How to Make Fresh Milk Yogurt

May 29, 2010

How to Make Fresh Milk Yogurt
Fresh Milk Yogurt

    Ingredients:

Gallon of raw milk from pastured cow
2 TBS of yogurt starter (I prefer Natren powdered) or live cultured yogurt (no sugar added!!)

    Utensils:

Pan large enough to hold gallon of milk easily
Thermometer (I use a candy thermometer, because of its side clip)
Thermos (my 1 gallon Eddie Bauer thermos is perfect!)
Wooden or plastic spoon
Small bowl
Large tablespoon
Timer

    To begin:

Wash hands and all utensils well!! I cannot stress this enough! The old adage, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” applies here! Secondly, rinse everything well! You don’t want to kill the culture with leftover soap. Lastly, dry everything well (except the thermos)! You don’t want to kill the cultures with chlorine from the water.
Pour milk into pan and turn burner on to medium/medium-low heat. (I use the number 4 on my knob, with 5 being the middle)
Clip thermometer onto side of pan if using a candy thermometer, where the 110 degree mark is visible just above the milk.
Milk HeatingCandy Thermometer
As milk heats (stirring occasionally with wooden spoon), fill thermos with hot tap water and put the lid on. (This is to heat the thermos)
My Eddie Bauer Thermos
When milk reaches 110 (108-112) degrees, remove from burner and set timer for 5 minutes.
(Note: this temperature only applies to raw milk; Pasteurized milk is a whole different animal with a different set of rules and is bad for you, anyway -IMHO)
During the 5 minutes on the timer, pour water out of thermos and dry well. (I use a paper towel) Recap to retain heat.
Thermos Inside
Pour (powdered) yogurt starter or yogurt into the small bowl.
Starters
Adding 2 Tbs at a time, add milk to the yogurt starter, mixing well after each addition.
Add Milk to Starter
When a total of 6 Tbs have been added, slowly pour the mixture into the pan of milk and mix well.
Add Mixture Back to Milk
Carefully pour milk from pan into thermos and cap.
Pour Into Thermos
I put my yogurt on top of the fridge, wrapped in a large, thick bath towel, but any warm, undisturbed place will do. Culturing Spot
Let culture for 12 – 15 hours. (I usually make mine in the late afternoon and leave till early morning)
All Snug for the Night
Carefully remove from resting place and put in fridge. I usually leave it in there until the following morning.

    Straining the yogurt:

The first thing I do after removing it from the fridge is take out enough to fill a small jar (that has a tight fitting lid) and set it aside in the fridge as the starter for my next batch. This is to make sure there is no contamination, which could occur as the main container is moved in and out of the fridge for serving.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large pan (I use the pan I made the yogurt in) and line with clean cheesecloth, letting an ample amount hang over the side. Slowly pour yogurt from the thermos into the strainer until it’s approximately 3/4 full. Straining Through Cheesecloth
Cover the pan, then place more cheesecloth or a clean tea towel over the lid.
Straining Yogurt is Minimal Work!This can be left on the counter or set back in the fridge. The time for straining varies, but usually 2-3 hours works well. Carefully remove cheesecloth and pour and/or scrape yogurt into container with tight lid. Replace cheesecloth and repeat with remaining unstrained yogurt. Mix individual servings with fresh or frozen berries and enjoy!
It’s really not hard and the probiotic benefits are outstanding.

    Tips:

Once in a while I go back to the powdered starter, when my starter yogurt seems to stop functioning as well. Natren also sells the best (in my opinion) probiotics, which are kept cold from the time they are manufactured until they reach your home. (Needless to say, they belong in the fridge, as does the yogurt starter!)

“Won’t the milk go sour?”, you may ask. Well, somehow, in the wonderful process of the milk being cultured, it is kept from going bad. Also, fresh (raw) milk does not go bad. It may clabber or separate (curds and whey) or even turn sour, but it is still good and good for you. However, if you leave the milk that has been pasturized (common store milk) out, then it won’t go sour, it will go rancid and in a short time!! That’s why it has a bad smell to it. Rancid milk should never be consumed.
(Soured raw milk is wonderful in recipes that call for buttermilk)

If you buy cheesecloth that can be reused, rinse it well in cold water after using, then wash in the sink or machine with bleach. Store in sealable plastic bag or container when thoroughly dry.

And very importantly, don’t throw away what is strained off the yogurt! It’s called whey, and has many uses, but that will have to wait for another post. Pour it into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

There are other ways to make your own yogurt, so don’t let my way keep you from trying it.

This blog post is a part of the Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade.

Reposted from my Facebook Notes

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Menu for the Week

May 12, 2010

Really struggling with this blog thing, but praying that somewhere, somehow, someway it will help someone, someday. 🙂

Decided to do a menu plan for a week, just as an example of what we eat. This will give readers insight as to how we live out our dietary plan.

Monday
Breakfast: gluten-free steel cut oats, soaked overnight, butter, touch of honey or maple syrup and fresh cream
Lunch: salmon salad salad (salmon salad on green salad, homemade mayo)
Supper: meatloaf, summer squash (steamed), sliced cucumber

Tuesday
Breakfast: pancakes with butter and a little syrup or honey
Lunch: leftover meatloaf, salad
Supper: ham, sweet potatoes w/butter, salad

Wednesday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and sausage
Lunch: salad w/cubed ham
Supper: split pea soup made w/ham bone

Thursday
Breakfast: sausage quiche
Lunch: split pea soup
Supper: hot wings, cole slaw

Friday
Breakfast: eggs (fried or scrambled) and sausage
Lunch: sausage quiche
Supper: goat ribs, butternut squash

Saturday
Breakfast: sausage gravy and biscuits
Lunch: salmon salad
Supper: dirty rice (rice dish w/chicken livers), salad

Sunday
Breakfast: granola w/milk (dried oats, walnuts, pecans, raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes)
Lunch: ground buffalo pizza
Supper: egg salad sandwiches on sourdough bread

That’s a pretty good example of what we eat in a typical week. We don’t eat out and we don’t eat any pre-fab food (aka franken food aka processed food). I think it’s a good variety, although I’ve been trying to cut down on grains and legumes. It’s not that I think they aren’t good; it’s a personal decision. I try to always cook enough supper to have lunch the next day. Especially, because I have to send it with the working guys. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to come up with an alternate plan. Those times I fall back on my “emergency meal” recipes. I also try to cook extra when I make things like meatloaf, because it freezes well and comes in handy in a pinch (like not enough lunch!). I try to serve a lot of salad and change it up with different veggies. (When we first started, most of our meals ended with “served on a bed of lettuce” :D) Sometimes we just use flax oil and ground up spices, lime juice, or a little apple cider vinegar. Sometimes I use homemade mayo or ranch. Since I bought an immersion blender, mayo is a snap.

To clarify, all meat is grass-fed with the exception of things like crab legs or salmon, though we only buy wild Alaskan (preferably sockeye) salmon. Farm raised fish is fed, yep, soy and corn. It’s in everything else, why not the fish?! Also, all dairy products are grass-fed and are raw (fresh) and our eggs are fresh (milk and eggs come from the same farm). I try to buy organic vegetables when possible and try to buy from the farmer’s market or veggie stand. All grains are either sprouted or soaked. All nuts are soaked and toasted overnight in a warm oven. Some of this stuff I get from the Nourishing Traditions book or from the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). We only use natural sweeteners. I try to use stevia when possible, but we do use Grade B syrup and raw honey.

I do buy some of our food from our local co-op group. I buy things like split peas, canned sockeye salmon, nuts, coconut oil, etc. (If you live in my area, it’s free to join!) I also shop at the Nutrition Stop and once in a while go to Whole Foods.

These are some of the ways we choose to eat better. What do you do? I’d love to hear how you incorporate better food choices into your lives!


Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

May 8, 2010

I decided to break from the information blogging and post a recipe from our Saturday morning breakfast.

Wild Boar Sausage Gravy

1 lb. grass-fed sausage
2 Tbs virgin coconut oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup spelt flour
2+ cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Since I hadn’t planned on making this, I didn’t have my sausage thawed out. I first put 2 Tbs of coconut oil (you can use grass-fed butter or olive oil) in a frying pan. Then I took the (wild boar) sausage out of the package and put it in the pan, turning it on very low (#2 on my electric stove) and putting a lid on it to steam it, stirring occasionally to “scramble” the sausage.
Sausage thawing/cooking
While that was thawing/cooking, I started my biscuits. This biscuit recipe came from Wardeh at Gnowfglins, with a couple of my own tweaks.

Spelt Biscuits

4 cups spelt flour (whole grain, white, or sprouted; I used sprouted, sifted)
1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
3 tsp baking powder (I use Hain brand made with potato starch, rather than corn)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups raw milk + 1 Tbs whey (I used 1 1/2 cups raw sour milk and no whey; it tastes great and is a good way to use up your raw sour milk)

Preheat oven to 450*
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Flour in bowl
Add coconut oil and cut in until coconut oil is the size of small peas. (You can use a pastry cutter, but I prefer to do it by hand)
Virgin Coconut Oil
Add milk and mix until dough forms. Dough should not be too stiff nor too sticky. It should be easy to work with. Pat dough into large round and set on counter.
Pat dough into round
I usually continue patting and flattening the dough out with my hands and then smooth with a couple of rolls with my rolling pin. The thickness should be about 1/2 inch thick.
Roll 1/2 inch thick
Using large biscuit cutter or open end of drinking glass, cut biscuits out and place on baking sheet. (My pan does not stick, but if this is a problem you can either grease your pan or use parchment paper)
Place on baking sheet
Place biscuits in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or till golden brown. While biscuits are baking, finish sausage gravy. Add flour to sausage.
Add flour to sausage
Stir till oil/grease is absorbed.
Stir till grease is absorbed
Let cook for 2-3 minutes (still on #2 heat), then add milk. (I forgot to measure, so the 2 cups is a guesstimate; start with 2 cups and add more if needed)
Add milk
Mix well, then increase heat to medium high (#5 on my electric stove). Continue cooking, stirring often, until gravy thickens to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook till thickened
Remove biscuits from oven. I like to put (grass-fed) butter on the tops when I first remove them.
Butter tops
Slice biscuits, cover with gravy and enjoy! Eat well to be well!
Biscuits with sausage gravy


Where to go from here

May 4, 2010

I thought by starting my blog I would be compelled to post on it often. Now I sit here with something akin to writer’s block. It’s hard to know where to even start. There are so many things I want to share, so many things I’ve learned, so many things wrong with the SAD (Standard American Diet), and so many wonderful things out there to replace it! One of the things that’s had a high priority for me is candida. Or, an anti-candida diet, to be more specific. You see, candida is something I keep coming back to again and again in my search for better health. At first, I thought the problem was with molds and fungi outside of the body. (In our environment and also in the foods we consume) A good website to learn more about this is Know the Cause. Lots of straightforward info there. As I began to understand the problem with mold and fungi (and especially mycotoxins) in our food, I began to avoid things like corn and corn products, soy and soy products, and wheat (as in, whole wheat). These are foods that are very prone to mycotoxins and a certain amount are allowed in our food products. Since then, I’ve learned that soy, often touted as a “health food” wreaks havoc on the thyroid. This website provides some good information about soy.

What are mycotoxins? Myco = fungus; toxins = poison. Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi. At the same time I learned about the levels of mycotoxins allowed in corn and wheat for human consumption, I also leaned the levels allowed for animal consumption was much higher. This is the food fed to animals in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). This is the meat you buy at the grocery store. Their diet is partly why they are continually fed antibiotics. It was at this point I learned about grass-fed meat. Grass-fed meat is just what it sounds like; animals that graze on grass! This is what God designed them to eat and to lock them up and feed them corn and grain (and waste products!) is to invite sickness and disease. (God’s plan is always perfect!) Though I normally advocate buying locally, for reasons I will get into later we order our grass-fed meat, cheese and butter from Slanker’s. Ted Slanker has a lot of good information on his website regarding why you should be eating grass-fed meat. Aside from the antibiotics and hormones, grain fed animals produce a meat that has a skewed ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. Grass-fed meat supplies the same Omega 6:3 ratio as Alaskan salmon. Nearly perfect! (The Omega imbalance is another subject I plan to address, since it contributes to many of the illnesses we see today)

To get back to candida, I keep finding information (on which I plan to elaborate, citing references) that seems to say the same thing. And though nothing is ever this simple, this is my simplified version of what I see happening:

Diet high in refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour top the list) and overuse of antibiotics

which leads to…

Overgrowth of yeast/candida, causing things like candidiasis

which leads to…

Leaky gut syndrome

which leads to…

Poor immune function/autoimmunity

which leads to…

(fill in the blank with any modern day illness or disease)

From dandruff and toenail fungal infections to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Even more astonishing, many mental illnesses are attributed to the same source. Everything from ADD to Autism to Alzheimer’s. Of course, the problems with mold/fungi and Omega 3 deficiency, along with rampant antibiotic use in animals (yes, the antibiotics are in the meat you eat), all contribute to the problems, as well.

Something that I found very interesting is all the people who are having problems with wheat. Why is that? Have people always had problems with wheat? Is it because wheat is more readily available now or is there something wrong with the wheat (i.e., the mycotoxins)? I think it goes back to the beginning of my simplified outline. Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) is where the food allergies start. Does the wheat contribute to the candidiasis overgrowth leading to LGS? That question is too complex to answer in this post! But the solution is obvious. Eliminate wheat from the diet. This is what many people are finding they must do. But is it treating the cause or just a symptom? If gluten sensitivity/intolerance is a food allergy caused by LGS, then a gluten free diet is only treating a symptom. The LGS will not be healed until the yeast/candida/fungal overgrowth is dealt with. Unfortunately, candida infections are not something people usually want to discuss. But if you typically eat the SAD and you have used antibiotics, chances are you have an overgrowth. Especially if you don’t supplement with a high quality probiotic or eat foods with probiotics, like yogurt. A live-culture sugar-free yogurt, that is! (Sugar feeds yeast)

That was probably a lot of boring information, but it is important for good health. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post some recipes with pictures soon. For now, eat well!


Being Conformed

May 2, 2010

Being conformed. I tried really hard to think up a good blog name. Something that was descriptive of me and covered what I wanted to blog about. Came up with a few, mostly cutesy ones. (All the ones with words like zealot, rebel, and extreme were taken) Even asked a few friends and family for their thoughts and suggestions. But I never asked what anyone thought of Being Conformed, even though, to me, that best defines who I am. And though I am continuously being conformed, first and foremost, I am being conformed to the image of Christ (per Romans 8:29). And though this blog was created to share with others my journey into healing through the means of dietary changes, it is my hope that God will be glorified in it. Because, ultimately, He is the reason for the changes.

So what kind of things might you expect to read about here, if you happen to read my blog? Lots of great stuff, in my opinion! Stuff like how the food you eat affects your mind and body. Ideas for how to implement the foods that promote good health and avoid those that hurt you. Recipes I’ve found that are helpful, recipes I’ve adapted, even recipes I’ve created! How little changes make big differences. And resources! What’s a blog without resources?

Most of what you read here will be information you can find elsewhere on the web and in other blogs. But this blog is about how my life was radically changed, is being changed, through the things I’ve put into practice. Through the things God has taught me. And those other sites? Well, consider them proof that I’m not part of some lunatic fringe. Lunatic fringe…that might have made an interesting blog name! (Nah, probably taken)

Please be patient with me as I enter the new-to-me world of blogging. I will try to focus more on content than looks design aesthetics. My desire is to help others find their way to better health, even optimum health. And even though I include all readers in that statement, I believe it should be a priority for those who know and serve the Lord. Because how we feel physically AND mentally will affect our service to Him.

This paragraph is especially written to those who are overweight and have struggled for years. Overweight and obesity are not simply a matter of willpower or self-control. We can lose weight through all the many diets available, but how often are the results lasting? (Is the term “human yo-yo” familiar to you?) And how many times is health sacrificed for the sake of a certain size? I well know the embarrassment and shame of being overweight. It has affected my life more than any other illness I’ve encountered. But I want to share some good news! (Not THE Good News, but SOME good news) The good news is there are forces at work in your body that are preventing you from losing weight. Overweight and obesity ARE a disease of the body. Fix those problems and the weight will balance itself out. Am I hawking some diet aid or meals in a can/box? No. Am I promoting some weight loss fad? No. Can I show you pictures of fantastic weight loss? No. But if you’ve tried everything else (or even if you haven’t) and you’re sick to boot, what have you got to lose? (Pun intended) In fact, I challenge everyone who reads this blog with that question.

WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?!!

(Hmm, another good potential blog name!)

Seriously, what have you got to lose? I understand the lack of interest (I use to feel the same way), yet I don’t understand if someone is suffering from pain and sickness, why they wouldn’t give this a try. I mean, how hard is it to alter your diet? It’s not like I’m suggesting you try some epsom salt diet or try some new prescription drug with who-knows-what kind of side effects or long term damage! (“Side effects may include swelling hair, nostril imbalance, delusions, misplacement of the mind, and temporary to permanent out-of-body experiences”) I promise it’s not hard. If I can do it, anybody can! Honest! I don’t like hard things. It’s not as time consuming as you might think and as you begin to feel better (free from pain) and have more energy, you may even want to move on to more involved aspects of food preparation. (I haven’t arrived there yet)

I will end this post with a list of health problems I or my husband have been healed of through our dietary changes.

  • Arthritis (moderate, both knees, diagnosed and “treated” with synvisc shots -so painful!- and far too many NSAIDs)
  • Fibromyalgia-like pain (never diagnosed, but whatever it was, it was extremely painful and debilitating)
  • Depression (who wouldn’t be at this point in the list?)
  • ADD (yes, I took the meds and yes, my mind is now working just fine without them)
  • Allergies (my husband suffered from them all his life to a painful degree; now he drives home from work with the windows down – unless it’s raining! – even on high pollen days)

My husband is losing more weight than I am. I think he eats better (allows more variety), so I think my contributing problems are worse. (No! I’m not talking about self-control!) So stay tuned, because help is on the way!!

And if you would like me to give you one piece of advice to start you on your journey to wellness, it’s this:

STOP EATING SUGAR!! NOW!!

Seriously! Do it and see how much better you feel in 3 days. Just don’t replace it with pink, blue, or yellow poison.