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Many of you have asked me to keep you posted on my discoveries regarding food, health etc.  Well, here is some of what I’ve been researching lately – and maybe you can help me with a thing or two!

Bread Machines

I’ve spent HOURS researching bread machines.  I now know exactly what I want.  But do you think I can find these things here?  I have yet to actually go to a store here and see if they have.  Unfortunately, though, all the internet sites advertise really basic, small loaf machines that don’t have all the features I would like.  Craig is of the opinion that we should get one to last and get it right the first time – I like that opinion.  But it may not be possible.  Here are the brands we’ve been looking at:

Russell Hobbs Ultimate Breadman

Morphy Richards traditional long bread

Salton Breadman

Panasonic SD255

The only one that looks hopeful at the moment, is the Salton, which may be available in South Africa soon.  But I have no idea about the price!

Unfortunately, –just when we think we’ve found THE ONE, it turns out to be discontinued or unavailable.  Even in the UK (where Craig will be heading next week on business) there seems to be a severe shortage of machines - so he may not even be able to bring one home.  :(  Have you got any suggestions for me?  I even wrote to the Zojirushi company in the States on the off chance they could help me!  Now, that is a lovely machine!

The specs of a good bread machine include:

  • easy to clean
  • double paddle for better mixing
    paddles easy to extract from bread (ideally, the less contact with the bread the better)
  • baking container to be easily removed and reinserted
  • programmes that allow one to begin/stop the process at any major stage – for e.g. once dough is mixed, proven and ready to bake, machine stops so that you can bake it in a conventional oven or allow one to put already mixed ingredients for the last two stages of proving and baking.
  • an additions dispenser
  • a normal loaf proportions for baking bread that cuts into nice sandwiches (I really would like one of these!)
  • a viewing window
  • power-out saver so that you can resume from where the programme stopped in the event of power failure (essential in SA!)
  • time delay up to 24 hours (13 hours is standard and is great)
  • easily to see LCD – some of them don’t have backlights which makes it difficult to see
  • able to handle wheat/gluten-free recipes
  • various browning options
  • jam function

My sister recommends the brand “use your own hands”:) – but my thinking is, a bread machine will ensure that I really do make our own bread.  I like hand making bread, but it is time consuming and we’ve found ourselves without bread when it was needed a few times.  So… I’ll keep saving on the food budget and away we go!

Water

Water is water, right?  Nope.  Tap water in South Africa is considered part of the best in the world, but unfortunately it is still filled with rubbish and chemicals such as chlorine, aluminium etc.  You can read much more about water and what’s the best for you here: Sally-Ann Creed.  After much research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best form of water is distilled water.  One can go the carbon purifier route – and I think this is definitely a great step to take.  But if you really want to ensure that the water you are drinking is excellent – then the distiller is the route to go.

This was a tough decision for me, because there are pros and cons for both distillers and purifiers.  The purifiers tend to be easier, quicker and don’t cost electricity, but you have to replace them/the cartridge every 1-3 years and they do not filter out everything that is not great.  The distillers tend to be portable (great for camping!) and give you the best water.  The reports of health benefits of drinking and cooking with distilled water are many – and apparently it’s even better for your appliances that require water!  They are also a bit cheaper, if you comparing middle-ranged products.  However, they require electricity (as much as 35c/litre) for the steam-distilling process and they can only offer around 19l/24 hours.  So, you need to keep it going and keep your water bottles/tanks filled up.  Some can be a bit noisy too.  We’re hoping that we can save up for a distiller in the near future and plan to get it from this source – the cheapest I’ve found it so far: Go Natural

Kefir

When I first came across this term, I thought “what?!”  In South Africa, you’ve got to be careful about how you pronounce that too, otherwise it comes across highly offensive.  Fortunately, I first encountered it on an American blog – and so my mind didn’t go to the offensive until sometime later.  Anyway – I digress. What is kefir?

As I’ve encountered it more through blogs, homeschooling forums etc, I’ve begun to grow very curious about it and want to try it out myself.  I’ve learnt a lot about it and it sounds like a perfect food.  To save from retyping, I’m cutting and pasting a description of kefir from Sharon, from the SA homeschooling forum.

Kefir (kee-fer) is a fermented, probiotic milk drink from the Caucacus
Mountains in the former Soviet Union. The name kefir loosely translated means “pleasure” or “good feeling”. Due to its health promoting properties, kefir was once considered a gift from the gods. It is now being rediscovered and recognised for its many health and beauty benefits.

Kefir can best be described as a sort of liquid, sparkling yoghurt, with its own distinct and deliciously mild, naturally sweet, yet tangy flavour – with a refreshing hint of natural carbonation. Its unique taste and almost mystical reputation as a longevity elixir explain why people all over Europe are making kefir their beverage of choice. Unlike yoghurt, which is created from milk by adding certain lactic acid bacteria, kefir is made by combining milk with a pinch of “kefir grains”. The small amount of carbon dioxide, alcohol and aromatic compounds produced by the cultures gives kefir its distinct fizzy, tangy taste.

Kefir also contains unique polysaccharides, which may be responsible for some of its health benefits. In the United States most natural food stores sell kefir. Always buy plain, unsweetened kefir and flavour yourself with mixed berried, or whatever. Beware of sugar laden or flavoured kefir. Hospitals in the former Soviet Union use kefir to treat conditions such as allergic disease, metabolic and digestive disorders, TB, cancers and gastrointestinal disorders and atherosclerosis. It is also known to stimulate the immune system, enhance lactose digestion and inhibit tumours, fungi, and pathogens – including bacteria that cause most ulcers.

As you know probiotics are useful against vaginal, urinary and bladder
infections, inflammatory conditions, food allergies, asthma, eczema,
cardiovascular disease, intestinal cancers, rotavirus, respiratory
infections, traveller’s diarrhoea and tooth decay.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to source kefir in SA.  Kelly has managed to find some in Israel and their family loves it.  But, no luck for me here in SA.  Until last week – somehow it came up as a topic of discussion on the eloop that I have mailed to me daily, and I discovered a company that sells it here!  Because it’s a once off buy and continues to grow more grains with each culture, it’s so economical too.

Kefir grains look a lot like small cauliflower heads.  You don’t actually consume the grains, just the cultured milk that results.  It apparently tastes amazing especially in a smoothie.  To see an interesting tutorial on it, go to the Bettendorf’s site where Katie takes you through a fun picture lesson of how to use it.

Mmmm – looking forward to getting our first grains (hoping Kelly can send me some of hers!) and thereafter filling my family’s tummies with good intestinal flora!

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