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Instant Pot Adventure—and a Nifty New Book

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Turkey Tracks: October 31, 2020

Instant Pot Adventure—and a Nifty New Book

Anyone who reads this blog for any time knows I have a mast cell/Histamine Intolerance syndrome and have to be really, really careful with food and chemical smell triggers. This problem is one reason why I cook a lot.

But this past week I saw on a Facebook HI group post that there is new book on the market. Ho Hum, I thought at first. But then, for some reason, maybe I’ll give it a try as this book is really current: 2019.

I am so glad that I did!

For one thing, Dr. Becky Campbell sorts out the whole issue of mast cell disorders, Histamine Intolerance, and allergic reactions of other sorts really well. She is pioneering ways to help people deal with the worst of the reactions and to get back to a healthier place that doesn’t involve a lot of scary reactions and that allows more normal eating.

She includes a whole section of recipes new to me that will work for me and which, so far, are delicious. AND, the fact that more information is out in the market now signals that at least some people are “getting” this issue and working out ways to manage it.

I’ve only had the book about a week, and already it is getting thumb worn.

One of the methods Campbell recommends is using an Instant Pot—which is a high-tech pressure cooker with modern features. This appliance bears NO resemblance to the pressure cooker my mother had or that I had so many years ago. I gave mine away as I recall. For one thing, they were totally scary to use and tales of them blowing up and putting holes in the ceiling abounded, especially if one didn’t pay attention. Plus, I didn’t especially like the overcooked taste of food cooked this way. The Instant Pot has a timer system, for one thing. One can leave the room while it is cooking. And it’s REALLY quiet.

Mine, a 6-quart Duo version, came Thursday. I opened the box, unpacked everything, found the instruction booklet, and did the recommended water test to understand how the Instant Pot works.

Then, using a recipe in the new cookbook, I loaded in a 6-pound pasture raised Freedom Ranger chicken—which just fit and which cooked in 40 minutes. The browning of the chicken in the pot top and bottom happened before the 40-45 minutes. (I planned for 45, but in my excitement and nervousness, I might have just done 40 minutes.). And, it was slightly overcooked, 35 minutes would probably have been just fine. The meat was moist and delicious, however, and perfect for making a chicken salad recipe from the book and for reheating for another meal. A smaller chicken would have been better as well as one could brown it better.

Here’s my DELICIOUS chicken salad, which uses a low-histamine mayonnaise recipe in the cookbook. I have SO MISSED homemade mayo. This recipe uses Annie’s plain mustard to make the mayo emulsify—as it contains distilled white vinegar, which is the lowest histamine vinegar there is. (All fermented foods are triggers for HI people.) There is also some turmeric, which I’ve been afraid to try and a tiny bit of paprika, also a trigger. But the mayo did not set off anything for me. (I take Mercola Quercetin daily, which I think really is helping with triggers.).

I had a lot of broth left in the pot as I did not make the gravy in the recipe. It jelled up beautifully in the refrigerator, which shows it got a lot of goodness from the chicken and the bones. I reserved some of the chicken meat for a soup made with this broth.

The next day I made the 2-hour bone broth recipe from the book with the spent carcass. (You can stand the hot lid up on the handle of the hot pot until everything cools.) It was so easy.

And look at this beautiful bone broth so full of goodness. A traditional bone broth cooks for 20+ hours.

This batch is going into the freezer for small batches of soup or other cooking needs. And I’ve ordered two silicone ice trays to freeze and store broth and a kale pesto in smaller portions that can be popped out, stored frozen in bags, and used in a flash. The larger freezer tray has 1-cup compartments.

I had another meal of reheated leftovers last night, which was also moist and delicious.

Next up in the Instant Pot: some sort of beef or lamb stew. I found a nice recipe at the Instant Pot web site.

Written by louisaenright

October 31, 2020 at 9:31 am

Leftover Roast Beef Stir Fry

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Turkey Tracks: October 24, 2020

Leftover Roast Beef Stir Fry

The weather is cooler now, and I am turning to wanting warm comfort meals.

You know, growing up, a beef roast was so delicious for Sunday dinner with all the family gathered around.

I went for many years without cooking roasts anymore. But I do now, and they are, again, a joy. I roast one that isn’t tiny enough for “just me” to eat it in a meal or two. Instead, I freeze big chunks of it for a stir fry or a stew when I’m ready for this kind of beef meal. (I don’t eat sandwiches anymore as I can’t eat bread.)

To make a leftover beef stir fry, defrost your chunks of roast and cut them into cubes. Put whatever veggies you have on hand into a pan so you can cook them until tender. Here I have red pepper, cauliflower, onion, garlic, zucchini squash, carrot, and Haricot Vert green beans fresh from the garden. I add whatever herbs are going to intrigue me at the moment, fresh or dried, and I used beef tallow for my fat.

See how pretty my unfrozen beef roast is after I cubed it?

Mix in the meat only when your veggies are done. You just want to reheat the meat, that’s all. Don’t cook it more. Just let it reheat in the pan.

I had some leftover rice, so I put my stir-fry over it, but it’s yummy all by itself too.

Written by louisaenright

October 24, 2020 at 1:46 pm

The Magic of Liver and Heavy Cream

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Turkey Tracks: October 17, 2020

The Magic of Liver and Heavy Cream

I grew up eating liver. Not a huge amount, but it was a dish that definitely showed up off and on. Back then, people ate from nose to tail, not just hamburger, steaks, and roasts.

Liver has a strong taste—and the “go to” recipe of my childhood was to smother it with carmelized onions and bacon. That was good, but since then I’ve discovered that combining heavy cream (and I can and do use local raw cream which I am so lucky to be able to get) with liver produces a dish that is deliciously rich and mellow.

Liver is a powerhouse for Vitamin A, and many Americans are lacking in that vitamin. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so the best sources are from meats, fish, and forms of dairy products where processing hasn’t killed the vitamin contents. I can get beef liver locally, and I get a whole lamb every year and treasure the lamb livers.

We take Vitamin D these days, but it is synergistic with Vitamin A. You need both. You cannot get Vitamin A from vegetables in a form that most of our bodies can utilize fully as not all bodies can convert pro-vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables to real Vitamin A.

Here’s my recent liver dinner: the beans are from my cold frame, and the roasted beets and gingered carrots are from my CSA, Hope’s Edge. All three veggies were already cooked, and I just reheated them for about 15 minutes in the oven. Ditto the rice. (Cover the rice and add a tablespoon of water.) The cream makes a gravy that is delicious on the Basmanti rice. (I know, that’s a very processed rice, and I have to stop buying it.) So this dinner can be ready in about 20 minutes.

My liver recipe:

Liver usually comes these days cut into small thin pieces. Open the package and drain off the liquid. You could rinse it if you like.

Saute some diced veggies in a good fat in your pan until tender (carrots, onions, maybe a bit of garlic). You could use some butter with some beef tallow to keep the butter from burning for extra flavor. Add some herbs you like—either fresh or dried or a combo. When the veggies are soft, add the liver and turn with the veggies until it is about half done. Then add in a lot of HEAVY cream—a cup or more. It cooks down REALLY fast, so be prepared to get the amount you want to eat out of the hot pan and onto your plate. DON’T OVERCOOK IT. Put the remaining liver into a storage container or immediately into a blender or food processor.

Eat the first half for your meal while it is hot. Then process the rest into a smooth pate. You might need to add some milk to give the blender enough liquid to process the liver mixture so that it gets very smooth.

The pate is delicious on toast for breakfast. Or, on crackers or cut up veggies and fruit.

I ate the above meal for lunch and had the rest of the pate for dinner on crackers, cucumbers, carrots, raw sweet onion, and sliced apple.

Enjoy. You will.

Written by louisaenright

October 17, 2020 at 11:54 am

Beet/Carrot/Ginger Soup

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Turkey Tracks: Recipes: October 2, 2020

Beet/Carrot/Ginger Soup

The root veggies are in full abundance now, so let’s make some delicious soup with some of them.

Start by roasting some beets. Mine are golden beets. Just put your beets in a covered container that can go in the oven, add an inch or so of water, cover the beets, and bake them at 350 degrees until a sharp knife pierces to their centers. Medium size beets take about 40 minutes. Let them cool for a bit, slice off the ends, and the peel will slide off if rubbed with something rough, like a paper towel. Chop, use some in salads, and reserve the rest for this soup.

When you are ready to start your soup, pan fry some carrots and onions in a heavy pot until they start to color a bit. Season with salt. I used duck fat. Add the chopped ginger at this stage—you don’t need to peel it. Just it into small pieces. I didn’t add garlic, but you could.

Add some stock or water—whatever you have. This is chicken stock with its fat intact. And I added herbs from the garden: tarragon, a touch of mint, and some basil leaves I froze whole. See how green the basil leaves stayed in the freezer? This is probably too much stock to add, so I will cook it all down a bit. But for a quick and flavorful soup, add less stock—just enough to cover the veggies by an inch or so.

When the stock is hot, add the roasted beets and cook until the carrots are tender.

You could eat the soup in this “chunky” form.

Or you could blend it—as French country cooking would do. I love my “boat motor” appliance for this task as I don’t have to try to put hot soup in a blender. (I like the type that plugs in as the battery ones I’ve had don’t hold up over time due to the battery stopping to take a charge.)

Here’s my lunch, which I’ve topped with a swirl of heavy raw cream. And it is delicious! This soup is naturally very sweet. On the side: tangy goat cheese and Mary’s Gone crackers.

I have enough soup for other meals and will freeze some too. The frozen soup can be eaten in this form or added to another soup to deepen flavor.

Written by louisaenright

October 2, 2020 at 10:15 am

Radicchio in Salads

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Turkey Tracks: Recipes: September 29, 2020

Radicchio in Salads

Bitter greens are really good for you.

And radicchio is red, so when you eat it, you’re “eating in the rainbow” of colors nature provides for us.

So, how can we knock back some of the bitterness of the heartier greens, especially when eaten raw? Add a little of something tart but sweet (some citrus juice or a fruit flavored vinegar) or just add something sweet (honey, maple syrup). Or add both.

In this salad, I drizzled some yummy honey over the greens—just a tablespoon. I can’t eat the tart foods.

DIL Tami Enright, who helped pioneer the Bee Cause and helms it now, sends me this delicious Tupelo honey from the Savannah Bee Company, the original sponsor of Bee Cause. (The Bee Cause Project seeks to provide habitat for endangered bees and now has hives in all 50 states.)

Tupelo honey is absolutely delicious and rare. Bees make it from Tupelo trees that grow in wet swampy soil. The blossoms on the trees have a very limited life span. The honey has a unique taste that is very different from our own local honey here in Maine.

Savannah Bee sells and ships this honey. It would make really lovely gifts during the holidays. Or, anytime. Be sure to order a bottle for yourself if you place an order.

Written by louisaenright

September 29, 2020 at 8:20 am

It’s A Chicken Soup Day

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Turkey Tracks: September 20, 2020

It’s A Chicken Soup Day

Our temps are dropping pretty low at night now and for the next few days will not reach 70 during the day. It’s Chicken Soup time!

I start by dragging out my big Creuset cast iron/enamel pot, melting in some duck fat, and sautéing whatever savory veggies I have on hand. This time I have leeks, just harvested onion, carrots, celery, a celeriac bulb, and a zucchini. And, herbs and salt, always herbs and salt. (I have chopped cabbage too, but am withholding it for the moment.) See that brown on the bottom of one side of this pot—that’s what I’m aiming for—brown but not burned. It’s that brown stuff that gives the soup a deep flavor.

Meanwhile, I roughly chopped a whole package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I bought on sale. There are at least 12 in the package. I love the thighs for soup as they have so much flavor.

When the veggies are getting too hot, I stir in the meat, which cools everything down.

I like short-grain rice for a soup. It stands up better than a long-grain type so it does not disintegrate into the soup.

I mix it in when the meat is mostly done and let it cook a bit with the mixture. AND NOTE: if you have a Creuset pot, do not use metal utensils with it—except to dip out the soup with a metal dipper. Metal tools can weaken the enamel and cause it to crack and chip over time. I have two of these pots—this is the bigger, newer one. My 5-quart smaller, older one is over 40 years old and is going strong.

I add my chopped fresh cabbage at this stage—I don’t like for cabbage to over cook as that is what gives a soup the too-cabbagy taste.

When the cabbage is mixed in, I add water and taste for salt. I add water until the pot is about an inch or so from the top.

While the soup heats, I chop some fresh Italian parsley I had on hand—it will top the soup when it is done.

After I bring the soup to a good simmer, I cover it and turn the heat down very very low and cook it until the rice is done—usually about 35 to 40 minutes. This pot is very heavy and does not have to be watched every 5 minutes or so. You will need to check and recheck with a thinner pot. Don’t let it all boil—that makes all the veggies way, way too soft.

I made this soup in the morning, so I pulled off what I wanted to reheat for lunch and put it in a separate smaller pot. I left the soup on the stove, uncovered, until it cooled thoroughly, which can take a hour or more. Then I filled one of my silicone bags (I LOVE THESE) for the freezer—they are absolutely no-leak when sealed. Then I put the rest of the soup in a bowl and cleaned my pot. I can dip out of this bowl and reheat what I want to eat. I do not reheat the whole bowl as it makes the soup ingredients too soft.

If I find I’m not eating the whole thing in two days and I’m tired of it, I just freeze the rest for another day. I would not keep the soup without reheating the whole thing after 2 days.

On other meals, to change things up, one can top the soup with yogurt or heavy cream or thin it with some milk for a cream soup. One can add other ingredients as well: cooked beans, greens, corn, tomatoes, cheeses that melt on top, etc. I added corn kernels after the first day.

I am eating mine with a side of goat cheese smeared on good quality corn tortilla chips. If it’s corn, I’m all in. I can also heat a corn tortilla in the oven and put mozzarella on top to melt.

Is it time for YOU to make a hearty fall soup?

Written by louisaenright

September 20, 2020 at 10:05 am

A Yummy Lunch and Progress on the Design Wall

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Turkey Tracks: September 19, 2020

A Yummy Lunch and Progress on the Design Wall

I’ve had a gastro thing from the histamine issue I have so I have been eating cooked food—rather than my beloved big salad—for lunch. And fruit is a no-no right now as well. (But all is so much better now as I write—stress causes this gastro reaction, as well as various triggers—and we are living in truly stressful times these days.)

***Stress made more so by the very sad death of RBG yesterday. I’m taking a deep breath and thinking of her as I write here.

The other day I had these fresh veggies on hand, so I popped them into a pan with heated duck fat and some dried herbs. And, salt. Good sea salt. Aren’t they pretty? A feast for the eyes already.

I had some cooked chicken drumsticks that reheated in the oven while I sautéed the veggies and cooked this fragrant basmanti rice.

Yes, I know it is very processed rice, but it cooks in 10 minutes, smells heavenly, tastes wonderfully, and I thought it might add some needed bulk to my system. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I will confess I just bought this new package of it. Oh my…

Voila! A tasty and hearty lunch.

Lunch is my first meal of the day, so cooked or salad, it is a hearty meal for me. The fat in this meal holds me until dinner time, so there is no snacking through the day. Except for a coffee some time in the afternoon. When I really want a treat, AC and I go downtown to Zoot coffee where I get a not-too-sweet maple syrup latte with whip cream to go. AC loves the whip cream. Me, too. Napkins are involved in that endeavor.

And here’s the design wall. I’m looking forward to sewing these blocks into a top. It’s been a really fun project—a leader/ender that took over the design wall, so became a primary project. (Yesterday I started sewing the rows together—and—YEAH—they are matching up beautifully.)

I wanted to sprinkle in low-volume pieces through the top. I wanted to make blocks that “popped” with their combinations. And I wanted to use up 3 1/2 inch strips from my storage bins as well as making some sort of dent in my stash, especially by using up small pieces living there.

And look at this EPP project that now has two rows finished—out of six.

This project is the 36-Ring Circus EPP project—that is a riff on a classic wedding ring quilt.

This one has been VERY slow going for me as it is HARD. But, wow. Suddenly it is seeming like maybe it is worth doing. The centers are, so far, all Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society. The rings are pastels. And the rest are darker solids. There will be 6 rows finished.

So…

I will keep going this winter.

Right now I’m sewing down binding on a finished quilt that just came off the longarm—where I had a lot of fun doodling designs. And today I will put “On Point” from The Color Collective (Denyse Schmidt) on the longarm—God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise, as my dad used to say.

Written by louisaenright

September 19, 2020 at 9:22 am

It Makes No Sense…

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Turkey Tracks: September 6, 2020

It Makes No Sense…

…to cook just ONE ear of corn at a time.

It takes a bit pot of water and a lot of energy to heat the water for one ear of corn.

I usually cook 4 at a time. I eat one or two for whatever meal I’m cooking and let the remaining ears cool on a plate. It takes about 10 seconds each to remove the corn kernels with a sharp knife. Then I have a food asset in the refrigerator.

This week I got a beautiful head of Bok Choy in my weekly food pick-up from my Community Shared Agriculture farm Hope’s Edge.

After working in the garden all morning, I came inside hungry and tired. While I warmed up two chicken drumsticks in the oven, I got out the Bok Choy and sautéed it in some duck fat (add some herbs, garlic, and good salt) and when it was done, I added some of my saved corn kernels just long enough to heat them.

Can I just say this was a DELICIOUS mixture. Both the Bok Choy and the corn have a certain sweetness—as does the duck fat.

Best of all, I had leftovers, which I added to a stir fry I cooked for dinner.

The local corn may be “done” now for the year. It has been so good this year: so sweet and tender. I already miss it.

Written by louisaenright

September 6, 2020 at 10:12 am

Some of This; Some of That

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Turkey Tracks: September 4, 2020

Some of This; Some of That

A bit of leftover cooked rice.

Half of a baked, meatloaf stuffed green pepper.

An egg.

Lots of veggies.

A small, fresh pickling cucumber.

Duck fat.

Why not make some fried rice for lunch?

Sauté veggies in the duck fat. When they begin to sweat, add some chopped fresh garlic, whatever herbs float your boat, and salt. Here I roughly chopped and cooked a handful of cauliflower bits, half of a small zucchini, a small bright yellow pitty-pan squash, half a red pepper, and some sliced fresh sweet onion. I added some cooked corn I took off the cob last night with the rice. When that was mixed up and warm, I added the chopped up baked green pepper—it had a hamburger meatloaf mixture inside—and mixed everything up well before breaking a fresh egg into the pan and mixing it in until it was totally cooked.

Delicious! And I have some leftover for dinner as a side dish.

Written by louisaenright

September 5, 2020 at 9:55 am

Summer Pleasures: Ad Hoc Cooking

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Turkey Tracks: July 25, 2020

Summer Pleasures: Ad Hoc Cooking

Yesterday evolved into a “foodie” day in part.

I took AC to the dog park for a pleasant hour in the morning and then came home HUNGRY.

I love that my little grill is “all ready to go” on my back deck this year and that when I fire it up, it is hot in under 15 minutes. I splashed some olive oil, salt, and herbs on some chicken tenders and they cooked in 6 minutes flat. AND smelled delicious.

I have a bag full of arugula from Hope’s Edge, so used that as a layer under the salad I made. I absolutely LOVE sweet onion and eat it raw. It is sweet and crunchy and, more importantly, is a great source of sulfur which is so important for human health and which is lacking in our commercially produced vegetables today. The herb is raw dill, which I can’t seem to get enough of these days. And we now have those small cucumbers in the local markets that are so tender.

I also had a package of defrosted lamb stew chunks that needed using. And a bag of beets with their greens from Hope’s Edge. While I sauteed the meat in beef tallow in my heavy Creuset cast iron/enamel pot, I peeled the beets with a peeler, and cleaned and chopped the beet greens, including the stalks on the leaves. The bottom parts of the stalk are like celery, and I threw those into the meat pan, alongside chopped garlic scapes, herbs, and salt. I took out some tiny new red potatoes, peeled some white carrots, chopped the green onions that came also from Hope’s Edge, and cut some sweet onion that went into the meat pot.

The pot went into the oven for 45 minutes—with garlic scapes, the beet green stalks, the onion, herbs, salt for 45 minutes.

While I was at it, I prepped the BIG bunch of kale from Hope’s Edge. I love the lavender color of the stems, but I just tear off the leaves from the stem with my hands and put the stems in the compost.

I drop the leaves into a pot of boiling water until they wilt down. No more than 5 minutes of cooking as you don’t want to cook them to death. Drain. Refresh with cold water until you can pick up the mass with your hands and chop it. Half went into the freezer and half is waiting for me to heat it in butter in a pan—which I could just eat as a side veggie or put into an omelet with cheese on top. YOU could add some nutmeg to the butter.

I wanted some rice for some reason, so I measured out a cup, added salt and some butter, and let the pot sit on the top of the oven until I got ready to finish dinner. It never hurts to let rice soak a bit. It will cook faster.

The meat pot came out of the oven and was left to cool on top of the stove, uncovered.

Thirty or so minutes before I wanted dinner, I heated the oven (350), added a little more water and heated my meat pot on the stove, added my prepped veggies (NOT the beet greens), covered it and cooked it in the oven for 30 or so minutes. Cook until the potatoes are soft inside. Then I stirred in the beet greens, recovered the pot, and cooked for another 5-6 minutes.

Yummo!

The “bread” is a corn tortilla toasted in the oven with bits of raw butter and salt on top. The organic fruit is the last of the cantaloup I’ve been eating, fresh red cherries, and a sliced nectarine. And, an after dinner coffee with raw honey and raw milk and cream.

More yummo! And I have food for today so can play.

Written by louisaenright

July 25, 2020 at 9:54 am