Fish Stock

In spite of the glowing nutritional profile, I have avoided making fish stock for one reason: because I suspected it would make my house reek of fish. Today I finally got tired of the package of frozen fish bones in my freezer, and decided to try it anyway.

I was correct.

I’ll let ya know how it turns out.

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The jury is still out.

That’s the phrase I’ve been using to describe whether all the “new” foods are working with our sensitivities. Several people have asked me in the past couple of weeks, and I’m just not sure! I haven’t noticed any glaring symptoms with Hannah or Audrey, which is amazing. They even each had a raisin yesterday (salicylate), and neither seemed to react. That was nice! Audrey begged for a little avocado at lunch today (latex), and so far, so good. Even two months ago those little amounts would have had her scratching till her arms bled. We all had a little raw goat milk cheddar yesterday and today, and that would have given all three of us diarrhea a few months ago.

The thing that made me question whether it was working, is my stomach has been upset for a week or so. I did end up eating out three times in the past week, which I know exposed me to soy each time. In addition, our financial stress has been…high. (Anybody want to buy a Jetta for a few hundred more than it’s worth?) I can always count on the expensive enzymes Dr P sells to calm my stomach down if things are otherwise working okay, so I finally ordered some of those and got them yesterday. I simply cannot make myself eat meat rare or even medium most of the time, after eating it well done for my entire life. It’s a stretch for me to eat it with some pink, which I’ve been doing. Therefore, I figure I may need enzymes regularly, though I do sauerkraut and fermented drinks, just not with every meal. Buying enzymes is okay with me, as long as I can tolerate the nutrient-rich foods we’re trying to add back in to our diet (eggs, raw goat dairy, butter, etc.)

So…we’ll see. It’s been kind of an up-and-down week. I can honestly say the thing that might have helped the most was worship time as the kids and I drove an hour to meet up with some friends from out of town yesterday! Bethel Church’s Jesus Culture band has a new album out…so good. Sometimes I have to take my eyes off the things I can do, and put them on God, where they belong.

Coconut Chicken Soup…and dairy

This is the first recipe in the soup section of Nourishing Traditions. I find it interesting that most of the soup recipes have very little meat or veggies included in them. I suppose this is the way soups traditionally are, when you serve meals in multiple courses. Soup is blended smooth like that. However, I’m not able to serve most of our family meals like that. I tend toward one-pot meals. So…I took the idea of this soup, with broth and coconut milk, and made my own version. To the broth (I actually used turkey broth), I added carrots, celery, chopped spinach,  garlic, onion, and leftover cooked turkey (from a turkey I bought and cooked and froze), and voila! Coconut Turkey Soup! When it was finished it still didn’t look like a very complete meal to me, so I quickly cooked a few pieces of bacon. Then I ladled the soup into each bowl, put a dollop of homemade creme fraiche on top, and crumbed bacon over the whole thing. Yum! I gotta start taking pics of this stuff again….

Note on the dairy:

The creme fraiche does not agree with any of us, unfortunately. With the various whole milk dairy foods in NT, I kinda dove right in, probably too quickly. Even the butter I seem to only tolerate a few days a week without discomfort. I have not made an effort to try raw cream for the creme fraiche, just bought organic pasturized cream and commercial buttermilk, since in Colorado you have to buy shares of a herd in order to legally obtain raw milk. Anybody with dairy sensitivity have different results with raw ingredients? I had hoped that culturing it might break it down enough for us to tolerate. We do, however, seem to be doing great on the raw goat’s milk, for which I’m thankful! We only have one share, which gives us a gallon a week. We could easily double it! I’ve been surprised at how well the kids have tolerated the milk, since prior to going gluten free a couple of years ago, even raw goat’s milk made us all sick. I suppose that signals some digestive healing. Yay!

Psst!

I just updated my “About” page. Check it out. 🙂

Cookies

We really like cookies around here. Unfortunately, that means we usually eat the whole batch within a day or two. Even if I freeze some, we raid the freezer. Oh well!

There were two cookie recipes that caught my eye in Nourishing Traditions, the almond cookies, and the macaroons. Actually, these are both in the “snacks and finger foods” section, not the desserts. Does this make them okay? At least they use maple syrup and honey, which I tend to use interchangeably, depending on what I have more of at the moment.

The almond cookies were almost like biscotti – crisp, but heavy with the almonds, not too sweet. And addictive. The girls can’t have almonds (salycilate), but Nick and I had no trouble finishing the batch all by ourselves.

I just finished baking the macaroons. One thing I don’t understand, is why the directions say to bake at 200 until completely dry and crisp? I’ve never had a crisp macaroon. What I love about them is their soft, chewy consistency! Or maybe it’s just the macaroons I’ve had? I’m not sure I’ve ever made them myself before – just bought the ones in the yellow tin from the health food store. Those are made with vegetarian (soy) fed eggs, which I now know make me sick. Using pastured eggs makes all the difference! Anyway, I only did the initial 30 minutes at 300 part of the baking, and ohhhhh man. They are chewy and light, and crispy on the outside…I hope there are some left when Nick gets home! 🙂

Not a fad…

I have several friends who have gone gluten free in the past 6 months or so. They often talk about being harassed by people who don’t understand. I don’t get much of that anymore – people know I’m a freak already and don’t tend to accuse me of fad-dieting. 🙂 I keep wondering how long it will be until these people doing the harassing will start to understand the intense effects gluten can have? We’re talking about major quality of life improvement, just from cutting out gluten. It’s worth it. Top 20 things you should know about the impact of gluten…

Spicy Cabbage Roll Failure

Last night I attempted the recipe for Spicy Cabbage Rolls in NT. (Incidentally, some of the recipes in there are CHALLENGING! I consider myself an experienced cook, but I really have to concentrate on these or I leave stuff out. Like I did last night. Heh.)

For those that don’t have the book, the basic idea is you cook a filling of ground turkey, spices, rice, and egg, and roll it up in steamed cabbage leaves. These are then steamed in broth, the broth is reduced and thickened, and used as a sauce.

The first hurdle was the spices. My kids can’t have the “spicy” spices it calls for, so instead I planned to flavor it with Tarragon and Dill, which are flavors we use in a turkey stir fry recipe that we like. Steaming the cabbage went well, cooking the turkey was fine. Finally, I was ready to put the filling in the cabbage leaves. This was really fun! A few spoonfuls, fold in the sides, roll it up, put it in the pan. Good deal. Then I poured broth over the top and put it on the stove to bring to a boil. About that time, I realized I left out the garlic…AND the rice…lame. Nick told me to take them apart and put it in and then redo all of them…um, no. Grrr…

So it came to a boil, then I put the lid on a set it in the oven at 300 degrees. (I’ve never cooked at such a low temp!) The recipe says to leave it in for an hour, but we were hungry. Finally I got tired of waiting after about 40 minutes. When I pulled the pot out, they had all fallen apart. There were pine nuts and pieces of meat floating in the midst of cabbage leaves. At this point, no joke, I burst into tears. Allow me a little hormonal outburst. After all, I just had a baby two months ago. 😉

I pulled myself together, scooped out the half-rolled cabbage rolls with a slotted spoon, and started boiling the broth to reduce it. Again, I suspect I was just too impatient, but I never did get the sauce to thicken properly. Note to self: this recipe takes awhile. Don’t start it unless you have time to finish it! Heh.

We ate it with rice, and it was fine, but I would do a few things differently next time. (Actually, my kids enjoyed the kale chips I made much more. Who’s going to complain about your 4 year old asking for more kale? Not me!) First, I think adding the rice to the rolls would have helped them stay together. But even then, the whole thing needed some color. The pale cabbage with the brown turkey and brown rice and flecks of green spices just looked very….healthy. In a not-so-good way. 🙂 I LOVE this technique, and would totally use it again, but I think I will take the Turkey Stir Fry recipe we have made for years, and cut the veggies (carrots, celery, and red bell pepper) very small, and wrap it like this. THAT would be delicious! And colorful. 🙂

My Pantry

My soaking and fermenting projects were gradually taking over my kitchen counter, so I decided it was high time to make space for them in my pantry. I took out anything that does not get used frequently, or anything that would be better stored elsewhere, and thanks to my HUGE pantry, now have a whole shelf available!

Here’s the closeup:

I use a dry erase marker on glass jars to record either the start time (S) or the end time (E), and if a marker doesn’t work well it gets a sticky note instead. I can’t keep it all straight in my head. 🙂 On the shelf left to right, sauerkraut, sourdough starter, soaking walnuts, soaking almonds, milk souring to make cream cheese and whey, buckwheat soaking, homemade sourdough gluten free bread. I’m working toward getting rid of plastic bowls, but glass ones are expensive so we’re working with what we’ve got for now. I have been able to find several glass dishes/cookware at thrift stores.

Mussels

Despite having grown up in Southern California, I’ve never had much seafood. My mom always used whole grains and served us vegetables, but grilled cheese and tomato soup, spaghetti, and chicken and broccoli casserole (the one with crushed Ritz crackers on top) were dinner mainstays. It was simple, inexpensive food. I still love those flavors.

When I started reading that seafood is high in minerals and fat soluble vitamins, I was intrigued. What does this stuff cost? How do you cook it? So I started lingering near the seafood counter when I walked through our Whole Foods now and then. I noticed the prices of things. We already eat fish once a week. I wanted something else. The cheapest per pound were the clams and mussels.

So this week, I told the guy at the counter that I didn’t know much about seafood, but was wanting to try clams or mussels. Definitely mussels, he said. Clams have a stronger fishy taste. OK, mussels it is. They’re $3/pound here, and he said to figure 1/2 pound to 3/4 pound per person since they’re not much meat. OK, give me 3 pounds. It’ll take me about 10 minutes, he said. OK, cool.

So the next day, it was time to cook them. I read up on them online. You have to clean them first. This means rinsing them several times to get rid of any grit left, throwing away any that are open if they don’t close when you tap them (gulp!), and removing their “beards.” When I first read they have beards, that alone grossed me out pretty well. What does a beard look like on a mussel? I hadn’t opened the package yet. OK, beards… Beards are this little group of almost wiry, stringy things that hang out the back of the mussel. You can pull them off with your fingers, or cut them with a knife. I did the first couple, and the whole thing about these actually being alive, and pulling some sort of appendage off of them, well…couldn’t do it. I called for backup. Nick did it for me. For the next 20 minutes I got to hear:

“Ooh, this one has a BIG beard!”

“I can’t get this to come off…”

“Um, that was weird.”

Ya know, that kind of thing. I sat on a stool in the kitchen and nursed the baby, while trying not to puke.

Hannah came in and said, “What’s that smell?!?”

They smelled like the ocean, like they’re supposed to. Made me miss CA.

Finally they were all done. I rinsed them one more time, melted butter and olive oil together in a deep saute pan, threw in a couple cloves of chopped garlic and a few capers, added a little chicken stock, and dumped in the mussels. Then I covered the pan with its glass lid, and waited for it to heat up.

Here I was met with another dilemma. These things are alive. I’m about to steam them to death. Whew. Suddenly, for some reason, I remembered how the Native Americans felt about killing their food. They worshiped the animal for providing food for them. I have no intention of worshiping a shellfish, but the idea made sense to me for the first time. As I watched the pan, I really did silently thank those things for providing my family and me with nutrition. That’s what God provided them for. It’s a good thing. This somehow made it okay.

They opened one at a time in the steaming pan, and released their liquid, which smelled wonderful. Before I knew it they were almost all open so I pulled it off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, I put several mussels into each bowl for the four of us, and then spooned the broth with the garlic and capers over the top. I meant to sprinkle Celtic sea salt over that, but forgot. We didn’t miss it.

At the table, I bravely demonstrated how you pull the mussel out of the shell with your fork, and then you eat it, though I’d never tasted them. The girls enthusiastically began eating, and finished off their bowls! I could not believe them. Nick was somewhat hesitant at first, but then went back for second helpings!  They are funny-looking little animals, but very easy to eat and very tender. The butter and broth from the mussels was delicious. We ate a little homemade sourdough rice bread with it, dipping it in the broth. I placed a large bowl in the middle of the table for everyone to toss the shells into. The shells stay attached together but open, and will close if you push them together. So, they became puppets, and they “ate” our forks and the girls laughed a lot at how funny the whole thing was.

Overall, I’d say it was a smashing success! Inexpensive, relatively easy to do, very quick, very nutritious, and my kids loved them! Totally did not expect that. This is the type of thing I would order in a restaurant in a second, but the prep work makes it hard to want to do it again at home. My appetite wasn’t very good after that experience, though they tasted good. I suspect I’d get used to it eventually.

Liver…dun, dun, dunnnnnn

Yeah, I know. I thought so too. I might still think so.

Liver is one of the most nutrient-rich foods that exists. Organic beef liver is fairly inexpensive and easy to find here. After testing deficient in zinc, and having various tooth problems that I’m learning point to nutrient/mineral deficiency, I decided I would put on my big-girl pants and try it. Liver 1-2 times per week is recommended in the Bradley diet for pregnant women, as well as the Weston Price diet for pregnant and nursing women. It has the perfect balances of nutrients – no danger of overdosing on one particular thing, or missing nutrients that will help absorb the others.

So, the package I bought was about one pound. It cost around $2. It was frozen and I thawed it in the fridge for a couple days before getting up the nerve to do something with it. Nick was gone at work, and the kids were watching a movie. It was time.

According to the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, I had let the liver marinate in lemon juice for several hours. Then I dredged it in brown rice flour, salt and pepper and browned each side of the slices in clarified butter (ghee) over high heat. I don’t ever cook on high heat, but several recipes in NT recommend it. I wonder if high heat is different over a gas flame than it is on an electric range? I have one of those flat top electric ranges and high heat burns stuff. Luckily I watched it closely. I think it took 1-2 minutes on each side for it to be browned. I then transferred it to a plate in the oven set at 350. Then I realized that was way too hot and turned it down to 300, which was probably still too hot.

After reading the recipe again, I realized I was supposed to have onions browning in another pan. Oops. So I sliced those up and threw them in the pan with more butter and olive oil. It said 30 minutes on medium, which became 10 minutes on medium low. They would have been totally burnt otherwise.

I pulled the liver out of the oven and noticed that the larger piece had bled through the flour crust. Gulp. I took the smallest piece of the three, a little smaller than a deck of cards, and put it on a plate with the onions. Then I began pep-talking myself. I wish I was kidding.

You can do this. It’ll be fine.

I took the first bite. The breading was good, crunchy and seasoned the right amount. The liver was soft and easy to chew. It didn’t taste funny until after I swallowed, then it had an almost metallic aftertaste. The onions helped, but I’m not really a huge fan of onions anyway, so I kind of had to make myself eat those too. About this point, Hannah walked into the kitchen.

“What’s that?”

“Liver.” (I was proud of myself, I said this totally matter-of-factly)

“Can I have some?”

“Sure!”

I cut off a tiny bite and gave it to her.

“Yum!” And she walked off.

Audrey came in, did the same thing, and had the exact same reaction.

OK, Sara, don’t be a baby!

I finished the piece.

I can’t say it’s my favorite, but it is edible. Mostly. And after reading the things I have about it, I will definitely be eating it again. I don’t know that I will serve it to my family until I learn to eat it easily. The last thing I want is to influence my children’s opinion of such a healthy food with my own pre-conceived ideas about it. So, there ya go.

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