Thursday, March 22, 2012

Simplest Whole Grain Staple: Rice

When I think about the many, complicated ways to consume whole wheat in a healthy way, I’m quite blown away. Why, to get sprouted wheat bread, one has to sprout the wheat and obtain a good grinder or Vitamix, perhaps prepare a sourdough starter, get a mixer to mix the bread or cake, and finally bake and slice it. It’s quite complicated – there’s a lot of work and technique involved in the many processes to get a healthy loaf of bread on your table.

We Asians have been eating rice for centuries, and really, it can just be very simple to consume whole grains  - cook them like rice. I love rice with everything. I eat a lot of it, and I’d like to show you a quick, no-fuss way, to include wonderful grains like wheat, buckwheat, rye, wild rice, brown rice, corn, and beans, and even kefir and whey into your diet. My family eats this so often, not just because we are health conscious but because as Asians, we LOVE rice.

You can do this in your home. Do you have a campfire? A cookstove? A crock pot? Just a little fire outside your hut? You can do this. It’s really simple. And then this makes good rice suitable to eat with any sort of dish – soup, curry, fried chicken, etc. And it makes the most fantastic fried rice, because it’s fantastic grainy and does not stick (and yet is soft), requiring less oil.
Spicy Fried Rice in a Wok

1)      Dry ingredients
Here in a dark cupboard I have large containers of rice. Brown rice, mostly, but also white rice because it stores well. When you bring your rice home in a sack, store it in the freezer for a couple days, at least 72 hours, to kill the weevil and their babies, especially if you store lots of rice like we do. In Asia, some people can’t eat bread or noodles for a meal – they must have rice. Rice is very important to us.

Next to our staple brown rice I have some jars here of whole grains – rye, black rice, wheat berries, and buckwheat. Red rice, millet, barley, and soaked corn and beans can also go into your rice.

A rice cooker cup is ¾ cup. That’s a portion for two people. Into each ¾ cup I add 2tbsp of any other grain, and then I fill it up to the top with brown rice. Then I throw it into my rice cooker pot. It’s simple to throw together a pot of rice with lots of different grains. My favorite grains to add are organic wheat and organic rye. Black rice colors all other grains purple.

2)      Washing
Now the proportion of water to rice is 2:1. 2 parts liquid, 1 part rice. If your adding beans (of virtually any kind), soak them overnight, rinse and add them as part of the dry mixture. My rice cooker bowl has the exact measurements on the side for the total volume of rice + water, so I only need to follow the markings on the side of the bowl as I wash my rice. That’s good, because if I plan to soak, I really need the markings at the time so that the total amount of liquid absorbed by the rice is fixed.

Wash the rice several times, filling the bowl with water, agitating the water, and draining it out. Remove stones or weevils, if there are any. I then fill the cooker bowl halfway to the top with water, and then add fill up to the mark with yogurt whey, cheese whey, kefir whey, etc. You may want to soak the grains with the measured water and whey for 7-8 hours. It breaks down the phytic acid.

If you don’t have whey, that’s fine. You can use just water up to the proper mark. Later we’ll talk about variations that use different liquids as flavoring.

As I type, the rice is cooking and the whey smells fantastic, and it won’t leave any marked taste, just a faint richness of flavor in the rice.

3)      Cooking
The easiest way to cook rice is in a rice cooker. You can boil it on the stove, cook it on the microwave, etc. You’d have to develop a technique of your own so as not to burn the rice.

A great energy-saving way is with a thermo-cooker or a crock pot. A thermo-cooker is something that keeps food warm like a themos, only for soup and things like that. Bring the rice and water to a boil in the pot, and then place in the thermos for ½ an hour or so. It may take shorter or longer. The grains will come out perfect, only it takes longer than in a rice cooker.

After cooking the rice should be uncovered. Let sit for a while for the steam to escape and the remaining liquid to be absorbed so that the texture is perfect. 

4)      Serve
Your rice will not be hard, not will they stick together. They will have absorbed the liquid perfectly. They may be slightly chewy for one used to very soft white rice, but my family likes it that way. You may need to add more liquid for your family. This goes extremely well with Asian cooking like Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or Indian.

Next post, I will share with you how to make lacto-fermented yogurt Briyani, full of delicious and nourishing spices, and then I will share with you a recipe for Chinese chicken rice, which is extremely tasty and full of beneficial animal fat. I will also share with you how to make spinach and tomato porridge, which is softer than rice, but is  very delicious despite its looks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Montage of Tutorials

There’s nothing so beautiful so place around the home as masterpieces of God’s working – spruces, ferns, and flowers – whether living in pots, dried, and cut.

Learn to embellish with dried moss here

Having nature so near us in a real way is living testimony to the creative splendor of God. Flowers remind us temporal beauty – bright and bold but eventually fading away. 

Here are several ways to accent your home in a simple manner:
1)      Potted plants

Learn about houseplants here:
Learn about houseplants here

Herbs are both utilitarian and beautiful. Keeping them in sweet, pastel-colored pots by the kitchen window is attractive and handy. 

How to grow herbs in your kitchen

Ferns, cactus, and other plants add a breath of air to a dining room, aesthetically and physically. They are living furniture that grow and change. Leaves clean the air flowers fill it with fragrance. Building your interior decoration around clean, pretty pots than can be stenciled, embellished, as accent as you wish. 

How to Paint a Pot

If you are really artistic, try keeping miniature plants,  - a variety of sweet little plants in pots decorated with little baubles, stones, and  tiny furniture. They are so charming. 

Plants can grow on walls. They are really a work of art no man can produce – how their vines twirl, how the flowers bloom, how the leaves spread. The front doorstep of a house can be vastly improved with a row of pots, a miniature garden, or a climbing ivy.

Winter is a good time to have indoors plants, for when all the world outside is dead and frosty, the warmth and living beauty of the home is so enticing.
2)      Cut flowers
Cut flower don’t last, sadly. However they teach us many lessons about beauty and its passing. Nevertheless a cut flower or two is a very appropriate decorate. Anything can be creatively used to hold extra fresh flowers from the garden – tin cans, old glasses, pitchers, boots, typewriters. Freshly cut flowers and ferns are simply to care for and replace, especially  during spring and summer.

Spring and summer are times of cut flowers, when nature is so abloom you just want to carry some of that excess beauty indoors. The best flowers are those you have cultivated and grown with loving care.
Even if you are strictly utilitarian, basil, beans, tomatoes, and other practical plants do blossom prettily. Flowers attract beneficial insects like bees, who fertilize plants and produce honey. Roses and hisbiscus, for example, have practical value as herbs.

It is delightful to cut a bouquet of flowers and assemble them on the dining table for special company.Learn to arrange flowers...
3)      Potpourri
Dried herbs and flowers sing of the Autumn, thanksgiving, and everything brown and spicy in-between. They are beautiful, versatile, and keep insects at bay. They keep clothes and cupboards smelling rich and pleasant. Potpourri in a vase or bowl, or stuck to a candle or in a sachet, keep the fragrance of summer alive in the home. They keep for the longest time.
Some wonderful ideas include: Clove pomanders, Eden roomboxes, decorated candles, pine-cones

4)      Pressed Flowers
Pressed Flowers are a tiny and tangible link to the memories of past springs and summers. They can be collected through a lifetime and made a part of feminine stationary. Pressed flowers are little surprises that you gather in springtime and summer, forget about in autumn, and unearth in winter as you open up that old book and discovery a pleasant surprise that keeps the summer hope alive within you.
Pressed flowers make beautiful picture-frame fillers and hand-made paper. They seem so sweet and delicate. They can be used a decoupage pieces. In scrapbooking, flowers are tangible memories. Keep flowers and press them. Your wedding bouquet of purple roses, the flowers you got when your first child was born and when he was big enough to toddle and pick spring flowers to bring to mamma, the overwhelming bouquets presented at your great-grandmother’s funeral, the petunias your cousin brought when your thirdborn was in the hospital for a procedure, etc.

Flowers remind us to treasure people. A wise woman once said, “Never bring flowers to a funeral if you never bothered to bring them flowers when they were alive.”
Simple, back-to-basics living means living a slow-paced life full of joy and gratefulness, faith and love, strength and being a blessing to others.    


A Study in Kosher (Outfit)


Above: Rivka Malka is gorgeous! She has a fun and spiritual youtube channel and website, teaching women how to be modest and beautiful. Check her out! 

Below: For doing tichels, I suggest trying using a firm stock hose with the legs tucked in as a base underneath  that keeps all the stray hairs in. It's cooler (temperature-wise) than tying several tiechels on for effect. Start with a thin, tight, base of stocking hose, maybe even a pin bun. (This works for Amish hairstyles too, I'll wager, with pins for a bun)  

Picking a kosher outfit is not difficult, provided you have the right tools. I use the stocking-like inside camisoles for extra sleeves. This outfit was for baking, gardening, and cleaning. The blouse was Tesco and the camisole was from an Arabic shop.

Below: Why buy a book called "Kosher Sutra" when you can create your own "Kosher Something". My pick: "Kosher Elbows!" Check.

Kosher tops. Like the colors?

Kosher hemline! Check. (But not kosher feet.) Kosher feet are not barefooted. Opaque, knee-high black stockings are good.

Kosher neckline. Check! No collarbones showing.(But not kosher hair. See the video for Kosher Hair)

Kosher  Outfit, though some, I would reckon, find it not Kosher Loose enough. It's comfy and good for making  youtube videos.

Disclaimer: I am in NO way, absolutely no way, making fun of frum people. I admire them absolutely and dress kosher lots of times. Tzinuis a great guideline for modesty. I love tiechels and long sleeves. I dress this way at home, when I'm cooking, cleaning, etc.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

God vs. smartphones, cars, facebook, youtube

Amish Martha Miller gives sound wisdom to youth.

Churros - Preliminary Recipe

2 cups water
220gm oil
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
284gm all-purpose flour
7-9 eggs 

Bring the water, oil, sugar, and salt to a full rolling boil. Remove the saucepan from heat dump in all the flour at once. Stir the flour until it becomes a spongy ball and leaves the side of the pan. Stir continuously, return the mixture to low heat and cook the mixture for another 3 minutes to cook the flour. 

Beat in one egg at the time, whisking or beating, until the mixture is glossy, shiny, and soft. Add more water as necessary. The batter will be quite wet, too soft to hold peaks when lifted with a spoon.
Pipe the batter in long strips in a deep-fryer without a basket until golden brown and crispy. They will rise to the top, so flip them over in the boiling oil when they are light brown on one side. The oil should be 190 Celsius 

I served them sprinkled with cinnamon, but rolling them in ground cinnamon + sugar is also good.
This recipe is not nutritious at all, but still is wonderful treat and has the most addictive flavor and sweetness. We could hardly keep our hands off the fresh strips. I will be working on perfect the texture, etc, but the flavor is just where I like it. I find that piping it from a 1-cm wide star nozzle provides the crispiest churros – for this recipe thin is better. I can’t seem to get the fat, crispy, air-bubbly churros yet.

Understanding - this recipe is based on Rose Levy's Beranbaum's Cordon Rose Cream Puff Pastry  from the Pie and Pastry Bible with some major variations. I use all eggs, and oil instead of butter. I also use bleach all-purpose flour 'cos that's what I have on hand. The sugar is x24.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to Develop a Good Crispy Buttermilk Deepfried Chicken Marinade (Works for baked or pan-fried chicken too)

Buttermilk Deepfried Chicken is the method of double-seasoning chicken, once through a buttermilk-based liquid marinade, and another through a dry seasoning mix. 

  • ·         Have your chicken properly cleaned
  • ·         Make cuts in the parts where there is plenty for meat for the chicken to absorb the flavourful marinade and for the meat to cook evenly
  • ·         Pat your chicken pieces dry with paper towels

For the basic buttermilk marinade:
  1.  ·         Start with your buttermilk base, 2-3 tablespoons of buttermilk per  chicken. You can use yogurt, kefir, or any other lacto-fermentation
  2. ·         If you are doing kosher, use some non-dairy milk like almond or oat as your base, or else some mild-flavored liquid or fat other than plain water. Perhaps coconut milk yogurt, or almond milk refir, or something healthy of that sort. Add some sour taste, like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, to the liquid, 1 tbsp for every cup of liquid if its not fermented. EGG also makes A GREAT marinade.
  3. NEW! This just in, I just got a light-bulb flash in my head - the KOSHER alternative to yogurt in all marinades would be SOURDOUGH. It's fantastic, tastes sour, is full of great enzymes beneficial to you, and you can use the leftover sourdough starter you normally discard. Mixing egg and liquid sourdough I believe will produce the best results. 
  4. ·         Salt is VERY important. You need to experiment to be able to naturally give the chicken enough salt. Soy sauce also adds to saltiness, so if you wish to add some in, reduce the salt. Sea salt is the most flavorful and healthy.
  5. ·         Pepper – you  need spicy spices. pepper has lots of benefits. Cayenne, dried chilli, and black pepper are very important, black pepper being vital. White pepper is also very good with it.
  6. ·         Sauces – Mustard add interest. Worcestershire is good for all-round taste. Tabasco gives it a sour edge. A teaspoon for every four pieces of chicken?
  7. ·         Sour – Some lemon juice? Balsamic Vinegar?
  8. ·         Herbs – herbs are SO important. Use whatever you have on hand. Dried thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill, and sage are some fantastic, aromatic, and tasty herbs that are good for your health too
  9. ·         Onion and Garlic – dried or pureed, they add wonderful flavors
Tips for buttermilk marinade 
  • ·         Mix your marinade before adding chicken. Then you can taste it, without fear of raw meat bacteria.
  • ·         Add in the chicken pieces, and stir well. Hands are good for this but if you wish to add more seasoning it can be tricky. Don’t contaminate clean bottles with raw meat! 
  • ·         If there is not enough liquid to spread the seasoning, add more buttermilk! The meat should be well-coated, and wet, but you don’t want to waste excess buttermilk liquid on the marinade.
  • ·         Let the chicken sit for some time, at least 15 minutes. Keep away from flies. Keep the meat cold when marinating too prevent spoilage. You can marinade meat overnight in the fridge for greater flavor.

For the flour seasoning
  1. ·         Flour – Whole wheat or brown rice flour is very good. You can use any healthy flour!
  2. ·         Cornmeal – adds a delicious crisp texture!
  3. ·         Oats – Add chewiness and extra fiber
  4. ·         Salt – must be adequate. Taste the flour to make sure  that it is slightly on the salty side.
  5. ·         Pepper
  6. ·         Herbs – you can add more dry seasoning to the batter if you are not doing a liquid marinade.
  7. ·         Milk powder – again, if not doing a marinade, milk powder makes great-tasting dry seasoning
  8. ·         Dry chicken stock cubes – can be rubbed into the chicken for quick flavor or added to a dry seasoning. They usually contain Monosodium Glutamate so I do not use them. 

To coat the pieces:
  • ·         Coat the pieces one at a time
  • ·         Shake off excess dry seasoning so that you not dirty your oil
  • ·         You can dip the chicken several times alternately in dry and liquid seasoning for a thick batter
  • Why coat the chicken? Simply this - the wet marinade will make the chicken stick inside your deepfry basket... very icky and messy. Always coat the chicken fresh with flour right before frying. If you coat the chicken too early, the flour will get wet and, again, stick. The surface of the chicken must be dry. 

Frying the chicken
  • ·         Always wear gloves
  • ·         Always take the highest safety precautions.
  • ·         Always keep  young children away
  • ·         Keep all wet utensils away!
  • ·         If you are deep frying over the stove, turn the pot handle away from you so that you do not accidently tip over the entire pot of boiling oil while walking by
  • ·         Keep the surrounding area protected with newspaper, but not to near lest they catch fire. I’m talking about the surrounding floor and counter here.
  • ·         Wear sleeves and an apron to prevent oil splash burns
  • ·         190 Celcius or 375 Fahrenheit is perfect for chicken
  • ·         Different pieces of chicken take different amounts of time to cook.
  • ·         Cook your meat for 5 minutes, and check every 2-3 minutes after that to determine the amount of time if takes for each piece to cook.
  • ·         When done, the chicken should be golden brown and crisp, having an internal temperature of AT LEAST 160 Fahrenheit. White meat should register a higher temperature, dark meat lower.
  • ·         Keep a plate covered with paper towels nearby to collect the freshly fried goods.
  • ·         Handle the chicken pieces with tongs
  • It’s so fun and exciting to develop your favorite seasoning and flavors for fried chicken, adding in secret ingredients and stirring them up. It really is a very simple technique that your family will absolutely love! Remember that this seasoning technique works well for other methods of cooking too, as well as other styles of cooking like Chinese or Mediteranean.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tube Roll Soap Labels

 These don't last long. They fade. I'll have to find a way to make them last longer.
 When I shop for acryllic yarn, I look for those particular lots with a pretty shade and sheen. This is so easy. Just a chain.
 Made matching ones.
Made matching ones with an elementary, cute, flower. The bottle's green is highlighted by the olive crochet.

 Just a chain Pretty simple.

 Snip a poo tube roll until half. Punch four holes. It's curved, so it'll fit real well over a round bottle.

There. You don't need a lot of equipment. 

I don't have fancy letterings, stencils, or anything. Just a felt-tip pen to do vintage lettering imitation..

There. So cheap. The materials hardly cost anything.

Freshly Churned Raw Butter

I'm fascinated with the idea of cultured butter. Really, it sounds so good. Ideally, home-churned butter from pasture cows should be golden, beautifully golden. That means its full of vitamins and goodness. Churning your own butter is so fun. I've always wanted to do it. Washing butter, however, is extremely messy.

Butter - soft, squishable, and seasoned. I always make lots of seasoned butter. Take 2 cups of butter and let it soften. In a container, drizzle olive oil over it. Oh, about a quarter cup. A teaspoon of salt of more, sprinkle that over. Get your black pepper grinder and generously powder the surface of the butter with pepper both chunky and fine. Some thyme would be nice. Be generous with herbs. Some dill goes in. Oregano. Plenty of rosemary. Crush in lots, lots of garlic.

When it's time to fry fresh mushrooms, throw in a few tablespoons of herb butter and let the butter melt and the garlic season. That's instant, and fantastic.

Spread some on bread and toast it. Heavenly. The olive oil, the more you put, makes the herb butter penetrate to the very heart of a slice of French baguette. I make whole loaves of this.

Grill vegetables, add garlic herb butter.

Any kind of potatoes would love this. Imagine roast potatoes, herbed. Fried potatoes. Oh, I do fried potatoes in herb butter. It's the best thing.

You can add herb butter to anything. It's that good. What more if it's fresh, raw, cultured butter.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

10 Loaves of Bread

I was happily busy in the kitchen yesterday. The weekend past was spent at a “holiday” home running around, jumping on and off bicycles in skirts (if the Mennonites can do it, why can’t I?), making newspaper balls, staying up late, making notebooks, and helping with cooking and washing - altogether a wholesome trip.

On Monday I remembered that we’re ought of bread, so I set out to make 4 rounds (8 loaves) of Country Seed Bread. We’re almost out of yeast and wheat flour.

Cranberry Walnut
Carrot Raisin (pulp from carrot juice added to bread dough, made it extra moist ) And 1 tsp of cinnamon is enough.

Apple Raisin Cinnamon (very moist, nice)

I continued baking the whole afternoon and mixed up two batches of really quick Pan De Mie Sandwich bread from the Bread Bible. It’s the simplest recipe in the whole book, I believe, with only one rise. I added a bit of atta flour to the plain white bread, and it was still very light, white, and fluffy. To the green bread I added Pandan juice instead of water, a little oil instead of butter. They both turned out very light.

So, ten loaves of bread in one afternoon. I managed to clean up everything and wasn’t so tired after it.  

bean season

This is a corner of my humble garden that looks rather wild. I have lots of things growing but really very little space. 

These pretty green gram/mung beans were brought back from idea. The idea about growing beans is

1) Rich compost soil
2) Good spacing - don't overcrowd. You will get longer, bigger beans
3) Keep the ants away. Here's when I did a baking soda sprinkle, but I found that a vinegar spray is the most effective.

Some major overcrowding going on here. Something to seriously change next season!

Coptic Stitch Addiction


I went with my friend to Little Syam's Bookbinding Workshop for two sessions: Coptic and Kettle Binding. it was fun. The food at the Tea Republic was great, provided for too. Cakes, cheesecakes, croissant sandwhich for lunch. Everything was yummy and I learned so much. I'm so glad we stay for the second session.

It was great fun too, and I decided to make a video to share what I learned and to see if I'm doing it right. Look... a whole day's work and a skill learned for a lifetime.

We learned to make the holes for elastic and the book corners

My favorite was coptic stitch

The graduated crochet yarn used was so pretty!

This kind of book if open-bound

At the corner here is kettle stitch - very pretty too

We used unbleached paper

Aren't the butterflies sweet?
Inside view

A book that opens FLAT

There is a world of potential in bookbinding - think of paper-making, journal-making, art-journaling, scrapbooking, embelishments, family heirlooms, recipe books, painting, sketching, embroidery, bead-work, flower-pressing - the sky's the limit! I dream of making a library of hand-bound books filled with knitting patterns, crochet patterns, recipes, herb information, pictures,