Sourdough!

Anyone else out there tried bread making?  I’ve made bread sporadically for years, as I’m always drawn back to my childhood memories of my mom pulling freshly baked bread out of the oven and slathering it with butter.  Oh, so good.  But lately I’ve been trying to make a decent loaf of sourdoubreagh bread, and as I’ve learned, sourdough can be tricky!  I’ve been trying for the past few months and I won’t tell you how many loaves of bread have gone STB ( bakers terms for ‘straight to breadcrumbs’) but it was quite a few.  But this week I finally produced something I’m happy with…

20160322_125739

It had good density and rose well and I almost feel like I should whisper this… but I made it all with wheat, maybe 60% whole wheat.  I used wheat from our local mill Arva Flour Mill,  and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

And yes, even though we enjoy other grains in this house such as spelt and rye, I purposely wanted to make a sourdough loaf made from 100% wheat.  This is because even though wheat has been badly maligned lately and given the status as public enemy #1,  I’ve recently read this book and it’s given me a whole new perspective…

grainoftruth

Grain of Truth is a fantastic book and I would say that it’s a must read for anyone who has though of giving up wheat even though they aren’t celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitive.

I learned so much.  Stephen Yafa is a journalist who thought he would take a good look at wheat and gluten and I believe that I walked away thoroughly informed as this man has done his research well.

He first looks at the current North American fad of of blaming wheat and the gluten it contains for all of America’s obesity and health woes.  Who doesn’t love a scapegoat?  But when he reveals some of the pseudo-science behind the thinking and also points out that Italians eat twice as much wheat per capita as the Americas and they don’t have near the obesity issues that we do… what is a girl to believe?

Well one glaring fact that jumps off the page is how we treat wheat here.  Did you know that only 4% of the wheat in the US is milled whole, as in “whole wheat”!!!!!  Now that’s frightening.  The rest is processed  into ‘white flour’ where all the vitamins, minerals and fiber are stripped away from wheat’s endosperm and given to animals as feed, and we are left with a source of quick but short-duration energy from that white endosperm.  That quick energy quickly by-passes your liver and heads straight to your blood steam for a nice quick sugar rush, that is totally devoid of minerals of vitamins, except what has been added back in after the fact so that people don’t get sick. True story.

To get this nice lovely white wheat (that doesn’t even spoil by the way) mills all the way back in the late 1800’s had to switch from milling with stones to rollers to more efficiently separate the wheat from it’s endosperm.  And as the demand for white flour grew, doctors started seeing a rise in coronary heart disease, diabetes and gastrointestinal problems that they suspected were linked to the influx of refined carbs people were eating.  But, and here’s the tragic part…. we kept right on eating it!   Who wants grainy whole wheat when you can have fluffy white.   Except in giving up whole wheat we are also giving up all the health benefits of the minerals, vitamins and fibre.  Not only that, but white flour is typically further refined into worse junk where they add more sugar and fat, increasing it’s glycemic load on our bodies and making us sicker and fatter!  Oh, and that fibre we’re missing out on that’s been stripped away?  Well it’s important to our digestive health.  Not only does it keep things moving along, it also regulates your blood sugar,  and that fibre also provides a lovely home for beneficial bacteria which we need to keep our guts healthy & happy.

And here is why eating gluten free if you aren’t gluten sensitive can come back to kick you in the butt… most gluten free flour doesn’t contain alot of fibre, so it’s also by-passing your liver and heads straight to your bloodstream.  And that’s not good news.

Stephen also talks our current wheat crop – and yes, wheat has been altered.   It had to be to stave off an impending famine in India back in the 1960’s.  The man who gave us the wheat we have today was given the Nobel prize for saving so many lives.  So our wheat today is a cross-breed, known for it’s short stalks and high yield, but it’s not genetically modified (yet) nor does it have more gluten than wheat used to have.   It does have it’s draw-backs, as in the type of fertilizer it needs to produce,  but as it’s feeding millions of people every day, and providing 20% of the world’s daily calories, I think we have alot to be grateful for.  And more and more people are cultivating ancient varieties of wheat and many of them can be sourced locally, so you aren’t stuck with just plain, there are other options out there if you choose.

However, there is another important thing that Stephen talks in his book and that’s fermenting wheat – the result of which is sourdough bread.  Sourdough bread has already been pre-digested in a sort of way by a culture of beneficial yeast and bacteria that are happy to live together.  This culture is formed as a ‘starter’ (you can do it yourself, or even buy ready made starters), and when it’s added to bread dough and left to work it’s magic from 12-18 hours, it ferments the dough, the yeast and bacteria create lactic acid which creates the air-pockets and leaven the dough without adding dried yeast.  And it also breaks down gluten into digestible fragments and over-all makes the wheat more digestible.  And I can even attest to that.  I have known for ages now that refined flour makes me bloat like crazy – especially if that refined flour has more sugar added to it.  Even pasta makes me uncomfortable, but I can eat my whole wheat sourdough bread without any problems – I feel great, it’s nice!

So in my conclusion on my book review here… I would really compare this book to being similar to  Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food“.   Michael used his journalist research to cut through all the differing opinions we hear about food and his conclusion was “Eat Food. Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  And if Stephen had a conclusion from “Grain of Truth” it would be something along the lines of… you can eat wheat, whole, stone milled and preferably fermented. Which is great news for wheat.  And great news for me… I’m going to go bake some more sourdough bread!  Thanks Stephen!

P.S. If you want to try your hand at making your own sourdough starter and sourdough bread – check out this link, email me,  or just ask Google.

 

Advertisements

Visiting Ava

Perhaps some grace can be bestowed upon people who have a blog and then abandon  it for months and months.  I of course am one of those people, and even though I’ve been busy composing blog posts in my head, you can’t read them if I don’t type them out!

And the honest truth is that I’ve been holding back because I’ve been feeling this pressure to make every blog entry deep and profound.  This is a burden that I and I alone have placed upon myself since our Ava journey and her death.  I ask myself, ‘Are people really going to want to read my trivial and somewhat meaningless entries?’   And then I tell myself “No, they wouldn’t”, and I walk away.   But let’s be honest, I’m not writing for the masses, I’m writing because it’s in me to write!   It’s something God has put in me to do that I love, so I have to let my go of my misgivings  and just write because I can, because I have a blog and I’m allowed to… so there!

So I might even attempt at posting a trivial entry sometime soon, this entry however is not.  Kinda ironic really.

This post is about visiting Ava, which as you can see from the picture below is what our family calls our visits to Ava’s grave. We all pile in the car and on the way there I feel sad, but I also experience a slight form of anticipation like I’m going to be near my baby again.  I get out of the car feeling a little keyed up, and then a few moments later I’m standing at her grave and I realize once again that I’m not feeling it.   In fact I’m having a really hard time feeling connected to this granite slab with Ava’s name on it.   Sure I’m standing over her… rather macabre.. standing over what’s left of your daughter..  but where is the sense of connection that I’m looking for?

20160228_165212

That connections not there because Ava’s not here.  This is just her memorial, the stone that we have erected to let the world know that we loved her and remember her.  It’s in a sense her little place in the world, but it’s here because she’s not here.

So where is she?

Well, since most of the western world today who acknowledges a God believes that every good person who dies automatically goes to heaven, most people would affirm with me that that heaven is where Ava is.

But for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ and believe the Bible as the perfect and unerring word of God,  there aren’t actually any verses or even a verse in the Bible that clearly and definitely say that babies or small children automatically go to heaven.  Crazy right?  And to make it even more confusing the Bible makes it very clear that when we are born we get our own share of Adam’s sin often called ‘original sin’ and therefore we are all born sinners and from day one are separated from a good and perfect and just God who can tolerate no sin.   So now we have a problem because the Bible also tells us that there is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves,  nothing at all.  Not a word or a good deed or the power of positive thought or anything that could clean us up from this sin and shield us from the wrath of God and eternal separation from Him.  But then we are given hope… Jesus appeared on earth.   God in the flesh and He came among us and taught us and showed us a way to be right with God again.   This was through the work of the cross when Jesus died for us, and took our place and our punishment and bore our sin on the cross and paid the high price sin demanded, and then rose again!   Completely victorious, conquering death and sin, AMEN!   So the Bibles says if we believe in Him and accept His free gift of salvation, His blood will remove our sin and save us so that we can go and be with God in heaven for all eternity.

Um… so again that leaves us with a problem.  Because even though salvation is a free gift, we have to accept it.  Romans 10:9-10 says that we have to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead in order to accept this free gift, which works for me, but how in the world was my 8 month old baby supposed to be able to do that?   How could she confess with her mouth that Jesus is Lord and ask forgiveness for her sin?   She obviously couldn’t, she was completely incapable.  That little baby that suffered so much in her short life, wasn’t able to take those steps to save her soul.  So it’s done then?  We are out of options?  Ava’s not in heaven?

Hold your horses!!!

The Bible is very clear that God gives salvation as a free gift and that He alone is sovereign.  And God is good… didn’t we see that all through Ava’s story?   And from the moment Ava died in our arms and Jason prayed that soul into heaven we have known in our hearts exactly where she was.  She is in heaven!  We believe this to our very core.  The same God who gave us the grace to endure her illness and eventually her death, who gave us joy through it all and never left us alone will be faithful to the end.  How could it be otherwise?

Our church has been working through the book of Romans and the past few weeks have dealt with original sin, so our beloved pastor Norm (who did Ava’s funeral service) was so kind to post this information on our church’s website last week regarding babies just to clear up this often muddied point.   Here are the reasons he gives for babies going to heaven when they die

  1. God is good and always does good.
  2. God is just and always judges justly.
  3. God is merciful.
  4. God is abundantly gracious.
  5. Salvation is always, for any who are saved, entirely an act of grace, a ‘free gift’ (Rom 5:15-17), and even our faith – necessary to believe, is a ‘gift’ from God.  So salvation is 100% a work of God applying Jesus death and resurrection to us by grace.
  6. We believe God applies this grace to those we are discussing who have never personally sinned, covering their original or imputed sin by Jesus atoning work on the cross.  God does this entirely by grace as well, without their having faith.
  7. Plus it appears when final judgment is discussed in the Bible those sent to hell for eternity are sent their for their own acts and attitudes of sin (Romans 1:18-32, Rev. 19, etc.)

For further reading on this I would recommend the following:

  1. Dr. Albert Mohler’s article HERE
  2. Dr. John Piper’s short article HERE
  3. Dr. John MacArthur’s three in-depth sermons HERE (you can read the sermon manuscript by just clicking on the sermon title or listen to the sermons by clicking ‘high’ or ‘low’).
    And I want to add that John MacArthur has also written a book I love, “Safe in the Arms of God“,  a must read for anyone who has lost a child.

I read those points from Norm and I want to yell “AMEN” from the top of my lungs!   And I read those articles as well and they resonate with my heart and my mind and what I take from them is that I  completely trust in God’s love and faithfulness to care for these little ones, when they couldn’t do anything to possibly save themselves.  He is just and good and I am to have no fear that Ava is anywhere but in heaven for eternity.  And she is there not on her own merit, but only by the mercy and grace of her creator who could do for her what she could not do for herself.

And so I’ll continue to visit her grave, even though I don’t get connection with my daughter that my heart craves.  But I can say in faith, just like the faith that King David had when his baby son died, that babies go to heaven.   I know that’s where Ava is and we will spend eternity together there with our Saviour.

” 22 He [King David] said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”  2 Sam 12:22-23

Amen.