Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nutrition, Nutritionist and Well Balanced

I have never had the opportunity to talk with a nutritionist or to hear their opinions on food, until this morning.  Joining in on a conference call I heard one nutritionists opinion of good nutrition on the go, sadly my thoughts were extremely different from theirs.  I listened as simple meal planning was discussed things such as know what's in your pantry before you go to the store, getting ideas for meals from grocery store flyers and even getting meal ideas from looking at the meals on prepackaged food.  What I did not hear was the nutritional value of todays veggies and fruits versus those of fifty years ago, nor was anything mentioned about organic, locally grown, growing your own or gmo's, or what makes a balanced meal.  Yes, I know that we all supposedly know what makes a balanced meal, but sometimes reminders are helpful. 

I agree with knowing what is in your pantry before you go shopping, I have an inventory spreadsheet for the pantry, refrigerator and each of the deep freezes.  As an item gets used, it gets marked off.  By doing this I learn quite a few things, first what I am needing to buy, second what my family likes to eat the most of and third, if not the most important, what items I need to grow more of and preserve.  For example, canned tomatoes, last year we grew or supplemented our supply from the farmer's market enough to can 12 cases of tomatoes in quarts and 6 cases of pints.  Two cases of quarts and pints went to my parents and the rest were for Farmer Joe and myself.  I am now down to a half a case of quarts and no pints.  By keeping up with this on my inventory sheet it tells me that for the next year I need to do more tomatoes.  I am thinking a total of 18 cases of quarts and 10 cases of pints this year may get us through. 

Now I disagree with getting meal ideas from grocery store flyers and I vehemently disagree with getting ideas from prepackaged foods.  If you can look at a flyer get an idea for a meal and use ingredients that are organic or non gmo or as close as you can get then go for it.  When I shop now I read all labels.  This is not something that I used to do, but things have changed.  I look now for any item that can be gmo, amounts of sugar and what preservatives if any are used.  The fewer sugars and preservatives I find great.  Any item that could be gmo and it goes back on the shelf.  But getting ideas from prepackaged food, no way!!  First if I look at that package and think yum, then I am more inclined to buy it and it probably cost more than what I am willing to pay.  And who knows what has gone into that package.  From the processing to the preserving, I don't want any part of it.  Yes, it may be delicious.  Yes, it has vegetables which are good for you.  But look at the ingredients, read the fine print, read the nutritional label.  And then as for me, put it back on the shelf. 

If I want foods that are healthy and full of nutrition I am either going to run out to the garden and pick it, purchase it at my local farmer's market, or raise and slaughter it.  Then I can process and preserve on my own, store it at my house and shop in my freezer.  There are so many benefits to this, that to me it is astounding.  First that nutrition value thing again, fresh picked is definitely the best, but I feel that the processing I would do is a lot less than a commercial company so I retain more of that value.  Second, a sense of accomplishment and well being.  Looking out over the garden's or at a nice meaty hog I have feeling of fulfillment in knowing that something I have nurtured has grown, matured and become productive.  Third, the time and money I save on grocery shopping.  That was an hour or two a week I was spending in a store that can now be spent at home, with Farmer Joe, visiting friends or just doing anything.  Now I spend on average one hour about every three weeks in a grocery store.  And between the gas money to get there and back and the money I save on overpriced foods, our family budget is taking a turn for the better.  We have a fun fund and by saving money each week on not shopping we are able to stick some back for something either Farmer Joe or I want, love the little indulgences.  Fourth, having on hand what I need when I need it.  Feel like pork chops tonight?  Ok, let me lay out a pack to thaw while we are at work.  No more...uh pork chops, let me see do we have any....no....well I can pick some up on the way home.  Wrong.  Wasted gas, wasted time.  Not anymore!!  Fifth, community.  In years when we have an over abundance of something and I just can't bear to can one more jar, we share it with family and neighbors.  People appreciate that gesture, plus it gives you time to visit, get to know each other, renew a sense of community.  When you know your neighbors, you have a natural tendency to look after them and they look after you.  If I don't see our elderly neighbor for two days, we call or go by to make sure everything is ok.  On the other hand if they see a strange car at our place when we aren't home they make sure to mention it to us.  And let me tell you, in my four house community, nothing goes unnoticed.

There are a great many more benefits I could ramble on about, but enough of my opinion for one day. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Soul Cravings

Everyone craves something at sometime.  Most common are food cravings, you know when you get that sweet tooth and just have to have that extra piece of cake.  Well, I get soul cravings.  Things that I just really feel the need to do or a place that I just feel I need to be.  The warmer the weather gets, the more I feel the need to be outdoors, whether it is in the garden, walking in the woods or just sitting by a creek.  These things relax me and rejuvenate my sense of well being.  This week I am craving knitting.  I just have the overwhelming urge to finish a project and start a new one.  By doing this it feeds my sense of accomplishment.  When there are things in life that are beyond my control, finishing a project lets me sit back and know that even though it may be something small in the overall scheme of things I can complete it.  My other soul cravings seem to take the form of reading or cooking.  Reading a good book, especially one with a happy ending, restores my sense that sometimes things really will work out.  With all the depressing news reports today, every now and then you just need a happily ever after.  Cooking a large or extra special meal gives me the sense that I am taking care of my family.  We sit down together and enjoy each other, and getting a full tummy is just a side benefit.  In addition it lets us slow down from a hectic day and just take a moment to breathe.  I am a firm believer that if you listen, your body will tell you what you need whether it be physically or spiritually.  Just take a second and listen to it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Baby Superhero Blanket

A friend of mine and her husband are expecting their first baby in a few weeks and I wanted to make them a baby blanket.  I had visions in my head of what it should look like, but my reality never lives up to those visions.  The theme for their nursery is comic book superheroes.  After ditching my first two attempts, I came upon a pattern I thought would work.  I had chosen the colors of cobalt blue, red and yellow all in cotton.  This is what I came up with.

Sorry the first picture is so dark, and the second one is blurry, but I am hoping you can get the jist of the pattern.  The hat turned out ok, but I did love the blanket. 

I used the Optimistic Stripe Throw pattern from Redheart for the body of the blanket.   I did not like the border though for a baby boy so I opted for the border on the Sweet Potato Baby Blanket

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Morning Singers

This is what I was listening to this morning as I sat on the porch swing with my coffee.

The following pictures are individual shots of the "choir"

I think this is an Indigo Bunting, but not sure yet.  Need to get a clearer picture. 

A Rose Breasted Grosbeak has stopped by for a while on his migration route.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

40 is not the new 29

It started out innocent and simple, I wanted to clean out from around the peonies and put down some mulch.  So on Saturday while running our errands we picked up five bags of mulch, just enough I figured to do the job.  With all the running we did not get to start on this project till Sunday morning.  Farmer Joe tackled one group of peonies and I went at the other.  Briars were trimmed and dug up, weeds and leaf litter gotten rid of and then the mulch went down.  I actually had enough to do a third group of peonies that I did not realize were there.  Farmer Joe and I stepped back to admire our landscaping, then we looked at each other.  Wouldn't it look better if those two dogwoods and the azalaes and the boxwoods had mulch around them too????  Back to the store we went with trailer in tow for more mulch.  And since we were there let's just look to see if we can find something to prop up the rose bush with, oh, and aren't those purple azaleas pretty??  Back home we head with 54 bags of mulch, 2 trellises, 2 azalea plants, 2 (more) finch feeders and and extra bag of bird see, just in case. 

First we completed mulching around the azaleas that got us started thinking.

Then around the other dogwoods and azalea bush.

The two new azalea's that were planted in between the dogwoods trees on the left in the above picture.

And finally the rose bush arbor came together.  The picture is a little crooked, not the actual trellis.  To me this is the most dramatic transformation.  You see this is my grandmother's house that we live in now and she planted this rose about fifty years ago.  Then when she got older she was afraid that someone might hide behind it and come after her so she kept it trimmed severely and bound up.  As in there were wire ties going half way up and the top half just sort of drooped back down to the ground.  I lost Nana on March 2nd of this year and seeing her flowers blooming and how beautiful the rose looks untied I am hoping that she is smiling and likes the changes we have made.  Ok, enough or I am going to start bawling.  Back to work.

After completing almost all the landscaping, we still had 18 bags of mulch left, we needed to feed.  And that meant we had to pour into barrels the pig feed that we picked up on Saturday.  All 975 pounds of it.  Now I can pick up a bag of mulch, but by no means can I lift those feed bags.  However, I can manhandle them into an upright position and get them opened so Farmer Joe can do the heavy lifting and dump them into barrels. 

About 7:00 that night I am laying on the couch moaning in pain and praying for the ibuprofen to kick in.  Parts of me that had not gotten a lot of use over the winter were protesting about how much work we did today.  I looked at Farmer Joe and said "Next time I get the idea to do lot's of yard work in one day, remind me that I am 40 and not 29!"

Fatback and Lost Photo Upload

First let me say a huge thanks to Hermit Jim over at  Coffee With The Hermit for helping me figure out how to load photos once again.  It seems that blogger changed things around on me and for the life I could not figure out how to get photos that I had taken uploaded.   So now I can publish all my posts that are sitting out in my drafting file.  Yay!!!

Hog Jowl's and fatback waiting to be sliced

  So a couple of weeks back, we took the Hog Jowl's and Fatback out of the smokehouse where they had been curing covered in salt.  First we sliced the skin off and then ran them thru the slicer on a slightly thick setting.  Just to be sure it tasted ok, Farmer Joe quickly fried some up.  Oh my!!  Sweet and salty deliciousness.  After the quality check we proceeded to weigh out and package.  We left most of the fatback in chunks, but did slice some and we sliced all of the jowl meat.  We opted for 3/4 pound packages as 1/2 seemed to little and a whole pound just seemed a little much for Farmer Joe and myself at one time.  Vacuum sealed all those babies up and plopped them in the freezer.  Final count 13 packages of jowl's and 27 packages of fatback.  It is supposed to be cold and rainy this weekend and I think a pot of beans with some fatback on the woodstove will be just perfect.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gluestick not Chapstick

Some people should use a gluestick instead of chapstick.  You know the ones I am talking about, people that talk incessantly without having anything to really say.  Now don't get me wrong I always enjoy a good conversation, a lively debate and even random observations.  But people who comment on everything or tell me things and think that I should have some interest in them get on my last nerve.  You don't have to tell me the sky is blue, I can look and see that for myself.  No, I don't know your Great Aunt Myrtle on your father's side and I am sorry but I could care less about her gall bladder.  Yes, you can lay your jacket there, no it is not in my way.  Yes, the garbage truck just went by ( I am sitting in front of the window it passed).  Yes the chair speaks, I can plainly hear it.   Some may laugh and say this sounds like a child's conversation but this is coming from adults.  And inane chatter when I am busy at a task is like a mosquito buzzing near your ear in a dark room as you are trying to fall asleep, ANNOYING!  I know everyone has pet peeves and I want to thank you for letting me vent about one of mine.  Sometimes you just need to rant a little to calm your nerves.  What are the annoying things that get to you?