Saturday, February 28

yummy snack

I had some pitas from last Sunday that were getting a little dry so I thought I'd make pita chips. I cut the pitas into triangles, drizzled them with a little olive oil, sprinkled with 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp cane sugar. Baked at 350 for about 10 minutes til they were really crunchy. I mixed 4 oz of cream cheese with about 2 Tbsp honey as a "dip".


Tuesday, February 24

breakfast ideas

I was talking to a friend the other day about how our diet switch has been going. Nothing has been that noticeably different for the kids except for breakfast. They ate cold boxed cereal 80% of the time. I loved it too, because they were really self sufficient with their breakfast (which is wonderful when I am working nights and getting home at 6:30 am). But what about now that mama has deemed cereal a less than healthy option?

My menu planning has to include breakfast now as well. Especially since I shared with you that I am trying to soak most of our grains before we eat them. So now as I plan our weekly menu (yes, I'm back to that again too), I also plan our daily breakfasts and any prep work (like baking bread or making yogurt) that will need to be done.

Here's one of my favorite breakfast choices right now. It is usually our Sunday morning option with some leftovers for later in the week if someone needs a snack or doesn't like the other breakfast choice of the day. This recipe is based on one from Urban Homemaker.

Baked Oatmeal

In a large glass bowl, combine
1/2 c melted butter or coconut oil
1 c Sucanat
4 c rolled oats
2 c kefir
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Let sit for 8-12 hours

In the morning add
3 beaten eggs
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
a little milk to thin, if necessary

Bake in prepared 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes.

*For Sunday mornings I like to add some vanilla extract to the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle about 1/2 c chocolate chips on top. We also like it with 1 diced apple stirred in before baking. Last Sunday I added 1/2 c walnuts and 1/2 dried cranberries to the mix. That was my favorite so far.

The original recipe is only for an 11x7 but I have changed it up to make more for our larger family. Even my non-oatmeal eaters like this one. Hope you like it. Let me know what variation you come up with.

Saturday, February 21

soaking, fermenting and culturing...

...that's what I've been up to. I keep thinking I'll blog soon, but then there is something else to do. I have been busy for sure, but I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen. I have been reading Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation. They have been influencing a lot of what I am doing in the kitchen and what I am thinking about food.

So what are all those things I have been doing? I'll start with soaking. Whole grains are good for us. We've all heard that and know it to be true. We are all trying to consume more whole grains, too. Our family has been away from refined flours for quite a while. I started baking mostly all of our breads last winter. It's still an area that I am working through, trying to get a whole grain bread that we really love. I also mill our whole grain flours. When we buy whole wheat flour, there's really no standard that determines what is in that whole wheat flour. In fact, any flour made from wheat can be called "whole wheat flour", even all purpose four. Products made from those products can also be labeled that. Like twinkies that say they contain whole wheat flour. They are being literal and saying that they contain wheat flour and not rice flour or oat flour. Commercial whole wheat flours are really just refined flour (made from wheat) that has enough wheat bran and wheat germ added back to make it look healthier. (This info comes from Flour Power.)

That information really forms my belief that milling my own flour at home is worth the few minutes that it takes me. Buying whole wheat flour at the store just isn't getting what you think you are. Add into that the fact that as soon as the outer coating of that wheat berry is broken, the vitamins and minerals begin to break down. Have you ever smelled wheat flour that smelled a little off? It was probably rancid. The natural oils that are in the germ will "turn" depending on how the flour was initially milled and how it was stored. Even at home if I don't use all the flour I have milled, I will store it in the freezer to help preserve its nutrients.

So where does the soaking come into play? All grains (including oats) have phytic acid in their outer layer or their bran. This is really hard for us to digest. In our era of quick breads and quick cook oats, we have lost much of the time that our ancestors put into cooking their foods. By soaking flour or grains overnight (like with sourdough) we can neutralize some of that phytic acid by soaking in a slightly acidic liquid like kefir, yogurt or water with a little lemon juice or whey added. Not only is it easier to digest, but things also have a different texture. I make pancakes for the kids with whole wheat flour that I have soaked overnight in a mixture of milk and yogurt and they are super light and fluffy. If I made the pancakes without soaking first, the kids would definitely feel that they were eating something whole grainy, but after soaking, the pancakes aren't that much different that a refined flour product.

I do the same thing with oatmeal. The oats in the morning are much creamier. I never thought I would get them to eat anything other than flavored instant oatmeal packets. Not only are they full of extra ingredients, but they get expensive with 6 kids and many of them eating at least 2 packs of oatmeal at a time. Now I can buy inexpensive bulk oatmeal and soak it and add some chopped apple or something and everyone is happy.

Phytic acid also makes it harder for us to absorb some of the great nutrients in those grains. By neutralizing some of that acid, breaking it down, we can get more nutrition from what we are eating. Soaking also helps to break down some of the gluten in grains like wheat, oats, rye and barley. By consuming lots of these grains full of gluten we stress our digestive systems, resulting in the prevalence of a myriad of things like allergies, candida overgrowth and even celiac disease. Think about how our grocery stores are selling mostly refined flour products. In that refined flour, the germ and the bran have been removed, leaving a disproportionate amount of gluten in the flour and the products made from them. It's no wonder that there has been an uprising of celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. That is all we have consumed for a few decades. By using whole grains and soaking them, that gluten is more proportionate in what we are eating and also starting to be broken down for our bodies, helping our digestion.

I feel like I am all over the place with this. It is a pretty big topic to try to cover in one little blog post. I'm sure I'll have more to add later. And I'll tell you about culturing and fermenting later too.

Tuesday, February 3


That is the word to describe dinner at our house tonight. I saw a blog post about a yellow split pea and sausage soup. I thought I would do something like that. I had bought some natural polish sausage a couple weeks ago on sale and thought I'd use that with the dried split green peas I had.

I soaked my peas overnight. They looked great this morning. I put them in the crock pot with my kitchen stock from the fridge. This was where it all went wrong. I've been trying to incorporate more of the ideas I've been reading in Nourishing Traditions. Part of that is to add a little vinegar to bone broth to help get all the nutrients out of the bone. Well, I hadn't really read that part yet when I made the stock so I just added a big splash of vinegar to my pot of bones. It smelled really strongly of vinegar at the time, but I didn't worry about it. Too much.

I think there was just too much acid in my stock for my split peas to cook. After 5 hours or so on high, the peas were still like rocks. So I transferred the peas and the sausage to a soup pot (along with some sauteed onion, garlic, carrots and celery root). I added about 10 cups of water. After simmering for over an hour. Still hard as ever.

Soooooo. Last night I had made a pot roast. I had a ton of potatoes leftover and was thinking I would use them as a hash or something later this week. I pulled out the potatoes and put them in my big oval Le Cruset. I fished out the sausage, carrots and celery root and put that in along with some liquid.

Salvageable. And I made pita bread for the first time today. I figure as long as there is fresh bread on the table, the dinner can be so and so and no one will really care!