Monday, November 29, 2010

Equipment {The Christmas List}

Dear Kate,

I know most college students have microwaves in their dorm rooms.  I get that they are allowed and quick and easy to use.  Yet, I have a problem with what they do to food.  Putting “making it taste bad” to the side for the moment, I want you to actually think about how the machine works.  “Micro” waves (radiation) are thrown around inside a box, penetrate the food, vibrates the moisture to heat it from the inside out.

There have been studies that have shown that it deteriorates the nutrients in breast milk (a food of nature) to the point that infants cannot thrive.  If it does this to one natural food, why wouldn’t it affect others.  Try an experiment with two small plants on your window sill (that one with a killer view).  Water one with plain tap water (even with all the yucky chlorine) and the other with tap water that was heated in the microwave, then cooled to room temp.  Guess what happens.

I know hot plates are not allowed, but what about an electric hot pot that is all one entity, much like an electric kettle? Besides, what college student isn’t a total rebel and has a toaster in their dorm? These electric hot pots are very cheap (under $20) and if bought at the right place, like Bed Bath and Beyond, you can return it if it peters out in the first semester.  Because they are plastic, I have a few reservations about how long they will last.  My version of these electric hot pots is my $80 electric pressure cooker that has warming and sautéing setting as well. This has a metal insert, so it will hold up much longer.

This simple appliance opens up a wide range of healthy options; Boil pasta, eggs, reheat left overs, simmer soup, hot breakfast cereal, steam vegetables.

Other items of importance;
A decent knife, because you will be cutting up a lot of vegetables for healthy meals
A cutting board, never use your “decent knife” on glass or it will soon be a “worthless knife.”
A cheese grater (as mentioned here)
A large spoon
A few containers for leftovers
An all in one bowl with lid and strainer, often called berry bowl

Once you are equipt with these few simple items, there will be a wide variety of recipes that can be adapted.

With Love,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Pizza?

What a great holiday, food and family, the bomb.  We had a fun day in the kitchen, and a beautiful feast and an energizing sunset hike.  Now our fridge full of ingredients has turned to a fridge full of leftovers.  You know what I love to do with leftovers, right?

Use this yummy dough and top with Thanksgiving Day leftovers.  Any combination works turkey, potatoes, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, you can even top it with cheese because anything is good with cheese.  So when you get back from shopping, throw together a creative pizza pie.

Other great uses for leftovers;

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Simple Turkey Brine

I swear by brining my thanksgiving turkey.  You can get fancy by adding a bunch of spices and herbs, but I just keep it simple with salt, sugar and water.  Alton Brown has a great Good Eat’s episode that got me started on brining my first turkey.  I have been impressed year after year with how tender, moist and flavorful it is.  If you get a more natural bird, it will not be saline injected, and therefore tends to have less flavor when not brined. 

Jenny at Nourished Kitchen is offering some incredibly useful online cooking classes for holiday cooking.  If you are like me, you are online trying to search for doable recipes that are made with quality and nourishing ingredients.  It is an overwhelming task to work your way through the mountains of holiday recipes to find just the right kind.  Take a look at what she is offering, and be sure to take advantage of the free thanksgiving mini lesson that is available now just for signing up for her newsletter.

1 1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup sucanat
1.5 gallons pure water

Boil salt and sugar in 2 quarts water until dissolved, ice down, put clean thawed turkey (well rinsed and giblet bag removed) in clean cooler (or pot or bucket if you have one that it will fit in.  Pour the brine and enough water to cover the turkey.  Find some plates and weight it down with cans so that it is completely submerged.  You can put it in the fridge if there is room, or keep it on ice.  I usually put the cooler outside and make sure there is plenty of ice.  Keep in the brine around 12 hours... at least 4, but not more than 24, it's flexible.

When ready to bake, remove and dry with paper towels.  Rub skin with butter or coconut oil.  For delicious gravy, stuff cavity with aromatics, but never stuffing.  If you have a roasting pan with a rack, that works good, otherwise you will have to get your oven rack dirty by placing the turkey directly on it with a sheet pan under it to catch the drippings.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, turn 180 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.  Lower temperature to 325 to finish.  Do not rely on the probes that come in the turkey, those are set to pop at 180.  Cook to 160, remove from oven, tent with foil and rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

links; Tuesday Twister, Real Food Wednesday

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Series for the College Student {Introduction}

Dear Kate,
I am right proud that my own baby sister is looking for some better food than cafeteria slop.  I know, being in a dorm room, you are very limited on space and have rules on cooking appliances.  Not to mention the broke, tiresome lifestyle of a college student.  I gotta say that eating well is going to require big effort.  Why do you think everyone eats at the campus cafeteria? It’s not because the food is outstanding, or that they love the extra pounds they gain each semester.

Wasn’t life grand back when you came home hungry, peeked into the fridge and pulled out a container of Mom’s chili for dinner?  The reality of being an adult is that you are going to be responsible for fixing your own chili from here on out.  Sad?  Kind of, but it puts you in the position to make healthier, tastier chili too.

 Your first assignment is cheese.  Good quality would mean you are looking for ingredients like whole milk, cultures, salt and rennet not skim milk, emulsifiers such as sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, anti caking agents such as cellulose powder (which means you’ll need to grate your own) and calcium sulfate and coloring (cheese is not orange).  The best quality would be raw and made with pastured milk.  Try the farmers market near you or a bus trip to Trader’s Joes will have you covered.

The right cheese adds great nutrition and substance to a meal or snack. The texture gives interest to keep things tasty and the fat is important for vitamin absorption.  Eat with fruit, melt on vegetables, a slice of bread, rice or noodles. 

With Love,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Garden Journal 2010 {Peppers}

I planted a variety of peppers this year and they are very happy right now.  The sweet peppers seemed to grow well in the spring, but by the time they put on fruit, it would get scorched by they sun.  The hot peppers slowed down in the summer and came back full throttle in September.  These mature plants took off with new blossoms and now we are harvesting a whole lot of peppers.  I even transplanted a few volunteer pepper plants that are just starting to set peppers.

My jalapeño plant is on its second year and though it produces abundantly, the fruit doesn’t grow very large.  I think it gets too much shade or maybe phosphorus.  I have also been disappointed in my plants I grew from seed, they are small, light in color and thin walled.  So strange as they are planted right along side the thriving volunteers and nursery –bought plants.  I also have a huge gold bell pepper plant that did NOTHING this summer, but has quite a few really nice green fruits right now.  Hoping to enjoy those before the frost.

The banana peppers have gotten spicier than they were in May.  It makes it harder to use them up because the kids can’t handle too much heat.  I need to find poblanos next year, those have always been my favorite pepper.  Any other recommendations?

For dinner tonight, we are making good use for some of those peppers in fajitas.  Right now I have the venison marinading, got to make room in the deep freeze, Dad is bringing more at Thanksgiving!

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 banana pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Thinly slice 1 pound meat. Place in marinade and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Saute a mix of  peppers and onions. Brown meat on high heat for 2 minutes. Serve in warm tortillas with lettuce, salsa, cheese and guacamole.

links; Simple Lives Thursday, Things I love Thursday, Pennywise Platter

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Big Fat Foodie Life

Really enjoyed getting out and picking up some new ideas at a gardening class this morning as my melons, cukes and bean are being consumed by aphids. Yes, my life revolves around food and why shouldn't it? Join me at I Heart Mesa, where I dish my ideas on growing, preparing, learning about, buying, eating, preserving and storing FOOD!

links; Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Raspberries Drizzled with Chocolate

Most days, a piece of fruit does the trick for the role of dessert after dinner.  If I have been eating well, I am without sugar craving and am more satisfied this way.  When the holiday's hit, I usually like something stronger for dessert.  Sugar is an addictive substance.  If you, or your children don't like fruit in general, there is too much sugar in your diet.  Fruit should taste sweet, which is a highly desirable attribute in food.  When one over indulges with the potent sugars that are in processed foods, the taste buds become less sensitive to the delicate sweetness of whole foods.

This dessert is somewhat of a transition, it bridges the gap between too much and feeling deprived.  When a bowl of raspberries doesn't sound so great to your sweet tooth, raspberries drizzled with chocolate surely does...without going over the top.  Guilt free.

I like Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% dark Belgian Chocolate.  You can play around with the amounts depending on where your sweet tooth lies.  This will make a drizzle that sets up as a brittle drizzle, the same texture and hardness of the original chocolate bar.  If you like yours to be more pliable like a ganache, add 1 tablespoon of cream to the melted chocolate.

1.5 ounces dark chocolate
12 ounces organic raspberries

Slowly melt chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently.  Carefully wash raspberries in a bowl of water and dry with paper towels.  Place raspberries on silpat or parchment and drizzle with melted chocolate.  Place in refrigerator 15 minutes, but no longer than 6 hours.  We get 4-5 serving from this, but use your own judgement.

links; Tuesday Twister, Tempt My Tummy, Tasty Tuesday, Top Ten Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop,  Whole Food for the Holiday's
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