Friday, October 29, 2010

how super helpful is this?

Embarrassingly enough, I am the proud own of TWO sewing machines and one serger. Why is it embarrassing? I'm not a sewer. I suffer from a huge ego as it pertains to mechanical and technical skills, but there is seriously no evidence that this is my strong point. At all. I'm a cook. Never to be a chef, because I do not possess ingenuity, but I can appreciate it in others and I'm willing to learn new tricks.  So I plan to order the pattern and some material.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Nesting is in full swing (in my head, mainly) and I would really like to make use of my cloth diapers. The two things that hold me back are: convenience and price. I have tons of pre-folds, mainly for an older baby/early toddler, plenty of homemade fitted diapers handed down by a great gal I know, a few pocket style covers, and 2 all-in-one style diapers. What I lack are newborn diapers and enough covers for all sizes.

I am currently searching for a good cloth diaper detergent recipe, because most soaps can leave behind irritating residue and can cause build up that discolors the diapers. Also, some laundry soaps are just too harsh and plain wear out you diapers.

Tipnut has some really great everyday laundry soap recipes that I have been using (and love).  I did find that some of the cooked soaps, needed to be cooked a bit longer than indicated (until there was an emulsion of fine bubbles in the pot).  All the ones I've tried have been low sudsing and produced very clean clothes.  Most can be made for 5¢-12¢ a load.

Anything else?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reason #19: Why We Askew Industrially Extruded Breakfast Cereal.

Amazing and gross all at the same time.

Our oldest N. is a budding scientist and has had a stellar run of helpfulness and good behavior as of late.  So we thought we would reward him with a little happy book of science experiments and a promise of Science Fridays around the Motherworks-Flavius household.  The above experiment in all it's metallic glory is in the book.  Check it out here (Scribd) and here (Amazon).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Can you imagine . . .

making this. . ?

traditional cheddar by Suzanne McMinn of Chickens in the Road

Just the thought of it sends my heart into a thrill.  She writes for the blog at the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. and she is making one new hard cheese a month from the book, Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll.  

Sadly for me, this book is in a box. . . an unlabeled box.   Hmmm. . .  I may have to do something about that.  I thought I would tell you a sordid little story about a woman, a baby, and some chevre.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sally Fallon Wrecked My Kitchen. . .

. . . or How One Pregnant Woman, Left With Only One Cookbook in the World, Has Been Seized By Nourishing Traditions Fever. . .
the experiments

My counters are wrecked.  My fridge is bursting.  My freezer is dangerous to open.  My pantry is full of mysterious jars of foreign grains and legumes with names like Adzuki or Cranberry.  What has happened to me?

Well, first we decided to sell our house to make the big trip up yonder so that Mr. Flavius can continue his education.  Second, we decided that the best way to do that is to pack away any unnecessary items and de-clutter everywhere possible.  For a month and a half the Motherworks-Flavius joint was The Most Extreme De-clutterers: Home Edition.  We might have warranted our own show.  At one point, I began texting Mr. Flavius from underneath an enormous pile of girl-garbage because I could no longer muster the energy to raise my voice to call down the stairs.  Heaven help me, it was tiresome work.

But here we are many moons past that tumultuous time and here we sit with a perfectly staged home (with six lovely, but wild children in it day-to-day, I might add) and we have not shown the house once.  My dear Mr. Flavius and the Realtor say, "it's the market."  Maybe.  I think we've entered the Divine Silence.  At any rate, we'll keep praying, cause that's what we can do.

All this means, that my garden plots were plowed under and allowed to grow. . . grass [shudder].  Do you know how hard it is to clear bermuda?  I just about died of sunstroke getting it done and now I blithely turn a blind eye to the yard and say, ''pretty grass" whenever I accidentally look that way, so as not to indulge the bile that is want to rise to the surface when I think about all those impossible stylons weaving their way through MY SOIL that I so lovingly and painfully suffered over to cultivate.

Among the many boxes stowed away in anticipation of the move, that has not come, are all my cookbooks;    all except one:  Nourishing Traditions.  Mr. Flavius gave me this gift for Mother's Day.  I opened it once, saw the recipe for Brain Omelet and promptly shut the book.  Never to opened again, not until the great book austerity project of 2010 began, that is.

It really is an innocuous looking book with its soothing azure tones and golden hues.  Inside is a totally different matter all together.  Sally Fallon has packed this book with tons of information, helpful hints, healthful recipes, and a mind blowing bibliography.  As far as the diet is concerned it as if they took the best parts of Atkins, Macrobiotics, Raw Food, and Whole Foods diets and mashed them up in a fantastic plan for wellness.

Since we started this new way of looking at our food, I have: started eating meat again, made beef and chicken stock, tried liver (and lived.  Actually,  I'll try to make it again), ate tempeh, made Quark, made, whole milk ricotta, made whole milk buttermilk, purchased and am cultivating Kefir grains, started a Kombucha colony, made two different types of pineapple vinegar, fermented brown rice milk, made sweet cream butter, cultured cream, have used whey everyday, began sourdough starter, started ginger beer bug, I am currently fermenting orangina, and I started a Raw Milk Co-op for my area.

This has been a lot of fun, a bit tiring, but a lot of fun.  The kids are responding well to the changes in the menu.  I'm trying to work out fasting days and regular days.  I can already feel St. Philip's Fast marching hard upon us despite it only being the middle of October and it's still a little more than a month away.  Every night brings round the new chores: tend the kefir, feed the sourdough, add more ginger and sugar to the bug, and soak grains for the next morning's breakfast.

I've purchased starter for mozzarella and I plan to make that just as soon as I make another run for milk.  My counters are totally cluttered with experiments.  The dog is happily muching on marrow bones leftover from stock making.  D. my non-eater loves the new natural peanut butter I purchased.  Great!  They all loved the gingerbread recipe.  Fantastic!  They rave over the bread and the fresh butter.  Wonderful.  Perhaps, best of all they've quit asking for fast food, sodas, and junk in general.  Now that does not mean they wouldn't go wild for m&ms or a Happy Meal.  What it means is that it is not on their radar at the moment.  This makes me pretty proud.  I have felt empowered to explain how sugar is not really a food, that their school serves up kid pleasing junk that will never fill them up or make them healthy, and to say, "eat an apple," when asked for dessert and they are listening.  All-in-all, this has been a great start.  I hope to share more with you as time goes on.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Have You Been Up To?

Well, I have been a busy bee!  Job responsibilities have called the illustrious Mr. Flavius away from home this week- so it is just me and the brood.  I thought we would take advantage of his absence to dive whole hog into Sally Fallon's fascinating cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.  Little did I know I would be transported away on cultured dairy dreams and whole food fantasies.

This weekend we experimented with making our own quark, crème fraiche, chicken stock, and I broke down and bought raw milk.  Huzzy's only been gone two days and I'm starting a milk co-op!  What the heck, Svetlana!  This isn't your speed!  What's come over you?

Good question.  5 out of 6 Motherworks-Flavius progeny agree: they love spinach and brown rice.  E. has an ear infection and couldn't be reached for comment.  Heretofore, brown rice has been known to start riots in this home.  Children grow weepy at the very mention of a future meal that portends the hulled seed of Oryza sativa.  Bellies have gone unfilled, unsated, and unhappy up the stairs to face the long night after supper with the perfidious substance Mother dared call rice.  So how did I do it you say?  Butter.  Seriously.  Butter.  I can hardly believe it myself.  Also one other thing.  To my 1½ cups of Lundsberg short grain brown rice, I added ¼ cup of Jasmine basmati.  This turns out to be the stroke of genius.

Once upon a time when little men wore wide brimmed hats, that shone the rays of the sun that were reflected in more-than-oriental splendour, and painstakingly harvest their families crop of rice.  They had to thresh the rice to free it from the stalk of grass that held it captive, by means of rake, basket, and wind.  As it just so happens, not all of those lovely vitamin rich husks remained on the grain and so it was not uncommon for a small percentage of a traditional rice farmers diet to consist of brown rice with a much smaller percentage of white rice therein.  Or at least, so sayeth Macrobiotic guru, George Ohsawa, anyway.  So I tried it.  And guess what?  Can you say perfect compromise?  I thought you could.  I cooked it the same way I always do, but I made certain to add a bit o' butter and loving spoon of sea salt to the mix before I popped it in the oven!

Wait, have you not heard about letting your oven cook that tricky rice?  It's so foolproof Cook's Illustrated made that the name:  Foolproof Oven Baked Brown Rice.

Here is the Motherworks variation  (the basmati lends beautiful flavor, perfume, and texture to this otherwise dicey side dish):

The Motherworks Conversion

1¼ cups  Lundberg's organic short brown rice
¼ cup  basmati rice
2½ cups  boiling water or broth
½ teaspoon  fine sea salt
2-3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place everything in a lidded casserole dish or a pyrex dish with two layers of foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork and watch your kids eat it and ask for seconds.

I am currently investigating how to make Smaltz.  I let you know what I find out.  In the meantime, what have you been up to?