Category Archives: 1

Simple but satisfying. (Hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes)

Sometimes I put off writing a blog post, thinking I need to have something off-the-charts good or crazy original.  Maybe I need to just get some of my recipes (if they can be called that) out there to the blogosphere, for posterity’s sake.  A record of my cooking life, if you will.  Some of you NT foodies need not poke around too much (because I get a lot of my recipes from you!), but I have to believe that there are readers at every stage of learning and cooking skills that may benefit from my small repertoire or get inspired to learn more about the different aspects of Traditional Nutrition that I throw out there from time to time.

Most of what I cook is just good old-fashioned stick-to-your-ribs kind of food. Take tonight, for example.  My family came for dinner (parents, brother & his family), and we had mashed potatoes with hamburger gravy.  Carrots in the gravy too.  Oh, and fresh homemade bread. (My mom brought a yummy dessert.  Thanks, Mom!)  Sounds like a pretty sparse meal, as in “where’s the meat?” but the gravy was really full of the hamburger, and I had needed to come up with a meal that was yummy yet easy on the pocketbook, you know?It is truly this type of meal that I get the most compliments on!  Very comforting (as in comfort food) and nourishing. Here’s how I did it.

The mashed potatoes were pretty straightforward.  Five pounds of russet potatoes, peeled, chopped, boiled until tender.  Meanwhile, I put 2 (yes, 2) sticks of butter and a little (1/2 cup?) of whole milk in a pan to melt/get hot. When the potatoes were done cooking, I drained them and transferred them to my mixing bowl, threw in the butter/milk mixture, and whipped them into submission (or smooth).  BTW, I usually just use a hand mixer for smaller amounts of mashed potatoes, but since I had close to a ton to mash, I used my KitchenAid!  Added some salt and pepper, and let Little Boy lick the beater, which saved the day for a cranky toddler!

The hamburger gravy went like this:  Earlier in the day, I had chopped some carrots, and before I even started on the potatoes, I cooked them in some bone broth (a combination of chicken & lamb/beef–ha ha, nobody even noticed the unrecognizable broth flavor!).  After the potatoes were put on to cook, I threw in some hamburger and diced onions in a skillet to brown.  Then I transferred those carrots to the meat mixture and set the skillet aside.  The pot with the leftover bone broth in it (you didn’t think I would drain them into the sink, did you?! Ha!) I added even more broth and got it up to a boil.  I then took a mug of cornstarch &  COLD water (stirred until smooth), and whisked it into the boiling broth, adding as much of the cornstarch water as needed to thicken into a gravy.  Then I added the meat/carrot mix to the gravy.  Left it on low heat while I whipped those potatoes!

That’s it, folks!  The bread was already baked several hours previously, so I just sliced up a loaf and set out some soft butter.  They devoured that bread, by the way–only one piece was left over, and I think that was only because it was sort of hiding under the towel I had draped over it.  Best part of the dinner–hanging out with family.  And don’t get me started on Mom’s dessert; it was off-the-charts good.

This was a part of the Fight Back Friday carnival. For more Real Food Revolution ideas, visit http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-march-12th/

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Menu Plan Monday (2-15-10)

Sunday

  • D-Out to Dinner

Monday

  • B-Basted eggs, hash browns, sauerkraut, kefir
  • L-Beef bone broth, apples with PB/honey/coconut oil dip
  • D- Salmon patties, tartar sauce, green salad, pumpkin casserole

Tuesday

  • B-Fried eggs, toast, fruit smoothie
  • L-LO salmon patty sandwich
  • D-Lamb chops, green salad

Wednesday

  • B- Cheesy scrambled eggs, home fries, sauerkraut, kefir
  • L- Sardine dip, carrot sticks, bread/butter
  • D-Cheeseburgers, lettuce, tomatoes, home made French fries

Thursday

  • B-Spinach quiche, toast, kefir
  • L-LO quiche, apples, carrot sticks
  • D-Black bean soup, bread

Friday

  • B-Fried eggs, hash browns, sauerkraut, smoothie
  • L-Cheesy bread, fruit

For more menu ideas, visit http://orgjunkie.com/

Just keeping it real. (My Traditional Nutrition journey)

As I look back on the path we took to change our eating to be more compatible with Traditional Nutrition, I realize that it was a very gradual but steady journey.  And there were some twists, turns and even minor failures! It’s kind of funny when you look back and see so many changes, and yet realize that you haven’t suffered or felt any deprivation!  I thought that perhaps someone might benefit from reading about our meandering adventure into this lifestyle.

It all started quite innocently.  Hubby and I bought some fruit-flavored kefir one day at the health food store to snack on while we took a scenic drive.  We both enjoyed it and saw on the label that it contained 10 beneficial bacteria.  I later looked up the company’s website for more information, searched the internet about kefir, bought a powdered kefir starter and began making it.  Of course, that wasn’t the end; we knew we needed to get real kefir grains, but it took us awhile to round them up.

I began to run across blogs that had kefir-making tutorials, and while poking around on these blogs, I ran across the mention of a book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This book opened up a whole new world for us.  We learned about the faulty information out there put forth as “scientific fact,” learned about good fats and fats to avoid, learned about the benefits of raw milk and fermented foods.

I read more blogs and more books, and began to cook more of our food from scratch.  I did have some failures along the way, as I said.  I tried making kombucha (we just didn’t care for it)  and sour dough (it didn’t work, but I’m getting ready to have another go at it).  We found a source for raw milk and began to drink it exclusively.  Yummy! (And by the way, I lost a pound a week after adding the whole raw milk to my diet).

In 2008, I quit my full-time job and only worked part-time at a much lower wage, so by financial necessity, I began cooking almost everything from scratch).  I began to make chicken bone broth on a regular basis.

Three months after quitting the full-time job, Hubby and I took temporary custody of his 13 month old nephew.   Little Boy’s diet had not been optimal to say the least, so I knew it was more important than ever to commit to this lifestyle.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the $10/gallon raw milk anymore so I bought pasteurized (and kefired almost all of it, in order to add back some enzymes and good bacteria).

I decided that my two next steps were to begin soaking grains and to begin to make lacto-fermented foods.  I started soaking grains a little at a time, first with oatmeal (see my oatmeal muffin recipe here), then with other foods like crackers and breakfast cereals.  I didn’t (and still don’t) soak all my grains, but little by little I’m doing more and more.  I’m okay with that.

I still was nervous to start the lacto-fermenting, but I had a friend over who wanted to learn too, and we just took the plunge!  With two toddlers at our feet, we made sauerkraut and ginger carrots for the first time.  That was over a year ago, and my family has rarely been without some kind of fermented food ever since!  Other examples of lacto-fermented (LF) foods I have done are ketchup (recipe here), horseradish, salted lemons and a turnip, beet and seaweed combo.  I try to serve some form of LF food every day.

Sometime after this, I gave up two more of my holdouts–cream of mushroom soup and store-bought gourmet salad dressings.  For the soup, I usually just make a roux-thickened sauce with half milk and half bone broth, and it turns out great.  If I need it to taste mushroomy, I add sautéed mushrooms!  (Who would have thought?!)

The salad dressing was a harder one for us, but we’ve finally transitioned our taste buds to an oil/vinegar based dressing that I make from scratch. Sometimes I make blue cheese dressing which is really yummy too.  (Alyss at Real Food, My Way just posted a great ratio-based recipe for salad dressing–try it and let me know what you think!.)

Several months ago, I found a source for what I call “happy” eggs, from free-ranging, bug-eating chickens.  I found them on Craigslist, and made a great friend in the process!  I’ve said this before, but I really consider these eggs to be the single most nutritious food in our diet, so we do eat a lot of them!  If you haven’t had a happy egg fried in coconut oil, you need to try it!

At Christmas, we bought a NutriMill grain grinder.  I’ve used it quite a bit and love it!  So far, I’ve just bought small amounts of various grains to experiment with, but in the next couple weeks I’ll be placing an order for several 50 pound bags of grains from Azure Standard.  They have a drop-off point near us, so no shipping costs!!!

We are not perfect.  Ha.  There are still several store-bought food products that we use, like Best Foods mayo, Grey Poupon Dijon mustard and Sriracha hot sauce.  I’ve made mayonnaise, but Hubby still likes his Best Foods.  And I’m simply addicted to the other two!  If anyone has any ideas or recipes for these, I’m open to trying them.

So, that’s my story.  Even though at times I feel like I could be doing so much more, I think we’ve come a long way!  As I told one of my readers just today,

My attitude towards this is to NOT sweat less-than-perfection, because our diet, overall, is so much better than it used to be! And, to me, nourishment is more about “adding” to our overall health instead of a stern list of do’s and don’ts.

Have you started on this journey?  I’d love to hear your story!  Maybe we can encourage each other.

A Winter’s Day. (Hot Coco-Cocoa and Snow Ice Cream)

It started out a perfect wintery day.  We woke up to 7 inches of snow, with more coming down.  My brother dropped off his kids to play with Little Boy while he ran errands.  Meanwhile, the temp rose just enough for the snow to turn to freezing rain, and when the kids went out to play in the snow, even they were miserable (that’s something, for kids to be miserable in the snow!). When they came in, I served them warm hot chocolate and snow ice cream. And loaded up the dryer with soppy wet clothes.

Hot Coco-Cocoa (per mug–adjust amounts to taste)

  • 1 c. Whole milk
  • 1 Tbls. Cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbls. Maple syrup and/or sucanat
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1 Tbls. Coconut oil
  • Splash of vanilla

Start out with just enough milk in the pan to whisk the cocoa into a paste, then add more milk gradually, whisking almost constantly over medium heat.  Add everything else except vanilla and heat til hot.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Adults get a sprinkle of cayenne atop.

Snow Ice Cream

Get a bowlful of clean snow.  Add pure maple syrup, heavy cream and a little vanilla, stir until incorporated and just starting to melt.  Serve at once.

I don’t usually serve so much sweetness in one day, but what can I say?  It’s a snow day.  At least there were plenty of good fats to keep them warm and support their immune systems.