Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Food "Safety" & Politics

Don't be afraid of Big Government. Don't be afraid of Big Business. Be very afraid of the status quo: Big Government and Big Business working together.

Feds order farmer to destroy his own wheat crops: The shocking revelations of Wickard vs Filburn

Monday, November 8, 2010

Immune boosting sugar cookies!

I'm back from my little hiatus, and there is lots to say.  However, before I get going on all that I must post about my new sugar cookie recipe.  It's really yummy!  You are also probably wondering why I say it's "immune boosting."

I love using coconut oil wherever possible in my cooking at home.  It's one of the healthiest (if not the healthiest) oil you can use, in my opinion.  Rather than the long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is made up of medium chain triglycerides.  Long chain fatty acids generally get stored as fat in your body, whereas  the MCTs get burned for energy.  Also, the only substance higher in lauric acid than coconut oil is human milk.  The cool thing about lauric acid is that once ingested, it converts to monolaurin which has some amazing antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Now that I've educated myself on how scary some of the stuff one can by at your grocery store is, I avoid all highly processed vegetable oils for my family.  When recipes call for "shortening" I have to get a little creative.  Sometimes you can substitute butter for shortening, but you won't get a soft cookie that way.  Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature...well, what's considered room temperature anywhere outside of the low desert anyway.  (It's still liquid at the usual room temperature in our house) In my experience it is a good substitute for the shortening if you prefer not to use lard.

So anyway, here's how I made them:

2/3 cup unrefined organic coconut oil (sometimes called virgin)
2/3 cup butter (if it's not organic, at least make sure it's rBST-free)
1 1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs (or 3 pullet-sized eggs for those of you with new chickens!)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (my favorite is Nielson-Massey)

Sift together then mix with above:
3 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute 1:1 with white whole wheat flour too)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Refrigerate for at least an hour so the dough can harden.  It will be easier to roll them in the sugar that way, but isn't necessary.  Then heat up oven to 350 degrees.  Using one of those old school ice cream scoops, scoop out dough, roll in more sugar, and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on how big you make your cookies).

You can increase the lauric acid content of these cookies even more by using butter from grass-fed cows and eggs from chickens that have access to pasture. 

Now, I know that not everyone loves the smell and taste of coconut (there are some really crazy people out there).  The dough will definitely smell and taste like coconut, but once they are baked, the coconut flavor is more difficult to pick up.  One might not even notice unless told it was there.  I'm also willing to bet that this recipe would be awesome with pure almond extract.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Labor Day weekend, Part 1 (better late than never!)

We had lots of fun this past Labor Day weekend.  We went up to our fave dispersed camping spot near the Blue Ridge Reservoir in Coconino National Forest.

Grace used to call it "The Coconut Forest"...one of those little things that I can still hear her say.  I hold that memory dear to my heart.

Waiting for the fire...therefore waiting for dinner
 Note our 1969 Starcraft tent trailer in the background.  The Lobocki clan camps in style.

See that goose egg?
It took him 15 minutes to get hurt from the time we were all set-up.  A personal best.  In fact, he holds the family record.

A rarely seen frown-free Luke picture

Why does it have to be so difficult to photograph three year old boys?  It should be a law of nature that three year old boys cooperate with pictures so that their doting mothers can look at them, thinking positive thoughts, while the three year old boys are being challenging.  Gosh, I love the little imp.

Look at the little dears.
This is the kind of photo I was speaking of above.  I will accept the cheesy smile.  At least he wasn't pretending the camera is a stormtrooper.

They were patiently waiting for s'mores.

Okay fine.  I was not-so-patiently waiting for s'mores.  They just thought the fire was cool.

Look at his face now.
Wildlife photographers have it easy. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Planting some beans

Little Ralph quickly tired of not being able to help plant the tiny herb seeds.  So, he did what any Little Ralph would do and he took matters into his own hands.  Literally.

He decided bean seeds were a more manageable size and marched outside with the seed packet and clear intentions.

He's completely brilliant.  I didn't even have to explain to him the symbiotic relationship that results with companion plantings of corn and beans.  He already knew.  

Dumping out a few seeds

Placing them just so
Grace carefully watering our newly planted herb seeds
Time for some water...this ain't his first time at the rodeo
Accepting the help of a big sister's steady hand

You don't have to ask.  I have no idea why Grace was only wearing one shoe.  She's my kid...if you know me, that should be all the explanation that is necessary.

Little Ralph's rooster impression

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A new skirt for Princess Grace

I have enormous respect and admiration for crafty (literally speaking) women.  I've never been particularly creative or artistic, but I've longed for the knowledge of the traditional feminine arts, the "old ways," that have been largely cast aside through the decades due to feminism, technology, and our society's quest for all things easy and fast.  

It isn't often that a woman living in the year 2010 has to sit back and ask herself, "what would Ma Ingalls do?"  I think it's sad that so many of us women have lost the creative gumption of our great-grandmothers. 

I've had my sewing machine for nearly three years.  I just now finished my first sewing project.  It's a little pathetic, I know.  Sewing machines are very intimidating to me.  In a moment of naivete, three years ago, I decided I could teach myself how to use a sewing machine.   I taught myself how to knit, so darn it, I could teach myself how to sew.

This might sound sensible.  It isn't.  There are few things less intimidating than two knitting needles and a skein of yarn.  (Of course there are some complicated, advanced knitting stitches...but my 5 year old can learn how to cast on for crying out loud!)  I hit a wall that sad day when I unpacked my sparkling new sewing machine and tried...and tried again...and tried some more, to figure out the textbook of a manual that came with it.

Fast forward a few years and as fate would have it...my favorite neighbor knows her way around a sewing machine.  Between her patience, and lack of expectation for my perfection, I managed to finish a skirt for my lovely daughter Grace. The pattern is The Girly Skirt by Pink Fig. 

Yay!  My thirsty feminine soul has been quenched!  For today anyway... ;)

A close-up of the fabric.  I just love reproduction fabrics.
Little Ralph offering his critique of Grace's new skirt
She insisted on a curtsey.

With a skirt this fancy, one must always bob a curtsey.
Naturally the close of every photo session ends with love.
You didn't really believe that last caption, did you?  :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Goat, decoded

"Hand over the sweet feed and no one gets hurt."

"Maybe I can lick the lid off."
"Let's rub noses, she won't be able to resist the cuteness."

Friday, August 20, 2010

First day of school

Last week was the kids' first week of school.  Grace loves her school and loves that she has homework every night (we'll see how long that lasts).  Luke is slowly warming up to school.  Grace is in kindergarten this year, attending a great local charter school.  Luke is attending preschool at the local elementary school, having qualified for speech therapy. 

Proud of his "han-pent" from his first day
Proud to be a "big kid"
The trepidation was palpable

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My future entomologist

Little Ralph loves bugs.  Yes I know many children have a fascination with all things gross, making goofy, inappropriate jokes about bugs, rear ends, and excrement of all kinds.  However, my baby LOVES bugs.  He doesn't think they are gross.  He thinks they are fantastic.  Every time he sees one he runs in to find me with widened eyes yelling, "BUH!" (This is "bug" in the language of little Ralphs)

He likes to pick them up, and study their legs, then set them back on the ground squealing with delight when they run off.

He insists that I appreciate how wonderful they are as well.  This leads to some interesting situations.  I won't bore you with the details.  I will just let your imagination do the work with these two words:  shower and cockroach.

A box elder beetle undergoing scientific study

Monday, August 2, 2010

The demise of the "Leaning Tower of Saguaro"

We have...er, had...two very tall and very old Saguaro cacti in our front yard.  We've now been in the low Sonoran Desert for nearly four years and the novelty of these majestic specimens of the plant world has yet to be lost on me.  They.  Are.  Awesome. 

This one has been leaning for some time.  Ralph and I knew it was only a matter of time before it could no longer hold itself up, and that time came a few days ago.  We had some monsoon rains, and it finally toppled over.

Happy it missed our baby orange tree...and our house. 

Just pretend you don't see the weeds.  Thanks.
There have been many cactus wrens, gilded flickers, and gila woodpeckers raise their families here.  I'm sad to see its end.  The current plan is to let nature take its course and let this old beauty rot away to its skeleton.  Ralph's back is incredibly grateful for this plan.  Trust me, it's a lot heavier than it looks.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A few July pictures of the littlest Lobockis.

Who needs a pool when you've got a metal bucket?

Grace and her "baby boy"

The best chicken-catcher this side of the Mississippi

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wonderful compost fodder

I aspire to be self-sufficient.  As I learn and experiment, I'm trying to use as few inputs as possible.  Waste not, want not.

When we started house-hunting back in 2008, we had these requirements:
  1. No HOA
  2. As much land as we could afford, as close to the city as possible
  3. A house in at least livable condition, willing to consider a fixer-upper
When we found our house, my first stop was to check the municipal code of the Town of Gilbert.  This is a must if one desires to keep any sort of poultry or livestock.  Ralph and I wanted to do/grow/raise whatever we wanted on our little piece of the Earth.  

Keeping poultry and livestock has its advantages.  The obvious reason:  to have your own source of eggs, meat, and dairy from animals raised, fed, and treated just the way you'd prefer.  The other reason is for their manure.  God's creation is pretty incredible; everything about animals serves a purpose, including poo.  If one's aim is to garden organically, with as few inputs as possible, then using manure from your animals to add to your compost pile is a must.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A moment of peace

With a house full of the bustling activity that comes from children and animals, one must appreciate the quiet moments.  It's a warm afternoon; 106 degrees outside, 86 degrees inside.  I hear Luke in the other room putting Legos together, little Ralph is napping, and Grace is playing with her American Girl dolls.  The dogs are napping, the chickens and turkeys are resting in the shade, our brand new Nubian doelings are contentedly chewing their cud.  I've been busy this afternoon preparing tonight's dinner: chicken pot pie.  A dish like this just isn't the same unless made with a stewing hen.  Indeed, this is a perk of having your own chickens.  Normally I would seize the opportunity to wash up the dishes currently waiting for me in the sink.  However, I decided to take a moment to type out my very first post here.  For far away loved ones, local friends, and those I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting;  these will be snapshots of my daily life.