Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To Coupon or Not to Coupon...

Okay, you may be familiar with the Grocery Game already. I was not until our Mops group had a speaker come tell us how amazingly cheap we could buy things by using coupons combined with sales. I was both inspired and skeptical. Since I buy most of our vegetables, dairy, meat and eggs from our local farmers market, I wondered if this thing would work for us. The speaker shared exciting bargains on a lot of items we don't use.

It does irritate me to run out of toilet paper, paper towels and kleenex, so I thought - it's worth a shot. The grocery game gives you a list of all the things you can get free or cheap for a few bucks a month and it's $1 to try. So I bought a paper (for the coupons) the last few weeks and signed up for the trial online. I did really well - saving about $14 at Harris Teeter last week on some staples. We'll see if we can get these type of deals on organic and sugar-free foods. I'll keep you posted. Sidenote: the beef gelatin is on the way (I have a tracking number) so we will soon have a marshmallow report.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Moving toward the Marshmallows

WARNING: Please read this post on the use of agave nectar before pursuing this recipe. I'm planning to attempt honey-sweetened marshmallows in the near future - so in the mean time - try organic cane juice.

Okay, I did participate in Black Friday. What an awesome, hilarious, adventurous day. I was up around 3:30 a.m. and found some excellent sweaters at J.C. Penny shortly after 4:00 a.m. I hit K-mart, Walgreens, Walmart and of course - Denny's for breakfast. I really didn't buy that much and spent very little (compared to previous years). This year I was about 90% done with Christmas shopping before Friday and now I'm around 95%. So what does this have to do with marshmallows? I bought a stand mixer for $15! It was about a $50 to $70 mixer so it is not a "top of the line." But I've never had a stand mixer before and I didn't want to invest an amount close to $200 on a try-it-out kitchen appliance. The instructions for marshmallows call for mixing for 15 minutes straight and that is a long time. I get tired from making whipping cream. That just reminds me - how cool will it be next time my mother-in-law visits and I don't have to stand there and whip the cream. Cool. So I just ordered
beef gelatin powder from Lucky Vitamin (good prices). Agave marshmallows here we come. Watch for news!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Searching for Marshmallows

WARNING: Please read this post on the use of agave nectar before pursuing this recipe. I'm planning to attempt honey-sweetened marshmallows in the near future - so in the mean time - try organic cane juice.

The picture here (from www.cookingforengineers.com) shows an amazing plateful of homemade marshmallows that my heart's desire is to replicate.

It saddens me to say that after days of research (off and on of course) I think I am running out of options. As you know we have gone refined-sugar free and so my most versatile of sweeteners is the yummy agave nectar. Well, we also eat more or less an Old Testament diet which takes out all pork products. So I have been mousing and clicking away for a recipe that uses or can adapt agave nectar with non-pork gelatin for homemade marshmallows.

The research has been hopeful but ultimately discouraging. Most of the comments of using vegetarian gelatin in exchange for the regular Knox gelatin is that is down not "froth up" correctly. One person described their result as sweet, syrupy jello. Not what I am looking for. So my last hope is for finding gelatin that is from beef or chicken (without the pork) and giving that a shot with the agave nectar. Since the preparation requires mixing the ingredients for 15 minutes straight, (and I do not have a stand mixer) - I want to do all I can to make sure the end result is a success. I may be discouraged, but not defeated. Stay tuned for the ongoing marshmallow saga.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bye Bye Sugar!

It's our family birthday! It has now been over a year since Pete and I gave up all refined sugars (white, powdered, corn syrup, anything that makes up most of our food choices).

Why? We get this question a lot. Some people are very good at "moderation." For
years we tried all kinds of strategies to lower our sugar intake. We tried making sugar a weekend thing, having one serving a day, three a week, etc. They all failed because we are basically gluttonous people. :-)

So last October/November Pete was up late one night feeling shell-shocked from the pan of brownies that we had just consumed and made a discovery. He ended up on a website about drug and alcohol addiction. It was scary how similar the feelings we had about sugar were to drugs and alcohol. This was not a AA site. It was more intense. It suggested we just stop and never go back.


Pete was pretty excited about his discovery and tried to share it with me the next day. I was less than enthused. After a couple of days (with Pete praying) I finally looked at the website (actually, Pete took me to the website and showed it to me). I thought - "Crap, we're really going to have to do this."

So we made a commitment and it was hard. What made it especially hard was trying to find substitutes for the things we used to enjoy that used natural sugars (honey, maple syrup, etc.). I made some "not so delicious almond butter and carob bars with honey for coaches training. We choked these down while sitting at table with bowls of M&M's right in front of us.

Fast forward a year...
It's great. I've learned to make brownies, cakes, blondies, pancakes, frosting and most recently cookies out of natural sugars that taste incredibly good. Next blog, I'll share a recipe for a natural dessert.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Have I really changed that much?

Seriously - I used to drink a Dr. pepper and eat a nutty bar almost everyday! I know that when people come to my house they are often perplexed by the myriad of weird food that sits in our refrigerator and pantry.

Then I read a book. The Amazing Connection Between Food and Love is an awesome book. Gary Smalley continually refers to this one book as his prime information source - What the Bible Says about Healthy Living. Worth a read!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Introducing Myself

To spend time with me means having a book recommended to you.
I once heard a statement that you are the same person you will be in 10 years except for the people you meet and the books you read. I love to read - especially books that challenge me. I rarely read fiction - but I'm always reading something.
When I'm not reading (or suggesting something for you to read), I love to cook. Not everyday cooking - I enjoy doing things in spurts. When I found about OMAC (Once a Month Cooking), I thought it was really cool. With Pete on kid duty (sometimes chopping veggies, too) I cook meals for an entire month all in a couple of days. It involves planning (which I enjoy), strategy (which I enjoy) and a sense of completion (one of my favorite things).

In conjunction with cooking, I am generally interested in wacky healthy stuff. This is somewhat Pete's fault, but I read a few books (of course) and am trying to move in small steps to a more natural lifestyle. What does that mean exactly? For the most part, we follow an Old Testament diet (not kosher, but baseline OT). We rarely eat pork. Our primary resource for this path has been the Rex Russell book (What the Bible Says about Healthy Living). I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Raising Arizona (or NC)

Parenting is a huge deal. I have read lots of books several were really good and seemed to have a good sensible approach. Making Children Mind without Losing Yours is good. I also liked The Keys to your Child's Heart. The Wonder Weeks are intriguing and BabyWise has some good points.

However the best parenting books I have found are Shepherding a Child's Heart and Don't Make Me Count to Three. These books reject manipulation for the purpose of immediate behavior. Both books emphasize the need for discipline to mirror the Gospel. I love both. Shepherding gives you the theological approach and Don't Make Me gives the practical, day-to-day application.