Tuesday, June 11, 2019

It's all about the Food!

Recently, I popped over to a blog I enjoy but hadn't heard from in a while.
I left a quick message hoping all was well and wishing her a fine day.
She responded via email and her words were almost heartbreaking.
She had scaled down and felt it might not be very interesting, but what was really pressing
 on her mind was the criminal dealings of doctors and Big Pharma.
I would like to avoid political discussion here on the blog (please and thank you) 
as it seems folks can't discuss it without deep emotional involvement.
I believe it was Mother Theresa who said she wouldn't participate in an anti-war rally, 
but if they held a pro-peace rally, she might attend. 
I guess that's what I try to do (all this time you were wondering, I know:-)

Hubby and I both work full time.
I would call our income average, though it's actually less than the national median
it is above poverty level.
I tell you those things so you know we aren't "special."
We are both away from home a lot and are not rolling in riches.
What we've done is quit taking mainstream as the correct path.
We walk our own path which just happens to look a whole lot like 
how things were done for generations - that is up until about 40-50 years ago.

What we do:
We eat at home, at the dinner table, together.  
It's just hubby and I now, but when the kids were home, it was the same. 
If we want breakfast, we fix it.
We pack our lunch which is usually left-overs from the previous night's dinner.
Then dinner which is made to have enough left over for the following day's lunch.
Just what do we eat?
Well, that depends.  A few years ago, we had lots of peas so we had peas with many of our meals.
I actually kinda got tired of them.  
But then last year, we didn't get any peas.  So this past winter has been pea poor,
 and we have only had them sparingly.
We buy a grass-fed beef each fall which is our main source of meet.
When we talk to the butcher, we ask for the soup bones, oxtail, and heart.
We usually get the liver too, but have tried it sooo many ways and just can't seem to make ourselves like it no matter how we try so end up giving it away.
It's so good for us, we know.
We do hunt but aren't generally very successful.
This past year was an exception, and we did well.
That just saves us elsewhere.
When we do get something, we get any bit of meat we can from the critter.
Then we make broth from the bones.
We aren't about to take a life and waste half of it.
With bear, we also render the fat that makes the best lard on earth!
When something is in season, we eat it and preserve enough
 to hopefully carry us through to the next harvest.
So what's on the grocery list?
Milk, eggs, butter, cheese and misc. fresh veggies.
Oh, and coffee, mustn't forget coffee :-)
I generally place a bulk order for olives and some spices through Azure Standard.
I use quite a few herbs in cooking.
This does two things.  It gets us more greens and it makes food delicious.

What we don't eat:
Grains, sugars, and chemicals.
Not never, but in general.
Based on our research, the food pyramid is up-side=down.
Humans can live on animal fat alone.  
I'm right there with ya, doesn't sound very tasty and is opposite of what I was taught in school.
I've really had to work at making myself like "real fats."
The other big thing that has happened in the past 40-50 years is that
chemicals have inundated the food system.
The FDA approves them based on skewed statistics and/or labeling.
8 of the 11 food colorants are toxic and/or carcinogens.
That's just the colorants, not to mention the preservatives, fortifiers, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents, 
and the list goes on and on.
 Along with these chemicals has come an onslaught of health issues
 from neurological (Alzheimer's, dementia, ADHD, autism, etc.) 
to issues associated with obesity (diabetes, heart congestion/failure, cancer, etc.)
None of these appeal to us.
The typical argument is  "I can't afford to buy meat."
There are three things about this statement that don't jive with me.
1) Where and how do you buy it?  Individually wrapped by your local supermarket?
I can't afford that either.  Even if you don't have a large freezer, you can buy a quarter of a beef and save a tremendous amount over grocery store prices.
2) If you quit buying grains, sugars, and processed foods, you'll have lots of extra money - not to mention, you will feel full and more satisfied longer so won't eat as much.
3) Consider your medical expenses.  If you are healthy (or become healthy) how much would you save on medical expenses?
The other argument is that people have been eating grain for thousands of years.
My response to that is ~ it's not the same grain.
Modern wheat is poison, addictive poison at that.
There are other grains as well, but wheat is by far the most common.
I don't wish the farmers any ill will.  I know several, nice folks.
I just wish they would grow in a way that is healthier and more sustainable.
We are still human and prone to the temptations of certain foods.
A piece of fruit usually satisfies the craving, but every so often, we "cheat."
We say "cheat" only because we don't really know another word for it.
We have eaten a low-carb diet for about 6-7??? years now.
In that 7ish years, we have had 1 "cold" each.
(Mine was my own doing:-/)
Hubby has severe reactions in his joints if he eats wheat.
We went on a quick trip a couple weeks ago and stopped in for a cup of coffee.
There was a sign that said "local non-sprayed wheat" near some artisan breads.
He said he wanted to try some so we bought a loaf.
I can't imagine the look I gave him.
He usually runs and hides from wheat knowing how it hurts him.
So, that evening he had a slice of bread with his supper.
Next day~ no reaction so he had a piece of toast with his breakfast.
Over the course of a few days, we made it through the loaf (shared w/ friends.)
That pretty much confirmed what we already strongly suspected.
They spray wheat 10 days prior to harvest
 so the plant will put its dying energy into the seed head increasing the yield.
Wheat is not washed prior to grinding so we are eating that freshly applied chemical.
Since it's labeled as an herbicide, no testing for human consumption is required.
I have contacted the maker of the bread and have arranged to purchase a small amount of the flour.
We won't go wild, grains are still sugars, but hubby is totally looking forward
to having some biscuits and gravy (one of his favorite meals.)

I know I don't have one of those non-abrasive, ever kind writing styles.
I probably come across as a crotchety ol' bitty.
I don't mean to sound unfeeling.
I know food tastes good (and that they add addictive chemicals to it.)
But if I can help even one person or family question their food choice,
I think it's worth it.
That is what I told my blogging friend and encouraged her to continue writing.
We are trained as a society to flow with the stream, no questions asked.
The more real information that is shared, real life stories
(like Mr. LB ate a piece of garlic bread for the first time in 7 yrs.!)
the more people might be willing to ask a question
and make a change in what is acceptable.

There is a film coming out (maybe out by now.)
 Secret Ingredients, a film by Jeffrey Smith and Amy Hart
You can do a search and see the trailer.
It rather moving, especially as it relates to our children.
I've not yet seen it, and have no affiliation with it, but I'm interested in it.

This is a long post so thank you for sticking with me to the end.
I wish for each and every one of you superb health.
If you don't have that now, know there are ways.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Summer Kitchen

 One of the unexpected perks we discovered once I finally got to see our “new” home was the way the original garage and the newer garage were joined.  The wall between the two structures was not removed.  The newer larger garage would obviously be used for its intended purpose, and will house Vern, our 1948 Ford 8N tractor (more on him another time.) 
The small original garage then became an easy choice for the summer kitchen.  I had a makeshift set-up in the shop at the old place, but did a lot of going back and forth between the house and shop.  This gets to be the real deal!  I do a tremendous amount of food preservation, soap making, and candle dipping, as well as daily cooking.  The old saying (since we are in the vintage era here) “Make hay while the sun shines,” holds true for people food as well as hay for stock. Canning season is typically during the hottest months of the year.  It is so nice to be able to have the stove going and not heat up the house.  Or dehydrators going.  Or the mess corn makes.  Or…
(The "before" shot)
In case you aren’t picking up on it, I am over the moon excited!
Here, let me show you~

It has two windows both of which are broken.  The one over the sink was missing a large shard and had a scrap of cardboard propped over it, not even secured, just kinda sitting there - Classy I know.  MrLB was walking out behind the building to check the roof (which leaked but is now fixed) and noticed the shard on the ground.  Without saying anything, he got gasket maker and applied it to the edges of the shard and put it back in place.  I was cleaning inside when he came in and took the cardboard from the window and said, “There.”  I was amazed.  He’s just so sweet.

I still have my old pantry shelves which now house canning pots and empty jars.  I might change things up a bit as I use it and get the space figured out, but am just smitten with it all at the moment.  
I have the igloo set up by the sink for water since there’s no water to the building.  There is a large bucket under the drain of the old concrete sink to catch the water which will work well so I can water plants with it.  
Next is the hutch I recently acquired and cleaned up.  It will house pretty much what it did in the mountain house other than my herbs and spices.  My bowls aren’t out here yet as there was a bit of a mouse problem so we had to get that under control before I store things like that out here.
I haven't seen any "evidence" of the little rascals for nearly a month now.
I'm sure it will be on-going, but at least now maybe we can have a bit better control over the situation. 
Next is the harvest table.  I had this at the old place too, but honestly, it was usually covered with junk.  It’s an old library table about 7 feet long, and I love it!  It is a perfect height for me.  I am rather vertically challenged :-)  Standard kitchen counters are high for me and when working at them all day, my neck and shoulders get tired/sore.  It’s right next to the stove so I can move heavy canning pots to and from or have a handy work surface when dipping candles, etc. The cauldron fits under it which makes use of that space as well.
A couple other tidbits are the old yellow table and chairs so we can sit to shell peas or string beans or whatever the task at hand is (a cup of tea?)  The cushions actually go to our outdoor furniture, but rather than figuring out just where to store them for winter, I just put them on the chairs. 

And at the moment, I have the clothes line set up in here though it's easy to move outside if I want to.  We get more wind here which sounds like it would be great for drying clothes, but it's often dusty as well so this works out well.
  I've just brought the clothes trees out and will cover them, but
that would be unsightly for the photo.
The shelves will go in the house eventually, but for now they are just sitting there reminding me that I have more to do.
And in this corner which is actually a bit embarrassing at the moment, is where I will put my potting/gardening bench - against the same wall as the freezers.
The fabric on the hutch.
Last but not least, is the guard bunny.  Hucklebunny Hideaway is right out the door so she can be sure to help “recycle” any veggie leaves or goodies that become available.
The funny thing about all this is that when we figured out this space would be the summer kitchen, I hopped online for ideas on how to set it up.  If you do a search for “Summer Kitchen,” you will either see the Hollywood pool-party version or a fireplace in a historical cabin - no happy in between for practical use.  I do realize we are not exactly main stream in our ways, but I would have thought there would be a few.  I realize it looks rather rudimentary, but I assure you it all gets scrubbed before food is processed.  I would love to know if any of you have a summer kitchen or if you set up a temporary one for canning 
(or other specific tasks.)  
I've been busy amending soil that doesn't appear to have seen a spade
 for a decade or more.
Nearly everything is planted.  There are a few more things to get in the ground tomorrow then it will just be whatever progressive planting I decide upon.
I pulled out first radishes today so it won't be long, and I will be putting this space through a real workout.

Hope you are enjoying spring.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Canning Chips

Yes, that says "Canning Chips."
Here, let me explain~
We don't eat very many chips, but
when we do, they are part of a meal rather than a snack item.
They are nice with taco soup or to have nachos on occasion.
There is a small local company that makes good corn chips that we like,
but there are only a few places to get them.
So when I'm able to make it to one of the stores that carries them,
I get a couple bags and can them.
Simply use wide mouth jars and put as many chips in as possible.
Then I use the vacuum attachment to the seal-a-meal to lid them.
You could also Hot-oven Can them which is what I did 
until I got the vacuum attachment.
One bag makes 4-5 quart jars depending upon how many you eat 
during the canning process. :-)
Then they can go in the pantry and are ready when you need them.
For the two of us, we use 1 quart jar at a time.
If you have a family, it would be more of course.
The longest I've ever stored them is about a year, and 
they were still fresh and tasty.
As is the case when canning any dry-good,
it's important that your jars and lids are clean and completely dry.

Just a note, many of the items in my pantry have rims on them.
When we moved, I put rims on most of the jars just as an extra precaution.
I didn't want lids to pop if the jar was jostled just right.
I have plenty of rims so am just removing them as I use the food.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Place to Keep Quotes

The other evening as I was browsing through blog posts,
I meandered over to see what Bonnie K at
I noticed a quote in her sidebar that caught my eye.
Then I sat and read each one.
I thought she needs a book like mine.
I have this darling little book that a friend made for me.
It's only about 2" X 3.5". 
When she gave it to me, I wondered what I would do with it.
An answer appeared within a week 
when I read a quote I liked.
I have a punch bowl on our coffee table in the living room.
It has little books in it that I change with the seasons.
I've tried removing the punch bowl and going with something else,
but I get in trouble.
There are a few folks who visit who evidently like the punch bowl.
So in the punch bowl I keep my little quote book.
Every so often when I read a quote that resonates,
I write it in the little book.
Since I'm not allowed to get rid of the punch bowl,
folks will have to fight over it when my time is through.
If you have a favorite quote, let me know.
Evidently, I'm not the only one who likes them.

A side note~ when we were without internet for nearly a month,
I did hop on another computer and looked at the blog.
Only about half - two thirds of the blogs I follow appear on the blog reading list.
I don't know why, if it's something I did or if it's blogger.
So even if you don't see your blog on the list, I may still be a follower.