Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

This week is going to be kinda crazy again. Another week of work travel, but this time for me. I'll be leaving early Tuesday morning for Montreal, Quebec. I'll get home late Thursday night. I'm kind of looking forward to it and kind of not. At least its a quick trip. Today we're having my dad's family over for a mid-afternoon meal, visiting, and picture taking. We've been clearing out the bushes, small trees, and brush near the barn lately. I thought the weathered barn would be a cute back drop for pictures. So I've set up a nice little set up with straw bales, pumpkins, and indian corn in front of the barn so we can get some cute fall pictures of the great grand-kids on the Moore side. I hope the kids are all in good spirits and we get some cute shots! Tomorrow I'll be packing and prepping for my trip. Like I said, I'll be gone Tuesday through Thursday. Friday is my flex day, Carson's Kindermusik class, milk and CSA pick-up, and we'll be going over to my SIL's house in the afternoon for the Grand Blanc homecoming parade and dinner. Saturday's plans are sort of up in the air. We have to take Denver back to the vet for a check-up, but other than that, we're not really sure. We may go to my nephew's football game in the morning, we may go to a couple farm tours in our area, we may go to the orchard, or we may just stay home and work and play outside. More than likely, that's what we'll do since we have been and will continue to be so busy.

So here's the plan for meals this week. Kevin and Carson will eat up the leftovers while I'm gone.

Sunday ~ Moore family over
B: sourdough pancakes
L & D: pot roast with yukon gold potatoes and carrots; butternut squash; chocolate sourdough cake with coconut cream frosting

Monday ~
B: yogurt with apple cinnamon grain-free granola
D: split pea soup in the crockpot

Tuesday - Thursday ~ Montreal
(start milk culture for soft cheese and feed sourdough starter on Thursday night)

Friday ~ flex day; Kindermusik; pick up milk and CSA order; Grand Blanc homecoming parade
(feed starter; hang soft cheese to drain; roast squash to freeze; soak squash seeds; make water and dairy kefir; make cinnamon roll dough; dry apples; make and can applesauce?)
B: yogurt with apple cinnamon grain-free granola
D: at SIL's house

Saturday ~ Denver to vet; rest is TBD... nephew's football game? farm tours? orchard? stay home and work outside?
(dry squash seeds; make creamy salad dressing; make and can applesauce)
B: sourdough cinnamon rolls
L: peas and cheese tortellini
D: sloppy lentils over spaghetti squash; roasted veggies; lettuce salad with veggies and creamy salad dressing; fresh apples

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Growing Connections, Part 2

It has been a busy week and I haven't had the time to update on the next part of my experience at Growing Connections this past Sunday. But here it is and please bear with me as I work on parts three and four.

After Jordan Rubin's opening keynote session, the conference split into three paths. The first path was titled Weston A. Price 101 and began with a session on the basics of nutrition. The second path was titled Weston A. Price 201 and began with a session on salt. The third track was titled Children's Health and began with a session on vegetarianism. I sat in on the salt discussion. I've read some of the basics about the need for salt in the diet, but haven't delved into it as much as I have other topics. So I figured I could learn some good stuff at that session... which I did. I'll cover the basics and the new stuff (to me) here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Growing Connections - Part 1

On Sunday, September 19th, I attended the Healthy Traditions Network's annual Growing Connections conference in Birmingham. Healthy Traditions Network is the local Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) chapter for the metro Detroit area. It was a great experience for me - getting to meet lots of awesome people with amazing stories, hearing so much great information, and, of course, the fabulous and huge REAL food farmers' market!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

This week won't be as busy as the last two have been, but we still have lots of fun things happening. Today I'll be going down to Birmingham for the WAPF Growing Connections annual conference. I'm really looking forward to it... I'm not sure which I'm more excited about... the conference itself or the huge organic, real food farmers market!  Kevin is going biking one night this week, but I'm not sure which one yet. Thursday I'm going up to Foxy's for their grand opening open house... that's where I've been taking Zumba lately. Friday I'll be off first thing in the morning to take Denver to the vet to get his stitches removed, then I'll be going in to work afterwards. And Saturday we'll be going to the Grand Rapids area. Our plans for the day are a little up in the air still.  We'll definitely be going to ArtPrize, and will possibly be doing a farm tour at Grassfields Cheese, and/or a farm visit to my brother-in-law's uncle's farm... Voogt Farms... where we get our beef. Its going to be a fun day! I sure hope the weather is perfect!!

The cooler weather lately has made us hungry for lots of different soups, so I'm planning to make a couple this week. I used to hate soup, but I have learned to love it. Its so easy, flavorful, and good for you. I often make a big batch on Sundays in the crockpot to take for my lunches at work, but they've been a lot of broth based veggie and chicken soups. So I'm getting bored with them and I've put some favorites on the menu this week.

Here's the plan...

Sunday - Growing Connections conference
B: scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese
L: leftovers for Kevin and Carson
D: rotisserie chicken in the crockpot; squash; beans; melon

Monday -
B: yogurt and granola
D: leftover squash-veggie-beef-sausage soup

Tuesday -
B: yogurt smoothies
D: chili in the crockpot

Wednesday -
B: sourdough english muffins with butter and honey
D: crockpot philly cheesesteak soup

Thursday - Foxy's open house
B: yogurt with granola
D: chicken divan; squash; steamed veggies

Friday - Denver to vet
B: hard boiled eggs; fruit
D: crockpot broccoli three cheese soup

Saturday - Grand Rapids ArtPrize and farm tours
B: sourdough pancakes
L: on the road
D: on the road

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

Ok, I've had this post saved in my drafts for much too long now.  So even though I'm still updating it and adding pictures along the way, I figured I'd just go ahead and post it.  Be sure to check back for updates as I post them every now and then.

I've been making my own homemade yogurt for a few months now.  I've tried quite a few different ways of making yogurt and mostly follow the method described on Kitchen Stewardship.  I've posted about my flop using the crockpot.  I'm not going to go into detailed posts about other ways I've tried, rather I'll tell you the way that works best for me and maybe mention a few things I've tried along the way.  I'm sure I'll also try some different things along the way, so I'll come back to this post and update if/when I do.

Making homemade yogurt may seem daunting, but it is actually so very easy to do.  Everyone should try it.  It may sound like it takes a long time to make it, but very little of that time is active time and you don't have to be home for most of it. You can expect about 15 minutes of active time and you'll need to plan a time when you're home for about an hour and a half to two hours.  We eat a lot of yogurt in our house.  We all love it.  Carson and I love it plain or with a slight honey or vanilla flavor.  Kevin likes to stir homemade jam into his.  And we all love it with fresh fruit and granola.  And I love knowing that its so good for us, feeding our guts with healthy probiotics!

Canned Pasta Sauce

Back in mid-August, I canned a couple batches of pasta sauce. I used my SIL's recipe for sauce, with a couple modifications. I didn't make it quite as sweet as she does, with a little less brown sugar and no cloves. I also was sure to add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar, as you should with any tomato based canned item, to ensure the proper acidity. I am very excited to have this on hand for pasta dishes - it was so delicious pre-processing!

Vanilla Rum Plums

Week #4 of Nourished Kitchen's Preserving Summer's Bounty Challenge focused on preserving in alcohol. Alcohol is naturally antimicrobial and is well-suited to preserving fruits. I've heard of this being done from many blogs and people that I know (usually cherries in brandy with the folks I know that do it). I've wanted to give it a try for a couple of years now, but just never had. So, I decided to give it a try at the end of August, during week #4 of the challenge. I just used the recipe sent in our Week #4 email from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen. I picked up some dark rum and then some plums at our local farmers' market. I did two different pints, one with dark purple Stanley plums and one with a lighter purple-pink sweet plum (I can't remember the variety now). I made them both the same way and I'm excited to pop them open this winter to taste them... and see which one we like best.

Sourdough - Bucket Method

Last week I tried out some new things we've been learning in the GNOWFGLINS Sourdough E-Course. This was a lesson a few weeks back and I've been anxious to try it. This is based off of the methodology presented in Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day (ABin5). I've made several different recipes and types of bread from ABin5 and I love the method. Its so easy. Just mix up the dough one day, stick it in a food-grade bucket or bowl with lid, and pop it in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake some bread. This works great for my busy, working and commuting mom life and I have missed the ease of this method for the last 9 or 10 months. I've wondered about modifying the recipes to make them healthier, but never devoted the time to thinking about it, let alone trying it out.

I was so excited when I read about the lesson a few weeks ago! Wardeh's friend Christina had done the trial and error and had modified the recipe to make sourdough bread with whole grain flours! Yeah! So of course, I had to try it. I mixed up a bucket of dough last week and had intentions of trying a few different ways of baking it... english muffins, cinnamon rolls, and a loaf of bread. I decided part way through the week that I'd actually just make one big batch of rustic english muffins since I didn't have the time for the other two on other nights like I'd hoped. So that's what I did and now I have a good supply of delicious sourdough english muffins in the freezer and for eating fresh. We love them!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

We have another busy, but really fun week ahead of us. Today we're just going to the farmers' market and taking it easy. We were planning to go fall raspberry picking, but we decided it was too much with everything else going on. Kevin leaves Monday for Germany. Tuesday afternoon I'll be going to my local chapter meeting for WAPF. Wednesday I'll be in Detroit for meetings during the day. Thursday is the big fall farmers' market on the lawn of the Capitol. Friday is my flex day, our first day of Kindermusik for this semester, CSA and milk pickup, and Kevin comes home. Saturday I'll be picking up 12 chickens that I ordered from a local farm. Then we'll be meeting some friends at the orchard for some fun in the afternoon. And then we'll be going over to my grandpa's house for family night. We'll be doing family day/night with my mom's family once a month now - its going to be so fun! I'm very glad to have such a close extended family!

I ordered some things so that I can try out making a couple different kinds of cheese soon. They should arrive this week, so maybe I'll be able to make some soft cheese (would be chevre/goat cheese if I was making it with goat's milk) this week. I'm excited to give it a try. I also have ricotta, feta, queso blanco, and kefir cheese on my list to try out soon. There are three or four different cheese classes that are held each month in our area and I've been trying for months now to fit one of them into our schedule, but it never works. I've done some reading on cheese making and I'm not sure I even really need the beginner level cheese classes. I think I'll be able to do it myself, no problem. We shall see, I guess. Maybe I'll take one of the intermediate or advanced level classes at some point down the road.

Anyway, here's the plan this week...

Sunday ~ farmers' market
B: sourdough english muffins with yogurt cheese and honey
L: salads
D: beef roast in crockpot with potatoes, cabbage, and carrots

Monday ~ Kevin leaves for Germany
B: yogurt with granola
D: grilled cheese and home-canned tomato soup; raw veggies; applesauce

Tuesday ~ WAPF local chapter meeting
B: dutch baby pancakes from freezer
D: eating at my parents' house

Wednesday ~ meetings in Detroit
B: sourdough english muffins with butter and homemade jam
D: leftover beef roast with potatoes, cabbage, and carrots

Thursday ~ farmers' market on the Capitol lawn
B: yogurt smoothies
D: eating at my parents' house

Friday ~ flex day; Kindermusik; CSA and milk pick up; Kevin comes home
B: scrambled eggs with cheese and veggies
D: TBD... something in the crockpot

Saturday ~ pick up chicken order; orchard trip; family night
B: fried eggs; sourdough english muffins
D: at my grandpa's house for family night

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Making the Switch to Raw Milk

We finally made the switch to raw milk last month and I cannot tell you how excited I was about it (and still am)! I had done a lot of research into it a little more than a year ago, after my first taste of raw milk at the Grand Blanc farmers' market (much of this post was actually written back then and has been sitting in my blog drafts until we actually made the switch). It is seriously the best tasting milk ever... so creamy and smooth and sweet... like milk is supposed to taste! I wish it would not have taken me more than a year to finally sign the papers to buy a couple cow shares. But life got in the way, as it often does, and other things took priority. Then I had my gall bladder attack in July and my entire focus on eating switched back to where it was a year ago, focusing in on the Nourishing Traditions and WAPF way of eating... only this time I have been more proactive at actually making the bigger changes.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

We have another fun week ahead of us again this week. This entire month is a really busy one for us... we pretty much have plans every flex Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from now till mid-October. I'm not quite sure how we're going to fit in all the fall chores and clean up with all the fun stuff we have planned. But we'll figure it out. We got a good start yesterday. I cleaned up both of the front gardens, cutting back the perennials, trimming the tree and bushes, and weeding. I need to do the side garden still... maybe I'll go out and do that one this morning to get it done. Then I'll just have the backyard gardens.

We are headed to the lake this afternoon for a family party for Labor Day. We may be heading out to Grand Rapids for Kevin's Grandpa's birthday tomorrow, depending on what the plans end up being. Tuesday I am going to Zumba. Wednesday I'll be stopping at the Allen Street Farmers Market. Thursday is Kevin's bike night. Friday is CSA and milk pickup. Saturday we are headed to Grand Rapids to meet my SIL and niece at the Children's Museum in the morning.

Like I said, Friday I pick up milk and our CSA order. All the fall produce is coming in and I'm so excited about it! This week, I've ordered more broccoli, green beans, celery, onions, roma tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, sugar pie pumpkins, and rouge vif d'etampes pumpkins. I'll be blanching and freezing the broccoli and beans, chopping and freezing the celery and onions, and roasting and freezing (with some kept for eating, too!) the squash and pumpkins. I'm not sure if I'll get to the squash and pumpkins this week, or not... but they'll be ok if I don't. And I'll be making the lacto-fermened roasted tomato salsa with the romas... I ended up not doing it last week and just canned roasted tomatoes instead. I got everything else done that I had on my list last week, too... plus a few other things... which you'll hopefully be seeing on the blog soon!

I'm not really sure what else I'm going to do for extras yet this week. I need to give it more thought and I'll try to update once I figure it out. :)

Update... I think I know what I'm going to do this week... I'm going to try a new method for sourdough bread from the Sourdough E-Course. I'll use this new method to make some new english muffins (we're out from the last batch I made), bread, and maybe some cinnamon rolls, too.

Sunday ~ family party
(make sourdough bucket dough)
B: scrambled eggs with veggies
L & D: family party at the lake

Monday ~ Labor Day, Grand Rapids?
(make sourdough english muffins with bucket method and possibly bread and cinnamon rolls)
B: yogurt with fruit and granola
L: in GR?

D: TBD... some kind of soup in the crockpot

Tuesday ~ Zumba
B: muffins from freezer
D: tacos

Wednesday ~ Allen St. Mkt
B: kefir smoothies
D: baked pork chops; roasted buttercup squash; corn on the cob; fresh fall raspberries

Thursday ~ Kevin's bike night
B: yogurt with granola and berries
D: grilled salmon; grilled zucchini; carrots; fresh melon

Friday ~ milk and CSA pickup
(blanch and freeze broccoli and green beans; chop and freeze celery and onions; roast squash and pumpkins to freeze?)
B: muffins from freezer
D: whole wheat couscous with sun dried tomatoes, spinach, roasted veggies, and yogurt cheese

Saturday ~ GRCM
B: scrambled eggs with veggies
L: picnic in the park
D: TBD... most likely something in the crockpot