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.
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.
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
- In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is tender, about 45-60 minutes. Or see crock pot directions above.
So before I tell you what meat is in here, let me just preface this with a disclaimer: Organ meats are really really good for you! And beef heart is no exception. Especially when it’s organic and pasture-raised. (That preface didn’t last long.)
A few months ago, my local food buying club had a buy on a whole cow. There were various cuts and it was first come, first serve. Ironically, no one wanted the ox tail, the heart or the Rocky Mountain Oysters. Okay. I didn’t want the latter, either. But for $10, now was a good a time as any to buy a beef heart. So I did. And it sat in my freezer until I was tired of looking at it this past week.
Beef heart gets a bad rap for being a “gamey” chunk of meat. (For those of you who are gagging over this, it’s a muscle. And it’s the hardest working muscle in the body and it needs gobs of nutrients to work, making it nutrient-dense and really good for you. So… Think of it that way.)
This chili wasn’t gamey at all. It’s rich, the spices compliment each other and the beef heart is the most tender piece of meat you may ever put in your mouth. I cut the pieces up into stew meat sized bites. To the untrained observer – aka your family, they’ll have no idea.
Preparing it is a bit of a trick, you want to cut away the connective tissue (it’s tough), the valves and tendons (no one wants to chew on something that much) and the fat (it’s a hard, grisly fat that doesn’t cook well). Then, just cut it up like I would stew meat. Voila! No one knew… Until I told them. (And I did because I like to see the look on their faces. I’m mean like that.)
Two Meat Chili
- 3 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 medium Organic Yellow Onion, chopped
- 1 Organic Green Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 Jicama, peeled and diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 lbs Ground Pasture-Raised Organic Pork
- 1 Pasture-Raised Organic Beef Heart, trimmed and cut up like small pieces of stew meat
- 1-28 oz can Organic BPA-free Crushed Tomatoes
- ½ cup Filtered Water
- 1 tbsp Chilli Powder
- 2 tbsp Cumin
- 1 tbsp Oregano
- 1 tbsp Organic Cocoa Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 ½ tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- ½ tsp Cayenne
- 1 ½ tsp Salt or salt to taste
- 1 tsp Pepper
- In a stock pot over medium heat with 1 tbsp coconut oil, brown beef and ground pork.
- In a separate skillet over medium heat, saute jicama in 2 tbsp coconut oil until slightly translucent.
- When beef is lightly browned, add onion, garlic and spices. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add jicama (after about 6-8 minutes) to the beef, pork and onion mixture. Stir to incorporate.
- Add tomatoes and water.
- Simmer until done, about 1 hour.
- Serve with your favorite raw milk aged cheddar or Crème fraîche.
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.
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
- 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.
- Add the chopped leek and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the apple, sage and vinegar. Stir to incorporate and cook for another few minutes, until the apple is cooked and the sage wilted.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
I made the not-so-bright decision to pull two pounds of ground pork out of the freezer.
Not one, but two.
Apparently I was over-zealous with how much I thought I could eat this week.
Or maybe how much I like homemade Italian sausage. Which is a lot.
But, seriously. I have my limits.
Perusing my fridge, I realized that I had a head of cabbage that had been hanging out in the back for…. longer than I care to admit. Cabbage doesn’t ever really go bad so I peeled off the leaves that had started rusting and voila! Inspiration was born. (I also had to steal two carrots from my roommate – but she got dinner out of the deal… and I still owe her two carrots.)
Below is the result of my said inspiration. It’s hearty, filling and 21 Day Sugar Detox-friendly.
You know that filling from egg rolls? Yea. It tastes like that. Minus the greasy fried egg roll bit. (Who likes soggy fried food anyway? mmm.. French fries in duck fat… okay. I do.) But let’s bring it back to egg rolls. I hated the roll and only ate them so I could have the filling and maybe the dipping sauce. But this recipe is so tasty that it doesn’t need the dipping sauce. So this is the best thing ever.
- 1 lb organic, pasture-raised ground pork
- ½ head cabbage, shredded
- 1 organic carrot, shredded
- ½ cup organic daikon radish, julienne cut
- ¼ cup organic green onion, diced
- 2 tsp fresh organic minced ginger
- 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 3 ½ tbsp coconut aminos
- ½ tsp (or more) dried red chili flakes
- Over medium heat, cook the pork until no longer pink along with the ginger, spices, salt and coconut aminos.
- Add the cabbage and carrots and cook for three minutes more, stirring often to make sure the cabbage cooks.
- Add the daikon radish and continue to cook until radish is slightly cooked and cabbage is cooked but still tender. (It shouldn’t be bright green – if it is, keep cooking.)
- Serve on a bed of lettuce or put it in a bowl and eat it. Or if you feel like being all fancy, fill Belgian endive cups with it. This would also taste good on cauliflower rice. Or just grab a fork and throw manners to the wind and eat out of your skillet.
What. Don’t judge me.
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. 🙂
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
- 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.
- 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.
- On the plate, combine the almond meal, salt and pepper and sift with a fork until incorporated.
- 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.
- Cook until the egg is done and golden brown. Remove from pan and put aside. Repeat until all zucchini has been cooked.
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.
- 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)
- Put scraps in the jar or bowl.
- 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.)
- Use a rock, plate or a plastic lid to keep fruit submerged. If it won’t stay under, stir daily to prevent mold growth.
- 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!)
- 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.
- Return the liquid to the container and cover it again with the cloth or filter and let it sit another 3-4 weeks.
- 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.
- Bottle in narrow-neck bottles, cover and store indefinitely (as in it doesn’t go bad) at room temperature.
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.
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
- In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, melt the lard or butter.
- Add kale and garlic and cook until kale is wilted.
- Add cooked sausage or ham and rice and stir to incorporate.
- 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Add the salt to the water, stir to dissolve and set aside.
- In your jar, layer the red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and dill on the bottom.
- Place the green beans and scape spears on top of the spices, stick straight up. Stuff the grape leafs on the side.
- Pour the saltwater solution atop of everything and work out any bubbles. The veggies or grape leaves cannot be above the water line.
- Place a dunker (either a clean rock or a glass weight) atop to keep the veggies below the brine line.
- 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.
- Transfer to cold storage and enjoy on warm summer days! (I’m willing to bet these would taste really good in a Bloody Mary!)
My roommate’s siblings were visiting this past weekend and one of them was off of refined sugar and gluten for a nice little elimination diet. As soon as she told me, I thought, “Welcome to the club!” It was fun spoiling them (they’re a lot younger than I am) and I decided to treat them to an “ice cream” that she could also partake in. It’s nothing fancy schmancy but it gets the job done for a last minute sweet treat.
Chocolate “Ice Cream”
- 1 14-fl oz can coconut fat (or full-fat coconut milk, chilled)
- 2 ½ cups coconut milk, unsweetend
- 1/3 cup organic, raw honey
- 1 tsp gluten-free, organic vanilla extract
- ¼ cup cocoa powder (I use Trader Joe’s)
- Mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well blended.
- Put in ice cream maker and churn until frozen, place in the freezer for ½ an hour or until more firmly set.