Better Butter (Cheaper)

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Switching to organic butter is such an important step in reducing our toxic exposure. But the price difference can seem daunting when you are feeding a large family. Here are some ways I’ve found to buy it for less.

Baseline price: Costco is about $3.95 a pound, Trader Joes $4.79 a pound. These are actually both great prices; at specialty stores it can be up to $9 a pound (more in Hawaii says my tropical sister). Note that I find the TJs butter to be higher quality than the Costco at certain times of the year (sweeter, more yellow).

Direct from the farm: I prefer to buy 12 pound blocks of butter directly from an organic dairy, and cut and wrap it myself. This is the BEST golden butter from grass fed cows, and is the cheapest at $3.25 a pound. But it takes some planning and coordination.

On clearance: yes, although organic butter rarely goes on sale, it does go on clearance at our local Safeway (see photo above). I’m so glad this major supermarket has made a decision to stock organic products, however their customer base continues to buy mostly conventional, so often their organic dairy products reach their expiration date before they are purchased. I will occasionally drop in to see what has been reduced to 50% off, and if it’s freezable I’ll stock up. For the butter above I paid $2.50 a pound! You could even check the expiration date on the fresher packages, and mark on your calendar for three days prior to the sell by date. Then drop in on that day; you’ll get it for less than conventional butter, help the store to cut its losses, and save butter from the fate of the dumpster.

And He Eats His Dinner

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He stabs. He examines. He eats his vegetables. Two servings of them, and all his salmon!

Veggie Roast
Chunky chopped: onion, zucchini, bell peppers, crimini mushrooms with whole cherry tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and Celtic sea salt and garlic granules. Place in cast iron skillet and roast over hot grill for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Serve with joy.

Roasted Salmon
Place rinsed fillet of Alaskan Salmon skin side down in tin foil “boat” and brush with marinade: 1/8 cup Tamari sauce, 1 Tb honey, juice of large lemon, 2Tb olive oil, 1/4 tsp. each dill weed and garlic powder. Roast for about 15 minutes over hot grill, until it flakes. Scoop fish off of its skin when serving.

Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

When Karen Le Billon convinced her husband to relocate their family from British Columbia to his native France, she did not realize the adjustment in eating habits which would be required of their two young daughters. Like many North American children, the three and five year old were picky eaters with only a handful of foods which comprised their diets. Their French counterparts, in contrast, ate a greater variety of foods from all the food groups, and it seemed, did so neatly and without complaint. In fact, by school age, most French children seem to eat and enjoy all the varied foods their parents do.

How could it be so? The author was plunged into a year long, sometimes painful, cultural and parenting comparison with the French system. And a system indeed it seemed: both preschool and grade school had daily lengthy luncheon times set aside for children to be served several courses of gourmet foods (no mac ‘n’ cheese or nuggets here!) to train the child in good taste (amid linens and china!) and parents approached mealtimes at home with a similar intention for exposure of a broad range of flavors.

I picked up this book (actually I had it reserved at the library before it was available in print!) because I hoped it would give some secret, some easy trick to help my children eat (and enjoy!) every meal I serve them. It gives no such tricks. Rather, the author shares the ten sensible and joyful rules (or routines, some of them attitudes) which she gleaned from her French neighbors. Some of these I congratulated myself for having already instituted so well (Kids Eat What Adults Eat), and others I was shocked at (No Snacks Allowed). The French Food Rules reflect an entire way of life and culture, so it would naturally be difficult for us North Americans to institute them all perfectly into our lifestyle (including the two hour lunch and farmers market shopping twice a week). However, most parents will find the list inspiring -if not instructive as well- in good food parenting.

Karen Le Billon’s personal account of her family’s experience of living in rural France for one year -and unintentional food appreciation adventure- is a joy to read. Not only does she describe the foods and food habits of the French in lyric, mouthwatering detail, her restrained humor had me laughing in empathy at parenting frustrations and cultural faux pas. It is not just an examination of French food and parenting culture, but of our own as well.

Summer Weather [plants and chickens]

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It’s gorgeous northwest summer weather here: 82 with a gentle breeze. The kind of weather we slog through 6 months of wet for. To celebrate, I let the kids run through sprinklers while I planted seeds in the garden.

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This is the garden bed my wonderful husband built me last year. He was tired of beating back the sod each year. A few weeks ago he spent about 20 minutes digging chicken manure into it, and it was all ready for me to plant. Which I did today with heritage seeds from Heirlooms Evermore (Azure Standard), which come in delightfully simple packages.

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Hopefully in a few months we’ll be dining on green beans, radishes, carrots, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, and enjoying sunflowers and nasturtiums.

After planting, hosing down a toddler, and putting two babies in bed for naps, I went over to the farm where I buy duck eggs each week to collect my five chickens from Tina’s refrigerator. (My husband now works from home, and agreed to listen for cries from the sleeping babies while I was out. I told you he is wonderful.)

Five chickens, over five lbs each, but she only charged me on 25 lbs. Livers, hearts, feet, and heads (for making stock…we don’t really eat that stuff) on the side, no charge. $2.50/lb, which is the price for organic birds at Trader Joes, but those birds aren’t free range. So I think this was a very good value, and I get to support my local farmer/friend in keeping our food supply local.

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On my way home, I stopped off at Rusty Glamour (formerly Uncovered Ruby) to buy some plants for $2 each. Awesome price! I chose coral bells and sedum, and resisted the urge to get plants I’m not familiar with. Better to stick with some I know I like and I think will thrive on neglect. 🙂

While packing my chickens into the freezer at home, I realized what a great local food/flowers day I had. Garden, chickens, eggs, flower plants. I love that local buying has become so normal for me.

Pot Pies and Motherhood

This is a homemade chicken pot pie, which is in a different category entirely than the frozen pot pies I craved as a child!

When I was a child, I loved pot pies. You know, the generic kind you buy from the freezer bin at the supermarket, pop in the oven for half an hour, and then eat slowly, savoring each flakey crumb of pie crust.

We rarely ever got to eat them, and as a kid I thought they were too expensive; I know I was told that as a general reason why Mom didn’t buy prepared/frozen foods. I’m sure I was also told that processed food isn’t good for our bodies, but I don’t remember ever thinking much about it. I just thought they were too expensive, and if we got them by request on our birthdays, wow, that was a splurge!

Now that I am a mother, I realize my mom was thinking of her kids health as the primary reason she didn’t buy us pot pies more than once in a very blue moon. Compared to the fresh fruits and veggies, fresh fish, whole grains, natural cheeses, whole chickens, and other “real” foods that filled my mom’s shopping cart, frozen pot pies are cheap(!) and easy(!!). If they were a healthful food, every mother would serve them twice a week.

My mother has four grown daughters with children; 14 beautiful grandchildren.  I wonder if she thinks with satisfaction about all the work of all those years in raising her children, and the wonderful reward of grandchildren for her toil. Although the feeding of a child is not nearly the whole of parenting, nor the gravest of moral responsibilities in their upbringing, it sure does take a lot of time and effort. In addition to the million things my mother taught me, gave me, and sacrificed for me, I’m grateful for the good foods she made me (and made me eat!); she gave me the nutritional foundation to grow a strong body and be ready for motherhood myself.

Thanks, Mom! I love you!

 

Almond Caramel/Brittle

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My kids raced their Awana Derby Cars tonight at the annual Grand Prix. Lots of fun! When my husband turned to me afterward and suggested celebratory ice cream, I was glad I had almond caramel bars waiting at home instead.

I haven’t been doing so well at staying perfectly on SCD. It always seems to be some “special occasion” where I indulge…but special occasions seem to come so often. I never eat gluten, but those grains, like corn chips, are so tempting to me, and I notice that I can feel it in my gut for a few days afterward. I must not be totally healed, and I know I need to focus on being grain free, as well as a concerted effort on sugar and lactose free, for the time being.

Anyway, we came home and enjoyed these:

Almond Caramel
1 stick butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup sliced almonds
Put it in a saucepan, melt over medium heat, simmer for 7 minutes while stirring, pour into a greased 5×8 glass pan, cool in fridge. Cut and serve when firm.

How easy is that? About as easy as making jello, right? That’s why this is my new favorite treat.

Today I used unsalted butter, so I added about 1/4 salt.

Brittle
I made this once, forgot to set the timer, so I kept stirring and watching it, and then I saw it change color to brown. I took it off the heat ASAP, but it had changed from caramel to brittle. Still super yummy, but if you plan it as brittle, I would recommend pouring it onto a piece of parchment paper, as it’s a little hard to chip out of the pan.