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We got Chickens!!!! March 11, 2009

Filed under: environment,health,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 5:11 pm

I forgot to tell you! We got chickens a few weeks ago. Well, chicks, to be more precise.

I never really saw the point of having chickens before it was an option so I tuned it out when other people went on about it, thinking them a bit eccentric. Now I’ve joined the ranks!

My mom, who has lived in the city, asked why on earth anyone would want chickens? Like I’d gone nuts on her. I had to laugh; how insulting and we normally get each other on issues of health and environment.

There are so many reasons to get chickens! Here’s my list:

  • we will have access to organic eggs (more on this later)
  • they are inexpensive
  • they will help with the garden (by producing compost)
  • they are inexpensive
  • they are entertaining
  • they don’t take up much room
  • they are a great beginner “farm animal”
  • the girls love them and it’s a great experience for them
  • I needed to overcome a life-long fear of birds
  • they will reduce pests
  • they will scratch up the whole front yard so there will be no need to fuss with mowing
  • we already have a fenced in front yard

So, are the eggs organic? I have been supporting local egg suppliers because their chickens free range, which is awesome. But it turns out, most people are feeding their chickens some kind of dried pellets from the local feed and seed plus any kind of table scraps, perhaps even including chickens and lots of cooked meat, and giving them free access to bugs and plants. The latter part is cool with me, but I just don’t agree with whatever is in that bag from the feed and seed nor feeding cooked meat to any animal and especially I am weirded out about chickens eating chickens. I am sure they probably are meant to as they are not the brightest animal, but it should be raw, and well, raw poultry is a no-no so it’s just off the list for us.

I will be ordering organic feed once mine are off the chick food.

So far, the girls have been very easy. There was all this fuss about keeping them at such a high temperature when they were tiny but to be honest, they were not actually kept that warm and they are just fine. I put them in the coop way too early but they were just too big for the plastic bin and it was time to get them out of the house. They seem to like their coop and are starting to understand to go back in there for food and water, which makes it easier to lock them back up. For now, we only let them out if we are around as they draw hawks and we even saw a barred owl lurking about right in the middle of the day! This was when they were still in the house! The owl must have been seeing them through the window!

 

So-called “Health” food March 9, 2009

Filed under: health,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 2:54 pm

Lots of people, single income families especially, do whatever they can to save extreme amounts of money on their grocery bill.
Little wonder; other than real estate, in a frugal family, this is generally the highest expense and it’s wise to chip away at it where possible.

One such friend proudly posted a photo just now on FaceBook showing her latest shopping trip all proudly laid out on the counter.

I. Am. Stunned.

Well, no, I’m not, really. I’ve seen her post before what she’s spent on grocery trips and how much she saved by using shrewd tricks to get double coupons and BOGOs.

I ignore coupons because, by and large, they are not for anything I’d want to actually use! Here is what she proudly took home, and my opinion of each item:

  • 2 plastic enclosed cases of small bottled water (buy a filter; stop filling environment with plastic!)
  • Multi Grain Cheerios – many boxes (wheat is not healthy but we’ve been brainwashed it is, especially if it says Multi Grain)
  • Honey Bran Cheerios (more processed wheat crap)
  • Ocean Spray juice (full of sugar; we should never drink juice unless it’s freshly juiced. Devoid of nutrients)
  • Pillsbury flour or pancake mix (more wheat)
  • Lots and lots of cheese (way too much – must be having it for lunch and dinner daily)
  • Hellman’s Mayonnaise (sure full of preservatives and other nasties as is everything above – pesticides, antibiotics,  hormones, super processed)
  • Tropicana Orange Juice (again, no juice unless you juice it fresh plus this has additives and extra sugar added even if it says it doesn’t)
  • Gallon of milk (hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, pasteurized and homogenized so dead and not digestible)
  • Chocolate pudding (sugar and chemicals – ick!)
  • 1 pint strawberries (yahoo for something fresh. But oops – this is in the top 10 for Must Have Organic so still very bad)
  • 3 packs frozen spinach (Horrah for a green vegetable! But one that has been blanched and frozen and this in a country with easy access to fresh vegetables in abundance this time of year)
  • 4 pack yogurt (no live probiotics in this non-organic brand)

Okay, I had to get that off my chest since I can’t comment on FaceBook for obvious reasons. There she is, so proud to have come home with $200 worth of groceries for $70. I am sure she would be fine with paying $600/month for health insurance if the plan her husband has isn’t good enough, but groceries are not worth spending any extra on. Or rather, she believes she is feeding her family a healthy, balanced diet. I so wish more people understood what is really healthy food.

 

How Long Does Raw Milk Keep? December 22, 2008

Filed under: health,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 3:25 pm
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I’ve got some raw milk I just opened. It is perhaps 2 weeks old. It seems the same as always and I can’t notice any odor. But I just had to stop eating my cereal because of a funny flavor. Is it just that it’s a different brand? Does raw milk smell sour in the same way pasteurized milk does? And the cereal could be the issue; I’m choking down Ezekial with some xylitol on it and they didn’t have the raisin one so I have almond. Not at all yummy. Much like cardboard. But at least it’s got sprouted grains. So I wonder if I’ve just done my body good or I’ll be barfing later!

 

Weird Snacks December 2, 2008

Filed under: health,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 11:56 am

When I was pregnant, I learned that it was impossible to sleep if I’m hungry. I wonder how many nights of insomnia prior to that would have been fixed by a quick snack. At some points of pregnancy, I had to get up at least twice to eat every night (not counting all the trips to the bathroom).

I now recognize before going to sleep that it’s best to have a quick and easily digestible snack to ensure better rest. I stumbled onto something the other day that is super fast and packed with protein and fat. A raw foodie friend had told me how delicious this certain coconut oil is. I can have it on a spoon right out of the jar when it’s solid. The other day, I tried it with a bit of peanut butter. Yum! And the added bonus is the oil helps the peanut butter from sticking to the teeth.

Who’d have thought those two flavors would be so good together?

 

Heritage Turkey – no triptophan? November 30, 2008

Filed under: organic food — Thinking Woman @ 4:12 am
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After reading an article on organic turkey, I opted to buy a locally raised heritage turkey. I learned that mainstream and even most organic poultry is “Barbie” birds; breeds raised to have large breasts and a lot of white meat to satisfy our demands.

The local farmer made a point of warning me that this bird would taste gamy to us. I was hesitant but decided to risk it anyway.

I prepared our Thanksgiving meal very simply – there is enough going on that I don’t need to fuss with complicated recipes! Plus I saw somewhere that brining turkey was more for covering up the nasty flavor of  meat that had been frozen for months and this bird was very fresh. I found a recipe that called for stuffing with garlic, orange and lemon and putting olive oil on the skin. Simple and elegant enough for me. I am not sure it did any thing at all, but it made me feel I’d made an effort.

Two things surprised me. First, the farmer was wrong! There was nothing odd about the flavor of this turkey. It just tasted like, well, like turkey!

And the next surprise was even better! My Thanksgiving wasn’t a total let-down when I found myself asleep on the couch right after eating. I had been up since around 4am; got some kind of nervous insomnia worrying about all the dishes I had to make so worked in the kitchen for about 2 hours before going back to bed for 2 more hours and finally getting up for good to get to work so we could eat at a reasonable hour. After the feast, I was pretty dead on my feet. Even while preparing the meal, I had to keep referring to my menu plan to stay on track and check things off or write down times. I never have to do anything like that in the kitchen.

After eating, we went for a walk but I was fine! Really. I never needed to nap. Amazing! No triptophan in that bird!

I am so glad I opted for a Heritage Turkey that free-ranged and was delivered to my door by the farmer. This feels a step in the right direction!

 

Yum! Using Thanksgiving leftovers November 29, 2008

Filed under: environment,organic food — Thinking Woman @ 7:37 pm
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I tried. I really did try not to make a ton of extra food for Thanksgiving. We were blessed with friends this year – my ideal way to celebrate this very special day. It is a fine art (and one I haven’t mastered) having enough food so everyone gets plenty of what they love and there isn’t any waste.

I didn’t do all that badly. Yesterday, we reheated the leftovers and pretty much polished them off. I don’t use most things after 24-48 hours, so the last little bits went into the compost bin. I also froze some things that I had made way too much of including some delicious cranberry sauce. Also, I am not sure what I was thinking because I have even more cranberries as yet uncooked.

What to do with all these cranberries?

I’ve been loving this cherry yogurt imported from Greece, but it does seem fairly outrageous to have on a regular basis. Just now, I tried some of the cranberry stuff I made (simmered with orange & lemon juice and zest plus some pecans) with the yogurt plus some Stevia. Yum! Really quite as good as the Greek yogurt and from local foods! Now I know what I’ll be doing with the extra cranberries! It feels great to use something in season. I imagine I’ll get a bit tired of having it daily. But then, the cranberries will be all gone and it’ll be a whole year before I can enjoy that again.

 

Dehydrator Blues November 26, 2008

Filed under: health,organic food,unplugging — Thinking Woman @ 10:11 pm
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My dehydrator and I haven’t made friends yet. I am still being nice. Well, polite, anyway. Poor thing got shunted to the back of the cabinet when we moved and has only been out for the first time last week. Although I tried to make something seemingly easy, and the dehydrator dutifully chugged away for days, nothing came of the effort. Now said machine is mostly in a sad wreck on my counter and sink. The trays are too huge to fit properly in the sink and so both my husband and I have been ignoring them for two days.

All my efforts are currently focusing around this vision of living fully off our own land. To that end, I am trying to learn to store food and make a choice on whether we’ll be going back to raw food or wind up going with Traditional eating. Or maybe it will wind up to be a combination of these philosophies. Who knows.

In consideration of the future possibility of raw food, I tried something I thought my girls would love: potato chips. I used red potatoes and also sweet potatoes or yams (I am never sure which I am getting, and yes, I realize they are not actually potatoes at all). These both seem like things I might try growing as they’ll work well in my climate.

It was a disaster. I used a low temperature as is recommended universally by raw foodies and wound up, as I have before, with chewy chips. I checked periodically but never got anything edible. I am feeling demoralized on this whole storing raw food thing. And this foolish $100 huge contraption. I’ve tried fruit rollups, dried fruit, and other veggies. It’s getting annoying. I particularly do not enjoy tossing out what had been perfectly good food, now ruined.

Dehydrating sounds so simple in recipes. I need a tutorial!

Is there really a way to do low temperature dehydrating?