Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Corn Bags

Since this is a blog, I can preface this by saying that corn-base PLA bags, cups, flatware and food containers make me crazy. I can't stand them.

There. I said it.

Now for the list:

1) Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic made from corn is generally made from the genetically modified variety. Firstly, yuck! Toxic runoff and pesticides infiltrating even farther into our everyday lives, not to mention the horrendous doings of companies like Monsanto (see links below to the case against Percy Schmeiser). It may only be a food container, but as I experienced (see #3), the material clearly leaches into what's in it. Secondly, do we really want to continue to subsidize the GMO corn industry? Thirdly, there are already too many giant fields of this Monsanto monster that could be planted with something useful, like greens or olive trees, or apples or lettuce. Fourthly, yuck. Really.

2) It does not biodegrade the same way that other compostables do. From what I read it requires a special facility, since it tends to break into pieces instead of degrading all at once. These facilities are not as widely available as they could be, so if you just toss that corn bag away in the compost, or worse, the trash, it is still simply garbage, albeit much less toxic garbage than PET.

3) You don't often hear about corn allergies, but it's been an issue for me, personally, and I'm sure there are plenty of corn-allergic people who may have problems with the material. Here's what happened to me: If you put food into a corn-based container, even if I am in no way allergic or sensitive to that food, I will react to the corn that leaches from the container into what went into my mouth. The last time I experienced that was about three years ago when I was testing agave syrup. My skin reacted exactly the same way I generally do to corn. I went back to the co-op to ask if there was any corn in the agave and was told that there wasn't. It took me a while to figure out that it was the container. I took home 1/4 cup of olives and reacted the same way.

4) Why more disposable food containers? This industry is simply supporting a throw-away culture that has to face up to the fact that we simply can't go on using things once and then discarding them. What's wrong with oiled paper, cloth, glass, or even a simple paper bag for certain food items? There are plenty of places to get a nice reusable bag, jar or box and some seriously spiffy thermoses out there. It's also perfectly possible to wash your plastic bags and reuse them for those food items that need to be encased in something soft and airtight for a short time. I've never been one of these "no waste/no trace" people, since I do understand the stresses of everyday living with kids, and I use (and usually reuse) many plastic bags, but as the years go on I move more and more toward that stance. Those Ball mason jars are amazing.

5) By using food to make non-food items we're just moving things around economically. It's bad enough that food is as expensive as it is, but as we've seen with the use of corn (surprise!) for fuel, it makes the corn used in food scarcer, and as a result, more expensive. Then fuel gets more expensive, so that the trucks that cart around all our food become more expensive and what the trucks carry get even more expensive. (I've managed to use the word "expensive" five times times in two sentences. Sounds like my life, really. :) )

(To read some of the same things I did about the pros and cons of corn bags: Smithsonian MagazineAbout.comBoing Boing.)
(To get a seriously spiffy thermos and other nice food containers, coffee filters, and even straws: Reuseit.com.)
(For more information on Percy Schmeiser: Democracy Now interview, his website, from Wikipedia.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hi everyone...

Wow. I've just discovered "stats" on the Blogger Dashboard and am completely surprised to find out how many people out there. Most of you are finding this blog through Google searches. It's fascinating to read about what people typed into their search engine. Just some of the many search terms:

  • "hypoallergenic desserts" (plenty here, depending on your allergies)
  • "is rice a disaccharide" (it's a grain, but does have lots of starch in it - very glycemic, too, from what I hear)
  • "lacto fermented mustard" (yum!)
  • "gaps desserts" (also yum!)
This blog started a while back when our little girl was an infant and I was alone in a barely functional kitchen trying to make food that didn't give us terrible reactions. From there I stumbled into more hypoallergenic ways to prepare food, discarded packaged ingredients, and started to get more creative with things. Then, in 2009 I saw a doctor who put me on the GAPS Diet, and Little Moo started a modified version of it. We moved into a better place with a great kitchen, which made life easier. Two and a half years later, both of us have clear skin, less toxicity, and good health all around. I'm still on GAPS although I go off of it occasionally in small ways. We can even go out to eat occasionally. (Roam Burgers - basic, fresh food, with gluten/dairy-free options and no soy or corn in the kitchen. They make great sweet potato and zucchini onion fries - the catch is that they coat them with rice flour before frying. I splurge a bit when I'm there...so far, so good, as long as I'm sure to drink my broth for the next day or so.)

I hope you enjoy your stay here...pull up a chair, grab a plate and serve yourself something. I'm also interested in hearing what kinds of creative ideas other folks are coming up with in their kitchens. 

Be well and enjoy!

Spring juice!

I knew over the last few days when I didn't have time to create dishes with their usual hidden vegetable content that Little Moo would most likely not get the vegetables that she needed. Luckily she's able to eat sheeps' milk yogurt every few days at this point, so she's not completely without calcium intake. Even so, I like to make a habit of juicing occasionally to fill in the necessary places in our diet. It's also something that Little Moo can help with, which she likes. 

Today I hit the farmers' market and then got odds and ends at Whole Foods afterwards.

The cherries and apple make it a bit sweeter than usual for us. To our palette it's perfect, maybe a bit too sweet. For those folks still drinking super-sweet bottled juice it might seem a bit earthy, so adjust to taste...

Spring Juice

about 7 fresh carrots
4 stalks celery
2 small red beets
2 large leaves kale
1 medium apple, cored
7 pitted sweet red cherries
1 peeled lime

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bread (End) Pudding (and some thoughts on other ends)

(not GAPS, just GF/DF/CF/SF)

Many things have happened in the last week or so. The biggest one is that Osama Bin Laden is, we are pretty sure, dead. I am one of those unfortunates who has the tendency to break out in hysterical laughter at all the wrong times, so of course I've been walking around this last 24 hours or so with "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" going on rapid fire loop in my brain.

There. I've said it. It's completely inappropriate...or maybe it isn't. It certainly isn't serious enough to honor all those who've died on both sides since September, 2001, but it insists on rattling around up there.

...and there it goes again...

"But we've got to verify it legally, to see
(To see?)
If she
(If she?)
Is morally, ethic'lly
Spiritually, physically
Positively, absolutely
Undeniably and reliably Dead?"

Okay. That's done now, which leads me onto the next tangent, which is that the Munchkin Coroner was, I believe, a history teacher at the first (I think) high school where my dad taught way back in the late 50s. I hear he was amazing with discipline and inspiring to my dad, who was a new, young and very impressionable music teacher. Speaking as a small person (albeit small within the norm,) I can say that we have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously by people who can physically look down at you, which is most of them. Even my kid mistakes my size for being "kind of like a child, really," which is okay, I suppose. She lets me in on what she's doing and I can fit into bouncy houses with her. I have no idea what I'd do if confronted with a class full of teenagers with attitudes, though. Meinhardt Raabe died in 1997. Evidently he also spent about 30 years doing something with the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, teachers' salaries being what they are.

Endgames, though. I'm avoiding the topic, aren't I? Or just being cagey on-line about how I feel about politics. Yeah.

We keep getting shoved into that mindset so that we're always on edge, waiting for the next bit of the insane wartime narrative that's feeling more and more like a violent movie with way too many 3-D effects and enough hidden xenophobia that I can't watch it past the start of act 2. It's the crazy wave that's going to break, rushing us all headlong into some kind of armageddon, valhalla or convergence where the blessed few get snatched out of their cars and the rest of us get to drive their Jaguars for a while before the terrible finale (especially for Jews, so I hear). We keep waiting for the redemptive end so that the credits can roll and we can return to the happily-ever-after. Only it's actually the happily-ever-before our loss of innocence, a satisfying erasure of everything that we've done that ever had awful consequences and boy, are there many of those. Then the great director in the sky can make a new movie that we can all star in. Maybe next time it will be a romantic comedy.

Or maybe we're never at the end, just in the middle, continuing the long, strange trip, which just gets longer and stranger and more horrible in a weirdly banal sort of way as I think about things. It's not that bad, really. Life could be that odd, and everyday life is it's own kind of horror if we're not used to engaging with it. When we're too used to full immersion in media unreality we can't wrap our brains around what is really there. Which includes that if you forget to set your timer, that what's in the oven might burn.

So, if you dare, this is a great use for all those gluten-free rice bread ends that have been living in the freezer for the last six months, waiting for the finale. Here it is. (At least dinner can truly be finished with in style. Roll credits if necessary.)

Gluten/Dairy-free Bread Pudding
(based on Joy Of Cooking with many liberties taken)

Serves 8

Preheat oven to 350 F

Toast bread until dry, especially if it's icy from the freezer. Cut off any burnt parts and dice well. Soak for 15 minutes:

5 cups diced bread

3 containers coconut cream (I used Wilderness Family Naturals' and can attest to it being the best tasting I've ever had. http://www.wildernessfamilynaturals.com/product/coconut-products-coconut-milk/CC250.php)


4 egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla


grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon (or a whole one if they're really tiny, like the little one I got at the farmers' market on Sunday.)
1/3 cup raisins mixed with currants

Pour these ingredients over the soaked bread, stir until well-blended. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold them gently into the mixture. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake set in a pan of hot water for about 45 minutes.