Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas!

In the Kitchen

We had a lovely Christmas with prime rib and figgy pudding.  Joshua suggested that we make figgy pudding because it is a traditional Christmas dessert.  (I also made an apple pie; just in case the figgy pudding didn't turn out).  

The figgy pudding turned out great!  We even steamed it for 3 hours.  If this is to become a regular thing, I will have to get more appropriate hardware...click on the picture above to see the recipe we used.

Not too much else to say right now...here is the Christmas letter that Henry put together for this past year:

We hope that you all have had an enjoyable and productive 2015. This year will be remembered climate-wise as very unusual for us. We had very little snow. Henry was out doing field work the last week of January under temperate conditions. Last time something like this happened was when we were living in Florida. Winter rains tapered off in March. We had rainfall in mid-May and that was essentially the end of all precipitation until the last week of October. Overall, dryland crops struggled in our area. Winter wheat yields were far from their 100 bu/A average.

We had a very hot summer, so the long days, abundant sunshine, and late first killing frost, led to Denise having one of the best gardens since we moved here. Along those lines, this year Denise has been doing a lot of research as to what it might take to start a small farm so that Mark will have a job when he graduates from high school. She met a gentleman that provided her space to grow sunflowers. She would take these as cut flowers, along with jams and herbs that she prepared to our Farmer’s Market, Saturdays in July and August. It was very successful for her and she plans to increase her offerings each year. Her goal is for Mark to sell pastured eggs. They might also like to have u-pick raspberries/blueberries, Christmas trees and pumpkins on Mark’s farm, otherwise known as, reMARKable farms.

This summer, the boys transitioned into new schools. Joshua started middle and Mark high school. We had some concerns about Joshua as each year of grade school he would say things are getting too hard. To our surprise he is doing well and really seems to be enjoying 6th grade. One thing that really helps is that he is able to get most of his homework done in his study hall. He has joined the Speak Out club which is appropriate as he is never short on words. He showed his Guinea pig at our county fair and won Grand Champion! He has continued participation in Special Olympics Bowling and Swimming. Mark started 9th grade and has surpassed Henry in height. He finally discovered ice cream, thus we can’t keep enough on hand. Denise continues to make progress working with him before school on using his iPad to communicate http://remarkablecommunication.blogspot.com/ With it being such a hot summer, Mark took full advantage of our city pool, as well as the rest of us. Mark, as well as Joshua, has continued therapeutic horseback riding.

Grandmom Linda was out to visit for Mark and Joshua’s birthdays and to celebrate her birthday with Denise as they share the same day (September 14th). Denise and the boys made their annual end of the school year visit to Kansas. The boys had a great time visiting all of their cousins. Denise and Henry got to see Shania Twain on tour in Spokane, WA on September 12th. Denise completed her first year as the Executive Director for Families Together and had several successful events. She continues to work as a Support Broker to write Medicaid plans to help obtain services to assist individuals with disabilities.  She started knitting this fall and has made us all winter hats.

Wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Henry, Denise, Mark and Joshua Wetzel

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sourdough bread

Sourdough Bread

I was reading more about fermenting foods and the sourdough bread was listed.  I started to do a little bit more reading and it was said that the probiotics that help with the fermenting eat some of the gluten and that "some" people can eat breads made using sourdough because the gluten level has been decreased.  I tried spelt wheat a couple of months ago because I had heard that the gluten levels were lower in that but it still did not agree with me.  I like the idea of eating more fermented foods so I am going to try this. 

 These probiotic microorganisms:

1. Digest and assimilate (properly absorb) the foods you eat. Without adequate beneficial microflora in your gut, you can’t absorb nutrients in the foods you are eating.

2. Are necessary in order to maintain a healthy intestinal tract.

3. Contain uniquely balanced proteins, fatty acids, cellulose, minerals, and innumerable other nutrients our bodies need.

4. Provide vitamins B1 through B6 from lactobacillus and B12 vitamins from wild yeast. Wild yeast multiplies aerobically. This is because they have oxygen in them (not free radical oxygen ions) that feed your blood cells and not cancer cells. Most plant proteins including grains, seeds, cereals, beans, nuts, and some grasses form gluten. However, sourdough microflora has all the amino acids available, without the protein that forms gluten.

5. Depletes damaged starch in bread, thus diabetic people should not get insulin shock. It is a misconception that whole wheat is better than white flour for diabetics (the Glycemic difference is only 1%).

6. Produce acids, which will break down and remove some of the glutens from the bread. Acids do not allow mold and most bad bacterial growth. Alkaline with high pH allows mold growth and toxins. Mold ferments at a higher pH, allowing bad bacterial growth and the secretion of toxins. The absence of acids is abnormal, even animals have acid stomachs to kill bad bacteria.

7. Offset the effects of phytic acid, which robs your body of precious minerals.

According to Wikipedia:

Phytic acid is found within the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains. In-home food preparation techniques can reduce the phytic acid in all of these foods. Simply cooking the food will reduce the phytic acid to some degree. More effective methods are soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting.

Phytic acid is a strong chelator of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies in people whose diets rely on these foods for their mineral intake, such as those in developing countries. It also acts as an acid, chelating the vitamin niacin, which is basic, causing the condition known as pellagra. In this way, it is an anti-nutrient. For people with a particularly low intake of essential minerals, especially young children and those in developing countries, this effect can be undesirable.
“Probiotic lactobacilli, and other species of the endogenous digestive microflora as well, are an important source of the enzyme phytase which catalyses the release of phosphate from phytate and hydrolyses the complexes formed by phytate and metal ions or other cations, rendering them more soluble ultimately improving and facilitating their intestinal absorption

8. Dissolve proteins by producing protein enzymes, thus loosening multiple peptide bonds so that you can absorb more amino acids into your body. They dissolve four gluten-forming proteins: albumin, globulin, prolamin, and glutalin. They also produce alcohol that dissolves the most stubborn water insoluble protein bonds. These bonds are the reason why so many people have gluten intolerance.

9. Inhibit the growth of bad bacteria by: (1) creating a more acidic environment (2) producing anti-bacterial agents, and (3) absorbing all the B vitamins from their surroundings leaving none for the harmful bacteria.

10. Have most everything needed for optimum nutritional absorption. To absorb calcium, you need magnesium. To absorb magnesium, you need vitamin E, C, etc. Most of these are in the sourdough microorganisms, thus providing optimum absorption.

I ordered a FREE sourdough starter from 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter.  Click on the picture above to check out their website.  Here goes!  

It's alive!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015


In the Kitchen/Garden

I have been meaning to start an inventory of items that we have on hand.  I am going to try and get a good idea about how much we eat each year so I have an idea of what and how much to grow.  I made a lot of applesauce in 2014 (because I had access to a free apple tree!) and we are still eating it (although we are almost finished...I think 2 jars left)...  

Obviously, the idea is to figure out how much we would eat and then store that amount.  Because of the applesauce issue, I started putting a reminder on my phone that just says "applesauce" and it repeats monthly and this will remind me to eat it!  It might seem odd that we would have that food and not eat it but I often get caught up in getting dinner on the table and a hundred million other things going on and sometimes forget.  I also made a "pumpkin" reminder to help me to remember to bake pumpkin items this winter.  We had 2 bags of pumpkin left over from last year and I used them right away so nothing has gone to waste.  Mostly the storage would be for the winter and spring months because once fresh veggies/fruits arrive, we go back to eating that most of the time.


Speaking of Inventory...here is a nice short video on Recordkeeping for your garden...

I guess it is time to think about next years garden....look what I got in the mail yesterday...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Spaghetti sauce...

In the Kitchen

I decided that on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I would can up my spaghetti sauce.  I had been gathering tomatoes all summer and putting them in the freezer.  I ended up with about 50 pounds of tomatoes...

I ended up canning 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce...looking forward to making some lasagna this next week!

I could tell that when I was right in the middle of all this canning that I was not feeling my usual self. The next day, I woke up with a sore throat.  I was kept going and by Sunday it was pretty much unbearable.  Went to the Quick Care to find out that I had strep throat.  Thank God for antibiotics!  It was cleared up right away!

So, with Thanksgiving and being sick, I did not get too much more accomplished.  I did knit a hat for Joshua (which he wears pretty much continuously!) and a hat for Mark that was too big.  So, Henry took the hat and he just folds the brim up and it works for him.  I will make Mark another hat.


I signed up for the Cultivating Success Beginning Farmer program.  It will begin in January.  Click on the logo for the website...

Course Description

This course has students take a realistic look at their goals and resources, and helps them evaluate what type of small acreage enterprise is right for them. Students are exposed to various types of farming and ranching systems, guest farmers speak to the class, and field trips are taken to local farms. Students complete a whole farm plan.

Course Format and Dates

This course is offered as a series of webinars and regional workshops from January 14 to March 31, 2016.  The series focuses on improving small farmers’ and ranchers’ capacity to evaluate the feasibility of enterprises and assess their resources. It will involve an introductory webinar, three full day workshops and related farm tours**, and an end of course potluck and evening seminar.