The Hens of Pumpkin Hollow

20180214_152811They, too, wait for spring when fresh greenery pushes through to be pecked at and enjoyed by the hens of Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  I love chickens.  And the thing we missed most when we were away from a farm was having chickens.  They make a farm a home anywhere you can keep them.  Their colorful feathers, changing in the sun, their strut through high weeds and the way they tilt their head to look at you with one eye.  They are hilarious in demeanor and each one is as different as my cats.

Yogi and Hindi are Jersey Giants and we refer to them as the Jersey girls.  They tend to stick together.  Their large black feathers sparkle emerald in the sunlight.  They lay large brown eggs.  They were late bloomers but seem to be catching up with others.

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Eloise was supposed to be a Marans but she lacks speckles and I think she is actually an Australorpe.  She lays small tan eggs wherever she pleases; outside the coop door, near the chicken food-as if the egg popping out surprises her.  She wants to be pet but then changes her mind.  She sleeps by herself and is a little…um…special.  But she is very sweet.

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Buttercup is the tiny queen here.  A clean, white egg can be found each day.  Her breed is Buttercup which is what led to her name.  She looks like a miniature leopard with a rose shaped crown.  She wants nothing to do with us.  Unless we have a bit of cracked corn.

Owlette is an Auracana.  This lovely breed looks like an owl and lays blue-green eggs.  I would like a few more of these ladies.  They are sassy and good layers.

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We have fallen for Salmon Favorelles.  These girls are beautiful in their French finest and petticoats.  They lay pink eggs regularly and are very friendly.  Bubba is especially sweet.  Our granddaughter named our chickens.  Bubba and Chichi are cute names indeed.

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We feed organic layer feed and organic scratch.  They eat scraps from the kitchen as well.  They have a large fenced in area that was likely a dog run in the past with seven foot fencing.  They live in an adobe house with trumpet vine that climbs prettily up the side in the summer.  We are all ready for a little color and for winter to pass!  They are able to wander the yard on the days the puppy goes to the shop with me.  I don’t trust his puppyness quite yet.  Chickens are very easy to keep.  They require little more than a straw strewn shed or chicken coop, fresh water, scratch, oyster shells, scraps, and feed.  They love dirt baths and bugs and sunlight.  They put themselves to bed in the evening at last light.  All you have to do is open the door in the morning and close the door at night.

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We are vegan but we do eat the eggs from our own chickens.  Our chickens lead a very nice life with pets, treats, and lots of wandering adventures.  They will live here their entire life and so in that way they are lucky.  No factory farms, cages, enclosed barns, or slaughter for them.

So now as spring approaches we have the question to answer; do we “adopt” five more chicks even though the hatcheries are horrific and provide five chickens with a beautiful future or do we wait and see if we are sent five chickens that need rescuing?  There are many moral decisions to be made on a small hobby farm.  We do know that chickens make this mini-farm a happier place to live.  A farm without chickens is not quite a home.

Two Weeks Vegan (cost, cookbooks, and the original nourishing diet)

 

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I was following what my friends were doing for awhile.  The Nourishing Diet, or way of eating (diet always seems to denote weight loss, but this was a lifestyle).  It fit our farm lives, fats, bone broth, nourishing whole foods.  I have never in my life felt more nourished than being vegan.  I am glad we went away from being vegan then came back so I could see the difference.  None of that after fat or grease or overeating ick feeling.  I feel like every cell in my body is being nourished as I consume a smoothie.  Kale, dandelions, or spinach, with apples, bananas, and/or nectarines, topped with frozen berries and a little maple syrup and coconut oil.  Oats (a delicious nervine) and cashews or almond butter or whatever speaks to us today.  The quart of nourishing juice revitalizes us and has to be more nutritious than any bone broth.

Doug has lost seven pounds.  All of our issues are less.  Not gone yet, but geez, it’s only been two weeks!  Less sinus issue for him, a lot less inflammation for me, minor detoxing (when we were vegan before we only needed a shower every five days, we never smelled), so a few extra showers and a few teen zits coming up here and there as we attempt to undue two and a half years of damage in two weeks.

I hear a lot that it costs more for healthy food.  I want to address this because a lot of people don’t do it because of this.  So, yes, an organic apple next to a conventional apple will typically be about ten to twenty cents more.  However, once I cut out all meat and dairy and most processed foods out of my grocery cart, you wouldn’t believe how much I saved!  I spent a lot on meat, especially grass fed, local meats.  Nuts are pricey, beans are not, organic orange juice is pricey, but we were buying that before.  We are consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits and whole grains.  And in the end, it’s cheaper.  We can’t just run willy nilly out to restaurants so we are eating at home a lot more.

I am inspired when I get into my kitchen.  I used to think I was in a rut before we fell off the bacon wagon but nothing says “rut” like “meatloaf or pork chops?”.  We are inspired to make vegan cheeses from creamy cashews and coconuts.  Veggie meats from organic wheat gluten (really, y’all, not all gluten is bad for you) and whole beans make a quick, delicious, protein and veggie filled replacement.  Dipped in panko and baked, covered in vegan gravy with mashed potatoes, you’d think you were back at the kitchen table on a farm.  And none of the icky, overate, too much comfort food feeling, just nourishment.  Salads, sandwiches, vegan pizza, or just fruit salad, anything we want.  We haven’t even missed meat.  If I do not have time to make something from scratch I can grab a vegan pizza from the frozen section at the health food store and embellish it.  Remember when the veggie stuff had so many ingredients and none of them were pronounceable?   Well, a lot of that has changed.  Stay away from Monsanto bought veggie products like Morning star, stick with Gardein, Tofurky, the smaller brands.  Just nourishment.

Here are a few cookbooks I am loving.  The Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester has great recipes like chorizo and veggie chicken plus a zillion more, and Thug Kitchen; Eat Like You Give a F*ck is the funniest cook book I have ever read.

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So keep up the good work, heal yourself and the world, kiss a cow, wave at a robin, and eat great this week.  Be nourished.

 

The Forest Feast and the Underground Supper Club

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I have found the most beautiful cookbook.  It is called “The Forest Feast” by Erin Gleeson.  You can taste the food and smell the forest and celebrate with friends as you flip the pages.  Cool cocktails and interesting takes on vegetables wooed me into the check out line with it.  I have spent hours lost in its pages.

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I bought it to challenge me.  Sometimes I make the same vegetables in many of the same ways as I always have.  Corn with butter and salt.  Broccoli with  uh…butter and salt.  How about broccoli roasted then tossed with blue cheese and pine nuts?  I served this dish with curried salmon and salad when friends came to dinner and the dish positively melts in your mouth and screams for great red wine.  Cauliflower steaks with cheddar and chives.  Cucumber and strawberry salad.  Paprika and cinnamon crispy carrot slices.  Sangria.

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It inspires me, as so many things out there do.  Shyanne and I have long dreamed of a supper club.  Wildflower and Fawn, after our respective Native names, would be its moniker.  Supper clubs are frowned upon when serving wines and food in a non-commercial kitchen and charging.  But, yet we dreamed.  Four courses, from scratch, organic, local ingredients, wine pairings, my creative take on main and side dishes, and Shyanne’s extraordinary flair for desserts.  A multi-star experience of fresh flowers, laughter, fine china, and delicious food and drinks.  A quarterly event.  A way to express our inner chef/sommelier/baker/entertainer without the restaurant.

The first one filled up in a matter of days.  The next is Memorial Weekend.  The ideas and inspiration keeps gathering force like stardust, and enchantment is all around.

 

Victory Gardens (and beating Monsanto ourselves)

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I wonder if most people understand the dire consequences of a bill signed by our president last week.  A bill that protects Monsanto from all law suits, present and future, from any claims that their products causes serious health problems, even death.  Research shows it does and every other country in the world has banned them.  Why, I ask, would the president protect this company in particular?  Of course we know the answer, money, and the money from Monsanto haunts the halls of Congress and the White House.

That is sad that the American people, who are by and large against genetically modified crops, did not have a voice despite Marches against Monsanto across the country, and that our health, our children’s health, and definitely our grandchildren’s health is going to be sacrificed for a few bucks.  It feels overwhelming and devastating.

Is there anything we can do?  Is there any way to beat big business at its own game?  Not directly, but indirectly perhaps.  I think of all the convenience food my grown children eat daily, fast food, and supposedly healthy boxes of dinners.  The effect that will be having on them.  The effects on my granddaughter Maryjane’s new organs and system.  I cannot change the world, indeed I may not be able to change my children’s worlds, but I can work within my own boundaries and possibly inspire or help folks around me and maybe help my children start gardens when they get into their own houses, or at least let them come raid the root cellar and my gardens.  So what can we do?

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This is war.  Not war in the sense of World War II but war against the people all the same.  In the time of WWII, Victory Gardens were the answer.  Victory Gardens provided sustenance against insecurity and fear.  It provided healthy food, grown from seed, from back door to table.  Back yard chickens provided eggs and meat.  Grains stored so that fresh bread could be made.  Sugar and other items that were experiencing a shortage were creatively replaced.  The housewives of the 1930’s and 40’s fought for their families and protected them by ensuring food was in the back yard.  We can do the same.

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Steps to Winning the War Against Monsanto and Protecting Your Family

1. Grow a garden.  Be it in pots, 5 gallon buckets, the front yard, the back yard, the side yard, or at a community garden.

If you cannot grow a garden where you are at, or do not have the energy to have one, support someone that does.  Small farms are dotting the landscape and more and more new farmers are coming on the scene, particularly women.  They are all around you.  Check the farmer’s markets or ask around.

Not all farms are the same.  The big farms at the farmers market ship in produce this early in the season.  Is it organic?  Where did it come from?  Particularly corn.  That will protect you from the GMO’s but the pesticide free is very important as well.  Pesticide use is at an all time high and the residual is in the structure of the food.  You can’t wash it off.  Find a pesticide free farmer.  Local.  Small.  Eat in season.

Go in with a friend.  Do you have a friend that gardens?  Can they plant a row for you in exchange for something you create?  Or can you buy excess produce from a friend?

If all else fails, buy from the health food store and make sure it is organic!

chickens too

2. Get back yard chickens.  If you are allowed, get them.  You will not regret this most amazing, local protein source and classic entertainment.  Eggs have a million uses and if one chose, the meat could be harvested every few years.

If  you cannot have back yard chickens, find someone that is allowed to.  It is actually very easy to find someone to raise your livestock for you.  Farmsteaders are happy to share what they know and to help out city folks.

If all else fails, buy organic meat from the health food store.

3. Get a Milk Share or A Goat. Nothing tastes better than a cold glass of chocolate milk after watering the garden.  Raw milk is better for you than pasteurized.  It contains valuable enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed in pasteurization.

4. Avoid boxes at all costs.  Inside them lurks, not only every genetically modified ingredient known to man, but they are basically nutrient deplete, and unrecognizable to the body.

If you must use a box of something, make sure it is organic.

5. Make your own food.  This may seem impossible to a lot of people.  It does take time to make everything homemade, but not that much more time.  Make time.  A television show less and you could have a day’s worth of food pre-made if you needed to.  The time it takes to eat out could be spent in the kitchen.  Fast food on a farmstead is salad, boiled corn (organic of course!), fried fish, I mean seriously folks,  it really doesn’t take that long to cook dinner.  Pre-make breakfasts and plan lunches and bake bread on Sundays.

6. It doesn’t cost more to be organic.  Trust me on this one.  Yes, the individual prices of the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meats, and grains are a smidge higher than at Walmart.  However, you are saving money by not eating out, by not buying prepackaged meals, by not buying boxes, soft drinks, etc.  The grocery bill may even look a little lighter!

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Do it yourself.  Support someone local to do it for you.  Only eat organically.  Store food for winter.  Watch many of your diseases fall away.  And protect yourself in the future.  We can have the last laugh.

 

The Problem With Blanket Statements (making our own way)

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“The meat industry is the largest contributor to global warming and pollution.”  I knew it! said my vegan self years ago when I heard this statement.  That was before I moved to the country.  What the statements and news articles should have said was that the factory farms and huge dairy and meat operations were the cause of so much mass pollution and run off.  John’s fifty head of cattle or Deb’s humanely raised and killed beef are not really huge contributors to the world’s pollution problem.  In fact, by raising healthy, grass fed, humanely raised and processed meat they are actually saving the planet by providing local food.  Smaller footprint.

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“Milk is bad for you.”  Many articles are promoting this right now.  On the flip side the posters put out by the USDA in schools tout that “Milk is good for you!”  What?  My vegan self saw the first one and said, “I knew it.”  I know that conventional milk causes excess mucous, brain fog, and contributes to osteoporosis. (Pasteurized milk leaches calcium from the bones.  America has the highest population of dairy consumers and the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world.)  I was smug.

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A few years ago a student of mine, Liz, who works on a dairy farm in Fort Collins, sent me an email so not to cause an argument in class.  She said that I was wrong about my blanket statement.  There was a big difference between raw milk from a small dairy, humanely raised cows and goats, and the large conventional dairies and pasteurized milk.  I don’t know about that.  She went on to tell me how her allergies had been decreased and she felt better after drinking raw milk.

Liz was friends with Nancy.  Nancy shortly after brought me a pint of raw goat’s milk.  “You don’t have to drink it,” she said.  We were gluttons, looking for more milk.  One taste and something in our bodies begged for more.  Chocolate milk became our vice and we felt great.  So, we started eating other dairy too, conventional dairy.  The same problems we experienced before we went vegan (stomach problems, weight gain) happened again.  Raw goat cheese and raw milk do not have that effect on us.  Goat’s milk used to be used as formula replacement if a mommy couldn’t nurse.  It is packed with nutrients and vitamins and is so easy to digest.  It is very similar to human breast milk.

Now that we have our own goats, we are even closer to the source and can control daily kisses and hugs, what they eat, and provide a local source of milk and cheese.  Smaller footprint.

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“All gluten is bad for you.”  I know a lot of people that will repeat this.  But, it is a blanket statement.  A diagnosis that a doctor will give if they do not know what is wrong.  Yes, processed flour products and non-organic flour are pretty bad.  They have a lot of additives and non-organic flour was hybridized to increase gluten content to extend shelf life so it is harder to digest.  It is also a highly sprayed crop.  Fertilizers and pesticides do affect how we feel.  Processed gluten-free alternatives are probably not much better.  Organic grains, especially whole grains, provide needed energy, nutrients, and anti-oxidants.  They contain anti-cancer properties as well.  Bring on the homemade wheat baguette!

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“All vegetables are created the same.”  Please be aware that if it isn’t organic in the store than it probably has been sprayed with pesticides and may be a genetically modified crop.  If you don’t know about GMO’s yet, please research them!  Stay far, far away from non-organic soy, canola, and corn.  If you see a few and far between article on their safety, see who is benefitting from the “research”.  Monsanto?  They are the attempted killer of the farmer that you know and love.  Also remember that just because the store has a clever marketing slogan (Sprout’s Farmer’s Market) or if it is at a real farmer’s market, that doesn’t mean that it is organic.

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Then there are the blanket statements that change, yet we listen all the same.  One glass of wine is good for the heart, two causes breast cancer.  You must only have this much salt (sodium in processed foods is not the same as the use of sea salt in your own home)…oh wait, now you can have more sodium.  This is the perfect number for blood pressure.  That number was recently changed.  Brown eggs are better.  Wait, brown eggs are the same as white eggs, people.  Eggs are bad.  Eggs are good!  We are constantly at the mercy of USDA food pyramids, the medical community, and research put out by whoever will benefit.  Our government and large companies are paid ridiculously large sums in order to keep us a consumer, keep us in fear of not being healthy, fear of this ailment or that. (They will have a medicine for you though.) Enough relying on everyone else telling us what to do.  No wonder Americans are so stressed about everything!

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Does that food make you feel good?  Was it locally produced?  Did you produce it?  We can trust ourselves to see what is causing harm to our environment, what foods are healthy for us, what our bodies should feel like and function like.  We can grow our own food, we can milk our own goats, we can make our own medicine.  We can have a second glass of wine!

We can make our own statements.

 

Seconds Please! (planting fall crops)

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I know, I know, I am two weeks late (and a dollar short!).  I have fallen so far behind it may actually be last summer now!  If we want fresh veggies in the fall, I best get out there and plant them.  Plus it irritates me to see blank spaces in my garden.  If something has quit producing it needs a replacement, for we are very hungry in this house!  And I am having fun showing off my vegetables at markets.

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One thing I am curious about is how the early spring crops will do in the fall.  As you can see, post heat waves, rain storms, and flea beetles, the cabbage and cauliflower have seen brighter days.  They certainly don’t look like the beautiful picture on the seed packet!  I wonder if they will fare better starting now and ending in the coolness of fall.   Only time will tell.  To be honest, every year prior to this one, I have forgotten to plant fall crops.  This will be my first go at it.

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I weeded the areas that were without plants.  Then I added a good slathering of compost.  My compost never looks like the pictures of black gold.  Mine has chunks of corn cobs and the occasional egg shell.  Mine is lumpy.  Mine smells so good I could take a taste (though I probably shouldn’t), so I know it is done.  It smells so heady with summer and growth I could keel over with joy.  Okay, I am getting out of hand.  Sprinkle the compost on the planting area generously and rake or hoe it in.

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A good watering is in order now.  Best to do it before the seeds are put in.  If you plant in the dry soil then water afterwards you risk washing away your precious seeds and that is sad.

I was in a whimsical mood, apparently, for I planted the cauliflower a foot apart for three rows then made tick tack toe lines between them and planted radishes.  A lovely checkerboard patter may ensue.  I did that with other veggies too.  I planted more cabbage, and lettuce.  I planted three areas with spinach.  I think I got carried away.  Doug asked if I planted more kale.  Whoops.  I was having too much fun planting spinach, as ours in the spring came up and promptly bolted!  More herbs went in and some Brussels sprouts.  We’ll see what all comes up and if it likes the hotter turning to cooler days.

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It seems like this will work better.  Lots of heat and sunshine to germinate, rain, and then cooler temperatures as it tries to mature into edible delicacies.

I will now thumb my nose at the flea beetles, do the rain dance, and wait for the next crop to come up like a kid on Christmas eve.

Is it up yet?

Homesteading Freedom

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Everything costs something; either time or money.  Everything will require something as its payment.  We used to have a cleaning lady, nice cars, enjoyed expensive restaurants, took the kids on cruises.  We worked hard for the money and spent it on what we deemed the good life.  But it was a farce.  It was an illusion of freedom.  Behind cubicle walls and by his phone strapped to his belt, Doug was actually a prisoner.  I, too, even though I owned my own business and raised my own children, was stuck in the “gotta make more money” and “need more time” trap that so many moms feel these days.

Emily, Shyanne, and Peep
Emily, Shyanne, and Peep

I remember clearly a conversation that my friends and I were having at dinner one night when we talked about organic, vegetarian food compared to quick, processed food.  They were arguing with me that theirs was far cheaper.  I said, “A bag of organic beans is less than two dollars!”  “But you have to spend more time making everything.  We don’t have time.  You have to spend more time to save money.”

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Doug and I are working ridiculous amounts of hours right now.  We are putting up money and goods for the winter like little squirrels….exhausted ones!  But we know the trade off.  One always has to work.  What will you work for?  I want to work on preparing and storing my own food, making what clothing I can, selling excess to help pay bills, creating and selling herbal medicines to support us on our own time.  We heal people, we are as self sufficient as we can be at this moment, we work hard, but we fall into bed satisfied each evening.  We are much happier than we ever were when our tax returns said we were living a good life.  We know that we traded money for time.  Time spent doing things we want to do and creating a life that is more satisfying to us than our run-around city life.

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We try to walk softer on the earth.  Not use so many resources.  Pollute less.  Use less electricity.  Buy less stuff.  Stay home more and enjoy each other and our animals.  We have created a life no one expected us to have.  Don’t wait.  Don’t do the five year plan….the “when I retire”….”the when I get land”….the “when I get married”…the “when the kids move out”…just do it.  If you want to live simply.  If you want to take that leap of faith to become a homesteader, do it now. Life goes faster than anyone wants to admit, and the peace of living as a homesteader far outweighs any fears.  Homesteading is freedom.

Farm Fresh Food

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I wanted to be a vegetarian when I was six and first found out where meat came from, but it seemed that there was no such thing as vegetarianism in my family.  I read a teen magazine at the age of twelve that indicated that there was such a thing as vegetarianism.  I was so excited.  I ran up and told my mother!  She wasn’t thrilled and I think she thought it was a phase.  That was twenty-seven years ago.  It’s not that I think it is evil (though I think factory farms are), I just can’t eat meat.  The consistency and smell and origin holds no appeal to me.  Doug went vegetarian about eight years ago for health reasons and then for compassion reasons.  We started reading books.  We became Raw Foodies for a very tumultuous year (cold food 24 hours a day anyone?).  We watched Food Inc.  We instantly became vegans.  Doug lost much needed weight and we were full of energy.  We were vegan for three years until recently when we gleefully fell off the wagon and into baked brie.

The way we are eating now feels right but we need more vegetables (come on summer!).  We likely eat too much fish and our mercury levels are probably causing us to glow.  Our cholesterol may not be so hot either.  Plants bring down cholesterol.  We are comfortably pescetarian.  We just don’t have any desire to eat our chickens.  Though if people are going to eat meat, doesn’t  it make sense to snub factory farms and their cruelty and unhealthy meat?  A chicken with his head cut off in two seconds flat and supports a local farmer makes a whole lot more sense to me than the stash of unknown meat from the grocery store.  A cow roaming happily about a pasture of green grass and doesn’t know what hit him when he becomes a side of beef is a lot nicer than the feed lots of horror.

There are so many factors for people to decide from each day.  Is a pesticide filled salad better than a factory farmed McDonald’s hamburger?  Probably.  Is an organic salad better than a pesticide filled one?  Absolutely.  Is whole grain bread better than white?  Yes.  Are organic whole grains better than non-organic, possibly genetically modified wheat?  Sure thing.  Would my cousin argue that grains are toxic and meat and vegetables are the only way to go?  Yes.

Wouldn’t our farming forefathers give us a look of absolute pity and awe at our wild confusion?

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Eat from a farm.  One that doesn’t grow GMO’s.  Where the ground was fed with manure and scraps from the farm (a full circle).  Where the animals eat grass and the chickens eat grasshoppers, where the seeds are watered and grow up to be nutritious vegetables.  Where fruit is luscious and sweet, and not trucked from Peru.  Where eggs are warm from the coop and the milk is rich and sweet and raw from the goat or cow.  Where one can recognize each and every ingredient.  Corn.  Butter.  Eggs.  Cheese.  Lettuce.  Buckwheat.  Tomato.  Basil.

Part of the reason we started using Nancy’s goat’s milk and cheese was because I started reading ingredients.  What the heck are natural flavors?  From what?  Worms?  Bark?  Rum?  How do you make soy lecithin?  I haven’t seen a recipe for this.  I don’t want any more lab created ingredients.  No more boxes in my house.

Organic if possible.  Tons of vegetables and fruits, preferably from my garden, or my friend’s, the farmer’s market, or if all else fails, the health food store.  Eggs from my coop.  Milk from the goats down the street.  Cheese and butter made by me.  Bread made from grains that I ground, preferably grown locally, and baked into four ingredient loaves of steaming hot goodness.  Corn that is actually corn.  The kind great-great grandma used to eat.

This is a “diet” I can stand behind.  Real food all the time!  Food that nourishes us.  Food that supports the community.

This year Nancy and I start out on a new venture.  Growing for market.  I hope you will support your farmers this year.  Support those that don’t use pesticides and that have dirt on their hands.  Support the right to eat real food.  The government will be happy to subsidize fake food for you but if we will open our eyes and see the environmental and physical damage we are causing and start eating real food from the ground, from a farm, from our neighbor imagine the difference that would make.

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(All artwork is from Victory Garden of Tomorrow by Joe Wirthheim. http://victorygardenoftomorrow.com/growfood2.html I have his posters hanging in my dining room as a visual inspiration.  I love them!)

Bored, Boards, and Gourmet Popcorn (with wine!)

This weekend we fell off the homesteading wagon.  It was fun, I won’t lie, but not very sustainable or good for the bank account!  I know we need to live a little but it got ridiculous.  We were getting bored around here, being winter and all, and no wood stove to curl up in front of, and kids and friends running through the house, so we went out.  I guess the problem for us is we go out and stay out!  Friday night we went to a four star restaurant and ended up at a cigar bar.  It was fabulous.  Saturday night a surprise birthday party and dinner across the state.  Sunday started at a coffee shop then we started reminiscing about our old Chinese restaurant we hadn’t been to in years and next thing we know, we’re out eating egg rolls.  We made a weak attempt at leftovers yesterday and ended up at Subway.  I don’t even like Subway!

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So, now about two bills short in the bank account and a new week ahead, I need to get back to the homesteading mentality!  I am desperately trying to save up for a homestead.  I want one that I can buy outright.  My entire being wants a homestead.  I start to lose hope but then keep dreaming again.  When we get to said imaginary homestead, we won’t have a full blown business like we do here and will have to pinch pennies in every way which I have been training myself to do.  I am learning to make everything we need.  So perhaps my winter evenings and weekends will be filled with a spinning wheel by the fire, the gentle hum of creating yarn.  Or sewing some clothing articles.  Or preparing a pot of soup.  Or making candles and soap.  Taking care of farm animals.  Right now it only takes two minutes to check on the chickens and I am done with my “farm” chores.

Game nights are a great way to keep your bootie on the homestead and it doesn’t cost a thing to have hours of raucous laughter and competitiveness.  Scrabble, Rummie, Chess, Balderdash, and Scattergories all wait in hopes of being played.  I need to do this more.  Doug and I alone can play a few games.  Friends can be invited over for a mad game of something or other.  Even the kids might want to play.  All alone?  Solitaire.

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What to serve?  Popcorn of course.  I do not mean microwave popcorn or crappy popcorn from Walmart.  I am meaning real kernels that came off of a real ear of corn.  A bag of organic popcorn kernels are less than three dollars at the health food store and provide lots of nights of popcorn. (Organic is important so that we don’t consume genetically modified corn.)  Now, here is where the culinary diva comes out of me.  Jazzing up popcorn so it becomes a meal.  It can be a meal, you know, corn is considered a grain and a vegetable and is high in lutein and many vitamins and minerals.  And our other food group, wine, is amazing with great popcorn.

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In order to achieve gourmet popcorn we need infused olive oils. I get mine from the Olive Tap ( http://theolivetap.com )because of the all the intense, yummy flavors that are ready at my fingertips in the cupboard.  I love the Porcini oil, or the Tuscan Herb, or who doesn’t love Truffle oil?  There is Orange oil, Sesame, Chipotle…and the list goes on.

You can also make your own.  Simply put 1 part herbs to 3 parts olive oil in a sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until fragrant.  Swirl the pan often to keep the oil from burning.

Add a clove of minced garlic, 1 ts of basil, 1 ts of oregano, and a pinch of cayenne.  Or 2 Tb of rosemary, a pinch of thyme, and sesame seeds.  The combinations are endless and the result is spectacular.  Infused oils take the ordinary homestead meal to a five start restaurant while not breaking the bank!

popcorn bowl

Now for the popcorn combinations:

Truffle oil and parmesan with a touch of salt and a glass of Chardonnay

Garlic and Herb oil with sea salt and Pinot Noir

Sprinkle garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast (health food stores, tastes like cheese, high in B12), a pinch of chipotle and drizzle with plain olive oil and salt.  Cabernet Sauvignon can stand up to this one!

Sprinkle basil, parmesan, smoked sea salt, and garlic powder onto popcorn then drizzle olive oil over it.  Try a Pinot Grigio with this one or even a great red blend.

The combinations are endless, the results delicious!  The price….saving up for a homestead cheap.