The #1 food to add to your diet is raw milk.
Don't believe me?
Ask and I will send you my commentary and observations from the past few years - if I post it to this blog, my readers who are less interested in this subject will fall asleep ;) If enough of you ask, I will post it.
The purpose behind this post isn't to try to step on your toes, but to help you find new ways to introduce this wonderful food into your family's diet.
GET RAW MILK
The best option is to find and visit a local farm that produces raw milk and purchase the amount you need. Visit it often, encourage the farmer with kind words that show your appreciation, and keep him or her accountable to continue to improve the product.
The next best option (and in my mind more fun) if money is the issue: find a neighbor with a cow, and offer to milk two or three times a week for a fair portion of the milking. You sure learn to appreciate your food. This may require a long drive into the country if you live in the city, but the clean air and exercise is more than worth the effort.
The last option, but certainly one I do not deter you from undertaking, is for those of you who own at least a couple acres and are willing to work hard and stay home more often: get a cow (or goat). See all of my previous posts on dairying for help in this area. The #1 mistake you could make is bringing home a nice cow without doing any preparation in the area of visiting dairies, talking with dairymen, learning to hand milk, reading a lot of information, and preparing your pasture to receive a grazing animal. If you avoid some of the mistakes that I made, your cow or goat will not only pay for itself within the first year, but you may be able to make some profit if you want to sell extra milk to grateful friends.
DRINK RAW MILK
Make your own:
* Yogurt - simply whisk 1/2 gallon of raw milk brought to skin temperature gradually into a container with 1/2 to 1 C. of storebought whole milk yogurt with natural acidophilus and live cultures (Nancy's). Let sit in a warm place for 12 hours or until thickened.
* Buttermilk - same as yogurt, only use storebought buttermilk as starter.
* Sour cream - same as yogurt, only milk does not have to be warmed, and it may take 2-3 days.
* Kefir - get kefir granules from a local source (such as a food co-op) and culture same as yogurt.
* Filmjolk - obtain a jar of starter culture, use up to half at a time and add cold or warm milk to refill each time.
* Butter - skim cream off the top of the jar of cold milk (at least a day old) with a gravy ladle right into a blender (add some skim milk if it is too thick). Let it sit for at least a few hours, but not a whole day. Blend until it turns into whipped cream and after that stage if you continue to whip it, it will separate into liquid buttermilk and chunks of yellow butter. Pour the whole lot through a strainer into a bowl and save the buttermilk, then dump the butter into a bowl and trickle cold water over it from the faucet while you knead out the excess buttermilk. I'm not too picky with this process - it simply cultures (sours) faster if you leave some of the milk in. When you're satisfied or run out of patience, squeeze out remaining moisture and salt to taste (optional). The taste of raw butter is superior to the pale, greasy, tasteless stuff from the store, but some people find the smell to be too strong as it cultures. If that is the case, keep it refrigerated. If not, raw butter can easily sit at room temperature for weeks.
* Whipped cream - um, if you need help with this one...
* Cream cheese - two options. One: make a strong-tasting cheese by allowing to naturally curd (let fresh, warm cream sit on the counter for a day or until it feels like jello) and then heat to 120 degrees slowly over low heat and then pour into a cheesecloth and let hang so all the whey drains out. Two: heat to skin temperature and add rennet (follow package instructions) and proceed as normal once it has curded (30 min. to several hours).
* Cottage cheese - same as cream cheese, only use skim milk, cut the curds as 1/4" squares, and heat very, very slowly and carefully until it feels the right texture when pinched between your fingers. If you heat it too much, it will become hard. I personally have not had much success with cottage cheese, the texture always is a bit funny, and I'm not sure if that is normal for homemade cheese, or I am simply not following the right directions.
* Hard cheese - same as cream cheese, use whole or skim milk. Once the cheese has drained in the cheesecloth overnight, wrap tightly and put in a cheese press (or use any method on earth that has something to do with weighting down the top of the cheese ball). If I remember correctly, let it stay there overnight and then flip the cheese over and weight the other side for a day. Then take the cheese out, set in a COOL place (seriously, don't make cheese in the summertime unless you have an extremely cold basement. It will be an absolute headache otherwise.) and turn daily for a few days or until the outside dries and forms a yellow rind. Then rub with salt daily for 3 days, then rub with butter for 3 days and less often afterwards as needed to keep it from drying out too much. Another option includes dipping the whole cheese in wax instead of using butter as a sealant - but I have not tried this. Also cut away any mold that grows on the cheese. It is not a problem unless it gets out of hand.
* Whey - soak your grains, beans, oatmeal, add to smoothies, use instead of water in some recipes, and drink it if you can.
ENJOY RAW MILK
Use milk in raw icecream, smoothies, pudding, raw hot chocolate, raw custurd, for baking, poured over oatmeal or granola, and drink, drink DRINK your raw milk!
Raw Icecream - scoop the cream from two jars of milk, pour into your icecream maker and add an equal amount of skim. Add a couple dashes of fine celtic sea salt, a teaspoon or two of real vanilla extract, about 1/2 C. each fresh or frozen raspberries and blueberries (or use 1 C. strawberries, slightly mashed - equally yummy!), and about 5 droppers of stevia (glycerine-based). Freeze according to directions and enjoy! Another recipe my brothers created uses cocoa powder, nut butter (grind your own peanuts or almonds), salt and maple syrup.
Raw Hot Chocolate - 1 C. milk, 1-2 T. cocoa powder, dash of salt, bit of vanilla, and stevia to taste (5-10 drops is about right). Heat in a saucepan until it is very warm to your taste, but not close to boiling.
Strawberry Smoothie - put 2 bananas, 1-2 C. strawberries, 1/2 C. walnuts, flax seeds, and even sneak in some natural-flavored cod liver oil into your blender. Pour in about 3 C. of raw milk and blend. This is a family favorite (though my brothers always seem to detect the cod liver oil).