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.