Valley Nursery

Lately the weather has pretty much brought back the chill of winter around here. While I could just go back into my usual cranky “Utah weather stinks and it will never get warm” attitude, I decided that I would get out and make myself think spring.

Now I have been waiting 3 years to have a vegetable garden. In our first home we moved in at the end of gardening season and the next spring we had a newborn so I was not doing much in the way of digging and heavy lifting so no garden beds. The next year we were excitedly buying our second home to make room for the new addition and we had no landscaping and I was a huge pregnant blimp. So…no garden. This year the gardening is going to be on like Donkey Kong. (Points if you are old enough to have actually played that game)

So to refresh my spirits and renew my excitement about gardening, despite the chill in the air, I set out to Valley Nursery in Uintah.

I have been here many times and each time I find something new to love about it. There is always a friendly face to ask if you need help and the staff is incredibly knowledgable.

I had such a great time picking out all the veggie starts that I am going to get when I come back again and my oldest had fun running around the aisles uninterrupted. Such a fun place with an amazing selection an incredible prices. No more hardware store plants for me!

Now I do not know if these plant starts are GMO or not, but as I will say many times in this blog, baby steps 🙂20130423-205912.jpg

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S*** Crunchy Moms Say

I came across these videos and I was dying.  I am sure that a whole bunch of my crunchy mom friends have already seen these but I had to post them anyway.  So many of these topics will be discussed here, but this is a fun way to look at it!

 

 

And then Part 2

 

And if that wasn’t enough, they even did a Dad’s one!!!

 

I showed them all to my husband and got quite a few chuckles but his favorite by far was the Dad’s video.  He was laughing at with me through it but paused a bit when the Dad says that he “prefers the freedom of a ring sling”.  He looked at me and said, “Huh? You have way more freedom with a back carry!  I could go golfing with the baby in a back carry.” Then I chuckled… He is turning… muahahaha

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting… Mama Mouse style

Carrot muff

I am not a photographer. Just to prove that, I can give you the Mens Warehouse Guarantee that the pictures posted on this blog will be taken with my cell phone. So, those cupcakes probably would look 200 times better if I was a photographer, but I’m not. They still look damn tasty though.

My friend Mikaela has a nifty blog over at Mama Mouse Says. She makes the most beautiful food and its all good for you! I have already told her that she has single handedly renewed my fire for cooking. The fire was quelled by having two kids under 2 but after reading some of her recipes and drooling over her pictures, I can say that the passion for having fun with food has returned. Thanks Mikaela!!

She made this delicious looking Carrot and Beet Layer Cake with Goat Cheese frosting. One look at that cake and I was hungry for something sweet. Honestly though… I hate Beets. There was a traumatic experience during my childhood involving beets, but I have decided that the poor beet should not have to suffer my hatred because of something that happened when I was 9 so I will eventually try them. I wanted to try one of her recipes though so I thought I would pick and choose what would be at my Crunchy Comfort Level. I chose the Carrot Cake 🙂 I decided to make cupcakes out of them though for easy portion control and toddler handling and made her cream cheese frosting because I chickened out on the goat cheese. Baby steps right?

Mama Mouse’s Recipe:

  • 5 shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/2 c yogurt
  • 2.5 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 c oil of choice, she used melted coconut but any veggie oil works
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  • oil and flour your baking pan (I used a muffin tin lined with baking cups. It made 15 cupcakes)
  • preheat oven to 350
  • In a food processor or by hand whisk together yogurt, eggs, honey, oil
  • In a bowl mix flour, baking soda and powder ,salt and cinnamon
  • add shredded veggie to flour and toss until coated
  • fold in wet ingredients
  • bake at 350 for 20 minutes until fork comes out clean from the middle (cupcakes only took 16-18 minutes)

Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 c Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c honey

I halved this recipe for the cupcakes.

Whip together cream cheese, honey and yogurt until light and fluffy

These turned out SO GOOD!! To confess, I have never made a “healthy” baking recipe. I try to avoid baking as much as possible and just enjoy the “real” thing once in awhile but these were so moist and tender that it made me rethink that idea. The frosting was insane and it tempted little toddler fingers. Here is a play by play of my son and the cupcakes…

carrot muff 2 carrot muff 3 carrot muff 4

The first is my favorite because all you see is his finger tip… sneaky boy. LOL

Try them out for yourself or be braver than me and try the beets!

On the Ranch…

I love ranch dressing… It is so tasty and pretty much my toddler’s favorite thing to use vegetables as a spoon for.  When I found out that I could have the flavor of Ranch in a packet that I could put into soups, stews, chilis and just about anything else, I felt like I had found the Holy Grail of seasonings!  What could possibly be bad about such a thing?!

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MSG, that’s what.  This pic was taken directly from their site and when I saw it I was sad.  MSG is a flavor enhancer that can also cause nausea, faintness, heart palpitations and a slew of other ridiculous things.  All that for a little salt, huh?  No thanks.  But if I say good-bye to my packet of goodness, where am I going to get my ranch fix?  How am I going to add zest to my succulent turkey meatloaf and depth to my taco chili?  Crunchiness to the rescue!!  I will make it myself.  One of the great things about crunchiness is that it empowers you to learn about what is in your food and to take the time and effort to make as much of your food from scratch as you can.

I combed the far ends of the intranets (I know that I spelled it wrong, but sometimes I just like to say it like that so play along, won’t you?) and found a few exciting and promising recipes but none that fit exactly what I was looking for.  I ended up trying this recipe, but tweaked it a smidge to my liking and amazingly enough I liked it even better than my packet o’ goodness.  Then, to top it all off, there was the added bonus of it being SO MUCH CHEAPER to make it myself.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Better tasting, better on the wallet and even better for you?  Doesn’t get much better than that. (How much better could all that better have been if I had used better words to describe stuff? haha)

So here it is and hopefully you can try it for yourself.  I used it to make my Better Than Yo Mama’s Garlic Ranch Meatloaf on Monday and even added it to my breading for baked pork chops on Wednesday.  I am excited to see what else that I can think of to use it in!

1/2 cup dry buttermilk (find it by the powdered, evaporated milk products)

1 tablespoon dried parsley, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (heehee I said Dill Weed)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried onion flakes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

I went to the glorious Winco for my shopping trip to make this because they have an amazing bulk foods section that includes spices.  If I can’t find a spice in the Hispanic foods section in the awesome little packets I head over there and they almost always have it.

Here is what it looked like:

Ranch Mix 2

I was able to fit it right back into my dry buttermilk container after using a mixing bowl to combine.  One container of dry buttermilk made 4-5 of the recipe above so I just made it all and now I will have some whenever a dish needs to be more Ranch-tastic.  Enjoy!

And so it begins…

My journey to this moment started innocently enough. I saw a picture of a woman carrying her baby on her back in a woven wrap. The baby looked so peaceful and sweet. The wrap was gorgeous and colorful and the whole thing was so impressive. How did she get that baby back there? Where does the fabric end? She was Super Mom and she had it all together and I thought to myself, “I want to do that!”. I learned as much as I could about this way to carry your children. They called it… Babywearing… Fancy, right? I immersed myself in this parenting subculture and learned all I could. I fell in love with helping others learn about this amazing “new invention” (that has been around since the dawn of time) and even found a group in my area devoted to the very topic of Babywearing! It was nice to have a group of Moms to discuss the ins and outs of this small, but passionate, sect of the Mama Community. Although… I had no idea the Pandora’s Box of a sub-culture I was opening up. Much like Bacon is the Gateway Meat for vegetarians; Babywearing was my Gateway to Crunchy.

So what does Babywearing have to do with being “Crunchy” and what the hell is “Crunchy” anyway?

There are a lot of ways to define Crunchy but my personal definition is one who strives to parent and live in as natural a way as possible. Examples of this are Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Cloth Diapering, Homesteading, Natural Child Birth (even in their own home without a “doctor”), Non-Vaccinating, and the list goes on and on. There are many other ways to define it but I figure you can look into those yourself (The Urban Dictionary’s definition makes me laugh so much!!).

Now I am going to lay it out for you people. I am NOT someone who has grown up in a natural life style. My Mom worked at a hospital when I was born and got cases of formula for free. She worked her butt off to support me and my brother and a lot of times we ate Top Ramen for lunch and dinner (I still pretty much adore that stuff truly. Its a problem). We lived in Orange County, CA but not the latte sipping, stroll on the beach, check out the surfers and pretend to be blonde place that you are thinking of. It is more of the type of place you would see in this early 90’s video from A Lighter Shade of Brown (There is actually a shout out to the city I was born in at the end of the song). We had a garden one or two summers and I remember my Mom and Aunt canning something once, but mostly it was a pretty typical American upbringing where babies drank from bottles, wore Pampers, McDonald’s was King and I never knew that all of that wasn’t the way God created the Earth.

I must admit that if you talked to me about 3-4 years ago, heck, even 2 years ago, I would have told you that all of this crunchy stuff was weirdo, neo-hippieness and that I was very happy with my life just the way it was. Looking back on my journey as a Mom (in the 2 short years I have been lucky to be called Mom), I have grown A LOT and many things that I was so certain of as a non-parent are on shaky ground and things that I would never have questioned in the past get the People’s Eyebrow from me now. I have learned so many things from so many amazing women, but I want to learn more and I am here to let you watch it happen.

Many of the natural Mom blogs are full of experts on so many subjects and a wealth of information that they have gained through years of experience raising children, running homes, working in the natural food industry, studying childbirth, and many other things. If you want an expert, go somewhere else because you will not find one here. I am a novice, a weird, slightly awkward novice and all of this crunchy stuff sometimes makes my head spin. I cannot promise you that I will have all of the answers now, but I can promise you that I will be completely honest about my experiences and feelings as I learn and grow in my Quest of Crunchy Curious.

So let’s do this together and answer some questions like: should we search the sky for GMO’s? Is Kombucha a new dance craze? (all the kids are doing it) Is Spirinella a big hair band from the 80’s? What do I put in a Mei Tai; a child or a tiny umbrella and a straw? Are Essential Oils really essential? Do people actually wash and reuse things that their baby pooped in? And they actually ENJOY doing it?

Watch me learn and maybe learn something yourself!