A Nutritious Treat!

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Now I have posted periodically on the subject of food and included enticing photos for you , my dear readers, to enjoy.

This time I am going the extra step and including the recipe for those of you who may wish to make your own batch of these Three Seed Yogurt Muffins!

I just tried them for the first time yesterday, and they were a big hit with some friends and my family at home.

Here you go!

ENJOY!

 

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Three Seed Yogurt Muffins

 

For 12 muffins,

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup wheat germ

½ cup roasted raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup roasted raw sunflower seeds

2 tbsp ground flax seeds

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground ginger or cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 egg

1 cup milk

2/3 cup liquid honey or packed brown sugar

½ cup plain yogurt (NOT fat-free)

¼ cup butter, melted

 

TOPPING:

1 tbsp raw roasted pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375°F; line muffin pan with paper liners (or grease pan).

In a coffee or all-purpose grinder, grind the flax seeds.

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, baking powder, ginger, and baking soda.

In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, honey, yogurt, and butter.

Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, stir just until moistened.

Spoon into prepared muffin pan; sprinkle tops with pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Bake for about 25 min. or until tops are firm to the touch.  Cool in pan for 5 min. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

 

EXTRA NOTE:

Optional to add – orange zest with the butter; grated apple; dried cranberries, blueberries, or raisins

 

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Yoga Cat

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She hears my breathing,

Curious and quiet;  she

joins me – yoga time!

 

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This evening I decided to get back into a regular yoga routine.

One of my sons, Conrad, and I have done a few sessions at home together in the past.
It’s worth it, because I always feel so good afterwards.

Today I had a different companion.
She’s so clever. She KNOWS to lay down on a special mat…..she knows about good, slow, EASY stretching……she knows about breathing and being focused in the present moment….. 😀 She’s a natural!

She also took up some of the space on my purple yoga mat and later on kept attacking my feet during downward dog……

Yes, it’s ….

Hemingway, our yoga cat. 😀

I think she’s doing downward……cat?

 

 

My new reference book…on fermentation

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Waited patiently,

Until the kimchi was done.

Crunchy with some zip!

 

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After its initial fermenting time of 7 days, I then put my jar of kimchi into the fridge; it slows down further fermentation – although it never stops the process – and also keeps the kimchi cool.

(please refer to my post dated April 28, 2016 Exploration in Fermentation for my experience in the making of it).

Not that I’d need to put it into the fridge, as fermentation is a way of preserving fresh food.  However, I DO enjoy having sauerkraut and kimchi nice and cold for munching!

So, today I decided to have a sampling of my own kimchi.  And boy, am I hooked!  Haha!

It’s so tasty!  See the little green specks in it?  That’s the finely chopped up jalapeño pepper that my group had added in our batch.  The pepper with the fresh garlic and ginger creates a lovely zip to the overall flavour.  And just as cool is the crunchy texture that is retained from the Chinese cabbage, the onions, the grated carrots, etc.

I have a feeling that I’ll be making kimchi on a regular basis!  I could easily make a little meal of it with some freshly steamed rice, and who knows what else I’ll come up with for ideas.

Now that I have raved at you on the delightful flavour of the kimchi, I will get to the other purpose of this post – to share with you my new reference book on the subject of fermenting foods.  Also, because one of my followers…lorac888890…specifically asked for some clarification.

 

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Excerpt:

“Fermented foods and drinks are quite literally alive with flavor and nutrition…..

One major benefit of fermentation is that it preserves food.  Fermentation organisms produce alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, all “bio-preservatives” that retain nutrients and prevent spoilage.  Vegetables, fruits, milk, fish, and meat are highly perishable, and our ancestors used whatever techniques they could discover to store foods from seasons of plenty for later consumption.  Captain James Cook, the 18th century English explorer who extended the far reaches of the British Empire, was recognized by the Royal Society for having conquered scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) among his crews by sailing with large quantities of sauerkraut….scurvy had previously killed huge numbers of the crews of long sea voyages.

…an interesting parallel that the Polynesian people who crossed the Pacific Ocean and populated Hawaii more than a thousand years before Captain Cook also sustained themselves through the long voyage with fermented food, in this case POI, a thick starchy taro root porridge still popular in Hawaii and throughout the South Pacific.

Fermentation not only preserves nutrients, it breaks them down into more easily digestible forms….for example, soy beans into miso, tempeh, and tamari.  Milk into yogurt and kefir.

Eating fermented foods live is an incredibly healthy practice, directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients.

Read labels and be aware.  Many commercially available fermented foods are pasteurized, which means heated to the point at which microorganisms die.

If you want live-culture fermented foods in our food-security-obsessed, instant-gratification age, you have to seek them out or make them yourself.

By promoting digestive health, live fermented foods can help control digestive disease processes….”

 

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I tried to give you highlights as an introduction to this book.

I hope you will find this information helpful, perhaps even intriguing enough to start your own exploration of fermented foods.

I wish you all the best of health!

Note:  Just now I invited my husband and one of my sons to have a taste test of the kimchi.  My husband found it too strong, although he did say that I’d do the Koreans proud.  That puzzled me, because he does enjoy eating spicier foods from time to time, like East Indian food. Perhaps he finds Korean food even spicier?

I, on the other hand, don’t find it all that strong.  It definitely has a good burst of flavour, and it has some good spicy zip to it.

My son’s assessment was closer to what I expected – he doesn’t find it particularly all that strong but that it does have a nice bite to it.  He said he liked it.

Now, I just need to have the rest of my kids try it out.

Either way, I know that I’m going to be having kimchi more often!

That old-style Natural Fizz!

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A fermented drink,

It requires a “mother” –

And a base of tea.

 

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I’m drinking some ginger kombucha – to me, since I’ve recently discovered it – the best kind of natural “ginger ale” there is and also doing me some beneficial good! And refreshingly cool!  It has just a slight sour taste and a light fizz to it.
On my list of things to learn to make myself…..in the near future.

Here is an excerpt from the book, “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz on the subject of Kombucha and the making of it (page 22):

“Kombucha is sweetened black tea, cultured with a “mother,” also known as “the tea beast,” a gelatinous colony of bacteria and yeast.  The mother ferments the sweet tea and reproduces itself, like kefir grains.  Kombucha is thought to have originated in China, and has been popular at different times in many different lands.  It is beneficial to health, like other live fermented foods…..”

People have been creative in extras they add into their making of kombucha, for example, cranberries, ginger, etc.  So far I have tried the fresh ginger infused kind and really enjoy it.

 

 

Exploration in Fermentation

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Chopping and grating,

Cabbage, radish, and spices –

For making Kimchi !!

 

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Remember when I posted about the sauerkraut-making workshop back in the fall?

Well, two evenings ago was the next workshop in the series – still focusing on fermented foods – and it featured the making of kimchi. Primarily known with Korean cuisine these days, but it originated in China.

There are more ingredients that go into a kimchi recipe; everything gets grated and chopped up, and with the addition of dried or fresh peppers and fresh daikon radish, the end result is a somewhat spicier food.

The fermentation process is similar to sauerkraut…..letting it sit for a number of days where it can then also produce those beneficial bacteria.

Yummers!

Once again we had a keen group of about 25 participants, and in teams of four, we busily chopped and mixed and hand-mashed our way through a fine sampling of kimchi. Everyone gets a share to bring home to take it through the next steps.

COOL!

Both of these workshops were so well received that there was talk about what would be covered at the next one – KOMBUCHA !! Moving into fermented drinks. Sweet!

And here’s a photo of my finished jar…

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The Humble Tissue

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Sinus congestion,

Sometimes runny or plugged up;

Blowing!  Ahhhh……relief.

 

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You blow your nose.
Get rid of a ton of sinus and nose congestion.
Figure you’ve cleared up a huge amount.
Breathe freely for a bit.
Not too long later, you need to blow your nose…..again!
And then another huge load of STUFF comes out of your nose – one, two, sometimes three tissues.
Tell me…..
WHERE DOES IT ALL COME FROM?????
It feels like miles and miles of it coming out…..and then there’s miles and miles of it more!
And your head is only SO big.
I just shake my head……
….and grab another tissue.

 

Pretty box though, isn’t it?

 

 

The Culture of Cabbage

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Keeping it simple,

Natural fermentation;

Sauerkraut…..kimchi?

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Cabbage is one of those vegetables that pops up in various cultures and their cuisines, notably, as it is so versatile and can be incorporated in so many dishes.  It is also a hardy vegetable that can handle lengthy storage.  Added to that, cabbage has a list of beneficial nutrients, so our global ancestors living in the northern climates, in their efforts to extend the storage and consumption of this fine vegetable, came up with a smart and simple way to preserve it.  Fermentation.  In regional areas across Europe cabbage was preserved as well as in parts of China and Korea.  These days the two more common names  are sauerkraut and kimchi.  The traditional way was quite simple….using fresh cabbage and a bit of salt, along with a herb or spices.  A brine is created with the finely sliced cabbage and the salt, leading to the natural fermentation phase during storage in crocks for a specified amount of time.

Now for the personal connection.  I was born and grew up in Canada. My heritage is German, and so, for the first half of my life, it’s the German cuisine I was mostly familiar with and learned to cook.  And yes, I grew up with an appreciation for sauerkraut.  Both my grandmother and my mother did their share of preserving foods, but generally that was with fruits, so any sauerkraut dishes we ate was made with the store-bought kind.  They were always delicious!  Happily, I managed to pass along that sauerkraut enjoyment to my husband and kids.

So….are you still wondering about the photo (above) with the jars of sauerkraut in them?

Well, in mid-November of last year – it doesn’t feel all that long since it’s only been two months!  haha! – I received an e-mail from one of our local health food stores in town, highlighting one of their periodical workshops.  This one, you guessed it, was intending to tackle the fun in preparing one’s own batch of sauerkraut, using the natural fermentation process.  No doubt you can imagine how eagerly I grabbed my phone and called to find out if there was still room for me at the workshop!  Every participant was only asked to bring in two clean 500 ml jars (with lids) and a cutting board and sharp knife.  The cabbage, salt, caraway seeds, and juniper berries (for the featured recipe) would be provided for us there; covered in the workshop fee.

We were approximately 20 participants.  After a brief introduction on the benefits and process of natural fermentation of foods, specifically cabbage, then we all got busy working together in groups of four……slicing our cabbages up fine, then placing all that into big mixing bowls, adding in the required amounts of salt…..and just having a fun time together.  Everyone was handed some light plastic gloves for the “scrunching” part of the task, and we all took turns again and again….scooping and squeezing and pushing down, until the cabbage in the bowls visibly started breaking down and getting softer and, well, juicier ie. the brine was being created. The final touches of the caraway seeds and juniper berries was added once the “scrunched” cabbage had achieved the desired consistency.  Then everyone’s jars were filled.  With an accompanying sheet of instructions on the daily minor “scrunching” procedure to be done with our jars, all of us piled out of the store and headed for our homes with our much-anticipated future sauerkraut.

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During a little break at the workshop, before the heavy “physical” work was about to commence, the organizers put out some sample foods for us to nibble on….to see for ourselves what this type of sauerkraut would taste like; there were also samples of kimchi for us to try.  Along with a selection of natural crackers and some other finger foods, everyone had a little plateful of tasty food!

I am pleased and happy to say  that I thoroughly enjoyed those 7-10 days of daily “scrunching” in my two jars and seeing the development of the fermented sauerkraut.  Since then, one of my sons and I added “my” sauerkraut to sandwiches mostly, so it wouldn’t run out too soon!  But now my supply is gone, and I need to make a new batch.

It’ll be a bigger batch this time!

 

A Week of Inactivity? Not so….entirely.

Hello, Friends!

Yes, it’s been at least one week, since I posted last.  And yes, I have missed writing haiku and little stories.

It wasn’t that I chose to have a break.  You see, my body decided to make that decision.  I caught that heavy cold thing that’s been making its rounds hereabouts – although I had no intention of doing so – and it threw that wrench into my blogging routine.

It started to make an appearance in my throat area on Monday night, soon after I had shared that post about Leah, my senior lady friend.  Tuesday and Wednesday were spent mostly curled up under warm bed covers…..sleeping.  And more sleeping.  Not even hungry.  Just feeling feverish and weak.  And I cancelled all extra activities….even though I didn’t want to….

By Thursday I mustered up enough energy to do my usual work for Thursdays, because I needed to get back on track as there was more work scheduled coming up, including a somewhat busy weekend.  And I depend on the income to help pay for some of those activities.

Things continue to improve, even though I am still not quite over it; however, I can get on with things again and enjoy them.  I just need to make sure I have my trusty bottle of water and enough kleenex on hand, wherever I go.  Hahaha!

So, I see at this time – with joy and curiosity – that other blogging friends have posted comments to which I need to respond.  And apparently, there are some awards to devote some time and energy to as well.  🙂  Bear with me – I WILL get to them in time!

Oh yeah, and as a side note, it seems that I inadvertently shared my cold germs with my boys, as each and every one of them, strangely starting on the same day (Monday), is now “wrestling” with a runny nose and other symptoms and asking for a pot of soothing herbal tea to share with me…..as well as other of our home remedies.

It was in that spirit that I decided to make a pot of home-made chicken noodle soup – I doubled my usual batch – as that dependably soothing and  warming food eases the discomfort in our noses and tummies.

 

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It was well received and much appreciated!  With seconds and thirds had by all.  🙂

 

On My Daily Walk….Yesterday

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Yes, it’s become my daily walk and not necessarily always at the same time.  It can be mornings or early evenings (like in these photos I took from yesterday’s walk).  I started this new form of exercise in the first week of June and I plan on keeping it going, because it no longer feels like an exercise that I need to do as my goal….but more of a fun new activity that I look forward to and don’t want to miss doing and now can’t imagine NOT doing – hahaha!

Primarily, I walk along two country roads, the bigger one being paved.  There are uphill and downhill parts on both of them, so that adds a bit of “extra work” as well.

I was loving the sunshine on my face and arms as I walked along at my usual good, comfortable, steady pace.  And as I was facing homeward bound again, that’s when I paid more attention to the clouds in the sky and really noticed that darker cloud.  I liked that “heavier” looking cloud that still somehow seems to be so light in the sky.  And I liked how the rows in the field showed up distinctly.  So, I stopped and took a few pictures.  Interesting isn’t it, when you look just a smidge to the right, which is the next picture in sequence…and even though the dark cloud is still in the sky to the left (outside of the frame), you wouldn’t know or think it was there just looking at the second picture.  All the clouds are white, and the sky is blue.

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This third picture I took going closer to the edge of the left side of the road, mostly because I love the sight of these grasses with the lighter beige tufts that always invite me to fan my hand over their softness…..as well as run my hands through the soft ferny ground cover right at the edge of the sandy shoulder, running along the right edge of those taller grasses.  Adds some tactile exploration….and fun!

From time to time occasional birds – red-winged blackbirds and sparrows and bobolinks and mourning doves, among others – briefly perch along the hydro lines, and we check each other out.

Interestingly, every walk is never quite the same….different clouds, occasional rain sprinkles or little “showers,” total cloudiness, breezes or barely breezy, and the haying in certain fields, and the slowly growing taller of the corn crops in other fields.

Sure is peaceful and calm.

Joy of Walking

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My new regimen

Daily walks, one hour long.

Fresh air….and the views!

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NOTE:  The photos were taken the one time I walked – since I’ve started this new regimen (last Thursday) – and I wanted to show the country road….so peaceful to walk along.  As well as those pretty pink clouds of the approaching sunset in that blue background…..and one photo showing a coming together of pink clouds with darker blue clouds….two waves rushing towards one another.  🙂