Saturday, February 25, 2012

Healthy Cold Cereal

Homemade cold cereal atop my homemade yogurt, unsweetened flaked coconut, and fruit

As I've said before, I've been reading in depth Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book I've had for years, and now there's many gals writing blogs with recipes following her (The Weston Price Foundation) - Wise Traditions. This cereal recipe is from Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist. She tells you this is the only type of cold cereal you should be eating - get rid of all that processed boxed cereal!

My cookbook has some cereal recipes. I do them like crackers, rolling thin on cookie sheets, baking till crispy, and then breaking up in pieces. What I'd do differently with them now is soak the grain for at least 8 hours so it's healthier - easier to digest.

Oat and Barley flour mixed with yogurt to soak
This recipe soaks for 24 hours in yogurt - homemade yogurt of course. It's a keeper ... meaning we really like it. Next time I'm going to lesson the cinnamon amount and not use the maple flavoring. And I only used 1/2C of maple syrup. We're getting used to things not so sweet. And I'd like to taste the grain more. The freshly ground grain I made this from was oats and barley. Next time, Monte wants me to use the 7-grain mix. So again, as I've said before, you don't need to use wheat.


6C freshly ground flour
3C plain yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or clabbered milk

Mix together in a large glass bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and rubber band and leave on the counter for 24 hours.

After soaking, mix the following into the batter -

3/4C coconut or palm oil
1C Grade B maple syrup (I used 3/4C)(1/2C and 5 drops stevia may be substituted or honey)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple flavoring (not using anymore)
1 Tb cinnamon (I'm using 1 tsp)

Mix all together and pour, spreading in 2 - 9x13 pans and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (I used my 11x17 pans and baked about 20 minutes since thinner).

Let cool and crumble into small pieces (Sarah calls it "coffee cake" at this stage) and dry it at 200 degrees for about 12-18 hours (my dehydrator's highest temp is 155). Mine didn't take that long to get crispy.

The maple-cinnamon scent was sure strong throughout the house!

Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Mine is in a crock on the pantry shelf for now - it's disappearing fast!

FLAKE CEREAL (from my cookbook)
2C flour
(oat, barley, corn, buckwheat, rye, wheat ...)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb honey or molasses or maple syrup
1/2C milk

Combine. At this point, I rolled it thin on cookie sheets and baked at 350 for about 10-20 minutes till lightly browned. But now I'd suggest letting it soak at least 8 hours before rolling it out and baking. Crumble when cool and dry.

Eat these as you would your store-bought cold cereal and enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sourdough Cheese or Plain Crackers

Rye Sourdough Cheese Crackers

I've been making homemade crackers for years. In fact I've got four recipes in my Hearth and Home cookbook I wrote seventeen years ago. Plain wheat thins and adding grated cheese have always been my favorite. I've often brought them places along with homemade mustard and/or a good cheese. The only thing I'd change now-adays would be soaking the flour in the liquid overnight, as the more I read the more I think that's the healthiest way to make anything with flour, unless you use sprouted grain flour. And as I wrote in my book ... think beyond wheat flour. We consume enough wheat in breads - everything else can be made from other grain flours. Our favorite crackers now are -

1C sourdough (click here for recipe)
1/3C melted butter or olive oil
1 1/4-1/2 flour
Mix this till a stiff dough, not too sticky, but tacky. Cover the bowl and let it soak for at least 8 hours.

When ready to make the crackers, preheat the oven to 350. I usually grease the counter with olive oil and my hands, then flatten the dough onto the counter. The hope, is to not be too sticky. If it is then you'll have to mix in some more flour till not too sticky. My sourdough is made with rye flour. When adding the flour I use a 7-grain flour. Once the dough is flattened on your counter, add -

1/4 tsp each salt, garlic, and onion powder (any seasoning you desire)
1/4 tsp baking soda

Knead to incorporate, then knead in
1/2C grated cheese

Divide in half and roll out thin to cookie sheet edges. Score, cutting into small squares - I have a fluted rolling tool, or you could use a pizza cutter. Bake 15 minutes. I often just turn the oven off at this point and leave them in the cooling oven. You want them to be crispy-done.

Any cheese can be used. We love flavored goudas - like smoked, or chipotle. Another favorite is with a garlic cotswold. I've even used a fancy cheese that had strips of stilton blue cheese - that was great too!

I have some old cracker tins I store them in. My other tin has crackers made from sprouted wheat flour, or was it flour soaked in yogurt ... I don't remember. Homemade crackers are so easy to make, why buy them!!!!

In case you don't have sourdough started and are dying to make crackers, here's my Wheat Thins recipe from my book -

3C whole wheat flour (any grain actually)
1/3C olive oil
1C water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together. You could add other spices or herbs. Knead as little as possible till it makes a smooth ball. At this point I'd roll thin on ungreased baking sheets, cut into squares and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until crisp. But now I'd let it sit covered for at least 8 hours before rolling out and baking. Sometimes, depending on your oven, if outer edges are getting too brown, remove them and return to baking.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sourdough Crepes

Once done I flip the sourdough crepe onto a plate
I like calendar days that contain stories and meal suggestions. For many years I've made crepes on Fat Tuesday/ Mardi Gras. My blog post on Mardi Gras into Lent is here. My crepe recipe is here. This year I made sourdough crepes.

Actually, since I found this crepe recipe (I bought the A to Z Sourdough eBook) I'm making them quite often. Sometimes for breakfast with unsweetened grated coconut, homemade yogurt, fruit and maple syrup. Sometimes for lunch or supper with leftovers of meats and veggies. These crepes can even be fried crisp like chips - use for nachos!

Before I jump into the recipe I have to start from the beginning, a very good place to start. My sourdough starter is made from rye flour. I used to have a starter I made from potatoes and wheat flour (it might have used a bit of yeast at the beginning, I don't remember) from an Alaska Sourdough book. When I bought Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book in the early 2000's I started my rye starter. I use this starter for everything including the sourdough pancake recipe I got from the Alaskan book. My starter how-to along with the Sourdough pancakes I've made for years is here.

Starter in jar and crepe ingredients
1 C sourdough starter
3 Tb butter or oil
3 eggs
pinch of salt

I usually start with melting the butter in a 2C Pyrex mixing bowl, then mix in the eggs and starter. I use a silicone whip, keeping it in to periodically stir while making the crepes.

Pour a few Tablespoons batter and tilt pan to spread batter

Crepe ready to flip, this one looks a bit thicker than I usually make them
Have a very well seasoned smaller cast iron skillet preheated. First add a bit of oil and swish it around by tilting the pan. Then add a few tablespoons of batter depending on what size pan you're using - mine is an 8" (and sometimes I'll use a 6" pan). Wait till the crepe develops little bubbles all over, then with spatula quickly flip it over. It doesn't need to cook on this side for long, like just a few seconds and then flip out onto a plate. The crepes can stack till you're done with all the batter. This amount will make about 10 crepes.

I've put leftover crepes in a zip-close bag and frozen. It works great. No need to put waxed paper between.

Happy crepe-ing. Sharing of crepe filling ideas could be numerous, so how about you? what have you tried, and what's your favorite?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Dehydrator - an Excalibur!

9 Tray Excalibur Dehydrator
Yeah! I got a new dehydrator! I posted a bit ago about soaking nuts overnight and the pictured dehydrator was my very old round white one. It's noise was getting irritating and sounded like it wanted to croak.

The Excalibur is very well rated and gives you so many more options and space. If you wanted to dry very lofty things, like large flowers, you can remove some of the shelves. Some people use it as a warm place to raise bread, or make yogurt, removing all the shelves. And it has more temperature options.

I like how it evenly dries with a fan at the back. I always shifted around my other's drying trays to be closer to the bottom heat source. And round fruit leather with a center hole? Before that one I had the Magic Mill dehydrator (which is now the improved L'Equip) and even tho I shifted around it's shelves too, at least fruit leather was rectangular - easier to wrap and roll up in plastic wrap.

Years ago my dehydrator was running non-stop as summer waned. I stored most stuff in zip-closure bags and had jars in the pantry I'd refill for easy access. Like now I've got the nuts in jars that I keep refilling. I'm telling you ... dried corn, or peas, or broccoli ... are like candy! I like having dried mushrooms and onions and herbs handy.

I stopped canning when I learned about the nutrient loss (I may do tomatoes when have access to a lot). Nutrient loss for canned produce is about 40%; freezing about 15%, and dehydrating, depending on your process is almost nil.

I used to make jerky in the oven. Now I'm anxious to dry it in the dehydrator. And raw foodists have great ideas for dehydrator usage. I going to be dehydrating my kale chips now. I'll be drying more of my garden produce and herbs next season!

Soaked and dried pumpkin seeds, almonds and pecans

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Yogurt Makings

Yogurt maker, Yogurt in jar, Yogurt Cheese strainer, and Yogurt cheese
My married kids have been making yogurt, but tired of the typical small jar yogurt makers. After searching eBay, I found a 1/2 gallon yogurt maker like mine doesn't exist. I probably got mine over 20 years ago from a second-hand store. After researching I bought them both another yogurt maker, after trying it myself. Though it comes with the small jars, it has an optional taller dome and will fit many sized jars. I've put my 4C Pyrex pitcher in it when making a quart quantity for yogurt ice cream, when needing that little bit more. What we're using now is 4 wide-mouth pint jars to make 1/2 gallon of milk into yogurt. 3 qt jars will fit in this too; or even one wide jar. I like options.

4 wide-mouth pint jars for 1/2 cups of yogurt

I've found non-homogenized milk heated to 145 degrees, so not ultra-pasteurized (eventually I may be getting raw milk! - found a source). Raw milk yogurt makers often don't cook they're milk, but it won't be thick. Yogurt recipes have you heat the milk to 180 degrees. This will help in making a thick yogurt. Then let it cool to 110 degrees before adding your starter. I have my recipe posted here. What I'd add, is that letting it remain in your yogurt maker for 24 hours eats up all the lactose for those who are lactose intolerant.

Heating milk to 180 degrees
 I make yogurt every week. I have it every morning with fruit, unsweetened coconut and sprouted flax. I'm using it more and more. Like I have a yogurt cheese strainer. Yogurt cheese is awesome all by itself. It's made a great cheesecake which I'll post about later. Mix in some herbs, or as my daughter-in-love made - mixed with chopped green pepper, pineapple and pecans - a great dip! And then I'm using the drained whey for many things, including my sourdough bread making. More on this later.

Friday, February 10, 2012

BLT Soup

BLT Soup
BLT sandwiches have always been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. And oh do I look forward to them come summer with fresh grown tomatoes!!!!! Well, the other night I craved this soup, and I had some tomatoes needing to get cooked.

4 slices thick bacon, or maybe 6 if regular bacon
You can fry this till crisp and crumble it back into the soup. But I typically cut the bacon into my soup pot with 1 Tb butter and let it start cooking while I chop
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (my favorite is a poblano)
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (I used 3 smaller sized)
After the bacon was getting close to being cooked I'd start adding in the chopped ingredients one at a time. So I'd let the onion and pepper cook awhile with the bacon before adding the rest. Then add -
1 Qt chicken broth (mine is always homemade, as I'm always cooking up chicken and then the bones further). Simmer for about 10 minutes. With the bacon, I never add salt and pepper, but you do your own taste test.

Just before serving add some chopped romaine lettuce. You can add 1/2 C cream. I typically slice the lettuce (any kinds, including arugula, kale and spinach - whatever I've got handy) and put a helping in each soup bowl and pour the soup over, then serve with a dollop of homemade yogurt. That way, since we'll have it as a leftover, we'll add fresh lettuce the next time we eat it.

You could top it with some croutons.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Soaked and Dried Nuts and Breakfast Porridge

I've started soaking nuts this year. I've had Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book for years and am just now getting around to reading all the great information - lots of it! - and doing more and more of it's recipes, believing it's philosophy.

For any recipe utilizing grains, it's suggested to soak them for at least 8 hours. I've had a hand grain rolling machine for years and now have it set up in the pantry. The night before, if we're wanting to cook up a cereal for breakfast, we grind it and soak it. Monte's having fun picking different grains I have in jars in the pantry. His proportions are 1/3 C of rolled/cracked grain to 1 C water. You can add a pinch of salt if you like. Nuts could be added to this soaking mixture. Then in the morning gently bring it to simmering. Differing grains take differing times to soak up the liquid. Then we'll add fruit, unsweetened coconut, whey, and sprouted flax meal to it. And of coarse my homemade yogurt.

Soaking Nuts
Why soak nuts? They contain enzyme inhibitors that can put a strain on the digestive system. Let them soak at least 7 hours or overnight (I prefer 12 hours - especially for the almonds). Drain. Spread to dry in either a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12-24 hours till dry and crisp; or dry in a dehydrator. My oven doesn't go that low, so the dehydrator is back in use.  Other than walnuts, that are susceptible to rancidity so should be stored in the refrigerator, all nuts can be stored in airtight container for months. They make great snacks!

4 C nuts
2 tsp sea salt
water to cover
Like I said, soak at least 7 hours or overnight, and then dry.

Crispy Pepitas (4 C raw soaked pumpkin seeds with 2 Tb sea salt)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sauerkraut Stew

Sauerkraut, cauliflower, kale and kielbasa
Sauerkraut, potatoes, and kielbasa sausage has always been a family favorite food combination. Sometimes I'll saute up kielbasa cut in 1/2" slices to brown a bit and then add thin sliced onions and cabbage from our garden, kinda creating a fresh sauerkraut. This alone is great. I'll often add some chicken broth and thicken a bit. This is great over mashed potatoes. Sometimes instead of onions I'll use leeks - love leeks! Lately I'm adding kale and cauliflower. So that's what's pictured here.

1# sliced kielbasa, saute till golden.
1 thin sliced onion or chopped leak (make sure you cut the leek in half vertically and wash out all the dirt before chopping, and I like to use most of the green part too) - cook till they color.
Chopped kale, about 2 C - 4 large leaves (mine is frozen from last year's garden)
1/2 # cauliflower (mine is frozen from my garden)
Then add:
2 C sauerkraut, rinsed (I look for lowest sodium - usually fresh in refrigerator section)
2-4 C chicken broth, depending on how soupy you like it. I'll use the 4 cups broth if I add some potatoes.
Salt and pepper to taste - with the sauerkraut I never salt, unless adding potatoes needs extra flavoring.
We like to serve it with a dollop of homemade yogurt or sour cream.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spice Cake and Caramel Frosting for Birthdays

Will's birthday cake
I've been asked several times for the Spice Cake recipe I use for my favorite cake - My favorite birthday cake since I was a kid. I've been making it for years from The Joy of Cooking cookbook. But, as usual, I don't do the exact recipe...

First off, I have to say, I am not a cake person. I've never loved cakes for dessert, preferring pies, cheesecakes, and now Tiramisu. Also, I rarely eat desserts. I have to choose the types of carbs I consume carefully. I'm pretty good at avoiding store bought desserts and processed flour products. Since the only place my body can grow is out, when I take in foods, they are nutrient rich, phytonutrient rich choices. I even have to limit my homemade breads.

So when it comes to foods with flour, I make everything from home-ground grains. That way I know they are nutrient rich and at their optimal. So I've made all my pie crusts, cookies, and cakes from ground whole grains. For this recipe I use either pastry berries or white wheat, not the red winter wheat berries.

When I look at cakes, all cakes made from cake mixes have a plasticky sheen to them. Maybe my baked goods aren't as light and fluffy, but that's what's been built into our likes from the era when processed flour was introduced as a 'rich mans' food, just like processed white sugar was coveted in the same way.

In the Joy of Cooking, it's the Velvet Spice Cake
but here's my version:

I start by beating
4 lg egg whites 
1/8 tsp cream of tartar, till soft peaks form and gradually add in
1/4 c sugar, till peaks stiffer, but not dry.
I scrape this mixture into another bowl to add in at the end.

Next I beat 
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tb) in my Bosch mixer bowl, with the butter (usually unsalted if I have it) sliced in pieces so the whips don't get bent. And add in
1 1/4 c sugar
Beat in 4 lg egg yolks
Adding in the dry ingredients:
2 1/4 c whole grain flour (and I never sift either)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I do have a cute nutmeg grinder)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grd cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Fold in beaten egg whites.
(The eggs can be done whole, without mixing them separate if you don't mind the cake being denser.)

Pour into greased and floured tube or bundt pan, and it works in a 9x13, or round layered cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes (probably less for round cake pans) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes to invert the cake out of the pan (or just leave it in the 9x13 if you want).

I've loved the flavor of spiced cake with caramel or maple frosting since I was a kid. My mom always made it for me for my birthday, but from boxes and cans. I carried on that tradition, making it for me from scratch for my birthday since I got married.

It's considered a Boiled or Cooked Frosting, and I've been making it from the Joy of Cooking cookbook all these years. But when we moved to 8000 feet elevation in Colorado from Tucson, Arizona, the recipe did not work and I had to do a lot of reading and figuring.

Old-Fashioned Caramel Frosting
In a medium saucepan heat and stir until sugar is dissolved:
2 c packed brown sugar
1 c heavy cream (or 1/2 C butter plus 1/2 C milk)
Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Spoon down any sugar on the sides of the pan and cook uncovered, hardly stirring, until the syrup reaches 238 degrees. Add:
3 Tb butter
Remove from heat and cool to 110 degrees, then stir in:
1 tsp vanilla.

The 238 degrees is where I had to change the recipe (and it has an optional addition of rum flavoring which I don't like). It was in the Joy of Cooking's "Know Your Ingredients" chapter, and maybe under making candy, and maybe even canning, that I figured it out. Cooking and canning temperatures and timings are set for sea level. At 8000 ft I had to lower the temperature 16 degrees (At my elevation, boiling water temp is at 186, which means 20 minutes of waterbath canning time stretches out to 46 minutes!) When making candy, that soft-ball stage at 238 has to lower 1 degree per every 500 feet above sea level.

Once the frosting is cooled and vanilla added you beat it with a hand mixer in the pan (or transfer it to a mixing bowl) till it gets thick and creamy. If too thick you can beat in some cream a tablespoon at a time till spreadable.

The recipe actually makes more frosting than the cake needs, but my kids always wanted the extra to add to their cake slices or spread on ginger cookies or graham crackers. Yummm ....

In Ogema, Wisconsin, Monte's Aunt Ruby makes this cake and frosting. She always brings it to events and I recognize it and we talk about it. She says it's everybody's favorite. Aunt Ruby is the only other person I know who makes it. She raised her family on a dairy farm, so you know her cream had to be the BEST ever! 
Just a side note: The Joy of Cooking has changed over the years and I don't know what's still in the newer versions. I heard it talked of on a program - mainly editing out some of the details and maybe ingredients or recipes that people today don't stock. Hopefully it's still making everything from scratch.
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