Jul 31, 2010

Arkansas Sustainability Network Food Club

You want fresh local food, but you'd rather be in bed at 7am on Saturday morning than at a farmers' market? The Arkansas Sustainability Network Food Club has the answer for you. At the beginning of each week, members order local produce, meat, plants, baked goods, farm crafts, and more at the ASN website. They pick up their orders on Saturday between 10am and 12pm. To participate, just go to the ASN Food Club webpage and sign up for an account. Participation is only $5 per month. After you sign up, you will receive a notification e-mail when on-line ordering opens on Sunday evening. You have until Tues. evening to place your order.

On Saturday morning you can visit the nearby Certified Arkansas Farmers Market before ASN food club opens...or you can sleep in until it's time to pick up your food. The food club pick-up is at Christ Episcopal Church located at 6th and Scott Street in downtown Little Rock.
After arriving at the church, go through the front doors and pick up a print out of the order you placed.
Then take your print out to the helpful volunteers who will collect your items for you. Make sure and take a bag for all your goodies.

Carrie Scott (below) is the Food Club Coordinator.
Items requiring refrigeration will be in the kitchen. You might want to bring a cooler, if you have cold items.

Take your items back to the front for check-out. You can pay with cash or with a check.
That's it! It's really simple. ASN food club is open year round, so you can get great meat, eggs, honey, and other good food even when it's not "produce season."

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Jul 30, 2010

Workshop: Probiotic Foods - Special Offer

There are still spaces available in the workshop on making probiotic foods on Tuesday, August 3rd from 7-9pm. For more details on the benefits of probiotic foods read here.

I've have been asked about a discount for spouses or another household member. Since I still have plenty of space in this workshop, you may bring another member of your household for $30 for the two of you. Individual participants are $25. Workshop attendees will receive cultures for home fermenting.

We will be making lacto-fermented sauerkraut and perhaps some peppers, as well as making dairy kefir, kombucha, and water kefir. We will also make lacto-fermented condiments (mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard). This is an opportunity to learn to economically add probiotic, nutrient-dense food to your diet.

To register contact realfoodlisa AT gmail DOT com.

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The “Short Skinny” on Sweets

The folloinwg is a guest post from former WAPF LR chapter leader, Rita O'Kelley. I know you'll find it helpful.

Sweet! a modern term that means “good!” “cool!” …an exclamatory expression of approval.

It also satisfies one of the four basic human tastes: salt, sour, bitter, and sweet. We
want to limit our intake of sweets. Choose fresh fruits at their peak of ripeness
and natural sweeteners high in nutrients rather than refined sugar products.

A quick guide, not all-inclusive:

Raw Honey:
Honey that has not been heated over 117 degrees and retains enzymes that digest
carbohydrates as well as nutrients from plant pollens. Use only in desserts that
do not require heating.

Note: Do not give to infants as they lack sufficient stomach acid to deactivate
bacteria spores.

Choose honey from local beekeepers. Helps your State and provides local pollens that fight allergies.

Maple Syrup:
Rich in trace minerals from the tree’s deep roots. May be used in baked goods such
as pancakes and muffins.
Choose organic formaldehyde-free.
The Grain & Salt Society

Dehydrated cane sugar juice, rich in minerals. Gives best results for cookies and cakes.
Be careful not to overdo. You can find it packaged or in bulk bins. Beware of packaged product labeled “Sucanat Sugar” which is merely crystalline sugar.

Available in powder or liquid. Stevia is an herb. A little goes a long way as a pinch is the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar. It does not work well in baked goods, but I have used it in tea, salad dressings, smoothies, and whipped cream.

Unsulphured blackstrap molasses, high in nutrients and can be added to smoothies
making it more palatable. If extracted from sugar cane from fertile soil it will contain
many minerals. Has a strong taste and moderate sweetness.

Naturally Sweetened Jams:
Look for jams sweetened with dehydrated can juice rather than fructose or high fructose corn syrup.

Sweeteners to avoid:
-Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup
-Contentrated Fruit Juice
-“Raw”, “natural” and Turbinado sugars and Florida crystals – these are all refined
sugars with nutrients removed.

Although “Life is Short, eat dessert first!” is a fun saying… a better thing to remember
is “eat sweets WITH fats (butter, cream and eggs) as fats slow absorption of sugar
in the bloodstream.”

-Don’t keep sweets in the house
-Never shop when hungry
-Enlist power of prayer in battle against sweet tooth
-Never send a child to a party or sleepover on an empty stomach
-You cannot keep sugar away from your children entirely. They will rebel.


Thanks for the good advice, Rita. I know sweets are a difficult area for a lot of us. I used to be addicted. I have found that increasing nutrient-dense foods, in particular, increasing fats like butter and coconut oil goes a long way toward curbing the desire for sweets. Sweet craving often result from blood sugar drop. Natural saturated fats help stabilize blood sugar. Starting your day with a breakfast containing fat and some protein will significantly help with the sugar/carb carvings.

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Jul 29, 2010

How to Preserve Green Beans

Oh the sights and smells of summer!  I have many good memories of my mom and grandmother working in the garden - then sitting on the porch preparing vegetables for canning or the freezer.

This week I bought a bunch of green beans from Kellogg Valley Farms and froze them.  This is how I did it.

Start with the end in mind.  Pinch the ends off or use a paring knife. While doing this, inspect the beans for spots that should be removed.

My grandmother would snap the beans in pieces, but I thought it was faster to use my chef's knife and cut them.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil then blanch the beans for 2-3 minutes.
Then stop the cooking process by putting your beans into an ice bath.  My giant stock pot has a colander inside of it, so I pulled the colander out and was able to pour the beans into icy cold water in my sink.
If you have a salad spinner, use it to dry the beans.  If you have a little boy who's willing to help, this is a perfect job for him.  We even talked about centrifugal force.
Dump the beans onto a clean, dry towel.
At this point you can either bag the beans in a zip top bag or go to Lisa's house and use her vacuum packer.  I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you wanted to use her machine, too.  :)

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Protect Real Food

I was just on the phone placing a beefalo order with Barbara Armstrong, the Beefalo Woman. Barbara was explaining that processing of her beefalo is taking an extra long time because of the excessive regulations that are being placed on her. This has happened because of the safety issues and meat recalls that keep occurring with meat from unhealthy confinement operations and big processing plants.

In a supposed effort to make meat safer, the small producers who raise healthy safe meat are being pushed out. And the US Senate is currently poised to make the situation much worse with Senate Bill 510. Barbara believes if this bill passes, we will lose our remaining 2 small processing facilities in Arkansas. S. 510 would actually make our food less safe by strengthening the forces that have led to the consolidation of our food supply in the hands of a few industrial food producers, while harming small producers who give consumers the choice to buy fresh, healthy, local foods

Please contact Senators Lincoln and Pryor NOW to urge them to amend or oppose the bill! Contact information and talking points are below.

Congress needs to solve the real problems - the centralized food distribution system and imported foods - and not regulate our local food sources out of business. S. 510 is a "one-size-fits-all" approach that will unnecessarily burden both farmers and small-scale food processors, ultimately depriving consumers of the choice to buy from producers they know and trust.


Call both of our Senators. You can find their contact information here, or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 877-210-5351. Ask to speak with the staffer who handles food safety issues.

TALKING POINTS Over 150 organizations have signed a letter of support for the Tester-Hagan amendments to exempt small-scale and local producers from the more burdensome provisions of the bill. You can borrow some talking points from the letter here.

Tell the staffer that you want the Senator to amend or oppose S. 510. If you get their voice mail instead of the staff, leave the following message:

"Hi, my name is _____ and I live in ______. I'm very concerned that S.510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, imposes unfair and burdensome regulations on local food sources, which are very important to me. I urge the Senator to support the Tester-Hagan Amendments to exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill. Please call me back at ____________."

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Jul 28, 2010

Baked Oatmeal

Do you wake up starving in the morning like I do? Here's a hearty and scrumptious way to start the day. This is basically MY favorite way of making this. There are several versions "out there," but this specific method is what truly works for me. (I'd give credit where it is due, but I can't for the life of me remember where I got this exact recipe.) This particular recipe serves 10-12, but it can easily be halved. Though I don't know why anyone would want only HALF of this oatmeal goodness, especially since it stores well in the fridge and can be reheated.

The night before you plan to have "Baked Oatmeal" for breakfast, mix 6 cups rolled oats with 2 cups buttermilk. Cover loosely with a dish towel and soak overnight.

The next morning, the first thing I do is crack 4 eggs into a bowl and set aside. This gives the eggs a chance to come to room temperature (or close).

Now preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, using a wooden spoon, break apart the soaked oats a bit. They will be pretty clumpy and hard to stir. You just want to break them up enough that when you add your dry ingredients, they will be evenly distributed.

Now add 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon to the oats and mix well.

Melt 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of coconut oil. (If you don't have coconut oil, use 2 sticks of butter. But know this: virgin coconut oil is SO good for you!! You can get some here.)  I melt them separately, but you CAN melt them together. You'll just need to start the butter to melting first, because coconut oil melts FAST, and you don't want it to get too hot. Then set them aside to cool a bit.

Next, take two of these beauties. (Pears are good, too, or any other fruit you'd like. I have a friend who even makes it with chocolate chips from time to time!)

Then peel and chop or grate them. (I grate mine so I don't have to worry about babies choking on large clumps, but I also think the oatmeal is moister and more apple-y throughout, which is just yummier!) Add the fruit and all its juice to the oat mixture.

Now butter a 9 x 13-inch pan or, as in my case, a casserole that holds a comparable amount. (You can also smear coconut oil in the pan. Both ways work fine. If  I'm using a metal pan, I like to line it with parchment paper first and then butter THAT so the metal doesn't touch the food.)

Lightly beat eggs with a whisk. Then beat in 3/4 c. honey (or Sucanat). I personally like the rich taste the honey gives it, but it can get expensive using that much raw honey at once. In fact, I tend to hoard our honey, so sometimes I use half honey and half Sucanat. But recently I got all crazy and tried 3/4 c. Sucanat with no honey, and it was a success! (Whew!) Still totally delicious. 

Now, to the eggs and sweetener, slowly add the melted butter...

and oil, while whisking quickly.

Now you can add the liquid ingredients to the oat mixture.

Looking good...

Spread the mixture into your buttered pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees.

Once baked and dished into individual bowls, I like to sprinkle with raisins (for those who can eat raisins) and then pour a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream on top. (The raisins can also be baked into it. I prefer to leave them out of the baking process, so I don't have to pick them out later.) Stir and eat!  

Of course, this little guy eats his like THIS--. No raisins and no cream usually ('cause he's already drinking lots of rich, whole raw milk).

I've found I can really save time in the morning if I'll go ahead and do some of the steps the night before, like wash and dry the apples (I could probably go ahead and grate them and stick 'em in the fridge, too), measure out the honey (or other sweetener), set out the dry ingredients and measuring spoons (or even go ahead and measure them out), etc.

There are even more recipes for similar dishes on sites like Allrecipes.com, but THIS recipe is truly healthy, as it includes the all-important grain-soaking step. Soaking grains like oats before cooking makes them as healthy as they are supposed to be. (You might have read that I try to do this in some of my other recipes.) Why soak?? Well, whole grains like oats (or whole wheat flour, brown rice, etc.) contain SO many good things for you--things that we genuinely NEED! But they also contain enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that make it difficult for YOU to digest them properly and make it next to impossible for you to absorb the actual minerals/nutrients they contain. So, it's sort of pointless to bother with oats unless you're going to soak them. Aren't you glad to know that?

Okay! So. I hope you enjoy breakfast tomorrow...You will if you try Baked Oatmeal. It's like having dessert for breakfast!!

This post is linked with Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family and Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday.

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Jul 27, 2010

Watch for the Signatures

I am feeling like an extremely fortunate WAPF chapter leader this evening. I volunteered for this position a few months ago with the hope of helping people in the Little Rock area learn more about purchasing and preparing real food. I wanted to be able to teach others what I have learned about nutrition and food preparation over the past 5 years. What I quickly discovered was that my knowledge of the traditional food preparation methods of past generations didn't prepare me for the information sharing technology of this generation. Which means that if it were all up to me, you definitely would not be reading a blog post written by me right now.

Fortunately for you (IMHO) Julie Majors stepped in to fill this vital gap. You have Julie to thank for this blog and for a great deal of the posts on it. It is a little unusual (and a little confusing) for a blog to be written by more than one person, but I think we are on to something with this. Not only have Julie and I each written posts for "Real Food in Little Rock", we have also had a number of guest authors who have added to the real food conversation. I believe it is proving quite beneficial for all of us to have the opportunity to hear from various "real people" on a "real food journey" in Little Rock.

But I know some of you are having a little difficulty keeping up with who is writing which posts, and as much as I might like to keep getting the credit for some of Julie's wonderful posts, I just can't take the guilt anymore. Fortunately, Lori Davidson has come to my rescue. She has designed a signature that will appear at the bottom of each post. If you look for the signature, you will know who wrote the post. You may also notice that we now have links on Real Food in Little Rock for facebook and twitter. Don't ask me about facebook or twittering, because I haven't a clue. Here's the real shocker, not even Julie knows how to do that stuff! But, thanks to Lori, you now have even more cyberspace access to real food information. Welcome aboard Lori!

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What's the Buzz? Tell Me What's Happenin'

How about another great way to keep up with all that Real Food in Little Rock wants to share with you?!

You won't want to miss a single meeting, gathering, workshop, event, important date, market, interesting tidbit, or new recipe!!

We're NOW on....
* Facebook: Real Food in Little Rock   (LIKE us!!!!)


* Twitter: RealFoodLR   (FOLLOW us!!!!)

'Cause we're cool like that!

And, of course, if you're on Facebook and/or Twitter, check out the buttons at the bottom of each blog post. We'd love to have you SHARE with YOUR Facebook friends and Twitter followers whatever you find interesting/exciting here at Real Food in Little Rock.

Get connected!

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Jul 26, 2010

Bulk Ordering: Country Life Natural Foods

While we at "Real Food in Little Rock" are big supporters of locally grown sustainably produced food, we realize that there are healthy food items that you may want that are not available locally. In an effort to help you purchase these items economically, we would like you to be aware of bulk purchasing opportunities.

On our "Food Sources" page you can find information about ordering from Azure Standard which now has 2 drop sites in our area. Soon we will be adding the details for another bulk purchasing option with Country Life Natural Foods. Country Life offers a wide variety of dry goods like grains, beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, various sweetners, and baking supplies. Unlike Azure Standard, where you can place your individual order on-line, orders to Country Life must be place as a group through the Little Rock Bulk Buying Club.

If you are interested in more information about placing orders with the Little Rock Bulk Buying Club, send a request for information to realfoodlisa AT gmail Dot com.

EDIT:  Lisa no longer orders through Country Life.

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Jul 24, 2010

Meet Your Farmers

Here are pictures from today's Certified Arkansas Farmers Market.
Farm Girl Natural Foods has the "best dressed" stand.

This is David Owens of 3-Buddy's Berry and Mushroom Farms.  His shiitake mushrooms are the bomb. By about 10am he had sold out.  He said, "And I did it without the help of a computer!"

Meet "The Russian Farmer."  He is, indeed, Russian.  And has a dry sense of humor.

Some of the signage on his tables made me chuckle.

This is Eddie Stuckey of Kellogg Valley Farms.  His farm is chemical-free and certified naturally grown (which is the closest thing to "organic" without paying fees and keeping records for the USDA).  Eddie is very knowledgeable and has solved gardening problems for me.  See pictures of his farm here.

Today was the pick-up for the Basket-A-Month program.

I saw lots of babies and children today, but this one was especially cute.  (She's mine.)

The wanna be farmers - L to R:
Julie Majors, Laura Fiser, Lisa Lipe.

We came to the market to promote the Little Rock chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. It was HOT and I now have a new found appreciation for the farmers who sell each week...not to mention the hard work they do before coming to market. 

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Jul 22, 2010

Workshop: Probiotic Foods

You are invited to a workshop on making probiotic foods Tuesday, August 3rd from 7-9pm. We will be making lacto-fermented sauerkraut and perhaps some peppers, as well as making dairy kefir, kombucha, and water kefir. We will also make lacto-fermented condiments (mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard. This is an opportunity to learn to economically add probiotic, nutrient-dense food to your diet.

The workshop will be held at the home of a local WAPF chapter member on the Little Rock side of Roland (about 10 minutes from the Wal-mart on Hwy. 10). There will be a limit of 15 participants. Cost is $25, non-refundable, in advance to hold your spot. Please e-mail me if you would like to participate. realfoodlisa AT gmail DOT com

Why are probiotic foods important?
Our intestines are designed to house trillions of beneficial microorganisms which are necessary for proper digestion, immunity, and overall health. Unfortunately, in our modern society we have waged war for some time against these probiotic (for life) organisms.

Antibiotics, which kill good and bad bacteria indiscriminately, are not only used frequently in medical treatment, they are also found in conventionally raised meats and animal products. I was surprised to find out recently that antibiotics are even sprayed on food crops. In addition, medications such as steroids, birth control pills, ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen contribute to deficiencies in probiotic bacteria. Modern diets filled with refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) favor bad bacteria; and pasteurization of foods, such as milk, for the purpose of destroying bad bacteria, eliminates the good guys as well.

Not taking care of the bacteria that takes care of us, creates an intestinal environment that encourages problems such as chronic ear infections, colds, digestive disorders, focus and attention issues, asthma, and allergies.

Beneficial bacteria are responsible for enabling the absorption of nutrients from food. When these bacteria are not present, it becomes difficult to obtain the nutrients needed, even when nutritious foods are eaten.

One way to increase good bacteria in the digestive system is to take a probiotic supplement, but an even better way is to consume cultured and fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and unpasteurized sauerkraut. When eaten with other foods, these foods are not only a source of good bacteria; they also contain enzymes that improve digestion of the entire meal.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet DictocratsFind more information in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

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Jul 21, 2010

Ginger Peach Gumbo

This recipe was inspired from one I found in a Denver Junior League cookbook.  Most of the ingredients are local and fresh.  Yay!  
First, start with purple hull peas.  I must confess, when I saw them at the farmers market I thought they were black eyed peas.  Before today, to my knowledge, I've never eaten purple hull peas.  They are delicious!  I'm buying more this weekend just to eat with cornbread.  They are wonderful just as they are.  This is the recipe I used to cook them.

Here are the other ingredients, most were either from my garden or farmers market.
I chop; he stirs.

The recipe:

1T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 T chopped ginger
1 T curry (optional)
4 cups cooked purple hull peas
3 medium fresh tomatoes or 28 oz can with juices
1-2 cups fresh or frozen okra, chopped 1/2 inch pieces
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Saute onion, peppers and garlic in hot oil until tender.  Stir in ginger.  Cook 3 more minutes.  Add peas, okra & tomatoes.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Finally stir in peach - or, use as garnish.

Spoon over hot rice, basmati or brown.  I didn't have either so I used quinoa.

Optional:  Add cooked shrimp or chicken.

See Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more real food recipes.

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Easy Chicken Broth

Broth is a super food. It is super good for you. Don't believe me? Read this article.

Making your own broth is a simple baby step towards better nutrition.  Buying a whole chicken is usually cheaper (per pound) than its boneless, skinless counterparts.  And the meat from a whole chicken tastes wonderfully moist.

Here's an easy way to make broth:

1. Plop a naked chicken in your crock-pot.  I was so lazy I didn't add any spices or remove the giblets (the gizzard, heart and liver inside the bird.)  This chicken is from a local farmer so there isn't a plastic bag inside.  Because the chicken is pastured, it is smaller than its Tyson mammoth cousins.
2.  Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar.  The acid helps pull calcium from the bones and makes the broth mineral rich.  If you forget this step, no big deal.  The broth will still be good for you. 

3.  Fill crock with water.  I was stingy with the water; I could have added more.

4.  Turn on the crock.  It will be done in 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.  I consider it done when I push on a leg and it falls off.  When the meat is that tender, it is very easy to remove the meat from the bones.  Another indicator of doneness is when the broth is boiling.  Often times I will put a rock-hard-frozen chicken in a crock before bed then unplug the crock in the morning.  Because I don't like to wake to the smell of chicken, I plug up my crock in the garage or on the porch.  It is so hot the critters won't bother it.

5.  Let cool then remove meat from bones.

6. Strain broth.

7.  If you want to make more broth, toss bones back into crock with fresh water and a bit more vinegar. Cook another 8-24 hours.

8.  If you are in a hurry and want to be finished with the process, toss bones in the trash and refrigerate broth.  Or, I have frozen the bones to make broth another day.

9.  With a few hours of refrigeration, your broth will be gelatinous.  Read here why the gelatin is so good for you.  Maybe you noticed there isn't fat on the top of my refrigerated broth.  I own a handy dandy gravy separator  to remove the fat before refrigerating the broth.  I don't always separate the fat.

At this point it is ready to use or freeze.  Homemade broth will revolutionize your cooking!  Everything tastes better when you've used homemade broth.

For more ideas of five meals with two chickens, click here.

Here is my secret ingredient for making gelatinous broth.

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