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Posts from — September 2009

Touting Sprouting

Last week, I interviewed not only real-food guru Sally Fallon (author of Nourishing Traditions) but also Janie Quinn, author of several other books that are worth reading for those who want to dig deep into nutrition ideas that are both old and new. Quinn’s book Sprouted Baking, released in 2008, offers a fascinating look at the benefits of sprouting grains before they are milled into flour and used to make everything from sandwich bread to birthday cake. Sprouting grains, she says, fulfills their destiny and converts them into living plants, which are more easily digested and offer increased nutrient absorption.

Because I spoke to her primarily for an article I’m working on for Living Without magazine (a publication for people with food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities), we spent a lot of time talking about how her work fits into what she calls “gluten-free land.” (More on that in the article to come.) But we ventured off that topic a bit to discuss sprouting methods, and I must say that that part of the conversation left me a little discouraged about my own recent efforts in the area of sprouting. Quinn, a self-proclaimed former “home sprouter” of grains, says she is convinced now that she has overseen operations at the small mill that produces her line of sprouted flours (spring wheat and spelt) that there is just no way to achieve the desired quality of both flour and finished baked goods by sprouting, dehydrating and grinding grains in our own homes. Here are her reasons:

• Improper or infrequent soaking and rinsing equipment and techniques lead to grain that might look sprouted but not truly be sprouted, she says. “Grain may appear to the naked eye to be sprouted when it has actually been drowned, resulting in the swollen endosperm pushing through the bran coat,” she writes in Sprouted Baking. “In short, drowned grain does not possess the benefits derived from sprouting. Sprouted products made from a mash are much coarser in texture and can have a distinctive fermented taste.”
• A home sprouter has no way of conducting a “falling number test,” which is used to determine peak levels of sprouting action and enzyme activity.
• While home sprouters can grind sprouted, dehydrated grains into flour, they have no way to sift out the foreign matter that inevitably finds its way into any grain.

All of which has left me with some uncertainties: Am I truly sprouting my grain, or drowning it? I have noticed a hint of a fermented taste and smell—though not unpleasant—to my sprouted spelt, but I just figured that was the way it was supposed to be. I admit that I’m not equipped to conduct a falling number test—nor do I particularly want to be. And I’m sure some foreign matter has made it’s way into the flour I’ve ground. How unsafe might that be?

I also have noticed a few other things about working with sprouted spelt, in particular. For one thing, it is very thirsty flour, soaking up way more liquid than most recipes I’ve used it in even call for. I almost always end up having to add more liquid just to incorporate all of the ingredients and create a dough or batter than can be properly mixed. And baking times or temperatures seem off when I’m working with sprouted spelt in a recipe that calls for regular flour. The two breads I’ve made with it were slightly burned on the crust, or exterior, while the crumb, or interior was OK.

Now I realize that it is in Quinn’s interest to steer consumers toward her own products—the Essential Eating Sprouted Flours her mill produces. But I have to say that despite the flours’ high price (they’re available at health-food stores and online at www.shilohfarms.com), I’m tempted to try some just to compare them to the fledgling flour I’ve made on my own. Then again, I also know that sprouting, as a traditional food-preparation method, has been around a long time, and people have somehow managed—without owning their own grain mill—to reap at least some benefit from their own home-sprouting/dehydrating/grinding efforts. If you’re a more experienced sprouter, I’d love it if you would weigh in on this topic and offer some wisdom for newbies like me!

Because I’ve been reading about and writing about food, I haven’t been doing anything really new with food in the kitchen this past week. I am sprouting more pinto beans this week to use in chili, and I’m pondering some things I want to try soon (sourdough bread and water kefir, to name a few).

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on the book cover above, you will link to Amazon.com, where you will have an opportunity to purchase the book—and if you do buy it after clicking through from my site, I will receive a small commission to support my work here, as well as my own book-buying habit. :-) Seriously, though, I’d be just as happy if my recommendation inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

September 29, 2009   5 Comments

I Love a Man in Uniform. . .

Scouts

. . .or, two little men, to be exact. Kellen and Kerrick started Webelos and Cub Scouts (respectively) a few weeks ago, and have quickly gotten up to speed on the Cub Scout Motto, the Cub Scout Promise and the Law of the Pack. All of which I should be able to recite myself after hearing Shawn quiz them each evening at the dinner table. (But don’t hold me to it.) Some awesome father-son bonding is going on around here as hikes and campouts are planned, badges and pocketknives are being earned and handbooks are read at bedtime. Shawn even found his old Boy Scout uniform at his parents’ house a few weeks ago, and the boys took turns trying it on and asking him all about his scouting experiences. Aside from sewing on badges and ironing shirts, I’m content to stand aside and watch the guy energy kick into high gear. (Although somehow I’ve also been pressed into service to make a potato salad for an upcoming family hike and picnic, and there is now an app on my iPod Touch called BragVest, which allows each scout to track the activities they’ve completed and the badges they’ve earned.) You know what they say (and if they don’t, they should): Behind every good Boy Scout is a. . .well, a mom who loves him. 🙂

September 24, 2009   1 Comment

Nourishing Inspiration

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nourishing Traditions author Sally Fallon for an article I’m working on for Living Without magazine. Having read her entire book—a weighty tome of 680 pages, packed with more than 700 recipes and a wealth of nutrition knowledge—earlier this year, I was eager (and a bit intimidated, I might add!) to speak to her specifically about how traditional methods of food preparation (including sprouting, soaking, culturing and fermenting) might help those with food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities to overcome their symptoms. As you might imagine, it was incredibly inspiring to speak with her. Not only did she provide what I pray will be a fresh perspective for the readers who will eventually read the article, but she also graciously answered many questions I couldn’t help asking about my son Kellen’s specific situation. What’s more, she offered hope that he might actually be able to eliminate some of his food-allergy symptoms, and she suggested several things to try to help him eventually get to that point.

Nourishing Traditions isn’t a new book. The second edition was published 10 years ago. But the information and ideas it contains are new to me, and I’m so grateful to the community of bloggers I stumbled onto (especially Wardeh Harmon of www.gnowfglins.com) who first introduced them to me and who continue to inspire me with their own innovations based on the principles and techniques outlined in the book. They, too, have patiently answered questions and shared recipes as I’ve worked to convert my kitchen to meet real-food ideals.

With renewed zeal, I tackled a few tasks this week that were foremost on my mind:
• Homemade chicken stock. Sally Fallon writes extensively in Nourishing Traditions about the healing properties of homemade meat stocks—in particular, the natural gelatin they contain, which aids digestion and allows proteins to be more fully utilized. (Store-bought stocks are not a good substitute, as they don’t contain the beneficial gelatin, and often do contain undesirable preservatives). She suggested that I give Kellen lots of meat stocks and broths to help heal his gut. I’d like to have enough on hand that he (and the rest of us, too!) can eat a little with each meal.

Sprouting Beans

• Sprouted pinto beans. Living in the Southwest, we tend to eat a lot of beans. But although I’d heard about the added benefits of sprouting beans before cooking them (especially that sprouting increases enzymes that help aid digestion), I’d never tried it before. I started sprouting several quart-size jars’ worth on Sunday, and they should be ready to cook today. I’ve been told that sprouted beans cook in about half the time that it usually takes for regular dried beans, so I’m looking forward to keeping the stovetop heated for just an hour or two instead of half a day.

Stuffed Zucchini

• Salvaging our squash. We came home from a trip to my in-laws’ home in northern Arizona a couple of weeks ago loaded with produce from their garden—especially the ever-prolific zucchini and yellow squash. Not wanting to waste one bit, I’ve been working it into as many meals as possible. After last night’s feast of stuffed zucchini (a Nourishing Traditions recipe that calls for a filling of whole-grain breadcrumbs, eggs, Parmesan cheese, onions and, of course, the scooped out flesh of several large zucchinis—to which I added ground beef), I have just enough left to make a soaked version of zucchini spice bread (another NT recipe). The yellow squash will go into the roasting pan with some other veggies as a side dish later this week.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on the book cover above, you will link to Amazon.com, where you will have an opportunity to purchase the book—and if you do buy it after clicking through from my site, I will receive a small commission to support my work here, as well as my own book-buying habit. :-) Seriously, though, I’d be just as happy if my recommendation inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

September 22, 2009   11 Comments

Season’s Eatings

So what if the high temperatures around here are still hovering at the upper end of the 90s? I know it just has to be feeling like fall somewhere, and I’m in the mood for soup. And that—among other things—is what I made this week.

Cream of Chicken SoupRoasted Vegetable Soup

I was motivated (by a recipe for enchiladas that I wanted to try) to make a healthier, dairy- and gluten-free version of cream of chicken soup. I played around with substitutions for the usual ingredients and came up with a concoction that was delicious enough to eat straight from the bowl—never mind getting it into the baking dish with the enchiladas! I’m calling it Cream of Chicken, Coconut and Mushroom Soup, and you can see my recipe by clicking here. (Don’t let the ‘Coconut’ part of the title throw you. I replaced the heavy cream called for in the original recipe with a can of coconut milk, but not much, if any, actual coconut flavor comes through.)

Happy harvesters: Kerrick and Kellen load up on lemon cucumbers.

Happy harvesters: Kerrick and Kellen load up on lemon cucumbers.

After a visit to my in-laws’ home in northern Arizona, we brought back boxes and bags full of good stuff from their garden—bell peppers, carrots, garlic, green beans, green onions, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini. All of which (except the green onions, tomatoes and lemon cucumbers) factored into the versatile Roasted Vegetable Soup—really, it’s more of a hearty, thick puree—that’s one of my absolute favorite fall and winter dishes. Click here for the recipe.

Inspired by the fabulous food blog Edible Aria, I also tried my hand at separating whey from yogurt—transforming the remaining yogurt cheese into an herb spread similar to one featured on that site (click here for the link), and using the whey to create lacto-fermented salsa (click here to go there). The herb spread was delicious in wraps with slices of my in-laws’ lemon cucumbers, and the salsa made good use of their tomatoes and green onions.

I’m glad soup season has arrived at our house, even if the right kind of weather hasn’t accompanied it. (And even if it makes us feel a little schizophrenic to cool our soup-warmed palates with an equally soothing—but decidedly chillier—comfort food: Wardeh Harmon’s recipe for Dark Chocolate Ice Cream—Non-Dairy, Naturally Sweetened (click here to indulge your own indecisiveness).

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

September 15, 2009   3 Comments

Bag Lady With Bling

My good friend Dawn Delaloye is launching a new home-based accessories business—featuring some fun jewelry and the innovative Miche Bag—and I’m hosting a virtual party to help her get started. And not only are you invited, but you’re already there! (Isn’t it great? You didn’t have to get dressed up and go anywhere, and I didn’t have to clean my house or make any hors d’oeuvres! And still, you get to preview some neat products and possibly win a giveaway—more on that in a minute—all from the comfort of your own home!) 🙂

When Dawn introduced me to the Miche Bag, I liked it right away for a couple of reasons: First, it’s economical (and who doesn’t need that right now?). Second, it’s versatile (allowing you to change looks without a lot of hassle). Third, it’s got a great “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?” back story (click here to read about how an entrepreneurial mom dreamed up the concept, and then explore the rest of the site to see how the bag works). And finally, the styles are just so darn cute (my favorites are “Cassidy” and “Joie”). The jewelry Dawn offers is stylish and affordable, as well, and I invite you to take a look at the items featured on her site, www.bagladywithbling.com.

If you see something you like and decide to place an order while my party is in full swing (starting today, Tuesday, Sept. 8, through Saturday, Sept. 12), you have an opportunity to win a free item. Here’s how it works:

1. Visit Dawn’s site to explore her offerings.
2. When you’re ready to order, click on her Virtual Party & Contact Page and enter your items and contact information (remember to list me in the dialog box under “Hostess Name”). You can also call her at the phone number listed on her site if you have any questions.
3. Return to this post on www.hemmingshalfdozen.com and leave a comment below, letting me know that you placed an order.
4. If you order a Miche Bag from Dawn, I will enter your name in a drawing to win a free shell to change the exterior look of your bag. If you order jewelry, I will enter your name in a drawing to win a free bracelet. And if you order both, you will most certainly be eligible for both drawings. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff? 🙂

Happy shopping!

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally promote something (or someone, as in the case of my friend, Dawn!) that I love and that I think would be of interest to my readers. No pressure here—just a fun way to spread the word! 🙂

September 8, 2009   No Comments

Devious—but Delicious!—Dessert

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

When my son Kerrick requested mint chocolate chip ice cream for his 7th birthday a week and a half ago, I knew I had a challenge on my hands to come up with a dairy-free version that his older brother, Kellen, could enjoy—and a “healthy” version that I could feed to the rest of the family in good conscience. To accomplish both of those goals, I combined recipes and techniques from three different sources:

• For the ice cream “base,” I used the ingredients and methods outlined in many of the ice cream recipes my friend Wardeh Harmon has posted on her site, www.gnowfglins.com—including coconut milk and agave nectar.

• I also consulted the book Vice Cream (a nickname for vegan ice cream), by Jeff Rogers. This author’s recipes typically call for a base of homemade cashew milk, which I have made and used before. But on this occasion, I simply wanted a guideline for imparting the right amount of mint flavor. Rogers’s recipe for mint chocolate chip vice cream suggests 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract, but I thought that might be overpowering. So I opted to cut the amount in half for a milder hint of mint. I’m glad I did, as the flavor was just right—not too strong.
• Finally, I borrowed an idea from Missy Chase Lapine’s The Sneaky Chef to tint the ice cream a pale but pretty shade of green by incorporating 1/2 cup of her recipe for Green Juice—a puree made from steamed spinach. (Yes, I really did add spinach to my family’s ice cream. And no, I did not tell them. But only because they didn’t ask. If they had, I would have been honest, but as it happened, they were too busy devouring the ice cream to be suspicious about its ingredients. They got to enjoy a sweet treat—really, it tasted terrific!—and I got to feel good about it being a bit more nutritious than the average dessert.) 🙂

For the complete recipe, click here.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on either of the book covers above, you will link to Amazon.com, where you will have an opportunity to purchase the book—and if you do buy it after clicking through from my site, I will receive a small commission to support my work here, as well as my own book-buying habit. 🙂 Seriously, though, I’d be just as happy if my recommendation inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

September 8, 2009   12 Comments