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Fancy Fun With Figs

I did it! Two weeks ago, I wrote about wanting to make a fig tart with fruit from the trees of family members (see Fun With Figs). And a little more than a week ago, in honor of Shawn’s birthday and at his request, I actually made it. I followed a recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s cookbook The Pie and Pastry Bible, substituting sprouted whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour it called for in the tart crust. We thought it tasted like a fruit-infused tiramisu—especially on the second and third days, after the tart crust had moistened from soaking up the marsala-flavored mascarpone filling. It was the most gourmet item I’ve made in awhile. The process was time-consuming and required focus (something that’s often in short supply around our house!), but it was worth the effort to have something special to celebrate Shawn’s day. And I don’t even think he minded that I refused to mess up the masterpiece by poking 44 candles into it for him to blow out. After all, he’d already gotten his wish. 🙂

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.

August 3, 2010   3 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

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.


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!)


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


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

Some Sweet Stuff

My Kitchen Life got off to a great start this past week with something that I hope will get a lot of my mornings off to a great start over the coming weeks: a Grapefruit Smoothie, inspired by several dozen grapefruits my friend Juli supplied me with after she read my recent post about our backyard lemons and oranges (click here to read about our citrus supply). As we dug into the grapefruits—eating some and juicing some—I decided to look for some recipes that would help me use them more creatively. A Web search yielded a couple of good ideas, which I cobbled together to make a healthy and delicious blended drink. We’ve been enjoying it for breakfast, but it would make a great treat anytime of the day! (Click here to see the recipe.)


This week I also used some of the pecan butter I made last week in a batch of Pecan Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I used a recipe that I had previously adapted to make dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free almond butter cookies. They came out darker than usual (probably because the pecan butter is darker than almond butter), but soft and chewy and amazing. (Click here for that recipe.)


A question posed by Wendy in the comments about my Kitchen Life post last week prompted me to include some details here about two of the kitchen items I use and write about regularly but haven’t ever really explained. The first is Rapadura, a brand name for the dehydrated cane-sugar juice supplied by organic food company Rapunzel. As an unrefined sweetener, Rapadura’s mineral content remains intact and lends it a hint of molasses flavor. It can be substituted in equal amounts for white sugar in recipes. Another brand name for it is Sucanat, distributed by Wholesome Sweeteners. I have used both brands with much success—especially in cookies, cakes and muffins. Sometimes, when I don’t want as much molasses flavor (as in the case of say, ice cream), I blend it half and half with a slightly more refined organic sugar. And although it’s not always necessary, I tend to grind the large granules of Rapadura/Sucanat to a finer powder in my Vita-Mix.


Which brings me to the next kitchen item I want to mention. A Vita-Mix is a high-performance blender, food processor and grain grinder. I was first introduced to one about five years ago, when my parents bought one. After seeing what it could do, I begged to borrow it to make baby food and grind gluten-free grains into flour. They graciously agreed, and I’ve been hooked ever since. When my parents hinted that they would like their Vita-Mix back, I purchased my own machine. It’s a pricey piece of kitchen equipment (starting at $450), but it has a seven-year warranty and, along with its top competitor Blendtec, has helped set the industry standard for high-power, multifunctional blenders. The only drawback is that it is SO LOUD when it operates that I have to warn everyone to plug their ears or leave the vicinity. Still, I’m not exaggerating when I say I use it daily—often many times a day—to make everything from soup to nut butters. I puree pizza sauce, make hummus and churn butter in it, too. While I no longer need to make baby food, I’m definitely still at the task of grinding grains. And you can bet that I’ll be using it—while wearing the hearing-protection ear muffs I occasionally borrow from my husband’s wood-working shop in the garage—the next time I whip up a Grapefruit Smoothie. 🙂


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. And if you’d like information about the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse offered by real-food blogger Wardeh Harmon, click on the affiliate link below.

February 9, 2010   3 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.


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! 🙂


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.


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. 🙂


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

When Life Gives You Lemons (and Oranges)…


. . .what do you make? Our answer: As much as we can! When Shawn and I first moved into our little house in 1997, we were fortunate to find our lot already graced with established and producing trees: one orange, one lemon and one pecan. We didn’t know a lot about how to care for them and ensure that they would continue to thrive, but we’ve made some mistakes and learned a lot during the past 13 years—and while we apparently still have a lot to learn (such as how to keep the heavily laden branches of our lemon tree from breaking under the weight of all the fruit, and why some of our oranges aren’t as juicy as others), we somehow manage to have a pretty decent harvest each year. Right now, the citrus is in its prime and ready to be picked. Though our trees are about the same size (and presumable the same age), the orange tree yields probably about 100 to 150 pieces of fruit each season, while its proliferous neighbor gives us about two or three times as many lemons.

So what do we do with it all? Well, we give some of it away and trade more of it with neighbors and friends who grow other fruit (grapefruits, tangerines). But most of it we keep! For the next few weeks, we’ll be picking, zesting, juicing and freezing what we can to use throughout the year. Sure, we drink some of the orange juice and make plenty of lemonade. But we try to keep plenty on hand for use in a few of our favorite recipes, too—including a batch or two of bite-size lemon tarts (from a recipe in The Lemon Lovers Cookbook, by Peg Bailey) to citrus-roasted chicken, flavored by stuffing halved lemons and oranges into the cavity before cooking (a method recently shared by a friend).

Right now, lemons, oranges and pecans are the only foods we grow—although we hope to expand on that in the coming years. I’d love to know what you grow—and how you handle all that you harvest!

And speaking of growing, I’m also hoping to expand on my knowledge of traditional food-preparation methods by enrolling in the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse offered by my friend Wardeh Harmon, who has planned a 15-week online class to teach simple methods for making healthy foods. I hope you’ll read what I wrote about the eCourse by clicking here, and consider joining us! And you have until next Wednesday (Feb. 3) to enter a giveaway for free enrollment. Click here for details!

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. And the banner for the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse is also an affiliate link to much more information about the eCourse and its offerings, as well as an opportunity to sign up when enrollment begins.

January 26, 2010   7 Comments

Kitchen Cleanup

This week, my Kitchen Life revolved more around what I did to my kitchen than what I did in it. Which got me thinking that maybe I should share a photo of the room where I spend a lot of my time. But before I do, I must explain that much of our home—including this all-important room—has been in remodeling mode for more than a year. And believe me, that has made it incredibly challenging to undergo a conversion to real-food preparation methods all at the same time! As you will see from the photo, we aren’t finished yet. (Note the pieced-together old pink Formica and plywood countertops, which will be in place until we can someday afford to replace them with granite. And you’ve gotta love the rustic look of the walls that remain untextured, unpainted and—if this is a word—unbacksplashed.)


No, I am under no illusion that my kitchen looks great. But it’s getting there. Really. You should have seen it before. (I don’t have a photo handy of what it used to look like, and if I did, I’m not sure I’d share it.) 🙂

I think the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we (well, Shawn, really) did much of the work. The tile floor (which replaced a very outdated cream-colored tile with burgundy grout that Shawn laboriously broke up and removed) and the recessed lighting (which replaced two hideous fluorescent-tube fixtures) were installed by outside subcontractors. And when we discovered that our old cabinets were solid oak buried under layers of paint and dark stain, Shawn asked a friend with a finishing business to strip and refinish them. But Shawn built the island unit to match the existing cabinets, replaced all the hinges and added knobs and pulls. He also removed an ugly soffit that once filled the prime decorating space between the cabinets and the ceiling, and tore out the existing unnattractive backsplash. He rewired a dead phone line and reconfigured the exhaust/venting system on the new microwave before installing it. (I’m not a big fan of the microwave oven, which removes most—if not all—of the nutrients from the food it cooks. I use it mostly to heat water and to time what I’m cooking on the stovetop. 🙂 But it turned out to be a better option than an oven hood to provide an exhaust outlet. Plus, it saves counter space and adds resale value—though I have to say, after all this work, I don’t plan on moving. Ever!)

In addition to all of the construction work going on, my kitchen had been cluttered up for quite a few months with unpacked boxes filled with everything from cookbooks to linens and utensils, as well as large bags of bulk grains and beans that I couldn’t cram into my pantry. This past week, I finally tackled it all. I unpacked, organized, discarded and donated until everything found a place where it belonged. I scrubbed the entire floor by hand and then sealed the tile grout. It was exhausting and invigorating at the same time! It helped me to catch a fresh vision of what my kitchen might someday look like (when we eventually have the new countertops and backsplash, a new sink, barstools, curtains, a few shelves, and whatever else we add to the list). And perhaps more importantly, it has helped me enjoy actually being in the room that requires so much of my time. My kitchen might never grace the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, but to me, it’s looking pretty good!

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.

January 20, 2010   9 Comments

Buttered Up, Blended Together and Bowled Over

That headline describes much of my Kitchen Life this past week. Despite battling a cold and working to pack up and put away the holiday decor (let’s just say I was “functional,” but with most of the “fun” taken out), I decided to experiment with a couple of things I’d been wanting to try.

Almond butter before. . .

Almond butter before. . .

. . .and after.

. . .and after.

First was homemade almond butter. Because two of my children experience allergy symptoms from eating peanut butter, we have long substituted almond butter for it in everything from sandwiches to cookies. And ever since I learned about the benefits of soaking and dehydrating nuts to make them easier to digest, I’ve wanted to make my own version. Following the soaking/dehydrating directions and an actual recipe (including honey, coconut oil and salt) for almond butter in Nourishing Traditions, I ended up with a result that tasted fantastic but had some surprising characteristics. For starters, I wouldn’t really say it was spreadable—more like a somewhat crumbly topping—especially straight out of the fridge, where the recipe recommended storing it—that you could pile up on a piece of toast and pat into place. Of course, once the warmth of the toast kind of melted it a bit, it was easier to smooth out. And it had a soft and creamy—not gritty or dry—mouth feel, as well. I think the coconut oil contributed to both the crumbly texture and the incredible taste. I’ll definitely be making it again—especially because now that I’ve sampled it with everything from pancakes to oatmeal, I don’t have enough left over to use in a single batch of cookies!

Garbanzo beans, from sprouts. . .

Garbanzo beans, from sprouts. . .

. . .to spread.

. . .to spread.

The next thing on my list was making hummus from sprouted garbanzo beans. I had two different kinds of garbanzos in my pantry—the traditional golden-colored ones and their smaller, darker chana dal cousins. I started sprouting a jar of each variety and was surprised to see that the chana dal beans sprouted sooner than the traditional kind. Once the beans in both jars showed sprouts (after two days), I combined them and cooked them until they were tender—they simmered on the stovetop for about two or three hours. Then I blended them with the usual hummus ingredients (garlic, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, salt) in my Vita-Mix. The result was a tasty dip and spread that we enjoyed all week—especially wrapped up in whole wheat tortillas made from a soaked-flour recipe I borrowed from Wardeh Harmon’s site, www.gnowflins.com. (Click here for the tortilla recipe. I had so much more success with this recipe than with an almost identical one using sprouted flour, that I’ve called into question my grain sprouting/dehydrating method. I’ve decided that dehydrating my sprouted grain in the oven is too hot a process—most likely eliminating the beneficial enzymes I’m after by sprouting in the first place, and ultimately drying the grain out so much that the resulting flour is parched and requires a lot more moisture to work with. I’m holding out for an actual dehydrator, which will allow better temperature control and energy efficiency.)

New fam favorite: Sloppy Joes in a Bowl.

New fam favorite: Sloppy Joes in a Bowl.

Finally, our family enjoyed another of Wardeh Harmon’s recipes two times in the past week and a half: slightly different incarnations of her Sloppy Joes in a Bowl (click here for a link to another site where she shares the recipe). Both times, I soaked brown rice overnight in water with a little apple cider vinegar (to break down the phytic acid that makes all grains difficult to digest). The first time, I opted not to rinse the rice after soaking, but simply added chicken stock and cooked it. It came out a little vinegar-y, which I didn’t mind but the kids definitely noticed. The second time, I did rinse the rice before cooking it in fresh water and chicken stock, and the kids were much happier with the outcome. My son Kerrick helped to make the meal and even photographed it for me, declaring that he could eat it for dinner every night. Now that’s what I call a rave review!

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.

January 12, 2010   2 Comments