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Fermented Garlic

I’m a few days late and I missed a few posts… but I was busy trying not to get sick and working long hours (never a good combo). Here’s what I managed to jot down in my free time. 🙂

This stuff. This stuff right here is going to be our savior from the impending vampire apocalypse. Okay. Maybe not. But when my roommate’s fiance saw the massive crock of garlic fermenting on the kitchen counter, he did ask me if I was getting ready to ward off vampires. Without blinking an eye, I replied, “Of course I am.” haha! And if by “vampires”, he meant flu season, than I really wasn’t lying.

Fermented garlic is about the easiest thing possible. But it takes three months to make. That’s right. And you can’t touch it or open it. It’s brutal. The end result makes it all worthwhile – you have a product that tastes like garlic, but isn’t hot like usual raw garlic. In fact, garlic in and of itself is pretty amazing.

It’s a natural antimicrobial. Here’s the study from the National Institute of Health if you don’t believe me. The abstract:

Allicin, one of the active principles of freshly crushed garlic homogenates, has a variety of antimicrobial activities. Allicin in its pure form was found to exhibit i) antibacterial activity against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including multidrug-resistant enterotoxicogenic strains of Escherichia coli; ii) antifungal activity, particularly against Candida albicans; iii) antiparasitic activity, including some major human intestinal protozoan parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia; and iv) antiviral activity. The main antimicrobial effect of allicin is due to its chemical reaction with thiol groups of various enzymes, e.g. alcohol dehydrogenase, thioredoxin reductase, and RNA polymerase, which can affect essential metabolism of cysteine proteinase activity involved in the virulence of E. histolytica.

In normal speak, there’s a compound called allicin which is contained in raw garlic. It has four main antimicrobial activities when used in its pure form, i.e. raw. First, it is effective in fighting e.coli. Second, it’s an anti-fungal and some people will put it on fungal infections on the skin or, ingested, it will help with a candida overgrowth. Third, it’s a natural anti-parasitic. And, finally, it’s an antiviral. That last point – I’m digging it. Next time the doctor says you have a virus and there’s nothing you can do, go home and eat some garlic. I don’t like the heat of raw garlic and cooking it makes you lose the qualities… so a few months ago, I started fermenting some.

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There’s more health benefits associated with garlic and I’ll post those later. I’m lazy. And on my lunch break. 🙂

Fermented Garlic

  • lots of heads of garlic – enough to fit in the desired jar you’ll be using
  • A jar with a lid, make sure it’s clean – I wrote about which kinds of jars I like when I posted the South American Sauerkraut recipe
  • 33 grams Kosher sea salt (NO IODINE!)
  • a scale that will weigh the sea salt
  • 1 qt water, left on the counter for 30 minutes without a lid (so the chlorine evaporates off)
  1. Remove the garlic paper/peels, bruised spots, and any green shoots.
  2. Weigh out salt and add to water. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Place garlic in the jar, arraigning it so it’s packed in.
  4. Slowly pour the salt water over garlic and carefully work any remaining air bubbles.
  5. Place a dunker in the jar (a clean rock or glass plate), seal the lid and let sit. This stuff with foam and leak! Place it in a dish and “burp” it a few times a day at the onset.
  6. Let sit on the counter for about one month and then place in the fridge and let it sit for another month or two.

Feel free to sample a garlic clove to test for “doneness” – the clove should no longer be hot and you should be able to eat lots and lots without burning your mouth. If it is still hot, seal the jar back up and let it sit in the fridge for a bit longer. Also, if the brine starts to look cloudy with small white particulates, that’s alright – you’re doing it correctly. If it starts to grow mold, dump it out.

Latin American Sauerkraut

If you had asked me six months ago if I thought I would be fermenting my own sauerkraut, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now I find myself fermenting sauerkraut and loving it. It’s delicious. And fresh. And so so so different from the crap you buy in a jar at the grocery store. Imagine that! Fresh sauerkraut is crunchy, tangy, and not overly vinegary. And, most importantly, it’s easy. Oh, and it’s good for you. Like, really really really good for you. In case you haven’t caught my drift, here’s one more “really” to get my point across: REALLY.

And it tastes really good. As in my friends who were lamenting that they “hate sauerkraut” and “how could you make this” blah, blah, blah, LOVED it. In fact, they loved it so much, they might have eaten the rest of my lunch.

Now, if you’ve never had fresh fermented foods: be cautious. Too much could cause die-off and no one wants that. Seriously. It’s not fun. Die-off is caused when the bacteria and yeast in your gut die off and start releasing their toxins into your system. The result: what looks like, acts like and feels like the flu. But really isn’t the flu. Try telling that to your body. Which means…

  • muscle aches
  • fever
  • chills
  • headaches
  • skin rashes
  • brain fog
  • excess mucus production
  • increased GI problems – it gets worse before it gets better
  • and a whole myriad of other issues

So now that I have you all terrified, here’s the good news: you have to eat a whole lot to cause it. When you first introduce sauerkraut or other fresh lacto-fermented foods into your diet, do it in small quantities. A small portion of sauerkraut, like a ¼ cup will suffice. And increase from there. You may notice a bit of stomach gurgling after you eat it the first few times – that’s okay. That would be the good bacteria waging a war the likes of the movie “300” on the bad bacteria. 

A few notes before we get started – cabbage is one of the Clean 15 and does not need to be organic. You will need a jar that you can burp. I write about which jars I like in my Fermented Red Potatoes post. And, finally, you will want to put the sauerkraut somewhere where you don’t mind a little stank while it ferments. Some of the juices will leak out and it can be mildly smelly. Not too bad. Make sure you place a pie dish or something under it so you don’t have a huge mess to clean up on your counter.

Latin American Sauerkraut

  • 1 head cabbage, washed, cored and shredded 
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • ¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp sea salt (no iodine!!!!!!)

  1. In a large bowl sturdy bowl (I use a massive stainless steel bowl), mix all of the ingredients
  2. Now comes the fun part: Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage starts juicing well. You will see it becoming more and more wet as the time goes on and when it is finished, you will be able to squeeze some in your hand and have the juices run between your fingers.
  3. Place in 1- or 2- quart, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the cabbage. Do this in small increments, making sure to have all of the air bubbles pressed out.
  4. Place the lid on the jars and let sit on the counter for 14 days (after three days, there will be bacteria growth and after 14 days, there is a more complete panel). Place in the refrigerator and let sit for an additional week – do not open during this time.
  5. Open jars once a day during the sitting-on-counter phase to allow gas to escape. 
  6. Sauerkraut will keep indefinitely in the fridge. Enjoy!

Recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Chicken Fat

Today’s blog post will probably go against everything that you’ve ever been taught about how to eat. I suggest you sit while you read it. I, probably like many of you, grew up under the notion that consuming animal skin was bad for you. There was so much fat and fat and more fat that it was just no bueno. Ready to have your world rocked?

Wrong-o.

Consuming chicken skin isn’t bad for you. Nor is rendering the fat from it. Only one caveat: not all skins are created equal. Meaning that if we’re talking about our “normal bought at a conventional store” product, probably not the best idea. The skin and fat stores things – like toxins, excess self-produced hormones (chickens are not allowed to be fed/injected with hormones in the US, if you buy chicken because it’s “hormone-free”, you’re being duped) and other icky stuff you really don’t want in your body. 

Conventional chicken skins are raised in a mass barn, where the chickens are crammed in with each other, often walking on dead chickens, with no sunlight and crappy feed. Mmmm… I don’t know about you, but if I were being raised that way, I’d probably be pretty sickly, not grow well and be nutrient deficient. The same goes for the birds – if they’re raised in a crappy environment, they’re not going to produce the same quality of meat which means you’re not going to get the same nutrient panel from them. So, moral of the story: eating organic, free-range humanely raised chicken isn’t just a Portlandia joke, it’s really really much better for your health.

Now to talk about chicken feed. There’s a newish movement to feed chickens vegetarian feed. When you see that, think chemical shit storm. Seriously. While chickens aren’t allowed to be given hormones, they’re allowed to be given soy…. which acts an an estradiol. Which means… they’re being given a nutrient that works to create excess hormones in their body. See where I’m going with this?  mmmm – excess estrogen ingested into our bodies. Sign me up for none of that, please.

Further, chickens don’t eat soy. Nor do they eat a vegetarian diet. Like most birds, they’re foragers. And they eat bugs. They’re actually really good at bug population control – especially ticks and mosquitos. Those bird brains LOVE to eat them. A chicken that eats a natural diet is going to yield more healthful nutrients in its skin – like high levels of vitamin D3 and gut-healing properties. So… what does all of this have to do with chicken skins?

I buy my chicken skins from New Seasons here in Portland. A few times a year, I give the butcher at my local store a ring and request some of the organic, free-range chicken skins. He quotes me at $.99/lb and I tell him I want 5 pounds. It’s pretty easy. As he processes the meat, he throws them into a bag and puts it in the deep freeze. I get a call after a few days saying that my skins are ready and I drive over to pick them up and get a few weird looks/questions while I’m at it. You can set up a similar scenario at your local organic/natural foods store – but the prices will vary from store to store so go with what your butcher tells you. 🙂 I portion the skins out and freeze them into quart bags. I’ll process one pound at a time – it usually renders around a pint and a half. If any of you are good at math, that’s super cheap.

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Okay – so enough rambling. Here’s what I do to render the fat and eat the skins.

Chicken Fat

  • 1 pound chicken fat, washed and cut into smaller pieces (check for boney pieces and cut them out)
  • ½ cup of water
  • a large stock pot and a splatter screen (those things pop!)
  1. Layer the chicken skins on the bottom of a deep skillet or a dutch oven (I prefer the dutch oven, personally.)
  2. Dump the water in the pot and turn the stove top on to medium-high heat.
  3. Mix occasionally.
  4. You will start seeing golden fat float to the top along with some pieces of skin – it it looks more like skin and less like fried crispy goodness, keep going. Also, if you still see bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, keep going. This indicates water is still at the bottom. And when you use the fat, it’ll pop and you’ll get burned with hot oil. Again, no bueno.
  5. When the bubbles stop rising and the skin is completely golden and crispy, you’re done.
  6. Let the fat cool for a minute or two and prepare a fine mesh colander with some cheesecloth (this strains out the cracklings and small pieces). Place in a bowl and pour the fat through it.
  7. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to your glass storage container. Label and place in the fridge. Fat will last for a long, long while.
  8. With the cracklings, sprinkle some sea salt or pink salt and let cool – they make a healthy and delicious snack. Enjoy!

I use the fat to cook everything from eggs to smothering it between the skin and meat of a whole chicken to pan frying my broccoli to sauteing just about any vegetable.  Also, if you need more fat in the pan while you’re cooking, don’t be afraid of glopping it in. The uses are endless. Enjoy!

Fermented Red Potatoes… Pt 2

A few days ago, I posted this bad boy. And a few of you messaged me to find out what I was talking about with the white stuff at the bottom. So, I took a picture of it the other day and here it is.

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Mmmm… Sludge.

This stuff at the bottom is the starch and toxins that have been pulled out of the potatoes. Pretty gross, huh? There was even more when I dumped the potatoes into the colander to be rinsed out, but you get the drift.

In case some of you were wondering what I do with the potatoes once I’m done fermenting them: For this last batch, I roasted those puppies with olive oil, fresh rosemary and Pink Himalayan salt with truffles (from Trader Joe’s). 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. They were fantastic! (And once again, my roommates were lamenting that the house smelled like a restaurant. Sorry, ladies.)

Soy Controversy – Living Without Article

Soy Controversy – Living Without Article

Oven Bacon

Bacon. Is there anything more superb in the whole meat kingdom? (If any of you say “Yes,” we’re no longer friends… kidding. But seriously.) Anyway, my love of bacon is nothing new – my roommates know when I’m cooking it because the whole house smells like heaven. I’ve also been known to sport the bacon socks on a run or when I’m working out. And my friends in general hear me praise the meat almost non-stop.

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However, I hate cooking bacon in the morning when I’m in a rush and have slept in. There are usually 15 other things I need to be doing on those days in order to get out the door and get to work on time.

To solve this little problem, I started baking my bacon. It’s fast, easy, and has minimal clean-up. Also, it’s easier to capture the fat to add to my mason jar that I keep in the fridge. By the way, I use the fat to cook everything – eggs, chicken, saute onion, pan fry broccolini, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower… the list goes on and I’m too lazy to write it all out.

Back to bacon, it’s important to select a good quality meat. A lot of the bacon you buy in packages at the store is crap. Absolute and total crap. Bacon is supposed to have a long cure time. The way many commercial producers make it forces a brining period of a few hours due to a massive use of chemicals. Mmm… chemicals. Tasty. Also, look out for the sweetener – a lot of bacon uses high fructose corn syrup to sweeten it. When you read those words, think “Chemical shit storm.” There’s really no other way to say it.

I generally buy my bacon from New Seasons here in the Portland area. They use a traditional brining process and a honey cure. It’s not pasture-raised meat (and I do buy pasture-raised when I can), but it’s the next best thing. They also sell their bits and pieces for a pretty steep discount – if you don’t mind cutting up chunks of bacon into thinner pieces, it’s definitely the way to go. Search out a vendor in your area that sells good bacon. You might end up paying a little bit more for it but sometimes you have to dish out money to get a better quality product. If you find that your vendor sells bits and pieces, buy those. Unless you’re cooking for guests or it’s a holiday, chances are you and your family aren’t going to care if your bacon is completely picturesque. They’re just going to want to eat it ASAP. Or, visit US Wellness Meats. (I don’t get paid by them… I just really like their products.) Best of luck!

Oven Bacon

  • Line a jellyroll pan (one that has the short sides) with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Lay bacon onto the pan and place in a cold oven.
  • Turn the oven on to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the degree of crispy you like. Monitor closely toward the end.
  • Remove from oven and promptly remove bacon from the hot fat to stop the cooking process.
  • Allow the fat to cool a bit and then drain into a jar for later use or, let fat harden on the paper/foil and toss. Wash pan (which should be relatively clean) and you’re done!

And yes. Seriously. It’s that easy. Here’s some before and after pics from this morning. My pan was still clean when I was done – yey for no dishes! (Sorry for the pics, I slept in, was a in a rush and my trusty 4S came to my rescue.)

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Grapefruit Torte

Fresh citrus in the winter is one of my favorite things. It’s dreary here in NW Oregon and the cloud cover and constant drizzle (this year it’s just cold, not a lot of drizzle), really puts a damper on the mood. It’s no wonder people around here take Vitamin D supplements, fake-and-bake and become snowbirds to beat the winter blues. I’m a fan of Vitamin D and take a large dose of it a day. I’m also a fan of eating happy fruit. I don’t know why, but I consider citrus happy fruit. This breakfast dessert is fantastic. And super easy to make. So easy, in fact, that most people will think you slaved over it when they eat it. When they make those comments, smile sweetly and say “Thank you” – this recipe will be our little secret. Unless you decide to share it with them.

For the crust, I use Danielle Walker’s, of Against All Grain, honey graham pie crust. It’s good. It’s easy. And it hasn’t failed me yet. If you don’t know who she is, check her out. Her story is fascinating and an inspiration to those of us with digestive health problems. I had the pleasure of meeting her a few months back – she’s so sweet and if I lived in San Fran, I’m sure she and I would be the best of friends. Or so I tell myself. She’d also have to share with me where she gets her shoes. They were so totally cute.

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If you have never segmented and cleaned a grapefruit, here’s a short little video to help you out. It’s super easy. And looks fantastic. I squeeze the remaining fruit meat and drink it for a bit of fresh juice. 

And my sister being a super-nerd and getting excited for dessert:

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Enough of my rambling, on to the recipe:

Grapefruit Torte

  • One honey graham pie crust
  • 1 package organic pasture-raised cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche (it’s bacteria cultured – and is sold at Trader Joe’s for a reasonable price)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp grapefruit zest
  • 3 cups fresh grapefruit segments
  • Coarse sea salt
  1. Prepare the crust, per Danielle’s instructions on Against All Grain. If you don’t have a torte pan, use a spring form pan. Let the crust cool and leave in the pan.
  2. For the filling, combine the cream cheese, creme fraiche, honey, ginger and grapefruit zest and mix at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. 
  3. Spread mixture over crust.
  4. Line grapefruit segments on filling to cover.
  5. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over tart, slice and serve immediately.

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Bulletproof Coffee

So. I have a confession to make. I like butter. Grass-fed Irish butter. It’s my favorite.

Okay, so that’s not much of a confession. However, I like butter….

… in my coffee.

Now, while I’m sure some of you are now gagging, and really, I gagged the first time someone introduced me to it. (Thanks, Mom.) I thought she was crazy and my exact words were probably, “Mom. You’re putting straight-up FAT in your coffee, not cream… but F-A-T.” If I didn’t say that, I definitely thought it. So… I tried it. And I’m hooked. However, I make mine a bit different. She just lets a glob of butter melt on top, I blend it. And she uses salted. I love you, Mom. But, ew ew ew. Sweet-cream unsalted for this chica.

So. Butter. Why do I use it? It’s pretty magical and I’m convinced that it was delivered to us by the gods. Or something like that. In reality, grass-fed butter is super super healthy for you. Here’s a short list.

Grass-fed/pasture-raised organic butter…

  • is an anti-microbial.
  • aids in activating the immune system in the gut.
  • actually helps you absorb the nutritional qualities of coffee.
  • aids in weight loss/management. True story.
  • contains short and medium chain fatty acids, which are ready-to-use and don’t have to be converted in the gut to other chain lengths. Thus, it provides quick-burning and sustaining energy.
  • is high in saturated fat. And that’s good for you. (Your brain is 60% saturated fat… it’s kind of important that it’s in your diet. And the whole saturated fat/disease thing is a lie. All massive, big fat, liar-liar pants on fire lies.)
  • is an anti-inflammatory.
  • has tons of Vitamin K2 (only found in grass-fed animal products) – which aids in DE-CLOGGING your arteries. (You might want to be sitting from this point on, your world is about to be rocked again.)
  • and, finally, it’s high in CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid. It’s a naturally occurring trans-fatty acid. And no, contrary to what we’ve been told, not all trans-fats are horrible. This one is actually necessary, and isn’t made by some crazy lab scientists working with rancid seeds and toxic chemicals. This one just occurs. Naturally. And we need it for tumor suppression, heart health, and reduced belly fat/weight loss… which it could be argued then, that having grass-fed coffee in butter might counter-act the weight-gaining properties of coffee. Umm – if this is true, sign me up.

So, here’s what I do for my coffee in the am:

  1. I brew my cup of French press – you can use whatever method you like. I’m partial to my press. But, do make sure you’re buying good coffee. As in fair trade, organic. Chances are there are less toxins in the coffee. Living in Portlandia, I’m partial to Stumptown. It’s good. Real good.
  2. You can start with 2 tbsp organic grass-fed/pasture-raised non-salted butter (I use Kerrygold – it’s cheap at Trader Joe’s or they sell it in bulk at Costco) per cup of coffee until you are able to wean yourself down to 1 tbsp (the optimal amount). But, back to the instructions: Place 2 tbsp in a tall measuring cup and pour your cup of coffee in, making sure you have plenty of room on the side to blend… or get a mop ready. I warned you.
  3. With an immersion blender, blend until the butter has emulsified and is completely blended. If you want a little bit of sweetness, the slightest amount of raw and local honey can be added to the blender. But the goal is to get your energy from the fat, not the sweets. Pour into your mug of choice and enjoy.
  4. This should be your view right before you take a sip:

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If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. Enjoy!

Chicken Marbella

By far my favorite chicken recipe of all time, this used to be my go-to when I had people coming over for dinner. The meal required a bit of planning ahead because I would let it marinade for 24 hours, rather than the instructed overnight. I recently experimented with making it paleo-friendly and the first attempt came out much too sweet. I’ve since cut back on the maple syrup and did a few made a few more tweaks.

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I used to serve it with white rice (I know, I know, I had no idea then) and will every once in a while serve it with brown rice of which I’ve soaked for 24 hours and then rinsed thoroughly (it ferments it of sorts). More often than not, I’ll pulse cauliflower until it’s the consistency of rice in my food processor and then steam it in a skillet with chicken fat or I’ll serve it over roasted cauliflower. It’s fantastic! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chicken Marbella
(based on the recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook)

  • 1 organic, free range fryer chicken, quartered (save the back and freeze it for soup) with the skin still on
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup pitted green Greek olives
  • 2 tbsp capers, plus 1 tbsp caper juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp organic grade B maple syrup
  • ¼ cup white wine or chicken stock (if you can’t tolerate wine)
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
  1. The night before: In a bowl, mix the chicken, garlic, oregano, S&P, red wine vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. The next day: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer chicken to a dutch oven and lay out chicken in a single layer, pour marinade juice around the chicken pieces.
  3. Pour maple syrup and white wine atop and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, basting frequently, until juices run clear in the chicken, when cut.
  5. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, capers, prunes and olives to a plate. Pour juices into a sauceboat… or just do what I did and serve it all in one massive heap atop a bed of steamed cauliflower “rice”. Sprinkle the Italian parsley on top prior to serving.

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