Wednesday, March 07, 2007

fennel, a neglected vegetable

I saw a really tasty-looking recipe for fennel on tv the other day. So I tried it last night, and I have to say, people do not eat nearly enough fennel. It is delicious - sweet, mild, goes well with cheese - what more could you ask of a vegetable?

Here's the recipe:

I will definitely be eating more fennel in the future.

Monday, March 05, 2007

refined carbs are icky

Over the past week I have had occasion to necessarily and temporarily ditch my no-refined-carbs eating plan. The first time was on Wednesday when I unthinkingly said "sure" when asked if I wanted lunch at my in-law's place when I picked up Rowan for the afternoon (lunch turned out to be white-bread grilled cheese & ham sandwiches and canned chicken-noodle soup) and I felt it would be rather rude to turn up my nose and refuse to eat it. The second time was basically the whole weekend, with ferry food, cafeteria food and eating at a friend's house - trying to avoid the refined carbs was basically impossible and would have involved alternately starving and more unspeakable rudeness.

My point is not to whine about how circumstances led to my downfall. It's not a downfall, it's an acknowledgement about the reality of what people mostly eat in these parts, and how if you want to be sociable, sometimes you have to just suck it up, nutritionally. But my real point is - wow, did I ever feel like crap Wednesday afternoon and Sunday evening. And you know what? I used to feel like that ALL THE TIME. No energy, icky hollow feeling in my tummy, irritable - all bad. But if it goes on long enough, you don't notice. That's just the way you are.

So my temporary foray back into refined-carb-land has been a major learning experience. Not eating white flour & sugar really does make a HUGE difference in the way I feel, both digestively and with energy levels. Refined carbs make me sluggish, energy-less, and irritable. They probably contributed quite a lot to the post-partum depression I went through. They certainly make sleep deprivation a LOT worse, experientially.

Anyway, lately I've been getting more and more into so-called Traditional Foods. This consists pretty much of whole, unprocessed, natural foods grown natural ways. Pastured, grass-fed meat & eggs, whole dairy (I'd love to be able to get RAW dairy, but the only thing I can get that's not pasteurized is cheese), organic vegetables and grains properly prepared. For grains that means soaking and slow-rise breads, to release all the nutrients, and for vegetables that means a blend of lightly cooked, raw, and lacto-fermented veggies (like sauerkraut made the traditional way). It also means fermented & cultured dairy, like the aforementioned kefir, and yogurt.

Sounds all weird and icky, you think? Some of it takes some getting used to. I haven't done much in the way of fermented veggies yet. The sourdough I have temporarily decided to abandon since my starter sucked and I tossed it. My sister will hopefully bring some of my mom's proven starter and I can get going on that, but until then I'll buy as much Wildfire bread as I can (Wildfire uses all sourdough leavening). But organic meat & veg - I'm all over that and not only is it better for us, it's DAMN tasty too.

I will post more recipes and more musings as I get more into this. If you're interested, check out the book "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. Lots of good info in there on why you'd WANT to eat this way. (Beyond the fact it encourages eating lots of butter. Who couldn't go for THAT?)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

kefir & loafing in Victoria

My latest hobby is natural food fermentation. No, not for the production of alcohol, although that will come sooner or later. I've been making kefir (pronounced ke-FEER), which is a milk-based drink that's similar to yogurt, but in addition to friendly bactieria, it's partially fermented with yeast. It's made by introducing kefir granules (little blobs that look like miniature cauliflowers - a symbiotic yeast/bacteria organism) into plain milk, letting it sit on the counter for a day, then straining it. The result is a thickened, tangy drink that's like yogurt only more interesting, and slightly effervescent. It makes fabulous smoothies and I've been having a kefir smoothy for breakfast everyday. The thing about making it is that you can't stop - once you strain one batch you need a place to put your granules, and the easiest thing to do is put them back in more milk. Which creates more kefir. And the damn things grow, too, so if any of my (probably non-existant) readers want to try kefir for themselves, let me know and I'll give you some of my granules.

I'm also trying to get some good sourdough going. I've had mixed success in the past and the starter I've got going now doesn't seem to be too enthusiastic. I put a little kefir into it in the beginning and I think that was a mistake - the kefir yeasts are great for making kefir but it seems not so good for bread. Although, the sourdough pancakes I've been making for Sunday morning breakfasts are awesome.

I don't have the pancake recipe with me right now but I'll post it when I get around to it. Mmmm pancakes....