Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Monday...on MONDAY!

Actaully posting on Monday...I am something else.

A facebook message from a sweet friend reminded me that I needed to post my menu for the week. Hopefully a few more weeks of this and I can loop back around and finally reap the benefit of this whole menu-planning thing.

But first, I have to mention that this is my first week to cook with the meat I ordered from Fran's Fryers. His animals are well-cared for and are minimally processed with no frightening additives. His prices are really reasonable considering the size of his operation (relatively small) and the quality of the products.

I'm cooking one of the whole chickens I ordered today to use for tonight and tomorrow night's dinner. I'll make stock from the "remains" and use it for Wednesday night's dinner.

Ok, menu for the week...

M--Coucous Chicken Salad with Citrus Dressing (from the book Whole Grains for Busy People--which I love!)
T--Chicken Soft Tacos
W-Pumpkin Black Bean Bake
T-Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
F-Kris is working late--you think I'm cooking? Not happening.

The produce that I have been encountering as of late is not spectacular. I'm looking forward to spring! My big plan is to have our raised boxes built by then and we will grow us some goodness right in our own backyard. Lord willing. Let's hope He is.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Menu Monday...on Wednesday

What's on the menu this week?

Surviving. It's been quite a week. But since ya still gotta eat, here is the plan...

Monday--White Chicken Chili
Tuesday--Jason's Deli
Wednesday--pasta with olive oil and parmesan, chicken, salad, and whatever frozen veggies I can find in the freezer
Thursday--taco salad
Friday--another dinner out, please Dear Lord.

Eating out is my primary love language you know. I can't help it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Menu Monday...on Tuesday

Just for my own personal records, I'm going to start writing out my menus here. If you see any meals that you would like the recipe for, just email or leave a comment and I'll link to them.

Monday--crock pot green beans, new potatoes, and ham; cheddar biscuits
Tuesday--fish tacos (Ellie Kreiger recipe)
Wednesday--white chicken chili
Thursday--parmesan chicken (Real Simple recipe)
Friday--take out!

Notes to self: The boys hated the potatoes but liked the green beans that had no potato on them. Those were hard to come by after spending 8 hours together in a crock pot (the beans, not the boys.) Next time, make them separately as the boys seem to have food-mixing issues.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baking Bread

I wish I could say that my only motivation for baking our bread is the pure joy that slaving away in the kitchen on behalf of my family brings me. That's part of it of course. And the smell--the smell is nice, too. And it's cheaper. Again, bonus.

But if I get right down to it, the reason I love to make our bread is because I feel like I'm stickin' (that's right--stickin'--a "g" would be inappropriate here) it to the industrial bread people and their industrial chemicals and their industrial little nutrition fact box that would lead me to believe that what I could purchase from them is actually bread. As Michael Pollan puts it, if not for the indulgence of the FDA, what is sold in those long plastic bags and twist-tied closed could not be truthfully labled so.

Not that the higher-ups at Mrs. Bairds or Orowheat are sitting at a conference table right now trying to figure out how to minimize the "Jamie Effect," but I like being able to say, even if just on this blog for all 5 of you precious people to read, I will pass, Bread Big Wigs, on your ingredients list longer than my arm, and make it myself. The fact that it is healthy, more cost-effective, and tastier is the icing on my industrial bread rebellion cake.

And here is the recipe I use. I cannot remember where I found the original one, but I have modified this one quite a bit so hopefully no one's intellectual rights are being too badly violated.

2 pkts. dry active yeast
2 c. warm water
1/2 c. honey (I've used agave nectar too and it works, but I like it with honey better)
a little salt (maybe 1/2 t.)
1/4 c. olive oil
4 c. all purpose unbleached flour
2 c. whoel wheat flour
4 t. vital wheat gluten

In a large bowl, dissolve the honey in the water and then sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.

Next, add the salt and oil and stir to combine.

Then, work in all the flour and the vital wheat gluten. Knead it for a few minutes until it is smooth.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn the dough once to make sure it is all coated in the oil. Put a towel over the bowl. If you are as fortunate as I am to still be enjoying temperatures in the 90's and 100% humidity, you can just place your bowl in the garage to rise. I hear some people turn their oven on low and place to bowl on the top of the stove. So do what you gotta do, just put it somewhere warm to rise for about an hour.

After that, punch the dough down and knead it for a few more minutes, then divide it into 2 loaves and place in well-oiled loaf pans. Preheat your oven to 350 and let the dough rise for 30 more minutes. Bake it for 25 minutes.

Of course, there are some weeks when I'm not in the mood to single-handedly bring down the corporate bread world. When that occurs, I buy Ezekiel 4:9 bread--a little pricey, but so delicious and full of healthy sprouted grains. Even rebels need a break now and then.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grilled Eggplant Paninis

Wouldn't it be great if I took pictures of the food. Not that the picture itself would be that great, but it would at least make the post seem a little more interesting?

Nevertheless, we made grilled eggplant paninis last night and they were delish! I think any grilled veggie with cheese on it is a winner though.

First, Kris cut the eggplant into rounds and then drizzled them with olive oil and S&P. Then he grilled them for about 3-5 min. per side.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen... (don't you love the drama the word "meanwhile" adds)

I was slicing up a $2 organic heirloom tomato (pricey but locally grown and worth the extra money!) I learned in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, that the term "heirloom" signifies that it is a true breed--no genetic modifications, no weird hybrid or cross-pollenated stuff going on. Just a pure, simple, un-jacked with food. Novel, I know.

So we piled up freshly-made mozzerella, tomato slices, some organic marinara sauce, and some chopped kalamata olives on to Ezekiel Bread and then added the eggplant and returned in to the grill. Kris wrapped a brick in foil and placed it on top of the sandwiches once they were on the grill--poor man's panini press!

They were so good! You must try it. I insist.

Friday, September 11, 2009

White Chicken Chili

I made a version of this tonight and it turned out pretty good. I modified it enough that I feel I don't need to link to anybody. And there's nothing new under the sun anyway, right?

This had the feel of a creamy "chicken and dumplings" type dish--it was yummy and super easy. I served it over bulgur wheat cooked with chicken stock. I love bulgur wheat!

No pictures...we can't all be the Pioneer Woman. And that's ok.

White Chicken Chili

1 small onion, diced
2-3 T. oil (I used coconut)
2-3 T. flour
2 c. chicken stock
2 cans great northern beans
1 c. cooked, shredded or diced chicken

Sautee the onion in the oil until translucent.
Add the flour and cook for a few minutes.
Add the stock and the beans.
Reduce heat to low and stir off and on for about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and stir. (my chicken was cold so I simmered long enough to heat it up)

Simple, cheap, and easy. I could make a joke here, but I'll pass.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fowl Play

Carcasses are just gross. My friend Jodie is a vegetarian and pictures like this make it easy to understand her choice.

But for my first experience with chicken that did not involve a 5 lb. bag labeled "Tyson," I think it went pretty well.

Just look at what a natural I am.

Is that like the scariest picture ever or what? Is my posture always that bad? But I wanted photographic evidence that it was my hands in that greasy mess. As Asher would say, "I did it by self!"

I went the crockpot way. I chopped up some onion, salt and peppered the chicken, and threw it in on high for an hour and then on low for about 6 more hours. Fall of the bone tender it was.

Then I pulled all the meat off and put the skin and bones and liquid and various other parts in a separate container. The next day, I made stock with it!

It's not really that dark--I think the flash makes it appear that way. Again, all I had was onion so I chopped that and added some garlic and maybe 4 more cups of water. I boiled it then simmered for around 4 hours. Then I strained it and put it in glass jars. I think I got about 12 cups out of it.

I made New Poppy Seed Chicken, chicken salad, and bbq chicken sandwiches.

Cooking a whole chicken: just one more thing to add to the "if I can do it, I promise, anyone can" list.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Organic Food Only Takes You So Far

Proverbs 3:7-8
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Just wanted to highlight a helpful blog that I ran across. Lots of great info here! I was looking for instructions on how to cook a whole chicken and found lots of other helpful articles as well.

Yep--you read that sentence above correctly. I am delving into the world of whole chickens today. I have been a diehard frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts only girl for quite a while. And if you've read any of my "about me" lists, you know that chicken grosses me out.

But I'm going for it. I bought a whole grass-fed organic chicken yesterday and I'm about to throw it in the crockpot. This may seem like no big deal--most of you probably do this often. But I cannot stress enough how out of my comfort zone this takes me. I don't normally beg for comments, but I'm making an exception.

If this is your normal way of interacting with poultry, please let me know your recommendations, tips, and warnings. I have already been told about the little bag inside the chicken (thanks, Kathy!) Who knew? But what else? I'm not kidding, guys. Help a girl out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Being Healthy

If you have been around me at all the past few months, then you have probably had a conversation with me about organic food, raw milk, or alternative sweeteners. I confess, this new way of thinking has taken me by storm and I've changed quite a bit. I would say the change is for the better, but, as always, danger lurks.

I have to be careful for many reasons. Cutting out refined carbs did nothing to further kill the sin that remains within me, I am sad to report.

First of all, I have to remember that I do what I can. I am not a bad mother if my kids eat non-grass fed beef or a conventionally grown apple. I am not sacrificing their health and well-being if a Teddy Graham passes throught their digestive system. It's easy to feel defeated and overwhelmed, especially with the staggering amount of information available. I do the best I can. I try new things and make small changes. I can't expect to have arrived yet. I just want to be headed in the right direction.

Secondly, I have to remember that the body is important, but the soul is infinitely more important. No matter how clogged or clear your arteries are, they aren't coming with you when you die. So if I nurture my kids bodies, but neglect their spirits, I've essentially accomplished nothing. I have to keep in mind that the point of having a healthy body is to be fit for the work that a healthy spirit longs to do.

Thirdly, I can't compare myself to others. If I compare myself to the crunchy, granola, earth mother who makes, grows, or churns everything her family eats whilst wearing a handsewn frock and Toms, then I'll become defeated. If I compare myself to a friend who is at a similar place that I am in and striving for the same goals that I am, I'll become competitive. If I compare myself to the mom who serves Totinos pizza rolls and Dr. Pepper in a sippy cup for dinner on a t.v. tray, I'll think more highly of myself than I ought.

And all of that is pride, which is, of course, sin.

So as I commit to being a faithful overseer of my family's diet, I have to strive for balance. I want to be healthy and enjoy God's good design in food. I want to take pleasure in all He has given. I want to be loving and kind. I want patience extended to me as I figure it all out and I want to the same for others.

Being a mom is hard enough. Let's encourage each other as we strive to give our families the best that we can by God's grace.

Friday, August 28, 2009

If You Add Omega-3 to Oreos...

then they're health food, right?

One of the topics discussed in In Defense of Food is the concept of "nutritionism." Pollan defines it as the mindset from which those of us in Western cultures approach our food--that is, we rate food based on it's nutritional components to determine whether it falls into one of two categories: "good" or "bad." Food is viewed merely as a conglomeration of calories, fat, protein, carbs, vitamins, etc. These various components can be added, deleted, or modified in any food to move it out of one category and into the other.

If something is low in the "bad" substances (usually fat in various forms and calories) then the food is considered good for you--a good choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, if a food is high in the "good" substances (vitamins, fatty acids, calcium)regardless of how those "good" things got in that food, then the food is deemed "good" as well.

But there is a problem with this way of thinking (bear with me as a paraphrase Pollan's assertions.) A large apple has over 100 calories and 23 grams of sugar. A few reduced fat Oreos have fewer calories and less sugar than an apple. So in our "nutritionism," we think "calories. sugar. bad." and choose the Oreos. I don't think they've had omega-3's added to them yet, but I bet it won't be long.

Forget that Oreos have an ingredients list full or unfamiliar and unpronounceable words. Forget the chemical warfare used to manufacture them. Forget that they don't even taste that good and aren't at all satisfying. Just look at the nutrition label--scan down to the line item for calories and then fat. If those are both low, dig in and pat yourself on the back for your healthy choice!

But contrary to this philosophy, substabces like fat and sugar aren't bad (when consumed in moderation.) At least not the naturally occurring kind placed there by the Creator for our sustenance and pleasure. The kind injected in "foods" by food manufacturers is another story altogether.

A higher calorie, sweeter snack that has no ingredients list or nutrition label beats a 100 calorie snack pack of anything every time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Veggie Pad Thai

I made this recipe tonight from one of my new favorite blogs, Beauty That Moves.

This recipe calls for zucchini and red pepper, but I think one of the most helpful things I've learned is that it is okay to just use what you have. I used to be really hung up on only using exactly what the recipe called for, but now I just use whatever was in my share for the week and it (usually) works out just fine.

All that to say, I used yellow squash instead of the zucchini. And I couldn't find brown rice vinegar so I just used regular rice vinegar.

To please The Carnivore, I cooked one chicken breast and he diced it up and added it to his dish. The boys ate it fairly well. I think the sticky texture from the peanut sauce was a little weird for them. I might thin it out even more next time I make it.

This one is definitely being added to the rotation!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Organic Produce Buying Guide

Right click and then print! It is sized to be able to carry it around easily in your wallet, but feel free to enlarge or modify it to best suit your needs.

When the lady at the co-op hands you radishes...

make a radish tart!

Sometimes it is frustrating to get produce that I have no idea how to prepare. But I've found it really is the best way to broaden my horizons because I would never have bought radishes before and now I have several recipes that call for radishes and I probably will buy some next time I see them out.

Here is the recipe I got from WikiBooks.

The radish tart was really good and I'm pretty sure any vegetable would be good in this. Actually, I'm pretty sure a dirty sock would be good in this. Heavy cream, cheese,'s basically fool-proof. I'm a fool--I would know.

The best part--everyone ate it! My kids did not miss the memo that informed them that all kids are supposed to hate veggies and have a very short list of acceptable ones so I am always pleased when they will venture out past peas, carrots, and corn. Next time, I think I will diced the radishes more finely to make sure they get more in them though.

I think squash, tomatoes, eggplant--really anything--would work great.
We also had green beans and new potatoes and salad with it. Even The Carnivore approved. High praise indeed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two Blogs?

I may be overestimating my blogging capabilities here, but I really wanted a separate space devoted to my newfound perspective on food, cooking, and eating.

This will be the place for me to record my thoughts as I learn more about this way of living as well as a central location to link to other helpful sites and blogs.

How's this for an introductory post? Wow. Betcha can't wait to see what I come up with next.