Saturday, July 9, 2011

Allow Me This Moment and This Soap-Box

I've never in my life been staunchly one way or another. I don't consider myself a Democrat or a Republican; I think both sides are extraordinarily biast, obnoxious, and closed-minded. I've never been staunchly for going green, because I understand that we are a technological work in progress and in order to move forward in the world we are going to have to adapt. I do understand progress people, I promise you that. So I've gone my whole life (a whopping 26 years at this point) walking the middle road and trying embody the words "tolerance" and "acceptance" while still holding tightly to my roots and "traditional" American living.

Today I finally got the chance to go through my main email inbox, where I discovered a very simple message: Check this out. I click on the link, and an article about Senate Bill 510 is staring me in the face.

*Before you think that I'm spreading political propaganda in any direction, please understand that I am in the process of reading the actual text and not just taking into account an opinionated piece; no matter how much my heart screams in agreement*

The article is simply titled "Top 10 Lies About Senate Bill 510". It lists 10 very provocative points that are addressed in S.B.510. I'll be perfectly honest, if even half of them are true I want to live on a farm in the middle of backwoods nowhere, grow my own food, live off the grid, and not owe anyone anything. I absolutely hate the idea that big government has their input in to what goes into my body. I am already leary of vaccines (a personal feeling of mine that I'm sure I'll share or may have already shared), pharmaceuticals, and other unnatural things that we subject our bodies to.

I'm not perfect, I take nutrition supplements, use chemically based shampoo (on occasion - I still owe you all a review on Squid Balm), drink a glass of milk while I'm enjoying my Skinny Cow chocolate candy things,  and when I get a wild hair I might use a temporary dye on my hair. I'm only human right? But after reading this article and starting to read the actual bill text (ok, guilty, I'm skimming over here... but in my defense it IS 248 pages :/) I'm absolutely appalled at the idea of having my food choices limited. People can choose to kill themselves with chemically modified junk food, but I can't choose to feed my family organic unaltered produce? I think not!!

I encourage anyone who is interested in natural living, natural non-modified foods, and plain simple living; go read this article, and go read the actual bill. Love it or hate it, its your right as an American to know what laws will be directly affecting your life, and have your voice heard no matter if you're for or against this bill. Be informed, be involved. Its the fastest way to irritate Washington. They'll be hearing from me in about..... 150 pages. Oi.

Link to Natural Living's Article "Top 10 Lies About Senate Bill 510"
Link to Open Congress' actual bill text "Senate Bill 510"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Do you know where your food REALLY comes from?

Allow me to generalize a bit. Most people don't think about where their food comes from beyond the grocery store. They may have their favorite stores based upon personal experience, convenience of location, cleanliness, or sometimes even based upon the company's ethics. Who really thinks about where their food is manufactured? Where does the grain come from that goes into your child's cereal or the bread in their pb&j sandwich? Where were the chickens raised, that ultimately ended up on your dinner table? What did they eat? What were they injected with before and after slaughter? That hamburger you're eating. The hotdog, sausage, pork chop, salmon fillet. What happened to that animal before it ended up on your table? Vegetarian? Ok, what farm did your salad greens come from? What pesticides were used? What fertilizer? How long ago did it leave the farm and start the long trip to your grocer's shelf?

The saying "you are what you eat" isn't just a catch phrase. Its quite literal in fact. If the animal that ultimately ends up on your plate is fed substandard food, it will most likely be in poor health will be lacking in the nutrients that you need to get when you eat it. The other possibility, it was given substandard food so the "farmer" (using that term loosely depending on where the animal came from) may have given it extra hormones so that it looks better in the packaging and you're more likely to buy it. Something that my husband and I weren't aware of until recently, when you buy boneless skinless chicken breasts read the package first. Read the whole thing, because more often than not you will find it listed that it has been "enhanced" with something. Could be chicken broth, could be some chemical that even Mr. Webster couldn't pronounce. That "something" can equal 25% of your daily sodium intake. That's raw chicken, no seasonings, being loaded down with salt. Can we say cankles? High blood pressure? Numerous other health problems brought on by excess sodium? Its long been known that beef is subjected to extra hormones, milk has added hormones, etc etc. Can no one just leave our food alone?

Yes, I am a huge advocate for local farmer's markets. I loved the little ones that we had scattered around my hometown of San Diego (and that was for the ambiance, I didn't research where the products came from), and I adore the one that we have here in Virginia Beach. I enjoy talking to the farmers themselves. The organic grocer who can tell you where all of her products come from, right on down to the organic honey. Now don't get me wrong. Not everything that you find at the farmer's market is exactly... local. Take the butcher for example. We were told that the chicken came from N.Carolina (decently local for us), the beef from the midwest, and I *believe* (don't quote me on this one) that the pork came from PA? I could easily be wrong there though, I was chasing a two year old while my husband talked to one of the employees. The shop was wonderful however, and seeing the meat ground right in front of you is decently reassuring. But I have no idea how those animals lived before they came to the butcher. Had I more time that day, I probably could have asked, and done my due diligence and found out that information. That is the beauty of small businesses, especially the type found at the farmer's markets.

I guess the point of this post is to get whomever reads this to think about where their food comes from, what steps are taken to ensure their food's safety, and to just be concious about what goes into their body overall. I'm stopping this post here because I'm very passionate about the quality of the food that I feed my family, and I have a horrible tendancy to go off on wild, raging tangents.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

The thing that I love about this recipe is that a) there is ZERO white flour, and b) no sugar. Yes, there is honey and molasses (you can actually get away without the molasses, just use all honey), but locally harvested organic honey is not hard to come by. Personally, I'm not sure how much I trust packaged sugar no matter how much the company swears its organic or "in the raw". My family loves this recipe, and this is our sandwich bread... when I get the opportunity to make it.

A couple things to keep in mind: the majority of my recipes are done using a Kitchenaide variable speed stand mixer and one of three "blade" (?) attachments: the whisk, the dough hook, or the standard mixing one.
Also, my oven (for lack of better phrasing) sucks, so my cooking times may vary from yours. Always keep an eye on what you're cooking and adjust times accordingly. For a truly organic product, know where your food comes from and support your local growers. All flour in this recipe is an organic stone ground wheat flour found at the organic grocery store at our local farmer's market; even the flour used on the counter when kneading. For more on organic foods, farmer's markets, and just generally knowing where your dinner comes from; check back for my next post "Do you know where your food really comes from?". I should have it up by the end of the long weekend :)

Yield: 2 loaves

2.75 cup hot water
.33 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
.33 cup organic honey
2 tbsp molasses (you can also substitute extra honey for a sweeter bread)
1 tbsp salt
7.5 cups organic 100% whole wheat whole grain flour
1 packet dry active yeast

The steps (mix in between steps):

Place first five ingredients in the bowl and mix.

Add 2 cups of the flour.

Add yeast

Add 4 cups of the flour

Keep mixing until consistency is even. Slowly add remaining flour .5 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Do not exceed 7.5 cups of flour. Remember that the dough should be tacky, and over mixing will cause your bread to turn out tougher than you probably like.

Cover the bowl and let it rise for 30-45 minutes in a warm place. If using a stand mixer, it doesn't necessarily need to double it just needs time to grow.

Grease two standard sized loaf pans with either flour or calorie free cooking spray (butter flavor is my favorite).

Punch dough down and drop onto a floured surface. Work the dough and shape it into a ball, divide in half and do it again. Shape the loaves by turning dough under itself over and over again. When its shaped right, you'll have an oblong loaf shape that is smooth on sides and top (there can be a crease on the bottom, it still tastes just fine ;-) )

Drop the loaves in your pans and let them rise until almost doubled. Bake in a preheated oven @ 350* for 36 minutes. Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire rack. Do not wrap until completely cool, and do not refrigerate ever. Unless of course you enjoy eating loaf shaped bricks.

Back to the Crunchy Side

I've been a bit neglectful towards my blogs, but my quest for a more natural, healthy lifestyle is as alive as ever. I'll be a posting queen over the next couple of days; expect a new bread recipe, my review on an all natural skin care line, a post on the local farmer's market (do you know where your food comes from?), and an interestingly provocative tidbit on SIDS. Stay tuned because my fingers are just now getting fired up!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lacking Creative Ideas. What do you want to do more naturally?

I haven't had any bright ideas recently, so I figured I'd ask all of you. What do you want to see done naturally that I haven't done already? I'll be your guinea pig. Ready.... go!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Granola Update

I know a lot of you like my granola bar recipe, so I had to share what I did this morning.
I got a little frisky when I was making the raisin granola bars, and I made some changes. If you thought they were good before, omgosh they are way better now!

Simple changes, all I did was add about a half cup more whole oats, a touch more oil (seriously just so that it hit half way between a half cup and 2/3 cup on my pyrex measure), some nutmeg, and some cloves. Just add the spices to taste; it really pulled the whole recipe together for me.
Next time, I'm going to attempt some apple pie bars =D Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Urine + Upholstery - Steam Cleaner = Trouble

So, we still don't have a steam cleaner and for our family that is a big issue. I've been very fortunate to have friends who are generous and have let us borrow theirs in the past; but for right now we are wholly without. Hopefully we will remedy that after we get our tax refund, but thats for another post, probably in another blog.
Anyway, we have a micro-fiber "pseudo-suede" living room set. A couch, love seat, and over stuffed chair. We also have a dog, a cat, a toddler boy, and an infant girl. Thats a dangerous combination as any parent can attest to.
Our toddler boy is also potty training, which adds another layer of frustration. Apparently my over stuffed pseudo-suede chair is great for marking his territory! Now, these are your average "Craigslist special" pieces of furniture. I sure did not spend thousands of dollars on them. But as a mom, wife, heck average human; I do not appreciate the smell of urine in any form. I have to get that smell out before it drives me any more crazy than I already am!
According to a Google search that I did this morning, removal is simple! (insert loud cheer here!) Blot up the urine with paper towels (if its dry, spray it with water and then blot). While still damp, sprinkle baking soda on the area, use a brush to restore the nap of the fabric if necessary, and then vacuum once its dry. The baking soda is supposed to trap the smell and the salt left behind by the urine, which then disappears once you vacuum.
I've done the re-wetting, the blotting, and the spreading of the baking soda. I will let you know once its dry and I put my vacuum to work. Keep your fingers crossed!!!