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GNOWFGLINS Post: Farming with Friends, Part 1

I’m honored and excited to be a part of a new team of writers contributing regularly to the well-established GNOWFGLINS blog, created by my friend Wardeh Harmon. Here’s a teaser from today’s post:

My farming friend Tiffany and I have both been searching for the ideal eating chicken — one that’s not only free-ranging, foraging and consuming non-GMO feed, but also tender and tasty (not tough and stringy) when cooked. We began to wonder whether we could raise our own and keep the cost down while ensuring the quality we want.

Please click here to read the rest of the story on the GNOWFGLINS site. :-)

July 2, 2013   4 Comments

Fun with Figs

When Shawn’s sister and brother-in-law gave us some figs from their backyard trees last week (thank you, Bonny and Art!), I was excited to have a new ingredient to play with in the kitchen. I was really inspired to make something fancy, such as the recipe I came across for a Fig Tart with Mascarpone Cream from The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. (I’ve been wanting to try Beranbaum’s pastry techniques with sprouted whole wheat pastry flour.)

But with a tight schedule (swim-team practice, summer homeschooling and recent freelance projects have kept our family hopping)—and an even tighter budget (I could easily sub out the mascarpone with homemade yogurt cheese, but I’d have to forgo some of the pricier and barely-used ingredients like sweet marsala wine)—I set that idea aside and looked for ways to incorporate the fruit into some of the recipes I make regularly. Enter the Basic Soaked Muffins I learned to make from my friend Wardeh Harmon, who shares the recipe on her blog (www.gnowfglins.com) and teaches extra-helpful techniques for making them in her GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse.

These muffins—which call for soaking the whole-grain flour overnight in an acidic liquid to break down nutrient-blocking phytic acid—are super versatile. As long as you follow the basic guidelines of the recipe, you can adjust spices and add-ins (fruit, nuts, etc.) to your preferences each time you bake the muffins. So far we’ve enjoyed them with raisins, apples, peaches, and—you guessed it—figs. The figs imparted a mild, sweet flavor and an incredibly moist texture to the muffins.

I have enough figs left to make another batch of muffins—unless I decide to revisit the idea of making the tart. Of course, we could just eat the figs. Which is what my best friend and mom blogger Wendy Neri—or, more precisely, her fig-obsessed Italian father-in-law—would advise. (Click here for a link to a hilarious post on her blog, www.mothernfodder.com, where she wrote about what fig-harvest season is like around her house.)

For learning to prepare traditional, real foods like the muffins I mentioned—as well as other soaked, sprouted, fermented and cultured foods—I can’t recommend the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse enough. After completing the 14-lesson class a few weeks ago, I have expanded my real-food repertoire to include now-staple items such as water kefir, homemade chicken stock, sprouted beans, soaked rice, and whole-grain sourdough bread. I am so impressed by Wardeh Harmon’s integrity and heart for teaching her methods, which she generously shares on a “pay-what-you-can” basis. The class is available online to start anytime, and you can pick and choose what lessons you’d like to learn when. And I’m so excited to begin Wardeh’s newest class—the GNOWFGLINS Sourdough eCourse—which launches today. It’s not too late to sign up for the class, which features the same pay structure and offers methods for mastering not only sourdough bread, but also other naturally leavened foods—including pancakes, biscuits, tortillas and crackers. I can’t wait to add all of that to my repertoire! :-)

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 it—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 recommendations inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

July 13, 2010   2 Comments

Skillet Skills

Skillet Dish

My Kitchen Life lately has centered around the lessons I’ve been learning through my friend Wardeh Harmon’s GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. One of my most recent adventures actually employed two of the techniques she’s taught so far: how to make soaked homemade pasta, and how to combine ingredients on hand to make versatile skillet dishes.

In the pasta lesson, I learned to create a dough that “soaks” overnight (which basically means that the flour is moistened with liquid that includes an acid—such as apple cider vinegar—to help break down the grain’s phytic acid, which blocks vital minerals from being absorbed during digestion). After making the dough exactly as it was presented in the eCourse recipe, I got brave enough to try a variation on another recipe—one I’ve made and loved for awhile—from The Lemon Lovers Cookbook, by Peg Bailey. It already included an acid—lemon juice—so I just needed to give it time to soak. And I replaced the all-purpose flour called for in the original recipe with kamut flour, which I’d read lends a “nutty” quality to pasta. Well, it just couldn’t have turned out better! The pasta was a nice golden color, with a heavenly lemon fragrance and flavor. It rolled out easily and held its shape beautifully. I will definitely be making it again—and again!

I decided to put the pasta to work in my very first improvisational skillet dish (which is just a fancy way to say that I didn’t follow a recipe!). The basic idea for a skillet dish—as I’ve learned in the eCourse—is to combine a starch (the lemon pasta, in this case) with a protein (I used diced pastured chicken that I’d cooked in a crock pot) and a scratch-made sauce (I used coconut milk as a base, and blended it with sauteed onion and garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper). I was concerned that the lemon and coconut flavors would clash, but they were actually quite complementary. Topped with a little grated Parmesan cheese, it was an absolutely delicious dish—one that I’m happy to add to my growing repertoire.

What’s been cooking in your kitchen? I’d love to hear about any new techniques you’ve tried or family favorites you’ve come up with!

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 it—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.

May 11, 2010   5 Comments

Guest Post: A Tale of Two Tarts

LemonTarts

I was delighted to be invited awhile back to write a guest post for my friend Wardeh’s blog (www.gnowfglins.com). When she asked for some ideas for sharing my real-food experiences, I immediately thought about completing a makeover on one of my family’s favorite desserts: Tiny Lemon Tarts from The Lemon Lovers Cookbook, by Peg Bailey. Did it work? You’ll have to click here to link to the post where I share the delicious details. :-)

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 it—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 recommendations inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

May 5, 2010   2 Comments

Making Mayo and Culturing Water Kefir

I have been busy in the kitchen lately—just haven’t had a lot of time to write about it! So I’ll attempt today to catch you up on what’s been cooking, culturing and otherwise coming together (or not) around our house.

Mayonnaise

First, I finally made homemade fermented mayonnaise, following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. It turned out a beautiful yellow color because of the pastured eggs, small amount of grainy mustard and extra-virgin olive oil in the mixture. To both ferment the mayo and allow it to keep for a longer period, I added liquid whey that I had kept from a batch of yogurt cheese I’d made a few weeks earlier. The mayonnaise has a wonderful, tangy flavor, and we’ve especially enjoyed it in egg-salad and tuna-salad sandwiches. (I toned down the taste at first by mixing it with our usual store-bought safflower mayonnaise. Nobody even noticed!)

Waterkefir

My next new adventure was making water kefir. I had been wanting to try this for a long time, but I finally got motivated to make water kefir when I needed it as an ingredient in a gluten-free sourdough starter (more on that later). Water kefir is a probiotic beverage cultured with kefir grains specifically dedicated to that purpose. After culturing, it can be flavored with fruit or juice and even carbonated for a healthy soda-pop-like drink. I made strawberry lemonade from my first batch of water kefir. I loved it, but it was a little on the tart side (too much lemon juice, not enough pureed strawberries) for the kids. And it did get slightly carbonated after I stored it in an airtight, flip-top bottle, but not as much as I’d thought it might. I’m continuing the experimentation with each new batch, trying out different flavors to see what the family likes best.

The rest of my Kitchen Life lately has revolved around the lessons in Wardeh Harmon’s GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. So far, I’ve soaked and dehydrated almonds (the first thing I made in my new Excalibur dehydrator!), soaked and cooked brown rice, and made soaked muffins and pancakes. Next on my list is soaked biscuits and pasta, plus soaked beans. If you’re wondering what all of the soaking is about, I’m learning about the importance of soaking grains, nuts and legumes with a small amount of acid, such as apple cider vinegar, to eliminate phytic acid (which prevents mineral absorption) and enzyme inhibitors (which make foods difficult to digest). Wardeh will be offering the eCourse again later this year, and if you missed it this first time around, I encourage you to sign up and see how easy it really is to adapt your cooking to traditional, real-food methods.

Finally, I’ll mention my not-so-successful attempt to make a loaf of gluten-free sourdough bread. I got off to a good start with my starter (brown rice flour boosted by water kefir), which I fed for five days before mixing up the bread ingredients. Unfortunately, my bread didn’t rise at all, and the loaf turned out to be a flat brick that was chewy and unbearably sour. I e-mailed the author of the recipe, and together we determined that my starter might have become overfermented, and that my substitution of a half cup of millet flour for chickpea flour was apparently detrimental. I’ve heard that sourdough can be tough to master—and that gluten-free sourdough is even trickier. Still, I’m undeterred and will keep trying until I get it right one of these days. I have a different recipe to try, and I hope I can get to it this week. Stay tuned! :-)

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.

March 23, 2010   6 Comments

Sweets for My Sweetheart

Chocolatepeanutbuttercandy

Shawn has always been a big fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so when I saw a healthier homemade version of this treat circulating on some of the blogs I follow, I knew I had to try it. My friend Wardeh Harmon wrote about it two weeks ago (click here to see her results at www.gnowfglins.com), and she found the original recipe here, on a blog called Oceans of Joy.

First, I soaked raw organic peanuts overnight in salted water to neutralize the nuts’ enzyme inhibitors. Then I dehydrated them almost completely in the oven the next day. (I didn’t get them quite as crispy as I would have otherwise because I planned to grind them into peanut butter. Next time, I think I will crisp them up all the way to impart a more roasted flavor.) I placed them in my Vita-Mix (another blender or food processor would work, too) with a bit of sea salt and ground them until they were smooth. It wasn’t what I would call creamy peanut butter—it was a bit crumbly, actually. But I knew that I would be adding coconut oil, honey and vanilla to it to make the peanut-butter cups, so I decided that was OK. And it was. Next I made the chocolate mixture, and then I began layering the chocolate and peanut-butter filling into heart-shaped candy molds. It was a little time-consuming, but not difficult. I popped the filled molds into the freezer, and after dinner I surprised Shawn with his Valentine’s Day treat.

We both liked the peanut-butter cups, although the chocolate layers were the tiniest bit bitter. Next time, I think I’ll add a touch more honey—or maybe even melt in some Enjoy Life brand (dairy-free and soy-free) chocolate chips—to make the sweets just a little sweeter. :-)

Nothing else in my Kitchen Life was new this past week, but that, I’m excited to say, is about to change. I enrolled in the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse (which I wrote about here), and I’ve been preparing for the lessons that will begin after the enrollment period ends Feb. 22. I ordered a free sourdough starter (which I hope will arrive before Lesson 12: How to Make Sourdough Bread!). I’ve lurked a little in the forum, where other enrollees have written introductions and shared resources. And I watched instructor Wardeh Harmon’s sneak-peak video detailing how to make her basic soaked muffins. You can tune in, too, by clicking 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.

February 16, 2010   4 Comments

Just in Case…

…you were wondering whether Wardeh Harmon’s GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse will work for you if you have a special or limited diet, she has answered that question in a post that features both audio and print explanations about how her lessons in traditional food-preparation methods can work in your kitchen. Whether food allergies or personal preferences have you avoiding such things as dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, corn, nuts or refined sweeteners, most of the lessons include techniques and recipes that allow for substitutions. And the step-by-step methods she’ll be sharing will likely make your diet much less limited and even more special. :-)

To read and/or hear Wardeh address this question in her own words, click on the banner below to be directed to her post. Enrollment in the eCourse opens today and closes on Feb. 22.

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 banner above, you’ll link to a site where you can learn much more about the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. And if you decide to enroll after clicking through from my site, I’ll receive a commission—for which I thank you. But even if I didn’t stand to benefit in any way from sharing what I’ve written here, I honestly wouldn’t change a word. :-)

February 5, 2010   No Comments

Here’s What’s Been Cooking. . .

. . .(or freezing, in one case) in my kitchen this week: sprouted lentils, pecan butter, strawberry ice cream with strawberry sauce, and a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free version of soaked muffins.

Tacofilling

I got the idea from my friend Wardeh Harmon at www.gnowfglins.com to sprout some lentils and add them to grass-fed ground beef as a way to make the meat stretch and add some extra nutrition to our usual taco filling. I wasn’t sure whether it would alter the taste too much—or what my family would think of the idea. But the lentils blended right into the meat and spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper) without any noticeable taste or texture differences. And after questioning the appearance of the filling initially, my family had no problem heaping it onto their plates. What I loved best of all was that sprouting 1 1/2 cups of lentils and adding it to 1 pound of ground beef made enough filling to feed our family of six for two whole dinners! :-)

Pecanbutter

After trying my hand at almond butter a couple of weeks ago, I decided I might want to try the same process with some of the pecans that have been stored in my freezer for awhile. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never seen pecans made into a butter. What I got (after following the soaking and dehydrating process outlined in Nourishing Traditions) was a rich, dark spread—more earthy than the sweeter-tasting almond butter, but really good. I’ve tried it on pancakes and, as pictured here, packed into a halved and cored apple.

Strawberryicecream

Inspired by Wardeh’s recent posts featuring Best Chocolate Ice Cream and Basic Chocolate Syrup—and by a desire to use the frozen organic strawberries I recently got from Azure Standard—I made dairy-free strawberry ice cream and topped it with strawberry sauce. I used coconut milk as the base for the ice cream, plus about two cups of strawberries and a 1/2-cup mixture of Rapadura and organic sugar (powdered in the Vita-Mix). The sauce was simply more strawberries pureed with a little sugar in the Vita-Mix and drizzled over the top. The ice cream froze to a firmer consistency than my past attempts, thanks to Wardeh’s tip not to overfill the freezing canister. It could have used a bit more sweetening, and my husband felt like the coconut flavor overpowered the strawberry flavor, but as it disappeared pretty quickly, I’d say nobody really minded. :-)

Soakedmuffins

I’d been wanting to try Wardeh’s Basic Soaked Muffins for awhile, and I finally got around to making her version (using soft white wheat) as well as a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free version (using an all-purpose blend of gluten-free flours—buckwheat, millet, sorghum and sweet rice) that Kellen could eat (pictured here). I added raisins to both batches, and was really pleased with the results. We had them for breakfast for several days before they, too, were all gone.

It’s probably pretty evident from this post—as well as many others I’ve written—that Wardeh Harmon is a real inspiration in my real-food endeavors. And she can be for yours, too. If you need basic recipes and techniques—as well as encouragement and ideas—for converting your kitchen to traditional food-preparation methods, I hope you’ll consider enrolling in her GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. (I wrote about it in this post.) You can also click on the “Simple Plan, Healthy Food” image below to read more about what the course will include. Enrollment begins Friday, Feb. 5!

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.

February 2, 2010   5 Comments

A Half Dozen. . .

. . .reasons why you’ll want to enroll in the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse scheduled to begin next month and developed by my friend Wardeh Harmon at www.gnowfglins.com:

1. Health. Whether you’ve recently become interested in the real-food movement or you’ve been committed for awhile now to preparing real, whole foods for your family, you’re no doubt aware of the health benefits that go along with eliminating processed, industrial foods from your diet and replacing them with what Wardeh calls GNOWFGLINS—God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season. In each of the 15 lessons included in the eCourse, Wardeh will answer three basic questions about the nourishing, traditional foods she explores:
• What is this food and/or technique? What ingredients do I need?
• Why should we eat a certain food or prepare it a certain way?
• How is the technique carried out or how is this food prepared?

2. Time. Maybe you’ve watched the documentary Food, Inc. and read all of the real-food best-sellers (Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma; Nina Planck’s Real Food) but you have no idea where to start when it comes to implementing the ideas they present in a practical way that fits your busy schedule. Or, perhaps the mere thought of having to wade through every sidebar and recipe on the 675 pages of the weightiest real-food tome of all—Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions—is enough to give you a migraine. Why not learn the basics—in a simple, methodical way—from someone who’s done the research and has a wealth of practical experience to share? Wardeh promises you won’t be overwhelmed by her simple plan that will take you through one step at a time.

3. Quality. I’ve had a chance to preview some of the things in store for those who enroll in this eCourse, and the attention to detail and multimedia presentation setup is incredible. Each lesson will be available 24/7 on a private Web site in print, audio and video formats to accommodate the learning style that works best for you—and so that you won’t miss a thing, whether you choose to read, listen, watch or do all three! I have followed Wardeh’s blog for about three years now, and I can vouch for her ability to present information in a thorough, down-to-earth way.

4. Quantity. You’re going to get an amazing amount of advice, ideas, recipes and techniques here—including printable guides you’ll refer to time and again, as well as access to freebies and resources that won’t be available on Wardeh’s blog. Among other things, she’ll teach you how to sprout beans and grains, cook pastured chickens and make stock, bake sourdough bread and brew water kefir (a probiotic beverage that can help you kick a soda habit).

5. Money. The eCourse costs $27 per month for five months (a total of $135)—a bargain considering the wealth of information you’ll obtain toward converting your kitchen into a real-food haven. And Wardeh offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can’t go wrong by trying it for a month to see whether it’s something that will work for you.

6. Mentorship. Whether you’ve read my blog since The Beginning (my first post) or this is the first post you’ve perused, you’ve probably gathered that Wardeh Harmon—though she doesn’t know it—has been my unofficial mentor as I’ve explored and experimented with real food. (Actually, she’s probably guessed that that’s the case, as I’ve asked her at least 1,095 questions—that’s one a day for the past three years—all of which she has graciously, patiently and satisfactorily answered!) :-) And, as someone who’s got the heart of a teacher, she’ll do the same for you. Seriously, IMHO, you won’t get better guidance from anyone else for making these changes in the way you cook and eat. And if you sign up for the eCourse, Wardeh won’t be your only mentor: Everyone who’s enrolled can exchange ideas and share recipe results in a special forum. I’m planning to be there! How about you?

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 banner above, you’ll link to a site where you can learn much more about the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. And if you decide to enroll after clicking through from my site, I’ll receive a commission—for which I thank you. But even if I didn’t stand to benefit in any way from sharing what I’ve written here, I honestly wouldn’t change a word. :-)

January 20, 2010   2 Comments