Monday, October 31, 2011

Best Ever Cheeseburger Soup

Okay, I have the absolute best soup recipe EVER!!!  That includes my chicken tortilla soup, which my family just loves. There are loads of chicken tortilla soup recipes so I'm not posting that one.

THIS, though.....THIS is amazing!

I could hurt myself eating it. I crave it. I gots to have it.

So... my darlings, here it is.

2T butter
1# ground beef
1C diced onion
1C diced tomatoes (I used fresh)
1C diced carrots (I used pureed bc I have to sneak it into my family's food. They are babies. Baby men)
3 cloves minced garlic
1T basil
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot. Brown the beef and sautee the veggies and spices.

3C chicken broth
2C cubed potatoes

Bring to a boil. Let simmer until potatoes are just done.

Add 1 1/2C milk

simmer and add

2C cheese (I used 1C velveeta and 1C cheddar)
1/2C sour cream
1/4C ketchup
2T mustard

Then, enjoy this warm, steaming pot of autumnal love!

Okay you may be sitting there thinking 'That sounds really good, buuuuuut......what's with the freaky, bloody gnome????'
Well, I took a picture of the soup and tried to upload it. But, I deleted it before it was actually finished loading. I'm no photographer. I tried, I really did. Im the person that always snaps the picture just a fraction of a second too late. Always.

So, I don't have a picture of the soup.

Because we ate it.

Its gone.

I told you it was delicious.

So, since its Halloween and I don't have a soup picture, you get to see the bloody gnome that makes me laugh and laugh. Mwaahahhaahhaa!!!

(that was my scary Halloween laugh)

If you want to know more about the bloody gnome and his misadventures at my workplace, read this My honey and I work together...with zombies....

This post is linked to Monday Mania and Barn Hop  and Sunday Night Soup Night check em out!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Summer Purse

When my son was about 10 or 11 he was on the swim team in our area. Our area only had a swim team for one summer. It was a great summer with a winning team, the Red River Racers. Before that, my son had played some t-ball, some coach pitch, a little b-ball. He is VERY big for his age. He was also very non-competitive..

Because he was so big, coaches would drool when they saw him. They almost begged him to be on their teams. He always said yes because he is also very social. The lure of playing with other boys was his siren song. His job in basketball ended up being to just stand in front of the goal and hold his arms up. "Don't do anything else!"

 Well, that's not fun so that didn't last long.

He became a little chubby. So, when another homeschool mom started talking swim team, I immediately signed him up. He could swim since he was 2, but this summer I thought it would be great for him to get out from in front of the video games, interact with other kids, clean up his stroke, and maybe lose a little baby fat. I did not care at all if he ever won a race.

Every morning, he got in the water, swam a few leisurely laps and played dolphin with another kid. Oh yeah, he would also walk the lane pretending to swim with his arms. So, they put him in the slow lane. Then every Saturday he would go to a swim meet, somewhere far away and leisurely swim a few laps while the other kids churned up the water. Needless to say he was always last. He was a huge frustration to his teammates, but Jake didn't even notice. He had a great time hanging out at the pool with his friends, running around, and enjoying snacks.

At one meet, he came up and asked me if I had any duct tape in my bag.
"No, why would I have duct tape?"
"My shoe broke and I want to fix it." It was  $2 flip flop from Walmart. The glue came loose so the strap came off.
I said "Oh Jake, that's okay, I got those at Wal-Mart. I'll just get you some more when we leave. Just go barefoot for now." So, I took his shoe and pressed the strap back onto the sole. Hmmmmm...that worked. Hey, it might hold. So I didn't go to Wal-Mart for more flip flops.
They lasted 2 more meets.

Then....the last meet.

Jake is swimming and......wait.....what is he doing? Oh My Gosh!!! He's actually competing! All the other parents are cheering for him. I'm screaming. Another dad is looking at me and says "Did you SEE that??????" "YES!!!" and he won. It was greatness...

A little later, he asks me for tape. Of course I don't have tape. So, I say "Just don't worry about it, right now. I promise we'll stop after the meet." He walks away. I don't see him again for about 30 minutes  and he has masking tape holding his shoe together. Its taped up like only a child can do. I laugh because I know he's been making the rounds asking other parents in a strange town if they have any tape. He must do this because his mother is negligent and doesn't carry tape around after she buys $2 shoes for her son and then makes him wear them even after he's told her they're dysfunctional.



So, I'm laughing at his redneckedness, but I'm also proud of his win so for a celebration lunch we stop at Chick-Fil-A, his choice. Now, we live out in the country, in a small town. We do not have a Chick-Fil-A. For this meet, we were in a big city. A city big enough for an indoor natatorium. My town is so small, I don't think the majority of people in it even know what the WORD natatorium is! That may sound mean. Come to my town and you'll see.

So, we're walking across the crowded parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. Him, in his taped up flip flops, and me carrying that very stylish handbag in the picture above. I bought it specifically for the summer. It was quite stylish in the day. Its a leather hobo bag with inlaid little jewels on either side of the handle. Its light in color and perfect for summer.

As we walk across the lot, Jake says to me very disdainfully..."We look like a couple of rednecks walking in here."
"WHAT??? Speak for yourself mr tape up man......How do you figure we look like rednecks? I, myself, am looking very stylish. Thank you very much."

"Well, my shoes have tape on them.... and you're carrying that PURSE!"

Does this make me a bad mom? I don't think so. It makes me laugh. Anything that makes me laugh can't be bad for my child....can it?

I just found that purse in my closet. That's what reminded me of that story......I think I'll start carrying it again. But, its fall so it probably WILL look rednecky...I think I will just keep it and carry it to his wedding.

That will make me it must not be bad...right?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Exotic Lands of Forestburg, TX

This is linked to Soulemama's This Moment  a single moment from the week. No words, just a photo to capture the moment. Here's mine from this week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hammock Fun

This Guy

enjoys a nice afternoon in  a hammock.

And this girl

ALSO enjoys a rousing hammock romp.

And betwixt the two, I fear there will be no more of this


Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Egg Rolls = Better Than Restaurant

All day yesterday, I felt like I wasn't getting anything done.

Here's what I did:

3 loads of laundry
fed and watered all the animals
washed 2 loads of dishes
made 4 acai bead bracelets (They're beautiful! I'll share later this week)
blogged about preparing Emergency Meals, Preparedness
knitted a few rows of a cashmere scarf I'm making for a Christmas present
prepared meals
made chicken stock in the crock pot with a leftover chicken
made a pumpkin pie with homemade crust
used the extra crust to make homemade apricot toaster pastries (There are none left!!)
whipped up some whipped cream with fresh, organic cream to go on said pie
bought and hooked up a new Blue-Ray, DVD player
AND I made those little beauties in the picture above!!

That seems like a lot! I was feeling bothered yesterday wondering how I could have done all that and still be feeling like I needed to do more. I think I figured it out. It could be one of two things.
1 -  There is still so much more that NEEDS to be done and maybe I should be doing those things instead of pinning on pinterest, blogging, and checking my facebook updates. To be fair, though, since fb changed I don't get on there as much as I used to. And even more so, since pinterest!! Pinterest is waaaaay more fun than facebook and its actually useful! The eggroll recipe I'm about to share came from there.


2 - I work so hard at my job (We work 6 days a week in the spring and summer balls to the wall. In the fall and winter it slows down and we are closed now on Sundays and Mondays. This is the first Monday that I haven't had to go in to work to do something.) maybe I have a hard time turning that off! I'm not sure. I'm hoping its this. Because if it is, then that will eventually go away. Probably right about the time when spring hits!! The whole not having everything done gives me a little anxiety.

Okay enough of that. I teased you with the intriguing headline (because honestly...who DOESN'T love a good eggroll? Especially if you can make them yourself without all the preservatives that comes from the restaurants.) then held you hostage and made you listen read my little anxiety disordered filled day. Sometimes a girl just needs a hug..even if you have to force someone to give it to you! :)

I found this recipe on pinterest and I just have to say WOW! I am not exxagerating when I say that they really are better than restaurant egg rolls. Here is the link to the original recipe. I tweaked it just a little to make it a little healthier. I didn't tweak it much, though, as its pretty perfect just like it is.


1# ground pork
4C finely shredded cabbage
2C matchstick carrots
8oz pkg bean sprouts
6 chopped green onions
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2T freshly chopped cilantro
1t freshly grated ginger
1T oyster sauce
1T hoisin sauce
1 pkg egg roll wrappers

Fat for frying them

I used ghee because thats what I had. I would definitely plan ahead and use lard next time, though. A good lard, not the junk from the grocery store. I'm on the lookout for duck fat and pastured pork lard. When I find it, I'll let you know. I'm told that Central Market has duck fat. The nearest one to me is about 60 miles so I haven't checked it out yet.

Take about 2T of the fat and swirl it around in a big pot, add the pork and brown it. Then add your vegetables, Cook about 10 minutes until softened. Add the spices and cook another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat to cool a little.

Heat up your fat.

Lay out your wrappers with one corner facing you like a diamond. Put about 2 spoonfuls of filling close to your end of the diamond. Roll your corner over the filling. Then, roll the 2 outside corners in and roll so you're only left with the last corner at the top (like an envelope flap) brush water over the flap so it will seal. Finish rolling. Then use your brush (or your finger) to wet the seams to seal the whole thing.

Place your egg rolls in the hot oil and fry about 3 minutes until they're a nice golden color.
Drain on paper towels.

Here's the last and most important piece of this recipe......

BE CAREFUL!! They're hot! and delicious! and addicitive! and your family won't be able to stop hugging you.

So, there's my little eggrolly hug for you!

This post is linked to Homestead Revivals Barn Hop  and The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My motto is: Its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

I've been thinking about preparedness lately. What prompted that was a friend of mine, who seriously keeps up on all things political, told me a while back that food prices were going to rise drastically. Gas and corn prices are going up and those two things are interconnected with everything we eat. Well, I started noticing it coming true!! I'm sure you have too. So, I bought a small freezer and started gradually filling it up. My thoughts on this were solely to save money on groceries in the event of a depression or food lines like they had in Russia during the cold war. (That may sound crazy and paranoid, but it COULD happen....because at one time in history it DID happen.  Refer back to the first sentence in this post.)

Last night, I was reading another blog, Homestead Revival and she issued a challenge that really made me think and take my preparedness a step further. The challenge is basically to have a 3 day "stash" of ready to prepare meals in case of emergency. It really has nothing to do with anything political but more in the event of a natural or even a man made disaster. Its not unreasonable to think that a tornado (where I live), a hurricane, an earthquake, blizzard, or flood could knock out the power and water for a few days (or more!).  The reason for having 3 days of food set aside from the rest of the pantry is because its been shown that when a disaster occurs it takes about 3 days to overcome the emotional shock of it all. In those 3 days, a family still needs to eat and drink. So, the meals should be in their own containers, labeled, easy to find, and not touched until ready for use. They should be shelf stable and last at least 6 months. In fact, just to insure the food stays fresh, you should eat the food every 6 months and immediately re-stock. You wouldn't want to find out in the middle of a crisis that your food expired 2 years ago!!

In Amy's original post, the link I just shared with you, she challenges everyone to post just one meal they would put in their box.  You really should go check it out. Its really interesting to read the other entries. They are full of great ideas!

So, here are my ideas. 

First of all, in the event that I had no electricity, I would feel the need to quickly use up things from the freezer and the fridge. Also, I have chickens and a garden. So, depending on the time of the year, I would have eggs, veggies, and herbs available, maybe fruit too. We have some fruit and pecan trees on our place. I also use a propane stove so I can't imagine not having that available to use just because we may not have power or water.

All that being said, just to be fair and in the spirit of the exercise, I will assume none of those would be available. Not only that, if in fact, I was "shell shocked", I may need the comfort and simplicity of a meal at my fingertips that required no thought.  Assuming for whatever reason, my propane was unavailable or just being conserved I would build a fire outside. We have an abundance of wood that needs to be burned anyway. And it would probably add a fun, campy element that might help alleviate the stress.

So, here goes:

Breakfast is easy. I would have in my boxes instant oatmeal, cereal, almond milk, Nature's Path toaster pastries, canned or dried fruit, bottled water, tea bags and instant coffee. I would also add some shelf stable bacon for protein (Im not sure of the brand, but I get it from our health food co-op and its pretty good!) The protein is important. Otherwise, the rest of it is all carby ensuring sugar crashes and crankiness later. Crankiness is not conducive to survival!! :)

Lunch and Dinner are interchangeable. I'll have to think a little more on these. But, I know for a fact that one meal would be bean burritos. I got that idea from reading another post. And my family LOVES burritos. In that box, I would have a can of refried beans, flour tortillas, a can of enchilada sauce, canned cheese, a bag of tortilla chips and salsa.
Another meal will be a dutch oven chicken noodle soup. My husband has been bucking for a dutch oven for years anyway ever since he watched the movie Lonesome Dove the FIRST time. He wanted to be like Robert Duvall and cook biscuits in the ground and be surrounded by pot belly pigs. Number 1, I told him "Honey, maybe you should start off by learning to cook bisuits in the oven!!!" Number 2, he wanted these pigs to live with us in the house!! (His culinary experience currently consists of velveeta/rotel dip in the microwave and "cooking" pop tarts in the toaster.) He pushed hard for the pigs in the house. I told him he was welcome to have whatever animal his heart desires but none of them will be allowed to live in the house. He continued on to tell me that pot belly pigs are delicate and NEED to be in the house. All this until one day at the feed store buying horse feed, he saw a pen of baby pigs. He made a bee line over to the feed store worker and said "I see here that you have pot belly pigs. Now, they need to live in the house don't they?" as he glanced over at me smugly. The man replied "NO man! They're PIGS!" as I walked away snickering. After that, there was no more talk of biscuits and pigs. Now he just wants me to let him call me Lori Darling. I won't do that either........

Back to the soup. I found a good recipe for Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup here The Survival Mom.  It was kind of hard to find dutch oven recipes using only canned or dried foods. She has it all figured out already.

And one other thing I KNOW I will have in a box for a dessert is s'mores. We'll have the fire going and a stressful situation calls for a little fun and comfort food. S'mores are easy keepers, just a box of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars.

Have you given thought to "disaster meal kits"? What would yours be?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Herbal Medicine Cabinet

As I've done more and more research on the effects of drugs...

.....No, not recreational drugs.....I wish!

Not really. I won't put NutraSweet in my body much less something some dude with no teeth cooked up in his trailer house! As a funny aside, I live in a small, rural town. The weekly county paper had a report about a kid that was injured when his house blew up in a hair coloring accident.

Hair coloring accident?!?!?!??
I was thinking 'What the heck was that kid coloring his hair with anyway??? THAT'S the news report right there!! THIS JUST IN Ladies stop coloring your hair until we figure out what's making it blow up your house!!'
Turns out as I'm sure you've already figured out, that was no hair coloring accident. Kid was cookin up some meth.

I know, I know all you english teachers out there are about to have a hyperventilation fit because I left a sentence fragment at the beginning of this post so I can tell you about the meth kid with funky looking hair.

Its okay, seriously. I'm coming back to it *looking at my watch* right about......NOW!

As I do more and more research about the effects of drugs it makes me realize that I want to use them less and less. (Whew! feeling better?) So I put together the staples from my medicine cabinet which really arent in my medical cabinet at all! These things are scattered all about my house, mostly in the kitchen. These are the basics and with them you can treat almost any malady you have.

Let me first tell you what you don't see.

Bandaids - of course we should all have bandaids and I don't think I need to tell you how to use them....right?

Apirin or Ibuprofen - We do occasionally use them. In fact, I thought I was getting sick yesterday. I was achy all day. It started with a stiff neck and shoulders and moved into a headache. I think I just slept funny because it was cold. In fact, I'm wearing ski bibs today and everyone is making fun of me asking if we're going skiing. I can't help it. I live in Texas. I'm a summer girl! Anyway, I took an Ibuprofen and BAM! achiness gone.

Monavie - We drink Monavie everyday for the anti-oxidants and it makes my knees feel good. If we feel like we're coming down with something we chug it. If you want to try it, we're distributors. You can order it from my website on the right hand side bar.

Thats really it for what I didn't take a picture of.

Heres what the rest of it is.

Neti Pot - You use it to rinse out the nasal passages and sinuses with salt water. Salt water is also great to gargle with if you have a sore throat. If you want to know more about the neti pot click Here.

Aloe Vera - I use the plant when I burn myself (which oddly, I do frequently when I'm cooking.) I break the leaves and rub the juice on the burn. It works wonderfully!

Calendula ointment - Same as with the aloe. Its great for scrapes, burns, rashes, and other skin irritations

Arnica Cream - You're gonna love me for this one! Its like IcyHot, but without the Icy and the Hot. It really works great for muscle and joint aches and pains. You can't really feel anything when you rub it on but it really works. I fractured my pelvis when I was thrown from an unbroke horse. I used the heck out of my arnica and I continued to teach yoga and Tae Kwon Do (even sparred!) and continued to work cleaning pools. A nurse friend found out about it and screamed "You're supposed to be on bedrest!!" I said, as I was down blocking waiting to be thrown by her to the ground in TKD "Yeah, well, good luck to me, because that was weeks ago!"

Gas Stop - Uhhhhh, yeah.....I think you got that one, right? Shall I explain? I don't think I really need to but here goes.......It. uh. stops. gassiness....If you need more than that, leave a comment.

Crystallized Ginger - I like to take a little piece and nibble it if I'm feeling queasy. It just takes a little to work. Ginger is also good for other things as well. If you want to know more about the benefits of ginger click Here.

Traditional Medicinals Ginger Aid tea - Same principle as the crystallized ginger but in a tea form.

Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea - Good for minor throat irritations. These are what's in it:
Medicinal ingredients: Each tea bag (2.0g) contains: organic licorice root* (Glycyrrhiza glabra) 420 mg, organic wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina) 340 mg, organic bitter fennel fruit (Foeniculum vulgare) 300 mg, organic marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) 120 mg, organic slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra) 100 mg.

Non-medicinal ingredients: organic cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum spp.), organic sweet orange peel (Citrus sinensis).
I like Traditional Medicinals because they are fair trade and organic.

Yogi Stress Relief tea - It has kava kava in it. It helps reduce anxiety. I live with a Type A personality and this helps me to relax so I don't kill him in a horrible, knitting accident. Its okay, he knows. In fact, I'm now thinking that maybe it should be HIM drinking it, not me. One of these days, he's going to disappear and "I'm not going to know what happened". Its okay. He knows that too. We've been married for 21 years and we work together. If you want to know how that works read This. But, back to the kava kava, its a little hard on the liver. So, don't drink it a lot. If, like me, you live with a Type A personality, do what I do, Yoga and martial arts where you can relax and beat the crap out of bags, and then go home to your loving spouse. They'll be spared the horrible knitting accident and you'll be spared years of inprisonment. Of course, I won't be inprisoned because as I've stated "I won't know what happened."

Yogi Bedtime tea - This is fantastic if you have trouble sleeping, It contains valerian, chamomile, hops and other calming herbs. Chamomile helps you fall asleep while valerian helps you stay asleep. Honey before bed helps too, as does a shot of Monavie. It has to do with blood sugars. You can also learn more about that Right Here.

I also use Burts Bees lip balm for chapped lips.

That's about all we use to stay healthy. Its so much more body friendly than using drugs. Did you know that according to FoodMatters, prescription drugs AS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DOCTOR is the number one killer of people. Not to mention all the nasty side effects of pharmaceuticals.

If you're looking to create an herbal medicine cabinet or just supplement whatcha got, this is a good start. If you have anything to add let me know.

This post is linked to Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday, Farmgirl Hop, and frugally sustainable.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Which Oils To Cook With??

Ever try and be healthy but you're not sure which oils are good, which are bad, and which ones aren't supposed to be heated up?
I know. It's confusing.

First they told us we shouldn't be eating fat. At all. They said "Eat Snackwell's cookies and rice cakes to your heart's content but  for goodness' sake don't let an egg yolk pass through your lips".  (Yeah, that didn't work out so great.)

Then, they said "No, No! Fat is okay, now. Just make sure its a GOOD fat like vegetable oils, not saturated fats like beef, butter, whole milk, or chicken skin. And for goodness' sake don't let an egg yolk pass through your lips."
So we all went out and bought LEAN ground beef and turkey bacon. (btw, I like turkey bacon. It tastes kinda like canadian bacon. Hey! maybe in Canadia, bacon comes from Turkeys. I don't know...I'm from Texas. Don't judge. But I digress.)

Then, they said "Forget what we said before. Don't eat HYDROGENATED OILS or saturated fats. Eat olive oil and you'll be okay. In fact, eat lots of olive oil and you'll live forever!! And don't forget the soy. Eat lots and lots of soy!" (Okay maybe that was a little bit of a stretch. Just a little)

So, which is it?? Whats a girl that plans to live to  be 130 years old to do?

Well, let me just clear it up a bit for you.

The first thing you need to know is that saturated fat is not the enemy. What is saturated fat anyway? Saturated fats come from animals mostly. Chemically, all the  carbon bonds are "saturated" with hydrogen atoms. This makes it highly stable and doesn't go rancid easily even when heated. Saturated fats play a very important role in our bodies. Our cells need them to perform properly. They also help our bones calcify. Contrary to the belief that it causes heart disease, saturated fats actually help PREVENT heart disease as well as protect the liver from toxins. In addition they help to enhance the immune system.

The second thing you need to know is that TRANSfats are the most dangerous. Transfats have been found to cause a whole slew of diseases, too numerous to mention in this post, in fact. Transfats are hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Margarine and Crisco are examples of transfats. Manufacturers began using hydrogenated oils because they are cheap. Chemically, they are made to "look like" saturated fats by adding hydrogen atoms to cheap oils. In addition to that, they are mixed with tiny particles of metal. Then they were sold to us consumers as "HEART HEALTHY" when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Its VERY important to read labels and stay away from these fats. Anything that says partially hydrogenated in the ingredients list should be avoided like cancer, because, well, its linked to cancer!

We all know olive oil is good for us, right? I think we can all agree on that. Peanut oil has a similar make up to olive oil. What's important to know, however, is that it shouldn't be heated to high temperatures. Which is a real drag because I saw that the fast food places replaced their vegetable oils with peanut oil in an effort to eliminate transfats from their menus. Hence, I started using peanut oil to deep fry my stuff too. My bad.

 Vegetable oils, safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils should never be consumed. They are high in omega 6 fatty acids. Research continues to accumulate on the dangers of too many omega 6 fats in our diets. And never, ever consume them after they've been heated.

And then, finally, coconut oil. Coconut oil is super healthy. Its 92% saturated fat. What's really interesting is the high concentration of lauric acid which is also found in large quantities in mother's milk. Whether or not you would drink your mother's milk (too much? Did I just go a little too far, there? Yeah, I thought so) we can all agree its probably the healthiest thing a human can consume, right? Lauric acid is both anti-fungal and anti-microbial. Because of its high concetration of lauric acid, coconut oil helps prevent food spoilage in tropical climates. Its highly stable, can be heated to high temperatures, and even aids in weight loss. What's not to love???
The coconutty flavor in your fried goods? While the healthiest way to get coconut oil is raw extra virgin, I'm told that expellar pressed coconut oil is flavorless. As is clarified palm oil.  Palm kernel oil is also high in lauric acid and is similar to coconut oil.

So. Which oils to use?

Coconut oil can be used for anything oil related and its very healthy. You can fry with it, bake with it, and even add it to your tea or coffee. It adds a nice dimension to coffee with some cream. (BTW, don't use non dairy creamers in your coffee. They are loaded with hydrogenated oils, sugars, and chemicals. Cream is much healthier.)

Lard is  good for deep frying safely and very tastily, I might add. Who of us didn't grow up with our mom frying potatoes in bacon grease? I don't think there is anything better. I have to say, though, that I just read that duck and goose fat is prized in Europe for frying potatoes. They say once you use duck fat for your potatoes, you'll never use lard again. If I can get my hands on some, I'll try it and let you know.
If you use lard, it should be pastured pork lard. Chicken fat should be from free range chickens because chickens raised in industrial settings store antibiotics, chemicals, and poisons in their fat.

Ghee is a clarified butter. Its also highly stable in high heats. Its also very buttery...and  very tasty. Its almost buttery than butter if that makes any sense. Ghee is basically butter thats been  boiled until all the milk particles and water have been removed. You can use it for frying.

Butter can't be used for frying at high heats. I like to use it to sautee vegetables, but only at a medium heat. It can be added to baked goods as well. I use melted butter in recipes that call for vegetable oils.

While olive oil, sesame oil, and flax oils are extremely healthy, they are unstable at high temperatures and should not be used to cook with. You can use it at low temperatures but honestly when you have other options, why would you even want to chance it? They are very good for making salad dressings and marinades. You have to be very careful with these oils. Since they are heat sensitive they should be in opaque bottles. Flax oil should always be refrigerated. Even then, it turns rancid really quickly.

Canola oil is a little iffy. I hear conflicting reports that swing wildly on whether its safe to consume or not. So, I'm just not consuming it until I learn more. Again, there are so many other options I'm really not missing anything.

And then finally, I think by now, everyone knows to avoid margarine and shortening. Right? Don't let Aibileen Clark fool you. Crisco is NOT the best stuff on earth. Lard makes a wonderfully flaky pie crust.

I think that about sums it up. If you have any questions, leave a comment. And go getcha some coconut oil!

This post is linked to Monday Mania. If you want to read more healthy, real food articles, go check it out!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yerba Mate

Guess what I'm doing right now!

Go on guess!

Ha! No, I'm not doing THAT!!!! I'm having a cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee with real cream. mmmmm....delicious! As a side note, adding a spoonful of coconut oil is yummy too and its super healthy. I actually got the idea for the coconut oil from Dr Perricone. He said he adds coconut oil to his tea. Well, I love my tea so I can't jack that up with anything, healthy or no.

And speaking of tea, this post isn't really about what I'm doing this morning or the yumminess of pumpkin spice coffee on a chilly October morning. Its about my favorite tea of all time, Yerba Mate. More specifically Wisdom Of The Ancients Yerba Mate Royale. They are not paying me to tell you how wonderful I think they are either.  I stumbled upon it when I read about Yerba Mate in my Yoga Journal one January. It was a small article about giving up coffee. Yerba Mate was one of the alternatives they listed.

For years, I've wanted to be a tea drinker but never found anything I liked. In fact, I'm addicted to buying boxes of tea. I have massive piles of  beautiful, delightfully artistic boxes of tea promising a relaxing cup of serenity.

Except they taste like dirt.

Okay, maybe not dirt, but leaves from a tree that grows in dirt.

Okay, so I guess that what tea really is, anyway.

 I don't even like iced sweet tea!! And since I live in the south I'm something of an outcast. At every family function all across the south,  the drink choices are Sweet and Unsweet. Nothing else. In fact, if you even dare to ask for water, they look at you like you have a chicken on your head! I have to keep the fact I dont like iced tea on the down-low so as not to be called a Yankee! If you live in the south, there is nothing worse than being called a Yankee. So at all the family functions and events I just get a glass of sweet tea and pretend to drink it and then guzzle from the water hose while I percieve no one is looking.

I do that so as not to look weird and bring attention to myself. I percieve that I pull this ruse off very nicely.

Years go by. Tea boxes pile up. Friends  reap the benefits of my tea buying and tea hating extravaganzas.........

Then, hark the herald angels sing! I found this Wisdom Of The Ancients tea, and its wonderful! Its Yerba Mate and stevia leaves.

What really got me, though, are the health benefits of this tea. It fights free radicals, cleanses the blood, and suppresses appetite. It fights aging, stimulates the mind, stimulates the production of cortisone and tones the nervous system. It also enhances the healing powers of other herbs. In addition, its useful for allergies, constipation, and inflammatory bowel disorders.
And according to the Yoga Journal article, it has three times more anti-oxidants than green tea. Its slightly more caffeinated than green tea, about 1/3 the caffeine of coffee, so its not recommended for those suffering insomnia.

Traditionally, its drunk from a gourd and a metal straw. I'm not sure what the purpose of that is, but this is my favorite way of drinking it:

Go getcha some and see what I'm talking about!

This is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday. You can check out other real food recipes, tips, and ideas Here

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp by
Apple crisp, a photo by on Flickr.

Okay so Operation Get Buff has taken a horrible, horrible, ugly turn into a dark abyss of misery and despair. I think my new name shall be Fatty McFatterson!!

Okay, so maybe that was a little dramatic. But, doesn't a girl get to be a little overly dramatic on fat days? I think if I were president, I would create a national holiday and it shall be called "Fat Day". Everyone gets to take a day off from work, wear sweatpants all day, and eat cookies! or donuts! Yes. Donuts!

But since I'm not president, and there is no Fat Day, Operation Get Buff is back on. In my attempt to get back on track, last night I made this apple crisp. Yesterday, in north Texas we had the best fall day ever!!! It was dark, cool, and rainy. Yeeee-Haw!! You have no idea how great that is. We just went through the hottest, driest, summer ever in history! It was so hot, I baked cookies on the dash of my truck while I was at work. If you want to read that story, its right here. Dash Cookies.
That cool, fallish weather just begs for something warm from the oven. I made potato soup for dinner. It wasn't super great, so I won't share. I didn't have enough potatoes. I was just using what I had on hand.  The recipe called for bacon, too. I only had 2 pieces of bacon and they were leftover from breakfast. I had to snatch them from Robbie's hand just as he was about to put one in his mouth and yell "NO!" like he's a bad dog that stole food from the table! He yelled, "Hey!!! I wanted bacon!"

Anyway, this post isn't about bacon....or potato soup....or my husband's addiction to food....Soooo...I don't know why I told you all that, except it was funny!!!

Okay, back to the apple crisp. Its not your normal apple crisp, its lighter and more apple-y.
Here's how I made it:

And because I'm all into the health and whatnot, I'm gonna tell you about the organicsness of it all!

2 organic honeycrisp apples, peeled and sliced
1 C oatmeal (of course, organic too!)
1/3 C organic butter
1 packet Stevia
1/4 t apple pie spice

In a bowl, melt the butter. Add the oatmeal, stevia, and spice. Stir to coat the oatmeal.
Place the apple slices in an oven safe dish and then spoon the oatmeal mixture over the top. Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes until the oatmeal is a little crispy.

That's it!!! Super simple. And if I'd thought it about it a little more in advance, I would have whipped up some cream to go on top. But, I thought it was really good!!! In fact, I had two bowls of it.

I know!! seconds aren't really conducive to my Operation Get Buff, but.........I didn't eat 20 cookies so I call it SCORE!!!! :)

Robbie wanted me to tell you that he didn't like it (in fact, I almost ate his too...but I do have at least a little self control).....In fact, when I handed it to him, he said "What's this stuff on top?"
I said "Oatmeal"
He said "I KNEW you were trying to trick me into eating something healthy!! Oatmeal isn't a dessert!"

That's okay. Don't listen to him! He's embraced his fatness.

Next time, I'll have to tell him the oatmeal are "buttery flavor crystals"!

He'll LOVE it!!!! And for the rest of you....Enjoy the buttery flavor crystal apples!

This recipe is submitted into Monday Mania. A real food, recipe carnival. If you want to read more recipes to help you join me in Operation Get Buff, or if you just don't want to be called Fatty McFatterson, then check it out HERE.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tiny, Little Photos

So, just a little bit ago I told you about the new look of my blog.
I know what you're thinking...Yes! I DO know what you're thinking. You're thinking baby sea otters are cute.

See?? I told you! You think they're cute, huh? Don't question the scope of my mad skills!

You're also thinking that my blog is super cute but you are squinting at my tiny little photos wondering what they are. Yeah, yeah, I know. They are super tiny. So, since its raining and I'm feeling a bit "bloggy" today, I'm going to share with you what they are.

They're not nearly as cute as baby sea otters but they are my family so I like em!

That's The Robbie's!

This is my baby, Jake, and me at his first "gig"! It was very exciting. He's gonna be famous. Watch for it. In addition to mind reading, I can tell the future. Great things are coming your way, watch for it! :)

And this is my stepson Robbie and his girlfriend, Misty. Check it out......Their names are Robbie and Misty....and OUR names are Robbie and Misty.....I like to call us Robbie and Misty squared!!
You already saw a picture of him up top with his dad. But, he looks so much nicer here. They aren't engaged yet.....but, I'm told, soon. Can't wait! She has a super cool job with NASA!! He is a chef.....but works as a valet. He could have his own Food Network show..instead of Cake Boss, his could be The Car Parking Cook!

I'm thinking that TV show execs should hire me.......

The last one is my lab Harley. I'm not posting that one. For some reason that picture is huge. I'll have to post that one on another day. Maybe with a pic of my other lab, Festus.

I know what you're thinking...... You're scrolling back up to the top thinking how cute baby sea otters are. You're wondering if your husband will let you have one. Then, you're thinking...'I wonder what they eat.'

I know, I know...Its okay. They ARE dang cute...So, I will tell you, cause I know these things....

They eat cake. Chocolate cake. You're welcome.

New Look!

Hey! Ya'll check out my new look!!

What do ya think??

I just figured out how to change the look of my blog. Whew!! It was a little rough, I won't lie. It probably isn't rough at all for more gadgety girls. Its really funny, because we didn't even have a computer until about 1998. Even then, all I could really do on it was check e-mail and play solitaire. Thanks Mr Gates!!!
I was busy riding horses, going to parties, raising a boy, riding horses...Oh yeah, well I rode a lot of horses. Sometimes we had parties on horseback!!!!

Fun times.

Now, I clean pools, and blog, and occasionally ride horses, pray for my almost grown boy, clean pools, pray for my almost grown boy....Oh yeah, well, he's 19....I pray for him A LOT!!! He's a good far as I know. :)

and a blogger!

A few of my friends Nicki and Tiffany have really cool blogs. Check them out here 400 Things and Rockin C.

I've been coveting their cool looking blogs for awhile. I'd still like to make a few changes but for today, I'm just thrilled that I have this super cool new look. I used Shabby Blogs for the background and header. The best part is that it was all FREE!!! You can check it out by grabbing the button on the side or at the top left corner. It is a super cool site with tutorials and everything.

Leave a comment please and tell me what you think. You won't hurt my feelings if you have constructive criticism. I would LOVE IT!

It will hurt my feelings, however, if you just leave a comment saying "You're fat!" Soooo, if THAT'S what you're thinking then just keep that little tidbit to yourself please! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Donate To Cancer?

Notice the title of my post is "Donate To Cancer?" and not "Donate to find a CURE for cancer?"

Its kind of funny. Every time I go to Tom Thumb, they always have a "cause" you can donate to. I like that about them but its usually not a cause I would support.  The grocery stores have a lot of kids working there and sometimes they will say "Would you like to donate a dollar to cancer?"

Um...No.....I don't want to give cancer any money, thank you very much! I think cancer does enough damage without any extra financial support!! :)

I kid, but we all know cancer is serious business. It literally is serious BUSINESS. I typically don't donate money to support "cancer awareness" (Come on! Seriously. The CDC reports that in 2010 the cancer rate was one in two for people having the disease. Are we not really aware yet?? I think we are all aware.) or even "a cure for cancer". I always feel self concious about having to say no publicly. I feel like everyone in the store will gasp and turn and look at me in horror. Then their shock will turn to scorn and they will give me the stink eye as I slink out of the store because they think I'm a greedy republican that hates babies, the homeless, and people with cancer. But, really the reason I don't donate money to them is its really just a donation to drug companies.

I think the drug companies already have plenty of money. A lot of that money goes to research more drugs, which is good. Don't get me wrong. I would love it if a drug company came out with a drug that actually cured ANY disease, forget cancer, just ANY one of the diseases that are on the rise right now. My real problem with donating money to these causes is that they don't fund any "natural cures" and believe me....There are some out there that claim to be an actual CURE!!! We just don't know about them all because there's no money to be made in natural cures! So no one researches it.

Since no one is researching it, the FDA can't approve it. If the FDA doesn't approve it, then it can't be sold to the consumer. Nor does the consumer even know about it, because the makers of herbs and vitamins can't afford to put commercials on tv. Even if they could afford commercials, they couldn't say their herbs cure cancer because the FDA hasn't approved it. And if the FDA doesn't approve it............Oh yeah, we're back where we started.

I know that sounds all "conspiracy theory" but its true. We are all brainwashed by the drug companies. Just watch tv for 30 minutes and count how many drug commercials you see. According to FoodMatters and The Gerson Institute, high dose vitamin c IV therapy is an actual cure for cancer...........

ponder that for just a moment.

Its important. 1 in 2 people get cancer. How many people are in your family.

So ponder another moment.

I posted this information about a week ago. You can read that Here if you're so inclined. It seems that no one is believing me. I posted it on facebook and not one person commented on it. This is big news!! You can post a picture of a dog licking his butthole and you'll have twenty people respond. Cure for Cancer and *cricket, cricket*! Its amazing. I think one of three things is happening; 1) people are so brainwashed by the drug companies, they think a natural cure is just bogus so they don't even want to hear about it. or 2) They think if it were really true, they would have already heard about it by now. or 3) If there really was a cure for cancer the FDA would've approved it already. Yeah, we already reviewed that. Lets not do that again. Whatever the reason, I'm making it my mission to get the truth out about natural disease prevention and cures.

Which brings me back to my original point. I don't donate money to those causes because the groups that the money goes to don't donate to research "natural" cures and preventions. While I think those group's hearts are in the right place, I don't think the "researchers" getting the money are actually interested in the "cure". I think what they are interested in is a "cure that can make their company some money".

If those groups would divvy their money up and give even half of their money to "natural" research, I would be in whole-heartedly.

But, also as an aside, I have to say, that a lot of companies are cashing in on "cancer awareness" There are lots of companies that sell "cancer awareness" merchandise. You can buy all kinds of "pink" things to raise cancer awareness...but, so what? Like I already said, I think we're all aware by now. Not only that, some cosmetics and personal care companies claim their products to be natural, herbal, and organic with some of the proceeds going to fund cancer research. All the while no one is regulating them. They can just slap a label on their products and no one checks to make sure they are what they are claiming. In fact, a lot of them contain chemicals that actually CAUSES cancer, so buyer beware, if you're trying to do a good deed. You can learn more about this at Campaign For Safe Cosmetics

*sigh*  Its just all about the money.

I pray for those with cancer and any other disease for that matter. My heart goes out to them. Truly. I think people hear the word cancer and immediately just grasp at the first treatment they hear, which sadly is Chemo and Radiation. I know there are some who have had those treatments and have lived to tell the tale. But, there are just as many who don't make it. I've also talked to some truly amazing people who were literally at death's door and cured themselves naturally. Even AFTER the doctors told them they would be dead soon. They are still with us today, decades later!

So, because of them and my family, I will continue my campaign to "Raise Awareness For Natural Cures"..... I need a ribbon!! I wonder what color it should be?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Cake

Yesterday, I went to the Pearson family reunion. It was great! I always find family reunions to be interesting. I wish MY family had more reunions. I asked my parents one time why we didn't have them and my dad said "Because nobody in our family can stand each other!!!" He was joking of course. But, still...Family reunions are so much fun. I find all the family history really cool!

Melanie's mom suggested that we all jump in an RV and travel around just crashing family reunions. You know you'd eat really well! And if anyone asks, you just say "I'm with Uncle George's side of the family" Everyone has an Uncle George. Although, in my neck of the woods, maybe an Uncle JC or Cooter, or Bubba, or Joe Dan, or some other 3 named person! :) Either way. I think its the best idea I've ever heard!

Last week I asked Robbie's step-mom if I should bring anything because I knew BBQ was being catered. She said "Some of the ladies bring a dessert. Its up to you." I told Robbie that I didn't know what that means. He looked at me like I'm retarded and said "What do you mean, you don't know what it means? It means 'You're a lady....bring a dessert!'

That's not what it means but I did anyway. I'm glad I did too. There weren't that many desserts, even though there were lots of ladies.
I found this Black Magic Cake on Pinterest and Melanie said she made it and it was easy and delicious. She said it was decadently rich and sweet. So, I made it but decided to make a cream cheese frosting to put on it and it was PERFECT!!!! It went fast too!!! Which is what a lady looks for in a dessert that she brings to a big family function! :)

Here is the recipe:

1 3/4C flour
2C sugar
3/4C cocoa
2t baking soda
1t baking powder
1t salt
2 eggs
1C strong coffee, cooled
1C buttermilk
1/2C veg oil
1t real vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan. (I grease the pan and then mix some flour, sugar, and cocoa to flour the pan. I don't like a "floury" cake.)

In a large bowl (I use the same bowl that made the "pan flour", just make sure to dump it all in the pan) combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

Beat at med speed for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan. It will be thin.

Bake for 30-40min.
If you're using a glass pan, reduce heat to 325 and bake 35-45min.

If you want the link to the cake with the chocolate frosting you can see it Here. Its from a cooking blog called Justapinch.  The picture at the top of this post is from that blog. I didn't think to snap a pic of mine and like I said....It went FAST! I thought about making it again soon just to get the pic but I have soooooo many other things from my Pinterest account that I wanna make and my figure can't handle all that baking at once!! So, you're stuck with this picture. Just imagine how beautiful it is with a cream cheese frosting! :)

 Here is the recipe for the cream cheese frosting:

16 oz cream cheese at room temp
2 sticks butter, softened
3C powdered sugar
3T cream
2t vanilla

In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the sugar and whip to combine. Add the cream and vanilla. Whip about 2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and soft peaks begin to form.

Frost the cooled cake.

Set it down in front of your awed crowd of eaters and stand back. Seriously. Get your hands out of the way quickly before someone jabs a fork into them. Because I'm telling you......It goes FAST!!!! which is what you're really looking for in a cake recipe. :)