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

Jelly From A 'Peel'

Jelly with a 'peel'
Most traditional jellies are made with whole berry or fruit...but, not this one!

I learned a long time ago, from my Momma, about making everything go a little further. In the Fall, we would gather apples for applebutter making. We would peel the apples and the peel would be for making jelly.

Now when we harvest our fruit, mostly apples, we store away until needed. Sometimes depending on the apple they can last up into late winter. We sort through our fruit and see what needs to be used up before it ruins. The fruit can be peeled; the fruit put aside to make pies, sauce, cakes or whatever and the peel used for jelly! If you don't have time to process the peel at this time you can simply put it in a freezer bag or container and freeze for later use.

This can also be done with pears, peaches and kiwi...almost any fruit.

NOTE: Make sure you know the source of the fruit. Do NOT use fruit that has been treated with chemicals or have the peel waxed (unless beeswax is used).

Jelly with a 'peel'

Peeling the Fruit

When peeling the fruit, put the peels in water that has about 1/4 cup lemon juice added to it. It keeps it from turning brown and also draws out the color in the peels. Make sure to use the peel only and not too much of the apple flesh...the jelly will be cloudy if too much of the apple is used. When you are finished with the peel; you can drain and freeze for later use or continue on to making the infusion for your jelly.

Jelly with a 'peel'

Processing your Fruit Peel

Transfer the peels to a stainless steel pot. You can keep the lemon liquid that you had your peels soaking in and add more water so that you have at least 5 cups water in your peels.

Jelly with a 'peel'

Simmering and Straining your Fruit Peel

Turn your heat to high and bring to a boil. When the liquid reaches a boil turn down to medium high. You can simmer your peels for about 45 minutes to an hour...watch your liquid. If too much liquid evaporates you may need to add more water...you want to end up with at least 3 cups of the finished infusion.

NOTE: During this process you can ADD spices or other flavors to the infusion (such as dried Spice bush berries, lemon zest, etc.).

I love using Rome Beauty or Stayman Winesap peels for my jellies because the infusion turns pink/red.

When the infusion has simmered for at least an hour you can strain the liquid.

Jelly with a 'peel'
Use cheesecloth, flour sack material or other for straining the liquid. The material can be placed in a colander or sieve and that placed on a large bowl or pot. You should have 3 cups of infusion. This can be used now for making jelly or cooled and refrigerated/frozen for later use.

Making your Jelly from the Peel Infusion:

Fruit Peel Jelly

3 cups 'Peel' Infusion
3 cups sugar
1 pkg powdered pectin

Note: I do add pectin to this jelly because I like a firm jelly.

Pour 3 cups 'peel' infusion into a stainless steel pot and add 1 pkg. powdered pectin and stir. Continue as making regular jelly. Put on High heat and bring to a full boil. Add 3 cups sugar and stir. Bring to a full rolling boil. Let boil 1 minute and remove from heat.

Continue to ladle jelly into prepared jars and add lids (make sure to wipe rims of jars).

These jellies can be used on bread, as a glaze or 'frosting' on simple cakes...either way you choose...Enjoy!


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How To Make Bread in a Can

bread baked in a can 

Food storage is more than putting some extra supplies away in the cupboard. It pays homage to our heritage and traditions. For instance, did you know that brown breads are as old as our country is? That’s right!

According to American Food Roots, “At the time of the American Revolution, wheat flour was a luxury. Cornmeal and rye flour were more common. So the three grains were combined in what were called “thirded” breads. A bread born of necessity 300 years ago easily could have been invented this morning by a nutritionist. It’s high in fiber and low in calories — like a giant bran muffin without all the sugar. Some recipes use brown sugar, but the more traditional ones rely on molasses for s

Boston brown bread ingredients include whole wheat flour, cornmeal, rye flour, buttermilk and molasses.

Since few early American homes had ovens, bakers poured the bread dough — leavened with baking soda – into a cylindrical fireproof container and steamed it over an open fire. They’d been taught by Native Americans, who also showed them how to use corn as a grain for bread. Cornmeal often was called ‘indian.’

In her directions for making brown bread in ‘American Frugal Housewife’ (1828), Lydia Maria Child wrote: ‘Put the Indian in your bread pan, sprinkle a little salt among it, and wet it thoroughly with scalding water. … Be sure and have hot water enough; for Indian absorbs a great deal of water.’

In later years, thrifty New Englanders used empty coffee cans as cooking vessels. Today’s brown bread can be steamed in the oven or on the stove top.” 

A Recipe Cloaked in History

This tradition of coffee can bread making was revitalized during the Great Depression when everything was used – and that included coffee cans. This baking strategy was a way to make multiple loaves of bread when one was short on space. Raisins and nuts were added to the recipes for added sweetness when sugar was hard to come by.

A note of caution: Ensure that the can you use does not have the plastic BPA coating inside of the can as this can lead to plastics and chemicals leaching into your bread loaf. You can use a #10 can or even large Mason jars to make endless loaves of bread.

Brown Bread Baked in a Can

This recipe celebrates our heritage and our history of our hardships this country has endured.

(Makes 4 cans)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons soft butter for preparing cans for baking
1 cup fine white cornmeal
2 1/4 cups rye flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 3/4 cups blackstrap molasses
5 eggs 
1 cup raisins (optional)
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter your cans using a pastry brush.

2. In a large bowl, add dry ingredients and whisk lightly to combine.

3. In another bowl, add all the wet ingredients, whisking to combine.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just incorporated. The consistency of the dough should be similar to thick pancake batter.

5. Pour mixture into prepared cans until they are about 3/4 of the way full.

6. Place filled cans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Then, turn the pan and rotate to bake for another 20 minutes.

7. Test the bread by inserting a long wooden skewer down the center of the bread; it should come out clean. If not, bake 5 to 10 minutes more.

8. Remove cans from the oven; allow to cool, 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the breads; slide the loaves from the cans. Cool completely.

This is a great way to bake crustless bread for the picky eaters or given as gifts to friends and family. Try it today!


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My Favorite Food Books: Foraging, Cooking, and Preserving

For an avid gardener, good books on keeping and using the harvest are a necessity. Even if you don't grow your own food, I'm confident you'll appreciate these books that top my list.

favorite food books

Look at all the pages I've marked! Photo by Carole Coates

Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson

The quest which led Watson to this book was her desire to slow global warming, cook from scratch, and eat nutritiously and organically—all on a food stamp budget. In other words, to make the world a better place one plate at a time. As she says, the head-on collision of the philosophy and the politics of food was her wake-up call. She started by choosing menus and groceries based on what’s in season. Planning meals around inexpensive food staples such as dried beans and grains further achieved her goals.

More than a cookbook, this is the tale of a journey to deeper understanding and better living. It also offers a year’s worth of menus by season, along with the cost of each, making it an excellent guide for folks new to making their own way in the world—or for anyone who wants to eat well for less.

For me, this book was worth the purchase price for one very flexible recipe alone: noodles in spicy peanut sauce with seasonal vegetables (page 175). The genius of this recipe is that you can prepare it so many ways, changing out spring’s sugar snaps for fall’s broccoli, for instance. And it takes less than twenty minutes’ preparation time from start to finish. Can’t beat that.

What I love: The author’s done all the work for us, running a real-life test of thrift. (The long but appropriately descriptive subtitle of her book is Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet All on $5 a Day or Less.) Combining budget, nutrition, simple preparation, and satisfaction while being brutally honest about the results, she succeeded spectacularly.

Farmstead Chef by John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist

The premise of this book is eating what you grow at home, so the authors’ recipes are built around their own harvests.

This book, too, is more than a cookbook. Scattered throughout are thought-provoking food essays and inspiring stories. But my favorite part is the recipes, almost (not quite) exclusively vegetarian and vegan and as varied as French onion soup, peanut butter pumpkin bread, vegetable tempura, rhubarb fizz, freezer pickles, and cocoa muffins. Yum!

What I love: The recipes use ingredients you likely have on hand, the instructions are simple and direct, and most are quick to prepare. Oh, and the beet burgers. How much do I love them? After trying them the year before, I grew an especially large crop of beets last summer just so I could make and freeze enough burgers to enjoy quick and scrumptious meals throughout the year.

Backyard Foraging by Ellen Zachos

I love the idea of using my wits to get free food. In real life, it’s always been a bit of a challenge. Euell Gibbons’ books always left me a little unsure and wary. Not so with this volume.

Zachos’s book is chock full of color photographs for easy identification of 65 plants common to many yards, including greens, seeds, tubers, and fruit. Foraging doesn’t provide the sheer volume of food you can grow in the garden, but it’s free and easy and gets you out of doors. And as Zachos points out, when it’s in your own back yard you don’t have to wonder what it is or worry about permission.

For each of the plants the author discusses, she includes a profile and a discussion of which parts are edible, how to harvest, and the best way to eat it. She also offers a few preservation techniques and recipes. A few of the edibles she highlights are mulberry, spruce, canna, dahlia, bee balm, kousa dogwood. See, you really can forage in your own back yard. The addition of easy-to-identify mushrooms is a nice bonus.

What I love: the book’s organization. By grouping greens with other greens and flowers with other flowers, it becomes a more useful guide in the moment. I also like that she discusses ways to preserve foraging finds for good eating later in the year.

The Put ’Em Up series by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Vinton has written a three-part series, Put ’em Up!, Put ’em Up Fruit!, and the Put ’em Up! Preserving Answer Book. I have ’em all! They are comprehensive food preserving guides that also include information on drying and freezing but are primarily about home canning. The author provides a solid discussion of safe canning procedures. It’s an excellent reference when I need a refresher—which is every year at harvest time.

What sets this series apart from most home canning guides is that the recipes are for small batches, much more practical when making relishes and marmalades for instance, especially if your family is small.

The Put ’em Up! Preserving Answer Book is full of right-now solutions to preserving emergencies. With more than 200 pages of answers to preserving questions, it’s quite thorough. Vinton defines chiffonade, explains why blanching matters, covers the basic steps of pressure canning, clarifies common fermenting questions. Simply put, it’s an excellent go-to guide for all your preserving questions and quandaries. It would make an excellent gift for anyone who’s into preserving foods—or who has dreams of becoming a food preservation maven.

What I love: In addition to the author’s smart, slightly sassy style, I appreciate the upscale take on home preserving: lemon curd, ginger-carrot slaw, candied citrus rind, grapefruit in lavender syrup, Asian pickled radishes. Nothing boring here! Such simple-to-make but fancy-sounding dishes are sure to add pizzazz to your next dinner party or potluck. They make unique and tasty gifts, too.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts hereYou can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


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.

Harnessing the Sun with a Solar Oven to Make Blue Hopi Cornbread

Cooking with a solar oven

It’s easy to miss the diminutive town of Gila (pronounced Hee-lah). With a population of around 300, you won’t find much in the way of city life, but you will be graced with eclectic groups of folks growing hearty food along the banks of the Gila River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the region. Those in the area who aren’t farmers are artists, ranchers, retirees, California transplants or passer-throughs looking to explore the 3.3 million acres of wilderness surrounding the high desert.

Brittney and I stayed for three weeks in March with Eric, who farms around 20 acres near the river where he grows just about everything—lettuce and kale to fruit such as strawberries and blackberries—in greenhouses and nearby fields. He also has goats, chickens and few bee hives. He sells, mostly, to the thriving farmer's market in nearby Silver City, a Continental Divide Trail town that provided the luxuries of modernity after extended stays on the farm.

On our travels this year, we're focusing on learning permaculture and biodynamics, something Eric was well-versed in. His pesticide-free greens, which were thriving when we arrived, accompanied many of our meals—most of which were cooked by our host who had a knack for quality Indian fare.

When we weren’t prepping and planting in the greenhouses or discussing the different philosophies of life, Eric schooled us on the benefits of living off-grid. His home and the buildings surrounding it are adobe, sourced with materials right from his land, with a composting toilet and well water rounding everything out. Since New Mexico receives nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, Eric has furthered his self-sustainability by harnessing the sun with a solar oven to supplement using his gas stove.

How it Works

The beauty of a solar oven is that it bakes, steams and boils with nothing more than an insulated box surrounded by reflective material. The sun is concentrated into the container, where a pot sits, to heat up the interior that’s encased with a glass door. Cast iron, glass or stoneware are best to use as they contain no plastics that will melt.

Solar oven at work

The only learning curve, we found, was how to position the oven properly. It should be focused directly at the sun and tilted at the correct angle (most have stands near the base with different levels). There’s no exact science to this, other than a bit of trial and error.

The Benefits of a Solar Oven

A solar oven is a gift that keeps on giving because after an initial start-up cost (you can purchase one or construct your own) you’ll use no fuel. That means more money in your pocket and you’re cooking with a completely natural method. Eric’s oven easily reached 350 degrees, plenty for most baking, and by positioning it just right, the temperatures reached close to 400 degrees.

One of the biggest pluses to this method is it’s relatively hands-off. We’d toss in some quinoa in the mid-morning and let is sit while we tended to the greenhouses. On a break, we’d only have to re-position it to better receive solar energy, then back to work with no worries of a fire or burning the food due to its slow-cooking nature. It’s been said that sun-cooked foods taste better and are more tender, partly because of these longer cook times. This allows the complex carbohydrates to break down into simple sugars—that means those subtle flavors in your food really pop.

The Recipe

Finished blue Hopi cornbread

Brittney and Eric teamed up to create a wonderful cornbread using blue Hopi corn. Eric ground the corn into a nice meal while Brittney procured the rest of the ingredients and did all of the leg work—I tackled the tough task of a bystander and a taste-tester.

Cornmeal Bread

Ingredients

1½ cup of corn meal
½ cup of flour
1¼ cup of plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

1. Mix yogurt and an egg together before combining with the dry ingredients.

2. Then, stir all contents into a bowl.

3. Preheat a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of butter for around 7 minutes.

4. Cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or closer to an hour at 350 degrees.

Photos by Jonathan Olivier

Jonathan Olivier is traveling throughout 2018 with his partner, Brittney, with the goal of learning everything they can about farming. He is a freelance journalist, having covered the environment and outdoors for OutsideBackpackerREILouisiana Sportsman, and a host of other publications. In 2016, he published his debut novel, Between the Levees. Follow Jonathan on his website and Instagram.


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.

Uncommon Choices in Berries

Would you like to add a variety of new flavors to your berry patch? With so many amazing options available, that aren’t your typical berry, why not add a few new varieties? Let’s add some well-deserved change to those jams, jellies, pies, cobblers, and fruit salads. Weather derived from hybrid combinations or simply long forgotten species the choices appear almost endless.

Dewberry

A gorgeous Dewberry plant

Dewberry Photo by Bob Mullica

These sweet delicious berries can be eaten raw or baked into cobblers and pies or made into amazing jams and jellies. A low growing perennial armed with an abundant number of juicy berries, similar in taste to blackberries, yet larger in size and milder in flavor. They grow upon a vine rather than a bush preferring a full sun location in zones 6-9.

Honeyberry

A zesty little berry that will simply melt in your mouth. They can be eaten fresh from the bush or substituted in a favorite blueberry recipe. Extremely hardy by nature enduring temperatures to -40F. Two different varieties are required for proper pollination. Honeyberries prefer partial to full sun located in zones 2-9.

Tayberry

A unique delightfully flavored berry deriving from loganberries and blackberries. The fruit is sweet, large, and amazingly aromatic. Want to add an amazing twist on your homemade wine? This is the berry for you! Tayberries also make wonderful jams, jellies, and pies. Harvest time falls between July and mid-August, zones 5-8.

Loganberries

Loganberry photo by Andrew Fogg

Loganberry Photo by Andrew Fogg

This tasty hybrid is a cross between blackberries and red raspberries. Providing long, tasty, dark red fruit; in both thorned and thornless varieties. They are ready for picking throughout mid to late summer, ideal for zones 6-10.

Gooseberry

Fairly easy to raise in partial shade to full sun, zones 3-7. They come in green, white, and red varieties. This very sweet berry ripens in late spring to early summer, making it a perfect addition to any berry patch. Gooseberries have old world, unmatched flavor for producing homemade pies and preserves.

Jostaberry

A Jostaberry is a unique hybrid of a gooseberry and a current. A great thornless plant that thrives in full sun to partial shade, zones 2-8. Two or more bushes will be needed for adequate pollination. This dark colored berry is three times the size of a standard currant. Each plant can easily produce 10-15 lbs. of fruit.  

Boysenberry

Boysenberry photo by Niall Cook

 Boysenberry Photo by Niall Cook

Imagine the delicate taste of a longberry, blackberry, and raspberry all infused together in one delightful creation. Easily trained to vine up trellises, arbors, and fencing. This gorgeous vine is sure to capture the eyes of many. It is said to grow in zones 6-9 however, they are not suitable where temps fall below 5 degrees F, without providing extreme winter protection.

Ligonberry

The snowier the winter the better this bush will produce. Related to both blueberries and cranberries, this sweet little treat is line no other. They even produce two crops per year, the first being harvested in July-August and the second September-October time frame. Varieties are available for zones 2-8. A wide range of possibilities in baking.

Gojiberry

I’ve been hearing a lot about the Gojiberry over the past few years, about its amazing nutritional properties. The Gojiberry grows from a tree ranging from 10-12 feet tall. The sweet-tart berries are harvestable in late summer in zones 3-10. These berries add a unique flavor in juices, teas, smoothies, or even muffins. You will want to plant the tree in a sunny to partially sunny area for it to thrive.

KiwiBerry

Kiwiberry photo by Jeannette Spaghetti

Kiwiberries Photo by Jeannette Spaghetti

This grape sized fuzzless berry is amongst my favorite. Do you love kiwis but hate the hassle of skinning them? This perfect little berry can be eaten on the go with no problems. The flavor is sweeter, richer, and more acidic than the common kiwi. Harvested in September through early October in zones 4-8. The vines require both male and female varieties to grow but the unique jams and jellies you can produce with this berry is so worth it.

Pineberry

Do you love strawberries? This disease resistant berry grows in the same fashion. It looks like a strawberry except, it’s white with red seeds when fully ripe. It may grow and look like a strawberry but it tasty more like a pineapple! Harvested in spring through summer in zones 5-8.

With so many amazing berry choices, why do so many people stick with the common? I for one, am looking forward to adding a few of these great varieties to our farm. We have already purchased pineberries and kiwiberries to plant this spring. Are you willing to try something a little different?  


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Let Food Be Thy Medicine

delicious plate of tilapia

A plate of baked tilapia (raised in our aquaponics greenhouse) with fire roasted vegetables, including kale, as served right here at Farmstead Creamery. 

Dan Buettner, in his recent TED talk that shared lessons learned in the study of vibrant centurions, noted that longevity is 10% genetics and 90% lifestyle choices.  Second on his list after meaningful social connections was “Eat Wisely.”

Of course, we’ve all heard the message that we need to pay attention to what we eat, in tandem with leading an active lifestyle, but what does that actually mean in an everyday practice?  How can we get to that place where the Greek physician Hippocrates’s admonition of “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” has a real and profound impact on our own lives?

The answer is not as daunting or complex as it may seem.  “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” says renowned food expert and journalist Michael Pollan, which is a great guiding principle when making that key choice about what’s for dinner.  In this article, I’ll unpeel the benefits of a few awesome foods you can add to your wellness toolkit this week.  Why not try eating your way to a more vibrant you?!

Kale

Top of the list for super foods, kale is a member of the broccoli family.  It’s rich in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C—a combination that makes it even more potent than spinach for lowering blood pressure.  In some cases, consuming kale regularly has been shown to lower blood pressure as much as taking a blood pressure medication.  Add kale to your salad, soups, eggs, and stir fries.

Blueberries

Packed with the highest intensity of antioxidants, which help fight aging and certain types of cancer, blueberries can also help lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes.  The chemical that gives these berries their blue color (anthocyanin) is the source of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Blueberries are low in calories and are known to help improve memory!  Make fresh or frozen blueberries a healthy snack choice, add them to your oatmeal or granola, and mix them in your smoothies.

Green Tea

Savored since ancient times for its health benefits, green tea has not only its own antioxidants (catechin) but also promotes your body’s ability to make nitric oxide, which has been shown to increase arterial diameter by 40%, lowering blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 31%.  Macha green tea, especially, has been linked with preventing several common cancers and can even be beneficial for dental health.  Studies in Japanese society (where green tea consumption is more common), showed that drinking several cups a day offered major decreases in mortality rates from all causes.  Green tea does contain caffeine, so you can swap out your coffee at the next break when you need a warm, uplifting cup.

Fish

Two to three servings per week of fish increases the Omega3 fatty acids in the diet, which improves cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.  Most of our dietary vegetable oils are high in Omega6, which, by themselves, are harmful to heart health.  Increasing Omega3 intake in proportion against Omega6 reduces risk substantially, whether this is sourced from fish, walnuts, duck eggs, olive oil, or flax seed, for example.  Oily fish like salmon are preferred for this purpose, though generally eating more fish than red meats is a healthy choice.  Tilapia raised in a clean environment has also been shown to be hearth healthy, with its boost of magnesium, potassium, and calcium.  And no, this doesn’t mean eating more fried fish because the cooking oils bring in more of those Omega6 rates again!  So poach, bake, broil, grill, or pan-fry in olive oil your next serving of clean-raised fish.

Garlic

With an active ingredient of allicin, this aromatic Sulphur compound is released when the cloves are crushed, chopped, or chewed.  But it’s valuable for more than just its culinary characteristics.  Just two cloves a day may lower blood pressure as effectively as a prescription medicine after 24 weeks, as well as can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 10-15%.  Garlic can help stabilize blood sugar levels and aid in preventing cancer, so chop them up and add them to all sorts of dishes, including roasting them with your favorite root vegetables. 

Yogurt

When they say “go with your gut,” it’s true.  Research is continually finding connections between the health of the bacteria in our gut and our emotional and mental well-being.  But not all of the flora in your alimentary tract are friendly.  Foods rich in natural and healthy bacteria cultures, like yogurt, help to improve and maintain beneficial bacteria.  There are more microbes in your gut than cells in your body, so keeping that colony happy and healthy is no small undertaking!  Make sure your choice of yogurt is labeled as having “live” or “active” culture.  It’s high levels of calcium and vitamin D can also help to prevent osteoporosis and other bone ailments.  Have some yogurt with your blueberries for breakfast or a snack, and try plain, unsweetened yogurt in a variety of savory dishes for a fun twist.

Dark Chocolate

Yes, you read that right, chocolate (in small amounts) is actually good for you.  70% cocoa or more kicks this treat into the healthy bracket.  Rich with flavonoids (which dilate blood vessels), dark chocolate has been found to improve blood pressure and your mood.  Consuming just 30 calories a day (one small square from a classic chocolate bar) has been demonstrated after 18 weeks to be effective in lowering blood pressure and raising HDL (good) cholesterol.  More is not better, though, because of the refined sugars.  So take your daily dose of a square of dark chocolate without having to apologize to anyone!

Ready to eat your way into vibrancy?  I hope you try including these delicious and healthy foods into your grocery list, pantry, refrigerator, and regimen.  Why not?  And there’s all sorts of other foods that will help to improve health and well-being.  Go for foods with deep natural colors (beets, broccoli, oranges), strong natural aromas (cinnamon, basil, onions), and distinctive natural flavors (asparagus, cashews, watermelon).  These characteristics are often markers of chemical compounds that can have their own, distinctive health benefits to offer.

This week, let food be thy medicine of choice.  Watch for more upcoming tips on great foods for wellness and longevity.  See you down on the farm sometime.

Photo by Kara Berlage

Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453 www.northstarhomestead.com


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The Great Scape-Sourdough Boule Recipe

 Great Scape Sourdough Boule

For several years when my garden lay fallow, I let my garlic go. As a result it slowly proliferated, invading the edges of the veggie beds. Over the past couple of years, I’ve prioritized regaining control. One of the ways I’ve worked at this is to cut off the scape (the curly top that develops into the seed) before it matures and drops seeds back to the ground.

One year I fermented some of the scape. While our youngest son loved cooking with the result, I wasn’t so enamored. Last year rather than composting the abundance of scape, I researched and found a recipe for pesto. I decided to try it and ended up with a lot of scape pesto in my freezer. Because it is best after a few months of mellowing, I waited until winter to try some of my bounty.

I decided to try incorporating it into my sourdough bread. I’ve been making some version of the recipe below for over 20 years. I knew it could handle the scape. Since making that first boule a few months ago, this new version has become a weekly favorite. I heartily recommend creating pesto from your garlic scape for use this fall and winter!

My own method is simple. I harvest the scape, rinse it off, then chop it with my food processor until it resembles quinoa grains in size. I scoop the pesto into regular-sized muffin tins and place them in the freezer. When frozen solid (several hours later), I move the “muffins” into Ziploc bags and back into the freezer they go. Whenever I want to use one for either bread or a meal, I simply take it out and let it defrost.

Great Scape Sourdough Boule

Yield one loaf.

There are some oddities here as compared to most sourdough recipes. I don’t have and don’t want to purchase a kitchen scale, so my measurements are given in cups rather than grams. Also, you won’t find a lot of kneading in normal sourdough recipes. I prefer to work by feel. I like the intimacy and work of kneading so this recipe includes it. As a result, the texture of this bread is more like regular bread with less springy holes than classic sourdough.

Scape Boule Ingredients

Ingredients for the levain:

2 cups 00 flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sourdough starter

Ingredients for the bread:

1-1/2 cups 00 flour
1/3 cup (1 muffin cup) of chopped garlic scape
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 cup finely-grated cheese (optional: I’ve used parmesan, gruyere, cheddar, and gouda)

Directions

1. Creating the levain: Thoroughly combine the ingredients for the levain in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a cool, dark place for at least 8 hours. I usually make this up mid-day and leave it to work up a good bubble overnight.

Making the bread

1. Add the scape, salt, granulated garlic, cheese (if using), and about a third of the flour to the levain. Mix thoroughly.

2. Dump another third of the flour onto your board (kneading area) and spread so that it’s a large enough area to hold your dough.

3. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the floured board. Fold in the edges of your dough and begin to incorporate the flour with a quick, light kneading action.

4. This is where your sense of touch will come into play. As necessary, slowly incorporate more flour (that last third). Your kneading will become more normal and may take 10 minutes or more. The goal is a dough that is slightly tacky but no longer sticky—too sticky will result in a loaf that spreads too much and becomes flattened; too much flour will result in a dry loaf with little spring at all. Don’t stress too much—practice will help you achieve your perfect loaf. Less than perfect outcomes still result in edible artistry.

5. Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated in olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about an hour and a half).

Cooking the bread

1. Sprinkle rice flour (or cornmeal) on the bottom of a dutch oven. Gently deflate your dough and form into a ball. Pinch together the bottom as necessary. Place the ball into the center of your dutch oven and cover. Set timer for 40 minutes. I love my Lodge dutch oven because I can use it upside down. This allows for easy scoring and access to the loaf.

2. Uncover bread when timer goes off and slash the top with a sharp knife. I often make more than one variety of bread at once so I like to use different patterns. One of my favorite designs for the Scape Boule harkens to the curly tops.

3. Once the top is scored, place the covered dutch oven into a cold oven. Turn the temperature to 450 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the top of the dutch oven. Reset the timer for 15 minutes. Check bread. It should be a lovely golden brown and make a thunk noise when done. I usually cook mine for another 4 minutes at this point.

Nomilicious Great Scape Dinner

This is a wonderful stand-alone bread or equally fantastic when paired with garlic scape pesto pasta, a green salad, and mead. This bread also makes lovely croutons for your salads or soups—simply cut into 3/4-inch pieces and brown them in butter and olive oil. You may sprinkle with granulated garlic and parmesan when finished cooking. Nomilicious as toast for your breakfast egg sandwich with a side of krautchi!

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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