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Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Brown-Sugared Pecans (or Walnuts)

 

A friend gave me this recipe nearly 50 years ago. Back then, the recipe was for walnuts, but since moving South, I now use pecans. These are addictive! You can’t eat just one. The recipe is easily doubled and I usually do. Prettily packaged, these make a nice little Christmas gift.

Ingredients:

• 1 cup brown sugar, packed
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• ¼ tsp best cinnamon
• 1 tsp grated orange peel*
• 6 tbsp milk (3/8 cup)
• 1 tsp best vanilla
• 2 ½ cups pecan halves
• a pinch or two of best sea salt

Directions:

1. I use my Grandmother’s ancient cast-aluminum pot for this and the big wooden spoon I use for jam. Clip on a good candy thermometer.

2. In a heavy pot — at least 4-quart capacity — stir together the brown sugar, sea salt and cinnamon. Add the orange peel and the milk and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, to the soft ball stage, 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch carefully when it begins to boil — the last few degrees go fast. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and then the pecan halves. 

3. Stir, using a folding motion until the candy turns opaque and starts to set. This will take about 5 minutes of pretty heavy lifting — my arm does get tired, but so worth it!

4. Turn the nuts out onto a parchment lined tray. If you like, quickly sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over the nuts while they’re hot. I use Fleur de Sel. Maldon is good, or whatever you have. Using two forks, separate the nuts to individual halves. Work quickly.

5. Allow the nuts to cool completely before packing. Store these airtight. I often pack them into quart canning jars.

About Orange Peel and Lemon

Waste not, want not. Use all of the peel and keep it handy always.

So many holiday recipes call for grated orange peel; I use it in these confections and also in my Christmas Stollen and pastries and even in some stir fries. Scrub a large orange, then use a potato peeler to peel off the outer zest. Drop the strips of peel into the mini prep processor, add a tablespoon or so of white sugar and process to a grated consistency. Remove the white inner peel (pith) and eat the orange.

Store the peel in a small jar in the freezer. It’s easy to spoon out a spoonful or two.

Now, do the same thing with a couple nice lemons and always have citrus zest on hand.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Homemade Breakfast Cereal

Homemade-Cereal_Full-of-Days_Cereal-Bowl

Have you ever learned a bit of information and then immediately wished you could “unlearn” it? Well, this is just such information, so I won’t blame you if you click away now!

Cereal has always been the Belle of the Ball when it comes to quick and easy breakfasts for busy families on the go. Revered for its high vitamin content and luring us in with healthy promises of “organic”, “high in fiber” and “fortified with iron”, these boxed breakfast cereals have been deceiving us for years.

The Trouble with Store-Bought Breakfast Cereals (Even Organic)

Truth be told, boxed breakfast cereals are one of the unhealthiest foods on the grocery store shelves! The so called “vitamins” they’ve been fortified with are synthetic, the grains used to make the cereals are usually sprayed with toxic chemicals (unless they’re organic, but that’s another issue), many are colored with artificial food dyes and contain more sugar in one serving than most should have in an entire day.

The worst part is that organic, whole-grain and low-sugar cereals are no better. Because organic cereals are typically made with whole grains, they contain more protein. This sounds good initially, but during the extrusion process (where grains are liquified using high heat and pressure, then formed into whatever flake, puff or shape desired), the high heat and pressure can cause the protein in the grain to become toxic and highly allergenic. So whole grains equal more protein, but more protein in this case can also equal a more toxic cereal.

Organic or not, these breakfast cereals are hard for our bodies to digest, and could potentially be a culprit of inflammation, auto-immune diseases and Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Without boxed cereals, what’s a busy family to do on those rushed mornings that don’t leave time to cook a healthy breakfast? Thankfully, with a little planning ahead, there are options that are just as simple and much more nutritious. OK, maybe not quite as simple as tearing open a box and pouring some milk on top, but nearly. (Why raw milk is best)

If you can bake a cake, you can make homemade cereal, because that’s actually the first step! This recipe is sweet (but not too sweet), crunchy and tastes like a cross between Cracklin’ Oat Bran and Grape-Nuts. Top it off with a sliced banana or some berries and you’ll be satisfied until lunch. It’s a breakfast filled with quality protein and healthy whole-grains. Add in the raw milk and berries and you've got vitamins, minerals, quality fats and antioxidants.

Homemade Breakfast Cereal Recipe

The following recipe has been adapted from the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and can easily be doubled to make a larger batch, if needed.

Ingredients

• 6 cups organic whole wheat flour (freshly ground)
• 3 cups homemade yogurt*
• 3/4 cup organic coconut oil (melted)
• 1 cup organic maple syrup
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 Tbsp organic vanilla extract
• 1 Tbsp maple flavoring
• 3 Tbsp organic ground cinnamon

* Milk kefir, buttermilk or clabbered milk can be used in place of the yogurt. For a dairy-free option, use 3 cups water plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar.

Directions:

For full nutritional benefits, allow for a 24-hour soak time of your flour. You can soak as little as 8 hours, or up to 36 hours, but soaking is necessary to neutralize the phytic acids in the flour.

1. Using a grain mill or high powered blender designed for grinding grain (like a Vitamix or BlendTech), grind 6 cups of fresh flour. (If grinding your own grain is not an option, six cups of pre-ground flour will work too). Place flour into a large bowl.

Homemade-Cereal_Full-of-Days_Step-1

2. Add yogurt to the flour and mix well (using your hands works well for this task).

Homemade-Cereal_Full-of-Days_Step-2

3. Eight to 36 hours later, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add remaining ingredients to the soaked flour and stir to combine (or use a stand mixer).

Homemade-Cereal_Full-of-Days_Step-3b

4. Line a full-sized sheet pan (or two half-sheet pans) with parchment paper and pour batter evenly onto the pan(s). Bake for 30 minutes (20 minutes if using a convection oven) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do NOT over-bake!

Homemade-Cereal_Full-of-Days_Step-4

5. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan. After the cake has cooled, crumble into bite sized pieces (see photo for size reference). Bake again at 200 degrees for 6 to 12 hours, or use a dehydrator. Stir cereal once or twice during dehydrating to allow all pieces to dry evenly.

Homemade-Cereal_Full-of-Days_Step-5

Once cereal is dry and crunchy, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

ENJOY!

Kelsey Steffen is an aspiring farmer, wife, mom of four (with one on the way), and home-school educator in North Idaho. Join Kelsey and her family over at Full of Days as they blog about life in the Steffen household, and follow along on Facebook and Twitter. Read all of Kelsey’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Goose Fat is Pure Gold in the Kitchen

Every once in a while, I buy myself a goose. Goose meat is good — it tastes like duck. Goose bones make a fine stock; goose liver, a fine pâté. But I buy the goose for the fat, which is pure gold.

Suzanne Podhaizer_rsz

Geese aren’t easy to find because there aren’t a lot of farmers who raise them. If you are thinking of raising geese commercially, you might want to connect with Suzanne Podhaizer (farmtotableconsulting.com). She used to raise geese for sale and to cook at her Montpelier, Vermont, restaurant, Salt. But like many young farmers who don’t own land, her circumstances changed, and the farm went out of business. Now, she has a consulting business, working on farm to table issues with both farmers and chefs. I was lucky to buy one of the last of the geese she had in her freezer.

The goose I bought was pasture-raised, offered supplemental organic feed, and slaughtered at the age of 5 months (raised from May to October), with a dressed weight of about 8 pounds. I paid $8 a pound — or $64 for my goose. That’s considerably more than I would pay for a pasture-raised organic chicken, which are generally about $6 per pound.

Podhaizer noted that the geese she raised on pasture with conventional feed supplements were larger — and cost less ($5.50 per pound). The difference in the feed was the presence of soy in the non-organic feed. (The difference wasn’t just size. My organically raised bird yielded about half the rendered goose fat of a supermarket goose I bought last year.)

goose fat from 8-pound goose

Those of us who were raised on Dicken’s novels have visions of roasted geese dancing in our heads — especially at this time of year. I find it's almost impossible to roast a goose so that all the parts of the goose are equally cooked and tender. You can improve on the roasting process by removing the backbone and flattening the breastbone in a process called spatchcocking or butterflying.

You’ll need a sharpened cleaver and a certain amount of strength to cut through the rib bones to free the backbone, but it is doable if you have average strength. Better still is first spatchcocking, then separating the leg quarters from the breast. The breast can be roasted, but the legs are better braised. Braising — long, slow moist heat cooking — is more likely to tenderize the meat, which tends to be stringy and quite tough when roasted.

breast and legs separated_rsz

A benefit of spatchcocking is getting access to even more fat to render. From my 8-pound bird, I freed about 9 ounces of fat by reaching into the rear end of the goose and pulling out great gobs of fat. But when the bird was spatchcocked, I found another 7 ounces of fat. (And after I roasted the breast, I was able to pour off another 1 cup of fat, for a total of 5 cups of indescribably delicious cooking fat.)

To render goose fat (duck fat, chicken fat, suet, or lard – the process is the same), I cut the fat up into a small dice. I put it in a pan with water to cover the bottom of the pot and place the pot over low heat. The water is to prevent the fat from scorching before it melts — the water will boil off as the fat renders. As the fat renders, you will see unmelted pieces of light-colored fat and darker solid pieces of meat or skin.

Once you see there are almost no pieces of unmelted fat, remove the pan from the heat. Don’t be greedy and wait till the solids start browning; better to remove the fat from the heat early, then to remove it too late and have fat that tastes burnt.

mostly rendered goose fat_rsz

Strain the rendered fat to remove the solid bits. I set a large, wide-mouth canning funnel in a wide-mouth canning jar. Then I set a metal mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter in the canning funnel, then drain the hot fat. The fat is a light golden color at this stage, but will turn a pale yellow when chilled and solid.

What is the fat good for? It is a good all-purpose cooking fat that adds a luxurious, silken savoriness to everything it comes in contact with, especially vegetables.  It has a smoke point of 375 degrees F, which means you can use it for deep-frying or high-temperature. When sautéing in goose (or duck) fat or slicking vegetables or potatoes in melted fat for roasting, use less fat than you normally do oil. Poultry fat tends to stay on the surface and be less absorbed than oils; this has the advantage of browning foods more quickly and evenly.  If your food cooked in poultry fat seems greasy, you used too much fat.

Melt a few tablespoons and toss vegetables you are going to roast with the melted goose (or duck) fat instead of using olive or another oil. Or give the same treatment to potatoes you are going to roast. You will notice the flavor difference. Or when you are going to sauté kale or another winter green, replace the oil you usually use with goose fat.

But now you have a goose to cook. Braise the goose legs in your favorite braising liquid, such as a Chinese red-cooking (soy sauce) braise, a flavored broth, or wine.  Simmer in the liquid, turning occasionally, for about 2 hours, until the meat reaches at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

Meanwhile, take the breast, rinse it and pat dry. Poke the skin all over with the tip of a sharp knife to encourage the fat to render out. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the goose breast, skin side down in a large cast-iron skillet and sear over high heat until nicely browned. Turn skin side up, transfer to the oven and roast the breast until it reads about 140 degrees (in several spots). Then slice.

sear the breast braise the legsrsz

Serve both the roasted meat and braised meat with white rice and steamed greens, passing the braising liquid on the side. This is no Dickensian goose but it is my favorite way to cook goose. And the braising liquid can be saved and reused—with chicken, duck, pork, anything really.

Here's my red-cooking braising liquid, adapted from my book The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How (available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store).

Red-Cooking Braising Liquid

Ingredients:

• 1 cup soy sauce
• 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
• 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar
• 1 Tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
• 6 cloves garlic
• 6 thin ginger root slices
• 1 orange or tangerine peel

Directions:

1. Combine the water, soy sauce, rice wine, honey, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, and orange peel in a large Dutch oven. 

2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for 5 minutes. 

3. Then add your goose, duck, chicken, pork (red-cooked pork belly was Chairman Mao's favorite dish), beef, chicken gizzards, tofu and simmer until tender, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the meat and the size of the pieces.

Andrea Chesman has written more than 20 cookbooks, including The Pickled PantryRecipes from the Root CellarServing Up the Harvestand The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-HowShe teaches and does cooking demonstrations and classes at fairs, festivals, book events, and garden shows across the United States. She lives in Ripton, Vermont. Read all of Andrea's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Delicious and Savory Turkey Pot Pie Recipe

550 Turkey Pot Pie Photo

It seems that every year, the week after Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m struggling to figure out how to use the turkey leftovers, (now in my freezer) determined not to let anything go to waste. The problem is, everyone in my house is tired of eating turkey soup and turkey sandwiches. This year, I’m pretty excited about my new recipe that not only transforms the turkey leftovers to an exciting new dish but is something you can make, freeze and enjoy whenever you want.

This turkey pot pie is a nourishing comfort food that will fill your belly with warmth and your home with a mouthwatering aroma as it bakes.

This recipe is also fantastic with chicken.

Turkey Pot Pie Recipe

Ingredients for the crust:

• 2½ cups of einkorn flour (you can substitute another type of flour if you prefer but I think einkorn provides the best flavor. If you're not familiar with einkorn or don't know where to purchase it, check out my latest einkorn blog.)
• 8 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into ½ inch squares
• ¾ tsp sea salt
• 6 Tbsp ice water
• 1 egg for egg wash (optional)

Ingredients for the filling:

• 4 Tbsp butter
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 2 large carrots, finely diced
• 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
• 1 small russet potato (finely diced)
• 3 cups shredded turkey or chicken meat (light and dark)
• ¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
• 4 Tbsp einkorn flour (can substitute another type of flour if preferred)
• ¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
• ⅓ cup milk
• 2 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock (homemade is best click here for my recipe)
• ½ tsp dried thyme
• 1 ½ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp pepper
• 2 Tbsp sugar
• ½ cup fresh or frozen peas (optional)

Directions to Make the Crust:

1. Mix together in a large bowl the flour and salt then add the cold butter and use your fingers or a pastry blender to cut the butter into to small pea sized pieces.

2. Add ice water and squeeze the dough with your hands until it just comes together (do not overmix).

3. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and divide into to two equal discs.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but not longer than 24 hours.

Make to Make the Filling:

1. Place oven rack in center and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Melt the butter in dutch oven or large saucepan, add the onion, celery and carrots and saute over medium heat until softened but not browned. Raise heat to medium high, add wine and simmer stirring constantly until it’s reduced by two thirds. If you’re not using wine just skip this step.

3. Add the flour and cornmeal and whisk constantly for about two minutes.

4. Add the milk (whisking constantly) chicken broth, potato, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper let come to a boil then reduce to a simmer and add the turkey and peas if using and simmer until potato is tender (about 10 minutes).

5. Take off heat and let cool a bit.  

6. Take the pie crust discs out of the fridge and let rest on countertop for about 10 minutes at room temperature then evenly roll the first disc out on lightly floured surface until it’s wide enough to fill the pie dish with about a half inch overhang. If your dough tears you can just pinch it back together. If your pie crust doesn't reach the top of the dish in a place or two just pinch some dough where you have a bit extra and patch because it's important that you are able to seal the top and bottom layers of dough before baking. Next, roll the second disc the same way. You also want about a half-inch overhang for the top.

7. Spoon all of the filling out of the pot into the pie dish on top of the bottom layer of crust and smooth with a spoon to make sure the surface is level. Add the top layer of pie crust and pinch closed around the edges then you can crimp them with your fingers or a fork.

8. Cut 4 or five slits (about 2 inches long) from the center toward the edge in the top with a sharp knife to vent.

9. Beat egg in a small bowl then brush a thin layer over the top crust.

10. Bake at 400 degrees 40-50 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

11. When you remove the pie from the oven, be sure to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To make ahead and freeze just stop before the egg wash, wrap in aluminum foil and then plastic wrap and freeze immediately. When ready to serve, unwrap both the plastic wrap and foil, brush with egg wash if desired and place in the oven at 375 for 2- 2 ½ hours- until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. 

Lindsay Williamson is a mother to two beautiful boys, keeper of bees and backyard chickens, baker and fermentation enthusiast. She is the co-owner of Farmhouse BBQ–a BBQ pop up and catering company that specializes in 100% oak smoked, grass-fed brisket. She is also the homesteading instructor at Haywood Community College in Clyde NC. You can contact her via email at lindzwilliamson@gmail.com. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Rumtopf Crock with Organic Fruit for Christmas Food Gifts and Desserts

Rumtopf

My favorite part of living two years in Germany was learning local customs and traditional foods from German friends. The crock I brought home those decades ago is called a “rumtopf.” This rumtopf helps me celebrate memories of Germany every summer as I use the organic fruit we grow to create rumtopf for Christmas food gifts and desserts.

“Rumtopf” refers not only to the crock but to its contents. Rumtopf is a fermented blend of fruit, sugar and rum. It is traditionally made with fully-ripened fruit of the season, when fruit is its most flavorful. Each fruit is layered into the rumtopf as it comes into season. The specific fruits may vary each year on our homestead, but every year brings delicious results.

Rumtopf Recipe

The basic recipe for rumtopf requires weighing the amount of washed fruit intended for the rumtopf and mixing the fruit with ½ its weight in sugar. The sugary fruit is then placed in the rumtopf and covered with rum. A small saucer keeps the fruit submerged and the rumtopf lid sits tightly on its crock. When the next fruit becomes ripe, it is mixed with sugar, placed on top of the previous fruit and again covered with rum.

My German friends certainly didn’t use a recipe —they just tossed each seasonal fruit with “plenty” of sugar. Non-organic fruit contains so many chemicals that I treasure our organic fruit and use organic sugar to complement it. Because this rumtopf is destined for Christmas food gifts and desserts, I want it to be the best!

Rumtopf crocks can be bought online, but are expensive. Consider using a glazed cookie jar with a well-fitted lid. Canning jars can be used and decorated as an attractive Christmas food gift idea.

If you aren’t growing your own fruit, attempt to buy organic fruit when you can. The Environmental Working Group lists many fruits, like apples, that have more than 47 pesticide residues. Those on their “Dirty Dozen” list have included strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, cherries and pears. If you can’t find organic fruit at the store, get to know producers at your local Farmers’ Market to find out how their fruit is grown. Reward those who don’t use pesticides with your reliable patronage.

How to Store and Eat Rumtopf

Creating and storing rumtopf. The making of rumtopf usually begins as strawberries become ripe and continues through the last fruit of the season in late summer or early autumn. This allows about three months for the last fruit to ferment with rum in the rumtopf. The rumtopf can be kept wherever convenient—the kitchen countertop or a closet. When kept covered with rum, the fruit will last indefinitely—but lasting “indefinitely” is certainly not the German tradition. Christmas season is the time for enjoying your rumtopf!

The organic fruit in this year’s rumtopf crock. Although we didn’t have a good strawberry harvest last June, the rumtopf got priority for this beautiful fruit. Strawberries were followed by harvests of summer peaches and blackberries, then autumn’s pears and apples.

How to eat rumtopf. When the holidays are nearing, it’s time to sample the rumtopf. Before tasting, mix the layers of fruit together. Their colors will have darkened and the fruit softened, but the mixture is delicious rumtopf.

Ice cream-rumtopf

Enjoy your rumtopf over ice cream, yogurt, cake or waffles. It’s fun to make a rumtopf smoothie or milkshake. My German friend, Trudy, loved mixing it half-and-half with champagne, but others just drink it straight. Mostly, it’s fun to share with company or as a Christmas food gift. Your rumtopf has been seven months in the making, so celebrate your summer’s harvest and enjoy!

Mary Lou Shaw, a retired physician who emphasized preventive medicine, is now homesteading with her husband in Ohio. Besides growing their own food, the pair help preserve genetics and knowledge needed by others to foster rare breeds. They have a large garden and orchard, Dorking chickens, Narragansett turkeys, Dutch Belted cows and bees. But Mary Lou's book, Growing Local Food, through Carlisle Press at 800-852-4482. Read all of Mary Lou’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Warm Up with Crunchy Homemade Granola and Creamy Porridge

My husband enjoys the fresh homemade granola that I’ve been making regularly for several years. Normally, I make granola with honey, although I’ve tried agave, too. Recently, while experimenting with sweetener alternatives, I came up with a brown sugar and molasses syrup. This combination is a much richer flavor than straight honey or agave.

We eat very little sugar. The only thing I use white sugar for is making yummy kombucha and brown sugar is usually reserved for our delightful breakfast porridge. I make our granola plain without adding any fruits or nuts in the cooking process. This allows us to customize our own breakfasts at the table to what each of us feels like adding.

IMG_4749

Economical Homemade Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 cup brown sugar
• 3/4 cup water
• 1/2 cup molasses
• 2 lbs. rolled oats

Directions:

Preheat oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

2. Continue to boil for one minute.

3. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring occasionally for five minutes. Syrup is supposed to be thin.

4. Pour rolled oats into large oven-proof bowl. Using a large metal spoon in each hand, fluff the oats.

5. Pour warm brown sugar syrup around on the oats. Fluff again with the two metal spoons.

6. Place in oven. Bake 60 minutes, fluffing every 20 minutes or so. The general color of the oats will darken slightly. At this point, the granola is finished. If you like your granola darker or crispier, bake another 20 minutes.

When granola is the color you like, set on counter to cool, fluffing periodically. When completely cool, pour into airtight container, preferably glass. Enjoy!

Options: Add any of the following during or after cooking or at the table: Raisins, Dried Currants, Nuts, Dried Fruit or coconut.

Oat Porridge

When you don’t feel like the crunch of granola, try making creamy velvety Oat Porridge. Its buttery rich flavor will soothe your morning and start your day off right. Granola and Porridge are a perfect treat to any breakfast table any time of year.

When I make Breakfast Oat Porridge, I like to add homemade crème fraîche for that unique creamy texture and taste. The secret to making a delicious breakfast porridge is to cook the oats in milk instead of water.

Porridge can be made for a light relaxing meal during the day or for a steadfast morning breakfast. It’s versatile and can be augmented with an assortment of ingredients. There are no rules in making delicious porridge. What you add to your bowl can be savory or sweet but always to your liking. Porridge is an easy dish for wherever you are and whatever you are doing, at home, traveling, camping, cooking with kids. Porridge is an ideal comfort food for anytime.

IMG_4751

Homemade Oat Porridge Recipe

Ingredients:

• 3 cup milk
• 2 cups oats

Directions:

1. Hold milk and oats at a boil for 3-5 minutes. Cover.

2. Turn off heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

3. Add currants, slivered almonds, slivered coconut or anything else that suits you.

4. Stir in 1/2 cups crème fraîche and 1 Tablespoon Agave. Enjoy!

IMG_4747

Homemade Crème Fraîche Recipe

Directions:

1. Pour 1/4 cup buttermilk into a pint canning jar, or similar glass container.

2. Add heavy cream to almost fill the jar leaving an inch of space at the top.

3. Cover the jar with a small piece of cloth and screw on just the ring of the canning jar. If you are using a regular jar you can put a rubber band on the top to hold the small piece of cloth on the jar.

4. Place in warm area overnight. I usually put the jar in the oven with no heat but just the light on. The heat from the oven light is just the right amount for the Crème Fraîche culture to ferment into a yummy creamy addition to the porridge.

5. The next morning remove the cloth top and gently stir the jar of thickened cream.

6. Put the full metal top and jar ring on the jar and store in refrigerator for at least six hours. Crème Fraîche can be used in substitution for sour cream or yogurt in any recipe. It’s a delightful spread for morning toast or crackers. The fermentation helps with digestion and adds an amazing depth of flavor.

Mary Ann Reese is a certified mentor in designing, building, and operating food bank farms. She has also been certified to teach cooking classes to low-income families. As an organic grower, Mary has owned a mini-farm, greenhouse, chickens, ducks, and geese raised from eggs in an incubator and is happy to share years of wiser living advice with her readers. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Kraut, Kale and Vitamin K

Kale and Kraut Salad_Ferment

Winter salads require a different approach than the light, buttery spring greens, or the fresh sweetness of summer tomato salads — we want green and fresh, yet hardy and heavy. I find that a marinated kale salad adds that fresh green that we all crave so desperately and yet stands up to the rich warm casseroles and stews that we are eating. In this recipe I use kraut to soften and marinate the kale adding both flavor and probiotics. What I didn’t realize is that this salad is also rich in Vitamin K.

Why Vitamin K?

This post didn’t set about to be all about K, I simply wanted to share my family’s favorite kale salad. Then it occurred to me that both of the ingredients start with K and are high in Vitamin K. Vitamin K gets a lot of attention in a singular sort of way but it is actually a group of chemically related fat-soluble compounds that includes vitamins K1, K2, and K3 (which we won’t discuss, as it is a synthetic compound). Despite the belief that the benefits of these compounds are the same, they are different and play different roles in our body.

Vitamin K1 is all about liver health and maintaining healthy blood clotting; in fact, the origin of K comes from the German word koagulation. Vitamin K2’s roll goes far beyond simple blood clotting and is believed to play a part in preventing heart disease, ensuring healthy skin, building and maintaining strong bones, and supporting both brain function and growth.

Interestingly, vitamin K1 is the main source of the K we eat and is found in plants. Vitamin K2 is found in animal foods from egg yolks or butter, to chicken liver and ferments, yup you read that right: fermentation brings Vitamin K2 to the table. Natto (fermented soy beans) is quite high in this nutrient and fermented vegetables also add substantial amounts of K1 to your diet. So our little salad has a bit of both.

Kraut and Kale Salad

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

• 1 bunch kale, Russian red if possible
• pinch of salt (about ¼ teaspoon)
• ½ cup Ruby Red Kraut, or any beet kraut
• ½ small red onion, finely sliced
• 2 to 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar*
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ½ cup fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, or substitute fruit juice-sweetened dried cherries

*Note on balsamic: I prefer the long-aged, thick, syrupy type balsamic as it coats the kale and has mellow sour notes. If using regular balsamic use a little less.

Directions:

1. Rinse the kale and cut into thin ribbons.

2. Place in a bowl and sprinkle in the salt.

3. Massage this salt into the kale until it is distributed throughout and the kale is slightly wilted.

4. Add the sauerkraut and mix thoroughly. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile slice the red onion finely.

5. Add the onion along with remaining ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly.

6. Serve immediately, or if you have time, allow it to sit for a half hour to allow the flavors to continue to marinate. Store any leftovers in the fridge and it will still be tasty the next day.

Kirsten K. Shockey is a post-modern homesteader who lives in the mountains of Southern Oregon. She writes about sauerkraut and life—but not necessarily in that order. She’s written a complete book of Fermented Vegetables and maintains the website FermentWorks. Read all of Kirsten's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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