Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Foodie Rant

After a nice month or so break from making meals from scratch I am back at it and all the more excited! Tonight, in hopeful anticipation of a break in this drought I made tomato soup and grilled cheese. Sounds simple enough, but I am pretty dang proud of this meal.

1. The Bread 

2 tablespoon scoops of active dry yeast
5 c of whole grain Azure flour (Hudson Cream flour works good too but then I add extra wheat germ.)
1/4 c raw sunflower seeds
1/4 c sesame seeds
1/2 c ground golden flax
2 t salt
1/4 c spectrum vegetable shortening
1 c applesauce
1/3 c local honey
1 c almond milk
1 c water

1. Pour milk and water together and warm up slightly, a little more then body temp.
2. Dissolve year in water.
3. Add honey, applesauce, flax, and half the flour.
4. Mix for 3 minutes. If using a mixer use medium speed.
5. Allow that to sponge for 45 minutes.
6. Add remaining flour, sesame seeds,  sunflower seeds, and salt.
7. Knead together.
8. Add shortening and knead in for about 10 minutes.
9. Let it rise until doubled, pump down, do it again.
10. Divide into your loaf pans and let rise 15 minutes.
11. Preheat oven to 400. Bake 10 minutes and then 375 for 20 minutes

2. The Soup 

6 good sized homegrown tomatoes
1 small garden grown white onion
2 t of 'Better then Bouillon' Vegan 'chicken' broth starter. (I found this at HyVee a while back)
1 c water
3 farmer's market garlic cloves
1 t salt
2 t basil
5 twists of pepper
1/2 t of turbinado sugar

1. Chop up tomatoes (peels and all)
2. Blend with 1/2 c water.
3. Mince garlic and finely chop onion.
4. Saute garlic and onion in olive oil.
5. Add broth starter and 1/2 c water
6. Add tomato puree
7. Heat to boiling
8. Add spices and sugar
9. Let thicken 

This recipe based on:

 3. The Cheese

For the cheese I and still learning so no recipe of my own. Here is what I used. This turned out great! Note: I fried in olive oil instead of margarine.

  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or grated
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard powder
  • a few twists of ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • non-dairy, non-GMO margarine, for spreading
  • 8 slices whole grain bread
1. In a bowl, combine nutritional yeast, flour, salt, pepper, garlic and water. Stir mixture constantly in a skillet over low heat (like making gravy). Once it gets pasty, add the oil (and a touch more water if necessary). Once the oil is incorporated, turn off the heat.
2. Margarine one side of each slice of bread. Take four of the slices and slather the other half with the "cheese". Slap the other four pieces of bread on top of the "cheesy" ones, marg side out.
3. Fry up the sandwiches until golden brown on each side

As you can see, Rory approves!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eating Changes

Lately, I have been getting the hang of doing a week of food prep work on the weekend to make the week go smoother. I've been blocking off a few hours and baking bread, making almond milk, granola, freezing things like raviolis and egg rolls, etc etc. As I was working through this new routine I noticed for the first time the dramatic difference our pantry has taken in the past couple of years. I now have things like; nutritional yeast, ground flax, chia seeds, quinoa and sea salt at an easy grab. Staples of our weekly diets include about 5 lbs of bananas a week, a whole pineapple, local honey, lb of spinach, and black beans. What happened to hambugerless hamburger helper - cheeseburger flavor and gumby's pizza that had laid out the whole night before?! Life has changed. And guess what, back then I used shampoo and body wash with phthalates in them and threw the plastic bottle in the trash without thinking twice. GASP. Who was I?! 

This evening we went to HyVee for some fruit and cupcake supplies and I ventured the inner isles of the store for the first time in what had to have been months. Down the freezer isle I saw mini corn dogs, hot pockets, pizza rolls, and eggos. It took all of me to resist so I left the isle only to be met with the cookie and cracker isle. Spray cheese, why do you taunt me! We left the store with none of this thankfully and I went home to my Azure order to purchase among other things 32oz of blackstrap molasses, 38lbs of oranges, 10lbs of frozen strawberries, and 25lbs of wheat flour including the germ. Ahh, that feels better. 

If I have ever felt 'granola' in my life it is when shopping for food. Eating healthy is hard. Even more so in a society that doesn't understand what eating healthy even is. Hello, fat free this and sugar free that are not the corner stones of a healthy diet. My meal is just as healthy, dare I say healthier, than a lean cuisine, weight watchers snack, or low sodium canned soup. I am a firm believer that our bodies were intended to eat food in it's natural form which at times includes fats. Eat healthy. Be active. Meditate. You'll be totally zen I swear :) 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Better Parenting

It's been a week or so since I said good-bye to the daily perusing of Facebook. After messaging my most commonly interacted with friends, removing the app from my phone, and archiving my photos I signed off keeping it up only for the occasional update or non-time sensitive message. Without the 'book I've been interacting much more a home as I had hoped. I play more with Aurora, pay attention when Matt and I watch a movie, and work on my knitting skills (or lack there of). In the mornings though, before Aurora and Matt are awake, and on nights like these when they are both asleep I take some time to get online. With no Facebook to read I turn to, dare I say it, actual news. I've learned a slew of interesting things like the EPA says the average American home throws away 4 lbs of waste a day, but a university did a study and it is actually 7 lbs. Both these numbers are shocking to me and I plan to track and weigh our waste next week to see where we stand. Look for another post on how that works out in the future. I also learned Kansas is a top wind energy producer, go us, and that Steven Colbert's mother is ill, sadness :( But, the article that cause particular inspiration for this post was on parenting. Josette Crosby, a Huffington Post blogger posted this article: titled Why ALL Parents are Better Than You.

The article really made me laugh. Lately, I've been totally over the parenting related researching. The over analyzing of tiny details, the debate that usually ensues, the energy that goes into it just to come up the answer that I would have all along if I just listened to my instincts on the thing. I'm just going to label my parenting style as 'instinctual parenting' and just be done with it. For some reason, and I am sure many of my mommy friends agree, I define myself in large part by my parenting. I love the choices I made for my family, but that doesn't mean they have to be the choices for you family. Just like how I get so upset when people assume I am stay-at-home, assume that since I work in an office I am a secretary. or that I don't know how to make a cabinet because I am a girl. This doesn't mean I am a homemaker-hater or scowl at administrative staff! If you are either and are happy way to go you! It just isn't accurate to who I am at this very moment and I want people to understand who I am for some reason. Because my identity is important to me. That doesn't mean you have to be my clone to be cool in my eyes. Far from it! Be who you are and share who you are with me. I am sure I will be excited to learn about it. 

So, when reading the article's list I couldn't help but pick out the lines the described me. Usually, I'm not all about the labels, but tonight, let's go on a label fest. Label yourself - if you will - what kind of parents match you on this list? When you look at your list don't you totally think, 'ya, my list is the shit, I am awesome'? I hope so, because you are awesome and sometimes you need a little bit of inner cockiness wrapped up inside all that humble-ness. It's only good for our self-esteem right? 

My parenting list: 
  1. Laid Back Parents
  2. Suburban Parents who have Backyards, Good Schools, and Soccer Coaches From Brazil
  3. Country Parents whose kids Learn Responsibility by Running Large Farm Equipment and Who Know Exactly What To Call The Chicken Hole That Eggs Come From - I am leaving this since we are soon-to-be country bound! 
  4. Parents who vaccinate
  5. Parents who don't vaccinate - oOOo I get to be both since we selectively vaccinate
  6. Parents who allow their kids as much contact with germs as possible in order to build up their immune system and keep their kids healthy
  7. Breastfeeding Parents
  8. Parents who don't know whether or not God can help them be better parents
  9. Liberal Parents - hey, there was no 'moderate parents' label. I guess the blogger assumes it is safe to say all parents are better than moderates lol! 
  10. Free Range Parents - oh how I try, my worrier parent comes out though. 
  11. Natural Parents
  12. Unplugged Parents
  13. Parents who don't allow cell phones at the age you gave your kid a cell phone - [psht...I am totally waiting until after your kid gets a phone so I can be *this* parent. Mwhahah]
  14. Authoritative Parents
  15. Positive Parents
  16. Dr. Sears
  17. "I Hate Ezzo" Parents
  18. Younger Parents
  19. Parents of only children
  20. Parents who pick up crying kids
  21. Parents who co-sleep
  22. Parents who don't spank
  23. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to homeschool
  24. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally
  25. Straight Parents
  26. Married Parents
  27. Parents with a high school diploma
  28. Parents with a college degree
  29. Parents who read parenting books
  30. Crafty Moms
  31. Parents who blog about their kids
  32. Parents who update all their kids' baby books
  33. Uber Moms
  34. Type A Moms
  35. Parents who get down on the floor and play with their kids
  36. Parents who get down on the floor and teach their kids
  37. Parents who teach their kids to put in flooring 
  38. Parents who work outside the home
  39. Parents who are at home outside
  40. Parents who let their kids drink from the garden hose outside

Ones that should be added: 
1. Parents that don't allow HFCS and artificial food coloring
2. Minimalist Parents 
3. Anti-Commercialism Parents 
4. Anti-Circumcision Parents 
5. Extended Rear Facing Parents 
6. Parents who let their kids come out in public and *gasp* act like kids.

My favorites on the list that I wasn't: 

Parents with no fancy book learning
Parents who birthed their kids vaginally with no help in a rain forest on the summer solstice - please someone I know, be this awesome parent so I may live vicariously through you on this one. 

Dearest Friends! Who are you? What do you identify most with in life? What are you proud of? Share it with me so when I see you next I can be like, 'oh hey, heard you were bad ass at that one thing, tell me about it' Trust me, it will be great. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

2012 Update

Well, a whole month has passed! How are we doing on our resolutions?

1. Pay offs. Welp due to a couple medical emergencies in 2011 we had a few thousand in medical bills. It happens, eh. But, yay we will have these paid off this month and will also paid a chunk on the credit card. Whoot Whoot!

2. We have paid our dues for Sierra Club and started our United Way deduction for TARC and CASA. I am glad I specially selected CASA since United Way is only sending specific donations to them right now. WTF United Way. After working with you all for a couple years and then this I am not too impressed with you right now! But, back to the point, we have not yet paid our dues to La Leche for the year or API.

2. Apparently I had two 2s on my original list. The second '2' was regarding contributing time. I haven't gotten to work on this yet. The night I signed up for harvesters was cancelled, bummer. It is really hard to go there anyways as they don't allow Aurora. I need to remember them for donations when I go to the store and need to make some snacks for Ronald McDonald. I haven't found a way to donate crochet/knit things, but I know there are options out there. Any ideas?

3. I have attended the first Sierra Club meeting of the year. I have yet to attend a La Leche though I really need to so I can talk about leadership opportunities. I am definitely meeting my quota of Fiber Fridays which I LOVE LOVE. Tonight it was at our place even. Matt and Rory have been going to at least one playgroup a week and we have had one parents as teachers visit this year. Story times haven't happened yet, but I hope so soon. Last but not least I have become an active member of the wellness center and make it down several times a week for Yoga class and personal fitness.

4. I am being friendly. Tomorrow is another sewing class with my sissy. The first class we made a swiffer duster and I believe this time we are making a casserole cozy. I have also taken Matt out on a date to the movies and the Burger Stand for some Foosball and pool...and truffle fries, can't forget the fries.

5. So, the certification I need to work for requires I log 1500 hours of project management before taking the exam. I feel like this may not happen in a year. I am taking a course in SQL online, but it is just through work. College course next semester? IDK, haven't decided.

6. Matt and I did not end up attending the finance classes because my dad ended up in the hospital the night they started and so we had no one to care for Aurora and honestly bigger things to worry about. We have read through the books at home though and are working out a better cash management/budget system. I have a meeting this month with Learning Quest for Aurora as well.

7. We definitely take waste more into account and Matt has reported a significant decrease in our landfill waste, but we aren't what I would call zero waste. Some of it is having to be a balance for us. Do we have the ability to buy from the bulk section and make everything from scratch, yes. It that feasible with our schedule and level of involvement in other things, no. Don't get me wrong, we make a TON of things from scratch, but it is winter and I am going to eat tomato soup dang it. I am not going to cook it from scratch, and I am not going to eat out of a can. Yes, the can would be recycled where as the carton would not, but it would also leech BPA. No thank you. Health comes first.

8. It hasn't become nice enough weather for us to fulfill a new level of involvement in nature. We do plan to do the warrier dash in KC though so conditioning for that and looking for either some tournaments for co-rec softball or a league to get on with a team.

9. We are maintaining minimalism and have really internalized it. I can tell we have because we don't feel the urge to buy, buy, buy anymore. Even Matt! There just isn't a ton of stuff we need or want which is so freeing. I haven't unplugged though. Still addicted to the electronics. I am just going to have to force myself by downgrading my phone moving to the country. Yay, I am dead serious. I have done some DIY projects, but not the 12 yet. I have made a crayon roll for Aurora's new beaswax crayons and a baby alpaca scarf in the very particular style my mom wanted.

10. We have set a goal to be move out to the farm by July. We will be in my parent's home until the house is built which suits us just fine. That will allow us to save more and be on site for planning and building. We have a floor plan and a good design. We need to get the details ironed out and set a budget so we can set a good time line. Our thoughts are 1-2 years so it is happening sooner than we thought when we set our resolutions, yay!

Overall I am proud of us. We have tackled a lot and I feel we are succeeding quite well. Life is good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Resolution Update

The Bisnett Family has been working hard on resolutions! This blog has become our accountability buddy. Here is how we fare thus far. 

1. We have set up our deduction for United Way to go towards TARC and CASA. 
2. We have paid our membership to Sierra Club. 
3. Matt and Rory have been out and to playgroups now :) 
4. Rory and I have attended Fiber Friday. 
5. I have visited the Wellness Center every Monday thru Thursday. 
6. Studied finances with Matt
7. Went zero waste grocery shopping. 
8. Began reading a fiction book 
9. Began planning our home building. 

Next on the list: 
1. Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service is Monday. I will be heading to Harvesters. Unfortunately, you have to be at least 6 years old so Rory and Matt will be home. 
2. Pay dues to La Leche for the new year. 
3. Donate to harvesters when we grocery shop this weekend. 
4. Grab an extra bag of cuties for Ronald McDonald House
5. Check facebook once in the mornings only. 
6. Sierra Club meeting next week. 
7. La Leche meeting next week. 

1. Working out and eating healthy
2. Zero Wasting 
3. Reading my book. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Going Zero Waste in the Kitchen

So, everyone knows we are tree-hugging-baby-wearing-composting-anti-chemical-animal rights-lactivist-miniminal-hippies right? JK ;) What everyone may not know is that my sissy and her hubby have gone zero waste in their home! They have a blog too: . Since we have done zero waste things already under other names such as our ethical shopping that I have posted about previously, buying local, homemade cleaners, and focusing on recycling and composting, giving up cans, we figured this was naturally the next step. So, inspired by them, we made a resolution to add a zero waste kitchen to our lifestyle.

This weekend was our first trip out doing do. It really does not take that much more effort and we can pretty much get everything we want without concern. Yesterday, we started at the MERC because I wanted to try to replicate the Oregon Chai Latte Concentrate at home. Packing up we took: One Note grocery list on the Ipad, our big open picnic basket to carry jars and bags, 3 pyrex, 1 large glass jar, 1 small glass jar, 1 honey jar, and 4 hemp reusable bulk bags. At the store we bought 4 reusable spice bags and 1 reusable maple syrup container. We were happily surprised that much of the bulk at the MERC was cheaper than in Topeka and HyVee! We managed to get out the of the store with just the plastic bag liner to our cheese square box as landfill waste. Oh and the two little baggies the vanilla bean were in. WTF MERC, those baggies defeat the purpose of bulk! We will recycle cheese square box. We finished off the day wandering Mass St. We got a coffee at Starbuks. I had a glass bottle I bought at the MERC to use, but Matt did not so we had his lid and straw as waste and the cup as recycling that I believe Rob volunteered to take home. Yay for Rob!

We finished our shopping in Topeka the next day. At Hyvee we easily used our pyrex at the deli, meat, and seafood counters, but the bakery refused to let us use our own bag. Grr! She could not explain why she just kept saying she had to put it in a plastic bag because that is how they sell it. I also asked if she could make fresh baked bread to order and just just said all their bread is fresh. Some weeks we just don't want to have to make bread at home, but I guess HyVee will not be providing us an alternative. Other downers about the HyVee trip. Almost all the organic produce was package while the conventional produce was not. Seems a bit backwards. And, I was unable to buy celery and carrots for salads because ALL celery and carrot options were in non-recyclable plastic bags. HyVee wins for their fresh meat, deli, and bulk food section, but fails for the rest. Dillons has unbagged bread and produce in abundance. The Topeka Co-op bags up most of their bulk to sell sadly. I don't understand that concept. Waste from the HyVee trip: Landfill: sticker on tomato, grape bag, one paper sheet from meat section, and eventually the orange bag though it will be a sink scrubby first, Compost: 2 paper sheets from deli section. Recycle: strawberry container, cardboard orange box (we eat a lot of oranges). I hope to use the orange peels to scent the house and then compost and, of course, compost scraps like banana peels at Learning for Life.

Since we were unable to get bread at HyVee we decided to treat ourselves to Panera bread this time. We got a loaf of honey wheat and two bagels to make pizzas with. At the store they tried to put the bread in a plastic bag, each bagel in its own separate bag, give us napkins and plastic knifes, and put all of that in a larger paper bag. I kept having to say, 'ma'am, I brought a bag for that'. Thankful she listened. Waste from the Panera trip: 1 receipt which we will compost at Learning for Life.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 Plans

It's that time. Can't you feel the almost new-ness in the air, begging you to set goals? Ok, maybe I am just in love with goals. So, here are the Bisnett Family Resolutions for 2012.

1. Pay off our evil credit card. It is for 'emergencies' but really it just lures me into 'good deals' that turn into high interest. Bleh you evil credit card! I am glad there is only one of you to be gone!

2. Contribute financially in a well rounded manner.
           This year we have chosen: TARC and CASA through United Way for pay check deductions.
            We also plan to be a due paying members of
                   La Leche League (ok just me here though if Matt could breastfeed...),
                   Sierra Club,
                   and Attachment Parenting International.
            I am also setting aside to make once a year donations to Washburn. I am hoping specifically the        psychology department and the LinC office. Still figuring out how to do that.

2. Contribute time wise. We want to make sure whatever we do we can do it as a family so Aurora can grow up in a caring environment. So, I think for contributing time we will:
             gather food items and donate in the harvesters bin each grocery trip to Dillons,
             make and deliver snacks to Ronald McDonald once a month,
             volunteer in community gardens in the summer,
             hopefully volunteer once a month at harvesters,
             and crochet 6 projects for donation (this one is just me to, Matt will not be crocheting any time soon).

3. Be active members.
            read a book with the API book club
            attend Sierra club once a month
            attend La Leche once a month
            attend lovely Fiber Fridays at least twice a month
            attend 4 Fast Forward events
            attend 4 Parents as Teachers events outside of home visits
            attend 1 playgroup a week
            attend 6 story times
            attend wellness center at least 4 times a week

4. Be a friendly friend. I will:
           teach sewing to my sissy
           take Matt on dates once a month.
           have a girls night
           teach anything I know to whoever asks

5. Continue education. I will:
            attend one college level course or obtain a certification relevant to my field.

6. Learn more about finances:
           attend finance series with Matt

7. We will become zero waste
           we have been prepping for this and last weekend was our last regular grocery trip. We splurged on the junk food we will no longer be having. Along with this keep up with our ethical shopping standards.

8. We will be more involved in nature. We will:
            bike to UUFT once a month in the nice weather
            camp at least 4 times
            go on a hike at least once
            go to the lake at least 4 times
            join a sports team outdoors

9. Maintain a minimalist household
           We just cleaned out yet again. It is getting to be empty, finally! Feels good.
            Unplug for electronics so much: read 4 fiction books, 2 non-fiction books, 12 diy projects

10. Create a timeline for home building
          We want to begin building in 3 to 5 years.