Friday, August 30, 2013

How To Get the Most out of your Fresh Food

I’ve canceled nearly every magazine I subscribed to in the name of sanity. It gets out of control, and really, who has time for that many magazines? It’s not as if my life is overflowing with downtime. Besides, they were piling up in the corner of my kitchen counter and nagging at my conscience. There is no way I could ever read them all, so slowly but surely I’ve stopped re-subscribing. I have to note, though, this does not stop the magazines from continuing to arrive each month with ever more alarming bright paper covers threatening, “THIS IS YOUR LAST ISSUE!” I wish there was someone I could call and say, “Relax, I’m okay with that.”

I still subscribe to a couple that I can’t resist. One of those magazines is Mother Earth News. Mother has
been around since 1970 and has always been ahead of the curve in terms of protecting the environment, sustainable living, and organic food. It’s filled with scientific research, calls to action, and DIY projects for people living in the suburbs of New Jersey to people living off the grid on a hillside in northern Montana. I get a kick out of reading the classifieds in the back too. They appeal to my hippie nature – advertisements for modern day communes, composting toilets, dome homes, and mealworms by the pound. Entertainment value aside, the magazine is chock full of information and directions I trust whether it’s chicken keeping, pressure canning, building your own solar hot water heater, fermenting food, or this month’s feature – how to get more flavor and nutritional value out of your fresh food.

I saw the title and opened to the article, curious to know how you can improve fresh food you’ve already picked. I took it for granted that Mother assumed I was dealing with organic fresh food. The article boasted ten tips. I encourage you to look it up for yourself, but just in case you aren’t a subscriber (what?), I’ll summarize: 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bathroom Etiquette for the Unenlightened (or Deaf)

Do your children listen to anything you tell them to do? They do? Wow. Great for you. You can stop reading now.

My children, on the other hand, tune me out when I give them any direction other than, “Time to eat!” All summer I have grumped around my house muttering to myself about the ungrateful, spoiled residents who can’t be bothered to pick up their rooms or put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. As I retrieved yet another abandoned sock from the center of the living room floor, I flung it with all my strength and gritted my teeth but refrained from spewing the obscenities that pushed at my self-control. With a weary resignation I grabbed the sock, which is not very aerodynamically astute and lay next to my foot, and tromped up the stairs to the laundry room.

I’ve grown tired of my angry, ranting self, as have my children. Or they would if they heard me, but all three seem to have grown permanent ear buds in their ears. Last week, when the stench of rotting towels drew me to their bathroom, I reached my bitter end. The floor was strewn with slowly mildewing towels and clothes lying in the flood left by the last bather. The toilet had not been flushed (ew), the toilet paper holder hung empty, and toothpaste frosted nearly every square inch of the counter that was visible beneath the plethora of hair care products, abandoned flossers, wet washcloths, and tubes of skin creams and make up. Ugh. Gross.

As I maniacally cleaned the bathroom, flinging dirty laundry and empty bottles of shampoo, I searched for a solution. Withhold privileges? Sit them down and explain my expectations and their responsibilities? Remind them that they are not part of the royal family? But they don’t listen to anything I say, I reminded myself. Finally as I sat on the edge of the tub, scrubbing at the moldy grout, I was struck with a moment of brilliance. They don’t listen to anything I say, but they read anything they see!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maybe Not Shakespeare's Hell-Broth...But Better!

                                                                                    William Shakespeare

I’ve always been good about making and saving chicken and beef broth, but this past week I made veggie broth! Well, technically it was corn broth, but it will be a fabulous base for crab soup or corn chowder or any recipe that calls for vegetable broth. If you’ve been too intimidated to make meat broth, this broth won’t scare you a bit.

This time of year you can buy fresh, local corn cheap and nothing tastes yummier in the whole wide world (except dark chocolate and a glass of good red wine…). I harvested our heirloom corn this week which was organically grown, but disappointingly tough and not so sweet. I shucked it and fed the leaves to the horses who thought it might be Christmas come early. Then I blanched the corn in boiling water for two minutes, before plunging it in to a sink full of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. I saved the boiling water to make the broth.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And Now for the Rest of the Story.....

So whatever happened to…..

I know you’ve been wondering and waiting for updates on many of my adventures (just play along with me anyhow), so this post is dedicated to bringing you up to speed.

First off, the Buy Local experiment –
I’m happy to report that we are still buying primarily local, despite the end of our three month challenge to buy exclusively from locally owned businesses. One of the great side effects of our experiment was saving money. We were so laser-focused on only buying what we needed due to the limits of our shopping options that we spent significantly less money. Now that the flood gates are open and we’ve made occasional necessary trips to Wal-Mart and Home Depot, our expenses are right back up there.

I found myself in Wal-Mart recently to allow my youngest offspring to spend the gift card he received at his birthday party. While he agonized over which Lego set to buy (this can take hours and is very much a big part of the joy of Legos), I wandered the aisles. What a mistake! Looking back I wish I had just endured the running commentary on the pros and cons of Bionicles versus Star Wars, instead of setting off for the back of the store to buy quart-size zip lock bags to freeze all the fresh fruit we’d been harvesting.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Half-Review: Happier at Home

Right up front you should know that Happier at Home is basically a second part to Gretchen Rubin’s other book, The Happiness Project. I am a big fan of The Happiness Project. I subscribe to her blog and e-newsletters, co-led a book class on The Happiness Project, and am even leading a women’s retreat this fall about Happiness which will utilize the book. So, I’m biased. I love the subject.

Couple things you should know about Gretchen’s style and writing. First, she is the over-achiever of over-achievers. She gets more done than the average bear, and certainly you and me. She obsesses over things that might not fall on your radar. But – she does her research and her writing is accessible and inspiring, which forgives a lot of sins.

If I asked you right now, “Are you happy?” what would be your answer? Honestly? Are you as happy as you could be? And more importantly (for Gretchen’s purposes) do you appreciate how happy you are and could you be even happier?