What the World Eats (and being aware of what we eat!)

I saw the photo montage go by on my Facebook feed of What the World Eats.  Each photograph of a family in a different country with all the food that they eat in a week.  It took me by surprise, really.  Many of the countries that I thought would have healthier food choices did not.  And the ones that I would consider healthy had little more than five bags of staples like beans and rice.  What really astounded me though was the sheer amount of processed food.  My goodness, big companies have made their way around the world.  One photo showed liters and liters of Pepsi.  Packages of pre-cut meats.  Boxes and boxes of processed foods.  And some produce.  It made me think, What am I eating? What would our photograph look like?

Just for a day I began photographing my meals.

When we had our practically off-grid farm there for a bit, we were practically self-sufficient.  We had a root cellar filled with fruits and vegetables.  A freezer full of local meat and my own cheese curing from my own goats.  What that photo wouldn’t show is all the food that went to feed the animals that I consumed.  (Nor would it show the chronic heartburn, weight gain, and gout.)  What do I eat now? was a question that would ultimately help me see what I could make myself and just how much processed food I consumed.

Breakfast- I love a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  I buy the organic box of raisin granola for $4-$5 and it feeds me for five days with roughly four cups of cereal in the box.  I wrote a book many years ago called, Gone Vegan, and I pulled out that trusty manual to find my old granola recipe.  It is so good and it made doubled the granola in roughly 40 minutes for a fraction of the price.  One less box I need to send to recycling and one less plastic insert that goes in the trash.

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Homemade Granola

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 6 cups of oats with 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 T pumpkin pie spice, and 3/4 cup of canola, sunflower, or safflower oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

Spray a cookie sheet with oil and after mixing all ingredients well, pour onto cookie sheet.  Drizzle with agave or maple syrup.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.  Then add 1 cup of nuts and 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit (I used pecans, raisins, and cranberries) and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.  Stir a few times after it comes out of the oven as it’s cooling to keep it from sticking or clumping.

Now, this is delicious with almond milk.  And indeed, I can make my own cashew, hemp, or almond milk.  But, I usually buy the carton because it lasts longer.

Lunch- For lunch I had a power smoothie.  My Vitamix is ten years old (a new one is on my wish list) so I have to juice the big stuff first.  I put in the juicer a large leaf of aloe, 3 apples, 3 carrots, a big handful of chard, and a chunk of ginger and turmeric.  Then I poured that into the Vitamix and added a big banana, spirulina, maca, hemp protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, frozen berries, a dollop of both peanut butter and coconut oil.  A drizzle of maple syrup or agave and on the machine goes.  I split it in half and send my husband with his tomorrow in his lunch and drink my half with a few crackers and vegan cream cheese and jam that I preserved.  I could certainly make my own crackers but they aren’t quite as good as organic Ritz style.  But maybe I will work on that this week!  I do buy packaged vegan cheeses and meats.  The packaging is far less waste than the actual act of raising meat and dairy and the karmic value of going vegan is astronomical as well as the lessened impact on the environment.

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Dinner- Pizza with a homemade, 15 minute crust.  I topped it with my own preserved tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella and cream cheese, a ton of spices, and a bunch of delicious vegetables.

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The next night we had vegan carne asada with crisp oven fries, cashew queso, Beyond Meat crumbles, guacamole, tomatoes, and homemade red chile.

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The Big Picture– Well, I have a bit to go, don’t I?  But being aware is the first step to doing better.  So, yes, we use some packaged items and some of them could be made and some of them are the lesser of evils.  But produce is a large part of our diet and so are healthy grains.  I grow all of our produce for the four months we garden and I preserve a few hundred jars of produce a year.  This year with my expanded gardens and vertical gardening techniques, I hope to produce doubled what I have been.  This continues to increase our nutrition intake and lessen our footprint even more.  Preparing more ethnic dishes, like Indian and Mexican food allows the use of more beans and pulses, further increasing our health, and costs less environmentally and monetarily.

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Vegan cheesecake with homemade chokecherry sauce

As Americans especially, we have a lot of unwiring to do.  I hope in a year or so to look more like the family from Guatemala (sans meat) then the one from America.

http://time.com/8515/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/

 

 

A Perfectly Marvelous Salad

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A perfectly marvelous salad should be extremely simple to make, quite inexpensive if you have to purchase the ingredients because of the snow in the garden, and nutritious with lots of unique flavors.  This one fits the bill.  It meets every possible diet, I think, and is so tasty, I could practically eat it every day.  It is our main course lunch salad quite often but with a side of salmon or egg drop soup it would make a nice supper.

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For two people chop one head of romaine and split it between two bowls.

Slice open an avocado and discard the pit.  Place one half on each bowl.

Fill cavity of avocado with pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds.

Drizzle very lightly rice wine vinegar, a bit more sesame oil, and good splashes of soy sauce.

Enjoy with green tea or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

To your health!

Will the Real Farmgirl Please Stand Up?

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When I told the owner of Miller Farms, Joe, at his birthday party a few months ago that I wanted to be a farmer, he looked at me with a mix of pity and humor.  Apparently grown women don’t run around dreaming of being a farmer when they grow up.  The rest of the farm hands laughed too.  The grumpy farmer at the farmer’s market asked why I would want to do such a thing?  It’s hard work.  I have never been afraid of hard work.  In fact, I dislike days that there is no work.  I have to keep busy.  I am not afraid of sunrise, dirt, or feeding people.  Only two percent of the population grows all the food for our country.  Scary.  Not crazy about relying on someone else to grow food for me.  Makes me feel kind of helpless.  That is why I garden.  Be it not very well for the past twenty years but I had a slower learning curve then everyone else and no family to teach me.  Just books.  And now Debbie.

Debbie started out as one of my students learning herbalism a few years back.  She received a grant for a greenhouse and grows a myriad of wonderful herbs as well as vast amounts of food.  So, the teacher becomes the student today as I go for my internship and learn which side is up.  Everything in her hoop house survived the below zero temperatures.  I am intrigued.  Her land is a picturesque bounty set against hills and filled with roaming cows and a beautiful old restored house.  Her general demeanor is always kind and upbeat.  A renaissance woman, a Master Gardener, and a friend.  I will learn well in this atmosphere!  http://lookingoutfrommybackyard.wordpress.com is her blog.  I shamelessly stole these pictures off of her blog!

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I think I will plant a few rows of wine grapes.  I have two Cabernet Sauvignon vines here I can bring with me to start.  An Apothecary garden that will consist of beautiful medicinal and culinary herbs.  Long rows of three sisters, corn, beans, and squash will grow together and remind us of history.  All of the glorious, unique, colorful heirlooms seeds I ordered back in January in my garden dreaming will sprout and take hold, reaching their heads up to the endless sky, looking out to the mountain range, and will provide sustenance for our family and beyond.

I never want to sell wholesale.  Just as I run my Apothecary.  No wholesale.  No faceless item on the shelf.  No wondering who made it.  I want to hand it to you.  Tell you a funny story about it.  Throw in a free round of cheese to eat with the fresh tomatoes and kale.

Now I am really getting ahead of myself.  I don’t have a goat!

What the March Root Cellar Holds

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I suppose you might have thought me lazy when I first started canning for I really didn’t want to go through the whole trouble of water boiling the jars to seal the jars.  I just figured that if the top popped I was good to go, so any form of heat would probably be good.  Window sills seemed reasonable. Luckily, I was in the beginning stages of canning and really limited to pickles.  I filed them into their jar, filled half way with vinegar, half way with water (just like I do now), a sprig of dill, a teaspoon of salt, and some mustard seeds, celery seeds, and cayenne.  Then in the window they went!  We enjoyed them greatly.  I wasn’t making the amount I make now so they were gone in a matter of weeks.  Same with tomatoes in their tablespoon of lemon juice and teaspoon of salt.  We thankfully ate them quickly.  I got really brave one year and made salsa.  With corn.  I asked a friend at the farmer’s market, who I knew canned, about what I might have done wrong.  She looked a bit horrified at me as I revealed how I canned.  And the yummy tomatoes and corn and spices I have sitting in the window.  They were ticking….oddly enough.  Literally, ticking like a time bomb.  She said hoarsely, “Get rid of it!”  I did.  I ran with the ticking thing to the trash and threw it in and said a prayer for the trash man!  I hoped it wouldn’t blow up until it got far away.

I can immodestly say now that I have perfected canning, the real canning, with a little sheepish horror in reminiscence for how I started!  So, last year I decided to can over three hundred items.  It was a homesteading goal.  Just to see if I could do it.  And I did.  I am doing a root cellar tally.  I did not really think about all I was canning, just that I needed to can.  So whatever Miller Farms had extra was in my kitchen.  So here’s how it looks come Spring time.

Peas were the earliest to be canned and promptly eaten…sadly.  So delicious.  The frozen not quite satisfying my craving.  It seemed like I had tons of peas, but had only four jars by the end of shelling.

I have one can of corn left.  Not bad, but not enough.  Corn won’t be here until July so I should can more corn this year.

Apparently we ain’t big on beets.  We like them alright but somehow I still have at least twenty quarts left plus all the pickled beets.  It is very beautiful in the root cellar with all the ruby colored jars.  Perhaps less this year?

Ditto with zucchini.  Seemed like a brilliant idea.  Lot of zucchini and zucchini and tomatoes to put into soups and minestrone.  I guess we didn’t feel much like minestrone and soup this year.

The green beans are half gone.  I like them better canned than fresh I think.  How weird.  Perhaps because my memory growing up is of canned vegetables so they taste like when I was a kid.  Only organic and home-canned.  Still put butter and salt on top.

The fruit cocktail didn’t last too long.  The apples did.  Apparently I did not bake as many apple pies as previously expected (I baked one).  However, we do not get more apples until this fall so there is time for apple crisps and cabbage and apples.  The cherries are holding out alright.

Tomato sauce is gone.  It is a staple.  I have eight jars of spaghetti sauce but those won’t stick around.  I am swimming in ketchup, barbecue sauce, chutney.  These should last until fall though when it is time to do it again.

No matter how many jars of diced tomatoes I put up every year, it is not enough.  I am down to one.

We ate pickles like they were going out of style last year.  I ran clean out, so I doubled my numbers.  They haven’t been touched.  Oh, if we could only predict cravings!  Too bad Emily didn’t crave pickles!

The dried beans are holding out.  I am almost out of honey.  I have plenty of wheat.  I have an entire bucket of beets in sand.  Really?  More beets?!

The carrots that I packed in damp sand last fall?  Awesome.  Crisp, delicious, perfect.

The potatoes?  Well, you read that story.  If I hadn’t escorted them to the compost bin, they may have climbed straight out the window.

I have one less squash than when I started.  Huh.  I should have canned it.  During the winter, I don’t feel like canning.  It feels too out of season.  Too comfortable in the house or something.  It must be at the peak of temperatures and misery.  I will can in the fall.  More of this, a whole lot less of that!

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