Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bacon, Pecan & Coffee Ice Cream

Yes, you read the title right...and you may be wondering what in the world inspired me to create such a recipe.  Well, you might say I made a comment on Twitter which left me with no other choice then to try and see if coffee, bacon and ice cream could successfully be combined into one recipe.  

I will let you be the judge of the final product if you dare venture to make a batch.  Some in our house loved the resulting dessert(that would be the more adventurous eaters), while others said it tasted good but that they just couldn't get past the fact they were eating bacon in their ice cream.  So, here's to you @FoodDemocracy...something different than the regular holiday week-end fare and probably something you couldn't even find at the MN state fair.

Here is what you need for ingredients to make this recipe:

Ice Cream Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups cream plus 1/4 skim milk (you can also just add 3 cups of cream and 3/4 cup of 1/2&1/2 to equal out to the same fat per milk ratio)
  • 1 Tablespoon natural coffee extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar cane crystals
  • 1 egg yolk (save the white for below)

Bacon Pecan Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of bacon (you actually don't use all the bacon, but you will need the fat, and I am sure you can find some extra use for already cooked bacon...a BLT sounds good)
  • 4 cups pecans
  • 1/3 cup sugar cane crystals
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon salt

To make the ice cream, put the sugar cane crystals and extract into a quart jar and then add the cream (I use raw cream skimmed from the top of the milk I got from my cow in the morning.)  

Shake well and then refrigerate to completely cool the mixture.

Right before adding the ice cream mix to the ice cream maker (I use a Cuisinart brand)...

...mix up the yolk and then mix it into the cream...

...then pour the whole thing into the ice cream maker.

When the ice cream is finished, transfer to a container and keep in the freezer until the rest of the recipe is finished.

Now, place a pound of bacon (got this fresh from our butcher)...

...on a broiling pan and then bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or until crisp.

While the bacon is cooking, whip up the egg white with the water until frothy stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and salt (the amount of salt you add will depend upon how salty your bacon is.  Since our butcher smokes the bacon I used 1 Tablespoon of salt in my recipe.)

Then add in the pecans and stir.

When the bacon is finished, remove the top of the broiler pan and save 6 slices of bacon and then pour the pecans onto the bacon grease.

Turn the oven down to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the pecans for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  (The first batch I made the grease amount was just right, but this second batch had more grease and I ended up pouring off about a cup of grease halfway through the cooking process.)

Remove the nuts from the oven and allow to cool.

The final step is to take the ice cream, the bacon (crumbled), and 2 cups of the pecans and mix them with a mixer since the mixer will break up the pecans a bit.

Then serve.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cucumber Kimchi

When talking to a friend last week about making kimchi, she was telling me how in the past she had added carrots and various other vegetables to her cabbage to make batches over years past..."a little of this and a little of that"  But alas, she had never tried making a batch without any cabbage at all.  This was my goal, and it had to be since I had used up all the cabbage from my garden to make a huge batch of sauerkraut.  So, with an abundance of cucumbers coming out of my garden I felt I really had nothing to lose in making up a batch of kimchi with cucumbers as the base.  And, what do you know?  It was so good I am thinking of making up another batch.

Here is what I used for my ingredients:  (These are rough ratios for you to follow since it will really depend upon the size of your fermenting container and vegetables.  Remember, fermenting is rather forgiving as long as you follow a couple of proper steps, which I will point out along the way.

Cucumbers and onions for 2 batches

3 to 4 medium cucumbers
1 onion
1 hot pepper (leave the seeds if you prefer a warmer kimchi)
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup cheese whey (this can also be the yellow liquid that rises to the top of yogurt with active cultures, that is if you don't make cheese or know someone who does)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

(You may want to add the whey and salt at the end of the process if you are not sure how much of a batch you will make.  For a gallon, I ended up using 1 cup of whey and 2 tablespoons of salt.)

Pulse all of the above ingredients in a food processor until everything is well chopped and incorporated and then transfer into your fermenting jar.  I had a lot of cucumbers and onions that didn't sell at the farmer's market, so I ended up making a gallon.

Now, here is one of those important fermenting steps:  Press down the vegetables until the liquid in the container covers them and then cover the container in a manner that keeps that pressure constant.  (As long as your veggies are under the liquid they will not be exposed to air and therefore will ferment instead of mold.)

This is the cup and lid I used together to hold the cucumber mixture below the liquid

Here is the jar opening they fit into (with the finished kimchi within).

The next step is to find a place you can leave the fermenting jar for 2 to 5 days making sure to airlock the container, lid on tight (that is the other important fermenting step).  Mine took 4 days in a warm room, but then again I made a gallon and usually larger batches take a bit longer.

Transfer your container to cold storage when the mixture has fully fermented.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crispy Rice Granola Bars

Breaking away from my traditional food blog, here is a video recipe for you to enjoy along with the accompanying recipe in print(below).  I hope you enjoy this change of pace on my blog...and if you are wondering the reasoning behind this new way for me to present recipes, you can view my previous post titled, A New Venture into Cooking Videos.

Here is the video on how to make Crispy Rice Bars:  (You will want to gather up the kids as there are some parts added just for them.)

Now, here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup sweet brown rice
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (13.66 fl oz)
  • Cinnamon
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup nuts (we used black walnuts)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (we used a combination of apples and organic dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds, milled
  • 1 jar brown rice syrup (1 lb 5 oz)
  • 1/3 cup SUCANAT
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (we used fermented peanut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Coconut oil, for coating the 11x7 pan

Start by bringing to a boil the rice and the coconut milk.  Cover and then simmer for 40 to 45 minutes (until all the liquid is absorbed).

Next, spread the cooked rice on two sheets of parchment, sprinkle with cinnamon, and dry the rice completely.  If using a dehydrator, dry at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 hours, otherwise if using an oven just bake at the lowest setting until the rice is dry (3 to 5 hours).

When the rice is dry, warm a large skillet on a smaller burner (this is important because it allows you to move the rice off the heat during the cooking process and the rice is less likely to burn), and in 4 batches pan fry the rice until most of it has popped.  Don't worry about it all popping since the heat of the rice will continue to pop the rice even after they are tranferred to a bowl.

Now, mix together the crispy rice (you should end up with about 3 cups then finished), oats, nuts, dried fruit, and milled flax.

Next, on the stove, bring the brown rice syrup and SUCANAT to a boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla...and when those ingredients are all incorporated, then pour the syrup over the rice and oat mixture and stir well.

Finally, oil your pan with coconut oil and then press the mixture into the pan. (Hint:  If you use wet hands to press down the mixture, it makes the process much easier.)

Let the bars firm up over night, about 12 hours, and then cut to your desired size.

Looking for an orchard?
If you would like to find an orchard, Orange Pippin is a great site to visit.

Do you know what nut trees grow in your area?
Also, if you life in the United States, has an article that lists out nut trees by region.

This recipe has been added to the...

...where you can find lots more ideas on how to bring the farm home.

A New Venture into Cooking Videos

The other day I was explaining to a woman how she could cook a particular grain to make it more digestible and nutritious, when she said to me, "You should really teach a cooking class on everything you know about healthy food."  Alas, I hated to tell her that I do offer cooking and cheese making classes on my farm, but even though there was a lot of interest in these classes, very few people had the time to come out for an evening...even in the summer when the weather is good for driving out to our farm.

Yes, more and more when I speak to people about the food they choose to eat, I realize the overwhelming need for healthy cooking classes and also methods which help to connect them to the food they eat.  And, this may sound rather silly to some of you, but I have been earnestly praying about how I can meet the needs of people who do desire to change their eating habits while at the same time not take too much time away from my own family by keeping a hectic speaking schedule as I have done in years past.  Thus, knowing God always answers prayers, I started paying attention to what was happening around me to see where the answer was to come from. 

If you bear with me on this train of thought, here is a list I have started constructing in my head:

  •  Last month I got a call from Bob's Red Mill asking me to do a morning television program for them even though my entry for their contest was not exactly what they were looking for, they loved my ability to "really teach a recipe".  
  • Just a few weeks ago I received an inquiry from the New England Cheese Making Company to be one of their featured cheese bloggers.  Here is the link to the piece they wrote up about me and my blog post on how to make Brie Cheese.
  • And, as has been the pattern since I started this site and started speaking out more on gut health, more parents and grandparents have been emailing me with questions on how to cook foods their kids or grandkids will eat plus heal them from the inside out.  (Kind of a longer played out version of the healthy cooking class my daughter Maggie and I taught this spring that went OVER 1 HOUR PAST our allotted slot because people just kept asking questions.)
  • Also, in my selling at the local farmer's market this summer, I have come face-to-face with customers who never thought ingredients, even in freshly baked foods, could be detrimental to their health.  They were shocked to realize that "home cooked" didn't always equate to "healthy".
  • Plus, just this last week, I experienced a parent (my sister) in shock when she found out I got her daughter to try sweet corn (and love it, of course) by just taking her out to pick some herself.
  • Finally, there was a connection to a website I newly discovered, through my Twittering, to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution site where he promotes teaching children how to cook.

So here is where all of those things took me:  As a mom who home schools her own children but also as a friend to families who make other choices in educating their children, I realize that children can be influenced to learn and make good changes in their lives through a variety of different interactions.  That being said, the most powerful influence in a child's life is their parents...good or bad, a child will more than often choose to please their parent over the lessons the world around them is teaching.  Now, keeping what I have said in mind, translate that to the world of food and healthy eating.  I love the concept of teaching children how to eat healthy and also how to interact with their food through cooking.  But it is even more important to reach out to these children's parents and show them how to make changes within their homes, one purposeful step at a time, so their day-to-day influence can solidify the concepts their kids may have embraced in a cooking class.  And that is when I started thinking there must be a way to teach parents how to replace a food they would normally use in their cooking and get their children involved in the kitchen, while at the same time engage their children in the process (connecting with local farms and home cooking) so it would be something everyone could embrace together.

Once again I found myself looking over the Food Revolution site, and I was surprised when a link took me to Food Tube...and a video contest.  Having just finished my very first food video for my Bob's Red Mill submission and being a bit intimidated by the whole video assembly process, I wasn't that excited about trying to make another video...especially since I only had a few weeks to put the whole thing together before the submission date.  But the possibilities of reaching an audience, which I knew was out there, through means of a video seemed to be the missing link that would put all the pieces together in my puzzle.  Plus, I realized that any future filming could be done on my family's would allow me to use my public speaking skills without having to travel on another persons' schedule (at least as frequently as I had been doing in the past), and best of all I could teach a lesson once and it could be repeated whenever any viewer felt the need to watch.  So, I rounded up the family and we decided to go for it.

But then there was the video concept.  It had to involve rice since the competition was sponsored by Uncle Bens, and it had to be a simple recipe.  I knew my homemade granola bars would fit the bill, but then there was the original reasoning of why I was feeling led to explore this media...and it was bigger than this connect parents and kids to healthy food and their local farms.  

OK, I am going to date myself a bit here, but when I was young one of my favorite television shows was Mr. Rogers.  I am not sure how many kids were like me in this respect, but my favorite part of his show was when he would pull out a film reel and show where various things came from.  It was from that concept, that I decided was the best means to connect with the kids in a video, through a farm field trip.  But then there had to be an element added for the grow ups as to the "why" behind a lengthy step I was going to take with the rice to make the recipe healthy throughout.  As for the submission suggestion for a 4 minute video...I just couldn't compromise.  But then again, the competition in my view was just a leaping off point for me to get going in this direction whether or not I should win, so we ended up pushing the boundaries to almost 8 1/2 minutes.

All in all, I was really surprised with the video we ended up producing, considering the learning curve we transitioned through.  I know as time goes on, and we perfect our talking to an unseen audience and struggling less and less with the video editing software and my son using the camera with a bit more creative interpretation (with probably a much better tripod that does jerk when it's moved), the videos will only get better.  So, expect to see more links to YouTube like the recipe post that is to follow this one.  And for those of you who have enjoyed this site since I started it in January, don't worry about it going away...I plan to continue my blogging.  Yes, my speaking schedule has freed up a bit since I took my name off a couple of lists, but speaking out about the things I feel passionate about has just taken on a new twist...come what may.

So, gather up the gang and check out my family friendly video on how to make Crispy Rice Granola Bars and then go out, connect with the farms in your area, and then make your own batch of bars.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Matthew 9 & What I Really Need

As I was reading through Matthew 9 once again (OK, I have to admit this summer has thrown my plans to blog on one chapter of the gospels each week into a bit of a tail spin - so much for well made plans.) I realized that I have always looked at the following scripture from the point of view of either Jesus or the scribes.  But for some reason my thoughts this time were drawn to the point of view of the paralytic man and what he might have been thinking during the following exchange:

“...they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.'

And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, 'This Man blasphemes!'

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'—then He said to the paralytic, 'Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.' And he arose and departed to his house.

Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.”  (Matthew 9: 2-8)

These are just some of the questions I found I started asking while reading from this alternative point of view:  How did this man become a paralytic?  Was he born that way?  Did he suffer from some devastating accident?  Did an illness or slowly progressing disease cause his condition?  And then:  What type of life did he live before the transition, if there was a "before"?  What thoughts circled through his head, on a daily basis, about why such a fate had befallen him?  Was it the sin of his parents that caused him to live this way, day in and day out? (a common thinking pattern of that day and age)  Or, was his poor state the result of some sin he himself had committed?  Yes, my mind was swimming with all of these questions just because of my change in perspective.

All of these questions then made me start to think that when Jesus said to the paralytic, "Yours sins are forgiven you.",  He was more than likely offering this man something even better than physical healing.  Could it have been that the thought life of this man tormented him even more than his physical ailments?  Having lived through decades of on and off suicidal depression in my past, I could truly relate to the transforming power and healing that real and complete forgiveness affords an individual.  Yes, looking from only the outside of this story in Matthew 9, we only consider the external healing needed in this man's life.  But Jesus saw beyond what the eyes could see, and He looked into what the heart of this man needed most...the healing of his troubled heart.

As I see it, this story should call us all to consider one ringing question:  Have I only asked Jesus to heal the external things in my life instead of the more dire need I have within that needs healing?  Often times what troubles us on the outside is just a manifestation of what we have failed to deal with on the inside.  Thankfully, Jesus is able to offer healing in both forms, but it is our heart that He truly wants to heal more than anything.  Yes, life will always give us curve balls, disappointments, pain, and sorrow - the bible is clear about all of that - but when Jesus finds His way into our hearts, His peace will reside in us and make all those obstacles more than bearable...He will make them so they are filled with purpose and meaning.  And having purpose in Jesus, that is a soul freed from all the wearily weights of this world and set on the kingdom beyond this life, is what I need every day to keep going and doing the tasks set before me.  What about you?  Jesus offers to heal all who come to Him in faith...are you willing to trust in Him to heal the things troubling you today?  My prayer is that you will.