Real Food Challenge, Week 3

Yes, I’m behind on my Real Food Challenge! The New Mexico trip has me behind on a lot of things 🙂 Here’s to catching up!

Week 3 started out with a discussion of SCOBYs – Symbiotic Colonies of Bacteria and Yeasts. I’m working on getting together the materials required to try and make some water kefir. Since I gave up drinking diet sodas, this sounds like a good replacement!

Next up: homemade yogurt. This is actually something I’ve done many times in the past, with great results. I love homemade yogurt! I make mesophilic yogurt (room temperature). I’m happy to report that my yogurt tasted even better now that I use organic milk and starter. As I shared last week, I have yet to find a good source of raw or vat-pasteurized milk, so that part of the equation will have to come at a later date.

Then came the part I’ve been waiting for: homemade cheese! I’ve been wanting to try this ever since I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) by Barbara Kingsolver and family. The labneh recipe on Nourished Kitchen looks doable, and I will be buying the required items this week to try it out myself.

The article on beans really interests me, because I’ve never actually prepared beans aside from using a can opener on the top! A bean recipe is in my future, with properly soaked beans.

Finally, I made some homemade salad dressing to use up the last of the garlic I had in the house before my trip. This is something I plan to do more of, because I haven’t been able to find pre-made organic dressings that I like. The recipe for Day 21 of the Real Food Challenge was easy and tasty! 3/4 cup EVOO, 1/4 cup raw cider vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, and minced fresh herbs (though I had to use dried herbs, as I had nothing fresh on hand).

I also learned last week that I won a contest! I was so excited when Jenny from Nourished Kitchen emailed me, because just the day before I’d been looking at this e-course wishing I had the money to take it… but with my trip only days away, I was tapped out. I’m now participating in the GNOWFGLINS e-course on preparing healthy, traditional foods, thanks to Nourished Kitchen!

So, that was my Week #3! I’ll be catching up on Week 4 this weekend and next week!

Real Food Challenge, Week 2

We’ve wrapped up Week 2 in the Nourished Kitchen Real Food Challenge, and here’s how it went in my world!

First off, I’ve been caring for my sourdough starter this week. It arrived too late to do much Week 1, and it’s taking a little longer than I’d hoped to get happy this week. I suspect it’s because my kitchen isn’t very warm (68F or so). I tried a high cabinet; I tried in the oven – apparently my pilot light isn’t very warm, either. So tonight, I fed my little sourdough buddy and brought it upstairs with me. I put it next to the heat vent in the bathroom. Hopefully the cats will not get curious.

The starter is bubbling a little bit – just not a whole lot. And it keeps separating and forming liquid on the top. I’ve just been stirring the liquid back in, as the instructions that came from Cultures for Health don’t mention anything about pouring it off. I hope I’m not killing the poor thing! (Wow, it didn’t take long for me to humanize my sourdough starter!)

Week 2 kicked off with a discussion on fats for high-heat cooking. I switched to using coconut oil a couple months ago, after reading the book Skinny Bitch. So far, I have no complaints!

Then, we got into the issue of GMO’s – which is actually the topic that led me into this entire organic adventure (including the creation of this blog). I suspect that a certain M company is actually the devil. Some things are just wrong, and blasting living cells with viruses and the like in order to splice in the DNA of different species… that’s right up there on the list. My local government representatives know who I am (and, a tip I heard a long time ago – paper letters are more effective than email, so print out those letters, stick a stamp on ’em, and drop them in the ol’ snail mail!)

For Day #10, it was back to oils – I regularly dip bread in olive oil, but haven’t tried flaxseed oil. I’ve gotten into throwing flaxseed meal into my oatmeal and my smoothies, so why not try flaxseed oil? It’s on my grocery list.

Baking sourdough is on my list of things to do, once my starter is ready! (C’mon, lil buddy!)

Then came the Real Milk challenge. I was pretty stoked about this, as I love milk and dairy products. I drink organic milk. The article mentioned a brand of Vat-pasteurized milk from Farmers All Natural Creamery. I went to their web site to find the locations where it is sold, and was ecstatic to see two things – first, that Jewel grocery stores carry it (because there’s one down the street from me), and second, that Peapod carries it (because that’s where I get most of my groceries, delivered!) I won’t be ordering from Peapod for another couple weeks, so I decided to check out Jewel. (I had been meaning to go there to check out their selection of organic produce anyway). I was quite impressed with their organic produce selection, but pretty bummed out that I couldn’t find Farmers All Natural Creamery products. 🙁 Booo. The customer service clerk that I asked had never heard of it. I’ll have to try ordering it from Peapod next time.

Day #13 looked at fermented foods. I’m a yogurt fanatic (and have just gotten into Greek yogurt too). I used to make my own yogurt a few years ago, but stopped when I moved… it’s something I plan to try my hand at again soon. I’m also interested in trying to make cheese – but that’s a whole nother story. This kefir stuff looks intriguing (particularly the anti-cancer elements). I plan to look into it some more. I saw some at Trader Joe’s the other day, but hadn’t yet read the Challenge note about kefir!

That brings us to today – Singles Awareness Day. I’m not much into chocolate, so there’s no love lost there. The most exciting thing I added to my food repertoire this week was grape tomatoes in my workout smoothie. I’m looking forward to next week and hopefully baking some sourdough bread, or maybe pancakes!