Real Food

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8/6/2014

I haven’t always been a fan of mayonnaise. The prolonged shelf life and illegible ingredients are creepy and downright disturbing.  My feelings started to change when I discovered how to make it with five ingredients (take that warehouse mayonnaise containers), in less than five minutes! My world of condiment consumption has been revolutionized thanks to ascertaining the knowledge of emulsion.

Emulsion is the art of blending two different liquids that normally do not mix.  In this instance, eggs and oil for mayonnaise.  Emulsifying is tricky.  I have had several disasters before mastering the delicate procedure. To my knowledge, there are three ways to emulsify eggs and oil to create mayonnaise.  One is by hand.  I have not tried this.  It requires much more patience than I possess, and very strong wrists, as the oil must be stirred vigorously into the egg mixture.  The second is with a food processor, and the third with a blender.  Personally, I use a Vitamix for quick performance, though this recipe may be used with other blenders or food processors.

Mayo IngredientsThe ingredients are:

3 eggs
1/2 tspsalt
1/2 tspmustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups oil

That’s it. The steps are simple. First, add three eggs to the blender, along with ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp dijon mustard, and ¼ cup of lemon juice. Next comes the fun part! If using a Vitamix, be on your toes. Any other blender or food processor is a bit more forgiving, but the friction heating of the Vitamix can destroy your emulsifying efforts in a blink of the eye.  Believe me, it’s frustrating!  Steadily turn the speed on, going from low all the way to high. While the motor continues to run, dribble the oil very slowly into the egg mixture. You will need 1-1/2 cups of oil.  My favorite is cold pressed Safflower Oil, but when I’m feeling experimental I will use other blends such as olive oil or Avocado oil, as pictured.  As the liquid thickens, you may pour at a faster rate. Once the motor slogs, dump the rest of the oil in as fast as possible and shut off the machine. Look inside.  You should have a creamy mixture with streaks of oil on the surface.  Carefully spoon the mayonnaise into a jar, scraping down all the sides and around the blades, stirring in the remaining oil.  Don’t worry if it is a little runny, the mayonnaise thickens as it cools in the fridge.

Surprisingly, we (family of 2) normally consume the two cups of mayonnaise within a month, before it goes bad.  Fuzzy greenish to grey mold growing on the surface is a good indication of expiration. 

Below you will find a few tips for troubleshooting as well as a disclaimer on using raw eggs.

Troubleshooting

If liquids are overly mixed, they will not reform into a unified blend.  You will know if this has happened if you have a yellowish liquid with white chunks. Don’t distress. Use this mix as a base for cold pasta salads and start over.  Third time is a charm.  You will need a couple of practice rounds to get the hang of pouring the oil. You must start the pour VERY slow. Then increase the rate as the liquids are blending.  As I stated earlier, the Vitamix can be especially challenging. 

Disclaimer

Be mindful of your source of eggs, as you are consuming a raw product.  If this is a concern, pasteurize the eggs before adding them to the blender. To pasteurize, place whole eggs in a saucepan of water.  Raise the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes; do not go above 142 degrees.  Remove the eggs and rinse thoroughly with cold water.  I only use the freshest eggs, 100 feet from the nesting box to my kitchen, so I do not bother with the pasteurization.  Choose your risks wisely.

final productGoodbye store bought mayonnaise.  Hello goodness.



8/6/2014

One thing I love about bread making is the experimentation that can be done once a couple of recipes become routine.  I developed this recipe because I was SO sure that all of the elements of a good breakfast can be combined to make a fine loaf of bread.  Everything needed to start the day is all in this loaf of bread:  coffee*, eggs, milk, oatmeal, honey.  A little preparation and pre-planning will provide a healthy “grab-n-go” option for those of us who often have their first meal of the day in the car.  Two slices topped with some peanut butter will begin the day with a full belly and plenty of energy without any processed sugar.  Enjoy.

*Note:  Caffeine does not bake out of coffee when in the oven, so for those who cannot have it, try either decaf or try one of the many other homemade bread recipes out there.

Finished breads

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons
Small frying pan
Whisk
Large mixing bowl
Medium / small mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Baking stone

Ingredients

1 cup coffee
5 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp yeast
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
6 tbsp softened butter
1 cup milk
½ cup oatmeal

In a small frying pan, combine 1/3 cup of flour and the coffee.  On medium heat, slowly stir the mixture until there are no lumps of flour visible, and the mixture is thick enough to make small lines in (see picture below).  Remove the pan from the burner and set aside.

coffee and flour

In the large mixing bowl, combine the salt, yeast, and remainder of the flour.  Make a hole/gully in the middle of the mixture.

In a small / medium sized bowl, combine the wet ingredients and mix until all everything is completely combined (i.e.: no single ingredient can be seen).

Pour the wet mixture into the gully in the middle of the dry ingredients and mix everything until no dry flour is visible.  Once the dough becomes “knead-able,” add the oatmeal slowly, folding it into the dough while kneading it.

dough and oatmeal

Once all of the ingredients are added, cover the dough and let it sit for about 45 minutes.

When the dough has risen, divide it into thirds and roll out a piece on a baker’s mat or lightly floured counter.

flat b'fast dough

Then roll the dough into a tube shape using the same technique as you would rolling a rug (see pics below).

b;fast loaf roll

rolled loaf

Let the dough sit in this shape for another 45-50 minutes.  Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  When done, allow cooling time of 10-15 minutes.

proofed

Slice, eat, and enjoy.



8/4/2014

Abouelafia BakeryEstablished in 1879 by an Arab-Israeli family, Abouelafia, an iconic bakery in Jaffa near Tel-Aviv, is open all day and all night, and is a place returned to by tourists and residents alike. It clearly has become embedded in the personal food histories of many. As one blog commenter put it,” This is a well known bakery in ancient Yafo (Jaffa), which most people would consider to be a "must". I know this place since I was a child.”  Its bakery specialties are a calzonist-looking treat called sambuska, stuffed with any number of combinations, pita breads, and much more.  A blogger on Herbivoracious described one sambuska as “ filled with silky smooth mashed potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and cheese. Big deal right? When you order it, they put it on the grill for a minute, then cut it open and add a sliced hardboiled egg. The warm, creamy potatoes, the rich egg and cheese, slightly chewy but tender dough, lots of black pepper.”

As important these days as its products, are the food historic bakery’s positive efforts to promote peace. Coincident with the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, its employees are wearing tee-shirts that read in Hebrew,  "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” The bakery, featured in the Facebook page of the same name, is offering the tees free to anyone who comes by.  “We have been around long enough to know that nothing but co-existence is the solution to this conflict!," said one of the bakery managers. 

The blogger at The Travel Affair wrote this a few years ago: “Owned by an Israeli-Arab family and staffed by Jews, Christians, and Moslems, here is a place where people of all religions both literally and metaphorically break bread together every day.”

We would welcome details on the history of this bakery, which thus far is not easily found on the web. For a  2008 BBC News video interview with Said Abulafia, click here.

Photo: Bakery from Avishai Teicher via the PikiWiki - Israel free image collection project. 

 



8/2/2014

Berry Coffee CakeCoffee cake seems to be the forgotten step-child of breakfast breads. Although once very popular – I personally have a file full of recipes from my newlywed days in the early 80’s – coffee cake has been eclipsed over the year by the proliferation of bagels, large, gooey muffins, and egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches.

Healthy Breakfast Bread

When the occasional coffee cake does still pop up in coffee shops, it bears little resemblance to coffee cakes of old. These newer versions are often sweet enough for dessert and topped with icing or even frosting. I don’t do frosting for breakfast, but I do still make this old-fashioned coffee cake when the berries are fresh. Who needs frosting when you can have sweet, plump blueberries and tangy raspberries?

This berry recipe, adapted from my Sinfully Good Blueberry Coffee Cake, has been tweaked to make it a bit healthier. I reduced the sugar, added raspberries, and use some whole grains to lower the glycemic index and increase the fiber content. Don’t worry though – it’s still moist and delicious. It makes the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea. Yield 16 servings.

Berry Coffee Cake Recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Topping:

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Add flours and baking powder. Stir to mix well. Gently fold in berries. Spoon into a greased 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before serving.

Additional Coffee Cake Recipes

Over the years MOTHER EARTH NEWS has shared a few fruit-full summertime coffee cake recipes, including this Buttermilk Coffee Cake with Plums recipe from 1975 and this Cherry Coffee Cake recipe from 1996.



8/1/2014

fudge pop

Here in Texas, and perhaps especially in my house, avocados are something we always seem to have on hand. From zesty guacamole to salads, sandwiches, and breakfast tacos, the creamy, green fruits lend their color, texture, and filling, heart-healthy fats to all manners of snacks and meals around here—and now, even to dessert.

With the heat of a Texas summer heavy in the air, I’ve been craving colder treats. So when I noticed the avocados in the bowl on my kitchen counter taking on the deep, black hue of ripeness, I dug out my ice-pop molds and got to work.

Avocados and chocolate, with their often overlooked fruity notes and subtle earthiness, have a surprising affinity for each other. The mild flavor and buttery texture of the avocado is a natural backdrop to chocolate’s more assertive presence.

I used unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk to thin out the mixture enough to easily pour into the molds, but coconut milk, cow’s milk, or your favorite milk-alternative should work well, too. If you use a sweetened product, you may want to slightly reduce the amount of honey you use. If you taste your mixture for sweetness, keep in mind that the frozen pops will be slightly less sweet than the unfrozen mixture, as extreme coldness mutes the sensation of sweetness.

I used Dutch-process cocoa powder, which has been treated with alkali, because that is what I had on hand. You can use natural (untreated) cocoa instead, but your fudge pops will be slightly lighter in color and slightly more acidic in flavor. 

If you want to get your chocolate fix without waiting for your ice pops to freeze, reduce the amounts honey and almond milk to generous 1/3-cups each, and dig into instant chocolate “pudding” instead. Yield 6 standard-size fudge pops.

Avocado Fudge Pops

1 large, ripe Hass avocado, peel and pit discarded
½ cup honey
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process cocoa)
1 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Distribute mixture evenly among six standard-sized ice-pop molds and freeze overnight or until completely frozen. Keep frozen until ready to serve. If needed to loosen a pop from its mold, carefully run the outside of the mold under hot water for 20-30 seconds.

Morgan Crumm is a mother, blogger, recipe-developer, and real-food advocate based in Dallas, TX. More of her work can be found at BeingTheSecretIngredient.com, a blog about food, life, and love. 



7/24/2014

Here in Michigan, cherries are in full swing. Whether you are in the southern part of the state or in the northwest where orchards and vineyards abound, you will find cherries. My favorite place to buy them is from a roadside stand out in the middle of nowhere. It is fun to stop in and talk with the people who labored to grow such an important food. They are the perfect fruit to incorporate in a variation of dishes.

Cherry crostata is a simple, delicious way to use summer’s rubies. I prefer to make my own crust, that way I can choice the best ingredients for my family and me. This recipe calls for coconut sugar, but feel free to use what best suits you.

Cherry Crostata Recipe

Cherry Crostata Recipe

Yields two 7” crostatas or one 15” crostata

Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold
5-6 tablespoons very cold water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

Filling
2 1/2 - 3 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the crust, in a food processor pulse flour, salt, sugar until well combined. Next, add butter and shortening and pulse until butter and shortening resemble small peas. Slowly pour in ice water and pulse until dough comes together in a ball. Be careful not to over mix. Pour onto floured surface. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Once the dough has cooled, roll on floured surface until it is about 14”-15” around or make two 7”.  Transfer to baking sheet.

Toss the cherries with sugar and pour onto rolled outdough, arranging them in an even layer, leaving about an inch border. Fold dough border over the outer edge of cherries. Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.



7/22/2014

Many, but not enough, food heritage sites are included in the US National Registry of Historic sites. One we came across recently entirely by chance, enticed along the way by farm stands overflowing with blueberries, is Whitesbog Village in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. The coastal plain Pine Barrens of South Jersey comprise over one million sandy acres, peppered with bog lands. 

Blueberry Bush

On a late weekday afternoon, the quiet of the Village, featuring small roads built from what the locals call “sugar sand,” is compelling. It is immediately evident that teams of thoughtful dedicated volunteers from the Whitesbog Preservation Trust have labored long to keep this unique food historic site and its mission of education largely intact.

Established in the early 1900’s by Joseph J White as a “company” town dedicated to cranberry  growing, Whitesbog was the largest cranberry farm in New Jersey. Even today New Jersey is the third largest producer of cranberries in the US.

White’s daughter, Elizabeth C. White, was a plant pioneer who developed the first cultivated high bush blueberry at Whitesbog in 1916, working with USDA scientist Dr. Frederick A. Coville, a hybridization expert. Together they developed the first successful plantings derived from local varieties that had grown for millennia in the pine woods.

Visitors today can stand at their pioneering blueberry patch adjacent to the home Elizabeth White lived in all her adult life.  Her work not only produced a commercially viable blueberry, it also began the propagating, marketing and sale of blueberry bushes, an altogether new business. 

Historic Blueberry Patch

Both cranberries and blueberries thrive on acidic soils, so combining the two plants in extensive production of the two made sense.

The White family was enlightened for its time, and sought to benefit the knowledgable locals who worked hard to make the endeavor succeed.  According to the Whitesbog website, “Elizabeth devised a plan to tap this knowledge in order to locate the best possible plants in the area – in effect, to locate one bush out of 10,000 having exceptionally fine characteristics for propagation. …Only bushes having berries 5/8 inch or larger were sought. The effort was rewarded at $2.00 per bush plus the time required for relocating each plant and bringing it back. In addition, the finders enjoyed the distinction of having the bushes which they found named after them. Thus it was that the last generation of the highly skilled woodsmen-gatherers gave their names to the first cultivated blueberries.”

According to White herself, “Finally, Rube Leek of Chatsworth found a bush. I did not know it was anything special at that time and I used the full name in my notes….Coville called it the Rube which I thought was a poor name for an aristocratic bush. He finally suggested that we call it the Rubel. And the Rubel bush has really been the keystone of blueberry breeding. It is the one bush of which there are hundreds of acres planted just by divisions.”

Elizabeth White is included in the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail.

New Jersey apparently is among the first states to identify and officially promote the role of specific women in the state’s history.

Elizabeth White HomeToday you can visit Whitesbog, “ the village and the surrounding 3,000 acres of cranberry bogs, blueberry fields, reservoirs, sugar sand roads and Pine Barren’s forests,” every day of the year, from dawn to dusk, as their website points out, but buildings are open only for special events, tours, or by special request. 

In addition to Elizabeth White’s house, you can explore the general store, a worker’s house, a cranberry sub-station, and the agricultural museum.

Interested visitors are invited to call the office, (609) 893-4646, to schedule a special visit.

The site is part of the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.

Photos by The Food Museum












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