Thursday, April 28, 2011

In the garden...

Well, I was hoping to have my crops all planted in my new square foot gardens by last weekend. It didn't happen though. Mother Nature didn't seem to get my memo about needing some sunshine!

However, the back corner of our yard that we have had to "renovate" for my project is almost done! We had to pull out an old water feature and pond liner, remove all the rocks (fist sized and larger) and then level the ground for the beds to go on. We got all that done, but the leveling hasn't been the most successful because the ground is very muddy due to all the rain we have been getting. (Doesn't Mother Nature know we need the rain AFTER we do our planting!!!)

But I guess it all worked out okay because my soil, which was delivered yesterday, wasn't mixed to the right formula. We had a slight miscommunication and I ended up with 3 times the amount of peat moss in the mixture. The company has been awesome and they are taking it all back and fixing it up for me, and that gives me a few more days to get my garden leveled and the boxes finished. I am looking for some before pictures, but the after pictures are definitely on their way!!!

Thanks to all the rain that we have been having, I have had a few crops of rhubarb from my garden!

It was delicious stewed with a bit of water and sugar! Although Alicia found it too bitter for her liking :)

The box program has been going well. I am learning to use many vegetables that I didn't know how to use or even what they were!

This was my home made version of a chef's salad. It was on a base of green leaf lettuce, with mizuna and red kale. Then some sliced red pepper, red onion, and celery. Topped with sliced ham and turkey, a hard boiled egg and a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese. It was really good.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!!!

Happy Easter everyone!

My family has had a wonderful day. The kids and I used the resurrection eggs we made at our mom's group to make an Easter tree center piece for our table. It was a wonderful way to teach the youngest about Easter and a great visual and tactile way to review it for my older one.

We then celebrated the rising of our Lord with an Easter egg hunt throughout the house. I was hoping to go outside, but the weather wasn't cooperative today.

Blessings for the day,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Making Homemade first attempt

Ok, so this morning I was trying to plan what to have for supper with our new prime rib steaks we recently purchased. It is such a beautiful day that I wanted to make it into a picnic and what goes better with a picnic than potato salad right? Plenty of potatoes, lots of eggs and onions, and wait for it - no mayo! Shoot now what, I'm thinking that it is Good Friday and nothing is open so this would be the perfect time to experiment and make my own mayo. I remembered seeing this video and it seemed pretty straight forward. Ha, was I ever wrong. I did exactly what Gordon mentioned in the video but mine turned out to be this yellow liquid egg yolk mess (sorry I forgot to get a picture, but trust me it did not look fantastic!).

Annoyed with the results, I scoured the internet for another method. I came across this one. It seemed to be quite reasonable as well. After letting the ingredients sit out for awhile I decided to make a second attempt at homemade mayo. I measured out all the ingredients, found a squeeze bottle and got started.

It honestly did feel like it was going to take forever to add in the oil drop by drop and trust me when I tell you you are very tempted to just squeeze that bottle harder! I should have timed the whole thing, but that slipped my mind. I used my kitchenaid with the whisk attachment because I don't have a hand mixer. Low and behold, after what seemed like an hour or so, the yolk and oil concoction turned into pure, thick yummy looking homemade mayo! Take a look:

Yes indeed, no more liquid egg yolk grossness...BUT my story isn't over yet. As per the instructions, I added 1Tbsp of lemon juice, mixed it in and did a little taste test. The moment the mayo touched my mouth I could feel my whole body reacting to the absolutely disgusting flavour in my mouth! I ran to the kitchen and washed my mouth out with water more than a dozen times! I never thought to check the oil that we recently purchased at the local big box store in Victoria but as it happens the olive oil I used was rancid. Wow, never knew that it could taste SO BAD! After recovering from the shock to my taste buds, I instinctively called Nadine and cried on the phone over the whole thing. Five of my lovely organic eggs wasted, over 3 cups of oil down the drain, for what? I guess through it all I have gained the knowledge and skills to make a thick, creamy homemade mayo for our next picnic potato salad!

Do you have any stories about kitchen experiments gone horribly wrong? I would love to hear that I'm not the only one out there with kitchen nightmares!

Enjoy your long weekend, and don't forget the tremendous sacrifice that Christ has done for us.

Respectfully yours in the kitchen,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I got my CSA box!

Hooray for Wednesdays! Besides being the day we go to our mom's group, it is now also the day I get my box of delicious, nutritious organic locally grown veggies. Check it out!

This box had:
1 bunch of red beats
1 bunch of red kale
1 bunch of sorrel
1 bunch of mizuna
1 bundle of chives
2 large shallots
1/2 lb. of crimini mushrooms
2 heads of green leaf lettuce
1 long english cucumber

So, we thought we would try out a "seasonal" recipe last night. It was a bit challenging just to find something we all agreed on that was wheat free and vegetarian (we had company for dinner) and also dairy free (though i did end up fudging on that a bit. We ended up making a delicious fresh chunky pasta sauce with rice spirals and a Greek salad.

The kids weren't big on the pasta sauce (I'm sure they'll get used to fresher sauces with time) but the adults all liked it and would eat it again! Why don't you try some yourself. Check out the recipe here . Let me know what you think, or any changes that you made to it yourself!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mistake number one...

Okay, so I made an awesome carrot cake today for a special lady's birthday and all throughout the day i kept reminding myself to take a picture. I even phoned Alicia and bugged her about taking pictures of her doings today. And what did I do? I forgot to take a picture! And there aren't even any leftovers to capture...

The cake was delicious though! I got the recipe from a blog i recently found called Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Not only was it moist, delicious, and had pineapple in it, but it was GLUTEN FREE! Definitely worth making again. And really, who doesn't love cream cheese icin

Click here for the recipe .

Monday, April 18, 2011

We got our meat!

So, here is what 155 pounds of beef looks like:

We got:
18 lbs. of ground beef
13 lbs. of bones
7 lbs. top round roasts
7 lbs. of prime rib
6 lbs. of chuck steak
6 lbs. bottom round roasts
5 1/2 pounds of short ribs
5 1/2 pounds of t bone steaks
5 lbs. of stewing beef
4 lb. cross rib roast
4 1/2 lb. sirloin tip roast
3 pounds of top sirloin steaks
1 1/4 lbs. of tenderloin

Now if you're a math person, you know that doesn't add up to 155 pounds, it's actually around 86 pounds. We called the farmer to verify (as it is our first time buying this way and we weren't sure). The half of the cow we claimed as our own weighed 155 pound hanging. After being butchered you end up with 65-75% of that weight in cuts. We are also entitled to the innards (ie. the tongue, the liver), but we passed.

Our meat is a mix of Angus, Limousin and Hereford. They are raised without hormones, not fed any animal by products, they are grass raised locally on over 100 acres of hay fields. They have free range weather permitting. This farm is basically organic, except for the treated wood in the fence :) Gotta love politics and paperwork!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Program in a Box

It's Alicia writing here...

I have been thinking a lot lately about eating locally and supporting our local farmers and the economy. But in all honesty, I hadn't put that to practical use until 3 weeks ago. I was reading the local paper when I came across an article about Local Farms Delivery. The thought behind this program was to support local farmers while eating farm fresh produce that was either in season or produce that could be stored over winter months. I called the same day and ordered my first 4 boxes.

I waited expectantly on the first Monday for the delivery. My patience began to wear thin when the box hadn't been dropped off by 9am...but that's just because I was super excited and I was hoping to wake up at 7:30, open my door and find a box full of wonderful goodies! It finally arrived around 2:00pm, just as I was leaving to pick up my oldest from school. I quickly glanced in the box and to my shock there was a bunch of unrecognizable leafy greens..oh no! But no worries my nearby friend had a produce guide which quickly identified the greens as Rapini or Broccoli Raab

The box also contained carrots, apples, potatoes, leeks, red onion, a few cooking onions, parsnips, 1 dozen brown eggs, and 1 loaf of organic homemade bread. Just by looking at it I wasn't sure if it was worth the $40 I paid for it. So... I went to the local Thrifty's to do a price comparison. To my surprise there was a $16.00 difference - my box being the better price.

So now I'm on to my third box. It has been a journey trying to figure out what to do with the vegetables. I discovered that Rapini is ok in pasta, however we do not like the stems. My husband ate the stir-fry containing a bunch of Kale that we received the second week.

This morning I diced up 8 cups of fresh Rhubarb and prepared it for the freezer (I know, I should probably eat it fresh but I honestly don't have time this week to deal with it!). Nadine and I have been looking into other box programs because there have been a few downsides to this one. First off, I know that apples aren't in season but if I do find them in my box I would hope they weren't as beat up as some of the ones I've seen this past month. I am also more than capable of making my own bread every week. So, we will keep you in the loop as far as the food box programs go. In general though I do think that the food box idea is terrific. It gets you eating locally and in season which I am very grateful for, not to mention that we are actually eating more leafy greens!

Just out of mere curiosity, do you try to eat seasonally? What determines what you buy in the store? Price? A menu plan for the week?


Where's the beef?

For those of you who don't remember, there was an old ad for Wendy's with a funny little old lady complaining about the size of her beef patty and the well known slogan "where's the beef" was born. Check out the ad here.

What is the point of this? Well, us two hens have been discussing meat for quite some time now. When looking at our food budgets, meat is a huge expense. And, thanks to Jamie Oliver, we are now starting to question what is in our meat and where does it come from? If you haven't ever seen his show, I'm not that far ahead of you! I watched my first episode last night and was absolutely disgusted by what I learned! (For those of you in Canada, check out to watch it online free.)

So again, what is the point of this? Well, I've never put too much thought into my options when it comes to meat. What we have locally is basically whatever we have at the 3 closest grocery stores right?! WRONG! There are a lot of options! So, we started shopping around. We have a local farmers market that sells a lot of produce and a lot of locally raised grain fed meat! While that is awesome, that type of meat can come with a hefty price from $4 a pound for ground beef to $10 a pound (on sale) for t-bone steaks! Is this type of meat worth the price? I'm sure it is...but on our budget for my family, it is just more than we can afford. So, we found an alternative! Through a friend we heard about a local farm that raises their cows in open pastures and are fed on the grass of the fields. They are locally slaughtered and then sold in large quantities for a good price.

My first reaction was, "yeah right, a 'good' price". So, we did some more searching around and called the farm today. They sell their beef for $3.50 a pound! And you can get ground beef, roasts, stewing beef, steaks (and if you are lucky, bones for making soup). So what did we do?

We bought half a cow!!!!!

We get to pick up our meat today so we'll show you then what we got then. I am so excited though because when i went through and worked it out this is a really cheap, healthy way to get local meat! They do their next round of sales in October, so our 75 pounds of beef (each) needs to last us six months. That means we have about 3 pounds of beef a week to eat and it only cost us $12.50 a week. And there is no pink sludge in any of the meat! (Watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution).

I still have to look into the FDA approvals for Canada regarding the pink sludge, but I did ask the ever so uncomfortable question to the farmer who raised our cows. "What goes into your ground beef?" He wasn't really sure what I was asking. But I know that it is all the left over scraps of meat from the butchers cutting and the butcher grinds it on site so I'm not worried about it being sent out to be centrifuged, washed in ammonia and then added as filler to my ground beef.

So, stayed tuned for pictures of our beef and many delicious recipes as we learn to cook with cuts of meat that we wouldn't usually buy (due to their high cost). And for interest sake, let us know where you get your meat; do you go to your grocery store or buy from somewhere local?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New Beginning

Well, where to start something is always the hardest choice. Especially when there is a wide open slate and each choice you make could determine the direction you head.

In the past I have been a chronic unblogger; you know, one of those people who will start a blog, spend hours making it beautiful, write two or three great entries, get everyone sucked into their lives and musings and then forget in a week that the blog even exists.

So, I now have a partner in crime! Perhaps with the two of us we can keep on top of it and remind each other that all of you are actually interested in the crazy antics that we get up to in our kitchens!

So, welcome! We are two hens in the kitchen! Our goal is to share with you the journey we have started with our families to becoming healthy and self sufficient in as many ways as possible. What on earth would inspire us to do such a thing? We both love cooking, we want to feed our families good food that is good for us and the earth and we want to do it cheaply! And the more we looked into possibilities, the more we have learned about all the different areas of life where we can have more control over what we use and where it comes from.

As with all journeys, ours is bound to be filled with bumps and bruises, but we will share it all! The good times, the bad times, the funny stories so you can live, learn and laugh with us too :)