Mild Italian Sausage Seasoning

This recipe is a basic seasoning for one pound of ground chicken or pork. Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. and stored in a sealed glass container for later use.
Mild Italian Sausage Seasoning

  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried sage
  • ½ tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • a small pinch dried red pepper flakes (can use more if desired)
  • ¼ tsp crushed anise seed 
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp minced dried onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Crush anise seed (either place in a ziploc bag and roll over with a rolling pin or use a mortar and pestle).
  2. Mix ingredients in a bowl prior to mixing with 1 (one) pound ground pork or 1 (one) pound ground chicken.

    Note: If you have already prepared a large amount of the spice blend ahead of time, use only 3 tsp.

Simple Vegetable Soup

I feel almost bad posting this recipe. It’s just so easy. And I always get rave reviews so with tomorrow being the Friday Soup Supper at my church – it’s more or less a tradition during Lent, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. (And if people don’t like healthy food, I won’t complain – I’ll be set with leftovers for quite a few days!) But back to the rules of Friday Soup Suppers:

  • No meat products, whatsoever.
  • No meat products, whatsoever.
  • No meat products, whatsoever…. minus fish and shellfish.
  • It must be soup.

Following? K. Good. The rules are simple… thankfully. I wanted to sneak in some bacon fat… but didn’t want to risk it. And, I really wanted something I could eat for a change. (It’s not usual that I get to eat at a church gathering.) So, rather than buy something pre-made from the store as was suggested (ew! Why would I do that to people?!?!?), I decided to toss some veggies together with a few spices and call it good.

Literally.

That’s all I did.

Oh, and I tossed in some red pepper flakes? Why? Because I can. And I like to keep people on their toes.

Note: I HATE cutting up veggies for soup. A few years ago, I bought a veggie cuber thingy. I use it so so so much in the summer when I’m making cucumber and tomato salads or have a bunch of onions to quickly cut or… am making veggie soup. It’s somewhat of a pain to clean as the blades are super sharp. (I’ve been known to kill my finger a few times on it.) But after a while, I’ve learned a technique that works for me. Anyway, it’s not one of my favorite gadgets but for stuff like this, I highly recommend it (especially if you have a BB&B 20% coupon).

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Simple Vegetable Soup

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 organic zucchini, cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped 
  • 3 carrots, cubed
  • 2 28-oz organic crushed tomatoes in BPA-free cans
  • 4 qt water
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning (salt and MSG-free, I use the Oregon Spice Blend, bought at Bob’s Red Mill Store in Milwaukie, the blend in the bulk organic spice section at Fred Meyer’s/Kroger’s or the organic blend from Costco)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  1. In a medium sized stock pot, saute onions in EVOO over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute.
  3. Toss in carrots and cauliflower and sautee until tender. Add zucchini and stir. Let sit for another three to four minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes (and all of their juice!) and water. Stir and add spices.
  5. Simmer over medium-low for half an hour, or until veggies are cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Introducing Matte

Introducing Matte

South of the Border Zucchini Pancakes

These guys. So tasty. I had plain zucchini pancakes recently and wanted to give them a little flavor kick. (I’m obsessed with savory for breakfast, what can I say?) So these babies were born. I originally served them with fresh pico de gallo, sliced avocados with pink salt and hot sauce. Always gotta have the hot sauce. After I’m done with my 21 day sugar detox, I’ll serve them with a bit of crème fraîche (French fermented cream that tastes a lot like American sour cream – you can buy it relatively cheaply at Trader Joe’s) or some whole milk cojita cheese. Latin American Sauerkraut would also taste fantastic with these. Enjoy!

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A little note: conventional zucchini is a GMO crop (when at the grocery store, conventional crops start with a 4xxx, organic a 9xxx). Make sure you buy organic zucchini or buy conventional ONLY at Trader Joe’s as they do not carry any GMO products in their produce department. Their open statement on their commitment to non-GMO is only another reason why I love T.J.’s with all my beating heart.

South of the Border Zucchini Pancakes

  • 4 organic zucchini, shredded
  • 4 organic soy-free eggs, beaten
  • ¼ pound bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  1. In a medium frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Reserve the fat in the pan.
  2. While bacon is cooking and using a cheese grater, shred the zucchini. Add all of the other ingredients and stir until well incorporated. Once the bacon is done, add to the mixture.
  3. Over medium heat, and using the bacon grease in the pan, ladle about a 1/3 cup (pancakes should be about 3" wide) of the mixture. Cook each side until lightly browned, only flipping once.
  4. Serve immediately.

    Note: nightshades are not allowed for some on an anti-inflammation diet. If you do not tolerate cumin, red chili powder or cayenne pepper, simply omit.

Homemade Mayo

If I had known mayo was this easy to make, I would have stopped buying Best Foods/Hellman’s years ago. (And, no – I haven’t bought it for a few years anyway.) The flavor is a bit different than the conventional brands as mine was soy-free and the oils are different. But it’s creamier and nuttier.

My only tip for you – pour the oil very very very slowly. As in very very. A few drops at a time kind of very. This will allow the oil to be blended in completely and won’t break apart the fragments that give it that wonderful floral bouquet once it hits the tongue. Break them apart and… well, it’s nasty, bitter and you’ll want to dump it out.

On to the eggs – farm eggs are the best. Soy-free, organic and free-range. If your local farmer doesn’t wash the eggs first, make sure you do prior to cracking them – and really, this only needs to be done if your eggs have visible dirty spots on them. Which, at that point, if your eggs are crazy dirty, the farmer isn’t tending to his nesting boxes very well and you might want to find a new farmer.

So here’s my recipe. And my roomies had better watch out – I might be dumping their Best Foods/Hellman’s. But it’ll be doing them a favor. No more excess estrogen from the soybean oil and no more nasty fillers. Just good ol’ simple and real foods ingredients.

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Homemade Mayo

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ½ cup macadamia nut oil or avocado oil (both cold-pressed and extra-virgin)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Whisk all the egg yolks, lemon juice, sea salt, vinegar and dijon mustard together until well blended.
  2. While continuing to mix (a hand blender, set on low works best), slowly drizzle the macadamia nut oil, a few drops at a time and blend until completely incorporated. Repeat until all oil is done.
  3. Next, add the olive oil, blending a few drops at a time, with a  hand whisk, until all incorporated.
  4. Stores in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Beet Kvass

I’m sure by know you’ve noticed that I’ve been on a fermenting kick… it’ll end. I promise.

… Maybe.

Truth is, having a healthy gut is going to let you absorb the nutrients you’re taking in so much better. I can give you recipes that are “this”-free or “that”-free but if you haven’t given your gut time to heal, given it the nutrients that the body needs to facilitate healing and have repopulated it with healthful bacteria, all of that is for naught. So my latest ferment: Beet Kvass. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it? (Kidding.) It’s definitely an acquired taste and the first few times you make it, you probably won’t like it. But stick with it! Your taste buds will be adjusting and usually people come around.

Kvass is salty and picks up the earthiness of the beets. Historically, it was an Eastern European tonic and was more or less the Windex of that area. (Three points for you if you recognize that movie reference.)It’s weird to think that they have carts in Eastern Europe selling this stuff. But, unlike our fried and greasy food carts or 7-11s selling food laden with high-fructose corn syrup and other nasty additives, this stuff is super healthy.

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(Kvass Wagon from a photo on Wild Fermentation)

According to “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon (which, btw, I highly suggest adding to your library), kvass is

“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

Traditionally, kvass was not made with beets, but with stale sourdough rye bread. I personally am more than happy with the beets. In an article from  The Weston A. Price Foundation,

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe. Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.

So here’s the recipe, inspired by “Nourishing Traditions” – enjoy!

Beet Kvass

  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 2 tsp sea salt, non-iodized and no anti-caking agents (add an addt’l 2 tsp if you do not have sauerkraut juice)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice
  • 3-4 organic beets, gently scrubbed with peel on, and cut into ½” cubes  (any color beet will work and avoid finely chopping or grating the beets, which can lead to very rapid fermentation and alcohol production)
  • Place beets, sauerkraut juice and salt in a half gallon glass container (2 quarts).
  • Add filtered water to fill the container to just below an inch from the top and stir well and cover securely.
  • Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.
  • When most of the liquid has been consumed, you may fill up the container with water and keep at room temperature another two days. The resulting brew will be slightly less strong than the first.
  • After the second brew, discard the beets and start again. You may, however, reserve some of the liquid and use this as your starter instead of the whey.

Preserved Lemons

These are fantastic and they take a bit of patience. As in, waiting a month until they’re done. After they’re preserved, they’ll last from one to two years. (That’s right. You read it correctly. Two years.)

So what exactly is a preserved lemon and why do I make them instead of buying them? To answer the second question first, I’m cheap. I said it.  I’m not afraid to admit that I like to save buck or two where I can. To buy 12 oz. of preserved lemons from Williams and Sonoma, it’s going to cost $14.95 and 12 oz is probably going to get you only two lemons. That’s $6.50(ish) per lemon. At that price, they had better be grown in a pristine environment and completely organic with only the freshest and most pure air and water available. My lemons (and I made 8 of them, btw) cost me less than $5 and about $0.45 for the salt. Umm – yes. I can afford that. The whole lemon becomes edible, rind and all – so I’m really getting my dollars worth.

Okay. Now for the fun part and to answer the first question: Preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan food. If you’ve never had Moroccan food, you’re missing out. It’s packed full of flavor and lots and lots of spices (namely turmeric which my stomach seems to love more than any other spice out there for its anti-inflammatory properties). They’re used in chicken dishes and other flavorful delights. When these puppies are done, I’ll post the recipe for the roast chicken.

I’m wondering what a piece of rind would taste like in a martini, but that’s just me and I might have to try it out when these are done. I’m willing to bet it would be fabulous! The rind also tastes delicious in a vinaigrette, or add a little bit of the fermented juice for a bit of a zip in your dressing! Or toss a little bit of the rind in your fresh salsa for a citrus zip (your guests will never guess) or toss some some minced rind with some cauliflower and capers prior to roasting. I’ll be providing recipes once they’re done. 🙂 Basically, the possibilities are endless. They also make WONDERFUL Christmas, birthday or host gifts.

The lemons will continue to ferment after the period of one month. Feel free to keep them on the counter for that one to two years if you like. However, the flavor will continue to change and will ultimately have a nice minty flavor. If you like the flavor that they’re at, simply put them in the fridge and fermentation will stop/slow down.

So, here’s what you’ll need:

Lemons. Duh. Organic is best. But, if you have to, conventional lemons will work, too. Just make sure you remove the wax coating on the outside. To do that, drop the lemons in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove and, while the lemon rind is hot, wipe away the wax with a clean dishtowel. Repeat until all lemons have been stripped of their wax.

A large jar. I really really like Fido canning jars. They’re easy to pack and look pretty on my kitchen counter. (Let’s face it, fermenting lemons are GORGEOUS sitting on the counter!)

Sea salt. I’ve said this a few times in my fermentation posts, but make sure it is non-iodized (no iodine). Iodine has anti-bacterial properties. If we’re trying to make a bacteria rich environment, it’s a little counter-productive to kill off the buggies that will be preserving the food for us. I like this salt, but really, any sea salt is going to work well. Also, make sure the salt is free of anti-caking agent. You want salt that just says “sea salt” on the ingredients label. If it says anything else, put it down and look elsewhere. (Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyers, and any health foods store or specialty market will have sea salt.)

Last thing: Make sure your hands are clean as you’ll use your hands a lot in this process. Avoid using anti-bacterial soap when cleaning your hands, but do wash for 20 seconds, making sure to clean under your nails, between fingers, etc.

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Preserved Lemons

  • 6-8 organic lemons, or conventional lemons with wax removed as outlined above, plus extra for juicing and topping off the jar
  • Sea Salt (lots of it)
  1. Cut the stem end off of the lemons and then cut the lemons into quarters, being careful not to fully cut through and separate them. See picture below.image
  2. Stuff 1 tbsp sea salt into the cut cavity of each lemon and press it down into a clean canning jar. Punch it down with your fist until it’s squished and juicing. Repeat until the jar is full.
  3. Squeeze a few more lemons and pour the juice on top of what’s already in the jar.
  4. Using a clean rock or some other weight, push the lemons down below the liquid line and leave in place.
  5. Store in a cool, dry place for a month. Do not open, except slightly so as to “burp” – this should be done daily.

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Note: If weird colors start growing (namely black colors), dump immediately. But really, lacto-fermentation is very safe, given all tools are clean.

Sauteed Cabbage

My best friend flew in late last night and I needed something quick to feed her for breakfast before she hopped her train north. I’ve also been on a cabbage kick – it’s a winter veggie and it’s best to eat veggies that are in season locally. They have the nutrients that your body needs to help you cope with whatever season you’re in. Sauteed cabbage is sweet and delicious and filling – especially when coupled with a protein. This morning, the protein came by way of salmon. Always a win in my book!

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I tend to cook my cabbage in some way before I eat it and never ever eat it raw. For those who have thyroid health problems, namely hypothyroidism, it is best to avoid raw cabbage as it brings thyroid hormone levels down even more. I like avoid that and still get the vitamins A, C and K, phytonutrients (which act as antioxidants) and lots fiber, folate, calcium and potassium my body needs. Basically, cabbage is a powerhouse and one that I would rather not miss out on!

Sauteed Cabbage

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp bacon fat
  • pink salt and pepper to taste
  • a splash (about 1 tsp) raw apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the bacon fat and add onion.
  2. Saute until onions are almost translucent and add cabbage.
  3. Add salt and pepper and vinegar and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Sauerkraut, straight up

Sauerkraut. You either have fond memories of dancing the Polka at Oktoberfest or your grandma opening up a can (with a can opener) of the most foul-smelling concoction you’ve ever let your nose experience. What if I told you that the canned stuff, the stuff we’ve become accustomed to isn’t the same stuff that our ancestors ate… and that what they ate actually tasted good? Well, I’m telling you. It’s delicious. And the probiotics are even better than what you can get in yogurt (which only has a few strains, wild fermentation has many many more stains of good bacteria in it). See? Here’s a fancy chart to illustrate it:

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I’ve had a hankering for some good Polish hunter’s stew. Unfortunately, the main ingredient is sauerkraut and I have none… so this hankering is going to have to wait. Oh well – in a few weeks, you’ll see a post for the best stew that will get your blood flowing again. Seriously. It’s that good. And it has 3 kinds of meat in it – mostly bacon.

I outlined the necessary supplies on my fermented red potatoes post so check that out before you start. If you want more information about why sauerkraut is good for you, check out my Latin American sauerkraut recipe. Also, when you go and buy your cabbage, don’t waste your money on the organic stuff – cabbage is one of the Clean 15. Going to WinCo or some other bargain grocer and spending $.50 per pound is perfectly acceptable and it’s what I do! That makes two liters of finished sauerkraut cost me about $5 total. I can buy a pint and a half of raw sauerkraut at the store for $10. Umm – yea. I’ll take my deal any day.

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Sauerkraut

  • 2 heads cabbage, washed and shredded, with two whole leaves set aside
  • 3 tbsp sea salt, non-iodized (iodine kills bacteria… which is not what we want)
    1. In a large bowl sturdy bowl (I use a massive stainless steel bowl), mix all of the ingredients.
    2. Now comes the fun part: Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage starts juicing well. You will see it becoming more and more wet as the time goes on and when it is finished, you will be able to squeeze some in your hand and have the juices run between your fingers.
    3. Place in 1- or 2- quart, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly until juices come to the top of the cabbage. Do this in small increments, making sure to have all of the air bubbles pressed out.
    4. Stuff one of the saved whole leaves down around the cabbage, being careful not to rip the leaf, to get out all air bubbles and to keep the mash down below the juice level.
    5. Using a clean, round and flat river rock (not bigger than the mouth of the jar) or a glass dunker, place on top of the whole leaf and push down. This will keep the mash below the juice level for the whole fermenting process. It is okay if the top of the rock or dunker is above the juice a little bit.
    6. With a clean rag, clean the lip of the jar and place the lid on the jars and let sit on the counter for 14 days (after three days, there will be bacteria growth and after 14 days, there is a more complete panel). A cool place (65 degrees Fahrenheit) is best as the warmer temperatures help bad bacteria grow.
    7. Place in the refrigerator and let sit for an additional week – do not open during this time. So, your kraut will have fermented for three weeks total.
    8. Open jars once a day during the sitting-on-counter phase to allow gas to escape. 
    9. Sauerkraut will keep indefinitely in the fridge. Enjoy!

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    Note: If the sauerkraut doesn’t smell sour, pickle-y, or kraut-y or is growing black sludge, toss it out! You’ll know if it smells bad (as in going to kill you). Lacto-fermentation, what this process is called, is very very safe. However, there are times where the tools are not clean and bad bacteria gets in. The best way to prevent this is to use a clean workspace and a clean jar. As always, wash your hands thoroughly prior to beginning.

Taco Seasoning Mix

I recently purchased a bunch of grass-fed beef and the cow is in process so… I have to clean out my freezer. Which means I eat my older beef as quickly as possible. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? This morning it was taco meat. I ate it with some scrambled eggs and guacamole for a delish high-fat/high-calorie meal (it’s cold, windy and rainy over here in Western Oregon). I guess you could say I’m jonesing for more tropical climates… or San Diego. Which ever is cheapest.

Okay. So, here’s my super easy recipe. I make a whole bunch of it up at once and buy my spices organic and in bulk. There are probably places that you can do this from wherever you live. Here in Portland, we have Bob’s Red Mill over in Milwaukie. They have bulk organic spices and really reasonable prices. I buy my own spice jars and have cute labels. Heck. I even alphabetize my spices. Don’t judge me. You know you do it, too. First and second letter. I need a life. 😛

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Okay, so once I’ve made a mega batch of taco seasoning mix, I dump it in a half-pint mason jar and put a lid on it. I mark on the lid my ratio – 1 ½ tbsp mix (sometimes I feel like having a bit more zip and throw a bit more in) to a half cup of water. Below is the recipe for a single batch and is for a pound of beef. If cooking more beef, simply double, triple, etc the recipe. When I make my large quantities, I usually make 6 batches at once – those are included in the parenthesis. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (6 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion (4 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (2 tbsp)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin (3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (1 tbsp)
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (¾ tsp to 1 ½ tsp)
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano (1 ½ tsp)
  1. Mix the seasoning and seal in a air-tight container.

To make taco meat:

  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning mix (may be a bit scant if you are using less cayenne pepper)
  • 1 pound lean, grass-fed organic ground beef
  • ½ cup water
  1. Brown 1 lb beef in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Drain fat if desired. (I leave it in, personally.)
  2. Toss in taco seasoning mix and water and stir until incorporated.
  3. Simmer on medium-low until water is evaporated.
  4. Serve immediately.

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Note: I included the tag for nightshade-free because spices affect most people differently than the actual fruit or vegetable. If you are still sensitive to peppers and this includes spices, disregard this recipe.