Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.


Coconut Cream Bread Dough Recipe

When you think of a coconut, you likely soon after think of warm beaches, sunny skies and tropical weather. All those images are associated with the fruit, but I especially like coconut when the weather turns cool. This is particularly true for coconut cream. It is creamy, smooth and delicious and always digests well for me. Unlike milk, it is less likely to curdle in your tea and it evokes in every sip a slight nutty flavor. I am using coconut milk in my Pinehurst Coffee, which is rich bold and slow roasted, the coconut milk creates a sweet, creamy flavor.

Coconut milk can be used in teas, coffee, cookies, cakes, and right now, I am using it in my homemade breads. I love that it adds extra flavor and depth to each loaf. Coconut milk has vitamins C and E along with a load of B vitamins. You’ll also get minerals including iron, selenium, and magnesium.

Coconut Cream Buns Recipe

Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ cup coconut cream

Directions:

1. Mix a tablespoon of sugar and yeast with a tablespoon of warm water. Let sit for 20 minutes.

2. Add flour and coconut cream, and mix thoroughly. You may need to add a bit more water to make the mixture come together.

3. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes and let rest in a bowl with a cloth on the top until the dough has doubled in size.

4. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

April Jones is the founder of downtown Columbia, S.C.’s Pinehurst Farmers Market. Passionate about community, gardens, and farmer markets, April advocates for her community on issues of food justice and food sovereignty. Connect with April at Pinehurst Community Action on Facebook and at Pinehurst Farmers Market on Facebook. Read all of her 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.

The Natural Pantry: How to Add Nutritious Dehydrated Foods to Your Food Pantry

dehydrated foods for long-term food storage pantry

One thing I like to tell my readers at Ready Nutrition is to eat the food that you store. A way to do this is to take some of the food that you normally eat (fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.) and dehydrate them for later use. Doing so ensures you have your favorite foods on hand when you need it the most. For centuries, dehydrating food was used as the go-to method of expanding and maintaining a nutritious pantry. Nowadays, food has become more expensive, and with the added preservatives and artificial colorings, many are starting to consider the old ways of living are healthier than the modern one. Dehydrating food is a fast and affordable way to ensure you have all the right kinds of food at your disposal with minimal investment.

As well, this is a frugal way to use up any fresh foods whose shelf life needs extending. Any fruits or vegetables that my family does not eat gets sliced and dehydrated for pantry snacks. As well, I purchase meats in the discount aisle at the grocery store and slice it for jerky or dried meats for sauces and soups.   

The Dehydration Process Minimally Effects Food Sources

The dehydration process removes moisture from the food so that bacteria, yeast, and mold cannot grow. The added benefit is the dehydration process minimally affects the nutritional content of food. In fact, when using an in-home dehydration unit, 3%-5% of the nutritional content is lost compared to the canning method which loses 60%-80% of the nutritional content.  Additionally, vitamins A and C, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, magnesium, selenium and sodium are not altered or lost in the drying process. Therefore, the result is nutrient packed food that can be stored long term.

Fruits and vegetables are not the only food sources you can dehydrate. In the book, The Prepper’s Cookbook, I outline the multiple ways that one can use a dehydrator: vegetables, fruits, make jerky, make fruit or vegetable leather, dry herbs, spices, soup mixes, noodles, and even crafts. As well, you can make tasty “just add water” meals to your pantry for those busy days. When I began dehydrating foods, I purchased a modest dehydrator. Then, I realized how much I loved it and got a higher end model.

 Essential Rules to Follow When Dehydrating

Before you go crazy dehydrating, keep in mind that there are a few rules to follow to ensure food longevity, freshness, and prevention of discoloration. 

You can dehydrate any fruit or vegetable, regardless of quality or ripeness. If something is too ripe and soft, you can always puree it and dry the puree. Although using the best quality fruits and veggies will result in the best quality dried goods, remember that the goal here is preservation, not perfection. So don’t be afraid to dehydrate the bruised, overripe, and slightly damaged goods. Just make sure not to put mold in the dehydrator as it can spread and infect the rest of the foods.

Some food items can be air-dried. Herbs and other green leafy food sources, in particular, do not necessarily need a dehydrator. They can be set out on the way and air-dried.

Some foods need to be blanched. Blanching certain foods like onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes ahead of time will limit discoloration and the risk of food-borne illnesses. While it isn’t necessary, it certainly helps in the longevity of your dried foods.

Cook potatoes thoroughly for further enjoyment. Potatoes, beans, and other root vegetables should be cooked thoroughly and then dehydrated. I’ve made a pot of beans and dehydrated them for soups. I have also made dehydrated potato flakes to use in my prepper pantry.

Don’t dehydrate foods from different families at the same time. If you are dehydrating foods from different family groups, the flavors can cross over. For instance, if you are dehydrating tomatoes and peppers, note that the tomatoes will end up being spicy. As well, any Brassica should be dried on its own. Otherwise, the sulfur taste will permeate into the other foods. The only exception is dehydrating fruits. Fruits can be mixed together, but mixing them with strong tasting or smelling vegetables is not recommended.

Be consistent with your cut size and spacing. Try to keep the slices of food the same thickness to encourage even drying times. As well, try not to allow the food to touch one another or overlap (green leafy vegetables are ok though). Otherwise, it can block the airflow and prevent drying. 

Storage Life for Dehydrated Foods 

In most cases, dehydrated food can be stored for up to a year. Once dehydrated, the food shrinks in size and does not take up a lot of space and can be stored in a more organized fashion. For example, one pound of apples roughly turns into two ounces of dried apples. How’s that for space efficiency? 

1. Fruits and vegetables can last for up to 1 year if properly stored.

2. Dried meats should be consumed within 2-3 months.  However, it is suggested that if dried meats have not been consumed after one month, they should be stored in the refrigerator to prolong the freshness.

3. Herbs can last for years.

4. Noodles should be eaten within one year to enjoy the freshness. 

Dehydrating foods is a cost-effective solution to creating a nutritious and delicious pantry and use up any existing food you already have. Next time, we will discuss some cost efficient solutions to supplementing your food pantry!


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.

Try Untraditional Apple-Ginger-Orange Sauerkraut for a Fruity, Probiotic Variation

 

Probiotics found in sauerkraut provide many health benefits to your overall gut microbiome. Your microbiome is known as your digestive tract which is home to trillions of bacteria and has an enormous impact on your overall health. Research shows that gut bacteria can affect: brain function, skin health, and immune system strength. Also known as “your second brain” it’s safe to say we should be paying more attention to this very important part of ourselves!

Today I am sharing with you a twist on the traditional sauerkraut recipe. Instead of going savory, this procedure is more on the fruity, tart side. Introducing ginger, apple, and orange to the mix will still provide all the beneficial probiotics while getting creative with your fermentations.

Fermentation Procedure

Step 1: Shred one head of purple cabbage and add one table spoon of sea salt.

 

Step 2: Shred about two inches of ginger. Add more to your liking! I personally love ginger and have a really high tolerance for it so I added double the amount.

 

Step 3: Slice up two green apples into fairly thin pieces.

Step 4: Slice up one orange into thin slices.

  

Massage all the ingredients together in a large bowl for about five minutes. The cabbage will begin to “sweat” and release water. Locate your glass jar and grab your mixture in chunks trying to omit transferring all that released water. I recommend leaving your jar in a kitchen cabinet. Nice and room temperature away from sunlight. The perfect atmosphere for your mixture to ferment. Every two days open the lid to allow air flow after 5 to 7 days you can begin to eat or transfer to the fridge.

Enjoy your probiotic filled sauerkraut!

Taylor Goggin is tropical gardener in Florida who gained her skills in cooperative agriculture while work-trading with a World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program on the Hawaiian Islands. She now grows papaya, banana, avocado, fig, tomatoes, and medicinal herbs to make into inventive plant-based recipes. Connect with Taylor on Instagram, and read all of her 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.

Safe Food Storage of Your Dehydrated Food

After you have dehydrated and vacuum-sealed your garden's goodies, it's time to store them either for use during the winter and early spring months, or for those people who wish to have on hand an emergency supply of food — this post covers both!

I love to use Mason jars. Why? They are great for storing dehydrated food for daily/weekly use. It's so easy to screw off a lid, rather than having to cut the top seal off a vacuum-sealed pouch then having to re-vacuum seal it. Mason jars store easily in your kitchen cupboards making them a handy go-to while cooking your favorite recipe.

Use Oxygen Absorbers

With the use of Mason jars, I still use oxygen absorbers (more on those coming up in the next post). An easy way to know if the oxygen absorber is defunct is to listen for a "pop" when you unscrew the lid. If you hear that, then you know there's still some life left in the oxygen absorber. When it's completely dead, replace it.

What Size Oxygen Absorber To Use?

In my quart-size Mason jars I use a 100cc oxygen absorber, just like we use in the vacuum-sealed pouches. For the smaller pint-size Mason jars, a 50cc oxygen absorber is ample. So why use different sized jars? For lesser-used veggies, such as garlic in my case, the slices of dried garlic fit easily into the smaller half-pint Mason jars. Sometimes I'll use an "almost dead" 100cc oxygen absorber for use in the smaller half-pint Mason jars, therefore bypassing the need to purchase the smaller oxygen absorbers.

It doesn't take long to fill a quart-sized Mason jar with celery, corn, peas, hash-brown potatoes — and these are the mainstays of great soups! Back to the garlic slices: They're easy to crumble up into soups and stews.

Mylar Bags

As an alternative to Mason jars — especially for long-term storage — I highly recommend storing your vacuum-sealed pouches in Mylar bags. They're rip-proof, water-proof, and block out the light. Yes, the three enemies to food storage: Air, light, and water. Do a search online for Mylar bags. Amazon have them (but then again, what does Amazon NOT have?) The size of Mylar bags I choose to use are 10" x 14". Many times, the Mylar bags are bundled with oxygen absorbers so take that into consideration while perusing.

A quick note about Mylar bags: DO NOT attempt to draw the air out of them. Only the vacuum-sealed pouches have the air removed — in fact, it's pretty darn near impossible to draw the air out of a Mylar bag because both inner sides of the bag are smooth. When the bag is clamped in the food vacuum-sealer, the air cannot pass through! (In contrast, the vacuum-sealer bags have one inner "side" textured to allow for air-removal.)

I attempt to put in four vacuum-sealed pouches of food into each Mylar bag at the most. Don't overstuff — there's less risk of puncturing the vacuum-sealed pouches.


Plastic Lidded Bins

The use of plastic lidded bins are great for storing pouches of vacuum-sealed foods that are contained in the Mylar bags. If the plastic bin is classed as "airtight," then by all means you can add a 2,000cc oxygen absorber before snapping on the lid. For the most part, these plastic lidded bins are NOT airtight (the handles usually leak air) so I don't recommend wasting a 2,000cc oxygen absorber.

So why use these bins? They're great for stacking and are well-suited for long-term food storage! In a future post I'll show you how I made a great storage area along a bare wall instead of taking over a closet.

Feed Buckets with Lids

Head on down to your local DIY store and pick up some FOOD-grade buckets (#2 food grade). Don't forget the lids! Or you can go to Amazon. These buckets are definitely air-tight so please feel free to use the 2,000cc oxygen absorbers in the bucket along with your Mylar-bagged pouches.

Do I have to use the Mylar bags? No. But they help segregate your food — keeps you organized. Also, the Mylar bags are great for writing on the date and noting what's in it! Use a fine-tipped black felt marker.

Regarding the buckets: Amazon also have some special lids that you snap on called Gamma2 Lids — and the interior of the lids screw out. The manufacturers claim they are air-tight. Hey, they are great — have you ever had sore fingers from trying to pry off lids (especially in cold weather). Ouch! These save the day (and your fingers!).

Folk also use these big buckets with the screw-out lid centers to store their bulk dry dog and cat food. A user noted that she stored flour too without any bug problems.

Oxygen Absorbers Up Next!

In the next post, I'll get into oxygen absorbers and cover why they are necessary to combat mold-growth.

To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies too—for long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry full—whatever the reason or season!


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.

How to Dehydrate Fruit, Vegetables and Cooked Meats


Dehydrating food for long-term storage is the third step to ensuring safe food dehydration. Click here to read about the other steps. In this post I'm going to cover how to dehydrate:

1. Fresh or frozen fruit

2. Fresh or frozen vegetables

3. Cooked meats

Why "cooked" meats, you ask? It's easy and it's safer. I'm not talking about jerky-making here as that needs spices. What I'm proposing is to use the Sunday dinner's leftovers. I'll continue with the cooked meats shortly.

Dehydrating Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Pardon me for plugging my own website here: Easy Food Dehydrating. In my Fruit section that currently lists the top 14 fruit, you'll see exactly what each fruit needs (prep wise) and at what temperature to dehydrate them at and for approximately how long. Notice that I use lemon juice to deter oxidation (browning) — a prep step — and I use a glass bowl in which to spray and toss the fruit (and veggies). Here are my top five fruits to get you started:

• Apples - peel and slice - spray with lemon juice - lay on trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees for 4-10 hours until pliable
• Bananas - peel and slice lengthwise or in coins - spray with lemon juice - lay on dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-12 hours until they are leathery
• Grapes (for raisins) - rinse and pat dry - slice in half, cut side facing up on the dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-10 hours until pliable
• Pears - wash them - peel if desired - remove the core and cut into halves, quarters, or 3/8-inch slices (so long as they're all roughly the same size for even drying) - spray with lemon juice - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-16 hours until pliable
• Strawberries - wash and cut off the top, cut into 1/4-inch slices or into halves - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-15 hours until crisp and leathery

Even though the "owner manuals" state you don't have to rotate the trays during drying, I do. Those trays closest to the fan are obviously going to dry faster — and it's better to have them all dry at the same rate!

Don't forget to use your dehydrator sheets to keep your trays clean. Check out this post for more information on accessories to use when dehydrating sticky fruits.

Regarding using frozen fruit, you do not have to do any prep steps! In the five fruits I mentioned, their prep steps included washing, slicing, and spraying with lemon juice. When using frozen fruit, any big clumps of fruit can be run under (good) tap water for a few seconds to loosen them (while on the dehydrator tray). If the fruit is still in the bag, thump it on the counter-top a few times to loosen clumps — and don't blame me if the bag bursts — just be careful!

Dehydrating Fresh or Frozen Vegetables

Again, visit Easy Food Dehydrating. In my Vegetable section that currently lists the top 16 veggies, you'll see exactly what each vegetable needs (prep wise) and at what temperature to dehydrate them at and for approximately how long. Here are my top five veggies:

• Broccoli - cut your broccoli florets into even-sized pieces, rinse - blanch for 2 minutes - lay on trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-14 hours until brittle
• Carrots - peel and slice in coins — or dice them - blanch for 3 minutes (see note below) - place on dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-12 hours until they are leathery
• Garlic (regular or elephant) - peel and slice as evenly as possible (mandolines are great for elephant garlic) - place on the dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-12 hours until brittle
• Onions - peel - slice into rings, chop into slices, or dice (so long as they're all roughly the same size for even drying) - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 4-12 hours until pliable and please keep your windows open or run your stove's vent hood to remove odors. Why? Onion odor is poisonous to pets.
• Zucchini - wash and slice into 3/8-inch slices - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 5-11 hours until brittle

Note for the carrots: if you don't want to blanch your carrots, you can simply spray them with lemon juice instead. Much faster!

Don't forget you can also dehydrate frozen vegetables just like the frozen fruit.

 

Back to Dehydrating Cooked Meats

To dehydrate cooked meat, it really is simply a case of cutting up leftover chicken, beef, or ham into pieces that are roughly the same size. Consider dehydrating tubs of cooked meats, or if you have time to stand in line at the deli, ask them to slice your chosen cuts of cooked meat about 1/16-inch thick. When you get home, cut into strips and dehydrate at the higher temperature of 160 degrees F.

In the next post, I'll get into the step that many fans of dehydrating omit. It's a super-important step, especially for mushrooms! It's called "conditioning." Until then, have a super week!

To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies toofor long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry fullwhatever the reason or season!


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.

Kefir Grains for Cheesemaking and Fermentation (with Recipe)

Homemade Kefir Probiotic

Kefir (rhymes with deer) is a traditional yogurt culture from Central Asia. Often described as a fermented milk, kefir is a flavorful, drinkable and slightly effervescent yogurt.

Kefir, though, is made somewhat differently than the yogurt most of us are familiar with. Like yogurt, kefir is made by adding culture to milk and encouraging a fermentation that sours the milk and thickens it into kefir. But unlike yogurt, when kefir is ready, the kefir culture is taken out!

Kefir is not one single bacterial culture, but a community of diverse species of bacteria and fungi that live together in kefir grains. A Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeasts (SCOBY), kefir grains are known to contain dozens of bacterial and fungal cultures, each species playing a different role in the community, and all of the cultures together transform milk into kefir.

Many of kefir’s cultures are closely related to those found in both raw milk and our digestive tracts, making kefir an excellent probiotic, as well as a superb source of culture for cheesemaking.

Where to Find Kefir Grains

Kefir grains are easy to find, and, if well taken care of, they will provide beneficial cultures for life. Numerous vendors sell them online including Cultures for Health, Yeemoos and GEM cultures.

Alternatively, you can often find them in your community or on Craigslist, Etsy and E-bay.

Kefir Grains: A History

Kefir culture has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. All kefir grains that exist today are descendants of the original grains discovered in Central Asia countless generations ago. (Kefir’s millennia-old cultural lineage puts 100-year-old sourdough starters to shame!)

Kefir’s culture is intertwined with the nomadic culture of Central Asia’s high steppes. Stories from European travelers passing through the area described the traditional practice of keeping kefir as a continual fermentation of sheep or mare’s milk inside a dried sheep’s stomach, hung from the rafters of a yurt, from which kefir would be occasionally drunk.

Kefir likely helped these nomadic people drink the milk of their recently domesticated sheep, goats, and horses. Many residents of Central Asia are lactose-intolerant as adults, and kefir, with significantly less lactose than fresh milk as a result of its fermentation, would have been much more easily digested. The kefir fermentation would have also helped preserve the milk by limiting the growth of unwanted microorganisms.

It is not known how kefir grains came to be — more is known about the origin of the universe than the origin of the kefir! Given, however, that their microbiological profile is very similar to that of raw milk, and considering that the traditional practice of keeping kefir involved a continuous fermentation of raw milk, it is most probable that this multicultural organism evolved from the diverse cultures of raw milk.

Kefir and Cheesemaking

Kefir may be the perfect cheesemaking culture. It’s a biodiverse culture that is very easy to care for, simple to use, and nearly impossible to contaminate. The process of keeping kefir and using it for making cheese is similar to that for keeping sourdough starter for baking bread.

Every cheese can be made with kefir as a starter culture. It is a universal starter, containing both mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria that are adaptable to cheesemaking in any conditions.

Kefir also serves as a source of bacteria for aging cheeses: Kefir contains bacterial species that feed on the products left behind by lactic-acid bacteria. Kefir culture can therefore provide successions of ripening bacteria to any aged cheese.

Cheeses made with kefir as a starter do not taste of kefir — their flavor is akin to traditionally made raw milk cheeses, as the community of microorganisms in kefir is very similar to the community of microorganisms in raw milk.

Homemade Kefir as Part of a Daily Routine

To make kefir, simply place kefir grains in milk. Left at room temperature, the grains will ferment the milk and thicken it into kefir in about 1 day. The grains can then be strained out and placed once again in fresh milk, and the process repeated.

The making of kefir can take on a rhythmic nature: Because it takes kefir one full day to ferment, kefir-making can fit into a daily routine. If you feed kefir grains milk in the morning, by the next morning the kefir will be ready. Every day you can drink the previous day’s kefir while you make preparations for the next day’s.

Recipe for Homemade Kefir

I give my kefir grains as much milk as I wish to drink as kefir the next day. If I want to have a cup of kefir, I’ll give my kefir grains a cup of milk. And I will keep only the appropriate amount of kefir grains to ferment that cup of milk — between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon. Any more, and the kefir will ferment too quickly; any less, and the kefir will ferment too slowly (wild microorganisms may dominate, and the kefir may taste odd).

If you’re making more kefir, add at least 1 tablespoon and no more than ¼ cup of grains per quart of milk. Kefir grains grow as you feed them, so be sure to share excess grains with your friends.

I prefer to give my kefir grains a daily feeding to keep them active. But kefir can also be made in a larger quantity just once a week, and the kefir grains refrigerated in between feedings. However, kefir grains prefer to be fed regularly; keeping them in the fridge slows them down, and makes their first fermentation a bit unpredictable.

Kefir is excellent on its own, with a dash of salt added, or with a bit of honey, maple syrup or fruit preserves mixed in before or after fermentation.  One of my favorite additions is fresh cherries, which, if added to the milk before it ferments, become effervescent when the kefir is ready. Yields 1 cup (240 mL) of kefir.

Ingredients

• 1 teaspoon active kefir grains
• 1 cup (240 mL) milk

Equipment

• bowl; 1 glass jar, with lid
• Strainer

Time Frame: Around 24 hours

Directions

Feed the kefir grains: Place 1 teaspoon of kefir grains in a jar, and pour the milk over them. Seal the jar tightly.

1. Let the kefir grains ferment the milk for about 1 day until thick: Leave the jar to ferment on the counter in the kitchen. There is no need to keep the fermenting milk either warm or cool—kefir grains like room temperature best. After a day, the kefir grains should thicken up the milk into kefir.

2. Strain out the kefir grains, and drink the kefir. You can use a steel or plastic strainer to strain the thickened kefir into a bowl below.

3. Rinse the kefir grains in cool water (if you so choose), and feed them again! The kefir can be eaten right away, or saved in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

David Asher is an organic farmer and cheesemaker, cheese educator and cheese writer. He runs the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking, and is the author of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking (available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store).


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.

Easy Clay-Pot Baked Masala Chicken

In ancient times, a lot of cookery was made of clay, but as times have progressed we have moved on to other materials. My first exposure to clay was when my kind mother bought me a tagine, a traditional clay pots from Morocco. With that pot, I was able to create some amazing chicken dishes.

I found that cooking with clay creates a juicy and tender meat that is hard to recreate with other cooking techniques. Clay cooking is easy, and every time I've cooked with clay, the meal turns out to be amazing. 

Clay creates a juicy and flavorful meat that leads others to think you have cooking more masterful than what the technique requires. When I'm cooking with clay, it reminds me of how women have been cooking since ancient times using this sacred art of earthenware cooking. 

I have two types of clay pots: One is a tagine, and the other is a French clay pot. While cooking with those pots I feel as if I am honoring my heritage of my African and French roots. My best meals have been made using chicken baked in a clay pot. Below is my go-to recipe for cooking in clay.

Clay Pot Chicken Masala Recipe

Photo by tomcensani on Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 4 chicken leg quarters
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of Masala spice
  • Dash of pepper to season
  • Dash of salt to season
  • 5 small potatoes
  • 3 ounces of water (about 1/3 cup)

Directions:

1. Place the chicken in a clay pot.

2. Chop onion and add to the pot.

3. Chop cloves of garlic and add to the pot.

4. Chop five potatoes into quarters and add to the pot.

5. Add seasonings and 3 ounces of water.

6. Cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes.

April Jones is the founder of downtown Columbia, S.C.’s Pinehurst Farmers Market. Passionate about community, gardens, and farmer markets, April advocates for her community on issues of food justice and food sovereignty. Connect with April at Pinehurst Community Action on Facebook and at Pinehurst Farmers Market on Facebook. Read all of her 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.







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