Real Food

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8/14/2014

shell moundAnthropologists and archaeologists are finally taking note of and publicizing what early two-leggeds ate on an everyday basis. The old elementary school image of a large group of hunters surrounding and killing a woolly mammoth for food is now seen as an occasional, and lucky occurrence. Keeping elders and children fed day after day was done by the gatherers — were they all women? — who dug tubers and roots, picked berries, snared small mammals, netted birds, and carried back shellfish, to feed their clan.

It’s all part of the vast food heritage saga, as are the 1,000 year-old shell mounds of Florida, once abundant, now existing in just a few, well-protected locations.

The PInellas Point Temple Mound in what is today St. Petersburg was created from the shells of the mollusks that were the native American settlers primary food source. The mound was built using the discarded shells as a base, with builders constructing a type of temple that was placed on top.

It was on this spot that in 1528, Juan Ortiz, a captured Spaniard, was said to have been nearly “barbequed” to death by a local chief as revenge for the nasty treatment of his people by the Spanish explorer Panfilio Narvaez a year earlier.

Ortiz was supposedly rescued from the “barbacoa,” a rack used for smoking and drying meat, - yes, the origin of the bar-b-que - by the chief’s daughter, Princess Hirrihigua, who later helped him escape. Ten years later, Ortiz worked as a translator for the Hernan De Soto expedition. His near escape from grilling was included in various reports that eventually made their way to England. princessplaque

Some believe the fabled Captain John Smith was inspired by this tale to fabricate the story of his own “rescue” 80 years later by another Indian princess, Pocahontas. 

The Tampa Bay area has over a thousand anthropological sites, but this is one of the best preserved. The mound sits in a residential neighborhood. Visitors can now easily get to the top via a wooden boardwalk and stairs, added through the preservation efforts of people in the area. Signs along the way explain the site’s history and natural features.

For more info, explore here

Mound photo via stpeterealestateblog.com

Visit The Food Museum for more food heritage and history.



8/13/2014

pita sq jpgI have to say that bread is my downfall in life.  I love bread.  I am not picky, I will eat any kind of bread that you put in front of me.  So I am always looking for new bread.  My daughter is 14 and also loves bread.  Packing school lunches, you start to look for new things.  Pita bread was the answer.  I love that it is a pocket.  So many times when I pack a lunch, the sandwich falls apart before she gets a chance to eat it.  Pita bread helps with that.  Not to mention the incredible taste!!!  So it is a win, win for mother's.  I am going to try this with Sourdoughs International's South African (which is a whole wheat culture) and their Polish (which is a rye culture) cultures.  I think you can not go wrong with these.

Khubz Arabi from Classic Sourdoughs Revised A Home Baker’s Handbook by Ed and Jean Wood

Khubz arabi (Arab Bread) is a soft, round flatbread—the pita of the desert. This is probably the most delicious pita I have ever encountered. It is produced throughout the Middle East, both commercially and in the home. Yield 8 Flatbreads

2 cups sourdough culture
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Pour the culture into a mixing bowl. Add the water, salt, and oil and mix. Add the flour a cup at a time until too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny. Proof for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Then gently ease the dough from the container to a floured board.

Divide into 8 equal balls. Roll the balls into round flats about ¼ inch thick and form 2 stacks with the rounds, separated by paper towels. Proof the rounds at 85 degrees in proofing box for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 500°F. Use a hand board or large spatula to slide the rounds onto the heated baking sheet. Use care to avoid damage to the surface or the rounds may not puff completely. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the rounds puff and start to brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Happy baking.



8/13/2014

Canned Tomato BrothI preserve a lot of tomatoes.  You might call it my mission in life. In a few short weeks my kitchen will be covered from counter to counter with all different kinds of tomatoes, from cherries to big fat oxheart pastes, from saladettes to juicy beefsteak heirlooms.  I like to can all different types of tomatoes, separating their different flavors and textures into jewel colored jars.  But when you can varieties other than dense paste tomatoes, they create a lot of extra juice, which can lead to thin tomato sauce. To solve this problem I start separate the tomato water from the pulp and can the delicious tomato broth.

Making Tomato Broth

Canned Tomato Broth Recipe

15 pounds tomatoes
bottled lemon juice
salt (optional)

Skin the tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water and slipping off their skins. Heat pint canning jars in simmering water, along with lids, in preparation for canning. Quarter the pealed tomatoes, then slowly simmer them until they released their juices, about 20 minutes. Using a jelly bag strainer, separate the broth from the pulp without pressing. Use the pulp for canning, salsa or freezing.

Bring tomato broth back to a simmer. Remove jars from hot water. Add one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar before filling them with broth. You can add 1/2 tsp salt to each pint jar, although I prefer to leave the broth plain to avoid over salting my future dishes. Wipe the jar rims well, then topped with hot rings and lids. Add jars back to the boiling water. Process tomato broth pints at a full rolling boil for 35 minutes. Cool on a rack, then store in a cool dark place, removing rings and leaving lids. Reprocess any jars who’s lids do not seal. Yield about 6 pints.



8/8/2014

I have been bitten by the “juicing bug.”  I bought a juicer less than 12 hours after I finished watching the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” which is highly recommended to anyone looking to be inspired about health and natural foods.  After a honeymoon where I juiced anything and everything, I have found out a few recipes that really work for my tastes and budget that I have shared in picture form below.  I also wanted to share a few pearls with those who are new, or may be thinking of entering, the juicing game.

Tips for Using a Juicer

juice

1) Experiment, experiment, experiment.  There are plenty of sites that will provide recipes and accompanying shopping lists to have a certain kind of juicing experience.  While following “the book” is ok at the start, accounting for personal taste and seasonal availability (and price) is not taken into account.  Try a little of this, a little of that, combinations that seem like they would not complement each other.  Remember (possibly write down) what worked and what didn’t.  Don’t worry too much if something doesn’t work because…….

2) If a taste is not appealing, diluting the juice is an easy way to kill a lot of the taste and still get all the nutrients extracted.

3) Sticking with the gross theme, don’t juice a parsnip.  It’s the one time I could not finish what I juiced.  I hope this saves at least one person from making the same mistake.

4) Green apples save the day.  When they are in season, I stock up, because I have learned, that no matter how funky the combo, if a green apple or two are in the mix, the taste will be manageable.  Remember, juicing a lot of fruit leads to high concentrations of natural sugars, so save the sweet stuff as sort of an ace up the sleeve.

5) Try the juice before shutting off or taking apart the juicer.  You’ll know before it’s too late whether that green apple or an extra carrot is needed, because, yes, putting everything back together while the new juice sits idly is sometimes more than I can handle.

Juicer Recipes

So without further ado, here are the recipes:

apple chard

1 green apple, 3 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 2 stalks Swiss chard

beet

1 beet with leaves, ½ cucumber, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery

ginger

2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, ¼ of a butternut squash, 1 green apple

kale

2 stalks purple Kale, 3 carrots, 1 stalk broccoli, 1 top half of a butternut squash, 2 stalks celery

strawberry

2 stalks kale, 1 apple (any kind), 3-4 medium-sized strawberries, ½ large cucumber

Enjoy, and feel free to share a juice recipe in the comments section.



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.

Homemade Mayo Ingredients

Mayo Ingredients

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 final product

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.

Goodbye store-bought mayonnaise. Hello goodness.



8/6/2014

Finished breads

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.

Caffeinated Breakfast Loaf With Oatmeal Recipe

Utensils

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

Ingredients

coffee and flour

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.

dough and oatmeal

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.

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

proofed

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.

Slice, eat, and enjoy.

 

 

rolled loaf



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. 

 












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