A Game Changer (Or, How to Get Kids to Eat Kale).

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Guys. I don’t want to be that person who’s all “This kale chip recipe changed my life.” But Y’ALL. This kale chip recipe changed my life. Although it’s not so much a recipe as a cooking temperature. 250 F. They won’t burn! (Ok, well they might if you really, really leave them in long enough.) I discovered this tip in a cookbook called Nourishing Meals that’s based on the blog by the same name. Her blog has a recipe for some sweet and spicy kale chips, a recipe that is also in the book, and the two times I’ve felt like making the sauce it has been so worth it. (I’m not going to write out the recipe, but check out the link for sweet and spicy kale chips above & just use olive oil and salt and follow the rest of the recipe, if you don’t want to make the sauce.)

The reason the kale chips are un-pictured is that they literally can’t survive long enough on the pan, let alone in a bowl or other container, for me to photograph them. Because all of us love them. (I didn’t even write about this when I originally posted this yesterday, but the main reason these chips have been amazing: The little people love them. LOVE THEM. Kale chip crumbs end up sprinkling the entire kitchen floor, but now that it’s warmer I’ll just send them outside.  Victory is mine.)

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Moroccan Stew for the Weekend

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I almost always make a big pot of stew or soup of some kind on Saturday morning, enough to last us for lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday.  Fortunately John doesn’t mind having the same thing a few meals in a row.

I forget if I’ve written about this here– I don’t think I have– but John shot a deer this fall! With a bow and arrow! At 54 yards, no tree stand.  Kind of a big deal, I’m just saying. And that means a freezer full of venison for us!  He ground a fair amount of it, which is my favorite to use for cooking, and he’s also canned some of it with a friend of his (which sounds really odd but it turns the meat completely tender and then it’s the easiest thing to just toss into whatever you’re cooking).

Anyway, this morning I made a Moroccan stew with some of the venison, loosely based on this recipe from the Splendid Table’s website.  I say “loosely based” because I really only used the proportion of spices from the recipe and otherwise used what I had on hand (venison instead of chicken, plus lots of freshly cooked chickpeas.  I skipped the almonds but added the zest and juice of a whole lemon. I added green beans and about a cup of dried apricots and prunes.)  See here for another similar recipe, if you’re interested.  And here’s a vegetarian version if you want to use chickpeas instead of meat.

It was 8 degrees this morning, so it was nice to be standing near the hot stove preparing this, and it felt good to use heaping teaspoons of ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin and let those spices melt together and fill the house with warmth.

This turned out a little meatier than I probably would have preferred (I probably used about 3 pounds of venison and would have been happier with 1, but I’ll just try to remember that for next time around.) I’m going to make a pot of rice to pour this over, and then we’ll be set until Monday.  With a lot of chickpeas and just a little bit of meat (ground lamb would be easy and really perfect for this), this is an incredibly economical and filling meal for wintertime.  And if any of you have any ideas for good filling stews please let me know! I have been rotating through the same 2 or 3 lately and could use some fresh inspiration!

CSA 8.17 & Other Things

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Our CSA this week: 5 heads of garlic, several onions, a bag of basil, sun gold tomatoes (most of which I ate straight out of the carton this afternoon– I am obsessed with these things), 2 heads of purple cabbage, potatoes, and red and golden beets.  And oh this garlic, fresh and shiny and purple under the dry outer skins.

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Also, I got this gorgeous cookbook from the library yesterday.  I’ve been reading this woman’s blog for awhile, and the book is just rich with recipes for wholesome, good food. I wanted to buy it, but I’ve been on a no-spending kick lately, so I didn’t. I cannot wait to cook as many things out of this as our limited budget will allow this week!

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And we’ve been drinking a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and raw honey for our colds.  A tablespoon here and there.  And drinking lots of tea. Still have quite a cough and might go back to the doctor this week if it doesn’t get any better.

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Chai Tea for Cold Days

[This is a re-post from last winter.  Apologies to all, but it’s so cold here I thought I would share my recipe again because, as I wrote last winter, “at least in upstate New York, this is the time of year when you just start getting tired of being bone cold all the time, and you know that there’s still a long time of coldness ahead, and you realize that you need to cling to the little graces of winter, mugs of soup and hot tea and the warmth of your best friend next to you at night.” Here’s to searching out little bits of joy in the depths of winter. L’chaim!]

Chai Tea

4 c. (about 1 liter) water

2-4 inches of fresh ginger, unpeeled* (exact amount not necessary)

7-10 whole cloves*

10 black peppercorns*

2 sticks of cinnamon*

10 green cardamom pods* (Optional. I’ve never actually made this with cardamom because it’s so expensive, but it is traditionally one of the dominant spices in masala chai)

1/4 t. loose black tea

milk of some kind (real or almond or whatever. preferably not skim)

sweetener of some kind (optional– 5 or 6 drops of liquid stevia work nicely with this)

* You can use powdered spices if you want, though the fresher they are, the better. (Also, if you are going to buy any of these spices, please, please check a natural grocery store’s bulk section first. You can save a ton of money buying any of these in bulk rather than the tiny, overpriced containers in the grocery store. When you buy in bulk, the price per pound is dramatically less, and you can buy smaller quantities of spices that you aren’t going to use much of.)

Bring water to a low boil and add ginger, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Boil for about 15 minutes (longer for a stronger chai) and then add a pinch of black tea. Continue boiling for a minute or two more. Strain the liquid and discard the spices. While the mixture is still warm, you can add a sweetener if you want. Add just a little at a time.

Serve hot with a splash of milk or refrigerate and serve cold with milk. (Milk helps the tea to be more easily digested.)

Health Benefits of Beet Kvass

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I started a batch of beet kvass (a nourishing tonic of Ukranian origin) a few days ago and it was ready today. It turned out to be not as terrible as some kvass I bought at the health food store a few months ago, so that’s good, right?. It tastes a little salty but rich and beet-y and bracing.  We don’t have the space in our kitchen for a big kombucha production, so this is a good (and simpler) alternative for those who want a refreshing probiotic beverage to help them feel superior to other wealthy, overeducated, urban-homesteading Americans who are obsessed with esoteric, fermented, “traditional” food and drink. (Ok, I don’t really know where that uplifting sentiment came from, but it’s aimed at myself & I guess stems from a deep self-consciousness about even posting about beet kvass in the first place. Existential angst still going strong at the ripe old age of 31. Sorry, y’all).

So anyway.  To make this, all you do is roughly chop a couple of beets (skin on), and put them in a glass jar with a little salt and some whey (or extra salt) and let it sit out at room temperature for a few days before storing in the fridge.  One recipe I saw said you could let it ferment for up to 2 weeks. You can also let it sit in the fridge for several days after the fermentation, which gives it a stronger flavor.

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Health Benefits of Beet Kvass

*cleanses the liver
*alkalizes the blood
*assists digestive system
*used in cancer therapy in Europe
*boosts energy
*great source of probiotics
*plenty of B vitamins and minerals

See here for recipe.  (Here’s a recipe that doesn’t require whey.) Read here for health benefits of beets.  Next time I make it I’m going to add some pieces of fresh ginger and see if it makes it nice and gingery.  I hope so.

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Collection of Soups, for Those Still in Winter

DSC_0564I know it’s been awhile.  Life has been a little busy.  John and I went to the panhandle of Florida for a long weekend visit to his brother’s family.  It was wonderful to see them and also wonderful to bask in 70 something degree weather for a few days.  It’s funny how much you can start to miss sunshine.  We came back to snow on the ground and more snow last night.

We stopped at the grocery on the way home so I could buy a bunch of collard greens.  After a day of airport food all I could think about was some sauteed collards.  I’ve been eating a lot of those lately.  Don’t know if I’ve mentioned that.  At 32 weeks pregnant I am mostly craving heaps of chocolate ice cream (which I try not to eat) and collard greens (which I do try to eat).  Maybe I can write out a semblance of a recipe for them soon.  (But until then here’s a good basic recipe that works for collards as well as the suggested kale or chard.  For my greens I use the basic elements of her recipe, but I don’t use parmesan and I cook the stems and also usually add a little splash of apple cider vinegar and some hot sauce and maybe 1 tsp. of honey or maple syrup if I’m feeling really fancy.)

Also when we got home John wanted to check my car to make sure it would turn on (the battery has been a little temperamental lately) and sure enough the battery was dead.  So at 9:00 after a full day of traveling (three separate airplanes…) and in the freezing cold he took my car to get a new battery.  Incredible man.

But back to the point of this post:  Heidi Swanson just posted a collection of some of her favorite soups on 101 Cookbooks, so I thought I’d share the link for any of you who live in a land of perpetual winter and might want a little inspiration.  I’m trying to decide which one of these I’d like to make this week.  Maybe this one?  Or this garlic soup…..

Microgreens, a Gift

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DSC_0542First of all, everyone listen to this.  (J. Kameron Carter preaching at Wheaton on Exodus 17.  It is stunning.)

At a church dinner this weekend, some friends of ours (one of whom works at a farm) brought a beautiful microgreens salad.  Dressed only with lemon juice and salt. It was  one of the most perfect things I have ever eaten.

DSC_0546Microgreens are basically the very young shoots of plants such as lettuces, radishes, peas, beets, kale, etc. Research has found that microgreens contain 4-6 times the amount of vitamins as their adult counterparts.  And the taste is sort of wild and fresh, the purest essence of the flavor of each plant.  So delicate and flavorful that only the merest gesture of dressing is needed.  Our friend said that his farm sells them for $40/pound at the farmers’ market.  We could never afford to buy them, or at least not more than one individual stem at a time.

So when he gave us a bag with the leftover greens after dinner I was ecstatic.  A treasure.  I didn’t have any lemons today, but I made a little sauce (as the French call salad dressing) with the juice of half an orange with about 1/4 tsp. salt stirred in until it dissolved.  Oh the joy.

Here’s a little information on how to grow them yourself if you’re interested.

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Pan-Seared Beef Heart with Waffles

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Like I said yesterday, the butcher gave John half a beef heart, and tonight we cooked it after a long day of sitting on the couch reading, doing budgets, and watching this incredible video.  (This man, who is an African American pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, should be the President.  He is a genius.  I am writing him in the ballot in 2016, and I am naming our child after him.  Plus, Obama’s face during this entire speech is priceless. He’s so angry.  Ok, I’m done.  I’m not going to get all political here.  Back to beef hearts.)

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So if the thought of a beef heart freaks you out, I apologize.  But in every culture in the world throughout time (except the last 30 or so years of ours) people have happily eaten liver, kidney, heart, and other organs.  We’re the strange ones for thinking it’s strange.

Organ meats are packed with iron, making them a great food for pregnancy, and they usually cost a fraction of what you’d pay for more other cuts of meat. 3 ounces of organ meats contain between 5-10 mg of iron, whereas the same amount of beef muscle contains only 3 mg. Beef heart is also packed with selenium, zinc, phosphorous, collagen, folic acid and CoQ10.

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Here’s an NPR story about beef hearts, and the source of the recipe I used.  We also made some waffles with spelt flour, using this recipe and a waffle machine that was a Christmas gift from John’s sweet sister.  The beef turned out wonderfully– tender, and tasted like steak.  We both loved it.  Between the heart and the waffles I was too concerned with eating to take any pictures of the meal as a whole.

If you want to cook beef heart, or any other part of a cow, please find a good, local source where the cows are pasture-fed.  The nutritional content (and taste) of industrially raised, grain-fed meat will be completely different. Also, please read Jonathan Foer’s book Eating Animals.

 

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Orange Vanilla Almond Cake

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It’s in the high 50s today, which feels almost exotic after the single digit weather we’ve been having.  The baby is thrashing around, and today for the first time I could see my abdomen visibly moving when the baby moved.  I’ve been trying to eat plenty of protein lately, for the baby.  Hence the almond meal cake.

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Also, for the record, I stopped taking my Trader Joe’s fish oil supplements a month or two ago.  I’m not really sure why.  I just didn’t feel motivated to take them, it’s a hassle, etc.  But I started back a few days ago, and my energy has at least doubled since then.  If anyone is feeling a little blah or lethargic, try fish oil, and take a double dose every day!

So, with my renewed energy I made this cake, adapted from a recipe on the back of a bag of Bob’s Red Mill almond meal.  I used olive oil instead of butter and almond milk instead of regular milk (so John can eat some).  And I added some orange zest and juice to give it a nice orange flavor.  It is truly moist and delicious.  (And gluten free!)  But this is also a simple cake, not the cake I’d make if I were trying to impress a dinner party.  A simple, family cake, or a cake for people who appreciate subtle, rustic fare.

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Orange Vanilla Almond Cake (Gluten Free)

3/4 c. butter (or equal amount of olive oil or coconut oil)
3/4 c. sugar (original recipe calls for 1 c. sugar, so you can do that if you want this very sweet, or even go down to 1/2 c. if you don’t need much sweetness)
4 eggs
scant 1/2 c. milk (regular or almond, soy, etc.)
1 t. vanilla
2-3 T orange zest (zest from 2 oranges)
5-7 T juice from one of the oranges*

1 and 1/2 c. almond meal/flour
1/2 c. coconut flour
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder

*You can substitute lemon zest and juice for a lemon cake, and you can add a couple of teaspoons of poppy seeds, if you want.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  Cream butter and sugar, or mix oils and sugar.  Add eggs, milk, orange juice and zest, and vanilla, and beat until smooth.

3.  Mix dry ingredients well and add them to the oil/sugar/egg mixture.  Stir sparingly until no lumps remain.

4.  Pour into greased (or parchment papered) 9×13 baking dish and bake at 350 f for 25-30 minutes. (Photos are of a half batch of the recipe!)

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