Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Ingrediants We Use and Why
A lot of people come to my home to learn how to grind wheat and bake bread. Many people are trying to make more food at home from scratch to try to avoid or stay clear of the processed foods in the stores.
I must admit I have run the gamut in our daily preparations of food and how we eat. Years ago, I made everything from scratch, from salad dressings to breakfast cereal, even baking all our own bread every other day. To tell you truth we ate well. It was healthy. But with such a large family I wore myself out and was always in the kitchen from morning till dark trying to feed my family with everything made from scratch. I began to dread getting up and going into the kitchen for the day. I felt like I ran a restaurant. I also had other things I had to do like keep a clean well ordered home, home school the children and manage our small farm. I got totally burned out after several years.
Also, healthier ingredients are often more expensive so our budget was sometimes straining to support the organic grains, veggies and meats we were trying to eat.
I finally came to a time in my life when I realized I could not do it all and had to simplify and compromise some things. To do what we could, to eat as healthy as we could, and not fret over buying a loaf of bread because I could not bake that week. We eat all things in moderation and eat as much home cooked as possible. The things written below are just my opinions and reasons why we do things the way we do.
One of the most used pieces of kitchen equipment that I own is our grain mill. One of the biggest things we do here is grind wheat to flour to bake with. My husband was handed down his grandmothers grain mill when they moved off their ranch in North Dakota many, many years ago. It is a monster of a thing and loud but does a great job.
You can make flour out of many types of grain for baking. But wheat works the best.
We grind wheat to bake with because the flour one buys in the store was ground a long time ago and has had a chance to oxidize. The longer you wait after wheat is ground the more nutritional value it looses. So fresh ground just before baking is best. Also the white flour in the store is fluffy, fine and bakes wonderfully light baked goods but it is just one portion of the wheat. A wheat kernel has three major parts to it. Bran, germ and endosperm. In the stores, in white flour, you only have the endosperm. God made us to eat it in its entirety. The bran helps provide fiber to the endosperm and the germ is the oils in the grain that gives us wonderful vitamin E if used fresh. But the flour companies split the grain into three parts, using the endosperm for white flour. Which causes troubles with our blood sugars and causes constipation when eaten in high concentrations alone. So then people buy high fiber cereals, that bought the fiber from the flour factory and eat that to help them out... then our skin is often dry, so we buy the germ from the lotion and cosmetic companies to oil up our bodies and keep our skin in good shape and they bought the germ from the flour company. Kinda funny. Anyways...We prefer to take the time to buy the wheat and grind the flour for our bake goods when we do bake. Receiving all the health benefits as the Lord created it and intended.
There are hard wheats and soft wheats. We have used mostly hard red and hard white over the years and have found we only want to keep one versatile wheat around to grind to simplify things. So chose hard white years ago and have been happy with it.
One last thing about whole wheat flour. I often have people call or write me that they bought whole wheat flour in the grocery store and baked with it and baked a heavy brick. The whole wheat flour in the store is not the right proportions of the three wheat parts as if it was ground in your home. The flour companies don't want to give the customer the expensive germ or valuable, endosperm. So they give you mostly the high fiber bran part with a little of each of the other parts in it and so when the person contacting me baked with it, it came out heavy, not palatable and almost inedible. Like a brick. :)
Oils and Fats:
Many years ago we moved over to using Extra Virgin Olive Oil when baking and cooking. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the first cold pressing off the olives to get the oils out. It is not heated so therefore healthy and not cancer causing. It is actually a good oil for our bodies. The longer oils are kept at an elevated temperature (cooking temperature) the more carcinogenic they get. (can you think of how bad the oil is in the fry vats at the drive thru!!) If one does research on the oils in our baking isle one will quickly see most are very cancer causing because of the high temperatures that they are processed at. They are very carcinogenic. Also many oils in processed foods are hydrogenated and our bodies just don't know what to do with them and cause further troubles in our circulatory systems and bodies. The fats that we use most around here are Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Coconut oil, pure butter, and rendered fat from cooking organic meats. I save the fat from cooking organic chickens and such and use it to flavor rice. I also save the bones and cook them down to make bone broths out of.
There are many sweeteners we use here in our home depending on what we are making. But the one we do not use is refined white sugar. We do keep a small amount in our home for company to put into their coffee but that is about it.
Our sweeteners of choice are honey (raw and locally bought) or pure maple syrup. But both of those have gotten to expensive for us to use in large amounts on a daily basis. So we use the maple syrup on home made waffles, in oatmeal and on pancakes and the honey for oatmeal and certain baked goods. If I could afford it, we would only use honey, pure maple syrup and black strap molasses in our home. But our budget just can't take the expense. So what we use the most of, and it is still not as cheap as white sugar...is something called Sucanat. It is a sweetener made from sugar cane juice. The juice is extracted and then the moisture is evaporated away. It is brownish in color because it still has many of the solids and molasses in it. We buy it in bulk. Like I said, though not my first choice to feed my family, but better than refined white sugar.
Processed salt is very hard on our systems. White salts that is uniform in size and processed have most of the minerals stripped out of them and are very caustic to our bodies because of the chemicals used to extract those minerals. Years ago doctors noticed that there was a correlation between high blood pressure and table salt. So they put their patients on Sea Salt and saw improvements in their patients. Sea Salt has less sodium per grain because it has so many minerals in it that are good for us. It is much less salty than table salt. If you put a pinch of table salt on your tongue, your tongue will burn a bit. If you put Celtic Sea Salt (grey) on your tongue, it tastes quite pleasant and does not burn. Companies soon jumped on the band wagon and wanted to sell sea salt because doctors were saying to switch. So they started refining sea salt. Most of what you buy in the store labeled sea salt now, is pure white and just as bad for you as table salt because of the refining process and minerals stripped out of it. Is it from the sea? Yes. Is it sea salt? Yes. Is it good for you. No. Eating no processed salt is best. If these statements peak your interest you can research Redmonds real salt (reddish pink in color). Celtic Sea Salt(grey) and Himalayan Salt (pink) all three are natural and not tampered with. All three full of beneficial minerals. Celtic salt has a very smooth taste that really enhances the flavor of soups for some reason. Just my two cents worth. :)
We can not afford to buy all organic meat to eat. We have a very large family and meat is expensive. The cheapest way I have found to have good meats to feed our family is to eat deer and raise some of our own fowl to butcher, eat and make bone broths from. We also have a very good butcher in our area that does not spray his meats or add anything to them to keep them pink. We do buy from there some.
We do not always buy organic veggies. In the summer we have a garden but consume it all and can or freeze very little of it. We buy a lot of frozen vegetables and buy a lot of fresh produce locally. We have many seasons on the farm when the children pick, berries, figs, pears and grapes and eat all they want. We always have oranges and apples on hand and it is the one snack the kids can eat all they want of.
All in all, we do the best we can do. Bless our food and ask God to sanctify it and make it fit for our bodies. That it won't bring harm to us in any way and then we enjoy it. :)
Blessings and happy farming!