Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sustainable Food 101: Week One, Food, Inc.


We just had a chance to watch Food, Inc. this evening and let me just say it was a real eye-opener. Am I ever glad that we are able to raise a good bit of our own meat, eggs, milk and even some produce!

I stumbled across "A Five Week Crash Course in Sustainable Food" over at change.org and think I'll work my way through their suggested Sustainable Food 101 syllabus. I've got the first week done and was pleased to see on the online catalog for my local library that they have In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto available.

Have you seen this movie yet? I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #16


Come out, come out...



Friday, April 16, 2010

HBinFive: Gluten-Free Olive Oil Bread


This challenge for HBin5 had me trying something I don't think I would ever have bothered with except for trying to stick with the group--gluten-free bread! It's hard not to have noticed the increase of gluten-free products at the store and attention being given to eating gluten-free for various health reasons. Among my friends, I only know one person who is following a gluten-free diet, so I really haven't had much experience with it. I had to do a bit of shopping to make this bread. Thankfully, last week I had a chance to stop at the bulk foods store that is out of town and picked up some soy flour. I should have looked for tapioca pearls there too, but forgot and thought I could get them in town. Turns out they only had Minute Tapioca in town and I thought maybe I could get that ground smaller with the little chopper attachment to my blender, but it really didn't seem to get any finer. I subbed plain gelatin for the xanthum gum since I didn't feel like paying $10 to get any shipped to me when I really doubted it would be used again. I used my grain mill to grind some brown rice flour. Brown rice being an ingredient I do keep on hand, but I've never tried it as flour yet.



The dough batter was very, very wet and runny when I mixed it up. I double checked the recipe to see if I'd gotten my ingredients completely out of whack somehow, but couldn't see that I had gone wrong. It would have been helpful if the book noted that this was going to be drastically different than regular dough, but there was no mention in the book. I'm not sure if this was how it was supposed to turn out or not--nobody else seems to have made mention of this in their posts. It rose beautifully in the container, but I had to go out for a while before it was completely done rising. Not sure if I should have stuck it in the fridge then, but I left it out. So it was probably out 3-4 hours instead of the recommended 2 hours. Overnight, it fell a lot in the fridge, but most doughs do seem to go down some.

When I took it out this morning to try baking it, the dough had a really strange texture. The book said it wouldn't have any stretch because of the lack of gluten, but it was just some odd looking dough. Sort of reminded me of cornmeal mush or something. I pressed it into a loaf pan, but wasn't holding out much hope for it. The dough didn't rise at all during the 90 minutes I let it sit before baking. It didn't rise at all during baking. So this bread was pretty much a complete fail. I tasted it and it's crunchy on the outside and it doesn't taste terrible. But what to do with such a skinny loaf? Guess the chickens get a treat.

I'm not sure what to do with the remaining dough. I wonder if it would turn into anything usable if I made little patties of the dough and fried it in the skillet. I can't see that it would be worth wasting pizza ingredients to try it as a pizza crust because obviously something didn't come together right with this bread. Either the tapioca or the gelatin substitutions or I totally mismeasured something. Win some, lose some. Not going to bother trying this one again, though. I do have to figure out something to do with the rest of the soy flour I bought for this. I'm not sure if there are more recipes in the book for soy flour or not.

A lot of people in the group seem to have avoided making this bread, but one of the reasons I joined this group was to get a chance to try all the recipes that I normally would skip over. So even if I don't think it will be a huge hit, I still like to try out the recipes. I figure many of them I will probably never make again, but that's okay because even trying it once has broadened our eating horizons just a little bit. And any complete failures can always be fed to the chickens who will appreciate them, so I don't ever have to throw away anything our family didn't like.

You can check out what others did with this dough by visiting the HBin5 Bread Braid hosted at Big Black Dog.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Cosa Verde Earth Day Giveaway!


Modish is having a huge Earth Day giveaway with four prize packages full of great handmade goodies. You can get multiple entries to the contest by visiting the shops offering prizes and picking your favorite items to comment about. The giveaway is running through Earth Day, April 22nd. Check it out--there are some really great things to score!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sea Salt vs Table Salt

THE GOURMET SEA SALT SAMPLER

Just a quick post with a couple links to some well-written articles about sea salt that have given me something to think about recently. Paul parents are in from England for a visit right now, so it's harder to find time to post, but I'm hoping to get a post up soon about our trip to the WV State Wildlife Center.

Somewhere along the way, I must have heard that sea salt is better for you than regular table salt. I knew this so I've bought sea salt the last couple times I was able to visit a bulk foods store. But I really wasn't sure why it was different--the stuff I buy looks just like table salt. Then there's Kosher salt, and I've got some cheese salt in the cupboard for making my cheeses. There's also a box of salt to use for canning foods. It all gets a bit confusing.

This weekend, we stopped at the bulk foods store on our way home from the Wildlife Center. I love poking around there and picking up things I can't get in town, but I don't get there frequently because it's over an hour from home in a direction that I normally don't have reason to travel. So when we do pass that direction, I generally try to stop there. This time, I picked up some whole grains to use with my grain mill and some soy flour to use in the next HBin5 bread which is gluten free. Then I remembered we were very low on sea salt, so I went to get some more of it. I noticed a funny colored salt labeled sea salt next to the little tub of white salt that looked just like table salt, but labeled sea salt. I wondered what the difference was between the sea salts and even between the table salt and sea salt, but didn't have any answers. The funny colored stuff was more expensive and looked kind of dirty. I went for the white stuff, but still wondered about it. Then this morning I came across a couple of articles about sea salt and its benefits. Interesting reads!

As it turns out, I should have tried the more expensive stuff. The reason it looks "dirty" is that it is full of the natural minerals salt is made of before it is stripped and refined to the stuff we are used to seeing on the table.  Sea salts come in a rainbow of colors as illustrated by the sea salt sampler pictured at the top of this post. The processing of salt removes all the good stuff that it comes with to the point that iodine has to be reintroduced to the salt. Sea salt has iodine naturally occurring in the minute bits of sea life that are left intact with sun-drying. It seems clumpy because it doesn't have additives to help it pour smoothly. Some sea salts have been processed almost as much as regular table salt, so the benefits of sea salt are essentially gone--like the stuff I bought!

Check out these links to read a bit more about it. I'm going to be doing some more reading on this subject myself and would love to hear your take on the salt issue. Do you take a side in the sea salt vs. table salt debate?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

HBinFive: Carrot Bread and Olive Spelt Bread


This time around our HBin5 mission were two breads with veggies included-carrot bread and olive spelt bread. I still have spelt flour hanging around from the red beet buns, so I knew I was going to be making the  olive spelt one. And the carrot bread sounded tasty as well, so I got on board with both breads. 

I only made half a recipe of the carrot bread because I wasn't sure how the family would like it and I didn't want to put myself through the temptation of having to finish it all myself! The carrot bread calls for dried fruit to be added, so I used dates and apples. I had read several comments that the included coconut didn't show up strongly in the finished product, so I doubled the amount called for, and while it could be detected, it was still pretty light in coconut flavor. I also used all freshly milled white wheat flour for this bread instead of half wheat and half all-purpose. I wanted to make mine into a braid, so I refrigerated the dough before using it. I used half to form a braid and put the other half into some muffin pans I have with heart designs on the bottom. I wasn't impressed with how the breads looked after baking--they were definitely not the prettiest breads I have made. The braid turned out flat-looking, and the muffins didn't really show the designs from the bottom of the pan well. I decided to use the cream cheese honey cream cheese icing to top the breads with and the icing hid all the unprettiness, and they turned out looking fairly appetizing after all. Everyone said they tasted good, and I really liked this bread. The icing topping was pretty tasty as well. I read several comments from others who baked this bread and said it wasn't very sweet, but you couldn't tell with the icing.

I wasn't sure what kind of olives to get for my olive spelt bread, but found a jar of assorted olives marinated in some kind of wine and herbs combination. Unfortunately for me, the olives weren't pitted and let's just say, it takes quite a while pit a jar of olives! I had fresh yogurt from our goats' milk to use for this dough. I had the spelt flour, as I said, but again instead of using all-purpose flour, I just used some of my own flour ground from the white winter wheat. It's a lot lighter than whole wheat along the lines of the white wheat flour. I thought this dough sounded like a great base for a pizza, so I used about a fourth of it for making a pizza for lunch the other day. I topped it with pizza sauce, mozzarella, and turkey pepperoni. It was a bit hard to roll out because of the olives in the dough and I kept ripping holes in the crust, but managed to pinch it all together. Paul and I enjoyed it, and I loved the mix of olives in the dough. Ivy commented on why I couldn't just make something normal, but this didn't stop her from eating more pizza than either Paul or I did! She just said it would have been better without the olives. I still have some of this dough left and think I will probably wind up with a couple more pizzas from it, but think I might make a little round loaf from it to really see how the bread tastes on its own. If I make this one again, I'm definitely going with pitted olives!! (And I didn't get a picture of the pizza, because we really all were pretty hungry when it came out of the oven, but it looked pretty tasty--you'll have to trust me on that one!)

Tribest Yolife Yogurt Maker - YL-210

As there has been some discussion in the HBin5 group about making yogurt, I wanted to comment a little about it. I started making yogurt before we were getting milk from our goats, but now I make our yogurt from our own fresh milk and it's so tasty! I started out with just making it by adding a couple bottles of hot water wrapped in towels to the cooler with the warm innoculated milk and leaving it in the cooler all day to set up, but this year I bought a yogurt maker  (here) and I love how easy it makes the incubation period of the yogurt making. You still have to heat your milk and let it cool off before you add your yogurt in. But once it is ready, you can just put your containers right into the yogurt maker and let it keep your milk at the right temperature until it is yogurt. It's not a necessity for making yogurt, but it sure makes things easier. My yogurt maker came with 7 little cups for making individual servings of yogurt and a lid that fits over the little cups, but it also came with a tall lid that lets you use larger containers in your maker. I usually make two quart jars of yogurt at a time, but it could easily fit three and maybe four, I just haven't tried that many. This latest time that I made yogurt, I made a quart of plain to have some to use in my bread and a quart of strawberry. I hadn't added fruit to the yogurt before incubating it before, but the booklet with my maker had a few recipes to try. You have to cook the fruit first before adding it to the milk, and you add some sugar to the fruit while it cooks. All the fruit sank to the bottom while the yogurt incubated, but I strained the yogurt when it was done to make it a little thicker and creamier and then stirred the fruit through the yogurt, and it was so yummy! I'm looking forward to trying other flavors of fruit yogurts now that I saw how well that turned out.

You can check out what others did with these doughs by visiting the HBin5 Bread Braid hosted at Big Black Dog.


About This Blogger

I am a thirty-something mother of two girls and a boy ranging from preschool to middle school. My husband and I keep working and reworking on our goal of raising our family healthier. Our house is a constant work under construction--adding on and remodeling. We're happy to have bought our property a few years ago, but as any homeowners know, owning a home just adds to your list of projects and chores because there's always improvements to be made and maintenance to be done. On our burgeoning homestead, we have chickens, guineas, a few goats, and our most recent additions-rabbits.

About This Blog

I picked the name Petalz and Finz a couple years ago when I decided to try Etsy out. I wanted to custom make some baby related items and have things for girls and boys. I felt the name incorporated both my kids (at the time) into it--petalz for Ivy and finz for Finn.

I haven't had time to do much of anything with my Etsy for a while, but it's still my in my long term goals. In the mean time, I'm having fun with this blog thing. I've found some creative inspiration through my own posting, but also through many other wonderful blogs out there.

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