Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another Long Absense

Well, I'm not so great at blogging my adventures lately, but I am taking them.

Since my last post I've rendered lard!  I never thought I would say that.  EVER.

I've rendered lard so I can season my cast iron pans and use it for cooking.

Currently I'm working on meal planning.

This week was:
Monday - Burgers on sprouted buns with asparagus and a side salad
Tuesday - Burgers with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes and onions
Wednesday - Stir fried Beef and green beans
Thursday - Left over (Freezer) Mexican Pulled Beef with Kale, with fermented guacamole
Friday - I don't need to make dinner because we'll be at a rehearsal dinner
Saturday - I don't need to make dinner because we'll be at the wedding
Sunday - Nachos

Now I'm working on next weeks meal plan.  I'm definitely getting experimental with some things.

I'm going to start sprouting some grains for flour before I head to bed tonight and then Thursday will be my first fermented guac.  We'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Resources - Healthy 4 Life

As you may have noticed, I love getting resources into your hands!  I'm actually loving digging into these things and finding resources for myself.  By posting them I know that I can find them later and I get to share them with you! Yay!

This resource is from Nourishing Our Children, an organization I mentioned earlier.  They posted this document, Healthy 4 Life.

If you don't yet have Nourishing Traditions, this is a great place to start.  It also has some different recipes that to me seem a little bit easier and every day than Nourishing Traditions recipes.  I'm excited to try them out!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

How I Make Yogurt

A dear friend just asked me about what yogurt recipe I use and how I make it.  I'm writing this post to tell her my grand scheme, but first here's a little background.

When I started making yogurt I thought I was so cool.  Wow! I'm doing something super healthy and super frugal for my family! Yahoo! Then I read Nourishing Traditions and as usual I learned that what I thought was health, was NOT healthy.  I was using dry milk powder in my making of yogurt which according to Sally Fallon is really bad!  Though I was super bummed to learn that my original way was not going to fly, I adapted and relearned how to make yogurt.

Now I use the recipe from Nourishing Traditions, but I have several tricks up my sleeve that help me get to yogurt without a yogurt maker.  So here's my story:

How I Make Yogurt

First start with the Nourishing Traditions ingredient list:

1/2 cup good quality yogurt
1 quart whole milk
Yes that's really it!

Then I bring in some Alton Brown tactics:

String a probe thermometer through a binder clip and attach it to the side of the pot you're going to heat your milk in so the probe sits in the milk, but does not hit the bottom of the pan.  It might be easier if I just let good ole AB show you:

Skip to 4:31 seconds to see the demonstration - or watch the whole episode if you enjoy his sense of humor (which my husband and I do), but ignore the extra ingredients he says to put in the yogurt.

You'll actually want to take the temperature of the milk to 180 degrees.  The probe thermometer is awesome for this because you don't have to stand there watching a candy thermometer which is not as sensitive and will just be a waste of time.

Once it's at 180 degrees you'll remove the milk from the heat and let it cool down to 110 degrees.  To help the process I ladle the milk into a square pyrex dish.  Ladling it cools it a bit as it moves through the air and gets it ready for the next phase.  Move the thermometer from the pan to rest in the pyrex, so you know what temperature the milk is.  At this point you can also take the 1/2 cup of yogurt out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature.  That will allow the good bacteria to wake up and get hungry (as AB says).

When the milk reaches 110 degrees take a few Tablespoons of milk and whisk it into the yogurt to temper the yogurt and bring it up in temperature a bit.  Then pour all of that yogurt milk mixture into the pyrex baking dish.

From there I use an electric skillet.  This gives you a little more temperature control than a crockpot.  I fill the electric skillet up with water and then turn it to the appropriate temperature (You want to keep the milk between 105 and 115 degrees).  Place the pyrex dish in the skillet in the water.  Presto - yogurt maker without a yogurt maker!

Then you can put the probe thermometer in the yogurt and set the alarm for 115 degrees.  If the alarm goes off you'll want to back down the heat a bit, so as not to kill you r good bacteria (happens at about 120 degrees).  Then you can leave your yogurt overnight for about 12 hours or so.

At that point transfer it to the fridge.  It will gel up a bit more and get ready for your family to enjoy it!

The next time I make yogurt, I'm going to try to make it with raw milk, but that those results will have to wait for another day.

NOTE: If you want to make the yogurt in the crockpot you'll want to use the warm setting if you have one.  You may still need to do it during the day and turn the crock pot on and off to monitor the temperature.  If you only have a high and low setting, you'll definitely have to turn it on and off to keep it at a good temperature.  The other alternative is to do it at night, bring it up to 118 degrees in the crock pot then take it out wrap it up in a bath towel or two and wake up to yogurt in the morning.  Fun times!  Happy experimenting to find your perfect method.

NOTE 2: I got really thick creamy yogurt when I used Greek Yogurt instead of regular, but you can use either.  I'll probably use regular again next time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's been going on for the last 7 days?

We've kind of fallen off the wagon a little bit.  Not that we've gone crazy or anything, but I think when you get in a routine of eating well and then are at a family gathering where you're faced with all the sugar and everything you really, really want, but know is unhealthy, it's hard to get back on track.

There has definitely been some laziness on my part too.  My little one has had a fever for the past several days, so we've gotten take out a couple of times.  Of course that means you're eating bad stuff, because not many places have nourishing take out - actually if you know of ANY place, I'd love to hear about it.

For me, when I get off track I begin to CRAVE all the bad stuff again.  Basically, I want sugar!! I want cake! I want candy! I want more cake!  Thankfully, I haven't had access to these things since they are not in the house and I've been home with a baby who has a fever, but it definitely shows me my weakness.  Cake and it's friends are my comfort food.  I want to get better at eating right so these temptations don't have the same hold on  me as they presently do.  I long for the day when I've been off sugar for so long that I go to a shower or some family function, have a bite of some sugary deliciousness and say that's enough for me (or I don't want it at all).  I'm not sure if that's how it works, but that's certainly my dream. Right now, I eat a bite and then I'm like a compulsive monster who must devour more and more sugar.  What can I say? I have a long way to go.

Despite my cravings and my son's fever there have been a few good things happening. 

1) I made apple sauce and then used the apple scraps to make fruit scrap vinegar!  Fun times!  The vinegar is a long way from done, but this is the recipe that I used. I'll let you know how it turns out. The applesauce was simple and delicious!  I just simmered/steamed apples in about an inch of water until soft, drained the water, and hit it with a stick blender.  No need to complicate things! This was seriously delicious. My son loved it and he was the one I made it for, but I liked it a lot too. Shhhh...Don't tell!

2) I found two other great resources: Nourishing Our Children and from their links Feeding Our Children. I love this sort of thing because I want to have my little guy on the right track.  Egg yolks and yogurt are already staples in his diet, but it reminds me that I need to get more yogurt, I need to make my own yogurt from raw milk and it gives me more ideas for things to do with his diet.  I'm excited to dig more into these things.  Also, as a result of checking these out, I think I might take the plunge and become a member of the local Weston Price Chapter.  I cant wait to tell you about that adventure.

3) I'm still learning and growing and I'm still pressing on.  I even have something soaking in the kitchen as I type - but that will have to wait for another post.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Few More Resources

Sorry for the "radio silence."  There was a death in the family, so we were out of town for memorial services.  We definitely fell off the band wagon while out of town.  I think it's almost impossible to eat well when not at home.  That makes me sad.  I want to learn how to eat well when not at home, but we'll take things one step at a time.

I ran across a few interesting resources lately.

The first is a sugar video - (Oh man - do I need to watch this again after this weekend!  I think I need to go through withdraw all over again!!!) It's done from a bio-chemist's perspective on how our bodies process sugar/fructose.  It's pretty long, but I found it facsinating.

The second is this article on soda - Ten Reasons to give up soda!!! Wow! I wish I would have had this in my back pocket when I needed to kick the habit!  Thankfully, I've gotten through that part.  I used to drink 6 diet cokes a day!!! So glad to say I've been aspartame free for well a while now :)

The last was another post from Nourished Kitchen. It's all about traditional foods "in a nutshell." I find this helpful because I've gotten questions on what I'm doing and why I'm doing what I'm doing.  I'm not always good at articulating the reasons for all of this (at least without launching into a huge discussion), but I'm learning.  In the meantime this will be a helpful place to point others.

In other news, I believe Reginald (my sourdough starter) is dead. I'm not sure if he truly was dead, or if he could have been revived.  Regardless, he is now part of our compost and we'll have to start again.  Like I've said many times before, I'm just learning and this blog is my "senior project" in learning to change the way our family eats and becoming healthier in the process!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Naturally Sweetened Fermented Ketchup

Honestly, a few months ago, I wouldn't have even known what Naturally Sweetened Fermented Ketchup was! That phrase would have been complete gibberish!

But I did it.  I just made a batch.  Now to wait for it to ferment and enjoy the results in 3-5 days.

I combined the recipe from Nourishing Traditions and the Nourished Kitchen's recipes to make my own variation.  I guess I should have tried both first before I started tinkering, but I figured I like these ingredients, I like those ingredients - let's try it!

So...what did I do differently - I noticed that the Nourishing Traditions recipe had cayenne pepper and garlic in it.  I like both of those flavors.  So I followed the Nourished Kitchen recipe, but added 1 t. garlic powder instead of all spice and 1/4 t. cayenne pepper.  We'll see how it goes.

Super excited to try my very own ketchup!!


This ketchup is not too shabby if I do say so myself, but next time I'll cut the cloves at least in half or omit them all together.  They were a bit strong for me.  You'll have to try it for yourself though.

Many Firsts

I haven't been very diligent in posting.  Last week I had a sick baby and I may still have a teether, but only time will tell.  Despite all that we've still been eating well and having more food adventures.

Cod Liver Oil - We placed our first order for Cod Liver Oil on Green Pastures.  We actually got the Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Combo in Chocolate Creme.  It wasn't nearly half as bad as every one described.  I expected to be gagging it down.  I actually tried it on my 7.5 month old son first (I'm so horrible, I know - but I actually did get it for him).  He took it without a blink of an eyelash, so I thought I should try it too.  Not bad, not dessert or anything, but definitely not bad.  A teaspoon (what an adult is supposed to take) is a lot though, still no one died and no one gagged.  We're all good :)

Reginald - Reginald is a new addition to our family.  He is our Sourdough starter.  I'm still trying to remember to feed him every 12 hours, but he's getting enough to stay alive and well.  I made crackers over the weekend and they were great.  Exciting times! (I'll eventually take a picture of something I make - maybe.  Remember, this is more about accountability to self more than anything else.  If anyone else gets an idea or enjoys reading - BONUS!)

Easter Candy - Since we gave up refined sugar, any candy you would find in the grocery store would not qualify for our family's way of eating.  Inspired by the Nourishing Gourmet I made Peanut Butter Cups.  They were yummy.  I fudged the recipe a little bit, but wasn't 100% happy with my tweaks, so I'll have to experiment for next year.  In the meantime, try her recipe and check out her site.  She makes some amazing stuff.

That's what's new in our little Nourishing world.  We're still learning, but getting better at this thing everyday.