Butter me up!

Posted on 11:52
How to make butter with raw fresh or cultured cream...

Beat the cream with a wire whisk or spoon...

Keep beating...it will start to "curdle"

.and keep on beating till the liquid buttermilk seperates out..

keep on beating till the butter "granules" clump together and the buttermilk can be poured off

Wash the butter with water to get rid of traces of buttermilk


I made this a couple of weeks ago..since it's coming onto autumn/winter now I won't be eating much butter/dairy as it won't be grassfed (fresh grass anyway) so the raw dairy will be alot lower in nutrients. That said, I havn't been eating much dairy fat lately (this summer) anyway except the odd bit of butter or ghee (made at low temps to maintain the "rawness"). I much prefer meat and getting most of my fat from actual meat (hide fat/suet) as opposed to dairy. In the summer though I think raw/grassfed butter and ghee are decent ways to up the fat, esp since they're full of nutrients like vitamin A, CLA, the Wulzen factor, beneficial bacteria, etc.

Day trip

Posted on 06:07
Some pics from my day trip last week..

Leafy road

Wild blackberries

Nice quiet leafy road where the wild blackberries were growing

A "Stately home" owned by the National Trust

Plaw Hatch biodynamic farm
Growing vegetables
Dairy cows eating the lush green grass
Closer look at the cows

marylebone farmers market

Posted on 09:36

Cake lady's stall - getting emptier as people realize she's selling everything half price

Let them eat bread
More bread and "londons best" choc brownie...which became 2 for £1 soon after...
Bad picture of 'fresh organic fruit' sign

Organic buffalo cheese, yogurt, and meat

Rendering fat and making pemmican

Posted on 15:27 In: ,
So after saving up lamb and beef suet/fat as well as pork fat, I finally decided to actually do something with it.
So i rendered fat for the first time, and i'm happy to say it was a very successful venture! It's so easy, and I have no idea why I was putting it off till now...
I rendered pork fat to make lard, and beef fat to make tallow, which I used to make pemmican! Another first timer...I'd never even tasted pemmican before but luckily I found my pemmican to be really tasty - it didn't taste like sawdust at all, which is how I've heard it being described as before.
If you've wondering what pemmican is, it is an energy dense food that was invented by the native Americans and was then adopted by European arctic explorers. The native Americans made it by drying lean game meat (eg buffalo) in the sun or over a fire, pounding it into a powder and mixing it with melted fat. Wild berries may occassionally have been added, although this may have been added by Europeans who had a sweet tooth. Pemmican is a great food when travelling as it is energy dense, and keeps for a long time (up to a couple of years!).

As for lard and beef fat, heres a couple of interesting facts..

-The fat is around 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated and 12% polyunsaturated
-Is a very stable fat suitable for cooking
- contains 44% oleic acid (the main fatty acid in olive oil)
-Is high in vitamin D, which has been receiving alot of press recently as scientists find out more about how vital this vitamin is in preventing cancer, hormone regulation, and so much more.
Beef tallow
- Has a favourable omega 3 : 6 ratio which is vital to good health (more on that in another post)
-has immune enhancing saturated fats
-is high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which has potent anti-cancer properties
-is high in vitamin E

Ofcourse, all this only translates to fat from pastured animals that eat mostly grass or all grass (in the case of beef fat)

Butchers or farmers at farmers markets are usually happy to chuck in some free fat with your order, especially if you are a regular customer, so another benefit is that the fat can be free or very very cheap!
pork fat being rendered

Heres how I made the lard/tallow - the process is the same using fat from any animal....
To make rendered fat
1. Chop fat into small pieces
2. Put in a pan and turn the heat on low. You can dry render it or wet render it by adding some water to cover
3. Leave on low heat for a couple of hours until the fat melts and you have 'bits' in it which will either fry in the fat to form cracklings, or if there's water will just remain soft.
4. Drain using a cheesecloth into clean glass jars.

This is the pemmican in a glass bowl - Didn't make enough to form into bars

To make the pemmican...
1. Slice some beef into thin strips (freeze it for about half an hour first to firm it up) and dry in a dehydrator (about 105F/41C - this keeps the meat raw) or in a very low oven until very dry (it should snap when bent)
2. Grind up the dried meat in a blender/food processer/meat grinder so it is a powdery consistency - kinda like sawdust
3. Mix with melted beef fat (in a 1:1 ratio by weight). Add salt to taste if desired.
4. Form into whatever shape you like - eg by pressing into a baking pan, and let cool so it hardens
5. Cut and wrap in wax paper and store in airtight containers.
NB You can add dried unsweetened blueberries or cranberries if you want.

This post is for Fight Back Fridays

Dill Picklin'

Posted on 10:52 In:
Check out my picked cucumbers! They actually turned out tasting like commercial pickled gherkins but not so vinegary...

I havn't got a recipe per se....just dumped 3 small cucumbers into a glass jar, added about 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill, 2 tbps whey and water to cover, then let it sit out for about 3 days.

Why should you try organ meats?

Posted on 04:27 In:
On this journey of learning as much as I can about lifestyle and health, an important discovery I made was regarding the consumption of the not so popular parts of an animal...
Offal is a word originating in England, meaning the edible entrails and organs of butchered animals. Many people see these as the 'waste' parts that are thrown away. Today, we mainly eat the muscle meat of animals - like steaks or chicken breast, but in the past the organ meats were praised for their flavor and nutrition. Weston Price, a dentist who went around the world in the 1930s researching the diets and health of "primitive cultures" discovered that they placed great importance on the organ meats of animals they ate. Our Hunter gatherer ancestors consumed the whole animal, not just the muscle meats like we do today.
If you asked me a couple of years ago if I would ever eat kidney, heart, liver, sweetbreads, or bone marrow I would've said 'heck no!', and gone back to my brown rice and beans. But now I enjoy these regularly, and if I have learnt to love them anyone can!

So here are my top reasons for eating more organ meats (from healthy grass fed animals ofcourse!)

In todays economic times, people are more interested in cheaper food, and what better way to maintain your health than by getting accustomed to innards. It's true, the sales of organ meats have shot up recently, because they are much cheaper than your regular muscle meat. (organic lamb liver for £5 a kilo anyone?). It's relatively easy to get things like heart, liver, kidney and possibly bone marrow from most good butchers. If not you can usually ask for them to make a special order for you.

Organ meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. Liver is a nutritional powerhouse - It's an excellent source of Vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Selenium, Pantothenic acid (a 100g serving of lamb liver will give you more than your RDA for these), as well as phosphorous, iron, Thiamin, Zinc and manganese)
Heart is a great source of Coenzyme Q10, which is very good for your own heart

Believe it not, organ meats can be very tasty. Think about rich chicken liver pates, stuffed lamb hearts, soft, melting, tender sweetbreads, rich creamy bone marrow...("gods butter" according to Anthony Bourdain)
One you get past the 'ick factor' and forget about any bad experiences you may have had with tough liver or foul tasting kidneys, a whole new world opens up. If you want a cooking challenge or are already an accomplished cook, you can turn organ meats into delicious gourmet meals. You can pay top bucks in high end restaurants for well prepared organ meats, but I don't think it's too hard to make 'em tasty at home too! (watch out for upcoming recipes that i plan on posting!)

If you care about animal welfare, and make the effort to make sure your meat is well raised and the animals are happy and fed their natural diet, or if you hate waste then it's a terrible injustice to eat only some parts of the animal and chuck away the rest. I believe that if you raise and kill an animal for food, the least you can do is make the most of it and eat all of it. We live in a culture of waste which is unsustainable and harmful to the environment and to our pockets and it makes no sense to me to simply throw away so many good parts of an animal. So you can take a stand by consuming these often discarded parts.

There are plenty more, but its getting late and i need to catch up on my fave blogs..
I hope this will at least convince some people to take the plunge and try something new, or reaffirm what others already know


media stories on saturated fat

Posted on 09:59
The other day i read a news article in the paper about the FSA (Food standards Agency) here in the UK and its dietary guidelines on saturated fat. A link to te online article is here. Apparently they are starting a high profile campaign to get people to eat less saturated fat. A renewed push to get people to eat less saturated fat?! Ugh. The article made me laugh because it was so ridiculous! They had a little box that said "Foods to avoid" and listed there were meat and it's fat, hard cheese, butter, cream, coconut cream... exactly the kind of foods I eat! They are trying to encourage people to eat lean meat and opt for low fat milk. Oh, and the reason for this "high profile" campaign? They want to underline the "strong links" between saturated fat and heart disease.. Probably another study full of bias and bad scientific methods. Apparently "Cutting levels of fat intake by 20% would save an estimated 3,500 deaths a year" - i would love to know how they came up with that number! How about cutting levels of polyunsaturated fat, and refined carbs. How many lives would that save?.
"The wide-ranging TV and media campaign will start next week, backed by leaflets, posters, flyers, recipe cards, postcards and shopping guides." according to the article. (see here for a fantastic article about the FSA campaign by a farmer). Just when I was starting to think maybe attitudes were changing somewhat! - In December this article appeared in Independant life. Apparently people in Thailand are buying polyunsaturated cooking oils instead of their traditional coconut oil, despite the higher cost. Jerome Burne, the writer, says "It's head-banging stuff because the story encapsulates just how simplistic and wrong this 30-year-old public health dogma is. It all dates back to a US Senate committee, headed by George McGovern in 1977, that produced a report advising a low fat-policy as a way of cutting heart disease, on very little evidence. For details on just how little and why, even so, it rapidly became established as official policy, see American science writer Gary Taubes's brilliant book The Diet Delusion......Like all successful dogmas, political or religious, the success of the low-fat theory depends partly on suppressing opposing theories and data. You're unlikely to have heard much about the contrary evidence. For decades, a costly research programme has been under way to prove the low-fat theory; what's remarkable is just how many good, large-scale studies directly contradict it." He mentions the Womens Health Initiative trial involving 20 000 women over 8 years which found no benefits in terms of heart disease and weight with a low fat and saturated fat diet, as well as the Cochrane Collaboration's analysis of 27 important studies involving over 18 000 people which found that low saturated fat diets have no significant effect on mortality or heart attack deaths. The article also mentions the fact that saturated fat is vital to absorbing vitamins and for the immune system (it's also a precursor to sex hormones and some saturated fats protect against cancer), as well as the fact polyunsaturated oils are harmful - "Items on a long charge sheet include harming the immune system and the liver, accelerating ageing and causing poorer mental functioning in animals under stress".

How refreshing to read this article during a quiet lunchtime in the school library. In a mainstream newspaper! Funny how this article mentioned sources of information - i.e WHY the writer believed saturated fats to be good and polyunsaturated fats to be bad, whereas articles on the "low fat is good saturated fat is bad!" theory never do.

It must be so confusing for the general public though, reading completely opposing theories on what they should eat. No wonder people are so confused! If we want a good reason to support/reject something we turn to science to provide the evidence, but in terms of diet and health some of the science is so badly done and screwed up it offers nothing, while the useful GOOD science is swept under the carpet.
But hopefully, we'll see more articles like the Independant one, and less of the FSA ones, and people will once and for all get to hear the truth. The truth and good scientific data is coming out and being reported a bit more I'e noticed, but still its being suppressed by food manufacturers, drug companies, and even the people who are supposed to promote good health!

Oh, and in other news, it's actually safe to consume more than 3 eggs a week! Yes, it is being widely reported that contarry to popular belief, cholesterol in eggs does not raise blood cholesterol levels. Umm...how long has the evidence for that been around? And only NOW is it being widely reported?

Oh well...at least one nutritious food seems to have been absolved (about time!) by some of the so called "health experts"

real food

Posted on 16:22
Oh lordy i can't believe I havn't blogged in like...5 months!! Well...lifes been busy, and is about to become even busier what with exams coming up :(
Anyway, over those 5 months i've become even more into the Weston Price foundation /Nourishing traditions way of eating, and have just started reading Good calories bad calories by Gary Taubes (after what...8 months from when i actually ordered it at the library!!). But oh well, I have it now. The book basically challenges "conventional dietary wisdom" - i.e that saturated fat and cholesterol is bad, carbs are good, we need fiber etc. Taubes debunks these myths extremely convincingly, and the amount of detialed info is just fantastic! Seriousely...no-one can continue believing these lies if they read the book....though it will take some time! If you havn't read it yet, do it now!
Also, if you don't already know about the Weston Price foundation go to http://www.westonaprice.org/ Weston Price was a dentist and a nutritionist who studied the foods and health of primitive communites (by observing their facial structure and dental health). He published his findings in 1939 in the book "Nutritional and physical degeneration" (you can download it online). He found that health and freedom from degenerative disease was linked to a traditional diet. When the isolated communities started consuming western foods such as white flour and refined flour, they succumbed to all the diseases Westerners suffer from. Examples of the communities he visited include the Masai (diet of blood, raw milk and meat), Swiss villagers in the Alpine (raw dairy, meat, rye bread) and Scottish islanders (mainly fish and oats). They all cosumed plenty of fat soluble vitamins from high vitamin butter, seafoods or organ meats with the fat. The WAPF was started by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, and it basically continues research and works to inform people about traditional foods.
I am totally on this bandwagon, because if anything, it makes perfect sense. Humans evolved consuming mainly protein and fat (the few carbs came from seasonal fruit and honey which were a rarity). Traditional communities have thrived on things like healthy pastured meat, grass fed unpasteurised milk, butter and cream, fermented foods, fish, organ meats, eggs...
When did we start becoming unhealthy and having heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc? When we started refining foods (eg white flour, sugar) and relied on unprepared grains for most of our calories, shunned healthy natural saturated fat and started using refined polyunsaturated cooking oils. Basically due to the introduction of processed foods. Humans are very adaptable and can thrive on many different foods, as you don't find the same foods everywhere in the world. Some may tolerate dairy, others not, some may thrive on a diet of largely animal protein and fat, while others may need more plant foods to be healthy, etc etc. But no human can be healthy eating the modern western processed/fake "foods"
I have great respect for the WAPF and Weston Price himself for working to inform people about how to take control of their health.

If you're not familiar with the research, please do visit the WAPF website, read the books, and visit the links below for more info.