May 31, 2011

Batch Cooking Here We Come!

blender pancakes ready to soak overnight
HB and I (Julie) are going to attempt a marathon day in the kitchen.  We both love our families and want to cook nutritious food - but sometimes making real food takes time.  In one afternoon, we hope to knock out several meals and fill our freezers!  By doing this, we'll be able to spend plenty of time with our families at the pool - instead of the kitchen.

HB has written before that she loves when her children help in the kitchen.  In that same post she wrote: I have a strict "no cussing in the kitchen" policy at my house. If we're in the kitchen, and you're gonna make me cuss, then you gotta get out.

We are cooking at my house, and because I don't want to hear HB cuss, we've hired babysitters.  The children will not be here. :)

A few days ago, we agreed on recipes that both families loved.  Earlier today HB tallied our needed quantities from recipes then took her three precious children with her on a major grocery run.  What a woman!

Tonight, I made a triple batch of blender pancakes to soak.  Already soaking are garbanzo beans for falafel.  Collectively, we've roasted 7 chickens (made gallons of broth!) with aspirations of making chicken pot pie and chicken a la king as well as chicken enchiladas.  Tomorrow one of us will pan fry about 4 pounds of ground beef for beef enchiladas. **Shh!! don't tell our families - we're going to sneak in some liver.  Kelly the Kitchen Kop gave us the courage after she added it to jalapeno poppers.**

Stay tuned.  I will try to post our progress as we go.


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May 28, 2011


Fresh, local blueberries are here! Find them at your nearest farmers market.

She loves them.

Actually, we're all crazy over them.


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May 24, 2011

Seasonal Dinner - Fast

In trying to keep one of my real food resolutions, I attempt to cook foods in season and grown locally once a week.  Tonight's meal was mostly local.  With the addition of spaghetti noodles (refined flour *gasp*!!) it wasn't exactly Weston A. Price approved but my family gobbled it up.  I think yours will, too.  A friend brought this meal to us just after my daughter was born; we loved it so much I begged for the recipe.

My favorite part about this recipe?  I can chop and prepare everything during the day (or night before) and it comes together in about 10 minutes.

3+ TBSP coconut oil
2 TBSP sesame oil (we like dark)
3 cups shredded cabbage (I just chop mine--usually 1/2 medium head of cabbage -- the cabbage I bought at the farmers' market on Saturday was just a bit bigger than a soft ball so I used the entire thing, it made about 6 cups not packed)
1/2 cup or more chopped green onions
8 oz. angel hair pasta
4+ TBSP soy sauce (to taste)
Cooked chicken (optional - I cooked a chicken in the crock pot on Sunday and used leftovers for this meal)
sugar snap or snow peas (optional)
Bean sprouts (optional)
Water Chestnuts (optional)
cashews (optional for garnish)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Heat coconut oil and sesame oil in large skillet or wok.
3. Saute cabbage and green onions until soft.
4. Add pasta and soy sauce to cabbage/onions (also add chicken, etc. if desired) and heat through.

As you can see, it is an easy, versatile recipe--can be used as a side or main dish.  I served it with kimchi.

(This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday.)

After writing this post and thinking about how to make it more nourishing, I wonder what it would taste like if I made it "fried rice" style by using brown rice cooked in broth (instead of pasta) and added a pastured egg or two near the end.  The egg I'd scramble in a dish and pour into the cabbage and rice and cook till done.

What do you think?  Would that work?

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May 22, 2011

Egg Beaters: Cannot Sustain Life

A reoccurring theme on this blog is: what you eat is important. We emphasize eating real food.

Many know that breakfast is "the most important meal of the day." In this quarter's Wise Traditions, a journal published by the Weston A. Price Foundation, there's an article called Morning Nourishment: Bountiful Benefits and Creative Ideas that is worth reading.
image from WAPF website

Of particular note is a sidebar near the end of the article with the above picture.  In a study that fed rats Egg Beaters, the rats had diarrhea within one week and died within three or four weeks.  Animals and humans alike need the (good) cholesterol and fat found in egg yolks.

Just say no to Egg Beaters.  Eat the real thing.


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May 21, 2011

Today's Snack

She loves her peas and raw cheese from the farmers market.

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May 16, 2011

How to Render Lard

Lard made from pastured hogs is an excellent source of Vitamin D. The only real food better for Vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil.  Why do we need this vitamin?  It is crucial for the immune system, keeping inflammation at bay, calcium absorption, and decreasing the risk for chronic illnesses.  Acquiring it in a whole food form (instead of synthetic) is the body's best way of absorbing it.

Not all lard is created equal.  I do not buy hydrogenated lard from the grocery store.  Hydrogenated fats are bad, bad bad.  Home rendered lard is a good fat.

Some friends of mine are buying 1/2 a hog from a farmer, and I encouraged them to ask for the fat back so they could make lard.  You can also obtain fat back from a meat market; however, you will not be sure of the farmer's husbandry standards or if the hog had access to sunlight (which makes vitamin D in the hog's fat).

This is a quick picture tutorial on how I rendered lard.

First, cut it into equal(ish) sized cubes.  Mine were about 2 inches square.  Emphasis on about.  Rendering lard is not difficult nor an exact science.  The hardest thing about rendering lard is being patient because done right it is rendered slowly.

After cutting in equal pieces, plop it in a big pot.  I think I had about 5 pounds.
Turn your stovetop on about 3, on a scale of 10.  The lower the temperature, the less likely it is to taste "porky."  A lower temperature also takes longer.
At first, you will need to tend to the lard with frequency.  You don't want the fat to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Stirring every few minutes is a good thing.
Once there's enough fat melted, it is not as important to stir frequently.
As time elapses, the fat back shrinks and the volume of liquid lard increases.  The hot lard appears golden yellow.
In the picture above, the fat back had been melting for about 8 hours and I was ready to go to bed.  If I'd started it earlier in the day, I would not have wasted so much - and the floating fat back pieces would have been smaller.  

When you're ready to declare yourself finished, carefully pour the hot lard through a strainer.  I used a paper towel to catch the pork pieces.  Some people like to bake these till crispy and eat them on a salad.  They are quite tasty.  I was ready to go to bed, so I just thew it away.  (Side note: if you're a Little House on the Prairie fan, Laura writes about begging her mother for these pieces.  To which her mother replied something like, "Oh they are too rich for children."  Translation: I want it all to myself! :)
Once the lard cools, it will be a lovely white color.  I store the jars in my fridge or freezer for at least six months.  By then, I've used it all - frying my falafel in it, making tortillas, frying potatoes, making  pie crusts, or biscuits.  Five pounds of fat back rendered about 2 quarts of lard.
This post is a part of Monday Mania with Sarah the Healthy Home Economist.

Related links:
Kitchen Stewardship has an excellent explanation on healthy fats.
Video from Sarah the Healthy Home Economist: How to Render Lard.
How to Render Lard and Tallow by Cheeseslave, who also includes directions for the oven or slow cooker.

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May 10, 2011

Invitation to Falling Sky Farm

Just received this news flash. Andrea and Cody are inviting everyone who is interested to visit Falling Sky Farm in Marshall, Arkansas this weekend. This is a great chance to meet some wonderful local farmers. Falling Sky farm is a local source for organically-fed, pastured chicken and eggs as well as grass-fed beef and pastured pork. Hope you are able to take advantage of this opportunity!

Invitation from Falling Sky Farm:
This Sunday, May 15st, we will be having another “open-farm” day for any of you who would like to come tour the farm and join us for some good food. We plan to do two tours, one at 10:30 am, and one at 1:30 pm with food in between(beginning at about noon). We plan to have the meat covered, but if you would like to bring a side dish or a homemade desert we would welcome your contributions to the meal!

In the event of rain we will reschedule. Bring your walking shoes, your sunscreen, your folding chair if you have one, and we look forward to seeing all who can make it! Please RSVP by emailing us at so we have an idea of how how much food we’ll need to cook. We'll provide you with directions when your RSVP.

We look forward to seeing you at the farm.

Andrea and Cody Cody Hopkins

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May 8, 2011

Mabel's Yogurt

HB here with a delirsh yogurt recipe for all you foodies out there:

Mabel's Yogurt

1 gallon milk
2 tablespoons plain gelatin
1 cup cold water
1 cup sugar, I've used muscavado or maple syrup (sugar is not necessary unless you like things to taste good, just kidding! It's really fine without any sweetener)
1-2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup good quality yogurt (I've used Stonyfield Farms whole milk yogurt)

Heat milk in large pot on stove top to 180 degrees. Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup cold water. Put gelatin, sugar and vanilla in hot milk. Place pot filled with hot milk in sink filled with ice cold water. When the milk, cools to 130 degrees, mix in yogurt. Pour into jars. Put the jars in an ice chest with 2 (2 quart) jars filled with hot water. Put a heavy towel over the jars before closing the lid of the ice chest. Keep in for 5-6 hours. Refrigerate.

I've made this a few times now. The first time took a bit longer than subsequent times, but it is more than worth it for nutritious and inexpensive yogurt. I like this recipe because using gelatin causes the yogurt to be very thick, which is essential for my twin 3 year olds. :) Less messy yogurt = happy mama. Enjoy!!

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May 7, 2011

Farmers Market Fun

Sheldon & Joy
It's a BIG deal when I bring home soda; it rarely happens. Last week I stopped to talk with Sheldon Sturtevant of Cedar Rock Acres about his sold-out homemade soda at the Argenta Farmers Market.  He and his wife, Joy, make it from strawberries grown on their farm.  Currently they are selling strawberries and many kinds of jams.  In the summer you'll find veggies at their booth. This week I got to the market before they sold out of soda.  My six-year old was beyond excited.
this is his excited look

After taking the Sturtevant's picture, Sheldon handed me his card.  I thought his slogan was quite witty: If you don't get it local, you just don't get it.
Also at Argenta - for the first time this week - was Indian Bayou Milling Co.  I bought some freshly milled, Arkansas grown, brown jasmine rice.
After my quick stop at Argenta, I went to check out the Hillcrest Farmers Market, in front of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church on Kavanaugh.  It was hoppin.'

It was a gorgeous day.  I hope you were out supporting our local farmers, too.

If you've missed previous spotlights on local farmers, click here to meet more.

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May 4, 2011

Book Recommendation: The Dirty Life

The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and LoveI love to read.  Being the mother of two small children, as well as obsessed about real food, doesn't afford much leisure time.  Here and there, however, I'm able to snatch a moment or two and carry my thoughts to a far away place. 

Recently I finished The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love.  You can read more polished reviews on Amazon but if you're interested in sustainable living, like the idea of eating locally, all the while loving the comforts of the city, this book could interest you.

Author Kristin Kimball, ivy-league graduate and NYC journalist, found herself interviewing a farmer and fell in love - at first sight.  She tossed her big-city living to the wind and jumped feet first into living off the land.

If you're looking for a fun book to read this summer, this one I recommend.  I borrowed it from the library. See also Valerie's list of books for real food lovers - they're all in the Central Arkansas Library System now.

this is a part of Real Food Wednesday.

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May 2, 2011

Baby's First Foods: Almost One Year

In less than a week, she will be a year old.  I can hardly believe it.

Last week she let it be known that she wanted to feed herself!  So here's a list of what she's eating:

finger foods
- steamed carrots
- frozen peas, thawed (super easy snack)
- chunks of bananas and roasted sweet potatoes
- caramelized onions
- bits of pastured chicken
- pastured egg yolk
- raw cheese
- strawberries

Her favorites?  Big people food.

- raw milk, learning to drink from a cup
- soaked whole wheat bread with lots of butter
- red beans and rice - loves this
- Indian Curry with soaked brown rice
- fish (cod) cakes with dill sauce
- quinoa, swiss chard, and feta
- ginger glazed mahi mahi
- innards from a beef and bean burrito
- almost anything the big people are eating.


Linked with Sarah the Healthy Home Economist and Monday Mania.

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