Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fermented Pineapple Drink and Oatmeal Muffins

I have a pineapple,  so I googled 'fermented pineapple drink'.  Now, this is what I've found and I think it looks very interesting and summery. 

Fermented Pineapple Drink (Guarapiña o Mavi de Piña)

The great thing is, you use the skin of the pineapple which I normally throw away.  The skin can also be used for pineapple vinegar, also known as cortida, which is supposed to be yummy as well.  In fact, this recipe is probably very similar to making vinegar except the addition of sugar and optional spices, the fermentation time would obviously be much shorter for a drink.  I'm going to try this in the next day or two so I'll let you know how it goes!
In other news, I've just made a big batch of one of my kids' favorite muffins.  But this time I fooled around with the recipe quite a bit  and did some pre-soaking.  I don't think I've ever done conversions yet involving soaking so I'm quite pleased with the results.  Here's what I did:

The recipe actually says to soak the oats for 10 minutes in buttermilk, so I figured, why not longer?  And why not throw in some oat flour with it?  Of course it says to use all purpose flour, 3 cups to be exact.  So I used half that amount of oat flour, and for the other half of the flour I used half as much coconut flour (so that would be 1 cup) which I mixed with all the dry ingredients for the base.  I followed the rest of the recipe except adding an extra egg to offset the coconut flour a bit, the oat flour also offsets the dryness of coconut flour because it's so moist. 

Here's the recipe which will make 3 dozen, half it if that's too many muffins for your house!

Oatmeal Muffins

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup oat flour
3 cups buttermilk (or soured milk, or equal parts liquid whey and water)

Mix this together in large bowl, cover, and soak for 12-24 hours.

When you're ready to bake the muffins preheat the oven to 375 and  stir the following together in large bowl:

1 cup coconut flour
1 1/4 cup rapadura
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp real salt

Then add 2/3 melted butter and 5 fork beaten eggs to the soaked oat mixture.  Add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Fill buttered or papered muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes. 


mix 2 tbs rapadura and 1 tbs cinnamon together and sprinkle the tops of the muffins

decrease butter to 1/2 cup and add 3 cups grated peeled cooking apples to the egg mixture

My kids approved the recipe changes and I'm limiting muffin intake as I type!  They also LOVE the apple version, though I haven't tried it yet with the new changes.  There's no reason it shouldn't work just fine!

Another Saturday, Another Trip to the Farmer's Market!

Here in NB, we may not have access to the best of everything this world has to offer, but our local farmer's markets (yes, we have TWO)  which are open Saturday mornings all year round, are absolutely amazing.  Local farmers and artisans gather every week and sell everything from prepared foods, fresh meat and produce and wine and maple syrup, to jewellery and handmade wooden toys.  I buy all of our meat products and  most of our produce and dairy from this wonderful local source.  I love being able to chat with the  farmers  as well! 

To give you an idea of the great things I usually pick up,  today I brought home buttermilk, yogurt, raw cheese, sour cream, fresh sourdough breads, chicken livers, bacon and back bacon, maple syrup, beets, sweet potatoes, pears, peppers, tomatoes, and bagged baby lettuce mix.  It was a light day for me at the market since last week a bought a box of beef with tons of steak, 2 roasts, and lots of ground  beef.

Make sure to check out your local farmer's markets!  Ours are the Dieppe   Market and the Moncton Farmer' Market.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baby Foods...

It's funny that in our culture we are instructed to offer babies difficult to digest processed grain cereals as a first food.  With my first I never thought about it, I just did the 'normal' things everyone else was doing, right down to the dry cheerios for snacking.  By the time she was 2, she was waking up begging for marshmallows and cookies and having violent  fits that lasted up to 45 minutes.  That's when I first started learning about nutrition.  I knew I didn't want to live that way, and I didn't want my children living that way either.

Still, information on good starter foods for babies is somewhat difficult to come by.  There is a very small section in Nourishing Traditions, and they have some helpful articles on their website  I don't think it should be complicated and there's certainly no need for bottled and prepackaged baby foods.

 My youngest son loved mashed bananas and sweet potatoes with lots of butter or coconut oil and sometimes cinnamon. What could be easier than mashing up a banana with a fork?   He loved to have a bowl of homemade chicken soup (drained a bit) and pick through it with his fingers (I often kept broth or gravy aside to mash with his veggies later as well) .  He ate tons of yogurt and berries or raw cheese pieces, and loved black olives.  Basically he ate what we ate modified a little for his convenience or age  if  necessary, and there really wasn't much he wouldn't eat!  And he had a crazy big appetite, still does. 

My youngest is 7 months old today and up until today, not particularly interested in any foods I've offered.  I've tried banana several times, sweet potato pureed with butter, and cooked apple.  While she accepted the food she made many faces and gagged over and over.  I think she still swallowed some but it didn't appear she particularly enjoyed eating it.  I haven't been really persistent, just trying every few days to see if she's ready.  She seems to be hungrier so it seems like she might want to eat something!

Today I had the sudden idea to try feeding her some coconut milk, I thought the texture would be perfect.  She absolutely loved it!  I've been trying to find out whether this is a good baby food (I can't think why not) and all I could really find was that coconut jelly from young coconuts is the first solid food given to Thai babies.  So I'll watch and see how she reacts to it, but so far so good. 

I think I will try the soft boiled egg yolk next, something none of my other babies really cared for.  I also hope to make some homemade chicken broth and soup and try pureeing that for her, perhaps she'll be more interested in real hearty food like that, especially if she takes after me.  Oh, and I'm going to get a little more adventurous than I generally have been and try to pick up some grass fed chicken and/or beef liver at the farmer's market within the next week.

 Here is a good link on learning more about the many health benefits of coconut.  If anyone out there has more information on feeding babies coconut, I'd love to hear it, thanks!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Real Bread vs. Fake

Just put my sourdough starter in a nice big jar, so should be whipping up some loaves of sourdough spelt bread in...9 days?  Can't wait to try it again. My one and only attempt at sourdough a few years ago didn't impress me much. It was ok, but nothing to be excited about. I didn't realize that the flavours and techniques take time to develop and I think now that I"m older and wiser I'm ready to try again.  While gluten free has many benefits and some people are forced down that road whether they like it or not, I'm honestly not willing to give up bread.  I would be if I thought I should, but I don't seem to have a problem with properly prepared breads in moderation. 

What I am going to give up is flashy new versions of wheat that  pale in comparison with older varieties in terms of nutritional value.  And I'm on board with soaking and fermenting flours properly.  I've pretty much totally replaced whole wheat with spelt, and I love to mix in other gluten free flours in my other baking (such as coconut flour or buckwheat, sometimes oat flour) as well as do a fair amount of gluten free baking.  I just think wheat and gluten are eaten so disproportionately that I want my kids to have a fighting chance, they'll be faced with all sorts of gluten and cheap wheat horrors every time they step out the door of home.

I'm using the sourdough recipe I've found in my new cookbook "Forgotten Skills of Cooking" by Darina Allen and love the little into to the bread section "What's Happened to Our Daily Bread?"   She talks about how up until about 1960 bakers made bread in traditional ways which took 5 hours or longer, and used traditional ingredients.  But as food became industrialized new methods (such as CBP, ADD, and the Do-maker process)  that saved time and money but never bothered to take nutrition into account became widespread.   The typical bread you pick up at the grocery store takes less than 2 hours from start to finish, and the wheat used is far inferior to traditional varieties.   Many of the other ingredients used are not even food, and may or may not find their way onto the label. 

She says:  "During the last 50 years the sales of bread have plummeted and the number of people with wheat allergies and full-blown celiac disease has skyrocketed.  Once the CBP was universally adopted all research was dedicated to producing varieties of short-stem wheat, strains of yeast and additives to facilitate this fast production method.  Nourishment just simply wasn't a factor.  Advances in functional properties of wheat have come at the expense of nutritional quality.  Several research projects have shown that modern wheat varieties have less than half the mineral and trace element content of traditional wheat varieties."

These are things worth looking into, especially if you have children who love bread, any kind of bread.  I know that if packaged white bread is anywhere around, my kids dive into it like candy, which is about how nutritionally valuable it is.  In fact, some natural candies would be better.  I don't keep that stuff in the house, though it does occasionally find it's way here through other people.  I tend to toss it if it makes an appearance, hopefully before the kids find it!  My oldest son loves anything that resembles bread, which is good and bad.  On the one hand he can't resist the saltines at nanny's, but on the other he'll even eat my soaked spelt hockey puck biscuits (which I won't be making again any time soon LOL). 

We are blessed, as I've mentioned before, to have a great source of real bread at our local farmer's market.  A traditional German bakery that uses whole grains and no yeast, only real sourdough methods.  The spelt bread I get there, and sometimes other varieties, is amazing and has good shelf life for fresh bread as well.  Lately I've taken to frying a slice in bacon fat and OH MY GOODNESS, its soooooo good!   The other day I fried a slice and topped it with fresh tomato slices and grated raw Gouda and broiled it for a minute, mmmmm.    But I still just have to make my own bread!  It's a part of my heritage, though the homemade bread I remember was always white...if I could look back a little further I'm sure I'd find sourdough...