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Fermented Coconut Granola

September 18, 2010

We love this recipe for Coconut Granola. Grains, nuts and seeds can be quite taxing on our digestive systems unless they have been soaked or fermented first. The modern day approach to food is fast and efficient and, consequently, we’ve forgotten a lot of the traditional food preparation methods like soaking oats overnight before making porridge. In this granola recipe, the oats are fermented before cooking/dehydrating making them really easy on the tummy and yummy yummy yummy!

We don’t keep breakfast cereal in our house because it’s generally highly processed (even weetbix) and usually contains lots of sugar. But having grown up eating cornflakes and weetbix, I do crave some kind of breakfast cereal at times. Nuts (soaked and dehydrated to neutralise the phytates and activate the enzymes) and fruit with milk, cream or yoghurt is a really nice brekky but if you’re really after a bowl of morning cereal, then Fermented Coconut Granola is the answer! Kayo loves this – she has it dry without milk, usually in the mornings but often for an afternoon snack as well.

There is a bit of effort in making it but you can make a large batch and it keeps really well in an airtight container.

Coconut Granola

8 cups rolled oats
1/2 melted unsalted butter, cooled
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, cooled
1 and 1/2 cups whole yoghurt
2 cups water
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup
1 tspn sea salt
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups crispy nuts (soaked and dehydrated)
1 cup raisins

Mix Oats, butter, coconut oil, yogurt, and water together in a large bowl. Pat down, cover with a plate, and leave on the kitchen counter for 2 days. Place honey, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and set in a small pot of simmering water until honey warms and becomes thin. Mix honey with oat mixture. Spread the mixture out on lined cookie trays and bake in a very low oven for several hours until completely dried out or put in a dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours. Mix with shredded coconut, nuts, and raisins. Store in airtight container. Serve with milk, cream or yoghurt. Also, great used as a yogurt or ice cream topping.

I make double this quantity and the mixture perfectly fits into the 5 trays of my dehydrator. You can just spread the mixture out as one mass and break it up after it dries or break it up into lumps before dehydrating it. Depends on how uniform you want the final result to be. If I’m making it for others, I tend to be fussier about how it looks (see picture below), if it’s just for the family, then I do the quickest easiest way (tastes the same!).

* Recipe from Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig


September 17, 2010

We just love this festival that happens in September every year at our local beach (Currumbin). Local artists display their sculptures along the beach for 2 weeks. We go down at different times of day to see the sculptures in different lights. At night, they are all lit up and it’s great to go down, have a picnic and let the kids roam freely among them. It’s refreshing to get out and have a break from the usual evening routine at home too.

This sandstone sting ray was one of Taiji’s favourites.

I loved these sand shoes. My mother, visiting from Toodyay in Western Australia, loved the sculpture exhibition too. Afterwards, we sat in a cafe overlooking the beach and had a glass of wine while the kids had some hot chips.

All in all, a lovely outing!

Sweet potato harvest

August 31, 2010

There are many little surprises that John Palmer leaves in our garden for us to discover and harvest (usually under Taiji’s direction). I’m sure John tells me what he’s planted and shows me where but I forget and it’s always so nice when I stumble across some edible plant somewhere in our rather wild garden.

This weekend Taiji decided it was time to harvest the sweet potatoes that he and John had planted some time ago, so Kosuke and Taiji set to:

Taiji wanted to eat them straight away but I explained that they needed to be cooked.

We had hash browns cooked in coconut oil for dinner. Yum yum!

Little steps

August 30, 2010

I’ve always been overwhelmed at the beginning of projects. The task ahead seems enormous and I hover in uncertainty about how to tackle it. When I look back, I realise this has always been a tendency of mine and it only seems to be this year that I feel I’m gaining skills to overcome it. One piece of advice from friend really helped. She says, take time to sit and ponder and an answer usually comes. If you don’t know how to do something now or resolve something now, don’t panic about it but take time to reflect, sleep on it and in time, with peace, clarity comes. I’ve found this very valuable.

The second thing that has been helping me lately is the idea of taking little steps. If the big picture is overwhelming, start with one small part of it. Tackle that and then go onto the next bit. Our garden is rather large and has overwhelmed me since the day we moved here. If it wasn’t for John Palmer adopting us and our garden, we would be spending our weekends pushing the lawn mower (not really kosher in an ecovillage!). Lately, to my surprise, I’ve been enjoying gardening! Once I decided to tackle a small section at a time, I began to enjoy it.

I’ve just created a small garden bed next to our front deck. It was a weedy messy overgrown bed and now it is planted with lovely natives from Michelle’s Native Plants. Michelle kindly came to our house, looked at where I was thinking of planting and put together a group of plants that were suitable for the spot. What satisfaction I feel walking out of my front door every day and seeing the little garden I’ve created.

Wholefood for Children

August 28, 2010

This is my new favourite cookbook that my friend, Kacey, introduced me to. I had been raving to her about wholefood for kids based on traditional diets (and the teachings of the Weston A Price Foundation) for a long time. One day, Kacey said she had found a book that had recipes and information exactly along the lines of the advice I had been giving her. I had a look at the book and just couldn’t resist getting it even though a good portion of it is baby food and Kayo is nearly two.

Wholefood for Children by Jude Blereau is full of practical recipes that use every day ingredients and even though many of the recipes are geared to please a young one’s palate, the recipes I’ve made so far are really tasty! Lots of the recipes include stock. Stock or bone broth is full of really good minerals and so nourishing.

We had loads of bones in our freezer from our bulk organic meat purchase from farmer Paul Graham. My neighbour made this beautiful and tasty gelatinous beef stock (pictured below) and shared it with me. It’s so easy then just to finely dice veggies, throw in leftover rice and any other tidbits you might have. This is an “on the fly” busy day when I really can’t put time or effort into food for the kids. With stock, you know they are going to get a nourishing meal, even if it’s a five minute quickie.

The container on the left in the picture is the fat that was on top of the stock. I use this for sautéing (though it spits with the bits of stock so can be messy). Kayo loves “chippies” so I often make potato or sweet potato chips by just shallow frying them in ghee, coconut oil and/or leftover fat such as this from the stock. These fats are saturated fat and are stable at high temperatures (as opposed to vegetable oil which oxidises when heated). Saturated fats help us to absorb all the fat soluble vitamins (A,K,D,E). They also contain dietary cholesterol which is “vital for gender expression, immune response, memory function and to maintain the integrity of cell membranes in our body” (thanks to Bec Stoneman for this info! Bec is pursuing a Bachelor of Dietetics & Nutrition and is as passionate about this sort of stuff as me – more so probably and certainly more knowledgeable!).

One thing I’ve learnt from the book is adding apple to savoury dishes. Kayo and Taiji often don’t finish apples that they start eating and I end up with mangy bits of apple in the fridge that I don’t want to throw away. Chopping this up finely and adding it to the stew or sauce sweetens it a bit and adds interesting flavour. Both Taiji and Kayo have been eating more of what I’ve been cooking which is a thrill! (I’m rather intolerant of fussy eaters!). Anyway, broth broth broth is my motto at the moment and I am adding it to just about everything.

Honey bee and the wattle tree

August 27, 2010

We have a wattle tree out the front of our house and were surprised in July to find it in full blossom. Spring had come early it seemed and for a while I ignored the tree, feeling too perturbed by the incredibly early arrival of Spring. But one day, heading outside, I could not ignore the loud buzzing sound emanating from the wattle tree. It was absolutely full of bees going about their work collecting nectar.

I thought of old Jack up the road and figured they must have come from his hive. Jack lives just a few hundred metres up the road from the ecovillage and keeps several hives. We’ve been buying his lovely honey for years. Raw honey in the shops has usually been heat-treated so is not truly raw. Jack’s honey is totally untreated. His friend Trish sells it for him from a little road side stall out the front of his house.

Last Sunday, we went to buy some more honey from Trish as we had run out. Taiji commented that the honey was darker than usual. I didn’t believe him at first until we got home and I had a proper look. Sure enough it was much darker and it even tasted different. Then it dawned on me. The bees had feasted themselves on all the wattle trees in the area, including our garden and so had made wattle honey! How nice to be eating honey made from the nectar of trees in our own garden.

Our castle

August 14, 2010

Last night I watched Grand Designs, a British program which follows the progress of people building their dream homes. This episode followed a family who bought an old ruined castle which was virtually a pile of mossy rubble and over several years and several hundreds of thousands of pounds, restored it back into a castle. The build went way over budget and they ended up with a huge mortgage which they managed to pay by turning 9 rooms of the castle into guest accomodation. Living in a castle was the husband’s boyhood dream and for all the pain, frustration and money, every time he visited the building in progress, his dream was revitalised and he fell in love with his castle all over again. Despite everything they succeeded but the final message of the program was that the challenge didn’t finish with completing the build as they had had to compromise their lives by working really hard to meet the mortgage payments.

Our own castle was made possible by the discovery of two old army buildings for sale from the old Wacol army base near Ipswich.

We purchased these two lovely old weatherboard storehouses for $5000 for the pair and had them transported to the Ecovillage on two trucks with a police escort. We had faced many many challenges leading up to their delivery and there was many a time when we were on the verge of giving up. I will never forget the thrill and sheer delight when these buildings arrived at 3am and were delivered to our block.

Once in position, it was a long path ahead to turn these two old shells into a liveable home.

The larger building on the left, we called the Living Pavillion and the smaller one on the right, the Sleeping Pavillion. Then we joined them together with an entrance.

Over time, a home gradually emerged thanks to the help of many willing and generous friends and future neighbours.

During the build, I was working full time plus a weekend job and Kosuke was working 6 or 7 nights a week and between us, we took care of Taiji who was still a toddler.

Taiji grew out of babyhood into childhood walking gang planks, climbing ladders and helping us paint.

The Living Pavillion had no floor, so we put in a suspended concrete slab. From a shell….

… to a home. Our house isn’t fancy and it isn’t a show home but we love it. It’s a long cherished dream come true and it’s our castle.