Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Ramble in the Woods - Ginger Ale

Today I was able to make up some of our all time favorite ginger ale/juice mixtures.  Blood oranges, juiced and ran through a sieve, mixed 1 to 1 with ginger ale.  It is not watered down because our family enjoys the bold, bright taste.

Our favorite!

The Extra Step - Phase 2 - Continuing Education Raw Milk

The raw milk journey continues:

The Weston A. Price Foundation has a lot of good information on raw milk and its products.  There is a great page showing different recipes and different information on unheated vs. heated yogurt.  I have not yet tried any of these, but plan to begin as soon as I can get the bread, kvass, ginger ale, sauerkraut, kefir, butter stuff completely under control....

OK, that is never going to happen.  :)  So... probably next week will bring several yogurt recipes to the kitchen (focus, focus).  If anyone would like to try some of these and send me pictures and how it turned out, how you used it and ways to work it into your busy lives...... We would all appreciate it. 

Here it the article.

Also from the site is a good breakdown of raw milk in general and is a great overview.

I think my favorite site is the Modern Country Dairy site.  They have a lot of great stuff.  I found a good explaination for why lactose intolerant people can often drink raw milk.  This is on their page titled Top Ten Reasons for drinking raw milk.  Even if you have been there before, it is well worth going again.

A couple of quotes:

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, "Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer."

Often people who consider themselves to be "lactose intolerant" are able to enjoy raw milk because it contains "lactase." Lactase is one of the enzymes that get destroyed during pasteurization. It normally would pre-digest the milk while in the stomach, thereby enabling the body to assimilate its nutrients. Pasteurization forces the milk to enter the lower intestines undigested, resulting in cramps and gas.
The difference is night and day. Supermarket milk is highly manipulated and engineered. It's pasteurized, or heated to about 161 degrees for about 15 seconds, which destroys the bacteria that cause food borne illness, along with the flavor of milk. Pasteurization by this method gives it a fairly long shelf life. [Milk is also] homogenized which smashes all the fat globules and makes it uniform and smooth, while wiping out all the thick lovely cream that floats to the top. Then that milk travels a long way, often thousands of miles, to get to us.
Raw milk is rich with enzymes and contains all 22 of the essential amino acids which are the building blocks of life, including phosphate. Phosphate is essential for the absorption of calcium and is plentifully present in raw milk but is completely destroyed by pasteurization
 Again, I would highly recommend this site. 

Figure out what is best for your family.  Make your decisions one at a time, and try to find a workable way to get the process in place.  If you live somewhere that does not allow raw milk, you might try to find a "co-op" or neighbor that has cows or goats and work something out.

The nutritional value of raw milk vs. homoginized and pasturized milk just cannot be overstated.  This is such an important item in the Nourishing Traditions... the Weston A. Price Foundation.... Nutrition and Degenerative Disease.... all of these wonderful resources consider raw milk from grass fed cows to be the backbone of health.

Please pass on what you have learned.  Remember that we are a community of friends, learning from each other, sharing joys and failures, helping to destroy our dependence on Agribusiness, Big Pharma, the Medical Industry........  In a community we support each other where we can, but are primarily responsible for our own family.  Step up to this responsibility, don't overwhelm yourself, make the best choice you can and keep moving.

The picture has nothing to do with milk.... The Junior Rancher and Baby Rancher are learning their States and Capitals this morning.  I just liked the picture.  We did have to interrupt this fine lesson so Grammie could kiss every "boo boo" Baby Rancher had. 

Best of Health to You

The Extra Step - Phase 2 - More Raw Milk Information

In our continuing education on raw milk, this very interesting study came my way.  It is a very in-depth study, but I think it is worth the time to read it (or at least skim portions of it).  Remember that grass fed cows put out a completely different milk than grain fed cows.  Be sure you know what your raw milk cows are eating.  It appears that hay in the winter is OK as well.  If you are short on time, you might want to skim through the first part to the meat of the article, in the middle and the end.

A couple of my favorite things from this study:

"3. What are the additional benefits of milk fresh from the cow?

Milk fresh from the cow is a complete, living, functional food.  Although we have looked at the numerous nutritional components of milk in the previous two questions, the full benefits of milk are only realized when all of these components function as a complex interdependent and balanced process. 
Proteins are incrementally denatured by heat. With lower heat treatment levels, complex proteins with three-dimensional configuration are altered. With higher heat treatment levels, the primary shape and bonds are altered. At very high heat levels, there are destructive chemical changes.
This is complex because changes to the fat globules, specifically the membranes, are caused by both heat and homogenization. Of all the milk constituents, the milk fat globule is the most drastically altered by the combination of pasteurization and homogenization.

The emphasis above is mine.  I strongly recommend you spend a little time reading this wonderful information.

Best of Health to you

New (old) Bread Pans


My sister, who loves to shop at thrift stores, found me three glass bread pans.  It was pretty exciting.  Shopping is one of my least favorite things, but I sure wanted to try some of these cool bread recipes in glass pans.  Thanks much.

Using a tip from Mountain Home Quilts worked well.  The tip was to let the bread rise in a cooler place.

The idea of always shifting your bread process in small, managable chores has also been working in our overbusy household.  This tip comes from an old, old recipe and is probably how pioneer women functioned.

So..... step one - the sponge goes into the Kitchenaid along with the rest of the ingredients... step two -  form up the loaves... step three - rub the insides of the pans with olive oil and coat the top with more olive oil....  step four - cover with a damp cloth (this one is from Evelyn Fields).   These four steps took about ten minutes for all three loaves.  (no dishes yet)

Right after that it was time for remaking the sponge for the next batch of bread and making up some tortilla dough.  (Tortilla dough recipe here)  Again, this step took only about 10 minutes for each process, then nothing more to be done until time to bake.  (after making new sponge and tortilla dough... now wash the dishes and counter and put everything away - ONCE)

I did this on Saturday and today (Wednesday) I plan to take the sponge which is quite sour now and redo this entire process.  I did put the sponge in a cool place.  If it is too sour, I will just add a little more flour and water.  This is how I am coping with too many cultures going on in one house. 

Current Bread Recipe at our house
subject to change as soon as I read the bread book I swiped from my sister :)

Community Sourdough Bread
(Community means none of these ideas are mine... just a gathering)

The Sponge
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups barley flour
2 cups white flour
1/2 cup flax meal
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 cup kefir
Water to make it a slurry

Just bring this together, it is not necessary to knead it.  Put it into a bowl, cover with a wet towel and let rise until double in volumne (probably about 10-12 hours - longer is OK)

The Dough
The sponge from before
any tortilla dough left over
2 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. sweetner (Palm Sugar)
Flour to make a slightly sticky dough

Form into your loaf and let rise again.  I put my loaf glass pans with olive oil in them and rubbed oil on the top.  This makes the crust nicer.  The dough should double in volume.  It often takes several hours.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  
I like to either spritz water in or put a small pan of water in.
It gives your crust a nice feel.  
A stone is nice, but it is not necessary.
Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, then turn down the over to 325 degrees for approximately 15-25 minutes.  The times will vary depending on your loaf size and density.
There are two ways to check and see if it done....
a thermometer inserted - 210 degrees
.... or turn the loaf over and tap the bottom...
if it sounds hollow, it is done.
When I take it out I either immediately run the loaf under water or put butter on the top.  
This makes it a lot easier to cut.
If I missed any tips, someone let me know.  Right now it is all about making this process work in our lives.