Ok, so I ran across this fantastic challange about 11 days too late! I love the idea of unprocessed foods. My mom constantly tells me she thinks I would have made an awesome pioneer. I knit compulsively, make tons of crafty household doo-dads, sew, do most of my own household repairs, do home decorating from my own ideas & designs, chop my own wood, smoke meat in my homemade smoker, grow my own food, can my own food, make my own broth, grow my own herbs, make almost all the food I injest from scratch, have a hoard of cats, ok maybe that last one may or may not be a telltale sign of a successful pioneer, but you get the point. I see almost all things as a challenge, like hey, that’s a pretty cool sweater sitting there on the rack for $75 but I’ll bet I could knit a better one! Or hey, that’s some pretty good super expensive gourmet seasoning from Whole Foods, I totally could make it better myself! The funny thing is a lot of the projects are partially based on the idea I could do them myself without paying for things but sometimes, a lot of times, they end up being just as expensive, if not more expensive, but man! is it worth it. My eyes have been opened to an entirely new world of food!!! I’ve learned so much about cooking & eating, it’s been a really amazing, delicious experience. Anyways, back to the challenge, Andrew Wilder has this challenge going that defines unprocessed eating as such:
Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.
I think that could be open to a wide range of interpretations but I think the idea is very clear, don’t eat crappy food!
I signed up, took the pledge & will begin the challenge on the 15th. I think I will commit to the first week on a solid. I have doubts about doing it the rest of the month because of Halloween. I love Halloween, my son loves Halloween, Halloween is all about the unholiest of all unprocessed foods – CANDY! So there may be some slight modifications due to that one issue but I will sort out the details in my head over the next few days & come up with some ground rules. I plan on blogging about it so stay tuned. . .
Here are a few recipes I think I’ll include in my challenge:
I used MacIntosh apples and they didn’t require any special measures to prevent browning. If you think your apples will brown excessively, dip them in a solution of 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice right after they have been sliced.
Depending on how strictly you apply the Kitchen Test, spices might be out for Unprocessed. Since I bought my cinnamon whole while in Mexico this summer and ground it myself for the apples, I figured it was okay.
- 3 medium Apples
- 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp. fresh ground Cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together maple syrup and cinnamon in a small ramekin or bowl.
- Wash and core the apples using an apple corer.
- Slice off 1/4? of the top and bottom of the apple and discard. Slice the remaining apple using a mandolin set to 1/8? thick.
- Spread the apple rings out onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Try to avoid overlapping the rings.
- Using a pastry brush, coat apple slices lightly with maple syrup. Place in oven.
- Bake for approximately 2 hours, rotating once or twice. Start checking on them around 30 minutes*.
- They may be slightly pliable when they come out of the oven, but should crisp up when cool.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.
*Baking time will vary with apple varieties, thickness of slices, and position in the oven. Keep an eye on them!
…are easier than chocolate chip cookies:
- Heat to sterilize the milk (185 degrees).
- Cool milk to proper incubation temperature (90-120 degrees).
- Add starter yogurt.
- Incubate at warm temperature 4-24 hours.
- Glass jars (quart canning jars or empty mayo or spaghetti sauce jars work great)
- Milk (any, from skim to whole – but skim will be very runny unless you add powdered milk, which seems a little #processed for this challenge. You could always just grab raw milk straight from the cows!)
- Candy thermometer, but I can show you how to do it without one too
- Pot large enough to hold your glass jars
- 2 Tbs of plain yogurt per quart of milk (Buy the freshest yogurt possible at a store and make sure it has “live and active cultures.” I prefer Dannon or Stonyfield. I know they have the three top cultures that I’m looking for to help the gut.)
- Picnic cooler
- Bath/beach towel
1. Put a dishcloth in the bottom of a large pot, and place the clean jars on the cloth.
2. Pour milk into your jars to about an inch from the top.
3. Place jars into the pot and fill pot with tap water around the jars.
4. Cook on high heat until boiling and get the milk to about 185 (you can’t burn it with this method, so if you forget it for a while, it’s OK!). Turn off the heat and put lids on the jars.
5. Put the pot in the cooler with the towel underneath and the lid on both pot and cooler.
6. Cool the milk. You can do it on the counter, in the garage in winter, or in a sinkful of cold water with ice packs.
7. Get milk to about 110 degrees. I know the milk is about ready when I can pick up the jars and hold them without burning my hands.
8. Stir in ~2 Tbs. plain yogurt for each quart of milk.
9. Get those lids on again and nestle your jars in the cooler. Keep them wrapped in one half of the towel and take the lid off the pot to let the heat out, then close the lid of the cooler to keep the heat in.
My yogurt jars happily nestled in the cooler, ready to incubate.
Before I close the lid, I’ll wrap the towel end from the right around the jars.
10. Incubate 4-24 hours. Shorter incubation makes sweeter yogurt, longer is more tart. Also lower incubation temperature makes sweeter yogurt and higher makes more tart. I’ve had good success at 4 hours and at 24 (add a teapot of boiling water at the 12-hour mark if going for the full 24, which gets rid of almost all the lactose in the milk).
11. When the time is up, put the jars into the freezer for about an hour to make a creamier consistency. Do not stir first. No room in the freezer? They can go right into the fridge.
That’s it! You have created yogurt!
- 4-5 pounds very ripe tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of salt
- Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.
- One by one, use tongs to place each tomato into the boiling water. Leave each tomato for about 30-45 seconds. Then, use tongs to remove each tomato and place immediately into an ice water bath in a large bowl.
- This is my favorite part. The skins of the tomatoes will crack and start to peel; all you have to do is simply peel the skins off completely. (You can save these skins to make your own hearty tomato paste!)
- Using a knife, quarter each of the tomatoes and cut away ant of the hard pieces.
- Now, it’s time to squeeze out the seeds and excess water. Place an empty bowl on your work surface and squeeze out the seeds and liquid. Place the drained tomatoes in a strainer and allow them to strain longer. Don’t worry if you don’t get every seed out. The point is not perfection; the point is rustic, homemade goodness.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Place the tomatoes in the skillet and bring to a boil.
- Bring the heat down to a simmer. There is no need to break apart the tomatoes. Over time, they will simmer down and break apart. Simmer for at least 45 minutes. You may simmer longer depending on your desired thickness. Less time results in a chunkier sauce whereas more time will result in a thinner one. At the end, finish it off with a pinch of organic sea salt and stir it in. Enjoy!