Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chicken Run

So we are the proud owners of a tiny backyard flock of chickens. There is great excitement here! Here they are:

They could not be any cuter if they tried. (Unless perhaps, they were baby ducks. I think baby ducks take the record for cutest tiny animal ever.) :D

We got these five different kinds: Wellsummer, Ameraucana (tw0 of these), Barred Rock, Gold Laced Wyandotte, and a Speckled Sussex. What great names! They will have varied shades of brown and the Ameraucanas will lay blueish green eggs. It will be quite some time before we expect to see them, but still, it is fun to think about. We are going to use the under-area of our raised beds as their run. Double use of one space!

Can you tell we are excited? Yeah, I thought so. :+)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooking Bliss

I have been having great fun trying new things here and I have been pouring over recipes to find new and different (read that - healthier) ways of eating and feeding the children. The soaking flour to make bread has been a wild success. The bread loaves are solid (after a little tweaking of the water/acid content) and the bread is sweet and yeasty. They smell just like professional loaves! I have never been able to create that and now I know why - the bread was being made too quickly and the ingredients didn't have time to really mesh all those flavors together. I am very happy to have all the flavors, but even better, the nutritional value of the bread is higher too. :)

I have been using coconut oil for some time, but I use two different kinds. The first is the one I use for frying or sauteing when I am not using olive oil or butter, because it does not have a coconut flavor. This is the best price I have found for such a high quality oil:

1-gallon Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Non-Certified

It lasts for a long time and doesn't go bad! I scoop out some of the oil and put it in a smaller container for easy use. In the winter it is a solid, but with the summer heat, it turns to an oil. So, if you want it to be hard to use in place of shortening, keep some in the fridge. I watch the website for free shipping coupons. (There is one going on right now! The number is 61113.)

32-oz. - 2-Jar Pack - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 2 quarts Total

This is the *top* of the line virgin coconut oil is a truly unrefined coconut oil. It has the most wonderful coconut flavor and is rich in antioxidants. This is what we use in our baked goods, especially our whole wheat bread. It is SO GOOD. :)

Since I have been reading up on how dangerous white sugar really is for our bodies, I wanted to find something that we could use now and then for sweets. No "sugar" is going to be perfect, and I have found that we have to be careful how much we ingest of anything, but this is about is good as it gets!

Organic Whole Cane Sugar - 1.5 lbs.

It is sweet enough when you want something sweet in your hot cereal, but the sugar retains the original natural vitamins and minerals it had to help with digestion.

So these are just a few of the things we have been using. It is exciting to make these changes and I am grateful for the information I am reading. :)

The yogurt I made last week has been a huge hit! I used about 2 cups of it in a smoothie for the children and mixed it with frozen strawberries, a ripe banana, and added some milk. They said it was one of the best smoothies they had ever had. This mama loves to hear those words. :)

I managed to mess up my last sourdough starter by using a too-tight lid on the crock I have, so last night I started another one from here. I used 100% whole wheat flour so we shall see if it works for me. Making sourdough cannot be *that* hard, right? :)

What is new in your kitchen? How does your garden grow? Here are a few pictures of mine.

If you click on them, they will enlarge. That last one is just so pretty. Bachelor's Buttons - one of my favorites. Happy summer!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I can see clearly now...

The rain is gone! June is finally looking like June in California. :) Yeah!

So much has been happening here. Our gardens are growing well and we are already harvesting summer squash. I have been sauteing it with onions, garlic, red bell pepper, sausage and mixing that into scrambled eggs. We top it off with cheese. Yum! Our "pig experiment" worked fantastically and I can tell you from first-hand experience that fresh pork is The. Best. pork you have ever had. Even the sausage is superb. We will cook our last ham tomorrow.

I have been like a whirlwind in the kitchen this last month. I have been reading all sorts of books on nutrition and health and wanted to share a bit of that here. The first book is actually the second on the subject that I read, by Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Not only is it FULL of fantastic recipes, but the author, Sally Fallon, also explains the "why" behind the food choices we should make. I have been a busy mama trying recipes in Nourishing Traditions and visiting my old favorite resources online searching out how to make sourdough starter, ferment my bread, (and here is why), sprout my wheat, and ferment oatmeal! I am also trying to make yogurt in the crockpot (Update! It worked!!) It is very exciting to me to see that we can make changes that are worthwhile to all of us even if we are being careful with the amount of carbohydrates and sugars we ingest. The children have gotten on board and have been excited to see what we should and what we shouldn't do. I love the conversations about what is going on inside our bodies. They are really listening. :)

If you are interested, but want a "primer" on the subject, this article might help to flesh out the information. I found it fascinating reading.

And lastly, I wanted to let you know of an online homeschool supply resource that I literally found by accident one day while searching for Omnibus. It is a wonderful homeschool family company that has a LOT to offer--even used books at reduced prices! Check them out!

Exodus Books - Educational Materials, New and Used Books, Family-Friendly Literature, and More!

Exodus Books - Educational Materials, New and Used Books, Family-Friendly Literature, and More!