Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Stack of Bowls

Very shortly after I purged processed foods from my kitchen and started repairing my delicate appetite from scratch, meal by meal, I realized I needed more bowls.

Some nights I would soak oatmeal in warm water and whey, soak white beans in water and soak buckwheat flour in buttermilk. On top of that, the next morning before those bowls were washed, I'd whisk up a fritatta, pound a sauerkraut-bound cabbage to release the juices, mound food waste in a bowl headed for the compost heap, and... find myself out of bowls, still having a carob cake to make and possibly bread. 

I needed more bowls. 

I remember telling my mom and she said that she too had come to this realization. We both bought some bowls that week. I cleared out a whole {invaluable!} shelf just for bowlsMy mom wound up giving me some of the extra bowls she'd bought. I felt rich in bowls. 

But guess what? I still run out now and then.

If you're planning to have big from-scratch cooking days a couple times a week, I suggest you invest in a shelf-full of various-sized bowls. 

Now, it seems this could be a clutter problem, but the cool thing is: cooking these traditional recipes that we'll be talking about has led me to actually put away many of the tools and gadgets I used to use.

Today the only equipment I use on a weekly basis are: 

  • Bowls 
  • Knives, wooden spoons, measuring spoons and cups
  • Cast iron cookware
  • A mortal/pestle
  • An invaluable immersion blender {thanks mom!}
  • funnels and jars
  • and a big soup pot

No toaster {though I suppose I could use one} no countertop blender, no microwave, I hardly ever even use my mixer, no need for chopping gadgets or garlic presses and I really don't need non-stick pans.

This diet change has equalled a life change for me. I'm truly getting back to basics and it's getting into my core. 

I love the feeling of a heavy slab of wood, smooth from use, the large knife in my hand as it crushes another clove of garlic, the sound and smell of that pungent, crunchy gift of the earth as I dice the crush and slide it into warm oil.

I love the quiet of a homemade house where time is given to such things as crushing peppercorns by hand in a bowl made of rock and where soups simmer fragrantly for eight hours. No roaring or beeping or crackling of plastics. 

But it is not the lack of loud or frustrating gadgets or new inventions, nor the sacrifice of time that makes a home peaceful. It is the heart.

And for this homemaker, in particular, it is gratitude.

When I am grateful for my redemption in Christ, then I find peace. And, as a homemaker, I find myself in a place of power: my gratitude and joyful acceptance of my situation brings peace to my home and family. 

Is there a better gift I could offer them?


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Kitchen I Call Home

Good morning friends! 

Thanks to those of you who answered my facebook poll! I appreciate that all of you answered the same, apart from that rascal Genevieve, and have hence decided to continue as planned: full steam ahead. In that case, considering that next Tuesday marks our courageous entry into meal planning the nourishing way, I think we need to spend a little time setting up shop. First we'll discuss the pantry, then the equipment and finally the people who make the kitchen tick. 

So, today it is my plan to briefly introduce my kitchen and divulge a couple of its most delicate secrets. 

Kitchen, these are my friends. 
Friends, this is the Modest Kitchen at The Nuttings:
{yes, we named our homestead after the folks who bought this house first, those who made a home of it and left us with their knocker. Thanks, Nuttings, whoever you are!}

My pantry has:

Almost exclusively single-item foods:
  • raw vinegars
  • virgin coconut, olive and sesame oils
  • organic dehydrated sugar cane juice
  • Jars of bulk grains that vary frequently
    • anasazi beans
    • black, white and pinto beans
    • quinoa
    • millet
    • short grain brown rice
    • good quality wild rice
    • lentils
    • yellow and green split peas
  • Sea salt with trace minerals
  • Raw, local honey
  • Fish Sauce
  • Canned coconut milk {without additives}
  • Organic dark chocolate bars
  • Carob powder
  • Fresh onions, garlic, ginger
  • Dehydrated nuts and fruits
  • Hopefully a tin of homemade cookies

My fridge has:

Almost exclusively local, whole and/or  home-prepared foods:

  • Raw Jersey milk and cream
  • Cultured pasture butter
  • Cultured cream cheese
  • Creme Fresche 
  • Raw cheese
  • Farm fresh local eggs
  • Jars of homemade whey
  • Jars of kombucha tea
  • Jars of homemade stocks
  • Jars of homemade soups
  • Tuppers of pre-soaked and cooked grains
  • Delicate gluten-free flours/rolled oats
  • Organic veggies depending on the season. Now:
    • carrots
    • celery
    • parsley {though my plant just bolted, so no more when its gone}
    • arugula {same story as the parsley. :( }
    • cabbage
    • chard, kale or mustard
    • yams, purple potatoes, yukon golds
    • yellow and green zucchini
    • Delacotta squash
    • Spaghetti squash
    • The occasional treat {non local!} avocado
  • Fruit
    • heirloom tomatoes
    • apples
    • pears
    • grapes {with seeds}
  • Meat
    • Organic uncured bacon
    • Turkey sausages {with as few ingredients as possible}
    • Grass-fed beef 
    • Free-range chicken
    • Home-prepared leftover roast beef for sandwiches
  • Fermented foods
    • home-fermented pickles, carrots, relishes
    • fermented soy sauce
    • sauerkraut
  • Condiments
    • good dijon mustard
    • my sister's homemade jams {wishing for more for Christmas!} ;)
    • cashew and/or almond butter {peanut's fine, but little A's allergic}
    • tahini paste
    • organic catsup for the kids
    • grade B maple syrup

My freezer has:
  • Local fruits from summer
  • Meats I picked up on sale
  • Jars of my soups and stocks in case of sudden illness
  • Bananas from when they were at least grown in the country
  • Any flours I want to last forever
  • Any grains I suspect of having weevils {mass produced popcorn kernels. I need to find a better source}

What I Purged or Ceased to Buy:

  • Large quantities of canned foods
  • Processed vegetable oils
  • Purchased crackers, cookies, chips and cereals {due to almost inescapable quantities of rancid bad-in-the-first-place oils like corn, soy and partially hydrogenated oils. 
  • Candy, obviously
  • White flours and sugars
  • Syrups
  • Poor quality tuna {I need more education here. I currently don't eat tuna, but I will. Just need to learn how to select  the good stuff.}
  • Snack bars
  • {most pasta}
  • Everything with any ingredient {including natural flavors} that I didn't understand or knew to be artificial. 
  • Boxed dinners
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Instant potatoes 
  • Soda-Pop

Now keep in mind: it's taken me six months to set this shop up!

If you're new to this, 
remember to take one little step at a time

This video is clear and simple.  Not overwhelming. Gives you a place to start as well as some great scientific insights into why we do this in the first place. 

The Heart of the Matter

We'll get more into this in a couple days when I discuss my own change of heart toward the kitchen, but I'd like to mention now that this is not a fad diet. This is not an experiment {though an experimental attitude will do you well} For me, this is a lifestyle. I am allowing my life to re-center on Christ Jesus and his indomitable will for my life. It is a lifestyle of contentment where peace in the home becomes the thing that encourages a worn-out husband, fuels children's brains and readies them for creative thinking, gives space for individual growth, gives a respite for all who enter, and constantly speaks silently of God's grace - which none of us deserves, but each of us receives. 

My desire for my home is not earthly perfection. It is not to prove I'm "with-it" or the image of a perfect home-maker, hippy or Bellinghamster. It is only to do the most with what I'm given. I choose to steward my resources and time in a way that benefits my family on every level to the best of my ability.

I will not always be a homemaker. I do not believe I will. At very least I can honestly say I will not always be a  mother to children. But today I am and today I will wake up early and do my job to the glory of God. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Best Food Alive

So consider: how much of what we eat has been unnecessarily killed? No no not just talking meat here. {Let it not go down that I am a proponent of wiggling meat.} 

I'm talking bacteria. I'm talking about living food such as pickles, punch, kombucha, kim chee, sauerkraut, and more. Food that, properly prepared, introduces a host of hard-working life-giving microorganisms to your intestinal tract and suppresses the growth of certain bad bacteria.

Intestinal flora. : the "forgotten organ." 

To be honest, this conversation gets over my head at the word bacteria. I have very little scientific background and feel utterly incapable of describing to you which bacteria exactly are the ones we need not kill. But I know my story, so lets start there.

Within three years I had at least eight urinary tract infections. That means antibiotics. Lots and lots. During those years I would pop a probiotic now and then and occasionally take a spoonful of yoghurt. Apart from that, however, my food was dead and my gut was dying.

I was eating brown rice, mostly local meats, some hand prepared beans, really lots of fresh vegetables and organic fruits. Wasn't I doing okay? 

No, I felt terrible. 

My poor intestines! {I think it's an absolute RIOT that at the age of eight I asked my mom to choose some really really big words for me to learn how to spell - I was home-schooled - and she chose Rhododendron, Rhinoceros, and Gastrointestinal. Are you kidding me? I guess it is MY word now, officially.}

So here's what I've done: I've utterly absorbed the book, Nourishing Traditions, and live almost entirely on foods prepared from those recipes. And I lacto-ferment my own pickles {and carrots and cabbage and lemon juice and tea of course.}

It's shocking: you wash your pickles really well, sterilize your jars, mix up some spices, dill, salt and whey, pop the pickles in the jars and pour this concoction over them. Lid 'em up and let them sit on your countertop for 3 to 7 days dependent on frequent taste tests. (<---- not a recipe! I'll post the precise measurements under the Recipes tab.)

They're brilliant! Really yummy! And absolutely full of good bacteria. 

After one day of eating living foods, my body started to respond. It got hungry. After six months on this living diet, I am happy to say I've not had one UTI. I'm hungry every day, three times a day, my gut is peaceful and quiet and I think I'm finally beginning to gain a little weight {a necessity if I'm to survive the winter.}

Now this is life!

Do you want to feed your microorganisms? Do you want to urge them on and reinforce their troops? Do you want to feel better?

I'm guessing you do.

Following is a collection of links, further reading for your enjoyment. 

The inspiring story behind Pickl-It (boy cured from autism, inspiration)

Popular Sciences article on pickles (bad recipe. But I love the clean-cut discussion they have about traditional vs quick pickles.)   <---- very informative!

COMING UP NEXT: a week of preparations for my launch into demonstrating how I meal plan the Nourishing Traditions way. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us... Pickles?

One of the two things that miraculously regenerated my long-absent appetite was a pickle. 

It was a lacto-fermented pickle that hit my digestive system like the busy burst of healing lactobacillus bacteria that it is. (geek alert!)

Living food.

The other was fat. Pure saturated fats

Now, before you go all vegan or cholesterol-phobiac on me, let me do some explaining.

The Weston A. Price Foundation (you knew I was going to say that...) has been studying traditional diets around the world for many decades. I highly recommend you (if you haven't already) familiarizing yourself with their website. They are one of the leading authorities in scientifically solid evidence that fat (pure and unadulterated) is good. 

Even wikipedia admits that the medical research on this topic has been incomplete at best (and partially inconclusive at worst.) 

Here's a favorite article on the subject. Do read!

I am no expert and I will keep my arguable perspective brief:

People have eaten raw and/or minimally processed animal and tropical fats for as long as the history books tell. Until lately. Highly HIGHLY processed oils like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, corn oil, etc are a rather new invention, the timetable of which seems to strangely parallel that of increasing young American heart disease. Now, all that is well and good and plenty debatable. Look at it however you please and draw your own conclusion. 

The truth of the matter, I believe, lies in testimony.

I have never felt so vital in my life

I eat butter, coconut milk and oil, sesame oil, cream and bacon and have literally never been healthier. My husband is on the Eat Fat, Lose Fat phase 2 quick and easy weight loss plan and is 1) losing weight, 2) seeing age-old health issues just vanish, and 3) is consistently feeling vitalized, satisfied and stable. 

Even the children (who were breast-fed and health-fed from the start!) have benefitted immensely from this change. I feed them bone broths that simmer for over 24 hours, cod liver oil,  buttered bread and creamy whole milk or coconut milk smoothies. Their glowing complexions and {frightfully} increased energy stand as little wordless testimonies of their good health. 

Sure sure! I've gone too far. Duh we still get sick. Colds go around, gluten tends to irritate my stomach (ouch!) You could say we still have further to go on our food journey (boy do we! I'm excited for that.) But how I feel about it is that if I'm aiming for perfection here on earth, I'm missing the point. 

I just want to enjoy the days God has allotted for me. And, for me, that means eating the food that makes me feel and perform my very best, and moving right on to stewarding my resources wisely, being a good friend/mother/wife, and never ceasing my most fulfilling journey of all: drawing nearer and nearer to my eternal savior who saved me once and for all but continues, bless Him, to rescue me daily from myself, my will and my best laid plans. 

Hey, more on that pickle next time, alright? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Breakfast is Coming: the dawn of my own whole foods journey

I was awake again. My mind churned, going in circles and getting thicker by the long slow minute. It was heavy and I didn't see the good in it: why buy raw cheese for $5.00 instead of homogenized for $2.00? Why go to the trouble of buying milk from local farms and eggs from happy hens? why buy cultured butter? And, most shockingly, why was I even considering buying a $15.00 chicken when my whole adult life I'd been focused on one thing: finding the best price.

My daughter shuffled and kicked in her makeshift bed on the floor beside me. I couldn't get comfortable either. What are we doing here? I thought, and what am I going to do next?

Then my stomach rumbled.
As a young teen, I remember confessing to my oldest sister that all my life I'd been comforted by a growling stomach at night. Naturally, my sister laughed. Why? she wondered.

 "Because it reminds me that breakfast is coming. And I'll have room to eat a lot of it."

 I love that I knew beyond a doubt that my mom's homemade breakfasts would be good each day. I love how I anticipated them.

What I didn't know was that a stomach that allowed for such rapid digestion was not normal. And what I didn't expect was that another, though less abnormal, condition would eventually blight my system: pregnancy after pregnancy after pregnancy. A four-year cycle that left me with two beautiful blond children, two painful stories of early miscarriage, a series of UTIs and a stomach that ultimately decided life was  no bueno. 

The day before, I told my mother, "I'm coming over. I need help. My stomach has gone suicidal on me."

And boy was that the truth!

Since the day I conceived the last ill-fated fetus, ten months prior, my stomach had not growled. Not if I ate, not if I didn't. Not in the day, and never ever at night. And lately, eating had become as difficult as swallowing my big fat pride.

But not now. At this moment my stomach was growling.

As I lay there, nodding at last into a comforted sleep, I knew that breakfast was coming again... and I knew beyond a doubt that it was going to be good. 

to be continued...

Monday, October 17, 2011

You are Welcome Here

Well, let's just get one thing straight: I'm no domestic goddess.

And if you're thinking I'm going to convince you that whole foods have saved me or that "the best food alive" can save you, well... you're welcome here, but I am sure to disappoint.

You see, I'm just a girl {no, really.} I'm a daughter and a mother, sandwiched in a loving mess of generational foodies.

Food really matters to me.

More importantly, however, I am amazed by the power and love of God and his ability to transform this arrogant kid into a humble and patient woman {a mother no less!}; I am interested in becoming all that I can be, but not in being self-made or constantly reinvented; I want to learn to honor my parents and nurture my children; but yes {finally, and perhaps least importantly of all} I desire greatly to help change the way Americans view, grow, prepare and eat FOOD.

I am {i suppose} a food renegade, a whole foods believer, and one very happy eater. {and long sentence-maker!}

Join me as we fight for our food "rights" and learn to feed our families REAL food.