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.