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Month: June 2011

J-e-l-l…NO!

J-e-l-l…NO!

The chocolate syrup I made yesterday was a huge hit. Dallas wanted to dip anything he could find in it!

I used the concotion to add flavor to another cooking first (in my home at least,) homemade pudding. I have bought many blue boxes of Sugar-Free, Fat-Free Jell-O and Jell-O pudding in my day. I hope to never buy a box again. Making pudding at home was seriously easy, seriously cheap and SERIOUSLY yummy! So yummy that a spoonful prompted Dallas to announce, “Mommy! This is better than Safeway pudding!”

Just for comparison sake, here are the listed ingredients for a package of Sugar-Free Jell-O pudding mix:

Water, xylitol (baby laxative), modified food starch, cocoa processed with alkali, milk protein concentrate, contains less than 1% of hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut and palm kernel oils), salt, sodium stearoyl lactylate (for smooth texture), sodium alginate, sucralose and acesulfame potassium (sweeteners), natural and artificial flavor, artificial color.

From “How to Cook Everything,” by Mark Bittman

Vanilla Pudding (With choco syrup added. Don’t tell Mark)

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (optional)
Method
  • 1. Put 2 cups of half-and-half or milk, sugar and salt in a small or medium saucepot over medium-low heat. If using a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into milk or half-and-half using small sharp knife, then add pod. Cook just until mixture begins to steam.
  • 2. Combine cornstarch and remaining milk or half-and-half in a bowl and blend; there should be no lumps. Fish pod from pot and discard. Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in butter and vanilla extract, if using.
  • 3. Pour mixture into a 1-quart dish or 4 to 6 small ramekins or bowls. Put plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent formation of a skin, or do not cover if you like skin. Refrigerate until chilled, and serve within a day, with whipped cream if you like. Whisk to remove lumps if needed.
Real Time Farms and Brown Cow Yogurt

Real Time Farms and Brown Cow Yogurt

 

What a fantastic resource! I am in love with http://www.realtimefarms.com/ and all that they are attached to! Use their handy website to find local food sources, food artisans, restaurants and Farmer’s Markets.

 

I have been hoping to take my boys to visit a dairy farm and this site has been the perfect starting point. If you are interested, you can register with Real Time Farms and connect your favorite farms/markets or otherwise to the rest of the blogosphere. Pretty interesting!

 

 

While on the subject of visiting dairy farms, I should talk a little about my new favorite food. Brown Cow Yogurt. Seriously, it’s my FAVORITE food right now. This is how the Brown Cow describes itself,  “We use only natural ingredients, like fresh, wholesome milk, the finest fruits, pure maple syrup, honey, real vanilla, coffee and cocoa and never any preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners or refined sugar.” I challenge you to pick up a Creme Top yogurt, check out the ingredients for yourself and give it a taste.

 

Oh Lordy, it is amazing! Apparently, someone in the world started using the words “amazeballs” in the past year or so and yes, Brown Cow is amazeballs! I’ve stopped eating low or no fat foods after some research and trial. It’s true that fat does not make you fat. I can never, ever go back to eating the yogurt of the past. Dannon Light N’ Fit? Gag me.

 

I really enjoyed watching videos from the Brown Cow dairy farmers (here). After hearing how well these cows are cared for and fed, you may start to wonder about the cows we don’t ever hear about. You know, feedlots, antibiotics, all that…well, crap.

 

As I get more and more into talking about the world of dairy and how we should be slurping up the full fat milk from local, grass-fed cows, I pose a challenge. As a great first step into dairy awareness (OK, pause here to just make it known that it is REALLY hard to type dairy without constantly typing DIARY instead) check out where your milk is from!

 

http://whereismymilkfrom.com/

 

Go grab your milk, copy the code into the handy website listed above and check out the distance between cow and your fridge! I’ve found the best source of local-ish, organic milk to be Fresh & Easy. They carry Humboldt Creamery and it is pretty good!

Empanadas? We Like a Lottas.

Empanadas? We Like a Lottas.

Life is Peachy
We are lucky enough to be immersed in farmer’s markets where we live. In addition to the standard Saturday markets, San Ramon also has a Thursday artisan market. As if that weren’t enough, Walnut Creek (10 minutes from San Ramon) holds a fabulous Sunday market, too. I’ve been making a point of hitting at least one farmer’s market a week, lately it has been the Thursday artisan affair. The market caters to the local business lunchers and stay at home moms.
 One of our favorite finds have been strawberries from the guys with the giant yellow banner. What, you don’t know who I am talking about? We also stalk the Kettle Corn man, the guy who sells peaches and nectarines, Dairy Goddess cheese, Jamaica Iced Mocha, the Brentwood corn man and our newest found love, the EMPANADA man!
I normally prefer my pastries to contain anything sweet, but after trying a little meat pie from the El Porteno man, my eyes have widened! I wish I knew more about the man who sells the empanadas at our farmer’s market, but I can say he is not from California! Empanadas can be found all over South America (except for Bolivia, where they are called saltenas.) Anyway, he is just the person I want to buy empanadas from. An old, striped sweater and linen M.C. Hammer pants, curly hair, braces and an indistiguishable accent. The kids and I ate two chicken pies for lunch and brought three beef home for dinner. El Porteno has a San Francisco location in addition to their farmer’s market booths. Check it out!
Berries from the yellow banner guy, Dairy Goddess cheese on our sweet potato and a carne empanada from El Porteno.