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.

Fermented Garlic

I’m a few days late and I missed a few posts… but I was busy trying not to get sick and working long hours (never a good combo). Here’s what I managed to jot down in my free time. 🙂

This stuff. This stuff right here is going to be our savior from the impending vampire apocalypse. Okay. Maybe not. But when my roommate’s fiance saw the massive crock of garlic fermenting on the kitchen counter, he did ask me if I was getting ready to ward off vampires. Without blinking an eye, I replied, “Of course I am.” haha! And if by “vampires”, he meant flu season, than I really wasn’t lying.

Fermented garlic is about the easiest thing possible. But it takes three months to make. That’s right. And you can’t touch it or open it. It’s brutal. The end result makes it all worthwhile – you have a product that tastes like garlic, but isn’t hot like usual raw garlic. In fact, garlic in and of itself is pretty amazing.

It’s a natural antimicrobial. Here’s the study from the National Institute of Health if you don’t believe me. The abstract:

Allicin, one of the active principles of freshly crushed garlic homogenates, has a variety of antimicrobial activities. Allicin in its pure form was found to exhibit i) antibacterial activity against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including multidrug-resistant enterotoxicogenic strains of Escherichia coli; ii) antifungal activity, particularly against Candida albicans; iii) antiparasitic activity, including some major human intestinal protozoan parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia; and iv) antiviral activity. The main antimicrobial effect of allicin is due to its chemical reaction with thiol groups of various enzymes, e.g. alcohol dehydrogenase, thioredoxin reductase, and RNA polymerase, which can affect essential metabolism of cysteine proteinase activity involved in the virulence of E. histolytica.

In normal speak, there’s a compound called allicin which is contained in raw garlic. It has four main antimicrobial activities when used in its pure form, i.e. raw. First, it is effective in fighting e.coli. Second, it’s an anti-fungal and some people will put it on fungal infections on the skin or, ingested, it will help with a candida overgrowth. Third, it’s a natural anti-parasitic. And, finally, it’s an antiviral. That last point – I’m digging it. Next time the doctor says you have a virus and there’s nothing you can do, go home and eat some garlic. I don’t like the heat of raw garlic and cooking it makes you lose the qualities… so a few months ago, I started fermenting some.

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There’s more health benefits associated with garlic and I’ll post those later. I’m lazy. And on my lunch break. 🙂

Fermented Garlic

  • lots of heads of garlic – enough to fit in the desired jar you’ll be using
  • A jar with a lid, make sure it’s clean – I wrote about which kinds of jars I like when I posted the South American Sauerkraut recipe
  • 33 grams Kosher sea salt (NO IODINE!)
  • a scale that will weigh the sea salt
  • 1 qt water, left on the counter for 30 minutes without a lid (so the chlorine evaporates off)
  1. Remove the garlic paper/peels, bruised spots, and any green shoots.
  2. Weigh out salt and add to water. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Place garlic in the jar, arraigning it so it’s packed in.
  4. Slowly pour the salt water over garlic and carefully work any remaining air bubbles.
  5. Place a dunker in the jar (a clean rock or glass plate), seal the lid and let sit. This stuff with foam and leak! Place it in a dish and “burp” it a few times a day at the onset.
  6. Let sit on the counter for about one month and then place in the fridge and let it sit for another month or two.

Feel free to sample a garlic clove to test for “doneness” – the clove should no longer be hot and you should be able to eat lots and lots without burning your mouth. If it is still hot, seal the jar back up and let it sit in the fridge for a bit longer. Also, if the brine starts to look cloudy with small white particulates, that’s alright – you’re doing it correctly. If it starts to grow mold, dump it out.

Latin American Sauerkraut

If you had asked me six months ago if I thought I would be fermenting my own sauerkraut, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now I find myself fermenting sauerkraut and loving it. It’s delicious. And fresh. And so so so different from the crap you buy in a jar at the grocery store. Imagine that! Fresh sauerkraut is crunchy, tangy, and not overly vinegary. And, most importantly, it’s easy. Oh, and it’s good for you. Like, really really really good for you. In case you haven’t caught my drift, here’s one more “really” to get my point across: REALLY.

And it tastes really good. As in my friends who were lamenting that they “hate sauerkraut” and “how could you make this” blah, blah, blah, LOVED it. In fact, they loved it so much, they might have eaten the rest of my lunch.

Now, if you’ve never had fresh fermented foods: be cautious. Too much could cause die-off and no one wants that. Seriously. It’s not fun. Die-off is caused when the bacteria and yeast in your gut die off and start releasing their toxins into your system. The result: what looks like, acts like and feels like the flu. But really isn’t the flu. Try telling that to your body. Which means…

  • muscle aches
  • fever
  • chills
  • headaches
  • skin rashes
  • brain fog
  • excess mucus production
  • increased GI problems – it gets worse before it gets better
  • and a whole myriad of other issues

So now that I have you all terrified, here’s the good news: you have to eat a whole lot to cause it. When you first introduce sauerkraut or other fresh lacto-fermented foods into your diet, do it in small quantities. A small portion of sauerkraut, like a ¼ cup will suffice. And increase from there. You may notice a bit of stomach gurgling after you eat it the first few times – that’s okay. That would be the good bacteria waging a war the likes of the movie “300” on the bad bacteria. 

A few notes before we get started – cabbage is one of the Clean 15 and does not need to be organic. You will need a jar that you can burp. I write about which jars I like in my Fermented Red Potatoes post. And, finally, you will want to put the sauerkraut somewhere where you don’t mind a little stank while it ferments. Some of the juices will leak out and it can be mildly smelly. Not too bad. Make sure you place a pie dish or something under it so you don’t have a huge mess to clean up on your counter.

Latin American Sauerkraut

  • 1 head cabbage, washed, cored and shredded 
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • ¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp sea salt (no iodine!!!!!!)

  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. 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). Place in the refrigerator and let sit for an additional week – do not open during this time.
  5. Open jars once a day during the sitting-on-counter phase to allow gas to escape. 
  6. Sauerkraut will keep indefinitely in the fridge. Enjoy!

Recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Chicken Fat

Today’s blog post will probably go against everything that you’ve ever been taught about how to eat. I suggest you sit while you read it. I, probably like many of you, grew up under the notion that consuming animal skin was bad for you. There was so much fat and fat and more fat that it was just no bueno. Ready to have your world rocked?

Wrong-o.

Consuming chicken skin isn’t bad for you. Nor is rendering the fat from it. Only one caveat: not all skins are created equal. Meaning that if we’re talking about our “normal bought at a conventional store” product, probably not the best idea. The skin and fat stores things – like toxins, excess self-produced hormones (chickens are not allowed to be fed/injected with hormones in the US, if you buy chicken because it’s “hormone-free”, you’re being duped) and other icky stuff you really don’t want in your body. 

Conventional chicken skins are raised in a mass barn, where the chickens are crammed in with each other, often walking on dead chickens, with no sunlight and crappy feed. Mmmm… I don’t know about you, but if I were being raised that way, I’d probably be pretty sickly, not grow well and be nutrient deficient. The same goes for the birds – if they’re raised in a crappy environment, they’re not going to produce the same quality of meat which means you’re not going to get the same nutrient panel from them. So, moral of the story: eating organic, free-range humanely raised chicken isn’t just a Portlandia joke, it’s really really much better for your health.

Now to talk about chicken feed. There’s a newish movement to feed chickens vegetarian feed. When you see that, think chemical shit storm. Seriously. While chickens aren’t allowed to be given hormones, they’re allowed to be given soy…. which acts an an estradiol. Which means… they’re being given a nutrient that works to create excess hormones in their body. See where I’m going with this?  mmmm – excess estrogen ingested into our bodies. Sign me up for none of that, please.

Further, chickens don’t eat soy. Nor do they eat a vegetarian diet. Like most birds, they’re foragers. And they eat bugs. They’re actually really good at bug population control – especially ticks and mosquitos. Those bird brains LOVE to eat them. A chicken that eats a natural diet is going to yield more healthful nutrients in its skin – like high levels of vitamin D3 and gut-healing properties. So… what does all of this have to do with chicken skins?

I buy my chicken skins from New Seasons here in Portland. A few times a year, I give the butcher at my local store a ring and request some of the organic, free-range chicken skins. He quotes me at $.99/lb and I tell him I want 5 pounds. It’s pretty easy. As he processes the meat, he throws them into a bag and puts it in the deep freeze. I get a call after a few days saying that my skins are ready and I drive over to pick them up and get a few weird looks/questions while I’m at it. You can set up a similar scenario at your local organic/natural foods store – but the prices will vary from store to store so go with what your butcher tells you. 🙂 I portion the skins out and freeze them into quart bags. I’ll process one pound at a time – it usually renders around a pint and a half. If any of you are good at math, that’s super cheap.

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Okay – so enough rambling. Here’s what I do to render the fat and eat the skins.

Chicken Fat

  • 1 pound chicken fat, washed and cut into smaller pieces (check for boney pieces and cut them out)
  • ½ cup of water
  • a large stock pot and a splatter screen (those things pop!)
  1. Layer the chicken skins on the bottom of a deep skillet or a dutch oven (I prefer the dutch oven, personally.)
  2. Dump the water in the pot and turn the stove top on to medium-high heat.
  3. Mix occasionally.
  4. You will start seeing golden fat float to the top along with some pieces of skin – it it looks more like skin and less like fried crispy goodness, keep going. Also, if you still see bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, keep going. This indicates water is still at the bottom. And when you use the fat, it’ll pop and you’ll get burned with hot oil. Again, no bueno.
  5. When the bubbles stop rising and the skin is completely golden and crispy, you’re done.
  6. Let the fat cool for a minute or two and prepare a fine mesh colander with some cheesecloth (this strains out the cracklings and small pieces). Place in a bowl and pour the fat through it.
  7. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to your glass storage container. Label and place in the fridge. Fat will last for a long, long while.
  8. With the cracklings, sprinkle some sea salt or pink salt and let cool – they make a healthy and delicious snack. Enjoy!

I use the fat to cook everything from eggs to smothering it between the skin and meat of a whole chicken to pan frying my broccoli to sauteing just about any vegetable.  Also, if you need more fat in the pan while you’re cooking, don’t be afraid of glopping it in. The uses are endless. Enjoy!

Chicken Marbella

By far my favorite chicken recipe of all time, this used to be my go-to when I had people coming over for dinner. The meal required a bit of planning ahead because I would let it marinade for 24 hours, rather than the instructed overnight. I recently experimented with making it paleo-friendly and the first attempt came out much too sweet. I’ve since cut back on the maple syrup and did a few made a few more tweaks.

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I used to serve it with white rice (I know, I know, I had no idea then) and will every once in a while serve it with brown rice of which I’ve soaked for 24 hours and then rinsed thoroughly (it ferments it of sorts). More often than not, I’ll pulse cauliflower until it’s the consistency of rice in my food processor and then steam it in a skillet with chicken fat or I’ll serve it over roasted cauliflower. It’s fantastic! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chicken Marbella
(based on the recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook)

  • 1 organic, free range fryer chicken, quartered (save the back and freeze it for soup) with the skin still on
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup pitted green Greek olives
  • 2 tbsp capers, plus 1 tbsp caper juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp organic grade B maple syrup
  • ¼ cup white wine or chicken stock (if you can’t tolerate wine)
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
  1. The night before: In a bowl, mix the chicken, garlic, oregano, S&P, red wine vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. The next day: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer chicken to a dutch oven and lay out chicken in a single layer, pour marinade juice around the chicken pieces.
  3. Pour maple syrup and white wine atop and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, basting frequently, until juices run clear in the chicken, when cut.
  5. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, capers, prunes and olives to a plate. Pour juices into a sauceboat… or just do what I did and serve it all in one massive heap atop a bed of steamed cauliflower “rice”. Sprinkle the Italian parsley on top prior to serving.

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Fermented Red Potatoes

Potatoes. They are my guilty pleasure in life. I love love love good French fries. I love skillet potatoes. I love the roasted potatoes you get with breakfast at Mother’s Bistro in downtown Portland. And kettle chips? Forget it. I’m a goner – and so is that bag. Unfortunately, they don’t love me and usually make me (and my sister) ill. My mom was doing some research a while back to find out why her two favorite daughters became ill after eating potatoes. And here’s what she found.

According to the American Cancer Society,

Acrylamide has probably always been present in some foods, but this wasn’t known until Swedish scientists first found it in certain foods in 2002.

I can’t blame GM foods for this one, fair enough.

Acrylamide does not appear to be in raw foods themselves. It is formed when certain starchy foods are cooked at temperatures above about 250° F. Cooking methods such as frying, baking, broiling, or roasting are more likely to produce acrylamide, while boiling, steaming, and microwaving appear less likely to do so. Cooking at high temperatures causes a chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) in the food, which causes acrylamide to form. Longer cooking times and cooking at higher temperatures can increase the amount of acrylamide in foods further.

This isn’t something that only affects a small population and I’m the unhappy recipient, it apparently reaches everyone but only a small population really really have a reaction. Example A runs this blog. And then upon reading further, my mother found out that fermenting the potatoes, or soaking them in salt water for three days, seriously reduced if not all together eliminated the occurrence of acrylamide. Thus making them safer and easier to digest. Crazy, right?

On another note, this is something that my ancestors in Ireland would have done (shameless Irish heritage plug: Éirinn go Brách!) – they would have soaked their potatoes overnight in a salt water brine, not knowing the science behind the why (that wasn’t discovered until 2002), but knowing that it reduced bloating, gas, general GI discomfort and any other allergic reaction that acrylamide causes.

I bet at this point you’re wondering what is going on behind the scenes, at the small organism level, right? Or is that just my science nerd brain at work? (Btw, great science fair ideas here) You’re growing your own bacterial colony. Gross, right? It’s called wild fermentation and it’s fabulous. Over the course of the next few days, the bacteria that occurs naturally on the potatoes (so don’t scrub too hard or use antibacterial soap), will go to town eating the starch and turning it into other stuff that our body can use more readily. They’re basically starting our digestive processes before we even eat it. Again, ew. But it works. And this is what generations did before we were on this earth. Anyway, the bacteria – the saltwater brine keeps out mold and the bad bacteria and yeasts. We only want the good guys in there.

Okay, that’s a lot of science and history. (If you want more science and history, feel free to email me under contact.)

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Here’s how it’s done:

Fermented Red Potatoes

  • Organic red potatoes, cleaned and quartered
  • Sea Salt (no iodine – I like this salt)
  • A quart of water, that has sat out for at least 30 minutes (this allows the trace minerals to evaporate out)
  • A canning jar (such as this one but I buy them cheaper at Ikea or you can use a standard half-liter canning mason jar with a clean lid)
  • A scale that measures little itty bitty amounts. I like this one.
  1. In a glass measuring bowl or something where you can measure out a quart of water, do so. Pour the water in and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Scrub the taters. Cut off any eyes, the stem part and any part that just looks funky. Chances are it is funky. And no one likes funky.
  3. Toss the spuds in the CLEAN jar (that’s right, you need to wash it and sanitize it – but do not use anti-bacterial soap, instead send it through the dishwasher for a cycle).
  4. Measure out 33 grams salt. Yes, that’s 33 grams. One more time: 33 grams. You’ll have to adjust your scale to zero out for whatever bowl you have sitting on top. But, again, 33 grams.
  5. Once the water has been sitting out for 30 minutes, toss the salt in and stir until dissolved. Add to the canning jar with the ‘tots. Seal the lid, place a dunker (I use river rocks that I found, scrubbed and sent through the dishwasher to ensure all dirt was gone) and let it sit. For three whole days. So, if you want potatoes for brunch on Sunday (because I live in Portland and brunch is the best meal of the week), you need to put them on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Get it? If you don’t have three days, it’s okay. Even overnight will help out a lot. But three days rids the spuds of every single bad thing.
  6. Place it in a cool place… or on your kitchen counter – they look pretty.
  7. When you’re done, and this is important, place the potatoes in a colander and rinse thoroughly. You’ve pulled the starches and any other toxins that they have in them. They have got to go. Also, you’ll notice a “sludge” at the bottom – this is the starch that’s been pulled from them. Ew, right?
  8. After they’re rinsed, they’re good to go – you can cook them any way you would cook regular potatoes. Pretty fancy, eh? I personally like to roast mine with bacon fat (mmm – bacon) and kosher salt and pepper until they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Enjoy!

Not sure what to do with them once you’re done? Or if you even did them right? Check out Fermented Red Potatoes… Pt 2

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