Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Farmer’s Market score! January 11, 2010

Filed under: Eating local,Farmer's Market — realfoodmama @ 7:52 pm
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Farmer's Market harvest!The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market re-opened this weekend after a two week hiatus in observance of the holidays. I was very excited about going for several reasons and as usual, I was not disappointed.

The Farmer’s Market here in Santa Fe is like a large coffee shop – it has a permanent, dedicated indoor space and is catered by a local bakery which provides coffee and pastries, as well as local favorites like tamales and high class breakfast burritos with strange ingredients like gouda which cost a ridiculous six dollars. (Okay so clearly I am not a fan of the burritos). However there is definitely a sense of community at our farmer’s market and it is simply one of the many reasons I enjoy my weekly visits.

This last weekend I was particularly excited as I wanted to get some pecans (grown in the southern part of the state) and one of the enormous winter squash I had admired throughout December but failed to actually purchase. Luckily for me, both items were there on Saturday!

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, reviewed here, I have a plan for the squash that involves scooping out it’s innards and baking it with milk resulting in a soup cooked in it’s own turine (see this site for the recipe from the book).

As for the pecans, I am attempting to figure out how to make a pecan pie without using the standard corn syrup. I imagine a combination of molasses and honey would probably suffice, but I will have to think about it more. As soon as the recipe is attempted, I will post it!

Until then, Happy Eating!

 

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle January 8, 2010

Filed under: Book Review,Fight Back Fridays — realfoodmama @ 12:12 pm
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Animal, Vegetable, MiracleIt has been a while since I have read a book that makes me laugh out loud, but this one by Barbara Kingsolver has caused me to laugh hysterically, alarming my family more than once.

The book is basically a memoir, retelling the tale of a year spent by Kingsolver and her family sustaining themselves with home grown food. It starts off with the whole family uprooting themselves from a Tucson home and moving east, to 40 acres in Appalachia. They then proceed to do all the work required to feed a family of four with their own bare hands, including raising poultry for slaughter.

Kingsolver relays these tales with a self-depricating sense of humor and a realism that makes not only the book imminently relatable, but also inspires a sense of confidence in the reader. It makes me think that I too could grow all my own vegetables and bake all of my own bread. Perhaps I felt this way while reading because I am already moving in that direction – owning dairy goats, learning to garden, planting fruit trees and contemplating buying my own chickens this spring, but I like to think that it has as much to do with the authors sense of ease and her willingness to share her own failures and successes.

The book also contains brief additions written by Kingsolver’s husband and eldest daughter which include information on legislation, food trends and recipes. Each chapter in the book contains one or more of these short essays and I feel the communal nature of the writing helps engage the reader and makes one feel included in the project set forth at the beginning of the book – a year of self-subsistence.

All in all I feel that this book is a fabulous introduction to the ideas and realities of eating local, sustainable food. A much better introduction to the lifestyle and the philosophy than something like “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Pollan, mostly because it presents the ideas of Slow Food in a day to day, down home manner, rather than as a terrifying look into the horrors of food production in the country. As Kingsolver’s own daughter relates in the book, people tend to dislike being preached to and when she tried to share her new found knowledge about industrial farms, people often resented being made to feel guilty about their food choices. For this reason alone I believe that “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is a great book to recommend to those people who may be curious about changing their food habits, but need a gentle introduction to the lifestyle and the benefits of SOLE food.

This post is my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday blog carnival.

 

First time using my pasta maker! January 6, 2010

Filed under: Kitchen Toys,Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 2:45 pm
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My new toy!I love my new toy. It is by far the most fabulous piece of kitchen equipment I own. I have periodically made pasta from scratch for several years now, ever since a neighbor looked at me and said “Pasta is so easy…you could definitely do it”. And so I did.

My first batch was successful for the most part, but I struggled with rolling out the dough and getting the right texture. A problem I struggled with regularly up until yesterday. I could spend upwards of thirty minutes rolling out the elastic dough and still not achieve the texture and thinness I desired. But no more!

Using the same pasta recipe as always, I was able to create fabulous spaghetti using my new machine. Thin, light and with a beautiful texture, it was by far the best pasta I have had in a long time.

Home Made Pasta

2 c all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 TBSP olive oil
approximately 2 TBSP cold water*

Place the flour on a clean, flat counter top and create a mound. Dig a well in the middle and crack your three eggs into this well. Using a fork, whisk the olive oil into the eggs, and then continue to whisk, slowly adding the flour until it starts to thicken. At this point, use your well floured hands to combine the rest of the flour and the water, if necessary (see note below)

*Depending on your climate, you may not need to add any water to the mixture, however Santa Fe, NM has a relative humidity in the single digits and without a few tablespoons of H2O, my pasta dough dries out and becomes unusable.

Once the dough has come together, continue to kneed until you have a smooth, elastic quality. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel. Let rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

After the dough has rested, you are ready to roll it out. I had to season my pasta maker (by running a small quantity of dough through it to make sure everything was grime free) but once this was accomplished it was a simple matter of flouring the rolly parts and then getting to work.

Rolling the dough.

The end result was the beautiful pasta seen here…
The finished product...yuuuum.
…cover it in home made red sauce, sprinkle some fresh parm on it and voila! The best pasta ever!

This post has been my contribution to Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival. Check it out for more delicious posts!

 

New Year’s resolutions? January 3, 2010

Filed under: Food Activism,Garden Fresh,Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 8:50 pm
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So we are now three days into 2010 and I have moved from holiday planning to garden planning. It is the time to start thinking about seeds and I have a list a mile long…or so it seems.

In addition to resolving to continue buying locally and eating well I am also resolved to have a more successful garden this year than last. As some of you may remember, 2009 was a year of mixed successes and failures as far as my garden went. While our tomatoes did great, our squash were a complete bust, our corn failed to mature, and we managed to kill our raspberry plants because we placed them dangerously close to the potato patch.

All in all, not a huge success!

So in an effort to combine my gardening resolutions with the aforementioned “buying local” I have decided to purchase seeds from local sources as much as possible. One of the suppliers I am most excited about is Native Seeds SEARCH (Southwestern Endangered Aridland Resource Clearing House) While they are located in Tucson, AZ (not all that close, frankly) they carry seeds that are region specific. Things like the Chimayo Chili (Chimayo is a short 24 miles NE of my home in Santa Fe) and New Mexico bolitas (a dry bean grown for centuries in the northern sections of the state).

Of course I will also be purchasing seeds from Seeds of Change, a certified organic seed company with offices in Santa Fe and farms throughout the state.

My primary goal is to start several things from seed this year that we purchased in plant form last time…mainly tomatoes. Secondary to that of course is to improve upon last year by planting earlier, paying more attention to companion planting, and generally trying to improve my food stewardship.

In addition to my excitement about our garden, I am also anticipation several significant events regarding livestock. One of my dairy goats is pregnant and is due to deliver her kid9s) in March. We also have planned on getting chickens this spring (for eggs, not meat) and will need to design and build a chicken coop before May.

In either case, 2010 promises to be an interesting year and I am hopeful that I can continue my education about all things food.

 

Figgy pudding and a variety of other baking woes January 1, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:48 pm
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This years holiday season is upon us (boy is that an understatement) and I am so far behind on baking that I am almost ready to throw my hands up in the air and force people to make themselves sandwiches for dinner until 2010. It hasn’t helped that I was horribly ill over the weekend, meaning that the two days I was to spend making biscotti and minced beef suet were instead spent in bed or on the couch under copious blankets, desperately trying to keep my, also sick, two year old entertained without actually expending any energy.

I am sufficiently recovered at this point to get moving on this holiday thing, however, and while I am still hovering alarmingly close to the box of tissue in the dining room, I suspect that by tomorrow things will be in full swing. A batch of shortbread has already been made and consumed and I am moving on to the rest of my list. Most importantly will be the plum pudding attempt.

Traditional Christmas puddings (and by traditional I mean British) don’t actually have any plums in them. They are in fact mostly raisins and beef fat. I have been looking forward to trying beef suet ever since my first successful use of home rendered lard. The only thing I have been lacking was a good recipe in which to use it. But no longer!

I took the recipe right out of the Joy, modifying it only slightly, and was met with great success. A full days worth of effort went into the production, but the results were more than worth it. Additionally, thanks to a large quantity of spirits, all leftovers will leave over until well into the new year.

The process for making a steamed pudding is more time consuming than labor intensive and while a pudding mold does make the end result quite pretty, it is not necessary. A glass bowl will do just as well as long as you have aluminum foil with which to cover it. You will also need a large pot with a rack in order to steam the pudding. I used my pressure canner and it performed fabulously.

Plum Pudding

2 2/3 c raisins
1 1/2 c dried currants
1/2 c dried figs, diced
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
8 oz finely chopped or ground beef suet
1 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 c Cognac
1/3 c cream sherry

Begin by chopping coarsely 1/2 of the raisins. Combine the remainder of the raisins, the currants and figs with 2 c water. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes then uncover and let simmer until the remainder of the water boils away. Set aside and let cool until room temp – about 2 hours.

Frozen Beef SuetWhile you are waiting for the fruit mixture to cool, you can work on your beef suet. Beef fat is unlike leaf lard (pig fat) in that it has parchment like layers which need to be removed. The easiest way to do this is to freeze the suet prior to working with it and prepare it while it is still cold. The fat will simply crumble in your hands, having a very wax like consistency, and you can pull the parchment-like sections away. Once you have culled the fat thusly, simply use your best chef’s knife to mince it until it looks a bit like sand.

Minced SuetCombine the flour and minced beef suet in a bowl, rubbing it together with your hands until the fat particles are just separated. Add the sugar and spices and mix until just blended.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and the spirits, then add this to the flour mixture. Stir in the cooled fruit and pour the batter into a well greased mold. I used lard to grease the pudding mold, and I used a generous quantity at that. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace for the pudding to expand.

Pre-mold Pudding

Steaming away!Place the pudding in your canner (or other pot) and pour boiling water into it so it comes about 2/3 of the way up the side of your mold or bowl. For a 1 qt pudding, steam 4 to 5 hours. The above recipe makes two 1 quart desserts.

Garnish with some hard sauce (a concoction of butter, liquor and sugar) and enjoy. It should be noted this dessert is incredibly rich so proceed with caution.

Happy Holidays and enjoy 2010!