"When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgment and understanding, peace and happiness result. She thus controls the family's health and destiny, also her husband's mood, disposition and feeling, and assures the futures of her children." - Jaques DeLangre

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Microwave Popcorn!

One of my kids told me a while ago about how workers at factories that make microwave popcorn have to wear full-body protective suits because the chemicals in the "butter" flavoring are toxic. Needless to say we cut that out of our diets. (This was before we retired our own microwave.) I found an article today that says basically the same thing. It talked about how the companies making it said they took the toxins out several years ago but now studies are showing that the stuff they replaced it with is just as toxic! Some workers at these plants are filing lawsuits over it!

I KNOW it tastes great and it's fast, but it's TOXIC! You can buy an air popper for $10 and a bag of popcorn kernels for about $1.50. Pop your own and drizzle melted butter and real salt over it and YUM!!! An inexpensive, healthy snack! Get that toxic crap out of your pantry and into the trash ASAP! An easy thing to do to improve your family's health right now! Don't tell me it's extreme to toss it out or that I shouldn't believe everything I hear. Sometimes you HAVE to be extreme in order to keep yourself and your family healthy. Research it yourself and see what you find. I would love to talk about it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Are We Happy In The Kitchen?

I've been rolling this question around in my mind for the last few days. Am I happy in the kitchen? The other day I was working away in the kitchen and I was NOT happy. I was actually feeling sorry for myself! I spend SO much time preparing and cooking food!

In the middle of my pity party I started to think about women 100, even 50 years ago, and what their lives were like. Becoming a wife and mother was the highest and ultimate goal for women back then. Their lives revolved around feeding and caring for their family's needs. They didn't have microwaves or processed foods so they must have spent a large amount of time preparing and cooking food. The ability to cook and care for a family were qualities men desired and valued in women. Mothers trained their daughters from a young age to be able to cook and care for a family. Even 50 years ago almost every woman was a "stay at home mom." This title wasn't looked down on or belittled. It was held in high esteem!

As I stood thinking this over that day I think the Lord blessed me with a little insight and I want to share it. I know many will disagree with me, but I still need to get it out! Here's my take on the matter: When my great grandma, or even my grandma, cooked a meal for her family it took quite a bit of work! Baking bread, chopping things, peeling things, maybe even plucking things! By the time she set the meal on the table she had really worked! Then I bet she watched the look on her husband's face as he bit into his homemade roll dripping with butter. I bet she watched as her children happily, even greedily ate what she had labored over. Her heart and soul took great pleasure in their happiness and satisfaction. She had done her part once again by nourishing her family! It made her HAPPY! Of course I know her life wasn't always sunshine and roses, but she knew that her role was important and I think she felt fulfilled by her efforts.

Flash forward to me just a few years after I got married. My skills in the kitchen were limited. I hadn't taken much time growing up to learn those skills from my mother. I didn't think they mattered much! I could make a great salad, mac-n-cheese, tuna casserole and beef stroganoff. I knew how to open cans really well and I knew how to run the microwave. I learned to make homemade (white) bread and thought I was doing good. Was I happy in the kitchen? No, not really.

I think all the fast and convenient food we have access to today has to some degree robbed women of the sense of accomplishment that comes from REALLY cooking. We rush in from work or running kids around all day to heat up pizza rolls in the microwave or open a can of something and hurry to get everyone fed so we can move onto the next thing we have to do. Looking back over our day where do we get the sense that what we did really made a difference in the lives of our family?

Being a stay at home home is now on the bottom of the list of important jobs for women. Stop any girl walking to school and ask her what she wants to be when she grows up and how many of them will say, "A mother!" Girls can be anything they want today and be a mother too. But will they be happy? The world says a woman can't possibly be happy being "just" a stay at home mom! Do young girls see their mothers being happy in the kitchen? Did their mothers see their mothers being happy in the kitchen?

I have chosen to "do it the hard way" when it comes to cooking. I don't buy processed food. I make pretty much everything from scratch. I don't use the microwave, I don't use white sugar, white flour, or white rice. There's more, but you get the idea. I'm sure you are rolling your eyes and wondering why I do this when there are so many quicker options available. You'll have to read my other posts to really understand that. What it all comes down to, what I felt the Lord helped me understand the other day, is that I cook this way because it's how I show my love for my family. (Please note that I said "I." This is my way and I know it's not every one's way and THAT'S OKAY!) I know that every day at almost every meal my family is nourished and strengthened because of my efforts. That (usually!) gives me a great feeling of self worth and accomplishment. BUT, sometimes being a stay at home mom frustrates me and I long to go out and save the world! Maybe not even save the world, but just do SOMETHING and get recognized (and PAID) for it! I think the Lord understands this and has led me to this "style" of cooking to help me feel that recognition. When my kids are chowing down on homemade ice cream or a soup I spent a long time making and one of them says, "Mom, this is the best thing you ever made! I wish you made this every night!" THAT is when my heart fills with joy and I know that I AM saving the world...one kid at a time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Cookie Recipe

Graham Cracker Cookies

I am so excited about these cookies! I have been trying to perfect my own version of peanut butter cookies for a while. Yesterday I tweaked the recipe a little and they looked great when they came out of the oven! I served them to the family with a glass of raw milk. I dipped my cookie in my milk and took a bite. I was instantly transported back to my childhood and the memory of dipping graham crackers in milk. SO GOOD! These cookie cookies are light and fluffy thanks to arrowroot powder. There is no wheat in them at all! (Have you ever tried to make cookies out of whole wheat flour? Mine never turn out good!) You can eat these cookies without guilt - everything in them is REAL and GOOD FOR YOU!

What you need:

1/2 cup butter, softened (DON'T microwave it!)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup sucanat
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla
2-3 cups arrowroot powder

What to do:

Heat the oven to 350. Get out your baking stones or cookie trays. In a large bowl mix the butter, peanut butter, sucanat and honey. Mix well with a fork. Add the eggs and baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla. Mix well. Add two cups arrowroot powder and mix well. Keep adding more arrowroot powder a little at a time until you can take a glob of dough and roll it into a ball in your hand without it sticking to you. To form the cookies, scoop out the dough with a tablespoon and roll it into a ball. Arrange the balls on your stone or tray so they have some space between them - probably about 12 to a tray. Mine took about 20 minutes to cook. After about 15 minutes check on them. They get really fluffy and they get cracks in them. You want them to be golden. It may take you a few batches to really know when yours are done. This recipe make about 20 medium cookies. Enjoy! (With raw milk of course!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Making Pizza With Soaked Dough

Pizza is one of everyone's favorite foods! Try this recipe and you will never feel guilty about eating "just one more slice" again!

You Will Need:
Pizza pans - stone is best
1 batch of Caralee's soaked dough (Makes three crusts. See previous post.)
Toppings of your choice:
We like - good quality pepperoni (look at the healthfood store)
sliced mushrooms
chopped green peppers
sliced zucchini
cheese (Tillamook!)

Sauce #1
1 1/2 cups Daisy sour cream
1/2 - 1 tspn garlic powder
1-2 - 1 tspn onion powder
1/2 tspn Real Salt

Mix this all together and taste it. Experiment with how much of the spices you like. This also makes great veggie dip!

Sauce #2
1 can tomato sauce (I use my homemade ketchup!)
Add basil, oregano, garlic powder, Real salt - whatever you like!

To make the crust:
Take your dough, don't forget to add the salt and baking soda, and split it into three equal chunks! Heat your oven to 350. Sprinkle a little arrowroot powder on your pizza stone (so the dough won't stick) and roll the dough out into the shape of your pizza stone. Roll it out a little past the edge of the stone and then fold that little extra up to form the edge of the crust. Bake this for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. If you have more than one stone you can be baking another crust while the first one cools. I have two stones and a metal pizza pan. Walmart sells really inexpensive round stones - a good investment! After it has cooled a little spread the sauce of your choice on the crust. Add the toppings of your choice, ending with the cheese. When all your crusts are cooked turn the oven onto broil. My oven lets me choose a high or low broil. I go with low. Put your completed pizza under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove, let cool a little and ENJOY!!!

1. If three is too many for your family - I feed all eight of us with three - just put your third chunk of dough in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge. Make buscuits with it tomorrow!

2. We like the sour cream sauce on an all veggie pizza and the tomato sauce on the pepperoni. The sour cream sauce is also good with chicken and pineapple!

3. Don't tell your kids this is "healthy" pizza. Have them help you put the toppings on and I guarantee they will eat it!

Be sure to ask me if you have any questions!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Soaked Dough Recipe

For a long time I have been making homemade whole wheat bread for my family. I thought that was the most nutritious choice UNTIL I learned about the benefits of soaking my grains. I had no idea how to make bread out of soaked grains! That is when the Good Lord sent me Caralee. She and her family moved into our neighborhood, and after only a few hours of knowing her it was clear she was a kindred spirit! She taught me how to make this soaked dough and I LOVE IT!

Caralee's Dough
4 cups buttermilk
1 cube butter, melted (on the stove top!)
6 cups whole wheat, ground (about 9 c. ground flour)
1 TBLS baking soda
1 TBLS real salt

Put the melted butter and buttermilk in a large bowl. (I use a glass bowl.) Add about 8 cups of the flour and mix well. Add more flour as needed to make a stiff dough. Cover the bowl tightly w/ plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for
12 - 24 hours. When you are ready to use it add the baking soda and salt, knead well.

~ I use buttermilk that I have cultured myself. To start it I bought some buttermilk from the healthfood store. I put 1/4 cup buttermilk in a glass quart jar, filled it the rest of the way up with RAW MILK, put a lid on it and set it on the counter for 12 hours. TA DA! Buttermilk. (You MUST use raw milk. Processed milk will just spoil in the jar. If you don't have access to raw milk you can just use the buttermilk from the healthfood store. It's not very expensive.) When you use the buttermilk just leave about a 1/4 cup in the bottom of the jar and fill it up with raw milk and start the process over. I culture mine in a 1/2 gallon jar now because we use so much of it!

~ You can make your buttermilk stretch by using 2 cups buttermilk and 2 cups water in this recipe. Right now I use 3 cups buttermilk and 1 cup water.

~ You can also use a good quality yogurt if you have no buttermilk. That's what I used when I first started making Caralee's Dough. I used 2 cups Dannon All Natural plain yogurt and 2 cups water. Just be sure the yogurt is not low fat.

~ Sometimes the outer layer of the dough takes on a grey appearance after it has soaked. THIS IS NORMAL! When you knead in the soda and salt it will almost disappear.

~ I make a batch of dough every night. I try to do it while I'm making dinner. Then I can make lots of fresh, soaked bread items the next day.

What I make with soaked dough:
The options of what you can do with Caralee's Dough are many! Here are my favorite.

1. FLAT BREAD - Use a walnut sized clump of dough and roll it out thin. Cook it for a few minutes on each side in a little butter. Even easier if you have a tortilla press! You can wrap up lots of different things in it! My favorite is to top the flat bread with black beans, brown rice, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. I melt this under the broiler in my toaster oven. YUM!!

2. BISCUITS - I use half the dough and I add 1 TBLS of sucanat when I am kneading in the soda and salt. I roll out the dough and cut it into biscuit shapes with a round cookie cutter or a drinking glass. I place the biscuits on my rectangular baking stone and cook them for about 20 -25 minutes on 350. We like them with butter and honey.

3. MUFFINS - I use half the dough and add the salt and soda. I also add 3 eggs, 1 tspn pure vanilla, and 1/2 cup sucanat. For Apple muffins I add 1 peeled and grated apple, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 -2 tspn cinnamon and a dash of allspice or nutmeg. I mix this all together - this takes a few minutes, be patient! I put the mix in buttered muffin tins - it would be better in stone muffin pans - and cook for about 25 minutes. For banana muffins I add (after the soda, salt, eggs, vanilla and sucanat) 3 mashed bananas and 1 tspn cinnamon. You really could make them any flavor you want!

4. CINNAMON BREAD STICKS - I use half the dough and roll it out on my round or rectangular baking stone. (I sprinkle a little arrowroot powder on the stone so the dough won't stick.) I melt 3 TBLS of butter and 4 TBLS honey in a small pan. Add 1 tspn cinnamon. Spread the melted mix over the dough. Bake at 350 for about 20 -25 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minute and then use a pizza cutter to cut it into sticks.

There are lots of other things to do with Caralee's Dough! I will post more soon. Please ask me if you have any questions. Caralee said she would also be glad to help. Let me know if you want her contact info.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Raw Milk Smoothies

Raw Milk Smoothies

We have these all the time! Smoothies and muffins for breakfast. Smoothies and tuna melts for lunch or dinner. Smoothies for dessert! Kids feel like they are getting a treat, you know they are getting healthy, REAL food!

Start with:

3 frozen bananas
1 TBLS raw honey
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups raw milk

Blend well in your blender.

If you like banana smoothies stop here and enjoy! Or try these variations.

Add to your blended mixture:

4-5 frozen strawberries


2 TBLS cocoa powder and 1/4 cup natural peanut butter

You can also buy organic coconut milk and add 1/2 a can of it to your fruit smoothies. The possibilities are endless!

Why I Changed My Mind About Cheese and Milk

When I went almost vegan 7 years ago I was convinced that all animal products were bad for our bodies. I cut out all animal products from my cooking and thought that our low-fat diet was the way to go. Not too long after that I read a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS. He told the story of his quest to find out why his American patients had such rampant tooth decay and other health issues. He decided to travel around to little isolated towns and villages throughout the world. Places where the "modern" Western diet hadn't been eaten. The book documents his findings with written words and pictures of people in these isolated places. What he found was that people who ate their native, traditional diet had strong bones, no tooth decay, no tooth crowding, no diseases, etc. The diets they followed differed a little from town to town, but they all basically ate what they grew from the ground and the animals they raised. They all ate animal fat, grain, veggies and fruit in their season and most of them ate dairy products.

What really caught my attention was that NOT ONE of these healthy populations ate a vegetarian diet. There was something in the animal products that contributed to the great health of these people. Dr. Price called it Activator X. I decided then to add eggs and a little cheese into our diet, and even some skim milk. We had maybe one serving of dairy a day. We still kept to a very low-fat diet. I mostly used olive oil and vegetable shortening when I cooked. I rarely used butter. I kept a few sticks of it in the fridge for buttering toast or putting on popcorn. My theory was that milk was meant for turning a 100 pound calf into a 500 pound cow as quickly as possible. It was not meant for humans. We are the only mammal that drinks the milk of another mammal.

As my food education progressed I learned about the terrible conditions cows and chickens were raised in. I felt even more sure that meat,milk, and eggs should play a very small role in our diet. Not to mention all the saturated fat these things contained! EW!

My food education took a huge detour when I really started to read and study Dr. Price's ideas and the books written by Sally Fallon. (She, by the way, is the president of the Weston A. Price foundation. They have a great website, check it out! I'll put the link at the bottom of this post.) The idea that people have been living healthy lives eating traditional foods for thousands of years really made me stop and think. I had to throw out my milk theory because I saw how plain silly it was. If you want to get crazy with that theory you can. We shouldn't eat eggs because they are potentially baby chicks who deserve to live! We shouldn't eat any meat because animals have rights! We shouldn't eat honey because it is stealing from the bees who work so hard to produce it. Do you see what I mean? What about the theory that a loving God created these things to sustain and nourish us? That's the theory I feel best about right now.

I also feel strongly that grains and fruits and veggies should make up the bulk of our diet. In a minute I'll give some sample menu plans I follow. The thing is, we need to be very careful about our FOOD SOURCES! We need to get our food from our own back yards as much as possible and then after that look for ways to get food that has not been doctored up with hormones, chemicals, and antibiotics.

I also feel strongly that a low-fat diet is actually BAD FOR YOU. That is why I am okay with the cheese and butter and milk. We have to get fat in our diets. If you go walk around the grocery store on a Fat Hunt, what will you find? Fat in peanut butter (hydrogenated), fat in cookies (hydrogenated), fat in processed oils, ie. canola, safflower, LIGHT olive oil, (rotten and bleached!) vegetable shortening (hydrogenated) processed milk products (DEAD and full of hormones and chemicals, eggs (from confined chickens fed a corn & grain based diet - not natural to their species), meat (from animals raised in confinement and therefore dosed with hormones and antibiotics, not to mention the poor diet they eat!) SO... where can we get healthy fats?

Here's my list:
Olive Oil - NOT the LIGHT variety - it's processed too.
Raw Milk
Pasture fed meat
Pasture fed chicken eggs
Raw nuts and raw nut spreads
Sour Cream

This is why I'm okay with cheese, butter, and sour cream:
I would not buy my local store's brand of cheese or sour cream. I use Tillamook cheese. It is made from cultured, natural, no hormones added milk. We don't eat tons of it, but I use it almost daily to jazz up what I am making. I look for the best quality butter I can. Butter is a simple fat that is easily digested by our bodies. Butter is real! While I have not been able to find any made from raw milk, butter is a better choice for cooking and flavoring than the hydrogenated shortenings and the newfangled oils that are SO over-processed and just plain bad for you. I'm still trying to learn more about butter. I just can't cook everything in olive oil! I buy Daisy sour cream. The ingredient list is short - Cultured Cream. Sour cream is great made into dip, in soup, on pizza, I LOVE it! Someday I will have a few cows and make my own cheese and butter. In the mean time I'm just trying to get the best I can.

Bottom line:
We need fats in our diet. I'm going to use the fats that are naturally occurring on the earth, that are not processed and that have been valued as a healthy part of diets for thousands of years. I feel good about my choice.

A Few Sample Menus:

B - Soaked oatmeal w/ cream, raisins and apples
L - Pizza: soaked whole-wheat dough, organic pepperoni, tomato sauce, cheese
D - Chili: soaked beans, spices, home-canned tomatoes and soaked dough rolls

B - Scrambled eggs, fruit, and milk
L - Raw milk smoothies and soaked dough apple muffins
D - Soaked dough cheese sandwiches

B - Soaked dough muffins, fruit and milk
L - Soaked rice, zucchini(fried in butter) soaked rolls and carrots
D - Roast beef, veggies and soaked rolls

I try to have chopped veggies or air-popped, buttered popcorn for snacks. I also try to set out lacto-fermented pickled beets or pickles with the meals. Butter and cheese are not a big part of the meals. The raw milk and grains are. I use raw milk to culture buttermilk for the soaked dough, so we get it there too.

This has been a really long post!! Thanks for reading it. This topic has been rolling around in my head and I REALLY needed to get it out! Please ask me questions if there are any I haven't answered.

Here's the link for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ketchup In The Kitchen

SO, I tried my hand at making ketchup last night! First I will tell you that it tastes great and my kids like it! They had it on their scrambled eggs this morning. I have yet to be able to find an affordable brand of store-bought ketchup without high fructose corn syrup in it, so I planted 30 tomato plants in the spring with the goal in mind of making a years supply of ketchup myself.

Here's what I used:

A lot of tomatoes! Probably 20 pounds. Next time I make it I will measure!
2 large organic onions
5 cloves of garlic
1 cup real apple cider vinegar
2 cups sucanat (sweetener)
2-3 tbls salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Here's what we did:
I filled a large pot half way full of hot water and brought it to a boil. Dillon put about 10 tomatoes at a time in the water and scalded them for 30 seconds. He took them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. He filled the bowl with cold water and let them sit for a minute. While he kept scalding the tomatoes I took the cooled ones and cut the core out of the top and sliced each tomato in half. Then I used my thumbs to press out the seeds and mushy stuff in the middle. I gave the tomato a squeeze to get any extra fluid out and then plopped it in my big stainless-steel pot. We worked like that until the pot was about 3/4ths full. I then chopped up the onions and pressed the garlic and put that in the pan. I stirred in the vinegar, sucanat, salt and pepper. I turned the heat under the pot to medium and crossed my fingers. After several hours of simmering I turned off the heat. I then got out the blender and blended about three cups of the soupy stuff at a time. (It's hot! Put a towel over the top in case any bubbles out.) After each batch of it was blended I poured it into a smaller stock pot I have. Once it was all blended and in the other pot I put the pot on a burner at about medium heat. This blended mixture simmered for another hour or so. You want to cook the tomatoes down until you get the consistency of ketchup. While it simmered I got 6 quart jars and lids ready. I took the pot off the heat and used a funnel to fill each jar. I put lids and rings on each one and then used my steamer to process 5 of them for 30 minutes. (You can use a water-bath to process them if that's what you have.) I stuck the other jar in the fridge to use right away.

The most important things I learned from this endeavor are:
1. Use Roma tomatoes if you can. They have less seeds.
2. Wear rubber gloves. Tomatoes are hard on your skin.
3. Start the whole process in the morning. I started at 4 in the afternoon and it took a long time!
4. You don't have to follow my recipe. Put what sounds good in it to you!

The final word on making ketchup it that it takes a long time, but is worth the effort! I am excited to make another batch soon!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Burnt Cake And A Messy Kitchen

Saturday was my son's eighth birthday. I wanted the day to be fabulous and the food amazing and REAL. Friday I got out the healthy cookbook and looked at the cake recipes. I called my son in and asked him which cake he would like to have. He picked the flour less chocolate cake. We decided to frost it with whipped cream and drizzle mashed strawberries over it. We planned to make ice cream too! I checked to make sure we had all the ingredients we needed and was very excited to have all our family over to be wowed by the tasty, healthy treats.

Saturday dawned with clouds and rain in the sky. Our plans to picnic at the local reservoir had to be altered. I made a yummy breakfast of hash browns, biscuits and gravy. My son opened his gifts and then wet out to play. I turned my attention to the boxes and bags of produce on my counter that needed to be taken care of before I made the cake. There were beets to pickle, tomatoes waiting to be made into ketchup, carrots to trim and put away, and apricots in serious need of being washed and either eaten or dried. I also had to make a trip to the dairy to buy cream for the ice cream and the whipped cream. I still needed to fix lunch and dinner too! Can you sense a disaster about to happen?

I jumped in and started working! First there was ice cream to be made. It turned out just fine. Luckily my wonderful mother showed up about this time to help me. She started on the pile of dishes while I went to work on the produce. Eventually it was time to make the cake. This wasn't going to be just any cake. The directions were complicated, but the vision I had in my head of this fabulous, two layer, whipped cream and berry topped cake made me so excited! I followed the directions carefully. From what I could tell it would be like a chocolate angel-food cake. There were several steps in the process. At one point I tasted the batter and it was NOT sweet enough. I melted a little honey and added it to the mixture. It tasted great! I put the batter in two buttered, round pans, placed them in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. I did just what the book said, except for the little bit of honey.

25 minutes later the timer rang. With great anticipation I went to open the oven. I was expecting to see two fluffy layers cooked to perfection. I opened the door and my nose was greeted with a funny burnt smell! I removed the pans and, to my great horror, saw two flat-looking things! Where was the fluff? I stood over those two things and got madder and madder! I finally put them in the pantry to cool so I wouldn't have to look at them. I consoled myself by saying that I would just frost them really thickly and they would be okay.

My mom, my daughter and I started getting dinner ready. There was still lots of veggies on the counter and a few dishes. The kitchen was naturally a bit of a mess after all we had been working on, but I wasn't too worried about it. As far as I knew only a few people were coming for the party and they wouldn't mind. I kept putting thoughts of the cake out of my mind.

Dinner turned out nicely. Potato wedges, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes and watermelon. Just as we finished eating family started coming over. Thankfully they went out back to play. That's when I found out that that my aunt was coming! I had invited her and my paternal grandparents to come, but I hadn't heard back from them so I thought they weren't coming. Now, I LOVE having my family over. I really enjoy hosting a crowd of people and serving good food. I usually try to tidy up the house before people come, but the busy day had made that a little impossible. Things weren't too bad, but the kitchen was still pretty messy. I normally wouldn't worry - we're raising up a houseful of kids and trying to preserve a garden full of food! But when I found out my aunt was coming I panicked! She is one of those amazing ladies who can be a mother, work a business, sew costumes for her kids plays and keep a perfectly clean and organized home. I mean perfectly. You could eat off the floors in her bathroom! I couldn't help but be a little self conscious!

My aunt and grandparents arrived and graciously ignored the mess. I ushered them into the back yard and decided I had better tackle the cake. I began to whip the cream. I don't know what I did wrong, but the cream pretty much turned to butter!
In frustration I stopped whipping the cream and tried to take the cakes out of the pans. It was awful!! They were BURNT, FLAT, and HOPELESS. I stood there and just cried and cried! I wanted everything to be perfect! My mom offered suggestions on how we could make the cake presentable, but I knew that no matter what I did to it there was no way I could serve that cake to my son! I tried to hide my tears as I stuck my head out the door and called to my husband. He came in and I tearfully told him of what had happened. I asked him to hurry up and run up to Walmart and buy a chocolate cake. He was wonderful and ran out to save the day!

Twenty minutes later we were all sitting around the table singing "Happy Birthday!" to my son. The cake looked great and, even though I knew it was made of garbage, I have never been so thankful for white flour and sugar in my whole life! The party was fun, the food was good and I was EXHAUSTED!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Questions About Making Oatmeal

My amazing sister-in-law asked me two really important questions about making oatmeal the way I do. #1 was why use full-fat yogurt and #2 was why take the time to soak and cook the oats when you can microwave them in a few minutes?

Before we answer the first question we have to toss out the notion that a low-fat diet is a healthy diet. In this day and age low-fat foods are all around us and we are bombarded daily with the message that low-fat is the way to go. This is simply not true. Our ancestors valued fats for their nourishing properties. Most of these fats were saturated fats. Saturated fats come to us naturally without having to be processed. I highly recommend reading Sally Fallon's books, Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Loose Fat for a detailed lesson on the truth about fats.

Getting back to the yogurt question, look at the ingredients on the back of a low-fat carton of yogurt. You will find high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, and a few things you can't pronounce very well. If you look at the ingredients on a carton of plain, full-fat yogurt you find one thing - cultured milk. It's not hard to pick which one is REAL FOOD.

To answer the question about preparing oats we really need to address two things - the benefits of soaking grains and the idea of tossing out your microwave. First, in the bran of grains there is something called phytic acid. Our bodies have a hard time breaking down this acid making it hard for our bodies to digest and use all the nutrients in grains. Soaking your oats and other grains in a cultured product like buttermilk, yogurt and also whey for 12 - 24 hours breaks down the phytic acid. It also makes the nutrients in the grains easy for your body to use as well as breaking down starches and upping the vitamin content. Wow!

Second, everyone should stop using their microwave ASAP! We gave ours up for good in March of this year. I got a toaster-oven for my birthday and between that and the good old fashioned stove-top I have found I don't miss my microwave at all. Now it takes me 3 minutes to melt my butter for popcorn instead of 30 seconds. I can wait an extra 2.5 minutes to ensure that I'm not dumping chemically altered butter on the food I'm about to serve to my kids. I know, I know, add this to the list of things that make Tara a nut! Google "microwave oven safety" and read the articles that come up with an open mind. What it comes down to is that microwaves alter the protein molecules of the food we cook. I don't really want any altered proteins in me. I've got enough to worry about as is is!

All of this really comes down to preparing foods in ways that our bodies can best use the good stuff in them. Soaking grains ensures that you will get the most nourishment out of them. NOT microwaving foods ensures that your food stays in its proper form.

p.s. I can just see some of you rolling your eyes and saying cooking like this takes too much time and aforethought. It kinda does. I guess it all depends on your attitude. I must confess that for many years I was a cold cereal addict. I could eat Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A huge chunk of my grocery money when to cold cereal each month. (Me, my hubby, and 6 kids chowing down every morning! Can you imagine?) I got heavy into couponing for a while and I had about 50 boxes of cold cereal in my basement! When the number of cereal boxes dipped below 20 I started to panic! What will we eat for breakfast!? Mornings with 6 homeschooling children need to get started quickly and easily. Nothing is easier than opening a box of Shredded Wheat! When I really got serious about no processed food and stopped buying cold cereal I had a major mental shift. I started planning my meals out ahead of time and preparing the night before. It was like a whole new world opened up before me. THERE WERE OTHER THINGS TO EAT FOR BREAKFAST BESIDES COLD CEREAL! Now our breakfasts are nourishing and made of REAL FOODS. Yes it does take a little extra time, but it is SO WORTH IT!

Dairy and Fat

Now that I have convinced you all to switch to raw milk (tee hee!) let's talk for a minute about other dairy products. Butter and cheese are on the top of my list and I am going to focus on them today. For many years butter and cheese were used VERY sparingly in our house. A little butter on toast or popcorn and a little cheese sprinkled on soups or maybe a little in a sandwich. After all, butter and cheese are full of saturated fat and everyone knows saturated fat is bad for you, right?

Let's look back in time several hundred years. How did our ancestors get fat in their diets? Families lived on farms and worked the land. They kept chickens, pigs, and cows for meat, eggs, milk, cheese and butter. They grew acres of wheat and oats, and gardens for produce to supplement their diets. Pretty much all the fat they ate came from animal products in the form of saturated fat. They never used any kind of oil in cooking. Mothers saved bacon grease and used animal fats in cooking.

The saturated fats they used stayed stable/solid at room temperature. They were not processed at high temperatures or changed in any way. They milked the cow, made the butter and ate it. The so called healthy oils, like corn oil, we are told to replace butter with today are processed at extremely high temperatures. They are rancid (rotten) at that point and so the manufacturer bleaches the oil. What sounds more appealing, rotten, bleached corn oil or fresh, REAL butter?

Saturated fat is actually a blessing! Are you a little shocked by that? I know! It took me a long time to accept that as truth. But it makes so much sense to me now. Our ancestors ate saturated fats and heart disease and cancer were rare. When we were told to go "low fat" and avoid all saturated fats heart disease and cancer rates went through the roof.

SO! Put butter and cheese back on the menu. Just be sure that you get good quality products. I use Tillamook cheese. It's the best quality cheese I have found. Right now I buy butter, and the cheese, from Costco. The price is excellent. I use butter in my bread, on rolls and muffins, on popcorn, saute veggies in it, etc. I like to also use olive oil for a few things, but mostly I cook with butter. Kids will eat their veggies gladly when you add a plop of butter and Real Salt to them. Cookies and other treats just taste better with butter!

p.s. I do think there is such a thing as too much butter and cheese. Just use good judgement!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pickles From My Garden!

I just spent the last little while making 3 quarts of lacto-fermented pickles with my three year old. I love the way these turn out! Here's what I used for 1 quart:

4-5 cucumbers from my garden
2 dill clippings from my garden
1 TBLS mustard seeds
1 TBLS Real Salt
4-5 TBLS whey
1-2 cups water
2-3 bulbs of garlic, optional

How To:
I got out a clean, glass Mason jar. I peeled my garlic and sliced each bulb in half. I put those at the bottom of the jar. I rinsed 1 of the dill clippings and put that in next. Then I washed the cucumbers and sliced them about 1/4 inch thick. (Do not peel them.) I filled the jar half full of the slices and then added another dill clipping, and then filled the jar the rest of the way with slices. I then added the mustard seed. In a little measuring cup I mixed 1 cup of water with the whey and salt. I poured this over the sliced cucumbers. (If that doesn't fill the jar to almost the top I add more water.) Twist a lid firmly on the jar and it's done! With a Sharpie I labeled the jar, "Garlic." I also wrote the time of day and then, "2 days." I stuck the jar in the pantry and in two days we'll open the jar and enjoy the pickles!

A note on lacto-fermentation:
This is how our ancestors made pickles! They didn't use vinegar or cook them. The whey is the magic ingredient. It is a dairy product that you can make at home from yogurt. Sitting for two days cures the pickles. After two days you put them in the refridgerator. They last for months! Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions, is FULL of great lacto-fermented recipes. If you want details on how to obtain whey let me know!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Real Milk?

Let's talk about raw milk. The idea that milk is actually good for you was the hardest thing for me to accept. Living in the Land of Vegetarianism for so long had me convinced that milk was evil and the root of many health problems. I was partially right. The milk you buy at your local grocery store IS a major source of health problems. It is DEAD! Fresh milk from a local dairy, where the cows are pasture fed and well cared for, is ALIVE and the health benefits you can obtain from it are many. I could write pages and pages about WHY raw milk is best! I'll sum it all up in a few sentences and strongly encourage you to do your own research to understand it further.

Here's the deal - the milk you buy at the grocery store shouldn't really even be called milk. The cow that milk came from was raised in confinement and fed food that is in no way natural to the species. She is injected with growth hormones and antibiotics and forced to produce way more milk than is good for her. The milk she gives is tainted with those hormones. The milk is then processed in ways that kill the good stuff - the enzymes. The enzymes in raw milk actually help you digest the milk. When the enzymes are dead you have trouble digesting and TA DA!, health problems!

How to get it:
Finding raw milk can be a challenge. It's not impossible though. I would recommend going to http://www.realmilk.com/. They have lots of good suggestions. You can also look in your yellow pages under "dairy" and start calling around. If there is a dairy close to you, or even not so close, go visit them and see if they have any. Even better, try to find a neighbor with a few cows.

How I use raw milk:
1. Drink it!
2. Make cultured products from it like buttermilk (used to soak grains), and yogurt.
3. Make smoothies. So good with frozen bananas and strawberries!

Milk was valued by our ancestors as an essential part of their diet. When the cows are well taken care of the milk they produce is fresh and healthy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Is REAL Food?

This is a very interesting question! The best answers to this question I have found come from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I read her book about 7 years ago, but wasn't quite ready to accept the principles she laid out. I spent the next 7 years cooking lots of healthy vegetarian meals for my family and felt like all was well. Last March I picked the book up again and felt like my eyes were opened to a whole new world! Throughout the book Ms. Fallon presents evidence that true health comes from eating REAL foods. Let's take a quick look at a list of real foods:

1. Raw milk and milk products

2. Fruits and vegetables - fermented, cooked and raw

3. Whole grains - soaked or sprouted

4. Meat - pasture fed

5. Eggs - from pasture fed hens

6. Raw nuts

7. Honey, sucanat, or other unrefined sweeteners

Pretty short list, right? Feeling like I'm a little crazy? Maybe I am, but stay with me for a minute. While this list is very short, the possibilities of what you can do with these items is ENDLESS! Let's do a few comparisons to help me make my point. Go grab a box of cereal. Read the ingredients. Pretty long list? Where was sugar listed? Number two ingredient? Now grab your canister of oatmeal. I know you have one in the back of your pantry! Not instant oats, real oats! Look at the ingredients. OATS!! Real food. Grab your box of fish crackers. Read the ingredients. How many ingredients? Can you pronounce the names of all the ingredients? Now grab an apple and a handful of raw almonds. Two ingredients. Real food. I'm sure you get my point.

Real health, real happiness comes from feeding ourselves and our families real food. Over the next few weeks I will go into detail on my list of real foods. I'll talk about how to prepare them, where to find them, and WHY we should eat them. I would love to hear your feedback! Please comment on any questions you have that you would like to see answered in upcoming posts. In the meantime, go through your cupboards and pantry and read the labels on your food. Toss out that stuff you know is garbage! You can do it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"My Time Is My Own"

I think the hardest part of being a mom is coping with the HUGE amount of time it takes to do everything "momish." Taking care of a family, no matter how large, is hard and requires a lot of work! It is so easy to start to resent all of the things you have to do. As that resentment builds a mom often finds herself resenting the people she is caring for. Have you ever found yourself saying (yelling), "Why am I the only one who notices that this trash needs to go out?" Do you feel like you never have enough time to do the things YOU want to do? I know I have felt this way at several points in my life.

A turning point in my attitude came after I pondered the advice of a wonderful mentor. She explained to me that my time is not my own. My time is really God's time! I needed to give up my frustrations that I don't have time to do all the things I want, and learn to embrace my opportunity to bless my family now with my acts of service. She encouraged me to read a great book, The Screwtape Letters. The story is told in the form of letters from Screwtape, one of the Devil's top demons, to his nephew who is trying to tempt a human on earth. A passage in the book really helped me refocus. Screwtape counsels his nephew to "...zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts the day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours...man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift."

So, "my time" is God's time. Right now the best way I can use this time is to take the best care of my family that I can. If that means I'm in the kitchen a good chunk of the day it's okay! I can be happy in the kitchen knowing that I am using my gift of time to make sure that my kids grow healthy and strong and that my hubby is satisfied too. This is the first step to being happy in the kitchen! Embrace the time spent preparing nourishing foods! The benefits - a healthy family, fewer doctor bills, time spent working with your kids, etc. - are SO worth it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let's Get Started!

Every mom, no matter how busy, wants to feed her family healthy meals! I think a huge portion of a mom's stress comes from wondering, "What should I make for dinner?" Not to mention lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc. We all intend on feeding our family delicious meals, prepared with love. Then life happens and we find ourselves fixing mac-n-cheese far too often.

The purpose of this blog is to help moms find happiness in the kitchen! That happy feeling comes in three areas: 1. Happiness knowing we are feeding our families REAL, NOURISHING foods. 2. Happiness that comes from having a plan each day for what we will eat. A plan equals no stress! 3. Happiness knowing we have used our grocery money wisely. No more wasted dollars because at 5 o'clock we still don't know what to fix so we order out.

Check in with me daily for tips and ideas in these three areas! I will save you time, money and stress! Here you will also find book recommendations, garden ideas, food storage plans, snack ideas and more! Let's get started!