Sunday, December 19, 2010

Budding chemist? Scientist?...Dishwasher?

One of Oliver's most favorite activities these days is to pull a kitchen chair up to the sink and get busy playing with measuring cups and spoons, funnels, mixing bowls, strainers, ladles -- and water of course. He can do this indefinitely it seems, as long as he is provided with new tools every so often.

In the last three pictures he is helping Hugo wash limes for ginger ale.

The worst that has happened so far is some water spilled on the floor and some very wet clothes. I think it's cute how he is so focused and industrious at the sink. :)

-Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Breast cancer prevention

I'm not sure why, but breast cancer prevention has been on my mind lately. Perhaps because I am frequently reminded that there are a few key things we can do (but DON'T!) to help reduce the risk.

This excellent segment on Fresh Air yesterday prompted me to finally post about this important topic. I recommend listening in rather than reading the summary. The link is below:

A few things not mentioned in the interview, to my chagrin, are:

1) deodorant! what we put on our underarms, particularly after shaving but really any time, is not to be overlooked. Cancerous breast tissue that has been removed has been found to have high levels of aluminum, the active ingredient in virtually all commercial deodorants. Ladies, it's time to make the switch! See my recipe for healthy, effective deodorant made entirely from food-grade ingredients.

2) bras! see this enlightening article about bra wearing and breast cancer risk. I was recently shopping for a new bra and was appalled, as always, by the prevalence of underwire styles. These bras are particularly harmful because the underwire, whether metal or plastic, severely restricts lymph flow and the removal of toxins from the sensitive underarm and breast areas. The best thing is to choose a looser, less restrictive style of bra and wear it as little as possible.

3) last but not least -- birth control pills! Oh, the harm we are doing to ourselves with oral contraceptives and other medication hormones -- it makes me so sad just to think about it. As you will learn if you listen to the Fresh Air segment, breast tissue continues to grow and develop into a woman's 20s, which is often after the time that a woman first begins taking the Pill. This means that the breasts are particularly sensitive to environmental factors during this time. Furthermore, breast tissue can continue to grow and develop from the estrogenic effects of the Pill (I suspect this is why so many women experience breast growth with the Pill), which makes a woman more susceptible to abnormal breast growth, and cancer. See my posting on the Fertility Awareness Method, read The Garden of Fertility, and consider using the withdrawal method (in a committed relationship) for pregnancy prevention. I think the two methods used together cover all the bases. :)

And one more thing -- sugar, as well as alcohol, can greatly increase the growth of abnormal breast tissue. Remember, tumors and cancerous growths LOVE sugar!!!

The good news is that you can take a few easy precautions now to decrease your risk later on.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/18 cooking class report: Women's Health for the Childbearing Years

A few pictures from yesterday's class in Park Slope:

The menu included:
-fish broth (wild red snapper)
-cashew-crusted pastured chicken livers with white wine-butter reduction
-lactofermented vegetable medley
-cream-top raw milk yogurt
-raw cacao treats

Participants also enjoyed cashew-sunflower crackers, whole wheat sourdough bread, and grass-fed raw butter. Everything was pronounced delicious!

Check my downloads page for the 38-page packet from this class.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Heavenly cabbage

This has lately become one of my very favorite winter side dishes. Cabbage cooked with pastured bacon fat (or lard) and chicken broth, and served with butter, is incredibly delicious. And since pastured pork fat is super high in vitamin D it's an excellent choice for winter!

I recently saw a traditional Norwegian recipe for cabbage and mutton that called for half a head of cabbage per person! Maybe their heads of cabbage are smaller than what we have here, though honestly if the cabbage is really good you could probably eat quite a bit of it. This recipe is based on the premise that each person will eat about 1/4 head of cabbage, so make sure you get a nice-sized one.

1. Place a large pot over low heat and add several tablespoons pastured bacon fat (or lard).

2. When fat is beginning to sizzle, add the right number of well-washed (or peeled) potatoes for your family, sliced thinly in 1/4" slices. Saute potato slices in fat, adding more as needed. Season with a sprinkling of unrefined sea salt.

3. As potatoes are cooking, remove the outer leaves from a medium head of cabbage. Quarter, core, and cut in large bite-size pieces. When potatoes are beginning to brown, add the cabbage slices and stir.

4. Wash & cut up about 10 medium carrots. Add the carrots to the pot and stir. Add several more tablespoons of bacon fat or lard, as well as another sprinkling of salt.

5. Pour in about 3-4 cups of homemade chicken or pork broth; the broth should come about halfway up the vegetables. Cover tightly with a lid and allow the vegetables to simmer and steam until tender, stirring occasionally.

6. Season to taste and serve topped with raw grass-fed butter alongside pork chops, ham, or roast pork.

Bon appetit!

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back in the composting saddle again!

I am pleased to announce that thanks to our new chest freezer I am once again composting all our vegetable, fruit, and eggshell waste -- which is quite considerable! The freezer gives me the space to store everything until I can drop it off at a church garden (where the pastor has a small compost operation) on 68th St. and 3rd Ave. here in Bay Ridge.

Here is what I dropped off Monday night on my way to my food deliveries:

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The real reason that pasteurization is key to dairy industry profits

I actually had a moment recently to open my email update from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and came across this article. It puts a really interesting perspective on why legally enforced pasteurization of milk is so critical to keeping the dairy industry profitable.

The upshot is this: butterfat (cream) is where the money is, since it's this part of milk that is made into high-value-added products like cheese, ice cream, and butter. In order to take out the cream without making the milk look watery and worthless (which would be evidenced by the very thin layer of cream on top) homogenization became key (homogenization is the even distribution of fat throughout the milk). But alas, homogenized milk that is unpasteurized will go rancid very quickly. Therefore pasteurization became necessary to extend the shelf life of homogenized milk.


No wonder the USDA doesn't want Americans seeing gallons of 1/3-cream raw milk from grass-based farms, like the ones we get from our secret "illegal" sources!

Please note: I have highlighted a few important lines in bold and have added one comment in parentheses.

FDA and USDA: Cheese is Serious!

By Steve Bemis, Esq. | November 22, 2010

I've been wondering, why does one part of the USDA promote cheese consumption while another says it's an unhealthy source of too much fat? As I ponder, I assume USDA has thought about the conflict at a policy level (maybe too generous, but safer than assuming they don't think), and I imagine the decision: "Hell, promoting more cheese on pizzas means megabucks to big dairy, so go for it. Never mind the health impacts which we also warn about, since anyone eating this kind of cheese-thick food won't change their behavior anyway. Sure, foodies will jump on us for the conflict, but that noise will blow over and the megabucks will still roll in for the industry."

And, what may this focus on cheese have to do with raw milk? Is there any connection between this exuberant USDA cheese marketing and recent FDA crackdowns on artisanal cheese makers?

Cheese is made from milk; milk's fractioning, in turn, is the foundation of this country's dairy industry. Milk, milkfat and other fractions of milk are processed into cheese, butter, ice cream, yoghurt, kefir and other industrial components which are ubiquitous in processed and ultra-processed foods. "Skimming the cream" from milk is extremely important economically. Since different cows produce milk with different portions of milkfat, standardized portions of the removed cream are dialed back in (or not, in the case of the aptly named skim milk), and 1/2%, 1%, 2% and "whole" milk products are created. The rest of the cream goes into premium milk products.

At this point a bit of history may help: Michigan was the first state to require milk pasteurization in1948. The story of pasteurization is typically told as a rush during the 40's and 50's to adopt a pathogen-destroying, health-preserving technology; it was not, however, that new. Pasteur had discovered the process (initially for wine) more than 80 years earlier, and it had been feasible for milk for more than 60 years. Was there some other compelling reason for this sudden rush to pasteurize, which overwhelmed the Medical Milk Commissioners' certified raw milk? I submit there was more to the story than the campaign waged by the wealthy Nathan Straus and others, to adopt the technology.

There are, as we've seen, powerful economic incentives to industrialize milk and its constituent fractions. Those old enough, will remember the years prior to and after WWII with retail milk competition based on the "cream line"—the more cream your milk had, the better. The cream line permitted customers to see how “rich” your milk was in comparison to the competition. Marketing had intensified - even the narrow-neck shape of old milk bottles forced the cream up and made it look like there was more cream. This kind of competition wasn't good: producers were being forced to supply more of the most economically valuable portion which was being wasted, compared to what the cream could bring in premium products.

Homogenization, which effectively removes the cream line, solved this problem. First the cream is removed, and some is dialed back in to create the familiar milkfat "grades" (1/2%, 1%, etc.). Then, the milk is homogenized, so that even these adjusted grades have no cream line to show the consumer how little remains. (and might I interject in here: remember that the cream (fat) of milk is where the important fat-soluble vitamins reside!) Technically, what happens during homogenization: the milk is forced through tiny orifices at thousands of PSI, which knocks down the size of milk's fat globules; when these globules are broken down so small that they cannot re-coalesce, the cream no longer rises and the cream line disappears. An additional benefit of homogenizing was to extend shelf life by preventing the cream from congealing and clumping after several days on the shelf. Thus, marketing appealed to consumers' distaste for clumpy milk, to their wish for longer shelf life, and of course it emphasized the supposedly healthy aspects of these new “low fat” products.

The catch is that homogenized milk with no further processing will go rancid within a matter of hours.
The much smaller fat globules have many times the surface area of the larger globules. If left untreated, the enzymes in the liquid phase of homogenized milk will immediately start breaking down the now-very-tiny fat globules because the protective elements which were sufficient to cover the large globules, are spread too thin to adequately protect the vastly increased surface area with the many small globules created by homogenizing.

How to fix this and save the economic benefit realized by "skimming the cream" and then homogenizing? The answer is to pasteurize the milk, since pasteurizing kills off the milk's liquid phase enzymes so the milk won't go rancid.

Hence, once the dairy industry took the homogenizing step to follow the dollars, it HAD to pasteurize. And the industry will have to stick with the gospel of pasteurizing, since their current economic structure requires it.

(It is important to note that the opposite is not true: once pasteurized, milk does not then need to be homogenized. Pasteurized milk is obviously no longer raw, but the few dairies which are not afraid to compete on cream line should also be supported whenever possible - it's where I go if I can't get raw milk. There is some argument that homogenization—which subjects the milk to extreme pressure and heat—is itself very damaging to milk; thus non-homogenized milk is more nutritious and less damaged, even if it has been pasteurized).

Although all this is not news to some, nevertheless I think it fleshes out how economics undergirds the gospel of pasteurization. Does raw milk have risk if contaminated? Sure, as does any contaminated food. Is contamination of raw milk a huge red herring keeping our eyes off a far more important reason for pasteurizing milk? I'm beginning to think so.

It is now clear that FDA's current campaign against artisanal cheese makers, together with USDA's considerable interest in supporting cheese (a keystone product in the industrialized dairy pantheon), signal an important new emphasis in the government's anti-raw-milk dogma. During recent years FDA has beat the drums of fear about pathogen contamination in raw milk. Essentially a campaign of fear, FDA's focus on fluid raw milk can only be viewed as a failure: Raw milk consumption continues to surge; FDA's interstate ban is under legal attack; and FDA's dogma is regularly being shown to be inconsistent, illogical and unscientific—an embarrassing and ever-deepening quandary in which the agency finds itself due to its steadfast refusal even to dialogue on the subject.

Block cheddar cheese is a principal USDA baseline for pricing and dairy support in a byzantine system riddled by lack of transparency, scandals and even litigation among market players. FDA tactics now emphasizing cheese can mean only one thing: The ante is upped; we're talking many millions of dollars simply for more cheese on pizza, in a total milk market measured in multiple billions. For an industry built on the altar of fractionalizing and homogenization, requiring pasteurization, the bottom line is simple: cheese is serious, and must be protected at all costs from the ravages of raw products that thumb their noses not just at homogenization, but at the economic lynchpin, pasteurization.

Click here for the link to the article.

It's also interesting to me to note that despite our national obsession with low-fat foods, Americans will still shell out a lot for some good old-fashioned butterfat, whether in the form of premium ice cream or a take-out cheese-laden and cheese-stuffed pizza! Like it or not, we still instinctively crave dairy fats, which in their unprocessed raw state, from healthy pastured animals, are incredibly nourishing and satisfying.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Instant" soup for a winter dinner

1. Wash a few stalks of celery and cut the ends off; peel and rinse a couple of carrots.

2. Heat a pot of homemade chicken bone broth, enough so that each person will get at least two cups.

3. While the broth is coming to a boil, slice the celery very thinly and julienne the carrots (if you don't have a julienner already it's definitely time to get one! I don't know what I was thinking going all this time without one).

4. Add the veggies to the pot of gently boiling broth and simmer until tender, about 8-10 minutes (you may also add pasta at this time if your family insists on a noodle soup).

5. Place several pieces of very thinly sliced raw beef, pork, or chicken in each bowl. (I like the minute steaks from Raindance Organic Farm.)

6. Turn off the heat under the boiling soup and pour it over the meat in each bowl. Serve immediately. The meat will cook in seconds as long as it is sliced very thin and the broth is very hot.

7. Add desired garnishes. If serving beef or pork in meat broth you may want to try scallions, bean sprouts, and/or fresh basil leaves. Scallions are also great in chicken broth with sliced chicken.

8. Last but not least, spice up your soup creation with your preferred seasonings. My favorites for a spicy rich broth are Thai fish sauce (which adds a rich umami flavor) and chili sauce. Use small amounts just to give the soup a little extra kick-it will be more like restaurant-made soup, but without the MSG.

Bon appetit!

-Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My new baby!

The newest addition to our family: a GE 7 cu ft chest freezer. I am in HEAVEN!!!

Now I finally have somewhere to keep the 5 lbs. of butter and 6 lbs. of chicken livers and 10 lbs. of beef bones and 6 lbs. of chicken feet and 8 lbs. of ground pork and 25 quarts of bone broth I make weekly and 8 bags of homemade meatballs and... well, you get the idea. :)

-Posted from my iPhone