Thursday, May 27, 2010

CSA adventures

I think my blog is a good place to share some information about the CSA we joined this summer. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and allows members to buy shares of a farm's produce. So we're paying to pick up a box of farm fresh produce every week! The produce varies based upon each farm, the weather, etc. We chose Misty Meadows Farm to try because for the most reasonable price they offered a variety of produce that we were mostly familiar with, along with others that we realized would be new and were willing to try. Matt picked up our first box of delicious food tonight... this is what it looked like (minus the kale which I was cooking with at the time):

So this is what we received this week in our half share (a good size for two)...
kale (not pictured, cooked and ate already!)
swiss chard
head lettuce
red onions

I had fun via text conversation identifying the lettuces with Darcie, while also using my on-line resources, Joy of Cooking from Hannah, and Martha's Cooking School book.

If you're interested in learning more about joining a CSA this is a great resource. And the Local Harvest web-site was our starting point for us as we searched for a good fit.

I bought a lettuce knife at Victoria's recommendation to use in cutting my lettuce so that it doesn't brown. I also invested in a salad spinner to store it, and some green bags for my other fresh produce. Those are all additional "investments" but will get a lifetime of use I think!

So this was part of our first dinner to include some of our bounty...

Gretchen sent this recommendation to me for Greens and Beans via Facebook, and I can't tell you how seriously AMAZING it was! I've never eaten "greens" before and didn't know if I'd find them too appetizing... I was wrong... these were so good. *a side note: some of the schools I've worked in serve greens in the cafeteria for student lunches, did you know of diversity in cafeteria foods? pretty fun I think!* I may even buy more kale at the Farmer's Market just to have it again soon :) If I do buy more Darcie also recommended Lemon Kale Chips which sound interesting. I found a Kale-Potato Gratin recipe in the Joy of Cooking which also sounded good. Who knew that there could be so many new foods to try with thought given to one new-to-us ingredient!?

So our dinner tonight which came to me on a whim included: baked potatoes (with cottage cheese for me), asparagus, greens and beans, and cheddar garlic biscuits (not really healthy but a good addition). A really filling and tasty vegetarian meal that Matt also enjoyed a lot! Now I think I'll go enjoy some of our strawberries over cereal for my night time snack.

*one more thing... I found out about a free canning/preserving class being offered in connection with our local Farmer's Market - I'm so excited to go on June 12, we'll see whether or not I can get off to a slow start with canning this summer or if it will have to wait :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

five years with Matt

Well in case you're confused, no Matt and I haven't been married for five year... about two and a half. So, why five years? Matt reminded me recently that we met each other for the first time five years ago this summer when we started working together at a church in a Kansas City suburb as Middle School interns. Thinking about that now all seems so funny, and if you know us each now we're about the farthest cry from middle school intern personalities, but the Lord had us there according to His good plans (maybe just so we could meet and then get married?!). :) So I thought I'd join Grace and compile a list of lots of fun memories over five years, which will also include reasons I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Matt! (it's quite a hodge-podge of reasons)

~he wrote letters to me even before we were ever dating, the girls in the dorm took it as a serious "sign"... I reassured them that he was just a friend!
~he told me of his desires to be celibate once, the same night I was more sure than ever that I really liked him and wished someday I could maybe just marry someone "like him" - since he had made such a declaration
~the first time we really spent together was at Atlanta Bread and then Borders... we still love Border's dates together... I get magazines, Matt gets magazines too or photography, architecture, or traveling books to browse
~he tolerated lots of interruptions during our evening phone calls while we were at different colleges, there were girls who just knocked during that hour because they knew who I would be talking to! dorm life was crazy sometimes
~he was very slow during our dating days and didn't ever overwhelm me, I think he knew, and I think the Lord showed him, that's what I needed most
~he's always been willing to share his ideas and thoughts with me, I don't always have a lot to contribute but I'm so glad to really KNOW him and listen to the way his mind works
~he really enjoys watching soccer, we spent a lot of time during the last World Cup summer following the games
~he's intense in the greatest way that I really need... he won't let you get by with an "easy answer" and in that way is such a solid man - that was my one word description for him five summers ago when we were eating our intern lunches one day - the more I've grown to know him the more I'd agree with that initial impression
~he's willing to learn and grow, and never shies away from challenging himself... this means that I love hearing all about his newest thoughts and latest favorites (authors, magazines, ideas, implications, etc.) - it also means I usually fall asleep with a lamp on as Matt reads himself to sleep long after I doze off :)
~he's willing to learn about me and grow together with me... I'm a quirky person marriage has taught me, and Matt has been very patient with every new discovery (EX: I drop most everything and have numerous spills throughout the day which he tolerates very well and with great grace!)
~he's passionate and creative, we compliment each other well I think... my mind is a pragmatic one, his thinks about the bigger picture in many ways (art, the nature of beauty, poetry, etc.)
~he likes to learn the names of flowers, trees, and birds and I love to share
~he's stopped to pick wildflowers for me by the side of the road on more than one occasion, like today on our way home from church in fact!
~he's encourages my femininity and enjoys it when I cook, plant flowers, make bouquets, wear jewelry, and paint my toenails... he often says he's a "fish in the desert" when I ask his opinion on these things
~he gladly serves me in many little ways that are a HUGE blessing, he's become our laundry man as he hauls our full laundry baskets up to the laundry room on campus and back again... he fills the ice cube trays every morning (because I spill a lot when I try to)... he often does our dishes after dinner
~he is a leader for our family who I will always gladly follow! I'm reminding him often that soon he'll have a little cheerleader who is glad to follow as well when baby Moriah is born, I know she'll love her dad and he'll continue to lead us all very well

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

if you're in the mood to read

This is my list of hopeful reads... during the upcoming weeks, summer evenings, and maternity leave later this fall. It's an ambitious list, but I'm really excited about each book for a different reason, so the motivation in certainly there - I just need to make the time to read them all! It's also an assorted list, some baby or parenting books, some food books, and some books that will be spiritually challenging or encouraging. I really LOVE libraries, so some are from the public library, some I've bought and have been stashing away, and others are from my husband's library (which I often forget all about). Let me know if you've read any that I should move to the top of the stack, for enjoyment first!

baby or parenting books...
The Christian Childbirth Handbook, Vanderlaan
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Hogg
(a funny title I realize, but so far it's been a good book!)
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League
Teach Them Diligently, Priolo (only the study guide available on amazon, sorry!)

food books...
All About Canning and Preserving, Joy of Cooking series
(an ambitious aspiration for some of our CSA produce we'll be getting in)
Sara Snow's Fresh Living, Snow (recommended by Victoria and her reading list!)
Real Food, Planck (another Victoria recommendation)

spiritually challenging or encouraging...
*re-reading a few really good ones
*Disciplines of a Godly Woman, Hughes
*Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, Piper (an all time favorite!)
*The Great Divorce, Lewis
Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, Wilson (recommended by my Kindred Spirit, Hannah)
Counterfeit Gods, Keller
Living Faith, Roseveare
A Sweet and Bitter Providence, Piper
Be Still My Soul, Elliot
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Burroughs
Holiness Day by Day, Bridges (recommended by Kara at her blog)
The Mortification of Sin, Owen
Corrie Ten Boom biography

No you have no excuse not to find a good book and start reading! I think I could've been very happy as a librarian too... maybe someday :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

health(ier) eating

Well there's always a lot to learn, and lately we've decided to become more informed about the foods we're eating. We really didn't realize all that we were embarking upon... and probably still don't as it's all very new to us and we're amateurs for sure! We've both been relatively healthy eaters over-all, I liked to cook full meals mostly homemade, we didn't eat boxed meals, we enjoy fruits and vegetables, we didn't eat too many sweets (well Matt didn't, I indulged more so), etc. If it was only that simple! We began to realize that the foods we were buying for economic benefits (they were cheap) were really packed full of additives, preservatives, etc. and that there were certainly better options.
Our baby steps towards healthier foods have included...
~ joining a CSA as explained via this web-site, our first produce should begin to arrive within the next couple of weeks! We've joined with this particular farm, Misty Meadows and really look forward to the new venture
~ evaluating our produce based upon the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" guides... knowing that some foods are more "worthwhile" to buy organically while others aren't as urgent - this also helps with our budget since last week I went over-board with our first attempt and spent more than we could frequently afford to buying organic produce while still not being able to eat the quantity we'd been used to
~ looking thoroughly at labels on breads to choose the healthiest option for us, still not doing sprouted grains, etc. (I don't know enough yet!), but a baby step to find something that avoids high fructose corn syrup, etc. while still being able to buy it which saves time
~ enjoying organic Greek yogurt as a parfait which is great for protein in pregnancy and better for us anyway :)

This week I was thankful to find a better balance for us as I went back to ALDI for basics that we're not doing organically (some of the produce, milk, eggs, cheese, plain oatmeal that we seem to devour) and then went to Kroger and found the organics we wanted while also making some generally healthier choices than ALDI allowed me in breads, spaghetti sauce, etc.

We hope to explore more as we invest more time and thought into learning about things like...
~ farm fresh eggs
~ local meats (maybe chicken?!)
~ making more breads in our bread maker, if time allows while working and soon adding a baby to our world!
~ soaking beans (should be easy I think, and better for you?!)
~ canning (so I can keep this wonderful produce we're getting all summer stored for the winter when we can't eat it all quickly enough)

Last Friday while on our Barnes & Noble date night I discovered a helpful magazine with great sounding recipes along these lines, and articles which spelled things out clearly while staying simple enough for me... I plan to look into it more too:
Clean Eating

We'll trust the Lord in this area of life as in all others, as He knows what we need, what He provides for us, and how we desire to serve Him as good stewards. So thankful to trust in Him with all things!