Thursday, June 7, 2012

Operation Mash

Today, folks. Today is the day. The day to make my bird mash base. It takes preparation. It takes stamina. It takes a tolerance of hot, humid conditions in the kitchen. It takes planning. And it will make your kitchen look like a disaster area.

Also, it gives me several months worth of cooked grain/legume mash base, so I can just take a container out of the freezer, add all the fresh produce I have, any supplements, and go! I consider it worth it, most definitely.

17 quarts from this batch!

I was inspired this time to get some pictures for you. Not the best, but my camera has an issue with randomly deciding it is out of battery, even when it is not, and today was one of those days. So not the best pictures. And no, there are no pictures of the whole disaster area. Sorry, but I do not want a picture of my cute little *clean* kitchen preserved on the internet as a terrible mess. Just picture pots and mixing bowls full of water, grains, and legumes all over, with strainers and spoons, other MASSIVE bowls to mix the cooked mash in, water spilled everywhere, rebel amaranth coating every surface, and one large boiling dutch oven. Yep, that about covers it.

Just a small sampling of some of the mix, pre-cooking.

A plus of mash base making day? The house smells soooo good! I love the smell, fresh, earthy, the quinoa a bit spicy almost. And if you add oat groats, it is just taken to the next level. Seriously. Oat groats smell so good cooking, sweet and yummy, liked baked goods! If you like your house to smell like "Fresh Waterfall at Sundown 32 Degrees from the Equator Exactly 20 Minutes after a Rain Storm" or "Cucumber Dancing the Tango with Hybrid Melon while Rose and Lavender look on Jealously" you might not be impressed. But I personally think it smells wonderful. Unless you burn it. Then not so much.

Also, please do not get discouraged by the massive size of this undertaking for me. I have many parrots, I like to make a lot at once. For those of you with fewer parrots, you can make considerably less and still have a couple months worth.

Quinoa and Amaranth soaking. I assure you the foam is 
perfectly normal and not a result of strange bad grains. 

The ingredients:
- amaranth                                                        
- quinoa
- kamut
- barley (hull-less, not pearled)
- black rice
- long grain brown rice

- mung beans
- split peas
- garbanzo beans
- lentils

-However it looks in the pictures, I can assure you that there are not, in fact, more legumes than grains. Actually, excluding the quinoa and amaranth, there is a 2 parts grains to one part legumes (so 1 cup legumes to every 2 cups grains); I do not include the quinoa and amaranth in my measurements, since they have all the amino acids.
- I really cannot remember specific amounts of each grain and legume, except that I use very very little rice, since it is so starchy and not as healthy. In fact, I rarely use brown rice in my mash.
- I always include a bit of black rice in my mash, though it is still starchy. As you should know from the press blueberries and blackberries receive, that dark purple/black colour is an indication of the very, very high levels of antioxidants it contains. I love purple corn, black quinoa, black rice, etc, for this reason.
- Notice I have a very short list of legumes. I stick to the most digestible legumes: mung beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, peas, and adzuki beans. These contain the fewest anti-nutrient toxins and are the safest to use.
- You can use any grains you like and that you have on hand. I mix it up every time, although never any wheat berries, since Chester is allergic to them. He seems to do fine with things like Barley and Kamut (gluten containing, closely related to wheat), no noticeable difference in the times he gets those and when I have made gluten-free mash. Many parrots, however, are fine with wheatberries, as are the rest of mine.

The soaking water from black rice can be rather alarming
the first time you see it. However, it is normal.

- The night before I plan to cook my base, or the morning before, I measure out all my grains and legumes and put them to soak in as much water as I can fit in the container with them- which should explain my references to bowls, pots, and water above. Basically, I am getting them to start sprouting, and in the process, release many of their anti-nutrients and toxins into the water. Before cooking, I strain them and rinse very, very well with clean water.
- Owing to the industrial scale at which I make my mash, I take an equal measure from each bowl or pot, rinse, and cook it in batches in my (cheery yellow!) dutch oven. I first put all grains and legumes save for the quinoa and amaranth. Once the other grains and legumes are mostly cooked, I add the quinoa and amaranth.  They normally take very little time to cook, and take just a few minutes after sprouting.
- A benefit of soaking: everything takes very little time to cook, even the garbanzo beans, and needs far less water! Saves energy, time, and pot space, three very important benefits in this endeavor.
- Once each pot is cooked, I empty it into one of my super huge massive mixing bowls and add the next batch to the pot to cook.
- Once the cooked mash has cooled some, I packaged it in quart freezer containers.

After cooking

To Use:
- Each quart container lasts me from 5 days to a week.
- I take a quart container out of the freezer when I have about a day left of my current mash, so it can defrost in the fridge.
- Once defrosted, I mix the grain/legume base with an equal or slightly greater amount of chopped or minced (depending on preference) fresh produce. I do not include fruit, as any fruit is served separately. I always include one or two types of dark leafy greens, often my greens powder, something dark orange like sweet potato or squash, and whatever else fresh produce is in season/I have. I change the type of produce around each week, so while each mash does not have a huge variety, they do get variety in their diet as a whole over time.
- I also add some Omega 3 source, such as hemp or flax oil, or flax meal. Other supplements may include various spices, some form of sea vegetation like kelp, alfalfa powder, etc. I never include other supplements (vitamins, etc) unless needed, and then I just add the correct dose to each bird's dish. Even with the kelp, alfalfa I use sparingly, as a little goes a  very long way.

Please Remember!
While this diet is based on the quite large amount of research I have done, it is also based on what I have found to work for my parrots, my specific parrots' special needs, and I suppose what you could call my (educated) opinion- since that is all there really is in regards to parrot diets, anyway.


Suzanne said...

I have never made mash before so I have a few questions...

How much water to mash mix do you use when cooking?

About how long should it cook for?

How much mash do you feed the birds a day? My smallest bird is a green cheek Conure, my largest is a Green wing Macaw.

Do you feed any pellet or seed or does the mash replace all of that?

Meg said...

Good Questions! I always forget to include things, these seem like such important details. I made a whole new post to answer these, so hope it helps some. Mash is quite forgiving, really, not hard at all to make.