Category Archives: Self Reliance

Book Review – The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast

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I have recently read the book “The Art of baking with Natural Yeast,” by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson. 10 years ago, I was asking myself “Why is milk, once one of the main staples of civilization, now condemned as “bad” by many medical professionals, including natural doctors who should know better? What has changed?” The answer to that question came pretty easily, since milk processing is pretty obvious. Milk, once straight from the cow/goat/etc. is now pasteurized, homogenized, and then even ultra pasteurized in some cases. Anyway, those same questions came to my mind about bread. Once considered the staff of life, now even whole wheat bread (which should be more healthy, because it is a whole food) causes a myriad of health issues, (sometimes even more so than white bread because of the use of rancid flour) and it is not so easy to see the answer. It can’t be easily explained by GMO or hybridization, because people with allergies to wheat or with gluten sensitivities often can’t even tolerate heirloom varieties of grains, even if they soak them and/or grind their own flour. So over the last while, I had been asking myself “What has changed?” This book has an answer to this question that actually makes sense.

The Authors assert that in 1984, all of the yeast produced by commercial industry went completely synthetic to accommodate industry and consumers who wanted quick rising yeast, and now many of the problems associated with bread and grains are actually a reaction to the synthetic yeast as well as the lack of soaking or pre-digesting more than it is a reaction to the grains themselves. I knew that un-soaked grains were a problem, but the issue of the synthetic yeast was new information for me. Natural yeast is made up of lactobactili and wild yeasts much like the bacteria found in kefir grains. (This makes it a probiotic strain of bacteria, and so it does not cause the same issues for people with candida and systemic yeast overgrowth.) When the yeast in breads changed, the sensitivities to wheat and gluten skyrocketed. Not to say their were not some problems before that point, but before that, these conditions were rare. Anyway, with natural yeast, the dough must have between 6 and 24 hours to properly rise, and during that time, natural yeast not only breaks down the phytic acid in the flour, but it also pre-digests the gluten without losing the elasticity of the dough. Quick rise synthetic yeast, which can rise in an hour or less does neither of these things. In the book the authors state that “several people with celiac disease have tried bread made with natural yeast and told us that they had no reaction to it.”

Another interesting study referred to in the book cites research done on natural yeast that found that people who ate a piece of bread made with natural yeast had a lower glycemic reaction to the carbohydrates in their food, even hours later. As it says in the book, “one woman in Pleasant Grove, Utah recently told us that her husband, who is severely diabetic, was able to eat bread for the first time in years with no glycemic spike when she began making bread for him with a start of natural yeast we gave her.”  This could explain the sharp increase in obesity and diabetes over the last 3 decades.

Also, bread made with natural yeast is actually a living food! How? Because the heat of baking stimulates the yeast to send out spores right before it dies, which can survive even the most uninhabitable environments. Once the temperature gets back to a safe level, the spores hatch and repopulate the yeast colony inside the bread. (something that I did not know before.) The co-author tells about how she discovered this with a great stoke of humor, and little things like this made the book a lot of fun to read 🙂 at the end of this section, she says, “So next time you take your Frankenbread out of the oven, you can hold it in the air and cackle, “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” Or you can just eat it, but where’s the excitement in that?”

Another great point that the authors made was that bread was the STAFF of life, and not the CRUTCH of life, meaning that it was never the main part of the meal, and if you can’t have a meal without bread or grains, then you are relying on your staff way too much. Caleb has a yeast starter that comes from a 100+ year old start of pioneer yeast, and he will send a start of this yeast for free to anyone who buys his book – all you have to do is send him a request with a self addressed stamped envelope. The yeast is an actual yeast start, and not a sourdough starter, and so it looks, tastes, and smells like yeast bread.

I hope that you all will find this as useful as I did! Not only was it very useful and enlightening, it was a fun read. 😀





In Search of a Cure for the Common Cold and other Maladies

Let’s face it, most people’s health insurance isn’t what it used to be. But that has been a blessing in disguise for my family. When my husband dropped his health insurance because it was going to cost over $600 a month for insurance with a $5,000 deductible, that turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of my life, and for my family.

How could that possibly be a blessing? Well, as it turned out, having cushy health insurance was impeding my growth, and causing my family to suffer needlessly. If someone got a cold, we did what everyone does – we bought cough syrup, decongestants, and nasal strips, and if it got really bad and turned into strep or an ear infection, we went to the doctor and got antibiotics.

Don’t those things help you get better faster? Well, I used to think so, but no health insurance for a couple of years introduced me to God’s medicine cabinet, and what’s in there trumps all of the regular stuff! 90% of any family illnesses are 100% curable or preventable, and in less than half the time (probably even a fraction of the time) it takes to go through a course of antibiotics. Having no health insurance led me to the elusive cure for the common cold.

So why ain’t I freakin’ rich by now? I would have thought so, but no – that is another thing I learned. It’s not the kind of thing that anyone can make a lot of money from really. And that is exactly why the health industry has lied to us about it for so long. And that is why what I am about to tell you is something that no one in the health industry really wants you to know. In fact, if you attempt to tell your doctor about this, they will tell you it’s nuts, that it couldn’t possibly work, that it’s snake oil, that it’s just the placebo effect, or that this kind of experimentation on your kids is irresponsible parenting.

99% of all the things you go to the doctor or use pharmaceuticals for can be easily taken care of at home in a fraction of the time and with no side effects. With just a few simple ingredients. Your run of the mill colds, flu, stomach flu, earaches, strep throat, pink eye, and food poisoning (a lot more common than most people realize) take up most of our doctor visits. We limp around on sprains and suffer with minor burns, cuts and bruises a lot longer than we need to. In the last 10 years, the only things we have been to the doctor for were stitches (2 times, same kid) and x-rays to make sure no bones were broken after a couple of playground escapades – one involving a teeter-totter, and another after a bike accident – and for my oldest son who had a non-cancerous bone growth last year. I was very grateful for doctors on that one, but even stitches are up for debate now, if doing it myself will save time and grief. I have done one set of scalp stitches, because the scalp isn’t very sensitive and it’s hidden under hair, so scarring isn’t as big of an issue.

Here is a list of the things that I have found to be very effective for treating some of the most common ailments:

Colds and flu: Prevention is the cure. Most human beings cannot synthesize vitamin C. In studies of disease over 50 years ago, it was found that in cases where people had died of infectious disease, there were no traces of vitamin C left in the tissues of the deceased. People with higher the levels of vitamin c in their body tissues were more resistant to disease. Megadosing vitamin C really can prevent or eliminate an oncoming cold or flu. But it isn’t that simple. The thing is the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is only about 100mg for an adult. The problem is that this is the bare minimum. Most people need much more than that, at least 10 times more, and we are not getting it from our food. Even if we are eating really healthy we generally won’t get enough because the soils are depleted of nutrients and the vitamins are simply not there. Even if you grow the food yourself, unless you have properly amended your garden soil, there will not be enough of the right nutrients in the soil for you to get enough vitamin C without supplementing. The second problem is that simply taking vitamin C on its own does not give you the additional nutrients needed to absorb the vitamin C, and your body eliminates it. Problem 3 – most vitamin supplements are in tablet form and contain fillers and additives that prevent them from being absorbed in any significant amount. The best supplements will be capsules with natural forms of pure vitamin C that contain bioflavinoids. Even with the perfect vitamin C supplement, you will not absorb enough vitamin C by just taking vitamin C only to help prevent a cold. This is the main reason people think that megadosing doesn’t work. The key is that the body is unable to absorb vitamin C without enough fatty acids. Fat is a wonderful thing – it carries nutrients, both vitamins and minerals into the cells where it can actually be used. Vitamin C should be taken along with fat soluble vitamins. I have found that if I take 4,000mg of vitamin C with 4,000iu of vitamin E, or a couple of teaspoons of high quality cod liver oil it speeds up the healing process much faster. I have not had a full blown cold in 5 years, and I used to get a good case of the cold/flu at least twice a year that lasted 2 to 3 weeks, culminating in my losing my voice for at least 1 of those weeks. Not any more!

Stomach flu: The trick with stomach flu is to catch it early. Stomach flu is bacterial and often the result of eating something bad. I read somewhere once that 90% of all stomach flu is food related. When I thought about that, I decided to try some things that kill parasites and other pathogenic type bacteria. If you catch it early before it moves into the intestines, it is easier to get rid of. Taking a dropper each of black walnut extract and olive leaf extract in a glass of orange juice has always knocked out a flu bug within minutes. Just what you needed – kids bouncing off the walls again! If it has moved farther along, you may need to take a few more doses for it to work, and you will want to add some slippery elm bark powder in capsules to slow down any diarrhea, and some oregano oil (also in capsules) to help kill any stubborn bacteria that got stuck down in there. Also add some probiotics like kefir to rebuild the gut flora.

Earaches: Earaches are easily knocked out with a little garlic oil or tea tree oil mixed in to some olive oil or other carrier oil. Simply put a clove of garlic through a garlic press, mix with olive oil, and strain. Add a few drops of  tea tree oil, and put it directly into the ear. It helps to put a cotton ball in the ear to keep the oil from draining out. It sometimes takes about 20 minutes to an hour for permanent relief, but usually relief is almost immediate.

Strep throat: When I first started treating strep with herbals, I actually swabbed the back of my throat with tea tree oil using a cotton swab.  it was dreadfully unpleasant, but it had immediate results. My kids even did it to themselves because they couldn’t stand the sore throat any more. Since then, i have found gargling with colloidal silver gives similar results, and if you have a stubborn strep, add a few drops of tea tree oil and a couple of dashed of sea salt. For younger children, sweet birch oil works better, because it has a better flavor than tea tree oil, but it kills bacteria almost as well.

Pink eye: a few drops of colloidal silver in the eye a few times a day, or use one dropperful of Dr. Christopher’s herbal eyebright mixed into about an ounce of colloidal silver. That mixture is faster acting and you can get rid of pinkeye without antibiotics in about a day. If one kid gets pinkeye, treat them all because it spreads FAST!

Food poisoning: Treat just like the stomach flu.

Sprains and Briuses: an infusion of arnica flowers in olive oil does wonders for sprains. Arnica is a strong anti-inflammatory and does wonders in reducing swelling. Pack a glass jar with arnica flowers and then cover the flowers with a carrier oil. Allow it to sit in a warm sunny place for a few days, the longer the better. You can use this oil to rub into bruises and sprains.

Minor burns: A mixture of the arnica oil with aloe vera gel and St. Johns wort essential oil, also known as hypericum and a few drops of wintergreen will cool and sooth the pain. This is a great combination for sunburns and other minor burns.

Minor cuts: Bleeding can be stopped by putting cayenne pepper on a cut. Once the bleeding has stopped, a good herbal ointment with a good mixture of soothing, and anti-inflamitory herbs like arnica, a pain relieving herb like cloves or st.johns wort, and a cell proliferator like comfrey and slippery elm adds healing properties. It should also have a good antibacterial like oregano to prevent infection. Every family should have a good multipurpose herbal salve in their first aid kit.

With these simple remedies on hand, our family has gone a good long time without the need for professional medical services.

This was posted on Mind Body and Sole, Wildcrafting Wednesday!

20 Things to do With Soured Raw Milk or Cream

Raw milk or cream sours much differently from commercially prepared milk or cream. In commercially prepared milk, the product has been pasteurized, or heated at high temperatures, to kill any bacteria that may have been in the milk. As a result, not only are the pathogens killed, but also the beneficial bacteria that aid your body in digesting the milk, as well as the enzymes and most of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and magnesium which help you body absorb the calcium in the milk. This is why artificial vitamin D is added to milk – to replace what was destroyed in the pasteurization process. Also, the milk is usually also homogenized, or forced through a screen that breaks the cream into unnaturally small particles so that it will not separate.

Because of this, pasteurized homogenized milk is much different from farm fresh milk straight from the cow. Milk that has undergone this type of processing putrefies as it sours because for one, it is a blank slate so to speak, and any wild bacteria floating around in the air can settle in the milk. In our environment many types of bacteria are commonly found which can become pathogenic, or dangerous, under the right conditions. These bacteria – e-coli, campylobacter, staphylococci, salmonella, and others – are common and generally benign in our environment until they find the right media in which to grow. Pasteurized milk provides an ideal environment, where unpasteurized milk contains many beneficial bacteria which naturally inhibit the growth of these types of pathogenic bacteria.

Try this: Set two jars of milk out on the counter in a warm location for several days – one pasteurized milk and the other raw or unpasteurized milk. The pasteurized milk will begin to stink, while the raw milk will generally have a more mild cheese like smell. The pasteurized milk would be dangerous to drink, while the raw milk would be perfectly safe, even if you did not find the flavor pleasant. Many traditional cultures actually did drink their milk clabbered, and even preferred it that way.

For pasteurized milk of course, there is really only one thing that you can do with it once it has reached this point unless you want to risk becoming seriously ill – throw it out! Soured raw milk on the other hand can be used for many things. Of course you could drink it, but many people now are unaccustomed to the sour flavor of clabbered milk, so I have put together a list of 20 things that you can do with raw milk or cream that has unexpectedly gone south while you weren’t watching.

  1. Use the whey, or the clear liquid that separates from the milk, to soak nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, which makes the nutrients in these foods more readily digestible. You only need a tablespoon or two to add to the water that you are using to soak your grains. After the grains have soaked for 24 hours, cook them as you normally do before using them.
  2. Mix soured milk into pancake batter, biscuits, or quick breads in place of buttermilk or other liquids called for in the recipe.
  3. Mix soured cream into scrambled eggs or eggs used for french toast before cooking them.
  4. Mix soured cream into mashed potatoes instead of milk
  5. Add a little buttermilk culture and set it out on the counter for another day – then gently heat the milk until it curdles and then strain, add a little fresh cream and salt – viola, cottage cheese!
  6. Add a little buttermilk culture and allow it to sit until fully separated. Then strain soured milk in cheesecloth until you have cream cheese.
  7. Use the soured cream on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
  8. Warm slightly soured milk on the stove top and add cocoa powder and raw honey or raw cane sugar for a delightful cup of creamy hot chocolate.
  9. Use soured cream to make white sauce or cheese sauce
  10. Use it to make kefir or yogurt
  11. Use a dollop of soured cream to top a baked potato or a bowl of chili
  12. Add seasonings to the cream and turn it into a yummy ranch dip for veggies.
  13. Whip slightly soured cream with a bit of cream cheese and raw honey for a delightful whipped topping for fruit filled crepes
  14. Make mozzarella cheese – it’s easier than it sounds!
  15. Add a little buttermilk culture to slightly soured cream, allow it to sit on the counter for a day, and then pour it into your food processor or blender and make it into cultured butter.
  16. Throw it into the blender with berries an a banana to make a yummy smoothie
  17. Use the soured milk or cream in any recipe that calls for milk – pumpkin pie, clam chowder, etc.
  18. Treat your pets, chickens, pigs.
  19. Pour it on your compost pile.
  20. Put a cup of sour milk in a gallon of water and spray it on your garden for a fabulous fertilizer.

I am sure that there are many other things that you could make or do with sour raw milk or cream – experiment and be creative! – but this should be a good start for those of you who are wondering “What do I do with this now!?”

How to make mozzarella: – It is not necessary to microwave the curd – just drain the curd, heat the whey to about 175 F  and use heavy kitchen gloves to hold the cheese ball under the water for several seconds, then remove it and stretch it; if it breaks repeat the process, but do not leave the cheese in the boiling water or it will dissolve into the water and you will lose your cheese!