Thursday, December 30, 2010

Extreme Coupons

Tom and I were watching some show last night. Well, in all honesty Tom was kind of watching it off and on and I was in the kitchen cooking dinner simply listening to it. I'm not even sure what the name of the show was but they were talking about these super crazy shoppers who use coupons to the extreme. Seriously, this guy bought like $5,000 worth of items at the grocery store and only paid $200 for it. Pure craziness.

A woman on there that does the extreme coupon shopping said something that perked my interest. She was talking about being able to eat healthier while going with these coupons. She even said to "call the company and tell them you want to eat healthier and ask for coupons." I thinks she ended up buying about $250 worth of food and only paying $6 for it.

Now hold on here. As far as I know coupons are really only available for processed food. Sure stores will have in-store deals on whole foods like produce and meat, but that's not coupons. She was talking about coupons.

I find it sad that Americans have been taught over the years (by the food companies, mind you) that processed food is "healthy" food. Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, South Beach Diet products being the more obvious culprits. They trick people into thinking they are healthy, when in fact they are not all they're cracked up to be.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Trust the Cow Not the Man

I've been saying this for awhile and finally people are talking about it!

I will not eat margarine or "vegetable spread." Even the transfat-free stuff. Nope. Not going to do it. Heidi from Itty Bitty Farm in the City  posted two great articles recently on this very idea.

The first article is about a study by the Harvard School of Public Health that found that people with a specific fatty acid found in cheese and other dairy products in their blood were 60% less likely to develop diabetes. Oh yeah! Go Cow!

The second article is actually a scary look at what exactly is in some popular food items out there that try to imitate the real thing. Well, the meat doesn't try, but it's pretty disgusting. The article also points out that the real thing whether it's real bacon vs. turkey bacon and bacon bits or regular peanut butter vs. the low-fat version is actually healthier than it's fake counterpart.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Week 12 - It was Interesting!

Leftovers. Every once in awhile we declare it's a night for "fending for ourselves." This was one of those nights.

Monday - 
Chili with ground grassfed beef, beans from our yard, tomato sauce from our canned tomatoes, pressure canned roasted bell peppers from our garden, frozen corn from our garden, garlic from our garden and onions from the farmers' market. Tom and Jerry drinks for dessert.

Tuesday -
Salisbury steak with brussels sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes from the farmers' market.

Wednesday -
Tom had a big potluck at work so he wasn't hungry. I pretty much just grazed and didn't eat anything substantial.

Thursday - 
We went to my mother-in-law's house for dinner with Tom's immediate family.

Friday - 
The Christmas Eve tradition in my family is a crab feed. Since my mom moved to Ohio it's just my cousin and I to carry it on. So Tom, Monique and our friend Scott, aka Angus had crab with homemade artisan bread and a pseudo-Caesar salad.

Saturday -
We spent Christmas at Tom's aunt's home with his family. We brough homemade bread and crab dip from the crab remaining from Friday night.

Sunday -
Sauteed Kale (need to find a better recipe because this just doesn't cut it) from the farmers' market, mashed sweet potatoes also from the farmers' market and brined turkey. We've had the turkey in our freezer for longer than I care to share. It was OK. We used a different brine spice mix and we forgot the butter and herbs when we roasted it. Granted it was better than most turkey we've tried but it wasn't the BEST ever.

Reflections -
It was Christmas week! It meant that food was, well, not-so-great for us. Fudge seemed to be the main theme this year. It seems like everyone was giving us some. Candies came in a close second. My sister-in-law and niece made theses AMAZING little balls of bliss that they called "Oreo balls." And yes, they had Oreo cookies in them. My personal favorite was the white-chocolate-dipped pretzels they made. Oh, and Tom's coworkers' wife made the best almond toffee I've ever had!

That said, I came out of this week feeling physically ill. One small piece of fudge would give my indigestion. I've also realized that after eating this way that I can now taste chemicals in a lot of store-bought food and it's disgusting. I used to like diet sodas and then I tried some on Thursday and ended up taking one sip and dumping the rest. I can't believe I ever drank that. I can also taste them in non-dairy creamer. Cold cuts are way to salty for me now. Most meat is unappetizing. And eating it makes me feel gross and slightly nauseous. It's amazing the changes that have occurred.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Have We Really Fallen This Far?

A friend on Facebook posted a Slate article that I found hilarious and disturbing all at the same time. Apparently insulting people by saying they eat fruits and vegetables has become the "in" thing to do. To eat fruits and vegetables is "elitist" and "socialist." Really? Are you kidding me? So I guess that makes your mom and grandmother ("Now eat your vegetables or you get no dessert!") an elite socialist. It truly is laughable. But at the same time it's sad that we have become so far removed from real, wholesome food.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mmmmm, Eggnog

Mmmmmm, eggnog, how I love thee. Rich creamy yumminess. It's amazingly easy to make. I don't cook my eggnog but if I used commercial eggs I probably would. My hens have tested negative for salmonella so I'm not worried about that. You can heat the milk and cream until it's steamy and slightly frothy and add the beaten eggs to it stirring constantly to thicken it up more. I prefer my eggnog cold though. If I want a warm drink I make a Tom and Jerry, which is very similar in taste but it's warm and has fewer eggs in it.

So here's my recipe. Feel free to take plenty of liberties with it.

1 cup heavy cream
1 quart whole milk
3/4 cup sugar, divided
5 egg yolks, beaten
5 egg whites
3 oz bourbon or dark rum (I prefer a really good spiced rum such a Kilo Kai)
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Combine cream, milk, 1/2 cup sugar and yolks in a pitcher. Stir until sugar dissolves and yolks are incorporated.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add sugar and beat until glossy. Fold whites into above mixture. Stir in alcohol and nutmeg. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on top and serve cold.

What I really like about this eggnog is that it isn't heavy handed with the alcohol. I normally don't like alcohol in my eggnog just because it always seems to be too much. This recipe is perfectly balanced. You can still taste the alcohol but it doesn't overpower the eggnog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weeks 10 and 11 - Yeah, I forgot

Mmmm, Homemade Eggnog

Holy cow! I forgot to post this last week!

Week 10

Sunday -
My mom is back in town and took us to our favorite Mexican Restaurant. Boy was that good!

Monday -
French Onion Soup with farmers' market onions and homebaked bread. Eggnog for dessert!

Tuesday -
Homemade gnocchi from farmers' market potatoes and tomato sauce from our harvest. Eggnog for dessert!

Wednesday -
BBQ chicken pizza with mushrooms and grilled onions from the farmers' market.

Thursday -
Tom had inventory at work so I made a stirfry thing from this bag we had in the freezer for at least 6 months. More on that later.

Friday -
Tom made chicken soup with George's carcass. I was at a cooking class with my best friend and her office (holiday party I was invited to because I do some work for them) learning how to make authentic Indian food. Yum!

Saturday -
Grassfed beef fajitas with mushrooms and onions from the farmers' market, homemade tortillas and guacamole (ingredients from the farmers' market) with spanish rice (tomato sauce from our tomatoes that we processed, onions from farmers' market).

Week 11

Sunday -
Grassfed beef steaks with a Zhug rub from the spice market. Served with mashed sweet potatoes from our garden and cranberry sauce. Individual apple crisps for dessert.

Monday -
Salisbury steak with grassfed ground beef, mushrooms and onions from the farmers' market with peas from our garden. Jeanette offered up some of her mac and cheese as a side.

Tuesday -
Grassfed Meatloaf with potatoes, carrots and turnips from the farmers' market. Served with homemade, canned ketchup.

Wednesday -
I was soooo not hungry. We had a holiday potluck at work. I made handmade gnocchi with marinara from our canned tomatoes. Tom ended up having stirfry from whatever veggies we had hiding in the fridge.

Thursday -
Tom's holiday office party took care of our meal for this night.

Friday -
Roast chuck roast with potatoes and spinach from the garden. Rice pudding for dessert.

Saturday - 
Green chili stew from tomatillos from our garden. Pastured pork from the butcher. Veggies from the farmers' market.

These next couple of weeks are going to be interesting. Mostly because the farmers' market, which runs on Saturdays will not be open for the next two weekends, which means we won't have a regular source for food for the next 3 weeks. The produce stand we sometimes go to is also closed for the season. We did buy a lot of extra food yesterday at the farmers' market and made sure that most of it lasts a long time so hopefully we're good. I am worried that we didn't get enough onions. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why We're Doing This - Reason #6

I can't stress enough how IMPORTANT it is to know your farmer and your food. One of the biggest things that has changed for us is where our meat comes from. All of our meat now, if we don't raise it ourselves, comes from hunting (pheasants and geese from Jeanette) or is pasture raised and slaughtered humanely usually in the form of ranch kill. Ranch kill is done, as the name implies, at the ranch, where the animal is at home. It is less stressed and their death is much more humane and quick. The meat is much more expensive, however, we are now eating less of it and with the other changes we have made in our diet we are still spending less on food than we were when we were buying junk from the grocery store.

Recently an undercover HSUS investigator went to a pig farm owned by a subsidiary of Smithfield. Here's a short video that I think everyone should watch. You can also read more about it here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why We're Doing This: Reason #5

I haven't posted in awhile about food politics so here's a good one. Some companies, like Kellogg's (who also refuses to eliminate GMOs from their foods) refuses to remove cancer-causing dyes from their food. However, they have removed it from their products in European countries. Apparently their food safety regulations are a lot stronger there and actually watch out for their citizens. You can read the article here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

So How Difficult Is It?

The first question everyone asks us when we share what we're doing with them is "so how hard is it?"

It's ridiculously hard.

No, actually it's not. For some reason people think it takes a lot of time and effort to eat real food that we prepare ourselves. I wrote a post about time management over on Dog Island Farm that can give you a peek into just how much time we spend growing/raising food.

In all honesty, we do spend quite a bit of time preparing food, whether it's for dinner, or creating handmade snacks and baking. But I don't see it as spending too much time on it. What else are most people doing with their time? Watching TV? Playing video games? Surfing the internet?

I recently came across this article thanks to farmCurious. The premise is that studies have shown that the harder we work for food the better we perceive it tasting and therefore the more satisfying it is so we eat less of it. If you consider the obesity problem in the U.S. and how it correlates today to how accessible food, particularly unhealthy food, is to us now it make sense. We can just throw something pre-processed into a microwave or pick it up through the fast food drive thru window. We keep eating it because it's just not satisfying us.

There are other benefits to preparing our own food of course. We know what's in it. We can avoid corn, soy and all of their derivitives. No need to try and pronounce the names of the chemicals, preservatives, flavors or colors.

Another bonus is that I'm becoming a much better cook and baker. Nothing like actually doing it to learn how to become good at it.

So for us, the little bit of extra time we spend preparing meals is more than worth it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 9 - Let's Get Serious

Eggs in a Nest: Swiss Chard and Garlic from our garden sauteed with onions from a produce stand topped with our hens' eggs served with rice and a mash of sweet potatoes from our garden.

Pastured heritage pork, sauteed potatoes, onions and brussels sprouts from the produce stand.

Falafel with homemade tortillas, tahini sauce (sesame seeds from the spice merchant), and tzatziki sauce (homemade yogurt with limes and cucumbers from the produce stand). The falafel was made from canned garbanzo beans that we've had for months, though we do have garbanzos that we grew in our garden.

Grass fed beef and rice stew with carrots, peppers and onions from the produce market.

Handmade pheasant stuffed raviolis with a creamy whiskey sauce. Mmmmmm. It's great having a hunter stay with us because our freezer is full of game. For dessert we had homemade eggnog with some dark rum (not homemade).

George. Our first chicken that we raised and slaughtered ourselves. He was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. He wasn't the "rubberbands" that people told us he would be. He was surprisingly tender and flavorful. Best roasted chicken I've ever eaten. Because he wasn't a Cornish X, but instead a Black Austrolorp, he wasn't overly muscled like Cornish X birds are. We had him with roasted potatoes and turnips from the produce stand and sauteed cabbage and cauliflower from the produce stand.

Saturday -
We went to a friends' house to celebrate my mom being in town. We brought a Buffalo chuck roast that we had bought at a bison ranch in Wyoming and lettuce from our garden for the salad. Potatoes were also served.

We're nearing the end of our supplies that we had from before we started. We had also noticed that we were eating a LOT more bread and bread-like foods so this week we decided to focus more on fresh fruits, vegetables and meat. I feel better about that. Our meals were more varied. The unfortunate part was that some of our meals this week didn't give us a chance to have leftovers for the following day's lunch.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Hair Trial

Back in September I wrote about using baking soda and vinegar on my hair as shampoo and conditioner. I figured it's about time I update you all about how it's going.

The first thing I've noticed is that my hair is so much softer and shinier than before. There's never any product buildup either. The biggest bonus though is that my hair color (I dye my hair if you missed the first post) stays true much longer. I use non-permanent color and my roots are growing out and my color still hasn't faded.

As for the oily hair - it's still oily and usually in the winter it's extra oily. The baking soda gets rid of it just like shampoo, but it doesn't stay away any longer than with shampoo.

My hair is a lot healthier though. It doesn't break as much anymore and I don't have any split ends even though I blow dry.

So would I recommend using baking soda and vinegar? Yes! It's so much healthier not just for your hair but also for you. It doesn't have the chemicals and irritants that commercial shampoo and conditioner contain.