Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How dirty is your water?

We found out the answer to this question this year. Although we've been using a Pur pitcher filter for a long time now, we hadn't gotten it together to buy a "real" water filter system. Now I'm mad I didn't prioritize this more! If I had seen this earlier I would have made the water filter happen sooner, in spite of our tight budget (as I would recommend you do!).

The one we settled on is the Doulton dual-chamber (fluoride and ultra carb filters) filter available from Radiant Life. We chose the under-counter option since we had no countertop space to spare.

Here's the filter after just two weeks of use (compare it to the filter housing which is in the sink and is the normal off-white color of the filter when it's clean):

Hugo now removes the filter and cleans it every weekend so the flow from the spigot stays fairly even most of the time. Since I make so much broth and ferment lots of veggies and beverages we really do go through a lot of filtered water.

We also got a shower head filter and a bath dechlorinator ball:

As they say on the Radiant Life website, either use a filter or BE the filter! After seeing our filters turn from off-white to charcoal black I am truly glad to no longer be the filter.

(Just a reminder that as with all my product, food, and supplement recommendations I receive absolutely no benefit from your following the above links.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Really easy gluten-free gravy

Oliver loves gravy ("sauce" as he calls it) on everything possible. He generally resists eating meat without it. And though he doesn't know this of course, this policy is a good one: not only is authentic gravy delicious, but it also enhances digestion by supplying concentrated gelatin from reduced bone broth, plus enzymes from raw dairy -- not to mention healthy fats from the pan drippings.

All you need to do is cook a cut of meat (steak or meatballs are usually the chosen candidates in our house for gravy) in a hot skillet with plenty of fat melted in the bottom. I've been using lard (a great source of vitamin D) for a few years now, but recently decided to branch out and try beef tallow again (and I've been delighted with the results!). Beef tallow is a rich source of CLA (a fatty acid with known cancer-fighting properties) and also omega-3s. Move over, wild salmon! Other healthy fats for cooking include any pure rendered fat from pastured animals, such as lamb, chickens, or goats. (Butter is also great, but only for very light cooking, like scrambled eggs or Hollandaise sauce, and while coconut oil is another good "fat," I generally save that for baking and making chocolates and mayonnaise. I also save bacon fat of course and consider that my preferred fat for cooking pancakes. The best thing in my opinion is to mix it up a bit so you get a range of fats, with all their varying benefits, on a regular basis.)

To make the gravy:

1. First cook the meat in the hot fat, then remove it from the pan (but don't pour off the fat!).

2. Next, add in 1 cup bone broth of choice (generally I just use chicken for everything but tonight I opted for some beef tongue broth I had in the freezer and it worked beautifully).

3. Turn the heat up to high and let the broth boil away and reduce until thickened, while you scrape the brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Let everything get nice and thick (the liquid will go from 1+ cup to just a few tablespoons), then pour it into a little pitcher and whisk in a giant heaping spoonful of raw creme fraiche or sour cream. Mix thoroughly and serve over the meat. This makes an incredibly luscious gravy -- you would have a hard time finding better! My guess is that this only makes about 1/4 cup of gravy, though, which isn't much, so if you want more just use twice as much broth so that when it's reduced there is about 1/2 cup remaining.

One thing I did notice about the beef tallow: the gravy started to congeal on our plates more quickly than usual this time. But maybe that was because we had the kitchen window open to catch the springlike evening air.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Weston's sink bath

Could there be anything cuter than a chubby 3-month-old baby in a sink? :)