Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shake, shake, shake! Shake your BUTT-ER!!

I'm very excited that we've have the opportunity to purchase a cow share. We get a half gallon of raw milk weekly, along with a dozen eggs from our fabulous farmers Ms. Emily and Mr. Daniel at Tuckahoe Lamb and Cattle.

Last week for whatever reason, we didn't drink our milk. Saturday morning I stood staring at a gallon milk. We decided to make a go at butter.  Being a former preschool teacher, I've made butter from heavy whipping cream before. So using a spoon I skimmed the cream from the top of our milk and placed it in a mason jar. I set the jar on the counter top for an hour while I began making our roast for lunch.   After an hour in the ever warming kitchen, the cream felt the right temperature. I've always been a hands on temperature reader for most things, even meat at times. 

I began shaking the jar. Miss Moo came in and asked to help. We shook. We danced. We made a butter making song.  We shook some more. I was amazed at how quickly this butter came together. I recall being in the classroom for what seemed like an eternity shaking little jars of cream to assist my Pre-K's in the butter churning process.  I also recall having to form my butter into a ball before rinsing it in the past.

Here is my butter just out of the jar.

After rinsing and salting, I stirred it and formed it back into a ball.

I then remembered that Nana gave me a small pineapple butter mold.

Nana and I are a little nuts about pineapples. Well, perhaps that isn't worded strongly enough. We are a bit obsessed with pineapples. They are all OVER her kitchen and creeping their way in here. I LOVE the southern quality of the pineapple and just how happy they look!

Next, I shoved that little gal in the mold and threw her in the fridge!

After lunch, and with the girls safely tucked away in their sleepy naps, I pulled my butter out to see my pineapple :)
Pottery by John Bryant of Old Tavern Clay.
Can you see it?? Are you sure? Maybe if you squint?? Oh, good!!

Perhaps the mold wasn't the best idea considering I made a very small amount of butter. But the point is that I made it, it was easy, fast, and fun for Miss Moo.

I'm trying to find ways to allow her to help in the kitchen more. Miss Roo is much more of a challenge during meal preparation now that she is walking, running, and "helping" me. I spend a lot of time doing things quickly or ahead of time to avoid stepping on or over Roo.  Moo does want to help, but in many cases shows interested during the last few steps of meals which can be quite boring for her and frustrating for me. So, butter making was a great kid activity and simple. You might consider making some with your little helpers. It's as simple as a jar, a dance, and a song!

Real Food Confession

Further details on how our house isn't perfect ;)

Real Food Confessions: Malissa

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes, we eat junk.

I'd like to report that we eat 3 squares a day with two snacks, every day. I'd also like to have you believe that we always eat organic and never eat junk.

 But, that would be a big fat lie.

We DO eat junk. I am sure there are households who don't, and I envy them. But alas, I'm human and I can't even do 1/2 of it all well, much less all of it.  Sometimes, we eat junk.

 By junk, I don't mean just food I don't make, but it's also food that's not good for us. Miss Moo loves Cici's and prior to our realization that she was gluten sensitive she earned trips there from time to time. We eat at Chick-Fil-A much more than we should - my guess is once a week there for a while. And I haven't mastered Mexican meals like the joint 1.5 miles away dishes up - so we eat there when I really, really want Pollo Fundido.

So, yes. We eat junk. I strive to keep the junk to one thing a day. Moo found a Berenstain Bears book at the library that she fell in love with and has been added to our library at home. She can explain the difference between good food and junk food thanks to our efforts and Papa Bear. If she asks for more junk in a day when she has had a marshmallow or yogurt, she responds correctly to being asked what too much junk can do to her body. That helps me feel like less of a real food failure.

I have begun making meal plans and this has helped me tremendously. Going on one big trip to the store once a week is much better than a trip daily for dinner goods. It also help Drew to know what is going on with dinner when he starts his work day. Planning lunches and dinners also gives me a break in planning leftover days. It's a system that works here and you might consider using at your own house.

I don't plan breakfasts because the girls and I are grazers in the mornings. Some days fruit, some days toast and cream cheese, it just depends on the day. Lunch and dinner are planned for daily and the plan stays on my fridge.  Here is an example of a week's meal plan.

Lunch  - pizzas, apple sauce, carrots
Dinner - Spaghetti, salad, cucumbers. watermelon


Lunch - grilled ham and cheese, Veggie Booty, bananas
Dinner - Shrimp and grits, salad, cantaloupe

Lunch - Shrimp and grits, cheese, watermelon
Dinner: London broil, wedge salad, peas, yogurt

Lunch - chicken "nuggets", peas, mac and cheese
Dinner -  BREAKFAST! :)

Lunch - Butter noodles, cucumbers, berries
Dinner: Barbecued chicken, grilled corn, grilled veggies, risotto

Lunch - chicken, grapes, cheese, baked beans
Dinner - Farmer Johnson's

Lunch - hot dogs, veggie booty, rest of fruit share
Dinner - Burgers, fries, beans salad, brownie bites (?)

Some weeks I plan a meal out, other weeks I don't. It just depends on what is going on in our world and how much time we will get together as a family on the weekends.

From time to time now that I have a plan, I'll take pictures of dinner and post them along with recipes and tips.

What do you do to plan for food? Do you eat junk?

***I started this post about a month and a half ago. The picture of Miss Roo is from tonight's feast :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Reading

Miss Moo has always loved books. Ever since she was old enough to sit up she wanted to hold books, even if it was to rip pages or eat them. Miss Roo is at a similar stage now. I spend hours daily picking up all the books strewn all over the house. Sometimes I complain, but most days I feel blessed that my girls love reading as much as I do.

 This summer Miss Moo has begun "reading" to us. She has countless book memorized and sits to read them to us. She's asking about letters and spelling things to me, though she doesn't quite realize it yet. (So far, her favorite things to spell to me is Target ;) ) I have collected a few chapter books to begin reading to her. So far, she LOVES Betsy Tacy.  Three Tales of My Father's Dragon is patiently waiting. I'm considering a few other classics from my childhood, but I want to wait and see how she does with these before moving on.

Miss Roo actually enjoys sitting for stories right now. Her favorite thing to do is turn the pages. I'm trying to baby proof our bookshelves by placing the sturdier books at her level. Think that's working? ;)
We read the same books over and over. And occasionally they each surprise by pulling out something new and loving it immediately. They're amazing, these girls.

Now I must go, I was just thwacked on the leg with Dora Duck and emphatically told "BOOK BOOK!!!"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'm Still Here...

Quite honestly, the last few months have kicked me pretty hard. We've had family health problems, trips, broken appliances, and the list goes on.

I'm starting to catch up and recover. We're eating every meal at home again. I'm starting to organize-again. And it's only JULY!! ;)

Hang with me, I'll slowly be back.