Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked: Sweet Grain-Free Acorn Squash Muffins

It is essential for me that when someone tries something I make, they simply say, "This is good." I don't want them to say, "This is good...considering it's [grain-free] [healthy] [made with liver] [etc.]." So I'm excited to be experimenting with grain-free treats that are simply yummy ~ not conditionally yummy. ;-) It's also important to me not to use specialty ingredients. Real, old-fashioned ingredients that are no longer generally carried at a regular grocery, such as soup bones and liver from grass-fed animals ~ yes; fancy "gluten-free flour" ~ no.

I've been using this grain-free muffin recipe for years now. And I've honed custards (a mix of egg with liquid, such as cream or milk, soup, pureed veggie or fruit, etc.: looks like a post I need to create!) ~ both sweet and savory ~ to a perfection. So now I'm working with this concept: of eggs with different thickenings, essentially, to come up with all kinds of (mildly) sweet, grain-free baked deliciousness. My way of cooking, mind you, is largely "a little of this, a little of that;" I only use rough measurements. And I encourage you to try this method in your own kitchen as much as you dare. It takes practice and a bit of adventure. But if you start with quality ingredients, even if it's not contest-worthy, it'll most likely still taste good. ;-)

So here's a rough recipe I created this morning that turned out yummy. Especially successful because the toddler asked for seconds and thirds! I hope I have the time to share more of these recipes soon.

Sweet Grain-Free Acorn Squash Muffins
makes 9 small muffins

Preheat oven to 375.
3 eggs ~ from a local farm you know and trust
about 1/3 cup leftover baked acorn squash (butternut or pumpkin would work well, too)
1/4 cup flax seeds, ground in a seed/coffee grinder
1/4 tsp organic butter, melted
3-4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped fine (or chopped in a food processor)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Extra butter to grease the muffin cups.

Blend all ingredients. I use a hand-held mixer. Pour into well-greased muffin cups. Bake until firm and brown ~ no longer than 30 minutes; probably closer to 20.
These muffins are so moist and satisfying! My 3 year old daughter ate three at one sitting! That's a record-breaker. The flax helps them to stay together and have body, while not being too "flaxy" (read: "crunchy-granola 'healthy'"). And the dates add just enough sweet without creating a sugar high and subsequent crash! These muffins stand on their own, but you know I won't flinch if you melt some butter or cream cheese on top. And I bet a drizzle of raw local honey would be divine!

Involve your children in the process! Kids love to help if we'll let them. And helping ensures they'll like the end product more because they can take pride in it. It might take a few more minutes, and some food might end up on the counter or on the floor. However, an interest in cooking that starts early is a life-skill that is worth the investment. Anjali helped me make these by pouring in the dry ingredients after I measured them. She also quality-checked the dates. ;-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

fermented: Autumn Harvest Fruit Scrap Vinegar ~ with grapes, apples, blackberries, and pears!

oh! The kitchen is alive and vibrating with bounty at harvest time! I feel so fortunate to have arrived in Oregon at this time of year. As soon as we plopped the moving boxes in the middle of the room and assembled the bed, the pots and crocks and kettles have been a-bubbling and brewing ever since. Abundance. Vitality found at the end of a wooden spatula shared with friends.

I started a post weeks ago which attempted to quickly run through all the fermented preservation I've been up to, but guess what? I'm too busy preserving! :-) Many are clearly experiments. A few are clearly delicious. That brings me to quite possibly my favorite ferment, besides just good ol' plain ol' cabbage sauerkraut: fruit scrap vinegar. With Mother Nature, truly there is no "waste." That's what I love about making vinegar from fruit scraps: the parts that would usually get tossed to the compost pile have one more step of utility to us first. I have realized this is my passion ~ making useful beautiful things out of stuff that most people in our culture nowadays consider "waste." I make clothing and other useful items from second hand fabric (if only I could unearth the machine from the boxes!), make broth from onion peels, carrot stubs, etc., and bones (which I by no means consider scrap, but instead highly valuable, however most Americans do consider these rubbish). And vinegar from fruit scraps! Ding ding ding! I win!

Ha ha. Well, it's obvious I'm passionate. ;-)

I'm thrilled to be transplanted from the city to the country. And thrilled that we have overflowing fruits for the taking right here on the rental property. This vinegar exemplifies that sweet harvest with apple, pear, blackberry and concord grape! If I had thought to add wild rose hip (oo! that's an idea!), it would almost be showing off. Though I have made luscious fruit scrap vinegars in the past ~ Rainier cherry, and ripest Kashiwase Farm nectarine from Bay Area farmers' markets come to mind, this is the most beautiful fruit scrap vinegar I may ever assemble. I mean. Just look at it.

sweet and ripe apple, pear, blackberry, and concord grape fruit scrap vinegar peeks out from its bonnet.
This is a gallon jar, by the way.

I got the idea originally from everyone's favorite Fermentation Guru-Nextdoor, Sandor Katz (featured prominently to the right), in his must-have Wild Fermentation, with the ratio for added sugar to water being 1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water. In the past I have tried honey, and Sucanat, and probably organic white sugar. Right now I'm using some organic palm sugar that I hoarded away years ago and have since never touched. One of the things I appreciate about Sandor and his truth of fermentation is ~ use what you have, and what motivates you. The "recipes" are mostly just guidelines; you can use your imagination and what's around you to fill in the rest.
Fruit Scrap Vinegar
~Pile the fruit scraps in a clean glass vessel (I give it a good scrubbing and then fill it with boiling water beforehand, which I pour out after a few minutes).
~Fill up the empty space with the sugar water.
~Cover with a clean towel or napkin secured with a rubberband to keep the flies away.
~Let sit until the water is sufficiently cloudy ~ a week or more.
~Then strain out the solids for the compost, and pour the liquid back into the well-ventilated vessel and re-cover.
~Let it sit till the smell turns from sweet to vinegar-y.

A cloudy or fuzzy membrane might form over the top. That's ok; just use a spoon to pull it off.

This vinegar can be used in any way that you use other tasty vinegars ~ in cooking, on salads, and even just to drink, like a tasty kombucha. Yum!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Good News: Citizens Take Food Sovereignty into Their Own Hands

Haha! I've had that gloomy post at the top of this page long enough. I strongly believe in focusing on what you want instead of on what you don't want.

Cheers to folks standing up for their freedom to choose the foods they want to nourish their bodies, and to farmers standing up to sell wholesome food to folks who want to buy it!

And this is one city of a few US cities who have taken this step. Exciting!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Raw Milk: Under Militant Attack by US Government

Uggh. I should've written about this weeks ago, but. If you want to know what really gets my blood boiling ~ it's this and I just didn't want to face it. Many armed SWAT-style raids on small, honest, family-owned farms and businesses selling clean, nutritious raw milk to people who go out of their way to get it and pay top dollar for it. On a planet where many people every day die from lack of access to food, in a country where millions are ill and dying for lack of proper nutrition, our government is pouring out gallons and gallons of uncontaminated, healing, nurturing, life-supporting raw milk. Of all things sick and twisted about The System today, this ~ that is happening much more than you'd think ~ is huge and criminal.

Get in touch with your food supply. Know the people who raise your food, support them, and, even better, raise some of your own food. We can't keep leaving our nourishment up to big businesses (including the government); it's killing us.
This quote was left as a comment after a YouTube video linked below and it rings true with me, too.
"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny."
Thomas Jefferson

Here's a press release about the most recent raid on a food buying club in LA, called Rawesome.

And here is a collection of video footage from the raid, and then from the protest following it. I like one of the signs a protester held, saying something like, "Raid Crack Houses, not Food Buying Clubs."

Then finally, and most importantly, here's a link to the movie, called Farmageddon, which tells the story of so many small farms and farm families around the country who are going through the exact same thing. If you can watch the trailer and not get your feathers ruffled, you probably came to this blog by accident. ;-) Find a way to see it. I'll let you borrow my copy of the DVD when it's available for purchase.

If you don't want to eat real food, keep eating the packaged garbage sold to you by advertisements on TV. But please let me and my family have the right to choose to eat real, wholesome food from the earth, the way Nature intended it.

Food Sovereignty!

To help, Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is a great organization.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Raw Milk: Safe Even According to Government Data

Though we know better than to rely on the research the US government chooses to publicize, now even government data shows that raw milk from healthy cows grazed on grass is much safer than many other foods available in grocery stores. This also proves that the FDA has an agenda other than public health behind their overt opposition to raw milk. Here's an article about it, and an extensive explanation of the research, by the author, Dr. Ted Beals.

From Dr. Beals, "..we can show, using government figures, that you are about 35,000 times more likely to become ill from other foods than you are from raw milk."

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Next Level: Grain-Free Banana Bread French Toast over a Campfire

Here I am humming with pleasure at one of my favorite things: cooking outside! We went for an overnight trip to Tahoe to feed our souls before embarking on a huge hunk of busy-ness. Always well worth it. And the food? Always well worth it. Food does taste better outside.
The aspects that a photo can't convey are the heavenly fresh scent of the redwoods and Douglas firs, the rushing of the alpine creek that was directly past this little campsite, the crackling of the fire with its occasional stinging smoke in my eyes as I shuffled the pans. The feeling of cool powdery dirt between my toes. The fact that it's perfectly acceptable to use the lid of a camping pot as a cutting board. The added smells and sounds... the breaking of usual rules. ;-)

We've been quite pleased with the previous Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread recipe. I happened to have most of a loaf to take with us on our camping trip. And then it dawned on me: French toast! Oh, man. We fried (pasture-raised, artificial nitrate- nitrite-free) bacon beforehand, and then fried the French toast in the leftover grease. You know it! I made the batter the usual way; I beat an egg for each person with a pinch of sea salt, and about a teaspoon of organic maple syrup. Then I let the pieces of banana bread ~ about the width of my thumb, 3/4 inch thick? ~ soak in there on both sides. The pan and grease were hot enough that when I put the first piece in, it sizzled on contact ~ how you want the pan when you fry pancakes. Most of the pieces browned and crisped nicely on both sides, one piece got a little more ... charred.. as the fire licked up a bit. All a part of the camping experience, right?! Then we added pats of yellow butter, a drizzle more of the maple syrup, and a generous handful of ripe local blueberries. With the foil of a perfectly crisp piece of bacon, this French toast was divine.
That piece in the middle is mighty dark, but I love the way the blueberries look with this plate. I can smell the campfire from here. :-)

You might be grimacing at such a full-on presentation of fat. There is a lot in this meal. But the beauty of eating nutrient-dense foods is that a little goes a long way. Unlike the fluffy, empty, saturatedly-sweet piles of French toast that most (I think I could actually say all) restaurants offer, after a couple small pieces of this French toast, even a hearty eater like my husband is satisfied and fueled for a long hike in the mountains ~ instead of for a several-hour belly-rub on the couch.

I need to add that a meal that I eat that includes good meat and good fat is never complete without a heaping spoonful of fermented veggie, and hopefully something else fresh ripe and raw. This is where my summer salsa comes in. One of my favorites of the summer season is cherry tomatoes. With ripe cherry tomatoes that burst with sweet sunshine flavor when I bite into them, I can easily pass by the price-inflated slicers (till the end of the season when they're priced to move). And cherry tomatoes are so easy to grow. Whereas slicers take some skill, cherry tomatoes overproduce with abandon. This season my favorite has been Sun Gold. I buy a pint every time I go to the co-op. My other favorite this year is cucumber. I am not finding the Armenian cucumber I loved from the Berkeley farmers' markets, but any that I've tried this season have been good! So I've been halving Sun Golds at every meal, tossing them with another fresh veggie, such as chunks of cucumber, and then I add a few scoops of fresh sauerkraut to the mix. A splash of olive oil sometimes, a sprinkle of sea salt. This is the ideal summer accompaniment to a hearty breakfast. I dare say, a must. Summer Salsa with Sauerkraut
Salsa of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and cabbage-n-cauliflower sauerkraut smiles in the redwood-filtered morning sunlight.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baked: Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread

Back before I started keeping this blog, this is the way I kept track of recipes I wanted to remember:
I still like this tactile way of keeping up with cooking, like the way I like hand-written, poetic cookbooks, and don't really find a use for overly scientific, technical cooking directions; cooking is a wholly sensory experience. Writing it down gets even more of your body involved. I also like the cute pictures I always drew to illustrate. ;-)

When I smelled that unmistakable pungent fragrance of very ripe bananas from the bowl on the counter, I felt the rush of a longing: for old-fashioned, classic, comforting banana bread like I ate when I was a kid. I didn't want anything exotic or gourmet; just some moist banana bread with a generous layer of melty gooey cream cheese on top. Of course I would use nutrient-dense ingredients instead of the standard white flour and white sugar, but I wanted my rendition to be as reminiscent as possible to the one I ate on a sunny summer afternoon, spread out on the back porch of Mom's kitchen when I was a kid.
My taste for sweet is so sensitive these days that if you are used to eating Standard American sweetened foods, this might not do it for you. But for me and my family, it was perfect. Moist and just juicy enough, with a delicate texture when warm, and the twang of ripe banana-meets-nutmeg. The thing I also like about this wholesome version is that the egg and butter balance out the sweet-sweet banana so that you (and your children!) don't get the sugar spike and subsequent hangover of a usual sweet treat.

For bioavailability, I soaked the organic almonds overnight beforehand by covering with filtered water with a tablespoon of salt. Then I ground them in a few batches in the spice grinder. There were still some big chunks, but mostly a fine meal.

Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread
preheat oven to 350 and butter a breadloaf baking dish.

2 cups soaked but not toasted almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3 pastured eggs from a farm you trust
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup Sucanat/Rapadura
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix the first group of ingredients thoroughly. Beat the eggs and mix in the vanilla and Sucanat till combined. Then add the dry to the wet and mix. While stirring, pour the butter in till it's all incorporated. Bake until the center is firm. The outside will get very brown. Let sit for a few minutes before slicing and eat while still warm ~ or toasted ~ with a nice slab of cream cheese on top.

This blog entry is a participant in Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Toddler Favorites: Popsicles!

you can't see as well what she's eating in this photo, but I thought it was cute anyway.

It is HOT here in Sacramento! The only way to get any nourishment into a tiny tummy (or a grown-up one, for that matter!) is to make sure it's something COLD!

The popsicles I've been making are essentially a frozen smoothie. They are so easy, and ~ as always ~ nutrient-dense. A treat for the whole body that mom can feel good about, even if she ends up serving the whole batch in one day. ;-)
a banana popsicle that is not crayola yellow?!
my daughter still loves it.

This is the second batch that I have made with a very jury-rigged popsicle "mold" and handles. I don't want to buy plastic, and I haven't felt the absolute necessity to invest in the stainless steel version. Laugh at its ghetto-fabulousness as I have (no, really ~ go ahead; I'll wait), but: it works for now.

I just:
-pour the blended smoothie into a parchment paper-lined baking dish
-place spoons in line for approximate sizing of pops
-place carefully (and as levelly as possible) in the freezer
-curse internally when all of the spoons shift as the mixture sloshes around and I have to re-place them, then
-wait a few hours.
-Take the whole thing out when properly frozen
-run the pan under warm water for a moment to get the paper away from the dish, and then
-slice with a big (non-oniony!) knife. (Run knife under warm water for extra help.)
-I then put the whole thing back in the freezer (after we help ourselves to a few) for later.

Here are two variations on the idea that have had rave results from child and adult alike.
Melon Monkey Popsicle
1/2 can whole fat coconut milk
3/4 an average-size ripe melon ~ I used Galia
1/2 a ripe banana
2 pastured egg yolks (from a farm you trust)
a pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp melted coconut oil (at these temps, I didn't even have to put it on the stove; it was liquid in the jar!)

Blend all ingredients except coconut oil in the blender. Right before you're done, add the oil while the blender is on. Pour into the popsicle mold of your choosing and freeze to perfection!
Note: I used a 9x13 dish for this one, then decided to use a smaller, square "brownie" pan for the next batch. The second round were thicker, but also, I didn't have quite as much "popsicle batter" to begin with.

Strawberry Cream Popsicle
1/2 can whole fat coconut milk
1/2 cup whole raw milk (from a farm you trust)
1/2 a pint of juicy ripe strawberries
a pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp melted grassfed butter
a drizzle (maybe a tsp) of local raw honey
a few more juicy ripe strawberries, chopped small

Blend all ingredients through sea salt, then add the melted fats and honey while the blender's running. Pour the mixture into your desired popsicle mold, and then sprinkle the chopped strawberries around. Freeze to perfection. Devour after playing on a hot day!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cherry Season!

How many minutes does it take Mommy and Anjali to finish their first pound of Brooks cherries at the beginning of the season? Umm.. How bout maybe a half hour? Our friend Clint brought us a couple pounds of cherries from his family's cherry farm in Orland, California, after their first day of farmers' market sales. Sweet!
Oh, so sweet!
Getting down to business with a package of cherries.

Cherry season comes but once a year, right?!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Using Up the CSA Veggies: Sunday Morning Frittata

Frittatas are excellently versatile and hearty for any meal, and are easy to make. Their leftovers also make great cold or re-warmed snacks. I called this a "Sunday Morning Frittata" because it takes a bit of time to prep the veggies, and frittatas have a festive, "Sunday Brunch" kind of presentation. But of course you could prep the veggies and eggs the night before and quickly and easily make a frittata any morning of the week.
I've been making frittatas regularly with our CSA subscription to Riverdog Farm, as they can incorporate so many veggies with delicious results. Just chop up whatever veggies you want to use ~ onions or garlic always make a nice base, plus maybe a starchy vegetable, such as sweet potato, potato, or beet, and then a huge pile of greens ~ so good for you, and cook down to next-to-nothing, so they don't take up a lot of space. Plus eggs, maybe add a seasoning herb, and some cheese on top at the last minute for added flavor and satiety. Voila! A satisfying, rainbow-nutritious meal in a skillet!

Beet, Spring Onion, and Spinach Frittata

pastured lard and/or grassfed butter or ghee for the pan (be good to yourself; be generous with the fats!)
(I also added a spoonful of nitrate-free, pastured bacon grease for flavor)
3 medium-sized beets, sliced
3 egg-sized spring onions, without greens, sliced
a hefty bunch of spinach, chopped, and rinsed well
10 eggs
a generous sploosh of grassfed cream, or grassfed whole milk, or plain whole-milk yogurt
a teaspoon dried dill, or more of freshly snipped dill
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
yogurt cheese or goat cheese

In a medium-large cast iron skillet, I melted lard and butter on medium-low heat. I sauteed the beets and onions together until they were soft and the onions were sweeeet. I added the spinach and mixed and cooked till they were all wilted. While these were cooking, I mixed the eggs with about 1/4 cup of raw cream (yum!) and salt, pepper, and dill. When the veggies were ready, I positioned them evenly in the skillet, and poured the egg overtop. I turned the heat down to medium, and did nothing else till the egg was set but still runny on top. I turned the broiler on (and shut the bedroom door to prevent the smoke detector from coming on!), and then placed generous dollops of homemade yogurt cheese* all around. Popped it under the broiler for a few minutes until the top was set and browned. This does not take long!
I think frittata is perfect with a side salad and sauerkraut. I served what's left of the Salad Kraut.

*With the consistency of goat cheese, all it takes to make yogurt cheese is just pouring yogurt into a linen/cotton napkin, tying it up with a rubber band, and letting the whey drain into a bowl. I use the whey for fermenting projects ~ like apple butter! Drain for a few minutes, or even overnight, depending on your desired thickness.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Raw Milk Rally in DC

This blog entry is a participant in Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays!

I milked this goat. And then DRANK the milk while it was still warm! I lived to tell about it!

A year long sting operation and ensuing legal battle surrounding an Amish farm's sales of raw milk to willing and eager customers has the raw milk community protesting.
An Amish family farm?? I mean, seriously. Doesn't our government have greater menaces to halt than that? Didn't those undercover operatives feel silly? Considering all the barely-foods and chemical conglomerates sold as food ~ and even subsidized by our tax dollars, wholesome fresh milk from healthy cows is a pet project for the FDA to pick on. Nobody's forcing anybody to buy the stuff, or selling it to people under the guise of something else ~ as plenty of legal products are! There is a risk in drinking raw milk. And I sure as hell would never drink the stuff sold as milk in American grocery stores unless it were pasteurized (and then I still wouldn't drink it). But wholesome (from a farm you know and trust) raw milk very rarely causes problems, while everyday foods like deli meat, salad greens, and pasteurized milk* DO. This is not about "foodies"** wanting their latest fad-fix, or even about nutrition, but grave and fundamental issues such as food freedom and food security.

Dear FDA official,
If you don't want to drink raw milk, don't buy it. And by all means if it's what you feel confident about, keep feeding your family that corn-and-soy-fed CAFO-raised swill that comes in the gallon jugs at the grocery ~ the lobby for which pads your wallet. But please let my family and other health-loving citizens buy fresh milk from farmers who care.


*I realize this is from a website that promotes raw milk, but I deeply trust we can look up their data and it would be accurate.
** Speaking of the word, "foodie," here is an excellent article by Eric Schlosser (of Fast Food Nation and Food, Inc.) on the subject.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Toddler Favorites: Lacto-fermented Apple Butter

End of the season for cellar apples. That means it's time to make more apple butter! I wasn't sure if it was going to happen, shopping at the co-op as opposed to farmers' markets, but it did: discounted apples. I bought two produce bags full of ripe pink lady apples. When I told Anjali what they were for, she wanted to make apple butter immediately! We quartered and cored them, then baked them till soft and dried out a little. I used that handy handheld mixer to blend them. We baked enough to fill a large mixing bowl (even after somebody kept sneaking several apples' worth of pieces throughout the day!). I'll use these guidelines again this year, and hopefully will be able to give you better measurements this time around. Sadly we're on our way back to Kentucky today for the funeral of my "papaw." :-( When we return, the pureed applesauce will be waiting in the fridge for us to ferment into apple butter!
Anjali loves this stuff. To get those good fats into her, and to balance out the sugar, I gently melt a few pats of butter to mix in with hers. She could eat a whole jar in one sitting.

A secret: recently, Anjali has stopped liking the taste of cod liver oil. She used to gulp it down (believe it or not), and I'd have to "cut her off!" I noticed her immune system seemed to be missing the daily dose of this sacred food; she came down with several bugs this cold season, whereas before she had had *maybe* one cold. So I have been giving her CLO in a teaspoon of apple butter ( we use the traditionally-crafted fermented CLO from these guys: ). I'm not *sneaking* it - she knows it's in there, she just doesn't mind because of the apple butter. If that's all it takes: bring on the apple butter!

Later edition: Well, after a tiny apple fairy nibbled on the apples over the course of a few days while I got around to draining yogurt for whey, I only ended up with enough apple sauce to make a quart and a half of apple butter! So I can't give you any new information on the recipe. But I did use the recipe sited above. I added cinnamon and a couple cloves to each jar. :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Using Up the Easter Eggs: Make Your Own Gomasio

This is our favorite way to eat hard-cooked eggs out of hand, as we do regularly on plane trips, and now ~ with the Easter eggs we dyed.
Gomasio on a hard-cooked Easter egg
First of all I have to say, to cook pastured eggs so that you get the most out of those gorgeous orange yolks: don't boil the heck out of them.
The way that I was taught was to place the eggs in the pot, covered in water. Bring the water up just barely to a boil. Let it barely-boil for one minute. Then turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let sit for ten minutes. Then cool the eggs with ice and water (or eat). This makes a yolk that is still creamy and a tad soft at the very center. Yum!

On to the Gomasio ~
for one hard-cooked egg
1 tsp+ dulse flakes
1 tsp+ sesame seeds
high quality sea salt
red pepper flakes (optional)
Gomasio on a hard-cooked Easter egg
I mix up about half dulse flakes and half sesame seeds. Then a few pinches of sea salt. And, if using red pepper flakes ~ a pinch. When we fly I put some in a ziplock, and tuck it in with the container of hard-cooked eggs. Some sliced raw cheese* and apples = never settle for airline food again!
At home I put gomasio in one bowl, and a generous drizzle of high quality olive oil (the Bariani farm is only a few miles from our house!) in another, and Anjali has fun dipping from olive oil to gomasio (and back again over and over and over).
Dulse is a tasty introduction to seaweeds. I use dulse flakes in place of some sea salt on my own plate (I love it on eggs!!). Anjali relishes whole strips of dulse as a snack. Dulse's deep purple color is an immediate indicator that it is packed with nutrients ~particularly iron. I love this article by Susun Weed about the benefits and uses of seaweeds.


*sliced for ease of eating, and also: so they won't stop you when you're going through security!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Using Up the CSA Veggies: Hidden-Veggie Egg Scramble

Haha. I'm laughing at myself. I was preparing to share with you all the clever ways I find to use up a generous CSA box. I had taken notes throughout the past week, and had my notebook sitting beside my keyboard, poised.
Then we were sitting down for a Sunday Brunch when I looked over at my voracious-eating husband's plate; the pile of sauteed veggie medley was clumped in the corner, close to cold. I asked him (sincerely) if it was to his liking. He admitted: "I'm really tired of all these vegetables. I know there's only so much you can do with them. When I get to the bottom of my jar of soup [I pack him quart jars of soup to reheat at work], I often have a little pile of veggies just like this. I look at it like this: [he made a forlorn face]." Although I was disappointed at this, I count on him to be honest with me, because: who wants to go their whole life thinking their cooking is well-loved, when actually their loved-one is just fibbing and swallowing it down? I know everyone has their own taste, but I'm the cook for my family, and I want to make food that everyone likes for the most part. Now, Troy is a meat-lover. He definitely falls on the "hunter" end of the hunter-gatherer spectrum. Though I fully embrace my omnivorous nature and love me a charcuterie plate appetizer, I tend towards the "gatherer" category. We balance each other out.

At that moment, I realized I've reached the point that I imagine every cook faces when trying to feed their family well: hiding vegetables. Here's how I did it this morning:

Hidden-Veggie Egg Scramble
three-four meal-sized portions, depending on the appetites of the eaters

butter or other delicious fat for the pan ~ don't be shy
3 smallish carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large stalks of chard, chopped
sea salt to taste

7 pastured eggs
1/3 cup grassfed whole milk or whole yogurt
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
fresh red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

more butter or other delicious fat
1/2 cup grated cheddar or monterey jack

~In a cast iron skillet, I sauteed the veggies till soft ~ starting with the carrots and onions, and adding the chopped chard in the last five or so minutes.
~While that cooked, I lightly mixed the eggs with the dairy and seasoning.
~Then I poured the sauteed vegetables into the egg mixture and used that always-handy immersion blender to puree till frothy. You could, of course, simply use a regular blender.
~I melted the butter on low in the same skillet. Then I poured the egg-veggie mixture in there and scrambled.
~When they were still a tad on the runny side, I sprinkled the melted cheese on top.
~Then I turned off the burner, and put a lid on it.
When the cheese was melted, the eggs were ready.
I served it with Salad Kraut.

With all that melted cheese on top, how was my sweetie to know about all of the veggies that were hidden beneath? ;-) His verdict, after all was eaten: "Delicious; but I could still taste the veggies." Well, yeah, but... I think he might have to get over that. And the verdict of the girl: she ate quite a lot of her little bowlful. My verdict: "Yummy! With the sweetness of carrot."

Just a little suggestion from my family test-kitchen here in April. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Toddler Favorite: Smoothies

I find it challenging ~ both practically and for my ego ~ to cook for a toddler. Something she devours and asks for seconds and thirds of one day is something she might not have any interest in the next time I prepare it. I try not to take it personally or let it frustrate me; it is what it is. But when she does like something more than once, you know I'm writing it down!

Smoothies are one of those items. Like a milkshake with some extra nourishment tucked in, who doesn't like a smoothie? The fun thing about eating the way we do is, you don't have to fake a smile and pretend it's as tasty as it is good for you ~ it is tasty! For kid and adult alike. And so satisfying.

If you're not used to eating full-fat foods, you could definitely take this smoothie by sips and not gulps; it is dense. Pay no heed to the low-fat propaganda! Feed your growing child (and yourself!) real food and reap the rewards of real health. If dairy is a challenge for you, or you don't have access to raw milk, full-fat coconut milk with a little filtered water works deliciously, too.

Last night Anjali, age 2.5, said as she licked her lips from a second serving of this smoothie, "Smoovie's my favorite!" I took note.

Anjali's Favorite Smoothie
enough for several toddler servings which can be kept in the fridge for a day if necessary

3/4 cup raw whole milk from a farm you trust
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 pastured egg yolk
1/3 a ripe banana*
a dash of vanilla
a pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil

~I don't use measurements, but just eyeball quantities as I place all the ingredients except the fats into a wide-mouth pint jar.
~Then I gently melt the butter and coconut oil on low.
~While that's melting I use my immersion blender to mix the ingredients in the jar. (I use my handheld blender almost daily. I found it for $9 at a thrift store, but knowing I use it this much I would be willing to pay much more for the next one ~ hopefully second-hand, as well! ~ when mine finally wears out.)
~With the blender going, I slowly pour the melted fats in and whip till frothy.
Right now I don't add anything frozen. But I bet as the weather warms some frozen fruit will be a welcome addition. You can let your imagination go for additions and variations on this. Cinnamon, carob powder, other fruit, nut butters made from soaked nuts ~ all are fair game.

Anjali and I share this smoothie. It is too heavy for me in the morning, but in the afternoon it is a nice filling snack for that difficult transition time (for me) from afternoon to evening.
Anjali likes it any time of day or night.

*Organic ripe bananas are a non-local treat I have embraced for my daughter now that we shop at a co-op instead of exclusively at farmers' markets. Best to eat them with some good fat; they are really sugary.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fermented: April Veggie Kraut

My assistant is always up for kraut-making. Pounding, stirring, adding the salt, chopping (with very attentive Mommy-supervision!), and of course taste-testing for quality-control. She generally thinks my recipes are too sweet, so she helps me by thinning out the sweet bits before jarring; she's thoughtful that way. ;)

I'm enjoying the weekly culinary challenge that is presented with a CSA. Riverdog Farm sends us a generous bounty of produce every week. My personal goal: to have an empty vegetable drawer when we go pick up our box on Fridays. This means that we eat a lot of fresh veggies, and that we make a lot of ferments! On delivery day, I assess the produce as I sort it into the proper receptacles ~ the fruit bowl, the root drawer, and the crisper drawer in the fridge; I make rough guesses of what I can use for breakfast, what would go great in a soup, what could be eaten raw for salads and snacks, what deserves to be showcased on its own, and what would be yummy in kraut. On Thursday night or Friday morning, what's leftover in the crisper drawer goes to the kraut. For a long time, I only liked cabbage fermented, and disliked it any other way. Lately I've been enjoying it cooked (till soft). So less cabbage is getting dedicated to kraut. But I've also been loving fermented grated carrots, so I've hoarded away at least one every week. Farm-fresh carrots are SO delicious! Instead of winding up forgotten in the back of the drawer until they're limp ~ like grocery store carrots sold in bags tended to in my kitchen, farm-fresh carrots are as sweet as candy simply eaten out-of-hand. They make any meal they touch a flavor treat.

Here's last week's kraut ~ a Springtime rainbow.
One grated carrot
1/4 of a small purple cabbage, shredded
a few red chard stems, sliced
1/2 a pink lady apple left for a day on the cutting board (not from CSA, but still local!), sliced then chopped
1/2 a fennel bulb, chopped
fennel leaves, minced
sea salt

I used some of the pink brine leftover from a Winter kraut of carrots, celeriac, and watermelon radishes, to cover these veggies. In a few days, everything will be pink. I like pink kraut. :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

PBS-KQED video about my friend Eduardo and his bread

Always so proud of what my friends are up to.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Fermented: First Veggie Kraut in Baja

Chopped and jarred in our outdoor camp kitchen in La Ribera, Baja California Sur, Mexico. From veggies procured at the Mercado Organico in Cabo San Lucas. Lovely, eh?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fermented: "Salad Kraut"

A note I sent to Austin at 12:30 am before I flew out the next day (I never stay up that late!):

"Just finished a manic clear-out-the-veggie-drawer-before-leaving-on-a-jetplane batch of kraut. I call it salad kraut because I added a bunch of arugula, and then dill and two kinds of mustard seed. Feels fresh and Spring-heralding. : ) Cabbage, carrot, cauliflower and romanesco plus their leaves, and celeriac. Wish it luck!"
The April assessment of this kraut: "One of my favorites," says Sealion! He likes the addition of the traditional pickling spices. The arugula, which I left whole on the stalk, is particularly "pickly" tasting. A success!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Citrus Season ~ citrus drinks

Here in Sacramento, the sidewalks are lined with large orange trees that litter the ground with ripe fruit. It's overly abundant. For the past month we have received a several-pound bag of oranges in our CSA box ~ many tiny mandarins, and a few larger navels each week. Our good friends down the street have a lemon tree that is equally generous with its bounty. So we have lots of citrus to gratefully utilize!
What have we done with all this? Fresh-squeezed orange juice for Sunday brunch (so luxurious), orange juice-infused black bean chili (yum), frozen "Sunshine Squares", warm tea, and my own rendition of a rejuvenating natural electrolyte drink!

Today I'd like to share the last two with you ~ simple and nourishing ways to use citrus in beverages. Orange juice is much too sweet to drink every day ~ especially for breakfast. Talk about a way to spike out your blood sugar! And pasteurized juices lack so much of what makes oranges good for us ~ all the enzymes and much of the vitamins. So here are a couple ideas for enjoying the flavor and sweetness of oranges in a milder and whole way. Water and juice ~ it's how you dress them up that they serve different purposes equally well.

Orange Spice Tea
Fill your cup most of the way with close-to-boiling filtered water. Keep it cool enough that you can almost-comfortably stick your finger in it ~ to preserve the raw goodness of the citrus.

Squeeze the juice of 1 orange,
and 1 slice of lemon into your cup.
Add 2 tsp ginger powder, and
1/4 tsp cinnamon.
Sweeten with honey if you like.
Wrap your hands around the mug, snuggle up in a blanket, and thank Mother Nature that she had the intriguing creativity to make citrus season in the middle of winter. :)

All-Natural, All-Good Electrolyte Drink
I came up with this drink in the heat of Baja. I used limon, which is ubiquitous and delicious there, but I substitute lemon up here in Northern California. In Baja, it was just what the intense sun directed. In rainy season Sacramento, it's a satisfying post-work out drink.

1 glass of room-temperature filtered water
The juice of half an orange
The juice of one limon, or 1 slice of lemon
a generous pinch of quality sea salt.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Another Sunday Sourdough

Another loaf using freshly-milled organic spelt, tons of sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds, and a dripping serving spoon of Kentucky-made sorghum molasses. Oh - and lots of butter.

I might have a weekly routine going; I've managed to bake sourdough for the past three Sundays in a row. With the non-existent weekly schedule in our house (I'm at home, and my husband's schedule changes monthly, and randomly switches from day- to night- to evening-shifts), this feels solid and comforting.
I'm so happy with the strides I've made with whole grain sourdough lately. The last two batches have been downright delicious - not even very sour, though I'm not sure why, considering I'm using the same starter and general recipe.
I have settled into using The Tassajara Bread Book's guidelines for making sourdough. Hilariously (because I rarely follow recipes that closely), the closer I follow the recipe, the better the bread turns out! ;) He knows his stuff.
I have been kneading in copious amounts of seeds - sprouted sunflower, sesame, and flax - inspired by a loaf we loved in Baja Sur that Woo and Miles found at the Saturday organic farmers' market in San Jose del Cabo. (I know; how awesome that there's an organic market there!) Although I doubt that those bakers added quite the amount of butter that I'm also loading into this loaf. I look forward to the opportunity to share this bread with Woo, a passionate bread-lover, to hear her response. :)
One thing that is so hard for me to relearn, after my background in packaged-yeast bread baking, is how soft the dough needs to be in order to rise; mine are still not rising much. But they certainly are damn tasty.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday morning sourdough

This one didn't rise overnight quite like I would've liked, but it still tasted great fresh outta the oven with butter and sorghum. Yum!

Friday, January 21, 2011

And the marmalade

Recipe from Nourishing Traditions, using Satsuma mandarins and navels from Gold Oak Ranch supplied by the bag in our CSA from Riverdog Farm. :)

Stoking the home fires

I was gone essentially for three weeks - family in Florida, friends (and more family) in Kentucky, then life adventure in Baja Sur, Mexico. When I got back to Sacramento, I had some work to do to get our kitchen back in production.
What have I been doing?
-Made a batch of chicken bone broth immediately. Jarred and froze for later use.
-Made another batch of broth with mixed bones that had collected in a bag in the freezer, and then in the last hours added a potful of aromatic veggie stems - carrot stubs, onion tips, leek leaves, etc. - that I had also been collecting in the freezer. I jarred this flavorful mix in tiny 1/2 pint jelly jars to use in sauces.
-I bottled the 1/2 gallon of beet kvass that had been brewing patiently in my absence, and added preserved lemon to each bottle! I think I'll like this!
-Anjali and I made a quart of sauerkraut from CSA veggies that I had set aside for this purpose weeks ago. Napa cabbage, cauliflower, red-centered "watermelon" daikon radish, and carrot. I then poured the garlicky brine I saved from a previous batch overtop of it. We ate the first forkfuls last night with dinner.
-Brought the sourdough starter out of hibernation in the fridge, ground some fresh spelt flour, mixed it in with water, and set it up to bubble on the back of the stove. It'll be ready for a loaf tonight! :)
-Made, jarred, and froze quart jars of soup (from CSA veggies and bone broth) for Troy's lunches.

I love all these little projects. I love the bubbling crocks, and the pot constantly simmering on low on the back burner. I love that I have oranges set out next to a cookbook on the cutting board in preparation for marmalade, and bananas ripening for Anjali's favorite of late: "Fozen Mananas" (bananas pureed with melted butter and coconut oil, and then frozen and cut into chunks). I feel so lucky to have these as my day-to-day.
If I could finally get through the dirty dishes and see my way to the countertop, I'd be one totally content kitchen goddess! ;)

This blog post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays!

Deciphering Meat Labels

(whew! Been gone awhile!)
Here(down the page a ways) is a helpful article explaining all the various labels on meat these days, from the folks at CUESA.
Bottom line, as always, if you want to trust that the food you feed your family is all it claims to be - especially animal products! - get to know the people who grew/raised it.