Sprouted Oatmeal

I’ve been devouring this incredible sprouted oatmeal lately I thought I’d share. It tastes like warm cookies to me and is oh so nourishing and delicious. We only eat sprouted grains in our household and I mill sprouted whole wheat berries for flour for use in my homemade pizza crust and other baked goods. I don’t typically spend time soaking grains such as oatmeal, so I “cheat” by purchasing it sprouted from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.

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We only drink raw milk, but I ran out of milk the day before our biweekly deliver and settled for a local, non-homogenized whole milk. Because I cook the milk, I am basically pasteurizing it anyways. Important thing is you use whole milk from pastured cows–the best kind! The type of maple syrup is important; make sure it’s real, pure, organic maple syrup. I purchase mine from Mama Jean’s.

Sprouted Oatmeal

1/2 c Sprouted Oats
1 c Raw Milk
1-3 tsp Real Maple Syrup

Combine all three ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium-high heat for approximately five minutes. Throw it in a bowl, allow to cool and enjoy (with pastured eggs and bacon if you’d like as I do)! It’s that simple but so delicious!

Blessings,

Michelle

Three things I learned from FarmNWife’s blog

Unfortunately, I missed class last week when the FarmNWife blogger Judi Graff came to give us tips on writing blogs and offered critiques for each student’s blog.  Asher ended up with strep throat and I had to stay home with him. I’ll be writing an entry about this episode in my next blog.  I’ve been studying FarmNWife’s blog and came up with the top three things I learned from her blog and how I can apply them to my own.

Writing short blog posts.  If you’ve read any of my other [meatier] posts, you would know I tend to be long-winded when I write.  I realize if I would write shorter posts I could write more often.  In her post “11 Ways to Speed Blog,” Judi prescribes how a person short on time can still make time to post blogs through “speed blogging”—something homemakers/bloggers desperately need to know how to do!  I honestly don’t know how women with five or more kids (including a newborn) who homeschool and prepare everything have time to blog!  In addition to busy housewives, business owners—particularly small businesses or those just starting out—can benefit from speed blogging since their mission should be promoting their business through blogs, which requires a lot of time that the small business may not have.

Out of the list of suggestions she offered, I see myself doing list posts, product reviews, “on the farm roundups”, and pictures.  All of these are appealing and seem fairly easy to me.  The key thing I have to remember is to not get so wrapped up around covering every angle.  I also need to explore the idea of truly journaling my daily life occasionally, which is something I shy away from because I feel people really don’t want to hear about my daily happenings.  One suggestion I’ve done somewhat with posts is “write what you know”.  This is easy for me, but I often feel I don’t include enough sources in my information.  Something I will work on in the future!

Blog post checklists.  Judy provided a “Blog Post Checklist” through an image (think “shorter blog post”!) detailing all the things you should do before publishing a post.  There are so many that I’m not doing now and should be!

Blog Post Checklist

FarmNWife’s Blog Post Checklist

I follow many of these suggestions, but the ones I will include better in my posts are categorizing, calling to action, adding more links and keywords, and sharing each post better.  I’m still a little unwilling to promote my blog at this juncture because I feel I need to come up with more content beforehand, but I realize some people are satisfied with a single article.

Top mistakes beginners make.  My favorite and most informative teaching by Judy was “Top Mistakes Beginning Bloggers Make”.  There are so many I had not thought of before!  I was totally clueless about permalinks prior to reading this and will certainly go back and fix those on my blog.  Here’s her list of top beginner posting mistakes:

–        Not setting permalinks
–        Using click here for a link
–        Not key wording images
–        Large blocks of text
–        Making it hard to comment or share
–        Not linking internally
–        Unable to contact

I think I fail at all of these except a couple.  I don’t feel I have an “interactive” blog with enough links.  I’ve learned a lot about blogs just through reading and subscribing to many, but I realize through this post that I’m not doing enough to promote and bolster my blog.  I love seeing links anytime I read anything, so this is one of the first things I’ll be changing in my blogs.  I think I’ll also remove the comment restriction I have on my blog.  I don’t like dealing with spam, but Judy makes the valid point that it’s easy to get rid of.  I also to get the keywording thing down, stat!

All-in-all I found her blog informative and useful for farmers, business owners and housewives alike!

Blessings,

Michelle

Cloth Diapering: Our Reality

We made the decision to use cloth diapers with our son from jump a few months before he was born and after I researched and convinced my husband they were the most economical and practical diapering route we could take. Period. Although I had done the research and came to my conclusions, my husband was a complete skeptic at first, believing we would be using the old school “nappies” complete with safety pins and stains. After having used them the past 19+ months, I think he would even be open to even those now, though.

Our newly folded "stash"

Our newly folded “stash”

At first, we tried a newborn size diaper, but they leaked terribly. I felt like such a failure but never had the urge to give up on them. We tried some normal size diapers (8-35 pounds or birth-potty training size), which made us realize our 9 ½ pound son was simply too big for the newborn diapers. We now have about a dozen newborn diapers that I’m praying our next son will be able to wear for a spell. I’m actually going to attempt to some degree Elimination Communication (EC) or going “diaper-free” with the next babe. This will depend on how much time and energy I have to devote to it, but it would be the absolute most ideal method. You can find more information about this at www.diaperfreebaby.org.

Reason and rationale

Our primary reasons for taking a particular route for our children and family are health and money. Thankfully, cloth diapering gets an A+ on both of these. Along with these two, there is a myriad of rationale behind cloth diapering your baby. Here’s some reasons for our decision on cloth diapering:

  1. Costs. According to the Real Diaper Association, cloth diapering costs a tenth the cost of disposables. The average child costs about $1,600 to diaper for two years according to the site, but I’ve read articles on this being $2,700. We’ve spent less than $1,000 on cloth diapers and cloth wipes for our son. We will use the same diapers on our other children (replacing any overused as necessary, of course), thus increasing our savings for every child we’re blessed with. Cloth wipes offer additional savings, particularly if you make your own wash as I do (with a cup of water, a tablespoon of baking soda and [optional] some essential oils). Instead of having a traditional baby shower (complete with a lot of things any crunchy momma like me won’t use), have a cloth diaper shower where you invite guests to buy one cloth diaper. 24 guests who bring one each could cover all your diapering needs for your baby’s lifetime! Cha-ching! Cloth diapered babies also potty train sooner than babies in disposables, which translates to saving some green and time in diapers. Lastly, so many people are struggling to provide for their families in our country now more than ever—breastfeeding and cloth diapering could help in so many situations!
  2. Health. Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of paper-bleaching process that is a carcinogenic chemical and banned in most countries outside the US, and Tributyl-tin, which is a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. (1) These chemicals can cause rashes and allergic reactions, which typically force a mother to switch to cloth diapers—why not start out with cloth diapers and not go through the trial period?? The Dioxin chemical can cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, skin diseases, and genetic disorders. (2)
  3. Convenience. Yes, that’s right, cloth diapers are more convenient in many ways. We never run out of diapers. We don’t have to budget for them. If we forget to wash them, which we only have to do every 2-3 days, we can make impromptu diapers with pretty much any cloth while the others are being washed. The notion that cloth diapers are a hassle would stem from the fact you do have to wash and dry them. Good news on this front is you grow completely accustomed to it, or if you’re like me and you’ve never dealt with disposables, you really are clueless to the “convenience” of disposable diapers anyways. As far as time goes, we’ve cloth diapered through my husband and I worked full-time jobs, and now we both go to school full-time and my husband works nearly full-time while we’re completely renovating our house. I’m pretty sure anyone can cloth diaper no matter what their situation is. I’ve heard women complain of the idea of having to deal with poo. If you have a baby, there’s no way around this no matter what diapers you use for one, so welcome to reality. 😉 An exclusively breastfed baby’s dirty diapers can go straight into the wash with scraping any poo off in the toilet anyways, so you get the first 4-6 months easy! Cloth diapers can get smelly, but there are so many cheap and natural cleaning methods to combat this issue. You wouldn’t be able to tell we cloth diaper based on our son’s smell—although he didn’t smell like a baby ever when he was first born because apparently those chemicals in disposables make the babies I’ve been around “smell like babies”. I hadn’t been around enough cloth diapered babies to tell the difference before our son.
  4. Environment. I’m not an environmentalist, but I believe we have a responsibility to take care of what God’s given us. Disposable diapers are horrible for our planet and babies in so many ways. Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for a single baby each years. (1) 92% of the approximate 27.4 billion disposables consumed yearly in America end up in a landfill, and each diaper can take an estimate 250-500 years to decompose. (1) Ironically, I’ve got cloth diapers that decompose in a landfill in 5 years that I will continue to use for multiple children! Speaking of irony, many people assume cloth diapers waste water; however, the manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth. (1)

Our favorite diaper

Last note I’ll make is about the brand of cloth diaper. Everyone has their own opinion on which brands and types work best, so it’s really up to you to decide. We’ve tried 15 different brands of cloth diapers, and our absolute favorite is Tots Bots Easy Fit All-In-One diapers. They are incredible in pretty much every way, but my favorite things about them are the fact they are slim-fitting, soft, absorbent and durable. I highly recommend Velcro over snaps because they’re more customizable; however, the only brand we’ve found that has a durable Velcro is Tots Bots. They cost slightly more than most, but they’ve been worth every penny. Also, if you buy the six-pack I have linked above, they’re about the same as most cloth diapers. Total, we’ve paid around $20-25 each for all our diapers other than the newborn sized ones and those we received at the baby shower. Oh, and did I mention they’re cute??

My favorite Tots Bots pattern: Chicken Little

My favorite Tots Bots pattern: Chicken Little

Blessings,

Michelle

Sources:

  1. http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
  2. http://www.diaperjungle.com/advantages-of-cloth-diapers.html

Butter me up

A little background

The farm we buy milk, eggs and meat from, Pasture Nectar Farms, offers raw cream produced by their grass-fed cows, which I decided to try for making butter and ice cream.  I will not dwell on the negative hype surrounding butter over the past few decades, but suffice to say, there have been many assumptions that do not apply to butter made from milk produced by grass-fed cows.  The Weston A. Price Foundation published an excellent article on Why Butter is Better and how our culture has made itself sick through a phobia of fat and cholesterol.  Thankfully, doctors such as Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist who’s been practicing for over 30 years and the author of The Great Cholesterol Myth, are discovering and speaking about just how wrong we’ve been about it.

I despise the anti-fat sentiment out there, but knowledge is power.  My family and I know butter is healthy and consume it regularly.  In our journey in the traditional diet, finding grass-fed raw butter has been not only expensive but incredibly difficult.  So, I gave churning my own a whirl!  There are many recipes out there, but they pretty much follow some general rules:  start with (raw, grass-fed) cream and clean off ALL the buttermilk.  You can add salt or whatever ingredients you like (such as garlic), but I kept it simple because this is how I like it.  Speaking of simple, making your own butter could not be any easier!

“Churning” butter

Unfortunately, I did not have my whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer when I made this, so I had to use my small food processor.  It would’ve been a lot easier with the stand mixer, but it’s in one of the six boxes of kitchen stuff sitting in storage due to lack of space–I did not have the energy to find it.  Here’s my recipe to make butter:

What you need —

  1. 1 quart raw cream (from grass-fed cows)
  2. Stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or food processor)
  3. Sieve
  4. Filtered water

Place cream in stand mixer or food processor and mix until butter becomes clumpy and grainy.  This step took about five minutes in my food processor because the sharp blade cut the fat globules smaller than a paddle or whisk would have.  I highly advise using a stand mixer for this reason!  When using a stand mixer, start the mixer off at the highest power that doesn’t cause the cream to “fly” out the bowl then increase speed as butter thickens.

"Churning" butter

“Churning” butter

After butter has fully churned, rinse the buttermilk off completely by draining the buttermilk into a separate bowl using a sieve.  Next use filtered water to “wash” the remaining buttermilk off while the butter is in the sieve.  You won’t need to keep the buttermilk or water from this phase, but the first draining of the buttermilk is straight, pure buttermilk that can be used to make yummy concoctions such as pancakes or biscuits.  It is utterly crucial to remove all the buttermilk.  For my first try at making butter, I did not completely remove the buttermilk (though I thought I did), which caused the butter to go rancid much quicker.

Clumpy butter

Clumpy butter

When you’ve washed the buttermilk completely off the butter, you can season it with salt or whatever then form it in a container.  Voila!  Raw butter (and buttermilk)!  I froze a lot of this batch to save it, so you can certainly make large batches for long-term use.  Make sure to store it in an airtight container because butter will soak up odors in the refrigerator or freezer.  I used my buttermilk to make some delicious soaked buttermilk pancakes, which I topped with my butter of course. 😉

Fresh butter and buttermilk!

Fresh butter and buttermilk!

Whatever you do, don’t give up if things don’t work out perfectly.  The creamy, fresh taste of real butter is worth it in the end!

Blessings,

Michelle