Sunday, May 30, 2010

Real Orange Creamsicles

Real Oranges + Real Raw Cream = Real Creamsicles

Back in the day, when I was but a wee lass, I remember the sheer joy of hearing the bells of the ice-cream bike. That's right, bike. What's with this ice-cream truck business? The ice-cream dealer in our hood drove a bike that said "Dickie Dee" on the side of it. There was a long rack of bells on the handles of his bike that swung back and forth wildly as he pedaled around the neighbourhood. He was the purveyor of summer happiness. A few cents could buy you all sorts of frozen delights, but I was always a sucker for the Creamsicle.

A few years ago, remembering how much I loved those yummy creamsicles, I decided to buy one - purely for nostalgia's sake. It was revolting. The 'cream' centre was some sort of gelatinous, hydrogenated oily mess. Blech. Another one of my childhood joys relegated to the cobwebby crevices of my memory.

Yesterday, after melting in the 32 degree weather for a few hours, the kids and I decided to attempt a healthier version of an orange creamsicle. We decided to make a real creamsicle with actual oranges and cream. I was pretty happy with the results, but there's a few things I'd modify next time around. I listed my modifications at the bottom of the recipe.
The Healthy Orange Creamsicle
  • Organic oranges
  • Best quality organic, cream (raw, from grass fed cows is best if you can get it)
  • Honey or maple syrup/maple butter to taste
  • Organic vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • (optional) Pastured, organic egg from a source you know and trust (it matters, you're going to eat it raw) 
Juice or blend some oranges. I used our Vitamix and threw in a little cream (maybe a tablespoon or so). My daughter then filtred the juice to get a smoother texture. I don't suppose you would have to do that, but it seemed somehow more authentic to me. Pour the juice into molds and put them in your freezer.
While the juice freezes along the perimeter of the mold, you can make the cream filling. For this, you can either make some of your favourite ice-cream or try what I did. I just blended the cream, turkey egg, vanilla, and some of the yummy maple butter we just got from our pal's maple syrup farm (thanks, Ben!) together in a blender. 
You will have to check the molds every half hour or so. The idea is to push the exposed parts down so the sides start to freeze, but you don't want the bottom (or top depending on how you look at it) to freeze over. When you see this happening, just push your finger into the centre to break up the frozen bits. Once the sides have frozen, you can pour the juice from the centre into a cup. You should now have an orange juice mold with a hollow centre.
Pour the cream mixture into the centre of the frozen popsicle, insert the stick,  and put back into the freezer. Wait. Patiently. Just wait. Goodness is on its way.
That's it, that's all there is to it. They were yummy and refreshing and way better than the hydrogenated oil ones they try to pass off as "cream-filled" in the store.

What I'll do differently next time:  I think I would actually use some of our homemade ice-cream. The cream centre worked well, but I found it dispersed into the orange a bit too much. I wanted the division between the centre and the orange border to be more distinct. If you try this option, be sure to use your own ice-cream or an organic version that isn't loaded with crapola. Lastly, I would not throw the oranges in the Vita-mix, opting instead to juice them. The bitterness of the pith seemed to amplify in the freezer. It wasn't a huge problem, but enough for me to try something different next time.

I'm thinking about trying mango and lime with my vanilla ice-cream next time. I think sour, citrus flavours would be especially good, but I will always remain loyal to the orange.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Farm For the Future

Simply a must-see. Whether you're a farmer, an urbanite, or a zombie, if you're reading this, I assume you live on planet earth, and therefore, you need to see this to understand what it means to farm, to eat, to consume.

Part Deux

Part Trois

Part Four

"A Farm For the Future" final

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Dream Farm

By now, most of you know that I'm pretty passionate about procuring food from my beloved farmers and of my intention of having our own farm soon. I've been lucky enough to meet all sorts of farmers who have shared with me their knowledge and some incredible experiences. Through my time spent working with and learning from farmers, I have been able to develop a clearer picture of how I will work with the land and animals to create a vibrant, productive farm.

I plan to create said farm employing some principles that I hold dear. I truly respect and value Biodynamic farms. I believe that this style of farming produces a nourished farm organism that 'gives back' to the land, rather than just taking. In addition, the food produced on Biodynamic farms is superior to any other I've ever tasted because it's packed with an energy, an abundance of nutrients, and things we can't really measure, but just inherently know are right.
This animal was shot, skinned, and gutted in less than an hour. Look at the beautiful, yellow fat from that solely pasture raised animal.

Aside from that, one of my strongest convictions lies in slaughtering and butchering my own animals. I can not tell you how many farmers I have met that shake their heads at the way their animals have been butchered. I have no intention of raising animals with incredible care only to load them on trucks and have them butchered at a commercial facility, by people who have no connection to that animal. At one of my friend's farms, I was lucky enough to take part in the butchering and slaughtering of animals. Before that, I would say that my understanding of what it meant to be grateful for my food was shallow, at best. There is a great duty, for those of us who eat animals, to understand what it truly means for that animal to give its life for us.

I have seen animals slaughtered in so-called sterilized factories and I have slaughtered animals in the sunshine. I know which one is more sanitary and I know which one is right. I could not compromise on that point.

So, my dream farm...  I see my cows (I know the breed, but I don't want to say, let's just say they're an ancient breed that do well on grass and harsh Canadian winters). There's some sweet lambs over there, up on the hill, chewing grass. Over on the other side of yonder hill are the chickens. Sweet chickens for eggs and yummy chickens for our bellies. They too will be slaughtered on the farm. There's heritage pigs on pasture, maple trees that give us syrup, and bees that give us honey. Every now and then we get a mama cow that we can borrow some raw milk from. There's all sorts of green things, veggies, and berries sprouting up everywhere! Oh, and look, there's my sweet hubby and our cool kids sitting in the morning sun waiting for me to join them for breakfast! Better go before it gets cold!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Honestly, I don't know what comes close to a slow roasted pot of pork hocks and feet for its sheer yumminess.  By slow roasting, you end up with incredibly tender, moist meat.  The gelatin released from this yummy dish, is incredibly beneficial for bones and joint health.  My farmer friends assured me that this dish was to die-for.  I'll admit that when I first cooked pig's feet, I was a little apprehensive.  Um, they're feet.  But, one bite and any apprehension was gone.  And, yes indeed, my kid's love this dish, too.

It couldn't be easier to make either. Just slow roast hocks and/or feet with some butter or some bacon fat that you have on reserve, some salt, and a couple of glugs of wine or homemade red wine vinegar.  Let it roast in a 250 degree oven for approximately 10 hours. We like to eat ours with cauliflower rice because it does a great job of soaking up all of the wonderful drippings.

It shouldn't be too difficult to find pork hocks and feet. While I wouldn't use commercial sources, local farmers may have some for sale. We always make sure we ask the butcher to include all these juicy bits when we are giving our cutting instructions.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oops, we made a mistake

Scientific American explores the folly of blaming fat for heart disease.  Yet more evidence that it's the donuts after all.
Eat less saturated fat: that has been the take-home message from the U.S. government for the past 30 years. But while Americans have dutifully reduced the percentage of daily calories from saturated fat since 1970, the obesity rate during that time has more than doubled, diabetes has tripled, and heart disease is still the country’s biggest killer. Now a spate of new research, including a meta-analysis of nearly two dozen studies, suggests a reason why: investigators may have picked the wrong culprit. Processed carbohydrates, which many Americans eat today in place of fat, may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease more than fat does....  
Continue reading "Carbs against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart".