Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I finally did it! I grew my own sprouts! I've been meaning to for well over a year and finally got around to it. They freaked Erich out a little (of course). But they were so yummy (and inexpensive) and really easy!

<--- This picture from GardenWise.
I really need to get a digital camera.

What you need:

a pint or quart sized mason jar (or some people use a tray or special sprouting contraption, but those cost more and are a little harder to find)

sprouting seeds - You don't want to use seeds from a gardening store, they may have been treated with stuff you don't want to eat. Bona fide sprouting seeds are still cheap, I paid $3.00 for a small baggie (Not hard to find at most healthfood stores). To put that in perspective, 2 tbsp seeds would make about a pint of sprouts (two cups), which would normally run you around $3.00- $3.50 alone at the store. Plus these are as fresh as they come, as well as nutritious. I've always been frustrated with the fact that sprouts I buy at the store always seem to go funky before I can finish them, so this is a great little project.

a square of fine mesh material (e.g. cheesecloth or something you can dig up at the hardware store) large enough to cover the jar

the part of the mason jar lid that screws on (minus the center part, since you'll have the mesh)

Put 1-2 tablespoons of seed of choice (quantity depends on size of your jar and type of seed, but this info is easy to find, so I won't get into it here) and fill jar with lukewarm water. Place mesh over lid and screw tight. Swirl gently to rinse seeds; pour water out, and add fresh water at a 4:1 ratio to your quantity of seeds. (e.g. I started with 1 tbsp of red clover seeds and added a final water amount of 4 tbsp water.) Soak overnight.

Rinse by filling jar to top, swirling, and then drain. Place jar at a downward angle in a bowl to allow any remaining water to drain. Repeat in the evening at a minimum, more often if you wish. (I did an extra rinse at noon.) The rinsing is supposed to help stimulate growth and inhibit bacterial growth. Repeat for 3-5 days and then eat!

I actually happened upon a set of mason jar caps you can use in lieu of the cheesecloth from Sprout-Ease that came in three sizes different size sprouts, but any mesh item would suffice. The caps claim to be made from recycled material, and I decided I'd probably have to buy something from the hardware store anyway to start this, so I went for it. Mom gave me a bunch of mason jars when I moved out, so if anyone wants to try it feel free to use of one my jars. I also have some mesh bags that plan on using for produce shopping and making nut-milks that might also have worked well. Haven't tried those , yet.

My red clover sprouts were tiny, only about an inch long but so crunchy and delicious! (I know, I sound like a sprout commercial or something.) I at them all at once ( about 1 cup's worth) in whole grain pita bread with hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cracked pepper.

Some pics, not mine, but that portray the idea, also with some more specific instructions (although I'd say follow the ones on your seeds or sprouting lids first) and pics of the kinds of lids I used.

Growing Edible Sprouts

I'm starting another batch tonight, and I think I'm going to try and keep a rotating stock of some that should mature and 2-3 days or so. Hooray for sprouts!

Friday, April 25, 2008

homemade pizza

Homemade pizza tonight! I'm working on a longer post about a book that Erich and I are reading about U.S. food culture and why our focus on modified/imitation food and foodlike-substances (marshmallow fluff anyone? whole-grain fruit loops?) doesn't work.

In a nutshell: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." There's a lot more to it than that, but I can't get into it without going on a huge tangent, hence the separate post. But I can say that I HIGHLY recommend it. Even if you aren't completely sold, I can't see a reasonable person finishing this book without reconsidering their own habits.

When we say food, we mean real food, the kinds of foods that don't need sneaky packaging to give you an excuse to eat them. (Low-carb pork rinds! as an extreme example.)
Not adulterated/highly refined/loaded with hydrogenated corn and soybean oils food that a lot of people have a vested interest in us consuming unhealthy amounts of. (Wow....sorry about that sentence. Mr. Thompson would be pasting band-aids all over his computer screen right about now.) None of this is new, but somehow we got sort of lazy, I think.

Anyways, this author's argument is so well constructed that it's convinced Erich to throw away his ritz crackers and marshmallow fluff. I'm not kidding. This is HUGE! I've always been a little frustrated that I couldn't convince Erich that we shouldn't eat those foods, at least not often, (and of course I end up eating them if they're in the house...I'm human). Now we're finally on the same page! Yea! So tonight's dinner:

An organic whole grain millet/flaxseed pizza crust with a simple tomato sauce, spinach, red onions, garlic, green peppers, mushrooms, shredded wisconsin-made organic raw goat's milk cheese (not too much...but so good!) and organic chicken sausage (just chicken and some spices). The crust was purchased frozen from a local healthfood store, and was awesome! (Erich liked it, so you doubters should consider that.)I am actually planning to to make our own pizza crusts, biscuits, buns, and breads to freeze so we won't need to purchase individually wrapped ones often, but that is coming up for the future. I am also hoping to try making my own yogurt (thanks for the suggestion, Nat!) and have set up my sprouter (just a wide mouth mason jar with a screened lid) to grown some red clover sprouts.

Yes, I'm having a little bit of a field day.

There was only so much I was willing to do when I knew Erich would not eat many of the things that I made, but now I feel like I can really go all out. We went through our shelf 'o cooking ingredients yesterday and got rid of anything overly processed (i.e. refined flour, sugar, hydrogenated oils, etc) and shed a lot of garbage. Among the harder things to let go:

Bisquick pancake/waffle mix. Even though I don't use it, I usually make waffles from scratch now, it's still a staple from my childhood and reminds me of weekend mornings when my dad would made the best pancakes in the whole world. I think they were good because dad made them, though. Refined flour, hydrogenated soybean oil. It even has trans-fats in it. So sad.

Diet soda. I actually gave this up about two months ago along with coffee, and I don't really missed it anymore. (I have had coffee a bit, though. I get up at 4:30 on some days, so that's a bit slower going.) When I want something carbonated now I have been having a small glass of kombucha, a raw fermented tea that is very bubbly and supposed to have good bacteria in it, sort like how yogurt does. A small glass satisfies me, and I've noticed now that my stomach gets really full from anything else that is carbonated, like beer. Is there such a thing as carbonation tolerance? I can't have as much of it as I used to, which is probably a good thing anyway. I splurged and had a diet coke a few weeks ago tasted terrible. Like artificial sweetener. I can't believe I used to prefer it to real soda! (Which is still a rare treat- I just drink water at work now with a slice of cucumber or orange).

It was easy, however, to see crappy spice mixes that mostly relied on salt and msg, weight-loss shakes and useless supplements go. I'm really eager to start experimenting with some new flours such as quinoa flour, sprouted rye flour, brown rice flour, among other to see what kinds of doughs I can make. Hopefully this will allow us to do more healthy meals together instead of us making essentially separate dinners most nights.

Either way, I'm loving Erich saying, "Let's put some vegetables on that pizza." Music!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

6 month anniversary!

Today Erich and I have been married six months. That flew by! So much has changed (for the better!) in that time! I quit school and my job, starting working in a kitchen, moved to a much more comfortable apartment...'go big or go home', right? When I started thinking about the wedding a little bit (I still haven't developed my pictures) the first thing I remembered was how struck I was at all the love and encouragement from all the people in our lives. Particularly from those who had been married and/or with children for many years already. It sort of felt like we were being welcomed into some kind of club; they knew far better than we did what we were getting ourselves into. I'm struggling to put it into words, but I felt so connected to the history of our families and how we weave our families together, generation after generation, and rarely consider the enormity of it. I think this is partly because it is so special and so completely normal at the same time. Babies are born every day, but it's hardly routine. Maybe after 5 or 6, I suppose. Maybe not?

It reminds me of how my paternal grandmother sat back at Christmas once, and said to me (and I'm paraphrasing here), 'Sometimes its hard to believe I started all that'. That being her 9 children and the 30 odd grandchildren and what is it, 5 or 6 great grandchildren now? There are two more on the way as we speak, plus the ones my brothers and I will eventually have, so you can see why I lose count.

Anyway, this is kind of a sentimental post. Sorry, they sneak in there sometimes. A more exciting note: tomorrow I start working with the baker! I have to get up at 3 am! Which is why I'm awake at 6 am on a sunday and Kari and Erich are sleeping in the living room. Wake up!