Liver Burgers

Okay. These sound gross, I’ll admit. And that’s not a good selling point at all. But, at least I’ve learned a thing or two since I was 5 years old and I no longer call a burger a “booger” (my parents thought it was quite funny, btw). So know that I have your attention… and managed to embarrass myself all in one fell swoop. Liver burgers. Yea. That’s right. It’s the super organ that everyone needs to eat and no one wants to eat. Auth Ethel’s liver and onions? No thank you. (And no, I don’t have an Aunt Ethel and apologize to anyone who does. I’m sure she’s lovely.) Pâté

? Well, I like it now. So that argument is moot. But I used to think it was nasty. 

(So this photo – it’s the only one I have of the burger and was taken on my super ancient iPhone 4s.)

Incorporating liver in your diet should be a necessity. Unfortunately in the United States, we view organ meats and sub-par. Why have organ meats, the most nutrient-dense of the whole animal, when you can have a nice flank steak? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good marinated flank steak as much as the next person… but it just doesn’t match up for the vitamin powerhouse that organ meats provides. In fact, according to an arcticle by Chris Kresser, organ meats contain 10 to 100 times the nutritional benefit than corresponding muscle meats. (He also has a nifty chart comparing the nutrition of liver against other foods.) Organ meats were once so prized in traditional cultures that they were given first to the pregnant and women of child-bearing years. Talk about a super prenatal! 

If you’re not ready to take the liver and onions plunge, and I’m there with ya so don’t worry, than hiding it in your muscle meat might be the way to go. I usually direct my clients with putting a ¼ lb of ground liver in with 1 lb grass-fed/organic/pasture-raised/etc ground beef. They look at me like I’m crazy. Or have a new growth growing out of my face and it suddenly appeared. Either way, it’s the easiest way to hide the flavor. Yes, it does taste slightly gamey. But it’s not bad. In fact, the flavor is like a mild venison. And who doesn’t love venison?! 

To grind the liver, thaw in cold water and blend in blender until it’s all broken up. Or, if you have a fancy meat grinder, you may use that. Cutting it on the cutting board also works but if you’re trying to hide it from a picky eater, the pieces might be too big. 

Liver Burgers

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ¼ lb ground liver (see above)
  • ½ tsp ground dried organic onion
  • ½ tsp ground dried organic garlic
  • pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook as you would any burger. And top with your favorite toppings. Might I recommend my Fermented Ketchup

Red Cabbage Braised with Broth and Mead

There’s a theme to my posts recently – braising. It’s not purposeful, it’s just late autumn and nomming on braised veggies sounds divine. Mention fresh veggies to me and my stomach acts like it’s on a Six Flags roller coaster. No thank you. I’ll stick with my slow-cooked veggies. In this case, slow-cooked cabbage. I think I’ve mentioned that I’m Irish/German American. Cabbage and all derivatives thereof were a staple in my family when growing up. This recipe was our favorite when my mother decided we were going to have “German Pub Night,” as she so aptly put it. We knew when we saw that on the menu planner on the fridge, it was going to be this cabbage, a whole lot of Eastern European sausages from the local Polish sausage maker (he had dead carcasses hanging in his shop, totally cool to a family full of kids), and some kind of potato dish. 

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Like all family favorites, I had to hack this one apart and reassemble with tender loving care. It’s one of those foods that we would eat for an after-school snack… which usually meant my mom was frustrated with her because there went any hopes of having leftovers for dinner. But, seriously. If you can get kids to want to eat this rather than fruit roll-ups (we never were allowed those, anyway), I’m sure you’re more than winning as a parent.

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A few notes and substitutions: If your body stand the mead, add more chicken broth. I usually use whatever I have made in my freezer – whether it be chicken or beef. Omitting will turn it Whole30, Anti-Inflammation Diet, 21 Day Sugar Detox, specific carb diet, and paleo-friendly. (Also omit the maple syrup for Sugar Detox and Whole30.) Stay away from fish stock. Look. I might be Irish, but I draw the line somewhere. No fish stock in the cabbage. Your kids won’t be sneaking that for an after-school snack. Guaranteed. 

Finally, this is one of my favorite recipes because I can put it on to cook and walk away for a while. As in go for a jog, take a long, hot bath and read a good book. Today it was just the jog – I had this post to edit. But it’s a good recipe if you’re a busy family and it can be cooked on high in a crock pot for about an hour and a half if you’re going to be gone for a while and are uncomfortable with leaving the stove on. It’s also fabulous when made ahead of time, the juices continue to marinate the cabbage into a flavor that’ll make your Irish ancestors jealous. 

Red Cabbage Braised in Chicken Broth and Mead 

  • 1 head organic red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 organic onions, chopped
  • 3 cups organic cranberries, rinsed and check for bad ones!
  • 1 organic Granny Smith apple (or some other tart, hard apple) peeled, cored,and sliced
  • 1 ¼ cup organic chicken stock 
  • ½ cup mead
  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup organic grade B maple syrup
  1. In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is tender, about 45-60 minutes. Or see crock pot directions above. 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

If you want to talk about a food that gets a bad name, these might be it. No one likes them, everybody hates them, guess I’ll go eat worms. Ummm… or not. Brussels sprouts are one of my most favorite foods. Why? They’re just so much fun to eat! Each one is a mini cabbage that I get to play with and peel. Because I’m 30 going on 5. And sometimes I play with my food. Sometimes I also understand the necessity to get other people to eat their greens. This recipe was born out of that need. According to my brother, who loathes, despises, abhors and detests Brussels sprouts, they did not taste like the delightfully adorable mini-cabbages and were actually quite good. (A huge compliment from a sarcastic 21 year-old!)

They have a touch of ground mustard to give them some subtle heat and a bit of a kick. Not to fear, it’s very subtle and enhances the flavors in the dish. The lemon juice provides a distinctive acidity that is delightfully mellow. I hope you enjoy them! I’ve been eating them alone, with other foods and as a noodle replacement for my marinara all week. So fantastic! 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

  • 2 tbsp organic ghee 
  • 1 ½ lbs organic Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed, julienne-cut
  • 1 small organic onion, diced
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • ½+ tsp ground mustard (the spice, not the condiment and heap that measuring spoon)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp organic lemon juice

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, melt the ghee and add the onions. Saute until translucent, add the garlic and saute a few minutes more.  
  2. Add Brussels sprouts and stir to mix. Add spices. Cook until sprouts are a bright green (not the gross dark green overcooked crud).
  3. Add lemon juice and stir. Turn off heat and serve warm. 

Delicata Squash Saute with Apple and Leek

Okay. So I said that I wasn’t going to be posting anything on here until after finals… but when my friend who’s in charge of our local food-buying club asked me for some recipes for an upcoming organic squash buy, my mind started racing and I realized I didn’t have a whole lot on the blog by way of squash. Which is a crime against humanity. Because I love winter squash with a complete and total abandon. Dramatic? Yes. Accurate? Yes. 

I picked up the original recipe from my local New Seasons and modified the heck outta it. They had a sampling in store and it was so good! I was sad I only had a small little paper cup with less than a bite of food provided. Oh well. It only meant I had to go home and make it me-friendly… which was probably better in the long run anyway.

This dish would make a fantastic side dish and is kid-friendly. Talk about a win if you can get kids to eat squash without it ending up on the ceiling! … not that we ever did that to my parents. Ever. (We usually hid food under the table.) Anyway, cook up a pork tenderloin and serve this up on the side. Your guests and kids will thank you.

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Delicata Squash Saute with Apple and Leek

  • 1 medium organic Delicata squash, seeded and cut into ½" pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 organic leek, halved and chopped
  • 2-3 tart organic apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used organic pippin apples)
  • 2 tbsp pasture-raised organic butter, unsalted (such as Kerrygold)
  • 6-6 leaves fresh organic sage, roughly chopped, or 1 tbsp dried organic sage
  • 1 tbsp organic, raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan and add the squash with a pinch of sea salt. Cook over for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is lightly brown, stirring often.
  2. Add the chopped leek and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. 
  3. Add the apple, sage and vinegar. Stir to incorporate and cook for another few minutes, until the apple is cooked and the sage wilted. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. 

“Breaded” Fried Zucchini

I’ve been jonesing for this stuff for the past few months and somehow managed to fight the urge to buy zucchini out of season. Not sure how I managed it, but I did. Now that my garden is going crazy, here’s a nice little zucchini recipe for y’all.

I served mine up with some clean BBQ sauce that’s made locally here in Portland. They’re delicious just by themselves but this sauce. It’s an addiction. 

One little note before I give you the recipe: use Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal. Usually, if you’re baking, I’m an advocate for not-Bob’s but this time around, you need the larger “grain” to mimic Panko breadcrumbs. Just trust me on this one. 🙂

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Breaded Fried Zucchini

  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-3/8" medallions
  • ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal
  • 2 large, organic and pasture-raised eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Test out a bit of egg to see if the skillet is done – you want it to start spattering immediately. 
  2. You’ll need a bowl and a plate – one for the egg and one for the almond meal. Beat the egg in the bowl until it’s well blended.
  3. On the plate, combine the almond meal, salt and pepper and sift with a fork until incorporated.
  4. Dip the zucchini in egg, then in the almond meal and once again in the egg and place in the frying pan. Repeat until the pan is full with a single layer of zucchini.
  5. Cook until the egg is done and golden brown. Remove from pan and put aside. Repeat until all zucchini has been cooked.

Fruit Vinegar

Some of you may recall grandparents talking about sipping vinegar “back in their day” and how it was good for their constitution, gout, the sugar or insert-any-other-old-timey-ailment-word-here. And really, they weren’t all that off. Although their Windex-styled fix-it-all solution is hilarious, they really were on to something.

Natural raw vinegars, ya know, the ones with the mother in them, are quite good for you and are a great source of good bacteria that aid in the health of your gut and overall body. (If your gut is horrid, the rest of you is going to feel horrid because you’re not getting the necessary nutrients to pass through the blood-gut barrier or you’re getting mal-digested nutrients passing through. Bottom line – it’s horrid.)

Anyway, fruit vinegar is easy to make and isn’t super vinegary. In fact it makes a great mocktail. In the heat of the summer, I’ll grab a tumbler, throw a few ice cubes in it, some gassy mineral water (San Pellegrino is my fave) and a bit of the vinegar. The result? A light and refreshing drink that’s outta this world.

You’re going to look at it and wonder how you ever bought your own vinegars. Trust me. I do it to myself. In the mirror. True story. I frequent vinegar shops all the time and have been known to drop $100 on a few bottles of fruit vinegars. Yea. I did that. A lot. Whoops.

A few key things:

  • Your fruit shouldn’t be moldy or rotten.
  • They should be fresh, not frozen (I made that mistake once).
  • Scraps work, too! And they’re economical. Which I like. Bruised fruit is also okay. Use peels, rinds, cores, etc.
  • Use organic. If you can’t afford organic, ask your organic grocer if they have “seconds” in the back. Sometimes they’ll sell you those for a discounted price.
  • Also, if you can’t use organic, stay away from using peels.
  • It’s a lot of sugar, but you need to feed the bacteria something. By the time it’s all processed and fermented, the sugar count will be much less, making it usable if you have a special diet. 
  • Keep fruit submerged with a glass plate, rock, plastic lid (like a yogurt lid, BPA-free).
  • A bowl or wide-mouth jar works best because it encourages oxygen.
  • Save the mother!!! If it develops a mother, save it for a starter for the next batch (and omit the apple cider vinegar).
  • The ratio is 1 part fruit to 2 parts water.

Fruit Vinegar

  • 4 cups fruit scraps or fresh fruit
  • 1 qt filtered water
  • ¼ cup organic sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
  1. Put scraps in the jar or bowl.
  2. In a separate container, dissolve water in the sugar and pour over fruit. (There should be about 1 part scraps to 2 parts water, just eyeball it and add more fruit if necessary.)
  3. Use a rock, plate or a plastic lid to keep fruit submerged. If it won’t stay under, stir daily to prevent mold growth. 
  4. Cover the jar or bowl with a cheesecloth or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. (Make sure fruit flies can’t get in, they LOVE this stuff!) 
  5. Let it sit on the counter for a week and then strain out all the fruit using a fine mesh colander and a coffee filter. 
  6. Return the liquid to the container and cover it again with the cloth or filter and let it sit another 3-4 weeks. 
  7. If white yeast develops, called Kahm yeast, try to scrape it off – it’s not bad for you. So don’t worry. Otherwise, you can strain it out in the end. If mold develops, also known as the fuzzy stuff, pitch it.
  8. Bottle in narrow-neck bottles, cover and store indefinitely (as in it doesn’t go bad) at room temperature.

Quick Dinners: Kale and Garlic Saute

Sometimes I’m just too lazy to cook. I’m up early in the morning, work a long day, do a bit of cleaning, catch up with the never-ending task of laundry/folding/dusting/wiping walls/ironing, tend to my little garden… and by the time I know it, it’s late in the day and I’m tired. And cooking? Heck. No.

Sound familiar? I have a feeling I’m not the only one who’s like this. Sometimes life just gets in the way of making a healthy meal. In my old days, when I was the pasta queen (seriously – I had one shelf in my cupboard dedicated to pasta), I would open a box of Barilla and a jar of Classico. 20 minutes and a bit of fresh shaved parmesan later, voila! Dinner was served. Now that I know that food was what was killing me, it’s no longer an option. Eggs are a good go-to. But… I sometimes tire from having eggs too much in my diet – I eat a few (ahem. 3.) a day for breakfast.

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Now, this recipe is by no means a beautiful thing. Nor is it mind-blowing. It’s simply my “what I eat when I don’t want to cook but I don’t have leftovers to eat” meal. And after a bit of prodding from my boyfriend to put this up on the blog, here it is. He said it’s creative, I told him it’s out of necessity – end of the pay period meals are always interesting in my house. (Dave Ramsey, you should be proud!)

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s what I do when I’d rather not be cooking or whatever.

Kale and Garlic Saute

  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, spine removed, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 heads garlic, minced
  • ½ lb mild Italian pork sausage (cooked) or 1 cup minced ham
  • 1 cup soaked, sprouted, and cooked organic brown rice (If you have a hard time with sprouted rice, use 1 cup cauliflower “rice”)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 2 tbsp lard or grass-fed butter
  1. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, melt the lard or butter.
  2. Add kale and garlic and cook until kale is wilted.
  3. Add cooked sausage or ham and rice and stir to incorporate.
  4. Mix in spices and cook until warmed through.

    For dinner: Serve with steamed veggies and some sauerkraut.
    For breakfast: Serve with eggs and some sauerkraut.

Dilly Beans with Scapes

I freaken love all things dill. When I was a baby, I would beg my mom and her friends for their kosher dill pickles when we were out at Rose’s (a New York deli here in Portland – back in the 80s, they were in their heyday and their food was FANTASTIC). After a few kosher dill pickle spears, my lips would be white from all the vinegar. I didn’t care. I wanted more. And my mom and her friends wanted to laugh even harder. It was a win for everyone.

Fast forward 30 years, and I still love my dilled foods. I bought a bunch of green beans two weeks ago and realized that with my neck, any and all cooking wasn’t happening. So, before they had an opportunity to rot on me, I shoved them in a jar with some scapes I had also bought with the dream of sauteing them in butter… Yea. Not happening, either.

Two weeks later, I cracked open the jar and my goodness! Childhood memories of eating dill pickles until my lips turned white came flooding back. They are so. so. so. good. Even the roommate who sometimes thinks my food is a bit hippie (admit it. I know you think this – and I know you’re reading this post), wanted more.

Okay. Enough of me typing. You want to hurry up and make these. And then wait two weeks. It might be the longest two weeks of your life but you’ll have to deal.

The end result is fantastic.

Times 10.

Note: The grape leaves sound random but they help maintain the crispness of the vegetable. Other options are a bay leaf (or two).

Dilly Beans with Scapes

  • 1 lb fresh, organic green beans, with ends snipped
  • 4 organic scapes (garlic spears)
  • a handful of fresh dill – about 1 ½" in diameter if you hold the bunch together
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 grape leaves (organic and non-sprayed)
  • 33 grams sea salt (no iodine or caking agent) to every quart of  filtered water
  1. Leave water out for at least 30 minutes to evaporate trace minerals. In the meantime, weigh out the salt and rinse green beans and scapes. Trim both so will fit in the jar.
  2. Add the salt to the water, stir to dissolve and set aside.
  3. In your jar, layer the red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and dill on the bottom.
  4. Place the green beans and scape spears on top of the spices, stick straight up. Stuff the grape leafs on the side.
  5. Pour the saltwater solution atop of everything and work out any bubbles. The veggies or grape leaves cannot be above the water line.
  6. Place a dunker (either a clean rock or a glass weight) atop to keep the veggies below the brine line.
  7. Seal tightly with a lid and allow to ferment for 3 to 10 days. The beans will get tangier as they age. If mold forms, dump it.
  8. Transfer to cold storage and enjoy on warm summer days! (I’m willing to bet these would taste really good in a Bloody Mary!)

 

Homemade Mustard

This recipe is inspired by David Lebovitz, a Paris transplant chef whom I absolutely adore. He made a homemade mustard based off of another homemade mustard recipe so I thought I’d give it a try.

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I’m sure by now, with my Lacto-Fermented Ketchup and Homemade Mayo, that it may have crossed your mind that I’m working on building up my collection of homemade condiments. And that would be correct. It’s just so easy to walk the two blocks to Safeway (the store I refer to as the glorified 7-11) and pick up a thing of whatever mustard I want. Problem is, I can’t track the ingredients – there’s gluten in some of the vinegars, random chemical fillers and is that plastic bottle really BPA-free? So, homemade mustard it is! Anyway, here’s a basic yellow. I can’t wait to grill up some brats on my BBQ and have some kraut and mustard!

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Homemade Mustard

  • 1/3 cup mustard seeds
  • 1/3 cup Chardonnay vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (can put more or less in, depending on how much heat you want)
  • 2-4 tablespoons warm water, if necessary
  1. In a stainless-steel bowl (anything else will stain, trust me), combine all ingredients, except water, and stir until blended.
  2. Set aside, covered with a towel, for two to three days.
  3. Blend in blender until smooth, adding a little bit of water if mustard is too thick.
  4. Stores in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 6 months (so mark the made date on the lid!)

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.

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