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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marmee's Pantry ~ For Such a Time as This: Butter vs Margarine

Marmee's Pantry ~ For Such a Time as This: Butter vs Margarine

This is a good link to why I am choosing real butter over margarine now. I have a few boxes of margarine squares that I use for baking (and feel pretty guilty about), but after they're gone, it's just butter and good oils and pure fats for us from then on in :)

Episode 2 Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I think I posted about the first episode on my other blog but since it's food related, I'll write about it here.

All I can say is wow. I was totally flabbergasted at the kids in this episode. They did not know what a single vegetable was in it's natural form. I mean really, they didn't know what a tomato or a potato was? My jaw literally dropped. I think I had tears of gratitude that my kids know what everything is. I love taking them around the produce isles and if they don't know what something is, we find out. We often buy new things to try, although they usually pass in the end. I'm glad my kids know what to do with vegetables, they know how to peel, cut, even how to grow them. They just don't like to eat all of them, lol!

I was also shocked after the chicken nugget demonstration, how disgusted they were with the ground up chicken carcass, bones and all. They wanted to eat it simply because they were hungry, yet turned their nose up at real chicken. So basically because it resembled what they knew, they ate it even if it disgusted them. Now I'm not opposed to not wasting. Chicken carcass is great for making stock.

I was also surprised at the visual of the fat and food. Again, I'm not opposed to fat but when it is overly processed junk that has no nutritive value, it isn't good for little bodies, day in and day out.

It was shocking when they went to the doctor. I think of that poor boy and how drastically life altering it would be if he was diabetic, how hard for the family. I know I am worried about it and honestly surprised I am not diabetic. Their whole family just seemed so sad and unhealthy and I hope that was the wake up call they needed.

Food is one of those hard things. We need it to live but it can kill us if we do not eat the right things. There are so many good food options in this world that we have options. It makes me want to eat healthier :)

2010: Ushering in the Decade of Food and Agriculture

Steve Ettlinger: 2010: Ushering in the Decade of Food and Agriculture

I posted this to Facebook but I'm not sure if it went through properly. All I can say is Hear Hear. Get the junk off the shelves and help us eat real food!

Gluten-Free Crusty Boule

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day � Gluten-Free Crusty Boule

I have been perusing this site because I want more information on the 5 minute a day bread (which I will make as soon as I arrange my fridge a little better). I was pleasantly surprised to see there was gluten free bread! I don't know if I can get the ingredients here but maybe someday. Sometimes it is nice just having the option.

As a side note, I don't think I am going to be buying and grinding our wheat. I have my limits. It is too hard, time consuming and I don't get favourable results.

Another side note, from the above site, I finally found out how to make proper hamburger buns. Bake them in english muffin tins! How easy is that? I had one but it got warped so I went and bought all they had at Bulk Barn (note, they are sold as large 4" circle cutters but they are exactly the same as the ones online and much cheaper). I didn't realize you actually baked it with the dough in the round. So that will make making buns easier, especially if I keep dough in the fridge. Now, if I could only figure out hot dog buns....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Do Nut? No, Donut! Or is it Doughnut?

We love doughnuts. It is something I don't miss often but when I do, it can be hard to resist. I made some sprouted wheat doughnuts last week and they were really good. However sometimes you just want a doughnut quicker. Here is a simple solution!

Bread Machine Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar or honey
  • Pinch of teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • (after though that I should of added a couple pinches of nutmeg)

Directions

Measure into your bread machine pan and put on dough setting. Let it run through the whole setting (it is 1.5 hours on my machine. You can take it out after it has totally mixed and either rise, cut out doughnuts to rise or simply cook at this point).

Start heating up your deep fryer or a pan of fat (be extremely careful if doing on the stove and have a box of baking soda close by just in case! Better safe than sorry!). You can even bake them if you wish, but I am not sure how long it would take.

If the dough has run the cycle in the bread machine, roll and cut out in doughnut shapes. I used a round cookie cutter and an apple corer, which made perfect doughnuts. Deep fry two or three at a time. I was cutting them out as they were frying so I wasn't just standing there doing nothing while they were cooking.

After they are done, either leave as is, roll in sugar or cinnamon sugar, frost or glaze. We used sugar on half and cinnamon sugar on the other half. In the future when we have maple syrup and more than a tiny bit of honey, I will use those as glaze. Ethan can't wait for me to make maple doughnuts!

They came out of the deep fryer all puffed up, soft and golden delicious. Lovely little air pillows they were. I got about 3 dozen out of this batch. Although I paid the piper, I had ate some and they were good. The only thing I would change would be to add some nutmeg since I grew up eating doughnuts with nutmeg in them (but forgot when I was making them). Ethan ate at least a solid dozen on his own, lol! He told me they were way better than Tim Hortons, which is high praise indeed. Everyone else, including some neighbors, got to indulge too.

This morning, this was all there was left:

One lonely doughnut. Not as puffed up and soft anymore but I'm sure it is still delicious. I will not eat it though because today I am getting back on track with strictly gluten free and lower carb.

Giving Up On Wheat

I mean that in a number of ways but mainly in that I am giving up my make everything from home ground wheat. I love the notion of grinding all our wheat but I can see it's not feasible for me. If I want to make everything from scratch, I am not going to drive myself crazy doing it the most natural way possible. I woke up this morning and realized that it doesn't mean I love my family any less. If I weren't making everything myself even with store flour, they would be eating store bought, which isn't as healthy. Sure, I know flour doesn't have as many nutrients as it does when it is freshly ground and it is isn't as flavorful. It is one of those "Choose your battles" and I can't see myself grinding 200lbs of flour and having every loaf a chance. After 3 or 4 bad loaves of bread and one successful one with home ground, I'm going to go with what is almost always successful.

On a related note, we are possibly going for a weekend away next weekend (not the one coming up but April 9-11). I have been scouring places to find out what is in season in the valley. I found a place that has honey for $1.75 a pound! I'm getting a bucket, lol! I am also trying to find places that sell maple syrup. Last fall we got it at Forsythe's and it was about $12 a liter, cheap when you consider that at Sobeys it is $22 a liter. Real Maple Syrup goes a really long way too. I think we were using that liter from September to December and using it regularly. I want to get about a gallon, at least.

I checked and saw that many of the farm markets were either open or will be open. I know there isn't a ton that is in season now but I'll take what we can get :)

I am also going to be doing a meal plan Monday but I need to get my thoughts together on that first. We have used up more storage and there is some we have to toss so my freezer list has changed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bread FAIL!

So I wanted to get back into the swing of regular bread making again. I made a few good loaves with home ground flour with the addition of some regular flour in the bread machine. I had a bad one but the next day I realized it was because I did not have warm water to activate the yeast since I had it soaking overnight. I knew for next time.

Today I wanted to make some bread. I put it on the sandwich setting, which is a 3 hour setting. It rose beautifully. I had to leave and when I got home, it looked bad. It is the loaf on the far left. After cutting into it, it totally sunk. I used half regular flour and half sprouted wheat flour. I tried to figure out what was wrong. Apparently it rose too much and didn't have enough flour to create a solid loaf, so it sunk when it started baking. Boo hiss. Tastes good though, although it didn't fully cook in the middle (which I didn't realize until later). Sprouted wheat flour acts as an enhancer for dough which makes the bread rise more so I probably added too much yeast causing the collapse.

So after the bread machine cooled down, I thought I would try another loaf, my regular way with only half a cup of the sprouted wheat flour. I did the quick setting, which is one hour, start to finish. That is the bottom right loaf. I don't think it cooked all the way through. It is pretty short and solid and not done on the top. After taking it out, it sunk a lot in the middle. It hasn't been cut into but I suspect it isn't baked through. Sigh.

My banana bread came out great! I made it in the crockpot in a silicone loaf pan. I should of packed some foil around it to keep the loaf shape as it spread out in the middle. Still, otherwise really good!

So what I may have to start doing is baking it in the oven. If I have to do that, I will bake more than one loaf at a time and also do buns and rolls. If my bread maker isn't cooking all the way through, it's pointless to keep using it. It is still good for mixing and kneading the bread. It is hard for me to do it manually so it will still serve a good purpose. I need to start having a baking day each week.

Kefir


I love this stuff. It is so expensive in the stores though. I cannot get the bubbly yeasty taste of the store bought stuff at home. I have been trying to hunt down some grains with no luck. I think I have found a good solution.

Kefir is a wondrous drink. It is filled with tons of pro and prebiotics, way more than yogurt. It is very healing and good for your body. It is made in the same manner as yogurt; you heat the milk, cool, add the starter and let it culture about 24 hours. Since I don't have the grains, it finally occurred to me I could just make kefir the same way I make yogurt.

I bought some Yogourmet kefir starter, but at $4.50-ish for a box of 6 starters, not so cheap since you need a liter of milk for each batch. I always have trouble with the starter. Twice it did not come out at all, even though I used a candy thermometer to make sure the milk was at the precisely correct temperature for each stage. The most recent batch I tried came out...ok. It was almost cottage cheese-y in texture. When I was getting low, I decided to use it to culture a fresh batch instead of using starter again.

I brought a liter of milk to almost the boiling point and let it cool until it was warm. I added a quarter cup of kefir and mixed well. I poured it into a mason jar, covered and by morning, I had a beautifully cultured bottle of kefir. It was almost solid after 12 hours where usually 24 hours barely gets it going. It worked really well! I wish I would of tried that before messing with starters. I may of gotten better kefir with the store bought kind. I'm hoping I can keep making it like this as it will save money and I get a better product.

(note, the picture above is not mine. I just wanted a picture to display what it looks like)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easy Garlic Cheese Sauce

Last night we had broccoli for supper and Mark always likes cheese on it. Shaylee said she would eat some if it had cheese on it. Ethan wouldn't touch it knowingly with a 10 foot pole. I wanted to get a little creative with the cheese instead of him just slapping a cheese slice on it (I keep them on hand for grilled cheese sandwiches).

In a small pot, place one cup of grated cheese and add a cup of milk. Add as much grated garlic as you care to have; for us, the more the merrier! I used 4 cloves. Stir over medium heat until the cheese is melted and it is starting to boil. Take it off the stove and add enough heavy cream until it is the consistency you desire (I added about a quarter of a cup). Serve over your veggies or anything you would like with a garlic cheese sauce.

I thought it was really yummy and told Ethan that it reminded me of garlic toast. Of course he then wanted garlic toast, so I put some of the garlic cheese sauce on bread and toasted it. He ate two pieces and wanted more!

After it cooled, it was the consistency of Cheez Whiz. If wanted, you could leave out the garlic and use it in place of that. A good way to avoid the fakiness of the processed stuff.

So a simple cheese sauce that makes a great topping for garlic cheese toast and possibly has lots of other uses. Very easy!

Simple Soup

I think we sometimes complicate food. Food doesn't always have to be complicated. It does not always have to be a big ordeal to prepare.

I have two simple recipes I made the other day that were big hits.

My first soup actually started as leftovers. For supper the night before, I took an onion, green pepper and a red pepper, julienned (a fancy word for cutting into long, thin strips) and sautéed it in extra virgin olive oil. When still crisp, I added a can of tomatoes. I heated through and it served as a side dish. The next day, I pureed it in the blender, added some cumin and served it as a cold soup. It was delicious, but would of also been good heated.

For the second recipe, well, it is too easy for words. I am trying to get the kids to eat more veggies. My son does not like about 95% of vegetables. He turned his nose up at my vegetable concoction, wouldn't even try a piece of plain tomato. So for their soup, I pureed a can of tomatoes and, since I am in the process of weaning them, added a can of Campbells tomato soup. I didn't add any water or anything. I heated it and they thought it was the best tomato soup they ever had. I was worried the seeds would turn them off but I don't even think they noticed. Eventually, it will be pureed tomato and cream. Still simple.

I don't like using canned vegetables and in the near future, I hope to use all home canned but that is hard to do in the winter. Somehow we got stuck with a lot of cans of tomatoes and I have to figure out how to use them up. I have a pile to donate to the food bank but we still have tons. I need to find some recipes that call for lots of canned tomatoes!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finding My Way

It has been quite a while since I have posted. I have come a long way and want to go a long way yet! I have had Traditional Foods on my mind lately. Local eating is a big concern. Organic...well, we can't afford it but when we can, we try. Food storage and emergency preparedness is still on my mind.

We have had a big problem I am having to deal with. Our food storage. There is a lot of food we will never eat. Remember to store what you eat because you will be eating what you store!! Now grated, I did not know I would be gluten free. I didn't know when I stored BPA would be a big concern. I didn't know a lot of what I canned we would never eat. I didn't know that I would buy too many beans and my intentions of using them would go awry.

I have been going through our stores and picking out what we won't use that is still good to donate to the food bank. This still leaves us with a lot.

Today, I went through our basement freezers and condensed all the food into one. I have a lot to toss that is no longer any good. I also kept track of everything so that I can meal plan. I want to eat the freezer down so we can invest in the side of beef and side of pork again this fall. I don't want to keep relying on the grocery store for our food and want to get it from the farmer where ever possible!

So, here are the contents of our freezer. I didn't write every little thing down (like the popsicles, juice and seed/nut meals).

Fruit
1 large bag of woods strawberries
2 bags raspberries
1 bag jumbleberry mix
2 jars strawberry freezer jam

Vegetables
3 1kg bags of broccoli
4 1kg cauliflower
1 1kg peas
1 1kg peas and carrots
4 bags of veggie blends (500-600g)
2kg bag california mied veggies (I don't know if these are still good)
300g package of spinach (may not be good for use)

Cheese and Dairy
4 110g packages swiss cheese
2 pkg provelone
3 blocks cream cheese
6 180g pkgs organic feta
1 jar 100% fresh parmesean
2 large packages of mozza cheese strings (I use these to make low carb garlic "bread")
2 200g packages of organic sharp cheddar
1 cup grated mozza
3 500g blocks mozza
5 1lbs blocks of butter

Pork
3 shoulders, approx. 1.5kg each
2 small packs of pork chops (0.5 lbs each)
5 large packs of pork loin chops
11 packs of loin roast (these are all about a pound each)
4 smoked shoulders
1 rack of ribs (2kg)
1 pack larsens sausages
13 packs of bacon

Beef
Hamburger, 2lbs natural, 0.5lbs pack, 2kg pack and 1.40kg pack from store
2 packs of liver (about a pound each)
1.125 pot roast
1 small steak

Chicken
1 large pack of breasts (1.25kg)
2 small packs of breasts (0.65kg each)
3 bags of 4 quarters
4 small whole chickens

Turkey
4 whole turkeys
1 pack of 2 small turkey drumsticks
1 small pack of turkey tenderloin slices (1lbs)

Other
Hot Dogs 5.5 packs of 12
1 1lbs package of moose meat
1 3.5 oz pouch of scallops
1 small whole wild salmon (2 or 3 lbs)
1lbs pack of wild salmon
2 frozen pizzas
1 small garlic fingers
4 tubs of 150g slivered almonds
1 pouch minced onion

Whew. That doesn't include what is in the fridge freezer. I know there is some in there I need to toss.

Here are some things that I have learned today:

Today I have learned today is not to prepare food for the freezer unless it is part of a meal plan. I am going to have to toss a lot of soup and other things I made that didn't freeze well.

Another thing is that some foods do not freeze well. For instance, I bought and froze a lot of cottage cheese over a year ago. It doesn't freeze well (unless you use it in a recipe, but I know I won't. Good thing it was really cheap).

Only buy items out of the ordinary to freeze if we plan to use it soon. Sometimes Mark or I will buy something different and it never gets used. We will save a lot of money by doing this.

Use older things first. I have a lot of food that is a lot older than recent items that we have eaten. Rotating is especially important for freezer food.

Only buy frozen veggies as I need them. These get freezer burnt pretty fast. I have a lot of cauliflower as I planned to make a lot of cauliflower crust pizza. I probably still will. It is yummy :)

I couldn't help thinking of my Great Grammy D who used to joke about having food that was old enough to vote, lol! I hope I never get anything that old in my freezer. She would of happily used up any old thing as she let nothing to waste.

So I need to come up with a meal plan to make sure we use our food before we start bringing more in.

I also want to be more accountable for what we buy and use as food. I need to keep better track of how much money we spend. I have been doing a lot better. We cannot afford to waste food.

I have so much to write about so I won't write it all today. This will be fun again!