Why bother eating healthy?

Most of you are probably not aware of it, but I’m supposed to be on a number of medications to treat various health problems. The problem is, I don’t like to take prescription medications. Never have.

Part of the move from packaged and processed to made from scratch was because of spending some time considering the fact that although illness and sickness happened when I was a kid, for the most part, people seemed healthy.

Now days, if we see an article about someone living beyond their 80’s, we’re almost in awe. Again, true old age wasn’t that uncommon when I was growing up. Most people did live to their late 80’s at least, most well near to 100.

So what’s changed? Well, a lot actually, but one of the big factors in my opinion is how and what people eat.

Fast food was just starting to gain it’s death-grip when I was a kid. Sure, I got the occasional Happy Meal, but it was just that. Occasional.

I grew up in a world where people still cooked. Sunday dinners were common but they weren’t courtesy of KFC, they came from a woman that usually ran straight home from church to start the huge undertaking of putting it on the table.

We ate real food. Green beans that were snapped by hand. Corn that the kids spent half a Saturday cleaning. Fried chicken, potato salad…I could go on and on.

Now, families head for drive thrus and take out menus. Refrigerators and cabinets are usually bare and the microwave is the only appliance that sees regular use. We’ve become such a culture of instant gratification that we even get restless in line in the drive thru but complain if it isn’t “fresh”. I’ve got news for you, almost nothing that can be gotten in a drive thru is “fresh”. Go home and make the same meal fresh in your kitchen and tell me if you could mass produce them that way in less than 5 minutes. You can’t. And that’s where they get you.

But ask yourself how health has changed in the last 30 years or so. Compare life expectancy then to now.

Of course, there are other factors, such as pollution, but even the fresh vegetables you can buy in the grocery store could come with more than you think. Chemicals from pesticides, growth hormones, genetically altered to resist insect infestation, drought and all other manner of things. Do you really know what you’re eating?

I guess I’m old-school, and getting worse as I age, but when I was a kid, people knew what was in and on their foods. Is it a coincidence that people lived longer then?

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Freezer Queen

When we started thinking about the whole “getting back to our roots”, my mind immediately went to canning. I was never taught the art of canning and preserving, but the internet being what it is, I figured it wouldn’t be hard to learn. One thing I didn’t give much thought to, especially in a hotel, was freezing.

Two weekends ago, I broke out the crock pot my sister, EQ, loaned me (most of my kitchen is packed up an hour from here) and made corned beef and cabbage stew. Last weekend, we made a big crock of pulled bbq chicken.

It’s just the two of us, and both times, we made way more than two people can eat at one time.

I have a very basic kitchen here. The room came with a microwave and a micro-fridge. That was it. I bought a coffee maker and a single electric burner (we prefer gas but it’s not an option in a hotel room) and borrowed a crock pot from my sister.

Space is also very limited here. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room without a mini-kitchen, you’ll know what I mean, so my options for having a lot is limited.

I hate to loose food. I’ve gone hungry before, so I have a lot of respect for having it (and for the money it takes to buy it when you can’t grow or raise your own) and every time I throw something edible away, it’s like a little part of me dies.

So, even in a hotel room, I’m very mindful of waste.

Here I was with an excess of absolutely yummy food (hubby and I are both pretty good cooks, by the way) that I was going to loose. Canning here just really isn’t an option because of space, so I had no idea what to do.

Then it hit me. My freezer, such as it is, was almost empty. Other than freezing the meats, it doesn’t usually see much use. We’re not big on frozen foods, preferring to make our own when we can, so there’s some unused real estate going on in there -or there was anyway.

I have never done much freezing. We’ve always been more of a “eat it till it’s gone” family. This helps prevent loss of food, but it can be boring. I’ve read a lot on freezing though and I must admit, I’m a bit of a fanatic about Food Network, cooking shows and recipe and cooking sites, so I know a little bit about it.

I decided freezing was my best option here and I stood to loose no more than I would if it sat in the fridge.

I left some of the cabbage in the fridge for Paul, that’s the hubby if you’re wondering, and put the rest in a freezer bag with as much air out as I could manage. The rest of the chicken went the same way.

Since then, I did pull the chicken back out, thawed it and reheated it. Other than a moment of guilt for not “cooking”, where I reminded myself that this was food we had cooked, it was good. I added some of the homemade bbq sauce and a little water and it tasted like it had fresh from the crock.

Now, I’m all about freezing. It was nice to be able to pull a fully pre-cooked meal from the freezer and just have to heat it.

I used to think that people that made ahead and froze things were cheating in some way. My mom didn’t start with freezing things until after my little brother finally left home and I won’t lie, I kind of turned my nose up at it a little. Now, I understand why she did it.

Cooking for two, especially when you’ve spent years cooking for more people -and our house was always where everyone showed up at meal times, so I made extra- can take some getting used to. I often find myself with more than we can eat before it goes bad now. Freezing has suddenly become a life-saver, as well a helping hand if it’s a busy day. Now I’m kicking myself for not trying it sooner!

Do you freeze cooked foods or uncooked ingredients? Is there anything you’ve found that doesn’t freeze well?

Blessings,
Crystal

The Tiny Hearth

The last few weeks have seen many changes around here. There was a major falling out between us and my “sister”, as I’ve called her until now on this blog, and we ended up back in Pickens in our camper.

We celebrated Christmas with the kids and my best friend and her family and in spite of the stress of the recent weeks, we actually had a wonderful day.

Getting our feet under us right before Christmas has been a challenge. We didn’t really plan this out, so there was no job for Paul to come back to here. We’ve stretched and pinched to make it work so far and the struggle isn’t over yet, although I think I may finally be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

He does have a line on a job in another week or so. It’s basically an entry position in the meat department of a local grocery store. We’re kind of excited about it because we feel like it will give him some knowledge on butchering our meat at home when we hunt as well as bringing in a paycheck.

Life here at the camper is very different than anywhere else. There have been some challenges to overcome, like busted plumping that wasn’t busted when we left, lack of sufficient heat last winter and lack of running hot water even if the plumping wasn’t busted.

Paul’s last check from his previous job was put to good use in filling the propane tanks (most of my camper is run on propane), buying a camp shower (there will be a post on that all to itself) and a new propane heater. All of which have made a big difference in our quality of life compared to six months ago.

Our vision of the business has changed along with our location. What we originally thought would be primarily candles, bath products and incense has changed to something that should have been a no-brainer from the start. It’s where our passion truly lies and is one of the cornerstones of our relationship and family.

Food

It’s no secret that I enjoy cooking. I always have and I even spent a very large chunk of my working career in the food industry. I’ve cooked, made biscuits, slung pizzas and even done dishes. Paul was a career line cook for a long time himself.

We’ve spent some long nights fantasizing about opening a food truck or restaurant and it’s beyond me why we never thought of this before.

In our absence, our daughter actually planted the seeds of the idea and was doing quite well last summer and fall selling baked sweets at the local jockey lot. I intend to take that a step farther and offer not only her sweets but some savory things as well. If I can package it and sell it, it just might end up on my table. Everybody has to start somewhere, right?

Well, I’ve got potatoes frying and gravy to make and Paul has my pantry sounding like a war zone putting in some shelves made from recycled cabinet doors, so I better go see to all that! More to come!