Putting My House in Order

October 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

Matt and I are on a simplification kick. For the last few months, we have been asking the question, “Just how much do we really need?”

Currently, we live in a one hundred year old, three-story twin.  It has tiny rooms, and we have lots of stuff.  The finished attic, which is supposed to be a third bedroom, is stuffed to the gills with boxes of things we never unpacked from our move into the house three years ago.

Navigating from room to room can sometimes be a hazard.  Oh, I’ve joined FlyLady, and read all the good homekeeping blogs and subscribe to other mommy bloggers who struggle with clutter and organization, but I still feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of my mountain of crap— erm… adversity.

But it is time to get serious.  Today, I have been clearing out cabinets and shelves in my kitchen, filling boxes to go OUT THE DOOR.  We need to go room by room to eliminate all the excess and just… simplify.  We have so many dishes, that I’ve boxed up one whole set (dinner and salad plates, bowls, cups and saucers) and am switching to our china which sits in a hutch and never sees the light of day.  What’s the point of having pretty plates if you’re never going to use them?  Any utensils in the drawers which were doubles or simply superfluous and not something I use regularly went into a box.  A whole knife set (with wooden block holder) is now in the box, along with my old 6 quart slowcooker (I have almost half a dozen in different sizes.  They all get used– sometimes simultaneously, so it’s hard parting with even one…)

Not only are we getting rid if the standard clutter, but we feel a real need to pare down to the bare minimum.  Just the essentials.  How many tops do I really need?  Can I get by on only 5 blouses, 4 sweaters, two pairs of jeans and a couple of skirts?  What does it mean to live simply?  Could I get by on only 100 items total? I’m talking, clothes, furnishings, entertainment, etc.

Put that way, to my mind anyway, 100 items seems like an awful lot.  But then I look around me at all the STUFF in my house, and wonder what I’m doing with it all.  Somehow, I don’t think I even USE 100 items, but I know I have way more than that in my possession.

So it’s all going away.  Shooting for a goal of 100 (but not obsessing or killing myself to get there, just aiming for it) I am pushing out the clutter.

Maybe I should make this a general challenge… hmmm….

Olive Bread! By Accident!

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

So I finally got around to that biscuit dough that was intended for the camp-out and therefore has been soaking since Saturday.  I had doubled the recipe from Nourishing Traditions, so I had a LOT of dough.  I actually ended up departing from the recipe in the book, adding more kefir to the soak and then on the back end adding more flour once I incorporated the baking soda.  It made for a more bready, less biscuity consistency. The biscuits cooked up really well, being tender and toothsome, though not at flaky as biscuits tend to be.  But they certainly didn’t cook up like rolls, so I consider it a biscuit success.

I only used half the batch for biscuits. In reality, I had intended to use the second batch for biscuits as well, but while in the fridge, I spied a tub of olives, and inspiration hit!  I jumped into action, chopping olives, getting frustrated with chopping one at a time, and then proceeding to dump the whole container into the cuisanart.  I also had a leftover remnant of raw smoked cheddar which I roughly chopped as well, and then kneaded into the dough, adding a little more flour to compensate for all the oil in the olives.  I turned that mess into an oiled loaf pan, and baked at 350F for about 45 minutes.

It is AWESOME. Very much on the salty side, but not unpalatable– just what you would expect from olives.  I am quite pleased with the result.  Score one for innovation and experimentation!

Ice cream for breakfast, you say?

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

This morning I looked int he fridge and much to my chagrin, we are out of everything. And by everything, I mean, I have a couple of gallons of milk, a half gallon of kefir and a quart of heavy cream, and little else beyond condiments.  So, thoughts of eggs and bacon or some other fully satisfying nosh went right out the window.  Knowing that I need to feed my child, and that shopping is out of the question till Matt gets home, I had to get creative.

Last night, I came across a recipe for kefir ice cream.  Now, the recipe specified using kefir that had only been allowed to ferment for 18 hours or less, and I always let my kefir go 24 hours before putting it in the fridge to cure for another 8-10, so I knew mine would be more tart than might be desirable for ice cream, so I cut the amount to one cup, and subbed in two cups of heavy cream.  To this, I threw in a couple of tablespoons of carob powder, about a quarter teaspoon of peppermint flavor oil, a broken up square of premium soy-free dark chocolate, and a half a handful of frozen blueberries.  I blitzed that in the vitamix for a few seconds, and added about 8 drops of chocolate flavored liquid stevia.

Into the ice cream maker with this concoction, and after a few minutes or so, Ella and I were slurping up ice cream for breakfast.

Next time, I definitely want the egg yolks; you could tell something was missing, but all in all, it as a pretty good attempt, considering the dirth of options. It was high fat, low carb with a little protein from the kefir, and some antioxidants from the chocolate and blueberries.

I’m not a fan of blueberries, BTW.  I have always seemed to have adverse reactions to them, but I am trying to incorporate them into my smoothies and stuff more.  You won’t catch me eating blueberry pie or muffins any time soon, but I’m getting used to them.

Camp Cooking

September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last night, we had a camp out at our church.  It went really well, with folks setting up tents on the back field, and we had a bonfire with the usual camp fare: s’mores, hotdogs and mountain pies.  This was my first intro to mountain pies, and now that I understand the basic concept (two slices of bread with pie filling in between smooshed between two cast iron plates and cooked over the fire), I will have to modify it and figure out how to make it less industrial and more nutritious.

This morning was better (i.e less junk-foody), since I volunteered to make breakfast on my little propane camp stove, using all my cast iron camping gear.  We had scrambled eggs (from local, pastured chickens, of course), sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy.  Unfortunately, the biscuits were pre-made, because there was a mix up in the transport of my soaked biscuit dough. It works out, however, in that the prolonged soak in the kefir will end up making for some really yummy bread tomorrow. 🙂

In addition to the above feast, I also made some fried apples, which were THE BOMB.  Indeed.  And so simple.

Fried Apples

Ingredients

4-6 med Granny Smith apples, sliced

2 T butter, ghee, or coconut oil

2 T Maple syrup

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Melt fat in skillet, and add apples to med high heat.  Sear the apples, stirring occasionally.  Add cinnamon and maple syrup, stirring to coat.  Lower heat to med low. Allow the syrup to come to a bubble and thicken.  Serve warm as a side dish or over ice cream.

I will definitely be making this more often!

Sugar Blues…

September 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago, my doctor told me I have to cut out refined processed grains, gluten, and ALL sugar.  Now, granted, I have been on a journey toward purging refined and processed foods from my life, period, but I have had the TOUGHEST time giving up pastries, cookies, muffins, ice cream… ugh.  I CRAVE them, you see. Like crack.

But I’m exhausted all the time (falling asleep at the wheel=NOT GOOD) and constantly sore and achy in all my joints, and my blood tests confirm what my body has been trying to tell me.  I’m a wreck!

Despite the best of intentions in moving my diet into a more Weston A Price style of eating, I have continued to let in the little things that have been undermining my health; namely sweets and industrial foods, and a lot more eating out than is good for my waist or my wallet.  So now I’ve got to get radical, and cut it ALL out.  I have to start cooking and eating the way I know how, but have been neglecting.

Sugar, especially the overly processed chemical stuff that is in everything, is so insidious and pervasive.  It’s like in Song of Solomon 2:15, “…the little foxes that are ruining the vineyard…”   Every little bit chips away at your health from the inside out, causing your body to stop absorbing the minerals it needs, disrupting hormonal balances, throwing off insulin levels and leading to all kinds of health issues, from tooth decay, to obesity, to death!   Speaking of tooth decay, did you realize it’s not the sugar ON your teeth that leads to cavities, but the sugar in your system that leads to cavities?

Anyway, I’ve switched to stevia for a lot of things, and am trying to cut out all the stuff I’ve known better about all along, but just couldn’t seem to put down.  The doc wants me to go on the Body Ecology Diet, but that’s something I really have to ease into. The author advises 80% veggies and 20% proteins or grains, and I just don’t now how to eat that many vegetables!

For now, my best bet is to just cut the sugar, refined flour and other little things I have been letting slide.  Baby Steps.  Whole, unrefined, unprocessed, unadulterated foods from earth to plate are the way to go, lots of grass-fed animal fats and proteins, and loads of cultured and fermented foods and beverages are the basis for a healthy diet, and I thankfully already have those n place.

Now to purge the poisons!

So much to do…

September 15, 2010 § 5 Comments

Well, it’ not even 10 AM and I’ve already gotten much accomplished… or at least underway. I finally decided to bust out of avoidance mode and tackle my kitchen. One load if dishes is in the wash, and another shall soon follow. Big on the priority list is to sort and chuck, and sweep and mop that floor!

We have a lot to do and a ton going on right now. Matt and I have decided to sell the house and downsize to MUCH smaller accommodations (i.e. the apartment basement of some friends of ours,) which will require paring down to the bare minimum. We’ll be having a MEGA yard sale on Oct 16th, details to follow and adverts will be posted on FaceBook prior to the event. Anyone looking for coffeehouse items, please check it out! There may even be a refrigerated pastry case on display…

Stuff I must do

The Sweet Life

August 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

Last Monday, my Doctor told me to go gluten free for a month and to cut out all sugar. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for a while now, but we are trying to get my hormones (especially my thyroid) in order, plus Ella has some kind of sensitivity, and we need to isolate it.

So I’ve been a week without bread, and trying out gluten-free recipes, which led to an interesting experiment with oatmeal crepes. It wasn’t an utter failure, but I would not categorize it as a roaring success either.

In just a few days, Ella’s diaper rash has cleared up, and I’m noticing a lot more energy. In fact, I’ve been out walking several times this week, and just have more pep in general! Who knew?

I’ve been wrestling with this refined sugar/flour addiction for quite some time now. And even though I allowed myself a small milkshake on Friday night, I haven’t been CRAVING it and going crazy like I thought I would. When the month is out, I can begin adding back some low-sugar fruits, like berries, etc, and eventually I’ll be able to have my beloved raw honey, maple syrup and sucanat in small doses, but I do not intend to allow white sugar back into my life. That stuff is p’ison!

I’m surprised at how (relatively) easily I have avoided the wheat stuff as well. Granted, it means a lot of strangely textured bread-like substances, but the flavors haven’t been bad, and all in all, it’s ok. Once I’m able to add wheat back into the mix, I will stick to the soaked whole grains, and avoid the refined white flour.

It’s all stuff I have known for a long time, but it’s been so difficult to break the convenience habit, spurred on by my insane addictive cravings. This will allow me the clean break I needed to fully switch over to the whole foods, nourishing cooking that I have been trying to do for a couple of years now.

My next thing is to cut out my processed milk products and stick strictly to the raw, but I LOVE ice cream, especially as is made locally at Zwahlen’s in Trooper. I need to get over it and just start making my own.

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