Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Making Real Bread, easier than you think

I always bake my own bread.  It is pretty easy, and it is sooooooooo much better than the crap in the store.  And, no poisons, toxins, or crap I can't pronounce.
I always grind my own wheat, however I understand that it is not always possible for everyone else out there that doesn't have a grain mill.  No biggie, I recommend you buy King Arthur whole wheat and once you open the package, put it into a large plastic bag and place it in the freezer.  As we all know, real freshly ground whole wheat has wheat germ in it will spoil, turn rancid, within a couple weeks at best, if allowed to sit at room temperature in the presence of oxygen.

So, to start, the night before, add 4 cups of water into the bowl of your mixer.  Add 2 tablespoons yeast and add some stuff to activate the yeast.  I like to add about a 1/4 cup honey.  Mix it and let sit 5 minutes.  Add 3 cups w/w flour and mix well.  Add a half a teaspoon sea salt and mix in.  Cover it and come back in the morning.  Now, remove the cover and add a stick of butter or a half cup of olive oil. Turn on the mixer, begin adding more w/w flour until the dough just begins to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl.  Turn onto second speed and allow the dough to knead for at least 9 minutes.  But not more than 12.  At the end of the 9 minutes, the dough should be in a very loose ball and when you touch it, it will feel sticky.  Whole wheat doughs must have more liquid in them and be sticky in order for the finished product to be soft, moist and palatable.  The flour has a lot of bran in it and when baked it absorbs free moisture and if you tried to make the dough to have the same look and feel as a white flour bread dough to be smooth and satiny, then the finished product will be dry, crumbly and inedible.  So, we have our stiff and still sticky dough, pull it out and place on a counter that you spread a little olive oil on.  Oil your hands and divide the dough into loaf sized pieces.  Sorry, can't be more specific, it depends on the size of your pans.  Oil the pans and place the loaves into the pans.  Cover, and set on top of the oven.  Allow to rise until double and then carefully put them into a 400 degree oven.  Throw in a half dozen ice cubes and allow to bake for 20 to 35 minutes.  When golden brown. remove and allow to sit for about ten minutes.  Remove from the pan and let cool on racks.  Place in plastic bags, for the ones that you are going to freeze, suck out as much air as possible.

Sounds easy huh?  It is.  It does take practice. Getting the texture right gets easier with practice so just don't give up, keep trying.  You can make a bunch on a Saturday and it will last a couple weeks.  A small price in time and effort for food that is healthy, nutritious and won't kill you slowly.

If you want to make rolls, it is about the same process.  Just when you make the dough and it is ready to form into loaves.  Place it into a large oiled bowl and cover with a tea cloth.  Allow to rise for an hour.  Punch it down and allow to rise again for another hour.  What this does is allow the bran to absorb moisture and as it rises, the dough will become stiffer and less sticky.  Then you can turn it out onto an oiled counter and with oiled hands pull off 2 or 3 ounce balls, roll into a tight ball and place on baking sheet.  Cover with tea towel and allow to rise, slice the tops with a razor blade and bake at 400 for 15 to 18 minutes.  One of those cool things I do is cook stuff up and form rolls around the stuffing.  Stuffed Rolls.  Matt my son loves them.  In fact we just made a bunch at his place two weeks ago.  We took ground turkey, browned it and added lots of peppers and onions and a bunch of Italian spices.  It is easy to do, take a golf ball size portion of the dough and flatten it out into a circle about 3 and a half inches in diameter.  Place a couple tablespoons filling and pull the edges together and pinch to seal around the filling.  Place on sheet pan, and let rise.  I love these things and have done so many different fillings.  Italian Sausage and peppers is only one idea.  I have done scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onions and peppers with cheese.  Artichoke hearts and cubed Asiago cheese, and the sky is the limit, use your imagination.  Once cooked and frozen they are easy to through in the micro for a minute and they make a great breakfast on the run.  Yeah, maybe the meat isn't something I do anymore, but I have made a lot of them in the past.

Go for it, try it, you will love it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fresh Bread, welllllll, maybe?

I just found out that one of the weird things that big bakeries add to commercial breads is something called L-cysteine.  An innoccuous ingredient, or so it would seem.  It is one of the non-essential amino acids that make up a large part of the protein complex of human anatomy.  I don't know why it is added, it is supposed to be a dough conditioner.  However, the way the stuff is made is what grosses me out.  It is made by taking human hair and dissolving it in solvents, then a complex chemical reaction is used to isolate the L-cysteine.  And most of the commercially available stuff is imported from China.  Oh no, not China!  I love Chinese food, but just the stuff cooked here.  China does not have the greatest track record for exporting food.  There is all the pesticide residues on their "ORGANIC" produce, the high melamine content of pet food, the toothpaste problem, the hold on all fish, the problems with unsupervised facilities, and well, just about everything with Chinese imports. 

The Feds appear unable, (well given the HUGE amount of money made by agribusiness outsourcing their food sourcing and manufacturing to China) or maybe unwilling, to take the initiative and test imports and inspect the factories that make the foods exported to the US.  Of course it does all go back to money.  Maybe the FDA just doesn't have the funds to inspect much of the 184 Billion dollars worth of food coming into the US every year.  Or perhaps the heads of the departments within the FDA feel that inspecting less than 1% of those imports is good enough to ensure that all the rest are wholesome and nutritious.  I don't know.  I do know that I will never ever ever buy a bag of Cheetos.  Nor will I buy a bag of organic produce if it says grown in China.  And I will always bake my own bread.  Did you know that bread baked with L-cysteine is not kosher?  It is made with products harvested from humans.  I'm not sure what the real problems are in the middle east, because in so many ways the Koran and Talmud say the exact same thing.  Here, it's simple, don't eat anything like human hair.  It definitely is not Kosher or Halal.

Baking bread is a very simple process, and my next post will show how it is done.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Both of them are losers

Yeah, it was sad really to sit and watch the pres and big Mitt talk on 60 minutes.  The both contradict themselves and have little to say that makes any real sense.  Sad indeed.  I'm sorry, but before he was elected, Obama told us, and was recorded on tape as saying that he would make sure that GM foods would be labeled as such after he was elected.  Four years have gone by and yet he still has the top lawyer for Monsanto as head of the federal agency that blanket approves all of the Genetically Modified plant poisons that Monsanto and all the other agribusinesses put before them.  To this day, the FDA does not require long term testing on ANY GMO food.  NONE!!!!!!   Despite research by very reputable universities showing that the genetic material migrates to the host consuming them and that a diet of GMO soy and corn produces sterile offspring by the third generation when fed to mice, hamsters, and rabbits. 

Not a pretty picture. 

California is taking action.  They are voting to require food processors to label GM foods as being genetically modified.  Wow, wouldn't that put the big agribusinesses into shock.  I mean they pay the Feds millions to keep that from happening.  Oops, can't say that without real proof.  Sorry.  Makes you wonder what incentives that they give to all the directors, section chiefs and other top dogs at the FDA that left and now have high paying jobs at Monsanto. 

You know, if we, and by we I mean regular human consumers, win the vote in California and require the labeling, it will undoubtedly spill over to the rest of the country.  Most big businesses will not print different labels for different states.  A good thing.  I just wonder what will happen, I mean, in Europe, and most of the rest of the world, labeling is required.  And yet still consumers are still out there buying their poisons and sales have not dropped of significantly.  Will the same thing happen here?  I don't know.  All I know is that I will finally be able to eat things that I have avoided for the last ten years because I refuse to eat GM foods. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm not alone in this thinking!

Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the world that worries about the quality of the food that I eat.  It just seems like it, I tell people things, and then they say stuff about how the government will protect us, that white bread is enriched and therefore nutritious, or that the feds would never allow toxic chemicals in our food.  Sigh, it is just sad how the population accepts the status quo, and never questions things.  That's probably why most people still pay income tax (you don't have to) and why politicians are richer than when they are elected because of payoffs and graft.  Oh, sorry, can't say that without proof.  (think Symington, DeConcini, and a whole list of others)  Anyway, I found this website, it shows the top 45 produce items to avoid because of pesticide residues, in order of highest contaminates found to lowest.   See, I am not alone afterall. 

I still don't pay income tax though, and neither should you. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

High Fructose Corn Syrup - Now, a known toxin

Some interesting reading about HFCS, high fructose corn syrup.  This poison is touted to be the same as sugar by the consortium of producers to try and dispel all the information coming to light about how toxic their 40 billion dollar a year product really is.  It is scary how much of this stuff is in our everyday food products.  And now, a new reason to remove this product from our food supply.  The new threat is - Hydroxymethylfurfural.  HMF.  This poison is formed when HFCS is heated.  During production.  The toxic acids that are used to leach out the toxic sodium hydroxide (lye) used in the production of HFCS do not prevent the formation of HMF.  It is a brain toxin and accumulates in our systems over time.  So, the more you eat, the more you collect in your brain, liver, kidneys etc and the more you poison yourself.  Down the road, you will have greater than normal risks for cancer for various organs.  Or it could just be a major contributor to a huge variety of various degenerative diseases.  We just don't know the answer, and a lot more research needs to be done to determine what and how HFCS will kill us.  Of course the problem is that 40 billion dollars annually going into the coffers of agribusiness.  Who out there wants to pay some research facility to prove how toxic something is that makes that much money.  Sorry, I am a realist, no one is going to.  It is up to us to recognize the problem, tell our friends, and choose products that don't use HFCS.  If nobody buys the crap, then maybe they will have to make something good for a change.
Anyway, I'm sure you have heard about the honeybee problem in America.  Colony Collapse Syndrome, it has been a problem for some time now and threatens the agricultural business everywhere as bees are responsible for ensuring a third of our food products are able to reproduce.  Some guy in Tucson figured out what caused the bees to die.  Beekeepers everywhere feed their bees when they are not out gathering food, as in winter time, or during transportation of the hives.  He found that if beekeepers stopped feeding HFCS to the bees and instead went back to plain old sugar water as they have been doing for decades, then the bees stopped dying.  Pretty simple solution.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Carbonara Lasagna

I made this for my going away party back in Austin.  I think it was a hit, there was none left.
Lasagna noodles (I like the whole wheat kind) cooked in boiling water for 8 minutes
1 pound shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 ounces shredded Parmesan
16 ounces ricotta
4 cups milk or half and half and beat in the next ingredient
5 eggs 
2 large onions peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound bacon  or you can also use Capocola which is what I used
1/4 cup Marsala
3 tablespoons AP flour
pepper to taste

Cook the bacon or Capocola until crispy.  Remove from pan and rough chop.  To the pan with the bacon fat, add the onions and cook until translucent, remove and set aside  Add the Marsala and reduce to syrup.  Add the flour and stir well, cook another minute.  Add the egg and milk mixture and bring to a boil.  Simmer until thickened.  To assemble the lasagne spoon some sauce into the bottom of the pan, place a layer of cooked noodles over it.  Spread out half the ricotta onions and bacon.  Then top with a third the cheeses.  Spoon more sauce over that layer and then add another layer of noodles.  Repeat with all the same stuff.  Top with last layer of noodles, then pour the remainder of the sauce on top, then top with the last of the cheese.  Cover with parchment paper then seal with aluminum foil.  Bake in hot oven 375 for an hour.  Let sit for a half hour at least.  Then serve it.  It is pretty cool.  Oh yeah, the Carbonara part, top with a lot of fresh ground black pepper. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Drug recalls

What side effects are discovered in previously approved drugs will cause the FDA to pull any drug or food additive from the market?  And why would those side effects not have been found during any testing before approval?  Tough questions.  In the case of Pradaxa, a drug replacement to replace coumadin, an actual rat poison that was found to reduce the clotting tendencies of blood, there are reasonable and understandable answers.  Pradaxa clinical trials were done on over 500 people and only two died in the two year study.  Now that they have a million people taking the drug, when 265 deaths occur from internal bleeding, it becomes a concern.  However, not enough of one to pull the drug from the market.  I used to take coumadin, I hated the side effects and 6 months ago I stopped taking it.  I now take some strong herbal supplements and aspirin daily to do the same thing.  I think it works, I mean I bruise as easily now as I did when on coumadin, I just do not comb out 8 or 9 hundred hairs every morning.  Coumadin causes hair loss.  

Daliresp, the easy to remember name for a drug called Roflumilast.  My pulmonologist gave me samples of this COPD medication to try.  Seems not much was working for me back in Austin, so he thought he would see if that would help.  I took it for a month and a half, went back to see him and he asked how I was and if anything changed in my life.  I told him I was pissing blood like crazy.  He said stop taking the Daliresp.  I did.  The next day my urine was normal.  Scary.  I don't think that this is an isolated incident as he knew immediately what was causing it.  I am not certain if it also causes kidney stones, because I have had kidney stones in the past.  I have passed about 12 stones in my life.  However I haven't passed one for many years.  I used to drink 3 or 4 pots of coffee a day and now am down to 2 or 3 cups.  One of the causes of stone formation.  So, was that huge stone I had that caused an ER trip during my move from Austin to Arizona caused by normal circumstances, or from a drug I took 2 months previously. 

Drugs are scary.  But when you are sick, and feel horrible, you take what the doctors give you in an attempt to right whatever is wrong with you so you will feel better.  The problem is that this is the wrong approach.  American medicine is all about treating the symptoms, and not the curing the problem causing those symptoms.  And the problem is compounded by Americans that eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) and tell the doc they feel crappy.  The doc prescribes drugs to cure high blood pressure, arthritis, and other maladies and forgets to tell the patient that eating high fat, low nutrient processed foods is the actual CAUSE of all their problems.  I recently found out that in medical school, wannabe doctors only have to take one semester of nutrition.  That's it.  One semester wherein they are taught that eating bread made with bleached and bromated enriched white flour is as nutritious as whole wheat.  No wonder there is a problem in America.  Those professionals that we have charged with the task of healing us have no concept of what can be done to actually heal us.

When I was in the hospital for my hip replacement, the nutritionist came to see me for menu planning as they believed I would be there for the normal stay of 3 to 4 weeks for recovery.  (I stayed 8 days, I couldn't stand the food so worked VERY hard at PT)  I told her I was a vegetarian.  She then suggested a menu plan. Salad and vegetables.  I told her that was nice but did they offer brown rice.  She looked at me like I was from outer space.  I then asked her if any of the foods they provided like, yogurt, salad dressings, bread offerings, or anything else come without high fructose corn syrup.  No, they did not have any of those.  Thank GOD for my wonderful friend and companion Key who brought me Chinese food with brown rice every day.   This is a perfect example of how backward the thinking is of modern medicine, how can someone recuperate and improve when the only food offerings are loaded with chemicals proven to be toxic and processed foods devoid of nutrients?

Healthy Cookies

I thought I would make something nice to snack on as I adjust to living with my brother and sister here in the land of 105 degree days.  While at Winco I bought some carob chips, a lot healthier than chocolate so I am using them today.
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups organic rolled oats
2 cups dates, preferably medjool or honey dates, pit them and chop into small pieces
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup carob chips
In a mixing bowl cream the butter, add the honey and the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, stir the salt and baking powder together and add to the wet ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated.  Add the oats and mix until incorporated.  Add the goodies, mix until well distributed.  Take small balls of the dough and roll into ball about half the size of a golf ball.  Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and flatten slightly.  Bake at 375 for about 12 to 14 minutes.  These are yummy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

FDA Recalls Various Foods

This is a site that I like to check once in a while.  Especially before I go to the store to buy anything.  Check it out - as there are usually quite a few interesting things that have just been recalled for scary reasons.  Like the Ready Pac fresh fruit sold under brand names Ready Pac, Walmart, Starbucks, and WaWa.  About 31 products distributed to most every state are being recalled because of Salmonella contamination.  I usually eat very little fruit because fruit is not good for you if you are trying to lose weight.  But if I did, I would buy it whole and cut it up myself.

Again, this site is a fun one. 

The LAW, and the ordinary guy

Well, it is frightening that the law no longer protects the innocent.  Let's forget the problems that I have had with the idiotic laws of Texas that would not allow me to sue the City of Austin, the owners of my apartment complex, for the mold the nearly killed me; but the fact that now farmers cannot save their own seed that their own plants on their own farms produce.  I am referring to the Schmeiser case where this farmer never bought genetically modified seed from Monsanto.  Instead the canola plants he was growing were infected with pollen from neighboring farms that were growing genetically modified canola.  Mr. Schmeiser saved his own seed as he had done for many many years and when he planted that seed, Monsanto discovered the canola plants were over 95% genetically modified with patented genes from Monsanto.  So Monsanto sued him and won. 

Where are we headed when things like this are allowed to happen?  Not a good thing. 

Canola Oil, the scary story

I just found out that the rapeseed harvest will top over 15 billion dollars this year. And that is just the US and Canadian harvest.  China harvests nearly 3 times that amount.  That seems like a lot to me, and the reality is that, it is a lot.  This is a product that has proven toxicity.  With the Canola Council of Canada continuing to spout the health benefits for this product it just seems that very few scientists and institutions are doing much research into the reality of the product.  What is out there on the internet is usually a bunch of hyperbole and rhetoric, very little actual info.  However there are a few scientific sites that have some disturbing information.  Very frightening actually.  Erucic acid is the toxic component of rapeseed.  In the 70's and 80's Canadian scientists were able to selectively breed rape plants to have an erucic acid content of less than 2%.  In actuality, that is a tremendous achievement.  But it still doesn't make the stuff safe for human consumption.  Erucic acid destroys the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells in the brain.  It is also proven to cause Lipidosis in rats.  No one has done any research on larger mammals.  Let's face it, who would fund a research project that would ultimately prove that an annual 15 billion dollar product will give you a long slow death if you eat it.  That erucic acid is the stuff that has been linked to Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis and similar degenerative conditions found in pigs, sheep, lambs and poultry that were fed canola meal.  This is the stuff leftover after they remove the oil.  If that sounds familiar, it should be, it is mad cow disease.  You rarely hear about it anymore because processors found that if they bake the meal with sodium hydroxide and ammonium bicarbonate then that effectively neutralizes the effects of the erucic acid.  It doesn't break it down, it keeps the animals it is fed to from absorbing it. 
One of the other things that I have found is that the claim that Canola is better for your heart because of the mix of unsat, polyunsat, and saturated fats.  Most of the research material that I have read always differ in composition from the standard propaganda disseminated from the Canola Council.  In her book "Nourishing Traditions" author Sally Fallon suggests that the differences are because they use raw unrefined rapeseed oil to test.  After the stuff is heat treated to deodorize it and purified with hexane and steam distilled, then the good omega-3 fats are transformed into trans-fatty acids.  So who do you believe?  The industry making 15 billion dollars a year, or some small lab doing chemical analysis?  Well, I can't make your decision for you, but I look at every label on anything I buy or eat.  If it contains canola, I put it back on the shelf.  When in a restaurant, I ask what they use.  If they use canola, I get a salad, with balsamic vinegar.  Unless they make their own dressings with olive oil.  With all the crap that is in our food supply today, and with the numbers of GM foods, toxic additives, and increasing amounts of pesticide and herbicide residues being allowed on our foods, I don't want to take the risk of ingesting one more easily avoidable toxin in my diet.  If EVERY person in the US took a stand and refused to eat the poison our food products that big agribusiness wants us to consume, then they just might take the hint and make real food again.