Monthly Archives: July 2009

Healthy Chocolate

<<Please explain “healthy chocolate” :o) Thanks!<<

I know, it seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  But here’s the recipe and you’ll quickly see why I call it healthy chocolate.

Healthy Chocolate

  • 1/2 c. raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/8 – 1/4 c. honey

Melt the oil and then add the other ingredients, making sure powder is fully mixed in.  Pour into molds – you can use an ice cube tray, or pour in a thin layer into a pan.  (If you make it too thick, it’s hard to break into pieces.)  Freeze, then cut/break into pieces.  When I make this I give the kids pieces for a snack or even as part of breakfast.  As I said in the coconut oil post, it’s an easy way to get coconut oil into them.

I’ve made several variations –  the first one was with cacao powder and the smaller amount of honey called for.  This was excellent if you like bittersweet chocolate, but the kids didn’t think it was sweet enough.  When I made the next batch with cacao, I used the higher amount of honey called for and they liked it alot.  Then I ran out of cacao powder and experimented with using carob powder (which is naturally sweet and doesn’t have the bitterness of cacao) and the higher amount of honey. But they said it was too sweet, so next time I use carob I’ll have to use a smaller amount.  Then I tried using cocoa powder and used powdered stevia instead of honey, but the stevia was clunked up and so I took it out since it wasn’t dissolving in the heated mixture like I expected it to, but it left an aftertaste behind- no one liked that at all.  They really don’t like the taste of stevia.  Next time I’m going to use 1/4 c. of honey with cocoa powder; I think it should be the right balance since I think cocoa and cacao have the same flavor, but I’ll see!


Washing dishes – save time or money?

>>hi avivah! i am assuming that you probably have dealt with this question before, but i have a question about frugality of time. since reading your blog, i have become more aware of being frugal with all of my resources- space, energy, money, and time. so, the most recent question has to do with being frugal with time- how do you balance buying disposables- if you do at all- with choosing carefully how to spend your time? i have a few children of dishwashing age, but not enough to deal with the overwhelming amount of things that need to be washed. also, having constant piles in my kitchen stresses me out and limits my workspace in a room that is already hot and crowded. so, i am trying to weigh spending money on disposable cups, plates, etc. with making better choices about how we spend our money. any advice?? <<

I’m going to first link some of my past posts on related topics that I think will be helpful.  My kids do the dishes – here is our chore schedule from this past year (it’s time to make a new one for the coming year).  Two of the four oldest really don’t like this part of the schedule, and can’t wait for me to change the chore chart for this year.  But even when they weren’t doing dishes, I hardly used disposables at all.

Here is how I generally organize our house cleaning. This was written two years ago so some of the specifics are different now since we shifted chores around and took into account the kids’ requests for how they wanted to do things, but you’ll get the basic idea.

But in the end, you have to decide what your priorities are.

Practically speaking, remember that you can gradually cut back on your use of disposables – you don’t have to go cold turkey!  It might be too much to totally stop using disposables right away, so try it for your smallest meal of the day.  Or you can use paper plates for meals but use regular cups (or vice versa), or use disposables during the week and dishes on Shabbos (or vice versa).  Start to cut back on your use of disposables gradually.  It’s about progress – slow and steady wins the race.  Start small, and when that has become natural and part of your routine, you can add something else small.

It’s really how you want to spend your time that you have to determine.  Don’t mentally overwhelm yourself before you even start by piling on the work!  You know yourself.  If you can’t stand a mess and you don’t think you can give your kids at least part of the responsibility for dishwashing, then maybe you should focus your money saving efforts somewhere else. (I’m sure your kids will be happy if you ignore my suggestion to get them more involved in cleaning.  My kids came home this past year from their friends’ home – the ones they always told me did much fewer chores than they did – and announced that because the mother spoke to me, now the kids are washing the dishes.  It’s amazing that her kids still smile at me when they see me! :lol:)   There are lots of areas you can save money in and it’s overwhelming to try to work on them all at once.  It’s definitely true that the more you do for yourself, the more you save, but we all have limitations of time and energy.


DIY patio progress

Have you been wondering what’s happening with the patio we’re making?  It’s been a really big project due to the size of it and because of hauling all our own materials.  It’s been lots cheaper but lots more work!  It’s ended up that most of the time, we work one day, rest a day, which I didn’t purposely schedule but worked out well.  It kept everyone from getting totally wiped out.

We were hoping to have it finished by last night when the Nine Days started but didn’t make it.  For the last couple of hours in the evening, the kids were working fast and furious, trying to get it done, and realizing how close they were (earlier in the day everyone was feeling like it would take forever and there was no possibility it would be done in time, so they were moving in slow motion).  In case you’re wondering, I do actively participate in these projects even with a small infant (he’s 8 weeks now) – I spent hours chipping the mortar off hundreds of free bricks, and hauled lots of bricks and gravel.  We still have two or three hours of work on it but it’s going to have to wait until after Tisha B’av.

Midday they went to our monthly homeschool gathering, while ds16 went shopping for last minute camp things (more socks, undershirts).  If they had stayed home we’d easily have finished, and though they didn’t realize how close it would be, I knew we wouldn’t finish if they all went out. But I encouraged them to go anyway.  As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Actually, we easily would have been done by now but after two days of working on it and having it half finished, ds16 decided to pull it all up and start over.  It wasn’t an easy thing for him to choose, after putting in so many hours and so much work.  But he wasn’t happy with how it was turning out – the pattern was irregular and it was a bit uneven.  He told me he thought about how he would feel to have it all done and and after so much work for the final result to look like that, and realized there would be very little satisfaction in it.  I would never have asked him to redo it, but was glad he chose to because I felt the brick pattern looked somewhat haphazard.

(Parenthetically, he wanted a certain style of glasses, and a while back I jokingly told him I’d buy him a pair as payment if he made a patio for us.  He asked me if I would really do that, so I said, sure.  That was definitely a motivating factor, and I ordered them from zennioptical for him a couple of weeks ago.  He’s very happy with them, and I’m glad they came before he went to camp since that was important to him.  It was a definite win-win situation: he was happy to do the work and get the glasses, and I was happy to have it done and the glasses cost me under $30.)

Today we started our morning by going to a local art exhibit.  The artist is a friend who offered to come down and give us a personal tour of the exhibit, which was really nice of her.  The littles were very fresh from a full night of sleep and weren’t interested in standing around and listening to someone talk, so that made it a little harder.  And the baby who rarely spits up, spit up several times and naturally it was one of the rare occasions that we didn’t have a burp cloth with us – isn’t that always how it goes?  But in spite of that I enjoyed it and so did the older kids.

After that we took the littles to a local playroom where we stayed for an hour and a half.  It was very pleasant to let them run around and enjoy all the new toys.  While they did that, the middles signed up for a summer reading program.  When we finally came home, we had lunch, put the littles in for their naps, and the middles spent time studying their reading club materials and then spent the rest of the afternoon with a new bead kit, making keychains from plastic beads, kind of like macrame.  They’re pretty complicated and look really nice.

And my dh got a call from a friend in Israel today who he hasn’t spoken to in years, who called to say mazel tov on the baby.  How did he know we had a baby?  This is something fun about having a blog!  It seems one of you in another country said something to a friend in yet another country about me and my blog, and that person realized she knew me.  So she called me two weeks ago to say mazel tov.  Then that person told her best friend, who is married to a friend of dh’s from twenty years ago, that we had a baby.  That’s the friend who called today! 😆  Dh enjoyed catching up with him today.  And my blog was the catalyst for the connection – isn’t that nice?


Lentil Pecan Burgers

Early tomorrow morning my ds16 is leaving for camp.  Late this afternoon, I thought that it was too bad I hadn’t planned a nicer dinner since it’s his last dinner with us for four weeks, but I was already in the middle of dinner preparations.  When I said something, he told me he’ll appreciate a healthy dinner most since he’s going to be eating junky meals until he gets home. 

The main dish tonight was something I never made before, but everyone really liked it – lentil pecan burgers.  Together with that I served: baked potatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber rounds, corn and red pepper relish, lacto fermented pickles, and homemade mayonnaise.  I don’t usually serve dessert but adding dessert was a simple way to make it a little nicer, and we had a couple of pounds of organic cherries – half golden, half Bing.  (I got them at a super price – just .99 lb for the red, 1.49 lb for the golden; of course I got much more of the red!:))  In spite of not having specially planned it, it was a pretty nice meal. 

It also ended up being an expensive recipe since ds10 dropped the manual food processor (yes, the one that I just bought and only used once before) filled with lentils three times within ten minutes on our tile kitchen floor – and the third time the container part totally cracked open.  Sigh. I should have just told him to mash them by hand, which is what we had to do in the end anyway.  The attrition rate for my kitchen appliances is on the high side; I consider it a hidden cost of having children. 

Anyway, here’s the recipe.  Like lots of other recipes, I made it up based partially on something else (I took the idea of combining lentils and pecans from Nourishing Traditions) and whatever I have on hand that I feel like adding, so I don’t have firm measurements.  I’ll estimate as best as I can; you’ll probably want to adjust it to your taste.

Lentil Pecan Burgers

  • 4 c. ground pecans
  • 4 c. cooked lentils, mashed
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 t. minced dried onion (I was out of fresh – you can chop a couple onions finely and saute them in coconut oil/shmaltz/butter)
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 3 t. sea salt
  • 3 t. prepared mustard
  • enough flour or matza meal to bind mixture – I used about a cup

Mix the ground pecans with other dry ingredients except the flour or matza meal so everything mixes evenly, then add in the moist ingredients.  Add in enough flour to bind the mixture, but don’t add in too much – it should still be moist but not sticky (sounds like a bread dough recipe, doesn’t it? :)).   Scoop out the mixture using a 1/4 cup measure, put on a greased baking sheet, and flatten it a little with a fork.  Bake at 450 degrees until the tops start to get crispy/firm. 

This made enough for everyone to have as many as they wanted with leftovers, so  I’d suggest making a quarter of this recipe for a smaller family.  These look surprisingly similar to hamburgers, and taste meaty, too. 


Ways to include coconut oil in your diet

Since I recently wrote a little about some benefits of coconut oil is to your health, maybe you’ve been thinking about including it in your diet but wondering how much to take and how to take it.  The recommendation I’ve generally seen is to take 3.5 – 4 T. daily, spread out throughout the day.  The reason to take it regularly instead of all at one time is it helps to keep your metabolism running strong all day.  However, start with a smaller amount, like a teaspoon at each meal, and slowly build up.  That way your body can get used to it – otherwise you might experience a strong cleansing reaction which is positive for your health but not pleasant.

– Shakes/smoothies (since it chunks up, coconut milk may be more useful)

Mix into hot tea, coffee, milk

Bake with it, using it to replace shortening, margarine, or butter.

Saute or fry foods with it.

Spread it on bread or crackers like butter.

Use it as a salad dressing base, mixed with 50% olive oil so that it will pour more easily and not chunk up when poured on cold salad

Pop popcorn with it.

Make healthy desserts with it – my favorite way is to make healthy chocolate.

Spread it on your skin – it will be absorbed and help nourish you from the outside in!

If you already use coconut oil and have some great ways to enjoy it, please share them with us in the comments section!


Community involvement and homeschooling

>>Do people accuse your family of shirking their “communal responsibilities” by not supporting the schools?<<

No, this isn’t something we’ve personally been accused of when homeschooling (though we were once accused of this when we sent our kids to a different school than some in the community wanted us to), but I’ve heard the ‘al tifrosh min hatzibor’ argument put forth as if that phrase alone was enough reason to make anyone back down in shame.  If I did have this discussion, I’d be quick to point out the false assertion that the schools alone comprise the community.  There are many ways to be involved in the community other than the schools.  Many people say a lot of things like this because they’ve never thought too deeply about what they’re saying.  Would they tell that to someone who has never had children, or whose children are grown, or who is deeply involved in other aspects of klal work? 

>>How do you keep your family plugged in and connected (to the frum community) when you have stepped outside of it in certain ways? <<

Most people feel like school is the only way to be connected to the community because their lives are so dominated by school that they aren’t aware of how many other paths are available.  It won’t surprise you that I feel there are other better, or at the very least, equally valid, ways to be connected.   You can support your community with your active involvement, passive presence, and finances.  All are necessary and many overlap.  Here are some things that come to mind:

Shul (synagogue) – though I don’t go to shul (unless it’s to meet my husband after davening), my older kids do.  The boys go daily, the girls on Shabbos.  In addition to services, there are also social events hosted by shuls where attendance is important. 

Shiurim – for adults and older children. Our older kids have all attended shiurim in the community; ds went to a daily morning amud shiur for adult men in the beginning of this year (until the days got short and it was so dark in the morning that he started going to a later minyan because it didn’t feel safe to him walking alone), both girls have attended a weekly Pirkei Avos shiur given by our shul rav for the last couple of years for teen girls.  There are Shabbos groups for younger  kids and teen minyanim but I don’t support these; however, it is one way for your kids to feel involved. 

Financially – donations to organizations in your community; there are many needs in our community except for the schools. Do you pay shul dues?  Do you ever shop in stores/use services owned by others in the community?

Volunteering – I think this is the best way for kids to feel like they can help their communities.  Our kids routinely help out in different ways at our shul, and periodically help other organizations.  For example, my ds leins every Shabbos mincha for our shul, several of the other kids frequently help set up and clean up after shul shalosh seudos as well as at other events. 

Hosting guests – Shabbos meals, sleeping arrangements, etc – what would a community be like if there was no hospitality?

Aside from these obvious ways are many more subtle ways to be an asset to your community – like giving helpful advice or support to someone while shmoozing in the supermarket. A community is made up of many individuals and the little things they do; every positive thing you do contributes even if it’s unseen and seemingly unappreciated. 

What I’m about to say is something I feel very strongly about, and have found to play out in my own life.  Steven Covey writes about the circle of influence and circle of concern.  The circle of influence is what you actually can take action to improve (your behavior, your job, your family). The circle of concern are things that you care about but can’t do much about (like world politics, the devaluation of our currency, and the price of tea in China).  The problem is most of us don’t make distinctions between the two and waste our precious time and life energy invested in the wrong areas.  By focusing on your circle of influence – this begins with yourself and your family – your circle of influence will gradually become wider and expand to begin affecting your circle of concern.  But if you focus first on the circle of concern, your personal power will become diminished and you won’t even be of much help to your immediate family.  What this means is that neither you or your community will benefit if you help your community (circle of concern) before your family (circle of influence).  So even if it seems like someone is being selfish because they’re focusing all of their attention on their family, in the end they will have been of much greater service than someone making the opposite choice. 

>>once you step a little toe outside of the line, you already alienate yourself- to a certain extent- from the community. <<

There’s a difference between you actively distancing yourself from the community and others alienating you because you’re not ‘toeing the line’.  At least for your own sake, be clear who is doing what. 

>>i find it so hard to keep my kids respecting daas torah and frum people when those are the very people who say we are crazy for homeschooling- they have told my childrens’ friends that we must have problems and this filters back to my children.  it’s pretty demoralizing and it is starting to make my kids really resent our neighbors and our community. because they have nothing to balance that out, they are starting to conclude that the frummer you are, the more narrow minded you are, and it is really really becoming a problem. so, do you encounter that at all? <<

I’d seriously consider moving if faced with this dilemma.  I think your kids are religiously in danger and there’s a very real concern you’re all going to end up cynical, frustrated, and resentful when everyone around you is criticizing you for what you feel is a positive choice for your family.  If you’re already at fault just by virtue of doing something different, and people won’t consider who you are and how you live before jumping to rash judgements, it will be hard not to feel defensive about your choices unless you can cultivate an attitude of finding the humor and letting what others say roll down your back.  That’s not so easy to do.

If moving isn’t an option (and I realize that usually it isn’t), you’ll need to define for yourself and your kids what the Torah values that you believe in are and how that may differ from what others are doing. What actually is the Torah position and what is following the crowd?  For example, one Torah value is giving charity.  Here in our city, we have a community initiative to encourage people to give a high percentage of their charity dollars to the schools.  However, the way giving manifests itself for some people isn’t the only way to give charity.  Because my kids understand that the Torah value is tzedaka, they realize that everyone should choose what causes in the community they want to support, and we aren’t obligated to support this initiative even if many others do. 

We constantly discuss hashkafa (Jewish philosophy and outlook) with our kids.  We talk about the prevailing view, why people believe that, how different issues have evolved over the years (for example, women working to support kollel husbands, the yeshiva system, rebbeim as more important that parents, the working and learning balance, sending kids away to yeshiva at a young age, etc), and our position on an issue and why we came to that position.  Dh is particularly good at showing the kids sources in seforim for our choices.  So the kids don’t feel like we’re not frum because we homeschool, or have our babies born at  home, or anything else that might not by typical, and if someone said something about it, our kids would dismiss them as being uneducated or close minded. 

We talk about these things frequently, not in a lecturing way but in a shmoozy conversational way.  The kids bring up something someone said, or something that bothers them, and we discuss it.  Your kids need to know that you have a conscious and thoughtful approach to your yiddishkeit; if they see that, what others say might annoy them but won’t be a danger of being turned off to a Torah lifestyle. 

I also think it’s important for you to help your kids find someone they can respect and look up to who is supportive of your family.  It doesn’t have to be the rav of the community; even a family that your kids consider a good family is enough.  It’s hard to feel you’re the only ones making this choice and the world is against you; when you know there are others who are supportive of you, even if the numbers aren’t big, it makes a difference.   


Car trouble

Today while the kids were working on the patio, I went out with the baby and dd8 to look at something someone was selling on Craig’s List, and then decided to go to a discount store near there that I had never been to, sinceI was in the area already. 

Usually when I go on a drive this long, one of my older kids says tefillas Haderech out loud for everyone.  But today since only dd8 was with me, I chose to stop at an exit so I could park and say it.  I had been feeling a little concerned about what I would do if I got stuck due to car trouble, and once I said tefillas Haderech, that lifted. 

After I did a little shopping (an hour from home) we got in the van, but it wouldn’t start.  I’ve never had any problems or indications of problems, but thought the battery must be dead.  As I walked back toward the store to see about getting assistance, I noticed a vehicle pulling out a few spaces away from me and asked if they were willing to help jump the van, for no reason than because they were the first people I saw.  It was an elderly woman with her middle aged son, and they told me they didn’t have jumper cables, but when I said I did, he agreed to try to jump start the car.  After attaching the jumper cables, it became obvious the problem wasn’t the battery.  I started thinking about what to do next – like get AAA to tow us to a local garage and call my mother or inlaws to come and pick us up – he went back to his car and returned with a paperclip.  He bent it out of shape, slid under the van, fiddled around for a few seconds, and got the car started!  It wasn’t until then that he mentioned he was a mechanic!  He told me that although he got the van started, whatever caused the problem would still be an issue so I shouldn’t stop on my way home or I’d be stuck again. 

After thanking him profusely and resolving mentally to stop at our mechanic and then get a ride home for the three of us from there, I asked what could cause something like that to happen, with no warning or indication of a problem. He told me it was probably a fuse, and then I guess he decided he could check that for me, because right after he answered me, he opened up a panel on the side of the dashboard (I had never noticed it was there!).  He quickly checked the fuses and found one that was burnt out. He told me I could buy a package of them at an automotive store, but then noticed an extra one at the bottom of the panel (kind of like how button down shirts have an extra button as a replacement) and inserted it for me, so now everything is fine!  I was glad I had cash on me so I could offer him something for his help.  He at first refused but I insisted – while it didn’t take him more than ten minutes at the most, he saved me a lot of time, money, and most of all, stress and anxiety. 

I kept thinking about how amazing it was that H-shem directed me to the one person there who would be able to help me.  Lots of people can help jump a car, but how many would have stayed around when that wasn’t the problem?  How many could have found an alternative way to get the car started?  Even if they knew how, how many would be willing to do it for free for a stranger in a parking lot?  And how many would go even further and fix the root of the problem, when the van was already running and I would have been able to get home without any more of his time and assistance?

Aren’t H-shem’s ways amazing?  He arranged my steps all afternoon so that this mechanic and I would be at the same place at the same time, just when I needed help.  Every one of those parts of my day that I didn’t think were going according to my plan were all meant to be exactly as it was. 

Not only am I filled with gratitude for today’s quick resolution of a situation I often have had concerns about occurring, but it reminds me once again how everything happens just as it’s meant to, even when we can’t see why or how.  I’m glad that today I was able to see a little part of the big picture in H-shem’s plans!


4H county fair

On Friday we had a family trip to the county fair.  The county fair is a 4H fair, meaning only kids who belong to 4H can exhibit there.  It’s free and pretty low key, but nice for a outing.  This is the first year we’ve attended without having any of the kids involved (they’re not currently members). 

4H is a youth group that is geared towards agriculture/homemaking kind of skills and activities.  For the last three years, my kids haven’t been in 4H, but for the four years before that were very heavily involved.  Being a 4H member entails monthly meetings ten months a year, but can be much more.  At the main meetings, each year 2 or 3 of our kids had leadership roles – for example, as secretary or treasurer of the group.  In addition to the regular club, my two older girls joined the sheep club and chicken club, each of which met one evening a month.  They also joined a bee keeping club and made beeswax candles and lip gloss, in addition to learning all about bees – another monthly meeting!  Ds joined a rocketry club, and was also involved in the sheep club the first year.  Occasionally there were other trips that they went on – one that stands out in my mind is the trip to a small airport where we got to see small private aircraft and all the kids got a turn to go in a two seater plane. 

They volunteered at a local farm for most of their years in 4H, going three mornings a week our last year in 4H, and at least once a week before that.  At the farm they learned to care for sheep and chickens, as well as the horse that was there.  They went to livestock and hay auctions, and helped build a chicken coop and fencing for the farm.

They got increasingly involved in the county fair every summer.  There are numerous categories that kids can enter – crafts and homemaking skills of all sorts (for example: art, photography, educational exhibits, cooking, baking, flowers, vegetables, preserved goods, sewing – with subcategories in each), in addition to livestock entries.  The kids entered many kinds of baked goods, sewed clothing, and entered lots of other things – they have loads of ribbons that they won over the years.  They bought their own chickens (which they kept at the farm) and showed their chickens at the fair; they leased sheep from the same farm and were able to show sheep.  Yesterday when we were looking at the sheep, I remembered how ds12 showed her first sheep when she was 8, and it was huge – literally almost as big as her – she was scared she wouldn’t be able to control it but she did great.  When she came into the show ring with the sheep, people started commenting on the little girl with the big sheep! 

In addition to showing sheep, they also entered a competition called Shepherd’s Lead – that was a three part competition.  In preparation they had to sew a wool outfit, train a sheep on a halter, and write up a three part description – a paragraph about themselves, a paragraph about the sheep, and a paragraph about their outfit. Then for the competition itself, each would wear the outfit she made, and lead her sheep around the ring on a halter while the description she wrote was read aloud over a microphone.  They competed in age groups, so the girls were in different groups.  It was hours of work to prepare for a showing that took only a few minutes, but a great learning experience!

They were involved at the club level at the fair, too.  The fairgrounds are decorated with gardens, each designed and planted by a different 4H group – the kids were involved in that.  They participated in making the yearly club booth and banner displays, volunteered at the ice cream booth (part of the proceeds went to the club), and led groups as fair tour guides.  In the last couple of years they participated, they stayed overnight at the fairgrounds in a travel trailer with the club leader, and were busy all day long – it’s a very different experience being involved from the inside and as a visitor. 

And after a very intense week of county fair preparation, it wouldn’t be long before it was time to get ready for the state fair!  They didn’t show animals then, just entered their projects/crafts, but that was enough!  Three years ago life got very busy when ds3 was a few months old – we made a bar mitzva, bought a house, and bought a business within a few weeks. And that coincided with the county fair; by the time the state fair was over, I was seriously maxxed out.  Having kids displaying or showing at the fair involves a significant amount of parental involvement, and I made the decision not to re-enroll the kids in 4H for that year, in addition to cutting back on almost all of our other group activities and commitments.

It was a good decision, but as we were visiting the fair, the kids got a hankering to join 4H again.  Unfortunately, the club we were involved in is no longer an option for us to join, so I told them I’ll look into other clubs.  While at the fair I met a mother whose daughter joined the same time we did, 7 years ago.  Our daughters were friendly and did many 4H activities together.  She told me that the enrollment in 4H has dropped drastically in the three years that we’ve been out and several clubs have folded for lack of attendance – it was sad to hear, but reflected in the size of the fair.  There were literally 50% of the entries that there were when our kids were involved, meaning the fair was half the size it was then. 

As far as the fair itself, we enjoyed it!  We browsed all the craft and animal exhibits, but I think everyone’s favorite thing was watching the people throwing the ball at someone in a cage of water and trying to dunk her!  A couple of the kids wanted to try it, so I gave them each a dollar and they got three tries.  Ds10 hit the target and dunked her, which led to people all around him cheering.  Dd8 didn’t hit it at all.  Since ds7 didn’t want to do it, I told him to give his money to ds10, and then gave another dollar to dd8.  The guy manning the booth was very nice – he let dd have ten tries until she hit the target and dunked the lady.  The younger kids all got free balloon animals, which they appreciated and then we headed for home.

The kids want to go to the state fair, but that’s much more commercialized and it’s not my scene.  I told them if their grandparents want to take them that will be okay with me (I’m not putting ideas into the kids’ heads – grandparents already mentioned they want to do that). 


Weekly menu plan

Sunday – breakfast – pancakes, homemade strawberry/blueberry jam; lunch – crispy nuts, cheese, green pepper strips; dinner – rice and carrot casserole, fresh salad

Monday – b – smoothies; l – tuna salad, baked potatoes; d – black bean burritos

Tuesday – b – polenta; l – devilled eggs, vegetable sticks; d – red meat chili, cornbread

Wednesday – b – biscuits, eggs; l – cream cheese rollups; d – lentil pecan patties, sauteed onions, carrot fries

Thursday – b – Yorkshire pudding; l – celery and peanut butter; d – macaroni and cheese (with whole wheat/flax seed noodles)

In response to request to share our Shabbos menus: this past Shabbos we ate out for lunch, so we only had to make dinner – here’s what we had: chicken, roasted red potatoes, baked butternut squash, pepper-olive salad, fresh salad, almond power bars, pumpkin gingerbread (left over from shalom zachor).  We don’t have soup when the weather gets hot, and usually we have homemade challah but this week didn’t want to bake since we only needed it for one meal, and used whole wheat matza instead.

This week’s menu was planned with the Nine Days in mind, so that I can use up whatever fleishig gravy or stock I have in the fridge.  I made hamburger rocks (way to preserve ground meat) for the first time last week and not all of the jars sealed, so I’ll use the ones that didn’t seal for the chili. Today I’m dehydrating some mushrooms I got on sale, and because it takes the same amount of electricity to run the dehydrator if it’s full or half empty, filled some of the remaining trays with chopped onion.  Dehydrated onion is very useful.  At the end of last week I dehydrated ten pounds of frozen okra (I’m working on emptying out the freezer), as well as all the frozen peas and carrots we had.  It’s amazing how little space food takes up when dehydrated – so space efficient!

On the fermented vegetable front, I started 2 gallons of pickles (got lots of cukes on sale), and a corn and red pepper relish (using up the corn in the freezer).  We still have at least a half a gallon of curried carrot sauerkraut left, so those three will be side dishes for the week. I’d like to try making fermented bean paste this week; it would make a nice light lunch together with some veggies and tortilla chips or tacos.

We have loads of green tomatoes in our garden right now, and hopefully in the next week or so we’ll start reaping some of our bounty!  Basically all that we planted for the summer is tomatoes, several kinds of squash, green beans, and cucumbers.  We’ve picked our first cucumber and yellow squash, and are hoping before long that we’ll get enough veggies to supplement our meals.


Nutrition and Physical Degeneration – the book

Several books on nutrition have been mentioned in the comments recently, but not everyone has access to a library that carries the books they’re interested in, or even any library at all!  Dr. Weston Price wrote extensively on his travels in the 1930s to many places where he was able to observe the native culture as well as the effects of modernization on the health of younger generations.  The title of his book is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects.  This book is the starting place for anyone interested in the traditional foods approach to eating, and if this is all you can read, it will be enough.  I thought that some of you would appreciate being able to read it for free online here .   

There’s also a huge amount of information online about this approach to healthful eating, which is what I initially started with and stayed busy with for a long time.  When I was finally able to get the books, I appreciated being able to systematically get the information, since it was cobbled together in my head from here and there.  But there honestly hasn’t been much that I’ve read that came as something totally new after all of my online reading.

I hope this is helpful!