Monday, December 27, 2010

Long Time No Post!

Well, it's been a long time since my last post.  I'm still alive and cooking!  I've been trying new things in the kitchen, and it's been fun, and overall, successful.

I took a very interesting class about fermentation for health by Linda Conroy from Moonwise Herbs.  I learned so much and got to try all different kinds of fermented food;  very dense (on purpose) sourdough bread, fermented fruit, fermented pickles and other various vegetables, homemade ginger ale, and Piima cream.  The fermented fruit was my was so delicious!  I didn't care for the vegetables, but Linda said that they could be an acquired taste.  Everyone in the class was able to take home sourdough starters and a Piima culture. 

My sourdough is growing strong in my kitchen.  Although, I have yet to cook or bake with it. 

It did take me 2 attempts to successfully make more Piima cream.  Because it's winter here in Wisconsin, my house isn't really warm enough for the culture to grow well enough, so it was too watery the first time (I don't call it a failure, though because I turned it into cultured butter).  Luckily, my mom also took the class and gave me her Piima culture.  I was successful at making more Piima cream by keeping it in the oven with the light on.

Wait.  What's Piima, you ask?  Well, according to Moonwise Herbs, it's a Scandinavian Culture-this culture originated when it was noticed that cows who had grazed upon a northern European wild herb called Butterwort at the peak of its growth, milk would clabber at room temperature. It was then carefully cultured from this starter and fresh starter taken from each batch. Piima is similar to buttermilk acidophilus and kefir.  You can make cultured cream, butter and buttermilk as well as a feta style cheese using this culture.  So far, I've made cultured cream (which tastes a lot like sour cream and is just slightly thicker), cultured butter, buttermilk (the by-product of butter), and cream cheese with my Piima.  And the great thing about Piima is that you can have a never ending supply.  You just take some cream from your previous batch (about a tablespoon) and add it to 2 pints of heavy cream (raw or pasteurized, NOT ultra pasteurized), and in a day at 72-75 degrees you'll have more Piima!  You can use the cream anywhere you would use sour cream...on baked potatoes, in dips, in cheesecake.  And it's got beneficial bacteria in it!  If you can't tell, I'm in love with my Piima right now!  You can purchase a Piima starter from Moonwise Herbs for $12 (plus shipping) here.  I can recomend this Piima because it is the one I have in my kitchen and I love.

There is also some great information on Piima at Cultures for Health here.  You can purchase the Piima starter from Cultures for Health for $11.99 (plus shipping).  I can't specifically recommend it because I haven't tried it, but I have heard great things in general about Cultures for Health.

One more great resource on Piima is Nourished Kitchen.  You can go here and here to read about it.
My faves!

There are 3 cookbooks that I've been loving lately:  The Mixer Bible: Over 300 Recipes for Your Stand Mixer

The Mixer Bible has a bunch of awesome recipes to help me use my stand mixer more.  I love that piece of equipment, but it is ignored too much (right now it's only used to make butter).  Nourishing Traditions is a wonderful resource that every kitchen should have if you care about real food.  I love that Sally Fallon not only gives wonderful recipes, but also describes why certain ingredients are used and how to find the right quality for your budget.  Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It is a fun book for making all sorts of things by scratch.  Mmm....homemade bacon.  I can't wait to try MY own bacon.

 And one more book recommendation:  the eBook from Michele at Frugal Granola, called Herbal Nurturing.  It's only $8.95 and worth every penny.  I made the earache oil for my son after he said his ear hurt (afraid he was getting an ear infection) and he was better by the next day (I put the oil in his ears for 3 days just to be safe).  I've also made the lip balm, scrape soother, and sinus rub and plan to try other remedies from her book.  I just love it.

Oh, and I just want to share the most recent 'new' recipe that I tried, and I LOVED!  It was Beef with Snow Peas from the Pioneer Woman.  It was simple and delicious, and even better as leftovers!  I highly recommend it.

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