Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How our garden does grow!!

This is our Square Foot Garden. It's doing amazing! Drew calls the soil mixture 'Drew's Mix' instead of 'Mel's Mix'. He insists he told Mel all the information he wrote in the book. :) He's having a great time with it. We have harvested some lettuce and some basil and cilantro here and there. We'll have another salad today, as the lettuce leaves are taking over the whole box now!

The first picture is the box on our landing, there are 8 square feet boxes. The 2nd picture is the one on our deck, you can't see it all, as I can't get the right angle without going down the stairs.

It's so much fun to see it grow and to start to harvest some things from it. Now I am looking into seeds that I can plant and harvest before winter, and, if I'm lucky, I'll also find some seeds that will grow throughout the winter, and then we can harvest them in the early summer before we start our summer plants. It's so much fun to play with, learn from and nourishing out bodies with!

Next year we hope to start a lot from seed and go with heirloom varieties mostly. And then we can save our seeds every year and know we are getting the best varieties.

Oh, and I'm trying my hand at compost. It's nasty smelling, but I'm convinced that it's the best way to insure high nutrient content in the food we grow. It's cheaper then vitamins! So I'm not giving up on it yet-my poor family!

The first picture, while I may not remember everything (Drew is the master gardener), has turnips, cucumber, lettuces, carrots, squash, tomato, peas and zucchini. The smaller box to the right has a green pepper plant and another squash I think. The white planter, which is mostly covered by the rail, has Myia's watermelon plants in it. The zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and squash are supposed to grow up the trellis of nylon netting that is in the picture. Mel from the Square Foot Garden book insists it works great, so we are going to give it a try. You tie plastic grocery bags to the netting to hold each of the heavier plants as they grow. That is the part that Drew is most excited about.

The 2nd picture has cilantro, green onions, wintergreen, mint, red basil, asian variety lettuce (yum!), pepper, broccoli, oregano and parsley and cabbage.

The things are growing like weeds-but without any weeds. The kids are enjoying the project almost as much as us adults. :) I do hope it will eventually pay itself off in produce that it produces. And for now, just going out to cut some fresh cilantro or basil is so fun and rewarding. I do hope to bring some of the herbs and lettuces inside for the winter.

In the backyard, we have a gray trash can that we planted some potato sprouts. We hope it will grow a bunch of potatoes for us. And I've read that you can plant winter potatoes that you can harvest in December, and spring potatoes that you harvest early as well. So, ideally, we'll eventually have 3 harvests of potatoes from that one container. Although that may be asking entirely too much. :)

Here is a picture. It's not great, but I'm very proud of our efforts. :) We're not sure if the sprouts will work, but we're hoping. Once we get a crop going, then we'll just save a few potatoes to replant. Drew cut some holes in the bottom of the trash can, and then we put the Mel's Mix on the bottom, put 5 cuts of potato, sprouts facing up, around the outside, and one on the inside, and then we put about 2 inches of soil on top of them. If they grow, then we will continue to add more soil to cover the sprouts until they read the top of the can. And then they should stop growing up and just start growing potatoes. It's a very exciting thought!

It's fun to dream and plan......

Monday, July 27, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

I've been wanting to try zucchini spaghetti for awhile. I found this recipe from a blog I enjoy and am excited to finally try it. I don't see us going grain free altogether, but I'd like to find alternatives that we enjoy as much as possible. Esp ones that are inexpensive, not terribly time-consuming and are super nutritious (and local and in-season in this case-although ours are not ready yet).

Mostly eggs, bacon, kefir or yogurt and raw milk. One day we do sourdough pancakes and one day we do french toast casserole.

Lunch, served with kombucha for all:
Monday: Fried Potatoes and Ham
Tuesday: Thai Salmon Cakes w/sweet and sour sauce
Wednesday: Nacho Spuds
Thursday: Zucchini Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Friday: Pepperoni Pizza
Saturday: Fish Cakes
Sunday:Roast Chicken and Veggie

Supper: Generally leftovers, popcorn and smoothie, PB& honey sandwiches or veggies and PB.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Our First Garden Salad

While it was a tiny salad to be fair, it was OUR salad, grown in OUR garden!

Check it out, I was beaming with pride. And it was so delicious! The kids ate most of it, but I snatched some when they weren't looking.

We had the most yummy haddock fingers today. Drew is amazing when it comes to frying. And my fish-hater children actually ate a lot of it and loved it.

But this is about the garden, not the fish. :) We planted butterleaf lettuce, some random Asian lettuces and some romaine. It's all pretty small, but I cut some of it here and there, just enough to make a fresh, crisp salad. Yum!

Our garden looks amazing, it's growing like crazy. I meant to get some pictures of it today and post, but now it's dark and raining, so it'll have to wait.

Home grown lettuce is sooo delicious!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Faith in the unseen

Ok, I'm on the whole 'parenting' thing, and I have one more issue I've been struggling with in my brain the last few days.

How does one 'run the race that is set before us'? How does one finish the race, going strong, doing the right thing when everyone around you says you're crazy? And, esp, how does one teach these things to children!

Specifically in relation to their spiritual lives, and their nutrition. They so often seem to be parallel!

I believe, and want to pass along to my own children, that God is the 'I AM', the Creator and sustainer of the earth. That we are all sinners and God sent his Son to die for us, to pay the penalty for that sin. But, I don't want that to be head knowledge. I want them (us) to be so driven by that, that it changes our hearts and from there, our behavior. I don't want my kids to be 'luke warm' or to be wishy washy. I want them to finish the race, to be like Paul, and to find thier very passions for life to be based on the cross and their love for Jesus. I want the things of this world to pale in comparison to their passion for Christ. Is that possible? So few people are that way, and most Christians today would mock a person for living such a life. It would be considered 'old fashioned' or 'extreme'. But isn't that how Paul lived? Isn't that really how it ought to be?

When it comes down to it, I'm asking my children to believe in something they can not see, to live for something that provides very little reward in the here and now. Sin has consequences, but so often we don't see them until long after the deed is done. Or, worse yet, we don't see them as being directly related to our sin. They are just a part of life.

Now, I realize that the Holy Spirit is the only one who can open my children's hearts and eyes to the truth. And really, He is probably the only one who can light the fire under their little fannies (their newest favorite word) to keep them running hard and long.

But it seems foolish, when I look at it from the world's perspective, to teach these things to my children-and to expect them to believe them and live them. Is it possible?

On the nutritional front, I have the same quandry, but it's even more vague, as I'm not entirely sure of the Holy Spirit's roll in this end of it, and there is little Scripture to back it up.

I am trying to teach my children that foods, even when they taste good and don't cause any obvious signs of discomfort, can cause long-term health issues.

yeah, that lollipop you are eating and loving right now, is going to cause your teeth to rot from the inside out and possibly give you diabetes when you're 60. Now there is a reason to not eat lollipops if I ever heard one. Esp for a 4 year old! I mean really, it sounds almost absurd.

Of course, I know the truth, I'm convinced I do anyway. But very few other people will back me up on that, at least, not the main-stream. So, why would my children choose to believe me, and sacrifice the here and now, for long-term benefits? It's not in children's nature naturally to do so. But, parents are supposed to be the guides to help them to learn that.

But can I possibly expect them to believe and live that when they are adults and on their own? Esp if they have avoided a lot of the health issues facing most of their peers because of the choices forced on them when they were living under their parent's roof.

Can I pass along to my children, my beliefs in spiritual and nutritional issues, against the vast majority of people in their day to day lives, and truly expect them to take them on for themselves? To be willing and passionate even, about sacrificing now, for the good of the future-a future that we can not even fathom at present?

I guess I just need to keep hammering at those nails every day and not worry too much about the finished product. Only God knows what that will look like.

Boy am I glad he's in charge and not me!!

Building a mansion with a hammer and nails

I know it can be done, technically. But who does it anymore? Power tools, digging machines, electricity, scaffolding, gorilla glue and all kinds of modern technology. Can you really build a mansion with just a hammer and nails?

That is how I have come to see my roll as a parent. I am building a mansion, with a maze of rooms and spiral stairs and secret entrances and grand rooms fit for a queen. And yet, I'm doing it with some 2x4s, a box of 1" nails and a hammer.


Ok, maybe that's dramatic. They do grow up, they learn somehow, they get taller, smarter and wiser. Often, it seems, in spite of me.

But my kids have gone hay-wire the last week or two. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm hormonal or extra-selfish. But I watch them and see how their mis-behaviors are mostly direct results of my parenting. They do things just the way I trained them to-and it's ugly! Sometimes I get a glimpse of what it should look like-their behavior and heart attitutes, and Drew and I's parenting techniques. But then I get soo overwhelmed by what is expected of me. I look down at my parenting tool belt and all I see is a hammer and some nails! Yikes!

I take the Bible to be my final authority-on all matters. Now granted, I don't know it nearly well enough to understand it fully, but I do approach it daily bathed in prayer for the Holy Spirit to guide me to truths he knows I need to hear and understand. I truly believe that is the proper approach and most days, I do just that. But, in my searching and reading and studying so far, I have come across very little specific advice for parenting. I am currently in Romans and have so far, seen MUCH more in the Bible about food and drink then specific guidance for parenting.

Now, I obviously believe that proper bodily nourishment is important. But, compared to the overall job of parenting, it's minor! So why would God give us so few instructions on the incredibly difficult and important role of parenting? They are there, Deuteronmy 6 tells us we are to teach our children about God all day and night. Spare the rod, spoil the child (it's extra true in our house, as Grampy's name is Rod and he spoils the grandkids rotten! :) ). Don't provoke a child to wrath... There are some specific verse on parenting, but oh so precious few. And for such an important job! Give me some power tools here God! If I am to do such an incredibly important job as to raise up and train a child to know and love the Lord, to have good manners, to show the fruits of the spirit, to be polite and selfless, to eat well and be disciplined, etc. Shouldn't I be given a lot more to work with? I can't do half of those things myself for goodness sake!

Have I repeated myself? I do that a lot.

Maybe, just maybe, I am starting to see how I CAN build, with the Holy Spirit's help of course, my two precious children's 'mansions' with just a hammer and nails.

This isn't a great analogy, but it sorta works...

Maybe my hammer is my own personal growth-in all areas. Spiritual, nutritional, physical (hopefully NOT there so much for me), relational, mental, emotional, etc. I feel that part is sadly neglected. I bought the cheapest hammer at Wal-Mart I could find and now I'm trying real hard to fortify it. But I can only do what I can do, and trust the Lord to come along side and pick up the slack.

The nails are the time we spend together, day in and day out. Interacting in special times one-on-one, times around the table, cooking, doing a craft project or coloring. Playing games or building blocks. Going to the park, fishing, caring for a sick friend or helping to clean an elderly person's house. Deuteronomy 6:7 sums it up nicely...You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

So really, it seems, to be a Godly parent, I need to saturate myself with Scripture and prayer and then just live day to day with them, letting it 'ooze out of me', or 'bang the nails' so to speak.

So why isn't it working?!?

I guess all I can do is stay in the Word (and read lots of parenting books and talk to lots of parents-again-all bathed in prayer of course) and continue to seek out ways to pass along what I am learning to my kids-through our every day lives.

When I think of it that way, I'm so glad I'm not going to send them off to school for someone else to teach them all those things. 18 years doesn't seem nearly long enough to pass along the necessary info to them!

Maybe I need a pink tool belt... :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast: Mostly eggs, bacon, kefir or yogurt and raw milk. One day we do sourdough pancakes and one day we do french toast casserole.

Lunch, served with kombucha for all:
Monday: BLTs and Cheese
Tuesday: Roast and Veggies
Wednesday: Roast Chicken and Veggie
Thursday: Salad with Chicken leftovers
Friday: Sausage and spinach Pizza
Saturday: Fish, Onion salad and rice
Sunday: Roast Sandwiches

Supper: Generally leftovers, popcorn and smoothie, PB& honey sandwiches or veggies and PB.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast: Mostly eggs, bacon, kefir or yogurt and raw milk. One day we do sourdough pancakes and one day we do french toast casserole.

Lunch, served with kombucha for all:
Monday: Salmon Cakes and Fries
Tuesday: Pepperoni Pizza
Wednesday: Sushi making lesson/lunch with a friend-trying it again, didn't work out last week
Thursday: Roast Chicken and Veggie
Friday: Salad
Saturday: Sausage and Brown Rice Salad
Sunday: Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Supper: Generally leftovers, popcorn and smoothie, PB& honey sandwiches or veggies and PB.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast: Mostly eggs, bacon, kefir or yogurt and raw milk. One day we do sourdough pancakes and one day we do french toast casserole.

Lunch, served with kombucha for all:
Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Fish Tacos w/homemade tortillas
Wednesday: Roast Chicken and Veggie
Thursday: Salmon Cakes and Fries
Friday: Sushi making lesson/lunch with a friend
Saturday: Chicken Salad Melt
Sunday: Meatball Sandwiches

Supper: Generally leftovers, popcorn and smoothie, PB& honey sandwiches or veggies and PB.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's growing!!!

We were so excited this morning. Our garden is sprouting... sprouts! Woo hoo! Aren't they so adorable? They are some kind of lettuce-I can't remember which. We'll have to thin them out in a day or 2, but for now we're enjoying seeing something grow after all our efforts.

So, of course I'm looking for all the fun ways we can eat our salads. This bacon and avocado salad is one I really want to try when they are ready to eat. We all enjoy lettuce salads, so it's a good first crop.

I'm hoping that if I get the hang of growing things, I can take some of them inside and grow them year round. Namely, lettuce, herbs and tomatoes. I wonder if it's possible...

We are soo wanting to get a farm with yard and grow all kinds of things. Drew saw fig trees he really wants. And of course we want rows of berry bushes and fruit trees, rhubarb patches and asparagus ditches....

I wonder if we sissyfied-city folk could do the farm-thing. Green Acres is the place for me...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

I know, I know, it's Wednesday...whatever!

Breakfast: Mostly eggs, bacon, kefir or yogurt and raw milk. One day we do sourdough pancakes and one day we do french toast casserole.

Lunch, served with kombucha for all:
Monday: Honey Baked Chicken and Rice
Tuna Melt
Wednesday: Cobb Salad
Southwestern Sourdough Pizza Roll Up (my cousin's awesome creation-I'll post the directions soon)
Friday: Roast Chicken and Veggie
Saturday: Salmon Cakes and Fries
Sunday: Taco Salad

Supper: Generally leftovers, popcorn and smoothie, PB& honey sandwiches or veggies and PB.

Nourishing Soaked Cookie Recipe

I have made this recipe for Giant Breakfast Cookies in the past. We enjoyed them, but they were not very healthy with the unsoaked grains. I had given the recipe to a friend, and she actually soaked her grains first and they turned out great! They definitely taste 'healthy', and mine fall apart easily. So putting them in the freezer and eating them frozen seems to work the best. But none of us mind that. Drew actually puts them in the toaster until they are warm, and then puts butter over them. I prefer them frozen.

Nourishing Soaked Cookie Recipe

2 cups cracked oat groats (rolled oats work also)
1.5 cups freshly ground flour
1 cup butter
3/4 cup buttermilk/milk
3/4 cup honey

Melt the butter and honey, cool off some and then add the buttermilk, oats and flour. Cover and let sit for 12-24 hours. 24 hours being best, esp for the oats.

2 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 tsp b soda
2 tsps vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate chips*

Mix well. Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes. Serve with kombucha or a kefir vanilla milkshake. Or on days like today, we use it for an actual meal, along with a smoothie. Yum!!!

*For the chocolate chips, I'm working on getting better quality. Right now I get the organic ones from Whole Foods-at least they're not genetically modified. My sister has a genius idea. She took a bar that was 70% cocoa, froze it and then chopped it in her food processor. They end up in small bites, so a little bit goes a long way!

Coconut Peanut Butter (Freezer) Fudge Recipe

I made some coconut freezer bark a while back. It is a way to get coconut oil into you without it tasting too coco-nutty. Anyway, I made it, but didn't enjoy it this time, so I added peanut butter to it and it tasted really yummy! And Drew and the kids love it to. I love finding a nourishing treat that I can always keep on hand and offer in-between meals when the kids are hungry (esp when I'm out of raw milk, my stand-by for such times). I have made this fudge recipe before and this one also, so it was kind of a combination of the almond bark and fudge I guess.

It's quite yummy, although the coconut flavor is strong. I used unrefined coconut oil. If you use the refined, it would not be as strong. But it also would not be as nourishing.

This is our mid-morning snack the last few days. A glass of kombucha and some coconut peanut butter fudge. The kids love it! They wouldn't have touched the stuff 6 months ago-we've come a long ways in the last year! Woo hoo!

Coconut Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe (must be kept in the freezer, as the coconut oil melts very quickly)

1 Cup of unrefined coconut oil
1 Cup peanut butter
1/2 Cup of shredded coconut
1/2 Cup of honey
1 tsp celtic sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup of slivered almonds (best if soaked and dehydrated)-optional

Put all ingredients in a pan and warm on low until melted. Stir together thoroughly, pour into a pan and freeze. The whole process takes less then 5 minutes.

That's it! it's so easy to do. I made mine about 1/2 inch thick in the pan, and then cut them into 2-bite-sized pieces. That way the kids can eat the whole thing without it melting. They do melt quickly.

Next time I might try it with butter, although the point is to get the coconut oil in you. But with the butter it shouldn't melt as easily.

Drew has been sneaking them all morning. But of course, the peanut butter breath is hard to hide! :)

We're back!!!

Well, the kids and I visited my family in Iowa for a month. We got back 2 weeks ago, but I still have not totally gotten back into the swing of things. Mostly meal planning. I have some new recipes I want to post (for all of my devoted followers who have been waiting with bated breath for me to start blogging again *grins*).

Here are some fun pictures from the trip. My kids mostly enjoyed hanging out with their cousins. Here they are 'shredding' and being 'mud sisters', garage sale-ing and feeding the cows in my parent's back yard. Fun times! :)

It was a fantastic visit. We went waay off our NT eating, but we did better then in the past and learned a lot in the meantime. I definitely came to appreciate how important a high-fat, high-quality, low-sugar diet is. When I first got there, I didn't crave junk food and could easily turn it down. About half way through, when the raw milk was gone and high-quality food was harder to find, I found my intense cravings were returning in a big way! Poor dad, he just wanted his cookies for work, but mom wouldn't keep them in the house because of me. :)

I am ready to move back, buy an acreage, and start my own homestead and try to be mostly self sufficient. As much as one can be without going crazy over it all, in the 21st century. Drew is ok with the challenge. Now if we can crawl out of debt and save up for a good-sized down payment, I think it would be a fun, family adventure.

But, all of that is a long ways off. So, for now, I am trying to be as self-sufficient as I can right here in Clifton, NJ. One has to start somewhere, right? And besides, I truly believe it is being a good steward to make wise decisions and be less dependent on outside sources for food and energy. Going 'green' and all that. Mostly though, it's just a fun challenge for me.

I am very desirous of eating as 'local' and 'in season' as possible. And to get as much sugar as possible out of our diets. What is the point of serving nutrient-rich dense foods if the sugar simply sucks all the nutrients out anyway? We still eat waaay too much sugar. But I am trying harder to find honey and syrup sweetened desserts to help us not to feel 'cheated' or to crave the other junk foods.

We finally planted our garden yesterday. It's much too late in the season, but the seeds were cheap and we had to start somewhere. Next year we hope to do mostly heirloom, and then we can save the seeds from those foods and not have to buy new ones every year. And have a much better quality product. When I got back from Iowa, I was pretty much over the whole garden thing. Not really over it, but not feeling it was worth even bothering with it being so late. Luckily, my sister-in-law had gotten bit by the growing bug and her excitement got me excited about it again. :) I figure with the price of seeds, it was worth a try anyway!

Here are some pictures from our 'planting' of our Square Foot Garden yesterday.

So, that is where I am now. I shall try to post my newest favorite recipes. And hopefully get back into posting my weekly meal plan. If I don't, we eat horribly!