Change is Coming!

Hello friends,

As some of you know, I’ve been dabbling in blogging for a long time. It was my husband who encouraged me to pursue a food blog due to my love of recipe collecting, food, photography, and writing. While I’m not an expert on any of those topics (except eating, I’m really good at that), I have enjoyed my blogging adventures very much.

However, something always felt a little off. I started the blog with the intent of showcasing my favorite recipes and sharing the stories behind them. Over time, I drifted away from that and in an effort to increase the quantity of posts, I’ve let the quality slide. While I have shared some favorites on here, I’ve always shared a lot of experimental recipes that I’ve never made again. And we won’t even talk about some of the bad photographs.

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing a live demonstration by Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman. One of the things that she said regarding her blog was that you should always be yourself and let the rest come naturally.

So who am I? That question lingered on my mind for some time. What type of food did I want to showcase exactly? I try to eat healthy most of them time, but I sure don’t ever want to lose my mom’s pie recipes. The food I grew up with definitely had southern influence but I hate grits. And Kentucky really isn’t the south (sorry peeps, it just isn’t!) After much soul searching, the answer finally hit me. It was time to get back to my roots. And my roots are firmly in the mountains of Appalachia.

So what does that mean? It means soup beans and corn bread. It means pie with homemade fillings. It means recipes from church cook books or swapped from co-workers. It means fresh garden vegetables. Canning and pickling. Recipes off the back of the cereal box. That’s who I am.

In that extra ten minutes I have each night after my toddler goes to bed (I’m exaggerating, sometimes it’s more like 3 minutes), I’ve been researching both Appalachian food and blog development. The upcoming product will launch soon at www.mindascooking.com. This blog will stay active for a while and some of the recipes will migrate over to the new site, some with new photographs. I’ll likely still drift off the food topic occasionally to talk about books or Christmas planning or flower beds or who knows what.

I’m still amazed at times at the visits that this blog receives and I appreciate everyone who has given it a click over the years. As of the writing of this post, I’ve had 26,000 visitors. That is amazing to me. You’ve given me the courage to take a leap forward into more serious blogging, and I appreciate you. I’m excited for what the future holds. Stay tuned!

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Taking Control of Christmas

 It’s the first day of December and the countdown to Christmas is ON! As much as many of us love the holiday season, it can be a little stressful. Gifts to buy, presents to wrap, decorations to put up, covered dishes to bake…the list goes on and on. Over the years, I’ve seen several cute “how to” guides for putting together Christmas planners or journals. But who has time for that? I still haven’t finished the yarn wreath that I started last year!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon The FlyLady’s Holiday Control Journal. If you aren’t familiar with Fly Lady, she’s an online helpmate of sorts to assist you with cleaning and maintaining your home. I’ve followed her off and on for years. One of her guiding principles is to do everything in 15 minute increments. Her arguement is that you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes per day. All of her holiday help can be found here; just click on the Control Journal link for the free PDF of the journal.

I decided to give her Holiday Journal a try. I bought a 49 cent folder to put my journal in along with an envelope for receipts, an envelope of store coupons (excluding grocery), and a photocopy of the month of December from my planner.

Will it help me actually take control of Christmas? Stay tuned gentle readers…I’ll be updating you weekly!

From the Bookshelf: What I’ve Been Reading

I’ve been an avid lover of books all my life. During certain seasons of life, I didn’t read as much as I wanted. Then there have been phases of reading one book after another in rapid succession. The past couple of years, I have read pretty heavily. I like the site/app Good Reads-sort of a Facebook for book lovers-and it’s helped me develop a reading list and discover new reads. Last year, I set up a Good Reads Challenge to read 25 books. I came in right on the money, finishing up #25 right around New Year’s Eve. This year, I set my challenge to 30 and I’m a little behind. I started the year well but got sidetracked with a bum book that kind of temporarily soured me.
Anyway, I’m back in the reading chair and thought I’d share what’s been on my nightstand lately.

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand. This was a pretty popular book on many “Summer Reads” or “Beach Reads” list this year. I picked it up on the last official day of summer and decided it would be my last hurrah to the season. The book was set in Nantucket and while no one was on vacation, there was a constant theme of beach, summer, tourists, and lobster lurking in the background. There’s an illicit affair, some illegal activity, a frustrated writer, and teenage angst going on with the story told from different perspectives. The most interesting perspective is that of “The Town” which gives the reader the lowdown on how of all of the events are being repeated around town and gives credence to the old saying “That’s how rumors get started.” I ended up enjoying this much more than I thought I would, and was anxious to see how it would all end.

Next, I picked up Last One Home by Debbie Macomber. Macomber is the Queen of the Hallmark Channel with many of her books being made into movies or series. I just stumbled upon this one and picked it up because I wanted something sort of light. Our campus was under a terror threat and the whole country had just felt the pain of another school shooting so who else can you turn to except the woman who created Mrs. Miracle? This is the story of three sisters that have been estranged since the middle one left home at eighteen to marry her no good boyfriend. Her struggle back into the family, and back into a real life for her and her daughter after years of abuse is the primary focus of the book. It was just okay for me, but it was pretty much what I asked for when I checked it out of the library so I won’t complain.

Then, I started The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This had been on my reading list for a long time, and a fair number of my Good Reads friends had read and enjoyed it. It’s a psychological thriller that was compared pretty heavily to Gone Girl-a thriller from a few years back that was made into a popular movie. (A movie of The Girl on the Train is in production now.) The central character is Rachel, the girl on the train, who rides into London each day. During her ride, she catches glimpses of a young woman that she names “Jess” for whom she creates a life and personality. When Jess who’s really named Meagan goes missing, Rachael becomes a key player in unraveling what happened. I didn’t love the book but I didn’t hate it either. I didn’t feel like it lived up to the hype surrounding it.

Currently, I’m reading two books. I rarely attempt two at a time. However, when I picked up Last One Home, I also picked up Anne Lamott’s Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. It was on my list because I know several people who simply love Lamott. I’ve had a hard time in the past really getting into her writing but I thought I’d give it another go. It’s a collection of essays so I usually read an essay or two per day which is slow going but I’m enjoying it. Lamott is a Christian who loves Jesus, hates George W. Bush, and uses the F word liberally. She’s also a recovering alcoholic. She’s not your traditional Christian writer but I’ve enjoyed her essays and found many great passages worth remembering. I especially enjoyed her essay on visiting prisoners in San Quentin. I’m still going with it, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Several years ago, I signed up for a Popular Authors Book list at my local public library. I selected a handful of authors that I liked at the time, and upon the release of any new books by them, the library automatically reserves a copy for me. For the most part, I’ve lost interest in recent years of most of those authors and I generally decline the book. However, when I received the call about Nicholas Sparks’ See Me I decided to go with it. I used to love his books but haven’t read one in years. But since I was in the closing pages of The Girl on the Train, I thought why not give it a try? So, I’m about halfway through and it’s going okay. It’s a fairly long book so I hope it holds my interest.

Have you read anything good lately?

*Note: Links above are Amazon Affiliate links

Lord Willin’, I’m a Goin’ to the Food Show

Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise…

That’s a popular expression here in Appalachia. It basically means “Barring any catastrophe, I’m planning to…” but more specifically it means, “If it’s God’s will then I’m going to..”

My upcoming plan is to finally make it to the Incredible Food Show in nearby Lexington, Ky this weekend. I’ve been trying to go for years. Usually, the food show falls on Eastern Kentucky University’s Homecoming which I try to never miss. Last year, I was in labor on Homecoming so I didn’t make either event. This year though, the stars have lined up and I have tickets in hand to attend.

The food show is basically an expo where over a hundred local food producers will sell their products and allow foodies like me to sample their wares. There’s also demonstrations and information sessions going on all day, a bookstore section with cookbooks and the headline grabbing event-a demonstration by a celebrity chef. This year’s celebrity is The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.

I’m not a huge Ree follower but I do like her show and I have a bunch of her recipes on my “To Try” list. I’m anxious to see her live demonstration. I’m also excited to try a bunch of yummy food and bring some home…maybe even do some Christmas shopping while I’m there.

The weather prediction is bleak, there’s an 80% chance of rain. Hopefully, it won’t make travel too much of a headache.
I told my husband that there’s a good chance, I will spend too much money this weekend. His response: “It took you 5 years to get there, it may be 5 years before you get back, go live it up!”

He’s a good one.

If you follow me on Twitter, I plan to try to do some live Tweeting from the show. If you don’t follow me, join up! You can find me @MindaCompton

To CSA or Not to CSA…

The concept of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was relatively unknown to me until the last couple of years. And even then, it seemed like something unlikely to be available in our area. Imagine my surprise when I found out there are actually a couple of CSA farms that deliver in my town-one even delivers to my workplace. I was intrigued! So, when our wellness program at work hosted a “Meet the Farmers” type lunch to allow two local CSA farmers to explain their businesses, I quickly signed up. Plus, you got free lunch. Can’t beat that.

Simply put, a CSA works like this. You, the customer, pay the farmer a fee upfront for a portion of his or her crops for the year. They deliver the food in a weekly box. You eat it. Everyone wins. Still, the farmers were both quick to point out, a CSA is not for everyone. As I mulled it over, here were some factors that influenced my decision making:

Pros:
-It’s just a good thing all the way around. You’re helping a local farmer by buying his/her products and funding him/her upfront to help with farm expenses. You’re getting freshly picked produce that’s organically grown (at least both of the farms who presented are USDA Organic Certified), and that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles to get to you.
-It’s a chance to try new things. I’m guilty of not being too adventuresome when it comes to vegetables. With a CSA box, you can break out of your comfort zone and try new foods. Kohlrabi anyone?
-My baby boy is just starting to eat solid foods and I make his baby food myself using organic produce. How convinient it would be to have that food delivered to me and to be able to experiment with new foods with him.

Cons:
-It ain’t cheap. You’re looking at a couple of hundred bucks up front to participate. Of course, the CSA season is long: 16 to 22 weeks depending on your farmer. Spread out over the season, the price isn’t that bad. But it still can be a little off putting.
-The pressure is on to cook. The farmers were very clear: If you do not like to cook or do not have time to cook, this is not for you. The veggies keep coming whether you use them or not.
-You are at the mercy of the season and Mother Nature. You don’t pick what comes in your box. You take what they give you depending on what’s available.

After thinking it over and talking it through with my husband, I decided to join up. I’m pretty excited about it to be honest. I look at it as an adventure, a challenge to try new recipes and eat healthier. I also feel like it’s a good thing to do for my little boy. I admit that I’m a little worried that I’ll get over run with cucumbers or that more will end up in my compost bin than my belly. But I want to at least try.

The first box will arrive in May. I’ll be posting my veggie tales here: both good and bad. I’m already pinning recipes to my CSA board on Pinterest.

Have you ever participated in a CSA? Any suggestions?

And he’s here!

I try to keep this blog about food and recipes but since I announced my pregnancy earlier in the summer, I felt compelled to announce that….

Cason Scott made his appearance in this great big world on October 19 at 6:58 pm with a weight of 7lb 2oz and a length of 19.75 inches. He was three weeks early. Since I’m a bit of a weirdo, I’m not posting his picture here. But trust me, he’s gorgeous. And if you don’t believe me, you can ask either set of grandparents. Or his proud daddy.

His arrival was not without some humor. On Friday, October 18, I met two of my girlfriends for dinner at Panera. They wanted to have “one last dinner” before I got too pregnant to get out or too busy with a baby to get out. The last thing that one of my friends said was “Call us when your water breaks..or however that works.”

About thirty minutes later, I was loading groceries into my car at Meijer when my water broke. I wasn’t really sure what was happening to be honest. I thought perhaps my bladder was just a little wonky. I went on home, put away the perishables and referred to my What to Expect book. After a few minutes, it was evident that this was more than a leaky bladder. I called the hospital and they said they’d be waiting. I was admitted and labor was confirmed.

I was shocked. I was not expecting him to be 3 weeks early. My husband began calling our families and they began driving in from various points of eastern Kentucky. After trying to get him moving all night and all of the next day, a sonogram on Saturday evening revealed that he was breech. A C-Section was ordered.

And so at 6:58 pm, the most beautiful face that I’ll ever see was flashed in front of me. The C-Section experience is weird because you’re fully awake but not really able to participate. I couldn’t even hold the baby immediately. They whisked him and my husband to the nursery where our families were waiting, and I was moved to recovery where I spent a loopy couple of hours trying to come out of the spell of the epidural.

Finally, at around 10:15pm they brought him to my room for a little while. I was still under the influence of the meds and couldn’t really move so they didn’t let him stay long. My husband texted me a picture that he took in the nursery so when I would wake up in the night, I’d look at his sweet face on my phone.

We both did really well and were released on Monday. I was fortunate to have my mom and mother-in-law to help the first week. He’s a good baby and has made being a new mom fairly easy.

So, that’s where I am. Oh yes, I’m also collecting lots of recipes. In fact, I’m working on a post that I started pre-labor. I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen!

Where I Explain Myself….

It’s occurred to me over the past few months that I really needed to update this blog and let those few folks out there who were reading know that I’m still alive. And why I’ve been so quiet.

During mid-March, I was super pumped about blogging. I had several new recipes in my queue to post. Then, I got sick one morning. And the next morning. And the next. Until finally, I realized that perhaps there was a GOOD reason for this. Sure enough, a home test confirmed that a new little chef was on the way! And on April Fool’s Day, an official confirmation was made by my doctor.

Since then, I have not cooked much. To be honest, even pictures of food made me queasy. I haven’t even opened my Everyday with Rachael Ray magazines for several months. For many weeks, I existed on bagels, cereal and cups of Easy Mac. I’m eating fine now but I have still been a little lazy in the kitchen. But don’t give up on me! The nesting instincts have kicked in and I should be back in front of the stove soon.

Thanks for understanding,

Minda

PS. It’s a boy!