Clean Eating

What is Clean Eating? Here’s the thought — Clean Eating means consuming foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. In other words, foods that are NOT processed or DON’T have chemicals added. For example, hot dogs, canned soups, frozen dinners, cookies that come from a box, packaged lunch meats, etc. All of these items have tons and tons of sodium and chemicals that are certainly not meant to be put in your body.

Having a farm-oriented extended family with relatives that have lived to be 100 years old, I truly believe that there is something to be said for living ‘naturally’ ….. or really living off the earth.

Why do I believe this…..because of the high prevalence of cancer and illness that seems to affect so many individuals who live ‘inside’ cities. Now granted there are other factors that I think contribute to this illness as well – most obvious life and work stress, smog and air pollution, and unknown environmental hazards. That said, you can’t deny the fact that my extended family, who has lived among hundreds of acres of farmland in Southern Virginia, seem to be among the healthiest (and longest living) individuals that I know.

So, my thinking is that if I can eat cleaner, then I hope to live a long, healthy life!

‘Clean eating’ is a concept that has become so ‘normal’ to me having now lived on a farm. Beyond the health reasons, the functional reasons, i.e., there is not a major grocery store located within 1/2 hour of where I live. Thus, I really have to make everything Linus and I eat out here. Although sometimes daunting, there is something so amazingly refreshing about this concept.

Last summer, I brought all of the fresh foods to the farm (from city farmer’s markets). We cooked some amazing meals with all of this fresh food! This summer, we are thinking we may grow a lot of our foods. If we can do this, it will be even more rewarding!

Oh – and one other plus to clean eating is that you are eating foods that are generally lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Because you are aware of how much butter, salt and oil you use in preparing ‘clean’ meals, you do not consume nearly as much of these not-so-clean ingredients as you do in pre-made or processed foods.

There are some great websites devoted to clean eating, as well as several publications. One magazine that I subscribe to is called “Clean Eating.” Check it out!

So, here are some succinct fresh eating concepts.I took these from a great site — check out this link for more info: http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/what-is-clean-eating/

1. Eat Lots Of Plants
In other words, eat food that you – or someone you know – has grown. Lots of these foods are available at small neighborhood markets. There is nothing like the taste of tomatoes and other vegetables (and eggs too!) that were picked yesterday ago from a local farmer.
2. Include Meats
Again, get your meats from smaller, neighborhood markets where you know the butcher. Where the meat is not pre-packaged and where the meat is sliced fresh for you.
3. Enjoy Grains
Real, whole grains. That have not been bleached (i.e., not white race, but brown rice.) Consider using whole wheat flour instead of white flour. There are some great whole wheat flour cookie recipes that are not nearly as fattening and sugary as regular cookie recipes.
4. READ LABELS!
Especially with bread, often WHEAT bread’s most prominent ingredient is WHITE flour!
5. Eat Fewer Ingredients
Again, look at ingredients lists on food labels. A good rule is if there are more than 4-5 ingredients in a canned food or boxed item, then it is probably made up of more chemicals than actual FOOD. (Especially if the expiration date is 3-4 years from now.) Is this what you want to put into your body? Canned foods are of course important for certain recipes, however, check out the canned food options at your local organic food stores. You can find canned foods that are canned like they used to be – without all of the superbad chemical preservatives. (Of course, canning your own food each year is even better!)

Enjoy!

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Kentucky River and Abraham Lincoln

So, a neat little historical reference that I just uncovered about my farm. In 1847, Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln would have been on a boat that passed right by my backyard!

Abe Lincoln was elected to his first national office in 1846, the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a Whig who was representing Illinois. On his way to Washington, DC in 1847 to assume office, Abraham and his wife, Mary, and their two young sons, decided to take a short detour to Lexington, Kentucky. Mary’s family lived in Lexington and they had never met the young Lincoln boys. So, to get from Springfield, IL to Lexington, KY, the Lincoln’s took a boat from Illinois up the Ohio River and cut East across the Kentucky River to Frankfort. Once they reached Frankfort, they took a stagecoach down to Lexington. Apparently, this took a couple of weeks, hence the reason that the Todd family had not met Abe and Mary’s sons yet.

So, if this is accurate, then Abraham Lincoln would have traveled right past my land, since I back up to the Kentucky River. How cool is that? Here is a picture of what the river looks like now – I wonder what it looked like in 1847?

P.S. How did I find this out? Well, I’ve been listening to a 25-Book-on-CD set biography of Abe Lincoln. I listen to it on my 1 hour drive to/from the farm every so often. I’ve had the set for 6 months and am only on CD #10, so it will be a while before I finish it. It’s great though!

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Poem from Aunt Matilda

An encouraging poem from one of our loyal followers…

Two Thousand eleven is the year,

Sally and Linus might have to fear,

Vegetable patch varmints, and let’s make it clear,

That goats are known to give kicks to the rear!

Love,

Aunt Matilda

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Winter Doldrums

It’s the middle of January now on the farm, and quite honestly, a little blahhhhh. I still love looking out at the hills and open land that is covered with small patches of snow, but I must say it’s not nearly as pretty as when the sun is shining brightly on a warm summer day. I definitely miss my beautiful ‘front lawn’ that is made up of 12 acres of bright green soybean plants. This is what it looks like now….frozen pond and all…blech!

Thus, I’ve been spending a lot of time inside (actually, I traveled a lot in December – from Las Vegas to a warm weather cruise across the Atlantic, which was a nice getaway from the cold weather!) and settling in on early 2011 weekend mornings enjoying my coffee and daydreaming about warmer weather.

One thing that we are trying to do is make plans for the Spring months when Linus and I want to take on two big projects. One is building a large vegetable garden, with lots of overflow that we can perhaps take to farmer’s markets, and two is adding a few goats to our farm family.

Both seem a bit daunting right now, thus I am happy to have the downtime to make plans. I have been doing LOTS of reading. On the goats subject, I started with the “Goats for Dummies” book. Funny enough, it’s not a bad primer. Our biggest challenge will be reinforcing a large, fenced area that we have for the goats. (We were lucky to already have this large, acre-size space already somewhat fenced in when we purchased the farm. The previous owners used it as a dog pen.) Here’s the fenced in area now.

Apparently goats can easily escape from their enclosed areas. So, as soon as it gets warmer, we will begin the fence inspection and the reinforcing, as well as adding an electrically-charged wire along the top of the fence so the goats can’t jump over it.

We also have to build a shelter for the goats. Apparently, we can use pallets to do this. There are several interesting pallet shelter plans that are easily found on the internet. Again, we’ll start on this once it gets a little warmer.

What will we do with the goats? Well, we’ll milk them. And hopefully pasteurize the milk to make fresh goat’s milk cheese and some consumer items (soaps, lotions, etc.). We’d like to sell the products under our farm’s brand name. Lots to learn about that as well. But my day job is marketing, so we’ll see. I’m more concerned about learning to milk and pasteurize. If we can get that far, then the rest will hopefully be easy!

As for the veggie garden, lots to do here as well. We want to plan it as carefully as possible to make sure we have proper soil and drainage plans. We also have to take extra care in fencing it to keep the deer out. Composting will be important in our garden as well. We have been maintaining a compost for the last 6 months and hope to incorporate several more into the garden spaces.

I have been reading several great books on Kentucky gardening that I would suggest. One is “Guide to Kentucky Vegetable Gardening.” This one goes through the basics of each vegetable. “The New Fred Wiche Lawn and Garden Almanac” is my favorite though. Fred is unfortunately passed now, but he was a well-respected Kentucky gardener and although his book is not really “new” (pub. in 1992) much of his thoughts are still very relevant.

One interesting piece of trivia from Fred that has nothing to do with gardening, but is just a fun fact, is that January is named for the Roman god “Janus.” Janus had two heads and was able to see into the past and the future. I have thought about this as I go through the motions in the cold and overcast month of January. With Janus in mind, I have found it to be a great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year (actually buying the farm that I have always wanted and thus, creating the simple lifestyle that completely suits me) and a chance to look forward to the fun learnings and adventures on the farm in 2011.

So, lots to do in the next few months – as you can see. It’s definitely a bit overwhelming. But, it’s wonderfully satisfying – and that’s all I can ask for.

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Moonshine

Since I’ve had my farm, I’ve been determined to try some moonshine. I mean, you can’t live in the ‘hollers’ of Kentucky and not have some ‘shine.’

So, although I cannot reveal my sources, I have finally procured my shine. And all I can say is whoa, WHOA. This is serious stuff!! Although it has apples and cinnamon in it, this juice will knock you out!

So tomorrow, I’m making a cake with some of the shine. It was part of the agreement with my ‘procurer.’ If all he wants is cake in return for my shine, well, then, hell, let him eat cake!

Ummm, well, wait – I’ve never made a cake, nonetheless a moonshine cake. Please don’t tell him this. And keep your fingers crossed!

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Fall Farm Images

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Soybeans – the First Crop

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Here’s a nice overview of what our first crop of soybeans looked like. It was beautiful all summer. We loved watching the crops grown from seedlings to 3-4 ft. plants.

We leased 12 acres of land to a local soybean farmer (I learned that soybean crops are better for the land than tobacco, more on that in future posts) and here are the results.

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