Saturday, February 17, 2007

Carrot Spice Muffin Recipe

This recipe originally comes from the book "The Guide to Healthy Eating" by David Brownstein, M.D. and Sheryl Shenefelt, C.N. I highly recommend this book as it is a very handy reference to good eating principles and follows the views of Nourishing Traditions.

I modified the recipe slightly for our own preferences. (The original used spelt flour and all coconut oil, it also added the eggs all at once, and used yogurt. The original recipe said to bake at 300 degrees F. for 18 minutes, I found that was not enough in my oven)

Carrot Spice Muffins
yields 12

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups Kefir, (we make our own with real milk, no flavors or sweeteners) the original recipe calls for yogurt which is fine
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
(I subsituted 1 1/2 teaspoons of Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus which is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground orange peel, cloves, ginger.--any baking spice/pie spice mixture will be good)
1/3 Virgin coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup rapadura (unrefined cane sugar)
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup currants
(or raisins)

Combine flour and kefir (or yogurt) in a bowl, mix well. Let sit covered overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Add baking soda, spices, salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix sugar and oils until blended. Add egg yolks, vanilla, carrots and currants (or raisins). Mix this into the flour mixture, blend well.
In a small bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold these into the muffin batter.
Lightly oil 12 muffin cups and fill nearly full with muffin mixture.
Bake at 325 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes. Toothpick should come out of center clean.

Allow to cool and remove from muffin pan. These are very tasty, dense and moist muffins. The beating of the egg whites separately helps give them a little more lift.

Chasing away the winter blues at the farmer's market

Most people don't think to go to the farmer's market in MI in the winter. However, I go every Saturday and it is something I look forward to. This time of year there aren't really any vegetables, but there are other vendors (lately more garage sale/antique stuff than anything else). However, I go to pick up my raw milk. My dairy farmer's daughter comes every weekend to the market to sell cheese and other goodies, so she delivers our milk to us. I pick up my cooler full of wonderful real milk and drop off a cooler with empty bottles. We have a cow-share with the dairy farmer, so it isn't buying our milk, it is just picking it up. We bought 1/10th of a cow 3 years ago and pay weekly boarding fees. This entitles us to 2.5 gallons of real milk a week from our share of the cow. Our cow's name is Laura. We do have to go to the farm to pick up our milk sometimes too (we used to go all the time, but this delivery has been a wonderful time saver). The kids love to go to the farm and see the pigs and the cows and the cute puppies and kittens that are usually around.

Today I purchased some tasty fresh raw milk cheese curds from my dairy farmer. They are so good, as soon as I got home Rachel tore open the bag and had a few for a snack. In the stall next door to my dairy farmer is the owner of Westwind Milling. This is the old-fashioned stone mill where we purchase all our Organic flours, cornmeal, oats and more. They recently put in a commercial kitchen and are now baking fabulous organic, artisan breads. I sometimes buy a wonderful loaf of bread, but not today, because I still have a lot of sourdough bread I made this week leftover. However, as much as we love going to the mill and visiting the used bookstore in the back, it is convenient to have them come to our area too. The mill is in Argentine, MI so it is a good 45 minutes or more each way to go there. I ran out of whole wheat flour this week, so we just called and they brought some to the market for me to pick up. So convenient.

The fun part of the visit is seeing these people that have become my friends. I met another lady who has a cow-share that was picking up her milk. She knew the lady who owns our CSA, so she had heard my name before. I also ran into an old friend who we used to be in a milk group with. We chatted for a few minutes. I got the chance to meet a lady who I had previously talked to on the phone. She is friends with my Pampered Chef consultant, but she lives near me and recently started getting milk via a cow-share with our dairy farmer. She just had a baby 2 weeks ago, so I got the pleasure of meeting little Levi (so, so cute). We talked about her joining our milk group for the next 2 months as our farmer will not be at the market in March and April (the stalls are all taken, until May when they will move to Thursdays). Toni (the daughter of our dairy farmer) said hi and asked how I was doing. She gave me a hug and a taste of delicious beef jerky. I also spent a lot of time talking to Linda Purdy who owns Westwind Mill with her husband Lee. We talked about the current situation with the impending animal tagging program in MI and we talked about bread. They are experimenting with things to add to their line. They recently developed a pizza crust dough they are selling frozen and also possibly supplying a party store across from the Mill. She and I share a love of bread baking and we use the same book as a main reference, The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. We discussed the breads we have made from the book. I told her of my success with the Italian Bread I made a couple of weeks ago. The bread was time consuming because you have to first make a Biga pre-ferment, but the taste was wonderful. I also told her of our favorite from that book, the swirled rye bread. We talked about muffins, as they sell a variety of Bran muffin mixes that are wonderful and they are planning on branching out. I told her of the yummy carrot muffins I have been making (hence the reason I ran out of whole wheat flour) this week and the kids are inhaling!!! They are a carrot spice muffin with currants and soaked flour. I'll post the recipe soon!

It is so nice to know and have wonderful friendships with the people who provide our foods. I came home just so happy about the fun community I visited at my local farmer's market on a cold Michigan morning!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dinner Conversation

Tonight we had an interesting dinner conversation. We were once again discussing where our food comes from. An article I read today on David Gumpert's website about factory farming and the many different problems it causes prompted the discussion. Our family began learning about the issues with our national food supply several years ago and have been on a mission to learn more ever since. We are very much involved in the local food movement and really enjoy all the wonderful knowledge, friendships and community we have found around our food.

We talked about the hamburgers we were eating tonight and how yummy they were. Pasture-raised local ground beef (which is very lean since the cows graze in the pature and get plenty of exercise--so lean we ask the processor to add fat back in so that it isn't too dry when you cook it.) mixed with onion, Penzey's Beef Roast seasoning, a few organic bread crumbs, a free-range, organic farm fresh egg, some sea salt and black pepper. We eat the burgers without a bun (sometimes we make homemade buns, but not tonight). We also had roasted Butternut squash with pure Michigan Maple Syrup!! It was Yum!!! To drink we made strawberry and banana smoothies with homemade Kefir and a bit of maple syrup to sweeten it. It was a delicious dinner and we were talking about how much work goes into raising the cattle so that our hamburgers taste so good. The kids know the names of our farmers, so Jeremy was really interested in what Farmer Les Roggenbuck has to do to take care of the cows so that we get yummy, healthy meat. It is fun to have the kids involved in our food. Now if bed time was as much fun, life would be nearly perfect!!!