Saturday, May 11, 2013

weird things

This morning our pasture-based farmer had fresh chicken feet. I need to get more bone broths into my guy and I think chicken stock has more versatility, flavour-wise than beef. So I picked up a couple bags for 50 cents each. I have a habit of doing things that scare me (not physically -- I have no interest in skydiving or bungee jumping -- but psychologically), and I've been thinking about trying to learning how to butcher a whole animal, just to see if I could. But anyways, the feet. I figured there's no time like the present since it was cold and gray today and due to be colder and grayer tomorrow. I don't know how people keep consuming bone broths through the summer because it adds so much heat and humidity to your house. My goal is to make and freeze as much broth as I can.

So anyways... these creepy chicken feet. They are seriously creepy. If I'd known I might need to peel them and would have to cut their toenails off, I would not have bought them. But I did it, and it really wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. They'd already been peeled, so I didn't blanch them. I just put them in the pot with cold water, a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and let it sit for an hour before slowly bringing it to a simmer. It looked gross for a long time. If I stir it, it still looks gross when they come to the surface of the pot, but it smells quite delicious. It helps that I added some vegetable scraps and onion skins, bay leaves and peppercorns, I'm sure.

So that was weird.

The other weird thing was driving to the other side of town, to a near-deserted milk processing plant to buy an 11-litre jug of organic maple syrup. The deal was totally legit (not like I was buying raw milk or anything), but the producer doesn't sell his syrup at a market. He drives a milk truck part-time, so he just takes orders and delivers them on his way.

I'm not normally picky about organic production for maple syrup since nobody sprays maple trees, but they use slightly different detergents and defoamers than conventional maple syrup production and this bulk quantity was bigger and less expensive than any I've seen elsewhere. This is a very large jug of maple syrup we have now. When we open it, we'll pour some into a smaller bottle and put the big jug in our new (to us) deep freezer until we need to refill the smaller bottle.

Because of our dietary restrictions and also because I've been trying to shop seasonally and locally, we have like four different places we buy our groceries. If I got stuck in a weekly shop frame of mind, I'd pretty much have to shop every day, which I did in the early days of all these changes. I figure one solution is to buy as much in bulk as I can. So some time ago I bought 50 pounds of rolled oats (only to discover that Cure Tooth Decay says oatmeal is about the worst thing for children with tooth decay. Crap.) And now 11 litres of maple syrup. Next up could be a whole lamb or perhaps a side of pork?

* * *
Speaking of weird things, a huge change in our lives is coming soon. My old job was vacant, and with such short severance coverage from my husband's lost job, it just seemed like a no-brainer to see if they might be interested in rehiring me. So as of May 21, my husband will be the primary caregiver and I will win bread and bring home the bacon. This way, I can walk to work in 20 minutes or bike in 5, which means no second car (Hallelujah!) and a bit more family time every day. It means my husband won't have to take the first job that comes his way, even if it were far away. It means we can keep eating well. It means I can apply all the learning I've done about myself over the last year or so to my work life. Of course, it's slightly ironic that it came within months of my finally feeling like I was getting this at-home gig and doing ok at it, and literally within days of feeling like I just had the sweetest life ever. I can still feel that way though. And it will be my new project to feel that way while working.

But oh I will miss my kids. They will be great, I'm sure, and will love the chance to get closer to their dad, but I will miss them. Especially Youngest, who is still nursing on demand. Eldest had weaned by this age, but he was hale and hearty and he was drinking milk. Youngest can't tolerate any nutritious milk substitute, so breastmilk remains very important nutritionally. Especially when he gets sick. He's still pretty thin, so when he loses his appetite, he really suffers.

And of course there are my other interests, which will necessarily take a backseat. Whenever I get worried about this, which is with some frequency, I remind myself that to everything there is a season. We knew my husband worked in a volatile industry when I quit my job, and I accepted that leaving the workforce might mean I couldn't just jump back in whenever I wanted at the same level I was at. I would flip burgers if I needed to. I just didn't expect the situation to arise so soon, before I'd developed the practical skills of resilience I've been working on so slowly. But the fact that I'm literally able to return to where I left is so lucky, I can't help but wonder at the synchronicity, that maybe I still have some stuff to learn there.

Edited to add: I just realized I was missing a pretty important word in the first sentence: FEET. The farmer had chicken feet. I have corrected now.

Monday, May 6, 2013

tooth decay

Poor Youngest did NOT enjoy his trip to the dentist this morning. I'd been thinking about taking him for a while, but since my husband lost his job a week and a half ago and we have only a few days' more coverage for health benefits, it was time. I very much want to try curing his tooth decay with diet before trying conventional dental treatment. But I wanted to know from the dentist just how bad the decay was. I didn't get a solid answer this morning, but we've been referred to a pediatric specialist. With the appointment not until July, I figure we've got two months to do our best to improve his teeth.

I mentioned Cure Tooth Decay earlier. It's pretty compelling, and I figure it's worth a try before putting my not-even-two-year-old under general anesthesia and drilling bigger holes in his teeth. The main thrust of the book is that the explanation for tooth decay dentists are currently working with is wrong. It is sugar that primarily causes tooth decay, but not because it feeds the bacteria in mouth, which produce acid that harms your teeth, as is currently believed. Rather, it's the spikes in blood sugar that mess with your ratio of calcium to phosphorus in your blood, which in turn weakens your teeth. Also, the lectins and phytates in grains prevents you from absorbing the minerals necessary to repair teeth. And get this: whole grains are worse for your teeth than refined grains, which have less phytic acid. White rice and white flour apparently cause fewer problems than whole grains. Which has me thinking. Pretty much all gluten-free grains are whole grains.

A number of dentists worked in the early part of the 20th century on exploring the nutritional causes of tooth decay and curing it through diet. One of them, Dr. Weston Price was able to cure children's tooth decay with just one super-nutritious meal per day. He also travelled the world looking for traditional cultures with the best dental, reproductive and general health and exploring their diets. Although the cultures he explored ate a wide variety of foods, what they had in common were generous quantities of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K.

So, based on the recommendations in Cure Tooth Decay and our wariness of eliminating any more foods from our diet, here is what we're going to try to do:

  • eat eggs in the morning instead of oatmeal
  • eat soups and stews with homemade bone broth, meat and vegetables for lunch instead of eggs
  • eat stuff we normally eat for dinner (mostly meat and vegetables, sometimes rice and vegetables)
  • supplement with fermented cod liver oil and royal butter blend (once we can find a Green Pastures distributor in Canada) instead of Halibut Liver Oil with synthetic Vitamin A and D-Drops, which we're currently giving him; this will provide vitamins A, D and K
  • as much as possible, eat only soaked and/or soured grains
  • eat more mineral and vitamin C-rich vegetables like leafy greens and cruciferous veggies
  • eat more fermented foods (my sauerkraut is coming along nicely but isn't quite ready yet)
  • as much as possible, only serve fruits or other sweets with fat and protein to slow the blood sugar spike
  • use more honey and maple syrup than refined sugar for sweetening
So that's the plan. I hope we're able to implement it without too much difficulty, especially given that there will likely be big changes for us coming up soon.