Posts Tagged ‘probiotics’

I purchased the sourdough ebook from GNOWFGLINS.com and have been having touch and go results since I started.  The closest I have come to sourdough previously was a Amish Friendship Bread that was given to me.  But really how much sweet bread can one person make?  So sourdough seemed like a better option, you can make crackers, cakes, cookies, biscuits, bread, even tortillas.  The versatility was quite shocking actually.  My sourdough starter is just SO happy in my house.  I don’t know if it’s the wood stove that is making the yeasts happy and active, but I know I’ve never seen the bubbles so happy before we moved into our new house.  Thank you Lord!

Ebooks are great but I’m a paper type of person.  Even in the medical field (that I work in) I’m a paper person, it’s hard to adjust to everything being electronic.  There is something quite satisfying to have a cookbook in front of you, where you can make little notes to additions you have made or suggestions for the next time.  In fact I have a Betty Crocker cook book from probably the 40’s or 50’s and there are little hand written notes in there from the lady who loved it before I did.  I just LOVE that!  Like the tradition was passed down to me, but in this case I bought the cookbook at a garage sale rather than it being my Grandma who passed it to me.

This weekend I looked through my ebook which I carefully put into page protectors and into a three ring binder.  The decision to do that was confirmed when I started getting milk and water and flour all over the pages.  I’m a messy cooker, and I’m slightly accident prone.  Ok, ok…I’m REALLY accident prone.  I made two recipes, one was for muffins which I turned into blueberry muffins and then the spice cake.  I was most impressed with the cake so I wanted to share.

First off I took the time to allow the grains to soak over night, thus eliminating the phytic acid and making the grains digestible to our bellies.  I believe it was 2 1/2c flour (my favorite is King Arthur Flour) with 1/2c sourdough starter and milk.  Mix all together and covered with a cheese cloth.  My cheese cloth is actually an old skirt that the zipper died on so I cut it up and made it into cheese cloth, which I use ALL the time in my kitchen.  You can also take an old T-shirt and do the same thing (although I recommend it being a white T-shirt, pretty sure you want to keep any dyes off your food).  The next morning the eggs, baking powder, and salt and Soda go in.  Apparently salt will slow down the fermentation process and the phytic acid will not break down as fast.  The butter and sugar are mixed together and everything goes into the soaked flour.  Tricky part here is to break up all the chunks of soaked flour so you get a smooth dough rather than clumpy one.  I actually found this part really fun.  The recipe called for specific amounts of spices, cinnamon, clove and all spice.  I had pumpkin pie spice and used that (which has the addition of ginger) and then added a bit more of my sweet cinnamon and tasted it to my liking (I am NOT afraid of raw eggs, in fact I drink them…).  Added it all to the pan and baked it.

The cream cheese frosting was a 100% experiment.  Well, I guess the entire thing was, I actually get nervous when making something new.  I adore baking!  But I hate failure, who doesn’t right?  I really wanted this to come out and I was serving it to some pretty skeptical friends.  Hubby and I had a failed attempt at some yogurt.  We made the yogurt from raw milk we get and then let it strain the whey off so we would have a thicker Greek style yogurt, but we let it strain too long and ended up with a type of “cream cheese.”  I’ve made cream cheese frosting before with store bought cream cheese, this was not that.  At one point Hubby added some of the whey back in, trying to make it yogurt again but the whey didn’t really incorporate right.  It made the frosting more like pudding and less like frosting.  Added the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and stirred until it was as smooth as possible.  It had a tangy sweetness to it, and it was runny so I stuck it in the fridge.

The cake turned out great, although I think I used too much butter.  Can one use too much butter? It was a denser cake but not hard.  It had a nice crisp top and when it cooled I served it with some of the cream cheese frosting (er… pudding LOL).  I was worried it.  I really want my baking to be pleasing to others.  So I gave it to our most skeptical friend first, he would tell me it was junk, if in fact it was junk.  He took a bite of the cake with no frosting, Mikey LIKES IT!! Then he seemed interested in the frosting and again, it was good.  Whew!  Turns out the cake didn’t last until morning.  Hubby had it for breakfast before I got up.  Success!  Unfortunately the cream cheese frosting didn’t get all used up and it sits sadly in my fridge begging to be used on something, but I’m at a loss as to what.  I think it will turn into eggs, AKA chicken food.  But, I made it through another trial of baked goodies and I don’t feel guilty about the cake, it was phytic acid free, baked with whole grains, raw butter, organic sugar and topped with some healthy probiotic cream cheese.  God is good to us!

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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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