Food and nutrition …
We are in the midst of a heavy rainfall warning, so we had an indoors day. We’ll miss our nature walk, but this gives us more time to work with foods and crafts. We started in on lunch preparation right away.
First we talked about how plants protect their seeds. Naturally occurring chemicals such as phytic acid and lectin keep the seeds safe from predators. Unfortunately these are antinutrients in the human digestive tract, but it’s an easy problem to fix by soaking nuts, seeds or dried beans before we use them.
We taste-tested fresh, raw pecans, and then the soaked and dried pecans, which have a much nicer flavour. Finally, we dry-roasted a trayful for 12 minutes at 290°F. They are delicate and can burn easily so we were careful not to leave them unattended.
Cariana took charge of the salad, peeling and grating carrots for the main ingredient. A couple of sticks of thin-sliced celery added an interesting crunch. She made the dressing directly in the bottom of the salad bowl: 3 tablespoons of organic olive oil, 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar), 1 teaspoon poppyseed, ½ teaspoon mustard seed, and ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger. Whisk together and sweeten with stevia to taste. Then she stirred in the grated carrots and celery. ¼ cup of raisins could be added if everyone enjoys them, but we kept ours separate as an optional garnish. To serve, she mounded the salad on the plate, generously sprinkled each serving with unsweetened, shredded coconut and topped with dry roasted pecans. Delicious.
Spaghetti squash is one of my favourites. Preparation is easy and the result fits the bill for a warm and hearty side dish. Abby chose one from our “root cellar” (garage), washed, split it and scooped out the seeds. She put one half cut-side down on a heatproof plate and microwaved it for 13 minutes. To make the dish fancy, we scooped out the squash into a serving dish where we added olive oil and dried basil from our garden, as well as some fresh ground pepper. Both of the girls loved it.
Barbecued drumsticks (in spite of the rain), and blackberry kombucha completed our lunchtime feast.
More about soaking nuts …
I buy raw nuts and soak them in filtered water for at least 24 hours. Then I drain them, rinse with filtered water, drain again and dehydrate for two days. If they are well dried, they will keep in the fridge for a month or so. However, mold is a concern if any moisture lingers, so small batches quickly used are the best plan. Soaking makes the most remarkable difference with walnuts. The bitterish undertaste is completely gone. Freshly soaked and still wet, they are not only delicious but have a delightfully crisp texture.
Dry-roasted nuts are excellent and so easy to make, but you can also pan-roast pecans in a frying pan with some oil or butter. This is more work because you have to stir them often and not let them burn.
Writing about our crafts has become a little challenging with the approach of Christmas. Secrets, you see. Suffice it to say that Abby’s afternoon produced this lovely negative space as a by-product. Meanwhile, Cariana and I worked on a set of furniture for the dollhouse. She patiently punched out all the interlocking wooden parts and fitted them together like so many puzzles. I sanded any rough edges and glued the finished pieces. Although we were eager to paint them, first the glue has to set and the time is gone for today.