Monday, October 22, 2007

It's squash season.

I love winter squash. There is a farm near here that grows a large variety of winter squash and sells them at their pumpkin patch.

We are drowning right now in acorn squash and have a few butternut, sweetmeat, and spaghetti squash to use up. I've never used sweetmeat squash before, so that will be an adventure but the spaghetti and butternut squash will be easy.

The other day I used a huge butternut squash to make two meals, a pasta dinner and a soup lunch. Both recipes were delicious. The pasta recipe (make sure the sauce is a smooth sauce, no squash chunks) came from one of my favorite forums while the soup recipe came from one of my sister's country magazines. I'm no good at taking food pictures, or I'd include those for you. Enjoy the recipes!

Linguine with squash, bacon and goat cheese

6 slices bacon
1 2-2 ½ pound butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and diced (4-5 cps)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cps chicken broth
1 tsp salt
4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 1-lb package linguine, cooked
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, crumble, set aside.

Keep 2 tbsp bacon fat. Add squash, garlic in skillet. Saute for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in broth and salt. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until th esquash is cooked through and softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Add half the goat cheese and stir well to combine.

Place cooked linguine in large bowl. Stir sauce into linguine and toss well to coat. Drizzle with olive oil and add the reserved bacon, remaining goat cheese, and pepper. Serve immediately.

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

2 cps diced peeled butternut squash
1 mall carrot, finely chopped
1 green onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cps vegetable broth
1 can (14 ½ oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg (3 oz) cream cheese, cubed
¼ cp minced fresh basil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (11 oz) mexicorn, drained
2 cps fresh baby spinach

Saute squash, carrot, onion, garlic and cumin in oil for 10 minutes.

Add 1 ½ cps broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender; cool slightly.

Transfer mixture to blender. Add tomatoes, cream cheese, basil, chipotle pepper and remaining broth. Cover and process for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.

Return to saucepan; stir in the beans, corn and spinach. Cook and stir until spinach is wilted and soup is heated through.

5 servings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book: Pastured Poultry Profits

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By Joel Salatin

Read this book through in almost one sitting. It's written by a farmer in Virginia. His family runs Polyface Farm. He raises, harvests, and sells thousands of chickens every summer.

This book is a handbook on how to pasture (grass-raise) chickens. I read it through in one sitting because it was not slick or professionally edited. It was professionally organized and chock-full of information but it was obviously written by someone who had gone through this first-hand. The examples and experiences he shared pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. Even the appendices with his farms newsletters were interesting to someone looking at the "whole picture", the whole farm.

He does not have his chickens free-range. He keeps them in pens that he moves around the pasture every day. He explains his feeding, watering, and pen construction (including problem shooting) in detail. Since free-range is not a possibility where we live (active, aggressive predation), this was necessary for me.

He uses Cornish Cross chickens, the breed bred for the factory farms. I'm emotionally attached to using heritage breeds. I will have to raise some of each the first year and see which breed I get financially attached to. I think that a well-chosen heritage breed could compete well with the 'traditional' Cornish Cross.

He included a few chapters (one chapter, one appendix) on turkeys, which is what I want to focus on raising first. At the time of writing, he had not added turkeys to his farm yet. I'm sure he has by now. Turkeys take longer to hit mature weight, but you can charge more for the meat.

I will have to check on the legal requirements in our area for selling chickens. The government is so strict about small farms and food sold from those farms, that this might be an issue for us...

This book was a fantastic addition to our library and one that I'll read over and over as my husband and I plan our income-producing farm. For now, it's headed over to a friend's house. She already raises chickens and because of the increased profit for grass-raised chickens, she's looking into how to do that on her place.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"We worry about what a child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." Stacie Tauscher

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My kind of fairy tale.

This was posted on my favorite board.

Once upon a time
In a land far away,
A beautiful, independent,
Self-assured princess
Happened upon a frog as she sat
Contemplating ecological issues
On the shores of an unpolluted pond
In a verdant meadow near her castle.
The frog hopped into the princess' lap
And said: " Elegant Lady,
I was once a handsome prince,
Until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.
One kiss from you, however,
And I will turn back
Into the dapper, young prince that I am
And then, my sweet, we can marry
And set up housekeeping in your castle
With my mother,
Where you can prepare my meals,
Clean my clothes, bear my children,
And forever feel
Grateful and happy doing so".
That night,
As the princess dined sumptuously
On lightly sauteed frog legs
Seasoned in a white wine
And onion cream sauce,
She chuckled and thought to herself:

I don't feckin think so.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The LDS Church is making progress on women's issues.

Seriously. They are. I'm sure of it.

There needs to be a font change similar to bolding or italicizing that denotes sarcasm.

This last weekend was the LDS church's bi-annual General Conference. In layman's terms, it's when the church broadcasts their "You're all unworthy sinners, men don't masturbate or look at pornography, ladies, don't you work outside the home, and y'all drive home safely now, y'hear?" message.

Conference weekend consists of two sessions (two hours each) on Saturday and two more on Sunday with a speshul Priesthood session thrown in for good measure on Saturday night. It is supposed to be a high point of a Mormon's year since they get to hear the Prophet speak.

When we were little and lived outside of the 'corridor' (WY, ID, AZ, and especially UT), conference weekend meant dressing up in our best clothes and suffering through eight long hours of old men giving talks that meant nothing to us. We had to go to the local ward meetinghouse and sit on wooden benches and fill out the 'conference games' that my mom made for us.

Now that I live in the extended corridor (southern Idaho) and all of my husband's very LDS family lives close by (within three hours), the conference has become a dependable mini-reunion. That in itself is lovely. We get to see most of the family and our daughters get to play with their cousins. Of course conference is being broadcast as loudly as possible in the background.

Not many of the adults pay attention. Mostly people are catching up, talking about the weather, about bike riding, about anything but conference. Last conference, the get-together was held at my house and I, the only non-Mormon in the room, had to let them know their prophet was on the computer screen. They all dutifully watched the screen long enough to say "He's so inspiring", "I just love him", or "Isn't he the sweetest man?" before they went back to talking about farming. This year it was held at my BIL's place and I didn't bother telling anyone when he was on. They didn't miss anything. The only living prophet on our earth, the only man who talks directly to God...recycled his talk. Used pieces and portions from old talks. And he was so frail. I don't think he'll be attending many more conferences.

The one talk that I did listen to (as I was sitting there frantically trying to finish knitting a shawl that I'd started knitting over two years ago) made my eyes spin. The talk was by Relief Society President Beck, the only woman allowed to speak that day. She might as well have been one of the old white men. I'll post her talk at the end. It was such a throw-back to the church before Chieko Okazaki, who tried to help LDS women feel less guilt, and Sherri Dew, who, being a child-less, husband-less corporate woman, tried to lessen the natural frustration about women like her in the church.

This talk was meant to bring women in line hard and fast. The Relief Society President was showing her allegiance to the party line in the church, no matter the cost to believing women who would now be riddled with guilt about not being good enough. The talk was entitled "Mothers Who Know". A poster on a post-Mormon board that I frequent posted her own "Mothers Who Know" list. I'm posting it below...before I post the talk in its entirety.

"Mothers who Know" -Froggie

"I'm a mother who knows.

I am a mother who knows I don't want the totality of my life's work to be reflected in a headstone that says "she had the world's cleanest toilets."

I am a mother who knows that balance is needed in all things and I must take ample amount of time for myself or my children will suffer.

I am a mother who knows that the more children I have, the more complex (not simple) my life becomes.

I am a mother who knows that if I do not teach my daughters real life skills I will be inadequately preparing them for future survival needs.

I am a mother who knows that more important than the desire to bear children is to properly care for the children I might desire.

I am a mother who understands that every female in the animal kingdom is capable of desiring and bearing young. It is rising above that animal-need and finding greater intelligence in the function that makes being a parent more noble.

I am a mother who understands that the desire to bear children may have less than divine origins. That there are selfish, unprepared, and emotionally stunted women who desire to have children.

I am a mother that recognizes that, in the grand scheme of all things parenting, an ironed shirt or dress is completely inconsequential.

I am a mother who knows that I am capable of being a leader both inside and outside of the home....and those leadership skills are respected in both venues.

I am a mother who recognizes that a religion as demanding as mormonism might well detract from my potential to be the best mother I can be."

And this, folks, is what I grew up with.

This is the future that I was given when growing up in the LDS church. This was the be-all, end-all of my existence. It has been awhile since it has been talked about from a General Conference pulpit in such plain language, but it is back in force now.

Is it back because LDS women are having fewer children? Or missionary numbers are down? Is it back because more LDS women are working outside the home? Is it because 'corridor Mormons', the traditional backbone of the LDS church are leaving faster than the church lets on to its membership? I don't know. I do know that if my female relatives had been paying attention in conference, they would not likely have been angry as I was - they would have felt guilty. Very guilty. Even when I was Mormon they couldn't understand my anger with such talks.

So here's the talk by RS President Becks.

"Mothers who Know" - President Becks

In the Book of Mormon, we read about 2000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous and strong. They were men of truth and soberness for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him. These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it.” I would suspect that the mothers of Captain Moroni, Mosiah, Mormon and other great leaders also knew.

The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. However, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are, who God is, and have made covenants with him, they will have great power for influence for good on their children.

Mothers who know desire to bear children, whereas in many cultures of the world children are becoming less valued. In the culture of the gospel, we still believe in having children. Prophets seers and revelators who have been sustained at this conference have declared that God’s commandment for his children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children, and that in the eternal perspective, children – not possessions, not position, not prestige – are our greatest jewels.

Faithful daughters of God desire children. In the scriptures we read of Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, and Mary, who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah in the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child, the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain will rise with them in the resurrection. Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity. And eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood.

Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants. I have visited sacrament meetings in some of the poorest places on the earth, where mothers have dressed with great care in their Sunday best, despite walking for miles on dusty streets and using worn out public transportation. They bring daughters in clean and ironed dresses. Their sons where white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts. They are going to sacrament meeting where covenants are renewed. These mothers have made and honor temple covenants. They know that if they are not pointing their children to the temple they are not pointing them to desired eternal goals. These mothers have influence and power.

Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role in the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes, and dishes and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence. Therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.

Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate. Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make up homes that create a climate for spiritual growth.

Growth happens best in a house of order, and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house. Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women.

Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. Mothers who know build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.

Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtime, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre-missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence. That is power.

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children, more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time laughing, talking, singing, and exemplifying.

These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. There goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence. That is power.

Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters? Latter-day Saint women will do this. Women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of him. Women who will are strong and immovable, who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times.

We are led by an inspired prophet of God who has called upon the women of the church to stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord. He has asked us to begin in our own homes, to teach children the ways of truth. Latter-day Saint women should excel at upholding, nourishing, and protecting families. I have every confidence that our women will do this, and will come to be known as mothers who knew. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Communication is key.

My husband and I have learned in our six years of marriage that most of our problems come from either poor communication or lack of communication. We're still working on it.

Is it any wonder that the majority of angst that most parents suffer in their relationship with their toddler child is because of poor or lack of communication? Is it any surprise that it is at two years old that the children become "terrible"? This is the age when children are (on average) learning to talk and get frustrated when they are not understood.

I was so incredibly lucky to be introduced to a way around this in our family. With Hannah, we started doing sign language at around twelve months old. We were told to start signing with food signs, which she would pick up the fastest, and move on from there. Well, my booby baby had absolutely zero interest in food, so it was not until we started doing animal signs that she started signing back. Once she connected that she could tell us about dogs, cats, sheep, cows, and horses, she thought the signing thing was pretty cool.

We used a blend of ASL and 'baby' sign language and never asked her to modify her baby signs to do them properly. As she matured she added signs at an increasingly fast rate. One a week, then a few a week, then a few a day! It stunned us how thirsty she was for that ability to communicate with us. Once she'd labeled everything in her everyday life, the sign acquisition slowed back down to a "need to know" basis. I lost count of how many signs she knew somewhere past 100, when she was asking how to 'say' giraffe and hippo. She started talking not long after that and the signing slowly phased out.

But between learning to sign and learning to talk, the only fits she had were because she was teething or because we as parents had dropped the ball and she was either very tired or very hungry. There were no fits because she couldn't communicate that she wanted a drink. Or because a drink of water was handed to her and she wanted milk, dammit!

So now it's time for number two. I started signing with Ainsley earlier than with Hannah because Ainsley is in a hurry to get going on everything. When she would do something, or look at something, I would make the sign and move on. I never require or even encourage a sign in return. It will happen when the child is ready.

With Ainsley I started out with animals - I should have started out with food. Booby baby this child is not. As soon as I added food to the mix, she started signing and is now signing around ten signs. She doesn't seem to have the need to sign that her sister did - Hannah knows what she wants.

And about communication with Hannah. I've learned something about a 3 1/2 yr old. They listen to what you say and try to use it in their life, try to find the context and add to their vocabulary. Which is why I must stop swearing around my children. We were playing the 'Backyardigans' board game the other day and Hannah landed on a blank square. In a conversational tone she said "Frickin' hell, that doesn't help me!"