Holy Wheat Batman!!!!

March 29, 2013 § 5 Comments

If your breakfast repertoire reads something like this:

Toast, bagels, pancakes, waffles, crepe’s, cinnamon buns, doughnuts, croissants, english muffins, boxed cereal or heaven forbid something made out of bisquick, it might be time for a morning make-over.  Add the sandwiches and subs and panini’s and pasta and pizza and pitas and crackers and pretzels and cookies and cakes and the who knows what else to the list and wheat suddenly becomes 80% of your daily food intake.  And only you know how much of that 80% is refined wheat or whole grain wheat.  So what is a dudet (dude) to do?  Ditch the wearisome wheat to the curb and explore a new grain for a change.

One meal at a time, one foot in front of the other, we can make simple swaps that will revolutionize what we put on our plates and in our mouths.  Start by  uprooting wheat from breakfast,  and while we are at it,  kick the boxed cereal right off the shelf.

What is buckwheat?  The Kitch’n has a great explanation that I can not top, so take a visit over there for more information.

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KASHA Breakfast Cereal

3 cups Kasha (buckwheat)

1.5 cup rolled oats

1 cup sesame seeds

3 cups unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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5 days without food

February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect. -Alan Cohen

We all have to start somewhere.  I am starting over today, here, on this page.  My aim: Less words with more content.  After a long few months of life, I decided to give the Master Cleanse a try.  I will vouch for the fact that cleansing your body of food allows you room to cleanse the rest of your life, and apparently that includes blogs too:)  Raise your lemonade to a toast for LESS.

There are countless sources of information on the web about the master cleanse and its benefits so I will spare you the boring details of why you would want to try this.  However, I will say that I have never felt soooooo good in my entire life, as I did after the third day of this.  I attempted and succeeded at completing 5 days on the Master Cleanse lemonade and know I could have continued with it had it not been for faulty planning on my part.  Planning and preparation are EVERYTHING when it comes to completing this cleanse successfully!!!  If you are going to attempt it, do your research first and prepare, prepare. prepare!

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MASTER CLEANSE RECIPE

2 T. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

2 T. Pure Grade B Maple Syrup

1/8 t. Cayenne Pepper

10 oz. filtered water

Prepare 60 oz. of lemonade every morning.  Drink throughout the day.  Drink one cup of senna tea (laxative tea) at night before bed.  You can also experiment with using a saltwater flush for a laxative effect, although this is not necessary.  (I did use the saltwater flush with excellent results.)  If you have any specific questions about this cleanse, just message me:)

POST CLEANSE UPDATE:

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In the spirit of cleansing, new beginnings and Maple Syrup I would like to introduce ya’ll to my new beginning at Justamere Tree Farm.   If you are having trouble locating the right type of maple syrup for the cleanse, we make a delicious grade B that you can order right off the webpage:)  For the next year I will be updating you from my new little camper stationed right on Justamere’s farm!!!  I will be posting plenty of pictures from my camper door, as well as fun maple filled recipes, so stay tuned!!!

It’s a twisted eggy world

October 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Bread.  It is a paradox to life itself.

It should be simple, but then humans have a way of overcomplicating just about everything.  Flour, water, yeast….The origins of bread are biblical. Sacred in many cultures, we can trace it’s origins through history, dating back over 30,000 years.  There is evidence of the creation of bread in every civilization that has ever been.  So here we are, a nation of disease riddled, overweight, undernourished people.  What will the future determine about us as a culture.  Will they look to our bread?  Will they wonder; “Who was this Sara Lee and why did she want to make people sick?”

Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Ingredients:

Enriched Bleached Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Whole Grain [Whole Wheat Flour, Brown Rice Flour (Rice Flour, Rice Bran)], Wheat Gluten, Skim Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Yeast, Butter (Cream, Salt), Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Calcium Sulfate, Salt, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono- and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide, Datem, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate and /or Calcium Carbonate), Corn Starch, Vitamin D3, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.

WARNING WARNING  VULGAR LANGUAGE AHEAD WARNING WARNING

I  don’t have words to explain the absolute fanatical sarcasam and cynicism that I feel in my temples when I see an atrocity like that .  I am not religious and I feel no inherent spiritual connection with bread but I will say that there is nothing more satisfying than baking a loaf of beautiful, simple, hearty, whole grain bread.  The foodie assignment of the week is to tell Sara Lee to F%@! off.   She’s the devil and needs to be sent back to firey depths of the underworld.  After that battle is conquered find out what is in the bread you buy.  Where do those ingredients come from?  Are you feeding that long list of sh@! to your kids?   And last but not least, try baking your very own bread.  Intimidation is just another form of challenge… TAKE IT ON oh superfoodie!!!!  You WILL triumph and you will NEVER go back to that #%$#! Sara Lee.
Twisty Egg Fig Bread
(ie. Challah)
Disolve yeast:
1 T. Yeast
a big squirt of honey
1/4  cup warm water
Add:
2 T. Honey
1 C. water
3 eggs
2 C. Whole Wheat flour
Allow this starter to rest without stirring it for about a half hour.  If the yeast is actively working this starter will begin to puff and bubble.
Add:
1/8 cup softened butter
1 t. Salt
2 C. Whole Wheat flour
Knead the ball of dough adding flour as you go until you get a smooth elastic ball.  Plop that baby into an oiled boil, cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for approximately 45 min.  The temperature of the room will make this time vary.  You are looking for the dough to double in size and when you poke it, the hole should want to fill back in slowly.
Punch down the dough and let it rise a second time.
Prepare about 1 cup of chopped dried figs.
This would be a good time to make sure you have preheated your oven to 375.  Finally knead the dough with the dried chopped figs.  Once the figs are incorporated split it into 3 sections of equal size.  Roll the sections into equal length ropes.  Lay them on a silpat or parchment paper, ends together, and begin to braid.  Tuck the ends under on both sides and leave the loaf for 30 minutes or so to rise once more.  Throw it in the oven and allow it to bake for about 10 minutes.  Prepare an egg wash while the bread is in the oven, whip that baby out and brush it all over like your Jackson Pollok on mushrooms.
Throw it back in the oven and allow to bake for another 30 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom.
My new oven gets hot fast and so the loaf I made developed more color on the outside than I would have liked.  If this happens for you make sure to tent the loaf with a sheet of aluminum foil for the last 20 minutes of baking.
Eat that Sara Lee!!!
 

A Challenge built for a Wisconsinite

September 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I survived the move…barely.

I started school… I refinished a desk, converted a drafting table to banquet table, polyurethaned half the apartment and I am living with my mother. All in under two weeks.  Talk about growth.

So here we are, a little bit deeper in the south.  A little more accent on the tongues of our neighbors, a chicken parade every day at 6:30, a screen porch, nights filled with cricket quartets, rain on the tin roof and trees all around.  What to make, what to make.  Perhaps something inspired by our weekly Wednesday night dinners at school?  Here is last weeks menu:

September 12th, 2012

Antipasta platter;

One deviled egg topped with pickled okra, blanched green beans, grilled/marinated eggplant and grilled sweet peppers

Arugula Salad with blue cheese, pine nuts and a balsamic vinaigrette

Farm Raised Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Sweet Potato biscuits

Home-made Ricotta and Heirloom Fig tarts

So what do you think the Wisconsin girl did straight away??? Take a wild guess!

Homemade Ricotta

3 cups of Whole Milk (preferably from your local farmer)

1 Cup of Cream (preferably from a cow you know:)

1 t. salt

3 T. Lemon Juice (preferably from a lemon you have made friends with)

Combine Milk, Cream and salt in a sauce pot.  Bring to 180-185 degrees.  The milk will begin to foam a bit at this temperature.  However, you do not want it to boil.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the lemon juice.  Stir briefly and watch it curdle:)

 Allow the mixture to rest for at least a half hour before straining through a cheese cloth (or flour sack).  Strain over a bowl overnight. (reserve whey for pancakes or stock or something wonderful)  Refrigerate the ball before attempting to remove from the cloth.  And, Whalla… a fine ball of cheese at that.

So now what?  And why would you really continue to go through the trouble of making your own cheese?  Well, it’s just another exercise in foodism. Research, research and more research. Where does the milk for that land ‘o lakes cheese come from?  What is rennet anyways? Why do cows keep giving milk year after year?  What happens to all those pretty brown eyed babies those momma moohowsers are giving birth to?  What happens to those long lashed ladies that stop giving milk?  What about the calves that are boys… what happens to them?

This is your foodie assignment for the week.  Find the answers to all those perplexing cheesy questions.  I bet if we only ate cheese we made ourselves we could put a few factory farms out of business.  Yipee for the power of the dollar bill.

Plate O’Aubergine

1 or 2 medium eggplants

3 T. EVOO

2 T. Balsamic Vinegar

3 Garlic cloves

1 or 2 t. Mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste

Grape or Cherry tomatoes sliced in halves

Fresh Cheese

Use a mandolin to cut THIN strips of eggplant. Brush lightly with oil, lay on baking sheet and broil both sides until it becomes browned and caramelized looking. (almost crispy)  If you have a grill I would recommend using that instead.

 Combine Vinegar, Salt, Pepper and Garlic in food processor.  Add oil and mustard.  Marinate Eggplant overnight in the mixture.

Lightly coat halved tomatoes in oil and salt and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Lay eggplant on a baking sheet or pizza stone in a circle, top with home-made ricotta and tomatoes and pop it in under the broiler on low just long enough to get everything warmed up and the cheese begins to melt a bit.

My mum took a bit of a different path and made a beautiful Beet risotto (without risotto:)

1 whole Onion

3 Cloves of Garlic Chopped

1 Cup of Brown Rice

5 Cups of liquid

3 small beets

Fresh Cheese

Saute Onions and garlic until translucent in large cast iron skillet.  Add dry rice and lightly toast.  Add 2 cups of liquid.  Cover skillet with a lid and allow rice to steam until liquid is absorbed.  Add 2 more cups of liquid and allow to steam until liquid is absorbed again.  Add 1 more cup of liquid with shredded beets and allow that to steam covered until liquid is absorbed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle fresh cheese over the top and serve warm.

Plum Off the Cuff

August 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

A little birdie chirped at me yesterday.

He told me that someone I know made a wonderfully delicious, off the cuff, use what you’ve got,  guacamole hummus.  Of all the things you could tell a girl to make her smile, you wouldn’t think this would be the one to really get that grin.  I’ll tell you why I’m still grinning ear to ear about this.  Before this ray of sunshine started on her venture to create a dreamy, beanie, avocado creamy hummus she had to have looked at that avocado and thought for a minute or two.  That’s the really important part right there.  Think.  If you look at an avocado and continue to see JUST an avocado you would never see guacamole and you would certainly never see creamy, beanie, dreamy, avocado hummus.  Creativity is a spark.  It hits you like a bolt of lighting and if you don’t act on it, well….. you’ll never get to taste dreamy things.  You’ll be stuck eating a damn avocado for dinner.  (Yesssss, I am aware that half of my readers have watched me eat an avocado whole before…I’m trying to make a point here!)

Now I bet a lot of you are hoping that I am going to post a recipe for the dreamy hummus, but I’m not.  For two reasons; One of them being that I don’t know the recipe.  The other reason is the more important one, the really really really important one.  Experimentation in the kitchen is ESSENTIAL to learning how to change your relationship with food!  It’s another excercise in Foodism.  The next time you are wondering what to make for dinner, pull out all the fresh veggies and fruits you have in your fridge and line them up on the counter.  Pair together what you think might go well with one another.

Start chopping, food processing, blending, sauteeing, roasting, grilling….  Make something new.  Experiement and maybe figure out your very own dreamy avocado hummus recipe.  If what you have in your refigerator is fresh, in season and bursting with flavor, there is no wrong recipe.  It will be deleicous.  You will succeed and you might even come up with a new weekly favorite.

In the name of off the cuff here are two recipes that Derek and I made right out the fridge, no planning involved.  Hopefully they will spark some ideas for you all.

Plum Delicious

 

(A forewarning that this recipe sounds incredible simple and boring)

(But I promise it will NOT disappoint!)

2 summer squash or patty pans

4 medium sized firm plums

1 sweet onion

Coconut Oil or Olive Oil

Salt

Dice the squash.  Chop Plums into large cubes.  Chop the  Onion.  Throw everything into a big bowl and coat with a few tablespoons of oil.  Dump it all out into a roasting pan with sides that will accommodate all the veggies in one layer.  Preheat your broiler to 400 degrees.  Broil the mixture for a good 10 to 12 minutes checking often and turning with a spatula every now and again.  It’s important to chop the squash smaller than the plums because the plums cook much faster.  Once the squash is tender and browning and the plums and onions have begun to release their juices, take everything out of the oven.  Let cool and serve all kinds of ways!!!  In a taco, over fish, over chicken, over greens, or follow my lead and eat it with a spoon out of a bowl!

Side Note:  This does not reheat well and is not so good cold.  Try to make only what you can eat.  The amount listed above is good for approximately 2 or three people.

Simply Fresh

1 cup cooked black beans

1 large heirloom tomato, chopped

(Zebra tomatoes work best for this salsa)

1 or 2 large sweet peppers, chopped

3 cobs of grilled corn (off the cob)

Chopped Fresh Cilantro

2 T Rice Vinegar

4 T EVOO

Salt

  Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Salt to taste.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving.

PILE FOOD ON A PLATE AND EAT!!!!

Simply Summer Sweet

August 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ahhh. the heat of summer in Richmond.

It’s a bit like being in an oven, a steamy sticky oven.  So I’ll be damned if I’m actually going to turn my oven on.

Pizza on the grill, summer salads, and lots of hummus have been dominating our plates since mid July.  So what’s for dessert?  Something cool.  Something Creamy.  Something delicious.  Something inspired by a wonderful greek dessert that traditionally uses cherries, pistachios and of course cream. I made this in early spring and used strawberries I picked that day.  Not much is better than a strawberry right of the plant.  There are countless variations of this dish so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE experiment and use what’s in season in your neck of the woods.

Ingredients:

Berries

2 Cans Coconut Milk (whole fat)

3/4 cup Whipping Cream

(preferably from your local farmer or your cow if you have one:)

Whipped Raw Honey

(This is important!!!!  Liquid honey will make the cream runny)

Pecans

(Walnuts or any other nuts would work as well)

Mint (optional)

Small Mason Jars (also optional)

Refrigerate coconut milk for 4 hours or overnight.

Chop and muttle strawberries or other fruit until berries are mashed.  I added a few mint leaves to the muttled mixture but you could also add  vanilla bean, basil or any other spice you might like.  (Cardamom perhaps?)  If you do not have a mortar and pestle use a food processor.  If you do not have a food processor, a fork and a good bowl with a bit of elbow grease will do the trick.

Roast your pecans or other nuts in a cast iron pan until just browned.  When cool, chop nuts coarsely.

Whip 3/4 cup whipping cream until stiff.  Take coconut milk out of the refigerator and scoop off only the thickened milk from the top half of the cans.  Add to whipping cream.  Continue to whip while you add 1 tablespoon of honey.  You could also use creamed dates here if you prefer.  The amount of sweetener is of course going to be a personal choice so taste as you go but remember the rule that it is easier to add more than take away…so add little by little and taste often!  Once everything is combined and whipped to a creamy consistancy begin to build your layers!

VARIATIONS:

If you are cutting out cholesterol and fat from your diet, greek yogurt can replace the cream altogether.  I would recommend buying an unsweetened greek style yogurt, dumping it in a cheese cloth and allowing it to strain in the refrigerator overnight.  Whip it up the same way you would the cream and then add the coconut milk solids and honey as usual.

If you are allergic to nuts take out the coconut milk altogether and use a combination of greek yogurt and whipped cream.

The strawberries can be replaced with ANY fruit!!!!!  Peaches and pecans, cherries and pistachios, plums and walnuts!

The nuts of course can be replaced with any nut and if you are allergic simply swap the nuts for some oats roasted in honey.

Simple as pie…only easier. (and with a lot less sugar:)

Geting Undressed!

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

No no no… I’m not starting a food porn company.

I’m talking about salad dressing you pervs.  A lovely and loyal fan pointed out what now seems to be a rather obvious oversight on my part.  I never mentioned anything about dressings in my very first post.  So I agreed to sit down and dissect the rather complicated ingredients list on a grocery store isle salad dressing.  Well, the lists were so long that this took me TWO WEEKS!!!  (as you may have noticed how late this post is) Just kidding.  There are other reasons for the delay but they have nothing to do with undressing. I will try my best to not let so much time elapse between posts but we all know that life is life.  So in the spirit of embracing that fact, let’s get NAKED!

Below is the list for Kraft’s classic Ranch:

Ingredients: WATER, SOYBEAN OIL, VINEGAR, SUGAR, SALT,  EGG YOLKS, WHEY (FROM MILK), MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, GARLIC JUICE, BUTTERMILK, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, XANTHAN GUM, PHOSPHORIC ACID, POLYSORBATE 60, SPICE, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, TARTARIC ACID, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SORBIC ACID AND CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (TO PROTECT FLAVOR). CONTAINS: EGG, MILK.

I will spare you the exhausting analysis of this list, because I know most of you can see why this should NEVER go into your mouth. Nutrition aside, I will point out one key thing that has a lot more to do with taste than it does with processed food.  The list starts with WATER.  (In case some of you don’t know this already, ingredients lables are written so that what is used in the greatest amounts are listed first and the rest follow suit).  Why in the great green world of herbs, would you EVER dress your salad with WATER?  Why, why, why, why, why????

There are other obvious reasons to avoid this dressing and you can see how complicated a simple thing can become in the hands of a processed food company.  It is completely UNCESSARY to have more than 5 ingreidents in any salad dressing and this is simply another example of  how the major players in processed food are wreaking havoc on consumers health by creating ways to use subsidized food in products that just don’t need them.

So, some of you may be touting your Amy’s organic dressing right now or other expensive gourmet pre-bottled goo but I can almost guarantee, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is some ingredient in there that just doesn’t need to be.  Most of Amy’s dressings end in xanathan gum and a majority of natural dressings start with Soybean or Canola oils.  You can do better !!!

So where to start?  Well, the first thing I would do is UNDRESS.  Yes, get naked and dance around for joy because if you are getting rid of the junk from your diet I bet you’re going to want to show off that new birthday suit. You can do this naked if you want to but on a more serious note, until you get rid of your crutches you will keep going back to using them.  So open that refrigerator door and start stripping!!!!  Grab every bottle of junk in that condiment door and throw it in the trash like you’re the next Jordan.  (You may want to actually dump them down the drain so you can recycle the bottles, but I needed something for effect here).  Undress that refrigerator and free yourself up for real flavor, real food and really amazing salads.

So you’ve undressed and now your standing there, naked…, wondering, Now What?  Well you’ve got to get dressed again because you may need to go to the store.  If you are going to commit to making all your dressings from scratch from here on out you need a fully stocked pantry.  I have listed some things below that are the essentials to building a better dressing.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

White Wine Vinegar

A good quality  Mustard

(A note about mustards:  Because these are pre-bottled, be sure to read the ingriedients!!!)

These 4 ingriedients are the base to most ALL dressings.  There are some obvious exceptions like Ranch which I will not be touching on in this post because I personally don’t like the stuff, but I am sure there are some great recipes out there on the web.  If it happens to be your favorite dressing, by all means ranch away.  I live by a bit of different mantra that places salad on a pedestal.  Each salad deserves it’s own dressing.  I make my dressing right after I make the salad.  Some of you may be thinking this is work, but it really isn’t.  I don’t want every salad that I eat to taste the same.  I want to enjoy the flavor of ever damn veggie that’s in it and I can’t do that if everything is slathered in ranch.  So I have a beautiful herb garden outside my window, I have a nicely stocked spice cabinet and the preceeding four ingriedients always on hand.

The ratio of oil to vinegar in the culinary world is usually one part vinegar to three parts oil.  I tend to be more of a half and half girl but you will need to experiment and find your own liking.  Once you have this ratio down, keep a tablespoon measure and a good glass bowl and whisk on hand at all times so that you can whip up the dressing base any time you like.  Many times my most simple and favorite dressing stops here.  Oil and vinegar with a little bit of salt and pepper is a classic favorite and if I have a complicated salad I don’t want to muck up any of the flavors with a more complicated dressing.  If you get bored with this there are endless possibilities for flavor.  Think fresh herbs, spices, lemon juice, lime juice, mustards, soy sauce, wine, honey, fruit puree, blue cheese, avocado puree, greek yogurt……..the list is never ending!

My most recent dressing:

3 tablespoons of EVOO

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon mustard

1/2 lemon squeezed

1 tablespoon fresh chives chopped

1 tablespoon fresh mint muddled

small squirt of honey

Whisk all ingredient until emulsified and pour over a beautiful and colorful bowl of fresh greens and veggies.

Some other combinations to dream about:

1 pureed avocado

finely chopped cilantro

juice from one whole lime

3 tablespoons EVOO

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper

__________________________________

3 Tablespoons EVOO

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons blue cheese

a squirt of mustard

Fresh ground pepper and salt

_________________________________________

3 Tablespoons EVOO

2 Tablespoons Balsamic or other vinegar

Juice of one whole lemon

1 squirt of dijon mustard

3 tablespoons hard parmesan or other sharp cheese

coarse salt and pepper

___________________________________________

As you can see by now the combinations are not that dissimilar.  It may seem kind of boring but once you start making these and coming up with your own concoctions you  may not know how much fun it is to eat salad.

So here’s to getting undressed and finding a more pure way to eat the most beautiful food on the planet, SALAD.

Cheers.

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