Tag Archives: Sally Fallon

Salt of the Earth

Artist's concept of Aquarius

At 7:20 AM (west-coast time), NASA finally merged two objects of my affection: astronomy and sea salt. With the launch of the Aquarius satellite, NASA will study sea salt around the Earth.

I, of course, like to eat sea salt.

Now NASA is not, unfortunately, going to study the health benefits of sea salt outlined in Nourishing Traditions. Salt is mentioned in the subject index 21 times, but a good discussion of it’s health advantages starts around page 48. The unrefined variety of sea salt, such as Celtic type farmed in the salt marshes of Brittany, frequently contain traces of marine life that carry minerals in a bio-available form. It is the trace minerals that give sea salt one of it’s primary benefits, but the sodium chloride (largest component of sea salt by percent) is also important to the health of our brain, nervous system, and vital to digestion. Of note is the necessity of chlorine (the chloride part) to the making of hydrochloric acid, a favored tool of the stomach.

Alas, the science geeks (like me) are in fact searching for variations in the concentration of salt in the water of our oceans. Salinity traces the currents of water in the oceans, giving researchers a tool to understand how the water moves, or does not move, around the globe.

Even if NASA is not yet blasting rockets into space to investigate traditional cooking methods, at least they’ve taken one small step in that direction. So here’s to the salt of the Earth!

(Now go put some on your food)

*Image of salt taken from Celtic Sea Salt® brand website, as it is the source of salt I currently use. Artist concept of Aquarius spacecraft property of NASA, all rights reserved.


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.


Chicken soup for the toothless soul

Quite recently, my wife had two wisdom teeth removed. (Very much against her will, but it seemed the best thing to do in the end). She has incredible teeth, no cavities or anything, but randomly (the dentist can’t explain it) one broke. Soo, the difficult challenge became to make Real Food, that doesn’t require any chewing. Since that list boils down really fast to soup, we ate mostly soup for about a week. And since I was promoted to head chef, I can claim full credit for the one stellar success in that department: Chicken Radish Soup.
Editors note: Radish is really just the ‘secret weapon’ of this recipe, so the recipe could be called Chicken Harvest Soup. (Loosely follows the Chicken Rice recipe on page 199 of Nourishing Traditions, minus rice).

First we needed a good base for soup. I considered importing a French sous chef to oversee this part, but in the end settled for a temperature controlled crock pot. (It’s not even french, but it is pretty reliable). So we tossed a whole chicken in the crock pot for about 9 hours, and after the chicken was cooked, we separated the meat. Then we put the bones (fat, cartilage, and skin) back in with enough water to cover, and cooked that again overnight. Once the stock was strained, we had enough for a couple of meals of soup.

The next step was to account for our vegetable population. The inhabitants of our refrigerator included: Celery, Carrots, Onions, and Radishes. Plus we had some Potatoes in the cabinet. I chopped what I needed of the veggies, and set them to cook in the stock, added a bay leaf, and a generous amount of powdered garlic. I let these simmer until the potatoes were soft, and added them to the chicken. Since the goal was to have food that required no chewing, we had to convert this soup to baby food. I used a blender, starting with some chicken and adding a little of the broth and then combining everything as the blender was able to handle it. And of course, sea salt to taste.
This was by far the best baby food I’ve tasted. And yes, I have tasted quite a lot (my youngest brother is 15 years my junior, so I stole my fair share of his food). Anyway, as far as the soup goes, I think the radish was the amazing part. It was subtle, but brought a freshness that really suited the carrots and soup as a whole.
I’ll try to put all this here is a concise form:

Chicken Radish Soup

5-6 Cups of Chicken stock
2-3 Cups of chopped cooked Chicken
4 medium carrots.
One bunch of radishes (about 10)
1/2 large Onion
4 small Potatoes
2 stalks of Celery
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 – 1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Optional water.

Chop the vegetables, and place them in a stock pot.
After the veggies are chopped, add enough stock to cover them, and thin out the stock if needed. (I only thin out my stock if it’s pretty dense).
Simmer with the Bay Leaf and Garlic powder for about an hour, or until the potatoes are soft. The other veggies should cook faster than the potatoes, but they aren’t bad if they are undercooked. You can add the chicken at any time, I add it near the end so it retains flavor. We take half of a chicken that has been cooked in the crock pot for our soup, so the measurement is approximate.
Remove the Bay Leaf, and salt to taste.
Enjoy!

We had these veggies on hand since we wanted to have something to boost the immune system, and there are a lot of nutrients in Carrots, Radishes, and Celery. Some vitamins are destroyed by heat and cooking, but you can hang on to a few in a broth. So I think this make a good soup for healing, but it’s also really tasty.


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

Salad Dressing

Happy little veggies


The Summer after High School I took a job at a local fast food joint. Actually, I pride myself to this day in saying, it was Casual Dining, a significant cut above the fast food served at our competition. But semantics aside, it functioned much the way all pre-fab food entities must. One small item that I had the task of stocking onto the shelves every week was Salad Dressing. A very small part of our inventory, these cute little bundles have the capability of transforming mere rabbit food into a delicious snack, worthy of satisfying the highest calorie requirements. How could they accomplish this in 3.5 onces or less? Easy! The dressing was 50% fat (By weight). And boy was it tasty. That stuff revolutionized my idea of what a salad could be. Now, before you navigate away in disgust, I have mended my ways a little since then. I mean, I’m not a total cretin. But I still like my salad to taste good. Don’t hand me a pile of dry chopped leaves and expect me to get excited.
Then I met Salad Dressing Simplicity. Well, that’s my title for it. This revelation can be found starting on page 127 of Nourishing Traditions and flowing all the way to page 135. Within those few pages there are 19 different recipes (some are variations on a theme, but trust me, they are quite different). I haven’t made a dressing from this section that I didn’t like. The one I use the most is ‘Basic Dressing’, on page 129. But since this recipe contains fewer than my minimum requirement of words, I add the subtitle ‘Salad Dressing Simplicity’ just to fluff it a little.

The biggest tip to this section I have found is good Olive Oil. Since the oil is a huge contribution by bulk, any flavor that comes off as strong in the oil will show up in the final product. With a little care, the tones from the oil can be matched with other ingredients, or a very mild oil can be found (probably by trial and error).

Ok, before you make me hand in my man card, I will reassure you that real men can eat salad and survive. (Um, no, I didn’t say eat only salad, that is the dumbest diet I have ever heard of). So here’s how: camouflage. Simply disguise your salad as a meal. A variation of what I suggest is found on page 240 in the form of ‘Raw Salmon Salad’. I don’t eat raw fish (the classic yuk factor, I’m just stuborn that way), but this recipe is up the right alley. Cook the fish, or leave it raw if you like, but either use the liquids described in the recipe, or replace them with one of the dresings in the section disscussed above. Use mixed greens instead of Boston lettuce if you like (I do), and ADD SOAKED AND DRIED NUTS!!

This is the absolutly best thing to compliment your enormous stockpile of freshly prepared nuts.

So go out to your daughter’s pet rabbit cage tonight, and share a salad! Happy (green food) eating!

(Um, quick Biology/editor note: you probably shouldn’t give a rabbit either meat or dressing, rather different digestive tract there. Oh, and you should never eat food that has come in contact with animals. Cross contamination is all fun and games until someones looses their dinner. So eat a salad together, but not the same salad).


Raw Milk

When learning to cook at a young age, I was mostly interested in making dessert. The problem with desserts is that they are typically the hardest recipes to follow. Very near the top of my favourite dessert list was Tapioca Pudding. The delicious substance derived in it’s entirety from South American substances, the traditional Manioc root, Vanilla bean, eggs and milk, and the modern sugar. Since I am a baker by personality, I religiously followed the directions on the box. These instructions were, I think, intended to keep kids from making Tapioca Pudding. The first step was to boil milk, and then add the sugar. Any kid who can get past this daunting step with out scorching his mother’s pans reaps the reward of sugar headaches all day long. For almost 2 decades, this is the only context in which it ever occurred to me that one might boil milk. Oh sure, I had heard of Pasteurisation in middle school science class, but I never really thought about what it meant for milk. I just accepted Pasteurised milk as a fact of life.

I vaguely remember that Pasteurisation had saved the world from certain death, and that good ‘ole Louis had stopped the Bubonic plague or something. Maybe it was that he discovered France. Wait, that would have been History class… OK, never mind. I have no idea what he did. Except boil milk. Since then, the process of making milk drinkable is called Pasteurisation. If you want to make it really drinkable, you can Ultra-Pasteurise it. Just don’t tell Sally Fallon (or her army of young mothers) what you are up to, or they will flog you with organic bamboo reeds.

To be completely honest, I am sceptical about a few of the miracles claimed by raw milk. I have been consuming raw dairy almost daily for about 2 years now. It tastes identical the the store bought stuff, and I have approximately the same number of colds/flues as before. I will say that my teeth have fared a lot better, but even those are pretty shot this late in the game. No, I have not been cured of anything by eating raw milk in my cereal. But I have also, strangely, not died. My limbs haven’t fallen off, I have not been struck with blindness, and Listeria has yet to make a comfortable home in my intestine. Raw milk may or may not help you, but in my experience, it is safe.


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!