Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Life Updates

Dear gentle hearts,

We have been blessed with a visit from The Original Mrs H, Mr H's mama.

Before she came out, she mailed me a box of gifts for my birthday.  In them, she included a statue to "replace" the one she had given us when we got married.  I moved the old statue to our bedroom, and put the new one in its place on the mantel.

Note the shells, which Mr H found while diving (in Florida and Washington, l - r respectively).  The little card  is from me, and the hand-drawn picture is from my sister Kejmo, when we mailed Mr H a box for Easter.  He hung them on the mantel when he was living in Virginia by himself before I arrived.

The Original

The New

Mrs H
twittering @_mrs_h
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu XVI: Three Meals a Day, plus Jakob's Special Menu

The little guy was feeling sorta left out because his special menu is not posted here.  However, he is quite ritualistic and eats the same menu each day, so I will post it once and you can just multiply it in your mind times seven and you will have a pretty good picture of what he eats.

Every Day (Jakob's Meals)                                                                                                                
Breakfast | Milk
Second Breakfast | Milk
Elevensees | Milk
Lunch | Milk
Afternoon Tea | Milk
Supper | Milk
Bedtime Snack | Milk
Midnight Smackerel | Milk

Our meals

Breakfast |
Lunch | Bean dip, chips
Afternoon Tea |
Dinner | Cottage Pie, baba ghanoush, sourdough bread
Kitchen Tasks | Strip dried basil leaves and grind into powder; label and store jars.  Cut mint from garden, wash, and lay out to dry. Open packages of bacon ends, lay on cookie sheet and place in freezer. Pick up milk, eggs, and chicken from dropsite.  Put chicken in fridge.  Make 12x batch of baba ghanoush.  Put fresh basil in fridge to dry.

Breakfast | Granola, whole raw milk, raisins
Lunch | Smoothie (Mrs H), Cottage pie (Mr H)
Afternoon Tea | Dark chocolate squares
Dinner | Three-Cheese Macaroni, Spicy fried okra, Jones' Soda, Trader Joe's French Vanilla Ice Cream
Kitchen Tasks | Turn mint leaves.  Wash beet jars; label.  Compose menu for the week.

Breakfast | Oatmeal, thawed blueberries, whole raw milk, bee pollen, honey from a neighbor's hive, coffee
Lunch | Three-Cheese Macaroni
Afternoon Tea | Baba ghanoush, sourdough bread
Dinner |  Shepherd's Pie
Kitchen Tasks |  Attend food auction.

Breakfast |  Oatmeal, honey, whole raw milk
Lunch  |  Smoothie
Afternoon Tea  |
Dinner  |  Spicy Shepherd's Pie Wraps in Trader Joe's Tomato Tortillas
Kitchen Tasks  |  Begin sourdough starter. Harvest tomatoes, herbs, and peppers.  Wash peppers from food auction, put on dehydrator.  Wash herbs and lay on towels to dry.  Part chicken; start simple broth.

Breakfast |  Oatmeal, whole raw milk, blueberries, bee pollen, chia seeds
Lunch  |
Afternoon Tea  |  All-fruit sweet smoothie
Dinner  |  Vegetable Lasagna with Sour Cream (Trader Joe's)
Kitchen Tasks  |  Tend sourdough.  Chop herbs and freeze.  Rotate peppers on dehydrator.  Strip air-dried mint leaves and store.  Strain broth and put in jars in fridge.

Breakfast | Make-ahead Mix Pancakes, apple syrup, hot peaches and blueberries, scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers from garden, rosehip tea from my sister and brother-in-law
Lunch |  Wraps and smoothies at a local raw/vegan restaurant that sources their produce from our organic CSA
Dinner |  Quinoa Salad with marinated tomatoes n onions, spicy skillet chicken, avocados, and sunchokes.  Weeping Radish root beer from the farmer's market.
Kitchen Tasks |  Visit monthly farmer's market (during the summer it is weekly).  Tend sourdough.  Rotate peppers on dehydrator.  Gut cupboard after finding cockroach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Breakfast | Oatmeal, blueberries, whole raw milk, bee pollen, coffee
Lunch |  Drive-In Burgers
Dinner |  $5 fish tacos at local ecobistro that grows their own produce, and sources other ingredients from local organic farms and suppliers
Kitchen Tasks  |  Tend sourdough.  Remove peppers from dehydrator; wash new batch and lay on.  Cockroach-proof the cupboards (stage one - chemicals).

Mrs H
twittering @_mrs_h
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The boys harvesting
Frying okra in spicy batter

A big yawn!
The food auction haul
The dehydrator is ... very full.  As they shrivel, it closes up!
Scraps from the chicken broth
Chicken broth
Working on the chicken post

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Huge Autumn Giveaway - Five Bestselling Cookbooks (and a bonus round!)

Reader Reader Cookbook Reader,

Welcome to fall!   Today is the Autumn Equinox, and to celebrate this changing of the seasons I am excited to announce not one, not two, but five book giveaways here on the blog!  These books have rapidly made a home on my "favorites" shelf, and I want your family to benefit from them as much as I have.  And may I remind you, Christmas is just a few months away ...

Generously sponsored by Chronicle Books, Storey Publishing, Da Capo Press, and NewTrends Publishing, we will feature a major book review on the blog every two weeks along with an accompanying giveaway (by random selection).  But watch closely, because I'm going to sneak another giveaway in there, too, and it's not for a book!  Here's your hint: I found a wonderful brand of coconut oil I'd love to share with you ...

Like our Facebook page so you'll be kept notified when new giveaways are posted, and don't miss one of them!  

Who features in this book merry round-up, you say?  I'm glad you asked ...

Use the slow cooker more than you use your face! 
Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever by Diane Phillips
This giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Britni, who won the book!  Click here to see the review and pictures of my fat baby holding the book.
Brought to us by the excellent folks at Chronicle Books, the first delicious folio to go will be a book that has me addicted to that ceramic plug-in gadget you keep forgetting to use.  With a title less an exaggeration and more of an understatement (and modeled here by our lovely little man), this book is "chuck" full of beautifully laid out recipes that will bring home the meaning of dinner to your family.  With fall classes starting and schedules filling with school projects, college classes, Christmas concert rehearsals and long days of canning and cookie-baking, the slow cooker will be your newest and bestest friend.  Many of these recipes feature a slow version (cooking on Low) and a faster version (cooking on High), so you can start it before breakfast or just after lunch.  Watch for the review coming to a blog near you (this one!) in October.    

"Float" away without a care in the world - and feel better for it! 
Homemade Soda: 200 Recipes for Making and Using ... fruit sodas and fizzy juices, sparkling waters, root beers and cola brews, herbal and healing waters, sparkling teas and coffees, shrubs and switchels, cream sodas and floats, and other carbonated concoctions by Andrew Schloss
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jo at The Hungry Crafter for winning!  Click here to read the review and be dazzled.
The next book flying off the shelf comes to you courtesy of the fabulous purveyors at Storey Books, another name we all know and love.  I personally love the refreshing sparkle of a bubbly, fizzy drink, but I can't stand conventional soda.  This book gives you the tools and the cred to make your own fantastic brews, free of ingredients you don't appreciate and full of the ones you can't get enough of.  Energy drinks, meals prepared using your own sparkling drinks, and absolutely ridiculous and bizarre recipes come alongside familiar cream sodas, root beers, and all the things we know and love about the fizzy.  This review will magically appear in November.

Bake yourself into a tizzy and rule the world from your kitchen! 
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
Click here to read the review. 
Brought to you by the very generous world of Da Capo Press, an imprint of the Perseus Books Group, this book will rock your little sweet-tooth world with confections designed to hook you for life, and give you the leverage to control your family with a flip of the oven switch.  Delectable desserts that are so wildly wonderful that nobody will suspect for a moment that they contain any vestige of nutrition (your secret is safe with us ... all of us!), these little treats will set you up for a lifetime on the "good" list, and soon you will rule the family gatherings like your own private cupcake cartel.  This review should hit your screen in November.  

Sustain with a traditional, holistic diet! 
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

Published by the food insurrection group at NewTrends Publishing and generously offered to you the reader, this book has rocked the worlds of good-food, sustainable-living, natural- and holistic-healthing, all-around beneficial-being people.  Stuffed with goodness like a squab at a holiday dinner, this book never fails to surprise and never ceases to amaze.  Anecdotal and scientific information line the margins and so every recipe is prepared by you with a growing knowledge of Why, How, and What For.  Not just a manual on good cooking, this book brings an education to your kitchen that will change and improve the way we all see food.    Keep your little eye on the horizon for a review in December.  

Travel around the world in vegan style! (Not pictured)
Vegan Eats World: 250 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet, by Terry Hope Romero
Another book from Da Capo guaranteed to climb the bestsellers list, this winning title from Terry Hope Romero has yet to be released and is still in the reviewing stage!  We are proud to have been offered one of the early reviews for this book and will be bringing you our fabulous opinion in December! 

And what of our super-secret, super-nifty, you'll-never-guess-it giveaway?  
What, do you think I gave it away with the whole "favorite new coconut oil" thing?  OK, maybe I did ... but we can all pretend it's still a secret and you can watch the blog for the bonus round somewhere between all these fabulous new reads.

All of these books have brought me no end of delight and filled our house with exciting and fresh food - I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to bring them to you!

What a haul! 
The publishers have honored me with these giveaways because they know you, the Interested Reader, want to read them!  Would you share this link with another friend that you think would be Interested?  These fabulous books are just too good to keep to myself, and I know you will feel the same way!

I trust you exhibit more interest than this guy?!
Fall fashion/drool catcher, what can I say ... 

Follow us on our Facebook page and don't miss a single giveaway - you can enter as many as you like, I am not limiting wins for this special giveaway!   Which book do you want to win the most?  I await your opinion with bated breath (really, I do!  You have no idea how cool it is to get comments on the blog!).

Eager with anticipation,

Mrs H
twittering @_mrs_h
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Parting Out a Chicken: Why I Buy Whole

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, visit our new blog platform at www.farmandhearth.com to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

Dear colonists, 

We buy our chicken whole, from a family a few miles from us that raises, butchers and sells them frozen throughout the year.  I've been in the practice of buying whole chicken since we got married, because it is cheaper by the pound.  As you quick-witted ones may point out, that is because I am also paying for the useless weight of bone - but I beg to say that it is not altogether useless.  

We buy our chicken at $4.95 per pound.  You may think that is very pricey, but remember what goes into raising a real chicken when it lives outside a factory; I am happy to pay the true cost of meat, and we place a great deal of value on it when we do eat it.  We eat a little less meat than perhaps the average, and it is more sacred to us.  Life, after all, should be taken with great thoughtfulness.  

If I can't afford real meat, then I can't afford meat at all!  I will go to great cost to protect my family.  

I would not buy chicken from a grocery store like Walmart, Albertsons or Costco; just a visual check, and I can see that the meat is not fresh and is of poor quality.  Color, texture and smell are all different from a chicken purchased straight from the farm.  When I open the package, I always find it is rancid with a viscous, slimy liquid.  You might not notice that it's rancid, though, if you've never seen fresh chicken - just like I didn't realize I was drinking rancid milk, until I went raw.  In a random test of 819 samples of raw meat from 59 stores in supermarket chains, Zhao et. al found that 70.7 % of the chicken contained the bacteria Campylobacter (which can have the nasty side-effect of total, permanent paralysis, or just the unpleasant effect of giving you lots of UTIs), 38.7% contained the potentially deadly E. coli, and 3% contained Salmonella (which can, in addition to many other terrible things, leave you with permanent reactive arthritis symptoms).  These bacterium, and many others like them, are present in factory-raised poultry and meats - organic and conventional both, although organic slightly lessdue to the unsanitary practices that go on behind closed doors - and the simple, mathematical presence of thousands of tons of manure.  

Buying organic, factory-raised meat is not sufficient to protect your family; feces are feces, whether or not they are organic, and in a large factory with often illegal practices and most definitely over-crowded and unsafe living conditions for the poultry, the contamination levels are high.  

Of course, the solution offered by the FDA is to cook the ever-living love out of your poultry until it is beyond dry and scour your counter with bleach after preparing any raw meats.  Anything containing the bacteria Salmonella, Campylobacter, or E. coli, has to be treated like haz-mat.  That's right!  The raw chicken you just picked up at the grocery store counts as a hazardous material - now enjoy eating it tonight!

Should this sign be on your fridge?  (And I don't mean because of those
holiday leftovers!)
Suffice it to say that after learning all of this, I switched from buying organic meat in the grocery store to buying small-batch, locally-raised meat.  And I buy it whole, because that is the cheapest per pound... which brings us back to our discussion of dollars to doughnuts.

The organic, free-range, local family-raised chicken I parted out this morning was 3 pounds, 10 ounces (1.657 kg).  At $3.95 per pound, that's $14.32 for the whole thing.  After I cut off the breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings, the remaining carcass was almost one pound.  A pound of waste?  I think not.  I put the carcass in a pot of water, brought it to a boil and now will let it simmer for a day and a night (or just a day).  The resulting broth will measure about four - five quarts (I don't use any special formula, just pour in water to fill the pot).  We'll say conservatively, then, that the rich, golden, fatty broth costs about $1/quart.  I can use it immediately, put it in the fridge for later use, freeze it in plastic containers or glass wide-mouth pint jars, or pressure-can it, whichever is more convenient at the time.  Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth costs $4.59 a quart,  or even $3.76 if you go through a buying club.  Additional flavors are added to their broth, including evaporated cane juice - a turn-off for some.  I don't add any flavors (such as turmeric) to my broth, but if I were it would only increase the cost by a few cents per quart.  If I were to buy all this broth I just made, it would cost (at a minimal estimate) $15 - 18 dollars, and it wouldn't even be of the high quality that homemade is.  I would have no assurances of how or where the chicken was raised, and I would have potentially questionable ingredients to deal with.  Subtract the cost of the carcass, and I just saved myself a minimum of $10 - 14 ... this chicken is already paying for itself! 

When I first started using whole chicken, I didn't know how to cut it up and so I went to YouTube to find a how-to video.  I slowed the video down and cut up a chicken while watching it.  If you've never used a whole chicken before, here is a helpful tutorial on learning how to part a chicken by Ian Knauer, food editor for Gourmet magazine.  (If you watch the video, I will note - I am a little lazy and generally just cut the breasts off the whole carcass.  Everybody develops their own system.)  You can part up your chicken in the beginning of the week and use the pieces throughout the week, or you can part up a few chickens and freeze the pieces separately for later use.  

When you pay the real cost of food, you begin to place a premium on things that you might normally throw away.  Waste becomes minimal.  The leaves of beets, radishes, turnips and carrots are now delicacy items that we can't wait to enjoy.  Soured milk is a sought-after commodity.  Beef bones and poultry carcasses are precious for the broth they bring; and we begin to appreciate all aspects of the food we consume, not just the skinned, boned, pasteurized, aseptically packaged identically-sized portions we see in the grocery store.  

So, the question is - are you a colonist?  Or does E. coli need to find another home? 

Looking forward to dinner, 

Mrs H

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Find locally raised meat at EatWild.com, and LocalHarvest.org

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu XV: Featuring Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner!

A dutiful explanation of new content

Intrepid ones: this week, you will perceive that I have begun the trial of a new menu, which includes meals from the whole day and kitchen tasks! I always keep a running list of kitchen tasks, assigned per day (this is often necessary when you don't use pre-fabricated or processed foods for cooking).  However, I have never tried planning breakfasts and lunches except for special occasions, and have always just let the chips (get it?  chips?) fall where they may.

I think Mr H would heartily appreciate this new method - and I would be happy to not have to scramble (get it? scramble?) for a breakfast dish at the last minute.  However, I will warn you to expect a somewhat monotonous breakfast listing involving oatmeal, eggs and bananas, until I accumulate some handy new, easy breakfasts (a wonderful side-effect to this little exercise!).  I am definitely open to your Brilliant Suggestions.

And, by my troth ... You will notice that I label my "snack" as "afternoon tea" ... with my apologies to the whigs, it just sounds cooler than the somewhat pre-schoolish snack.  And again, my deepest regrets to the Patriots but we do dearly love tea around here and drink considerably more of it than we do coffee.

A worthy note
Lunch generally consists of leftovers from the night before; but when something interesting is afoot, I shall make due note of it.

Dutch Oven Boston Baked Beans
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork sandwiches

Shredded slow-cooker pork wraps, quinoa salad
Kitchen Tasks | Wash and slice jalapenos, about 1/2 bushel; put into pickling liquid to prep for canning

Breakfast | Oatmeal, frozen U-pick blueberries, chia seeds, bee pollen, local raw honey, raw whole milk; fried egg
Lunch | Rye crackers and Havarti cheese with dill, raw milk with Trader Joe's Midnight Moo sauce; Mr H took shredded pork and quinoa salad to work
Afternoon Tea | coconut tea, leftover wedding cupcake
Dinner | Un-True Borscht and sour cream, Johnnybread with honey and butter
Kitchen Tasks | Can pickled jalapenos, peel beets from the midwife's neighbor, make marinated tomatoes from our garden, put chicken in fridge to defrost

Breakfast | Blueberry Muesli, banana, raw whole milk
Lunch | leftover borscht and johnnybread
Afternoon Tea | black caramel tea, jell-O cup with fruit and whipped cream
Dinner | Marinated Tomatoes and Spicy Chicken with Quinoa
Kitchen Tasks | Place chicken in cold water to thaw, pressure-can beets, wash jalapeno jars and label, pull meatloaf and buns from freezer

Breakfast | Coffee, scrambled eggs with cheese
Lunch | Leftover quinoa salad (Mr H), smoothie (Mrs H), molasses cookies (everybody)
Afternoon Tea | black caramel tea, johnnybread
Dinner | Meatloaf, pickles and homemade barbecue sauce on kaiser buns
Kitchen Tasks | Order chicken and eggs, seal freezer bags of onions and zucchini, put meatloaf in cold water to thaw

Breakfast | Starbucks coffees, banana
Lunch | Rye crackers, dill havarti
Afternoon Tea | dark Ghirardelli chocolate chips
Dinner | Spicy chicken wraps
Kitchen Tasks | None

Breakfast | Pumpkin spice granola, raw whole milk, raisins, banana
Lunch |
Afternoon Tea |
Dinner | Layered bean dip, tortilla chips, canary melon, pizza and football!
Kitchen Tasks | None

Mrs H
twittering @_mrs_h
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This will bring some heat to our winter!
Our midwife brought us 15 pounds of beets, gleaned from her neighbor's garden
just before tilling.  I guess there was a turnip mixed in there, too!
Kitchen Tasks don't include the monotony of daily tasks; but they still need to happen!

Quinoa Salad
Saturday was spent at the farm learning about planting Fall crops! 
The best thing about overalls! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Dear reader heading into Fall,

(Not a fall, I hope!)

Sometimes recipes call for pumpkin pie spice, a blend which can vary by brand or maker and which is easily replicated with ingredients you probably already have at home.

In order to prepare you for a season full of pumpkin-pie-spicy things, here is a simple mixture that I use - you can increase or decrease the quantities in proportion as desired.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
If you make the Libby recipe, just use two teaspoons per pie of this in replacement of what the can of puree calls for.  

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice (optional)

Whisk ingredients together well; store in an airtight container.

Big Batch of Pumpkin Pie Spice (x 8)
Just a little pluttification ... and we have MORE! 

1/2 cup cinnamon (8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup ginger (12 teaspoons/4 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons cloves (6 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons allspice (optional)

In a (pie)shell,

Mrs H

tweet us @_mrs_h for chewy nuggets
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Speaking of pumpkin pie, do you know your ABCs? {chuckle}

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dinner Menu XIV

Crunchy Tuna Salad
Sparkling Cider

CSA Platter

Pickling Day - leftovers!


Summer Dinner Platter

Linguine in Sour Cream Butter Sauce
Okra, Green Beans, Basil, Flat-leaf and Curly Parsley, Green and Purple Eggplants, Yellow Tomatoes and Plum Tomatoes

Wedding Dinner to celebrate our friends' nuptials! 
Roasted Eggplant Puree and Crostini
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork
Kaiser Buns
Bratwursts and Buns
Canary Melon
Jell-O with Summer Fruits and Whipped Topping
Sparkling Cider
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
White Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Mrs H

A fresh platter of goodness
This tuna salad is less than 50% tuna - the rest is delicious, crispy wondrous
produce and herbs - basil, parsley, cucumber, various varieties of tomatoes,
celery, carrot, and so much more
My little helper! 
Heading out for our daily walk - even though I did end up carrying him for part
of the walk, it is too desperately hot for babywearing comfortably and I like
him to stay out of the sun - even so, we both came home sticky, I with rivulets
of sweat streaming down my face and back and my shirt and shorts soaked!
Making a big batch of relish
Building a platter - my newest favorite way to cook
Anything can go in a platter! I load it up with vegetables, potatoes, and here
I am adding some flaked tuna, chopped boiled eggs, tomatoes from our garden,
small bulb onions, minced peppers, and homemade mayonnaise into which I
blended a handful of sweet basil and a big clump of flat-leaf parsley
The finished product, served on a huge platter - Mr H loves a platter dinner!
Bored with our menial tasks, the little man transcends this mortal coil
A rewarding breakfast of oatmeal, honey, peaches and cream after a full night
of canning green beans ... note the timers for the pressure canner, as I finish
the last load and then take a nap on the couch in the morning sun! 
Making a little wedding cake!
I love little signs on toothpicks, hence, the little signs on toothpicks that you see here
It's a good thing shabby-chic is in, and Mason jars are stylish ... cuz that's all
we've got!  I made these little candleholders using brown paper I saved from a
box my family had mailed me ... good thing I save every scrap of paper and ribbon,
neatly stashed in my Paper and Ribbon tub :) I always use the bits n pieces! 
Topped with mint sprigs from our garden
Slender eggplants, peeled, sliced and broiled; then blended with lemon juice,
garlic powder, fresh parsley and basil, salt and pepper.  Spread it on crostini! 



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