Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A less scary article

Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, and one of my favorite non-alarmist, just good information authors, wrote this article about the food we consume:

Cheap Food Nation

A very good read and some great food for thought, with out the alarmist view of the inevitable death of us all. lol...

Wise Traditions

by Sally Fallon author of Nourishing Traditions

This article challanges the way we eat food today. Challanging that when 'they' say that half our diet should be made up of grains it doesn't mean processed grains, and that processed grains can actually be killing us and making our children more suseptable to disease.

I have never thought that cold cereal is good for you. But the main thing that has always held me back in buying it is price. Not nutrition. So when I read this, I was shocked to not only believe what she says, but understand that gut reaction that has told me that cereal isn't good for you. She doesn't use scare tactics... she uses plain facts. Some of which have been covered up by the billion dollar food market that keeps telling us these things are good for us.
Another thing that startled me was the way they put the fat back into milk. Now I am wondering if there is a way to get small farm milk from around here.

And orange juice... just make it yourself. Really.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Salmon Run


The salmon run meets the river close to our house every year in late September till early October. Tumwater Falls park houses about 1500 Chinook Salmon each year... they take the eggs around the first of October and send them to the rivers that need Salmon repopluated.

This year we missed the biggest part of the run, but we did get to see a bunch of Salmon swimming around their tank, and we got to watch the few that were left jumping up the Salmon stairs make their way to where they lay eggs and pass on for the next generation to take over.

It takes them three to five years go to the sea and back again. I didn't realise it was that long... Ones that come back before they are mature are called Jacks. There are a few every year, but most come back when they are ready, like clock work... 3-5 years after they started their lives there.

Pretty neat if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just an amazing moment...

I know that over time I have been preachy, funny, and sometimes really down right silly on this blog.... what I really created it for was to show the things I love in my life. My children, my passions, my moments that change my world... and to show who I am on the inside... not the who I am every day, but the who I want to be. What I aspire to be myself and want to inspire in others.

Today I saw something that brought out the best in me.

I was at a stop light. Next to the side of the road, as there usually is, stood a dirty man, in his 50's, with a cardboard sign that read "Veteran - food - need a job - God bless."

I looked and thought to myself, 'That man is still able to hold a job... what is he doing there? Is he like the bums down by me that trade off and work in shifts? Some of them are so dishonest... don't want to think the worst of the man....... try not to look him in the eye.'

All of this went through my head as I watched a man in his 40's, greying beard, jeans, red jacket, kind, ageless face... 'like my husbands' I thought... walk across the street.

He walked up to the man holding the sign... and asked him for a hug.

The man holding the sign melted into his arms. The man in the red jacket just smiled and held him. By the time the light changed and I drove away the homeless man was crushing his sign with the force of hugging his other man, and obviously crying.

I got tears in my eyes. Tears of joy for the kindness I had just witness and tears of frustration for the judgement I nearly cast upon this man for deceit that others had shown me.

It is rare that you see such life changing moments and know what they are. Moments that you can feel them wash over you like the ocean. But today, I had one of those moments. I doubt I will ever see the homeless on the side of the road the same.

I know that some are deceitful and lazy. I have watched 'bums' go from their corner, to their cars. It has made me angry for the money that I have given previous people that have stood at that corner. I have been hurt. But this man... he didn't do anything, and that small act of kindness very obviously the best part of his day. His week. Perhaps his life.

I was there to witness that.

I would rather be duped a million times than miss that look on one persons face when it could be made by me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Avocado Chicken Curry

This is a recipe from a friend of mine and fellow food co-op member. It is a hit with everyone but Don, who doesn't like curry, or avocados. lol...

Avocado Curry Chicken

2 1/2 Tbs butter
1/3 cup chopped, cored apples
2 1/2 Tbs chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tea mild curry powder
2 1/2 Tbs flour
2/3 cup light cream
2/3 cup chicken broth
2/3 tea salt
dash of pepper
1 1/3 cups cooked boneless chicken breast
2 1/2 halved, pealed avocados

In saucepan, saute apples, onion, garlic, and curry powder in the butter until onion is crisp tender. Stir in flour. Gradually add cream and broth, cook and stir until sauce boils 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, and chicken. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Slice or chop avocados and place over cooked rice. Pour hot sauce over the top of the avos and the rice.

And for a snack... cantalope and grapes with a festive pumpkin pick.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fun stuff!

V A L

Wind storm and Fall Morning

The same wind storm that blew all of the leaves off Cyan's leaf experiment branch in the back yard knocked down 5 trees in the parking lot of our local Blockbuster. We went to rent a movie just after the windstorm died down (luckily we were not in the area that lost power, so it was movie and popcorn night for us) and this is what we saw everywhere:

Isn't that amazing? What is even more amazing, is that the apples on my neighbor's tree still didn't fall off. So all around the city there are trees broken in half, but the apples still stand firm. Blows my mind.

Cyan and I and our homeschool group went to the pumpking patch, (I am sure I will share pictures of when I get them). The pumpkin she ended up picking is so perfect it's almost unnatural. Perfectly round, perfectly orange, ready for carving this next weekend for Halloween. Isn't that color amazing?

Autumn is so stunning!

Blueberry bush:

Nasturtium leaves with some of the 9 inches of rain we have gotten already this month.

My favorite garden plant, Lemon Verbena. These beautiful little purple flowers are a bonus to the wonderful lemon drop smell they give every time you touch them. They stay until the first frost or so... I try to plan it so I bring them in made into bouquets just before the frost.

My new garden boots and the starts that have planted themselves in my pathway. Crazy me, I am kindof enjoying the messy new start feel of the path.

Cyan raking leaves while Logan watches on, because it is finally dry enough to jump in them! YAY!

More fun with Food...

Here is one of the kids more typical lunches. Although I am experimenting with sandwiches and different varieties there of. This one is a "breadless" sandwich made with salami, chedder and spinach on a skewer. Alex was THRILLED to use the skewers. Who knew that skewers would open up new main dish possibilities. I guese they are "just fun enough". There is a Japanese 100 grain bar (tons of grain and protien in this little bar), and some cut up veggies with a container of Ceasar dressing at the bottom. Yes, that is a Dikon Radish cut into the shape of a flower and carrots cut in the shape of goldfish. Yes, I only packed one flower in Alex's lunch, less he get teesed. I will have to see how that went when he gets home.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fun Food!


The kids and I have been having fun with Bento lunches lately. It has been so much fun! Cooking cute stuff, having the kids help, making tiny portions, collecting small containers for things, packing lunches for outings, talking about food... a great hobby for us to have. We have made everything from pressed rice shapes, to PB&J cut outs, to these cute quesdillas made with cookie cutters and two kinds of cheese. These are our farm quesidillas. The cow, the cat, (there was a cyote and a dog, but those went to Logan) and of course, the farmgirl that takes care of them all. :)

Perfect after school snack!

And here is Cyan's lunch:

There are usually more fruits and veggies, but it is shopping day. lol... so we will have more healthy stuff tomorrow. As it is, we have a WW butterfly, moon, flower and star with crunchy peanut butter and pretzel sticks with a tiny container of dip. We are looking for new fruits to try for next week. It is great for the kids to be so into food... healthy food at that.

At first I was worried about waste. But between the chickens, worms, and the baby all eating the table scraps, well we haven't had an issue with that at all yet. Just a whole lot of fun!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From a distance...


From a distance this garden looks fine. Up close, things are dying and it is painfully obvious. The tomatoes that ripen are split by the next days rains. The beans are hanging on their tee pee with the sad look of yellow leaves. The pathway has a million little starts in it from the more active seeders. The rock boarder is sadly overgrown with grass that is constantly too wet to mow. Always wet, always yellowing and old... the late fall garden can't really be weeded due to the constant damp of the air, and of course, the simi-constant pelting rain. But from a distance...

It always feels like a death, watching the garden go pear shaped like this. Sad, in a way, that another years harvest is over, and happy in a way, because I enjoy being inside. I like my cup of tea hot, and my sweaters wool. I like it cold. But for gardening? The season ended so fast this year. I am loving my hot cup of something and my knee high socks, but I miss my garden already.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Every Year


Every single year my Dahlias stay out until the first frost, my flower heads like this time of year best and stay beautiful and full for many more days than they last in the heat of summer. This year, I got mostly pink ones. I am not sure what happened underground but my white one hasn't shown many blooms at all this year. One or two, like albino chicks in a flock of black chickens. lol... But the pink ones are just beautiful!


I love dahlias. They remind me of starched and ironed pleats. Well groomed and well kempt. Mother nature's neat freak. With a little lace around the edges...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Autumn Nights

Don smokes cigars. Not very often, but every now and again when the night mood strikes he will run out and get a good cigar and we will sit on the back poarch and talk while he smokes.

The black oak is turning. Cyan calls it a "rainbow oak" becuase it has every shade of green, yellow, brown, and red decorating it's beautiful leaves. The leaves fall, and the kids rake them up to play in the pile. What a beautiful time Autumn is! Last night, sitting outside, bundled against this near freezing evening, watching the stars from under that beautiful tree with my husband while he enjoys one of his only vices... well, it was beautiful.

Just as he came out from checking on the baby, an owl flew overhead. It's white body was visable even in the moonless night. It flew above us, startling me with its call, searching for the meal that brought it from it's warm nest on this cold evening. Above it was a star lit sky. There were no clouds this night. We saw constilations, and a star that pulsed red and white, a morse becon in the dark.

Both of us are just amazed at what this life has brought us. We have been together for 9 years and we have never been as secure or content as we are now. Finally instead of working for something we can't see, we are working for what we love, right here, right now. Finally, instead of digging ourselves in, we are digging out. We were both taken by the amazing reality that this is the life we have been waiting for. We are in it. Here, now. Don was nearly moved to tears.

For the last 5 years I have had a matra on my bathroom mirror. It says "I have faith in a future I can not see." For a long time that seemed true... we couldn't see the end of this journey. Now, all of a sudden we are here, now.

Salsa!

That is what to do when all those tomatoes ripen right? Right! This stuff was SO good last night with the Taco Soup for dinner. YUM!

A friend sent me this link for a great salsa recipe: Salsa Recipe

I even went to the store to get some chips just so we could eat more of this lovely garden tomato salsa. lol!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dreaming of warmer weather

It is nearly freezing at night now. My tomatoes had just started producing. I hadn't even gotten a quart of salsa out of them yet. So I brought all the ones that I thought would ripen indoors and put them in my front window. Here's hoping!

Our last little summer vacation

These are pictures that I never posted from about a month ago.
It was still kindof warm, it was still kind of summer... it almost froze here last night.

Amazing what a month can do.

The tallest lighthouse in Washington state.

Looking up from the inside.

Playing in the last warm days of summer...

Logan in the sand for the first time.

My sweet beautiful boy...

How Far Can Your Dollar Stretch?

By Sally Squires
Tuesday, June 19, 2007; Page HE05

Several members of Congress recently made news when they tried to see if they could subsist on $21 per week -- the average amount that food stamp recipients receive to supplement their income.

Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), co-sponsors of legislation to add $4 billion to the $33 billion food stamp program, challenged their colleagues to join them in trying to eat for just $1 per meal.

McGovern struggled: "No organic foods, no fresh vegetables; we were looking for the cheapest of everything," he told The Washington Post as a food stamp recipient helped him shop. "We got spaghetti and hamburger meat that was high in fat -- the fattiest meat on the shelf. I have high cholesterol and always try to get the leanest, but it's expensive. It's almost impossible to make healthy choices on a food-stamp diet."

No question: That's a tight budget. But with a few cooking skills and a little basic nutrition knowledge, it's doable.

Food stamp benefits, which go to 26 million low-income Americans annually, are given out monthly, not weekly, allowing recipients to buy in bulk. That average $21 per person per week becomes about $90 for the full month. A family of four can receive a maximum of $518 per month -- or about $120 per week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

When even "value meals" at fast-food restaurants cost several bucks, how much can such a slim food budget buy?

Plenty, according to Tom Wolfe, owner of a natural foods store in Takoma Park. In a recent op-ed piece for The Post, Wolfe noted that most of the people he meets on his travels in the developing world eat a simple diet of grains, beans and vegetables.

Inspired by their example, he began to spend just $25 a week for food. "I have been able, through careful planning, to feed myself well -- with enough left over to prepare lunch four days a week for the five people on the staff of my store," he wrote. "Virtually my entire diet since April has been grains and beans certified-organic and a mix of organic and cheaper non-organic vegetables."

Okay, but cooking from scratch is tough if you're pressed for time. These days, people of all income groups are cooking less and dining out more.

Rick Hindle, executive chef for the Skadden, Arps law firm in Washington, showed recently that you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare healthful food for $1 or less per meal -- although you do need some basic culinary skills. As part of the launch of a new USDA Web site for food stamp recipients, Hindle cooked colorful quesadillas (60 cents per serving), spinach and meat cakes with brown rice (92 cents) and orange banana frosty (52 cents). All 400 recipes in the database adhere to the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The recipes are available in English and Spanish.

"They were easy to make, with only three to four ingredients," Hindle said. "They're good for you, and they tasted great." So great, in fact, that Hindle, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, plans to add the quesadillas and some of the other recipes to his regular repertoire. (Find photos, recipes and links to menus at http://www.leanplateclub.com.)

Of course, many food stamp recipients live in neighborhoods with limited grocery stores and often don't have access to a car. A few may find help from the growing number of online grocery delivery services, such as Peapod.com. Delivery costs about $7 to $10 per order. But the services often aren't available in poorer neighborhoods.


So to see how far the food stamp benefits stretched, I headed to a local Giant grocery store in Washington, adjacent to public transportation. My budget: $120, the maximum weekly benefit for a family of four on food stamps. (See how much that buys at http://www.leanplateclub.com.)

I spent about an hour and a half shopping for bargains and used a discount card (available free at the store) to save more. Here's a sampling of what I found:

Dried beans. With the discount card, beans cost as little as 55 cents per pound. That makes 16 servings at 4 cents each to put into tacos, bean dip, soups, chili, salads and more. Downside: Cooking dried beans takes time. But a batch can be frozen.

Canned salmon. Just 14 cents per ounce, compared with $7.99 and up (about 50 cents an ounce) for fresh. Great for salmon patties or salmon loaf.

Fruit. A big challenge until I found a large watermelon for $5.99. It could provide about 12 servings.

Eggs and tofu. At $1.89 per dozen, eggs are a low-cost protein source. So is tofu, at $2.99 per container. Both stretched farther than any meat I could find.

Whole grains. It took time, but I found a whole-grain loaf with extra fiber for $2.39. I bought two loaves, for sandwiches, toast and French toast.

Salad dressing. Bottled was too expensive. I stretched my dollars with the discount card to buy a store-brand olive oil ($7.59) -- it can also be used for cooking -- and apple cider vinegar to make a vinaigrette. Tip from Hindle: Turn it into mock-balsamic dressing by adding a tablespoon of sugar, honey or molasses to a cup of vinegar.

Vegetables. Ten bags of frozen veggies for $10 beat both fresh and canned and are nutritionally the same.

In short, eating on a food stamp budget was challenging, but not as difficult as some members of Congress might think.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are many debatable points here. But over all I believe that she is sending a great message. You CAN eat well on a seriously low budget. I do it every month. I only allow $150 per pay peroid (two weeks) for my family of 5 (three of which eat like grown ups). We eat mostly organic, a lot of local foods, and we eat really well. We hardly ever make frozen or canned vegetables, prefering the fresh. I can my own fruits which cut the cost of those foods in the winter time in half at least. It takes effort. It takes planning, but it absolutly can be done. Even when you are crunched for time, or money. What is amazing to me is how many people think it is impossible, and that attitude goes from dispare to giving up in a matter of week of trying... or a matter of one menu screw up... and then go back to eating top ramen because they only have $100 a week for a grocery budget. It takes TIME... It also takes some room. To eat whole grains, and fresh vegetables may sound great, but when we were on food stamps this is the pantry I had. I went grocery shopping in two trips per month. One at the begining (which was about $200) and the second (about $40) for fresh fruits and veggies two weeks later.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Budget Changes

We are making some serious changes to out budget. For one, with the dinner co-op, we don't have to buy nearly as much food. Granted, we have to buy 5 of whatever meal is me this week, and essentially cook for 30 people every Sunday instead of 5 people each day. But with such a small list (even if it is times 5) the grocery budget has been nearly halved. How nice!

So in the spirit of putting as much of our savings on the credit cards we have built up over dh's academy year, I have made this budget folder.



We work in cash envelopes. We have for months... which really helps keep us on track. Using debit and credit cards, it is SO easy to over spend. So now I have broken down the budget even more and separated it into categories... those categories have a set amount. When that amount is gone, it's gone. Period. That should help even more. I will adjust folders and amounts as I go, but for now, I feel like this is right.

Zero Based Budget... here I come.

Dinner Co-op

Anyone missing my food posts?

I have joined a Dinner Co-op. It has been great for the most part, but I am not cooking much that is mine. Even the one above is only supplemented by me. The chicken noodle soup was from a friend. I added parsley, a cube of bouillon, and the noodles... and that was it.

The food posts aren't gone. But with the once a week cooking, they won't be often... last week I made my "Best Chili Ever", so I couldn't even post that because it's already up here. It was a cinch to adapt that one for the co-op though. I was surprised. I just put the cans of kidney beans, the can of black beans, the can of corn, and then saute'ed the onions, garlic, and peppers with all the spices... put them on the bottom in a 9X13 inch Pyrex brownie pan. Added two Tbs chili powder on top, and told them to add 2 Tbs butter, and 2 cups water. It worked out perfect (because of course, I made one for us too). I was stunned. I totally thought that them sitting, half cooked, for two days would ruin them, but I got nothing but rave reviews so far. Yay!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook


OMG... this book is one I will need to own. It is stuffed FULL of great ideas for the Farmgirl In All of Us as MaryJane says on the front cover. Everything from how to hem stitch to how to cook a one pot meal on a campfire, this book has it all. It even has jump rope songs from her childhood that will bring back memories from the youngest and oldest of us. Beautiful pictures are littered through this volume of her life. Truly an inspirational book! And one to own as well... because you will want to go back and use the ideas and recipes again and again.

Gonna be a bear...

In this life I'm a woman.

In my next life, I'd like to come back as a bear.

When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs.

I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.

I could deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup...gonna be a bear.

Anne of the Island


A great book! This book takes place while Anne is in Redmond at college and when Gilbert gets sick... technically most of the Anne of Avonlea movie, but without the Pringles which are technically in Anne of Windy Popplers... they just made it more interesting for the maxi series. We have all been really into the stories this month.

Anne becomes a woman in this book. While she is at college living in the Patty's Place house with her girlfriends she starts dating men, has tiffs with girlfriends, and has school ups and downs. It is a great book to read for just a good laugh, a good cry, a good friendship and love book.

Surprisingly good...

I was thinking that I needed to use up the left overs, and wanted a one bowl reheat lunch. So I threw in some left over oat meal and some delicata squash and some brown sugar and chopped dried apricots... and it is surprisingly good! I just wanted to give a heads up to all those other people with massive amounts of cooked leftover squash in their fridge right now.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Collecting seeds for next year...

Alex and I set about to collecting the bean seeds for the next year a few days ago. It was the last sunny day we have had. The last two days have been nothing but heavy rain on and off with light rain. It has been beautiful, but definitely fall.

The trees are starting to turn. Just in the last three days we have started to get that heavy chill in the air. The summer never got hot this year, so we have had blankets on the bed the whole summer, but just this week we have needed the down comforters and just this morning I turned the heat on for the first time this season. The time for short sleeves and sleeping under a summer quilt are done.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Our first eggs in French toast


Cyan, Alex, and I decided to make French Toast with our first eggs from our chickens. It was really neat to see the difference between our eggs and store bought eggs. And these eggs aren't even full size yet! They were more dense, had a ton more color, and were just more nutritious looking. lol...

You can see the difference here in the bowl... the top three are ours and the bottom three are store bought eggs.

And here is our yummy French Toast as it was cooking.

The kids loved it and were so excited! And it was good too.