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Showing posts from March, 2009

Another Month Down....

So, we've been doing this whole "No Processed Foods" thing for 3 months now. So, what have we learned so far?

* Unless you are actually sneaking into your neighbors' yards to steal their tomatoes, you probably aren't making "too much" salsa.

* Whether we're addicted to the carbonation or the taste, the lust for Diet Pepsi never actually goes away.

* Very few recipes really embrace the idea of "unprocessed foods." Especially Cooking Light.

* If a product says it's "lite" or "low fat," there's no reason to even bother to check the ingredients. Just put it down and move away.

* Having regular access to chocolate cake makes up for a lot of food deprivation.

* Don't rule out anything you might try making until you've gone at least 6 months without it.

* If you're going to start adding pureed pumpkin to your spaghetti sauce, don't tell your guests until AFTER they've tried it.

* Home canning doe…

A Sad Day.....

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This is the last jar of my favorite salsa....And the fact that I use it mainly when Andy is out of the house does NOT mean I have issues with "sharing......"

It Begins.....

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IT'S GARDENING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sort of. It's currently 34 degrees, so it's only time for really hardy things that like cold. This week I picked up some butter lettuce
broccoliand the really exciting news......TWIGS IN POTS!!!!!! Which will someday--God willing--be blueberry bushes. Can you imagine going out in your backyard and getting blueberries? I'll let you know how that works for us in a few years--hopefully. An older gent who was also shopping for plants assured me that blueberries aren't terribly difficult to grow, but he could just be a retiree who has decided to liven up his days by terrorizing the horticulturally clueless in nurseries by giving quite fictitious assurances just to see if they fall for it. Guess we'll see on that one.....

New Lesson Learned: Don't Take Anything For Granted

We're three months into the Year of No Processed Foods, and unfortunately we still keep turning up new "banned" substances. I don't know--I just took a few things for granted. We've been corrected on mustard & vinegars, and now I have discovered the latest one:

Pickles.

OK, the idea behind pickling foods is to preserve them, correct? If that is true, wouldn't you expect pickles to not have additional preservatives in them?????? I admit, I just "assumed" on this one, but every commercially available pickle I have looked at in the last 2 weeks has at least food coloring added--sometimes more things. I even tried the ones that are sold in the refrigerated section--foolishly assuming that they are sold in the refrigerated section because they have less processing & therefore would probably have NO additives. Wrong again (this is why I don't gamble--I'm just wrong way too often). They had more unknown substances than the shelf-stable…

And The Correct Guesser is....

No one, though you're all coming closer than I did. One can truly over-intellectualize things sometimes, and I got a bit sidetracked by "fe-person." I thought since "Fe" is the symbol (periodic table of elements) for iron, I thought it was something to do with an iron deficiency or perhaps a reference to a character in the "Ironman" comics. So--you're all closer than I was.

The answer is:

A lesbian.

So, I understand the whole "fe-person" thing as trying to be gender independent (though Wikipedia has never heard of it either), when I was in college, the push was for woman to be spelled "womyn," which doesn't seem to have caught on either. "Body colonization" is therefore supposed to be pregnancy (though of course I was thinking "Aliens") and whoever wrote this is assuming that lesbians are rejecting having children as much as they are rejecting men, but "heterosexual imperialism?" Spreading…

Chocolate Martinis in Three Weeks!

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A few weeks ago, Andy thought we had found a 'no-cheating" chocolate martini (kahlua & vodka), which was pretty exciting as we could then use our two weekly "cheats" on something else. Since then, we might have run into a snag.....caramel coloring.

We actually haven't yet had to address the problem of food coloring. Our rules have been no ingredients we couldn't identify and/or obtain for ourselves. We can buy food coloring, but from what I can understand from researching a little, while I could make caramel coloring from sugar, odds are that the caramel coloring we can purchase (assuming that we can--I need to check the store) would be made--like everything else in America--with high fructose corn syrup, which has just been outright banned this year. So....the jury is still out on that one. In the meantime....

I made Kahlua.

You start out by mixing equal parts of sugar & water together an boiling them to dissolve the sugar.
This recipe then has …

I Have To Share This One

Recently we were playing Trivial Pursuit Genus 5 (so far enough down the Trivial Pursuit food chain that most of the good questions were gone) with some friends and the following question came up:

What does a "fe-person" become when she escapes "body colonization" wrought by "heterosexual imperialism?"

Obviously, not a single one of us got this question--or even understood it. So, I thought I'd see if anyone would be able to guess this one--anyone?

Our Last 3 Days......

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This is the general look of our downstairs right now:which all started with this, which was until quite recently within one of our walls and provided water for the outside faucet.
Having not been insulated, the water in the pipe froze, which caused...
which when things thawed out and the faucet was turned on, sprayed the inside of the walls, the crawl space, and our storage closet. Luckily Andy was able to fix it AND you will notice the insulation that has been added
the carpet has been ripped up and is drying in the garage
and we have some new house guests(the other two actually being IN the crawl space), and we are making lots of new friends. Yesterday they were the insurance adjuster, the owner of a disaster cleanup company, and two of his employees. Later this week it will be drywallers, flooring people, and painters.

It actually isn't much in the way of damage in all honesty since the leak only occurred when the hose was turned on outside and as there was very little water comi…

Ways One CAN Spend a Saturday

1. Traveling to an interesting location.

2. Relaxing by a pool reading a really engaging book.

3. Doing one's favorite sport.

4. Visiting with friends

5. Volunteering for a charity

6. Visiting a museum

7. Trying to locate the water leak that has caused everything in the closet under the stairs to be damp, emptying the closet, deciding the leak is related to the outside faucet, discover that the outside faucet comes into the house within a wall and NOT the crawl space, spend an inordinate amount of time measuring various parts of the house to figure out what point in the wall that would actually be, cutting holes in the wall to find the darn leak, then trying to fix said leak.

Any guesses which was the plan of action at Chateau Sutton-Goar today?

It All Started With Soy Sauce

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So during this little experiment of ours, before we can use something, we often have to do a little research into how the particular thing is made. This week's was soy sauce.

Soy sauce has, in fact, been around approximately 2500 years, so obviously we would be able to make it without a processing plant (always a good thing), so as long as the soy sauce we buy is made in the same way, all is good. The bottle we have in the fridge seemed okay, but I wanted to double-check a bit, and oddly, Amazon is a great resource for hard-to-find groceries (and we found our coffee and end tables there, but that really has nothing to do with this story). I was browsing through the "condiments & sauces" category, when I ran across this:




Bacon-flavored mayonnaise--which conveniently comes in a three pack, as of course this is one of those items that you wouldn't ever want to run out of. Wait--it gets even better. For friends and loved ones:There's a gift set, complete with …

Obviously, All I Need Is A Little Rest

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So, back from a vacation where I did no more cooking than heating up canned soup, this week I baked the last of the pumpkins and froze the pulp
And here's a little tip for you--storing pumpkins for 6 months might be a tad optimistic. A few made it, but I think it was 50% or less. The good news is: rotting pumpkins aren't half as disgusting as some rotting fruits and/or vegetables--whatever pumpkins actually are. We still have a lot of pumpkin puree, and after everything I've been adding it to lately, Andy might actually be relieved if we run out before this year's crop strikes, er....ripens.

Next, armed with my trusty book,and thoroughly optimistic after the success of the blueberry syrup, I decided to tackle the cinnamon rum syrup, which of course required a trip to the liquor store for thiswhich is dark rum, which is not the same thing as golden rum or the clear rum which was the one we had on hand. Personally, as there is only about a tablespoon of rum needed an…

Today Is Our First Date Anniversary!

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And we're all cutesy & happy and we remember that sort of stuff.Nauseating, I know......:)

Since we met through Match.com, we both wondered if we would recognize the other one at the restaurant. Match profiles have pictures, but quite often the pictures are.....stretching the truth a bit. Men who are balding often use old photos or ones where a baseball cap covers everything about their noses, and women who have gained weight might use a picture from 10 years earlier. To me the biggest surprise about Match were the number of men who lied about their height. I am 5' 8", which is tall for a woman, and women typically don't lie about their height, so it baffles the imagination that men who said they were 5'8" who were really 5'2" would contact me for dates. Not that I had any problems with dating someone shorter than me, but did they think I wouldn't notice they lied? Not that I can tell you at a glance how tall or short someone is, but if …

Back On The Wagon.....

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Really, I was pretty good on my vacation--probably owing more to the fear of an upset stomach than actual willpower. There was some Diet Pepsi, of course, and Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup, and dining out, but there were NO white chocolate martinis, surprisingly. One of my splurges...
was even arguably pretty healthy. (And crunchy cereal in the morning was SUCH a treat!).

McCall was beautiful and wonderful, but there's a big difference between visiting that much snow and living with it. The boys joined us on the weekendand then it became a challenge to drive home between snowstorms. Sue & Dave made the dash yesterday morning at the beginning of one storm, and Andy & I came home this morning between storms, and another one is due tomorrow. "Spring" is obviously a relative term in some areas.....

On the whole, my stomach is hurting enough that I'm glad to be back home and "back on the wagon," though I am going to miss that cold cereal in the m…

Day 69 - Vacation!

A friend of ours loaned us her condo in McCall for a week, and as Andy has that whole pesky working-to-support-us thing, I am heading up there & a girlfriend is joining me later this week.

I've been trying to work out plans for cooking in a limited kitchen with unknown staples & what my friend might be willing to put up with, but it was starting to look like I'd be spending the entire trip cooking, which sort of stinks as far as vacations go. So, we've decided that vacations are perhaps a reason to lighten up on the No Processed Foods rule. Not that a "free for all" is a good idea either--not unless my idea of a good vacation is one with SEVERE stomach upset, but I'm going to brave some Campbells soup and, let's face it, Diet Pepsi!!!!!

I will not have any computer access, so I'll be back next week!

Day 68 - Sourdough

I've mentioned the sourdough starter a few times now, so I thought it time for an explanation. Most of us know sourdough bread as a bread with a distinctive, sour taste, but the term actually applies to a method--the oldest method--of making yeast bread, and was the primary method for breadmaking until other forms of yeast became readily available.

The story goes that yeast was accidentally discovered in Egypt when someone added water to flour and left it to sit, coming back to find a strange, bubbling mixture. There's some debate among sourdough enthusiasts about whether the wild yeast was in the flour or in the air, but some of us are just in it for the bread and don't really care. A sourdough starter--also known as the "mother sponge"--is a mixture of flour, water and yeast. In order to create a leavened bread, the baker takes a portion of the starter, mixes it with flour and water, and lets it ferment overnight which allows the yeast to convert the flour …

Day 67 - I Can Do One Thing!

Tonight we're having leftover pork roast, and it's pretty good if I do say so myself. I made it yesterday in the crockpot. Yes--you read that correctly: SOMETHING I MADE IN THE CROCKPOT WAS ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD.

I'll be honest: I can now do one thing with the slow cooker: roasts. Unlike all the recipes in those "helpful" cookbook, I cannot brown them first, cook them on high, or add ANY liquid, but as long as I just season the roast, put it on LOW and leave it alone, I can produce edible--sometimes even tasty--meals.

Not much to show for 4 years of trying to learn to use the crockpot, but at this rate on our 8th anniversary I'll be able to make TWO things in the thing. Look out world!

Well, We Obviously Have Some Catching Up To Do

Tonight I decided to check out upcoming events at the Egyptian Theater--one of Boise's few independent theaters and the only one listed as an historic landmark--because it always seems to have really great events. Last month we went to see a couple silent movies as a fundraiser for the Treasure Valley Youth Symphony, and we've been to several lectures there.

I was surprised to see that on March 18, the THIRD ANNUAL Fly Fishing Tour will be held there. Now I might be easily impressed, but how many hobbies have their own film festival? Andy does woodworking, and they certainly don't have a film festival (although that might actually be because there are few titles the wood working world could use that couldn't be misappropriated by the porn industry). I knit, and while the knitting world has its own social networking site and our own conventions, I don't know of a single film about knitting. (You can bet, though, that if we did have a film festival, we would leave…

Day 65 - Some Days Are Better Than Others

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Some days I spend wondering why on earth I thought this experiment up, or contemplating how long a year really is, or fantasizing about really cold cans of Diet Pepsi, but some days I get myself under control and.....This is homemade blueberry syrup, which I made yesterday. And thisis a sourdough starter, which fermented overnight to provide sourdough pancakes this morning. If that isn't a good way to start a day, I don't know what is.

I've been asked for some of the recipes I canned last fall, and these are the two books we have to thank for what we're enjoying now:This one includes the spiced blueberry jam and the blueberry syrup--as well as the marvelous red onion relish, and this one:

provided all the salsas. Both HIGHLY recommended. If you get this one, try the carrot salsa. Amazing stuff, really. And if you get the other one--we're having pancakes again tomorrow just for the blueberry syrup. Some days, this is a really GOOD experiment.....

Day 64 - Sodium Whatzits

In a few weeks, we're having some friends over for a champagne brunch with homemade sourdough pancakes--and maybe homemade fruit syrup (I'm working on that one), and I thought it would be nice to serve bacon as well. We try to eat pretty healthy, so we don't generally eat it, but AGAIN having read the Little House On the Prairie series (but not at the time actually understanding its importance as a culinary guide), I knew that bacon is basically cuts of rather fatty meats smoked, cured, or both. That sounds simple enough.

It isn't.

As of yet, I haven't been brave enough to take a notebook with me while grocery shopping for fear of looking stranger than I do reading the labels of 34 brands of bacon, or of getting thrown out of the store for being some sort of produce-related industrial spy, so I can't actually tell you all the ingredients in bacon, but so far they all have about 3 different sodium "somethings" in them and none of them sounded like &quo…

Dealing With A Hostile Ex Wife - Part 7

This is an old article, but I thought it would give hope to the thousands who are dealing with bitter ex wives. Courts can and do recognize bitter ex wives who are using the court system for revenge. We have a court date set for June and will be asking for the obsessed ex wife to have to pay all legal costs. I think we have an outstanding chance of winning.

Day 63 - A History of American Food

In our library system, I found a book called The American Heritage Cookbook and Illustrated History of American Eating & Drinking." It was published in the 1960s by American Heritage Magazine, and I thought it might be an interesting addition to our little food experiment. So far I'm only to the point where the Pilgrims are being taught how to survive by Squanto, but in flipping through the book I found a little more information on how farm families would have made cheese:

"First, rennet had to be made from the stomach of an unweaned calf. This was soaked in water, and the resultant liquid was then added to milk......"

OK, I grew up on a cattle ranch & am pretty hardened to some things that other people would be pretty squeamish about, but I don't think I've ever wanted cheese THAT badly. Those early women settlers were tough women.

Remember When.....?

...one bought a home to live in, not as a "real estate investment?"

...common knowledge held that one had to live in a house for about 5 years to even recoup closing costs if selling again?

....taking money without earning it was embarrassing and not an "entitlement?"

....we all understood that borrowing money meant eventually paying it back?

....paying off debts was a point of personal honor?

....the "News" was actually informative and not tabloid sensationalism? (OK, me neither on that one)

My favorite "scary" headline today: "1 in 5 U.S. Mortgage Borrowers Are Underwater." That means 4 out of 5 aren't. Even with all the foolish "no money down" loans that have been taken out in the last decade, only 20% of the homes are worth more than the buyer paid for them. I found that statistic reassuring considering all the nonsense that has gone on in the real estate market over the last few years. And, even those who do owe more…

Day 61 - No Soda For You!

We're living on the edge at Chateau Sutton-Goar. ON THE EDGE! It is Monday and we have already used up both our cheats for the week!

This is going to be a long week...

I wasn't feeling good over the weekend, so yesterday Andy picked up a pizza from one of those take & bake places for dinner yesterday, and we had the leftovers today for lunch. To be fair, I can't honestly say that there were forbidden ingredients in the pizza as I haven't seen the list of ingredients, but as hard as I have to look to make sure nothing we buy has unknown substances, the odds of us walking in and ordering a pizza and having not a single forbidden thing on it must be about a thousand to one. So, we're going to assume it was forbidden. It tasted like it.

In other news, the temperature reached 60 degrees today and I planted kale and beets! I have NO idea what we'll do with either one, but they both seem to be cold-weather friendly, so we're going to try them. Look for bo…