Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review - Eating on the Wild Side

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

Ok, I have to admit that when I first saw this book, I thought it would be about foraging for edible weeds or perhaps interesting venison cookery. I was delighted to find, however, that it's chock-full of real, helpful information for people interested in getting the most nutrition out of their food, but who prefer to get their food from the garden, farmer's market, or grocery store.

The book covers most of the common fruits and vegetables commonly available in the U.S., discussing the plant's history (did you know most of today's sweet corn was developed from seeds exposed to the nuclear radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima?), nutritional profile (artichokes have one of the best antioxidant profile of any food found in the grocery store!), preparation tips (believe it or not, you can get more antioxidants out of blueberries if you cook them), and a list of the best varieties to look for in the grocery store, farmer's market, or seed catalog (for example, a Fuji apple has more phytonutrients than a Braeburn).

This book is such a wealth of information for anyone looking to get the best nutrition from their food choices (I will definitely be buying myself a copy - I know I'll be looking back for tips, both when I'm perusing the seed catalogs in January and planning my family's meals each day). What a find!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wild Child

This afternoon my seven year old daughter walked in the door with her shirt made into a big basket full of these beauties:

Thankfully, I knew they were tasty, edible meadow mushrooms (also known as “pinks” because of their pink gills) – I’d researched them extensively when we found some a few weeks ago, and I’d actually harvested some on my morning walk earlier today.

We also found some small puffball mushrooms (which are basically like giant marshmallows (in appearance and texture, not in flavor!), but I found that it’s kind of hard to say "marshmallow mushrooms" correctly unless you really think about it – but maybe that’s just me). So we froze the pinks for later and sauteed the puffballs to go on our burgers for supper (along with some onion and green pepper, of course. Mmmmm).

My kids have gained quite the reputation for harvesting wild foods – so much so, in fact, that my sister-in-law has given her three year old son the rule, “Only eat things out of the yard if your cousins give them to you!” Apparently her lawn is full of tasty plantain, purslane, and wood sorrel

Monday, August 12, 2013

Making a Sourdough Starter from Scratch

I published this earlier as part of another post, but it seems that some friends had trouble finding it. To make it easier, I'll share it again here.

If you don't have a starter culture, the easiest and cheapest way to get one is to "catch" your own: Here's my adaptation of Sally Fallon's recipe from Nourishing Traditions:

Starter (takes one week):
Mix two cups freshly ground flour (rye works best, but wheat is fine too) and two cups water in a glass bowl. Mixture will be very soupy. Cover with a cloth attached with a rubber band and let sit in a warm place.

The next day, and every day for the rest of the week, mix in 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup water. Cover and let stand. After a few days the starter will begin to bubble and develop a wine-like smell. 
After 7 days the starter should be ready to use (although it will get stronger as it ages, producing lighter breads). Once the starter is ready, you can either keep it on the counter and keep using and feeding it, or it can be stored in the refrigerator if you can't bake that often. If you do put it in the fridge, make sure to pull it out and feed it at least 12 hours before you mix up your recipe, to give the bacteria a chance to "wake up" and get growing again.
Now, what to do with all of that extra starter? How about making some pizza crust? or pancakes? or waffles? or tortillas? or (my favorite) cranberry cinnamon rolls?)

For more information on sourdoughs and starters, try the book Wild Bread by Lisa Rayner or the blog Sourdough Home.
Ooh! I couldn't find this when I first posted, but I stumbled upon it again - this is a wonderful video about sourdough starters from gnowfglins. My kids even enjoyed watching it with me (can you say homeschool science for the day?)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Easy Lacto-Fermented Salsa

Salsa making season is upon us! Here's my favorite recipe (love the great probiotics - not to mention the fact that you can make as much or as little as you like!) 

Lacto-Fermented Salsa
1 quart chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp snipped fresh chives (dried spices work fine, too)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 chopped jalapeno peppers
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cilantro (use more if using fresh)
1 Tbsp sea salt
Mix all together and fill desired jars, leaving 1-inch head space. (If you have whey on hand, it helps to put about 1/4 cup on the top of each jar, to kick-start the lacto-fermentation. Or you can sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the salsa in the jar rather than mixing it in - this can help prevent mold forming on the top of your mixture.) Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days, "burping" the jar regularly to release pressure. After three days, move the jars to a refrigerator or cool cellar for long-term storage.

(For an even stronger dose of probiotics, you can use a heremes jar and ferment it in a cupboard for 4 weeks (read the Saurkraut Survivor post for more information). After that time, transfer to the refrigerator.) 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Easy Small Batch Honey and Wax Strainer

With all of the bee drama settled for the moment, it was time to get at straining out the honey and the wax. Since the mostly empty comb I'd collected from the first hive had been thrown hastily on the ground in the craziness of re-hiving the swarm, it had gotten ants on it, so the first thing I did was put it in a kettle, weighted down by a plate (wax floats), to drown the ants. I let that sit overnight.

Then I found this ingenious idea on backyardhive.com - for small quantities of comb, simply mash it well with a fork (or potato masher)
put it into a quart-sized mason jar, cover the jar with a bit of window screen, screw the ring down to hold the screen in place, and tip it over onto a second jar. On the site they duct taped two large-mouth jars together; I simply used a narrow-mouth jar on top, which fitted nicely into the opening on the wide mouth jar on the bottom.
I found that the honey would stop dripping after a while, but that if you tipped it, a big air bubble would make its way through the honey still in the top jar, and this would let more honey run down into the bottom jar. To solve this problem, I wedged the jars between a picture on the wall and my cheese slicer (feel free to use whatever you have on hand - lol!) so that the air wouldn't get captured and stop the honey flow. I also just happened to have a batch of chicken stock simmering in the slow cooker, so I moved the honey jars next to that, hoping the extra warmth would help the honey flow.

The next morning, I found my first honey harvest strained and waiting for me - a full pint of sweet golden goodness! (Even though I have some older honey I'd purchased previously, I'll be using this up first, since most of the honey cells weren't capped. That means it has a higher moisture content than capped honey, so it's less antibacterial than properly dried honey, so it could possibly go bad sooner. Better safe than sorry - I'd hate to waste my first honey harvest! Of course the first thing we made was a batch of pumpkin spice honey butter. It made the whole bee drama a little more worth it!)

Once I'd gotten the honey out, I melted the wax in a double boiler, poured it into the narrow-mouth quart jar, and strained it the same way I'd done with the honey. This was a little more tricky, since the wax hardened quickly, and I had to keep re-melting it before I could get it all through the strainer (I tried a few different ways of doing this - the best way I found was to keep scooping it out of the top jar and re-melting it every so often. A bit putzy, but it worked. I also tried putting it in the oven along with a batch of pumpkin pie bars I was baking (yes, I know it's July, but the honey butter got me in the mood for pumpkin pie). When I took the jars out of the oven, though, the wax was bubbling, which apparently is a no-no (although the only reason why that I've seen for not boiling it was that it makes the wax darker, which I'm not super concerned about).

When you're done, the bottom jar will have a lovely hard layer of yellow wax, with some runny brown stuff on the bottom. It can be a bit tricky getting the wax out of the jar (without splashing the nasty brown stuff all over your shirt, anyway - don't ask how I know). The easiest way I found was to put the jar in the freezer, and the wax will contract and come out of the jar much more easily. If you leave it too long, the brown stuff will freeze too, but just defrost it in a bowl and then you can rinse it off in the sink.

With all of the honey and wax strained out, I was left with little brown lumps of pollen that wouldn't flow through the strainer. These are very high in protein, and can be frozen and saved to feed to your bees next summer (instead of buying "pollen patties"). I won't be giving them to my bees, since I baked them, but I'm assuming they'll also make a good protein supplement for my chickens.

So, ready or not, I've dealt with my first swarm, and completed my first harvest! 

Bee Drama

In case you were wondering what NOT to do when raising bees, here are a few ideas:

Sunday afternoon, after transplanting iris, daylilly, and blazing star flowers that were growing wild along our fenceline (moving them to the flower bed in front of the house - I love free flowers!), I went to chat with my husband, who'd just finished digging a new strawberry hugulkultur bed between the apple trees (I want to try Herrick Kimball's "Hugelberry" idea from his new book The Planet Whizbang Idea Book for Gardeners). We were both tired and ready to break for supper, but as we were talking, I just happened to look out into the field behind our house, and saw this:
Of course, having read just about every beekeeping book and blog there is, I recognized it immediately. My bees had swarmed!

(sorry it's fuzzy, but my daughter wasn't getting anywhere near those bees with the camera!)

Now what? I'd read enough to know that catching a swarm is fairly easy (if you're quick and they don't fly away before you get there), but you have to have some kind of box to put them in. After wracking my brain for a bit, I remembered that I still had the cages I'd brought the bees home in - perfect. I fetched one out of the garage and, along with my pruners, went to work. I cut off the branch a little before and after where the swarm was hanging, so that I could maneuver the whole thing more easily to shake them down into the box. It all went smoothly, and I brought the box back to the lawn until I could figure out what to do with it. While I was at the tree, however, I saw that there was another bunch of bees clinging to the trunk. I had another bee cage, so I figured I'd go and collect those, too. I brushed them off of the trunk with my bee brush as well as I could, then covered that cage and put it by the other one.

It's a good thing that I went back for that second bunch - judging by the number of still-loose bees that were collected around the outside of the cage, the queen was in that second batch.
With the swarm captured, I had time to take a deep breath, shake out the adrenaline jitters, and calmly assess the situation.

First up - where was I going to put this new bee colony? I didn't have any more hives, so what was I going to do with them? I quickly went online and looked up how to make a basic hive box, figuring we could cobble something together and then make a decent floor and roof for it later. My husband was not sure that was such a good idea, and flat out said that I should just release the swarm and prepare better for next time. But, at my obvious distress, he set to work building a quick hive box. Thankfully, we already had the necessary wood, so he just had to cut it and screw it together.

The next thing to do was to find out which hive the bees had come from. "Check Bees" had been on my to-do list for over a week, but I'd been busy with other things and hadn't gotten around to it. Obviously I shouldn't have put it off!

When I looked in the first hive, I figured it was the one that had swarmed - there were hardly any bees in it - maybe a hundred or so. When I looked in the second hive, however, I was puzzled. This hive was chock-full - only one frame hadn't been drawn out, and - oho! - there were queen cells in the top box. Since overcrowding was usually the cause of a swarm, and this hive was making new queens, the swarm must have come from this colony. So why were there so few bees in the first hive?

Still trying to work that one out, I realized that the first thing to be done was to make more room in the overcrowded hive. I grabbed my giant 5-gallon kettle and harvested four frames of comb. Hopefully that will give them enough room so they don't need to swarm again soon.

But now back to that first hive - what was going on there? Why were there so few bees? I looked again at the comb, and saw that there were no bee babies at all, and no honey, just some cells half-full of pollen. Something was very wrong. No larva meant no queen. No queen meant the colony would slowly die out. It was worse than I thought.

Then it struck me - this was the solution to my swarm relocation problem. It was only a matter of time until the first colony died out altogether, so why not clear them out and put the new swarm in their hive? There was a risk, of course, that the first colony had succumbed to disease - but if my choices were take a chance on disease or lose the swarm, I figured it was worth a try.

So I took out all of the comb, brushed most of the bees out of the hive, and shook out the boxes containing the swarm into the now-empty hive. I closed it all up, said a prayer that this cockamamie jerry-rigged idea would somehow work, and went to deal with the combs I'd harvested.

I had been very careful to brush off any bees that were on the comb from the second hive before I put the comb into the kettle and covered it (I definitely didn't want any bees in the house!) but when I came back to the kettle, there were bees in it! Very pale, disoriented-looking bees. I soon realized that those bees had just hatched out of the brood comb! About 1/4 of the comb I'd harvested turned out to have brood in it. With an inward cringe, I realized I would have to pick out all of the bee babies before I could process the honey and wax (to make it a little easier on my over-emotional adrenaline-pumped mind - waste not want not - I fed that brood comb to the chickens).

Once all of the brood comb had been picked off (I used a fork), I took the rest of the comb into the kitchen to process.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bees - first check

This morning I checked on the two hives of bees I bought and installed 10 days ago. I checked my top bar hive (Hive 1) first. Everything looked great! The bees were drawing comb off of the bars, there was still plenty of honey left in the jar, the queen had been released, and everything was humming along nicely. I moved back the follower board to give them more room, took out the queen cage, closed them back up, and that was that. The bees stayed calm (it helped that it was only 60 degrees out and they were cold).

The Warre hive (Hive 2), however, was another story. When I removed the top box, I found comb hanging everywhere but where it was supposed to be. The jar of honey I'd left for them was completely empty, but they'd built comb on top of it, rising up in a ring, continuing the shape of the jar. I'd taken out three frames to make room for the jar, and the bees had built comb off the bottom of the frames above, down into the opening next to the jar. So basically I had to remove all of the comb they'd built over the course of the week. I also found that the queen was still in her cage, so I carefully removed her and dropped her in the hive. Thankfully, that means there wasn't any brood in any of the combs (and no honey that I could see, either).

So basically this means that Hive 2 is starting over from scratch. I'll give them more honey (using the feeder this time) so hopefully they can bounce back after this early setback.

This means that right off the bat the top bar hive is showing a lead on the Warre - but that may just be because the queen wasn't released and I didn't use the feeder like I should have. We'll see how each progresses over the course of the summer (and winter - I'm very nervous to see if either of them make it through!)
Some of the drawn comb I had to remove from Hive 2

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fudgy Maple Syrup Brownies

This has become my go-to dessert recipe; my husband asks for it all the time (and my brother- and sister-in-law always request it when we visit them on Friday nights (with homemade ice cream on the side, of course!)
And of course I always oblige, because they're so easy to make!
Fudgy Maple Syrup Brownies
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
Mix all together, pour into 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chocolate Whipped Cream

I made this as the frosting on my husband's birthday cake today - yum! And so easy!

Chocolate Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
Mix cream and cocoa powder well, then whip until soft peaks form. Slowly drizzle in the maple syrup and continue to whip until stiff.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Upcycled dish scrubbie

I'm kind of ashamed that I didn't think of this sooner - instead of buying those plastic dish scrubbies, you can get the same effect by cutting a piece off of an empty orange bag. We've been using the one in the picture below for about a month now, and I'm amazed at how well it works (and how long it lasts!)

Rye/Wheat vs. Rye/White Bread Bake-off

After learning how much more phytase (which of course neutralizes the mineral-binding phytate) rye flour has than wheat, and reading how the healthy remote Swiss studied by Weston Price lived on mainly rye bread and dairy products, I've been trying to use more rye flour in my bread making. Unfortunately, using 100% rye flour makes for a very dense loaf (especially with my sourdough recipe), so I've been mixing rye flour and white all-purpose flour in my bread lately, thinking whole wheat would still be too heavy. On a whim, I decided to try a side-by-side comparison of a half whole wheat/half rye loaf of pumpkin sourdough bread, and another using the same recipe, but with half white flour and half rye. Here were the results:
The loaf on the left is the one with white flour, and as you can see it did rise a little bit more (which caused it to crack around the bottom). I had flattened it a bit more when I put it on the pan, so it's a bit wider, but pretty much as tall, as the whole wheat loaf on the right. All in all, though, the difference is too small to convince me the loss of nutrition is worth it, so I think I'll be using the whole wheat rather than the white flour.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Super Sauerkraut

It's finally done! Isn't it pretty?

I've made sauerkraut once before, using the "Three days on the counter in a mason jar" method, and it was good, but then I read the Sauerkraut Survivor series and realized I might not be getting as much probiotic bacteria as I thought.

So I started looking around for a better system, even going so far as to order a Pickle-Pro lid on Amazon (which I never did use, but I'm thinking it will be great for when I make apple cider vinegar this fall). But before my pickle-pro arrived in the mail, I found these clamp-top jars at my local Farm & Fleet store (which were what I really wanted in the first place), so I grabbed two, ran over to the food co-op and bought a head of organic red cabbage, and giddily drove home to make some kraut!

The actual recipe is so simple - just slice up your kraut, let the salt bring out the juices, and let it sit in the cupboard for a month (that's the hard part!)

Here are the more technical directions:

Super Sauerkraut
Quarter, core, and shred cabbage, discarding outer leaves. Put in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sea salt (or ½ Tbsp sea salt plus ¼ cup leftover kraut juice from previous batch). Cover bowl with a tea towel and set aside. After about a half hour, stir, then recover and set aside for another half hour. Stir again; at this point it should be getting juicy (no pounding required - let the salt do the work for you!) Transfer cabbage to a sterilized fermenting jar. Press down firmly to remove any air gaps and pack cabbage tightly, leaving 1” head space (actually, according to this, you don't have to have the brine covering the cabbage if you use the clamp-top gasket jar). Attach cover according to jar directions and keep in a dark place at room temperature for four weeks. Best eaten 4-8 weeks after initial shredding. Refrigerate after opening.

Of course, you can do this with green cabbage to make a "normal" looking kraut, but I like using the red cabbage because it makes such a bright presentation.

Here's to homemade probiotics!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Homemade Press-less Raw Cheddar Cheese

When a friend of mine told me she made shreddable, meltable cheddar-style cheese in her kitchen at home - without a cheese press - AND that she would be willing to show me how, you can imagine how thrilled I was! When she added that the milk is only heated up to 100 degrees - so technically it can be a raw cheese (if you have a source of raw milk that you trust) - I could barely contain myself. We've finished off the last of our store-bought cheese and are now eating exclusively home made - no more colorings and questionable milk! (If your kids are put off by the fact that it isn't orange, you can buy coloring, or experiment with home-made colorings.)

Press-less Farmhouse Cheddar
(This recipe makes about 3 pounds of cheese. You can certainly make a smaller batch if you prefer, simply divide the recipe accordingly.)
3 gallons milk
3/4 tsp mesophilic culture
1/2 tablet rennet
2-3 Tbsp cheese salt (when I made this with sea salt, it didn't turn out right - I'm not sure if it was the salt, or if I did something wrong. Please leave a comment if you know about this.)

I make this recipe in a big 21 quart canning kettle, which will hold all 3 gallons of milk. Actually, I use two, one for the main cooking kettle and one nested under it for a water bath. You'll need to heat the milk slowly, so a water bath is very helpful.

Heat your milk to 88 degrees F, then add the culture powder and mix it in thoroughly. Cover and let stand for about 40 minutes.

Break a rennet tablet in half and place one piece in 1/4 cup cold water. Dissolve the tablet completely, then pour it into the cultured milk, stirring it in gently. Cover again and let sit for 40 more minutes, until the curd separates out (it will look like very thick yogurt, and if you pull it away from the side, watery yellowish whey will fill in the gap). Cut the curd into half-inch cubes (using a long knife, cut one way, all the way to the bottom of the pan, making slits a half inch apart, then do the same in the opposite direction to make half-inch squares. Then as best you can, cut diagonally to get as close to cubes as possible.)

Heat the water in the lower kettle until the curds reach 100 degrees, making sure to go slowly - the curds should only gain 2 degrees every 5 minutes. The whole heating time should be around 30 minutes. Stir the curds gently up from the bottom every so often to keep the curds from matting. You will notice that there is a LOT more whey.

Once you're up to 100 degrees, cover your kettle and let the curds sit for 10-15 minutes. Then drain as much whey as you can without losing any curd (save the whey! You can use it to make ricotta, save it for boosting your sauerkraut or other ferments, feed it to your chickens (whey is high in protein, so it makes a good supplement to their feed. Better yet, soak their feed in it for a day or two for a fermented wet mash!), or even sprinkle it on your garden). Then flop the curds out into a colander with a bowl under it to catch the remaining whey. Mix in the salt (I do this with my hands, crumbling the curds and mixing them until the salt is completely incorporated), cover, and let stand in a warm place overnight (since my house is pretty cold this time of year, I put the bowl and colander inside the bottom canning kettle (that I was using as a double boiler - it still has warm water in it), cover it, and then put a towel over the top to keep it warm.) If you want to, you can put a plate on top of the curds with a jar of water on top to weight it down, as a minimal imitation of a cheese press. I've done it with and without, and haven't noticed too much difference.

In the morning, flop the finished cheese out of your colander and store in a covered container in your fridge. This won't keep as long as a pressed cheese, but it can be used in any of the ways you normally would use cheddar (I've never had any go bad - but then again, it's never lasted more than a week in my house!)

As I said, this cheese is very versatile - it shreds nicely, melts well, and slices just like you'd expect - it's not soft at all.

And it goes very well on scrambled eggs, as my children will attest!
If you aren't sure where to get rennet, cultures, and cheese salt, they're all available online. Here are the links to where to find them on Amazon:

This post is part of the Homestead Barn HopSunday School, and The Creative HomeAcre Hop

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Review: Nourishing Traditions

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
By Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D

You may have noticed that many of the recipes on this blog that I label "Healthy" don't exactly fit the typical low-fat, low-cholesterol mold. This book is why.

It all started when I joined a now-defunct yahoo group called New Harvest Homestead, all about, well, what this blog is about - raising food for your family on your own "homestead" - be that a few acres in the country, a city lot, or an apartment with a membership to a CSA or community garden. I found that many of the women in the group kept referring to Nourishing Traditions. Intrigued, I went to my library's website to place a hold and found I would be in place 130 waiting for 3 copies! Not sure of what other option I might have (I'm too cheap thrifty to buy a book before I read it and know it's worth it) I placed the hold and went on with life.

That summer, my brother-in-law and his family lived with us while they looked for a house in the area. As fall approached and they prepared to move into their new house, I was helping my sister-in-law pack when I found, to my astonishment, that she had a copy of Nourishing Traditions. Here it had been, sitting on a shelf in my very own house for three months, while I waited impatiently for the library copy to become available!

Of course I asked if I could borrow it, and she readily agreed, and so I sat down and started reading the first chance I had. I was hooked (I never did give her book back - when I'd finally read it through, I figured it would be easier to buy her a new copy so I wouldn't have to move all of my bookmarks!)

Although technically a cookbook, this book is more a treatise on how healthy people the world over have eaten since the dawn of time, how we've abandoned their healthy eating habits in the last few hundred years, and the dramatic decline in our health because of it. It's incredibly dense with research - the recipes don't start until page 82, and even these are heavily sidebarred with scientific studies, quotes, and other relevant information. It took me a year to get through it cover to cover, and I'm an avid reader!

The book is based on the research of Weston A. Price, a dentist who travelled the world in the 1930s seeking out isolated groups of people who still ate the way their ancestors had eaten for thousands of years, and specifically looking at how their diet influenced their teeth and dental structure. He published his findings in the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which became a seminal work in the Traditional Foods movement. He found that not only were the people who ate their ancestral diets more healthy, with fewer cavities and degenerative diseases, but that when people began to eat more "modern" foods (most specifically white flour and refined sugars) that their health declined dramatically.

Nourishing Traditions, then, is based on Price's research, but also draws heavily from research done in the many decades since then. Time and again, science points to the fact that a healthy body is fed by foods rich in nutrients, and that "empty calories" not only don't satisfy our hunger, they actively harm our long-term health.

But it's not just another "fad" diet - in fact, it's the anti-fad diet. There aren't any new, expensive products to buy to pad the author's pocket; instead the book calls for a return to the healthy, nourishing foods our ancestors ate - grass-fed meats, fermented foods (think sourdough bread, sauerkraut and yogurt), soups based on rich bone broth, and as-fresh-from-the-farm-as-you-can-get-it clean dairy products.

For me, it just made a lot of sense. If you want to know how to be healthy, look to people who are healthy, and who have maintained that level of health for generations. Then figure out how you can do likewise - for your own sake, and your children's. It can be a big change - for the most part, it means cooking from scratch - it's hard to find restaurants who use traditional foods rather than pre-packaged ingredients, and those that do are often out of a normal family's price range. But the way I see it, time and money invested on nourishing your body will pay off both now and in the future - if you could avoid many of the degenerative illnesses of our time and remain healthy and productive throughout your life, wouldn't that be worth it?

I've been slowly implementing more and more of this philosophy into our diets over the last 5 years (it's definitely not something you can do all at once!), and I can already see improvement in my own health, as well as in my husband and children. One baby step at a time, we're eating better every day, and getting healthier every day.

And it all started when I read this book.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Raw Egg Nog

I was so excited to find this recipe - it's so much easier to make than my old recipe (which needed to be cooked carefully and strained to get out any clumps in the cooked eggs - plus I hated to ruin my good, raw milk!) This one just needs to be mixed together (use your blender for a regular batch, or a stick blender for a double batch), and it's ready! We had this for breakfast Christmas morning with our cinnamon rolls. YUM!

Raw Egg Nog  
(you can make this with pasteurized milk and cream if you don't have access to quality raw milk)
2 cups raw cream
2 cups raw milk
3 fresh pastured eggs (or more, if desired) (only use raw eggs if you're confident of your source!)
1/3 cup raw honey*
1 tsp vanilla extract
rum to taste
Mix all in a blender and enjoy!

*Update: Instead of using raw honey and vanilla, you can make this with maple syrup instead. I like it even better this way!

Sourdough Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Honey Butter Filling and Cream Cheese Honey Frosting

Wow, that's a long title! These are a little putzy to make, but so worth it. We made these for breakfast Christmas morning (with homemade raw eggnog on the side - yum!)

Sourdough Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls
with Pumpkin Spice Honey Butter Filling
and Cream Cheese Honey Frosting 
(makes 12)
Sponge (must rise overnight):
1/2 cup starter, at room temperature
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plain mashed potatoes (or pureed pumpkin works great, too!)
Mix these together in a large glass bowl, cover with cheesecloth, and let rise overnight, or until light and bubbly.

In the morning, stir down the sponge and add:
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil, lard, melted butter, or coconut oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
Mix all well (I start with a spoon and finish with my hands as it gets thick), and add more flour as needed to prevent stickiness. Dough should be soft and smooth yet pliable. Place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover and let rise until double in a warm place (about 2 hours). Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, about 21x16 inches and ¼ inch thick. 

Spread with filling:
1/3 cup butter, melted
½ cup honey
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Working carefully, roll the dough into a long tube (so that it stays 21 inches long). Cut the dough into 12 slices (dental floss works great for this – wrap it around the roll, then pull ends apart, and it will slice right through without squashing the dough). Place in a 9x13 glass pan, loosely covered, and let rise until double. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. 

While rolls bake, prepare icing:
8 oz softened cream cheese
1-2 Tbsp honey (more or less to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
Mix well and drizzle over rolls.