Bountiful Blessings CSA: Thankfulness

Yesterday we drove to pick up our CSA basket. Our Winter CSA is from Bountiful Blessings Farm and they have been doing what they do for 7 years now. I have been so impressed. Both by their set-up and farm layout, which is absolutely gorgeous! But also by who they are as people and the gentle care and respect they show each other, their customer’s and the land they manage.

Bountiful Blessings CSA

Bountiful Blessings CSA

There is such a sense of peace and beauty. I love visiting there just to pick up our veggies even though it is a 45 minute drive one way for us.

Little Donkey on the CSA Farm. So adorable!

Little Donkey on the CSA Farm. So adorable!

What has impressed me more than anything else though is the produce. I remember seeing one of their fields freshly tilled and wished I could run my fingers through the rich dark soil. They have obviously worked very hard at providing their soil with excellent nutrients and it shows in the uncharacteristic richness of color. But even that did not prepare me for how gorgeous, luscious, and amazingly good tasting vegetables they grow.

I took pictures of most of what came in our box this week. It seemed appropriate that I should write about bountiful good food that I am so very, VERY grateful for the day before Thanksgiving Day.

This huge head of cabbage was converted into 3 quarts of cultured SaurKraut last night.

Huge head of crisp, mild cabbage

Huge head of crisp, mild cabbage

The Bok Choy was new to me. It tastes mild and slightly like Celery. I am using it in the place of Celery in my Thanksgiving meal preparations

Huge bunch of Bok Choy. Never seen it this big before!

Huge bunch of Bok Choy. Never seen it this big before!

Dark Greens. Not bitter at all. Incredible flavor! And, like everything else, huge

Dark Greens

Dark Greens

The large clump of Sage and Winter Squash came from the CSA. The pumpkins I hoarded from a friend’s fall wedding decorations.

CSA Squash and Fresh Sage

CSA Squash and Fresh Sage

One of the 3 heads of lettuce that came in the box. Sweet and tender

One of the 3 heads of lettuce that came in the box. Sweet and tender

CSA Grown Potatoes with a sprig of Sage

CSA Grown Potatoes with a sprig of Sage

Yams. Sooo sweet and delicate tasting.

Yams. Sooo sweet and delicate tasting.

Green Onions

Green Onions

Today I am thankful for the people who work so hard to provide nutrient rich, chemical free, incredible tasting vegetables to help feed and nourishing their communities.

I am thankful for the family that provides our raw milk. They live simple lives and get up early every single day to milk a cow and care for her needs and then share from that bounty so others can be nourished with safe, raw milk.

Thank you Farmer’s and Traditional Food Artisan’s everywhere who are working so very, very hard and dealing with inordinate hardships and difficulties to provide people like me with truly good food. Thank you for taking risks and dealing with too little time, too few resources, too little money, and at times a Government that makes it difficult to impossible for you to do what you do better than any large corporation ever could. Small scale Farmers are hero’s.

So to for you my Food and Farm Hero’s everywhere, a heart-felt Thank You. May God Bless your farms and families as you continue to the good work you have started.

TurkeyBudgetFail

I hadn’t planned to host anybody this Thanksgiving. Last count we had 6 different invites to various get-togethers of family and friends. Each and every one warmed my heart and assured me that nope, me cooking this year would not be required. So I haven’t set aside room in the budget for extra food shopping.

Thanksgiving Napkin Holders made by my Cousin Anna

Thanksgiving Napkin Holders made by my Cousin Anna

As it turns out TheMan’s Dad, my FIL is going to come over for a laid back get-together on Wednesday. It’ll just be our wee family and him. Will be nice and laid back before we drive down to GA to visit with my family and extended family on Thursday, Friday and Sat. I am blessed to have one of the most laid back FIL’s a person could wish for so I haven’t felt any pressure to do a bunch of special dishes. However, there is the matter of a turkey. What is a Thanksgiving celebration no matter how small without a turkey? A pretty sad affair indeed I answered my internal question. Everything is optional except the turkey.

Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy made by my Mom

Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy made by my Mom

In the narrow window of time that I had to go shopping last weekend I made my way back to the freezer section of the store in search of a small, preferably all natural bird. No such thing existed. First of all I don’t remember turkey’s being so…large…Or maybe I just haven’t paid attention. There are apparently no such things as small turkeys sold in grocery stores anymore. Having watched enough disturbing footage on how traditionally raised turkey’s are grown and having committed along with TheMan not to buy any antibiotic fed meats if it was avoidable I read label after label of brand after brand. I would have been happy with just “All natural, antibiotic free” I know that doesn’t mean much. The birds are probably grown in exactly the same way. It just makes me feel better. There I said it. Unfortunately there were no moderately priced “All Natural” Birds. There was however the “Certified Organic” behemoths.

The Organic Certification does not mean as much to me as it probably should. I know just barely enough of how the process works to know that on many occasions “Organically” raised animals have more restricted access to outdoors, sunlight and grass or natural foods than the “All Natural” one’s do. Depending on who is doing the Organic Certification, the specific criteria and how paranoid or efficient the farmer is it could result in several less than ideal scenarios. For example cow’s are not let out onto a pasture because it may or may not have been sprayed with weed killer in the past few years and they are instead kept in feedlot conditions being fed certified organic bi-product feed of corn and soy just like the regular feedlot cow’s are. The only difference being they have a much lower exposure to pesticides and certain restrictions regarding antibiotic and growth hormone usage.

Free-Range Organic Turkey

Free-Range Organic Turkey

So anyway, as I was saying, organic certification was not required for me to feel somewhat Ok about buying the bird. But that was all they had. There was no happy All Natural Middle Ground with the accompanying middle ground price tag. The regular turkey’s under one brand were for sale at $0.60 per lb. The Organic bird was $3.00 lb. Taking a deep breath I shuffled through the frozen and plastic encased carcasses digging around for the smallest one. As I stood on my tippy toes leaning deep into the open freezer a man working the Meat section of the store said in a confidential tone “Them there Organic birds is **** expensive” Brilliant observation on his part. As the huge chunk of frozen poultry loudly thumped to the bottom of my cart I smiled and said “Yes they are!” while surreptitiously trying to catch a glimpse of what the total was on my particular bird.

The price-tag loomed in front of me…

Price Tag for costly Organic Turkey-Bird

Price Tag for costly Organic Turkey-Bird

$42.45 (before tax)

(gasp)

It’s been a long time since I’ve directly asked TheMan about a food item purchase. We’ve worked out a budget and a budget is a budget and I’m free to spend within the budget. This though. This. Needed TheMan to approve. He was reasonable as always. “$3.00 lb. is less than we spend per lb. for our grass-fed beef. And you’ll make stock from the bones, right?” Right.Of course. He was right. Still. Whew.

The ginormous bird is lurking in the chest freezer out in the garage. Tomorrow I’ll haul it out and thaw it before sticking it in the cooler to brine overnight. We have in previous years fried our brined turkeys. I highly recommend it for flavor and tender, moist meat. This year though in an effort to be as low-key as possible the bird shall be baked post-brining. The **** expensive bird to paraphrase the helpful Meat-man.

But a bird we have and a Thanksgiving meal it will make. I am so grateful to be able to have the money to buy said expensive bird. To have so many family and friends who love us and want to spend time with us. To have a home that is so much more than simply a roof over our heads. To have a kitchen to cook in. To have a lap-top blaring my Christmas Channel on Pandora to keep me company while I work in the kitchen. To have my wee-family so close to me day in and day out.

In-case I do not make it back to the blog before TheDay may you and your families have a wonderful, peace and joy filled Holiday that is punctuated with great food, laughter and most of all Thankfulness.

Doodles Helping in the Kitchen Fall of Last year

Doodles Helping in the Kitchen Fall of Last year

Why no Gluten with a Thyroid Problem?

Thyroid

Thyroid

In the last newsletter I wrote for www.beeyoutiful.com I made a reference to being gluten free in deference to my thyroid problem. I’ve received several communications from individuals who also struggle with thyroid problems asking what gluten has to do with the thyroid and if they should consider also going off of gluten.  This post is my attempt at explaining the connection between gluten and the thyroid and to offer some basic resources for you to read.

First of all the type of Thyroid problem I have is officially known as Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, where antibodies produced by the body mistakenly attack the thyroid, leading to its damage and eventual destruction. Studies show that autoimmune causes are responsible for 90% of adult hypothyroidism.

In his book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal? by Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS he addresses a couple of primary bits of information that are crucial for anybody suffering from a thyroid problem. In the first part of the book, Kharrazian explains the relationship between Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system, the thyroid gland, and gluten. He asserts that for people with Hashimoto’s, gluten must be avoided for life. The gliadin portion of the gluten that escapes into the blood stream due to leaky gut then triggers the immune system to flare up and attack. This attack does not affect only the gluten in the blood stream but also the thyroid gland, due to the similarity in structure between gliadin and peptide fragments associated with the thyroid gland.  Once the gluten-sensitive genes are turned on, they cannot be turned off which is why it is crucial that gluten be avoided for life.  Kharrazian says “the immune response to gluten can last up to six months each time it is ingested.” This means for a person with Hashimoto’s each time they ingest gluten the reaction and resulting attack on the thyroid can last up to 6 months.

Using emulsified vitamin D, glutathione cream and S.O.D. (superoxide dismutase), Kharrazian has had much success in the first step of bringing balance to the immune system. Not only is vitamin D a powerful immune modulator, but he says “90 percent of people with an autoimmune thyroid disease have a genetic defect that affects their ability to process vitamin D.”  Kharrazian likes to see his patients on the high end of Vit. D levels, knowing they need those levels in order to help moderate the immune system responses. When I had my Vit. D levels tested it came back 14.6 with 100 being “normal” And this is with me eating a diet much higher in Vit. D than most. I obviously fall into the category of individuals that have a genetic difficulty processing Vit. D. Since I got my results back I have been supplementing heavily with Vit. D3 on a daily basis and have noticed an improvement in more stable health and energy with fewer crashes.

Vitamin D also supports the T-regulatory cells, which begin to malfunction in an autoimmune attack. As their name suggests, when T-regulatory cells malfunction, the regulation of the immune attack goes awry. Tissue damage occurs when the incorrect amounts of T-helper and T-suppressor cells are called for by the weary T-regulatory cells. Using vitamin D, Kharrazian reestablishes proper function of the T-regulatory cells.

I have also had questions about how I found out about my problem. Since TheMan and I are self employed-small business owners we do not have health insurance. We use instead a Health Savings Account (HSA) I really did not want to go to a Dr. and pay for the Dr.’s visits in addition to all of the tests a Dr. would order out of pocket.  A dear friend told me about this website www.mymedlab.com This site allows you to order bloodwork and go to the nearest Lab/processing facility that they contract with to have the blood drawn. You can check their lab locations on the website to make sure one is close enough to you before ordering the tests. The results of the tests are uploaded to the site under your personal account. They flag test results that are abnormally high or low with suggestions to go to a Dr. to discuss the results.

The package of tests I ordered are called Shomon Thyroid Autoimmune and available under “package” tests on the website.  Along with the very low Vit. D that came out of these tests the other numbers that were very bad was the Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Ab. Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, are also known as Antithyroid Peroxidase Antibodies. (In the past, these antibodies were referred to as Antithyroid Microsomal Antibodies or Antimicrosomal Antibodies). These antibodies work against thyroid peroxidase, an enzyme that plays a part in the T4-to-T3 conversion and synthesis process. Normal range of TPO antibodies in a healthy person is 0-34. Mine came back at 411. It was very nice to finally have documentation and an explanation for how bad I’d been feeling! =) Also having very specific things to work on has been helpful too.

So, just to summarize: What explains the connection between Gluten and the Thyroid? It is, quite simply, a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, very very closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue, thinking it is the evil gluten sneaking into parts of the body where it doesn’t belong. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid. Simple as that.

Hope all of this was at least as  clear as mud. Feel free to hit me with questions. I love Google and I have a couple of guru friends that are willing to bail me out when I get in over my head.

Baby no more! We now need Toddler-Legs!

One of my all time favorite items of clothing for the Doodles when she could still justifiably be called a baby. (Before the days of hollering from the bathroom “I need a widdle bit of a wiiiipe Mom!!!” As she is at this very moment.) Be back in just a minute.

Ok. Toddler rear end wiped. Movie turned on. Classic Disney today. Fox and the Hound. Where was I? Oh yes, baby-days. And Baby-Legs. These cute little elasticized leggings were life savers when using cloth diapers because they covered the areas shorted by the bulkier diapers. Plus they are just so doggone cute.

Doodles Weight Lifting with Baby-Legs for her arms

Doodles Weight Lifting with Baby-Legs for her arms

Doodles wearing a summer skirt in fall with Baby-Legs underneath

Doodles wearing a summer skirt in fall with Baby-Legs underneath

Thanks to Baby-Legs I was able to get by with a lot fewer seasonal specific items of clothing and allow her summer stuff to be worn until it was out-grown. Now that she’s turned into a really tall, lanky toddler the baby legs are woefully short and tight. They still work for her arms but no more for her legs. I don’t have the money right now to buy her nice new leggings and have not been able to find any used. I remembered reading a while back that some creative Mommies were making their infants baby-legs using Knee Socks purchased on sale. The idea kept rattling around in the back of my mind and turned into a full forced clanging when I saw some “above the knee” socks on sale at Target last week. At $1 and $2 per pair that is a wardrobe investment I could afford!

The one rather large…ok…HUGE obstacle is that I am sewing-challenged. Sort of like being dyslexic with reading only applied to sewing. To compound my natural lack of ability in that area add in the fact that I do not own a sewing machine. Still. I convinced myself I could do it. If women could sew whole out-fits in times past with a needle and thread surely I could do a little sock manipulation! For once I was right!

Just in-case there are any other crafty-special-needs folks out there I’m gonna post what I did step by step. The intuitively clever among you with oodles of know how, experience and sewing machines can mosey on over to some inspiring sewing blog somewhere.  The moral of this story is if I can do it Anybody can do it.

First of I started with a pile of socks. I got two pairs of striped socks for $1 a pair and the rest in solid colors for $2 a pair.

Pile of Women's Knee socks from sale at Target

Pile of Women's Knee socks from sale at Target

Insert me taking a break from the blog to use my stick blender to make “ice cream” for the Doodles (who is under the weather from a cold). CSA Raspberries and strawberries with raw milk, fresh aloe, vanilla yogurt and a few scoops of Trader Joe’s Mango Sorbet with a few capsules each of Tummy Tune Up and Colostrum Transfer Factor. It’s delish. (slurp, gulp)

Ok, back to the project.

Select the first pair of socks. I chose the striped ones cuz they were cute and the heels looked like they would be easier to figure out.

Pair of Striped Women's Knee Socks

Pair of Striped Women's Knee Sock

Turn first sock inside out. Flatten out so you can see the side knit seems at the sides/end of the toe area.

First sock turned inside out

First sock turned inside out

 

At this point Commence search for fabric scissors.

Give up and search for ANY scissors veggie/kitchen ones included.

Give up. Demand an explanation for missing scissors from fellow house-dwellers.

Note slightly shifting eyes and shuffling feet and mentally resign oneself to the worst. One long explanation later of how no scissors could be found when packing for recent WAPF Conference business trip and how we would really need sissors for the booth and how they were probably packed and then brought back to the warehouse instead of OUR house give up on the idea of using sissors for this project alltogether.

Rummage in kitchen for a knife to use instead. Using sharp knife (or scissors should you be spared conference packing hulligans spiriting them away) carefully cut the very end of the toe area open.

Cutting end of toe area with knife

Cutting end of toe area with knife

Fold cut area down neatly to create an even edge.

Folding cut area down to create even edge

Folding cut area down to create even edge

Tuck uneven toe areas under to create a rolled hem.

Tucked fabric for rolled hem

Tucked fabric for rolled hem

Whip stich (or regular stitch if you have a sewing machine!)

Whip stitching rolled hem down

Whip stitching rolled hem down

Once the toe area is hemmed move on up to the heel. Fold it flat and stitch long the heel area to create a straight “tube” from the previous foot shaped area.

Folded sock to show heel area.

Folded sock to show heel area.

Folded heel

Folded heel

The handstitched seam on the heel

The handstitched seam on the heel

Repeat all of the above on second sock. Pull right side out and survey the finished product.

Finished Toddler Leg

Finished Toddler Leg

Finished Toddler Leggings

Finished Toddler Leggings with rolled hems

Then dress the closest available toddler in them to see how they look. Grab camera and document the triumph!

Finished Toddler-legs! Please note the fact that they are being used to extend the life of shorts into winter

Finished Toddler-legs! Please note the fact that they are being used to extend the life of shorts into winter

Toddler Legs and Boots

Toddler Legs and Boots

I got all of the Toddler Legs made yesterday. One of those things that if I did not get to it right away it would just never get done. They are being put to work immediately and will greatly enhance the Doodles bare-bones wardrobe due to out-growing almost all of her winter clothes from last year. I was negligent this year and forgot to shop the clearances and sales early spring for winter clothes.

Let me know if you have tried this! Just don’t tell me how you did it so much better than I did cuz that’ll just make me feel bad. Stick to telling me how cute and adorable your kids are in their home-made baby-legs, or toddler legs whatever the case may be. =D

Hey Kitchen! I’m HoooOOOOoooome!

I am back at home in TN and back in the saddle doing food prep for my little fambly. Please note the use of the word little. Cuz we are a small family. TheMan, Doodlebug and myself and none of us are typically big eaters. Even with the occasional staff person and my food-vacuum-cleaner of a brother partaking of our meals with us we still don’t go through massive piles of food.

I know this. I tell myself this. I remind myself of this multiple times when preparing food. And then when I survey the mounded heaps of steaming dishes when I’m all done I realize that yup. I did it again. I cooked enough food for a small army. It’s like my brain doesn’t compute how to cook any other way. So, unless the a fore mentioned vacuum cleaner happens along to suck up some of the leftovers my food prep for one big meal = lot’s of leftovers that will last us several more days and probably be turned into different meals.

As an example. Last night I baked a whole chicken. Encouraged it’s thawing along at a more rapid pace by placing it in a large metal bowl with hot sea salt water until it was thawed. Removed the pouch of internal organs and patted the chicken dry. In a large baking pan I drizzled a cooking oil mixture made out of Coconut, Safflower and Olive Oil (all three extra virgin/organic) and drizzled a bit over the chicken. Whole cloves of raw garlic along with firm pats of butter in alternating pattern were inserted under the skin and the innert cavity filled with a handful of whole, raw garlic. The outside and inside was heavily sprinkled with various seasonings. Along the bottom of the pan I spread the Chickens ‘gizzards’ or internal organs. And added another hand-ful of raw garlic. (I went through three whole heads of fresh garlic for this meal.) On top of the gizzards and garlic cloves went un-cooked Wild Rice with seasonings sprinkled over the top. On top of the wild rice the seasoned chicken was placed and a few cups of water poured on top of the rice. This baked covered for almost two hours. Uncovered for ten minutes to get a nice crispy skin and then was ready to serve.

Before serving if you choose to try this dish I would recommend fishing out the gizzards from the rice so that nobody gets an un pleasant surprise as they scoop things onto their plate (cough::SorryLizzy!!!::cough) The reason for their inclusion is to add extra flavor/nutrients to the whole dish. They will later be tossed into a stock pot for broth along with the bones from the leftovers.

Since our CSA Veggies have accumulated into heaps of beautiful bounty that had begun to wither and was bordering on going bad I had to do something fast that would use up almost all of them. This time of year we get a lot of greens. A LOT of greens. And my family isn’t all that crazy about greens. So I have to get creative. Stir Fry using a friends borrowed Wok has been the solution to this problem. With enough seasonings piled on the strong tasting greens are subdued into something edible by the pickier among us. So I chopped up four odd looking squash (the other thing about CSA veggies is occasionally you have no idea what something is so some experimenting is required), three heads of Chinese Cabbage, A bag of Cabbage Greens and two clumps of mixed greens. The primary problem when I do a stir fry is that I don’t measure. And I do not yet possess a good enough grasp of Asian seasonings to use them well in my typical slap dash dump a little of this and that manner of cooking. So last night crisis hit when I realized I had added way too much Lemongrass essential oil. Potatoes were added to the stir Fry in large chunks to help absorb the excess flavor. Whole Cloves of Garlic were thrown in amongst everything else to try to balance out flavors. This and that was hurled in along with a can or so of Coconut Milk turning it into less of a stir fry and more of a chunky soup. But, in the end a balanced and delicious dish was the end result and I might have even been able to act like I had planned it that way all along except that in my panic all available people had been roped in as tasters and witnessed the seasoning panic. (ahem) Note to self: Panic quietly and discreetly next time so you can appear as though you actually meant to serve Coconut Thai Stir Fry Soup for supper.

Also in the food lineup last night was Sweet potatoes and wild yams. I literally have a huge drawer full of these yummy tubers in my fridge. Both CSA’s we are part of (Summer and Winter they have a few weeks of overlap) have been quite generous with them so I’ve been getting double rations.  TheMan hates these little orange delicacies so it’s up to me and the Doodlebug and any random guests I can coax into helping me eat them. Last night I thin sliced a 13×9″ pyrex baking dish full of sweet taters and yams and thickly sprinkled layers of Heavenly Sugar, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Allspice over them. Interspersed pats of butter over the whole thing, dashed a few drops of Ginger and Orange Essential Oil and popped the whole thing in the oven. It came out delicious! Next time I think I’ll add some Coconut Milk or regular Cream to it for some added flavor/creaminess.

After supper was over I went into leftover-meal prep for tomorrow mode. Extracted all the meat off of the chicken bones and along with the skin put it in a mixture of spices water and vinegar on the stove to turn into stock over the next couple of days. The leftover chicken was torn into chunks and dropped into the crock pot along with the leftover rice. The soupish stir fry was dumped on top and extra coconut milk added to the whole thing. I set it on low and went to bed. This morning I had leftover sweet potatoes for breakfast. Today we had a delicious soup for lunch that was a perfect marriage of seasonings.

 

(Happy sigh) I love good food. I love my kitchen and it’s oh so good to be home. =)