Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Quiet Thanksgiving.

This year was a different Thanksgiving for our family. We were not able to travel because Mike had to work and my parents could not make it this year like they normally do. I decided to cook anyway since my kids and hubby were looking forward to it. We thought about going out to dinner, but it's just not the same. Besides, we wanted the left overs. So, it was just me and the kids. Jarod watched football most of the day while I was in the kitchen playing my favorite Christmas music with Maleah keeping me company. I was feeling sad because I was missing my family. It means so much to me to be around family this time of year. I kept feeling sorry for myself because I felt all alone, but then I reminded myself of how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. It really is all about perspective.

My day started out making homemade bread. Once that was done (around 10am) the kids and I sat down to the table and had bread, pumpkin butter and coffee. Maleah, of course, did not partake in the coffee. The kids really enjoyed it, although, the minute I pulled out the camera to take a picture Jarod quickly got up from the table. He does not like getting his picture taken. At this point, everything was good. I was feeling quite content. I put my bird in around 11am and started putting together my side dishes. The turkey was only a 10 lb. bird, so it said to cook it 2.5-3 hours. No problem. I took the bird out after 2 hours and it barely looked like it was cooking. I was a little worried. I put it back in and ended up having to cook it 4-5 hours total, way too long. I cut into it and it was not good; very dry and almost stringy, yet bloody and not cooked when I cut the legs. I could not figure out why because I had made a turkey last year and it came out perfect. I thought maybe it was my new stainless steel roasting pan I used. It didn't have a lid like my one from last year, but I used tin foil, which is what lot of people do. I was so discouraged. I was tired from being in the kitchen all day making the whole dinner, and then my turkey did not turn out. I called Wild Oats, where I got it from, and they told me to come in and get a refund or a new bird. I was determined to figure out what happened and give it another shot, so I opted for another bird; not to mention that I really wanted to sink my teeth into a nice, juicy, tender turkey. So, I brought the new bird home the next day (Friday), but before I cooked it, I called the company that makes/raises these birds. I talked to a lady about my turkey mishap in great detail and she said she had no problems with her bird and basically did everything I did. I tried it again, only this time I put the tin foil over it for the last hour instead of the first. I told Mike I had a good feeling about this one and that it looked perfect. The thermometer we stuck in it even read the right temperature. I took it out of the oven and asked Mike to carve it. I stood there in great anticipation to see how my bird turned out this time. I just knew it was right this time. He cut into the leg and bloody juice came oozing out. I could not believe it! I could not figure out the problem. Mike told me to just let it go and chalk it up to a bad turkey year. I told him, "Honey, you know me better than that. I CAN'T! I have to figure this thing out. I gotta know how to cook this thing right for next year. I GOTTA KNOW!" I asked Mike to run over to Target and get an oven thermometer to see if it was our oven. I put the thermometer in the oven and it read the right temp, 325 degrees. I was convinced it was the bird, the bird I paid $2 a pound for because it was all natural. So, Saturday morning, I made another trip to Wild Oats. But, this time, I asked for my money back. I took that money and went and bought me a cheap bird from Hy-Vee. I got it home, prepared it the same way as the other two birds. But, this time, I decided to put the oven thermometer in with the bird while it cooked so I could watch the temperature. Interestingly enough, it was 25 degrees lower than what I set it at. having the bird in their with a big tinfoil tent over it must some how "soak up" the heat, so to speak. I turned the oven up to 350 degrees and the thermometer read 325. Okay, we are getting somewhere now. I took the foil off about an hour before it was done. Three hours later I took it out of the oven and, once again, asked Mike to carve it. I said a prayer, "Oh, dear God, let this one turn out. I'm tired of cooking turkeys." Low and behold, it was PERFECT! It was tender, juicey and DONE! Thank you, Jesus! Now my question is, "Was it because I turned up the oven or because it was the cheap bird from Hy-Vee?" I guess I'll never know. I'm just glad it turned out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Healthy Toddler Snacks.

I have a lot of people ask me what are some healthy snacks they can give to their kids. I think it so important that we give our children foods that are nourishing to their bodies without all of the garbage, such as sugar, pesticides and artificial ingredients. It's a proven fact that taking your child off (or at least limiting their intake) of sugar will drastically improve their behavior. I have made a list of some healthy snacks to give to your toddler. Keep in mind that the fruits and vegetables should be organic whenever possible. I know that organic is more expensive, but like I always say, it's either invest now in healthy eating or pay later for the doctor bills. I have learned which fruits and vegetables are higher in pesticides. The ones lower in pesticides I usually don't buy organic. And when there is a sale on organic produce I stock up. Check out for more info on buying organic produce.

Here are some ideas:

Smoothies - In a blender, mix 1-2 cups of liquid, such as milk or juice, then add frozen fruit. You can also add yogurt.

Homemade popsicles - Use your mixture from the smoothies and pour into popsicle molds. Mixing apple juice and yogurt make really yummy popsicles.

Mozzarella sticks - Organic is best.

Apple slices dipped in peanut butter (without added sugar).

Celery with peanut butter spread on it and raisins on top.

Yogurt. Watch the sugar grams in yogurt. It is usually high. BUT, do not give sugar-free because of the added artificial sugars.


Cheese and crackers. Make sure the crackers do not have hydrogenated oils.

Frozen grapes make a wonderful snack/treat.

For more information and ideas on feeding babies and toddlers healthy, homemade food, I highly recommend the book, "Mommy Made and Daddy Too" by David and Martha Kimmel. I couldn't have lived without this book when my daughter started eating solids. It has great tasting and easy recipes that are good for your child.

I hope this helps in giving you ideas for healthy snacks. The more you stay away from the prepackaged, processed stuff the better! Remember, you are setting the stage for how your kids will eat when they are older. If you start at a very early age giving them lots of fruits and veggies and healthy, whole foods, you won't have a battle on your hands trying to get them to eat like this later on.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jarod's photography work!

I wanted to share with you a few pictures from my 16 year old son's photography work. He just recently had his work featured in a local coffee shop, in which he sold some of his pictures. I am very proud of him and will work diligently to nurture and support this God-given talent. I can't wait to plaster his work all over our new house!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I did it! I did it!

I took my mother-in-law's advice and I did not give up. I tried making butter again! I had lots of cream left over from my two gallons of fresh farm milk and I did not want it to go to waste. I found a recipe online that showed how you can make butter using a food processor, and since I just got a new food processor, I thought I would give it a shot. I figured this way had to be much easier than the way I did it before, which was shaking it in a jar for a very long time. By the way, my food processor is a Cuisinart 11-cup processor that cost $199 brand new. I found it on craigslist (in excellent condition) for $50. It was a total blessing because I have been wanting this machine for a long time. Anyway, I put about 2 cups of cream in the processor, turned it on, and in about 15 minutes I had butter. I was so excited! I ran and got Mike (my hubby) and told him to come look at the butter! I was so happy and so proud! He was quite impressed. He even suggested that I mix honey in it. I think I will make homemade bread and honey butter tomorrow. Yummy!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

My first attempt at making butter.......not so good!

I recently started getting farm fresh, raw milk from a local farmer. I am not really a milk drinker, but this stuff is awesome. I have never had milk that tasted so good. I was so excited about making homemade butter from the luscious cream that I scraped off the top of the milk. After much research on how to do this, I placed the cream in a jar and shook it.....and shook it......and shook it. After 20 minutes of shaking, it was still cream. So I decided to put it in a blender. I also read that you can do this. After 15 minutes of "whirling" in the blender, nothing. Discouraged, I set it on my counter and figured I would just throw it out. After 10 minutes of sitting there, I opened it and got very excited. I saw butter forming. So I shook for another 15 minutes, but nothing more happened. So I just scraped about a tablespoon of "butter" off the top of the cream and threw the remaining cream out. I warned everyone in my family not to touch this tablespoon of butter because it was mine! I worked hard for this butter.

I have decided to stick to purchasing my organic butter from my local health food store. Oh well. I tried.