Saturday, July 16, 2011

Food adventures - Whole Foods, blueberry picking, cheese making, homemade ice cream and more!

A flower from our garden on our freezer
We ended up going to Whole Foods a couple Fridays ago. We were given a great price per pound on grass-fed ground beef and purchase 28lb for ourselves and picked up 10lb for friends of ours. We also bought 4 fresh chickens that were $1.99/lb which seemed like a good deal for fresh, no water or salt added, and free range and "enhanced environment" (not sure what that means for a chicken) chickens. Regular chicken from our supermarket is $3.99/lb not on sale. When I did a search for cheap organic butter, I found an article that rated Whole Foods brand organic butter the best tasting and the best price, so we picked up a case of that (15 lb) so that we could get the 10% off deal. We bought unsalted even though we usually prefer the salted but we love this butter more than any other butter we have ever had! This should last us a year or so. We got some bulk honey and a few other small things that we couldn't find around here like arrowroot powder, but there really wasn't anything else that was cheaper than our local Co Op and Guidos.

After this totally successful trip, I was pumped and ready to do more!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We took a week off from being "busy" - now to keep it this way.

Basil had a restful week too.
We had an awesome week last week. There is so much I could say about it. We took a break from email (most email), facebook, TV, picking out songs for Sunday, guitar making, hobby woodworking and other things that were keeping us "busy", so that we could slow down and smell the flowers. In the right place, I don't see anything wrong with the activities, but I know I was drained and so tired from daily life and from the pile up of months of emotions surrounding seeing my family in Minnesota, saying goodbye to my Grandparents in NH, and dealing with Noah's ongoing weight issue. We needed to refocus and needed to have a week to leisurely and purposefully spend with each other and God.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our homemade yogurt adventure

So, I already mentioned in my bulk food post that making our own yogurt is a lot cheaper than buying it from the store. We were buying 32oz of plain (no sugar) full fat yogurt for $3 on sale and $4 not on sale. To get the most fat and what we consider the best nutrients for yogurt, we bought a half gallon of raw milk for $3.50 from a dairy farm in the next town over. That is 64oz of yogurt. Twice as much for about the same price. You could cut the price down even more if you just bought your milk from a store, but we are fine with the price of this raw milk when it is being used for yogurt. It is still quite the deal!

If you have never bought raw milk (or any milk) directly from a dairy farm like this one (if you want to know where we go, let me know and I'll tell you), I highly recommend it; it is an awesome experience. The first time I bought milk from this dairy farm, I called ahead of time and the farmer said I could come right down so he could show me where to buy the milk. When I pulled up, I walked in the barn to meet him and he popped out from behind a cow. Awesome! He was very friendly and I really appreciated being able to meet him and actually walk into the barn that my milk was coming from. Now any time I want milk, I just walk in the barn, put cash in a jar and take milk out of the refrigerator. An honor system!

So with this last purchase of raw milk, we made our first batch of yogurt. Joel says it is better than the store bought kind (Stonyfield). Because I have read that making yogurt with raw milk can result in a thinner yogurt, I was excited to find the post, Four Secrets to Thick, Creamy Yogurt Every Time on Passionate Homemaking. I figured it still might be thinner, but every little bit of advice helps! I recommend looking to her post for her tips and recipe, but here is the short of how to make it (with our pictures):

Saturday, July 2, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things: wood teethers, gardens, and my boy

Homemade wooden teethers, the garden I get to garden in, and my boy!

I have lots of pictures to share (and a flower question)!

lavender and teethers
Joel and I picked up a ton of nice wood for $25 (craigslist!) and are making little toys and games with it. We have seen really cool wooden toys and teethers on Etsy and thought it would be a fun thing to do together. We are starting with teethers and I love them. We are going to list some on Etsy too just to see if they sell. We racked our brains to think of a shape that was original so that we weren't copying someone and thought of a baby foot (we haven't seen them yet anyway). I love baby feet and footprints, so it appealed to me. After we made the template, I realized it is kind of cute and comical for an additional reason: baby's like to suck on their feet anyway, so I guess, why not give them a third! We plan to make a beeswax and jojoba oil finish for them too, but we haven't found a source for the beeswax yet.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Researching Bulk Food Options

My Grandparent's old freezer.
It will soon be the home of yummy meat. 

Uff-da! I enjoy scouring to find the right deal, but this one has been wicked complicated. I have a couple of favorite blogs that I read, and they have really great suggestions for where to get my staples in bulk. The problem was that after I filled up my cart with amazing deals, I found out the warehouses were based over near Washington state. The shipping was totally not worth it!

I have been looking for places to find grass-fed beef, chickens, nuts, kamut, arrowroot powder, butter, beeswax and coconut oil at more reasonable prices. There are a few other odds and ends that I would like to find, but these are the big items that are proving hard to find or when I find them, they are very expensive. It seems like they don't have great bulk food ordering options over here in New England.

So, if you live near western Massachusettes and are doing anything like I am, I hope this either helps you, you get a good laugh out of the run around I did, or you can give advice on some other options for healthy, real, bulk food on a serious budget.

Lets talk about Coconut Oil...



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