Saturday, April 28, 2012

#2,3,4/773 : Basic Ingredients : Yogurt, Whey, Creme Fraiche, Water Kefir (p 84 - 87)

Many of the recipes in the cookbook use basics that you have to make, not found in a store.  So I thought I'd better get up a good supply of some of those to use in other recipes.

Yogurt (p85)

Fresh Yogurt w/ Blueberries
So, OK, you can find this in a store.  I have been eating a lot of Greek yogurt, (Fage 0% - Costco).  My favorite breakfast is frozen strawberries, frozen cherries, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of Pumpkin Flax Granola Cereal (also Costco).  It fits into my weight watchers program well.. Anyhow.  Not completely sure why people would make yogurt, especially since I cannot buy raw milk.  The Fage product is good quality and has no fillers.  I don't think I can make it cheaper either, so I probably will not continue to make that, except if I need some Whey.

But anyhow, It is 1 quart of organic whole milk, heated to 180 degrees, (do not boil) cooled to 110 degrees, then stir in some yogurt as a starter and put in a warm place for 6-12-24 hours (I'm sure you shouldn't leave it too long, but I the time I perhaps should have checked it fell at inconvenient times, and so I'm sure I left it longer than I should, but it still turned out fine). 

Nourishing Traditions say 1/2 cup of starter.  Wild Fermentation says 1 Tablespoon.  In that book he says if you put too much it will be sour and runny... I found that was true.  The flavor was nowhere near as good with more starter.

I don't have any sort of incubator so I took an insulated zipper "ice chest" that we have, put our heating pad in the bottom of it, and with the warmed mixture in a glass container I packed towels around it.  It worked great, except that the heating pad we have turns off after about 10 minutes.. SO I had to turn it back on every time I walked by.  Nice how our government take care of us, eh?  I hope I can find and buy a heating pad without this "safety feature".

Whey (p 87)

Immediately when the Yogurt was done I put it in a strainer (some "yogurt cheese maker" that I have used for years, but any strainer with small holes will do).  This strains off the whey, which in the past I have thrown away (or a whey), but turns out has wonderful nutritional value.  So I started collecting that in another container.  What is left behind is sweet creamy Greek yogurt.  Was very good, put as I said may not do it all the time.

Creme Fraiche (p 84)

Creme Fraiche is a product used a lot in Europe in cream sauces etc.  It is about half way between a heavy cream and a sour cream.  It is not as sour as sour cream and therefore could be put on fresh fruit and is delicious, without the added sugar we put in our whipped cream.  This is made that same way as yogurt, using whipping cream and existing cream fraiche as a starter.  This was the hardest part, finding the starter, but I did find it in the health-food store, and incredibly easy to make and quite delicious.  This would be worth it to make, since it is so hard to find in the store.

I wanted to make Piima Cream and Milk Kefir too, but will have to order Piima cream starter online, and haven't done that.  Regarding the Milk Kefir, also I'd have to order online.  I am more interested in Water Kefir, as it could be another option to drink, since we don't drink soda or anything like that.. And it is nutritious to get the fermented water in our diet.  So I did buy Water Kefir grains and have been making that. 

Water Kefir (not in NT)

1 quart of water
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of hydrated grains

The grains eat up the sugar and multiply.  The water ferments with good bacterias (pro-biotic).  You can drink it straight, or mix with fruit juice.  The last batch I grated a little ginger into and let it sit for the night.. It was plenty powerful!  and reasonably good.  Think that might be a way to keep it going in the future.  Anyway my Kefir grains are growing so fast I am giving them away!  And have Kefir Water coming out my ears.  Not sure what to do about that.  Not sure how to slow them down.

Friday, April 27, 2012

#1/773 : Red Cabbage, Dutch style (p 377)

So shortly after deciding to do this project I started thumbing through the cookbook to decide what I might make first, when I realized that there are a lot of strange things in here..  Perhaps I should have asked Mike if he wanted to EAT all the things in this cookbook, so I did.  His reply was "Well, yes, we are trying to change what we eat... but within reason, right?".  I laughed.  Then later that afternoon continuing my thumbing I was talking to Kelsey on the phone and related the story.  When I found Root beer.. "Like, ya know, I could make Root Beer sometime."  "Yum", she says.  "Or", turning the page "Pottrnger's Liver Cocktail (p612)", which is a mixture of Liver (1 small Chunk), tomato juice, Tabasco, squeeze of lime, and Whey.... Humm, decided I better start with the more palatable first!

So I started with Red Cabbage.  This recipe was surprisingly simple and yet delicious.  First recipe down and already I've added a recipe to our regular repertoire!

Red Cabbage, Dutch style (p 377)
1 med Red Cabbage Shredded
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water
2 apple pealed and sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar

Rinse cabbage place in heavy pan.  In a small pan mix bay leaf, cloves, salt, honey, with cinnamon and water, bring to a boil.  Pour over the cabbage and cook gently for about 20 minutes.  Move to serving dish.  Toss with vinegar and butter.

The first time I made half a recipe.  It was so good I made it for movie night the next week.  I made a whole recipe to serve the 5 of us... It made a Whole lot!  I'd recommend 1/2 a recipe.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Shifting Gears....

I've been giving a lot of thought to this bogging business lately.  I have to admit I have been struggling a lot with the idea of blogging lately.  But a comment from a reader (you know who you are) really made me think about it this week..  It has been coming for about 2 years, it has to do with the one sided-ness of a blog.  I am open and willing to share every detail of my life with others.... probably more than anyone really wants!  But I find myself losing connectedness with my friends because while they know everything about me, I know relatively little about what is going on with them.  This is something that has bothered me about blogging ever since I started, but lately I have been trying to focus on building stronger relationships through Send Out Cards, and I am surprised, and disappointed, at how weak some of these connections are.  I do really owe an update to everyone, and I do know how many people read and enjoy my updates, but haven't been able to make myself sit down and do it... one of those things that when you delay, it only becomes harder.

My lack of updating has not been for lack of topic to tell you about.  Mike's family came to visit shortly after my last post.  Such a momentous occasion, complete with photos, deserved a post.  We were so tickled to have his 3 sisters, two brother-in-laws and parents all visiting for the weekend.  What a special treat for us.

After that of course we enjoyed the holidays, Thanksgiving here at the ranch again and Christmas at home followed by a two-week trip away from the ranch, to Albuquerque, visiting all of my family, New Years in Phoenix, hunting quail with all of Mike's boys, followed by a visit to Mike's parents in Salt Lake, and a Send Out Cards meeting.  It had been so long since we were gone for so long, without worrying about animals at home!

BECAUSE, most significantly, we delivered our last alpacas to their new home in Wyoming in December, they took the dogs too, and coincidentally the trailer as well.  Since then we have been finishing projects around the ranch, and selling equipment/supplies and are on the verge of putting the ranch on the market. (Not really needing 35 acres, 4 outbuildings and especially a couple thousand dollar mortgage.)  (If you know someone looking for a ranch in Colorado, send them to

Where we will end up... no one knows.  We keep kicking around options, but we don't want to make any decisions yet.  As long as we end up someplace with good water, and good high speed internet, we will be fine.  We got rid of the chickens because they were not laying well this year, and costing more than buying free-range organic eggs at the store.  So aside from a few feral cats that are around here, we have no animals to care for.  We enjoyed the animals, but now are still getting used to freedom again.  We even joke about not keeping sourdough starter because we don't want that kind of responsibility! 

I noticed last week, riding up the chairlift, that A) we were skiing for the first time in three years, B) I had recently hit a bucket of balls at the golf coarse for the first time in 6 years, C) square danced for the first time in 25 years, D) Went Geo-caching for the first time in 4 years... I asked Mike why we stopped going out and "doing fun stuff" he said "Alpacas" (As in time and money sucking).  Wow, food for thought.

(Click to enlarge)

***and Shifting Gears Now!***

AND NOW...   I love that you all read the blog.  I do apologize for not writing more often... in the meantime I have decided to shift gears, especially since I can't write about alpacas anymore.  You know that we have been on this journey to improve our health through better food choices and holistic philosophy.  Lately I have even considered becoming a food advocate.  Somewhere on the path we joined an organization called the Weston Price Foundation.  This organization is based in principles for eating discovered by .. no other than Weston Price, a dentist in the early 20th century who discovered improved health in indigenous peoples of the earth with certain diets.  We believe that many of the illnesses we see plaguing our society today are an unintended consequent of modern convenience food that the American diet embraces.  While trying to answer the needs of a growing population, we have all but destroyed our food sources and that may just destroy us.. but I digress.  Weston Price Foundation promotes a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions (by Sally Fallon).  I've run across it in many kitchens, although haven't found many people cooking much from it.  Some of the principle of Weston Price way of eating are very different from what I am used to.  Recently we got our own copy of the cookbook, and rather than let it sit unused on my shelf, I want to try everything in the cookbook, and blog about my findings here. (Yes, ala Julie/Julia).

In the process of starting this project I found another site doing exactly the same thing, (, but as someone pointed out to me, there are a billion blogs talking about the cute things their kids say, and yet that doesn't stop the next person from doing the same thing... No doubt mine will be different, and besides that it who cares if it's not.  The goal here is to try to incorporate some of the principles of the diet into our regular diet.

I'd like to say I'd keep my comments to that topic alone, but I know that is a lie.  So I'm shifting gears, but still driving the same car.. Want to come along?