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Archive for the ‘Adventures in Food’ Category

Today is strawberry preserve making day.  The strawberries were beautiful at the farmers market, so I impulse bought a flat of them.  I think that I am going to make two batches.  The first one is a basic recipe but the other is pretty fancy sounding, Strawberry Preserves with Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar.  I am really looking forward to having some homemade jams around, because it has been a while since I’ve done any preserving.

Strawberry rinsed and ready for preserve-making.

Other fun food preservation experiments:

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Isn’t it wonderful to read something and realize you are not the only one?  I love my all-natural stone ground flour from Wade’s Mill.  It tastes amazing, is relatively local, and I get all the wonderful nutrients of flour that are usually processed out and then chemically added back in.  I just finished an article that goes into other people’s quest for real flour, and I must say that I love that these issues are getting more and more national attention.

The article was in the New York Times, and it is called Flour That Has the Flavor of Home.  In it, the author looks at a couple of people that are trying to re-start the local wheat market in places that aren’t quite as conducive to growing the normal variety.  It is about re-learning what locals knew before they gave up growing wheat and grinding flour because everything became more standardized and homogenized.   I loved this article, because I love it when people realize that we’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater, and we sure did when our country switched over to a far inferior way of growing and processing flour, all for the sake of shelf life and maximized profits at the expense of nutrition, sustainability, and flavor.

The Beautiful Wade Mill

The Beautiful Wade Mill

Flour Adventures:

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As we were driving the other day, I made hubby stop and turn around. We had just past a roadside stand for fresh organic blueberries, which sounded too delicious to pass up. The stand was just a little hut with a fridge and a money box, the owners relying on the honor system for their sales. The blueberries were just as tasty as they sounded, and we had enough to have some scrumptious blueberry oatmeal the next morning as well.

The food in Vermont in general is very good, and focuses on natural locally-grown produce and meat. I love reading the menus, which often list which farms the ingredients come from. It is nice to see such a great state pride, which is obvious nearly everywhere you go.

Delicious Roadside Organic Blueberries

Delicious Roadside Organic Blueberries

Beautiful Vermont:

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After all the thought I put into whether or not to continue to be a vegetarian, I had my mind made up for me by someone else. Specifically, the little baby growing inside me. About three weeks before I found out I was pregnant, I decided to try some meat just to see how I liked it. Having been a vegetarian since I was 10, I really didn’t remember what it tasted like.

My friend Lindsey was kind enough to share some lamb chops that she had from a lamb that her cousin raised for her. They were delicious, so I branched out and tried some other varieties of meat from the local farmers market. I even went so far as to render my own lard, which whipped up the best pie crust I have ever made.

All these experiments came to an abrupt end about a week after I found out that I was pregnant, when morning sickness started. I couldn’t even eat the fake variety of meat (except veggie corn dogs, which I have had an odd addiction to). I thought that I may start back up with my experiments after morning sickness passed, but it has been three weeks since it did, and meat still sounds very unappealing. Fortunately, I am also not eating the fake variety (aside from the aforementioned veggie corn dogs, which are completely unnatural whether using fake or real meat), which was my biggest reason for questioning continuing as a vegetarian.

The most ironic thing of all is that one of my cousins is also pregnant, and is only due four days before me. We were talking a couple weeks ago, and she mentioned that she had decided to try to be a vegetarian a little before she got pregnant, but for her, once the pregnancy symptoms hit, she found that she craved meat too much to continue.

I am guessing that our bodies get used to how we eat, and are trying to keep us from becoming too adventurous during pregnancy. This would make a lot of sense if we lived off the land, because it would probably be bad to start trying all sort of new berries or mushrooms during pregnancy. So I suppose that I am going to have about six more months, at least, of being a vegetarian.

My First Lamb Chops

My First Lamb Chops

For more on my thoughts on being a vegetarian:

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Ever since reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, I have been even more dedicated to eating as natural as possible. This is especially easy now that the farmers markets are back in full swing. The weakest link to eating completely like my great-grandmothers would have is flour. I make my own bread, but I do use white flour in it. Now many people may be shocked by this, but white flour is very different from what it was a hundred years ago, and is not nearly are natural.

White flour nowadays is treated with all sorts of chemicals to separate out every last bit of the germ and bran. Where as flour that is stone ground the old-fashioned way keeps intact the nutrients and also don’t strip as much of the bran. All this is well and good, but it is nearly impossible to find stone ground white flour. Even whole wheat is rarely stone ground and therefore has many of its nutrients lost due to heat.

I have finally found a source for great, old-fashioned flour. Wade’s Mill is an old mill that is still working in Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. This coming weekend, hubby and I will be taking a trip down to see it and stay at a nearby b&b. My birthday happens to fall over this long weekend, and I am thankful that we are going to get to celebrate it by enjoying the mountains and little towns along the way.

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Yesterday, I had a ball with crafts and candy. I had two fun projects going on, both of which were a bit frivolous, but very amusing (to me at least).

My first project was to make some more cards. Ever since I received a bunch of rubber stamps from freecycle, I have been having a blast making my own stationary. I have always liked writing on pretty paper ever since I was a child. I always have a stack of blank journals sitting on the bookshelf ready to go, it is one of the few impulse buys that I still cave into.

The other wonderful project was Oreo Truffles. I found a wonderful recipe on Frugal Upstate that sounded too good to pass up. After seeing the recipe, I immediately walked over to the grocery store to get the ingredients to give it a try. I was not disappointed, in fact, they were even better than I imagined.

Oreo Truffles (slightly adapted from Frugal Upstate)

Makes approximate 2 pounds of truffles

Ingredients

  • 1 box of Oreo cookies (I used regular for the first batch, but I imagine that flavored Oreos would be divine)
  • 1 8 oz package of Neufchâtel or cream cheese
  • 1 package of white chocolate chips

Directions

  • Put Oreos in a food processor and run until fully crushed
  • Add the cheese is 1 inch strips and process until fully blended and starts to form a ball
  • In your palm, roll out little balls of the dough (about 3/4 inch in diameter)
  • Put on a cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour
  • Melt the white chocolate in a double broiler, and dip each truffle into the chocolate. Put the truffles onto a lined cookie sheet once you dip them.
  • Put the sheet into the fridge to harden for about 30 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight box, separate the layers with wax or parchment paper, and keep in the fridge until serving.
  • Enjoy!

For more on cards and candy:

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Today is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s, so I am going to walk down to my local Ben and Jerry’s to partake in some good old-fashioned ice cream, as well as some good old-fashioned savings.  I try to go every year and taste something new.  I hope that you all get a chance to partake as well.

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