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.


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