I'd like regular ancestral cooking emails!

I have my own definition of food perfection. That definition includes the words fun, engaging, useful, honest, real and healthy. . These little nuggets are literally just cacao beans. I bought them from a farm in Nicaragua. I roasted, cracked and shelled them. I warmed my marble mortar and pestle and then set my husband Rob’s biceps to work grinding the beans into a paste. On my gosh the house smelt good. . When he’d had enough (after about an hour and a half – he is dedicated as this stuff is good!), I plopped the paste into some chocolate moulds. . Because there is nothing other than cacao beans in these (no extra fat) and because I don’t want to use an expensive machine that pulverises my beans into a smooth paste, my chocolate isn’t as runny. So, as you can see, it’s not, by societal definition, ‘perfect’. . But I don’t care! These little gems taste amazing! I can eat them as is, I can melt them into a porridge or I can mix them with warm milk or water, add some spices and make an ancestral cacao drink. . They tick all my boxes. . If you’re into chocolate (is there anyone who isn’t?), and haven’t yet listened to last week’s @ancestralkitchenpodcast episode ‘The Secret Life of Chocolate’, I would totally recommend it. You’ll learn things you didn’t know about this wonderful food stuff – I promise! Link to stream or download is in my profile. or you can find us in you podcast app by searching for Ancestral Kitchen Podcast.

I have my own definition of food perfection. That definition includes the words fun, engaging, useful, honest, real and healthy.
.
These little nuggets are literally just cacao beans. I bought them from a farm in Nicaragua. I roasted, cracked and shelled them. I warmed my marble mortar and pestle and then set my husband Rob’s biceps to work grinding the beans into a paste. On my gosh the house smelt good.
.
When he’d had enough (after about an hour and a half – he is dedicated as this stuff is good!), I plopped the paste into some chocolate moulds.
.
Because there is nothing other than cacao beans in these (no extra fat) and because I don’t want to use an expensive machine that pulverises my beans into a smooth paste, my chocolate isn’t as runny. So, as you can see, it’s not, by societal definition, ‘perfect’.
.
But I don’t care! These little gems taste amazing! I can eat them as is, I can melt them into a porridge or I can mix them with warm milk or water, add some spices and make an ancestral cacao drink.
.
They tick all my boxes.
.
If you’re into chocolate (is there anyone who isn’t?), and haven’t yet listened to last week’s @ancestralkitchenpodcast episode ‘The Secret Life of Chocolate’, I would totally recommend it. You’ll learn things you didn’t know about this wonderful food stuff – I promise! Link to stream or download is in my profile. or you can find us in you podcast app by searching for Ancestral Kitchen Podcast.

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Spelt pancakes leavened with left-over pineapple sage yeast water topped with yogurt made from local raw goat milk, ground Italian linseed and some artistically ‘thrown’ local olive oil. . Pancakes need not be complicated. My staple mix is simply flour, water and a leavener – here it’s a yeast water, but it’s more often sourdough discard. There are instructions in the recipes section of my profile. And if you need further encouragement there are more pictures in my story today!

Spelt pancakes leavened with left-over pineapple sage yeast water topped with yogurt made from local raw goat milk, ground Italian linseed and some artistically ‘thrown’ local olive oil.
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Pancakes need not be complicated. My staple mix is simply flour, water and a leavener – here it’s a yeast water, but it’s more often sourdough discard. There are instructions in the recipes section of my profile. And if you need further encouragement there are more pictures in my story today!

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I’m working on getting all of my plate to have a face. . And I’m getting closer…here we have slow-cooked goat (so tender that I shredded it like pulled-pork) from Francesca, onions from Irene and courgettes (including a beautiful flower) from Masi and a spent beer-grain rye/spelt bread topped with home-rendered lard made from back fat from Flavio’s pigs. . Everyday I am grateful for those around me who are passionate enough about proper farming to dedicate their lives to it. Thank you @aziendaagricolapodereruggeri, @valledelsasso and #mercatointransizione. . Now I need to find myself a grain-grower….

I’m working on getting all of my plate to have a face.
.
And I’m getting closer…here we have slow-cooked goat (so tender that I shredded it like pulled-pork) from Francesca, onions from Irene and courgettes (including a beautiful flower) from Masi and a spent beer-grain rye/spelt bread topped with home-rendered lard made from back fat from Flavio’s pigs.
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Everyday I am grateful for those around me who are passionate enough about proper farming to dedicate their lives to it. Thank you @aziendaagricolapodereruggeri, @valledelsasso and #mercatointransizione.
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Now I need to find myself a grain-grower….

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All the little holes in this muffin were made from yeasts that came from the pineapple sage plant in my garden. How cool is that?! . Gabriel, my son, mixed the muffins, which are spelt, adding his choice of cocoa powder and strawberries. We used a starter made with the pineapple sage yeast water (there’s a shot a few pics back in my feed) and also added the same yeast water as the liquid component of the dough. . The cocoa powder was un-dutched, it makes so much difference to the taste and nutrient levels (if you’re a chocolate fan, check out my latest podcast). . Thanks to everyone who suggested ideas to help make my muffin crumb softer a while back – this time I used olive oil. It made a huge difference. There’s more mileage here though and I’ll be experimenting again for the next batch. . There are more photos and a little video in my story today.

All the little holes in this muffin were made from yeasts that came from the pineapple sage plant in my garden. How cool is that?!
.
Gabriel, my son, mixed the muffins, which are spelt, adding his choice of cocoa powder and strawberries. We used a starter made with the pineapple sage yeast water (there’s a shot a few pics back in my feed) and also added the same yeast water as the liquid component of the dough.
.
The cocoa powder was un-dutched, it makes so much difference to the taste and nutrient levels (if you’re a chocolate fan, check out my latest podcast).
.
Thanks to everyone who suggested ideas to help make my muffin crumb softer a while back – this time I used olive oil. It made a huge difference. There’s more mileage here though and I’ll be experimenting again for the next batch.
.
There are more photos and a little video in my story today.

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This is a 7-year-old’s view of my sourdough pizza. This one is Italian spelt grain, topped with pesto made from garden basil, local garlic and soaked, roasted walnuts and then decorated with the abundance of small onions I’m getting every week from #mercatointrasizione. . It’s not always easy to keep my 7-year-old, Gabriel, calm while I’m photographing. And considering he’s the dough mixer, he’s getting a bigger claim on our pizzas as time goes on! . This week @elliemarkovich told me about some smoked spelt flour. I really want to find some locally (or build a smoker) so I could try it out in my pizzas and breads. Have you ever tried smoked flours? . (Recipe for the pizza is linked in my profile)

This is a 7-year-old’s view of my sourdough pizza. This one is Italian spelt grain, topped with pesto made from garden basil, local garlic and soaked, roasted walnuts and then decorated with the abundance of small onions I’m getting every week from #mercatointrasizione.
.
It’s not always easy to keep my 7-year-old, Gabriel, calm while I’m photographing. And considering he’s the dough mixer, he’s getting a bigger claim on our pizzas as time goes on!
.
This week @elliemarkovich told me about some smoked spelt flour. I really want to find some locally (or build a smoker) so I could try it out in my pizzas and breads. Have you ever tried smoked flours?
.
(Recipe for the pizza is linked in my profile)

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Chocolate has a secret life. . One where, instead of being formed into industrial bars, women combine it by hand with local herbs to make drinks. One where it is a healer, not a creator of addiction. One where it’s revered – held so sacred that it’s used in ceremony and as currency, not bought for a few pennies, wrapper discarded. One where it’s bitter, potent and intense, not sweet and sickly. And one where nobody feels guilt when they imbibe it. . Today’s podcast is all about that secret life. Andrea and I had a fascinating, insightful, educating and entertaining with conversation with Marcos Patchett @nocturnalherbalist, who’s written a 700-page book on chocolate. A book that I’ve read from cover-to-cover and has completely rocked my world! . Download the episode from your app or stream/download from my site (link in profile) and settle in (perhaps, may I add, with your favourite bean-to-bar by your side :-))

Chocolate has a secret life.
.
One where, instead of being formed into industrial bars, women combine it by hand with local herbs to make drinks. One where it is a healer, not a creator of addiction. One where it’s revered – held so sacred that it’s used in ceremony and as currency, not bought for a few pennies, wrapper discarded. One where it’s bitter, potent and intense, not sweet and sickly. And one where nobody feels guilt when they imbibe it.
.
Today’s podcast is all about that secret life. Andrea and I had a fascinating, insightful, educating and entertaining with conversation with Marcos Patchett @nocturnalherbalist, who’s written a 700-page book on chocolate. A book that I’ve read from cover-to-cover and has completely rocked my world!
.
Download the episode from your app or stream/download from my site (link in profile) and settle in (perhaps, may I add, with your favourite bean-to-bar by your side :-))

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#13 – The Secret Life of Chocolate

Chocolate has a secret life. And learning about it will change your view of this food forever! Join us as we interview Marcos Patchett, author of the 700-page The Secret Life of Chocolate, about the ancestral, medicinal, cultural, psychological and mythological secrets of the cacao bean.… Read More

Raw goat milk whey ice cubes. Andrea @farmandhearth turned me on to freezing whey in cubes. These will stay, conveniently, in my freezer and I’ll take a couple out at a time and use the microbes to ferment up some goodies. . I want to have a go at root beer. Traditionally made with sassafras in the US (a plant that, until a month ago, I’d never heard of), I’ll have to find an alternative here. I’m wondering about carrot, maybe with some spices added like ginger and possibly licorice. . Suggestions from root beer makers would be much appreciated!

Raw goat milk whey ice cubes. Andrea @farmandhearth turned me on to freezing whey in cubes. These will stay, conveniently, in my freezer and I’ll take a couple out at a time and use the microbes to ferment up some goodies.
.
I want to have a go at root beer. Traditionally made with sassafras in the US (a plant that, until a month ago, I’d never heard of), I’ll have to find an alternative here. I’m wondering about carrot, maybe with some spices added like ginger and possibly licorice.
.
Suggestions from root beer makers would be much appreciated!

Read More