Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some Updates on Granola, Yogurt, and Chickens

Well I was told to post pictures of the granola, hehe, I didn't think anyone would care.  I DID take pictures, I just didn't upload them.  My phone told me it was full at about picture number 3,002.  Having a baby sure will eat up your memory on a phone or camera.  I had to take a break and download all of the photos onto an external hard drive.  Someday......I'll sort them. HA!

Here are some action and final granola shots, with yogurt which I am about to get to as well.

dry ingredients

mixing in wet ingredients

going in the oven

final granola with a cup of yogurt and some strawberries


mmmmm delicious breakfast

Now...to figure out how to make bars out of the granola so it can be a portable snack.
I've been a yogurt fan forever.  I didn't drink milk when I was young, so my Mimi fed me yogurt as a child.  I've always loved it and when a good friend of mine got me making it last year, I have been even more hooked.  All you need is a starter, milk, heat, and time.  Ok, so like all good things TIME is a factor here.  In the past this is how I made yogurt:

Take a small amount of yogurt (maybe an ounce or less) and set it in a bowl
Heat 4 cups of milk until almost boiling, pour into another bowl
Let both bowls reach room temperature
Pour the milk into the bowl with the starter
Stir
Put in the oven with the light on overnight
Wake up, drain watery stuff from top 
Refrigerate

Pretty easy if you plan ahead and allow time for warming and cooling of temperatures.  Well I was never exact about measuring or heating up, and as a result my yogurt never came out the same way twice.  Sometimes it was thick, sometimes it was runny, sometimes mild, sometimes tart.  We ate it anyway.  Plus if you put it in a smoothie, who cares what the consistency is, right?

Well I went to visit my best friend last week and she had a yogurt maker.  She's so awesome, she let me take it home to try it out.  Ok, it's pretty easy to find manuals online, so I did.  I followed the manufacturers directions EXACTLY.  I had frozen some really good yogurt the last time I had some, so I already had my starter.
frozen yogurt cubes
thawed cubes, 5 oz exactly, and just what the maker recipe called for


Ok, here I'm measuring the temperature with 2 thermometers.  One is for candy making, I don't even know why I have it... and the other is a digital surface temperature scan (for babies).  Heat to 185 degrees, then quickly cool to 115 degrees.  Stir in starter and pour into cups.  Turn machine on, wait 8 hours.



8 hours for 6 cups of yogurt (if you keep some as a starter than you really only get 5 cups
 Eight hours later, I remove the cover, put the lids on and put in the fridge overnight.  The next morning they were perfect!  I am so happy to be back in the yogurt making habit.
It had a normal amount of watery stuff on top when it was all said and done.



Oh, here's rooster #2 out of the freezer (thawed of course).



NOW, doesn't he look much better all dressed up?






What's Going On....

This is a lot more work than I had expected, and I'm working real hard.  Just because I haven't posted on any given day, doesn't mean I haven't drafted a post, taken photographs, worked on networking, editing, and formatting, plotting, etc.

This is just the beginning and I am so happy that so many people are already supporting me.  I really want to make this a happy success, and I see that it requires TIME!  This is a recurring theme, lol.

Please, please bear with me.  Subscribe via email, check out my Facebook page I just made to help this thing grow legs. http://www.facebook.com/SowingTheGoodLife Run and tell that! (who get that reference?)

Am I begging yet? tee hee

And won't you be so happy to be one of the original fans/followers/supporters once this thing gets big.  You can say "Wow, I remember when all she had to blog about was homemade deodorant and chicken poop."

Thank you and Namaste.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Buy the Cow When You Can Get the Milk for Free

Ok, milk isn't free.  At all, ever, even if you own a cow.  You have to pay for the cow and the feed, the vet, the fence, the time invested in being a cow owner, milking the cow, doing stuff with the milk.  Hopefully that would be cream, butter, and cheese.

I buy, weekly:
1-2 gallons of milk
a thing of buttermilk (what is that a liter? it's a weird size)
1-2 quarts of cream, dang or is that pints? see this would be easier if we lived in a metric-system-using society (just sayin)
a pound of butter (maybe every other week on the butter)
1/2-3/4 pound of sliced deli cheese
1/4+ pound really delicious cheese like chevre, feta, blue cheese, or something I don't know how to pronounce
a gallon of ice cream about once a month

I think that might be it.  THAT'S A LOT OF DAIRY.
I drank even more when I was pregnant.  I chugged chocolate milk every morning.

I have been dreaming of getting some milking goats for some time.  B has some fencing and I'm not really sure why we've been waiting.  Oh yeah, because there's another factor to getting an animal that has to be milked everyday - said animal will have offspring.  And it has to keep having offspring to continue to lactate.  What are we going to do with all these baby goats that are now running around?

Why don't we get a cow?  I like cow milk much better than goat's milk anyways.  I'd like to have a milk cow.  I envision baby O and I walking down to the cow with our milk buckets every morning to milk our cow, then coming back in and churning butter with our bonnets on and yada yada yada Little House on the Prairie, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I call my dad, he's my first go-to person when I have farm questions.
"Dad, why not a cow?"
"Well, why not?" he says
"Ok, so do I have to get this cow pregnant every so often to get milk?"
"Yes, honey, just like you, a cow or goat, or any other mammal has to have been pregnant and have offspring to produce milk."
"Oh, ok, that makes sense, huh huh. So what am I going to do with all these cows running around now?"
"Eat them."
"Oh, ok, that's cool!"

Today I start looking online for state laws or ordinances for livestock ownership. I find out you have to have specific fence dimensions, but indeed I need to know more and don't know who to call. We live in a pretty small town. I call Town Hall, I get connected with the man I need to speak to about this exact thing.

The man on the other end of the phone asks where I live, I tell him, I tell him the family name of the folks who lived here before us and he know exactly where we are located. He knows the neighbors and the number of rattlesnakes that crossed the road last summer.

Oops, we are in the city limits and we can't have livestock. BUT...I can appeal to some Board or Committee. We start talking about cows, chickens, goats, gardening, raised planters, Heirloom seeds, canning, dehydrating, preserving, Monsanto, GMOs, cancer, the government, our families, our goals, our homesteads, babies, and before you know it, we have been talking for 45 minutes. He tells me how to appeal, all the info I need to gather, I have to find out all of our adjacent property owners' infomation and of course, pay a fee.

Ok, this is happening, I'm excited. He also convinces me that my original plan of milking goats is going to be easier than a cow. He even tells me where he got his goats, the lady who sells them, all about her and her farm, and so on. I can learn so much from this self proclaimed "prepper." I can't wait to meet him and get the ball rolling.

Shortly after I get off the phone with him, he calls me back and tells me that if I can get the appeal application in by 6:00 he can take it to the committee tonight. If not, it'll be another month. Yay! I'm thankful we have a fax machine at home and we just fax, fax, done. Appeal application has been officially turned in and he will call me tomorrow with the goat lady's name and number.

I think he's on my side. What a great person to talk to and present my appeal to the board. Yay! Stay tuned to more goat news.

SOMEWHERE I have a picture I cut out of a magazine of a little girl milking a goat.  I just spent 20 minutes looking for it, I didn't find it, but I did find a $20 bill between some magazines, so that's pretty cool.  I want to put the picture on my vision board.  It's actually time to make a new vision board, I have 2 that are pretty full.
I could have easily googled images of girls milking goats, in fact I did.  I think that would be some sort of ripping off pictures from some one else, I'm not sure if that is cool to do so sorry there's no pictures on this post, sorry.  Someday I'll have actual pictures of our goats =)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Note to Self: Don't Be a Food Snob

I will finish my granola post today and have something else to post later.  I spent all my day yesterday in the kitchen and didn't get to blog.  I know y'all missed hearing something, right?

I saw this post on another blog this morning and would like to share.  We needed to hear this in our house today.  I'm going to be honest, I didn't even read the whole thing....
Food choices are not a moral issue
I just read enough to be put back in place.

To repeat what I said on Facebook about it - This is a good reminder, what works for one family isn't necessarily what works for another. We shouldn't live in judgement, let's just try to do the best we can for ourselves. Sometimes "best" needs to be evaluated too. We are blessed to have CHOICES in our lives and in this country.  Obviously healthier food choices lead to healthier bodies, but I also know that when you deprive yourself of something you love, crazy emotions pop up.  Mental, spiritual, emotional health is just as important as physical health.

I'm spending hours searching for local and organic food sources and my hubby is pissed off at McDonalds and big animal factories, but that does not give us the right to "judge" anybody else's choices.  We are all humans on this planet, and we are all created equal, right?  Everyday is an opportunity to learn and grow.

I'm just passionate about food.  I'm going to post about a bit more food and then I think later this week I'll do an informative exercise post.

Thank you for reading....I'll be back very shortly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Granola

While trying to photograph my granola ingredients, I had a casualty. I guess no chia seeds in this batch. I think it was a sign to sweep, or that I should have already swept.





My Mimi's granola recipe:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds 
1/4 honey (search for local - I got mine from Mae Grace Farm)
1/4 cup oil Nutiva 42614 Organic Coconut Oil (you can probably use any kind of oil you have on hand, but I'm addicted to coconut oil these days)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2-1 cup almonds, whole or sliced 

Of course you can add or leave out any of the ingredients, I didn't have sesame seeds so I used flax seed instead Bobs Red Mill 37014 Organic Golden Flaxseed, you can also add pumpkin seedsPumpkorn 27872 Organic Original Pumpkin Seeds

Directions:
Combine all of the dry ingredients in large bowl and mix
Combine honey and oil in small bowl and mix
Mix honey and oil into large bowl and stir until well combined
Add cold water a little at a time and mix until crumbly

Pour mixture into large shallow pan with sides, slightly oiled. (I used to use Pam, but now I use coconut oil)
Bake at 200-225 for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes (mine gets done a bit too soon at 225)
Add almonds bake for 30 minutes more or until golden brown and crisp
Turn off oven and allow to cool
Add raisins
Store in covered container in fridge

I'm not sure the shelf life, I've never had any around long enough to stale.

My most favorite breakfast is granola, yogurt and fruit or berries. MMMmmmmmm.
Second favorite would be fresh bacon, eggs, and homemade biscuits, or corned-beef hash with fried potatoes and biscuits, or maybe french toast......where was I? Oh yeah yogurt and granola.

I'm not exactly sure if I want to figure out how much all of this cost, but I only had to buy oats, shredded coconut, raisins, and sunflower seeds, the rest I already had in my pantry.  Ideally we are saving money with me making this, because a box of organic granola is pretty expensive and only lasts us a few days once it's open.  We shall see if this pays off.  I'll going to try to figure out how to make granola bars out of this soon.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eating organic and locally.

My latest dream (besides the literal dream in my sleep last night about chickens digging their way out of the fence) is to be able to go a year without going to the grocery store.  So in other words, starve. Ha, no seriously.  While I am a big fan of Publix and I am very glad they opened one near us, they don't carry any local products.  This area is blessed to be such a great place to farm, hunt, and fish.  I can drive south and go to a fishery and get fresh local seafood.  I can go to farmer's markets, an organic farm and even our front yard for vegetables.  B and his friends have been hunting for deer, quail, and ducks.  There are beekeepers (I want to be one, AND I WILL), a grass-fed cattle and lamb farm within 30 minutes from here, an organic dairy, and a cheese making dairy all just a short drive away.  Oh and a butcher down the road that has the best bacon I've ever put in my mouth, but I'm not so sure where their pork is from.  Their beef is from Iowa and it's very yummy.  They will also process meat for you.  Below is a list of places that I have had food from with the exception of the organic cornmeal place, I just found them this morning.

LOCAL
Bon Secour Fisheries
Baldwin County Farmer's Markets
Mae Grace Farm (organic CSA)
Windmill Market's Westside Grocery (mostly organic)
Hastings Farm (grass-fed, organic, no hormones or anti-biotics beef and lamb)
Sweet Home Farm (no herbicides, pesticides, or growth hormones)
Grass-fed Farms (info for every state)
Working Cows Dairy (organic, low temperature-pasteurized)
Farm Fresh Meats
Conecuh Sausage
Organic sprouted flour and grains (organic)
Organic cornmeal, grits, and polenta (organic)
Kittrell's Daydream Apiary
Local Harvest (info for every state)
*update* (added 3 more sites)
Farmer's Pal - Organic, sustainable, local (find sources in every state)
Find Locally Grown Food
FarmPlate - find local sustainable food

I'm trying to go through our grocery list, our pantry, and refrigerator and compile a list of the items we eat on a regular basis.

A quick inventory last night I came up with following lists:

pantry items:
  • Peanut-butter
  • black beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • kidney beans
  • coconut oil
  • coconut milk
  • coconut water
  • almonds
  • pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
  • flour 
  • cornmeal 
  • sugar
  • honey
  • oatmeal
  • flax seed
  • rice
dairy:
  • milk
  • cream
  • butter
  • cheese - (available local) if I can get some good milk on a regular basis, I'd learn how to make butter, cream and cheese myself
  • yogurt - I totally made this and kept it on hand up until I had a baby, some how I got off track but plan to get back on track this week
meat:

  • fish (sometimes we hit up our fishing friends, hey if you are one of our fishing friends and don't have enough room in your freezer, we'll gladly take some off your hands)
  • beef (available local)
  • lamb (available local)
  • poultry (we have sometimes)
  • pork - I just can't give up bacon
  • eggs - we pretty much always have


animals:

  • dog food
  • cat foot (can't they just catch mice and squirrels?)
  • chicken feed (plan on growing worms and grain for these birds)
Some items I haven't decided on what to do yet, are toiletries.  While I use cloth wipes on baby's butt, I don't think I'm ready to have cloth wipes for grown ups instead of toilet paper.  I'm a big fan of Charmin. I have a soap connection, she's making soap bars like crazy right now.  I'm going to try again to make homemade dish soap and laundry soap.  I've had a couple of not so great experiences with that already.

This is just what I've compiled in my head last night and this morning.  I'm going to take at least 2 more weeks and figure it all out before I swear off grocery stores.  The trade off is going to be driving a lot more and shopping online.  Shopping online is kinda great.  I'm really good at that.

POSTAL
  • Of course I shop Amazon.  Being an Amazon Prime member can maybe get you in trouble.  "Free" 2-day shipping is definitely a decision maker when it comes to comparison shopping.  There is access to lots of vendors and options, which make for a fairly reasonable price.  Amazon.com
  • Organic fruit delivered to your door anywhere in the continental US Fruit Share
  • A multi-farm community shared agriculture, delivered to your door, in parts of Alabama Grow Alabama 
  • Green Polka Dot Box has wholesale prices on natural foods and is supportive of sustainable companies.  I have compared my Publix receipt to these prices and they ARE lower.  We will probably be signing up for membership here.  And if you are interested, please let me know because you can get discounts for referrals. 

Whoa, my head is totally spinning.  It seems daunting.  It's just so easy to load up and go to one big box and shop for everything.  I took this directly from Grow Alabama's website
Approximately 5% of all food purchased in Alabama comes from Alabama, that translates to a loss of an estimated $50 Billion per year. http://www.growalabama.com/aboutus.asp
So shopping close to home is good for our local economy.  It's also good for the environment, much less shipping emissions, usually much less or no packaging waste.  It's healthier for your body because the food is fresher, picked closer to ripeness and less likely to be a genetically modified organism.  When you buy organic over conventionally grown produce you are putting much less or no toxins and chemicals in your body. Plus conventional farming is not sustainable and won't work forever. It's easy to say, well I've eaten this crap for x amount of years, what difference does it make now?  Well one way to make a stand for what you believe in is to spend your hard earned dollars where it makes a difference.  I can tell you one thing, I have learned to waste less food because it's organic.  So maybe it costs a bit more at the store, but less money is going into the trash (or compost) and the end of the week.  Plus, I'm now in the baby making and raising part of my life and my habits will rub off on my child(ren).  I'm working on breaking the cycle, and setting the example.

If you want to learn more about where your food comes from please watch:
both are available on Netflix, neither are so graphic that you can't watch.
I'm sure there are many more documentaries out there about where our food comes from and farm sustainability.

So now that I've stated and started working on this, huh huh, I guess I'd better follow through.  It might not be easy but it might not be hard either.  It will just take some TIME to research and experiment with what works best for me and my family. I know this isn't a light-hearted humorous post, I promise more of those will come.  And I'll keep you updated on this venture. Oh, and I don't know why the formatting is what it is on here, I don't like the white background on my bullet points.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Palletable Ideas

Anybody who has been on Pinterest has seen some repurposed pallet projects.  There are some beautiful and crafty ways to reuse this free wood.  Of course I thought we needed some stuff made from pallets. Where do you get pallets?  They're everywhere. Once you decide you want some pallets, you start seeing them all over.  There are a lot of nurseries and warehouses around us, so I eyeballed stacks of pallets quickly.  I was trying to figure out how to go talk to people to ask them if we could have some of their old pallets, when B started bringing some home.


I may have mentioned this already, but it is so true.  Anything that is free, or saves you money seems to require a time investment.  Taking apart pallets isn't quick or easy.

The first pallet project was a piece of cake.  Prop the pallet up. Done.  We have so many shoes that we roam around the yard in and do not wear in the house.  We had shoes all over the place and now, they have a place!  Love it.



We made some furniture for baby O's farm themed room and I love them so much.  We started with a book shelf, then B made a small end table.  The grandest project was her door.  The door to her room is an unusual width, so just any door wouldn't fit, it was going to have to be a custom job.  Since we sent with a farm them, it only seemed appropriate to have a barn door. At first I was going to get some actual barn wood from my dad. He has a little bit from actually taking down a barn. It seems I always forgot to measure before we went to visit. After seeing all the pallet projects online, the wood looks a lot like barn wood. We decided we could use pallets to build her door. Not only did I want a barn door, but I wanted it to be a sliding door. It kind of needed to be because it would be such a big door to swing open.
Little table next to the changing table, B whipped up fairly quickly one afternoon



This picture of her bookshelves was taken before she even got here.  There's a lot more books now and a bit of touch up on the paint, and some curtains....but you get the point. Just look at the shelves.


We started working on O's room when I was pregnant.  We took the Bradley Method pregnancy and birth classes.  It is a 12 week course that focuses on consumer education, healthy mom, baby and family, teaching the husband to be a birth coach and have a natural unmedicated birth. Bradley Birth if you're interested.  I found it to be very helpful, plus we had an amazing instructor.  Oh, but I missed the last class - I was giving birth.  The reason I bring up the class is because we met some really great people in there and still keep in touch with some of them.  The instructor held the classes in her newly constructed home and SHE had a sliding door.  Well B and one of his new buddies studied it and tried to figure out the hardware and how to do it at our house.  His new friend told us he had a friend who welded and could hook us up with the hardware.  GREAT! Before the class series was over he had brought us our hardware for a sliding barn door.

We still didn't have a door at this time, I guess we were waiting on the hardware. B broke down some good looking pallets and sonstructed a door. He also sanded and sealed it. It looks beautiful! It's perfect. Now here comes the fun part - hanging the door onto the hardware. We finally get it put up only to discover another issue. It's so heavy that the rod it slides on sags. Oh and our floors aren't level. There's still some work to go, but it is a functional door now.
Isn't the wood beautiful!




oops, dragging a bit on the floor, we'll figure something out
A friend came over yesterday and grabbed a pallet to make some boxes. I think they turned out beautifully! The jars are fig preserves she made. They're pretty also!



We have this big pile of pallets and a bunch of ideas. I have a file saved full of pictures that I keep showing to hubby saying, "I want this, can you build us this?" I think I need to get out there and start breaking them down. It's just kinda hard to do with a baby in tow. I really would like to do some patio, er porch furniture, seeing as how it's one of our favorite places to be. I could make us some cushions and pillows....I would even like to use them to build some more raised garden planters.

Unfortunately I was just given some information about potential toxins in pallet wood. UUUUggggghh. You try to do something good and then turns out it's not so good after all. Oh well, I'm not scared. I'll try to keep baby from chewing on her door. And there's probably scarier things in a Chick-fil-a sandwich. Yeah, if you want to know, check this out Chick-fil-a or Chemical-fil-a. Is there crap in everything? I guess you just try to do the best you can. Hopefully we aren't contaminating our compost.

This is our 3-bin compost set up. We had to cover the top because the chickens kept getting inside.


 So if anybody had any great ideas they'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.  As you can see, we have the pallets to make it happen.  When I first decided I'd blog about repurposing pallets I thought I'd have a bunch of projects to show off.  Turns out most of them were still in my head. I really would like to make a headboard out of them, but I'm now hesitant to rest my head next to wood that could have a slew of chemicals in it (wait - do you know what's in your mattress? a slew of chemicals! makes me want to scream).

I'd like to end on a good note, not a negative one. I have observed something wonderful in life.  The universe hears you and responds.  When I decided I wanted pallets, pallets were every where and B started hauling them home.  Earlier this weekend I noted that I wanted to write about yogurt making, that very same day my BFF gave me a yogurt maker.  When you decide what it is you want to appear in your life, make it known.  Write about it, pray about it, meditate on it, tell your friends about it, think about it...and it will appear.  Oh that makes me think of this video:  Garden of your mind  WATCH IT!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You gonna eat that figgy paper?

I never really knew fresh figs until I moved to Alabama.  There used to be a "fig man" down the road that sold a box of figs for about $12.  I think it was a gallon of figs, but it seemed like a lot more.  Man they are like candy!  So good, sweet, soft, mmmmmmm yummy. So I guess it was the summer before last we found him and started stocking up on figs.  Well not so much stocking up, as getting them and eating them like crazy for a month.  Then last year the fig man died, and his wife tried to sell them.  She wasn't available daily like he was, but when she was, we'd load up on a box of figs every time we drove by.  I believe they were mission figs.
(I just spent 10 minutes looking for a picture of them I took a year ago and couldn't find it, and I didn't want to rip one off of someone else's website.)

We have a fig tree in our yard and this year we probably got about 3 baskets full.  B also bought a new fig tree this spring but it's still a bit small and hasn't produced any figs yet.  But someday, we'll be getting more out of our yard.

Our fig tree.  B built a frame around it so we can net it - to prevent all the birds and squirrels from eating our delicious fruits.
 One day last week B brought home 2 bags of figs, 2 different kinds.  The brown ones are mission figs and the green ones, I'm not sure what kind they are, but they are huge!  Figs are high in calcium (higher than any other fruit), iron, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin K, manganese, bromine, vitamin A, protease, fiber and antioxidants.  So it's ok to eat them by the handfuls, right?   But they do have a latex on the outside of the fruit, that is an irritant.  If not washed off it can make your lips burn a little bit. The best way to avoid that, is to just put the whole fruit in your mouth.



The green ones ARE ripe, they have to be a different vareity.
MMMMMMMMM  fig cobbler about to go in the oven; I took a picture of it baking in the oven, but you can see how nasty the bottom of my oven is, so I deleted that one - note to self: clean oven

that yellow stuff....butter goodness
Last year we made homemade pizzas with figs, prosciutto, and goat cheese.  Oh that trio is soooo delicious together. I'm not sure why we haven't done that this year.  Oh yeah, because I'm lazy about making the dough.

I think I made about 3 fig cobblers out of the green figs.  I just ate the brown ones at lunch everyday, and breakfast, and anytime I opened the fridge.  These figs were so super ripe, that some of them were going bad in the fridge.  So those got tossed out the window to the chickens.  They also love figs.  Yes, I toss kitchen scraps out the window to the chickens.  They come running when I open the window.  Cool birds.  Sometimes when they see you through the window anywhere in the house, they'll stop and watch you.  I wonder if they think this is our coup. Where was I? So because figs ripen so quickly and burst open, it's a hard fruit to transport.  Most fresh figs are eaten locally or dried for distribution.  If you happen to find somebody that has a fig tree, I highly recommend eating some fresh.  Rain is bad for them, and we have had so much rain the past couple of weeks, I hope that the harvest isn't over yet.

Round 2 of green figs that B brought home were over ripe, they were starting to go south super quick and I hated to waste them, I had to figure out what to do with them.  I haven't quite ventured into the world of preserving, like jam or jelly.  I will someday though.  I don't think it's that hard, it's just a matter of learning how to do it, and then doing it.  I had this bright idea that I'll make fruit leather.  It's like a fruit roll-up.  I have a dehydrator and a big bowl of figs.  I googled a few recipes for fruit leather and went to it.  I washed and sorted the figs.  The chickens got about half a dozen.  I put the figs in our food processor, there was a little over 3 cups,  and started pureeing them, I just squeezed a bit of lemon juice in, and added about 1/8 cup of cane sugar.  Yum!  It tasted delicious.  A few hours later I pull the trays out.




















Our food dehydrator came with these sheets to lay on the mesh trays for dehydrating liquidy things such as this. Well I couldn't find them so I used wax paper. Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad.

Some peeled away, but not much more than you see here 
paper starting to stick and tear

It peeled off in some places, but it mostly stuck to the paper.  Grrrrrrr.  I ended up with 2 sheets of fig paper.  What I could peel off tasted super delicious.  Ashley and B gave it a thumbs up.  Although it does get stuck in your teeth pretty good.  

Here's a pice that I rolled up, oops, there's a piece of wax paper stuck to it.  And I ain't gonna lie, we all ate some with paper on the back.  Ok maybe just me and B, I don't think Ashley went that far.  While this was a great attempt, I have to consider it a failed attempt.  Sad face right?  At least the figs were free and I was just out time, dirty dishes, wax paper, electricity, figs.....shaking my head, ok.  We say a lot around here that free stuff always equals a time investment of some sort.  I have found that anytime I try to make a "homemade" version of something you can buy in the store it takes so much time.


Isn't it pretty? mmmm, chewy fig leather....er, fig paper


And in my normal fashion, I go read directions in my dehydrator book AFTER I make it.  Oh wow, it specifically says "never use wax paper." EEEEERRRRRR.  Ok, well B volunteered to get more figs next week and I'll try again.  This time I'm going to hunt down those trays.  I knew I ordered them for a reason.  If it's a success, I'll share again.



Alrighty, I think that is all for today.  I updated a couple of things on previous blogs.  Emily said I could use her name in the chicken processing story.  She's the super awesome lady that gave us the butchering lessons.  Yesterday I left my deodorant in the bathroom and found that it turned super soft and left me with green gooey armpits when I reapplied before bed, so back into the fridge it goes to live.  Also I'm still waiting on Melissa's review of her deo stick, hint, hint.  I'll probably take tomorrow off, I may take Sundays off from blogging, or we'll see how it goes.

Yesterday 2 friends, (thanks Fred and Ashley!) posted a link to this blog on their Facebook page and I swear I got 3 times as many hits, so if you can help me promote by doing the same, that would be fantastic.  Just copy the link http://msgoldielocks.blogspot.com into your status and say something to get YOUR friends to read it, then I can reach so many more people.  More readers equals more incentive for me.  I'm really enjoying doing this and I find that it is already keeping me motivated to do new things.  I've already got a little notebook - er well the note app on my iphone - of topics that I want to blog about.  This is about a healthy lifestyle so I believe there will be some exercise topics in the future too. 




Mmmmmmm cheese wrapped in fig paper

Friday, July 20, 2012

Deodorant. It's not for you, it's for other people.

I'm not sure when I stopped using conventional antiperspirant, I think it was in college, it was before I knew it was linked to Alzheimer's Disease and breast cancer. I just had the mentality that your body is supposed to sweat, so preventing it from doing so can't be healthy. I still swiped a stick under my arms regularly, I just bought deodorants instead of antiperspirants. Later, as I learned of the toxins I knew I was going to continue to stay away.

I tried that Burt's Bees spray stuff for awhile, meh, it was ok. It smelled good, but I think it stained my shirts. Sure I used Tom's, the crystal stick, the scented salty water spray, and of course my favorite- nothing.

The only problem with a "natural" deodorant, or none, is obviously, the smell. I guess the pit stains too. But I don't want to rub a stick in my pits and, well my BO rarely offends me. But as I was once told "Deodorant isn't for you, it's for other people." (thanks for reminding me of that story Ash)

Now I know for a fact I'm not the only one who smells my own stinky pits, and then tries to get someone else to smell it too. And then you keep smelling, for what reason, I don't know. Freaks.

So what to do? I decided to make my own. I found this recipe/directions and it seemed like the one for me.

Not a Secret Homemade Deodorant
1-1/2 Tbsp grated beeswax or beeswax beads
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp shea butter
4 tsp clay (bentonite or other)
20-25 drops essential oil (tea tree, rosemary, lavender, lemon, bergamot, or a mixture of any listed)
Empty, clean, sterilized deodorant container
Melt the beeswax and coconut oil on very low heat, whisking often. Once melted, add in the shea butter and whisk a few times, then remove from the heat and continue melting. After that’s melted and you have a liquid, sprinkle in the clay and continue to whisk well until everything is combined. Drop in the essential oil, whisking still. Place the pan into a cool water bath, and leave for 5 minutes or until it just begins to set up. Spoon the mixture into your deodorant container and place it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes (or until completely hard). If, for some reason, it starts to get too soft on a hot day, just put it back in the freezer for a while.
From: www.crunchybetty.com
There is a ton of awesome stuff on her site, but don't go over there and fall in love with her and forget about me. Ok?

The bentonite clay I used is green, oops.  But it doesn't leave green marks I promise.  I do believe the clay comes in white.  Bentonite clay is also good to make a facial mask to pull out blackheads, just mix with apple cider vinegar, I also add a few drops of patchouli because it's super good for your skin.  Do that weekly and you WILL see a difference in your pores.  Maybe more info on this later.

Well I got the supplies and carried around the directions for at least a month. Till one day my friend Melissa called me up and said, let's make deodorant next week. We set a date and finally did it.


I get most of my supplies from http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ and my essential oils are Young Living (I'm a distributor so I get those directly, p.s. contact me if you want to know more about those.  I'm going to do a blog about them soon).  I saved an old deodorant tube, apparently for this purpose.

deodorant is complete, the recipe filled the tube perfectly
I keep mine in the fridge, next to my homemade lotion that I forget to get before I get in the shower, so I've put it on 2 of 4 days this week. I just put some on a little bit ago. Mostly because I gave baby O a bath tonight and I'm about to go snuggle up with her and I don't want her head to smell like an armpit. You know what? She probably doesn't hate my stinky pits, or maybe it's just cause she doesn't know any differently, then again it could be because she can't talk yet. Ha! Well I'm working on my arm pit hygeine if anybody cares. I'm pretty sure at least my hubby does. I just forced him to smell, for feedback of course. He said no, but I pressured him till he obliged. Now he says they don't smell like anything. So that's good, right?


It rolls out just like the store-bought stuff.


Ok, so that is my latest attempt at being more "crunchy" or whatever you want to call it.  I think the word hippie turned to granola and now is crunchy.  Urban Dictionary gives us:

crunchy


Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. 
Thanks everybody for reading about personal information.  I asked Melissa for permission to use her name, Ashley's (Ash) name will probably pop up in this blog a lot, I didn't ask her.  I'm just gonna do it and deal with her later. xoxo.  Again, please follow me via email and comment on this page.  If you are having any difficulties doing so let me know and I'll try to figure it out.  I promise I won't always beg for your attention and affection, but just for a little while to get this thing up and running.  Have a great day!

UPDATE!  It's best if you keep this in the refrigerator, otherwise it gets a bit gooey and seriously leaves green shtuff in your pits, also I think I'm going to apply 2x daily.  Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Have you ever rubbed cold deodorant in your pits?  Feels kinda good. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eating Chickens or Living with Chickens (part 2)



These are the 4 young roosters


So I was going to wait before I posted about our chicken processing experience. But really, why? This is one of the reasons I wanted to blog. This kind of information and pictures are examples of what I do not want to post on Facebook. I'll just dive into it. With our second generation of chickens getting bigger, we had 5 total roosters and 9 hens. That's entirely too much rooster. Our hens started taking a beating, the 4 young ones were a pain in everyone's side. There were chickens running everywhere, feathers flying. Big Ed could only handle so much by himself. B and I had to slap a few roos around a time or two. So here we go. We knew this day was coming and for the safety and peace of the flock they had to go.




We had already watched several youtube videos on butchering and processing. Ha - you can find anything on YouTube. I've seen pictures and read books, and we decided that we wanted to do the killing cone/bleed out method. I had posted on a few chicken or egg sites that I follow on Facebook inquiring about the best place to purchase equipment or any great tips. A new friend of mine on Facebook that I had met at a baby wearing meet-up (another post perhaps), hit me up and introduced me to her cousin, Emily.  She said we post a lot of similar things and perhaps we should get to know each other. Well lo and behold, she offered to bring her butchering supplies and expertise and come show us how to do it. How awesome is that. I told B, that this, this is why I go to various meet-ups with like minded mommas. It's a great way to network. We set a date and counted down the days. I want to say a big THANK YOU to her for being so cool and sharing your knowledge with us.

 
That's right, fill up, enjoy your last day of freed
We decided to take out 3 of the 4, saving the biggest one. That's still really a rooster too many, but we'll deal with it later if it becomes a problem. B built a smaller pen to put the roosters in to separate them from the rest of the flock the night before. To limit their food intake and to make it easier, somewhat, to catch them when the time came. While I wanted to help and participate in the whole process, I got to thinking about Baby O. I decided that I didn't really want her to witness the throat slitting and blood letting part of the process. I know she might not remember everything that happens right now, but I do believe everything is being imprinted in her developing little mind and that is a scene I'm going to leave out for now. So I stepped around the corner with O strapped to my back while they did that step of the process and came back after the heads were in a bucket and the fluffy golden bodies lay on a table.



Next came the plucking process, which was pretty cool and didn't take too long. Then take out the crop, the anus (yeah, eww....fortunately this was the exact same time O decided she needed to take a nap so I headed inside), then the internal organs, followed by the lungs. There's plenty of videos if you want any more detail. So our pile of chicken meat consisted of 3 scrawny birds, livers, gizzards, hearts, necks, and feet. Believe that we are going to use all of it.

Emily was here for about 3 hours, and we are very grateful and appreciative of her time and talents and driving up here to do it. You deserve a ton of credit. Thanks again.



When she left we came inside and looked at our bounty, and loaded it up into the fridge and freezer. I was looking forward to chicken and dumplings the next day. I put 2 of the whole chickens in the freezer and kept one bird and all the organ meat in the fridge. Monday I put a pot on the stove and you know it, boiled that bird down. I got so much stock out of that bird. I think about 16 cups. I saved some, and the meat for the dumplings and put the rest in the freezer.

our bounty: feet, chickens, hearts, gizzards, necks and livers
We were planning on eating our own birds since day one, a year and a half ago so we were mentally prepared for this event. At least I was. When they caught the roosters and took them to the cone, one by one, they wailed a bit like a cat in heat, it didn't bother me. When I saw their decapitated bodies on the table, it didn't bother me. Cutting and cleaning their bodies didn't bother me, they were starting to look like the familiar sight from the grocery store. We brought them inside to clean and put away, we were very excited and very proud of ourselves. I couldn't believe that it finally happened. I couldn't wait to call and tell my dad. We were now one big step closer to being farmers. The next morning I took one bird out of the fridge and put it in a pot to boil. It smelled good. After a few hours a removed it from the pot and pulled off a big white chunk of breast meat. Suddenly, as the meat was in my fingers going towards my mouth, it bothered me. I stopped for a minute and remembered all of the steps of the process and seeing the birds run around the yard just a day ago. I said my thank yous to the rooster for his life and reminded myself that his body will help sustain my family's life. I tried to envision the lives of commercial chicken and recognize that these chickens have it made. They have about 2 acres to roam and they fill up on fresh greens and bugs daily. They eat organic vegetable scraps. They run and fly and mate and fight and live a very good life for a chicken. Ok, take a bite. You know, it tasted like....regular chicken. I have to say, I expected something very different. It was not that different, just chicken.


Puny young roosters have very small breasts


All of the meat fit into one bowl
I once ate some wild turkey that my mom shot in her yard, now that tasted amazingly different than a Butterball turkey. Therefore I expected our "free-range" birds to taste amazingly different. Nope, maybe a little bit. Oh well, at least there was never a smell or that slimy pink goo. I guess that was the biggest difference, the smell. It never reminded me of ammonia or chicken poo, like store bought meat does. Yuck. Chicken meat has always been my least favorite meat anyway. I rarely bought chicken (up until this year) and the only way I really enjoyed it is if it was battered, fried, and dipped in a sauce. In preparation of this event I had been buying whole chickens to try to figure out how to cook and enjoy them. I was buying the anti-biotic and hormone free variety, which is the same as ours. I would like to say that ours are organic, but the feed we use isn't, so I can't say that. Someday we will grow our own grain to feed the birds. Cutting our costs and trips to the feed store down. Plus one more control factor in what goes into our bodies. I'd estimate that the feed is only about 30% of their diet anyway. They free range all day long. I've seen them eat small snakes, lizards, worms, wasps, and bugs galore.

stock and scraps
I ended up making chicken and dumplings the next day, and the day after, we fried the gizzards, livers, and heart. I peeled the feet and made some more stock out of that. I think I have about 6 cups of this hearty gelatinous goodness. Good for our bones and joints, right? The livers were good, would have been better with bacon wrapped around it though. That's the way I used to eat them at the restaurant I worked at as a teenager. I haven't ate chicken livers in years. The heart was like a chewy piece of meat, not too bad. I couldn't bring myself to take a bite of the gizzards. I just had to draw the line somewhere. Yuck, they looked gross, and B described it as so chewy your jaws will hurt. Pass. I don't eat gizzards.
When dealing with the feet I looked up a few sites to double check how to peel them. It's like peeling tomatoes. Throw them in boiling water for a minute or two, then toss them in cold water and the outer layer of skin or whatever, peels off. Well while looking for directions, I was some recipes for chicken feet. At first I was like eww yuck, seriously?! But as I was peeling them, they started to look kinda good, and they actually smelled good too. Maybe someday we'll eat them. B will eat about anything, but these are going to the dogs.  AND THE LOVED THEM!  But next time I have a mess of feet, I'm going to find a super awesome recipe and cook them.
they're like creepy hands
pre-skinning

The skin peels off fairly easy, it looks like snake skin

They actually smell very tasty, I'm contemplating gnawing on them when they are fully cooked
So there's our chicken processing story. I hope I didn't gross anyone out too bad. I probably won't show any more pictures of dead birds in the future. I'm just excited to grow our own food. Seeing this step by step can be emotional. Going to the grocery store is definitely easier. But I'd rather eat our own chickens, that ate our grass and bugs any day.



ON MY BLOGGING.....

I would like to post everyday. Obviously I didn't get to yesterday. It takes longer than you would think to put a post up, especially when adding pictures. I thought that in the evenings after dinner I would have time to write, format and post my daily blogs. That's probably not going to happen, seeing as how I started this one last night and am just now finishing it as O takes her first nap. So I'm not sure when I will get it posted, there may not be a regular time. Does it really matter though? We shall see. I certainly would like to have some "followers" and I hope I continue to get support for sharing. If you subscribe to my blog via email, then Google will think I'm more valuable and be more likely to pull me up on a search (and maybe someday pay me to advertise - that's a whole 'nother subject matter though). But it'll definitely warm my little heart if you subscribe. There's a place to do that at the bottom of this page. And Poppa...I'm still waiting to hear from you. Have you seen this yet? What do you think? My dad's opinion always matters to me. So hopefully he is reading along too. Oh and please leave comments for me! I think the next post will be about my conversion to natural, homemade hygeine products, like soap, lotion and deodorant.