Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink that was traditionally the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cultured cream. Today, most modern buttermilk is cultured. Cultured buttermilk was first commercially introduced in the US in the 1920s. Commercially produced buttermilk is milk that has been pasteurized, homogenized, and then inoculated with a culture of Lactococcus lactis to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria in the old-fashioned buttermilk. The tartness of cultured buttermilk is primarily due to lactic acid produced by lactic acid bacteria while fermenting lactose, the primary sugar in milk.
Condensed buttermilk and dried buttermilk are very important in the food industry. Liquid buttermilk is used primarily in the commercial preparation of baked goods and cheese. Buttermilk solids are used in ice cream manufacturing as well as being added to pancake mixes to make buttermilk pancakes.
Buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and powder to give quick breads their rise and tender crumb. The reaction is best at the beginning, you’ll want to get the loaf in the oven right after mixing the wet and dry ingredients. Buttermilk can also be used in marinating meats, especially chicken and pork, because the lactic acid helps to tenderize, retain moisture, and allows added flavors to permeate the meats.
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. Most supermarkets are laid out the same way. Processed food products dominate the center aisles of the store, while the cases of mostly fresh food (produce, meat, fish, dairy) line the walls, Keep to the edges of the store and you’ll be much more likely to wind up with real food in your shopping cart. This strategy is not foolproof, however, since things like high-fructose corn syrup have crept into the dairy case under the cover of flavored yogurts and the like.
If you want to lower your risk of heart disease and lose weight, without feeling deprived, the Mediterranean diet just might be the plan for you. The Mediterranean diet is known for being one of the healthiest eating patterns and one of the easiest plans to follow. In fact, research has shown that it can lower bad cholesterol, lower risk for certain types of cancer, and even improve brain health. The Mediterranean diet doesn’t call for eliminating entire food groups, but encourages smart choices from each.
Many of the grains you will find available in the Mediterranean diet, like barley and buckwheat, are whole grains, which have so many health benefits. Whole grains are not only packed with heart-healthy vitamins and antioxidants, they also contain fiber. Fiber is good for digestive health and heart health, as it can help lower LDL cholesterol (the type of cholesterol that causes heart disease). The Mediterranean diet also encourages enjoying whole-grain breads with olive oil instead of butter because of the heart-health benefits.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
The diet places an emphasis on consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, onions, bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach are all great examples. Combining vegetables with whole grains, in a pasta salad or couscous for example, is a great way to enjoy both. Fruits such as berries, apples, melons, and figs all make great snack or even dessert options. For breakfast you can easily combine fruits with whole grains for a breakfast muesli or try blueberry pancakes made with buckwheat.
Protein from lean sources such as poultry and seafood are encouraged at least twice a week. However, red meat is supposed to be limited to only a few times per month. Seafood is encouraged because of the heart healthy fats, which are good for brain and heart health. Lean poultry is encouraged because it’s low in saturated fat, but high in protein, which is good for muscle building and satiety. Lemon chicken salad or Tuscan chicken stew would both be great dishes to include on the plan.
Dairy is allowed on the Mediterranean diet, but moderation is key. Instead of fat-free or sugar-free yogurt, switch to plain Greek yogurt, which is lower in sugar, but higher in protein. Low-fat milk and cheeses like feta and brie are also allowed, but moderation is encouraged because of their saturated fat and sodium content. For a simple and healthy weeknight dinner, try combining grilled chicken kabobs with a lemon-dill Greek yogurt dipping sauce.
NUTS & LEGUMES
Nuts, seeds, and legumes are encouraged because they contain heart-healthy fats and fiber. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and sesame seeds can be enjoyed as a snack or sprinkled on vegetables or hot cereals. Legumes, such as split peas and red lentils, are great in soups, stews or on top of salads. Try making hummus at home by using chickpeas, olive oil, and lemon juice, then enjoy it with grilled chicken, sliced bell peppers, and whole-wheat pita bread.
Saturated fats like butter are discouraged on the Mediterranean diet, which instead urges heart-healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Heart-healthy fats can actually help raise HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol that our bodies make in order to fight heart disease. To incorporate them, opt for a baked potato with a drizzle of olive oil, or try adding diced avocado to green salads with grilled chicken. If creamy chicken salad is more your pace, serve it with chopped olives.
Instead of using salt to season your dishes, the use of herbs and spices is highly encouraged on the Mediterranean diet. Garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, and basil are all great flavors to add to simply grilled chicken or green salads. Citrus juice from lemons, limes, and oranges can also add flavor that’s perfect for salads and marinades. Try experimenting at home with different seasonings, and find what works for you.
VARIETY & BALANCE
The Mediterranean diet has a lot to offer in terms of variety and health benefits. In additions to focusing on making smart choices, the plan also encourages family meals and making time for physical activity. Lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy are all smart choices that can help you maintain a Mediterranean-style eating pattern. One you and your family can stick to.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved
How To Clarify Butter
Some recipes call for clarified butter. To make it, just melt butter over a medium-low heat until the milk solids separate and rise to the top, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool, then skim off the white foam and discard. Spoon remaining clarified (clear) butter into a bowl; discard the solids left at the bottom of the pan.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved
The Paleo Diet (short for Paleolithic) is fashioned around the eating habits and available foods of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. These ancestors had to nourish themselves with the meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fats available to them in nature. With the benefit of large supermarkets, it’s easy today to mimic these foods in wider variety. Specific recommendations for eating Paleo will vary; however, the main ideas are the same: Reduce the risk of debilitating diseases and optimize health by eating whole, fresh, unprocessed foods and avoid foods that were not available prior to the advent of modern agriculture.
Research studies looking at the Paleo Diet have noted that eating a Paleo Diet for a short term improved the glucose control and lipid profiles in people with type 2 diabetes, compared to eating a diet containing low-fat dairy, moderate salt intake, whole grains, and legumes. Additional research indicates similar results may be possible in people without type 2 diabetes as well. The Paleo diet may result in higher levels of satiety (fullness) throughout the day when compared with a low-fat, low-calorie diet.
Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables and fruits.
Make fresh meat, poultry, fish, and seafood your primary sources calories.
Avoid highly processed meats that contain preservatives, artificial flavors, and sugar, such as some sausages, bacon, deli meats, and smoked fish products.
Consume nuts and seeds.
Use coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, avocado oil, nut and seed oils, and animal fats, such as goose fat or duck fat, for cooking and eating.
Balance the intake of acid-producing foods (meats, fish, salt, and cheese) with base-producing foods (fruits and vegetables) for optimal health.
Use sea salt to season foods, but try to decrease sodium intake in general.
Consume highly processed packaged foods.
Get heavy handed with the salt shaker.
Eat grains of any kinds. Quinoa, bulgur, rice, wheat, bread, pasta, etc., are all out.
Consume sugar (including honey and maple syrup), sweets, candy, or desserts.
Use artificial sweeteners, such as monk fruit extract, stevia, NutraSweet or Equal (aspartame), Splenda (sucralose), or sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, or maltitol.
Eat legumes, beans, peas, lentils, or soy, or foods make from soybeans.
Use canola or soybean oils or consume hydrogenated oils (trans fats).
Consume dairy, with the exception of fermented dairy or raw milk cheese on occasion.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved
Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part V
In her food preparation and preservation, the early American housewife was tied tightly to the calendar and the clock – much more tightly than today’s homemaker is. Local availability of foodstuffs and the limitations of existing food preservation techniques meant that nature largely called the shots on timing. Fruits and vegetables had to be picked at the right moment and processed quickly. Animals had to be slaughtered at their peak to keep best, and the peak varied from animal to animal. Even cheese and butter had a better likelihood of successful preservation depending on the season of the year in which they were processed.
Weather conditions played a major role: herbs had to be picked on a dry day to retain color and flavor; slaughter had to be done in cold weather to allow the carcass to cool rapidly; milk winters produced little ice for the following summer.
Also, once begun, preservation techniques sometimes had to be carried uninterruptedly through a long and tedious series of steps. There was no turning back – or time for vacations. Hams being cured had to be turned regularly, fish being dried had to be restacked four times a day, pickles had to have their brine skimmed and changed – or the product would be lost.
The labor involved in such food preservation was frequently heavy, but the routine of the rest of the house went on as usual. Organizational ability and endurance were essential, and woe betide the housewife who didn’t “keep up appearances” with her neighbors.
Just as the make-up of the early American’s diet varied with his geographic location, so did his needs – and abilities – in food preservation.
For example, the southern areas had access to a more varied food supply over the course of the year and consequently had less need to provide stores for the hard winter. At the same time, it was more difficult and expensive to get ice for short-term protection against the warmer climate. Ice was actually shipped from Massachusetts to the Southern states and to Cuba and Jamaica in the early 19th century, but it was obviously only available to the wealthier residents. The ice-box itself didn’t become popular until the mid 1800’s.
The shorter growing season in the North reduced the variety of produce available, but it also made cold storage in root cellars practical in small towns and rural areas. Above-ground ice houses and ice-saws, invented in the mid-nineteenth century, drastically reduced the cost of storing ice into the summer, and simplified storage of dairy products, fish and meat.
In many respects, the northern colonies had the greatest difficulty in providing a nutritious, varied diet throughout the year. Although fruits, berries, and summer vegetables were plentiful from the midsummer to early fall, proving vitamin-rich foodstuffs, during the winter and spring took special care. Many food items, of course, could be stored in relatively simple root cellars – where winter temperatures hovered between 30 and 40 degrees. In especially cold weather, a large tub of water was placed on the floor. This water gave off heat as it froze, which kept the vegetables safe. Turnips, beets and squash were kept in the driest areas. Carrots would keep anywhere. Cabbages and celery were buried in sand, cauliflower was set in holes and covered with straw, while cranberries were floated in water in a tub. Other crops were arranged loosely on slatted shelves for free air circulation, sometimes lying on straw.
Some vegetables, such as summer squash and potatoes, kept better at somewhat higher temperatures, and these were usually stored in the dark basement of the home. Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees were ideal.
Eggs could also be stored in the root cellar, or in the basement of the house. Two methods were common. In one, the eggs (which the housewife was instructed to collect “in fine weather”) were dipped in boiling water for 20 seconds, then coated all over with butter or “sweet oil” (glycerin) and packed in sawdust. They would keep this way for some two to three weeks. Other housewives kept their eggs in crocks, submerged in “water glass” (sodium silicate). In this technique, it was important not to wash the eggs first, since their shells possess a natural coating which prevented the water glass from penetrating through the shell and ruining the egg. Even stored at room temperature, such eggs would keep for several months, while the hens sulked through the dark winter days.
If a family didn’t have room for a root cellar, it could accomplish somewhat the same effect with a pit, with the vegetables in layers separated by straw, and the whole covered with earth. Obviously, retrieving vegetables thus buried was a messy chore, and needed careful planning.
Under either type of storage, frequent examination was necessary, in order to detect spoilage and eliminate those items of fruit or vegetables which had gone rotten. The proverb about “one rotten apple spoiling the barrel” was not taken lightly! In fact, many housewives wouldn’t put apples in barrels, but spread them out, in order to “pick them over” more easily as the winter progressed. Spoiling apples were cut up, and the good parts made into applesauce as the winter progressed. Early cookbooks instructed the housewife to add a teaspoon of tartaric acid to the apples when making sauce late in the winter, as the apples lost their flavor. New Englanders even had a name for the period after the vegetables had spoiled or been used up, but before the dandelion greens appeared. They called it “the six weeks want.”
In the South, storage of this sort was less necessary, and the typical New England vegetables such as Hubbard squash and turnips were rarely seen on Southern menus.
To Be Continued…