Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Harvest from the Garden

It's getting colder around here! I've spent the whole day in a sweater and wool socks and I'm still freezing! With the colder weather, the garden gets a little sadder looking. I decided to go see what I could find still growing and pull my root veggies at the same time. I didn't think I'd find much, but the ever-producing garden surprised me once again with it's secret stash of produce.

In this box: Potatoes (I didn't even plant any potatoes this year!), carrots, turnip, rutabaga

 A bucket full of kale with cabbage, rhubarb and a mystery squash

In this box: red and green tomatoes, purple and green beans, white and purple onions, 2 tiny zucchini, cucumbers and a few broccoli florets.  I also picked a bunch of sage after taking this picture. I've got that drying in the dehydrator.
I'm always amazed how different one year to the next can be in the garden. Last year was a cool summer and I didn't get a ton of anything except green beans, apples and broccoli. This year was a hot summer and I got more of everything except apples. The turnips and rutabaga went crazy and I've still got a few in the ground. Kale also did very well and there's a bit of that left in the garden as well. My winter squash did very well but then got eaten by some critters, most likely rats.  Also, this year the alpine white strawberries did much better than the red ones, but I was really bad about weeding that bed. So, who knows! I do my best from year to year and hope for the best. I guess that's all you can ever do with a garden..

Monday, September 16, 2013

Another Week of the Kids' School Lunches

A lot of the kids' lunches are repeats from previous days, but as the seasons change I know that the fruit and veggies will probably change with it. They are still packing their lunch on their own each night for the next day, which is a big time saver in the morning and a stress reducer for me. So, it's working for us quite well!

What do your kids put in their lunch boxes?

The boy: sliced turkey, lettuce, banana and a choc chip muffin
The girl: prosciutto, carrots, banana and a choc chip muffin (she left her lunch box at school and had to us a substitute)

The boy: Canadian bacon, nectarines, lettuce and a choc chip muffin
The girl: Canadian bacon, apples, carrots and a choc chip muffin

the boy: pastrami, nectarines, lettuce and a choc chip muffin
the girl: prosciutto, nectarines, carrots and a choc chip muffin

The boy: pastrami, carrots, red grapefruit (in grape juice) and a choc chip muffin (he took a bite out of it!)
The girl: hummus, carrots, nectarines and kettle chips (not my favorite lunch for her, but I'm being flexible as long as most of the lunch is good)

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Kids' Lunches for the First Week of School

I think the kids did pretty well for the first week of school. They each picked a protein, veggie, fruit and treat for each day and then ate almost all of the food every day. That's a win in my book! Their lunch boxes look very similar from day to day, but as the season's change their fruits and veggies will most likely change as well. I can see apples on the horizon as the fruit of choice in a week or so!
Day 1:
The Boy: Pastrami, nectarines, lettuce and a Chocolate Chip Muffin
The Girl: Pastrami, Pickles, Banana and Blueberry Muffin

Day 2
The Boy: Turkey, melon, zucchini and chocolate chip muffin
The Girl: Salami, Nectarines, pickles and chocolate chip muffin

Day 3
The Boy: Turkey, Melon, Chocolate chip muffin, Seaweed
The Girl: Salami, melon, chocolate chip muffin, Seaweed
Day 4
The Boy: Pastrami, melon, lettuce, chocolate chip muffin
The Girl (left her lunch box at school): Pastrami, carrots, nectarines, chocolate chip muffin

Day 5
The Boy: Pastrami, Nectarines, Lettuce, chocolate chip muffin
The Girl: Prosciutto, carrots, chocolate chip muffin, nectarines 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Few Photos from the Garden

Saw this guy hanging out on a branch in the garden. We got pretty close but he didn't seem to care about us.

The Boy was trying to feed the chicken some grass while she sunned herself in the yard. This is his "pet" chicken. He carries her around entirely too much!

Inaugural run of the new zip line.

This guy hung around all day through all of the zip lining and other goings on in the yard. Hopefully he ate a few rats by the chicken coop.
The following are photos from my Mother in Law's garden in Massachusetts.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Braised Beef with Root Vegetables

I like good beef. I like it to be grass fed and humanely raised and slaughtered. I like to know what that animal ate while it was alive, and I want to know if it was given any chemicals or drugs. In order to be sure of what I'm buying and what my family is eating, I buy my beef in bulk from a rancher I've met, talked to and like. We usually get 1/4 of a beef once or twice per year and store it in our big chest freezer.

When you get beef in bulk you get all sorts of cuts of meat. There's no cow out there that's made up of all T-bone steaks. You get some steaks, some roasts, some stew meat, ground beef, and soup bones. Some of the cuts are better when you throw them on the grill for a minute or 2 then eat them very rare. Some require more cooking. I've also found that some cuts suit me more in the summer and some are better for winter. I usually thaw my stew meat in the winter when I want to make a big pot of soup or stew, but in the summer I'm not really in the mood for that. I have found, though, that stew meat makes really good braised beef any time of year. I also happened to have a turnip that I pulled yesterday that was begging to be eaten, so that got thrown into the pan as well. You can use any root veggie you like in this dish. Carrots, onions, potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips or others would be tasty. Braising takes some time, so plan accordingly. Just like stewing meat, braising is low and slow cooking as well. Enjoy

Braised Beef with Root Vegetables
2 T coconut oil, bacon grease or butter
1 lb stew meat
1-2 C root vegetables (turnips, onions, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga or any others)
4 C warm water - divided
2 tsp. salt or to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. rosemary or other favorite herb

In a skillet (I like cast iron), melt fat. Rub meat with salt and garlic powder then brown meat in fat. When meat is just seared on all sides, add 2 C water to pan, cover and cook on medium low for about 30 minutes adding water as necessary to make sure the bottom of the pan is covered. Add chopped vegetables and rosemary at the 30 minute mark, cover and cook on low for another 45 minutes adding water as needed. Serve immediately with some liquid drizzled over the top of meat and veggies.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back to School Lunches and Breakfasts for my Cavekids

Tomorrow the kids go back to school! I can't believe I  have a third grader and a fifth grader, but somehow it happened. The kids have decided to try to be 100% dairy and gluten free (yay!). So we have been working on how to make that happen. Even though I eat Paleo, it's not as easy to find things for the kids to take for lunch that fit into that category. I'll eat practically any vegetable, meat or fruit, but they are much more picky. The boy also doesn't really like cold meat, so we're working on ways to keep his meat warm or find meats he will eat cold.

As we start the school year, we're focusing on things I know they like and will try to add in other more adventurous items as the year progresses. So far in my preparations I've made a big batch of coconut flour chocolate pancakes to put in the freezer. Both kids like pancakes and can pop these babies in the toaster every morning to make their own breakfast. Add some precooked bacon and almond milk to that and they are set! Next week we may make some bacon and egg cups or pizza cups to have on hand for breakfast, but for now we're sticking to pancakes.

I also baked a big batch of chocolate chip muffins to put in the freezer. Instead of the applesauce I usually use in the recipe, I substituted zucchini puree. That way even if he doesn't eat the vegetables in his lunch box he's gotten zucchini anyway.  I also brought home a few blueberry muffins from our Farmer's Market Stall the other day just to give them some variety.

The kids will be packing their own lunches every night before they go to least that's the plan. I made a chart for them to consult when deciding what to pack. It's got 4 categories to choose from, and they should pick one item from each category. The 4 categories are: Protein, Veggie, Fruit, Treat. If they want an extra serving of one of the other 3, they can always leave out the Treat category, although I don't really anticipate that happening. In making this chart I asked the kids what they liked and listed those items. I figure if they both dislike turnips, there's no point putting that on the chart, right? So this is our chart so far...I'm sure we'll add more items as the year progresses and probably ditch ones that don't go over well.

Boiled Eggs
Bacon and Egg Cup
Sliced Turkey
Ham Cubes
Chicken Legs
Salt and Vinegar Almonds - recipe to come!

Kale Chips - planning try out another recipe using the dehydrator

Banana - fresh or dehydrated
Strawberries - fresh or frozen
Blueberries - fresh or frozen

Chocolate Chip Muffin
Blueberry Muffin
Everyday Cookie
Smoothie in a Thermos

Here is what the kids packed for the first day of school. The girl chose pastrami, pickles, a banana and a blueberry muffin.

The boy chose pastrami, a nectarine, few pieces of romaine lettuce and a chocolate chip muffin.

I'm anxious to see what gets eaten and what gets brought back home!


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