Monthly Archives: April 2010

Little Mama

Who knew a mini stroller could bring such joy?

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April 2010 recap

Since I didn’t do a very good update on us post for Sprout’s third month and I completely skipped Bean’s nineteenth month, I figured one big post for the month would be good.

Sprout:


He can lift his head up pretty good now during tummy time.


He thinks Bean is hilarious and loves to watch her.


He’s a total thumb sucker.


He has small feet just like his sister.

He still spits up, projectiles it, all the time. When does it end?

Bean:


Loves my old rocking horse and can get on and off all by herself and rock too.


Is starting to become more and more affectionate giving lots of kisses and hugs to us, “Bubba” and some of her toys.


We’ve tried potty training a few more times, but have tabled it for now after some meltdowns on her part.


Loves all my kitchen stuff and is constantly pulling it out to play with. If you ask her what she’s making the answer is always, “beans.”


She still loves reading and books. I basically read to her all day long.

She’s starting to put together simple phrases like, “Go buh-bye nn car” or “I vvoo you, nigh nigh” and “I see you”. She is a big time chatter box, but I don’t understand half of it.

She’s a climber. She’s figured out how to get into our big armchair by herself, she can squeeze through the bars of the stairs and go up them, she tries to climb in the tub, on the couch and up into her highchair, in cabinets, the glider, or anything else she can climb including me.

I catch her talking to herself and making faces at herself in the mirror in her room all the time. It’s pretty cute.

Dinner with Bean often exasperates me. I hate, hate, hate that she’s picky and sometimes won’t even eat stuff that I know she likes and has eaten lots of times before.

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Almond Yogurt Apple Dippers

Remember in preschool when you would get peanut butter on apples? Well, I guess I must be doing something wrong because I can never get the nut butter to stick to the apples when I try to recreate this at home. Anyway yogurt, almond butter and honey happen to be some of my most favorite things right now and I combined them into this yummy treat that can be had as breakfast or a snack. Unlike a thick nut butter, the apple slices can scoop and dip into this easily. And unlike the apple dippers you see in fast food restaurants and grocery stores with carmel (pure sugar) as an attempted healthy alternative to things like chips or fries, these actually are healthy. *Bean loves it.

Ingredients
-1/2 cup homemade crockpot yogurt (I like to use 1/2 gallon raw milk + 1 quart raw cream + yogurt starter and then I strain about half of it using a seive lined with muslin then I mix it back with the unstrained half for optimum consistency)
-2 tbsp almond butter with sea salt
-1/2 tsp raw unfiltered wildflower honey
-1 tsp flax meal
-1 apple, sliced

Mix all ingredients together except apple. Use apples to dip in yogurt mixture.

*But Bean is allergic to dairy, right? Well, I’ve been doing some reading and researching about casein allergies. I’ve found a few places that talk about raw milk and yogurt helping to cure them. A few places also said that it made them worse. So we’re trying it out and watching carefully for any problems or reactions. I also read that there are different kinds of casein. Humans and certain breeds of cows (Frisians, Guernseys), sheep and goats produce milk that has type A2 casein and most other breeds of cows produce milk with either type A1 only or a mixture of A1 and A2. So, she may just be allergic to type A1 casein. I think it’s all very facinating. Facination is good, it keeps me from being frustrated with food allergies.

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The year of 16 vegetables

My mom recently purchased a survivalist garden kit which had sixteen different vegetable seeds and enough of each of those seeds to make a really huge garden. She split the seeds up amongst herself, my sister and I, and some coworkers. It’s a lot of seeds.


Bean sitting on the steps up to our garage with our portion of the seeds.


Homemade seed labels with *super cool* Microsoft Word Clipart! (heavy sarcasm in there)

I started my first round of sprouts with Bean today. My plan is to sprout a few more in a couple weeks and on and on so that the different veggies will be ready throughout the summer/fall instead of one huge harvest all at once like I had last year with 9 heads of lettuce that bombarded me.

Bean had so much fun helping me, especially with the dirt part. Actually, she kept having fun with the dirt part long after I was done with it.


Putting potting soil into the planters.


She discovered the spade about halfway in and decided it was her new favorite thing.

Once we have sprouts and we clean up the “backyard” and mix in the soil booster, we will plant them all.


Everything planted and waiting to sprout.

I am also hoping to convince Stephen to let me do compost again. Last year I did one in a plastic container and it stunk really bad and had lots of flies and he hated it and said I could never do it again. I am hoping if I do it on the ground though it will not stink or turn into a black soup that breeds flies.

Anyway, that’s what we’re up to among other things. I also realized that I still haven’t completely finished my food series the way I want to. I want to do one more post explaining in more detail where we are at right now in what we think about food and the resources that led us to this way of thinking. I have more books to read before I can do that though.

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Vikings and such

We went to the Scandinavian Festival at Cal Lutheran University today. Lots of fun and good food.

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Knot Tied

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Sprout – month three

So I had this whole long post that I was writing the last few days in my head and then life got a little crazy in the form of my youngest sister announcing that she is getting married tomorrow and my other sister flying down with her husband from Oregon and basically I can’t even remember all the stuff I was going to say.

But look! Cute chubby baby!

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A Mediterranean feast

After finally finishing Three Cups of Tea and coming across a recipe for Tandoori chicken kebabs in my cookbook during menu planning last week, I had a craving. I wanted lamb kebabs instead of chicken though and most of the recipes for lamb that I found were the typical roasted lamb chops with mint sauce. So, I decided to make my own up because that’s what I do.

I looked over several of the Tandoori chicken recipes and ingredients in Tandoori paste to try and figure out the commonalities between them. Some used yogurt as a dipping sauce and spices as a dry rub, some used yogurt and spices in a marinade, some did both. All of the recipes had most of these ingredients in common: yogurt, ginger, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, lemon juice, salt, majoram and saffron.

I also know that I’m not a huge fan of super spicey things so I didn’t really want to follow a recipe anyway so that I could put in the amounts that may not be traditional, but also wouldn’t leave me gulping several glasses of milk in order to make it through dinner. So this is what I came up with.

Tandoori Marinated Lamb Kebabs

Ingredients
-2 lamb steaks, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes (luckily this craving came right around Passover when Trader Joe’s usually carries some excellent pastured New Zealand lamb)
-2/3 cup yogurt (we used So Delicious brand cultured coconut milk so that Bean could enjoy the meal with us)
-1/2 tsp ginger
-2 cloves garlic, pressed
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/8 tsp chili powder
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-4 cracks of sea salt on my sea salt cracker/shaker
-6 threads saffron
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1/4 tsp majoram

Mix all ingredients except lamb together in a small prep bowl.

Pour marinade over lamb and mix well to coat evenly.

Now, I did this in the morning and the meat sat in the marinade all day in our fridge. I’m sure an hour or two would probably be sufficient though. Remove meat from fridge 20 minutes prior to grilling.

Preheat grill to 425°F.

Skewer meat. If you want, you can put onions and bell pepper in between the pieces of meat (some of the recipes I looked at did that with the chicken) or you can just do all-meat skewers which is what we did.

Place on grill. Grill for 5-6 minutes, turn once, and grill for 5-6 minutes more.

I forgot to get a picture of the meat on the skewers, but here it is on a plate after we removed the skewers.

I had purchased some whole wheat pitas at the farmer’s market so I decided to make some rice pilaf and hummus to go with which kind of turned it into more of a Mediterranean meal than a Tandoori one. Oh well, pita, hummus, and rice pilaf are good. Mmmm…

Rice Pilaf

Ingredients
-1 tbsp butter (again in consideration of Bean’s food allergies we used Earth Balance made with olive oil, but regular butter would taste and be so much better for you so use that)
-2 cups brown basmati rice
-1 pinch saffron
-1 quart chicken stock
-2 bay leaves
-salt to taste

Place all ingredients in rice cooker and turn it on (I’m really terrible at making rice, but if you know how to do it properly on the stove by all means do so).

This was my first hummus making experience. I’ve always just purchased it pre-made, but it is so simple, I don’t know why I never tried to make it on my own before.

Hummus

Ingredients
-1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-2 cloves of garlic, pressed
-2 tbsp Tahini sauce
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 tsp paprika
-salt to taste

Place all ingredients in food processer or blender and pulse until smooth. Serve with warm pita.

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My food journey, part 3: Life changes and bumps in the road

I was completely revulsed by what I read about the food industry in Fast Food Nation. I was also overwhelmed. Back in 2003, you couldn’t just walk into any store and find free-range, grass-fed, organic, rBST-free, etc. type stuff. There were only a couple places you could find it in Bakersfield and it was expensive. My husband’s income from his first post-college job was not huge. But I knew I just couldn’t put regular meat from the grocery store or from fast food restaurants into my body knowing what I knew about the meat industry in particular. Despite reading several passages aloud from the book, Stephen was not really convinced or impacted. So I retreated back to vegetarianism and continued to prepare meat for him and nearly gag every time I did.

But as with any shock to the system, we humans get over it and tend to go back to our old ways with time. And that is what I did. Stephen and I were busy with work, church, and life. Sometimes it was just impossible to find the time and energy to cook decent food and actually sit down together and eat it instead of shoveling crap food into our faces as we rushed down the road to the next activity.

We need reminders and wakeup calls from time to time to get back on track and do what we know is right. For me that next wakeup call was watching the movie, Supersize Me. Stephen and I were both really grossed out after watching that movie and basically didn’t eat any McDonald’s level fast food for over a year.

The next bump in the road for us was when I got promoted to editor at my job (um yeah, I used to be an editor and I know my grammar around here often sucks. Self editing is hard. Don’t judge.) because this meant longer hours for me, particular on production days, work that left me even more drained, and taking work home with me (I would often print off proofs and take them home to edit). We were also really, really involved at church during this time with Stephen leading a worship service on Wednesdays, teaching music theory to upcoming musicians at the church, worship team practices, filling in at other services from time to time, other church events that were held a lot, and Sunday mornings as well.

I was drained much of the time and I didn’t really think it was fair that in addition to working just as many hours at a “real” job, that I was then supposed to cook dinner for both of us and clean up the kitchen and other parts of the house, too. Stephen only really knew how to make a couple dishes though, so the only other choice in the matter was once again fast food and convenience food.  Ugh.

Then I got pregnant and I was so sick that I just really couldn’t cook. So we continued eating more fast food and convenience food. At one point in the pregnancy, Stephen’s mom organized people from the church to bring us meals, but we mainly ate out. Just when I was recovering and getting a good system down of cooking us good food, baking my own bread, getting veggies from a CSA after we moved here, and rarely eating out I got pregnant and felt really sick and tired again. So the fast food and convenience food items returned once more. This time we tried to have more “quality” versions from Trader Joe’s and restaurants like Chipotle, but it was still not the best stuff we could be having.

Since having Sprout I have been cooking more and more. I try to go to the Farmer’s Market at least once a week for our veggies. I plan out our menu around what is in season and I try to only buy meats from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, though I know this isn’t even completely the best stuff that we should be eating. 

Prior to watching Food Inc., though, I often felt like the grocery store was a battleground with Stephen. We have been grocery shopping together since sometime after I became pregnant with Sprout and while I enjoyed the extra help out when it came to heavy lifting, I hated trying to justify every purchase such as the more expensive organic milk versus the regular milk that is just rBST free. The last few times I’ve gone grocery shopping by myself with both kids during the day (which, let me tell you is asking for a meltdown and leaves me feeling half-crazy) just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

I think this is a thing of the past though when you consider the following conversation at dinner the night after watching Food Inc. with him..

Stephen: So, you know a couple weeks ago when you had me pick up some chicken for dinner?

Me: Yeah.

Stephen: Is Foster Farms an OK brand to buy?

Me: Um, no, I don’t think so. I usually just like to get our meat at Trader Joe’s and I get the organic stuff.

Stephen: Well, they are always the ones advertising that they are more natural or whatever.

Me: Yeah, just because they market themselves that way doesn’t mean it is necessarily true.

The fact that he’s probably thinking, “Oh crap, what did I put in my body two weeks ago?” is a very good sign.

I know I still have a lot to learn about food and can be better, but this is a journey, afterall. Some days are just filled with crying babies that leave me physically and emotionally exhausted. So we do eat out still from time to time. When we do have to eat out, we try to pick places where they say they are serving organic food. We don’t eat at McDonald’s or Taco Bell or Carl’s or places at that level, period.

Looking back I realize that I had a great opportunity during my childhood that I often took for granted. As it stands, I would honestly be willing to give a whole lot to be able to live on a similar ranch again so I could raise my own animals the way I want and plant my own garden too. It may have been a lot of work, but I think the benefits reaped are so, so worth it.

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My food journey, part 2: Teens and young-adulthood

My vegetarianism stints throughout junior high and high school never really lasted long and when they did I often cheated. The thing is that despite growing up around food and to a certain extent, farming, I really knew very little about preparing food well.

My sister, Andrea, recently said to me that she never could understand why anyone would want to be a vegetarian until she started learning how to prepare good food. When you grow up eating vegetables that are frozen or canned and then microwaved, it’s pretty easy to see why.

Processed food was a huge staple of my family’s diet. I don’t blame my parents for this at all. I know that they did the best they could with the knowledge they had and the resources they had to work with. If you’ve seen Food Inc., you know all about how basically junk food is subsidised by our government. Hamburger Helper is cheap and easy to prepare. So please don’t judge my parents for “ruining” what was mainly grass-fed beef with these meals in a box.

When my parents split up, maintaining the ranch became pretty much impossible. So we moved and my dad got a Costco membership. Enter in even more processed food. We still consumed large amounts of meat that we bought in bulk there, but this was accompanied by the same staples. He also started getting a lot of pre-prepared meals there like the skillet meal in a bag types, frozen lasagna, pasta to be topped with sauces from a jar, chicken pot pies, Hot Pockets, and other things that he knew would be easy for my sisters and I to prepare on our own.

Cable television had always been seen as somewhat of a necessity in our home growing up. I don’t even really remember a time when we didn’t have it. In some ways though, I say thank God for cable television because that is how and where I learned to cook. Watching Emeril started out as a fun thing to do with my dad. For the first time I realized, “Whoa, cooking can be so much fun and so interesting. It doesn’t have to be this awful hard chore.” When they added the Food Network to our channel lineup I was so excited. I quickly had several favorites shows.

Soon after that something just snapped in me and I knew that I could not stand to eat another pot pie or Hot Pocket ever again (OK, well lets be honest here I did when I was desperate and there was nothing else to eat in the house, but still). I remember one day I just got online and started printing off recipe after recipe that I wanted to try on little notecards to fill the little recipe box I purchased at  the drugstore that was around the corner (which sits to this day in my kitchen). Some of my recipes were total flops. For instance, the first time I tried to make alfredo sauce I burned the rue three times (darn old electric stove!) before giving up and making a box of Pasta Roni instead. Other things were really good though, like after one of my dad’s annual fishing trips when I made a seared tuna steak topped with a mixture of tomatoes, garlic and olives in a white wine sauce.  

Processed food didn’t just go away though. Even though I knew freshly prepared food was fairly easy to make and tasted better, I still ate fast food and convenience food when I got too busy or when I was just tired and didn’t feel like cooking. Plus, my sisters were often very critical of my food or because of being guinea pigs were afraid to try new things I would make in case it was a flop.

Then, I married Stephen who basically grew up the same way I did eating lots of processed food and veggies prepared the same microwaved way. It took me a long time to convince him that veggies could be good because of this. In our first apartment, we had the pot pies and Hot Pockets right there in the freezer to be had when I was too busy with school to cook or nights when we had church activities immediately after work/school and no time to cook. We ate a lot of fast food too. Some of it was better than others, but a lot of it was the really cheap gross stuff like McDonalds and Taco Bell.

However, it was a “fast food” trip to Jamba Juice on my way to school one morning that would completely change my life with regards to food. In addition to their smoothies, Jamba usually has a shelf or two of other items available including biking apparel, juicers (of course), blenders, cookbooks and other literature that fit with the Jamba lifestyle. While waiting in line to place my order for a smoothie in the late fall of 2003, I decided to pick up a couple books, they were Consumer Joe (very funny, but not the life changing one) and Fast Food Nation.

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