I’m famous! Or well, kind of….

I mean, I’m in the Northern Organic Farming Association newsletter.  That counts, right?!

Check it out on page 10!    https://interactivepdf.uniflip.com/2/26870/298080/pub/

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Nothing says “love” like good gut bacteria!

 

Show your love by getting your partner a spot in this upcoming class!

Culturing Dairy 101: Yogurt, Kefir, & Creme Fraiche

March 1, 3-6pm
Hyde Park MA
Cost: $40 in advance via this link, or $45 at the door

This class takes you step by step through the process of culturing your dairy to reap the benefits of beneficial bacteria in your diet.  These foods aid in digestion and play a major role in a healthy diet.  In this class, you’ll gain the following:

  • Skills to make your own cultured dairy at home
  • A wide range of nutritional information and guidance
  • Samples of items we’ll make
  • Extensive Q & A opportunity
  • $10 discount on future consulting services

This is a great class for anyone with any sort of digestive disorder including acid reflux or GERD, on the SCD or GAPS diets, or anyone simply looking for ways to add more healthy options to their menu.

Space is limited to 15 people.  Payment in advance will reserve your spot, and is highly recommended.  Contact me with any questions.

 

Liver Meatball Success!

IMG_1244There is nothing genius or original about this idea: take a food that many (er, most?) people think is unsavory yet believe it is very good for them, and try to hide it in a more popular food item.  Liver is tops on many people’s lists.

The best source of B complex vitamins, iron, folate, copper, and other trace minerals, liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  Although hugely important for pregnant or nursing mothers, everyone can benefit by working some organ meats into their cooking routine.

In my house, the days are mostly gone when my kids would gobble up liver and onions.  And while they’ll still eat sauteed heart (oh yes, I’m serious), I must hide liver in a variety of things.  Check out my post for liver-dip, which is popular in the warmer months.

This time, it was meatballs.  While I’ve done this many times in the past, never had I gotten the ratio so exactly right so that the liver was truly hidden, though present enough to enhance nutrition.   I served the meatballs at my daughter’s 2 year birthday party, to about 20 unsuspecting family members and friends.  And you know what? I got compliment after compliment on how good the meatballs were!  All of the kids ate meatball subs with cheese and got little nutrition boosts into their systems, along with the adults.  I looked on from the sidelines with my little secret.  Only at the end of the party did we tell some of the guests.  I guess the rest will find out soon enough now!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe that worked for me.  Be aware that I was making a large batch for a party, so you may want to reduce the amounts to meet your needs.

  • 4 lbs ground grass-fed beef
  • 1/3 lb liver
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsely
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Step one:  Puree raw liver in food processor.  This is very important!  If there are chunks, it can be hard to mix well into the meatballs

Step two: Puree onion and garlic in food processor

Step three:  Mix the ground beef, liver and onion/garlic together with your hand.  Yes, your clean hand.  No kitchen tool that I’ve met can be as thorough and efficient at mixing meatballs or meatloaf as humans first tool.  This is the way my grandmother did it, and her meatballs were outstanding also.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Step four:  Form into balls and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Then, put into a pot of homemade sauce to finish cooking and incorporate the flavor of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Almond Mango Lassi

This year we celebrated new years day by doing something rare: going out to eat.  The combination of kids and low-quality food in many restaurants is enough to thwart our attempts most often, but this time we wanted some authentic ethnic food and to just escape the house for a bit before a giant snow storm came and kept us house-bound for two days.  So, out we went and Indian food was on the menu.

Our 4 year old son is all about interesting foods and trying new things, as long as it’s meat of some sort.  Our little girl, on the other hand, always says “no thank you” first, and will maybe try a few bites by the time the meal is over, rarely straying from her standby foods of eggs and bone-broth soups.  While we did get a few bites of chicken tika and korma into her, what she drank down with gusto was the mango lassi.  A whole glass, and then some of the second one we ordered.  She gulped, loudly and with genuine pleasure.  And of course, she now asks for it at home.  Since whatever she likes to eat or drink I like to provide if at all possible, I went to work.

The catch is that she has a cold this week, so I’m trying to reduce her dairy consumption as it can increase mucus when the immune system is compromised.   I never use or recommend store-bought milk substitutes, as these always have harmful thickeners and added sugar.  So after some playing around in the kitchen, here’s what I came up with:

  • 1.5 cups of almonds, previously soaked & dried is best but is not necessary
  • 3 cups of water, use more or less depending on your desired thickness
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup, or more/less depending on your desired sweetness
  • 1 cup of frozen mango, though I’m sure fresh would work also
  • pinch of salt, if desired

Put the almonds, water and maple syrup into a powerful blender or food processor.  Blend until the nuts are pulverized and the liquid is white and milky, 2-5 minutes depending on your machine.   Then, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl.  Next, add the milk from the bowl back into the blender with the mango and puree until smooth.

The consistency will be thick, so if you want it thinner add in more water.  Enjoy!!

Garden lunch

I love New England in the fall!  I love New England in the fall!

Fried eggplantAlong with the crisp air, turning leaves & hot apple cider, much of the loveliness is the gardens.  Mine has been painfully neglected this year, yet due to soil that a DC friend referred to as “black gold,” our garden keeps on giving.  Tomato plants sprouted up from compost after my zucchini died in a summer heat wave.  My basil just gives and gives and gives.  And my eggplants- oh, my beautiful eggplants!  They showed little sign of growth this summer, but in mid-August we noticed some buds, which eventually became large, gorgeous fruits and lots of them.   My roots being what they are, there was only one thing to do with the beauty that my son picked today after school:  fried eggplant.  He also grabbed a tomato, a pepper, and some basil; we’re clearly trying to train him right.

“But I thought frying is bad”, you might be thinking.   But like so many, many things in life- it depends.   Fried food in restaurants are most often fried in vegetable oil, which is rancid and usually very old.  Vegetable oil is also linked to a wide range of diseases.    I’ve known some places to fry in olive oil, but that just gets you a big vat of carcinogens since olive oil is very unstable and oxidizes at high heats.

 
So, what did I fry my eggplant in?  Lard.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Lard from happy pigs that lived on a real, sustainable farm in Vermont.  Animal fats from healthy animals (not CAFO animals) is an excellent source of essential vitamins & minerals, including much sought-after Vitamin D.  Lard is also an extremely stable fat that does well with frying.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 beautiful eggplant
  • a bowl with flour, salt, pepper & parsley to taste.  I used this sprouted flour.  You can also add grated cheese to the flour mixture.
  • 1 bowl with two eggs, beaten.  Add salt & pepper to taste
  • a tablespoon of lard before every batch goes into the pan
  • cast-iron saute pan

Slice the eggplant.  Then take a slice and cover both sides in flour mixture.  Next, dip into the egg so that the whole slice is covered.  Put the slice into a hot saute pan with lard and fry on each side until done, roughly 5 minutes each side.  Repeat with every slice.  Do keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.  Remove from pan and put onto paper towel to drain.  Serve with basil, tomato, fried peppers, mozzarella cheese, or even put on a sandwich.  To turn this into eggplant parmigiana, simply add a tomato sauce & mozzarella cheese.

Real food from my real garden. Yum.

 

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?!

Mango Mango!

Some days, my kids won’t eat.  Not often, but sometimes.  And while they may not want meals, they do want “snacks”.  In our household, snacks do not mean packaged niblets of red-blue-green-dyes shaped like animals, or packaged rancid-oil crackers.  No, “snacks” in our house include real food: homemade soaked-flour carrot cake, homemade almond flour cookies, and a favorite: homemade ice cream!

This week, the ice cream was dairy free.  Coconut milk is so good for us, and I was almost out of raw milk.  Just three ingredients: frozen organic mango, about a cup and a half, a can of organic coconut milk, and raw local honey to taste, about 1/4 cup  or less in our house.  Pure mango & honey together, then put all three ingredients in an ice cream maker.  I also add a pinch or two of sea salt for a little extra something.

Just yesterday, my toddler ate a big helping of this mixed with yogurt for lunch and I was thrilled.  I don’t know who loves summer more, me or them.