The strange part here is that we got Bella, our house cow, before I read this book and before I knew anything about the whole raw milk debate. We drank raw milk sometimes when we visited our friends on a dairy farm, but we never really valued it as we should have. My husband really wanted a cow because he liked the dairy lifestyle, and I couldn't see a problem with it, as I described previously, it will make it easier for us to get steers for beef instead of having to buy them locally. Our friends told us they'd found the perfect cow for us, small, tame, already with a calf and used to being milked in the dairy, so even though we weren't totally ready, we brought home Bella and Molly and I'm so glad that we did!
|Here I am giving Bella a "thank you" hug|
|And here's Molly, our future dairy cow!|
With all the milk, 6L/day, we started making cheese, and went on the cheese making course where I first heard about Nourishing Traditions, and the importance of raw milk in a traditional diet. Now that I've read NT, I realise the role of raw milk in making probiotics and starting lactic-fermentations. So without Bella I wouldn't have read NT and I wouldn't have the key ingredient to a traditional diet!
NT recommends a number of different fermented milk products, including cultured butter, yoghurt, kefir, sour cream, cultured butter milk, cream cheese and whey. Fermented milk has the benefits of probiotic bacteria and makes the milk easier to digest as casein and and lactose enzymes are retained, as well as increase the vitamin content of the milk. Of course, if you have access to raw milk, its best to use it, but if you don't, any milk is better than nothing as you at least get to eat the good bacteria in the starter culture.
|cream cheese with the whey dripping out into a container|
I've explained the difference between lactic-fermented vegetables and vinegar pickling in a previous post. Basically lactic-fermentation is an ancient and gentle method of preserving vegetables with no heat or pressure, so the nutrients are retained (and even improved by the action of bacteria and enzymes), whereas vinegar pickling is a quick and easy method using heat, temperature and acidity to preserve veges using industrial processes, while destroying much of the nutritional value of the vegetables.
|My first jar of sauerkraut|
I have made sauerkraut and pickled gherkins/cucumbers. I am growing radishes and beetroot in great anticipation of more pickling! I think its important to use organic veges for fermenting, otherwise the chemicals on the veges might inhibit the bacteria, so I just try to use up what I grow or grow what I want to use, that way I know I have cheap organic veges for fermenting. I have just used an old jam jar, but commercial crocks and jars are available. I used a spacer in some of them to hold the pickles under the brine, but in others I didn't bother and it worked fine too. The hardest part is overcoming the gross-out factor of eating something that's sat on your kitchen bench for several days! According to NT, you will know if it doesn't work because it will stink, so I am hoping that is correct, and I've been trusting my nose :)
As I've mentioned a few times (here and here), I really enjoy sprouting, its one of the easiest foods in NT to make, and the sprouts can be added to almost any meal. The benefit of sprouting is that the by starting the germination process, the enzyme inhibitors are deactivated, and vitamins and minerals are made more available, this makes the grains, nuts and seeds easier to digest.
So far I have sprouted alfalfa, fenugreek, mung beans, adzuki beans, chick peas and wheat in my little sprouting jar. I pretty much have some sprouts in the jar at all times, the only time I don't start sprouting is if I know I'll be going away, as the sprouting jar just needs to be rinsed twice a day, but that's not much work for a very tasty reward!
I love making soups and casseroles and up until recently I had been incredibly lazy about making real stock. I admit to using stock cubes, expensive stock cubes! Probably full of MSG disguised as "natural flavour". More to save on freezer space than anything else, but now we have two massive chest freezers, there's plenty of space and I've been using up all our bones and vege scraps to regularly make real stock. It has been surprisingly easy to do and now I have a freezer full of stock to add to all sorts of meals. The advantage of making stock is getting all the minerals out of the bones, also gelatine is really good for so many reasons which I won't list here (I admit I always thought gelatine was gross).
|Some turkey stock in the early stages|
I have made stock from every chicken we've killed recently, the turkey made 10 L of stock, fish stock from the tuna my husband caught, and beef stock from Bruce. At the very least I chuck a beef bone into a slow cooker meal to get that extra flavour (and gelatine). I also chuck in any spare herbs, peppercorns, wine into the pot too, its great for using up leftovers.
Salad dressings and sauces
These recipes came at the perfect time as we love our summer salads. NT has two types of salad dressing, those based on oil and vinegar and those based on mayonnaise. As I've mentioned previously, I've tried making both, and while the first one is very easy, the other one is more difficult without the right equipment! No success so far. We usually just have a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but I've mixed that up with mustard and herbs too for something different. Salad dressings are important for adding enzymes to the diet and making raw food taste great! Usually we have so many lovely fresh veges in the salad, a light dressing is plenty.
|Olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing and my mayonnaise attempt|
Sauces, Marinade and Condiments
This section is probably more about creating healthy tasty alternatives to store-bought over-processed additive-filled condiments and sauces that many people use everyday. There are recipes for pesto, tomato sauce, salsa, teriyaki sauce, curry sauce, bernaise sauce, none of which I've had a need for so far, but they all look very tasty, and when I have the right ingredients in the garden/pantry I'll give some of them a go. Our main hot sauce is gravy, which I make from the meat juices of every roast we have, also adding some herbs and stock. Any left over goes in the freezer, or straight into casseroles/sauces in another meal.
And that is the first section finished, I hope you've seen some things in there that you might be able to apply yourself, and maybe some things to think about for the future! Really it only gets more interesting from here, the next section is great beginnings, everything from soups to raw meat, I'll post that review in a couple of weeks.