Doughnuts and Life

Life… Life has been challenging and busy.

I went back to school this past semester and my teacher is totally kicking my butt. I’m taking a business course and I have a lot of homework. I’m doing a research project on a international corporation. We got to choose what company we wanted to research; Guess who I picked?! Yeah, that’s right: MONSANTO! I will have to report back on my findings.

This is a total rebel post. I really should be studying for a test but I have been struggling to post things once every two weeks and I wanted to post something. I have several ideas for posts and hope to get a couple done in the near future. I will have to work this post in with homework.

I feel guilty for not keeping up with Dark Days posts. Last week I was tempted to take a picture of a fried egg and post that. No words, just a picture of a very well done fried egg… This post is not a Dark Days post and I will need to take a couple weeks off. I will resume Dark Days stuff in March to finish up that challenge. I am eager to make that lasagna.

There is an update and here are my doughnuts:

I have a pretty clear memory from my childhood. I must have been in third grade. My dad and I where at the SA -Super America- on 7th and Main in Anoka early in the morning. I was sitting in the cab of our Ford F-250 and it was winter. Before my dad ran inside to pay for the gas that he just pumped, he asked if I would like a Super Mom’s doughnut. I told him that I didn’t want an old fashion one so he got me a ‘new style’ one.

What is the difference between the two? I’m not real sure. The old fashion one is a cake doughnut and the new one has yeast and is fried?

I have made doughnuts before and it sort-of sucks. Working with flour and dough just sucks ’cause it’s messy and it takes time. The flour covers your kitchen, you need to let the dough rise twice… They tasted like doughnuts but they weren’t awesome.

Last night when I got home from work I found sugar cookies sitting on the counter. My daughter helped make them and they tasted pretty good. That inspired me to give doughnuts another try.

Last time I used Alton Brown’s recipe. This time I found myself at The Pioneer Woman. Who the heck is this lady?! I have never heard of this blog before a couple months ago and I have used three of her recipes on this blog and I wasn’t seeking out her blog to use a recipe. Her blog looks awesome and she has good looking recipes.  She’s gotta be a mega blogging star and I just don’t know it.

I can’t follow her recipe dead on, right? That’s what adapting is, isn’t it? Instead of whole milk, I used just over a cup of local half and half that was left over from my ice cream. I mixed in 1/3 cup of co-op turbinado sugar. I put that on the stove over a very low heat just to dissolve the sugar and bring the mixture up to room temp. Then I added a yeast packet. I mixed 2 eggs in a large bowl and added 11 tbsp of butter (I’m going all Paula Deen.) After mixing the eggs and the butter real well I added the milk mixture and mixed that real well.

I took 1.5 cups of unbleached white flour and 2.5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (it’s what I had) and slowly added it to the liquid. When all the flour was mixed in I used my hand mixture on it for 5 minutes. I then let it sit on a cool counter for several hours.

I rolled out the dough to 1/4-3/8″ and used whatever circular cutters I could find. I found a bowl and a sippy cup. I cut out doughnuts and set them on trays.  I left a few doughnut holes and a couple doughnut without the centers cut out. I let these sit for a while until I was ready to fry them.

I fried them in 375 degree oil. I used a small amount of oil for the first 6 doughnuts I cooked and it was really hard to keep the oil at 375. I would spike up to 400 and go down to 250. I then got a bigger pot of oil and the temperature was slightly easier to control. I fried the doughnuts for 30-60 seconds per side, they cooked pretty fast. Afterward I put them on a paper towel covered plate. I then tossed them with a sugar and cinnamon mixture.

They tasted pretty good. I liked these better than AB’s. I will have to experiment with toppings next time… and maybe even fillings! They were easier to make this time too. I guess when you have some practice it doesn’t seem like climbing a mountain.

So you know that whole life crap I was talking about?! The computer has a virus and we can’t get photos on the computer. Enjoy the delicious photo below. 🙂

2011 Books

Growing up I didn’t like to read. I still don’t like to admit I like to read. It was my goal this year to read 12 books. I just might have done it. I want to share the books I have spent time with this year. Some are field guides and cookbooks so I can’t say I read them cover to cover, but I used them well.

Top to bottom…due to size:

Folk Medicine- D.C. Jarvis.
I will save you from reading this one. He basically says that one drink will make your health a ton better. Seriously, if you have any heath problems- try it. The drink is: 1 cup good water, a tablespoon of raw honey and a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar. Drink it regularly for at least a week.  I have the apple cider vinegar and honey on hand at all times and use it when I feel like I should.

Peterson Field Guides- Medicinal Plants and Herbs AND Edible Wild Plants.
These books go hand in hand. I’ve gotten some good recipes and ideas from these books. Every time I read from them I become a more educated forager.

The Forager’s Harvest- Samuel Thayer.
Samuel has two books and a dvd. Dude-is-it! He lives in Wisconsin and he forages. He has a ton of knowledge and experience.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus- Euell Gibbons.
This is a classic foraging book. He is a old dude that has a lot of practical information. A must read for foragers. The first copy came out in 1962.

Farm City- Novella Carpenter.
Super funny book! Novella lives in the hood in Oakland, CA. She squats on land and made a true urban farm. Wonderful book!!! I had to re-read this book this year, it was too good. I made Kristina read it too.

Stealth of Nations- Robert Neuwirth.
I haven’t gotten all the way through this one, I’m reading it now. It’s about the informal economy.

Healing Secrets of the Native Americans- Porter Shimer.
This is a pretty basic book of Native American healing herbs and healing traditions. We have a lot to learn from Native Americans.

The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Moments AND Wild Fermentation- Sandor Ellix Katz.
The first book is a must read for anyone reading my blog. Must read! Title says it all.
The second book is a ‘cookbook’ for live cultured foods.

Guerrilla Gardening: A manualfesto- David Tracey
Practical ideas on how and why to guerrilla garden.

Hunt, Gather, Cook- Hank Shaw.
This book has a lot of hunting, foraging and cooking information. It’s a good book to expand your food horizons.

Nourishing Traditions- Sally Fallon.
Buy it!

The Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook- James Green.
Herbal Medicine.

Seed to Seed- Suzanne Ashworth.
Shows you how to save seeds from your vegetable garden. This is knowledge we all should have.

The Locavore’s Handbook AND Botany, Ballet and Dinner from Scratch- Leda Meredith.
Leda is a locavore that lives in New York City. The first book is a good guide to being a locavore. The second book has stories and recipes- I really enjoyed this book! After reading ‘The Locavore’s Handbook,’ I did a search for locavores in Minnesota and found: mnlocavore.com. This is a great blog for practical resources and recipes on local Minnesota food.

A website worth putting out there. Daniel Vitalis is a very good looking guy that lives in Maine. He gained popularity from youtube. He has started a few projects the past couple of years. He does a lot of talking about rewilding yourself- becoming closer to nature. Almost a step past foraging. He is a little different but I like hearing him talk. He has a lot of videos on youtube and interviews at oneradionetwork.com. He does sell a few products, so I keep that in mind when he is talking…

Here are a couple books I want to get for 2012.

Novella Carpenter has a book that just came out called ‘The Essential Urban Farmer.’ I think it’s more how-to than stories, but I will support anything Novella does.

Daniel Klein has a movie out! ‘What Are We Doing Here?’ Watch the trailer. Dude is awesome! The more I find out about him… he blows me away. A must see movie. Daniel also does The Perennial Plate.

I am looking for suggestions on books or documentaries about food related stuff. What are some of your favorites?

One Year

It’s been a year since I started this blog. I feel it’s a good time to evaluate what I have posted and where I would like to take this blog.

Looking back at my posts I like the realness in them. I write what’s on my mind and I write what I want. I like the recipes and the questions I ask.

What I have questioned with this blog is if I write too much. Like I just need to be told to, “Shut the F up.” Like I have too many questions, too many ideas, or views… I can’t be the only one with the questions I have. I can’t be the only one that struggles with diets. I can’t be the only one that is sort-of weird. I can’t be the only one that wants to write stories from their life. I know I’m not the only one, but are there people around here that feel that way?

I question if I should sell out somewhat (to myself) and get more professional photos and a more professional looking blog. Do more home cook recipes and restaurant reviews. You know, come over to the center a little bit to be pleasing to a larger group of people…

I feel I have some good ideas for future posts. I want to look into unconventional meat: rabbits, pheasants, geese, bison, lamb, goat, duck. Stuff that I can get at local small farms. Daniel, dude from the The Perennial Plate, did such an awesome job his first season (And second season). I could not even being to compete with him. Most of my ideas come from his video series. I would love to buy a whole lamb carcass. Go to a bison farm. Catch a wild bird with a net… dude is awesome. I even called the rabbit farm he visited a year ago to get a tour and to buy a few bunnies. LTD farm, where I got my turkey, was one of his videos. And on top of all that, homeboy can cook. He ain’t no home cook! 

Other ideas! I have to do a Laarb redemption, no question!… More foraging… More homecook stuff… Interviews. I would like to do a interview, but I don’t know how to get it on the blog- I have very little experience interviewing… Chicken n’ waffle party…

I would love to do some illegal stuff too! Like trying to buy raw milk… Sell pizzas straight out’ my kitchen. I was thinking this next summer I could make 20 pizzas from scratch and sell them one night for cheap. I would need help from a few of you. By helping me make the pizzas or coming over and buying them. I really want to encourage the informal economy when it comes to food… I want to try some guerrilla gardening stuff. I would need help with that also…

Grow more medicinal plants…

Doing some sort-of fast. Like a local only, or FORAGE AND GROW only fast- Thanks, Novella Carpenter! She does illegal things and swears! Her and Anthony Bourdain are my two biggest influences for this blog; FYI…

So I have ideas… We will just have to see how things go. I just don’t know if my ideas are too much, or if they are worth trying to do. I am not trying to be a clean, professional, appeal to a large group blog. I am slightly different and I am seeing I need some encouragement, but I’m excited for 2012.

820 Words of Randomness

820 Words of Randomness: That’s right, I write crap and warn you about it before you read it!

The last 18 months I have really been paying attention to my relationship with our food system. With the good food and the junk food I eat, I question: what it is, how is it made, why I am eating it and what does it do for me.

With most foods I ask myself if could I make it “from scratch.” I then get frustrated asking, what is “from scratch?”

  • Do I have some processed foods and make it “from scratch?” Like homemade cookies; The chocolate, butter, vanilla extract and sugar are processed.
  • Do I make a dish from all single ingredients? Like a homemade pizza; flour, water, yeast, cheese (the flour, cheese and the yeast are gimmes), tomatoes and basil.
  • Finally is “from scratch” something I grow or forage for and prepare? Like a salad from the garden.

I always am looking for a way to do most of the work myself. I don’t think there is a definite answer to what “from scratch” cooking is. I feel it is in the middle of my three choices. But we should be challenging ourselves to be more responsible for gathering and making our food- to have a more DIY attitude.

From food I start to think: what else do I use in my day to day life that I could make? Stuff like: medicine, teas, toothpaste, soaps, lotion, shampoo, shoes, clothes, gardening equipment, etc…

It’s funny, I have standards and I am not able to live up to them. I have been watching videos and listening to interviews with Daniel Vitalis. He has been inspiring. I don’t believe everything he talks about, but some stuff he says makes sense. He talks about “living water,” water that is from a spring, right from the earth. He has several websites, one of them is findaspring.com, which tells you where springs are in your area. For the past week I have been going to the Schmidt Brewery Well. The well is not 100% spring water, but it’s a step up from unfiltered tap water. He also is not a fan of plastics. So I am thinking how I can get spring water and get rid of all the plastic in my house; WHILE drinking pop from a plastic jug.

My diet has been absolute CRAP since we started to move. It’s nuts how change in your routine can mess with exercise and diet. I have gained at least 10 pounds, maybe 15; I don’t care to step on the scale. I am at or close to the heaviest I’ve been.

I have all this awesome knowledge in my head and I have a better idea of what I want my lifestyle and diet to be, but I really am not practicing it. I know it’s gonna come where I am closer to practicing my ideal diet, I am just not there yet.

Most of it is: I have been eating crap food. I have been saving seeds, making an AWESOME echinacea, hollyhock and raw honey- kombucha (post to come,) making wine (post to come,) learning about foraging, traditional medicines and more about local farmers. My diet is just down the toilet.

There are a lot of reasons for my diet being crap and I need to have a better understanding of them to move on. There are some minor emotional reasons. The reasons I am thinking of are: my three kids, a wife, work, laziness, lack of knowledge and convenience. You know, life! Over time you gain knowledge and it is easier to practice what you know. I feel like my body will catch up with my head.

There is a sensitivity your body has to your diet and your environment. While I am eating crap food I am not as sensitive to my body. I want to be more in-touch with how I am feeling and how I could feel better and live a healthier life.

I have done some thinking on the topics of this blog. I started to think they are too broad and I need to narrow things down a bit. When I first started to write my thought was: I want to write about my struggles, my ideas of eating and living a healthier lifestyle. The past month or so I started to questing if my topics were too broad; Like I am a Food Network TV personality and I have to fit in a nice organized box. I was then told- this is my blog and I can do what I want. The food system is complex, food history is complex, cultures are complex and yes, I am complex. (Insert laugh here.) So that’s where the randomness of these posts come from… or not so random. And I have no desire to be Guy Fieri.

The Move

We moved this past weekend. Change has always been hard on my diet. A week or two ago I told Kristina, “This is it- We are eating crap food from here until we are settled in to the new place, two or three weeks from now.” We were getting serious about moving.  It’s not the stress of change, it’s the convenience of eating convenient food; not having to plan, buy, cook and clean.

Crap food baby! Pizza, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, more Pizza, Arby’s, Jimmy John’s, Chipolte… POP! Yep, I am a HFCS sucking, supporting Monsanto stealing the world’s culture- P.O.S.!

Did I mention pizza? I have had Pizza Man twice during this move. I love Pizza Man. I grew up with it in the A.N.O.K.A. I have lived outside of the delivery area, as an adult, all but one blessed year when we lived across the street from one. I have driven miles to get it myself. It’s that good! Well, good news. I now live with-in the delivery area, but I will still drive to get it. Screw those pizza delivery guys!!!

Please forgive me for giving props to a -crap food- pizza place on this blog, I have sunk that low. I want higher standards, but I also want to be real. I am all about local, good, healthy food and cooking. I am also trying to figure out how to eat that way all the time: During family vacations, during moves, when the family is sick, when I REALLY don’t want to cook, when the thought of a chicken on a farm makes me confused -about our food system- and I want 20 McNuggets for $5 to show that free range chicken who’s boss.

I’m being silly! Sometimes you feel that way.

I have lost track of the garden. I see a few of my neighbors drooling at the thought of us leaving forever so they can harvest our vegetables. I have politely reminded them that we still “own” our house and we will be back several times a week.

The thought of going to Trader Joe’s has been out of reach the past few days. We are just getting to that point now, since our kitchen is almost unpacked. That’s just a grocery store, not the co-op, or the garden, or foraging. There is a process for me to get to that “ideal” of what my diet should be.

The good news! I have been reading Guerrilla Gardening: A Manuafesto. That’s right I -want to be- on my way to become a Che Guevara; only with plants, not guns. I can’t say I am on my way, until I actually do some guerrilla gardening. I do have dozens of plants back at the old house I want to plant somewhere.

More good news! We have a dinning room! We went to Ikea and bought the largest table they have. It seats up to FOURTEEN PEOPLE!… and we only have five people in our family.

Annika

Overboard my ass!

I like to have people over for dinner. My thought is: Build it and they will come! Kristina challenged me to fill our fourteen seat dinning room table up, so… You are invited to dinner at our house any Saturday night. Please bring the family and a dessert or beverage and I will give you a great meal.

Cooking and Culture

Learning more about our food system and the best ways to support local, sustainable food I have not heard much about preparing food. What do you do with all the good stuff you get from the CSA, farmers market or co-op? It seems like there is more of an emphasis on getting out and purchasing good food than there is on preparing meals for your family.
When you walk into the supermarket you will run into a cooler, not too far from the front door, that has everything your family needs for dinner. This would be something you can throw in the oven or quickly prepare: convenient food. Our culture is drawn to convenience. We want things to be easy, fast and cheap.
When you get food that has basic ingredients it will take longer make a meal. Food from the farmers market or CSA is basic ingredients. Instead of buying a jar of pickles you would be buying the cucumbers, dill and garlic to make the pickles. When you support local food, you are encouraging self-reliance and local food encourages cultural diversity. The pickles that would be made in Minnesota would taste different than the pickles made in other parts of the country. The pickles would not made by multi-billion dollar companies but by residents.
Do most people honestly cook? You can assemble food and heat food up, but do people take what is available to them and prepare a delicious and nutritious meal for their family? Cooking takes time, with our culture can we afford to spend several hours a day preparing meals? Not only once a week but several times a week?
Like I said in my last post I am far from perfect; I am just asking honest questions. People go to the farmers market, to the co-op and participate in CSA’s. That means people have to cook food. You may luck out and be able to go clip some lettuce from you yard and add a few veggies for a meal but on average feeding your family will consume a big part of your day. You need to plan, buy, cook, eat and clean. By coupling cooking and local food you are helping creating a unique culture. To support sustainable food means you need to get your hands dirty and help make meals.

A Simple Step

By January 2010 I was exposed to the Whole Foods Diet and I appreciated the simplicity of it. That is having a diet that would be more similar to someone who lived 150 years ago versus today. A diet with food from a sustainable farm: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, herbs and medicinal plants. All organic, homemade, grass-fed, free range and humanely treated. A process of a living farm that took knowledge and love to run.

As I got further into the diet I started to realize how I was romancing this image and how much different it is in our culture today. I have been challenged by lots of questions and issues ranging from: industrial organic farms, cage free chickens, medicinal plants, seed saving, food foraging, guerrilla gardening, dumpster diving, Monsanto, cannabis, food market co-ops, local food, supermarkets, animal slaughtering, cultural respect, urban farms, convenient foods, restaurants, raw food and seasonal eating… The list is very long! What I eat is something I am thinking about several times a day. It has been challenging to my values and challenging the reasons I have been eating the traditional American diet.

This is a blog to let out some of that frustration and to help keep me accountable to myself. I am the stereotypical overweight American. With a standard American diet, I will continue to gain weight, gain more heath problems, continue to dislike my weight and I will eventually be overtaken by heart failure. I am looking to take a stand against that part of our culture and to enjoy a long healthy life with my family. I am looking for support and for people to let me know I am not alone.

For the name Rubus-Raspberry, that is what was available from this site. One of my favorite experiences from 2010 was picking raspberries. We have several raspberry plants in our yard I got fruit from. I decided to make a simple jam with the fruit and turbinado sugar but I came up several cups short from what I needed. My oldest daughter and I went to a park here in Saint Paul and foraged several pints of wild black raspberries. We came home and made a large batch of jam, we saved a few jars but we gave most of the jam to our friends and neighbors. It was a learning experience I was privileged to share with my daughter.