Monday, 24 October 2016

cooking at home

homade made chicken doener, pita breads, garlic sauce & vegetables
As I am doing several courses at the moment I do not have a lot of time on my hands to waste on all kinds of stuff. But I do still cook for my family, I like cooking and baking, so most days I make all the meals from scratch for my family.

Home made chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream
Because of the courses that I do, 2 on nutrition and 1 on marketing, I have come to a realisation. Most people these days are very heavily influenced by the marketing and advertisements of food companies. Those companies want to sell their unhealthy products and make a lot of money. They had to create market. Itt is in their benefit to make making food seem like it is a LOT of work, NO FUN and very DIFFICULT. And NONE of that is true. Making food isn't a lot of work, actually when you learn how to do it well, as our ancestors did. For me that would be my parents and grandparents, but depending on which country you are from and how your family was, it may be that neither your parents and maybe not even your grandparents made most foods from scratch. So when you've grown up with that you may not be aware of the easy, time savings, money savings and the fun that it can be. I know a few families where food is rarely cooked as nobody has a proper clue on how to do things and they haven't learned in school either. It is quite sad at times to hear people talk about food. I also know of families where cooking isn't done because it would make the kitchen dirty or any of those ideas, it's really really a sad state of affairs.

So, despite having 4 home educated kids, doing 3 different courses and helping out my husband in his business I still make our food most days of the week. My husband does some other days and every now and then one of my kids makes food. It works out quite nicely this way. We also make sourdough bread, sauerkraut and other ferments. That doesn't mean it all always goes smooth, but it mostly does. It has actually been quite a while ago that we had take-away. We do occasionally have some pizza's or so, which are pre-made and we only have to bake in the oven. But my kids prefer home made pizza, so that is a rarity as well. I think in the last 2 months it happened once. And take-away is even longer ago.

When making your own food you have so many more possibilities than you have with processed foods. A pizza can have any type of topping you want. When I make home made pizza. I use 2 large baking sheets and put the dough on that - there are 7 mouths to feed in our house at present - then I put the pizza sauce (home made) on top and from there we have a selection of choices. Everyone can have some input. Frequently I make 2 different pizza's so that everyone is happy. And lastly we put the cheese on top. We rarely have left overs.
And then there is the pizza from the Alsace, which i learned about in Switzerland, flammkuchen. That is so tasty! It just has a sour cream / double cream topping, then onions and bacon bits on there and it goes in the oven. That also disappears very quickly and is so easy to make!

Futhermore there are any number of ways to make meats, roast, cook, fry, whatever. Any number of spices can be used to flavour them. For me garlic and onions are always on any meat. As that just makes it all so very tasty.

Vegetables. there is no limit on how you can make them. So much fun.

So despite the fact that the food companies have tried their best to make everyone think it is too much work, too difficult and no fun. I actually am convinced they are totally wrong. They are only doing this to sell their products. They have indoctrinated people into thinking this and it is patently not true. Making food is loads of fun. Especially when you do it together with family members. I prefer only have a few with me. Having 7 people in the kitchen isn't a workable situation LOL.
But having 1 or 2 people with me is really nice, you can chat about the day, or - as my husband and i often do - have a business meeting while preparing dinner.
And it is so much more tasty. You can use so many different natural ways to flavour your food. When I make chicken korma I make it the way I like it. The way I have had it from the take-away was quite a disappointment, as it also was from the supermarket. Loads of salt and not enough flavour. I have read up on korma dishes and found that the spices are where it is at. In India spices are the big thing anyway. We do not like the extreme hot spiciness from India, but we do like food from India. So when I make a dish from India I use less burn and keep the flavour.

Making soups is really easy as well. You can use any number of meats and vegetables and even mix them. You can blend or not. Whatever you like. I have a friend who tends to make a soup with the leftovers of the previous day and add some flavour that fits and there it is. Nothing difficult about that. She does always have home made broth going. So do I. There is always a broth going on the cooker or in the slow cooker.

Oh... and then the slow cooker. The most wonderful tool in the kitchen. Any stew and soup can be made in that. Cut the evening before. Keep in the fridge. Put in the slow cooker in the morning, and your dinner is done by the evening. How easy is that!

Now that I am so much more busy we actually pre-cut most of our foods on the weekend. This includes lettuce and such. The best way to keep all vegetables is in the fridge, all in separate bags or boxes. Meats all go in the freezers. I plan my meals ahead, so I know which vegetables keep longer and can be used later in the week. Some parts, that require that, we precook on the weekend already and then put in the fridge or freezer. I also make all my salad dressings on the weekend already, they keep just find in a former jam jar or such.

I recently read that Michael Pollan has said in an interview that he thinks that it is very difficult to get obese on home cooked food and I think he is very right with that. The people that I know that are doing a lot of home cooking are definitely not obese. Some may be a bit overweight, but none are to points where it becomes a big problem for their health.

I also think it is very important to teach children to cook. Mine are invited to be with me / us in the kitchen to help out from very young onward. My youngest is no 8, but she has been very good with even knives from about 6 onward. We have always let them help and all of them are very good with making foods. They all have their preferences, which is actually quite a blessing. It gives us a lot of variety. It is amazing to see the preferences between my husband, my oldest children and myself creating so many different types of foods and all similarly tasty.

My children do all loves hamburgers, pizza's, kebabs and all those things. There is no reason for them not to eat it. We just make it at home, unless there is a special occasion. But even then some of my children prefer the home cooked version.

So this is all really not that difficult when you look at it. In case you want me to talk more about specific parts of cooking at home. Please feel free to ask.

Monday, 10 October 2016

WAPF has a give-away!

The Weston A. Price foundation is giving away one full registration. This is amazing! It is the annual conference, Wise Traditions, held this year in Montgomery, Alabama November 11 - 13, with additional activities on November 14.

I would really love to go to the conference, but as it is in the USA there will be so many costs added that this has not been a possibility for me yet. I do hope to go some day. It sounds so good. I have seen various parts of the conference online and have always loved watching those. I do hope that I'll be able to afford watching the conference this year online again on Fleetwood.

To enter the give-away follow this link Conference give away and join. I wish you good luck and hope you win it!

Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question! I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Fleas

Ugh... I so hate fleas and so does my dog. Most years we have no trouble at all. But this year and last year we really had a problem. The reason for that is that our tenant left our house flea infested, and in a bad state overall when we had to evict our tenant,and that tends to become a battle for quite a while I have noticed. I have never had to deal with a flea infestation so it was quite a steep learning curve to get this sorted. We first tried silicon flea killers. It did work, but not to my satisfaction. Then we added the lights with the sticky paper below it. That worked as well and when I combined it with the silicon flea spray it was even better, but still not ideal as they were still there, just in a hugely minimised amount.

So earlier this year I actually resorted to using the drops in the neck of our dog, this stuff was called advantage. That actually worked well for a bit, but since they have come back, despite having done it for the amount of time recommended. I guess they became resistant to the stuff. So this wasn't all perfect either and because that stuff has a huge list of potential risky effects mentioned in the insert I really didn't want to use that again and I also wondered whether it would do the job again as I am thinking the fleas may have ended up resistant to the toxins used in the drops. So I went on a search and found something that I love! The ingredients are natural and non-toxic, that really works well for me. It also has no chance of creating resistance, what's more to want :-) 
And because I love it so much and because it works so well I really had to share with you all :-) So here it goes!

The first ingredient we need is Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (also called DE)
DE is powder, which is quite soft, is made up of the fossilised remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. It quite resembles dry clay powder. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Under a microscope, DE is quite sharp, therefore it punctures the exoskeleton of insects and therewith causing them to die because they dehydrate. DE kills insects by physical action, not chemical, which is awesome, because that means that they cannot become resistant to it. The DE particles are so small so it just feels like a fine soft clay to humans and pets. It is simply the mineral silica. Food grade, fresh water DE is harmless to humans and pets.  

Next we need Neem powder. Neem is a herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a very effective herbal insect repellent, repelling fleas, ticks, lice, mites, ants and mosquitoes. Neem has a natural active ingredients that makes it effective . One substance of neem is called azadirachtin, it disrupts the metamorphosis of insect larvae, which means that they do not mature. So by preventing them from molting, Neem keeps the larvae from becoming mature and they then die without creating babies. Azadirachtin seems to so repulsive to insects that they won't touch anything with traces of neem on it. They would rather starve to death. 
Another neem substance is called salannin and that is just as effective of a repellent. In a few studies, it’s been shown to be more effective at repelling biting insects than those repellents containing the chemical concoctions containing deet.
Neem also has many moisturising properties and helps get rid of excess dryness and scaling. It helps with irritated skin as it calms the skin. The anti-bacterial properties of neem prevent any subsequent skin infection. Because DE can be quite dehydrating, neem helps protect your pet from dry skin as a consequence of its usage.  

And then you need Yarrow powder. Yarrow has been used for a very long time and all over the globe. See my other post on yarrow. It is very well know as a wound healer. Therefore it is considered a sacred herb by many cultures. Yarrow also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is great with insect bites and skin conditions. It calms irritated skin. It is also anti-microbial and has pain relieving properties. Because pets with fleas tend to get secondary infections from flea bites, yarrow protects your pet from those and also helps calm the red, irritated skin that tends to happen because of the flea bites.  

And last we need Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus citriodoro). Eucalyptus oil is a natural bug and insect repellent. There is evidence that some of the components of eucalyptus oil are similarly effective as deet.  Eucalptus oil also has great antiseptic properties for healing after bites.  If you prefer you could substitute with tea tree oil. It works similarly. I just prefer the scent of eucalyptus.

So how do we make this. It is actually quite easy.

Here is the recipe for homemade flea powder:

Ingredients:
1 cup food grade diatomaceous earth
1/2 cup neem powder
1/2 cup yarrow powder
20 drops eucalyptus or tea tree essential oil, leave this out when you are using it for cats.

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and put it in a jar and shake. After that you need to find a way to get the powder distributed somewhat evenly over your house and pet. So a sieve or a flour sieve would work well. If you have a icing shaker jar or such, that would be ideal. 
Put it on your pet from head to tail alongside its spine while its coat is dry. Brush its fur going the opposite direction so the powder comes very well in contact with the skin. Make sure you avoid the eyes and nose. Rub the powder on the belly and legs. Try to get the flea powder on as much skin as you can.
Fleas like the warm areas of your pet, so they are more likely to be in the oxters and around the tail and on the belly, so make sure you get those areas well covered.

How often do we need to reapply this.
To use it during the normal flea season, spring/summer, just applying once a month should do. When your pet gets wet from the rain or so you need to reapply.  

If you have a flea infestation, like we ended up with.
Then you will need to do it more often. I have found once a week to be working well, but I have heard from people who do it daily to make it work. It just depends on how bad the infestation is I guess.
You will also need to put this flea powder to your floors, windowsills, door sills, your pets bed and such. Make sure you put it properly in the ares where your pet spends the most of its time, fleas and their eggs will be the mostly found in those areas. Just dust it over those areas in your house and leave it there. Vacuum the next day. Do this once a week for 4 weeks and you should be rid of them.   

I have read that this mix also works well against ticks and other insects. I haven't noticed that yet as our dog doesn't often end up with a tick. Usually once in a blue moon and we just remove it. So I'm not too fussed about that. 

I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you.