Where it all started....

Well, it started many years ago at a company called RPS. The company name changed and so did mine in 2001. From there, the road led us to the ATL and our own business. I left the road to have babies, but it sure is hard to take the trucker out of a Momma!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Natural vs. Store Bought

I have been going along with the husband and his challenge.  We cheated 2 times last week and twice in one day, today.  Work life made cheating on Monday a given with providing dinner from Chick-fil-A for our drivers.  Friday was the girl's birthday and lunch with friends was fitting.  Today, we lunched with friends again and went out for a nice dinner as a family.  On the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe's for some groceries.  While I was putting them away, I had a moment of "AWE"!  Since starting his challenge, I have been baking our own bread.  I saved a couple of buns that were left in the bread drawer when we returned home from vacation.  Today, the tiny end of a loaf of homemade French bread was green!  It was about a week old.

On the left are the almost 2 mo. old rolls.  On the right, my homemade bread.

A close up:

So, what is in my bread?  Organic flour (a mix of white whole wheat and whole wheat), yeast, salt, water, olive oil and semolina flour (a dusting on the bottom to keep it from sticking while baking).  

Here is the ingredient list on the store bread:

Enriched, dough conditioners that are a lot of glycerides, monocalcium phosphate, datem......What the hell is all that stuff?!?  My husband is convinced it is what gives little girls boobs at 10 yrs old and is one of the reasons he wanted to change some things in our life.  Well, here is where I call in Google and Wikipedia!

  DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides) is an emulsifier primarily used in baking. It is used to strengthen the dough by building a strong gluten network.

Calcium dihydrogen phosphate is also used in the food industry as a leavening agent to cause baked goods to rise. Because it is acidic, when combined with an alkali ingredient, commonly sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or potassium bicarbonate, it reacts to produce carbon dioxide and asalt. Outward pressure of the carbon dioxide gas causes the rising effect. When combined in a ready-made baking powder, the acid and alkali ingredients are included in the right proportions such that they will exactly neutralize each other and not significantly affect the overall pH of the product.  **Note, if you look this up, it is also used as a fertilizer.  Great!

monoglyceride, more correctly known as a monoacylglycerol, is a glyceride consisting of one fatty acid chain covalently bonded to a glycerol moleculethrough an ester linkage.[1]
Monoacylglycerol can be broadly divided into two groups; 1-monoacylglycerols and 2-monoacylglycerols, depending on the position of the ester bond on the glycerol moiety.
Monoacylglycerols can be formed by both industrial chemical and biological processes. They are formed biochemically via release of a fatty acid fromdiacylglycerol by diacylglycerol lipase. Monoacylglycerols are broken down by monoacylglycerol lipase.
Mono- and diglycerides are commonly added to commercial food products in small quantities. They act as emulsifiers, helping to mix ingredients such as oil and water that would not otherwise blend well.[2]
The commercial source may be either animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable, and they may be synthetically made as well. They are often found in bakery products, beveragesice creamchewing gumshorteningwhipped toppingsmargarine, and confections.[citation needed] When used in bakery products, monoglycerides improve loaf volume, and create a smooth, soft crumb.

I guess my moment of awe and realization that my time invested in the kitchen might be worth something will make me continue on the path of better eating.  We will still enjoy special treats from time to time, but try to stick with good old homemade as much as possible!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some words of advice for job seekers....

It is a tough market out there! If you are looking for a job and are going to apply or send resumes through ads placed on a site such as craigslist, do yourself a favor and read the following:

-Make sure your name on your email account or even the email address itself has a little class!!  I automatically hit the trash button when I read things like:

Kaveman Love
The Vic Man

-Sending one piss poor email is enough, but to send that thing 5 times is just going to make me need more wine!

-If you stay someplace, I could care less!!  If you live somewhere, I see a little more stability in your life.

-Grammar is a pet peeve of mine and a lot of other employers.  Proof read your shit before you send it!  No,  you are not coming to work for a publishing house as an editor, but at least act like you care!!!

-If you include a phone number, make sure it is correct, that maybe your voicemail is actually activated, and that your mailbox is not full.  I won't call back!

-If it is obvious you are replying for EVERY ad placed, I hit delete!  Read the ad before you reply!

-If the ad says, "Available to start immediately." and you are called and cannot interview until next month and cannot start until the end of the semester, you have just wasted my time and I HATE having my time wasted!

-If your resume includes a category of Braggin Rights.....DELETE that section, because I just deleted your reply!

-If a job lists an area of a metropolitan city and you live no where within a 40 mile radius, why apply?  Are you really going to make it to work on time daily?

OK....I am going to go back to reviewing my emails and hitting the trash button!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Challenge and the Journey

So, on our return from vacation, my husband challenged me to cook with just straight natural in the rawest form ingredients.  (OK....he really said he didn't think I could) .  I love to cook and think I am pretty good at it, but to say I couldn't do something in the kitchen....GASP!!  Well, if you know me, I do not take challenges lightly!  Told him I would give it a go and we would take it further than that and give up all the yuckies (i.e. fast food, Mama Rita night at the Amigos, and processed foods).  

So, that was several weeks ago and we are adjusting.  I am so glad I have my new kitchen, because there is a lot involved in not buying from the middle of the store!  It has been great, though, because the kids are really into helping with the cooking now.  As for other parts of the challenge, we have not stopped at our favorite chicken place for breakfast or lunch since well before the last week in July.  We have only cheated once and bought lunchables for the kids.  (They love those things and it is so easy to rip that bad boy open and there is lunch without any Mommy work.)

What is a dinner these days around here with no yuckies?  It really isn't bad!!  Here is a sample:

Tonight's dinner was  homemade pierogi, piroghi or pierogie (depending on where you are from and how Polish your heritage is).  Some people have probably never heard of or enjoyed a pierogi before, but being a Pittsburgh, PA native.....I LOVE them!  There was a restaurant down the road from my old work facility in McKees Rocks that only served pierogies!!!  Yep, we ordered from Pierogies Plus weekly back in the day!! http://pierogiesplus.com/

I didn't just make regular pierogies tonight though!  Instead, I included my obsession in there and made Potato, Cabot cheddar, bacon and onion pierogies!!  They were awesome (if I can say that about my own cooking)!!

 Here is everything prepped (minus the dough which was chilling the the fridge).  Red potatoes on to boil, onion cooking with a tiny bit of olive oil, bacon cooked and crumbled, and cheese grated.  

Everything was mashed by hand to make this:

 This is where I get the kids involved!  They both took turns rolling out the dough, which was made from whole wheat flour, an egg from our own chickens, organic butter and organic sour cream.

Then, their job was to cut out the circles.  I used the sandwich sealer I got from Pampered Chef several years ago.  It worked perfectly!

I stuffed them and then they sealed them with the sandwich sealer.  Here they are ready to be cooked!
The final product with a little sour cream and a nice tomato salad!