Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dutch Oven Popcorn

For Christmas my husband bought me a couple of cast iron skillets and a dutch oven.  I have quickly come to realize that there isn't much that can't be cooked given these two basic items (why do I own thirteen other pots and pans??).  I have now cooked everything from chicken and potatoes, to beef bourgignon, to popcorn in my dutch oven.  For those who think dutch oven = outdoor cooking over a campfire, think again!  Although I am excited about someday using it to cook over the campfire, so far I have used it exclusively indoors on the stove and in the oven.  The recipe that follows would actually be really fun over the campfire, but is equally accessible indoors any day of the week.

Popcorn.  Snack staple of America.  This seemingly harmless food when prepared the way most Americans cook it (in the microwaveable baggies from the store) actually has a slew of harmful chemicals in it.  Here I've been buying my children the "natural" popcorn without the butter flavor and thinking we were safe from artificial flavors (diacetyl) and never even realizing that the mechanism that makes those bags pop the corn has been exposing us and our popcorn to a multitude of other harmful substances that I hadn't even thought of!  From the blog The Healthy Apron: "According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the steam from microwave popcorn contains nearly four dozen chemicals."  Read a very informative post on the subject here and here.

For information about diacetyl and how most major popcorn manufacturers have now removed this harmful substance from their products (thank goodness) click here.

So how do we avoid being assaulted by PFCAs, PFOA, C8, and a number of other unnatural substances?  Well, a start would be popping corn the old fashioned way, which is both fun and VERY easy. 

Dutch Oven Popcorn:

What you need:

* A dutch oven
* Popcorn kernels
* Olive oil
* Sea Salt (optional)
* Butter (optional)

Cover the bottom of your dutch oven with olive oil and place over medium heat.  Throw in a couple kernels of corn and wait.  When the corn pops you know the oil is hot enough.  Be careful when checking for popping-I stuck my nose in the pot and one kernel popped right in my face splashing me with hot oil!  Remove popped kernels and replace with about 2/3 cup of un-popped corn (to cover the bottom of your dutch oven).  Vent a tiny bit to allow steam to escape (if you vent too much you will have popping corn hopping out of your dutch oven and all over your kitchen!).  Listen (and sneak a peek every now and then) to your popping corn.  After about 5-10 minutes your dutch oven will be full of fluffy popcorn, the popping will slow down, and you will know to take it off the heat.  Carefully transfer popped corn to a bowl, drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Before you pop your corn in canola.....I will be writing a future post on why I no longer cook in canola oil or vegetable oil but instead prefer butter, olive oil, or tropical plant oils.  But in the meantime I highly recommend the book Nourishing Traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats by Sally Fallon.

Must have microwaveable corn?  A friend of mine microwaves her popcorn by placing un-popped kernels in a brown paper lunch sack with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt, staples it shut with a single staple (this is so little metal that it won't cause problems with the microwave) and pops it as you would store-bought popcorn.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hello World! The homebirth of our 3rd baby

Clearly, I haven't blogged in a while!  I've been on a little 'maternity leave' since the birth of our 3rd baby, a little boy, at the end of November.  His birth was my second successful VBAC.  He was born into my hands, at home, in the water, with his dad and both of his siblings by my side.  I believe that women, and the world, need more joyful stories of natural childbirth (instead of the hollywood horror versions).  If you would like to read a detailed account of my son's birth I have decided to share it, along with a few photos (not graphic), here.