Monday, January 31, 2011

A chicken in every pot

In a 1928 Republican political campaign, the promise was made to "put a chicken in every pot".Such was the promise of a life of prosperity- a chicken in every pot and an auto in every back yard was the vision of prosperity offered in the dark days after the Great Depression.

Today, in our world of "healthy" eating, such a promise has lost all meaning. Chicken, don't you know , comes either in the form of a nugget, KFC or a boneless, skinless low fat and calorie "frankenfood" that has been engineered for maximum profitability and convenience. The creature it comes from bears resemblance to that running around in a children's petting zoo farm yard, but that's where it ends. Or it is purchased in the form of equally processed boneless , skinless legs. Theoretically, it is chicken. A whole, real chicken is this scary, intimidating thing that is best left for an archaic time , when people made actual meals from real foods that involve the use of vegetable peelers, butcher knives, roasting pans and other such complicated things.

Truth be told, a whole chicken you find in the supermarket has been less tampered with through the whole process of it's life.I say this by the fact that it has a breast and thighs that do not appear to be the Dolly Parton  or Kim Kardashian of the poultry world. It is proportionate to the rest of the critter. A whole chicken, if approached with respect, can provide almost 3 or 4 meals or parts of those meals. By respect I mean an attitude that every scrap of the creature is valuable and food. The way that our grandmothers approached nearly all food. It was valuable , and should be treated as money in your pocket.

The humble bird would begin life as a simple roast chicken dinner. If you wanted to get fancy, brine the bird before roasting to bring out the maximum flavor. A whole roast chicken looks like a mini thanksgiving, and can be carved in the same way you carve a turkey.After the meal is done , let the carcass cool, and pick all of the meat off the remaining carcass. Depending on the size of the appetites you are dealing with, this can be anything from 2 cups of meat to  1/2 cup. Meal number two can become chicken salad or ala king or even fried rice. Third meal happens when you collect the bones, place them in a pot with vegetable tops , parings and some spices, water, vinegar and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Cool, strain and you have a broth that can be used to make soup, cook grains in or simply nourish on its own.

In our "health " conscious and fat phobic world today , such meal stretching is impossible. One food, one dish is the mindset.A boneless skinless breast feeds one person, one meal, and that is that.No bones, no skin, no fat, no mess. In exchange for convenience and calorie consciousness we have tossed out an opportunity to stretch our food dollar and have access to some valuable nutrients( bone broth is high in calcium and protien). One thing eating bone broth helps  prevent is osteoporosis. Is it a coincidence that as we consume more boneless, skinless ,low fat "chickenstein", we also find more and more drugs like Boniva on the market? I think not. And as we consume less and less "evil" saturated fats we find a greater need for more formulations of drugs for the management of depression . Could it be because our bodies need these saturated fats to keep a chemical balance ? ( Trans-fatty acids lead to depression- and are found in things like margarine and vegetable oils that become rancid, oxidized and hydrogenated).

It is said that when one begins to live a green lifestyle where the focus is on recycling, prosperity is often a surprising side benefit. I think that when we return to a real food lifestyle ( shunning anything that comes in a can, a box or a vacuum sealed package, we start for economy but reap real health in the process.

Integrated Supplements Blog: Study Finds Oxidized Cholesterol In All Dairy Powders Tested - Levels Increased With Storage

Integrated Supplements Blog: Study Finds Oxidized Cholesterol In All Dairy Powders Tested - Levels Increased With Storage

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trans-Palmitoleic Acid, Metabolic Risk Factors, and New-Onset Diabetes in U.S. Adults — Ann Intern Med

More proof that we need fat in our diet- and from animals. High fat dairy raises your level of HDL Skim milk should be avoided like the plague- it contains oxidized cholesterol , and will do your body more harm than eating butter, full fat cheese, full fat yogurt and such.

Trans-Palmitoleic Acid, Metabolic Risk Factors, and New-Onset Diabetes in U.S. Adults — Ann Intern Med

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Healthy sleep cycles balance hormones and burn fat

Weight is more the result of hormones than calories in and out. Getting the right amount of sleep will serve you more than having Jillian beat the pounds off you.

Healthy sleep cycles balance hormones and burn fat

Impatient !

It's been a quiet sort of week here. Been working on strengthening my knee, healing my metabolisim and just dreaming of spring :-)

Turns out , my knee injury is the result of sprained ligaments, and the timetable for healing such is 3-6 months. I do not wish to hear this, as it has been 2 months and 1 week now since the injury. Slow, steady progress is being made, but impatience seems to be building. I am sick of walking with a cane, get really frustrated when my knee shows signs of weakness and just grumble a whole lot  ! I am a very bad patient .

As to the metabolic healing, repairing this can take even longer. Reports I have read indicate it can take as much as a year to see a turn around- again, not what I wish to hear. Yesterday I decided to check my resting temperature, 30 minutes after waking up. If you are "normal" the reading will be very close to 98.6 ( variations within the 98 degree range is considered normal). Mine was 97.5, which is an indication that my metabolism is still trying to balance. It's interesting to me that many years ago , when trying to conceive and using the basal temperature readings as an indication of fertility, my normal temperature was always in the 97 range- dropping to 97.4 when I ovulated and shooting to 97.8 after and then dropping to 97.5 . My weight has been an issue since I was 18 months old , and I have also always registered a low body temperature. This seems to scream volumes in the light of things I have learned recently. My metabolism has never worked correctly, and the root cause  is most likely PCOS  

The Checkup - Weight loss's link to better health questioned

Lose weight to get healthy >? Think again. Change you habits to improve your health instead

The Checkup - Weight loss's link to better health questioned

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Liver and Onions

I have a confession to make. I was a very odd child ! While my siblings and friends would go nuts over pre- sweetened cereals , I could not stand them. I wanted eggs and some kind of meat for breakfast. Sadly that would only happen while camping. While they would sneak cookies from the cookie jar, I would swipe cans of mussels or tubes of liver sausage and eat them. I would crave protein with fats instead of sugars and carbs. Something tells me that way back then I was naturally trying to address my nutritional needs through cravings.  Another odd thing was that my favorite dinner was....liver and onions ! Truth be told I could have probably ate it every night, but for various reasons this did not happen. I continued to make and crave liver and onions till one day the "health" advocates determined it was a very bad food to eat, due to the cholesterol, fat and chemicals. We now know that blood cholesterol has nothing to do with cholesterol you ingest from foods and EVERYTHING to do with the amount of insulin your system pumps out in an attempt to balance the affects of carbs you ingest, in particular without fats and protein. In other words, an egg white omlette and fat free bran muffin is going to bring you a lot closer to a heart attack, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and so forth than the whole eggs, bacon and butter breakfast ever will.

But back to liver. Turns out our mothers and grandmothers were right- it is good for us. It is also something that we should eat once a week ( like fatty fish). What exactly is it good for ? 1 slice beef liver contains 78.2 grams protein,1,539 % RDA Vitamin A and 101% RDA Iron. It is  Low in sodium, No sugar, High in iron,
Very high in niacin,Very high in pantothenic acid,Very high in phosphorus,Very high in riboflavin,Very high in selenium ,Very high in vitamin B6, Very high in vitamin B12 and High in zinc.Liver has long been a part of the treatment for pernicious anemia because it is a rich source of heme iron (the organic iron in animal foods). This type of iron is five times more easily absorbed than non-heme iron. Pork liver contains the highest amount of iron, at 34 mg per 4-ounce serving.

Liver is something that I intend to serve once a week, and I was struck by the absence of liver recipes in most cookbooks. Liver is also something that you will no longer find in most fresh butcher counters of grocery stores ( along with heart, tongue, kidneys and brains/sweetbreads). You find it in the freezer case. Happily I remember how my mother used to make it, so I will show you how it is done. Liver, when cooked right, is absolutely delicious as well as nutritious.

 First, place your liver in a dish, cover it with milk and allow it to soak 30-45 minutes. This step pulls the "strong " taste out of the liver and makes it much more palatable to more sensitive pallets. Meanwhile, peel and slice a mess of onions and saute them in bacon grease or butter. Avoid vegetable oils or Crisco because they make the liver taste wrong.

When browned, transfer to a platter and add more bacon grease to the pan and bring to a high heat. Dredge the liver in a mix of flour, salt , pepper and paprika and quickly fry in the pan- no more than 3 minutes on each side. It usually winds up put it in the ban, count to 30, flip, count to 30 and transfer to the platter. Serve with grilled onions and katsup or balsamic vinegar, but nothing is really needed.

My son has only had liver a handful of times , but liver sausage sandwiches several times. He saw the platter, grabbed two slices of liver and inhaled them ! Something tells me he just might really be my son after all. Yes I carried him and gave birth to him but I became very suspicious when it was learned that he disliked chocolate. I could not believe that ANYTHING that came from my body could not like chocolate ! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just a little geeky-ness

I have been having fun, sifting through the books and collecting other tidbits from old 19th century cookbooks. There is a wealth of information to be drawn from these ! I would like to share with you some things I learned about the basic loaf of bread.

The word loaf comes from lifan, meaning to raise or lift up. This described the action of having dough stand till fermented and then mixing it with new dough ingredients, "lifting" the whole mass , making it lighter and more porus.Wheat is classified as red or white, in reference to the color of the grains, and as winter or summer. Winter wheat is sown in the autumn and summer wheat in the spring.Soft wheat is tender and floury, hard wheat is tough and contains more gluten.There are four specific and different processes for milling flour ( St Louis Process,Haxall Process,Minnesota and Health Food Flour)Good flour should not be white in color, but yellowish.It holds together in a mass when squeezed and retains the impression of the hand, up to the marks on the skin.

Kind of cool ! Today it seems we only focus on the price, white or whole wheat and little else. No wonder it is so easy for food manufacturers to slip things into products and sell us nutritionally balanced lab products in the name of food. I think we have allowed ourselves to become to far removed from actual food.

In other news, stability and strength has been growing, and I am starting a formal exercise program this week. 5 minute sessions of tai chi, walking and shadow boxing 3 times a day. This week they will be 5 minute sessions, next week increased to 7 minutes and so on. It's not so much with the goal of weight loss ( I am learning that this is one of the most harmful things that you can possibly do to your long term over all health), as it is a move to increase strength, flexibility and improve the quality of sleep. Shadow boxing and tai chi are just a whole lot of fun ! Tai Chi has been shown to be very helpful in the prevention of falls as we age, as well as increase flexibility. It's fun to pretend to be water flowing, birds flying or animals frolicking !

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pasta, building and reads

I want to share with you something my son made for me . I was going to make another batch of sourdough pasta yesterday and I was trying to figure out how to hang it to dry. I mentioned to him my dilemma and asked if he could think of a way to dry this . When he was little I would make homemade pasta fairly often and hang it on a wooden clothes rack to dry, and then crawl under the racks, sneaking bits of raw pasta that had dried and broken off. He knew what was needed, and designed and built this.out of Knex

And I proceeded to fill it up with home made pasta !

Pretty cool, eh ?

Today I begin reading the first stack of books I scored for the nutrition self directed course. I am one of those strange people who reads several books at once, speed reads and takes lots of notes. The index cards will be flying fast and furious for the next few whiles here. What am I currently reading ?

97 Orchard by Jane Zigmond( a story of 5 different immigrant families living in a New Your City Tenament and what they ate)
Breakthrough- Suzanne Sommers ( about using food as a cure)
The Omnivore's Dilemma- Micheal Pollan
In Defense of Food- Micheal Pollan
The End of Food- Paul Roberts
The Hundred Year Lie- Randal Fitzgerald ( About nutrition, food and medicine)
The Schwarenbein Principle- Diana Schwarzenbein MD ( about reversing metabolic damage caused by dieting)
Appetite for Profit - Michelle Simond ( truth about modern food)
What are you really Eating-Amanda Ursell ( how to really read a nutritional label)

Should make for some interesting reading. I was rather surprised to learn from the 97 Orchard book how important cabbage was to all ethnic groups , and that there was a side industry of door to door cabbage shredders. When the cabbage harvest came in , they would go from door to door with a mandoline slicer type device and help the housewife shred cabbage for making home made sauerkraut, at the cost of a penny per head. Sort of a clue as to how common fermented foods were at that time to all people. I love learning facts like this !

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fermenting Vegetables with Sandor Katz

I tried the sauerkraut yesterday, an sadly I did something wrong , as I wound up with something that tasted salty and spoiled. I noticed that when I opened the jar it was very dry, so that would indicate that I did not squeeze these enough in the beginning. I came across this video yesterday, and I am going to try this again. I am going to shoot for as moist of a mixture as he has here. Thought I would share the video with you all as well so those of us whom are learning can learn together ! Important points seem get enough liquid, check the liquid and add water if nessisary

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moroccan Chicken and future plans

Yesterday , the biggest decision was to enroll in a Real Food nutrition class or not. I am a big fan of education, and most of my life I have been active in some form of studies, often informally. Herbs and alternative medicine have been the primary ones for the last 16 years, and when something comes along that I feel will help round out the existing knowledge and expand it, I jump at the chance ! Unfortunately this is not a free course, and till Nick is graduated the majority of funds devoted to education are applied to his education. I pondered and pondered, and came to a brilliant conclusion- rather than enroll in the class, I will simply buy the textbook and do some independent study. This is not an accredited course, so there is no real need to enroll ( in my opinion). Between our library and Amazon, I was able to find not only the text book , but several that the textbook cited as sources. I am excited ! A course that actually recognizes that food is an essential component in nutrition !

Sadly, this seems to be something that has been forgotten. In order to get "healthy", you must use secret information, passed down to the masses via an authority. Sort of like a religious rite where the Priest is the only one privy to the information and will dispense it to the masses. The secret knowledge comes from a lab that evaluates the components of said product, and lists them in the form of calories, fat, protein and so forth.To be "healthy" ( sanctified), you must ingest a certain number of these components, and ignore all else. Appetite, enjoyment, aversion are all unnecessary ( and evil) things. These are "The Devil" , and all  efforts should be taken to turn your back from these. Interesting theory. Seems that nature and The Creator were just doing stupid experiments till science came along and straightened us all out !  

Amongst the real food offerings in this house yesterday was a new to me chicken recipe. Moroccan chicken, and the blend of spices sounded very intriguing .

 Moroccan Style Chicken ( Sally Fallon inspired)

  1 frying chicken cut into pieces( or parts, preferably with bone and skin on)
1/4 Soy Sauce
1/4 cup  dry white wine OR vinegar
  2 TBL  honey
 juice of 2 lemons
 grated rind of two lemons or 3 TBL preserved lemon peel
  1 clove  garlic peeeled and mashed
  1 teaspoon  curry powder
  1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1/2 teaspoon  dried oregano, thyme and pepper
  3 Tablespoons  melted butter
  2     cups  chicken stock
  8                     dried apricot halves -- coarsely chopped
                        and soaked in warm  water

Mix soy sauce, wine, honey, lemon juice, lemon rind, and all spices together. Marinate chicken pieces in this mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Remove pieces, pat dry and set skin side up in a stainless stell baking pan, reserving marinade. Brush with butter, season with sea salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour. Reduce heat if chicken begins to burn. Remove chicken to heated platter while making sauce.
Pour chicken stock into the pan, bring to a boil and stir well.  Add marinade and drained apricot pieces. Let sauce reduce by about one half. Check seasoning and pour over chicken pieces.

I served this with roast broccoli, whole wheat couscous, the sauce and the fermented cranberry relish that I made the other day

The verdict ? The chicken was flavorful, but not what I anticipated for some reason. The lemon twang seemed to overpower the other spices. The sauce was not as thick as one would anticipate. These were infinitely better than the fermented cranberries ! WAY too salty ! The consistency was a bit softer than whole berry relish, but the addition of salt to cranberries was kind of like a cruel joke. I don't think I will be making this one again. Live and learn I guess. I am going to try fermented carrots next week, and tonight we try the sauerkraut  that I made. What excitement 1!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Obesity is Starvation

Pork roast and a reflection

Snow, snow , snow ! Happily we are not getting as much as a lot of areas in the country, but we seem to be getting our fair share here. Snow, from the perspective of looking at it through a plate glass window from a warm house is pretty. Looking at is from the perspective of the mess you must shovel, drive or walk through is not ! As a kid, a snowstorm represented a day off school and the opportunity to go sledding in the local hilly ravine turned opportunity to catch serious air. As an older adult, snow represents yet another time to contemplate bone density, the laws of gravity and stiff joints. I don't think I took as much time with the kid perspective as I should have ! Then again because of some of the time spent in that kid perspective, the adult perspective looms large( I broke some ribs sledding and my collarbone while skiing back in the good old days and they inform me of the approach of damp weather these days).

For some reason, winter weather makes me think pork roast. No idea why, but I always do. Perhaps it is something about the nutritional make up of pork- it is a good source of B6, B12, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc . Then again it can be something about the pig's role on a farm. Pigs were kept because they were an amazing animal that could convert household scraps into meat. Slopped with the leavings of the family table, cooking scraps, bits and bobs of various organic matter, pigs were kind of like bone broth on the hoof. Take what is thought of as useless, and transform it into something very useful. It has always struck me as interesting that one of the very reasons why I consider pigs to be valuable , some religious thoughts consider this to be reason to declare them unfit for human consumption. Where as they see it as the animal being unclean because it has consumed an unclean thing, I see it as a tribute to nature that this animal has the capacity to take the unclean and clean it for other use. Kind of like the water cycle when you get down to it. Did you know that the amount of water on the planet has been the same since the day it was formed ? It is made clean and usable through the water cycle. All of the snow and rains that are happening are evidence of the melting polar ice caps. We are going to have a very wet time for a long while now it seems !

But back to pork- I came across yet another recipe for a pork loin roast that said "make me". This one was to be served with a sauce, and it made me mourn the loss of my gravy boats over the years. Serving sauce in a coffee cup just seems wrong !

Asian Pork Loin

  2 lb  Pork Loin
  5 cloves garlic
  3 onions, sliced
  1 apple, chopped
  1  can  pineapple chunks, drained
  2 cups  chicken broth
  1/2 c.  splenda
  1/3 c.  balsmic vinegar
  2 t.   soy sauce.

Toss pork loin, garlic, onions, apple , pineapple and chicken broth in crock pot- cook on low for 4-6 hrs. Pour sauce into pan, add Splenda, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, heat to boiling. Dissolve 2 T cornstarch in cold water, add to sauce to thicken.Slice roast and serve with sauce

Here it is , served with the sauce, soaked rice and saute'd Kale. Chard, kale and other dark greens seem to be so much better in the winter than salads are !

The gravy boat loss was contemplated by me deeply. Part of it was because of an upcoming anniversary. On the 17th we will have been living together for 30 years, and married for 30 years this coming August ( yes we were bad kids and lived together without benefit of marriage- something a lot more shocking at that time than it is now to be sure). As I was hunting down something to serve sauce in, I realized that in our 30 years of housekeeping I have only had one gravy boat, and should have had more. In comparison I have had 10 wine cork removers and have used them very infrequently ( perhaps 15 times in our entire history together) and 3 melon balers that have only been used twice. I still have one coffee cup that was given to me at one of my bridal showers, and the two original sets of cutlery I received as wedding presents. Other than that, nothing about me or my kitchen equipment is the same as it was in those days. I am different, as is he, and the amazing thing is that we have managed to change in ways that still complement each other. That is a good thing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Now this is interesting ( and could be the proof that conventional wisdom is totally wrong)

If it is the fall or winter, and if you happen to live with the average American male, football will be at least discussed during the season. Yes, I know that women also love the sport, but as a rule football tends to be in the realm of male pastimes. I have yet to meet a guy who did not have a team that they favored, knew about or were in the smallest degree a fan of. So, when you live with two males and it is the cooler months, you will find a game or two at least on your radio or TV at some time. I must confess, I would rather play than watch football. (Okay, these days I could not play even if I wanted to, but you get the idea). I am a football dummy- I do no understand how the scores are computed, what position is what, or what makes up a good or bad play. All I know is that football players are professional athletes who spend about 6-8 months out of the year training, playing, surrounded by professionals who are able to mold their bodies into the optimum specimen for the game.Trainers, coaches, sports medicine, work outs and more. Few of us could step in and go through their training or pre- game workouts, to be sure. No one would call a professional football player a couch potato. These guys are perhaps the gold standard of active ! The sports medicine/trainers are able to get them to rally through an injury as a rule , in order to return to the game and nutritionally their needs are calculated by science. It's not simply big guy grabs a ball, runs and knocks down folks in the way. Different positions are treated with a slightly different diet and work out to archive the ultimate in human anatomical engineering for the position according to current knowledge. Wide shoulders, muscular thighs, strong arms, and flat stomachs.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself watching a couple of football games over the weekend and noticing the beginnings ( or more) of a belly bulge on several players. A belly bulge is the result of abdominal fat, brought on by too much Cortisol ( a stress hormone) in the bloodstream. Then I looked even closer and began to realize that according to the current BMI nonsense ( weight with height), almost every single one of these professional athletes would be called Obese. So here we have a group of highly paid, scientifically trained athletes who are technically obese, AND have belly bulges. Huh ????? ( Quarterback Payton Manning is one example) I pointed this out to Bob, and we got into a meaningful discussion about the affects of stress, fitness, weight and more, which led me to doing a little investigating this morning. Turns out , my eyes did not deceive me ! Obesity IS a problem in the NFL ( click here to read)  

So if it is simply a matter of calories in vs calories out  and moving more will bring a healthy weight, why are football players obese ???

Could it be that weight is, after all, NOT controlled by thermodynamics, but by hormones ? Let's make something clear from the start- hormones are not simply things that control your period and sex drive. The body contains numerous hormones that control all manner of bodily functions. Hormones are regulated by FAT- so if you are eating a low fat diet, your hormones can and will become imbalanced in time. One hormone in particular is tied closely to stress, and when it is out of balance it creates belly fat. That hormone is called Cortisol. Another will make you hungry for chemical reasons , and that hormone is called Leptin. This page gives a very brief explanation of the role hormones play in weight 

So here you have this group of athletes, doing all that the current wisdom says one should do for optimal physical condition, whom are technically obese and showing the effects of stress hormones , in part BECAUSE of the current wisdom ( the training schedule, actual game play). And we mere mortal, ordinary persons are supposed to follow the same wisdom and expect positive results ???? I don't know about you, but I think this might be the best evidence to date to kick the current wisdom to the curb and start listening to the kind of wisdom that prevailed BEFORE nonsense like the lipid hypothesis , low fat diets and aerobic theology prevailed. You know, way back when people were actually healthy. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bring on the cranberries !

I was shuffling food in my freezer the other day , and I discovered  that I have an unnatural amount of cranberries in my freezer . They were very inexpensive this fall, we enjoy cranberry relish, but I believe 12 bags of these little beauties is just too much !. Happily I stumbled upon an recipe for a fermented cranberry relish while blog reading, and I decided to give it a whirl for myself. Should make a nice side relish for various poultry and pork dishes .

Fermented Cranberry Relish

  3c.  raw cranberries( from the freezer)
  2 Blood Oranges chopped into large sections
  1/2c.  sliced almonds soaked for 24 hrs in water and apple cider vinegar to remove phytic acid
 1/2c.  sugar( I use Splenda)
 1/2 c. orange juice
  1 t.  cinnamon
  2t.  lemon juice
  2 t.  sea salt

Process the cranberries, nuts, and orange sections in the food processor until they’re processed to a medium consistency (not large chunks, not liquified – somewhere in the middle).  Stir in the sugar,  juice, salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice.  If it looks like it needs some more liquid, add another 1/4 c. of juice.
Once everything is mixed well, put into a glass quart sized jar.  Press down so that the liquid rises up to the top, then add 2 t. salt to the top.   Cover and let sit on the counter at room temperature for two days to ferment.  Put it in the fridge after 2 days

I am still waiting to test the saurkraut taste wise. I moved it to the refrigerator the other day after it had been singing and bubbling on the counter. I released the gas a few times to prevent it from exploding, and what I smelled  seemed perfectly saurkraut-ish . Plans are to use some this week in a corned beef salad and as a side for one of the planned dinners. Meanwhile we sampled the apple beet relish  with lunch, after giving it a few more days to settle and chill

Lovely tasting stuff, this is ! As it sets the flavors mingle to create something similar to a sweet, horseradish sort of relish without the strong horseradish bite. We wound up eating it as a side for a couple of meals, and I now have a second batch brewing on the counter


      Apple & Beetroot Relish

  3    large  apples (about 1 ½ pounds) -- cored but not peeled
  3  large  beets (about 1 ½ pounds) -- peeled
  2    star anise pods
  1   tablespoon  whole cloves
  1  tablespoon  unrefined sea salt

Shred apples and beets by hand, or in a food processor.
Toss the shredded apples and beets together until well-combined and mixed together.
Add the star anise and whole cloves to the apples and beetroot, and continue to toss until the spices are evenly distributed among the shredded fruit and vegetables.
In a mason jar  layer the apple and beetroot.
Periodically sprinkle unrefined sea salt over the layers of apple and beetroot and mash with a wooden spoon or mallet to encourage the fruit and vegetables to release their juices, creating a luscious brine to encourage the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.
Ferment in a mason jar  for a minimum of three to four days, or longer, depending on the level of warmth in your kitchen.After your apple and beetroot relish has sufficiently cultured, remove the star anise pods and whole cloves. Place the apple and beetroot relish into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
YIELD: Approximately, 24 2-ounce portions.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sourdough Waffles

I don't know if I blogged about my New Years Resolutions here- it's a week into the New Year and so far I have been doing really well with them. Rather than set out a goal related to weight loss ( like I will lose 10 lbs or whatever), I am setting the following goals towards nourishing eating.

1. Eat some form of fermented or soaked food every day
2.Eat a form of calcium rich food every day ( full fat dairy, bone broth )
3. Eat a nutrient dense vegetable once a day ( kale, chard, beets, pumpkin, etc)

Simple goals that will go a long way towards overall health. I have been really good about eating fruits, veggies, real food, drinking water, so these are a further step on this quest . One tasty way to fulfill those goals is with sourdough foods, and one of the easiest of these is sourdough pancakes or waffles. What better way to start off a weekend morning ? Having made a sourdough starter last week, it was an easy move to sourdough waffles this morning

Sourdough Whole Wheat Waffles

The night before, mix:
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

In the morning, add:
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder

Cook on a waffle iron- makes 6 round waffles

I serve these with breakfast sausage, real maple syrup, milk and fruit. Full , nourished bellies are a great way to start out a busy day of household chores and fun !

Friday, January 7, 2011

Giving into temptation

Found out yesterday that if certain stretches were still too painful to do while standing, I could do them without pain while lying in bed. Sounds silly and like the ultimate lazy person's work out !  In reality, doing the movements without the added burden of body weight, at first, helps the muscle to get in the stretch alone. I discovered this quite by accident , and doing these adds a little more mobility. More mobility means more activity  and more activity means more strength , and before long these add up to a return of normal life . A good thing !

Back in the dark ages , when my son was locked into the worst of the texture issues and bad diet, you would find our cabinets full of pasta and the infamous blue box mac and cheese, because these were the only foods he would eat without having a neurological melt down because of the texture.After a lot of supplement intervention  and work, many other foods were eaten without problem, and I have really shuddered at the idea of making any form of macaroni and cheese again ! While I try to avoid it, Nick does request it from time to time ( but looks at the blue box stuff and says it is not food). I fear it would set off a trigger in him for one thing, as well as being such a high carb food ! We do need some carbs to keep our adrenal functions healthy and other nourishment at a cellular level ( something that does not become apparent till one goes through several years of low carb eating and a metabolic crisis hits), but it seems to be best to eat these with a high level of fat in order to minimize the bodies insulin response. If you eat high carbs with low fat, your body responds in such a way that you will soon feel hungry /snacky, and will often lead to a binge. ( this is NOT a form of uncontrolled behavior, but a pure biological response) . For this reason, if I was to make a macaroni and cheese again it would definitely be made from scratch , and would have to be the right proportion of fat and protein to carbs. I stumbled on this one that I found on Kelly the Kitchen Kop's blog, and decided to give it a try

Mona Lou’s Homemade Baked Macaroni & Cheese
  3 1/2 c  pasta
  1 1/2 sticks butter
  16 oz  shredded cheddar
  3 slices  colby cheese
  2 c  milk
salt and pepper

Boil water in a large pan, add about 2 T. Olive oil
Add 3 1/2 c. elbow macaroni
Stir well several times during the 8 minutes it cooks
Drain well in a colander, running hot water over the macaroni
Use a cold stick of butter to grease a large 4 qt. glass bowl and add the macaroni
Add sea salt & pepper
Add 2-8oz. packages of shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese Stir well
Add milk just until you can see it coming up the sides of the macaroni – about 1 1/2 to 2 c. – not sure on the amounts, I’ll try to remember to keep track next time I make it.
Put a few slices of colby cheese and 5 or 6 pats of butter on top
Bake 375-400 for about 1 1/4 hours, depending on how hot your oven is – it should be just light brown on top

Verdict ? DEFINITELY high enough in fat  to prevent a binge, as well as protein. Super easy to make and my son thought he had died and gone to heaven . I thought it was missing something small, but was definitely yummy ! Baked Mac and Cheese is a hard thing to dislike. I am going to add this one to the rotation of meatless meals in Lent. Lent and spring - coming up faster than we realize !

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crackers and noodles

Yesterday afternoon, while going about the daily chores, I started to get this deep down feeling that I actually WILL recover from this injury ! I felt a glimmer of a basic core strength, and it reminded me that while the progress is very slow, it is happening. As long as I drink about a quart of Nettle Tea  a day and take time to elevate my leg, I can live with a Tylenol in the morning and on going to bed , and the mobility increases. Still working on being stable enough to get in the shower instead of a sponge bath, but I can feel it right around the corner. Yay ! Hopefully  come May 1st I will be able to take my cane, tie ribbons on it and dance around it because I will no longer need it to walk . My own Maypole of celebration there.

 The other day Nick grabbed some very old, very stale Graham crackers from the cabinet for a snack, and ate them but requested that we make our own. Which translates to "Mom, I bet you could do a lot better on your own"- he has come to see that the home made alternative often tastes a lot better. I have made crackers in the past ( easy to do) , but never graham crackers. I came across a recipe from one of the blogs I read ( cannot remember which one- sorry !) , and told him we could definitely make our own

Whole Wheat Graham Crackers
 2 1/2 cups  white whole wheat flour
  1 cup  dark brown sugar -- lightly packed
  1 teaspoon  baking soda
  3/4 teaspoon  sea salt
  1 stick  unsalted butter -- cut into 1-inch cubes  1/3 cup honey
 1/3 cup  whole milk
  2 Tablespoons  whey
  2 tablespoons  pure vanilla extract
  1 1/2 teaspoons  cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, whey and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight
When ready to bake:Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat Roll the dough  about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into rectangles or use cookie cutters. Poke with a fork bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Warning- the smell of these warm from the oven can produce a feeding frenzy !

I also decided to experiment with Sourdough Pasta. I have made sourdough pancakes and breads before, and home made pasta, but have never combined the two . Sourdough is a beneficial thing- saves money spent on commercial yeast  AND it is a beneficial food stuff to our digestive tract.There is a lot of information out there that would lead one to belive establishing a sourdough culture to be a tricky thing, but it is very simple. Pioneer people did it all the time with no special things. Here is how to create a good starter

Sourdough Starter

2 cups rye flour
2 cups warm water

Mix, cover with a wet paper towel and let sit 24 hours at room temperature. Remove 1 cup of starter and add 1 cup flour and one cup water . Cover and let sit another 24 hours- should be foamy and sour smelling. At this point your starter is ready to use or refrigerate. If you refrigerate, take out every 5-6 days , remove one cup and feed with one cup flour and one cup water.

The disadvantage with sourdough is that you have to plan ahead. You must devote time to making the starter ( if you do not have one) and you must feed the starter and create a sponge the night before you plan on baking. If you are in the rhythm it becomes second nature, but getting into it is "thoughty". In the case of pasta making, you really do not need a special machine or attachment- all you need is a rolling pin and a knife.If you are making it to cook that day , the only other thing you will need is a pot of boiling water. If you want to dry it, the time honored way is a broomstick handle suspended between two kitchen chairs, or a wooden clothes drying rack.

  1   cup  whole wheat  flour.
 1/8      teaspoon  Celtic sea salt.
 2 teaspoons lard or bacon grease ( I used bacon grease caue that is what I had on hand)
 1/4 cup  sourdough starter.
  Kefir whey or water.
  Olive oil.

In a bowl mix the flour and salt, then finger in the lard. Add the starter and enough kefir whey or water to make a heavy dough. Knead for a few minutes, wrap in baking paper and put aside to work for 8-24 hours.
Just before you are ready to make the pasta, knead the dough then roll out with a baking pin to about 2mm thick. Cut the dough into narrow strips with a sharp knife, or into pieces to make your favourite pasta shapes. You may cook the pasta immediately or put it aside to dry and cook later. A clothes rack makes a useful frame to hang strips of pasta.Cook the pasta in vigorously boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain before returning to the saucepan and tossing with a teaspoon of olive oil. Serve with your favourite toppings.

It has been a few years since I made fresh pasta, and I am a little out of practice, but here are pictures from the process

After mixing, ready to rest for a day
ready to roll- it gets a little darker after it rests

rolled and cut - because I could not stand to roll it , they came out very thick noodles- a cross between a noodle and a German dumpling. Then I made the mistake of not bringing the water to a rapid enough boil before putting the pasta in and they started to fall apart when I stirred the water. I did not want to toss the noodles after devoting so much time to them, so I opted to cover them in Alfredo sauce. I thing my family would eat a motor engine if it was covered in Alfredo sauce - or placed in a meat loaf !

The verdict ? Tasty. They do taste like any whole wheat pasta in the form of texture, but the twang of the sour dough with the smoky taste from bacon grease made them really satisfying and interesting. This is something I will definitely be making more of in the future, and I plan on experimenting with other flours as well.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just dropping in to say

Happily improving, gaining strength and experimenting more in the kitchen. Taste verdict on apple beet relish is YUM YUM YUM !!! Sauerkraut is going to wait a few more days , but it smells right. Lemon preserves are "singing " away and I have needed to release the gas by unscrewing the lid for a moment, for fear that the pressure could build and explode.

Today we are trying our hand at homemade graham crackers and sourdough noodles. The crackers were suggested by my son , after he grabbed a pack of very stale graham crackers to snack on. The noodles are the second attempt to create, as the first one molded before we could roll and cook. Soaking and "sour dough" type applications helps to reduce the carb impact in the body as well as removing the phytates, and adds a probiotic to the intestinal tract. Will blog about the results tomorrow.

Meanwhile , I am watching in amazement, once again, at the power of the right herb applied to an identified condition in the role of healing. Nature does not make mistakes, and man will never be able to replicate the intelligence within natural methods of healing. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Childhood myths- the wrong ones are right

Let's talk about some childhood myths. If we are raised in the average American Home, we are told early on that Santa brings the presents on Christmas Eve, the Easter Bunny hides eggs and brings baskets on Easter Morning, The Tooth Fairy collects your baby teeth and exchanges them for money, the opposite sex has cooties and there is a Monster living under your bed that can be awakened by flushing the toilet in the dark.You believe in these with your heart of hearts as being true. Then you are told other things that sound implausible and you automatically relegate them to the stuff of myth, such as  bed bugs and Water on The Knee.  Within the last two years I have found the implausible things to be very real - bed bugs are an epidemic in major cities and Water on the Knee is a fairly common  ailment with those experiencing knee injuries . The latter I learned to be true of my right knee, and the result of the injury I sustained recently.

There are  options in mainstream medicine for this condition, involving things like cortisone shots, surgical drainage and other dubious things.None of which I feel are safe, considerable or actually healing, so I am embarking on an herbal and alternative medicine course of action to treat and heal this. Ice, rest and elevation are indicated ( as opposed to my previous actions of try to move it more, use the heating pad -that does not work- and feeling guilty about not exercising more). Herbs like comfrey , nettles and willow bark will be used freely as will massage therapy. It appears that once this condition begins, there is a constant chance that it will reemerge. All the more reason why activities like yoga and Tai Chi are in, running , all forms of jumping and many forms of twisting movements are permanently out. I will be honest- I am NOT at all happy with this reality. To be completely honest, my fitness goals are simply to become pain free and mobile enough to once again clean my house and walk in the grocery store. That is what I am working to achieve now. Another part of the healing involves eating nourishing fats, protein and bone broth whenever possible. Bone broth has substances that aid in the health and repair of joints and many other body tissues. Do you think it is a coincidence that things like rampant arthritis , osteoporosis and tooth loss became more prevalent when we were all told the lie about how bad fat was for us ? ( Depression, Heart Disease, Diabetes and Obesity also became epidemic when everyone moved to high fiber and low fat). When bone broth was replaced with fat free stocks out of a can or carton, we began to rob our bodies of vital nutritional substances.

Last night for dinner was another in a quest to serve nutritionally dense foods on my table. Bones and roots- perfect foods for wintertime. Root veggies are good for you, but too many get stuck on just potatoes . There is a wide variety of roots to eat, and many are nutrient dense as well as tasty. One nice way to work with the bitter taste that some carry is a creamy mustard sauce, such as the following :

Turnips in Creamy Mustard Sauce Serves 4

2 Tbs.  Butter
  1 1/2 Pounds  turnips  cleaned and cut into 1 inch chunks
   Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1 Tsp Splenda
  1 Cup  more or less chicken  stock( I used bone broth)
  2 Tbs.  Dijon mustard
  1/2 cup  fresh cream

Heat the butter on medium heat in a saucepan  When the butter is hot, add the vegetables, give them a toss and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Allow the vegetables to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until they begin to brown and they are nicely cooked.
When the vegetables are lightly browned, add in the sugar and the stock to cover the vegetables completely and turn the heat up to high and achieve a boil
Allow the vegetables to boil, giving them only a stir or two, uncovered for about 30 minutes. They are ready when the vegetables are shiny and browned and sitting in a little puddle of syrupy liquid. Turn the heat down and stir in the mustard and cream until it is well combined .  Serve warm

This seemed to be a good in place of potato sort of side. We all really enjoyed the flavor. It went well with the spinach we also had and made a nice complement to these simple marinated chicken drumsticks. Any chicken parts could be used here, simply adjust cooking time accordingly. The flavor was infused through the meat nicely- this is one of my new favorite recipes !

Lemon Garlic Drumsticks- serves 3
 6 drumsticks (about two pounds)
  2teaspoons  dry mustard
  3  large  garlic cloves -- peeled and finely minced
  1 teaspoon  sea salt
  Lots of freshly ground pepper
  Zest of one large organic lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  Juice of about half of the lemon
  3 tablespoons  olive oil

1: Combine marinade ingredients and mix well. Rinse and drip dry drumsticks. In a large ziploc or bowl place drumsticks and pour over marinade. Mix to combine well. Place in refrigerator, covered and marinade for a 2-12 hours.
2-When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place drumsticks in a small casserole dish and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until done. The juices should run clear when pierced with a knife.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saurkraut and fermented foods

Yesterday , to celebrate the New Year, I made something that is going to improve both mine and my families health- sauerkraut ! Did you know that sauerkraut is an incredibly healthy food if it is not the pasteurized creation found in  today's stores, AND that it is incredibly easy to make ? It's true. With home made sauerkraut you get the benefits of a cruciferous vegetable, a pro biotic and more ? Consider the following:
What is so good about sauerkraut and other such foods ? Lactic acid bacteria - LOTS of lactic acid bacteria. They act as probiotics in our gastro-intestinal tract. Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in our intestinal tract, which helps us to digest food properly. 70 percent of the human immune system lies in our intestinal tract- insure that this is running healthy and the rest of the body will follow suit.

Lactic acid fermented foods such as sauerkraut have made up a significant portion of food eaten by humans for a long time and still do in many developing countries, eg in Africa. Lactic acid fermentation is the simplest and usually the safest way of preserving food.There is archeological evidence that humans have always used this form of food preservation, and it was the primary way lactic acid bacteria was ingested. Our need for this bacteria has remained, in spite of how our industrialized food processing methods have developed. The result has been immunological problems , gastrointestinal problems and more.Be nice to your insides and say yes, to the benefits of sauerkraut!

From  Sauerkraut .com
1. Sauerkraut as immune booster One of the not so secret benefits of sauerkraut is the boost it gives to immune systems. Packed with vitamins andminerals, sauerkraut has been used as a lay immune booster for centuries.Sauerkraut contains phytochemicals which are created during the fermentation process. These naturally occurring, beneficial by products of sauerkraut help boost the immune system which leads to a decrease in a number of health problems. The common cold, skin problems, weight gain and tainted blood are all fixed by a healthy functioning immune system.
   2. Sauerkraut as cancer fighter
      The most recent evidence of sauerkraut's status as a Superfood is found in numerous studies on the cruciferous wonder's cancer fighting properties. The results of a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that sauerkraut is a cancer inhibitor. The study discovered that the fermentation of cabbage produced a substance called isothiocynates, which prevents cancer growth, particularly in the breast, colon, lung and liver. Although raw cabbage is normally rich in a compound called glucosinolate, the researchers found that during the fermentation process enzymes are released that completely decompose the compound into several breakdown products. The majority of these products are cancer-fighting isothiocyanates. The University of New Mexico published a study linking sauerkraut consumption by adolescent females to a reduced risk for breast cancer earlier studies indicate sauerkraut may reduce the risk for other forms of cancer including lung, colon, prostate, and liver We are finding that fermented cabbage could be healthier than raw or cooked cabbage, especially for fighting cancer, says Eeva-Liisa Ryhanen, Ph.D., research manager of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, located in Jokioinen, Finland. A recent study by the American Center for Cancer Research has found that sauerkraut has a profound effect in preventing and healing breast cancer. Based on reports that breast cancer rates amongst polish women in the United States were much higher than those in Poland researchers set out to find out why. Their answer; the women who still lived in Poland ate significantly larger amounts of sauerkraut especially important while they were in adolescence. The research found that the women who immigrated Americanized' their diets and stopped eating as much of the super food that is sauerkraut thus increasing their rates of breast cancer.
   3. Digestive Aid
 Eating sauerkraut is a great way to protect the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Sauerkraut is one of the few foods that contain the bacterium Lactobacilli plantarum. L. planatarum is a very dominant strain of healthful bacteria which helps your digestive system in the following ways: boost the immune system by increasing antibodies that fight infectious disease help inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and unhealthy overgrowth of candida (yeast) create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid. It neutralizes the antinutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium. These various properties are the best scientific reasons given for what has been known by loyal users for millennia, sauerkraut cures an upset stomach and is the best natural physic there is. Many sources say raw fermented foods are beneficial to the digestive system by increasing the healthy flora in the intestinal tract or creating the type of environment for them to flourish. Sauerkraut and its juice are traditional folk remedies for constipation. Fermentation actually increases nutrient values in the cabbage, especially vitamin C. Fermented foods are also said to facilitate the breakdown and assimilation of proteins. They have a soothing effect on the nervous system. The benefits of sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice have been recognized for generations. In some families of southern Germany, the children are fed raw sauerkraut twice weekly to support their intestines. Today it is thought that these benefits may relate to a high proportion of lactic acid in sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice that naturally supports the digestive processes, maintain intestinal flora, and increase the feeling of well-being.
   4. Flu Fighter
      With the spread of Avian Flu spreading across the globe, one enterprising Korean scientist, Kang Sa-Ouk of Seoul National University, took 13 chickens infected with avian flu virus and a couple of other diseases, fed them Kim chi extract and found that 11 of the birds recovered. Experts think the vital bacteria are created during the fermenting process and this gives the dish its health-boosting qualities.

So how to you make it ? You will need a cabbage, some clean jars with secure lids, a sharp knife, cutting board and sea salt

I grabbed 4 jars just in case. Start by thinly slicing your cabbage, packing it into the jar , and when you get about an inch of cabbage sprinkle on a little salt and begin to mash the cabbage with a wooden spoon. Press, poke, whatever and you willo begin to notice a liquid forming. Then add more cabbage, more salt and more pressing until you have your jar filled up to an inch away from the top with liquid covering

Cover with the lid securely and let set 3 days.It is then ready to eat, or can be moved to cold storage and stored indefinitely. Flavor improves with age.In my case it will be a refrigerator , as I have no root cellar. I am not certain what the procedure  would be for canning this - hot water bath or pressure canner.
 2 jars from one medium sized head. It was so much fun to make and so amazing to see how it came together that I got a little crazy and also made
Fermented apple beet relish- a condiment made in the same fashion with apples, beets and  spices added- will be ready in 2 days

Morroccan Preserved Lemons- another condiment made in a similar fashion with Meyer Lemons . This one will be ready in 3 weeks. I also made another batch of Beet Kvass- I am really enjoying the taste and affect of that drink !

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011- Yay !

2010 is done and 2011 has begun. A whole new year to achieve goals and take on new experiences. I do not make New Years resolutions or even lists of goals myself-I just sort of get giddy about the whole idea of a brand new drawer to store the experiences of my life in. Who knows what will wind up shelved in that come this time next year ? 2010 was not the greatest year, but not the worst either to be sure. I have a lot of friends who have had crushing blows in 2010 ( worst was a friend having a stillbirth on Christmas) , and I compare my groans to theirs and things seem much better. Perhaps this is one reason why we need to express sadness to each other- to remind us of how many blessings we really do have in our lives. I think the worst thing for me happened within the last 24 hrs. My husband, in a desire to help get me more mobile and understanding my complete impatience with the injury, bought me one of those 4 footed canes. It does help me walk around more, but learning how to walk with a cane is a little tricky. Several times I have almost tripped on the feet, and because you carry your body differently when walking with it, I have sore muscles in my back and arms. Getting really tired of trying to learn how to walk yet again in my life, and really wanting to stop coughing from the cold ! All in all, it made for a good reason to do everything to make the bad luck form 2010 stay in that year and not spill into  the new year. Time honored way of doing this was through foods, cleaning house and so forth. I spent the day in cooking chores while the guys took care of shopping, housecleaning and more.

first way to make the bad luck stay- feed it rich food ! Caviar on cucumber rounds is a good way to do it. Caviar is a very good source of healthy omega fats, and is something that can be thought of as a healthy treat. Lots of folks think it is a very expensive food, but it is no where near as expensive as these:

Ox tails ! Many years ago, when I was a child, these and neck bones were dirt cheap meats. Neck bones  made a very rich spaghetti sauce, but ox tails made one of the finest, richest soups on the planet !

made with barley, carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes, it is a very rich bone broth. Oxtail soup is something people either love or hate ( we love it) and if you ae going to pick a "rich" food to hold the bad luck in place, this is a good choice. Oxtails used to be about 40 cents a pound- today you can pay as much as 8 dollars a pound for them.

Good soup should always be served with good rolls- these soaked whole wheat crescent rolls served the purpose !

Mozzarella balls with   cherry tomatoes just for fun. Nick seems to think anything served on a stick is special and fancy :-)

and then Swedish Meatballs- mainly because the other day I had a surplus of ground beef defrosted and had to figure out a way to cook and refreeze the extra. Meatballs are a great way to do this.

At 10 pm ( figuring that it is midnight somewhere) we rang in the new year with sparking cranberry juice and herring. For some reason, for as long as anyone can remember, my family has had a mandate to eat herring at Midnight on New Years Eve. Always struck me as an odd thing for a Scotch/Irish family to have as a custom, till one year I learned that the custom was actually Scandinavian in origin a, and was probably adopted back in the days when my ancestors were defending the land from Viking Invaders. Most likely there were blood bonds formed, and this custom became part of our life. 

Some goals I have for the year at the moment is to make friends with my cane, experiment more with fermented foods and just be the best me that I can be. It's gonna be a good one !