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