Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Dinner with Friends

My contributions:

Steamed green beans tossed with ample sea salt and butter then topped with crispy shallots

Sweet potato puree (made with lemon rind and juice, and egg yolks, and butter)

Roasted turkey breast with gravy and stuffing (onion, sourdough bread crumbs, celery, spices, sauteed in butter)

Pumpkin Pie (with Rapadura to sweeten, and creme fraiche to thicken)

Pear-Cranberry Pie (with maple syrup to sweeten)


Their contributions:

Spiral ham

Garlic-mashed potatoes

Green salad

Asparagus spears

Fruit and cheese platter


My schedule:

11:15 Bring water to boil

11:30 Boil sweet potatoes

12:00 Peel sweet potatoes and blend with butter, egg yolk, lemon peel and juice, salt, and butter

12:15 Bake sweet potato puree for 30 min on 350

12:30 Prep turkey breast atop sliced onions in dutch oven

1:00 Put turkey in the oven, 1 hr at 375

1:15 Wash, de-string, and process green beans to be "frenched"

1:30 Make pie dough

2:00 Flip turkey breast to breast side up, baste with butter, salt and pepper, and bake another hour at 375.

2:15 Slowly brown shallots

2:30 Saute stuffing fixtures

2:45 Prepare cranberry pie filling and pumpkin pie filling (I had previously baked and pureed sugar pumpkins and froze)

3:00 Remove turkey from oven and dutch oven, and use juices to prepare gravy (add a little wine to loosen onions, add stock, and boil, boil, boil)

3:15 Steam beans, toss with butter, top with shallots

3:30 Strain gravy

3:45 Pack everything into car

4:00 Arrive, assemble, and bake pies during dinner

Monday, December 8, 2008

Finally a new lunch request!



Somehow sprouted tuna pita pockets have become the latest lunch favorite (seen here with cheese, carrot sticks, apple slices, and some canned clams at the top right of the plate).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Saturday in December

Today in my kitchen I:

Made oatmeal porridge for breakfast and husband's latte.

Strained the cold water extract.

Lunched out of the house on bagels with salmon cream cheese.

Snacked on bread with butter, apples, oranges and carrots.

Defrosted beef and tomato sauce to make a meat sauce and added my leftover rice in lieu of pasta. Served with a salad and slice of buttered bread, and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

Soaked flour for pancakes tomorrow.

Fed the new sourdough starter.

Soaked garbanzo beans for hummus making.

Friday, December 5, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Friday in December

Today in my kitchen I:

Made our oatmeal porridge and husband's latte.

Had leftover salmon salad and - wait for it - bread with butter, apple slices and cheese.

Snacked on oranges.

Made burgers patties from the previously marinated beef (marinated in a mix of olive oil, balsamic, and raw apple cider vinegar). Served them with butter-sauted cabbage, steamed kale, and full slices of Parmesan cheese. Chopped an accompanying salad with balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette, and re-heated the pea-rib-roast soup on the side. (My camera decided to run out of batteries, and we had company again for dinner, so my apologies for the lack of photo!)

Dessert was apples.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Fed the new sourdough starter.

Soaked coffee for a new supply of cold water extract.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Thursday in December

Today in my kitchen I:

Made oatmeal porridge and husband's latte for breakfast.

Soaked split peas for the evening meal.

Had bread and butter again for lunch with some apple slices (you'd think I was neglecting these kids, but they have been requesting it this week and won't have anything else. Probably because I am not yet baking our own bread, so they are eating store bough "health" varieties that are pretty much the equivalent of cake for them).

Defrosted and began marinating ground beef for burgers tomorrow.

Snacked on crispy hazelnuts.

Started a new batch of kombucha.

Made a split pea soup and added chopped-up, leftover rib roast. Enjoyed with raw cheese.

Fed the new sourdough starter.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Wednesday in December

Today in my kitchen I:

Made our strawberries and cream porridge and husband's latte.

Soaked rice for dinner.

Lunched on buttered bread, cheese, and pear slices.

Snacked on licorice treats.

Cooked rice, baked Salmon, and chopped a simple, two onion salad with apple-cider vinaigrette for dinner.

Nibbled some chocolate for dessert.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Began a new sourdough starter (after a bit of an adventure, with the help of a friend, to find a source of bulk filtered water!).

Started a new batch of beet kvass.

Bite-size Steps to a Nutrient-Dense Diet

I have received a few emails and questions about how to transition to a nutrient-dense diet. This has sparked me to present a "12-steps" for food. Even in my own process, there have been gradual steps toward better health. Some things were immediate (removal of sugar), but some things took longer (brewing my own Kombucha). All of my research and instruction into nutrient-dense food has come from the book Nourishing Traditions and the website provided by the Weston A Price Foundation.

Here are my suggestions:

1 - Remove all refined sugar (replace with raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, stevia powder, Rapadura) and refined flours (most importantly white). Replace with soured or sprouted grains.

2 - Switch to raw milk. If this is not feasible, at least switch to organic, non-homogenized whole milk.

3 - Switch to soaked oats for most breakfasts. This will teach you about lacto-fermentation, as well as get you gradually weaned onto soured food, if you are not already.

4 - Make your own salad dressings (use raw products as much as possible. Make Caesar's once a week as they contain raw egg yolks and anchovies, which are both very nutritious)

5 - Make your own broth, and get in the habit regularly making broth/stock so that you can incorporate more soups and gravies into your meal plans.

6 - Learn to marinate and plan to slow roast your meats so that you can purchase the more economical cuts, and then upgrade to pasture-fed, organic with your savings. For the higher quality cuts (chops, steaks, etc) transition yourself to eating them rare.

7 - Brew some Kombucha. It may seems scary, but the "work" is quick and then it takes care of itself.

8 - Begin making your own bread. No sugars, no preservatives, no glue additives, etc. If you are not ready for traditional sourdough yet, there are other "compromise" breads that would still be steps in the right direction.

9 - Try making your own sauerkraut. This is a great next step in lacto-fermentation. Sauerkraut is a great condiment, and a small amount each day is wonderful for your gut. This is a good baby step towards experimenting with other lacto-fermented veggies and salsas as well.

10 - Make and culture your own dairy products! The easiest is probably creme fraiche. After you try this (and LOVE how delicious and cheap it is) try making your own yogurt. If you are daring, try cheese. Make your own ice cream, and load it up with raw egg yolks, and raw cream if you can.

11 - Incorporate liver (I know! Gasp!). The easiest way for us is grating it (frozen), or finely chopping it into gravies.

12 - Take a look at what else you buy "pre-made" at the store. Condiments? Crackers? Snacks? Dive in and learn to make it yourself.

Everything can be made from whole foods. Pretty soon you will have no need to walk down the store isles, as all of your purchases (if you do not get food direct from farms or through a company like Azure Standard) will be on the exterior walls.

I plan to focus on one of these "steps" each month with recipes and how-to's, though it may not be in this order.

Questions and comments are welcome as always!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Tuesday in December

Today in my kitchen I:

Made breakfast porridge and husband's latte.

Served bread and butter and leftover turkey for lunch.

Snacked on a pear and some licorice bites.

Made ice cream.

Roasted a chicken and some red potatoes for dinner and served them with Caesar, green salad, steamed and seasoned broccoli, and some thick turkey/chicken gravy and creme fraiche (though not pictured) to some dear friends who joined us for dinner and brought cheese and wine.

Enjoyed ice cream and dialog for dessert.

Soaked the oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

**A note to an astute follower: Yes, the chicken skin is beyond crispy. I am still adjusting to the oven in our new place, and it is not even, and tends towards hotter than the temperature control reports. As for the burnt shallots in yesterday's photo...that was just a very badly timed, but very necessary diaper change.**

Monday, December 1, 2008

Food for Thought: Investments

Good eggs (by good I mean fresh with orange yolks and good integrity between the membranes) at market or from the store cost you $4 to $5 a dozen. Actually, I have never found eggs at the grocery store I consider "good" by the above description. I have seen "good" eggs for $5 a dozen at the farmer's market, or usually from $3-$5 direct from a farm (and then you have to factor in drive time, etc).

A good laying hen costs you $2-$5 and lays 4-7 eggs a week - less in the winter, more in the summer. Let's say roughly 20 dozen eggs per year, per bird. So, 3 birds would more than supply a dozen a week, and 4 birds would have you set (assuming you are a practicing omnivore and eggs are not your primary source of protein).

From what I can gather, 3-4 hens will need, in addition to free range and food scraps, 50 pounds of feed every 3-4 months. It seems a bag of feed is somewhere between $12-$15 dollars. I imagine it would be cheaper if you bought bulk single grains and mixed them yourself.

Let's price it on the upper end: $20 for four birds, $60 for a year's feed, say another $30 for treats, bedding, etc. That makes $110 for 80 dozen eggs, or $1.38 per dozen. The sites I looked at priced the dozens higher based on additional costs which made it more like $2.40 a dozen (um...still cheap!). Of course, there is the start-up cost of building them some sort of roost and run, the costs of which will vary depending on how much you want to find/reclaim and do yourself. So the first years might not be a savings if you wanted to "go all out" and build a beautiful hen house and buy expensive retail feed.

It seems to me that excessive grain costs are silly, as free-ranging hens would really be eating bugs and scraps from your own table. Can you buy bugs to feed hens? I do not know. I also read of additional costs if you raise the chicks with heat lamps yourself. I know that animal rescue centers and Craigslist offer full-grown laying hens for $4-$5 a hen. Then there is no concern about chicks dying, nor accidentally getting a rooster, as well as no additional costs of raising and feeding animals who are not laying.

I do not think there would be such a strong urban chicken movement if there were not cost incentives, so it seems to me backyard chicken farming is a good investment.

Thoughts? Corrections? I am just looking into the idea of urban chickens and do not claim any level of expertise here.

In My Kitchen: A Monday in December

Today in my kitchen I:

Made breakfast porridge, again with strawberries and cream, and husband's latte.

Made a honey steamer as a treat for my eldest.

Scrambled eggs for lunch. (I am not back in my bread-making cycle yet, and bought the best, $4.50 loaf I could find hoping for left-over turkey sandwiches, only to bring the load home home and find the top completely molded over. Yuck. More reason to avoid the grocery store. I can make fresh and nutritionally superior bread for $1 a loaf!)

Snacked on nuts and licorice.

Made leftover-turkey salad with Dijon-anchovie vinaigrette topped with crispy shallots for dinner and butternut squash on the side.

Snacked on a well buttered sprouted wheat roll (we went back to the store, returned the spoiled loaf, and found the sprouted "peace bomb" to try from Dave's Killer Bread - I do still wish I was making my own already!) and chocolate.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

In My Kitchen: A Sunday nearly in December




Today in my kitchen I:

Made breakfast porridge with strawberries and cream and a latte for Husband.

Brought home lunch from Cafe Yumm (not WAPF approved, but a whole lot better than fast food).

Snacked on carrots and pears.

Prepared a rib roast, served over onions compote, alongside baked potatoes, and a balsamic-vinaigrette salad.

Finished a large batch of turkey broth.

Snacked on crispy hazelnuts.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Prepare To Eat is Back!

You have my apologies for skipping November. A food blog that skips Thanksgiving ought to be fired. However, we very suddenly decided to move a couple hours south and there was too much going on to even cook decently, let alone blog about it. We moved two days before Thanksgiving and were blessed to be a part of a lovely celebration where I did not have to cook a thing! That said, I am already plotting for next year's menu. Hopefully Christmas dinner will make up for it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Husband's Favorites

Dinner:


Dessert:


The comforts of the season!

Friday, October 24, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Friday in October

Today in my kitchen, I:

Made oatmeal porridge for breakfast with cinnamon, butter, and applesauce.

Made tuna sandwiches for lunch with carrot sticks.

Defrosted ground beef and tomato sauce from the freezer.

Started a new batch of Kombucha.

Made spaghetti sauce and pasta noodles (Ah! total compromise here, but I was leaving for a night off learning to hand sew dolls) along with a salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked coffee grounds for cold water extract.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Thursday in October

In my kitchen today, I:

Made oatmeal porridge for breakfast.

Made husband's latte.

Made PB-Honey sandwiches for lunch with liberty apples.

Snacked on leftover chicken salad.

Made a sauteed leek and fried potato dish with fried eggs on top for dinner (I am in desperate need of a grocery store trip...perhaps tonight. This is the off week for our grocery deliveries, and my pantry feels it).

Soaked flour in yogurt for pizza dough for tomorrow's dinner. (I realized that I had no butter - see above mention of desperately needing to go to the store)

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Wednesday in October

Today in my kitchen, I:

Grabbed banana's and downed some milk on the way out the door to adventures before the milk adventure.

Served the boys goat milk yogurt and raisins for lunch (with a touch of maple syrup to take the edge off the extra sourness) with a little Liberty apple each.

Made myself oatmeal porridge with applesauce, butter, cinnamon and raisins.

Made a chunky chicken salad for dinner (I added chopped cold baked potatoes, for some reason whenever I do this, my husband loves to eat salad), with bread on the side.

Gave the boys applesauce for dessert.

Enjoyed vanilla ice cream topped with warm applesauce for dessert with Husband.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Tuesday in October

Today in my kitchen, I:

(perhaps it should be noted that every morning starts with a banana for us all, and a glass of real milk before we make official breakfast. There is also, typically, a mug of milk with every meal)

Made scrambled eggs with bread and butter for breakfast.

Made PB-Honey for lunch again with carrot sticks on the side.

Reheated Enchilada's for dinner (I love a meal that can extend itself for several days if need be).

Made vanilla ice cream and enjoyed it for dessert!

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked the oats for tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Monday in October

Today in my kitchen, I:

Made oatmeal porridge for breakfast.

Made fresh squeezed orange juice for us all.

Made husband's latte

Made "peanut-butter-honey-bites" for lunch with grapes and our homemade fromage blanc.

Soaked rice.

Made salmon, rice, and an "everything salad" for dinner along with re-heated potato-onion soup and hearty sour dough bread and butter. [I really meant to take a picture, but we had one of my highschool friends who was in town (yea for Facebook) over for dinner and I got sidetracked.]

Fed the sourdough mother.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Sunday in October

Today in my kitchen, I:

Put the loaves in the oven to bake.

Poured off the whey and stored the yogurt (nice and thick!).

Strained and hung the cheese to drip out the remaining whey.

Made oatmeal porridge for breakfast with fresh squeezed orange juice.

Made husband's morning latte.

Packed some freshly baked bread to share with our home church where we stayed for lunch.

Snacked on apples.

Reheated enchiladas for dinner with remaining guacamole and creme fraiche.

Enjoyed delicious grapes for dessert.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Set oats to soak for tomorrow's porridge.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Saturday in October

In my kitchen today I,

Made scrambled eggs for breakfast served with bananas and milk.

Made a sample platter of crackers, fruit, and tuna salad for lunch.

Roasted a chicken, set aside meat, made gravy and froze it for later.

Made green enchilada sauce.

Made chicken enchilada's and guacamole, and served them for dinner alongside creme fraiche and our homemade salsa.

Enjoyed blackberry, goat milk, ice cream for dessert.

Began culturing goat milk yogurt and set in warm oven overnight.

Began culturing goat milk fromage blanc and left for overnight.

Prepared the sourdough loaves and set to rise overnight.

Soaked the oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Food for Thought: Eggs


On the left: An egg from chickens I know who forage in a field with some goats and snack, in part, on scraps from my own kitchen.
On the right: The most ridiculously expensive eggs I could buy at WholeFoods, they are "Free-Range, Organic, Certified Humane, with No Hormones nor Antibiotics," yadda, yadda, yadda.

Color speaks.

Also interesting was that the left egg was actually smaller and yet the yolk is slightly larger. I wish that I could add a "normal" egg from a $1.25 a dozen box from Albertson's to really drive home the point, but you'll just have to imagine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brillante Weblog Award

To my surprise Prepare To Eat has been nominated for another blog award!

Many thanks to Daja at In Other Words, who is perhaps a long lost twin of mine, loving food and theology, while staying at home to mother many kids (she's got a good head start on us). Someday I do hope to actually feed her rather than just make her drool over my pictures. You might enjoy visiting her food blog as well.

The rules are as follows:

1. The winner can (and should, really) put the logo on his/her blog
2. The winner must link to the person from whom they received their award.
3. The winner must nominate at least 7 other blogs for an award.
4. The winner must place links to those blogs on their own blog.
5. The winner must leave a message on the blogs of the people they’ve nominated.

My nominations are for the following blog sites:

1. Leah at Just Like Camping. She is brilliantly hilarious in providing regular contests for things like guessing all 15 ingredients in a soup she just whipped up.

2. Maria at Living [Frugally] Well. There is no more brilliant idea than complete financial transparency as a motivator to live wiser, more frugally, and get out of debt.

3. Summer at A Shot in the Dark. She is unknowingly brilliant, and that is a beautiful thing. She finds large gems of truth from behind the camera, and most especially when it is pointed at herself. This is a private blog, but she'll likely let you in =)

4. Andy at Heroic Science. Saving science through music: Brilliant!

5. Deanna at Stories Glimmer. Tired of an old blog, brilliant to start fresh, and brilliant to let us in on so much of a published author's writing process.

6. Cherie at Cause I Believe In You. She's not afraid to share the moments of brilliance as they come to her, whatever the source.

7. Tucker at Pilgrim Akimbo. This brilliantly titled blog is apt to keep your list of things-to-think-more-about long as he shares brilliant insights from life and cinema.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Food Art

Butter melts in olive oil:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When I first started cooking, I would use the whole head of lettuce every time I would make a salad - even a side salad to complement dinner. Then it changed to a half. Now it is closer to a quarter. My husband and sons do not eat as large a portion of salad as I do, and smaller portions mean more salad through the week for everyone, and less waste sent to the chickens.

I also have learned to let go of my perceived need to make a completely new meal every night of the week in order to be a good cook. Instead, I keep part of it to re-use for the next night, or later in the week. I plan for leftovers. My dinner responsibilities are easier and we have the flexibility to invite someone over for dinner any night of the week as I am always making a bit more than we'll eat that night.

Tuesday "Quiche, Soup, and Salad Night"


The leftovers become cold quiche for lunch Wednesday, and soup on the side of dinner (yes, that is right, I actually made dinner on a Wednesday and for 2 weeks in a row no less!).

Then the leftover chicken can go into sandwiches, enchiladas, and salads for the rest of the week.

Recycling a skeletal meal plan (e.g. Tuesday = Quiche, Soup, Salad) also makes dinner easier. I am currently working on a skeleton meal plan to share, some examples of how we fill it in, as well as a document where you can keep track of your own fleshed out plan.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Healthy Desserts: Carob Treats

I made my first batch of carob chips. It was so easy that I cannot believe I had not tried this recipe before now (also, of course, from Nourishing Traditions).

Carob Chips
makes 1 cup

3/4 cup carob powder
1 cup Coconut oil
1/4 cup Rapadura
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Chocolate Extract

Mix together in a glass container in simmering water until well combined.
Pour out onto a parchment paper lined sheet (or just parchment paper - I fold up the sides to contain liquids) and refrigerate overnight.
Break into pieces, store in refrigerator (coconut oil is completely liquid by 75 degrees)


A wonderful use of carob chips is to melt them back down and pour over ice cream. The primary use in our house is for a dessert recipe I created inspired from an EveryDay Food magazine (Jan/Feb 07 "molten mocha cakes"). My husband actually requests this treat regularly.

Molten Carob Cake (gluten-free)
Serves 2
Prep 10 minutes, total time 35 minutes

2 tablespoons butter
2 ounces carob chips (as in above recipe, store bought if you must - though I can make no guarantees on the gluten-free)
1/3 cup Rapadura
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp finely ground espresso (grind #1) [ you can also use a mortar and pestle on regularly ground coffee]
sprinkle salt
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder (plus more for dusting - if you want to be fancy, add a smidgen of stevia to the dusting arrowroot powder)

Preheat oven to 400. Butter two 6 ounce ramekins with butter and dust with arrowroot powder.

Gently melt butter and carob chips together, then remove from heat. [If you do not make your own carob chips, then add a tsp vanilla extract and a tsp chocolate extract]

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, rapadura, espresso powder, and salt. Add carob mixture, whisk to combine. Add arrowroot powder until just combined (do not over mix).

Pour batter into prepared ramekins. (Carob cakes can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated, just adjust bake time to 14-15 minutes depending on carob - coconut version takes longer than store bought)

Bake until toothpick comes out clean 1/2 inch from the edge of ramekins, and toothpick in the center comes out wet, 10-11 minutes (again, depending on carob). Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run knife around inside of ramekins to loosen. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with arrowroot powder; serve immediately. For fun or special occasion, cut a heart out of the center of the parchment paper and sprinkle a heart onto the cakes.

If you want to double or triple this recipe for a bigger cake, just add 3 minutes or so to baking time - test by toothpick. [I should note that I have never tried this part!]

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tomato Harvest: Salsa!


5 quarts of salsa fermenting on my counter top!

Oh the wonder and versatility of the tomato.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tomato Harvest: Sauce!

Tuesday our abundance (42!) of heirloom tomatoes were transformed into sauce.

First they were submerged in boiling water for 20 seconds each:


Followed by an ice bath:


Then they were skinned:


Then juiced (note: do not juice 42 tomatoes with your bare hands if you have a cut on your finger):


Then reduced by a third with sauteed onions:


After reduction, basil, salt and pepper join the fun:


And sit to amalgamate for a while:


After which the sauce was pureed and scooped into bags for freezer storage (since I still lack the know-how, and lids, for jarring):


42 Heirlooms produced roughly 37 cups of sauce - which would cover about 37 pizzas, or 11 eggplant-squash lasagnas, or...only time will tell what other crafty concoctions this sauce will bless. In the mean time it has already covered two pizzas for a dinner with friends (I meant to take pictures, but we devoured them too quickly), and is now roughing it out in the freezer.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Monday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Enjoyed bananas in the early morning with the boys.

Made our oatmeal porridge with applesauce, cinnamon, butter, and raisins.

Made peanut-butter-honey-sandwiches with apples for lunch while my husband snacked on chicken and chips.

Chopped up lots of basil in preparation of tomorrow's sauce making.

Made chicken-enchiladas with rice for dinner topped with "little beauties", avocado, and yogurt (in lieu of creme fraiche).

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Soaked flour for pizza dough for tomorrow's dinner.

Soaked coarsely ground coffee for husband's cold-water-extract.

Started a new batch of beet Kvass.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Farm Bounty: Tomatoes

We spent the day at the farm in the midst of tomato harvesting. It is time for sauces, pastes, and salsas. The visit provided bounty (it almost seems we should call it booty!) to bring home and preserve for our own winter supplies.


Heirlooms waiting to be made into sauce.


"Little beauties" as my 3-yr-old lovingly calls them when asking for another.
Oh the joy of tomatoes on EVERYTHING for the next week.


Plenty of Romas to make some salsa for ourselves.

Chèvre: Review and Opportunity

Technically speaking, "chèvre" just means goat in French, so all the cheese that Quail Run Creamery produces is chèvre. However, it is the soft, creamy goat cheese that earns the title Chèvre.

We were lucky enough to come home with a little tub of herbed chèvre today from the farm. Chèvre has a much shorter shelf-life than hard cheeses (two weeks). I have used plain or herbed chèvre in everything from quiche, to salad, to dressings, to cracker and sandwich spreads. With so many uses, it is unlikely you will see your chèvre through to its "use by" date.

Scott, the Quail Run Creamery Cheese-maker extraordinaire, is offering a class on making chèvre November 1st at Kookoolan Farms. The promo for the class is as follows:

"Saturday Nov 1, we are offering a basic soft cheesemaking class. This is a perfect introductory class for the hobby cheesemaker or anyone interested in how cheeses are made. During the class, several demonstration cheeses will be made from both goat milk and cow milk, and we'll talk about how to flavor cheeses with herbs, vegetables, and fruits, and how to use soft cheeses in recipes. The instructor is local cheesemaker Scott Catino of Gaston, Oregon, who is about to launch his own brand, Quail Run Creamery. Scott (who prefers to use his cheesemaker name 'Dominic' when he's making cheese) makes the best chevre I have ever tasted, and he’s very personable and a great teacher as well (in his day job he teaches Technology at Gaston High School). The cheese tasting will feature three of his absolutely outstanding cheese varieties, plus local and imported goat cheeses, soft cheeses, and hard cheeses. "

For those who cannot wait for Quail Run Creamery to open for business, this might be a good sneak peak (and more importantly, taste!)

In My Kitchen: A Sunday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made banana pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Came home from a day at the farm spent foraging, making salsa, and sampling cheeses, to then forage for leftovers to polish off before the boys crashed into bed. Everyone's meal included crackers and herb-chevre from the farm.

Snacked on leftover salad, and dried plums.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked tomorrow's oats.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Saturday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Buttered bread and had milk for first breakfast with Soren while we waited for everyone else to wake.

Made pancakes and tea for second breakfast.

Made peanut-butter, butter, and raw honey sandwiches with left-over cilantro-celery salad for lunch. Reheated lamb shanks and potatoes for husband's lunch.

Soaked rice for dinner.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Made salmon and rice for dinner with broccoli and salad on the side.

Enjoyed applesauce for dessert.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Friday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made the oatmeal porridge.

Made bread and fed the new sourdough mother.

Ate chicken and cheese for lunch (waiting for the bread for proper sandwiches).

Continued dehydrating crackers.

Snacked on Ak Mak (sesame crackers - available at the store) with butter.

Made lamb shanks with sauce, potatoes, and a cilantro-celery salad for dinner.

Made ice cream.

Enjoyed ice cream with the boys for family movie night.

Baked bread.

Soaked flour in yogurt for Saturday pancakes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Thursday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made our oatmeal porridge for breakfast with butter, leftover pear-plum-apple sauce, and raisins.

Ate more quiche and lamb for lunch.

Snacked on dried plums.

Processed and formed the cracker grains and set them to dehydrate.

Concocted a meal from what was on hand: rice, ground beef, carrot, basil, garlic, wine and beef stock, topped with cilantro, green onions, and Yamhill. I am not sure if I can call it dinner, but there it was.

Marinated Lamb shanks in wine for tomorrow's dinner.

Popped and ate popcorn.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow.

In My Kitchen: A Wednesday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made our oatmeal porridge.

Refilled the beet kvass sediment with water and let sit again to make the second, less potent, batch.

Enjoyed leftover quiche for lunch.

Rinsed and replenished water on the cracker grains.

Snacked on chicken, lamb, and cheese for dinner (as I have previously explained, dinner is hit and miss on Wednesday's because of this little endeavor).

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Enjoyed ice cream for dessert.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Tuesday in September


Today in my kitchen I:

Made our morning oatmeal porridge with butter, cinnamon, raisins, and peaches.

Started a new batch of Kombucha.

Enjoyed yogurt and banana's for lunch with the boys, while husband enjoyed left over leg of lamb.

Soaked wheat berries and sesame seeds for crackers.

Made pie dough for crust, and extra for next time to put in the freezer.

Made an onion, spinach, green bean, chevre (soft goat cheese) quiche for dinner with a side salad topped with balsamic-creme-fraiche vinaigrette.

Finished the chicken broth and pulled apart the meat to save.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked the oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Enjoyed ice cream for dessert.

Kvass: A Crash Course

Kvass translates literally as "leavened". When you speak of kvass, most (who have ever heard of kvass) will think of kvass made from bread (which I have yet to try...but now that we're talking about it I might have to give it a go and provide a photo-how-to for everyone).

Kvass is a "leftover" for traditional bakers, but what a leftover it is! Kvasses are extremely beneficial to the gut, and the gut is the center of health for your whole body. Kvasses protect against infectious diseases, boost the immune system, are more hydrating to the body, and are all together fun and fizzy to drink.

Kombucha is a tea kvass. You know my thoughts on kombucha.

Beet Kvass is a tonic, more than a beverage (unlike a bread kvass, which, as I understand it, is quite tasty). That is because beets are so nutrient dense. Here is what Nourishing Traditions has to say about Beet Kvass (pg 610):

"This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments. Beet Kvass may also be used in place of vinegar in salad dressings and as an addition to soups."

Additionally, beet kvass is being used as cancer therapy in Europe as it seems to have favorable effect on disturbed cellular function. Many studies have shown that beets have a regenerating effect on the body (paraphrasing Annelies Schoneck Des Crudites Toute L'Annee, from the side bar on the Beet Kvass Recipe page in N.T.)

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) provides a great article on Kvass and Kombucha here.

Why might I make such a beverage? My husband is a recovering Normal American, and at 40, like many others, he is experiencing the cost of all that "refined" eating. For him, it is ulcerative colitis (this article by wiki is obviously of the conventional medicine mindset as it doesn't think there is a connection to diet! Ha! But it explains well what the symptoms are, for a better analysis of digestive health and problems, see this WAPF article). Beet kvass is a part of his medicine, along with a "no refined foods allowed" policy that he likes to compromise on a weekly basis that sends us back into acute colitis issues. This cycle is slowly goading him toward permanent change. I am proud of my husband, he has done amazingly well at choosing health and making dramatic changes to his pre-marriage lifestyle and diet, but his body wants more, and I don't want to be a young widow!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn comes to the Kitchen

Apples and Pears and late Plums prepare for Applesauce:


Fresh, local Beets make a potent Kvass:


Early Carrots and Parsnips make for a very comforting Soup:


One of my personal favorites, in-season Brussels Sprouts on the side are what finally convince me that Fall has arrived:

Autumn Solstice Feast

I tried preparing my first Leg of Lamb last night, and it was delicious.
In my excitement we ended up with a 5-course meal...but no complaints here.



Clockwise from top:
Butternut squash with butter and raw honey,
Butter sauteed Brussels sprouts with plenty of sea salt,
Med-rare roasted leg of lamb with Dijon gravy,
Roasted red potatoes also with gravy,
Red butter lettuce salad with apple-cider, Dijon, vinaigrette

Also exciting is the leftovers I will get to try in another new recipe for "leftover leg-of-lamb soup". Oh, how I love food. I am thinking that soup might be a good place to add some more Yamhill cheese.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Catering: My Sister's Wedding - Report


Me and my sisters

A couple things to remember for catering in the future:

1 - Don't cater an event you want to attend (especially if you are supposed to be in photographs).

2 - Don't cater an event from out of town.

That said, I would do it all again for my sister and new brother. I think it was a success, and we had ample food, as I was given the head count for the invited number rather than the rsvp'd number. I do not think anyone minded the left-overs.

Once in the kitchen on location, I realized I had left the gravlox at home in my refrigerator, and had brought a yogurt container half-full of yogurt, rather than a yogurt container stuffed-full of Bok Choy leaves to add to the gravy. These details were not much missed.

I was incredibly blessed to have some wonderful volunteers helping in the kitchen, and most notably, this lovely lady on the left:



It was not only tremendously helpful to have help, but it was also a joy to see so many friends supporting my sister and brother-in-law on their special day.

I was not able to document the process, or the finished results in the way I had hoped, but I know that the photographer took some shots of the banquet table, so I do hope to have something to share soon.

In the mean time, I did take pictures of the homemade, live crackers that were a huge success (so much so that my husband asked if I could start making him some - so I have a new batch in process right now), and SO simple.

This recipie is from Nourishing Traditions:

3 cups soft wheat berries
1/4 cup non-irradiated sesame seeds (I used half black half white, and you can also use caraway seeds)
filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup raisins or currents (optional - I did use them; it lends a little more sweetness)

Place wheat and seeds in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Cover and leave in a warm, dark place 24-hours. Pour out water, replenish, leave for another 24-hours.
Test berries by pinching. If still hard, pour out, replenish, and leave for another 24-hours (mine were soft after 48 hours and did not require another day of soaking - this probably depends on the weather conditions).
Pour off excess water, transfer berries with slotted spoon to food processor, and process with salt until smooth. Add optional raisins or currents and pulse a few times.

Then for crackers, brush stainless steel baking sheets with olive oil or butter, and use a rolling pin to flatten dough into thin sheets on the pans. Bake in a 150-degree oven or in a dehydrator until crisp. Break into crackers.

For bread, form dough into balls and flatten slightly, place on the baking sheets and bake at 150 for 12-hours, turning half-way through. If you live in a hot climate, you can bake these in the sun.

(I used a dehydrator we were borrowing, and flattened the dough on parchment sheets I placed on the dehydrator trays. I also used my large butcher knife to pre-cut the dough to make for an easy and clean break once the crackers were dry.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catering: My Sister's Wedding - Menu and Schedule

My youngest sister is getting married this Saturday and I have the privilege of catering the event! It is only 40 people, which is a good bite-size for gaining experience. This will be my second catering experience and I am quite excited about it. My first was a 20-person, 5-course, plated dinner for the baccalaureate celebration of the Gutenberg College graduating class of 2005 - myself an alum, class of 2006. I was eight months pregnant and in the house kitchen from noon until nine loving every sweaty minute. This time I know a bit more about food preparation and will be doing the work all week long.

One of the things I love about taking the time to prepare foods according to traditional methods (aside from the nutrient density and digestibility), is the opportunity it gives for happy anticipation. The tending I do throughout the week makes me look forward to sharing the well-prepared foods with friends and family. It is truly making something with love. My time, thoughtfulness, and love will go into these wedding meal details all week long, and then my heart will be full when I watch people that I love enjoy them - transfixed, not on the good food nourishing them - but on each other, as it should be. May this meal be a nutrient-rich foundation for many long years of loving one another well!

Here is the menu:

Platter of Fresh Local Fruits

Platter of Fresh Local Cheese served with Sourdough Bread and Zarathustra Crackers

Gravlox (Raw Marinated Steelhead)

Pear Vinaigrette Salad with Crispy Pecans

Potato Leek Soup

Stuffed Flank Steak with choice of a Red Wine Sauce or a Butter Sauce

Chocolate-Carob Covered Strawberries

(someone else is in charge of the wedding cake)


Here is the schedule of preparation:

Friday a week before:
Split sourdough mother for additional loaves

Saturday before:
Soak wheat berries and sesame seeds for Live Zarathustra Crackers
Feed Sourdough mother

Sunday:
Drain and replenish water on the cracker grains
Feed the Sourdough mother

Monday:
Process grains and seeds with raisins and salt for crackers - then dehydrate
Feed the Sourdough mother
Start Beef Stock
Soak Pecans for Salad

Tuesday:
Pick up Cheese from farm
Break and Store crackers
Feed the Sourdough mother
Simmer Beef Stock
Dehydrate Pecans for Salad

Wednesday:
Simmer Beef Stock
Store Pecans
Feed the Sourdough mother
Order Flank Steaks from Butcher in Eugene

Thursday:
Finish Beef Stock
Marinate Steelhead
Purchase Fresh Produce
Chop and Maple-coat Pecans, dehydrate again
Make first batch of Potato-Leek Soup

Friday:
Store "candied" Pecans
Make second batch of Potato-Leek Soup
Make and Bake Bread
Prepare stuffing for Flank Steak
Make Chocolate-Carob Sauce
Dip and Chill Strawberries
Make Salad dressing

Saturday morning:
Stuff and roast Flank Steak
Reduce Wine Sauce
Prepare Butter Sauce
Reheat Soup
Assemble Salad
Arrange Fruit and Cheese Platters

Saturday Afternoon:
Serve and Eat!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Yamhill" Review

More cheese art made it's way into my kitchen last week:


As you can observe from the rind, this was a rustic hearty cheese.


This cheese made me crave sausage. I have not yet tried the combination, but I can only say it is the first cheese to make me crave sausage. I will have to try to track down a good quality local sausage to see if it really combines the way I imagine it.


This cheese is softer, milder, and creamier, than The Rooster, but still hard and still pleasantly sharp. It will be lovely crumbled into a hearty soup to kick off the coming of fall (um...perhaps a rustic sausage soup!). I will work on a recipe and hope to have something to share soon.

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