Thursday, December 10, 2009

A little political

I usually don't delve into politics here, but this does a little.

I was listening to NPR yesterday and there was someone on there speaking about the healthcare debate. Dr. Atul Gawande equated what needs to happen to healthcare to now what happened with food last century. You can read a transcript or listen to the interview here, so I won't go into it too much.

However, his premise was basically that at the turn of last century, food prices were very high and about 40% of Americans' incomes went to food. As a result, the government tried to lower food costs through various methods and succeeded.

And now we're dealing with healthcare costs on a similar level. He believes the government needs to fix healthcare in the same way, with various small steps rather than one big overhaul. And I'm not necessarily disagreeing with that. My concern is that we don't address really what the change in food production did.

Food can be very cheap in the U.S. now, but is the cheap food really worth the money we pay for it? We changed the way food was produced and got rid of the "inefficient" lower-yield small farmers and eventually went to mega farms reliant on pesticides and fertilizers. Is this really a better way to produce the food for the nation? I don't think so.

Also, is there possibly some correlation between us being able to get cheap food that is less nourishing and more crap-filled (and yes, I'm sure that's a technical term) and our nation being less healthy and having higher healthcare costs? The healthcare and insurance systems are way out of whack, I'm not denying that, but we as a nation are a lot less healthy in general than we were a century ago. We might live longer, but we are much more reliant on meds to keep us going than we were then.

I believe there is a correlation, a big one. I don't have facts and figures to back it up, this is just my opinion. I think this is something that is gravely overlooked and this interview I think really brought it to the forefront, even if inadvertently.

Any thought?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just Checking In

Wow, I have been CRAZY busy lately. Working way too many hours and I just don't have the energy to blog when I get home! Sorry guys. Things should settle down soon, I hope.

This is an example of what NOT to do.

I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year for my in-laws. It all went pretty well, but I ran out of room in my fridge! Do NOT go to the store the weekend before and buy all your groceries PLUS a 20lb turkey that needs to thaw and then come home and make 18 pints of chicken stock before you have your mom's pressure canner. Don't do that, it makes life difficult. Thankfully I did fit everything in, just barely!

But we did have so much food leftover that the first night some things lived on the front porch. Thankfully it was nice and cool the whole time :) After having a dinner of leftovers with the neighbors Friday, I managed to get it all in the refrigerator.

Things are going well with the low-carb thing. Some days are harder than others, that's for sure, but overall it's not bad! I've lost about 15 pounds so far, which is great, and feel much, much better.

I haven't shared any recipes like I had promised, but I really don't have anything exciting to share. I've just been eating the some stuff, just without the carbs. I have a few yummy tricks, like whipping cream and a teaspoon of sugar-free chocolate pudding mix whipped together, YUM!

Since I'm past the two-week induction phase, I've started to add a few more carbs in. I'm sticking at 25 for the moment because I've really seemed to slow down in the loss category. I think Dr. Pepper is to blame. I was doing really well with soda, only drinking the occasional glass of diet orange with cream and not 2-3 cans of diet dr. pepper a day like before. But then my mother-in-law brought a case for Thanksgiving and left it hear. It was delicious and wonderful, but got me pretty much hooked again! Not as bad before, but I crave it again. The good news is that I just finished the case off yesterday, so I guess I drank it more slowly than I used to (and I wasn't the only one drinking it on Thanksgiving Day, just after...).

Since upping my carbs to 25, I've been able to add in strawberries and cocoa roast almonds. Even though I'm paying almost $4/quart for strawberries shipped from California, right now I think they're worth it. Here in Ohio, we're all about the root veggies right now and the only remnants of fruit are apples. And of course when I made all of my jam this summer, I was not thinking low-carb at the time, so West Coast berries are my treat now. It's not ideal, but I'll take it!

I did make a yummy pumpkin cheesecake (sugar-free) for Thanksgiving that turned out great, and I've managed a ketchup and bbq sauce. Those recipes should be up when I can get back to blogging regularly. But other than that, I've just been omitting the carbs. Like homemade beef-a-roni, only I used cauliflower instead of macaroni. It works for me!

I am, however, getting a little sick of eggs for breakfast. They're good, but sometimes I just want a really quick prep breakfast, no cooking involved. So, I did end up buying a few Atkins shakes and Atkins bars for when I'm desperate. This morning is only my fifth shake since I've started and I'm half-way through my second box of bars. So I'm in no way reliant on them, but they do come in handy once-in-a-while.

This is a picture of three eggs about to be scrambled.
Can you tell which came from my mom's chickens
(the new ones are laying now, woohoo!)
and which came from the store? Mom's are still a little small,
but the color alone shows you how much better they are!

Lastly, I am starting another new adventure. I can't say much about it yet, but I hope to help other people learn to be frugal (and a little treehuggy too!). My first step is complete, I've made my own shopping bag! I used the Charlie pattern at and I think it turned out pretty well. I don't have a serger, so I used french seams and bias tape. I think I will tweak it a little bit for the future, but overall I like it!

Charlie Bag

And one last thought to leave you with...our first snow!
And no, not all four of those recycle bins are mine, we share pickup with the neighbors :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adventures in Low-Carb eating

I've made it five days without really cheating, woohoo! I don't see any real change yet, other than I fell a lot less lethargic. I also tried to stop drinking soda at the same time. That didn't work out. I am too addicted to sweets to do both. I have managed to really cut back on the diet soda, but not entirely. That'll be a next step. I am drinking lots and lots of water and trying to ignore the headache I have right now.

It has really gone a lot better than I anticipated. The hardest part so far has been chocolate. I want it badly! I did make a nice concoction of whipping cream, cocoa powder and stevia that was pretty tasty. I think I whipped a little too long though, because after I finished I felt a little like my tongue was coated in butter! Last night, however, was killer. We had friends over for dinner and afterwards I served up small dishes of icecream with my homemade chocolate syrup. That actually wasn't the problem. The problem was the three little drops of syrup that ended up on my cutting board. It killed me. I so badly wanted to just whip them up with my finger and lick it off! The jar of syrup I was holding in my hand didn't bother me, just those three little drops. I guess I'm not ready to make cookies yet...

Anyway, I don't really have any recipes yet because I'm still in the induction phase and it is VERY low carb, like under 20g a day. So I'm basically eating meat, cheese, lettuce, broccoli and asparagus. I'm sure I'll start to expand soon, but for now that's it.

I did, however, make my own taco seasoning. I had previously just bought a big container from Sams and used a little bit when I needed it. Unfortunately one of the first ingredients in that is flour. So I made my own. And I don't think I'm going back! Hubby likes it and our friends like it last night. It's good. I used a little chipotle powder in it, yum :-)

I don't have the recipe with me, as I'm blogging from work right now. But I will try and get it up soon.

On a bit of another note, I am really glad I decided to go this route right now. After reading Dr. Atkins' book, especially the chapter on Candida yeast overgrowth, I am convinced that I am struggling with this issue and have been for some time.

There is a lot of information out about Candida, so I won't go into a lot of detail. But basically, Candida is a yeast that lives in your gut. Sometimes, due to overuse of antibiotics or steroids, among other reasons, it becomes overgrown. This can cause a number of symptoms, including craving sweets and starches, feeling tired and "spacey", being prone to itchiness and rashes and having nasal congestion and drainage. The list is very large, but many of the symptoms describe what I've been going through perfectly. So I am trying to control this.

One of the first places I heard about it was from Shannon at Nourishing Days.

The good news, one of the best ways to treat Candida is to remove all starches and sugars from your diet, something I'm already doing. I'm also supposed to limit my intake of caffeine, moldy cheeses, vinegar and fermented condiments. Oh, and no nuts, smoked or cured foots, wine, beer or spirits.

Some of the last things mentioned are going to be very hard for me. I'm a recovering ketchup-aholic. Since I can no longer eat ketchup, at least the kind purchased from the store, I've been using cheese and other yummy sauces (usually based on vinegar or fermented soy sauce) to stand in for ketchup. Without these, I'd be in trouble. So, we'll say I'm taking baby steps.

I'm not completely off caffeine yet, I'm working on it. And I do love good stinky cheeses, though I am trying to stick to mozzarella and cream cheese. I haven't had nuts yet on this new diet plan, though I was looking forward to introducing them back into my diet in the future. And I don't drink, so I have that part covered. I've also ordered a probiotic and hope to start taking that soon to speed the process along. Getting rid of a Candida overgrowth can take quite a while, especially one that's been hanging around for a while, like I'm pretty sure mine has.

Hopefully, all these changes will help me to feel better again. We'll see. And in the meantime, I may just lose these extra 40 lbs I've gained recently too!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday blues

It's Monday and I'm not happy about it! I didn't get nearly as much done this past weekend as I had hoped. It was gorgeous all weekend and I really didn't have the opportunity to take advantage of it. Hubby and I did an afternoon's worth of yard work in about 2 hours last night and that's about it.

We still need to finish cleaning out the pond and have to get the net over it for the winter, but just about everything else is done. And I do have lettuce growing, albeit very slowly. It made it through the freeze we had the other night, so I'm hopeful for some fresh lettuce soon!

Here's a pic from some of the canning I did earlier this fall. I got a quite a bit put up. And I'm super excited that I am able to can chicken stock. It's so much easier to use and store out of the freezer. I was running out of room in there.

I am still hoping to get some applesauce made this fall. Hopefully this weekend.

Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Originally uploaded by angelajiniel
I'm still here. Things are winding down for the fall a bit so I hope to get back here to blogging soon. There's lots to catch up on and a lot of planning for next year!

My garden was successful I'd say, and I still have few things out there under a cover. I hope to have lettuce until the end of November! But, there are definitely some tweaks needed.

It's cold here, but we are the forecast is in the 60's for this weekend. Hopefully it's enough to get some final things done outside and pack everything else up.

I'm starting a new adventure this month as well. Almost my entire family has gone low-carb in the last few years and had great success with it. Since I've had such a difficult time with my weight since having the Implanon birth control implant put it and no success with the usual working out and watching what I eat, I'm going to try it. If it doesn't work, the implant will be coming out. I'm no longer at a healthy weight and becoming uncomfortable. We'll see.

So look for some frugal, green low-carb recipes this fall and winter. Sadly, I'll have to give up my bread for a while :( And learn to eat more veggies! Wish me luck! Menu planning should be back next week!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Keeping off the frost

Keeping off the frost
Originally uploaded by angelajiniel
Happy October! As it is only suitable, we woke up to frost this morning on October 1:) Unfortunately for me, I only got a couple of tomatoes picked before this happened. Most of mine are still small and hard. I even still have some flowers! I'm hoping I was able to save them all with this covering. From what I could see before I left for work this morning, we are still okay!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I am alive...

Very busy lately, with both work and making my home. Lot's of preserving and getting ready for fall. I'll be back soon, I promise :)

These tomatoes were made into LOTS of sauce!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Adventures in Amish Country

My friend Kira and I left at 6:15 am Saturday morning headed for Berlin, Ohio. The heart of Amish Country in our area (at least the tourist-friendly part). The main purpose for the trip was to stock up on bulk food items and just have a girls day. Both were accomplished!

I left my camera in the car most of the trip because the Amish really don't like to have their picture taken and I didn't want to run the risk of offending anyone. It's a good thing I didn't try, my hands were too full most of the time to have taken a picture anyway!

Alpaca farm on the way there!

Bulk food haul! We also stopped at a Goodwill on the way home and
found the stacking tins you see at the back. After a good washing,
that now houses tea bags, hot chocolate mix and drink mix packets.

Antique store finds: 10" cast iron skillet for...$8!! A $9 meat grinder,
a measuring cup/scoop and a $2 linen tablecloth. It's square and won't
fit my table, but I'm going to make it into napkins :)

Cheese! Both my and Kira's hubby's love cheese. We each got a round of baby swiss.
I got a few other yummy hunks as well. I also found a jar lifter (finally :),
a skinny spatula to replace the cheap one I had and melted and
a stopper for my bottle of cooking wine.

Please pardon the blurry shot. But this is freshly ground peanut butter.
Ingredients: peanuts. We each got a big yogurt tub full that we
ground ourselves from the natural food store.

A 50 lb. bag of wheat flour we got for .39/lb.! How crazy is that!
I'm most likely going to be getting some buckets
so we can split this and store properly.

This is a 20-yd. bolt of brown denim. Pre-washed. I got it for $40!
This was in a remnants and leftovers section at a canvas bag store.
I will be doing our furniture in this as soon as I can :)

I got some "overripe" peaches at a fairly decent price at a stand.
Yesterday I canned them. Some were a little more than overripe, but they worked out.
The pieces I tasted while cleaning the peaches were quite yummy!
My fingernails are also stained orange.

And the "after" shot of my haul from Amish Country. Nicely put in jars and labeled.
This is the fruits of half a day's work. I didn't think it would take that long, but it did!
It took a little maneuvering, but it's now all in my pantry where it belongs.
During our antique store trips, I learned that all these blue jars,
bail jars and old lids I have are worth quite a bit of money!

I will try and get a menu up later today as well. I'm a little discombobulated in the kitchen at the moment and need to get my bearings before I do so. Since we ended up with sloppy joe's Friday instead of Funky Chicken, I'm thinking funky chicken tonight!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Monday

This is my unofficial menu for the week:

Monday - leftover baked chicken quarters with homegrown roasted root veggies
Tuesday - grilled chicken and ceasar salad
Wednesday - Baked potatoes and chili from the freezer (Hubby might end up making chili dogs, he usually does with chili in the summer)
Thursday - Pork Loin Roast from the crockpot
Friday - Dinner with the neighbors! Funky asian chicken and noodles. (This is a new recipe, if it goes over well I'll post it!)
Saturday - Kira and I are heading to Amish Country bright and early and won't be home until late. The men-folk will most likely fend for themselves. I may leave some instructions for dinner (or pizza money :)
Sunday - homemade bbq chicken pizza!

For more Monday Menus visit

Garden Update 8.23.09

Did some harvesting this weekend! But before that, I wanted to give an update to my ginger beer making adventures.

Thursday I finally got around to making the Ginger syrup and putting the starter in it. I had about a gallon of ginger beer brewing. I was mixing it about 3 times a day with a wooden spoon. Last night I got home from spending the evening at my Mom's, starting stirring the brew and the glass broke! It made quite a mess all over the kitchen. Luckily I saved about 1/2 of it, but what I saved is definitely a lot less fizzy that the gallon was before. I'll let it sit for a few more days before I bottle it. We'll see.

I'm not sure why it broke, that's what's bothering me. I wasn't stirring too vigorously, and I was using a wooden spoon! Nevertheless, I busted out a hole the size of a silver dollar right near the bottom of the jar. booh.

But on to the harvest!

Yukon golds and some tendersweet carrot thinnings.
The Yukon Gold tops had all died down, so I harvested these.
This was all I got from 8 pieces. A little disappointing really.
We'll be eating them this week :)

Tested a fingerling carrot. Looks pretty cool, just like a finger!
I let it set out too long, so I threw it in my beef stock this weekend.
It was a little wiggly for eating raw :)

I harvested three of the pumpkins that were ready because
one looked a little juicy. It was already rotting from the mildew.
The other two were okay. I just cut them up and froze them.
Didn't have time to do anything else!

Picked some dried beans too, still not much yet but it's adding up!
I'll probably only get enough for one nice pot of soup,
but that's okay. I'm thinking of doing another bean planting
to put under the cover this fall.

Trimmed some rosemary for drying.

And some green basil too
(this is the basil I took from Kira's garden where the animals
had dispersed them where they shouldn't have belonged).

That's it for now. Hopefully more to share soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Garden Update

More night shots everyone. Things are finally happening in the garden! I hope to get some harvest, clearing and re-planting of fall crops this weekend. No signs of blight yet, thank God, but the powdery mildew is still hanging around thanks to all this nighttime rain we've been having.

The pumpkins are growing up and over the fence,
they're definitely still going strong, at least for the most part.

These two little guys are climbing up the fence.
The bottom one is huge, I think I'm going to give him
some support (and when I say huge, I mean in comparison
to the rest). And I'm not sure why the tiny guys is
already turning orange.

My first carrot! I think this was one of the fingerlings,
I forgot to look! I'm so excited to see one full-size!

I harvested all of the white carrots, and most of them were tiny.
I planted 2-3 seeds per hole and apparently each and every
one came up, really crowding some of them in. Oh well.
They taste very strong and almost peppery. I gave all
but the two largest to Kira for her Guinea Pig.

The white carrot harvest compared to the one orange.
I think I'm going to pull up the rest of the
orange this weekend and put them into storage.

I FINALLY have a paste tomato! I didn't even see the blossoms
for these guys, so I was completely surprised last night
when I saw them! Yeah!

Purple Russian 1

Purple Russian 2

Purple Russian 3. All of the Purple Russians seem to be
quite oddly shaped, but they're supposed to be good!
I'm not holding my breath for a huge tomato harvest.
The four in pots haven't flowered at all yet...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


first potatoes 2009
Originally uploaded by angelajiniel
I am trying out a template from flickr. Blogging directly from here for the first time. Please ignore this post for now. Thank you!

Adventures With Food Preservation

So this weekend Kira and I were worker bees. Saturday would blanched and froze 5 dozen ears of corn, made 3 gallons of chicken stock and made jam out of 6 quarts of strawberries and 2 pints of blueberries.

5 dozen ears of corn, fresh from the farm stand Saturday morning.

shucking away!

corn mountain!

Cutting it off the cob to freeze.

The weatherman told us it was going to be in the low 90's with 95% humidity and above. Luckily it was rainy and overcast all day and maybe hit 85 later on, maybe. We definitely struck gold that day!

6 quarts of strawberries destined to be jam!

Lots of freezer jam cooling in the fridge!

Chicken Stock!!

And, we finally found a source for some inexpensive 55-gallon food-grade barrels. Rain barrels, here we come! If they would've been set up Saturday, I'm sure I'd have all three of mine full already :)

The pumpkin plants still seem to be alive for the moment, and it appears as if my efforts have done some damage to the powdery mildew. I think it's gone now, I think. After hacking away, I sprayed with a baking soda, water and dish soap solution that is supposed to kill it and keep it away. So far so good.

On a very positive note, I would like to report that Hubby is now back to work! Today is his second day on the job with Molten Metal Products, working as a contractor in a local steel mill. And it's only 13 minutes away!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Homegrown Dinner

Well...not completely, but close to it! While making dinner tonight I realized it was almost a 100-mile diet meal. (and no, this isn't what was supposed to be on our menu tonight, but I was using things up!)

Beef stew of sorts with my first potatoes, my green beans, beef stock I made, beef from a local butcher and local meat, noodles from local Amish, some spices from my garden and a carrot from God-knows-where. Like I said...almost. The garlic was also from GKW, but the onion came from a local farm stand :) The butter and olive oil were also not local. I'm half-way there I guess!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adventures with Powdery Mildew

Are pumpkins supposed to be orange and full-grown already? It's August!

Yesterday was a sad day folks. I discovered the white stuff on some of my pumpkin leaves was powdery mildew, and it spread VERY quickly. I had to hack away at my gorgeous plants last night. There are quite a few fruits already set, and one that's already orange! Hopefully there are enough leaves left to keep things going.

All gone...

At least the tomatoes will have some more room now!
I just hope the disease didn't spread to them.

And, I don't know if I should harvest the broccoli head yet or not. It looks like it's gonna start to open quickly, but it's not very big at all. Any advice?