Kitchen Freedom

So, usually I like to steer clear of politics, but I feel some of the bills on the table right now could severely impact our ability to have “freedom” in our food selection. While I'm sure we all have different convictions about what exactly is healthy, and or not, we all have the right to make those decisions for our families. We have the power to decide where we buy our meat from, and same goes for our produce. Small farms have the right to raise their animals in a way they see fit and best for the animal. The farmers and we as consumers have the freedom to pick what our animals have been feed, and what our produce has or has not been sprayed with. Personally, I like that freedom!

All of these things could change, however, if some of the proposed bills are passed through the house and congress. (disclaimer: I'm not blaming the Obama administration for any of these bills, many of terrible national regulations on small farms were started under the bush administration, and I don't blame him either, it is just an awful circumstance that will affect the whole nation, not just republicans or democrats, but our rights as citizens. So regardless of your political affiliation, this will affect you!)

Food, essential to our survival and health. No one can live without it, and when you eat Nourishing foods that breath life into the body, it produces life and health. When food is consumed for pleasure, convenience, taste, or cheapness, one is simply missing the point, and laying the ground work for illness, disease, and a general lack of health. We aren't meant to sustain our bodies on Cheetos, and I would love to see someone try. There are so many issues surrounding our food supply in this country. We, as a nation, have quickly forgotten, that food ISN'T for pleasure, but for survival. Quality food is step one in preventing illness and disease, not our HMO provider or annual physicals. Having the choice and the freedom to put truly nourishing food on our tables for our families is a great honor, and we have had the freedom to do this in our country.

We can buy our locally grown, organic or not produce from the farmer down the street, or the CSA just outside the city. We can buy beef or chickens from whomever we choose. We can build a relationship with the small farmers and learn about their animals or crops and why they feed them the way they do. We can buy raw milk (a life giving food) from a farmer who is certified to sell it, without fear of imprisonment. We can buy and sell heirloom seeds without wondering is our neighbor will turn us in to the feds for “seed saving.” We have these freedoms. Why? Because no one, and I mean no one totally controls the food supply in this country. The individual states have the right to govern the laws surrounding the food production within their own state. The Federal Government does not.

With the proposed legislation coming up for vote in the house, this could all change. HR 875. Have you heard of it? Probably not. I don't say that to be mean, but it has received no mainstream media attention. In fact, if you Google the bill, there is not a single major national media outlet that has even mentioned it! Why do I think that this is so outrageous? Simple, the bill lays the ground work to eliminate organic farming in this country, and the small family farmer, all in one swoop. The bill alone will threaten our freedom as consumers to purchase food from whomever we chose. The bill will institute organization to make regulations for the entire country. The protocol they develop will be required on all farms, no matter how large or how small. The goal of this bill, so they say, is to maximize “safety” in the food supply. While that is a goal that looks nice on paper and one that we all should support, we need to take a look at what the implications of this bill really means.

Once food safety protocol is determined farmers will have to comply. The bill will allow for inspections of all farms at any point in time, and unannounced to make sure compliance with the regulations is occurring. So, farmers will loose their ability to determine what is best for their animals, how to treat an ill animal, or even what to feed their animal. Farmers know best, not the federal government. If the federal government decides it is safer to plant all Monsanto crops and use Monsanto pesticides, that is what will have to be done, all in the name of safety of course.

The big picture here. When someone controls what we all need to survive, they have gained control of you! This is a very very big deal. Think about Wars that have been fought throughout the world. When the food is seized, the “prisoners” have little say in what they can eat... The federal government has no business being in our kitchens, determining what we should feed our families, or our family cow for that matter. There is much more to be said about this piece of legislation, but in the name of brevity, I will stop here. Please, please visit the links for more information, and get involved. Send a letter to your senator or representative. (note: I'm not saying that the large factory farming operations don't need more food safety requirements, just think peanut outbreak, but it isn't right for them to take advantage of that incident to take control over all the farms and our food supply in this country.)

The Actual Bill H.R. 875

Monsanto's Dream Bill

Free Speech TV covering the Bill

Federal Take over of Food

Coconut Cream Pie with Crust and Whipped Topping (Gluten-Free)

So, this isn't the healthiest thing on the face of the planet, b/c of the quantity of sugar, but it beats the heck out of a box or store bought dessert...and hey, it was for J's birthday! Awesome, awesome, awesome dessert! If you don't like the stringy texture of coconut, you can always omit from the custard. This recipe is completely starch free! Including the for those of you with Gluten allergies, you are in luck! Eat your heart-out! ;) For those with dairy issues, I hear you can use coconut cream in place of cream, and coconut milk in place of the milk....and you can always use coconut oil instead of butter! If anyone does the dairy substitutes please let me know how they turn out! ;)

1 3/4 cup heavy cream (preferably from grass-fed cows, and definitely not ultra-pasteurized!)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sweetened coconut shreds
2 egg yolks (or 1/4 cup flour or arrowroot to thicken)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the milk, cream, vanilla and coconut until it temps at 150. In a separate bowl combine the yolks, eggs, and sugar. Beat until combined. Make sure your cream mixture is still near 150 degrees. Add the cream mixture by 1/3 of a cup to the egg mixture stirring the whole time. Place all liquid back in the pot. Place on medium-high heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches about 158 degrees...10 minutes or so. When mixture has thickened remove from the pot and place in a bowl. Stir in the 1/4 cup of butter until melted, and place the whole bowl in an ice bath, stirring occasionally until cooled.

When mostly cooled, place in the refrigerator.

For the Crust
2 1/4 cups finely grated coconut
1/2 succanant
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 egg

place the coconut, sugar, melted butter and egg all in a bowl. Stir until combined. Press into a 9-9.5 inch pie crust. Pre-heat the oven and bake for 20 minutes on 350 or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Fill the crust with the custard and top with homemade whipping cream.

Whipping cream:
1/2 pint of cream
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Place the syrup and cream in a "frozen" mixing bowl and beat until stiff peeks form.

Thickening Agents

It is J's birthday today! In an effort to make him a delicious "cake" like substance to celebrate I resorted to one of his favorite pies! For those of you who don't know, J doesn't much care for cake, and much prefers pie. Pumpkin is his favorite, but Pumpkins aren't so much in season right now. Alas we found ourselves in the kitchen looking for a substitute for his favorite pie, that He, N and I could all enjoy together!

Coconut cream pie it was! J and I love it! The only problem was I wanted Noah to be able to have it. The recipe I had mad previously had corn starch or flour, or arrowroot in it, all of which, N can't have. So, I began a hunt for another thickening agent! I am happy to say, I found one that worked, how do I know it worked? The pie "sat" up!

So, I have discovered that Egg Yolks are a wonderful thickener for "custard" like substances or sauces, when you would usually have to use a starch in some variety. The trick is determining the amount of egg YOLK required. I emphasis Yolk, because the yolk is the thickener, and too much of an egg white in a recipe can really throw off the texture and flavor.

So, what do you do? In general for sauces or custards, omit up to 1/3 cup starch with 2 egg yolks. 1/3 of a cup b/c all starchs are used in different quantities. If a recipe only call for 2 Tbsp or less of starch, add one egg yolk.

The trick is in cooking. For "starch" thickeners it generally doesn't matter if the mixture comes to a ferocious boil, as long as it doesn't burn to the bottom, but when you are dealing with egg binders it does! You need to pay careful attention to the temperature. Don't allow your mixture to reach higher than 158 degrees or the egg separates. It is also important to slowly bring the egg up to temperature. Just like you premix your starch with cold water until dissolved prior to add to a hot mixture, you need to fully beat your egg yolks and than slowly add in a "warm" mixture 1/3 of a cup at a time to avoid "cooking" the yolk.

The mixture will thicken in several minutes at a temperature of 158 with constant stirring. Good luck and happy "starch free" foods! :)