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.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Celery Root Purée

Homely? Yes. But some of the best things come in unsuspecting packaging. Celery root (or celeriac), is one of two fall favorite ingredients of mine. The other is leeks, a vegetable I have been involved in a long standing love affair with. The two go so well together, a dish featuring their combined simplistic pleasure is worth center stage. Perfect as an accompaniment to whole roasted chicken, grass-fed burgers or steak. Enjoy.

Celery Root Purée:
*2 large celery roots
*1 large leek
*2 medium gold potatoes
*3 Tbsp unsalted butter
*1/2 cup raw goat, jersey milk or cream
*1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
*sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
*chopped parsley for garnish

Set a pot filled halfway with cool salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil.
Wash and peel celery roots. Quarter. Trim top of leek, leaving only light green portions. Slice lengthwise. Rinse well, peeling back leaves to remove any dirt. Partially peel potatoes (leaving a little skin if you like).
Drop celery root, leek and potatoes into boiling water. Reduce heat slightly. Cover and simmer until all items are tender.
Strain. Transfer potatoes and celery root to a large mixing bowl. Slightly cool leek and chop into small pieces. Add to bowl with remaining ingredients. Whip with an electric mixer until mostly smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed. Adjust seasonings and serve hot garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sopa de Pescado

The gorgeous speckled trout purchased from Frank (Let It Grow Organic Gardens) at the Saturday tailgate market, insisted on being part of a lovely Fall soup. I'm glad I listened. This was one of the best dishes I've recently sat down to enjoy. While acclimating to the brisk weather, nothing, absolutely nothing, beats a good bowl of hot, brothy, salubrious soup.

Sopa de Pescado:
*4 strips thick cut grass fed bacon, cubed
*1 large leek, (rinsed well, all green parts removed but the first 2 inches), chopped
*1 med onion, chopped
*4-5 medium gold or assorted garden potatoes, cubed
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*2 celery ribs (plus any leaves), chopped
*1-2 garden tomatoes, chopped
*2 bay leaves
*5 cups fish stock (see stock making post)
*1 large sea trout, salmon, cod, haddock or other favorite fish fillet, (bones and skin removed) cut into 2 inch cubes
*1/3 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
*handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
*sea salt and pepper

Place a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until just crispy. Remove from pot using a slotted spoon. Place bacon on a paper towel and set aside.

Pour off all but 2-3 Tbsp of the bacon grease. Return to heat. Reduce to medium low. Add the leek, onion, potatoes, garlic and celery. Cook, occasionally stirring for about 7 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper. (If need be, add a bit of butter to keep sauteing veggies well greased).
Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves. Allow to simmer for about 2 minutes before poring in the stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.

Simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Increase heat just to a low boil. Drop in the fish pieces and cover. Allow to cook about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add parsley and basil. Season with additional salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves.

Ladle into bowls and top with the crispy bacon pieces. Enjoy with thick slices of buttered sourdough toast.

Clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, or octopus pieces would make a great addition to this soup.
For more kick, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
To make this into a chowder, simply add raw milk and cream to your liking.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quince Jam

I have always misunderstood quince. After the magnificent show it puts on in the early spring, it tends to fade into the periphery of a landscape, playing the role of ugly duckling for the remainder of the year. The apple-like fruit may seem tempting in the fall, until a curious nibble proves instantly disagreeable. Rarely are you able to remove it from your landscape without a battle. It's stubborn. Thorny. A borderline menace. Until today.
My neighbors have been diligently landscaping their property, (one similar to our's), full of old-timey plantings in their mature years. The quince on the corner recently received a healthy grooming, and has been winking at me all season, especially as it began dropping its yellow fruit. So, I bit the bullet and asked my neighbor if I could collect some fruit to mess around with. He laughed and kindly told me to take as much as I liked. I filled my hat and came back to the house to look over a few recipes for jam. After reading up, I found that quince used to be in almost every backyard or garden as a hassle free addition to the homemaker's edible landscape. I ended up going back to get more.

The jam turned out to be just lovely; tart and full of that distinct flavor of times long since passed. The taste reminds me of other nearly forgotten pleasures, like sassafras tea and homemade butter.
For this gal, quince will never be the same. After our time together in the kitchen, and its beautiful dance on my tongue, I am proud to call it a friend.

Quince Jam:
*about 6 cups shredded quince (including skins), cored and seeds removed
*4 cups water
*juice from 1 lemon
*zest from one lemon
*3 1/2 cups demerara, rapadura or other form of raw cane sugar
*2 tsp high quality vanilla extract (optional)
*2 cardamom pods, grated (optional)

Wash quince and slice lengthwise in half. Cut away any wormy areas. Grate the fruit to the core. Discard core and seeds.
Place water in a large heavy pot. Bring to a boil. Add the grated quince, lemon juice and zest. Reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes.
Return to a boil and add sugar. Stir. Cook over med-low heat for about 40 minutes. Add the vanilla and cardamom during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Ladle hot jam into sterilized jam jars and fit with sterilized lids. You can skip this process and pack jam in clean jars and store in the fridge. Enjoy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sauteed Pea Shoots with Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette

With frost warnings in full swing, I headed to the garden to harvest those who may not make it through. Though peas hold up well in light frosts, I couldn't resist the tender shoots for this evening's supper. Sauteed in butter, drizzled with a tangy mustard vinaigrette and topped with toasted walnuts; for those of you with fall peas, this recipe is right on time.

Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette:
*1/4 cup high quality white vinegar
*1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*1 garlic clove
*1 heaping Tbsp honey
*1 Tbsp high quality grainy mustard (I used locally crafted Lusty Monk Mustard)
*sea salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Sauteed Pea Shoots:
*1/4 cup walnut pieces
*4-5 cups loosely packed pea shoots (harvest the top 3-4 inches of vine)
*2 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
*1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Toast walnut pieces in toaster oven or in a pan placed over medium heat, stirring often. Set aside.
Place butter in a cast iron pan over medium low heat. Add garlic and saute until aromatic and golden. Add pea shoots. Gently stir to coat in the butter. Allow to wilt before removing from heat, about 1-2 minutes.
Transfer to a serving plate. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toasted walnut pieces. Serve warm.

*Pea shoots are a very high source of plant based vitamin A, vitamin C (an important antioxidant protecting the body from free radicals, great for the immune system this time of year), and folic acid. Eat up!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Local Bison Hump Roast Stew

As the leaves here in Western North Carolina turn from electric green to various shades of gold, plum, peach, auburn and lemon, nothing is more comforting than a hearty stew. Unique only to bison is the special hump roast, beautifully marbled and full of robust flavor. Slow simmered with the bounty of the fleeting season in a traditional clay pot, this dish is best enjoyed nestled in your favorite chair by a window with a view.

Local Bison Hump Roast Stew:
*1 bison hump roast
*sea salt
*cracked black pepper
*1 medium onion, chopped
*2 stalks celery, chopped
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1 1/2 cup tiny garden potatoes, or larger potatoes cut into cubes
*3 garden carrots, chopped
*1 handful flat leaf Italian parsley
*2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
*1 bottle dry red wine
*1 Tbsp arrowroot powder

Preheat oven to 250.
Rinse hump roast and pat dry with paper towels. Liberally coat in sea salt and pepper.

Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat coated with coconut oil. Sear all sides of roast, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place in a clay pot, crock pot, or any roasting pan with a fitted lid.

Surround roast with onion, celery, garlic, potatoes, carrots and parsley. Pour wine over contents. Add bay leaves. Season with additional sea salt and pepper.
Fit dish with a lid and place on center rack of preheated oven. Bake for 6-8 hours or until roast is tender.

If using a crock pot, fit with lit and turn setting to low. Simmer for same amount of time or longer.

Allow contents to cool before skimming excess fat from top of cooking liquid.
Remove roast from pot. Trim away fat. Shred meat into generous pieces with a fork.

Place pot over medium heat. Dissolve arrowroot powder in 1/4 cup cool water. Whisk into roast liquid and vegetables, and heat until thickened. Return shredded roast pieces to pot. Stir.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, ladle into bowls, settle in and enjoy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fresh Cheese

My friend Donna has been making fresh cheese for ages. This go-round I asked to join in. Like so many things which previously seemed complicated, I was surprised at how simple the process is. Separate the curd from the whey, strain, compress or age, and you've got a perfect example of the subtle beauty of mild cheese.
Donna most often makes hers into paneer for Indian inspired dishes. After allowing the excess whey to drain overnight, she slices the disk and fries the pieces in coconut oil before adding them to masterfully spiced spinach for Palak paneer.
Here are simple instructions on making your own. All you need are a few simple kitchen supplies, fresh raw milk, lemon juice and sea salt.

Fresh Cheese:
*1 gallon fresh raw milk
*4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
*sea salt to taste

Line a colander with cheesecloth. Set aside. Pour the milk into a large soup pot and place over medium low heat. Bring to a simmer and immediately remove from heat.

Slowly add the lemon juice, and gently stir. Allow the curds to separate from the whey. This will take about 2 minutes.
Once fully separated, pour contents through cheesecloth. Add sea salt, or any additional flavorings to the curds, such as red pepper flakes, rosemary, cracked pepper or sage.

Twist cheesecloth around the curds (to resemble a package reminiscent of one delivered by a stork), and begin squeezing the curds to remove excess whey.
Flatten the curds within the cheesecloth forming a disk. Wrap disk with edges of the cloth and place on a dinner plate. Place a larger plate underneath, and tip plate with cheese to one side using a small dish cloth, so excess whey may drain onto the larger plate. Weight with an additional plate on top of the cheese to compress.

Place in fridge overnight and enjoy the following day how ever you may please. Excellent for nibbling, melted over sourdough, or used as a star in your favorite Indian dish.

*Whey may be reserved for future recipes, drinking, or if you have pigs, they will welcome it wholeheartedly as a decadent treat.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sweet Sorghum Syrup

Part of the big bluestem and sugar cane tribe, sorghum is known throughout much of the world for its use as an edible grain, in making alcohol (such as the well known maotai of China), and fermented into ethanol for bio-fuel. Here in the WNC region, the old-timey traditional art of making sorghum syrup (or sorghum molasses), is still practiced in some circles. Doubletree Farm of Marshall NC, uses draft horses to operate the farm. Sustainable timber management, artisan wood products, vegetables and sorghum syrup are their specialty.
Only this time of year does the lovely, deeply hued syrup show up at market. Tended over a continuous wood burning fire, the final product is rich, highly sweet and special. Though I often prefer savory over sweet, when the craving strikes, a drizzle of sorghum does the trick.
This evening it landed atop hot skillet cornbread with sweet cream butter. You hear that? It's me, licking every single one of my fingers.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010


As I mess around with the idea of video blogging, I have unearthed a bit of my long lost childhood shyness. So here I am (most of me), in my comfort zone (the kitchen), involved in an activity I am also quite comfortable with, kneading bread dough. I think of this as the ultimate stress relief. In Indian tradition, an individual is not allowed in the kitchen when angry or ill tempered. This stems from the concept of food absorbing energy while being prepared by the cook, and is something I have payed close attention to.
In contrast, I have also found that an ill temper or should I say, "modern crazy mind", can also be righted by being in the kitchen. Working with food, like weeding the garden, gives the brain much needed space to lightly meander and unwind.
In my Health Coaching practice, I often hear the same question: "What can I make that is good for me and takes very little time to prepare?" This one always stumps me, because in essence, what's best for us is taking the time to prioritize preparation and cooking of the food that feeds us. And it would be unwise to think that we are not being fed in another sense during the process.

Bread is this way. I start off thinking, "15 minutes of kneading, humm." But 5 minutes in, I can feel myself decompress. It is during these moments when I realize, we have traded traditional food preparation for empty convenience food items so we can hurry up and sit in the waiting rooms of our doctor's office.

If we can make time to prepare meals thoughtfully, think of all the hours upon hours saved on not visiting our physicians, while we are at home, enjoying gorgeous food.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gaining Ground

Appropriately, the first morning of October was spent stockpiling food. This has been the trend throughout the growing season, (we have had the best "putting up" year yet), though not everything we need can be raised on our acre. One of my favorite vendors from farmer's market recently harvested two of their Devons. So my friend Heidi and I arranged a drive out to Gaining Ground Farm to pick up 100 pounds.
It was a gorgeous morning, brisk and dewy with classic Carolina blue skies stretching in every direction. After being greeted by the chickens, we found that only so many of us could gather around the freezers, so as Aaron and Heidi sorted through the meat, I walked down to the fields where Anne was gathering crops for market.
Cover crops were already in full swing in the fallow fields. The perimeter of heady goldenrod, cornflower and purple aster framed in rows of healthy daikon, bush beans, carrots and flowers, slowly drying their dewdrops in the warming morning sun.

Thanks to Anne and Aaron and their admirable hard work, my freezer is filled to the very brim with the highest quality, pastured beef. It's like being a kid again on Christmas morning, rejoicing in a new exciting stash.
It is a blessed feeling to have so much pure food standing by for months ahead.
Burgers were enjoyed last night with a toast to gaining ground.

Images from the Farm

Assorted peppers


Garlic braids

One of the freezers of beef

Anne harvesting


Produce boxes

Disc plough

My very grateful dog