Monday, November 30, 2009
So...new post time.
I used to be so very good at planning out my menu every week. At one time I even got motivated enough to plan it out two weeks ahead of time. Here lately, though, meal plans have been made around 3pm every day. Since we now eat in a way that requires some preparation, that makes for some pretty hectic evenings!
I'm proud to announce that I have my meal plan made for the week! I know you're all dying to know what we'll be eating this week, so here it is:
homemade granola cereal and milk
pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins
oats with maple syrup and milk (two mornings)
grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit
cheese quesadillas and fruit
Beef stir fry with rice, pineapple
Fettucine Alfredo with Broccoli and Chicken, spinach salad
Seasoned Rice and Beef, green beans, boiled carrots
Laura's Probeans, spinach salad
Grilled steak, corn, sweet potatoes
Monterey Chicken with Potatoes, guacamole and chips
Beef and Potato casserole, peas, boiled carrots
It is such a relief to already have this planned out. My day goes so much smoother with a little pre-planning. I know I have everything on hand to make these meals. I already have the necessary meats thawing in the fridge for use later this week. Yay for organization!
And I promise that it won't be another week before I post again. I already know that I'm going to do a post on decorating birthday cakes with natural food colorings. I have the pictures and everything ready to go. So, I promise in the next couple days I'll have that one put up here.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I used a pumpkin that my mother-in-law (Hi Colette!) purchased for me at a pumpkin farm when she came to visit in October. The owner of the farm assured us that this was a great pumpkin to use for making pumpkin pie..sorry, I don't know the exact variety.
I cut the pumpkin into chunks. Sarah helped me scoop out seeds and stringy stuff. She helped out so much that I had to wash her shirt afterwards..orange pumpkin was everywhere. Then I put it into a 350 degree oven for about an hour. This is what it looked like after baking.
Then I scraped out all the flesh.
I placed the chunks into my blender and processed it until smooth. This is all the puree I ended up with from the entire pumpkin.
And then we had pumpkin muffins for breakfast this morning. The homemade pumpkin puree must've turned out ok since Sam ate about five of the muffins!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This family owns an 180 acre farm in the Pacific Northwest. They raise most of their own food and live a homesteader lifestyle. I really enjoy seeing the beautiful pictures that are posted. I hope you enjoy the blog as well!
Monday, November 16, 2009
I'm so excited that my knees are literally shaking!! We are going to own 30 acres with a stocked fish pond, two springs, an orchard, a garden, a root cellar, a chicken coop, a workshop, and a woodstove...a real, functioning homestead!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We just purchased some great grass-fed beef and the processor threw in the tallow for free. For those that don't know, tallow is the beef version of lard from a pig. It's a natural fat that is commonly used in frying or even in soap-making.
All the explanations that I could find online spoke about first having to take the time to chop up the fat into small pieces. Fortunately, when we received ours from the processor, it was already ground up like you see ground beef in the grocery store. So I breezed on through to the next step. I used two methods to render my tallow. I put two large pots on the stovetop and one large pot in the oven.
For the stovetop method, I placed a significant amount of tallow in the pot, set it on the stovetop on very low heat and walked away. I did occasionally stir the bottom to make sure nothing was sticking, but that's pretty much it. After about two hours, the fat was melted and crumbly meat/fat was floating on top.
For the oven method, I lowered my oven rack to one of the lowest settings and preheated the oven to 250 degrees. Then I placed a significant amount of tallow in a large pot, set it in the oven, and walked away. I did occasionally stir the bottom of this pot as well. After about 1-1/2 hours, this pot was finished.
Then I found some extra glass jars that I had around, placed a metal strainer on top to catch the crumbly meat/fat, and poured the rendered tallow through the strainer. I set the meat/fat aside because I'm going to try feeding it to a stray cat that comes to visit us every once in a while. I thought that our cat friend would really enjoy that treat. Anyhow, this is what I ended up with.
When it was time for bed, I placed the lids on the jars and continued to let them sit on the counter overnight. This is what they looked like this morning.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here are some of the food blogs I follow. The writers are at the conference and posting about the activities this weekend.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The property we're interested in is perfect for homesteading. It has an established orchard with apple, peach, pear, cherry, walnut, pecan, and hazelnut trees. It also has blueberries and blackberries on the property. There's a garden with an asparagus patch, a stocked fish pond, chicken coop, and two springs. There's enough wooded property to hunt deer and turkey and enough pasture to contain cattle and goats one of these days. Plus, the home is nice too. Of course, there are things I'd like to do to it to make it my own, but those can come later as the budget allows. Here's a picture of the home.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
There's so much good information there.
Recently, I became very convicted about improving the quality of the food that my family consumes. In our household, I take care of all the food purchasing, meal planning, and preparation of our foods. So, my family's poor eating habits could not be blamed on anyone else but me. I will admit that Shawn was not exactly enthusiastic about removing "badness" and including more "goodness" in our diet. However, he is open-minded enough to know that this is good for us, so he agreed to make changes as well. Our compromise was that we would eat healthy meals together as a family, but Shawn could keep some of his favorite processed foods set aside. So, he has definitely improved his eating habits, but he's still eating more processed foods than the kids and myself.
I do think it's important to note that my opinions on this are somewhat biased because I am a firm believer that eating well causes you to feel better both physically and emotionally. I am totally convinced of this. I believe that the neurological effects of food and food additives are often overlooked. Shawn, however, was a skeptic at first, so I think his opinion is a bit more neutral. With Shawn being a bit skeptical about this change, I was pleased to hear him comment about how two recent meals caused him to feel bad.
Several Sundays ago the kids and I went to visit my parents. Shawn stayed home to work, so he was on his own for supper. He decided to fix a box of Hamburger Helper that was purchased a while back. He had the Cheesy Hashbrown Hamburger Helper, which is his absolute favorite. He likes this type sooooo much that we actually ordered boxes of it online and had it delivered to our house when local stores stopped carrying it. I'm not kidding when I say that it's his favorite! Well, when the kids and I arrived home, Shawn was just finishing up his supper. Later that evening he commented that it just didn't taste as good as he remembered. He said, with a confused look on his face, "It sort of tasted like...plastic."
The other instance occurred earlier this week. Shawn came home from work with a headache. Several hours later he went to teach his night class, came home, and still had the headache. He plopped down on the couch and complained that his head still hurt. I asked him if he had drank enough water that day. He replied that he had and he really thought that his head was hurting from the junk (that's actually the term he used..junk) he'd eaten at work for lunch.
The only way to really understand how your body responds to processed foods and chemicals is to allow your body to be without them for a decent period of time. Then, when you do eat something processed, the difference between it and fresh food will be so obvious to you. The "fake-ness" of the food will be so apparent. The residual effects on both your mood and energy level will be obvious. After ridding yourself of smelly chemicals, a walk down the laundry aisle at a grocery store will be suffocating. So, while it may be easier to go through life accustomed to blue dye in marshmallows and chemicals fragrances in your fabric softener, it is not better for you or your family.
There are still a lot of improvements that my family needs to make for our health, but I feel that we are headed in the right direction. It's necessary for me to take baby steps or else I get overwhelmed. I hope that, after reading the above link, you will also be convinced to take a baby step that will improve your family's health.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
So far today, I have a pot of chicken broth simmering on the stove and smelling very yummy. I also have a load of towels in the dryer. We're all fed and dressed.
Since I need to play catch-up from yesterday, my to-do list is rather lengthy..
Plan weekly menu
Fold and put away towels
Sweep and mop floors
Library with kids
Walgreens/Kroger/Dollar General/drop off recycling
Organize coupons after kids are put to bed tonight
Since I have so much to do, I guess I ought to get off here and start getting things done! I'll leave you with my recipe for homemade chicken broth:
carcass from one roasted chicken (bones, skin, everything)
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
1-2 onions, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. vinegar
Take your roasted chicken carcass and, using a meat cleaver, chop up some of the bones. This will make your broth more nutritious by accessing the good marrow inside the bones. Dump the chopped up carcass in a large stock pot. Wash carrots, chop and dump in the pot. It is not necessary to peel the carrots, but you can if you prefer. Wash celery, chop and dump in the pot, leaves and all. Quarter onion and dump in the pot, skin and all. (The addition of the skin will give your broth a pretty golden color.) Add salt and pepper. (I used my new Celtic Sea Salt!) Then add 1 T. vinegar. This helps in drawing the nutrients from the bones of the chicken. Add enough water to cover all contents of stock pot. Place on stove and bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 24 hours. Yes, you read that right, 24 hours! About 10 minutes before broth is finished simmering, add a palm-full of parsley. I use fresh parsley from my kitchen windowsill, but if you're using dried, just add to taste. Strain into a large bowl and set in refrigerator until fat congeals at top. Skim off fat and package broth for storage in freezer. You now have yummy, nutritious broth that doesn't include MSG or any other badness!
Ok, now to tackle that to-do list...
Monday, November 2, 2009
Yesterday's lesson at church was about how being different than everyone else is not a bad thing. We are called to not love the world or the things in the world, so not quite fitting in with the rest of the world is good. I'm thankful that Vernon chose to preach on this topic because it was something that I really needed to hear.
I'm so thankful for the new goodies I received this weekend. My first purchase of unrefined coconut oil, some cod liver oil, a natural deodorant crystal, and some essential oils for homemade cleaning mixtures. I'm excited to learn about using these products instead of those I was used to using before.
I have so much to do today...First of all, I need to write out my to-do list for the week and make out our menu-plan for the week. Then I also need to wash all our sheets, go through Sunday's papers and clip out coupons, make homemade chicken broth , study the Kroger and Walgreens sales for the week, and homeschool the kids today. Sometime this week I'd like to look up how to process sunflower seeds so I can use the few that we harvested from our garden this year. I meant to do that last week, but never got around to it. We also need to clean up the deck and yard sometime this week so we can add the leaves to our compost pile. If I get to work on this, hopefully I can come back on here this evening and update on my progress.
Oh, and I'm really looking forward to possibly having friends over this evening for a last minute get-together. One of my friends is getting really close to having her baby, so hopefully we can all visit with one another before her life gets really busy.
Now I'm smiling as I listen to Sam sit in the living room singing, "Pretty little surry with the fringe on the top..." from the musical "Oklahoma!". Sarah's trying to tell him that if he puts together the train tracks then momma will be so happy. Having children that are only 20 months apart is very hard, but also very, very rewarding. They play so well together.
I hope everyone (including myself!) has an enjoyable, productive Monday!