Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Pork and Beans! January 7, 2011

Filed under: Home Made,Recipe,Stew — realfoodmama @ 10:52 pm
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Stewy goodness!

A friend of mine recently gifted me with a package of Rancho Gordo beans. Variety, Runner Cannellini Beans. I have been wanting to try these things for a long time, nearly nine months, and yet I haven’t taken it upon myself to purchase any. Suffice it to say I was very excited about trying them out and decided to improvise a dish using some cubed pork and Italian inspired ingredients. The result was quite delicious so I thought I would share it!

Pork and Cannellini Stew

1 1/2 c dried Cannellini beans
1/2 c home made chicken stock
1/2 c home made tomato sauce
1 lb cubed pork
10 slices dehydrated zucchini
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 TBSP flour
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by soaking the beans for a few hours to soften them. This can be done overnight if you’d like. Drain and place beans in the pot. Cover with six cups of water, add a couple of slices of the dried zucchini and let cook over low heat for about two hours.

For the pork, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and let sizzle for a few minutes. Mix the flour with a bit of salt and pepper. Dry off the pork with a paper towel and dredge in the flour, then place in the oil. Brown the meat on all sides then transfer to the bean pot. Add the chicken stock and tomato sauce as well as the remaining dried zucchini, basil and oregano.

Let cook for another hour or until the beans are soft and the meat is tender. Serve over polenta and enjoy!

Happy Eating!

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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:

Cajeta

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.

 

Crockpot Apple Butter August 20, 2010

Filed under: Canning,Food Storage,Home Made,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 11:37 am
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It may seem early in the season for apple recipes, but I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to pick a business associates early fruiting tree and I finally got around to doing something with all the apples I pulled. The apples were very small and the process of peeling and coring was fairly tedious, however we were able to do enough so that we could make about 4 pints of apple butter.

The process of making apple butter is very straightforward but it can be time consuming so I decided this year to use my crockpot in order to cook the apples down rather than the stove top which requires frequent stirring and constant vigilance in order to ensure it does not scorch. Given all of the other things I have been trying to do recently (cheese making, zucchini processing, alone time…) I decided that it would be best for everyone if I simply put the apple butter in the crockpot overnight and let it do its thing without my supervision.

I was very pleased with the results! The butter thickened nicely and while there was some scraping of the sides required in the end, all in all it was a preferable method to the stovetop. I tend to forget that things are on the stove and have had some near catastrophes (see my post about the plum preserves!). The best part about it though is that you can leave it to cook overnight. I like getting things done while I sleep!

Apple Butter
from the Ball Blue Book of canning and preserving

4 pints cooked apples
4 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

The basics process for making the butter is as follows:

Core and peel your apples
Cook them with a small quantity of water until they are soft and can be easily mushed with a potato masher (basically turn them into applesauce)
Use either an immersion blender or a standard blender to blend them and create a smooth consistency
Add sugar and spices
Cook over low heat until thick, stirring frequently

Leaving 1/4 inch headspace, process in water bath for 10 minutes at sea level

I typically use less sugar in these recipes than called for simply because I don’t like overly sweet fruit products. The Ball Blue Book recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar to 8 cups of apples. No thank you! I use about 1 to 1.5 cups of sugar. I also add a tad more cloves to my recipe (1/2 tsp instead of 1/4 tsp) and lower the cinnamon from 2 tsp to 1 tsp.

The canning instructions are to can for 10 minutes (at sea level) with 1/4 inch head space. Due to the altitude in the City Dipherent, I add an additional 15 minutes to the processing time.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble April 25, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Farmer's Market,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:42 pm
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Rhubarb and StrawberriesI love spring. Not only are the birds singing, the flowers blooming and the sun shining, but foods much missed over the winter are making a comeback. And the very best thing, in my mind, is the reappearance of strawberries and rhubarb – one of my favorite combos.

So this evening I decided to make an easy dessert. A simple crumble that has just enough good things in it to make it seem nearly like health food.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

1 pint organic strawberries – sliced
3 large stalks of fresh rhubarb – sliced
1/4 c sugar, approximately

for topping:

1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c rolled oats
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c what germ
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP butter

I like to cook my rhubarb and strawberries before making something like this. The primary reason is to avoid over sweetening, or worse under sweetening, your filling. If you cook them together with the sugar on the stove top first, just until they soften, you can gauge whether or not you need to add more sugar before the final baking.

Once this has been done, go ahead and mix up your crumble topping. Place the flour, sugar, salt, oats and wheat germ in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Using a pastry blender, add the butter and mix until you get a coarse crumb.

Pour the strawberry and rhubarb mixture into an 8×4 bread pan and cover with the crumble topping. Bake at 350 degrees until the filling bubbles and the topping mixture just begins to brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Aftermath

 

Succulent Pressure Cooker Beef Stew February 10, 2010

Filed under: Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 10:20 am
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Pressure Cooker Beef StewSo the other night I was looking once again at the beef in my freezer wondering what I could do with all that stew meat that wouldn’t be exactly like everything else I have ever done with stew meat. To be completely honest with you, inspiration did not strike until I was halfway through the process, but oh! Did it strike hard! The use of the pressure cooker is a result of the fact that I was procrastinating and didn’t start dinner until about 40 minutes before we were scheduled to eat. This stew could probably be cooked in a stock pot or crock pot, but the recipe would have to be adjusted to accommodate the longer cooking time. My pressure cooking is one of my favorite tools here in the kitchen. It makes cooking beans a breeze and helps with a variety of meat dishes.

In addition to the beef, I had planned on adding carrots and potatoes to the stew halfway through the cooking, so I had them all cut up on the counter next to the pot. When I tasted the beef portion, however, I decided against doing so. Instead I simply boiled them up and served them on the side with a strong dose of butter, heavy cream and salt. I love fat…but that’s a different post! Here is the recipe!

Succulent Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

1 lb grass fed beef stew meat
2 TBSP olive oil + 2 TBSP organic butter
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 stick celery, diced fine
1/2 large carrot (or one small), diced
2 TBSP cognac
1 heaping TBSP organic tomato paste
1 c water
1 TBSP dried thyme
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
~ 2 tsp ground black pepper
~ TBSP sea salt

Place the meat in a bowl and add the black pepper – I am guessing on the quantity because I basically just peppered the meat until it looked covered enough. I like the flavor of pepper in my stews, so I suspect I put in quite a bit. Set the meat aside for a minute at room temperature and heat your oil. I used a pressure cooker because I started dinner late and it is a great way to tenderize meat and cook veggies really quickly. You could use a different method, but you would have to adjust the liquid to compensate for the longer cooking time – probably up to two cups.

Back to the recipe…

Heat the olive oil and butter in the pressure cooker over medium high heat until the butter has started to brown a bit then put in the peppered meat. Avert your eyes and use a long wooden spoon to stir the meat until it is well browned, about 3 – 5 minutes. Pour the meat and all juices back into the bowl and put the pot back on the heat. Lower it to medium low, then add your chopped onions, celery and carrots. You want to “sweat” these veggies, not sautee them. Cook them this way, avoiding browning, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add the beef and all accumulated juices back into the pot, along with the cognac, tomato paste and water. Stir well so the tomato paste dissolves and bring to a simmer. Add the crushed thyme and fennel seeds and your salt (I like a lot of salt, so simply salt to your taste). Place the lid on your pressure cooker and set it to the correct setting for your altitude. Once the pot has pressurized, cook for 10 minutes (so quick!).

Check the stew at this point and make sure the meat is tender enough and there is still liquid. If you want it to go a bit longer and the liquid is sufficient, go ahead. I was happy with the results after this amount of time.

What you end up with is an incredibly savory, rich stew with a thick sauce and tender meat. Serve it poured over mashed potatoes (and carrots!) and you have a really quick, hearty meal for these snowy, cold February nights.

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

 

Applesauce buckwheat pancakes January 27, 2010

Filed under: Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 11:06 am
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Good Morning!One of my old standby’s for breakfast is pancakes. They are remarkably simple and incredibly versatile. You can use a multitude of different flours, a variety of dairy products, and you can add almost anything to the batter. In fact, I regularly disguise fruits and vegetables as pancakes in order to get my two year old to eat them – my favorite is pumpkin season…mmmm, so good! But that is another post.

In fact, pancake batter is one of the few grain recipes where I regularly remember to soak my flour before using it. The reason is simple: You can make pancake batter the night before and refrigerate it until the morning. Not only does this make the whole process much quicker in the mornings (helpful when you have a very hungry toddler demanding pancakes) but it also allows the batter to sit in buttermilk (or yogurt, or kefir) for 12 hours before cooking.

This time of year, with the pumpkin mostly gone, I tend to start using my applesauce as the fruit. Homemade, with very little sugar, it adds just enough sweetness to the batter.

My basic recipe comes from The Joy, but it has been so long I have multiple modifications. For the apple sauce buckwheat version, the recipe is below. As for others, as long as you stick to the basic wet/dry ratio (i.e. 1.5 c flour to 1.5 c dairy), you can experiment as much as you like! I tend to use at least 2/3 c of unbleached all purpose flour however, as otherwise the pancakes can get dry. Experiment though, and see what you like! Adding honey to a pure whole wheat batter, for example, would compensate. Generally, however, I never add more than 1/3 c of pureed fruit or veggies, otherwise the texture is off.

Applesauce Buckwheat Pancakes

1 c organic unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 c buckwheat flour
1 1/2 TBSP aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c raw goats milk + 1/2 c goat kefir*
3 TBSP organic grass fed butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/3 cup unsweetened (or lightly sweetened) applesauce – recipe here

*I have dairy goats and make my own kefir. I have found that I like the combination above. You can always use all buttermilk or kefir or yogurt, however if you do this you will need to adjust your leavening to 1 tsp powder and 1/2 tsp soda to compensate for the higher acidity. You, of course, can also use all milk, but then any benefit you would get from soaking the flour would be lost.

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the dairy. Stir until fairly well mixed, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. This will lead to a rather sticky mess, to be honest, but trust me! It will work. Do not forget to cover, however, otherwise a nasty skin will develop.

The following morning, go ahead and combine the eggs, applesauce, melted butter and vanilla, if using, then add to the soaked flour mixture. Stir until just mixed – any over mixing at this point will lead to very heavy pancakes.

Heat a griddle to medium low and grease it. I used to use canola oil for this, but have since experimented with other things. Butter does not work well! You need some other oil, such as sunflower or safflower, or if you want the flavor of it, coconut oil. I do not like olive oil, even though it has a nice high smoke point, simply because the flavor is too obvious for me. Experiment until you find one that works for you.

What you want to do is put about a TBSP of oil in the pan and use a paper towel as a grease mop. Lightly brush the oil around the pan, being careful not to burn yourself, and set the now greasy paper towel aside for the next one. Ladle in about 1/3 – 1/2 c of batter and cook until the edges start to get glossy and the center bubbles, then flip. Re-grease your pan with the paper towel before starting another pancake.

Load them up with more grass fed butter and some organic grade B maple syrup and enjoy!

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

 

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.