WFP: Making up for missed food posts!

I figured, because I haven’t been that great at keeping up with my Wednesday food posts, I’d do a big food post today to get back into the swing of things.
 

Tonight was one of those "What the heck do we eat?!" kind of nights. I looked in the fridge and there was just a little of this and a little of that, and a lot that was about to go bad… Usually when that happens I make that "Garbage Soup" that I’ve talked about before. You know, where I just throw it all in a pot with some homemade stock and some canned veggies and call it dinner. It’s almost always fantastic, really.

So today I had half a bunch of swiss chard, a sausage, a bunch of sauerkraut, tomato juice, the liquid reserved from a batch of kimchi and from some ginger carrots that I couldn’t bear to toss away, a bunch of sliced peppers from last year’s garden, and some radishes. I started how I always start- with onion and garlic, of course! To that I added all the other things, plus a can of tomatoes, corn, and green beans from the downstairs pantry (also stored from last summer). A few grinds of pepper, a little dried basil and bay leaf, and I let it all simmer for a while. At the very end I added some fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. Yum!


 
So there’s the frugal, for you. I’m learning how to use almost everything, and we rarely lose something in the fridge anymore. The occasional slimy lettuce hits the compost pile, but mostly we’re eating it all (and by "we" I’m also including the animals). This makes me happy. I love watching my 3 year old happily slurp up a vegetable soup made with old pickle brine and vegetables we raised ourselves. It’s a feeling that I never really knew before, but it seems to come naturally to me now. The more of a relationship you have with something, the more accountable you are to it. And so it goes with our eating. Our hands touch this food, and work to preserve it and cook it. After all of that, I’ve found that I look at it all a little differently than I used to. I look at the liquid left behind after eating a batch of lacto-fermented carrots that were just out of this world, and I think "I’ll use that somehow!". And here it is again, part of a rich and flavorful broth in a beautiful soup that will feed us for the rest of the week. Good stuff.
 
 
My little sister just moved in with us for the summer. It occured to me that we won’t be able to have eggs every morning like we are used to, just because we’re getting about 3-5 eggs a day right now from the chickens. Jeff always eats two, even if I make something else for breakfast. So, I’m going to be making porridge more often, which I love. I found a few recipes out there that cook it overnight in the crock pot, which makes it so much easier on everyone, especially if we’re getting up at different times. I like a mixture of grains, the texture of the porridge is just nicer with a variety. Anyway, I mix together oats, barley, rice, and wheat berries. I store this mixture in a container by itself, so I don’t have to go about mixing them all together every time I want to make this.
 
 
Then I take a couple of cups of the mixture and soak it in warm water and a couple of tablespoons of whey (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar work as well). Why do I soak the grains? I’ve talked about this before, but for those that don’t know- grains/seeds/nuts are all coated in something called phytic acid. Phytic acid binds with various compounds and can actually cause you to have mineral deficiencies! There are also enzyme inhibitors in grains that can make it hard to digest them. Our ancestors did not eat grains the way we do today. Grains were soaked, sprouted, or fermented before use to neutralize the phytic acid and to break down those enzyme inhibitors. After you take one of those steps, the grains are much more easily digested, all those minerals and vitamins are accessible, and it’s a good deal all around! 
 
Basically, we’re talking about a food that can either be nourishing or can cause mineral and vitamin deficiencies. I don’t know that many people really realize that their daily bread or oatmeal in the morning could actually be harming them… When you think about it that way, it’s really worth your time to try to take these extra steps in ensuring you’re getting the most from your food. While we haven’t entirely eliminated unsoaked grains from our diet (there is always the inevitable meal out of the house), when we’re at home we do our best to plan ahead. 
 
You can soak your grains overnight and cook them up on the stove in the morning, or you can soak them through the day and stick them in the crock pot overnight for a quick breakfast first thing the next morning. The ratios are 2 cups of grains (soaked and rinsed) with 6 cups of water overnight in your crock pot (on low). We love this porridge. We usually serve it up with butter, maple syrup, chia seeds, a splash of raw milk, and some frozen blueberries from last year’s stash. Tomorrow morning, though, I’m going to be trying this recipe: http://www.nourishingdays.com/2010/06/soaked-flour-free-oatmeal-pancakes/, only with my grain mixture. I’ll be sure to let you all know how it turns out.
 
While I don’t want to deprive my family of treats, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that we really shouldn’t make many exceptions when it comes to those "bad" foods. High fructose corn syrup, for one, is like the devil incarnate. I keep reading more and more things about just how bad this stuff is, and I just don’t think I can ignore it- not even a little. Usually we’re able to avoid it- we don’t drink soda, and we don’t eat candy or store bought sweets very often. But ice cream? Oh, we love ice cream. One of our favorite local dairies has ice cream that’s loaded with HFCS and other mystery ingredients. Another local dairy is a little better, only using corn syrup rather than the dreaded HFCS. But we can do better. So, I’ve been buying a quart of heavy raw cream every month, just for making our own ice cream with. It’s an expensive quart of ice cream, but it’s worth it. 
 
With strawberry season up ahead, I thought I’d dig out the last of our frozen strawberries and rhubarb to make this simple fruity ice cream. I just cooked up and pureed frozen strawberries and rhubarb, let it cool, then added it to a quart of thick raw cream. To that I added 2/3 cup of maple syrup, a sprinkling of chia seeds, 4 egg yolks, and a splash of vanilla.
Then I poured it into my ice cream maker and let it go for about 30 minutes. I like to pour it into a container and freeze it for a bit before serving, to firm it up a little more.
 
Simple, delicious, and good for us. This batch is perfect for a rainy May afternoon, in anticipation of strawberry season. I’m going to be trying many different flavors in the days to come (I might just make a couple quarts a month over the summer). This actually made better than a quart, because of the mix-ins and the fact that it expands a bit when it freezes.

 
 
 
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