Friday, May 31, 2013

Just my simple thoughts

I just gotta rant and rave for a bit. Tune into my brain if you like.  This is just me thinking out loud for a while.

What has happened to our farms? It makes me crazy. Farming has become like an Olympic sport. If you are not constantly improving  from year to year, you are being run over by others. Farmers are going into debt so far over their heads just to be able to increase yields each and every year. It is not longer about what you grow, but how much you can grow and how quickly you can grow it.  The trend spread over to India where Monsanto and a few other companies promised that through their system growers in India could increase the yields of their crops to incredible levels. The farmers bought into it. They wanted to join in the Olympic sport of farming, and they are paying the price.  In America we have big government and big business that will buy the crops  (we buy and feed it to the cattle). Not so in India. Also in America it is socially acceptable to carry a crushing amount of debt in business. Not so in India. In India farmers are committing suicide at an alarming rate. Close to a quarter million farmers have  committed suicide in just a few short years all because they can not keep up with the demands of Those companies who promised them a large crop yield, and all they got was crushing debt.

Debt, we have become so accustomed to our debt that we do not feel the weight anymore.  People do not know how to live without debt. For some it seems like it can't be done. We have come to think that you have to have a mortgage payment and a car payment forever. No one ever pays off the debt, thus interest only loans. Talking about student loans makes people crazy. There are many who say I can't work and go to school, I have to take out loans. It is too expensive. Our children are going to school and coming out with debt that will never go away and many will carry student loan debt nearly to retirement. There are many who will come out of school with debt and no way to earn enough to even begin to pay it back.  I earned two degrees without student loans, it is called hard work. I went to school and worked in the eves. It took a bit longer, but I did it. It is not impossible to stay out of major debt, but it requires effort.

Why do young people have an aversion to work? They think that work is for the illegals in this country. Our kids think that any kind of physical work is beneath them. One mother here close by, when her daughter and boyfriend came to her for money she told them, "There is a yard that needs cleaned up, I will pay you to do the job". They complained and thought that it sounded too hard to work for the money. They went on to get help from the government who gave to them without requiring anything in return.

Our government system. Oh my, I could go off for hours about that, But I wanted to talk about the welfare part of it. We have created a society that is becoming ever more increasingly dependant upon government to feed and take care of us. "Don't worry if you have crushing debt and can't afford to take care of yourself, we can help. We will feed you."  The number of people receiving food assistance  from the government is astounding, and it is growing in leaps and bounds, because the government is pushing for it to be that way. They are telling people, "It is your right as a tax payer".  The government is trying to get us so dependant upon them. Obama will go out in a blaze of glory being able to tell about how he fed and clothed and took care of the American people through a time of great trial.

 It is like the old saying "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime"   We are increasingly losing the ability to take care of ourselves.  We have been feed, but not taught. I am working hard at teaching those around me to think and care for themselves. I am keeping up those old fashioned skills of food growing and preserving. I do not care to garden, I tend to grow more weeds than real food, but the satisfaction of growing my own food and not being dependant on handouts is worth it. I get real satisfaction from it. It is not like the satisfaction of passing the next level on a video game.

Our children have not learned the satisfaction that comes from real achievements in life. They only sit about and play video games all day long. Last year when I heard about a college age boy who died from sitting for nearly 24 hours playing a video game. It made my cry. He sat for so long his blood clotted and sent a blood clot through his body that killed him. I recently got a kindle fire and the children love to play games, there are so many games and activities out there for them to enjoy, but we are sure to limit the amount of time they can play on the thing. I do encourage them to read and enjoy books on it, but the other things we limit. I make them go out and enjoy the world around them. I try and keep them strong in mind, body and spirit.

By keeping our children healthy we can avoid doctors/(pill pushers) as much as possible. I could not believe it when on the TV this week I hear they are recommending that we start checking cholesterol levels of our children as young as eight and recommending cholesterol lowering drugs for children as young as ten.  It is bad enough when we are putting people on these drugs "just in case".  These drugs do not much more than put billions of dollars in the pockets of drug companies and those involved in the production and distribution of these drugs. Cholesterol lowering drugs do not work all that well. The majority of people can get much better results by eating real food. Besides that, there is really little real evidence that lowering cholesterol levels really decreases heart disease. If it really was working, we wouldn't have such rates of heart disease. It seems that it is a way to sell drugs to people and we have run out of groups to target so we are targeting children.

Our precious children who we would like to have a bright future, sometimes it seems so dim for them and me too. I just go about doing the best I can, and teaching them the best skills I know how. It is hard to send my children into an world where there are so many rules and regulations that they can hardly breathe, then there is danger around every corner and not just bullying, when drugs and pornography are such troubles in elementary school it makes me so upset, I mean really, eight and nine year olds delving into hard core porn it is astounding. I did not have to deal with this stuff until junior high, when I was old enough to at least grasp it a little bit.

It is a scary world, it is not the world that I would choose to live in. But I do live here. I can teach my children to hold on to the good things. I can teach them to not dwell on the evil and bad things in this world.

 There is still good in this world I know it and I see it. I can surround myself with the good things. I can choose positive things to fill my world. I choose those things.

Now that I have gotten all that out of my system, I am ready to go find those great and good things. You too, go find some good today!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

discover leeks

One may ask, what the heck is a leek?
Leeks are a member of the onion family they look like overgrown scallions (green onion) but have different taste. They are mild and sweet. They lend themselves to well to tomato and potato. Leeks are very good for you (as are any members of the onion family). Low in calories yet high in flavor, the onion family is a great addition to many dishes. For those who do not care for onions because of the strong odor, leeks can be a good choice because of their mildness.

I think people shy away from leeks because of not knowing what they are or how to cook with them. They are just a fancy type of onion. If you really want to impress someone cook with leeks. It sound fancy enough to impress any guest.  

Leeks are notorious for lending a little grit to a dish if not cleaned properly. The layers are really tight and they tend to  hold onto the sand that they are grown in. It requires a bit of attention, but the results are worth it. For me, I like to slice the root end off the leek and then slice it lengthwise right down the middle. Fan open the layers and then run them under cold water rinsing out much of the dirt.

 Slice the leeks thinly and then place them into a large bowl of cold water and swirl them about. Let them sit for a few minutes. Any lingering sand and dirt will sink to the bottom. Remove the leeks from the top of the bowl leaving any dirt or sand behind in the water.

I was first introduced to leeks while in chef school. We  made a classic French chilled potato and leek soup. I do not care for cold soups, but I love hot soups. A few years later I was introduced to Minnesota wild rice  and leek soup at a place that I worked. It quickly turned into a favorite. It continues to be a favorite. It seems that whenever I make it people request the recipe.

Minnesota wild rice and leek soup
serves 6-8

2 Tablespoons butter
3 carrots finely diced  about 1 cup
2 leeks (white and light green parts) finely diced  and well washed
2 celery stalks finely diced about 1 cup
1/4 cup flour
2 quarts chicken broth
3/4 cup wild rice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup half and half, or milk.
1/4 cup minced chives for garnish (optional)
3 tbsp chopped parsley  for garnish (optional)

Heat butter in soup pot over medium heat. Add carrots, leeks and celery. Cook until softened (about 5 min)
Reduce heat to low, add flour, and stir well.Add broth gradually, whisking well with each addition to eliminate lumps in flour. Add wild rice and salt. continue simmer until rice is tender but still a bit chewy (about an hour). Stir in the half and half or the milk and garnish with parsley and chives if desired.

Can be made with vegetable stock, and olive oil instead of butter for a vegetarian dish.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The skinny on trans fat part 2

In case you missed it here is the link to skinny on trans fat part 1

The early 1900's brought about many changes in our food system. The quest for cheap food has brought about changes in the last 120 years that are icredible. Margarine was just the start, it was followed by Crisco, corn syrup, artifical sweetners and a myriad of other things.

 Crisco was developed by Proctor and Gamble who were brother in laws making soaps and candles. The cost of making of these items had been driven  up by a lack of tallow and lard. During this time cotton was big buisness. Procter and Gamble bought out eight cotton mills, the wheels began to turn, and with the help of a German scientist E.C. Keiser they were able to harden the cottonseed oil turning it into something that would work for making soaps and candles. This was great until they realized that the candle making business was on the decline due to this thing called electricity.

What next for the two brother in laws? There was a shortge of lard and butter.  People were starting to use this stuff called margarine instead of butter, why not sell this refined cottonseed oil that resembles lard as an alternative  at a fraction of the cost?  In a pure stroke of genius, they developed a cookbook to be given away with the cans of stuff called Crisco. Of course every recipe in the book contained Crisco. Homecooks loved the stuff. It was convienent and easy. They did not have to render out the lard and strain it to make it ready for cooking. This stuff was great. It was shelf stable and didn't go rancid like lard did.

 First margarine, and now Crisco or hydrogonated oil. The popularity of these products  was really growing.  Hydrogonated vegetable oil was quickly making its way as a staple in the American diet.  In the meantime, heart disease started to take hold of the country. The government started looking about for what may be the cause. One thing they looked at was the introduction of hydrogonated oils into the food system. Could it be the trouble? It sparked a debate over healthy fat and unhealthy fats that still rages on today.

Dr Fred Matteson (who happened to be working with Proctor and Gamble) along with others, presented the US Government with research (The lipid hypothosis)  that seemed to point a finger at animal fat as the troubles causing the increase in heart disease. It was adopted by the goverment and the heart association. The heart association began to recommend that people consume less animal fats. All over the United States people started eating less animal fats. Low fat dairy had taken over and less butter was being used. Butter was being replaced by margarines made with vegetable oils as opposed to the original margarine.

Heart disease continues to rise along with obesity, and diabetes. Maybe this lipid hypothisis is not really it. Maybe it is these hydrogonated fats that are clogging our arteries and causing us troubles. By this point it has gone crazy. The governement is researching which fats are good, which ones are bad, and the public decided that all fat is bad, thus the lowfat craze that swept the country a number of years ago. This was not the answer, people go even fatter on these low fat diets and heart disease is still not slowing down. So we are back to square one.

The people are begining to wonder what is going on. They are so confused by the information out there. Margarine is good one day and bad the next, the same with butter. The war between butter and margarine is getting old. It has been going on for so many years off and on. The only thing that has changed is that the American people are getting fatter and heart disease is still rampant. If is is these hydrdogonated fats causing troubles, we need to be concerned about more than just margarine and butter. Hydrogonated  vegetable oils have became big business. Mass food producers are making all types products using hydrogonated vegetable oils. It is cheap and has a long shelf life.

Hydrogonated oils are in nearly every food item on supermarket shelves in America. If these products are the problem how do we solve it? There are really no alternatives to hydrogonated fats, except for going back to animal fats. The food producers cannot afford to really change and start using animal fats again. It is too expensive, and a large portion of the public is convinced that animal fat is bad for you. The Heart association and others have been sold on the lipid hypotthosis, they have endorsed hundreds of products containing these fats. They are the main endorsers of many of these products. They have to save face. They cannot come out now and say, "Oh we may have been wrong."  Hydrogonated oils are really here to stay unless there is another major breakthoughWe are started down a path and there is no turning back.

 What to do; you can't ban all hydrogonated fats. It is not fesible. The government  needed a solution. This is the the solution and the theory being pushed on the public, There is already information out there about about good fats and bad fats.  The public seems to understand. They have been told of good oils and bad oils; saturated, vs unsaturated, and pollyunsaturated oils.  There are some  oils that are labeled and widely accepted as healthy. Let us used this to our advantage. Let us  hydrogonate some of those oils that have been designated as the "good oils".  We can tell them that hydrogonated oils are not that bad if made with the right kinds of fat.

The term trans fat is born and popularized. Trans fats are now the bad ones. They are the kind of fat you want out of your diet. Trans fats are made by hydrogonating the wrong kind of oils. Hydrogonated fat are acceptable as long as they are made from the right kind of "healthy oils". It is working well. The public eats it up. Trans-fat takes off as the bad villian in the fat world. The public starts crying, "We want better health, we want better labeling on products, we want to know what kind of fats we are eating. Out with trans fat." 

After quite and extensive debate about what kinds of fats are acceptable and the levels that will fit into the requirements, they make it mandatory to label trans fats. Those who read the banners on fronts of packages and see "no trans fat" are happy. The public is apeased for now. But where does it go next. The people are not going to be apeased for long they are going to figure out that the a label that reads "no trans fat" is not non fat It still has hydrogonated fat and it is not really any better for you.  It is like the labeling of corn syrup. The label can say "no high fructose corn syrup" and there is still corn syrup in it, just not the high fructose kind.  The regulation and labeling of products is not in favor of the consumer. It is all about big business.

Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are still going to ravage this country until we get back to the basics. Until we get back to a society that regularly eats real food that comes from the farmers field and not from a factory.    

For a full lengh tutorial on trans fats and how they have changed the world, check out these two  links....wikipedia on trans fat  and Weston a price foundations Oiling of America.   There is  more information than most people will ever need on the subject in these two articles.

Monday, May 20, 2013

and the one who will be baking their own bread

Congratulations to Tracy!  You are the winner of the bread baking book! Please e-mail me with winner in the subject line and I will get that to you. my e-mail is kookykeck(at) 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

an unexpected source of sugar being dumped into our kids

We are eating so much sugar in our society. It is absurd. It has been estimated that in the United States we are eating half a pound of sugar per person per day!!!!!!

Although it sounds so over the top,  is not totally surprising. Sugar in it's many forms is found in the majority of our foods. Processed foods are fueling our need and dependency on sugar. Processed foods have become so over sweetened. It is scary. Many blame the problems on soft drinks,Thus they tried to ban large sodas in New York. We all know that candy and sugared cearals are loaded with sugar, but there are plenty of other foods that supply our children with staggering amounts of sugar that we may not be thinking about.

Just a few examples,  pasta sauce, many pasta sauces are loaded with sugar, ketchup and peanut butter are two others that our children are eating that can be stuffed full of sugar. There is one food in particular that I want to address today. This food in some cases has more added sugar than soda, and our kids (and maybe we as adults) are slurping it down in huge amounts. This food is being marketed  to us and our children as something truly healthy. have you guessed it yet? Are you ready for this? It is ...... Yogurt.  Look and see for yourself, check out the labels next time you are at the grocery store.

I hate commercial yogurt from the store. We hardly buy it anymore. These yogurts are so full of sugar, dyes, emulsifiers, flavorings etc. There is not really any goodness left when you look at the the fact that some of them do not have any live or active cultures in them. Live active cultures is what makes yogurt so good for you.

Yogurt itself is a great food when made properly. Take good quality milk, inoculate it with good friendly bacteria (active cultures) let it grow in a warm place for a while and you have something wonderful. Top it with some fresh fruit YUM! There is something wonderful about a good fresh yogurt. It has been eaten for centuries. It has contributed to good gut health. It is something that can be truly healthy.

 How different is this "good" yogurt from the commercial yogurt you buy in the store?  Many store bought yogurts starts with milk that has been homogenized, pasteurized and processed until there is no goodness left in the milk, they pump it full of sugar, corn syrup dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers,  flavorings, starches, and artificial sugars. They may, or may not put any live yogurt cultures in it.They may put a bit of real fruit in it, but mostly it is fruit flavorings and such. It is a far different food with a far different effect on the body than real live cultured yogurt. This is not to say that there are no good brands of yogurt out there, and that every brand is bad.  There are some brands that we buy. We are just more careful about which ones we choose nowadays.

Choose a good wholesome yogurt product. Read labels. Do not buy it if you do not understand the ingredients in it.  Avoid the kinds that are targeted to children,(the ones with cartoon characters on the outside) they are some of the worst. There are some decent brands of yogurt out there. I do buy some of those better brands on occasion. But just for fun, or if you are unsure about the quality of the yogurt you are buying make your own. An added bonus of making your own is the money you can save. It is really cost effective to make your own yogurt as good quality yogurt can be a bit pricey.

 Early on I wrote a post about making yogurt at home.  It is really not all that hard, it does take a little planning.  Eating real food does take a bit more planning than just open up a package. It requires label reading and a bit of change but is so worth the efforts. For those of you stuck on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, make yogurt and then strain the excess liquid and whey out of the yogurt through a couple layers of cheesecloth set in a strainer over a bowl. This method will thicken it up nicely and give you the same results as a greek style yogurt. Strain it a bit longer and you have something that resembles and can be interchanged with cream cheese.

Try making yogurt and see what happens.

Here is the link to my post about making yogurt.

making yogurt

As an added note. 

Yogurt is one of the dairy foods that is on the agengda to have artificial sweeteners added without labeling. They are working on a proposal to change the labeling of dairy products. The producers are becoming smart to the fact that we as consumers are looking at labels. Consumers are craving the sweet stuff, but trying to cut back. It is amazing to me that they are pumping our food full of sweet stuff and hiding it under all kinds of names. For  dairy producers to be able to add sweetners and not have to label it; expecially when it is an artifical sweetner, that is not right. This is yet another reason to make your own yogurt and take control of what you and your family eats.

Here is a link to a petition against this

tell the FDA to reject the proposal of unlabeled apartamine in dairy

And to finish the celebration

As the last part of our one year celebration I am giving away......

"A step of faith"
An audio book by Richard Paul Evans

From his website

A Step Of Faith

“We must all walk in faith, for to live without is to live frozen in circumstance. Even if the faith, or dreams of our past have been shattered, as they often are, we must gather up the shards and dream again– for achieving dreams is not a single act of will, but, like the felling of a tree, a process of small, steady blows. It is the short footfalls of a great walk.”

To enter this giveaway, Leave a comment below. On Wednesday May 22nd winner will be chosen from the comments.

For additional entries you can like us on facebook and /or twitter and leave a separate comment telling us that you have done so.

Be sure to come back and see who the winner is.

Friday, May 17, 2013

And the winner is.......

The winner of the kitchen harvest book is. Comment # 3

Carolyn you are the winner!  please E-mail me  kookykeck(at)yahoo(dot)com  to claim your prize.
Please include prize winner in the subject line. Thank you to all who entered.



To help celebrate I am hosting yet another giveaway. Todays giveaway is.....

Cover Art of Baking 2x3

"The art of baking with natural yeast"  written by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson.

This book is a wonderful thing. It explains how you can make fabulous breads at home without the added expense of comercial yeasts. It guides you through the process of growing and caring for a natural yeast start.

I obtained a yeast start last summer. It was a bit of a disaster in the begining. The book was just coming out and I did not have a copy. You can read about my adventures with natural yeast. We also developed a recipe on our own for waffles using natural yeast. It has been really fun to experiment with this natural yeast. My husband and children love it. We make waffles or pancakes every Sunday as part of our family tradition. I  also make bread twice a week. I enjoy working with the stuff and I love that I never have to buy expensive yeast again.

Thank you Melissa Richardson for donating a copy of your book.

Check out her blog for more great info about this wonderful stuff.    the bread geek

Now on to the good stuff


TO ENTER: LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW.  one of the comments will be chosen at random to be the winner. The winner will be announced right here at life less hurried  on Monday May 20th. so be sure to come back on Monday to check out if you are the winner

for additional enteries like us on facebook and/or twitter and leave a seperate comment below. If you are already following us, simply leave a seperate comment telling us that you are following.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Celebrating a year at Life less hurried

Thank you for coming and reading here at life less hurried. As part of our first year birthday celebration I am giving away some great items to improve and simplify your life. Today's giveaway is......

Kitchen Harvest: Growing Organic Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs in Containers 

Kitchen harvest by Susan Berry.
I have had a chance to look at this book. It is all about growing good food in a little space.  I love the idea of a container garden, and making use of the space we have.

To enter:   simply leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced right here on Friday May 17th.  good luck everyone.

For additional entries please like me on facebook and/or twitter and leave a separate comment letting me know.  If you are already a a follower just let me know below. links can be found on the sidebar ↔

Monday, May 13, 2013

A stroll down memory lane

On May 17th,  2012 I first published here on Life less hurried. It has been a fun year. Who knew that within a year I would have such success. I first began writing in the blogesphere not knowing if anyone (besides a few good friends) were reading my writing. The occasional comment would come along making me very glad for kind words. There are days when I ask myself "Am I doing any good?" Then the answer comes.  If it only inspire one person to live a better life. It is worth it.

Now let's take a look back at the path we have walked this last year, and the fun we  have had doing it.

One of the first big hits was the pizza dough,  Then came our enchilada recipe
In the summer I wrote a post encouraging families to unplug, It is advice that I have taken seriously lately.
I also wrote  about making yogurt,  and dehydrating cantaloupe (which was not really all that good). The post that took off and was the first one pinned was the easy cinnamon roll recipe.

In Late July I got a start for a natural sweet yeast. I developed a recipe for waffles which are truly great.
In the fall I wrote two posts about being yourself and not letting the stress of measuring up to others get the best of you. Be your own kind of Supermom and Dandelions.  In October and November I wrote a three part series on Taming the sugar beast  I also began writing about the great grains

 I wrote about the Christmas gifts I made for the family. Little did I know that the recipes for  handmade salami and homemade mustard would be so well received It still amazes me now. These are my most popular posts.

This spring I wrote a  wonderful post about living well by serving others. I also I wrote a post about getting stronger in mind, body, and spirit. One of my most recent posts is about my favorite Christian workout songs

It has been an amazing year. I love having and online journal of some of the great and fun things we have done. Looking back has been a real joy. I am looking forward to another great year here at life less hurried. 

If you are a fairly new reader, I hope that you will sit back, relax and enjoy your time here. I hope you will read some of the older posts and get inspired to live the "good life"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The skinny on trans fat Part one

High fat, low fat, fat fat fat.
Good, fat, bad fat, feel like a rat.
What to eat, and what to not.
Which will keep, which will not. 
My brain is going all around.
If I pick the wrong one, I'll be in the ground.
Help me please, cause I don't know.
Which fat to use and which should go.

Happy momma

                                                                                                          photo courtsy of Microsoft images

I penned this little ditty to express my feeling about the world we live in. People get so excited about what is good and what is bad for us to eat. There is so many differing opinions out there. It is enough to drive one crazy. I have avoided it by going simple and natural. If I understand it I will eat it. Simple foods like butter, made from cream and salt. Extra virgin olive oil, pressed straight from olives. Coconut oil straight from the coconut. These things I understand, but Margarine, trans fat.... this is all too much.

It is all begins with money; oh yes, money of which it is written; "The love of money is the root of all evil"  In my discovery of margarine vs butter there is a story told. It goes something like this. Margarine was invented in America by turkey farmers wanting to quickly fatten up their flocks to keep up with the demand for the  Thanksgving table. They knew that fat had twice the calories per gram as compared to other foods. They pumped cheap oil full of hydrogen to make it firm enough for the turkeys to eat, processed it into pellets, and proceeded to feed it to the turkeys which killed the entire flock. Not wanting to lose all the money invested in this project they processed it into something that resembled butter and fed it to the people. This is a bunch of crap, or is it?  The story makes for  a  great headline for those advocating real butter.

The truth does have to do with money. Let us take a trip back to 1860's The French were looking for a cheaper way to feed the men in the Navy. They held a contest to see who could come up with a cheaper substitute for the more expensive Butter.   In 1869 Hippolyte Mege-Mouriez of Provence, France, patented a butter substitute made from beef fat and other ingredients. He named this substance "margarine" since he had used the fatty acid component, margaric acid. Margaric acid looked like pearly drops so its discoverer had named it after the Greek margarites, meaning pearl.

This stuff called margarine took off around the world.  People were making real profit from it, often passing it off as real butter.  Here in the United States this new stuff  called margarine caused a nasty war between the dairymen and the men  making margarine. In 1886 congress passed the federal margarine act. It regulated the sale and distribution of margarine. I have included a link below to that document along with a history of the war on margarine. It is interesting reading.

Margarine really took off again in the 1920's and became widely acceptable with the advent of the great depression and the subsequent world war. It was affordable, and available. (dairy was scarce at this time).  During this time it is being developed and changed to be made with vegetable oils as compared to the beef fat, but nobody seemed to notice, it was cheap and fed the family and kept them from starving. By the time the depression and the world wars were over many had forgotten the fight between butter and margarine.  Margarine was becoming a part of every table. The ban seemed to  be useless, the people had spoken; they wanted margarine over butter. Congress removed the ban in the 195o's 

In the 1950's another  important thing took place. Ancel Keys published studies about the lipid hypothesis. The American heart association began warning people about the dangers of saturated fats, and its link to heart disease.  People were urged to not eat animal fats including butter. A large portion of margarines are now being made with vegetable oils. It seems to be the perfect substitute for those who were avoiding saturated fats. Margarine  was being called wholesome and good. It was even hailed as a miracle food. It was going to change the world once again.

It seems perfect for food  for manufacturers to put into their products. It was cheap and ready to take on whatever flavor they choose. The people have already accepted margarine, now we have hydrogonated oils. That have replaced animal fats in our diets. Hyrdogonated oils are put into nearly all of our food including margarine. It has become a staple in our diet. This produces a whole new problem when It is discovered that hydrogenated oils and the margarine made from them do not have the same effect on the body as the  margarine of the past.  And now a new war ensues.... the war on trans fat.  Come back in the next couple of weeks when we will talk more about it.

 In the meantime here are some interesting links with more info on the subject.

why has the war on margarine stopped?
margarine act of 1886
history of the war on butter

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fast food the healthy way

People tell me that they do not have time to cook for the family and that it is easier to eat out. It may be true that it is easier and more convienent to eat out, but making meals at home can be done simply and easily if the mind is put to it.
                                                                    All pictures in this post courtesy of Mircosoft office

When we think of home cooked meals we think of Grandma slaving over a hot stove all day long to create a meal. We think of a large elaborate meal like Thanksgiving. We put it into our minds that it is too much work, too overwhelming, too much of a hassle, too messy to cook.  There is a long list of reasons that people have for not wanting to cook.  If we would take a challenge and cook for a period of time,  we would find that it is not nearly as impossible as it seems. I have some advice to help overcome the excuses and thoughts that arise in cooking real food at home.

1. It takes too long to cook.

Early on in my blogging, I wrote a post about making stove-top mac and cheese. It can be done in about the same time as a boxed mix. My husband finds it funny that it takes me twice as long to create from a box as it does otherwise. This last week we made Asian lettuce wraps. They came together very quickly. We had the meal on the table in about 20 minutes. We could not  load up the kids in the van and go get fast food  that quickly. Thin cut skillet steaks can be cooked in a matter of minutes. Heat some nice vegetables while the meat cooks and you have dinner in a snap. Watching Dr Oz the other day, he had a guest on the show advocating real food. He did an experiment with his family. He let each member of the family buy a microwave meal for dinner. It took nearly an hour to get all the food heated and on the table. There are many meals that can be prepared and on the table in less than 20 minutes. When people tell me I don't have time to cook, I know that it is more than an issue of time.

2. I don't know how to cook

So many have not learned the basics of cooking. It is something that used to be passed down from parent to child, but nowadays many have to start from scratch. In Chef school we learned. It is not all about recipes, it is about the techniques. Martha Stewart has a television show called Martha's cooking school. She goes into detail about different techniques each week. I enjoy this show and I learn each time I watch. Once you learn the techniques or methods then it is just a matter of applying it to different foods. Just recently I wrote a post on making salad dressings. Once you know the method, you can go from there and create a variety of dressings and sauces. There are many resources available to help.

Take a class, watch some instructional videos, borrow a book.

3. I don't know what to make.

This is very common, Coming up with dinner ideas can be a challenge. There are many planning strategies out there. Find one and see if it might work for you. The food nanny has a great plan. Pick a theme for each night of the week. Some examples could include pizza night, Mexican, Chinese, breakfast, soup, grill night, etc. Plan out for two weeks and make one large shopping trip for the main ingredients. You have a plan for what you will make each night, and you should have the ingredients on hand in the house. Having a plan is essential for most people. Create a plan or find one online and begin.

Give it some time to find what works for you. Some people love freezer cooking, others love slow cookers etc. Start wherever you are and build from there. Plan A may not work for you, so then you go on to plan B, or C ......on down the line until you find something that works. One pot meals have been a lifesaver for some. Freezer cooking is also another method that can help. There are some who do all the chopping of vegetables and fruits for the week all at once. Find a method that can work for you and your strengths.

I know one mother that has made a habit of starting a large pot of water to heat when she comes home from work. By the time she gets her clothes changed and back to the kitchen, the water is hot and ready for pasta, potatoes, rice etc. It saves her time and hassle. If she finds that the hot water is not needed for dinner then she uses it to wash up the dishes. It is simple things like this that make it possible to  put good food on the table quickly

4. It is such a mess to cook and clean up.

I think one thing that really deters people from cooking is the mess. For some this is a real concern. There are people that after cooking it looks like a  bomb exploded or tornado ran through the entire house. Sometimes the clean up can take 5 times as long as the cooking part. I am getting a bit more efficient in the kitchen. I am learning to keep the mess down. I do not make near the mess I once did. The more you practice the easier it gets.
 Cooking and cleaning up the kitchen mess can be beneficial for family life. Early on in my writing I wrote a post about washing the dishes by hand. It gives me a chance to get to know the kids better as we work together on a task such as this. It opens up conversations in a way that nothing else can. It is worth the efforts to ask the kids to put away the electronic devices and "unplug" long enough to help with the household chores. Try it, see what happens.

5. It does not have to be elaborate, simple can be extremely yummy.

A simple pasta dish can be made with  fresh tomato, a bit of olive oil, and a few fresh herbs, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and you have something wonderful. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the very best. When you are starting out, look for simple recipes with easy to understand ingredients and instructions. It does not have to be complex.

Start the change in your life. Put your fears aside and begin. Start small if need be. Cook one or two nights a week. As you gain confidence you can build up to cooking nearly every night.

I would love to hear from my readers: What has worked for you? What is your lifesaver in the kitchen? Leave a comment below for us all to learn together.

links to my posts mentioned above
making salad dressing
easy stove top mac and cheese
why I hand wash dishes

Other helpful links

Food nanny meal planning
Money saving mom's freezer cooking 101
15 one pot dishes
slow cooker recipes from spark recipes
cook, eat, share recipes for beginners
monthly meal planners

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wow how quickly a year goes by

I am nearing a year of blogging here at life less hurried. I am amazed at how quickly that year has gone by.  I have enjoyed sharing my insights with you. I hope that you have felt inspired and uplifted after visiting here.

Please come back next week where we have some fun things planned for the first year anniversary celebration.

I am planning some special things exclusive to facebook and twitter followers, so be sure to follow me on facebook and/ or twitter so you don't misss out.  (Find the links to follow me on the sidebar ↔)

Friday, May 3, 2013

stuffed mushrooms

Here is my simple recipe for stuffed mushrooms

Easy stuffed mushrooms (serves 4)

for the mushrooms

8 ounce package of white mushrooms
1 beaten egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
oil for pan frying

1.  brush any dirt from the mushrooms and remove the stems of the mushrooms leaving the caps whole
(this is done by pushing the stem to the side with your thumb until it snaps off)

2. Heat oil about 3/4 inch deep in a skillet over high heat  

 while the oil heats...

3. dip the mushroom caps in the egg mix

4. season the flour with the salt and pepper

5. dip the egg coated mushroom into the seasoned flour

6. carefully place the mushroom caps in the hot oil

7. cook til browned on one side and then flip over and cook on the other side (about 3 minutes total)

8. remove from the oil and place on a baking sheet or other broiler safe dish

9. fill the mushrooms with a filling of your choice (See some ideas below)

10. when ready to serve, pop them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until hot and bubbly.

These can be made ahead and kept for a couple hours in the refrigerator.
broil them when ready to serve

I like to try different fillings in my mushrooms
 here are some of my favorites

Bacon and Cheddar  filling

6 slices bacon cooked crisp
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Place bacon in a small food processor and chop it quite fine
add the cheese and pulse a few times until it comes together

Mushroom and cream cheese filling

 leftover mushroom stems chopped very finely.
1 tablespoon butter or oil
about 2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste (maybe a 1/4 teaspoon each)
saute this all together until cooked through and slightly browned, let this mix cool slightly then add...
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
2-3 ounces of cream cheese
Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

Spinach or broccoli variations

To the  basic mushroom and cream cheese filling you can add

1 Tablespoon cooked chopped spinach that has had all the liquid squeezed out of it.
1-2 Tablespoons finely chopped cooked broccoli

Crab filling

2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove minced
saute together in a bit of olive oil until softened

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
sprinkle of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup crab pieces
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
dash of hot sauce

mix all filling ingredients together
fill the cooked mushroom caps and broil until hot and bubbly

Ham filling (pictured above)

1/4 of a small onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup cubed ham
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
grind ham, onion, and garlic in a food processor until chopped fairly fine
Stir in the mayonnaise and mustard
Fill the mushroom caps
top with grated cheddar cheese and broil

These are so easy and yummy, you will have people begging for more.