Raw milk ice cream

Summer is winding down, finally! And in typical mountain weather fashion we’ve gone from awful heat to thunderstorms and cool nights. There’s a sense of relief around here over the last couple days…we made it. I could absolutely be calling this start of the fall cool down too soon and sadly wildfires will continue to rage across the west for a long time.
Anyhow, despite the start of cooler nights and even some rain in this dry and dusty part of the country, we’ve managed to squeeze in a fun summer activity. I scream, you scream…you know the rest. This is when the kids shriek and dance around.
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Blackberry harvesting with the kids

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…just kidding. But blackberry harvest ranks pretty high up there. I needed to pluck those yummy morsels from the thorny canes before they passed their prime and turned to chicken food.
Gardening has been one of the easiest outdoor tasks to get the kids immersed in. They either participate in the task at hand whether it be sowing, weeding, or harvesting, or they dig in the dirt and occupy themselves while I get work done. It’s a win-win because the kids are busy and you can get your work done too. What is it about flinging some earth around that fills their little hearts with such joy and contentment?

Summer is flying by, there’s only a week left in August, we’re a couple weeks into the blackberry harvest and the kids are insatiable. I attempted to incentivize them to stay focused on picking more and eating less by offering a special reward to whomever filled their bowl first. I can’t say I was surprised when 20 minutes later their bowl was empty. They truly were diligently harvesting (I checked often). They just couldn’t resist the temptation of the perfectly sweet blackberries. I don’t blame them a bit! Clint was his usual awesome self and helped pick plenty for his little sister. Continue reading “Blackberry harvesting with the kids”

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

On my quest to provide wholesome food for my family, while trying to balance busy schedules, I realized that my freezer lacked already cooked, ready to heat and eat, good for you food. I wanted to fill that void with a chicken tender- an actual piece of quality chicken, breaded and cooked, waiting for my panicked hand to grab it with relief that I do, in fact, have something nutritious to feed my family.
I perused the freezer aisles of a few grocery stores and left empty handed. I wanted organic chicken in it’s original state, not mechanically separated and reconstituted, not plumped up with liquids or containing unnatural ingredients. Why was this so hard to find? I gave up on the prospect of finding a ready made option and got cookin’. I should add there was one brand I found that fit my criteria (Van’s, I believe), but was so costly it was not a realistic option.
I like to make a double batch of these breaded chicken tenders to cover dinner the night they’re cooked fresh (with gravy) and plenty to freeze for a few future meals.
You’ll need chicken breasts, flour, seasonings, bread crumbs, 1 egg, milk, and coconut oil.

homemade-chicken-tenders
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Homemade Peas and Potatoes Baby Food

Our plan for introducing solids to our little one was simply to mash up some of whatever everyone else was eating and offer it. We eat healthy, unprocessed foods and thought this approach would be ideal. We did encounter a few downsides with this method: sometimes we’re in a time crunch and whatever we quickly whip up isn’t appropriate for him or we’re away from home and don’t have something appropriate to offer. Little one has also been keeping us on our toes with randomly changing his preferences so what was planned for a meal sometimes doesn’t get eaten and we need a backup to offer. All of this led me to wanting a larger stash of homemade baby food prepared for these “in a pinch” situations.

baby-food-recipe

One of the things I’ve been doing which has been helpful is baking one or 2 yams, mashing, cooling and storing in the freezer or fridge for easy meals. This has been incredibly easy but he recently stopped eating one of his staple veggie meals and I’m wanting more variety for him (especially of the non-sweet veggie type). Continue reading “Homemade Peas and Potatoes Baby Food”

Local Farmers’ Market

With my Saturday mornings no longer being occupied by my job, we’ve been able to enjoy some real treats from the local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market season runs from June through September in a beautiful park about 25 minutes from home. Living in a rural area, the size of the market is small, but I’m a believer in quality over quantity. Not only is it nice to peruse around with the family and enjoy the park, there is always a live band in the small pavilion for entertainment.

Here is a shot of the goodies we brought home this week:

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Storing Dried Beans with FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

We go through a fair amount of beans and buckwheat in this house. To save a bit of money to allow us to buy higher quality foods we try to buy in bulk. We’ve put our FoodSaver vacuum sealer into action to help store the larger amounts of these dry goods. I spent some time today storing this 50-lb bag of Navy Beans. Finally getting to the bottom of the bag in this picture!

We choose to vacuum seal foods when it’s appropriate to allow for longer storage in the cool, damp basement. We just don’t have room in the pantry to keep everything. Continue reading “Storing Dried Beans with FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer”

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

I recently attended a fermentation workshop after husband started eating raw sauerkraut for it’s numerous health benefits. Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut has been difficult for us to find locally so we’ve resorted to ordering and having it delivered. We both would much prefer to have control over the ingredients in our food so the idea of being able to whip up a batch of the hard to find fermented sauerkraut was very appealing. The short workshop opened my eyes to fermentation as a method of food preservation that requires no heat and no vinegar…score!
The health benefits of fermented, unpasteurized foods are many including aided digestion by way of digestive enzymes, improved nutrient absorption and increased beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Down to business- I started my first batch of raw sauerkraut yesterday with no spices or anything that was not essential to the process. Brace yourself for this long list of ingredients: 2 medium sized heads of organic cabbage and celtic sea salt.

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Sugar-Free Banana Bread

Earlier this week I found myself with a couple of brown bananas. That always means it’s time to bake and the recipe of choice was my sugar-free banana bread. My recipe calls for no added sugar…all of the sweetness comes from juice or fruit. This time I did add some chocolate chips but skip those if you want to keep it healthier. I use a combination of flours to make it dense and full of wheat. Here it is:

sugar-free-banana-bread

First things first: Mix the dry ingredients.
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup Wheat Bran
1/2 cup unbleached white flour. ( you can sub more whole wheat flour if you’d like)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
sprinkle of salt Continue reading “Sugar-Free Banana Bread”

Is our food Toxic? Preservatives, additives, and the like.

Preservatives, artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners…when did our food become chock full of stuff OTHER than nutrients to nourish and feed our bodies?
For a long time I’ve followed the old “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it” rule pertaining to the ingredient list. I also eliminate foods if they have an ingredient 12 syllables long. No way can that be natural. If the ingredient list takes up 1/3 of the side panel, it has too much crap in it and most likely doesn’t resemble real food.
The easiest way to avoid the crud in our markets is to shop the perimeter where the fresh stuff typically is- easier said than done. Sometimes I want crackers and dehydrated pasta with pasta sauce. And occasionally, I WANT DONUTS *gasp*.

In the previous post Is our food toxic? The importance of eating organic, I outlined one way to improve the quality of what goes in our bodies while reducing our exposure to harmful chemicals.
Now, I’m going to briefly outline some of the other junk in our food that I think should be avoided.
Don’t expect a full list of every bad ingredient in our food supply.

Here are a few basics:
Preservatives: used obviously to preserve food, making it edible for a longer period of time. It’s a luxury to have the time and resources (or a nuisance depending who you might ask) to pick fresh produce everyday or bake fresh bread to make your meals.
Some common preservatives are:
Sodium Nitrate, which when ingested by humans, can convert to nitrous acid. In animals, nitrous acid increases the rate of cancer.
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Is our food Toxic? The importance of eating organic

At some point in the past few years I’ve become very aware of what we eat and what we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Maybe it’s the talk about pollution, or the constant recalls of commercially produced foods and prescriptions, or the possible long term health effects of eating antibiotic laced and hormone injected meat…the list goes on.
Whatever the reason, I’m aware and trying to reduce my exposure. I’ll tell you a huge part of my concern stems from the fact that I work in an industry where chemical exposure is the norm every day with most people making little effort to minimize that exposure.

So, where to start? How about FOOD! There are so many different aspects of food toxicity. I will break it down including the points I find most important for me in a few different posts so check back for the rest.

I remember years ago when eating organic was the new fad. I was still very young and convinced it was a new scheme to lure people into spending more money for a product, be it peppers, cheese, you name it, that didn’t taste a whole lot different than the “regular” version. So what gives?
It’s not just about taste. You’re paying for the conditions in which the food is produced.
There are numerous agencies; you probably recognize the USDA Certified Organic logo on many products, which inspect every company that wishes to label their products as organic.

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Homemade Frozen Yogurt!

Santa brought us a frozen yogurt /ice cream machine and boy have I had a ball experimenting with it. After a few gelato (YUM!) recipes, which I will be sharing soon, I decided it was time to find a less sugary alternative. The answer? Homemade Frozen Yogurt! The idea of a frozen dessert machine was enormously appealing because who really wants to spend 5 bucks for a measly amount of overpriced mass produced ice cream? Not me. And I don’t like the alternative which is cheap, poor quality, mass produced ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Homemade-frozen-yogurt-recipe

The ingredients are simple as can be:
2 Cups Natural Plain Yogurt….no sweeteners, no added flavors, no junk- just milk, cream, pectin and cultures.
1/2 Cup Whole Milk Continue reading “Homemade Frozen Yogurt!”

Clay Bread Baker

These clay bread bakers were received as a gift for our wedding and have been sitting in the cabinet patiently waiting for some attention. Today,  I had a few hours to spare and was looking for something to pair with my homemade baked potato soup. Homemade bread fit the bill. Rather than use a traditional bread pan as I usually do I was feeling the need to experiment a bit.

Easy enough. While the yeast was doing it’s thing in the bread dough I started prepping the bread baker. This particular one is a Romertopf bread baker. First step is simply soak it in water for 15 minutes. Clay bread bakers mimic the conditions in a brick oven which is the ideal way to bake bread. This dish is made of terra cotta which naturally absorbs moisture and gives bread a crisp crust and moist interior. Continue reading “Clay Bread Baker”

Freezing Cookie Dough

In order to prepare for Christmas festivities this year, I started preparing batches of cookie dough to freeze. When I had a quiet evening I would whip up a batch or 2 and freeze it. When Christmas eve rolled around, my task was simply to toss them in the oven. I was so pleased with the ease of this method that I plan to continue to freeze dough to minimize food waste. With only a few mouths to feed it’s impossible to eat an entire batch of baked cookies  before they go stale. Ok, not  impossible but unhealthy to say the least. Honestly, this is a great way to help eat those sweets in moderation. I froze a total of 4 varieties but have lost some pictures.
Here are some chocolate filled Russian Tea Cakes. The key to successfully keeping individual cookies is to freeze them completely before allowing them to touch.

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