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Archive for October, 2011

Fermented foods is my new passion.  I am learning a lot about it, how healthy it is for us, especially grains.  Most people who have issues with eating regular wheat flour can actually tolerate sourdough because the grains have been soaked and soured, it breaks down enzymes in the flour that are generally the cause of the intolerance.  I don’t seem to have issues with wheat, although I don’t know that for sure, I’ve never been tested.  However it is quite the “fad” to be gluten-free.   I made sourdough pizza for a friend who was gluten sensitive and he didn’t report any issues back after.  Anyway, I bought a sourdough Ebook from gnowfglins.com and got started right away getting my starter going.  The Ebook is awesome!  I highly recommend it, it has tons of recipes, tricks, and help for your sourdough needs.

After I got my starter ready I tried all types of things, rolls, pancakes, crackers, pizza.  But my favorite and the easiest is something they call Bucket Bread.  Basically it’s a combination of flour, water, and sourdough starter and you make a large batch of it and put it in, you guessed it, a bucket. 😉  I use a gallon bucket that use to hold our coconut oil.  My first few buckets were pretty good.  I got good rise on my dough and although there were a few doughy breads, for the most part I did well.  Then it stopped, I think maybe with the colder weather change.  But I’ve made two buckets (which is quite a bit of flour and several breads) and the stupid dough wouldn’t rise!  I’ve laughed at myself a lot calling them hockey pucks.  They have been perfect chew toys for the dogs, I’m sure they got quite a jaw work out too.  Hubby was always pretty generous and ate the bread anyway.  One turned out like a pancake and I left it out to rise and had nice bubbles on top, I couldn’t figure it out!  It was so frustrating.

Last night was the break through moment, thanks to Hubby.  I had the last bit of dough in my bucket, I’ve had ZERO success with this bucket, but I had to make the dough.  It was getting quite sour!  So I added a bit more flour, and then hubby suggested something, he actually said use some baking soda.  The light bulb went off!  When I make sourdough pancakes, I add baking soda to give it fluff.  What a wonderful idea!  So I eyeball and dump some in.  Instantly my dough started to get puffy!  I did a little dance. 🙂  Hubby came in later and said “did you put in baking powder?”  and I said “no baking soda.”  He had said soda but had meant powder, but just that little mix up gave me the ah-ha moment I needed.  We were actually out of power, so I’m glad I didn’t need that.  So I covered them (I made two loafs) for the first 15 minutes per the instructions, and hoped for the best.  After 15 minutes I took off the covers and they were looking plump and brown.  I had a fear of a doughy middle, like most of them have turned out recently so I left it in a bit longer, another 15 minutes.  When I pulled them out they looked fluffy, but with that same sourdough crisp crust.  One looked a little too done… so I dumped them on to the cutting board and sliced into the big one.  It was fluffy!!! YAHOO!!  It made my whole week actually, is that sad?  Taste test with Hubby and our friend turned out great, we put some raw butter on there with some homemade peach jam, er syrup, it didn’t quite set up right.  Everyone loved it and went back for more!  I found my solution to my hockey puck bread, and it was so wonderful.  I see lots of bread in our future.

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My coworker came back from vacation this week, she had flown to see her son in college and came back with an airplane cold.  I am the type that seems to get sick when someone looks at me funny so I went into precaution mode, wipe down her desk when she leaves, grab some emergen-C, drink lots of water, get lots of rest.  I figured by avoidance I could at least ward off her cold.  Then last night I get home and tell hubby about her cold, he looks at me and says “I have a cold.” UGH!! First off he NEVER gets sick and second if he gets it then surly I will, or if I don’t catch it from him, then our friend (who is staying with us) will get it and then pass it to me.  So I started getting into big time cold and flu remedies… these are my ways (well God‘s ways but I use them) to try to keep the sickness at bay.

1) Master Tonic.  I’ve heard this called by many different names, including Fire Cider.  But basically its equal parts (I use 1lb) of 5 ingredients, onion, garlic, ginger root, horseradish root, and HOT peppers.  You grate these all into a gallon jar then fill with real apple cider vinegar.  By real I mean it still has the “mother” in the bottom, you have to shake it up before you use it, it’s not filtered and clear.  Let this sit for preferably 6 months, but could be sampled from before.  Unfortunately we didn’t make any new this year, so we have a bit left in the fridge from last year.  I left that for hubby, so on to the next thing…

2) Kefir Water.  The probiotics in this is amazing, and healthy and life giving.  I have done some research and found that this is successful in warding off the bug.

3) Apples/Apple Juice.  The saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t just a sweet little saying.  It’s truth!  God created apples to pack a huge punch, with vitamin C, with antioxidants.  Good good stuff.  My favorite part of my apple now is something I would never have eaten before, the seeds.  Apple seeds (as well as apricot and others) contain B-17 which has a cyanide compound that actually ATTACKS cancer.  I’m sure the FDA will not agree with me, but that’s ok I’m not a doctor and I’m not giving “medical advice.”  But this just proves God thinks of EVERYTHING!

4)Lemon/Garlic water.  I just read on a blog post about this, you put 1/2 a lemon and a grated up clove of garlic in some hot water and drink.  Maybe a little honey…oh yeah!

5) Garlic oil.  You can make your own garlic oil, put some grated garlic in some oil and let it sit.  (feel free to look up specific quantities online)  Generally a few hours will work, probably better over night… but then you put the oil on your feet and put socks on then you sleep with it.  They say it helps the garlic to get into your blood stream and fight those germs.  I’ve also heard that some people can taste the garlic in their mouths in the morning, although I’ve never had that happen.  Do be careful though, garlic can burn the skin, so you don’t want to over do it on the garlic.

6) Over all take care of your body.  Don’t eat lots of sugar or refined foods, eat life giving foods, ALIVE foods.  Probably best to stay away from fast foods (which we all should do all the time anyway, but I understand a busy life), I’ve also heard dairy but we drink raw goats milk, so I personally think that this is adding beneficial bacteria to your system and that can help.  Don’t go to bed with a wet head (GUILTY of this all the time!!), go to bed early, and if you are horribly sick stay home.  Quit pushing yourself and rest.

Here’s praying for a cold free cold season!

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About a year ago I got milk kefir grains from a nice person on craigslist.   I thought it would be a wonderful way to get probiotics into our bodies.  It worked, for a bit.  I just couldn’t get use to the very pungent tasting drink.  Even with fruit and sweetener I just couldn’t get over the tart taste.  But the stuff in the grocery store is SO good!!  I thought for sure I would enjoy it, turns out the amount of sugar that is added to the stuff you get at the grocery store would spike your blood sugar so high you’d be doing the Freddy on the front porch.  (or maybe that was when I had my first cup of coffee…)  Either way I couldn’t do it, hubby on the other hand enjoyed it, or so I thought.  Turns out he just liked the probiotics and the protein from the milk.  We were using raw cows milk but have since switched to raw goats milk, but I gave up the idea of milk kefir a long time ago.  By the way I pronounce it KEY-FUR.  So I found a yahoo group about Kefir and joined.  A few days later a wonderful woman who lives not far from where I work dropped off some water kefir grains.  Basically it’s the same probitoic goodness in the milk kefir but no milk, Yay!  It is supposed to taste like a soda of some sort.  This lady gave me directions, 1/2 cup of grains to 1/3 cup sugar, fruit and 4 cups water (well you start out with 5 cups water, but you simmer the water and fruit and it reduces).  She was using ginger and I’m sure it makes a wonderful ginger ale type drink, which I make in a lacto-fermented soda, I’ll post that later.  So I wanted to try fruit, we have an abundance of frozen blueberries that hubby harvested so I used blended blueberries, water, and the fruit then I made my first mistake, I added the grains.  There are two different ways to do kefir water, one says to put the grains in a small sack (burlap/cheese cloth type) then you can easily remove the grains, the other says just put it all together and then you can just wash the grains off when you’re straining it.  After 48 hours I strained and found that I couldn’t separate the fruit bits out of the grains!  Of course you have to rinse with cold water and after my fingers were numb I figured it was a lost cause.  I grabbed out as many big grains out that I could and fed the rest to the chickens.

With my first lesson over, we drank the “juice.”  It was sweet and yet had a fermented/wine type smell.  It didn’t taste fermented it tasted sweet.  The next batch I added frozen blueberries, in a large pot with 10 cups of water (I’m doubling the recipe) and simmered.  After that I strained off the blueberries, added my sugar and let the mixture cool.  After it was cool enough to the touch (what is cool enough? well it felt cool to the touch, not warm…) I poured it into two half-gallon jars and added the grains.  Let it sit 48 hours and again, success!  Sweet goodness.

My third attempt, again another lesson in this one.  But we do learn from the mistakes don’t we?  It’s hard to make the same mistakes twice.  This time I decide I want to try Elderberry.  Hubby and I LOVE Elderberry.  God made these perfect blue/purple berries that not only make one of the best wines I’ve ever tried, and some amazing muffins, but it also is an immune system booster.  Many cough and cold remedies have Elderberry in them.  So we generally harvest a lot of berries, last year our buckets were OVER FLOWING with these beautiful little berries.  The only “bad” thing is the seed, it is quite big for the little berry, and it’s got this crunch that you can’t really explain, you just have to try.  Too many seeds can be bad, only because there is just too much crunch.  Oh and I forgot to mention it makes an amazing jam too!  Ok… back to the subject at hand.  So when I’ve made Elderberry soda before (with the lacto-fermented version) it was VERY explosive, which leads me to believe that the sugars are eaten up pretty quickly, and ferments quickly.  I followed the same rules for the kefir water and left it for 48 hrs, but the end of that time there was obvious fizz on the top of the jar.  We strained it and this batch smelt VERY fermented, in fact I was a bit apprehensive to try it.  Hubby went first, bless his heart.  He likes it!  So I give it a go, when you don’t take a big inhale before you drink it’s really great, when you do you get that fermented smell first then you can’t help but taste it.  It seems to have settled down in the fridge, although that could just be my brain playing tricks on me.  But what I would do different, is probably add less grains, more sugar and maybe even ferment it less time, or a combination of these things.

Kefir water is a hit in our house.  Hubby is even considering retiring his milk grains for a bit.  They can keep in the freezer so can the water kefir grains actually.  This way if and when he’s ready for milk kefir again he can have them, and when our water grains multiply like crazy then we can save some, and give some away.  I think too many people don’t do “nice” things anymore, everyone seems to expect something and no one can truly get something for nothing.  I do think it’s important to share, I mean isn’t that one of the first things in life we learned?  So I plan on extending my water grains to some folks on craigslist, and maybe here if anyone is listening. 😉

Happy Kefiring (totally just made that up, I think)!

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