Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby Arrabella is Here

Saturday afternoon with no fuss or pomp Arrabella was born to proud mother, Jill. Arrabella is an exact clone (not in the true scary sense) of her beautiful mother. She has a perfect belt and two white socks. We are so thankful to the Dad, Mr. Bigstuff, for his contribution to making Arrabella a reality. In the above photo she is heavy with Arrabella and not in the greatest of moods.

Here is a photo of Arrabella standing for the first time . Mom licks her and cleans her up to be presented to the onlookers Sweet Pea and Dara.

Dutch Belted cattle were brought to the United States by P.T. Barnum as an attraction for his circus. Outside of their unusual markings this breed has the smallest fat globule of all breeds which makes it a wonderful choice if anyone in the family has lactose intolerance. They are gentle, great mothers and produce gallons of delicious milk without the use of grains.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book

The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking
is an excellent and comprehensive guide to learning or perfecting your skills at baking whole grain breads. From detailed instructions for a beginner loaf of whole wheat bread to recipes for Indian breads, sprouted grain loaves and gluten-free baking, this book is hands down the best book on bread I've ever come across. The book features page after page of troubleshooting ideas, explanations of what is going on in each step, and a conversational style that puts the reader at ease and inspires confidence. I only wish I had found this book during the year and a half that I tried (and usually failed) to make good bread out of a temperamental sourdough starter. I learned a lot from reading through the book, and I think I'll get even more from it as I start to try out the recipes.

If you have an interest in baking your own bread, or if you bake bread but aren't yet an expert at it or are just interested in getting even better, this book would be a great resource for you. The author does not require or recommend very many additives (which I find daunting and off-putting in many bread treatises) but does give detailed explanations for why she recommends certain types of flours, differences between store-bought and fresh-ground flours, and the like. I'd heartily recommend this book to you, and also suggest that if you have an interest in bread you stop by the farm shop to talk about it. The shop carries sourdough starters as well as a variety of grains and ingredients that are recommended in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.

Happy baking!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another Fermented Vegetable Dish

If you're familiar with Korean food at all you have doubtless tried kimchi, as the condiment appears at just about every Korean meal. When I was in middle school my family lived in Korea for two years, so I developed a taste for kimchi and was eager to try my hand at making my own. Using the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, I recently made three jars of kimchi and I'm trying to be patient to wait for it to reach full flavor before eating it!

I noted that the Nourishing Traditions recipe is somewhat different than kimchi recipes I've seen in other sources, so I will have to keep you posted about the flavor. I also elected to leave the cabbage in larger pieces rather than shredding it, because I've never had kimchi that was shredded. The downside to that was it was harder to pound out and there wasn't as much liquid as with the sauerkraut. I hope that won't have a negative effect on the outcome!

1 head cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup daikon radish, grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey

Place ingredients in a bowl and pound with a wooden mallet or meat hammer to release juices. Place in two quart-sized jars and press down with mallet or hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Note: Kimchi is also available at the Farm Shop if you'd like to try it!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Make Your Own Sauerkraut!

If you're making your own yogurt, you can make your own whey by straining the yogurt through a thin dishcloth or cheesecloth layered over a colander placed over a bowl. The resulting yogurt will be thicker like Greek yogurt, or if you leave it long enough will become an even thicker yogurt cheese which can be used like cream cheese in baking or for spreading. With the whey you strain from your yogurt, you can make your own fermented vegetables. Let's start with sauerkraut.


1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey

In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices. Place in a quart-sized jar and press down firmly with pounder or meat hammer until juices come tot he top of the cabbage. Be sure to leave AT LEAST one inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for three days before transferring to cold storage. The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but will improve with age.
As you can see in the picture above, a whole shredded cabbage starts out looking like a whole lot more than will fit in your quart jar, but once you've pounded it a bit it really will fit. Be sure you leave that inch of space - I had liquid leak out of my first jar because I didn't leave enough room for the fermenting process!

I lived in Germany for two years while I was in high school so I have a high appreciation for sauerkraut, but even if you're not used to eating it be assured that there are many ways to enjoy adding this condiment to your diet. You can use it on Reuben sandwiches, serve a small amount on top of a roast or pork chop, or use it as a nice accompaniment to sausages and potatoes. My aunt, who has never cared for commercially-produced sauerkraut, found she quite liked sauerkraut made in this traditional way, so even if you think you don't prefer the taste of sauerkraut, you might give this traditional version a try!

Ideally you should keep fermented foods in a cool dry dark place at about 40 degrees, like a root cellar. If you don't have a root cellar, the top shelf of your refrigerator will work fine!

The Farm Shop carries a number of supplies that will be helpful to you in making your own fermented vegetables. At the shop you can find butter muslin for straining yogurt or you can buy whey if you don't care to strain your yogurt. The shop also carries sea salt, and a variety of cultured vegetables if you want to try them before you decide to make them!

*Recipe taken from Nourishing Traditions (affiliate link)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Health Benefits from Cultured Foods

Did you know that you can preserve vegetables without freezing or canning them? Cultures all over the world use the process of lacto-fermentation to preserve foods and aid digestion. German sauerkraut, Russian pickled tomatoes and peppers, Korean kimchi, and Indian chutneys are just a few examples of foods traditionally made by converting sugars and starches into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative and inhibits putrefaction.

When traditional fermented foods entered the mass market, food producers typically left lacto-fermentation behind in favor of cheaper and faster methods of preservation, using vinegar for brine and then pasteurizing the product which eliminates all the beneficial effects on digestion. This is unfortunate, because lacto-fermentation offers a wealth of health benefits in addition to being a preservative.

The process of breaking down starches and sugars in lacto-fermentation renders the food highly digestible, and increases the amount of bio-available vitamins and enzymes in the food. Lacto-fermentation also provides the food with several antibiotic and anticarcinogenic properties, and promotes intestinal health.

The good news is that making your own fermented foods and condiments is quite simple! Stay tuned for most posts this week on how you can make your own sauerkraut!

Note: Information for this post was taken from Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Website Up and Running and a New Look for the Blog

If you read the Windy Acres Farm blog in a feed reader or via email, you may not have seen our new look! Both the main farm website and this blog have gotten a fabulous facelift and we would love for you to check it out.

Windy Acres Farm website

Windy Acres Farm blog

Monday, September 14, 2009

Catching up with our bodies

Today as I barreled down the road on my "leisurely" walk, the story of the Missionary and his African guides came to mind.

On his first trip to Africa to set up a mission in a remote portion of the country, a young, driven missionary met his guides in town. "How long will it take to get to the village?" he asked. "Seven days" came the reply from his guide. "Well, we'll make it five" stated in the missionary in no uncertain terms.

Throughout the next few days the missionary drove the group of villagers hard, resting little and barely stopping to eat. He refused to unpack the entire camp either to eat or to sleep. The trip was meager even though they had plenty of provisions. On the fifth day when the missionary rose early to get a good head start on the trail none of the villagers would rise to pack. Frustrated the missionary demanded that everyone pack the provisions and head out on the trail but no one moved. Finally he demanded from the guide "why won't you listen to me, we are close to the village and we have made very good time. We have saved ourselves two days of traveling."

The wise guide made his reply. "Good Sir, we have obeyed you these five days, but we have moved too fast. We can not hear our spirits calling us. We must wait here and our spirits will catch up to our bodies then we will go to the village together."

Doesn't it seem as though this world tells us to move faster, ignore what is before our eyes and to look forward to things that are not yet here? Our spirits are calling but if we are lucky we only hear the faint whisper and if it has been so long since we actually slowed down that we barely recognize the sound. Maybe our Great Great Grandmothers knew the sound. Maybe it is missing completely from our lives and our souls cry out for what we have never known.

Today, don't just eat, savor. Don't just hear, listen. Don't just pray, commune. Don't just survive, live.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More reasons to love maple syrup

In addition to being an excellent natural sweetener and far superior in taste and quality to knock-off grocery store syrup, real maple syrup offers excellent health benefits.

A mere two teaspoons (and don't tell me that's all you put on your pancakes!) of maple syrup contains .44 mg of manganese, which is 22% of your daily need for that mineral. Manganese is critical in maintaining a healthy immune system, is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory aid, and helps to control cholesterol. A serving of maple syrup also contains .55 mg of zinc, another immune system booster and aid for reducing cholesterol and lowering risk of prostate cancer.

As we head in to cold and flu season, it's good to know that using maple syrup as a natural sweetener can also boost our health!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Organic Cooking: Use Your Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a nourishing whole food and is a great addition to your organic cooking arsenal.  When you buy real maple syrup from local producers, you not only improve your family's diet, you also support sustainable farming.  Eat Local!

Arugula and Pear Salad with Maple Syrup Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups arugula leaves
1 pear unpeeled, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (3 ounces) blue cheese crumbled

In a small bowel,whisk together the maple syrup,mustard,vinegar,salt, and pepper. Whisking constantly,slowly add the oil; set aside. Arrange the arugula on individual plates and top with the pear and cheese. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Vanilla Ice Cream

3 egg yolks (be sure you use good quality eggs from a local farmer who raises healthy free range chickens…I would not recommend eating raw eggs from the grocery store)
1/2 cup real maple syrup
2-3 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon arrowroot (looks like cornstarch only it’s better for us)
3 1/2 cups heavy cream/whipping cream, preferably from raw milk, but for sure NOT ultra pasteurized
dash Celtic Sea Salt

Beat egg yolks and blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into ice cream maker and process according to instructions.

Whipping up half to all the cream and folding in the other ingredients helps to keep the ice cream from freezing rock hard.

Chocolate Ice Cream Variation

1/2 cup real maple syrup
3 egg yolks from free range chickens
3 1/2 cups heavy cream from raw milk
1 1/2 Tablespoon organic cocoa powder
dash sea salt

I think I liked chocolate the best, but they’re both dreamy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

What is the Difference Between Maple Syrup Grades?

A simple search on the Internet with this question brings up some of the most amazing and incorrect answers imaginable. I read articles that told how there were two different processes for making syrup and that the process used for making A syrup stripped it of all of it's nutrients. Someone posted that Grade B contains insect parts and A does not. The advice was all over the map so let's try to make some sense of all this information.

How Does Maple Syrup Get The Grade?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) assigns grades to the maple syrup sold in the the U.S. These grades are: Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B. The grading of syrup sold in the United States is voluntary (like USDA Beef Grading).

Grade A syrup is very light in color and has a faint, delicate maple flavor. It is usually made earlier in the season when the weather is colder. Many people use this grade for serving on pancakes. It is also widely used for making maple candies. I use it for pancakes and also for making things like any ice cream that shouldn't have an overpowering maple flavor.

Grade B, sometimes called Cooking Syrup, extremely dark in color and has a stronger maple taste as well as hints of caramel. Because of its strong flavor, this is predominantly used in baked goods.

I have found that small farmers who produce maple syrup stick to the same formula - Light and Medium Amber becomes Grade A and anything below is B. Once the syrup takes on a bitter aftertaste it becomes C. Most farmers though just stop producing at that time because you really have to have a lot of syrup for a large bakery to pick up your Grade C.

How to Use Maple Syrup

In general, maple syrup can be substituted for granular sugar in baked goods by following these rules of thumb: For each cup of granulated sugar, use 1-1/2 cup of maple syrup. Reduce other liquids in the recipe by about one-half. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of maple syrup. Decrease oven temperature by 25°F.

I hope this has helped to clear up some questions regarding grading. The bottom line for me: I keep both grades on hand and use the A for pancakes and for any cooking where a strong maple flavor would be out of place. For everything else, I use B.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Nourishing Traditions

If you only own one book about the natural/organic/whole food lifestyle,
Nourishing Traditions should be that book! It is an indispensable resource for organic cooking and natural living.  Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation wrote the book, which includes recipes, history, nutritional information, explanations of the hows and whys of whole food, and more. You will find this book to be an incredible resource in your kitchen, and an informative reference in your pursuit of a natural living. Even if you don't normally enjoy reading cookbooks cover to cover, you might find yourself compelled to do so with this volume.

If you have this book in your home library already, what are some of your favorite recipes or natural living tips from Nourishing Traditions?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.