This week we took on the “Milk and Health” section of the dairy chapter of McGee’s book. This section focused on the usefulness of milk for infants, why other species’ milks aren’t the right milk for the development of said infants, milk allergies, lactose intolerance, and osteoporosis. McGee made an interesting point about how the average adult (of non-Northern-European origin) on earth can tolerate something on the order of a cup of milk per day, while the U.S. government was recommending roughly four times that amount in its nutrition guidance. While the USDA nutrition guidance has since changed (featuring a much smaller role for dairy), the role of the government in simultaneously promoting health and dairy agriculture is… schizophrenic, to say the least. Continue reading
It’s appropriate that McGee starts the book with milk. In infancy, milk helps babies finish their development outside the womb, which means that they can grow bigger than the birth canal would otherwise allow. Its because of milk, in part, that we get to say, “Look at the big brain on Brad!” Milk, while a surefire stomach ache for most adults, brings us calories from unusable (for humans) foodstuff. Early humans quickly recognized this as a useful way to ensure their own survival and domesticated goats shortly after domesticating dogs. That mammals produce milk and that humans learned to collect and consume milk from other mammals is a fundamental part of why civilization as we know it exists today.
Recipe: Mammal in Milk – Lamb Shanks Braised in Goat’s Milk
(Based on this recipe which I’m not ashamed to admit I saw on Top Chef)
This recipe was pretty incredible. Time consuming, but simple. We chose it because of the obvious highlighting of milk and mammal. Other than an incredible Sunday dinner, I think the biggest thing we got out of this was that this is a pretty amazing technique for taking a tougher piece of meat (like the shank) and making something tender and delicious out of it. And pureeing the milk/vegetable mixture to make a sauce is just kind of genius too. I can completely imagine doing this with lots of other pieces of meat, other dairy products, and other vegetables in the braising liquid. Pork with apples and sage in milk might well be fantastic, for instance. Celery root and sunchokes come to mind too. Something to think about playing with the next time we decide to experiment.