Monthly Archives: March 2013

American politics, farming, charming visuals, and becoming recentered…

I think that one of my greatest frustrations with how the U.S. government works is that really awful riders can be attached to otherwise apparently-necessary bills, acts, laws, etc.  Earlier this week, when many folks were consumed (pro or con) by the conversation surrounding same-sex marriage being debated in the Supreme Court, the Agricultural Appropriations Bill was signed into law by President Obama.  In it was a rider that has been called “the Monsanto Protection Act” because it specifically protects that one giant chemical company — nearly single-handedly responsible for the chemicalization of American farming, and its resulting current and future destruction of environment and personal health — from litigation.  It passed the Senate and the House with many legislators not even knowing such a rider was included.  The way these giant bills frequently slip through the cracks is that a Senator might say, “Well, I agree with 80% of what is in this bill, so I will vote for it.”  Or, a Representative might have his or her own “attachment” that they’ve managed to slip into a detailed, hundreds-of-pages bill, and that one attachment is specifically important to the rep’s corner of their own state.  So, they say, “I can’t tell my people that I voted against this measure which is so vital to our state’s interests.”  So, even if they disagree with 98% of the bill, if there is a tiny corner of that bill which is of specific significance to that Representative, they may vote to pass it.

And, so the Agricultural Appropriations Bill with its enclosed “Monsanto Protection Act” passed this week.

Here’s where my thoughts have been going:

In a way — a small way — I’m kind of pleased.

Not about the “Monsanto Act” in particular, which I find horrid, gut-wrenching, and worrisome, but because my Facebook feed has been abuzz with, “HOW COULD OBAMA DO THIS???”

I’ll admit:  I’m a Republican.  However, since issues of the environment, food production, health, and farming are near and dear to my heart, there are a number of political websites I frequent which are, shall we say, not friendly to the general Republican cause.  I’m OK with that.  I don’t need to identify with the entire Republican platform.

Actually, I’ve felt for quite a while that there is no political “slot” into which I neatly fit.  Not the Republican Party, not the Democratic.  Not Libertarian.  Not Green.  Not the Tea Party.  No where, really, that I’ve been able to find.  I’m too liberal for the Republicans.  Too conservative for the Democrats.  Too convinced by the general goodness of the rule of law for the Libertarians.  I’m not angry enough — or Socialistic enough — for the Green Party.  Not fearful enough for the Tea Party.*

And, to an extent, I’m pragmatic like the Legislators I vilified above:  If I agree with, say, 60% of what the Republican Party generally stands for, I’ll often vote along with them…  I do see the irony.

Anyhow, in the more liberal edges of politics, to which I pay at least some attention, the consensus seems to be general, heart-broken disappointment with our President.

And, I’m OK with that.

From the very, very beginning of his campaign, back in 2008, the thing that bothered me most — more than any political stance, more than any stated goal, more than his “Democrat-ness” — is that he set himself on a pedestal as the HOPE for our nation.  It was his campaign slogan, for crying out loud!

Obama is not the hope of our nation.

Hope in a person routinely leads to disillusionment.

I’m OK with folks becoming disillusioned to the Obama administration.

I saw this, this morning in my Facebook feed:

Now, I’ll admit:  If you put a grassy field, a blue sky, and some freshly shorn sheep on a picture, I’ll probably like it, no matter what the words attached may be.

But the verse — John 10:11 — brought me back to the main and plain, the core of my existence:  My hope is in the Good Shepherd.  And He’s a good leader who does not disappoint.  He doesn’t do stuff that is 40% awful and heartbreaking and 60% good.  HE IS GOODNESS ITSELF.  And what’s more:  He’s a peaceful, but powerful and sacrificial leader.

He’s the one whom I follow.

There are some practicalities with being involved in the political system;  I’m not saying that I’m going to stick my head in the sand and never call my state Senator, never sign another petition (I favor real-life petitions, by the way), and quit voting.  I’m not even going to stop speaking out about issues that are important to me.

But, since a bit of doom and gloom and fear for the future of my country has weaseled its way into my mind and heart this week, I did need the reminder this morning of my Good Shepherd.  My GOOD Shepherd.

And may His peace, His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom be a comfort to you as well, my friends, as you contemplate your own future, and that of your own country.

——————–

*I’m sorry if this offends;  it’s my opinion and perspective of each party as it relates to my own beliefs and convictions.

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Hyper-nesting, time well-spent (or not), and hearing from God…

I have a one-ish track mind.  I tend to bunch my thoughts, my efforts together in one spot…  Right now, even though I’m 26 weeks pregnant, and one might think I have, “BABY BABY BABY,” going through my mind, it’s not.

Actually, that’s somewhat of a good thing.

Historically, I start nesting somewhere around five weeks pregnant and it’s all I can do to remain focused and engaged with the rest of my life, responsibilities included, for the whole pregnancy.  I tend to spend eight solid months with a nearly compulsive bent toward thinking, dreaming, planning, preparing, for my new baby.  I put a huge amount of emotional investment and TIME into it.  On one hand, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  But, when I have other children who need mothering and schooling; when I have a home that needs cleaning and maintenance; when I have a husband who shouldn’t have to fight for my attention; when I have responsibilities at church that need me to NOT be thinking, “I sssooooo don’t want to be doing this;” when I have friends who merit attention, my hyper-nesting isn’t that great of a thing.

So, for me, the fact that this is on the back burner of my mind:  I’m going to be adding an 8th member to our family in three months or so…  is rather a blessing.  I’m not struggling like I usually do with wanting to drop everything and become a hermit in my home and feeling VERY CRABBY that there are other parts of my life that are calling.

I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone.

I, for one, though, am very happy to feel ENGAGED with the world at 26 weeks pregnant*.

No, this is not me. It’s Emily Robinson from the Dixie Chicks, playing a dobro.

  • We’re still doing school (though I am REALLY looking forward to our Easter Break next week).
  • My home is quite tidy (most of it).
  • I’m still leading worship in a weekly small group (though I joked that I might need to obtain a dobro sometime in the near future to accommodate my expanding belly).
  • I’m still leading worship twice a month for SuperChurch (the 6-12 year-olds’ Sunday morning service).
  • I’m still singing with the “big church” worship team two or three Sundays a month (I keep telling myself that I probably look ridiculous dancing…  Oh, well.).
  • I’m still hosting the weekly CSA at my home, and even just decided that I’m going to do at least another 12 weeks, shortly after the current season ends on May 1 (even though I’ll have to find an alternate location for while I’m in labor…).
  • If anything, I feel MORE connected to both my husband and our five children during this pregnancy.  I also feel more peaceful.  This is probably my happiest pregnancy ever.

Knowing my history, I wasn’t sure, three months ago or so, that I should do the CSA.  I often start well, but don’t finish strong.  I get all fired up for one project or another, then start to lose steam…  I was more than a bit concerned that this would be a similar endeavor, and then, when I lost focus and dropped the project, not only would I pay for it, but so would the 25 or so other people who were counting on me, and their families…

Also… and this is hard to communicate;  I can’t grasp the right descriptive words…  But, I was uncertain if the CSA was where God wanted me to invest my time.  I long to be fruitful.  I want the things I do to have lasting impact.  I want my time to be well-spent.  I want my involvement with others to have more than just a tinge of “ministry”.  I mean… not that I’m trying to make this The Christian CSA with a prayer corner, worship music in the background, and Bible verses plastered all over my fridge — not that at all.  But, I wanted this to be worthwhile in every sphere, and I wasn’t certain if hosting the CSA was a good choice in how to spend my time — time which often feels spread too thinly as it is.

So, I prayed about it.  “Is this where you want me, God?  Is this OK?”

I got no discernible response.  I’m not saying God didn’t speak, but if He did, I missed it.  I didn’t even feel vaguely “led” one way or another.

I asked my husband — who is well-acquainted with my tendency to rush into projects hard and fast and then feel overwhelmed — what he thought.  Honestly, I was a little surprised that he seemed to think favorably about the whole thing.

It didn’t seem like God was telling me, “No,” although a nice, clear, resounding, “YES!” would have made me feel much more confident.

So, I went with my husband’s approval.

Well.

I guess I had previously felt that I was hosting the CSA for my own personal benefit.  I mean, from the bottom of my heart, I truly want to equip others to eat better.  But, I was kind of compelled more by the fact that I would get roughly $40 worth of local, fresh, organic produce for FREE each week, plus earn $1 per person, per week for what seemed like very little time.

I was wrong on nearly all accounts.

In the six weeks the CSA has been operational:

  • A couple of weeks, I’ve gotten much less than $40 worth.  The remaining time I’ve received FAR more.  We’re rolling in veggies, which pleases me to no end.
  • I anticipated making around $40/week, thinking we’d have that many participants.  However, we started with only 16, and are now up to 24.  So, I am not making even enough money to pay the midwife each month, which was my thought going into it.
  • It takes much more time than I realized it would.  Not only do I devote time “on the ground” from 2:00 – 5:30 every Wednesday, but there is a lot of communication and planning involved, too.  I probably spend an additional 3-3½ hours weekly, often more.  Seven hours total every week may not seem like a lot to you, but in my world, subtracting seven hours from other things that I could be doing??  That’s huge.  That’s a big commitment.

Much more significant, though, is how I have been absolutely surprised by the positive feedback I’ve received from so many of the participants.

I was thinking recently about how, when I started blogging more than seven years ago, I was just compelled to write.  It was 100% for my own benefit.  I saw blogging as an online version of journaling:  simply documenting the time and thoughts as they passed.  I wasn’t trying to gather an admiring crowd.  I wasn’t trying to change the world.  I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or even benefit them.  I just wanted to write.

Similarly, with the CSA:  I just wanted some veggies.  Some free, organic veggies.

But with both endeavors, I have been very taken aback by the genuine thanks, the more-than-occasional encouraging note, the thoughtful gestures that have come my way…  I never thought — not once — that hosting a produce-pickup was going to make a difference in anyone’s life;  I entered into it as rather an indulgence in something of significant interest to me.  But, similar to how I am now compelled to continue blogging by the random e-mails that will start off, “Thank you for your post on ______________ .  I was in tears because of my situation of __________.  I stumbled upon your post, and it was just what I needed, and here’s how it affected me:  ______________.  It was just what I needed and I can’t tell you how thankful I am.” — I am now compelled to continue the CSA due to letters like this (shared with permission):

You’re a good friend Karen – even if “long distance”. I don’t think I would have stepped into organic thinking without your help and encouragement. The rest of my extended family think I’m nuts…a super picky eater or whatever. But I have strong convictions to take care of the body God blessed me with and it brings joy to my heart hearing my kids happily talk about healthy vegetables during mealtimes! It’s sad. I never knew any fresh vegetables except iceberg lettuce when I was a kid…nothing but canned and always over cooked. Surprisingly I took after my grandma it seems in how I feel about my health and she lived to be 70 even after smoking for 20 years of her life! She found Jesus, quit smoking & drinking cold turkey and lived a life of joy I still remember this day. I guess I’m sharing just to show my appreciation for you Karen. You have made a difference in my life too. I Love you friend.

That made me cry.  It also made me think that maybe why God was so silent was because He knew that I was just looking for Him to say, “Yes, it’s OK with me that you have this interest, and yes, it’s OK with me that you invest your time here.”  I was just looking for permission.  But He was setting me up.

I sent an e-mail of thanks back to my friend and asked her if I could put her story on my blog.  She didn’t immediately respond and I got nervous.  But, when her reply came, the tears flowed anew.

I would be honored to be a story in your blog – Please feel free to write whatever you wish! Amazing…Our Lord God never fails to love and “push” us into His most blessed plan if just choose to submit! Love you,  your thoughts & prayers are never wasted.

“Never wasted.”

I’m an ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale…  If you click on that link, at least 95% of it is me, to a T.

  • They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks.
  • They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are “good citizens” who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun – especially at family or work-related gatherings.
  • The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don’t make sense to them, or for which they can’t see a practical application.
  • Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.
  • Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families.
  • They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations.

It has actually been quite a while since I reviewed what I’m “supposed” to be like as an Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger.  But, re-reading that descriptive page makes me appreciate God more:  He who made me knows who I am.  He knows what I need.  He knows what brings me joy.  He knows what will surprise me.  He knows how to stretch me without breaking me.  And He knows just the right time to bring encouragement to me…

—————–

*It recently came to my attention that I never stated what this child will be:  SHE IS A GIRL.  My husband was 100% right.  Not only was I pregnant, but the baby is a girl.

 

 

Pretend you’re a part of my CSA — here are some info sheets with recipes for you!

One of my most FAVORITE discoveries of this CSA season: Crisp, mild, delicious Hakurei turnips.  Pic borrowed from the blog Cibo e Familia (Food and Family) who also discovered Hakurei turnips via her own CSA!

Every week I make info sheets for my CSA members.  We receive eight different items and I choose three of them to highlight — usually the more unusual items in the week’s basket.  It might be a long shot, but I thought maybe y’all would be interested to take a peek, either to see what you’re missing, or to give you ideas on how to use some more uncommon produce items!

Click each date for a Word document.

Week of 02/13/13 — Featuring Romanesco, Hakurei turnips, and Swiss chard.

Week of 02/20/13 — Featuring Wheatberries*, Tuscano kale, and fresh Fennel.

Week of 02/27/13 — Featuring Broccoli di Ciccio, Mizuna, and Cilantro.

Week of 03/06/13 — Ummm… I accidentally did a “save” instead of “save as” while writing over the top of this document and lost it.  It featured Mustard greens, as well as more ideas for Mizuna and Cilantro — the last two ended up NOT being in our basket for that week, after all…  Instead were Red Russian Kale and new-to-me Quelites (which is a spinach-like leaf of the young quinoa plant).

Week of 03/13/13 — Featuring a recipe for Easter Egg Radishes and Cilantro, as well as info and recipes for Dried Red Chiles and Dried Beans.

—————–

*As in, whole grain wheat.  I didn’t partake, obviously, but provided preparation ideas and recipes for others who could!

Update on my pregnant, celiac, low-ish carb, almost-Paleo “diet”

I hate to call any food endeavor on which I embark a “diet”.

But, I guess how I’ve been eating for the last 3+ weeks qualifies, since I’m counting carbs.

It took me a bit, but I figured out that I need at least 80 net carbs daily to NOT lose weight.  My goal is NOT to lose weight;  it’s to maintain or to gain weight more slowly.   By 21 weeks, I had gained 22 lbs.  Once my morning sickness was over (bless God) I was packing on two pounds a week, all while eating GOOD FOOD.  Now, I’m eating MORE good food, but fewer carbs.

Here’s my history:

  • I have veinous problems.  I have varicose veins including up into my lower abdomen.  More weight gain is even harder on weak veins.  And my particular kind of veins increase my risk (moderately) of hemorrhaging during birth.  Not good.
  • I also want to limit the stress on my heart during pregnancy by limiting weight gain.  (I have Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, which is fairly benign, but worrying symptoms ramp up during pregnancy.)
  • I have a history of macrosomic babies.  My smallest was 8 lbs 13 oz.  My largest?  10 lbs even.  Large babies increase one’s risk of hemorrhage.
  • This is my 6th baby.  For every baby >5, a mother’s risk for hemorrhage increases quite dramatically.
  • I am planning a home birth and want to maximize my chances for success — to actually BIRTH in our home, not have to transfer due to blood loss.
  • I did a similar diet under an OB for my last birth — I gained zero weight from weeks 28 onward — and the baby was STILL 8 lbs 13 oz.
  • I have never had gestational diabetes but for baby #5, my oral glucose test (the nasty syrup) was “borderline-borderline” for GD, and I figured that a lower carb, no-sugar, high-protein diet wouldn’t hurt anything.  It didn’t.  🙂
  • In pregnancies #1-4, I gained 37-50 lbs each, ALL WHILE EATING A HEALTHY, WHOLE-FOODS DIET.  My first OB told me that, for some women, their bodies go into “starvation mode” and operate with extreme efficiency, grabbing onto everything it possibly can and storing it as fat.  He was pretty certain that that is what my body does.  I did a food diary for him for a month (as I recall — it was 16 years ago!) and he was impressed with my diet.  The only thing he recommended was taking out fruit.  I didn’t, which is why I probably gained those 50 lbs.
  • With pregnancy #5, on the lower-carb diet, I gained a total of 17 lbs, produced that 8 lb 13 oz baby, and recovery was immeasurably smoother for me, post-pregnancy.  It was fairly easy to lose that extra 10 lbs, as opposed to being faced with a whopping 40 lbs to lose.  I didn’t even have to try to lose those 10 lbs.  They just melted off with a return to my regular metabolism, plus nursing.

For this pregnancy, in a couple of weeks, my midwife — who does offer the syrup-based oral glucose test, which I declined — is going to test how my body handles a “normal”/high amount of carbs via a large meal.  I’ll go into her office at 7:30 a.m., and we’ll do a blood draw and test my blood-sugar levels.  (She’s also going to re-test a couple of other things that were abnormal in an earlier blood test.)  Then, I’ll go home and eat a “regular” breakfast — not one that contains 100 grams of glucose like the oral glucose test though it will be higher in carbs than I would normally eat for breakfast;  I’ll probably eat eggs and a homemade muffin or two and shoot for 50 g carbs or so.  Then, she’ll re-test my blood at 10:30.

We’re testing mostly out of curiosity.  No matter what the results are, I’ll still maintain my current diet.

So, what am I doing in this “current diet”?

I am:

  • Eating about 75-100 grams of protein daily, which is very similar to the Brewer/Blue Ribbon Baby Diet.  (However, I’m not tracking my protein consumption down to the gram.)  I eat 3-4 eggs every breakfast.  I eat meat at lunch and dinner.  My snacks tend to be high-protein, as well — nut-based or plain yogurt.
  • Limiting myself to about 80 grams non-fiber carbs daily.  (I have discovered that with fewer than 80g, I lose weight, which is not the goal.)
  • Eating an additional 30+ grams of dietary fiber carbs daily.
  • Eating at least NINE servings of veggies daily.
  • NOT tracking fat consumption.  At all.  In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that this is a high-fat diet.
  • Sticking to foods that are MOSTLY Paleo:  veggies and meats.  However, I do eat some dairy and some legumes, which most people eating a strict Paleo diet, don’t.  Many Paleo adherents don’t eat any nightshades, either:  tomatoes, potatoes, etc.  I eat virtually no potatoes, but I often eat tomatoes.  I’m not avoiding nightshades.  (In a Paleo diet, the goal is to train your body to burn FAT for energy, and for it to NOT rely on sugar-carbs for energy.  That is how one can eat a high-fat diet and not gain weight.  A Paleo diet is also healthy, long-term, for one’s pancreas as it profoundly limits blood-sugar.)
  • NOT counting calories.
  • Keeping my sugar-intake extremely limited.  This is all sugars, including honey and naturally-occurring sugars in fruit.
  • Drinking 80-100 ounces of water daily.  This is in ADDITION to other liquids I may drink.  I actually shoot for a gallon of water daily (128 ounces) but rarely hit that goal.
  • Taking supplements in addition to the foods I eat:  6400 IU vitamin D, 1000 mg cod liver oil, 1200 mg calcium, 600 mg magnesium, 250 mg Horse Chestnut extract, a multivitamin, and 500 mg vitamin C.  Some of them are chewables, which accounts for the 3g carbs for my vitamins if you view my sample daily diet PDF.  If I take an extra vitamin C chewable, that adds another 2g carbs.

Plain, whole milk yogurt with blueberries: My frequent sub for ice cream at the end of the day.

Here is a sample of what I eat, daily (click for PDF).  A few notes:

  • Yes, I drink coffee.  Two mugs of half-caff.  I put organic half & half in it, along with stevia.
  • I do use a kitchen scale for many foods.
  • I use this website:  Self NutritionData to calculate the content of most of my foods.
  • I usually don’t include ingredients in my daily tally, but on the opposite page of my spiral notebook, I do some serious figuring to many recipes in order to figure out the carb and fiber grams per serving.  Yes, this does require some math.  No, I don’t mind.
  • Some things I have to estimate.  For instance, we go out to eat about twice a month.  I made a rough estimate of 60 grams carbs plus 10 grams fiber for a recent (splurge!) lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  This was for beans, corn tortillas, and some tortilla chips that went along with my shredded beef tacos.  But…  some restaurants — chains, especially — publish their nutrition data online.  For instance, I ate a Double-Double Protein Style Animal Style (with “wheat allergy” noted) at In ‘N’ Out Burger.  No fries.  I drank water.  That felt like a splurge, but I found out online that it as only 8g carbs plus 3g fiber.
  • My go-to snacks:
    • Organic celery sticks with sunflower butter (I get sunflower butter from Trader Joe’s.  Yes, it has a small amount of sugar in it).
    • A half, large avocado
    • A handful (two ounces) of raw almonds
    • There are a few gluten-free, low-sugar, high-fiber snack or protein bars — like ProMax LS or ThinkThin Or Kit’s Raw Organic — and I do buy a few of these to eat in a pinch.  But, I tend to shy from packaged snacks.
    • At the end of the day, especially if I need more carbs, I will sit down with a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries or — if my carb count has been REALLY low for the day — 1/2 cup of g.f. granola.  It’s odd to consider, but if you truly stick with virtually all veggies, nuts, and meat during the  day, by the end of the day, you will have to eat a relatively carb-heavy snack or meal to KEEP yourself from losing weight.
    • I will admit that, once this month, I splurged at Yogurtini.  I eat frozen yogurt about once a month from the store.  Yogurtini’s no-sugar-added flavors do NOT contain aspartame (they are sweetened with maltodextrin, sucralose, or other “non-sugar” sweeteners) but they DO contain artificial colors.  This is not a choice that anyone should make on a regular basis, but I’m just keepin’ it real and honest here and admitting to my yogurt consumption.  One five ounce serving (including a scoop of fresh blueberries) ran me about 22 g carbs and 7 g fiber.

 

To each her own opinion of herbs…

I’ve been newly employed this year as a coordinator for a CSA — a farm share program.  For the last four weeks, folks have picked up their locally-farmed, organic produce at my home every Wednesday afternoon.  It has been more work than I had anticipated, mostly in managing everyone’s quirks and preferences and keeping everyone happy.  I’m not very good at that, in my own nature, but I’m trying and I’m learning.

Something that I am coming to understand is that, no matter what, some people are just thankful and pleased, and others are just grumpy.  Blessedly, I have many more of the “thankful and pleased” sort of folks:  I have received many genuine thanks, both spoken and in e-mail, from our now-24 members for the efforts that I’m making on their behalf.  That’s endlessly encouraging.

Beautiful Red Russian kale

I participated for a couple of years in a different CSA and this particular one — through single-farmer-owned Crooked Sky Farms — is excellent.  They wash and portion-out everyone’s share.  There have been a few missteps, but generally communication has been excellent.  There’s a weekly trade basket, so if you don’t want Red Russian Kale, for example, you can trade it in and pick out three navel oranges instead.  The farm — including one particular employee, who rather runs the place — works diligently to satisfy everyone’s needs, as best as she can.  For instance:  Even though every week’s share is eight portions of in-season produce, the most that any one particular thing has been repeated is once;  the farm is mindful of trying to provide as much variety as possible.  So, in our four weeks, 32 portions total now, the most we’ve seen any one thing is twice.

On my end, too, I do my very best to take care of everyone’s needs:  Letting them come early, letting them pick up late, using my personal share to supplement theirs if something runs short, making note of what they like or don’t, compiling weekly documents that contain info and recipes for the produce that might be less familiar, communicating regularly via e-mail, etc.

I’m not trying to pat myself on the back too hard, but I think both the farm and myself are doing a good job.

Yesterday, though, one woman was fairly incensed about something and freely expressed her dissatisfaction to me.  “What??  Dill again??  I didn’t even use nearly all my dill last time and I think that’s kind of like cheating when a small bunch of herbs is included as part of our share.  It’s so small, and you can hardly use it.  That’s why I stopped participating in the CSA last time, because they kept giving us too many herbs.”

I just listened to her, and then suggested that she trade it in.  However, as she was one of the last people picking up, the trade basket only had curly mustard greens and arugula in it, in addition to more dill, and she didn’t want those, either.  She just puffed her disappointment and left.

I tried to let her words roll off.  “Not gonna make everyone happy…” I thought.  It was only the second time in four weeks that we’d received dill and only one of the eight things weekly have been herbs;  I don’t think that’s excessive.  But I do understand her sentiment;  I’d probably rather have a big bunch of carrots than a bunch of dill, even if the portion of dill is generous — and it is;  it’s probably 4-5 times what would be in those little plastic packs of fresh organic herbs which you can find in the grocery store produce department.

Still, though… After she left, I felt a little emotionally bruised.

Then, the next person came in to pick up her produce.  She had started a little late in the season;  this was only her second time picking up produce.  “Oooh, is that dill?” she asked, eyes wide, pinching a leaf and sampling it, “It is!  I love dill.  I could smell it before I even tasted it.”  She clutched the dill to her chest.  “To me, dill smells of home and my mother…”  She went on to tell me that her mother — now sadly deceased — used to regularly make homemade bread using fresh dill, and it was one of her favorite memories and favorite smells.  She firmly stated she would be making some fresh dill bread the next day….

She seemed close to tears.

I thought of that woman’s own daughter, and how this bit of herbs in her hand would be the vehicle to pass on a treasured childhood memory to the next generation.

I was then close to tears.

That interaction erased the negative words of the previous CSA member.  It felt… powerful and perfect.

She sent me a follow-up message later in the evening:

I was serious about the smell of dill…it is home and momma and love and snuggles on a cold winter night to me…made me cry actually and now relishing all the sweet memories it brings…cant wait to make that dill bread tomorrow… csa is more than veggies, for sure.

If anyone else complains about dill, it will be water off a duck’s back, for certain.  It’s all worth it, grumpy customers included.

Do you make your own babyfood?

I do.

Here’s part of a message I wrote to a friend, who has an 11 month-old with NO teeth, and is trying to figure out some non-milk ways to add protein to his diet.

For little ones, this sounds a little crazy, but I like serving beans. Of course, too much beans will make anyone gassy… But a small amount is a great source of protein. Garbanzo beans are the least gassy of all beans and have a very mild flavor that is appealing to most babies.

If you can find them, old-fashioned metal ice cube trays that feature a little loosening bar/contraption work even better.

Also, you can use a blender or mini food processor to mash up beans and even meat. It’s really easy, actually, to make your own baby food. Put some cooked brown rice, some cooked beef (stewed works well), some cooked garbanzo beans, and some spinach — raw or cooked — into the blender (or some other healthy combination you think he’ll like — cooked squash, chicken, oatmeal is another idea, or plain yogurt*, blueberries, and oatmeal) and blend to process. Put it in an ice cube tray, and when frozen, pop out and put the cubes in a Ziploc. Then you’ll have quick little portions. I’ve even saved store-bought babyfood jars, and in the a.m., put 2-3 cubes in the jar in the a.m., and by lunch time, they’re thawed and ready to eat.

When I make babyfood, I will often just set aside an unseasoned portion of whatever I’m making for the family either to grind up for baby’s dinner that night OR I’ll save brown rice one night, beef the next, squash the next, etc. and then when I have small bowls in the fridge of a good babyfood combo, I will put them in the blender and make the babyfood.

I do that, though, because I’m cheap + healthy. Gerber and Beechnut typically have so many crappy additives, especially in the stage 2 & 3 meals, but the organic baby food is SUPER expensive. And once you get in the habit, it literally is about five minutes extra of your time to make and freeze babyfood cubes.

For babies younger than 11 months, it’s even simpler, as you should only use one food at a time — steamed carrots, baked squash, etc.  When your baby is around 7-8 months, they can usually tolerate a simple combination of two foods at a time.  The older they grow, the better able they are, typically, to digest more complex food.

Making your own babyfood is more trendy than when I started to do it, nearly  15 years ago.  Responding to consumers, the are now a number of babyfood cookbooks, “kits”, and other supplies… Although I love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, I find most of that stuff to be kind of a waste of money.  Just take plain versions of what YOU eat — provided that you eat healthy, whole foods — and prepare it as babyfood.  Voila!  No cookbook needed.  And if you have a blender or a mini-prep food processor and some ice cube trays, you don’t need any special gadgets.

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*And, yes, I know I just said “non-milk” and there was a reference to yogurt in there.  It appears that her little one MIGHT have a sensitivity to milk — but milk sensitivities can be tricky.  Is it just lactose?  Lactose is milk sugar.  In honest, fully cultured yogurt, there is virtually no lactose;  the yogurt cultures “eat” the milk sugar, and the resulting fully cultured yogurt has no lactose.  Same with hard, aged cheeses — like cheddar.  The process eliminates lactose.  But, if a child has a sensitivity to casein or whey or another milk protein, you’re up a creek, and even yogurt won’t help;  you have to quit all milk products altogether.

 

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