Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Cajeta…sort of September 14, 2010

Filed under: Home Made,Raw Goat Milk,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 4:27 pm
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So after perusing the goat forum I frequent (yes I realize I am kind of a loon) I decided to try a recipe posted for Cajeta. I modified it a bit because the original recipe called for corn starch. I try to avoid corn starch if at all possible because I have yet to find any that isn’t from GMO corn. Instead I used arrowroot powder. I have had success using it as a substitute in the past and this time was no different.

When using arrowroot powder as a substitute for corn starch, you want to use it at a 2:3 ratio. So if your recipe calls for 2 TBSP of corn starch, you use 4 tsp of arrowroot powder. A TBSP is = to 3 tsp.

Unfortunately, due to an “accident” the Cajeta is not particularly beautiful and as a result I refuse to post pictures of it!

So here is the recipe I used:


3 quarts raw goat milk
3 cups evaporated cane sugar
4 tsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

I admit to being totally confused as to the addition of the baking soda, but perhaps a knowledgeable reader can let me know what purpose it serves!

Basically you take a cup of the milk and, using a wire whisk, mix the arrowroot powder and baking soda in until it is smooth. Then add that mixture to the rest of the milk and sugar in a large pot. Bring rapidly to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and let cook down until it thickens and darkens in color (this took me about 3.5 hours)

Of course, I scorched mine! You have to continue stirring regularly towards the end of the process or this will happen to you! I decided (due no doubt to the fact that I am sick) that I didn’t care about the weird brown bits. After tasting it I decided it was fine, didn’t taste at all burnt, and after over three hours of work I put it in jars anyway and moved on.

This doesn’t have to happen to you, however. Simply stir continuously in the last 30 minutes or so and you will avoid getting speckled Cajeta.

The flavor is great and I am really looking forward to getting some apples and making some horribly decadent tart with it soon. I will, of course, post about that when I make it! Until then, happy eating.


A liverwurst conundrum. February 2, 2010

Filed under: Cravings,Farmer's Market — realfoodmama @ 10:29 am
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Recently I have been having a craving. It is insidious, a bit naughty, and creating a moral dilemma. I want liverwurst and I want it bad.

So why not just go buy it? Surely it can’t be that hard to find, right?

Theoretically, no. It can’t. However, the problem I am facing is simply that I can’t find an organic pork liverwurst to save my life, and I have no idea how to make it. The argument could be made that I should simply go buy some conventional liverwurst, eat a few sandwiches, feed some to the kiddo and then move on with my life but I just…can’t.

The reason? It’s liver…liver, the organ that filters all the toxins from the body, the organ that pulls all those hormones and antibiotics given to conventional pork from the blood stream. In short, the most contaminated of all the organ meats. It gives me the heebie jeebies, to be honest. Not because it’s liver, obviously, but because it’s contaminated. Ick.

So I did what any food purist would do, I asked my local pork guy at the farmer’s market if he ever made liverwurst. Unfortunately he looked at me like I had grown a second head and he’s used to weird requests from me – things like lard and beef suet are frequently discussed. However, he said he would look into it. And while he may not make it for me, he is willing to sell me pork livers so I can make it myself. I love the idea of making my own liverwurst, and I have a few recipe sources I could try (isn’t the internet great?!) but I have to admit to being a little intimidated by having a pork liver in my freezer.

In either case, I want nothing more than a nice liverwurst sandwich on thick home made sourdough bread, slathered with home made mayonnaise. Maybe one day!

Until then, Happy Eating!


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.


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!


Fig, honey and pine nut tart August 31, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Eating local,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 6:56 pm
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Figs, local honey and pine nuts. Delicious!

Figs, local honey and pine nuts. Delicious!

We had a dinner party last night. The company was fabulous and the food even more so. It was pot luck so I can’t take credit for it entirely, however I can take credit for the desert. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t tried this recipe before and I had to make some modifications due to a shortage of pine nuts and my desire to include the figs. It turned out fabulously however so I thought I’d share the recipe with everyone!

I found a recipe in one of my cook books that I had been wanting to try for some time. It was a honey and pine nut tart and I thought it would be a great way to utilize local ingredients. We buy raw honey from a vendor at our local farmer’s market that has a great flavor. It is from the tamarisk or salt cedar tree and has a very full bodied flavor that I have been dying to try in this desert. Additionally, pinones (pine nuts) are gathered here in New Mexico off the local pinon trees and can be found on road-side stands everywhere.

Lastly, the addition of the figs to the recipe was inspired by the weekly Blogger’s Secret Ingredient. Sadly I was unable to get this posted by the deadline, but I figured I’d go ahead and make the tart anyway given that I was hosting a dinner party and didn’t want to waste all those delicious figs.

So here is the recipe!

Fig, honey and pine nut tart

The first step in this tart is making the crust. You can use any tart crust you’d like, although I would recommend a sweetened dough. I used an old standby from The Joy, slightly modified. The recipe is below:

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 unsalted butter
1 lrg egg yolk
1 1/2 TBSP heavy cream

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and using a pastry blender, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a large crumb. Add the egg yolk and the heavy cream and mix until it barely comes together. Pour the dough into your tart pan or pie dish and, using your fingers, spread it evenly around the pan creating a crust. Poke some holes in the crust with a fork, then line with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Set aside until you are ready to fill.

For the filling:

1 lb figs, quartered
1/2 c roasted pinon nuts*
1/2 c raw honey
4 TBSP butter
3 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP lemon juice

*I use raw pine nuts that I have toasted in my oven. To do this place the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 3 minutes.

Calimyrna figs.

Calimyrna figs.

Prepared tart prior to adding custard.

Prepared tart prior to adding custard.

Prepare the figs and set them aside. You do not have to remove fig skin! Simply remove the stem and then cut into quarters. Line the blind baked crust with the roasted pine nuts then arrange the fig quarters on top of them. Set this aside while you work on the honey custard.

In a sauce pan, combine the honey and butter and heat over low until the butter starts to melt and the honey softens and begins to get runny. While you are waiting, whisk the three eggs together a few times in a non-reactive bowl. Once the honey and butter are warm, stir a few times to combine then add the vanilla and almond extracts as well as the lemon juice and the lemon zest.

Here is the only tricky part of the process. You want to add the warm honey mixture to the eggs, but you don’t want to cook the eggs in the process. You can let the honey cool a bit, but let it sit too long and it will start to firm up again, which you also don’t want! The best way to solve this problem is to add the honey very slowly while you continuously mix the eggs. Similar to making a hollandaise sauce or a mayonnaise emulsion. It also helps if you drizzle it in from a height of about six – 12 inches. This allows the mixture to cool a bit before it hits the eggs.

Once you have combined the honey with the eggs, pour the mixture over the figs and pine nuts. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes until the custard sets.

Serve with mascarpone cheese or creme fresh. The rich fat of these two dairy products will compliment the sweetness of the tart and it will be melt in your mouth good.

Happy Eating!


Coconut Oil Disasters and Lessons Learned August 17, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 2:03 pm
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Coconut oil is one of those Real Foods that I have been wanting to try for some time now. I have read all the health benefits and have been fantasizing about having baked goods that taste faintly of coconut. Unfortunately the organic extra virgin coconut oil sold at my local Co-Op is rather cost prohibitive, being more than a dollar an ounce with amounts to a minimum purchase price of $16 for a teeny-tiny jar. I had a hard time rationalizing the expense when I could buy other, more necessary, items with that money.

So you can imagine my enthusiastic response to the cheaper imported coconut oil found at the international food market! It was less that 50 cents an ounce and according to the label was unbleached, contained no chemicals and was extra virgin. It was also from India.

I should have known better, but I was caught up in the novelty of being at Talin. This grocery store is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a full hours drive from where I live, and when I am there I go kind of nuts, buying everything I can find that seems novel. Unfortunately the novelty of inexpensive coconut oil wore off as soon as I opened the jar and tried some. Sadly I was home by that point.

Now, I don’t know anything about coconut oil, so maybe what I am about to share isn’t all that odd, but when I opened the jar and tried it, the distinct smell of chemicals wafted out to me. Disturbed, but unsure how to proceed, I tasted it. While it certainly didn’t taste rancid, it didn’t taste particularly good, either, and it definitely didn’t taste like coconut. Against all instinct, I proceeded to use it the recipe regardless in the event that my senses were deceiving me and this was actually how coconut oil was supposed to smell and taste.

Sadly my unwillingness to trust my foodie instincts resulted in an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies being destroyed. I put a few tablespoons in the batter, following a recipe using coconut oil which I discovered online. The results were not only awful in flavor, but also in texture. There is nothing in the world I hate more than a crunchy cookie, and the coconut oil I used made these things as hard a hockey puck – not to mention the chemical aftertaste.

Suffice it to say the experience reinforced something I already knew: Never buy cheap ingredients!

I have not given up on the coconut oil experiments however. I simply will not be using this particular brand again and will have to destroy the remainder of the jar. The next time I buy it I will definitely select the higher end, quality ingredient. And I will also be sure to trust my instincts so as to not ruin a perfectly good desert!

Until then, Happy Eating and trust your instincts!