Frozen, inside and out!

It’s been an adventurous week in real food land!

First, there was the issue of a big chef’s knife, a handful of organic kale stems, and my left thumb. It wasn’t pretty!

Things are healing well, though the “keep it dry” bit is getting old. I’m grateful for my nurse years and a good, clean cut. Also, lots of Flexible Fabric Bandaids and Bill who ran to fetch them.

Then, just in case you wondered what local farmers are doing when it’s freezing cold in Georgia, ’tis the season for deliveries.

On Tuesday, we got a fabulous batch of dog food from our friend, Chad, as well as some gorgeous beef bones for the two-footed people.

Wednesday brought our long-awaited “pig parts” delivery from my buddy, Greg, along with a reminder that it’s not easy being a family farmer.

Weather issues and truck issues have postponed this delivery for a couple of weeks.

The delivery, itself, was a bit of a surprise! In fact, it was a reminder that being a serious local foodie isn’t always easy either.

(Vegan, vegetarian, and drive-up window friends may wish to skip down a bit. **)

My two favorite kinds of bone broth to make are chicken/turkey and pork. Really!

Chicken and turkey are fairly easy to procure. We roast chickens from our friends at Pine Street Market so often that we have a fairy endless supply of bones, along with great sources for pasture raised, heritage breed turkeys from Greg plus feet and necks from Greg, Chad and the big DeKalb farmers market. (Don’t knock the feet!)

Pork is a different issue. Humanely pasture raised hogs take longer to mature than the factory farmed, grain fed variety. They’re ready when they’re ready which, traditionally, is when it’s cold.

Finding humane USDA processors who will deal with small, family farmers is another challenge and some of them involve wandering a couple of states away and back in the middle of a snow storm.

We’ve been out of pork broth for a couple of months now, so I was ecstatic when my delivery arrived.

Until I saw it.

Let’s just say, for the sake of those who may be new to local food, that the processor apparently didn’t think I was serious when I asked him to split some large chunks in half.

**I did the only obvious thing and pulled on my oven mitts to rearrange a couple of freezers while I hatched up a plan.

I literally couldn’t have put a toothpick in either of my freezers which is both a challenge and, clearly, a blessing.

Several emails and phone calls later, I got the help I needed. Also lots of freezer paper and zippy bags! There are now manageable chunks in my freezer, as well as some more thawing in the fridge. Tomorrow is pork broth day.

In this moment, I am warmed, not only by anticipation of really good soup, but by a community of people who care about delicious, healthy, humane food that’s good for our environment, our economy, and our kids. And, if you’re looking for a place to get involved, bone broth is a great place to start!

Click here to find my e-book, Let’s Boil Bones… with recipes for most eating plans, and watch for the paperback, coming soon.

And put a few pots of herbs in a sunny window. Spring will come!

I owe you, Rusty!

 

 

 

 

 

Pondering the New Year

I’ve never been a huge New Year’s person.

In my hospital nursing years, I worked almost every New Year’s Eve, often putting back together the results of partying a bit more than was optimal. This was part of my deal with the establishment, as a single mom with a young child, that I’d work all the rest of the holidays but I needed Christmas Eve and Christmas morning off.

One of my more memorable New Year’s Eves happened when Dave was about four. We’d been to church and then came home and read three whole extra stories.

About then, my phone rang and it was a couple of friends from my youth group days wondering if I wanted company. I said sure, if they didn’t mind the flannel jammies. They brought the bubbly and I broke out some herb roasted cashews and we had a blast catching up on everybody we knew.

This year is a food year at our house. And some time for pondering food traditions.

My mom didn’t care for shelling beans or peas, or for cooked leafy greens. This was a perspective that worked fairly well in Minnesota. Not so much after we moved to Florida!

According to the old southern traditions, we may be in trouble when it comes to luck in 2018.

My hog jowls won’t be here until the middle of next week due to some glitches in local farmer land.

I don’t have any collard greens in the garden just now, but there’s gorgeous black kale in the fridge which will just have to do.

And, with a smidge of regret, we’re skipping the black-eyed peas this year. It seems I really do feel better when I don’t eat them.

So, what, then?

Well, my best ever pot of butternut squash soup with mixed bone broth from Saturday night. Bright, velvety, comforting little pint-sized gems in the freezer for dark winter days.

Gorgeous, local rib eye steak for Bill and stone crab claws for me on New Year’s Eve, along with a big bowl of very green salad. (There are advantages to not being able to leave home!)

And, for Monday, dry brined local pork chops and barely wilted kale with garlic.

At the very least, we’ll be ahead on vitamins!

We might be ahead on community, as well.

We’re helping to support our local foodie farmer and butcher friends.

We’re voting with our wallets on critical issues like health and the environment. It may take a while longer, but I have faith!

We’re stashing enough food in the freezer to help out friends and neighbors.

And, next week, I’m trying out a new recipe for making broth from crab shells. One of these days, I’m going to get it right!

It would also be ok if we won HGTV‘s dream home giveaway.

Which would, by the way, need to be big enough for a couple of freezers!

For this moment, know that you and yours are in our thoughts and prayers. And may 2018 be filled, for all of us, with a whole lot of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Blessings and Peace from Sue, Bill, Sarah, Phoebe, and Luther

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some celebrity interviews…

We’re a bit over half-way along with our big adventure. Here are a few things we’ve learned…

The accupressure bracelets for motion sickness help a lot!

The tiny house craze might be a bit of a stretch for some of us!

One cup of green tea, after a year of no caffeine, is ok if you have puffy feet. (Still!)

My favorite cruise buddies had some things they wanted to mention, too, and agreed to an interview…

Me: What are some of the cool things you’ve learned on the cruise?

Kenzie: You can make a bat out of towels! And try not to get stung by jelly fish!!!

TaylorYes! Try not to get stung by jelly fish!!!

Me: What are some of your favorite things so far?

T: Snorkeling and seeing really cool fish!

K: Being with everyone and snorkeling!

Me: What would you bring along next time if we went on another cruise?

K: Scuba gear!

T: One of those neck pillows for the plane and bug spray!

Me: What are you hoping might still happen on this trip?

T: We get to go to the beach!

K: More snorkeling!

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to say? 

K: Go on a cruise and try snorkeling!

T: Nope!

And, a few more thoughts from Grammy…

If you bring along a 7-year-old princess who happens to be gluten-free you get lots of attention from the fabulous dining staff. These folks have done an amazing job!

Christmas at sea was fun! Lots more focus on doing than having. Much painting and coloring to do and tomorrow is a long day sailing.

Sadly, not even a floating theme park with ice cream all day long makes us immune to tragedy. There was a serious tour bus accident in Costa Maya, involving 30-some people, four of whom were passengers on this ship. One of those did not survive.

So, we hold each other even closer and file away snapshots of this adventure in our hearts. Which, I suppose, if you’re a New Years resolution kind of person, is a pretty good place to start.

IMG_1777In the meantime, I just wanted to mention that Anne Lamott was right! Reflecting on an adventure of her own, Annie reminds us that it’s time to be kind to the cellulite “Aunties” and let them enjoy the sun and the breezes of cruising. Which is, perhaps, another option for New Years resolutions!

 

(This particular image of the Divine Feminine is courtesy of the art collectors at Royal Caribbean International.)

I didn’t know I could bring the dogs!!!

 

 

In need of a harbor…

It was a gray-ish, kind of dreary day in Atlanta. We seem to be stuck in the space between what we southerners think of as fall and winter. I’m still trying to adjust to the early sunsets. And the news.

Oddly enough, I’m also humming Jimmy Buffett tunes in my head and dreaming of Key Lime Pie!

I suspect it has to do with our preparations for a voyage to the Conch Republic.

We are, perhaps, a bit behind in terms of shore excursions and ground logistics, but we’re excited.

An actual chance to put my toes on Key West (without dealing with the infamous bridge) and a whole week with my favorite people.

So, in honor of that…my go-to recipe for Authentic Key Lime Pie, complete with my fabulous gluten-free oatmeal pie shell, just in case you might be feeling the need for a harbor like I am just now!

Authentic Key Lime Pie

MAKES: ONE 9 INCH PIE, ABOUT 8 SERVINGS

The real deal Key Lime Pie, right here. Better yet, with the Oatmeal Pie Crust shell, it’s gluten-free! This is the recipe right off the Nellie & Joe’s bottle of Key West Lime juice. You can order it from Amazon or try Whole Foods or Publix depending on where you are. Did you know that the pie has sweetened condensed milk in it because the recipe was developed before Key West had dependable milk delivery or refrigeration? Really! Would I eat this once a week? No, but it’s a holiday favorite in my family. Remember, if it’s green, it’s not real Key Lime Pie!

Equipment Note: You can use a food processor, hand or stand mixer for this, but a wire whisk will do it. A mixing advantage is handy if you opt for homemade whipped cream. I often use an Eco-foil disposable pie tin with the domed plastic crust when I make this pie.

Arrange oven racks so pie will bake in center of oven.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a suitable mixing bowl, combine and mix well:

One 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk.

3 good quality egg yolks. (Reserve whites for another use.)

Add and blend until smooth:

½ c. Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice.

Pour filling into:

One miraculous 9-inch Oatmeal Pie Crust (see below) or a prepared graham cracker pie shell.

Bake for 15 min. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Allow to sit 10 min. before refrigerating.

Chill several hours or overnight.

Optional: Add to sparkling clean mixing bowl, preferably metal,

1 pint organic, heavy whipping cream

1 Tbsp. 10x powdered sugar, if desired. (I like mine unsweetened.)

Whip cream rapidly by hand or with mixer, until soft peaks form.

If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Just before serving, top pie with whipped cream.

Oatmeal Pie Crust

I found this on an old, yellowed index card, in my mom’s handwriting, when I went through her recipes. I don’t remember her ever making it. What a gift for Bill, who’s gluten-free! See how many ways you can find to use this like you would use a graham cracker crust, but better!

Equipment Note: A food processor or Vitamix-type blender is used for this recipe.

Depending on how high your pie will get when finished, allowing for whipped cream or meringue, you may want to purchase an Eco-foil pie pan with a plastic cover.

Into the bowl of your food processor or carafe of your blender, place:

1 c. gluten-free rolled oats.

½ c. brown sugar.

½ c. flaked or shredded coconut.

Pulse until ingredients resemble a fairly fine meal. Add:

⅓ c. melted butter OR – 1/3 c. melted coconut oil

Continue to pulse until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

Press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap or lid to the pan. Chill.

And a special hint for you, friends…this pie is great for breakfast, with a cup of dark roast coffee and some of your delicious whipped cream. An actual beach is optional, but quite nice!

 

 

What brunch looks like when all the turkey bones are in the stock pot!

There ain’t a body – be it a mouse or a man – that ain’t made better by a little soup.                                          

                                                                  – Kate DiCamillo                                                                   

Turkey Broth…the actual magic, right here!

Makes: 6 – 8 quarts in a 10 – 12 quart stockpot.

Notes: Consider making a big pot of turkey broth as part of a holiday tradition. It’s a great way to teach the next generations and it smells heavenly. 

I like a very clear turkey broth with a lot of depth that can be used in any number of recipes, so this is what I do. If you have a specific flavor profile in mind, feel free to adjust the herbs and veg as you like. Please resist the temptation to toss all the wilted stuff in your fridge into the pot!

Ingredients: The best stock contains a mixture of roasted and raw bones. Choose yours from the list below.

  • Carcass from ½ a roasted turkey, including some ribs and a wing, with some meat still attached. A leg is also useful if you have one left. Smoked turkey bones will work, too! If you just roasted a turkey breast, use those bones and add bones from a couple of roasted chickens.
  • Any necks, hearts, or gizzards you’ve saved. (Freeze livers separately for dirty rice, etc.)
  • Additional raw bones, about 1-2 lb. necks, backs, wings, etc. (You can use chicken bones, too, if you like.) I particularly like necks for this because they have lots of healing cartilage. Check your local farmer or an international market near you.
  • 3 Tbsp. acidic liquid. I use Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar “with the mother.” White wine or fresh lemon juice will work, too.
  • 3-4 med or large yellow onions, halved, with skins on. (Really!)
  • 3-4 whole garlic bulbs, halved, with paper on.
  • 3-4 fresh bay leaves or 2-3 dried ones.
  • Fresh thyme sprigs. The more the merrier! I use a bundle about the diameter of a quarter, tied with white cotton kitchen string. Add a 4-6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary if you like.
  • Fresh parsley stems, if you happen to have some around. Tie them with the thyme sprigs. 

Place raw bones with any gizzards or hearts into stockpot. Add cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. Add cider vinegar, white wine, or lemon juice. Cover and allow to sit, off the heat, for about 45 min. This helps pull the minerals and other goodies out of the bones and into the stock.

After you’ve soaked the raw bones, add the roasted bones to the stockpot.

Add additional cold water, leaving room at the top to add your veg and herbs. Place pot over med. high heat and bring to a very gentle boil.

After pot begins to boil gently, adjust temp to keep it from reaching a full, rolling boil. Skim whatever foam or bits of grey-ish stuff float to the surface and discard. You’ll need to skim every few minutes until it quits creating stuff to skim! (About 10-15 min. total.) This step is important! Skimming helps create a beautiful clear broth and prevents the development of any bitter taste.

While you’re skimming every few minutes, prep your veg and herbs as described above. Leaving the skin/paper on onions and garlic adds to the flavor and color of the broth. (Wipe any dirt from onion skins.) This is one reason I like organic! Try not to do this too far ahead. Onions are best used when they’ve just been cut!

Add your prepped veg and herbs gently so as not to splash yourself.

Turn the heat down to med-low. You want your broth to just simmer gently. No more boiling. It will take some practice with your particular stove to find out what works. Fiddle with it and check frequently. You want itty bitty bubbles just breaking the surface.

Cook for at least 6 hours, and not more than 16, for a clean flavor with all the nutrients pulled out into the broth. Try not to stir while it cooks. (That can cloud your broth.) You can put on a lid, partially covering the pot, for part of the cooking time to lessen the amount of water that cooks off, making the broth somewhat less concentrated, or leave the lid off and allow it to reduce more, concentrating the flavors. If you put the lid on, you’ll need the turn the heat down to keep it from coming to a boil. Turn the heat up a bit if you take the lid off. We’re still after those itty bitty bubbles!

If you wish to add additional water during cooking to increase the amount of broth, you must use very hot water, about 180-190 F.

Now is the time when you get to inhale the magic while you throw in a load of laundry and go back to your writing, pick up a paint brush, or teach your kids to play Cribbage…

When you’re happy with the color and flavor of the broth, remove from the heat and allow your marvelous creation to cool an hour or two. Scoop all bones and aromatics from the broth and discard them. (They’ve given all they had!) Remember that you’re going to use this broth to add flavor and nutrients to other recipes. Please resist the urge to add salt or adjust seasonings now.

After scooping out bones and so forth from the pot, strain into another container through a fine mesh sieve, being sure to get all the bones. You may use some of the broth immediately, if you care to. Otherwise, chill broth overnight in the fridge. You’ll know you’ve got a great batch if it gets jiggly, like soft Jell-O! (If not, it’s still a miracle! Just keep practicing.)

Transfer chilled broth to quart- and pint-sized plastic containers, (or the sizes that work for you) preferably BPA free. Leave 1 inch headroom, as broth will expand when frozen. Label, including date, and freeze until needed, up to 6 months. I try to thaw frozen broth overnight in the fridge before using. When that isn’t possible, thaw on counter and monitor so that it doesn’t start to warm.

Let the magic begin again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dog’s perspective on Thanksgiving!

Today it’s my turn to blog…I’m Phoebe!

I’ve been here just about a year now and, even though I’m all settled in, things keep surprising me.

Like Thanksgiving, which is, apparently, one of the days called “holidays”.

Last year Sarah and I went to Camp for Thanksgiving while Mom and Dad went to hang out with our girls.

We had lots of fun at Camp. Then we came home and slept for a couple of days like we always do. That much fun makes us tired!

This year, though, we’re all home together. Luther, too, of course.

Mom and Dad believe in being flexible about when holidays happen. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Sarah and Luther and I had our Thanksgiving on Tuesday. The big dogs had turkey wings which seem to be a Thanksgiving thing. I had duck wings which are really yummy and easier for me to chew. We had kale stems and salmon oil, too. It was really good. I think I like Thanksgiving!

Mom and Dad had Thanksgiving today, which is Wednesday. (I think most people do that on Thursday.) Dad is home this week and he wanted more days to eat turkey so they just decided to do things differently. It smelled really good!

Mom says it doesn’t matter when you have Thanksgiving. It just matters that you’re together and say “Thank you” and remember that there are people — and dogs — who don’t have as much as you do.

I understand that!

Before I lived here I was chained to a fence in the sun with no food and no water. I tried to chew through the chain and kind of messed up my teeth, which I think is why sometimes I get different bones than the big dogs do.

Luther and Sarah didn’t have what they needed before they lived here, either. Mom says we can help local businesses and our farmer friends have what they need when we choose our food. I like our food friends!

I don’t really understand why, but Mom says there are also people who don’t have enough to eat. And lots who don’t have clean water. And something called healthcare, which I think is like when our Auntie Karen comes to visit.

That makes Mom sad. Sometimes it makes her mad, too. She types really hard some days. And calls people on the phone. Yesterday I heard her say that we’ll all be safer if everyone has enough.

I’m just a dog, but I agree with that. It’s hard not to get mad, or mean, when you don’t have enough and others have too much.

Here are some more things I learned about Thanksgiving this year…

There were lots and lots of things that smelled green in our fridge. You know, like leaves. Mom says that’s a new/old Thanksgiving tradition.

The turkey came from our friend, Greg.

And Mom says we’re giving away half the soup that comes from the bones.

I think, maybe, other families do Thanksgiving differently. Mom says different is ok. It sounds to me, though, like the point of the whole thing is to remember the good things and try to share them with others.

Mom has a friend we haven’t met whose name is Rumi. A long time ago, even before Pilgrims, I think, he said:

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Maybe Thanksgiving is about each of us finding our own way.

From all of us to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you for listening. I like blogging! Love, Phoebe

PS – Mom’s going to share her recipe for turkey broth on Sunday. Save those bones! (And, please, please, please don’t give cooked bones to your dogs!!!)

 

 

 

And a smidge more heresy…

Welcome! Now that I’ve confessed that I don’t do turkey the way my granny did, it’s time to move on from dry brining (There’s still time!)  to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!

Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!

A small amount of math is inevitable.

Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!

Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. 

Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.

If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!

(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )

Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)

Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)

  • Quartered onion, skin on.
  • A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
  • A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
  • 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs. 
  • A fresh lemon, cut in half.
  • Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
  • Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.

After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.

Then, scrub and roughly chop about:

  • 6 small carrots.
  • 3 – 4 onions.
  • 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.

Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.

Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast. 

(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)

Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.

* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer  minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.

If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!

Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.

Gather your family and friends and enjoy.