Thursday, October 22, 2009

Casserole Queen

Ever since Simeon was born I have become the casserole queen. Not quite as much in the last few weeks, but without casseroles we may have starved. Now I'm sure we all know newborns are demanding, but I didn't have any idea of how demanding until I got my very own! For the first few months Simeon wanted to eat pretty much all day and usually in the time I used to prepare Daniel and me supper. Suppers prepared well ahead of time was a must. I'm very very fortunate to have a wonderful husband to help me out. I would have eaten mac and cheese for 2 and a half months if it wasn't for him (and everyone that brought us food of course).

The beauty of casseroles is they are great for preparing ahead and having meals for several nights. This is why my family ate so many of them growing up and why I have avoided them until now. If you have time to fix steamed veggies or a salad and an entree of some type every night you don't need the convenience of casseroles. And one day maybe I will prepare more fresh meals but I see far more casseroles in my future. I will try to post more ideas for healthier casseroles as I run across them.

Here are a few little tips for making casseroles "healthier" and tastier:

1. Use whole grain noodles, bread or cracker crumbs, or brown rice depending on the recipe
2. Use cage free eggs and high quality cheese (you are going to be stretching them out with whatever starches or veggies are in the casserole)
3. Don't be afraid to improvise and add some color (veggies): sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, etc.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Hippie Momma

Baby carrying is something I really wanted to do so I bought several different carriers, 2 slings, 1 Maya Wrap, and was given another wrap style front carrier.

I even passed up the infant car seat with the removable carrier in favor of a convertible rear/front facing car seat. I had a feeling I would have a big baby and he might not be in that seat for long. So I spent more on a nicer convertible seat. And I thought, no biggie I'll pop the baby in the sling and head on to the doctor, grocery, etc.

I'm so busy around the house: going to the garden, hanging out clothes, baking bread, etc. So I was depending on being able to pop my baby in the sling and go. Well guess what, babies have their own personalities and mine doesn't like having his head crammed into a sling. The videos make the babies look so comfortable, but mine never seemed too cozy. Plus he was mad everytime I put him in, screamed. The best luck I had was with the wrap style front carrier, but it is a little difficult to put on and he slides down in it. I feel like I need to support him with one hand still.

The more bad baby wearing experiences I had the more depressed I became. I started thinking maybe I should have gotten the infant carrier car seat. And I resigned myself to not being as mobile with my newborn as I wanted to be. Then while looking on a diapering website I ran into this wonderful invention: the Beco Butterfly 2 baby carrier. It seemed comfortable, easy to adjust, very supportive, and cute! So I researched it as well as I could on the net and asked my wonderful husband for one for my birthday (last week). Unfortunately it is expensive. But I'm hoping to sell some of my other carriers and recoup some money. We only used them once, anyone interested?

Well it came today and Simeon and I both love it. Why?
- comfort- he has room to move while being supported and it doesn't kill my back
- ease of use- the easiest to figure out of all my baby carriers
- most of all I wore it for an hour and he didn't scream once! Success!

I'm sure there's plenty of people out there that have had great experiences with other carriers, but every mom and every child is different and has their own needs. Clothesline here I come again!


So I have been absent for awhile due to the birth of this little guy, Simeon Paul Root born August 4, 2009 at 1:32 AM. His stats: 8 lb 1oz, 20.5 in. Having a child was an experience like no other. If I was a great blogger I would have had pictures up already and blogged sooner. But as I'm not great at updating this blog on a good day, the business of the last month got the better of me.

I titled this blog priorities because I definitely have had a shift in mine. Having a child foremost has made me appreciate my own parents more, how I have taken them for granted. And I am quickly learning how to do things very quickly: shower, throw together a breakfast casserole, groom the dog... My free time is much more rare so I have to make the best of it.

The last month has been busy, tiring, emotionally overwhelming, but so wonderful! Some of my pet projects have taken the back burner: knitting, our garden, hanging out our clothes, and even baking. I'm really hoping to pick some of those activities on a more limited basis soon. So maybe on this blog I will be featuring more quick tips than I have before!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden Lessons

So I haven't posted much in the last month about my garden or anything else. I feel like me and my garden have fallen victim to heat stroke! Daniel and I worked hard to set up the garden, start our seeds, and transplant them. But after that everything seemed to stall. We had such of a hot June and our yard seemed to suffer in the heat. As did I, just running an errand in 100 degree weather seemed to steal all my pregnant body's energy reserves. And I guess it's no fun to blog about failures anyway.

So the last few weeks have been a blessing, we have gotten rain and a drop in temperatures. Both of which I am so grateful for. Our yard has greened up and I have felt more energetic the past few weeks than I did in June and early July.

As for our garden I will comment on our successes and failures. It has been a hard year for gardeners, even experienced ones. My grandparents garden has not been nearly as successful as it has been in the past. June weather was not good for gardens. My grandparents had a great corn crop, but everything else was either a complete failure or the yield was far less than it has been in the past. They live out in the country and have too big of a garden to water in times of drought. My Granny and PopPop were disappointed, but told me to not give up because this year was bad. They're already getting their fall tomatoes going.

As for our garden I will list some lessons learned:
1. Get started early or on time, but not late. This was a big mistake for us this year because it got so hot so early.
2. Pick out appropriate plants for your area. The cool weather tomatoes and onion seeds I bought were not such of a bright choice.
3. Plant carefully for your space, the melons (that have produced one melon) are overrunning our side yard, as you see from the pictures.

I planted some garlic last fall and I was really excited when I dug it up a few weeks ago and it had plentifully multiplied. I'm planning on planting some more this fall. It was super easy and successful. I got our seeds from our health food coop because I am interested in growing heirloom variety plants. The seed company the coop carries is Seeds of Change. And I will say I have already ordered a catalog and plan on spending far more time selecting the varieties I plant next year. I don't consider our garden a total failure, as you can see from the pictures our garden is really very pretty, beautiful plants (even without much fruit). Daniel told me to do the research and I'd figure it out like I did with my whole grain bread, I had to bake a lot of bricks before I could bake a good loaf!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

I am so very hot, of course it's no wonder I am 33 weeks pregnant! It's not even officially summer here, but it sure feels like it.

My pampered puppy is not enjoying the heat either. I walked him this morning without my dear husband, who is feeling a bit under the weather. And we had a late start, because I wanted to do a few little projects in the yard while it was cool (like a humid 78 is cool!). And shortly after we started he kept pulling and wanting to go back home. If I didn't know how much we both need exercise I would have given in. Don't worry about my furry friend, he has all day long to recover from our walk while everyone else is working:)

So Daniel says I have been nesting and it is true. I only have a little time left before Simeon is here! Yesterday my parents were so kind to give me a very nice chest of drawers to go in his room. The nursery is a little room so a big dresser was out. I have white furniture in there, which was also given to us. God has really blessed us with good friends and family! So today I changed out hardware, trickier than I thought it would be, cleaned the chest, and now I'm taking inventory of the clothes we have and washing.

As far as new food things, my garden is so slow and I'm so impatient. We have one green tomato, but lots of blooms. Our melon plants are thriving and have lots of blooms also. When they start producing I think we'll have many melons. Speaking of melons I may have to go to the farmers market and buy a watermelon. That sounds very cool.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Gracious Plenty

A Gracious Plenty indeed. I have done a few cookbook reviews on my blog and I'm adding one more to my list.

The link above will take you to Amazon's website where the books is tragically no longer in print, but you can get it used. I would highly recommend buying this book, you need it.

It is a little ironic that I'm blogging about this cookbook now. It is a great resource for many different recipes, but especially great southern vegetable dishes. I have really enjoyed using it to cook simple and delicious okra, tomato, or almost any other southern vegetable. The irony is this year has been so tough for farmers, and my grandparents, the great source of our summer vegetables have had a horrible garden year. I always really appreciate what they send us, as a child I didn't know how blessed we were to receive "groceries" from Granny and PopPop. Now I absolutely cherish them and have tried to carry on the tradition by growing our own. And to think last year I canned tomatoes because we had such of a surplus!

This cookbook is great even if you must go to the farmers market to buy your own vegetables to cook. I cooked a great and super simple okra and sausage recipe that Daniel really liked. That is always the marker for whether a dish is successful or not. I will really eat almost anything, unfortunately I think most of my taste buds are dead. I can taste things, but I don't pick up on subtle notes of bitterness or the like. Plus texture weirdness doesn't bother me. Thankfully Daniel is not picky, but if he doesn't like something I probably won't fix it again. Most everything I have prepared from this cookbook has been a hit. The techniques are fairly simple, the ingredient lists short, and the recipes are fairly healthy. Yes sausage and bacon are used, but I'm not going to get in that debate now. I have several past posts on that subject.

I love that many of the recipes are probably similar to what my great grandparents cooked. One of my favorite PopPop lines is "if you'd come to Hebron 70 years ago talking about a canola (oil) people wouldn't know what you were talking about", this was during one of his favorite stories, rendering a pig. My grandparents grew up doing things very differently than we do now. And I'm certainly not saying all progress is bad, but these recipes are definitely worth preserving. If you can get your hands on one of these cookbooks please do and cherish it like I do!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Getting ready for Simeon

So another non-food blog post here. I finally finished my sweater I have been working on for about 3 weeks. And I also finished my first wrap style diaper cover. I've got to sew the buttons on the diaper cover, after I decide where they should be placed. The sweater seems big and the diaper cover small. I'll have to try the diaper cover with the newborn prefolds I ordered on a tiny baby before I make more. I'm 30 weeks now and I'm feeling more pressure to get things done. I have a feeling the next few months are going to fly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Laundry updates

I know three posts in one day, so I should be good for a month right? I attempted to take a picture of our newly extended clothesline and my soap making supplies.

Truth be known I am not a cheap person. I never have racked up massive debt, but let's put it this way. I have a taste for quality. But since going more natural I wanted a simplified laundry detergent without all the chemical additives. This recipe is 3 ingredients: a bar of laundry soap (zote is my personal choice), borax, and washing soda (not baking). The Zote I buy at Brookshires, and the borax and washing soda come from Kroger. If you are interested in making your own laundry soap here's a great resource:

I do have people ask me about this since most people don't make their own cleaning supplies. I make the powdered version because of my tendency to make messes in general. The worst part is grating the soap. Thankfully the weather is nice here this week so I sat outside on the porch grated away while watching a really corny 80's movie on my laptop. Now I know that there are many busy people out there who don't have time for this. Please don't feel guilty for buying laundry detergent. This is just a way that I can save my family money and since I contribute no actual income to the family it is important that I find these money saving opportunities.

I absolutely love my clothesline, it makes me feel like I'm harnessing some of our natural resources (lots of heat in Mississippi) and saving $ at the same time. But the line was too short so after consulting with my handy husband he instructed me on how to double it's length. A drill and a screw in hook later we have enough clothesline to dry an entire load at once.

I'm a grandma

No I'm really not. But sometimes my love of vintage and retro makes me feel like one. Take my new hobby, knitting. I love it but I do feel kinda old lady surrounded by all my gear at times. I was showing Daniel's parents my cute diaper cover and partially completed sweater and his mom remarked, "that looks like something Richard's mom would have had made for Daniel." I really did think it was funny and I don't mind having old fashioned tastes.

This pic is of my mostly completed sweater, my goal is to have it done by Friday. Daniel and I are going to be driving a lot on Saturday and I want to start on my new diaper covers. I'm using thinner yarn and hopefully will get a less bulky diaper cover. I have enjoyed my bulky yarn, it knits up quick and hides my many boo boos.

Bean of the week club

So for those of you who have been around my husband for more than 5 minutes lately you can tell we are really into Dave Ramsey right now. We have always had a budget and tracked it, but we haven't always tried super hard to stay within it's confines. Well little baby on the way has changed that.

Thankfully we agree on most areas of the budget, but our grocery budget has been a point of contention. Before we got married Daniel spent far less on groceries, but he also ate lots of frozen cardboard pizzas. Blah! SO in comes Elizabeth with her exotic tastes and love of heirloom and organic foods. Yeah real budget blower. This year I've been trying really hard to still buy healthy but still stay in the budget. We've been eating lots of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and lettuce (most of the time organic). I will occasionally throw in the more expensive veggies. I recently discovered the secret to cooking great cabbage, like my granny can. It's generous amounts of butter and not overcooking. I shop the organic meat and dairy case for clearance items. I get wonderful fresh eggs locally for a great price. I bake our own bread, can jam when we have free fruit. And my dear husband still thinks we spend to much. So I asked him what he would like to change about our diet to bring the money spent down.

So Daniel told me about this article he read about some guy that ate healthy on a low budget. His secret- stretching the meat out with grains and legumes. I'm not sure how much dairy he ate, but I'm not giving up my organic dairy yet. So I told him I'd try to start cooking more beans if he'd eat them. And Daniel has been very good natured about it all, as he usually is. Last week I made pork & bean stew, with green bell peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, christmas lima & pinto beans, nice hunks of pork, and a little yummy organic pepperoni to spice it up. The recipe came from the Joy of Cooking. We have one more serving, but I did put a bunch up in the freezer. Now that my freezer is back to normal function I can start stockpiling meals. It is so nice when I don't feel like cooking.

I'm really glad that Daniel has pushed me to cook more legumes, I really like them. I guess I haven't been cooking them out of laziness. I'll get Daniel to take a pic of our bean of the week today, a favorite Caribbean black bean stew and brown rice.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Local Fresh Eggs

Yummy pictures courtesy of Daniel. Like the title implies all these dishes have eggs as an essential ingredient. Not just any eggs mind you, free range organic from my farmer friend Hal of Abby Farms. This first picture is a Monte Cristo sandwich. Daniel made this delicious breakfast on Saturday. There are many variations, ours had: bacon, strawberry jam, farmers cheese, mustard. Then Daniel dipped them in egg and cooked them in a cast iron skillet with butter.

These marbled eggs are Daniel's Easter eggs. He hard boiled them, cracked the eggs, and soaked them in soy sauce. They do look pretty cool and they were very tasty.

Finally my contribution to this post, so last night I was tired and had some leftovers I wanted to use up. I had leftover cooked cabbage and chicken, so I searched the wonderful internet and found this wonderful recipe. I will definitely be using it again. It was quick, easy and it made a healthy supper. Here's a link to the recipe Cabbage casserole

Monday, May 11, 2009

My new non-food hobby

Yeah my new hobby isn't photography obviously. But you get the idea right. I have taken up knitting and I'm totally addicted. Just ask my poor husband, he just wants me to put my needles down and really watch a movie with him. But the baby clock is so ticking down. I'm already 28 weeks! This picture is of a pair of wool "soakers" or a diaper cover I made for Simeon. Daniel isn't so sure about the "sweater on his behind" look. But I of course love most anything that looks old timey. This was my third knit project, and my first soaker. Since we're going to be using cloth diapers, I need to make more soakers. But the next few will be knit with a thinner yarn producing a trimmer soaker.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Back to Reality

So Daniel and I were gone last week on a wonderful trip to the beach. We were in St. Augustine, Florida for a friend's wedding. We decided to make a week out of it and shared the beach house with some good friends. It was a good time for our spoiled dog to get used to being abused by children. He passed most tests with flying colors. I thought this picture was ridiculous and I couldn't help myself from posting it.

We had a good trip and I feel refreshed and ready to get back on the frugal wagon. Spending time with Holly was fun, she's really into couponing and has inspired me to search for coupons for products we regularly buy. As much as I'd love to be entirely self sufficient, we aren't nearly there and saving money on my favorite organic brands is a big help.

Our friend's little girl wore a beautiful silk dress to the wedding, and her mother was lamenting the horrible dry cleaning fees. I shared this page with her. I have used these techniques to clean wool, silk, and rayon with no casualties yet. I thought the article did a good job of explaining why you can't throw these items through a regular wash cycle without damage. This is the product I use. Even though I used my homemade laundry detergent for most items it is still cheaper to use a cap of this than to pay outrageous dry cleaning fees. I try not to lament all the money I wasted dry cleaning before stumbling upon these tips.

I will have some food posts soon I promise, as soon as the sun comes back out I'll take a pic and do a little garden update.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Local Businesses are best

So I don't know if I have discussed my kitchen repair projects before. No nothing as fun as beautifying my totally groovy 1970's kitchen style. I have some appliance issues. My mixer runs like a loud train, I need to take it to be serviced. And up until a few days ago my beloved deep freezer chirped like a bird. Unfortunately the chirping meant the fan motor (on the inside of the unit) was going off. And I put off repairing it, I was too busy, there was too much food in there, I didn't have the money...

Two weeks ago I had a national appliance company come out and look at it. It wouldn't make the noise, so the repairman wanted to wait and come back when it would. Now he was a very competent man, but his company is super busy. So the inevitable happened probably a few days ago it died. I called this national company two days ago and tomorrow was the quickest they could be here. Not quick enough for all my expensive organic meat!

Daniel urged me to call around this morning and I called all the companies in our area in the yellow pages. And I prayed a lot. We are going out of town next week and what would I do with my food? I guess to some people this wouldn't be a big deal. But part of my "job" as a housewife is finding food to store away, putting up strawberries, finding great deal on meats, cooking big meals and freezing some for later. Losing all my food was losing all my hard work.

So one of the companies called back, JW with Appliance Specialist. Look him up in the yellow pages. He came out, took the freezer apart immediately. He had to go get a part from the appliance repair store, but he still did this within hours of my call. I love small business owners, they care about their business so they care about pleasing the customer. Now hopefully my freezer is going to cool off quickly and I can put my meat back in there. Oh the dry ice, I had to run out and buy some to try to keep things cool. What a day. I still have to bake.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Strawberry Pineapple Marmalade

So Daniel had a post about LA strawberries being in season now. And we have been enjoying them. I decided I wanted to make some jam and process it. There was a post last summer about us making salsa, and it was really a learning experience. We didn't have all the equipment we needed and we didn't know what we were doing. After a few mistakes, and after talking to some people with experience I feel like I might actually be able to preserve some things I could give to people. Daniel and I ate what I canned last year, but I didn't feel quite confident giving any salsa or jam away.

So I got this cookbook last summer, Putting It Up With Honey: A Natural Foods Canning and Preserving Cookbook by Susan Geiskopf. I used it to make some fig honey jam that we have enjoyed all winter. That was a money saving endeavor, because some friends gave us huge bags of figs (free food!) But I will say the strawberry marmalade did cost me. The recipe called for one pineapple, 4 oranges, and 6 cups (sliced) strawberries. At least I had enough jars and lids I didn't have to buy those. Oh yeah the great thing about this book is all the recipes have honey instead of processed sugar, but honey is more expensive. For canning purposes I try to find the cheapest honey I can b/c it is going to be cooked so long whether it is raw or not doesn't matter. I still would like to think that gourmet marmalade would have cost more and not had the unique and healthier qualities of my honey marmalade. It is always amazing to me that you start out with a large amount of fruit and end up with so few jars of jam. You might can tell from the fuzzy picture I ended up with 3.75 jars! I processed the full 3 and the partial Daniel and I are eating on now. I used bigger jars than the recipe called for.

I will say making my own marmalade, jam, etc. is such of a fulfilling activity. I guess similar to making our own bread. Yeah you can find it cheaper in the store, but it won't taste as good or be prepared with as much love.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring Foods Down South

0b50fcf88377603e6257a79ac6e63da5In Mississippi, we get about two and a half weeks of Spring before Summer arrives, and in that brief time, two favorite foods are in season.  Crawfish and strawberries are sent up from Louisiana and can be found all over the state.   Sunday, we enjoyed 20lbs of mudbugs with friends at Old Trace Park.  As far as meals go, it doesn't get any easier: find a supplier, fill up a cooler, and dump them on a plastic tablecloth somewhere outside.  Most vendors also sell potatoes and corn that has been boiled alongside the crawfish, so sides are covered too!  You can expect to pay about $3.85/lb, which is considerably cheaper than head-on shrimp.  I've tried boiling my own- it's a fun experience , but honestly it just wasn't worth the effort when pre-cooked are nearly the same price and generally just as fresh.

For the strawberries, I'm not sure there's anything better than just fresh sliced berries.  We went through a flat in about a week, and Elizabeth has already gotten another flat and put up some for the summer.

So, if you live 'round here, go grab some crawfish and berries and enjoy these short weeks of spring!

Being producers not just consumers

So I'm really excited about me and Daniel's new project. I have blogged about in the past about how we're trying to live a frugal and healthy lifestyle (not frugal- eat value meals from McDonald's everyday!) One of the things we try to do is be producers rather than only consumers. We all know we live in a very consumeristic society. In my grandparents days they had their own cows, pigs, chickens, gardens, made their own soap, clothes... I'm interested in this, but not ready to forgo all modern conveniences. Using a clothes line part time has made me grateful for my washer and dryer. People had in rough, they really worked hard back in the day.

Anyway, my neighbor cut a tree down in the side yard beside our garage so we decided we had enough light for a little garden. My brother sent me a link to a site with detailed instructions for building a raised bed. My friends at the market who have very successful gardens swear by raised bed vegetable gardens for many reasons: good drainage, less insect problems, you can easily create a little area of great dirt among a clay yard (ours:), and there are probably other reasons too.

So Daniel got some wonderfully beautiful cedar boards for me; I love cedar- the smell, the knots, mmmm. You could use pine like my more frugal brother did, both will probably hold up well. But the wood needs to be untreated. So Daniel didn't exactly follow the lady's instructions, but he is very handy so we have a lovely bed. I can't exactly give you instructions, so follow the pioneer woman's. Me and Barley tried to help, but we were definitely the dumb labor:) After the bed was assembled we put some cardboard down to kill any weeds (or grass if you have a lawn, not a weed bed). We dumped some leaves in to facilitate drainage and compost down. Daniel then dumped out all the potting soil we had in unused pots, and it was a lot. We then disagreed about what to fill the rest of the bed up with. My farmer friend told me to put compost, we don't have much compost yet. So Daniel wanted to go get a truckload of cheap clay dirt, trying to be frugal. I on the other hand, know from my years of working at the yard and garden center that if you use crummy dirt, you will get crummy plants. So we were in a gridlock, not wanting to spend a fortune on good dirt but wanting to have good dirt for our seeds. I went to my friends at Callaway's Yard and Garden center where I worked for half of my life. We asked for broken bags and they cut us a good deal. Frugal tip: ask for broken bags at smaller yard and garden centers, they're messy but will save you some bucks.

So after our dirt dilemma was peacefully resolved we started some seeds. I bought some heirloom seeds from the health food coop, any seeds would do. I want to save my seeds from year to year (assuming I actually produce any fruit), and heirloom vegetables usually taste better and are more disease resistant. We used cardboard egg cartons, punched little holes in the bottom, used seed starter (special little bag of dirt), and kept moist. Our seeds have been going for about 3 weeks, other than the few honeydew melon sprouts Barley decided to snack on they are doing great. We are in the midst of a cold snap, 40˚ this morning! But hopefully we'll plant the seedlings soon. My farmer friend says as soon as they have their second set of leaves and it is warm enough. I stocked up on organic fertilizer and bug treatments from the coop, so we'll see how my organic garden is going to progress. Hopefully the future posts won't be as late coming as this one. I hope my garden produces well, I feel like I have much to learn!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

4th photo tag

So a friend of mine tagged me and I'm supposed to post the 4th photo from my 4th picture folder. Pretty easy right? Well I have a bunch of really not as interesting pictures of food like grated fresh ginger. So I decided to bend the rules and use the 4th people picture from the 4th people picture folder.

Anyway this picture is a hoot. The 3 Nappie Roots when Rebecca was still single. This pic was taken in Vicksburg when I was a student again, in Oct. of 2006. So Daniel and I were still newlyweds.

Here are the websites of the lucky people I tagged. Peyton and Denley ya'll get to post 2 pictures:)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ask for it

So I'm feeling a little empowered today. With all the craziness in our world I feel like I have gained a little control over a small portion of my life.

What did I do? What I think everyone else should do. Bargain. I went to the grocery store today to pick up a few potatoes for supper, I needed a quick starch after Daniel and I ate a loaf of bread in record time. And being I refuse to buy bread, potatoes seemed like a good option to go with my clean out the fridge quiche.

So after finding my potatoes, being I am not a man and I don't shop like one I meandered around a bit. I headed to the dairy case (my favorite place in the grocery). And what did I find? Cream top (pasturized, but non-homogenized milk), I was so excited. I have been wanting to try some of this milk but it is hard to find, and after searching for a few weeks I gave up my search. But here were 2 pretty glass bottle with a nice creamy layer on top of the milk. Unfortunately the bottles had an expiration of today, so I asked to talk to the manager and asked for a deal. Guess what? I got a great deal.

In my experience of grocery bargaining, grocery stores are so busy trying to turn over stock they loose track of items nearing expiration at times. So if you see something you want past its peak, ask. Warning: not every store manager is going to care. Some mega store employees don't care about anything but their paycheck.

By the way I decided to make yogurt with my almost expired milk, cultured dairy lives a lot longer. Plus I had some yogurt starter I needed to use up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sad News

So Daniel and I have had some wonderful blessings this year that will change our lives forever. We are having to make some decisions. We have decided not to return to Belhaven Market or Old Towne Market (Clinton) as vendors anyway. There are several reasons for this decision, and I won't bore you with the details. On the positive side we are getting to spend a lot of time continuing to work on the house and getting ready for the baby.

I am enjoying my time away from the market. I have actually had the time to post some new blogs! I have several part time jobs that keeps me busy about 20+ hrs a week. And for me there always seems to be plenty to do. I cook the majority of our meals and prepare Daniel's lunch every day. So I'm still in the kitchen plenty. Then there's always my least favorite task of cleaning. I have been trying to get some yard work done. And Daniel and I are working on preparing a very small raised bed garden. I have to stay busy or I go nuts.

So yesterday I had a fun day doing something I enjoy but don't often have time for. I baked a Lemon Cream Pie completely from scratch. It is a fairly simple recipe. I went the whole nine yards and made the graham cracker crust and actually churned the butter so it was nice and fresh. I feel blessed to have the time to make a yummy from scratch fancy dish every now and again.

I apologize for the pitiful pictures. The pie was a little more yellow than it appears, I attribute the yellow hue to the egg yolks more than the lemon itself. And the top picture is some of the butter I molded in my stoneware shortbread mold. Photography is really not one of my talents.

Is the new Joy of Cooking too joyful?

Last year I blogged about one of my favorite cookbooks: The Joy of Cooking.

Well today when I got my daily nutrition what's in the news email I spotted this article : 'Joy of Cooking' or 'Joy of Obesisty'? by Jeannine Stein in the LA Times. Lately I don't even look at most of the articles in this list because there does not ever seem to be much new nutrition news. After reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon I am not completely sure that all the nutrition advice that is commonly held is correct. I mean eggs, butter, red meat, and naturally saturated fat being evil when 1. they are all natural foods from God and 2. people have eaten diets consisting of these things and been far healthier than our current society. But that is a whole other subject...

But the title caught my eye so I read the article and it is interesting. I really like the research these people did. I would love to get some of these older cookbooks to use. The article mentions the increased quantity of meat and dairy in modern recipes. I do tend to use quality real ingredients, like grass fed beef, homemade cultured butter, and organic cheese. But I make a lot of stews to make these pricier ingredients stretch out. Now that we are going to have a little one to feed and hopefully more little ones down the road stretching our food $ is even more important.

I also like the point about expanding portions. Daniel and I have Willow Blue China by Johnson Brothers that we use everyday. Although I don't like the fact it is made in China and not England (like it was 5 years ago), I love it is an old pattern and the bowls and plates are more normally sized. Really some of the new patterns have huge capacities, and I'm afraid if I had a set like that I would fill them up. The bowl on the upper left is a called a "super soup/cereal bowl" at 28 ounces it certainly is! My soup/cereal bowls on the left will only hold about 8 ounces. What a difference. Now if I eat my bowl full and am hungry (happening more these days :) I go back for more.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stroller Adventures

Ok just a warning, my blogs are probably going to be heading in a more hmm maternal direction. But I think many of my readers will understand the relationship this post has with many of my other posts. Trying to buy local and healthier products for your family.

So as I have mentioned Daniel and I are expecting our first little Rootlet (after Barley of course) in August. So I have started researching baby products to register for or snatch up if I find a good deal.

One of my dreams from the beginning of Barley's time with us has been to train him so when I am a little stay at home mom we can all go walk and get our exercise. This is going to be a challenge due to his fear of any rolling thing: garbage cans, suitcases, ect. And a stroller is on the top of the mommy supply list, talk about too many options. Now I really do like to buy products that are not made in China after the contamination scares that we have had recently. Of course, once I made that a priority my search options were narrowed considerably, Britax is the only stroller company that is making "made or assembled in the USA" products.

They sale more car seats than they do strollers, in fact they lead the field in safety improvisions. Well I found a great deal on . I found a Britax preview for $79 (was around $150 other places). When I checked around it had decent reviews, the top problem seemed to be non-adjustable handles. I figured you have to have some limitations. It seemed compact, and I drive a Civic so great. I couldn't find this anywhere in Jackson, even after checking at stores that were supposed to have it. But it was such of a great deal I took the risk.

So I went ahead and spent the rest of my baby budget money for the month and ordered it. It came in when Daniel was out of town and I assembled it myself. When he came back I was showing him how it folded up and I popped a plastic piece on the canopy. Unfortunately it was broken and not repairable. I have spent the last 3 weeks trying to get the canopy replaced, because it is under a 1 yr warantee. I know it was my fault, but why the stroller was built so cheaply I'm not sure. The company has been good to deal with and they are sending me a completely new stroller, so I am a happy Britax customer. I am disallusioned however. I think my stroller is being phased out, so much for replacement parts. And to top it off my stroller has an information sticker on it that says made in China, perhaps it was "assembled in the USA".

I really wish you could buy quality merchandise that could be repaired rather than just replaced, but all the baby gear seems to be made of plastic. And once the plastic cracks too bad. I'm sure there are better quality European products, but we do not have $500 to spend on a stroller. Maybe with the economic downturn we will have a return of quality products, I doubt it though.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Great gift wrapping ideas

Well I have been busy as usual. I must confess I am spending a good bit of time baby stuff shopping and researching. I did have a large order for some individually packaged biscotti (40 packages with 2 biscotti). I think they turned out nicely. I have got to post some pictures of my chocolate dipped biscotti soon.

I packed the biscotti in biodegradable cellophane bags tied with colorful natural raffia bows. They were really snazzy.

In the past to obtain eco-friendly packaging materials I've had to order from some place like California or Oregon and pay too much for shipping. Well I made a great discovery recently, Nashville Wraps has a wonderful selection of cellophane, raffia, kraft bags, and other eco-friendly wrapping. They are closer to me than CA, so shipping was very reasonable. The other great thing about ordering from them is they sale in small quantities, so you don't have to buy 1000 of any one item.

In addition to some business supplies, I ordered a box of 150 plain kraft bags to use as gift wrap. They were really cheap per bag, and who wants to spend a fortune on gift wrap? Add some colorful tissue paper and raffia and your gift is ready to go. If you like to keep a stock of gift wrap at home, you may want to check it out. Order with a friend and you can split shipping.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New beginnings

Daniel and I are embarking on new experiences in the new year. We are expecting a baby in August! We are very excited about him or her. So we have yet more home repairs/remodelings to add to the list.

I am not sure now whether I will be returning to Belhaven Market. I am still in business however. I have been working on a few orders.

I have been baking for the wonderful Coffeeshop at Eudora Welty's birthplace. It is located on Congress Street and is a fun place. Go check it out and have a ginger chewie or a wholesome & yummy muffin. I am having a lot of fun doing that. I will be exploring new muffin possibilities soon. Right now I have baked Sour Cream Peach and Banana Nut, both 100% whole grain. I hope to continue baking for them as long as they want me to bake. I spent some time this morning looking at some fun new ways to package muffins without breaking the bank. There are some creative people out there.

If you want to order anything send me an email. I hope all my readers are having a great new year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I survived

Hi to my friends out there. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. My family did. Every year somehow they just get busier.

I wanted to thank my customers for their patience. I was blessed with a lot of business this year, and I am very grateful for that. I am also very grateful for my patient customers who put up with my incompetence as I scrambled to meet everyone's orders and try to prepare for my family's Christmas. It was really a mad rush. I enjoyed being a part of my customer's Christmas, so thank you again for making it a possibility for me to do what I love.

This is a basket that I assembled for a friend's aunt. I have cookies, bread, and gourmet cheese (I can not claim to have made the cheese). I can make these baskets any time of the year. Just give me enough notice (1-2 weeks).