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Never a dull moment… rarely a “good” family pic

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We don’t have great success with my children co-operating with family pics.  Danae snapped this shot when we were attempting to get professional family shots taken in 2010:

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And here are some pics of us attempting to get grandparent/grandkid and Ti & niece & nephews pics a couple of weeks ago:

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Florida Fun

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Our family recently went to Florida with my parents and sister.  Of course we had to hit Disneyworld and Legoland while we were there.  SO much fun and tons of good memories.  Here’s a glimpse:

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Lucy with Ti on “Ariel’s Grotto” – thank goodness for fastpass!

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This “Vidia” was brilliant!  She had Caden cracking up.  So worth the 45 min wait to meet her!

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Lucy conked out in Daddy’s arms for at least 30mins.  His poor back!

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All of us at “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

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Legoland was a hit all round but we really appreciated the toddler areas for Reilly!

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One nice thing about Legoland is that the kids can get in line on their own.  Short lines was a total bonus too!

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Hi!

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Caden could give a detailed run-down on all the Star Wars lego scenes. “And this is where…”

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Lucy discovered a scene with a lego fire engine that shot water when you pressed this button.  She loved trying to “set us up” to get wet.

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Reilly playing with a display while we had lunch.  Oh and lunch here was a)affordable and b) relatively healthy.  Bonus!

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We have an adrenaline junky in Lucy.  She was hesitant to go on this roller coaster the first time but went on it at least 6 times (again, thank goodness for short lines!) with anyone that would go with her.

IMG_3185Caden is the safest 6yr old driver I know.  At stop signs he’s check left and right at least 4 times before proceeding. :)

 

Shepherd’s Pie

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So I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of this one so you’ll have to trust me that it looked okay and tasted awesome!  Even my kiddos ate it.  Okay, so Reilly didn’t but he’s on protest or something – hasn’t eaten hardly anything I’ve made him for a while now unless it’s banana bread or mac and cheese.  I guess I’ll just have to make again soon.  Also, this doubles and freezes great so make one for tonight and one for next time you need something handy!

 

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion chopped (you could totally use a yellow one, I just prefer red for EVERYTHING)

2 large carrots chopped

1 cup of frozen peas

1 cup of chopped mushrooms

1 pound ground beef

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or more to taste)

1 Tbsp soy sauce

4-6 large potatoes

4 oz organic cream cheese (totally optional, just a family favourite)

3 tbsp whole milk

1/2 – 1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup shredded cheese – I used raw milk cheddar

Method:

Heat oil in large saute pan or pot over medium high head.  Add onion, carrot, and mushrooms and cook for 2 mins.  Add ground beef and cook until just browned.  Add stock, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and salt and pepper.  Simmer gently for about 45mins until liquid has thickened.  Remove from heat and cool.

While mixture is simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.  Drain, then return to heated pot.  Stir in cream cheese then mash with milk, garlic salt, and salt and pepper if desired.  Put beef and veggies in a pie plate for 9×9 pyrex.  Spread potatoes over beef and pat down with a fork.  Sprinkle cheese and bake 25 mins or until cheese is melted and golden.

 

Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot

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Be sure to reserve 1/2 cup of your yogurt as a starter for your next batch.  Starter should be good for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Be sure to reserve 1/2 cup of your yogurt as a starter for your next batch. Starter should be good for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

So after looking at HEAPS of recipes for yogurt made in the slow cooker/crockpot (and finding them to say pretty much the same thing) here’s what worked for me:

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon of raw whole milk (from what I’ve read you could also use pasteurized milk – just not ultrapasteurized)

1/2 cup of plain organic whole milk yogurt (I used Trader Joe’s brand – other brands are fine as long as they have “live and active” cultures – look for that on the tub) – this is called a ‘starter’

Method:

Heat milk in crock pot for 3 hours.

Turn off crock pot and let sit for 3 hours and 15 mins.

In a separate bowl, whisk yogurt and 2 cups of the cooled milk then whisk that mixture back into the crockpot.

Wrap the crockpot with towels and/or a throw rug (yes, I’m serious).  Let sit overnight.

Remove ceramic portion of crock pot with lid and sit in fridge for 2+ hours.

Spoon into a container.

Now, before I had a success with this I had two “flops”.  Well, not really.  I first tried it with a gallon of soured milk and I just couldn’t get the timing and temperature of the milk right so it ended up tasting like yogurt but very runny.  If this happens DON’T throw it out.  It was perfect for smoothies.

The second time I tried it with only slightly soured raw milk but did the 1/2 gallon instead of the full.  This was slightly thicker but not much.  Again, we used it for smoothies.

Finally, I used 1/2 gallon of fresh raw milk and we ended up with thicker (but not as thick as store bought) yogurt.  If you would like the yogurt even thicker, line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the whey out of the yogurt.  You can use the whey for making pancakes, french toast, mix in smoothies etc.  It’s VERY good for you!

 

**Keep in mind that you’ve just made PLAIN yogurt.  This won’t be sweet.  Try topping it with things like granola, applesauce, honey, raisins, dried fruit, maple syrup, cinnamon, fresh fruit, or a combo of any of these.**

What is Real Food?

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While there isn’t a strict definition to the term “Real Food”, the consensus is that it is food that is nourishing, whole, simple, and unprocessed.  Real Food means you’re going to be predominantly cooking from scratch and passing over those convenience meals at the supermarket.

The best in-depth description that I’ve found on Real Food is found at Keeper of the Home.  In fact, they are doing a whole series on “Real Food Made Simple” which is SO worth your time reading.  No point me rehashing what they say as they’ve got all the info there already :).

When buying from grocery stores go organic as much as possible with your produce and meat.  If that is cost prohibitive, consider shopping with “Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen” in mind.

When looking at processed food look at your ingredient list BEFORE considering the nutrition panel.  The less ingredients the better.  Preferably, you’re looking for ingredients you can pronounce or even better you know exactly what they are and could even cook with them yourself if you wanted.  For example, Kettle brand potato chips have plain salted chips and the only ingredients are potatoes, oil, and salt.  Of course, once you look at just about any flavoured chip, you’re going to encounter unfamiliar ingredients.

When buying dairy look for whole milk, yogurt and cheese.  If you can get them (check your health food store or health section of the grocery store) go for products made with raw milk from grass-fed cows.  Even better, find a local farmer that has clean practices (most do) and get your raw milk from them!  These are easier to come by in some countries and harder than others.  A good option for butter is Kerrygold butter.  While not raw milk, the milk comes from grass-fed cows.  When you consume raw milk from grass-fed cows you are getting the benefit of the enzymes and probiotics that are removed during pasteurisation.  You also are getting milk from healthy cows rather than sick grain fed cows.  From what I understand, cows get sick from grain – even if fed organic grain.  They just aren’t made for it.

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I’ve recently started buying raw milk and eggs from a farmer. My milk comes in 1 gallon pickle jars and costs me about $5/gallon when I factor in my delivery fee.

When buying bread and wheat products you want 100% whole grain written on the label.  Avoid white and bleached flour.  Check your ingredient list to make sure that all grains listed have the word “whole” in front of them.  With rice, you want brown rice not white.  Same with rice products.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is so easy to get overwhelmed when trying to figure out what is Real Food and what isn’t.  Give yourself a big dose of grace and take baby steps.  I have to to stay sane.  Be clear on why you even want to go this route and the benefits to it.  For me, it’s primarily motivated by health but also by a desire to be a good steward and a desire to support local (communities, farmers, neighbours etc).  Try picking one thing to change a week.  By the end of the year, you’ll have adopted 52 new practices and be so much better for it!

 

Under Construction!!!

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Well, I think I’ve finally settled on a new look to the blog but bear with me as I try to get old posts organised on the right pages.  Some pages will look blank for now but should be fixed by next week.

I’ve also got a few real food recipes up my sleeve to post when I get a spare moment.

Looking Back at Food Month

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So I actually finished Food Month about a month ago but we’ve had family visiting ever since and we also went on vacation.  Thus the lack of posts on the blog.

The first two weeks went quite well.  I got sick of sweet potato and chicken.  I didn’t ever feel like I was having a major “spiritual awakening” but was ok with that.  I was plodding along, going through the motions with the food but also having more regular times in the Word and I was learning a lot about food itself.  In particular, “real food” (LOTS more about that later).

Then I got sick.  As in flat on my back sick for over a week.  Then 2 of the kids got sick.  Then Mike got sick.  Then “the baby” got sick.  And I never regained my traction.  After day 4 of being sick I went off my 7 foods and added in chicken noodle soup, herbal teas, lemon juice/pineapple/garlic concoction.  Anything to get better.  I was okay with that.  Still am.  Once I was better though it was SO hard to go back on the 7 foods.  While I didn’t have a fever I was still tired easily and I managed a few days here and there but nothing consistent.  To be honest, I allowed myself to give up.

My plan is to do one week of 7 foods starting later this week and I’ll be reading the “7 experiment” Bible study workbook as I do it.  Timing wise, it works well as other members of our church are also doing various fasts so there will be an aspect of community to it.  Then I’ll tackle Clothing Month.

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