Relationships with food & beyond

I have been on a food journey since about mid February.  Haven’t said much about it on here, mostly because I am busy keeping up with it!  But I think I am settling in to a new normal, and my family is joining me for the most part, for a variety of reasons.

So I do not want to get on a soap box and preach because quite honestly everyone is at a different place in their life in a multitude of ways.  Ages of kids, busyness outside of the home, new foster kids, and so many other things.  I am not sure I would have ever braved this new land if I had toddlers at home, or if I recently have 3 kids dropped in my lap with a plethora of issues.  I am quite busy outside the home, but even that has settled a bit.

So here I am.  And I feel like we have redirected our eating lives forever.

Are you ever sorry when you learn something?  Like once you know it, it changes you?  You cannot go back to blissfully ignorant. It may not take over your thoughts but it is forever niggling in the back of your mind, cautioning your choices no matter what.

That is where we are.  We started Whole30 on April 27th.  I had been mostly whole30 for 7 weeks before that, but I did have some butter, and some stevia. {and a blissfully fun trip to Michigan with two Triple D’s along the way! and amazing food in Michigan}  But on April 27th we went all in, we joined the Whole30 world and it will change us forever.  We got the books – and we HIGHLY suggest you get & read the books BEFORE you start!  If you just use the internet you will never fully understand why you are doing what you are doing – and you will quit.  The books will help coach you through the days you want to kill the people around you, or rob a donutshop on your way to work.  Trust me, read the books!!

starts with food

w30book1 I’ll go into why I love Whole30 another day, but today I wanted to share our Sour Kraut adventure!!  One of the parts of being healthy on any program, plan, lifestyle is incorporating Fermented Foods!!  They are SO good for our gut, healing!

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Your intestines are so vital to good health and fermented foods help nourish your intestines!!

Here is another pic for you I LOVE:

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I really believe that!

So when I came home with a case of green cabbage, I knew I was going to attempt Sour Kraut again!  I tried some in Maine last summer, brought it all the way home and then threw it away.  It scared me.  And now I wish I had just tried it.  Oh well.

About 7 weeks ago I tried again.  Read tons of posts about sour kraut and how to make it and I did.  I put it in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, put a ziplock bag of water on top to keep out air and put it in the back of my pantry.  I took it out two days ago.  It looks gorgeous, no mold or anything suspicious.  But I still had to call my friend to ask if we could eat it.  After waiting a day, we tried it, the kids and I all gobbled it up – and we LOVED it!!  Got me so excited!!

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It was just cabbage, some carrots, a little radish and salt.  nothing else.  Pretty simple.  But it was tasty and not soggy – crunchy like something fresh.

So, here is what I did this time around.

First I shredded (finely) about 11 heads of cabbage.

Then I got out a HUGE bowl and a Large Stock pot  and put my cabbage in those to things.  Then in one I just added salt.

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Simple recipe – nothing added.  The next batch I added lime juice, a jalapeño with seeds, a head of garlic, and some poblano peppers which I threw in the ninja and finely chopped.

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I added all this to the other batch with lots of salt too and mixed.  Left it on the counter about 4 hours, mixing often to get the salt to get the juice out of the cabbage.

Then I sterilized my jars in the oven.

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Finally, I packed my jars, pressing down firmly – and once they were full, I left space a thte top to put a sandwich bag with water (about 1/2 cup) to be my seal.  I put the bag in and press all the air out and put a mason jar lid with ring on and close.

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Then I put it in a dark spot (back of pantry cabinet) and leave it.  I will check in 3 days to make sure it is bubbly, and not leaking too much, and no air inside.
Air is the enemy – it will grow mold.  If that happens you just scoop it out – it will not go deeper.

This morning I shredded up another 10 heads of cabbage, and included a head of red/purple cabbage.

I mixed in just a bit of red cabbage to make it look a little more colorful.

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Then I will mix in some lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and ginger to make a citrus ginger sour kraut batch.

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Two other batches are just garlic and one has carrots and one has red pepper slivers.  Pretty simple but should taste good and be GREAT for our guts!!

All 3 batches will set on my kitchen counter for about 4 hours, break down a bit and the cabbage will release a bunch of liquid to make the brine.  The salt is really the one thing you NEED to add, the rest is just for fun, color or flavor.  I will mix them every time I think about it – about 30 minute increments.

After that I will again put it into 1/2 gallon mason jars with the ziplock baggie of water on the top.  And hide them in a dark cabinet for about 6 weeks.

When I take all this yummy goodness out in 6 weeks I plan to can it in pint jars in a hot water bath.  10 minutes in boiling water will seal all the jars and then this concoction will be good for far longer than it will take us to eat it!  I cannot wait!!

Now, go get some cabbage and start your own!!  Let me know if you try some great new variation or flavor!!

My ultimate goal of all of this : whole30, Paleo, Sour kraut – is to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want to decide what I want to eat and then eat it – not be driven by cravings or emotional needs.  So here I continue on this journey of enjoying great food, but not letting it control me!!

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Rocks will cry out

Recently someone suggested that we should hold in what God is doing in our lives so that he can work it deeper, and in order for the rocks to cry out.

I have been thinking about this suggestion for a few days now, and as God has been working very actively in my life I cannot help but share what he has been doing!!

           He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

First, in Luke 19:40 Jesus is telling  the Pharisee’s that if his followers did not proclaim his good works, the rocks would cry out.  This is during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem commonly known as Psalm Sunday.

So as the person suggested that we should hold in what is happening so that the rocks will cry out, I just think that is not the point.  We are to proclaim what God is doing, if we don’t someone will.  When we share what God is doing in our lives we can hope that is inspires or encourages someone else!

So recently when I was contacted by our extension office asking if my boys were last minute sellers of raffle tickets I thought it a bit strange.  However, it turns out that my youngest son was the seller of the winning raffle ticket and this sweet lady wanted to give him something.  So after a few emails, a few phone calls and a short wait Carolyn arrived at my house and told us what a blessing the prize was for her, a $8000 four-wheeler.  She is older and loves on 16 acres and uses it daily.  So great to hear a story like that!  What makes it even sweeter is that she then handed him a brand new $100 bill!

That morning my husband went out to check a wild swarm of bees at the Arboretum.  We had recently taken over the management of the East Texas Arboretum observation beehive.  After cleaning it out in preparation of the new hive we were going to put into it, a wild swarm took up residence.  So Robert excitedly headed out to gather these busy bees to bring home into a hive box here.  And we decided that Eli was the new owner of these bees if they decided to stay.

After getting that crisp $100 he quickly asked if he could order a bee suit with it!  So what an amazing praise!  A gracious thank you for selling the winning ticket, free bees (they are normally between $125 -$150 for a hive), and a new bee suit for a new beekeeper!

God is so good, and honestly this is just one of the many stories I could share about how he is watching over us and blessing us!  I love that!

So, personally I am not going to hold onto what God is doing and hide it – I am going to cry out and share how he is working in our family!!  Those rocks will have to find some where else to cry out, I’m going to do plenty of crying out around here!

Ugh

I think it is interesting how this world is full of messages that contradict everything.  I mean, I live in a very conservative part of this world.  We homeschool, so we are home a lot (ok, well some).  We serve in our community with a local elementary school once a week, food pantry occasionally, at church often.  But you can see, all conservative places.

We attend church regularly.  We listen to podcasts of sermons from a North Carolina a lot.

And I subscribe to several blogs (probably too many) from Paleo recipes to homeschooling.

And yet, I find myself bombarded with contradictory messages.  The one that set me off this morning is “5 Tips to plan the best summer ever.” UGH.

I mean, honestly it is probably a perfectly good blog post, but does every single thing in my life have to be the best ever?  I mean what is wrong with a lazy summer?  Sitting around enjoying the fishing at our pond?  Picking berries from our fences?  Harvesting grapes that grow wild on our road?  Do I really need a plan?  5 steps. Does it have to be the best ever?  And what if spending time together enjoying life instead of running is really the secret to the best?

Maybe I am just in a minimalist season because we are going so fast from beehive maintenance, to garden lessons all while I am trying to lay our the freshman year of high school (homeschooling) for my boys.  Maybe I realize that I don’t have too many summers with all my children under my roof, not to mention one will be gone for 5 weeks this summer (and thus it begins).  So maybe to me down time together = great/perfect/ideal/the best?

Now I am a planner, don’t get me wrong.  I like to have a plan or schedule but aren’t there more important things in life than a list of to-dos for my summer?  I’d love  a few days where we have nothing to do.  No to do list from a big master plan for the summer.  Just days to play.  And I don’t need to plan to play, relax, enjoy the Texas summer (ha ha).

I think we are driving ourselves crazy sometimes.  And today, as I need to can 100lbs of tomatoes, I have decided no plan for this summer.  Just fun.  Well, if you consider a trial run of Biology fun, and math – yeah.  School.  But honestly we love school, and why not knock some school out this summer so we can take breaks when we have perfect Texas weather and not 120 degrees!

So here is my perfect 2 step plan for the best our summer

1. do a little school

2. enjoy my time.

Ahhh.  So much better.

New Year – New Plan

I feel like I have drifted away from my blog – and as a result have less of a journal of our adventures here on the farm.  If it were not for pictures I might not know what happened in 2014.

But its now 2015.  A new year.  So, I am going to switch some gears in my life.  I am aiming to take all that time I waste {lose} on Facebook and spend those precious moments updating my blog about our farm challenges, improvements, school successes (maybe some struggles too) and so on.

Looking back though, 2014 was a good year for our family.  My oldest grew about 12 inches (at least is feels that way).  He is now 1/2 a year from high school – oh my!!  After about 18 months of constant battling, he is seeming to get his head back on straight – and life is returning to some semblance of normal.

My next boy came out of his shell in more ways that one!  He taught every other week in the Children’s Garden at a local elementary school – to about 250 kids.  Those kids love him, and his siblings, and yell his name as they get into their benches anxious hear what he is teaching that day.  He also asked about 15 different businesses to donate to his service project which was landscaping the county Senior Citizen Building.  It was great to watch this boy bloom!

Next boy – my wild child – demonstrated a lack of gluten tolerance this year.  We are still in the phase of detoxing, and we all look forward to him being gluten-free or clean!  It is amazing how gluten is making him unable to cope with life.  But we are getting better every day!!  He is thriving too – setting the varmint trap nighty and jumping up in the morning to check it.  He is always begging to go shooting, or at least wandering around outside – he is certainly the most outdoorsy of my bunch!

AG is thoroughly enjoying her horse, not wanting to work with him all the time, but is still very good with him.  She is learning the amount of work it takes to have a week behaved animal and also how to build a relationship with an animal.  Opie is great with her and I think really loves her – he is more patient with her than any of us!

So the new year is here, we kicked off school this morning and it went much better than it has in a long time.  We are going back into a bit more structure than we have been doing.  After spending a few hours Sunday looking at where we have been and where I want us to go, I am trying to schedule more.  I think that is I schedule more, and keep it simple and clear we will get more done.  Also pulling all the kids together for more group lessons will being more cohesion to our home.

So, I hope to blog more about our garden plans (yes – we actually have a written plan!!), and how that actually works in application.  Also about the animal process, we will be breeding the 5 does we have and hoping for a bunch of babies in September – which will equal GOAT MILK!!  We are hoping to get enough milk for our family to drink, make cheese and yogurt with, and anything else!

So, stayed tuned and hopefully we will enjoy this journey together!!

Happy New Year!!

A small step : (1 of 12) ~ 11 more to come

Have you ever pretended to be serious about something, but were really not serious?  Maybe you did not realize that you were not super serious, until, well, until you got SERIOUS!!

That is my life these days.  We have tried to be serious about our money.  Once upon a time we were debt free.  Then, well, then, life happened, no job, no money, lots of mouths.  Then sold a house (for too little) bought a new house that needs lots of work….

long story…..

and today..well, I am serious about our money.  I have never been this serious before.

Let me share how serious we are….

we pay cash, for almost everything.  We budget every dollar we bring home before we spend any of it.  We do not have cable.  We do not use credit cards – at all.  We do have internet and a phone and are thinking about cutting back the phone – but just thinking right now.

The big indicator of how serious we are is that we made a commitment to not eat out in 2011, unless someone else was paying.  This is a bigger deal than I expected, even though we rarely ate out any more.  But knowing that we cannot changes everything.  But you know what?

so far, WE DID IT!!

We have made it one whole month, without eating out.  1 down – 11 to go!! A step at a time – I have confidence that we can do this!

So, we continue on this journey – our goal is to be debt free again!  And it will happen, or so Robert tells me.   It may take longer than I like, but you know what?  It does not matter.  We will get there.

So Happy February 1st – and thus begins our next month of not eating out!  Woo Hoo!!  It is now becoming a challenge of sorts!