Real Food

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3/18/2015

pancakes

At around the one month mark of subsisting solely on homegrown foods I started craving, bready, starchy things. Prior to embarking on my homegrown challenge I wasn’t even a big bread eater, but roots have a lot of water in them and sheer volume of food I have to consume to stay active and warm in a cold New York winter has been a minor challenge. Fats are energy dense, but the only one I have in abundance is tallow, and I tolerate it in only limited amounts.

Then my sister-in-law pointed me to a recipe for pumpkin pancakes. I had a large pile of pumpkins sitting with my other squash. They were less palatable than their winter brethren, so I found they kept sitting on the shelf. I didn’t want the pumpkins to go to waste since I don’t know how big of a hungry gap I might have between the end of my root-cellar stores and the first harvests from my garden. I tried the pumpkin recipe and found the texture was precisely what I missed and craved.

I began by halving the pumpkins and digging out the seeds, which I cleaned and roasted in a pan at 350 with tallow and salt. The crunch of roasted seed turned out to be a real bonus texture that I didn’t even realize I missed until I found something that provided it. After dealing with the seeds I cut off the skin and sliced the flesh into slabs. I dehydrated whole slabs, but then my brother hit upon a much better method. He ran the slabs through the grater setting of a food processor before putting them into the dehydrator. The thin slices from a grater dry out much more quickly, and once dry, they’re far easier to turn into powder. The dried slabs are hard and brittle. I powdered some with a mortar and pestle, but it took a long time. Thin little strands can be “ground” with a regular Cuisinart blade, though the best way is to run them through a steel disc grain mill.

pumpkin

Powder in hand, I made some pancakes. They brown beautifully on a low heat and the texture is wonderful. The flavor of my pancakes left something to be desired, which I attribute largely to the under-ripe aspect of a few of the pumpkins I put into the mix. Also, my limited spice cupboard doesn’t allow for cinnamon and I think it would really improve the cakes to add it.

This is the recipe I used:

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup of pumpkin powder
• 5 eggs
• Large pinch of salt

Instructions

1. Heat a large, heavy pan and skim with tallow or other fat.

2. Mix the ingredients together and pour into the pan. Wait and watch and then flip when ready. It may take a couple of tries to get the browning just right depending on the particulars of your stove and frying pan.

I doused them with maple syrup and devoured. Yum.


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



8/18/2014

ZucchiniHat

Are you overflowing with zucchini from the garden? It happens. In May, the seedlings come in four packs or the seeds come in a pouch of 20. You plant them all, with confidence but also enough doubt that it seems better to overdo it. Just in case. But now. Now it is August and you are swimming in zucchini. One plant would have been enough and you know that now, but it is too late. You are getting two zukes per plant every day and if you sleep late, they turn into baseball bats. Zucchini fill your refrigerator veggie bin. Your friends make sure they lock their car doors when they visit and check the trunk before they leave. Your neighbors don’t come to say hi anymore. Everyone is tired of your zucchini. How can you keep the bounty from being a burden? 

Shred It

Shred and freeze it! Freeze it in measured quantities for your recipes, so you use the right amount when you pull out a wad of frozen zucchini. Squeeze out the water and use it by its original measurement. My favorite recipes for this are zucchini bread and zucchini-crusted pizzas, both recipes are at the end of this post. There are many other recipe options for frozen zucchini. Plop the frozen wad in your favorite soup or chili recipe (my brother’s idea).

Bake zucchini breads and freeze them! If you have time and air conditioning and freezer space…you might consider loading the freezer with ready-to-go quick breads. Cook something new. Lasagna with zucchini layers? Ratatouille? You've grilled, but have you tried grilling extras for grilled veggie sandwiches with hummus for lunch? Research a recipe online and try a fresh take on zucchini.

Donate zukes to your local food bank or soup kitchen. Our food bank has a drop bin accessible at all hours. Call your local shelter or group home—if they have cooking facilities on site, they might accept vegetable donations.

What About the Green Baseball Bats?

Zucchini Battle

They are great for baking or shredding and freezing. Or make baked zucchini boats—scoop them out and stuff them with a chopped mixture of zucchini, meat, rice, tomatoes and spices. Have a zucchini toss! Have a zucchini battle (just pretend hit, as these buggers really would make effective weapons). Feed them to the chickens. Carve a sign. My zucchini sign lasted for over a week.  Use it as a greeting card. Write a note on it with a sharpie (the recipient can still peel it for cooking) or carve your greeting into the skin.

Two Gluten-Free Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini Sign

Both of these recipes are easily gluten-free. But don't let that scare away the wheat-eaters in the crowd; I happily serve all kinds of eaters these recipes. They are delicious and worthy.

Zucchini-crusted pizza – this link is the original, from Mollie Katzen’s book The Moosewood Cookbook. I substitute the flour with brown rice based all purpose gluten-free flour mix, but other gluten-free flours would work like gluten-free oat flour or almond flour. This one is hard to make dairy-free, as the cheese serves as a binder. There is barely any flour in it. 

I like the revision of the recipe in this blog, cooking it at high heat like a regular pizza crust. I don’t usually add toppings to the crust, because it stands alone so well and gets soggy with toppings. However, I will try toppings again with this blog’s revision of cooking the crusts at higher heat.

Gluten-Free (can be dairy-free) Zucchini Bread

Use your favorite recipe or search online for way too many options. This is my go-to gluten-free recipe. I have changed up the flours with success. I make it dairy-free, replacing the butter with coconut oil.

Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. They will be making a presentation about weeds and bugs in your organic garden at Mother Earth News Fair Sunday September 12. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 Mother Earth News Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life at Mother Earth News and Blog.HouseInTheWoods.com, easy to follow from our Facebook Page. For more about the farm, go to HouseInTheWoods.com.



6/4/2013

Spent your fair share of time perusing the crowded nut aisle at Trader Joe’s, but find yourself just a little uninspired? Consider this: Trail mix is simply a combo of fruit and nuts (and sometimes, maybe sweets) — a combination pretty much begging for a little hands-on action. Perhaps it's time to shake up one of these three smart-snacking recipes, all sure to get you right through a mid-day slump.

Pumpkin + Cherry + Maple Trail Mix

A variety of nuts are waiting to be made into toasty homemade trail mix.

2 c baby pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 c slivered almonds
3/4 c raw sunflower seeds
1 c dried cherries or cranberries
6 tbsp pure Grade B maple syrup
coarse salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the nuts and seeds with the maple syrup until evenly coated. Spread the mix out in a single layer on the lined baking sheets and season with salt to taste. Bake the nuts for about 20 minutes, until just golden, stirring occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon. Cool the nuts completely on the pan, then add the berries and toss to combine. Store cooled trail mix in an airtight glass container at room temperature.

Paleo Mix

1 c raw cashews
1 c raw almonds
1 cup raw walnut pieces or halves
1 c raw pecans
1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 c raw cacao nibs
1/2 c dried blueberries
1/2 c unsulphured cherries
1/4 c raisins
3/4 c unsweetened coconut chips

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the coconut chips onto a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 2 minutes. Pull the chips out when they are golden brown; allow to cool. Mix remaining ingredients together in a large bowl, adding the coco chips last. Store cooled trail mix in an airtight glass container at room temperature.

Looking for a no-bake recipe? This gourmet blend is a sure winner:

No-Bake Gourmet Blend Trail Mix

A handful of nuts a day makes you nutty for more trail mix.

2 c salted, roasted peanuts
1 c whole salted, roasted almonds
1 c whole salted, roasted cashews
1 c good quality milk chocolate chips
1 c dried blueberries
1 c dried cherries
¼ c crystallized ginger, finely chopped
½ c unsweetened, flaked coconut

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing until everything is evenly distributed. Store cooled trail mix in an airtight glass container at room temperature.

The Old School brings back-to-the-basics content with a modern twist. Whether you want to learn to tie a bow tie, raise chickens in an urban environment, give yourself a honey facial, or drink your own homemade limoncello, Old School provides the needed inspiration and instruction to learn those skills. In just 6 months, Old School has garnered 20K followers, and a rapidly expanding fanbase that is extremely enthusiastic about our unique, visually breath-taking tutorials.



7/30/2013

chicken wingsHow can you tell when meat is going “off”? It’ll start losing its color. Red meat will start turning brown. It'll have a sour smell. If it’s really bad, it’ll get a glossy golden-colored film on it. Pork tends to turn more towards the green side (ick). It’ll get grayish first, then have a really rancid smell. Chicken will get a sheen. Starting to feel queasy?

Chicken - in fact, all poultry, like turkeys and the ilk – very often carries salmonella and must be carefully handled. We had a saying in olde-time butcherdom: “You gotta watch out for Sam and Ella” (Yes, it’s lame, but times were simply then and our jokes were dumber.) So whenever I work with raw poultry, I sanitize everything it touches - surfaces, faucets, and so on.

I always cook poultry the day I buy it - I don’t store it in the refrigerator (even overnight). I always wash chicken in cold water, because using warm water will tend to activate any bacteria on the bird, and may even start the cooking process.

Poultry’s tendency to carry bacteria is one reason that responsible butchers don’t cut chicken on the same bench where other meats are cut (unless the bench has been thoroughly sanitized between meats). If you cut beef on a surface where raw chicken has been, that beef could end up contaminated with bacteria. And if that beef were then cooked only to “rare,” some bacteria (such as salmonella) might survive the cooking process, and you could end up with stomach upset, diarrhea ... you get the picture.

So sanitization is extremely important, and today, any good butcher will understand this. Wasn't always so - I’ve heard older butchers say, “I wonder how many people we made sick in the old day,” when it was common to cut chicken on the same bench as meat.

Cole Ward (AKA “The Gourmet Butcher”) is a teaching butcher who lives in Vermont. His 2-DVD butchery course is available online at www.thegourmetbutcher.com and his book “The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat” will be released by Chelsea Green Publishing in late 2013, and is available for pre-order here.

Photo by Fotolia/Cristi Lucaci



12/1/2014

veggiepie                                        

When I was a child, my mom would buy those ghastly frozen individual pot pies at the grocery store when they were on sale. Chicken, turkey, beef.. all encased in a fat laden crust that turned golden brown when you baked them. I loved those things.  Every now and then, she would make big ones from scratch, usually after Thanksgiving when she was looking for ways to use up leftover turkey.  She'd get the big 9-by-13 baking pan out (there were 8 of us) and she'd put a pastry crust on the bottom, load it up with turkey and frozen peas and carrots and cooked diced potatoes in a yummy gravy and top it with more crust.  

I'm a sucker for anything in gravy to this day. Luckily, I married a man from northern Wisconsin who fell in love with me because I was the first woman he'd met that knew how to make gravy.  I wowed him over and over with these one dish pot pies.  As the years went on, I learned better ways to make that dish that were a little healthier,  most times, using my organic produce from the garden and leaner cuts of meat and sometimes no meat at all.  I make the pie crusts with butter instead of shortening, and use whole wheat pastry flour or at the very least unbleached flour to make the crust. Sometimes I make it with no bottom crust, and a biscuit crust on the top.  That's what we have today.

We belong to a discussion group that started out reading and discussing sustainability and ecology and food choices. At the end of each session, we have a big vegetarian potluck. This is fun because we have so many good cooks and there is a magnificent array of dishes.  One time I was trying to decide what to fix with what I had on hand, and it was a cold winter evening and I thought, boy...pot pie would be good. I went sleuthing around in the pantry and the cold room where we keep our root vegetables, came out with a handful of yummy things and an idea for a roasted root vegetable pot pie. 

You can make this dish with whatever you like. One secret ingredient in this added a layer of sweet richness to this that knocked everybody out.  I washed and thinly sliced an apple.  It made a world of difference in the taste.

carrots                                         

Making the Filling

Here's a list of ingredients I used for the filling.  I decided to make the biscuit crust for this one (simpler). After rummaging around in the pantry, I came out with.

Ingredients:

• 3 carrots
• 1 small butternut squash
• 1 large sweet potato
• 1 large onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 overripe apple
• 2 medium-sized red potatoes

In the fridge I found a stalk of celery,  some wild mushrooms (hen of the woods), and some butter.  In the cabinet, I found some dried basil from last years garden, some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

My vegetables are all organic. I wash them, I peel the ones that I have to (in this case the squash) and scrub the potatoes. I plant Beauregard sweet potatoes which have a very thin skin and we eat them skin and all. You can peel them if you want to, but I'll take the easy way every time. 

Instructions:

1. Cut the vegetables into bite sized pieces, spread out on a baking pan.

2. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and roast them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit  oven. Roasting vegetables first will bring out the sweet earthy flavors of the caramelized sugars in them.  And experiment with different kinds of vegetables. Does your family like turnips? Or beets?  Parsnips ?  Play with this dish and make it your own !

3. In another pan, melt some butter and slice your celery and mushrooms and apple into it.

4. Saute gently until the celery is tender.  

5. The mushrooms should put off enough liquid to make a broth base, add some hot water and your spices.  

6. Basil or rosemary or thyme will all complement your vegetables.  I have all 3, but I always have more basil than anything and that's what I grab first.  

7. You can lightly thicken this mixture if you want a nice gravy. Use cornstarch mixed in a little cold water.  

8. When your veggies are finished roasting (expect this to take about 30 minutes), you can mix all this together and pour it into a baking dish. For this amount, I used a round quiche dish with high sides.

Biscuit Dough Recipe

Now, the biscuit dough recipe I use is from a friend named Mary who lives in South Africa. We have been friends for several years and we were chatting one day and she mentioned she was making scones. And I said-- "oh! I love scones !  Send me your recipe."  And she did. And as I looked at it, scratching my head, I thought, "this looks like my granny's buttermilk biscuit recipe."  Well sure enough, the scones that we eat in this country are a whole different animal from the classic scones in Europe and beyond, which are, actually, biscuits.  Apparently.  At any rate, they're the easiest and best tasting biscuits I have ever eaten.

Ingredients:

• 2-1/2 cups flour
• 3-1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tbsp. sugar
• 1-1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 cup softened butter
• 1-1/4 cups buttermilk

Instructions:

1. Mix together the dry ingredients.

2. Cut the stick of butter into small cubes and then work into the flour mix with a pastry cutter.  

3. Once the mixture is nice and crumbly, stir in the buttermilk.

4. You don't want to overwork this dough, so knead it on a floured piece of waxed paper about 5 times.  

5. Then gently pat it out to about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick.  

6. Use a cookie cutter of your choice (I had to decide between the angel and the star), cut out the biscuits and lay them on top of your pan of vegetables. 

 veggiepotpie

 veggiepie

7. Cook this beauty in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven until the biscuits are done, about 15 to 20 minutes.

8. When it comes out of the oven, brush those little angels with some butter to make them glisten and shine.

It's a beautiful dish, healthy and hearty, and sure to please your family and friends. 


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


4/15/2014

bread doughIf not now, when? Tomorrow? Next week? For months I had been wanting to invite my sister and niece over to bake pumpkin rolls. They had asked me weeks before Christmas to teach them and I was happy to oblige. Then days turned into weeks, which turned into months. The new year began and reality hit hard. Within a couple of months, I had attended a memorial service or visited a funeral home six times. A brother, two mentors, an aunt, a neighbor, and my daughter’s longtime boyfriend had all passed away within eight weeks. Their time and my time with them, had run out.

Make some memories you will never forget.

Slow Down to Enjoy

You see, time passes so quickly when we don’t slow down to enjoy it. It is measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, etc. And it passes in its allotted….well, time. Realizing how precious time is and how precious people are, my sister and I selected a date. We rolled up our sleeves and we made pumpkin rolls. If you have ever made pumpkin rolls, you know they can be a little messy. So we made a little mess, but we also made memories. I sent them home with their pumpkin rolls and the only one who was disappointed was my husband because I didn’t save any for him. Because I am the Director of Happiness at Winn Sisters Farm, there were more pumpkin rolls baked the next day.

The lesson that I want to pass on to you is to share your time, but more importantly to share what you know. Most everyone knows that besides reading and writing, I LOVE TO BAKE. I also love to teach. Last summer at the middle school where I work, I taught my students how to bake bread. It was so much fun for me! They mixed, they kneaded, they waited, and then they partook of what I call heaven on earth, warm school-baked bread. They took their loaves home and shared them with their families. Hopefully, that lesson will stay with them for the rest of their lives. When one student came back to the school kitchen to check on his bread he exclaimed, “Ms. Carol, what happened to my bread?”. He had never seen risen dough and thought it was pretty amazing. I feel the same way each time I watch yeast doing its magic.

Basic Whole-Wheat Bread Recipe

bread bowl

The recipe we used at school is one of my favorites. It makes a basic whole wheat bread that is light and satisfying. The recipe makes two medium size loaves of bread and a small batch of cinnamon rolls.

5 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups of organic milk
3 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of butter
3 cups of bread flour
3 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt

I dissolve 5 teaspoons of active dry yeast in 1 cup warm water (about 120 degrees) in my bread-baking bowl. My big, clay mixing bowl is perfect for my bread-making because it can be used for mixing and kneading the dough.

I scald 2 cups of organic milk and let it cool to lukewarm.

I then dissolve 3 tablespoons of honey and 3 tablespoons of butter in the milk. Yesterday I used coconut oil in place of the butter for a little diversion and it worked out very well. Either way works for me.

I then measure out 3 cups of bread flour and 3 cups of white whole wheat flour and mix them together in a separate bowl. I add 1 tablespoon salt into the flour mixture. You will need a couple more cups of flour, but I add it as I knead the dough.

After I see the yeast starting to do its magic, I add the milk mixture to the water/yeast mixture. Then it is time to slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time and mixing as you go. This is where the extra two cups or so of flour will be used. After you have added the 6 cups of flour, add enough of the extra flour so that the mixture forms a nice workable dough, not too sticky.

Now, it is time to start the kneading. I knead my dough right in the bowl, but you can also use your pastry mat sprinkled lightly with flour. Place the dough on the mat, and using the heel of your hands, press the dough away from you and then fold it in half towards you and press again. Kneading will take about eight to ten minutes for your dough to become smooth and ready for it to rise. Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled on the bottom and sides. Cover with a pastry cloth. I use white linen cloths that are used specifically for my bread escapades.

Raising takes about an hour and then I punch the dough down. I divide the dough in two (for two large loaves) or three equal parts and place in buttered loaf pans and prepare into cinnamon rolls. The dough is then covered with the cloth again and the second rising begins. About an hour later they are placed in a 375 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven to bake for approximately 25 minutes. You may brush the tops of the loaves with butter before and after they bake, if you wish.

This bread takes about three hours from beginning to end. Isn’t there someone you would love to spend that time with? Just think of the coffee you could drink and the problems you could solve while you are waiting for that bread to rise, rise again, bake and possibly enjoy right out of the oven. Don’t you think, that now’s the time?



6/6/2013

Photo by Fotolia/Dimitrios

Reposted with permission from Menuism

Seafood is a heart-healthy, low-fat source of protein; the American Heart Association recommends we eat at least two servings a week. But there is myriad and often conflicting information about what fish we should and should not eat due to sustainability concerns. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out! So how does one eat more of the right types of seafood to reap all the health benefits without going bald? Choose local!

In 2009, a study by the World Wildlife Fund ranked U.S. fisheries second in the world for compliance with the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act, U.S. fisheries are required by law to meet ten national standards for sustainability and must work in tandem with the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts. These standards ensure that stocks are healthy, and that bycatch (the unwanted marine creatures caught while fishing for other species) and impacts to surrounding ecosystems are minimal. Put together, U.S. fisheries are among the best managed in the world, yet Americans import more than 86 percent of our seafood from sources that have few, if any, management measures in place to protect the health of stocks and the surrounding ecosystems. Whether you’re on the coast or days from it, domestic seafood is the responsible choice.

For those of us on the coast, it’s best to select seafood from our local seafood communities. Choosing local promotes diversity, minimizes carbon footprint, supports local fishermen, and it’s fresh! However, local, seasonal seafood is not always conducive to the tuna-and-salmon seafood diet to which many of us are accustomed. For example, here in Southern California, fishermen harvest sea urchin, sardines, and Kellet’s whelk (a type of sea snail). The majority of these harvests are shipped overseas because Americans tend to be squeamish, but we should learn to get over it! If we diversify our seafood palates, we’ll reduce mercury consumption and promote sustainable fisheries, while increasing our consumption to reap seafood’s health benefits. Try this sardine recipe by Chef Chad White of Sea Rocket Bistro in San Diego. He also created an uni gelato that is surprisingly tasty.

Chef White isn’t alone. Many chefs are turning underutilized, local species that we once turned our noses at into tasty and inspiring dishes. Proving that urchin does not have to make you sneer, Chef Michael Poompan of SIP Lounge at the Renaissance in Long Beach teamed with urchin diver Stephanie Mutz to create a creamy uni and grits dish that won over the crowd at a recent event. Many chefs who work with seafood have been inspired by the local movement and are forging relationships with local fishermen to feature their catch on their menus. Seafood for the Future is working to facilitate these relationships in Southern California at partner restaurants, including SlapFish, Gladstone’s, Andrei’s, and Roe. In Boston, 606 Congress’s Chef Rich Garcia has taken his support of local fishermen a step further. He’s partnered with Trace and Trust, which allows diners to see pictures of the fishermen who caught the fish on their plate along with the area, method, and date of catch.

Eating more of the right types of seafood doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The locavore movement is growing, and many chefs are doing the work for you by highlighting local selections on the menu. If the seafood is domestic, you can feel good about making a responsible choice that is good for you and good for the environment.

Feeling inspired? Want to create some local seafood concoctions of your own? Support community-supported fisheries (CSF). It’s the same concept as community-supported agriculture (CSA), but with seafood. You always know where your seafood is coming from, you’re supporting local fishermen and communities, and it doesn’t get any more fresh! The CSF trend is growing in popularity throughout the country and NOAA Fisheries recently conducted a summit to support CSF expansion in the U.S. Go to LocalCatch.org to find a CSF near you.

Photo by Fotolia/Dimitrios



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