Posted in Adventures with Food, Food for Thought, Our Foodilosophy

Our Accidental, On-Purpose, Record-Setting Dining Out Weekend

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I like to think I can do it all. And most of the time, I can.

Go me. Kickin’ it with the humility today.

Fortunately, though, I do know when something is just not achievable. (Not really, okay. Everything is achievable –  except for, you know, Hulk Mommy.)

Last weekend was like a black cloud of Oh-My-Gosh-We’ll-Never-Get-This-Done. So, I knew something had to give. And I really had no choice but for that thing to be food.

I spent Friday working on the elementary school race preparation and then we went out with friends for dinner and Bingo, in which The horseshoe-up-his-backside Bread Guy and his buddy split the largest take of the night to the tune of $250. (They weren’t really supposed to be playing because, you know, underage gambling and all. But since they didn’t actually pay for it and the folks at the fire hall are super cool, they let it slide.)

Then Saturday we had to run loads of errands to get ready for Sunday and Monday, clean the kitchen that hadn’t been really cleaned in days, finish the laundry, practice baseball, and pack for skiing. We did not eat out but only because I was insistent that we’d eat at home.

Sunday was a fundraiser for The Bread Guy’s travel baseball team. A Cornhole Tournament. Yes… cornhole.

Cornhole. When did this become so popular anyway? It seems to be eerily similar to horseshoes. You know the game that was hugely popular when I was a kid in the ’80s (you know, way back in the 20th century) where people threw giant horseshoes at a stake in the ground. Now the game has progressed to the 21st century where people throw a beanbag at a hole in a sloped board. Yep. A beanbag. Because that’s so much more advanced than a horseshoe. Boggles the mind.

And don’t even get me started on the name.

Anyway, they were selling all sorts of things to raise money: crappy chips, prepackaged cookies, soda, and who-knows-what-kind of hot dogs and hamburgers. (I do realize that I could have inserted myself in the planning here and lobbied for fruit cups or something but I can’t volunteer for everything. Because, you know, Hulk Mommy.) And my kids ate it all. In volume. Mr. Selective doesn’t like hot dogs or hamburgers, so he ate nothing but processed crap.

We left from there to go skiing. When we got there it was late, the first restaurant we went to was packed, so we ended up at Pizzeria Uno’s. $85 later …

We got up the next morning and had the breakfast that I had packed (there was only a fridge and a microwave in our room): cereal, granola, frozen fruit, and homemade yogurt.

We had lunch at the lodge – overpriced, cafeteria-style crap food. We drove home in the snow and stopped at Chick-Fil-A for dinner. (Yes. Yes, we did.)

I think we may have set some sort of personal record.

We ate out more times in those 4 days that we usually do in a month. (5 – in case you weren’t counting) At places that we rarely, if ever, go to.

Big Britches definitely set some sort of record for most chicken tenders consumed over the course of a 4-day period. (4 orders)

Somehow the parentheses helps it to feel less painful. And less disgusting.

I do my best to bring and make food as much as possible, but this time I just couldn’t feasibly accomplish it. (Well, I could have, except for, you know, Hulk Mommy.)

Unfortunately, bad food is how the rest of the world operates, and sometimes it’s the choice between the processed food or the not-doing. And the reality is that the kids had so much fun that what they ate was {mostly} insignificant. Unless you consider the face break-outs and the general look of unhealthy that came over them for the next few days.

Does my seeming complacency indicate that I am okay with this state of things? Absolutely, most certainly not. We do the best we can to fight the battle. And I think we come out on the winning side most of the time.

It’s just that sometimes, you have to forgo the battle in favor of the fun.

Otherwise, you know, Hulk Boys.

Posted in Food for Thought, Our Foodilosophy

Real Food Without the Crazy

The real food life can be so overwhelming much fun.

Planning.

Prepping.

Cooking.

Cleaning.

Oh, the cleaning. (Cue the never-ending pile of dishes.)

And when you’re first starting … holy shmoly!  What the heck to feed people when they are hungry without opening a box, especially when it’s not meal time?  How do I ferment?  Oh, boy, that sourdough starter sure does seem intimidating!  How do we afford to eat like this without breaking the budget?  And on.  And on.  And on.

All the while trying to convince reluctant family members that giving up their precious boxed snacks really is in their best interest.

It’s enough to send a give-it-everything, perfectionist girl over the edge.

Where I went.

Many times.  And it got p-r-e-t-t-y ugly, let me tell you.

It was maddening.  I became an ogre (this is when we added the term “Hulk mommy” to the regularly used vocabulary in our house).  I actually promised threatened to throw in the towel and just go back to the old way of doing things.

Fortunately for all of us, The Man stepped in.

“Back up the truck, sister!”

“Anything you do is better than doing nothing.”

Thank goodness for the voice of reason. How I love that guy!

I decided to step back and return to a more sensible reality.  I knew that I needed to find a process in which we all could live, harmoniously, and without starving in the process.  And without pushing me further into the loony bin.

So, I thought to myself, “The journeys in life are simply an accumulation of simple steps.”

Okay, so I didn’t really think that then, but I did think that as I was writing this post. It makes me seem so eloquent and profound, doesn’t it? Go, me.

And so I decided to take a step back and set my expectations a lot lower.

Reward is so worth the inconvenience.  Progress in little bits.

 

Hopefully, my crazy will save you from yours – at least in the food department.  You’re on your own for the rest of it. Especially all those dishes.

 

I don’t believe in absolutes in anything.  Life is full of gray; its when we attempt to achieve absolute in anything that we invite the component of failure.

 

 

Posted in Adventures with Food, Our Foodilosophy

Movies, Popcorn, and Perspective

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

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We laughed. Hard. All of us. And we all loved it (especially The Man, who has a long-time, one-sided love affair with Jennifer Garner).

Our first real movie experience as a family. We’d tried before with Cars 2, mind you, but Big Britches didn’t make it to the second half. The Man had to take him out of the theater and sit in the lobby while we finished. The scary/sad potential was more than he could handle. (Yes, this is how we roll in our house.)

We don’t usually waste our dimes, nickels, or dollars on movie theater concessions. We’re that “bring your own” family. But I was busting my hump to get the house in order (which actually means that I had to crack the whip at my darling yet uncooperative children to clean up their weeks-long-in-the-making mess) before we left for the movie that I didn’t have time to pop our usual corn.

No sooner did we sit down, and the man asked about it. Friends, he is not a popcorn eater. Something about it always getting stuck in his teeth. Apparently, this time the desire was deep. We were into the third preview and he got up and marched right out of the theater, clearly  on a mission. Several suspense-filled (for the kids anyway) minutes later, he returned with one medium-sized bag of salty, hold-the-extra-butter goodness (to the tune of $7!).

movie popcorn

This is what I know about Regal Cinemas popcorn. It’s full of GMOs, artificial flavors, artificial colors and loads of wasted, useless calories. Supposedly, they do use coconut oil; hopefully this is somewhat redeeming. On the whole, it is really quite terrible for you.

I also know that we shared one bag, and the kids passed it back and forth without trying to hog it or complain. That a little bit of garbage isn’t going to harm them. And that movies and popcorn are like Tom and Jerry, ketchup and burgers, Danny and Sandy. Together forever. Like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.

And that it made for a spectacular, enjoyable, lovely, very good afternoon.

Posted in Food for Thought, Our Foodilosophy

Real Food. Modern Realities.

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Do you ever feel like you’re living with the Cleavers?

Me, neither.

(If you answered “yes,” then feel free to skip the rest of this post ’cause you’re livin’ the dream!  If you have no knowledge of the Cleavers, then you need to study up, friend.)

And we certainly don’t live in a world that is anything like it was when that show was popular.  Can you imagine June Cleaver with an iPad in her kitchen?  Hahahaha! Ha?

But wait … But stop and think about the food that she fed to Ward, Wally and the Beaver (and Eddie Hascal, of course).  I’m betting that it was a closer approximation to real food than anything served in most households today.  And I would also imagine that because it was a part of their culture, it was much easier to get fresh milk and local meats, fruits and vegetables than it is for most of us.

Of course, I do realize that this was, in fact, a television show.  It does, however, depict with some degree of accuracy, the general reality of life during that era, albeit with an overly dramatized glossiness.

Although we are not very far removed from the Cleaver decade, our reality has “advanced” so much more rapidly than similar passages of time throughout the course of history.  They had black-and white television and AM radio;  we have iPads, iPods, television in myriad forms, DVRs, Blu-Ray and on and on and on.  And while they had milk delivery and local farmers, we have GMO-laden milk, GoGurt, Skittles, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Funions, and McDonalds.

Frankly, I think I’d rather have to deal with the Beaver’s trouble-making than have to deal with the constant complaining that I get as a result of the overwhelming barrage of junk food that my kids come into contact with each day.

No matter how much we would like to insulate our children from all of that nastiness, they are so inundated with technology and well-targeted advertising that it’s nearly impossible to avoid.  Plus, if you are coming to the real food table as we are, with children who have already been directly exposed to junk food, it is difficult to divorce them from it.

And so, while I would sometimes like to live in a Cleaver-esque reality where I (as June) tell them in the most gosh, darn, aw-shucks way possible that they should really avoid those M&Ms and then they say “Gee, okay, ma” and happily run off to play outside, I do realize that this is but a dream.

I set out on this journey to get my kids eating fewer things out of packages and more things that come from my kitchen.  But I also recognize the realities of the world in which we live – a world that includes lots of things that I would prefer that they never experience, but that experiencing these things is a consequence of their reality. I don’t want them to ever feel ostracized or deprived because I don’t allow them things that other children are allowed, but at the same time, I want to educate them so that they are capable of making intelligent choices when I kick ’em out into the cold, cruel world and they are forced to navigate these waters on their own.

So, we make compromises.  We have Dunkin’ Donuts.  We indulge at the county fair.  We go out for ice cream.  I don’t freak out if someone gives them a handful of Skittles.  We also stay away from fast food.  We try to eat out in places that serve locally sourced food or, at the very least, places that make an effort to be real.

And I have learned to be okay with that.  We do the best that we can, keeping in mind the reality of our reality.

Even if it’s nothing like the Cleavers!

Posted in Our Foodilosophy

A Peek Inside Our Pantry

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So, I didn’t really neaten or tidy this up before I snapped this picture.  But on any given day, this is what our pantry actually looks like.  It is rare to find all containers full or anything actually perfectly lined up.  Since we’re all about keepin’ it real here, I decided to give it to you as it is.  Honestly, if our entire house looked as organized as this does, there would be a higher level of bliss around here (particularly on the weekends).

Our refrigerator doesn’t look nearly as neat, so I’ll spare you that shot.  And our chest freezer is one giant pit of disorganized despair, so that’s not worth showing you either.  I can give you a rough idea of what we keep for staples.  This is not a comprehensive list and I do buy different things for our meals each week.  So, don’t get your knickers in a bunch when you don’t see fruits and vegetables; I didn’t list them.  So there.

I find that if I keep these things as full as I can, making real food is a much easier thing to accomplish.

Staples

  • Wheat flour: sprouted, whole pastry, unbleached organic unenriched unbromated all-purpose
  • Spelt flour: sprouted, white
  • Grain-free flours: almond and coconut
  • Arrowroot flour (powder)
  • Tapioca starch
  • Sugars: coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, unrefined syrup, maple syrup, honey (raw and unfiltered)
  • Yeast
  • Vanilla
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder (aluminum free and non-GMO)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Real Salt
  • Celtic Grey Sea Salt
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Rolled oats
  • Pearled barley
  • Rice, white and brown
  • Brown rice couscous
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Einkorn pasta
  • Rice pasta
  • Organic almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Peanut and almond butter
  • Canned tuna
  • Organic Tamari
  • Canned tomatoes (diced, whole, fire roasted, paste)
  • Assorted canned beans
  • Raisins
  • Enjoy life chocolate chips
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips (milk, semi-sweet, and dark)

 Dairy

  • Whole, grass fed, lightly pasteurized, unhomogenized milk (Trickling Springs Creamery)
  • Cultured buttermilk
  • Organic and/or pastured eggs
  • Homemade greek yogurt
  • Kerrygold butter
  • Organic butter
  • Organic cream cheese
  • Kerrygold cheddar
  • Organic Colby Cheese
  • Organic Mozzarella

 Condiments (most are store-bought)

  • Ketchup: Wellshire Farms and Annie’s
  • Yellow mustard
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s brand)
  • Homemade Barbeque Sauce
  • Kalamata olives

 Oils and Vinegars

  • Raspberry Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Malt Vinegar
  • Sherry and Marsala (from the liquor store, not the vinegar aisle)
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Organic Expeller-Pressed Avocado Oil
  • Organic Expeller-Pressed Sesame Oil
  • Organic Expeller Pressed Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • Organic Expeller Pressed Refined Coconut Oil
  • Organic Palm Shortening
  • Organic, grass-fed Ghee

 Meats

  • Organic whole chicken
  • Organic chicken pieces
  • Grass fed beef
  • Organic pork (sometimes)
  • Organic bacon
  • Wild caught cod
  • Applegate farms ham (sometimes), hot dogs and sausages
  • Bone broth (not a meat but this is the only place that seemed logical)

 Other

  • Fair trade, organic coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated)
  • A variety of teas
  • An assortment of herbs and spices
  • Frozen fruits and veggies
  • Clif Bars
  • Crackers
  • Tortilla chips

Once you stock your pantry, you only have to replace things as you finish them.  I find that I spend most of my weekly grocery shopping on meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, with a smattering of pantry replenishing here and there.  As long as I keep a healthy supply of most of these items in my kitchen, I have lots of options for planning and making meals.