pofta buna

Growing up Italian – Rosa Mariotti

//////
DSCF2659
A farmer’s life. Perugia, Italy, 1960.

Growing up in Umbria, the green region and heart of Italy, I had a pretty uneventful childhood. Or so I thought. I really never appreciated my origins until I detached myself from them. Things I took for granted growing up Italian, have now become treasured experiences. Flavors, smells and memories, are part of my repertoire of sensory recalls I hope never to lose.

But let’s start from the beginning. I was born as Rosalinda Mariotti, no middle names, in Perugia, Italy, in the 60’s. When one is born Italian, he/she is supposed to like coffee, wine and animal organs (in this order) as if it were part of the natural genetic patrimony. Just like Art or History! Therefore, like all Italians, I always had a natural fascination with food. Any food.

DSCF3963
Mom and Dad on their Engagement day. 1964.

My mom was a good cook, but my grandmothers were the greatest. Two different personalities: on my dad’s side, a more relaxed, easy going Nonna who cooked more out of obligation than pleasure; on my mom’s side, Nunzia the real food-police–perfection with each bite. As for many things in life, finding the good balance is key. Cooking is no exception, for sure. You could say I’m a late bloomer. I did not really discovered the real joy in cooking until I moved here, to Eugene in 1996 and started attending Lane Community College and its Hospitality Management Program.  Like Julia Child would say: Until then, I just ate.

Learning a new language has also given me a new soul. A NEW perspective on my OLD life. Being so far from my native land I have developed a new vision on traditional Italian food. The hardship of leaving my family behind came with an unexpected reward: the gift of getting to know myself. Someone once told me

“It’s only when you get really lost, that you can find yourself.”

So it goes for me—being totally alone in a foreign country, I found my passion, the key to my inner happiness and emotional balance.  It wasn’t were I had been looking all along: it wasn’t through fancy clothes or strolling on exotic beaches. It was through food. Simple, earthy, traditional food from my childhood cooked with love for the ones I care about.

One could say my family had the first SELFIE ever, in 1974. Trasimeno lake, Perugia. Italy. I’m the one on the bottom right.

Fast forward almost 20 years since the first time I landed in Eugene and I am finally the person I was meant to be all along. My life revolves around food and I’m happy. Cooking as a professional is more than a job: it’s a lifestyle: Physically demanding, stressful,  packed with adrenaline rush…not to mention the sugar high.

summer2013rosamariotti
Teaching in the Continuing Education Program at Lane Community College.

I can’t describe the soul-satisfying sensations that overcome me when I see the positive reactions of someone who just tasted my food. I couldn’t possibly attach a price tag to it. These days I manage a kitchen for a local school district where the emphasis is on child nutrition and serving healthy, local food, cooked with love. I also teach Traditional Italian cooking classes for Lane Community College, where I returned after almost 2 decades from my first graduation, and got a second degree in Baking and Pastry.

I embraced and learned to adore Eugene and its plethora of local, natural products and the producers who remind me of the ones I left in Umbria.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
“Life is a combination of PASTA and Magic” Federico Fellini, Italian Cinematographer.

My goal, with this column is to have you, the reader, feel what I felt growing up in Italy. I hope my recipes will allow you to taste what I tasted growing up so that you experience some of what I did.

My goal is to transmit the incredible gratitude and appreciation I have for the source of everything I eat, whether it comes from an animal or the hard labor of a farmer. Only then, will I feel that I’ve served this local community, while also making my parents  and grandparents really proud of the childhood, traditions and respect  for food they have given me.

Until next time, Mangia! and Ciao!

Pofta Buna! Easy Homemade Raw Greek Yogurt

///

Interested in making your own Greek yogurt from raw milk? Well here is a recipe so easy that the yogurt practically makes itself! I have spent a lot of time feeling discouraged by rather involved yogurt recipes. This is not one of them. Here is a list of things you will NOT need:

a yogurt maker
a cheese thermometer
a special yogurt culture

… I know, right?

milk-pan-starter

This is box title

INGREDIENTS

  • Half a gallon of raw milk, or however much yogurt you want to make
  • Two tablespoons of your favorite plain Greek Yogurt

Directions

Pour the raw milk in a pot.
1. Pour the raw milk in a pot.
2. Place it on the stove on low heat.
2. Place it on the stove on low heat.

3. Warm the milk over the stove till it reaches about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can heat it up higher, but you run the risk of pasteurizing the milk. I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in eating pasteurized yogurt. Read more about the health risks associated with pasteurized dairy here.

How will you know when it's 100 degrees? This is going to be your thermometer. Yes, I have a twenty dollar cheese thermometer too, but do you know how much I use it? Never! Instead I do what my mama taught me when she would make delicious handmade cheese: wash your hands and feel the milk with your pinky. It should be a little warm -  if it's hot, you burned it.
How will you know when it’s 100 degrees? This is going to be your thermometer. Yes, I have a twenty dollar cheese thermometer too, but do you know how much I use it? Never! Instead I do what my mama taught me when she would make delicious handmade cheese: wash your hands and feel the milk with your pinky. It should be a little warm – if it’s hot, you burned it.
4. I use Nancy's Greek yogurt to inoculate my first batch. But you can use any plain Greek yogurt from a reputable source. Right now, I am in the process of looking for a good heirloom yogurt starter on line. I will keep you all updated if I find one! Do you know of any?
4. I use Nancy’s Greek yogurt to inoculate my first batch. But you can use any plain Greek yogurt from a reputable source. Right now, I am in the process of looking for a good heirloom yogurt starter on line. I will keep you all updated if I find one! Do you know of any?
5. Incorporate 1 tablespoon of the Greek Yogurt into your warm milk. If you are making less than half a gallon, you can even use less. Bacteria are amazing!
5. Incorporate 1 tablespoon of the Greek Yogurt into your warm milk. If you are making less than half a gallon, you can even use less. Bacteria are amazing!
6. Mix it well.
6. Mix it well.
7. Carefully clean some glass containers, using vinegar if you are concerned about their sanitation, in which to store and ferment the yogurt.
7. Carefully clean some glass containers, using vinegar if you are concerned about their sanitation, in which to store and ferment the yogurt.
8. Sometimes, just in case the yogurt starter did not get evenly distributed, I add just a little more, maybe a teaspoon, into each jar, just to me sure they all got enough.
8. Sometimes, just in case the yogurt starter did not get evenly distributed, I add just a little more, maybe a teaspoon, into each jar, just to me sure they all got enough.
9.There are two methods for the next step.

Option A – 
If you have an oven with a pilot light, you are lucky! Place the yogurt in your oven, without turning the heat on, for 10 – 15 hours, depending on how thick you want your yogurt.

Option B – This method is more involved but it works, if you don’t have an oven with a pilot light, or if you are planning to bake or cook on the stove top in the next 10 -15 hours. One of my dearest friends taught me this method. Thank you Nancy!

10. Place the jars in a crock pot.
10. Place the jars in a crock pot.
11. Heat up enough to cover the jars.
11. Heat up enough water to cover the jars.
2. Fill the crock pot with the hot water.
2. Fill the crock pot with the hot water.
13. Place it in a warm corner in your house. Don't plug it in! Even the low setting on the crock pot is too high for the sensitive yogurt cultures.
13. Place it in a warm corner in your house. Don’t plug it in! Even the low setting on the crock pot is too high for the sensitive yogurt cultures.

If you would like your yogurt to be really firm and creamy, change the water out with some more hot water after 5-6 hours. If the yogurt turns out kind of chunky but slightly runny at the same time, it will still taste delicious, but that means that it wasn’t warm enough.

I have found that the smoothest Greek yogurt I have gotten is by using Option A above, in the oven with a pilot light. Using Option B, you have to pay close attention to make sure your water doesn’t get too cool. Test it with your pinky. If it feels warm, the cultures are thriving. If it’s lukewarm, add hot water.

14. If your home is rather cold, like mine, layer a few towels, coats, and anything else on there that will help insulate the heat and keep the milk warm. I call it my yogurt baby.
14. If your home is rather cold, like mine, layer a few towels, coats, and anything else on there that will help insulate the heat and keep the milk warm. I call it my yogurt baby.

After fifteen hours of anticipation, there it is. Delicious, creamy Greek Yogurt. This time, with frozen blueberries and cinnamon. Recently, I have been taking it to work with me and mixing it with raw honey. It is perfect for snacks or breakfast on the run! Enjoy!

 

15. Remember, for your next batch, just use two tablespoons of this culture to inoculate the milk. After a while of doing this, you might just end up with your own heirloom yogurt culture, and all the health benefits that go with it! It all depends on the yogurt culture you start with. I have made yogurt with this batch a couple of times now successfully. I have read though that the starter can get weaker since it is based on store bought cultures. I have not experienced that yet but I am sure it can happen. That is why I am on the hunt for a good heirloom yogurt starter-:)
15. Remember, for your next batch, just use two tablespoons of this culture to inoculate the milk. After a while of doing this, you might just end up with your own heirloom yogurt culture, and all the health benefits that go with it! It all depends on the yogurt culture you start with. I have made yogurt with this batch a couple of times now successfully. I have read though that the starter can get weaker since it is based on store bought cultures. I have not experienced that yet but I am sure it can happen. That is why I am on the hunt for a good heirloom yogurt starter-:)

This was originally published in my blog: The Kitchen Rag: http://kitchen-rag.blogspot.com/

Homemade Shepherds Pie

///

Working full time and being a student and a wife keeps me pretty busy. So when it comes to making dinner, I try to choose easy and nutritious, but inexpensive meals that both my husband and I can have for lunch the next day. Shepherd’s Pie sometimes gets a bad rap, but we have found that doubling the meat, using less potatoes, and using a healthy serving of grass fed butter, fresh rosemary, farm fresh raw eggs, and raw milk help make this typically bland dish burst with rich flavors.

In fact, we have made this recipe for company and it has even become a frequently requested meal train favorite. The peas and the corn give it a sweetness that makes little ones ask for seconds and thirds. This particular pie was taken to a dear friend who recently had a baby.

Another added bonus to this particular recipe is that it is gluten free!

covershot

This is box title

Ingredient list:

  • One large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • One bag of frozen peas
  • One bag of frozen corn
  • 3 sticks of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
  • One can tomato paste
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of raw milk
  • A sprig of fresh Rosemary
  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Paprika
  • One cup of Sour Cream, optional

Makes six servings.

Directions

1. Chop the carrots and  onion into small pieces.
1. Chop the carrots and onion into small pieces.
2. In a large pan, melt 1/2 of a stick of butter.
2. In a large pan, melt 1/2 of a stick of butter.
3. Sautee the onions in the pan until golden brown.
3. Saute the onions in the pan until golden brown.
4. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Be careful not to overcook the beef; you will be baking it later.
4. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Be careful not to overcook the beef; you will be baking it later.
5. Add one 1-1/2 cup of tomato paste.
5. Add one 1-1/2 cup of tomato paste.
6. Add one teaspoon of cracked pepper and a 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
6. Add one teaspoon of cracked pepper and a 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
7. Finely chop a sprig of rosemary.
7. Finely chop a sprig of rosemary.
8. Add it to the meat sauce.
8. Add it to the meat sauce.

I love rosemary. It is such a versatile herb. I am never disappointed when I use fresh rosemary in my cooking. And if I pick too much off the bush, I place it in a cup with a little water and the smell refreshes the whole house. Did you know that fresh rosemary leaves are loaded with vitamin C, B complex and minerals? To read more about the health benefits of rosemary go here.

9. Pour in about two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, or however much you like. My hubby likes a lot!
9. Pour in about two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, or however much you like. My hubby likes a lot!
10. Add the frozen peas.
10. Add the frozen peas.
11. Then add the corn.
11. Then add the corn.
12. Mix well.
12. Mix well.
14. Scrub the potatoes clean.
14. Scrub the potatoes clean.
15. Chop them into a  few pieces and boil them for about 30 minutes, or until they slide of the fork.
15. Chop them into a few pieces and boil them for about 30 minutes, or until they slide of the fork.
16. Add three eggs, two sticks of butter, a 1/2 a cup of milk, and mash the potatoes..
16. Add three eggs, two sticks of butter, a 1/2 a cup of milk, and mash the potatoes..
17. In a large baking dish, add the meat and vegetable mix.
17. In a large baking dish, add the meat and vegetable mix.
18. Then spread the mashed potatoes on to to create a nice, thick layer.
18. Then spread the mashed potatoes on to to create a nice, thick layer.
19. Sprinkle on a generous dose of Paprika on top. We like the smoked kind. Place in the oven at 400 until it is warmed through and the top is golden brown.
19. Sprinkle on a generous dose of Paprika on top. We like the smoked kind. Place in the oven at 400 until it is warmed through and the top is golden brown.

Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream or not. As an Eastern European, I think everything tastes better with a little bit of sour cream ;-)

Originally published in my blog: The Kitchen Rag: http://kitchen-rag.blogspot.com/

Pofta Buna! Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

///

I did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving. The first time I partook of the celebration I was eighteen. My host parents had an amazing spread of food, all new to me; from the cranberry sauce to the pumpkin pie to the sweet potato casserole. It was a feast of unknown flavors, smells, and presentations. Several years later I became more familiar with the holiday and became intrigued with one dish in particular: stuffing. Probably because we don’t have stuffing as a traditional holiday food in Europe.

For the longest time I thought pre-packaged stuffing was more convenient than the homemade version. I was pleasantly surprised three years ago when I made my first batch of homemade stuffing that not only was it easy to make but I could tweak the recipe and use gluten free breads to lower the gluten dose in my meal. Are you interested in making you homemade stuffing this Thanksgiving? This is a recipe that is made with gluten free corn bread and sour dough spelt bread. Spelt is an ancient grain with a low gluten index. Since I am gluten sensitive I seem to tolerate it better than regular whole wheat or even rye bread. If you are trying to avoid a gluten coma this Thanksgiving but would like to eat stuffing with the rest of your family, here is an easy recipe.

PART 1 – GLUTEN FREE CORNBREAD

1. Heat the oven 375 degrees.

2. Combine two cups of corn meal, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

3. Add two eggs.

4. Next you will need two cups of buttermilk.

You can make your own buttermilk by adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of raw milk and let sit for ten minutes.

5. Add it to the mixture and mix well.

6. Butter your cast iron pan.

7. Pour the mixture in.

8. Bake for fifteen minutes or until golden on top. To test if it’s done, stick a toothpick in and see if it comes out dry. You can of course add 1/2 of honey to make it sweet. For this purpose I wanted to make the stuffing more savory so I opted for no honey.

This is my favorite brand of spelt bread. I buy this bread rather than making it because it tastes amazing and it is better than what I can make at home. It has a great ingredient list: sourdough culture, whole grain spelt flour, sea salt, water, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds. (For my Eugenian readers, you can buy this at Sundance for six dollars.)

PART 2 – STUFFING

1. Cut bread into small cubes.

2. Cut corn bread into small cubes.

About the size of croutons.

3. Spread them out on baking dishes about one layer think and stick them in the oven for ten minutes or until dry and crunchy.

4.While the croutons are drying in the oven, chop up a head of celery,

5. one sweet onion,

7. a sprig of fresh rosemary,

8. and a bunch of parsley.

9. Saute everything in butter until onions are golden brown.

I am a fan of nitrate free bacon and you should be too. Nitrates are toxic and you should keep them far far away from your liver. Luckily, companies will tell you if their bacon doesn’t have nitrates, though usually not if they do. Always look on the package.

10. Sautee ten pieces of bacon (or however much bacon you would like in your stuffing).

11. Slice it into small pieces.

12. Take the croutons out of the oven and place them in a mixing bowl.

13. Combine with the bacon, sweet onions, celery, and fresh herbs.

14. Mix well and add to a baking pan.

15. You have the option of stuffing your bird with this.

Or pour some home made chicken broth and bake it in the oven. If you opt for this latter step I would check and add more broth after twenty minutes in the oven or if it looks like it needs some extra moisture.

Happy Thanksgiving!

During this season of blessings I am thankful for my husband, my family, my community and my readers. You all have contributed to my growth as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a blogger.

Thank You!

via The Kitchen Rag: Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe.

Pofta Buna!: Mini Coconut Pumpkin Muffins

//
Recent studies have linked high-fructose corn syrup to Autism, vegetable oil to heart disease, and white flour to Type 2 Diabetes.

For the last couple of weeks I have seen many of these cards on my Facebook news feed. While they are supposed to invoke humor, they are posing a serious question: What are we feeding little kids on Halloween? It would be nice if we were able to avoid the high-fructose corn syrup, hidden vegetable oil, and acetone in Halloween candy.

I am not trying to say you should give your child a tablespoon of fermented cod liver oil as a treat for Halloween. But I would like to encourage vigilance about what we offer little ones when they come knocking at out door. Recent studies have linked high-fructose corn syrup to Autism, vegetable oil to heart disease, and white flour to Type 2 Diabetes. We can all try to be creative and avoid some of the worst offenders on the market.

As a sign of solidarity to everyone making an attempt to greet trick-or-treaters with wholesome, yummy desserts, I am offering a simple recipe for nutritious, minimally processed, gluten free, mini coconut pumpkin muffins with colorful, homemade cream cheese frosting. In today’s society, there are safety reasons for not giving homemade treats to neighborhood kids on Halloween. So I am not encouraging you to do that. But you can at least give these treats to your friends and family!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Ingredients

Muffins

• 1 cup of pureed roasted pumpkin

• 3/4 cups of coconut flour

• 1/2 cup coconut nectar

• 8 eggs

• 2 teaspoons of Vanilla

• 1/2 cup shredded coconut

• 1/4 teaspoons of salt

• 1 teaspoon of baking Soda

Frosting

• 16 ounces of cream cheese

• 1/2 teaspoon of coconut nectar

• 4-5 tbsp beet juice

• 4-5 tbsp carrot juice

• 1/4 of an avocado

Makes about 40 mini muffins

Directions

You will need one pumpkin. You can choose to buy a can of pumpkin puree, but where is the fun in that? With the leftovers you can make pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin custard, even pumpkin smoothies! It has been a pumpkin week in the Glasser household. We are definitely eating in season! From a nutritional standpoint pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. According to George Mateljan,

Pumpkin is one of the most concentrated vegetable sources of alpha-linoleic acid ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is very good for health. The deep orange color is reflective of the carotenoid phyto-nutrients-alpha caronetene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta cryptoxanthin-that it contains. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin A, it is also a good source of vitamin C.  It also contains free-radical scavenging manganese and copper, energy producing B1 and B5, and sleep promoting trypthophan.” (From The World’s Healthiest Foods, p. 242)

If you don’t have time, pumpkin puree is fine for this recipe. However, the nutrient content will not be the same.

1. Perforate your pumpkin all over with a fork and place in the oven on a cookie sheet.

2. Bake it for an hour or so, or until it is soft throughout.

3. Peel the outside. This was probably my favorite part!

4. Once it is all peeled, slice it open and remove the seeds.

This is what was left after I peeled, sliced, and removed all pumpkin seeds.

You can always save the pumpkin seeds for a snack later. They are a great support for joint and prostrate health.

5. Place the sliced up pumpkin pieces in a large bowl.

6. Puree the pumpkin using a hand-held blender or food processor.

The finished pumpkin puree:

7. Combine 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract with 1 cup of pumpkin puree.

8. Combine the pumpkin mixture with half a cup of extra virgin raw coconut oil and eight eggs. Coconut is a great source of medium chain fatty acids which has antimicrobial, anti fungal, and antioxidant properties.

I like this kind of coconut oil best because it is never heated above 115 degrees and it is sold by a local distributor:

9. Add half a cup of coconut nectar to the pumpkin mixture.

Coconut nectar has a very low glycemic index — lower than maple syrup and commercial honey. It contains about 17 amino acids and is high in zink, potassium, and iron. However, it can be replaced with honey or maple syrup if you prefer.

10. Mix the wet ingredients with 3/4 cups of coconut flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

The coconut flour will expand significantly:

11. Next, add half a cup of shredded coconut.

Now you can officially start tasting the dough!

12. Line the muffins tins with these adorable, unbleached, chlorine-free baking cups. You do not need to use any oils or spay on the tins.

13. Use a cookie dough scooper to get these tiny guys in.

14. Place them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. In the meantime you can begin the process of making homemade food coloring from beet juice and carrot juice. Wash the carrots and peel the beets. I got way too much produce for this process. I could have done with only a third of what I had — unless, like me, you like drinking beet, lime, and carrot juice while you are cooking.

15. Juice your veggies separately, carrots first, then rinse the juicer before juicing the beets, in order to avoid mixing the colors. I am not a big fan of artificial food coloring. While these colors are not as exciting as some of the crazy artificial neon food coloring I saw at the store, I would much rather ingest vitamin C, A, and Beta-Carotene than Hexane and Acetone.

(Remember to compost!)

16. Take the muffins out and let them cool off.

17. While they are cooling, blend 1/2 a cup of the cream cheese with 4-5 tablespoons of beet juice and 1/4 cup of coconut nectar or honey.

18. Blend  the other half of the cream cheese with 4-5 tbsp of carrot juice and 1/4 cup of coconut nectar.

19. You can use a pastry decorating bag to apply the colorful swirls of cream cheese frosting on top of the muffins. (Unfortunately I was not able to capture this step due to the large amount of cream cheese frosting all over my hands.)

20. Greet your friends and family this holiday with nutritious, minimally processed, gluten free muffins, full of healthy, medium chain fatty-acids and lots of good vitamins! Pofta Buna!

Pofta Buna!: Roasted Chicken with Gluten Free Gravy

///
Roasted Chicken with Gluten Free Gravy.

I love roasted chicken. But I love gravy with roasted chicken even more. This is a simple recipe I enjoy making on a regular basis because (1) it tastes delicious, (2) it has healthy saturated fats, (3) it is great for leftovers, and (4) the gravy is gluten free.

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

• 2-3 pounds of farm-raised chicken

• 1/2 cup of unsalted Kerrygold butter or olive oil

• 2-3 tsp dried or fresh rosemary

• 1 tsp paprika

• 1/2 lemon

• 2 tsp freshly ground pepper

• 1 tsp Celtic sea salt

• 1/2 onion

Directions

1. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Rinse the chicken with filtered water if available and then pat it dry with a paper towel.

3. While it dries out completely, heat the butter. If you are using olive oil you do not need to heat it up.

4. Once the butter is heated, add the ground pepper, sea salt, paprika, and rosemary. Then squeeze the lemon into it.

5. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and then insert the squeezed lemon and the half onion inside the chicken cavity.

6. Pour the butter all over the bird. Make sure it gets completely coated.

7. If the bird is larger than 2-3 pounds or you simply enjoy more butter, feel free to use 3/4 of a cup instead of 1/2 a cup.

8. Place the bird in the oven and cook it for about 50 to 60 minutes.

9. When it is done let it sit for 5-10 minutes before carving. Otherwise you will lose a lot of its juices and burn your hands.

You can cook the chicken whole as I describe  above or you can choose to separate the wings, thighs, and breast. In that case, place the chicken in a pan, covered with the butter or olive oil, and then stick it in the oven. The reason I sometimes choose this option is because I want to use the raw chicken carcass for chicken stock. I have noticed that the broth made with cooked chicken bones is not as dense and gelatinous. Less gelatin means less collagen — which reduces the magical powers of a good broth.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50-60 minutes
Servings: 5-6

Gravy

Ingredients

For dairy free gravy, replace milk with chicken broth.

• All the pan drippings from the baked chicken

• 3 tbsp of almond meal/flour

• 2 tsp of tapioca flour or arrow root powder

• 1/2 tsp of Celtic sea salt

• 1/2 to 2 cups of milk (for dairy free gravy, replace milk with chicken broth)

Directions

1. Pour all the drippings from the baked chicken into a pan. You can also add the juices from the inside of the chicken once you remove the lemon and onion. You can even scrape out all the brown bits. They will be delicious in the end result.

2. Turn the heat to medium high and add the three tablespoons of almond meal/flour. Stir with a wire whisk until the almond flour and the drippings turn into a bubbly paste.

3. Add the milk slowly and turn the heat to medium.

4. Blend the tapioca flour with 1/3 cup of water and add it. It will help thicken the gravy.

5. Reduce for about five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally

6. Serve immediately on top of the chicken. I like to serve this meal with garlicky mashed potatoes, cream of spinach, green beans, or creamed cauliflower.

7. Pofta Buna!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 5-6

Pofta Buna!: Bacon and Sweet Corn Chowder

///
Bacon and Sweet Corn Chowder.

The first time I made this soup it was a total accident. We had some random ingredients in our fridge and I had to come up with something to feed my hungry husband. The results were so delicious that I have begun to make it regularly ever since. It’s full of saturated fats and very hearty. It works great as leftovers, too.

Ingredients:

• 6-8 slices of nitrate free, organic bacon, chopped

• 1 large sweet onion, thinly chopped

• 4 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes, finely chopped

• About 2 quarts of homemade chicken broth

• 2 cups of organic, preferably raw, whole milk

• 1 cup of organic, preferably raw, heavy cream

• 1/2 cup raw cheddar, optional

• 2 cups sweet corn, fresh or frozen

• 2-3 tsp of sea salt

• 2-3 tsp of black crushed pepper

• 1 tsp turmeric

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 hungry people

Disclaimer:

When you begin making this soup you may add more or less of some of the ingredients. It really does depend on your taste buds and the flavors that you and your family enjoy. You might want a more brothy, less creamy consistency; you might want more or less bacon. This recipe gives you a framework to work with. Feel free to taste the soup while it is simmering and add more or less broth, cream, cheese, or bacon.

Directions:

1. Slice the bacon into small pieces.

2. Dice the onions.

3. Dice the potatoes…

…like this…

4. In the pan in which you intend to cook the soup, fry the chopped bacon. When at the desired crispyness, remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pot.

5. Throw the onions in the bacon fat and cook them until they are translucent.

6. Add the salt, pepper, and turmeric.

7. Add the homemade chicken broth and potatoes.

This is where I stopped taking pictures of the rest of the steps. I got too distracted tasting the soup and munching on bacon bits. So sorry!

8. Let it simmer for twenty minutes or until potatoes are cooked all the way through.

9. Right before the potatoes reach perfect done-ness, add the milk, cream, corn, bacon, and cheese.

10. Let it simmer for ten minutes.

11. Pofta Buna!

Pofta Buna!: Fruit Roll-Ups and Plum Butter

///

These last couple of weeks have been rich with harvest. Happy Fall everyone! The other day I was making plum butter, tomato sauce, and pumpkin soup, when one of William Blake’s poems came to mind:

[gn_quote style=”1″]
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
(Excerpt from the poem “To Autumn”)
[/gn_quote]

And Autumn has truly been singing “the lusty song of fruits” to us in the form of huge quantities of plums! At first I tried to eat as many fresh plums as I could. I like to abide by the rule of eating foods that are in season. But after a while I realized that I wasn’t making too much progress on the huge bowl sitting on our counter. I also abide by another rule: don’t to let food go to waist. However neither my husband nor I are huge fans of jam due to its high amount of sugar. Fortunately for us, our friend and house-mate Naomi showed us how to make fruit roll-ups and plum butter that contain only one ingredient: plums!

According to George Mateljan (2007),

Plums provide powerful antioxidant protection in both fresh and dehydrated form. They contain a high amounts of unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid. These damage-preventing substances are effective in neutralizing a particularly destructive oxygen radical called super oxide anion radical. These antioxidants have also been shown to help prevent oxygen-based damage to fats, such as the fats that compromise a substantial portion of our brain cells, the cholesterol and triglycerides circulating in our bloodstream and the fats that make up our cell membranes.” (From The World’s Healthiest Foods, Page 425)

After reading this information about the health benefits of plums I got even more invested in the project of preparing the plums!

1. We began the process by washing the delicious fruit. Remember to eat some of them in the process. It is an absolute requirement for this recipe.

2. Then we took out all the pits, which makes it even easier to throw some in your mouth while you’re working. They looked beautiful, and we had bowls and bowls of them.

(I don’t do anything with the pits. They all got composted, but they looked so pretty that I decided to take a picture of them.)

3. Begin by blending the plums in a food processor.

4. Pour the liquid into a large pot and place on the stove at low heat.

5. Simmer it for a couple of hours, scraping the bottom of the pot often.

6. When the consistency of the sauce thickens up, after about three hours, turn off the heat and let it cool down. You can use half of the plums for fruit rolls ups and half for plum butter.  For plum butter just place the pot with the half of the plum mixture back on the stove and simmer it for another two hours to thicken it up more. Then leave it to cool off on the counter before you ladle it in a mason jar and place it in the refrigerator. Enjoy it with toast, pancakes, cheese and crackers.

7. Place the second part of the plum mixture onto a dehydrator. You will need the type of dehydrator that has plastic sheets.

8. Dry in the dehydrator for about eight hours, or until plum mixture is firm and supple.

 9. Peel it off gingerly. Our friend was a pro at this. I broke my fruit roll up while I was peeling it off.

 10. Place plastic wrap underneath it.

 11. Roll it up gently.

 12. Voila! Fruit rolls-ups you can store in the pantry and snack on any time. Due to my sensitivity to sugar, I can’t eat desert very often. Fruit roll ups are a wonderful, healthier alternative. However, they do have plenty of fructose so I try to eat them only in moderation.  The only ingredient on the list is plums! Check out the ingredient list on the commercial fruit roll-ups at the store! They contain both partially hydrogenated cotton seed oil and high fructose corn syrup as well as a plethora of other unnatural ingredients.

I don’t know about you, but my vote goes to these homemade snacks. They are easy to make, delicious, and if you have any left-over plum mixture, you can make more plum butter! This afternoon I had some time for a delicious cup of tea and a piece of sourdough spelt toast spread with plum butter. Yumm!

13. Pofta Buna!

Pofta Buna!: Sunday Morning Smoothie

///

My husband and I came up with this recipe on a Sunday morning after the sad realization that we had no eggs and bacon in the fridge. We gathered all of the ingredients we had left in our fridge and in our fruit basket and decided to make a smoothie. The result was absolute deliciousness!

This recipe has a ton of nutrients and good fats to last you until lunch time. Avocados are a great addition to smoothies; they contain Folic Acid, Vitamin E, K, B5, B6, Potassium, and monounsaturated fats that help increase the HDL, good cholesterol, levels in the bloodstream.

Ingredients:

• 2 Cucumbers

• 1 Pear

• 2 Avocados

• 2 cups of frozen blueberries

• 1 cup of raw cream, if dairy intolerant you can replace the cream with coconut milk or just make extra cucumber and pear juice. You will probably have to double the juice recipe.

Directions:

1. Wash all the produce.

2. De-seed the avocados and pears.

3. Juice the cucumbers and the pear.

4. In a blender, add the fresh pear and cucumber juice, frozen blueberries, avocados, and raw cream, and blend until uniform smooth texture.

5. Drink immediately.

6. Pofta Buna!

Pro Tip:

We often pick up fruits and vegetables from the reduced sale box at both Capella and Sundance. At home we try to combine the veggies and fruits we have for delicious juices and smoothies. The cucumbers we used that day cost us a dollar and the pear fifty cents. Find out if your local grocery store has reduced sale box or suggest to them to start one. It helps if you are on a budget!

Prep Time: 5 min.

Serves: 2

Pofta Buna!: Pizza with Gluten Free Dough

//

pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. It is easy to throw together, delicious, and, if done correctly, can be very healthy too! Conventional pizza crust, while it can be absolutely delightful, especially if made by a master baker, doesn’t do all that well after it goes down the hatch. The starches and gluten cause terrible inflammation.

Fortunately for me and my husband, I discovered Natasha Campbell’s almond flour dough recipe. Since then it seems like we make pizza every chance we get! After dinner I never experience indigestion. The pizza is every bit as delightful in its own way, as if it had been made with the finest Italian bread. The dough is very simple and a good deal easier to make. You don’t have to use yeast or wait hours for it to rise. I have also made some slight alterations to the recipe to make the crust less thick and cracker-like.

This is a great meal for entertaining friends, left-over lunches, or if you are a little rushed. The best part is that you will be eating almonds which are full of Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin E, and anti-oxidants, whole milk mozzarella, full of Calcium, Phosphorus, and healthy saturated fats, delicious meats, and fresh vegetables full of phyto-nutrients.

Enjoy!

Dough

Ingredients:

  • 2-2/12 cups almond meal/flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1tsp Celtic Salt
Directions:
  1. Turn the oven to 375 Degrees.
  2. Mix the 3 cups of flour with 2 eggs, butter and salt in a bowl
  3. Place the ball of dough on a pizza stone.
  4. Get you hands wet and push the dough down on the baking dish.
  5. Place the crust in for 7-10 minutes.
  6. Take it out and pile up the toppings.

This second part is written by my husband. He likes to handle everything above the crust.

Pizza

This is a somewhat unique take on pizza that I developed to suit my personal inclinations, both nutritionally and culinarily. It’s hearty and emphasizes the toppings while deemphasizing the crust. It’s built in layers, sort of like lasagna, and recalls the cuisine of Sicilian American immigrants. Break out your knife and fork for this one.

Ingredients:

  • Almond Flour Pizza Dough
  • 1 can Pizza Sauce (Muir Glenn makes my favorite, but props for making your own)
  • 1 lb whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar pepperoncinis or cherry peppers (watch out for food coloring and preservatives)
  • About 20 crimini mushrooms
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 Onion
  • ¼ lb Salami (Gypsy is my favorite)
  • ½ lb Italian sausage or thinly shaved ham (Applegate, or Deck Family on a good day)
  • Seasoning (oregano, basil, fennel, red pepper flakes)

Directions:

1. Lightly butter the baking pan, then press the almond flour dough onto the surface, spreading it as eveny and thinly across the whole pan as you can. Don’t worry about forming a crust up onto the sides very much.

preparing the crust

2. Pre-bake the crust for about 5-7 minutes, or until mostly dry on the surface.

3. While pre-baking, dice up ham, salami, onion, olives, mushrooms, peppers, and grate cheese. If using Italian sausage, form into silver dollar sized patties and bake with crust (not pictured).

4. Add half the can of tomato sauce to the crust, and gently spread across surface. The crust should be mostly visible through the sauce.

5. Load up the sauce with seasoning to taste.

6. Divide your toppings in half. Add 1 half of the diced toppings (ham or sausage, salami, onion, olives, mushrooms, peppers).

7. Add the 1st half of the cheese on top of the toppings.

8. Add the rest of the sauce (plus more seasoning if you like) on top of the toppings. Then add the 2nd half of the toppings. Then add the 2nd half of the cheese.

9. Give it a good press, kind of like a big sandwich.

10. Bake at 350’ for about 40 min, or until heated throughout and golden brown on top.

11. Pofta Buna!

Time:

25 min prep
40 min cook

Serves:  4