Sunday, September 30, 2012

October Unprocessed??

October Unprocessed? Really? A month of food that hasn't been processed... intriguing, scary, challenging, fun? Not sure how best to describe the thought of giving it a go.

I think this could be possible given their definition of processed. Plus I'm on fall break the whole first week of October, which means I might actually have time to cook & freeze all the things I would need to have pre-made in order to actually get through the month.
I'm tweaking their rules and allowing 1 day or meal a week to be processed because I know how crazy and hectic October can be with all the fall festivals, pumpkin patches, etc. that are around the corner. Add to that, hosting a baby shower, halloween festivities, and a full time job (with report cards & conferences just around the corner) - I think if I can do this with 1 exception a week, it'll be a huge win for me.

I think I'm going to treat myself to Burger Up the first week of November if I meet my goal. Maybe having an extra incentive will help me keep my determination to succeed.

As you already know, if you've read any of my posts, the hardest parts for me are going to be breakfast and desserts. I'm working on some ideas to help make those battle much easier to fight and hopefully win.
As I make progress with these 2 areas I'll be sure to share what I'm discovering and what's working or not working well for us.

I'm including the links to the post in case others are interested in giving this a go. The site has lots of support and encouragement to anyone who might be on the fence about diving in to scratch or near-scratch eating. Set up your own rules and do what works for you and know it's all a process and you have to begin somewhere. I'm diving in and I hope you will too!

Greater love hath no husband than the 1 that buys Chocolate! (Chocoholic update)

Just have to add that my sweet husband read what I wrote the other day about craving chocolate /sweets in general and bought me a tiny tub of B&J chocolate ice cream with brownies in it! I have a fix for next time a craving strikes! Chocoholics rejoice!
After he read it, we had a great talk about my craving for sugar in general and afterwards I felt much better. He very gently reminded me how much junk (HFCS et al.) I have consumed on a regular basis in my life until recently, and he seemed to think the craving was natural and perfectly normal for me. He also thought it would take awhile for my mind/body to re-translate what "sweet" is now compared to what it used to be for me.
This made so much sense to me and explains why I sometimes felt like a crazy person. I would want something sweet and, trying to be good, eat an apple. It was like my stomach was saying, "Thanks for the apples, now give us something sweet." So I would repeat with raisins or cherries or grapes until finally I would give in and eat something chocolate or super sweet or a really rich dessert.
I've been working on the sweets in general and doing better, but had not anticipated the challenge it would bring. I've more than tripled the amount of fresh fruit I eat so there's definite progress. It's just going to take time to re-train my brain to know what "sweet" is now. And until then, I have some yummy ice cream in the freezer!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pecan Brittle

I talked to my great-aunt Helen tonight and she shared with me her recipe for pecan brittle. (Her chiropractor makes it with almonds.) It was the best time and we had the nicest chat. It was bittersweet in a way b/c talking to her brought memories of my beloved Papaw flooding back to me. I was struck by how much she sounded like him on the phone, strange b/c she's lived in Ohio for many years and he lived in Arkansas. I did have a tear or two, but they were happy ones.
Anyway, it was so good for my soul to talk to her and listen to her way of cooking. I loved hearing the little details of the steps in ways you'll never find in any cookbook. It made me long in a very real way for my grandmothers and their recipes but, more than that, for that connection that comes when you start talking about food and recipes.
I love this sweet lady and it was such a delight to share our similar viewpoints on local vs. organic or margarine vs. butter. I was slightly anxious to message her (on FB no less!), but I thought, why not? I'm infinitely glad I called her and that we talked food for just a little while. I hope wherever you are, you have someone you can call to inherit a recipe like I did. There's something electrifying about someone saying, "Alright, you got a pencil and paper? This is how I make..." It may feel awkward or strange, but something I have repeatedly learned through all of this is that people feel flattered when you ask how they cook something and love to tell you. People love to share their recipes and their methods for cooking. It definitely connects us all and it's amazing where a conversation that begins with food can roam.
So I wish for you tonight to have a roaming talk that begins with food. My heart is much fuller tonight and my grocery list is a little longer for having talked to my great-aunt and I hope she's feeling more loved knowing her little niece called her up one Friday night to find out how to make brittle (and pot roast... and fry eggplant... and ...) I feel so spoiled now with new ideas to try.

ps. Here's the sweet story of where she originally got her recipe.

My great uncle taught at a local college and one year the secretary in his department made all the teachers this brittle for Christmas. It was wrapped in plastic wrap with a bow on top. My great-aunt said that her husband loved it so much, she called the lady up and asked for the recipe so she could make it for him. She's been making it every year since and makes so much at Christmas that she begins a month early. 
Isn't it comforting when the themes of good food and love intertwine themselves and the recipe becomes a living thing?  What began as a simple Christmas gift, establishes roots as a wife shows love to a husband. It branches as a mother makes her annual brittle for Christmas. It blossoms as family members connect over much time and distance. Someday they will intertwine again and hopefully sprout new seeds as I tell this story and share this recipe with my own sweet girl. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Confessions of a Chocoholic

Yesterday we had an in-service that was interesting but not sooo interesting. The coaches, in an attempt to keep us awake, put little bowls of chocolate candy at our tables. That's right a bowl of bite-sized candy bars in every variety you can think of... at my table where I was required to sit for 3 hour and listen to trainer.I ate 5 mini Kit-Kats and 2 Snickers. (at least...)

I know better. I know all about HFCS. I know all about the evil Hershey company giving money to block prop. 37. I know... I know... I know...

But the chocolate...

I confess - I ate it and it was yummy. I felt guilty (especially since it was not quite 8:00!), but I did it.
I am doing better in general at giving up a lot of things in general, in fact I have resisted these little bowls on numerous occasions already. But today, I gobbled.

My plan now is to hurry up and make some chocolate chip cookies using the Olive & Sinclair chocolate, some peanut butter cookies with the fresh peanut butter from Produce Place. (By the way, when I got my PB yesterday, it was still warm from literally just converting from peanut to peanut butter. How can you go wrong with that, right?) I bought cream to make some delicious cream scones to go with my fruit sorbets from the summer months.

My plan is to go with the Food Rule that says you can eat all the junk you want as long as you make it yourself. Pollan says when you make it from scratch you won't eat as much. There's also something about using better ingredients means you need/eat less overall. I am putting that theory to the test soon.

Round 1 went to me. Round 2 goes to the chocolate. Round 3, and let's be real here, there will always be another bowl of treats and another temptation of junk, will be mine for the taking.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


That's my best imitation of a frustrated sound. I am frustrated with myself.

I'm having a challenge right now with breakfast. I leave for work between 6 and 6:30. The last 2 days I have slept in a bit b/c the 3 day weekend wore me out. Not because I did so much, but because for the first time since school started back I actually sat still and rested for a moment. Turns out I was really, really tired. Anyway, it's been hard to get my game face back on and get back in the groove of moving and well... grooving if you know what I mean.

So, that means I had a hot chocolate and lemon pound cake for breakfast. They were yummy but they weren't particularly nutritious or energizing. They were neither economical or cost-efficient. I also ate them in my car which isn't something I want to make a habit of doing (again I reference Food Rules by Michael Pollan. Love that book!!)

And so, you see the reason for the erg...  I didn't want to do it, but I forgot to make a breakfast last night and then I didn't get up the extra ten minutes early to do it this morning. Sadly it's the 2nd time in 2 weeks that my little car has steered that way, and I'm worried it's going to be a trend. I really don't want it to be, but it's a little too easy and I'm a little too weak in the hours before the traffic lights have switched over from their blinking of the night to the 3 color system we all know and love.

Worst of all is that breakfast should be the easiest! How hard is it to microwave pancakes or muffins? How long can it really take to scramble an egg or fry up some bacon? Honestly - no excuse for not at least setting up a bowl of oatmeal to boil while fixing supper... I have no excuse, no valid reason, no sweet sentiment for resorting to the breakfast I ate today.

I'm not posting this to have a pity party or to show how good/bad I'm doing with local eating. I'm posting this here because this is a place for my thoughts and right now my thoughts are: erg... It's going to be time for supper in a few and I need to get something started. I also need a plan for breakfast in the morning so I don't repeat today's plan. It's also good sometimes to acknowledge our setbacks and/or limitations. There's a value in understanding and accepting we fall short of goals even though we keep chipping away at them. Plus, I don't want to only record successes; I want to be truthful and honest so that when I read this later I remember I did have some slacker days where I had to just get it on the way and go. I want to remember that every day wasn't easy and there were days that it just didn't happen for me for whatever reason.

Luckily for me, I have some Benton's bacon in the fridge and it's calling my name.  I know it won't right the wrong of the morning, but it sure is tasty and it'll get me back on track at least. Who says you can't have breakfast for supper?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Disappointment Defined

I left my house tonight headed for dinner at Burger Up, but when we got there they were closed for a special event. We tried to eat at a couple different local restaurants we know but they too were either closed or too busy. Do they have a category in the Scene polls for loudest restaurant or most impossible to carry on a conversation inside? I have a nominee, if so.

So instead of the yummiest burgers (and desserts!) in town, I had a "hunk of pizza" at Greer Stadium while watching the Sounds play tonight. If you're not sure why I say this is disappointment defined, read my other post about Burger Up. I assume you know what ball park pizza offers as far as taste and nutrition. It really was okay as far as pizza goes but it was nowhere comparable to the Burger Up dinner I had in mind.

Interestingly, they give away all kinds of coupons to fast food restaurants at these games. I had no idea that fast food had such a vested interest in the minor league baseball crowd. Who knew?

The ball game itself was fun though our team was pretty pitiful.  We left an inning early and we were down by 10 runs. There is no mercy rule in minor league ball apparently. All in all, a good time was had by all but I'm not going to make the stadium a regular dinner spot any time soon.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Update to Curiousity

Well the double box was a success as far as I can tell. The only thing we wouldn't have bought for ourselves were the beets b/c I'm not any good at cooking them yet. Hopefully they won't be food waste but I guess time will tell.
We got loads of great treasures and already have tons of green beans bagged and frozen! I didn't see much okra, but B may have already loaded it in the freezer. We got some good fruit options and I might be able to make apple sauce. Again, time will tell.
So the end of summer/beginning of fall has come and gone. I will have to be on top of a few cooking project so we don't lose our eggplant, zucchini, or squash but the rest will be put to great use right away. 
Glad B had a great trip but I am excited to go next week and shop, shop, shop!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Curious Cat

Today I don't get to go to the farm... E and I have a birthday party to attend, so B is going instead. I'm disappointed, but mostly very, very curious.
This week we ordered a family box instead of our usual pack-your-own box. Green Door is an awesome farm/CSA where you can go week-to-week without a commitment (though we've never missed a week) and they offer 3 options for boxes which fit pretty much everyone. We always get the middle option (pack-your-own) but it's the smaller "couple" size box. Today we ordered the larger family box and we are curious to see what we get. B's gone before and always gets great stuff, but with the new season beginning today I'm especially curious to see what we get.  I wish I could go today and see all the new items and snag up the last of a few specific things that I could freeze or (possibly) can for the winter, but I'm sure the party will be fun as well.
This month will sadly bring the end of a lot of the summer produce we've gotten really accustomed to eating. B has learned some mad cooking skills when it comes to green beans, peas, okra, and squash. I have learned a few new ways to make potatoes, but this isn't really as noteworthy since I could eat potatoes every day at multiple meals and not get tired of them. 
We have also worked very hard to put up, preserve, set back (whatever you want to call it) a lot of these great foods so we can get through the winter and still eat only local food. We ordered the family box in hopes we would get enough food for today and still have some leftovers to put up. This also means we don't pack it ourselves so we may have more interesting things in there that we wouldn't normally get - I'm curious to see what comes and in what amounts. We're not hoarders (yet?) and we're not SHTF people (yet?) but we know that to have local food all winter long, we would have to be somewhat prepared to supplement what grows here in the winter with some reserves from the summer. I'm hoping for no food waste - that we can eat or preserve what we get today before it passes its prime, but we'll just have to see. It's going to be interesting and I'll report back on what we get. I have no doubt we'll get much more than our money's worth in delicious, nutritious, safe local food. We are hoping to have a little pantry and freezer full of treasures to keep us on our local diet through the winter, but we've never done this before. We don't really have any idea how many of anything we need to get through the winter/spring so this is just a new part of our grand experiment.
I'm wishing I felt more prepared to say farewell to summer and all it's treasures. I have my fingers crossed that we have done enough putting back because, ready or not, fall is here. All of this finds me one very curious cat hoping for a great supper.