The Importance of a BIG Breakfast

Several months ago we shared with you the account of the gigantic old-fashioned mountain breakfast of 75 years ago. I asked a number of questions: Should we change the order of the size of our meals with the largest meal at breakfast and the smallest meal in the evening? Does our body work best if it is operating off of the energy from the meal that we just ate, or does it work best refilling the body reserves with a big meal in the evening? Does eating a big meal in the evening and a small breakfast program our body to store the food we eat as fat for a reserve rather than flushing out the surplus?

We decided to try eating a big breakfast. Our whole family was pleased with the results. We found that we do not get as hungry the rest of the day, even when we do a lot of physical work like splitting firewood. We have more energy. We do not feel as much of a need for a mid-morning snack. Cathy was pleased to find she lost a little weight as well.

In researching about breakfast, I found that breakfast is an important meal of the day. Most of the food we eat passes through the stomach in about three hours and starts giving us the energy for the tasks at hand. It gives our brain energy to be able to think and function. Eating a big breakfast can help in weight control because it helps you eat fewer calories the rest of the day. When we eat a large meal in the evening and then do not exercise much, our bodies tend to store the excess food energy as fat.

Eggs are one of the best protein sources and are an important breakfast food for growing children who need protein to build strong bones and bodies. Eggs are an excellent quick breakfast food for adults as well. They have found that eggs do not contribute to cholesterol in adults like they used to say that they did. The best eggs are those from hens that are fed organic grains, have free access to the out of doors, sunlight, and can eat plenty of fresh greens. Our pasture raised eggs help you start your day right.

By the way, did you ever see how little grain is actually in a box of store bought cereal? I weighed out some wheat that was the same amount as the weight of a box of bran flakes. It only filled 1 1/2 inches in the bottom of the box! At $9.50 a bushel for wheat, the farmer would have received only about 17 cents for the food in a box of cereal! The box probably costs more than the grain.

Floating Lights in the Pasture

The next Saturday evening after Blondie’s escapade, our son Nathan and I (Myron) rode our bikes out the lane just as it was getting dark. We enjoy going out the lane at dusk and taking in the peacefulness of the evening. We saw some people in our front pasture near the road and some white lights and red lights floating across the pasture. What was going on?! The parking lot out at the road was full of vehicles. We stopped and talked with a few of the people who were in the parking lot. They were members of Mid-Atlantic Search and Rescue. It is a volunteer organization based in Rockville that searches for missing people. They were using the front pasture and surrounding woods for a training exercise for their search dogs. Several people would hide in the pasture or woods and the dogs would search for them. The dogs had a light attached to their backs so that their trainers could see the dog’s location in the dark. The effect was that the lights appeared to float above the ground as the dogs ran looking for the "missing" people. It was pretty neat. It is interesting living on park property and having a part in worthwhile organizations like Search and Rescue and the American Chestnut Foundation.  If you would like to find out more about Search and Rescue, you can check out their website at www.midatlanticdogs.org

Recipes: Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad and Escabeche

Our family enjoys eating foods from other cultures.  I encourage you to try these delicious recipes. First, though, you must cook a four to five pound chicken until it is tender. Or if you’re like me (Cathy) you prefer the roasted chicken flavor. Put a chicken in your roaster. Add water to almost cover the chicken and roast it in a 350 degree oven until it is fall-off-the-bone tender. Remove the chicken from the broth, cool it, and debone it. Save the broth.

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad

8 oz. rice noodles or thin spaghetti
Cook in water until tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

1/4 c. toasted sesame oil
1/2 c. soy sauce
6 T. rice or apple cider vinegar
1 t. ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
Combine in small bowl. Add to noodles.

1 whole chicken breast, cut into small chunks
Your choice of vegetables, chopped or shredded:
scallions, sweet red pepper, celery, carrot, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, bean sprouts, broccoli
Add to noodles and sauce and toss. Best chilled overnight to integrate the flavor. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

For breakfast the next morning, poach your eggs in some of the leftover broth. The broth gives the eggs a delicious flavor. We love eggs cooked this way! After serving the eggs, strain the broth. It is now ready for escabeche for lunch. Escabeche (chicken onion soup) is a special dish served by Maya Indian descendents in the country of Belize.

Escabeche

4 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked chicken (or the rest of the chicken you cooked up)
2 c. sliced onions
2 T vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1
/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. crushed oregano
hot pepper sauce or jalapenos to taste

Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. This is important as it intensifies the flavors. Serve with warmed tortillas. Our family loves to spread the tortillas with peanut butter, roll them up and dip them in the soup.

Looking for Action on a Saturday Night

What do you do for excitement on a Saturday night if you are a cow living on a farm in what seems like the middle of nowhere? Your only companions are one other cow and a bunch of sleeping turkeys. Not very exciting! If you are like our milk cow "Blondie", you jump the electric fence and go looking for some excitement.

Sunday morning, several weeks ago, when we went out to take care of the chickens, turkeys, and other animals, we discovered that Blondie had vanished. Daisy, our other milk cow, was contentedly eating in the pasture, but Blondie was gone without a trace. Where do you find a cow when you are surrounded with uninhabited forest for a mile in almost every direction? We drove out the road looking for Blondie. It was a great opportunity to meet some of our neighbors for the first time. It was also interesting having the opportunity to drive in long lanes and see the houses that were hidden behind the trees. No one had seen Blondie. Sunday evening, on a whim, we decided to drive over to Dickerson and check with the dairy farms over there. When we asked one of the farmers if he had seen a Jersey cow, he got a funny look on his face. He said, "So that is who that cow belongs to". That morning he had received a call from Sugarloaf Mountain personnel saying that there was a cow near the entrance to Sugarloaf Mountain. He had no idea where the cow had come from. He did not know anyone else that had a Jersey milk cow in the area. The farmer had put Blondie in the pasture behind the Sugarloaf Mountain offices, and that is where we found her. She was enjoying the company of the farmer’s cows.

Blondie had hiked through the woods and over the ridge behind our house. She had hiked about a mile and a half, most of it through woods. Her udder was scratched up from going through sticker bushes, but otherwise she was fine. What a cow!

Gigantic Breakfasts

We thought that you would find the historical perspective of breakfasts in the Appalachian mountains interesting. Breakfast is an important meal. It gives us the energy we need after fasting for 12 hours or so during the night to go through the first half of our working day. The following is an excerpt from the cookbook, Mountain Country Cooking: A Gathering of the Best Recipes from the Smokies to the Blue Ridge by Mark Sohn.

"People may argue about what to serve for an old-fashioned mountain breakfast, but on one issue everyone agrees: Fifty to seventy-five years ago, mountain people ate gigantic breakfasts. Over the last seventy-five years, however, our lives and our breakfast have changed.

"I have observed three phases in the evolution of mountain country breakfasts. First, seventy-five years ago, just after the railroads pressed their steel tracks into mountain coal fields, breakfast was really big. The cook loaded the table with bacon, sausage, and pork chops – all at the same meal. If they were saving the pork chops for another day, they served ribs, back bones, fried chicken, or country ham.  With this they often ate fried potatoes or hash browns, buttermilk biscuits, breakfast sausage gravy, homemade blackberry jam, grits or hominy, and eggs, eggs, eggs. To top it off, they may have eaten apple or pumpkin pie, milk, juice, and coffee. These foods, which they called victuals, stuck to the ribs and supported outdoor labor until the mid-day lunch.

"In the 1950’s breakfasts got smaller. We traded toast for biscuits, the pie disappeared, and bacon, sausage, or ham often stood alone with eggs. Hot cereal or sweet potatoes sometimes managed a place on the table. We served milk, juice, and coffee, and perhaps hot or cold cereal."In recent years – the fat fighting  nineties – country cooks, like others, reserve eggs and bacon for special occasions. We worry about cholesterol. We cover dry cereal with skim or low-fat milk, we microwave a frozen bagel, or we lower a toaster pastry into the toaster. No time for hot cereal. No eggs. No pork chops. No cooking. It’s often an on-the-go breakfast."

After reading this account of the gigantic old-fashion mountain breakfast it got me to thinking. Should we change the order of the size of our meals with the largest meal at breakfast and the smallest meal in the evening? Does our body work best if it is operating off of the energy from the meal that we just ate, or does it work best refilling the body reserves with a big meal in the evening? Does eating a big meal in the evening and a small breakfast program our body to store the food we eat as fat for a reserve rather than flushing out the surplus? This is a subject worth researching and finding out more about it.

Preserving the Harvest

People today do not have time to preserve the harvest nor do they need to. At least that is what most people think. However, if we are going to eat local, or if we have a good source of healthy nutrient dense food this summer, we need a way to store the food so that we have it to eat this winter. Of any season of the year, the winter is when we need good nutrient dense food the most. Winter time is when we tend to get sick the most. Many advocate eating fresh fruits and veggies to keep healthy. But in the middle of winter those fresh fruits and veggies come from the other side of the earth where it is warm. They are probably picked green so that they will ripen during the long trip. It is probably a variety that is bred for its ability to ship well rather than for its nutrition quality. What is it sprayed with to keep it fresh, even if it is organic? Michael Pollen in The Omnivore’s Dilemma mentions that organic salad greens are sealed in plastic bags with inert gases that keep them fresh for 14 days. What are those inert gases? That organic "freerange" chicken in the grocery store in February never saw a blade of grass. It was raised in a big dusty ammonia filled chicken house just like a Purdue or Tyson chicken except it received organic feed.

There is something satisfying about having a supply of food stored away for the winter. One of the easiest ways of storing food is in a freezer. For our family of eight we have four large freezers that we use just for our family. In addition, Cathy likes to can pickles, tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa, apple pie filling, apple sauce, jelly, etc. Several of our boys are going to design and build a root cellar as a school project where we can store the potatoes, squash, pumpkins, carrots etc.

If any of you have a suggestion of how to make preserving the harvest easier, we would enjoy hearing about it, especially about doing a large quantity at a time. Doing larger batches at a time is most efficient. Many canned items will keep for two years, so canning a large quantity one year frees up time the next year to can something different. One idea we have to share with you is using a deep bowl kitchen sink propped up on concrete blocks to do the canning, rather than canning on the stove.  You could also use a large galvanized tub. Put a wire rack in the bottom to keep the jars off the bottom. It keeps the heat out of the kitchen, and is much faster than doing 7 jars at a time in a conventional canner. We were able to can two batches of tomato sauce in about an hour. The sink we used holds 20 quart jars at a time. We used a large weed burning type propane torch under the sink as the heat source.  A 90 degree pipe elbow was put on the torch head to direct the flame upwards and a vise grip pliers clamped on to the torch keeps the torch head from falling over. Attached is a picture of the canning setup. The large galvanized tub in the picture would hold about 19 quart jars. Whatever container you use for canning, it needs to be deep enough for the water to fully cover the jars.

A Big Canner

Farming and Health—There is Much More To Learn

Several months ago we realized that we need to learn more about farming and health. Yes, pasture raised meats are important, and organic is important, but they are only two pieces of the pie, not the whole pie or the whole picture. We asked God again to teach us how to farm and from then to now has been an intense learning time. I feel like I am being catapulted along faster than my little brain can absorb everything.

One of the things we learned was at a seminar in Lancaster Pa. where Dr. Arden Anderson was one of the speakers. Dr. Anderson is a medical doctor as well as an agronomist — an unusual combination of training but one which all doctors should have. One of the things that he said was that insects are the garbage crew. If insects are eating a plant or fruit or vegetable, it means it is garbage and is not nutritious enough to eat. He has found that by increasing the mineral and nutrient content of the plant, fruit, or vegetable, insects will leave it alone. Their digestive system cannot handle the increased nutrients in the plants. They get diarrhea and die. Modern science and farming has taken a different approach. They kill the garbage crew (insects) and feed us the "garbage"! The majority of the food we eat today is "garbage".

After we were home again a Bible verse came to our minds "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles" (Psalms 103:5) How does an eagle renew its youth? How can we become young again? The answer is fascinating. An eagle can live to be as much as 50 years old. Periodically, after a certain number of years, an eagle will go somewhere by itself. It will shed all of its old feathers and grow new feathers. Its claws will grow until new claws have appeared. When the eagle returns to its natural habitat it looks like a young eagle even though it is many years old.

We too, just like the eagle, are continually shedding old cells and new cells are taking their place. Regardless of how old you are, you are not more than about 16 years old!! You will be 16 until the day you die! About the only cells that are with us from birth are our brain cells and perhaps our nerve cells.

  • Gut lining cells are about 5 days old.

  • Skin cells are 14 days old

  • Red blood cells are 120 old or less

  • The entire human skeleton is replaced every 10 years or so.

  • The cells in the liver have a turnover time of 300 to 500 days.

  • Muscle cells are about 15 years old.

  • Gut cells other than the lining are about 16 years old.

Suddenly I realized how people before the flood could have lived to be 900+ years old. The fountain of youth is within us and our youth is continually being renewed. At least that is how the body was originally designed to work. There is a prophecy in Isaiah that when the Messiah comes for the 1000 year reign, people will again live very long lives. "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." (Isaiah 65:20)

So why are we not living longer now? Part of the answer is found in Psalms 103:5 where it explains how our youth is renewed. It states that our mouth is filled with good things and then our youth is renewed like the eagles. The problem is that we have been eating garbage (food) that is grown in mineral and nutrient depleted soils. This is not a new problem. Farmers and rain have been depleting the soils since the flood. The soil is not nearly as rich, healthy, and productive as it has the potential of being. Our cells are built from the garbage. When our new cells replace the old cells, the new ones are made from mineral and nutrient deficient food, just like the ones they replaced. The new cells don’t have the energy to be youthful. However, if we fill our mouths with good things and eat nutrient dense foods, then our new cells will be stronger and more healthy than our old cells – the renewing of our youth.

Understanding that the cells in our body are renewed on a regular basis sheds some light on our health. One is that it is possible to change the makeup of our bodies over time by changing what we eat. We are not necessarily doomed because of where our body is now health wise. Another is that our body is what it is because of what we have eaten over the last 16 years and what we eat now will affect the quality of some of our cells for the next 16 years. We like instant results in health, but in reality, some of the health renewal will take years of eating right until all the cells are rebuilt with healthy components. This concept of our youth being renewed like the eagles has shed a whole new light on the importance of us producing nutrient dense nutritional food. Again, let me emphasize that this is not the full picture of what constitutes health, it is only one piece of the full picture.