Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The hidden costs of the farm bill.

Ravings: If you aren't familiar with the farm bill and how it effects you, please do some research. It's a incredibly large piece of legislation that covers a variety of food and agriculture related issues and is only re-examined every 5 years. This infographic relates to the commodity spending portion of the bill.


Cravings: This is basically an update on the house buying because it seems my free time is consumed by this. We've had the inspection and everything looks great. We are making our formal loan application this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

Because I have been so consumed with this process, I have been completely unorganized about documenting my recipes and taking pictures of what we eat. I promise I will get back on track once this all settles down.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Still holding my breath

Ravings: A child in a school uniform with a backpack that’s half as big as they are never fails to put a smile on my face!

House update: It looks like we are buying a house. After some tense negotiations over the weekend, we came to an agreement on price and signed all the paperwork. Now it’s just a matter of getting home inspections and all the mortgage paperwork. Because Jason recently started his job, we have to wait until he has 4 weeks of paystubs, so we can’t formally apply until mid-June. We are pre-approved so getting financed shouldn’t be an issue, but I’m still holding my breath. The universe can be a bitch and we’ve already established that she doesn’t like me. I haven’t even started packing because I don’t want to jinx it. Which is funny because we have renters planning on moving in Aug 1st, so we kinda have to leave no matter what!

Maybe I’m just avoiding packing up an entire house!

Cravings: My sister and I tackled 10 quarts of strawberries this weekend, resulting in 24 pints of strawberry freezer jam. Ironically, both of our freezers are completely packed with beef that we just purchased, so she had to do some re-arranging to fit it all in. After the freezer jam jars were sealed and refrigerated, we took a trip to the store to buy some containers to put all the steaks, roasts, ground beef in and hopefully make enough room in her upright freezer. I will have to get a picture of that! I'm not ever sure if she's taken on that project yet. We decided it didn't make much sense for me to transport half of the jars to my freezer just to have to pack them up again in a few weeks (hopefully!). My awesome sister took some pictures of the process without getting either of us in the photo. This is one of the reasons I love her so much!

This is while we were still working on the last batch.

Strawberry Freezer Jam (ingredients shown are per batch. We did 3 batches at a time)

3/4 cup hulled and mashed strawberries
2 Tbsp Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Hull and then mash the strawberries using a potato masher. We did this in a shallow dish so it would be easier.

Hulled strawberries

turned into mashed strawberries
In a large bowl, mix together the pectin and the sugar.

Can you tell this isn't the first batch?
Stir in the strawberries until well mixed and then spoon into jars. Let them sit for about 1/2 hour, then wipe them down and put the lids on. Store in the freezer.

We actually had a lot of fun. And the kids "helped" for like a minute, and mostly they just tasted!

I also have a dinner recipe to share. This one was super easy and both Jason and CJ loved it. I thought that I had some fresh basil in the fridge, but I didn't so I just made up a pesto with fresh herbs that I did have. Jason killed my basil plant, so I now have to buy it and it doesn't last long.

Notice how the parsley leaf mimics the leaf on the plate? I totally didn't plan that!

Pesto Quinoa

1 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1 stalk broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup corn
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup walnuts
2 Tbsp fresh oregano
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Spread tomatoes on a sheet pan and roast in 350-375 degree oven while chopping up the other veggies, about 15 minutes. Add the other veggies and roast for another 15-20 minutes. While that's roasting, bring quinoa and water to boil in a pot over med-high heat. Once boiling, cover and reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. To make the pesto, put the walnuts, oregano, parsley, salt, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor and blend together. You may need to add more oil to make it a smooth consistency. Once everything is done, mix it all together in a bowl and add the toasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Holding my breath.

Ravings: Turns out I am not a stress writer. No excuses, but my explanation for being entirely absent the last 2 weeks is that I apparently do not focus under stress. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of showing our house and looking at houses. We decided to put our house on the market as a rent to own and see what happened. I was shocked at the number of inquiries we received. Given that we were pretty certain we could rent our house out, we started looking at houses. After 2 weekends of marathon open houses and house tours, we walked into a beautiful home full of windows and light and utter possibility! Jason knew immediately that he wanted the house, but it takes me a lot more anxiety and thought to make decisions like this.
So after countless phone calls with mortgage brokers and many sleepless nights for me, we are making an offer. Jason is already planning where to put furniture, but I am still holding my breath. I won’t start making plans until the papers are signed. I just don’t trust the universe. I have been disappointed way too many times. I do love Jason positive outlook and probably would have backed out of this whole thing if it weren’t for him. It’s just been such a balancing act of finding the right renter at the right time to buy a house and get moved. It’s just been completely emotionally overwhelming for me. But at this moment in time it appears that the stars are aligning. I’ll keep you posted.

Cravings: While I haven’t actually taken hand to keyboard (my play on pen to paper), I have been keeping track of my recipes. We've been eating a lot of salad because Jason doesn't get home from his new job until 7:30, and after working 12 hours he's exhausted and not really wanting a big heavy meal. My sister and I will be making strawberry freezer jam, freezing broccoli, and doing something with peaches this weekend, so I’ll have some preservation recipes for you next week. This will be my first time making freezer jam!! Here are a few recipes from the past couple weeks.

 Pork Chops with Mango Salsa and Glazed Carrots

1 mango, diced
1 jalepeno, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

2 pork chops
salt and pepper

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar

For the Salsa: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the pork chops: Salt and pepper both sides of chop. Heat skillet on med-high with a small amount of olive oil. Cook chop until cooked through, about 6 minutes each side depending on thickness.

For the carrots, melt butter in saucepan, add carrots and brown sugar, cook on medium until desired tenderness. 

Chopped Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Chopped Salad is so easy. It's basically just a mix of chopped up veggies. Whatever you like or whatever you have on hand will work. I served it with a pre-made roasted red pepper soup from Trader Joes and a couple rolls (not homemade, in case you were wondering). For our salad, I used mixed greens, red and yellow peppers, shredded carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado. The dressing was a mix of Dry Ranch Mix, 1/4 cup of greek yogurt, and 1/4 cup of buttermilk. 

Pizza "Rice"

2 cups kamut (or an other rice like grain)
4 cups water or stock

2 red peppers, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano

Slices of pepperoni
Sliced mozzarella cheese (Use the good stuff. It's worth it!)
Shredded parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, bring the kamut and water to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until done. Kamut takes a long time and has a slightly chewy texture if you decide to use that. 

Mix veggies and herbs in a baking dish with some oil and broil about 15 minutes.

Once your grain and veggies are cooked, mix them together in the baking dish. Put on a layer of pepperoni, a layer of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven that you turn down to 350 just until cheese is melted. Jason loved this by the way!