Uncategorized

Whirlwind

That’s what my life feels like these days — a giant, swirling, gusty whirlwind.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it sure can be messy at times.

I had a phenomenal, albeit brief trip to Boston.  Getting away was just what the doctor ordered.  I enjoy the solitude of traveling alone, and I had a huge, gorgeous hotel room at the Hotel Commonwealth all to myself.  It was glorious.  It’s been 15 years since I graduated from college, and I don’t think I’d been back to Boston since.  It felt surreal to hop the T and train it to Faneuil Hall for a little blast from the past.  I walked out of the train station at Government Center and stood there for a moment, looking in all directions, drinking it all in before we meandered down the steps and into the historic marketplace.  Alli has a photo on her camera of us with Ben Franklin.  If I bug her enough, she may email it to me so I can post it.

Oooh!  Look at that.  It pays to spend half a day writing a post (between a myriad of other tasks, of course).  I just got tagged on Facebook in this very grainy, but oh-so-cute photo.  Thanks, Alli!

boston

More on our trip with iRobot and a fun Ingenuity Challenge that’s in the works in a few days.

Oh, but I just have to add that the woman behind We Take the Cake came to speak to us and tell her story, and she brought each of us one of her famous Key Lime Bundt Cakes to take home.

keylime

Be still my beating heart. The fact that it made it home on the plane, untouched, is a remarkable testament to my willpower and self-discipline.  Right now it is safely residing in the freezer until an event warrants such an exquisite delicacy.

But let me back up.  On the way to the airport, I suddenly realized that I’d forgotten my reading material.  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I started packing 20 minutes before I left the house.  I guess I should consider myself lucky that I remembered my makeup.

So there I was, driving down the highway, debating if I should go back home or not, when I decided I’d rather spend $15 on a book I already have on loan from the library than go back home and risk missing my flight.  So I called Borders and asked if they had the book I wanted and had them hold it at the front desk so all I had to do was run in and pay for it and get back on the road.

Funny thing, though, I ended up walking out with the book AND a latte and a blueberry scone.  I just HAD to know if Border’s lattes and scones were better than the ones I usually get at Barnes & Noble, inquiring minds and all.  (Borders wins, by the way.)

All that to say, I ended up on the plane with a new book I’ve been dying to get my hands on — Real Food: What To Eat and Why by Nina Planck.  I’ve heard a lot about it from Kelly on her site and from several commenters on my recent posts, so I ordered it from the library, and it’s been taunting me from the corner of my desk for days.  It did NOT disappoint.  I was immediately hooked as she started in with her personal story.  Then she gets into the facts about the industrialization of foods and the health benefits of minimally processed “real foods,” and I’m thinking, This is one intelligent young lady. (I say young because for some reason, it shocked me to discover that she is almost exactly my age.)  What I particularly like about the book is how she includes, among the history and facts, her own practical tips and tricks for eating real food, enjoying it, finding it, and affording it.

Okay, so pretend I have a really brilliant segue here.  Because when I sat down to write this post, probably five hours ago, now, it seemed as though one topic was going to flow right into another.  And now?  Notsomuch.

So before I left for Boston, I set up an appointment for this morning to meet a woman who (with her husband) runs a local farm and sells pastured and grass-fed meat and eggs from their garage.  She told me that she would show me around the first time, and from then on, I’d be on my own.  I can literally go at any time of the day or night and help myself.  There is a can to leave cash in the fridge.  I KNOW. Blows me away.

On the way to the farm, I realized (as we passed several farms, including the one behind our housing development where my husband and kids go to get their hair cut) that my kids have grown up around smallish family-owned farms for the past four years, and we often buy fruit and veggies at the farm market that’s 5 minutes from our house.  They probably don’t have a clue that the meat and eggs and milk that we buy at the supermarket don’t come straight from the free-roaming animals they see on the farms all around us.  So in elementary terms, I tried to explain to them why I was driving out to a farm to buy food directly from the source.  They were intrigued.  In fact, I’m constantly amazed by how interested they are in this topic.

When we arrived at the farm, I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do.  No one was around, but there was a lovely farmhouse with a pretty yard, a hen house and a pen of chickens, and several sheds and garage type buildings.  We got out and walked over to the chicken coop.  I looked around stealthily, saw no one, and snapped a picture of my kids talking to the chickens.

farm1

I was hoping someone would notice us and come out and say hello, but no one appeared, so I wandered up to what looked like an open garage under the house and peeked in.  Nothing looked like a fridge or freezer storing meat and eggs for sale.  So I came back out.  Finally, I decided to be bold.  I walked right up to the front door of the large, tidy farmhouse and knocked.

Thankfully, a friendly lady opened the door like she was expecting me and came outside.  She spent AN HOUR with me and my kids, showing me around, showing us the egg-laying hens, the baby chicks that just hatched (whose fate is to be roasting chickens in about 8 weeks), the goats, and finally the garage that houses the products for sale.  There were several freezers with whole chickens and a variety of cuts of grass-fed beef raised on their own land, a fridge with fresh eggs and goat cheese, and then a cloth-covered table with homemade soaps and local honey.  (We suffer from seasonal allergies in our family, so that really excites me!!)

Here are the baby chicks that just hatched.  She let C go inside their little house and take a picture.

farm5

I asked when they’ll be ready for slaughter, and she said in about 8 weeks.  Then she said that if they fed them hormones like many commercial farms, they would be ready in 3 or 4 weeks.  I suppose it’s understandable why many farmers resort to such measures.

She walked us down to where the goats are kept and let the girls feed them crackers.

farm2

She told us about the cows and where to find them.  After we left, we drove down the road, and I snapped these photos from my car.  (The cows are on the hill, there behind the trees.)

farm4

farm3

Later today, I went back out and stopped at another local farm and bought a case of fresh organic yogurt.  (Yes, a case.  It’s their specialty.  That’s the only way they sell it — 6 quarts of yogurt are inhabiting my fridge tonight.  Well, okay, make that 4 and 7/8.  We wasted no time diving into it tonight.  I have driven past this farm at least twice a week for the last four years and never knew I could actually go in and buy stuff there, but today I finally decided to stop and inquire  Lo and behold, they make THE most delicious yogurt I’ve ever tasted.  Not only that, but it’s free from the fillers, thickeners and flavorings that are added to most supermarket yogurts.  Throw in a spoon of my homemade strawberry preserves, and you have DESSERT.

Then, before I returned home, I stopped at the whole foods store and bought my first ever gallon of raw milk.  Yes, I’m still shaving my legs.  (For now, anyway.)  The more I read, the more I’m convinced that pasteurization and homogenization are unnecessary at best and harmful at worst.  Even with organic milk, which I’ve been buying lately (and if you’re squeamish about raw milk or can’t get it in your state, then organic is definitely a fine alternative) so many healthy vitamins and minerals are destroyed by pasteurization.  And then there is the homogenization process.  Did you know that:

After pasteurization, dead white blood cells and bacteria form a sludge that sinks to the bottom of the milk?  Homogenization spreads this unsightly mass throughout the milk and makes it disappear.**

EW.  That’s all I have to say about that.

**From Real Food: What to Eat and Why

So that is the extent of our day.  I know some (all?) of you may be thinking, “Why on earth is she going to such great lengths to buy this granola-crunchy milk and bread?  We’re doing just fine on the stuff at the grocery store.” Once, again, allow me to refer to “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.”

Cows on grass contain more omega-3 fats, more vitamin A, and more beta-carotene and other antioxidants. Butter and cream from grass-fed cows are a rare source of the unique and beneficial fat CLA — CLA prevents heart disease, fights cancer, and builds lean muscle. It aids weight loss in several ways: by decreasing the amount of fat stored after eating, increasing the rate at which fat cells are broken down, and reducing the number of fat cells.

I confess, I grabbed that quote off of Kelly’s page.  I saw it this afternoon and thought that it went along perfectly with this post.

I haven’t tasted the raw milk yet, but my husband and kids drank some at dinner.  I’m lactose intolerant, so milk is not a staple of my diet.  And yet I love it and am planning to try it sometime without my Lactaid tablet and see if my stomach can handle raw milk.  I’ve read that some who are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk because it still has lactase, the enzyme that aids in the digestion of lactose, which is eliminated with pasteurization.  (That guy I just linked to?  His story is amazing, and entertaining as well.  He has a book, too, that I just added to my book list.)  So anyway, I’ll keep you posted.

Also?  I’d love to skim the cream off the top and make homemade butter.  In all my spare time, of course, ahem.

I guess it’s time to wrap up this post.  It’s been in the works since lunchtime, and it’s time for Family Movie Night here at Casa de Musings.  I rather doubt I’ll be posting tomorrow.  There’s a lot to catch up on around here, not the least of which is smooching my three little ones.  TTFN.


Join the Conversation

23 thoughts on “Whirlwind

  1. I love hearing about your food journey! It makes me wish we lived closer to more farms. Some of my friends buy their produce and such from local CSA’s, but the prices (for our budget) are just cost prohibitive at this point in our lives. Are your farm finds reasonably priced do you think?

  2. Melanie, no, it really IS quite expensive. We will have to cut out some extras to do this. And I’m going to try to add some meatless dishes to my repertoire. I have a post in the works on the cost of this whole endeavor. 🙂

  3. WOW…you packed a whole lot of info in this one post and I soaked it all in. I’m glad you enjoyed your quick trip to Boston and I can’t wait to hear more about it. I’m enjoying reading all about your experience with switching to more organic foods. Honestly I don’t think it is anything I will be doing soon, but it is interesting to read about. By the way, do you notice a price difference with buying at the local farms instead of the grocery store??

  4. Mel, yeah, it’s pricey. I think that the best thing to do is to find a farmer that sells 1/4 a cow. But I’m not QUITE ready for that just yet. 😉

  5. great post! Ahhh Boston! (miss it) been almost 20 years since i visited (ok, i drove through once in that time)but that used to be our escape from the woods getaway growing up. I so had to laugh about the shaving legs comment! When hubby and i met i didn’t shave them, the kids in my k and first grade class used to pet them calling them “daddy legs”. Yes, i do shave them now, giggle. Sounds like a lovely area you live in! Wish our farmers did things like that more….must go research now!

  6. LOVE the local flavor of your post! I love local honey, too, but haven’t ventured into raw milk yet. We have some veggies growing in the back yard (although I think I’m feeding a bunny, too) but love local markets to buy veggies. Everything closer has such great taste!

  7. I loved this post!

    The segue comment made me laugh.

    It sounds like I would love that book, too, so its a great suggestion. I would love to find a great water purification system because I question our tap water & bottled water is an extra expense. Does she have any comments in her book that refer to water consumption or its possible contaminants? Have you ever used a filtration system that you might recommend?

    It always feels better to buy locally. We have a potato farm nearby and I was disgusted to find that the big time grocery store chain ships theirs to FL from Texas. The petroleum impact alone is a little appalling.

    Anyhow, loved the stories and enjoy your day.

  8. Leane, neither of the books have mentioned water. At least, not yet. I haven’t finished either. We have a filtration system in our fridge, and we always drink our water from the dispenser on the door. I do hate to drink from plastic bottles, but they are so convenient that we still do sometimes.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. I love getting farm-fresh eggs. We have a family friend that sells them straight from his farm and they are fabulous. We also just got our first ever chicken straight from a free-range farm and they are fabulous! I can’t wait to cook another one.

  10. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip to Boston!

    We have been making small changes in the way that we eat. Less pre-packaged foods, more cooking from scratch. But haven’t taken these steps yet. I think the main thing that holds us back is the expense, and Hubby is still in grad school. Maybe when we graduates and gets a “real” job!

    That yogurt sounds divine! That might be the place that we start. I’ll have to do some research into what’s available in our area. we don’t even have a CSA, although I have thought about researching what it would take to get one started. I know there are lots of local farms!

    Thanks for sharing, Jo-Lynne!

  11. I’m proud of you! Not only is a good step for your family, but I love the idea of buying local and supporting your local community. I realize it is cost prohibitive, but in the long run, I think the elimination of processed food and use of more locally grown fruits/vegs should offset it. It does take a lot of work to seek out these resources and utilize them. I’ve just started “In Defense of Food” and love it—I actually made focaccia bread last night in my bread machine–with only five ingredients that I recognize and have on hand. But the pre-packaged garlic toast surely would have been easier! I’m really trying to focus on those ingredient lists. Thanks for sharing your journey, you are an encouragement!

  12. I’m so jealous of your trip to the farm! Even if local/grass fed, etc. food wasn’t so much better for us, it would be worth it to buy from the farmer just because you get to meet the person who is growing your food and help them keep doing that.

    Glad you like Real Food – don’t you want to give a copy to everyone you know? 🙂

  13. great post! i’m right in the same neck of the woods as you, and am also a bit obsessed with healthy, whole, natural foods (and more broadly, natural living). i am betting i know which farm you got your yogurt from 😉 and am wondering about the other farm…hope you don’t mind if i send you an email to get more info! we were part of a fantastic organic CSA program last year at a small, family-owned farm, but that was in NJ before we moved…now i’m trying to suss out all of the best local sources here in PA!

Want More?