Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Real Food Remedies? January 15, 2010

This week our whole family was downed by a terrible stomach flu and it had me thinking: What kind of home remedies do people create using real food?

During my studies in Chinese Medicine, we had a whole semester course dedicated to healing with food. Chinese Medicine utilizes nutrition to help people bring themselves into balance and recover from illness. As a result my reliance on food as medicine is somewhat ingrained at this point. However, aside from understanding the energetics of certain ingredients, my recipe box is somewhat limited in terms of “healing foods”.

One of my standbys is certainly chicken noodle soup – there is nothing better than a really rich chicken broth loaded with carrots and celery and chicken fat to really make you feel like you’re healing yourself. Another thing I have only just recently added to my repertoire is home made pro-biotic foods such as kefir and yogurt using the goat milk from my girls. This has come in handy recently due to the bout of stomach flu. I have also been known to make congee – a traditional Chinese porridge made of rice or a combination of rice and millet that is cooked until the grains become gelatinous. Typically done in my crockpot overnight, this can be a great way to get nutrition in a person recovering from an illness or even to wake up the digestion in the mornings the way a bowl of nice oatmeal or hot cereal does. The Chinese frequently add protein to their congee in the form of fried or scrambled eggs and pork, as well as vegetables.

However, aside from the above list, my “healing food” recipe box is empty. Bone marrow soup, for example, is something I have learned is a great tonic, but I’ve never made. I’d be curious what other healing recipes people out there have in their cupboards. This winter has seen some pretty virulent diseases, including H1N1 and as a person who does not vaccinate, I must seek out other defenses against these things. Please feel free to add your favorite healing dishes! I would love to see what other people have up their sleeves 😉

Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 chicken (approx 2 lbs – bone in and skin on! very important!)
4 c water
1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots
2 stalks of celery (or 1 stalk + 1 tsp celery seed)
1/2 onion, skin on
2 inch fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp dried, crushed)
4 inch fresh thyme (1 tsp dried, crushed)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb noodles (home made or otherwise)

To begin, make your chicken stock. Place the chicken in a large stock pot and add the water, half the carrot cut into large pieces, 1 celery stalk cut into four pieces OR 1 tsp celery seed, and the onion, quartered. Also add the fresh herbs and salt and pepper, to taste. I prefer a more salty stock, so I typically add about 2 – 3 tsp of sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for about an hour.

The key to this stock is to use chicken that has skin and bone. Typically I buy my birds whole and butcher them at home. I like to cut them right down the middle, unless I am making something that calls specifically for breast meat. That way when I make my stock I have a nice bony, fatty carcass to boil up. The real secret to good chicken stock is the fat. Many recipes call for skimming after the stock has been made. I never do this – why get rid of all that fat?

Once the chicken is cooked through and you have a nice oil slick of fat on the surface of your stock, go ahead and remove your chicken, placing it to cool on a cutting board nearby. Then strain the stock in order to remove the now overcooked veggies. I use a colander for this and simply pour the stock from one pot to another rather than trying to strain it into a jar.

Once your chicken has cooled enough so that you can handle it without burning yourself, remove all the meat and set this aside in another bowl. You can dice the meat if you’d like, but I tend to just leave it in it’s shredded state.

At this point you can reconstruct your soup. Go ahead and put the chicken back in the stock, along with the second celery rib, diced, and the rest of your carrot, sliced thinly. In a separate pot, boil the water for the pasta. You don’t want to try to cook the pasta in the soup as this will result in a loss of too much stock and will lead to soggy noodles.

Once the noodles have reached al dente consistency, strain them and toss them in the chicken soup. Let everything cook at a low simmer for a few more minutes and you are ready to serve!

Look for my experiments with raw goat kefir at a later date. Until then, Happy Eating!

This blog has been my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s, hosted this week by Cheeseslave.


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!


Got Goat Milk? September 30, 2009

Filed under: Home Economics,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 11:25 am
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We’ve had our dairy goats for not quite a week now and as you may have noticed, it has completely messed up my schedule! I haven’t had time to write since they arrived and my morning routine with the little man has been completely undone, resulting in a fair number of tantrums and general clinginess.

Regardless, I am happily milking my goat twice a day and I am consuming the milk almost as quickly as I can milk her – mostly because a) my hands cramp up before I can fully empty her and b) she kicks over about 30% of the milk I get out of her. I end up with about 1/2 quart a day total which suffices for my tea and for my son’s cup of milk.

It should also be noted that the rest of the household is having a hard time drinking the milk knowing that it came from the goat out in the yard. As my boyfriend said, “I can’t shake the image of it coming from an udder.” This makes the small supply we have been getting more than sufficient.

All that aside, the experience of having goats and milking them has thus far been fabulous. I was forced to ask a friend to come out and show me the ropes initially, but after her demonstration it has been relatively smooth sailing since. I have learned a few things of huge import in the last week that I wanted to share in the event anyone else out there is considering getting goats for their home milk supply.

Get a milking stand

Regardless of what you may think, it is better for everyone if you have a sturdy milking stand with a nice locking stock. This makes both the goat and the milker happier. All attempts at milking prior to the completion of the milking stand were disastrous. It should also be noted that you must separate the milking goat from your other goats, otherwise you will have to continuously fight off the other goats. This is nearly impossible if you only have four limbs.

Be prepared to lose most of your milk at the beginning

Unless you have an incredibly patient goat and freakishly strong hands, you should be prepared to a) not be able to aim into the milk pail, resulting in milk all over you and the goat and b) have a bored goat. A bored goat will want you to be done and will encourage you to finish by stepping in the pail and possibly even kicking in an attempt to get off the milk stand.

The first few times I milked my goat it took me upwards of 30 minutes. This morning the whole process took me less than 10. You will get faster, but chances are your goat will not get more patient, so try to keep things nice between the two of you

Never use plastic

Always store your milk in glass or stainless steel. Canning jars work beautifully and add an element of homeyness to the presentation. Goat milking supplies can be found here:

Cool your milk immediately!

You don’t need an industrial freezer to do this. The easiest way is to take several freezer packs and place them in a stainless steel bowl or tub filled with cold water. Place your milk container in this tub and put in in the fridge. It will reach the 38 degrees it needs to quite quickly with this method and you will avoid actually freezing the milk which can have deleterious effects on its nutrition.

Be tenacious

Goats need to be milked, and you are the one to do it. A goat will dry up if not milked regularly and may even develop mastitis, an infection of the udder, which can become very dangerous. Regardless of kicking and hand cramping, keep milking! Your efforts will be rewarded and you will love it.

Some other hints:

Raw goats milk tastes almost exactly like cows milk. It is through the pasteurization or heating of the milk that it develops the distinct tang many people associate with goat milk. Raw goat milk will start to become goaty if kept around for longer than a week. When making cheese you should use the older milk. You might also notice a distinct spice to goat milk depending on what the goat has been eating. For example, my friend’s milk tastes slightly of lavender because she grows it in her yard near the goats.

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday.


The work of Fall – Putting Food By September 23, 2009

Filed under: Garden Fresh,Home Economics,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 2:04 pm
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It was the equinox yesterday (the 22nd) and is now officially fall. The work involved in food preparation is suddenly in full swing. Harvest time. I understand now why farm families tend to have so many children! You need all those hands to help out.

This week we have been working on putting food by. We have made some fruit preserves, apricot as well as a combination grape/plum which I am hopeful will turn into jelly now that it is in the fridge. Additionally I am trying to find some interesting recipes for all the tomatoes we have that are still green. The red ones are being turned into tomato sauce – we are, at heart, a family of Italians – but the green ones, especially the heirlooms that are still on the plants, will have to be picked sooner than later as the weather is starting to work against us.

We planted everything late this year and as a result some of the fruits of our labor are late to ripen and mature. Santa Fe has a relatively short growing season as a result of it’s altitude and it has recently been in the 30’s here at night. Desperate measures will have to be taken! I have found a few recipes, such as this one for tomato jam, which I may try – although I’d be using green tomatoes for it. I may also try to pickle some of the green ones.

Our potatoes can stay in the ground, as can the carrots and parsnips, so we won’t have to do anything with them. The apples are already blown, and produced a wonderful pie which I wrote about. The brussel sprouts can handle a frost or two, but the onions will need to be picked and the beans will have to be set aside as seeds for next years plants.

In addition to all the harvesting we’ve been doing, we also finally got our goats and have been struggling to learn how to milk, feed, and generally care for the two girls. It is quite a learning curve and as of yet we haven’t actually gotten any milk – we have milked the one successfully but she keeps stepping in the pail or, worse yet, knocking it over resulting in the loss of any creamy goodness.

Suffice it to say, we are heading into the winter with some challenges as well as some successes. I am hopeful that the food we are putting away will last through until spring, although I can tell you right now we don’t have nearly enough carrots. In either case we will certainly know what things need to be done next year.

This post is my contribution to this weeks Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave.


Nothing says fall like apple pie! September 14, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Garden Fresh,Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 10:27 pm
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Constructing the Pie

Constructing the Pie

We planted a few apple trees this year and while we pinched back most of the buds, I decided to save enough on our Granny Smith tree to make one pie. The apples have just started falling this week and so I decided to take advantage both of their ripeness and the cooler weather to make an apple pie with them – hopefully the first of many as we will soon be going to a local orchard to do some picking.

However this pie was particularly special because it used our apples, our very own apples, and the results were absolutely fantastic. Because my boyfriend doesn’t like cinnamon, I tend to use different spices to add flavor to my apple pies, resulting in a more cider like taste. Although, it should be noted, I haven’t gotten rid of the cinnamon entirely. That would just be wrong!

Fresh From the Tree Apple Pie

10-12 medium tart apples, peeled and cored. (Approx 3 – 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup evaporated cane juice*
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

*The sugar content can be adjusted to your taste and to the tartness of your apples. Always taste your apples before applying sugar!

Cut the apples into fairly thick slices – I like them to be about 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Mix the apples with the spices and sugar and pour into your pie crust.

Below are the crust recipe and baking instructions.

Amazing Pie Crust

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c lard, chilled (learn how to render at home here)
3 TBSP butter, chilled and cut into cubes
5-6 TBSP ice water.
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar

Finished Apple Pie

Finished Apple Pie

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk several times to mix. Add the lard and the cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter, mix the lard and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs – the pastry may start to come together a bit at this point. Add the ice water one teaspoon at a time until you can pick up the pastry and it will hold its shape when squeezed. Split the pastry in half and shape into disks. Store each pastry disk in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Prior to rolling the dough out, let it warm up for about 10 minutes or so otherwise you will have a hard time. Also be sure to use a lot of flour while rolling it out!

After the pie is constructed, brush a thin layer of heavy cream over the crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle some raw sugar on the top for texture. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about an hour or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Serve drizzled with more heavy cream to bring everything together.

Happy Eating!

This post was my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.


I’m drowning in tomatos! and other gardening news… September 2, 2009

Filed under: Garden Fresh,Home Economics,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 8:52 am
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Heirloom tomato - unripe

Heirloom tomato - unripe

Our tomato plants have exploded and there are copious amounts of tomatoes to be dealt with. I have already made several batches of pasta sauce and a few batches of ratatouille using eggplant and peppers from the farmers market. We’re getting ready to do some canning here in the next few weeks and I’m thinking I will also try my hand at some sun dried tomatoes. Although it should be noted they will not be dried in the sun, but rather in the kitchen in a basket. So I guess they’ll be my kitchen dried tomatoes instead.

Regardless of what we call them, the whole process of preparing foods for winter storage is fascinating and ultimately a lot of work. I can only hope it is going to be rewarding as well! I am planning on canning tomato sauce and apple products such as applesauce and pie filling, I will be freezing pesto sauce and possibly some veggies, such as the brussel sprouts. However the root veggies are presenting a problem. I desperately need a root cellar!

Root cellaring is fascinating to me as it is a very tried and true method of storing certain foods such as root vegetables and squash, however I have no idea how, or more importantly where, to make one. Certainly the concept is relatively straight forward – you basically dig a hole in the earth, cover it with some sort of roof, put a door on and voila! Root cellar. The problem isn’t so much that I don’t have an idea how to do it, but rather that I have nowhere convenient to put a root cellar nor do I have the shovel skills necessary to dig on out. All of the space close to the house is spoken for and even though we live on half an acre, the only vacant spots on the property are too far from both the house and the garden to be convenient. It requires further thought and better planning and we will have to contemplate it over the winter before any ground can be broken.

This has been a trial year as far as gardening goes. We have learned a lot of things we didn’t know before; companion planting is essential, ants can eat an amazing array of things, corn needs a lot of water and heirloom tomatoes are wonderful, but don’t produce as much so we need more. I suspect that the winter food preparation this year will be equally informative – no doubt we will learn all sorts of things about canning and freezing that we can’t even begin to imagine at this point. Information to file away for next year’s harvest. It is awe-inspiring to think about how much work is really required to feed a family of four when you are responsible for your own food production and processing. It makes you realize what the silent effects of industrial food really are.

I look forward to trying our garden again next summer, armed with the learning experiences gained this season, and I hope that we can find more success and more joy from the process. In the meantime it is stretching my culinary creativity to find recipes for all of these tomatoes and I will share my successes as well as my failures as they occur! And as much as I’d like to offer sliced tomatoes with sea salt as a recipe, I’m just not sure that counts. But it sure is delicious.

Happy Eating!

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday.


Home Made Mayonnaise – Attempt 1 August 12, 2009

Filed under: Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 8:23 am
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The ingredients

The ingredients

I have been wanting to try this for a while and I finally decided to make my first attempt tonight. I am sorry to say that the results were less than what I had hoped!

I found a recipe in Nourishing Traditions and decided to follow the recipe to the letter, seeing as this was my first attempt. It is rare that I will follow a recipe this closely and even though I had the best intentions, I am afraid to say that I was unable to stick to it.

Sadly the results were not what I had hoped they would be!

The recipe from Nourishing Traditions was as follows:

1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp dijon mustard
2-3 TBSP lemon juice
a generous pinch of sea salt
3/4 – 1 c olive oil
whey (optional and not used this time as I didn’t have any)

So I did that. And then tasted it. And was kind of appalled, to be honest.

For one thing there wasn’t nearly enough salt. So I added about another 1 1/2 teaspoons. Then I added about a tsp of apple cider vinegar because…well because. Then I added about another tsp mustard – yellow this time instead of dijon. Then I tasted it again and while it was better it still had a horribly weird bitter aftertaste. Akin to…bitter melon. Or possibly chalk.

In either case it appears as though olive oil may not be the best thing to use, however the only other oil I had in the house was expellar pressed canola oil and I just didn’t want to use it, expellar pressed or not. Sally Fallon suggest using a combination of olive oil and sunflower oil, which I may try next time. Or I may try only sunflower oil. Perhaps it was the olive oil I was using, but the results were so terrible I’m a bit nervous about attempting a re-make with a different type of olive oil. I will also be using whey next time, as I plan on trying to make some cheese later this week with my goat’s milk.

In either case, while I like the idea of making my own mayonnaise, and certainly plan on continuing to do it, I will not be using this particular recipe again. Luckily my other kitchen companion, the Joy of Cooking has a recipe for mayonnaise which is slightly different. My next attempt will be with that, so stay tuned and Happy Eating!

This post is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.