The Weston A. Price Way

Monday, April 11, 2011

Milk+Kefir ='Milk-a-rella!'

The phrase, "Don't Mess with Perfection" keeps coming back to mind. There are times when it stands out more than others, like, when I go to a restaurant and they think they're doing me a favor by not offering butter. God made the ingredients in butter. Man made the ingredients in margarine. Now, really. Which one do you think is better?

And that's pretty much the concept behind everything to do with eating traditionally. I don't follow it all...yet. I honestly don't know if I ever will. Not because I don't believe it's better, but because I've had a substantial number of years in which my taste buds have been conditioned to like fake better than real. And nearly all those years, I've also heard the propaganda that much of that fake is better for my health as well. Aw, heck...'fake' had become my 'real'.

It's that way for so many of us. I read a customer remark addressed to Trader Joe's about a month ago. The writer was applauding this organic-leaning food chain for finally putting real sugar on their shelves. What was the sugar he was applauding? Refined White Sugar. Oh, help.

But I do understand the comfort of things familiar...home, aromas...and tastes. I didn't drink wine for the longest time, and when I did, I didn't like the taste much. (My possibly worse addiction was Diet Coke.) But one day, I tasted a sweet wine made of grapes on the coast of North Carolina. I was immediately transported to the little grape arbor my dad tended in our garden. I remembered the taste of the grapes hanging fresh on the vine, the garden spiders we avoided, the color of the sun shining through the green of the grape leaves. For a split moment, I was a little girl picking grapes with my brothers again. Another time, I sipped a port. It was very strong and burned a little. (I'm guessing that's why it's served in those cute-but-elegant, doll-house sized glasses.) This taste immediately snuggled me up against my Grandpa Osborn's wool tweed blazer. I could smell the coat and his pipe...By both experiences, I am still amazed at the power of smell and taste to transport one instantly through decades of time. And I do, I do understand the chemistry between the physical senses and the emotions.

And that's why I have said so often that when we make a decision to change from messing with perfection to not messing with perfection, or more specifically, to ridding ourselves of processed in favor of unprocessed foods, we need to do it in small steps. Depending on your character and your family's, that could be one new traditional food or method of preparation each week, each month, or even each season. Whatever time-frame  you choose, it's change for the better so that makes it all good.

There is a story about a church and a piano. The church got a new music director. The music director didn't like where the piano sat on the platform. He moved it and the congregation's feathers were ruffled so badly that he eventually had to resign due to the contention. They got another leader. She didn't like where the piano was either. Six months later, the piano was exactly where she wanted it. No one ever complained.

Months later, she ran into the director who had offended the congregation. They talked. He shared his experience with the congregation. She shared that she had also not liked where the piano stood, but that now it was exactly where she wanted it. He asked how and her simply reply: "I moved it an inch at a time."

If you are of the Type A personality, you probably don't like that story a whole lot, but I wouldn't be right to mislead anyone into thinking that food changes are easy changes. They are not always easy and they are best done in increments. Don't be afraid to try, though. Some things, like pickles, take acquired taste. (That's how it was for me with beet kvass.) But if something is consistently disliked by your family, move on. If you like it, do make it for yourself from time to time, but don't get upset with them because they don't like stewed tomatoes or some other such food that you feel is "not only healthy, but tasty too!"  There are so many choices and ways of getting the good, real foods in...Be ready and excited about the prospect of exploration.

When I think of not messing with perfection, that doesn't mean I don't think man, with his God-given creativity, cannot take two perfect items and combine them to make a colossal item. A perfect example would be milk kefir, for instance. We start with milk. Preferably, unadulterated milk. At the very least, it should be whole, (best because the fat in milk helps the body to assimilate the rest of milk's nutrients),  hormone- and antibiotic-free (organic). This can now be found in nearly any grocery store. Every step closer to the cow is one step better...non-homogenized, raw from grass-fed cows, from a local farmer...This is the cream of the milk crop. For more information about this, please see my post, "Raw Milk, How do I Love Thee? (Let me Count the Ways...)" and real

In my case, it's raw milk. I hope we are always blessed to be able to use this precious commodity.

In the case of any milks, do not attempt to use ultra-pasteurized as this is dead milk. Absolutely no enzymes have survived this violent death by high heat. Kefir grains need to have something with which to work, so at the very least, stay away from ultra-pasteurized.

Another choice, goat milk, is great, but I definitely don't recommend the canned type. An annual goat share allows us a bit of goat milk starting each spring, (any day now!), and it is as much greater than canned as the sun is greater than the moon. I haven't had the pleasure of making kefir with it yet, but I am anticipating the taste experience.

Want a non-mammalian milk? Go for coconut...Unlike the problems found with soy and almond milks, coconut milk will not inhibit digestion or the work of the thyroid. As with animal milks, use full-fat for best assimilation of the coconut's nutrients...and there are so many that I will use another post to tell specifically about them.

The only other ingredient needed for milk kefir are these non man-made, living, gelatinous little pebbles,  reminiscent of cauliflower in appearance, called kefir grains. They are symbiotic cultures of [good] bacteria and [good] yeast. And within their little colonies, they hold the power of transformation. Like little fairy godmothers, they take your 'Milk' and add to it the '-a-rella'. The good and pure princess is transformed into a kind and powerful queen. Nine times more powerful than it's cousin, yogurt, kefir coats the gut with probiotic royalty.

How to take it? Some like it as is. I culture ours to nearly the thickness of yogurt and use it for parfaits of fruits, nuts and muesli, or our favorite use, in smoothies. What a great summertime refresher...add a raw egg from a pasture-grazed chicken and maybe a tad of whey and now we have a meal replacement.

Want to know more? Join GNOWFGLINS to get beautifully guided lessons on this and many, many more methods of traditional cooking. (I am certain you'll not regret it!) Or for information on this subject alone, go to Cultures for Health and watch their milk kefir video , or just scroll down and watch it right here. Cultures for Health also has a great FAQ page for milk kefir and if you don't have a friend who can share grains with you, you can purchase them at Cultures for Health at a very reasonable cost. Take care of your grains properly, and you'll have them a very long time.

Next post...See how I make milk kefir and get ready to mess with a little perfection.

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