February 28, 2011

Cute little chick

I don't want to get too serious here, but I had a conversation last night that got me thinking.

My grandparents live on a farm about an hour from me. Growing up, we would go down to visit and help out. I remember driving the Farmall tractor with Mommom and sitting on the piles of hay bales while Poppop and Dad  loaded them from the baler onto the wagon. We'd bring lemonade out to Poppop when it was super hot. I loved exploring the barn and searching out the newborn kittens when the mommy cats hid them away safely. We'd ride the bale elevator to the upper level to store the hay and straw for the winter. Poppop and I would go outside after dinner and let the sheep into the barn for the night. That's an amazing sight - all the sheep running like crazy for the open doors of the barn!

Mommom would take me into the chicken coop and show me how to gather the eggs. I'd go out to the steer pens and feed the babies out of my hand. One year, a friend and I named the two steers Peaches and Cream. Of course, being a farm, these steers were being raised for one reason - food. That was the first time I really remember truly knowing what beef was: Oh! I'm eating Peaches and Cream. Mom!!!!! How could you let them do that to them? 

(Disclaimer: The next paragraph might be a little gory.)

We went down on several occasions to harvest the chickens. Poppop got them in as baby chicks that he'd keep in the incubator and then he raised them for food. I was too young to be much help, but I vividly remember the process. Poppop would use an ax to swiftly cut off the heads and then the chickens would be left free to roam the yard. Headless. The chickens weren't in pain. They weren't scared before they died. They lived happy lives, pecking away the barnyard like chickens were born to do. But the truth was, they were being raised for slaughter. After they died, Mommom and Mom would hang them up to drain out the blood and then dip them in scalding water and pick out all the feathers. It was a full day's worth of work, but rewarding, too. Fresh, humanely raised, free range chicken! 

I think that was when I decided chicken is gross. Since then I've gone back and forth between eating and not eating chicken. Now I'm at the stage where I don't eat it. I disagree with the inhumane treatment of chickens in factory farms. I don't want those pesticides and antibiotics and whatever else in me. 

The conversation last night was with Mommom and Mom. Dad made chicken cacciatore for dinner and I asked whether they got the chicken from the Amish farm stand. They had, thankfully! Mommom remarked that no matter what brand she buys in the grocery store, there's always blood around the bones. She was upset because that means that they didn't properly drain the chicken before packaging it up. For a woman used to eating her own farm-raised chickens, this was the ultimate insult. I suggested that she try buying free range, organic chickens and see if it made a different. I'm anxious to see if it does!

Since you made it through this super long post, I thought I'd share a funny picture of the Bup and Dad loading bags with sheep manure to bring home for our gardens. Aren't they cute? :-)

February 23, 2011

Hummus and Sandwiches

It is entirely possible that nothing is better than homemade bread.

Except maybe when you toast it and add tomato sauce, lettuce & avocado.

And pair it with Up In Smoke Hummus from Gena at Choosing Raw! This stuff is addictive.

Hummus is mostly chickpeas and tahini, so it's full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Check out this source for more details!

I liked it best with the celery but the Bup liked it with carrots and Trader Joe's baked blue chips.

We had a little leftover Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup. I think I stretched my stomach last night eating this soup. I was stuffed but it was sooooooooo good! Tonight the Bup decided it was good as a dip, too, and starting dipping veggies and chips into it. I could've made it thinner but really, there's something about eating dip by the spoonful and not feeling guilty cause you know it's healthy. :-)

This loaf of bread looks innocent enough, but it's actually so huge that we had to cut it in half just to fit it into a bag. Even then, I had to use a grocery bag because the gallon size baggie was too small. The recipe was for Crusty Wheat Bread from Food and Wine magazine. It took 24 hours to make and it was worth every minute.

Does anyone else like avocado on their sandwiches? I think it's way better than cheese!

February 22, 2011

I was born for the woods

We took another weekend trip to the cabin.

I just can't get enough of that place. It's in my blood. For awhile, growing up, I dreaded going there because I wanted to spend time with my friends. Now I understand why Mom and Dad would have gone every weekend if they could have.

There's something so peaceful about being in the woods. When you look out the windows, all you see are trees.  And I don't mean the windows on that one side of the house that doesn't face the street. Every window has trees.

It's so refreshing to spend the morning taking a walk in the woods. Even if it is more like alternating between sliding on ice and knee deep snow stomping.

My favorite part of hiking is the crazy stuff, like climbing a really steep cliff-like mountain and crossing creeks on fallen trees. Mom went around...she's not so big on creek crossings.

Being there even makes me quit taking pictures of food. The gorgeous views of nature are too distracting! We did have some yummy treats including:
  • leftover cake balls from Valentine's Day (they might be a week old but they still taste good!)
  • Sloppy Josephines (I've been looking for a good vegetarian sloppy joe recipe. This is it. Thanks Mama Pea!)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts
  • Mom's whole wheat blueberry pancakes (a cabin staple)
  • Samoa Blondies (I used less butter than the recipe called for and still had to use 6 paper towels to blot out the excess. Yikes! Next time I'm trusting my instincts and using about 3 T. That should be plenty. There will be a next time, though, because the coconut chocolate flavor was super tasty!)
  • Homemade pizzas! One with BBQ sauce mixed with leftover sloppy josephines, onions & mushrooms. The other with roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, spring onions, & brussel sprouts. 
  • Pumpkin Muffin Buckwheat Bake from Ashley. I love her recipes using yummy grains. 
  • Gourmet raviolis from Vermont

Poor Dad thinks I'm crazy, trying all these new recipes! He's always a little skeptical when Mom and I get in the kitchen together. :-)

Of course, having spent an afternoon on a wine tasting tour helped make the weekend even better!  We went to Eagle Rock Winery, Winterland Winery, Laddsburg Winery, and Birdsong Winery - all Endless Mountain wineries. Two weekends of wine tours in a row! For the record, this is unusual for us. Unusual but fun!

There's a case in the basement waiting for girl time. :-) 

February 17, 2011

Cannons + Wine = Love

On Sunday we took a day trip to Gettysburg. It was super windy, so we didn't spend too much time wandering around on the battlefields, but we saw some great sights.

My favorite part was the cannons. They impress me because they're so powerful. Imagine being at war and manning the cannon!

We took the Auto Tour and our first stop was the observation tower at the sight where they ended the first day of battle.

After we climbed to the top we quickly checked out the view and went right back down. I thought we were going to blow away!

There were statues and monuments everywhere, including in town.

Sachs Bridge was built for the troops to cross the river. I love covered bridges, so of course we stopped and walked across.

It's a lattice bridge and it was in excellent condition for being so old!

He loves the structural work.

We both remembered going to Devil's Den as kids, so we had to stop and climb on the rocks. Their sheer size is still impressive! It was muddy so we didn't go into the crevices and explore, but we poked our heads in!

I was so cold!

After the battlefield exploration, we walked into town and checked out some wine shops.

We came across Abe Lincoln! Bup had to stop and talk with him for a little. :-)

The wine selections were excellent everywhere we went. Our first stop was at Reid's Orchard & Winery Shop and we toured the old building. Next up was the Hauser Estate Winery Shop where we bought a bottle of the Devil's Den Red. It was delicious warmed with spices in it! Last, we went to the Adams County Winery Shop. We found a wine we both liked! The Furhanna is a dry German style wine that we thought would go with a white fish. I can't wait until we can grill and eat on the patio again! We'll save it for that.

Dinner was at J's at the Village. We were seated in a cute alcove room where it was just the two of us. There was even a mini heater in there, which I loved. I'm always freezing in restaurants!

I love bread baskets, especially when they come with a fun topper like this olive tapenade. But why do so many restaurants only ever give 1 wheat roll per basket?

My favorite part of the meal was the Roasted Red Pepper & Crab soup. Mmmmmm!

I tried my first peach martini. It looks like water but it definitely tasted like peaches!

The Bup had the Lobster Risotto. The scallops were cooked to perfection! He said the lobster was a little dry but that the rice was tasty!

Sorry for the bad lighting on my dish. I had the Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi. The sauce was way too creamy for me, which I should have known from the description in the menu, but the flavor of the gnocchi was excellent. We agreed that we liked the restaurant but would pick somewhere else the next time we go to Gettsyburg. There are so many places to try!

The best part was spending the day with my love. Happy Valentine's Day!

February 15, 2011

Delicious, Diverse & Always with Salad

We had monster salads for dinner last night. This one was mine. Didn't the Bup arrange my avocado so pretty? It's picture perfect!

The salads had spinach, mixed baby greens, romaine & red leaf lettuces to start. Then we added carrots, cucumber, green bell pepper, sesame seeds, kiwi, feta and avocado. So good, so healthy and so filling!

During dinner, I asked if he really like my dinners. He said yes so I asked why. His response: "Because they're delicious, diverse and always with salad!" And this is why I love him. He loves salad! Well, because of that and many other reasons.


February 14, 2011

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

We always have muffins at our house. The Bup likes to eat one for breakfast every morning and I aim to please. It's a good excuse to bake! I make a dozen at a time and keep 4 out. Then I freeze the rest so they stay fresh for later in the week. Since this is his breakfast, I try to use natural sweeteners instead of lots of sugar. I want to make him healthy muffins, as crammed full of nutrition as possible.

  • chia seeds & walnuts for omega-3's
  • buckwheat flour for protein and iron
  • whole wheat flour for all the nutrients in whole grains
  • molasses for iron and other minerals
  • banana for vitamins B6 & C, potassium and fiber
  • pumpkin for alpha- and beta-carotene plus lots of nutrients
  • raw honey for its many phytonutrients

These muffins turned out moist and only slightly sweet with a hint of buckwheat that reminds me of buckwheat pancakes. I think I'd skip the sugar and add more molasses next time. It compliments the buckwheat well.

Pumpkin Banana Muffins
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 12

1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 T chia seeds
1 small banana, mashed
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c raw honey
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/3 c almond milk
1 T lemon juice
2 T canola oil
2 T molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 12 muffin tin with muffin liners.

Mix together flours, baking soda, salt, spices and chia seeds.

In a separate bowl, mash banana and mix with remainder of ingredients (except walnuts). Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the wet. Stir until combined. Add walnuts and stir in.

Spoon into lined muffin tin (cups will be very full). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

February 11, 2011

Super Bowl Treats A Week Late


Our dessert for our Super Bowl party for 2 was Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows from Joy the Baker. I was happy there were only 2 of us because these were delicious! I had an extra sheet of phyllo dough in the freezer so when I came across this recipe I knew it had met it's destiny.  Since I waited so long to post these, may I suggest having them as a Valentine's treat instead of party fare? They're multi-purpose pillows!

Mom helped me stuff the pillows. It was a messy process. I wish I had put more peanut butter on each square but I can't imagine the mess if I had! (Sorry for the shadows in the picture.)

Aren't they so cute? At this stage they reminded me of ravioli. Which makes me think about stuffing savory things into these pockets...mmmmm!

Eat me! Eat me!

Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas! A great snack for football games!

Oh the beer. This one was tasty but 1 bottle was plenty for one sitting. It's pretty heavy and full of spices!

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