Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eye Openers

Breakfast used to be for me a haphazard affair. Rushing around to get out the door on time for work and still getting my early internet fix was often a challenge. When the boys were at home, they craved sweet stuff in the morning. If I had known then, what I know now, they would have gotten a much healthier meal before heading off to school. I'm not surprised, looking back, that they hated school.

Based on what they ate in the morning, they arrived hopped up on sugar and carbs and crashed around 10 a.m. At lunch they got whatever the cafeteria was serving. My boys refused to carry their lunches to school. I could never figure this out as they could have had anything they wanted. I did not learn until recently that kids who carried their lunches were abused by bullies who wanted anything but what was being served in the cafeteria.It was safer to just eat what the cafeteria offered and at least eat; than it was to risk bringing something the bully coveted and eat nothing and risk a beating. Yes, I'm disgusted that this happened to my kids and sad that they did not tell me.

The reason they didn't tell me was because they knew I would raise an unholy war against those bullies and they feared that life would become even rougher for them if I lost.

But, if I knew then what I know now; there would have been other changes (including homeschooling no matter what). But one change would have been a better breakfast.

So, what do I eat today? It varies but one thing I always consume every morning is high vitamin cod liver oil. Then I have either a pint of bone broth with a teaspoon of coconut oil, a couple of eggs with bacon, or a smoothy made with full fat yogurt, a raw egg, raw milk, and carrot or tart cherry juice. If fruit is in season, I'll add a peach or blueberries or blackberries. If I have some frozen, I'll add them when I'm out of my carrot juice. Any of these choices keeps me hard at work and filled with energy until just before or just after noon.

Monday, December 26, 2011


In additional to raising my little sheep for wool, I hope someday to add chickens back to our yard. With luck, that will be this Spring.

According to my parents, Ken and I will take over their property when they either no longer can manage the place or they pass on. I'm hoping they will let us start expanding our efforts to be more self-sustaining over the next couple of years. One thing I want to do this Spring is be the orchard back on track and plant some asparagus plants over there. I'm tempted to install other vegetables over there, but I'm concerned about the time commitment at this point with my job.

My mom has a lovely flower garden surrounding her pool and told me today her goal is to get the shady part in the wooded area near there, to become beautifully filled with woodland type flowers and plants.

I am going to attempt a strawbale garden here at my current home this Spring. If I can figure out how to grow potatoes successfully, I will feel confident that we can grow enough food to survive should something terrible happen to our world. I do plan to order seeds for a homesteading garden this winter.

I hope eventually to take over the three open acres where my parents live and raise a a milk cow along with a few dual purpose sheep. And someday I really, really want to get my own dairy cow. I may go with a Jersey for milk to start and hope that her first calf is a male so we can eat him. There are enough woods there, I can probably tuck a pig into a pen back there and get all the pork we could ever use.

Ultimately (and this is a big dream as I'm not a spring chicken anymore), I would like to get my hands on a section of land around the corner from Mom & Dad's that has about 5 acres open and 23 acres in woodland. The biggest challenge with this piece of land is the steep hills in the woods running down the backside of it and the lack of potable water on the property now. Fortunately, I do know someone who has a tractor and the ability to run it who could install a pond for me.

And perhaps, should things go very, very bad out in the world; my boys could come home and be sustained by the farm. But that, of course, would be up to them.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Late to the Party

I want to know how I failed to hear about the Locavore Movement in 2006? I was here.

But here it is six years later, and I'm only really just discovering this. Weston A. Price Foundation has helped by talking about seasonal eating. I've been making serious moves into raising my own beef, lamb, eggs, chickens and salad for about a year now. I still have a way to go on this, but at least I'm moving in the right direction.

But I only just found this  in Time Magazine today. And it's from 2006!

Okay, so I'm late. But let's see where I am. I found a website called Free Map Tools that lets me run a radius around my home. At 100 miles, my limit for food sourcing runs right to Dale City, Virginia; right through the heart of Richmond City; and right up to Newport News. My circle does include the Chesapeake Bay and most of the Potomac River and the Eastern Shore. If you want to see where I am, (or play with this and see where you are), click on this website and then type in my zip code: 22473.

Now, what I get to keep in my food list is significant: Seafood! The Chesapeake Bay provides an abundance of local seafood including Blue Crab, oysters, mussels, clams, croakers, seabass, bluefish, and an occasional shark and ray along with interesting local fish like eel. There are fresh water tributaries which host fish like blue catfish, channel catfish and sunfish. Sometimes you can pull a nice bass out of a local, stocked pond; but you gotta know someone to get there.

What is not on my list is a place to get coffee, molasses, sugar or black tea. I can get herbal teas, honey, and I can probably score some sorgum if I look hard enough. I will have to figure out how to source the basics for the kombucha, however.

I can get all of my meat, eggs, and milk locally, but butter in any quantity might be a problem, depending on where the butter I had been getting in two pound rolls is sourced. Pecans and peanuts are not a problem and I can probably get walnuts from time to time. I can grow sunflower for seed and I can get plenty of pumpkin seeds when they are in season. I'm not worried about vegetables and most fruits either as our local farm markets and farmer's markets are well stocked.

Of course, this project assumes I don't start this today but wait until Spring when I can start stocking up on veggies I passed by last time they were in season. This go round, I would need to preserve as much of the bounty as I can while it's in bounty. If I ddn't do that, we would go many months without green veggies. I would need to find a good source for paste tomatoes or grow a mess of them myself successfully. Not as easy as it should be considering I work full time away from home. I can grow lettuces in a sunny window through the winter, along with bean sprouts, but would need to get those seeds brought in from outside of the area.

But looking at my pantry now, I have things on there that I know I will miss: anchovies both dried and canned, sardines, olive oil, capers, tapioca and salt, fresh oranges, lemon and lime juice and cous cous are among the things I would miss. I think I could find a local farmer who raises wheat and rye for bread, but I'm not sure I could find one who is doing it organically or even GMO free. I can get corn meal and grits from George Washington's Birthplace and it's really good stuff.

100-mile buying would probably eliminate rice and most pasta from our diet and while I might make pasta from scratch for special occasions if I can get the flour, coconut meal and coconut oil would be out.

From what I've read, fair trade commodities are permitted. I'm thinking that a 50 pound bag of organic flour purchased once, uses up less petroleum resources than a 5 pound bag purchased once every month or so. If I put all those bulk purchases into a one-time UPS delivery, then I might be doing better to get a 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil, a large order of tea, sea salt,and flour all at one time. Olive oil can be ordered by the gallon and I imagine the sardines, lime juice and capers could be ordered by the case.

I know folks in the Northern Neck have been making do on the local scene for literally centuries. George Washington's birthplace, while heavily dependent on slave labor, did manage to be; for the most part, self sufficient. Their cash crop of tobacco, allowed them to order silk and other other fabric from England. But they even able to produce much of their own basic fabric made from hemp, linen and wool. They did import some sugar, rum, wine, and lemons and other hard to produce local items. But they had an amazing assortment of goods that were produced locally.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dreams and Dirt Clods

I want to get back to where I was about 10 years ago when I had an outstanding herb garden and also was able to grow some of my own vegetables and did some wild harvesting.

I would like to do at least two things this Spring -- put in an asparagas bed here and at my parent's home and plant blue berry bushes in both locations. I guess that is four things, but it is two types of plants. The reason I want to include the property at Mom and Dad's it will eventually become my home. If I can get a long term, perennial program going at this location with the pecan trees already in place, that will give me enough extra produce, that I might have something worthwhile to sell locally in years to come.

I also want to get back to the herb gardening. And I would love to get us going again on raising our own vegetables.

We did raise a couple of things each year with sugar snap peas, spinach and a tomato plant; but that's not enough to put food by for the winter. I've been relying on local farm stands to purchase large quantities (like tomatoes, so I can make sauces and kraut. There's nothing wrong with that, but it does get expensive and I'd rather spend my money on locally produced meat.

I would also like to get our chickens back. I do believe I can run them in with the sheep and build them a little coop where they can sleep at night and lay their eggs.

And I am going to talk to our new neighbors about leasing some land where I can plant it with pasture and either expand my sheep operation or get a milking cow (or both).

Friday, December 16, 2011


Oysters are a delicacy almost everywhere in this country, I think. But they are native to the Chesapeake Bay region. My dad has floaters full of oysters tied off of his dock, so if I really have a terrible craving for these shellfish, I can drive over, walk down to the dock, pull out a dozen and put them in a bucket of clean water overnight then shuck them out the next day. Or, I can do what most folks around here do, and go down to the fish market and buy a jar (pint or quart) for about the cost of labor someone was paid to shuck 12 to 15 of them, plus a bit for the shop.

Now, I'm not over fond of raw oysters but I love them most any other way you can prepare them. I am very fond of them roasted in the shell and dribbled with a bit of melted butter,  lemon and sea salt. I love oyster stew. But my most favorite is fried and served up in a Po-Boy sandwich.

Now, to make a Po-Boy in the past, I would have just breaded them up with any old egg and some House of Autry seasoned corn flour and fried them in a bit of canola oil and served them on white bread toast with some mayonnaise and hot sauce. I might even have topped it off with some onion slices and a bit of tomato and some lettuce if I was feeling like I wanted a healthy thing to eat.

But now, I know better.

So, how do I convert this old favorite to WAP standards?

First thing is to make a batch of sourdough bread rolls. This requires a couple of days preparation but because I now keep a sourdough starter and sprouted flour on hand, it's not quite as discouraging as it might have been. With just the two of us in the house, I've taken to making a batch of rolls (which are really just small loaves of bread) and freezing extras. This makes for quick sandwich meals when we need it.

Oyster season, runs from late October if the water gets cold enough, until late March. You want the water from which your oysters are harvested to be as cold as possible and, frankly, I think right around Winter Solstice until late February is best. If ice is forming in the morning in the animal's watering bowls, it's cold enough.

I make my own bread and butter pickles in the summer at the height of cucumber season, so I have jars and jars of them in my pantry. I grow spinach on a windowsill throughout most of the winter to add a leaf or two to soups, salads or sandwiches. . 

I make my own mayonnaise from olive oil, flax oil whey, and pastured eggs with a little mustard and salt. I also make fermented catsup. From this I make a lovely little pink dressing with two tablespoons of mayo, a tablespoon of pickle juice, a little hot sauce and a teaspoon of catsup and a tiny dab of fermented horseradish sauce.

Okay, so, this very convoluted, but once you have all of the above together, you want to soak some non-GMO organic corn meal in a little water and yogurt or kefir. It will make a bit of a paste. Let this sit for several hours or overnight. Season the cornmeal paste with some paprika, sea salt and black pepper. I also like to add a touch of Cayenne Pepper but it's not necessary unless you like it hot.  In a separate bowl, whisk a large pastured egg (you will need two to do a whole dozen oysters, but use them one at a time). Drag an oyster through the cornmeal, then dip it in the egg. Yes, I know that seems backwards, but the egg makes a coating that holds it together somehow. Let it rest for a bit while your lard heats up. Yes, I said lard. Nothing else makes this work right, in my opinion. You want your fat to be about an inch deep in a fairly deep pan to keep the spattering to a minimum. Don't turn the heat up to high or you risk a fire. Just over medium is usually just right. When you hear it crackle, put in your first oyster and cook on one side for about 3 minutes until just turning brown. Roll it over in the fat to cook the other side. This side will only take about 2 minutes (if that). Cook them about 4 or 5 at a time. Don't crowd them. Hold in warm oven when done until the whole batch is cooked.

To assemble your sandwiches: Slice open your roll. Dig out a little bread top and bottom. Spread your sauce on top and bottom (inside). Put a few spinach leaves with stems removed. Add a layer of bread and butter pickles or pickled onions or both. Top that with thin slices of tomato if you can find a nice one in December, if not, add some fermented purple cabbage. Then put a layer of 3 large or 4 small fried oysters. Sprinkle with fermented hot sauce Eat while hot.

Even my husband, who does not like oysters, loves these and will eat two helpings.

Serve with a slightly sweeter wine or a good dark beer to off set the spice. 

Cod Liver Oil

I was introduced to the wonders of Cod Liver Oil at the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference last year. Yes, I was introduced to a lot of stuff while there... it's taken me over a year to process it all, in fact.

I was able to sample the High Vitamin Butter Cod Liver Oil in various flavors from Radiant Life. Frankly, I wasn't overly impressed with any of them, but did purchase a bottle of the chocolate flavor anyway and brought it home. I took it home and took it only sporadically for the next several months.Then I ran out. I figured my diet was moving onto the high side with liver dishes weekly, real butter, real milk and weekly fish meals. We eat real eggs and fresh salads and lots of other healthy stuff. But after about six months without CLO, I was experiencing bouts of constipation and lower energy levels. Not much, but enough to make me go back and figure out what I was missing from the first few months. It was the CLO.

So, I went on line and looked at the prices. I balked. I really did. I held off for another three months when my friends went to the conference in Texas and I had them order me some more. Unfortunately, the shipping took the large order of CLO to my friend's place in Washington, D.C. and while it arrived there safely a couple of weeks ago, she is off traveling again and won't be home for a weekend until February when I can go pick it up.

I decided that I wanted my HVCLO now and so I put an order in directly to Radiant Life for one bottle of the chocolate HVCLO and some dried anchovies and some more bovine gelatin. The package arrived on Monday. I've been taking a teaspoonful every morning and wow! I feel much, much better. I don't know if it is directly connected, but I slept through the night last night for the first time in months. I'll have to monitor this more closely and see if there is a direct connection. Since then, I've discovered the source for the CLO: Green Pastures. You can order directly from them as well.

I think it's important to note that the best cod liver oil is fermented. I suspect there are other manufacturers out there with fermented cod liver oil, but I haven't found them yet. 

By the way, the little anchovies are the best little salad toppers! I like freaking out one of my co-workers by eating them straight out of the bag. He noted that they look like tiny snakes and since he is terrified of snakes, the idea that I'm eating them is completely horrifying to him.

I'm not sure I can convince husband to get on the CLO bandwagon. Even refrigerated with flavor, it still has a cod liver oil flavor coming through. To me, this is the taste of health, but to him it's pretty nasty. I can't even get it past his nose. So, I'm thinking of making another Radiant Life order and get him a bottle of the capsules. It sure won't hurt his cholesterol numbers and I really do want to get him off the statins. Maybe that will be the kicker.

Monday, December 12, 2011

When Spouses Come On Board

My husband got his blood work back from the doctor's office today. The first year they had him on the statins after a stent was installed in one of the arteries near his heart, his numbers were going upwards. They advised him to become even stricter with his diet and avoid all fats. They also advised him gently to quit smoking.

During the second year I went to the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference in Philadelphia and came home to start cooking with lard, pastured meats, real butter and whole, raw milk and pastured eggs. He worried. He said his doctor was going to have a fit. I told him he needed to quit smoking and it was the poisons he was eating and breathing that was causing the problems and if he would at least give real food a try, he might see some improvement.

He did try to quit smoking. In fact, he put them down for a couple of months. But this addiction is very difficult to overcome. I believe that as he gets healthier in other ways, and fewer and fewer of his friends smoke (or they die off), he will eventually find a way to quit.

In the meantime, I've been feeding him real food. It's a battle sometimes to get ferments into him. He has always liked sauerkraut, he just had never eaten it raw before. He doesn't flinch when I put fermented purple cabbage in his salads and he's come to love fermented turnip topping his mashed potatoes along with a dollop of butter and real sour cream.

Getting him to eat the pastured meat was a little tricky because I had to teach him how to cook it. He does the cooking Monday through Thursday at our house because I work and he is retired.

But we are now eating liver weekly and he's decided that liver pate is even better than liverwurst as a sandwich spread, so leftovers for him extend further into the week.

I've been cutting down on the carbs as I'm trying to lose weight. I'm sort of one of those folks who move into a new concept slowly, cut down, and cut down and will finally quit. I'm close to quitting carbs now but he still loves his potatoes and bread with his meat. We will get there.

In October he has been eating WAP food for year. Not with complete faith. But his consumption of junk food has gone almost to zero. He still cheats and eats a candybar a couple of times a month, but that's way down from all the crap he used to eat.

Guess what? He got his quarterly blood work back yesterday. His LDL is 66, his Triglycerides are 89 and his HDL is 85!. This is way better than a year ago. The doctor is impressed and told him to keep doing whatever he is doing.

I asked him if he told the doctor what we are doing and he confessed he did not. Poor doctor thinks he's following some highly restrictive, no fat, cardboard diet. At some point, he will have to tell him the truth.

In any case, I'm thinking his body is starting to heal. Now to get him off the statins.

If he could quit smoking, I think a lot of the inflammation that is causing the arterial blockages would eventually heal as well, but he's just not ready. 

He admits that he likes the "new" traditional food. Much of the food we eat reminds him of the food his grandmother in the UK used to make. He said it also reminds him of pub lunches. He talks up the real foods whenever we are with friends, so I think he is eventually going to become a real advocate.

I wonder when I will get him to drink Kombucha?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Soy Free Party Food

Tis the season for parties. And my husband and I have actually been invited to a small gathering at the home of one of my co-workers. It's a bit of a potluck with each guest bringing an hors d'oeuvre, dip or some other nibble. He has warned me that when they were purchasing their party foods, they forgot about The Soy Thing."You might want to bring something that you know is safe for you," he said, "I don't know what others are bringing."

Now, I'm not a completely unreasonable person most of the time. At least, I hope not. With family and very close friends, I do expect a modicum of respect and caring and thus my rant over the Thanksgiving meal; but I do understand that The Soy Thing can be overwhelming and downright annoying for regular people. Our office luncheon this year is being catered at $12 a plate. I did inquire as to what was being served and just told my boss and the co-worker coordinating it that while my husband (who is a volunteer at my office) will have no problem with this meal, I'll pack my own. I even offered to pay for my plate to make the budget come out right. I think they were surprised, but did not argue with me over much about it. And they did not accept my offer to pay for something I can't eat.

But here is a co-worker I actually like and who actually likes me, inviting my husband and I over for a cup of cheer and a few nibbles. He was concerned enough to warn me and that is good enough for me.

So, what shall I bring?

I'm inclined to keep it simple and go for a tray of peeled shrimp with a cocktail sauce made from fermented catsup (see page 104 in Nurturing Traditions). Note: I think she spells catsup incorrectly, but I could be the one incorrect on this.

I have some thinly sliced Wild Alaskan Salmon in my freezer. I hope to try this recipe in the future to make my own lox. I'm going to pull out a package of that and let it thaw. Then I'll take some of my yogurt cream cheese (ironically, the stuff left over from making whey) (page 87 in Nurturing Traditions), mix it with some capers, minced organic green onion and a little garlic and cumin, salt and paper. This mix will be smeared over the salmon. The salmon gets rolled up and then sliced into "wafers" or "pin wheels" and served with a little chopped parsley from my garden sprinkled over it. Red, green and white: I can't get more into the holiday spirit than that!

If I can get a good deal when I go to the fish market for the shrimp, I may also pick up a pint of fresh, local oysters and then swing by the store and get some Smithfield Bacon. Now, I do know that Smithfield is generally associated with the very evil people of big ag, and bacon with nitrates is not something I normally consume. But bacon wrapped oysters baked and sprinkled with a tiny bit of Old Bay, is just a stunningly decadent treat once a year.

It's kind of like Christmas cookies. I'm still trying to get my brain wrapped about how I will handle that dietary disaster. The Chocolate Cherry Truffles I shared here, are one idea. And I like the Sugar Plum recipe I snagged from Nourished Kitchen. I'm pretty sure I can adapt Snickerdoodles to a sprouted wheat and real butter and use organic sugars. But what is the NT answer to the white flour, white sugar, rolled and cookie cutter with colored icing? I mean, these things are memory makers for our family and my boys still talk about decorating cookies with me every year. I want a couple of cookies that I will be able to make with my future grand children that will hold the same magic for them.

Any ideas?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Better Butter

I have a new found respect for butter.

I have been purchasing wonderful, delicious salted butter in two pound rolls wrapped in waxed paper from this place for just over a year. The butter I purchase from Quail Cove Farms is from Minerva Dairy in Ohio. It's not local, but it's really good butter at a pretty good price.

I've been getting real, whole, fresh from the cow milk for a few months now. It's milk from a Jersey cow and it's wonderfully rich and the cream rises very nicely to the top. I keep the milk in 1/2 gallon jars. I've gotten in the habit of letting the milk sit in the refrigerator and wait for the cream. The next day I pour off the cream into a pint jar, and usually get about a half a pint. Then I shake the milk jar to reincorporate any cream I missed and top off my pint. This pint becomes my coffee cream (real half and half) for next several days until I use it up and attack my second half gallon. .

Well, earlier this week, I took my coffee cream with me to training. Long story short, the little lunch box cooler did not stay very cool and my cream got to room temperatures overnight. I like clabbered milk but did not really want to put it in my coffee. But I'm loath to waste such precious stuff.

So, when I got home, I poured off the clabbered cream  and fed the cats with the other bit of slightly aged milk.

The cream went into my food processor yesterday morning where it whirled for a good 20 minutes while I got dressed for work and low and behold, I got butter! There wasn't much. Just about 2 tablespoons came out of that 1/2 pint of cream. But it was real butter. And I made it myself.

Here it is in a little dish with a teaspoon next to it for size.

I was very excited and proud and shared my newest discovery with my husband who, of course, was amused by his crazy wife and paid out the required homages.

But if 1/2 pint of cream only makes two tablespoons of butter, how much cream does it take to make two pounds? I'm thinking it's a lot.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Tupperware Dilemma

When I attended the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference last year in Philadelphia, I was absolutely overwhelmed with information. I knew I could not change everything in my kitchen overnight. I didn't have the money. But over the last year, I've made quite a few changes as I learned more and figured out more.

Now, I'm thinking about food storage more and more. Most of the stuff I make in large batches is stored in glass jars. My husband is amazed at how many jars I've managed to accumulate. There are rows and rows of glass jars in my pantry and there are a bunch of them in my deep freezer as well. And many things are stored in glass in the refrigerator as well.

But, I've not yet gotten rid of all of my plastic ware.

I pack my own lunch each day before I head off to work. I've even started packing on days I have court (my job involves testifying in court once or twice a week). It was a treat for me to eat in a restaurant on a court day, but I noticed that two to three days later, my face would break out and my gut would become unhappy again. When I miraculously went a whole month without a court day (and thus, no restaurant food), I had a whole month with no skin breakouts or bowel issues. Hmmm.

But back to the plastic packaging. Putting liquids like raw milk or kombucha into pint jars makes sense. But what do I do about the meat, fermented veggies and fruit? Too many jars in a lunch box makes for a very heavy lunch box and one that makes loud clanking noises! So, I have been using small plastic ware containers to carry my food to work.

I'm not a scientist but I'm concerned that some of the acids in my food, even without heating, are causing some of the plastics to leach into my food. Not good. We do have a good set up at work now with a two burner electric stove top and a toaster oven, a full sized refrigerator. My co-workers use the microwave a lot but I avoid it. I brought in a stainless steel sauce pan and a small stainless steel tray for the toaster oven.

But now, I'm looking for a way to transport and store my lunch that is affordable and not overly heavy. I'm going to experiment with some waxed paper and keep an eye out for stainless steel containers.

If anyone can recommend something let me know.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Clutter, Chaos and Creativity

I live in an older home. It was built around 1910. I should say it was assembled because according to what we have been able to figure out since moving in over 20 years ago, the original structure had two rooms up and two rooms down. It has a front porch across the front of the house. It was a cute, tiny house. There was no indoor plumbing and the staircase was in the middle of the house. Not long after that, an additional two rooms were added at the back of the house. The rooms were stacked one above the over and a porch was added to the side. We think these rooms came along as this young farming family grew.

Then, a shed from another, older home, that had burned down, was loaded up on skids and dragged over. It was attached to the main house via the side porch. A third porch was added to the back of the house. It had a concrete floor like the other two porches. This shed was turned into the summer kitchen.

When I moved here in August of 1989, there was no front door. A pieced of plywood covered the entrance. There were pieces of an wood cook stove scattered about the summer kitchen, but there was not enough left of it to re-assemble it and make something that worked. At some point in the 1960s someone had installed a bathroom under the stairs which had been moved to one side of the house. The two back porches had been enclosed and the supporting wall had been removed. The roof had started to sag at that point and other than putting in front door, we immediately re-enforced the foundation and put in a pole to get the ceiling back into place.

Over the course of the last 20 years, we have ripped out cloth wiring, installed new plumbing, torn out rotten plaster, repaired termite damage, rebuilt part of the foundation, replaced all 42 windows and put on vinyl siding, enclosed half of the front porch and repaired the rest. We repaired the 75 year tin roof as best we could because we could not afford to replace it. The back porch became our laundry room. We have one room left to paint and that is the master bedroom. The whole house needs to be repainted and some of the floors we laid down need to be replaced (we used the cheap linoleum at the time and it's now wearing out).

This house has been a lot of work. I love that we can now open all the windows and let the prevailing breeze through and, except when temperatures exceed 90 with high humidity, the house stays pretty cool.

I also love my kitchen. Nothing is built in. All of the cabinets and counters and tables and appliances can be removed. The only fixture is the sink and I kept the giant ceramic sink that came with the house. I have my eye on a new kitchen faucet, but that is on my wish list. The water heater is in the kitchen. It was there when I moved in. Anticipating that it would probably die not long after we moved in, as it is probably older than I am (50+), we installed pipe to the laundry room and put a cap on the end. It's still doing a nice job of heating our water and as a result, I still do laundry with cold water. But eventually, it will die and we will install a new, energy efficient model in the laundry room and run the hot water from there to the rest of the house.

But back to the kitchen. Here is my kitchen table. When the boys were home, it sat squarely in the middle of the room and we all sat around it for meals. After the boys moved out on their own, I re-oriented the thing and now use it as extra counter space. 

So what is all that stuff? Under the table is my stock pot and 60 pound bucket of honey. On top is a batch of sour dough starter, some butter, kefir, a bowl of mixed crispy nuts with organic raisins, a bunch of parsley from my garden, some local honey with the comb in, the large glass jar has a little bit of sprouted and freshly ground rye flour. The paper bag contains a partly eaten loaf of sourdough rye bread. On that table is also a jar of Kumbucha and a jar of some fermenting veggies.

My husband thinks my kitchen is in constant chaos. I prefer to think of it as a catalyst for creativity.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feasting with Non-Believers

I'm not talking about the religious issues that sometimes happen in large, extended families like mine, but the food issues. We are a family of five kids with six grandkids. Four of us were in town for the holiday. Mom and Dad were not up to traveling and opted not to join us this year.

Let me give you a rundown of the various challenges we face as a small clan eating together.:

I'm allergic to soy. I'm also very overweight unlike the rest of my family, most of whom are rather thin. I also battle depression from time to time. One son is allergic to lemons. Another son of mine is allergic to nuts (all nuts both peanut and tree nut). For a while I blamed myself for their problems, but I've come to realize that when they were little, all I knew was the craziness spouted by the government. We ate low fat everything and super processed everything. I got fat, and we all developed allergies and gut problems. The boys have moved away from home and as young men who work at Pizza Hut for a living, their diets, quite frankly, are a little frightening. I send them real food from time to time. I'm giving them both a two pound block of butter for Christmas along with pastured pork, beef, and eggs and maybe a couple of pastured chickens. My husband developed several blockages in his heart veins years before we met. Just after we were married, a stent was installed and he was put on statins. I will talk about his medical adventures following his start on WAP in future entries.

My baby sister's daughter is on the GAPS diet to help address her autism (she was adopted at 6 months old from the former Soviet Union and arrived with digestive problems) and to help her daughter along, she has put her whole family on a modified Gaps diet. This is sister is very thin, as is her son. Her husband and daughter were struggling with weight until they went on GAPS and they each lost a lot of weight and her daughter grew several inches.Her husband has also struggled with depression.

My sister-in-law, the Food Nazi, has a lifelong allergy to corn and is a longtime follower of Weight Watchers so most of her food is soy based. She also works in the food industry and will not eat anything that is preserved in cans at home or fermented unless it was done in commercial building. She is thin. Her daughters are all thin. My brother battles his weight constantly but she claims it is because he "cheats" and eats junk when he is working. He was very thin when he was younger. We call her the Food Nazi, because she cleans everything, including her hands and some foods with bleach water. She's freaky about it.

My other brother is married to a native of China. He suffered from terrible gut problems his whole life and was painfully thin. He married late in life but I believe she saved his life. She began feeding him fermented foods, took him off of all dairy products and they eat made-from-scratch soup every single day (sometimes a couple of times a day). She feeds him no bread at all. I'm thinking she has got him on something as close to GAPS as possible without a handbook. He reports he has no more problems with his guts except when he eats an occasional pizza, so they are avoiding that as much as possible (I'm thinking he has Celiac's Disease). She is an excellent cook and it's fun to look into her cupboards as everything is labeled in Chinese and she has lots of mysterious and wonderful mushrooms, dried vegetables and other goodies in there. Her refrigerator is filled with fresh vegetables and her table is decorated with a variety of fresh fruits like clementines, pineapples and bartlett pears. I was deeply impressed to find that she has a couple of little Buddha statues each of whom had a perfect, fresh apple and a pretty stone bead bracelet nearby.

Middle sister lives in Colorado and did not make it out this year.

This year, despite everyone knowing everyone's allergies, there was a lot of food that was not consumed. The Food Nazi put margarine in everything she cooked and even put lemon in the sweet potatoes. She prepared the gravy, sweet potatoes and the stuffing. She will not let us stuff the turkey itself because she is an FDA food freak and believes we will all die of salmonella poisoning if we eat a turkey with stuffing in it. He daughter prepared the pies and while they got rave reviews, I could not eat them due to the crust being prepared iwth margarine.

I fixed the green bean casserole using scratch mushroom gravy which started with a beef bone broth, organic green beans and onion rings fried in pastured pig leaf lard. It was completely gluten free as well because I used tapioca flour for the thickeners and the onion breading. I also made deviled eggs using mayonaise I made using a good quality olive oil and pastured eggs. I did use store bought capers as part of the stuffing. I also made a pickle tray with gluten free crackers, homemade yogurt cheese from raw milk, a variety of ferments and homemade pickles both sour and bread and butter pickles. I also made a liver pate.

My sister with the Gaps family, brought a lovely salad, a fruit salad with coconut and put the chopped pecan crispy nuts on the side (thank you!). She also brought gluten free rolls she made. They were good but contained nuts, so one son could not eat them.

The turkey was prepared by my brother and his wife. She is from China and so this whole Thanksgiving thing is quite amazing to her. They did a great job with this large bird and everyone enjoyed it. Food Nazi managed to make the carcass disappear into the trash before Gaps mom or I could get to it and so all that wonderful boney goodness was lost.

I suggested to Gaps mom that next year I will host and she and I will prepared everything. Food Nazi can bring her own food if she wants, but the rest of us need something to eat that is safe.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Soaked Granola

Eating real food on a budget is a real challenge for a lot of families. Moving into this world of real food is challenging to do all at one time and it helps to do things one step at a time as you can afford it. One of the first things I did was replace my aluminum and teflon coated cookware with stainless steel cookware. I already had a lot of cast iron pans acquired over the course of a decade. I found a wonderful glass bowl collection at Target once. It was on sale and I splurged. Little by little, I've changed out my cooking utensils to get rid of the plastic.

I found over the course of about 3 months that NOT buying junk like breakfast cereal, snack cakes, chips, candy and most commercial bread; saved enough money for me to make one or two LARGE bulk purchases each month that last me for 6 or more months. For example, I bought a 50 pound bag of organic wheat berries and another 50 pound bag of organic rye berries for about $1.27 a pound. I soak the grains and spout then dry them, grind them in a grain grinder and make my own sprouted flours. A cup of raw wheat makes about 2 cups of flour. I can make a loaf of bread with about 3 1/2 cups. There are a lot of cups of wheat in a 50 pound bag. I store them in galvanized tins in an unheated and unused bedroom. I sprinkle grain with food grade Diatomaceous earth to keep the weavils out. Basically, I'm using about 50 cents of grain to make a loaf of bread. I also purchase yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer.

Equipment is expensive, but when cared for properly. lasts for many years. I could not do this without my very large deep freezer. I keep it set below zero and I can keep foods for a very, very long time. It does not auto defrost, so I have to do that manually once a year or so, but that's an easy job. The grain grinder and my table top electric mixer are very important. I also have a meat grinder attachment for my electric mixer and a food processor and stick blender. I do not have a microwave, or a toaster.

Some basic foods like coconut oil, nuts, sea salt, and meat are much cheaper purchased in bulk. It's just a little scary to anticipate and budget for 1/2 beef, for example when you know you will be paying $1000 or more in a lump sum. But you are purchasing a year's worth of beef at one time. Sit down and really figure out what you are paying when you buy a year's worth of meat in incremental bits. I bet it will be more. What's nice about making that large bulk purchase of pastured beef from a local farmer is that you can very specifically dictate how you want your cuts done, how much of it is going to be ground beef, you get the organs. If you really get the opportunity to work out details, you can also ask for the hide -- if you have a use for it.

Start small and go for a 1/2 lamb. Then try 1/2 a hog. Find someone with pastured chickens and buy 6 of them. My husband fishes, but he does not hunt; but I know hunters and most years they will bring me a whole deer if I pay for the tag. You see why I need a large freezer.

If I could talk my husband into it, I would buy two of them and have one for meat and one for vegetables, fruit and other home prepared foods like broth.

But let me share my recipe for CHEAP healthy granola. Buy all the ingredients in bulk.

Soaked Granola

2 cups of organic raw oatmeal
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups of warm water

1/4 cup of dried fruit (I like organic raisins or cherries)
1/2 cup of crispy nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup of crispy pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup flaked coconut

Put the oatmeal in a large glass bowl, stir the sea salt into the warm water until dissolved. Pour liquid over the oatmeal. Stir gently until all the oatmeal is submerged. Cover the bowl with a towel and put on the counter overnight.

In the morning drain the oatmeal through a colander and rinse. Dump back in the bowl. Heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a sauce pan until blended and the oil is melted. Pour oil and syrup mixture over the oats and stir a couple of times. Spread the wet oatmeal out onto a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with edges). Put in the oven and set the temperature to just below warm. Leave for 8 hours. I put it in before I go to work and take it out when I get home. Once dried it will be crispy. Break it up and put it into a dry bowl. Add the fruit, nuts and seeds and coconut flakes. Stir. Store in quart jars. Eat with yogurt, kefir or raw milk.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Kefir Experiments Continue

I made a pint with the kefir starter and some raw milk. I put it out on the table overnight and then chilled it. I found it quite nice but not very bubbly when I drank some of it. I also did not find any grains. I decided that perhaps I needed to wait longer than overnight (you think?). I put the remaining 1/3rd cup into a clean pint jar and added 1/3 cup of fresh raw milk and again left it out over night. I will call this Jar #1. Then I added another 1/3rd cup of milk and again left it out overnight.

This time, it separated. So I stirred it gently with a wooden spoon, poured half into a second pint jar (Jar #2) and added fresh raw milk to both. Both went into the frig.

The next day, I very carefully poured all the soured milk off the top of Jar #2 into a clean container and poured the remainder into a small jelly jar and added 1/4 cup of milk. This is Jar #3. The jelly jar was left out on the counter for two days without disturbance, then I added a little more milk to it and put it in the frig.

All the jars remained refrigerated for four days undisturbed.

This morning, I decided to check things out and see what I had.

Jar #1 was fizzy and had a very mild sour smell and flavor.
Jar #2 was still separating into solids and whey and seemed more sour in odor. I have not tasted it.
Jar #3 actually had lumps that look like kefir grains!

So, put my new grains in their own little pint jar, topped it off with fresh milk and will leave it out until this evening and refrigerate it. I poured myself a small jelly glass of Jar #1 and topped it up and will leave it out at room temp until dinner time today.

I added a teaspoon of raw honey to the glass I had poured and stirred and stirred. I finally licked the remaining honey off the spoon and drank the kefir. Ambrosia.

I now understand the Biblical references to "The Land of Milk and Honey." Wow!

With this heady treat in my tummy, I went on to jar up one crock of sauerkraut, started a batch of sourdough starter for my sister, and re-arranged my pantry shelves and sorted out the frig to make room for the newly jarred kraut.

The Chocolate Fix

I have found that over the course of the last year, as I'm working my way further and further from processed foods and eating more healthy food; my craving for sugary treats like cookies and cake has diminished quite a bit. What has taken longer to lose is an occasional, overwhelming desire for chocolate candy. What has kept that in check is the challenge of finding a chocolate candy that does not contain soy.

There are a few. One that I have found is made by Rapunzel. They make an Organic Dark Chocolate bar that is soy free. It does contain organic raw cane sugar, organic cocoa beans, organic cocoa butter, and organic vanilla. One square will usually satisfy me for a week or more. The last bar I purchased survived on my kitchen counter for well over 3 months before we finally finished it off with a glass of red wine.

Recently, however, my local source for all things healthy is a tiny health food store in Callao, VA that just recently opened. It's called The Health Nut. They now have a web site. It is run by a delightful couple who reclaimed their health by learning to eat healthy food. He is a master smoothie maker and they have a little smoothie bar set up at the back of the shop. It's a great place for me to pop in on my way home from work and pick up things I need for dinner. She will also order special things for me when I ask. She'll get a half dozen of whatever I ordered and, so far, has found there is a market for the odd things I have requested - like walnut oil.

Anyway, as part of their Grand Opening Ceremonies, they had some samples of dishes made from items available in their shop. One of those things was the most awesome, sugar free, organic chocolate fix I've tasted yet. She gave me permission to share the recipe here:

Chocolate Cherry Truffles
1 cup of dehydrated organic bing cherries
1 cup of crisy nuts (I used half pecans and half almonds)
2 tablespoons of good quality raw coconut oil (it should be solid at room temp)
4 tablespoons of Terr Amazon Organic Cocao Powder. Put 2 tablespoons aside for rolling later.

Put the cherries in your food processor. Give it a couple of pulses. Add the nuts. Give it a couple of more pulses. Add the coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder. Hold the pulse button down for a bit and let it start to incorporate together. Scrap down the sides and pulse a little more until it forms into a ball (or blobs up on the sides like mine did). Put the whole mass in a small glass bowl -- you should have about 2 cups - cover and put in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, put the last two tablespoons of cocoa powder on a plate. Break off little hunks of the cherry nut mixture and roll into small balls -- about marble sized. Roll the balls in the cocoa powder. I layered them in tupperware between sheets of waxed paper. Keep refrigerated. Eat as needed.

Even my husband, the sugar fiend, loved these and after eating just one told me I was going to have to make more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Next Generation

My youngest grand-daughter (really a step grand-daughter, but who's counting?) is coming to visit us this weekend. Ken will pick her up after school and bring her up to spend the weekend.

I have several activities planned including weaving a scarf (or something) on the rigid heddle loom for Friday evening and we might make some healthy cookies or macaroons .. I think we might get Poppop to get out the Wii for a couple of games.  I've already put a pastured chicken into the crock-pot with organic veggies including locally grown carrots, turnips, onions and a couple of potatoes. I need to avoid eating the potatoes as I'm trying to cut down on my carbs, but Ken loves them and feels a meal is not complete without them. He, unlike me, does not need to lose much (if any) weight. But he is one of those odd people who is perfectly happy eating only one meal a day. By the time he gets to it, he's really hungry and needs the carbs.

Saturday we plan to go pet a cow and perhaps see a pig or two. Then it's home to show her how to make yogurt so she can eat some on Sunday morning on some homemade soaked granola or soaked oatmeal or perhaps farm fresh eggs. I need to get a new sour dough batch going, so I will show her how to make a starter and will have to make her some bread from it at some point.

I'm taking some pickles down to Lively to a new friend from whom I'm getting pork in a couple of weeks. I've gone in with my sister and ordered half a hog. We are about done with the 1/2 lamb we got this summer and I believe we are out of beef for the most part (other than some bones). I plan to order 1/2 beef for this Spring. And next year I'm definitely going to get a whole lamb. Mom and my sister each want a 1/2 lamb, so that will be two whole animals from my favorite source for pastured lamb. 

One batch of sauerkraut is ready to be jarred. I need to find some more pint jars before I start, however, so will stop at the hardware store on my way home today. 

For my breakfast this morning, I'm drinking a cup of home made chicken bone broth with a tablespoon of coconut oil melted into it. I managed to burn my tongue pretty well on it first thing, but I'm enjoying it now. I'm only about 1/2 through the serving and already feeling satisfied, so I may just take it to work with me for later. I've started reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat and I can see it is really coconut oil heavy, so I will need to find an affordable source for a bulk purchase.

I've also cut down on my coffee quite a bit. I had two cups yesterday and a cup of tea and the rest of the day I drank water or decaffeinated tea. Today I had one cup of coffee and a large cup of tea (like a cup and a half) and plan to go fully decaffeinated the rest of the day. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Next Step

For the last year, I have been working to replace processed foods with whole, healthy, natural foods. I am getting closer to that goal every day. But I find that I'm still having intermittent bouts of bloating and aching joints and a welts that appear on my face. I'm sure that it's an allergic reaction and I'm pretty sure it's something I'm eating. It's just too much like a toxic reaction to be a coincident.

The fact is, there are still some unhealthy things I am eating that I need to eliminate:
  • Coffee (or caffeine)
  • Artificial sweetening (it goes into coffee)
  • Too many grain based carbs
  • Too many sweets (even healthy ones like maple syrup and honey)
I find I also eat too much at one sitting. I don't realize my stomach is uncomfortably full until I get up and walk away from the table. 

I also have times when I cheat and do reach out and grab that piece of bundt cake that someone kindly brought into the office to share instead of walking away or eating a piece of fruit or another bite of meat.

I feel like I've done a good job of eliminating soy from my diet and do feel much better having done that. I can tell almost immediately when I've accidently injested it. The reaction is in my face, my hands (swelling), my head (headache), belly (bloating with gas and pain). I seem to also have a reaction in my face.

I also have facial skin reactions to stress and heat. When I get very, very hot my legs, ankles and feet and hands also swell up badly. The swelling and facial rash make me wonder about Lupus sometimes, but I'm thinking even if it is Lupus, there's not much doctors can do with that other than steroids and I'm just not willing to accept the side effects. I'd rather control it with diet, very controlled exposure to heat and sun and mild to moderate exercise.

So, back to the question of what goes next: Grains (especially wheat) or by beloved coffee?

If coffee: Should I drop coffee and go to tea for a while and then get off the tea or just suffer the 10 days of caffeine withdrawals and get on with my life?

If grains: Do I eliminate all of them at one time and deal with my husband who cannot live without his bread, cookies, pies and cakes (not to mention my cravings for such things), or should I just eliminate one grain (like wheat) and see how I do on just rye or oats or some other grain like barley? Is the problem gluten or is it an actually allergy to one thing, like wheat?

If sugars: These are mad carbohydrate issues for me. I'm moving slowly in this direction now with the elimination of white sugar (other than what goes into the kombucha) but I'm back to drinking alcoholic beverages which I know is not good for me and are definitely an addiction. Within a month of going back on wine, I went from one glass a night to finishing a regular sized bottle to buying a box and making that last about three days (when there is actually about 4 bottles worth in that box). So that has to go. I do better with beer and am pretty content with just one can/bottle for an evening. But beer has both the alcohol and the grain issue.  Can I separate alcohol from the sugars and carbs? I dunno?

I don't want to do all at once. I'll admit it. I'm a wimp when it comes to self inflicted suffering. Both of these are addiction issues and I fear I will break down and throw in the towel on everything if I try to break all the bad habits at one time.

The coffee is easier. I can substitute for a while with various teas and gradually move from caffeinated to caffeine free teas. I think a lot of the draw of the coffee is that hot beverage in my hand.

So, starting tomorrow (since I've already had a cup of coffee... two actually) this morning, I will leave my beloved coffee and move to tea. I can do that for a couple of weeks I think and then wean myself off of the tea... since I really don't much care for tea.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kefir, oh kefir

I'm trying to make my own kefir from a starter.

And I'm not sure if I'm doing it correctly or not. I'm not seeing what I thought I would see, which is little kefir grains. But I have a nicely soured milk which is not bad to drink and which I am probably going to use for buttermilk salad dressing.

And while it seems like a nice product, this is not like the kefir I'm familiar with. Granted, that kefir, while still active in the bottle, is from a commercial source and clearly contains some sweetener, even if it is in the form of a fruit juice.

I would like to find a source (friend) with some grains to share.

Ah, the on-going adventures of living food... at least I know what I have with mead, yogurt and fermented veggies.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting established

I'm delighted and amazed at the underworld of raw foods. But it's frustrating to me that I must act like I'm trying to buy illegal drugs or smuggle laundered money just to feed myself and my family healthy food.

Let me tell you the story of my first real milk purchase without naming names or giving too many details about who and where. What I have done and they have done, is, in fact, illegal in Virginia.

After returning from WAP Foundation Conference in Philly last year, I went on a quest to find a source for real, raw milk with a feasible price tag and within a reasonable driving distance from my home. The price of gas, being as high as it is, must be factored into the cost of everything now. At one of the Farmer's Markets I had met a lady who was selling pastured beef. I love her beef and I knew her prices were very good. When I visited her farm not long after my trip to Philly, I asked if she knew of anyone selling raw milk. She sent me home with a quart of her own goat's milk, which was very good, but not what I was looking for and I knew I would also need and want larger quantities. I did some internet research and found some folks who were doing goat shares and cow shares, but the driving was clearly going to be overwhelming. In one case, the prices were just off the chart.

I did some research and some math to figure out what it actually costs to raise a dairy cow, maintain optimum pastures, buy hay for winter feeding, milk it for five to seven years, breed her regularly, deal with down time before and after the calf is born and maintain shelters, supplies and fencing.  The initial investment is huge unless you already have land and fencing and a shelter of some sort on hand. Ignoring that just for the sake of argument, your cow is going to run you somewhere around $1,000. Equipment like milk pails, halters, etc, aren't too much until you invest in machinery. Hand milking, while not as efficient, is far less expensive. And it must be done every single day.

And dairy cows don't do daylight savings. If you milk at 6 a..m. all summer, you will be milking at 5 a.m. all winter. There are no sick days, snow days or family vacations when your girl is in milk. She just won't release the milk for strangers to come in who are "cow sitting". And if she doesn't let the milk out, she will suffer terribly. Just ask any mother who has breastfed a child. When that baby balks, or she is late getting home to nurse, she is in pain!

Failing to keep a regular milking schedule and working with the cow to make sure she has released all of her milk can also lead to mastitis and if that doesn't kill her outright, it can damage a quarter of her udder to the point she cannot produce milk there again.

It requires dedication, faith and a whole lot of work to raise a milking cow. But everyone I've met who does it (even the commercial guys) can't imagine not doing it. They love these animals. There is a bond.

So what is real milk worth? Worth more than I can actually afford. But I don't think I can afford not to have it.

When I drink real milk I do not get indigestion. I feel satisfied. I don't have gut problems. And the stuff is just good! When I drink pasteurized and homogenized milk (the only milk I can legally purchase in Virginia), I have terrible stomach aches, indigestion and it simply does not satisfy. As a compromise, I can culture store bought organic milk and make yogurt (which I can eat and water down to drink), but I've had no luck making kefir or buttermilk with the ultrapasturized, homogenized crap sold for milk in the stores.

Anyway, when I first came home I did find someone who was willing to share some of milk but the milk was not from a pastured cow. It was a cow who was fed commercial feed, was milked twice a day and who did not give a lot of cream.

I learned from this person that milk in dairy operations is taken to a creamery every other day or so, the cream is separated from the milk and both are pasteurized. Some of the cream is them put back into the milk. If they want whole milk, they put back in enough cream to bring the cream level up to 3%. Mind you, when it comes out of the cow, it's about 5% cream. Two percent milk is 2% cream per in the milk gallon and skim is just the milk liquid without the cream. Skimmed is about as close to whey as you get without actually souring or culturing the milk. Unfortunately, pasteurizing destroys the enzymes in real milk that makes it possible for humans to digest the milk easily without breaking down the lactose using a culture. Pasteurizing also destroys real milk's natural ability to clabber or sour without molding. If your store bought pasteurized milk has past its expiration date, there is a good chance it has molded and become contaminated with outside bacteria that make it dangerous to drink. Real milk will eventually reach a point of being undrinkable, but even with a little souring, it's still perfectly safe. And even if you don't want to drink this sour milk, you can at least still cook with real sour milk.

This cow owner was very nervous about sharing the milk, although the price was very low, and feared that the government would come and shut down the operation. This person was very kind for several months, however, and let me get milk for my animals. I did not like making this person nervous, so I looked elsewhere for milk.

So, via another friend, I was referred to someone whose daughter had a Jersey cow who had just had a calf. I was at the point of believing I would need to find a way to raise a cow myself in order to have really fresh, wholesome real milk. I thought I could talk to her about how to do this on a shoe string budget. What I did learn is that I will really need about 3 acres of land in decent pasture and a shelter of some sort, but I already have electric fencing and cows can live quite well with sheep. Since I already have sheep and an electric fence, that will enclose an acre, I could do this if I could find three acres of  land and just move the fence every day or ever other day.

The owner of said cow, however,  does not want to sell the baby, but she has been willing to share the milk with me.

I still want a cow of my own and land to raise her on.

I love my little sheep and do not intend to eat them, but I have found a source for pastured lamb meat which I will tell you about later. I have also now found a source for pastured pigs and pastured beef. My sister and I plan to go in together to purchase half a hog. I plan to purchase another lamb. And I also plan to purchase half a steer for beef.

As of this weekend, I may have found a source for pastured chickens and another source for eggs. So, after a year of searching, researching and making friends; I think I may finally have everything together. Now to just keep it affordable.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Big changes, small changes

So, what did I learn at the Weston A. Price Conference? I learned that everything I had been eating to maintain my health and battle my weight problems was completely wrong. I found out that the main reason that I had skin problems, depression, aching joints, muscle spasms, massive fatty tumors in my gut, obesity and bowel problems was directly related to what I was and was not eating.

My whole life I had been told to eat less food. Eat no fat. Avoid meat. Eat whole grains. Eat soy.  Follow various diets including Weight Watchers and despite chronic pain, I had been told to exercise regularly and hard.

So, I've come to recognize that while I probably should eat less, I"m still probably in a transitional period that my body does not recognize as anything but a ploy. I eat even though I am no longer hungry because I've I have tortured myself for so many years with feast and famine, my body is anticipating a famine any day now. But I'm reaching awareness and I think this coming year I will begin to see myself get a better handle on this issue. Interestingly enough, I have not gained any weight. My cholesterol which was good before, has actually gotten even better. My blood pressure, always good,  remains the same and some of my other issues, like skin blemishes and aching joints, are starting to resolve themselves. 

What has changed?

I am eating whole foods now. I eat free range eggs at least three days a week, sometimes more. I eat real butter. I drink real milk that came out of a cow into a stainless steel pan, then was poured into jars. There are no middle men other than the gal who milks that cow. I eat meat and I eat the fat that came on the meat!  I eat whole fat yogurt, raw cheese and drink kefir and whole fat cultured buttermilk. I also drink something called Kombucha, Beet Kvass and sometimes the juice from homemade sauerkraut. I eat a lot more salt than I used to eat.

I have eliminated soy. Completely. I don't even eat commercially prepared bread anymore because it contains soy lecithin. Don't believe me? Go read the label on that loaf in your kitchen. It's in your breakfast cereal, and any baked goodies you may have purchased at the store. Soy oil is in your ketchup, the soup you bought and most definitely in your margarine. What's so bad about soy? We will cover that in future posts.


Just over a year ago, my dear friend, Angel talked me and another mutual friend into attending the Weston A. Price Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Angel is one of those people you never have time to visit with because she is constantly on the go and the opportunity to actually spend a few days with her, was more than tempting. She initially paid my way and so I really had nothing to lose. By the end of the four days, I had paid her back and we were laying plans to create some sort of scholarship fund for less financially able but deserving participants in our goal to recover our health from big agriculture, the government, and big business.

In the year since, I have to a much greater understanding of the difficulty of this undertaking but have noted significant improvements in various areas of my health. I also recognize I still have a long way to go before I actually reach my goals. But I am far more optimistic about getting there now.

One of the greatest challenges is rather ironic in that while I live in the country and should therefore have greater access to healthy food, finding it continues to be a challenge. But each goal reached is putting me in touch with opportunities to reach for the next goal.

I left Philly with several goals:

  1. Find a local, affordable source for raw milk.
  2. Find a local, affordable source of pastured beef.
  3. Figure out a way to get pastured chickens, and lamb, and eggs.
  4. Find a source for local, organic vegetables and fruit that were affordable.
I also wanted to find a way to raise my own milk cow, chickens and beef.

I have not met all of these goals. But I have reached some and am closing in on others. I have learned new ways of cooking and eating that seem to fly in the face of conventional medicine and mainstream opinion. And I've done it without a single sick day! Not one.

This blog is going to be about this adventure and the folks I've managed to drag along with me.