Showing posts from May, 2009

Things I've Learned This Month

* A watched garden never grows

* No matter how much I love knitting, even I can get tired of it after a week or two of nothing but knitting

* If a doctor says it takes 6 weeks to recover from surgery, he's probably not pulling your leg

* People who behave badly always have excuses for themselves. People who behave decently don't need them.

* After 4 1/2 weeks of forced inactivity, I'm even looking forward to vacuuming. I would never have dreamed that was possible.

* Even though I don't like radishes well enough to ever buy them in the grocery store, I am positively giddy when I can pick them in the garden

* Those who get addicted to pain killers didn't get the same ones I got.

* Having a hard time keeping up with all the good wishes & offers of help from friends & family is just about one of the best problems one could ever have.

* If you have nursed one of your cats back to health, your cat may choose to return the favor....or perhaps Theo was just reta…

An Exciting Find!

For those of us who haven't actually seen one before--or couldn't identify it from my picture even if we had--this is a tomatillo plant. I had actually planted some tomatillo seeds because I wanted to experiment with fresh tomatillos, but when I ran across this at Fred Meyer, I couldn't resist. It even already has flowers!!!!!

Anyone know how fast they grow? Or what to do with them when they do?

Life Is Wonderful!!!!!

It's SO great to be happy & healthy! Not that we aren't both generally happy people, but I'm finally strong enough to socialize again (besides just short visits). YAY! We have so many great friends--I'm looking forward to seeing them all again!

Life is GOOD!!!!


About 2 months ago now, I planted a row of beets & a row of kale--forgetting of course to mark which was which. One row sprouted and one didn't, but I didn't know which was growing so I didn't reseed.

Now we know that the beets were the ones that grew & they seem to be doing nicely--considering I've never grown them & might not notice if they weren't doing nicely. I was just deciding to use the vacant spot for some radishes or onions, and noticed a few little plants starting to sprout. They're looking suspiciously like they're in a line, so I think the kale has decided to grace us with its presence.

No wonder you're supposed to plant it in March. It seems that's the only way to get any before the fall frosts!


In America, certain things are "breakfast" foods (eggs, sweet pastries & cinnamon rolls, pancakes, cereal, etc.) and some things are not (sandwiches, salads, etc.). I have always hated eggs, and I don't care much for sweets, so I've struggled with breakfast--especially in restaurants--my entire life. As part of this little experiment of ours, I thought it would be interesting to do a little research on how we came to designate certain items as "breakfast foods."

I haven't found anything yet, but I did find a little article that seems to have run on CBS's Early Show that I thought was worth sharing. Taken straight from their website:

Seventh-Day Adventists are credited with creating breakfast cereals. They founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where they manufactured and promoted wholesome cereals. Will Keith Kellogg was an Adventist who discovered corn flakes in 1894 when a pot of cooked wheat was overcooked and then dried. Each grain became a s…

White Rice

As part of our experiment this year, we're researching a lot of our food. We had always known that brown rice was much more nutritious than white, but hadn't thought much about WHY. White rice has had its husk, bran, and germ removed, which means it won't spoil as fast but it ALSO means that there's pretty much no nutrition left in white rice. So, like everything else, it is processed to try to add some of the vitamins back in. Has anyone else noticed how much effort the food industry spends adding nutrients back in to our food after stripping it of all nutritional value?

So, we've really tried to switch exclusively to brown rice, which takes much longer to cook. That works fine, though we're still getting it pretty mushy. I had used pearl barley in casseroles a few times, until I discovered that the "pearl" part translates into "having all the nutrition stripped as well." I have not yet been able to locate "unpearled" barley…


To celebrate the end of a QUITE fabulous holiday weekend, we went out for pizza last night. It wasn't a chain, so we think it wasn't quite as bad of a cheat as it could have been, but it was still a cheat. We had the works--a combination with everything. Today, of course, my stomach is playing leap frog with my gall bladder, but after almost 5 months of this, it was worth it!

And.......we had radishes from the garden!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So far, this is the entire radish crop as Theo continues to dig them up wherever I plant them. To be fair, they aren't my favorite vegetable, but I don't know what Theo has against them. He doesn't have to eat them....

Buying Local

This year, we decided to go out of our way to buy our garden plants from a local nursery because we wanted to support the local economy & yada yada yada. And we did support the local economy...and the national one, because this weekend:I made another plant shopping trip--this time to Fred Meyer. All but ONE of the tomatoes we bought from the nursery died (and it is looking VERY sickly but still sort of alive)--and we were VERY careful to surround them with a large amount of compost because while the horse manure did WONDERS for the grass, it can be a bit too hot for garden plants. It doesn't seem to have been too early, because I planted one tomato from Fred Meyer in the first planting round, and it's alive, healthy, and growing like a weed.

I also picked up lots & lots of pepper plants--19 to be exact, which is more of a mistake than complete delusion, as I lost track of what I was doing and was completely led astray by a 9-pack of jalapeno peppers--and they are now…

Homemade Ice Cream

To kick off what promises to be a great holiday weekend, Andy made homemade chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

I love this man!!!!

Year of No Processed Foods - More Things We've Learned

* Many of your friends will insist that it's really THEIR turn to have you over for dinner, rather than vice versa.

* It's easy to obsess about the garden, and dreams of large tomato harvest become pretty frequent

* Everyone will say, "I could never do what you're doing," which translates into "I don't want to do what you're doing."

* Since we're not getting extra fat & calories in our food, we can have chocolate cake fairly regularly.

* This is an easier experiment to do since we DO get chocolate cake fairly regularly

* There seem to be no limits to the number of things we can find to do with cabbage.

* We get a lot less salt without processed foods

* After almost 5 months, it really has started to seem odd that we've done everything we can to make our food last as long as possible. If Twinkies are shelf-stable for 30 years, can you actually digest them???

* Few foods are really worth giving up a "cheat for." White choc…

The Tomatoes Are In!!!!

I know I'll probably regret this later, but we planted TEN tomato plants. Oh yeah, delusion runs wild during spring planting. Granted, one is an heirloom that I am predicting will produce no usable tomatoes at all--which has been what ever other heirloom tomato has done for me--but it's really hard to remind oneself that running out of salsa isn't actually a world catastrophe & that the reason I didn't make more salsa wasn't a lack of tomatoes. More of a stamina thing by the end of canning season, really.

I do know enough to only have planted ONE zucchini plant, and this year I'm thinking 4 or 5 cucumbers instead of 8. Even if I do a lot of pickling, we still threw away more than half of the crop last year.

I did break down and plant two pumpkins though.......sometimes I just can't help my optimism.......

Mouth Feel

[Should be interesting to see what sort of Google searches THAT title lands me in....]

Recently I was feeling that all of our food this year has been remarkably similar, which is impossible because of all the wild experimentation that I've been doing in the cooking department. But, we finally figured out what is missing--

The mouth feel of processed foods.

Think of biting into a piece of pizza--the way the melting cheese feels in your mouth. We don't get that chewy/fat/greasy type of food, which is probably altogether a good thing to be honest. (Technically, I could slather things in grease and cheese, we are doing this for our health and eating that sort of unhealthy crap would pretty much blow the whole point) We do use cheese, but pretty sparingly--favoring strongly flavored cheese in small amounts versus the chewy-but-tasteless cheese product that many pizza companies use.

Along similar lines--chocolate. Cocoa (the unsweetened powder stuff) is fair game, but to become ev…

We Had Lettuce Today!

OK, really that wouldn't be a big headline except that it's the first harvest from our garden (I don't think chives really count as they pretty much exist 10 months of the year, the hardy little devils) and I was worried that our current heat wave would kill off all our butter lettuce before we got the chance to harvest any. Yesterday was 90 degrees and today was 94. Tomorrow is supposed to be 84--and there isn't supposed to be any frost this week, so I'm going to try planting tomatoes tomorrow. Honestly, this year gardening feels a bit like Russian Roulette.

Usually I plant a lot of stuff in the garden, hope for the best, and enjoy what comes up. This year is a bit different--I really NEED for things to come up. It feels a bit strange to be within a 5-minute drive of 3 supermarkets and yet to really be dependent on a garden, but we still have 8 months of this experiment to go--not to mention trying to live with a modified version of this next year--and to do t…

Mother Nature 1: Toni 0

So, a few nights ago we got a weather bulletin that it was going to freeze, so Andy diligently went out to cover the pepper plants with plastic.....and they froze anyway. All of them. That was 3 days ago. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 88 degrees, and 94 by Monday. So, we might lose the peppers to frost and the broccoli to heat all in the same week!!! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR WEATHER??????

On the recovery side--it's seriously boring. I am catching up on my goal of reading 100 books this year. Sure, I hadn't planned to do it all within a 6-week period, but I'll go with the flow here. See how nice & mellow a Type A person can be on pain pills???

Two Weeks Later.....

Okay, I'm back.

Two weeks ago today I went in for surgery & ended up being in the hospital longer than expected & the recovery is going slower than expected (my expectations--not the doctor's. He's thrilled with my progress but HE isn't the one having to take it easy during fabulous spring weather). So, I've been very hit & miss here for a very good reason. And incidentally, I'm perfectly fine & will be back to full speed in about 4 more weeks.

Now, I have to admit that I didn't even attempt to stick to non-processed foods in the hospital. First, it wouldn't have been possible--hospital food being surprisingly unhealthy and QUITE institutional even if they do call it "room service," and secondly--I think that was a pretty darn good excuse for an "exception." However, since then I've been back on track, which might be surprising and even seem a bit extreme, except for the fact that after 4 months, my body has &q…

Ingredients in Fast Food

This is a really interesting article that I found today. It answers a few questions for me--and makes one stop and think...

Cottage Cheese

Going in to summer--and predicting huge vegetable crops here at the Chateau Sutton-Goar farm--it's time to look into cottage cheese. I have ignored it until now because I thought it--like hot dogs--might be a food substance that any sort of investigation might leave me so repulsed that it became a moot point. However, it's a great protein source for salad & vegetable plates, so....

According to Wiki, cottage cheese may be legal as far as the curds (chunks) go, because they seem to be like any other cheese. The ability to stay suspended in liquid is the likely problem. I don't know if it's mostly an American thing or if it's world-wide, but we seem to not want to stir or shake our foods, so "emulsifiers" and other agents are added to our food to keep them from separating. This is what got so many of our mustards banned--things that were added to stop them from separating. If you think about it, if there are have chunks of something suspended in a …

The Peppers Are In!!!! The Peppers Are In!!!!

On the off chance that we won't have another frost, we planted peppers today--green bell, sweet banana, jalapeno, and anaheims. Now to watch the weather forecast very, VERY closely.....

The tomato plants are waiting just inside the door....

Coolest Thing Ever!

For a while now, I've been on Facebook, and it's been fun to reconnect with people I went to school with (and subsequently lost track of), and Andy & I have become quite the thugs playing Mafia Wars, but I don't think I was really impressed with Facebook until today when I received an email from a girl I was pen pals (not the incarcerated kind) with as a child. If that isn't cool, I don't know what is.

In the 1970s & early 1980s, a show called Big Blue Marble had a segment where you could write in and request a pen pal from somewhere in the world. I ended up writing to a girl here in the US, and we exchanged letters for years. I remember how thrilling it was to receive letters in the mail once a week or so (we were quite devoted writers though what 9-year-olds find to discuss is anyone's guess), and writing letters back and forth to a friend whom I never met was a very important part of my childhood.

So the questions that come to mind as an adult are:

A Lack of Saltines

I don't have a cold, but I've had an upset stomach the last few days, and in normal circumstances, I'd use saltines to help settle my stomach, but of course they make the "forbidden foods" list--high fructose corn syrup among other things. So....I needed a replacement.

Toast made from homemade bread works, of course, but I wanted something that didn't have to be "made" all the time. It's probable that I could bake some crackers--and I'll be looking for a recipe in the next couple days--but I wasn't up to baking today. Instead, I discovered a healthy, allowed alternative:

plain, uncooked oatmeal

As a kid, it was one of my favorite snacks--not because I really had a passion for dry, tasteless food, but because I was OBSESSED with horses and since we gave our horses oats, rolled oats gave me a sense of unity with them. (Kids are weird--that's not exactly a newsflash) I have given it up as a snack in favor of things with flavor, but it…


Probably for no other reason than they can go in the ground now, I have planted 2 potatoes this year. I haven't ever grown them before because it just seemed like potatoes are so easy to get at the store (especially since I live in Idaho and it's almost mandatory for any shopping excursion), and I just couldn't see how home-grown potatoes could be any better than the ones I can buy in the store. Maybe I'm underrating potatoes in general, but how good can a potato really be?

Still, it's a few weeks too early to plant the good stuff--tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and I'm trying to ration myself to planting just a few carrots, lettuce, and radishes every 2 weeks, as I've finally caught on to the fact that NO ONE is going to eat 150 radishes in one week. Still, it's hard not to be overly exuberant about planting things, because having a full garden will finally give us some convenience food for the year! Very, very exciting.....