Sunday, May 10, 2009

We Have Moved!

After a lot of look at my blogging style and where I want to go with the blog, I decided it was best to move it over to another blogging service that can help me meet some more of my goals.

Come on over to our new blog Oregon Natural Foods and see what we are blogging about. We will be talking about our photography ventures, our animals, our small plot of land, our children, our cooking and many, many other things.

Please change your feeds to now follow sorry about the inconvenience.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Daphne Eats

I am working to feed my daughter Daphne solid foods now. I am basically trying to give her whatever it is that I am eating as long as it doesn't have any meat, eggs, grains or dairy in it. This is pretty simple because we tend to eat a lot of vegetables in our house these days.

Here are some of the foods I have fed her recently:

Tomato Soup
Potato Soup
French Fry (ok that was only as an emergency)
Sweet Potato

Any food my baby eats will be made by hand by me. I take pride in the fact that there is no reason that I need to buy food from a store in a jar. Look at all the crap that gets put in those jars. No sir no way!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Peanut Butter Cookies

I made peanut butter cookies for Jared and I for Halloween. I was going to make oatmeal cookies, but Jared decided that he needed peanut butter cookies. I am all for anything with peanuts in it, so I jumped on the bandwagon. The dough was SO tasty, and I only realized just before cooking that I had left the eggs out of the recipe. I discovered why eggs are needed in baked foods. The dough is still better, and I managed to save some, so I am eating it now, and it if FAR better than the cookies every could have been.

For Why Do We Carve Pumpkins

And I asked myself yesterday while toiling away trying to carve one of the three blind mice on my pumpking, for why do we carve pumpkins. And as I too the lid off the pumpkin and saw all the seeds inside, I suddenly understood. We carve pumpkins to roast their seeds with sugar and spice and everything nice!

Happy Halloween! I hope you put your pumpkin seeds to good use!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Resturant Service

My father-in-law was in town this weekend and we went out to eat a couple times. I like when he is in town because we get to enjoy good meals and some good conversation.

Daphne, my daughter, has become harder to take out places. She ends up screaming at the wrong time, and for whatever reason, she becomes inconsolable. One thing that can keep her happy and occupied is something to chew on.

So, we are in a restaurant, and I ask if they can get me a celery stick or a carrot stick or any hard vegetable that she could chew on because she is a person to, and in almost every case, I have had a hard time getting anyone to comply with my requests.

One particular one stands out.

"Waitress, can I please get a celery stick or carrot stick or really any hard vegetable for my daughter."

"You know, there is a toy store next door, I'm sure you can buy something over there."


What kind of a response is that? I am in a restaurant and I want some food for my baby and they redirect me to the toy store?

Later, the waitress came back with a little piece of vegetable that she had taken off of someone's salad.

"Here you are miss, I had to check to make sure that we had enough for the rest of the day, but I was able to find this for her, I hope it helps."

And it did help, but what kind of a restaurant can't spare a piece of hard vegetable without checking to see if they were going to run out?

And thus ends my rant, but I do feel that there could be better service for mamas with babies that need something to eat in a restaurant. My tipping will reflect this in the future.


I don't really know why, but I have a particular obsession with milling and mills.

When I was in Greece, I spent an entire semester of school riding around finding windmills that were once used to mill grain, and I took photos of them. I was sad that they were being allowed to turn to dust after such an amazing tradition of milling grain with donkeys and the power of the wind had taken place for thousands of years. In many cases, the windmills were just a pile of rubble. One of them was in really wonderful condition, but it wasn't in current use. No one wanted to take over the milling industry.

And how crazy those people are for not wanting to continue such an amazing food tradition.

Now that I am back at home and back in reality, I have decided to act as my own miller. I got a grain mill the other day, and I have used it, and I love it.

It is only a stone mill. The bottom is stone and the top is stone, and there is a crank that you use to grind the grain. It takes a while to get used to, but I made a half pound of flour the other day that I in turn made into pasta. It was really amazing.

I love being a part of the milling tradition, especially the stone milling tradition.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Food Traditions

People tell me that I am becoming more and more like a hippie every day, but I think the truth is that I am just starting to show how much I have been changed by my recent experience abroad.

While I was in Italy and Greece, I learned about food traditions. The people there made their own food and they were proud of it. The food that was made every day was family property, and it was valued. Women truly mastered the art of staying at home taking care of the household. It was an honor to raise wonderful children and cook wonderful meals.

When I went to the grocery stores on Paros, there were no boxed ready-made meals. It was unheard of. Chicken was raw and not preseasoned and individually frozen. There were no boxed macaroni and cheese or other boxed prepared food. It was all home made, and it was all wonderful. I learned while I was there one very important thing.

I learned that there are food traditions that are amazing and wonderful around the world. They are as fabulous and gracious and amazing as the traditions that we have at Christmas, and they are around you all the time--all day every day. Good meals are a big part of being a happy soul.

I don’t understand the people that think they have no time for food, it is just beyond me. Our ancestors were able to settle down and do more than survival activities because they noticed that grains grow when you put them in the earth and they were able to use that to their advantage. I thank our ancestors for this work because it ensures that society can continue to go on and I can have the job I have as a wedding photographer, which would not have otherwise been possible (because no one would have time for leisurely activities like inventing the camera). Our survival is dependant on the food that we eat, and the quality of food that we eat.

The best and most incredible thing that can be done is creating and preparing foods in the traditions of our ancestors for a happy and healthy family.

I roll my own pasta like the Italians have always done. I am starting to mill my own grin with STONE, as all my ancestors have done. I make my own yogurt and sometimes my own butter. I have time to do these things because I believe that food is an inherent part of our culture, and I am not going to buy into the bull that some deadline or some 9-5 job is more important than me fulfilling these food traditions.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Grape Tradition

I had an unexpected wonderful experience that I figured I would share with all my friends around me. I was telling my friend Julie about it after it happened, and she said that it was definitely a hippie moment, so if this changes your opinion of me, I am sorry, I can’t be helped.

Yesterday, we shoved three kids in the car (Audrey, Copper and Daphne) and headed out to a farm. Our intention was to go apple picking and bring home pounds and pounds of apples, but there was something else in store for us.

It turns out that the apple crop was esperacially awful this season, so there are no spare apples that the farmers want to allow for u-picking. The only thing that was available was grapes. After some deliberation, we decided that we would be able to do something with the 20 pounds of grapes we needed to pick and we set out for the field.

Julie’s littlest kid Copper is amazing. She has an amazing way of doing the cutest things at the most crazy of times. She was wearing a polka dot dress over a polka dot skirt and she had on some Robeez. It was the perfect outfit in the environment she was in. It wasn’t exactly practical, but it was definitely adorable. Copper lagged behind as we walked down the dirt road and if you looked back to see her, you would see that she was doing any number of totally adorable things, from picking up rocks to confronting as long as she possible could the dog that happily bound up to her.

It was the perfect day, not too hot, not too cold, and I was out with some good company and some adorable kids to pick grapes for preserves.

And then my moment—a long moment, happened. There I was with my baby strapped to me walking through the rows of grapes in the late September sun. The grapes hung down and crawled along the ground while the purple jewels of goodness were waiting for us to pick them. I ducked under the vines to go up to pick some grapes, and the way that the sun was glowing through the leaves put me back into time. It was like reliving all of the magic that I felt while I was a part of history on my Greek island of Paros. It was like I was there picking grapes as many thousands of my ancestors have done. Though my final intentions were not to make wine with the grapes, I was still partaking in the late September harvest of one of the most traditionally cultivated fruits in history.

I felt sorry for all the sorry sods in their offices or at work looking out their cement walls waiting for 5pm when they would be stuck in traffic. I got a chance to take part in a tradition that had been going on for thousands of years. I picked grapes with the sun streaming through the vines as many thousands of my ancestors have done over the past many thousands of years.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How to Season Cast Iron

After my spiel, I thought that it was only good that I give information on how to season or temper cast iron.

This is what makes it good. I finally did is properly yesterday, and I couldn't be more happy, let me tell you!

Here is how you do it.

1.) Scrub, scrub, scrub the pan with soap and water. Get any of the residue off the pan that comes with it new or that could be stuck to it as old.

2.) Dry thoroughly.

3.) Rub a thin coat of crisco all over the pan on the handle and everything.

4.) put then pan upside down in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour (put tin foil underneath the pans on the bottom shelf ).

That is it. They will come out slick and shiny. I did all the cast iron in my kitchen yesterday, which was a lot, but they look great.

I think my dutch oven may need another round, but other than that, I am all set to cook!

Seasoning Cast Iron

Ok. There are various and sundry reasons that you would want to use cast iron in your kitchen.

I thought that the only reason I wanted to do it was because my grandma did it, and she was a good cook, so why not continue the tradition? I remember them being a bit of a pain to clean sometimes, but they looked cool, and what is more important than that.

I didn't think much more of it. I thought that a set of cast iron cookware would be expensive, and they definitely weren't at the top of my list, so I dropped it.

About a year ago, we started watching the Food Network in our house, and I got attached to a show called Good Eats. In this show, Alton Brown talked continually about how wonderful cast iron was to cook with, and he said that he recommended it because of how dark cheap it was.

And behold, I was in a store one day, and there was a set of three skillets for around $15, which I thought was a bargain. I bought them and they came home and sat in a cupboard unused.

And I watched more Good Eats, which made me comment to my husband about how much I really should consider using the cast iron.

I saw the light after a near death experience for my husband. His iron level was at an undetectable level (meaning it was less than 1 on a scale of 30-300). I read shortly thereafter that you can get iron in your diet by cooking with cast iron. The last piece of the puzzle came when I realized that my baby is going to need more iron soon because breastfeeding is notoriously low in iron.

So, as a lifesaving feature in my family, we started cooking with cast iron, and I COULDN'T BE MORE HAPPY!

Here are the reasons I would cook with cast iron.
  • I swear, it makes the food taste better.
  • They really are so darn cheap.
  • They last a lifetime.
  • They have even heat distribution, so no hot and cold spots in food.
  • They aren't toxic to your health.
  • They are actually easy to clean when seasoned correctly
  • You get a workout when lifting them.
  • It doesn't warp like every Teflon pan I have ever owned does.
  • You get iron in your diet from the cast iron.
  • Unlike most things (except cheese), they get better with age.
  • You can fry something on the stove top and then putting it in the oven without changing dishes.
  • It is actually one thing that can be passed down to the next generation when you die, because they will outlive you.
OK, I am out of reasons, but you should consider it...really!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brussels Sprouts

And the results are in. Two people said that Brussels sprouts really are tasty and one person said that they aren't. I really like them a lot. Especially with lemon and Parmesan cheese. Anyone have any good recipes for them that I might like to try or post?

Babyfood Peaches

Ok. This is my food blog. In its conception, it was supposed to tell many a wide variety of things and talk about restaurants and the food network and use of local produce and all of that, but when it comes down to it, my first topic is far from the topics that I thought I would publish. Babyfood.

My baby turned six months old a couple of weeks ago. This is the age that you are supposed to be feeding them solid food, or at least start. And last night, as I was putting her to bed after hours of nursing, I discovered that I had almost no milk left and it was time to start trying to feed her solid foods if she is going to keep this growing thing up.

And I knew this, I just didn't know that it would be TODAY.

When I was at my dad's house visiting a couple of days ago, he had an inordinate amount of peaches. His wife was out with a firefighting crew and their fridge had broken, so she was sent home on a break with tons and tons and tons of peaches. I figured that I would try my hand at preserving them, but after my little girl's fight last night, I decided that it was time to try my hand at babyfood making instead.

Luckily, the food mill I got for the occasion was ready to go, but the book is still sitting in my Amazon shipment que, so it was off to the internet for me.

I discovered that with peaches, you want to steam them. I thought that it was a crazy idea, but it actually made them a lot more soft and easy to work with. After about 10 minutes of steaming, put them in the mill and round and round they went.

The food mill is a rather wonderful invention. One way, it squishes things through and the the other way, it scrapes the stuff off the bottom so that you can then squish more food through. It was definitely worth every penny that I payed for it with. It took out all the fibers and left me just with the soupy stuff at the end.

Once I got all 20 peaches milled, I then mixed it with what was left of the steam water. It was more like steam syrup. The water had all evaporated, and there was just a little bit of sugar (natural sugar from the peaches) left with some water and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. The water was actually a strawberry color.

I got a nice watery applesauce texture, that tasted pretty good with no preservatives or other crap they put in the baby food these days. I know where the produce came from, and I am excited to give it to my baby.

The coolest thing is that I froze them in icecube trays. It makes the perfect serving, and now I can thaw them out one at a time as I need them. I got 40 servings from 20 peaches. Not too bad eh?