The little Clay Pot

Lots of things can go in a little Clay Pot

A Perfect Example March 1, 2010

The verdict is in…I don’t have a total handle on all of this.  Despite my best laid plans, sometimes life just happens.

For the rest of this to make sense, you need a little bit of background:

  1. We live about an hour away from the nearest city, where we do our banking etc. so we try to make 1 trip a week.
  2. We only have 1 car, and quite often my husband needs to either fill the car with tools, or have the car during the day to run errands etc. for work–so normally, taking him to work and having the car for the day is not an option for me (and we have lived with 1 car for most of our married lives–we are pros at this!)
  3. Where our house sits we get a lot of snow, and then it drifts–right into our driveway.

Plan change #1

Life being what it is, I had planned on going to my few local grocers on Thursday afternoon, up to the city on Friday evening (banking, shopping, and worship at a friends house).  Thursday my husband’s work schedule got changed.  He had to go back to work that night, and then would have Friday off, and have to work again Friday night.  “No problem.” I said to myself,  “The CNY Bounty order came today, we can do all the errands Friday, skip going to the friends house…and life will go on.”

Plan change #2

And then the snow came.  Now, we live in Central New York, we are used to snow!  But this was a good storm and my husband’s boss called to tell him to stay home Thursday night, and just come in Friday.  “Hmm…” I thought, “we can go do worship, get to the bank, and maybe have time to get some groceries, I’ll have to try to get to the local stores on Saturday, life goes on.”

Plan change #3

Shoveling from the road

Aaand theeen the snow….was.  My husband started shoveling Friday morning with the intention of just getting out of the drive way to go to work.  By 8:00 am He knew he was going to be late.  By 10:00 he knew he wasn’t going to make it, and his boss told him to just come in Saturday.  “That’s okay.” I said out loud, “We can go do all the things that need to be done.  Still go to the friends for worship, and life is good.”

Plan change #4

My dear husband finally finished clearing the driveway around 1:00, and we all started getting ready to go…”Late start, we’ll have to skip the local stores.”  I realized with some dismay.  Then–the phone rang.  It was the director of my BS nursing program about an e-mail I had sent to her.  I, having been in a hurry, had misread a date and assumed that the conversation had to take place then, because of timing.   So we had our conversation while I stood in my bedroom trying to figure out what to wear, and my husband got the kids ready to go.   We finally made it out of the house by 2:00.  And by now, as I am sure you, my fellow Americans can relate, I felt like I had just done 300 loads of laundry, washed 30 children, tried on 20 different pairs of jeans, and saved a small country from utter doom.  I was in no mood to go shopping, If life was going to go on…it could just go on with out me.

Plan change #5, the conclusion

We did things in the order they made sense…and quickly ran out of time.  In order to make it to our friends house (something we had all been looking forward to) on time, we had to forgo getting groceries all together!  We ended up going to BJ’s Saturday evening (a 2nd trip to the city! and a $200 grocery bill) and to get there before they closed we fed the kids McDonald’s in the car!  OH, how I was angry that I have been working so hard on this venture, only to cave and buy purdue chicken and happy meals!   But here is the point:  Life does go on.

For so many of us…life goes on day by day and we are busy, doing all the things that we have to do and the things that keep us sane.  We have been afforded this busy lifestyle because we have been given wonderful items of convenience–cars, cell phones, boxed food, fast food….  Maybe it is not the food or the menu that needs so much attention as it is the lifestyle.   But whatever life we live, and whatever events cause us to stray from our path–like me and my quest to feed my family, reasonably local, healthy foods, on a budget–we need to remember that Life goes on…a day passes and it is behind us, we can learn from it or we can repeat it.

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You are what you eat… February 22, 2010

I am in the middle of a semester where I am working on a large project that has to do with the food we eat and our health.  As a RN I firmly believe that we are what we eat…or rather consume.

Consumption is the only word that really describes my feelings towards American Culture.  If you really stop and take a moment to think about it…What have you eaten today? How did you get to work?  What are you wearing?  How many lights are on in your house right now? How many major appliances?  What will you buy this week?  Look at the packaging of something you buy regularly…what happens to it when it you are done with it?  Even our higher-end items are touted as disposable…I recently had a conversation with a Dell employee about my Dell all in one printer…that we got in the spring of 2007.  Three years ago.  I was told that I really needed to consider a new printer because the average life of a printer is only 2 years!  Well then for crying out loud the one I have is like an ancient artifact!  And we havn’t even started to think about the extra’s–we really have only addressed aspects of daily living.  Consumption is an unavoidable fact…but what are the consequences?

The United States is in a crisis of Health…We eat too much of the wrong foods and we don’t exercise enough…our livers, pancreas’, hearts, and circulatory systems are forced into failure by our own habits…cirrhosis, diabetes, heat attacks, and strokes.  We demand the products and the ease of living that causes toxins to be dumped into our back yards that cause cancer and birth defects.  More and more we are finding that the things that were invented to make out lives easier are making our lives sicker.  And we all want to be healthy…so we go to the doctor or to the hospital and demand treatment…for a problem that we created…and by demanding that treatment we cause more problems…there are not enough nurses, the supplies all have to be made in a plant, shipped, wrapped in something disposable…even in our poor health we demand and consume.

The first place the Bible (KJV) uses the word Consume is in Genesis 41:30 “And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land.”  Now this is talking about a specific event…but isn’t it too poetically ironic that a Famine shall consume anything?  In my little understanding of agriculture a famine can be caused by natural disasters or my the mistakes of man.  Public education taught me that the dust bowl was the result of over use of the land, rendering it useless.  So if poor decisions and overuse (consumption again) lead to famine…what kind of a metaphorical/literal famine are we headed for!? And how do our consumptions stand posed…just waiting to consume us?

This little Clay Pot doesn’t have an answer for all the questions…but I do know that I want to stop consuming sooooo much.  I want to feed my family foods that fill their bellies and help them to be healthy…not with foods that wear out their body systems and pollute the earth that they play on.  I want to help others question why we demand the things we demand…and is it good for us?  I don’t want to tell anybody what to do, or that my way is the right way…but let’s all start asking the questions “Do I really need this,  and what does it really do for me?”

 

Our Daily Bread…. February 21, 2010

Bread is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 3:19 where we are told that we will have to work to eat our bread.  And isn’t that the truth!  While most of us do not grow our own wheat, harvest, thrash, and grind it, or even bake it…we work hard in our respective professions to buy bread.  Some bread is more expensive;  Artisan fresh from the bakery for example.  And some is cheap…the last time I looked I think you can buy a loaf of white sandwich-bread from Aldi’s for about $0.88.  But either way, you have to work for the money to buy your bread.

The new face of bread

So what about our daily bread?  I would love to expound here (Did you know that Bethlehem translates as “House of Bread?”  Hmm…Interesting.)  But I want to focus on the Bread recipe I have been using for about the last 8 weeks.  The why, the how and the HOW MUCH $$.

The WHY is easy:  I want to put good food into our bodies.  I know exactly what is in my bread.  It is WAY yummy and a lot easier than I thought.

The HOW:  I have posted the recipe on Recipe Zaar. You do not have to be a member to search the recipes.   This allows for nutritional data to be evaluated, (although please understand that the recipe says it makes 3 loaves, and the nutritional data is for 1 whole loaf, if you make larger/smaller loaves it will obviously vary…but it gives you an idea of what nutrients you are getting out of your bread)  and by providing a link…I do not have to double my work *Grin*  I typically make palm or hamburger size loaves for lunch.  They are just the right size to slice for the kids.  It doesn’t look like a wonder bread sandwich, but it tastes so good!  If we are having bread for dinner make a larger loaf…about the size of a small melon.

The How Much $$:  This cost analysis is approximate–But it should be pretty close.  Also it is PER BATCH.  Remember each batch makes 2-3 loaves, or somewhere around 20 palm size rolls….so the cost per loaf or serving will obviously be less.   I would be negligent not to point out that somehow you do have to calculate for the cost of the electricity/gas to bake it etc.  But assuming that you already keep a fridge running and a hot water heater going, then you should not see a dramatic increase in your utility bill just because you start making your own bread.  Also, if your time is valuable (which it is), then you have to put a value on your time.  But at about $1.28 per Batch–that’s $0.64 a loaf! –you are getting something worth a little extra time.

Ingredient Price Amount Unit Units per container Price per unit
Yeast 3.69 2 lbs 1 tbl 96 0.04
Wheat Flour 7.50 5 lbs 1 C 20 0.38
Wheat germ 2.12 1 lb 1/3 C 12 0.18
Flour 22.00 50 lb 5 C 32 0.69
TOTAL Per Batch 1.28

I was curious to see what the difference would be if I purchased the white Flour from Gianforte Farm (via CNY Bounty).  As you can see, It works out to be only about $3.00!  I am totally Impressed.

Ingredient Price Amount Unit Units per container Price per unit
Yeast 3.69 2 lbs 1 tbl 96 0.04
Wheat Flour 7.5 5 lbs 1 C 20 0.38
Wheat germ 2.12 1 lb 1/3 C 12 0.18
Flour 7.5 5 lbs 5 C 3.2 2.34
TOTAL Per Batch 2.93
 

Thursday Is Bounty day! February 18, 2010

I love Thursdays.  Here in Central New York, there is a wonderful organization called CNY Bounty.   This is a farmers market that delivers to your door!  And Thursday is the day my order gets delivered!  I heard about them from Evan’s Creamery in Norwich, NY.  Evan’s Creamery was one of my very first introductions to local organic eating.  They sell pasteurized non-homogenized milk and other diary products.  When I first found out about them I would look for any opportunity to drive to Norwich (about a 40 min drive and I do no other business there).  Occasionally I would say we just needed to go to get milk.  Thus the milk we bought from Evan’s endearingly became known by our family as “40 min milk.”   With the CNY Bounty, the milk gets delivered to my door!

CNY Bounty Order 2.18.01
CNY Bounty Order 2.18.10

This week I bought 3 gallons of milk and a quart of plain yogurt from Evan’s creamery, a bag of Crispin apples from Split Rail Apple Farm,  2 lbs of cornmeal from Gianforte Farm, 1 quart of 1/2 & 1/2 from Queensboro Dairy, Broccoli sprouts from Mizrahi Manor Farm, A bulb of Elephant Garlic from Gardner’s Gladiolus, Angel hair pasta from The Pasta Shop and 2 Bags of Salad Bouquet form Finger lakes Fresh (not shown).

My total bill for this was $47.26.  This is about half of my grocery budget for next week.  And I should be fine to fit in my $100.00 budget.  I will still need to get: jell-o, pearl Barley, Oatmeal, V8, pine nuts (or almonds) chicken breasts, and some canned Tomato soup and maybe peanut butter.

Other items on the menu that will be form the Bounty:

Monday-Onions.

Tuesday-Potatoes, and the wheat flour used to make the hamburger buns.

Wednesday- the corn meal from this week will be used to make corn bread

Thursday, Friday and Sat- Again, the wheat in the bread.

I will also be making up a big batch of chicken stock to freeze this weekend using chicken necks from the Bounty that have been waiting in my freezer.

Love the Bounty!

 

The Joy of a Splurge February 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — littleclaypot @ 3:31 am

 

For the past 3 months my family has been very tolerant of my local, healthful food craze. My kids have not (really) complained about oatmeal almost every morning. My husband has not complained (and even likes…sometimes) eating meals with little or no meat. So Since I had a little extra money for the grocery budget last week, and we had to go to BJ’s (mainly to stock up on cheddar cheese b/c it is the cheapest there) I told each child that they could pick any one item. They could pick from an extra fruit, snack foods, frozen foods etc.

The 3 year had picked out some pretzels and quickly relinquished them for a 3 lb box of cheesits. He held them all the way through the store. The 4 year old was very pleased with a 45 count of cheese crackers- you know the ones with the peanut butter in the middle. The 9 year old could hardly believe that I let her get frozen French toast sticks, and the 8 year old literally jumped up and down when I said he could get a box of frozen éclairs. (I have NEVER previously purchased these, he only knew about them b/c we had them at a friend’s house.)

So, not the grapefruit or kiwis I was hoping for, but all things considered I didn’t think it was that bad. And I think that we all learned a little something from the experience…I learned that my kids appreciate these novelty items much, much more after being denied them for so long. I also learned that I can package up a ridiculously large box of peanut butter crackers into zip-lock baggies of 10 and put them away on the top shelf…thereby making them last a whole month.

I think my kids and my husband learned that I am still, in fact, the same woman (they may have been getting concerned) and that an occasional splurge is ok.

The most important thing though…was that I saw my son, jump up and down with excitement, about something that he really enjoyed. I hope that I can teach my children how important it is to eat good food that came from your own, or your “neighbors” farm. I hope that I instill a love of food that is outside the box. But I also hope that I do not ever squelch the joy of their childhood…even if it means an occasional box of frozen éclairs from BJ’s.

 

To Be or Not To Be… February 10, 2010

There are certain advantages to being a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM).  There are also certain advantages to being a Go To Work Mom (GTWM).  The question that lies deep within all of us women is…”Is it better on the other side?”  The answer is “Yes.”  It doesn’t matter which side you are on…it will always be better on the other side.  We are talking about the proverbial grass right?  It’s always greener on the other side.  But I learned a secret to being content on my own side of the fence.

Of course the number one rule here is you must know Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 says: And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (emphasis added.)  We have to know Jesus Christ to have peace. 

The second rule is we must be functioning in the LORD’s will…otherwise we will have no peace.  Ephesians 5:17 tells us not be unwise, but to know the will of the LORD.  (paraphrase)  Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep us in perfect peace, if we stay focused on Him, because we can trust Him. (paraphrase)

My great epiphany?  Remember in Hinds Feet in High Places…when the Shephard took Much-Afraid to Egypt, and showed her the granary?  He showed her how each type of grain had its own method of being threshed and used.  Then He showed Much-Afraid the potter: cutting, and kneading, and shaping the clay.  And this is what the Shephard said to Much-Afraid:

                   “In Egypt, too, I fashion my fairest and finest vessels and bring forth instruments for my work, according as I see fit.” (Jeremiah 18) Then He smiled and added, “Cannot I do with you Much-Afraid, as this potter?  Behold, as the clay is in the hand of the potter so are you in my hand.” (Jeremiah 18:6)

While in Egypt Much-Afraid finds tiny little golden flowers that are called “Acceptance-with-Joy.”

The LORD led me to Egypt.  He took me to work.  I worked long hours and the LORD blessed me and I was respected and paid well for the work I was doing.  He blessed the work of my hands and used me as an instrument.  But, He also took me there to break me, to beat me like grain, and to knead me like clay.  And as He worked…and I became more focused on the things of the flesh–the things of Egypt–my home, my car, my status…I started to break.  My only rest was in the fact that I knew that I was where the LORD had put me…until the LORD chose to take me out. 

The Shephard did not leave Much-Afraid in Egypt.  God did not leave Israel in Egypt.  God did not leave me in Egypt either.   He brought me home, to be a mother, a wife, and even a student.  Honestly, I do not even long for Egypt.  Some of the comforts maybe (the steady pay-check) but the LORD has provided! Proving that what I think of as a comfort is not even necessary.  So I came out of Egypt, a little formed clay pot, and I have learned to be content. 

So maybe I am corn that has to be crushed with a stone.  Maybe you are wheat that can be tossed gently in the wind…But we both need to be willing to go to Egypt if the LORD leads us there, and we need to “Accept-with-Joy” the work that he does on us.  I am still a little clay pot.  But the LORD is forming me into something of beauty that HE can use for His purposes.

 

What’s up with the Crock Pot? February 8, 2010

If you have looked at the weekly menus, you may have noticed that I use a crock pot two times a week.  There are a few reasons for this.  One: I am in school full time pursuing my BS in Nursing, and I have class on Mondays and Wednesdays.  My Husband has been starting work between 5:30 and 7 Am…the means He is up by 4:30 or 6.  While he is perfectly capable of preparing a meal ( He WAS Mr. Mom for two years…I will have to post about that some time) the last thing I want to do is make him make dinner after working all day…But I need to be on campus by 4:00?  So how is a woman supposed to feed her family?

Two: I read this post http://www.lainesletters.com/letters/quiettime.html when studying the Proverbs 31 woman.  Let me summarize in my own little Clay Pot way…

Women will often state that we can not be the Proverbs 31 woman…we can’t possibly do it all…she was a woman of means…she obviously had servants:

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Proverbs 31: 15

So How does this tie into my crock pot?  This brilliant women  (the original author, not yours truly) learned something from the LORD:  Every American woman has servants.

  • We all have running water.
  • Most of us have a hot water heater.
  • We have furnaces.
  • We have Washing machines
  • We have dishwashers
  • Toasters
  • …crockpots.

But are servants self directed?  Do servants get up and say…”I know exactly what my master wants today…I am just going to do it all on my own.”  Well, some may I suppose, but just like we are to be servants of Christ…the more we follow after our own ideas with out checking in with the master…the more we veer from what He would have us do. And we can only work with what the LORD provides for us…we have no resources of our own.  Our appliances are very simple servants.  Every day, my washing machine performs the same task–sometimes 10 times a day!  But it still has not learned to put the laundry in, add detergent, and fill with water all on its own.  My crock pot can’t chop a carrot to save its life.  But I am their master…and it is my job to give them the supplies they need and to tell them what to do.  There are so many analogies and lessons that could be learned here it makes my head spin! Jesus has me going to school right now.  But that does not mean that I can neglect my tasks in providing for our family.  Nor does it mean that my husband should have to do more than He already does.  So, Out comes the little servant girl the “Crock Pot.”  She is quiet, pleasant looking, and will work diligently for 4-5 or 6-8 hours at the rate I tell her to work at, and given the right supplies she prepares marvelous meals.

If you are not a fan of the crock pot…so be it.  But take some time to examine the blessings in your life and the comforts that you have been afforded…and then ask Jesus to show you how you can use them to serve Him.