Monday, December 19, 2011

Swag Bucks Holiday

Swagbucks is giving away a lot for the holidays.  This swidget might help those who participate.

Go to the place that says, "Swag Codes" and "Check if there's a Swag Code". If there is not, you can search again later.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lactofermented Cabbage Casserole

I've had the perfect idea in my head for supper for a long, long time but it seemed impossible to get all of the pieces to fall into place at the same time during this busy season.  Just as I was giving up, my knight in blue denim armor finally swooped in to the rescue.  While the girls and I were off Christmas caroling tonight, my dear hubby put the final steps together to make one of his favorite dishes.

I wish it had some kind of swanky name, but we simply call it
Cabbage Casserole
  • 2 lbs of cabbage
  • 1/2 T sea salt (not optional)
  • 1/4 c whey drained from raw dairy
  • 2 c brown rice, uncooked
  • 2 additional t sea salt
  • 2 c tomato juice
  • 1 T or more fat
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 T fennel
  • 1/2 T black pepper
  • 1/8 c raw apple cidar vinegar
  • scant 3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 T dijon mustard
  • 1 c buttermilk

1-7 days before dinner:
Remove the outer leaves and quarter a cabbage.  Remove the core.  Shred the cabbage into bite-sized pieces.  Sprinkle it with sea salt  (Just a note: if your salt isn't white it's unrefined, leaving you with lots of minerals to balance the sodium in your system.) and whey.

Allow the cabbage to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The cabbage will start looking wet as the salt pulls the cabbage's juices to the surface.  Stir it up and allow it to sit for 30 more minutes before transfering it to a storage container.  (I like Mason jars, as is obvious to all who know me well.)  If the cabbage's juices do not cover the cabbage, pound it until it is covered.  (Heck, you can pound it even if the cabbage's juices do cover, just because there's nothing like a giving a cabbage a good pounding to release your own creative juices.  But, I digress.)  Allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours for a mild flavor or 3-7 days for a sour flavor. 

(If you want to know why we're letting this sit, it's because we're culturing beneficial bacteria, in much the same way that yogurt is filled with beneficial bacteria.)

7-24 hours before dinner:
In a medium saucepan, combine rice, salt, and tomato juice.  Cover and leave at room temperature for 7-24 hours.

(For those who want to know why we're letting this sit)

40 minutes before dinner:
Bring the rice mixture to a boil.  Simmer for 25-35 minutes.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes to absorb most of the tomato.

Meanwhile saute the onions and garlic in the fat of your choice.  Add the beef and cook it until brown.  Stir in fennel and pepper.

Place the remaining ingredients in a 2-pint Mason jar.  Secure the lid and shake it well.  (Or, I suppose you could just stir them together in a little bowl, although that seems much more boring.)

In a casserole dish, layer the cabbage, rice, dressing, and meat mixture.  Place the casserole dish in a cool oven.  Turn on the oven to lowest setting--mine is 170 degrees.  Heat it until the casserole's temperature reaches just under 118 degrees--mine takes about 3 minutes.  That heats it up without destroying all of the enzymes.

I was so grateful to my dear hubby for following my directions and putting this dish together.  I failed to mention to him, however, that I had enough prepared enough cabbage for two meals so the pictures show a cabbage-heavy dish.  The family inhaled it, so the chances of me scrapping together enough leftovers for a second meal at this point are kind of slim.  Such is life.

With many thanks to the following who influenced this meal:
Lessons 2 & 14 of the Gnowfglin's Fundamentals e-course
Easy Layered Cabbage Casserole
Sausage a la Alton Brown
There's a 4th influence that I wish I could credit, but I lost the web address years ago.  It was for a delicious tomato soup.  I've pulled the recipe apart and put the ingredients back in a different order so you might not even recognize the original recipe anymore anyhow.

Shared with Living Well, Fight Back Friday, Freaky Friday, Monday Mania and Fat Tuesday.

Note (January 5, 2012):  It has come to my attention  that cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable and therefore should not be eaten raw.  Exceptions can be made for eating small amounts of sauerkraut as a condiment.  Since this recipe calls for a lot more than a few bites of raw cabbage, please, feel free to heat this at 350 degrees until it is heated through.  Thanks for the understanding.

Why Do We Soak Grains?

Putting a complicated matter into one paragraph
Grains, like all seeds, are designed by God to pass through the digestive process unscathed so that when... ahem... waste is left, the seeds will still be viable to cultivate new plants.  For the seeds protection, there are anti-nutrients and other compounds that hider digestion and the work of enzymes.  Soaking the grain mimics the sprouting process, which allows these anti-nutrients to be broken down--making the food more digestible.

Why Salt is not Optional in a Lacto-fermented Dish

Many of us over the years have avoided salt in an effort to stay heart-healthy.  When looking at lacto-fermented recipes it would be easy for us to omit the salt in order to make the dish more nutritious. 

But wait.  Salt is vital in lacto-fermented recipes. 

Most of you know that fish are classified as either salt-water fish or fresh-water fish.  Bacteria is similar.  Beneficial bacteria thrives when a little bit of salt is present.  However, with few exceptions, bacteria which causes food to spoil or bacteria which causes illness can't survive in a salty environment.

If the salt still makes you uncomfortable, you can add less salt when a starter culture is added, for example when adding whey from the culturing of raw dairy.  Don't omit it entirely, however.  Brine is a necessary preservative.

Don't go to the other extreme, however.  Too much of a good thing is too much.  Too much salt makes even the friendly bacteria struggle to reproduce.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reaping What is Sown

Today I am reaping what I've sown in more ways than one.  Over the past week I've suffered a lot of insomnia.  If I'd been thinking about it I would have taken some soothing herbs at bedtime, but of course I didn't see the need until well into the night when it was truly inconvenient to get up and take something.  Not only did I reap groggy crabbiness, but I also started to catch a cold.
Then came yesterday, which was Thanksgiving in the United States.    I indulged in the traditional Thanksgiving feast until mid-afternoon and then, since we were too full to have dessert right away, we decided to substitute pie for the evening meal.  I enjoyed two over-sized pieces (apple and pumpkin) with whipped cream that had me nibbling for hours.
At bedtime I finally started to show some wisdom.  I took some melatonin and my homemade sleep glycerite before turning in for the night.

By morning I was showing signs of a full-fledged infection.

Alright, I'll admit it.  By the time I reached the second piece of pie, I was showing signs of a full-fledged infection.  There are a lot of old wives tales when it comes to our health.  Contrary to popular belief, going out on a damp, windy day will not make you cough.  But that second piece of pie just might.  Truly, the first piece of pie probably did me in.  You see, vitamin C and insulin compete for the same receptors in the immune system.  When insulin wins, my immune system loses.  Game over.

But not so fast.  I'm not dead yet.

The first thing I needed to do was to get my immune system back into gear.  So I slept.  A lot.

This morning I was so happy that I've taught my girls to cook.  My eldest got up and made eggs for the family.

That gave me the opportunity to take care of myself.  I started by taking care of my sore throat.  I've got a lobelia and cayenne tincture on hand for just this sort of occasion.  I rubbed it down over my swollen lymph glands.  I must confess that I wasn't nearly as gentle and persistent as I am when one of my girls has a sore throat, but it worked right away in spite of my negligence.

 Next I snacked on some raw hot peppers.  It doesn't take a scientist to know that peppers make your nose run.  Since I was so congested, a runny nose wasn't a bad idea. Besides, peppers are high in vitamin C.

Then I brewed some tea.  I believe it's Dr James A Duke who teaches that echinacea is only effective against strep when it comes in direct contact with the source of the infection.  I didn't bother to take a throat swab, but instead just decided to cover all of my bases.  I added salt to my tea and used it both to gargle and as a neti pot solution.

Editor's Note: I've since switched to using five drops of yerba mansa in my neti pot water, plus 20-60 drops of yerba mansa in a glass of water 2-4 times daily.  It's much more effective at sinus conditions.

I know.  Some of you think that nasal irrigating is the grossest thing imaginable.  Besides, only long-haired hippy types resort to such tactics.  All I can tell you is that it doesn't hurt and is no grosser than blowing your nose conventionally.  My dear husband always says that it reminds him of being able to breath under the water in a swimming pool, and that seems as good of a description as anything.

Regardless, by this time, I was no longer in pain and was breathing freely.  So I went back to bed.

The girls came in about a half an hour later and woke me up, wondering if they could watch TV.  I agreed, on the condition that they were dressed with their teeth brushed, and they hooted in happiness.  I was extremely happy that I sowed the seeds of enjoying TV only on Sundays and special occasions.  They were happy too, since an average Friday had just been turned into a second holiday.

I slept for another hour before they awakened me again, this time hoping for a snack.  I told them that they could if their breakfast was eaten.  They promptly disobeyed, snacking on pieces of fruit while their eggs were sitting cold on the breakfast dishes.  I guess I still have some weeds in my garden, but for the most part I'm happy reaping what I've sown.


Other ideas for sinus infections and colds include kali bic for congestion and sinus headaches; encapsulated ground fenugreek and thyme, which is kind of like an herbal Mucinex-D; drinking peppermint tea as a gentle decongestant; and you could also drink the tea that I mentioned earlier.  It does well at stimulating the immune system internally too.

I'll probably try one of those ideas later, if I ever get around to it.  I suppose I'm just not a good patient.

Editor's note:  It wasn't Dr Duke, it was Stephen Harold Buhner who taught about using echinacea directly on the throat for strep.  He recommends using as a tincture, but it is my opinion that a tea would also be effective even if it is weaker.

Linked with Simple Lives Thursday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saving Cents by Using Sense--Brewing Tea, Part 1

Over the weekend one of my darling daughters spiked a fever.  It was one of those cases where fever and swollen glands were the main symptoms.  As with most childhood illnesses, I immediately reached for my childrens' activator and echinacea/elderberry tea.
If I had followed the directions that came with my tea, I would have used 1-2 teaspoons of bulk tea or 1 tea bag per cup of boiling water.

I didn't do that.  I remembered my high school science class and employed a much more frugal method.  All of the above tea was brewed with one spoonful of bulk tea.

Do you remember osmosis?  It's the idea that a solute will evenly disperse itself across a permeable membrane until both sides of the membrane have an equal concentration of solution.

The same idea applies even without the permeable membrane.  If I put a tea bag in the top of a Mason jar, it won't just make tea with one cup of water.  Instead, the tea will brew through all of the water in the jar.

So if I want to make double the tea, I have a choice to make.  I can either double the amount of tea in my jar or I can double my TIME.  I usually take whatever route is cheapest.  The tea that you see above (organic Double E Immune Booster from the Bulk Herb Store) was brewed in a single pot on the stove and then separated into individual jars.

I can already hear the devil's advocate wondering, "Does it dilute the healing properties of the tea?"  I'm sure there's a point where it does, but we haven't found it yet.  We make up to a gallon of herbal tea at a time with no ill effects.

I'd love to hear your feedback, particularly if you're willing to give it a try.

This post was shared with Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Fridays, Traditional Tuesdays, and Real Food Wednesday.