Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cheese Crackers

With this whole journey to eating real food, I have more than myself to consider.  I am fortunate to have a son who, at 7 months, has been breastfed from day one and has only eaten a few fruits and vegetables (so, in other words, a clean slate) and a daughter who loves food and eats pretty much anything.  I, however, have a husband who is very fond of junk-food.  

After seeing Food, Inc. he is completely on board for the major changes ahead, but is a bit apprehensive of what this will look like in real life.  I cook dinners from scratch, so these will be fairly simple to change.  We will likely eat less poultry and meat, as free-range/ organic/ grass fed is expensive and it will be cost-prohibitive to eat daily.  Currently we eat at least one meatless dinner meal per week, so eating a couple more meatless meals will only be a minor change.

Breakfast is another story.  We currently eat free-range organic eggs and organic milk, so these will not be an added expense, but Eden and Brandon enjoy cereal.  I am thinking homemade granola and milk may be a good substitute.  I know there are also basic organic equivalents to the major cereals, so that would also be an option.  I am also shopping around for fairly traded coffee.  

A major concern for Brandon is, what will his work lunches look like?  Right now, he is usually taking a sandwich with deli meat or PB&J (or sometimes he takes supper leftovers), crackers or chips, fruit, and some sort of dessert (often pudding).  This will basically ALL have to change.  Our current bread brand is better than some when you read the ingredient list, not organic, though.  Deli meat may become a thing of the past, though I have found free-range local deli turkey loaf (not sliced) from Quail Cove Farms.  Anyone know how to cut it?  Peanut butter... #2 ingredient in our brand is HFCS (high fructose corn syrup... thanks Monsanto!).  I'm not sure what to do here.  I have never really loved peanut butter.  My mom made ours and made it with no sweetener and you had to stir the oil in and I just always thought it was gross.  I would be okay with stirring it if it had some sweetness.  Maybe honey?  Jelly/ jam is easy, I make it every year!

So this brings me to today's experiment!  I made crackers!  They were very simple to make and took no time.  The family really liked them and I think I can play with adding different things to get some really great flavors!  Here is the basic recipe:

2 cups flour (whole wheat if you want)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs butter
up to 1 cup milk

Combine salt and flour
Cut in butter
Add milk until doughy (not sticky)
Roll out PAPER THIN on a cookie sheet
Score and prick with a fork
Bake at 300F for 20 min

I added 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/4 tsp cayenne to mine and they are YUM!!

Okay, enough for now.  Thanks for reading! :)

What I've learned so-far, and some stuff I knew already!

I want to share a little bit about the resources I am finding for local and whole foods.  This will be a continuing post as I keep hearing of other resources.  I will share resources I already know and whenever possible I will provide a link.  Find this post again on the right side bar.  If you know of any sources I am missing, or if you find a broken link, let me know!!

Local Food Movement:

Local Harvest- Find farms, CSAs, farmer's markets and "local food" blogs.
Sustainable Table- Find out what the issues are, shopping guides and recipes.
Eat Well Guide- Find local foods, plan a trip, and see what foods are in season.
Pick Your Own- Find local farms to pick your own strawberries, pumpkins, apples and much more!

Grocery Stores:

Ellwood Thompson's Local Market- Locally owned, independent grocer, local, natural and organic foods.
Good Food's Grocery- Locally owned, independent grocer, local, natural and organic foods.
Whole Food's Market- Chain grocer, local, natural and organic foods.
Trader Joe's- Chain grocer, natural foods, bulk foods.


Quail Cove Farms
Fall Line Farms
Goochland Farmer's Market

Grass-Fed Beef:

Dragonfly Farms, Beaverdam, VA
Polyface Farms, Swoope, VA
Mount Vernon Farm, Sperryville, VA

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA):

Kruize Farms
Frog Bottom Farm

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here we go again!

Well, once again it's snowing here in the Old Dominion.  Here in our little corner of the world, we are looking at another 8-12".  We have about 4" so far and it is coming down with great intensity!

I have been thinking a lot about food.  We have been on this house journey that will hopefully end with us snuggled up on 10 acres in Goochland County, but this thought process has been forming for quite some time, and has only recently come to a head.

As a Christian I am constantly challenged by my believing friends to be a better follower of Christ, to live for Him, to lead my children ever closer to Him.  I am often discouraged by many Christ-followers who turn a blind eye to matters of environmental impact, our personal responsibility of earth stewardship, the fact that a creator wants to see his creation cared for with utmost respect (how much more The Creator).  I recently read a wonderful book entitled Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate.  What an amazing believer's perspective on, what he calls, creation care.  Recently some of my close friends are coming around to this perspective.  We seem to meet with resistance to what many see as a politically liberal issue.  Maybe it is traditionally a liberal issue, but let's not throw out the baby with the bath water!

Anyway, back to my point.  I am a member of an online community of parents (Natural and Attachment Parents of Richmond) who challenge me in so many ways.  While most of them do not share my faith, they do, overwhelmingly, seek to better themselves in ways that often convict me!

It was through this community that I was introduced to several great books.  I started off reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  This is an account of a family (from here in VA) who ate all local foods for a year.  This got me thinking a lot about the fact that here in the US supermarkets, there are no seasons!  I can have strawberries today if I want.  How far did they travel to get to my supermarket?  Well, pretty far, frankly.

The next book recommend that I picked up was Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  It gets into the business and politics of agriculture, the processes of food production, and really brings to light our government's direct role the problem of obesity!

The final straw for me, though, was the film Food, Inc.  If you haven't seen it, see it!!  It will force you to think about your buying practices.  As for me, I am done with Tyson, Perdue, Monsanto, and all the corporate animal and farmer abusers.  We will be raising our food budget to reflect the choices we will be making.  I am looking to join a natural foods co-op, when we move, we plan to grow a lot of our own food, we will commit to purchasing only free-range chicken, grass fed beef, and to treating our bodies as gently as we treat our earth.

I think I will probably be expanding on this as we get on a bit into this journey. Looking forward to growing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

They just keep coming!!!

Last week they began arriving... The seed catalogs, that is.  They have been conjuring up conflicting feelings in me!  Excitement that planning season is upon us, despair that I cannot plan anything, hope that our house will sell soon enough that I can have a garden...

The thought of the season completely escaping without planting anything is terrible!  So the question is... do I plan for a garden at Hunter's Grove, knowing full well that it may be wasted time and effort?

Monday, January 25, 2010

A tough week.

Last week was pretty tough.  I guess it makes sense that, when you begin the week putting man's best friend to sleep, the rest of the week might not be the best.  Eden had a throw-up bug, Theo was teething and snotty, Ali moped around and was generally pitiful, I realized that I left my good frying pan and knife at the cabin when we went camping, and I had classes to teach.  A few times during the week I was at the end of myself.  A girl can only take so much.

Through all of this, though, God didn't change.  He is still on the throne!!  I really felt the prayers of my friends during the week as God dumped heaps of grace on our little family.  His peace, (you know, the peace that passes understanding) was evident as I woke up mornings I had slept very little and had to clean up vomit, but was still able to smile.  I praise the Lord for his care for us during the tough weeks and every day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mutton Top

I mentioned in my post about Boomer that we went camping last weekend.  It was a wonderful weekend.  We kept it pretty low key and didn't do much hiking, but the girls managed to escape for a few hours for a bit of antiquing in Ruckersville.  I came away with a cute tablecloth I may cut up for a dress or at least an applique!

Here are some photos from our trip.

The sunrise on Saturday morning was amazing.
What a blessing to start the day with this kind of beauty!

While we were glad to share one last camping trip with Boomer, it was hard to see him so frail and to know what awaited us on Monday morning.

It took 2 pictures to get a decent shot of everyone.

Okay, so this has nothing to do with camping, but I had to include it... Is he not the most adorable thing you have ever seen!?!?!?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bye Good Buddy

Our December was shadowed by our 5 year old dog Boomer's cancer diagnosis.  He had always been a slim dog and I had noticed over a few weeks that he was looking downright skinny.  When he began to refuse food, we knew something was wrong.  He also became lethargic.

This dog has always been a bit of a maniac.  Typical boxer hyperactivity, coupled with a serious guard-dog personality made for a loud, bouncy life for him!  He loved to look out the front door and bark at anything that moved.  He was soft and snuggly and a kissing machine.  He and Ali were the greatest of friends.

When we first took him to the vet, they were not looking toward a diagnosis of cancer.  With the loss of appetite and vomiting, they started off with other less sinister illnesses; parasites, giardia, "indiscriminate diet".  When all of those proved to not be the problem (by this time he had lost about 20 pounds) we did more blood work that pointed toward cancer.  Unfortunately, by this time we had exhausted our financial resources with trying to find out what was wrong and we were unable to afford to treat his cancer.

We gave him prednisone to bring down his calcium levels and for several weeks he seemed nearly normal.  It was hard to wrap our hearts and minds around the fact that we would soon lose our good friend.

We went cabin camping this past weekend.  On Friday, he still seemed like himself.  By the time we got to the cabin and the evening came, he was not quite himself.  Friday night, he began vomiting.  Saturday and Sunday he went steadily downhill and by Sunday afternoon, he would walk if forced, but would lie down as soon as you stopped pushing him to walk.  Brandon and I knew that the time had come.

Yesterday we sent Eden to play with her Grandaddy and the rest of us went to the vet.  Brandon, Theo and Ali waited in the car while I took Boomer in.  The vet was wonderful as I held and kissed Boomer until he passed.  It was very peaceful and it was a bit of a relief to know we were doing the right thing for him.  I brought Ali in to see him when he was gone.  We wanted her to understand that he wasn't coming home so she wouldn't wait by the door for him.

He had a good quality of life right up until this past weekend, and it was wonderful that we got to take him camping one last time.  He was a great dog and we are already missing him terribly.

2/21/2004 - 1/18/2010
RIP Sweet Boy

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking Back

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." ~Benjamin Franklin 

If you asked me before I really sat down to think about it, I would have said that my accomplishment for the year was just surviving!  It was a tough one.  I don't make New Year's Resolutions because life happens and often resolutions are not measurable and aren't practical for implementing over a year.  I use the website 43 Things to track my goals and accomplishments.  I challenge you to make some goals and see how many of them you work on this year!  You can see my goals in the right sidebar...

I rang in the new year of 2009 as an extremely uncomfortable pregnant lady.  I had tremendous amounts of pelvic pain from the weight of the baby and I consequently spent a lot of time with my wonderful chiropractor Dr Anna Madland.  I gave birth to a baby who screamed 7 hours out of every day for 8 weeks, and forgot what a night of uninterrupted sleep was like.  I lost 2 great aunts (Mema's only 2 living sisters) in about 6 months time.  Our dog got cancer and we rang in 2010 with the probability of his death looming.

When I really looked back, though, I realized that we still had a pretty incredible year!  We lived on a budget for the first time this year and paid off about a ton of debt!  We no longer have school loans, credit card debt or car payments!  We added a member to our family, and while he rocked the boat quite a bit, he is SUCH a joy!!!  I learned to make yogurt, I sewed more (until the baby came) and we ended Eden's paci habit.  We made an offer on a house (it was accepted) and began preparing for a move.  We did some fierce de-cluttering, had a yard sale, donated lots of stuff to the Goodwill, re-did a bathroom, and put the house on the market.  I did a lot of teaching and hope that I have been making a difference in the lives of women and families through birth education.

Looking forward, some of our family goals for the year are to finish paying off our debt (besides the mortgage), continuing to simplify our lives, save 3-6 months of living expenses, and several others!  We are hoping for a new year of goals met.  I hope yours are met, as well!

Friday, January 1, 2010