Thursday, October 21, 2010

Harvesting Health Has Moooooved

Hello my fine feathered friends. We are outta' here! Please join us at our new domain, Tribe of Five. Please update your browsers. We'll leave this site up for a few more weeks and then it's coming down. We think the new site is a little more 'us'. Hope to see you over there!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Cauliflower Conundrum

Last week was an odd one, to be sure. Part of the problem was with our vehicle which meant I didn't get to the farm for my weekly produce pickup. No produce pickup = slim pickings for the rest of the week. So, in desperation, I trundled off to our local grocery store.

I wanted a cauliflower. That's it, just a cauliflower. It's still in season, there's plenty of them locally (I know, I see them at the farmer's markets all the time). There's nothing rare or exotic in my request. I was just looking for a plain ole' white cauliflower. Organic, please. Oh, and make it local so it's not dripping in petrochemicals. That would be nice.

Yah, like that.

I had two choices. I could pick the nice, jumbo cauliflower that was grown locally or I could buy the organic cauliflower that came from 'industrialized organic' in California. What's a girl to do? Of course, I want to buy local, but if it's not organic and I don't know the farmer, or even what farm it came from, how can I know how that cauliflower was grown?  Pesticides, fungicides, GMOs, sewage sludge application, chemical fertilizers?  What secrets does that cauliflower house in its pretty white florets? And the other? That organic cauliflower didn't have human waste or chemical fertilizers spread on its soil, but how was it produced? What are 'big organics' principles when it comes to preserving our soil? Do they even care about being true caretakers of the land, of ensuring that those fields are still viable when our kids inherit them to grow their food on?

Cauliflower bones for as far as the eye can see.

For me, eating sludge is a deal breaker. 80% of the sewage sludge in Ontario is now spread across agricultural land. If you think it's any different in your part of the world, a quick Google search may surprise you, especially if you live in North America. Sewage sludge, concentrated with heavy metals, volatile chemicals, and disease-causing pathogenic organisms has been used for years on most of our agricultural land. So, I'd say the odds are pretty good that the local, conventional cauliflower I'm looking at came from a toxic field.  I believe in organic food, but it has to be more than that. I don't want organic cauliflower from some massive monocrop of cauliflowers shipped into Canada all the way from California. Rocket fuel, anyone?

Anything that grows on soil (that would be everything that lives, including us) depends on the quality of that soil to deliver the nutrients and bacteria within for our very survival. We've become removed from our understanding of just how dependent we are on dirt. We assume we get our vitamins and minerals from plates of veggies and good meat. Here's the clincher, where do you think the vegetables, fruits, and meats get their nutrients from? Soil, of course. Anything that is grown or raised in depleted soil is degraded right from the get go. Add to that prolonged storage and shipping, refining, and processing. No wonder our bloated bodies are still crying out for more food. We are, as the great Raj Patel so eloquently expains in his book, "Stuffed and Starved".

What of that cauliflower that was grown in questionable soil, on land that is not diversified and respected? Land that is only asked to give more with no understanding or questioning of what it is that it actually needs. The cauliflower, already in a sate of nutrient deficiency, gets thrown on a truck and travels thousands of kilometres to my local store where it then sits some more. Now what's happened to the vitamins and minerals that were already lacking? Who wants a two week old cauliflower? There's no life force left in that lowly little plant. Sure, there's probably a few vitamins and minerals that your body could squeeze out of it, but that's not how our bodies thrive. No wonder we're all starving, our bodies are desperate for the ingredients they need to build these wondrous temples of ours.

I didn't get the cauliflower. We're eating kale (again) with our grass fed beef roast tonight. We need to change our food policies. Everyone of us should have the right to buy local food that is grown and raised in a manner that supports our environment and our health. Human poop cauliflowers be damned.

Get on it:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Day of Unrest

Sunday is not exactly my 'rest' day. With work, three kids, a hubby in full time school, classes to attend, and all the other stuff that makes up life, I have to make sure that I'm well prepared for the week ahead. In case you haven't noticed, nutrition is pretty important to me. I'm loathe to get myself in a situation where I don't have a decent meal backing us up. So, with Saturday being hang out with my posse day, Sunday has been relegated to making sure we have good eats in the fridge so 'quick' doesn't become synonymous with 'crap'.

So, let's go on a pictorial journey shall we? Fun, huh? Join me in my kitchen to see what was up for some of this week's menu. Sorry, I didn't get pictures of my two slow cookers bubbling away some bison roasts that I later sliced up and put in the fridge.

So, here's where you see my dirty little secret. I make my fermented veggies in my giant, ceramic sink. I clean it first! For this veggie mixture I used some easter egg radishes, carrots, purple carrots, green and purple cabbage, green onion, some leek, ginger, and garlic. Oh, some green and red onion, too. I covered it in sea salt, pounded the snot out of it and then packed in jars. I'll give more details in another post.

O.k., this was a problem. Remember those boxes of organic plums I had? Well, aside from the jars of prunes I've made, I needed to come up with some other options. So, here's my plum butter cooking down. See the dirty wooden spoon on the side? I used my tongue to clean up that mess. So bloody good. I cooked those wonderful plums with cinnamon and cardamom. Aye yi yi. Can't wait to eat that with some pastured pork one day.

I'm not big on baking. That's not to say I don't like it, I just don't think there's much place for those sweet "neolithic paleolithic" treats around my waistline. To make matters worse, I hear Kurt Harris' torturous condemnation every time I pick up a spatula. 

Still, with three kids, I do like to whip up a little ditty every now and then and then freeze some for those birthday party moments when the rest of the class has a sugar-loaded cupcake and my little urchin sits there with her bowl of fermented vegetables. Yes, that really did happen. So, my kids are thrilled with a muffin. These are made with coconut flour, ghee, some dried fruit I made, bananas to sweeten, and a mother load of eggs. They are moist and they are divine. That's my ghee in the background. I make it from raw, pastured butter and I mix it with organic, extra virgin coconut oil. We eat it with everything. Everything.

Canned plums. I added some allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. See mom? You can have some at Christmas. I source out the old jars, with glass lids. Newer jars, with the metal lids are lined with BPA. I'm not down with the BPA.

My post workout fuel source. Love me some sweet potats.

A peek in my 110 degree oven. Plums becoming prunes. I store the prunes in glass jars. I avoid buying any fruit in the winter, having prepared some ourselves. I also just don't think we were meant to eat much fruit in the winter (or at anytime really). A little dab will do ya'.

Pummeled and packed into jars. Now I just have to wait about a week and we'll have fermented vegorama.

O.k., so he's not a fermented vegetable or a dried plum, but come on! How could I not show you Pablo the Great Overseer. He perches himself up on that chair and makes sure I'm doing my kitchen duties to his satisfaction. He's a tough one, that little ginger cat. He keeps me on my game.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Preparing For Winter Like the Good Bapka I Am

One of many, many boxes of fruit begging for my attention before the fruit flies devour them entirely.

My Bapka (Slovak grandma) was the best. And please, don't tell me your grandma was the best. She wasn't, mine was. Bapka could bake like nobody's business and she loved me. What more could you ask for? Oh, and strong, that woman was Strong. I remember her showing me how to make perogies, using her arms to scoop under the mound of crazy-heavy dough, trying to show me how to use my strength to stir. My puny arms weren't up to the task at the time. I think Bapka would be happier with my pipes nowadays.

So, my Bapka, she taught me a thing or two, but the most important thing, to me, was how she made us all feel loved by the food she prepared for us. I don't think that just because we eat a paleo diet, void of the gluten and sugar my grandma used, that the lesson is any less profound. Yes, food is fuel, but food is also a ritual, a time and event to enjoy with a sense of community and grateful gathering. I love without food and I love with food. There's many ways that we love. I'm happy that my family eats the meals I prepare and say, "we can feel the love in it". Mission accomplished. Because there really is love in there. That love comes both from the farmers, our friends, who cared for that animal and treated it humanely, with compassion and care and from me as I prepare it. By the way, you can pack love in a salad or slide it into a stew. Love doesn't only come wrapped in sugar. Never mind "only come wrapped in sugar", love shouldn't come wrapped in sugar at all.

Plums becoming prunes. Still about a days worth of drying to be done at this stage.

I'm finding, especially as I get older, that I am really starting to appreciate the old skills that have fallen out of favour in our crazy, give-it-to-me-now society. Hence, my love of fermenting, culturing, and drying food. I'm trying to dig up as many obscure, out of print books as possible in hopes of garnering further knowledge. The new books on food preservation are loaded with jam recipes using pounds of sugar. Not my thing.

Last winter, we successfully ate pretty locally. We didn't have any fruit at all. This year, we've been lucky to have found an amazing organic orchard that's kept us well stocked throughout the summer. I just got our last supply of fruit and I've decided to go on a drying rampage. My kitchen is lined with trays and fruits in various stages of drying. It smells divine

Speaking of drying, did you know that a raisin should actually taste like a grape!? Who knew? I've been drying organic Coronation grapes and the result is this plump raisin with a delicious mild sweetness and pungent grape taste. It's unlike any raisin I've ever tasted. 
Organic Coronation grapes transforming into grapes. These are the grapes that pop out of their skin like an eyeball in your mouth. I think their concentrated skins are what makes them such tasty raisins.

I've also been drying boxes and boxes of plums. We're not huge dried fruit fans here. I don't buy dried fruit except on rare occasion, but it's nice to think that we have some frozen, canned, and dried fruit as a little something to remind us of summer on the impending winter days ahead.

I've gone through dozens of dehydrators. The one I'm buying next is a giant mother of a thing so I'll be saving my pennies for a while. Until then, my oven works fine. I put it on 110 degrees, line my pans with parchment paper and that's it. All it needs is a little time and a few words of loving encouragement. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Skinless Gyoza and Yummy Leftovers for Lunch

The bright yellow colour on the zucching comes from the unrefined, organic red  palm oil they're drizzled with. 

So, I found a big bag of pastured pork at the bottom of my freezer (yes, I'm at the bottom, time to pick up my bulk meat orders). I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, but then I remembered my skinless gyoza idea. I used to love my gyozas, back in the day. Those little bundles of yumminess wrapped in white, tasteless dough. The dough contained the meat and was essential, or so I thought.

Turns out that you can make a pretty fine gyoza, or egg roll for that matter, without the crappy flour wrapping. You just flavour the meat with the right spices, give it a fry in some unrefined coconut oil, make a dipping sauce and you're done. As usual, I made more than enough so that we could make quick lunches for the next day.

I used this recipe (see video below) for my gyozas and his dipping sauce was really good, too. I put mine in some romaine lettuce with some cooked purple cabbage and mounds of cilantro. I wanted to use avocado, but somebody in our house thinks avocadoes are candy and keeps eating them faster than I can buy them (ahem, T, you know who you are).

I had to include the video, his little girl is just too darn cute.
I also cut some young zucchini into spears, drizzled them with organic, unrefined red palm oil (which is delicious if you haven't tried it), sprinkled on a bit of sea salt and thyme and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. I've had a bottle of palm oil for a while now, but didn't start using it until recently. We're really loving it. This particular type of palm oil is not refined in anyway, is rich in carotenoids and saturated fats and is, therefore, on par with coconut oil for it's ability to withstand heat. I wouldn't buy palm oil from a company that sells 'crude palm' which is a highly toxic, refined product. You can order sustainably produced palm oil directly from Wilderness Family Naturals if you're interested in giving it a try.

When we were done eating I got to making the kids' lunches. I just ripped up some of the romaine that was left, threw some olives, leftover cabbage and zucchini, fresh cilantro, and some gyoza patties into the mix. I drizzled it with some leftover sauce and gave them a lime to squeeze on before they ate it. It was really, really good. Oh, they got a nectarine, too. That was the last of our insanely delicious nectarines, straight from the organic orchard about an hour away. We're already looking forward to eating that amazing fruit again next summer.
Kids' lunches done in 5 minutes flat.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foraging in the City

My sink full of crabapples compliments of an elderly neighbour, nature, and some determined pickers.

Hubby and I have become pretty keen on backyard foraging (ours or somebody else's will do just fine). We've raided the library shelves for books on edible plants, seeds, fruits, roots, and nuts. It's unbelievable to think that all of this food is around us and we just walk on by, wondering what we should go buy at the market.

Once we started learning about all the food, all the free food, at our disposal, our walks in the forest, or even just in our neighbourhood, took on a whole new meaning. We check out what stage the black walnuts are in, if the squirrels have annihilated the hickory tree or if there's one or two left for us, where the good oak trees are so we know where to go when the acorns start falling. The list goes on and on. It brings an awareness to the season, the weather, and the bounty that surrounds us.

This weekends foraging was pretty pedestrian, but wonderful nonetheless. Hubby and daughter numero tres were walking down to hockey registration when they came upon a tree dripping with over-ripe crabapples and another one with massive, golden pears on it. So, they came home, strapped on some bags, grabbed me and off we went.
The pear tree was literally bowing down, begging people to pluck the heavy pears off of it.

One of the nice things about homes with old fruit trees in them is that they often have old people living there that can no longer pick them. We asked the owner for permission to pick her trees and ended up chatting with her for a while. She didn't want any, but suggested that she'd love some of the preserves I was going to make with them. Reminder to self: bring Beverly some canned pears.

We came home with bags and bags of fruit. I froze some, dried some, and preserved some. Even sweet hubby, tough guy that he is, was in the kitchen canning pears. He actually even confessed to liking it.

Our next assignment is acorns. I'm eyeing up those trees every day, waiting for the moment when they're just right, but before the squirrels figure that out too. Native Americans used to use acorns as flour. That's what I plan on doing too. Why buy crappy almond flour when you can make your own acorn flour? I'll keep you posted in Foraging in the City Part Deux. In the meantime, look up you never know what's there for the munching.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mouse Melon Lunch in Ten Minutes Flat

I found these adorable mouse melons at the farmer's market last year. They're more novelty than deliciousness, but they were definitely a hit with the kids. The look like little, baby watermelons, but they taste more like a cucumber.

Super quick lunch again today. I chopped up the mouse melons with some avocado and threw in some roughly cut cilantro. I drizzled on some homemade vinaigrette gave it a toss with a few sprinkles of salish. I sliced up some of the awesome grass-fed beef summer sausage we get from our farmer. This sausage is cured by dry smoking. There are no nitrites/nitrates or filler used. Instead, the farmer has the butcher use a small bit of ascorbic acid for the curing process. Iit's absolutely heavenly.
I also threw in a handful of sauerkraut for extra probiotic goodness. In all, it took me about as much time to eat as it did to make, but I felt clear-minded and energetic afterwards. The sauerkraut, as are all cultured and fermented foods, is especially good to stop any post-meal sweet cravings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lazy Girl Lunch

Instead of going with my default of frustration every time I have someone tell me they "wish they had time to eat well", I thought I'd try something new. So, here goes. I'm going to show everyone how truly lazy I am in the kitchen. Yes, my name's Tara and I'm a lazy chef.

Take exhibit a. Here we have my lunch. How long did it take to make? Five minutes. I swear, just five minutes. Last night for supper, we had bison hump roast with roasted veggies consisting of brussel sprouts, cauliflower, shallots, and mushrooms. I make bone broth every weekend and have loads of it in my freezer. It's a definite staple in our home for everything from sauces, soups, curries, and just to sip out of a mug.

So, I threw the stock in a pot, put in some cubed leftover hump roast, threw in the leftover veggies and cut the tops off my beets to get some extra green stuff in there. I then snipped up a piece of wakame seaweed directly into the pot and heated it up for a couple of minutes. That's it. Super nutritious, filling, incredibly satisfying in that soul-comforting type of way, and delicious.

Take away message: a.) always cook more than you need so you have leftovers for a couple more meals  b.) bone broth is your friend  c.) eating well means planning ahead not slaving in a kitchen.

Stay tuned for my incredibly complicated meatloaf soup recipe.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fake Food, Big Bucks

Someone save that child.
I just came back from a jaunt to the grocery store. I had to pick up some green onions for the Kimchi I'll be starting later today. Every now and then, I like to take a walk through the aisles like some voyeur scoping out the new horrors being pumped out by the pretend-food factories.

How did we get to this place where the further we move away from real food, the more we forget that this stuff in the grocery store, this packaged, creamed, preserved, boxed and cellophane wrapped compilation of indiscernible ingredients is not food? Why do we buy it? I mean, why do we buy it literally, yes. But, why do we buy it, on a metaphorical level?

There was a vat of Kraft peanut butter being advertised as the latest and greatest food.  "It's NEW"!!  Hooray! Kraft has developed a new food product.  Time to celebrate. The peanut butter was "whipped" so it's easier to spread and use as a dip, or so says Kraft on the bottle. The bottle is full of pesticide laden peanuts, trans fats and a couple types of GMO sugars. Why do we agree to pay more for cheap chemicals? How have we been convinced that a peanut is not worth as much as a pretend peanut?

Awww... look at the cute little bears ready to bring you to heart attack heaven.
Peanuts should not make up part of anyone's diet due to the aflatoxin content, a carcinogenic mold, and because of the issues with consuming legumes. But still, I can't help but shudder when I see them take an already harmful food and look for ways to make it worse (more profitable).  Why have factory farmed dairy products when you can have factory farmed dairy products that are pasteurized and full of sugars and flavourings? Why eat pasta when they can sell you a sauce full of vegetable oils, artificial flavourings, and preservatives? Dump the pasta and the pasteurized dairy altogether. Why pay more for something that was detrimental to health even before they started making it worse?

They're trying to convince us that we can't do it ourselves anymore. We're losing our ability to preserve food, to store it, to culture and ferment foods the way our ancestors did. I can't tell you how many people I meet that marvel that I make my own stock or preserves. When we lose our ability to do these things, when we opt for simple, we teach our children what it is to trade health, tradition, independence for easy. The problem is, it's not easy in the long run. It's not 'simple and quick' when we are diseased, depressed, and fat.
My little laboratory. Kefir, raw milk yoghurts, butter, and creme fraiche, ghee, some kombucha, a jar of red wine vinegar with its mother, some kefired homemade apple cider, sauerkraut, lard, pastured bison tallow, and some raw grass-fed sheep cheese. Yum.

There's a great satisfaction, beyond the physical benefits, of creating and producing foods that are healing and nourishing. We teach our children by our example. They love us, they admire us, they believe us when we pick up a bucket of whipped peanut butter and tell them it's o.k. to eat it. We have to do better.

Further reading:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chocolate Baby Formula

Enfamil has discontinued its chocolate baby formula due to heavy criticism. Of course, there's still vanilla. You could always add a squirt of Nestle Quik and voila!  Instant fun.

I must have a pretty narrow group of comrades because I don't know a soul who would eat this, never mind feed it to their child. If you're interested in getting a peek into why our society's health has gone to hell in a hand basket, go check out the Enfamil page and scroll down to the bottom where the angry mom and dads are demanding Enfamil bring back the chocolate because their babies loved it, damn it.

No wonder our Canadian health care system is crumbling under the pressure of disease. I say Enfamil and all of the other junk food peddlers start contributing a % of every crap product they sell into our health care system. That way, when people inevitably get sick from all this pretend food, it will be the corporations who pay the price, not the individual taxpayer who is spending crazy amounts of money on quality food, gym memberships, and alternative care practitioners (ahem.. o.k., rant over).
Now, bacon formula.. that's something I could get behind.

Monday, August 23, 2010

when I grow up I want to be just like them

He's 57, she's 56 and they're training for the Tough Mudder. My inspiration.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


View the full movie here. Please, pass it on so as many people as possible can see this amazing film.
We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.
The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet. Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Please view the entire movie here. It's free, meant to be shared and passed along. Please do so.

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.
The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.
For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.
HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Monday, July 12, 2010

In a while, crocodile

I've been away for a while now. Not away away, as in some grand trip, but just living a little more in the real world, a little less near the computer. It's summer after all. I have ragamuffins to entertain and sunbeams to bask in. Aside from that, I'm trying to find a little more balance. Good food is a good thing and health is of the utmost importance, but I need to get back to the girl that was strong and fast. That means more moving, less talking about the virtues of this or that.

Hopefully, there's enough information on this blog to hold you for a while. I'll be back in a bit. In the meantime, might I suggest some of the following fantastic blogs for recipe inspiration and sound health advice:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One Little Calf Had Raw Milk, One Little Calf Had None

Two calves, two very different outcomes. Michael Schmidt, of Glencolton Farms, recently completed a little experiment. Two calves were raised, one on raw milk and the other on pasteurized and homogenized milk (simulated dairy). You can see all the pictures and read the full story over at the Bovine.
 The anemic, sad little liver on the left is from a calf that was raised on pasteurized milk. The liver on the right is from the raw milk fed calf.  Photo: Bovine
The stomachs of the two calves. The one in the bucket, looking as it should, is from the raw milk calf. The one below, with its 'contents' spilled all over the place is from the pasteurized milk drinking calf. I found this image especially telling.  Photo: Bovine

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Abundance (or a 10 minute lunch done right)

Oh summer, how I love thee. Today was a good day, made all the better by a trip to one of our lovely, local organic farmers. I came home with a bounty of deliciousness and set to work making a ten minute lunch for me and my sweet man.
We came home with colourful swiss chard, radishes, asparagus, all types of lettuce, garlic scapes, flowering chives (so pretty), rhubarb, nettle, shitake mushrooms, green onion, and a whack of fresh herbs. Everything was so fresh and beautiful.
I grabbed a handful of my favourites, the shitake mushrooms, asparagus, some Shanghai bok choy, swiss chard, and the garlic scapes, gave them a quick rinse, and chopped them up in big hunks.
I grabbed my glorious raw butter, compliments of a happy, grass-fed cow, and melted a few dollops with the garlic scapes. Once those were softened up, I threw in all of the other veggies. I threw in a couple more spoons of butter, some sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.

While all of that was going on, I was reheating a chicken quarter from last night. I always make enough meat with supper to give us leftovers for lunch the next day.
It's a pretty simple lunch, and really quick to make. I think a lot of people assume I make complex, time-intensive dishes, but when you have good food, there's very little that needs to be done to it. On the other hand, you can add mounds of sugar, colouring, sauces, and flavour enhancers to lousy food, but it's still lousy food.

Today's lunch is standard fare around here. I hesitated to show something so simple, but it's how we eat everyday and I thought it was a good representation of how easy it is to eat really good food. My food reminds me of the many things and people I have to be grateful for. My plate, an embarrassment of riches. I'm a lucky girl, indeed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Real Orange Creamsicles

Real Oranges + Real Raw Cream = Real Creamsicles

Back in the day, when I was but a wee lass, I remember the sheer joy of hearing the bells of the ice-cream bike. That's right, bike. What's with this ice-cream truck business? The ice-cream dealer in our hood drove a bike that said "Dickie Dee" on the side of it. There was a long rack of bells on the handles of his bike that swung back and forth wildly as he pedaled around the neighbourhood. He was the purveyor of summer happiness. A few cents could buy you all sorts of frozen delights, but I was always a sucker for the Creamsicle.

A few years ago, remembering how much I loved those yummy creamsicles, I decided to buy one - purely for nostalgia's sake. It was revolting. The 'cream' centre was some sort of gelatinous, hydrogenated oily mess. Blech. Another one of my childhood joys relegated to the cobwebby crevices of my memory.

Yesterday, after melting in the 32 degree weather for a few hours, the kids and I decided to attempt a healthier version of an orange creamsicle. We decided to make a real creamsicle with actual oranges and cream. I was pretty happy with the results, but there's a few things I'd modify next time around. I listed my modifications at the bottom of the recipe.
The Healthy Orange Creamsicle
  • Organic oranges
  • Best quality organic, cream (raw, from grass fed cows is best if you can get it)
  • Honey or maple syrup/maple butter to taste
  • Organic vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • (optional) Pastured, organic egg from a source you know and trust (it matters, you're going to eat it raw) 
Juice or blend some oranges. I used our Vitamix and threw in a little cream (maybe a tablespoon or so). My daughter then filtred the juice to get a smoother texture. I don't suppose you would have to do that, but it seemed somehow more authentic to me. Pour the juice into molds and put them in your freezer.
While the juice freezes along the perimeter of the mold, you can make the cream filling. For this, you can either make some of your favourite ice-cream or try what I did. I just blended the cream, turkey egg, vanilla, and some of the yummy maple butter we just got from our pal's maple syrup farm (thanks, Ben!) together in a blender. 
You will have to check the molds every half hour or so. The idea is to push the exposed parts down so the sides start to freeze, but you don't want the bottom (or top depending on how you look at it) to freeze over. When you see this happening, just push your finger into the centre to break up the frozen bits. Once the sides have frozen, you can pour the juice from the centre into a cup. You should now have an orange juice mold with a hollow centre.
Pour the cream mixture into the centre of the frozen popsicle, insert the stick,  and put back into the freezer. Wait. Patiently. Just wait. Goodness is on its way.
That's it, that's all there is to it. They were yummy and refreshing and way better than the hydrogenated oil ones they try to pass off as "cream-filled" in the store.

What I'll do differently next time:  I think I would actually use some of our homemade ice-cream. The cream centre worked well, but I found it dispersed into the orange a bit too much. I wanted the division between the centre and the orange border to be more distinct. If you try this option, be sure to use your own ice-cream or an organic version that isn't loaded with crapola. Lastly, I would not throw the oranges in the Vita-mix, opting instead to juice them. The bitterness of the pith seemed to amplify in the freezer. It wasn't a huge problem, but enough for me to try something different next time.

I'm thinking about trying mango and lime with my vanilla ice-cream next time. I think sour, citrus flavours would be especially good, but I will always remain loyal to the orange.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Farm For the Future

Simply a must-see. Whether you're a farmer, an urbanite, or a zombie, if you're reading this, I assume you live on planet earth, and therefore, you need to see this to understand what it means to farm, to eat, to consume.

Part Deux

Part Trois

Part Four

"A Farm For the Future" final

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Dream Farm

By now, most of you know that I'm pretty passionate about procuring food from my beloved farmers and of my intention of having our own farm soon. I've been lucky enough to meet all sorts of farmers who have shared with me their knowledge and some incredible experiences. Through my time spent working with and learning from farmers, I have been able to develop a clearer picture of how I will work with the land and animals to create a vibrant, productive farm.

I plan to create said farm employing some principles that I hold dear. I truly respect and value Biodynamic farms. I believe that this style of farming produces a nourished farm organism that 'gives back' to the land, rather than just taking. In addition, the food produced on Biodynamic farms is superior to any other I've ever tasted because it's packed with an energy, an abundance of nutrients, and things we can't really measure, but just inherently know are right.
This animal was shot, skinned, and gutted in less than an hour. Look at the beautiful, yellow fat from that solely pasture raised animal.

Aside from that, one of my strongest convictions lies in slaughtering and butchering my own animals. I can not tell you how many farmers I have met that shake their heads at the way their animals have been butchered. I have no intention of raising animals with incredible care only to load them on trucks and have them butchered at a commercial facility, by people who have no connection to that animal. At one of my friend's farms, I was lucky enough to take part in the butchering and slaughtering of animals. Before that, I would say that my understanding of what it meant to be grateful for my food was shallow, at best. There is a great duty, for those of us who eat animals, to understand what it truly means for that animal to give its life for us.

I have seen animals slaughtered in so-called sterilized factories and I have slaughtered animals in the sunshine. I know which one is more sanitary and I know which one is right. I could not compromise on that point.

So, my dream farm...  I see my cows (I know the breed, but I don't want to say, let's just say they're an ancient breed that do well on grass and harsh Canadian winters). There's some sweet lambs over there, up on the hill, chewing grass. Over on the other side of yonder hill are the chickens. Sweet chickens for eggs and yummy chickens for our bellies. They too will be slaughtered on the farm. There's heritage pigs on pasture, maple trees that give us syrup, and bees that give us honey. Every now and then we get a mama cow that we can borrow some raw milk from. There's all sorts of green things, veggies, and berries sprouting up everywhere! Oh, and look, there's my sweet hubby and our cool kids sitting in the morning sun waiting for me to join them for breakfast! Better go before it gets cold!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Honestly, I don't know what comes close to a slow roasted pot of pork hocks and feet for its sheer yumminess.  By slow roasting, you end up with incredibly tender, moist meat.  The gelatin released from this yummy dish, is incredibly beneficial for bones and joint health.  My farmer friends assured me that this dish was to die-for.  I'll admit that when I first cooked pig's feet, I was a little apprehensive.  Um, they're feet.  But, one bite and any apprehension was gone.  And, yes indeed, my kid's love this dish, too.

It couldn't be easier to make either. Just slow roast hocks and/or feet with some butter or some bacon fat that you have on reserve, some salt, and a couple of glugs of wine or homemade red wine vinegar.  Let it roast in a 250 degree oven for approximately 10 hours. We like to eat ours with cauliflower rice because it does a great job of soaking up all of the wonderful drippings.

It shouldn't be too difficult to find pork hocks and feet. While I wouldn't use commercial sources, local farmers may have some for sale. We always make sure we ask the butcher to include all these juicy bits when we are giving our cutting instructions.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oops, we made a mistake

Scientific American explores the folly of blaming fat for heart disease.  Yet more evidence that it's the donuts after all.
Eat less saturated fat: that has been the take-home message from the U.S. government for the past 30 years. But while Americans have dutifully reduced the percentage of daily calories from saturated fat since 1970, the obesity rate during that time has more than doubled, diabetes has tripled, and heart disease is still the country’s biggest killer. Now a spate of new research, including a meta-analysis of nearly two dozen studies, suggests a reason why: investigators may have picked the wrong culprit. Processed carbohydrates, which many Americans eat today in place of fat, may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease more than fat does....  
Continue reading "Carbs against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bill C-474 Passes and David Sweet is a Dud

The good news:  Bill C-474 passed which means that it now goes to the Agriculture Committee for review. But, hold on, the biotech companies are not ready to lay down and die. There's a lot of money on the line and they want it. As the biotech industry gets louder, so to must we. CBAN offers ways that you can take action now.

The bad news:  Well, it depends. Maybe you have a better MP than we do.  Mr. David Sweet, Dud Extraordinaire, voted against Bill C-474.  What Who did your MP vote for?  Mosey on over to the House of Commons site and check out the vote for yourself.

p.s. Dear Mama, I'm sorry to confirm your suspicions about your MP, Mr. Russ Hiebert. You were right all along, he is as big a disappointment as ole' Dave Sweet.

Source: Boundary Sentinel 

MP Alex Atamanenko, B.C. Southern Interior
MP Alex Atamanenko, B.C. Southern Interior
A private members bill to protect farmers by calling for an analysis of potential harm to export markets prior to approving new genetically engineered seeds has passed second reading in the House of Commons. Bill C-474, proposed by New Democrat Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko (BC-Southern Interior), will move to committee for further study.
“Despite intense lobbying efforts by the biotech industry and the Conservative government to nip this bill in the bud, the opposition parties voted instead to protect the economic interests of farmers,” said Atamanenko. “I couldn’t be happier that Parliament has made this historic decision.”
This is the first time a bill to change the rules on GMOs has passed second reading in the House.
Atamanenko believes that the government‘s science-only approach to how GMO’s are regulated is irresponsible because it completely ignores market considerations.
“It was the government’s lax regulatory process that allowed GE Triffid flax to shut out Canadian flax exports from its key markets and hurt farmers,” explained Atamanenko. “For the first time, Parliament has a chance to seriously consider a regulatory mechanism that will ensure farmers are never again faced with rejection in our export markets because we allow the introduction of GE technologies that they have not approved.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take Action - Your MP Votes This April 14

Bill C-474 would "require that an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted." There's no time to spare, the Conservatives are opposing the bill.  Without the Liberals support, the release of GMO strains of food will be relentless. Let Michael Ignatieff, the ruler of the Liberal party, know that you want them to vote for the Bill.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network has more ways that you can take action. Call your MP and find out how they are voting on this important Bill and hold them accountable!
Aw, look!  It's Mr. David Sweet, our local MP.  Mr. Sweet voted against the mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Let's hope he's educated himself a bit more since then. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's GMO Tuesday! Fun!

If you are consuming meat or dairy products and the farmer is using non-organic sources for his/her feed, you are consuming GMOs. Locally sourcing your food is great, but it has to go beyond that. Ask your farmer about her farming practices. What are the animals eating? Where and how does he grow his feed? What about the farmers around him? At present, GMO canola, corn, and soy are being used in animal feed with the possibility of alfalfa looming on the horizon.