Local Super Food?! Yes!

When I tell people that I teach traditional food workshops, I always lead with sourdough and sauerkraut. Maybe I’ll tell them about kefir and kombucha.

Why?

Because telling people that we have a super food on the Prairies – that we don’t need exotic ingredients trucked, floated, and flown from the other side of the planet – and that that superfood is grass-fed beef liver….


I’ve lost them.

Because people think liver tastes gross. All they know of it is righteously prepared, boiled for half an hour, fried with onions for another half an hour. That would be hella tough and super unpalatable to a liver and onion lover, let alone a little kid that just wants cheesy broccoli and noodles!

Trying to unpack this ancestral influence on this dish is complicated. Liver is considered a sacred food by many cultures around the world, and prized for its dense nutrition. Depending on your culture of origin and how long your family has been away from that culture, will influence how close you are to enjoying this dish. In my family, we have largely been in Canada (from the British Isles) for about 100-150 years. So that means that we enjoy rice pudding, and curried chicken with raisins. There is a tradition of hunting and this tradition results in some interesting dishes. My grandfather dutifully prepared liver for his family – because on some level, he must have known it was good for them.

But fundamentally, good things for you should taste good…right? (Cheeto flavour scientists notwithstanding)

if you see animals eating what they are meant to eat, in a comfortable habitat, you see that they eat the best grasses/bugs/plants. And we are no different. How many times have you had a craving…for something “bad” and you resisted, and resisted, until finally you “gave in”? This is total bullshit. When your body tells you you need something, it is because you are mineral/nutrient deficient (which is the subject for a whole other blog post)

How do we reclaim this nourishing, delicious dish of liver and onions? From the CAFO (concentrated animal feed operation), from the poor preparation, from the derision that arises when someone says “liver and onions”?

First, you need the “right” liver – from a farmer you know, who raises the animal on grass. Meeting local producers and supporting their efforts creates a more robust food system. We are not dependant on faraway operations that may or not be in line with our values.

Second, you need to know how to prepare it (quickly!) With a great recipe!

Third, you need to give that right liver, properly prepared, a chance. It has taken years to get here – so give yourself a few times to see if you like this dish!

Do you want to find local producers? Do you want to learn how to make liver delicious? Follow me on Facebook and Instagram, find out when the upcoming classes are, and reclaim this dish!

Soup-er times!


See what I did there? Oh, puns. Both the most clever and the lowest form of humour. 

Winter is a time for soup. And the best way to start soup is with your own bone broth. Is it hard? Not if you can operate a stove and a tap. Seriously! Of all the things that need to learned to unlock a kitchen achievement – broth is pretty simple. Place bones in pot – cover with water – simmer until it smells delicious – strain – use in a soup recipe, or chill and freeze until you need it. 

Like when a huge blizzard hits your province and everything shuts down for two days. 

Excellent time for soup! 


Bacon corn chowder!

Fry a few slices of bacon, roughly chopped. Remove from cooked bacon from pan. Throw in some diced celery and onion into the bacon fat in the pan. Cool until softened. Peel and chop a few carrots and potatoes. Throw those in. Barely cover with broth. Summer until vegetables are soft. Throw a bump or two of whipped cream in the pot, and a few handfuls of frozen corn. 

Let warm through – five mins or so. 

Ladle into bowls – top with sour cream and cooked bacon bits!

Enjoy! 

And stay warm out there! 

Why I love sourdough 

For the most part, I love sourdough. It’s a great way to add tastiness to baked goods, the fermentation that takes place breaks down the long chain proteins (increasing digestibility) and it is so versatile. People often ask me how much bread I must eat – they are surprised when I tell them that I don’t very often make bread. 

Feeding the monster

The number one thing I use starter for is pancakes. If you’ve read much about sourdough, you know it grows exponentially. Meaning 1 cup becomes 3 cups becomes 9 cups – like that goldfish story when we were kids? About the goldfish that outgrew its bowl, then the tub and eventually ended up in a swimming pool? 

So most sourdough recipes suggest discarding starter as you are building it – meaning successive additions of water and flour. You want a jazzy, bubbly starter for any really serious construction projects (like bread) It always seemed lik a waste to me. 

Coming up with or finding recipes for discarded sourdough became a priority. Pancakes are lovely – I whisk a few ingredients together, throw in some starter, and quite quickly I have a tasty,not-so-hard on the gut breakfast. 

What do you use discarded starter for? 

(Oh the small the thing that bugs me about sourdough is that sometimes it feels a bit demanding! “Feed me!” With a baby, a husband, and 2.5 businesses – “I’m all, I’ll get to you, Sourdough!” But it’s easy enough to feed it, wait a few hours and pop it into the fridge for the next time you want to play around) 

Resolve

I like words. Words are tools – which can be used to build or to destroy. This time of year, exhausted from Christmas, we are fed this narrative that we must change, that we are not enough, that next year – we must do better, be better. I’ve refused to resolve for years – mostly as an allergic reaction (insert tiny Reta, stomping feet, “you aren’t the boss of me!!”)

The thing of it is that to resolve (or make a resolution) is to firmly decide on a course of action. Or to find a solution to a challenge or problem. That sounds a whole lot more empowering that forcing ourselves into some desperate, terrifying set of eating/vice denial/behavioural mouse traps. 

What decisions would I like to firmly make?

In 2017, I resolve to listen to my heart, to nourish my body, and to take care of myself. 

In 2017, I want to adventure with my husband and my daughter.

In 2017, I will make sawdust (my real job is as the ground person/quotes with our tree service Bee EZ Tree Service )

In 2017, I want to share my love of sauerkraut, liver, and lentils through demonstrations and workshops. 

In 2017, I will make another lap around the sun. 

What will you decide to do in 2017?

Would you like to join me on a kitchen adventure? 

Reta

Candy that is GOOD!!! for you????

One of my favourite things about traditional foods is wrestling a food that has been declared – evil! bad for you! not on the food guide! – back and enjoying the simple deliciousness of real food! Examples? Eggs! Beef! Fat! (Those are posts for another day!)

Today we talk gummy candy! The chewy awesome-ness that can be captured with one simple ingredient-gelatin!!  When I was a kid, my mom used to eat gelatin because it was supposed to be good for your fingernails? What we do know is that is is very soothing for the gut! And it’s always good to have recipes with four ingredients!


Reta’s Gummy Fun!

1.5 cups juice (we used cherry for one batch and apricot for the other)

0.5 cup lemon or lime juice (to achieve that sweet/sour balance)

.25 cup maple syrup 

6 T. Gelatin 

Bring juice and syrup to nearly a boil. Remove pot from heat and whisk in the gelatin in batches (I did 2 T – 3X)

Let cool in the pot for 5-10 mins, then pour into a **lightly** lubricanted pan (i use the tiniest amount of coconut oil) It will gel on the counter or in the fridge. 

Flip out on a cutting board, use a pizza cutter or cookie cutters! 

Make 9X13 cookie sheet 

Why isn’t it always pie time?

pie

I love pie! But for a long time, I avoided pie because of how tricky pastry was to make and how crappy store bought pie was. Have you ever read the ingredient list? Can you pronounce half of that stuff?

I like a mix of half butter/half lard for my pastry – nice and golden, with a little bit of crispiness! As for filling – is there a wrong filling? I mean, I love the olde tyme-y raisin and sour cream! But fruit filling is good. Friendship pie is awesome (that is where everyone brings some fruit and you mix it all together and then you get Blueberry-Rhubarb-Strawberry-Peach-Apple-Plum-More Rhubarb-Raspberry Pie)

May all your pie dreams come true!

Beans Beans Beans!

Is there anything more delicious than a warm bowl of spicy lentil soup on a cold day? Or maybe a cheese topped chili, filled with black beans and hamburger, with cheese-y biscuits?

Can you tell it is -27 C as I write this? And all I want is coziness and comfort food. And that is alright. I am being a good animals. We need the calories to survive in a place like MB. The secret is to getting the right calories!

file-2016-12-14-4-52-53-pm

I am started making big – like BIG – batches of chili and freezing them in those take out trays you can get. Then as I am menu planning my week on Sunday morning, if I know that supper will be hectic, I plan to treat myself (and my family) to a freezer supper treat! And I thank two-weeks-ago-Reta who had the foresight to make up freezer meals ahead of time!

Cuddles and Soup!

A flu hit our house recently, which meant that I needed to make some soup and in a hurry! I nearly always have beef bones, or a chicken carcass in the freezer, so mirepoix away and we were in business. I roasted off some oxtail and beef bones, left them bubbling over night with some ACV. In the morning, I diced at least one of every root vegetable on hand (and at this time of year, that means something – parsnip, rutabaga, potato, carrot, onions, and sweet potato. Also – some rice and celery)

I am not going to weigh in on flu shots (I don’t get one – but I did get a measles booster when the kid got her shot) But it seems to me the best way to stay healthy is to be reasonable. Eat healthy food, get some sleep, and move around a little. And wash your hands.

As for the kid – first time in 14 months that she has been sick (not counting a one day temperature around her 1st birthday) I am ok if she sticks to that pace. Sick once a year, but for like 2 weeks. We could plan around it!