Celebration Eggnog

Eggnog
‘Tis the season for celebration.  Here in Massachusetts, we are celebrating something special and rare in this country: a win for a nearly 300 year old farm and its supporters in a debate over raw milk regulation.

Last night, at a town hearing that drew over 300 people and filled the Ahern Middle School auditorium in Foxborough, the volunteers on the Foxborough Board of Health decided in a 2-1 vote to allow the state of Massachusetts to continue its monitoring of the Foxborough farm without any additional regulations by the town.

Countrywide, raw milk is a heated issue.  Supporters see raw milk as a health food that has helped solve many a health issue.  They see pasteurized milk as colored water at its best, and a toxic and damaging substance at its worst.

Those against raw milk cite bacteria levels as proof of its dangers, along with a myriad of government agencies that agree on the issue of bacteria levels.  Of course, these bacteria are exactly what the raw milk drinkers are after. Indeed, demand for raw milk is rising nationwide.

As it now stands, consumers in eastern Massachusetts have the freedom to choose raw milk and the Lawton family has the freedom to continue running their business under the state laws.  Those who do not wish to drink raw milk have other options, but what is important is choice for all of us.

To celebrate the win for freedom of choice, this morning I mixed up some fresh raw milk eggnog for my family.  Although the milk is indeed heated, it is not boiled or pasteurized so the good bacteria is still in tact.  Same goes for the egg yolks- raw is the best way to reap the nutritional benefits of eggs IF you know and trust your farmer and their practices. If you do not know/trust your farmer, you can heat the milk/yolk mixture a bit more.

This recipe can be dressed up with spices, spirits, or other flavors such as peppermint extract as desired.

Basic eggnog
2 cups raw local milk
4 egg yolks from pastured hens
1/4-1/3 cup pure maple syrup
a sprinkle of cinnamon & nutmeg, or more if you enjoy the taste
tiny pinch of salt

Warm milk on low heat in a small sauce pan.  Do not let boil.  If a layer of “skin” forms on the top, skim off and discard.  When warm, turn off the burner and add the four egg yolks.  Whisk until combined, then add the syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and mix.

Enjoy!

Update:  If you heat this after you put in the eggs in order to slightly “cook” the eggs to minimize risk, be very sure you’re whisking the mixture constantly while its heating.  If you do not, you risk getting something like lumpy scrambled eggs in milk.  This is why I recommend heating only before putting the egg yolks in, as they will then stay smooth and add only richness, not lumps.

Advertisements

Cinnamon-Plum Ice Cream!

I’m in a “use what you have” phase of life right now, which extends very nicely into the kitchen.  In lieu of finding a recipe and then going out and getting specific ingredients, we instead see what we have and what we could make with it.

When my kids wanted a treat and we all wanted something beyond vanilla, we looked no further than the fridge where a few plums had been forgotten, and I almost always have raw milk & cream on hand.  The taste of plums alone can be quite mild, so we added in some cinnamon for a spicy treat that has a host of health benefits.

Here’s how we did it:

3 plums, diced
1 cup of cream (you can add in up to 1 cup more for even richer ice cream, as desired)
1 cup of raw milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raw honey, the more mild the better
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
a splash of water

Place the plums and water in a small sauce pan, and simmer.  Leave on heat until plums are soft.  If all the water cooks off, add a bit more to cover the bottom and prevent burning but be careful not to add too much- it will wash out the plum flavor and make the ice cream too watery.  At the end of the simmering process, add honey after the heat has been turned off.  Mix & set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, or while the plums are simmering, mix all the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl, then place in the refrigerator.

Push the plum & honey mixture through a fine sieve, pushing the contents through with the back of a spoon, spatula or other utensil.  Continue until only the skins are left in the sieve. This may take a while, especially if the plums were not very ripe, but do not skip this step!  The smoothness of the ice cream is well worth the effort.

Add the plum mixture to the ice cream mixture and combine.  Place all ingredients in an ice cream maker until thick.   I like to top with shredded coconut or crispy almonds.  Enjoy!

 

Liver success!

One of the real foods many people struggle with working into their diet is liver.  It’s a nutrient power-house, especially for pregnant or nursing mothers and growing children.  But I find that I’m the hardest one to please in this regard as the rest of my family loves it fried with onions.  I, however, can’t get past the texture and the, well, livery taste.

Last week I did it: I made a recipe that is truly good, not just tolerable.  With the leftovers from a liver-and-onion dinner, I got creative.  Why not get the liver in small doses with a fun dip, rather than trying to choke down a whole steak all at once?

So here it is, a bacon-cheese dip that you can put on sourdough bread or dip veggies.  I’ve found it’s a great go-to lunch when I need something quick.  Bonus- my kids love it!    Enjoy!

2-3 cooked calves-liver steaks
2 packages of organic cream cheese, or even better 2 cups of homemade cream cheese
5+ strips of cooked nitrate/nitrite free bacon
3 gloves of garlic
1/2 red onion
1 green pepper
salt to taste

Food-process, or very finely chop all ingredients separately.  Then pure together until smooth.  Chill and serve!

Soup in the Summer

It’s hot, so why on earth would I dream of making or serving soup?  Two reasons:  First, my children always love soup, particularly things with chunks they can dive their hands into the bowl in pursuit of.  It’s a mess, but they always eat it all and have a blast doing so regardless of the season. I’ll trade a few more dirty shirts for thoroughly nourished children any day.

Second, it’s one of the easiest ways to make and eat real food, regardless of season or weather.  A big pot of soup still goes a long way in the summer, it’s still easy to toss together in the crock pot in the morning and have dinner ready at night.    This weekend,  my hero of a husband whipped up the following chowder, and we just finished it for lunch 3 days later.

One thing first: you’ll notice that I don’t usually put quantities in my recipes (except for baking) which probably frustrates some of you.   From where I stand, quantities in a recipe frustrate me- I generally don’t have the exact right amount of anything and end up modifying it anyway, or I don’t modify and either wonder what-might-have-been or scrap the recipe all together.

My approach, and my advice: use what you have!  Do you have just a few pieces of leftover cod from last night, but some frozen shrimp or scallops?  Toss them in!  Do you have sweet potatoes instead of celery root?  Leeks or scallions instead of onions?   Great, toss them in!   Don’t obsess about the amounts, and don’t be afraid to put in more of what you and your family likes and less of what they don’t.   It’s your kitchen, after all, and there are no rules if you’re eating real food.

Now, for this weeks soup:  Fish chowder

Ingredients
Cod, or any other white fish will work
onions, diced to desired size
celery root, in chunks (potatoes work great also)
homemade stock, fish is best but beef or chicken both work well
raw milk
cream, (non-homogenized, grass-fed)
sea salt and pepper to taste
butter for sauteing

Optional items: Bacon, organic corn, fennel

Process
Saute onions in butter, lightly.  Then toss in fish for just a few minutes- do not over cook.  Take fish out and add the broth and the celery root or potatoes, and simmer until soft.  Add the fish and the remainder of the ingredients and let simmer.  Season to taste.   Serve with sourdough bread and butter.    What could be easier?!

Summer Grilling

It’s summertime and like most people world wide, we like to cook meat over over a fire. Perhaps what’s most attractive is the primal aspect to it, an ancient connection to the elements that lures us outside on the hottest of days to stand over a flame.  Or maybe it’s simple cost efficiency- cooking inside causes the AC to go into overdrive.  Either way,  many nights a week we find ourselves at the grill, explaining the properties of fire to our 3 year old.

In light of this habit, I decided to take an adventure into the heart of southern cooking.  Ribs.  Beef ribs, no less.  They looked amazing, and how hard could it be, right?   And even if it went bad, I was comforted by the idea of bone broth after the meat was gone- that’s how I can justify such expensive cuts, by making several meals out of it.  Truth be told, I was still daunted by these ribs.  Little frightens me these days, as I’ve hacked my way through heart, liver, kidneys, and slurped bone marrow over the last several years.  Yet, beef ribs caused me angst.

After some recipe searching, we settled on a rub and then a low-and-slow bake in the oven, to be finished on the grill.   Creating the rub was fantastic.  I’m not a fan of measurements or exactitude, so the experimentation with a variety of vivid and fragrant spices was thrilling for the senses.  Rubbed on (quite a fun activity), I was ready to roast.

With the oven prepped to 225 degrees, the ribs were to cook for 3 hours.  Leaving the oven on for any length of time in the summer is counter-intuitive to me, but I went with the recipe, something I rarely do.  3 hours later, with the AC on overdrive, we put the ribs on the grill to finish.

The taste?  Well, it was fantastic.  Pure, sweet, juicy delight.  Though I’ve far from perfected ribs as the texture wasn’t the melt-in-your-mouth I was going for, it was a delicious dinner which was confirmed by my 16 month old sucking on the ribs.  But that wasn’t the best part.

It came 2 days later, when all of those immense, thick rib bones were turned into bone broth, together with some onions, carrots & garlic.  Thick, rich colored, gelatinous broth, which my children gulped down with loud slurps.  They fought over the globs of bone marrow, with the little one happy to have won the bone to suck on and nibble any last bits of meat off.    I couldn’t help but beam with pride.