Friday, August 29, 2008

vegetable curry

I love curry. I love it. Sadly the east Indian population in the Florida panhandle is non existant and I have had to resort to making Indian flavored food myself.

This dish isn't pretty when it is done, but it is sooooo yummy

I always serve it with long grain brown rice. I like jasmine rice if you can find it, but brown jasmine rice is hard to find! So I just use generic brown rice.

Make your rice however you make your rice.

For the curry. First take about two tablespoons of curry powder or garam masala and toast it in a dry pan until it is fragrant. I usually throw in some cumin also, about one tablespoon. This really brings out the flavor of the curry.

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Remove the curry from the pan and set aside. Then saute one onion and four cloves of garlic in some fat. Ghee is the traditional Indian fat, but I don't usually keep Ghee on hand, so I just use canola oil. Rice oil, while hard to find, is really yummy also. Add to the pan whatever vegetables you like. I usually have cauliflower, green beans, and canned tomatoes, as well as garbanzo beans. I like garbanzo beans in this because I like the flavor and texture. They are also a traditional Indian bean.

I almost always use canned tomatoes when I'm cooking something with tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are delightful, when they are in season and fully ripe. However canned tomatoes are really healthy too and far more delicious than out of season farmed yucky tomatoes. I'm not a big fan of canned foods in general, but canned tomatoes and canned beans have a large place in my cupboard.

Okay, so you add your veggies to the pan (don't drain the tomatoes), then add back your curry powder and then add a can of coconut milk. You can make fresh coconut milk if you want to. I don't. Cook until the veggies are tender and serve over brown rice. The rice and beans in the same meal provide a complete protein too, so this is a great vegetarian option!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Butternut squash soup

I have a dear connection here. There is a farm in Alabama where I get amazing stuff, for very very low prices. The woman who runs it gave me TONS of blueberries earlier this year, enough to put up two dozen pints of blueberry jam and make a couple of blueberry pies and a few dozen blueberry muffins that are in the freezer to pop in the toaster oven in the morning for a quick breakfast.

Well this woman has butternut squash in season right now. I ADORE butternut squash and hers are a beautiful deep orange inside with a sweet and musky aroma. Oh they are amazing. She isn't organic, but she never sprays any of her stuff, she says she just grows it until it is ready to eat. Well I got fifteen butternut squash a few weeks ago for less than five dollars! And yesterday while I was preparing for Fay (which never came) I roasted them!

The easiest way to make butternut squash is to simply roast it in the oven. Cut the stem off the squash then cut it in half lengthwise. Put it cut side down in a 350 oven until the squash is very tender. I can't give times for this since every squash is different in size and tenderness when you first put it in. But when your house starts to smell delightfully like fall, you know it is about time. Take your squash out when it is tender and let it set for about ten minutes. While it is still really REALLY warm, almost to hot to touch scrape out the meat. It will leave the skin pretty regularly when it is hot, but gets much harder when it is cooled.

Now I had a LOT of squash at this point in a big huge bowl. I took a few cups and put it in the blender with some water and then poured that into ice cube trays for baby food for Huckleberry in a few months. He'll be ready for squash in two or three months (I believe firmly in spoon feeding babies around six to eight months, I've seen the research for only letting them do finger foods and I don't agree with it) I then put 8 pints of squash into the freezer for later use.

But the soup. Oh the soup. I get so excited at this soup every year. I stole the basics for the recipe from the back of the Williams-Sonoma jar of butternut squash puree. But you get a tiny jar of butternut squash for like ten dollars, so forget that.

For the soup:
1/2 stick of butter You can use canola oil, but I don't recommend olive oil as it gives the soup a weird flavor. Butter is best. You can also use bacon drippings which are delightful, but we don't eat pork in our house and for health reasons I don't recommend using bacon drippings
2 cooking apples. I almost always use granny smith because they are very easy to find
1 1/2 large sweet onions. Do not use red, white, or plain small yellow onions. You can use shallots in place of the sweet onions, but I like the sweet onions
Saute all of those until they are really tender, but don't allow them to brown. I usually do them on med low heat for close to half an hour, stirring frequently

Next add the meat from about two squash, apx 4 or 5 cups and stir it all together well

Then add some chicken or vegetable stock. I like to use homemade stock, but if you don't have homemade, the stuff in a box will work. I usually add about 3/4 as much stock as squash. This soup is meant to be thick.

Next you want to add your spices. Salt first, apx 2 teaspoons. Cinnamon apx 2 or 3 teaspoons. Ginger powder 1 teaspoon. And dried sage 2 tsp. I don't like fresh sage here because it never blends well enough later, and I don't like biting into a small piece of sage, to much sage flavor.

Finally add some white wine, about 1/2 of a cup of a medium dry to dry white. Gew├╝rztraminer is by far the best choice as it pairs really well with butternut squash, which is hard to pair. Make sure you are buying a wine you would drink, and drink it with your soup!

Cook it all together for ten to fifteen minutes then blend. The easiest way to blend is with a stick blender. Just put that puppy in there and blend away. If you don't have a stick blender you can also blend it in batches in your blender. If you want to get really super fancy about it use a chinois. But honestly that is overkill for most home cooks.

Now if your soup is a bit thick you might want to add a bit more warm stock to the soup.

Serve topped with some yogurt, or creme fraiche, or sour cream, or even Mexican table cream. I've also topped it with sauteed apples and onions before.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yogurt

I love yogurt. It is quite possibly one of my favorite foods, and I love homemade yogurt. Not only do I save a ton of money making it myself, but it tastes so much better that way! Plus I'm reusing glass containers so I'm not worried about funky chemicals leeching into my or my kids yogurt, nor am I worried about adding waste to the environment.

I usually make yogurt on Mondays. It just seems to be the day we need it and sure enough I used my last container of yogurt today to make breakfast for the bee. I took my yogurt, threw in some canned mandarin oranges and some fresh blueberries and she went to town. She likes plain yogurt too, no sugar, no fruit. Since we don't eat much food with unnatural white sugar in it, she doesn't have a super sweet tooth.

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Yogurt is so versatile in my kitchen. I strain the whey out of it and make yogurt cheese which I then use to spread on bread. I use it to make smoothies of course. Throw in an overripe frozen banana and some frozen berries and maybe a touch of maple syrup. The perfect afternoon "milkshake" for the bee! Or her mom.... You can use it in place of buttermilk if you want some tangy flavor in pancakes or waffles. Seriously just do a google search on yogurt and see what you get. amazing sauces too! Greeks and Indians do AMAZING things with yogurt.

Yogurt is high in protein, good fats (if you use unhomogenized milk), and all those probiotics that our digestive tracts crave. The bee has only had two stomach bugs in her short little life, which is pretty amazing for a two year old who was formula fed! I've made sure she gets plenty of probiotics from the beginning, and she has always had great health. I think a lot of that has to do with the yogurt she eats on a regular basis.

Easy to make too, and MUCH cheaper than store bought. My yogurt costs me between 25 and thirty cents a cup, where the organic in the store is at least one dollar a cup, usually more. I have a friend who makes coconut milk/cashew milk yogurt all the time too! There are great vegan yogurt options out there too!

Homemade yogurt:

1 quart organic, raw (if possible) or unhomogenized milk
1 T. yogurt from a previous batch or 1 package yogurt starter

There you go, that is your ingredient list!
bring your milk to 160 degrees. Do NOT let it get above that or boil. Bring temperature back down to 110 degrees and then mix the starter or the yogurt with a half a cup of milk and stir until well blended. Mix the milk/starter back into the entire milk quantity and then you can put it into small containers in a yogurt maker, or a quart jar in a warm oven overnight. Warm oven is an oven with the pilot light on. I also know people that wrap a towel around a mason jar, wrap that with a heating pad on low, and wrap it again with a towel. I wouldn't do this overnight though because I'm scared of fire. Leave it for 10-12 hours and then refrigerate. Easy

Thursday, August 14, 2008

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This is how I start my day about four days a week. I put wheat berries into my grain mill and hook it up to my reliable kitchen aid and mill. Then I make bread.

And It is wonderful

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

turning off the AC

I'm hot.

I'm sick today, so is the bee. Lots of tummy pangs and a slight fever. ewwwww

So we bumped up the AC in our house again and now we are sitting at 86 degrees during the day, though I have to have it at 74 to sleep at night. I truly don't think I can go an INCH higher, and it always clicks on around five in the afternoon anyways. The kids run around in just diapers because it is hot.

Florida sucks.

Why are we doing this? For one, we are cheap cheap cheap people. I hate to pay for ANYTHING, especially cooled air which is such a crazy luxury. Most people in the world, do just fine with it, their bodies just acclimate to the heat.

But beyond that we are trying to limit our use of oil and energy as much as possible. I don't believe in global warming. Especially in light of the fact that in the past ten years temperatures haven't warmed AT ALL, and this past year they have actually fallen globally. I DO however believe that as humans we have a responsibility to the earth to take care of it. I think that humans have caused major problems with their pollution, dead spots in the oceans, mercury levels that are INSANE in rivers and oceans, use of pestacides that cause cancer, etc... So I believe that we should try and limit our usage of energy if possible.

I also think we have to do this for national and global security. Russia is at war with Georgia right now, and it is TOTALLY over oil! I will not comment publicly anymore about US actions because of my husbands job, though I will say that I always support our troops and am grateful for what they do! I do believe in peak oil, and I think that nations will REALLY start to go to war for oil fairly soon. I would rather this be later than sooner, and I feel like perhaps by turning up my AC I can make a small difference.

Friday, August 8, 2008

GMO sugar ew

So GMO beet sugar will be hitting cereals made by Kellogg and Hershey's products. Not that we eat those products a lot as it is, but now even less.

It is pretty darn obvious to me that we shouldn't screw with Nature. No matter your view on God, I think we can ALL agree that a normal everyday tomato is much healthier for you than one that has been changed and created in a lab.

If you aren't familiar with
genetically modified organism go and research. Basically big food companies are screwing with the plants that we eat to make them more resistant to disease, herbicides and able to produce FAR more sugar like the sugar beets mentioned above as well as corn syrup.

Many if not most commercial packaged foods contain GMO ingredients. This is one of the MANY MANY reasons that we avoid prepackaged foods if at all possible.

This is also one of the MANY MANY reasons I'm looking forward to being more settled for a few years so I can garden again! Oh I miss my garden!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

black bean soup

I ADORE black bean soup. Like I dream about it sometimes is how much I adore it. And the bee will take any kind of bean and eat them up no problem. Sometimes when I'm feeling lazy I'll open a can of garbanzo beans and throw them in a sauce pan with a little bit of olive oil and a LOT of cumin and some salt. Oh my goodness it is SO GOOD! Inspired by my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant In the spring, for like two seconds they have fresh garbanzo beans IN THE POD covered with cumin and fried and you have to suck the beans out of the pod. It was seriously one of the bees first foods. She ate a TON of them and that was a gross few days, okay TMI. ewwwwww geesh Okay back on topic


Okay back to the black bean soup. I'll be making Saturday, but I'm planning today. I've got some awesome friends coming into town tomorrow and I don't know what plans will be like for food tomorrow, so the soup for lunch on Saturday. I'll post pictures of it after I make it. Black bean soup is another of my favorite lazy meals. it is so so easy!

Oh but it is SUPER easy, and really good for you. Beans are full of fiber and protein and all sorts of stuff that makes your body happy. However beans aren't a full protein so you need to eat them with some sort of grain. Think rice and beans, or cornbread and beans or my awesome bread that I made today and beans. All good stuff. My black bean soup and a piece of cornbread maybe with a dollop of sour cream. Oh I'm so excited.

If you are concerned with gas or aren't used to eating beans an overnight soak will really help with this problem. However if you eat enough beans your body will adjust and you'll be able to process them better.

Black bean soup by me.

Soak 1 lb black beans overnight.
Discard soaking liquid
Cover beans with water, just enough to cover them.
Cook on a simmer for about three hours, until soft.
drain, reserving liquid
process 2/3 of the beans in a food processer or blender until well blended, adding some liquid back if necissary
Open a can of your favorite salsa and dump that in
maybe two if you want some added spice
adjust liquid with the bean liquor till it is how it looks good to you
top with some sour cream and chives or green onions

A milk question

Anyway, I don't give my son milk (he's 2) but he really wanted some rice milk today--and drank it right down. Have you read anything that would give cause for concern about Rice Dream milk?


Okay, I am NOT a nutrition expert, or a dietitian or anything like that so make sure you talk to a physician and do your own research before you take my advice :)

Rice milk, isn't milk or related to milk. It is a carbohydrate product and doesn't contain any of the protein, fat, or vitamins and minerals that milk contains. So if you aren't giving your child cow or goat milk, you need to make sure your child is getting enough fats, proteins, and calcium from other sources. Remember also that vitamin D and A are added to all commercial milks, so you want to make sure that your child is getting those also. Most people can get enough vitamin D from the sunshine during the summer months, but in much of the country some need to supplement during the winter months.

Young children especially need a LOT of fat in their diet. If you look at breast milk, it is almost 50% fat as is infant formula. Fat, especially saturated fat, is essential for healthy brain development in children and infants. I think that the USDA guidelines to reduce fat at the age of two needs to be revised. A high fat diet is perfectly healthy for children beyond the age of two if they have a diet that is VERY low in processed foods, and high in whole natural foods. My two year old is not skinny, but far far far from fat (as can be confirmed by anybody who has seen her in person Michelle, comment LOL) She still eats a lot of butter, coconut oil, whole milk, etc... If she starts to show signs of gaining weight in an unnatural way, then I'll look at her diet again, but for now she is fine on a higher fat diet.

I would like to discuss raw milk, but in my state it is legal for pet consumption only. So I encourage you to check out the real milk website and make an informed decision on milk.

If you are concerned about the hormones and chemicals in milk, I encourage you to buy organic milk! We will not drink milk, or eat dairy products that are not from organic cows. I will not feed my children, or myself foods that could be loaded with extra hormones! I've got enough hormone issues in my body, I don't need to compound it.

I've got mixed feelings on soy milk. I think that soy can be a valuable additive to our diet, but needs to be used like all things in moderation. I don't like commercial soy milk, and much prefer homemade soy milk. I'll make up a batch of soy milk in the next few weeks and post about it then!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

French Toast

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You can once again see my love for bananas as I have to add them to everything!

This morning I made french toast, which is an easy breakfast that has lots of flavor and protein!

There is nothing easier than french toast, and since my mom is coming into town today I needed some comfort food! Breakfast usually isn't this heavy in my house, especially in the summer, but today, well comfort food was needed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gardasil and paralysis

So I've been reading about gardasil and how it has been causing some paralysis amongst girls who have gotten it.

It pisses me off. Here is this big pharmaceutical company who is looking to make a TON of money off of this, and they pushed it through the FDA quickly because it prevents cancer oh my.

I've got several problems with this. First, can we PLEASE teach our children the realities of sex. I think that with sexual freedom, especially the sexual freedom of the past few years, girls are ignoring safety in sex. And I'm in favor of abstinence teaching, but we also have to face the reality that we live in a sexual culture and people are going to have sex. Can we please focus on abstinence being the safest bet, but if you aren't going to be abstinent here is how to be safe. And can we PLEASE tell young people that it can be DANGEROUS to have sex with multiple partners. We should be encouraging monogamy and limiting your sexual desires! But I think we live in this era of McDonalds instant gratification and it has taken away the use of your brain when it comes to sex.

So because of this unsafe attitude toward sex, we have lots of girls getting HPV. Well drug companies see a chance to make money, and they get this on the market with very few test cases. But they can use the scare tactic that you'll get cancer without this vaccine. Well maybe. But once again if we were teaching our kids about safe sex and LIMITING YOUR PARTNERS, then we wouldn't be facing such a big crisis either.

I wouldn't get my child this vaccine, though I would make her aware of a HPV vaccine and if she would choose to get it, fine. But what I want to encourage in my children is healthy choices. And that includes limiting your sexual desires, a choice it seems fewer and fewer teens are making these days.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

money money money

So I've in three posts gotten the money question twice :)

Okay here goes.

I'll start with the wheat. I buy my wheat in bulk and mill it myself. Since I bake my own bread I'm looking at a little over one dollar a loaf. Even wonderbread is more expensive than that, and wonderbread just kills your body. Now there is a large initial investment to get started with fresh milled grains. You need a grain mill (and I'll blog eventually on what ones I like and why) and you need grain. A six gallon bucket is right around fifty lbs of grain, and can be had for around 35 dollars a bucket for conventional and 45 for organic. I will spend the extra if we have it on the organic, since we do eat a loaf of bread every other day or so.

The milk I purchase is the same price as organic milk in the grocery store. So no worries there, I just get mine from the farmer.

My eggs are also from the farmer, and are a little more expensive than supermarket eggs, but they taste SO GOOD. I'm paying around 3.25 for a dozen of eggs right now.

I purchase meat in bulk. Last summer we bought 1/4 of a side of beef. The beef was fully pastured and had never been given any grain. No it wasn't organic, but the farmer just let the cows eat his unsprayed fields like nature intended. He didn't want to get certified organic because of the hassle of the government, but this beef is organic, without the title. No hormones, no antibiotics, no pesticides. This was a five hundred dollar initial expense, but the meat was 2.50 a lb! We are getting amazing rib eye steaks for only 2.50 a lb. If you can buy meat in bulk it will save you a TON of money!

We did the same with chickens, but our farmer was a liar and screwed us, so I don't want to talk about my chickens LOL

The area that is the hardest for me is produce. We do use a lot of frozen veggies because organic frozen veggies are cheaper than fresh. It was so cheap and easy to do organic produce when we lived in Oakland, but here it is tough. However there are some great local farms around here that once again aren't certified organic, but don't spray their crops. There is one bio dynamic farm that I'm really excited to work with who is starting a buying club. Most places in the country have some local farms and you can find them at Local Harvest

A big way to make a dent in your food budget is to eat in season and preserve your food if possible. Tomatoes in august are a joy, but tomatoes from the supermarket in February taste awful for three times the price. So take your tomatoes in august and put them up and enjoy the yumminess in February.

But a big part of it for us is we don't do "extras" in our life. No cell phone, temp on the AC set at eighty, open windows as often as we can, driving as little as possible etc... Because we are frugal in other areas of our life we do have a bit more wiggle room on our food budget. Even with that our entire food budget for the four of us is right around five hundred dollars a month.

it is to hot!

It is HOT where I live. Really, really hot. I know the navy will take me away from this hotness eventually, but right now, it is BLAZING hot in this town.

So what do you do when it is hot. Not much! And the most important thing is you cook outside if you can.

So I decided on a quick and easy grilled dinner of chicken apple sausages, eggplant, tomato avocado salad, and grilled bananas for dessert. I did use commercial chicken apple sausages and commercial whole wheat hot dog buns. I'm planning on tackling homemade buns in the next few weeks, but it has been a long day, so we used the name brand "whole wheat" ones.

First the tomato avocado salad

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I had a couple of tomatoes on my counter that needed to be used yesterday probably. They were from a local farmer and SO SO good! There is nothing better than a real ripe tomato in the middle of the summer that has been allowed to ripen on the vine. I also picked up a couple of avocados at the store today. When I make this salad I always get avocados that are still fairly firm to the touch. While you want to have the skin yield, only slightly so that the avocado holds its texture in the salad and it doesn't turn into guacamole. Basically it is diced avocado and diced tomato with freshly milled sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little olive oil. I almost always add fresh cilantro, but for some reason I didn't buy any today. I don't have an herb garden, even in pots here, because our time here is so unstable. We could be moving with little or no notice in the next couple of months, or be here another year.

Now onto my FAVORITE way to eat eggplant

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I always salt my eggplant an hour or so before I cook it. Lay the pieces out and liberally sprinkle kosher salt all over them. It helps to remove the bitterness and makes them nice and creamy when you cook them.

Get your grill nice and hot for this one. While the grill is heating make a marinade out of olive oil, dry thyme, and very fine chopped garlic. Use a basting brush and paint the eggplant and place oil side down on the hot flame. while it is cooking paint the other side. The garlic gets crispy and delightful! We have this ONCE A WEEK, it is so good!

I am a huge banana person and seriously would eat like four a day if I could!
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these guys don't look so appealing, but ohhhhh are they lovely. They are even better with vanilla or chocolate ice cream. take your bananas and split them in half, then again lengthways. then pour a bit of honey on the flat side of the banana. Sprinkle on top of that some sugar (I use turbanado for this, succanat is WAY to strong) and cinnamon. let that set for a while to "melt" Then put them flat side down on a HOT grill. Usually they get lovely grill marks, but I was in a hurry tonight to get my bananas!

There we go. A delicious and healthy dinner for my family! Yummy

Whole wheat Banana Pancakes

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This morning we had a DELIGHTFUL breakfast of whole wheat banana pancakes. The grain I used was a soft wheat, freshly milled of course. Soft white wheat has as VERY mild flavor, unlike for example hard red wheat, which has the nutty flavor commonly associated with whole wheat. I used these amazing eggs I found locally and the bee helped me mix the milk mixture up.

When I'm making pancakes I really like to use sour milk. I'm not talking the putrid milk that happens to pasteurized milk, but the gentle souring of raw milk. If you are at all concerned about the souring of milk, just remember than you are cooking your pancakes high enough temperatures to kill any buggies that might be hanging out in your sour milk. If you don't have any sour milk, buttermilk makes a wonderful substitute. I seldom make buttermilk so I seldom have it on hand.

I fried these puppies up in some sweet butter. I like the little bit extra saltiness that the sweet butter adds to the crunch on the outside.

you can use any pancake recipe that you have, though for pancakes I don't generally use a recipe, but I'll try and translate what I did for banana pancakes.

2 c. freshly milled soft wheat flour
1 T. baking powder (use and Aluminum free one)
1 t. salt (I use milled sea salt)
2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. sour milk or buttermilk
2 large eggs (fresh, organic, pastured if possible)
1 T. Honey or evaporated cane juice
1 t. vanilla
3 very ripe bananas, thinly sliced

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet together in another bowl. add wet to dry and stir until JUST MOISTENED all the way. If you stir longer the pancakes will get tough. Mix in the banana slices. Fry on med low in butter until tops look 'dry' then flip.

You can also use this exact same recipe and replace the bananas with blueberries or other berries. I almost always have a bunch of frozen berries in my freezer and I don't even bother to thaw them, just toss a few on top of every pancake as I put it on the griddle.

the Beginning of a new blog

Some of you may have stumbled here from my my adoption blog/life blog and some may have found me by google searching freshly milled grain, or whole wheat baking, or something of the sort. No matter how you stumbled across this blog, welcome!

This is primarily my food blog. Now within food blogging I also talk about issues that I'm passionate about, including organics, local eating, freshly milled grains, free range animals treated and killed in humane manners, raw milk, etc... Also I'll be talking about green living, which is so my kids can grow up in a chemical free environment, and hopefully pass that on to their children. Preparedness is a topic that I'm finding myself more and more passionate about, as I see some coming collapse to our way of life. I want to make sure that my family and those around me can eat if we lose our food resource. Hopefully with our next move I'll be able to have the garden and chickens that I so often dream of!

We have made a pretty big change in our house and kitchen in the past few years. I think we probably eat close to 90% whole foods. I grind my own wheat for bread. I can and freeze food in season. We don't use white flour and we use VERY VERY little white sugar (though I have not found a good substitute for powdered sugar yet.) We eat butter, real butter, sometimes homemade. We use real cream in our coffee. We eat beef that was raised on grass and not grain, and eat eggs that come from chickens that wander around pecking at the dirt and eating grubs, and those eggs have bright yolks that are a vivid orange.

So there we go.

Welcome