My Polyface Beauty (or Don't Hate Me Because I Live in Virginia)

This morning I roasted off this beautiful bird straight from Polyface Farms. Yes, my foodie friends, THAT Polyface Farms!

For those of you who don't know about Polyface Farms, Joel Salatin and his farm are rock stars in the sustainable, organic, holistic food community. Salatin has written a number of books (of which we own 3: Holy Cows and Hog Heaven , Family Friendly Farming and You Can Farm.) They have been featured in The Omnivore's Dilemma and the movies Food Inc. and Fresh.

We recently discovered that we live within Polyface's 4-Hour "foodshed" and therefore could join their buying club. Yippee! I picked up my first order the morning after I arrived home from California and this bird was in the batch. Isn't it lovely?

This will be dinner for the hubby and kids tonight while I am out eating a decidedly-less organic dinner with the MOMS Club girls. But hopefully there will be leftovers for me for lunch tomorrow.

Simple Roast Chicken

1 3-4 pound organic chicken
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t dried rosemary
1 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken in baking dish. Place lemons in cavity. Sprinkle with herbs and olive oil. Rub chicken to evenly coat. Roast for 45 - 60 minutes or until juices run clear.

(BTW, I took a small bite of the bird and it was amazing. God Bless you Joel.)

Decisions, decisions....

Tonight was salad night at our house. I had intended to try a recipe for Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing that I found online at a great blog called Kalyn's Kitchen. In order to make it, I needed to make a Buttermilk Ranch dressing first, as the Tomatillo dressing using it as a base. So, after making both dressings my kids informed me that they would not, under any circumstances, eat their chicken tenders with anything other than Honey Mustard. Of course, I was out of that so made yet another dressing for the table.

All of these were good, but the Tomatillo is especially nice. If you prefer, you can use a pre-made ranch dressing as the base (but homemade is much better for you.)

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (adapted from this recipe at Simply Recipes)

1 c buttermilk
1 c mayonnaise
1 t lemon juice
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t mustard powder
1/2 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1 t dried parsley
1 t dried dill (or dill/lemon mix)
1 green onion, sliced
Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Makes about 2 cups. Keeps for a week, covered in the fridge.

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing (adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)

2 c prepared Ranch Dressing
1 small bunch cilantro, large stems removed (about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro)
2 large or 4 small tomatillos
1/2 t minced garlic
2 T lime juice
1 t green tobasco sauce

Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups. Keeps for a week, covered in the fridge.

Quick Honey Mustard Dressing (My kids eat this stuff by the boatload. They dip anything and everything into it and I bet they would eat it by the spoonful if I let them.)

2 c mayonnaise
3 T prepared mustard
3 T honey or agave nectar

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.

Makes about 2 cups. Keeps for one week, covered in the fridge.

Frosted Sugar Free Oat and Walnut Cookies

So I am finally back at it in the kitchen and decided that we needed cookies. Yes folks, sometimes you just need a cookie. But in the spirit of taking care of myself I have attempted a sugar free cookie. There is nothing synthetic or fake about these cookies and they are pretty decent. They are an amalgum of two recipes: the cookie are adapted from a recipe in Baking with Agave Nectar and the frosting is a modification of a frosting from a neat-o blog called Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. Enjoy.

Frosted Sugar Free Oat and Walnut Cookies (Makes 28)

1/2 C firm tofu
1 T water
1/2 C butter
1 C dark agave nectar
1 t vanilla
1 C sprouted spelt flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
3 C rolled oats
1 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat open to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Add tofu and water to a food processor and pulse until pureed smooth. Set aside.

Add butter, agave and vanilla to bowl and mix with hand mixer until fluffy (about 1 minute). Add tofu and blend well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake until lightly golden brown (about 12 - 15 minutes). Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Eat cookies plain (Chris' preference) or frost with the following tart frosting (note that Chris wants more agave next time, but I like it as is):

4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 t dark agave nectar
1/2 t vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 C cold heavy cream

Whisk cream cheese, vanilla, agave and salt until smooth and light. In a seperate bowl, mix heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the stiffened cream ino the cream cheese mixture. Gently fold the remaining cream into cheese mix until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

On life, death and honoring oneself

Sorry to everyone for not blogging much this month. I have been busy - spring break, house hunting, MOMS Club, etc. I find I am on the computer a lot but never with enough time to actually put two thoughts together let alone write them down.

With our impending, unwanted move comes a lot of stress. And when I am in a stressful situation, I can easily slip back into unhealthy habits. I have been eating terribly these last few weeks and finally realized it a few days ago when I realized that not one single fruit nor vegetable had passed my lips the entire day. Seriously - not one bite of anything good and healthy for me. And when I thought about it, I realized how poorly I felt.

Light bulb.

I realized that I had been eating these last few weeks out of stress, not to nourish myself. It's funny really, since I actually knew it all along (I can rationalize eating or doing anything I want - I am a reasonable intelligent person after all.) I recalled so many instances of me thinking "Oh, just one meal of (insert toxic food here)" or "I know I shouldn't eat (sugary substance) but once won't hurt". For some reason I was making excuses for my poor behaviour while actively engaged in it. I was acting just like my kids when I ask them to put their toys away and they ignore me.

I decided that I needed to get back on the wagon and start treating myself right. I was energized, ready, confident that I could tackle the challenge. And then I found out that Elise died.

Elise is a friend from high school who suddenly passed away on Monday. I haven't spoken with her in years, but somehow her sudden passing has really thrown me for a loop. I have lost classmates to chronic disease and to accidents, but Elise just died. She went to bed and didn't wake up in the morning.

Oh sweet Jesus.

Initially I wasn't too upset about Elise, other than to be worried about friends who were closer to her. I processed her passing ("Oh, how sad.") and then I said to Daniel "let's get donuts this morning!". We then trotted off to have a breakfast of donuts and biscuits and anything else greasy and toxic we could bet our hands on. While at breakfast I kept thinking "stop! stop! stop!" but was somehow powerless. We ate our fill and when done, I actually thought I might get sick (and to be honest, I didn't eat all that much). Yuck.

It's now 48 hours later and I have had a bit of time to sit and think about the last few weeks and more importantly, the last few days. Why was I so upset about Elise (did I mention that I have burst into tears 3 times since Monday?) What made me treat myself so poorly? What can I take away from this?

Elise was a bit of a lost soul. She wanted so much to be loved and accepted that she made life choices that I found dangerous and therefore couldn't approve of. To anyone on the outside, Elise has quick to laugh and always so elegantly put together. But I know to herself, she was never quite good enough, smart enough or worthy of attention. She thought that she was utterly unloved yet so many of us are rattled by her passing. This discord between the inside and outside perceptions got me thinking.

A lot of thoughts have been rattling around in my head, but mostly I have been wondering about why we don't honor ourselves more. What is it inside of us (or me or Elise really) that makes us think we are somehow not worthy of treating ourselves properly. For me, it is how I treat my body. I didn't start nourishing myself with food until I was 40 years old. I have periods where I completely abandon my resolve and eat like a 15 year old. Elise had a pattern of entering into seriously unhealthy relationships that lead to a whole host of problems (and who knows, possibly her death). Why?

For someone who has a reasonably healthy level of self-esteem, I don't know what the answer is.

I also wondered if we do not honor ourselves by treating ourselves well, are we thereby not honoring God? What I mean by that is if we are not taking care of ourselves, are we then unable to reach our full potential as God as designed for us? I haven't thought this one entirely out yet, but my gut tells me that if we are not striving to be exactly who God meant for us to be, then we may be on the path to losing Him. That is beyond frightening for me.

So then, where am I at 48 hours later?

Well, I am shaken for sure but I am also resolved. Resolved to continue on the path to good health in all of its forms (eating right, sleeping well, loving my family more, etc.) I owe it to myself. I am worthy of being treated right. Elise was too. I am just sad that she never realized it.