Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Local Shopping....

Well, I went shopping on Friday in search of LOCAL foods for my family! I have to admit that I do not always review my food purchases quite so closely. I do on occasion read labels, usually I am looking for a handful of "bad" ingredients that I flat out refuse to have my children eat, that is another whole post in itself so when I get up the courage I will dive into that one. I was pretty amazed at all the things that are available within our 100 mile radius. I was able to purchase so many things that we usually eat. There were crackers and cookies that the children love to eat, great local cheese, milk and all things dairy. Our meat selection well exceeded my expectations and who could complain about the fruits and vegetables we could choose from. I even found a great whole grain flour from our area that is even milled close enough to home, pasta and even some yummy candies! I am making our own bread, ice cream and yogurt along with most of our household cleaning items. I am coming to the conclusion that this is the way we should always eat! Why would we look any farther than our neighbors for the food we need. I realize that there are things we just cannot produce in these neck of the woods. We can either choose to live with out those things or make exceptions and make sure we only purchase organic or all natural items from environmentally responsible companies. I am happy with the new way we are eating, even if we have to do with out some things. The things we are eating now are not only better for us but they are better for our local farmers, small businesses and our environment in general they are just BETTER! We will see how the next few weeks go and I will try and slip in a few recipes in there! Stay tuned.........

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

100 Mile Challenge.....

Okay..... so we decided to go for it! We are taking the 100 Mile Challenge, we will only eat foods produced, grown or raised within a 100 mile radius of our home. You will be amazed at how far that really is, I was. Over the past few years we have incorporated little changes here and there, like eating organic, getting most of our fruits and veggies from our farmers market, using only local hormone and antibiotic free dairy and meats, shopping at our local Co-Op and even making our own laundry soap and bread. I can't say I am satisfied with just these changes, so we decided to take it a few steps further! I figure the closer we can get our food, the better. We are going to incorporate a few exceptions to that rule only because there are things we will NEED that just cannot be located with in that area. We will have flour, grains, tea & coffee on our exceptions list, but they will be organic and/or fair trade. We are also going to try and use as much "household" items that are local or that we make ourselves, but there must be exceptions to that rule also; I haven't found a way to make toilet paper or a local company and we MUST have that!!! I think the most important lessons we will learn from this experience is to not take for granted all the wonderful food we have so close to home and by making a few simple changes in our lifestyle we can have such a huge impact on our surroundings. The benefits seem to be abundant from this challenge, I am hoping it will be life changing for my entire family. I have always said we have become so very lazy in our lives because things are just so easy to obtain. We work less at the important things than our parents and grandparents to gain twice as much, the only problem with that is we are sacrificing quality. We have inferior foods and we don't seem to mind, we are conditioned to believe that we should take a back seat when it comes to the safety of our food. We rely on big companies to supply us with the very things that essentially sustain our lives.....does this seem right? I grew up on a small farm and we always knew where our food came from. If it didn't come from us it came from someone we knew very well. We had a large garden and we ate everything from it, it wasn't a hobby it was a necessity. We had our own cows that we would faithfully milk every morning and evening, not for fun but for sustenance. We raised beef, pork and poultry, not always for pets but for food. FOOD that we took responsibility for, there was a reason behind almost everything we did. It sounds so crazy to say that was such a simpler way of life but it was, simple because we were very clear on what, where and how the very most important thing, FOOD, was coming from. We wonder why there is an alarming rate of obesity in our country, why the rate of Autism is sky-rocketing, why cancer is out of control and why our children are plagued with learning disabilities? Maybe, just maybe if we stopped and really took a look at all the things we put into our bodies we wouldn't wonder anymore. We wouldn't drink straight from the pesticide bottle, so why are we deciding it is okay to consume it on and in our foods? I think that as a society we have begun to take for granted that there will always be a plate full of "something" whenever we want it sitting there waiting for us, but is that the best we can do......to accept "something" when there is so much better from our local farmers? We eat fruits that are picked before they are ripe so they have time to be transported cross country in the back of a truck when down the road we have a small farm that grows that very same thing in their backyard! It seems like a very elementary decision to me to choose the foods that I trust, the foods I really choose, the foods that are not laden with things that can potentially harm me, but most of all my children. We set the example for our children through the choices we make. They watch and learn from every single thing we do. I want to teach my children that they have the power to make a difference and it all starts with a choice, a simple choice that cascades across and affects far more than they will ever realize; those are the choices to make, the simple ones that in the end make the biggest impact. We have begun to take our choices to a new level or a closer level because we know that by choosing local we are in fact doing more than just eating the freshest food we can find, we are empowering our children with the courage and skills to continue to make wise choices that will make the world and their lives better. I am excited to get this challenge started and I can't wait to share our journey. I have a feeling that once we start we just won't want to stop and as far as I can see, why should we ever stop choosing the best!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Change With The Seasons....

I find it pretty funny how we seem to naturally change our food selections with the changing seasons. I know myself, that when Spring pops up I begin to crave leafy greens, sweet melons and strawberries! Summer brings with it all the endless grilled food; hot dogs, hamburgs, then all those vegetables that are making their debut in our gardens and at our farmers markets, big lush salads and don't forget the ice cream! Now that the weather is feeling cooler and the leaves are turning, I start to look forward to baking the warm bread that has turned into a daily ritual for me lately, hardy soups filled to the brim with Bruce & Abbey Potatoes (so my children have named them)! Sunday nights are just begging for a yummy slow cooked meal; like a roast with all the fixings shared with the whole family. This is the time of year that a big cup of tea and a sconce before bed are a must to help insure a cozy nights sleep. Even my choice of scents changes, take for example the lighter scents of summer - cucumber melon, strawberry fields and even fresh cut grass. Fall brings along the warmer smell of spices - Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg then the scents of Pumpkin Spice, Apple Pie and Candy Corn. I love the fact that we are ever changing, in each aspect of our lives. We mentally, physically and emotionally change with each new day and what it brings us. I personally love this time of year and all the warm cozy feelings that come along with Autumn. I tend to want to draw my children and family in closer and spend quiet nights wrapped up in a warm blanket with a fire in the fireplace sipping on some warm spiced cider......what more could you ask for? Coming soon will be the cold crisp days and nights of winter that bring with it rich hot chocolate and candlelight, scents of Oven Fresh Cookies, Christmas Trees, Citrus Spiked with Cloves and Wood Stoves. We will long for warm heavy filling foods, roasted root vegetables and thick hearty stews. Oh all the wonderful changes that come along with each season. I look forward to these changes and hope that I take the time to enjoy every single one, they only come around once a year.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to welcome Fall into my home:

Easy Simmering Spices
2-3 Whole Cinnamon Sticks or Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Whole or Ground Cloves
1 Orange - cut into quarters
2-3 Cups of water

Put all these ingredients into a medium pot and simmer on your stove. (Make sure to check the water level and keep adding more when it gets low!)

Warm Spiced Cider
3 sticks of Cinnamon
2 tsp. Whole Cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2 gallon Sweet Apple Cider
2 c. Orange Juice or 2 Oranges cut into quarters

Tie cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small piece of cheesecloth. Combine with cider in a large saucepan. Simmer 15 - 30 minutes, the longer you simmer the stronger the spice flavor. Remove spice bag. Stir in orange juice & heat until hot. Pour into big mugs and use a Cinnamon Stick as your stirrer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Love My Salad!

I just have to tell you that I have fallen in love with Salad, not your typical green leafy variety. This is a rare mix of Salad; they call it "Art Salad " !
It all started a few weeks ago when we had a guest vendor at the market, Jennifer, who just so happened to be directly across from me that day. I was not able to get over to her tent to take a look at what she was offering and even if I had the opportunity I am not sure I would have been able to fight my way through the crowd. I could see a glimpse of what she had and it was very interesting, her banner was beautiful enough, I could only imagine what the "real" thing was like. Well, much to my dismay, I didn't get to experience it firsthand so I settled for a business card and a look at her website when I got home. Well was I impressed...yes it was love at first sight! How in the world was I suppose to choose?? Each one was just as nice as the next, thank goodness there were only a few pieces offered for ordering or I would still be there trying to decide!
I guess I should tell you that Art Salad is in fact the most beautiful fused glass jewelry, yes JEWELRY!

Some of the pieces remind me of candy, a piece of sweet hard candy that is too pretty to eat! I am not much of a jewelry person, I wear the traditional simple pieces; a wedding ring, a pair of pearl earrings and maybe a necklace (gold chain) if I am going out! I cannot even begin to tell you all the reasons why I needed at least one of these pendants, they are just so darn beautiful! They are the perfect size, they are simple enough to wear with a pair of jeans and a tee shirt but still sophisticated enough to wear with your little black dress to a cocktail party! They are the perfect piece of jewelry! I chose a piece I knew I would wear almost everyday, a pretty Black Sassafras Tree design. It was a safe choice for a person like me who is not very daring when it comes to jewelry.I could not wait for that package to come in the mail, it was well worth the wait, which was really only a few days! When I opened it up - oh did it ever exceeded my expectations! Jennifer you are my hero... you create the most amazing things I have ever laid eyes on. This jewelry grabs your sight and just mesmerizes you, you just can't stop looking at it. My package was packed with a special surprise that soon became my favorite, a pumpkin colored pendant that was so out of the box for me that I feel like a new person every time I wear it and I wear it - OFTEN. I can't wait for my "Jewelry Party", yes you read correct, she will actually bring these little gems to your house for you and all your friends to ogle over while you all enjoy a glass of wine and some great conversation; hopefully there won't be too much fighting over that last pair of earrings!! That will be my next purchase, a nice pair of earrings.....or two! So my advice to everyone is "Go Get Some Salad" - ART SALAD to be exact!!


Where has the time gone? Better yet where was I? I am sorry for being away for almost a month! I am making a concerted effort, almost a true commitment to write a new post at least weekly. I really have lost track of time....I thought I would get better organized after the kids went back to school, but no, I think I have actually regressed! Have no fear I am climbing back up this hill of disorganization and setting some new goals, the ones that will help me get my act together. You truly do not realize how much time has gone by until you start to look at all the things you haven't shared!
Sunday at the market I had the pleasure of chatting with Heather, from Beauty that Moves, about our blogs and how they are a way to "connect" with one another. She made a great point that when you have a business and a blog they are a wonderful compliment to each other, they put a face and a real person with the product you are offering. People really look forward to you sharing a little bit about yourself with them and sharing a glimpse inside your "everyday". I know fist hand how true this is, I love reading her blog and look forward to her photos. It makes me appreciate, even more, the beautiful things she puts her heart and soul into; those beautiful bags! When you read her blog you can see why her things are so simply perfect, they are a reflection of her life. In many ways her blog is a reference, a guide to the way I would like to live my life, and so we come full circle back to the "connection" we feel from the words and pictures that are shared. I can only hope that I can bring that sense of community to my blog and I look forward to the comments we can share.
Buckle up cause here we go......I have made so many really good meals and have some really spectacular things to share from all my Farmers Markets Finds, I may have to post a new entry each day this week just to catch-up.