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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bread, muffins and granola, oh my!

I mentioned the soaked bread I was attempting in the bread machine. Despite losing a lot of liquid, it was a sucess! It rose well, has a wonderful consistency and is yummy. The kids aren't so crazy about it, but they'll live ;). It is good and slices easily for sandwiches.

I made some banana chocolate chip muffins out of the Pharoh's mix I mentioned the other day. Yummers! I actually followed the coffee cake recipe but added an extra egg, 2 cups of mushed banana (there were big chunks of banana in the muffins adding to the yumminess) and a cup of chocolate chips. I put the batter in my heart shaped silicone muffin liners (it made 14) and baked for about a half an hour. So good!! They are moist, tasty and are a definate must make again :). Pretty good for a spelt and kamut muffin! Actually, I was telling DH they are more like a cup cake, but healthier :)

Granola. It is my first attempt at making soaked granola. It has been in the dehydrator for a few hours and I am just now realizing all the things I did wrong, lol! To backtrack, I loosely was following a recipe online. I soaked 3 cups of organic "New found" oats, 1 cup steel cup oats, 1 cup spelt flakes and a cup of spelt flour with 5 cups of water and 6 tablespoons of kefir. I also added a cup of raw sunflower seeds. I let it soak nearly 24 hours then I added 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1 cup of chocolate chips (need to wean the kids into homemade goodies again with some chocolate) and some vanilla. I mixed well, loaded up the dehydrator and realized, I forgot salt, coconut oil and some other things I meant to put in. At least I will know for next time. It was very soupy. Next time I will follow a recipe properly. I won't post what I used for embarrassment of messing up so badly. It may still turn out good so I won't discount it yet. I want to make granola for the kids that don't have nuts since they can't have any nuts at all at school, except coconut.

In other news, we are going to the valley tomorrow, yay! I plan to come home with about 200lbs or more of fresh fall produce. Carrots and turnip/rutabagas to put up in sawdust, squash, pumpkins, kale to dry, another gallon of honey, a big bag of organic sugar and more. I imagine our trunk will be FULL!! I want to go to the place that has pork. I couldn't decide between a side of pork or a quarter beef first, but I think I will go with the beef since we have a ton of pork in the freezer. I will pick up some of their natural bacon and maybe some sausage. I will have to bring a cooler! It's just a day trip, but it will be productive.

As well, I plan on taking part in The Nourished Kitchen's Real Food For Real Families series. It is a low cost approach to real food on a budget. I look forward to it! Our budget is shrinking while our food needs keep growing.

Well, my Monday Market Report should be a little bigger than usual, but it will feed us a good long time!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oh The Irony!

***Edited to add that ended up not making the cake.  I hope she didn't read this and was offended :(**

I had a list of things I wanted to do when the kids went to school. In all honesty, I haven't done much on that list. One of the things was perfecting my cake making and decorating skills. I put that on the back burner since I only make a couple of fancy cakes a year.

Yesterday, I got a call from someone my mother-in-law was talking to whom she told I made fondant cakes. I was a little speechless. Here I was giving up on the idea of cake making and someone wants to pay me to make a cake. Not only giving up on cake making, but getting rid of my refined flours, sugars and food coloring. I almost tossed it all.

So now I just have to figure out how much to charge. That is the hard part. She was going to pay someone $125. There is a reason people charge that much for cakes. Being someone who always undercharges, I almost said $15 but that wouldn't even cover the supplies/ingredients, let alone time. I will also have to get a cake board and box, so I may charge $40, $35 if she returns the cake board and box. I have been watching videos all morning to refresh my mind about how to do it.

So yes, oh the irony. Here I am trying to eat better and making pure sugary junk for pay. The even more ironic part is I plan to put the money in my grass fed meat fund! (that is where I put all my extra money and earned money from babysitting and such)

Right now, I have a bunch of things on the go. I wanted to try to make soaked flour bread machine bread. Around 4pm last night, I mixed the flour it would take for a loaf with a couple tablespoons of kefir and the water required for the recipe. I put it in the machine until the flour was completely soaked. I covered and let sit overnight. I proofed some yeast in warm water and honey then added it to the flour as well as some oil and a pinch of salt. I put it in the machine to mix and it was splashing everywhere! I tried putting a towel over it, but it wasn't working, so I stopped it and hand kneaded the flour mix with the other ingredients until it was able to mix better with the paddle. I generally don't do much kneading because of my hands (which is why I always use the bread machine), but it mixed well and seems to be a nice soft dough. It's on the first rise. I hope it turns out. I have a feeling I may have to tweak things a bit to get them just right.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Hearty Lunch



One thing I like about the kids being in school is I can experiment with meals for lunch. I had the idea in my head for today's lunch since last week but I wanted to wait for a day that Mark would be home for lunch. He suggested we go to KFC for lunch. I thought about it, but realized that once again, something made at home would be better. In case you're wondering why every Tuesday we think about KFC, well, it's because it's "Toonie Tuesday" which means a two piece meal is only $2.79 or so (It used to be $2, which is a Canadian "toonie" but the price keeps going up). I really want to stop eating junk food and find healthy fast home alternative meals instead :)

This took hardly any time to make, about half an hour start to finish. What is it?, you may be wondering. It is Potato Leek Soup served with onion cheese cornmeal muffins. This meal is 100% local-ish (within 100 miles) and 90% organic!

I started by making the muffins. I used a Speerville "Cornucopia" mix. These are $4.49 at Sobeys, all organic, no GMO's, stone ground and local. I used the basic recipe on the side, 2 1/2 cups of mix, 1.5 cups of milk, a glug of oil (my usual method), I used two eggs instead of one and mixed without over mixing. I added in a half cup of grated cheese (could of used more) and about a quarter cup of salted green onions. I poured into heart shaped silicone muffin liners and baked about 20 minutes while I prepared the rest of lunch. (I also have "Pharoh's Favorite" mix which I hope to use soon. This was more expensive at $5.49 a box).


For the soup, I thinly sliced 4 peeled and washed potatoes. This went into a large pot then covered with cold water and 2 sliced onions. While this came to a boil, I thoroughly washed then sliced a big bunch of leeks (about 6). When the potatoes were tender, I added the leeks, a hunk of butter, a couple pinches of salt then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Before serving I added about a cup of milk. It would be better with cream but I didn't have any. I sprinked with dried herbs before serving (it is a salad mix with garlic, onion, shallots, red onions and parsley). Add a pat of butter on top and serve!

I asked Mark if it was better than KFC and he said it kind of was. The soup was very light but delightful and satisfying to eat. It would be very rich and yummy with cream. The muffins were moist and very tasty. They were very hearty and satisfying. I'm glad we stayed home for lunch :)

As an aside, we have one more store egg before we start eating only free range, farmers market eggs. I know the season for them isn't long so we will enjoy it while we can. The funny thing is that many of the store eggs have much darker yolks than the farmers eggs. Hmmmm.

This post is part of Twister Tuesday at http://gnowfglins.com!!

Salmon Salad


I made the soaked brown rice last Friday and it was pretty good. Everyone except for Ethan loved it, but he's picky and wouldn't even touch it. The big problem was there was a ton left over!

About 10 years ago or so, there was a big thing with rice salads around here. Generally you took rice, dumped salad dressing and some vegetables in it and voila, you have a rice salad. I think it was Kraft's way of getting people to buy their stuff.

I decided to make a healthier version of their rice salad.

Salmon Salad
4 cups leftover brown rice
1 can wild salmon
1/4 cup mayonaise of choice (more or less to taste, preferably homemade, but I used the last bit of my Hellmans with Olive oil; it's made with canola oil in Canada, which is still an unhealthy fat in real food circles)
2 or 3 whole green onions, chopped
Other vegetables to taste

Break up the brown rice and wild salmon in a large bowl. Add the mayo and onions and stir well until everything is well mixed. Chill until ready to serve

This would taste great with sliced peppers or on a bed of greens. I didn't have either so I had it as is and it was very good! I used a lemon pepper herb blend to season it, but it tasted good even without it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Market Report Sept. 27th


Well, I didn't have much luck at the market on Thursday. I went but didn't buy anything. I wanted to, but there wasn't anything we needed nor were there any good buys.
Saturday, however, was a much better day! At the farmer's market, I bought two packages of grass fed beef ($5), two huge bunches of organic leeks ($2 each, so $4), a handful of organic hot peppers ($1) a bunch of organic green onions ($1), a big bunch of greens, I'm not sure what, maybe kale? (I usually get swiss chard from this lady but this was all she had, $1), 1 pound bag of dried beans ($2) and two dozen eggs ($3.50 for regular and $2 for pullet eggs). So a pretty good haul for just under $20.

I dehydrated the leeks and I'm really hoping to get more this week as they dry so good and are so Tasty!!

After the farmers market, we went to Wallace Brother's farm for some apple picking fun! We picked a huge basket of apples and it was $7.













I asked about arctic kiwi and they had some this time! Shaylee is showing the container we were filling. He only charged $1 for a 2 pound container! The half pint containers in the store are on sale this week for $2! They are so super yummy! I hope they have more the next time we go.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Egg Salad Sandwich


Last week, I was really craving fast food. I wanted to go to KFC so bad! I live practically across the street and can always smell it when the wind is blowing. I know it smells better than it tastes so I tried to resist.

Instead, I decided to make an old favorite, an egg salad sandwich. I had some fries with it to kill the fast food crave (it is on a little plate so it looks like more food than there is! The ketchup is in a silicone mini muffin liner).

I love eggs. I really love egg sandwiches. At an event where there are sandwiches, I always go for the egg. I especially love onions in my egg salad. I know many people don't but that yummy crunchy biting taste is just so good!

For this sandwich, I mashed a couple of eggs, a heaping tablespoon of real mayo, a couple teaspoons of drained salted onions and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I mounded what I could on a slice of homemade bread (then I ate the extra), put the top piece of bread on, cut in half and served with some fries and ketchup. Simple but good!

Friday, September 24, 2010

gnowfglins

You may be wondering what the title of my post means. "God's natural organic whole foods grown locally and in season". I love it! It is a blog I've been following for a while now: gnowfglins.com . For a while, I was drooling over the fact she has e-courses on her site. As you may have figured out, we aren't exactly in a postition to pay a lot of money for things right now. I am using all our resources to source local, healthy, nourishing food to sustain my family.

However, she offers a "pay what you can" option for the courses. I hesitated for months because I knew we could not afford much. So I paid what I could. If we can afford to, I will pay more later because it is an enormous resource! I am blown away by all the information and the awesome way it is presented. It has helped me understand why we need to do certain things to food to make them more digestable and allow maximum absorption of the good things while cutting out the bad.

Since I have "lots of free time" (as so many seem to think, but not really) and I really want to get into real food, I thought why not. I should learn to do it properly. I follow lots of real food blogs but it gets time consuming and a lot to wade through and I rarely get to the fundamentals. Speaking of which, there is a fundamentals course and a sourdough course. I will be working through them all (except the ones where I can't afford to get the cultures, like kombucha, for example). I'll be doing the best I can.

I have my first project soaking right now, brown rice. We are going to have a "Chinese" supper of soaked rice, vegetable egg rolls and a stir fry. The egg rolls aren't really considered "traditional" but it is a locally made food so it could be worse, I guess. I need to transition my family into better eating and I know it will take time.

I bought some sunflower seeds today which I will be making into sunbutter. It's like peanut butter but since it is not a nut, the kids will be able to take it to school. I am trying to find out about soaking and dehydrating. I also bought a few pounds of raw almonds that I plan to soak and dehydrate. I've done it before and they are yummy! I got a few other natural foods at the bulk food store and will go back to get more. They have a coupon to save $3 if you spend $10 or more plus you get a free reusable shopping bag if you spend $10 or more. Win win!.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

WCRL - Nova Scotia Food Recommended Reading

WCRL - Nova Scotia Food

I thought I would share this link to the library's page on Nova Scotia food/cookbooks. I may check some out because I like to read :)

I am reading a really good book right now that I will soon write about. I can't wait to finish it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michael Pollan on Organic Food, Very Good!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beef Stew


One of the dishes made with our market food was beef stew. I made this a little differently than usual since it was a small amount and I wanted to make it fast. We finally tried the King Limousin beef and it was good. It is grass fed and pastured. She said they take them right off the meadow when it comes time for slaughtering (not a nice visual, but it is what I'm looking for). No antibiotics or hormones and they are now a registered organic beef farm, although their first batch of organic beef won't be on the market until next year. Their cows are still all raised the same though.

So it was $3.25 for a pound of stewing meat, which is fairly comparable to what you buy in the grocery store. It was very lean and a little tough, but that is probably because I cooked it too fast. Stewing meat is best cooked long and slow. We were just too hungry!

So I browned one pound of stewing meat in a little bacon fat.

Meanwhile, I washed, peeled and sliced 5 carrots, 2 parsnips, an onion and a leek (you can add what you like, whatever is in season. I added most of the leek greens about 5 minutes before the stew was done).

After the meat was done browning, about the time I was done the veggies, I added the vegetables, a couple cups of water, a sprinkle of sea salt, covered and let simmer for about 25 minutes or so until all the vegetables were tender.

Oh, I also cut the beef in smaller pieces after adding the vegetables but you can do this before adding them or even before cooking. I just hate cutting raw meat. You can leave it in big chunks if you like but it will take longer to cook.

I then added a tablespoon of cornstarch to a cup of water, mixed well and added to the frying pan, stirred well to make sure it mixed well to make a thin gravy. You can add more cornstarch if you want a thicker gravy or even use a different thickener all together or just leave it soupy.

Serve with homemade bread!

I will soon be posting my bread recipe. I've made it several times now and it is the best one I've used!

Market Report


This is something I want to get in the habit of doing. Fresh produce markets probably won't be around much longer so I want to report in what we got and how it was.

At the Thursday market, there wasn't much of interest so we got 2lbs of stewing meat from King Limousin Farm and since we got there early, I was able to get 2 dozen farm fresh eggs. It was $6.50 for the beef and $6 for the eggs.

On Saturday, I got 4lbs of tomatoes ($0.50 a pound! I would of bought them all but I didn't want to be greedy), a bag of dried beans ($2), a bunch of swiss chard ($1) and a big bag of organic greens ($3). $8 is a great price for all that stuff! It would of been way more at the grocery store.

Let's see, it would of been at least $4 for the tomatoes (not local), $3 for the same beans, $2.49 for the swiss chard (not local or organic) and $6 for organic greens, again, not local. So nearly $16 at the grocery store for non local, mostly non-organic food.

So $22.50 spent at the farmers markets. Next post will be how good it was and/or what I've done with it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coconut Curry Squash Soup with Indian Fry Bread


Simple meals can be the yummiest and most comforting. To make this recipe, prepare the squash ahead of time by putting one in the oven while baking something else until it is fork tender (I usually cut out the bottom and scoop out the seeds so there is no hard cutting involved, but you can also cut it in half and roast with the halves down or microwave until soft. Make sure to roast the seeds as they are as good as pumpkin seeds!). I actually remembered to take a picture, which also includes a bowl of mincemeat, which was our desert and some black currant jelly, which was good on the bread. It was a very good, very filling meal!

Coconut Curry Squash Soup

1 medium squash, roasted or otherwise cooked
1 can coconut milk
2 teaspoons curry powder, store bought or homemade (I use a home blend but I don't have the recipe handy, will link it when I find)

Scoop out the cooked squash innards into a medium sized saucepan. Mash a bit and add water if it is a little dry. Add coconut milk and curry powder. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes to allow tastes to combine. Serve! You can process it in a blender if you want it smooth (I probably will next time).

Indian Fry Bread

1 cup flour
1tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. baking powder

Mix dry ingredients and add enough water to make a dough. Let sit 30 minutes then roll into small balls, flatten and fry on a very hot frying pan (preferably cast iron) on both sides until done.

Very quick and easy!

Green Tomato Mincemeat

Before I post this, I wanted to say that an angel came to our rescue! Dad, knowing we were financial trouble, helped us out of our mess. We have always been financially prudent but the lemon of a car we had depleted our savings and the new one was an adjustment, plus the huge insurance bill and some bad choices we have made. Sigh. I think we have learned our lesson and will be more careful with our money. I just need to get Mark on board with budgeting!

I am restarting my nest egg for a side of beef and am comitting to not shopping at grocery stores, unless I am using gift cards or it is an item that is cheaper anywhere else. I had a couple proud moments this week when I put back the 1kg tubs of candy which, while they were only $2.44, we certainly did not need them! I also put back some fruit cups that were made in CHINA! Ugh! I had already bought some so we'll keep them, but why buy fruit from China when we can pick our own?

Speaking of fruit, the green tomato mincemeat is divine! I canned some a couple of years ago but I decided this year I would just freeze it. I am still wary of canning after some lid incidents that made my canned goods go bad. I semi followed a recipe from southernfood.about.com, so I will post what I used as a base and add my additions.

Old fashioned green tomato mincemeat recipe.
Ingredients:
3 quarts chopped green tomatoes
1 1/2 quarts peeled, chopped tart apples
2 cups raisins
1 cup currants
1/2 cup diced candied citron, lemon or orange peel
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup Vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Preparation:
Combine all ingredients in a large heavy pan.
(Omit cloves if you plan to freeze mincemeat.)
Cook mixture slowly until it is tender and thick,
about 1 hour or more. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
To can, pour boiling mixture into hot, sterile jars,
leaving 1/2-inch headspace; seal promptly.
Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Store in a cool dry place.
To freeze, pack cold mincemeat into freezer jars or containers,
leaving about an inch headspace for expansion.
Seal and freeze promptly.
Makes about 5 to 6 quarts of green tomato mincemeat.
_________________________________________________________
So obviously I didn't can it. I also added tons of chopped apples,
probably at least twice as much as it called for,
and I didn't measure the tomatoes, but I used about 5lbs.
I mixed the ingredients in a huge bowl and had to divide
it between my two big pots to cook. I also didn't have
currants or allspice (but I added some mace; I was a
little heavy handed with the spices) and I used candied fruit.
I think it's very versatile, especially if you are freezing it.
I like that it doesn't freeze solid so you can use it right out of the freezer.
I plan to make more as I am sure we are going to be
using to use lots of it! Ps: I was having trouble formatting,
sorry this looks weird!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back To School

I have been feeling really down lately because we're poor. I had hoped to make a big market trip to several markets today but when I checked the bank account and saw how low it was, I wanted to find a corner and cry. It has been hard with the kids in school, the extra expense of that, the extra expense of the car, the $625+ insurance bill that's overdue and other things. I didn't want to complain in my main blog because all my family reads it but I don't think this one is as well read. This at a time when I want to invest in healthy food, an investment of health and well being.

It was easy to fall into the trap of buying cheap snacky foods for the kids lunches. They don't take enough time to eat since they want to play so I want things that they can eat quickly. I have been sending thermoses filled with soup or pasta since I know how nice it is to have something hot at school. But I have also been sending snacky food that I want to replace with homemade, wholesome goodies.

I haven't been feeling like doing much this week so I haven't been making much good to eat. I want to start though. I sure can't complain I don't have time anymore.

I had a great farmers market week! We went to the Thursday market in Tusket. There I got two huge bunches of green onions (I am going to make salted onions with these), two bags of delicious organic tomatoes, some cucumbers, lettuce, a bag of carrots (little ones) and some other things we must have eaten and I spent less than $10! All organic, something I couldn't do at that price in a grocery store.

This morning, I got 11lbs of turnip, real turnip not rutabagas like they sell in the store, for $3! One of them was 5lbs! (I got three, $1 each) I also got a few heads of garlic, 2lbs of ground beef, swiss chard and a big bag of salad greens, all organic! This came to about $10 as well. Then we went to Wallace Brothers where we picked a huge basket of apples, which was about 35 or so lbs for only $7! They were soo good, so fresh and crisp, yumm! We ate a ton in the car, I"m surprised we don't all have belly aches, lol! Then we went to the Belliveaus Farmers Market but it was so cold there were hardly any vendors there. I did get to try some chicken fricot. I'll have to try to make it some day. At the Comeau's Farm Market, I got two big english cukes, a big bunch of bananas, a bag of parsnips, a half peck of pears ($1!), 3 packs of natural bacon, a package of Fox Hill Cheese and slushies for the three kids for about $18.

So we have a lot of food around the house, all local and natural. I love eating like this. I must admit it is not really easy for me. I want to eat bad but I know for the sake of our budget and health, I need to eat good food. I want my kids to grow up liking it and appreciating it. They are so picky that it's hard. I must find a way.

My struggles for this week will be:

- cutting down the junk in the kids lunches and replacing it with more nourishing food.
-cooking more from scratch.
-preserving some foods, probably with dehydrating and some fridge pickling
-using what we have on hand and eating down the freezer so we have room
-doing some baking/cooking for the freezer to have some stuff on hand when I don't feel like baking or cooking
-using food up before it goes bad (this is really hard; I had to throw out a lot of good food gone bad because it got shoved to the back of the fridge)

It will be a challenge but something that I need to work on.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Random Ramblings

I think I am finally wearing Mark down about getting a side or quarter beef. I showed him a visual and compared the price to other areas and it is a steal of a deal.

I have also been learning more about untraditional root cellaring. I have always had a vision of building a cold room in our basement. How I plan it is to build it out of cardboard and attach it to one of the basement windows, which would be open a little to let the cold air in during the winter. I would have a heavy flap over what would be the entrance so I could go in to get stuff out. I never tried because I wondered if I could actually get it to work. I will attempt it if I can find enough cardboard. I know real root cellars or cold rooms get their coolness from being inside the earth. Our basement gets pretty warm because the apartment heating/hot water pipes run through it (not just ours but our neighbors too since we're all on the same ones). I have read accounts of where some people would just dig a deep hole in the ground and cover it with straw and just reach in over winter to take things out if they couldn't build a proper cellar/cool room.

I am going to try the carrots in sawdust again, as well as turnip. From what I read, wrapping apples, potatoes and winter squash in newspaper is supposed to help their longevity (potatoes are cheap enough over winter I won't worry about long term storage unless I get a 50lbs bag). I worry about the newsprint though. I have metal racks I am going to put them on. When I tried wooden before, they rotted pretty quickly (but that too may of been because it was too warm down there). Trial and error. I need to learn so we can eat better and more locally. It is something I really feel I need to do!

I keep talking to Mark about how I want to get the junk out of our home but it's so hard. It really is an addiction. We are all losing because we are all gaining more weight, even my skin and bones son is getting quite pudgy. Convenience food is easy but it adds up in cost, not just the price on the shelf. I could easily nourish my family for less as long as I put the time into it. When school starts, I will have more time. I hate that I found it so hard when the kids were around but I just have no focus. When they're around, I find it hard to get things done. Don't know why. Plus it's easier to just throw something quick on because we get busy and forget about making meals.

This is going to change! I have been trying but it really is hard for me.

Hurricane Earl passed through over the weekend. It didn't hit us hard. The only thing I didn't like about it was that they didn't have the farmer's market this weekend. I was planning on getting some things too. Hopefully this coming week! We did go to the Tusket market on Thursday. We didn't buy anything except soap. It was very busy and I am always shy about asking how much things are since most don't price things. I need to get over that.

Last night I got a few packs of fresh haddock and can't wait to enjoy them! We'll have one today and the rest I wrapped in foil for the freezer.

Well, enough ramblings for now. I will update soon about our Eat Atlantic Challenge day :)