Category Archives: Confessional

Dark Days Over!

So the dark days are officially over and I no longer need to detail what we ate the previous week. I’m not sure if it’s helpful to everyone to imagine just what is stewing or baking in my kitchen or not so I’ll pose it as a question. Is it helpful? Should I continue? Because I have to confess I’ve cheated a bit this week.

We needed to make a Costco run for beer and to find some large resin pots to finish the bamboo house. Also Pancake Boy ran through the dim basement and was clotheslined by a chord connected to the XBox which pulled off the shelf. When that happened the Lego Batman disc was irreparably scratched so we were looking for a replacement for it before Pickle Man came home from school.

I broke into a cold sweat while we were in the refrigerated section looking for something my kind hearted neighbor had asked me to get. In a moment of weakness I bought a large bag of string cheese, all individually wrapped inside a larger plastic casing. I’m going to hell on so many fronts. It’s not organic, nor is it local. But TBall season is starting up and that coupled with planting out the spring/summer garden has left me desperate for some quick snacks that I can throw in the car or that the kids can free range for by themselves.

Last winter I had figured out how to get my own homemade mozzarella to string but paying retail price for raw cows milk was a little hard to swallow when most of it was turned into whey and nobody wanted to drink that. Making cheese at home is fun but not really cost effective so we had to end that little hobby until I can talk my husband into getting a mini goat.

And then because I had already sinned I broke down and bought a large bag of pepperoni slices for kids pizzas. To make up for that one I’m making my own pepperoni this week. That will be nice for the ham jowel in my utility room to have some company. Because raw fermented meat doesn’t like to hang out alone.

For our April grocery store pics my husband chose sausages so we’ve been eating a lot of those. They have been quick to toss on the grill while I’m working in the yard or saucing the remaining boxes of rotting apples in my garage. I like to fantasize that it’s my root cellar but most root cellars don’t have automatic door openers.

I do have some photos of crackers and English muffins and pepperoni pizzas and sausages on homemade buns but it’s not much and probably not too inspirational.

To end on an up note my soapwort seeds finally arrived. I’m looking forward to figuring out how to make my own liquid hand soap with them later this summer. I also decided to try and grow sweet potatoes in the re purposed coffee bags from www.upcyclenw.com in my parking strip. I’ll be adding those to my crazy planting list. I don’t know that I’ll get anything but if you aren’t taking chances gardening, you are leaving a lot of food off the table. And I’m working on my April can jam entry. I was so busy with the hog processing last month that I missed the March allium deadline and I hate missing a challenge.

And for anyone who missed it, I’m having an open garden this upcoming Saturday from 1-4 and hopefully I’ll find the camcorder charger so I can put up a virtual tour for anyone who can’t make it. If you can only come during the week let me know and we’ll schedule a weekday tour. I’m also going to be on the Sustainable NE Seattle tour in May and then will have another open garden in early July once the fall/winter planting have been put in. I hope I’ll inspire some of you with existing gardens to put in winter crops and ditch the grocery store all next winter along with me.

Finally, I got around to putting up a new page tonight which you can find along the sidebar entitled Why Do I Bother? It’s a little glimpse into my madness and what led me to completely shun the grocery store, processed food companies and feed lot operations. I’m so grateful that I was crazy enough to take this journey, as wacky as it sounded at the time. It’s the best New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made!

Ditching the OJ Habit

My husband’s got a bad habit. And I’m not just talking about the dirty clothes piled up on the floor right next to the hamper.

He’s an orange juice drinker. He did great the first 6 months of our eat local pledge but then when his birthday rolled around I bought him a half gallon of orange juice and a bag of tortilla chips since I knew he was missing those. And then once he drank orange juice again he wanted to keep drinking it so he was buying it occasionally.

We had the conversation about how it was a gateway juice that could lead to more serious digressions and he really should just say no. But try as he might he just couldn’t shake his orange juice cravings. And seeing as there currently exists no twelve step program or clinic where one can go and be cured of this addiction the habit has continued.

I’ve taken some measure like making grape juice last summer from foraged local grapes. I’ve bought rockin’ Rockridge Orchards apple cider on many occasions for a bait and switch. I’ve even tried to get him hooked on CommuniTea kombucha which was almost working until he drank the bottle dregs one day and swallowed some scoby. I’ve even planted seaberries and a Yuzu tree in the hopes that I’ll be able to make seaberry or yuzu juice that will stop this non-local, non-seasonal addiction.

I finally broke down and bought a cheap electric juicer at Target and a case of organic oranges. I told him if he wanted orange juice that he would be juicing it himself because I was not about to give any money to a company owned by Coca Cola, no matter how nostalgic that company might have been for me (from the days before they were bought by said large evil corporation.)

He grumbled and mumbled but he’s been juicing the oranges.

Then today I saw a story in my google reader which I forwarded to him immediately. And boy does it make me feel good about my decision to make him juice his own.

Did you know that orange juice flavor comes not from the orange juice itself but from the “flavor pack” and it has since the ’60′s?

Without that flavor pack you would actually be able to taste the poor quality and oxidizing, flat flavor in that orange juice. It makes perfect sense that something that starts oxidizing the minute you juice it would not be so tasty weeks later when you buy it at the grocery store. That’s not the oranges you are tasting, it’s “orange essence,” designed by a specialty company just like your perfume. Flavor packs are then sold back to orange juice manufacturers to create the flavor profile they desire.

You can read more about it here. Just maybe there will be a run on electric juicers now…

Confessions of a Hyper-Locavore

Allright, it’s time for me to come clean. Friday while shopping for sweetener, soap and bulk Glory Bee honey at PCC I felt a tinge of guilt. My toddler was pointing to the Annie’s bunny crackers pleading in that sweet little Oliver Twist voice that is so hard to refuse.

Since taking our pledge for 2009 of not buying any processed food unless we know where every ingredient comes from and how it is made the only thing I’ve bought that sort of breaks these rules are Tillamook and Beecher’s cheeses. Tillamook is from OR and Beechers is made in Seattle but I don’t know the cows or how they were raised. Neither claims to be organic so I’m sure they aren’t. They are in clear violation. In my defense I had no idea that cheese would become our single most expensive item. And we eat a lot of it!

But the crackers and cereal are hard habits for my little guys to break. I’ve been experimenting with dried cereal and “narfs” in the dehydrator and made crackers in the oven a few times but frankly I’m finding it hard to make time for extras like those. And I just can’t make crackers in the form of cute little crunchy bunnies.

So I broke down. The kids are thrilled but I had to come clean so that you all can keep me honest. It would be so easy to let that stuff start sneaking in again but I know once it starts so does the constant whining for things, the arguments over why we don’t buy things like that, and that escalating bad behaviour once they eat that stuff.

I’m having a serious case of cracker remorse. ..

p.s. I had forgotten about this one until I opened the butter door in the fridge tonight. I’ve been reading about Kerry butter from Trader Joe’s and my neighbor phoned when she was there asking if I needed anything. I had her buy me butter. From Ireland. It’s really good and insanely cheap for what everyone has blogged to be pastured, organic butter but it doesn’t say that on the label. And now I have to come clean about that as well.

p.p.s. I had also forgotten about this one – I bake predominantly with coconut oil now that we have cut all seed oil out of our diet and that certainly doesn’t grow anywhere around here either. You *could* do all your baking with butter and frying with ghee but that is way too pricey for me. I’m hoping to do a post at some point on why seed oil is harmful and why coconut oil really isn’t but there are so many projects to go this spring that I’m having a hard time staying relatively sane! For now just google and do some reading on your own…