Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Nourishing Gourmet

I'm excited about a new resource online for those of us who want to be able to eat a healthy diet but have budget restraints. Kimi from the popular blog, is offering a 13 week ecourse which teaches you everything from how to shop, to how to cook, to how to save on nourishing food. The ecourse is titled, A Peasant's Feast: Nourishing Food on a Budget.

I just took a look at her "Preview" where she has a nice video where she demonstrates seafood fried rice and REALLY helpful print material. It can be so hard to know what you are looking for to get a good product. What fish is really good for you? There are many that are farmed in a way that is just not safe for regular consumption. The print materials lay it all out in a way that is easy to understand.

Kimi says this about the course:

"In a nutshell, this class will have two purposes. First, to share the basis principles of a nourishing, healthy diet, secondly to share how I do that on a budget. I've found that many people desire to eat well, but feel they can only eat well on a rich man's budget. This ecourse is all about showing how the we can eat good food on a reasonable budget.
This is a thirteen week class (a baker's dozen) discussing extensively what to shop for, how to save, and how to cook. We will be discussing what to buy and how to save on poultry, beef, and seafood. I will be teaching how to sprout, soak grains, and how to make sourdough bread and homemade yogurt. I will teach the students how to stretch one pound of beef into a meal for many, how to stretch one single chicken into several meals, and how to stretch high quality seafood. They will learn how to make their own salad dressings, how to lacto-ferment vegetables, the benefits of making your own chicken broth, and how to menu plan.

By the end, students should have a firm foundation of what to shop for, where to find good local food, and how to prepare it. To read more extensively about what each week will bring go here. Another important part of the ecourse is the forum where people have the ability to both discuss with each other that week's topic, and also interact with me and ask questions. This gives me the opportunity to help trouble shoot any issues they are having."

The course costs less than ten dollars a week for enrollment and she is making payment plans available as well. Don't wait to sign up if you are interested as registration for the class ends June 27th!

Also, Kimi is offering an affiliate program for bloggers helping promote her ecourse which I am part of, so by
buying this product, you will also be supporting my blog through the small commission I make through your purchase!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Waste Not {Apricots}

I am happy to say that I had the opportunity to move around 1000 pounds of local, organic, tasty apricots a few weeks ago. I am learning so much about farming and how the business really works. Items come into season slowly and go out quickly just as they hit their peak. The Backyard Farmer is a company that I use to get high quality fresh produce delivered. The owner works with many local farms to offer a good variety of fruits and vegetable. It has been a privilege to get advice on growing my own garden, sample some interesting varieties (Armenian cucumbers, yard beans) and most of all, unload his excess.

When apricot season came to an end, one of the farmers The Backyard Farmer works with gave him permission to clean off his trees. The fruit so abundant and ripe, it was attracting birds, which deteriorates its quality. Sorting the fruit simply took too much time for it to be worth selling. After a full day of pro bono work, the waste was reduced by about half. Even thought it was grueling and unprofitable, The Backyard Farmer, with his heart of gold is talking about doing it again at the end of peach season, which is soon., I have my fingers crossed.

If you are in the area of Mesa, AZ, get on my Local Finds email list to get notified of all the good deals I am finding in my area. And if you have ordered from The Backyard Farmer, leave a comment with your most favorite item he has brought to your door. Or email me for his latest order form and leave a comment with the item you are most excited to receive.

It was intoxicating to spend days with those apricots, pumping out some glorious treats from my kitchen. Of coarse we at ourselves sick, with enough apricots to account for our lunch. Next, I froze some on a sheet pan and later bagged them to have them handy for smoothies, ice cream and future desires. I made around 30 pints of apricot-honey jam using Pomona’s Pectin. I did a simple cooked sauce with pureed apricots and honey to taste for pancakes and crepes, then thickened some with arrowroot powder and used it in the center of some breakfast rolls. My favorite thing to do when I have an abundance of ripe fruit is fruit leather and apricots make the best fruit leather.

Too simple, I verbally repeated this “recipe” to almost everyone who came to my door that apricot-y day.

Fruit Leather
8 cups fruit puree
1/3 cup honey

Combine fruit and honey in a large blender. Pour about 2 cups onto a silicone baking mat or plastic wrap lined half sheet pan. Spread mixture evenly to about ½ inch from the sides. Set out in the scorching hot sun for a full day or dehydrate per dehydrator instructions or until just tacky to the touch. Peel off of the fruit and cut or store whole rolled up in parchment paper. I like to trim the edges, which store in a separate bag and eat first. You could cover you pan’s with cheese cloth while they are outside, just be careful that the cloth doesn’t touch the puree. I leave it uncovered and just pick out the little leaves that get stuck in it from the wind. It really doesn’t have to be scorching hot, it just may take longer of it is below 85 degrees, and will not work if it is very humid.

This post is part of GNOWFGLINS Tuesday Twister and Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday's

Friday, June 18, 2010

Garden Journal 2010 {Tomatoes}

THE high value crop of the backyard garden, bursting with red, juicy flavor. High value, not only because of yield, but because the quality is undeniably over the top compared to store bought specimens. Tomatoes rarely go on sale either, which also adds to their value in the garden.

This is my first year of enjoying mostly success. The past has been full of disease, low yields, broken vines and sour fruit. I have learned a ton about pruning, vertical growing, aphids and watering. This year I stuck to just a few of the basics; cherry (sweet 100’s), grape, beefsteak and roma’s.

My cherry and grape tomatoes have taken off, reaching 10 feet high and still growing. Though the bottom foliage is browning badly, the tops are healthy and the production is abundant. The grapes are large, looking more like baby romas. The cherries are not my favorite in flavor, probably will not grow them next year. Plenty for snacking, roasting for pastas and giving away. I am going to try this recipe soon too, looks like a good one to freeze and have on hand for easy meals.

Beefsteaks were not as successful. I only averaged 4 per plant and not looking too promising for a future crop. I am sure the aphids hurt things, as well a watering issue I had earlier in the season that lead to the tops cracking on every single beefsteak. Beefsteaks do not grow as fast as the cherries and grapes, so they are suffering from lack of sun. Next year I will plant them in front of my cucumbers and melons so that they get more sun mid season. The flavor is great from what I have, but they go bad fast because of the cracking. I hate putting tomatoes in the fridge, ruin’s their flavor, so we have to eat these fast. I made this curry twice last week, oh, it was good!

I have high hopes in canning my roma’s as well as making salsa (with fresh tomatoes) and marinara. The birds are playing in them and they kept falling over for a while until I got them properly staked. There seems to be a good amount of green fruit on the 6 plants I got going, I just started getting red ones. Next year I am going to get more of these handy dandy Ultomato cages to keep them better under control and make more isle space so that I am not constantly stepping on them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cilantro-Sweet Brown Rice

Sweet brown rice is a very short grain rice that is almost round. Slightly sweet and al dente, this grain is great in salads, breads, pilaf’s, I particularly like it for rice pudding. Any rice would work in this recipe, but this variety is fun for something different. A good seasoned rice is a fantastic addition to most any meal.

I brought this to family dinner last week and my sister-in-law commented on it’s “buttery” flavor. This is what a good chicken stock does, it imparts a nice flavor and texture, not to mention incredible nutrition. If you are paying the premium for high quality meat, you will, no doubt, want to make use of every last part.

2 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups sweet brown rice
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ cup bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sucanat
2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt (if stock is unsalted)
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, zest and juice

Soak brown rice in water and lemon juice for 8 hours. Sautee onion and pepper in oil for 3 minutes. Add sucanat, stir until melted. Pour in soaked rice, stock, cumin and salt. Simmer for 25 minutes or pressure on high for 8, natural release. Stir in cilantro and lime.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday
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