Friday, May 25, 2012

Celebrating One Year on GAPS...Recipes and My Favorite Things

It's the end of May (wow, how did that even happen?), which brings our family to the one-year anniversary of our GAPS protocol.  From thinking that Intro would literally kill me (initial die off was severe), to having children complain 101 times about "soup AGAIN?!," we persevered, learned some tricks, and actually came to like many of our new GAPS meals.  Thus, we celebrate the end of Year One, hopefully the halfway point for our GAPS journey.  In honor of this momentous occasion, I wanted to share with you some recipes and a list of a few of my "favorite things."  [Cue Julie Andrews swirling in a lush high-mountain Alps meadow, swelling music, da da da dee dum.....ooh, look...grass-fed raw, children, run to the butter!  Have I mentioned how much I adore butter?]

I think the recipes, foods and tools about to make their appearance here would appeal to anyone, GAPS or no GAPS.  In fact, only the baked goods are specific to my life with GAPS.  Actually, the recipes I'm planning to share are inhabitants of my favorites list, so let's just go directly to the list.  In no particular order, of course...

Buttered Dates
My toddler and her date
Yes, I lead with the ultimate GAPS indulgence.  At least, MY ultimate GAPS indulgence.  I know I've mentioned these goodies before, but the pleasure bears repeating.  In my life pre-GAPS, sea-salt-sprinkled dark chocolate-covered caramels were my ultimate guilty little pleasure.  Hubby would surprise me with a small box from various cities on his business travel schedule, and I would happily hoard and hide the precious loot.  Did I mention it was a guilty pleasure?  My post-baby waistline most certainly groaned about my favorite decadence.  Fast-forward to life on GAPS, post-Intro.  When I finally felt ready to introduce fruits, I yearned for medjool dates.  Perhaps this craving was instinctual, as many cravings can be, for my body desperately needs magnesium.  Because I find the sugars in dried fruit to be rather potent for my system, I began buttering the dates to increase nutrient absorption and buffer the sugar "high."  It worked, and a favorite evening treat was born.  I find medjool dates slathered with salted Kerrygold butter to impart a flavor so reminiscent of creamy caramels that I no longer feel deprived of my one-time obsession.

Coconut Flour Butter Cookies
Following the sweet trend I've begun, I wanted to share the recipe my eldest son and I concocted.  These cookies are a rare delicacy for us because my middle child is still sensitive to coconut.  We cannot use any of the other nut flours common to the GAPS protocol because of his severe (but improving) reaction to nuts.  I can get away with infrequent uses of coconut flour and cream without causing too bad a flareup for the little guy.  After a few iterations of these cookies, this final version became the family favorite.

1/2 cup butter (we're using Kerrygold most often for baking)
5 to 6 eggs (preferably pastured)
1/3 cup granulated coconut sugar (or 1/4 + cup honey)
Dash each ginger, cloves, nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup + coconut flour
Fruit-only jam (like St. Dalfour All Natural Fruit Spread or Bionaturae Organic Fruit Spread)

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and beat on low speed until well incorporated.  Add the spices, then add the flour, mixing on low speed.  Depending upon the water content of your eggs and butter, your relative humidity and the phases of the moon (LOL), you may need to add more coconut flour to achieve a batter consistency.  This batter should not be should be thick, but not stiff like you're making play-doh; spoonable thick.  Add extra coconut flour slowly, incrementally, until all ingredients are well blended and consistency looks good.  Spoon globs of batter onto parchment or Silpat-lined cookie trays; you can flatten the cookies a bit with your finger.  Optional:  Indent the top of each cookie and add a dollop of jam into the depression.  (We make them both ways, but love the jam dots.)  Bake at 375 for 12ish minutes; the cookies should be golden brown and firm to the touch.

Raw Goat's Milk Yogurt
We currently have one milking doe in production, so our supply of browse/grass-fed raw goat milk is a precious commodity.  We get 1 quart daily, which awaits its twin from the next day and then becomes yogurt.  I use the countertop Villi starter from Cultures for Health and I always make the yogurt raw (excepting the pure starter, as per the instructions).  I know my picture reveals a food-fermenting no-no (as my yogurt cultures in the window), but in our still-chilly, winter-like house, that space above the baseboard heater is the warmest spot I have; it provides the most successful culture.  I hope to find a darker warm location as the heat increases.

Culturing the yogurt in our warmest location
Now, I exaggerate not...this yogurt is the creamiest, sweetest, tastiest yogurt I have ever beats cow's milk yogurt any day.  Sure, I'm partial to the health advantages of goat's milk for human consumption (more easily digestible, more suitable to our human makeup), but I kid you not (see, I managed to fit in a pun), this raw goat's milk yogurt is dreamy.  One caveat...I am having trouble keeping my starter alive this spring.  We live in a very moist pacific northwest environ and I believe the natural molds in the air are competing with the flora in my culture.  The yogurt has been on the runny side.  But, this too shall pass.  Having this traditionally fermented pro-biotic food for our diet has been a culinary and gut health boon.

Savory Roaster
I credit my latest cooking tool find to my mother-in-law, who pulled out her mom's antique roaster during our visit last month.  The enameled (steel? iron? aluminum?  I honestly don't know) large oval roaster will hold a small turkey or a couple nice sized roasts.  I have used mine to cook pork and beef roasts to perfection.  The supposed secret to the Savory Roaster's success is the rounded bottom and well-fitting lid.  These roasters are out of production, but I found a great-condition roaster on ebay.  There is a Savory Jr. Roaster that is about half the size of the Daddy roaster, but they are far harder to find and much more costly.  Now don't get me wrong, I still love my crock saves me so much time and makes sure my kids get fed when I've forgotten to plan the next day's meals.  But a savory roast, well, it puts me in mind of an Old Testament story in the Bible of Isaac on his death bed requesting his favorite meal..."And make me savory meat, such as I love..."  I couldn't agree more...I love my savory meat.

Beef Roast Recipe
I grab a roast or two from the freezer (from our sumptuous Hat Creek dry-aged, grass-fed beef stash), pop it in the roaster, add a cup of stock (from whatever I have made), add a few chopped onions, some bruised garlic cloves, a few roughly chopped carrots, a couple bay leaves, a generous dousing of sea salt, a sprinkling of thyme, basil, marjoram (whatever suits my fancy that day), place it in a 400 degree oven for a couple hours (testing for doneness when prompted by worries, the longer it cooks, the more tender it becomes), and voila!  Yummy roast meat.

Nakiri-bocho handcrafted from Hitachi White steel
This is my newest favorite toy...the latest addition to my knife collection.  I love many culinary tools, but my knives are by far the most essential tools in my kitchen.  And I refuse to use inferior tools that don't get the job done, so I keep my knives scary sharp.  My husband learned years ago how to sharpen my blades (and his own hand carving woodworking tools) on Japanese waterstones.  His technique has improved dramatically since studying the work (DVDs and in person) of Murray Carter, a Japanese-trained master bladesmith who resides in Oregon.  Dear hubby gifted me with one of Carter's Japanese kitchen knives, the Nakiri-bocho vegetable knife.  The blade on this knife is amazing...very thin and Super Scary Sharp.  It cuts through vegetables like melted butter.  The cut is so smooth and clean, you can even taste the difference.  The vegetable slices are even healthier...truly...the less cellular damage you do when you cut your food, the less oxidation occurs.  That's one reason Japanese sushi chefs (some of my heroes) cut their delicacies so carefully and with such sharp blades.

Herbed Scrambled Eggs with Butter
The locally handmade pottery
makes the eggs even more delicous!
Barred Rocks roaming
Thanks to the coming of spring and the ladies who lay, we are finally getting about a dozen of our own beyond organic, pastured eggs daily (though the pasture is sorely lacking up here...that's another story). Eggs are a staple here, as in most GAPS households, and we love ours in all their forms.  A favorite breakfast is herby scrambled eggs, which we make by mixing a dozen eggs with a small amount of stock (again, from whatever is on hand), sea salt, pepper, and various herbs (basil, chives, garlic, parsley, etc).  After scrambling in generous amounts of pastured lard, we serve the eggs with butter.  Ah, healing, delicious fats, how I love thee!

Spring brings us a Rainbow
You guessed it!
Whew, I see I've created quite a page here...I imagine I should call it quits for now.  I neglected to mention our fabulous nourishing, detoxifying juice and the machine that makes it, as well as my GAPS birthday cake and the scrumptious GAPS mashed "potatoes."  Ah, well...another post for another day!  Until next time, enjoy your spring and savour some of my favorite mostly still-forbidden food for me...I'll live vicariously.