Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Quilting has Begun...

I am on call this weekend and Charlie is in Buffalo for his brother's 30th birthday party. So I started on the quilt I promised myself I'd make waaaay back. I have the strips sewn together, next step is to sew the strips together.  Since this is a big project and my first one, I decided to go with a simple stripe pattern. Plus the fabric I got had larger print, so those little 4x4 squares cut into triangles wouldn't do the fabric justice.

I think it's going to be pretty awesome:)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Make you own _____

You know what has been really irritating me lately? FOOD PRICES! For crying out loud they are going through the roof. I have no idea why, but I am not amused. I went to buy bread the other day, and anything with at least 3 grams of fiber was $5 or more. Five dollars! Maybe a year ago it was $3. Now you're lucky to find it at $3 on sale!

We go on and on about the obesity epidemic in this country, but I don't know how people are supposed to eat healthy when good-for-you bread is $5 a loaf and the Wonderbread is $2. If you were a family living paycheck to paycheck, which one do you think you would choose?

And EGGS! Since when does it cost $3 a dozen for eggs at the grocery store!?

So. I'm on a mission to find ways around this. My first step was yogurt. I love, love, love greek yogurt. And I love how much protein it has in it and how few calories. I read an article the other day, those yoplait yogurts have 25 grams of sugar! What the heck?!

So, last year my Mom gave me a book called the Locavore's Kitchen. I remember getting it and thinking it was a really cool idea, but I hadn't had a chance to open it just yet. However, I did yesterday. And low and behold there was a recipe for make your own yogurt. It was easy. It only took two ingredients, and it gave you about a half gallon of yogurt for probably $4.

Homemade Yogurt
makes about 2 quarts

1/2 gallon of milk, any kind that you'd like
6 ounces (about 6T) of plain yogurt with live and active cultures

Pour the milk into a large stainless steel pot. Place over medium to medium-low heat and gently heat until the milk is frothy, stirring occasionally. This will take about 15-20 minutes (I think it took me more like 30, but I was probably being overly careful about not burning it). Use a reliable instant read thermometer (I have an infared candy thermometer I used) to check the temperature occasionally. When the temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool.  (This is all done to kill any untoward bacteria in the milk that may prevent your cultures from doing their thing).

After about 30 minutes, check the temperature of the milk. When the temperature has reached between 110 and 115 degrees, stir in the plain yogurt until completely blended.

Pour the mixture into two clean, sterilized quart jars, or two 16-ounce plastic yogurt containers. (Just make sure you wash whatever it is you're putting it into really well with soap and hot water and completely dry it.) Seal with tight fitting lids.

Cover the jars with a heavy towel and let sit undisturbed in a warm part of the kitchen for 8 hours or overnight. (I put them on the stove with an old bath towel over them. I kept the temperature in the house at 68 overnight). The yogurt will have thickened. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Before using, give the yogurt a good stir. This will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Make sure to set aside 6 tablespoons of this yogurt to make your next batch. You can keep it in the freezer for several months, just thaw it in the refrigerator the night before you want to use it.

I was skeptical about whether or not it would work. But, low and behold, this morning I had yogurt that was delicious with some homemade granola, strawberries and honey:) May I never have to buy yogurt at the grocery store ever again.

They suggested draining a portion of it with a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter for a few hours if you wanted to use it in a sauce and needed it to be thicker.

My next step is going to be bread. The price of bread is really annoying to me. There is a recipe in that same cookbook for an easy wheat bread. If I baked two loaves, I wonder how long that would last us. Maybe two weeks since it's just the two of us? Could I make bread twice a month? I don't know really, but I'm going to try.

I am also going to try butter. I found a recipe online and there is one in my Locavore's Kitchen. I don't know if making butter would save you much money, but my friend Rachel did it and she said it is better than any butter she has ever tasted in her entire life. And you get buttermilk after you make butter, which means that you can make buttermilk pancakes or waffles, which is always a plus.

There about about a million different recipes in this book talking all about how to eat what is in season in Ohio. And how to best preserve it. That is another thing I'm going to do more of this year - preserving. I am bound and determined to find an inexpensive place to buy produce and to stock up.

Sorry to vent. It is obnoxious though. How is anyone supposed to make a living or get ahead in this country if food prices are going up by 50% over the course of two years?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Being Kind

My dogwood tree in the early morning light through the bedroom window. Please ignore Praxair across the street:)

I can't believe it's April already. Really, time flies sometimes. And it's been almost exactly one month since my miscarriage. Things are starting to return to normal, which is a good feeling.

Now that the test is over, I've had a bit more time to let myself be more introspective. I thought a lot about the miscarriage and what it means for me. I talked to my doctor about it. I've done all the research and learned all the facts, because that is what I do and what I am good at. But I know that none of that is going to help me get through this, and none of that is going to help me if I get pregnant again. Because knowing that a good portion of women who have had two consecutive miscarriages will go on to have a healthy pregnancy down the road does not make me feel better. Because twice now I have been in the minority of women with bad luck. Like I always tell my patients - statistics don't mean anything if it happens to you.

So instead of dwell on facts and statistics, I have been trying really hard to be good to myself and to just do what I can to keep my life as low stress and as manageable as possible.

First off, I'm going to quit being so hard on myself about my weight. Since I've gotten married I've put on probably 10 pounds. I took it off when I was on the bike ride, but it seems to stick stubbornly around. I whine and complain. I try to watch what I eat and I try to run at least three times per week, but nothing seems to make it budge, not even a little bit. I squeeze into my pants for work and feel fat all day because I can feel my waistband digging into my sides. But for what? I finally got new pants for work. I did what I said I wasn't going to do and I caved and got a bigger size. And you know what size that was? A 2 for goodness sakes. Who out there is going to look at someone who is a size two and tell them that maybe they could stand to lose a few pounds? I'm not as skinny as I was in high school anymore, but I don't think that I am anywhere close to fat. I think that what my body has probably been trying to tell me over the last several years is that this is where I am happy and healthy. I don't deprive myself of many things, but I also try to practice moderation. I think that I'm doing the best that I can and that is good enough for right now. Could I be skinnier if I dieted more and exercised more? Probably. But then I wouldn't be very happy, and I may just be too skinny. A few extra pounds might be a good thing in trying to get pregnant again anyways. With a BMI of 22 as opposed to 20 I think I'll survive for now. 

The second thing I'm going to try to do, which sort of goes along with the first thing, is to try to be mindful of what I'm putting in my body. In the summer it's easier because all of the produce we eat is from our CSA, which is certified organic. But I've been buying organic eggs, because I've done a lot of reading that they are actually better for you (higher in vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids) than regular eggs. Which makes sense, right? The food we eat is only as healthy as the food our food ate, if that makes any sense at all. Mass producing meat, vegetables, fruit etc... oftentimes takes all the good stuff right out of it. Of course this has to be within reason. You can't buy organic anything and everything that you want all the time, you would go broke. But I have been buying organic or free range meat in large quantities when it is on sale. When organic milk is on sale I buy two or three, because they are ultra pasteurized and stay good for quite awhile. I've been trying really hard not to eat a lot of processed foods and to take the time to make my food so that I'm more aware of what is going into it. I still believe in everything in moderation though. A glass or two of wine, a beer or two, and a fish fry on Friday during Lent are not a bad thing. You just probably shouldn't have two or three fish fries a week:)

Lastly I'm going to try really, really, really hard to make myself get enough sleep. I was really good about this when I was pregnant. But I tend to go to work and work all day. When I get home I'm often tired, so I'll go for a run if I'm planning on running that day, but then I'll lay on the couch for awhile. Then I eat dinner, and talk to Charlie, and then it's often 8:00pm and I'm like, "Crap! I haven't done anything all night!" So I'll starting doing things. And then I go on and on and on and before you know it, it's midnight and you have to get up at 5:30 AM. It's not good for me or my longevity, so I'm going to try to be better.

As a P.S. I'm also going to try to make more of a habit of going to yoga. I know that yoga is something I can do at home, I just never do. And I like the energy in the class. It is always harder to make myself go in the summer though, because I don't usually want to be inside exercising when it's so nice out. And being at Children's right now makes it difficult because every other week I'll be on call for the class I like, and if I'm not on call but I had a bad night on call the night before, then I'm not really in the mindset. But I'm going to try to go as often as is reasonable.

So anyways, as life is returning to normal again, I'm trying hard to focus on being kind to myself and respecting my own boundaries. Because I can't control when and if I get pregnant again and if I do what the outcome will be. So I don't want to focus on that. I will just focus on things that I can control that will make me a happier and healthier person.