Friday, February 15, 2013

Where's our microwave? ...In the attic...

I have come to not notice my home's lack of a microwave. It's not until we have a guest and I spot them surveying the kitchen in confusion.

"What do you need?"
I expect an answer like: "A fork." "A cup." "The salt."
Instead I get: "Where's your microwave?"

That's when I remember we're weird and it's in the attic because we put it there shortly after moving in.

I actually had gone over a year without a microwave prior to my husband and I living together. When Jo and I lived together in Louisville neither of us brought a microwave. She said she had one at her parent's house (or had access to one) and would bring it, but it was never a big deal to the two of us. Our apartment kitchen was small with limited counter space so eventually we got used to not having one and were fine without it. We ate things cold or heated them by stove top or oven. Both of us were gone often on weekends due to our significant others living over an hour away so besides dinner on week nights, we didn't eat at the apartment a ton anyway.

When Mingus and I moved to The Loft in The Valley, family had furnished the living space with lots of furniture and kitchen supplies. We packed much of it away, especially after the wedding, since we had our own furnishings.

Ironically, there were actually two microwaves when me moved in. We put one away immediately for obvious reasons. The other we sent to the attic a month or two later after beginning to learn more about the negatives of a microwave.

I do still use a microwave from time to time, like at my work office. I don't hate them, but I figure the more I can cut the use of it on my food out of my life, the better. 

In addition to the health benefits, I find not having a microwave is just a healthy habit in general. We are such a rushed society. The reality is, I can heat soup or water pretty quickly on the stove top. Maybe not in 60 seconds, but in a matter of minutes. We also have a toaster oven when we want to reheat leftovers. Again it takes a little longer than a microwave, but it can still be done in a matter of minutes.

One of the harder things to get used to was thawing foods--meats to be specific. As mentioned in my last post, we've cut out most freezer meals anyway, so quick lunches or dinner done in the microwave aren't common. However, if it's Tuesday afternoon and I realize we have no thawed meat, I better start deciding what we'll fix for dinner. If I need to thaw something, I better get it out now and possibly set it in a warm spot to speed along the process. 

Again, though, having done it for nearly two years now, it's just the way it is and no longer an inconvenience. It actually helps with our eating and cooking style to have another reason to plan ahead. Since we don't fix pre-prepared meals, it's good to decide the day before or early in the day what we'll have for dinner. Not only do I then make sure we have things thawed as needed, but that the pantry holds whatever else we need. If it doesn't it gives me a chance to have Mingus stop on his way home from work.

Here's a blog post that goes a little more in depth on their decision to do without a microwave and how they adjusted by replacing the toaster and the microwave with a toaster oven. As this contributing writer to The Humbled Homemaker says:
"Sometimes convenience leads to bad habits and bad food."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Food for Thought... (No really...some thoughts on my food...)

I've come to taking for granted what a  regular dinner with Mingus is considered. 

It's not getting fast food--or even take-out.
Heaven knows nobody delivers to these parts, so it's not delivery.
It's not frozen, pre-prepped meals we bought from Kroger.
It's not an in-home chef or cook.
And it's obviously not gourmet cooking.

But it is home-cooked meals made up of our own hap-hazard recipes composed of non-processed ingredients and primarily food produced right here on our own land.

Sunday evening my parents joined the two of us for a joint-effort dinner. Sitting down, I was sorely disappointed when I began to proudly look upon my plate at everything that had come from our own efforts, then realized the onions--used only for seasoning other dishes, had not been grown by us. 

Dang. Onions next year maybe?

Our meal was:
  • Fried rabbit--from our own bunnies.
  • Steamed beets--dug less than a month ago, fresh from the garden (Yes, in January)
  • Cooked green beans--canned over the summer
  • Mashed potatoes, from potatoes dug in early fall
Tonight, Mingus and I will eat burgers--from ground bunny--and "french fries"; ie: our own potatoes that I sliced, seasoned and baked. (Our pickles on the burgers are cucumbers we pickled over the summer. One day we'll have our own ketchup to use also...maybe?) We're also having rice, which I cannot claim as our own.

Rice is one of the few things we buy regularly that we don't produce ourselves, along with pasta noodles. 

Don't get me wrong--we hit up the grocery often enough. Our seasonings also come from the store, but we try to keep them as organic as possible. I am anxious to grow more of our own herbs. After having incredible basil plants last year that we dried and saved, we have regularly used the leaves to make dipping sauce with spaghetti (made with garden veggies, bunny meat and homemade sauce from garden tomatoes). The difference in our basil and the basil purchased at the store is incredible. 

What it is I've really realized, though, is how natural it is becoming for us to not only cook with our own food, but to actually cook meals and not depend on something from the freezer or something someone else prepped for us with their own special seasonings, preservatives and MSG. We joke that every meal begins with oil, onions and garlic--and it's nearly true. Our garlic press is one of the most used tools in the kitchen. 

We're both glad to be becoming comfortable cooking this way right now (pre-kiddos) so that it's less of an effort when they do come along--it will be second nature to us.

Second, I've realized how much money this must be saving us. Last night's meal, with the exception of onions, garlic cloves and seasonings, and butter and rice milk (for the mashed potatoes) all of the main foods were not purchased in a store. Obviously raising rabbits has costs, as do starting a garden--and time is of value. But to not be spending money on things that are damaging my long-term (and possibly immediate) health is worth the time, no 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sports Talk: Small Towns... Where Public Prayer is OK

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Feb. 6, 2013.­­
I wanted to write on this topic last week after the Lady Rebels’ home game against Russell County on Jan 28; however, I couldn’t exactly postpone running the Super Bowl predictions until after the Super Bowl. It kind of loses it’s point…
After living away from Casey County for several years and being exposed to the regular and popular belief of keeping things “politically correct” and not crossing lines  that could possibly offend people of differing beliefs, it’s a breath of fresh air to be in a place where following and acting out your beliefs is never questioned.
The reminder came with the opening of the girls’ varsity game when eighth grader and middle school football stand-out Noah Laman was recognized and shown support from the community in his battle against cancer. A prayer was delivered by Darryl Barlow as those present stood and bowed their heads and listened to Coach Barlow ask our God to give strength, understanding and patience to Noah and his family and friend during this tough time.
When I was attending high school I probably wouldn’t have thought as much about the meaning in this act. It was a prayer when a prayer was called for, which makes enough sense.
But it’s not normal—not in a public school.
I remember when I was a Lady Rebel we would close every game—win or loss—by inviting the other team and anyone else in the gym to join us at center court to join hands and pray. This was normal for me too. I was glad to have a team who remembered God’s place in our athletic abilities and opportunities. 
Many high school kids throughout our nation are not given the same open door to including God in their athletics. Perhaps it’s not that coaches and administrators elsewhere do not believe themselves, but they fear the repercussions of a parent or student who complains that religion is being forced upon them. So these coaches and administrators play it safe and stick to the strict line that keeps religion out of their schools and athletics.
Instead we live in a community where we do not only rally behind a young person who needs our support during a struggle, but we bring him prayer and God’s support.
 Big cities and big schools definitely have their perks, but the sense of community behind our programs, students and athletes is something very special; especially because we are not afraid to keep God in our community.