Friday, April 18, 2008

Farm Food Review

As many of you know, I spend a lot of my daily time over at The MaryJanes Farm Forum. I love getting to know all the lovely creative ladies who spend a little time chatting everyday.

But there is a whole other facet to the MaryJanesFarm experience that you might not realize. MaryJane has created some AMAZING meals, breads, chocolates, and side dishes that are "fast food that isn't junk". Her food are amazing. Most you just rip open a pouch, pour in an amount of boiling water, fold, let sit for a few minutes, then stir and enjoy!

Here below are the ones I have tried, links to how you can purchase them, and a review! Simply click on the photo to be taken to MaryJane's site to order!

I just have to say- all of her chocolates are DIVINE! Seriously. If you haven't tried one, or if you crave a _good_ chocolate bar- stock up. They are amazing. I kept buying box after box meaning to give them as Thank You's for help with my wedding, and somehow they kept getting eaten...

Task Bars:
As one of the ladies on the forum said "My favorite Taskbar is the one I am eating at the time!" From Mango Smoothie to Cherry Cobbler to Raspberry Jam n' Peanuts- They are all delicious and a healthy way to give you that extra energy you need to get through the day.

Outrageous Outback Oatmeal-

This is a sweet hearty oatmeal breakfast with currants and sunflower seeds in it. My darling daughter Nora would shove this into her mouth as fast as she could if I let her! It is rich and amazingly good.

Budget Mix:

This has got to be one of my all time favorites, not just for flavor, but for sheer versatility. MaryJane had worked really hard in coming up with some really fabulous recipes that can be found in her Farm Kitchen version of the Magazine!

Or the Tote Bag Special with Budget mix and the Farm Kitchen Magazine AND a beautiful tote (I love mine!)

The following meals I have tried and my mouth waters as I post the pictures here for you! They are amazing and so well pulled together!
Northwest Garden Couscous:

Organic Southwestern Couscous:

Organic Wild Forest Mushroom Couscous:

Eat Your Veggies Pasta:

Organic BNT Bac'un (Vegetarian)Noodles and Tomatoes:

Nick's Couch Potatoes:

Organic Bare Burrito:

Black Beans and Rice:
(I eat this plain all the time!)

Organic Curry In a Hurry:

Organic Jambalaya:
(One of Husband's Favorites!)

Creamy Potato Soup:

Velvety Black Bean Soup:

Organic Scones with Orange and Walnut!

All of these pictures are from the MaryJanesFarmwebsite- most taken my MaryJane herself (if not all!)

I highly encourage you to try these foods and any others on her site! I am still buying and trying her foods too and have yet to be disappointed by a single one!

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am

Nora is such a good eater and sometimes I take that for granted. Last Sunday at church, Nora and I sat next to a couple with a baby about the same age as Nora. This little boy is a bit shorter and much thinner than Nora. Both of the kids got fussy at the same time so we went to the back of the church so we wouldn't disturb others.

Through talking with his mom, I found out that Tim has texture/eating issues. His mom is obviously worried sick about him and doing everything in her power to try and help her son.

"Is he hungry?" I asked since he wasn't settling down.

"Probably, He wouldn't eat anything this morning before church and when he refuses food we just can't force him to eat at all!" She said. I could see that this is obviously something she worries about constantly. There was this thinly veiled panic right below the surface in her eyes. I offered a fudge dipped coconut bar that I had in my diaper bag. She had said that he probably wouldn't eat it, but we could give it a shot. He ended up eating 3/4 of it before calling it quits. And he drank some milk that I went and got from the restaurant. His mom had to break the bar up into pea sized amounts and put it into his mouth for him.

In contrast, Nora probably weight 25lbs, wears 18 month clothes, and often is seen shoving food into her mouth with both hands. The only foods I help her eat are soupy runny foods that she can't get her hands around- and since that is a lot of effort- I often don't fix those types of foods for her. She loves all sorts of flavors and textures. She even eats scrambled eggs with gusto.

So sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have a child that eats her food. It seems like something so natural that babies wouldn't have issues with it- but I think it is just those types of things that can affect our lives the most if they aren't quite on target. I can't imagine the stress and worry I would have if Nora suddenly decided to stop eating and was dropping weight! I imagine Nora is close to the 50th percentile in height and weight. I can't even imagine if she drop to the 3rd percentile like this little boy.

Tim's mom looked like she was torn between crying in relief that her baby ate something and jumping for joy that there was now something else that she could feed him. Now granted, a fudge dipped coconut bar may not seem like the most nutritious thing to be feeding a child, but I think at some point the calorie factor starts to become more important than making sure you are feeding your child the "perfect" meal.

I felt very humbled this morning as I remembered Tim's mom and her struggles as I plopped Nora into her high chair, cut up a banana, scrambled an egg, and gave her a cup of orange juice to drink.

Tim's mom says he often gags on bread like items, but I am wondering if he would eat banana bread that had been sort of compressed so it wasn't a bread texture. I want to help her so much. Anyone have any ideas? I know they give him the weight gain Ensure but sometimes he won't even drink milk or anything.

Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon- Bliss in the Kitch

Since becoming a Stay at Home Mom, one of the joys of my day is to make sure I am feeding my family nutritious, wholesome, homemade food- on a frugal budget of course! We are on a bare-bones budget, so many times I have to forgo buying the organics that I normally would, but that aside, our food is quite wholesome.

I taught myself how to can tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce this last summer/fall with the help of the ladies at The MaryJane's Farm Chat Forum, and with the aid of the Ball Canning book. I would have probably never had the courage to try had it not been for the lovely articles about canning in the MaryJanesFarm Magazine and the encouragement I received on the Forum.

Yesterday I made homemade bread, today I made another batch but to be used as the bread to surround my famous cabbage burgers (recipe below). I also made a MaryJane's bake over with her delicious budget mix! If you haven't tried it, you really should! It is so versatile and you know it is great because MaryJane only sells organic! Check her products out here: MaryJanes Farm Product Directory

A Healthy In-Hand meal is a traditional German Cabbage burger. Now before you shy away because you don't like cabbage and goodness forbid _cooked_ cabbage! Ick Ook Ugh! Actually- the cabbage absorbs the meat taste and adds a little spice but affidavits from sworn cabbage haters say that there is no cabbagey taste to these yummy burgers at all!

Cabbage Burgers:

(1) Make your favorite plain bread recipe
While your bread rises, start cooking the filling

(2) Scramble hamburger till browned, add minced cabbage- about half a head, add minced carrots, celery, onions, garlic and spice to taste. I like to add a little Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and leave it at that. Doug likes a spicy Mexican taste.

(3) After dough has risen, punch down and roll as thin as possible. Put cereal bowl upside down on the rolled out dough. Cut out circle, using bowl as guide, but cut 1 inch away from lip of bowl.

(4) Lay dough circle over bowl like lid. Use slotted spoon to put a dollop of meaty filling in middle of dough circle. Bring sides in and pinch bottom closed until you have a bread encased circle.

(5) Place roll pinched side down onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake according to bread directions until done (meat filling is already cooked). Enjoy! Great with ketchup!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Farmgirl At Heart

Here is my next post for the Farmgirl Blog-A-Thon that got started over at MaryJanesFarm Chat Forum.

First I think I should mention that I do not live on a farm. I would love to, but never have. I have always been around animals and have always gardened. I always felt a little different, like my life's rhythm was running at a different pace than those around me.

I always felt a bit lost, searching for that rhythm that would synchronize with my own. As a child I wanted to learn to embroider and sew, but was always too impatient to learn more than how to thread a needle. I was always outside pretending things and playing with the cats and dogs, or running half wild through our property in the mountains.

Back in 2002 we moved to Northern Idaho- home to MaryJanesFarm. It took me a few years to find her magazine and become hooked- but from the first instant of seeing her photographs and reading a snatch of MaryJane's philosophy on life- I knew I wasn't alone.

I knew that out there, there were other women who felt a slower pace in life is needed, that there are other women who love to dig their fingers in to warm soil, and others who can't help but see the love in an animal's eyes.

Then, I learned my mom is a Farmgirl at Heart too! Through talking on the forum and sharing ideas and concepts with my mom, I think that we have grown closer and learned so much from each other! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that my dream farm had already been planned out in detail by mom mother! Guess who is going to be a business partner someday!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapering is amazing. Simply Amazing. I can't stress enough how relieved I am that we made this decision. Doug and I don't live on very much money month to month, so I never could quite make myself believe it was a good idea to pay $15 twice a week for something for our baby to poop in.

Not only that, but I learned that it is estimated that each diaper takes about 500 year to decompose- all the while leaching petrochemical by products into the landfill and eventually into the ground water. Yeck.

And why do diapers need all that bleaching, perfume, and absorbent gel? Because disposable diapers are so well made now that your baby can sit in his or her own waste for hours and not feel uncomfortable. How nice.


You can consider cloth diapers where the biggest environmental impact is growing the fiber to make the diapers and then washing them as they are dirtied. I wash one load of diapers a day with an estimated $.50 per load in washing soap, water, and electricity costs. Probably less since our washer is brand new this year.

I made 90% of the cloth diapers that we use. We did receive a gift of a box of diapers and we love both types. However, it is so easy and economical to make your own, that it is not necessary to purchase expensive diapers from lofty websites or boutique stores.

If you are just entering the world of cloth diapering, let me give you a quick run down of some of the terms you might encounter:

AIO (All in One) This is a diaper that, while cloth, it has a plastic/vinylized fabric as the outer layer to keep moisture in. The diaper around you baby's tush is cloth and absorbent. It is often sewn in the "contoured" fashion.

Contoured Diaper- Sewn to fit the form of your baby, much the way a disposable is shaped. Often these diapers have snaps, clips, buttons, or velcro to secure them.

Pre-Fold diapers- Where it be Indian or Chinese, prefold diapers are sewn to secure a soaker pad in the middle of a square or rectangle of cloth. The "prefold" is a misnomer for many as it still requires folding and pinning with either a traditional diaper pin or a Snappi which is kindof like an ace bandage holder for cloth diapers.

Flat Fold Diapers- a big square of cloth. You need to know how to fold it, but with a few seconds of practice, you can quickly fold a square of fabric to swaddle your baby's bum. This is by far the most economical version of diapering as little to no sewing is required.

Soaker Pad- This is the roll of fabric between your baby's legs, sometimes a removable addition that is designed to do the dirty work of diapering.

Diaper wrap- This is something you will need if you do not use AIO diapers. This is a water resistant wrap that goes around the diaper. They have come a long way since the vinyl pants that we wore as children. Most Natural Living stores carry them, as do many online stores. You can also knit or crochet and then felt soaker pants. By lanolizing the felted result they will be moisture resistant and still allow air passage.

Now More reasons why Cloth Diapering is amazing:

We rarely have a "Diaper" smell in our house, and yet we don't use a diaper pail, diaper genie, or any other such contraption. If Nora's stool's are solid, I shake them into the toilet and flush. If not I just toss the dirty diaper into the washer. No rinsing by hand. I let the wash machine do that for me. If I am washing a lot of poopy diapers, I will run a rinse cycle before the wash cycle. Washing diapers causes little extra work as wraps, diapers, and cloth wipes go in together, get dried together and so are found easily.

We have friends who use disposables and no matter how often they take their garbage out, it always smells like a dirty diaper in their house. I think this is because the diapers get dirty long before the parent or even the child realizes it and the urine and poop actually go rancid before a diaper change is made. This rarely happens with cloth diapers. Your baby will let you know when they need a change, though contrary to popular belief, I only have to change Nora's diaper 4-5 times a day anyway.

Nora already holds her bladder through the night and has since she was about a month old. She is one year old and already shows interest in potty training and seems to know about when she need to go potty.

There is so much more information and I would love to help people diaper their children using cloth. I will sew cloth diapers at cost as I feel it is more important to cloth diaper than to profit from this necessity. Please email me at alee(@) with any questions! I will be happy to help!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Adventures of a Running baby

Nora is still learning to walk, but she thinks she can run already. Well, she is a pretty good walker, considering she has only been doing it for 2 months. Tonight for no apparent reason she lost her balance and fell, smashing her mouth right into the coffee table. Oh it looked like it hurt so bad! Her little lip smooshed into the table so hard it split on the inside.

I wish I could tell her that is is okay and that she will feel better tomorrow. Like a champ she stopped crying pretty quick and after some ora-gel she went back to playing and eating dinner.

Anyone know where I can buy a foam rubber coffee table?

Being Frugal Cleaning and Eating

Hi Everyone!

I have been a bit busy and haven't had time to post a lot lately. I feel guilty when I see the huge gaps between posts. I hope some of you still enjoy my blog! :D

I have been busy doing a lot of Spring Cleaning lately which of course involves a lot of cleaning chemical...or does it? Not when you are Frugal!

I hardly ever use any sort of cleaning chemical anymore. In fact I think the strongest cleaning chemical I have in the house is my dish washing soap. I use a mixture of Vinegar and Water with about 1/2 teaspoon of dish washing soap in to help strip off wax and residue from old cleaners. This is my "Glass and Surface" cleaner that doesn't leave streaks and doesn't have weird blue dye in it either.

For harder messes I use baking soda wet down to make a paste and sometimes a bit of my dish washing soap. If it really needs extra help it soaks in straight vinegar for an hour before I dump baking soda in the water and then scrub.

My floors get washed with the "Glass and Surface" mixture mentioned above- simply squirt and wipe in most cases. For all other messes such as washing walls I just use good old soap and water.

When Vinegar is under $2 a gallon and Baking Soda is $.49 a pound, I can't think of a more frugal way to clean. I buy cleaning rags at Walmart- 18 wash clothes for $5. They do a great job and are just the right size. Also I don't feel bad about using them up on a job that might stain the heck out of them, though more rags get worn out than thrown away.

I have also been extra frugal with shopping and eating lately. I called around to check meat prices before grocery shopping this month. It turns out that a small local butcher/meat locker has better meat prices than our local Winco (west coast discount grocer). I paid $77 for a month's worth of meat and it will actually probably last us closer to 2 months as I have hardly touched the meat supply as of yet.

I bought about 7 pound of assorted varieties of beans. I am really looking for a cheaper way to buy bulk beans as $1.30 a pound seems really high to me.

Here is my shopping receipt from 4-7-08. I had to go again tonight as I realized a few staples like flour were about to run out.
Shopping Reciept:
Dozen Eggs-1.50
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Hunts Tomato Paste- 1.39
Hunts Tomato Paste- 1.39
Beets (canned)- .62
Treetop Apple Sauce- 1.98
Gallon of milk- 2.98
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Apple Juice- 1.23
Kiwi Strawberry Juice- 1.26
Apple juice- 1.23
Cranberry Juice- 1.26
Green Cabbage- 1.34
Lettuce- .98
2lbs carrots- .98
Great Northern dry beans- 2.18
beets sliced- .62
Pizza Sauce- .53
Pizza Sauce- .53
Dried black beans- 1.13
dried kidney beans- 2.46
Dried black beans- 1.13
dried black beans- 1.13
celery- 1.00
gallon of milk- 2.98
3 Green Bell peppers- .96
2 Red Bell Peppers- 1.74
Bendy Straws- 1.48
broccoli crowns- 1.18
Granola Bars fudge dipped- 1.58
coconut granola bars- 1.58
Raisins- 1.49
Cream of chicken soup- .88
cream of chicken soup- .88
cream of mushroom soup- .88
tomato sauce- .53
unsalted butter- 1.98
real lemon juice- 2.15
sour cream- 1.38
potatoes 10#- 1.98
orange juice- 1.48
broccoli florets (frozen)- 1.80
roma tomatoes- 1.83
5lb onions- 1.68
orange juice- 1.48
chow mein noodles- 1.43
olive oil- 4.18
measuring spoons- 2.09
non stick spray- 1.84
grapeseed oil- 7.64
frozen peas- 1.74
taco seasoning- .44
mozzarella- 5.98 (2 lb loaf)
honey tangerines- 3.21
shortening- 2.51
ranch packet .98
medium cheddar cheese- 5.98

Grand total- $114.73
Plus $77 at butcher which includes 2 pot roasts, 4 pork chops, 10 lbs of fresh hamburger, 10 chicken breasts, 2 whole (small) chickens and I can't remember what else! LOL

So for a WHOLE month worth of food (and then some)- $191.73!!*

** Plus an additional $60 tonight because I actually was out of some things that I had not realized so $251.73 and I anticipate another $20 because I forgot to buy vinegar, shampoo and conditioner and dog food. This month it looks like I am going to be about $100 over budget but some things won't have to be bought again before we move.

I made a huge vat of Black Bean soup that I am going to stretch with more rice as I think I put in too much garlic. This is going to be lunches for the rest of the month. For dinner tonight we are having pot roast with veggies. I am hoping to have left overs of that for dinner tomorrow as well- maybe in cottage pie.

I have found that planning your meals in advance really helps with shopping and eases the strain of trying to figure out what to fix for dinner at night. Here is a month's worth of meals. Feel free to use for inspiration if you like. I will try to come up with new and varies menus each month. If you would like my recipes for my dinners let me know. I will try to remember to post them as I go.

Posted - Apr 01 2008 : 1:06:21 PM Show Profile Email Poster Edit Reply Click to see Alee's MSN Messenger address Send Alee a Yahoo! Message Reply with Quote Delete Reply
Dinner Meals
Month- April
1-Chicken Breast with chicken stock made rice, frozen veggies
2-Stir Fry to use left over chicken, rice and veggies.
3-Left over Chili if any left/ If not Spaghetti.
4- Left over Spaghetti with salad and fruit
5- Hamburgers
6- Crock Pot Pot Roast with roasted root veggies (yummy!)
7- Taco Night
8- Cabbage Burgers
9- Baked Fish and Chips (Tillapia Fish battered and baked with potato wedges)
10- Hearty Beef Stew (Made with beef broth, lots of veggies and a bit of stew meat)
11- Meatloaf
12- Chicken Alfredo
13- Salmon and Rice with veggies
14- Pulled Pork
15- Homemade chicken fingers
16- Homemade Pizza
17- Chicken and Dumplings
18- Cuban Rice and Peppers
19- Ranch Chicken and Pasta
20- Cottage Pie
21- Either roasted chicken or small turkey
22- Open Faced turkey or chicken sandwiches
23- Pork Chops with apple sauce and peas
24- Supreme Baked Potatoes
25- Mushroom Burgers
26- Hawaiian Haystacks
27- Pot Roast with Roasted Veggies
28- Sub sandwiches
29- Chicken Enchiladas
30- Calzones

My Beautiful Nora Girl

Nora's Musings