feature friday – herbivoracious

I’ve never really been one to crave meat products but as active as I am, I’ve always thought I needed to consume some amount of lean protein so I’ve always eaten it. Minus the few times I’ve tried going vegetarian only to fail…miserably (and gain 10 lbs), I’ve always eaten chicken, turkey, red meat, and pork but never really felt great after doing so. Not to mention that I am a lover of all animals and would try to save just about anything if I was permitted to do so, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to be a carnivore and I’ve always struggled with that aspect as well.

The other misconception I struggled with was the notion I’d be missing out on necessary nutrient such as B12, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, and Omega Fatty Acids if I skipped out on meat.  In reality, these vitamins and minerals are more prevalent in various dried fruits and leafy green vegetables then in a hunk of red meat.

Recently we’ve tried to significantly cut the amount of meat and dairy products we eat in this household while still keeping things interesting in the kitchen. We’ve been consuming lots of beans, rice, quinoa, roasted vegetables, and fruits and feeling a lot more energetic with doing so. We’ve both leaned out, started running again, and my skin has cleared up completely. Now we’re not going around calling ourselves vegetarian or vegan for that matter. I’m sure there will be moments when curiosity (or our taste buds) will get he best of us. But we are happier knowing that we are living, for us, a healthier lifestyle that meets our needs.

With all this being said, today’s Feature Friday is a blog dedicated to vegetarian. Michael Natkin, a native of my hometown Seattle, specializes in reinventing vegetarian cuisine in his blog, Herbivoracious.  He is also in the process of writing a cookbook scheduled to be released in Spring of 2012. He’s blog had me at Coconut Rice with Black Beans, Plantains, and Mango Salsa and that he included a Gluten-Free section makes me feel all warm and fuzzy with gratitude. I hope you enjoy looking through his various recipes and perhaps it will inspire you as well!

Now the tough part, what the heck are we going to do with 22 chickens? Who wants a chicken?

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tomato jam (more like chutney)

I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed with the amount of tomatoes in my garden that are still green. It’s September 27th and my tomatoes, despite a few, could be mistaken for one of the green variety yet they are supposed to be red or orange. However, I did manage to harvest some red Roma and orange Heirlooms and they are beautiful.

I was wondering what to do with them and I knew I didn’t want to go the traditional route, ie: slice them up, throw some salt and pepper, a little olive oil and just eat them or make tomato sauce. I wanted to think outside the box a little and then David mentioned I should make tomato jam and that is what I did yesterday. Despite being was weary about how it would actually taste, to my surprise it turned out delicious!

I adapted my recipe from one I found in the NY Times and from one I found on the blog Sassy Radish. Here is what I ended up doing:

I used about two pounds of various tomatoes.

Then I began by removing the skins from each tomato but take it from me, don’t do it with a vegetable peeler. Did you know there is actually a specific technique for removing tomatoes skins? I didn’t until David walked in the kitchen and saw my messy attempt at peeling them and chuckled when asking me what I was doing.

“Removing the skins” I said.

“You know there is an easier, not to mention cleaner way of doing that, right? He replied

“Oh” was all I said in return.

After he explained said technique I decided I would just continue doing it my way telling him I wanted to feel rustic when in reality, I was already on the last tomato and it seemed a bit of a pain to boil a pot of water, cut an X in the bottom of the last tomato, place it in the boiling water, and then effortlessly pull the skin off.

After I peeled all the tomatoes I placed them into a pot and added the following:

1 green apple, peeled and chopped up

1/2 chopped onion

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup cane sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. coriander

dash of cumin

Juice of half a lemon

Put all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let ingredients simmer for about 3 hours.

This morning I had breakfast

 

 

Posted in Country Life, Farm Life, Food, Garden | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

the fruits of our labor

I was walking around the property today taking in the last bit of warmth we had here in the valley as the clouds drifted in and signs of autumn crept in with it. The weather is supposed to change to rain tomorrow and I made sure to take a moment (or two) and really enjoy wearing a tank top and walking barefoot through the grass. I happen to have a camera with me and captured a few shots as well.

Posted in Country Life, Farm Life, Garden, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

my favorite season

September has pretty much come and gone and October is sneaking up on us. It’s okay though because this happens to be, hands down, my favorite time of year as I think it is for most Pacific North-Westerners I’ve talked to.

I always love that late August day when either my mom or I call each other and one of us says “it’s here” and we both know exactly what the other means. Fall is here. It happens around the same time every year, August 22nd, my brothers birthday. It still may be warm during the day but the early mornings and evenings have a crispness to it that screams warm apple cider, the sweet smell of autumn leaves, carved pumpkins, football, and warm sweaters. And I absolutely love it!

The last month and a half has left me longing for a slower pace and cozy days on the couch watching Lifetime television while cuddling up by the fire. To be honest, I think the last three-months have left  me longing for this. What a summer. Though I’m not complaining, I am a bit of a home body and haven’t spent a full day at home in six weeks. Bachelorette parties, Vegas (and my 31st birthday), wedding, oh my! An amazing time was had but now I say bring on the stew simmering on the stove, the crisp sunny fall mornings, cooking with apples, pumpkins and squash galore, and all new episodes of my favorite TV shows! Finally all my questions from season finales will be answered.

So my friends, let the clouds (not rain) roll in and my spot on the couch stay warm cause it’s gonna be a great long fall!

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hands

David and I came home from Las Vegas the other night (a story in itself) and the next morning when I checked on the garden, I was pleasantly surprised to see some of our tomatoes starting to turn juicy red and some of our beets and carrots ready to pull.

I spent some time this morning clipping back the tomatoes as they were starting to take over the world. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the feeling but there is something so  gratifying about getting my hands dirty and analyzing the fruits of my labor. Why did this happen?  When am I suppose to pull these or clip that? I’m still so new to gardening and there so much to learn. I know what I’ll do different next year and I’m looking forward to laying out my plan.

I’m also learning the many benefits of a home garden. Along with our cost of groceries reduced by about half, it’s so nice being able to walk outside and pick what you want to have for supper. And although at times the garden can get a little overwhelming and you may wonder how the hell you are going to eat everything, in the end, to me it outweighs the alternative.

And hey, if anything else, it helps me remember to eat my carrots.

Posted in Farm Life, Garden, Photography | 2 Comments

feature friday – affairs of living

I often envy people with an iron stomach (my boyfriend) because the slightest thing can send mine into fits of rage so brutal I’m left curled up in fetal position praying for some relief.

About six years ago I had part of my large intestine removed leaving me with a finicky gut and an off digestive tract. Three years ago while visiting my Natural-pathic doctor I was discussing my issues and she suggested I get some food allergy test done. After a series of unpleasant test and a two month-long cleanse involving very little foods and no alcohol, I found out I was allergic to potatoes and anything derived from them which means just about everything. Did you know potato starch is in toothpaste? I’m also intolerant to citric acid and wheat.

All in all it’s not a life or death allergy but enough to make my throat tighten and belly upset when consumed in decent amounts. You will still find me sneaking a french fry from David’s plate now and then and I’m not the best at looking over the ingredients on my toothpaste containers or any container for that matter. I usually know when I start using it and my mouth begins to tingle and slowly becomes numb.

I found Affairs of Living when I was looking for a recipe to make a blackberry crisp that was gluten-free and low in sugar. Kim, the author, has Chronic Lyme Disease which gives her a laundry list of allergies and food intolerance causing her to have a very specific diet.

I find Affairs of Living a great resource for those of us who need to eat a little different but also for everyone in general who want to live a little healthier.

On a side note, the last few weeks have been crazy busy. I’m leaving for Vegas this weekend but I plan to jump back into the full swing of blogging when I return. Some funny stories and updates from the farm to come.

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sometimes the good die young

I knew the day would eventually come. It could have happened when I was living in the suburbs of Seattle but it didn’t. It happened here, on the farm.

If you are an animal person it’s never easy losing one of them. In a post way back in June I talked about how I anthropomorphize. In writing it I was of course trying to be funny but in all honesty, there was a bit of truth in it. My pets are members of my family and it started way back when and to this day, hasn’t changed. They may not give monetarily or even be able to give their opinion on aspects of life but they do give something pretty darn special. Otherwise, nobody would have domesticated them to begin with.

Whenever I lose one I always find myself surprised by the sadness and huge amount of loss I feel. It’s an eerie feeling not knowing what happened. Our minds start to go to those sad places, those places where one wishes and prays they went instantly with little to no suffering. My mind goes to those places, especially when finding evidence in the yard of the contrary.

If there is something as a perfect pet it was her. It’s ironic, I never really wanted her in the beginning. For one, she didn’t have a tail. What cat doesn’t have a tail? But she did everything in her power to get my attention and I realized that I wasn’t leaving that shelter without her.

I know, I know. I sound like a crazy cat woman. But if that’s the label one wants to give me because I care for my pets and think of them as part of the family, well, I’ll wear that one proudly.

You were a sweet little girl Lucy. I’m glad your determination shined through and I got to have you for these past four years.

Taken by a friend who was watching her as I was traveling the world. Lucy in her snuggie.

I guess this is the part of farm life I know I’ll never get use to. Actually, this is the part of life I’m not sure I’ll ever get use to. To be honest, it’s just a part of life that sucks. That part where sometimes the good die young.

Posted in Animals, Country Life, Family, Farm Life | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments