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I Swear They Exist

Chocolate/Chocolate Chip Pancakes DO exist.  I swear.  I was simply biding time until payday, and a much needed trip to the grocery store, so I could proof the recipe one last time.

For those of you who doubt the existence of these "mythical" pancakes of which I speak, I offer the following photographic evidence:

The actual recipe will follow as soon as the cupboards are less bare.  No, really.


We'd Like to Thank the Academy

I've been meaning to post this for days now, but it's been That Kind of Week.  Two cases in point:

First Terri tried to die on me by nearly choking to death the other night.  She's got this swallowing thing, which has had us all watching her veeerrry closely whenever she eats.  It's rather traumatic when she starts turning alarming shades of red and blue and we have no wish for a repeat performance.  She's finally gone today to see the doctor about it.  Follow up visits are to come.  Note: This. Is. No. Fun.  (And I would also note that there is a certain injustice in such an avid foodie having swallowing issues.  I'm just sayin'.)

Then last night, The Night This Must Be Posted, my son is happily working away on a science project (which, of course, was due today) when all of a sudden he runs out of black construction paper.  He was using the paper to cover the inside of a box to make it, well, black.  After running over every option I had for a substitute (of which I had none--no more black paper, no paint, not even a Sharpie that would do the job) and very seriously considering Terri's offer of borrowing the rest of the black food coloring she had on hand, which was left over from the gluten-free TARDIS cake she made for her son's birthday earlier this month, my son and I finally fled to Target to get more supplies.  This ate up the rest of my night.  Voila, no post.

But NOW I'm here and now I must share with you that Terri and I have won an award!  It's a very special kind of award--one that is passed from blogger to blogger and which asks you to play along, awarding other bloggers and sharing a bit about yourself.  Terri and I love this kind of sharing the love thing, so we were honored when we found that Garden Variety Momma had awarded it to us!  Here is our shiny new Stylish Blogger Award:

Isn't it pretty?  It's so nice to be thought of and to be acknowledged by your peers!

Now, here are the rules if you are awarded the Stylish Blogger Awarded:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself (and since there are two of us here, you get two for the price of one!)
  3. Award 10-15 bloggers who you think deserve this award (that's where the sharing the love part comes in)
  4. Contact these bloggers to let them know about the award.
So, again, thank you Garden Variety Mama for thinking of us and bestowing upon us this most beautiful award!  Your blog is fantastic, we love that quiche idea, and we really, really hope you get to feeling better!  We're sure the twins are fine, but did your house survive?  ;)

Now onto 7 things about us.  So that you wouldn't feel cheated (because we were just sure you would), Terri and I are going to tell you 7 things apiece.  

  1. I adore thunderstorms and love to write when it is grey and dreary.  I'll love this more when my roof is fixed.
  2. Apparently, I cannot communicate without wild gesturing and the raising of one eyebrow.  
  3. I am deathly afraid of crickets.
  4. I am a rabid Doctor Who fan.  Seriously, I would travel with him any day!
  5. In the third grade,  took a live bat I had found to school with me.  Can you say Health Department visit?
  6. Store mannequins freak me out.  (Try growing up with a grandma who owns a store and being exposed to a dark back room full of fake body parts and see how you feel...)
  7. If anyone wants to bribe me, vanilla bean paste is a good way to do it.  (And, apparently I can't count because I only listed 6 things.  So this last minute "about me" nullifies Angela's # 6.)
  1. I have lived in 5 states so far, but have been in Oklahoma for my entire adult life.
  2. I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 10 years old (not that that says anything about me...)
  3. Everyone in my house is an Aries, including myself... which is a barrel of laughs... mostly.
  4. I am desperately in love with everything Terri can't eat: mushrooms, shellfish, dairy (at least not much dairy).  So, I eat them all in an effort to make the world a little safer for her.  
  5. I have a strong fondness for cheese danishes.  (this is not a hypo-allergenic admission)
  6. It absolutely astounds me that Terri, who has me surpassed in the foodie realm by miles, didn't mention food once in her "about me."
  7. I love reading and writing fiction when I'm not reading and writing blogs about sustainable eating.
And here are the wonderful blogs to whom we are now bestowing the Stylish Blogger Award!


If you are in this list, your blog has wowed us.  We picked you because of your ability to inform and entertain and give us that feeling that "we are not alone."  Thank you for your posts, each and every one of them.  To accept this award, you simply have to grab the graphic and pass it on to your favorite bloggers.  Now go and share the love.


Sneak Peek, or: A Recipe to Knock Supermom Off Her High Horse

Ok, I am currently working on a Cocoa-Chocolate Chip (or Carob/Carob Chip...pick your poison) Pancake recipe.  My official taste testers finally let me get one to eat.  Good thing I made them wait to eat theirs until I snapped a quick picture.

If those "good moms" that I hear so much about make their children Chocolate Chip pancakes on special occasions, I figured I could up the ante by making Cocoa-Chocolate Chip pancakes.  Ha!  Take THAT super moms!
I am going to proof the recipe again before I post it.  (Maybe I can actually wrangle more than half a pancake away from the taste testers this time.)

I could totally see this for breakfast, but also as a dessert option.  Imagine a warm earthy cocoa pancake, with melty chips of chocolate, covered with whipped cream and a few fresh strawberries.  Or maybe the hot, not-too-sweet pancake, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge or caramel.  Oooh, or may the chocolatey pancake topped with a smear of peanut butter and rolled up...

Clearly it has been too long since I had chocolate.


For When the Weather Can't Decide What Season It Is...

Just when I think that spring is really and truly here, another cold snap moves in, and suddenly the windows are snapped closed, the heater turned back on, and the heavy blanket tugged up from the foot of the bed.  Overnight, it seems, I went from wanting a crisp salad to something a bit warmer, heartier...something with some serious "staying power."

Those-Who-Guess-at-the-Weather are forecasting another dip in temperatures next week...if that holds true (hey, this is Oklahoma, who knows what the weather will do!), you might consider whipping up a nice, steamy bowl of this yourself:

Brat and Bean Stew

1 pkg. turkey brats (I used Honeysuckle White)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (or, if you are lucky and it is in season, use fresh)
1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans, or any other white bean, drained and rinsed (or use home cooked beans, or leftover beans)
1 large bunch kale, cleaned and with center stalk removed
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks and greens, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Cook brats in olive oil until they start to brown, then add chicken broth and cover until cooked through.
  2. Once they are cooked through, remove the brats and slice into bite sized cubes.
  3. Add the  onion and garlic to the cooking liquid. 
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans, carrots, and celery; cover and cook until carrots and celery are tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add brats back into pan, and pile the kale on top.  Cover with lid and let kale wilt for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste

I can honestly say that this is now one of my favorite stews.  The turkey brats pack quite a punch of flavor, and the white beans add a certain creamy warmth.  Since kale is one of my new favorite foods, you can bet I added some of that, too...plus some onion and garlic to help ward away the sniffles that always seem to accompany an expected cold snap.  The carrots and celery help to brighten up the dish (both in taste and appearance).   And, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, you really should use the celery greens as well as the stalks;I adore celery greens in soups and stews!  Please, please, please don't just throw the celery greens in the compost bin or (gasp!) worse yet...the trash!


At any rate, this also reheats beautifully--in case you want to keep leftovers (or freeze some) for the next cold snap.



From a Tiny Seed...

Jack & The Beanstalk 2.0
Well, friends, our garden project has officially started. While my husband and I are certainly not pros, I have high hopes for our harvest.  Our goal is to keep us well stocked with fresh veggies through the summer and hopefully have enough surplus to "winter over."  With this in mind, we thought we would try our hand at successive planting. If it works, bonus.  If not, I'm sure you'll hear all about what NOT to do from yours truly. 

So, what have we started so far?  We've got broccoli plants in the ground, and we've sown our first batches of carrots, onions, and spinach.  There's a lot more to get in the ground, but it's a start.  We'll be planting like this, little bits at a time, over the course of the growing season.  We both work, my husband and I, and it's not always possible to get the whole thing knocked out in a weekend.  But this successive planting method means that, for most of our vegetables, we don't have to get everything in the ground at once.  We sow a little this week, a little next week, and everything is supposed to be ready for harvesting in batches (you know, um, successively?), thus prolonging the season, and thus things are ready for harvest in more manageable quantities.  I don't know, it sounds like genius to me.  Here's hoping.

If you're thinking of growing some of your own food, here are a few links that I found helpful:

For Okie Gardeners
The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension has great information.  I, for one, found this planting guide invaluable:

And look!  There's one for planting fruit!

For Anyone



and here are the two books I'm relying on the most this season.  

Grow It: The Beginner's Complete In-Harmony-With-Nature Small Farm Guide-From Vegetable and Grain Growing to Livestock Care     The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!


Good Food for a Bad Day...or Bad Week...

To say it has been a challenging week would be a gross understatement.  Everyone has weeks like this...weeks when it seems like the stars are perfectly aligned in such a way that everything you try is thwarted, everything that could go wrong does, and every dreaded thing comes to fruition.  A week that would try the patience of Job.  When one of "those" weeks rears its ugly head, there is not much to do but muddle through and find solace where you can…in good friends, quiet moments, and comfort foods.

So tonight, when cooking is (for once) the last thing on my mind, I decided that maybe it was time to rework the zucchini bread recipe that my family loves and make it gluten free.  Zucchini bread is definitely a comfort food in our house.  This particular bread is rich and spicy…clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg give it a deep warmth.  

As an added bonus, this recipe allows me the opportunity to use some of the zucchini that I had frozen last summer (yes, I am still working through all of last years’ bounty tucked away in my freezer).

So, in the event that your week was as insanely bad as mine, or if you have some frozen zucchini that needs using up…or, heck, even if you just want something warm and spicy to get you through the week…feel free to borrow one of my favorite comfort food recipes:

Zucchini Bread
(makes two 9”x5” loaves)

3 eggs
1 c. oil
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. zucchini (pureed)
1 c. sorghum flour
1 c. sweet rice flour
½ c. potato starch
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two standard sized loaf pans with non-stick spray and lightly dust with gluten free flour. 

Mix all ingredients in large bowl until well blended.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until center is set.  Let cool briefly in pan, then remove from pan and let cook on wire rack.

I topped this loaf with a simple powdered sugar glaze with a dash of nutmeg and a sprinkling of sliced almonds.

Yes, this really is one of those dump, stir, and bake kind of recipes.  Maybe that is one of the reasons that it is such a comfort food around our house…it does not require much forethought.  It is not a finicky recipe that requires a lot of fuss.  It is dependable and, when you have one of those weeks, something reliable is a wonderful thing.

Taste-tester review:  Terri just gave me some of this zucchini bread this morning and it was AMAZING!  For the record, I am not (yet... though that may be scheduled to change soon, due to my adhd child... *deep breath*) gluten-free myself.  I still eat all that evil stuff.  So when I say amazing, I mean you can make this for your gluten glutton friends & family, and they will love it, too!  It's moist and very sweet-bread-satisfying.  Trust me.  This is good stuff.  ~ Angela


Operation: Feed the Family, Save the Planet, and Don't Go Broke

Garlic Scapes
It’s time to devise a plan.   There are now 3½ weeks until the first farmers' market of the season opens (but who's counting?).  We've got some down time; might as well use it wisely.

The farmers' markets in Green Country are only open from April to October, and the rest of the year we have to fend for ourselves.  Well, that is, if you depend wholly on the farmers' markets.  There are other ways.  And, if you're not a farmer yourself, and you want to get as close to the source of your food as you can, it's good to know what your resources are.  

Let's start here—where to find pure, unadulterated local food from the people who grow/raise/prepare it for you.  The aforementioned farmers' markets are, of course, the simplest way to go.  There you'll find produce (of course), meat, dairy, prepared foods (like baked goods and spice blends), along with various and sundry other items like ultra-local honey and hand-made non-food items (you know, soaps and candles and pottery and hand-spun llama wool—that kind of stuff).  Last year there was even a stand at the Cherry Street Farmers' Market selling all-natural snow cones in all kinds of fascinating flavors.  BUT, the earliest market (which does appear to be Cherry Street, incidentally) doesn't start until April 9th this year.  Today is March 15th.  So... what to do in the mean time?  

First of all, there's the: 

I just recently discovered this.  It seems to have been created to fill the off-season gap for local foods.  Here, you'll find many of the same farmers and producers that are at Green Country's farmers' markets.  Their last pickup date for the month, and for the season (looks like they shut down when the traditional farmers' markets open up in April) is March 26th, so hurry and get your order in!

Next, something I haven't tried, but strongly considered and see no reason why you shouldn't:

This is the largest coop in Oklahoma, carrying ONLY products grown/raised/produced in Oklahoma.  

Now, I realize I'm a little late here for the March delivery, and you do have to pay a one-time fee to join the coop, but it really does look like it would be worth it.  Here we are, in the middle of March, with nary a vegetable in sight, and, besides the vast selection of meat, dairy, and other products, I found lettuce, kale, spinach, collards, turnips, green onions, radishes, mushrooms of all kinds, baby leeks, and baby raab.  I don't really know what raab is, but we'll find out soon enough.  (That one's slated for the WTF page.)

As a side note, it looks like you can get Oklahoma grown flour here--but only wheat.  If you're looking for gluten-free flour, you might have to make your own or buy it from a store like Whole Foods or Reasors.  We'll keep our eye out, though.  You never know what you might find when hunting local treasure.

Another way to seek out your local growers are these two nifty little websites:

On each of these sites you can put in your zip code or city and pull up growers, producers, etc. in your area.  I've used both sites and have gotten different results from each, so it's good to check both if you want to know who's growing, raising, and selling what around here.  You may find a nearby farmer that has a farm stand or store, but doesn't necessarily go to the farmers’ markets--they may have just what you're looking for.  

Now for the not going broke part.  

It is a bald fact that--dollar for dollar--real, unprocessed, clean (i.e., raised without pesticides or herbicides and not genetically modified) food from a farm near you costs more than the conventional stuff you can get at the grocery store.  It also costs less to buy a 99 cent hot dog at your local Stop ‘N Shop than it does to buy the ingredients to make a fresh salad, but this is the kind of disparity we’re working with--quality versus quantity, health versus convenience.  And, you know what?  I'm not a rich woman.  Not even close.  I live paycheck to paycheck, trying to juggle a budget and stay afloat like most people in this economy.  But, call me crazy, I think feeding my family sustainably-produced food is vitally important.

First of all, I believe that eating good, local food makes us healthier and that, by skipping the poison and the processed made-with-ingredients-I-can't-pronounce “convenience foods,” we save extra trips to the doctor, which saves hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars over time.  Second, I believe that buying food that is made or grown close to home makes for a healthier environment.  Buying local contributes to my community, which makes for healthier, happier, more productive people; it motivates me and makes the world feel brighter, safer, and more inspiring.  I see something good happening here, something worthwhile.  This as a way to pick up our local economy and help people live their dreams, know their land, and feel a sense of connection with each other.  Eating with the seasons (that is, with your season, wherever you are) and taking advantage of the food that's grown and raised sustainably where you live does so much good on so many levels that it is simply worth more than conventional food from far away.  The current corporate food system brings us cheap food that is highly processed or farmed, one crop at a time, over thousands of acres of land which is stripped of its nutrients and artificially controlled to give higher, yet arguably less nutritious, yields.  

I’d like to see what happens when we, the people, do it ourselves.

Here are the elements of my current eat-mindfully-don't-go-broke strategy.  There are only three (so far), but I think they cover a lot of ground:

1. Make as much food “from scratch” as possible.  I'm willing to bet I can make organic potato chips (for example) cheaper than I can buy them prepackaged from Whole Foods.  And potentially even cheaper than a bag of Lay’s or Ruffles.   

2. Eat lower on the food chain more often.  I'm not vegetarian and have no plans to be, but I do believe that meat doesn't have to be eaten at every meal, and besides, it's expensive!  So, by cutting down on how often we eat like carnivores, and how much meat is incorporated in a meal when we do, we save money to put toward more vegetables and staple items.

3. Grow your own.  Nothing is more local, more fresh, or more cost-effective than food you grow yourself.  I know not everyone has a yard in which to plant a garden.  But, even in an apartment, there are ways you can grow some of your own food.  There is much information out there about container gardening and urban farming.  You can get involved with a community garden.  There are ways, if you’re determined and willing to get a little creative.


The Meal without the Mom Guilt

The past week has been crazy busy, which means that I have been trying my hand at making dinners that are super easy, and still super tasty.  I am still trying to use up things I have in the pantry while I wait for spring (and the Farmers' Markets) to arrive. 

Now, I did pick up a few things at Whole Foods (yes, I do practically live there), and I found a really good deal on Ancient Harvest Quinoa Polenta Heirloom Red and Black.  I got two rolls of the polenta, having absolutely no idea of what I was going to do with it (that's just how I...roll...sorry, unintentional pun).

When I got home, I was ridiculously eager to try it.  My middle child wanted chili for lunch, which did not seem to bode well for my need for instant gratification, but then I had an idea.  What about a Polenta Tamale Skillet?!

Feeling daring, I decided to give it a whirl and, honestly, it was incredible easy, and tasty, and FAST!

Polenta Tamale Skillet

1 lb. ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs. olive oil
1 roll Ancient Harvest Quinoa Polenta, Heirloom Red & Black

Optional Toppings:
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese

1.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat, add ground turkey and cook through.
2.  Add chopped onion, red pepper, and garlic, and cook until veggies become tender. 
3.  Add canned tomato with liquid, drained beans, and spices.  Heat through. 
4.  Cut polenta into approximately 1/4 inch rounds and place over the meat and bean mixture.  Cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and let cook approximately 5 minutes, or until polenta is heated through.

Serve with salsa, cheese, and/or sour cream.

This also reheats really well (always a plus around my house)--in fact I took it for my lunch on Monday.

I still have one roll of polenta left in the pantry, so I am contemplating how to put that one to good use.

I also made a Turkey Kielbasa, White Bean, and Kale skillet recently.  I am going to have to make it again and blog about it.  I really meant to have written about it already, but we ended up eating it all before I had a chance to take a picture.  Yes, it really was that tasty! 

Apparently I have a one skillet dinner theme going on.  I think that is a bit how my life is going lately, a bit more rushed that I would like, but it all works out in the end, and sometimes you stumble upon something that is really satisfying.  What's to complain about with that?


Granola Bars and Mom Guilt

Ok, so the kids are all out of the house, and my husband is sleeping, and it seems creepily quiet.  This is definitely foreign to me!  So, I thought I would take my mind off the eerie silence by writing about what I have been baking.  Lately, I have been wanting to use up some of the dried fruit I have on hand, and Whole Foods had a great deal on Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free Oats lately, so Gluten Free Granola Bars seemed like a pretty good choice…tasty, not too much effort, and really big flavor.

My first batch was a rich and fruity bar, extra thick and cut into big hunks (is that an actual food term?).  I had used a smaller than normal pan because I wanted pretty thick bars; even so, they were all gone within about an hour (well, except for the one bar that I tucked away for Angela to try, since she contributed the pumpkin seeds to the recipe.  Thanks, Angela!).

Rich and Fruity Granola Bars

1 2/3 Gluten Free Oats
½ c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. gluten free oats, whirled around in the food processor (or oat flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. dried prunes (rough chopped)
½ c. pumpkin seeds
1/3 c. almond butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
6 tbsp. melted butter
¼ c. honey
2 tbs. agave nectar
1 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line an 8” x 8” pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray or coat lightly with butter. 

Stir together all the ingredients.  Spread the mixture in the prepared pan.  Using wet hands will help make it spread easier.  (I am not responsible if you end up licking it off your fingers.  I have…known…people…who might have done this.)

Bake the bars for about 40 minutes.  The will be beginning to get brown around the edges, but they will still seem a bit undercooked in the center.  That is exactly what you want.  Quick, time to take them out!

Now for the hard part…let them cool.  No, really.  Don’t cut them yet.  Let them cook for several hours.  Then lift the foil out and let them cool on the counter a bit longer out of the pan (but still in the foil). 

Once they are finally cool, you can cut them with a serrated knife (if you use a nice sawing motion and don’t force the knife tip into the bar, they will cut much nicer).  If you don’t have a serrated knife, or don’t want to wait the extra cooling time, eh, don’t worry…they will still taste awesome, they will just be less photogenic. 

I really did have every intention of wrapping some of these up and putting them aside for school snacks but, as I said, they were wolfed down in record time.  And, honestly, I liked them so much, I wanted more…you know…for the kids.  So I have another pan cooling as I type.

These were so easy to whip up, and the oven was all preheated and all, so I decided to make another batch of my Chocolate Oatmeal Granola Bars.  (You may recall that my mother in law bought me a huge bag of chips from Sam’s…see what good use I am making of them?!)  I actually made them Saturday, and they were devoured Saturday, so clearly I needed to make another batch and do it properly this time, so today I made a double batch.  Mostly I am making them again because my middle child cried when they were gone.  Yes, cried.  Really.  Actual tears.  

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars


1 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. nut butter of your choice
¼ c. honey
¼ c. agave nectar
½ melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. gluten free oats
¼ c. dried coconut (unsweetened)
¼ c. sunflower seeds
2 tsp. gluten free oat flour
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line an 8” x 12” pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray or coat lightly with butter. 

Stir together all the ingredients.  Spread the mixture in the prepared pan.  Using wet hands will help make it spread easier. 

Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes.  The edges of the bars should be lightly brown.  Again, you have to let these sit up for several hours.  I will warn you, this will be more difficult to let cool than the fruit bars…because these, my friends, have the irresistible, warm invitation of melted chocolate wafting from them. 

I am not going too pretend that these are all kinds of nutritious, but they are gluten free, and they are homemade, and they are an awesome treat…and they are still better than a lot of the prepackaged crap at the store…that has to be worth something, right?  Plus, the “you’re the best ‘cooker’ in the world” comments from my happy kids…definitely, worth it. 

Just so you know, I also made an amazing, impromptu Polenta Tamale Skillet, which I will post the recipe for in the next day or two.  In case you are curious, here is a picture to tide you over until I can get the recipe up.


Making it Through March

It's the beginning of March and the farmers’ markets don't open here in Green Country for another month. For now, I'm eking by like the rest of the local-food hopefuls (I would so love to call myself a true locavore, but I'm afraid some brave soldier who doesn't eat anything grown, raised, or produced more than 100 miles from their home would smite me because I'm not local enough...yet), eating last summer's frozen green beans (and they still taste better than anything I can get from the Jolly Green Giant), trying-trying-trying to vote with my food dollars at the grocery store as much as my income will allow, and, in the end, still buying more feedlot meat and processed food than I want to think about.  

Porky Truck
I started really focusing on local and organic last spring, after finally beginning to grasp the global travesty I had been buying into all these years.  I learned a lot.  I went to farmers’ markets regularly, buying everything from fresh produce to local beef and eggs, and I even tried to buy extra to save for winter.  I froze a lot of stuff (thanks to Terri graciously sharing space in her extra freezer with me), though not enough to completely get us by.  I haven't yet learned the fine arts of canning and drying and I just didn't have the budget (or freezer space) to buy up the meat we'd need ahead of time.  There's this guy in Sand Springs who sells grass-finished beef (yes, that's what I said, grass-finished!  Not sure what that means or why it matters?  That's a topic for another post...), and pork that roams freely for the length of its happy little life.  That's who I want to order from.  But, like all things in the really real world, it's not so simple as calling him up and ordering a few pounds of ground round.  No, you have to order it by the cow – whole, half, or even quarter (practically unheard of – I've  been told most operations like this won't sell the meat for less than half a cow), and it has to be ordered at certain times of year, so he knows how much he'll need to raise.  As you can imagine, buying that much meat at once is a little bit of a hit to the pocketbook, if you're not budgeting for it ahead of time.  Which...of course...I've not yet managed to do.

I'm frustrated—with myself and with “the system.”  This shouldn't be so hard.  Because it's so basic.  I want the food I eat and feed my family to be regular, natural, untampered-with food.  And I want most of it to come from close to home...at least, what, within the state?  Not the highest “locavore” ideal, but man, it's gotta' be better than getting all my organics shipped from California or another country, right?  And I know that buying “gourmet” food from local artisans can be quite pricey (please don't any of my local bakers shoot me, but it's around $6 for a loaf of bread to get it made here in town.  I just...I want to, but I can rarely afford to go that route).  However, I'm not looking for gourmet.  I'm just looking for stuff I can learn to prepare on my own—everyday fare.  I'm looking for produce that hasn't been sprayed with poison and meat that was raised the way it was always raised before the 1950s—out in the open, grazing on grass or pecking in the barnyard, and having no neurotic urges to bite off its neighbor's tail or have to be dragged by several grown men to slaughter because it's too sick to walk or stand on its own.  Really, who would want to eat that?  

 So this year, as I ponder what to do with those three quarts of frozen okra I optimistically bought last year and thought for sure I'd have used up by now (Terri? Any ideas?), I vow, timidly and hopefully, to myself, to do better—to keep track of my findings (for my own information and for yours, dear friends), to learn how to do more for myself and not to rely so much on the packaged-food industry, to find a way to beat this beast... one local vegetable and informed choice at a time.  


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