Nourishing Food

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butter-three

Until the goats freshened and we began milking again this past summer, I had a niggling feeling about the children’s nutrition. Sure, they were getting all of the usual traditional foods but the goats had been dry for several months and I was just starting to wonder. It probably had something to do with the little comments here and there about how good a glass of milk sounded or how much they liked yogurt.

And now, this.

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Twice a day I can’t quite believe my eyes when I strain the milk… and skim the cream. I really, firmly believe that raw dairy products provide nourishment in ways that most other foods simply cannot. When you have milk, you have a meal, I sometimes say as I put whatever vegetables, beans, eggs, or meat we might have onto the table. And everyone gets a huge glass of milk.

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And now, with that cream, has come raw butter and raw sour cream (and maybe raw cream cheese soon). While some of us can eat store-bought grass-fed butter and cheese from time to time when the dairy animals are dry, Stewart and Elijah cannot. Pasteurized dairy almost immediately makes Stewart feel unwell. So to bring these foods that are not only tolerable, but down right medicinal, to their bodies… and to watch them liberally eat of such nourishment has been a really fulfilling and almost overwhelming experience.

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When I see that milk pail, it is a twice-daily reminder that we don’t deserve any of it, and yet God in His mercy created this animal to produce such nourishment and placed her right in our own backyard by His providential hand. And she has been such an easy cow – no kicking, no fighting, and even though we have messed up along the way, the Lord has allowed her to stay with us and nourish our family and with such delicious foods at that.

Such mercy it all is. Such mercy.

I don’t know how long Mabel is destined to be a part of our homestead but I am so very grateful for what she has, quite literally, brought to the table.

herbkraut

Joshie and I went to the Pallet Garden last week to see what everyone was up to. Planting garlic, it turned out, along with preparing a small hugelkutur bed. Most everything in that garden had been neglected through the hottest parts of summer and so the few tomatoes and collards that were left were sad at best, but mostly they were just done.

I did find a few exciting perennials in the mix of weeds, however. There was the ever-present stinging nettle, which you can see poking up in the bottom right corner of the top photo. And then there was the Tulsi which I promptly picked for afternoon tea and tipped the seed heads from to see if I could encourage further growth.

And then there were these garlic chives, overly mature but so tasty and begging to be picked.

With a few cabbages on the counter and a new fermentation weight I wanted to try out, kraut seemed the most logical use of the bowl we brought in. I do this a lot with herbs – fermenting them with cabbages and other lovely vegetables to preserve them while taking advantage of their yummy flavor.

But you can also ferment herbs all on their own, in their whole leaf and stem form or ground into a pesto-like paste. You can find recipes for these in Traditionally Fermented Foods.

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These fermentation weights, The Pickle-Pusher, were sent to me a couple of months ago but with the busyness of late summer gardening and such, I just got around to playing with them recently. The design idea is a great and original one. This green “weight” that you see above is actually not a weight at all, though the way it slides into the jar and fits so snugly is great all on its own.

But there is another aspect to the design. Do you see that hole in the middle of the weight? A stainless steel pin is screwed down into the jar through this and the “weight” held down with a great deal of security. According to their website:

“It will allow you to hold the contents of your fermenting or canning jar below the surface of the brine without bothersome weights. It will perform this task at many times the holding power of traditional weight systems! It also extends storage life by doing the same in the refrigerator once your jar is opened.”

It is really quite clever.

I am always a bit leery of much in the way of metal – even stainless steel – coming into contact with my ferments, though, so I forewent the pin and just used the “weight” element, filling the jar 80% full as I like to do, and allowing the brine to cover the weight by at least half an inch.

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A week later, we have some seriously tasty Garlic Kraut that will only get better as it sits on our counter. It’s been several months since we’ve had kraut, with the influx of cucumbers and okra that have needed pickling. And while I really enjoy those pickles and happily crunch away, I have come to find that a good kraut has my fermentation heart forever.

Which reminds me, I need to water the cabbages and radish babies tonight.

If you are interested in trying out The Pickle Pusher for simple, well-executed home fermentation, check out their website. And if you’d like more methods for fermenting fresh herbs, check out Traditionally Fermented Foods.

Note: I received a complimentary sample of The Pickle Pusher to try out. All thoughts and opinions are my own.