Monday, November 17, 2008

Use Cloth, NOT Paper

The Presidential race is over. Now begins a new campaign: dirty your dish rags and washcloths! Bring back the bar mop dish cloth!

TV ads may lead you to believe that you HAVE to have paper towels on your kitchen counter to pick up spills in your household. They even show paper towels being used, reused, washed in the sink and used again. Isn't that what a washcloth does?

So I say, save some money and room in the landfill and go cloth in the kitchen (and on bottoms--butt that is for another post). The first step is to go to your local store, be it Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Big Lots, etc. In my Granola Mom Organic Store, through Amazon, I have some rags priced at $8.48 for a set of eight. At Target, you can get a set of 4 for $2.99. These basic rags come in pretty colors or your basic white. Buy about 30 or so, depending on how many are in your family. I try and have enough cloths so that I am washing them every three to four days.
I have a basket filled with clean rags above my kitchen sink, right next to my precarious, barely used, paper towels that our visitors frequently gravitate to.

Are your paper towels on a stand like mine? Ever have the stand fall due to the clumsy ripping of the paper towel by your one available hand--only to create an even bigger mess as you yank the paper towel to free it from its roll. You then knock over your glass of water, which then spills all over your child's important paper? No more!

When a spill comes or a face needs to be wiped, bypass the paper towels and unfold your cloth with a dramatic snap of the wrist. All you need is one hand to pick the cloth out of the basket and it is ready to go. Use water or keep it dry. Cloth is far more absorbent than paper and doesn't become slimy when wet. It will grip boogers, swallow avocado, suck up tomato sauce, tackle dog barf, and soak up colossal milk spills! You can even wash it in the sink and reuse it--just like a paper towel, but cheaper and better for the earth!

When I am finished using my cloth, I often hang it on my oven handle to dry. This way, if I am slow to wash the laundry, the cloth won't grow mold in the basket. When the cloth is dry--in a few hours, I just throw it in a basket that sits on a bar stool at the kitchen counter. You could also store the dirty basket on top of your refrigerator, in the pantry, or under the sink.

Note, if you use wash cloths for messes, why not go ahead and use cloth napkins! Think about the money you will save!

OK. . . a 12 pack of Scott paper towels is $31.25 , on Amazon. So each roll is $2.60. (Yikes! I honestly have no idea how many rolls a normal household goes through in a month, but I am going to guess 8 rolls per month? Please post a comment and let me know.) That comes to a total of 96 rolls a year. Twelve rolls are in a pack, so you would need 9 packs at $31.25, which comes to a grand total of $281.25 per year. And that is then multiplied by every year that you live (minus the nursing home years). But if you went to Target and bought eight packs of wash cloths (32 wash cloths) for $2.99, you would spend $23.92 and these wash cloths will last several years! It seems obvious which is better for the budget. Now do the math if you switched from paper napkins to cloth!

But you say, then I have to wash it and pay money for laundry detergent. Well, I have an answer for you. Make your own laundry detergent!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Easy Homemade Wheat Bread

I came upon this recipe through the food buying coop that I belong to, so I cannot take the credit for how easy and yummy it is. Before I began grinding my own wheat berries, I made this recipe with store bought wheat flour. Whether you grind your wheat berries or use store wheat flour, this is a cheap method to making wholesome bread. I used to pay at least $3.50, sometimes $4.00 for organic wheat bread, and it still contained lethicin, sugar, and other fillers! But now I can make wholesome bread right at home, even while we are doing school!

It is helpful to have a Kitchen Aid mixer and minute timer. I typically cut the recipe in half because my mixer is standard size, cannot accommodate the entire amount of flour and it works the machine a bit too hard. Feel free to add fresh herbs and roasted garlic, or cinnamon and raisins!

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Grind 8 cups hard red or white wheat
Add 2 1/2 T. active dry yeast and 1/4 t. sugar to 1 c. warm water
Set aside to let it work

Add to mixer with dough hook:
4 1/2 c. hot tap water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 T. salt
3 tablets vitamin C—crushed
Mix to combine about 15 seconds.
Add to mixture:
10 c. ground whole wheat flour, 5 c. at a time and mix 15 or 20 seconds
When 10 c. have been added, knead for 6 minutes

Add yeast mixture and
1 c. regular oats
Knead for 2 minutes

Add 2 to 3 c. of flour (should be the rest of the wheat you ground)
Knead for 12 minutes

During the 12 minutes, oil 4-4X8 pans. Oil your hands and divide dough into four parts. Shape dough into loaves, place in pans, and cover with a light cloth. Let rise until double or a bit above the top of the pan.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Bread is done when it has a hollow sound when tapped. Set pans to cool and wait about 10 minutes, then remove bread from the pans to cool on racks. Let cool before slicing.

I'll add a photo of the finished loaf when it comes out of the oven! Please let me know how your bread turns out!

Monday, November 3, 2008

My family's journey into Whole Foods

For months, I resisted this idea of organic living, more precisely a whole foods diet. What on earth was whole foods anyway? Whole foods refers to a diet composed of whole grains (wheat, quinoa, brown rice, rye, etc.), plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw milk and cheese, sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup and agave, and a lack of processed, prepackaged foods. I would also add that it contains foods that are fermented, such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, homemade mayonnaise and ketchup, to name a few. A quick glance at Wikipedia defines it as "foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed.”

Let me share why we live and eat the way we do. Almost 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with a syndrome called PCOS, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It has a host of maladies that come with it, but the one that was most devastating to me was the forecast of not having a biological child. I was offered medication, but my doctor suggested that I try a different diet. I was encouraged to eat similar to how a diabetic person would eat, and to reintroduce exercise into my life. Sometimes this is all that a PCOS woman needs to keep her symptoms from getting any worse.

I decided it was worth a try. My plan was to follow E-Diets, and to exercise. I lost 15 pounds, began to see an herbalist, and miracle of miracles, I became pregnant (another cool story because we were just about to turn adoption papers in).

Hmmmm . . . yes, God allowed me to get pregnant, but I also wondered if there was something to this eating healthier? I certainly felt better.

Enter our friends Chad and Krista. All they could talk about was this amazing book called The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin. The premise was eat like God commanded the Israelites through the Levitical Law:

Leviticus provides a few basic rules that tell us what meats are considered clean an unclean, or for our purposes, healthy and unhealthy.

Land Animals: Healthy meats to eat are from animals with a cloven or split hoof that also chew the cud(Leviticus 11:3): cows, goats, sheep, oxen, deer, buffalo, etc.

Avoid animals that chew the cud but do not have cloven or split hooves (Leviticus 11:4): camels, horses, rats, skunks, dogs, cats, squirrels, possums, etc.
Don’t eat swine (pigs). They are unclean animals. (Leviticus 11:7-8) (they don’t chew the cud)
Why: Animals on the unhealthy list are primarily omnivores and carnivores. They eat meat from other animals which increases the likelihood that they carry a disease or parasite. In general, animals at the bottom of the food chain have the cleanest meat. Animals that chew the cud more effectively process their food and are therefore cleaner.

Seafood: Eat any fish with fins and scales but avoid fish or water creatures without them (Leviticus 11: 9-10). Some examples of things to avoid: catfish, eel, all shellfish
Why: Sea creatures without fins and scales are typically bottom feeders and are known to have the highest concentration of contaminants such as heavy metals.

Poultry: Birds that live primarily on insects, grubs, or grains are acceptable, but avoid fowl that eats flesh, Leviticus 11: 13-19, where you will find a large list of birds.
Why: Same reason as for the land animals. Animals that eat other animals have an increased risk of picking up diseases and parasites so it is best to eat food from the bottom of the food chain.
Yea right, I thought. Jesus has come to redeem us--there is no way I can obey all of the food laws in the Old Testament.

For months, I resisted. It seemed weird and to top it all off, buying organic was suggested--who can afford that?

Well, fast forward a little over 9 months, our precious son was born naturally but I didn't recover so well. What was wrong? For probably a variety of reasons, my thyroid decided it wasn't going to work anymore. It was done. Once again, I was faced with having to be on medication for the rest of my life and somehow get over postpartum depression. Something had to change.

Until next time, if you would like more information, please view a talk I gave at a church retreat.