Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why it's my business now to make our food at home

I've always been concerned with unwanted ingredients in our foods. High fructose corn syrup is a chief offender but after reading an article in the New York Times, I was appalled and spurred on to do something I know I should have been doing anyway: making most of our food from scratch.

Many of us learned a long time ago to avoid MSG. How interesting that food manufacturers basically are still using MSG in their products. I know many of us who do not eat meat often use substitutes. I have learned to stay away from most soy products especially ones with soy protein isolates, etc . . . and make special efforts to buy soy free meat substitutes. It's so disheartening to find that so many of these things contain MSG (of course under a different name). I've made the the decision to cut out all of these . . . even though my son loves "fakin bacon" (smoky flavored tempeh) especially since I can make a lot of these things from scratch (thereby avoiding all the flavorings). It's a lot of work considering that I already spend so much time in the kitchen preparing meals. We hardly eat out and ordering in is just not an option. So . . . I knew I had to get more serious about making things like seitan and my own "fakin' bacon" from unflavored, basic tempeh.

It's time to make a change. So much of these additives are in there and we don't know their effects. They are far from natural and are often addictive. I'm making the decision to get more serious about whole, natural foods . . . it's not easy.

I've been vegetarian for years now and most of the staple foods that I used to buy are seriously, seriously processed. I know the best way to eat food is when it's minimally processed but I'm busy and life is hectic with two kids. It's easier to eat pre-fabricated stuff. But it's certainly not cheaper. I used to buy Field Roast Sausages and use them to make breakfast and sometimes some dinner dishes. They are about $6 for 4 links at Whole Foods. I am currently making my own for a fraction of the cost. And they taste great. And they don't have any "yeast extract". I'm also making tempeh bacon and while my son knows the difference and is a little skeptical, they do taste really good.

I'm also making my own bread these days because the bread I used to buy at Whole Foods has gone up to over $5 a loaf. The added benefit to this is that since I make the bread and it takes a bit of effort, I'm less likely to just be eating on bread all the time. Oh, but the bread I make is delicious! I bake this bread but I've changed it around so that it will be a tall sandwich loaf. I also bake this bread which is really hearty and wholesome. Here's a picture: .

Here's the recipe which I found on the Mothering message board (Vegetarian & Vegan Living). I made a slight mod (1 tbsp more sugar)

Tall Sandwich Bread
1 1/4 c warm water (105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 T oil
3T sweetener of your choice (I use sorghum)
1 t salt
1 c white flour (I use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose)
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour)
1/2 c gluten
1 1/2 t dry active yeast
To this I add: 2-4 T ground flax seed

Mix with a bread hook in the Kitchenaid on Speed 1 for 8 minutes or until gluten is well developed. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise till doubled (about 1 hour) in a warm. draft-less place (I place a bowl of hot water in my oven and cover with a damp towel). Punch the dough down, transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 1/2" thick. Tightly roll the dough as if making cinnamon rolls, tuck the end under and pinch closed. Transfer to lightly oiled bread pan. Let rise again. Bake for 40 min at 350 F. Transfer freshly baked bread to cooling rack (remove from pan).

More to come . . .

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