Friday, January 27, 2012

BTC Acre... Coming this April!

This past year has been one of triumphs and failures alike.  In our quest to become more self sufficient we added 4 Hens to our family only to have our hometown tell us we MUST remove them.  Arguments with a neighbour, disputes with the town, a media craze and then finding a local CSA resulted in us moving our birds and placing our home up for sale.  We continue to tend to our chickens as well as 30 others at the CSA, collecting eggs, cleaning up after them and bringing them snacks and love each week.  

We have our 10'x10' vegetable garden in the back yard which supplied us with much fresh food for our table including fresh salad, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, watermelon, beans, a few strawberries, purslane, fresh herbs and ripe plump tomatoes.  With all the by-law commotion we found out that we are actually not even allowed to have our garden.  Turns out, to be within the laws  here we are only allowed to grow peppers, tomatoes and grapes.  Seems ridiculous that a town can tell you not to supply your family with fresh food from your own backyard... this is not freedom.

It has been a long winter, although with a serious lack of snow for our area, and there is change in the air. Recently our house has sold and we purchased a home on just under an acre of property.  The home is in a great location close to a school in an AGRICULTURAL ZONE!  There are still limitations as to what we can do of course, the governments must control everyone, but we will have far more freedoms than in our current residential prison.  We will be close to our current home and able to visit the same park so our kids can play with the kids they have grown familiar too.  Come this spring we will have one neighbour who keeps chickens and bees  and another neighbour who raises horses... those are my kind of neighbours!   We will be bringing our chickens home (possibly getting more) and adding some ducks to our flock.  Maybe in a few years we may even add some sheep for wool!  

As for our gardens... we have hug plans!  We will be able to grow much more food and plant some fruit and nut trees as well.  There will be no limit to what we can grow!  There is a creek that runs along the side of the property and a track and tennis courts within a 2 minute walk from the house!  As with everything, there were a few hiccups along the way with the house purchase but as far as Aaron and I are concerned the issues have been resolved.  Aaron and I could not be happier with our decision to move and with the home that we have chosen!  We know that this will better our family in so many ways as well as the environment.  We are simply trying to Be The Change we want to see in the world. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kale Chips

For a healthy snack... lets move away from the big bag of over salted chips or doritos and have a snack with a healthy crunch!  Aaron made up a batch of kale chips the other day and man were they good.  Even Megan enjoyed them!

Simply add toss a batch of chopped kale (thick stems removed) with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Aaron also added some loose coconut.  With the oven at 350 he baked the up to a slight crisp, about 15 minutes.   You could also add slivered almonds or other nuts and seeds or other spices... simply experiment with different things you like.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One dish... endless possibilities!

Lately I have been in a food mood.  While grocery shopping I have been trying to keep myself limited to the outer edges of the supermarket where the fresh foods are placed.  Aside from pantry essentials, I try not to purchase from the isles.  I have been doing a good job so far but its difficult to resist some of those convenience foods such as Kraft dinner.  I have been trying to make fresh foods everyday for lunch and dinner.  This week has been a good week for food at our house.  Here is a one pan meal with simply endless possibilities!

Quinoa with Italian Sausage & Feta
adapted from

2/3c quinoa, uncooked (follow package directions to cook)
2 links mild or hot Italian sausage
1tbsp coconut oil (more if needed)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
1/2tsp dry basil
1/2tsp dry thyme
1/2tsp  dry oregano
3/4c young green and yellow beans
1/2c frozen baby carrots (if using fresh, steam in microwave first)
1/2c button mushrooms, sliced
1c cherry tomatoes
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp red whine vinegar
1/4c crumbled feta (I used sheeps milk feta)
freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste.

Cook quinoa to package directions and set aside.  While quinoa cooks, cook the sausage.  Add coconut oil to large saute pan, over medium heat.  Once pan is hot, add sausage links and saute until just cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, turning sausages occasionally.  Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.  Once cool enough to handle, slice in 1/4" thick slices.
Saute, in same pan over medium heat, the onions, carrots, mushrooms and green beans.  Season the veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until beans are crisp-tender and onions are translucent.

Add garlic, tomatoes and dried herbs to the pan.  Saute, stirring often, until tomatoes have just cooked but have not split, about 2-3 minutes.  Deglaze pan with vinegars, making sure to scrape any bits of deliciousness from the bottom of the pan.

Lastly, add the quinoa, sausage slices and crumbled feta.  Toss over medium heat for 1 minute and then remove from heat and taste... adding S&P if necessary.  Serve Hot and enjoy!

This recipe is so very versatile, you can add simply any fresh vegetables or frozen that you happen to have around the house.  There are no limits to what you can use.  Add different vinegars or sauces to change the flavour or use couscous, farro, lentils or a fancy rice instead of quinoa... the options are endless.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shake Shake Shake!

I purchased a Oster My Blend Blender for Christmas this year so we could make shakes and simply grab and go.  So far it works great.  My only complaint would be the lids for the travel ups.  The mouth is very wide and the liquid is often on the lid and isn't covered by the lids flip cover.  Aside from that, it is a great little blender and very convenient and easy to clean and I would definitely recommend getting one if you enjoy shakes.

So I have been dabbling with different shake recipes with our milk kefir and now our homemade yogurt.  There are so many different combinations and ingredients you can add to shakes, there really is no right or wrong.  Between our milk kefir, kefir cheese (which is more like yogurt) and now our homemade yogurt... I can make any number of healthy, probiotic booming concoctions.

Here are a few recipes I have tried so far in my new shake addiction, measurments are approximate... simply eyeball it... there is no wrong recipe.  Simply mix your ingredients, blend and enjoy!

Strawberry Vanilla Shake:
1/2c yogurt (I used homemade)
1/2c milk kefir
1/4c fresh or frozen (preferably organic) strawberries
1tbsp honey (I used local)
1/4-1/2tsp vanilla extract (depending on your preference)

Strawberry Avacado Shake:
1/2c yogurt
1/3c kefir cheese
1/4c milk
5  fresh or frozen strawberries
1/4 of an avacado, sliced
1tbsp honey
1/4tsp vanilla extract

Bluberry Burst Shake:
1c milk kefir
1/2c kefir cheese
1c fresh or frozen blueberries
1tbsp honey

Strawberry Banana Shake:
1c milk kefir
1/2c yogurt
1 small banana, sliced (or 1/2 of a large banana)
5 or so large strawberries (10 small)
1tbsp honey
1tsp vanilla extract

Clearly we have frozen local blueberries and strawberries on hand since that is my most common ingredient so far.  We do have some organic frozen raspberries and mango that I will play around with soon.  I also need to purchase more Matcha to add to my shakes for an antioxidant boost!

Shakes... the possibilities!!

Homemade Yogurt

 For Christmas Santa brought Aaron and I a yogurt maker.  Yes, that right, Santa... we were very good parents this year!  We whipped up some yogurt in our new Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker and MAN was it fantastic.  We wanted thick yogurt so we did the boil method to create a nice thick consistency.  I purchased yogurt starter which are only good for a few uses.  We are planing to purchase starter that will live forever if taken care of properly form cultures for health.  I will say that the starter we used created a delicious and creamy yogurt that even Megan will eat without any added flavour or sugar!  We have only made the one batch so far but I am very pleased with the product so far and would highly recommend making your own yogurt.  Not only do you control the ingredients but it is far cheaper than any store bought yogurt you can find.

Seriously... how yummy does this look!

The How-To:
Warm up your milk medium-low until a temperature of 160-180 is reached.  For thicker yogurt heat to 180 and hold for 30 minutes.  Remove saucepan from heat and monitor the temperature. When the temperature hits 110-115ยบ F, add your starter to one of your yogurt maker jars. Add some of the heated milk and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan a little at a time, stirring well.

Pour mixture into your jars, cover securely with lids and place jars into your yogurt maker. Put your jars into your yogurt maker which simply is a temperature controlled vessel and follow cooking instructions. It will take 6-10 hours, depending on tartness and firmness desired. When done, chill jars in refrigerator for a couple of hours before eating. The delicious yogurt will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. 

Also, if you want to make yogurt but don't want to purchase a yogurt maker (range between $20-$100; ours was $50) you can; here is a link to get your started.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pay It Forward 2011... failure??

So I finished my second homemade gift but have yet to give it.  I crochet a scarf for my friend Melissa.  It turned out great and I made it nice and long.  Using a 9mm hook, I wanted to get it done quickly so I chained  20 and did a simple double crochet and added 2 rows of 3cr shell stitches to make it a bit feminine.

I made homemade gnocchi for my Christmas gathering and one of the people on my list was present so I am taking that as another one down!  so 3/5 so far... but its 2012 already!  I will make my last 2 this month and be sure to get them out asap; better late than never!