Thursday, January 27, 2005

In the comments below, Liza said she's afraid to read the book I'm blogging so much about lately. I started a response in the comments, but then as I was beginning the fourth paragraph I remembered Valerie's advice, so I've cut my reply out of the comments and popped it in here.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Oh, Liza, I hope I don't scare you off from it. As I mentioned earlier, the reason I started out doing the soaking grains thing is because we were already making those recipes, so all I had to do to put her principles into effect was to do part of it ahead of time.

It's the same thing with stocks. I already make lots of soups and I usually use chicken or beef bouillion cubes to flavor it, so this was just a matter of making a soup for the purpose of flavoring other soups.

There are so many ideas that if you did decide to get the book, you could just pick one or two areas that would be fairly easy to work on, given your lifestlye and your family's tastes.

One thing I tried but gave up on was coconut milk. I love coconuts and buy them regularly, so I thought I’d try the book’s idea for homemade coconut milk, but it’s so complicated. You have to take two fresh coconuts, drain out the water, then roast them in a 350° oven until they crack. Then you cut them open and cut out all the meat, put it into the food processor with a little water, grind it up, strain it, and voila! Coconut milk. You have to use it up within two days. By the time I got to the cutting out all the meat stage I had given up. This is one item that can be bought canned, if you can find an additive-free version in the Asian-foods section of your grocery store. The store I buy our milk from has a relatively additive-free version that I love, so I’m sticking with that!

When I catch myself reading the book like it’s a novel, trying to read the whole thing from beginning to end, I am easily overwhelmed by the amount of information! That’s why I’ve been mostly dipping into it here and there, and trying to find ways that I can modify what I’m already doing in order to make it healthier. There’s also a helpful list near the end of the book, “Limited-time limited-budget guidelines.”
Thankful Thursday
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 30:4)

1. The sound of a gentle rain and birds singing when I woke up this morning.
2. Coconut milk!
3. Pastors who are faithful to God's Word

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

In praise of slow food
or, Health food doesn't have to be costly

Elai and Mosey hold the four corners of a square of cheesecloth over a glass bowl while I spoon the horrid-looking contents of my stockpot onto the square. It's an awkward operation and one of the girls slips and nearly drops her corner. "Be careful!" I shriek. "It took me three days to make this!"

We finally get it all done and by the end of the day every last drop of the stock has dripped into the bowl, so I put it into the fridge to set up overnight. In the morning, I skim off the fat then pour the resultant dark, slightly gelled liquid into a mason jar and label it:

Chicken demi-glace
use sparingly
18 January

There's only a pint of it, but I've used it, a tablespoonful or two at a time, in several dishes since then, and lemme tell you, it's potent.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Saturday night, we had roast duckling for supper and I saved the carcass to make stock out of as well - cooked it in my stockpot along with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, fresh parsley, fresh thyme (homegrown!) and a bit of wine, and strained it out Tuesday morning. This time I rigged up a sturdy strainer: a cheescloth-lined colander placed over a large mixing bowl.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Until I read about it in Nourishing Traditions I hadn't realized that there is a difference between stock and broth, and the difference is that stock uses bones. Now the funny thing about this, in an embarrassing sort of way, is that just a couple of months ago someone mentioned that jello is a good "high protein" food used in hospitals for patients who are having trouble digesting anything. Being a sometimes follower of the Protein Power diet, and knowing that gelatin only contains two amino acids, I poo-poohed the idea. So here I am officially acknowledging that I was mistaken... sorta.

Gelatin, which comes from bones, is not at all high in protein, but it acts as a protein sparer, which means that it helps your body use what protein you do take in more efficiently. So that's one point in favor of making stock once a week or so and using it as much as possible in your cooking - adding it to soups and seasoning veggies with it.

Another point is that when you make your stock, if you add a bit of wine or vinegar to it the minerals will be drawn out of the bones, making it richer in minerals than broths are.

Mrs. Fallon recommends making stock on a regular basis so you always have plenty on hand. It's not expensive at all - a whole chicken, cut up, is a lot cheaper than skinless boneless breasts and you have the bones left over anyway, so you might as well make something yummy out of them. Last week I got a package of marrow bones from the commissary for 14 cents a pound! And it really doesn’t take much time to do - you just have to plan way ahead!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

They're even dumbing down skillets nowadays
It's gotten to where one pan of cornbread isn't enough to satisfy my family, so last time I was at the stuff mart I meant to buy a new 8" iron skillet. The ones labeled eight inches were tiny - but they were 8" when measured across the top outside edges.

Monday, January 24, 2005

So I'm making a nice long post about cool cooking stuff and Blogger eats half the post. :-( I don't have the heart to go back and rewrite it just now, but I do want to point out a bit of bad info from this post (and bad writing, too! What was wrong with me?).

In that post talking about making porridge, I said to use yogurt or milk - I should have said buttermilk. The point is to use something with active Lactobacillus cultures so you get the benefits of lacto-fermentation. Also, you have to keep the oats at room temperature so the cultures can work. Don't worry about it spoiling - the cultures keep that from happening. Another thing is to use old fashioned oats rather than the "quick" variety. I'm not sure why this is, the book just says to do it. ;-)

Nourishing Traditions has a section called "Mastering the Basics" that covers all the techniques Mrs. Fallon advocates and provides plenty of recipes, too. The first part of this section is on making your own cultured milk products, but since I don't have access to unhomogenized milk, I'm not able to do most of the things in that section, so I am continuing to buy my buttermilk and sour cream. I have been making my own yogurt from organic whole milk for a year or so, so of course I'm continuing to do that.

What I really wanted was to find something that I could do with equipment and supplies I already own, and with foods we already eat. Don't you just hate it when you try to start a new diet and it requires you to make and eat things you've never even heard of before? That's why I skipped over most of the book and went to the section on grains and legumes. We were already having oatmeal for breakfast most days, and all I had to do was to remember to soak it the night before. I used to buy the quick-cooking variety, so I finished up what we had and started buying the old fashioned kind instead.

That was an easy change to make, and so was learning to "sponge" the bread - to mix the whole wheat flour with buttermilk the night before I meant to cook it. I already had a bread machine and I had been making bread once or twice a week for awhile, so it was easy to change to the more nutritious way of preparing it. The hard part is remembering to do it ahead of time! Now the exciting part is that I've been looking for a recipe that makes good sandwich bread for years and I finally found it! You know what? Again, it's not so much the ingredients, as it's the technique. To make a good, hearty bread that can stand up to a knife-full of peanut butter, you just let the bread rise and punch it down and let it rise again several times. This makes a heavier-textured bread.

So the basic sandwich bread recipe uses your favorite whole wheat recipe, just start it in the evening - while you're cleaning up from supper, or before you go to bed. Put the liquid ingredients (you have to make sure that at least part of it contains active milk cultures - I use all buttermilk) plus the oil if your recipe calls for it, and the whole wheat flour into the machine and turn it on to the dough setting. When it's done, you can either leave it in the machine, or put it into a bowl and cover it with a towel, and let it rest overnight. First thing in the morning, add all the rest of the ingredients and turn it on to the dough setting again. My doughball is usually so stiff that I have to tear it into golfball size pieces and add it back into the machine that way to make mixing easier. Run it through the dough setting at least two times before you either set it on the basic bread cycle and let the machine bake it, or shape it into loaves and place it into your own pans to bake in the oven.

Of course, you don't have to have a bread machine to do any of this, it just makes the job a little easier if you do. :-)

I hope all of that makes sense - I feel so random tonight!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

I am majorly rearranging my blogroll to better reflect the time I have online nowadays, so Bill and Toni almost got knocked down to the Smorgasbord list since they never ever post any more. Well, never except for last Sunday!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Against Nutritionity
I'm getting such a kick out of reading and learning from Nourishing Traditions that I'll probably be posting interesting tidbits here, so this post is by way of being a disclaimer. While I do believe that we should be good stewards of everything God has given us, and that one of my primary jobs as a housewife is to look after my family's health, nutrition is not a religion and it is not an end unto itself. I love butter and never use margarine, but I do not "recognize the Divinity in the life-giving qualities of the butter made in June when the cows have arrived for pasturage near the glaciers." Yes, that's a quote from the book - Mrs. Fallon is quoting another book, but there it is.

So, later on, when I'm obsessing about something or other, I hope y'all will remember that I do not think that healthiness is next to godliness, nor do I think that people who don't have the same ideas about food that I have are bad Christians.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 30:4)

1. Yesterday I spent the morning cooking, the afternoon running errands, and the evening at Bible Study, and though I was physically tired, I was not exhausted. This is such a huge improvement over where I was just a few months ago when any one of these activities would have laid me up for the rest of the week that I'm so thankful to the Lord for growing good health, and especially for y'all's prayers!

2. Mike has been driving my van all week because his is having problems with the transmission, but this has caused me to be so glad that we have two vehicles. Even though I'm such a homebody and don't get out if I can help it, it really is a blessing to have my own van that I can jump into and take care of things without the intricate planning needed when we only have one.

3. Last, but certainly not least, I'm extremely thankful for sausage and eggs - fast breakfast food for mornings when I forgot to start the porridge before I went to bed the night before... like this morning!
Being a Better Blogger
or Taking Valerie’s Advice

In the comments to the previous post the question was raised as to whether I would enlighten my dear readers with regard to the outcome of my little devotional talk at last night’s MOPS meeting. Since one dear lady came to me afterward and told me it was just what she needed to hear, I will take that as a sign that at least one person received a blessing from the Lord and will share with you what I said. Otherwise I’d’ve just ignored Valerie’s question. ;-)

The overall theme of Mothers of Preschoolers this year is the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - and I was asked to speak on gentleness. The first thing I wanted to make clear was that the fruit of the Spirit is not about personality or temperament traits. In real life, I come across as a fairly mild, phlegmatic person, and people regularly say to me that I seem so peaceful and patient and so forth, but the fact that God put me together in such a way that I tend to express myself quietly does not mean that I don’t need the fruit of the Spirit just as much as the next mom does.

I have read that gentleness is strength under control. Now, I have a beautiful piano that was given to me, and it’s huge. It’s a one hundred year old upright and must weigh more than five hundred pounds. When we moved, it took four big burly guys to get that piano loaded onto the moving truck, and they did it gently, which doesn’t mean that they touched it lightly and gingerly so as not to hurt it. Gentleness is not weakness or wimpiness, and it took a lot of muscle to get that job done.

A tamed horse is often used as a picture of gentleness. In fact, we say that a horse has been gentled when it has been tamed and its strength has been brought under the control of its master. In this same way, our Master gentles us by teaching us to yield to him - to yield to him in both his sovereign limits on us, and in his sovereign provision for our lives in all of our circumstances.

I have a special needs child who often requires a lot of patience on my part, but if I'm truly yielded to the sovereign Lord from whom all good and perfect gifts come, I'll remember that this little boy is my heavenly father's good gift to me, and I'll treat him in a way that demonstrates my thankful submission to the Lord, that is, I'll treat him with gentleness. So the grace to yield to God's will, meaning that the Holy Spirit is growing the fruit of gentleness in my life, reveals itself as gentle behavior toward others.

As we've been studying the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit this year, one thing that has caught my attention is the fact that these are not fruits that are independent of one another - they are all connected. They're all part of the same fruit. Treating a person with gentleness means that you are patient and kind to them, that you are resting peacefully in God's sovereignty, and all of that is joyfully done through love, faithfulness and self-control.

One of my favorite Psalms, the 37th, demonstrates this interconnectedness of the fruit of the Spirit. "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity." See, it's talking about yielding to the sovereignty of God. "Delight thyself also in the LORD... Commit thy way unto the LORD... Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself... Cease from anger, and forsake wrath... the meek [that is, the gentle] shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."

When we are truly yielded to our heavenly father, he brings us that peace that passes understanding.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Why do I do this to myself?
Last night the MOPS leader called and asked if I'd do a devotion on Gentleness. I said, "Sure!" Now, if she'd asked me at the meeting to say something about this fruit of the Spirit, I'd've stood up and talked for five minutes and then sat down. No problem. But since she asked me last night, I've worried about it since then and I have butterflies in my tummy right now just thinking about it, and tonight I'll probably blush and stutter.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Making chile chili
(This post describing tonight's supper, is affectionately dedicated to Maisy, who thinks Abstract Sequentials are all about following rules.)

Brown two or three pounds of ground beef in a heavy skillet, with a little olive oil if the beef is extra lean. Chop up two large onions and add them to the skillet. Meanwhile into a large stockpot, dump four extra large cans of tomatoes, chopped up. Be sure to rinse out each can with a little water so you can put all the juice into the chili.

Continue stirring beef and onions, and begin adding spices to the stockpot. Start off with about half a cup of chili powder, a couple tablespoons of comino, and several shakes of black pepper, plus several cloves of freshly crushed garlic if you have them, or a couple of tablespoons of garlic powder if you don't.

Open a can of Guinness beer that's left over from the six-pack DH bought you two years ago to help your milk come in. Sniff it gingerly, take a sip, and remember why there's still so much beer left from that six-pack. Pour half of the can into the chili and the other half into a tall glass.

Add fully browned beef and onions to the stockpot, stirring well. Add four regular size cans of black beans, or whatever your favorite chili beans are. Kidneys and pintos work really well, but black beans are my favorite. Taste the chili and add salt till it's right. Cover and let simmer for half an hour or so, then taste again and add more chili powder and beer.

Take another sip of the beer in the glass, and remind yourself that lots of things are acquired tastes, and this is most certainly one of them. Offer the glass to hubby, and when he takes a drink or two and agrees that, yes, beer is definitely an acquired taste, tell him just to pour the rest of it into the chili if he doesn't want to drink it.

After he pours it in, stir it up, cover and let simmer again for awhile to allow the flavors to mingle properly, then half an hour or so later, taste the chili once more. If it's just not strong enough, try adding some more garlic to it. If the flavor is a bit sharp and needs to be better rounded out, add more comino. If you want more of a kick you can add either some black pepper or some cayenne, or you could chop up some jalapenos and put them in.

Now, turn your oven on to 375, put a stick of butter into an 8" iron skillet, and stick it in the oven. Put two cups of Aunt Jemima corn meal mix into a mixing bowl. Pour two cups of buttermilk into a 4-cup measuring cup, and add two eggs. Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together and pour into the mixing bowl, and whisk well. Let the cornbread mixture stand while the butter in the skillet is melting, as this will make the cornbread rise better.

Taste the chili again to be sure it's coming along fine.

When the butter is melted and sizzling hot, take the skillet out of the oven and pour the cornbread mix into it, and put it straight back into the oven. When the conrnbread is golden brown on top, the chili will be done and you can ring the dinner bell.

That's good eatin, I gair-ohn-TEE-it!
Well lo and behold!
My hubby done gone and got hisself a blog!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Inverse Applications
My daddy's motto was "The early worm gets birded." I guess I take after him, 'cause for me, the Nany Rule applies before noon, instead of after 10:30pm, and knowing this about myself, I usually do my weekly thankful list on Wednesday night, so when I get up on Thursday morning, all I have to do is post it, but unfortunately I forgot to do it last night, and now I can't remember what it is I'm thankful for today! Oh! I remember something - I'm thankful for the dear friends Mike and I got to chat with last night Valerie and Pentamom and Bret. I'm thankful for the chocolate kisses Mike gave me when I got a craving last night, and I'm thankful for the baby kisses Lilian woke me up with this morning.

There. I just needed to get the words flowing. :-D

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Oh, I'm so tired...but it's the good kind of tired. I did the main bathroom today, which I figured would be the easiest room to do. There wasn't much to get rid of, but I took everything out of all the drawers and shelves and washed everything - drawers, shelves, and stuff - put in new shelf paper, then rearranged it all to make it work better. For Christmas, Mike gave me and the two oldest girls each a beautiful wire and bead basket, so I put all our special bath stuff into our own baskets. I already had several rectangular plastic baskets to help keep the stuff corralled, but you know how it is - people don't put things back where they belong and eventually you wind up with two or three empty baskets nested under the other ones, and lots of loose things making a big mess.

It's so nice in there now!
Just now I was checking my referrer logs and noticed a Google search hit. I'm so sorry I failed actually to solve this riddle before the visitor came, but I shall now. It is pronounced /CAT-tee-WHOMP-us/. Actually, in a case like this, my Ts usually come out sounding like Ds.

Update: It doesn't really count since the word "cattywhampus" isn't in the official dictionary. So close... yet so far away...
January is dejunking month at our house
I learned this tradition from Margaret in Virginia, and it's a great way to stave off the winter blues. This year, we began our official dejunking season on December 26 - Boxing Day. There is an orphanage in Mexico that is a mission of our church, and one of our men goes down there about every other month to take supplies and money, and to help with whatever needs to be done, so on the afternoon of Christmas, we packed up some canned goods as well as outgrown clothes and toys that were still in good condition and took them to church with us the next day. The rest of this month I'll be going through our house and packing up the best things that we don't need anymore for the orphanage. The rest of the clutter will go either to the trash or the local thrift store, depending upon which destination is most fitting.

Monday, January 10, 2005

This is a terrible oversight!
I haven't posted a quiz yet this year and I simply must remedy the situation at once! (I wonder if Richard will come over here and count my exclamation marks!)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

What Style of Thinker Are You?

You are an Abstract Sequential thinker. You are
Analytical, Thorough, Structured, Deliberate,
Objective, Knowledgeable, Logical, and

What you do best is: Gather data before making
decisions, Analyzing ideas, Researching,
Providing logical sequence, Using facts to
support theories, Completing jobs thoroughly.

You do not do well when trying to: Deal with a
subject quickly, Repeat the same tasks, Follow
lots of specific rules, Listen to Sentimental
thinking, Express emotion, Not monopolize a
conversation about a subject that interests

You prosper with: Using well-researched data,
Learning more by watching than doing, Using
logical reasoning, Having a teacher who is an
expert on a subject, Working through an issue
thoroughly, Appreciation for your input, and
Plenty of time to work.

What style of thinking are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Many thanks to Summer for posting this fun quiz!)

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Carmon's book meme
(Because I don't have time to make a decent post!)

Here’s how it works. Copy the list, then remove from it the names of any authors not in your home library, replacing them with names of authors you have. Boldface the ones you’ve added.

1. St. Augustine
2. Elizabeth Goudge
3. John Buchan
4. Doug Wilson
5. Sir Walter Scott
6. Rosemary Sutcliff
7. Christopher Dawson
8. Susan Hunt
9. P.G. Wodehouse
10. William Shakespeare

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Tomorrow is Baby Princess's second birthday!