Monday, February 25, 2013

Roasted Soybean Recipe

Here is a wonderful recipe for a healthy snack that, even though it is a bean tastes more like a nut when you reach the finished product.

Ingredients needed:
  • Soybeans
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

Start by soaking the bean for 24 hours.

Drain and then recover with water and cook for 1 hour.

Drain again.

Next, dry the bean on a towel to remove as much moisture as you can.

Place the beans, in a single layer on baking sheets.  Then, sprinkle the beans with the seasonings - as much as you desire.

Next, place the baking sheets in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 2 to 3 hours, making sure to rotate the sheets as well as mix the beans every once in a while.

When the beans are dry, they are done.

Homemade Jarlsberg Cheese

Jarlsberg cheese, is one of my favorite cheeses.  I love how firm the texture is along with its incredible melting ability, as well as its slightly strong taste (that has to do with the additional bacteria added to the milk while it is culturing). 

To start off, I partially skim the cream off the cream from my milk to get 8 gallons of partially skimmed milk.

Next, after sanitizing my cheese vat, the thermometer, and stirring ladle, I pour all 8 gallons of milk into the vat and set it to medium-high heat on my largest burner.  Until the milk is heated to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, I stir the milk every couple of minutes while checking the temperature.

When the milk gets to 92 degrees.  Turn off the heat and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of thermophilic culture AND 1/2 teaspoon of propionic bacteria powder over the top of the milk.  I get my cultures, rennet, and cheese making supplies from and have found his prices to be spot on competitive.  He also has great turn around on products and wonderful customer service.

After the culture has moistened for a minute or two, I use the ladle to draw down the culture with up and down motions about 20 times to make sure it is fully incorporated into the milk.

For this recipe, I let the culture sit in the milk for 45 minutes.  Then stir the milk again and add in a 1/2 cup of water that has been mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of rennet.  I use a vegetarian rennet liquid because it works well for me every time.  Make sure to stir the rennet into the cultured milk really well, just like the culture had been stirred in, with about 20 up and down strokes, otherwise the cheese will not set properly.

Now cover and let the pot sit for 40 minutes maintaining the 92 degree temperature.  Just a note on maintaining temperature.  If you are making a small batch of cheese you will not be able to just turn off the heat and expect your cheese to maintain the same temperature unless your room is 90 degrees also.  But if you make a large batch with 8 gallons, it takes a long time for that must heat to disburse.  I have found that making larger batches is just easier for me since I have so much milk on hand and temperature maintenance is not a problem.

Yes, it is a HUGE pot
After 40 minutes, your cheese should have set and it should look like milk jello.  

With a sanitized knife, I then cut the curd into pieces and then stir for 20 minutes until all the curds are about the size of peas, chopping with the end of the ladle while stirring.

Let the curds then settle for 5 minutes.  Then proceed to scoop out about 30% of the whey (just until you can see the top of the settled curds).

Replace about 2/3 of the amount you took of of whey with 140 degree Fahrenheit water to make the entire cheese pot reach a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Next, the heat goes on at medium and the curds are slowly heated while being stirred until they reach 108 degrees Fahrenheit.

The curds are then let to settle while I sanitize the items I need to remove the curds and press them.

Now, with very clean hands, I scoop the curds out of the whey and put them into a stainer that is lined with a natural cheese cloth.

Next, I just lift up the cloth and move all the curds into the tomme mold, with the cloth still around the curds, and put the mold into my cheese press with medium pressure for 1 hour.

 After an hour, I take the cheese out of the cloth, turn it upside down and re-wrap it with a poly cheese cloth - it is much easier to remove the final cheese from this type of cloth then the traditional cloth, but I do use the traditional cloth for the first step because it is bigger and it makes wrapping and moving the curd a much less messy process.

Now the cheese, in the mold, sits on my counter under medium pressure for 12 to 18 hours - the next morning is close enough for me.

In the morning I mix 1 cup of pickling salt with about 2 inches of cold water in a plastic container (see below).  And place the unwrapped cheese into the salt water brine.  Just a quick note, I cut my cheese into 2 pieces at this point because when I long term store my cheese for aging I vacuum seal them and the full cheese is too big for the sealing bags I use.  If you want a full round you do not have to cut your cheese in half like I do.

The cheese should sit in the brine for a total of 12 hours - 6 hours on each side.  Then, after being in the brine all day, take the cheese out, place it on a sanitized mat and put in the refrigerator for a few days to dry.  Then flip and dry for a few more days.

Your cheese, when completely dried, will be ready to eat or store.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Perfect Cracker

A few years ago, I went in the pursuit of the perfect cracker - one that was just a bit sweet and could be eaten with a sweet accompaniment but at the same time were not too sweet so they could also be eaten with cheese.  After many, many recipes (some that I ended up feeding to the chickens because they were not even good enough for us to eat), I found a recipe for Norwegian flat bread, that with a few tweaks of my own, ended up being exactly what I had been looking for. 

This cracker has now become our family favorite cracker.  I make a quadruple batch each time I make these because they keep so well (4 weeks at least when stored in an air tight container).

Here is what you need for ingredients:
1 cup oatmeal (quick or old fashioned)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup yogurt
3/4 cup real butter milk
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 Tablespoons SUNCANAT
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup whole wheat hard flour
(You can equally substitute the yogurt and buttermilk amounts above with 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 cup real buttermilk/yogurt instead)

Mix all of the ingredients together, cover and let sit for at least 1 hour (I usually leave it sit on the counter for the day to let the grains get a bit sour).

Roll out the dough, 1/2 of a batch at a time, on a sheet of parchment.

Cut into cracker size with a pizza cutter, and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 20 minutes or until just browned.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Making Corn Tortillas

Tacos are one of my oldest son's favorite dinners but buying store bought taco shells or even tortillas is not something I want to add to our diet.  Therefore, a few years ago, I did some research on tortilla presses and started making my own corn and whole wheat tortillas.  In the end, I purchased a 10 inch cast iron press based on all the reviews I read, and I have not second guessed my decision since my purchase.

The recipe I am going to share with you today is for corn tortillas using a special corn flour specifically for making these wonderful Mexican flat breads.

Here is what you will need for ingredients:
2 cups nixtamalina flour
1 1/4 cups water

Mix the water and the flour and then cover and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Next, take a small ball of the dough and lay it towards the back part of the press.

Note:  You will notice the plastic on the press - I use a large baggie cut in half to cover both sides of the press to keep the tortilla from sticking.

Then cook the tortilla on one side until it starts to brown.  Flip, and brown the other side.

Keep the tortillas warm and flexible by putting them in a towel after they finish cooking.

Mark 8 & Leaven

In reading through Mark 8 last week, the one part of the scripture that kept sticking out to me as I read it each day was verse 15, which reads:

Then He charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.'”

I think the reason this verse caught my attention, is because for many years I had no thoughts, good or bad, about yeast but all that changed a short 5 years ago. It was then, I learned that the primary cause of the issues my family had been plagued with for years (depression, Asperger Syndrome, Dyslexia, sensory issues, speech issues, anger outbursts, etc.) was rooted in a common yeast infection we shared. Thus, the word “yeast” tends to be one word I take great pains to notice and deal with on a daily basis.

The reality of the bad yeast that had proliferated my digestive system, which had been given the right conditions to flourish because of my prolonged use of antibiotics when I was a teenager (a common scenario for many people my age who were told by their doctor that it was an effective treatment for acne), was the culprit for some very devastating issues I dealt with as a teenagers and young adult. But what is even more unfortunate about the effects of this yeast overgrowth, is that as I eventually got married and had children, I passed my poor gut flora and yeast overgrowth onto my children. (The new data which came out recently confirms this long time suspicion of mine.)

The official name given to an overgrown yeast infection in the gut is Candida, and its treatment requires an intensive starvation of the yeast, basically removing all sugar and carbohydrates from the diet which the yeast feeds on, while at the same time replenishing the gut with good bacteria so eventually when repopulated with the good bacteria the bad bacteria can be kept in check – not removed completely, but outnumbered.

Just like yeast in bread dough spreads throughout the entire lump of dough, so too does yeast in the gut infect the entire gut system. If there is a plethora of good bacteria to fight against the bad bacteria (some of that being the yeast that causes Candida), then the body has no issues. But if the good bacteria is outnumbered by bad bacteria and harmful yeasts, then it eventually loses its battle in the fight to dominate the gut and the gut flora becomes compromised and starts to grow and wreak havoc in the body and with all of its connected systems.

Here are some interesting verses from 1 Corinthians about yeast that I would like to add into this discussion:

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5: 6-7

Just like our physical balance of yeast in the gut needs to be maintained with a healthy balance of bacteria that continues to fight against the toxins and yeasts which we are bound to be exposed to our our world every day, these verses point out that our spiritual balance of truth must also be maintained to overpower the lies and evil we come in contact with on a daily basis. Purging out the sinful places in our lives as God leads us to do so, being willing to starve out all evil influences, and taking an active roll in fighting against those things that Jesus died to save us from, is what Paul is talking about in these verses. The reference to Jesus, our Passover lamb, reminds us that the purging has been done by His blood alone. What is left for us to do, is to be willing to allow His blood to remove all the sin that currently dwells within us, and then persevere, with hearts set right, to maintain that balance as the Holy Spirit directs us in repopulating our hearts, minds, and souls with God's truth.

Maybe you have never considered the balance of good and bad, in either your gut or your spiritual life, but these verses call us to out to remember that we must take an active roll in making sure the balance we maintain in both of these areas are as right as we can keep them within the scope of our own human efforts. Perfection is not something we can achieve, but working towards having more of the good and less of the bad is a goal we must strive for if we truly desire to be living temples of our Lord and Savior. Anything else would be compromising to a life that is much less than that which God desires for any of us to live.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pasta Carbonara

Whenever there is a plethora of eggs in the refrigerator and we have had heavy meat dinners for multiple days in a row, I try to work in a dinner that will use up some of our excess surplus and Pasta Carbonara is one of those dinners.

Here are the ingredients needed to make this recipe:
  • 6 large eggs (or 8 medium ones)
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 pound bacon, fried and chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl, mix together the eggs and the whipping cream.

Separately, cook the noodles according to the package directions.

After draining the noodles, melt the butter in the same pot.

Then add the drained noodles back into the pot and coat the noodles with the butter.  Set to the side.

Next, put an oven proof dish in the oven at 325 degree Fahrenheit.  When the dish is heated, put the buttered noodles in the dish and pour the egg and cream mixture over the top of the noodles.  Mix well.

Next add the bacon, cheese, salt and pepper and stir again.

Put the whole mixture back into the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to warm it completely.

Stir one more time and then serve.