Sunday, July 20, 2014

Flax Milk and The Raw Milk Controversy

  So I just discovered flax milk in the grocery store.  This is a big deal for me, since the only milk I can tolerate is raw milk, which is illegal in Iowa.  Go ahead and try to get some raw milk here, I dare you.  What a fucking joke.  Some people have gotten around the law by buying the cow, then the farmer just houses and feeds it for you.  But even this has become too dangerous for the poor farmer.  Fines and punishments can be quite severe, and just about any reason could be brought up to screw the farmer, so it is no wonder that anyone you ask to do this all but kicks you off their land, or out of their famers market stall.  Some people have been rallying around their farmers and helping out with legal costs etc. ( The Weston A. Price foundation is a great resource for stuff like this.)
  I understand that people can become sick from raw milk.  People can also become sick from sushi and rare steak and lots of other stuff that is legal.  Even more disconcerting with raw milk is how damned healthy it is.  You take the risks with the benefits, and it's not just about fresh taste.  Personally, if I drink raw milk, I feel much much better.  If I drink pasteurized, homogenized milk I actually sneeze and my sinuses get clogged--a bonafide allergy that probably means I should avoid all regular dairy altogether.  I have not been able to get any other food that can replace milk for me and still provide the obvious nutrient, protein and fat content.
  So I settle for other types of milk.  I guess the process for the plant-based milks you get at the store are often laden with chemicals that can end up in the finished product, not to mention the thickeners like carageenen and xantham gum are both implicated in stomach lining inflammation--not something you want to mess with if you have stomach issues.
  I've tried making different types of milk over the years, but I've not really come up with anything that seems very cost or time efficient, or that produces a taste that I can tolerate.
  The Flax milk from the store was decent, but uses xantham gum.  Then I wondered if anyone else had been making this stuff at home--of course they have! 
 Time to give it a try:

1/4 th C. flax seeds
6 cups water
5 pitted dates

 See the blog above for directions.

To be fair, if raw milk were produced in confined dairy operations, the way normal milk is, it would probably be making lots of people sick.  Maybe that means we should re-think how we are treating our animals and phase-out the horrible practices that produces the sick milk in the first place.  The price of milk would go up, at least until more farmers could adopt a more humanitarian and safe approach.  I guess that's kind of where we stand with all our food stuff!  
  In any case, I'll let you know how it goes!

Okay, it's August and I  can say I've been making cashew milk and flax milk for awhile now. I wish I could say the flax was a smashing success with the little ones...but alas, they won't drink it. Flax is perfect as far as the price goes too.  Golden flax is apparently the way to go as it has a less "fishy" taste to it, I don't really mind it so I make it for myself, but my son will only drink cashew milk, and only right after it's made.  I think it's the "bits" he doesn't like, so if I really strain out the cashew bits (or I had the vitamix *drool*) I think that would work fine...If you have a regular blender, you most definitely have to soak the cashews ahead and strain.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fermented Root Beer Take 1

Well, Root Beer take 1 was a failure.  I started the ginger bug when it was still pretty cold out.  It took three tries and nothing would grow.  Most of our food here is irradiated, so it may be that I was doomed to failure as far as getting the ginger bug itself to grow.  I did get something to grow eventually, but I suspect it was yeast from the air rather than anything on the ginger itself.  I got that going, it was bubbly and looked and smelled great, then I brewed up the root beer, let it cool, and added the ginger bug.  I did not add it to a large mouth container, but instead was attempting to brew directly in the 2 liter bottle I was using, that may have been another problem.  I started shaking the mixture so it would get more air, but it never fizzed up, eventually it just turned to vinegar and I had to throw it out.  The root beer itself, before I tried to ferment it, tasted great, but without fizz, there is no way my 3 year old is going to drink it, plus we'd miss out on all the great beneficial bacteria.
  Something else interesting to note...
All the recipes I can find use ginger bug to start the root beer, but I doubt that early settlers here had access to ginger root.  I let some dried chopped up licorice root set in some water overnight, and it took to bubbling right away, much easier than the ginger, it also took no sugar to get the process started.  I tasted some of the water and it tasted great--not off like it was spoiling, just fizzy.  I'm willing to bet that the original starter for root beer was simply one of the roots they were using at the time (recipes are extremely varied, and would have been different depending on what was available).  I hear burdock also makes a good starter.  This leaves me to wondering though...did they ever just throw all the roots and berries together and just let it sit, then strain off and drink? The resulting brew would not be as strong, but I believe it could be done.
  Just some root beer for thought.  Write a comment and let me know if you've experimented with any of this.  I'd love to compare notes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Prolific Amount of Stuff I've Fermented This Last Year

While I'm back on gut health again I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of the fermented stuff I've made this year, including what I experimented with and what I found out.

Salsa--fermented with starter from mature sour kraut, I kept the jars in the fridge.  I ate the last jar about 4 months after making it, and it was still perfect!

Injera-- Ethiopian flatbread made with a soured grain (teff), you just mix water and ground teff and let it sit till bubbly.  You fry on one side, I suspect there might be a bit of good bacteria on the "up" side.

Oats--mix water and oats, let it get bubbly...unfortantely I've discovered after this year, I don't get to do that anymore.  I am also gluten-free oat sensitive.

Sour kraut--I discovered I can't use brine from old batches to make the new sour kraut, it ruined a whole batch, there was a special "eye of sauron" yellow mold on top, that made everything underneath pure mush...the whole batch had to go.  Sour kraut also does better with a lid on, it's not like vinegar where you want the air to get to it.

Kimchi--if you don't like mustard greens don't add them, no matter how good the recipe looks!  The irony is that the mustard greens tasted great, but everything else tasted like mustard greens...bleeeack! I've also had problems with apples (I wanted them in there so badly I've tried 2x) turning mushy.  apples are great in sour kraut, but I don't like the texture in kimchi, some people puree the apple and /or pear for this reason I suspect, but I actually don't think I like the sweet taste either.

vinegar--apple scrap and crab apple vinegar this year, easier than apple pie! throw scraps into water, stir every day, after it gets really bubbly, strain off the solids, cover with a cloth and wait (you can add a bit of starter from mature raw vinegar if you like), stir daily, or as you can remember, mine has been pretty forgiving.

Kombucha--I have a new scoby this year from my best friend and her family....I have discovered what my husband has always feared...the scoby seems to have intelligence...or at least preference.  This particular scoby will only produce kombucha with black tea.  I've had other scobies, I've never seen one with a preference...maybe I should name it.

Ketchup--made ketchup from scratch, used half the amount of vinegar in the pot while cooking, other half went in after it cooled.  left it on the counter a couple days, then into the fridge.  My husband seemed to make noise about adding less vinegar next time, which I think is doable,  it will taste more like vinegar as it "matures."

Mayonnaise--made it from scratch, added good quality yogurt and raw vinegar as starter

Pickles--tried to make a batch without garlic for my sensitive sweetheart...I ended up with mold and threw it out, that garlic really inhibits mold growth.  The batches with garlic kept fine, I'd say the more the merrier if you can handle it.

I think that's everything.

Next up.....
 hard cider--
finally finished juicing this falls apples...note to self, waiting to juice is a bad idea...the apples got mealy and I spent twice as long trying to get the juice out.  It gets to sit on the counter for a bit, then get airlocked for my first try at hard cider...

Real Cola from Kola Nut

Real Root Beer

I'll get the ginger bug going for the sodas soon...I have these high hopes of making soda that is actually healthy for my boy to consume...whether or not he'll actually consume it is another matter...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rx Food

 When diet is wrong medicine is of no use, when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.  --Ayurvedic proverb

The Health's continuing explore strange new foods, to seek out better health and greater boldy eat what no American has eaten before!!!

     I suspect I can always feel better than I do. I am usually right.  I suspect you can feel better than you do too.  Being healthy for me is kinda like overcoming Sin for a good, practicing, Christian.  It's something I'm always striving for, often failing at.
      I could always cut out more sugar, cut caffeine, exercise more, switch up the diet, try some herbs, fast or eat lightly 2 days a week, make some bone broth, meditate.  Then there's the times when I just Fail, and eat half a box of gluten free oreos or something.  I don't let myself do stuff like that very often, so I don't really beat myself up about it. Still, if I did all the things I know I should do all of the time, I'd be a little trimmer, probably have better energy etc.  I'd probably also be a little sad at missing the Oreos...

      Having a gluten intolerance for most, if not all of my life, has left my immune system and digestion (which are closely connected!) at a disadvantage. I had the good fortune of living a drivable distance to Fairfield Iowa for many years.
  Going to an ayurvedic doctor is expensive.  It kind of feels like wallet rape.  It's exactly like going to a normal doctor without insurance, since insurance doesn't cover an ayurvedic doctor or the meds.  My stomach had been so screwed for so long by around 2005 I was looking for answers.  I'd been the Western Medicine route. The fact that I had extreme stomach pain and visible stomach lining inflammation was just ignored.  So was the fact that the Prilosec wasn't helping one bit.

      My husband and I had not yet finished college and this was no small expense.  We discussed it at length, even did a tarot reading on it.  For some reason the reading predicted that my health would always be better as a result.  I really could not think why that would be (unless it worked), but with nothing left to lose but my cash, I went for it.
  The Ayurvedic's taught me how to use food as medicine.  Hell, they taught me that you could use food as medicine, something entirely absent from our culture until recently.  Lucky for me, I was ahead of the curve, because if I hadn't been, I suspect my health would be much worse by now.
     For the Ayurvedics there is a pre-disease stage.  If you pay heed to early signs and symptoms, and can correct your imbalance in a timely fashion, the disease can be avoided.  They taught the things that I'd always felt,  if you have pain, you shouldn't just pop a pill and make it go away, you need to pay attention.  It's one of your body's ways of communicating with you.
  My digestion was much better after my ayruvedic diet and herbs.  I didn't almost vomit at every meal and  I learned to rotate foods better, and learned at what amount certain foods could be detrimental to my body, but it was still not the panacea I'd been looking for.  It was as good as I was going to get at the time....
      It paved the way though, for a greater attention to detail at how my body communicated with me.  If I had gone on the diet and gone off of gluten my life would have gone a lot differently, but alas, there are some things you just can't figure out in time.
  My route to better health made other stops after that.  I discovered the gluten intolerance by chance (having cut it out on accident after a trip to the Asian grocery). A chiropractor suggested an in-depth vitamin/mineral testing, also pricey and not covered by insurance.
     What it turned up was astounding to me, I was a lactating woman, deficient in magnesium, D, calcium, proteins and fat.  In fact, after I found this out, I went from a largely vegetarian diet (which had helped me through my younger, pre-child years) to what I call "all meat all the time".  I ate animal products for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I took supplements, and I began to feel better.  Now, I am not one of those vegetarians who just ate pasta all the time.  I got tons of whole grains, leafy greens, beans, nuts etc.  but I could not compete with lack of absorption (because my stomach was ruined) and the fact that the proteins and fats were literally being sucked out of my body.  I guess we just have to learn to change with the times!  The diet that is right for one phase of your existence, will not necessarily be right for another.  Lesson learned.
     I'm certain my health journey is not over.  Even if I have reached a plateau, I can be certain a new phase of existence (say, menopause!) will knock me down, and force me to re-evaluate and adjust everything.  I don't think there is anything more important in this battle than my own, active intellect.  To watch how each food makes me feel  in each moment, to monitor cravings and try to decipher what it is my body needs in that moment, is something I will have to do all my life.  Like yoga, it is the " ox yoke" that I put on for better health.  To not do so, to ignore what I eat, well, I do so at my own peril.  Increasingly, this is so for everyone else as well.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

American Gods

It has been a really long time since I read Neil Gaimen's "American Gods", I don't remember much about it now, but it still pops up now and again in my mind, and with it the question of "who are the American Gods"? Some (many?) are borrowed from our European ancestors, but others were a part of this land before we were, as unique as the earth they were born in. 
  Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyun, and even Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson  could all be candidates.  Deities such as the Corn Mother of Native Americans (who bears a strong archetypal connection with Demeter) should be brought up here, although many of these our current culture doesn't pay homage to outright.  Indirectly we worship the corn, because it provides our nation with just about everything right now.  People living in the midwest can attest to this, as we've watched the tiny tree-lines dozed to make way for yet more corn (and hopefully the occasional crop rotation of soy--Make way for the Goddess of Corn In Excess!!).
  What other God/desses do we have here? What do we worship both directly, and indirectly?
  Football, and thus, competition and aggression seems to be high on the list, as well, as acquiring physical goods, especially, technological goods.  A God (or Goddess?) of the internet cannot be denied, we have come so far from Hermes' (often a god of technology) original domain, I can only assume that a new god has had to wrestle the keyboard from his Father's shaky hands and say "no, Dad, that e-mail that says you won 5 million dollars will actually re-direct you to a phishing site."--"A fishing what?"
  We may not set up conscious alters to these Gods, but we worship them in indirect ways nontheless. Think of all the set-up that goes into Super-Bowl Sunday, with special foods to cook, special colors and items to wear, it kind of reminds me a bit of x-mas...
  I could elaborate, but I think it's time to get on to other things, you hopefully get the idea.
But tell me, what Gods do we worship that I didn't mention, and what things do we do for their worship, what kind of domain do they control?
Just something to ponder.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sick After The Holidays

This holiday season seemed to extend on forever.  I am ready to get back into some routine.  As many parents of young children know, however, you just get into the routine in the winter, when your kids get sick.  Then whilst getting up at night and nursing them back to health you get sick in the process. 
  At least we seem to have caught most of the nastiness early on this year.
  This time, our son just threw up once, then seemed right back to his normal self.  I, on the other hand, am just constantly nauseous, and questioning the sanity of eating the jalapeno poppers I just made (wouldn't those burn on the way up??).
  Is it just me, or have the stomach bugs and respiratory bugs the past couple years been extra virulent?
  I am amazed at the regular folks (with no kids to throw up on them) who are catching these things.  Prior to 2011, I had not had a stomach flu in 15 years.  At least not one that actually caused me to throw up.  After these past couple years I can now tell if I have a "touch" of it...sometimes that happens without much of any other symptoms.
  I can't believe we officially made it through the holidays with nothing new, only to have it now.  I don't think there was a single dry nose during the entire X-mas season.
  Now, just to avoid a post wherein I do nothing but whine I'll post something more helpful:

 Apparently the bugs that cause the stomach flu can stick around on surfaces for something like a week.  Around here I mix thyme oil, lemon, water and a bit of crappy, hawkeye vodka.  I spray everything down after we've been sick including the cloth surfaces, spray a bit in the air, and wash all the towels and sheets, and either wash the blankets or spray them down on both sides.  I especially do this if I know another Little One is coming over.  I don't remember how affective something like Lysol is, but I do know I prefer the smell of the thyme and lemon for sure.  I can't find the article anymore, but thyme is supposed to be even better at killing virus and bacteria than Lysol. There's a bit of science to back it up--which is a certainly a plus. I did find this article though. 
  I also use one of those essential oil plug-ins with the cotton pad on top.  I usually put cinnamon in it, as I don't like the smell of thyme 24/7.  I suppose a nebulizer would be more effective, I really have no idea, I just use what I have.  So far this year, I haven't caught any of the many flu bugs circulating this house.  Barring any of those, you can always boil a bunch of rosemary and/or sage from your spice cabinet, keep it going while the most airborn flu particles are circulating (like active barfing).
  Good luck everyone!