Friday, September 10, 2010

Are you saved? - an Orthodox Christian answer.

This video is beautiful. I didn't want to just post it to my facebook profile and claim that "this is me" because it's not really....it is who I want to be. It is, however, what I believe and when she says that we do these things such as pray unceasingly...I don't, but I wish I did.

The woman who wrote these words (Molly Sabbourin) simply describes what most of us Orthodox Christians would like to say when someone asks us that not-so-simple little question.

-Anna, on the Feast of our Blessed Joachim and Anna

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Common Sense" Food

No offence to you real food ladies, but c'mon!!!

I'm cooking "common sense" food around here. ATM I'm eating Doritos and drinking my #1 favorite beer, Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery (I love you guys)...I love my chemicals, what can I say?

Common Sense food to me is just that. Cook what you have, gradually move forward with what you can. I can NOT go overnight and just quit buying cereal and bread and cheese and yogurt and chips and and and and and...... However, I can take baby steps. I'm good at baby steps.

Start with one thing, for me, well, I don't remember what it was. My mom raised me to cook. God bless that woman, I whined and complained and hid (a lot) so that I would not have to do "womanly duties" as a kid, but she set such a good example for meals. Salad, bread, veggies and main course. Every day! I didn't like doing that or any chores, now look at me..I'm a wife, mom to 6 and then I go and plant a garden and get animals...what was I thinking??

Anyway, back to the beginning of my baby steps. First step: have kids=must cook. You can make mac & cheese, a lot, but really you have to move on.....to spaghetti! and then.....Mother-in-law's lasagna! and then......good goulash! (notice a pattern?)

Then one day I decided to be "cool" (what can I say, I had "real food" kind of friends) and place an order with "the grain lady" and silly me when I ordered a 45lb pail of wheat flour it turned out that it was indeed wheat berries. Yes. Those. Like the kind that you have to put through a GRINDER that I didn't have. Fortunately I live next door to the burliest Alaskan pioneer woman you have ever known...I mean that....EVER. And of course she owns a really old fashioned grain mill. I borrowed it (after a year of letting my berries sit because I was mad at them) and ground 1/2 the bucket. Then I used my wheat in some bread and then I made it every week and my family loved me.

Around the same time I dabbled in a garden... See, I don't like gardening. At least that's what I told myself when I was young. When we got 3 house plants as wedding gifts I was quite perturbed. Really? Who buys plants?? Anyway. After we were married and moved over the garage of the OTHER burliest Alaskan woman you have ever meet (my mentor) they insisted that I take a part of their garden as my own. I tried to get out of it, really. But they were offering to till in real rabbit manure! I mean, how can you pass that up? (I really tried to think of some good reasons) but alas, I could not think of any, besides that I was pretty lazy and just didn't want to deal with stupid plants. I had to think of some things that I wanted to grow.....hmmm.......nothing really. So she gave me some seedlings that she'd started and some beet seeds (beets? who eats beets?) Needless to say, after only one summer of tending my little patch, I was hooked. I can't say that gardening is my specialty, or that I love it, but I certainly enjoy starting one each year and I enjoy knowing at the end of the season when they are in their beautiful jars....I made that (with a little help from Him, of course).

Canning is something that naturally followed the gardening. I had these beets that I didn't know what to do with and my mentor taught me to make pickled beets (I'd had and loved hers) and if you have canned anything, you know that feeling of looking at your beautiful jars full of goodness and that incredible satisfied feeling you get....that's an addicting feeling.

We were having more kids, so getting egg laying chickens only seemed natural. We have 2 acers of land and no limits on what we can do with it...so we bought chickens and started collecting our own eggs.

Meat? Well, again. My mentor only raised meat chickens, so we followed her lead and got some Cornish cross chicks a few years ago and they helped us raise them and then butcher them. The joy of eating a bird you raised is outstanding!

Milk? Why stop with meat and eggs? The kids are getting older and my oldest has been begging for years for goats. I had enough fencing and upon more research I found that goats need actually less shelter (kind of) than chickens. They only need a roof and protection from wind...not so bad. So, feeling an urgency this year to be even more self-sufficient we bought already milking goats (they need company so we got 2) and began our journey with them. I never really thought about all the things made from milk, but we're both learning to make many dairy products. I feel that at the moment we have almost too much milk, but at the same time, it forces us to make cheese regularly and then that forces us to force our kids to eat the cheese and not buy the store bought kind, which forces them to like what we have made. So, it's a win win. And again, the joy of drinking the milk and eating the cheese you made, simply can't be beat.

For some reason I realized only after we had goats that I could make my own mayonnaise...I could have at any point in my life, but I realized it this summer. It's fun and good.

I still buy chips for treats. I still buy cereal mostly because I'm not a morning person and it's easy. I figure I'll get there (or not) some day, but for me if it's not baby steps...I just won't do it regularly. And I'd like to. In becoming more self sufficient we're by default eating better. We're spending the grocery money on hay and feed and chips and pickling spices. I'm good with that.

Where ever you are on your "food journey" there you are. You don't have to run out and buy chickens or goats... Old habits die hard, so just make one new one. Try making something from outside of your box and you will be surprised with the results. Weather it's making some yogurt from the store bought milk, or making mayo, or canning some beets, or making a ton of zucchini bread 'cause your neighbor gave you too much... Enjoy that day in the kitchen and be proud of what you made. But be careful, it's addictive.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My witts end.

I have come to this place many many times in my life. At least once per month I'm sure. Today I was there, again...

The garden is over run with weeds, slugs and vegetables that need to be put up. This is the first year that I have planted a "real" garden and REALLY tried to grow what I can freeze or process for the winter. I have had gardens for the last 12 years or so, but to varying degrees of sizes and success. Normally I'm overrun with zucchini, this year we got one. (thanks rain) But I also realized how much my girls love broccoli so there is a LOT of that growing, and after you pick it and blanch it and freeze it, a few days later there is more to pick and blanch and freeze. Not to mention the beets and beet greens...those babies GREW! I'm glad really, we all love pickled beets and borscht too, and you need lots for that. This is the first year I'm blanching and freezing the greens. The last 2 or 3 years we have not gotten beets for one reason or another.

So I'm feeling overwhelmed with my plethora of veggies that I have to "do" something with, not to mention the goats milk that just does not quit...we have to make cheese about every 3 days to keep up with it all. That is quite the process too. I have started making back to back batches of cheese if the kitchen is already messed.

I have to keep in mind what I've already done in the last week or two...Picked and froze 2-3 gallons of raspberries. Picked and froze blueberries, made raspberry and blueberry jams. Made 2 kinds of relishes and some zucchini pickles (my neighbor's greehouse has blessed this neck of the woods with zucchini). Blanched about 15 qt size bags of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans (neighbor) and beet greens. Made a huge batch of borsht and froze some. Made about 6 batches of cheese. Gotten sick wich took me out for a couple of days. Sold some mailboxes, rented mailboxes, screwed up mailboxes, changed locks on mailboxes, refunded mailboxes and billed out renters for mailboxes. Taken my kids to hither and yon. Homeschooled them (a little). Made ice cream. Met with a guy who will hopefully paint my house with the "new" yellow color I decided on. Gave back the treasurer work for my oldest's shot gun club.

It's been a busy 2 weeks and will be a busy next 2 while we try to finish putting up the garden. Perhaps I will be able to make a dinner in there somewhere too, I have failed miserably at that lately.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I'm not going to lie...when it was raining for 32 days straight we booked our honeymoon (14 year anniversary) trip to Hawaii and so by September 17th I want to be DONE so we can have a nice quiet time away in some warmth before winter hits. I love September and don't like to be gone, but hey, I'm not complaining.