

Monday, January 19

still reading

I've been continuing to read my book and still thinking through a lot of things.

It resonates so much with me because I see that even as our "health" consciousness rises in the US...eating low fat foods, cutting back on sugar and using artificial sweeteners, using chemically altered products instead of real butter, buying white bread that has stuff added to it to make it more like whole grain bread...This country is fatter than ever! We have more diseases now that we didn't have 150 years ago. Sure people are living longer in a polluted environment now, but...

Last winter when I got my grain mill, I started reading about whole grains and how we really can't buy any whole wheat flour at the store. The nutrients in the wheat start to break down within a few hours. By the time it's packaged and in the stores, it's lost most of it's vitality. And if any of the oil from the kernel is still present, it's rancid by then.

Now this January I am reading more along the same lines. just how natural their fat laden states are good for us. Butter has nutrients, did you know that? Does that tub of hydrogenated oil we call margarine have any shred of naturalness left in it? Not really. We stopped eating margarine long ago. I realized that it has the same calories as butter. It just has processed fat as opposed to natural fat. So we chose natural fat.

Molasses and honey have nutrients too. Molasses is full of iron. And one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from seasonal allergies is to eat raw local honey. By ingesting that little bit of pollen, you allow your body to fight off the onslaught of it when it becomes bothersome.

Those are things I've known for a while. So as I read my book, I am feeling more and more comfortable with what I am reading. I will be making more changes to my family's already weird diet I'm sure.

Thursday, January 15

Nourishing Traditions

I've just begun reading this book.

Have you read it and what do you think? I think I will be changed by this book. I can feel it already. And I'm having a lot of inward struggle with it. The Weight Watcher in me wants to run away. The mother in me wonders how to do this.

I need to read some more.

Monday, January 12

lunch tote giveaway

We all know that taking food with us is a much more cost effective way and healthful way to feed our families when we are on the run, and there's a giveaway for a brand new cute lunch tote here. Go check it out!

Wednesday, January 7

homemade yogurt

A friend of ours gave us some of her homemade yogurt the other day. It was so good I decided it was time to go ahead and try it myself. I've been thinking of it for a while now. The kids go through Yoplait flavored yogurts really quickly, but I hate that one of the first ingredients is high fructose corn syrup. There are the natural brands without it, but they get pricey. I was really pleased that the kids were liking Ghena's homemade yogurt so I thought I'd try it.

(Now I have to confess that part of why they were devouring the yogurt is because we were also drizzling it with homemade chocolate sauce. But even that had natural ingredients in it.)

I asked Ghena how she made her yogurt. Part of why it's so yummy is that it has either whole or 2% milk. I decided that I wanted to go the nonfat route to make it easier for me with my quest to lose 5 pounds, and that way I could use nonfat milk powder too, to make it really affordable. There are instructions all over the internet on how to do it, so you can check out some simple ones here. The only difference was the addition of a box of unflavored gelatin. And I used the oven method which I don't think I will do again. My yogurt is runny and I think it's party due to the fat content and partly due to my incubation method.

I will be doing it again soon...well, after we eat this first batch. I'll let you know how it goes using the cooler incubation method. That's the one Ghena uses. And her stuff is AWESOME!

It's also great because you can use whatever you want as sweetener. I used turbinado last time, and I think I could have used more. (I think I used about 1/2 cup.) You could easily use honey or molasses or just table sugar. But you can control what goes in there. And I also used some of Lorrie's homemade vanilla extract. YUM!

Monday, January 5

really red sauce

On Saturday the meals just kind of got away from me. The boys had been out since late morning and came home at 3:30 or so STARVING. I had planned on scalloped potatoes and ham for dinner, but had't started that yet. I made the boys some ham scrambled eggs instead. Then I wondered if anyone would really want dinner. I wound up making pasta at the last minute.

I took an idea I used last summer and used different veggies this time. Little did I realize the beets and carrots , well really the beets would turn the tomato sauce into something that looked like it belonged in a horror movie. Thankfully the kids ate it up with few questions!