Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yarn Piggie has moved!

The bad news is Yarn Piggie won't have any more blog posts.

The great news is there are and will be LOTS of new posts on my new blog, The Farmers Taft!

I have had a tremendous amount of fun blogging about yarn, knitting, spinning, fostering, and family here.  However, our lifestyle has changed drastically in that we are eating a much healthier, whole, more raw, and organic diet.  Blogging about all that here on YarnPiggie just seems.... outdated.
You can find future stories about our family's adventures in organic gardening, healthy food, and fun ways to get fit on my new blog,  I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Eastern meets Middle Eastern meets a very confused Mexican.

The Mexican was a prep for another night, and he was tremendously relieved to know he was no part of the peace talks being commenced tonight.

Ali Baba's chicken was face down in fervent religious humility.  The vegetables were swimming in a decadent bath of curry and coconut milk and really had very little to say, even to one another.  They were communing on a higher level but it came off as aloofness.

 The bread was on vacation from Field to Fork and was sunning itself in the last few rays of a sunny March day.

 The floury cartel.  Amigos, unite!

This post brought you by the letter A, and the prescription sleep aid Ambien.  You're welcome.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kale Chips, Banana Bread, and Cuties

I'm a little bit overwhelmed at how many pics I have and how much I haven't blogged in the last few weeks, so I'm just going to dive right in.

We made Kale Chips (tip:  bake at 250 degrees for 33 minutes, not as directions say in recipe) and Best of Everything Veggie Burger crumbles the other night for dinner.
We used the crumbles on a big beautiful salad with organic salsa and lots of veggies.
We have a lot of salads, and they're big dinner salads, not side salads, so we go through a lot of lettuce.  I also take a salad for lunch 3-4 days a week.  If we had to chop lettuce and put it through the salad spinner every night, it would be a hassle.  We make salads an easy go-to with every meal by having the boring prep work done ahead of time.  You know those big containers you get the spring greens in?  We always have one of those with spring greens in it, and one with romaine all chopped and ready to go.  This way, we only have to cut up lettuce maybe twice a week.  Cutting up a couple of tomatoes (or using the organic grape tomatoes that are abundant right now) and an avocado is a breeze. 
For our dressing, I usually make a quadruple batch (the original recipe makes 1/2 cup) once a week and just keep a small earthenware pitcher of it in the fridge.  That way it's easy to grab and set out next to the bins. 

Our go-to dressing recipe is not very healthy.  It's a dupe of the Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad dressing.  I eat 1-2 salads/day every single day, and frankly, I wouldn't be able to do it with a twist of lemon, and I'd rather not meet the person who could.  The way I see it, I use about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of dressing on each salad, just barely drizzled on.  It makes it delicious, and I now crave salads the way I used to crave deep fried cheese curds.  Maybe I'll eventually get to the point of just wanting to eat a big pile of plain lettuce, but I'll take what successes I get right now.

Richard and I menu-planned today, which is something we usually do on the weekends so we know what to get at the grocery store.  We look at our cookbooks, and do online searches, and talk about what we find and that helps us come up with new ideas to try.  This week we seem to be trending toward eastern cuisine.  Tonight we used a hummus mix from the bulk bins at Outpost and blended it with a red pepper we roasted in the oven on a cookie sheet.  Richard made a whole-wheat bannock flatbread that was delicious, and that along with cut-up fresh veggies made a light yet filling dinner.

On the menu for the rest of the week is Ali Baba Chicken with a side dish of Indian Coconut Curried Vegetables; Creamy Chicken Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad (minus the goat cheese, *hork*), which we'll have over a big green salad; Best of Everything Veggie Burger crumbles in homemade whole wheat tortillas; our favorite Quick Quiche (which we triple, using 4 ounces cheese total, 4 strips of bacon total, 3 tbls. butter total, use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, and put as many cups of vegetables as will fit into it); Lentil Soup and Whole Wheat Cornbread; and Cholent.  What the hell is Cholent, right?  Evidently it's a sabbath stew which entirely non-Jewish people can eat.  The official description, from the "Cooking with Beans" cookbook, is "a long-simmered dish of beans, grains, vegetables, and beef."  I'll report on this from the other side of this week.

This is where the magic happens:
And this is our 5-cent thift sale, new in box Presto air popper, which made for a terrific date night movie night in our bedroom a few Friday nights ago when it was snowing cats and dogs:
A couple of weeks ago I struggled mightily with the Cheetos Demon, and had to actually buy a bag of them from the vending machine and dress it up with some truth in advertising:
I made this Healthy Banana Bread when I was craving sugar a week ago:
And these are my daughters, who I am putting here because they are so darned cute.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hippie-Dippy Granola Mom.

I should have realized I was skipping down this road when we started out this whole, raw, juicing, unprocessed food thing.  I am officially one of those moms that makes kids homemade granola bars because there's too many preservatives, sugar, and unpronouncable chemicals.  Plus, and this may be oversharing, but my kids are poop hoarders.  Let me explain.

They both have hereditary bowel problems; they don't poop for a week and then they howl while passing a fencepost. It's horrible, just horrible.  About a year ago we started giving them Miralax in their milk with dinner, and now they are just regular gals.  However, it's always really bothered me that we tried what should naturally work (no dairy/bananas/breads, tons of fruit and veggies) and nothing worked except giving them this "polyether compound with many applications from industrial manufacturing to medicine."  Really?  Industrial manufacturing?  I can't believe this stuff is sold for consumption.  So tonight I looked for a granola recipe. 

I found a recipe for Healthy Nut-Free Granola Bars on  Instead of using a 9 x 13 pan, I made a double batch and used a jelly roll pan.  They turned out beautifully.

I omitted the brown sugar entirely, and I didn't have any wheat germ.  I used 3/4 cup organic dried cranberries instead of 1/2 cup raisins and 1/4 cup cranberries.  Instead of butter I used melted coconut oil.  I also threw in a tablespoon or two of poppy seeds, and a couple of tablespoons of millet, for crunch.

Homemade high-fiber granola bars is one half of the equation.  The other half is what Miralax actually does:  it holds water in the stool and that's what softens it and helps move it along, which acts like peristalsis in moving material along in the bowel.  Water is the other component of this experiment.  I plan on being Nazi Poop Patrol every morning and make them drink 8 ounces of water as soon as they wake up, before they can watch TV.  Then they need to drink another 8 ounces with their breakfast granola bar.  Jess can take one to school for snack, or she can take her usual snack of an apple or carrot and celery sticks.  In the evening, they need to drink 8 ounces of water before dinner, and if they choose to have a granola bar after dinner, they need to drink 8 ounces of water with that as well.  Since they only get dessert on Tuesdays and Fridays, I am thinking they'll jump at the chance of any sort of treat after dinner every night.  Especially ones that look as inviting as these, right?

I hope this regimen, along with our new habit of having a big green salad before "real dinner" (per Jessica) every night, and using more whole grains and vegetables and less meat in our "real dinner", will have some real effect on their digestive problems.

Here's hopin' for poopin'.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our first quinoa recipe. Success!

On Sunday I was looking through one of the blogs I like to read, The Healthy Foodie.  She seems like a nice, down-to-earth person, and she takes way better pictures of food than I do. 

While browsing through her recipes, I came upon one for Quinoa Cakes and Poached Eggs.  Oh my.  Be still my heart!  I love poached eggs, and there's nothing finer than whole wheat toast breaking open an over-easy yolk.  We'll definitely try that some Sunday soon.

However, we were looking for recipes for weeknight dinners, so we decided to put the quinoa cakes on top of big green salads, with avocado, cucumber, red peppers, tomatoes, sliced almonds, paper-thin discs of radish, and a drizzling of Lime Ginger Dressing

The quinoa cakes called for bread crumbs.  Using our delicious homemade bread crumbs instead of the sawdust-textured store-bought variety was a very satisfying feeling.  For the cheese, we used a few ounces of gouda.

The quinoa cakes were fried in about 2 T. EVOO, and the recipe made nine 4-inch cakes.


I changed the dressing recipe up a bit.  I grated the fresh ginger, and omitted the garlic.  I substituted honey for the sugar, and 2 T. EVOO + 1 T. garlic grapeseed oil instead of the vegetable oil.  I also added a splash of white wine vinegar.  We had both jalapenos and jicama on hand, so I added both.  Then I blended the whole lot in a bullet-style processor.

Now that I've written up all the changes I made to the dressing, I see that I probably created an entirely different dressing in the end.  Well, either way, it was very good.  I picked it originally because I was looking for a dressing with both sweet and tart components, to play opposite the slightly salty flavor of the cheese in the cakes, and the comparably unctuous, crunchy fried crust.  All of those qualities were also complimented beautifully by the big chunks of avocado, and the sharp bite of radish.

The quinoa cakes were so satisfying.  The crunch, the flavor, the texture, the warmth, were all perfect pairings with the fresh crispy romaine and tender spring greens.  Definitely a winner!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Farmers Taft

My but we are embracing the agrarian lifestyle lately.  Farmer Taft is preparing for spring, and lustfully thumbing through seed catalogs.  He mentioned to me yesterday that he is thinking about sprouting his own seeds this spring using peat sprouting trays.  I think he said that the tray itself with 30 peat sprout containers was $50, and the peat refills for the tray were $20 for 30. 

I reminded him of the magazine cover I pointed out at the grocery store a few weeks ago that showed little sprouts coming up out of an eggshell.  So today when we made quiches for lunch we saved the eggshells. 

I guess the thing to remember is when you're planting your little sprouts (shell and all), just make sure to crush it a bit so the roots have an easier time getting through to the soil.

Saturday I had some time to myself, so I went to Slow Pokes in Grafton to check it out.  I found some organic raw milk cheese, grass-fed organic beef, and better prices on raw cacao and coconut oil than I'd found online.  The produce and meat are all local.  For example, the beef I got came from Kay's HomeFarm Meats, just outside of Cedarburg.  I'm very happy to have found this wonderful, reasonably-priced source for local organic produce and meats. 

Saturday night I decided to try out a raw recipe, so I checked out Ani Phyo's Raspberry Ganache fudge Cake video on YouTube.  Here's the recipe, and here's the pics. 

Richard's summation:  "This is GOOD.  Wow.  You could take this up north and they'd never know it wasn't just a flourless cake, that it was raw."

Pretty high praise, that you could fool the folks up north!

One last project this weekend was to take the breads out of the freezer that I'd been saving to make bread crumbs, and actually make the bread crumbs.  I used two lovely rustic-style loaves from a local bakery that we hadn't been able to eat before they got stale.  I let them thaw, and cut them up into cubes before putting them on a cookie sheet and drying them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 25 minutes.  After a few spins in the food processor, I ended up with a 3-cup container of high-quality bread crumbs that will be part of some lovely home-cooked dish in the future.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Criminal Behavior.

I am a criminal.  I wasn't caught, but I did the crime.  I calmly and guiltlessly went through the Self-Checkout and stole these two chocolate bars tonight:
Inadvertant shoplifting.  Have you ever done it?  Did you fess up, even if you'd made it all the way to your car?  This wasn't wrong change from the cashier, that I could correct with a question (which I do on an alarmingly regular basis - how much wrong change do I pay for in mark-up on goods??)  I didn't realize I'd shoplifted these until I got out to my car with the cart, popped my trunk, moved a bag, and the chocolate bar fell down from in front of my purse to the bottom of the cart.

When I realized what I'd done, emotions flickered through me like northern lights:  guilt, fear, elation, fear, smugness, guilt, and then finally, victory.  I'm not sure why that last one was in there but I noted it because it was so .... American.  To feel victorious about something we absolutely did NOT intend to do, but turned out well.  Like a slop shot in pool, or hitting all the green lights on a street without having to slow down.

So I guess if the Grafton Five-0 want to arrest me, they have reasonable suspicion.  But according to Wikipedia, they do not have probable cause, and I guarantee the evidence of my crime will be long gone.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Whole Grains!

Richard and I are dragging our reluctant children on a new adventure - whole/raw food and juicing!  For two and a half weeks we've been on the no-processed-food train, and we're feeling good.  We have tons of fresh veggies and fruit everyday, both in juice form and raw food form.  We're cooking healthier, using whole grains and less meat, and we've switched to about 75% organic.  Our goal is 100% organic. 

I have been drinking LOTS of water, and whenever I have a processed food craving, it's usually because I've forgotten to drink water in the last hour or so and my body is trying to tell me it's thirsty.  So I drink a couple of long pulls from my filtered water bottle, and poof!  The craving is gone. 

I have been craving carbohydrates, however, and so I have been nosing around the internet for whole grain, organic, healthy recipes for breads and sweets.  Sunday night I made a - well, let's call it "rustic" - loaf of Flax Seed Wheat Bread.  It didn't rise very well because in addition to the generous amount of flax seeds the recipe called for, I loaded it down with sesame seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, and poppy seeds.  I have never made bread before so it was only AFTER it was very much not rising that I started looking into what not to do with bread. 

However, it did turn out edible, but I would not use all the seeds next time, just the flax seeds.  I also read through the comments posted to the blog I found this recipe on, and people who used milled flax seeds found out that was an oops too, because milled flax really soaks up the moisture in this recipe. 

So here it is, my beautiful brown rustic little brick:

Within 20 minutes of pulling this out of the oven, and with dinner running an hour late and 5 hungry people hovering in the kitchen, it was down to this:

And then there was one.  It was on my plate, and it was loaded with organic strawberry jam:

I also made some Apple Oatmeal Whole Wheat Muffins.  Delicious!  I didn't take any pictures, but I will next time.  There will definitely be a next time.

For the last few weeks, I've been daydreaming about chocolate chip cookies, and wondering what in the world I was going to do about it.  All things in moderation works pretty well with many things, but chocolate chip cookies is not among them. 

So tonight I searched for some healthier version of chocolate chip cookies.  I knew I wouldn't find a completely healthy substitute, but I was looking for something with less or no refined sugar, and using whole wheat so they were more satisfying than white flour cookies.  I found a great recipe in Healthy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, on

They turned out chewy, moist, and very, very satisfying to my sweet tooth, without being overly sweet. Just perfect!

Well, as we continue our dive into this new territory, I'll keep posting recipes we've tried.  Even the ones that brick out.  :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Husband is Famous, and I Get to Shag Him

Richard was in another episode of Hoarders this week (Judy and Jerry).  It was filmed in June of this year.  We spent Monday evening at our friends' house to watch the show.  Click here if you'd like to watch the episode.

He was in an episode last year too, but he only got about 3 seconds of camera time.  This time, he had about 7 appearances.  He was even shoveling the living room in one shot.  (In another shot, he bent over, butt to camera.  I *loved* it!  He has the cutest butt!  Don't tell him I told you that.)

The head organizer on the episode is Geralin Thomas, who's always been one of my favorite organizers on the show.  Here's she and Richard at the hoarder's house in June:
How cute is she??  And Richard says she's a sweetheart in person too.  Of course, all women just instantly love Richard, so he sees them at their best.

He's my sweetie, and he's famous.  And I get to shag him.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Children Are Our Future

A few weeks ago, Richard and I took the girls to visit their grandma in the hospital.  Halfway through the visit, AFTER hugs and kisses, she told us she has MRSA. MRSA is a highly contagious, highly antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria.  On our way out of the visit, the nurse sternly told us to go home and shower immediately.  We were appropriately horrified, and went home to take some nice long Silkwood showers.

The next day, we told the girls to watch for red bumps, after explaining what MRSA was and why we were to be watchful. We had our We're Serious But Don't Be Scared faces on.  They listened soberly, and then continued hitting each other with magic wands and shrieking.

Since then, our little hypochondriac Jessica has been telling us about every single tiny red dot on her entire body.  Last night, there were three on her thigh. They're nothing. Dry skin, or a rogue capillary, perhaps a wee pimple. They were smaller than the tip of a ballpoint pen.

I am so tired of those searching eyes, that gleeful, hopeful anticipation that something will be terribly wrong.  I asked her last night if she's very worried about MRSA.  Eyes shining and lips twitching trying not to smile, she tugged a frown into place and said, Yes, Mommy. 

I asked her if she'd like to see pictures of MRSA.  She nodded soberly.  Shining.  Twitching.

I googled "MRSA infection" on my phone.  To save you a new tab on your browser, click here for what I found.  (Do NOT click if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, have a delicate stomach, or are having a snack right now. Just sayin'.)

I told her they're pretty gory, and asked if she was sure.  She said yes.  I slowly turned my phone screen toward her.  She looked for about 3 seconds, literally turned on her heel and said, Well, I don't have THAT.  She looked a bit green around the gills. 

I think I may have seen the last of the Red Dot Brigade.