Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sprouted grains (Updated)

Since discovering the advantages of sprouted grains, I have been a grain sprouting, drying, milling, experimenting fool! I'll post some recipes soon, but I wanted to let folks know that this too is attainable for YOU!

Making seeds grow is something that my kids do on a regular basis. They find a seed, grab a ziploc and a moist paper towel, throw it all in together and tape it to a window. (Usually all before I have a say in the matter. I have tape marks all over my dining room window, since currently we only have a lemon seed growing...) Within a few days, we have plant life to watch!

Sprouting grains for cooking is just as simple and takes about as much time! Of course, it is much easier to make all the recipes I have if you have a grain mill...(which I HIGHLY recommend for healthy cooking! Check out info about anti-caking agents added to store bought flour!)

The Sprouting Steps:
1. I usually select a grain, fill my gallon jar about 1/2 full, fill it to the top with water and put the mesh screen lid on. Then I leave it overnight, or for the whole day, up to 24 hours.

2. Dumping the water takes 2 minutes, (a couple more if you dump it in your garden like I do), then the jar goes on it's side on the counter.
3. The seeds/grains get rinsed once or twice a day, (depending on how anal you are...sometimes I get so busy they don't get rinsed at all! gulp!)
4. Within a couple days, you'll see all those little seeds growing little tiny sprouts. When they are about 1/16 inch long, they are ready to be used. Be careful though, if you let them go longer they will keep growing until they are no longer a grain, but now plant life. (Makes for a much greener flavor...)

Drying Sprouts:
This part takes about as much time as sprouting.
1. Dump your jar of sprouted grains onto a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) or on a pizza pan with holes in the bottom (I just discovered that the grains don't fall through the bottom and it gives it great air circulation!) and place in a warm oven. It is very important that the oven not go over about 105 degrees. If they dry at a higher heat, you kill all those good enzymes you just let out by sprouting!)
2. Every so often, 2 or so hours, reach in and mix em up. The oven is only warm so if it is too hot for your hand, then it is too hot for the grain.
3 After about 5-18 hours, depending on your oven's convection features and how thinly your grain is spread on the trays, you have dried grains that can now go right into the flour mill! (They should feel just like the dried grains do when they are ready to go through the mill.)

Cooking with Sprouted flour:
One thing I have found so far is that most of the time sprouted flour can be substituted straight across for any other flour in a recipe. However, every once in a while it needs just a bit less liquid...not exactly sure why.

Yeh! Found my camera cord. This last picture is of the scones that my 7 year old made all by herself!

Later, I am making sprouted hummus! We'll see how it turns out!

This post is a part of Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Raw Milk at Organic Pastures

Our spring break was so exciting! In between family visits, sister weekends and driving all over the state, we got to go visit Organic Pastures raw milk dairy in Fresno, CA. Since we already buy milk from them, I thought it would be the perfect supplement to the kids' education to see where our milk comes from, literally. I made an appointment the week before our trip to get a tour and when we arrived, another family tour was just finishing up.
Kaleigh, Marc McAfee's daughter, was our tour guide. (Of course the pix I took of her are nowhere to be found!!!) She was bubbly and sweet and very informative. She is basically in charge of marketing for the company and you can completely tell that her heart is all the way in it! It will be cool to watch what happens as she becomes more and more involved.

All of the following is info we got from her. (Any error in information is my mistaken memory!)

When Marc and his family first moved out to their farm he wanted to have goats. His wife didn't like goat's milk, cheese or meat so she wanted cows. Obviously, happiness of the wife is happiness in the home so cows it was! They had never been farmers so they kind of let the cows do their thing, their way. Pretty soon, folks were coming with buckets, asking for raw milk. Initially, they just gave it away for free! Then the demand became great and they realized that to meet the demand they would have to actually venture into some bottling processes. So they started with a couple trailers, thinking it would be a temporary fix and ended up using more to make their current creamery.

For sanitation purposes they can't let people actually go IN to the creamery, but we got to look in the window to see how they bottle the milk.

Amazingly, everything that can be done by hand is done by hand! We can see now why the milk has to cost what it does! (I wish I had been able to get the picture of the guy with the mountain of butter and the scooper. He was scooping butter into the containers, one at a time!!!)

They are hoping that when they get the new creamery built (within a couple years!) they can actually streamline things, meet a little more of the outstanding demand, and perhaps even get the prices down quite a bit!

Next we got to see the cows!

Our first stop was the mama pasture, full of pregnant cows ready to give birth.
Cows are pregnant for about 9ish months, close to the same as humans. They get to be in this pasture away from milking and daily cow busy-ness for about the last month. Sounds like a dream! There were holsteins and jerseys and some mixes, mamas who were on their first baby and some who were old hats at this. At Organic Pastures they let the cows go through the labor and delivery process as naturally as possible without any human intervention unless there is some problem or the labor takes more than an hour.

(An hour!!!! Can you imagine if we lived organically in a natural environment and with little medical intervention? Would our babies come out as quickly and with such ease? I think so!!!)

Typically, the delivering cow will take herself about 200 yards or so out away from the herd and lumber around, swaying and loosening up. The calf will then come out, plop down on the ground, followed by all the afterbirth. She will eat up all the yucky stuff, clean her baby and he will wobble himself up to his feet.
See how close we were?

Then how far away from the rest?

Next we walked/ran, (this was lovely for wearing out the 3, 5, 7 and 9 year olds!), to see where they take the babies once they have their legs under them. There are coyotes in the area that will come and take the calves if they are not protected a bit.
There were little pens that they stay in for a couple weeks until they get moved to the big kids playpen

and then on to the big kid area out in the pasture. While they are here, we can pet them and let them "nurse" off of our fingers. (This is a feeling much like a human baby, just with a much deeper mouth.) They were very sweet!

Organic Pastures does not do any branding of their animals, which I love. It does, however, have its drawbacks. Just recently, they had about a hundred calves stolen. Yes, stolen. Can you believe people still do things like that? I'm not sure if they are going to change their practice on that end but I hope not. I love that these cows are so free to be truly natural.

A cow can typically live anywhere from 15- 25 years. At nearby dairies, the cows live an average of 3-4 years. This could be because the farmers give them things like gummy bears and molasses chips to make them produce more milk. (!!!!!!! Did you catch that???????? Talk about natural!!! UGH!) These cows are also kept in small pens and given no opportunities for normal life. From those cows I can understand the pasteurization practice!!!

Lately, with the pasteurized milk industry not doing as well, some of the organic dairies are coming to the McAfee family and asking them to buy their cows. When the non-pastured cows are unloaded from the truck they are a bit skittish about this prickly green substance under their feet. It takes them a couple of nervous hours before the joy takes them over. At that point they begin to literally dance across the pastures, kicking up their heels, bounding through to the boundaries of their newfound freedom. Kaleigh said she wished she had a video so she could put it on YouTube. (Get it, please!!! I want to see!!!)

After the tour, we came back to the offices where the kids ate all of the raw almond samples and had some raw milk and chocolate "colostrum" samples.
I love this dairy. I love how much they care about their products and their animals. I am so happy to be supporting them!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cookies for Breakfast?

Yes, yes, that's right. I did. I gave my kids gigantic cookies for breakfast. Two of them each, in fact. Even saved two for dad. It seemed like a good idea at the time...still does, except when I hear them talking to someone about the cookies they had for breakfast. *Ahem*
But wait! They were good cookies! They had flour and oats and eggs and cinnamon and honey and homemade buttermilk! (And of course I didn't take ONE picture!- I thought about it...then wondered what people would think...) And the kids loved it so much. They sat there, eating those cookies that were bigger than their hands, with smiles that can only come with dessert. I'm mom of the year now and it was food that was actually GOOD for them. I love it!