The House Farm Bill passed. Now let’s look at the Senate bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill passes the House last Thursday by a very narrow margin. 213 yeas to 211 nays. If you’re interested in seeing if your rep was on the yea or nay side of this, go here: Final Vote on HR2, June 21,2018

This bill cut $19 billion from SNAP which equates to serving around 2 million low income, food insecure people. It imposes stricter work requirements that can’t be opted out by states.  Instead of giving working families a little relief when they finally get their heads above water, it imposes a strict benefits cliff that cuts off benefits to those who’s income rises even slightly above the income eligibility limit. People formerly incarcerated for certain crimes are banned for life from receiving SNAP.  It also adds a ton of paperwork and reporting that will not only be expensive for states to implement but just complicates the application process. There are already under served low income folks not applying for SNAP because of the process and a lot of caseworkers are less able to act like social workers because of the amount of clerical business involved.

The Senate has introduced it’s own version of the Farm Bill  that avoids all the mean stuff and instead expands the programs they know help and introducing pilot programs to improve healthy food access. It makes things easier for disabled and elderly people allowing them to certify for 3 year periods and tweaks the EBT system so it’s more reliable.

In short, this is a bill that recognizes that SNAP works and strengthens it instead of hurting low income families. This bill will probably be voted on this week so call your Senators and tell them to vote YES on the Farm Bill.  There is a form letter here you can submit or call direct using 888-398-8702 or their office number.

As always, if you’re someone who hates making calls & deals with some anxiety over it, it’s helpful to write yourself a little script of what your going to say. This is a great tip sheet for phone calling with anxiety: How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxieties

[today’s post brought to you by my delicious dinner of chicken stir fry that SNAP helped to purchase the ingredients for]

#HandsOffSnap

 


The House votes Friday on the current Farm Bill. This version cut or reduce food assistance for an estimated 2 million recipients. This bill imposes stricter work requirements and will highly impact single parents, older folks, and people with disabilities.
Take a few minutes to call your congressperson and ask them to vote NO on HR2 and cuts to SNAP. The Capital switchboard is 202-224-3121 or you can call your reps local office.

I’m including some helpful articles here if you need to familiarize yourself with the issues and talking points. As always, if you’re someone who hates making calls & deals with some anxiety over it, it’s helpful to write yourself a little script of what your going to say. This is a great tip sheet for phone calling with anxiety: How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxieties

What the hell is the Farm Bill anyway?

For Farmers on SNAP, the Farm Bill Will Hurt in More Ways Than One

Congress should leave the food stamps program alone

“It’s weird growing food and being hungry at the same time”

2018 Farm Bill imposes a lifetime ban from SNAP for people convicted of certain offenses w/ no option for states to opt out

Farm Bill seeks to restrict food stamp benefits while allowing subsidies for billionaires

 

UPDATE: This bill passed. To learn about the Senate bill, go here

Meal planning for this week

I’m trying to make sure we have rent by the end of the week so I was crossing my fingers to be able to do decent meal planning with what the food pantry offered yesterday. No such luck,honestly. Two cabbages and a bag of carrots were the only produce they had. I came away with lots of canned fruit, as much bread as I could take, ground turkey, hot dogs,turkey burger, rice, and some stale “spicy cheese flavored” taco shells. I’m sure I’ll manage some hellacious acts of pantry anarchy with some of it but it’s still disappointing. I think rent will be a little late. We need some grocery basics and gas for the car.
Yeah, that plan of mine to keep money in savings for groceries has not gone well.

On a more uplifting note, there’s a cute little garden happening behind the community center the food pantry is held at. I see rhubarb, oregano, some other herbs.
I have no idea who manages this garden or what it’s used for. My understanding is that once upon a time there was a large garden that served the food pantry but it was at someone’s house and that person has since sold the house and moved out of the area. If I felt like we had any secure permanency in this house, I’d organize a replacement garden on the acres here.

 

 


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the diabetes situation

I lay in bed this morning listening to my husband get ready for work. I heard him take a pill bottle down from the top of the fridge, open the cap. The pills skitter down the plastic amber cylinder.  He pops the top back on, replaces the bottle to it’s home. The process repeats three more times. Then a few seconds later I hear the beep of his glucose meter reading off his morning number. He walks in to where I’m sleep-waking, leans down and whispers, “190”.  Not surprising after goulash dinner the night before but not as bad as it has been some days.

He came home from another diabetic counseling session about two weeks ago. He hands me various papers that he was specifically told to give to his wife when he gets home, like he’s a child who needs to hand over papers to Mommy when he gets home from school. Would they do that to me if I was the diabetic? Take these home to your husband. Highly unlikely.
“No more pasta at all”, he says. He says other things about food that I couldn’t even hear right then. I flipped out and threw the papers everywhere, yelling, “Are they going to pay our grocery bill now so that can happen?” If  only I could swipe our insurance card at the register.

Later I picked all the papers up and tossed them into the woodstove, feeding them to the fire. I know what they all say anyway. Knowing what they say and making it happen on the Cheap Carb Grocery Budget are two incompatible things that aren’t going to get married anytime soon.

 

 

 

Image result for diabetes funny

two weeks worth of things

IMG_0232
Marceline loves the wood pile

post-snowpocalypse

We survived Stella. Yesterday morning our snow total was 25 inches but it snowed the entire day so I don’t know what we ended up with. IMG_1238School was closed for two days with a two hour delay today.
My 11 year old has been sick the entire week with a horrible cough & cold, including during the Snow Days. Between the Snow Days & a sick kiddo, I’ve gotten zero work done this week and now I think the kiddo has generously shared his germs with me and I’m coming down with it.

The snow storm was also an economical bummer for my daughter who is home from college this week on break. She had lined up a babysitting job while she was home and ended up never working because  of the weather. She’s moving into a shared house off campus so she was looking forward to having the extra cash.

 

food stuff

A woman hit a deer in front of our house. Law enforcement let us keep it and salvage what we could. There wasn’t a lot that could be rescued but we have at least the front quarters in our freezer now.

I had to take a turkey out of the freezer to make room for the venison, so we had a nice turkey dinner and subsequent leftovers this week.

Last week, my husbeast picked up a roast beef , which I cooked at the beginning of the week  in the crockpot and stretched into several meals throughout. I’ve probably mentioned before that meat is not my favorite and I could do without but this worked out well without me feeling like I never want to eat beef again. The key for me is definitely to put it in  dishes without making it the dominant thing.

The last food pantry also had a lot to offer, including the biggest cabbage I’ve ever seen.  I’m aiming to get at least 4 meals out of it. Will update.

I had one day last week where I was feeling under the weather. The husbeast picked up soup for me at a local restaurant – sweet potato curry. He was sure I would love it because it certainly sounds like something I would like but alas, it was not my favorite. It had great flavor but it was just too much as a soup. The next day I threw it in the crockpot with chicken we had gotten from the food pantry and it was sooo good.

I found this pic of the soup and raw chicken on my ipod .IMG_0225 I’m pretty sure I had intended to show the after pic of the cooked chicken over rice. ADHD fail right there.

I have several soups in the freezer that we have gotten from the food pantry over the past few months that we didn’t like. There’s one tomato soup that was like eating chunky pasta sauce. I’ll do a re-do with that.

On a splurgy note, last week was my birthday. We went out to dinner, just the man and me. Que milagro. We went to a pricey local joint but you know, even when I’m basking in the glow of Taxmas, I can’t let myself not be thrifty. We went on a night that they have a special 3 course meal that’s basically the cost of one entree usually. Appetizer,entree,dessert. The food was divine, as was the quiet,uninterrupted dinner.

taxmas expenditures

Things we spent money on during the past 2 weeks:

  • fixing the car – $1500
  • rental while car was in the shop- $260 (uhaul pick-up)
  • spayed one cat, neutered another. Plus vaccinations.-$380
  • firewood-$150

I still need new glasses & I’d like to get started on some of my dental work.

this week’s simple pleasure

Library books. Always central in my life but this week especially, a pile of books was a source of great comfort ,both for intellectual and entertainment value.

 


song of the day: “Bambi” by Jidenna
I loved this song since the 1st time I heard it a bit ago and this week I’ve found myself humming it to myself.

 

Let’s talk about Mexican produce

mexico1

Yesterday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that one of the options being considered to pay for the border wall is a 20% tax on Mexican imported goods. Later various White House people scaled back on that saying it would be more like 5% or emphasizing “it’s just one of the options” .

I don’t think this option will be popular with Congress and it won’t be an option they’ll go with but it’s worth talking about anyway.

Americans, especially those who support Trump, should be offended by this proposal. This administration is essentially asking Americans to pay for the wall not once but twice. Taxpayer money pays for the building of the wall. Those funds are “reimbursed” through this tax, paid for by American consumers. Either Trump is truly an idiot or he believes Americans are idiots. He’s counting on his sales schmooze to put this through.

People responded on social media to this proposal by freaking about about their avocados and tequila. The impact would be so much bigger than avocados and tequila. Mexico is the biggest importer of fresh produce to the U.S. Tomatoes,melons,lettuce,peppers,pineapple,coconut, sugar,cukes,grapes, COCOA. 70% of vegetables and 40% of fruit imports come from Mexico.  This tax obviously will increase the cost of produce at a time when accessibility to produce for low income people, especially in food deserts, is already a crucial issue in food justice.

And let’s not forget Mexican Coke.

With Trump’s new immigration policies and wall building, we will already see the price of produce increase anyway, 20% tax or not. The workers who grow our food domestically are from Mexico and other countries, usually paid less than American workers. The price of food will reflect the loss of underpaid labor .( As always, I advocate for migrant food workers to be paid fairly and our food system is reliant on these workers. I’m just stating that the system as it is currently will bring this about).

The hypothetical boycotts that could take place could be interesting. If those who don’t want the wall and buycott Mexican produce, they’ll have to be satisfied with limited produce options in winter or grow and preserve their own food. Or actively participate in the growth of these industries domestically. I already have seen some on the conservative side want to buycott Mexican goods anyway just on the premise alone that “Mexico is bad” per Trump’s commentary.  Both ways, the Mexican economy suffers and that wall isn’t getting paid for by anyone but American taxpayers.


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This week at the food pantry

Mood: frustrated yet still grateful and motivated to commit creative acts of pantry anarchy.

The highlight of this week’s visit to the food pantry was definitely the 14 lb turkey. I should be able to make that stretch a bit after the holidays.
Other than that, it was weirdly unholiday like. No typical holiday dinner trimmings, although we did bring home an apple pie. Our food pantry doesn’t do cookie or baked goods usually and if they do, they don’t have enough for everyone so you roll a die when you come in and if you roll whatever number they pick that day, you get to choose one thing. The last time we rolled and won was on husbeast’s birthday last January and yay, they had a whole cake!

There was also just pears and carrots for produce. Oh, and a melon! My boys enjoyed that.
I have my vegetarian daughter home from college for the holidays so I was disappointed but we’ll figure it out.
pears

I think I might make a spiced pear and carrot cake for our Yule dessert tonight.

The food pantry was also really slim on other protein picks this week , I’m guessing because they had whole turkeys. We brought home some ground turkey,too (had last night as meatballs with penne) and canned beans. No dry beans,even. We did get shredded cheese, which they never have, and a thing of cottage cheese. Lots of canned fruit and pasta,though.

Anyway, please don’t listen to the GOP when they say that people who have their food stamps cut will be fine because food pantries will take care of hungry people. That isn’t going to work. The end.

 

 

 

 

easiest homemade tomato soup ever

I am finally done dealing with this years tomato crop. I brought the last of the red-ripe ones in the other day and then happened to catch an episode of The Chew where Daphne Oz made Creamy Tomato Soup and since the few I brought in weren’t enough to bother processing to can or freeze, I figured I might as well make them into soup.

The variety of large tomatoes I grew this summer were Rutgers, an heirloom tomato developed by, as the name suggests, Rutgers University in the 1930s. The variety became THE favorite for the canning industry and Campbell’s preferred it for their tomato soup.

And now I totally get why. They made superb soup. This variety is a keeper. High yield, disease resistant, good for eating straight up and for cooking. Thumbs up, Lyman Schermerhorn.

My house is a cave not meant for food photography. Those bit in the soup are wedges of cheesy, heavily toasted bread (oversized croutons).
img_0710

Here’s the recipe via The Chew ….sort of? On that episode, Daphne used fresh tomatoes. And I don’t think she peeled them. I know I didn’t.  My “pantry anarchy” take on it was to sub half and half for heavy cream and I used veggie stock instead of chicken. I had both onions and garlic from the food pantry and fresh thyme and basil from the garden. Also, I pureed in the regular blender (the one sent to me by one of my readers, Rose! Thanks again, Rose 🙂 )
2016-10-24

 

I’m fine,just busy

I made a deal with a friend that I will start blogging here daily. She says I can’t just write a post about having electric and internet shut off notices and then be quiet for days after. I need to at least post a thing. Anything. “Even if it’s a stupid inspirational quote or to say how much the latest season of Arrow is not going as well as you’d like!”

Ok,so the good news is – I have electricity and Internet. I was just really busy trying to get my 80,000 lbs of tomatoes canned and winterizing the house. Winter is coming. I’m not happy about it but I’m dealing.

This is typical of what I’m pulling out of the garden every day now. I can’t even tell you how many herbs I’ve been able to harvest. It’s been too much to keep track of. I’m set for herbs for the rest of the winter, both culinary and medicinal. I still transplanted some into pots to keep inside for the winter. It helps to brighten my mood during the winter just to see them and smell them. And obviously it’s just awesome to be able to cook with fresh herbs all year long.

I forgot how water intensive canning is and ending up having to freeze a lot because of our water shortage here. I officially have no more room in the freezer, especially now that there’s ¼ deer in there (Thanks, Bruce). I saw a chest freezer(working) offered on Freecycle this morning but couldn’t arrange a truck to go get it. I think we’re going to need another freezer. Husbeast will hopefully get a deer of his own soon and I still have  more coming out of the garden.

I am honestly amazed that I come across people in the comments on Facebook who claim they work a full time job plus still “grow all their own food”. Either they’re lying or they don’t eat much. I’m working at home part time and not growing anywhere near ALL our food requirements. It’s really time consuming and a lot of work, especially when you throw in family life with kids.
(Psst: I think they’re lying or at least exaggerating profusely)

But anyway…that’s the gist of what’s been happening here. I’m fine!

Other good things that happened this past week/weekend:

  • My daughter came home from college for the long weekend.
  • I scored 2 bags & a box of clothes for the 6 yr old on Freecycle. The woman offering said they were “nothing special but good condition”. They turned out to all be really nice…and they’re all fall/winter clothes. Usually this time of year, the clothes offered are summer as people clear out for fall/winter
  • I took a huge garbage bag of clothes to our food pantry’s exchange closet. It always feels good to get rid of stuff. I brought home two nice and heavy blankets.
  • we went to the Mall to get things that daughter needs at college. Stopped in at Old Navy on a whim to browse their clearance rack. Found a pair of shoes for kidlet (this kid and shoes is a whole story in itself) that was marked $8.99. Got to the register and they rang up as 97¢. They were $1.01 with tax. I can’t even find beat up second hand shoes at the thrift store for that.
  • Other college-daughter (the one who lives at home) started a new job.

The bad news on that last bullet point is that now we won’t get SNAP after this month. Grr.