Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fun at the Farmers Market and Menu Plan for the Week!

We love going to Mulberry Street Market every Wednesday. We love talking with the farmers about the food they are growing for us, learning about veggies we were not previously familiar with (like burgundy okra, and an amazing assortment of heirloom melons), and stocking up on foods we know are full of nutrients and free from toxins.  Of course on most weeks, you will also find me there, selling my Bee Beautiful Products via my friends at Beans Farm or Salamander Springs Farm.  Next year we are very excited about having our own booth!

We are 100% dedicated to only eating what I would call "clean meats" now (you know, meat from pasture raised and finished animals that are never given hormones, antibiotics, or GMO-laden feed), and the market helps us out with that considerably. While we raise our own chickens (and eggs), we get our beef from Hunter Cattle Company, and our pork from Evergreen East Farm.  Evergreen East raises a heritage pig breed called mulefoot pigs, and they provide us with pork chops (among other things) that are just BURSTING with flavor, even downright buttery. We love 'em!  Hunter Cattle has a great selection of cuts, and we have absolutely loved getting our chuck roasts, sirloin, neckbone (mmm...pulled beef!), ground beef, and more from them. We have also gotten some delicious raw milk cheeses, as well as organic grassfed butter, from Southern Swiss Dairy.

We get our fruits and vegetables every week from a variety of places.  Davis Farm has an astounding array of heirloom melons which Joshua adores for breakfast.  We have also gotten sweet potatoes, purple basil, burgundy okra, pea tendrils, and beans from them.  We have gotten a veritable cornucopia of eggplant, cucumbers, okra, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and summer squash from Beans Farm, Vesterfield Farm, Salamander Springs Farm, and The Little Farm.  We have gotten a few canned goods, too, like jams, jellies, and apple and pear butter from Salamander Springs Farm, salsa from The Little Farm, and pickles from Greenway Farm.

So I have decided that from now on, I will link my readers to the farms we get our food from when we do our menu plan. Sadly, we missed seeing our friends at Evergreen East at the market this week, so our pork chops are from Hunter Cattle, who also raise pigs!  Their chops are also quite good!  Anyway, every week when I do my menu plan, I'll include the farms from which each meal was sourced so local readers can get their hands on these delectable local foods!  As usual, where allergy means that Joshua's meal varies from ours, I list what he has, too!

OK, here is our menu for this week!

Breakfast - Ham, Eggs, fried grits (kind of like polenta, but a slightly different texture) Just Ham and grits for Joshua.
Lunch - leftover spaghetti & meatballs (with quinoa spaghetti).  I usually make my own sauce but this week both the sauce AND the meat for the meatballs came from Hunter Cattle
Dinner - NY Strip Steak, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli (Apparently Thursday is Hunter Cattle day).

Breakfast - (Butternut) Squash Pancakes (recipe here) (We're using flax seed & water to replace the eggs so Joshua and my nephew Jo can have them, these are already gluten & grain free) ((the squash is actually from Corley Farm, but via Beans Farm's booth @ the market).
Lunch - Steak sandwich (with pea tendrils and bean sprouts)
Dinner - Pork Chops (marinated in olive oil, cinnamon basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a splash of ACV), Baked Sweet Potato, braised greens (w/ham and cooked in rendered bacon fat). (the mustard and turnip greens come from Salamander Springs Farm, which does not have a website but is at Mulberry Street Market every week!)

Breakfast - Smoothies, toast with apple butter (Joshua will have some fresh pear instead of smoothies). The Apple Butter is from Salamander Springs.
Lunch - BLTs, hard boiled egg yolk w/a little olive oil and sea salt for Joshua (pea tendrils instead of lettuce on our sandwiches)
Dinner - Chuck Roast with onions, potatoes, and carrots (Dessert is chocolate cake I'm trying with gluten free flour.  Will post results.  We are celebrating Jeff's bro and sis in law completing their move.  Hooray!)

Breakfast - Eggs, Venison Sausage, Toast and Apple Butter (no eggs for Joshua)
Lunch - Smoothies, fruit, celery & peanut butter (no PB for Joshua yet, he'll have fresh cucumbers, which he loves)
Dinner - Roast Beef Sandwiches (from the leftover roast)

Breakfast - Chocomole
Lunch -  Roast Beef Sandwiches
Dinner - Tacos (Beef) w/guacamole, salsa, tomatoes, Aztec Cheddar, and lettuce (on gf corn tortillas)

Breakfast - Eggs, Venison Sausage (just sausage and pear for Joshua)
Lunch - L/O tacos
Dinner - BBQ Chicken on the grill, grilled squash, baked sweet potato.

Breakfast - Smoothies, fresh fruit (just the fruit for Joshua)
Lunch - Leftover buffet
Dinner - Chicken (in the crockpot with carrots, potato, and onion)

And that is the week!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Menu Plan & Our Busy Week(s)

This week has been busy busy busy, which is why I feel like it is Monday, still, when it is actually Thursday.  Time flies when you cram your schedule full, right?  The end of this week and all of next week look no different, really.  So I am pretty sure that October will be here before I even know what really happened to August (which is, I am afraid, long gone, along with my formerly favorite season. Middle GA has turned me into a spring/fall gal)!  Time and I do not really get along as well as I would like.

Next week holds time at the IHOP in Macon on Sunday, lots of work on flooring and painting the other side of the house Mon-Saturday, with a little reprieve on Wednesday for the Mulberry Street Farmer's Market (and a trip to the library before that!).  In the meanwhile some fantastic folks and I are working together to put on a worship workshop for area churches by November, so a lot of planning and working for that will be going on in this next week, as well!  Never a dull moment!  It is at times like these that I really appreciate menu planning and the little bit of steadiness it brings to our lives.  How much crazier these days would be if I had to ask myself every afternoon, "Oh, what about dinner? What can I make?"

So I am going to list wherever Joshua's meal will break from our own in my menu planning from now on, because it really helps me to be prepared for what to feed him (instead of leaving his food to the last minute).

Thursday (tonight!): 
 Breakfast: Bacon & Eggs, (for Joshua bacon, fruit, and gluten free O's)
Lunch: Roast Beef (with a side of mashed sweet potatoes for Joshua)
Dinner: Sirloin Steak (pan-seared), Salad, and Rice

Breakfast: Oatmeal/Fruit (For Joshua probably just O's instead of oatmeal)
Lunch: L/O Steak (steak sandwich for me), (L/O spaghetti squash for Joshua)
Dinner: Tacos / Guacamole

Breakfast: Huevos Ranchero (Fruit, and hard boiled egg yolk for Joshua, we are switching up the fruits so he doesn't get too bored)
Lunch: L/O tacos
Dinner: Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans

Breakfast: Bacon & Eggs, Smoothie (Just bacon & fruit for Joshua)
Lunch: Yogurt, fruit, toast (L/O Fish & Veggies for Joshua) (Lunch is quick and portable because we are stopping at home only for lunch before heading out to IHOP)
Dinner (on the go): Sandwiches (on gf bread for Jeff) w/nitrate free lunch meat

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit & nuts for me, Smoothie for Jeff, & fruit and O's for Joshua
Lunch:  Tuna for us,   HB Egg yolk & fruit for Joshua
Dinner:  Ham Roast in the Crockpot, Baked & Mashed Sweet Potato, Squash (Sauteed in rendered bacon fat...yum!)

Breakfast: Eggs & Waffles (egg free & gf waffles) (Joshua will add fruit and nix the eggs, maybe add some bacon)
Lunch:  Yogurt, Fruit, Toast w/PB (For me), L/O's from Dinner for Joshua, Tuna for Jeff
Dinner: Italian Shredded Beef Sandwiches (GF rolls for Jeff)

Breakfast: huevos ranchero (Fruit & O's for Joshua)
Lunch:  L/O Beef Sandwiches
Dinner: Ham & Eggs w/Grits (Nix the eggs for Joshua)

And that is our week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meal Plan 9/8-9/14

The week ahead (and the end of this week we are finishing) holds many great things, and I am so excited about them! Tomorrow is my first worship practice since joining our church worship team! So many other things are also on the horizon, and I cannot wait to see them come together!

As I said in my last post, I plan our meals from Thursday - Wednesday now, since we do the bulk of our grocery shopping at the Farmers Market, on Wednesdays, and we do not always know what is going to be there. Our meat order does not change very often, but who has what vegetables and fruits changes routinely. And, of course, how you cook a certain type of meat can change drastically based on what you have to put with it. 

Here is some of what we have been finding lately at our farmers market!

Spaghetti Squash - We have recently discovered this gluten-free wonder. Our "experiment" with gluten free is over and this is what we have learned: I do fine with gluten, but have lost almost 20 lbs doing low(er) carb eating.  Jeff, however, definitely has a problem tolerating gluten.  On the one hand this is great news: we now know how to keep Jeff healthy and have seen from other real food bloggers that it might be possible to reverse this over a lengthy period of time.  On the other hand, though, it is a big adjustment.  Quinoa pasta is great, but it is expensive, too.  Thankfully, a friend of ours at the market has had an abundance of spaghetti squash.  The added bonus is that Joshua LOVES it.  He eats spaghetti squash with both hands!

Fried Okra - There has definitely been a surplus of this at the market, as well.  We have found a good gf flour mix that we like, and we do half gf flour, half organic corn meal, with plenty of seasonings.  Fried in pastured lard, this is almost guilt-free (it is not entirely low-carb, of course).

Sweet Potatoes - Of course, we cannot get enough of these, anyway. We are a sweet potato loving family!  We will mash them, bake them, fry them, oven-fry them (with Food Renegade's recipe!), and then some.

Eggplant - I never knew I liked eggplant before!  Cooked up in a little bit of rendered bacon fat with Italian seasoning, this stuff is pretty incredible!

Squash (summer) - we already like squash, nothing really too new here.  We cook it like the eggplant, or we skewer it for grilling with a nice marinade.

Green beans (of varying kinds) - nothing too foreign for either of us, here, either.

Melons - One booth in particular has a vast assortment of melons, and I must confess we do not know the names of everything we have brought home.  One thing is sure, though, Joshua LOVES melons of all kinds.

Pears - While we all enjoy pears, Joshua has enjoyed more of these than we have, since I am always looking for foods that he can snack on and we are trying to keep things relatively low-grain for him.

OK, so that is the basic assortment of what we have been eating lately, now onto the meal plan!

Thursday (yesterday) - Fried Okra, organic Grits, and a hamsteak.

Friday - Blackbeans and Rice, Beef (stew beef, technically) sauteed with onions and garlic, organic blue corn chips, homemade guacamole with fresh peppers from the market.

Saturday - Beef Kebabs for lunch with the fam (painting day), Pork Chops, Sweet Potato, and Green/Purple beans for dinner

Sunday - Breakfast for Dinner - bacon, eggs, and homemade gf waffles

Monday - Spaghetti Squash and meatballs (Gluten Free meatballs, using oat flour instead of bread crumbs), Eggplant sauteed with onions and garlic

Tuesday - Leftover Buffet

Wednesday - Chuck Roast in the Crock Pot (with carrots, celery, and onion), and rice.

So that is our week!  I am looking forward to it, both for the menu and all the great things we have going on!

The Only Constant Thing (aside from God's unfailing love) is Change

So, the little blogger app for my phone has not helped me post more frequently, it seems.  That tiny keyboard drives me nuts for anything longer than a text message.  But I digress.

My son, Joshua, is growing so so quickly!  With moving to a new place and trying to get my home settled, I never did try to make my own baby food.  We were getting baby food free from WIC, anyway; so while I wanted to do something better for him, I accepted that our needs were being met and an overwhelmed mommy was not going to do him any good.  Then I read "Real Food for Mother and Baby," by Nina Planck, and we threw out the baby food altogether (this is just in the last month and a half). Joshua now eats - basically - whatever we eat.  He definitely has a dairy allergy, and we have recently discovered an egg white allergy.  No fun, but, I am learning so much about sticking to real foods and avoiding his allergies. So his breakfasts differ from ours (because we eat a lot of eggs and a lot of smoothies), and some of his other meals, too. So this another reason for infrequent posts, because I have been spending so much time in the kitchen I have not left myself time for writing about the kitchen.

Joshua basically eats meats, fruits, veggies, and some grains. While I have not seen an outright allergic reaction to wheat, his dad is gluten intolerant so I am being pretty wary of it. Some wheat things he seems to handle fine, and with other wheat foods his eczema has seemed to flair up.  Lately, though, the eczema is diminishing greatly, and now he mostly breaks out in hives when he has a reaction.

I have to say, as much as I hated the eczema, I kind of prefer it to anything that could point to possible anaphylactic shock (which hives can be a precursor to in severe allergic reactions). I know it is a long shot but we are dealing with neurotic new mommy here and I have no shame in that.  Hives are scarier for me than red scaly skin.  I am sure Joshua prefers the hives, though, because they are transient and so he does not itch for nearly as long.

I have not seasoned anything as fully for him as I have for Jeff and myself, which means some extra steps in my cooking and such, but we tend to eat on the heavily seasoned side, and I do not know how he would handle things like peppers, or excessive garlic.  I would say we eat garlic in excess.

So breakfast is usually fruit of some kind, and some (organic and soy-free) gluten-free O's if he is extra hungry.  Fruit is either pears, bananas, or some kind of melon.  He actually seems to prefer the ones that taste almost more like lightly sweetened cucumber than like the sweet melons I am used to.  We have a good source of interesting heirloom melons at our local farmers market.

Lunch is often a reprise of the previous night's dinner, but sometimes is a hard-boiled egg yolk with a tiny bit of olive oil (to improve the texture) and some salt, along with cucumber slices.  He loves pork chops (and ham, and bacon), chicken is probably next on the list, and then beef last, but he will eat all of them. I have not really tried any fish with him yet.  I actually really want to try Nina Planck's suggestion of Salmon Roe, but it is pricey! If we have a little extra room in the grocery budget sometime soon, though, we will certainly give that a try. He likes the bone broth we've given him (so far just beef and chicken).

Sweet potatoes and green beans are probably his favorite cooked vegetables.  Though he also really likes squash, carrots, and broccoli.  Avocados, while technically a fruit, are probably his favorite raw veggie, but he only really gets those when we are eating Mexican. He likes rice, but I have not tried the quinoa with him, yet, in its whole form. He loves the quinoa pasta we get for Jeff, though. And he loves spaghetti squash and meatballs.

He has never had any kind of "dessert" food yet. He has never had anything with MSG or HFCS (and I hope to keep it that way for as long as I can). He has never had any juice, and never anything with any food dye in it (except in one teething gel when he first started teething. The cranky baby that resulted in has been motivation to keep him dye-free!). 

He is seriously loving the self-feeding experience.  And, in not pureeing anything, I get to eat my dinner at the same time as him, and family meal times are established. We eat together, we pray before we eat, we (generally) all leave the table at the same time.  The biggest downside, as we prepare for weaning, is that the more food he eats (and the less he nurses) the more he gravitates away from me, toward his dad.  And that is actually not a downside at ALL, but it does make me really miss those early days when Mommy was the most important one in his universe. Oh, dying to myself, why must you be so painful? Seriously, though, I love watching him watch Jeff. In play, when he works, all of it. He loves to sit and watch the chickens with Jeff, and he loves to watch Jeff's fish tank with him, too (a dream come true for Jeff, to be sure!).

He will be one year old in just shy of eight weeks and I am amazed, appalled, proud, nostalgic, happy, and bittersweet.  My little man is growing up!

I do our meal plans Thurs-Wednesday, now, because we do the bulk of our shopping at the Farmers Market, but stay tuned for a meal plan post that should have gone up today! :) 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fun at the Farmer's Market on my Birthday

I will start by telling you all that I totally forgot to take pictures again! Next week, though, I won't forget (I will put a reminder in my calendar on this nifty phone)!

So today is my real 29th birthday. On July 20, 1982 I entered the world singing and smiling (ok, probably not, but it sounds good, right?). I keep trying to tell everyone that every birthday from here on out can also be my 29th birthday, but so far the only takers are my friends who are also turning 29 this year. Oh, well!

I did get some good news today, though. We went to the Mulberry Street Market in Macon, today, which is going to be a weekly trend for its duration. There was a basket being raffled off, with contributions from many of the local vendors. Though I never, ever seem to win anything, Jeff snagged a ticket for me and -- lo and behold -- I won! This amazing basket contained three different kinds of peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, basil, sage, lavender, tomatoes, a jar of salsa, ground habaƱero (dried, of course), okra, two kinds of eggplant, a sweet potato, peanuts, and baked goods, including a small round loaf of sourdough bread. Hidden among the produce a coupon for a free drink at Jittery Joes stayed safely tucked away, where I stumbled upon it while unpacking our wares at home. All of the produce was local. All of it organic. Definitely worth the few dollars we paid for 2 tickets. Really. $3.00.

As of next week I will be selling a small sampling of my Bee Beautiful products; namely the bug repellent and deodorant. I am so excited about the fun we have, the friends we have made there, and the really incredible food we have found there!
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Can Post From My Phone!

Not that I adore typing lengthy posts from my teeny tiny slideout keyboard...but the main detriment to frequent posts, of late, has been that Tether quit working on my laptop.

Today, after weeks of blogless living, I suddenly realized there MUST be a mobile app that could come to my aid. Smart girl, right?

I will now be much more vigilant about keeping up my blogs!

Today we went to the Wesleyan Farmers Market, and had a lovely time. We met Kim & Kimberly from Beans Farm, and finally made some friends in our area with common interests (not just gardens and chickens...but MUSIC!). We also met Dave from D&A farm, right here in our town!

There was no meat at this market, but I was happy to learn that Greendale Farm vends not just in Athens, but on Wednesdays at a market closer to us.

So, all in all, it was a great day today; despite the fact that I did not want to get out of bed this morning (Who could blame me? Joshua is congested from a teething cold, and I got no sleep last night because of it!). I am signing off and taking a har-earned nap!
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Officially Gluten Free - Menu Plan Monday

So now we are officially doing the gluten-free thing for a couple of months, in addition to eating low-carb. The search for good high-protein snacks is on. This week's shopping trip is going to include a search for a good beef jerky that contains no soy (because we are also cutting that out) and definitely no MSG or other "hidden" sources of MSG.  I have a list of 5 brands I am going to look for, and later on I may post a review of the ones I was able to find.

Breakfast: kefir, gluten free waffles (also fairly low-carb)
Lunch: Meatballs and Sausage in tomato sauce (leftover from our Father's Day Dinner, but w/o the pasta)
Dinner: Bacon, Eggs, and Grits (Yay, Breakfast for dinner!). We got the bacon at the Athens Farmers Market, from Greendale Farm, and the stone ground organic yellow grits from Mills Farm.

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, cooked in delicious organic butter
Lunch: Chicken Salad in Celery Sticks (Chicken Salad made with delicious mayo using eggs from our own chickens!)
Dinner: @ Jeff's Mom's house

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Lunch: Chicken Salad in Celery Sticks
Dinner: Grass Fed Burgers (bunless) with Beef Gravy, Salad

Breakfast: Kefir, GF Waffles
Lunch: Leftover burgers / Salad
Dinner: Family Birthday Party

On the Road...

Breakfast: Bacon and Eggs
Lunch: Tuna/Egg Salad in Celery Sticks
Dinner: Chicken (in the crock pot with carrots, potatoes, and onions)

Breakfast: Kefir / GF Waffles
Lunch: Tuna/Egg Salad in Celery Sticks
Dinner: Grass fed "Country Style" Ribs, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli cooked in Organic Butter

And of course we plan to fill in the gaps and stave off hunger with plenty of high protein snacks, including hard boiled eggs, roasted nuts (almonds, pecans, and pistachios), and raw-milk cheese (which we also got from Greendale Farm).

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dietary Adjustments & Our Weekly Menu Plan

So it has been forever since I have posted a menu plan, with everything involved in getting this new house settled being so time consuming. I have still been planning, just not posting.  Now the flooring is down, the furniture is mostly into the living room, and we are finally starting to feel settled; so I feel like it is reasonable to spend time blogging again.

Everything involved in moving has really gotten the better of our sleep cycles, though. Couple that with having a baby and too much coffee and you have a serious case of adrenal fatigue.  To combat that, we are about to start going low-carb in a serious way. I have wanted to do this before, but I know that in order to keep your energy up, it is important to have a good source of healthy fats (you know, good butter [organic, but not grass fed, as we really do not have a cost effective source for this yet], and meats from grass fed animals with that nice, healthy, omega-3 rich fat, lots of eggs from hens on pasture), and we have not had a good source for any of those that was also economical until recently. NOW, we are making once-a-month trips to the Athens Farmers Market so we can stock up on good grass finished meats, raw cheese, and locally grown fresh organic produce. Our chickens are providing the eggs.

In addition to going low-carb, we are going gluten free, as of next Monday’s meal plan. We have been noticing some health issues that we thought we might try clearing up by living sans-gluten for a while. Since I have read that an allergic reaction to gluten can continue for 90 days after gluten is consumed, we are doing it for three months and then re-introducing gluten slowly to see what happens. While we usually avoid soy anyway, we are completely eliminating all un-fermented soy in any form (which makes gluten-free snacking a little tougher, but I found some nut-based “crackers” which are gluten-free and contain no soy…not an easy combo to find). We are also going to reduce even fermented soy consumption. You will see one Asian meal on the menu this week, for which we will use Tamari (a fermented soy sauce); but that will be the last one for a while.

The hardest thing for us in attempting to reduce carbs in the past has been snacking. So this time around, I am making sure to have veggies already cut up and eggs hard-boiled ahead of time, as well as roasting nuts (almonds, pistachios, pecans) ahead of time for snacking, too (We could just buy roasted nuts, but finding them without MSG can be tricky and costly).  We found some great artisanal raw milk cheeses at the farmer’s market, too, so we will have cheese for snacks as well.  Next week I am going to start planning breakfasts and lunches too, so that we can stick more easily to the low carb ideal.

As I understand it, low carb is limiting to no more than 60-80g of carbs per day.  So, if we happen to have a cereal for breakfast, there probably would not be a grain with lunch or dinner that day; but we are not going completely carb free or completely grain free. Quinoa, rice, and sweet potatoes will certainly grace our menu.

OK, without further ado, here is the plan:

Monday – Chicken (Slow-cooked in the crock pot, this is one of our backyard birds!), with potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and of course PLENTY of garlic.

Tuesday – Dinner w/Jeff’s Mom

Wednesday – Pork Chops, Sweet Potato Fries, and salad

Thursday – Chicken Egg Rolls and Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Friday – Chuck Roast (again in the trusty crock-pot), Salad

Saturday – Fish Tacos (with wild-caught Cod)

Sunday – Whole Wheat Tagliatelle (last gluten-containing meal!!) with homemade tomato sauce, plus meatballs and sausage from the farmer’s market).  Originally I had this meal planned as “leftovers,” and I like to have one leftovers night per week….but it’s Father’s Day, and Jeff requested this amazing whole wheat/sun dried tomato tagliatelle we found made fresh by a vendor at the farmer’s market. Last time we had it with homemade pesto, but this time he wanted to try a tomato based sauce.

Breakfasts this week are going to be eggs and bacon, or eggs and smoothies.  Lunches will mainly be dinner leftovers, with some sandwich-less chicken salad thrown in there. Snacks will be celery and peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, and roasted nuts.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday. Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for more great menu ideas!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Figuring This Out - Menu Plan March 21

So, last week was not a total bust, but I probably only did half of my planned meals. It was not a lack of desire, but it was my first week juggling care for our new chicks (we have 81!), care for the full grown chickens, of course taking care of my darling son, and trying to take care of the house and pack.  I did, as a matter of fact, get some packing done, though there is certainly more to do!  This week, however, I plan to be much more proactive in all of this.  I hate last minute scrambling to get a meal made (especially when it means I am eating dinner around 8:00 at night), or eating junk because it is quicker.  Ok, ok, the "junk" we have around is a lot healthier than "quick foods" that I used to eat, but it is still not the best I could be giving myself (and by proxy, my Joshua).

I started this last week by making to-do lists, and surprising myself with how much I got done. Now that I can make to-do lists on my phone with an app from Cozi, I am not as prone to lose the lists I make!

This week I am going to kick it up a notch by actually planning what time I need to get those things done, and see if that helps me to make the preparations I need to in order to stick to my menu plan. Any women out there whose husbands have had to be away for a time (military, traveling for work, whatever) who have tips on how to keep motivated and get rest...comment away.  

There are some repeats here, carried over from last week because I did not do them, or because I did not do them while Jeff was home.  This week I am cooking for both of us today through Wednesday, and myself the rest of the week.

Monday - Grilled Chicken Salad
Tuesday - Barley Burgers / Salad
Wednesday - Pork & Cranberry Stew (didn't do this last week because the weather ended up being much warmer than the forecast indicated, and I didn't feel like eating a stew in such warm weather)
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner (Waffles, Bacon, Eggs)
Friday - Leftovers (probably burgers, there are always plenty left over)
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - Leftovers (probably stew)

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday.  For more great posts, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Menu Plan for One (and a half)

I have to admit, it has been a couple weeks since I have actually laid out a menu plan, and this is largely because I find it very difficult to plan when cooking for one.  Jeff has been away during the week for the last couple weeks, as he is around our new house trying to get it ready for us to move into. He is working hard to prepare our home for us, and I am so grateful to have a husband who is willing to get the job done, even if it means being away from us for a little while. (Aside: It also paints a nice picture to remind us to long for Christ, who is preparing a place for us.)

Regardless, I find that life is so much easier when I plan our meals, so I need to make it a point to do so. Between Joshua and I both having the cold that has been going around (twice!) and trying to both clean the house and pack things we will not need for a while, not having a menu plan only added to the chaos -- NOT what I was going for!

So, here's the plan:

Monday - Pasta Alfredo with Chicken and Fresh Salad from our (winter) GARDEN! (homemade Alfredo Sauce)
Tuesday - Pineapple Pork Chop, Brown Rice, Salad (totally winging this recipe. At the moment I think I'm going to get some pineapple canned in its own juice, add garlic and honey to that and marinade the pork in it...I know fresh is better but I'm working with what I've got.)
Wednesday - Quinoa Stirfry (with Chicken, and of course we use Tamari instead of Bragg's or standard soy sauce)
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - California Salad (with Chicken), Whole Grain French Bread
Saturday - Barley and Cranberry Pork Stew (actually doing it in the crock pot, so Jeff has a nice hot meal to come home to after a long week of hard work, and I can enjoy my Saturday not worrying about dinner)
Sunday - Leftovers

And that is the week!

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.  Find more great menu plans there!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Natural Pain Remedy - Baltic Amber - GIVEAWAY :)

When I first came across a blog stating that amber necklaces were good for soothing pain (such as teething, headaches, etc), I have to admit I was pretty skeptical. I was thinking, "Is this just one of those weird New Age-y things? How could that even work?"

As it turns out, Baltic Amber is high in a substance called succinic acid (better known as aspirin), and body heat triggers the release of succinic acid into the skin, thus relieving pain.

With my poor little guy teething already, I have been curious to try it, and saw this giveaway on my facebook news feed:

So go ahead and enter for a chance to win a "teething necklace" (or whatever-ails-you-necklace) from Inspired by Finn!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nutrimill Giveaway @ Kitchen Stewardship

As many of you know, we do most of our baking from freshly milled wheat. At present, we use a Messerschmidt Grain Mill attachment that is compatible with my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It works pretty well, but its finest setting is not nearly as fine as I would like. Not only that, but it does not have the best capacity for our growing flour needs. It was a great starter mill, and I am glad that we have had it, but at some point in the future we will need one of these:

...which is being GIVEN AWAY this week at Kitchen Stewardship. So of course I am using every possible entry for the giveaway, and would like to win. But even if I don't (which is MORE likely, because I never win these things), one of these lovely machines is definitely in our future (just not as quickly as it might have been, haha).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Feb 14-20 (and what the week holds)

Keeping it short and sweet this week, as it is late and the pillow is calling me.  Valentine's Day is coming late for us, we are celebrating on Saturday as all three of us were sick over the weekend, and did not feel much like celebrating anything.

We are going to see some of Jeff's family on Wednesday, and checking out the property our family just bought in a small town a few hours south of here. The property has a decent-sized home, and five acres so we can finally get started on our homesteading dream. The part that is really difficult is leaving our town and community. We love it here, and we know it will be nothing short of a miracle if we can find a local church body where we feel as at home as we do at our current church. More on the homestead later, but suffice it to say it will most likely be at least 2 months before we move.

Last week I totally skimped on the menu plan, and we certainly paid the price for it in prep time and sanity. This week I am getting to it late, but at least getting to it. We do still have a holdover meal from the last blogged plan (fried chicken), and a family birthday party on Sunday means that we will certainly be doing leftovers Sunday night. Wednesday it is dinner with my brother-in-law & sister-in-law, and my adorable niece and nephew.

That's the week, and here's the plan:

Monday - Jeff's amazing Burgers
Tuesday - Fried Chicken and all the trimmings
Wednesday - Dinner with Jon & Rachel
Thursday -Chicken & Mushroom Cannelloni (prepared meal we'll pick up on the road, not ideal, but we used up all our freezer meals after Joshua was born)
Friday - Crockpot chicken pot pie
Saturday - grass finished steaks (we'll pick them up at WF on the way home from down south), Baked Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli
Sunday - Family Bday Party = light dinner (leftovers)

Find more great menu plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Cute Kid

So, Joshua will be three months old this Thursday! I cannot even believe it. And, with the fact that I have barely had time to post menu plans, I only just realized the other day that I have not even posted any pictures here. So, just a few pictures from the last three months...

This picture is while we were still in the hospital. Though we started out laboring at home, we ended up having to transport to the hospital and having a C-Section, so we were in the hospital for a total of three days. He never stayed swaddled like this for very long, Joshua has very strong arms that thwarted even expert swaddlers, haha. He was born weighing 9 lbs and 3 oz, at 22 inches long.

The adoring Dad :)

Our first day back at home. He seemed so big to me then, and now, he looks so tiny in this picture.

He was smiling from day 1, which was completely unbelievable. These two pictures are actually from between 3-4 weeks old. My little man definitely smiles with his whole face.

This picture was taken at 11 weeks old. Love love LOVE his blue eyes!

So that's my baby boy...Our lives have changed so much with this little addition. There are times when he just looks up at me and smiles and it is so amazing it brings tears to my eyes. I know we still have a lot to learn, but we are so excited about the journey ahead of us :)

Menu Plan for Jan 31-Feb 6

Last week was a little crazy, but good. A few meals left us with more leftovers than we expected, so we did leftovers in place of a few other meals (which was good, because there were a few days when I totally forgot my prep work until it was too late!). It just goes to show that there is a reason I do menu planning (because organization is NOT my strong suit)!

I already had a meal plan worked out for this week, and we are already making changes. Still, it was very good to at least have a blueprint for this week, it made figuring out what needed to change a simpler process.

Monday - Whole Wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce, garlic bread (whole wheat)

Tuesday - Dinner out

Wednesday - Taco Night

Thursday - Pork Chops, Sweet Potato Fries, Veggies sauteed in butter (mmmmmm)

Friday - Fried Chicken, Fried Okra, Soaked Rice Going all out southern here...but we only fry in healthy oils (read: NOT vegetable oils or other polyunsaturated oils. We prefer lard but if we cannot get a good saturated frying oil, we will go for monounsaturated oils), and we use whole wheat flour to dredge the chicken and the okra

Saturday - We will be driving all day so it means dinner on the road. (This is actually very exciting...we will get to see the property where we can raise some fantastic pastured meats...So next year both our grocery budget and our diet will see even more improvement!)

Sunday - Baked Fish Nicosia (I was not thinking of the Superbowl when I originally planned this, so it may be subject to change. It is only a 30 minute meal, either way, so it may not).

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday - visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great menus!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of Jan 24

We had a great week last week; trying out some new recipes, including the opportunity to add more Chinese food to our repertoire (my allergy to MSG means we cannot eat Chinese out, so we have to make any Chinese food we eat here with very carefully selected ingredients).

The homemade egg roll wrappers turned out really well, although next time I may use my crepe-making skillet, just to keep things easier. The egg rolls tasted great and the wrappers were strong enough to hold the contents well. The halibut with remoulade sauce was really good, too! I am excited about starting to build a good index of fish recipes that I like.

We skipped good ol' spaghetti night to have dinner with some friends. We had a blast, and ate some delicious food!

This week's menu looks pretty fun, and I am quite excited about it!

Monday - Steak kabobs and soaked brown rice. Of course we are using Tamari instead of "regular" soy sauce; and - while it's not perfect - we are using the new Sierra Mist Natural for our "lemon-lime carbonated beverage" in the marinade.

Sunday night - marinate beef. Monday AM - Soak Rice

Tuesday - Roast Chicken (With Onions, Carrots, Celery, and Potatoes).  This will be one of our first Chickens in a while that is from our back yard. We went through those other birds pretty quickly, and now we have a few more this time around (We will be ordering the new batch of chicks, shortly).

Wednesday - Roast Pork, Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Veggies.  This is some of that great pastured pork we got at Whole Foods. I love Sweet Potatoes better with pork than with any other meat, I think.

Thursday - White Chili - This will be with leftover chicken from Tuesday's Roast.

Thursday AM - start soaking black beans for Friday's dinner

Friday - Tilapia with Quinoa and Black beans

Friday AM - Soak Quinoa / Late Morning - begin to prepare beans.

Saturday - Breakfast for Dinner (Eggs, Bacon, and Stone-ground grits)

Saturday Afternoon - Soak dough for french bread.

Sunday - Bean Soup, Soaked French Bread (Whole Wheat), Salad

This is part of Menu Plan Monday - Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great menus :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Day Late (But No Fewer Dollars to Show For It)

We did do our menu plan yesterday, but I did not get around to blogging it.  Oops!  As for last week, the fish tacos were definitely a hit! I am neither a fish fan nor a cabbage fan, most of the time. I have to be in just the right mood and it has to be just the right recipe. Jeff and I both thoroughly enjoyed them, so I'd say this recipe was a hit. We had a great deal of cabbage left over, so this week we are going to have homemade egg rolls and pork fried rice on the menu.

The french onion soup was even easier than I expected it to be, and it turned out quite well. I was going to just shred some mozzarella onto the bread instead of Gruyere, (because Gruyere is stinking expensive!!!), but we took a field trip down to the Atlanta area to visit Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and I found TJs Gruyere for much cheaper. It was delicious, too! We also found some raw milk cheddar, which is great because I cannot find inexpensive raw milk cheeses around here. We can get some cheese from the same dairy we go to for milk, but we cannot always afford it (but we do prefer to give him the business when we can). The trip was very profitable in other ways, too. We found some good beef shank from a local farmer. Not only are his cattle grass fed and finished, but he does the butchering on his own, and is certified as a "humane kill" facility (which apparently means that the flavor of the meat is preserved because hormones that are released when an animal is frightened are not released in this process). We were also able to find some good pastured pork, as well.

Last week, we did not end up eating burgers with the french onion soup (we ate the stew beef left over from our stock-making process, instead), and we did not do the pulled pork (because of our long day trip to WF and TJs). So those make a reappearance this week.

Monday - Jeff's burgers with buns (Whole wheat, of course), & broccoli
Tuesday - Pulled Pork with Sweet Potatoes and Steamed Spinach
Wednesday - Halibut with Remoulade Sauce
Thursday - Egg Rolls with Pork Fried Rice & Veggies (homemade whole wheat egg roll wrappers)
Friday - Spaghetti, Whole Wheat (soaked) Garlic Bread, Steamed Veggies
Saturday - Beef Stroganoff and Steamed Broccoli
Sunday - Leftovers

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Menu Plan for Jan 10-16 (And review of new recipes from last week).

As usual, some of last week's meals got switched around from day to day, but overall we stuck to the plan and I think our week was simpler for it. I tried a few new recipes last week, so I wanted to review those here.

Quinoa Veggie Stirfry - We are not vegetarians, so we added some chicken to this for extra protein (even though quinoa is a complete protein by itself.). We also improvised on the veggies some (to use what we had on hand), and used Tamari (naturally fermented soy sauce) instead of the Bragg's Liquid Aminos; since the Tamari is fermented soy and truly is MSG-Free, and the Bragg's is just no-MSG-added. If you are going to eat soy, it should definitely be naturally fermented, because otherwise it really does not digest well, and the good things in it are not as easily absorbed (bio-availability). However, we kept the spices exactly the same. The flavor was great, the meal was very filling, and it was not that difficult. Soaking the Quinoa in water for a fifteen minutes ahead of time both helps it cook up more quickly and makes it easier to rinse. You must rinse the quinoa, because its outer shell is covered with a waxy substance (saponin) that leads to a very bitter taste (and is not good for you).  (Because quinoa is technically a nut and not a grain, it does not contain as much phytic acids as grains, but if you are soaking for those reasons it only needs to be soaked for 2-4 hours).  Since we were only feeding two with this recipe, we had enough left over for lunches for a few days.  Jeff definitely asked that we keep this recipe in the rotation, so I consider it a smashing success (He also decided we should sprout some of what I have on hand, and plant it in a month or so).

Easy Quinoa Veggie Burgers - Again, because we are not vegan, instead of using an egg substitute I used an egg. Also, once again, I used Tamari instead of Bragg's. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. The patties tasted great, and they went well with the pumpkin soup we had them with. The recipe says you can fix them up like a regular burger, and I can see how that might work; however (especially with the chickpeas) they really tasted more like falafel, and since we were eating them without the buns, we just dipped them in the pumpkin soup. Again, Jeff said I could make this again. Two successful new recipes in one week!  (If you do not have a food processor, though, you may want to hold off on this one - unless you have an amazing blender - I felt like I nearly killed my blender trying to process the mixture.)

On to this week. A little less budget-limited and a little more determined to -- not only keep our grains whole, as we usually do -- use only soaked grains as often as possible, I think our plan for this week is pretty awesome. We only have one meal where the grains are not soaked, and that is on Monday, because I do not make my own tortillas yet and I am trying to limit my new experiments until we have more of a routine down. To help me out with my planning, I am going back to blogging the preparatory steps I need to remember (they day or days before the meal).

Monday - Fish Tacos. No previous day prep required on this one. Instead of beer batter-ing the cod, we are going with sauteed, instead. And I'm going to use most of the spices in the skillet with the cod, and keep the dip a little more bland. We got red cabbage as well, because when I had them I remember both being used, and I thought it would keep things a little more colorful and appealing.

Prep for Tuesday: Monday AM soak biscuit dough for Tuesday AM. Move Chicken stock to Fridge to thaw. Move Chicken to fridge to thaw.

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie

Prep for Wednesday: Tuesday AM move venison sausage to fridge to thaw.

Wednesday - Cozy Quinoa Casserole.  We use venison sausage instead of the ground turkey (ground turkey often has "natural flavors," which are anything but natural and can mean MSG). Also we use sweet potato instead of the Acorn Squash. Acorn Squash is impossible to cut when raw, and Sweet potato tastes almost identical as far as I am concerned (yup, I am choosing sweet potatoes out of sheer laziness. And because we still have plenty stored from our garden).

Prep for Thursday - Wednesday PM Soak Pizza Crust

Thursday - Pizza (With soaked whole wheat crust) - Spinach and Mushroom :)

Prep for Friday - Thurs PM start pork backbone in the crockpot

Friday - Pulled Pork, Sweet Potatoes, & Steamed Spinach

Prep for Saturday - Friday AM start making beef stock, and soak dough for french bread.

Saturday - Jeff's "Famous" Burgers & French Onion Soup

Sunday - Leftovers

Breakfasts throughout the week will be eggs fried in raw butter (grass-finished), and soaked oatmeal or breakfast quinoa. Snacks will be celery & peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, and/or carrot sticks with the amazing truly-MSG-Free ranch dressing I found.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday. Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great menus.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

To Exercise, or Not to Exercise, That is a good question...

Kelly the Kitchen Kop is hosting a Weight Loss & Wellness Challenge over at her blog. Since I'm nursing (and therefore advised on all fronts not to focus on weight loss), we are focusing more on the wellness end, but exercise definitely still fits into that picture. And even though I am not focusing on weight loss via diet, I do know that getting up and moving around will help the process of fitting in my pre-prego clothes along. Another great reason I have to focus on making sure I get more exercise in, is that it really helps me in dealing with ADD...more focus is never a bad thing!

At her Exercise & Weight Loss Questions post, Kelly is also giving away a gallon of Olive Oil from Chaffin Family Orchards! Also, there is a list of questions you can choose to comment with, so I thought I would answer them here at my blog, too. :)

  • Does exercise help you lose weight, or is it more about what you’re eating?
    • I have always found that I needed to focus both on what I am eating and exercise together to achieve any weight loss results. It can be tricky, though, when weight loss is your goal; because increased activity means you are burning more calories, and your body automatically tells you to eat more. I found the easiest way to bypass that is to have plenty of high protein snacks around. Hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks (or just cheese), homemade (for lack of preservatives & MSG) jerky.
  • What is your favorite way to exercise?
    • While I had an office gymnasium at my disposal for free, I became addicted to the elliptical machine. I also grew quite fond of the treadmill while I was using a treadmill desk at work. Now I am staying at home and taking care of my adorable, wonderful, amazing son, though; so I am opting for taking walks in the sunshine with my handsome little man, and doing stretching and toning exercises a few times a week.
  • What is your favorite excuse NOT to exercise and how do you push past it?
    • It was waking up early to squeeze in a workout before my work day, and for that I had friends meet me at the gym for extra get-out-of-bed incentive. Now, though, it tends to be finding the time. My best way to push past it, though, is remembering how I feel when I do not take the time.
  • What is your best way to motivate yourself to DO IT?
    • Again - knowing how I feel when I am not exercising. I had to spent several weeks post C-Section trying not to do very much, and if there is anything I have discovered it is that laying low breeds lethargy and sluggishness. I also remember how amazing I felt post-workout, before even drinking my coffee.
  • What do you listen to while your exercise?  (If anything.)
    • If I am doing a faster-paced work out (like being on the elliptical) I tend to listen to Skillet, faster Switchfoot songs, and even some of the faster-tempo Nichole Nordeman (I have pretty eclectic taste). Anything with a good rhythm that will help me to keep moving.
  • What are your 2011 exercise goals?  (As I said in a previous post, it’s good to get these into writing!)
    • I want to take daily walks with Joshua (getting a little more sun with my son, too...great for that Vitamin D synthesis), and spend time doing stretching and toning exercises 2-3 times a week.
Whatever the reason, I hope you will take time to get a little more active this year. Exercise is not only good for losing weight. Studies show that people who sit down for most of their day have more health problems and a shorter lifespan. We were not meant to be so still, so inactive. So get moving!  And get on over to Kelly the Kitchen Kop to win some high quality olive oil from a fantastic family farm.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Giveaway at Kelly the Kitchen Kop - Fermented Veggie Sampler from Cultures for Health

Lacto-fermentation. I have to admit, the word sounds pretty disgusting at first listen. You think to yourself, “Are they fermenting these things with milk?” Even realizing that everyday foods for us like yogurt and sour cream are fermented milk, it does not sound even close to appealing.  But, truth be told, lacto-fermentation has nothing to do with milk (brace yourself, this sounds even less appealing), but with lactobacilli – a probiotic bacteria that can help to preserve foods.

Fermented foods are even more nutritious than their raw counterparts. This is because the fermentation process produces digestion-aiding enzymes, and can vastly multiply the vitamin content of food, all while creating a rich flavor.

We have been hoping to include more fermented foods in our diet for some time, now. I acquired a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz – a book that holds a wealth of information on fermented foods – and scoured the real food blogosphere for tips, tricks, and any recipes I did not already have. I started my experimenting this summer, when I made a batch of lacto-fermented peach salsa. It was absolutely incredible! Not only did it taste great, but it kept very well, and of course was loaded with enzymes and nutrients. Shortly thereafter, though, third trimester exhaustion caught up with me and I was not in the mood for much more experimentation, and of course it is now winter (and I really prefer to work with local, organic produce for these experiments. This spring, however, I plan to let the fermenting fun begin! I even managed to add some additional wide-mouth jars to my collection, so I can do more than a couple different veggies at once.

Between now and then, however, it would be great to get a taste for specific vegetables in their already-fermented state, so I am very excited about Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s latest giveaway: A fermented veggie sampler from Cultures for Health! I have been very pleased with purchases I have made with them; including yogurt cultures, kefir and water kefir grains, and a kombucha SCOBY, as well. Everything has been great quality, and I have gotten some great results with their cultures, so I have no doubt that these veggies will be incredible.

Head on over to Kelly the Kitchen Kop to enter, and sign up for her newsletter, because the winners will only be announced there!

Menu Plan Monday - Getting Out of the Holiday Sweets Frenzy

I am stunned to find that we are already entering the new year, wondering where the time has flown. Babies, it seems, are a time machine of sorts. If anything speeds up time, it is taking care of a baby. One moment we have just woken up, and the next it is time for bed.

While I love Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years -- and all the great food these holidays bring -- I am eager to get us back on track, food-wise. Especially when we consider how lax we had become with food toward the end of my pregnancy and in the beginning weeks with Joshua. We were making healthier choices, but "easier" healthy choices that were not nearly as great as the choices we were striving to make before. So....New year, new opportunity to get things moving in the right direction again.

We are following along with Kelly the Kitchen Kop's three week health/wellness jumpstart, and our focus is mostly going to be reducing (even healthier homemade) sweets, and emphasizing proteins over carbs (Also, I am going to be taking more walks with the baby, trying to get a bit more active). While we are not going to be able to do completely low-carb all that feasibly, we can at least reduce grains and gluten via my favorite non-grain, quinoa; but primarily we're just making sure that all of our grains are whole grains. Quinoa is not actually a grain, but frequently used as one, quinoa is gluten free, a complete protein in and of itself (something no grain can boast), and very high in other important nutrients like iron. So we have two quinoa based meals in the menu this week, and some higher nutrient grains like barley, and other high nutrient foods. We also still have a bit of Christmas money left, so we worked in an eat-out night, mostly because our friend Gaby still has not gotten to meet Joshua. Gaby's is great, particularly because she seasons her food with actual herbs and spices, not any of the cheaper "spice" mixes that contain MSG, so I can eat there headache free.

Monday - Baked Chicken with Apples and Barley
Tuesday - eat at Gaby's (Caribbean & American Cuisine)
Wednesday - Quinoa and Veggie Stirfry
Thursday - Salsa Chicken & Blackbean soup.
Friday - Hummus & homemade Whole Wheat Naan, Veggies
Saturday - Quinoa Burgers (sans buns) and Pumpkin Soup (from homemade pumpkin)
Sunday - Leftovers

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday. Go to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great menus.