Category Archives: Local Food


Have you heard of kefir?

If you like yogurt, you are going to love kefir! 

The product resembles a runny yogurt, but is made with a completely different culture.

It tastes similar to a slightly carbonated yogurt. 

You can buy kefir pre-made in stores, or you can make it yourself.  In stores you will find plain, and many wonderful flavors like raspberry, peach, vanilla, straberry, etc.  Prices usually range from $4 to $6 a quart.

Several brands are easy to locate in stores and taste wonderful:


My favorite brand is the Helios.  It just tastes great, and I love to drink it straight from the bottle as soon as I pick up some from the store.  If you are out grocery shopping, and get really hungry and thirsty, this is a perfect snack.  So much better for you than a soda pop.  Refreshing and rejuvinating! 

I used to sell this product in my healthy foods store Weiser Farms Natural Country Store.  I stocked four flavors on our shelves, vanilla, plain, raspberry, and strawberry.  I couldn’t hardly keep it in stock.   So many of our customers knew it was a nourishing nutrient dense food.  Many of our customers were dealing with severe health issues, and they used this product in daily smoothies to help them recover and get their health back on track.

Nourishing Kefir Smoothie

1 cup kefir plain or flavored  (good source of vitamin D, and various probiotics that aid in digestion and help the body to make vitamins such as vitamin B in the digestive tract)
1 cup coconut milk ( in the can, great for lauric acid and many other nutrients)
1 banana  (good source of potasium and other nutrients)
1 cup frozen blueberries or berry blend. (source of antioxidents, immune boosting nutrients and vitamins such as C and betta carrotene precurser to vitamin A)
1 tablespoon whey powder from grass fed cows or goats (this contains complete amino acids for building up the body’s tissues)
1 tablespoon flax oil (good source of omega oils)
1 tablespoon expeller pressed wheat germ oil (good source of natural vitamin E)

Blend until smooth.  Drink up!

Some folks also included raw egg yolks from free range chickens.  Also could include a pealed apple to increase sweetness if needed, or use a natural sweetener such as sucanat, evaporated cane juice, maple syrup, or stevia.  We prefer to use the apple.

Kefir is so delicious and nutritious.

Nutritional Information About Kefir

This is a quote from Dr. Mercola’s website on kefir nutrition:

“The exceptional nutritional content of Kefir offers a wealth of healthy benefits to people in every type of condition. More than just beneficial bacteria, Kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help your body with its natural healing powers and maintenance functions.

The complete proteins in Kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body.

Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in Kefir, is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because it also offers loads of calcium and magnesium — both of which are critical for a healthy nervous system — Kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.

Rich in vitamin B12, B1, and vitamin K, Kefir is an excellent source of biotin, a B vitamin which aids the body’s absorption of other B vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The many advantages of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the normal function of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping promote healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity. Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus — the second most abundant mineral in our bodies — helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.”

Kefir Culture

You can make Kefir at home for pennies yourself.  Just aquire milk and kefir culture.  Very simple!

You can buy the culture in active live cluster form, or active dehydrated live powdered form. 

The active live culture ‘grains” will give you the ability to “re-make the product” everyday from re-using the strained culture “grains” or clusters. 

Making kefir from the dry powdered method, you will need to buy a packet of powedered culture each time you want to make it.  It has most but not all the benefits of using the live grains or clusters.  But is still a very nutritious drink, and even easier to make.

Here is a picture of live kefir “grains” in the bottom of a mason jar.

Kefir grains will culture fresh milk or pasturized milk.

I prefer to use Fresh Grade A Raw Milk when making kefir.  It has more available nutrients to feed the culture and to feed me.   I buy my raw milk from a local farmer in South Carolina.  You can read more about it here.

Kefir is so easy to make.  Much easier than making yogurt in my opinion, as there is no heating involved.  It incubates on its own at room temperature right on the kitchen counter.

How To Make Kefir

Here is the method I use to make kefir, using the live “grains” or clusters:

Into a clean bowl, strain the kefir.  This lets you gently seperate the finished kefir liquid from the culture “grains”.

Into another clean bowl, rinse the kefir “grains” or clusters with a cup or so of fresh grade A raw milk.  I like to rinse them two or three times, very gently so as not to break the clusters.

Using a plastic or wooden spoon, scoop the grains out of the strainer and place them into a clean quart size jar.

Add Fresh Grade A Raw Milk.  I fill my jar 3/4 full.  How much milk you use depends on how many grains you have in your jar.  I use about two tablespoons of grains.

Cover jar with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.

Leave the jar on the counter at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours.  Most people leave it for about 24 hours.  But it is fun to experiement, and I like the less tart kefir (12-24 hours) for drinking, and the more tart (24-48 hours) kefir for baking and making deserts.     I have also noticed that my “grains” grow larger and double in quantity faster, if I give them a little longer incubation times.  This works wonderfully if you plan to give away your extra “grains” to friends and family.

Repeat this process every 12 hours to 48 hours, and refridgerate any unused kefir product, until ready to use.  It keeps a very long time in the refridgerator.  I have been in situations where I made a huge surplus and put up several jars in refridgerator,  and it has kept perfectly over six months or more.

I have also put my cultures to sleep in the refridgerator, such as when I have gone on vacation, or been pregnant and had no desire for anything for a while.  Put the cultures in a fresh jar of raw milk in the refridgerator and they will slowly go to sleep.  When you are ready to wake them up, set the jar back out on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.  Then repeat the steps to make kefir.  They will wake back up and go back to work.

How To Use Kefir

Drink IT!!!

Drink it straight of flavor it with sweetner and fruit juice.

Kefir is great in smoothies too.  By adding fruit, it tames the tartness and even children beg for more.

You can strain the kefir in a cheese cloth or cheese strainer for several hours and make kefir cheese, similar to cream cheese or yogurt cheese.  It is a soft spreadable cheese.

I love making kefir frosting for cinamon rolls and kefir glaze for bunt cakes.  Just add powdered sugar to the kefir until you have a nice glaze for icing your rolls.  You can flavor it with vanilla extract, almond extract, or a teaspoon of orange juice too, to vary the flavor for different uses. 

When adding kefir to your bread, muffin, cake, and pancake recipes, you get a much fluffier product.  It causes the yeast in the bread recipe to be extra active too.  So be prepared for a high rise!

Kefir give chocolate products a wonderful flavor.

Use kefir in place of any recipe that calls for buttermilk, milk, yogurt, etc.  Use kefir cheese in any recipe that calls for cream cheese, and some that call for sour cream.  It is great for replacing sour cream in making savory dips too. 

Want to learn more?

I first learned about Kefir over 10 years ago from an Amish friend.  We lived in Indiana and I met an Amish woman very different from most in their community.  She made all sorts of fermented drinks and she loaned me her cookbook called Nourishing Traditions through the Weston Price Foundation.  She also gave me several magazines also written by the Weston Price Foundation.   Reading this material changed my life for the better, and I know it will change yours for the better too.  This is a true treasure chest full of real people, real food, and real truth about health and nutrition. 

Articles and more on the Weston A Price Foundation website.

Books that had a huge impact on my understanding of health and nutrition are:
Restoring Your Gut by Jordan Rubin MD
What The Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russel MD
Know Your Fats by Dr. Mary Enig
Eat Fat Loose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Where To Buy

Where to buy healthy books and kefir “grains” or live culture clusters?

Where to buy kefir culture powder?

Body Ecology

Dr. Mercola

Where to buy whey powder from grass fed animals for making smoothies?

Dr. Mercola  whey from grass fed cows

Garden Of Life  whey from pastured goats

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Chocolate Chip Crepe

We had company over for food and fellowship on Friday, and they shared with us that their favorite way to eat pancakes was called crepes. 

Our friends, Andy and Annelies, are from Belgium.  Belgium sits just below the Netherlands, and between Germany, and France.   They are also a “short” boat ride from England.  Belgium is part of the European Union and so folks can easily travel back and forth to the various European countries.  It is a very educated and open society.  Health care is free or very inexpensive for every citizen.  The standard is for doctors to make house calls.  They are very proactive in health care. 

Andy and Annelies heard and obeyed the Lord’s direction to come to the USA as missionaries.  They sold everything they owned and packed a couple of suit cases and came to America.  Before coming to the USA, Andy worked as an EMT.  Andy also served as a pastor of their church for 10 years.  Annelies ran a home daycare with 14 children.

Andy attends school full time at Fruitland Bible College and will graduate with a degree next year.  He will continue on with a second school for biblical training in Charlotte, NC and has been accepted into the program there once his current studies are finished.   They homeschool their son.  They are very excited about homeschooling.   In Belgium, both the christian faith and homeschooling were not encouraged.  Less than 1% of Belgium is Christian. 

We are so excited to have this beautiful family in our lives, and will be sharing some more about them in upcoming articles.

We had a great time of fellowship together.  They told me that alot of the food they enjoyed in Belgium was similar to French cuisine.  The foods are rich with cream, yoghurts, cheese, butter, fresh raw milk, fresh eggs, fresh meats, potatoes, artisan breads made with lard, and Belgium chocolate.   Their food is absent from artificial additives, and preservatives.  Everything comes fresh and raw!  Nutrient dense food full of life, full of nutrients, and enzymes.   Not canned and preserved to the point it is lifeless. 

It has been challenging to find this quality of food since moving to the USA.  But slowly they are meeting people, and learning where to find such good fresh ingredients at an affordable price.   Raw milk and fresh farm eggs to start with.  They long for the ingredients to prepare the fresh nutrient dense foods they love. 

This rings true to my heart and my experience too.  I know those feelings of having lived on a farm raised fresh grass fed meats, free range eggs, and fresh raw milk,  and owning a healthy food store with access to amazing foods, and having Amish friends who raised every kind of fresh items too.  I had access to fresh and nutrient dense ingredients all the time.  Then when I moved, I did not have access to any, until I slowly found my way through the food maze.  Now we enjoy fresh raw milk and fresh farm eggs everyday.  Thanks to Weiser Natural Foods, we are able to buy a lot of nutrient dense foods and ingredients affordably in bulk too.

Annelies said her father is a chef in Belgium, and makes the most wonderful food.   She learned to cook from him.  She has fond memories of wonderful meals around the family table.   Crepes were one of the best deserts she learned to make for her husband.  Andy’s favorite crepe is topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. 

These crepes sounded so good!  I thought about them all the next day.  I was making pancakes for my family on Saturday, and wanted to give this crepe thing a try.  To be honest, I had never made a crepe before.  I was intimidated by its elegant appearance and fancy flavors and high price at the restaurants.  But Annelies told me it is just a pancake, and if I can make pancakes, then I can make crepes.

So here is what I did:

With thin pancake batter, put 1/4 cup batter in hot pan.  Tip pan gently from side to side, until batter covers the bottom of pan.  I added a few miniature chocolate chips to the batter.  This cooks very quickly in about a minute per side.  When the crepe is a light golden color, or the color you desire, remove from pan and place on a plate.

I then sprayed whipped creme down the center of the crepe. 

Next, sprinkle on mini-chocolate chips. 

Starting at one end, roll the crepe into a log shape so that the cream filling is the center of the log.

Next, add more whip cream to the top and drizzle on chocolate syrup.

This is by far one of the easiest and most delicious deserts I have ever made.  It happens so fast.  If you have all your ingredients prepped, you can have a ready to eat crepe in barely over two minutes! 

Talk about fast food!

My kids loved these delicious crepes.  They pleaded for me to make these again.  This will definitely have a prominent place on our menu!  I can’t thank Annelies enough for introducing me to the idea that I could make this yummy desert for my family.  Isn’t that all we need sometimes, just a little encouragement? 

To keep these as nourishing as possible, I used a healthy pancake recipe I have posted here.

I thinned the recipe with a little extra milk before cooking.

You can keep the toppings very healthy too.  Use toppings such as whip cream, chocolate sauce, and mini-chocolate chips that I have posted today, or use a combination with fresh fruits, ice creams, puddings, and so on.

The toppings I used: 

Buy a pre-made chocolate sauce that does not have preservatives or artificial food coloring.  Or you can make your own chocolate sauce from water, cocoa powder, and evaporated cane juice.  Just heat your mixture until the cocoa has dissolved well and it is the constancy you like, thinner or thick.    Let it cool and keep in the refrigerator for making deserts or for making chocolate milk.  Yum!     I learned to make this wonderful chocolate sauce from Amish friends in Indiana.  I keep it in a quart canning jar and it keeps nicely in the refrigerator.  You can also can it and give as gifts too.
Use real whip cream, not the fake stuff!  You can buy real whip cream in the can in the refrigerator section of the store, or you can make it yourself with just fresh cream, a little natural sugar (evaporated cane juice) to sweeten, and a fast mixer or whisk.   Mix it until whip cream forms, but stop before it becomes butter.  If made homemade, you will want to use it all right away, as it looses its volume if kept in the refrigerator.  You can purchase a special stainless steel spray can from quality cooking/chef stores to put your cream in and spray it as needed too.  Another tool for making fresh whip cream is the mini Magic Bullet mixer sold on TV.  In about 30 seconds it whips a 1/2 cup of fresh cream into whipped cream.  A friend told me she loves her Magic Bullet and makes great foods for her kids with it everyday.  It comes with four small cups to blend in and she made fresh individual smoothies everyday.  Maybe one day soon I can invest in one of these.

Hopefully I can convince Annelies to share her family secret crepe recipe here, and maybe some other yummy Belgium treats too.  I’ll keep you posted!

What is your favorite crepe recipe? Leave us a comment, thank you.

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Saturday Brunch and Nourishing Pancakes

I cooked up a yummy brunch on Saturday, and I just had to share!

On Saturday, we spent the day resting at home.  No one was sick either, we just rested.  Dad slept in.  Then later took a nap too.  Wow a day of true rest.  That does not happen around here very often.  Though we are told in the scriptures to work six days and rest on the seventh.    Weekends are always full of fun outings with dad, grocery shopping, house and yard work, church, picking up raw milk and other produce at farms, and nursing home visits.  Whew!  Our weekends are always a whirlwind! 

But Saturday we rested.  It was especially nice. 

For lunch (brunch) we were all satisfied after eating this super yummy meal.

On The Menu

Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Maple Syrup
Fried Potatoes
Fried Eggs
Fruit Salad
Tea, Southern Style “sweet”
Raw Milk

for the next 45 minutes, your stove and you are going to be really busy!  But with sweet rewards!!!

Start the tea in a pan of almost boiling water.   Let your tea bags sit for 5 to 7 minutes or so in the hot water.  We like a blend of Lipton and Tetley tea bags.   I make it a little strong.  By the time we pour it over a tall glass of ice, it is the perfect consistency, not to weak and not to strong.  Sweeten to taste.  My husband likes it unsweetened on ice.   I use sucanat sugar to sweeten tea.  We also served raw milk as an option to drink.

Next make the bacon.  Cook up your bacon according to package directions.  When the bacon is done, remove to a plate with paper towels to absorb any excess fat.    We used Applegate Farms bacon with no preservatives and no nitrites and no nitrates!  Yum.   

After removing bacon from the pan, add in about 1/4 cup additional oil to the pan drippings.  I used expeller pressed grape seed oil.  This oil is perfect for frying.  And no free radicals that you get from frying with other oils (corn, soybean, canola, “vegetable blends”, peanut, crysco, and olive oils).   Other good oils for frying are expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, and ghee. 

Bring up the temperature of the pan to at least medium, and then add in the pealed and diced potato fries.   I used 4 medium potatoes for this skillet full.  It takes two skillets for my family of 7 people.  Cover and cook on medium heat.  Cook covered for about 10 minutes to 15 minutes.  This helps to cook the inside of the potato before the outside browns.  Then remove the cover and cook for another 20 minutes or so uncovered, until nicely golden brown.  Stir just a few times during the cooking process to allow each potato to turn and come in contact with the hot oil.

Make up your favorite pancake recipe.  My recipe is posted at the bottom.   I made my batter a little thinner this time, more thinner than usual.   I was hungry for a thinner pancake, and less dough in my mouth.   Lately I haven’t been as pleased with the taste and texture of thick pancakes.   So today I was ready to experiment a little.  I added a little extra milk,  and they turned out perfect!

They spread out a little more in the pan, so I could only cook one at a time in a skillet.  ( I usually cook two or three of the thicker ones at a time in this same pan).   If you have a pancake griddle then you can cook several of these at a time.  To each 1/4 cup of batter I put in the skillet, I added 1 Tbsp of miniature chocolate chips.  When they get little bubbles all over and don’t look so shinny, its time to flip them over and cook the other side.  The first side takes about 2 minutes, and the second side about 45 seconds. 

These turned out just perfect.  All the kids loved them!

The fruit salad was actually leftover from the night before.  We had company, and my ten year old son made this wonderful fruit salad to share with our guests.  It was absolutely delicious!  It contained red grapes, green grapes, strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, apples, and a mixture of vanilla yogurt and honey.    If you would like to see how we make fruit salads, check out our recipe posted here.

Finally, I fried the eggs in a teaspoon of butter, at the very last, just before serving the table.  That way they were nice and hot!  While they cooked I seasoned them with sea salt and pepper.  I love to cook my eggs with the white all cooked and the yolk thick and slightly runny but not cooked solid.  This is perfect.  The yolk just barely gets onto my pancake and tastes delicious.  This is how I cooked eggs for all my children since they were six months old.   By allowing the yolk to remain slightly runny, it preserves most of the nutrients and enzymes in the egg.  If you would like to know more about why this is such a great way to eat eggs, please read on at the Weston A Price Foundation.   Here is a link to a whole list of articles from their website to learn more about eating wonderful eggs.

I realize that some eggs can contain salmonella, and this can be a dangerous bacteria and cause severe symptoms for some folks, especially those with compromised immune symptoms.  But I am cooking these eggs, just not too long.   Salmonella in eggs is rare.  Most problems with salmonella and eggs come from large chicken factories.  The risk of exposure for my family is extremely small.   I buy most of our eggs fresh from a local chicken farmer.  We used to raise our own eggs and I was a firm believer in using our egg yolks raw in many recipes such as smoothies, egg nog, ice cream, and yummy raw cookie dough.   Since
I no lon
ger raise my own eggs, I seldom use them raw.   I truly miss that!  But I do love these runny yolk fried eggs!

If you would like to know more about raising healthy chickens, including a chicken feed recipe, and eating healthy eggs check out this article:

Nourishing Yummy Pancakes

2 cups natural white flour (organic or certified chemical free)
2 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
2 Tbs natural sugar  (evaporated cane juice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 fresh eggs
2 cups raw whole milk  or butter milk, (both yield a delicious pancake)
2 Tbs of safflower oil (expeller pressed)
Optional (add extras such as mini chocolate chips, or fruit of choice before cooking) 

Cook about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.

This is my favorite pancake recipe.   I usually make it a day ahead and put it in a quart jar in the refrigerator overnight.  Then its ready to go for breakfast or brunch the next day.  Thin with milk or water if needed before cooking on hot griddle.    But it works great even if you don’t have time to let it sit overnight too.  We love to add mini-chocolate chips, or bananas, chopped apples, or blueberries to these yummy treats.  My husband especially likes chopped up bananas in his pancakes, the way his grandma made them, and this was one of the first things I learned to make for him over 20 years ago.

Hope you had a great Saturday!

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Raw Milk Is Real Milk

                         My Favorite Drink:
                        FRESH RAW MILK  


M and M Dairy has wonderful milk from Holstein cows that graze on over 100 acres of beautiful grassland. 

I have personally looked over their farm, interviewed the owners, and wrote a story about them and their animals.  You can read that story here.  

This table is a direct quote from their website:

Comparison of Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized/Homogenized Milk

Raw Milk



All  available to your body

<10% remain.  Necessary to help digest food


100% present (all 22 amino acids)

Severely altered, much less available to your body


All 500 saturated & unsaturated Fats available.  (Fatty acids are the source of all flavor & all fat-soluble vitamins.  Fatty acids are essential for every body cell to function.)

Homogenization breaks up the fat particles and makes them more damaging to the arteries and heart.


100% available:  Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, sulphur.  Also: trace minerals!

Calcium is altered, leaving only 50% or less absorbed by the body.  Other minerals are less available, as well.  Also, enzymes are lost that serve as catalysts for the assimilation of minerals into your body.


All fat and water-soluble vitamins are 100% available to your body.

Up to 66% loss of Vitamins A, D, & E.  Loss of Vitamin C > 50%.  All water-soluble vitamins are lost at 38-80%.  Vitamins B-6 & B-12 are virtually destroyed!


The lactose in raw milk is slowly and safely absorbed.  Many lactose-intolerant people can safely drink raw milk.

The Lactose is more rapidly absorbed, possibly leading to various health problems.  The easy and fast absorption of lactose is also believed by many doctors to cause lactose sensitivity and intolerance in many people.


95% of the bacteria in raw milk is good for you.  This good bacteria also retards the growth of any possible bad bacteria in the milk.  Raw milk will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Even sour raw milk us usually safe!

No good bacteria remain to retard the growth of the bad bacteria.  Therefore, the only bacteria that grows back is pathogenic.  Sour pasteurized milk is always dangerous!

This milk is wonderful.   Natural, Raw, Delicious, Very impressive! 

The watered down over cooked stuff you buy in the grocery store, just doesn’t come anywhere close to the quality and nutrition of fresh raw milk. 

You can see pictures of their farm, find directions, and read about their milk
on the M and M Dairy website.

Another star producer in the RAW MILK industry…..

Milky Way Farm has wonderful fresh raw milk from Jersey cows.  Ohhhhhh.  So delicious.

Their website states
“On average, Jersey milk also contains:
20% more protein
20% more calcium
25% more butterfat than most other milks”

Yeah, thats the way I like it, creamy and full flavored. 

Literally 1/4 of the gallon is full of cream compared to about 1/6 on the gallon from the holstein cows.  You can dip it off and make it into butter or whip cream if you want to.  But we just shake and pour. 

My children love it!

Here is a quote from the Milky Way Farm website 

“Raw milk in its natural, unaltered state is taken straight from the cow. That means the milk is not pasteurized or homogenized (to blend the milk and fat), and is minimally processed (usually just filtered and bottled with no additives). Milky Way raw milk is chilled to 40 degrees or below within seconds of leaving the cow, allowing no time for bacteria to multiply. When kept in your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below, this milk will last for three to four weeks – although you’ll probably drink it long before that! “

                        We sure drink it up!!!

Both of these brands of raw milk have stayed fresh at least two weeks in my refrigerator.  We drink it all by then, so I can’t say if it keeps longer or not.   We travel once every two weeks to pick up a new supply.  It takes several gallons a week to support our large family.  We use up our two week supply, and then head on over to the farms for another fresh supply.

           I love both of these brands of raw milk !

What can you do with raw milk?

Drink It

Or, make it into fresh nourishing products such as:

Whip Cream
Butter Milk
    This is a wonderful drink and has many healing properties.
    This promotes a healthy digestive system with good bacteria.
Yogurt Cheese
Cream Cheese
    You know the expensive kind you buy at the store?  Thats right.  Easy peasy right in your own kitchen!
    Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Feta, Mozzarella, and a hundred more.
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Pima Cream
Cream Fresh
Cream Pie
Warm milk at bedtime
    Yeah, you got it.  It makes you sleep like a baby.  
    I barely warm the raw milk and add a little raw honey to taste. 
Hot Chocolate
    My kids can’t get enough of this delicious treat.  See how we make it with kids in the kitchen here.
Mocha Latte
    A daily routine.  I will post my recipe here.
     Ok, I admit this is my favorite food.  EVER!  I will post my favorite nourishing ice cream recipe here.
     It is so simple to make.  Only 3 ingredients unless you want to add more.
     I just love nourishing potato soup made with raw milk.  See my recipe here.
Mashed potatoes
Scalloped potatoes
Bread recipes
    Check out my wonderful Breakfast Rolls with Kefir Frosting.  
    The kids will beg for more!  See my recipehere.

Both of these milks can be purchased affordably at  $4.50 a gallon.  You can buy it straight from the cooler on the farm, or buy them from several markets in South Carolina.

In the scriptures God told the Israelites that he was giving them a land flowing with “milk and honey.”  This is a good and perfect gift created by God and given to man.  

In its natural state, milk is a perfect, healthy, life giving food.  Man has messed it up with small confinement of animals, large herds without enough room, grain feeding, pipelines and processing, bacteria, contamination, heating, destroying, re-adding, re-mixing, homogenizing, warehousing, packaging, storing, shipping…….it was never meant to be this complicated….it was never meant to be this way….milk was a good and perfect gift to man.

Want to find a good source of fresh raw milk near where you live?

Try these sources:

Local Harvest    
Click on the link and enter the local area you are searching for raw milk.

Real Milk       
Click on your state or a state nearby to find raw milk products.

Answers to questions:  What Is Real Milk?

Further Reading

The Benefits Of Drinking Raw Milk

Another great resource of information is the Weston A Price Foundation and their wonderful cookbook Nourishing Traditions.

Disclaimer:  Consult your physician before making any changes in your diet and life style. If you have a health condition that suppresses your immune system, talk with your doctor before using any raw food. 

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Field Trip To Cochran Dairy

A visit to a family farm.

We went with the Henderson County, NC Barnyard Bandits 4 H Club on a field trip to Cochran Dairy today.

We met up with the club at 7:00 am.  The kids boarded a bus, and we followed in our van with our two youngest kids in tow.  The three older boys were so excited to be on the bus with the club, and headed to a working farm.  It has been three years since we left our farming lifestyle in Indiana, and we have missed it so much.

It was about an hours drive.  Thankfully, my husband enjoys driving in various situations.  I am the opposite.  I do not like driving through the mountains.  I am much better suited to either drive on flat straight roads (was raised in Kansas where every road was on a flat and straight square mile), or be the passenger, and assist the children with their needs, rather than be behind the wheel on the curvy and steep mountain roads.  Some of these roads are fine, but quickly some change hundreds to thousands of feet in elevation too quickly.  I get sick on a roller coaster, and some of these twists and turns and ups and downs in a vehicle feel a lot like it.

The farm we are visiting is situated in a narrow cove in the mountains.

When we arrived, all the children were excited as they unloaded from the bus.  The Cochran family was waiting there in front of the milk barn to greet us. 

This is a three generation family farm. Bill and Pat Cochran own the farm.  Their son, Sam and his wife Brenda and their two sons, Samuel and Riley, help run the farm. 

This is one terrific farming family!

The first room you enter is the milk room where the raw milk is stored after it comes from the cows.   This is grandson, Riley, standing at the cleaning sink.

Here, Sam explains the cleaning solution he mixes up to clean the milking pipelines. 
See the pipes above his head in the picture?  These suck up the cleaning solution and carry it into a maze of pipes into another room where the milking takes place.

Here is Bill, talking about his bulk tank.  This is what holds the raw milk after it comes through the pipelines.  Bill milks 50 cows, Holsteins and Holstein Guernsey crosses, two times a day.  The cows are milked every twelve hours. 

The 50 cows he milks, produce 2,400 lbs of milk a day and it is stored in this big stainless steal bulk tank.  This tank is like a large refrigerator.  It is cold inside.  There is a motor on top of the tank that spins a paddle inside the tank to stir the milk .  This helps the warm milk to chill faster as it comes into the tank.  To be Grade A milk, it must chill to 36 degrees within a half hour of leaving the cow.  Later, the milk is piped from the bulk tank to a big truck from MilkCo. one time a day, and is transported to a factory that homogenizes, pasteurizes, and bottles it.  Bill belongs to a milk coop called the Virginia Maryland Coop.

Next, Bill took us into the milking room.  Here he milks 8 cows at a time.  Each cow goes into their own stall that holds a feed pan which is near the wall.  Their tail end is flush with a corner of the orange railing and another railing panel, so their rear end is facing the farmer at an angle.  

Bill stands down in this walkway and cleans the cows udder and hooks the milking claws up to each teat.  You can see one of the milking claws and the attached tubing and pipelines behind the farmer’s head in this picture.  

After each milking, morning and night, the entire room and the claws and pipelines are completely cleaned and prepared for the next time.   This would be a tough job for Bill to do alone.  Thankfully, his family all works together to make this process run smoothly.

Bill is explaining how it works to our 4 H leader, Dr. Beverly.  Dr. Beverly is also a veterinarian and loves farms!  Family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate.  That is why she is heading up this Henderson County NC 4 H club, to teach the younger generation how wonderful farming can be.  I just want to say, thank you Dr. Beverly and the Cochran Family!  I wish there were more people like you!  Our family truly benefitted from all you did to bring us to visit this family farm.

Pat, Bill’s wife, took time to teach each child about how the machines milk the cow.  Here she is having each child put their fingers into the inflation cups of the milking claw so the kids can feel the pulsations and suction and understand how this helps extract the milk from the cows udder. 

A cow has one udder with four teats, and each claw has four inflation cups.  Each inflation on the claw attaches to each teat on the udder.  The claw helps to hold all four of the inflation cups together, and coordinates the piping for air and milk together in one bundle.

Pat is absolutely the sweetest lady I have met in a long, long time.  She is gentle with the kids and listens to each person old or young.  Each person is unique to her and they all have value.  She was great to talk to.  She is passionate about teaching the next generation in a very hands on way.

At the Cochran Dairy, the whole process is automated.  The milking pressure of the claw is regulated by the amount of air pressure and speed of pulsing sent through the line. Th
e farmer controls this process from a computerized control panel.  But the whole process still requires human monitoring and making adjustments if needed.

The Holstein is the largest dairy cow and produces the most quantity of milk of the dairy breeds.  Holstein milk is largely used in bottled milk as it has a lower cream content compared to other dairy breeds.  For example, Jersey cows have a large amount of cream in their milk.  Jersey milk is more “old fashioned” in our modern society, and it is often used for making butter and cheese or blended with Holstein milk for bottling.   Our country has basically done away with drinking whole fresh milk in its natural form.  Machinery alters it now to pasteurize it and homogenize it.  So the Holstein cow is more ideal for use in making bottled pasteurized and homogenized milk. 

There are many large factory farms that milk 500 to 1000 Holsteins a day.  I now of several that are totally automated and they basically have a factory of cows being moved around a great big building and milked three times a day by an automated robot.  NO KIDDING!   The whole process is totally scientific and totally in humane!   But Holstein cows are a little more of a challenge for family farms to raise.  They eat a whole lot more than the smaller breeds.  They are more reared for grain feed and less hay as they convert their diet into milk, where the more “old fashioned” breeds do a much better job of eating grass and hay and converting that diet into a higher quality, but lower in quantity, milk. 

For several reasons, Holsteins are more expensive to raise than other dairy breeds.  First is because of this larger feed need.  Also, because they are on a higher grain diet to produce more milk, they have to be culled sooner. So you have to buy or raise a new generation of milkers sooner. Grain burns up a cows stomach ( actually a system of 4 fermenting chambers or 4 stomachs).   If you ferment grass you get a special mix.  But if you ferment grain, you get a whole different mix and a lot more gas.  Cows are herbivores.  They are meant to eat grass, not a diet of grain.   So grains cause lots of digestive problems for cows.  Most farms get about 4 to 6 milking years from a Holstein and 12 to 14 milking years from an old fashioned cow such as a Jersey.   Holsteins also have more problems with giving birth, besides twisted and bloated stomaches, and require a lot more veterinarian intervention.  In my experience, Holsteins have a lot more vaginal issues, cesarean, etc (yeah that is right, a cow getting cesarian is common on a Holstein Dairy farm, because they birth larger calves.  They don’t have the physical stamina partly due to typically having less time spent in the pasture getting exercise and eating fresh grass.  So that definitely raises the bills to care for them.  But Holsteins are more desired for making bottled milk, so dairy’s are encouraged (financially) to raise them.  A farmer raising milk for bottling is paid on the 100 wt. of the milk.  So more volume equals more pay.  And the government offers special bonuses for the dairies.  A farmer raising milk for cheese or butter is also paid for the level of the cream they achieve such as 3% or 4%  in the volume of milk.  So with Jerseys, the farmer has less to sell per cow, but has higher cream and is paid for those features.  

Our modern society has made milk is so complicated !!!!

If you would like to learn more about raising cows for milk production, and the risks and benefits to the animals as well as to the farmers, I suggest reading articles from the Weston A Price Foundation and the Real Milk CampaignBoth of these groups are doing an amazing job to encourage the consumption of healthy milk, healthy meats, and promote the lifestyle of the family farm, and the freedom and benefits of raising local food.

Here is where the cows come in from the pasture and wait to be milked. 

The cows enter the milking parlor single file.  They walk to a feed pan, and are ready to get milking.

The next step is to dip the teats of the cow’s udder with a teat dip.  This dip was blue, and Sam said it feels like vaseline.  It has antibacterial properties to kill germs that could be on the teats if the cow happened to sit down in manure or a dirty place or was pooped on by another cow.  This dip helps kill microorganisms that could contaminate the milk.  After dipping the teat, it then gets wiped off with a paper towel.

Next, Sam let each of the children and adults milk a cow by hand.  He showed the children the proper way to place their hand and how to move their fingers to extract the milk.  Milking by hand is not done anymore.  But this is how the cows were milked many years ago, before the dairy had automated milking machines.

My son, age six, getting a lesson from Sam on how to hold the teats.

The four teats, or nipples, on a cows udder.

Here Sam is showing the children how to move their grip down the teat to extract the milk.

There were more lessons and opportunities for each person to practice. 

Bill explained that a cow who has just freshened (had a calf) gives a lot more milk than a cow who freshened several month ago.  These cows have a calf once a year.  The calves are removed as soon as they are born, and raised by hand, so the dairy can keep the milk and sell it for human consumption.

Bill raises his own hay for the cows on a 200 acre farm he owns in Tennessee, about 1 hour away.  Bill explained that because of the mountain terrain, and lots of housing that has reduced available farm ground, North Carolina farms in the mountains have a difficult time raising hay for their animals. 

The ground in this region doesn’t have a lot of topsoil and most of what isn’t covered in housing is rolling, forested, or in a flood plain.  Many in the farmers in the mountains raise tree crops, berries, grapes, or sesonal produce such as tomatoes and peppers in the lower flood plain areas.  Rasing livestock and grains to feed them, presents a much different challenge here, and so hay and grain are not raised as much.  Though animals such as cows, horses, and goats climb the hills just fine, it is life threatening to try and do it with a tractor or large farm equipment.  Erosion is another big factor.  Serious terracing would have to be done to use some of the rolling ground, and it is very cost prohibitive.

It costs a lot to buy hay at retail.  Talk to any horse farmer here and they’ll tell you the costs of feed that you wouldn’t believe.  As a matter of fact.  When we lived in Indiana, many of our farming friends would raise hay just to sell to the farmers, especially horse farmers, down here.  So many of the livestock farmers who make a full time living farming here, own or rent farm ground in other states to raise hay, grass, or additional animals, and help with the costs of being a farmer. 

Though this farm family loves the mountains, and they can’t imagine any other life, it is a difficult place to try and farm here.  Most people give up, as it is too costly to do and make a living at it.  For some farmers who want to keep the lifestyle, it becomes an expensive hobby rather than a way to make a living, as you end up spending more than you make at it.  Our bus driver shared a lot of personal stories in regards to the current state of family farms here.

Farmers are paid very little for what they do.  And the expenses that go into producing food at a commercial level are huge.  Not considering the costs of equipment to run a farm, barns, and all that goes into them, livestock, feed and the up keep, the ground itself is cost prohibitive. 

Good fertile ground in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky can be bought for 2,500 to 3,500 and acre. Many times you can get a house, fenced pasture, and barns at no additional cost with the purchase of at least 100 acres to 200 acres.   Currently, ground that would be good farm ground in the Henderson County, NC and surrounding areas, goes for 22,000 to 100,000 per acre, and no working farm house or barns. This is due to a huge demand for housing and development.  Just an hour or so south down the mountain, you can get farm ground for 10,000 to 15,000 an acre, still expensive from a farming standpoint, and in many ways it is still far less productive for making alfalfa hay and growing grains.  There farm ground in SC that produces grass hay, but it is minimal in comparison, due to lower rain fall levels.  It is good for pasture, and some produce, cotton, and rice the further the south you go.  

Most of the farmers in this area received their ground from family, the previous generation, either parents or grandparents, as the younger generation can not afford to buy it and make a living on it. 

A farmer can make a lot more by selling off his ground for housing and development than he can by farming it.  With these issues and all the considerations mentioned, it is no wonder the family farms here and through out much of the country have nearly disappeared!  With these presures, this is a much more difficult lifestyle to keep any way you look at it.

Well,  we are off to the next family farm to see sheep, goats, and a livestock sale.  Then we will head back to the Cochran Family Farm to for a wonderful lunch and to see their pig operation.  They typically raise 200 pigs at a time. 

We left our vehicle and loaded the bus with all the kids and headed back down the cove.  So glad we had a good bus driver who is a great mountain driver.  I wasn’t nervous one bit.  Ok, maybe a little bit.   But seriously he was a great driver and volunteered his time to drive around this 4 H club of kids.  He drives a dump truck and has also been a farmer for his whole life in Ettowah, NC.   A great fella, and I sincerely want to thank him for his time driving around the mountains with this group of kids, and sharing his farm stories with me. 

Well if you want to see the next part of our field trip adventure, you will have to read about it here(I’ll post the link as soon as I get it published)

And if you don’t, well then just stop and take a minute to think about a few things…

Farming is physically demanding.  It requires physical stamina.    Grain and produce farming is more seasonal.  Livestock farming is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week responsibility.  Bill and Pat Cochran never get a break.   Farming is high pressure responsibilities, for little pay.  

Yet, despite the difficulties farmers face, farming is highly rewarding in many other ways.  For example, you live where you work, so you don’t waist a lot of time commuting to a job.  You don’t have to work in nice clothes, so it saves on the clothing budget.  You get to raise your own food and food for others.  It is also great to be together as a family, and dad and mom don’t have to leave to go to a different job. (Though many farmers do get part time work off the farm to bring in extra income above what the farm produces.  Also many do this to get health insurance benefits as it is too costly to buy health insurance as an individual.)  But being close to home is one of the best benefits, and it has helped farmers raise strong family units.  You get to be your own boss and there is a lot of freedom in that.  You get to be outside a lot, you become very connected to the earth, animals, crops, and the weather patterns because your work depends on it.  You learn about insects, and soils, and nutrients.  You may learn about natural remedies, or you may take the mainstream approach and learn about commercial herbicides and pesticides.   There is a variety of things to do so you never get bored ( though a job like milking that requires the same routine and milking every 12 hours can get tedious or the feeling of never getting a break (vacation), as I know from experience, but the rest of it has great variety each day).  There are many more benefits, but that is enough to mention for now.

Farming is a lifestyle.  It is not a job sperate from your lifestyle.   

I know 4H make a difference in the future, as it exposes kids to so many hands on opportunities.  I believe we need these hands
on experiences to raise resourceful, strong people, and leaders for the future of our country.  Real life is not a virtual life, spent in front of a computer, a video game, or TV.  Those skills are important as we live in a modernized world and nearly every job or aspect of society utilizes technology in some way.  But it doesn’t produce people who are well grounded, and dedicated, and able to handle personal conflicts, or life challenges that arise.  Without hands on experience, there is a piece of a healthy life and balance left out.

I definitely believe that every kid should have the opportunity to help raise a garden.  Learning how to produce food is a valuable skill everyone needs.  In many foreign countries, if you don’t produce food, you would starve.  Up until the 1950’s everyone in our own country could raise a garden, except for some of the poorest people in the slums.  Why have we forgotten what an important skill this is?  Why do we only rely on a grocery store or a restaurant to acquire our foods.  A combination of laws and technology have basically forced the local food grower to almost disappear.  Yet if you look close enough, you can still find them.  Local Harvest and your town’s local farmer’s market is a good place to start your search.

I also wish that every kid, say anytime around age 10-12 upto 18 could unplug from computers, TV, and cell phones and could go with their family, and spend a year or even just a summer on the farm.  I really believe it would affect society in a positive way.  It would impact how we as a society value life, resources, and our priorities, if all young people had the chance to live the hands on lifestyle for a time.  Yes I have seen both sides.  I have seen the difference.  What an awesome summer camp, or year, of real hands on schooling this could be!!!  

So Mr. President, and any other organizations who might want to help, if you are listening and truly want to impact the future, please consider such a suggestion.  Give families with youth an income for a summer, or for one year to support their labor on a family farm educating the future generation in responsibility, being resourceful, strengthening the family unit, caring for the land, and growing local food for the food consumption needs of more than just their own family, but larger society. 

A one year full scholarship to the school of “HANDS ON FAMILY FARM” to build better families and better citizens.  What a dream!

We would likely see a revival of family farming as a way of life.

(Don’t forget to read the next article about this amazing field trip, we are only half way through. There are lots of adorable pictures with kids and baby animals…stay tuned….)

What do you do to expose your kids to the issues surrounding farming and food production?  Leave us a comment and let us know.  Thank you.

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Grass Fed Steak

How To Cook Grass Fed Steak

Have you heard the term “Grass Fed”?

What this means is that the animal was allowed to graze on pasture grass and fed hay for its entire life, not fed grains.

My cows out on pasture:

Why choose Grass Fed?

Grass fed animals have higher nutrition in their milk and muscles called Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA.  They also have higher counts of other important nutrients.  CLA is an important nutrient for humans including muscle growth, weight control, and disease prevention.

However, the CLA basically disappears when the animal is fed even a pound of grain.  Also grain feeding increases the diseases in cattle, and the bacteria counts in their feces.   When bacteria counts go up in their feces, human illness increases too, because the potential rises for increased contamination.  When tested, dairy cattle fed a grain diet have huge increases in bacterial counts in many of the safety tests, compared to grass fed dairy animals.

Weston A Price Foundation  has a lot of helpful information about CLA and the human body.  Here are some articles to help you learn why this nutrient is so important.   CLA ARTICLES 

Grain feeding animals adds a lot of internal fat into the muscles.  Grass fed animals naturally have a leaner muscle. Here are several great articles to help you learn more benefits of grass feeding.  GRASS FED ARTICLES   

If you would like to read more about how to raise animals on grass, I would encourage you to read the books by Joel Salatin from
POLY FACE FARMS .  He leads the way in the grass fed and local food movement and teaches these principals around the world.  His books were key in my learning to farm in a healthy nutrient dense way, instead of the typical farming practices done today that rob nutrients from the earth and the product.

Many farmers are switching to this healthy alternative to raising beef cattle.  Some will sell their meat straight from the farm.  That is what we did for a number of years.  Custom packaged for our customers.  It is great to get to know your local farmer and how your food is produced. 

Some healthy grocery stores will carry local grass fed beef too.  If you need further info on locating grass fed meat in your area, try 
Eat Wild  and Local Harvest to find sources. 

How To Prepare the Meat:

For cuts of meat such as roasts, brisket, stew meats, sirloin tips, flank, it is better to cook these cuts at a lower temperature, rather than at a higher temperature.   You will get a more tender product at a lower temperature.

The ground meat will work the same as any ground meat, only much leaner and higher in nutrition.

Many cuts of steak are valued for their tenderness.  Listed in order below, are my most favorite steaks to prepare, based on tenderness for pan frying.   Those at the bottom are slightly less tender than those at the top.   But even the least tender cuts still can be made to taste delicious with the right preparation.

New York Strip

In this example, I used locally raised Grass Fed New York Strip.

Open your package of steak, drizzle with oil, then rub on sea salt and pepper.   Be sure to use an oil that is safe for cooking at higher temperatures.  For example, olive oil is a poor choice for cooking foods at temperatures above 240 degrees.  Olive oil actually burns and produces a smoke.  This process creates free radicals in the human body and is best to avoid to maintain good health.    I prefer to use grapeseed oil, or safflower oil when cooking in the skillet.  Other good choices would be coconut oil, or ghee.  I also prefer celtic sea salt over other salt choices.

Place steak in a hot pan.  Allow to cook at medium heat for 3 minutes for a thinner steak, and  4 minutes for a thicker steak.  I personally love my steaks at about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches thick.  This way, I am sure not to overcook them as we enjoy them medium rare.

Turn steak over.  It should have a nice crust just on the outer layer.  Cook an additional three or four minutes on this other side.

You want to take special care not to over cook it. 

You are basically going to sear a crust on the outside and then let residual heat cook the inside.

Remove steaks from heat and place on a plate.  Cover with foil and allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes.  This allows the steak muscle to relax and the juices to evenly distribute. 

Pan Fried Home Fries:

Now, I love the juice that comes off these steaks.  It is great for making gravy or to dip bread in.  I love using the pa
n again with the drippings for frying some home fries to serve with these delicious steaks.   If I don’t have the time to wait, I will cook these fries in the oven on a cookie sheet while I am making the steak.  But they taste even more delicious cooked in the pan drippings.  I also like to use the oven method if I am making a thicker fry, as it would take way to long in the skillet.

How To Make Home Fries:

Wash, peel, and slice your potatoes.  You can slice in circles, half circles, or dice them, however you like.
Add 1/4 cup grapeseed oil to the pan.  Place over medium heat.  Cover with a lid.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove lid, turn potatoes over.  Cover with lid again and cook another 15 minutes.  Remove lid.  Cook another 10 minutes turning potatoes as needed to get an even crust.  Remove from pan to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb any extra oil.  Season with sea salt.

I have two styles to serve these.  Just done, and extra crispy.  Some in the family like them really crunchy so I serve them both ways.

Here is the less crunchy:

Here is the more crunchy:

Serve this dinner up with a yummy salad and you have a great kid pleasing, and grown-up pleasing dinner.


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