Saturday, July 26, 2014

Down on the Farm: Exploring Diselrath Farms

Co-op farms in Indianapolis: I had no idea these were actively being done. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Diselrath Farms on the Indianapolis south side.

Tucked inside the 465 loop, Diselrath offers both co-op farming and a farm store open on Saturdays. Members pay a small fee (about $5 per week) and work three hours a week for a share of produce or discount on meats such as chicken or pork.

On this Saturday morning, the Diselraths opened their farm to several local bloggers and "Future Farmers."
The children - from toddlers through pre-teens - loved the opportunity to learn about what goes into the farm, from a simple lesson on crop rotation to what it takes to raise chickens and harvest eggs.

Sarah Diselrath showed the Future Farmers about how they rotate crops each year. If you look closely, these are all the rows of tomatoes, but those furthest to the left were the rows that weren't quite in last year's pig pen! (Hence the power of compost.)

Checking out the baby animals was a highlight for the kids, though this little goat didn't get nearly as much love as the baby chicks.

The kids went to hunt for eggs as well. I think the biggest excitement of the morning was the children stumbling on a hen trying to lay an egg - though I think their shouts of surprise stopped her in action.

There is something to be said about growing your own food. Too many kids are complacent and think their green beans come from a can you get from a store; munching on a green bean freshly picked (as in seconds) is an entirely different experience. Future farmers feeding the future bacon really helps kids connect the dots about where our food comes from.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Roasted Garlic Three Ways

Roasted garlic may be one of my favorite smells of all. Sure, it may not make me a fan of vampires or co-workers, but roasting garlic makes the flavor sweeter and is a yummy addition to a meal.

When I worked at a newspaper in Kansas City, the writers and I would enjoy roasted garlic as an appetizer at a local Italian restaurant. We loved to squeeze the golden garlic onto bread, or even just eat the cloves as-is.

How to Roast Garlic

If you have not roasted garlic, you are in for a treat. The hardest part is the wait!

Simply cut off the pointed end of the garlic and set into a pan, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cracked pepper. Bake at 425 for about 40 minutes. When cooked, the cloves will squeeze out of their papers like a gooey, amazing mess.

I prefer to roast an 8x8 pan of garlic at once (I know...) so any leftover garlic is covered in olive oil and stored in the refrigerator. I should note we use it quickly, as you do run the slight risk of developing botulism if it sits too long. As a whole, if you finish it in a matter of days, you should be ok.

If you haven't tried roasted garlic on Italian bread, do it. Tonight. If you're interested in some other ways to prepare it, read on. 

Roasted Garlic Butter

This may be the easiest thing to do. Take some softened butter (please use the real thing). Mix in roasted garlic to taste. Enjoy.

Roasted Garlic Rolls

These rolls, made and hand-shaped by my nine-year-old, were incredible as buns for turkey burgers and turned into garlic cheese bread!

  • 2 packages Rapid-rise Yeast
  • 2 cups Warm Water
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt 
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 5-½ cups Flour
  • 2 heads Roasted Garlic, Peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 2 pinches Kosher Salt

  • Mix water and yeast, stir until yeast dissolves. Add sugar, oil, salt and garlic powder. Stir in flour and let rise once. Knead the dough and fold garlic cloves into it.

    Spray a pan with cooking spray, and shape dough into equal-sized balls and place them on the pan, leaving equal space between them. Let rise again (cover with a moist towel if you’d like, to prevent the dough from drying out). Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    After rising, brush rolls with melted butter. Sprinkle on a little kosher salt and brush with additional butter. Sprinkle more garlic powder on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

    Roasted Garlic & Green Beans

    1 pound green beans
    Leftover roasted garlic in olive oil
    Salt and pepper

    This recipe is a deceptively simple one, but absolutely amazing. Drain the oil into a skillet and warm over medium heat. Sautee the green beans. When the green beans are close to completely cooked, add the leftover roasted garlic, stirring, until garlic is warmed. Toss with salt and pepper.

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    Amazing Two-Ingredient Tub Scrub

    A wonderful bathtub scrub I stumbled upon and adapted. The original recipe called for plain castile soap but I really enjoyed the addition the peppermint oil added to this. I also added rosemary essential oil to this, and it made a yummy smell that filled my house.

    Peppermint Tub Scrub
    1/2 cup baking soda
    1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap

    optional: 15 drops rosemary essential oil

    Mix until you have a pasty consistency. Use to scrub bathtubs, sinks and tile surfaces. Rinse with water.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    A Year of No Sugar: a Recap

    There is something wrong with me reading a book about A Year of No Sugar while munching on frozen yogurt complete with chocolate topping that's left over from my child's party. But Eve Schaub's book shows just how prevalent sucrose and its cousins can be.

    I was initially intrigued by the the book, as I had actually attempted a day off no sugar on several months back and I was shocked by the sheer amount of sugar that was an everyday things I didn't think of. But as I'm a working  mom and a diabetic who's working to improve her health, I approached at A Year of No Sugar with the idea was there a lesson that I can learn and take to improve my children's and my family's health for the future. While I'm not certain the level that sugar is linked to other health conditions, other than the strain on your pancreas and increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes is never a good thing.

    Lately I've taken more attempts at reducing sugar in my own life, whether it's watching the carbohydrates that I use in my breakfast or simply counting carbohydrates to match my insulin. It's so surprising how quickly the sugar in any form  -- honey, sucrose, etc. -- adds up. Even things that I might otherwise ignore, like ketchup and pasta sauce, have extra added sugar in it.

    After my one-day, frustrating experience, the idea of a family with giving it up for an entire year blew me away. It wasn't easy by any course; in fact the family enabled "cheat days," which probably helped their sanity and saved the project. Most interesting to me was when Schaub detailed her family's trip to Italy and how vastly different other countries see the use of sweet treats and sugar within processed foods.

    What did I learn from her Year of No Sugar? The book reinforced what I learn time and time again from registered dietitians: Moderation is key. You don't have to completely remove sugar from your diet - but any reduction in it will have a positive impact on your health. I'm encouraged by the fact the kids were healthier during that year-long experiment.

    Saturday, July 19, 2014

    Removing letters from a shirt - Easy way to revive old school spirit shirts

    Not long ago we attended our church's annual children's clothing sale, and my daughter found a volleyball sweatshirt for the school's team that was to die for. She begged for it.

    It was cute, I admit.

    And 50 cents. I couldn't argue much. So I said yes.

    And then I got home and realized. The sweatshirt was personalized.

    Luckily it had vinyl lettering, which is typically heat transferred, so I wondered if the vinyl letters could be removed with heat too.

    I went basic-basic and started with my hair dryer, heating the letters on high.

    And it worked...After I heated the letters, I was able to peal the letters off the shirt! Now we have a low-budget way for my daughter to wear a team sweatshirt this winter.