Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Smoothies for Womens' Health

PMS Smoothies -
PMS is premenstrual syndrome. Try making these smoothies regularly, especially when PMS sets on, for a great nutrient, iron and energy boost.  If you start taking this smoothie before and during menstruation, the chances are that painful symptoms due to loss of iron will decrease. No more fatigue!

3/4 cup yogurt whey (or 1 tbsp natural yogurt and the rest, almond/rice milk)
1-2  bananas
1 tbsp chia seeds and/or flax seeds

Blend and drink! The whey is milk with the solids removed (the natural way of getting low-fat without involving the harmful industry procedures!) and yet is full of protein. The banana add solids to the whey, creating a perfect smoothie that isn't as rich as a banana milkshake. Both bananas and chia seeds have high amounts of iron. Chia seeds have seven times more iron than spinach, are full of omega 3 and 6 good fatty acids needed during menstruation, and also B vitamins and fiber.

According to this article on,

Bananas are a nutritional superfood loaded with potassium, zinc, iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamin B6 and fiber. In fact, bananas have been called nature's perfect food. They may also be a perfect food for menstrual health. Bananas can help relieve digestive problems and PMS symptoms women may experience during their period. Bananas help replenish nutrients lost during menstruation and can help stop PMS related diarrhea in its tracks when eaten with other BRAT diet foods such as apples, rice and dry toast.

Flaxseed and flaxseed products contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant based estrogens similar to the estrogen found in a woman's body. Studies have found that women who ingest flaxseed can relieve PMS symptoms such as breast pain, hot flashes and mood swings. It is thought that this is because the plant-based estrogens compete with the natural estrogen in a woman's body when it is too high, such as during the menstruation cycle. It is estimated that 11 percent of women may experience breast pain during their periods. A University of Toronto study found that by eating as little as 25 grams of flaxseed every day, these women could reduce or eliminate PMS induced breast pain. Flaxseed also contains essential fatty acids that can help to ease PMS cramping.

Peri-menopausal PMS Smoothie -

3/4 cup natural soy milk
2 tbsp natural yogurt
1-2 bananas
1 tbsp chia seeds and/or flax seeds

Blend and drink! Soy milk is full of women's hormones (phytoestrogen) that ease peri-menopausal symptoms caused by the lack of estrogen. It is also full of protein. However, since soy contains anti-nutrient-absorbing phytates, lacto-fermented yogurt is added to counter the phytic acid.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meat Mincing

I love scratch food, and having control over our diet. I also love instant food, not that kind that you buy in bags but that you prepare ahead of time and freeze, to save time later.

Today I spent 4 hours in the kitchen, trying out the new, fantastic meat mincer. We bought lots of lean meat at the store.

What We Bought
Chicken Breasts, 3 kg
Pork Loin (Good chunks of solid meat), 1 kg (4 pieces)
Buffalo Cubes - (Good solid meat from India)
Buffalo Cut - (Two steak-like pieces)
Chicken Wings, 20 pieces
Chicken Drumsticks,

Everything was either at a bargain or going at a good price today. All are good, solid, cuts of meat, not having been processed.

What We Did:
First all the meat must be soaked, sterilized in O3 gas, washed, and drained. 

I minced 1 kilo of pork. Half of it I seasoned with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper, and froze in two 250g bags in the freezer, labelled nicely. The other half I used to make seasoned sausagemeat (see below)

Out of 3 kilos of chicken breasts, I made:
1) Four chicken breast steaks, pounded, 175g each, frozen in a bag and ready to be seasoned as steaks for a complete dinner.
2) 425g of chicken skin and fat (nothing goes to waste!) for use in making luncheon meat later on another day
3)  500g + 500g + 325g - three bags of minced chicken, ready to be made into patties, fried with egg and vegetables, fill ravioli or kreplach or wonton or schnitzel or chickenballs or nuggets. Also hopefully to make luncheon meat!
4) 500g for seasoned sausagemeat

The buffalo slices are seasoned in last week's pastrami/corned-beef nitrate-free salt brine to be smoked, broiled, roasted, steamed, or boiled. This was easy. In a week, I have already-spiced meat ready to use.

The 1 kg of buffalo cubes - minced and used for sausagemeat.

Bag the chicken wings and drumsticks. 

 This seasoned meat can be used to make meatballs, burger patties, sausage, meatloaf, filling, etc. It is already seasoned, broken up into 500g bags ready for immediate thaw and use.

2 kg meat of any combination
  1. 500g minced chicken
  2. 500g minced pork
  3. 1 kg minced buffalo
3 tsp salt
3 tsp pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp garlic powder
thyme and rosemary
1/4 cup flour

Mix everything, and bag. To make meatballs, add 2-4 eggs and wheatgerm. Coat with flour, shape into balls, and bake. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Plowing By Hand

Surely I would stop before my hand was ready to develop blisters, and I did. As I type, my hands are curled awkwardly and are just sore in the slightest. Half an hour in the yard with a heaving hoe, the simplest of all plowing tools, is enough to leave me sweaty and my hair in a wreck.

It felt good. I felt the swift blade of the huge hoe cut through the soil as I swung it down. I saw how it could peel away the layer of grass as I tugged. And as I broke up the soil in satisfying clumps of red-brown and black-brown, I felt empowered.

"I can do this," I thought, "I can break up fallow soil with a hoe. I could entire fields with this."

Shoveling the clumps of soil and brown debris into the large garbade can was easy. The garbage can now stands proud and immovable. It is so heavy, and I am proud that I could lift that much soil.

Last night I worked out at the gym. Today at teatime, I had a full workout in the garden. In both cases, I built up muscles and used up fat. It felt good.

Now I must tie my hair, don an apron, and start on dinner meatballs while reciting Physics 1.1.2 out loud.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Bread Story

Naturally Leavened Pain de "Simcha"

100g high protein bread flour
50g hard whole wheat flour (atta flour)
50g rosh hashanah starter (explained below)
1 (heavy) pinch salt
100g water
1 tbsp oil (to work the dough and grease the bowl)

Add enough water to the dry ingredients to make a moist dough. I went for 150g flour to 100g water, which was just nice. Then I let everything rise for 7 hours, overnight, until it was really, really, risen. Then I shaped the bread into a round (is it a boule?) and did a cross-slice in the middle. It is sitting on a tray, spread generously with cornmeal, and rising at this moment in the toaster oven.
Yes, that's right. I hate heating up the huge oven to do crafted breads, because the temperature requirements I am afraid will sky-rocket the electricity bill. So I make tiny loaves, and do them in my parents' really  lovely, new Panasonic toaster oven that has temperature adjustments and gives me the perfect crispy crust and well-done insides I desire, at about 220C and below.
This is the first time I have scored the bread, because before, I never had a knife or razor sharp enough not to completely botch the surface. Now, I received a Swiss deboning knife for my birthday. It is sharp and flexible, and made my first beautiful (but very imperfect) score. But I am happy, and oh-so-pleased.

The Starter
 The starter is a big of a strange experiment, a cocktail of natural yeast (fermentation of raisins, sugar, and water), alcohol, and solid fermented fruit parts.
1) The first step, was me experimenting with natural yeast starters and raisins. Using the raisin yeast water, I attempted to multiply it alla' sourdough without the  sour part. But it turned sour. I hate sour! Sourdough has been a big failure for me, and I have attempted to eat almost all of the mishaps and i do not wish to do so again.

2) The second step was me giving up temporarily on using the raisin yeast water for bread- so let is be wine. I kept adding cordial to the raisin water, and sugar, and syrup. I brewed and fermented wine.
3) Meanwhile, the raisins used for the wine sat at the back of the fridge, still full of yeast.
4) One fine day, it was Rosh Hashanah 2012 and i wanted to try and make Rosh Hashanah charoset, which is basically apples and honey and wine, without the nuts. So I chopped an apple, added it to the fermented raisins, added some honey, added some watermelon fiber (strained out of fresh juice) and doused it with my blackcurrant cordial wine. And I went on a holiday, so I took it along to eat.
5) It so happened, that with all the bubbling yeast activity, I did not attempt to eat the charoset. So it came back home with me. I took it home, and blended it with water, and added flour, and voila - it is a yeast starter. It is stiff, and purplish in color. It is made of the oddest things, really, but it is a really effective starter. Several experiments with this has yielded bread with a delicious crumb and subtle aroma.

The beautiful yeast did it's work
So that's why I call with my Rosh Hashanah starter, because I started it on Rosh Hashanah. And I finally baked it into a proper bread with weight ingredients and everything, after Simchat Torah. So it is Pain de "Simcha".

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Useful Breasts of Chicken

Chicken Breasts are a useful and cheap cut of meat. Indeed, they are almost free of fat and bone, and thus easy to prepare. They can be purchased from the supermarket, and are from battery-factory-raised chickens.

1) Chicken breasts must be washed. I pumped them with ozone gas, which is a good sterilizer. You may also wash meat with salt, by soaking it in water for an hour and then putting them in a colander, salt them with cheap and rough salt, like kosher salt.

2) Stock and Floss. For a quick floss, boil the breasts in a saucepan, covered with water. Once the water comes to a boil, bring it down to a simmer. Add herbs if you wish, and also a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, to help remove scum and to bring out the minerals in the meat. You may brown some onions in the saucepan before boiling the breasts, and also add vegetable such as carrot and celery to boil. After an hour or a half of simmering, you can remove the breasts and floss them with two forks into fine flosses. Chicken floss can be added to soups, to sandwiches, to salads, to casseroles, etc. The stock, too is very useful. DO NOT throw it away! It can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles.

3) Tender Fried Steaks. Chicken breasts don't make good fried meats at first. They turn out tough and dry. That occurs for two reasons: firstly, because they don't contain tenderizing fat, secondly, because they are thicker on one side than on the other, making it so that when one part is cooked, the other is dry. This can be solved by frying them in a healthful fat like olive oil or palm oil, and also by pounding them flat with a meat hammer, a pestle, or the side of a knife

Chicken breasts can be marinated and coated in many different tasty ways, such as with pesto, mayyonaise, cajun seasoning, lemon pepper seasoning. They should be browned at high heat on either side.

4) Stir-Fried Strips. After pounding the breasts flat, you may slice them into strips and pieces to be stir-fried. This cut is exceptionally good for Chinese cuisine, making soft and tasty pieces of chicken that you won't even recognize as "dry breasts".

To make spicy chicken stir-fry, you will need:

3 chicken breasts, pounded and  cut into strips
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup of garlic, chopped
10 tiny bird's eye chillis
3/4 cup of spring onions, chopped into 1 inch long strips

Season the breast strips with salt, pepper, cornstarch, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Marinade in the fridge.

Stir fry the garlic, ginger, and chili in oil until fragrant. Add the chicken and fry on high fire to sear. Reduce the fire and stir-fry the chicken. Mix in dark mushroom soy sauce. Turn off the fire and stir in the spring onions.
5) Flavorful Skin. The skin of the chicken, rendered, is a delicious fat and flavoring. I reccomend, however, using only the fat of fatty, yellow, free-range organic chickens that have been exposed to the sun. Learn how to make them here. It is used instead of lard in kosher cooking. Learn how to render the fat here,


Remember that it is always more frugal and healthy to use whole, unprocessed meats. For example, I prefer to buy bacon than to buy pork sausages. That way, I getting the full value of the money in actual meat, as opposed to lots of worthless fillers, chemicals, preservatives, colors, etc.  You can buy minced meat, or better still, mince your own meat, to make hamburgers, meatballs, meatloaf, etc. You can also buy large blocks of meat to corn and to make pastrami. These are good alternatives to supermarket processed meats.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Panasonic Mini-Bake

Forget about buying a customized oven for kid’s play.

Our well-worn “National” toaster oven recently went kaput. We had seen it coming, really. It was covered in grease, grime, pizza cheese, and chometz (leavened bread-crumbs). It was impossible to clean, and smoked every time we turned it on.

Now the old toaster oven was easy to heat up. It had two heating lightbulbs installed, and a timer. It had a small tray and a rack. 

So we went to get, possibly the same toaster, but came back with something so entirely cool and exciting and full of promise – a Panasonic Toaster Oven.

Well, the Panasonic Toaster Oven comes not only with a timer, but it also has temperature control. And it’s about the same size, so our old baking tray fits in real well. And… dum de da… it has protected lightbulbs. Yeah. The lightbulbs are sealed in special aluminum cages. 

Countless times, we tried to clean the old toaster oven and had to gingerly avoid the lightbulb. Countless times, the lighbulb would smoke and turn black because it got pizza all over it. Now, the evil is over…

Plus, now the whole bottom of the oven, though not removable, is easy to clean, because it springs away and can be lighted with aluminum foil. Easy to replace!

And, like the old National, the Panasonic’s  lightbulbs turn off automatically when the right temperature is achieved, saving electricity. 

And now the final perk – this toaster oven can bake in small batches, from low to high heat. What does it mean? It’s multi-purpose. You don’t have a buy a special kid’s toy oven. This toaster oven makes the crispiest, softest rolls of bread. And I’m sure, with some temperature manipulation, it could do cupcakes, popovers, soufflés, etc. Kids (Me) can learn to bake with this! They (Me) can play, experiment, and all for a lot less electricity than is needed to heat up the giant, multi-liter Electrolux. Me like! 

Forget about those little spring toasters that can only toast slices of bread. Get a toaster oven - especially if you're short of space. You can do TONs of things in there - grilled fish, baked potatoes, pizza, cookies, roast chicken, etc.  and all in mini-amounts. 

What does this mean? It takes as quick to bake bread as it is to toast bread. And using just as much electricity. Fresh, naturally leavened, baguette – so terribly crispy. Yum. 

For more info:
  • Panasonic toaster oven.
  • Model no.: NT GT1.
  • Features:
    • 1200 watts power consumption.
    • Adjustable thermostat.
    • Removable crumb tray.
    • Maximum timer: 15 min.
    • Controls: Power controls (Low, mid, high).
    • Non-stick baking tray.
    • Power requirement: 220 - 240 V, 50/60 Hz.
    • Dimensions (W x H x D): 377 x 214 x 271 mm.
    • Weight: 3.1 kg.
  • Package contains: Toaster oven, baking pan, oven rack, operating instruction, manual.
  • Warranty: 1 year Panasonic India warranty.
  • Brand: Panasonic.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

(Vegan) Food

A nearly four-page treatise concerning foods of plant-based origin and the human diet.

A vegan diet is a diet consisting of foods solely from plant sources. Vegans never consume any food of animal source, for various reasons. Many vegans are “raw foodists”, meaning that they only consumed food that has not been treated at high enough temperatures to chemically alter if from its inherent, raw, state.

As a student of the Bible, I see clearly that Adam and Eve were given to eat herbs, fruits, vegetables, and seeds, in the Garden of Eden. Later on, after man sinned, God gave Noah to eat of “every living creature that moves”. Then when God gave the Torah, he defined “clean” and “unclean” food for the children of Israel. The righteous prophet Daniel, while exiled in Babylon, chose to only consume foods of animal sources as well as abstain from wine so as not to defile himself. Judging material I read from Josephus, a historian of antiquity, I think Daniel’s diet not only consisted of fresh and raw fruits and vegetables, but also grains, legumes, and dehydrated foods such as prunes and dates.

Sometimes we may call to question the cleanliness of certain animal-derived foods, or not be able to attain them for consumption. If so, we must know how to nourish our bodies with foods of vegetable source.

I am not a vegan for moral or social reasons, in fact I believe in consuming milk and meat products. I don’t believe that being a vegan will save or heal the world, or that killing animals is wrong. I believe that animals should be treated kindly and humanely, but that they are different from humans. Since the sin of man, blood has been shed, and will continue to be shed until the world is born anew.

Today is happen often that animal flesh and life has been treasured over human flesh and that is wrong. Humans and animals were both formed from the dirt and made into living flesh (nefesh) but humans have the neshama and ruach of God breathed into them and they are unique because they are made in the image of God. The Noachide covenant reveals to us that every human life shed must be repaid. Not so with animals; animals can be consumed by all descendants of Noah.

The world’s problems – its horrible sufferings and injustices – I believe can only be done away with, and the entire world renewed, with the coming of the Messiah. During that age it is be like Gan Eden, only better. That is when animals will no longer prey on each other and slay each other, but they will live in peace. When the Messiah comes into the world – creation and all its fullness – will be at peace and rest in perfection.

The environmental impact that humans have had in this world has largely been for evil and not for good, especially since the Industrial Revolution. Earth’s resources have been badly polluted. Many plants have been genetically modified for the worse. Unfortunately, humans at large only realize now what evil has been done on the environment. Do you know that many of our habits and practices harm our environment? Whatever harms our environment harms us, and whatever harms us today will kill our children tomorrow. So we should live responsibly.

Vegan food is not the perfect food – no matter what you base your diet on, you cannot escape death. All men die and will continue to die. In this age, death abounds – but the day will come when death, our greatest enemy – will be defeated. Science has proven that unlike in the days of Adam and Eve, we cannot “eat and live forever”.

I believe that everything Adam and Eve consumed gave them life – it was life-giving, nourishing, food. It was not only the Tree of Life that gave them life but every tree in the Garden nourished and sustained life.

As a result of human intervention in the past and in the future, food has been corrupted and genetically modified. The environment has changed since the flood of Noah, and has changed for the worse. When the environment changes, so does the plants, animals, and humans in that environment change, also for the worse.

The food that Adam and Eve ate was perfect, pure, and good in every way. During that time God’s creation was still perfect and unharmed. God said that it was good. Certainly it was good, very good. Traces of that goodness and nourishment can still be found in food today – vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients are always best consumed from natural, fresh sources rather than from pills. Nature has its green “pharmacy” of herbs, fruits, and vegetables that are life-giving. If you were to study the goodness of each natural fruit, vegetable, and herb, you would be amazed at the wisdom and thoughtfulness of God who made them so good.

However we know that there are anti-nutrients. Today, foods, even the best of foods, can harm you. Too much of bananas will kill you. Too much of soy will affect your hormones and your ability to absorb nutrients. Too much of anything is bad. Every food, no matter how vegan, raw, or organic, has something “bad” inside of that, and that is sad. Nothing in this world is perfectly good and pure. This world is sick. The trees and plants are sick. And as Jesus said, “A good tree bears good fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a bad tree bear good fruit”. In a perfect environment, perfect trees grow perfect fruits. In a corrupted environment, corrupted trees bear corrupted foods which fed into humans already corrupted in body, mind, and spirit, can only bring forth corruption.

Health comes not only through eating a varied, balanced, and nutritious diet but through obeying Torah. When you are healthy and abundant in spirit and soul, full of joy, speaking words that edify others, that affects your physical health. If you are depressed, bitter, greedy, full of hate, resentment, unforgiveness, or speak much gossip, that will affect you health also. A soul at peace with its Creator is one at peace with itself, and at peace with creation. Peace is a state of health and abundance. A spiritual relationship with God, and an unselfish relationship with regard to other people, and a life lived the best possible in good faith, good conscience, generally makes for the best possible physical health also.

Our lifestyle also impacts our health. We were made to till the ground and work the grain. Non-manual labor is unhealthy, because when our muscles are not being used and built the body goes into a state of entropy. The best kind of exercise is productive, food-building exercise.  

This is quick summary of some natural plant products that you can and should consume:

1)      Fruits
Fruits are sweet, juicy, and beautiful. They taste appetizing, look appetizing, and come in many colors. They are full of nutrients. You can consume fruits in their natural state. Having obtains them in season, wash your fruits well. It is best to consume fruits raw, and cooking them spoils their natural enzymes. Cooking fruits reduces their nutritive value to mostly sugar, which is energy, and soluble fiber. Fruits, herbs, and vegetables can be combined raw into cold smoothies. Smoothies are full of fiber and nutrients.

Consume all manner of fruits, such as, apples, guavas, pears, bananas, oranges, peaches, apricots, persimmons, etc. Be amazed at God’s creativity.

 Try to eat them with the skin and with the seeds. God told Adam and Eve to eat the seeds – seeds are the source of cancer-killing B17, good oils, and fiber. But don’t consume too much of fruit seeds on their own – take fruits in their naturally occurring form, seeds together with the skin and the meat.
Preserve fruits in season by freezing them in their best condition. Some fruits are delicious dehydrated, like raisins, dates, prunes, etc.

2)      Vegetables
 I never liked vegetables, because they never tasted that great to me. There are green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, starchy vegetables like pumpkins, carrots, turnips, and sweet potatoes, there are tomatoes, and there are grasses.

You can eat well-cleaned and natural fresh vegetable in a salad, flavored with honey, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh good-smelling herbs. I love making vinaigrettes to pour over salad – they are enjoyable even to non-vegans and make a good addition to a meal.

You can make a “roasted vegetable” salad by roasting pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, and other starchy vegetables. Roasted vegetables are delicious, seasoned with herbs.

Thirdly, several varieties of vegetables can be lightly steamed, blanched, or fried, for example broccoli or brussel sprouts. It is important to consume raw as well as cooked vegetables as cooking vegetables often bring out their best nutrients.

Of course there are other non-animal organisms consumed on a lower scale, such as mushrooms, fungi, etc. that can be considered “plant” based. They are also delicious and benefitial. Some harness the natural fermenting properties of food to preserve them. Pickles, fermented carrots, fermented alcoholic beverages, etc. have been used for millennia to preserve food. Fermentation has been long known to promote digestion and consuming good bacterium also does too.  

3)      Herbs
Herbs are either “soft” or “hard”. Soft herbs are like leaves and vegetables. Hard herbs are like dried berries and tree bark. Herbs are very medicinal, meaning, full of benefits for our body.

You can make herb teas, out of fresh or dried herbs, flavored with honey. Lemongrass tea, for example, fights cancer and disease. Many herbs have a long list of health benefits. Sometimes you may need a concentrated dose of herbs, and you should make a thick tea, called can infusion, with less liquid. Some people make tinctures by infusing a large proportion of herbs in vinegar, alcohol, or honey. Herbs infused in oil or made into curry pastes are very delicious in cooking.

Aloe vera is a herb that is good for you both internally and externally.

4)      Legumes
Legumes are a multi-purpose food – they are vegetables, carbohydrates, and sources of protein. Sprouted legumes are delicious in a salad and nutritious, but they also can be cooked into savory dishes like dhal curry or hummus. Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines are full of legume recipes. Chinese cuisine uses sprouted beans in many, many, ways and in many dishes. Legumes like soy are also fantastic sprouted and made into tempeh, soy sauce, etc.

5)      Grains
Rice, barley, corn, oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, etc. should be consumed whole. They are energy-giving carbohydrates and can pack a powerful nutritional punch also. You should eat carbohydrates and fiber in your diet.  You can sprout many grains, and that makes them digestable. Soaking grains makes them even more digestable. Being Asian, I have a stomach built to consume grains, especially rice. Grains can be ground fresh and baked into pastries and bread. Grains can be boiled, and or eaten as raw sprouts. The easiest way to cook grains is to sprout and boil them with sufficient water so that they have the texture of cooked rice – not wet, not hard, not grainy, and not clumpy – and serve them with vegetables, herbs, spices, etc. You can also make your own natural yeasted baked or steamed whole grain bread.

6)      Seeds and nuts
Chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds – all these seeds can be consumed in so many ways. Seeds can be sprouted, freshly ground, or made into cold-pressed oils. They can go into your salad, into your bread, or just eaten on their own. Nuts are full of beneficial oils and nutrients. You can soak them, roast them, and season them with natural salt. Nuts pack a huge energy punch because they are full of oils. Nuts make good “butters”.

One superfood from a plant source is the coconut. It can be used as sugar, as milk, as meat, and as fat. Seed oils, nuts oils, nut butters, palm oil, etc. are great to use in cooking.

Nut milks, grain milks, and legume milks are a common part of vegan diets. They serve many culinary and nutritional purposes and can be consumed raw.
Fresh, natural, and non-commercially processed plant based foods are the food we were created to consume and to live, that we have been eating since Adam without additives, preservatives, artificial colors, etc. Soon, I shall make a post about animal-based foods that we have been eating since Noah and since Moses.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Natural Yeast Part 1 and 2

 Sites I found helpful:

Artisan pao in five minutes a day? - it's really possible! The yeast worked so well - I alone ate all 6 steamed buns yesterday. I'm sure this will work well with fillings too. Paos are so simple...

Wait for the upcoming future natural yeast and artisan pao in five minutes a day tutorials!

Early VEDA?

Readers may have noticed I'm been way more active on Beka's Bakery Youtube. Because I love blogging, I love vlogging, and I love making video's  I'm going to attempt to Vlog Every Day in August (VEDA).

This vlog's just going to be a natural-living, office-table, show and tell. It's going to be short and sweet - as concise as possible, etc. I admit the video quality won't be that great - but they're not meant to be tutorials, merely "video blogs".

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lamb Steak and Mashed Potatoes

Mmm... old-fashioned pioneer cooking. Peek into my cooking as I make a vintage pioneer recipe taken from the New England cookbook available free online here:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beka's Recipes: Sourdough Scones

Sourdough is has a hearty, slightly tart flavor that is very appetizing. This recipe is  similar to my pumpkin scones recipe. 

Sourdough contains naturally-occuring yeast and is full of enzymes that break down anti-nutrient phytates in grains, making it more nutritious and digestible.Too much sourdough, however, usually yields a distinctly unpleasant, overpowering, sour-tasting, baked product.

350gm bread flour (you can replace up to a third of the bread flour with wheat germ or whole wheat flour for added nutrition)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup white sugar or honey (the pumpkin is sweet, too)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

75gm butter
140gm  (1 1/4) cup liquid sourdough starter

2 tbsp milk, to brush

Baking: 200C or 400F Oven for about 30-40 minutes

1) Prepare the sourdough starter by mixing 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/4 cup sourdough starter. Let it rise/ferment overnight.
2) Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix the cream of tartar, baking soda, sugar (if you are using sugar and not honey), and salt into the flour. Rub the butter in until it becomes fine breadcrumbs. You can use a stand/hand mixer.
3) Add in the sourdough starter. (and honey) and incorporate it well. It should form a stiff but very sticky dough. Use more sourdough starter if necessary.
4) Coat your counter well with plain flour. Pat the dough, coating it well and both sides with flour and cut it out into circles. One batch will yield 12 large scones or 16 little ones (3 inches wide and 1 inch tall)
5) Brush the remainder milk on the tops of the scones. Arrange them on a well-greased baking tray and bake until golden brown on the top and bottom and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
6) Enjoy fresh, sliced in half and spread with salted butter or jam for tea. Store the scones in the freezer to preserve their freshness.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Best So Far!

Typing Test

Visit the Typing Test and try!

Typing Test

Visit the Typing Test and try!

Beka's Recipes: Pumpkin Scones 南瓜烤饼

This quick and easy recipe for Pumpkin scones yields a delightfully yellow scone, gently browned on the surface. It is sweet and rich when you bite into it, and the fluffy texture comes from the exceptionally moist dough. You can enhance the scone batter with raisins or bits of dried apricot.

350gm bread flour (you can replace up to a third of the bread flour with wheat germ or whole wheat flour for added nutrition)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup white sugar or honey (the pumpkin is sweet, too)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

75gm butter
300gm cooked and mashed pumpkin
About 1/3 - 1/2 cup of milk, as necessary

Baking: 200C or 400F Oven for about 30-40 minutes

1) Wash and cut a medium-sized fresh pumpkin into quarters. Steam, microwave, or bake the pumpkin until it is very soft, so that you can scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the skin. It should be very moist and easy to mash. Mash the pumpkin and weigh it. A medium-sized pumpkin should yield about two batches of this recipe.
2) Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix the cream of tartar, baking soda, sugar (if you are using sugar and not honey), and salt into the flour. Rub the butter in until it becomes fine breadcrumbs. You can use a stand/hand mixer.
3) Add in the pumpkin (and honey) and incorporate it well. It should form a stiff and moist dough. Mix in up to a cup of milk so that the dough is very moist and sticky.
4) Coat your counter well with plain flour. Pat the dough, coating it well and both sides with flour and cut it out into circles. One batch will yield 12 large scones or 16 little ones (3 inches wide and 1 inch tall)
5) Brush the remainder milk on the tops of the scones. Arrange them on a well-greased baking tray and bake until golden brown on the top and bottom and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
6) Enjoy fresh, sliced in half and spread with salted butter for tea. Store the scones in the freezer to preserve their freshness.

面包 低粉 350克、
细砂糖 75克、
塔塔粉 1 茶匙
小苏打 1 茶匙
盐  1/2 茶匙

无盐奶油 75克、

煮熟的南瓜 300克、

1. 剪下一个中等大小的新鲜南瓜分为四个部分。煮南瓜,直到它很软。舀出皮肤软的南瓜。捣碎的南瓜,然后测量它。一个中等大小的南瓜,应该至少有600克。

2. 混合面粉,糖,塔塔粉,小苏打和盐。黄油切成小块,用你的双手揉进面粉,黄油,直到它类似于细屑。

3. 面粉中加入捣碎的南瓜和牛奶。以及混合面团。

4. 入炉200°C,烤约30-40分钟,表面呈金黄色,出炉,趁温热即可食用。

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof Costume Study Part 1

Fiddler on the Roof is set in the fictional Ashkenazi community in Russia, Anatevka. The original book by Sholom Aleichem on which the movie was based was published in 1894. I think the film is set from 1904. Fiddler on the Roof differs greatly from Yentl. For one thing, Fiddler is filmed in more impoverished circumstances, picturing poor farming families etching out their living, whereas Yentl, and Hadass especially, have quite decent clothes and homes, lavish and prosperous in Hadass's case.

Not so with Tevye and his five daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shprintze, and Bielke. Their father is not a rabbi but a milkman, who delivers milk to both Gentile and Jew. He has no time to study, but must work hard for a living. They, too, are seem tilling the soil. In fact, the entire film was filmed through pantyhose to give the adobe-brown hue. The family is literally living close to nature and the soil.

First we shall examine the everyday working clothes of the girls. Secondly, the Sabbath outfits, then the wedding outfits, then the sweet dresses in "Chavalah", and finally winter clothes.

Tzeitel is the oldest, and in my opinion the most beautiful. She has the most gorgeous nose and face, very well-defined and sculptured. You will notice throughout the film that all the girls and women dress like true Orthodox Jews, with long sleeves and long skirts and high necklines. Golde, and later Tzeitel, covers her hair completely as she is married. Some women, like Yente, tie their headscarves in front.

The tone of most of the work-clothing is soil-like. Obviously the clothes are not fresh and new, but rather much-worn. For the blouses, you can see that Golde's workdress has a yoked bodice.

 Because this is the Edwardian era with the mutton sleeves coming into fashion, blouses were "little-house-on-the-prairie-like". You can see here that Hodel has puffy sleeves on her beige work-blouse. The work-blouses all button in front.

 Here, the lady next to Tzeitel have some vertical folds on her blouse design, also common to this era.

Small, faded prints are common both for the scarves and the blouses. The girls mostly wear a headscarf, a work-blouse, an apron, and a long skirt. The girls tie up their hair in a triangle piece of fabric. This is a simple hair-do. The hair is kept away from the face. You can see they have long, frizzy, hair that is at least waist-length.

Most aprons tie at the back and are of varying length. Here one of the younger daughters is wearing a white pinafore. This style of apron is mostly seen on younger girls. It has a bodice. You can also notice the details put in the costume designer - it has a light blue patch, signifying that it has been worn often, and most likely handed down.

 The younger girls also wear tichels (headscarves) when working and have long hair. This sweet little girl has a beautiful pink and white outfit.

So, this is the full work-costume of the girls and women in Fiddler on the Roof.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Canning and Drying Part 6: Packing and Waterbath Processing

1)      Prepare the jars. Boil and sterilize them as well as the lids. They should be kept warm so that they do not crack in the water bath. Keeping the lids warm will soften the rubber and make sealing more effection.
2)      The food to the canned should be clean. You must decide it you will can them whole or cut. The recommended procedure for different kinds of produce will be discussed later. 
3)      Scald or blanch the fruit if necessary. Blanching tomatoes, prunes, and plums will loosen their skin, making them easy to peel off. Ripe fruits must be scalded very quickly so that they do not become soft. They should never remain in the water after the skin has loosened. A wire basket or a cheesecloth will contain the fruits as you dip them in the boiling hot
a.       Blanching reduces the bulk of spinach and other greens. It also improves their flavor and partially sterilizes them.
b.      To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil. Use a wire colander to immerse the food in the boiling water, or suspend the food over the boiling water to steam it. The entire boiling-water and suspended food contraption should be covered by a lid to enclose the steam. 
c.       Blanch or steam as long as necessary - to reduce the bulk of the food, remove the skins, etc.
4)      Cold-dipping
a.       Improves color
b.      Stops softening/cooking process, making food firm and easy to handle,
c.       Loosens skin
d.      Shocks and destroys bacteria spores
e.       To cold-dip, plunge scalded, blanched, or steamed food into cold water, then remove at one.
5)      Pack the jars immediately and rapidly. Arrange the jars in order and use a spoon to fill each with the fruit/vegetable. They should be filled solidly, so as to put more food in each jar.
6)      Fill the jar with boiling hot liquid, either plain water, salt water, pickling liquid, or syrup depending on the food. Some tomatoes and greens need not have any liquid added as they will produce their own. The jars should be about half an inch from the top to leave some room for the food to boil while processing in the water bath.
7)      Prepare for the water bath processing by wiping the jar rims well. Place the jar covering and seal it.

1)      Fill a large vessel of water to a boil, tall enough to cover the jars with 2 inches of water. A tall stock pot or pressure cooker pot is excellent. 
2)      A thick folded kitchen towel or rack should be placed at the bottom of the vessel so that jars do not sit directly on the bottom of the pot. They will crack if this is not done.
3)      Bring the water to a boil while you fill the jars with food.
4)      Make sure the jars are warm and not cold. If they are cold, warm them up in some hot water before lowering into the water-bath.
5)      Lower the jars in the water using a pair of jar lifters. Make sure the jars are covered by 2 inches of water, adding water if necessary. The jars should be upright and again, resting on a rack or cloth in the bottom.
a.       Perhaps your pot has a basket for arranging the jars in a basket and lowering them into the water all at once.
6)      Cover the pot with a good lid. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for the prescribed time. Set your timer from the time the water begins to bubble violently. Use a kitchen timer or alarm clock. The boiling water will cook and sterilize the food in the jars.
When the jars are in place, put the tight-fitting cover on the sterilizer and allow the water to boil and thus cook and sterilize the food in the jars. The length of time for boiling varies with the kind of food and is given later with the directions for canning different foods. The boiling time should be counted from the instant the water in the sterilizer begins to bubble violently. A good plan to follow, provided an alarm clock is at hand, it to set it at this time, so that it will go off when the jars are to be removed from the sterilizer. Sit the jars on the countertop for 12-24 hours and check the seal, making sure that it is firm.
7)  Now label your jars with a sticker or a permanent marker, noting the date, batch, and contents.