We've been really striving to eat differently the last few months. Changing our eating habits from fast processed foods to whole foods in their most natural and healthiest forms. What a process! The most difficult aspect is that I have expectations that these changes will happen overnight...let me tell you, they don't. I started out with these great ideas that I was going to cook everything we ate from scratch and that it would all be organic and nothing would be processed foods. I started with this great idea on several different occasions, but after a few days of having no food in the house and nothing ready in time for dinner I ended up going to WINCO, spending way more money than planned and coming home with bags of processed grocery junk. So I re-evaluated my system. I'm working in baby steps. I'm trying to be very diligent with planning our meals for the week based on what comes in the CSA and what I know will be available at New Season's that is local. Without a detailed menu for the week, I have found that the grocery store can be a dangerous place to go. I'm allowing a few processed items in the cart, because there are days when macaroni and cheese from a box is really the only thing that I have the energy for and that they will eat without complaint. But by limiting the processed foods (which are often the bulk of grocery costs) I can go with Annie's organic mac & cheese. Still mac & cheese in a box, I know, but somehow I feel better about it.
One of the other challenges that I have come across is that home made substitutes don't have quite the same shelf life as their processed counterparts. Bread needs to be eaten that day to be the best and produce straight from the farm can't sit in the fridge for a week waiting for me to figure out what in the heck to do with it. Fresh food wants to be eaten when it's fresh, which poses a challenge when you are used to sending leftovers in lunches for multiple days or you are disorganized and can't remember what's in the fridge when you are looking in the cupboards.
It's exciting to learn, to experiment and to become more familiar with some traditional recipes and cooking techniques. I used to think that a home cooked meal meant boiling some noodles, opening a jar of pasta sauce and heating up some bread from Albertson's. Our spaghetti dinners do still resemble that formula a little, but in time I hope to be able to make my own pasta, pull a jar of home-canned sauce from the cupboard and we already have a great bread recipe that I love so much and is so easy that I will probably never buy a loaf of french bread from the store again.
Last week we went to the park in the evening and packed a picnic for dinner. It was so much fun and such a relaxing way to enjoy a beautiful summer night. (Although Jeremy was a bit stressed out by the sandbox that Aviana was immersing herself in.) We brought along an assortment of veggies and fruit. Homemade pita bread and hummus. I ended up buying the hummus because I really didn't plan ahead and soak the beans, but like I said I'm learning. The pita bread was so simple and so delicious that I had to share it.
Combine in a large bowl:
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/4 cups room-temperature water
Mix for 1 minute. Knead dough for 10 minutes. Add flour/water as needed. Transfer to oiled bowl and turn to coat. Rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled. Preheat oven and stone(or baking sheet) to 450. Punch down dough, divide into 8 pieces, roll into balls and let rest 20 minutes. Flatten in to disks on floured surface. Spray baking stone with a mist of water, place disks on surface without touching. Bake about 3 minutes (until they puff into balloons). Wait 30 seconds and remove straight to cooling rack.
*I intended to give you some pictures of the process, but we had a choking incident with the little one (I think maybe a chunk of dried play doh?) so you only get a before and after shot. Sorry!*