Thursday, January 23, 2014

What to Do with Raw Milk

I have been eating a fairly low carb diet for the past twelve years, ever since I moved to Missouri to start Project Bow, and it has kept me healthy. I am not overweight, I am seldom sick, and most of the time I feel fine. But... things could be better. And that's why I am looking into raw milk.

I enjoy eating many different kinds of foods, including meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts, cheeses, yogurts and even cakes and sweets. When I was little, I could eat anything, and just about everything agreed with me. As I grew older, fewer and fewer things agreed with me. I had to start to restrict my diet, just so I could have a good day.

The first thing that had to go was liver. I can't eat that, anymore, although I used to enjoy liver with fried onions. Later, I pretty much eliminated Coca-Cola and other sugary carbonated drinks. I still can have an occasional Coke when I eat out. But the only reason I can afford to do that is because I hardly ever eat out.

I learned that bread was not good for me, and neither was cake. Eliminating store bought bread in the United States was not hard for me, because it does not even taste like bread. If I were in Israel it would be more of a problem. But I do occasionally bake cakes, because I have a human daughter and a chimpanzee son, and there's no reason they should be entirely deprived, just because I can't enjoy cake without taking a punishment.

When I bake a cake, I try a piece, too. And sometimes I can get away with that. And sometimes I can't, and I feel very bad the next day. So I repent of my evil sin of indulgence, and I swear to do better in the future. But complete abstinence is hard, and I personally don't believe that that is the best answer to every "substance abuse" problem.

I accept the low carb credo, and I abide by it, more or less. I understand that highly processed foods, like sugar and flour and other carbs play a real number on our system and can result in spikes in our blood glucose that can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes. I also understand that sugar feeds parasitic yeast cultures in our body, and especially those in our GI tract. So staying away from carbs is a good idea for anyone who has these problems.

It's just that .... wouldn't it be great to be somebody who doesn't have problems? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a body that knows how to eliminate excess blood sugar and excess bacteria in the gut without depriving the person who inhabits it of the joys of normal carbohydrate intake? I still am a big fan of eating more fat than carbs. I just don't want to feel that I can't have an occasional carbohydrate treat if I want one.

I have also read that having the wrong bacteria in the gut can cause mental issues, including anxiety, depression and autism. One way to fight bad bacteria in the gut is to take antibiotics designed to kill them. I have anecdotal evidence that this really works. One time I had the flu and antibiotics were prescribed to me. One side effect was that my gut felt as good as new for about a week! I thought I was cured. But, of course, living on antibiotics is a very bad idea. What else can we do? We could repopulate the gut with good bacteria. The good bacteria would then help to drive the bad ones out -- or at least keep them in check.

 I am going to try to repopulate my gut with the right kind of bacteria. One way to do that is to take probiotics, but it would mean trusting a drug company to process the cultures correctly, and I am not that trusting. Another way is to drink raw milk and to make milk by-products that are chock full of good bacteria.

What does raw milk taste like? It's a lot like store bought milk, only richer and creamier. It is good for you, higher in fat, and therefore lower in carbs, and with a hint of the taste of mother's milk. But if you want the real benefits of raw milk, try it after it has gone sour! Store bought milk has to be thrown out the moment it goes bad, but raw milk keeps getting better and better!

I am still learning about the process of turning raw milk into other products chock full of good bacteria, so I will just include a few videos here by Sarah Day. She seems to know a lot about the topic! The first video is about separating milk and cream.

The next is about how to make cream cheese and  liquid whey.

And this one is about how to make sour cream!

Have you ever wondered about how to make buttermilk and butter? Sarah Day will show us how.

Of course, you can also just drink the plain milk raw, which is good, too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Turkish Delight in the Heart of Everyday Winter

by Michelle PG Richardson, Guest Blogger

When I was young, winter always meant that “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (the movie of the book by C.S. Lewis), would be on television.  It was a special my sister and I never missed.   My mom would call the two of us into the den and get us both cozy on the couch.  Our TV was a big 70’s color console, and even though we wanted to sit on the floor closer to it, we weren’t allowed.  Eight to ten feet back was the rule.  Any closer was bad for our eyes.

My sister and I loved that movie.  It never got old.  It was the first place I’d ever heard of Turkish Delight, the enchanted candies that the White Witch enticed Edward with.  They symbolized the sins of the flesh: greed and gluttony; though neither of us understood, nor did we care to understand any of that at the time.   We did, however, understand that the crinkle of plastic, and the closing of the freezer door, followed by the rip of foil paper, meant that we were in for a special treat of our own: oven-warmed Twinkies.  Golden, creamy perfection.

Sweets were a rarity in my house growing up.  Usually it meant a spoon of honey with a piece of walnut.  In the summer it meant fruity popsicles, or vanilla ice cream with cut up strawberries.  At Christmas it meant Baklava.  At New Years it was Vaselopita (a dense spicy cake with a dime baked in – the one who got the dime in their slice would get good luck for the rest of the year).  

But in the heart of everyday winter, while The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe played, we got what my sister and I considered the best treat of all, one oven-warmed Twinkie a piece. Though in truth not nearly the same sort of sweet at all, in theory, it was our very own enchanted Turkish Delight.  With cream filling oozing out of the three little holes down the middle.  We’d count each time.  Sometimes, if we were lucky, there would be a crack in the toasty cake that would also ooze cream filling that we could lick up before taking our first bite. We were very proud and savored them as we thought Edward should have savored his Delight.  In our opinion, he ate his much too fast.  We knew Edward’s desire for an endless supply of his favorite treat.  Though unlike Edward, we were content with what we had and would never think of turning on each other for more.  Not really.

I’d never given a second thought to real Turkish Delight.  They haven’t sold them anywhere I’ve been (though I hear that some fine restaurants in Chicago and New York offer them on their menu).  My mother said she’d had them as a child and that they were indeed very rich, and very good, and very small.  She grew up in Greece, so I assumed they were an exotic sweet and that perhaps one day, when I got to travel to exotic countries, I might chance upon a fine little shop’s counter display of Turkish Delight and fall in love.  I expected I would find them, or they would find me.  I never expected that I would be making them myself.

This past year I’ve been dabbling in quite a bit of dessert making, from melt in your mouth, paper thin, butter cookies to decadent chocolate brandy truffles, making up for lost time, I suppose.  I found I was rather good at making what most people considered difficult sweets.  But I had yet to try something where a candy thermometer was involved.  It was time to test my abilities.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe had been strong on my mind.  It was, after all, that time of year again, a decades old ritual calling to me.  And for the first time, I thought long and hard about Turkish Delight.  I dreamed about them.  I studied recipes.  I became obsessed with the desire to offer my winter guests the food version of “the sins of the flesh”.  I wanted to make a creation, an offering, which would entice and mesmerize with every bite that crossed each set of lips.  I wanted to be the Queen of decadence.  And so I set out to do just that.

Michelle PG Richardson, Eye On Life Magazine

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Salad with Cream Cheese from Sour Cream

I have been reading up on how natural cultures in dairy products might help to fend off mental issues. Meanwhile, in my own refrigerator, unbeknownst to me, a minor transformation was taking place with in my sour cream.

The sour cream was not past its expiration date. It did not smell or taste bad. But part of it had frozen in the back of the refrigerator, and it was dehydrated and seemed a lot more like cream cheese and a lot less like sour cream.

I decided to add cherry tomatoes and leftover brussels sprouts to the cheese and the tortilla. This is what I served Bow for lunch today.

Bow asked for the salad first. Because he started with the tortilla, he kind of forgot to use his spoon most of the time.

Bow liked his salad so much that he only ate an apple afterwards and did not want his banana or his soup.

I am going to have to research the culture they put in the sour cream after pasteurization. How is this culture different from the bacteria they kill during the process of heating? There is so much more I will need to learn before I understand what cultures we may currently be missing in our diet.

But Bow has no questions. It's all good, as far as he's concerned.