Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It is the last day of 2010 and tomorrow we begin a new year.  I am still rolling in holiday treats.  Shaylee asked to buy chips today and I actually said that I'm sick of chips!  Yes, I said that!  I am tired of the treats and goodies and have a feeling some will find their way to the compost bin soon since I am usually the one to finish things off.

I have made some changes over the year but probably not as much progress as I would of hoped.  I am finding it easier to say no at the grocery store.  As I have mentioned, I am not perfect.  In time, I will get to where I want to be even if it takes a little longer than I would of liked.

Many of my favorite blogs are doing a recap of their most popular posts.  Out of curiosity, I checked the ones which got the most page views on this blog.   Here are the top five in descending order:

5. Chicken Soup x 2 .  This is still something I crave often.  
Chicken stew/soup=delicious!

4. Real Food In An Emergency Situation .  I don't know why this surprises me.  
I'm sure that many people are curious about it and it is still something I think 
aboutfrom time to time.

3. Big Mac Salad .  This is my all time favorite salad and I am glad so many 
people enjoyed it!

2. Move Over, Taco Bell .  Homemade tacos, way better than chain made!

1. Crackers! .  A very simple recipe yet it had the most views :)

I want to thank everyone who has visited my blog!  It is always nice to share things 
with other people.  There is such a great community of people in the real food world 
and I am glad to be a teeny tiny part of it :)

Happy New Year, Friends!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Honey Garlic Sauce

Well, due to an issue of burning out my frying pan, I never got to make those wontons last night.   It was pretty bad.

I did, however, make the honey garlic sauce I had planned to use and boy is it yummy!  I made sure there was enough left for when I can chisel out my frying pan.  Maybe this will give me incentive to finally de-rust and season my cast iron skillet.

Note to self, a frying steak can turn on you in an instant!  Good thing the steak was still delicious and barely burnt at all!  My pan on the other hand.....

The best thing about this sauce is it retains most of it's goodness since it is not heated to a nutrient killing cooking temperature.  I don't know if it would still be considered raw by some standards but in any case, it's far more delicious and nutritious than the jarred stuff at the store or what they serve in a Chinese restaurant!

Honey Garlic Sauce

1 cup of water or beef broth
1/2 cup of raw honey (or more to taste)
2 or more large cloves of garlic , finely minced or grated
1tbsp molasses
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
1 heaping tbsp arrowroot powder/flour (or more if a thicker sauce is desired)

Honey garlic sauce on my basmati rice, veggies and steak,mmm!
Combine water/broth and honey in a small saucepan.  Stir well to mix and add garlic, molasses and Worcestershire sauce.  Heat at a low temperature until warmed.  Mix the second measure of water and arrowroot powder in a cup and add to the saucepan.  Keep stirring while it heats on low until it reaches desired consistency.

Cook Notes: I used water but I think it would be far better using beef broth.  The local garlic I use is huge.  Two cloves is half the bulb and is very potent so definitely adjust to taste!

Part of Simple Lives Thursday!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taste Changing Seasonally?

I notice that my tastes are changing to reflect what is seasonal(ish).  Not entirely but getting there.

We live in a world where we can eat any food we want any day of the year.  Strawberries in January?   Yep, the store has them!  Salad on Christmas?  Why not!  Well, you get the picture.

I have always eaten salad year round, for example. Now it just does not appeal to me.  I have bought organic salad greens twice this month and other than my daughter who loves salad, it has largely gone uneaten and bad.  I bought some cherries the other day and they just were not good to me.  Over the years I realized that cucumbers any time of the year than when they come out of the garden are mealy and gross.  You can just tell when something does not taste right.

Let your labels be your guide.  If the produce at the grocery store has a local label, you will know that it was not shipped in from far away where it is either in season in another part of the world or artificially brought into season (usually they will say hot house if it is raised that way and I am still deciding how I feel about that but since hot houses are not common here, I guess I don't need to worry too much about it since I don't eat them).  (I edited this to add at our stores, it says where the food comes from either on the signs or labels.  If this is not the case where you shop, don't be afraid to ask!  If enough people ask for local food, it may drive demand for stores to carry it).

Find out what is in season locally.  While some places that are cold in the winter don't grow much in the winter, like here, many things keep well over winter and are considered winter vegetables.  This time next year I will be part of a CSA so I will find out just what they have this time of year.  Quite frankly, I'm really excited about that!!  See if that is an option in your area.

Eat what you stored.  I have tons of berries and veggies I froze when they were in season.  I didn't can this year at all but for some people, that is a great option.

Now, I'm not perfect.  I don't ever want anyone to get the idea that I do everything perfectly, no, no, no.  I still sometimes buy things that I'm not sure of, sometimes I go the cheap route because we're poor, sometimes I buy things because the kids like them and yes, more than I care to admit, we have eaten out recently at fast food joints (cringing inside because of the canola oil).  I am on a journey and I can't get there in one giant step, but in lots of baby steps.   Real food living takes a lot of changes, requires a new way of thinking and seeing things.  It is a process, one that is not popular in the "real world" in which I live in.

Now, today I am hoping to make what will be a real treat.  My favorite Chinese restaurant has something called "Honey Garlic Wonton Strips" which are so good.  Basically they fry thin strips of wonton wrappers and serve them in a heap with honey garlic sauce (which still has bits of the beef in it).  I am going to attempt something but with my sourdough.  It should be interesting :).  We want to have Chinese food for New Years Eve (I did cheat and buy a pack of frozen appetizers though.  Like I said, I'm not perfect!).

Part of Kelly The Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Salisbury Steak

Jenny at the Nourished Kitchen recently posted a recipe for Salisbury Steak.  I was intrigued because I always loved those frozen dinners and it was the only way I could ever find this dish.  Why it didn't occur to me to make it is beyond me.

Her recipe is far more developed than what I made as I did not do a reduction sauce.  I didn't have any broth and we don't have wine (and de-alcoholized wine wasn't appealing to me).  I also used organic mini-bella mushrooms instead of wild ones as I did not want this lunch costing us $20+.  I was quite surprised that the organic mushrooms were the same price as the regular ones ($3), although both are grown without pesticides, so I wonder what the difference is.  With the beef being $2.50 a pound, for us it is a relatively inexpensive meal and it would go well with rice, potatoes or noodles of choice (we had it plain).  The meat could also be stretched with soaked oatmeal or sourdough bread crumbs or another traditionally prepared starch.

So basically, visit Jenny's site if you want the full flavor experience of a well bodied salisbury steak.  Check my recipe out for a quick and cheap version ;)

Quick and Easy Salisbury Steak

2tbsp. butter
1lbs grass fed beef
1/2 tsp. sea salt

2-4 tbsp. butter
1/2 lbs mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1 cup chopped onions

Salisbury Steak on our fancy second hand Tupperware plates.
Melt butter in frying pan.  Form beef into 4 or more patties and fry until done.  Remove patties and add butter to frying pan.  Use it to loosen any yummy bits of beef left in pan and to well coat the pan.  Add the mushrooms and onions, stir to coat with butter and gently cook until onions are done to desired texture (I like mine a little crispy).  Serve patties with mushroom onion mix on top.  Yum!

Mark and I thought this was very good!  We actually used all the mushroom onion mix on our two patties since we didn't eat it with anything so I have two burger patties for another meal.  Total cost of this meal for me was about $6.50 and we get two meals out of it (not including what I use for the other meal).  We could not eat out for that and this is mostly organic, locally grown/produced goodness.


This post is a part of  Tuesday Twister@ GNOWFGLINS

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Stew and "English" Muffins

Since my sourdough starter was doing really well, I decided it was time to do something with it.  I really liked the no-knead dough in a bucket idea so I ran with it.  The ratio is 6-3-3-13, which is 6 cups of water, 3 tablespoons salt, 3 cups starter and 13 cups of flour.  I mixed it all together very well and placed in a large food container I purchased (I knew I couldn't get a bucket in my fridge so I got a rectangular container which is flat and fits well).  I then put it in the fridge overnight.

To make the English Muffins, or rustic muffins since they are not cut out, I just sprinkled the top of the took a small amount of dough and shaped it into a thin circular shape.  I was making stew at the time so I wanted to wait until that was done before I started to cook them.  I let my cast iron 2-burner griddle heat up and cooked on each side until browned.

The stew was just a basic beef stew with lots of veggies.  I feel I have not eaten enough vegetables so I was really craving them.  Here is what supper looked like:

Big Bowl O' Beef Stew and english muffins, aerial view.

Close up, after butter melted.
The english muffins puffed up a lot waiting to cook them so I found they didn't cook all the way through even though I was only cooking them on three.  They will be great for toasting, but I do not like doughy bread products where the middle is kind of uncooked (Mark does).  I will probably make them again, but a lot thinner as I didn't realize just how puffy they would get.  I did eat the outer crust and it was yummy :).  I'm not sure what I'll make next as there are so many things.  I may make tortillas because there is something yummy I want to make soon.  Cinnamon rolls are also a big hit here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Party Loaves

I didn't know what else to call these since there are so many variations which one could make.

On Tuesday, my family had their annual Christmas party.  I made fudge to bring but changed my mind after I left it in the fridge too long and it got kind of dried out and a little too eaten (Mark and the kids were taking pieces which were 4-6 piece serving sizes since I hadn't cut it.  It was kind of hard to cut since it had marshmallows in it.  Yes, delicious Christmas junk!).

This left me at the last minute trying to decide what to make.  A woman at church often makes a ham and cheese loaf but I couldn't find anything online that resembled it.  So I made my own version!

I made a loaf sized batch of dough.  This would work well with sourdough and I plan to make it when I get my sourdough on the go.  A loaf sized batch of bread dough will make three.  Divide it into three equal parts.

Roll the dough into either an oval or a rectangle shape.  I did it on parchment paper to make it easy to transfer.  Then on either side, make about eight slits which are about a third of the width on each side leaving the middle third uncut, which is where you put your toppings of choice (I made a ham and cheese one with a base of mayo and I made a pizza one which had pepperoni, mozza and a base of tomato sauce.  Sorry they are sideways, I forgot to rotate them and I'm too lazy to redo it ;) ):

Rolled out dough.

Mayo, ham and cheese.
Pizza toppings, I kept it basic.

 After you have your toppings on the dough, start braiding the sides.  Kind of tuck in the tops and bottoms to seal them in.  Next time, I think I would coat with an egg wash before baking.  
Braided loaf.
 After you braid your loaf (loaves), bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour.  Slice and serve!

Finishes loaves on plate, cut into pieces and my itty bitty netbook in the background ;)
This was a hit at the party!  Everyone loved them and they were soooo goood!  You could put any toppings you like, even making it a sweet loaf.  It would be good to assemble, wrap and freeze to have on hand as something to cook on short notice or for an easy lunch/supper.  It probably took an hour and a half from the time I started the dough until it was cut and we were out the door, but that was only because I left for an hour to shop while the dough was in the bread machine.  If you made a bunch, it wouldn't even take any extra time.  I am planning to make some and along with some other goodies, will be part of our Christmas Day brunch :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Sourdough Starter

I started another starter on Sunday because my previous attempts were pretty disastrous.  Here is my little beast tonight:

Whoo!  My baby is growing!  When I stirred it down, it was about half the amount so I dumped half and did my feeding.  I always get a lot of hooch when I make a starter.  Today I had a thick layer on the top after about 2 hours so I added a quarter cup of just whole wheat flour and it was fine.  Then tonight I had a mass of bubbles!  Basically what I'm doing is adding 1/4 cup each of water and whole wheat flour every 12 hours, stirring vigorously, scraping the sides down, covering with a cloth napkin and putting it in the cupboard (we have a serious fruit fly problem at the moment and my ferments aren't helping!).  I may start adding a little extra flour at each feeding because it is eating it up like crazy.

I should soon be able to start using it.  The videos from the sourdough e-course through were so helpful.  There was a bucket method shown, which is similar to the artisan bread in 5 minutes method.  She had a friend on it who was more of a "little of this and a little of that" like me, so it seemed like a method that would work well for me.  They made bread, cinnamon rolls, pita, english muffins and so on from it.  Very cool.  My fridge is teeny tiny so I may have to move shelves around to get a little bucket in there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sad Day


Wardeh, you have change my life.  Your e-course was spectacular and I learned so much.  I wish I could continue my membership but things are financially really hard and that extra money is needed for groceries.  If things look up, I'll be back in a heart beat.  The videos and accompanying dialogue made everything so clear and really help me see and understand how to make traditional foods (can you believe dialogue is not in my spellcheck but Facebook is?).

I have spent the last few days watching videos.  I even dreamed Wardeh was with me on a cross province trip, making stops at bake offs last night and checking water levels in small communities, lol!  Yeah, kind of weird!

So friends, if you are overwhelmed and not sure how to get going with traditional food preparation, I highly recommend signing up for these e-courses.  Click the banner for a link.  It is very reasonably priced with courses for all price ranges but it is still a hardship for us right now.

I am planning to do a complete overhaul of our eating in the new year.  I am going to find things the kids LIKE.  I am tired of catering to their picky food likes.  They even turn their noses up at things most kids love!  I am making tacos for lunch and while I just have my son home, I am hoping he will try and like them (I once made them too spicy so they would never eat them again.  Update: it is like trying to get a rock to eat.  He will not try it, just nibbling some of the tortilla.  He was moaning and upset over trying something new; have I mentioned he has sensory food issues?).    I have my dough resting for tortillas and while my hamburger is frozen, I find it's easy to cook if it is going to be in crumbles anyway.  It is a quick, easy to prepare lunch.

I don't really have any recipes because to be honest, I haven't really been cooking.  I have still been very sick and very tired.  This illness has taken a lot out of me.  I haven't had the energy to keep up with dishes (until this morning, every single dish, utensil and pot and pan was dirty, literally).  I haven't had the energy to shop.  I haven't  felt like making real food, even though I made a pot of stew and a batch of rolls for a friend who just had a baby.  We have been relying on easy junk and it is showing.  I am so bloated and ill and I know it's not helping me get better eating junk.  My Candida is so bad it is affecting my mouth so I know I need to get the sugar and refined grains out.

So enough whining.  I will be better prepared in the new year.  Wardeh is a great example of organization.  When I watch,I think she must have OCD too, lol!!  (I have OCD but a weird kind)  I must meal plan again.  I must stop wasting food and making better use of the food we have.    There is a lot I want to do but the ultimate goal will be to nourish our bodies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Well, I can't account for the whole time I was gone but for the  most part I was sick.  Not sort of sick, not really sick, but the sickest I have ever been in my entire life!!  I am entirely serious.  Mark keeps saying he can't believe how sick I am, that he's never seen me so bad ever.  It's true.  The first couple of days were a blur because of my extreme fever.  It's funny as I had been tracking my temperature for reasons I'll write of after then all of a sudden, it was super high.

Then when my fever broke, I started getting cold sores.  I have always had them from time to time.  But not like these suckers!  My whole right side of my face was puffed up and it was so blistered I couldn't move my mouth. My neck glands were so swollen that I could not sleep laying down since it hurt my neck so bad being on a pillow.  Yesterday they were at their worst and today they are almost gone.


The miracle of coconut oil!  I had been putting it on since I got the cold sores and the healing process has been going very fast.  I've healed what would normally take a week in two days.  I am simply amazed.  This morning I was carefully wiping my mouth off after eating something and layers of scabs came off (sorry, gross I know!). There is no swelling, just some scabbing which will probably go away quickly.

Wow.  Food really is medicine!

So why did I get so sick?  First of all, I think a big reason is that I haven't been taking my Vitamin D and cod liver oil regularly.  I did last year and never got sick (except the odd cold).  As well, I believe that I have adrenal fatigue.  I was actually going to write about it much sooner, actually, right after my last post I was thinking of what I was going to write.  Then things started happening.  There was a lot of stress in the family, our washing machine broke, things piling up around the house, money problems, other things I can't even remember, Christmas, just stress stress everywhere.  Plus I had taken to eating poorly because I have no energy to do anything.

I started looking up about it and came across Matt Stone's 180 degree health blog.  I was blown over because he could of been talking about me.  It's been nearly a couple of week since I read it (well, 10 days as I found it the day I wrote my last post).  He talks about RRARF, recuperative (or is it restorative) rest and refeeding.  It is a way of healing your metabloism so you can function again.  Basically, you find out if you have metabolic damage by taking your temperature every morning for a week.  If it unusually low, then you proceed (my average is 96.5, sometimes its lower).  Then, you spend about a month resting and eating.  Not just eating everything, but a specific way and as often as your body needs.  And I haven't gotten to what you do after that yet.

I don't want to butcher it but if you sign up, you get a free e-book which explains everything.  It just makes so much sense to me and why I am the way I am.  It helped me understand why I am so darn tired all the time and have so much trouble losing weight.  It is a life numbing, crippling fatigue that I am hoping that I can over come because no one understands what it is like.  I plan to start in January simply because of the stresses of December and holiday eating.

I am still recuperating from being sick so I have not been cooking.  I was hoping to have some holiday recipes on the go but I think I have to find my kitchen first ;)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Get Well

Link to Kelly The Kitchen Kop: Announcing the 21-Day Wellness & Weight Loss Adventure: Coming January 3rd, 2011

I need this. I mean REALLY need it! I feel like I am spiraling out of control food-wise and with Christmas this month, I know it is going to get worse.

Funny thing is that if I compare how I eat to how I ate a year ago, I know I'm eating much better. Much healthier. But it's not enough because I am heavier than I was last year. I need to get stronger, be firmer in my resolve not to have junk in the house and work on my family to eat real food as if our lives depend on it because I firmly believe it does.

I am going to have two sets of goals, one for me and one for the family. I am stricter with myself for a number of reasons but the main one is that I seem to be the only one who cannot tolerate many carbs. If I limit them, I end up binging. That is where I am right now; I can't get enough!

So after Christmas, after New Year, when the holiday feasting is done, I am going to get down to business.

It will take me a while to work on my goals because I am not entirely sure just what it is I want to accomplish. I have my ideals but I want to make them workable. I do not want to set myself up for failure. My main objectives are to get healthy and lose weight. I know being the weight I am is setting me up for potential health problems and I am not getting any younger. I need to get moving, even if it is only a 10 minute walk a day to start out (walking the kids to the bus stop is a 20 minute walk each time, so I could do that even just to pick them up).

I am tired of being tired. I am tired of how things are, of having ideals and not pulling through, especially when I am weak at the grocery store and pick up food which is not ideal. it is hard to change. It is hard to go against the grain. But it will be worth it :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Light I Like

Ours does not look like this but I think it's
too new in Canada to find an online picture :)
Sometimes we will have compromise foods in our life, especially when starting out trying to eat better (especially with very picky kids!!).  For example, a quick easy meal that I can make in minutes is spaghetti and meatballs.  The meatballs are frozen (precooked, I throw them in with the pasta to cook), I use whole wheat pasta and the kids favorite sauce is Ragu, straight from the bottle.  That is my compromise as it has soy oil in it, one of the things I try hard to avoid.  I do like that it is in a bottle instead of the bpa lined cans (although the lids most likely have it).  Plus I find it has a better taste (I have grown to hate the taste of canned foods).

Now, here in Canada we don't get products  like they do in the US.  I have been looking for sugar cookie Celestial Seasonings for years and have finally given up, for example.  When I was low carbing and into the products, they didn't come here for a couple of years after they were in the states.

This week Ragu was on sale for $1 a bottle so I was stocking up (it's usually about $3 a bottle).  There was a new kind, light spaghetti sauce so I got half original and half light.  When I got home, I realized the light had no soy oil in it!  Whoo hoo!  I know what I'll be buying from now on!  I went back and got some more because we use a bottle a week between spaghetti, pizza and other dishes.

Photo credit: