Monday, October 7, 2013

Farmhouse Tips - What's Buggin' Me...

Bugs bug me...  I am not afraid of them, but they bug me.  Note:  Except for ants.  I am petrified of those enormous ants that have 3 defined body parts.  Ick.  I do not really even mind bugs outside like mosquitoes.  I mean, that is their habitat, where they live and they must serve some purpose, right?  Like passing along West Nile or other nasty diseases.  And, I really think that those big mosquito fogging trucks are pretty awesome (from my days of living in the city).  We do not have those out where I live in the country.  We have OFF mosquito spray and fly swatters (a.k.a our hands), no fancy trucks.

You know what really bugs me?  Bugs in MY habitat, MY house which makes me understand a little more why mosquitoes bite us.  We are in their home!!!  I really do not like gnats in my house.  In my previous life, I was a social worker.  One day, I walked into a home and could not find the children.  They were not hiding, but there were too many gnats to see the kids.  NO JOKE.  There were so many gnats, I may have swallowed 20 of them.  I wish I were joking, but since we are all on the same page, you see my point.  When I get them in my house, I freak out for a moment and then start exterminating... naturally!  Since I started gardening and harvesting (peaches and tomatoes especially), I have a gnat problem every summer and fall.  This remedy kills 90% of them overnight at my house.  I have a lot of friends ask me for this recipe, so here you go!

Homemade Gnat Killer

One glass (Clear is important, I like disposable punch cups from the party store)
Apple Cider Vinegar (Fill to 1/4 inch in the cup) - Sometimes I use wine instead, but who want to waste wine???
1 Squirt Dawn dish soap



Mix together (at night). 
Go to bed.
Wake up and pour the dead gnats down the drain or out in the yard. 
Do a Happy dance.

There you go.  Dead gnats = happy moms. 

Note:  I use Dawn because the oil covered ducks really get to me.  The off-brands work just as well, but do not tug at my heart strings near as much.  I have absolutely no idea if any ducks have been saved and Dawn is in no way supporting this message. 









Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It Truly Takes a Village (or an i-village)

Author's Note: For the past several months, I have been working, tending to a garden and raising my family. I have had little time to really focus on blogging (I am a seasonal blogger in the colder months only), but I have been reading other blogs & news articles in my down time (which I assure you is few and far between). This is in response to several blogs that I have read about the "stress" and "competition" between mothers in the Pinterest-era.
 
 
I have always heard that it takes a village to raise a family and I believe that to be true. However, we no longer live in villages. Some of us live out in the country with very few neighbors like I do. Some of us live in communities with HOAs and community pools, but have other neighborhood mothers that treat you like crap because you are the only mom that works (as a Doctor). (I should note that the last statement is true for a friend of mine and makes me want to beat up those other moms, but I never thought I would look good in orange so I blog about it instead). In today's world, I would say that a small percentage of us feel like we live in a village that is open to help raising our children. Many of us live far from our families and have a limited number of helping hands. College, careers, spouses and freedom have taken us out of the "village" that we grew up in 20 or 30 years ago. Thankfully, social networking and the internet have helped us to still connect to those inside and outside of our circles.
 
Recently, the social network trend has created some ill feelings with some of our "followers". From what I gather, there are some mothers that feel inadequate because they do not have the skills to cook the best meals for their family or provide the most elaborate birthday cakes. They feel that every school holiday party, they must contribute something to keep up with the other Pinterest frenzied moms.
 
I am one of those frenzied moms. Have you seen these snowmen? I have nearly 793 pins on Pinterest(to date, that could change... oh wait, 794). I absolutely love Pinterest. Do you know why? Because I do not have it all figured out and neither do you, but there are people pinning recipes and ideas that you and I would have never imagined. And, we are "sharing" ideas with our followers that may in fact help someone with an issue they have. For example, I am a career mom with absolutely no time to spare in the morning (read a typical morning for me, here). I frantically pick out clothes for myself and my child each day about 20 minutes before we walk out the door. This week, I saw a pin for a weekly divider in which you place your child's clothing and I already have the stuff to make it. I never would have thought of it, but could it save me some time? Absolutely. The person that I pinned that from just helped my morning a little.
 
We receive information in a different way than our mothers and grandmothers did. Our mothers may have learned to sew from their mothers. Some of you did not learn some of those skills from your mothers because our mothers were in the workforce. Our mothers (some of them single) worked their tails off to take care of us and balance their jobs to keep food on our table. Many of us are doing the same today. We are gathering information on how to make our own Turkey Tettrazini from other sources because we didn't take the time to learn it from our mothers. I am pretty sure my mother is still ashamed that I have no idea how to make gravy (I do not like gravy, so I did not care to learn how to make it). Sorry mom, but I really like that pin you pinned last week about dried flowers!
 
We also have to realize that each of us have different needs as families. My child has a horrible reaction to artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives and some fruits. Some of my friends have mentioned to me that they do not want me to look down on the choices they are making to feed their families. I am thrilled that your children do not react to the foods that my son cannot consume. It is a tough job making everything from scratch, but no tougher than some of the obstacles that you are dealing with on a daily basis with other things in your family. We are all moms just trying to raise our families in a crazy world. By sharing some of my experiences of my homemade recipes and projects, please take no offense that I bake my own sandwich bread and you buy yours from the store. It took a village of other websites and bloggers to teach me how to make the perfect loaf. Some of you know how to sew... I cannot thread a needle! I will need you to help me one day when my son rips his baseball pants for the tenth time.

Do we live in an ideal village that is in the infamous "It takes a village" line? No, but it sure is fitting in today's times. So, I am begging you, please, oh please, do not let Pinterest stress you out. After all, most of us are never going to make that crap we pin anyway!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Farmhouse Fridays - Broccoli and Worms... and all that jazz!

For the first time ever, we grew broccoli in our garden this year.  I love broccoli.  We eat it dipped in ranch, cooked and drizzled with cheese and in soups and casseroles.  Broccoli is a wonderful green vegetable and really vitamin rich, so we try to eat as much of it as we can.  Our three year old loves it, too!  This year, we grew it in the garden for the first time.  I now feel that I have a new relationship with broccoli, one where I know all of the dirty little secrets about it. 



Broccoli is prone to worms in the Midwest.  Yes, I said worms.  Green, broccoli colored worms.  Really hard to detect worms.  Really squishy in your mouth worms.  I took that too far, I know.  Seriously, they are disgusting in a really wormy, green way.  In the Spring, we grew broccoli for the first time.  After growing the starts that we picked up from the greenhouse, we were thrilled when something that appeared to look like broccoli shot up out of the center of the plant!  Once it was the size of a typical store bought head of broccoli (but without the ends flowering), we took a knife out and cut the bunch off of the larger plant.  I then cut it into smaller pieces into a large bowl.

 




I soaked the broccoli in SALT WATER to get the worms out.  After soaking, I rinsed each piece several times searching for worms in between each branch.  I found several still even after soaking.  Make sure to check as many times as you need to check to feel comfortable eating your produce. 

We froze broccoli in family size portions for 4 months.  We washed the broccoli well and placed enough for one meal into a gallon freezer bag.  We placed into the freezer.  We boiled it to our desire once we were ready to eat the product.  I sprinkle with salt and a little cheese after boiling.  There is no broccoli that tastes as good as home grown!

There you have it for this week's Farmhouse Friday post!  What veggie have you been dying to grow?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Farmhouse Friday - Crockpot Baked Potatoes

I pulled the hoodies out this week for my son to wear to school, so I think it is fair to say that summer is technically over for us. I made my last batch of tomato juice this week and I am ready to call it quits on the harvest this year. Bittersweet. On a fantastic note, I have time to blog again!

This summer has given me time to mull over what I want to give to my readers. In no way can I provide a post a day, it will never happen. Instead, I am going to offer Farmhouse Friday posts where I focus on recipes from my kitchen, information about the Feingold Diet, garden growing, harvesting and storage information. Friday nights are typically a "fast" food night (not to be confused with "fast food") in which I make something easy that takes very little time. I am tired after the work week grind and I normally camp out in the living room and take in a movie. Once the family goes to bed, I will be able to focus on my blog. I cannot wait to start sharing again and I hope you are still interested in reading.  And on a good week, you might see some additional posts on days besides Fridays!  Here is the first of the series, I hope you like it!

We are having a very busy weekend at our house with out of town guests arriving and a 90th birthday party for my grandmother!  I needed a quick meal that I could put together because busy or not, we still have to eat.  This morning, I threw some potatoes in the crock pot...  It really is pretty much that easy.  Here is how I do it:

Crockpot Baked Potatoes

Wash baked potatoes
Dry potatoes
Wrap in foil
Place in crock pot
Cook on low for 6-8 hours



Serve with sour cream, cooked bacon crumbles, green onions, and shredded cheese... 

This is a perfect main course meal for a Meatless Monday.  We are serving ours tonight with a little leftover beef roast. 

Have a great weekend! 





Friday, August 23, 2013

Moving to the country, gonna eat me a lot of ____________________

4 years ago, my husband planted peach trees.  4 years ago, I said "What in the heck are we going to do with peaches?" .  He was serious, I was serious.  I think we both were looking at each other with entirely different objectives and unclear peach paths.  You know what I said this weekend while I froze 21 quarts of peaches?  "I am soooo glad WE decided to plant these trees!  What an awesome idea?".  Quickly, I ran into the other room.
Life is so different today.  I have grown a lot of veggies and fruits this summer to feed my family.  I have learned to can and freeze things that I didn't know how to grow 6 months ago!  This has been one busy summer, but I have NO REGRETS!  I plan to share my experiences throughout the fall, but today I am sharing my freezer peach instructions.
Freezing Peaches
What you need:
Ripe peaches
Fruit Fresh
Hot Water
Cold Water
Freezer bags
2 Large Pots (or 1 large + sink)
Boil a large pan of water.  Place peaches in boiling water for a minute.  Remove and place in ice cold water (in pan or sink).  Leave for one minute.
Remove skins.
Quarter or halve peaches and remove seed.
Place on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with Fruit Fresh and freeze for 8 hours.
Once frozen, transfer to freezer bag.
Will keep for 6 months to a year.
See attached for a picture of peaches on a cookie sheet.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Planting A Garden and Stengthening Our Roots

It has been planting season at our house, therefore the blogging is fewer and farther between.  This year's garden has a different feel about it and much deeper roots.  The last garden that I was excited about was in 2009 when I was pregnant.  Then, I became scared of overheating, spider bites and everything else that internet searches lead you to fear while pregnant so I gave up on that year's garden.  Four years later, I have so many different feelings and a 3 1/2 year old that is helping me maintain the plants.

 


It has been four months since we started our journey to cleaner eating via the Feingold Diet.  We have learned the ins and outs about what our family is consuming and what better way to "know" your food than to grow it?  This year's garden consists of Asparagus, Strawberries, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cucumbers and Green Beans.





Our family enjoys nothing more than time together, even if it means sitting down for a meal at the dining room table.  We live pretty fast paced lives with varying schedules due to our full time careers.  Have I mentioned that my husband is also a full time student?  We are normally running in a million different directions, but we still make time to do things together as a family.  One amazing thing about our garden is that it is a place where we all have a role and work to do, but it is a place that we can all be together.  My son likes to play in the dirt more than anything, but he will help me harvest the plants with some direction.  My husband tills and I pull weeds (or vice versa) and sometimes we try to hear each other talk over the loud vibrations of the tiller.  In the end, we are all together doing something we love to do.  It is a gathering place. 

When the first tomato appears, there is something amazing that resonates inside of all of us.  We all helped this garden grow.  It is educational for my son to see that tomatoes do not come from the grocery, they come from the ground, from a seed.  It is also important for him to learn that they need water, sun and a little love just like us.  I cannot wait until he sees the green beans popping up!

If you have the time, patience and space, I challenge YOU (Yes, You) to start a family garden.  You may kill off a few plants before you get the hang of it, but you will learn as you go.  There are a ton of books in the local library to help you get started and a lot of resources on the Internet.  The best resources for us are the local retirees that have been planting gardens for 50+ years.  Local gardeners know a lot about local soil types and what types of plants will grow best in your region.  It is good to get your hands in the dirt (you should feel how soft my hands are) and it is much more educational than you even realize.  It is rewarding to serve dinner from a garden that you have worked in day after day.  It is the epitome of seeing the "Fruits of our Labor".



Now, get outside and move some dirt!




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Diet Cola Addict - Coming Clean

I put a lot of thought day after day about the things that I am letting my child eat.  No matter how tired I am, I rise every morning before work and make his lunch so I know almost everything he is consuming.  I carefully ask questions on the way home to ensure that his school is complying with my requests regarding lunch and snacks.  I cringe every time he tells me that he had "juice" at school because I know that could potentially be a Capri Sun that another parent brought in for a birthday party.  I sometimes cringe knowing that I used to be that parent.  I cringe the most when I ask myself what I have consumed because what gets me through the day, every day?  Caffeine.  In what form do I drink most of it?  Diet Coke.  (I am now hiding under a chair waiting on the bashing). 

Truth is, I like soft drinks and dislike water.  I wish it wasn't this way, but it is true.  Often, I go in spurts of drinking soft drinks only (all day long) to cutting them out completely.  They always weasel their way back into my life.  I have quit drinking soft drinks due to budgeting, dieting, my fears about Aspartame, etc but no reason ever seemed good enough to quit for good.  Until now, that is.  Last week, my son asked me if he could have a Diet Coke when he was bigger.  I want to be a positive role model for my child, so I am quitting the habit.  I have one last 6 pack of Diet Coke to consume and I am quitting again. 


Photo courtesy of www.northeastbootcamp.co.uk



This is not going to be easy, so I need your help to keep me accountable!  I will continue to document my progress either through Facebook posts ("like" me here) or in blog entries.  If I fall off the wagon, kick me a few times and then help me back up, please.  Also, feel free to share any ways you may have to spice up my water or other drink recipes.

Wish me luck!