Saturday, March 31, 2012

Soaked Bread Round #1

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I am trying so hard to bake bread.  A few years ago I had it down pretty well, but then I learned the facts about phytic acid.  Phytic Acid encapsulates all grains and legumes.  In your body it blocks the absorption of vital nutrients like calcium, zinc, and iron.  Over consumption of phytic acid can lead to a lot of health problems, most commonly anemia.
A few years ago we were eating a diet rich in beans and grains, which on paper is good.  But my husband was suffering from anemia and a host of problems you can read about in Our WPF Story.  Part of his healing began when we backed off of eating grains and beans so that his body could have the time to heal.  We loosely followed a Paleo-like diet similar to the one outlined in the GAPS diet.  I firmly believe broth and raw milk are what healed my husband!
So now we are beginning to work back into baking, but with what I know about phytic acid I want to perfect baking with soaked grains.  I'm laughing on the inside as I type "perfect", because my first attempt was far from it!
I used a recipe I found in a free e-book called Is Your Flour Wet?.  It was originally published by Kelly the Kitchen Kop, but I can't find it in a post on her blog.  I am planning on printing this e-book to use as a reference in my kitchen.  It has everything in it!
Take a look at my attempt, it may make you feel better about any disasters you've had in the kitchen.  One loaf was fine, but the other had this huge hole in the middle.  Both were far too dense.  I have been going over and over in my head where I made small mistakes.  The directions in the recipe were very specific, so I think with a few more tries I should be able to pinpoint my mistakes.



I used the bread with the hole in the middle to make eggs in a nest this morning for breakfast.  Have you ever made those?  They are my favorite, and my family's.  I planned on taking a picture, but everyone gobbled them up before I got a chance (myself included)!  
To save the middle, I scooped out the raw dough and broke it into peices.  Then added butter, garlic powder, and parsley.  I put them back in the 350 degree oven until brown.  Viola!  Croutons!



I will keep trying!!  I feel like the little train going up the mountain.  I will bake good bread! I will!!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle


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Friday, March 30, 2012

Sew Good! The Pillow Case Dress

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Spring makes me itch to sew dresses and I couldn't think of a better one to try than the Pillow Case Dress.  These are everywhere today, and for good reason.  On Etsy they are selling anywhere from $12-$30.  I finished this project with ribbon enough for some stack bows for around $10- for two girls!!  If you are skeptical of sewing let me lean you in the right direction.  This would be a great first project.  Here's some things I love about the Pillow Case Dress:

1.  It's adjustable at the top.  This works for modesty (which a lot of sundresses from the store are not) and for growing.  One dress can be worn for years.  Because you can adjust the neck, you can just keep changing it as your little beauty grows.  The below the knee dress can become a short dress with bloomers, and eventually a tunic over pants or a long top.  Especially if you are going to take the time to make something by hand, it is nice to have it last a while.
2.  It can be worn in any season.  Alone or with bloomers in the warmer months, with leggings, boots and a jean jacket in the cooler.  You can even layer long-sleeves under it.  Today my oldest love wore hers with ripped blue jeans and converse.  It was so "her"!   
3.  Both of my two daughters can share the same size dress.  It will look a little different on each because of their height, but that does mean I won't just be sewing two of stuff for the sake of it.  If you have two daughters you might understand, if you do it for one you have to do it for the other.  This drives me bananas.  So with these I could just fill their closet and they could share them.  Do take note that if you are making two dresses and want the two girls to match, you will have to make the dresses longer/shorter according to height.
4.  It is SO simple to sew.  I whipped these up in a couple of hours one night.  And it isn't because I'm a whimsical seamstress, it is just a simple pattern to follow.  Check out this printable pdf.  Or if you prefer here's a YouTube video.

Here's our last pillow dress photo shoot.  This was the first time I photographed the kids since I read this tutorial.  I used coordinating fabrics and did them in an opposite pattern.  Hobby Lobby had ribbon that perfectly matched the fabric.  And the ribbon was 50% off and the fabric was 30% off.  I had enough to make some stack bows, which are even easier!  I'll post that later!  I cannot over emphasize how EASY this project was!!







Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Leftover Fabulous: Naked Burrito Casserole

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If I take the time to cook, I always cook extra.  My favorite thing to double (or triple) is a pot of chili. I must admit though, that after we've eaten it twice, I'm facing some moans from the little ones if it comes out again.  Until I came up with this concoction.
Well I can't take full credit.  While we were staying with my sister for Thanksgiving she made something similar and a light bulb went off in my head.  All of her ingredients were ingredients I put in chili and I could have this meal a heck of a lot faster if I just made it with leftovers.  Now kudos to my sister for this little recipe, it is now a family favorite of ours.

Naked Burrito Casserole

Ingredients
3-4 cups of leftover chili
2 cups of cooked rice
2 cups of shredded cheese (I make a mix of colby, cheddar, and monterrey jack)
1-16oz. bag of frozen corn
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (optional if you don't have enough chili-see directions)
For Garnish: (any combination of these would do)
sour cream
diced avocado
salsa
cilantro
shredded lettuce

Directions:
Mix all of the Ingredients (not garnishes) together in a large casserole dish EXCEPT one cup of  the cheese.  Decide whether your casserole is "gloppy" enough.  I know this sounds gross, but after making a million casseroles, I've learned this is the best description.  Wet enough to stick together, but not soup.  If you think it is too dry add a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for at least 30 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly.  
Dump it all in, stir!

Top with Cheese

This one cooked for closer to an hour, still awesome!
You can make this up to a day ahead and put it in the fridge to be cooked.  This is one of my go-to meals to leave in the fridge when my hubby will be home before me.  I love walking in the door to the smell of a home-cooked meal.

Tip:  Pre-cook rice each weekend and store it in your fridge.  It makes for quick meals.  I do it on Sunday afternoon each week, and I am never sorry I did.  This meal took 10 minutes to prep, including shredding the cheese!  If you have a food processor with a shredding attachment, I do encourage you to shred your own cheese.  Pre-shredded Cheese always has some added ingredient. And the flavor cannot compete with cheese you shred at home!


Once you start rethinking leftovers, the possibilities are endless.  There are so many simple ways to save yourself time without sacrificing good food.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coconut Love

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Yesterday we went to a beautiful place called Ft. Mountain in Chatsworth, GA.  It was just under an hour drive and so, so well worth it.  It is a State Park and will definitely be somewhere we visit often from now on.  I've been to a lot of beaches growing up on the gulf side of Florida, but I have made my home just outside Chattanooga, TN.  This city won me over with it's views of mountains and some of the best hiking in the South.  I sometimes miss the beach and am currently counting the days (37) till our vacation in May.  I really enjoyed the lake beach at Ft. Mountain, the sand between my toes, the kids building castles...it was lovely!
I must confess we did get sunburned.  My third little love and myself got the worst of it.  So today I have been researching herbal remedies for sunburn.  And what I came across made me so happy.  Coconut Oil!!  I swear there isn't anything Coconut Oil doesn't do.
Here's just a few:
Hair Care
Skin Care
Weight Loss
Immunity
Digestion
Heart Disease and now
Sunburn!!!!
I buy this stuff by the gallon!  From Green Pastures.  They also sell Fermented Cod Liver Oil, which is also one of the best supplements you can take for DHA because it is also high in Vitamin D and A.  These are both common deficiencies among Americans.  You can read some about my family's journey and how Vitamin A and D played a part in healing my husband.
Well, here's to sunshine!  And coconut!...I have "If you like Pina Coladas" in my head!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Game Plan 3/25

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Wow!  I have a busy week ahead of me.  My meals this week will be super simplified.  In keeping with my Spring/Lent cleaning I am trying to eat up some of the stuff that's been in my freezer.  I went digging this weekend and found some stuffed shells.  I also added extra enchiladas from this week.  I have to say the crock enchiladas were somewhat of a bust.  I loved the taste, but they burned to all of the sides of the Crock.  It may have been that I cooked them too long, we had something come up and were over an hour late getting home Thursday night.  I will keep enchiladas on the list of things I make and freeze an extra pan of for now.  I do this with things that have to be individually rolled or stuffed, it cuts back on the time and you only have to clean up once.

So here is my busy week meal plan!  Besides my hubby's request of Fish Taco's Wednesday, everything is coming out of the freezer until the weekend.

Monday: Reubens and Cabbage Soup (from St. Patty's, I froze the extra)
Tuesday:  Stuffed Shells
Wednesday: Fish Tacos (a modified version of this with Organic Palm Oil instead of Canola)
Thursday: Naked Burrito Casserole (made from leftover Chili, recipe to come)
Friday: Pizza-Goat Cheese, Kalamatas, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes
Saturday: Grilled Pork Chops, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese Couscous
Sunday:   Vegetable Chowder (from Lulu the Baker) and Sourdough Bread (Nourished Kitchen)

It's a big maybe on that Sourdough. I am trying to get my hands on some starter.  I have had a total bust making my own, and from what Jenny at the Nourished Kitchen says, that isn't very uncommon.  I sampled some amazing bread this weekend at my local WAPF meeting.  I can't wait to try sourdough again!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Notes on Fermentation

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Today I presented at the Chattanooga Area Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter Meeting on Fermentation. I figured I would take a minute to post the outline from my presentation. It is from the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.  He is the leading guru in the world of fermentation.  His book is a wild adventure through the world of growing probiotics at home.  It includes detailed recipes, colorful stories, and a wealth of knowledge on the subject of fermentation.







Major Benefits of Fermentation
I.              Fermentation  preserves food
a.    Fermentation organisms produce alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid
b.    These are all bio-preservatives that retain nutrients and prevent spoilage.
c.    Captain James Cook (the 18th century English explorer) was recognized by the Royal Society for conquering scurvy among his crew by sailing with large amounts of sauerkraut.
II.            Fermentation breaks down nutrients into more easily digestible forms.
a.    Soy-a protein-rich food is largely indigestible.  Through fermentation are broken down into readily digestible amino acids.  These are all found in traditional Asian foods-miso, tempeh, and tamari.
b.    Milk is also very difficult for many people to digest.  Lactobacilli transforms lactose into easy to digest lactic acid.
c.    Wheat and other grains that have been fermented are also easier to digest.
d.    Fermentation has been called a form of “pre-digestion”
III.           Fermentation creates new nutrients.
a.    Microbial cultures create B vitamins including: folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and biotin.
b.    Some ferments have been shown to function as antioxidants, scavenging free radicals from cells of the body.
c.    Lactobacilli create omega-3 fatty acids, essential for cell membrane and immune system functions.
d.    Some even claim cultured foods contain: superoxide dismustase, GTF chromium, detoxifying compounds like glutathione, phospholipids, digestive enzymes, and beta 1,3 glucans.
IV.          Fermentation removes toxins from foods.
a.    Cassava- a tropical tuber is actually poisonous before fermentation.  Fermentation removes high levels of cyanide from the plant and makes it edible and nutritious.
b.    Fermenting or soaking grains neutralizes the phytic acid (which can block absorption of zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, and other minerals).
c.    If present, fermentation can remove nitrites, prussic acid, oxalic acid, nitrosamines, and glucosides which are all toxic chemicals found in foods.

A Call to Home Fermenting
I.              Eating fermented foods live is an incredible healthy practice.
a.    You directly supply your digestive tract with living cultures essential for breaking down food.
b.    You protect yourself from digestive diseases, many are prevalent today.
c.    Lactobacillus fermentation (milk ferments) will inhibit the growth of Shigella, Salmonella, and E.coli.
II.            Not all “fermented” foods are created equal
a.    Most yogurt in the supermarket does not contain “live cultures”
b.    Sauerkraut has been heat processed to the point of killing any micronutrients that were present at the time of fermentation.
c.    Even miso, in powdered form is a dead food.
III.           If you want live-culture fermented foods in our food-security obsessed, instant-gratification age, you have to seek them out or make them yourself.
a.    NourishingTraditions has many fermented food recipes: including soaking grains, dairy ferments, beverages, veggies and sourdough.
b.    Wild Fermentation gives a lot of information on the cultural establishment of cultured foods and offers funny stories, easy-to-follow directions, and some drawings.
c.    Online resources include:
                                          i.    Thehealthyhomeecconomist.com
                                         ii.    Nourishedkitchen.com
                                        iii.    Cheeseslave.com


I was very excited and honored to speak to this group of people who are willing to challenge the status quo beliefs on nutrition. If you haven't already, check out your local chapter!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle



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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trash To Treasure: Men's Shirt Remake

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Here's a quick step-by-step on how I turned a thrift store men's dress shirt into a cute skirt and matching headband for my oldest love Lilly. 


I picked up an American Eagle men's dress casual shirt at the thrift store.



First remove the pocket using a seem ripper.


Cut the shirt in a straight line across at the arm pits.


Choose a width of elastic you think will make a comfortable waist band.  I used 3/4 inch non-roll.



Make a fold a little larger than the width of the elastic, press to mark.  

Fold under and press.


Roll a second time and press again.  

Sew all the way around, except a 1 inch opening.


Use a safety pin to maneuver the elastic through the waistband.



Adjust to desired width on the person who will wear it.  Sew the elastic, back-stitching, sewing, back-stitching again to reinforce.


Sew the opening shut.  Re-attach the pocket where ever you want it.


Now for the headband.  From the sleeve make a strip 1/2 times longer than the head of the person you are making it for.  It should be a little wider than twice your elastic.  Fold over, crease and sew.


Turn it right side out, and insert elastic with safety pin like you did the waistband.


Fold under one end and slide the other end in.  Stitch and back stitch to reinforce.


Ta-Da!


There a millions of possibilities out there to turn something into something beautiful.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Submitted to:  Thrifty Thursdays

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring Everyone!

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Spring has sprung!!  This is my favorite time of year.  Today I saw a lady holding her toddler down over a flower bed to smell the tulips.  It came as a reminder of how great this season is, despite that yellow powder!  Before long it will be too hot to enjoy time in the sun, so we got to it.

I broke up the roots of my phlox and transplanted them throughout my front beds.  Beautiful and keeps weeds away!
We took our classroom outside, it was too lovely not to.  My kids had a field day, they pulled out everything from hula hoops to racquetball equipment.  They organized games and took turns...I was so proud of them!While they were playing I started planning my veggie garden, turned my compost, pulled weeds, mowed, and planted bulbs.  I told my husband I would mow so he didn't have to inhale the 2600 pollen count today...really I wanted to get a little sun!


I love how Spring sheds light into all of the dark corners and on all of the weeds and dust in our lives. I found so much joy in working outside today, I have been doing so much inside work with my 40 days, 40 bags project.  It is already in the mid 90's here in North Georgia, I can't believe it.  I think I will start some squash and zucchini this week, all of my early spring veggies started flowering (cabbage, broccoli, and cilantro), so I guess it is time to move on to summer.

I dug up and replanned my cutting garden.  I added some Stargazer Lillies, those are my favorite! 
I love days like this.  I feel like my children learn more from days we spend outside than any we spend with our noses in books.  We dug worms, planned lines of flowers, watched a cardinal and a pigeon fight over our new bird feeder.  I watched them assemble into teams, and they did it fairly by age.  The older taught the younger how to use sports equipment and follow the rules of the game.  They picked each other up if one fell.  My heart is content with my decision to home-school on days like these.  I know we will finish the books and the requirements, but days like this make it lovely to be at home with all my loves.  
Trust me it isn't all flowers, but beauty in the making, the process of learning and growing it is a wonderful thing.  So much like gardening.  Pulling weeds, amending the soil, constantly watering.  It is much like educating a child.  We work on bad habits, practice ones that build character, and go over and over things until they are forever engraved in our memories.  Sometimes it comes up roses, and sometimes drought.  But we plod on.  Education will never be a destination, just like gardening is never to achieve some "end product".  It is a process of beauty.  So stop and smell the flowers!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Game Plan 3/18

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I think I need a nap.  This is a thing in our home--mandatory naps on Sunday.  I've got my list of meals made, this week I am trying to make room in my freezer.  I've frozen 6 flats of strawberries in the last week.  My local Aldi had a mistake in shipping and they sold strawberries $.49/lb on Saturday.  Plus, I did my last batch of freezer meals the same day our farmer delivered a side of pork and, well, I can't get around in my freezer anymore.  So on top sits this pork and those meals, so I guess that is what we will eat.
Over the last eight years my family went from being me and my sweet to being six of us.  And let me tell you, my kids can eat!  There are meals when my 6 year old son eats as much as my husband and I.  I know what you are thinking, wait until they are teenagers.  Trust me, I think of this often when buying groceries. I feel like I just fill the fridge and we empty it, in a never ending cycle.  The one thing that saves me each week from just hitting the drive-thru, is planning.
I've heard the common excuse that eating real food is more expensive than eating processed food, which I would agree with.  But in most cases, I don't think the problem is the cost with people, but it is the work.  In reality, dinner for 6 from McDonalds would cost the same as a dinner of real food, even grass-fed meat, which most people sneer at the price of.  And I will be the first to admit, it takes a lot of work!  From reading the labels in the stores, stockpiling, or saving to buy things in bulk.  Prioritizing which healthy measures are more important to your family and how to work those into your budget can get overwhelming.  Then there is all of the time you have to spend in the kitchen.  This is where planning can save you.  It saves you from wasting food and time running out for this and that.
The most important part is to keep tabs on what you have.  I make constant lists of what needs to be eaten out of the fridge and then plan meals around them.  I also up-cycle meals instead of just eating straight leftovers.  Sometimes a couple of things in the fridge will come together for something great.
In my meals this week I am doing some up-cycle.  Monday I will use chicken I roasted last week and Cream of Mushroom soup I have in the freezer to avoid chemicals in canned soup.  Oh and right now I am cooking the rice for tomorrow's dinner and extra to make Chicken and Rice soup for lunch from leftover the Roasted Chicken on Wednesday's menu.  This means my rice will be perfectly tender and I will get my daughter to volleyball on time tomorrow.  (Brown Rice really does take forever to cook, I prefer it to white, so I have learned to always cook it ahead.  After of course, having it "crunchy" about a hundred times.)

Here's my line-up for this week:

Monday: Chicken, Mushroom, and Broccoli Casserole, Tossed Salad
Tuesday: BBQ Potatoes (freezer), Salad
Wednesday: Roasted Chicken, Broccoli Salad
Thursday: Slow Cooker Enchiladas (from Moms with Crockpots)
Friday: Pizza-Pepperoni, Olives, and Spinach
Saturday: Chili with the Fixin's
Sunday: Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions, Pasta (freezer)
Treat: Flourless Pound Cake (from The Healthy Home Economist)


Finding your rhythm in the kitchen and grocery store isn't an overnight change you can make.  Each meal you get on the table without any processed ingredients is a success.  Pat your self on the back, pour yourself some raw milk or kombucha and enjoy!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle







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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ideas Out My Ears

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I am having a great week.  My meal plan and freezer cooking has left me a lot of time out of the kitchen this week.  I loved having a quick answer when anyone asked what was for dinner.  I always make a list, but something about posting it here made it real.  I did switch Tuesday for Thursday and we didn't have a salad tonight, because I haven't gone to the store yet.  But all in all I think it went well.  The pastured ham was out of this world.  We had it smoked at a local place called Link 41.

I pulled weeds from my garden and the sun on my shoulders had me ready to start seeds and get in the dirt.  I cannot wait to taste fresh tomatoes or make pickles.  I have been saving my egg cartons to start seeds this year, I always feel good about throwing one less thing away.
With the warm weather, I feel like whistling while I work and day dreaming of all of the beautiful possibilities around me.  What did I daydream about before Pinterest?  Does this sound like you?  There are SO many good ideas on there.  I'm plugging away at my 40 bags, and the house is really starting to look fresher and brighter.  On top of cleaning, we just inherited some really nice antiques, that I will be moving in later this week and soon refinishing!  I love refinishing furniture.  I'm excited to have some new stuff to work on.  I've been reading about all the different ways to paint/distress furniture here.
I'm thinking about slip-covering my sofa like this.  It looks like a lot of work, but the finished product is much nicer than the one-size-fits-all covers in stores.
I had to move my shag rug out of the living room because it is already 86 degrees!  It seemed too warm under food, and truth be told it could use a good cleaning.  I'm looking at simple, cheap solutions like painting a rug.  I'm trying my best to be realistic with how many projects I make and how long my "to-do" lists get...well somewhat realistic!
I'm also getting ready for a presentation on fermented foods at the next WAPF Chapter meeting here in Chattanooga.  I'm a little nervous, but excited too.  I really believe fermenting foods keep my family healthy.  Do you ferment?  Have you tried Kombucha?  It is my favorite right now.  I'm struggling to keep my water kefir grains alive, I honestly think they don't like me.  My kids are chowing down on the "sauce" as my 3 year-old calls it.  Today we had open-faced chicken and swiss and my kids smothered them in homemade ranch.  I love seeing them so excited about eating well.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Serious Mac and Cheese

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By far, all of my life, forever and ever Macaroni and Cheese has to be the best thing!  Those blue boxes (c'mon you know you know them!) have served me well in college and in raising young children.  I still keep a few of the organic boxes on hand and sometimes my kids will beg for them, but because I do so much bulk cooking it is rare to use these in my kitchen.  Every once and a while I get out my lasagna pan and make a real home-style Macaroni dinner.  I have adapted it from Paula Dean's love of butter and Jessica Seinfeld's sneaky veggies, and come up with something that is truly special.  This is one of my favorite potluck dishes, because it is even good at room temperature.  Sometimes I add diced ham or crumbled bacon to make it even more indulgent.

Everyone gobbled it!  I almost forgot to take a picture.
We ate half, so now I have lunch tomorrow!
This is a recipe for a double batch.  It makes a huge deep dish lasagna pan.  I make this much, because it reheats so well.  To save, I just cover the pan in plastic wrap and take out the next day, pop it back in the oven for lunch.  If you want less, you could easily cut it in half.  Then it would fit a regular 9x13 pan.

Home-Style Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients
2 13-14 oz box of pasta (I prefer whole-wheat shells or macaroni)
1 cup of whole milk (preferably grass-fed and raw)
1/2 cup of cream (heavy, or raw skimmed from milk) or sour cream
2 cups of diced ham or 1 lb of cooked bacon crumbled (optional & preferably pastured)
3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups of pumpkin or winter squash puree
6 eggs (pastured or free range if available)
1/2 stick of butter, diced
Sea salt and White Pepper to taste

Boil water with a generous amount of salt.  Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Removing when still a little firmer than you prefer (it will cook a little more later and you don't want it mushy).  Drain and add to a large lasagna pan.
Dice and cook ham or bacon in a pan.  Add 2 cups of diced meat to noodles.  Add 3 cups of shredded cheese.  Mix until everything is evenly dispersed and cheese starts to melt.
In a food processor or blender, puree pumpkin or squash.  Add milk and cream, blend until smooth.  Mix into pan.  Salt and pepper to taste (actually a little saltier than you would normally prefer to account for the eggs).
*If you want a creamy Mac and Cheese you can skip the next step and warm it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  It is good this way.  I like the addition of eggs for protein and also the texture of a good Sunday Potluck baked Mac.  It is your call.
Lightly beat eggs and add to pan, mix until even.  Top with more cheese if desired and cubed butter.  Salt the top (this is a trick I learned from my husband, always salt the cheese on anything, it makes it a million times better).  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour, or until solid.  Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  This is even good at room temperature, so it makes a great potluck dish.
There are other options on this.  I've added diced cream cheese with the cheese, and also extra sour cream.  If you have those in your fridge and have the time, add them.  The above recipe as stated took 20-25 minutes total cook/prep time, including boiling the water, dicing the ham and shredding the cheese.  I also cooked extra ham for other meals later in the week.  I prepped it and left it in the fridge to be cooked later.  You could probably bake this and leave it in a warm oven for an hour to 2 as well if your schedule needed it.  Today my hubby was home to pop it in the oven while I was Zumba-ing it up!  There seriously isn't anything better than Mac and Cheese!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle





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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Game Plan 3/11

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So it's Sunday, the first day of a new week.  I thought I would post my "game plan" for this week.  I usually sit down, either Saturday or Sunday, and plan all of the meals I will make for the week coming.  Then I make grocery lists and plan trips on the days I will be around those stores.  Since I live in a rural area in the south, healthy real food is sometimes hard to come by.  Oh and then there is that matter of a budget.  So I plan my meals around the produce sales and what meat I have in the freezer from my farmer, and try to spend as little as possible on top of that.  That, of course, is easier said than done in a house of six hungry people!
This week there will be a lot of pork in my line-up.  We just got a side of pork from our farmer friends, so it is on the top of the freezer.  I am super low on beef right now and have some chicken, but mostly pork is the word!  I heard a radio voice talking about pork this week.  Pork used to be the #1 consumed meat in America, mainly because it was so easy for a family to raise a pig in their backyard.  But then entered the low-fat age of margarine and canned soup and people started looking down on the sad little pig.  With the industrial produced pork adding fuel to the fire with all of the e.coli outbreaks, a lot of people steer completely clear of pork.
I have been on  that bandwagon most of my life, with my turkey sausage and turkey bacon.  Every once in a while getting ham and feeling guilty for it.  But then I met my most beloved friend Denise.  Denise grew up on a family farm in North Georgia, here where I live.  She moved to the big city for a while, but then found herself and her family on the farm next door to where she grew up.  Denise and her husband Mike have a passion about raising animals and produce in a way that honors the animals and the land, as well as nourishes the bodies of those who eat it.
Next to clean habitats and good diets, the best thing about pastured pork is the sunshine.  Pigs that are raised outside soak up the sun and that sunshine converts to Vitamin D, just like it does in our human bodies.  So this fat soluble vitamin is loading up that chubby pig's body while it roots around for acorns and such.  Vitamin D is one of the largest deficiencies in the American diet today.  It can be linked with a whole host of infirmities especially ones related to bone density.  It is funny because everything we eat is fortified with Vitamin D, but somehow most Americans are coming up deficient.  I have become a believer in the power of pork, I firmly believe that rendering lard from pastured pork and drinking raw milk are what healed my husband of his osteoporosis.

So we are hamming it up this week!
Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki and Fried Rice
Tuesday: Spinach Quiche with Ham and Tossed Salad (pie crust recipe)
Wednesday: Grilled Pork Chops and Colcannon (from my freezer)
Thursday: Homestyle Mac and Cheese with Ham and Collards
Friday: Ham and Pineapple Pizza
Saturday: Corned Beef and Cabbage (from the Nourished Kitchen)
Sunday: Oven Fajitas (from my freezer)


My ham came in 2-3 pound roasts, so I think if I take one and dice it, I should be able to get three meals out of it this week.  I am also going to cure my own Corned Beef.  I am really excited about this process.  It takes a week so I am starting Sunday.  I have cured my own bacon before and it was an amazing experience this should be a lot easier.  I am sure it will make a very special St. Patrick's Day feast!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Veggie Wash

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In my transition to the traditional diet, I have chosen to invest my money in high-quality animal products.  Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, raw milk, and coconut oil.  This leaves little room in my budget to buy organic produce.  So my dilemma is the pesticide residue I know that lingers all over my fruits and veggies.  My solution is to first keep my family's immune systems very strong and encourage a lot of exercise for the purpose of detoxification.  On top of that, I have started using this homemade veggie wash to break down any residue on the outside of the fruit and veggies.  I know this isn't the best case scenario, but for my budget right now it is.

In a tall pitcher mix
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons baking soda
20 drops of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract-a natural antiviral)

Stir all ingredients.  Allow it to stop foaming.  Put in a clean spray bottle.  Do not attempt to double this recipe.  In the large pitcher the solution will rise.

To use spray veggies and fruit down well.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Rinse with a sprayer if possible.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

40 Bags, 40 Days Almost Halfway

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I must be totally honest, I was looking forward to cleaning out all the junk from my house, I think the Lord was planning on cleaning some of the junk out of my heart. I am finding it tough to keep motivated, not so much because of the cleaning, but because I know with each step I have to give up one more thing...one more thing. Why is it that these things are pulling on me so much?

I have been reading another woman's blog about loving your house. I must say that this is very hard for me to do. I could list all of the reasons I don't like my house. It is small...really small. And our family has grown so large. Shouldn't it be time for us to move onto something larger, be more established, more grown up? Then it hits me, like a 2x4. None of these ideas come from the Lord, they are lustful worldly thoughts. I'm swirled in a tornado of guilt, there are kids dying, hungry, homeless all over the world. I tuck my kids into to clean sheets and trip on the hundreds of toys they have, not one that they really need. I'm frustrated that my fridge is narrow...my fridge that is crammed with food from week to week in a world where many go hungry. I am so obsessed with the next best thing, I am missing the lovely thing right in front of me.

There has been this pulsing voice in my head "godliness with contentment is great gain"... over and over.."godliness with contentment is great gain"...I can't get it to stop. I look it up, the verse reads, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

How is this, that I who call myself a follower of Jesus, who owned no real estate, had no investment portfolio, can find myself so wrapped up in what I don't have? Something within me is changing. As I fill these bags, my intention is not to clean house, but to really have less. To stop clinging to things that have no real value. My faith is strengthened, not that God will give me the material desires of my greedy heart, but that He will create in me a heart like His.

I feel this greed, this lack of contentment leaving my soul with each thing I pull out of the closet or off the shelf and place in that bag. I am in a state of awe-filled wonder of what my home will feel like and look like once I part with all these bags. Will I see the home God intended me to raise my children in? The home of love and simplicity? I hope so.


“You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
Charles H. Spurgeon


Blessings to you on your Lenten journey.



Love and Butter,


Mishelle
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Homemade Hand Soap

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I have been making homemade laundry detergent for quite some time now.  It was a financial savior for us.  I've never been able to count how much laundry we do here, but it averages 2-5 loads a day.  I was using a bottle of detergent almost every 2-3 days.  It seems to be becoming more mainstream and more people I know are doing it.  That being said, being a homeschooling mom of four, the people I am able to know at this point in my life are a tighter circle of minds.  About a year ago, I was out of hand soap and I started wondering if I could use the same idea with a bar of ivory.  I grated it and added water to it and made a gallon of hand soap.  It was a little stringy, but it did the trick.  A gallon for less than a dollar.  I was spending far more on the refill bottles, so I was happy!

Thanks to the lovely world of Pinterest, I have found that I wasn't the only one who had this idea.  I found 3 or 4 different versions of hand soap and a lot of comments to figure out how I could improve on my own.  The main problem now is when you pump the soap into your hand it hangs in a string from the pump instead of breaking off.  We've been using it so long we've just adapted the way we use the pump...no biggie, but I figured I would give some of the suggestions a shot.  Here is the one I ended on.

Homemade Hand Soap by the Gallon
Materials
1 bar of soap (I used Dr. Bonner's Lavender)
2 TBS of liquid glycerin
1 gallon jug
1 medium sauce pan
warm water
Directions:  Grate the bar of soap into the pan.  Fill 3/4 of the way with water.  Heat on med.  Stirring until soap dissolves (this will vary on different soaps).  Add glycerin.  Allow to cool.  Add to gallon jug.  Fill to near top with warm water.  Shake.  Allow to sit overnight, it should solidify within 24-48 hours.



I am not a 100% positive that the addition of glycerin helped all that much.  My health food store also only had a large bottle and it was $10.  In the end, I'm not adding that much cost to my liquid soap, but up front that was more than I wanted to spend.  I also have started using Dr. Bonner's which runs $3-4, but it doesn't contain sulfates. I am glad that it is still cheap, that way when my kids decide to "make bubbles" I am not washing so much money down the drain.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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