Friday, April 30, 2010

Food for thought

We have watched three documentaries in the last few weeks that really made me stop and think a little more about the foods we are eating.

King Corn - Two guys track their corn from field to plate and find it in some unexpected places.

Food, Inc -How our food industry looks more like a factory than a farm, how we got there, and why we should try to get back.  
Disclaimer: You may notice a liberal slant, and please remember this is only one side of the story, so watch with a grain of salt. I love the point made at the end that every purchase we make is a vote for the food we want to see and eat.

Super Size Me -After hearing about people suing the fast food industry, one guy decides to eat only McDonald's food for one month and see what happens.
Disclaimer: This is PG-13, so maybe not something to watch with the kids around, but it is really, really good! It had wonderful information and an unexpected ending while keeping us entertained all the way through.

They can all be viewed on Netflix as Instant-play if you have that option. That's how we watched them. They were all fascinating, so if you get a chance check them out! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Many Strawberries!

After coming home from the U-pick farm I had the job of cleaned up all the berries. The kids helped cut some of them up for eating, and the rest all went into the freezer.

It took about 3hrs to clean them all up (thank goodness for movies on the lap top!), but it went faster after I set up a little system. I had one bowl for soaking, one for trash, one for draining, and one for the finished, ready to bag berries. I think by the time I got them put away I had eaten my weight in strawberries.
We ended up with 4 gallon bags in the freezer, 3 cups of chopped berries, and about 2lbs left whole for eating during the week. 
I have big plans for the frozen berries! I have already used one bag for strawberry smoothies, 3 canned jars of Emeril's strawberry syrup, and some awesome strawberry/banana muffins. It really worked out nice to make the syrup and the muffins at the same time, because I needed to skim some of the large strawberry pieces off the top of my cooking syrup, so I just put them straight in to the muffin batter. No waste, and the muffins were delicious! 

I am also planning to can some strawberry jam, but I think I will have to borrow a large canning pot for that. My dutch oven pot is just not big enough for doing more than 3 or 4 small jars, and if I am going to can jam I want to do a big batch.
Do you have a wonderful recipe for using up loads of delicious strawberries? Leave the recipe or a link in the comments, I would love to see it!

Strawberry Picking

We went to a U-pick strawberry farm a few weeks ago, and the kids had a great time!
 They were allowed to eat as many strawberries as they wanted while picking.
Happy strawberry face!
Here is JP doing a silly dance.
And lovely Immy! 
I showed them how to pick the bright red berries without holes or bruises, and they kept bringing me their berries to show me how they had picked "the perfect one". They really did great picking too, and were so proud of "their" box. 
After the picking we paid for our berries, all 25lb of them, and then stood in a really long line for the best homemade strawberry ice cream and homemade strawberry shortcake I have ever had! Totally worth the wait, and a great treat before heading home!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

We eat a lot of WW tortillas, so I wanted to try to making some that would be cheaper and healthier. I found a recipe here at KitchenStewardship.
 Here is the dough. I made a double batch and cut the dough into 16 pieces.

 Then rolled them out into a circle (kind of). 

 Pan cooked (I love this pan!).

 Done! Ok, there was a little clean up to do. 
I stored them in a ziplock bag in the fridge. Ours lasted for two weeks before we ate them all, they were starting to get hard towards the end, but were still really good! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Summer Sewing: T-shirts

I cut off some of Lulu's long sleeve T-shirts now that the weather is warming up.
The first T-shirt (purple) I cut off at a 3/4-sleeve length, then turned up the ends twice making a 1 1/2 inch cuff, and ironed it in place. Then I sewed it in place with two lines of stitching, using a navy blue thread to match the details on the shirt. I started my line at the underarm seam, so that my messy start and finish would not be seen when the shirt is being worn.
The second shirt (white) I cut off at a short-sleeve length, I used one of her other T-shirts as a guide for the length, and then added about 2 inches for the hem. I turned it under twice, ironing each time, then sewed it with one stitch line in white thread.
Sewing on the shirts was really easy to do. I was nervous about the stretch of the material, but it turned out fine. Much easier than jeans!
Isn't she cute!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Summer Sewing: Jeans

I cut off some of the kid's jeans for the summer weather. 
The first pair (boy's light blue) was a 3T length, but fit my little guy in the waist, so I turned them into shorts. I laid a pair of his favorite shorts over the jeans to get the right length, then cut the jeans about 1 inch longer for the hem. I turned them under once, because my machine can only handle two layers of denim, and sewed two lines with a gold colored Jeans Top Stitching thread. The bobbin was white sewing thread. I'm not sure if the fraying inside is going to be a problem, but I plan to use Fray-Check if it is. 
The second pair (girl's grey/blue) was just ready for a summer re-do. I cut them about 2 inches below the center of the knee then turned them up twice making a 1 inch cuff that would sit at the center of the knee. This pair of jeans was made out of a stretch-denim, so it was not as thick as regular denim, and I was able to sew through three layers. I stitched once around the cuff with the same gold Top Stitching thread and white bobbin thread as the first pair.
I did have some trouble sewing through the denim, especially through the side seams; my seam ripper got some regular use during this project. I would recommend starting just before the inside side seam so that when you come around to finish the stitch line you won't need to stop after riding over a side seam. (Hope that makes sense :)
They turned out so cute! 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I have been on the hunt for a Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe as a way to bump up the nutrition in our bread and also cut down on cost. But the WW bread recipe in my bread maker cook book produced a loaf that was too soft, and the smallest piece I could cut without smashing the bread was about 3/4 inch wide; way to much bread for a kids sandwich. Then while reading Marilyn Shannon's wonderful book Fertility Cycles and Nutrition I came across her recipe, and had perfect results when I tried it in our bread maker! 

Here is the bread, you can see how thin I was able to cut it without any trouble or special guides, and the taste is wonderful, though like all homemade wheat bread it is best if eaten in the first two days.

Here are two of the satisfied customers!
Now for the recipe; I did change a few thing, but the important ingredient is gluten; you don't want to leave it out! That is what gives the whole wheat the extra stretch and strength to be cut thin like white bread. I use Vital Wheat Gluten because that's what I found at Publix. 

This recipe is for a two pound loaf. I bake it up every few days, so to save time I measure out all the dry ingredients (except salt) for a loaf into a bag and stash a few bags of my "loaf mix" in the freezer. On the day I need to make bread I take out a bag and let it come to room tempeture (1-2 hr.) then add it to the wet ingredients in the bread pan and bake. If a two pound loaf is more than your family can eat in two days, extra dough or baked bread can be kept in the fridge or freezer, then you will not need to bake it as often.
 Marilyn Shannon's Bread-Machine Whole Wheat Bread  
  •  1 1/2 cup Warm Water
  • 2 tsp Salt 
  • 2 tbsp Butter 
  • 3-4 tbsp Honey 
  • 3 3/4 cup Hard Organic Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tbsp Gluten 
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional-Yeast 
  • 1-2 tbsp Granular Lecithin
  • 2 tsp Granular Baking Yeast 
Place all the ingredients in the pan in the order they are listed. 
Bake on the Basic Loaf program, or the Insta-Bread program if using Rapid Rise Yeast.
When the bread is finished let it cool then cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
Store it in a bag on the counter or in the fridge, and enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Everybody in the pool!

I decided to pick up some kiddie pools for the kids now that the weather is really getting hot. Unfortunately this decision was made at the store, and it wasn't until I went to load them that I stopped to consider whether they would fit in my humble mini van. Luckily I like a challenge, and after moving a few car seats, groceries, and putting down the back seat we were able to squeeze it all in.
We bought one baby kiddie pool for the back patio (for Lulu to splash around in while I cook dinner, etc.) and one big kiddie pool for the front driveway (for when all the big kids want to splash around). A little excessive? Maybe, but the little one was only $10, and I fully expect to get our $10 worth out of it this summer!
Lulu was a little displeased with the mess I had made of her van. 

JP and Lulu ready to swim!
Mmmmm, soggy graham crackers.

The kids have really enjoyed the pool, I think we have used it three or four times in the last week!

I love the kids little swimming shirts. I don't have to slather them up with sunscreen from head to toe, just a little on the face and ears and they are good to go. I still have to get one for Immy. I am looking at the pink one at Lands End paired with their little swimming skirts, so cute! 

The BumGenius diaper covers make a perfect swim diaper when you take out the inserts. 

Splash'n around!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I can eat butter! (That may not seem like much to shout about, but when you have a milk protein allergy it's a big deal!) I was recently told about ghee by Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship, I contacted her asking what she recommended for cooking since she (and others I have been reading) does not recommend using margarine, including the Smart Balance I have been using. She suggested ghee or coconut oil, both are wonderful fats that are solid at room tempeture, and since ghee is a cooked butter with the milk protiens removed it is perfectly safe for me to eat!
 I made up a batch of ghee, as soon as I could get my hands on some butter, using this info.
 After simmering 1lb of butter for about an hour (yes time consuming, but so worth it) it was ready. I strained it through a mesh strainer, over cheese sloth, over a wide mouth funnel; into a heat resistant jar. It was bright gold colored with no dark specks, and it cooled to a nice light yellow colored solid - perfect! I ended up with about 12oz of ghee.  
It has a wonderful taste, a little stronger than butter but not as salty. I used salted butter, but I believe the salt is removed with the proteins and impurities during the process. I'm not sure if salt is suppose to be added in since it is shelf stable as is, but I just add salt to whatever I am using it for. 

Happy Easter 2010!

Easter morning, before the kids woke up.
New shoes!
Veggie Tales!
Great smile!
Easter gifts!
She loves her shoes!
Rabbit ears and chocolate smiles!
Oooh, Peeps!
New Cupcake set
Happy Easter!