Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Anatomy of a Real Food Dinner with recipes....sortof.

First, I promised that my next post would be book reviews.  but I've discovered something.   That something is that book reviews are hard to do.   I'm still working on them, but in the meantime, I wanted to post these "recipes".  

I used quotation marks because as recipes go, these are not professional.  In fact, I've been putting off posting my recipes, because so many of them aren't written like recipes.  

Here's the deal - I am a cook.  I love to cook.  I was raised in a family where cooking was what we did.  Everyone in my family is a good cook.  But the way that we cook is intuitive.  We do it by taste, by sight, by feel, by past success and failure, and by this knowing down deep about what works and what doesn't. 

I know that when I talk about the food I make, people want the recipes - and I just cringe inside when I get those requests.  Recipes?  What recipes?  I don't have recipes for most of what I make.  For this blog,  I've mostly done baking type of recipes so far...because those are the recipes that I have.  But here's the irony of that - I don't like to bake.  I only bake because I love my family, and they love baked goods.  I can bake, but baking doesn't relax me, or bring me joy, or give me the sense of creativity or satisfaction that I get when I am in the kitchen just cooking.   I bake because I love my guys, but I cook because it's a part of me.    
One night this week, I made chicken apple meatballs in an apple cider sauce.  First time I'd ever made them, although the idea of them had been swirling around in my mind for some time.   Then I made a cauliflower casserole type thingy....based on a make-ahead mashed potato recipe.   So, although I don't really have recipes, I'm going to try to recreate the process of making this meal.  It was really good.  My big guy and my little guy both had seconds at dinner, and my big guy wanted to make sure there were enough leftovers for his lunch the next day. 

For the meatballs, I started with:

1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. ground pork.   (I had intended to use all ground chicken, but realized I'd pulled pork out of the freezer, that's what I used.)
1 large apple - peeled and finely chopped.  (I used a honey crisp apple)
1 large egg
3 slices of dried bread, ground into crumbs.
about 1/3 -1/2 cup of chicken broth.  (I make chicken bone broth, and used that)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, minced onion (okay - I should have used fresh chopped onion, but I didn't think about adding onion until my hands were deep into the ground meat mixture.  It was easier to reach for the dried minced onion at that point.)  For the spices - I really have no idea how much - start with about 1/2 teas. of each and adjust to taste from there.  Ummmm, yeah - I do taste the raw meat while I'm cooking.  :)
Anyway - mix that all up really well.  I use my hands and squish it all through and knead it.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of playing with my food that way.  :D    Once it's all mixed really well.  I use my large cookie scoop (it's 3 Tbls.) and make meatballs.  You should have between 20-24 meatballs to fill a 9x13 baker. 
Once the meatballs are all in the baker, make your sauce.   I used 1 cup of chicken broth (more from the same batch that I used above.  I freeze it in pint jars - 2 cups of broth per jar.) and 1 1/2 cups of apple cider mixed with a couple good drizzles of raw honey, and a good dollop of Dijon mustard.  (probably about 2 teas. of mustard.  maybe more.)   Mix this all together with a whisk, and then pour over the meatballs.   Bake, uncovered,  at 375 for 30 minutes, then flip the meatballs and bake for another 30 minutes.   Remove the meatballs from the baker, and pour the sauce through a strainer into a saucepan, and heat to boiling.   Mix some thickener ( I use arrowroot powder, but use what ever works for you - cornstarch, flour, tapioca starch...) with a couple Tbls. of apple cider, and whisk into boiling sauce, stirring until thickened.  Serve sauce with meatballs.

There - that's the first recipe.   Tomorrow, I'll post the Cauliflower Casserole that reminds me of mashed potatoes, but my son says it's just like macaroni and cheese - only healthier!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What I Did This Summer

Obviously, what I didn't do was blog.  I thought about blogging a lot, and I wrote down lots of ideas for topics, and worked on many new recipes, but those lazy, hazy days of Summer never happened for me - although there were a lot of CRAZY days!

So as a preview of some upcoming posts, I wanted to give everyone a rundown of what I did this Summer, and what will be coming!

1.  I planted and harvested my first raised bed garden.  I'll be sharing some of the highs and lows of that venture - but all in all, it was a successful gardening year for me!

2.  I explored baking more with coconut flour and almond flour, and also mixing non-grain flours.  Some great recipes have come from that!  (and yes, I'll be sharing them.)

3.  I used my dehydrator for jerky, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and herbs.   I'm in love with my dehydrator now!

4.  I read several really good books - some that I now consider MUST reads if you are interested at all in Nutrition, and how food affects our mental, emotional, and physical health.  My next post will be full of book reviews!

5.  I went camping twice, and also made a trip to Chicago.

6.  I nursed my son back to health after his surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids.

7.  My little guy and I picked strawberries, and cherries, and attempted blueberries one day.

8.  Cherries and Strawberries are in the freezer, along with several quart bags of green beans.  Peaches and Salsa are canned...with much more to come in the preserving adventures!  (we've only just begun!)

9. I BOUGHT A COW SHARE!!!   Yes, I know that was all caps - but that just shows my joy, and downright giddiness at finally buying a cow share and having FRESH, RAW MILK!   Whooo HOOOO!   I think this is the #1 best thing that I did for my family's health this summer!

10.  I rendered lard and tallow for the first time - and learned some valuable lessons about following instructions along the way!

11. I remodeled my kitchen.  (And by "I" what I really mean is my fabulous, wonderful, extremely talented, and very cute husband remodeled my kitchen.  I supervised.  And picked colors and textures.)  What I'm most excited about is my INCREDIBLE new sink.  It's my dream sink.

12.  I seriously worked on my vitamin D intake.  All in the name of health, of course.

I think there was probably more that I did, but this will keep me going with blog post for quite a while - so I think I'll wrap it up for today.   Be sure and leave a message for me, and tell me what you did for this summer!  I'd love to hear!