Friday, June 29, 2012

Going to Ground

The blog is going to be a quiet for the next few days.  Tally has gotten sick (after a really nice long run of good health.)  She's got another stomach bug and the Vet recommends that I prepare her meals for her until she is eating normally again.  I've got a chicken, vegetable and rice stew simmering now.  Once it's cooled, I'll add canned pumpkin.  I hope she likes it. 

My leg has been bothering me a lot this week and I have to work all weekend, which I'm sort of dreading because of leaving Tally and my stupid leg.  Standing for 6+ hours is not ideal but it is what it is.  Rob will be here with my baby, so that makes me feel better.

I've ordered some arch support inserts specifically made for knee issues and a knee support sleeve on the recommendation from my Chiro since I keep having setbacks.  I also ordered a pair of sandals with good arch support because I can't be wearing sneakers or closed shoes all day in this heat.  We're heading to triple digits for the next few days, joy.  

The sandals are purple and really cute. 

I hope you all have a great weekend and I'll be back soonish.  Be well, stay cool and send healing vibes to Shady Dame!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cheers Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron gave us some of the lovliest, most quotable films. I cannot count the times I've enjoyed When Harry Met Sally or Julie & Julia. But more than that, Nora Ephron was a foodie and according to this gem, a kindred spirit...

“I don't think any day is worth living without thinking about what you're going to eat next at all times.”
― Nora Ephron

Cheers Ms. Ephron.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Use that Broth~ Awesome Enchiladas

Ahhh, enchiladas, I love them.  Saucy, cheesy, creamy, spicy.  But so heavy and loaded with sodium when I prepared them the old way.  Thick flour tortillas, store bought rotisserie chicken, a big tub of sour cream, store bought sauce, tons of cheese.  

Not these, a lighter hand with the cheese, lots of vegetables and a fresh, homemade sauce.  And not only does this recipe use bone broth, but also the juicy chicken meat from the pot.  These are the best enchiladas I have ever eaten.  It is a little bit of a process but it isn't difficult at all.  The results are well beyond the effort.  I made the sauce and filling early in the day and popped them in the fridge until I was ready to assemble and bake. 


Awesome Enchiladas
makes 4 servings of 2 enchiladas per person
Oven to 400 F

Ingredients and method

8 small size tortillas, I use a thin white corn and whole wheat version
1 cup of shredded cheese (I used a blend of sharp cheddar, mozzarella and cotija)

For the awesome enchilada sauce 
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon each paprika, whole cumin seeds, dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon each cayenne pepper, smoked chipotle pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 poblano peppers, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
one cup chicken stock
2 cups tomato puree
the juice of two limes

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add all the spices, stirring to combine and bring out all the flavors.  Add the onion, garlic, poblano and jalapeno.  Saute for a few minutes then stir in the stock and tomato puree.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until all the veggies are tender.  Remove from heat, stir in lime juice.  Check seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed.  Process sauce in Vitamix until smooth.   Set aside.

For the "hidden veggies"**
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 medium summer squash, shredded
1 large portabello mushroom cap, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 poblano pepper, finely diced

**you could put everything in a food processor/chopper and just whiz it all together

Saute vegetables gently in one tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch of salt until all the water is evaporated.  This is important, if you skip pre-cooking the vegetables the enchiladas will be a watery, soggy mess. 

For the filling
2 cups chopped cooked chicken meat from the broth pot
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (reserve some for garnishing the plates)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup shredded cotija cheese
cooked "hidden veggies" mixture 

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl, stirring to combine.

To assemble the dish, spread a light layer of enchilada sauce (about 1 cup) on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.  Fill each of the tortillas with 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling, roll them up and place them in the dish.  I had some filling leftover, so don't worry you don't use it all. 


Top the filled tortillas with sauce, cover them well, but don't make them swim.  I used about 2 cups.  I had some leftover sauce, too.  Top with cheese.


Bake covered for 20 minutes, bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  I broiled the top for about 3 minutes to make sure the cheese was nice and bubbly.





Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Devour!


The leftover filling and sauce did not go to waste.  I put the filling in a bowl, topped it with sauce and heated it up for a quick lunch.  The last of the sauce got mixed with Greek yogurt and cilantro as a spicy sauce for fish tacos.

I really hope you'll try this recipe.  Let me know if you do.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Use that Broth~ Uncanned Creamy Tomato Soup

Happy, happy, happy Friday!  I just had my fourth and final (for now) workout session with Tyler.  It was an absolute pleasure working with him.  During the last two workouts, we went through the next phase of Female Body Breakthrough, workouts A and B respectively.  He helped me make the modifications for my right leg, checked my form and gave me lots of very useful tips.  He also told me that he's there if I need him for questions even though we've finished our sessions.  How refreshing.  Unlike the weather, bleah, it is hot!

Not too hot for broth, though.  So, now you've made your broth, what to do with it?  Rob's favorite soup is the English version of Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup.   It is delicious and I wanted to replicate it.  Rob declared it "spot on!"


Uncanned Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of crushed red pepper
one quart of chicken broth
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (if you can get Pastene Kitchen Ready, do!)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
8 ounces of cream, half and half or Greek yogurt

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent and tender, but don't get any color on them.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and softened.  Stir in the crushed red pepper.  Pour in the broth and tomatoes.  Bring to gentle boil, turn down the heat and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup and salt and pepper to taste.  You shouldn't need much salt if any.  Remove pan from heat and stir in cream.  Process soup in Vitamix (or blender or food processor or use an immersion blender) until silky smooth and creamy.  Devour!

This soup freezes beautifully.  You can also customize it by adding some fresh basil leaves and grated pecorino cheese before blending.  It tastes like pizza that way!



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Broth, the Essence of Nutritious and Delicious

There was a time when I didn't know how to make broth.  I would just use the stuff that came in cartons.  But as a foodie I knew that rich, flavorful stock is the basis of many delicious recipes so I  added broth making to my skill set.  I've always known that homemade broth is healthy but "bone broth," as traditional food enthusiasts refer to it, is a nutrition powerhouse.  Why do you think chicken soup makes you feel better when you're poorly?  It's not because of the chicken or the vegetables.  It's the BONES!  (Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not a sous chef.)

Sally Fallon Morrel, author of Nourishing Traditions wrote a wonderful article called "Broth is Beautiful" that is a must read. 
"Good broth will resurrect the dead," says a South American proverb. Said Escoffier: "Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done."

Really great chefs and home cooks are lost without long simmered broth.  It is absolutely crucial for adding deep, rich flavor to soups, stews, sauces, gravies, reductions and for cooking flavorful grains and beans.  And how very healthy bone broth is makes it the essential nutritious and delicious food.

The health benefits of are many and varied, I'm starting to know learn some first hand. Good quality bones are loaded with minerals and gelatin and other crucial nutrients.  With the  addition of an acid like vinegar to the stock pot these nutrients will leach out of the bones and into the broth.  We consume the broth and all of these lovely, health-giving goodies are readily absorbed by our bodies.

Broth will boost the immune system.

Broth will heal digestive and intestinal damage so that the body can absorb more nutrients from food.

Broth contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals which are vital for bone health (between all the broth I'm consuming and the trace mineral supplement I've adde,d my once thin, peeling nails are like rocks and growning like weeds, I can just imagine what it's doing for my bones.)

The gelatin content in broth  supports joint health, broth is a natural source of glucosamine and condroitin.

The collagen and elastin go to work on our connective tissue as well as do wonderful things to our skin.  Cosmetic companies have made billions selling collagen elastin skin creams to those of us who want firm beautiful skin.  Save your money, drink some broth!  I've even read that broth consumption can help reduce the appearance of cellulite.  This I can't confirm, but broth has done some beautiful things for my skin.

Additional information can be found in this informative post from Traditional Foods.

So, how much broth?  I aim to drink two large coffee mugs per day in addition to getting into the meals we eat.  I'll follow up this post with some of my recipes that incorporate bone broth.

The easiest way of having this nutritious and delicious elixir on hand is Jenny's perpetual soup method found on her Nourished Kitchen blog.  You just need a slow cooker.

Plop in the best quality chicken you can afford (four pounds is a manageable size.) Add some vegetable scraps or a couple of carrots, a couple of celery ribs, one onion.  Toss in a teaspoon of salt, a handful of peppercorns, cover with filtered water and pour in a couple tablespoons vinegar.  Put the lid on and set it to high.


Don't forget the parsley!

 

After about four hours, pull the chicken out.  (You'll know the chicken is done when the joints wiggle really easily and the juices run clear.  Don't make the mistake of cooking the chicken too long.  My first time with this method, I cooked the chicken for 24 hours on low and the meat was dry and mushy and not delicious.)

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, harvest all that juicy, flavorful meat.  Put the bones back in the pot, adding more water if needed.  Set the pot to low and in 20 hours the broth is ready to drink and cook with.  The trick is, each time you take some broth from the pot, you add back the same amount of water and additional seasoning if needed.  I do this for the next six days.

 

Any broth left over goes into mason jars.  Then I start again with a fresh chicken.

 

This method yields a deep, rich broth.  Sometimes I roast the chicken instead and just put the bones in the pot with all the other ingredients set the pot to low and in 24 hours the broth is ready.  

If you have any doubt about the goodness of the bones going into the broth, have a look at this...



Chicken bones turn to dust in my fingers!

Stay tuned for some ideas for broth and chicken.  As always, questions and comments are most welcome.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Farmer's Market Tuesday

Busy day today, I was up and out early to the farmer's market. I missed last week because of my leg issues so I was excited to go.  


I whipped up a green smoothie "to go."  This was a small ripe banana, two big handfuls of spinach, one cup of raw kefir and two scoops of brown rice protein powder.  Surprisingly good staying power for a smoothie.



Kennesaw farmer's market.   I will miss this when we move.  The vendors are all so nice and the produce is always fresh and delicious.  Speaking of vendors...


Josh of Backyard Beddie's selling me a big bag of heirloom pole beans.  Josh uses no sprays or fertilizer on any of his produce and he always has such unusual varieties.   I can't wait to cook the beans up, they are delicate, tender and very fresh and green tasting.  They have pretty purple striations on them.




Here's my take, I spent $28.50.  Two dozen local farm eggs, heirloom pole beans, a fat stripey squash, two basil plants (that I potted this afternoon,) half dozen ears sweet white corn, a cantaloupe, peaches, a slicing cucumber, a sweet green chile pepper, the first pattypan squashes of the season and some beautiful red, gold and orange tomatoes.


This came from Publix, where I headed after the farmer's market, it's a long pepper.  I needed a hot pepper for my salsa.  How could I not buy this?  "S" is for Spicy!  After I cleaned out the fridge and put all my shopping away, it was time for lunch.


The clean out the fridge dipping platter.  The last of the peppers, romaine, cucumber, dip and lunch meat.   After lunch I cleaned bathrooms, stripped bed , started laundry and a few kitchen projects.


First up, lacto-fermented mayo.  The last batch did not turn out but today it came out perfect.  Light, creamy, silky and tangy.  Mayo is a fickle mistress but she's worth it, I try to avoid genetically-modified soybean oil so I make my own.


Then Rob's favorite, creamy tomato soup.  I will post the recipe in another post, it is so good!  Once all the house work was done, kitchen was clean dishwasher emptied it was time to start all over again.  Supper!




Fish tacos on small corn and whole wheat tortilla with spicy sauce, three color slaw and grilled corn salsa.


The salsa was insane.  I grilled the corn to get a nice char on it and mixed it with diced red, gold and orange tomatoes, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and diced peppers (the long hot pepper and sweet pepper from the farmer's market) then I seasoned it with salt and squeezed over the juice of one lime.  Great heat from the long pepper balanced out by the sweetness of the corn.  


Really delicious supper, it felt good to be off my feet.  Now if I could only get Princess Pointy Toes off the sofa to load the dishwasher for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Savory Sunday

The weather here is so un-June like.   It's warm, dry and breezy rather than hot, still and sticky. We've had the windows opened for the past few days as well as enjoying spending time outside which is so much better than being barricaded indoor with the a/c running.

Just a quick food diary for today.  I started the day with broth and bucha.


Late breakfast, brunch really.  It's Sunday, that means bacon.  BACON!  I buy humanely raised, uncured bacon.  My favorite is Coleman Ranch.   Three slices with two soft boiled pastured eggs and some watermelon and berries.

I did a little food prep for the coming week.  I whipped up a batch of Nom Nom Paleo's grain free cheesy egg muffins.  I love these and they are so great to have for a super fast breakfast.  Mrs. Nom's recipe is for 6 muffins, my proportions fill 12 silicone liners.  Five eggs, about 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar.  I whipped this up in the VitaMix until smooth.


Usually, I bake these at 375 for 20-25 minutes.  I got distracted by a shiny thing this afternoon and ended up leaving them for 30.  They got a bit more brown than usual but still good.


I had a snack at 3pm.


Veggies, dip and a muffin.  Quality control, you know.

For dinner I made enchiladas.  We love them but I haven't made them in years.  The old way is so heavy and unhealthy and hadn't been able to work out a "healthified" recipe.  I worked on that today.  Not only were these the healthiest enchiladas I could make but the most delicious I've ever had.  They are so good they need their own post.  I wrote down everything I did so I wouldn't forget so watch for that later this week.


6:30 dinner, awesome enchiladas.  If you're wondering where the veggies are, they're *inside*!  I put my hand near the bowl to give a better sense of dish scale.  I should do that more often, the close ups of food porn can be deceiving.

That's all for now.  I hope your Sunday was just fabulous.

Century House Tavern Review

Let me first say that I'm not sure what is up with my camera. I've been playing with the settings and obviously it still needs some tweaking.


Date night happiness!  We set out to Woodstock, about 15 miles from here.  Woodstock has made a great effort to rejuvenate their historic downtown and create a charming area with shops, restaurants and residences. In the south, just about every town has a "historic downtown." Woodstock did a great job, it is very charming with lots more choices than the historic downtown of Marietta and neighboring towns.


The newly opened Century House Tavern has taken over the Hubbard House which was built in 1894.  It's a lovely space right on Main Street.  We arrived at 6:30 and the place was packed.  I walked in to leave our name but there was no clearly defined podium so it was a bit confusing.  A very young looking girl and guy were huddled over a clipboard.  I had to ask if they worked there.  They said it would be a 45 minute wait and they would call my cell when the table was ready.  We squeezed ourselves over to the bar area and ordered some drinks.  The bar staff was very lively, welcoming and accommodating.  It was a bit tight in that bar area, so we went to sit outside. It was a lovely evening, exceptionally dry and mild for June but the sun was a bit warm after awhile.


We waited.  And waited.  We finished our drinks and waited some more.  I don't mind waiting, but not without a drink in my hand.  There was no one working the area outside clearing tables, taking drink orders or orders for all the lovely pre-dinner nibbles on the menu.  A total missed opportunity!  The bar was so crowded, we didn't fancy elbowing our way back inside, so we continues waiting for the call which came after an hour.

We were seated at a lousy table right by the door, opposite the very crowded bar.  But we started to get hungry by this point so we sat.  We looked over the menu and decided to order a pate and cheese platter, figuring it would turn up quickly.  We placed our appetizer and drink order and looked over the menu some more.  Our waitress brought Rob's soda right away but not my glass of Chardonnay.  It arrived a moment before the food, nearly 30 minutes after we ordered.  The wine was tepid and the glass covered with condensation, obviously it had been waiting for pick up for a while. 

We were angry hungry by this point and happy to see this arrive.


Pate, imported Tallegio cheese, various pickled goodies, peach gelee and some sort of honey that was the texture of apple sauce and I wanted a huge tub of it.  This was really delicious,  the pate was rich, smooth and flavorful.  The hot sweet pickle of summer squashes and cauliflower was to die for.  I must try to reproduce it. 



We ordered another appetizer to share, the spring roll of duck confit.  Confit is a traditional French process of curing meat in salt then poaching it in its own fat.  Duck can be hit or miss for me and this was a hit.  The duck was succulent and flavorful.  Our main courses came just as we finished the duck.


I ordered the prime rib dip.


Rob ordered the fish and chips.  He always does and he's always disappointed.  We really need to get him back to England soon so he can get his fix. 

Our main courses were not good and not hot, the plates were cleared away mostly uneaten.

We liked the dessert menu so we ordered.


Forbidden Rice Pudding with Coconut Ice Cream. This was beyond good, this was a revelation.  Jamaican black rice slowly cooked to creamy delight.  The rice was perfectly al dente and not too sweet.  I could really taste the creamy eggy vanilla custard the rice was cooked in.  I savored this hoping to pick out all the nuances so I can reproduce it.  Definitely one of the best restaurant desserts I've ever had.


Rob ordered Mille Fueille of Chocolate Mousse.  The mousse was awesome, deep, not overly sweet with wonderfully juicy berries marinated with Grand Marnier and crunchy, bitter cocoa nibs.  But they did a beautiful dessert a disservice with that flabby pastry.  A small bowl filled with mousse, topped with the berries and nibs and maybe a dollop of whipped cream would have really made this outstanding. 

Century House Tavern has potential and a great location.  The dessert menu and top half of the main menu are unique and well presented but the main courses and sandwiches are uninspired.  The front of house staff is very inexperienced and the lack of service to the people waiting outside caused an air of chaos inside and out.  The noise level inside was deafening and I'm no demure wallflower.  The service was uneven, far too many annoyed diners looking around wondering where their food and drinks were.  I overheard the couples at the next table echoing our sentiments about the chaos and confusion.  Despite the good dishes, we left disappointed.  The tab was hair under $100 before tips. 

Not sure if we would go back, if we do it would be for drinks, nibblies and dessert only. 

How was your last restaurant dining experience?


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Date Night Ahoy!

Happy Saturday! Rob took Tally up the mountain this morning. I'm looking forward to the day I can join them again, I do miss trail walking with my family but my knee just isn't strong enough to walk on rocky or uneven terrain. I made the best of a quiet morning, I put on some music and caught up on my magazine reading.  (Entertainment Weekly, Time, This Old House.)


Bucha and broth started the morning then I had breakfast at around 9am.

 

A Georgia peach parfait, layers of diced peaches, Greek yogurt and walnuts.  So pretty and so tasty!


Had my morning cappu, too.  If you want a delicious, inexpensive and easy coffee drink at home, invest in a $20 Bialetti Moka Express and a $2 frother (the cost of a five venti cappuccinos at Starbucks.) 


We had lunch around just before 1pm.  Behold, the fast food burger salad!  A bed of cold, crisp greens, Bubbie's traditionally fermented dill pickles, sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes, a grilled grassfed beef patty topped with some shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese and "special sauce," of course.  All the flavor sensations of a fast food burger without all the who-knows-what that "they" put on it.


Rob and I will eat twice on one pound of grassfed beef.  I use my food scale to weigh out four 4-ounce patties to make sure my I get the best bang for my buck when buying best quality local beef.

I'll have broth later this afternoon.  We're heading out for drinks and dinner this evening.  I'll post my restaurant review and some food pics in a separate post.  I'm going to foam roll and stretch and do my nails and toes now.  I hope you are having a wonderful Saturday.
 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Foodie Friday


 

This has been one of those truly pleasant days.  We're sitting on the deck this evening, our bellies full of delicious food enjoying the balmy breeze. 

Another good eating day, no grain yesterday and today and most of tomorrow, too, because tomorrow is date night.  We rarely dine at restaurants when we're not on vacation, in fact the last time we did was in St. Augustine in March.  I want to be excited about dining out, and there is just not that many places to get excited about around here.  I'm a total food snob and not a fan of chain restaurants.  But new place opened up in Woodstock that has a very promising menu (the drinks and dessert menu made me swoon!)   I'll share more details and hopefully some good reviews and food porn over the weekend.


I started my day with some home brewed ginger kombucha...


and some warm, rich bone broth.  I owe you guys a big broth post.  I'm learning what a nutrition power house it is and drinking it daily makes me feel so good and makes my skin look really nice. 


8am breakfast was a "1-minute muffin." This one is banana flax, a mashed banana whisked with one whole egg then 2 tablespoons of golden flax meal and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder stirred in.  I nuked it then put a blob of Cabot Greek yogurt on top.  Easy, filling, delicious.


Kona coffee in my Jamie Oliver mug.


Hee-hee!

I made my green recovery drink to take to the gym with me.  This is non-GMO brown rice protein powder blended with raw kefir and spinach leaves.  I throw some ice cubes in the shaker so it stays cold in my locker.  I drank this just after my workout at noon.


1pm, I was starving like a hostage for lunch.  I made a huge dipping platter.  Romaine hearts, cucumbers, baby peppers, avocado and some chicken (from the broth) with one of my favorite dips, homemade Thousand Island, which is just homemade mayo, ketchup and chopped cornichons.  I was so full, I actually had food left on my plate.  WHAT!?! 

 

2pm more broth.  It's totally not weird to drink hot broth out of a mug in Georgia in June.  Not when it is so good for the skin, bones and immune system!  

Here is the mise for dinner.  My Dad was raving about a dish he made, bone-in, skin-on chicken breast layered with fresh herbs and lemons cooked on a soaked cedar plank on the grill.  I didn't happen to have a cedar plank so I improvised with a baking tray and a makeshift smoking pan (hickory chips in a loaf pan, covered with foil with some holes poked in it. Simple!)



35 minutes on the grill set at about 400 with a nice smoke going.  It smelled amazing!


 6:30 dinner, chicken with zucchini, squash, mushrooms and onions sauteed in a bit of butter and white wine finished with a sprinkle of Romano cheese.  The chicken was perfect, juicy and full of lemon and herb flavor and just the right about of smoke.  The vegetables were succulent!

Keep sharing what you're eating in the comments, I love to read about it!