Real Food

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6/24/2016

Throughout my 40 years of cooking experience, I have been confronted with an assortment of imperfect produce. Over the last few years, since growing many of my own fruits and veggies, I have a clearer vision of what is afoot in the produce world.

Grocery stores hawk fruits and veggies that have to look perfect to sell to discerning customers. The problem is in agreeing on what is perfect.

Consider the modern tomato: It has been bred to look perfect and taste nothing like a real tomato should. Please don’t blame it on the poor little tomatoes who have to bear untold hardships in days or weeks of transit before they present themselves to you at your local grocery. But what is the cost of this perfection?

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are commonly used to produce such perfect produce. The nutritional value is probably not what you would hope to get from a “real” tomato. And last but not least most grocery store tomatoes taste like nothing!

canning tomatoes

Canning tomatoes in my kitchen

I, too, have been conditioned to want perfect-looking produce. In my 20-year career as a professional cook, I would toss out most produce that didn’t look perfect or close to it. In the grocery store, I would look for the best-looking produce like the rest of the herd.

At farmers markets, I started to get a different story from the farmers I’d engage in “how it’s grown” type conversations. Farmers I talked with would state a case for the less-than-perfect-looking produce. Each year is different on a farm and between drought, bugs, and storms, farmers don’t have as much control as they would like. Quite often produce that has been hit by one or more of the three maladies will still survive to taste good and be nutritious.

I have been getting much better at accepting less-than-perfect produce and find if it comes from a good organic farmer, the produce still has value. Don’t confuse less-than-perfect with rotten. I’m referring to the look, not freshness, of produce that matters to most shoppers.

I love buying tomatoes from local farmers who sell “seconds” that look somewhat bug-bitten but are perfect for making salsa and canning. They taste great and cost about half as much as perfect-looking tomatoes!

On a recent trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada, I took a trip to Heart Beet Organics Farm. Owners Verena Varga and Amy Smith do constant battle with bugs, weather, and consumer attitudes to bring to market healthy, tasty and nutritious produce. Like many organic farmers, they are working to change attitudes so consumers can see the value in buying spinach, tomatoes, beets and other produce that doesn’t look perfect.

Verena and Amy tell customers, “Taste and nutrition top the chemical-laced grocery store produce most shoppers buy.”

 Heart Beet Organics

Heart Beet Organics farm

Some of their customers have said, “Your spinach is the best I have ever tasted!” Even though their spinach might have holes in it where bugs have nibbled, the taste and nutrition of their veggies trumps perfection.

At Heart Beet Organics they try to let biodiversity help with pest control. They also use netting to keep the pesky flea beetles off the veggies as best as possible. I applaud Verena and Amy for educating customers, and sticking to organic growing methods. After all, for centuries, we humans have eaten less-than-perfect looking produce and not suffered for it.

 

Amy, Verena and Kalee the dog 

From right to left: Amy, Verena, and Kalee

What needs to happen is a change in attitudes. Such a change is not coming soon enough to your favorite grocery store. If more of us buy imperfect-looking produce, grocery stores will be able to change our dependence on harsh chemicals used to grow perfect-looking fruits and veggies.

Last fall while shopping at Mom's Organic Market, I saw local apples with blemishes being sold. This was unusual and I was impressed. I bought a bag of these knowing full well they would at least be good for baking or applesauce.

We vote with our dollars and I cast my vote that day by purchasing apples most customers were passing by. The apples turned out to be delicious and well worth buying. It’s up to all of us to support the imperfect produce movement and bring back taste, nutrition and a healthier planet. How will you vote?

Kurt Jacobsohas been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, TasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


6/21/2016

 

Two years ago, I bought a little toaster oven, and I think it paid for itself the first year in energy savings just to bake up a pizza, a potato, or small casserole. And I discovered that it does a fine job baking fresh bread. I get the freezer stocked with sandwich loaves before the Texas heat settles in, but having a freshly baked small bread is a treat on a 100-degree day, and we have a lot of those here in Texas.

The day before, I stir up some simple dough, enough to bake up my choice of a pizza, burger buns, or 2 ficelles (mini baguettes), a small fougasse, or ciabatta or focaccia — all without heating up the kitchen. Weighing flour is much easier and more accurate than measuring. If you don’t yet have a kitchen scale with a tare feature, find one you really like, and put it on your wish list. If you want to measure, you must use dry-measure cups rather than liquid measuring cups for your flour. Fluff the flour, scoop and level.

Bread Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

• 2 cups plus 4 tbsp (10 ounces) bread flour
• ½ tsp fine sea salt
• ½ tsp instant yeast
• 6 ¾ ounces tepid water
• As needed:  a small amount of olive oil or other non-GMO oil

Directions:

Mix. Put the flour in a large (4-quart or so) bowl. Add the salt on one side, the yeast on the other, give it a quick stir. Add the water and, with a spatula or spoon, stir until the flour is incorporated and the dough comes together. You’ll have 1 pound of dough.

Stretch and fold. Set out a large cutting board, and put about 1 Tbsp of oil on it. Using your hands, smear the oil on the board. Then, with your oiled hands, scoop out the dough onto the board. Pat the dough out to an oval, then grab the back edge of the dough and pull it away and fold it back to the center. Now, do the same with the front: Grab the edge, pull it toward you and fold it back to the center. Turn the dough over and repeat the stretch and fold.

Walk away for 10 minutes, then go back and repeat, then do it again, three times in all. You don’t have to cover the dough while it rests because it’s oiled. Now put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic, and put in the refrigerator until the next day.

Bake. The next day, I usually start at about 2 in the afternoon to have bread for dinner. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Line your toaster oven pan with parchment or non-stick foil. Gently pat out the dough and then form whatever small breads you want for dinner. Take care not to deflate the dough, but pinch any large bubbles on the surface. Place your little breads on the pan.You may have dough left — just stick it back into the refrigerator to make something special tomorrow. (A pizza?)

Cover your little breads with plastic and let them rise until doubled and quite puffy. Even though the dough is cold, in a summer kitchen it won’t take long.

Bread Variations for the Toaster Oven

Burger Buns

Pat some of the dough to about 6 inches by 9 inches and ½-inch thick. Cut into 4 to 6 pieces and, if you want, pull the corners under to make rounds. Nobody ever said burgers had to be round.

Dust the bottoms of the buns with a little flour and place on the pan.

Ficelles (Mini Baguettes)

Pat out a 3-inch ball of dough to an oval 4 by 8. Grab the back edge and stretch just a little, bring it to the center and press the edge to the center with your fingertips. Repeat with the front edge, taking care not to deflate the dough except where you press it.

Now, fold the dough in half, again pressing the seam with just your fingertips.

Turn the seam to the bottom and roll it gently, urging the loaf to about the length of your toaster oven pan.

Fougasses

The dough you’ll make into fougasses can have some additions folded in before you form the loaf. Rosemary and bits of oil-cured black olives are traditional and delicious.

For a typical Ladder Bread, use about ¼ of the dough and pat it out to about 5-by-6 inches. Put the dough on the lined sheet and cut horizontal slits about 2 inches apart. Then, grab the short ends and pull the dough so the slits separate to form a “ladder."

Brush the ladder with a bit of olive oil and, if you like, sprinkle lightly with best quality sea salt flakes.

Focaccia

Use about half the dough. Put it on the lined pan and pat it out to nearly cover the pan. Brush the dough lightly with a bit of olive oil and then use your finger tips to dimple the dough all over. Gently now, don’t deflate the whole thing.

To top a focaccia, I like to par bake for about 10 minutes and then add any number of toppings, my favorites being artichoke hearts, sliced tomato and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Preheat the toaster oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (Mine has a convection feature, so I use that.) A quick spritz of water gives a crunchy crust, a brush of oil makes the crust chewy.

Bake your little breads until nicely golden, which can take only 10 to 15 minutes for a ficelle or ladder bread, and up to 20 minutes for fat burger buns or focaccia.  Slide your breads out onto a cooling rack and don’t cut until completely cool, but you can tear a ficelle or ladder if you just have to have some right now.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/20/2016

Tout est bon au cochon.

If you want to eat an animal in an ethical way, I think you have a moral responsibility to at least try and eat the whole thing.

Liver, offal, and the wobbly bits generally are the cuts that most people turn their noses up at, which is such a shame, because offal recipes are cheap, and full of nutrition. My father is a liver lover, and if it’s even half as good for you as he claims it is, he’ll be with us until he’s 120.

The terrine combines beautifully with pickles and homemade bread

I’ve been reading a lot of old French and German cookbooks recently. Cookbooks starting  from the 50s, going back to the 1890s. These books were written by cooks who understood that a pig does not consist solely of bacon and pork chops. They were written for frugal women who needed to find uses for all of the pig. Everything except the oink, they used to say.

This kind of nose-to-tail cooking is especially sensible if you have raised the animal yourself, but I think all meat-eaters could take a lesson from those less wasteful times

But liver is just so strong-tasting, and with a texture that puts even adventurous eaters off. For many years, I wanted to like this under-loved part of the pig, but I just couldn’t. Then I started turning up more terrine recipes using offal, and decided to try a few.

They were a revelation. The liver is toned down for novice offal eaters with the addition of a bland, fatty cut, and complimented with fresh herbs, spices and a judicious splash of booze. The texture, often dry and mealy when whole, lends itself perfectly to grinding, passing though the mincer like silk.

The cooking vessel is lined with fat, which keeps it wonderfully succulent. I’m sure that for every person you can find who likes plain liver as much as my father does, you can find 10 who will eat the commercially processed liver pâtés, spreads and sausages. This is so much better than that.

Try making this at home. It is simple, wholesome and cheap. You could make it in one large dish, or try cooking it directly into a flip-top preserving jar, which is how the French preserve it. The terrine cooked in a jar makes a portable picnic food, with a crusty baguette and a bottle of wine. Unopened, the jars will be good for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Make one jar as a sophisticated starter — take the other to the fields next weekend. If it is made as one large terrine in a loaf tin, use it as quickly as you would any other cooked meat product.

The quantities given do not have to be followed slavishly. If you want to start with a little less liver, go ahead, if you are sure you will love the taste, add more. Just remember to keep a good proportion of fat in there for a creamy texture. Experiment with different flavourings, try juniper berries or a different kind of alcohol, white wine for example. And then come back and tell me if you still don’t like liver.

Note: The terrine is improved by the brining stage, but it can be skipped if you are in a hurry.

Enjoy the terrine as part of an antipasti spread

French Liver Terrine Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 lb pig’s liver
• 1 lb belly pork which you have soaked in a mild brine overnight.
• 8 oz  back fat, thinly sliced, or fatty smoked bacon
• 4 oz bacon lardons
• ½ cup of sherry
• 2 heaped tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tsp allspice
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• salt and pepper

Directions

1. First grind up the liver and salted pork. You might be lucky and find a butcher who is willing to do this, but I find there are fewer and fewer who actually process meat on the premises. You can find hand-cranked grinders on eBay for next to nothing, and for small amounts of meat like this, they are perfect.

2. Add all the seasonings, the sherry and the lardons to the mix. Using clean hands, turn them in gently. Remember, meat that will be eaten cold needs to be much more strongly flavoured than meat you would eat hot, so season generously.

3. Line your cooking vessel with the strips of back fat or bacon. I used Weck preserving jars, so that each jar made one portion, but you could use anything that has a lid. If your chosen vessel doesn’t have a lid, you could improvise one out of aluminum foil. The fat bastes the terrine as it cooks, and keeps it moist.

4. Pack in the meat. Fill the cooking vessel well, as it will shrink as it cooks. Wipe any meat from the rims of the jars, if using, and clip down the lids. If you have no lid for your vessel, put another layer of fat or bacon on top of your terrine before covering with foil.

5. Place your filled terrine in a larger dish or baking tray. Fill the outside dish with water. Bake in at 340 degrees Fahrenheit for 1½ hours for smaller jars, or 2 hours for one large terrine.

Hannah Wernet grew up self-sufficiently on a sheep farm in Wales. When she was 20, she moved to Austria where she works as a teacher and owns a small expat bar. She dreams of one day returning to a self-sufficient life in the French countryside. Read all of Hannah's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


6/17/2016

Wow! Spring has been very busy at Hudson’s Farm on the Cement Pond down here south of Houston, but summer is quickly approaching. Everything has come in early — including our best crop of peaches.

Okay, so it’s really only our second full crop, and it came in at a whopping 63 pounds on our little 10-foot tree. We had to cover it with netting to keeps the birds at bay back in mid-April. The branches were sagging and weighted down from all of the peaches and the net. The tree looked relieved when the final peach was picked and the net removed as if a heavy burden and responsibility had been lifted from its “shoulders." You did well tree, you did well.

A Pile of Peaches

As we are still learning about the tree, the peaches were picked around the same time but they were ripening at different rates. Initially, this concerned me, but it has been nice in hindsight because it has allowed me to process the fruit over several weekends as opposed to having a hectic weekend of canning peaches.

Last year, we froze most of the peaches to be used in pies, cobblers and ice creams. This year, it was time to replenish our peach jam stock. 2014 was a good year, but come on, fresh peach jam rules. In addition, I canned some in syrup and made a peach and pepper salsa.

Recipe Notes and Modifications

I stuck with the ol’ standby Ball recipe using their regular pectin. However, this year I added/tested two modifications to my process.

While the recipe is simple and straightforward, it is does take significant time to peel my clingstone peaches. Even with blanching the peaches to help in peeling, an 8 quart container took 3.5 to 4 hours to peel and remove the pits. Thankfully, the jam-making steps go much faster.

If you are buying peaches, get freestone peaches and save yourself some time. Here is where I incorporated my first modifications.

Stirring the Peaches

When peeling peaches and removing the pits, especially with clingstone varieties, you generate a lot of juice. To capture and collect this juice, I peeled over a colander that was set over a large bowl. I would collect the peels in the colander, mashing them occasionally to get as much juice as possible, and put the pits in a separate bowl to be discarded while the peels went to the chickens.

By using this approach, I collected 1-2 quarts of peach juice with each batch. Some of it I am using to make a peach vinegar, the rest I will use to try to make a peach jelly.

The other modification that I tested was to use an antioxidant to prevent the browning of the fruit. I prepared a solution with the antioxidant and put the slices or chunks of peach into it as I went along. I never thought much about this in years past, and you can tell.

The first batch that I did this year was without antioxidant, the second was with antioxidant. Both used the same recipe, and you can see in the picture below that the one with antioxidant (on the right) is brighter and more "peachy" in color, however the flavor is nearly the same. I used Ball’s Fresh Fruit (I hope I do not sound like a Ball shill) which is just ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C).

There are other products available, so use your favorite or prepare acidulated water, if you like, with lemon juice and use it the same way.

Preserving the Color

Peach Jam Recipe1

Yields 6 pints 

Ingredients

• 4 cups pitted and peeled peaches, mashed to the consistency you like.
• 2 Tbsp lemon juice
• 50 g (1 package) Ball brand regular pectin
• 5 cups sugar

Process

1. Prepare cans, jars and lids.

2. In a large saucepan/pot, combine peaches and lemon juice. Add pectin and stir until dissolved.

3. Bring to a boil. Stir. Very important step.

4. Once boiling, add all of sugar at once and stir constantly. Regain boil.

5. Once boiling vigorously, stir and boil hard for 1 minute. I got mine to 219 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Remove from heat. Skim off foam.

7. While hot, fill jars leaving a half inch of headspace. Wipe rims and threads clean. Apply lid and rings. Hand tighten. Do not overtighten.

8. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes making sure jars are completely submerged.

9. Remove from water bath. Let cool overnight. Label, store and/or enjoy.

So how did it turn out? Have you ever “licked” the bowl after you or your mom or dad made a cake, or pudding or cookies? This was so good, we toasted up fresh made sourdough bread and used it to clean the pot chowing down the whole time. It was great and the inspiration for a second batch.

Lessons Learned

I like both modifications I tested this year so I will use the colander and antioxidant when I can in the future. In addition, I also want to play with the sugar. This recipe used the classic pectin technique with a high methoxyl pectin, and a lot of sugar.

While I liked it, I want to see how it tastes with lower sugar so in the future I will make peach jam using some of the low-methoxyl pectins that allow you to use low or no sugar.

Down On Hudson’s Farm on the Cement Pond

The arch nemeses of the gardener - weather and bugs - have wreaked havoc on the garden this spring. We have been hit by an inordinate amount of rain which has gotten to the point that it is slowing growth and blooming of all of the plants, especially the tomatoes. It looks like whether they are determinate or indeterminate, we are only getting one round of tomatoes this year. Perhaps when things dry up, they will get back to producing new blooms and tomatoes.

The rain has also brought fungus with the cucumbers being the hardest hit. They are getting treated and holding on but perhaps a few dry days should get production back up and going.

The squash vine borer has been our biggest pest. It has been a pest in the past so this year I am trying some new squash varieties and even an edible gourd in hopes of finding something that can stand up to the destructive critter. We have lost some plants already. I buried a long section of the vine of a few that were hit hard in hopes that they take root and keep growing,

All of that said, we have gotten pretty good yields so far and stand at 224 pounds as of this writing in our roughly 400 square feet of garden.

Reuben Rumors

Rumor has it that the fully loaded Reuben sandwich, melty Swiss cheese and all, has been spotted in the wilds of our kitchen. Our crack photographer shot the blurry photograph below of the elusive Reuben sandwich reportedly seen in our kitchen. She remains on assignment in hopes of capturing more images of this elusive sandwich, but it may not reveal itself until it has some full sour dill pickles to accompany it.

Word has it, they are in the works, and the trap will soon be set. I also have operatives out in the field trying to acquire Dad’s Reuben Sauce recipe. More next month.

Elusive Reuben

1Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today. Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine. Toronto, R. Rose, 2006, p.31. (Available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store via the link.)

Photos by Jennifer Hudson 

Ed Hudson is a biochemist for NASA in Houston. His free time is filled with gardening and an ongoing list of Food Preservation Projects with his lovely wife, Jennifer. You can read more MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts from Ed here, and contact him via email at hudsonfarmtx@gmail.comHe is always looking for comments, new ideas and suggestions.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/16/2016

Delicious finished pickles!

This is a terrific dessert on a warm night, a delicious accompaniment to grilled food, or a snack right out of the fridge. And, the best part is that it's made from something you usually throw away.

These pickles come from a 1996 copy of Better Homes and Gardens Canning & Preserving recipes. I've experimented with variations over the years, but this is the best!

Ingredients:

• 4 1/2 pounds watermelon rind (enough to make 9 cups)
• 6 cups water
• 1/3 cup pickling salt
• 3 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 15 inches cinnamon sticks
• 2 teaspoons whole cloves

Use a vegetable peeler

Directions:

1. The most time consuming task is cutting the rind into 1-inch cubes. I like to cut the beast into quarters, then into strips, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough green skin. Be sure all the pink fruit is off the rind so your brine stays clear.

2. Cut into cubes to measure 9 cups, place in a large bowl. Combine the 6 cups water and pickling salt and pour over the rind. Cover and let stand overnight.

3. Pour the rind into a colander in the sink and rinse with cold running water. Place in a large pan and cover with cold water. Heat to boiling and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the rind is tender. You'll watch it turn to a rich color. Drain.

Simmering rind

4. At the same time, in a separate large pan, combine the sugar, vinegar, and 1 1/2 cups water. I make a cheesecloth bag of the cinnamon and cloves and submerge it in the liquid. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Them remove the delightful-smelling spice bag. Add the watermelon rind and return to boiling. Cover and boil gently until rind is translucent, about 30 minutes.

5. Pack rind and syrup into hot, clean half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a sterilized knife around the product. Process filled jars in a boiling-water bath for about 10 minutes, adding minutes, depending on your elevation (actually, your geographic elevation — if you are standing on a chair, it doesn't matter). Lift jars onto a cooling rack and wait for the satisfying "ping" as each jar seals.

This recipe makes 6 half-pints.The taste and texture are quite extraordinary. Enjoy!

Dede Ryan began professional life as a journalist on Capitol Hill. She held reporting and editorial positions at U.S. News & World Report and Business Publishers, Inc., for more than a decade and has published hundreds of feature stores, restaurant reviews, essays and one novel. She also has been canning pickles and jams for decades and believes the process is soothing and offers a sense of connection t the earth. Read all of Dede's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/15/2016

grill image 1

Summertime means grilling time! It’s perfect for those hot nights when turning on the oven seems like pure torture. Grilling also gives you the chance to eat healthy, as it’s the perfect way to cook lean meats and garden-fresh veggies.

However, to grill safely, there’s a lot to consider. After all, you do not want to ruin a backyard barbecue with a bad tummy ache or a burn! To avoid this, I always recommend the following tips for a safe grilling season.

Safe Grilling Tips

grill image 2

Transport meat safely. Whether this means from the store to your kitchen or from your home to a neighborhood party, keep your meat cold at all times and separate it from all other food items. After grocery shopping, promptly refrigerate or freeze your meat. If you’re headed out to grill, pack a cooler with plenty of ice.

The USDA recommends that meat should be kept at 40 degrees or below; otherwise, it can spoil and make you sick. To minimize bacteria growth and avoid cross-contamination, I always keep a separate cooler just for meat whenever we picnic.

Clean your grill and prep surfaces. Before you put your steak, fish or chicken on the grill, make sure you’ve cleaned the grill grates and surface. Turn the grill on high and use a stainless steel brush to scrub the grill grates. If your grill has side tables, make sure you’ve washed the surfaces with hot water and soap.

I often use a homemade vinegar and water spray to clean the surface. Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling meat. Use different utensils and plates for raw meat and cooked meat. Never use a plate or platter that’s touched raw meat without washing it first.

Cook your meat well. To guarantee that meat is grilled to a safe temperature, you should always use a reliable meat thermometer. According to the USDA, the following is determined safe minimum internal temperatures: 

• Whole poultry: 165 degrees
• Poultry breasts: 165 degrees
• Ground poultry: 165 degrees
• Ground meats: 160 degrees
• Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 degrees. Allow the meat to rest for at least 3 minutes after cooking.

Healthy Grilling Tips

grill image 3 

Besides grilling safely, it is important to make sure what you’re grilling is as healthy as possible. There are so many grill accessories on the market that allow you to get as creative as you want with your healthy options: a grilling stone for a veggie pizza, a rotisserie for lemon chicken or a grilling basket to hold chopped veggies. What could be better for a summer evening?

To keep your grilling choices healthy, try a few of these tips.

Trim the fat. Ask your butcher to help you if needed. Your butcher can also offer you great tips on how to grill certain cuts of meat. Besides the health benefits, avoiding fatty meat will also help to keep your grill clear of fat drippings.

Make your own marinade. Steer clear of preservatives and too much sugar by making your own marinades with fresh garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. You can even add in fresh herbs from the garden.

Grill fruit. Yes, fruit—your grill isn’t just for dinner! Add pineapple chunks to your next kabob or make grilled peaches sprinkled with organic brown sugar for dessert.

Use your grill for steaming. Make a foil packet filled with vegetables or potatoes to steam on the grill. Add some butter, salt and pepper and you are all set. Just make sure your foil is “tented” to let the heat flow, creating a convection-like oven.

Wherever you choose to grill this summer, keep it healthy and safe. If you have tips, tricks or nutritious recipes for grilling, please share!

Sommer Poquette is a popular mom blogger, proud mom of two, and the driving force behind the Green and Clean Mom website website. Sommer is also a children’s book author, and writes online for The Home Depot. To view a wide selection of grills and grilling accessories, including those reviewed by Sommer, you can visit Home Depot's grilling section here. You can also find interesting stats about fathers and grilling in this Home Depot guide here. Read all of Sommer's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/14/2016

Buckwheat Corn Muffins With Blueberries 

Many of you already know I recently invested in a grain mill, the hand-crank variety. Now, I have a cookbook to go along with it. If you buy only one book on the subject, this is it: The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book by Sue Becker [1].

Sue is incredible, as she covers just about any aspect you can think of on home milling, flours, grains, and with 100 delicious recipes to boot. Everything is very well researched, and extremely well written.

The amount of information is incredible, but I found it a fabulous read. Yes, I read cookbooks, and I really like this one. (Maybe you have noticed that by now.)

It was a tough choice deciding which one to do first, but I settled on the Buckwheat Corn Muffins, the fruit variation — I used blueberries (it wasn’t easy hanging on to the berries until baking time — the blueberry vultures were about).

I am also doing Dark Molasses Oatmeal Bread, and you will hear about that in the next blog post. Some of you know that oatmeal is one of my favourites, but this one is with a twist. Stay tuned.

Right now, let’s make some of these absolutely delicious muffins. You won’t regret having these for breakfast!

Buckwheat Corn Muffins Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 cup freshly milled buckwheat flour
• ½ cup freshly milled corn flour
• 2 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ cup oil
• 2 Tbsp liquid honey
• 1 ripe banana, mashed
• 2 eggs
• 1 ¼ milk or nondairy alternative*
And for the variation: ½ cup light evaporated cane sugar, and ½ cup blueberries**

You will need a greased 12-cup muffin tin, a 24-cup mini muffin pan. I used unbleached paper liners by If You Care [2].

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, corn flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk together oil, honey, banana, and eggs. Add all at once to flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling three-quarters full. Bake in a preheated oven for fifteen minutes (12 minutes for mini-muffins), until golden brown and tops spring back when lightly touched.

*Sue suggests almond, rice, soy or coconut in this recipe.

**Buckwheat-Corn Fruit Muffins Variation

In Step 1, add ½ cup light evaporated cane sugar (I confess, I didn’t add the extra sugar — apologies, Sue!).

After mixing batter in Step 2, gently fold in ½ cup blueberries, diced peaches, or sliced strawberries.

Essential Home Ground Flour Book 

References

1. Becker, Sue. The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book. Toronto, ON: Robert Rose Inc., 2016.

2. Try Unbleached, Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) baking cups by If You Care. They’re as good or better than parchment, no greasing required. Imported from Sweden. 

Sue Van Slooten teaches cooking and baking classes at her home on beautiful Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada. She specializes in small classes for maximum benefit. Follow her homesteading adventures and check out her class offerings at www.SVanSlooten.com. If you wish, you can email Sue at suevanslooten@icloud.com. She would be thrilled to hear from you! Read all of Sue’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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