Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New phone = more post...hopefully

So for my birthday this year my husband bought me a smartphone (it's a windows phone, little buggy but fun) and I just found this app to post to my already established blogs :). So this post wont be too long but I'm happy to have more options!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nothing Beats Bread!

So I've been reading about traditional cooking and I was surprised about this new technique used to make bread.

Of course I believe that whole grains were better for you, even if some traditionalist don't think so, but wheat was really doing a number to my sweet baby's system. I thought sourdough was the only way to go, and from this post you can hear me complaining about the time and care it took to make one loaf of bread.

Then there was "soaking".

After finding another traditional living website, KitchenStewardship.com, I stumbled on to this FREE gem of an ebook there. All I had to do was sign up for a once-a-month newsletter (no problem!).

In her post here she explained how and why to soak whole grains. Here are a couple of little excerpts I've taken from that post.

The Why:
The Basic Science Behind Soaking Grains
  • Grains are seeds. (All this information therefore, pertains to legumes, nuts and seeds as well.)
  • Seeds are meant to pass through the system relatively undigested so they can be planted elsewhere (think in nature).
  • To make it possible for seeds to pass through undigested, there are some anti-nutrients built in to make them difficult to digest.
  • Seeds also need to be preserved until the time is right for sprouting, so they have certain compounds that stop the active enzyme activity of germination.
  • These compounds also serve to hinder active enzyme activity in your digestive system.
  • Beginning the sprouting process makes seeds more digestible and help your system obtain all the nutrients in the food.
  • “Soaking” grains is one way to mimic the sprouting process

Added Bonus: This process begins to pre-digest the grains, including breaking down complex starches and tannins that can irritate your stomach, as well as beginning to break down proteins like gluten. For some, this reduces gluten sensitivity (like it did for Nugget!)..

The How:
Soaking your whole grains…
  1. in water (warmer than room temp, ~100-110 degrees or so)
  2. with an acidic medium added
  3. at room temperature or above
  4. for 12-24 hours

Ok that doesn't sound too hard does it?
Heck no, compared to sourdough!

So instead of trying out her bread machine recipe out from the ebook first I decided to reformulate one of my favorite bread machine recipe, Light Whole Wheat Bread (it has a small amount of all-purpose flour that I plan to use unbleached and unbromated flour), from this book:

You can find the recipe on page 69 if you have the book, but here it is and my adjustments:

Light Whole Wheat Bread (Mix Recipe Option)
(I use the Medium size option because it make the best
 size for our family and I believe it will work in most machines)

Mix with a pastry cutter or a whisk real well:
3c whole wheat flour
1 1/3c white flour (unbleached and unbromated)
2t sugar (I used a natural cane sugar)
2T fat (well it was butter but I only had shortening :P)
I then put this in a Foodsaver bag along with a little packet that had two compartments with:
1 1/2t yeast
2t salt
See the little packet of yeast? :)

To use:
Set aside 1/4c of the flour mix and the yeast/salt packet. Stir the rest of the mix in the bread machine pan with -
1 3/4c liquid
It calls for water but because we need to help the soaking process along I have used up to the full amount with buttermilk. If you want a less tangy tasting bread you can use water and only replace at least 2T with buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, or even kefir!)

Next put the 1/4c of the mix you set aside on top of the dough. Make a well in the flour and put the salt and yeast in it (we don't want these two ingredients to be in contact with the dough just yet because they will hinder the soaking process)

Fresh bread tomorrow, YAY!

Set it in your bread machine for a least 12 hours or what I like to do is leave it overnight and then in the morning I turn the machine on - use the basic/normal setting and medium crust (I only have the option of light or dark and dark did just fine)

Here is a picture of a loaf that is almost gone -

It slices so nicely once its cooled!

It rises better then a 100% whole wheat bread and I think it has a better mouth feel too. Also I feel that the small amount of white flour (unbleached and unbromated) and its taste and texture is worth it not being 100% whole wheat.

Remember this bread will go bad long before store bought, but I haven't had the trouble of not eating before then! :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Small Shopping Trip

This trip was just to pick up some few things to tide me over until my next big shop. (I usually shop for 2 weeks worth of food for 2 1/2 people.)

This was from Kroger, a local store, and I saved $.40 ($.20 for each dairy product) using my loyalty card! :)

Total: $15.07 - $13.95 before tax

$4.09  -  1/2 gal Buttermilk - I've been making a soaked bread recipe every other day using this.

$2.99  -  1 gal Whole milk

$2.00  -  2 Hass Avocados - I mash this up with a little lemon juice and EVOO for a spread for Nugget's toast
$4.87  -  1lb. Ground beef - just regular, not enough planning, and I needed something for dinner

Got (Whole) Milk?

Ok, I didn't have time to run to Earth Fare like I wanted to, to pick up some low-pasteurized whole milk, so I went on a quick trip to Kroger.

All of the "healthy" and organic brands of milk were ultra-pasteurized, I might as well keep giving Nugget formula then that denatured stuff.

Anyway I picked up a store-brand gallon of what I thought was plain whole milk.


Ingredients: whole milk, skim milk, vitamin D

Why not just add water?!?!?

$ 2.99 ($.01 cheaper then skim, go figure.)

Reading labels:
Priceless. But in my defence I was in a rush to get home because DH had to go to work and Nugget was home napping.

Anyone else buy something they thought was good at the store and realized at home it wasn't?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Menu 6/21-6/30

Here is my honest menu.

I am posting again this week because this post was made as a menu plan that I was going to make regardless if it was online or not and I thought that everyone reading this blog would like to see how I working at eating more traditionally.

When I bought all these groceries the lady who was checking me out commented on how healthy all my choices were. :) But I could to better!

I've tried hard to make these meals follow as closely to my ideals of removing processed junk, adding healthy fat, preparing grains properly and making them easy.

A lot of these meals I prepared ahead of time and froze - I'll let you know how they turn out! :)

Ok here they are (and sorry I don't have pictures for everything. I'll add them later when I make these recipes again!)

21] Cheesy-Beefy Pasta - made before and Honey likes it :)

  • Whole Wheat pasta (soaked 8 hrs with 1T apple cider vinegar - drained, rinsed, and then boiled, for less time of course.) 
  • Pasta sauce - bottled from the store. Remember real life here! :) I added 1/2lb of ground beef/pork sausage. Almost bought grass-fed beef but it wasn't in the budget. 
  • Mozzarella cheese - low moisture, skim. Next time I buy cheese it'll be full fat and hopefully fresh!
  • Frozen Veggies - heated with a little olive oil. 

22] Breakfast for Dinner! :)

  • Eggs - just regular eggs that I have on hand
  • Bacon - low-sodium. I can't have bacon any other way now.
  • Pancakes - leftover from the oatmeal pancakes!
  • Hash-browns - homemade! (grated, blanched, and then froze 2lb of potatoes!)

23] Leftovers! - meals from 6/20 (Shepard's pie), 6/21 or 6/22

24] Squash Soup

  • Butternut Squash - cut in to cubes 
  • Garlic, Ginger, S+P - cooked with the squash in the pressure cooker
  • Chicken Broth - water and Better then Bouillon - eh, better then just water for flavor. 
  • Chicken - leftover and frozen from Honey Mustard Chicken (w/out sauce)

25] Roast Pac - everything was frozen together in a Foodsaver freezer bag!

  • Beef roast - :) just regular beef and real life!
  • Carrots - part of the 2lbs of carrots I peeled, chopped, blanched, packed with the beef then frozen
  • Potatoes - same as the carrots only I processed 10lbs! = 4c mashed potatoes (Shepard's Pie), 2lb hash browns, and the rest 1in cubes
  • Beef bouillon - salty and has MSG but I have nothing else!

26] Pizza bread

  • Bread slice - light buttermilk bread - soaked with some white flour (I still plan on buying white flour and using it partially in my bread baking for the time being) 
  • Pasta sauce - same as in the pasta meal
  • Chicken - leftover and frozen from Honey Mustard Chicken (w/out sauce)
  • Cheese - same as in the pasta meal

27] Leftovers! - meals from 6/24, 6/25 or 6/26

28] Sweet'n'Sour Pork - this is the most compromising meal, but my Honey loves it!

  • Pork - regular. Coated with cornstarch, dipped in egg and then pan fried in all meat shortening
  • Sauce - 3/4 cup sugar (white, I didn't want to use the pure raw cane sugar I have in this but I could have), 4 tbs ketchup (one day I'll make fermented!), 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (I could have used ACV but I don't know how much that would have changed the flavor), 1 tbs soy sauce (I want to buy a more fermented brand, like this one), and 1 tsp garlic salt - The Healthy Home Economist had this Teriyaki sauce recipe that looked good. I might try it instead next time  
  • Fried rice - rice, eggs, mixed veggies, sweet'n'sour sauce, and all meat shortening

29] Stew Pac - everything was frozen together in a Foodsaver freezer bag (SHOPPING DAY!)

  • Beef roast pieces - cut from beef roast
  • Mushrooms - leftover from Beef Stroganoff
  • Carrots - from roast process
  • Potatoes - ditto
  • Celery - washed, chopped, blanched, frozen with everything
  • Stew Mix packet - a packet that has spices and cornstarch ( and MSG : P)

30]Leftovers or Pizza bread (Anything left!)

Other meals we had this month (excluding leftovers and going out for Fathers Day on Saturday):

Beef Stroganoff 

  • Beef roast pieces - cut from beef roast
  • Mushrooms - sliced baby portabella
  • Sauce - onion, beef bouillon (: P), flour, beef fat, sour cream, AND 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup. I was so sad I had to add this but the beef bouillon I have is crap and I accidentally add way to much sour cream and the sauce was runny. Oh well. 
  • Noodles - whole wheat. Didn't think to soak.

Spicy Shepard's Pie

  • Ground beef - regular 
  • Mixed veggies
  • Sauce - leftover 1/2 can of soup because I'm not going to waste it and a roux made with the fat from the cooked ground beef, flour and 2 cups milk. I added 7 drops of After Death hot sauce for a nice spicy kick!
  • Crust - mashed potatoes (from mass process earlier), 1 egg and extra milk

Honey Mustard Chicken (*****) Five Star!

  • Chicken thighs - marinated in (heaven): 1/3c whole grain mustard, 2 T. honey, 2 t. italian seasoning (no salt or MSG :),1 t. paprika, 1 T. lemon juice, and 2 T. AC vinegar and enough buttermilk to cover. Marinate overnight. Take chicken out of marinade, put in a 9x13 baking dish, drizzle with olive oil. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 min then uncover and cook 30 min longer. Chicken is done at 175 degrees or when juices run clear!
  • Sauce - more whole grain mustard, honey and some of the tasty stock that the came off the chick after it cooked, boiled down to a thick heavenly sauce!
  • Spinach - wilted to help with iron absorption 
  • Potatoes - cubed (from mass process earlier) roasted with some chicken fat until browned

Chicken Noodle Soup - OMG this is tasty! Another (*****) 

  • Chicken - frozen from leftover Honey Mustard Chicken (w/out sauce)
  • Stock - sad story: I dropped the container that was holding my chicken stock from the Honey Mustard Chicken! Lost every drop! So I saved up the bones from each thigh and cracked them open, added them and leftover chicken skins to a pot with a little Better then Bouillon, water and Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb. Brought to a boil then covered and simmered for 45 min. Fished out the bones and skins. Then added the chicken and boiled the noodles in the stock. Added the carrots last because they were par-cooked 
  • Carrots - from mass process
  • Noodles - whole wheat - didn't think to soak

Here was the rough shopping list:

buttermilk (bread and pancakes)
sour cream

(you can stretch  these pretty far and have leftovers!)
beef roast (3lbs divided - 2 lbs cut into cubes 1lb left whole. I did this myself, but you could ask your butcher)
chicken thighs (I don't remember the weight :(  )
pork chops
1 lb ground beef 
low-sodium bacon

frozen mixed veggies
butternut squash

whole wheat pasta - egg noodle and spiral

Things I had on hand:
Mrs. Dash
garlic and garlic salt 
soy sauce
hot sauce
whole wheat flour
pasta sauce
vinegars (white and apple cider or ACV)
canned cream of soup : P

A rough guess is that I spent about $140-150, but that is including non-food items so I'm not 100% sure!
Next shopping trip/menu post I write I'll include:
  1. Actual costs
  2. Breakfast and Lunch menu
  3. and a better recipe format ( I think I just post each recipe separately and link them on the menu post) 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Note to My Politicians (from Girl In An Apron)

I just had to post this!

A Note to My Politicians

(from Girl In An Apron)

Hear me now:
Your pursuit for safety is as false as your concern for our health.
While you shake hands and lie in bed with chemical producers
and drug distributors
you cry out in the name of food safety,
to pasteurize, bleach, boil, package and inject
everything which passes our lips.
You can't serve it raw
because it is too dirty and dead.
You have never worked in real soil.
You have never washed earth off your food before preparing it.
You have never shaken sleepy bees from dewy blooms early in the day.
You are afraid of people who eat from their garden,
because their minds
are still their own.
Kill the small farmer.
Then sell us drugs
and flu shots.
Give us antidepressants.
Tell us to wear sunscreen and never go out into the sun.
Eat from a bag
or box
that's sealed and clean.

No I won't vote for this.
I have cast a different ballot,
and it is waiting at the end of my fork,
seared rare,
and dripping with unpasteurized cream sauce.
My hens will continue to lay warm eggs right into my fry pan
without your permission first.
I will give what little is left of the diminishing American dollar to my neighbor
in exchange for pastured pork
and raw milk.
I will spend time collecting seeds.
I will use butter liberally.
I will go out in the morning to harvest.
I will not drink your corn syrup.
I do not want your sterilized meat.
I don't want your drive-thrus and chains.
In the name of all that is patriotic,
I will drink milk straight from the happy cow.
Keep your red #40,
your food safety modernization act,
your myths.
Smoke your cigars and drink your scotch.
Sign your papers.
Your "safe" food
is a life lived behind bars.
If this is safety
keep it.
What you need
is some real food
my dear,
fear ridden
What you need
you will find
in raw milk cheddar
melted over homemade sourdough.
What you need
waits at the bottom
of a tall glass
brimming with handcrafted beer.
You will find peace
in slow roasted root vegetables,
dipping your crisp
pastured bacon
into your poached fresh egg.
Slurp a raw oyster
fresh from the sea.
Pass the butter.
Smell the herbs.
Drizzle the honey.
Break the bread.
I welcome you
to my renegade table,
my hungry politician.
But be prepared
to become
by the light.

What Nugget Eats

The other day talking to my mom, she asked if I would post menus of what I've been making. So I thought what the easiest way to do this? And I thought I'll just keep a list of what we've been eating and then just separate junk (yes we're not perfect yet) and give you ideas for meals. :)

Here is what Nugget typically eats:
B: yogurt, fruit, 1/2 serving soaked or sourdough bread product (soaked pancakes, sourdough pancakes, soaked bread - you get the idea) (some days eggs - though she wont eat them without ketchup, crazy kid)

L: milk (its formula as I write this but I am getting low- pasteurized whole milk today), leftovers, or a peanut butter or a cheese sandwich (but sometimes she doesn't want to even eat lunch), 100% veggie jar baby food

D: milk, and what ever we eat - ex. we had pizza yesterday (buttermilk bread slices, pasta sauce, pepperoni, and cheese) and I just cut it up - another time we had Honey Mustard Chicken with potatoes and spinach and after a chop she ate it up. 

I know I could do so much better! I would really like to give her a variety of grains, more veggies, more pro- and pre- biotic foods and purer fats, dairy and meats.

But, I can see it is so much better then just a few weeks ago:

B: baby oat cereal (it had soy ingredients), a jar of applesauce

L: same as B but with a jar of a veggie 

D: same above, maybe some of the meat we were eating.

Yes it does take more time to cook like this (but I think I'll get faster as I learn) but it is worth the benefit to my family and myself! I've noticed as I've been preparing my bread products in a way to lower the phytic acid (through soaking, souring and one day I'll try sprouting!) and adding more fat in my diet I've stop losing my hair! My energy levels are so much higher, and I can do so much more (I do think however I need to spend less time on my computer. Even researching this new way to live online and writing this blog is taking time and energy I could be applying to my life!)

I hope this helps you see that just a few changes (and even those were added gradually) can make a profound impact.

(As of today I've decided that I will only post on this blog once a week to give me more time to live!)     

Monday, June 18, 2012

Oatmeal Pancakes and the Future

Oatmeal Pancakes :) Soaked too!
The tasty and warm breakfast treat!


"Whats in that bowel?"

"Oatmeal pancake batter that is soaking."

"Why do you have to ruin pancakes by putting oatmeal in it?!?"

"They aren't ruined, they taste really good. Trust me I've had them before."

"I hate oatmeal."



"Why do I put up with this man?"

because the man doesn't make or bake anything harder then heating a can of soup he didn't have a choice.

(The future part of the post is this: I wanted to do it in this post but I can't yet; I want to write how much it cost me to make all of my recipes. I live in the southeast USA so you might have lower or higher prices, but I want to show that you can eat better and still budget! I'll update the posts as I make the recipe again.)

I found this recipe at multiple websites so I'm not going to link it anywhere.

Oatmeal Pancakes 

2 cups dry oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat, spelt, or buckwheat flour (Yeah! I had a itty bitty tiny bag of ww flour in the freezer!)
2 cups buttermilk 
2 medium eggs
2 tablespoons coconut oil (I used all meat shortening - one day coconut oil, one day!)
1/4 – 1/2 cup whole milk (I just used more buttermilk)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
(optional - I added blueberries! Yum!)
The night before, combine the oatmeal, flour and buttermilk in a large bowl. Stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and set overnight. 
(Now some sites said that you could put this in a blender and liquefy it if you want - I didn't, but I might try it out next time.)
The next morning, add the eggs, oil, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Stir together. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk till it’s a good pancake consistency. Mix until just combined.
Fry the pancakes on a hot, buttered griddle. They’re ready to turn when the top side is bubbly and puffed up and looks cooked around the edges.
Brown the second side and transfer to a plate. (I kept mine warm in the oven) Continue until all of the batter is used up.
Serve with lots of real butter and maple syrup. 
This recipe serves about six.

The itty bitty bag of ww flour I had!

The batter all mixed up after soaking over night.



"So Honey how do you like the pancakes?"

"They're ok I guess."

"Would you like them better if you couldn't feel the oats?"


"Ok next time then. :) "

I saved the extra in the freezer, I just put the pancakes, single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer and once they were hard I vacuum sealed them

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What Got the Ball Rolling

What got me searching for healthy recipes and making sourdough and wholesome homemade traditional foods?

One word: Poop.

Yes poo. You see my daughter (who I've been lovingly calling Nugget) has always had a hard time when it comes to her, ahem, voiding.


After 6 grueling months of breastfeeding (she had a severe case of being tongue-tied, and I had circulatory problems in my breasts) we started her on baby cereal and commercial formula. Now the Nugget loves food, so much so that she would put away 1/2 c of food in one sitting at 7 months if we'd let her. We were so excited that she was finally gaining weight!

But then it happened. We knew that she usually didn't have a BM everyday and might even go a couple of days, but a few months after starting food and formula she was going less and less.

One day, after 12 days with nothing, which the Dr. said was normal, she started to strain really hard. Oh that was the worst sight - it wasn't a cute little push to get things going, no she was in pain and a lot of it. She even was starting to bleed a little.

After a tearful call to her Dr. and a quick appointment she was given both a stool softener and a suppository. A few hours later and with some help from me a large, hard poop came out. I was relieved, but now I was on a mission to fill her with fiber every time I could!

But even with the increased fiber she would still get a bad day when she'd need some more medicine (The Rx for her softener was a GIANT bottle).

One of those bad days happened when we went to visit my mom in GA. My mom had been having some really bad stomach pains and I believe she had some blood tests that confirmed gluten intolerance. So when she heard about Nuggets troubles and that even with fiber she was still constipated, she told me some interesting things about how a lot of babies who start eating wheat get severe constipation.

Well I kinda blew that off at first, because come on its easier to feed a baby ready-to-eat bread and crackers then find the gluten free kind or make them.

Then a few weeks ago Nugget had a REALLY constipated day, almost as bad as the first time. I was so angry at myself, I had been feeding her regular bread and cold cereal even though I really did think my mom had something right about the gluten.

That self-anger spurred me to search for gluten free recipes. I wasn't going to let my laziness or fear hurt my baby!

Then I found the blog written by The Healthy Home Economist. She had a recipe for gluten free pasta substitute using sweet potatoes.
I started to read the site more, watch some of the videos she had done and even went off on an Internet tangent searching the GAPS diet. (I loved this post about why we should be eating grains, prepared traditionally of course, even after the GAPS diet)

So for the past week or so Nugget (and my self) have had slow rise sourdough bread and buttermilk soaked bread in place of regular bread. No crackers or cold cereal. More good fats with our meals. Less formula and more water. (As soon as I can find "real milk" she's getting it!)

And you want to know what happened? Oh this is a great story.

I had to leave for work a few days ago. Hubby was going to watch the Nugget. Two hours into work I get a distress call.

"She has pooed EVERYWHERE! Did you even check her before you left?!?!? (I left the house early, I did check, she was clean)  It's like she pooed 3 TIMES her usual!"

"Just put her in the shower."


"I'll clean it up when I get home, I promise."

"K."   click

One more hour later.

"She pooed AGAIN!"  remember he's not used to changing poopy diapers cause she hardly poos.

"Is it diarrhea?"

"No, but she doesn't usually poo this much!"

"She's ok, I've been feeding her healthier."

"gag sounds"

"I gotta get back to work hun."

"more gag sounds" click

Its been a few days since that out-flow and she has now been having a regular, soft BM every morning. :)

I am now convinced that we need to continue to research a more traditional eating lifestyle if only so my baby can poo happy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Position on Vaccines

First off let me say I do vaccinate my child. I work in public service and often the people around me are sick.
If I ever brought home a disease that could have been prevented and give it to my sweet baby I would be very upset and angry.

That being said I think that vaccines need to be viewed as a tool - and the best analogy that comes to mind is a whip.

Let me explain: You use a whip to get an animal in motion. Vaccines help whip your immune system up and teach your body to produce antibodies.

Now I was reluctant to vaccinate my infant daughter, because vaccines are a "one size" type of thing and the Nugget had a very tiny immune system. (picture a baby animal whipped along with an adult sized whip) :(

But through my research and prayers, I believe that any risk of vaccinating on the prescribed schedule far out weighed the risk of a potentially crippling disease.

If I could have stayed home all the time with my daughter and stayed away from the large groups of people I  was around I think I would have waited and given her body more time. But I the I know the Lord will protect those who do all in their power to do the right.

(This whole post came on after I read this article at thehealthhomeeconomist.com)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sourdough and Pickles!

And a little of my philosophy. :)
But first the sourdough!
A week ago a good friend gave me an Alaskan starter that had been in her family for awhile (she claims it is 100 yrs old!) and I decided after reading a lot about souring grains to make them more digestible that I would try my hand at a slow rise sourdough. (I used the recipe found here. Good instructions, but I should have written it down. I forgot to add the extra water)

It was like having another kid to feed! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner it got a scoop of all-purpose flour (AP flour worriers wait for the philosophy part) and a little water.
Then another day of feeding every 3 hours! Then adding fat, flour, water (if you read it right : P), and kneading.
Bread today right? Nope :) In the fridge it goes to digest some more gluten all sorts of other good, sour stuff. FOR 24 HOURS. At least it doesn't need a babysitter.
Take that chilled puppy out and knead again then rise (sounds more like it!) and bake.

Here is the glorious bread:

Yes it was dryer and therefore had a thicker crust then it should have, but it was still crazy tasty!
The Nugget loved gnawing the crusts with her apple too.

(next time I'll take pics of the whole process and more of the Nugget)

Next on the agenda - Pickles!

OMG! I love pickles with an unhealthy love. Now I have yet to try a fermented pickle and these are a quick brine ones, but one day I will!

I had the brine recipe just thrown together from tidbits I found online and random spices :) My hubby calls that "Fringe" cooking. I'll put the recipe at the bottom along with my version of the sourdough, but first look at these bad boys! (the cukes came from someone at church, don't know who - just on a table saying free cukes for pickles.) 

I didn't have canning lids so I used some parchment paper I had : P. My life is improv.

I think I've died and gone to heaven!

Couldn't wait the few days that it takes for them to get all the flavor. Still better then store bought!

A quick thought on my philosophy and then recipes!

(A FYI - This blog is my journy to eating and living a more healthy and traditional way, even if it is a little "crunchy")

I live in the real world. I work on-call (way less then part-time), and my husband has his own (barely getting by) business. I eat fast food (less then a year ago though), watch TV and surf the Internet.

I am also not dead or have a body rotting disease and my daughter and husband love me.

I can only do what I can with what I have and what I know. 

If you are reading this and think that I'm some lady with a ton of time on her hands and a lot 'o' bucks, think again. I had to wake up at 5am to have that bread ready today and those cukes were FREE!

Of course I would like to have whole wheat that I could sprout then dry and grind. Of course I'd like to have had fermented pickles. I would also like to have Alice from the Brady Bunch.

But you know what? The long slow rise that my sourdough had made that bread so much better for me and my family. And I KNOW exactly what was in my pickles.

If you are afraid to change remember this - even if you can only do one thing and even only just today, you are still doing something better and it will affect you. Do not get discouraged - I promise you I used to be a freaking perfectionist and wouldn't do anything unless I could do it full force. But now I know that just leads to burn out and loss of progress. Remember you are not behind and that you can do it!

Ok recipes:

Refrigerator Pickles

2 lbs pickling cucumbers (I'm not sure if you can use other types, but I would try)
Brine: For every quart of water - 3/4c vinegar and 1/4c salt (I had distilled white vinegar and kosher salt)
I did 2 quarts of water, so - 1 1/2c vinegar and 1/2c salt
Spices (I just threw in a small hand full minced garlic, 1t whole caraway seeds and 1T dried dill)

Put the brine and spices in a pot and set to boil. Clean the cukes and jars you plan to use. (I should have sterilized mine but oh well : P) Packed the cukes in the jars and pour the boiling hot brine over the pickles. Cover and put in the refrigerator. Full flavor in a few days but I wont tell if you have one once its chilled!

Slow-Rise Sourdough Bread

From: www.rejoiceinlife.com I would really stress you to go to the site and read the whole page!
Makes one small loaf.

4 cups wholemeal flour. (1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.)
1/2 cup of sourdough starter.
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
25 grams of lard, beef fat or butter.
2 cups water.

Sourdough Starter
Feed-up a sourdough starter 3 times a day with a little flour, for one day prior to using it.

Make the Sponge
Mix with a wooden spoon in a glass bowl 1/2 cup flour with the starter, then mix in enough water to make a thick soupy batter. This is called the sponge. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place (28C) for about 4-5 hours to prove. The starter should double in size. If you use a glass bowl you will be able to see the formation of gas bubbles in the gluten. (1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.)

Mix in another half cup of flour with the sponge and put aside to prove for another 3 hours, then add another 1/2 cup of flour and leave for another 3 hours. (1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.)

 Feeding the sponge every 3-5 hours will increase the activity of the yeasts. The fermentation times will be dependent upon the temperature of the sponge and the microflora in your starter culture. If you need to add additional water then do so, but be careful not to make it too wet.

Make the Dough
When the sponge is ready dissolve the salt in 1/2 cup of water (I missed this part) and add it to the sponge, then mix in the fat. Then add the final amount of flour called for in the recipe, in this case 2 1/2 cups.
(1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.) (Give yourself a pat on the back too)

If your initial sponge was about the 'correct' consistency (determined by trial and error) you should only need to add a little water to form a dough. (But if you do add water use cold water) Mix the dough in the bowl with your finger tips, (it should be soft and fluffy) then tip it out onto the bench top. Knead the dough until it becomes silky, carefully adding teaspoons of cold water as you go, until you have a soft resilient dough. Note it is preferable to have the dough wetter rather than drier. Depending upon the type of flour, the correct moisture content is usually arrived at (for spelt and wheat flour) when the dough just sticks to the bench top and your hands. The less gluten the more the dough will stick. After you have kneaded the dough for 5 minutes transfer it to a glass bowl, put the bowl inside a plastic bag and refrigerate for 12-72 hours.

(Artisan bakeries sometimes have a retardation refrigerator set at 15C. Since I work from home I use my kitchen refrigerator which runs at 3-5C. At this temperature, I can leave the dough in the refrigerator for days without it rising, but the lactobacilli still seem to do their job. Generally I leave the dough in a refrigerator for 15-24 hours.) <--- This is from the website

When you are ready to use the dough, unwrap it and leave on a bench top for about 5 minutes to warm. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding teaspoons of water as required until the dough softens and has a silky texture.

Shape the dough and put into a greased and floured baking tin or pyrex dish, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place (28-32C) until it doubles in size (about 3 1/2 - 4 hours). Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes or until it is nicely browned and a skewer comes out clean. Once the bread is cooked, tip it out of the tin and turn upside down on a wire rack to cool. When properly cooked fresh bread has a hollow sound when tapped with the fingers.