real food for busy women

posts for Pat: real food for busy women
by Jackie Patti

I am starting a new series on here, inspired my friend Pat who I recently reconnected with on Facebook; thus this series is tagged "posts for Pat". Pat and I hadn't spoken in decades and in catching up, of course, I spent much time ranting about real food, because I am me. I sent links to find local farmer's markets and CSAs, to find local grass-fed meat, to find local raw milk. And when we next spoke and she told me she couldn't do this, I misheard her and answered the wrong question.

Coming from where I've been lately, due to disability and the resultant lack of income, I must stretch the heck out of my food budget in order for us to eat real food. I explained to Pat why it didn't cost more, which really wasn't her issue. Pat is in a different place in life than I am. She lives in the city and works a corporate salaried job, then spends weekends on her farm with her beloved horse Coco. While she's not rich by any means, where she is poor is not finances, but time.

When I realized how I misaddressed her concerns, I also realized I had been there. I've had the deadline that keeps you working 50-60 hours weeks, where all the grocery shopping I could do was hitting a drive-through going to and from work. Where the emergency that happened at 4 PM kept you at work hours past when the salad you brought for lunch was long gone and you could barely WAIT for a pizza or sub to be assembled on your way home. There were way too many days where even THINKING about cooking when I got home was just entirely out of the question.

The thing is women living lives like that are guilty because they feed their families out of boxes too often. Worse than living with that guilt is that the high-stress busy life REQUIRES a nutrient-dense diet to fuel it, to maintain your own health. Eating all that crap destroys health, leaving you susceptible to winding up ill.

This new series is about what one can do with EXTREMELY limited time to improve your own nutrition and better provide for your family even when life has little time for the kitchen.

menu planning with Winter Soups

Winter Soups ecookbook
by Jackie Patti

So we have already covered the summary... 50+ soups, including both vegetarian and paleo soups, more than half dairy-free, more than half GAPS-friendly, just soups galore!

But I wanted to get into a bit more detail today about what is actually included in this gorgeous cookbook...

menu planning

Personally, I do my grocery shopping monthly, as I have a milkman who delivers weekly so I can avoid the store. Since every trip to the store seems to involve buying a certain amount of junk, going monthly means both limiting crappy food and saving our budget.

This time of year, we do soup at least twice weekly for dinner, with enough leftovers for the following day's lunch. So prior to my next shopping trip, I need to pick 8 soups.

Easier said than done with this overabundance of riches...

growing lettuce in winter

growing lettuce in winter
by Jackie Patti

If you're a gardener and your seed-starting setup has room, there's no reason not to grow your own lettuce through winter. The photo shows a crop at about 4 weeks in.

Where I live now, I have very deep windowsills cause my walls are thick stone, so I have a real seed-starting station with lights in my living room.

But where I lived previously, I started seeds on a windowsill and that was just fine. Wherever you have some room is fine, as long as there is enough light.

announcing Winter Soups

Community Cookbooks
by Jackie Patti

As a new blogger, I just completly lucked into falling into this awesome group of bloggers on Facebook who have been unbelievably generous.

One of the first projects I joined was Community Cookbooks, based on the story of Stone Soup, a childhood folk tale illustrating the value of cooperation amidst scarcity.

If you're unfamiliar with Stone Soup, the Wikipedia version goes:

Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.

In Community Cookbooks, instead of soup ingredients to a communal soup pot, we each provided soup recipes for a communal cookbook and thus was born our first cookbook, Winter Soups. We plan at least two additional cookbooks in the future, Naturally-Sweetened Sweets and Gluten-Free Snacks.

My recipe in Winter Soups is my Italian sausage soup, in which many pounds of vegetables wind up flavored throughout with Italian sausage. I use a sweet or mild sausage, but you can use hot/spicy if you prefer, or some of each. Either way, it's a very yummy way to get piles of veggies into your belly.

about coconut oil

coconut oil at melting point
by Jackie Patti

Coconut oil melts at 78ºF, which means most of the time, it is solid in the home.

My house is not well air-conditioned (nor well heated for that matter!), so by mid-summer, it looks like the picture to the left, about half-melted and half-solid, forming artistic-looking shapes in the jar.

But most of the year here, it's solid, and frankly gets rather hard in winter.

In this post, I'm going to first cover the chemistry and benefits of coconut oil (with research!) and then get into practical matters such as choosing the best coconut oil, storage and cooking with coconut oil (with recipes!) and topical/cosmetic uses.

waterer for backyard chickens

waterer for backyard chickens

NOT a good waterer for backyard chickens
by Jackie Patti
If you are considering backyard chickens, you have likely seen a waterer like the one pictured to the left. We had one of these with our first batch of chickens years ago, picked up at an auction for a few bucks.
There's two problems with this kind of waterer. The first problem is that chickens can poop in it. It LOOKS designed to prevent that, but it doesn't work. Chickens can poop almost anywhere, they're amazing at it. This basically means you have to clean it a couple times a day, in which case a flat tray of water is actually easier to use.
The second problem is that the waterer will freeze solid in the winter. There are heated waterers you can buy, and if your coop is located so that electricity can be run to it, you may be able to do that.
Or you can just have a very clever husband who builds the most amazing redneck solutions, which is what worked for me! MacGyver is an amateur compared to my husband (who is sexier too!)

healthy real whipped cream

whipped cream
by Jackie Patti

I love whipped cream. Not "whipped topping" full of unhealthy fats and unpronounceable chemicals, that stuff has always tasted gross to me. But real cream, full of all the same healthy fats found in butter, whipped to soft, fluffy, decadent peaks that melt sensuously on the tongue...

If you must buy it ready-made, please buy something that actually contains full-fat cream. It will still have lots of gunky stuff, but it is at least mostly real food.

For example, Reddi-wip regular whipped cream ingredients are: cream, water, sugar, corn syrup, nonfat milk, natural & artificial flavors, mono- & di-glycerides and carageenaan (the container also contains nitrous oxide, but none is left in the whipped cream). The sugar and corn syrup are likely GMO, dried milk contains the one type of cholesterol that's actually bad for you (the oxidized stuff), natural & artificial flavorings can include all sorts of nasty chemicals, and in all my years of cooking, I've never needed to add mono- & di-glycerides or carageenaan to ANY recipe. But it is mostly cream, which beats the heck out of "whipped topping", which is a nasty-tasting, inflammatory mess.

But really, it is so easy to make at home that there's rarely a need to buy it. It takes 5-10 minutes to make yourself, and you can use grass-fed cream, so as to add significant vitamins A, D3 and K2 to the even lovelier fatty acid profile pasturing brings.

Obviously, your homemade stuff won't have non-food chemicals added. And real whipped cream is naturally so rich that very little sweetener is needed; a very tiny bit of stevia sweetens it nicely (even my husband who claims to dislike stevia enjoys my whipped cream recipes).

So homemade whipped cream can really be a healthy, nutrient-dense food!

There's two basic methods, one using a whipped cream dispenser and nitrous oxide chargers, a setup that resembles the Reddi-wip can. Or you can just use a mixer, either a stand or hand mixer.

December 2013 links

by Jackie Patti

Before we get to the links, I'd like to remind you that the following occurred in December 2013:

  • Nelson Mandela died on Dec 5th; the official state memorial service was held on Dec 10th and his funeral on Dec 15th.
  • Queen Elizabeth pardoned Alan Turing posthumously. Turing invented computer science before there were computers and his code-breaking was pivotal in the defeat of Hitler, saving thousands of Allied lives. In 1952, the British government prosecuted him for being gay, stripped him of his security clearance and chemically castrated him, leading to his suicide. He is forgiven 101 years later, but the other 50,000 men convicted under the same statute are not yet.
  • Bad month for trains: a train derailed in Bangladesh killing 3; a train in the Bronx derailed killing 4; a train in India caught fire, killing 23.
  • China landed a probe on the moon, becoming the third nation to do so. It's robotic rover is walking about and sending back pictures. Go China!

sea salt

sea salt

by Jackie Patti

When I first joined the adrenals group, one of the things that baffled me was their insistence that one should use unrefined sea salt. As a general rule, their recommendations were science-based, but the sea salt thing was defended with lots of wacky arguments that made no sense. Eventually, I quit arguing and just decided to go with the flow since they had empirical experience that it worked. This is when I discovered that sea salt TASTES awesome.

That is still my primary reason for using it as the health-based arguments are just not very compelling. Table salt is not "bleached," it is white because pure sodium chloride is white. The minerals present in sea salt are just not very worthwhile health-wise. And while it is true that anti-caking compounds are added to many table salts; how bad that is depends on exactly what is added.

how to find healthy dinner ideas

how to find healthy dinner ideas

by Jackie Patti

I gave away my Joy of Cooking to a young woman a few years ago. She was one of my home health aids and learned much of what she knew about cooking from me and I gave it to her because it's so great for techniques you've never done before and ingredient information and such. And at that point in my life, I pretty much never used an actual cookbook anymore; my cookbook was Google.

Whenever I was looking for lunch ideas or healthy dinner recipes, I Googled. I had to sort through the results manually because Google doesn't understand that I don't want recipes that use canned cream-of-anything or evaporated milk.

But there's a better way to search for easy dinner recipes now!