Real Food

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1/5/2015

The heavy turkey and stuffing and ham and creamed potatoes were wonderful, but for the New Year I'm ready for something lighter and more healthful. One of my go-to meals is based on the terrific fresh or frozen fish fillets available at most grocery stores. These are definitely not the "fish sticks" we chipped away at every Friday night in my childhood.

Salmon, cod, flounder. It doesn't really matter which variety you prefer. Each can be improved and made moist and yummy with one, simple ingredient: sliced lemons.

lemon slices add zing

And I don't mean squeezed into a sauce, or sliced in wedges as a plate garnish.

lemons ready to pick

Thinly slice the lemons and after using your favorite dry rub, sea salt and cracked pepper on the fish fillets, place the lemon slices on top before baking them in the oven. That's all. For the photos in this recipe, I had the luxury of picking fresh Meyer lemons off of the plant that's living in my office until spring. But any lemon will help you kick-up the taste of your dish.

You can read more at Dede Ryan's website. And happy eating with MOTHER EARTH NEWS in 2015!


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.



1/5/2015

Using venison in place of beef in my family's dishes works for us for a few reasons: The meat comes from deer my husband has hunted in the wild. The deer feast in nature and are thus free of pesticide-laced feed. Additionally, because the meat is the product of a sport my husband enjoys, it is a cost-effective meat source. From hunting, my husband garners meat from about three deer a year. This provides more than enough meat for our family of two. 

venison 

Roast has long been a favorite dish of my husband's. Allowed to cook all day in the slow cooker, it produces an aroma that simply smells like home. If you have access to a nice venison roast, try this recipe. Delicious and mouth-watering, it is indistinguishable from beef roast.

Ingredients

• 1 venison roast
• 2 cups crushed tomatoes
• 1/4 cup peperoncini rings (Banana Peppers)
• 2 small onions, sectioned into chunks
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 tsp garlic
• 2 tsp salt
• 2 tsp pepper
• Optional: carrots and/or cubed potatoes

Directions

1. Place water and onions in the base of the slow cooker.

2. Set roast on top of the onion bed.

3. Slather one side of the roast with one cup of the tomatoes. Add half of the peperoncini. Sprinkle with one teaspoon each of pepper, salt, and garlic. Cook on high.

4. After two hours, flip the roast, and slather with the remaining tomatoes, peperoncini, and seasonings.

5. Continue to cook on high for two-three hours or until the meat pulls apart with a fork. Give the meat a final sprinkle of salt and pepper before serving.

6. Enjoy!

Monica Sharrock is a hunter's wife living in rural Oklahoma. She enjoys cooking with venison and preserved garden veggies.


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.



12/29/2014

appetizers

A coworker of mine recently brought these delicious roll ups to a holiday party; I was immediately hooked. Savory and satisfying, these Cream Cheese and Peperoncini Roll Ups will please the pickiest of palettes. Thinly sliced salami provides a protein-packed base for soft cream cheese and tangy peperoncini. Rolled up and adorned with a simple green olive, it is as visually pleasing as it is delicious. If you have jars of preserved banana peppers from your summer garden, this is a great recipe to make use of them.

Ingredients:

• 1 lb. thinly sliced salami
• 16 oz. spreadable cream cheese
• 1 cup thinly sliced peperoncini (banana peppers)
• Green olives, for garnishing

*Homegrown or USDA Organic ingredients are recommended to avoid ingesting harmful pesticides.

Directions:

1. Simply place one slice of salami on a plate and spread a generous amount of cream cheese down its center.

2. Add several peperoncini slices. This is going to be the bulk of your roll up, so be sure to add enough cream cheese and peperoncini to make it substantial.

3. Starting from the right side of the salami, roll it up until the ends meet.

4. Stick an olive on the end of a toothpick and secure the roll up.

5. Repeat this process until all of the salami slices are rolled up. If you use peperoncini from a jar, drizzling a bit of the liquid over the tops of the roll ups adds a fantastic tang. Enjoy!


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. 


12/29/2014

Pork: The Other White Meat

The industrial, corporate, factory-farm pork producers catch phrase for years, predicating every piece of pork advertising from print to television. And for once the advertising bared the truth. The industry’s pork taste exactly like the original white meat — chicken. Well, at least the factory-farmed chicken. How did that happen? The factory farms have produced widget-like pigs of the same size and weight, bred for a short, fat life inside a metal barn, with little or no chance at being a regular old pig, rolling in the mud, grazing on grass and flowers and digging up grubs and roots. The factory pigs taste more and more like the processed feed they are forced to eat. I challenge anyone to grill store-bought chicken breasts and pork chops — choose the big name brands, serve it up side-by-side to the kiddos and the spouse, then see who guesses what’s what. You’ll be lucky if they can tell it from the mashed ‘taters! Fortunately, you don’t have to eat that garbage, not when there are millions of pigs running wild all over America. Wild hogs, fat, healthy and grass-fed, should be on everyone’s menu. Don’t be scared! They are only ugly on the outside, unlike their factory bred cousins.

Big Pigs

It’s a travesty what corporate, factory farming has done to our beloved bacon, pork chops and baby back ribs. Water injections, antibiotic regimens, sodium-added, raised in cages, no fresh air, no fresh grass... oh, Hell I can’t even talk about it without spitting. Baby. Back. Ribs! Eating animals raised in those conditions cannot be good for you and your family, and it is definitely not good for the animal. How does eating something so sick make any sense? How does feeding those widgets to your family make more sense than feeding them something raised wild, grazing on grass, acorns, roots and grubs, and an occasional corn feeder’s burst? It’s time for a closer look at eating wild game versus factory-farmed meats. The big grocers carry the giant brands of corporate, factory-farmed pork, period. No choices. Well, don’t eat it. Ask for something else or shop around for a local hog farm. Or do what a lot of people in rural areas do. Hunt and trap wild hogs for food.

Hog Herd

If you live in the United States, chances are there’s a wild, grass-fed porker lurking about in the woods on the edge of town. Actually, there are more and more sightings of wild hogs within city limits, near jogging trails, on golf courses, and digging up uncounted-for back yards. There’s even a TV show about hunting wild hogs, so if Hollywood knows about it, it’s high time everyone was in on the trick. You may own property, or have been granted access somewhere outside town, and if so, your odds of catching a few wild hogs is actually better than you think. I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut there’s a pack of wild hogs within five miles of where you’re sitting. Now, you just need to lure them into your trap.

Trap Door

About that trap. Here in Texas wild hogs are so numerous everyone traps and hunts them, so you can buy a small steel trap for $400-$500 just about anywhere. Most are made from thick gauge wire hog panels, bent and tied together with wire or other fasteners. Wire-style traps (approximately 4-feet-by-4-feet-by-8-feet) will usually catch the big hogs, several yearlings, or a few sows and all their piglets. These traps are small enough for one person to move around empty, and load in the back of pickups or on trailers. The trap has a spring-loaded door on one end, set off by hogs bumping a string inside the trap connected to a latch on the door. Other trap doors are made to fall in place like guillotines, or swing down into place. Large round traps (30-foot diameter) with remote operation are available if you have a big property with a bad wild hog infestation. The traps are expensive ($3,500-$6000) but you can watch them live on your smartphone and spring the trapdoor when the hogs go inside. Seriously, it exists.

Baited and Set Trap

Catching a 350 pound wild hog sounds easy, right? To most sane people, it sounds crazy, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t already trapped over 500 in the past seven years with two small traps. With a well-made trap, some extra-stinky bait and the right conditions, you can catch wild hogs just about anywhere in the USA... in the world for that matter. Corn or wheat left to sour in its own juices or mixed with diesel is the best bait for wild hogs. Diesel keeps deer, raccoons and other critters from stealing all the bait. Hogs love it. If you’d rather not use diesel, beer or even water will help sour the mash. Leave it closed up in a 5-gallon bucket for a couple of weeks if possible. Bait the trap liberally and sprinkle a small amount around its perimeter and between  it any nearby game trails. Usually, the smaller hogs will get caught first, then the medium size lone boars, then others as food supplies dwindle during winter months.

Make sure you take all the precautions before you set foot in the woods. Don’t go in unarmed, alone, in sloppy weather conditions, or high on crack. Okay, don’t do crack for any reason, but be fully aware when you out go into the woods hunting hogs. They will get on you before you know it. Speed kills.

After You've Trapped the Hog

Now that you’ve trapped a wild hog, dispatch it to the butcher shop and turn it into all-natural, free-range pork. Sows weighing between 50 and 150 pounds will produce the best tasting pork, and smaller piglets, male or female, weighing 20 to 50 pounds make for an awesome whole hog roast. The boars, often masked in a musky, wild smell which sometimes permeates the meat, can usually be sold to a local buyer, who in turn buys for a big scale packer, with the end product destined for Asia, Europe and parts unknown. You don’t have to eat the big boars, but don’t turn them loose! Estimated US feral hog population is 4-6 million. Bel-Tex Processing are the people who sign my checks and they are happy to have the big hogs. Matter of fact, the price per pound goes up with the size of the hog, ranging from $0.20 per pound up to $0.60 per pound, with some buyers paying a head bonus of $10 to $25 each. Sell the boars. Take the cannoli.

Pig Parts

Gutting a wild hog is quite an experience. Who am I kidding, it is a nasty task unrelated to anything civilized, clean or aromatic. The ends justify the means, once again, so take your time, keep the meat free of hair, blood, urine and excrement. If you live where the temperatures stay below 45 degrees, or have a walk-in cooler available, let the hog hang for a few days to bleed out and cure. Three days hanging in a tree takes the gamey taste out of the meat.

Whole Hog Roast

If you plan to cook a whole hog, it is best to leave the skin on. This requires removing the hair which can be troublesome, but there are several ways to give a hog a haircut. Burning off the hair with a blow-torch will work but it discolors the skin and leaves an ashy residue. A Brillo pad will help remove the ash and hair particles left behind. Also, three hours on the barbecue pit will pretty much assure a clean, crispy carcass. A large tub of boiling water can be used to dip the hog in for a few minutes, then the hair is removed with knives or hand-held scrapers. This process isn’t easy to master. The water temperature has to be held constantly at near boiling, the hot water will cook the meat somewhat, especially if you have gutted the hog. You can remove the hair first, but then gutting the hog afterward can get the meat and skin dirty. The hair doesn’t exactly fall off the hide either, so be prepared to spend some time at it. Once you get this task mastered, cooking the whole hog on pit or smoker will make it worth your while.

Sausage Is Your Friend

Breakfast sausage, German sausage, Mexican sausage (chorizo), Asian sausage, sausage gumbo, sausage dressing, sausage on a stick... Soooo-Weeeeeeee there’s about two million recipes for making hog sausage. All of them good if you use the right ingredients and make it yourself. Grind up at least one of the hams and try your hand at making some sausage, and use the ground pork for other recipes such as meatballs, egg rolls, dumplings, terrines and more.  

 Sausage Making

Trapping wild hogs is dangerous. They can be man-eaters. Don’t underestimate their wild, untamed, animal instincts. Make sure you lock them in the trap, trailer, pen or cage if you plan to transport them to a buyer or elsewhere. Once trapped, if there are boars separate them into the trailer or cage, and those destined for the table should be put down immediately, hung up, gutted, and left alone overnight, at least. Don’t trap hogs in warm weather. Make sure you’ve had at least one freeze before you butcher them. Do not handle the babies under 2-3 weeks old. I’ve been told by the old timers they have a lot of “cooties.” Don’t mess with them.

Caught!

If you’ll trap a young sow, weighing 75-100 pounds, for your first adventure into wild hog dining, you will enjoy a great tasting piece of pork, and you will never miss that store-bought Franken-chicken-pig on your table. If I can answer any questions, get in touch. Happy Hunting!

Hog Trailer

RD Copeland:  rdcopelandjr@yahoo.com


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.



12/26/2014

crackers

During the holiday season, I love crafting simple-to-make, big-on-flavor appetizers for the various gatherings my family attends. It doesn't get any easier than opening a sleeve of saltines, mixing a few herbs into good olive oil, and baking for only a minute. Friends and family won't be able to resist this savory treat!

Preheat oven to Broil.

Ingredients:

• 2 sleeves saltine crackers
• 1 cup olive oil
• 2 tbsp creole seasoning
• 2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp garlic
• 2 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1 tsp oregano 

*Homegrown or USDA Organic ingredients are recommended to limit exposure to harmful pesticides. 

Directions:

1. Whisk together oil and seasonings until thoroughly blended.

2. Place saltines in a gallon-size Ziplock bag.

3. Pour seasoned oil over crackers, close the bag tightly, and shake until all crackers are well-coated with oil.

4. Allow crackers to rest for thirty minutes so that the crackers absorb the oil.

5. Place half the crackers on a cookie sheet.

6. Heat crackers for 20-30 seconds under the broiler until golden brown.

7. Repeat with the remaining half. Allow to cool or enjoy warm.


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.


12/24/2014

tortilla soup

On a cold winter's night, few things warm the soul like a hot bowl of comforting soup. Spicy and savory, this recipe is one that I craft at least every other week. Packed with good-for-you fare like garden tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans, etc., it's nature's medicine in a bowl. With all the nutrition found in this dish, it has probably kept more than a few colds at bay in my household! I use a lot of preserved veggies in this recipe, so it is a great dish for tapping into your wares. Additionally, I use cheese from Braums, a regional dairy outfit found only in Oklahoma and about 100 miles from its borders. Braums is known for taking excellent care of its herd, as its cattle have ample acreage to graze. Organic tortilla chips round out this dish, ensuring harmful pesticides make it nowhere near your soup bowl. I usually add a pound of ground deer meat for my husband, but this can be vegetarian-friendly if the meat is substituted for extra beans. Give it a try, and be sure to let me know what you think.

Tortilla Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 quart stewed tomatoes with juice
• 2 cups cooked chili beans (like Eden Organic)
• 2 cups cooked kidney beans (like Eden Organic)
• 1 cup diced bell peppers
• 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
• 1 pound browned ground venison/beef -or- 2 cups cooked black beans
• Chicken broth, as needed
• 1 tbsp chili powder
• 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
• 2 tsp cumin
• 2 tsp garlic
• 2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 2 tsp canola oil
• Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, for serving
• Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions:

In a pot, sauté onions and peppers in canola oil over low heat for about five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Add chicken broth as needed until soup is desired consistency. 

Serve with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Enjoy!

For another great hot dish that uses ground venison, check out my Hearty Venison Chili recipe.

Monica Sharrock is a second grade teacher and country wife who enjoys creating recipes composed of organic fare. She also likes finding new ways to use deer meat from her husband's hunts.


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.


12/22/2014

Raspberries
During the summer months I freeze most of my raspberry crop to eat during the winter. As the days darken, raspberries liven up my dishes. One of my favorite things to make with raspberries is a shrub, which is particularly festive for the holidays because of it’s bright red color. Known as “drinking vinegar,” a shrub is a vinegar syrup made by infusing fruit, herbs and spices. Mixed with sparkling water, champagne, or spirits, a shrub makes a refreshing cocktail. Common in colonial times, but dating back much farther in history, the vinegar preserves the ingredients and is shelf stable. Best of all, shrubs are a breeze to make.

Raspberry Shrub with Champagne

Raspberry Shrub Recipe

Ingredients

• 3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
• 3 cups red wine vinegar
• 1 cup sugar

Instructions

1. Sterilize a quart jar in boiling water for 10 minutes. In a sauce pan heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves.

2. Cool. When room temp, add the raspberries to the jar and pour the vinegar sugar liquid over top. Top with a lid and let sit for a week or two to infuse.

3. When ready, strain out the raspberries and return to the jar or bottle and give as gifts.

4. To serve, pour 1 shot of shrub in a champagne glass and top with chilled champagne, sparkling water or ginger ale. Happy Holidays!

Tammy Kimbler is the blogger of One tomato, two tomato. A cultivator at heart, Tammy’s passions lie with food, preservation, gardening and connecting to her local community through blogging and urban agriculture. She eats well and love to feed others as often as possible. She currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


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.












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