The Great Raw Milk Debate

Clearly I read too much.

So many different ideas and opinions can be found in your local library!

I'm smack in the middle of reading Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. Some very interesting facts in there, about how high cholesterol is a fairly recent malady, and our ancestors didn't really deal with heart disease and cancer. Her main philosophy is that "industrial food" is slowly killing us.

I'm down with that.

So, we're already eating way more organic than we did, and I expect to wean out the rest of the processed foods over time (I'm way too cheap to throw away food!). I drive out into the country and buy our milk and eggs from an old order Amish farm, which almost certainly doesn't use growth hormones or antibiotics on their cows. The milk is very lightly processed, still having that beautiful cream line in it. Look at that and tell me you don't want some!

Yes, this is better than the white stuff they try to pass off as milk in the dairy aisle of the grocery store. But it's not raw.

Raw is what our forefathers drank every summer and fall. Then they supplemented their winter calcium needs with preserved milk. Cheese.

There was no low fat or skim milk. Our bodies needed (and still need) the fats and proteins and bacteria found in milk.

But wow, finding raw milk, not so easy. I contacted a local farmer about purchasing raw milk, and was told you have to be a shareholder (called a herdshare) in the cow. So you pay a monthly maintenance fee to feed/house/medicate/etc. the cow, and in return you get a share of the profits. It's expensive, too. $75 one-time contract fee, $36 monthly upkeep fee. All for a gallon of milk a week. Yowza...

I desperately want the benefits of raw milk. Planck even mentions in her book that it can help with asthma and allergies, both of which I'm really suffering with right now. But I can't justify it at that expense.

So we'll keep trekking out to the country (which I love) for our milk. We'll keep shaking up that gallon jug so we distribute the cream into the milk.
And we'll hope that someday we'll be able to afford to take on a herdshare. Or to buy our own mini-farm and have a family cow.

If you're gonna dream, dream BIG!


Surrounded By Love

(my supply shelf with pictures of my grempop as a baby, and a wedding photo
of Yasar and I, his parents, my parents, and my gremom)

Somehow the office has kind of become my space. (maybe because Yasar has his "man cave" in the garage).

(my favorite Christmas gift from this past year, my sister-in-law
Chris put together a family montage clock, and included my Leila!)

So I let my taste in art take over.

(pictures my friend Joy took of my mom, Andrew, and I in Chincoteague the summer of 2007)

And my choice of wall decoration has always been family pictures.

(gremom and grempop with their 45th anniversary cake)

To me, it's what makes a house a home.

(my working corkboard, with a Mother's Day card that Andrew and his dad made for me, Andrew holding the bass he caught, a photostrip of Andrew and my mom, and one of Yasar kissing my dearly missed quaker parakeet, Furby)

I am always reminded of the love that surrounds me.


Happy Box = Happy Boy!

The Locavore Box:
Beautiful heads of lettuce, complete with a bug! I think this is Romaine. Andrew thinks it's delicious.
These giant onion tops will make Yasar a happy man.
Spinach heads and kale.
My kid chomping into some fresh kale. He said, and I quote, "it tastes like candy!" Gives me a warm & fuzzy feelin'. :)


Just a Quick Note...

...to all my fellow BLM's - please head over to Dandelion Dreams and give Lindsy some love and support. She's not new to this journey, but she's just starting to speak out about her emotions. You're all such a supportive bunch! :)

Karate Kid - Demo for Orange Belt


Flaxseed Morning Muffins

Adapted from the Fiber One website.


1 cup high fiber cereal (I used Kellogg's All Bran)
2/3 cup milk (cow, soy, almond, que sera sera)
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup oat flour (pulverize steel-cut oats in food processor until flour-texture)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and grated
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cake spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten, mixed with:
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Arrange 12 muffin papers in muffin tin, use pan spray on the bottoms.

Pulverize cereal, either by rolling pin or food processor. In a LARGE bowl, soak cereal in milk for 5 minutes, until mooshy.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide between muffin cups (they'll be pretty full). Bake for 22-25 minutes, until tests done. Cool on wire rack, serve warm, cold, in a box, with a fox. They're delicious!


Behind the Scenes

These last few weeks have been very, very hard. Emotionally draining. There's been lots of tears here in the Wasouf household. More than our share of drama.

Even the most perfect marriages hit speed bumps and potholes. Ours is barely climbing out of a sinkhole right now.

Not that you would ever know it by reading the blog.

I just ask for your prayers today. There's much going on behind the scenes here, and not much of it's good.




I am very pleased to tell you that I've accepted an invitation from my friend Kelly to write for her very popular blog, Almost Frugal. It was a great honor to be asked to stand next to her and two other talented bloggers, Beth and Nicole. Please stop by and see my inaugural post, What Is Almost Frugal? Take the quiz, leave a comment, add AF to your reader! :)


Somebody Wants What You Have

~shamelessly stolen from Jessica's blog~

It’s easy to think the grass is always greener in your neighbor’s yard. And perhaps it is. At least the part you can see.

But remember…

When you’re weary of fixing another meal and doing dishes yet again, somebody wishes they had food to put on the table.

When you’ve folded and put away a mountain of laundry, somebody wishes their children had proper coats and hats to wear to school.

When you’re groaning over the highest heating bill yet this year, somebody wishes they weren’t so cold.

When you’re losing sleep and gagging over a child’s stomach bug episode, somebody is praying for a miracle over her child’s hospital bed.

When the exhaustion and nausea of the first trimester are about to do you in, somebody is weeping over a negative pregnancy test. (so very, very true)

When your headache intensifies over your teen’s college financial paperwork, somebody is visiting the site of her teen’s fatal wreck.

When you wake up to another cloudy, rainy day, somebody is praying for moisture to end a season of drought.

When you pick up your husband’s dirty socks and take out the trash because he forgot, somebody is wishing that for just a moment she didn’t have to do it all alone, all the time.

The next time your situation threatens to steal your joy, try to remember… somebody wants what you have.

Give thanks in all circumstances…
1 Thessalonians 5:18


Shifting Towards Organic

Not so long ago, my only focus at the grocery store was that final total I had to hand over to the cashier. What a rush, to get a cart full of all kinds of canned/frozen/prepackaged foods, hand over a fistful of coupons and tally up the loss leaders, and walk out spending a pittance. I never really gave the actual cost of these kinds of foods a thought.

Like long-term. High fructose corn syrup (or any corn syrups, for that matter) and their relationship with diabetes and obesity.

Antibiotics in dairy and their connection with resistant super-bugs, like MRSA, C. diff, and the newest baddie, VRE. Do you think it's a coincidence?

What about the ethical treatment of animals argument? I'm not quite ready for any paint-throwing, but it's worth it to me to spend $2.25 a dozen on eggs I buy from a farmer, especially since I can see his chickens scratching and pecking in their roomy coop. Reading how chickens that give us grocery store eggs are forced to live makes me ill.

So this week we've started taking some steps towards organic.

1.) We're joining with other like-minded locals and forming a CSA, the Miami River Foods Project. Last Sunday evening they held a meeting at a local coffeehouse and we discussed what we can do to get off the ground. I love that we're rewarding local farmers for doing things the right way - local, sustainable, ethical. I love that my cheese won't have rBGH. My fruits won't be imported from California. That I'm playing a role in the upkeep of my local community while feeding myself and my family healthy foods.

2.) We've also signed up for the Happy Box, a produce CSA out of Fulton Farms. I'm really excited to see what's brought to our door in the Locavore box - believe it or not, there was some produce on the list that this "weekend foodie" didn't recognize, like tat soi. $20 a week for 10-15 lbs of local, fresh, organic produce? That doesn't sound so spendthrift, does it?

3.) And tomorrow's project, making a garbage can compost bin. I'm really excited about this! Every year Yasar grows the most delicious, beautiful tomatoes...using Miracle Grow. We've got to be able to do something comparable using scraps from our kitchen instead of chemicals.

One thing I find myself pondering lately is how "frugal" and "eco-friendly" often dovetail with each other.

So that's what's going on in our home this last week. We're switching gears from "cheap" to "organic". It's a process, to be sure, and we don't expect it to happen all at once. But once you've been informed, it's hard to look at that grocery cart full of processed foods without forking the sign of the Evil Eye at it!

Something I wanted to add quick - I've just received membership to the National Consumer Panel and brought my scanner home yesterday. I'd originally applied to Homescan for the cool prizes, but now, after watching the DVD and really understanding how it works, it's more important to have my voice heard - the voice of someone not spending money on chemicals, additives, and antibiotics. It's an opportunity to let food manufacturers know that quality is important, despite the additional costs involved. Yes, I'm forfeiting my privacy. But to me, it seems to be worth it.


A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mom

5am: Awake. First cup of coffee. News. Catching up on my reader and facebook.
6:30am: Andrew blearily comes out from his room. Smelling like pee. Strip the bed, start a load of whites.
7am: Watching the news with Andrew, explaining what he doesn't comprehend. Like why Harry was getting a colonoscopy on The Early Show. Looking up on the internet why Harry's colon looked "wet and slippery". I'll spare you the details.
8am: Yasar's up. Second cup of coffee. Andrew to the shower, laundry into the dryer.
8:30 am: Make beds, straighten up rooms. Stop to check pH and nitrates in the new aquarium (and explain to Andrew what I'm doing, why, how, yadda yadda).
9am: Make blueberry pancakes and throw leftover broccoli and potatoes into an omelet.
9:30am: Breakfast.
9:45am: Dishes
10am: 2 pages of reading comprehension, a page of spelling, 2 pages of math for Andrew.
10:45am: Yasar off to work.
11:30am: Review 4 verses for Awana tonight (two were leftovers that Andrew didn't get to recite last week). Also go over 100 sight words.
12pm: Kid's Clock!
12:30pm: chicken corn noodle soup for me, tuna salad sandwich for Andrew.
12:45pm: Dishes
1pm: Make Andrew's bed. Fold the res of the laundry. Get the mail and make some calls to update companies with our new address. Talk to a friend.
1:45pm: Drop off a check with Yasar at the store. To the bank to make a rolled change deposit to our "Disney in Two Years" account.
2pm: Off to the library to pick up some new books and educational DVD's. Andrew got his first library card (he's very excited!).
3pm: Make two cheesecakes for a Friday pickup. Peanut butter bananas and milk for snacks.
4:00pm: Dishes.
4:15pm: Make some rice for dinner. Head outside to watch Andrew ride his bike up and down the block.
5:00pm: Electric Company (the only TV show I consider part of my homeschooling).
5:30pm: Dinner.
5:45pm: Dishes.
6pm: Cup of coffee, a little computer time while Andrew reviews his verses.
6:20pm: Out the door to drop Andrew at Awanas.
6:35pm: Domino's to drop off Yasar's dinner, then off to Meijer for some grocery shopping.
7:30pm: Dollar Tree for some personal hygiene items for the Cleveland homeless shelter.
8pm: Stop off at Domino's on the way back to pick up Andrew.
8:15pm: Pick up Andrew from church. High-fives and big hugs for success at reciting the 4 verses.
8:30pm: Home. Unload car of groceries. Quick snack for Andrew while watching a Veggie Tales DVD.
9pm: Brush teeth, into PJ's. Climb into my bed with him to read a chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins.
9:30pm: Prayers and bedtime for Andrew.
9:45pm: Load of coloreds into the washing machine. Sweep of the house to see what needs to be put away. Take meat out of freezer into fridge for tomorrow's dinner.
10pm: Brush teeth, wash face. As many chapters of Food Inc. as I can keep my eyes open for.

Just another day. I fall asleep exhausted but with a smile on my face. I love my life. :)


Evidence of God's Wisdom

I am thankful to God for shielding me from this song until recently. My heart could not have taken hearing it even 2 months ago. Even though it's closing in on ten months since she left for heaven, this song still leaves me sobbing.

I miss you, baby girl. Still thinking of you all the time. Hope you're enjoying God's photo albums.


The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ #1 ~ 3/8/10

Outside my window...it's foggy. The houses across the street look like ghostly apparitions. The windshields on the cars are opaque with mist.

I am thinking...about how to round out homeschooling for the year. Andrew will be done with his 1st grade curriculum in about a week, and I really want to get him assessed. And we need to find some fun, educational things to do for the last few weeks before summer gets here.

I am thankful for...a good night's sleep. We moved into this new house a week ago, and my breathing's been really bothering me since that first night. So much so that it's been very hard to lie down at night and get any rest. For Nyquil, I am thankful.

From the kitchen...Laura Ingalls Wilder's Whole Wheat Bread, in the form of muffins, are cooling on the rack and making the house smell wonderful. Lunch will be pizza and salad at the store, and dinner leftover chicken corn noodle soup or leftover chicken masala and rice.

I am wearing...comfy pajamas and fluffy slippers.

I am remembering...my grandmother's kitchen. I'm trying to conjure up some depression-era cooking skills, and her kitchen was a curious mix of uber-frugal and completely spendthrift. Maybe that was part of it's charm.

I am going...to work today, as usual on Mondays. And then to the MCCHEO meeting tonight, which I'm really excited about.

I am reading...Glenn Beck's An Inconvenient Book. I love his sarcasm, and it's always refreshing to read his view on the pressing issues of the day.

I am hoping...that God will answer my prayers and allow me to get pregnant again.

On my mind...my friend Kelly, who has an early miracle working hard to grow strong in the NICU. Please stop by and send her some love, and lift her up in your prayers.

I am creating...a headache. Need some more coffee. :)

I am hearing...PBS Kids, the hum of Andrew's new fish tank, the garbage truck making pickups.

Noticing that...this house is so much more cozy than the place we moved from. It's nice to move around with just one layer of clothing.

Pondering these words..."Oompa Loompa Dompaty-Doo". Yeah, not much going on there. My mind doesn't ponder until I'm on my second cup of coffee and out of my PJ's!

Around the house...laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, the endless cycle of cooking-eating-cleaning. All things I'm thankful for - clothes on our backs, indoor plumbing, enough to eat.

One of my favorite things...Andrew's stinky morning breath as his gives me a "good morning" kiss. :P

A Scripture thought...2 Cor 12:19 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Reflecting how strong God must look through us, because we are the epitome of weakness right now.

A few plans for the rest of the week...making some cheesecakes for an order. Finding out more about blogging for Almost Frugal. Getting a plant for Andrew's fish tank, and then maybe a fish. Meeting our new neighbors.



Friday's seem to be the State of the Union in our marriage. We work, side by side, making upwards of 70 pepperoni pizzas to feed the hungry students of Troy Christian School. It's often the only time Yasar and I have to just talk.

This past Friday was enlightening. He made the statement, "Five years ago, we were invincible."

Money in the bank.

Credit scores in the high 700's.

Business sales were great.

Waiting until Andrew was 18 months old before adding to our family.

Building a new house.

What a difference 5 years can make. Foreclosure, bankruptcy, infertility, pregnancy loss, stagnant sales at the store. Bank account with nothing in it but moths.

Humility. Teamwork. Empathy. Growth and maturity that can only be earned through struggle. A love for each other that has been proven to withstand. A love for God that surpasses anything we've ever experienced. Those very painful lessons were clearly worth it.

Today, while singing "How Great Is Our God" at church, it became obvious. We've become invincible, finally. We are now invincible with God at our sides.

2 Cor 12:19 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."


Recipe of the Week - Laura Ingalls Wilder's Whole Wheat Bread

Someone out there in the blogosphere mentioned Laura Ingalls Wilder's cookbook as a place to find frugal, tasty recipes. I have to admit, I was dubious. My interpretation of Pioneer Food consisted of lots of pork fat and gruel. Boy, was I ever wrong!

I've always had this strange fascination with anything molasses. Maybe it has something to do with my PA Dutch heritage and their love affair with fasnacht - heavy, cake doughnuts traditionally served with table syrup or molasses. Be that as it may, I heart anything molasses. Well, except that shoofly pie I made with molasses instead of dark corn syrup. That was a bit much.

So, when I saw this recipe, I started salivating like one of Pavlov's poochies!

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Whole Wheat Bread

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses plus a little
1 egg
3/4 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 8" loaf pans (or, if you're like me and don't own 8" loaf pans, 1 9" loaf pan and about 3 muffin cups).

Measure out brown sugar, put into a 1 cup measuring cup. Top with molasses. Let it set for about 5 minutes so the sugar can absorb the molasses, and top off if necessary.

Add egg, baking soda/water, and milk, stirring well.

Sift flours, powder, & salt together. Add to wet works. Stir in raisins and nuts. Divide between loaf pans (or loaf pan and muffin cups).

Bake for about 50 minutes, until it tests done. Note - if using muffin cups, they'll be done in about 20 minutes.

Verdict: This "bread" is somewhere in the land between quick bread and brick. This is one dense cake. Maybe because there's no fat in the recipe? Nevertheless, it's one delicious, dense brick of a baked good. Schmear a slice with some cream cheese, or dunk bites in applesauce. This recipe is a keeper!


How Gourmet Can Be Frugal!

Most people probably wouldn't look at Penzey's Spices and think "hey, that's a frugal gal's best friend!"

I'm here to change their minds.

I love Penzey's. They make cooking at home an adventure, and at the same time still save me money. Here's how:

MYO Vanilla Extract:
This is pretty cut-and-dried, pun completely intended. Grab a 3-pack of Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Penzey's (currently $7.25). Buy a bottle of the cheapest vodka Walmart has on sale. Split the beans and put into a glass jar. Cover with vodka, let sit for about 6 weeks. You have just made your own vanilla extract! And the real beauty here? When you get down to about half the liquid, refill with vodka again. You can get away with doing this quite a few times before you'd need to start over again. With the prices of vanilla extract in the stores right now being what they are, this is definitely a money saver.

MYO Croutons:

Ahhh, salty, garlicky croutons. Yum, yum, yum! But, the way my family goes through them, we could spend a pretty chunk of change at the grocery store on those hard, dried-out little nuggets. How to remedy that? Keep your bread heels in the freezer. When you've got three or four, dice them into about 3/4 inch cubes. Put in a frying pan over medium heat. Add some evoo (and please be generous!), a tablespoon of Sandwich Sprinkle, and stir them until they become golden brown. Transfer to a plate to cool (they will harden just a bit) and store in a closed container. Your salads will never be the same, and your guests will look at you in awe!

MYO Salad Dressings:

We eat lots of salads in our house. At the same time, it's hard to buy expensive bottled salad dressings when you read the lists of unreadables in the ingredients. My DH is completely stuck on Penzey's Greek dressing. A frugal option, and a super healthy one, too!

The Freebie in Each Mail Order Catalog:

(was going to post a picture, but my paper got lost during our move)

There's a coupon for a free spice on *every* catalog they mail you (hint: you can request a catalog here)(or, if you mail order, you can google "Penzeys free spice code" and some generous blogger will have it posted somewhere). I have walked into the Penzey's store in Columbus and just got my free spice, but only once. I'm not really fond of the staff there (it's in a wealthy area and they don't seem too impressed with my yoga-pants-and-hoodie idea of couture), and the shipping rates aren't oppressive, so I prefer the mail-order option.

The Freebie in Each Shipment:

Yes! It's like a little bit of Christmas every time you open their box! A different sample spice from them, something unexpected to try. It's a great marketing tool, too. One I use with my cheesecakes...

And Penzey's as a Gift:

Something I really love about Penzey's is their gift boxes. They tend to be a little pricey, yes. But I love how they use spices as their packing material. Cinnamon sticks as spacers, bay leaves instead of bubble wrap. So environmentally conscious! My go-to wedding gift is the Wedding Gift Crate. The spices are a wonderful gift, but what I especially love are the wedding charms - the lore attached to the whole nutmeg in your cupboard to keep your marriage whole, the few sprigs of rosemary for love, I adore how they package these things in the crate. And the crate itself is pretty eye-catching. The last time this was our gift to a newly-married couple, I just slapped a pretty ribbon around it (being careful to cover the Penzey's logo) and stuck it on the gift table. Everyone was curious what was in the wooden box! We didn't stay to see the newlyweds open it, but they came back with nothing but praise for their gift. It was worth the extra money we spent to have something to offer them that would be put to good use.

One more thing - may I also tell you how I love to use their Cake Spice? It's probably my favorite thing, we buy it in the larger bags. Great with french toast, pancakes, oatmeal. But my favorite? When we make banana bread, we sub cake spice for cinnamon. A tip from my friend Shari - grease the loaf pans with butter-flavored shortening, make cinnamon sugar (again, using the cake spice), and use that to "flour" the pan. Pour in the batter, sprinkle cake spice sugar on top of bread, and bake. Oh, heavenly!

If you're fortunate enough to have a Penzey's in your area, I recommend that you visit (but you may want to dress up for it!). It's a wonderful place, all the spices are in jars - you can see them, smell them. What a heady experience, you'll leave there inspired to get out your pans and cook up a storm.

(no, I wasn't compensated in any way for this endorsement. But Penzey's, if you wish, I'd love to be...with spices!)


Yesterday In Pictures, and a Prayer Request

Impossibly creamy, yummy, homemade yogurt. You can find the method here, I used the gelatin, added nonfat powdered dry milk, and the crock pot became an incubator.
Yes! The flat sheet we've been using to cover the front window? Gone. I made curtains! Those rudimentary sewing skills came in handy (finally). They need some work, they're pretty sheer when the sun's out. But I'm still dang proud of my work!
And, while the sewing machine was already out, I made a draft-catcher for the bottom of our front door (there's a quarter inch gap there!). Do you recognize the fabric? Here, again, showing off my new frugal chops. In the past I would have been headed to JoAnn's for some new fabric. This time? Hmmm, what have I got laying around the house.... It's filled with deer corn, which we'd been using to make microwavable hot pads early last year. And it stops the creeping cold nicely.
And, my pride and joy. Leila finally has a place to call her own. It's hard to capture on camera, it's in the hallway right outside our bedroom. I made it out of a cast-off shelf, a few cans of spray paint to cover the original navy blue-lighthouse motif. Then my wonderful friend Tricia cut the letters for me (she's just started her own business and is about 12 months pregnant). It turned out beautifully, and the thing I love the most about it is how many of you had a hand it in. Lea, with her angel wings. Katy and her memorial plaque. The talented photographers at Rory's Garden for the beautiful pink flower with Leila's name on it. Christine, for the baby book and the shelf. Anita, for the baby on the cloud and her photography skills. The Peace Bear project. Jessica for her collage (not pictured here, but next to my bed with Leila's ashes. Andrew, for the cross he bought Leila for Christmas. Thank you all, from my heart.

Saving the most important for last. Kelly is a BLM who never really joined our community. She caught pregnant again, and just gave birth to little Dillon Blake, 3 months premature. Please, please send her some love and encouragement, and lift her and her family up in prayer.