Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Strawberry Stir-Fry

So every so often, my chiropractor suggests I add certain foods to my diet.  I have been off sugar for a little while now, meaning no fruit either.  When she suggested strawberries, I was psyched.  I put them in every dish imaginable, including lunch and dinner.  That's right, I put it in my soup!  (more on that later...)  The other ingredients also dance the line between sweet and savory: fennel, coriander, basil, ginger.  And, basmati rice is so sweet, I was still not sure if it was dinner or dessert!

Just in time for Valentine's Day...

1 lb sausage links
1/2 c diced fennel
1 medium onion, diced
1 head baby bok choy, diced, tops reserved
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 t dried sage
1 c brown basmati rice
2 c water
salt and pepper to taste

In a 1-qt saucepan, bring to a boil water and rice.  Salt to taste.  Turn down to a simmer and leave alone covered until all water is absorbed.
In a large pan, sear sausage links on both sides and then add enough water to come up 3/4 way of the sausage.  cook until sausage is no longer pink inside, about 30 mins.  Remove from pan and cut into 1/2" to 1/4" slices.
Simmer the empty pan until water is gone.
To the sausage drippings, add onion, fennel, and bok choy.  Add more fat if necessary.  Salt the vegetables so they sweat deliciously.
When the veggies are golden brown, deglaze the pan with the rum.  Use a spoon or spatula to get every delicious sausage bit stuck to the bottom dissolved into the rum.
Return sausage to pan and add spices and strawberries.
Cover and cook on medium heat until the strawberries are no longer distinguishable and the whole dish turns pink.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat, add the bok choy tops and cover until wilted.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homey Gravy Soup

Don't be put off by the title.  Gravies and soups come from the same ancestor, typically.  That ancestor is the rue: a fat-flour mixture that makes otherwise watery dishes thick and rich and creamy.  The question is how watery you want your meal, with gravies being a little thicker than soups.  As you know, I have my daily soup rules (you can bet my gravy was made with a bone broth), and this one was absolutely comforting and luxurious.  Perfect for that cold winter day.  Puxatawny Phil saw his shadow, after all...


2 cups chicken stock and water, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 chopped onion
1/4 cup cubed cooked chicken
1 c spinach
3 T gravy
1 T Brown Basmati rice
2 T Lentils
1 t Sage

Bring stock/water mixture, onions, rice, and lentils to a boil.  Turn down to medium and cook until both are tender.
Add remaining ingredients and cook until warm, making sure all the gravy is dissolved.

Ladle into a bowl and enjoy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to make Delicious Rich Nutritious Stock

Throw out the bouillon cubes!  Better'n Bouillon is not the best!  The most delicious sauces and soups come from real homemade stock.  "But Jaye Anne," you say, "making homemade stock is a lot of work! And it's expensive! And how can I have real stock at a moment's notice... that's just ludicrous."

Oh do I have some exciting news for you!   But first...

My mother-in-law loves to feed my daughter.  Anything she will eat goes on her plate (she is in those, um, selective toddler years).  One day I came to pick her up and she was eating ramen noodles.  She was loving them!  To be fair, I love ramen noodles.  So salty, and extremely delicious with a generous sprinkling of cayenne pepper (or as my brother Nathan calls it, cai-yenne purperr).  So I joined the feeding-my-daughter-ramen party (again, selective baby; mommy wants her to eat!).

One fine day, I looked at the ingredient list and BEHOLD! First ingredient was salt, second ingredient was Monosodium Glutamate.  MSG!! A known neurotoxin!  To my baby!  Right then and there I vowed not to give her that flavoring packet and instead provide her with a soup base that was full of vitamins and minerals, and would improve her protein absorption.  Enter bone broths.

Bone broths are not only nutritious and more delicious than food products, they are not as difficult to make and keep as one would expect.  I will start with chicken (since that is the easiest one) and we will talk about others later.  Also, don't be put off by the chicken feet.  It is said that this is where Jewish chicken soup gets its magic...

Adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
simmering the chicken carcass


One whole chicken
1/2 cup vinegar of any type
2 onions, quartered, skins left on
1 bunch celery, rinsed and roughly chopped, including tops and bottom
1 bunch parsley
about 6 cloves garlic, cut in half and skin left on
2 chicken feet (optional)
Filtered water (tons--probably around 20+cups)
Sea Salt (try pink Himalayan) and pepper

Place chicken on a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake in a 350-degree oven about 1 hour or until juices run clear.  Pick the meat off the chicken and save for a casserole or chicken soup or some other delicious food.   If you are starting with a carcass, you can skip this step.

Put all picked bones in a large stock pot.  Pour vinegar over bones and add just enough water to cover them.  Let sit for 1/2 an hour.

Add more water to fill the pot (leave at least an inch from the top) and put on medium heat.  It may take awhile to come to a simmer.

Skim off any foam that rises to the top.  The foam will produce off flavors and make your broth not as tasty. 

After skimming, add vegetables except parsley.  Let simmer, covered 12-24 hours.  The burner should be hot enough that there are bubbles coming up from the bottom, but not so hot that the bubbles push stuff around much.
10 minutes before you turn off the stock, add chopped parsley.
Turn off burner and strain bones and veggies out.
You can go through the bones once again and pick out any more meat to be used for soup (it's pretty much tasteless unless it's in a soup)
Add salt to taste.

This soup has tons of minerals in it with the added benefit of improving your protein absorption and usage, due to the gelatin in it.
Now let's talk about the money.
One chicken: about $6.  This is not necessarily fair because you are getting a meal or two out of the meat itself.  You would have thrown the bones away anyway.
celery: $2
parsley: $1
onions, garlic, water and salt: I'm going to go with about $2 total.
So 20+ cups broth costs about $10 if you don't use the chicken meat.  If you use the chicken meat for something else, then about $4.
Bouillon costs at least that much for 20+ cubes.

Now this discussion on money is useless if it is going to go bad in your fridge (it will keep about a week in the refrigerator).  Luckily, broth is easily frozen into whatever increments you desire or require for your meal.  If you don't have much space in your freezer, you can boil it down to a gel, refrigerate it like Jello, and cut it into pieces and freeze them individually or in ice cube trays.  Now there's a cube that's good for you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Open-faced Burgers

Here I was with another pound of hamburger meat staring me in the face.  My stomach was stroganoff'd-, and spaghetti with meat sauced-out, and meat loaf would take too long.  I was starving.  Tacos and burgers seemed boring, and chili... well, see my above note on length of cook time.

There was an episode of "Man v Food" where Adam went to some dive in some town and they had these curious-looking burgers.  They were very thin, with onions mashed into them as they cooked.  It looked delicious.  Thankfully, my pound of hamburger and my angry stomach somehow pulled this episode from the recesses of my brain.  It was delicious-- salty and cheesy and most importantly, onion-y.  I imagine next time I will try doing this method with sliders :-)


1 lb ground meat (I used 80/20)
1 medium onion, minced as small as possible
2 thick slices of whole wheat bread (try this bread)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 avocado
salt and pepper

Sprinkle salt and pepper into the meat and mash it up.  Using about 1/8 lb at a time, make very thin patties that almost don't stay together when picked up.
On a hot skillet, make small piles of onion.  Place the thin patties on top and sprinkle a few more onion pieces.  Using a spatula, press the patties down into the onion.  Cook 1-2 min each side in this manner.
Melt cheese over patties.
In another pan, melt about 1-2 T butter.  Cook the bread in it until all the butter is absorbed.
Mash 1/2 an avocado over each slice of bread.  Sprinkle salt over avocado.
Layer about 3 patties on each slice of bread.

Oh and BTW my stomach was no longer angry at me!

Daily Green Juice

I'm going to admit it.  I got a nasty hand fungus.  I believe it survived a lot of natural and unnatural selection at a laboratory where I was growing some worms for science.  We had to put antifungals in the growth media, although these chemicals did not work for every fungus.  We had a rampant fungus outbreak just about the time I got this cute "pet."  That was over a year ago.  I tried the OTC stuff, but as you can imagine, it didn't work.  This wasn't a garden-variety animal.  Fortunately, it does not seem to be contagious.  Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to get rid of it with pharmaceuticals.  I eventually gave up for awhile when my chiropractor noticed it.  She recommended many different things, all of which I tried and am still trying.  They are seeming to work, which is good.  One offhand comment she made, though, made me go overboard and sent my hand into a state which I was not sure it would return from.  Fortunately, it did.

She said, "oh, garlic will kill just about anything."  This, I thought, was the answer! After a few weeks of trying a little shaved garlic on it here and there, I saw it improving drastically.  Well, if a little works, then a lot will get rid of it once and for all! Right? I grated the garlic all over the rash and wrapped it in medical tape.  Six hours later, I took the tape off and it was the most disgusting rash I had ever seen.  There were actual boils.  I have never seen a real boil before.  If you want to see a picture, look here.  I am not going to assume everyone can stomach something like that.  I personally thought it looked pretty cool, being a science nerd, but it was definitely the grossest thing I have witnessed in real life.

So the next thing my chiropractor said to me was "don't do that again.  Let's take a gentle approach."  Gentle approach does not quite go with my personality, but my sledgehammer angle definitely made things ugly.  I'm pretty sure I pissed off my fungus with all that garlic. She suggested my low sugar/ increased greens diet.  She recommended a juice of kale, green apple, celery, and ginger twice per day.  This is much more palatable than the carrot, garlic, ginger, celery, and onion juice I was making.  I drink this morning and night, and make sure I have some greens in-between.  It's still hard, but my hand has improved drastically in the three weeks I have been doing this.

So without further ado:

1 cup kale
2 stalks celery
1 quarter-sized round of ginger about 1/4" thick
1/4 organic green apple
1/3 cup water

Juice all ingredients and pour the water in last to get every drop of juice out.  Pour into a cup and skim the foam off.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Are you "should-ing" yourself?

Sometimes I find myself saying "should."  As in, "I should drink more water," or "I should exercise."  Phrases like these are almost always followed by a mental "but I don't want to, so I won't or I don't."  The should introduces self-judgement and scorn.  The later mental note brings indulgence.  The two together cause guilt, a highly praised nasty emotion that starts an emotional debt we often don't repay or forgive.

Guilt is something we want other people to feel when we feel wronged.  Something about someone saying "I feel so bad about that..." settles some sort of emotional exchange in us when they are blamed for our own discomfort.  In this case it is ourselves who are the wronger and the wronged.  Guilt makes us feel better and worse here.

Fortunately, debts can be settled one of two ways.  They can be repaid or they can be forgiven.  Luckily, you both own and owe this debt and can choose either way to resolve it.

So the next time you find yourself saying "should," catch yourself and deal with these emotions up front.  Why "should" you?  What are your other options?  If you think this is something needed, why don't you do this?  If you can answer these questions truthfully, you will eventually come to a decision on what you are going to do from now on.  It could mean putting exercise on hold for awhile or starting right away.  Whatever you decide, enjoy it as much as you can and your wants and needs will align more and more.

"Should-ing" yourself causes a mess that only you can clean up and no one else can really know about.  Although sometimes (in extreme cases) it is a necessary removal of waste, and makes you feel better.  Sounds a lot like sh***ing yourself...

Not a counselor, but just my $.02

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pepitas and Sunflower seeds

I'm always looking for a good snack.  I love these because they are crunchy, salty, and leave no mess!  And I can grab them any time!

Adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions

1 c. Hulled sunflower seeds
1 c. Hulled pumpkin seeds
Filtered water
Sea salt

Place the seeds in an airtight container that holds at least 4 cups.  Add seeds and fill to the top with water.
Add sea salt and mix until the water is extremely salty. 
Close lid and leave 24 hours.  Water may get murky and seeds will expand.
Strain the seeds and rinse.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 150 for 6-12 hours or until the seeds are completely dry and crunchy again.  Flip them around during the process to ensure even drying.
Store in an airtight container.