Saturday, September 10, 2011

Forks Over Knives

To be vegan or not to be? That is the question of the day.

'Forks Over Knives' is another good movie to watch if your concerned about your health. The documentary makes a lot of sense about the amount of meat products we eat in the United States. Over the last 70 years as meat consumption in the United states has risen so has an alarming increase of obesity, cancer and heart disease. At 47, I am relatively healthy but by medical standards I am morbidly obese. I have worked on changing my diet over the last few years and have eliminated a lot of bad habits including reducing my intake of sugar and adding exercise to my life. In the past few years I have managed to rid myself of a little over 25 pounds. It has taken me years to get this way it will take me years to get it off. I don't trust fast weight lose as it tends to come back plus some. I know this from years of yoyo dieting.

Happily, my sugar levels have become stable but I am still fighting high cholesterol. I have increased my intake of fruits and vegetables but my love of animal products in all forms is undeniable. Beef and chicken are staples in my kitchen and there is nothing better in this world then my husbands grilled beef fillet. Add a baked potato and slather it with butter and sour cream with a side salad covered in a sour cream based dressing. An awesome meal or an epic failure in a nutritious diet?

I will be adding more fruits and veggies to my daily routine and continue to reduce my intake of meat and dairy. I will never be a vegan or a vegetarian but I see organic soy milk in my future over my cheerios and more vinaigrette dressings on my salads.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Scuppernong Grapes - Jelly Adventures

Scuppernong Grapes, originally uploaded by kathleenpate.

As a child, I remember the huge grape arbor that grew in our back yard when I was about 8 years old. When the grapes were in season we plucked the sweet fruit from the branches and ate them as we played cowboys and Indians and chased each other around the back yard shooting each other with our imaginary bow and arrows using the grape arbor as forts and teepees with never a second thought of what they were. The grapes were good and thats all we cared about. This wonderful little fruit with its tough outer hull was a sweet treat on a hot north Florida afternoon.

This is the first year in our new home and I noticed almost too late that the grapes were ripe and ready to harvest. The grapes grow under the canopy of leaves and if I hadn't looked I never would have known they were there. I was able to harvest a gallon bag of ripe fruit before the birds made off with the rest. And then it took forever to decide what to do with them. I finally decided to make jam. Only it was after I had juiced the grapes did I realize I needed the pulp of the fruit to make jam. Thought to remember....find recipe then process fruit. I had to regroup and settled on the only other option and made jelly. Jam will have to wait until next year.

I was able to juice a little under 5 cups of juice which will make approximately 4 pints of jelly. I poured the grape juice into a large pan and heated it up to boiling and added one package of low sugar pectin and approx ¼ cup of sugar and stirred until the pectin was all blended about 5 minutes then added the rest of 4 cups of sugar and almost ½ cup of orange blossom honey. Stirring constantly I brought this to a hard boil then let it cool down being careful to keep stirring until the mixture was no longer boiling.

Somehow during all this I managed to prepare my jars. I used 8 - ½ pint jars and had them clean and sterilized and ready for jelly by the time the grape mixture was ready. I carefully filled up the jars leaving ¼ inch of room from the top of the jar. I made sure the lips of the jars were clean before I put the lids on to ensure a tight seal. I filled all the jars and then processed the jelly by boiling the jars for 5 minutes.

I carefully removed the jars and set them aside to cool. Allow the jar to set for at least 24 hours.

OMG!!! This is the best stuff. There is nothing like homemade jelly.

Approximate cost of each 1/2 pint - $1.59