An open letter from Oklahoma regarding the Boston Marathon

I love his line: “…good guys will show up….And they’ll keep showing up.”

proactiveoutside

Dear Boston,

It’s hard to find the right words. But we feel your pain, shock and sadness. Deep within us.

In a little less than two weeks, people from all over Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma are going to gather to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It’s a great race, the state’s biggest. And while competition and achievement are high on the list for those of us going, there is a higher purpose for the event: To highlight the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

In a matter of a few days, we here in Oklahoma are going to reflect on the event that gave rise to the Memorial, and later the marathon that bears its name. It was on April 19, 1995, that Timothy McVeigh exploded a huge truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168 people — including 19 children…

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A must make recipe for almond junkies: marzipan cupcakes

So, Sheldon is a bit of a marzipan addict. For Christmas, he ordered a big box of those little marzipan fruits just so he (and my Dad) could sit and eat them. Santa didn’t even get cookies put out for him and his reindeer..he got marzipan.

pic courtesy of amazon.com

pic courtesy of amazon.com

As a result, I have been hunting for the perfect marzipan cupcake recipe and thanks to All Recipes, I was able to riff on one of their recipes and create what I think was the perfect almond flavored cupcake for the marzipan junkie in your life:

The crust:

1 Cup AP Flour

3 Tbl White Sugar

7 Tbl room temp butter

1 egg yolk

I used my stand mixer to mix all of these together to form a ball of dough.  From there, knead for a few minutes on a floured surface (or in a wide mouthed bowl if you are lazy like me) until it is smooth.  Wrap in plastic and let sit in fridge for 15 minutes.

The filling:

8-12 oz marzipan or almond paste  cut up (You can get marzipan in big cans.  Recommend that for this recipe)

5 Tbl cold butter, cut up

2 whole eggs

1/2 almond extract

Mix these together until they form a smoothish paste.  The original recipe calls for it to be smooth, but I left mine lumpy (lumps of marzipany goodness) and it was sooo worth it.  More on that in a sec.   Then take the dough and press it into cupcake liners like you are making mini pies.  Go about halfway up the liner.  Pour in the filling about 1/2-2/3’s of the way up the liner.  Then cook in a 400 degree oven for a 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cook on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes (until you can take them out by hand really) and then allow them to cool for another few minutes.  The original recipe called for frosting/glaze but I found that I just didn’t need it.  Because we left the marzipan in chunks inside, it was like having a cupcake with filling and it was awesome.  I would post pics of the finished product here, but frankly they didn’t make it that far.  Yum.  Good luck and happy baking!

You know you are excited to homestead when….

You awake with glee at 3:00 am because you got a response offering you 13 free pallets for your gardening project.

You are excited to find food grade rain barrels 2 hours away and plan a family adventure day around that.

You find a big bunch of worms in your compost pile.

You stop yourself from throwing away that bottle thinking…surely there is something else I can use this for (and then you do-no hoarding here people!)

And when you read other peoples’ posts on poop, fish, agriculture, farming, gardening and DIY crafts with glorious abandon.  You just might be a homesteader!

Making your own chicken feed

Sheldon and I were discussing chicken feed the other day.  Super sexy talk for an old married couple, right?  Well, for homesteaders it’s the backbone of your chicken flock.  Sure, chickens can scavenge for food during the spring/summer but if you want them to lay with consistency (and lay eggs strong enough to make it to your fridge), you need to put some thoughts into what you feed them when they can’t feed themselves so that they get enough nutrition, grit (for digestion) and calcium (for shell strength), etc.

I came across this article from Mother Earth News from the mid 70’s that talks about working with local “silos” to formulate an exact mix.

TLC has this recipe for Organic Chicken Feed

And Examiner has this recipe that seems to be very nut/seed heavy and isn’t any cheaper (but honestly, I’m sure better feed) than commercial brands

However, with the desire to do more with less and ultimately become as self-sufficient as possible, I still don’t feel like we have cracked the code.  So, I’m wondering…for all of you other cluckers out there-what do you feed your chicks/chickens on a regular basis?  Commercial?  Organic (gulp, expensive in our part of the country)?  or home-made?  I would love it if we could share some ideas!

It’s time for a quickie

Not much to say today since I have miles to go before I sleep, but did want to share this pretty view from my “office” this morning.  I would also share a picture of our alpha barn cat Fluffy Newspaper, but it’s hard to get a picture of him when he is too busy sticking his bottom in my face.  What is the deal with cats and their bottoms?  Sigh.  Anyway-hope you have a beautiful day!

 

This would be perfect if my toes weren't freezing.

This would be perfect if my toes weren’t freezing.

Whole foods got me pregnant

I bet that title made you look!

Seriously…I want to share a little story with you from about 6 years ago.  After a couple of years of diet, exercise and eating less (but not always better), I had found myself in far better shape than I had been in years.  I was leaner, stronger and happier.  Enter in Sheldon with his wily smile and cooking prowess and fast forward a year or two,  I had gained a ton of weight back.  I was in that happy phase of love where it’s ok if everyone has a big butt…you have a big butt together.  At least that is what we tell ourselves, right?

Well, I decided to do something about it.  I think without realizing it, I had decided to take my first steps towards an ultimately more healthful life when I decided to give up processed food for a month.  You know how hard it is to give up processed food?  I am a child of the 70’s.  For years, my idea of food nirvana was a diet coke, a box of twinkies and a pile of magazines with nothing else to do but snack and read.

This picture of the world's ultimate non-whole food courtesy of wikipedia

This picture of the world’s ultimate non-whole food courtesy of wikipedia

But, I knew I needed to make a change and I was unwilling to try yet another program diet.  It just made sense to me that to eat more like our ancestors had to be the trick.

So, how did I do it?  Well, we had not yet started our city home backyard garden, so it was thrice weekly trips to Whole Foods and Healthy Approach Markets.  The farmers market in Dallas at that time had few organic vendors if you can believe it.  And I wanted to be as close to nature as possible.  I wanted to only eat whole foods and as much as possible, I avoided foods that had been processed.  Which meant no pink stuff (I lost the taste for it that month and never got it back thank goodness) for my coffee, only sugar and whole cream.  I gave up bread entirely which was not a bad deal.  Most cereals were out.  Prepackaged snack foods like crackers and chips, adios.  I ate lots of balanced meals without mystery ingredients.  What started off as no processed foods evolved a bit into focusing on limiting processed foods, but also no foods with mystery ingredients.  Was I ok with granola with several ingredients?  Sure.  Did I pick granola that had been made off shore with polydifardnesnelsud (ok, I made that word up, but you know what I mean)…nope.  That wasn’t happening.  For lunch, I ate out almost daily enjoying as many simple foods as location allowed.  Some cultures seem to lend themselves well to this type of cooking, and for me, Mexican (or more accurately Tex Mex) was a winner.  I eschewed my weight watchers crackers, diet soda and processed low fat/low cal foods.  I feasted on fruit, veggies, meats, certain cheeses, yogurts and simple desserts.  I remember enjoying what I ate so much, not watching my caloric intake at all and yet still dropping 20 lbs in a month.  And you still want to tell me how diet foods are for good for us????  Yeah, not so much, huh?

And at the end of that month, I failed to realize that another odd change had occured for me.  See, I had been told many many moons ago that children would not be an option for me.  And I had never felt the call to challenge that diagnosis.  However, as my body started to feel weird and different (as it only can when you have a wee alien living inside of you), I began to realize that perhaps all of the junk I was putting into my body was also stopping God’s natural process.  For me, not only did I lose weight and feel great, but I got a Blueberry to boot.

Now, this is not to say that healthy eating is the only thing you need to do to fix infertility problems.  Come on-it’s not that easy as any couple with baby fever can tell you.  However, all I’m sharing is my real story of how I went from highly processed to a mom within just a couple of months.  I still have miles to go before my family has eradicated all of our reliance on grocery store “junk”, not to mention the junk in our proverbial trunks, but that month opened…no, reopened the door to the wonder of God’s bounty to me and reminded me that it’s just not nice to fool with mother nature.  Happy eating!

Looking forward to trying these!

ByzantineFlowers

One Million Gardens can change the world

Start a Garden… why is the garden so important? It teaches us all in what we can do Now! Break free from the dependency from Big Agra, and take out the guest work of knowing that the food you grow will be safe to eat! An organic garden also helps restore and repopulate the bee colonies. In this video noted physicist & recipient of The Right Livelihood Award, Dr. V. Shiva simplifies what we’re all trying to do.

Extensive List of Organic Pest Control Remedies

List compiled by Australian Organic Gardening Posted on Wake Up World

ORGANIC BUG SPRAY FROM ONION SCRAPS

You can make your own organic bug spray from kitchen leftovers! Simply save your onion skins, peels and ends then refrigerate in an empty margarine-sized tub or ziplock bag until the container is full. Once you have enough, place the onion…

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Slow Foods Ark of Taste: Is real food becoming extinct?

For those of us who are actively making a conscious effort to eat food closer to how God originally created it, I think the slow food movement is less of a movement and just more of a way of life.  But what is the slow food movement you cheesie pouf eating readers may ask?  Well, in a very small nutshell, it’s a movement that was started to help consumers realize just how much genetically modified, engineered and just plain wrong food hits their plates every day.  What I really like about the ideas that they espouse is the concept that the best foods shouldn’t be reserved for the rich…that is, those people who can afford to go to Whole Foods and Sprouts every day picking up the best organic produce that the market has to offer.  No.  Slow food is about making this food available at all income levels in every store so that we all are getting the best of God’s bounty-not just what Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta want us to have.

badge courtesy of slow food usa

badge courtesy of slow food usa

To that end, enter in their US Ark of Taste.  The Ark of Taste is a listing of 200 foods who are in danger of becoming extinct.  Many of these are regional specialties, but I think it’s a national imperative that we stop and think about what we are putting on our plates.  When is the last time you stopped and thought about the variety of produce you were putting into your cart at your local mega mart?  For some of us, probably not too often.  But, there are plenty of little changes even the non-homesteader can do in the grocery store.  Instead of reaching for that same bag of brown potatoes, try the reds, golds or better yet, the purple potatoes!  See those long white radishes next to the round red ones?  Try those instead!  Armenian cucumbers instead of “regular” cucumbers?  Yes please!  Another great way to ensure biodiversity and the inherent values behind the Slow Food movement is to frequent roadside stands and/or farmers markets.  Yes, some of the produce available at these events is going to be GMO and loaded with chemicals, but in other cases you are going to find small scale farmers who are doing everything in their power to produce heirloom produce without the use of harmful chemicals even if they can’t jump through the hoops from the USDA to become “certified organic.”  And speaking of heirloom produce, for those of you who are backyard gardening, farming or homesteading, think about picking up some heirloom, non-GMO seeds to produce in your garden/henhouse/pasture.  I don’t know about you, but when I start looking at seeds that produce fruit and veg in abundant, wild colors with incredible taste descriptions, I ask myself why have I been buying the same mealy produce year after year at the mega mart?  The answer may not be easy to find, but the solution certainly is…biodiversity.  Let’s all embrace it and bring some interest back to our plates!  Happy eating!

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!  http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!
http://newlifeonahomestead.com