Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Giving Thanks To and For Our Food

It's not Thanksgiving yet here in the U.S., but that doesn't mean we cannot be grateful about food. It's a topic that's been on my mind, as well as my husband's, though today we finally had a conversation about it. I want to bring spirituality back to our kitchen and our table.

Let me start off by saying that I am coming from a Pagan perspective. If that is not yours, that is fine; feel free to read this or not.

At any rate, I believe that Spirit/the Divine runs through all things. Nature is God/dess, all animals and plants are God/dess, and we are God/dess. We are all important in the ecosystem as we all have our roles that we play. As such, I've been thinking that we really need to start saying grace at the table, to give honor for the life and death of the animals and plants that give us nourishment, so that we may continue our lives. We also must give thanks to Mother Earth and Father Sky because without the Mother and Father, our ecosystem wouldn't exist at all; their Divinity permeates everything. We ingest the Divine with every bite. What a gift! We must give our thanks for the sacrifice.

Also, as my husband rightly pointed out, it's not just the animals and plants, but those farmers who work day and night, the butchers who must kill and carve the meat, those who grind the grains; the list goes on. And he also said, he should give thanks to me, or to whoever prepares the meal that goes on the table. I spend a lot of time prepping meals, so this was a nice extra, but really it goes for anyone who cooks.

In my quest for eating ethically and sustainably, I'm appreciating more what FOOD really is. Sacred, fecund and absolutely necessary for survival. FOOD is community as it connects us to everything. So beyond making sure our meat and vegetables are ethically and organically raised, let us continue with the simple act of saying grace.

We thank you for the gift of this food.

We send blessings of peace, love,and release to all whose bodies' energies brought us this nourishment.

We honor you in our enjoyment and utilization of this meal.

May it bring us health and joy, reminding us of our interconnections with all that is.

As we receive, so do we give thanks for this gift.

Taken from the October 7, 2008 post on InkBlot::sharpening my pen

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bangers and Mash!

Before I get to the Bangers and Mash, I wanted to mention that I made the Wine-braised Grass-Fed Steak with Rosemary that is featured on Nourished Kitchen. you can find that recipe here: Oh my GODS, was that divine. We still have leftovers, so you can guess hwat I'll be having for lunch today.

On to the Bangers and Mash...I was inspired the other night as I was flipping through OnDemand. I took a look at a show called 5 Ingredient Fix. I figured either it would be promising or awful, but as it was only 23 minutes and FREE, it would be worth taking a look at least.

I have to say, I was impressed. The gimmick of course is that these dishes all take 5 ingredients, without counting salt, pepper, and water. Claire Robinson is a pleasant Southern gal (just a hint of accent), and she truly seems to love food. So anyway, I was interested to see what her take was on the Gastropub scene. I do love comfort food, and being of (partially) English descent, I feel like this is a new take on what my heritage has to offer. So on that episode, she did her take on Bangers and Mash. For some reason, I had NEVER had it before, but I basically knew what it was. Her take was of course very simple. Here's the link to her recipe:

I thought (and my husband agreed) how great would it be to try it! And the next day, when I picked up my last summer share CSA, I happened to have Savoy cabbage and potatoes. Hence, I went for it.

I did have to make the following changes, based on what I had available. I used Greek lamb sausage, yellow onions, and Grey Poupon (which is not a whole grain mustard). I also made the decision to add butter to the potatoes, but what can I say? I love butter.

I also decided to roast beets and carrots in the oven, with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I felt our dinner needed some color to it, and I had them also in my CSA box, so why not?

My final result is that picture up above. I don't usually make pretty food, but I think I did a good job this time. It sure did taste good, and I can't wait to have leftovers for dinner tonight.

This entry is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesdays.

Monday, October 18, 2010

more on b.good...

I realized that I had never updated my post on b.good. Well, I'm finally doing it, as today I have even more to talk about.

I had posted a comment on their Facebook page that I love them, but that I wish they would stop carrying Coco-Cola products, especially their sodas, as that's not real food, full of HFCS, etc.

It took a couple of days, but they answered me. And it was such an honest answer, too. While I didn't save that answer, the point was that, essentially, they are too scared to alienate their customers. Customers want the Coke, so they carry it. When they feel confident enough to move away from Coke, they will. Apparently, the dd carry some Boylan's soda in their Cambridge store, but it wasn't really selling, so there is some precedent there, I guess.

So now...

I don't go there very often as of late because my train leaves too soon after my last class for me to really sit down and enjoy much. But occasionally I have a few minutes, so I like to get a chocolate shake when I have the chance. But I noticed that they make their shakes with skim milk, which I think is rather silly. If people are watching what they eat, they shouldn't be getting a chocolate shake because of the SUGAR. So I said this on their Facebook page: "I continue to love you guys...One suggestion, though, if you want even less processed food, skip the skim milk in the milkshakes! The fat helps us process the fat-soluble Vitamin D in the milk, and it's much closer to real whole food (except coming straight from a pastured cow, of course)."

If b.good is committed to real whole food, like they say they are, I think this is one small step in that direction! So this is how they replied:
"Good call, Heather. Our quest to make fast-food "real' is definitely an evolution and the more we learn, the more "real" we get. Whole milk has been added to our list of stuff to consider. If and when we add it, we'll have you to thank."

So obviously not a commitment to add whole milk, but at least they'll consider it. And them listening to their consumers like this is FANTASTIC! I hope they continue listening!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GF Meatballs = Yum Yum Yum!

I was really craving meatballs and tomato sauce last night, so I thought I'd share the recipe for today's Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop., found here:

So this is what I did:

1 lb pastured ground beef.
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 torpedo onions, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, choped finely
1 tablespoon of Italian Herb Mix, from Penzey's Spices
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

I mixed all of these ingredients up, formed it into balls, and cooked in olive oil and some tomato sauce. I could have browned them first, but I really wanted the tomato flavor to soak in. The almond meal kept the meatballs from being too sticky, so they kept their shape really nicely! I think it was in the pan for about 12 minutes total, plenty of time to get the pasta cooked!

I'd love to hear some feedback if you try the recipe!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Experiment: Making My Own Whey and Cream Cheese-Part 2

Yesterday I started my experiment making whey and cream cheese. By this morning, the yogurt had defnitely become smaller and more compact, and plenty of why was left in the bowl. jarred up the whey and put the cream cheese in a container. But we also had some of it with our breakfast this morning on our gluten-free toast.

So the big question is, how did it taste?

The cream cheese was sweet and tangy at the same time with a very smooth texture. My husband declared it to be fantastic-he can be a tough cream cheese customer-so I think that's it. I'm going to make my cream cheese from now on, now that I know it's so easy. Aparently, it's supposed to be good for a month, but I highly doubt it'll last that long.

As for the whey, well, I'm making beet kvass, which is a medicinal drink from Russia. I figured since I had the beets, I might as well. I'm sure I'll find some other uses for the whey, but since that will last up to 6 months, I have time to figure out what I'll do with it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Experiment: Making My Own Whey and Cream Cheese-Part 1

I'm still fairly new to the Traditional Foods-style of eating. I've overcome my lingering fears of animal fats by being a stickler for the highest quality of ethical animal products that I can find and afford thus far. Processed foods are farly minimal, but I'd eventually like to take it further. I'm gluten-free, for now anyway, though I'd like to bring wheat back into my diet, albeit on a very limited scale, and then either my grains will be sprouted or soured.

But there are a few sectors of TF eating that I have yet to embrace. One of them is the world of lactofermentation. But why would I want to do this? We're coming into the colder season, and whey, the main agent here, is a preservative. It would be great to preserve the remaining harvested vegetables for the winter. Not only that, but lactofermentation encourages the growth of good bacteria and enzymes, as well as increases the sheer amounts of vitamins and minerals in the vegetables. This post from the Lost Arts Kitchen gives a fuller explanation that I can give:

So back to what I'm doing today. I'm starting with the frst step: making whey. The process I'm using is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I have two cups of whole plain yogurt (from Jersey cows, who produce a fattier milk, complete with more protein and calcium) being strained over a colander lined with cheesecloth. After a few hours, I'm going to tie up the cheesecloth in such a way that will drip into a glass bottle. Since I've just started it, I don't know how long this first batch will take, but it could take as long as a day or two. But I'll have whey, which will last up to 6 months in my refrigerator. I'll also have my own cream cheese! Who needs Philly cream cheese when I can make it so easily at home! I can't wait to try it!

Part 2 will come when I'm done making it. see you then!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"You made that with BUTTER? That's why it tastes so good!"

I get this comment a lot, like butter is this decadant ingredient, like it's bad for you or something. We can't eat that all the time, else we get fat and our cholesterol will go up.

When I was trying to go lower fat, I did buy margerine for awhile, though I went for either the Smart Balance or Earth Balance. I often was making vegan dishes, and these were the only alternatives that I knew about. Plus, they don't have hydrogenated oils, so I thought they were okay. And maybe they are...but I'd rather enjoy my butter. It has health benefits that the others just don't, unless these nutrients are added synthetically, which I don't think works as well, honestly.

Good pastured butter (I usually buy Kerrygold or Organic Valley pastured, though I wish I could get local raw butter, which would be even better) is yellow for a reason: Vitamin A. It also will have K2 in it, which helps us utilize vitamins A and D properly. It has CLA, an optimal ratio of Omega3s to just goes on and on. Does it have saturated fat? Yes, but as I've said before, I'm convinced that saturated fat is not a demon. On the contrary, our bodies need it for so many functions, not least of which helping us metabolize fat-soluble vitamins like A and D.

I still cook vegan food from time to time, but instead of using margerine, I use coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil, though I'm not a fan of heating the latter that much. Being a monounsaturated fat, I don't want to destroy it by heating it too much, which would ruin the oil by turning it unwittingly into a trans fat. Coconut oil is much more stable and can take the heat, as it were.

So yes, I will continue to use butter in many of my foods. And not only will it taste really delicious, the butter is actually a health food, so it's not something to be feared or thought of as sinful. (Unless of course, you have dairy intolerances, in which case, ghee might work for you! But that's another post.)

I'm joining Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesdays! You can see it here: