Thursday, May 28, 2009

CSA Report: 4th Week of May

CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where local farms and CSA programs abound. When I lived in Portland, I discovered that CSA's fill up by January at the latest. Here in Eugene, there is a bit more time, but they still fill before the growing season begins. If you live anywhere near farm land, I would wager there are farms doing CSA near you. For a helpful place to start looking, check out Local Harvest.

Their are many lovely perks from being a part of a CSA. I LOVE supporting my local farms, eating local produce, and eating seasonally. I enjoy having new vegetables to master in the kitchen (who knew we all LOVE the parsnip). This is real food grown naturally by the real earth. It is nutrient-dense, and it tastes superior to it's off-season, non-organic counterparts. Additionally, it is fresh, it doesn't travel far, there is not much packaging and it is cheaper than buying from the farmers market or grocery store. If there is an abundance of a harvest, you enjoy a share of that surplus (my fingers are crossed for this to happen with strawberries this year).

The drawbacks, for those thinking about switching, is that you are at the mercy of the farms harvest, if a crop fails, you absorb that loss along with the farmer (though I have never experienced that), further, you are constrained by what is seasonal. Most americans have lost all connection with eating foods according to season (instead have we have substituted sports to feel in tune with the changing seasons?), so for someone transitioning to CSA for produce, it might be a major change to your menu repetoir (like our current abundance of lettuces). The biggest hurdle, for people with limited cash flow (like ourselves) is that most require payment for the season up front. However, do not let that deter you, for farmers are realizing that the more they can work to divide up the payments, the easier this is on gaining customers. We were fortunate enough to find one here that allows you to pay week by week, though it remains a full season committment to do so.

This week we received:
A large bag of field greens
A large bag of spinach
A flat-leaf kale
Rainbow chard
Bunch of baby parsnips
Bunch of various radishes
Head of red leaf lettuce
Bunch of parsley
Collection of chive blossoms
A cucumber
Head of celery

I meant to take lovely photos of each of these items, but our box comes right before dinner on Monday nights, and many of the items get chopped up so fast there just is not time. I will try to be more dutiful with the camera next week.

Right now we are swimming in lettuces while I am really the only one in the family who enjoys them (actually, my eldest enjoys salad too, but he can only eat so much as a nearly 4-year-old. my two-year-old is still missing his back molars, so lettuce is a challenge. Husband will eat salad, but begrudgingly unless it's Caesar, though last nights was rich with bacon and sharp raw cheddar, which helped). I am glad that we began getting our CSA boxes before planting our garden this year (I was previously disappointed we did not plant earlier), as my original growing plans included many lettuces. We have now decided not to grow any lettuce, trusting the CSA box to keep us amply supplied with salad greens, and relying on the garden to supply me with harvests I can preserve for winter (and lettuce will not keep).

There will be more on the garden coming soon. Hopefully next week I will get back to Menu Plan Mondays which will be mapped out once we receive our harvest box.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nutrient-Dense Bread Making: A Compromise

In Sally Fallon's lovely cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, she offers a compromise for bread makers: Yeasted Buttermilk Bread. The flour is soaked, but the recipe still calls for yeast.

Yeast is a compromise because "active dry yeast" and the wild yeasts in the air that create a sourdough are not the same. Think of this difference: sourdough can take 4-12+ hours to double, and does not get punched down. That is because there are significantly less powerful yeasts at work. Further, many people use a packaged instant yeast for their bread making, which I have just discovered uses GMO's!

However, for someone transitioning to traditional foods, jumping straight to sourdough can be difficult both for flavor and for texture. Further, sometimes you need to make bread in between your sourdough cycle. We have found the Yeasted Buttermilk Bread to be delicious and easier on the stomach for my 2-year-old than commercially sprouted breads (you might note that I do not have any photos of the two loaves whole....we cannot resist this bread fresh from the oven, not even long enough to take a picture!).

Another perk: it is so easy!

Quick Directions:
Soak 4 cups whole grain flour (I use spelt) in 1 - 1.5 cups buttermilk on the counter for 12-24 hours (24 is best).
Place 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast in 1/4 cup warm filtered water with 2 tbsp honey. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp baking soda + 1 tsp sea salt to the yeast solution and mix well.
Divide soaked flour in half. Place half in food processor and combine with 1/2 cup whole grain flour (again, I use spelt), and half of the yeast solution.
Repeat with the other half of the soaked flour. Then slightly knead halves together and let rise in a bowl for 2 hours in a warm place.
Punch down and slightly knead (or process quickly again in the food processor in halves), divide in half, shape loaves, and place in buttered loaf pans. Let rise another 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn out and let cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

Alternately, when you form your loaves, you can form them into about 24 little balls and stuff them into a 11-inch spring form pan for delicious yeasted buttermilk rolls.

When I was having sourdough starter issues here at the new house (which now seem to be resolved) I was making these buttermilk loafs every other day much to the satisfaction of the whole household and anyone who stopped by.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It is Menu Plan Monday again. However, we are leaving for Portland in the middle of the week so the "plan" will be limited. The plan from Thursday night on will be to find inexpensive, nutrient-dense, GMO-free (as much as possible) food while living out of a hotel room for 5 days. Ha! Good luck to us! (and yes, I will be packing as much as I can to bring with us)

Monday

B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: PB Honey, carrots, apples, raw milk
D: Meatloaf, green salad, raw milk, kombucha
To Do: Feed sourdough mother, start beet kvass, soak oats for cookies, soak oats for porridge, dehydrate oats for cookies

Tuesday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: PB Honey, carrots, apples, raw milk, kombucha
D: Roast chicken, rice, salad, raw milk
To Do: Feed sourdough mother, make oatmeal cookies, soak oats for porridge

Wednesday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: Chicken soup with rice, raw milk, kombucha
D: Quiche, green salad, raw milk
To Do: Make sourdough, soak oats for porridge

Thursday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: PB Honey, carrot sticks, apple slices, kombucha, raw milk

PACK FOR THE WEEKEND: Raw milk, Beet Kvass, Sourdough loaves, leftover chicken, raw cheese, butter, leftover quiche, carrots, apples, bananas, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Contest!

Perhaps more useful than cultures (for those who are not home culturers), how does free non-GMO beef sound? The No GMO Challenge site is offering a giveaway to win $100 worth of meat (or anything else from U.S. Wellness Meats).

Check it out and sign up for the 30-day no GMO challenge (a requirement for entering the contest).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Photobucket
This is the first week I am participating in the Menu Plan Monday blog carnival. I am hoping to do this weekly and have this replace the "A week in my kitchen" reports (which I have neglected this year). For other menu planning inspiration visit the link above.

Monday

B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: Roast beef sandwiches, apple slices, carrot sticks, raw milk
D: Roast Chicken, rice, green salad, raw milk, kombucha
To Do: Soak rice in AM, feed sourdough mother, soak flour for buttermilk bread, make yogurt, start beef broth, soak flour for pizza dough, start new kombucha batch, soak oats for porridge

Tuesday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: Chicken sandwiches, apple slices, carrot sticks, raw milk, kombucha
D: Potluck Night: Contribute pepperoni/veggie pizza and CB Pineapple pizza, raw milk
To Do: Make bread, make more pure yogurt starter, feed sourdough mother, soak oats for porridge

Wednesday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: Chicken soup w/rice, apple slices, raw milk, kombucha
D: Steak, green salad, garlic/broccoli/onion mashed potatoes, raw milk
To Do: Soak garbanzo beans, feed sourdough mother, soak flour for bread, finish beef broth, soak oats for porridge

Thursday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: Steak Caesar salad, apple, kombucha, raw milk
D: Bacon/Feta/Spinach Quiche, green salad, french onion soup, raw milk
To Do: Cook garbanzo beans, feed sourdough mother, make bread, make yogurt, soak oats for porridge

Friday
B: Banana, soaked oatmeal porridge with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, raw milk
L: Quiche and soup leftovers, raw milk, kombucha
D: Liver & onions, green salad, steamed veggies, raw milk
Dessert: Homemade ice cream
To Do: Soak flour for pancakes, make hummus, feed sourdough

Saturday
B: Soured pancakes w/pure maple syrup, eggs, raw milk
L: BLTs, apple, carrot, and cheese slices, raw milk, Kombucha
D: Leftovers from the week, raw milk
To Do: Make sourdough

Sunday
B: Soured pancakes w/pure maple syrup, eggs, raw milk
L: PB Honey, apple, carrot, and cheese slices, raw milk, kombucha
D: Meat Loaf, salad, steamed veggies, raw milk
To Do: Soak oats for porridge

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Challenge: Make Your Own Bread!

Home baked breads are a delicious treasure and a huge way to save money.

There are two brands of bread I approve of from the store. Both are sprouted and do not have sugar of high fructose corn syrups added. One is from Alvarado St. Bakery, and the other from Ezekiel 4:9 (which, unfortunately, does use soy). Both are usually priced $4-$5.50 per loaf! When I make bread at home, I usually spend $1 or less per loaf on the ingredients and there are no compromising additives.

Even if you are not ready to take the plunge to fully soured flours or sprouted grains, making your own bread is a great baby step towards a healthier diet as well as a step towards creating extra grocery money which you can redirect towards choosing organic, non-GMO foods.

Challenge Level One:
Make bread this month, any bread recipie that catches your eye.

Challenge Level Two:
For those of you who already make your own bread occasionally, step it up and spend the whole month making your own bread each week.

Challenge Level Three:
For those of you who already make all of your own bread, try making a true, traditional sourdough bread. I have previously given instructions for real sourdough, but I will be adding more bread recipes and tips as the month progresses.

If you take the challenge on any level and/or blog about doing it, please comment here and let me know!

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