Cherry Clafouti

Every summer, usually around August, my husband and I head for Door County WI. This year was no exception and we arrived during cherry picking season. Between the Cherry Cobblers and Cherry Crunch, I thought for sure I wouldn’t need another cherry dessert. That was until a friend of ours suggested Cherry Clafouti. Here is the recipe I used this past week- Cherry Clafoutis

I used our stand blender and found this recipe to be quite easy and the results–fabulous! Enjoy!

Homemade Pasta Sauce

One freezer bag of sauce, which will be good for two meals of pasta, took 13 medium sized regular tomatoes (not Roma). Time needed to put up seven freezer bags, which equals 14 meals for us, took me just under 2 hours of time. The great thing about making your own pasta sauce is that you can put into it whatever pleases you. I cannot eat store bought pasta sauce because they contain onions and garlic. Everything in this world seems to be seasoned with onions and garlic and both upset my G.I. system. No idea why? So having gotten frustrated with not being able to eat pasta and sauce, I decided to start regularly making my own. I bought 62 tomatoes for $12.00 and I washed and cored them, and then I placed them in boiled water and slipped the skins off of them. I then cut them up and tried to remove as many of the seeds as possible. Then I put them all in a big pot and added homegrown oregano, rosemary, and thyme-that was dried and crushed, salt and pepper, three tablespoons of good olive oil and cooked for 1 hour and ten minutes. I cooled the pot down once cooking was done in a large bowl of ice, then I put 16 oz of sauce in seven freezer bags, sealed, dated, and placed flat in our freezer.




Figs

First how can you tell if your fig is ripe, overripe, or just right when you see figs for sale in the market?

Pick the fig up and smell it near the stem to see if it smells sweet–honey like. If it does it is ripe. Unlike avocado’s figs do not ripen once you get them home. If there is stickiness near the stem the fig is overripe. For the last 6 or 7 years I have purchased a dozen or so figs and found that I really like them. I wouldn’t say I could eat them all the time, but once or twice a year -yes.

This year I am going to use my figs three ways:

Figs with goat cheese and pine nuts  (gluten free)

Figs and berries–just mix sliced and cut up figs with whatever berries are in season.

Figs and mascarpone and warm spiced honey

Figs are generally sold around here until early fall (Sept.)

These are all really easy recipes (10 min prep times).

Health-wise figs are loaded with fiber, magnesium and calcium. All things all people need especially women like me in their 50’s.

Until next time–be well!

Blueberry Buckle Recipe–and processing produce tips!

This week- a few things I did today as I enjoyed my day off!

It’s blueberry season here in Wisconsin and I just happened to have got my hands on 3 pints of fresh berries. I froze some for smoothies, so now we have fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries for smoothies this winter.

My husband purchased a bunch of beets at the Farmer’s Market this past Friday so I processed them today. Total time was one hour- I put them in a pan of water –medium setting 1-1/4 of an hour and then turned them off. I then let the water come down from a boil to warm and ran cold water in the pan and slipped the skins right off. They were put into freezer bags and we will be eating July beets 5-6 different times this coming winter. I would pickle them (my favorite) but hubby doesn’t like pickled beets very much.



There’s a story behind the peppers. About 7 weeks ago our neighbor, who travels a lot, asked me to take over her pepper plant due to her not being around enough to water it. We were at our max limit for weight on the deck so we kept it downstairs by the front door. It should be noted this plant had been planted in big box potting soil with Miracle Grow added and sold from a big box store. When I took it over it was about 1-1/2 feet tall, scrawny and dry. Thinking it would die I never did get a before picture but 7/ 7-1/2 weeks later it’s loaded with peppers of all sizes. I have grown peppers on our deck in containers–even now that I think of it I’ve successfully grown cucumbers. But it was hard between bugs and wind and limited full sun areas, neither of them do well on our deck. But hey maybe I’ll start a garden by our front door? I just cut up and take out the seeds from the peppers and freeze the cut up slices for future pizza’s and stir fry’s right away. Our first harvest yielded 7 peppers, I took 3 and I gave my neighbor 4 and plan to split the bounty with her each week to her delight.

Update- after the initial 7 small to medium sized peppers all the rest (5) which were quite small developed bottom rot. I used my soil tester to determine what was lacking in the soil and discovered the soil was severely lacking calcium. It should be noted this isn’t the first time that plants I bought from a big box store, planted in the wrong type of soil mixed with Miracle grow, developed rot on their fruit. The soil is dry even after watering because the soil mixture does not retain any moisture beneficial to the plant. So the plant is constantly in a state of over- watered or under-watered and each time you do water all the nutrients (and there probably isn’t much to start with) wash out the bottom. Hence this pepper plant was really deprived of the calcium it needed to produce healthy peppers.

Here’s the promised recipe for the blueberry buckle

Summer Meal Planning–7 day meal plan

Tired of having to pay subscription prices for a meal plan? or sign up for tips and tricks and end up inundated with spam emails? Here’s a 7-day meal plan without a catch–no hassles, no subs, and definitely no hidden costs. Summer time is a time where meal planning can get a little hectic. School’s out, and there’s vacation time to plan for and meals tend to be quick meals with little cleanup. Nowadays with all the meal plans available, some right to your front door, why choose to make meals yourself? In my case, for my family’s needs, it came down to saving money and eating local homegrown whole foods. Maybe you don’t have that option available to you, or you don’t have the time to make meals from prep to finish? If you cannot source local homegrown then use what you have–supermarket produce works fine. I’m a big fan of T & A produce and it’s sold in most grocery stores. We eat T & A’s romaine hearts, broccoli, and hydroponic butter lettuce.

Most of the meals in my 7-day meal plan can be prepped the night before. So when you have a little bit of free time, prep the next meal. Also when you cook up ground beef make extra and freeze the extra portion for another meal. I double most recipes and freeze the rest. We have at least 3 meals frozen on hand at any given time that we can grab if time is tight.

Monday-Grilled Hamburgers with Napa cabbage slaw and slowly roasted potato wedges. Prep time-20 minutes. Total cooking time 35-45 minutes depending on how done you want your burgers.

Tuesday– Sausage, red cabbage and roasted sweet potato. Prep time 25 minutes–total time is 1 hour (includes bake time).

Wednesday-Everything but the kitchen sink salad-lettuce, cucumbers, green onions, sliced beets (I use Nellie’s sliced pickled beets vs. fresh beets), avocado, leftover red cabbage slaw and sliced boiled egg with homemade salad dressing. Prep time is 10-15 minutes- chop everything up, boil egg (5 minutes) wash and rinse lettuce & green onions.  You can add cooked chicken, steak or even tuna from tuna packs to make this a heartier salad.

Thursday-Roasted veggie taco with creamy cilantro dressing–recipe here. Total time- 45 minutes.

Friday– Pork Roast in the slow cooker, carrots, and new red potatoes. Prep 10-15 minutes. Total cooking time depends on the size of roast (minimum 4 hours on a low setting) add new red potatoes which are smaller than reg. potatoes during the last 2 hours of slow cooking so that they won’t get mushy before the roast is done.

Saturday-Pulled pork over baked sweet potatoes.  Prep time 5-10 minutes, total cooking time 1 -1/2 hours at 350 degrees for medium-large sweet potatoes.

SundayTeriyaki Chicken and vegetable foil pack for the grill- prep time- 30 minutes..cook time is 1 hour or until chicken is done. **I love this site and you will find several more easy foil pack meals to make plus so many more delicious things to try.**

Recipes-

Homemade Salad Dressing– your best salad dressing ( I use Vegan dressing by Hellman’s), mix 1/4 cup dressing( per 2 people )with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt (or less or not at all) & a tablespoon of granulated sugar and a half cup of milk. Add more milk if you want your dressing thin instead of creamy.  The healthier the salad dressing is that you buy, the healthier your homemade dressing will be. Total time- 5 minutes

Napa Cabbage Slaw– buy a Napa cabbage in the produce department or farmer’s market or local grower that is light green in color. You will also need 2 carrots and ingredients for the homemade salad dressing. I grate the carrots, chop the slaw and mix together with my homemade salad dressing. Use a bit less milk with the dressing because you want the slaw to be able to top your burger! You can add salt and pepper to taste and for extra flavor toss in chopped scallions. Total time- 15 minutes.

Red Cabbage- I use a great recipe from Taste of Home found here.

~~Grocery List~~

Produce department/Farmer’s market/local grower

Napa Cabbage

Red Cabbage

Romaine Hearts Lettuce

Scallions

Green onions

Avocado

Cilantro

Sweet Potatoes

Baking Potatoes

New Red Potatoes

Carrots

Cucumbers

Red Onion

Tomatoes

Yellow & Red Peppers

Zucchini

Lemon

Lime

Meat Department

Pork Roast

Hamburger

Chicken Breast

Sausage

**how much meat you buy will depend on family size**

Dairy

1/2 gallon of milk or 1/2 and 1/2 for salad dressing

Eggs- at least 6 eggs

Butter

Sour Cream

Middle Aisles

Good salad dressing- I’ve used both Just Mayo and Hellman’s Vegan dressing

Hamburger buns

Brown Sugar, soy sauce, cooking rice, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, 32 oz. chicken broth, ground ginger, olive oil, 15 oz black beans, and Nellie’s sliced pickled beets.

Flour tortillas

I think I’ve remembered to add everything you will need to create these 7 easy meals to the grocery list above. Some meals will work for Paleo diets or even a vegetarian diet. Some can even be made if you are camping. Most take less than 30 minutes prep and there is even a meal that can be made from yesterday’s leftovers.  We eat a lot of meals that are heavy in produce because this is the time of year produce costs the least.  I generally don’t make meals like this in the winter due to not being able to source real fresh produce.  So enjoy these meals now, enjoy the savings, and reap the benefits of these great whole food meals for the next seven days.

Grilled Aspargus

Fresh green asparagus is usually the first vegetable of the season for us. Personally, I don’t like asparagus, but my husband loves it as long as it’s cooked, or grilled right. All summer long I grill food for my husband and I. I’ve even been known to grill late fall/early winter. Most of what we grill is grilled in packets–so fast meals like salmon, grilled corn (I parboil it first), asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, and sausage. My secrets to successful grilling are a good hot grill, butter or a good marinade and patience.

Depending on my husband’s preference I either grill the asparagus for him or steam it with some salmon. Paired with tiny red potatoes or the seasons first fingerling potatoes and we’re enjoying the first home grown (almost) meal of the season.

Marinade- just before asparagus is done, whether grilled or steamed I drizzle lemon, lemon zest, parsley, and salt & pepper on it.

Our Grill– a Weber Spirit Gas Grill

Bon Appetit!

Ramp Salad and Rhubarb Crunch

This week at the first of the season local Farmer’s Markets–
Ramps

Ramps are related to leeks and here in the Midwest they’re the very first thing that pops out of the ground and are usually sold at Farmer’s Markets from late April to very early May (about three weeks) and then gone. It’s hard to define what a ramp tastes like. They taste both sweet and strong- maybe slightly like a sweet earthy garlic. A popular way to enjoy them is in a salad. We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Madison WI and bought two bunches of ramps home with us. I made a ramp salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing– the recipe is here .  It was fabulous, you will love it. Give it a try. Next week, perhaps two weeks from now, rhubarb will be available for sale.  I’ve included a favorite family recipe for rhubarb crunch.  Fun Fact- Did you know rhubarb is not a fruit. A good rule of thumb is that fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants. So botanically–the flowers you see on tomato plants, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins, and peppers make them a fruit. Rhubarb is classified as a perennial vegetable.

Ingredients
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup & 2 pats of butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

I’m joining Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life for her 373rd Inspire Me Tuesday!  Until next time be well!

Vegetables that grow well together–interplanting and trellising.

Hello, April!

We’re just now starting to figure out what we’ll be planting this year in our container garden.  One thing for sure, I’m going to try and grow a container of potatoes this year. We have seeds and plants started for pumpkins, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers so far.

I ran across an article about pairing up the plants in the garden. Like for instance –plant basil or parsley around the edge of your garden where your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants grow. All of these plants must wait until frost is out of the ground and the consistently warm weather is here for good. You can plant potatoes in the ground, after you’re sure the frost is out, and then plant pole beans or some ornamental gourds above them on a trellis to utilize that space.  Something that I cannot wait to try when we get our new place is interplanting carrots and radishes. Try it, I hear it works great. Something else I saw recently in a food documentary is planting pole beans with your sweet corn and the pole beans end up using the sweet corn as its pole. Be sure to leave room for lovely nasturtiums, an edible flower that looks great in salads.

Some wonderful things to think about if you are short on space. Definitely always consider the vertical as you are planting your gardening–peas work great on a trellis overhead. You can start your sweet peas inside and trellis them up your curtains and across your curtain rods until it’s safe to take them outside. I did this two years ago and loved it. This year we have two grow lights so we’re going to have several plants started in the next three or so weeks. Our greatest hope is to learn how to start most things on our own vs. running to the nursery and buying their 4-6″ veggie plants and flowers.

Until next time be well!

Kombucha

Kombucha Recipe

One of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s health is to improve your gut health. Most people are under the impression things like that take care of themselves. They don’t. They probably did take care of themselves fairly well many years back before our food contained large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, GMO’s and preservatives. At one time most of the people in this country preserved their food. Most people’s diets contained several pickled and fermented foods. Pickles of all kinds, coleslaw, and sauerkraut were table staples.  These foodstuffs helped keep human guts balanced with the proper bacteria. Bacteria and enzymes in our gut help to break down our food.  The food we eat, once broken down, travels off to different parts of our body to nourish us. We need to stay well nourished to stay healthy.

My experience with gut problems began about thirteen years ago as I detoxed from years of smoking and not so smart eating habits. First came the transition to a healthier diet, then came transitioning to organic foods, and then came my intolerance to everything gluten.  After suffering for about 5 years with gluten issues I read an article about gut health. Before I get started let me show you where your gut is and what parts of your body make up your digestive system.

The gut, otherwise known as your digestive track,  has many components– it starts with your mouth and teeth and technically ends where your waste exits. The stomach is one of three parts of your gut that absorbs and digests food, with the small and large intestine being the other two parts that break down, digest, and absorb nutrients. The linings of our small and large intestines are the largest part of our immune system. Now, this was a big find for me. Not only did I not have a clue our immune system is in our gut, but I was simply blown away discovering the largest part of it is the mucosal lining of our intestines. Nutrients enter the blood stream, once broken down, from our small intestines. There are tiny villi all along our intestinal wall. These villi are how nutrients enter our bloodstream.  The intestinal wall is permeable to some extent so that these nutrients can pass through. In a normal, healthy gut the good stuff passes through and the bad stuff does not. But sometimes bad things start passing through, and sometimes the intestines become damaged and the lining develops holes allowing undigested food to pass through.

Learning all of this information made me wonder- was there a way I could heal my gut lining if in fact it was damaged or malfunctioning? So  I began reading about the gut lining and found that there were other people, just like me, experiencing issues with “out of the blue” food allergies and/ or intolerances who were using probiotics as a way to improve their overall gut health. Probiotics as we know help to maintain the good bacteria in our digestive tract. That good bacteria is part of a large ecosystem of bacterial flora that lives mainly in the large intestine.

Gut flora is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. (Wikipedia)

So I made an appointment with our family physician and asked for his opinion on whether or not starting on a probiotic would be a good thing or bad. He didn’t see how taking one could hurt and so I began using a probiotic about two years ago. Of course, I should note before I forget– a steady diet of kombucha and other fermented food in your diet would alleviate your need(most likely) to have to depend on a store bought probiotic. A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea.

A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea. I currently take a probiotic daily, but I’ve also incorporated fermented foods and kombucha into my diet as well.

Other than those very rare occasions I am presently symptom-free from issues associated with gluten intolerance. I believe the probiotic healed my gut to some degree by restoring the healthy bacteria I needed to process and digest my food. Some of the ways you can contribute to having unhealthy gut flora — a diet high in sugar (which I had for years) and low in fiber (that too).  Chronic stress(yes!) and chronic use of NSAIDs (yes to that too). Also if you are a person that has a lot of infections and relies heavily on antibiotics (thank goodness I can say nope to this one) you are at risk for having an unhealthy gut.

http://www.loveyourgut.com/what-does-the-gut-do/the-digestive-system/

http://www.enzymestuff.com/conditionleakygut.htm

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about Kombucha, probiotics and gut health as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Until next time–be well!

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Lemonade

Christmas time brought me two new cookbooks-

img_4603

I haven’t had much of a chance to go through each one of them yet, but I did find an interesting recipe in Nourishing Traditions that I wanted to try right away.

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Lemonade- this drink is very very good for your gut.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Lemons,  juiced
  • 1/3 Cup Lightly refined sugar
  • 6 Cups of Water (not boiled)
  • 1/2 Cup of  Basic Whey

Dissolve sugar in water in a large glass container with an air-tight lid.
Allow the mixture to become room temperate before stirring in the lemon juice and whey.
Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Once done I transfer the lemonade into 2 Weck Jars for Juice for easy storage and serving.
Refrigerate. It will continue to ferment but at a much slower pace.