Monday, March 11, 2013

Creative Breakfasts for Mommie and Baby

It's true: I haven't posted on this blog in *years* and really don't know where I found the time.  
But I do love writing about my adventures in nourishing, delicious cooking!  

I got a question from a dear friend, and enjoyed responding so much, I thought I'd share it here.

Her question was:
Hi, my tiffie!  I would love to get hot, relatively quick breakfast meals for the mornings I go to work ~ steel cut oatmeal is losing its favor with me.  Something where baby Seone [15 months] can easily share with me ~ b/c she is such a big girl now!!  Any ideas?  

Here's what I wrote:

Hi, Arlene! 

I am high as a kite having just learned that Tiff had their baby this morning!!  baby Jude.  <3 br="" nbsp="" style="font-family: Verdana;">
My suggestion for breakfast food is custards!  they are so easy and so versatile.  i make a custard out of eggs, and leftovers.  the variations are endless.  
Just think frittata with a little extra liquid.  
when i make them, i count how many eggs most people usually eat, and add an extra one or two depending on how many servings you want [if cooking for a group ~ add two, if cooking for just a couple ~ add one].  

then add... soup... already cooked veggies... cooked fruits... nuts... i mean, the options really are endless!  the Official ratio for a custard is 1 egg per cup of liquid. but it is really just so flexible.  and if you want it to bake faster, just put it in smaller baking dishes.  so a "typical" custard for me would be.. 8 eggs ~ you can even add extra yolks for nourishment, and 1 pint of leftover soup.  puree with handheld blender ~ or NOT! ~ add 1/2 cup of melted fat of your choice, seasoning, and then bake at 365 until the center is not liquidy, and the top is browned.  you can add cheese on top for extra deliciousness [broil this in the last minutes if you want].  it is really so flexible.  the other day i made a custard with eggs, leftover co-op soup (which had black beans, corn, and bits of bacon, and cream), leftover restaurant grits, and then grated cheese all over the top.  it was soooo good.  everyone (family and friends) marveled.  ;-) 
another favorite is eggs with ... yogurt or cream, sliced-thin apples, and then leftover/precooked oat groats.  cinnamon and a little honey if you like.  chopped nuts are nice in this too, like walnuts or pecans.  it really just goes on and on.  

winter squash puree makes an excellent easy one.  

do you get the idea?  please ask more questions if needed! :-)  

Also, hearty breakfast muffins ~ just add a little extra solid to the custard = you have a muffin! 

my basic ratio is: 
3 eggs
1 yolk
1 cup of small coconut flakes
1/2 cup liquidy something, such as yogurt or banana or applesauce
spices and a 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/4 cup melted fat, such as butter/ghee or coconut oil, poured in slowly as you mix

i add a sprinkle of [grassfed] gelatin [here's my source] for extra nourishment, flax seeds, nuts.. 

here is a recipe from some i made and posted on my blog, with a reference to the original recipe, for some examples.

and here's another recipe.  i've been playing with bananas lately, and recently have been adding carob chips and/or carob powder to the mix, and it is just so delicious (don't know if your carob chip source is as good as the one at our co-op, but i hope so!  you could also use chocolate, but don't know if that would sit well with Seoney!)
I make these for breakfast and don't mind if Anjali [4yo] eats them exclusively all day long; they are just so wholesome, nourishing, and satisfying.  they also hold me over for hours; they are so hearty.  no mid-morning sugar-crashes in sight! 

I hope this helps.  Please let me know if you have questions.  once you get the hang of these, they take just a few minutes to put together ~ which can be done the night before, and baking time.  so, a little longer than oatmeal, but they offer so many options.  <3 nbsp="">

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked: Sweet Grain-Free Acorn Squash Muffins

It is essential for me that when someone tries something I make, they simply say, "This is good." I don't want them to say, "This is good...considering it's [grain-free] [healthy] [made with liver] [etc.]." So I'm excited to be experimenting with grain-free treats that are simply yummy ~ not conditionally yummy. ;-) It's also important to me not to use specialty ingredients. Real, old-fashioned ingredients that are no longer generally carried at a regular grocery, such as soup bones and liver from grass-fed animals ~ yes; fancy "gluten-free flour" ~ no.

I've been using this grain-free muffin recipe for years now. And I've honed custards (a mix of egg with liquid, such as cream or milk, soup, pureed veggie or fruit, etc.: looks like a post I need to create!) ~ both sweet and savory ~ to a perfection. So now I'm working with this concept: of eggs with different thickenings, essentially, to come up with all kinds of (mildly) sweet, grain-free baked deliciousness. My way of cooking, mind you, is largely "a little of this, a little of that;" I only use rough measurements. And I encourage you to try this method in your own kitchen as much as you dare. It takes practice and a bit of adventure. But if you start with quality ingredients, even if it's not contest-worthy, it'll most likely still taste good. ;-)

So here's a rough recipe I created this morning that turned out yummy. Especially successful because the toddler asked for seconds and thirds! I hope I have the time to share more of these recipes soon.

Sweet Grain-Free Acorn Squash Muffins
makes 9 small muffins

Preheat oven to 375.
3 eggs ~ from a local farm you know and trust
about 1/3 cup leftover baked acorn squash (butternut or pumpkin would work well, too)
1/4 cup flax seeds, ground in a seed/coffee grinder
1/4 tsp organic butter, melted
3-4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped fine (or chopped in a food processor)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Extra butter to grease the muffin cups.

Blend all ingredients. I use a hand-held mixer. Pour into well-greased muffin cups. Bake until firm and brown ~ no longer than 30 minutes; probably closer to 20.
These muffins are so moist and satisfying! My 3 year old daughter ate three at one sitting! That's a record-breaker. The flax helps them to stay together and have body, while not being too "flaxy" (read: "crunchy-granola 'healthy'"). And the dates add just enough sweet without creating a sugar high and subsequent crash! These muffins stand on their own, but you know I won't flinch if you melt some butter or cream cheese on top. And I bet a drizzle of raw local honey would be divine!

Involve your children in the process! Kids love to help if we'll let them. And helping ensures they'll like the end product more because they can take pride in it. It might take a few more minutes, and some food might end up on the counter or on the floor. However, an interest in cooking that starts early is a life-skill that is worth the investment. Anjali helped me make these by pouring in the dry ingredients after I measured them. She also quality-checked the dates. ;-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

fermented: Autumn Harvest Fruit Scrap Vinegar ~ with grapes, apples, blackberries, and pears!

oh! The kitchen is alive and vibrating with bounty at harvest time! I feel so fortunate to have arrived in Oregon at this time of year. As soon as we plopped the moving boxes in the middle of the room and assembled the bed, the pots and crocks and kettles have been a-bubbling and brewing ever since. Abundance. Vitality found at the end of a wooden spatula shared with friends.

I started a post weeks ago which attempted to quickly run through all the fermented preservation I've been up to, but guess what? I'm too busy preserving! :-) Many are clearly experiments. A few are clearly delicious. That brings me to quite possibly my favorite ferment, besides just good ol' plain ol' cabbage sauerkraut: fruit scrap vinegar. With Mother Nature, truly there is no "waste." That's what I love about making vinegar from fruit scraps: the parts that would usually get tossed to the compost pile have one more step of utility to us first. I have realized this is my passion ~ making useful beautiful things out of stuff that most people in our culture nowadays consider "waste." I make clothing and other useful items from second hand fabric (if only I could unearth the machine from the boxes!), make broth from onion peels, carrot stubs, etc., and bones (which I by no means consider scrap, but instead highly valuable, however most Americans do consider these rubbish). And vinegar from fruit scraps! Ding ding ding! I win!

Ha ha. Well, it's obvious I'm passionate. ;-)

I'm thrilled to be transplanted from the city to the country. And thrilled that we have overflowing fruits for the taking right here on the rental property. This vinegar exemplifies that sweet harvest with apple, pear, blackberry and concord grape! If I had thought to add wild rose hip (oo! that's an idea!), it would almost be showing off. Though I have made luscious fruit scrap vinegars in the past ~ Rainier cherry, and ripest Kashiwase Farm nectarine from Bay Area farmers' markets come to mind, this is the most beautiful fruit scrap vinegar I may ever assemble. I mean. Just look at it.

sweet and ripe apple, pear, blackberry, and concord grape fruit scrap vinegar peeks out from its bonnet.
This is a gallon jar, by the way.

I got the idea originally from everyone's favorite Fermentation Guru-Nextdoor, Sandor Katz (featured prominently to the right), in his must-have Wild Fermentation, with the ratio for added sugar to water being 1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water. In the past I have tried honey, and Sucanat, and probably organic white sugar. Right now I'm using some organic palm sugar that I hoarded away years ago and have since never touched. One of the things I appreciate about Sandor and his truth of fermentation is ~ use what you have, and what motivates you. The "recipes" are mostly just guidelines; you can use your imagination and what's around you to fill in the rest.
Fruit Scrap Vinegar
~Pile the fruit scraps in a clean glass vessel (I give it a good scrubbing and then fill it with boiling water beforehand, which I pour out after a few minutes).
~Fill up the empty space with the sugar water.
~Cover with a clean towel or napkin secured with a rubberband to keep the flies away.
~Let sit until the water is sufficiently cloudy ~ a week or more.
~Then strain out the solids for the compost, and pour the liquid back into the well-ventilated vessel and re-cover.
~Let it sit till the smell turns from sweet to vinegar-y.

A cloudy or fuzzy membrane might form over the top. That's ok; just use a spoon to pull it off.

This vinegar can be used in any way that you use other tasty vinegars ~ in cooking, on salads, and even just to drink, like a tasty kombucha. Yum!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Good News: Citizens Take Food Sovereignty into Their Own Hands

Haha! I've had that gloomy post at the top of this page long enough. I strongly believe in focusing on what you want instead of on what you don't want.

Cheers to folks standing up for their freedom to choose the foods they want to nourish their bodies, and to farmers standing up to sell wholesome food to folks who want to buy it!

And this is one city of a few US cities who have taken this step. Exciting!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Raw Milk: Under Militant Attack by US Government

Uggh. I should've written about this weeks ago, but. If you want to know what really gets my blood boiling ~ it's this and I just didn't want to face it. Many armed SWAT-style raids on small, honest, family-owned farms and businesses selling clean, nutritious raw milk to people who go out of their way to get it and pay top dollar for it. On a planet where many people every day die from lack of access to food, in a country where millions are ill and dying for lack of proper nutrition, our government is pouring out gallons and gallons of uncontaminated, healing, nurturing, life-supporting raw milk. Of all things sick and twisted about The System today, this ~ that is happening much more than you'd think ~ is huge and criminal.

Get in touch with your food supply. Know the people who raise your food, support them, and, even better, raise some of your own food. We can't keep leaving our nourishment up to big businesses (including the government); it's killing us.
This quote was left as a comment after a YouTube video linked below and it rings true with me, too.
"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny."
Thomas Jefferson

Here's a press release about the most recent raid on a food buying club in LA, called Rawesome.

And here is a collection of video footage from the raid, and then from the protest following it. I like one of the signs a protester held, saying something like, "Raid Crack Houses, not Food Buying Clubs."

Then finally, and most importantly, here's a link to the movie, called Farmageddon, which tells the story of so many small farms and farm families around the country who are going through the exact same thing. If you can watch the trailer and not get your feathers ruffled, you probably came to this blog by accident. ;-) Find a way to see it. I'll let you borrow my copy of the DVD when it's available for purchase.

If you don't want to eat real food, keep eating the packaged garbage sold to you by advertisements on TV. But please let me and my family have the right to choose to eat real, wholesome food from the earth, the way Nature intended it.

Food Sovereignty!

To help, Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund is a great organization.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Raw Milk: Safe Even According to Government Data

Though we know better than to rely on the research the US government chooses to publicize, now even government data shows that raw milk from healthy cows grazed on grass is much safer than many other foods available in grocery stores. This also proves that the FDA has an agenda other than public health behind their overt opposition to raw milk. Here's an article about it, and an extensive explanation of the research, by the author, Dr. Ted Beals.

From Dr. Beals, "..we can show, using government figures, that you are about 35,000 times more likely to become ill from other foods than you are from raw milk."

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Next Level: Grain-Free Banana Bread French Toast over a Campfire

Here I am humming with pleasure at one of my favorite things: cooking outside! We went for an overnight trip to Tahoe to feed our souls before embarking on a huge hunk of busy-ness. Always well worth it. And the food? Always well worth it. Food does taste better outside.
The aspects that a photo can't convey are the heavenly fresh scent of the redwoods and Douglas firs, the rushing of the alpine creek that was directly past this little campsite, the crackling of the fire with its occasional stinging smoke in my eyes as I shuffled the pans. The feeling of cool powdery dirt between my toes. The fact that it's perfectly acceptable to use the lid of a camping pot as a cutting board. The added smells and sounds... the breaking of usual rules. ;-)

We've been quite pleased with the previous Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread recipe. I happened to have most of a loaf to take with us on our camping trip. And then it dawned on me: French toast! Oh, man. We fried (pasture-raised, artificial nitrate- nitrite-free) bacon beforehand, and then fried the French toast in the leftover grease. You know it! I made the batter the usual way; I beat an egg for each person with a pinch of sea salt, and about a teaspoon of organic maple syrup. Then I let the pieces of banana bread ~ about the width of my thumb, 3/4 inch thick? ~ soak in there on both sides. The pan and grease were hot enough that when I put the first piece in, it sizzled on contact ~ how you want the pan when you fry pancakes. Most of the pieces browned and crisped nicely on both sides, one piece got a little more ... charred.. as the fire licked up a bit. All a part of the camping experience, right?! Then we added pats of yellow butter, a drizzle more of the maple syrup, and a generous handful of ripe local blueberries. With the foil of a perfectly crisp piece of bacon, this French toast was divine.
That piece in the middle is mighty dark, but I love the way the blueberries look with this plate. I can smell the campfire from here. :-)

You might be grimacing at such a full-on presentation of fat. There is a lot in this meal. But the beauty of eating nutrient-dense foods is that a little goes a long way. Unlike the fluffy, empty, saturatedly-sweet piles of French toast that most (I think I could actually say all) restaurants offer, after a couple small pieces of this French toast, even a hearty eater like my husband is satisfied and fueled for a long hike in the mountains ~ instead of for a several-hour belly-rub on the couch.

I need to add that a meal that I eat that includes good meat and good fat is never complete without a heaping spoonful of fermented veggie, and hopefully something else fresh ripe and raw. This is where my summer salsa comes in. One of my favorites of the summer season is cherry tomatoes. With ripe cherry tomatoes that burst with sweet sunshine flavor when I bite into them, I can easily pass by the price-inflated slicers (till the end of the season when they're priced to move). And cherry tomatoes are so easy to grow. Whereas slicers take some skill, cherry tomatoes overproduce with abandon. This season my favorite has been Sun Gold. I buy a pint every time I go to the co-op. My other favorite this year is cucumber. I am not finding the Armenian cucumber I loved from the Berkeley farmers' markets, but any that I've tried this season have been good! So I've been halving Sun Golds at every meal, tossing them with another fresh veggie, such as chunks of cucumber, and then I add a few scoops of fresh sauerkraut to the mix. A splash of olive oil sometimes, a sprinkle of sea salt. This is the ideal summer accompaniment to a hearty breakfast. I dare say, a must. Summer Salsa with Sauerkraut
Salsa of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and cabbage-n-cauliflower sauerkraut smiles in the redwood-filtered morning sunlight.