Tuesday, August 31, 2010

End of August Update

Let me start off by giving you a quick overall summary:

Current weight = 163 pounds.
Total weight loss = 33 pounds.
Well being = I feel fantastic.
Clothes = Need refitting.
Impact of diet on family = Turning slightly negative.

At the beginning of this journey my personal weight target was 166 pounds. I last saw 166 pounds when I graduated from university back in the early 1990's .... that's a long time ago. Back then I dieted and exercised my butt off to get down to a weight I felt good about. Now that I'm here again so quickly I find my focus isn't on losing weight any longer ... I am now focused on finding a weight I can maintain going forward. There isn't much more weight to lose. That's the good news.

The disappointing news is that this journey is knocking our family chemistry off balance. I realize now that I have embarked on a one person journey and I underestimated the impact this diet would have on the rest of the family. Essentially, the more time I spend in the kitchen means less time for Barb and the kids. Going forward I will have to try to balance my time more effectively so that we can spend more time together as a family.

One way we plan to spend more time together is by going to our local farmers market every weekend. Barb and the kids enjoy looking for local fruits and vegetables in the grocery store and they welcome the idea of the whole family making this a weekly event. The kids are really buying in to the new system and they are starting to ask questions about where the food on their plate comes from and why it is so important to eat local produce. The change is starting to take root ... that's exciting!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A beautiful weekend

I rarely have a lot of time to kick back and relax during the weekend so this past weekend I decided to set aside some time to 'do nothing'. My quiet time only lasted a few minutes but I enjoyed it all the same. For those few brief minutes things were peaceful and tranquil and I was able to enjoy the sounds of the birds, the breeze and the insects.

It was another productive weekend in the kitchen where I managed to make some yogurt, feta cheese, pitas, spaghetti sauce, potato chips and a zucchini quiche. My meals this week should be easy as a result.

Lately my favorite meal has been pita pizzas ... they are perfect for those times when you are hungry but don't want to wait along time to eat. Simply take a pita or two ... add some tomato sauce, mozzarella and a topping or two and toast them for a few minutes. Absolutely perfect. Now if I could only manage to always have those ingredients available all the time I would be in good shape

On a sad note I must report that I ate my last cucumber this weekend. Of course I used it in my last gazpacho soup for the year .... Mmmmm mmmm good. I'm not sure what meal I'll put in rotation to replace gazpacho soup but with fall approaching a good goat stew might do the trick. I have a pound of stewing goat meat thawing in the fridge that I plan on making tonight.

Who knows, it might just turn out to be my new favourite!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spring break is over!

Fifteen young roosters have had their day in the sun and are now in the freezer. I'd like to think that they enjoyed their brief stay with us. It has to be a much better life here than in some massive chicken farm where they never set foot outside.

I didn't have the time nor the desire to do 'the deed' myself so I took them to a local poultry processor who cleaned them up for me. The time spent loading the chickens in the van, making the 1.5 hour round trip to the butcher and then picking them up the next day is well worth $2.50 per bird. Butchering chickens is a smelly and messy job. I don't mind doing one myself from time to time but not 15.

The atmosphere in the barnyard is much more relaxed now that the roaming testosterone gang has departed. The hens can now forage without being constantly harassed.

I did keep one Barred Rock rooster just in case I want to hatch out some more chicks in the future. Before I set him free I took a few minutes to explain the rules to him ... 1) I'm in charge 2) Don't cause trouble and 3) No attacking people. Pretty simple. If he follows those rules we will get along famously for many years to come. If he doesn't ... he'll be joining his friends in the freezer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good eating and bad news

I spent Saturday making some meat balls, tomato sauce and some broad egg noodles. In the end I made enough to last four meals which makes it well worth all the time and effort.

I also spent a fair bit of time in the kitchen on Sunday making mozzarella, bread and a butternut squash dish. The butternut squash dish tastes more like a dessert then part of a main meal. It tastes more like a pudding actually.

The recipe is quite simple if you would like to try it.

5 pounds of butternut squash
1/4 cup of goat butter
4 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons salt

You peel, cut and boil the butternut squash until done. Then use a food processor to purée the squash in small batches. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Spread the mixture in a lasagna dish and bake at 350 F for 1 hour (uncovered). Then let stand for 15 minutes. It's that easy.

And now for the bad news .... Lucy got a bad cut on her leg after jumping onto one of the glass cold frames on Saturday morning. She was simply too heavy and broke through the glass top. I discovered the injury early and I was able to bandage her up decently. The wound doesn't seem to be bugging her at all but I do worry about it getting infected. Lucy is an important part of this journey ... I wouldn't be able to make it without her.

Goats appear to be very resilient so I hope she will heal quickly and this won't turn in to a big issue. Cross your fingers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buddy's in the dog house

You can likely tell from the picture of Buddy that he's gotten himself in a bit of trouble. He normally has a free run of the property 24/ 7 and he really does try to be good. But yesterday he caught and killed a wandering young hen.

I don't think he means to kill them .... he just can't help himself when the opportunity presents itself. I caught him red handed when I came home from work yesterday and he knew he was in trouble the minute he saw me pull in the driveway. As punishment he's lost his freedom for a little while so he can have some quiet time to think about what he did. Hopefully, after his sentence is up, we can find a way to stop this behavior.

On a brighter note, once I calmed down from dealing with Buddy, Barb presented me with some freshly baked snack crackers. She made them with goat butter and a mixture of whole wheat and rye flour with spices sprinkled over some to enhance their flavour. Very healthy and better tasting than store bought crackers ... hands down. I ate the entire tray while relaxing in front of the TV. Let me know if you'd like the recipe posted on the blog ... I'm sure Barb wouldn't mind sharing it :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fall is approaching

This picture doesn't do the scene justice but this is how Lucy watches as we milk her. It always feels a bit awkward when she does this because I never know what she's thinking. It's like having someone watch over your shoulder while you're working .... it makes you worry that you might be doing something wrong. She eventually turns her attention back to her grain bucket but before she does we make eye contact and I get a chance to thank her for her milk.

I've noticed this week that it's usually dark out now when I milk Lucy at night. The days are definitely getting shorter and the evenings are getting cooler. That means fall is just around the corner. The bulk of my garden is starting to die back so I spent some time last night pulling the harvested corn stalks to make room for a fall vegetable planting. If I'm lucky I might get a second chance at some carrots and peas. My spring plantings didn't produce a single morsel and I would really like some for my winter chicken noodle soup recipe.

Since I planted my garden fairly early this spring all my crops are pretty much ready for harvest and over the weekend I hope to make room in the garden for an even bigger fall planting. I'll enjoy watching new seedlings emerge from the soil and I hope to extend the growing season as long as possible. Wow .... this summer is flying by quickly .... where did all the time go?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pick dinner night

We started a family tradition a couple of years ago where each person in the family gets a special 'pick dinner night' marked on the calendar. The idea was meant to get the kids excited about cooking and to introduce them to new foods. When your pick dinner night comes along you can be adventurous or go for your favourite meal .... whatever you like. Everyone is expected to help prepare the meal and to at least try everything that is made.

It was Michael's pick dinner night last night and he asked to have homemade pizza that was 100 meter diet compliant. Thanks Michael!

We made 4 pizzas in total ... 2 were worthy of the diet. Fresh pizza dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, green peppers, onions and ground goat meat.

For dessert Michael requested a cheese cake which Barb happily prepared. Unfortunately I didn't have any cream cheese ready so I had to settle for a slice of zucchini loaf which was excellent in it's own right.

The kids have really taken to the pick dinner night tradition and they have asked for it to happen more frequently. That's fine with us. We love the tradition ourselves and we like it when the boys show an interest in cooking. It's a great opportunity for some quality family time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 100 Mile Challenge

Barb and I came across the show The 100 Mile Challenge on TV last night. The show is on GlobalTV at 10 PM EST on Wednesdays. You can find more information here.

We had not heard about the show before but the title alone was enough to peak our interest so we happily watched.

The families on the program are participating in a challenge to source and eat food that is produced within 100 miles of Mission, B.C. Last night was episode 2 in the 6 part series. I could relate to many of the emotions and situations the family's found themselves faced with. I loved and shared the family's sense of adventure and discovery and I especially liked seeing their appreciation for locally grown food begin to develop.

Barb and I will be regular viewers for the remaining 4 episodes ... I hope you'll tune in with us. You can watch the episodes online via the link above if you would like to catch up.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who let the roosters out?

Delilah did.

You can see her in the picture sunning herself on top of the barn. Doesn't she look proud of her accomplishment?

She learned to jump up on top of the chicken wire covering the chicken pens and then up on to the roof. She then taught her brother, Chocolate, how to do it too.

Playing on the roof wasn't enough for them though. They then proceeded to make holes in the chicken wire so they could drop down into the chicken pens to eat the chicken's food. Once they got in the pen they needed a way to get out so they broke through the fence to do it.

Now, these chicken pens were designed to keep the young roosters and hens separated from each other. As a result of all the holes in the fence we now have over a dozen amorous young roosters with free get out of jail cards running around the place. Not to mention the couple dozen hens trying to out run them. It's like spring break at Daytona Beach around here.

We are now forced to tear down all the fencing and rebuild it in such way that the goats can't destroy it again. No small task but it must be done .... and soon. The hens are already on an egg laying strike to protest the new living arrangements. I don't blame them.

On the other hand the rooters seem to be enjoying themselves ;)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Doing it 'old school' with ratatouille

The other day a friend suggested that our garden had all the ingredients needed to make a good old fashioned French dish ... Ratatouille. I've seen the kids movie but I've never tried the recipe. After a little research on the web I learned that ratatouille was originally a peasant dish that dates back to 18th century France although I would guess that it's been around a lot longer than that. It makes use of the fresh vegetables that you would have in abundance during the summer. This sounds like my kind of dish ... I'm sold.

The ingredients we used were:

1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
4 small yellow onions
3 large tomatoes
2 green peppers
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons oil
20 basil leaves

Cut the zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and onions in to 1/2 inch pieces while dicing the garlic. Lightly fry the onions in the oil until lightly
golden and then add the green peppers and garlic and continue to cook until the peppers are just beginning to get soft. Add the zucchini and continue to cook until the zucchini is just getting soft. Then add the tomatoes and the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes liquify and the desired 'softness' is achieved. Serve hot or cold.

I can see why ratatouille was so popular in the 18th century. Simple, easy to make and delicious. You can mix it up and add whatever spices you like ... it's very flexible.

Please give it a try ... I think you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Goat soap making 101

Making goat soap is actually a very simple process once you have the supplies. Finding the supplies is the tricky part. You'll need:

2 cups fresh goat milk
2 cups coconut oil (or another oil substitute)
2 cups lard
1/4 cup lye crystals
1/4 cup water
Scented oil (lavender, rosemary, etc.)

I found an easy soap mould plan on the web but you can make a mould using a cardboard box and some wax paper.

Dissolve the lye in the 1/4 cup of water (stir well). The mixture will heat up significantly so please be careful and wear gloves and eye
protection. Next, in a stainless steel pot, simply heat and stir the goat milk, oil and lard together until it reaches about 120 F.

Transfer the pot to a sink partially full of ice water and very slowly add a small amount of lye. Keep stirring and add a little bit more lye every few minutes. The lye will react with the oil and lard which will create the rusty orange colour. At this point you can add your scented oil as well.

Continue to stir the mixture until you can see a trace pattern after you drizzle a spoon full of it on the surface - be patient.

Once you have the trace
pattern you can pour the liquid into your mould and set it aside to harden. After 24 hours remove the soap from the mould and cut them to the desired shape. Set the bars of soap away to cure for 6 weeks before using.

And there you have it ..... fresh goat milk soap.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Easy peasy

Do you remember Anakin? Anakin's blog post. She started to lay eggs recently. It takes about 6 months before a new hen starts laying eggs and Anakin is right on schedule. You can see the difference in the size and colour of her eggs in the picture. Her eggs are slightly smaller and darker than the older hens. It's always nice to see a new chicken start laying ... that means more food for the diet!

Speaking of more food ... I harvested quite a bit of fresh veggies over the weekend. I made some more gazpacho soup as well as another jar of pickles for the winter. We cooked the remaining tomatoes down to make tomato sauce and combined the sauce with homemade mozzarella, ricotta, ground goat meat and large egg noodles to make a great tasting lasagna. It was a bit of effort but well worth it.

It's been two months since I've had any potato chips so I couldn't resist taking two medium size potatoes and deep frying them for a snack on Sunday night. Oh man were they good. I savoured every single chip. Next time I will have to whip up some kind of dip to go with them.

I am definitely in the "sweet spot" on this diet and I am enjoying the bounty while it lasts!