Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breakfast musings.... bread & milk

Go into any grocery store in the USA and you will find a dizzying array of "cold cereal" choices.  Breakfast - made easy!  And many of them we find to be quite appealing, i.e. our beloved Cherrios, Fruit Loops, and even Shredded Wheat!  Ah.... no cooking, very little cleanup, kids and hubby are happy!  So, what's the downside if there is one (or more?)  Well, first of all, they are expensive.  Very expensive.  At our local Walmart, an 18 ounce box of Cherrios is $3.52 today.  27 ounces of Fruit Loops is $3.98.  15 ounces of Shredded Wheat is $2.48, and you can feel so virtuous eating this "healthy" choice, right?  Sorry.  It's not healthy. Read on below.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation's website:

" Cold breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or flakes or shreds. Individual grains passed through the extruder expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. These products are then subjected to sprays that give a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.
In his book Fighting the Food Giants, biochemist Paul Stitt describes the extrusion process, which treats the grains with very high heat and pressure, and notes that the processing destroys much of their nutrients. It denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially damaged by the extrusion process."

Well, now that I've shot down your delusions about breakfast cereal.... (sigh), what can we do?  I mean, look, most of us not only are moms or dads, but we work full-time too.  Who has time to cook breakfast every morning? I have an idea for you.  You may never have heard of this.  It's called "Bread and Milk."

 What in the world is "Bread and Milk?"  Ah... I thought you'd never ask. Here is how you make it: Get a bowl, a spoon, some of your favorite bread, some milk of your choice, honey, raisins or other sweetening or chopped up fresh fruit.  Break the bread into little pieces into your bowl.  Drizzle on a little honey, and top with cold milk.  That's it!  I use homemade bread because that's what I have, but any bread is good and if you want a little more crunch, then toast it first! 
I not only love this for breakfast, but sometimes have it in place of other meals.  It's always available, quick and comforting.  I know... the kids are going to miss their extruded, overheated, denatured grains, but when did we, as parents, start making our decisions based upon what the children want.  Look, they don't want to brush their teeth, and they probably would choose to eat candy and drink soda for 3 meals a day.  Nope.  Not gonna happen on my watch!

When I was a young girl, whenever I would get sick, like with a cold, or mumps, or measles or Rubella... (yep, I had all of those) my sweet Daddy would make me something called "milk toast."  He would toast a slice of bread, heat some milk with a little butter and pepper and salt in a saucepan and pour it over the toast on a plate.  That was very appealing to me and so sweet of him.  I miss my Daddy very much.  So, there's another variety of bread and milk.

I am certain that you, my Gentle Readers, can come up with lots of other similar ideas. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Good Harvest Day!

Things are looking up here with the garden.  We went out this morning and picked everything that needed picking.

Yellow Crookneck Squash

Tomatoes!  Not quite ripe, but that's how it is this year

Peppers, green and purple-podded pole beans

Bi-color sweet corn

Then I took a walk in the woods and came back with some lovely oyster mushrooms!  (There definitely ARE some advantages to having too much rain.  :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My tomatoes are dying... :(

Here in the Midwest (USA) we have had an unusually wet summer.  It has rained so much that my tomato vines, in addition to having a raging case of blight, are dying simply because the soil is so wet.  The tomatoes are rotting from the inside-out before they are ripe.  So, this morning I decided to do something different.  I went ahead and picked all of the tomatoes that are kind of red, but not ripe yet.  I cut them up into pieces and filled a 2 gallon soup pot, put on a lid and simmered them until they were tender, stirring often.

Here are the tomatoes cooking:

 When they were all tender, I strained them with my Foley Food Mill (worth it's weight in gold!)  I bought mine many years ago and it is tinned steel, but now they make them out of stainless!

 Here is all that was left from all of those tomatoes.  This is the skin, seeds and cores:

You can see that the color of the juice is rather insipid:

SO!!!  I added 2 cans of tomato paste!

See how much better it looks?  (The taste is much better also.)

I added 2 Tablespoons of RealLemon lemon juice to each quart jar and 1 teaspoon of sea salt:

Then I processed the jars for 40 minutes in my steam canner.  A water-bath would work the same.

Here are the 6 jars.  It really is delicious, by the way.

I wanted to show you this in case your tomatoes are dying too.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Raisin Bread!

Have you ever made raisin bread?  Well, if not, and you like to make bread, then you are all set.... assuming you also like raisins.  ;)

Just make whatever bread dough you prefer.  This batch is about 1/4 whole wheat and the rest of the flour is King Arthur's unbleached bread flour - my favorite.

When the bread dough is ready to put in the pans, THEN is the time to add the raisins and cinnamon.  Just roll your loaf of bread dough into a nice rectangle, sprinkle with raisins and a little cinnamon and roll it up tightly and form a loaf.  Very easy.

Here it is baking in the oven.

It just came out of the oven and I brushed the top of the crust with butter.

Here is what it looks like sliced.

Now, can't you just smell the goodness?  It makes fabulous toast for breakfast too, slathered with nice butter.  Oh.... yum.

Unfortunately (?) I made this for a pitch-in lunch after Church tomorrow, so we have to wait.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kefir - Chapter 17 - how I am doing it now...

I began blogging about milk kefir on December 10, 2009.  If you look over on the right side of this page, you'll see the "chapters" there.  I want to update you on how I manage it now.  It hasn't changed much, but I have learned, through experience, what works and what is easiest.

Ok, starting on the left and going clockwise, here is what you're looking at:

1. Quart jar of liquid milk kefir with the lid loosely screwed on.  I always let it sit out on the counter, and use it for many things, including drinking, "buttermilk" biscuits, pancakes and making kefir cheese - which I use like cream cheese... yes, even in cheesecake!

2. 1/2 gallon jar of fresh goat milk.  You can use any milk.  It needn't be raw or goat.

3. Small Pyrex bowl with a stainless steel strainer sitting in it. 

4. Pint fermenting jar with a lid loosely screwed on. In this jar are the kefir grains and I add fresh milk every morning after straining out the liquid kefir into the bowl there.

Kefir grains multiply, so when I have too many, I either share them with friends or just eat them.  They are kind of nice!  Sort of like a softish sour gummie bear.  Truly.  I like them.

Here is the morning routine:

1. Pour the contents of the pint fermenting jar into the strainer placed in the bowl.  Let it drain and then using a stainless spoon, I scoop the grains back into the jar, and eat some if need be.

2. Pour more fresh milk over the grains and put the lid on loosely.

3.  Pour the liquid kefir out of the bowl into the quart jar, shake it up and pour out some to drink.

4.  Put the two jars back in their spot on the counter.

5.  Wash up the bowl and strainer.  That's it! 

It's the work of about 2 minutes, probably.  Very easy and quick.  Occasionally I switch to clean jars when they start looking a bit crunchy, but it is perfectly safe not to do that.

If you were ever in a situation where you wanted to have milk, but had no refrigeration, using kefir grains would keep your milk safe indefinitely. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sauerkraut 2015

I picked the rest of my cabbages yesterday and was able to make 12.5 pounds of Sauerkraut!  Here is a picture of it in the Fido jars for fermentation.  Here is how I do it.  Trim your cabbages of anything that is less than nice, cut them in quarters and remove the core.  Shred them in a food processor.  Weigh.  Add 3 Tablespoons of salt for each 5 pounds.  Stir it in well.  Let it sit and wilt for at least 1/2 hour.  Then squish it and squish it with your hands until it is getting softer and the juices are flowing nicely.  Pack into Fido jars, 3/4 full.  Close.  Let it set in your kitchen.  It will begin to ferment and "puff up". When it settles back down (length of time will vary) open a jar and taste it.  If it tastes good to you, transfer the jar(s) to the refrigerator.  It will keep a LONG time.  Easy.  Quick.  Delicious and so so good for you!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pressure cooking - Chapter 9

Have you ever heard of "Purple Podded Pole Beans?" I hadn't either. This is the first year I have ever grown them and I am so pleased with them. I read about them in Eating on the Wild Side: The missing link to Optimum Health .  They are more nutritious than green beans.  Pole beans, of course, are much easier to pick than bush beans.  One very nice thing I've observed about these is that Japanese Beetles don't seem to like them.  The beetles munch on nearly everything else in our garden, but stay clear of these.  I picked some for the first time, today.  They are very pretty!

These beans are "string beans."  That means that the larger ones have fibrous strings you need to pull off before you cook them.  You don't have to, of course, but if you don't they are not very pleasant to eat as it will feel as if you have lengths of dental floss in your mouth.  No... better to "string" them - like this:

Do you see that cute little pointy up thingie on the end of the bean?

Carefully break it, downward, and you can pull the "string" right off the bean.  Then, of course, also snap off the stem end.

Here is how I use the pressure cooker to cook my fresh beans.  The beans will take only a few minutes to cook, and will be tender, and actually retain more nutrients than being steamed or boiled.  Here they are, on the trivet in the bottom of my pressure saucepan:

Put them in, add 1 cup of water, put on the lid and pressure regulator:

Bring up to pressure, and with the petcock gently rocking, and cook for 5 minutes.  As soon as it is done, put the pan in your sink and run cold water over it until the pressure is released.  Then, open the cooker and voila!  Tender, delicious, fresh beans and look!  They are GREEN now!

I served them with salt and a little dash of genuine Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.  It was so delicious!  

Incidentally, I bought my olive oil from that company linked above, but in buying 2 gallons, not only was the cost much lower per ounce, but I got free shipping, also.  I know it costs a lot, but that is only once a year.  It is oil to Die For!  So fresh!  Delightful!  It makes excellent mayonnaise, too, as well as any other use on salads, toast, vegetables... anything.  I highly recommend it and no, I am not on their payroll.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three-quarters of a bushel of green beans!

I've worked really really hard this year to keep ahead of the weeds.  It worked very well until we had day after day of rain.  I am not complaining about the rain!  But now, the garden is a wooly mess!  That's ok.  The vegetables, as you can see above, have gotten a good head start.  :)
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