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Friday, July 26, 2013

This Week's Reads 7/26

Still making my way through Salt Sugar Fat.  Still horrifying.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Really REALLY enjoyed this one.  Historical fiction, set in Boston in the 1800's, concerning the raging illegal opium trade.  Full of suspense and romance.  Loved it.  Will probably read some more of Elizabeth Camden.

An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James
Fascinating.  Unusual.  Also historical fiction, set in a coastal town in England the 1920's.  This book was all kinds of mysterious and suspenseful, as it dealt with real-life crime AND a ghostly presence.  Also some romance.  There was one scene I felt the need to skip, as I like all romance in my books to be squeaky clean.  Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I have a hold on her last book at the library, and I'm looking forward to the publication of her new book in April!

Monday, July 22, 2013

DIY Food Edition: Baby Food

In an attempt to un-process our food as much as possible, I'm going the DIY route with a lot of things I'd otherwise just purchase.  Baby food was one of those things with my first baby.  I started making my own with my second baby.  And now that I'm onto my third baby, it's no big deal to whip up small or big batches of homemade baby food!
So here's the basics.  Puree fruit.  Serve.  Or cook vegetables.  Puree.  Serve.  :)  But just for kicks, here's a photo step by step for ya of a veggie batch.

My tools:
A big pot
An immersion blender (here's mine, for example)
Silicon ice cube trays (these little gems can also be found at Walmart if you're lucky) or old baby food jars or little baby food storage containers

The goods:
2 large sweet potatoes
5-6 medium carrots

Step 1: Peel the sweet potatoes (I don't peel the carrots, just scrub them really well with a veggie brush), and chop both sweet potatoes and carrots into small chunks (mine were about a half inch by half inch by inch rectangles of sweet potato).  Smaller they are, faster they cook.

Step 2:  Plop 'em in a big pot.
Step 3: Cover with enough water for them to cook in.
Step 4: Bring to a boil, turn down to medium low and let 'em cook until tender.  Check with a fork, if it pierces easily, they are done.
Step 5: Puree with immersion blender.  Or you could just as easily throw it all into a regular blender and puree.  You may need to add water, but be cautious, you don't want it to be TOO watery and thin.  How thoroughly you puree depends, of course, on the age of your baby.  We're still in the silky smooth puree stage.
Step 6: Put into storage, whether that be old baby food jars, special little baby food storage containers, or in my case, silicon ice cube trays.  I adore these, they are easy to use and then you have perfect little 4 ounce cubes of baby food.  After you fill those trays, tap it on the counter to settle the food.
Don't fill any of these containers all the way, as the baby food will expand as it freezes.  (And no, the glass baby jars will not break if you don't fill them up all the way, I used those for my second baby's food, and nary a one broke.)

Step 7: Freeze.
No, freezing will not cause dramatic color change.  These are prunes.  Forgot to take a photo of the sweet potato/carrot cubes before I popped 'em out.
Step 8: If you are using the silicon ice cube trays, pop those babies out and put them in a freezer ziploc or for  longer storage when I make a big batch, I seal 'em up with my Food Saver.
Step 9: Thaw (I pop mine in the microwave, 1 minute for one cube, a minute thirty for two cubes) and serve to a darling baby who will undoubtedly make a big mess with it.
She makes prunes look good.
This particular batch made about 26 4 ounce cubes of baby food.  (Stage 1 jars are typically 2.5 ounces, Stage 2 jars are typically 3.5 to 4 ounces, Stage 3 jars are typically 6 ounces.)
I spent less than $2 (I don't know exactly how much, unfortunately, but I guarantee it was less than 2 bucks since I got the carrots on sale!), so that's less than 8 cents a serving.  Gerber Stage 2 from walmart.com is $0.54 per 3.5 ounce serving.  Savings?  Check.  Knowing precisely what is in your baby food?  Check.
Easy Peasy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

This Week's Reads 7/19

Okay, so truthfully, I don't have time to write good book reviews.  I just don't.  (Which is why the "book reviews" I've posted in the past....aren't really book reviews...just what I have to write for the Blogging for Books program!)  But I love to read, and I read a lot.  Especially since I'm nursing, I have to sit down multiple times a day, so I read while baby eats!
So my new idea is a weekly (I hope) post on what I'm reading this week.  No book reviews.  Just a little blurb for a few reads of the week.
So here goes.

I've been reading Ree Drummond's blog for a few years, and meaning to catch her Food Network show, but I never have.  Until my husband went out of town this week and I discovered it can be streamed through Amazon Prime.  Yeah, I've watched 9 episodes in the last two days.  Anyway, this inspired me to check out her two cookbooks from the library and pre-order her newest one.  Everything she makes looks amazing.  I cannot, however, cook like she does everyday.  For one, my husband is not a cattle rancher, he's a lawyer.  Still a hard worker, but not the of the variety that ends in burning off thousands of calories and creating rock hard muscles (sorry if you're reading this, hon, though I highly doubt it).  For two, lots of her recipes include things I'm trying to cut out of our diet as completely as possible!  That being said, nothing wrong with an occasional decadent indulgence!!!!

Glimmer of Hope by Sarah M. Eden
A Regency era romance.  Honestly, I didn't love this one.  Which I found shocking because I've adored all Sarah Eden's books.  This one just felt too rushed to me.  Too many issues, too much territory to cover, and not enough pages.  Highly recommend all her other books though!

Wow.  Where to start.  I'm still in the middle of this one, so I'm not offering final conclusions, but I will say I think this is more than worth reading.  I picked it up because I have been so interested in improving my family's health and eating habits.  The research done to figure out how to get the consumer begging for more is...almost sickening.  What is in processed food IS sickening.  There's also a lot of history of the industry.  It has been fascinating to read about how these convenience foods came about.  Above all, however, I like that this book is written by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who details all his sources in an extensive Notes section and Bibliography.  I'm the kind of person who is very picky about sources.  There is just so much "information" out there, it can be difficult to know what to believe and what to take with a grain of salt.  If primary sources are not provided, I'm going to take it with a grain of salt.  This, however, I can take seriously.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: Gone South

Gone South, by Meg Moseley
Book description:
Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident. Now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream— the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.
When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.
Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.

I actually really liked this book (which was especially pleasant after the last book I reviewed with the Blogging for Books program).  The characters were interesting and likeable, and I really enjoyed all the moral dilemmas and misunderstandings they faced.  It was a book about fighting prejudices, dealing with unfulfilled expectations, and coming to terms with unpleasant truths. It was a delightful very real story.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I did receive this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.
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