Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roasted Chestnuts

In keeping with the simplistic nature of recent recipes, (it has gotten a little busy around here) roasted chestnuts are not only wonderfully easy, but bring us even closer to the uncomplicated pleasures of seasonal eating. The sweet meat of a chestnut makes me think of all the snow doused woodland creatures and their assumed delight upon finding such a treat scattered beneath a sprawling tree; quite a generous find.
Chestnuts (once also referred to as the "bread tree") are part of the same family as the oak and beech. The nut itself is so starchy and sweet, it has been widely used dried and milled into flour. Excellent for stuffing fowl and poultry, chestnuts are also commonly used to thicken soups, stews and sauces or featured in a special dessert. The flour can be made into cakes, pastas, breads and fritters, highlighting the nut's delicate flavor.
A Swiss man often sets up a stand outside my local grocery store peddling freshly roasted chestnuts this time of year. The smell and warmth of his stall almost always wins me over. A couple of dollars and he will fill a paper cone with the steaming nuggets, a perfect treat for a cold winter day. As I peel them open, still warm, and pop them one by one into my mouth, I believe I may be doing something fairly timeless as well as universal.
Chestnut trees are found across the globe from Asia to Europe, North America to New Zealand. The nuts are used differently from region to region, yet I believe eating them roasted and straight out of the hull is a good as it gets.

Roasted Chestnuts:
*A bag of ripe chestnuts (press the outer hull between your fingers. If there seems to be a bit of space between hull and meat, the starches have begun to convert into sugars, making them prime for roasting).

Preheat oven to 425.
Wash chestnuts. Towel dry.
Score a shallow x into one side of each chestnut to allow steam to escape while roasting. Arrange chestnuts x side up on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before peeling away skin and enjoying by the fire.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Figs

A few days of fat snowflakes swirling in the air has landed me smack dab in the center of the holiday spirit. The tree is up and strung with lights, and the dog has been happily snoring by the wood stove. A good day to be in the kitchen. Unlike many other sweet holiday treats, these simple chocolate dipped figs only require about 15 minutes in the kitchen, so you are left with plenty of time to wrap gifts or take a brisk walk. Great as a simple gift or a quick, yet elegant option to bring to your next party.

Chocolate Dipped Figs:
*15 'unsulphured' dried figs
*4 oz high quality extra dark chocolate (70% or 80%)

Divide chocolate into small pieces. Place in a double boiler or a small metal bowl set over a small saucepan filled 1/4 with water. Bring water to a boil. Allow chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber scraper.
Remove from heat.
Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Working with one fig at a time, hold stem end and plunge into melted chocolate, rotating to coat bottom third of the fruit. Allow excess chocolate to drip into bowl before placing on the parchment. Repeat with remaining figs. Chill until chocolate hardens, about 5 minutes. (I placed them outside briefly, this did the trick).

This recipe works well with most all kinds of dried fruit. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Caviar. . . A Closer Look

A short article appeared in this month's SAVEUR on the subject of caviar, and I have never wanted to jump right into a photo more than this one. The shiny black eggs nestled in their stylish little tin look almost as if they could jump right off the page and straight into my mouth. The article got me thinking more about this often unattainable food, and its notorious questionable practices in harvesting. The beluga, sevruga and osetra sturgeon numbers dangerously declined by overfishing and poaching due to the high price set upon their eggs. For a time, eating traditional caviar was right up there with wearing a mink or leopard fur trench. Fortunately, caviar harvesting became strictly limited, and eventually numbers rebounded. During this time, the demand for caviar remained, forcing the industry to look elsewhere for alternative sources.
Nowadays, it is common to find trout and salmon caviar, among many others in specialty stores and by mail order. This is a good thing, because large oceanic creatures such as sturgeon, need ample time and opportunity to reach maturity, while other fish reproduce much more prolifically. However, true caviar connoisseurs do not care for substitutes. This is why aquaculture is being praised for producing a more sustainable version of traditional caviar.
According to the article, a little town called Calvisano, located between Venice and Milan, is known for Agroittica Lombarda, one of the most abundant caviar farms in the world. Raising white sturgeon since the 1980's, (and now osetra and beluga) using a continuous supply of fresh groundwater, their caviar is renowned for purity and taste. Although the industry will always struggle to keep harvesting practices balanced, places like Agroittica Lombarda are setting a fine example of how alternative farming methods, when mindfully operated, can sometimes reign supreme.
While the price for true caviar still remains high, (an ounce of Calvisius white sturgeon caviar sells for $61, the osetra for $89 an ounce), there are times when indulgence also has its benefits.
An excellent source of calcium and phosphorus, caviar also contains protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, and selenium. Vitamins include: B12, B2, B6, B44, C, A and D, as well as a whole host of important amino acids and precious Omega-3 fatty acids. Another perk; all of these benefits are gained from small portions. A little bit of caviar goes a long way nutritionally speaking.
I am not one to go overboard on frivolous food items, but all things considered, I may be putting in a special request to Santa Claus this year, with perhaps a mother-of-peal spoon to go alongside.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lemon Turkey and Rice Soup

I look forward to this post-Thanksgiving soup almost as much as all the special dishes prepared for the holiday itself. I have fond memories of my mother picking all the leftover meat off the turkey and starting the bones to simmer in a large pot on the stove, while the last dishes were washed and second rounds of pumpkin pie were lazily served.
This soup also reminds me of my favorite Greek restaurant in Vienna, Virginia called Scorpios. We were devout customers originally introduced to the authentic fare by my Aunt Charlene who seemed to have an uncanny knowledge of where to take her hungry nieces and nephews when visiting. Scorpios' lemon chicken and orzo soup could bring one back from the dead. Its broth was rich and bright with citrus and herbs, and gently filling with the tender chicken and orzo. I will never forget it.
What I like most about this soup is how easy it is to throw together after the sweat and tears of Thanksgiving prep. After the bones simmer all day, producing the gelatin rich stock, just add turkey scraps, celery, carrots, herbs, lots of lemon and cooked brown rice. A bowlful soothes and satisfies without the heaviness of days prior. And it freezes well too, allowing you to thaw, sip, and reminisce on another blessed holiday past.

Lemon Turkey and Rice Soup: (serves 8-10)
*1 turkey carcass (preferably free-range/grass fed. This one came from East Fork Farm)
*2 lemons
*4 celery stalks, sliced
*5 carrots, sliced
*2 bay leaves
*1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
*sea salt and pepper
*leftover roasted turkey meat, shredded (white and dark)
*1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
*3 cups soaked and cooked brown rice
*3 Tbsp unsalted butter

Place turkey carcass and stray bones in a very large soup pot filled 3/4 full with cool water. Add 2 Tbsp white vinegar and 1 lemon cut into wedges.
Simmer for 4-6 hours. Strain into a large bowl. Cool and/or refrigerate. Skim most fat from top of stock.

Return about 14 cups of the stock to the washed soup pot. Add carrots, celery, bay leaves, and turkey. Season with sea salt and pepper. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Add oregano. Continue to cook until broth reaches desired depth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add juice and zest from half of second lemon, parsley and rice. Add more lemon and zest to taste. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Allow to cool slightly before ladling into bowls and serving.

*This post was graciously featured in the December 2010 issue of Plant Healer Magazine, a journal of traditional Western Herbalism.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November Lettuce

Brisk nights and a fair share of frost has not kept our garden from cranking out some of the best salad of the year. Speckled bib, buttercrunch, bronze arrowhead, Amish deer tongue, forellenschuss, green oakleaf, Rouge d'Hiver, arugula, cilantro, mustard greens, flat leaf Italian parsley, endive, Russian kale, collards. . . what else am I forgetting?
Anyway, the cool weather has sweetened and crisped the gorgeous array of leaves, and provided us with highly satisfying salad all season long.
I like to keep a jar of homemade grainy mustard vinaigrette handy at all times, sweetened with just a touch of local honey. Roasted sesame seeds are a nice addition as well. Other than that, the flavor of fall is fully present without any doctoring up. In fact, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt is one of my favorite ways to dress a bowlful of garden greens.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Note to My Politicians

Hear me now:
Your pursuit for safety is as false as your concern for our health.
While you shake hands and lie in bed with chemical producers
and drug distributors
you cry out in the name of food safety,
to pasteurize, bleach, boil, package and inject
everything which passes our lips.
You can't serve it raw
because it is too dirty and dead.
You have never worked in real soil.
You have never washed earth off your food before preparing it.
You have never shaken sleepy bees from dewy blooms early in the day.
You are afraid of people who eat from their garden,
because their minds
are still their own.
Kill the small farmer.
Then sell us drugs
and flu shots.
Give us antidepressants.
Tell us to wear sunscreen and never go out into the sun.
Eat from a bag
or box
that's sealed and clean.

No I won't vote for this.
I have cast a different ballot,
and it is waiting at the end of my fork,
seared rare,
and dripping with unpasteurized cream sauce.
My hens will continue to lay warm eggs right into my fry pan
without your permission first.
I will give what little is left of the diminishing American dollar to my neighbor
in exchange for pastured pork
and raw milk.
I will spend time collecting seeds.
I will use butter liberally.
I will go out in the morning to harvest.
I will not drink your corn syrup.
I do not want your sterilized meat.
I don't want your drive-thrus and chains.
In the name of all that is patriotic,
I will drink milk straight from the happy cow.
Keep your red #40,
your food safety modernization act,
your myths.
Smoke your cigars and drink your scotch.
Sign your papers.
Your "safe" food
is a life lived behind bars.
If this is safety
keep it.
What you need
is some real food
my dear,
fear ridden
What you need
you will find
in raw milk cheddar
melted over homemade sourdough.
What you need
waits at the bottom
of a tall glass
brimming with handcrafted beer.
You will find peace
in slow roasted root vegetables,
dipping your crisp
pastured bacon
into your poached fresh egg.
Slurp a raw oyster
fresh from the sea.
Pass the butter.
Smell the herbs.
Drizzle the honey.
Break the bread.
I welcome you
to my renegade table,
my hungry politician.
But be prepared
to become
by the light.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Believe it or not, kiwifruit (originally known as Chinese gooseberry, native to Southern China) is both locally grown and seasonally available right now in Western North Carolina. A sweet couple from Little Sandy Mush have two very old vines which happened to do very well this year. They explained to me how kiwifruits are picky and conditions have to be just right to produce.
Lucky for many of us, they were willing to bring their harvest down from the mountain to share.

Kiwis have a lot going for them health wise. Not only do they contain good amounts of vitamin C and potassium (almost equivalent to a banana), they also contain fat-soluble vitamins E and A. The oil present in the seeds contains an an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid.
Due to the presence of vitamin E and this omega-3 fatty acid, kiwifruits are thought to have blood thinning potential. A study conducted by the University of Oslo in Norway showed similarities between aspirin and the consumption of kiwifruit in reducing platelet aggregation and blood triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of blood clots.
Yet another reason to eat seasonally as a means of broadening our bodies' exposure to the health giving properties of various foods available throughout the year.

Personally, I have always enjoyed slicing through the delicate hairy skin of a kiwi to revel the most vibrant shade of green fruit patterned with shiny little black seeds. The taste used to remind me of far off tropical places where I imagined them growing alongside pineapples and papayas with toucans soaring overhead. Now the taste of a ripe kiwi once again reminds me of all the limitless bounty found in this special region I fondly call home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vanilla Custard

Yes, the custard was sampled before it was chilled. It was sitting there, cooling in the water bath. . . staring. Still warm and a little thinner than the finished product, every bite was worth the breach in patience. It tasted like Christmas. Sweetened with sourwood honey, and spiced with freshly grated nutmeg, I was reminded of something between eggnog and crème brûlée. Though not as fussy as crème brûlée (no torch needed), and fairly simple to make, custard to me, represents the perfect comfort food. Creamy, velvety, and not too sweet, this is bliss on a spoon.
Raw Jersey milk and eggs from the coop out back leave little to improve upon.

Vanilla Custard: Serves about 6
*4 cups raw whole milk
*4 free range eggs
*4 egg yolks
*1/2 cup raw honey
*2 tsp vanilla extract
*freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 300. Place 6-8 oven safe ceramic cups or mugs in a large roasting pan. Set aside.
Bring milk to a gentle simmer in a medium sized pot. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Once milk is hot, whisk in the honey and nutmeg. Slowly begin whisking the egg mixture into the simmering milk. Remove from heat.
Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium sized mixing bowl. You may need to scrape the strainer with a spoon to help liquid pass through.
Divide the strained custard mixture into ceramic cups. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of cups.
Carefully transfer pan to oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until custard is set.
Allow cups to sit in the water bath until cool enough to handle. Chill completely before serving.

Sprinkle each custard with additional nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goat Curry

Back in the Spring, I had a very nice conversation with Walter from Imladris Farm on the subject of goats. I recalled my dealings with goats in the past, one in particular who always got his head stuck in the fence, and I seemed to constantly be prying him loose. Walter smiled and nodded knowingly.
Thing is, goats are great for many things. Yes, they can get themselves into dilemmas easily, but they work wonders clearing land for pasture, and certain breeds produce some of the creamiest milk around. They are also good for eating. Not being picky eaters themselves, goats are able to turn a diet of pasture, twigs and forage into very palatable meat.
Walter recently brought his harvest to market where I was waiting with open arms.
After marinating the pieces of meat in lime and spices, they were ready for a slow simmer in coconut milk and curry. This was a memorable dish. Slow food in its prime.

Goat Curry:
*1 pound goat stew meat
*1 lime
*3-4 tsp Indian curry powder
*black pepper
*2 Tbsp butter
*1 large sweet onion, sliced
*3 garlic cloves, minced
*3 celery stalks, chopped
*3 medium gold potatoes, cut into chunks
*13.5 oz coconut milk (or one can)
*13.5 oz water or stock
*sea salt
*1 large crown locally grown broccoli, chopped
*cilantro for garnish (if you still have it in your garden)

Rinse and dry goat meat. Place in a medium bowl. Squeeze juice from half of the lime over meat. Add 1 tsp curry powder, some sea salt and pepper, and gently toss with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for 2-6 hours (or overnight).
Place a heavy pot over medium heat. Sear goat meat until well browned. Add the butter, onion, potatoes and celery. Stir. Then add the garlic and remaining curry powder. Allow to cook for about five minutes stirring often before pouring in the coconut milk and water. Stir. Season with sea salt and pepper. Bring liquid to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Add the broccoli and remaining lime juice, plus the zest from one half a lime about 10 minutes before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more curry if necessary. Top with fresh garden cilantro.
Serve over well soaked and cooked brown rice.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Herbed Chèvre and Oyster Mushroom Tart with Almond Crust

Almond flour is a perfect compliment to local chèvre blended with fresh herbs, caramelized onions, and sauteed oyster mushrooms. Spot on for your next party or served as a light meal with fresh tossed greens.
Though I find almond flour tastes wonderful, (nutty and light), it will crumb far more than a typical pasty crust made with wheat, due to the absence of gluten. Baking the crust until very golden, and using a very sharp knife when slicing will help reduce crumb. If all else fails, grab a fork and don't worry about structure. This is not a dwelling and doesn't need to hold up against hurricane force winds. All it needs to do is make it onto a clean little plate and into your mouth, one way or another.

Almond Crust:
*2 cups almond flour
*1/2 tsp sea salt
*4 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
*1 egg yolk (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.
Pulse almond flour and salt in a food processor. Add the chilled butter and egg yolk. Blend briefly. Press enough mixture into a 8 inch tart pan (fitted with a loose bottom) to create a 1/4 inch layer. Pierce crust with a fork in several places and bake until golden, about 7 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool completely on a wire baking rack.

*5 oz plain locally crafted chèvre
*1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
*1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
*sea salt and pepper to taste
*1 large sweet onion
*3 Tbsp butter
*1 1/2 cups oyster mushrooms

Place 2 Tbsp butter in a small cast iron pan over med low heat. Add onions. Slowly saute until browned and aromatic, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan, transfer to a plate, and allow to cool. Place remaining Tbsp butter in same pan. Saute the oyster mushrooms until lightly browned and tender, tossing halfway through.
Allow to cool.

Mix chèvre, herbs, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread evenly over base of crust. Layer the onions over cheese mixture, followed by the oyster mushrooms. Sprinkle with extra thyme.
Gently remove tart from pan. Slice with a very sharp knife and serve.

Note: Tart can be made in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled until ready to serve.

*Oyster mushrooms contain high levels of protein, vitamin B complex, and C as well as iron, phosphorous, potassium and calcium. They also contain important trace minerals needed for human health. The vitamin B3 in oysters is notably higher than any other vegetable.
Medicinal and cholesterol lowering properties are also associated with eating oyster mushrooms.
Thanks to Carol at Myco Gardens for growing the most incredible mushrooms around!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Salmon Croquettes

On the rare occasion when leftovers from the previous evening's grilled wild caught salmon remain, don't worry. Gently flake the deeply hued pieces of fillet (separating the flesh from the skin), mix with fresh rosemary, a whisked egg, homemade mayo, bread crumbs, grainy mustard, sea salt and pepper. Form the mixture into patties and pan fry in butter. Serve with skillet home fries.
A breakfast of champions!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I love how the French can make the grittiest things sound distinguished. Pâté for instance, seems to hold a special sophisticated allure, as does caviar, the exclusive food of the rich and famous. Comparatively, chicken liver paste and fish eggs tend to conjure up a very different mental image. This is why such dishes are generally referred to by their French title. Truth is, some of the most important foods may be written off entirely by our backward modern assumptions without the help of French terminology.
Fish roe and organ meats have been prized for their nutritional profiles for centuries. Across the globe, men and women of childbearing age were encouraged among most tribes to partake in such foods to ensure the following generation a healthy future.
Pâté, with its nutrient rich base of grass-fed chicken livers, is as important of an addition to the modern diet as it was to primitive groups. In fact, almost all carnivorous mammals begin with the nutrient dense organs of an animal, moving on to the flesh and muscle only after polishing off the offal first.
As the days become increasingly shorter this time of year, supplementation with vitamin rich foods will go a long way in warding off the cold weather blues. The French were right to give pâté its suave name. It is a dish both decadent and vital.
I like to whip up a batch, divide it into a few ceramic crocks and place the extra in the freezer. This works out well for last minute parties and moments when a piece of sourdough baguette appears lonely.

I have featured a recipe for lamb liver pâté previously, however, chicken livers are milder, making them prime for pâté beginners. Bon Appétit!

Chicken Liver Pâté: (Adapted from Nourishing Traditions' Original Recipe)
*3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
*1 pound livers from grass-fed free range chickens and/or ducks
*1/2 pound of your favorite mushrooms, rinsed, dried and chopped
*1 medium sweet onion, chopped
*2/3 cup dry white wine
*1-2 garlic cloves, minced
*1 Tbsp grainy mustard
*1/2 tsp dill, chopped
*1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
*sea salt and pepper to taste
*1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
*4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

Rinse livers well. Place butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms and livers. Occasionally stir and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the wine, garlic, mustard, herbs and lemon juice. Simmer until all liquid is gone. Season with sea salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
Blend everything in a food processor with remaining 4 Tbsp. butter. Spoon into ceramic dishes or crocks and chill completely.
Spread on sourdough toasts or thinly sliced baguette. Pairs well with assorted olives and mustards, caramelized onions and tart pickles.

Liver Pâté Nutritional Property List:
B Vitamins:
B9 or
folic acid
Fat Soluble Vitamins:
and essential fatty acids

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wild Persimmons

During a brisk walk the other afternoon, I made a point to stroll by the little persimmon tree on the corner. Sure enough, the ripe globes were in the midst of dropping to the ground. I wrapped my arm around the tree's modestly sized trunk and gave it a hearty pull. Only slightly did this have an effect on the branches above, but I kept at it and soon encouraged a few extra persimmons into my willing arms. Although the commercial
cultivars are prized for their size and durability, wild persimmons are special for the opposite reason. After a few frosty evenings they become sweet, though fragile, and are best eaten on the spot. If sampled before its narrow moment of ripeness, a persimmon can be an unlucky attempt at discovering the bliss offered by wild edibles. But, when the fruits are tender and almost so soft they squish in your hand, they are a treat beyond words. All matter of woodland creatures enjoy a perfectly ripe persimmon equally as much as the lucky passerby, such as myself.
Persimmons have a long history in this area. Indians used to mash the sweet pulp and spread it evenly over a peeled log to dry slowly in the sun. Afterwards, they had what was known as "persimmon leather" which proved to be highly stable, its stability increasing as smoke from cooking and fires additionally cured the hanging strips. The method of drying preserved the sweetness of the fruit, unlike cooking which tends to allow the astringent quality (unique to persimmons), to surface.
Like many wild gifts such as these, a ripe persimmon's moment is brief, yet the opportunity to sample one is worthy of keeping close tabs on the generous gift-giving trees.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Local Lamb Sirloin Chops with Parsley Pesto

Like I have said so very many times before, every morsel from East Fork Farm is downright dreamy. This evening, tender lamb sirloin chops were enjoyed smothered in a perfect parsley sauce fresh from the garden. Accompaniments included; roasted sweet potatoes tugged from the soil just 50 yards from the dinner table, smeared with delicious whole milk ricotta, and organic red wine for sipping. It's good to be alive.

Lamb Sirloin Chops:
*2-4 pasture raised lamb sirloin chops
*sea salt

Bring coals of a charcoal grill to moderate heat, or place a grill pan over medium heat. Coat grill rack or pan with butter. Rinse lamb chops. Pat dry with paper towels. Liberally coat each side of chop with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Place on hot grill, turning once halfway through, about 3 minutes per side (time will vary depending on thickness of chops). Sear to medium rare, being careful not to overcook. Allow to rest.

Parsley Pesto:
*3 cups loosely packed fresh Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
*2 cloves garlic
*sea salt
*extra virgin olive oil

Blend parsley with garlic, sea salt and pepper in a food processor. With blade running, slowly add olive oil until desired consistency. Spoon over whole or sliced chops.

Toast to the hard workers of your local farms, who's tedious labors produce the opportunity for meals such as these.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good Food Reads

If your eyes are gazing upon these words, most likely you've arrived at them because you are a food lover. In between this reading material and others, I would love to suggest some of my favorites:

First and foremost, if you have a passion for real food and its limitless good news for lasting health and eating pleasure, become a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation to receive their quarterly journal "Wise Traditions." It is priceless material. For science majors, agricultural devotees, family planners and lay readers alike. From cover to cover, I always learn something new, and am encouraged to keep a firm grasp on personal health by way of traditional eating.

Second, explore cookbooks. There is a vast world of material published by individuals passionate about food. My favorites include: Nourishing Traditions, The Silver Palate, The New Basics, Extending the Table, The More With Less Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and anything random or vintage.

Third, subscribe to SAVEUR. It is fabulous.

Finally, recipes from grandmothers are as good as it gets. I cherish the hand written tablet scribbled with my grandmother-in-law's recipes for homemade pickles to sweet potato pie.

Collect, browse, dogear pages, highlight, and begin a signature recipe box. Cooking real food at home instantly bonds us with generations past, strengthens family ties, and above all else, nourishes health each savory bite at a time.


Monday, November 1, 2010

A Few Pretty Things

My husband holding a large bowl of our fall garden greens and freshly tugged radishes

Pears from this weekend's farmer's market. The entire hefty crop came from one old 50 foot tree

A man on the street handed me this rose he'd crafted from reeds as I dashed to my car in the pouring rain.

The freshest, most succulent cabbage in the universe, purchased from Full Sun Farm

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nourished Kitchen's Homemade Yogurt and Spelt Crackers

This recipe comes from Nourished Kitchen (one of the most righteous food blogs in all of cyberspace), and quickly became a new favorite. The method is special in how the flour is mixed with yogurt and soured overnight to improve digestibility, nutrient density and flavor. The result is a deeply flavorful cracker, with buttery, nutty quality.
Ruminant animals who primarily live off of grasses (and grass seeds/grains) have the advantage of multi-chamber stomachs to help break down the anti-nutrients found in these foods. Us humans however, must use our large brains (in proportion to these animals) to carefully prepare grains instead, to avoid compromised digestion.
As discussed in the original recipe, soaking and souring of grains, legumes and seeds provides an environment similar to the first stage of digestion, allowing the properties which hinder nutritional absorption (like phytic acid) to be released prior to eating. Proper souring also provides an environment for friendly bacteria to multiply. This is why sour leavened breads and fermented foods are highly regarded for their superior nutritional quality.

I used homemade kefir in place of yogurt which proved to be a lovely substitute, and I allowed the dough to rest for the full 24 hours. These crackers are so good, they will literally fly off the baking sheet. Heavenly with slices of aged, grass-fed raw milk cheddar.
For the complete recipe, visit the original post by Jenny at Nourished Kitchen. You will be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Applewood Smoked Barbecue Ribs

If you've ever wondered what the Neanderthals were thinking as they gnawed on the meaty portion of a woolly mammoth rib, you are not alone. I figured it out the other night. They were thinking about barbecue sauce. Sweet, smokey, spicy and absolutely perfect. My only hope is that as they thought about it, their ignorance served as some type of bliss, because once you've braised grass-fed ribs in homemade stock and garden tomatoes, smoked them over applewood chips, and slathered them with this slowly simmered sauce, you will feel remorse for all who have never had the experience.

A few tips:
1. You may want to place a straw in your wine, because once you pick up a rib, you will not be able touch a hard surfaced vessel without a scene.
2. Wear a dark colored shirt or a slicker.
3. A die hard fan of cloth napkins for every meal, place a roll of unbleached paper towels in the center of the table for this meal.
4. Toast to the cave men and women who could only dream of such an experience.

This meal was put on by my friend Donna. I fell in love with her barbecue sauce. She granted me permission to pass it on to my lovely readers. Hang onto this one. . .

Donna's Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce:
*1 Tbsp. Ume plum vinegar
*3 cups unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider
*1 Tbsp. tamari
*4 Tbsp. sorghum syrup, honey or molasses
*1 tsp. red pepper flakes
*1 1/2 Tbsp grainy mustard
*1/4 tsp. cumin
*1/4 tsp. ground ginger
*2 garlic cloves, pressed
*1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder

Begin sauce as the ribs are near the end of braising. Allow 45 minutes to 1 hour for reducing.

Place all ingredients in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Allow to very gently simmer until reduced by half, and liquid becomes thick and sweet.

Applewood Smoked Ribs:
*3-4 pounds grass fed beef ribs (this would also work well with bison or pastured pork)
*sea salt and pepper for searing
*4 cups grass fed beef stock
*5 whole Roma or other small tomatoes
*1 chopped onion
*3 cloves garlic, whole
*2-3 cups applewood chips

Rinse and pat dry the ribs. Season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Sear each side of each rib in a heavy pot or skillet over medium heat to lock in the juices. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 275.
Place stock, tomatoes, chopped onion and garlic in a large roasting pan. Arrange the seared ribs in the liquid. Slow roast for 5-6 hours.

Meanwhile, soak applewood chips in a bucket filled with cool water.

Toward the end of roasting, start bed of charcoal. Remove ribs from oven. Once coals are glowing, place drained chips over coals to one side of grill. Place rack over top. Arrange ribs on rack, cover and smoke for about 1 hour.
Using a basting brush, begin coating ribs for last 15 minutes of smoking with the barbecue sauce. Remove from grill. Allow to rest before serving.
Place extra sauce in center of serving area.
Braising liquid can be skimmed and ladled over wild rice.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Leek Flamiche

I recently catered a party and thought I would throw this picture on here merely because it is so easy to look at. I have been sworn to secrecy involving recipes, but essentially this is homemade pastry filled with leeks and béchamel, baked on a hot stone.

Monday, October 25, 2010


The season begins. . .



Mammoth Sunflower



Paw Paw

Broom Corn

. . . the same way it ends.