Mom at home scientist

Ecology of my motherhood; analyzed, frugal, and (mostly) natural.


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Easy Fermented Rice For Digestibility and Increased Nutrition

Mason Jar of Fermented Raw Rice

Mason Jar of Fermented Raw Rice

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with a particular food intolerance by our naturopathic doctor. I had had chronic eczema on my face for over a year, as did my younger sister on her arms and neck, and so we drove over 10 hours to see this particular doctor who had a unique way of looking at allergies and intolerances. He diagnosed my intolerances as eggs (any part thereof) and grain/dairy combinations. I was told I could have either grain or dairy, but not both within 6 hours (gastric emptying) of the other. So for the next 10 years, I followed his suggestions, with complete healing of my complexion issues and also massive improvements in gastro-intestinal health issues. I was actually unaware of my issues in the digestive department until I actually abstained from those foods and could tell within an hour if prepared foods actually had something I wasn’t allowed to eat in it. Well, eventually I came across the nutritional book, Nourishing Traditions, which teaches the Weston A. Price diet. The WAP diet holds that grains are easier to digest and more nutritious when they are fermented, soaked and/or sprouted (1,2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). So it was with much caution that I decided to start dabbling in these alternative preparation methods and testing them on myself in the presence of dairy products. My first success was with sprouted wheat bread. After 10 years, can you even guess how much I just wanted delicious grilled cheese sandwiches?!

My second experiment was with fermenting grains. I am happy to say that this also seems to be a great success! This greatly improves my food budget as well, as I can now plan meals with economically bought grains that just need a little preparation.

Regardless, I wanted to share with you my routine with fermenting rice. I fill a quart Mason jar with rice up to the shoulder of the container, including about ½ cup from a previous ferment. If you don’t have a previous ferment, use a splash of raw apple cider vinegar, raw kombucha, raw kombucha vinegar from an overactive continuos ferment, or some whey which drains off of your plain yogurt or sour cream. I cover the rice with filtered water. I cap the jar and shake it around a bit until I can tell that some of the foggy water of the previous fermentation has made its way into the new water added. Then I open the lid again and add more water to rinse any grains off of the walls above the water line, and to bring the water level to about where the cap threads start. I place the jar on a dishcloth, in case it overflows due to carbon dioxide production, and let it sit on my counter for a couple of days, or even weeks, as long as you pour off and replace the water above the line of the grains daily. As long as I see the little bubbles around the grains in the jar, I know that the rice is fermented enough for me.

Rice Fermentation Bubbles close-up

Rice Fermentation Bubbles close-up

When I am ready to make my rice, I keep track of how much rice I take from the jar, which is easy since Mason jars have measurements along the side of them. I spoon the rice into a mesh colander and rinse it thoroughly, before putting it in an adequate sized saucepan. If I want sticky rice, I add an equal amount of filtered water. If I want something more al dente and very separated, I will put my rice in a steamer basket, and only steam it. Usually, I add a little less than an equal amount of water to rice. So if I am cooking 2 cups of fermented, uncooked rice, I add about 1 ¾ C. water, or a combination of water and coconut cream or broth. I also add salt. I throw the ingredients all in the pan at the temperature they happen to be, and turn the stove up until it boils, I put a lid on it and reduce the heat to simmer. I don’t think it even takes 10 minutes, but the length of cooking also has to do with personal taste and the dish you are preparing it for.

Bubby fermenting rice

Bubbly fermenting rice

Easy Fermented Rice                                                            

3 Cups rice

1 quart mason jar with lid

Filtered water

Choice of starter- previously fermented but not rinsed rice, raw apple cider vinegar, raw kombucha, raw kombucha vinegar, or whey from cultured yogurt or cultured sour cream

salt

Directions: Fill mason jar with rice and starter up to the 3 Cup measurement line. Fill to top of grain with filtered water. Cap and vigorously shake about 6 times. Place upright, uncap, rinse with additional water and stray grains that are now above the water line or on the cap into the jar. Fill with water up to the bottom of the threads. Cap jar again. Place on dishtowel, on counter until small gas bubbles are visible around grains (about 2-4 days) while changing out the water above the grain line daily. Note measurement level of fermented grain. Scoop grain out into a mesh sieve and rinse the rice thoroughly, while leaving at least ¼ Cup of unrinsed fermented grain for a starter for your next batch in the jar. Note the amount of rice you removed as you will want slightly less than an equal amount for cooking. After rinsing, move rice to a non-reactive saucepan and add salt & water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer & cover until cooked according to your preference.

Enjoy!!!

 

References

1) http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/

2) http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/be-kind-to-your-grains-and-your-grains-will-be-kind-to-you/

3) http://www.nourishingdays.com/2012/01/fermented-grains-the-perpetual-soured-porridge-pot/

4) http://www.foodforlife.com/about_us/ezekiel-49

5) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398909527507#.VMsIJy5K4no

6) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002009001749

7) http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/8/1991.short

8) http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=844904&fileId=S0007114567000492

9)   http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608002513


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Gluten-free, Grain-free Tapioca Cheese Bread; My Favorite Bread

Grain-free deliciousness

Grain-free deliciousness

I love the windows and doors to other recipes available to me in Spanish. Last year I stumbled upon this gem here while on laylita.com, a blog on Ecuadorian recipes. Although I had studied abroad in Ecuador, I never had the pleasure of eating this bread until I made it. It is originally called Pan de Yuca, which means Yucca Bread. We, here in the US, call yucca by the name of tapioca.

Pan de Yucca before baking

Pan de Yucca before baking

I particularly LOVE this bread for Oh so many reasons!
1)It is FAST
2) It is cheesy!
3) It is versatile!
4) It is grain-free
5) It is high in protein(for a bread) and healthy fats

IMG_6509

So I thought I would translate the recipe for you with healthier (the original is healthy, but some ingredients can be improved) ingredient suggestions!
This is great for gluten-free people too, as long as you shred your own cheese.

Tapioca (Cheese) Bread
20-25 rolls

2 1/2 Cups Tapioca Flour/Starch
4 Cups(1 Lb.) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder (aluminum-free)
Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt (not bleached)
4 oz (1/2 cup) room temperature butter(from grass-fed cows)
2 eggs (pastured and fertilized)
If necessary, 1-2 Tablespoons of filtered water, if the dough is too dry to work into balls.

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 500 F (that is not a typo!). In a food processor, combine flour, cheese, baking powder and salt & mix well. Add the butter, and eggs then mix until the dough forms small balls… or until it looks like it has mixed really well. This is where you would add the extra water if the dough seemed too dry.
Remove the dough from the processor and make golf-ball sized dough balls. Place on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. I usually only cook half of the recipe and save the rest in the fridge until another day. You can do this mixing all by hand in a bowl… just use your hands and all of the ingredients at once.
Bake for about 5-7 minutes at 500 F, then turn to broil setting and brown your rolls for about 3-5 minutes.

Grain-free deliciousness

Grain-free deliciousness

Then serve while warm, that is, if you don’t eat them all first! These go great with any soup, just as a side, and your kids will love them… to the point you feel like hiding them from the tots.

You can also adapte this recipe by substuting half of the mozzarella with sharp cheddar, as a reader posted in the comments, or jalapeno jack, if you want to add some kick!

Grain-free Tapioca cheese bread.

Grain-free Tapioca cheese bread.


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Eviction Notice Served- To The Ants

It really must be spring, as the ants had returned this week. This time the ante was upped; from small sugar ants to large carpenter ants. Ugh!!! They were everywhere… my kitchen, living room, dining room, climbing on me while I was nursing my daughter. Last year, I tried putting down a chalk border line as my mother in-law had heard that they wouldn’t cross it. Numbers may have dropped but it didn’t STOP them. I can’t get chalk everywhere anyways. So I was checking Facebook early Sunday morning before church and came across a blog entry by the Thrifty Couple regarding ants.. so I combined several of these ideas in a spray bottle and misted the entrances to my house before walking out the door. I am pleased to say that I have not seen any additional intruders since then.

Ant Eviction Spray

2 C. White distilled vinegar
3 small bay leaves
5 drops cinnamon essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil

Throw these all in a spray bottle, remember to label your bottle, and have fun with the eviction. Bonus, the house smells a lot better too!


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Testing the Waters of Reader Interest

So I created a fabulously long poll on many different ideas that I want to write about, but I couldn’t get WordPress to work with me on this one… yet. I thought at first that I would present to you a simple four subject choices to go further in depth with. But, I am now on letter “U” of options… and each one of those choices really represent many different subtopics. The easiest ways to summarize those topics would be, A. Homesteading, health and sustainability topics, B. Environmental toxicity, and food contaminants and empowering you to make knowledgeable choices emphasizing your values, C. Analysis of scientific studies and ways of interpreting data and study conclusions as well as clarifying intent, D. Recipes for avoiding certain allergens(food) or chemicals(hygiene products) E. My undergraduate thesis.

Please respond to these broader choices instead under the comments. Thank-you!!


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Cloth Diapering Series, Part 2- The Economically Friendly Choice

To continue my previous post on economic based choices in cloth diapering, I will cover several of the diapering paraphernalia choices that will reduce your costs for cloth diapering. These factors are fabric content, willingness to repurpose items, washing situation, detergents required, water quality, and diapering paraphernalia.
Also, assuming you wash and dry your diapers by machine every time, I found a nice rundown of costs associated with different styles of diapering systems at http://www.diaperdecisions.com/pages/cost_of_cloth_diapers.php for you to look at for comparison.
In order to keep costs as low as possible, you should stick to the bare bones. These of course include the diapers and covers but you will need wipes, a method for cleaning, a detergent, a storage solution and a drying method.
For wipes, you can always purchase specially made cloth diaper wipes, or even the disposable kind from the store. I suggest though, if you are pinching pennys, to find an alternative. I have in my wipes pile, baby wash cloths, cut up old tee-shirts, and repurposed double layered flannel wipes I made from swaddling blankets. You can use flannel shirts or bed sheets, but if you go to yard sales, you can usually find swaddling blankets for 25 cents each or even free if they are stained. I like to cut them up into a usable size and sew two pieces together, since flannel frays so easily.
Related to wipes is wipe solution. Most cloth diaper brands sell a solution for their wipes, but all you really need is water. I do prefer to make a diluted mixture with coconut oil, baby soap and some essential oils or grapefruit seed extract, but it is not necessary and I still rarely do it.
Detergent can also be expensive, particularly if you purchase special brands formulated for your specific diaper. If you choose non-natural fibers for your cloth diapers, then you will need to be very careful about the detergent you use and be aware that you may have to change brands several times and strip your diapers regularly until you find an ideal one. Stripping diapers is a time intensive and possibly costly chore that needs done if your diapers start to stink no matter how much you wash them, if you have ammonia problems, or if they cease to absorb liquids. To keep costs as low as possible, stick to natural fibers and you will have a greater choice of detergents, as you won’t need to buy a special brand. I have made my own homemade laundry detergent, using several different recipes. This is the cheapest option and is fairly simple to make.
Of course, in conjunction to detergents is the process of washing your diapers. Almost everyone uses a modern machine; either top-loader or front-loader, but there is a cheaper option if you have the time and energy. You can… hand wash. Yes, I did just say that. My washer went out for over a week this year and I resorted to hand washing. All you need is your soap, water, a washboard or similar surface and two hands. I do recommend having an agitator though, which you will find using a toilet bowl plunger works just fine. This works best and easiest with flatfolds, and prefolds.
Now that your diapers are clean, they need to dry. Air drying is free and all else costs something. A flatfold will dry quickly even if you had to hand wring them after hand washing, and quicker yet if they went through a spin cycle. They won’t need long in the dryer either if you choose that route.
You also need to consider your storage options for dirty diapers until they are washed. Personally, I use old laundry detergent pails, with a liner in it. I like the Kissaluvs pail liner but you could probably use an old pillowcase cover. That said, some people throw their diapers directly into the washer to wait until they have enough dirty to run a load.
One last item you most likely will want is a wet bag for when you leave the house. You could just use a plastic bag though if you don’t get out much.
If you are still finding cloth diapering, although cheaper than disposables, a bit expensive, consider incorporating elimination communication (EC). A great book on the subject is ‘Diaper Free Baby’ by Christine Gross Loh and you can check out the website diaperfreebaby.org in the meantime. I will probably share more on this subject at a later date although I only practice part-time EC.


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Cloth Diapering Series, Part 1- The Economically Friendly Choice

One thing I’ve had quite a bit of experience with, is cloth diapering. I’ve tried many different brands & styles over the years. Although my favorite styles change according to my needs & the needs of caretakers and babies, I do have favorites within each style.

Cloth diapering can cost more or less than shown based on style, brand, fabric content, sizing, willingness to repurpose items, washing situation, detergents required, water quality, trash services, and diapering paraphernalia. This post is devoted to the economic choice, which also happens to be the ecologically preferred choices as well.

Eco(logic & nomic)ly Superior Flats & Prefolds
First to touch on style or type of cloth diapers. The most economically friendly style would be flatfolds, followed closely by prefolds. The cost of a small flatfold from greenmountaindiapers.com is $2 each, $2.25 for a large. Her prefolds run from $1.25 each for preemie standard cotton to $3.33 each for her large organic cotton. Her prefolds are not the cheapest you can buy upfront, but they are the best quality and should last you through at least 3 kids if you buy several sizes. Plus, you can get a free pair of pins with every dozen diapers purchased. Snappis are also a favorite of many moms but you don’t even have to use either. You can just fold the diaper and lay it in the cover and throw it on. Certain covers lend themselves better than others to this practice, such as Thirsties and Bummis. The cheapest cover you can find is the Bummis Pull-on cover for $6.50 but then you need to fasten the diaper first. The other covers cost around $12. These prices are all from the GMD website. Cottonbabies.com also carries these covers, but GMDs can only be purchased through her website.

One factor which is greatly influenced by your choice to use cotton only prefolds or flatfolds, is that you can use regular detergent for cleaning. Most other fibers require special detergents which can be fairly costly. I will touch on that more when I write that post.

The other factor which is influenced by your diaper choice is energy related costs to cleaning and drying. Your flatfold will dry quickly when hung out, even in humid weather, and doesn’t take too long in a dryer. In contrast, there are certain fitteds and all in ones that have taken up to three cycles on high heat for me to dry! They also are the easiest to get thoroughly cleaned and if you ever have to hand wash… these are your diapers.

In order to give you an overall view of costs per unit diaper, not taking anything but upfront costs in mind, these are the style of cloth diaper listed from least expensive to most expensive as a general rule; flatfold, prefold, fitted, pocket, all in one (AIOs). All in twos can be anywhere between the last three styles.