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Archive for August, 2012

Baby M has had gut issues pretty much since we brought him home in mid-June.  First, it was gas and fussiness, but that progressed to diarrhea, then to green, mucous-y diarrhea, followed by all of the above plus blood.  At that point, we were able to get in to a pediatrician, thank goodness.

 

By the time we got to the pediatrician, I had already started experimenting with eliminating allergens from my diet, including dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  I was about to try getting rid of soy, too.  I was ready to give up breastfeeding entirely, and put him on the bottle, just to see if it was something I was eating.   Baby’s constant crying and obvious pain were making us crazy, and the level of helplessness we felt was really overwhelming.  After two months of constant screaming, diarrhea, and lack of sleep (on all our parts), I would have cut off my left arm if I thought it would help.

 

The pediatrician suggested going one step further than cutting the dairy, and also cutting all beef products.

 

Unfortunately, that worked.

 

I say unfortunately because I was hoping it would be something else.  Something that did not involve having to cut all my favorite foods from my diet.  I mean, no burgers, no roast, no butter, no yogurt, no cream, no cheese, no milk chocolate, no ice cream…really?  Add to that the fact that it’s been 30+ degrees, and I’ve been miserable.  My go-to foods for a hot summer day include cottage cheese and fruit, cucumber-and-cheese sandwiches, and barbequed burgers.  Hmm.  Can you tell I’ve been feeling sorry for myself?

 

We’ve been on the hunt for suitable replacements, and found a vegan margarine that is passable, and some rice-based “milk” chocolate that’ll do in a pinch.  Unfortunately, cheese is out.  Most of the non-dairy cheese replacements I was able to find contained milk ingredients, and the one that did not, tasted fairly awful.  This is a tragedy.  I eat cheese with everything.  Like probably at least two meals a day.  Because of that, most of my cooking involves cheese.  I can substitute ground pork or chicken for the meat in most recipes, but spaghetti without parmesan?  Chili without cheddar?  Chowder with no cheese?  And seriously, no pizza?  Bleh.  So, basically, all my go-to recipes are missing something.  Something important.  Something that reminds me how much I’m missing out every time I try to eat a ‘regular’ meal.

 

I got to feeling so sorry for myself that I was polishing off a bag of Fudgee-O cookies (the only non-dairy cookie in the whole aisle) and a bag of wine gums every two or three days.  We were eating a fair bit of fast food, too, just because we did not know what else to eat.  Besides the aforementioned cookies and candy, plus barbequed pork chops and grilled peppers, I did not feel like there was anything in the house to eat.  My diet was taking a serious turn for the worse.  Usually I eat a very healthy diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, plus made-from-scratch meals, so the sudden influx of deep-fried chicken and sugary crap had me feeling physically terrible, too.

 

Yesterday, I decided I needed to snap out of it before I hit 300 pounds and gave my poor kid rickets or scurvy or some other horrifying deficiency.  I mean seriously, he can only get as good of nutrition as I do, right?   An attitude adjustment was clearly in order.

 

I needed to cook something new, something that had no associations with beef, butter, cream, cheese, and all the rest.  Something that did not remind me of my enforced dietary changes every time I ate.

 

Today, I went through the freezer, trying to decide what needed using up.  Corn season is almost upon us, and we still have a few bags of frozen corn from last year, so that became the base of the meal.  As it is cool today, I decided on soup, since it’s been a long time since it’s been cool enough to cook soup, and soup is such a quick, easy meal.  Though I am not good at measuring, here is the approximate recipe:

 

Fill a 2-quart pot about 1/3 with chicken broth (or vegetable broth, for a vegan meal; I used a couple of chicken bullion cubes and 1/3 pot of water).  Add a few carrots, chopped small, and around 3 cups of frozen corn.  Spice to taste with mild yellow curry (I used around a tablespoon) and hot chili paste (about 1/2 tsp for me).  When the carrots are cooked, add one whole can of coconut milk (unsweetened).  Bring the whole thing back to a boil, and serve.

 

As I was eating my dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, beef-free, but still very tasty soup, I realized that every single ingredient started with the letter “C” – this soup should be sponsoring a Sesame Street episode!  Chicken stock, Corn, Carrots, Chili paste, Curry, Coconut milk…this is a real C-food soup!

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The Downside of a Submissive Dog

Poppy the puppy is a submissive dog.  She is so submissive that she tends to piddle on the floor if I yell too loud.

 

I am not used to having a submissive dog.  Fox the husky mutt is anything but submissive – if you give her a command like, say, “sit”, she’ll look at you for a bit while she decides if she’s going to do it or not.  Mostly she does, but she lets you know it’s her choice.   Cherry the bull mastiff is pretty dominant, too, though not as bright as Fox.  Cherry will sit…eventually.  After you get her attention, and maybe remind her a couple of times.  Poppy, however, will hit the floor instantly, tail wagging, hoping to get some praise or a treat.  In fact, she’ll sit before she’s told to, in the hopes of getting a little attention.

 

This tendency has made Poppy a treat to train – she tries really really hard to figure out what it is you want, and, once she’s got it, she is quick to respond to commands.  She is eager to please, whether you have a treat in your hand or not.  Just praise makes her ecstatic…unlike the other two, who need a bit more…tangible…motivation.

 

Last night, as I was going out to milk the goat, I could hear a fox yapping, fairly close to the house.  Poppy routinely wakes us up by growling and making little half-barks when the foxes start yipping at night, and last night was no exception.  I looked at Hubby and asked if he thought she’d come back when I called if I let her out to chase off the fox.  I know Fox the dog would be gone like a shot, and would spend the night trying to dig the foxes out of their den, and there’s no way she’d come back when called.  Even Cherry would probably take off chasing them, and be unlikely to come back until she had been thoroughly stymied.  Hubby wasn’t sure what Poppy would do, but we decided to try letting her loose.

 

So, as I went out to the barn, I let Poppy out.  Just as we were going down the back step, a fox yipped and rustled the bushes just north of the house.  Poppy gave a little bark, and then…looked at me.  Expectantly.  She looked at me as if to say ‘well, what are you going to do about this?‘.

 

It hit me then that Poppy is not protective of us, because to her, we are the tough guys.  She has been letting us know all along that we have a problem with foxes close to the house, but she seems to think it’s the humans’ job to do something about it.  Bleh.

 

Unfortunately, the dogs who will do something about it, won’t stay close to home like they’re supposed to…

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Washing, peeling, chopping, and bagging fifty pounds of mangoes gives a girl a lot of time to think.

 

I was thinking about why, exactly, I would wash, peel, chop, bag, and freeze fifty pounds of mangoes.  On top of twenty pounds of blueberries, and as many sweet cherries, plus the peas, and the beans and peaches and other produce that’s still to come.  And the canning and dehydrating and cheese making and all the rest.  One friend asked if I was getting ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.

 

It’s not about the zombie apocalypse.  Honest.  There are a lot of very vocal, very well-armed people on some of the forums I frequent, who are waiting (somewhat impatiently) for the collapse of society and ensuing zombie invasion.  I don’t really get that attitude.  First, I like modern conveniences like, say, medical care, running water, and sewer systems.  Secondly, I’m not that fond of guns.  Besides that, society in my particular corner of the world shows no signs of imminent collapse, thank goodness.  I like my neighbours.  I’d hate to see them shuffling up my driveway with arms suspiciously raised out front, clamoring for brains…

 

I do happen to like having control over what I eat.  When I dehydrate mangoes, I know that no chemicals made their way in.  Same with making my own jam:  fruit-pectin-sugar is okay; fruit-flavor-color-glucose-fructose-preservatives is not really my cup of tea.  I like growing organic peas and carrots and potatoes; these are things that will be made into baby food for our little guy, not to mention nourishing ourselves.

 

I am also cheap.  I like things like blueberry smoothies, and at $2 per pound (what I paid for the ones I froze myself), I have no problem making blueberry smoothies three times a week.   At $7+ for 600 grams, blueberry smoothies would be rationed for special occasions.  Jam is five bucks for a little jar of the decent stuff, these days; chokecherry and crabapple jelly cost me about fifty cents for the sugar in an eight-pint batch, plus a couple of enjoyable hours of picking and canning.

 

I like to be ready for various eventualities.  I keep a well-stocked pantry, which saves on time and gas for last-minute runs to town for forgotten ingredients, saves us money (by buying in bulk), and gives us a cushion for those times when the paycheque, for whatever reason, doesn’t quite stretch to the end of the month.  More than once, I’ve had to rely on the pantry when I was unable to work for periods of time, and I think unemployment is something everybody could potentially face at some point.

 

We also have things like an epi-pen to treat severe allergic reactions, even though neither of us has a life-threatening allergy.  A few of our friends do have serious allergies, though, and we’re a long way from the hospital.  We are not, however, armed to the teeth awaiting a zombie invasion.  We occasionally get accused of survivalism, which, to be honest, isn’t really our cup of tea.  Too much emphasis on guns and zombies, and not enough on gardening, canning, milking goats, and hanging out with the neighbours.

 

While we are not survivalists, I do buy into the philosophy of preparedness.  I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons to have a few extra things on hand.  Things like flashlights, candles, a couple of sleeping bags, a jug or three of water.  A wind-up radio.  Extra food.  A camp stove.  A first aid kit.  You know – basic supplies for run-of-the-mill emergencies.

 

So far this year, we’ve been through a couple of minor power outages, a medical issue causing my inability to work for a couple of months, being snowed in for a couple days, that big wind and four-day electricity interruption, and a boil water advisory.  But no zombies.  We’ve got fifty pounds of mango in the freezer, now, and there’s still hope for the garden.   For the likely scenarios for emergencies around here, we’re fairly well prepared.  For the Zombie Apocalypse, not so much…

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