Pictured below: the non-GMO corn tortillas that led me into so much more!

(here is part 1 and part 2 that started this story).

Before I  move beyond the corn tortilla recipe…  I have to add a recent discovery that has absolutely cured my ‘delicious, flavorful, but a bit stiff’ natural tortillas. I added some arrowroot powder to my masa corn mix (a natural thickener, similar to cornstarch).  I added approx. 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of the Masa Flour mix and WOW.  It improved the softness – and really created a softer tortilla.  Try it!

I have absolutely LOVED this adventure of searching for real food.  Some of my favorite documentaries on the topic are: Food, Inc., FreshFood Matters, and Dirt, the movie – as well as the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

All of this information, as well as our own experiences in healing our bodies through food – have kept me on the journey of replacing (a little at a time) anything processed, with food that is grown either in our yard, or as close to it as possible. Purchasing organic and GMO-free ingredients is important to me, not just because of the health effects, but it matters to me morally, ethically, even spiritually. (Watch the above listed documentaries if this doesn’t make sense to you – and I promise, it will).

One of the ideas behind my blog (thriftygoodlife) is to show that living a life inspired by these principles IS possible on a small income. Eating organic, whole food has required some more work and research. It’s living more like our grandparents did – spending more time in the kitchen, getting our hands dirty and knowing where our food comes from.

Looking for bulk, dried organic corn (for our GMO-free corn tortillas) proved to be more difficult than I’d expected.

I wasn’t able to get it at my local natural foods store (even the one which carries more bulk items). They didn’t stock the stuff – but with a little digging, they were able to give me the name of a supplier down in Denver who might. I figured it might be worth the hour drive to go down and get it (we could make a day of it). After talking to this natural bulk food supplier – I found out they had the organic corn I was looking for – and they already deliver up to my area once a month! The woman on the phone told me ‘Let me give you the name and number of the lady in your area who runs a local food co-op!  You’ll probably love her!’ I was thrilled to discover that there was someone in my own town who could order the organic corn – but even MORE excited when I spoke with her.

I found out – she organizes a very simple group of people (operating solely by email) who pool their money in order to buy foods direct from local farms and bulk food suppliers. She does all of the organizing – sends out price lists once a month, organizes the distribution at a local community center in town. It only cost me $25 for the year to join, and the only other requirement was to volunteer at the distribution once per quarter. Once a month, I send in my email telling her what I want to order – with no minimum order requirement.

I found out that this wonderful resource not only gives me access to bulk pricing on grains, and dried food items, but also on local meat, cheeses and even produce!

Simply taking up the challenge to search for organic dried corn ended up leading me to this food co-op – which has helped our food budget immensely! I order a different bag of beans each month (25 lb. bags of lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans) as well as things like organic coconut oil, dried fruit, spices, potatoes, onions etc.

I get my free, food-grade buckets at grocery store bakeries (they were once used for frosting).

Since I bake sourdough bread daily, I am able to get my whole grains which I grind, and my bread flour in bulk – in doing so, I save almost half the cost (and enjoy much fresher, nutritious loaves).

I am also thrilled to be getting a discounted price on local meat – which we are able to order direct from the nearby farms. Grass-fed beef, free-range pork and chicken – all of which are raised humanely and taste amazing.

Here is a great website to check out if you are interested in looking for ways to eat more local food:  www.localharvest.org

If you do some research and find out that there isn’t a local food co-op in your area, perhaps you are the person to start one! I love that through this grass-roots group of friends, I am able to direct my food dollars away from the companies that are monopolizing our food system and into the hands of local farmers who are producing food sustainably and responsibly.

Here is a recipe we love that uses some of our staple items we get through the local co-op. It is adapted from Jacques Pepin’s original. I used my leftover black beans and rice (from a large feast the night before) to create it. If you want the recipe starting from dried beans, click on Pepin’s original recipe. Mine’s a bit simpler:

Print Recipe

Black Bean Soup with Bacon and Bananas

Course: Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 4 whole organic carrots
  • 3 tbs. Herbs de Provence
  • 2 tbs. Chili powder I used ancho chili powder
  • 1 lb. local bacon nitrate free
  • 1 lb. cooked black beans
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • water to desired consistency
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • For Garnish:
  • sliced bananas
  • cilantro

Directions

  1. Cut up bacon into small pieces (this is easiest when still slightly frozen) and add to the pot.
  2. Once bacon gets a bit of color, add in chopped onions, carrots (diced), chopped fresh garlic and Herbs de Provence.
  3. Cook until onions get a bit translucent.
  4. Add in cooked black beans and rice.
  5. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes for flavors to meld.
  6. Add 1-2 cups of water and using a hand-held blender (or transfer to food processor) blend until you reach desired consistency.
  7. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and (optional) hot sauce before serving.
  8. Taste and add salt – (depending on how salty your bacon is, you may or may not need it).
  9. Serve into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced bananas.
  10. Enjoy!

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