What is this “Farina” you speak of?

Hot goop on a cold, cold day! (sung to the tune in my head)

Farina n. flour or meal made of cereal grains, nuts, or starchy root

Farina looks like cream of wheat. Um, more accurately, one could say cream of wheat is farina. It’s white and smooth and oh, so good! Guess what though? I just found out it doesn’t always have to be! No? Yes!

I went on my investigation for whole wheat farina as I said I would here and found that it can be purchased for a minimum of $1.69/lb. for the organic variety.  Sickening. Non-whole wheat farina is about $.89/lb in the bulk bins at NewPi. I fretted too soon though! On further exploration I stumbled upon Wardeh’s blog where she mentions having purchased whole wheat farina just to realize she could make her own for a lot less money. I took her tips, made them my own and voila! We had whole wheat farina for dinner last night. No, please, hold the applause. Thank you.

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I started with two cups of hard wheat berries which run approx. $.99/lb. if my memory serves me. I threw them into my blender, turned it up pretty high for about 30-40 seconds and boom! I had farina. It was a little hardier than we’re use to and I may blend it finer next time, but it was still good and the baby ate it which is my real kitchen test.

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On Wardeh’s suggestion I used three cups of water to one cup of farina. The water should should be brought to a boil before adding the grains. I generally add raisins to the water so they have time to rehydrate and plump up. Stir in the meal and turn heat to low. Allow cereal to simmer for approximately ten minutes stirring a few times to prevent sticking. When cereal is dome serve and add sweetener and toping of your choice! We went with milk, honey, cinnamon, and ginger along with the raisins last night. It was tasty and inexpensive to boot!

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Think about it everyone. You’re getting the whole grain this way. Nothing has been removed or altered. This is good, honest eating.

Some other topping ideas could be: agave, stevia, dried cherries, craisins, apricots (dried or not), strawberries, cocoa powder, dates, carob chips, chopped almonds or walnuts, etc. The possibilities are endless. It is truly an artists canvas.

For those of you who remember me mentioning that Erik doesn’t think this qualifies as dinner, don’t worry. He knows how to make any meal his own!

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For Your Information…

Good News! The FDA has finally approved stevia! All I can say is it’s about time.

Diabetics of the world rejoice! (and all others trying to cut out refined sugars)


For Your Information

Sorry for my absence. Inara is on day five of her fever/cold and I’m trying to focus all my leftover energy into getting the condo selling ready. Thanks for your understanding. :)

Here’s some stuff I know and now you do too:

*30 plant varieties feed 95% of the world’s population. Does that sound like a balanced diet to any of you? It sure doesn’t to me. It also doesn’t sound very friendly to the soil!

*Almost 40% of Americans have at some point in their lives consumed cold pizza for breakfast. The other 60% are lying.

*Nutella, oh, that sweet delicious spread, is sold in over 75 countries and-get this- is more popular that peanut butter! Try some from the freezer. Yum!

*JJ Abrams and Joshua Jackson together? What a treat. I like Fringe.

*A fresh egg will sink when placed in water. A not so fresh (stale) egg won’t.

*The largest earthworm ever found was a freakish 22 feet long. Yuck!

Remember, this is a give and take segment. I shared with you, now you share with me!

What do you know?


For Your Information

First off, sorry I haven’t been writing more. I think my brain suffers more than you do though cause it’s bursting with information it wants to share! We’re trying to get the condo ready to put on the market so that’s what I’ve been working on in my overabundance of free time. I hope to be able to write more regularly again soon!

Okay, on to some random facts…

*Giraffes sleep only two out of every twenty-four hours. I think that’s why they use their heads as weapons: cause they’re too tired to remember what a headache it will result in!

*Doctors at the UofVA just finished up a study on bees and pollution in an effort to figure out this colony collapse disorder nightmare. One thing they discovered according coauthor Jose D. Fuentes is that “Air pollution destroys the aroma of flowers by as much as 90%.” Suck.

Speaking of bees, I told Erik that I want to have a bee hive in the yard when we buy a house. He’s in no way keen on the idea cause he’s convinced people will get stung. The next day I discovered that bees are nesting in the siding by our door on the patio. I was pretty amused.

*Sloths in the wild sleep nine and a half hours a day. Sloths in captivity sleep up to fifteen and a half hous a day. What bums!

*Over a 28 day period, your vinyl shower curtain will leak 108 potentially harmful chemicals into the air according to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice. That’s what that crazy smell is when you open the package on a new shower curtain- you know the smell I’m talking about! It’s a bunch of chemicals from the PVC. If we don’t drink out of bottles that have been warmed and cooled anymore, why do we steam a big sheet of it right next to our naked bodies? I’ll tell you why: cause the alternative is to use a heavy cotton or bamboo cloth curtain instead and my dear husband is none too keen on that idea either.

*Another study, this one published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, has finally cleared 100% fruit juice of the “making kids fat” reputation it’s carried. Turns out it’s only those not 100% juices, you know, the ones with added sugar, that are the real culprits. Go figure. 

*Garlic works better at lowering your cholesterol than even Lipitor. Hmmm… God’s knowledge vs. Man’s knowledge…

*I have now put 43 bins worth of stuff in storage and because of the small space we live in it feels great!

What Do You Know? Please Share!


Okra

I love okra. It’s true. I can’t wait until I’ve frozen enough to be able to make a nice vat of Chicken Gumbo. I’ll be sure to share the recipe and pictures when the time comes!

Okra is generally a plant grown in the south although it can be grown quite nicely this far North as well. The okra plant can grow up to six feet tall(!) with pods ranging in length from 3 to ten inches. It is recommended that you don’t allow it to grow too long as it can tend to acquire a woody flavor. In fact, (overly) mature okra is used to make rope and paper!

It is a main staple in a lot of African dishes and often just goes by the name “gumbo”. It’s flavor has been described by others as a cross between an eggplant and asparagus. Personally, I would just describe its flavor as “good”.

Okra is slimy. Okra is sticky. Deal with it. The more you cut it, the more slimy it gets so just cut your little wagon wheels and throw it in the pot. Delish. You can’t change its texture, so I advise you to just embrace it and move on. Good job.

Random fact: Okra seeds can be toasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute if you’re interested. I’m not. As long as I’ve got hot chocolate, I don’t need coffee (in case you were wondering…).

Okra is a fat free food. It contains vitamins A,C, complex Bs, iron and calcium.


For Your Information

*If your diamonds are dull a soak in a dish of vodka can resuscitate them. Hooray!

* Okra (serious yum) should be eaten immediately after picking it. If it’s put in the fridge it can turn an ugly black and get a nasty slime. So eat it or freeze it, ya hear?

*Need to lower your blood pressure of relieve tension? Looking at pictures of nature has been known to accomplish just that in five minutes or less. Better yet? Take a walk outside. Hello, cooler weather!

*Americans spend an average of two billion dollars a year on candles. I wonder how many lives could be saved with that much money…

*Broccoli is purple or white. The stuff you buy at the store is mislabeled. The green stuff is a veggie named calabrese.

What Do You Know?

What Do You Think Of My New Look?


For Your Information

Here’s some intelligence for your Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy it!

*Did you know that in one square centimeter of your skin you have crammed up to three million cells, 15 sebaceous glands, 100 sweat glands, a meter of blood vessels, 3,000 sensory cells, four meteres of nerves, 200 pain detectors, 25 pressure sensors for touch, two cold sensors and two heat sensors? God can make some crazy small stuff! (info found here)

*Women who skip breakfast consume on average 100 more calories over the rest of the day then the women who took time for breakfast.

*You should never eat truly fresh salmon. Only eat salmon that has been frozen a minimum of 15 hours. Why? Because 15 hours of frozenness (my word) is what it takes to kill all the tapeworm larvae. Yummy.

*If you’re going to juice an orange, lime, lemon, or grapefruit warm it up first. It will almost double the juice you’re able to extract!

*To extend the life of your bread store it with a celery rib. Nice.

*Did you know that the only apple that is truly a native of North America is the crab apple? Those things are tart!

*According to the orchard we visited this week you should store your apples in the crisper in your fridge with a wet towel. Hmmm… maybe I should move my apples off the counter!

*My baby sisters are turning eighteen on Wednesday? Where does the time go?

What do you know?


Ice Cream Recap

I updated my previous post about ice cream making with a revised recipe. I’m going to go ahead and put it here too so you don’t miss it. It’s delish!

I’ve played around with this recipe enough and made enough changes that I think I can now call it my own. Here’s what I made:

Amazing Chocolate Covered Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream

  • just under two cans coconut milk (save the rest for a smoothie in the morning!)
  • 1/3 cup carob powder (cause it’s way cheaper than quality cocao powder)
  • 1/3 cup cacao (cocoa) powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (watch the label for high fructose corn syrup!)
  • 6 Tablespoons agave syrup
  • one handful of frozen strawberries

Throw everything in the blender and let her rip! Blend until it’s as smooth as a baby’s backside. Put in a bowl in the fridge for as long as you can wait. I throw it in the fridge while I’m making dinner and then it’s ready by the time we are for dessert. Then freeze according to the manufacturers directions on your ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can just freeze it and eat it like shaved ice or turn it into popsicles. This stuff is amazing!


Agave Nectar

What is this “Agave” I have been heard to speak of? It is a Mexican/South American plant that look like this:

and is solely responsible for the production of this:

It’s good for other stuff as well. Agave nectar is more and more commonly being used as a sweetener in home food preparation for the following reasons:

  • It is 10% glucose and 90% natural fructose (unlike the unnatural fructose of High Fructose Corn Syrup) according to one source. Those numbers can vary rather drastically though depending on the vendor.
  • Agave nectar naturally contains iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • It is more slowly absorbed by the body than white sugar and as such is lower on the glycemic index (a 40-45 approx.). This basically means you will miss out on the sugar roller coaster. Regardless of what the particular glucose to fructose ratio is.
  • Can be used by vegans, children under two and acrobats (in case we have any acrobat readers).
  • Agave nectar is sweeter than sugar (as is honey) so you can use less of it.
  • It’s a real whole food. it hasn’t been processed and refined within an inch of its life.
  • It dissolves smoothly in cold liquids unlike most other sweeteners (honey and sugar in particular)
  • Agave tastes good. Case closed.

So how does it work in baking? Besides making your baked goods soft and moist you mean?

  • Like honey, you can cut down on the liquids in a recipe by 1/3.
  • As it’s 25% sweeter than sugar you adjust accordingly: 1 cup of sugar becomes 3/4 cup agave (like those mad math skills?). Wikipedia says to use 1/3 cup agave for every one cup of sugar the recipe calls for. Their math skills aren’t as gloriously honed as mine. Really, you should just experiment and find what works best for you and yours.
  • If you’re baking with it it pays to reduce the oven temperature by up to 25 degrees as it can cause your baked goods to brown more quickly otherwise.

Use it in other ways too though: in a smoothie, in your tea or coffee, instead of maple syrup on pancakes, on hot cereal or in ice cream to name a few. Have fun with it.

Here are some links to yummy recipes using agave as a sweetener (the first three are mine!). Let me know how it goes for you and share your recipes if you have them!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crunchy Crumble

Chocolate Covered Strawberries Coconut Ice Cream

Blueberry Oat Bars

Agave Marshmallows

Chocolate Bars

please note that I personally use raw agave nectar and that is what the above facts and stats apply to


Blueberry Oat Bars

Here is the afore promised recipe. Sorry I didn’t get around to it yesterday as communicated. We made this with the yummy farm stand blueberries that Erik’s parents brought back for us from their trip to Indiana last weekend. Yummy!

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil bottom and sides of an 8×8 pan.

Filling:

 

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 c. agave
  • 1/4 c. orange juice (or whatever juice you have on hand)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbl. arrowroot powder (cornstarch in a pinch)

 

Heat the first four over medium high heat to a boil. Stir in arrowroot powder and vanilla. Continue stirring as it thickens up into a syrupy mess of purple deliciousness. Remove from heat and set aside.

Crust:

 

  • 2 3/4 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 oz. apple sauce ( I used a jar of leftover baby food)
  • 7 Tbl. agave
  • 6 Tbl. water
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbl. coconut oil (or another 3 Tbl. applesauce)
  • 1 Tbl. orange juice

 

 Throw 1 1/2 cups of your oats into the blender and blend to a powder. I used steel oats so they went from this:

to this:

Add rest of oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 

Spread half of batter on bottom of oiled pan and smooth level-ish. Pour in  the syrupy mess of purple deliciousness. Cover with the rest of the batter. Bake 30 minutes and cool before cutting. Enjoy!

*If I was to make this again I would have skipped the whole wheat flour and just used more oats. I had just run out of oats was my problem. I also would have used steel oats just for the blender part and rolled oats for the other half. Again, I ran out after 1/4 cup. It was still mighty tasty though! I just think those changes might make it slightly less hearty and more like dessert less like a meal. Though it’s been nice to eat as a meal replacement in a jam!

*Oh, and if you use all oats it wouldn’t be hard to fine tune this to be gluten free either. Enjoy!


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