Tag Archives: enzymes

Warmer Bugs

As the temperature has begun to increase recently, the various trees and insects have started to bloom and buzz. I happen to like most little creepy crawlies, but the rash of very animated Stink Bugs  that have decided to burst out of hiding with great joy are somewhat less than joyful to me.

Also a big kill-joy is the rate at which the overly zealous trees are polluting my air with pollen. I know the survival of their respective species depends entirely on filling the atmosphere with high levels of potential offspring, but the effort, in my humble, non-tree-life-form opinion, could still be effective with a little less output. That said, I am attempting to cope with “Seasonal Allergies”. I need some help to fight back… will you aid my cause?

I would like to find a food based attack plan, and my current remedy attempts include:

Increased Vitamin C (from supplements, so not really a food)

Adding Tumeric (in fairly large amounts) to food during cooking

Eating Parsley, which could help with detoxifying the body

Tried eating local raw honey, but hasn’t seemed to help

I would love some more ideas, so please leave me a comment!

-sn


I can’t believe it’s not butter!

Me either Fabio!

Ah, hello.

Recently my wife and I picked up some raw cream from the farmer that sells us milk. I have to say, this stuff is amazing! By far the best tasting cream I’ve ever had- just look at it:

This is cream sticking to my spoon…

I just had to brag!


Gluten free chicken pie

According to legendary chefs, making the perfect pot pie starts with Stromboli. Or at least that’s what I would say, though perhaps I am not yet a legend. There is a slightly epic story behind my assertion, however. And this is how it goes…

Once upon a time there was a Beautiful Maiden (my lovely wife), who pined for a Stromboli (that part is true, so she looked up a recipe online), and enlisted the service of her faithful companion (that’s me) to fullfill her destiny (or at least fill their stomachs).

The result of her quest revealed the Holy Grail– a gluten free Stromboli crust! (I’m actually not exaggerating here, it’s really good!) But if this fairy tale ended here, only part of the story would be told.

The happy couple looked upon the Stromboli they had made, and thought ‘This dough might perhaps be formed into the crust for a pie, being so manageable and soft. Perhaps a pie of chicken?’

With this very thought before them the whole week, they assembled the great assortment of needed items (um, that’s just basic chicken pie filling: carrots, onion, potato, peas, and of course, chicken). Then, following the ancient traditions, the formed their dough and began to bake (true enough, but we really based it on the recipe found here: Gluten-free pizza crust recipe, tarte style).

The product of their labor was, well, see for yourself:

I would offer you a slice, but it was all consumed. If you are sufficiently intrigued, you can make one for yourself:

Here’s the process (we used half of the original recipe for the pie crust, it made enough for a crust and a top. My version is below):

Chicken pot pie filling/gravy (you can use your favorite grandma’s recipe instead if you like)
Ingredients:
one bunch of carrots
½ an onion
6 oz of peas (we used ½ bag of frozen peas)
3 medium potoes
2 cups of chicken (free range organic slow cooked)
2-3 teaspoons of arrowroot powder (or your favorite thickener)
1 cup of chicken broth (enough to make a slurry of the veggies)
Sea salt (to taste)

Directions:
Chop all the veggies and cook in a saucepan with the broth. Add chicken and stir in arrowroot until thick. Pour filling into crust and bake as instructed below.

Gluten free pie crust, from: Torte Style Gluten-free Pizza Crust- by Sara
Ingredients:
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sorghum flour
¾ cups tapioca flour
½ cup yogurt (we used cow yogurt and sheep yogurt at different times, both worked well)
1 sticks of butter (¼ pound), completely melted
1 tsp salt
½ Tbsp xanthan gum
Arrowroot powder to roll dough

This recipe makes two, 10” pie crusts, or one crust with top

Directions:

Cream the yogurt and butter together. Add the flours, xanthan gum and salt and continue to mix until well combined. This part is probably best done with a pastry cutter if available. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature overnight or 12-24 hours.

Scrape dough out of the bowl and pat into a ball. Cut into two pieces. Flour a counter or large cutting board with arrowroot powder. Form each half into a ball and then roll into two 10” rounds. Transfer to an oiled pie pan and then finish the edges to make the crust. Prick crusts well with a fork.

Bake pie at 300 F for 15-30 minutes until golden brown.

Note: for some pies the crust can be prebaked. for the chicken pie, we filled the crust before bakeing in order to seal the top crust over the pie.

Results:

And now the pie has become a legend.


chili w/out tomatoes (or winter bean soup)

There is probably a hilarious coincidence behind the English word chilly (origin ~1570) and the Spanish name of the chili pepper (~1500). Nevertheless, the irony is that chili, formed by adding lots of chili pepper to meat and beans, goes well with chilly weather.

The modern American version of chili almost always contains tomatoes, a delicious fruit to which my wife is allergic. This allergy, and our combined desire for good chili, drove us to explore some tomato-less recipes. The first step in the most promising versions began with mixing several types of beans. Obviously, kidney beans were necessary, but we were surprised to find the addition of great northern, navy, and lima beans, and even various lentils.

Once we assembled a collection of beans to our liking, we soaked them overnight. Now here I must add that in a second run of this recipe we bumped our menu by one day, and the beans soaked for an additional day. This was one of our best culinary accidents yet. By soaking the beans for one day, they begin to sprout, which leaves them tasting a little ‘green’. The second day of soaking killed this taste, and made for a good flavor. Page 495 of NT indicates that beans should be soaked for ‘…a long time’, but does not indicate if more than one day would be harmful or not, so I don’t know the impact on nutrition after a two day soak.

Anyway, we then covered the beans generously in chicken broth, and simmered for awhile on low. Next we browned some ground beef with a chopped onion and chili spices. Mixing the meat into the pot with beans, we let this simmer until we were too hungry to wait, and ate it topped generously with cheddar cheese and cilantro. We probably only let this cook for 2-3 hours total, but longer would be better. Below I’ll try to give the full recipe. One note, I prefer a very un-spicy version of chili, so if you like the hot stuff, modify to your preference.

Chili (bean soup for a cold day)

1 lb. ground beef or lamb
1.5 – 2 cups of mixed beans (navy, great norther, kidney, lima, and lentils + whatever you like)
3-4 cups of chicken or beef stock
1 onion
heaps of cheddar cheese
1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
Fresh cilantro as garnish (optional)

Spices:
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Directions:
Soak beans for 1-2 days in water, then drain and cook on low in broth. Brown meat on medium and onion, adding spices except basil. Taste spices when meat is sufficiently cooked, make adjustments. When meat is nearly done, add basil and garlic to the beans. After the meat is seasoned correctly (defined by you), add the meat to beans and simmer on low until you think it’s done (an hour or so).

So that’s the basic approach. This makes a good (heavy) meal for a cold day, we got about 4 serving out of these amounts. You could probably make this vegetarian style by subtracting the meat and substituting for the broth.

Try it out yourself! You have plenty of winter left to go, so you have no excuse.


Whole grain flour

It is a well known fact that flour is explosive. It is also well known that anything explosive contains energy. The energy of flour is typically calculated in Calories (that’s a thousand Chemistry lab calories), and according to me is the primary nutritional goal of any flour based food (such as bread).

There are several ways to deliver this explosive to the powerful muscles requiring the energy, but the debate on methods of delivery that I have seen to date are not about the explosive at all. Instead, the discussion centers around everything except energy. Like Iron, Vitamin-B, Vitamin-E, and Fiber. With the exception of Vitamin-E found in the germ of certain grains, these nutritional goodies are found in the husk (or bran). Any grain that is sold with it’s original bran included (rather than having the bran stripped by clever machines) is called a whole grain. I definitely used to enjoy ‘white’ grains, and despise whole ones. (Not only because it’s harder to ignite whole grains, but I thought they tasted better). However, by an interesting path, I now prefer the whole grains. This path is a twisted story of the non-energetic nutritional components of grain.

On page 25 of Nourishing Traditions, an important note is made concerning the loading of whole grains into our body. A natural substance found in whole grains binds to a number of useful nutrients, like Iron, Zinc, and Calcium. Enzyme inhibitors present in whole grains also prevent absorption (digestion) of other useful things. Now, what the book doesn’t mention at this point is that energy is still largely available in these whole grains. Anyway, Nourishing Traditions goes on to deliver the punch line: we can neutralize the inhibitors! By fermenting our whole grains, the micro-organism that eat grain in the wild will destroy the inhibitors for us. Alternately, if you sprout your grain, the natural mechanism in the seed (grain) will get rid of the inhibitors. Up to this point I have not mentioned exactly what grain I am talking about. In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter. Vitamin B was discovered in the husk of rice, and the vitamin content of most other grains is also in the bran. My discovery concerning the fermentation of flour had a bit more to do with Teff.

A smallish angry, seed, Teff is gluten free, making it a prime target for my kitchen experiments. Mixing teff flour into various recipes, I noted that the soaked teff became more elastic and pliable. This seems to be the case for most flours, except perhaps for the very fine powdery types like tapioca. Anyway, while the nutritional aspect of flour is improved by soaking or sprouting, I personally like the superior cooking quality of soaked flour.

So try your own today, any flour will do. Let me know how it works!


The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family.

I love dirt. My brothers and I used to throw small clods of dry dirt at each others army men in battle that spanned whole (army man) mountain ranges. I’m not sure what precisely attracts me to earth, except gravity, but there is some connection that draws me to the soil. Perhaps this is one reason I agreed to assist my wife in cultivating a garden last year. And it may also explain Kimchi.

Kimchi is traditionally fermented in earthen jars, underground, for several months. I am fascinated by earthen jars, whether Terra Cotta potters, or a multicoloured clay vase. Using such a container for food is a really cool idea. No, no, I didn’t go out and bury some veggies in the back yard, but as I crafted my own kimchi brew, I had visions of large earthenware vessels, and felt quite connected to the idea of digging holes and pitching in my food to hold it for later. A really neat idea.

Jars used to make kimchi

Instead of following the actual process of the traditional Korean condiment, I used a few Ball glass storage jars, and when full, I put them in the fridge.

What is kimchi? One variety, cabbage kimchi, is similar to sauerkraut; the main difference is that this type of kimchi is horrible. Some day, if I have to much cabbage on my hands, I might make some of this kind so I can punish my kids with it. No, kimchi basically refers to the process of fermenting vegetables. A guide to this process is outlined on page 94 of Nourishing Traditions, but once again, this is the cabbage variety. Use instead, say, cucumbers.

Cucumber Kimchi

A variation.

Use page 94 as a reference.

3 Cucumbers

1/2 onion (Yellow, Red, White, or sub in a few green onions).

2 cloves of Garlic

2 Tablespoons Salt

1/8 Teaspoon chile flakes

WARNING: do not mash soft veggies like cucumbers as called for in the original recipe.

Chop the cucumbers and onions, add about half of the salt, and let stand for about 4 hours. Add garlic and chile. Remove veggies from water and place in large mouth jar, filling them to about two inches from the top. Add remaining salt and fill jars the rest of the way with water, leave only a small space in the top of the jar. Ferment on counter for 2-3 days, and afterward place in refrigerator. Enjoy.

I embarked on the making of kimchi last year, after making the mistake of planting two long rows of cucumbers. This resulted in more fruit (yes, the edible portion of cucumbers would be the fruit) than we could ever eat. And we had to pick them or they would kill the vines and attract more bugs. After trying Sally Fallon’s recipe for fermented pickles (page 97), I nearly gave up the idea of using the cucumbers altogether. The fermented pickles turned out horrible. I’m sure the blame lies squarely upon my shoulders, but I tweaked that recipe in every way I could, to no avail. In desperation I reached out to the Korean ancients, or at least the ones who posted on recipe blogs.The kimchi was superb! (A tad spicy on the first try, but not bad at all). This technique saved the rest of my cuke crop from the trash. In fact, after the initial fermentation at room temperature, my kimchi rarely survived more than a few days.

Cucumber kimchi

So, if you have a plethora of cucumbers, or just like the idea of burying your food for a few months, I recommend tinkering with kimchi recipes. Just be careful with the chile.

Special thanks to Dr. Ben for his recipe and directions:  Dr. Ben Kim’s web page

Walnuts

For those of you who grew up in the South, the mental picture of a walnut is not what is found in the aisle of the grocery store. No, in their natural form, walnuts do not look like tiny brains. In fact, to a 10 year old boy, they look like hand grenades. Ok, a small, puny, hand grenade. (An M67, internal-serrated-coil, fragmentation grenade, in case nomenclature is important to you).


Not only are these hard, green, balls a useful substitute for explosives in (pretend) war, they actually contain food. I have never attempted to obtain the food part of a wild walnut, but friends have told me it is quite a chore. And it turns your hands completely black. The complete walnut is about 2-3 inches in diameter, with a green outer rind. Inside the rind, is the pear-shaped nut, and inside that shell is the meat.

Once the meat is extracted, it is usually dried before eating. According to our trusting cooking guide, the nuts must also be soaked, and then dried. The reason is obvious to any person who has attempted to replace all the protein in their diet with nut protein from un-soaked nuts. (Page 513, sidebar). What? You haven’t tried that yet? Well, let me give it to you in a nutshell:

The story boils down to Enzymes. A really snazzy word conjured up by biologist with too much time on their hands, Enzymes refer to confused proteins. These proteins actually think they are catalysts. Fortunately, your body uses them the same as catalysts, so all is well. Enzymes are responsible for most of the really tough digestion. Water, alcohol, and a handful of other small substances pass through the stomach lining, but other, more complex items must wait until the small intestine to be handed over to the blood stream. This hand off must follow proper procedure, with correct labelling of products, and due inspection from the Intestine Wall Duty Officer. Anything else just passes along until it reaches a good end. In the case of Walnuts, or any other nuts for that matter, the enzymes break off appropriate chunks of nutritional goodness, and package them properly to get past the Duty Officer. And here is where you and I get stuck. Our enzymes are idiots. They always fill out the forms wrong, or try to carry more than $10,000 worth of nutrition through, that sort of thing. So, that’s why I hire mercenary enzymes. These guys are actually sitting around in the nuts, just waiting for a job. Plus, they’re cheap: a little salt, some water, and they’ll put my nutrients in good order.

The process.

Hiring you’re own mercenary enzymes is outlined (in somewhat different words) on page 512 and 513.

Ingredients: Your nuts, some salt, filtered water. (The book claims 4 c. nuts, 2 tsp. salt).

Mix nuts with water and salt, leave in warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight. Drain. Spread on baking pan and place in warm oven for 12-24 hours until crisp.

The friendly little enzymes unlocked by the soaking have now made every bite of delicious Walnut digestible, even to the strictest Intestine Wall Duty Officer.

And now you have soaked your nuts!