Cook Book...

Cook Book...

To write or not to write,

That IS the ???

So I have hit the 100th person to ask me: Are you going to write a cook book?" or "When are you going to write a cook book?"  I am celebrating this milestone (like celebrating the 100th person to cross the threshold of a new store or business) by chatting about it here.

Cook book or not?

I have to say, "nah, not in my plans."  I thought about it for a bit and here are my issues... issues, we always have issues!

1.  I am a "just throw it in a bowl" kind of gal.  For example, foods like cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and pancakes all have the same basic ingredients. Some have more liquid, i.e. pancakes, while others have more flour, i.e. cookies. What I throw in the bowl depends on the consistency of the batter or dough I am trying to make.

So, to make a chocolate cake I do something like this (and hope for the best!):

  • 2-3 eggs whipped up and add 1/2 to 3/4 cup melted butter (these two ingredient amounts depend on whether I am making a one or two layer cake)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, unrefined, of course (I may use 3/4 if making 2 layers and it is not for my kids, most people like sweeter cakes.)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk, again depending on the layers
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. baking powder depending on the flour (oat flour and I use less b. powder, if it is millet / quinoa / teff / amaranth flours I use more b. powder)
  • 3-6 tbsp. cocoa powder depending on # of layers and how chocolate flavored I want the cake
  • Enough flour to create a cake batter consistency, which is thicker than pancakes but more liquid than cookies

Set batter aside for 5 - 10 minutes to see how the flour soaks up the liquid.  After 10 minutes, if the consistency is cake like, good to go.  If it is too runny, I add flour a tiny bit at a time.  Too thick?  I thin with a bit of milk.

So, that is how I cook everything.  A little of this and a little of that.  Who wants a cook book written like this? I would get boo-ed and rotten tomatoes thrown at me! Most people want exact measurements.

2. Meal cooking is a process of looking at the local, seasonal produce on hand and having fun with it; playing with the ingredients, herbs, and spices.  When you play with food for long enough, cooking and creating in the kitchen becomes second nature.

I suggest picking up a couple of good vegetarian cook books* (cook books that show case seasonal produce) and then read them like novels.  Next, get cooking. After a bit of practice in the seasonal kitchen, I will say it again, cooking becomes second nature. It is an art work. Relax, breathe deeply, and let your creative nature just flow.

Add your favorite protein sources and whole grains to the yummy seasonal veggies and voila'... you have dinner (suggestion: make enough for lunch leftovers!).

If you have blood sugar control challenges (diabetes) eat whole grains in serious moderation, not at every meal, and up the intake of veggies instead.

3. I visited the SLU book store and checked out the cook book section.  It was scary!  There were 5 shelving sections of cook books with 7 shelves in each section.  35 shelves of cook books and only 2 of the cook books on the shelves had more than one copy.  One was the original MoosewoodCook Book the other was a smoothie "recipe book", I believe.  All of those 35 shelves were loaded with single copies of cook books on every topic and health promoting diet imaginable! That was a huge wow for me!

The 5 rows of cook books at the SLU Book Store:

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3.  I am all about making food an art form.  The kitchen is your studio, food is your medium, and the kitchen utensils are your artist's tools!

 

Watch for my follow up post:  How to Cook Like an Artist

Be well, have fun in the kitchen!  Paula

*Cook Books you might find useful: 

  • Home Gardener's Month By Month Cookbook, Marjorie Page Blanchard
  • From Asparagus to Zucchini
  • Recipes from the Root Cellar, Andrea Chesman (She also wrote Serving Up the Harvest)

If the cook book uses refined ingredients (refined, all-purpose flour, bleached or not)... use your whole food kitchen skills and swap out the refined ingredients and add in 100% whole food ingredients. Need help with this? Give me a shout, read that section in my book (Hands On Health: Take Your Vibrant, Whole Health Back Into Your Healing Hands), or zap me an email and I will send you my educational handout.

If you do not like the high fat ingredients in the Home Gardener's Cookbook, swap out for ingredients with fat contents you are comfortable with.  Myself, hey, bring on the butter!   (From Pasture Raised Cows, Please!)

Get cooking like the seasonal kitchen artist you can be!

PS  My second book, a book of inspirational words to help you put the action steps in my first book, well... into action, was picked up by a publisher yesterday!  Stay tuned as I keep you informed of the publishing process!  

I call this book of words my "yoga poses" for the body, mind, and spirit book. No, that is not the book's title... that secret will be released at a later date! 

Today, to celebrate, I am off to climb a high peak in those amazing ADK Mountains!

White Face from last summer's hiking ... today I am going up Dial!

White Face from last summer's hiking ... today I am going up Dial!


My Holistic Momma's Dilemma

You might remember my earlier blog post on healthy kid's b-day parties and WHY have healthy kid's b-day parties. So my latest dilemma... my soon to be 12 year old kid wanted an Oreo cookie birthday cake.  First of all I asked: "Why Eli? I have never purchased Oreo cookies for you!"

Bottom line is he wanted what he wanted.

Truth of the matter is there is not one ingredient in an Oreo cookie that was ever meant to be:

  • in your digestive tract being digested and
  • sent out into your blood stream being delivered to
  • every cell in your body to do
  • all the processes to nourish your cells so you have a
  • healthy body!

Nature did not mean for our body cells to be poisoned by packaged food's synthetic ingredients.  Ouch, Paula, really?  My healing advice comes into question on occasion:  "She is so strange, too harsh, very severe, too tough..." But really, the truth is the truth, our bodies were not meant to be poisoned.

I am all about moderation; moderation in foods that were meant to be part of our cellular metabolism. There is no way, in my mind, to be moderate about that which was never meant to be a part of our cellular being.

For just 2 weeks, try feeding your body with 100% whole food, every snack and meal.  I guarantee you will feel like a whole new person: alive, vibrant, clear headed, sleep well, etc. Then, after 2 weeks of whole food eating, go back to your regular diet, 100%, for a day or two.  You will be aghast at how lousy processed food leaves your body feeling.

Whole food eating is not about what you are removing from your life, junk food, but what you are inviting into your life, vibrant health.  Let me know how it goes.

So, back to that Oreo cookie cake. I started off with the basics.  I do not measure ingredients, just throw in the bowl, so I am giving my eyeballed estimates. Thank my Mom, that is how she cooks. I learned through observation.

  • real butter, from grass fed cows grazing in the Finger Lakes of NY - about 3/4 cup
  • 3 pasture eggs from Maria of Deep Root Farm, wicked orange yolks. Lots of good nutrients.  Use the whole eggs.
  • local milk from some sweet, grazing, local goats - 1 cup
  • *oat flour I ground from gluten-free oats - about 1 1/2 cups
  • Sucanat unrefined, real brown sugar (Available at the Potsdam Food Coop & Nature's Storehouse, Canton) - 1/2 cup
  • organic vanilla - 1 Tbsp.
  • baking soda - 1/2 tsp or less
  • baking powder - 2 to 3 tsp.

*gluten free flours will make a shorter, denser cake.  If gluten is Ok in your diet, use whole spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour.  Whole food cakes, made with 100% whole grain flours, will be heavier, denser, and shorter cakes.  When you get used to this denser, more flavorful, manner of creating in the kitchen... the "fluffy" refined food versions will be tasteless and boring.

The below Newman cookies are made with wheat flour and therefor contain gluten.

I caved (What else is a Mom to do? He is so damned cute.) and bought Newman's Own Organics Newman-O's Creme Filled Chocolate Cookies.

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Original Ingredients:

Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Organic Powdered Sugar (Organic Sugar, Organic Corn Starch), Organic Sugar, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Canola Oil (Expeller Pressed), Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Unsweetened Chocolate, Salt, Natural Flavor, Sodium Bicarbonate (leavening), Soy Lecithin (an emulsifier)

I took one row of the cookies, scraped the creme filling out, crushed the wafers, and added the crushed mess to the batter.

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The "Oreo" cake after baking:

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Tomorrow I shall slice it in half to make 2 layers and fill the center with frosting. Then I will slather the whole thing with the rest of the frosting.

Frosting:

  • 2 eight oz. packages of Organic Valley Pasture Raised whipping cream
  • 1 eight oz. package of Organic Valley Pasture Raised Neufchatel cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. local, dark maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. organic vanilla
  • the second row of Newman-O's, scraped and crushed, added to the finished frosting

The final, third row, of Newman-O's will be cut into 1/2 rounds and placed on top of the cake.

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Happy Birthday Eli!  Much LOVE, Mom

Or, as my boys call me...

MOM

Teaching whole food eating, cooking, and baking classes:  I volunteer teach cooking classes through the Sustainable Living Project, Local Living Venture. Sign up for their emails to be notified of upcoming classes.  I also do small groups at my home, just ask.  pyoumell@gmail.com

NYS Grass Fed Butter

Ok, so the butter was not fed the grass but the cows giving the cream were! cows

 

Cows, living life big, at the Kriemhild Farm, Hamilton, NY

 

As I have recommended using butter from grass fed cows and was only exposed to the Kerry Gold of Ireland... a conscientious Northern NY gal gently nudged me in the direction of this butter and NYS dairy.

Kriemhild Dairy Butter is available at the Potsdam Food Coop, Potsdam, NY and through Wholeshare ordering with Nature's Storehouse, Canton, NY.

Kriemhild Dairy's multi-generational family farms are nestled in the verdant hills of New York State steeped in the tradition of dairy farming and production. Over a century of dairy farming experience and local, small batch production are the hallmarks of Kriemhild Dairy Farms.

butter

Butter Ingredients: Sweet Cream from grass fed cows

Handmade and packed in small batches. This butter has more sweet cream so the butter has a higher fat content, typically over 85%.

"Our sweet cream, European style Meadow Butter is churned slowly and finished at a low level of moisture resulting in a rich flavorful butter. The higher fat content (85%) is coveted by chefs for its unique cooking properties. The butter is made throughout the grass growing season while our cows are grazing on high quality pastures, consuming the most nutritious mix of grasses. Since our cows graze seasonally you’ll see a range of colors from a deep golden color in the spring to a pale yellow in the fall. We do not add any other ingredients other than sweet cream from our grass fed milk and salt (except for the unsalted of course!). There are no trans fats in our natural butter. In fact, since our butter is made with milk from grass fed cows, it has a higher level of omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA's), the good fats our bodies need to digest nutrients."

There are no preservatives in this unsalted butter. Kriemhild Dairy Farms strongly recommends that customers only keep out (refrigerated) what will be used in 2-4 weeks and leave the rest frozen.

Product of New York State  (and that is a good thing!)