Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Smart Boy!!

I have many reasons to be proud of my children, but sometime they do something that just really makes you happy and you realize they are getting it!!

My 6 1/2 year old son is a foodie. He really always has been. He even as a small toddler loved to be in the kitchen and had to smell everything he ate or we were cooking. His little brother is quite similar in that regard and loves to just sit in front of my spice cupboard smelling each canister and asking what it is.

Wednesday I went to the wave pool with my older two children as they had a field trip from Farm Camp. I left the youngest home with dad (easier to manage swimming at a public place with just two to watch). It started pouring rain at one point and so we went under the pavillion (where the snack bar is) to get a bit out of the rain. I relented to my daughter's request to go get some junk food (we RARELY ever eat this kind of treat). We had brough our own packed lunch and they had eaten their good food already, so I figured a small treat of junk on a special field trip was ok. We went in and my daughter could not decide what she wanted, she was in awe of the pizza, nachos, ice cream, chips, etc. It was a junk food bonanza and of course was about the worst quality type of junk. We eat a bit of junk in our house, but it is what I consider the healthier side of junk (pita chips, tortilla chips (organic), homemade sweets --usually made with unrefined sweeteners). This was the BAD of the BAD. I felt guilty just walking in there. After several minutes (and letting several groups go in front of us) I finally convinced my daughter that she would not be happy with any of the "food" items as they taste terrible and are not what she is expecting. So we settled on an ice cream cone (soft serve on a wafer cone). My son can't have dairy, so I asked if he wanted anything else (bag of chips, etc.). He said he didn't want anything. I wanted to make sure as I didn't want any melt downs once we were out of that awful place. He said, "Mom, I don't want anything here, it all has high-fructose corn syrup and it is all food made in a factory" I was so proud. I gave him a hug and told him I had a special present for him a home.

He tasted the ice cream and said "I can't even believe you like that it doesn't even taste like real ice cream--Yuck". Funny as it isn't real ice cream.

We have taught him well. He always has been the most into the healthy food movement (as compared to my other two) and I really think that it is due to the fact he was about 18 months old when we started changing our family food culture and diet. He was brought up with it and is now old enough to appreciate it. My daughter had too much exposure to the SAD life and still is willing to eat whatever junk comes her way. I also think to a large extent it is their personalities. My daughter is very creative and less able to focus on one thing. That brings it's own set of issues but she is so bright and creative it is fun to watch her when she is in her "groove" of creativity. Jeremy is very much the type A personality. Very into getting the facts, working it out, and it has to be perfect. He soaks it all in and is much more introverted. He can be a big ham and silly guy and is good at making friends, but he is very "studious" I would say.

However, I love that he wants to learn why we eat the way we do. He tells others why too and he is not shy about expressing his views on "good" food vs. "yucky" food.

Gotta love it.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Food Porn

I hadn't heard the term "food porn" until recently. I was checking out a cooking bulletin board I frequent and someone mentioned it when they were discussing a site devoted to food and blogs that had been shut down.

Apparently, this site ( was shut down due to some legal issues and is hoping to reopen. I had never heard of it, but was too late to check it out. Well, in the backlash of so many devotees complaining, someone created a similar site. I had to check it out. Now I see what they were talking about, it is addictive, fun and can suck you into spending lots of time reading blogs and thinking about food. Of course, for me, I need no extra reason to think, write, read, make, etc. about food. I love food and cooking. In fact, tonight for my birthday, I signed my husband and I up to take a cooking class instead of going out to a traditional restaurant. We are going to Simply Good in Birmingham.

The new site for "food porn" is The concept is neat, people submit pictures of food and some are chosen to be posted which then links the picture to the blog it comes from. The pictures are incredible and it really makes me drool and want to up my game in the food photography department (mine are pretty poor currently). I have found many interesting recipes and blogs just in the few days I have checked the site.

Anyway enjoy!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nourishing Soup

I am a soup person!! I love soup. I make soup quite often. Since the weather here has turned a bit cooler (unusual for this time of year) and a bit dreary, I decided to make soup for dinner last night.
Everyone else in the family loves soup too, except my youngest child. For some reason he just won't eat soup (except he does eat my husband's matzo ball soup).

I have been trying very hard to get over a little sinus congestion, so I was craving some good brothy soup. I decided that something with homemade chicken stock, garlic and ginger would be a good thing to help knock this out of me. I did a quick search online and didn't really find what I was looking for, I was thinking of an Asian flavor soup, so I just created as I went, using an egg drop soup technique but adding my own combination of flavors.

It turned out great and my son who loves soup (Jeremy) begged for it for breakfast. Rachel, Jeremy and I had a bowl (or two) for breakfast, and I must say it was a great way to start the day!!

Here is what I did:

I heated up a pot of homemade chicken stock and added 2 large cloves of pressed garlic, about a tablespoon or so of grated ginger, a couple of tablespoons (estimates, I just poured) of organic tamari soy sauce, some redmond sea salt, and half a bag of mixed organic frozen veggies (carrots, corn, peas and green beans). I then chunked up some leftover roasted chicken (it was about a breast and a half of chicken) and put it in. I heated it up and tasted it, good but missing something. I added some more salt and a bunch of ground black pepper. DH tasted it and we decided it needed a few drops of fish sauce. I then turned off the heat and I streamed in two beaten eggs (local, organic, pastured eggs) slowly over the tines of a fork and stirred in a clockwise direction as the egg hit the broth. It was so good and very filling and nourishing. The egg ribbons were nice and silky and the soup was very tasty.

The kids loved it (except for Ben, who won't try anything called soup and ate plain chicken and some bologna for dinner). After dinner my husband said he felt so good that the soup really just made his whole body feel good and healthy!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

For Father's Day I had my in-laws and my husband's grandmother over for dinner. We were supposed to go to Jay's parent's house, but they decided to come here due to the weather forecast. We grilled a local chicken with homemade BBQ sauce and had salad made from local greens and other local toppings. We also had some local asparagus. My in-laws brought over some racks of lamb chops and some veggies to grill. It was an awesome meal rounded out with some homemade Sauerkraut and Kim Chi.

My mother-in-law was concerned about dessert, so I thought up something easy I could make quickly. I remembered that just a few weeks ago I put away in the freezer a bunch of Rhubarb from my father's yard (and a few stalks from my plants I started a couple years ago) and that we still had some strawberries from Ware Farm in Bear Lake in the freezer. I did a quick online search to find a basic Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp recipe and then made some healthy changes to it.

It turned out fabulous. In fact, everyone raved about it!! My mother-in-law asked me to make it for her 4th of July party too.

Here is my version of the recipe (which I doubled and used a 9x13 pan and baked for approx 45 minutes). I used whole wheat pastry flour and oats from Westwind mill and Caulder's butter. The rest of the ingredients (besides the rhubarb, strawberries, flour, oats and butter) weren't local but were healthy!! We served it with a bit of vanilla ice cream on the side!!


Lisa's Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
Serving Size : 4

2 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups strawberries -- if small can use whole, or if big, slice or cut in pieces
1/2 cup rapadura
1 tablespoon organic cornstarch
2 tablespoons organic orange juice

Ingredients for Topping:
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup rapadura
5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons pecans (or walnuts) -- chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking pan
In a mixing bowl combine and toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and orange juice
Transfer mixture to the buttered baking dish
Mix the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or use your fingers until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs
Mix in chopped nuts and spread over the fruit mixture
Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling (30-35 minutes)

Note: Because ovens vary, check the cooking progress of the dessert after 25 minutes.

Yummy Local Meals

As part of the One Great Michigan Summer challenge (see previous post), I have been more conscious about meal planning. Today I had two fried eggs with toast. I cooked local, organic, free-range eggs in Calder's butter and cracked some black pepper over them. I had a slice of homemade honey whole wheat bread slathered with Caulder's butter to dip in the beautiful, yellow yolks. I make the bread with flour from Westwind Mill in Argentine, local honey, local milk and local eggs. It also has some salt, yeast, water and a bit of wheat gluten added. It is very good and I make it in the bread machine (which is so easy). I love to make bread by hand and frequently do, but sometimes just for ease and time savings, we use the bread machine.

For lunch I packed a lunch in one of our Laptop Lunchboxes to take to my Healthy Traditions Network Leadership Team meeting. I had a salad with local greens, sausage from Oliver's Dairy Farm, Spiced Gouda Cheese from Grassfield's and dried cherries from Northstar Organics. I had homemade ranch dressing on the salad (in the small container next to the salad). I also had a Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich made on my homemade Honey Whole Wheat Bread with Naturally Nutty Natural Peanut Butter (a local company that adds flax seed and hemp seed and it is all organic) on top of the PB I put a bit of local raw honey. I also had some chunked up salami and spiced gouda on the side and some homemade Kim Chi (Korean Sauerkraut). I had some local strawberries from Maple Creek Farm as dessert. I took a bottle of water and some homemade Kombucha to drink and boy was it a filling and wonderful lunch on the go!!
The pictures don't do the food justice. I need to learn to take better food pictures!! I'll work on it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Local Michigan Summer

My friend Julie who owns La Vida Local has a great blog!! Another member of her group and blog, Mandi, posted about a challenge on another site called One Local Summer. The challenge requires you to cook one meal a week (at a minimum) from all local food. If I understand it right, you can exempt oil, spices and salt. That challenge closed to new members a while back, but Mandi teamed up with Julie to do a One Local Michigan Summer!!

This is right up my alley and will force me to be creative and more local. I already do A LOT of local foods, but never really thought about every little ingredient. I have done pretty well the first two weeks of the challenge, but it was harder than I thought to be totally local. It will get easier as summer goes on, when more goodies are available.

I love reading (and seeing) what other make too, it gives me really good ideas and also new items to find and try!!

You can read about the MI challenge rules here and sign up too.

You can see my meals (and other mouthwatering entries) on this site too. I made a salad earlier in the week that was terrific and Father's day we had a breakfast/brunch with my family and I posted on La Vida Local Online Blog about it.

You can also find a link to the original challenge and check out what others around the country are eating in their local area.

Good Luck and Have Great Local Eats!!

Dried Michigan Cherries

I discovered last September at the Wise Traditions Michigan Conference in Livonia a cherry purveyor from a farm in MI. Northstar Organics. I bugged the owner of my CSA (and anyone else who might be interested in a source for cherries) to order so we could get some without buying a full case. Well finally we were able to get them (we also got fresh tart MI cherries frozen from the same farm and they are wonderful). I love them and so do 2 of my children and my husband. My favorite use for them is to make soaked oatmeal for breakfast (I soak the oats in water, whey and lemon juice overnight and then dump that in a pot and add a bit more water, some celtic sea salt, butter and cinnamon), I put a bit of Michigan Maple syrup, some dried cherries and some crushed crispy pecans on top!! It is the best breakfast!!

My 3 year old loves the dried cherries for snacking (so do I). I also love them on a salad. They are expensive, but they are so much better than any other cherries I have had. I pay $10 a pound for them and treat them like gold.

Well today we had a cherry tragedy. My 3 year old snuck the jar of cherries outside. I keep them in a mason jar in the cupboard, older siblings must have left the cupboard unlocked (a no-no around here) and Ben took them out for a treat. Of course, he accidently dropped the jar on the patio and crash, it broke and the cherries ended up in a mess on the patio entwined with bits of cottonwood and glass shards. I cried more for the cherries than the son (who was not hurt, but who I had to grab and dig the cherries out of his mouth to be sure he didn't get some bits of glass ingested with them).

It is only cherries, but oh it just broke my heart. Maybe it just seemed so sad because we just had to take our car in for repairs for the third time recently and of course it was one item covered under warranty and one expensive one that wasn't. Money in, money out!!

At least I still have some cherries I froze (dried) to enjoy, I'll have to see if I can get more soon!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Royal Oak Farmer's Market and other farm news

I just have to say that I love the Royal Oak Farmers Market. It is a bit of a drive for me, but it has such a fantastic vibe!! I have always loved farmers markets, as a kid and as an adult I would go with my dad to the farmers market every Saturday morning. We would either eat breakfast and go, or go really early and then go out to breakfast. As an adult, we would meet there for our weekly treasure hunt!! The market that we frequented was the Oakland County Farmers Market.

As I learned more about Nourishing Traditions, The Weston A. Price Foundation , eating organic, and issues with our food supplies and what is healthy, I would not buy as much at the market. It is a great market, but they don't really have any organic growers that sell there. It got to be harder and harder to buy the conventional items and we joined a CSA in 2003 so we were getting a lot each week that way.

However, I think buying local is important. I will buy local over anything else, but if I can find local and organic, I am in food heaven!! My dairy farmer is at the Royal Oak Farmers Market every other Saturday. Picking up my milk there is something I choose to do because I get the chance to go there and load up! The market is open all year, but in the prime season (now--through summer and fall) it is crowded!! I made the mistake of not getting there until 10 am yesterday and my favorite vendor was out of carrots and beets as well as other things.

Another reason I love the market is that there are several organic farmers there as well as my dairy farmer and Hampshire Farms is there too selling great bread, baked goods, flour and grains. It is an all around great market!!

Yesterday, I got some swiss chard and garlic from Cinzori's Organic Farm. I love Mr. Don Cinzori and his entire family and staff. I often meet my friend Heidi at the market and we love to just chat with Mr. Cinzori for a while. He knows just about everything about growing things organically as he has been doing it for near 30 years (if I remember correctly) and he knows so many MI farmers that he is a great resource. My husband went to school with one of his sons, so we seem to have a built in affinity and connection with their family!! I know many of the farmers at the market and it is just nice to walk in and say hi and have them say hi back and chat a while!!

I missed out on the carrots, but the lovely person at Cinzori's booth dug through the box of left over carrot tops (which they take back to their farm and compost) and found a handful of small carrots that were mixed in. She tucked them in my bag and when I asked how much I owed her for them, she said they were a gift. They certainly were a gift, and one we have been eating with vigor and much joy!! YUMMM!! I missed out on the beets , so next time I go, I will be sure to get there early, Jay and the kids are still bummed we missed the beets as Jay wanted to make Beet Kvass and Rachel was whining cause she wanted Teryaki Beets! Maybe I will go next Saturday (although it isn't my week to get milk!!).

I also went and visited Michelle Lutz at Maple Creek Farm at the market. They had luscious fresh picked Michigan strawberries. Oh what a treat, the first picking!! All organic too. I bought a quart and could kick myself for not getting more. However, they were $5 a quart. I also got some garlic scapes and radishes from Maple Creek!!

Fruit prices in Michigan this year will most likely be higher than ever. Not only is fuel prices affecting the price, but so are other costs. Those that run a farm have been paying a lot more for everything and the price of grain is out the roof!! Organic grains are very hard to even come by if you can afford to pay the sky-high prices. I wanted some wheatberries recently and they just aren't available. The bakers are having trouble sourcing enough to make their bread so of course buying local, organic bread flour is going to be tough. Hopefully in the fall the new crops will come in and the supply will pick up!! We also had a late devastating frost this year and many farmers lost most if not all of their fruit crops.

The farm where we purchase our cherries lost their entire sweet cherry crop due to frost and their apples were severely impacted. Hopefully their tart cherries will be ok, but for sure the prices will be higher!! The orchard where we get our fabulous apples and cider also had frost losses. Apparently, he lost his honeycrisp crop (my favorite apples) and isn't sure how much of the rest of his crop will make it. We had short supplies last year too due to frost and we had a hard time getting apples and cider. We didn't get to make as much applesauce this year either and are already out. Our blueberry farmer said she did ok saving the bushes from the frost (with a lot of hard work, it is a lot to go water, cover and make sure the plants survive the frost!!) but that deer are eating the bushes, so we don't know what kind of blueberries we will get this year or how many. Not sure on the strawberries this year, but I hope we get our supply. We get them from Ware Farm in Bear Lake, MI and they are amazing. We make jam, freeze them for smoothies and other things and eat them fresh!!

My dad wants to go to the Royal Oak Farmers Market with me sometime, so that will be fun, a new twist on an old tradition!!