Friday, September 25, 2009

Ladies' Day

Hi everybody ~ 
It's amazing how food brings people of all cultures together.  On Wednesday, my friend Miriam and I sat in an Amish barn in Bird-in-Hand, PA along with about 100 others (mostly Amish and plain people) to hear about extracting and preserving seeds with the most nutrients right from your garden vegetables...for planting next spring.  If you're interested in coming to the next meeting, which they call "Ladies' Day," then mark your calendar for January 13, 2010 (10am-3pm).  There is usually a paper posted on the door of Miller's Natural Foods inviting anyone who's interested.  I'm understanding and appreciating Amish culture so much through these meetings centered on health and wellness.  Our common interest in food as a prevention and cure of many diseases keeps us learning from one another.  The setting was in an old barn with cobwebs and hay piled high, small Amish children toddling around and babies nursing as needed, people sitting closely and quietly on benches, with the wide open barn door revealing cows grazing on a sunny clear day.  Everyone brought a food to share along with the recipe to set beside the food.  It's always a healthy feast.  There were quite a few men at this recent "Ladies' Day."  So, they don't discriminate.  Ha!  The topic brought more men (farmers) this time.  One thing I learned about corn and bean seeds is that it's best to leave a few ears of sweet corn and pods of beans on the vine for a few weeks past ripe picking time.  Then pick them, open them up, and let them dry in a dry place for a couple weeks.  When you see a little "black layer" spot form on the seed, then all the nutrients are sealed inside and it's good for planting.  I just noticed this tiny black spot on our dried soybeans (which are now seeds) from our garden.  If we don't pick off all our produce, it is likely that the plants will naturally drop their own seeds onto the ground which may just self-plant for spring.  But most people like to determine more predictability by re-planting by hand.  An interesting side note, is that last year, we had some decorative "Indian corn" on the cob in our house and a kernel of corn fell off onto a wet area on the ledge of our kitchen sink and eventually sprouted right there on the counter top.  It's amazing how much stored energy is inside a seed!  Gotta go pick up my daughter from preschool.... have a fun day!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Local news

I was just at Miller's Natural Foods (located at 2888 Miller Lane, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505) and was pleasantly surprised to find one of their excellent flours at a dollar cheaper than usual.  Fankferd Farms "Organic Unbleached White Flour With Wheat Germ Added" is now $6.56 which is more than a dollar less than the normal price.  It's not on sale; it's just the new price.  How cool.  And the "Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour" is only $4.76 ...both are the Frankferd Farms namebrand out of Valencia, PA.  It's nice to know that there's no pesticides in the wheat.  And by the way, if you might be a first time shopper at Miller's Natural Foods (totally worth the trip), here's a website from some guy who took pictures of their place and gave a nice overview including store hours and the fact that there's no electricity (Amish owned) and they only take cash or check.
When I asked the cashier why the price dropped, she said, "I don't know.  Maybe it means things are turning around."  I'm pretty sure she was talking about the economy.  Just down the same lane (Miller Lane), there is a farmer who sells raw milk, raw cream, raw whole milk yogurt, and many other great natural foods from his milk house.  If you're interested in visiting, let me know.  I'll end with a funny story from the milk house... Some time this past July, I was there ready to pay for my 4 dozen free-range chicken eggs, gallon of milk, & quart of cream, when I noticed that the eggs were about 20 cents less than usual per dozen.  When I asked the cashier why, she said with gladness, "Oh, the chickens are doing really good right now, so they have more eggs!"  What a transparent view of that farm's economy that day!  Shop at the farm... it's always more fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stir your peanut butter...

I grew up in a family of 5 (with 2 sisters plus my mom and dad) and for a year there were 6 of us with my foster sister.  We were a funny group because we all love to laugh at the randomness of life and each other.  There was never a shortage of comedy in my upbringing.  Now we are all grown up and live in our own homes, but I was visiting two different family members recently (who will remain nameless) and discovered that they both had a jar full of hard, dry, sad-looking, natural peanut butter in their refrigerators.  When I inquired, they both said that they had poured off that oily stuff on top and then put the peanut butter in the frig.  Oh my stars!  That's like squeezing an orange so you can eat what's left of the fruit after throwing away the juice.  They were just meant to be together.  Embrace the combination.  The peanut butter and peanut oil separate naturally while in the jar, so it's up to you to reunite them.  And it's very easy to stir room-temperature peanut butter the first time you open it (then stick it in the frig. and you won't have to stir it again).  I like Arrowhead Mills brand.  No sugar.  No salt.  Just smooshed peanuts.  Perfect.  If you're not already eating natural peanut butter, then give your palette a chance to adjust to the pure flavor... it won't take long.  Add a little raw honey to your peanut butter sandwich for a while if you're interested in weaning off of of the sugar brands.  And if you have a jar of dry orphaned oil-less peanut butter in your frig., just bring it up to room temperature and then stir in some oil (like peanut oil or olive oil).  Works great!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't fear it raw!

Pasteurization is a heating process which became mandatory in the 1920's when cows were raised in unclean conditions.  Due to good farming practices today, many farmers are committed to the health and wellness of the cows and people who drink milk, and therefore they offer the real thing... grass-fed organic whole cow's milk with no routine injections of antibiotics and no added hormones.  Hallelujah!  Shake it up each time you get it out of the frig. (no need for homogenization).  Ahhh, it's a wonderful thing!  And if you raise one eyebrow at the thought of it, then first try homemade icecream made with raw milk and raw cream and you'll feel better.  By the way, cows which are fed grass (little to no corn) have healthier digestion and are much less likely to get sick than cows that are fattened up with lots of pesticide-laden corn (cheap feed) and so the grass-fed cows don't require the antibiotics that corn-fed cows routinely get.  Still, the very thought of raw milk often goes way against the flow of modern society.  When I got free from that fear (after about 5 years of thinking about it), I finally just ventured out and bought it, and that felt really good... like I could think for myself and not rely on the government to tell me how to buy my food.    Some people call it "Real Milk" and some people call it "Raw Milk."  I'm here to say, it's good stuff!  We've been drinking it for over 3 years now with great satisfaction.  Because it tastes different from low-fat pasteurized milk, it takes some people awhile to get used to, but there are other people who quickly realize what they'd been missing all along.  The real thing.  I have so much more to say on the topic, but I'll end with this quote from a book called "Total Health Program" by Dr. Mercola:  "Pasteurization heats the milk to high enough temperatures to destroy microorganisms, good bacteria, live enzymes, vitamins, and the delicate 3-dimensional structure of the milk proteins.  It is a case of throwing out many babies with the bath water.  Milk pasteurization is a product of a bygone era, when controls were not in place for ensuring clean conditions for the cows, but the improved sanitation practices of the modern dairy industry have made pasteurization unnecessary."   Find out more at

Packing a healthy lunchbox

Another great website here... check it out for creative ideas for packing your own healthy lunch box or your kids' lunch boxes.  They even sell lunch boxes that are specially designed for healthy foods (meaning they have lots of compartments for foods that need to touch the ice pack).  I love it!

Also, I am reading an excellent book by Ann Cooper and Lisa Holmes called Lunch Lessons, Changing the Way We Feed Our Kids... I especially recommend it if you're interested in learning why your school serves the food that they do for hot lunches and/or if you want to influence change for healthier hot lunches.  

I am hoping that we have found a great answer to our hot lunch needs (healthy catering) at the small school where my kids attend, but I'll wait to try the lunches myself before I post the reviews.   Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kelly the Kitchen Kop

I came across a great resource for anyone interested in recipes and advice on healthy eating.  Check it out!  This link goes to a great looking egg role recipe.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My first attempt at "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Hi.  It's 11pm. and I just got done making a pear tart.  I had to make it today because the pears needed to be rescued from where they would have gone tomorrow (the compost pile).  Steve stayed awake just long enough to try it, and rave about it.  Good man.  In his bleary red-eyed, half-awake state, he sat up in bed, ate a bite, and said, "Wow, this is really good and I'm serious.  You know I wouldn't tell you that if it wasn't true.  This is really good!"  He makes me laugh every day.  I followed the recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, but I made up a few things along the way... no offense to Julia.  I love her love of butter, but I gotta cut the refined white sugar.  And it worked.  Yeah!  Now, I have to say that this cookbook was hard for me to follow because it often referred to other pages of the almost 700 page book to follow preparatory directions and then come back to the original page for further instructions for what page to find next.  It felt sort-of like reading a mystery book and I had to piece together the clues to find the right combination... not the kind of pressure I'm looking for... so after spending 20 minutes just reading everything for this one recipe, I decided to make it a "choose your own adventure" book instead.   I had a lot more fun making things up along the way.  For example, I left the sugar out of the red currant glaze altogether, and I deleted the custard (made of sugar and eggs yolks) and instead topped the tart with real (raw) heavy cream whipped with 2 TBSP. cognac and 1 TSBP. agave nectar.  It was still plenty sweet with the natural sugars from the poached pears.  I really admire all the work that Julia Child put into this amazing cookbook.  Sometimes great works of art are not straight-forward nor simple.  I am looking forward to my next adventure inside the pages.  When I recently watched the movie about her life, she said something that stuck with me.  And I used this great quote last Sunday when a raw chicken breast suddenly slipped out of my hands and onto the floor (as she says)..."Never apologize.  Just move on.  No one will ever know."