Category Archives: On the Journey

spelt

Grinding My Own Grain!

My husband bought me a grain grinder for my birthday.

I’m really not sure what this says about me. But between the grain grinder and the backyard chickens, I sense that I’m crossing some sort of line. Some line manned by alternative hippy dippies and paranoid survivalists. (Is this a bad time to mention that I haven’t used conventional deodorant in over a year? I swear, I don’t stink though.)

Anyway, I now grind my own grain. I fantasized aloud back in September about how nice it would be to have freshly ground grain – since it tastes so much better that way. And then my supply at Whole Foods dried up. For over 5 months they had no whole grain spelt.

So my husband bought me a grain grinder for my birthday!

It’s a Wonder Mill Jr. It’s hand powered, not electric, because I thought it would be more durable. Theoretically, this thing should last my lifetime and beyond! You can buy an attachment to use your drill to do the grinding, but we haven’t tried that out. So far it’s just been manual labor all the way. But I have two slaves children to do said manual labor, so it’s not so bad!

One slave child is particularly enthusiastic about the grinding.

IMG_4991 grinding spelt

Grind baby grind!

spelt

We have this policy of whoever walks into the back room (where the grinder is set up) has to do a few cranks on the grinder. This started out working great, but lately production has dramatically dropped. (I’m going to have to break out the whips soon.)

I bought a ridiculous amount of spelt berries from a farm in Idaho. $50 for 50 lb, which is really good. Unfortunately, the shipping cost as much as the spelt – which is NOT so good! After this runs out, my next goal is to find a source that’s more local so that I don’t have to spend an arm and a leg just to get it to me.

spelt spelt

I poured it into two buckets with air-tight lids. The whole berries should keep this way indefinitely.

spelt spelt

And the verdict? Is there really a difference between freshly ground and store bought flour?

Yes! I’ve so far made biscuits, banana bread, dumplings (chicken and dumplings), cookies, and rolls with the flour, and they all taste noticeably better! They’re light and tender and delicious! I have noticed that some of the ratios are different, though. For example, my biscuits take much less liquid with the freshly ground flour than the pre-ground stuff.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to buy a grinder and start grinding their own grain. The VitaSpelt from Whole Foods worked just fine for me before they stopped selling it. (The Bob’s Red Mill brand spelt, however, tastes AWFUL. Truly, truly awful. Don’t bother with it.) But if anyone out there is curious and does want to, I can testify that it is worth it and is delicious. And we’ve been very happy with the Wonder Mill. I suspect it will outlast me on this planet.

And, don’t worry. I don’t really think owning a grain mill actually makes you a paranoid survivalist. (Unless you also have a cellar full of canned goods and a stockpile of weapons. Then you might be.) But it DOES make you one seriously good cook!

 

 

 

cider vinegar drink

Healing Vinegar Drink to Ease Joint Pain

So, you’ve fallen off the wagon? Or perhaps the holidays were a little more indulgent than you planned? And now you’re paying for it. You’re paying for it with joint pain and stiff joints when you wake up in the morning. Maybe you’re also paying for it with not-so-nice tummy feelings as well. You know that getting back on the anti-inflammation wagon will fix things up again…but is there anything else you can do to speed the process?

Yes! There is!

This is something that I’ve been doing for about a year on a regular basis, but especially during flare-ups of joint or digestive discomfort. It’s a drink made with two joint-support powerhouses: raw apple cider vinegar, and gelatin/collagen!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What kind of maniac DRINKS vinegar!?” Well, I’m not suggesting you just down the stuff straight, of course. When you combine a tablespoon or two in a glass of apple cider, it just tastes like apple cider that has started to ferment. Just a little tangy. It’s perfectly palatable that way. I’ve even started to crave it at times.

Take this twice a day, morning and night – or more, if you feel like it. If you want this to help specifically with digestive problems as well as joint pain, take this before meals, but otherwise it doesn’t matter if you take it with food or without. Now, if you’ve accumulated a ton of inflammation and have been eating a lot of bad-for-you foods for a long time – then it will take a little while for you to feel that this is helping. It will be helping, but you might not feel it at first; you’ll have to take it regularly for several weeks, combined with a clean diet, to start feeling relief. However, it will speed it up faster than just clean eating alone. If you’ve just had a little blip of bad food choices, though, and are feeling the results in your body, this should start to help you right away as you return to your standard good food choices!

Assembling your drink. (It’s not rocket science folks.)

Since you have to be careful how much fruit juice you drink when you’re managing inflammation, I always start out with the glass half or 3/4 full of water first.

vinegar drink

Then fill it the rest of the way with apple cider or unfiltered apple juice…

cider vinegar drink

and pour in a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar. This has to be the good raw kind – like Braggs – not the pasteurized stuff.

vinegar drink

Then I stir in a tablespoon or so of gelatin. It has to be a special kind of gelatin, though, called collagen hydrosylate. It dissolves completely in both hot and cold liquid, so you can add it to anything you want. I suggest Great Lakes brand – the kind that comes in the green can. (You can order it here in bulk, or in individual quantities from Amazon.) Stir it in right away until dissolved.

vinegar drink

That’s it. Since I get a little paranoid about if the vinegar might be eating away at my teeth, for good measure I also rinse out with water after I finish drinking it.

There are other benefits to this drink beyond just joint support, of course. The gelatin is good for joints, skin, hair, and soothing the intestine. Apple cider vinegar is known to be good for a wide variety of things. I personally have found it to help with digestive discomfort, heartburn, and healing faster from a sore throat. So, this can help you in many ways – not only in soothing achy fingers!

 

liver

Liver Pills (or, How To Eat Liver If You Think It’s Gross)

Liver.

For more than a year, I’ve had a liver sitting in my freezer. I got it as part of my meat share, from a grass-fed cow raised on a local farm. It’s just been sitting there, a big lump wrapped in butcher paper, getting in the way of the food I actually want to eat. I finally shoved it down into the darkest, deepest corner of the freezer to get it out of the way, and tried to forget about it.

But, I never really did forget about it, because I knew that it was good for me. Like..super, duper, one-of-the-best-foods-a-person-could-eat good for me. Liver is one of the best sources of iron, as well as Vitamin A and all the B vitamins (B-12 in particular), and a mysterious “anti-fatigue” element that dramatically increases energy and stamina. Surely, I had to find a way to get this stuff into my body.

But every time I thought about it, I just shuddered and then quickly shoved the thought into the same deep, dark corner in which the liver was languishing in my freezer. I just couldn’t face it.

Well, folks, I finally faced it. Two weeks ago, knowing that my health is still on the mend from adrenal fatigue and that I needed extra support with winter coming on, I decided I should take advantage of the wonder-food I had hidden in my freezer. I recalled an article I read once about someone turning their liver into easy-to-palate frozen liver pills – things you could just pop in your mouth and swallow down with juice. So I thought, “I can do that,” and set out to transform my lump of scary organ into something I could imagine putting in my body.

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IMG_2866

Long Absences, Trips to China, and Adrenal Fatigue

I’ve been gone a long time. I know! My last post was waaaay back on June 28, which is an eternity ago in blogging years!

So here’s what happened: My family and I went to China in August. And the preparation for that took over every millimeter of brain space for the entire month of July so blogging completely went out the window. And then I got back and kind of became a raving lunatic in the grips of adrenal fatigue. (That picture up there really just sums up how I felt for about 2 months). But more about that later.

First, it was an amazing trip! We went to volunteer with an organization called Evergreen. Evergreen runs a camp for children and youth in the summer called Joy in the Journey, a place where they can practice English and also just have a break from the intense academic pressure that’s put on Chinese kids. My husband is friends with the man who is in charge of that camp, and so we were excited to go help! We taught English, helped cook, led activities, learned some Mandarin, and forged relationships. And we got to see the Great Wall! As a mother, it was completely satisfying to see the impact the trip had on my children, and how much of a life-changing experience it was for them! Here, briefly, are a few pictures for the curious among you, before we go on with the point of this post.

food We got really good at chopsticks! d and t eating IMG_3327 IMG_4672 Fulfilling a life long dream to walk on the Great Wall! IMG_4301 IMG_4398 IMG_4083 This was a completely exhausting, but also completely amazing, bike ride through the Shanxi countryside. IMG_4162 IMG_4170 IMG_2890 IMG_4180 IMG_4175 IMG_2957

As amazing as the trip was, though, it took a HUGE toll on me physically. I knew I wasn’t doing well while we were there, but I thought I’d just push through it and come home and be all better again.

Well, I was wrong.

After a few weeks back home I was doing worse than ever. I was tired all the time but I couldn’t sleep. I was extremely, irrationally emotional. Tiny little life stressors became huge deals that sent me spiraling. I cried all the time. I was, in short, a complete mess. And the very last thing on my mind was keeping up with the blog!

It finally dawned on me what I was experiencing.

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ben and jerrys

Falling Off (and then Bazooka-ing) The Wagon on Vacation

We went on vacation. And I’m here today to tell you all about the fallout.

Because, folks, I fell off the wagon. I didn’t mean to fall off. I actually fully intended to stay on, with just perhaps an occasional cautious field trip off. Kind of like a cruise, where you mostly stay on the ship but dock once in a while to explore exotic locations, you know?

(Not that I know anything about cruises since I’ve never been on one and have a deep abiding fear of being stuck on a ship with that many germ-breathing strangers in close proximity, being forced into extroverted interactions against my will – not to mention the fact that you’re living over miles and miles and miles of deep, black, unknown depths of ocean with who-knows-what lurking just beneath you, just waiting for the ship to sink so that it can eat you up.)

But, anyway. The wagon. By the time vacation ended, not only had I fallen off the thing, but I had taken a sledgehammer to it and set it on fire. And then I hitched a ride on the Junk Food Express and left the smoldering pile of ash (that had once been the wagon) miles behind while I ate things like Mystery Jello Marshmallow Salad and Really Bad For You Cheesecake and (even) Not Real Meat Sausages. (I didn’t even LIKE those sausages, they weren’t even GOOD sausages, but I ate THREE of them for crying out loud!)

Yes. That’s how bad it got.

And, let me assure you…I’ve been paying for it ever since. All the old complaints (that used to be so normal I didn’t even know they WERE complaints) have returned. I’ve been home for two weeks and am only now starting to feel more like my old self.

So, let me be a cautionary tale. Let me take you on the progression of how my vacation morphed from a well-organized plan to stay on course into the utter catastrophe that it was.

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easter

The Candy Redemption Program in Action: Easter

And, along came Easter. You know, the celebration of when the Son of God defeated death and sin? When the tomb was found empty because God had found a way to get us all “get out of jail free” passes by sacrificing himself? That day.

You might not recognize Easter as that though. You might know it better as “National Indulge Our Collective Societal Addiction To Sugar Day.” Because for WEEKS leading up to today my kids have been getting plied with candy every place they go. It’s impossible to escape.

So, how does a sugar-eschewing Mom handle a day like today? I’ll tell you: It’s all about knowing your kids. Knowing what sorts of things (besides candy) make them happy and makes them feel that you know and think about them.

That, and the Candy Redemption Program.

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Child Brainwashing 101

I have completely brainwashed my children. It’s official. I just had no idea how effective it was until yesterday.

Because yesterday during his piano lesson, on his own and without me even in the room, my son refused some candy that his teacher offered to himI heard him exclaim something about “that’s full of sugar!” through the door, but had no idea what had happened until he told me about it later.

heartsIt was valentine conversation hearts. Their piano teacher likes to give her students treats on holidays, and I would have let him take them out of politeness had I known what was happening. But when she handed him the box, do you know the first thing he did? He flipped over the box so that he could read the ingredients. And since it was (of course) completely made of sugar and high fructose corn syrup… HE TURNED IT DOWN.

Turned it down! The kid is given a box of candy and I’m not there to stop him from scarfing it down, but instead it refuses it because it’s sugar!

Then, wanting to give him some sort of treat, she offered him some yogurt instead. Now, my son loves yogurt and eats it all the time, but he still flipped it over to check the ingredients anyway. It was the “kid” kind of yogurt that’s filled with junk, though. When he was telling me about it later he said, “Sugar was the FIRST ingredient! AND there was high fructose corn syrup and soy something-or-other!” So he turned that down too.

I didn’t even know that he knew about the whole problem with soy. Apparently he’s been paying attention. And apparently he’s actually remembered all my talks about how the order of ingredients in the list matters!

So, he didn’t end up having anything. And when my daughter went in for her lesson after his, the teacher didn’t even bother offering anything to her. I guess she figured it was a lost cause! (I can only imagine what she thinks about all of this….)

I was absolutely shocked by this! But I guess I shouldn’t be. When I think about it, both my kids have started making better choices about food. I just didn’t realize they had accepted it so whole-heartedly.

I am REALLY good at brainwashing. Apparently.

My kids are 11 and 9, and they’ve had just as much of a sugar addiction as anyone else. And they have the same kid craving for candy that all kids have. They love the stuff! So, really, this transformation is very remarkable! I’m not really completely sure how this happened, but I have a few in-hindsight guesses.

If you’ve been reading this blog for long at all, you’ll know that I love a good numbered list of hints. It’s so orderly! So convenient! So I figured I’d make a nice list of all my guesses for any of you other parents who might like them!

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