This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Occupy Pancakes.... taking back breakfast one bite at a time!

Pancakes are another food that has been hoodwinked by the industrial food system.  While these may look like the same kind of pancakes you could make with a box of Bisquick or Aunt Jemima mix, they are most definitely not.  These pancakes are to Bisquick as hearing your favorite band play live is to going to amateur karaoke night at a drunken bar.  You might be hearing the same words, but it is a completely different experience on a cellular level.  The live music feeds the body and soul while the bad karaoke leaves you feeling cheapened by the experience.  Your cells will recognize the difference in these pancakes as well. 

Organic hulled buckwheat

Organic spelt

For starters, I started with something pure.  In this case organic hulled buckwheat and organic spelt.  With the magic of my new Vitamix grain attachment, I could take a cup of the grain and just whiz it into flour in a jiffy!  I think there are some better grain grinders out there, but since I already had the Vitamix and the grain attachment was just about $100 it seemed like a better deal to just add that than to spend more for just the grain grinder.  Perhaps if I was running a bakery or doing heavy duty grinding I would need something that could handle larger loads, but for home use I am pleased with how the Vitamix grain attachment is working.

I took the flour and then used one of Sally Fallon's pancake recipes which calls for soaking the flour overnight in an acidic medium so that your body can more easily digest the grain.  This concept of soaking grains is something that has been done for centuries around the world but the concept seems to have been lost here since the advent of industrialized food.  There are many benefits to soaking grain as the link I provided discusses in further detail but some of the most important are to reduce the amount of phytic acid, encourage the production of beneficial enzymes, to increase the amount of B vitamins and to break down gluten and make the digestive process easier.  I think part of the gluten free craze is that people's bodies are voting through allergic reaction and other ailments that it is not normal or healthy to eat grains that have not been properly prepared and somehow once again, America missed the memo on that one.

I looked at the ingredients in some of the typical pancake mixes and here were some of the things I saw:  enriched bleached flour (which essentially means that everything good was stripped out of it and then some synthetic vitamins were popped back in), polysorbate 60 (don't know what it is... but doubt it is good for you), partially hydrogenated soybean oil (KNOW it is terrible for you), mono and diglycerides (???--again back to Pollan's food rule if you don't understand it, don't eat it), corn syrup solids (yuk), sodium casenate... you get the idea.

Simple Soaked Pancakes

2 cups of freshly ground flour
2 cups of buttermilk or kefir or yogurt *  (If you prefer to do dairy free you can use 2 cups of filtered water with 2 tablespoons of whey, lemon juice or vinegar in place of the yogurt/buttermilk)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda (I find I like to use less-- like 1/2 tsp because I don't like the baking soda aftertaste that can occur if you put too much in)
2 TBS melted butter

You let the flour sit in the acidic mix (whatever you chose) overnight covered on your counter.  In the morning, you mix in the eggs, salt, butter and baking soda and then just mix up the pancakes as usual.  

Then serve with maple syrup (real) and melted butter.

I think the pancakes are absolutely terrific and it is a way to enjoy a classic food and make it good for you too.  We deserve better than boxed, stale, tired, "fake" food!  So take back your kitchen and give boxed breakfasts the boot and make Laura Ingalls Wilder smile as you eat pioneer pancakes that will make your great, great, great grandmother smile!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Celebrate with a Glass of Kvass!

Beet Kvass all dressed up!

I have a lot to celebrate today.  I just finished up a big work project and the kids in my afterschool math program just took their last contest of the year.  To savor the moment, I took a break and had a nice glass of Kvass.

Beet what?  Yes, that is beet kvass, a drink generally thought of as a tonic.  In the traditional diet classic book Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon Morell, she reports that this drink is known for promoting regularity, aiding digestion, alkalizing the blood and cleansing the liver.  She also says it is good for kidney stones.  She references a book called Ukranian Dishes by Lubow Kyivska and in the book Kyivska says that no Ukranian home was ever without its beet kvass. 

It is a very simple drink to make.  It is just a few beets cut up coarsely and then some whey, sea salt and filtered water.  You put this on the counter for several days and you are rewarded with Beet Kvass which can then stay in the fridge for a long time but probably won't because you'll drink it up soon (however it tastes even better if you let it sit a few more days in the fridge before you break into it).  

I happen to actually like the taste of this stuff so I drank my kvass in a fancy glass and savored it like a fine wine.  Perhaps when one has been eating fermented foods for so long, these things actually start tasting good!  They do to me.

There is something magical about beets and fermented beets apparently are like an exclamation point; they just make everything about the beets more nutritious and in a form your body can easily absorb.

 Here's how Sally makes her Kvass:

3 medium organic beets, peeled and chopped coarsely
1/4 cup whey
1 TBS sea salt
filtered water

Put the beets in a mason jar and add the whey and sea salt and then fill the rest of the jar with filtered water.  I sometimes find that cutting back the salt to about 3/4 TBS is the right mix for me.  The whey can be made by taking yogurt in a strainer and letting it drip through a cheese cloth into a bowl for several hours.  The clear liquid that strains through is the whey and if you do this long enough, the yogurt will become cream cheese!  (bonus cheese making lesson).  

That's it, you just put all the stuff in the jar, stir it together, and let it sit on your counter with the lid secured.  In three days, you will have a slightly sour, very pleasing tonic that you can drink in the morning and at night at about 4 oz each.  There is no alcoholic fermentation going on, just a nice development of lactic acid that is a great probiotic and a healing drink.  If you grated the beets you might get into the alcoholic type of fermentation but this drink is not about that.

When you get down to the bottom of the jar with just a little liquid still left, you can refill with filtered water and start the process all over again by making another batch letting it sit on the counter again for three days.  It won't be quite as potent the second time around, but it is still good.

So from those humble 3 beets you can get a gallon of healing tonic that will do all kinds of good things for your body!  If you become a fermentation regular like me, somewhere along the line you will find that you actually enjoy the taste!  I find it cleansing and energizing and I can almost feel on a cellular level how it is doing good things for my body.  Cheers!

And apparently I'm not the only one yapping on about the beauty of this kvass.  Here are a few other bloggers who love the stuff as much as me:


Also posted at Kelly the Kitchen Kop