What We’ve Been Eating + An Update

Hello everyone!

Long time, no talk! Things have been pretty hectic around here the past several weeks. Our families have several birthdays after the holidays and my husband and I were out of town as well. We were actually supposed to go to Italy, but, for obvious reasons, that had to be cancelled.

We have both been home full-time due to the virus for a week now. I thought you might enjoy seeing what we’ve eaten this past week! I didn’t think of this until today, so I unfortunately don’t have photos. I’ll take some this upcoming week and write again!

Sunday – On Sunday, I ‘roasted’ a whole chicken in my Instant Pot. We ate some of the meat along with some mashed potatoes and green beans. The leftover chicken I shredded to use later in the week. I also made some bone broth with the rest! I’m still working on my recipe for this. I’ll be sure to share when I’ve perfected it!

Monday – On Monday we had tacos! I made homemade tortillas after being unable to find any at the store. It was a first for me, and there’s room for improvement, but they were edible! I think I need to roll them a bit thinner and lower my stove heat. I browned a pound of ground beef (we order part of a cow with my parents every year) and sprinkled in some homemade taco seasoning. For sides, we had lettuce, tomato, refried beans, cheese, and sour cream. My avocados weren’t quite ripe, so I wasn’t able to have any. I also love corn on my tacos. My husband thinks it’s weird.. anyone else like corn with tacos??

Tuesday – For dinner tonight, I had planned on using the leftover chicken for stir-fry. However, my husband and I decided to organize and inventory our freezer. While we were doing this, I found a package of cubed pork and decided to use it instead. For the stir fry, I browned the pork in some avocado and sesame oil (I only use sesame oil for stir fry, I love the taste it gives). I set the pork aside and cooked some chopped peppers and onions until soft. Then, I cooked some frozen broccoli, as well as a small bag of mixed vegetables to bulk it up. I threw it all back in the pan, drizzled some coconut aminos (this is a great, healthier alternative to soy sauce), and served over rice!

Wednesday – Wednesday I put the leftover chicken to use in some chicken alfredo. We had some frozen, homemade noodles I made about a month ago. I cooked them up and heated up a can of alfredo sauce my husband snuck into the shopping cart.. it was organic at least! I also cooked some frozen broccoli to toss in as well.

Thursday – Tonight, I made a fabulous shepherd’s pie. I started by peeling, cubing, boiling and mashing 4 large potatoes. While mashing, I mixed in 1/3 cup shredded cheddar. I also peeled, diced, and mashed 5 carrots. Next, I cooked 1 diced onion until translucent and then added a pound of ground beef, cooking through. I added about 2 tablespoons flour to the meat and let it cook for about a minute. Then I added a little under a cup of the bone broth I made earlier this week, in addition to about a tablespoon of ketchup. Beef broth would be better, but it was still delicious, and I used what I had! Bring that to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. I also had about half a can of corn left that needed used, so I tossed it in too. Once that’s done simmering, pour it into a 2qt casserole dish. Top with the mashed carrot, then the mashed potatoes. Finally, top it all off with some more shredded cheddar! Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Friday – As I write this, I have a beef roast going in the Instant Pot. I browned it in the pot on all sides, added salt and pepper, and cooked on high pressure for 40 minutes. Let it natural release for 20 minutes, and added 3 large potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, and 4 carrots, all diced. Put the lid back on and cook on high pressure for 20 more minutes, then allow it to naturally release for 10-20 minutes. It smells amazing, can’t wait!

I hope that this was helpful for anyone struggling to come up with meal ideas lately. I’ve been enjoying being able to spend more time thinking about our food, instead of dreading having to make dinner after a long workday.

I also hope that wherever you are, you have the ability to stay safe and healthy during these uncertain times. To anyone who is still out there working and providing for all of us, thank you so much. To anyone who isn’t working and is worried about making ends meet, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Until next time!

-Katie

 

My Favorite Kitchen Items

Both my husband and I work full-time. Between work, taking care of our animals, spending time with family, and other hobbies, we’re pretty busy. Housework is one area I am constantly seeking out ways to improve. This includes making things faster, but also improving our quality of life. With the holiday season here, I thought now would be a great time to share my favorite products that take care of both.

1. Instant Pot

IpThis is hands down my favorite item in my kitchen. Ours is about 3 years old now, and aside from the huge dent in it’s side (husband has no idea how it got there 🙄 ), it’s just as wonderful as it was the day I got it. I’ve made everything in this thing, from yogurt to broth to countless roasts, stews, and chilis. I haven’t tried baking in it yet, although there are countless recipes out there to do so. It’s essentially replaced my crock pot as well. I have an 8 quart model, which is a good size for meals for my husband and I with leftovers.

2. Tramontina Ceramic Pans
pans

These are a great alternative for anyone who wants to avoid all the potentially harmful coatings on standard pans, but aren’t ready to take the leap to cast iron. I bought these from SAM’s Club a little over a year ago and have loved them ever since. They’re made from aluminum that’s been coated with ceramic, free from PFTE/PFOA, and chip resistant. They’re a breeze to cook with, and I rarely have any sticking issues.

 

3. Air Fryer

fry

I’ll be honest… this isn’t my favorite product, but it is, hands down, my husband’s favorite. He uses it almost daily to reheat various foods. He’s a big fan of french fries, frozen chicken nuggets, burritos (I’m working on him 😜). He’s a big eater despite being a rail, so this helps him feed himself outside of our typical mealtimes.

 

4. KitchenAid Mixer

41kBBKtRW8L._SL250_This is actually my second KitchenAid Mixer. I ended up selling my basic model and upgrading not longer after purchasing it originally! I knew I wanted to be able to make bread on a fairly regular basis, and the base model just couldn’t handle all the kneading. This model handles it easily. On top of that, I just love how it looks on the counter. I use it often for bread, baked goods, whipping up mashed potatoes, and shredding chicken. 

 

These are the four things in my kitchen I’d go out and replace if they broke. I have many other things I use daily, but I haven’t found the best wooden spoon yet, for example. Side note.. if you have a wooden spoon you rave out, let me know! I’d love to get a good one that is moderately priced. I hope this helps you out! Let me know if you have any questions!

–Katie

Our Journey to Raw Milk, Part 2

Although we didn’t start consistently buying raw milk until a few months ago, the first time I purchased raw milk was actually over a year ago.

In Pennsylvania, we’re lucky to have fairly lax raw milk laws. Raw milk sales are legal in retail stores so long as a few requirements are met. In my area, we have one natural food store that sells it by the half and whole gallon. I’d begun going to this store about once a month to get some items that I wasn’t able to find in my other grocery stores. I enjoyed looking around the store, learning about new items, and had seen the raw milk for sale several times. Finally, one day I bit the bullet and bought a small bottle.

It sat in the fridge for two days before I finally opened it. I was nervous. I didn’t know if it would taste different, and all the hype of how dangerous raw milk can be was swirling in my head. I took such a small sip I don’t remember a single thing about it. I may have even just dipped my finger into it and tasted it that way. After that small taste, as I was making dinner, back in the fridge it went…. and it sat there. It sat there until it went ‘bad’ or as I now know, it just soured, and down the drain it went.

Fast forward to this past August. My interest in raw milk was once again piqued. I read up on raw milk and it’s benefits. Jill from The Prairie Homestead and Shaye from The Elliott Homestead gave me the courage to go all in. Back to our local food store I went and purchased a half gallon of raw milk. This time, I eagerly came home and poured myself a glass. It wasn’t as life-changing as some had made it out to be, however, I’ve been drinking whole, local milk for a while, and this was from a store. That being said, I was still hooked. I wasn’t afraid, and knowing how much better this was for me than the dead milk I had been drinking, I knew I wasn’t going back.

Our Journey to Raw Milk, Part 1

Prior to moving out on my own, I had been interested in eating more real food for a while. I had watched a few different Netflix documentaries at the time, but was still, for the most part, at the will of my parents groceries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about eating groceries my parents graciously paid for. My husband lived with his parents until he was 27 and he was able to save quite a bit that eventually went towards the downpayment for our homestead. I still tell anyone who is able to, stay at home while you can!

I was 22 when I moved out on my own and in with my now husband and began really experimenting with more natural and organic options. For the first year or so I bought whatever the cheapest organic skim milk the store I happened to be in that day carried. Slowly, my quest for a more natural lifestyle also led me towards low-waste living and I decided to actively strive to minimize my environmental footprint. A local dairy that I’d gone to for years for an occasional ice cream treat produced their own pasteurized, homogenized milk and sells it in glass bottles. It was only slightly out of the way for me to stop on my way home from work, and the price was less expensive than what I was paying for store brand organic. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner!

I still to this day don’t know anything about the cows, their living conditions, what they eat, or even whether the milk was ultra-pasteurized, flash pasteurized and so on. Their website didn’t give much information and my shyness always beat out my desire to get more information. Local, seemingly uninterested teenagers were who I typically saw working, so I assumed they probably didn’t know the answers to my questions anyways. Not that I blamed them, I certainly wouldn’t have at their age. This is what ultimately led me to start exploring raw milk.