My fermented Power Oatmeal recipe

2012-12-18-fermented oatmeal

Well, this is one case of where the picture doesn’t really tell the story. First, from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, I think my favorite ever food and cooking book, I picked up on fermenting oatmeal. Somewhere else perhaps I read about how in various part of Scotland, in days of yore, people set aside a lower drawer in their kitchen for fermenting oatmeal where it would stay for months. I just soak cracked oats or groats which I purchased from Speerville Flour Mill for a few days. They are fine after a few hours, but after 2-3 days they become very sour. If you are not used to fermenting things you might think they are rotten but they are not: just as with sourdough fermentation of bread grains (mainly wheat, rye, spelt), the more fermentation you have, the more acid is produced at which point germs (bacteria) cannot feed on it. Or to put it another way: it won’t rot. There could be a little mold on the top at some point, but I think that depends on the temperature and substance. Anyway, the main thing about this post is to mention fermenting oatmeal.

Just as with bread grains, fermenting oat grains greatly increases the availability of the nutrients whilst boosting vitamin and other levels, partly from releasing them from being bound in a dormant seed, partly from the germination process initiated by soaking (at room temperature of course), but also I believe partly from the micro-organisms themselves – they are living things filled with vitamins, minerals and so forth.

Fermentation aside, I’ve always liked oatmeal. It’s not something you rave about, rather a solid friend or neighbour whom you know well and can always count on. Solid. Simple. True. My favorite oatmeal is from steel-cut oats, soaked overnight, then cooked very slowly and served with butter, cream and maple syrup. I remember doing a 6 week meditation retreat in the Rocky Mountains during winter one year. I was in a small, but well designed one-room cabin without electricity or running water. The toilet was a hole in the ground not far from the cabin. Heating was from a kerosene heater. Lights from kerosene lamps. It was very snug. I would wake up at 3.30 or 4.00 am to start practice and then around 6.30 or so break for breakfast, at which point the oatmeal, which had been simmering slowly all along, was now ready. They I could go out on the porch, often covered in a new blanket of fresh high mountain (very dry) snow, brush it away, and have my morning oatmeal with a strong black tea (with cream and sugar), and life was grand. Yes, oatmeal is a true friend.

Here is the (playful) recipe for my Fermented Power Oatmeal, which although far more complex and even dramatic (the Maca Root), is really not as deeply pleasing to me as the steel-cut version described above):

1 cup fermented oatmeal

1.5 cups of water/fresh almond milk*

4 TBS left over ground almond meal (from making the milk)

cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom

pinch of sea salt

table spoon of Maca Root (very cheap if purchased at Bulk Barn)

After it is cooked, which doesn’t take long if has been soaked for more than a day: add in some gloopy flax milk, and 2 tbs fresh-ground flax.

With a sour oatmeal like this (which is sweetened considerably by the almond and flax milks), I find you don’t need or want sugar, but if you do, try adding in some dates or apples (cooked with the oatmeal), or simply drizzle local honey on top.

* the amount of water to add varies with each batch, largely dependent upon how long you have soaked it. I throw away the extra soak water to reduce sourness, and also there might be phytic acid concentrate in it (I don’t know how that works with oatmeal), but if it has been soaked a long time, it seems about 1.5 to 1 is enough water, but earlier on it is more like 2.5 to 1. You have to keep stirring oatmeal anyway so if you see it is getting too dry, just add some hot water from the kettle a little bit at a time and when it stops absorbing any more, you have enough water or milk.

My first flax Almond Milk Smoothie; plus Fats & chemistry links

flaxalmondmilksmoothie1

My mother sent me an Omega VRT 350 HD juicer for Christmas. Being more or less pagan I just opened up the box and got her into production. It’s a great little (and heavy) machine which is not designed for milks and butters, principally juices.  You feed it vertically, don’t really have to push, the augur masticates/presses the produce at a very slow 80 RPM per minute, so this is true ‘cold-processing’ and then away you go. Yesterday I made delicious almond milk. It is SO much better fresh, and unlike when making it with the blender, with this VRT (for vertical augur) machine, I get a rich, creamy milk which holds together as such for days (well, at least one day so far) afterwards rather than separating. It takes about 5 minutes to make including clean-up, though you have to soak the almonds in water overnight first.

Well, last night, having read about how fantastic flax is for you on so many levels, I decided to see what would happen if I tried to make a flax milk. Soaked overnight, put through machine. It is much slower going since the flax turns into a sort of gloopy jelly. I had to put everything through twice and ended up with a flax pudding. In fact, I suspect there are already flax pudding products or recipes out there but I will later blend one frozen banana with this flax goop and get an instant super-healthy jelly pudding. Or that’s the visualisation – perhaps blending will eradicate the jelly effect. But then if next time I add banana in with the soaked flax and process in the Omega together from the get-go, I will have an instant pudding.

For now I added nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and a dash of sea salt and roughly 3 parts almond milk to one part flax gloop for an instant smoothie. It was fine, not all that interesting, but for sure an interesting way to eat flax. I might also try adding all this gloop to a bread recipe just to see how it effects the flour. Each one cup of flax seeds ( I didn’t weigh them since just playing around) seems to yield (eyeballing) about 3 cups of milk (after soaking that is).

More about the Omega VRT model: there is lots on the internet, including many almost hilarious videos by John at discountjuicers.com, but the principal feature which sold me was that, for relatively little money compared to the top of the line Norwalk Juicer costing $2600 plus shipping and customs, this does an excellent job – because of slow, cool processing – in maintaining enzyme and other living elements, so much so that it is fine to keep the juice for up to 72 hours in the fridge after it has been processed. With nearly all other juicers if you did that you would end up with a discoloured, sometimes bad-smelling, unpalatable and unhealthy mess, because there is so much more oxidization in their more rapid processes. Other masticating juicers (principally the Champion) are similar to this one in not destroying so many living elements, but the Champion still processes at about 1300 RPM compared to this Omega’s 80 RPM. That’s a big difference. Because of the vertical augur technology, they seem to get very dry pulp out of it as well, and can handle everything from carrots, leafy greens to wheat grass, which also is a bit unusual for a single machine. Anyway, the key point is the 80 RPM.

Meanwhile, have decided to add growing vegetables in a greenhouse to my list of things that I do, and plan to focus on baking once a week and no more, and then meanwhile develop other skills, some of which I can bring to market, principally vegetables to begin with. But am also in discussion with some people about starting a full service organic farm in the Sydney area. This will be a slow-simmering project, but one that I would like to realise before having to bring out the pensioner’s walking cane as I dodder along who knows where in the deepening gloom (of a no doubt SPLENDID Cape Breton sunset!)….

Back to earth…. a customer/friend of mine just got back from a 10 week raw diet training program in Fort Bragg, California where, amongst many other things, they listened to a few lectures by the teaching scientists at this link: http://rawfoodeducation.com/?page_id=60

(this sort of thing starts to make sense if you listen to the lecture!)

18-12-2012 10-16-26 AM Fat lecture

As a baker and regular consumer of sourdough breads – I prefer whole grain these days but do skip around – I am obviously not a dedicated raw foodie, but I do think that we should be eating about half of our daily foods raw, which of course also means unrefined, whole and minimally, or at least only cold, processed. Which very few of us do. And I suspect that those who do go for raw only have quite a lot of information to impart, so I was glad that Antje gave me this link and now I pass it on to you. After viewing the video you will be up on all the chemistry behind the various fat theories in diet. And also, like me, suspect that adding more flax to the diet is not a bad thing…..