Last night, our family visited with a new group of friends for a potluck.  We met with the goal in mind of learning together and encouraging each other to live more sustainable, healthy lifestyles. We talked about composting, chickens, healthy recipes, and other topics.  The goal is to meet monthly, and focus more in depth on topics of interest.

When we got home, and were talking over the evening, we realized how thankful we are that we are learning to go “back to the basics” in so many areas of our life.  Cooking is one area.  
Lately, it has felt so freeing to learn how to make more things from scratch.  Before we got married, for example, I bought bottles of marinade, plastic cups of yogurt, etc.  Besides eliminating the waste factor of the packaging, it’s also so nice to not have to depend on manufactured, packaged goods from stores to feed my family.  
Even if I was buying “healthy” packaged products, our goal is to learn how to live without major dependence on frequent trips to stores.  (Most of our staple items are available through monthly delivery from our co-op, and fresh produce and milk is available at local farms or Farmer’s Markets, along with what we grow ourselves.)  
I remember as a teenager, living in Alaska, often we would not be able to go to stores because of being snowed in or icy roads.  Also, deliveries to the local store would sometimes be delayed for weeks, due to avalanches, or a union strike from the company’s distribution workers/drivers in the “Lower 48.”  
Here is a steak marinade recipe that I made up yesterday.  We enjoyed it for lunch today, along with a side of potato salad and watermelon!  After they finished grilling, we still had some leftover veggies (red pepper and small onions), so we skewered them, too.  We brushed them with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Yum!  (They are on the lower half of the picture.)  

Marinated Steak & Fire-Roasted Pepper Kabobs
1/3 cup Bragg’s Amino Acids (or soy sauce)
1 Tbl Dijon Mustard
1 Tbl Honey
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 lb Beef Steak, thinly sliced into strips (I use local, free-range, pasture-fed)
1/2 -1 whole Red Bell Pepper (or assorted other veggies!), cut into large “cubes” 
Mix together the Bragg’s, mustard, honey, olive oil, and black pepper.  Add steak strips, and marinate in the mixture for several hours (or overnight).  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least half an hour before using.  Then, thread the steak strips onto the skewers “accordion-style,” alternating with pieces of pepper (and other veggies, if desired).  Grill them on the BBQ for about 15 minutes, turning half-way through, until the peppers are slightly blackened on the edges, and the meat is done to your liking.  Before turning them over, you can brush more marinade on the kabobs, if desired.  
Visit Laura’s blog at Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday posts!  (By the way, the fuzzy arm in the picture is Calvin’s, not mine! :)  He mans the grill quite expertly.  I just stay in the kitchen.)  
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