Friday, May 28, 2010

More Thrift Store Treasures!

No, just because I haven't posted any of my thrift store finds lately doesn't mean I stopped thrifting, I have just had very little time for blogging!

I got two of each of these a few weeks ago. I have decided that colored pressed glass is my favorite thing to buy. It just seems so beautiful, especially the lighter colors.

 Do you see what I mean about the colored glass? These were such fabulous deals that I couldn't pass them up! The glasses were 4 for a $1! The blue candy dish stole my heart and I couldn't leave without it.
These are some nice plate shelves I found that I thought I might be able to use to display some of my pressed glass plates but I think they might be too country for my style, even if I did paint them black. What do you think?
And this cute little trivet had to come home with me but not for long. As soon as I saw him I knew he was destined to go to a friend. Isn't he adorable? If it still had him I think I might name him Albert.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Garden in May

Do you remember what my garden looked like a month ago? Isn't it amazing what one month can do? My broccoli is gigantic, though sadly, one of them died of some kind of wilt. We have been enjoying lettuce and peas and soon we will have beet greens! The summer crops have all gone in, though I definitely want to add a few more peppers, but I will buy those already grown and plant them in the next week or so.

Look in the foreground of the pictures and you can see what look like weeds but are actually strawberry plants! I planted 18 Everbearing strawberry plants and if I am lucky I will get a small harvest in September.

I have two tomato plants in the front garden beds, two in pots in the back and three still under the lights in the basement! Canning tomatoes this year will be a stupendous endeavor!

I decided to plant some marigolds because they are pretty AND they deter pests. So far so good. Here are some things that I have learned recently:
  •  Plant WAY more peas! I only planted 3 seeds to begin with and this variety really likes to be close with other pea plants and produces better when it is; plus I didn't plant enough for our enjoyment. These peas are very sweet and wonderful tasting right out of the shell.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch! Right after I plant seeds I really need to mulch next time. The sun just baked my carrot, spinach and scallion seedlings despite diligent watering. I only have 4 carrots, 3 scallions and 5 spinach plants from the initial 20 or so seeds I sowed for each variety!
  • Plan on planting garlic rather than planting it as an after-thought after some cloves sprouted in my pantry. They need to be planted earlier. I have two that are going strong, though, so I should at least make up for that.
I love my garden and so does Andrew. Despite the work that it entails Andrew and I really enjoy working in the garden together. Oh! I checked on my composting worms today and they are doing great! I found tons of cocoons and they seem quite happy. I am glad that they are so easy to take care of!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Changing The Way We Eat

A moment of Ravenna for those who read this blog only to see her
Now, for everyone else...

Everyone has their own ideas of what is "healthy" eating or on the other side of the spectrum don't really care what they eat; whatever is cheapest and easiest. Some people follow the fad diets, others are religiously low fat, or high protein. Over the years since my diagnosis with insulin resistance/pre-diabetes DrewCarrie tried many a different diet plan in an effort to stay healthy and feel great.

The first post-diagnosis diet was the diabetes recommended "low fat/sugar; high fiber/protein" diet which meant that I was basically allowed to eat beans and vegetables. I felt miserable and that diet lasted only about a month. When I got pregnant we went on the "fast food/cereal/ice cream diet. This was probably not the best food for a fetus, but I am sure many pregnant women will understand. After Ravenna was born and I found myself as a stay-at-home mom in the lonely state of Wyoming we began the "Mormon Mommy" diet which was based around low-cost meals and jello salads. This was a good learning time for me as I learned to plan menu's and make meals from scratch. I also developed the skill of making bread from a starter culture which was a precursor to my life-changing discovery, but more on that later.

After we moved to Pennsylvania I started experimenting a bit with vegetarian cooking, unfortunately for my Father-in-law. No offense to vegetarians, but most vegetarian meals lack a satisfying flavor and texture and my cooking self-esteem took a huge hit. Then at 15 months Ravenna developed some nasty digestive issues and so began the "elimination diet" saga. We went dairy-free, soy-free, and any other free you can think of until we found gluten-free. While I am not sure being gluten-free made a big difference for Ravenna, it sure did for me and that discovery is what led me to our final destination:  Traditional Foods.

Through the blogosphere I discovered that many gluten-free bloggers also followed a diet based around a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions which lays the foundation for a Traditional Foods diet. Most simply this book says that the way your ancestors ate is the way you should eat and that diet will enable our bodies to function best. That idea really struck a chord with me and given my recent readings of In Defense of Food and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I embraced the idea wholeheartedly. I felt that in all my culinary wanderings, I had finally found my home. With Andrew's blessing, DrewCarrie once again radically changed our diet.

 The "Fermentation Station"
Fermenting Sauerkraut and Water Kefir

To give you a basic idea,  this is what eating a Traditional Foods diet entails for us: 
  • Sprouting, fermenting, and soaking foods to make them more nutrient dense and digestible.
  • Very liberally using good, natural fats in our diets such as butter, EVOO, palm shortening, extra-virgin coconut oil and even lard (read this enjoyable article if you don't believe me).
  • No processed or artificial ingredients especially MSG, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar substitutes
  • Buy as many locally sourced, pasture-raised animal products as possible. I learned in my four years in the FFA that the way that you treat animals raised for meat/dairy/eggs does matter very much in the quality of the product. It makes sense to me that it is safer and more nutritious to eat products produced by animals that eat a natural diet and that are cared for in a humane fashion. Food safety is a HUGE problem in the US, mainly because of the way factory farms raise their animals/crops. Yes, I pay more for what we eat but I do so with the assurance that if I have a concern, I can go straight to the source.
  • No refined sugar and using natural sugars sparingly. We use Sucanat/Rapadura, honey, maple and date sugars.
This is a very general picture of what we do. If you were to classify this diet into a group I would call this a "whole foods" diet. After gradually easing into this diet for a number of months I am finding my stride. There is a lot to learn (hello! Eating like a Pioneer, people!) but there have been so many rewards so far. I have found that eating a TF diet helps me to feel the best, Andrew loves it and Ravenna's digestive issues have gone away. This is the diet that works best for OUR family. While I believe that most, if not all, people could benefit from aspects of eating a traditional foods diet, I don't believe that it is right for everyone. This works for us and we are very happy!