Food Tips, Meals, Recipes

Barbecue Sauce

We love barbecue.  You can barbecue all kinds of things and there are as many types of sauce as there are lovers of the cooking method.  Many of them are regional, some are based on the special ingredient, but the main problem can be is that they are almost all tomato based.

I can tolerate tomato based products occasionally, my cousin cannot tolerate them at all.  So my daughter started experimenting with other vegetables and surprisingly realized that it’s the spices that count, not the base.

Barbecue sauce is a highly personal condiment, so I’ve provided you with the ingredients, the measurements are up to you and your taste buds.

Fresh or frozen spinach

Butter or olive oil

Garlic powder

Onion granules

Chili powder

Vinegar

Brown sugar

Worcester sauce

Steam the spinach and process in a food processor until you have a paste.  Add the other ingredients to taste and simmer.

That’s it!  Amazingly, it tastes just like any other barbecue sauce.  You can substitute spinach or zucchini or another vegetable of your choice in your favorite recipe.

Food Tips, Meals, Recipes

Autumn Soup

Summer is not even over, but I’m already looking forward to autumn soups and stews.  This recipe is one I concocted a few years ago from some of my favorite ingredients. It does contain chicken broth, cheese, cream and butter, but with a few tweaks, it can become a delicious vegetarian or vegan dish to warm your autumn evenings.

 

Autumn Soup

 

2 large sweet potatoes

1 carnival squash, or your favorite winter squash, about 1.5 c.

6 c. chicken stock

1 clove garlic

1.5 c. sharp cheddar

cream

rainbow chard

butter

salt, pepper, nutmeg

 

Boil the sweet potatoes and allow to cool before peeling.  Cut squash in half, remove the seeds and bake in a 350F oven 30 minutes or until done.  Cool and remove squash from the peel.

Puree the sweet potatoes and squash, along with the stock, in a food processor and add to your soup pot.

Heat the puree, adding minced garlic and grated cheese.

Wash, dry and chop the chard leaves then saute them in butter.

Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chard mixture to the soup and continue to heat through. Stir in cream to taste, heat and serve.

This soup lends itself to many condiments. You can add more cheese, sprinkle with chives or parsley or even top with a spicy Asian sauce.

Food Sensitivities

Another Piece of the Puzzle

I’ve been away for the last several weeks. visiting my daughter in England.  It was a real pleasure to enjoy wheat products without becoming ill during the trip. And, as a result of something that popped up for her after I came home, together we have solved another part of the family sulphur problem.

For several generations, the women in my family have not been able to take iron supplements.  When I became anemic during my pregnancy, my midwife suggested I try chelated iron which luckily worked.

It never dawned on me that the symptoms were very close to those of sulphur overload.

My daughter has discovered that regular iron supplements have a sulphur base. Voila, problem solved.

And due to my DNA tests and my daughter’s ancestry research, I’m pretty sure that I now know how the sensitivity entered my maternal line.

Sulphur sensitivity has been linked to having ancestors who lived along the Silk Road, a trade route between China and the West.  When my late brother finally had his DNA done, it turned up something that also had appeared in my maternal DNA.  Random Eastern European ancestry.  As reports have gotten more detailed, it looks like possibly Ukrainian ancestry, one of the endpoints for the Silk Road.

Also, after recently watching the first season of Marco Polo, I did more online research on the Mongolian DNA that turns up in Hungary as a result of Genghis Khan’s move west.  I have a very large and odd shaped head for a Westerner and the only hats that really fit are those made in the Mongolian style.  Despite that, I have no Asian DNA of any type that shows up on the current tests.

However, when I started digging through the Hungarian research, low and behold, Mongolian and Romany ancestry is turning up to be widespread and my Dad’s haplo group turns up in the middle of the Mongolian DNA they have traced.

Boom! Silk Road ancestry confirmed.

How then, you ask, did it end up coming from my mother’s side of the family?

Several hundred years ago, an Elizabeth Sumner married into my mother’s family.

This also explains why my parents are listed as distant cousins when you check relationships on the ancestry website.  Elizabeth Sumner introduced the sulphur sensitivity into my maternal line.  The original Sumner in my paternal line did not pass it on.

Food sensitivities can be really weird and very interesting.

Oddly enough, today is my brother’s birthday.  He would have been 61.

 

 

 

 

Bread and Baking

The Other Difficulty with Wheat

I’ve been a bit under the weather for the last two weeks and I missed posting.  The heat hasn’t helped as summer has finally arrived where we live.  I will be out of town for the next month, visiting my daughter, so posts may remain hit and miss.  Regardless, I will be adding more links in this post and some of the others once I’m settled in.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer.

In my last post, I talked about the difficulties with processing wheat into a usable flour and how it removes the nutrients in most cases.

Still, it’s perfectly possible to create a whole wheat bread that is healthy and highly nutritious.  You just can’t do it through mass production.

Whole wheat flour is obviously made from the whole grain, which retains the grain’s natural oils.  Oils which go rancid almost immediately once the grain is ground.

Prior to industrialization, grains were harvested and stored.  They were ground as needed in the local mill and used quickly in the daily baking.

Before that, grains would be hand ground immediately before use, so the flour never had a chance to become rancid and it retained almost all of its nutritional value.  This is how wheat became the “staff of life”.

Nowadays, our wheat is harvested, sits in hot silos for who knows how long, is eventually processed into flour, which sits indefinitely on a store shelf or is baked into bread that sits in a warehouse or on a store shelf for weeks.

The only way to avoid this is to grind your own wheat, immediately prior to baking.

Various types of wheat are available for mail-order.  A good source of grain mills is Lehman’s Hardware Store in Kidron, OH.  They have a website and offer both hand cranked and electric grain mills. They can be contacted at  http://www.lehmans.com or 877.440.9354.

Obviously, fitting this type of baking into our busy modern lives isn’t always easy, but it can be done.

It requires the above equipment, a good cookbook and a freezer.

My favorite bread cookbook is the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown.  It’s basic recipes make several loaves apiece and it offers a wide range of recipe ideas.

(Links coming next week)

Bread and Baking, Chemical Sensitivities, Food Sensitivities, Food Tips, Meals, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Wheat

I am extremely fortunate not to be gluten intolerant among all the other food sensitivities I have.  I am, however, wheat sensitive.

Over seventy years ago, my mother’s doctor told her that if she ever wanted to lose weight and keep it off, she had to give up wheat, specifically baked goods.  Back then, doctors were trained to read the body’s signs. They knew things without resorting to a myriad of tests and they trusted their knowledge.

My grandmother’s doctor could look at her hair and know whether or not she needed more thyroid medication.  It was a good thing too, because the problem that runs in my family does not show up in today’s standardized tests.

So,  other  than gluten, what are the problems with wheat?  There are two other major problems with wheat, especially in the United States.  The first is that it has almost become a mono-culture.

According to prevalent statistics, 70-80% of wheat grown in the US is winter wheat. The majority of the remaining wheat grown in the US is hard red spring wheat. We grow wheat that is higher in protein and gluten which is better for mass bread production.

In Europe, for the time being at least, a softer wheat, which is lower in protein and gluten, predominates.

But we now export 55% of our spring wheat crop around the world.

And wheat can be found in almost all processed foods.  If your body is bombarded constantly with the same ingredient over and over, it can lead to a myriad of health problems.

Unless you search specifically for unbleached, unenriched flour, all flour in the US is enriched with vitamins and minerals.  This policy began during World War II as an easy way to get extra nutrients to the troops, who were eating poorly at best. Processing wheat into flour, especially white flour, removes the nutrients, so adding vitamins such as Thiamine and minerals such as iron, seemed like a sensible thing to do.

However, Thiamine is a sulfur based B vitamin and iron is hard to digest for many people.  So for families like mine, you’re getting a double negative effect from the wheat in commercial products.  It lead, in our case, to inflammation, water retention, weight gain and digestive problems.

The rise of the processed food industry, heavily dependent on wheat as a main ingredient, has led to over-exposure to an almost mono-culture product that is chemically modified in the name of better nutrition.

Next week:  The Other Difficulty with Wheat

Food Tips, Meals

A Little About Substitutions

This is going to be a shorter post than I originally planned, because I’ve literally spent the whole last week recovering from my trip to Arizona.  I usually only visit Phoenix in the winter and 100+F temperatures and I don’t agree with each other any more.

So, a short bit about substitutions.

Over the years, I tried to find things with which to replace wheat, because, while I am not gluten intolerant, I am sensitive to the wheat used predominately here in the US. (More on that in a future post.)

I used to make lovely pancakes from almond meal or hazelnut meal, until I started developing sensitivities to those nuts.  Walnuts have always bothered me. So there went that.

Because I had to have my gall bladder out a few years ago due to an inherited condition, I’ve now become sensitive to oils.  By taking digestive enzymes, I can get by with a tiny bit in a salad dressing. Just enough to get the vinegar to cling to the leaves, which is all right by me, because I love vinegar.

However, I’ve also discovered that I have no such problem with butter.  So, if baked goods call for oils, I just use melted organic butter.  I never touch margarine of any type.  Not only is margarine usually made of inferior oils, the process used to make it is unhealthy.

Two things my cousin and my daughter have experimented with recently are variations on pesto and BBQ sauce.

My cousin can’t eat basil, so she makes pesto from arugula, or rocket as they call it in the UK.   My daughter took a traditional Texas Style BBQ Sauce recipe and turned it into a tomato-free delight.  Both those recipes will be appearing here in the coming weeks.

On a final note, if like me, you have problems with foods high in sulfur, I’ve found that I have much less trouble if I use garlic and onion granules in recipes in moderation, rather than using the fresh items.  It’s sad, because I adore both fresh garlic and onions.

I’ve also found that I tolerate shallots and leeks better than onions and white onions better than red, which are, of course, my favorite. And it’s often completely possible to greatly reduce the amount of fresh onions or garlic and still come out with a delicious dish

Never be afraid to experiment.

Food Tips, Snacks

Glorious Peanut Butter

When I started avoiding wheat as often as possible, I substituted various nut flours for making things like pancakes and crackers.  This worked well for about a year, then I began getting that tell-tale itch in my throat, first with almonds, quickly followed by hazelnuts.  Oh goody.  I was facing the beginning of an allergic reaction.

Luckily, I have no problems with peanuts, as long as they are organic.  Peanuts are not true nuts, but are classified as ground nuts, so they don’t bother me, but for some, coming in contact with even the tiniest bit of peanut dust can be fatal.

I do not cook with peanut oil or eat a lot of peanuts, but I do love peanut butter.  I like it on rice cakes, on apples and sometimes, right out of the jar.

Because organic peanut butter is so expensive, I try to always buy it on sale.  Then when I finally get around to opening a new jar, it has totally separated and is almost impossible to re-mix.

Recently, I decided to experiment with peanut butter and my Cuisinart stick blender.  I emptied the peanut butter into a glass bowl, no mean feat.  Then I mixed it for several minutes until the oil was completely incorporated again.  I spooned the now soft peanut butter into a glass Mason jar and put it in the fridge.

Several days later, here I am, having some with breakfast and it is still perfectly soft and completely blended .  It looks like the blender emulsified it to the point that it isn’t going to separate again. Yum!