June 4, 2008

  • Sour Dough

    I made my first successful batch of SourDough bread this afternoon. It was pretty good if I do say so myself. When I first attempted it after activating the sour dough cultures I bought from http://www.fermentedtreasures.com The instructions said that it might take a few weeks and even months for the full “sour” flavor to develop. My first couple of batches were pretty much failures.

    Here is the recipe I used and it made two large loaf pan sized loaves

    SourDough Bread
    1 Quart Sourdough Starter
    6+ cups freshly ground spelt, kamut or hard winter wheat (I used hard white wheat)
    1 tbsp coarse sea salt
    1 cup cold filtered water

    Traditional sourdough bread, prepared with a starter rather than with yeast, has a delicious flavor but tends to be heavy for modern tastes. Spelt gives the most satisfactory loaf.

    Your starter should be at room temperature and have gone through the bubbling, frothy stage, like the picture below.

    Place starter, salt and 1 cup water in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the salt crystals have dissolved. Slowly mix in the flour. Towards the end you will find it easier to mix with your hands. You may add more water if the dough becomes too thick. It should be rather soft and easy to work. Knead by pulling and folding over, right in the bowl, for 10 to 15 minutes; or knead in batches in your food processor.

    Without pressing down the dough, cute or shape loves into the desired shapes or place into 2 large well buttered loaf pans or 4 smaller loaf pans. Cut a few slits in the top of the dough, cover and let rise from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Allow to cool before slicing.

    The bread will keep for a week without refrigeration.

    Here is how mine looked this evening.

    I originally ordered both the San Francisco and Yukon strains/flavors of sourdough but was unable to taste the difference and it was a pain keeping both cultures alive separately so I combined them. I am greatly encouraged by how easy this recipe was and how good the results were!

  • Whey

    I have had several people ask me where they can get Whey.  To my knowledge this is not something you can purchase by itself at a store.  It is however super easy to make at home and one “batch” makes enough whey to last the average user several months of use in various cultured recipes.

    If you have access to Raw Milk use the following instructions.

    1/2 gallon of raw milk
    1 tablespoon plain Yogurt or 1 capsule pro biotics.

    Mix together and place in a glass jar on counter and cover with clean cloth and rubber band.  Leave for 2 to 4 days until milk separates.  Line a colander with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl.  Dump milk/liquid into this and leave for 12 to 24 hours.  Tie up corners of cheese cloth, loop over wooden spoon and hang over gallon glass jar until liquid (whey) stops dripping out of it.  What is left in the cheese cloth can be salted to taste and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.  The “whey” can be put in a jar, tightly sealed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

    For those of you who do not have access to Raw Milk use these directions.

    1 Quart of Plain (Preferably whole and organic) Yogurt

    Line a colander with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl.  Dump yogurt into this and leave for 12 to 24 hours.  Tie up corners of
    cheese cloth, loop over wooden spoon and hang over gallon glass jar
    until liquid (whey) stops dripping out of it.  What is left in the
    cheese cloth can be salted to taste and stored in the refrigerator for
    up to 1 month.  The “whey” can be put in a jar, tightly sealed and
    stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

    Let me know if anybody decides to try it!

  • Days go by…

    I have been sadly remiss in my duties as an active participant of the Xanga world. 

    So, what is new for us?  We have a new venture that is helping to take up a lot of our previously nonexistent free time.  We now have a few plants in the ground that I hope will grow to hearty adulthood and bear fruit.  This also means I have to spare a few minutes a week to dump some water on them, and spritz them down with an organic bug repellent made from Neem Oil.  Beeyoutiful continues to go through growing pains.

    Noelle still chatters up a storm and adds things to her list of skills on a daily basis. 

    The kitchen and I are spending a lot more time together as well.  1) I am trying to stay on “top” of it better and 2) Adding more cultured/lacto fermented foods to our diet.   Right now one whole counter of our kitchen is covered with an assortment of glass containers covered with cloth.  3 containers of Kombucha, 1 Sourdough starter, 1 cultured cream cheese/whey and another soaking/sprouting beans. 

    On the whole cooking note here is an altered recipe for cultured Salsa taken from Nourishing Traditions.  Steve and I both love this Salsa!!

    4 medium/large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded (I didn’t seed mine, too lazy) and diced
    2 small onions, finely chopped
    3/4 cup chopped chile pepper, hot or mild (I used frozen mild Green Chille from NM)
    6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
    1 tsp dried mexican Oregano
    1 tsp freshly ground Cumin
    Small Dash of Cayenne
    Juice of 2 lemons
    1 tablespoon sea salt
    4 tablespoons whey (un pasturized “live” whey)
    1/4 cup filtered water

    all ingredients and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Press
    down lightly with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer, adding more water
    if necessary to cover the vegetables. The top of the vegetables should
    be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at
    room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to cold storage.
    Will stay good in cold storage for up to 6 months.

May 14, 2008

  • Small Beginnings

    TN is so beautiful in the Spring. The past couple of weeks of gorgeous weather have reminded me just how very grateful I am to live here!

    We have started our first attempts at a garden. It has been haphazard at best but thus far the little plantlings look happy. We have in the ground 18 tomato plants. Yes, you read that right. 18. And yes, we are aware just how much even ONE plant produces. We arrived at the conclusion that we need to be growing our own tomatoes fairly recently. Our goal has been to eliminate as many store canned/processed items as possible from our diet. Over the past year or so I have been tackling one thing at a time and quietly changing our diets. The most recent change was the discovery that we can make delicious and super healthy salsa right here at home. Unfortunately the cost of said homemade salsa, especially when consumed in such large quantities and using organic ingredients very quickly adds up! So our solution to the bank breaking salsa problem has been to grow several of the main ingredients ourselves and can our own salsa like crazy when our hopefully bumper crop comes in.

    There are also 9 cabbages that really took off just this past week. Beside them is a row of Cucumbers. Down by the newly planted peach tree is a water melon. There are also a couple of pepper plants as well. Yes it is a strange start for a garden and if you saw it you would probably think it even more strange. We have not done any of the tilling or mulching traditional gardening calls for. Actually we have hardly done anything at all. Thus far we have literally dug holes in the ground just big enough for the seedlings, mixed in some black forest dirt in with the sandy clay and watered well. Along the sides of the plants and inbetween we are layering cardboard. It kills the weeds, keeps the sun off the roots and holds moisture well. I anticipate over time the cardboard breaking down and becoming a layer of mulch.

    We are now dreaming of what it would take to have a truly fantastic, organic garden complete with green house etc. Will probably only ever stay in the pipe dream stage but that is something we have always loved to do as a couple. Dream of possibilities. Figure out how we would make something work and how much would have to be invested vs. possible return. Being able to dream with Steve and figure out practical ways to make some of our dreams/goals/desires come true is one of the many reasons I so passionately love that man. Our lives are consumed to over flowing with work and ministry but we are so very blessed to be able to do it together.

    I want to start posting some of our favorite recipes soon. Have been having so much fun converting old favorites into healthy new favorites without compromising too much taste and texture. In most cases we actually prefer the taste of the healthier versions now! I just found a recipe for homemade tortillas so will be adding that to our list of items to make at home now vs. buying pre-made. My only complaint with this “new” way of life is that it is SOOooo much more time consuming than simply running to the store and buying something when we are out. We are slowly adjusting though and are starting to see benefits in our health.

May 7, 2008

  • Misery and Spiders (Warning, Gross pics)

    The past few days have been rough for me. We have finally concluded that I was bitten by a spider. Most likely a Brown Recluse or Black Widow. Brown Recluse is more likely considering our geographical location but my symptoms match a Black Widows bite better.

    I honestly do not remember being this miserable ever before in my life. In case anyone reading this is not familiar with what a spider bite can do to you allow me to elaborate.

    I personally experienced all of the following symptoms from my bite(s):
    - Continual low grade fever that would occasionally spike resulting in violent shivering
    - Shooting pains in the major muscle groups
    -Severe headache
    - Tachycardia (rapid heart beat)
    - Numbness in hands and feet
    - Difficulty Breathing
    - Anxiety and some mental confusion (although who knows. Maybe this was just me being me. )

    Because it took us so long to figure out what the bite was, much less what probable kind of spider it inflicted this upon me we decided against seeking medical care. According to several resources all an ER could do without having a positive ID on what sort of spider inflicted the bit is to pump you full of high powered anti biotics to fight any secondary infection, give you pain relief/fever reducers while having you on an IV to help flush the toxin/venom out faster. We have been treating it with a variety of natural things with varying degrees of success. At least now I know what DOES work naturally and what does NOT. Here is what I would do from the beginning if I had it to do over again, and what I plan on doing if something like this happens in the future.

    - If you have an arsenal of Essential Oils at your disposal skip over things like tea tree oil (was recommended on one site…Didn’t do a THING for me) and go straight to Clove Oil. Not only will it relieve the pain of the actual bite but it will kill any bacteria that might cause a secondary infection to build up in the deteriorating flesh in the middle of the bite.
    - The Four Thieves Essential Oil from Young Living will also help with any possible infections when taken internally and rubbed on key points of the body externally. If you slather Aloe on with the Essential Oil it acts as a carrier and aids in it being absorbed into the blood stream faster/more efficiently.
    - Raw Garlic: I had been putting off starting this but as soon as I did it made a big difference almost immediately. A couple of cloves every two hours is what is working really well for me. I chop it and then try to hide it in something.
    - Bentonite Clay: Using this at the beginning can make a HUGE difference. I two other bites after the initial one. Knowing what was going on this time I put a plaster of Bentonite Clay on it overnight and it almost completely did away with them. With followup treatment of Clove Oil they have both disappeared without leaving any scarring at all.

    This is what it looked like before I started the Bentonite Clay Poultices and the Clove Essential Oil. You can see how it is starting to look infected in the middle

    This is what it looks like today. The infection has cleared up and the redness stopped advancing. Going to continue to treat it aggressively topically.


    I am feeling SO much better today and so grateful to God. Hoping the remaining symptoms totally clear up over the next day or so.

April 19, 2008

  • Toddler Doodles

    Noelle seems to have turned into a full blown toddler over night. We are now starting to get past the “Aww, it’s such a little tiny person actually WALKING!” stage and moving on into the “Wow, the little tiny person sure does move fast and no! Noelle drop that/don’t eat that/put that down” stage. She seems to be into EVERY thing these days. It is so hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that she is going to be one in a couple of weeks.

    We finally managed to complete the weaning process. Got her down from nursing once or twice a day to not at all. She still remembers enough to ask every so often but all in all I am very relieved that it went so well. Between my supply being all but gone and her being so easily entertained and distracted by other things it was really quite easy. A relief to me since I had anticipated it being a lot harder emotionally on her than it was!

    Steve and I are talking about doing a complete water fast next week. I have had some health problems that we both really think from the reading/researching we have done will be significantly helped with a complete fast. He did one years ago in Russia and had some fantastic health results from it including his severe hypoglycemia disappearing. He has started to have some problems again that he thinks would benefit from a fast. To say I am dreading this would be an understatement. I loath going without food. It will be way easier if I have someone suffering through it with me though. Although Steve is such a rock I doubt there will be much suffering going on there. It’ll be more like this:

    Me: “sniff sniff…I’ve been without food for TWELVE HOURS! I think I’m dying.”
    Him: “Wow, 12 hours already? I thought we just started an hour ago.”

    Me: “I am so weak and shaky. I don’t want to get out of bed.”
    Him: I think I want to go for a little bit of a run today!”

    Me: “I am having hallucinations about chocolate. It’s floating just in front of me I can even SMELL it.”
    Him: “Huh, I haven’t even really missed food yet.”

    It will be nice to do this during the week when we have so many people around to help out with Noelle so that if I do turn into the most pathetic thing around she will have some Mommy backups to play with.

    I think I am going to go eat while I still can.

April 15, 2008

  • He made it home!

    After a couple of days of anxiety on my part, mostly fueled by and the fault of a very hyper active imagination we finally picked John up from the airport! He has spent the last four weeks in Malawi, South Africa.

    He looks to be 10 or more lbs lighter than he was when he left and about four shades darker in coloring. That African sun sure does give a fantastic tan! Overall he looks great. Suspect jet lag will hit him like a ton of bricks tomorrow but tonight he is up sharing some of his pictures and stories.

    We are so thankful he made it back safe and sound. Our (Mostly mine, Steve pretty much makes it a policy not to worry about things until he needs to) concern was caused by the fact that we showed up at the airport on the appointed day for him to return with our copy of his flight itinerary. After watching the entire flight he was supposedly on disembark and pick up their luggage with no sign of John I went to the United Counter and proceeded to beg information. Strictly according to the law they were not allowed to get me any information but after spinning my tale of worry for little brother out of the country for the first time, sick with Malaria, no means of contacting us due to a dead cell phone etc they finally broke down and decided to help. After almost three hours we were told that he was either
    A) In quarantine (interesting side note with that, if you are quarantined coming into the US you are not even allowed one phone call!) or
    B) Still stuck in Africa or
    C) In Dulles airport in DC. They paged him every half hour at Dulles with no response.

    With visions of John lost in deepest darkest Africa flitting through my mind we reluctantly headed back home to resume the search the next day and praying he would contact us. As it turns out they did not get him to the Airport on time to make his scheduled flight out of Malawi so he ended up flying to Zimbabwe instead of Ethiopia where they informed him that they had no record of his flight. So he hung out there for a day or so until they could get him worked onto a flight. He couldn’t call us because guess what? Cingular doesn’t have service Zimbabwe in case anyone was wondering.

    Anyway. We are super happy having him back safe! Hoping to arrange a get together for people to come and hear how his trip went from da man himself.

March 24, 2008

  • Piguet/Rink Wedding

    We were able to attend and be a part of (Well, Steve was anyway) the Piguet/Rink wedding on Saturday.

    Do not have much time to post a writen commentary but thought I would put up a few pictures from the event.

    The happy couple.

    Noelle and Steve before the Ceremony.  Steve was the best man!  The bestest man around if you ask me.

    Taking a stroll around the foyer.

    Two of the lovely bridesmaids.  Rachel Miller and AnnPhyllis Murphy.

    Steve and Doodles walking down the aisle.

    Noelle telling me about the cool nursery toys.