Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getting Back to Homesteading

I have missed writing the last several months!  I have taken pictures of several projects, but have not had the time to post thanks to loads of holiday busyness and more sickness than I care to remember.  Now I am going to let you in on what has been happening lately in my home.

The GMO Transformation
A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a video that was temporarily available for free.  It explains the dangers of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).  While the IDEA of something being genetically altered had always bothered me, I knew very little about the research that had been done.  Let me just say, you HAVE to watch this video if you have time.  While some of the claims are merely speculative because research just isn't available, many dangers are VERY real and VERY frightening.  Here is the link to the free video:

If that doesn't work for you, try this.  It does cost a little to rent, but it is well worth it.

Baking Up a Storm
So what does this have to do with homesteading?  Well, thanks to this video and other research I have now done on the topic, I am anxious to remove GMOs from my family's diet.  That means removing pretty much ALL corn, soy, beet sugar (ambiguously labeled "sugar" in most foods) and cottonseed that is non-organic. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW DIFFICULT THAT IS???  Well, it's hard.  Corn and soy are in everything!  So, I have been drastically attempting to go back to the homesteading ways I had before we moved last year.  I started making my own bread again from my fresh ground wheat.  Here is the recipe I used.  (More to follow in another post.)

I also tried making my own fresh ground wheat soda crackers using a recipe from my Fanny Farmer Baking Book.  They are SO delicious!  By the way, if you're looking for a good grain mill, this is the one I use.

Ten-Day Whole Food Challenge
Then, a friend of mine challenged us to ten days of whole foods (read details HERE).  No problem, since this was already the direction  I was heading.  But I tell you what, cutting out my children's morning granola bar from a box has been a challenge.  I am not going to toss them all.  I will let them slowly eat them up (I have a ton because I buy in bulk, thank you Costco), but no more relying on them for breakfasts.  I also have to be certain to plan my meals carefully to keep from being tempted to eat out.  One thing I did was to bake a whole organic chicken Sunday at 200 degrees while we were at church, so by the time we got home it was fall off the bone delicious and only needed its skin crisped up.  I'll be sure to post that recipe for you too.  What was great about that one meal is that it also provided a casserole which fed us dinner Monday night and Wednesday, as well as a ton of chicken salad that I ate for lunch yesterday and today, and will be eating again tomorrow and possibly Thursday as well.

Don't you feel so resourceful when you do that, putting leftovers to good use?  I challenge you to do one big meal next week that provides food for several days.  You don't have to eat the same thing over and over, like a giant tray of lasagna (I can barely make it anymore because I used to to this and got so SICK of it).  But find a large main dish that can be reused in different ways, and incorporate it into at least two other meals for the week.

Yesterday was an especially busy "homesteading" day.  I had several homemade projects to complete.  I started with more homemade laundry detergent (been making my own since 2009).  I then made some homemade yogurt using some new freeze dried cultures and it turned out AMAZING.  Here are the cultures I tried (although I just found them cheaper at my Earth Fare grocery store, so check around locally).  I usually just use Danon All Natural (NOT the low fat, flavored, light or any other kind) yogurt to start my batch, so this was my first time with dried cultures.  I used one pack (5 g) to culture 54 oz of yogurt.  (I have determined this is the MOST I can possibly fit in my yogurt maker.  I squeeze two 16 ounce jars, two 8 ounce jars and a 6 ounce jar in there.)  Let me tell you, though, this was the creamiest, most delectable yogurt I have ever tasted.  I put a spoonful of jam and a drizzle of honey in it this morning, topped with a sprinkling of granola.  HEAVEN.

Okay, so back to my homesteading ways yesterday... My new tortilla press arrived from Amazon!!!  I had also ordered some (non-GMO) Bob's Red Mill masa harina and one of those handy (BPA-free) tortilla holder things.  I also mixed up a little jar of taco seasoning following this recipe (except I omitted the black pepper since I felt it was spicy enough for me without it).  My husband shot his first deer on his first hunting trip ever a few weeks ago, so we had some lovely organic venison fajitas last night with our fresh tortillas.  I took the extra tortillas and made some chips following this recipe.

Upcoming Projects
So that's what I've been up to the past couple weeks!  Let me tell you a little bit of what I would like to start working on in the upcoming weeks.  First of all, I was with my family in Earth Fare Saturday, stocking up on non-GMO items (organic whenever possible), and I was checking out their prices on organic milk.  I have shied away from the organic milk at Costco, where I usually buy regular milk for $3.00-3.15/gal.  Costco has their organic milk for a whopping $7.70/gal!!  No way I could justify spending that, but after reading about the dangers of GMOs and knowing that was in my baby's milk.....  So here I was at Earth Fare and I see THEIR organic milk is only $5/gal!  I was about to buy some when a kind young gentleman stocking a shelf asked if he could help.  I told him I was looking to switch to organic milk and he began to tell me about the milk he was stocking on the shelf above the store brand.  It was called Alabama's Organic Milk.  Hmm, local!  You don't understand, we don't live in dairy country down here, so I don't see local milk often.  Okay, ever.  I once bought some raw milk cash under the table from a farmer, but that's the only time we've ever had it and I was afraid to give it to the kids since it was not pasteurized.  Anyway, this milk is not only local, but this guy, Johnny, and his family run the farm and are the state's only certified organic dairy farm!  It costs $6.50/gal, but I decided it was worth it to support a local farmer who was doing things the RIGHT way, the organic way.  I encourage you to read about this farm here on their website.  If you don't live in Alabama or do not have a store that sells Alabama's Organic, I urge you to try to find a local or at least organic source for your milk, if there is any way you can make it work in your budget.

So what does this have to do with upcoming projects?  Well, wouldn't you know, Johnny and his family also sell their organic cream!  Only $10 per half gallon.  That isn't a bad price for heavy cream even compared to non-organic!  So what can I do with this lovely cream?  Make butter, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, clotted cream, and any number of delightful dairy treats!  Stay tuned for these exciting (to me) endeavors.  : )

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