Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fermenting Foods and Beverages

I have recently caught a new bug, the old style fermented foods and beverages bug.  It all started back in June or July while I was sitting with my Mother in her sun-room watching birds and bees in her back yard (it is wooded and drops down to a deep ravine so it is a wonderful place to be).  Mom was reminiscing about her grandmother who was an excellent cook and owned several restaurants.  Mom learned to cook as a child from her grandmother.  In those days, the 1930s through the 1940s, most people had a garden or knew farmers from which to purchase produce and protein foods, i.e. dairy, meats.  People put up or put bye (canned) much of the food they grew for the winter.  As a child, I remember my mother's parents basement pantry area lined with jars of stuff to eat like pickles.
Mom told me how much she loved to sneak down to the basement as a young child and sample the foods in the large crocks, her favorite being sauerkraut and mangoes (stuffed bell peppers). Her grandmother fermented the pickles in huge crocks and there was nothing wrong with sampling the foods except that it spoiled her appetite somewhat for meals.
Sadly, I never got to meet my grandmother as she passed away before I was born.  But her legacy of wonderful cooking passed down to my mother and hopefully to me.  When I was a tween, my mother made pickles and relish on year, what an interesting undertaking that was.  We ate the pickles and relish for 2 or 3 years, and really enjoyed it.  Mom made jelly once in a while also,  but never put food up like her grandmother did or my mother-in-law did because the day of the commissary and grocery store had overtaken our culture.  Additionally, she and dad were not gardeners so would have to purchase the fresh produce to preserve, and what was the point of that when you could easily and inexpensively purchase what you desired without the hassle of making it yourself.
When I was a teen, I spent all my time riding my horse with other teen girls doing the same.  We knew where a huge old fig tree was that we gorged ourselves on every summer.  I wish I'd taken some home to make into fig preserves but I never thought of it.  One of my horseback girlfriends dad was a deputy sheriff and her mom always had 2 glass gallon jugs on the kitchen counter in there home connect by clear tubing stuck in a stopper in each bottle and some muscadine wine fermenting in one and condensing in the other.  I tasted it once and it was a really sweet grape flavor, really too sweet for my tastes so I never asked Mrs. Audry what she was doing or how or why.  I didn't realize that sweetness could be adjusted. Now that information is lost to me 40 years later.   All the lost opportunities to learn and do.  Sadly, this is the way it is for most urban dwellers in the USA today.  However, there is a movement by some people to learn the old skills called by some, urban homesteading.
I live on a steep hill that drops down to a ravine with a tiny stream in the bottom, close to the center of our little town.  The back yard faces NNE and gets only middle of the day sunlight, so it is not conducive to gardening unfortunately.  The front yard faces SSW and is small, has kids run through it, dogs too (and they leave droppings for me to clean up) so it receives full sun, but is not a hospital spot to garden either.  I would dearly love for our town to create a community garden area someday, so then I could grow some produce.  I would love to keep a handful of chickens for eggs and their funny antics but there are raccoons who come up on the deck to raid my bird feeders every night, and I fear the chickens would be raccoon dinner all to soon.  I have thought of rabbits for meat and fur, and that is something I may eventually do--after much researching.
I hope all of you wistful farmers have better conditions in your own piece of gardening paradise, but hopefully, we can all manage to grow at least a little of our produce.
I found this interesting beverage recipe while researching how to ferment foods, the name caught my eye.  This is a drink made from fermenting sweet potatoes and is ready in 3-5 days.  This is supposed to be similar to old fashioned root beer, ginger ale, cream sodas, etc.  The recipe is not difficult to make.
2 scrubbed and shredded sweet potatoes, rinse the starch in strainer till water runs clear then place in 1 gallon jar.  Add 2 cups sugar (or you can add some honey as part of the 2 cups), 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg,ginger, allspice, 1 egg shell, then cover with water.  Cover with cloth to keep out fruit flies.  Later when bubbly, strain, chill juice, save the pulp to bake muffins.
I made my first batch today, but I forgot to rinse the shredded potatoes, so I'll soon see what happens, I may need to repeat this recipe at the end of the week, correctly, to see what the difference is.  More news later on this beverage.
My Gut Reaction?  This was fun and could possibly be delicious.  I enjoyed the process and the connection to my great-grandmother and my mother's memories of the cooking methods she remembers.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Steaming Eggs

Hey steaming eggs worked!  Sweet.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Experiment in Steaming

So my old electric rice pot quit on us this past weekend.  It had been slowing down for a year and I just waited till it finally quit.  I simply dumped the rice and it's cooking water into my stainless steel heavy bottom sauce pan, brought the water to a simmer and turned to heat to low, covered the pan with the vent open, let it go 15 minutes, turned the heat off and let it sit about 10 more minutes==perfect rice.  However, I only have 1 sauce pan so decided to replace my rice pot.  Walmart, here I come.  Got a new electric Black and Decker 2 tier rice and steaming appliance, $29.00.  Washed it, and it is dishwasher safe.  I do wonder if the plastic bowls are safe, so I'll need to research that matter.
This morning, I was determined to try this new baby out.  I am trying to eat healthier breakfasts of the low carb type but that gets so boring so decided to scrounge around my fridge and pantry to see what I could come up with.  And this is what I found:
1 cup Oatmeal, not certified gluten free
1 cup Almond flour
1/4 cup Date sugar
1/4 cup Xylitol
2 tablespoons Ground flax seed meal
1 cup half and half
1 egg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch kosher salt

I just dumped this all into the little rice bowl that insets into the steamer basket.  Additionally, I placed my last 4 eggs into the other steamer basket as supposedly you can soft or hard boil eggs by steaming them.  Set the timer to 12 minutes, the time for the eggs.  At that point, I checked the oatmeal mixture and it was still liguidy so I removed the eggs and reset the timer for another 12 minutes.  When it was finished, I saw a mixture that was not quite as set as a cake but more like a pudding, but not runny either.
I ate about 3/4 of a cup and oh my was it good!  I have a real problem with oatmeal generally because I do not like the sliminess of it.  I gagg, just can't get it down.  Oatmeal cookies  have been my preferred method up to this morning.  This baked almond oatmeal is quite nice and I'll definitely work on it some more, and tweak it and create variations of it.
This has a high protein content because of the almond flour, there are some carbs from the oats and dates.  Try this for your picky eaters who don't like slimy oatmeal.
Later, I will make the eggs into egg salad.  I will return and comment on how they steamed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010


Went to local farmer's market, purchased free stone peaches big as navel oranges, ears of corn, and 2 quarts of Thai peppers!   Wow.  I'm going to be busy this morning blanching corn to freeze whole and peaches to skin then slice into wedges for cobblers; and then wash, stem and dry the peppers.  All this before I begin my regular daily chores, errands, and go to my employment.  Back to you all later.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Baby It's HOT Out!

These are the days during which I prefer to not cook if I can help it.  When the temps hover in the mid to upper 90s or worse, and humidity makes it feel sticky and sultry while raising the heat index to 105-110, I simply don't want to cook or really even eat.   Appetite suffers.  I drink iced tea--a lot.  And Ice-cream once a week, ummm.  Dairy Queen blizzards--they used to make a key lime blizzard--Oh my gosh, it was the best!  Unfortunately, it succumbed to the stupid chocolate craze.  I'm bored to death with chocolate anything.  Sonic makes a great Lime Chiller so I go there now.  Yummy!

If I eat, I prefer salads, fruit, cold cereal, cheese and crackers, cold cuts, chips and dip, and when eating out:  BBQ, Thai, catfish, and then not heavy portions.  Frozen daiquiri style virgin fruit slushes from my Vita-Mix keep me going, unfortunately rum free since I'm allergic to alcohol.

I make a gallon of iced tea a day sweetened slightly with stevia.  My physician tells me that I am supposed to reduce my caffeine intake, so I guess I'm going to start adding a bit of de-caffeinated tea to the tea ball and begin adjusting the proportions of regular tea down while increasing the without up.  

Even though I am getting out in the sun, my Vitamin D deficiency is not improving, guess what?  Doctor says be more diligent about avoiding wheat and maybe my gut will improve so that I can begin improving my uptake of essential nutrients from my diet.  Sigh.  And I thought I was being so much better that the occasional real pizza or sandwich roll would go unnoticed--apparently not.

When we go out to eat, I do ask if there is a gluten free menu, but usually not.  Although The Olive Garden does and I've tried the same entree twice now and liked it.  The local cafe, World Garden, that used to have gluten free items on the menu stopped providing them--not enough consumers to finance those items.  Now I am reduced to no longer being able to enjoy going out for fast food feeds with my men folk.  It's just so unfair and limiting to us as a family that we live no  where near either coast where we could easily find gluten free eateries.

I am making dried banana slices today!  These are naturally gluten free.

1 large bunch of ripe bananas with lots of brown freckles but not mushy.
Slice them the same size, I like just about 1/8th of an inch cause they dry faster and go further.
Layer on prepared dehydrator sheets (just spray with non stick spray as the fruit really sticks).
Set temperature to 125 for 1 hour, then reduce to 110-115.  Dry about 24 hours.
Peel from sheet when leathery, place in zip-type storage baggies, freezer type.
These may be dried longer to make crispy chips.
ENJOY!  My children thought these were candy made especially for them when they were little--well and it was, hehheh.
 They still eat them fast as I can make them.  Also my little grandson, Liam, loves these too.
My Gut Reaction?  These are 150% better than those purchased anywhere because as the banana ripens, it becomes much sweeter.  Purchased banana slices taste like cardboard once you've had homemade.  You'll never be able to go back.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thoughts on Vegetarianism

Today, I met with my physician, had a good visit, then visited the vampire in his office.  Whew!  All the preliminary labs done in order  to establish a baseline in certain areas, I will begin following Dr. Steven R. Gundry's Diet Evolution.  This is basically a plan that takes you from low carb to close to raw and heavily vegetarian (although not necessarily completely so--it remains possible to enjoy some animal proteins).

I am in process of making some changes to the appearance of the blog.  Let me know how you like the changes or if  you have any suggestions, please pass them along to me.

MY GUT REACTION?  I am looking forward to this new eating experiment and to providing feedback to you all.