Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Melt in Your Mouth Shin Stew

In keeping with the recent chronicling of the contents of our Winter CSA, Michael and I were faced with a dilemma: Shin steak?

Unlike previous years, where we just did veggies (and on occasion wild flowers), this year we did the omnivore option, which means that every week we also get some combination of organic grass fed beef or chicken, locally made sausage, cage free eggs, honey, or, on the weeks Michael’s out of town, Shitaki mushrooms.

Not realizing that shin steak is one of the toughest cuts of beef there is, I assumed that we could just grill it. Wrong!

Luckily, I did a little investigation before hand and we ended with with this recipe from British Chef, Jamie Oliver.

It was very British, very hearty, and super filling. And it really did melt in your mouth. But it was also very un-British in the sense that it was tasty, flavorful, and a little on the spicy side.

I followed the recipe pretty much word for word, though I added a couple extra cloves of garlic (which is per normal for me) and omitted the mushrooms (which is per normal for Michael). I used garbanzo/fava bean flour in order to keep it gluten free.

We also didn’t have a bottle of Chianti on hand, so we went for the cheapest ($8.00) bottle of red we could find.

Michael pointed out the recipe calls for 2/3 a bottle, probably with the assumption that you’ll still have two glasses left over for dinner. Well, maybe with a different bottle of wine that might work, but with this one not so much.

So if you find yourself with a pound or more of shin steak, knock yourself out. Though I’m sure it would work just as well with regular old stew meat.

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My Love for You is…Skin Deep?

I had an epiphany the other day, one that I think is worth sharing, because there was someone there with me, who had a similar insight.

Setting: Burke Williams Day Spa in Santa Monica, CA.
Activity: Getting a facial.

The attendant, whose name was Laura was asking me a slew of questions as she did wonderful things to my face. (It was sort of like drinking a water after a particularly long drought. I didn’t realize how dry my skin was until I gave it something to drink).

She started off by asking about what kind of moisturizer I use.

Simple: I don’t.

That didn’t phase her.

Toner?

I frowned beneath her talented hands: I don’t do anything for my face. I wash it in the shower, without any sort of cleanser, and that’s about it.

She paused and asked, “How old are you?”

I told her.

“Wow,” she said, and proceeded to tell me all of the reasons that a woman my age, especially one who isn’t living in beautiful southern California should be taking care of her skin. At least to the point of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

As she went on and on and on, I realized something.

I had always coded facials and skin care products as optional, as luxurious, as uber-expensive, and overly feminine. I had always believed that women who took care of their skin (using product after product) were vain and, let’s be honest, shallow. (I realize that these are some of the stereotypes that I used to hold about skinny women as well, but that’s another post). I had essentially coded facials and skin care as not me.

But then I realized something. And it seems so simple that it’s almost too embarrassing to write, but here it goes.

The skin is the largest organ in the body. It protects me from the environment. It is literally the layer that keeps out the toxins and filters the internal toxins out through sweat, etc. My skin is part of my body.

My entire life, up until that moment, my idea of loving my body – or at the very least, taking care of it – was limited to diet and exercise. Everything else, including skin care, was optional. Read: unimportant.

Laying on the table with steam blowing on my face and a near scalding towel around my neck, I recoded skin care and body care and since then, I have integrated a new routine into my self-care.

Now, skin care products are still expensive, but it’s amazing how much better I feel now that I am loving that part of my body as well. Not only is my skin softer and more supple, I feel ridiculously loved and cosseted.

And now that I am totally and completely addicted to skin care, I have to ask myself: Was it the skin care itself that I wasn’t willing to accept into my life, or was it the feelings that the skin care provided?

Sugar Free Chocolate Thin Mints? Seriously?

For the last several months, I have been working with a phenomenal women’s coach, Tara Marino. I have worked with a lot of people in the past and I must admit that she is one of the best and – if you’re a woman and you’re interested in living a more elegant life – you should definitely check her out at her website, Elegant Femme.

One of the things that Tara does so well is help you set daily rituals; in fact, she calls them your “Daily Requirements.” Some of these requirements tap into your spiritual side, some of them tap into your intellectual side, whereas others tap into your more sensual or more physical side.

I’ve been very good about all of them – which tells you something about how good Tara is if you’ve ever heard me rail about not being able to ritualize my routines – all of them, that is, except one.

The one that I’m having the most trouble with is to eat raw chocolate at least once a day.

Wow, Tara’s a real slave driver, isn’t she?

Okay, so what’s up with me not eating raw chocolate, especially when I’ve been given permission to do so? Heck, not only permission, but a strongly, yet elegantly worded recommendation?

  1. I don’t live in California (yet), so I actually don’t have easy access to raw chocolate unless I make it.
  2. I am really sensitive to sugar, so even though raw chocolate is raw, I’m a little leery about desserts with sugar – even agave – in them, to the degree that it could potentially be a slippery slope.
  3. I actually have a hard time indulging myself this way when it comes to food.

Okay, so yesterday, I was going to all of my favorite food blogs, looking for gluten-free recipes for Thanksgiving (these include two mostly raw food blogs Rawmazing and PurelyTwins (used to be Pure2Raw), both of whom I’ve called out before).

Well, as it turns out, PurelyTwins has a recipe – a very simple and delicious recipe – for Sugar Free Chocolate Thin Mints that are made primarily out of hemp powder and coconut oil. Not only are hemp and coconut oil an important part of my diet already, they also reduce hunger and promote thyroid health. And, more importantly – they’re sugar free!

So, I tried these last night and I must say, Daily Requirements, Here I Come.

The entire process took about 10 minutes (and that was the first time through the recipe). These are going to become a (daily) staple.

p.s. It is worth noting that mine were a little “hempy,” but I think that’s a matter of the hemp powder I used. I have a another brand which is a little more mellow. As they note in the video, each protein powder is different, so it’s worth some experimentation.

Beet and Carrot Slaw: Recipe

A friend of mine just sent an email requesting my Beet and Carrot Slaw recipe. I immediately went to the blog to send her a link. After searching for about ten minutes, I realized that I talk about this all the time, but I had yet to choke up the recipe.

This recipe is so easy and so delicious. And even my husband, who has never been much of a beet eater, goes through periods where he eats this everyday. It’s also gorgeous and would be a welcome, uh, cleansing addition to any Thanksgiving meal. Next time I make it – which will probably be in a couple of days since I just added it to my own Thanksgiving menu – I’ll be sure to take a picture!

Beet and Carrot Slaw

Ingredients

Equal numbers of beets and carrots, peeled and grated finely (or run through a processor); I usually do about 4 medium to large or 6 small. It depends on how much you want to make.

1/2 bunch of parsley, cleaned and minced.

2 tablespoons (more or less) of extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon AND 1 lime

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon of cumin

Directions

1) Add all of the ingredients except the spice in a large metal bowl and toss well.

2) Then sprinkle the spices while continuing to toss (to avoid clumping).

3) Adjust seasoning and oil to taste.

4) Enjoy!

A picture’s worth a thousand words

Now, my winter farm share is not all about the squash, the rutabaga and the celeriac. It’s also about the kale. Kale, without a doubt, is one of my favorite foods. And also buried in there are leeks (as well as brussels, carrots, garlic, lettuce, and beets). My favorite kale recipe – at least for this year – is also quite simple and is excellent any time of day (including breakfast).

KJ’s Easy Kale Recipe (2012)

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (or Olive)
1 (or 2) leeks, cleaned and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
cumin, to taste
1 stalk of kale (ours comes on a stalk, but basically a bunch), washed, chopped, stems removed
Sea salt
The juice of a half a lemon

  1. In a wok or frying pan, saute the leeks and the garlic in the oil.
  2. Add cumin and stir for about a minute
  3. Toss in the kale, continue to stir
  4. Add the salt and top it off with the lemon juice

I like my kale to still have some shape to it, but it’s a matter of taste. Once you start cooking, it really should only take a few minutes from start to finish. I always cut everything up first to make sure that nothing gets overcooked.

KJ’s Homemade Chicken Broth

I fancy myself a pretty good cook and I am definitely a soup lover. That said, can you believe that I have never – had never, as of yesterday – made my own chicken broth?

And now that I have, I fear it’s like getting your first Mac – there is no going back. Though I must admit that it was a little disconcerting putting a whole chicken (or a fryer, I believe they’re called) into a pot of soon-to-be-boiling water.

That said, I made chicken broth. It was a bit of a hassle, but it really added a nice dimension to my soups. I started off with a couple of recipes on-line and then turned it into one of my own.

KJ’s Homemade Chicken Broth

1 fryer (all the inner bits cleaned out if he/she didn’t come that way)
7 to 10 cups of water
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 inch fresh ginger, grated

Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste.

  1. Wash the chicken, inside out.
  2. Put said chicken into a large soup pot (and try to ignore how much it feels like an infant resting in your hand).
  3. Put in 7 to 10 cups, enough to cover the chicken.
  4. Bring water to boil, then let simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Pull the chicken out and let cool (the meat should be well over 169 degrees at this point – more like 200, but it can’t hurt to check for safety).
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients to the water.
  7. Remove the skin from the chicken and the meat from the bones. Put the skin and the bones back into the pot and put the meat in the fridge for snacks, lunches, salads, etc.).
  8. Bring the broth-to-be back up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
  9. Pull all of the solids out of the broth; easiest to use a slotted spoon and then pour through a sieve.
  10. Store broth in Ball jars in the fridge. (A film of fat will form on the broth as it cools; you just skim that off before using).

I’ll be the first to admit that is seems like a lot of work for broth – but, boy, did it ever make my soup delicious, giving it a rich undertone that I’ve never been able to get with prepared broth.

Besides that, it made the house smell great and I have lunches for four days in the left over meat (or, most likely, my husband will as I’ll be busy eating the soup).

Indian-Spiced Roasted Squash Soup

I am in experimentation mode, trying to determine what soup – if any – we’re going to have at Thanksgiving. Soup has always been my thing and having soup at a big meal is one way to make sure that I don’t overeat.

This one, which appeared in the November 2011 edition of Cooking Light, is definitely a contender!

Indian Spiced Roasted Squash Soup

1 cup chopped yellow onion
8 ounces carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (1-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (8-ounce) acorn squash (or whatever you happen to have on hand)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper (cayenne)
14 ounces of chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

Optional:
6 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt
6 teaspoons honey

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Arrange the first five ingredients on a jelly roll (or a roaster pan). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper. Toss. Roast at 500 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender, turning once. Cool for 10 minutes. Peel acorn squash; discard skin.
  3. Combine vegetable mixture, 2 cups of water, curry powder. garam masala, and red pepper in a food processor (or high speed blender); pulse to desired consistency. Scrape mixture into large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in broth; bring to boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and stir in salt.
  4. Combine honey and yogurt, stirring well. Serve with soup

Calories (more or less, since I used real chicken broth instead of the canned fat free version they originally called for): 143, Fat: 3.1 g, Protein: 4.8 g, Carbohydrate: 27g, Fiber: 4.4 g.

Notes: Make sure you cook it for that 10 minutes to thicken it up, or if you’re pressed for time, use less broth.

Winterizing My Favorite Summer Soup: Recipe

All summer long, I have been eating this deliciously simple cauliflower and carrot soup. It’s pretty (a beautiful warm yellow), it’s tasty, it’s light, and it works as lunch with a couple slices of gluten free toast, it works with dinner, and it works as a snack.

The only problem is that it’s not that substantial – and where I live, it’s getting dark early and it’s getting cold. And when it’s dark and cold, I want something that’s really going to stick.

The original recipe is courtesy of Body Ecology. Or at least that’s where the idea came from, it’s been so long that I can’t remember what the actual recipe called for (a trait that I fear I picked up from my Grandmother Lively). Regardless, here’s how I make it:

Carrot Cauliflower Soup

2 cups of onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons (or more) of dried Tarragon
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
2 or 3 cups of carrots (depending on how big the cauliflower is)
Water
Sea salt
A.Vogle Trocomare Organic Spicy Seasoning

In a large soup pan, saute the onions and the tarragon until onions are translucent. Add the cauliflower and the carrots. Add enough water to cover the veggies, bring to a boil and then simmer until veggies are tender (which tends to be about 20-30 minutes).

Blend up the entire mixture in a high speed blender (you’ll have to do that in batches).

Return entire mixture to pot, then season to taste.

I like the Vogle seasoning salt, but I’ve also used curry or cumin when I didn’t have enough. It might take more than you think, but start small and just keep tasting it. You can always add more later, at the table.

Because I was trying to make the soup more substantial (and I had a ton of stuff from the CSA that was just going to go to waste if I didn’t do something quick), I decided to start adding stuff, namely 1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed and 1/2 celeriac bulb, peeled and cubed.

It was delicious – really stellar and super filling. This is definitely going to be my new normal, at least until spring rolls around!

Indeed, it was so filling that I was able to drop the gluten-free toast at lunch and still be completely satisfied.

Getting Creative with the Winter CSA: Recipe

I know that you’re not supposed to waste food, but I admit that last year I let several squash go bad. For months, I’d glance over at the literal mountain on the counter and then let my eyes slide away, until, eventually, the hard walls of the butternut, acorn, and buttercup would dissolve in the pile of goo. (I’m not an idiot – I actually did manage to do something with the delicata. Something that often involved a little touch of coconut oil, black pepper, cumin, and a broiler – but I digress).

This year, I was determined not to let that happen. I mean, isn’t there one dietary theory (more than one, actually) that says that you should be eating with the seasons? In my ongoing quest for health – particularly thyroid health – I decided to go for it. And, so far, I’ve been amazed.

My first attempt was just to bake some acorn squash and delicata. Well, I forgot about it and overcooked it – the delicata was literally black! At least on the outside! On the inside, it was like pudding.

Because I’m good friends with a number of health coaches who are always touting the importance of enjoying your food with all of your senses (and, heck, the busiest post on the blog is about Never Eating While Standing), I am embarrassed to say that I ate the entire thing standing at the counter.

Because even though the outside was ruined, the inside was like pudding. It was unbelievably good. Hence my new fascination with squash.

Last week, I started with a simple mash.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
4 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1/2 celeriac, peeled and cubed (did you know that celeriac is 122 days in the ground?! Now every time I see one, I think: wow, that’s like, one trimester!)

I tossed all of these in a little olive oil and roasted them until tender.

I then tossed the whole thing in the high speed blender and viola! It was perfect.

Creamy, sweet and super easy.

Notably, I didn’t season it. Why?

  1. It was good plain (or with a little touch of coconut oil).
  2. If I wanted a dessert, all it needed was a little cinnamon and may (only if I was feeling particularly decadent) a drop or two of maple syrup.
  3. If I wanted a side (or a savory, as the Brits would call it), all it needed was a bit of sea salt and dash of cumin.

Total win.

So if you’re sitting on a pile of squash, don’t despair or feel the guilt of tossing it. Just get a little creative and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.